Our “Social Distancing” Spring Break Plan – Free Download

Hi There,

Well, our governor closed schools for a 3 week long spring break thanks to the CoVid-19 coronavirus. Tons of fun. Since 3 of our kids are still in our home, I needed to put together a plan for them so they didn’t drive me nuts. Fortunately, I homeschooled for 3 years, so I was able to quickly pull up some older resources and 24 hours later, our home is in a home-learning routine.

Ironically writing this blog post has taken me more time than getting our system up and running. So first, some background, I have no desire nor ability right now to stand over my kids for hours and make sure they are doing what I’d like. So I based my quarantine routine on a checklist system that I put together during my first homeschooled kid’s first grade year. I wanted him to be able to independently know what he needed to do and get done as much as possible without me (this method could be especially helpful for parents who now have to balance working from home and babysitting kids). Then I adapted it for part-time learning, since we don’t yet have remote learning set up from the kids’ schools, and they are technically on an extended spring break. Fortunately, my youngest is in Kindergarten and can read a good deal, so I was able to explain this system to all 3 of my at-home kids, and they are now in the rhythm.

Unfortunately, I’m not as good as explaining things to adults, but I will do my best. I am also including the file I used at the bottom of this post. I’m not charging anything for it, I don’t even get any advertising or affiliate income off of this blog. I just thought that with all the chaos out here right now, maybe I can inject a tiny bit of peace and harmony in some homes.

Let me explain- no, it is too much, let me sum up: I made a list of my priorities, what I wanted the kids to be sure to do every day. I put these priorities on a spreadsheet as topics that they can check off when they complete the task. I set it up so they re-use this checklist every day for a week (to save paper). I also added a short description or instruction for each topic, right now this description is the same for every day of the week, but it can be altered later to focus on a specific subject or lesson each day. With a little Excel savvy, many can tweak this file for their own needs and priorities.

Now we all know that setting up a list of things for kids to do is only half the battle, getting them to ACTUALLY do it can be a bear as well. So I created a system of rewards or incentives tied to completing the checklist in a timely manner. This incentive system was based on a similar system I had to implement with one of my older (not-at-home) kids who has been diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder).

Part of my incentives are set out in the “Incentives” sheet/tab in the file, another part is built into the order of the checklist. The last topic on the list for each day is titled “Brain Work,” this could also be called “Online Learning,” but that doesn’t fit as well. As time goes on, and we transition to remote learning, this topic will expand into 1 or more lines. But for now, they only have to keep up a “learning momentum” as their school calls it. This doesn’t sound like an incentive, but most of the online “educational” resources lately seem to be more game than actual work. So the kids are super-excited to get to pull out their school-issued Chromebooks and spend 20 minutes on PBSKids.org, or other such website. One note here, to keep them from getting too involved in an educational game like Prodigy, I have told the kids to pick a different online learning site each day throughout the week.

Another thing I should explain is what is a “School show” vs. “Candy Bar show.” So we don’t have cable TV, we have Netflix and Amazon Prime, that’s it. So I have had the luxury of previewing each of the shows they watch on the TV. Years ago, I started using the term “School show” for any show that has some actual educational value, like Magic School Bus or Sid the Science Kid. I’ve told the kids that they can only watch this category of show during school hours (awake to 3 pm). Lately, they have been trying to push the boundary of what qualifies as a school show. So a discussion with my 9-year-old a couple weeks ago led to the term “Candy Bar show.” These are shows that have no educational value, like Ninjago or Boss Baby.

Well I’m sure I’ve missed something in my explanations, so feel free to comment. I’ll do what I can to make more sense of it if necessary. So without further ado, here’s the Surviving Spring Break Quarantine Checklist:

As ever, May God Bless You and Yours!
Sarah

How to Survive a Quarantine-Themed Spring Break

So depending on where you get your news and how much time you spend gathering information, you may have realized that the fear is starting to settle in from the CoVid-19 virus, commonly know as coronavirus. So what do you do about it?

Well for our family, I’ve been planning a new twist on the staycation, namely a quarantine-themed spring break (I’ll have to come up with a trendy term for it). And how does one go about planning such a fun-filled week with 3 rambunctious kids, you ask?

Here it is, my plan-in-the-making for our quaran-break (hmmm, maybe):

  1. Plan to not leave the house.
    • This was implied in the word quarantine, but humans have the odd need to re-state the obvious, so there you have it.
  2. Stock up on essentials.
    • This is where your prepper skills will win the day. But since not everyone knows where to start, I’ll list my top priorities.
      • First I should preface my list with a disclaimer, I believe whole-heartedly that our family WILL get the virus. Now that we no longer homeschool, the kids go to school in a HUGE petrie dish. I’ve just accepted that we’ll get it, and I’m moving forward from there. So here’s my list:
    • Toilet paper – umm, yeah, I would HATE to run out
    • Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen for children and adults – fever is the number 1 symptom with this virus
    • Other medical supplies:
      • Nasal sprays, aspirators
      • Humidifiers, misters
      • Vitamin C supplements – Airborne, etc.
      • Homeopathics, oils, colloidal silver – whatever floats your boat (and this may be the time to try something new)
      • Anything else you can think of to keep you breathing comfortably
      • 90 day supply of any prescriptions
    • Food and water for 2 – 4 weeks (I could write a whole other blog on this, but so many have – use Google or Pinterest if you need ideas for this)
    • Hand soap – we use the regular stuff, I’m not sure how well the antibacterial soap would do in this situation, but it never hurts to have an extra store of both kinds
    • Disinfectants – sprays, wipes, hand sanitizers, etc.
    • Dish soap, dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, etc. – stuff to get clean
    • Those are my biggest priorities, please feel free to add your priorities to the comments.
  3. Make it less miserable.
    • This is where the real planning comes in, no one wants Spring Break to be boring and stuck at home. My husband and I haven’t finished deciding our plan yet, but here are some ideas:
    • Make it truly Survival Themed – with camping in the living room, low tech games and activities, and survival skill lessons. Just, you know, don’t burn the house down…
    • Plan a Spring Cleaning Frenzy – get the kids involved in clearing out their rooms, play areas, etc.
    • Focus on the Family – dig into family history, make family trees, teach the kids about the way their ancestors lived, tell family stories, make your own family story/memory book, have videocalls with your relatives (technology is a wonderful thing).
    • Ask the Kids – we’ve asked our kids for ideas and here’s what they said: build a fort, board games, crafts, origami, teach us to cook, etc. Basically they are hoping for time to spend with us without distractions.
    • There are tons more ideas on the web for what to do over the summer with the kids at home, including my earlier post. Do some digging and find something that will work for your family.

How ever you face this plague, keep in mind that a good plan and a healthy dose of faith can turn a week (or more) of misery into a meaningful family-strengthening memory. Don’t let the fear bring you down.

Blessings,
Sarah

Update 8 March 2020: I am in no way endorsing hoarding, this is not the time to get a year’s supply of anything. But careful and measured preparation will lighten the load on the healthcare systems and local governments. So my updated recommendations include trying to get 90 day refills on your prescriptions and self-isolating if you are in a higher risk group.

May God Bless Each of You!

God’s Tiers of Learning – Tier 1

When the Israelites left Egypt, they had been in living in captivity for centuries. They were not an enlightened people, they had just begun the first step on the path of recovery from all the bad habits and thought distortions that had helped them survive the worst conditions imaginable. These habits and mental justifications become ingrained so deeply, that tens of thousands of the Israelites chose to perish in the wilderness rather than accept a new, higher code of conduct.

How often do we see this pattern repeated around us? So many loved ones and friends would rather cling to the justifications for their behaviors rather than accept the work required in following Christ (or any great religious teacher at this point). Much of our current culture is bending over backwards to rationalize their desire to “do away” with religion, morality, and God in their lives.

This poisonous mindset did not work out well for the Israelites in the desert, and someday soon, it will work just as badly for the sad milllions around the world. I have not counted the number of times the Israelites were given a chance to follow a simple commandment, and chose to suffer death instead. I can only imagine the heartbreak and frustration God felt while watching this play out over and over. Whether it was looking up at the brazen serpent, or not going into Canaan after they complained that it would be too hard. Again and again, they fell by thousands and tens of thousands to the natural consequences of their disobedience.

God, in His long-suffering nature, suffered with them through this painful transition time. Recognizing their spiritual weakness, He gave them strict, but simple commandments. These commandments, the Ten overarching ones, along with the many daily and habitual ones, are commonly referred to as the Law of Moses.

The Law of Moses, especially the Ten Commandments, were designed by God to bring His people, then and now, out of slavery. How can we relate to this slavery? Slavery is the complete loss of freedom, the inability to choose for yourself any of the basic decisions like; where you will sleep, what you will eat, etc. When we allow ourselves to be led astray by temptations and addictions, we bind ourselves in a form of slavery to our carnal nature. Take a moment to envision how the following choices can limit our options and restrict our freedom to act for ourselves:

  • Alcoholism
  • Gluttony
  • Violence against others
  • Vandalism, theft
  • Drug addiction
  • Pornography
  • Insert your own ideas

The path back out of the bondage from these choices is never easy. Even the laws of man recognize the need for rehabilitation clinics and psychologists and a myriad of social services to aid people back into a state of freedom. God set out His plan for the path to recovery thousands of years ago. He guided the Israelites lovingly, patiently through the desert of rehabilitation; sometimes with harsh interventions, but always, every day, letting them know that He was present.

The lessons He taught them, the commandments He gave them, were designed to bring them out of captivity, not just their bodies, but their minds and spirits as well. The liberation of their minds and spirits was a much longer process than their bodies, but He stayed with them, guiding them as a loving parent, throughout the process. Until finally, they were a people prepared to establish a great nation in the promised land.

As we work to establish ourselves in an “American Dream” or other such vision of success, let us study the first tier of learning set out by our loving Father in Heaven. Study the Ten Commandments and the journey of the disobedient Israelites, and we can find our own Promised Land.

More on the Tiers of Learning to come.

Blessings,
Sarah

Photo by Zulmaury Saavedra on Unsplash

Dangerous Depths of Discouragement

I am not as emotionally robust as many others I know, especially when it comes to my own work.

I have researched deeply and I know that disappointment and discouragement are a normal part of any writer’s journey. But knowing something intellectually, and preparing your heart for the attack, are very different ballgames. I can prepare my mind with relative ease, but my heart is a strange mystery to me.

I have studied my heart from every angle, and most of the time I convince myself that I have it well-understood. But then I can look back at patterns of avoidance and discouragement, and I realize my heart has been steering me away from a wound and I was oblivious.

This is where I am now, I have been avoiding writing for about a year now, because I just don’t have the emotional robustness that this path needs…

Does that mean my stories and story-ideas should be abandoned?
Of course not!
But I guess I needed a break.

Perhaps I won’t ever be published, I’ll have to console myself that I had good ideas, but not the right personality type to bounce back well enough to sell them. I’m not a salesman. I’m just me.

Maybe I’ll grow stronger in the future (this is always my hope)…

Blessings and Hopes that you are stronger,
Sarah

Coming to Terms With Big Changes

Hi there!

I haven’t posted for awhile because life happened and it’s taken me awhile to process it. Basically, my husband and I sat down with our family budget and realized that we couldn’t wait any longer for my books, blog, etc. to generate income. So, to do the responsible thing, we would have to sacrifice Homeschooling so that I could go back to work.

I can’t express how much this decision has pained me, but I still have faith that the Lord has a plan for us. Thankfully, my kids have wonderful teachers who care deeply about their education.

This site may end up back on the free WordPress site, but that decision won’t need to come until January. Until I am able to focus on this blog and my books again, you are welcome to follow my activity on Pinterest, where I am still actively pinning.

Thank you for reading this and Blessings!
Sarah

That Love-Hate Relationship With Our Tech

computer, tablet, smartphone

Our personal technology gives us more information and less wisdom. We have endless, instant access to information. But we do not allow ourselves the off-grid time to process that information into anything more than knowledge. Leaving us knowledgeable fools, lacking wisdom and depth.

We are allowing others to think for us, groupthink was the term from 1984, if I remember. When was the last time you used a meme to chose or reinforce your position in an issue. A meme is not wisdom, it is almost a clear opposite to wisdom. Usually memes are emotional sound bites, made to stir up our heart into taking an ideological stance. But our heart was not designed for reasoning!

If we were to debate all the pros and cons of an issue, we would come to a logical conclusion that would be somewhat near the middle ground. But allowing our heart to be swayed by guttural sound bites throws our belief system to the extremes. We have chosen a path without engaging our own reasoning. Instead, we are relying on the fully formed opinions of others. These others clearly do not have our own best interests in mind, after all many of them are proven to come from other countries. They have their own agenda, in which they want your blind support. Why are we letting them think for us?

Part of it is laziness, but only because we are so busy and stressed with our own everyday problems, that we “farm out” the thinking, debating, reasoning, and reflecting of national or global issues to other sources. And though I could go on about how we become too busy and stressed to do our own thinking, I think I’ll save that for another day. (I should mention that both the problems of being too busy, and succumbing to groupthink are among my struggles, which is why I write about them.)

The brunt of it is, I know that each of us are highly intelligent creatures. To be clear, I’m not talking about IQ as it’s measurement of comparison with each other. I am referring to our God-given gifts of thought, logic, and reasoning which were reserved for man alone upon this earth. We need to take back our own individual thought processes. Cease from allowing our beliefs to be based on someone else’s fully formed opinions. And grant ourselves the down, or off-grid, or unplugged time to come to our own conclusions.

And forget not that “if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” James 1:5

Blessings,
Sarah

Small Steps Can Heal the World

boy climbing stairs

Hi there,

Do you struggle, like me, to know if you’ve helped heal the world at all today?

There are great and terrible evils afflicting us in these days, and I wonder often if I have done anything to help. And even more, I wonder if my small deeds and small prayers have made anything better.

These are troubling times we live in, the world around us is seeming to go mad, even our own loved ones in some cases (like mine). The attacks of our adversary are hitting closer and closer to home.

I don’t know about you, but visiting with my loved ones over the holidays was a discouraging experience. I have family who used to be my closest allies, who now throw nasty little jabs into our conversations. Worst yet, I worry that I am guilty of the same. After all, can’t they see that their position is just plain crazy?! But of course they can’t see it, in fact, they think the same thing about me.

The fundamental divide that is wedging itself between us, encompasses every aspect of life. Once upon a time, not that long ago, you could have a civil conversion with anyone about anything as long as you steered clear of politics and religion. But now nothing is safe, not sports, not the weather, not what you had for supper, and not your little girl’s favorite color.

The constant debate is exhausting. I’m worn out. I want to reach across the divide and draw my estranged family members closer to me, but I also want to run away to a quiet farm in the middle of nowhere and not emerge till the Savior comes.

So I do what I can, I ignore and forgive the snide comments. I overcome the urge to avoid my relatives. I attempt to walk with Grace. I try to help us heal, even if it’s only a little bit. Maybe if we all do a little bit, we can close the divide a lot. After all, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

Blessings!
Sarah