Introducing the Letters & Sounds Series


Introducing the Letters & Sounds Series

I have been busy this summer doing some private tutoring as well as teaching a few small groups in my home. It was fun to teach in my home in a super relaxed environment of fewer students (and less homework since it was “summer school,” and parents wanted about half the normal amount of homework for their kids).


Additionally, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with a special needs student on her letters and sounds. (In case you ever wonder what the best age of kids is, I stand firm in my conviction that the best is four to six year old, followed closely by every other age!)


Shopping Day: Stir Fried Veggies Side Dish and Fruit Salad

Shopping Day: Stir Fried Veggies Side Dish and Fruit Salad

One of our many traditions/housekeeping rituals is that of cleaning out the refrigerator on grocery shopping day (which now with six “adults,” ages fourteen to over fifty living here is twice a week!). Everybody starts carrying in groceries, and as they are carried in, I sort them and bark out orders: “The SMALL deep freeze; not the big one. I need to be able to find this on Wednesday!” etc. etc. Also, while they carry (and I sort), I clean out the inside refrigerator and have people bring things in from the garage refrigerator. (Yeah, I am a mean multi-tasker after thirty years of homemaking/parenting/homeschooling/working!)

Anyway, all of this is going in WITH teenage boys talking about their day, our college age daughter going over her schedule with Mom or Dad (“Is it okay if I leave in ten minutes to run, so I can get five miles in before it gets dark?”), the dog pulling things out of the trash can as I put things in, and, of course, a radio drama playing in the kitchen cd player. (Yes, I can work with a lot of noise too, another survival skill developed through the years!)

Usually, one of these shopping days falls on “leftover night,” so I start organizing food for that night’s meal, “re-loading” (as my kids call it) some of the leftovers so that they look new, and cutting up old fruits and veggies  before we put away the new ones. Someone will be called upon to make a quick fruit salad out of leftover fruits–and somebody will often start chopping leftover veggies to create a quick side dish to go with the main entree leftovers that we usually have.

We have gotten pretty good at throwing together fresh vegetable stir fries fairly quickly. We have variations on this side dish another night–we almost always have a chicken-veggie stir fry or beef veggie stir fry as one of our main entress each week. That night is is more involved and time consuming (cutting up meats, marinating meats, all the chopping and dicing and stir frying required for two huge pans of main dish meat/veggie stir fries). And, unfortunately, I don’t have much help on that night!

However, for “shopping day stir fried veggies” as a side dish, it is literally anything available chopped by whomever is available. I’ll give you some steps on tonight’s version, though it changes according to what’s left in the fridge on shopping day, who is home to help prepare veggies, and how many are there to eat it. (Leftover stir fry is not one of my family’s favorites!)

Tonight’s Version:

1 lb baby carrots
1 small zuchinni
6 oz snow peas
1 large green pepper
1 onion
1 lb brocolli
Mrs. Dash
oyster sauce
soy sauce
beef or chicken broth*

*Note: I seldom use oil to make a stir fry. If I do, it is just a little olive oil or coconut oil. I usually use broth to “fry” my stir fries

+I am a big pre-cooker. And I precook in the microwave, despite what some say about the microwave. It steams brocolli perfectly, and it is fast. So…

1.  Steam carrots in micro. (I put carrots with a tablespoon or two of broth in glass measure and cover with plastic wrap. Then I steam for three to six minutes, depending on how many carrots I have and how done I want them before I add them to the stir fry pan.)

2. Heat small amount of broth in skillet while chopping onions, garlic, and  peppers.

3. Stir fry aromatics (the three in #2) while you pull out the carrots.

4. Clean and chop brocolli and start steaming it in the micro in the same way as the carrots.

5. Slice zuchinni in thin rounds.

6. Add carrots, zuchinni, pea pods, garlic, Mrs. Dash, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and more broth, as needed and turn fire on medium high. Stir frequently as they cook.

7. When stir fry has just a minute or two left of cooking time, fold in the brocolli. (My guys do not like mushy brocolli, so I fold it in at the end.)

8. Continue to add more broth as needed while cooking.

And it looks like the picture below! 🙂

day 221: organization—personal organizational strategies: prioritize your work day iii of iv

Yesterday I described my “daily” and “weekly” lists that I have utilized to get things done throughout my parenting years. Today I want to give some examples of these lists, for those asking exactly what a daily or weekly list looks like.

Remember, your “dailies” and “weeklies” will not be the same as anybody else’s! My lists of what I do each day, each week, and even each month are based on my priorities—the things that I have predetermined are those activities that I want to spend my life on. They are not made haphazardly based on the “tyranny of the urgent” (usually not—we all sink into that, of course). They are based on what I know I should be about each day.

For example, when I had a few small children, without a lot of daily help (since the kids were too young to do many chores, my “daily” list (for weekdays) consisted of the following “categories” (too much to list each task here!). Under each item there were usually sub steps or multiple items (i.e. Meet with Kayla for writing; Meet with Kara for reading; etc.).


-Check on each child’s school checklist

-Fill in lesson plan book

-“Tutoring sessions” with each child in various areas (i.e. language arts; math; etc.)

-Two reading sessions per day with new reader

-History read aloud

-Activities with preschoolers

Kids General—

-Morning Bible/character training

-Story time

-One on one time with one child

-Littles’ one on one time

-Feed baby many times!

-Myriad of activities/needs of little kids! (not on the list, but time consuming nonetheless!)


-Chore chart check ups

-Maintain daily schedule with kids (i.e. keep kids on task with our daily schedule)

-Fix breakfast

-Clean breakfast with kids


-Oversee Joshua and/or Kayla’s lunch preparations

-Oversee lunch clean up

-Two loads dishes

-Two loads laundry

-Two loads trash

-Morning chore session with kids

-Lunch chore session with kids

-Evening chore session with kids

-Too much pick up/mess cleaning to write on a list!

-Seasonal—things changed with each physical season as we always had a lot of acreage to mow and tend to, and I took care of the outside since Ray worked so many hours at the plant)




-Grooming/hair, etc.


-My lunch break (very important to me—thirty to sixty mins when I ate and read homeschooling/parenting books with nobody needing anything!!!)


-Family dinner

-Family dinner clean up

-Family devotions

-Husband-wife meeting

-Time alone with one or more kids

-Reading with Ray

-Reading alone

-Time with Ray!

Weekly List

-Library trip

-Grocery shopping


-Call parents

-Lesson plans for next week

-Add to/change/print/copy kids’ chore lists

-Add to/change/print/copy kids’ daily school lists

-Organize school room

-Weekly cleaning (lengthy list)

-Find/organize/return library materials

-Organize toy room with kids

-Tutoring lessons ready (lengthy)

-Prepare for company (lengthy)

-Seasonal weekly jobs, such as mowing, trimming, gardening, etc.

Tomorrow—final day of “dailies and weeklies” and then on to more organizing strategies for busy parents. Thanks for joining us!

day 148: seventy things we love about grandpa

My PP/TFT (Positive Parenting and Training for Triumph) computer is infected with viruses, so I am going to need to take another detour from preschoolers until I get that computer back. That’s okay. With Father’s Day approaching, I wanted to share a neat thing that we did for my dad’s seventieth birthday two years ago. It would make an ideal gift/idea for fathers and grandfathers alike for Father’s Day. I am pasting the article that Dennis Rainey’s FamilyLife ministry put at their website about our special gift to my dad–and the link below will direct you to a picture of it as well (and the article at their site).

Honoring those in authority is something that we have tried hard to instill in our children. Respect and honor for their grandparents is simply the beginning of that. Our children love their grandparents–and the feeling is completely mutual. Why? Obviously, they love the kids because they are their grandparents, but additionally, they appreciate and enjoy an amount of love, respect, and attention that they see few of their peers receiving. Teach your children to honor, serve, love, respect, uplift, encourage, and help their grandparents. It is truly the beginning of teaching our kids the character qualities of loyalty and honor.

                         Seventy Things We Love About Grandpa

                                               by Mary May Larmoyeux

Donna Reish wanted to make her father’s seventieth birthday extra special. “We knew that his daughters and nine grandchildren were the most important things to him,” she says, “so we centered the day around spending time together.”

Donna’s twenty-one-year-old daughter, Cami, came up with the idea of making a list of 70 reasons the grandchildren loved their grandfather. Each grandchild was asked to jot down why they loved Grandpa—specific things he had done with or for them.

“A month before Dad’s seventieth birthday,” Donna says, “[we] had a wonderful surprise birthday party for Dad.” When he returned from a trip to the store, he was greeted by his grandchildren, daughters and sons-in-law. He was completely surprised.

But the most wonderful surprise was the last gift opened. In the middle of a framed collage with pictures of the grandkids all around the outside was the list. Cami read the list out loud as she sat next to her grandfather. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. “As each reason was read,” Donna says, “we all had little flashbacks in our minds and hearts of Dad and that child. It was truly moving.”

Today, Seventy Things We Love About Grandpa, proudly hangs on Grandpa’s wall. “I am sure that when my step-mom goes to the grocery store or runs errands,” Donna says, “Dad stands beneath it and reads and cries again. This was, by far, the most moving, celebratory, affirming gift I have ever given to anyone.”

                            70 Things We Love About GrandpaOne for Each Year!!!

                                               Grandpa, I Love It When….

1. You do special things for us.
2. You make us food we love.
3. You let us watch our favorite shows on your TV.
4. You make us seashells in tomato juice.
5. You take us fishing.
6. You take us to McDonalds.
7. You take us to Silver Town.
8. You read with us.
9. You take us to Wal-mart.
10. You watch football games on TV with us..
11. You read with us when we were learning to read.
12. You take us to Red Lobster.
13. You go to watch our basketball games.
14. You spend time with us.
15. You support us in our ministry opportunities.
16. You save comics out of the paper for us.
17. You let us play with your “noise makers.”
18. You play Phase 10 with us.
19. You make butter bread for us.
20. You watched us in Speech and Debate.
21. You make summer sausages for us.
22. You always give us hugs.
23. You always have kisses for us.
24. You make Christmas special for us.
25. You have special nameplates on your Christmas tree for us.
26. You gave us a “Sharing Box” full of goodies each Christmas.
27. You make our birthdays special.
28. You pass out Christmas gifts at Christmas time.
29. You go to the movies with us.
30. You go and watch the Rocket games with us.
31. You went on trips to Florida with us.
32. You try to “surprise” us.
33. You have sugared cereal at your house for breakfast.
34. You talk to us.
35. You have cookouts at your house.
36. You cooked out on your grill for us.
37. You watch TV sports with us.
38. You play Euchre with us.
39. You play games with us.
40. You played kickball with us.
41. You held us when we were little babies.
42. You are never too busy for us.
43. You were there when Joshua and Lisa got engaged.
44. You taught us to love baseball.
45. You gave us coins to start our coin collection.
46. You give us Legos every year.
47. You took us to the water park.
48. You were snowed in with us.
49. You let us play in the field by your old trailer.
50. You took us to the Blueberry Festival.
51. You took us to the Street Fair.
52. You took us to Bearcreek Farms.
53. You took us to the zoo.
54. You have cookies jars at your house.
55. You let us sleep on your couch at your house.
56. You tell stories about when you were younger.
57. You take us to the Ritz Movie Theatre.
58. You go to all our graduations.
59. You bought us American Girl dolls.
60. You make us your homemade chili.
61. You go watch our plays.
62. You went to our homeschool Expo’s.
63. You talk “sports” with us.
64. You take time for your “every day granddaughter.”
65. You make us smile.
66. You have a funny laugh.
67. You are sweet to us.
68. You give us special snacks to take on our way back to North Carolina.
69. You make us feel special.
70. You are the BEST GRANDPA EVER!

Picture and full article at FamilyLife site:{DD388856-331E-4D96-AF9A-16D69EF92994}¬oc=1

day 116: age appropriate chores pre k/k (ages 5-6)

“Before I knew it, it was time to set the table for lunch. Josiah and I raced to see who could get done with our jobs first. I slowed down at the end so Josiah could catch up—then I let him win! Mommy took me into her room alone and gave me a million hugs. She said she was so happy that I was learning to see how others feel—and that I make Josiah feel important. I think she’ll probably tell Daddy, and he’ll say, “Jonathan, Mommy told me a good report about you!” I love it when he says that—he always has a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes when he does.”*

All of the “Help” and “Chores on his Own” listed in yesterday’s post (toddler and preschool list)


1. Weekly cleaning of his bedroom (see daily cleaning under own chores below)

2. Weekly cleaning of toy room (let him help you develop systems—more on this later)

3. Put refrigerated grocery items away in proper places (again, with him knowing systems well after having worked with you)

4. Learn to run washing machine and dryer—with help and oversight

5. Help wash car

6. Help clean out car—gradually make this alone chore by end of sixth year

7. Help with baking, including rolling out his own dough (that room time play dough helped!), rolling balls of dough for rolls or cookies, stirring, chopping nuts (hit with rolling pin in zip lock bag)

8. Help with meal preparation, including learning to assemble salad with prepared ingredients, layering of ingredients for casseroles, etc., making more elaborate sandwiches like submarines,

9. Help prepare packed lunches

10. Start learning to cut and clean produce (with child’s safety knife—Pampered Chef used to carry these)—start with cutting lettuce with scissors, cleaning grapes, peeling potatoes as ready, slicing bananas for salad or smoothies, cutting and filling celery, etc. Work together on fresh food preparation, and you will be surprised what your six year old can do!

11. Work in yard with you—give small tasks and have child report back to you for you to check on them (weed certain area, water certain area, pick up yard, etc.)

-To Become His Own Chores (after proper teaching and direction):

1. Unload entire dishwasher

2. Clean table after simple meals—teach to do this alone after breakfast and/or lunch

3. Fold and put away fold up loads of laundry

4. Make simple microwave meals—oatmeal packets, reheating leftovers; hot meat and cheese sandwiches

5. Other simple food preparation—peanut butter and jelly; meat and cheese plate; stemming grapes to be washed; boiled egg peeling; layered salads for meals, simple lettuce salads and fruit salads, dishes that involve mixing things together in which you have opened the cans, etc.,

6. Make beds throughout house (if sheets are already on them; not changing of the bedding)

7. Straighten a room at end of day (i.e. “jurisdiction” in easy room, such as toy room (in which he knows where everything goes) or a seldom used room that does not require much daily upkeep)

8. Dust room entirely alone (again, after having it as a “Help” job for a while)

9. Gather laundry from baskets in each person’s room and put in correct bin in laundry room (i.e. whites, darks, hang ups, etc.)

10. Mop small rooms with water only

11. Pick up yard

12. Clean bathroom or kitchen sink each day

13. Weed small areas of flower beds or around shrubs

14. Water flowers and/or garden


a. By the end of age six, you want the child to have a consistent routine of morning routine (room, groom, dress, mess)—all chores related to his own personal care, like hygiene, straightening bedroom, making bed, putting laundry in hamper, etc.

b. You will probably want to add to that daily routine one to three chore sessions in which he does the exact same daily work each day (or at least each week), such as folding and putting away fold up load, unloading dishwasher, setting lunch table, sweeping porch, etc. Or vary it some but have the same tasks each Monday, each Tuesday, etc.:

First Morning Session Daily: unload dishes and set table

Second Session: M: fold up laundry

                         T: sweep porch

                         W: fold up laundry

                        Th: simple lunch

                        F: fold up laundry

c. Do not neglect training in future chores! It is so nice when you have a six year old that has several tasks that he can do regularly on his own following your diligent training. However, you want to always be teaching him new tasks for the next “changing of the chores.” (I changed my charts two to four times a year.)

d. Be sure to start giving this age child things that are truly essential to the operating of the family. He will feel much more needed and much more mature if he has real daily tasks that help the family operate more smoothly.

e. Because of the above items, you might want to have two chore sessions in which this aged child does regular jobs that are “his” followed by one session in which you work together—this can be the time that you work in the kitchen together or do laundry together or any other “training tasks.” Of course, these can vary day by day. I almost always had a chore session in which a child just “worked with Mom.”

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:

**If you have been reading PP 365 long, you probably remember that we focused on giving our children entire chores/areas rather than just having them “help” forever….this builds self-esteem, responsibility, and skills; however, in the toddler years, “helping” is what he will primarily do. Anything you can “give” your pre-k/k child (i.e. setting the table all by himself for breakfast and/or lunch) will help him towards more and more responsibility.

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