Category Archives: Family Favorite Fridays

Family Favorites Friday-Beverages-Sweet Tea

Family Favorites Friday-Beverages-Sweet Tea

We get stuck in a rut around here with drinks.  The kids mainly drink water and milk.  Occasionally we have orange juice or pink lemonade.  I will drink coffee (a new favorite drink, I used to hate coffee), Pepsi or McDonald’s Coke (If you know me, you know I have an addiction to their Coke!) and sweet tea.

Since we  are up north Sweet Tea isn’t as well known as in the south!  When I serve it I usually get asked how to make it.  It really is quite simple and yes, it has a lot of sugar.  On Sweet Tea’s behalf, I would like to mention that it doesn’t have any high-fructose corn syrup.  I like my sweet tea, and most of my kids do too!  I think it is very cute to hear my 2 year old say, “sweet tea”.

In case you are wondering how to make it here are some simple instructions:

Sweet Tea - Makes 2 quarts

(I like to make it a gallon at a time, but I will share my recipe for 2 quarts and you can double it if you are as crazy as we are about it)

Boil 1 quart of water (doesn’t have to be precise).  Once boiled pour over 2 family size tea bags into a 2 quart pitcher (I use Lipton’s Family Size Tea Bags-the photo is decaffeinated, but there is regular too).  Allow to steep for 3-5 minutes.  I then add 1 cup of sugar.  (Yes, you read that right!)  Stir it up and then add cold water to fill the pitcher until it is 2 quarts full.  You can put it in the refrigerator until it cools, or if you can’t wait pour it over a glass with ice!

Spring is hopefully right around the corner.  Make sure to take time to enjoy all of God’s daily changing creation.  Sit down and sip a glass of sweet tea for a few minutes in between all the work you have!  Do you have a particular beverage enjoy?

Chores (Part 5) Charts, Rewards, Systems, ETC.

Chores (Part 5) Charts, Rewards, Systems, ETC.

OK, This is a big topic to cover here.  If you missed the other posts in our chore series be sure to check them out.

What I have found is that a lot of different systems work.  I have also found that after about 4-6 weeks the excitement of the system has worn off and everyone is slowly forgetting to mark charts or becoming laxidazical in getting the chores done in a timely manner.

We rotate systems and charts etc a lot here!  We have used customizable chore charts for each child from DLTK’s Custom Chore Charts.  These were a lot of fun and each child could pick out a character or picture to put on the top of their chart.  I have also found other sites online which do the same type of thing. is one of them, along with another site called Successful Family Chores.  We have purchased a chore system that uses cards and hooks.  Works great with one child, but not once we had a few.  It is called I Did My Chores.  There are also multiple iPhone apps to track chores and reward systems.  My sister found a website that looks really cool called Goal for It. You can make printable charts for each child and set up points for a reward system or you can do it all online.  I might have to try this one out.  I am looking forward to hearing what has worked for you.  Please post a comment below and let us know.

I have found that rewards do get things done faster.  Here’s the thing I have with them.  I feel like some things my kids should do because they are a member of our house and I don’t think they should get paid for it.  They should keep their rooms clean, help with dishes, their laundry etc.  If they go over and above what is already expected of them, then we will pay them.  We do let our kids watch a movie or play the Wii or DSi when they have practiced piano and their chores and  school work is finished.

I know I posted a while back about schedules and what works for our family.  We do much better with routines.  I have written down what I expect my kids to do for a morning routine, and an evening routine. (sometimes we also have an after school routine).  Their morning routines include getting themselves dressed, beds made, pj’s put in their laundry basket, and then their chores completed.  (the specific chores depends on the child)

I have assigned chores based on a rotating schedule among my 3 oldest children.  We had a chart on the wall by the dishwasher that had the 3 oldest kid’s initial written over and over.  Each time they emptied the dishwasher they would mark off their initial.  I would just look at the chart to see who was next.  Here’s where I was mean…if one of the kids forgot to mark off their initial, they had to do it again.  I gave them grace one time, after that it was understood that the job had to be done and marked off in order to have been done correctly.  (if my children had a job and they forgot to clock in or out, it would be a problem, it is still part of their job to make sure they do that!)  Other chores were assigned to each child on certain days.  Andrew would sweep on Friday, do his laundry on Monday, scoop kitty litter on Saturday and Sunday and then do dishwasher on the days his name came up in the rotation.  He was also always in charge of setting silverware out for every meal and clearing his dishes and putting them in the dishwasher.

I have also assigned chores based on zones.  For example Joy, who is 9, is responsible for the kitchen zone. This includes emptying and loading dishwasher, setting and clearing the table and any other kitchen duties I might need help with.  Matthew, 11, is in charge of making sure the family room is picked up (a huge job with 2 littles) and also in is charge of feeding our 2 cats and scooping kitty litter each day.  Andrew, 7, is in charge of making sure our school room is picked up each day (again, that can be a big job depending on our day) and is also in charge of sweeping our floors each day. On Fridays the 3 oldest also each have a bathroom they are in charge of cleaning and they also do their own laundry.  Andrew and Matthew are also responsible for collecting all the garbage in the house and taking the cans out to the curb.

I can see pros and cons to both systems.  In case you were wondering about my 2 youngest, they help the bigger kids.  The older ones will ask the younger ones to help empty the dishwasher with them, or fold towels etc.  Faith, 4, is in charge of making sure the laundry room stays picked up.  We come in from the garage through this room and everyone is supposed to hang up their coats and put their shoes on their shoe rack.  She is in charge of making sure they do that.  It also helps to get her to do her own shoes and coat.  She is also in charge of making sure our 2 dogs always have food.

I hope this chore series has helped you come up with some ideas to help your family.  Please make sure to leave a comment about what your favorite way to keep track of chores is.  Did you make up your own chart, find something online etc?

Family Favorites Friday-Free Activities to do with the Family

Family Favorites Friday-Free Activities to do with the Family

Today, at Home in the Trenches, I would like to discuss favorite free things to do with your family. As a family we love playing games, going for walks or bike rides and GEOCACHING. If you aren’t familiar with geocaching, it is like searching for hidden treasures. OK, the treasures just aren’t really worth anything.

Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity which a person (or family) uses a Global Positioning System to hide or seek containers called “caches”. The caches can be a variety of sizes and also vary in the how hard they are to find.  I know it sounds weird, but it is a ton of fun.  There are over 5 million people who geocache.

We have searched in local parking garages, parks, parking lots, playgrounds, and neighborhoods–anywhere where a geocache is allowed to be placed (there are official rules).  These plastic containers contain a log (so you can tell them you have found it) and sometimes they will have some trinkets that you can exchange (silly bands, foreign money, toy cars etc).

When we started, we used our iPhone (it has a geocaching app) and our car gps.  We went onto the geocaching website to find some caches in our area to search for.  If you have an iPhone you can download the app and search for caches in your area, or an area you will be, right in the app.  If you go to the geocaching website you will be able to read more about it and find out all the rules etc.  It really is quite easy.

One of the first caches we found was a trackable cache, which meant it had a code we could look up on the geocaching website.  We have been able to track it online and have found out where it had started and that it is now in Germany. (talk about a great way to teach geography!)  The kids have all really enjoyed looking for the “treasure.”  Even our youngest ones enjoy looking, sometimes we will “help” them find it first!

We have also hidden a cache.  It has been fun to find out who has found it and where they are from.

This is a great, free, fun activity for your family to enjoy.  It gets your whole family doing a “mission” and working together.  Also, it can be done with little planning, in any amount of time you might have (15 minutes to hours) and it can be done anywhere. Whether you are sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon or on vacation somewhere you can easily look up a cache and be headed on your way to find it.  There are over 1.3 million caches to go find!  I hope you find a beautiful spring day and head out to find you first cache soon, and when you do, I hope you have a much fun as our family did finding ours!

So, what fun, free family activity does your family enjoy that you can share with all of us here for Family Favorites Friday?   Please leave your favorites in the comments section or link us to your blog!  Have an awesome weekend.

Family Favorite Fridays-Children’s Books

Family Favorite Fridays-Children’s Books

Fridays at Home in the Trenches will be dedicated to posts about favorites in our family.  They could be recipes, games, restaurants, activities, curriculum, vacation destinations, etc.  I am hoping that  you will include some of your family favorites on Fridays and link us to your blog if you have one.  If you don’t have a blog, we would love to read about your family’s favorites in our comment section at the end of the post!

A week or two ago I added a tab at the top of the website with it’s own page for An Ongoing Booklist for Children.  I am hoping to keep this as an ongoing list which our family and your family can add to as well.  Please list in the comments section what your children’s favorite books are.  I will add them to the list.  A big thank you goes out to a few readers who have already given me some suggestions to add to our own favorites. Take time to look through the list and familiarize yourself with them.  These are great books whether or not you homeschool.  They are just great literature that your kids will love.  What books are your kids favorites?