Summer Survival – Procedures

Y’all, it’s here, and it’s HOT!  (I wish I could say I’m talking about some amazing sale on some exotic something or other, but you know what I really mean – the summer.  It’s DANG HOT!  And it’s still only June!)  So how are you doing, mama?  I mean, really.  Are you surviving?  Or are your kids killing each other and you?  I’m honestly stuck somewhere in between.  But we really are doing pretty good at not killing each other – yet.  (I do not anywhere on this blog claim to be the perfect mother, nor have I figured out how to keep my kids from killing each other.  If you figure that out, PLEASE let me know!)

Some of the simple procedures I’ve put in place have been helping, and I thought I would share them with you to give you a few ideas and get your wheels turning on things that might work for your family!  I’ll be doing four of these Summer Survival posts – with ideas for activities and things you can do both at home and out and about, too, so be sure to check back over the next few days for more ideas!  But let’s first start with the basics – procedures.

A friend of mine, Jenn, from Lemondrop Learning, shared a fabulous checklist on her Facebook page a little while back, and I immediately printed it out and stuck it in clear plastic sleeves for my bigs.  Each day, in order for them to get to just lay around the house and have screen time, they have to have completed everything on their checklist.  And YALL!!!  OMG!!!  It’s AMAZING!!!!  We’ll be using this checklist for the rest of forever for weekends, holidays, any day that we’re not in school.  Because it’s brilliant.  And I’m in love.  And honestly, the kids enjoy it, too!  They are proud of themselves when they mark the items off, and it helps them feel accomplished and also gives some self awareness for what they are actually doing instead of just roaming around aimlessly.  I’ve also noticed them lose track of time while doing the “required” activities because they’re having so much fun… that it ends up being HOURS before they even ask for a screen!!!  Seriously.  Y’all NEED this checklist!  So – the checklist – from Kimberly at Natural Beach Living, can be found here!  Be sure to go print yours out ASAP, and then start using this with your kids – because it WILL change your summer.  I promise!

For both kids, I used their favorite color marker to write their name and color the title (it’s the little things…) and then for days that we are going somewhere in the morning and they want to take their kindles, they must do the top 5 AND their workbook pages before we leave… see below for info about the workbooks!


Ok – so beyond this, I have also set in place specific chores at a set time for both of the bigs, because I was lacking in this area since we moved.  Before, they had a list of chores, and received stickers for completing them, and they were great about it… and then the house went on the market, the chore sheet had to come down, and well… yeah.  So, I have reinstated some of the chores they had before, but with specific assignments – mainly, Gray takes out the recycling each evening after Elle goes to bed, and while he’s doing that, Becca unloads the dishwasher.  This routine allows me to get the dishes loaded (I prefer to do that myself rather than having her do that) and the dishwasher started before I go to bed – or in the morning… whenever I choose to do it.  And it also helps Gray to not feel like he’s getting “picked on” by having to do “hard work” by himself.  Yes, seriously, y’all he is the biggest whiner since the beginning of time when it comes to feeling like something is “unfair.”  But whatever cuts the whining, then I’m all about it.  Do your chores at the same dang time then!!!  LOL.  Y’all.  Seriously.  These kids MAY be the death of me.  But, if you have multiple kids, you know what I’m talking about – think about what it is that you can set in place to help you work SMARTER, NOT harder!!!  I was getting frustrated about needing to load the dishes, but not wanting to do her job for her… and getting upset by the overflowing recycle bin… so this new routine is working WONDERFULLY!!!  Sometimes it’s just about looking at your daily routines and seeing what you can modify to make life easier for everyone!!  (Also – side tip – I emphasize to the kids all the time that in our family, we work together for the betterment of EVERYONE – and we talk together as they are doing their family chores about how much it helps our family when they do their jobs, and how important they each are!  You’d be surprised how much their chins lift and their lil chests puff out with pride for their work!!)

Another routine I’ve set into our day is of course, reading.  We have always read to our kids before bed, but now that they are older and we’re reading throughout the day, you might think we’d lax up on that.  NO!!!  Bedtime is still the best time to snuggle up and read together with my kiddos, and I’d never trade that time for anything!  BUT, because we read a LOT of books, the little summer reading challenge from the library to read eight books was a joke.  So, I upped the ante.  I said that since the theme was the moon to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, their eight books recorded on the library sheet HAD to be about the moon (fiction or nonfiction – their choice)!  And I created this summer reading chart for them to record ALL of the books they read!  (It’s a free download over on my Teachers Pay Teachers page!)  It’s got spots for 100 books, and what I’m doing with my kids is that when they complete a row (read 20 books), they get a Blue Bell Fudgesicle (a huge incentive for my kids!!).  When they complete all 100, they’ll get a special trip to our favorite frozen yogurt place.  They are SUPER excited about it, and it has really gotten Gray excited about bringing me books to read.  I also told him that if, by the end of the summer, he can bring me a book and read it to me COMPLETELY on his own, I’ll let him color in TWO ice cream cones.  Becca also gets to color in two ice cream cones for each Harry Potter book she completes.  They are so excited about reading, and this is keeping them going, for sure.  It also cuts out Becca’s desire to only read chapter books, and I have found her pouring over picture books and reading to Elle and Gray like crazy to count those books!  WHATEVER gets her reading all types of books, makes me happy!! 🙂  I love how it also spurs their competitiveness – they want to get their fudgesicles at the same time, so if one has more books than the other, they’ll go check the chart and count how many books they need to read to catch up.  It’s WONDERFUL competition, and I encourage it.


We are also excited to try the Summer Reading Bingo challenge that my friend Jenn (mentioned above) has created – you can find it on her Facebook page!  Plus, I just learned about Barnes and Noble AND Lifeway Christian Stores that are having reading challenges this summer… although I’m getting frustrated because I’m struggling to find info on their websites… if you know more about these two events, PLEASE share with me so I can pass along to other readers!!  There are just so many great ways to encourage your kids to read!!!!  Make sure it’s a part of your DAILY routine.  (I also *hope* to be sharing more of our favorite book titles over on my Facebook page this summer… so be sure you’ve “liked” and are “following” my posts!)

Another great way to avoid the “summer slide” is to add a daily workbook into your procedures.  Around here, it’s just something that must be done.  Like homework.  Except that y’all, I found some workbooks that the kids aren’t complaining about doing!!!  SERIOUSLY!!!  Gray actually asks for his workbook.  I also can look at what they do for the day and will let them count it as their writing/art activity for their checklist to get their kindle if it applies, so there is that… lol.  Elle also loves coloring while they are working on their workbook pages, so it’s kinda fun for them to do them all at the same time.  I am NOT an affiliate for EvanMoor publishers, but I sure do love these books since I discovered them, and as a teacher AND a mom, I can highly recommend them.  (And I can honestly say, I’ll be buying these for my kids every summer from now til they age out of them!!!)  They simply have a front and back of a sheet to do each day of the week, a star to color in for each page when it’s completed, and then for the older kids, there is a space to write about the things done each day, a reading log to color, and for the younger kids, there is a space to draw a picture of the favorite thing they did that week.  There’s a good variety of activities in both of the books we have, and I’m pleased with the amount of time it takes them to do the pages, as well – they are quick and not stressful, but have some good content that they do have to stop and think about.  Plus, they use super bright colors and lots of pretty pictures, which keep the kids intrigued.  I really like all of the fine motor practice in the PreK to K book, too!  So I highly recommend you grabbing these books – I found them at my local Lakeshore Learning Store, where I love using my teacher discount card, but here are the Amazon links for your convenience.  (I’m no longer an Amazon affiliate – these are just links to help y’all!)

PreK to K 
K to 1st
1st to 2nd
2nd to 3rd
3rd to 4th
4th to 5th
5th to 6th
6th to 7th

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Above all else, make sure that you are employing CONSISTENCY with your kids this summer.  For moms who aren’t educators, you may think, “this is their break from school, they should just be able to relax and have fun!”  This is true, HOWEVER… school is set up on a daily routine, with clear expectations for behavior AND academic achievement.  And it’s set up this way not only because it’s more successful that way, but because KIDS are more successful that way.  They NEED clearly explained expectations and structure to thrive.  They need scaffolding to help them be successful.  So even if all you’re expecting them to do is not kill their siblings, they need guidance on how that’s going to look in your home.  They need rules and structure that are clearly defined, and then they need you to be CONSISTENT on how you enforce those rules and provide that structure.  They grinch and complain, I know, but try it for a week – see if I’m right.  Provide them structure and consistency and watch your own life get more manageable.  

Check back here very SOON for my next installment of this Summer Survival Series – where I’ll be sharing super fun and EASY science experiments you can do with your kids – some of which don’t even require purchasing ANY materials – you’ve already got the stuff laying around your house!


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Monthly Meal Planning Kit

UPDATE: As of March 27, this kit is ON SALE FOR ONLY $7!  Order now to cash in on this great deal!

Friends, I have been working on this kit for what seems like forever!  I’m so glad to finally be ready to share it with you!!  So many people ask me about my monthly meal planning, how it works, and how it saves my family money… so I decided to share my secrets with everyone!  Check it out!  

april sale
Click the photo to order your kit now!

So what’s included in the kit?

You’ll get the binder cover and directions/opening letter, a checklist for your tasks, along with a complete set of March-December 2017 calendars that are ready to print and write on.  You also get list sheets to record what’s in your freezer, fridge, and pantry, and list sheets to record your family’s favorite meals and new recipes you want to try.  Exclusively this right now for Lent, you also get access to five printable Bible verse cards that are available in either black and white or color for whichever printer format works best for you.



Simply follow this link, order your “ticket,” and the link and password will be emailed to you within 24 hours so you can open the files!

UPDATE!!!  Here’s what people are saying about this kit!  (And thank you to those who are already responding!  WOW!  I appreciate your comments and support so much!)

“It is an amazing packet, Christy!  Things that seem like easy-peasy when you are planning, but when you’re sitting down to do it, it’s not always that simple.  Now it is a packet that you can have it laid out in front of you.”

“I love what you have done!  It is very helpful for paper-planning.  The verses for the fridge are a nice addition, esp for Lent.  Would love to see more of those for just life in general.”  (And I like this idea – I’ll work on that – thanks for your feedback!)

“The Bible verse cards for Lent are beautiful!”

“SHARING!! I love this! Thank you for your hard work and sharing your amazing skill and insights with us!”

Let’s Get Organized!


Well, so a LOT has been going on around here this summer.  And one of those things has been some work in my heart… to finally get brave.  To get brave and step out of my comfort zone to do something that I’ve never done before!

I’m super excited to be launching my first online video training course – which will start July 25th!  It will be in a secret group set up on Facebook, and there will be five training videos to view at your own pace, before/after challenges, accountability partnerships made, and of course notes and printables to help you keep it all together!

The main focus of our training will be for homeschooling moms who are prepping this summer for “back-to-homeschool.”  But, anyone is welcome to attend – the trainings could easily be applied to non-homeschoolers as well.  Our video sessions will focus on:
-what to do with all those arts and crafts supplies that are coming out of your ears (including some GLITTER and FEATHER storage options that will hopefully be helpful!)
-how to keep your completed work and thematic units from overtaking every nook and cranny
-how to set up a home/homeschool command center that can easily be cleaned and put away (in 5 minutes or less!)
-how to organize (and help your kids maintain) an activity/game area
-some general things to be sure to include in your homeschool room that will help you AND your kids stay focused and on task!


So what makes ME of all people feel like I’m qualified to teach people how to get organized?  Maybe it’s partly because I have lots of friends who tell me I’m the most organized person they know.  (If you want references, I’m sure they’d be happy to oblige!)  But I think it’s also partly because when I was in the classroom teaching, I always felt the constant struggle to maintain order in my classroom.  I had great ideas but they rarely came to fruition… and I never could figure out how to get organized, because I simply didn’t have the time in the day to focus on organizing when I was so focused on test scores and assessments, assessments, assessments.  In my home, however, the DESIRE to be organized has met the REQUIREMENT to be organized.  I feel the pressure of educating my daughter not only to the best of my ability, but also she is my daughter!  I need to train her how to keep a tidy home, how to organize things, and how to pass along her knowledge and skill to her children, should she choose to have them.  There’s another piece to that organizational puzzle though… and that’s the dollar signs.


Ya’ll, I am NOT independently wealthy.  We have not found the seeds for a money tree to grow in our back yard.  (If you ever find some, just one would suffice – I have a green thumb!)  So I’m all about organizing using diaper boxes and containers I already have.  I’m all about Dollar Tree.  And while over the years I have spent WAY too much money on some FABULOUS and AMAZING organizers from Thirty One, ALL of what I’m going to teach you in my training courses can be done with things you ALREADY HAVE IN YOUR HOUSE, or can be purchased at Dollar Tree for less than $20.  So don’t feel like you’re going to lay down $7 for this class and then have to go out and spend $200 to make it happen.  NOT HERE.  If you chose to lay out $200, that is between you and your spouse – because I’m not about to promote that.  Save your money for curriculum and manipulatives!


I have some fabulous friends that have been there for me day in and day out – I can text them a picture of my “before” mess and set my timer for 15 minutes and get some serious work done, then send them my “after” and get the praise and positive reinforcement that I seem to crave.  And I realize that what will make this course the most successful for you, is if I provide that accountability for you as well!  So, the Facebook group will be there for you to post questions, comments, and most importantly… your before/after photos!  The support in the group will continue throughout the fall semester, so as you face questions or new concerns, you can continue to share with us and I can offer support and new ideas as time goes by, and we can brainstorm together to solve these problems as they arise.  I will also randomly ask you to post a photo of certain areas of your home for accountability.  Remember – it’s a SECRET group, so only the people participating in the course will be able to see what you post.  And seriously, all of this is just $7.  Wow.  I must be crazy to offer this so cheap, right?  Nope.  Just wanting to share, and be helpful!



So you like what you’re reading?  Awesome!  I can’t wait to have you join us!  I will be sending out a welcome email with details on how to make your payment ($7.00USD – though the course is available to anyone anywhere – yes, even Australia, my lovely Aussie friends!), and how to get added to the secret Facebook group!  All you need to do to get started is simply send me an email so that I have your email address!  And it’s as simple as that!  Please tell your friends so they can join us as well – the more, the merrier, and the more ideas we’ll have to pass around as we conquer questions that have to do with home layout and size/multiple students in your homeschool/various ages of students… not only do you get me with this, you get each other!!  So be sure to share!


Free 2015 Printables!

Well, Happy New Year!  2015 is here!  The year that was much anticipated in Back to the Future… time has yet to tell if we’ll have a hover-skateboard by the end of the year, but one thing we do have here on the blog for you are those free printables I promised!

Here’s your 2015 calendar (January preview) 

January Meal Planning Calendar

Weekly Planner (perfect for blogging or just to keep your weekly tasks organized)weekly planner

December 2014 Printables

Because life is crazy enough when it’s NOT December… here are a few printables to help you out with you organization this month.  If you aren’t a blogger, no worries – you can easily use the “blog” section on my planner for something else – just stick a cute sticker over the word blog and move on… or perhaps December, rather than January, is the month for you to start that resolution to write more yourself! 🙂

December daily organizer (each page has a different fun little activity in the bottom right corner!)



Decorative December Calendar (I’m using it with our Advent Activities)



December Meal Planning Sheet



And… if you like this stuff, I’m planning on making them again for January.  And, I’ve already made my 2015 calendar, which I will share later this month for you as well as you begin to plan your new year. 🙂  Please share the love, and send more folks on over here to my blog for these fun printables!  🙂