Archive for January 1st, 2008

Planner Review: Motivated Moms Chore Planner

January 1, 2008 @ 1:43 pm | Filed under:

FamilyTimeMine winners, your planners are (finally) on their way. I know they didn’t make it time for January 1st, but you should have them by Thursday at the latest.

I have two more planners to give away. I think you’ll be very excited by this first one: the Motivated Moms Chore Planner. I love this thing. (Kathryn wrote about it here.) It’s a download and you print it out yourself. Even though I’m already quite happy with my daily planner, I like the idea of a daily chore planner to help me keep on track in my beautification efforts.

There are several versions of the Motivated Moms planner (click here to see them all). The variable options have to do with size (you can choose between 8 1/2 x 11" and 5.5"x8.5") and configuration (weekly or daily). For each size/layout combination, there is an option to include a Bible reading schedule as well.

The version I have is the full size (8 1/2" x 11") weekly planner. The layout is clean and simple: there are no fancy graphics here. Down the left side of the page runs a column with checkboxes for daily chores: make beds, unload dishwasher, and so forth; and there are blanks for adding your own daily chores as well. These are the things you do every day, and each chore has seven little checkboxes below it.

The right side of the page is for chores specific to each day. Every day of the week (it’s a Sunday through Saturday week, which I prefer) has a list of six or seven tasks to complete that day. Each task is finite and simple: clean out purse, change handtowels in bathrooms, dust office. Through the course of a week, month, year, you rotate through all the household tasks that should ideally happen on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis.

The halfsized version of the weekly planner is exactly the same except it prints out with two weekly pages on each sheet of 8 1/2" x 11" paper. You can cut these apart and put them into a Franklin Covey-style planner, or you can put them in your own notebook. The full-sized weekly planner is 55 pages total: cover, 53 weekly chore pages, and a reproducible 2-week menu planning page. The half-sized version prints out in 28 pages.

You can order each of these with or without the Bible schedule.

The daily planner comes in the same sizes, but instead of a week (or two weeks) per printed page, it’s a day (or two days) per printed page. In addition to the daily chore checklists, each day has a space for menu-planning and a section for recording appointments.

There are sample pages at the website. Each version costs an affordable $8 to download. I have printed mine out, hole-punched it, and put it in one of my lovely Small Meadow Press "Pigeonhole" binders. It’s so pretty I just like to see it sitting on the end table! But to
keep on track with the chores, what I’m going to try is hanging each week’s page on the refrigerator. There are so many little household tasks that never seem to occur to me, and I like the idea of the mental nudge every time I go to the fridge in search of chocolate. Gosh, if I do one chore every time I sneak a chocolate chip, how clean and shiny will my house be!

(I’ll let you know how it goes.)

Here’s the fun part: the nice folks at Motivated Moms have offered one of their planners for a giveaway here. If you’d like to enter, leave a comment on this post. No need to decide now which version you want—the winner will have her pick after the drawing. Let’s see, today is Tuesday…why don’t I do the drawing on Friday, January 4th, at noon Pacific time. That will give the winner the weekend to catch up on this week’s chores.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go change my handtowels and declutter my purse.

Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner
Small Meadow Press — Circle of Days

Fresh Starts

January 1, 2008 @ 12:29 pm | Filed under: ,

Happy New Year!

I love beginnings, fresh starts. I am very, very good at beginning things, less adept at finishing them. But I’ve finished some projects this long weekend, and am on the verge of finishing two others, and that feels great.

(But I still haven’t done the Christmas cards.)

I completely made over my bedroom this weekend. For the year-plus since we moved into this house, our bedroom has been more like a closet with a bed in it. Books and video tapes shoved willy-nilly onto the shelves during the first frantic days of unpacking remained there, unsightly and gathering dust, all year. Our dresser was piled high with laundry and books. One corner (and this is a tiny room; there is scarcely any corner space to spare) filled up with empty cardboard boxes, more laundry, and random mateless shoes. Really, it was quite disgraceful. But this is the first bedroom off the hall, the easiest place to stash clutter behind a closed door when company is coming.

This has become the room in which I write. In the evenings, after Scott is home and dinner is over, I slip in here to work for an hour or two. When we moved into this house, I thought I was going to do my writing at our big desk in Wonderboy’s room (the only place that had room for the desk), at the quiet end of the hall. Somehow that never happened. I work in here, and I sleep in here, and I needed the space to be pretty, not cluttered. So I worked for two days and cleaned from top to bottom. I moved the haphazard piles of old video tapes to a back closet, put all the laundry away (imagine!), and switched the books around. I have shelves and shelves of lovely old books about Scotland and early 18th-century New England, all the resources I’d collected while writing my Little House novels. They are beautiful books and good friends. I feel quite uplifted now, looking across the bed to the inviting rows of titles: A Naturalist in the Highlands; Old Landmarks of Boston; Weaving with Linen; Our Own Snug Fireside.

I made it a sort of game to make over the room without spending any money. I had bought new pillowcases last month (our old ones were threadbare), a cheerful assortment of lime greens and fresh, cool blues, and it’s amazing how much they brightened up our old blue comforter. For good measure I added a flowery bedspread that used to be on Jane’s bed, long ago. The flowers made me feel so happy, I went rummaging in the craft cabinets and found some faux peonies and daisies I’d bought to make an Easter wreath last spring. The wreath never got made, but the flowers look awfully pretty on my dresser. The green glass pitcher my sister-in-law gave me, gosh, seven or eight Christmases ago, looks quite stunning beneath the peonies.

Why were these things stashed away behind cabinet doors?

Two years ago my resolution (inspired by Robert Frost’s poem, “The Armful,” about juggling a pile of slipping parcels) was to “keep hold of the important things, stopping to restack the load as often as necessary,” and I think that pretty well describes what I did during these past two years. I had an armful indeed: new baby, cross-country move, work changes, all sorts of adventures. We’ve caught our breath now. This year my resolution, if I have one, is to look closer at the ‘beauty’ part of our family Rule of Six. My bedroom, though not fancy and decidedly low-budget, is really beautiful now. Now that I know we’ll be in this rental house another year, I’ll keep focusing on small corners to make more beautiful. The rooms I tackled during this past week have already brought much joy to our family. It’s an extremely gratifying project.

I like this idea of choosing one focus in particular out of our list of the things we want to be purposeful in making a part of our daily lives: meaningful work; imaginative play; living books; ideas to ponder and discuss; encounters with beauty through art, music, nature, and I would add to this the home arts as well; and prayer.

This year, then, beauty. I’m ready.


Here’s part of a post about where our family’s Rule of Six comes from:

It got its start, as so many helpful principles do, in the writings of Charlotte Mason. In A Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola wrote that Miss Mason believed children needed three things every day: something to love, something to think about, and something to do.

I remember it was shortly after we moved from New York to Virginia in 2002 that I looked at the bright faces of my three little girls in their big blue room and made a silent promise to myself to give them that good soul-food every day: something to love, to think about, to do. I thought about what that meant in practical terms, because a concept has to translate very clearly on a practical level if there is any hope of my pulling it off. It’s the logistics that get you, every time. Broad principles are like umbrellas, and you need a hand to hold the umbrella with.

And that’s how I got to our Rule of Five. (Yes, five. It was Five for the first two or three years. Item number Six didn’t join the list until later—which is why I’ve been tickled to see all these Rules of Six popping up, because ours was the Rule of Five for so long.) I thought of it as the five fingers of a hand, the five things that I strive to make a part of every day we spend together:

Good books

Imaginative play

Encounters with beauty (through art, music, and the natural world—this includes our nature walks)

Ideas to ponder and discuss (there’s Miss Mason’s “something to think about”)


When the girls were younger it worked so beautifully with a little fingerplay we would do at bedtime. We would hold up a finger for each thing on the list. “What did you play today?” I would ask, and eager stories would bubble forth. “Who remembers what books we read?” “Where did we meet beauty today?” It was such fun, at the end of the day, to listen to their reflections about what we’d done since breakfast. At the end of the list, we’d all be holding up the five fingers of a hand, and then we’d clap our hands together and that meant time to pray.

But what about the sixth item in my Rule of Six? You see, of course, what’s missing from my original list: work. That’s because when I first came up with the list, my oldest child was only six, and play WAS her work. A couple of years later, the list grew—like my children. I added “meaningful work” (as opposed to busywork) to express the importance of doing useful things cheerfully and well, with reverence and attention.

And the five-finger visual works even better now, because you can tally off the first five things on the list and then clasp your hands together for the sixth, prayer.