A Simplified Life: Chores

Simplified_LifeThe first ministry I have been given is to be a Keeper of my home. The Lord has shown me this must come first. If my home is not in order, I might want to reconsider participating in outside activities until they are.

To help me with this, and to better teach our children how to properly care for their own homes, a chore routine has been established:

Our routine is as follows:

Mondays: adult laundry and bathrooms (thorough cleaning)
Tuesdays: children’s laundry, floors, and dusting (blinds/furniture/ceiling fans)                                                     Wednesdays: linens and bathrooms (thorough cleaning)
Thursdays: kitchen cupboards/hallway walls (whichever needs it most), grocery shopping
Fridays: library and errands
Weekends: surface cleaning of any areas in need

Considering it is currently summer time, now is my opportunity to put this schedule to the
test. Is this working for me? Perhaps I need to change some days around to make things work better. I also want to start taking notice of when is the best time to do my chores. I don’t necessarily set a specific time, but setting up blocks of time gives me a general idea of where I might have “free time”.

Chores being designated and set in place, I now want to start having the kiddos get in on the game. Even my youngest helps out. Each of my kiddos is given a task and we all work until the job is done. Our kids need to learn the value of a job well done, working together, and being responsible. Mommy handles the washing of the laundry, but the kiddos help fold and put their own laundry away. Mommy cleans the basins, but the kiddos do the mirrors, floors, and counters in the bathrooms. We have the joy of working side by side and encouraging each other in doing a good job. They will often hear me saying, “Good job, little man! Keep it up honey, you are going to be a pro at keeping your home when you are a mommy, T!” The kids learn to enjoy their chores, have fun working together, and take pride in their work. To help keep track of everyone’s chores, we have created THIS fun chore chart.

Two things I should point out. One, while the kids are young, they are going to make mistakes. Try not to clean up their messes in front of them. Wait until they are out of sight and preoccupied, then straighten things up. This will prevent them from getting discouraged, but still keep your house to the level of clean you might like. The second is this, be prepared that the kids will complain from time to time. Let’s be honest; work is work! Don’t give in and do the chores yourself! You are only making your job harder in the long run and robbing them of the joy of responsibility.

With a routine set in place and a fun chore chart printed, we are taking yet another step towards simplifying life.

“For each will have to bear his own load.”
Galatians 6:5

🔔Time to Chime In: How do you keep track of your children’s chores? We’d love to hear about it!

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So, You Want to Start a Group?

I didn’t want to do this, not really. My selfish thoughts ran more along the lines simply being present and lending a helping hand once in a while, not to leading the entire program. I wasn’t looking to organize, I was looking to receive. (sigh) The Lord, on the other hand, had an entirely different plan.

Keepers #2 (5/11)

Five years ago, the Lord pushed (and I do mean pushed) me into starting a Keepers at Home group. There were very few in our area and my girls had specific ideas about what they were looking for. With a lot of prayer and a great deal of planning, we started out. As it turns out, this is a great deal of fun! We’ve had such a blast and we’ve enjoyed so many special moments!

Since then, I’ve been asked several times how we did it. What helped us get things organized and what did we learn along the way? For those considering their own KOF group, perhaps some of these tips might come in handy:

Pray!: (Notice the exclamation point.) Our first step was to do a lot of praying. I wanted to make sure this really was God’s calling and not me jumping the gun. Any ministry which is taken on out of selfish gain or pride, is not of the Lord. Pray that He would give you direction, guide your steps, and make clear what He would have you to learn.

Define Your Purpose: Before you can really get down to brass tacks, you need to determine what you (and/or your child) want to get out of this group. Are you hoping to merely socialize or learn more specific skills? I would highly recommend picking a mission verse and statement to help you; this removes guess-work and makes it easier to share your goal with others who might like to join in.

Time Manage: Organizing a group is much easier when you have a predetermined time and date set in place. Decide how often you want to meet and how long you would like each meeting to last. This will help you plan out which activities are feasible or which might need several weeks worth of work. (Our group meets the first and third Tuesday of each month, from 3-5p.m.) Find out what works best for you (as you are going to have to lead and be present for each meeting) and then go with it!

Keepers #9 (3-8)

Outline Activities: Now that you know which days you are meeting, write those down for the duration of your “year” and start plugging in activities you’d like to cover. You can use activities from a book, online inspiration, personal projects you wish to tackle, or even Pinterest. Our group attempts to cover one new subject each month, with a patch earned for each one. Don’t feel you need to move as quickly though! Do one per quarter or one per semester; whichever works best for your group or family.

“But all things should be done decently and in order.”  I Corinthians 14:40

Cash Flow:  You have all your ideas tentatively set into place, now comes the practical portion of the planning. Do you plan to collect dues to cover expenses and how much will you need to cover all of the materials? Would you prefer each girl to bring her own materials instead and pay nothing? Honestly, the best method is to determine how much money will be needed on a monthly average and charge dues. You will not need to worry about girls forgetting materials or not being prepared. You can have everything ready to go and meetings run more smoothly. Take into account how much families can afford to pay, especially if they have multiple children. Is fifteen dollars per month too much? Is five too little to cover expenses? Go back over your outline and get a feel for the money flow. If you find some activities might be too costly, you might wish to switch to another or perhaps make it a long-term project, where finances can be stretched out over several months to accommodate it. Collect dues at the beginning of each month, this way the girls become familiar with the pattern.

Note: I would suggest your first month of meetings be on a social level, with no materials being needed. This allows you to build up a treasury, without having to “pay yourself back” right from the get-go. Your first month’s dues will fund your second month’s activities and so forth; no paying yourself back for money paid out-of-pocket!

Keepers #6 (6/11)

Prep Work: Okay, one last time…. Go back over your outline and determine if any of these activities require too much prep time on your behalf. The purpose of this group is for the children to do the work; not you!! Don’t overwork yourself with prep, which can be time-consuming and take away from your own family time. If any of your activities require a great deal of prep time, consider making that one meeting in-and-of itself, with the girls doing all the prep. If that is not an option, wait until the girls are bigger to go with that activity; unless, of course, you are willing to spend hours getting materials ready to go. That is completely up to you!

Additional Activities: Hooray! You know what the purpose of this group is and you have your activity outline. Now, it is time to start putting in the finer details. Do you want to include a short devotion at the beginning of each meeting? If so, where do you plan to get your devotion and who will be giving it each week? Do you want to include a snack time? Who should provide snack and what type? If you plan to pass out awards/patches, at what time would that work into your routine and where do you plan to obtain those awards?

(As an example, our group meets from 3-5p.m. We start with ten minutes of free time, then have devotion for twenty minutes, do our activity for an hour, have snack for fifteen, clean up for ten, and then finish with awards/patches; closing in prayer. Our devotions are currently being given by myself, but we have had other mothers step up and teach as well. Snacks are provided by the girls; one girl signs up each week and brings a homemade dish which she prepared herself.)

Determine Involvement: One thing you need to take into account with any new group, is how much involvement you would like to receive. Determine how many children you will allow into the group before capping it off. Decide the age group which may participate. (I’ve had mothers of four-year olds who want to join ours, which is a bit too young.) Also, be firm about parental involvement. Is it an option for parents to leave or do they need to stay? If you are starting a group specifically for girls or boys, be clear about which gender of parent may attend the meeting with them.

Keepers #5 (5/14)

Registration/Insurance: I would love to tell you that all will run smoothly with your group and all the parents will be actively involved; that, unfortunately, is not always the case. For your own safety, have a registration form for all participating kids. This form should not only have an emergency contact number, in case parents don’t stay, but an insurance release portion. In the event of emergency, you will not be held liable for anything which happens to other children. This might also be a good time to determine if any children have an allergy issue, like peanuts, which might need to be accommodated.

Be Flexible: No group runs smoothly from the get-go. Test out a few meetings with close friends and start to refine your routine. Don’t get discouraged if things are a little bumpy at first, work with the group and figure out what works best for you. 

Keep in Touch: Groups work best when everyone stays informed and communication is open. Use emails to keep your group informed of upcoming meetings, materials they might need to bring (such as an apron), reminders of who is bringing snack, or other pertinent information. Your group will appreciate it and it will make your life that much easier.

Seek Permission: If you are planning on running this group through your church, this is the last step you ought to take. After all your organizing is accomplished, go talk with your pastor’s wife or whomever is in charge. It is always a good idea to keep your church informed of internal goings on, especially if you plan to invite other members of the body. This is a great opportunity for them to impart wisdom, offer assistance, and simply pray with you. If not, no worries then; you are free to get busy and have some fun!

Wow! Was that an eye-full or what? Who knew there was so much involved in organizing a KOF group?

Keepers #3 (1of 9)Please keep in mind, all of this is completely optional. You can, and ought, to run your own group in the manner God leads. As I mentioned from the beginning; pray! Allow Christ to lead your group; with Him in charge, you can’t go wrong!

Okay, KOF leaders…. What helpful advice would you give to new groups, just starting out?

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live… Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good…..” – Titus 2:3-8

Keepers #10 (2013-2014)

Wow! You blink and two weeks of your life flash by. Before you know it, another Keepers meeting is at hand and there are a multitude of things which need to be done. This meeting, we chose to spend a little more time on teaching the girls how to prepare some tasty treats.

Our second meeting of February was on the subject of chocolate! There is so much to talk about when it comes to this delicious topic: where it grows; how it grows; how it is made; various types of chocolate; and more!

One specific topic we discussed with the girls was how to properly melt chocolate. Most of us probably do not own double boilers, not being chocolatiers and all. However, there are also various other methods of melting chocolate. You could use your microwave or buy candy melts. One handy tool which you might want to consider… your slow cooker!

Yup; that’s right! You can use your slow cooker to melt chocolate. Who knew? (Well, apparently someone clever figured this out and was kind enough to share it with the rest of us.) Simply dust off your slow cooker, fill it about half way with water, turn it on (I sometimes forget to do this; sad, I know!), place your chocolate into a glass container, and then place the glass into the warming water. Allow about twenty minutes to a half hour for the chocolate to melt and then, go for it!

For our purposes, we used glass mason jars and filled them with chocolate chips. I did this instead of one large glass container because I knew we would be distributing the chocolate amongst about fifteen girls; one container for all of them to share would have just been chaotic. Instead, I used mason jars and just doled out chocolate into smaller dishes which they had in front of them.

A few notes on using your slow cooker as a double boiler… First; when using this method, do not put a lid on your crock pot. Condensation, would do harm to the chocolate; making it thick and hard to work with. Leave the lid off! Second; be very careful not to get any water into the chocolate while working with it. Again, water and chocolate do not go well together. Lastly; if you want to use candy melts, instead of good quality baking chocolate, forgo the water and jars, placing the melts directly into the crock pot. Stir the candy every few minutes and then use when fully melted. With either the double boiler or the candy melt method, the chocolate will stay smooth for several hours! There is no need to rush through your project, you have plenty of time; making this method of melting chocolate quite superior!

After those important notes were attended to, we got to the fun. Bananas, apples, sprinkles, Kool Whip (a good substitute for those with lactose intolerance), cherries, and raspberries were made available and the girls were free to have some fun!

Chocolate Delight

Chocolate Delight #2

Notice the squeeze bottle, which also contains chocolate. Such an easy method of having melted chocolate on hand for fancy decorating!

Chocolate Delight #3 Chocolate Delight #4 Chocolate Delight #5Our girls had so much fun. Once the materials were handed out, they were free to explore their internal chocolatiers! Plus, who doesn’t like a bit of chocolate now and again?

How do you melt chocolate for your baking needs?

Keepers #9 (2013-2014)

Our last Keepers meeting knocked me for a loop. We discovered one of our girls was being put on a stricter diet, thus eliminating a few key ingredients for this month’s activities.  Eeeek! I needed to make a few quick adjustments in order to help accommodate our girls and help everyone feel comfortable.

While the task was a little more challenging than I anticipated (who knew eating gluten-free/lactose free could be so involved?), I am proud to say we were able to find exactly what we needed. Hooray!

(Mommies who choose or need to be on a more strict diet, you have my utmost respect.)

For the month of February we wanted to focus on sweets. It is the month for Valentines, is it not? What better than a few goodies to help us celebrate. Sugar is always fun, but we also wanted to expose the girls to a few healthy alternatives which are just as tasty!

Keepers #9 (1-8)

Going over some of the finer details of the recipe, before getting to the fun.

Keepers #9 (2-8)

Gathering our ingredients and learning to measure properly.

Keepers #9 (3-8)

Starting our no-bake, energy bites. Yummy!

Keepers #9 (4-8)

Digging right in and making a fun mess!

Keepers #9 (5-8)

Look, mom; messy hands!

Keepers #9 (6-8)

Look at those hands! Hers are the cleanest in the bunch, having licked them fully! (Too cute!)

Keepers #9 (7-8)

All of our ingredients were gluten/lactose/peanut free. No easy feat!

Keepers #9 (8-8)

We ended a little early, so we ran outside to play. When asked why the girls thought we ended so quickly, they loudly replied, “IT WAS FOOD!”

THIS recipe proved to be a huge success! Not only did the girls have fun, but it was incredibly delicious. We had a great time getting our hands dirty and learning a new recipe.

For those who are concerned about allergies, feel free to substitute any of the ingredients with healthier options. I used hazelnut butter, in place of peanut butter; gluten-free oatmeal; and gluten-free flax-seed in our recipe. Goodness all around!

The girls had so much fun, we ended quite a bit early. They decided they wanted to head outside for a little fresh air and exercise, so we did!

Another successful Keepers meeting under our belts! Only seven more to go before the year is over. If you would, please keep this group in prayer. I think the Lord is going to bring about some major changes in this department during the coming year. As always, we wish to align ourselves with His will and bring Him glory. Thanks!

Do you have a favorite energy bite recipe? (There so many out there!)

Keepers #8 (2013-2014)

Well, we are back in action. I confess, I was very nervous the night before. Did I have everything; was I ready; were the girls going to show? As usual, I needn’t have worried about a thing; God had it all under control.

To start off the second half of the year, we wanted to review healthy eating. After the holidays, it can be very hard to put a halt to our sugar intake and refuel our bodies with things more healthy to digest. This was the perfect time to go over the food pyramid, proper portioning, and learn a few new recipes.

Keepers #8 (1-5)

Eating fruit salad, sweetened with honey and freshly squeezed blood oranges.

Keepers #8 (2-5)

Making our own ranch dressing with buttermilk.

Keepers #8 (3-5)

The girls were anxious to mix their own dressing….

Keepers #8 (4-5)

…and give it a try! Eating our salad was yummy.

Keepers #8 (5-5)

Adding buttermilk to our dressing.

Our recipe for salad dressing came from THIS awesome website. I made the ‘bulk’ spice mixture at home and prepped our salad, but in group the girls made their own dressing. We used condiment bottles easily found at any Wal-Mart or Target to shake up and serve our dressing; this made things nice and easy on the girls. They were free to take their bottles home so they could use them in the future on other cooking projects or to recreate the dressing on their own time.

After exploring the world of homemade dressing, we spent a little time talking about fruit salad and enjoying a sample. We talked about the importance of not using sugars in the fruit, but instead supplementing with local honey and freshly squeezed oranges. We also spent a little time talking about the benefits of vitamin C, not only bodily, but in the presentation of the fruit itself (it keeps apples from browning).

Interestingly, after all that food, we still had snack! This brought up an interesting dilemma. It appears one of our girls switched over to a gluten-free/lactose free diet unbeknownst to us! I didn’t know what to do. Luckily one of the little girls who provided snack brought oranges.

However, now I am going to have to come up with a game plan for future meetings. Perhaps I should bring a plate of gluten-free chocolate chip to each meeting, just in case? I don’t want all of our families to worry about this, so I think it should be on me. I suppose I could ask the little girl’s mom to bring a personal snack, but that doesn’t feel right. Hmmm… this might take some thought.

What is your favorite, healthy snack?

Keepers Meeting #6 (2013-2014)

Another Keepers meeting went off without a hitch. This week we finished up our lessons on fall crafting, learned some table etiquette (just in time for the holidays), and got a few new patches to show off our hard work.

Keepers #6 (1/11)

Teaching the little ones how a proper table is set.

Keepers #6 (2/11)

Creating crafted candles for our holiday tables.

Keepers #6 (3/11)

Keepers #6 (4/11)

Building our candles with cinnamon sticks.

Keepers #6 (5/11)

Great job; keep up the good work!

Keepers #6 (6/11)

That looks so nice!

Keepers #6 (7/11) Keepers #6 (8/11)

Keepers #6 (9/11)

Snack time!

Keepers #6 (10/11)

Keepers #6 (11/11)

Our birthday girls.

Today’s craft was so much fun and fairly easy! The tricky part? Getting enough cinnamon sticks for all these girls. Who knew it took so many? Thankfully we had just enough to get us through.

Our lessons in etiquette came just in time for the holidays. Hopefully these ladies will be shining examples of proper young ladies, no matter where they spend their holidays.

With two patches earned today, both for etiquette and fall fun, these girls put in a lot of good work! Next time… our Christmas celebration! That should be a lot of fun.

Keepers #4 (2013-2014)

Another great Keepers meeting passed this week. This week we wrapped up lessons on making our own jewelry.

Button Necklaces #1

Cutting out our templates.

Button Necklaces #2

Tracing and cutting the felt.

Button Necklaces #4

One of the girls got creative with her scraps; a moment of fun.

Button Necklaces #5

Buttons!

Button Necklaces #6

More buttons!

Button Necklaces #7

The finished product

Button Necklaces #8

Yet another great necklace.

Button Necklaces #9

Working together is always fun.

Button Necklaces #10

Snack time!

Button Necklaces #11

One of our birthday girls.

Button Necklaces #12

Another of our birthday girls.

Button Necklaces #13

Sisters and friends…

Button Necklaces #14

Great job, girls!

Inspiration for our project came from THIS awesome pin. I liked the idea of incorporating buttons and this seemed like a fairly simple project for their little hands. (Note: instead of hot glue, we used tacky glue. I didn’t want to worry about the girls burning their fingers and the purpose is to have the girls do the work, not the mommies.)

It seems we all get a longer break; three weeks until our next meeting. November brings some exciting fall crafts and activities for us all!

p.s.
I’m making one of these for myself, but need to get more vintage buttons. I have a few, but am not quite there yet. I’ll definitely be posting a few pictures when it’s done!

Keepers #3 (2013-2014)

Being the first Tuesday of the month, another Keepers meeting was in order! The fun never stops around here; this event proved to be just as exciting as those last month. Our focus for October: jewelry making!

Keepers #3 (1of 9) Keepers #3 (2of 9) Keepers #3 (3of 9) Keepers #3 (4of 9) Keepers #3 (5of 9) Keepers #3 (6of 9) Keepers #3 (7of 9) Keepers #3 (8of 9) Keepers #3 (9of 9)During the month of October, we are teaching the girls how to make simple jewelry items for themselves and for gifts. Today’s lesson was on making beaded bracelets; very simple and yet unique to each girl.

The girls did a great job and had lots of fun! It was a joy to watch them working together and learning some new skills.

Next meeting: button necklaces!

Keepers #2 (2013-2014)

This week was our second Keepers meeting of the year. We laughed, we ate, and we got covered in freckles. It’s always a good afternoon with the girls.

Keepers #2 (1/11)

Doing devotion always starts things off right.

Keepers #2 (2/11)

Playing games with hula-hoops.

Keepers #2 (3/11)

More hula-hoop fun.

Keepers #2 (4/11)

Freckle fun with the mommies. Who has the most freckles?

Keepers #2 (5/11)

We laughed so hard; good, clean fun.

Keepers #2 (6/11)

Our “freckle juice”.

Keepers #2 (7/11)

My daughter looks like she has chicken pox, not freckles.

Keepers #2 (8/11)

Playing a fun game of tag with clothes pins.

Keepers #2 (9/11)

Choo-Choo Matching Games. What word do YOU have?

Keepers #2 (10/11)

Tell me your word; quick!

Keepers #2 (11/11)

Our birthday girls of the month.

Our meeting was a lot of fun. We started off with a short devotion on friendship. I was a little concerned about writing my own, but I found THIS neat website. I was able to find a beautiful devotion about developing friends.

It was then time for some outdoor fun, so we headed out onto the green and got busy. We played a few hula-hoop games, a freckle fun game, clothespin tag, and finally some group word games.

Oh, my! I think we had too much fun. (If that’s possible.) It certainly seemed to fly by though. Before we knew it, the day was over.

Two whole weeks before more fun commences!

Keepers Begins! (2013-2014)

One of the many fun aspects of homeschooling, is the extra curricular activities which we are free to participate in and help with. One of my daughters’ favorites… Keepers of the Home!

Today was the first meeting of the 2013-2014 school year. While most of us are homeschool families, we are blessed with having others join us as well. It looks to be a fun year. We have a whole new crop of girls, with a few who have returned. Who knows where this year will take us. (Well, I have a general idea as I kind of organized it, but the rest is up for grabs.)

Our first meeting was all about getting to know one another and going over the basics with our new families. As always, it was lots of fun!

Keepers #1

Keepers #2 Keepers #3 Keepers #4 Keepers #5 Keepers #6 Keepers #7 Keepers #9

This looks to be an exciting year! I can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do with these young ladies and through these activities. It will be fantastic, no matter what!

Is your local Keepers group (or Contenders group) starting back up, now that summer is just about over?