This post is unabashedly swiped--with permission, of course--from my friend Pam's blog. The original post appeared on her blog exactly as it appears below. This idea should be shared far and wide, I think, and I wish I'd had it eons ago! We have had pretty much the same policies in our home, but without the signed contract, so the onus was on me to check every single time a request was made (or to remember to ask about every single thing, every single time a request for screen time was made). This led to much more relational tension than necessary over every request and every infraction...and a lot of "flying under the radar" with screen time infractions that were a little too "gray" to catch every time. (I'm talking about you, Google searches--and YouTube viewings--during study time!) Such a brilliant plan! My friend Pam and her husband do most parenting things really, really well, and I just wish we were coming along behind them instead of their coming along behind us! Such wisdom to glean from! Here's her post:
During this month’s Moms’ Support Night for the homeschooling group
of which I’m a part (Shout out to Homesteaders Homeschoolers! Woo hoo!),
a few of us shared Top 10 Tips for organization and management of our
own home schools. One of the tips I shared was our family’s use of an
“Earning Screen Time” contract. For us, “screen time” involves any
non-school/non-educational activities including TV shows, movies, games,
televised sports events, videos, SportsCenter highlight clips on
YouTube (which are extremely popular in our home!), etc. on any
electronic screen such as iPad, iPod, DS, TV, laptop, or cell phone.
In order to earn one hour of screen time each day, our children must
complete eight tasks, as listed on the contract. Additionally, the
contract delineates “infractions” that would lead to losing the very
privilege of earning screen time — and we are sure to let our children
know that it is a privilege indeed. The happy results include more
completed school work, more consistent quiet times with the Lord, neater
bedrooms, and an overall cleaner house! At the beginning of each school year, we update our contract, print
it out on brightly colored (i.e., easily recognizable and grab-able in
the event that we must point out an “infraction”), and have our children
agree to it and sign it. I guess technically they could refuse to sign
it and not ever earn screen time, but that is highly unlikely
with our brood. Once the contracts are signed, I place them in plastic
page protectors and hang them prominently on our school room’s white
board so they are super handy — just in case!
A few Homesteaders moms asked if I would share the contract, and, of
course, I’m delighted to do so. So here it is! It appears below, or
you may use this Word document which would allow you to make changes as
appropriate for your own family: Earning Screen Time 2013 I wish you much success with it. But please just promise not to tell your kids that I gave you the idea! :)
Earning Screen Time
On school days, you may earn 1 hour
of screen time (including any non-school/non-educational activities
such as TV, movies, games, sports events, etc. on any electronic screen
such as iPad, iPod, DS, TV, etc.) by doing the following. You may earn
more screen time on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays by doing the
following and obtaining approval from Mommy or Daddy.
1. Please make your bed and clean your room, making sure of the following:
All dirty clothes are put in the laundry chute or laundry basket.
All clean clothes are neatly put away in your drawers or closet.
All extraneous things are picked up from your floor and from under your bed.
Your room (including furniture and floors) is reasonably dust- and dirt-free.
2. Please make sure that your bathroom and the hallway outside of
your room are clean. The bathroom is clean when the sink, floor, and
toilet are clean.
3. Please make sure that the family room is neat and clean.
4. Please make sure that all of your toys, books, sports
paraphernalia, etc. are picked up from every room on the main floor and
in the basement family room.
5. Please complete all of your daily schoolwork and put all school supplies away.
6. Please spend at least 15 minutes having a quiet time with the
Lord, reading your Bible, or studying your Awana verses for the week.
7. Cameron and Ava, please practice piano for at least 25 minutes. Riley, please practice the drums for at least 25 minutes.
8. Please complete one additional significant chore as directed by Mommy or Daddy. You will lose the privilege of earning screen time for the day for any of these reasons:
Abusing the 1-hour time limit on your screen time on a previous day
Asking for screen time when you have not completed the above
Showing disrespect or an unloving attitude to any member of our family
Displaying a negative attitude in school
Displaying a negative attitude about any chore including walking the dogs
Refusing to help when asked (This includes complaining and pouting.)
Failing to plan for downtime at appointments (i.e., piano lessons,
Mom’s meetings, Spectrum study hall, etc.) by not taking school work
Additional reasons deemed appropriate by Mommy or Daddy
For extreme behavioral issues, your electronic devices may be taken away for an extended period of time.
And I don't necessarily mean that it is good for you, although that is unarguably the case. We all know that. It doesn't necessarily make us do it.
I'm talking something much more base, much more immediate, much more self-serving...and something I want to remember forever, when I'm tempted to forget. When I'm tempted to stop exercising--as I always am--I want to remember this:
Exercise makes me feel better.
So this post is to my future self, the one who will decide that:
+ she's too tired (Remember, you feel much less sleepy when you exercise!)
+ her back hurts (Remember, it hurts less when you exercise regularly!)
+ she doesn't have time (Remember, you have lots more energy when you exercise!)
+ it's too cold (Remember, you can use the treadmill or the elliptical!)
+ it's boring (Remember, there's always Netflix--the inferior motivation for us "less-spiritual-than-Ann-Voskamp-who-listens-to-Scripture-read-aloud-while-she-exercises" types!)
Remember, future self:Exercise makes you feel better!!!
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
On this day every year I remember, with a bittersweet mix of grief and
gratitude, the five little ones our family has been blessed with since
our fourth child was born.
One day we'll meet you in heaven, dear Jordan, Eden, Carlan, Quinn, and Ellery. Though we never properly met you, we miss you just the same.
Three years ago, in late July, I wrote of the loss in a post entitled Losing Ellery: Well, as I sit here
recovering from the grogginess--general anesthesia yesterday, dozing in
and out of sleep all morning--I pause to capture a few emotions. The
nurse yesterday told me the anesthesia would be in my system for at
least 24 hours, and that I shouldn't drive, cook, operate machinery, or
make any important life or financial decisions during that time. The
last one made me smile. Does getting on the computer to post emotions
to the world on a blog count?! At any rate, here they are--groggy, confused, and "under the influence"--but this is what I'm thinking about on this day.
This D&C was the
first I've had performed under general anesthesia. In some ways, it is
much easier, emotionally, that way. Well, at least during the
The natural miscarriage
that was our first one--at thirteen weeks--was really horrible. There
was lots of bleeding (as in "you might as well just sit on the toilet"
bleeding) and excruciating pain (as in "this feels just like labor, but I
don't get the joy of a baby at the end of it so it is even worse"
pain). We had been taken aback by that first miscarriage--shocked,
really--because I had never had any trouble before. The kids and we
were so excited about the baby, and we were all pretty devastated when
it died. We called that baby Jordan.
The next miscarriage was
my first D&C and was actually two procedures since they didn't get
all the tissue out the first time. I was awake for these
procedures--and the barbaric nature of it all is in your face as you
listen to the grinding motor of the suction machine, wince under the
pain of the scraping and poking going on inside you, hear the sounds of
the "uterine contents" that is your baby make its way into the jar
attached to the machine. It really does seem like something out of
early last century; you'd think this technology would have progressed
beyond blind scraping and sucking with a machine that looks like
something you'd use to blow up your air mattress. Anyway, this is
different from the natural miscarriage that lasts days in your home, but
still emotionally difficult as well as physically uncomfortable, and
you tend to cry all the way through it, too. Nurses and doctors who
want to be compassionate but who do this all the time give you small
smiles of pity, and you just want to crawl away somewhere and bawl. But
you put on a brave face and assure them you're fine, and yes, they can
keep going. We called this baby Eden.
My third miscarriage was,
mercifully, more like a very heavy period, just six weeks along, a mere
two weeks past the positive pregnancy test. By three-in-a-row, you're
getting a little jaded and numb anyway, so it was nice to have this baby
leave us in a little less emotional way. By this time, I began to
realize that I was dealing with the pain of the loss separate from the
procedure of the miscarriage itself... it was more of a lengthy,
philosophical journey of "processing" and pain and prayer and tears.
Saying goodbye to little babies you'll never meet is difficult
business...this one we called Carlan.
Our fourth miscarriage
ended with another D&C; that time, like this one, my body was not
getting the hint that the baby had died and that all this pregnancy
stuff it was growing was not needed. The moment the machine started
up--though it had been years since the last one--all the emotions of the
past D&Cs returned, and I relived the loss of all our
babies even as I had to listen to them "remove" this one. It is tricky
stuff, trusting God in the pain of our lives, receiving His will when it
seems so out of sync with what you think you would prefer. This fourth
little life was relinquished a couple of years ago now, at a little
over ten weeks along. That child we named Quinn.
For a couple of years
after this, I did not conceive. I had begun blogging by then, and was
processing a lot of the emotions of these losses onscreen. I find it
therapeutic, having to capture all the myriad of thoughts and emotions
into some sort of coherent thing that I can come back to and read. I
remember my 41st birthday
being particularly difficult, as I faced the reality that my advancing
age may, in fact, rob us of the joy of another child born into our family.
And so now, at age 43, we
say goodbye to another baby. I've really processed the emotion of this
loss over the past several weeks, and so by the time I got to surgery
yesterday--this time under general anesthesia--the goodbyes of my heart
had been said, the tears shed. It was rather a perfunctory-feeling
thing yesterday, since they put me under and I woke up with it all
over. No bleeding and pain, no grinding machine, no reminders of what
was happening to me and to a little baby-who-would-never-be, at least on
And so I sit, a little
groggy and a little sore, with a little spotting, toying with letting the
tears which tickle the corners of my eyes, come... but not so sure I
want to cry anymore. I remember one particular morning, a few weeks
ago, when iivo and I just sat and wept--both of us--as we read the poem
I'd written as I wrestled with letting another little one go before its
time. The goodbyes were really processed then, and the nature of this
miscarriage really allowed the event itself to pass without emotional
fanfare. I embrace the part of that that is a mercy and respite, and
yet I mourn the part of that that maybe doesn't mark it pointedly
enough. Your departure from us, little Ellery, is just as bittersweet
to us as those of your lost brothers and sisters were. And we are sad
that it is now fully completed.
We release you to the One
who loves you more than we ever could have, even if we had gotten to
hold you in our arms and mentor you through this world with all the love
we could muster. We look forward to meeting you one day.
100 Most Often Mispelled Misspelled Words in English
Here are the 100 words most commonly misspelled ('misspell' is one of them). Dr. Language has provided a one-stop cure for all your spelling ills. Each word has a mnemonic pill with it and, if you swallow it, it will help you to remember how to spell the word. Master the orthography of the words on this page and reduce the time you spend searching dictionaries by 50%. (Use the time you save celebrating in our gameroom.)
acceptable - Several words made the list because of the suffix pronounced -êbl but sometimes spelled -ible, sometimes -able. Just remember to accept any table offered to you and you will spell this word OK.
accidentally - It is no accident that the test for adverbs on -ly is whether they come from an adjective on -al ("accidental" in this case). If so, the -al has to be in the spelling. No publical, then publicly.
accommodate - Remember, this word is large enough to accommodate both a double "c" AND a double "m."
acquire - Try to acquire the knowledge that this word and the next began with the prefix ad- but the [d] converts to [c] before [q].
a lot - Two words! Hopefully, you won't have to allot a lot of time to this problem.
amateur - Amateurs need not be mature: this word ends on the French suffix -eur (the equivalent of English -er).
apparent - A parent need not be apparent but "apparent" must pay the rent, so remember this word always has the rent.
argument - Let's not argue about the loss of this verb's silent [e] before the suffix -ment.
atheist - Lord help you remember that this word comprises the prefix a- "not" + the "god" (also in the-ology) + -ist "one who believes."
believe - You must believe that [i] usually comes before [e] except after [c] or when it is pronounced like "a" as "neighbor" and "weigh" or "e" as in "their" and "heir." Also take a look at "foreign" below. (The "i-before-e" rule has more exceptions than words it applies to.)
bellwether - Often misspelled "bellweather." A wether is a gelded ram, chosen to lead the herd (thus his bell) due to the greater likelihood that he will remain at all times ahead of the ewes.
calendar - This word has an [e] between two [a]s. The last vowel is [a].
category - This word is not in a category with "catastrophe" even if it sounds like it: the middle letter is [e].
cemetery - Don't let this one bury you: it ends on -ery nary an -ary in it. You already know it starts on [c], of course.
changeable - The verb "change" keeps its [e] here to indicate that the [g] is soft, not hard. (That is also why "judgement" is the correct spelling of this word, no matter what anyone says.)
collectible - Another -ible word. You just have to remember.
column - Silent final [e] is commonplace in English but a silent final [n] is not uncommon, especially after [m].
committed - If you are committed to correct spelling, you will remember that this word doubles its final [t] from "commit" to "committed."
conscience - Don't let misspelling this word weigh on your conscience: [ch] spelled "sc" is unusual but legitimate.
conscientious - Work on your spelling conscientiously and remember this word with [ch] spelled two different ways: "sc" and "ti." English spelling!
conscious - Try to be conscious of the "sc" [ch] sound and all the vowels in this word's ending and i-o-u a note of congratulations.
consensus - The census does not require a consensus, since they are not related.
daiquiri - Don't make yourself another daiquiri until you learn how to spell this funny word-the name of a Cuban village.
definite(ly) - This word definitely sounds as though it ends only on -it, but it carries a silent "e" everywhere it goes.
discipline - A little discipline, spelled with the [s] and the [c] will get you to the correct spelling of this one.
drunkenness - You would be surprised how many sober people omit one of the [n]s in this one.
dumbbell - Even smart people forget one of the [b]s in this one. (So be careful who you call one when you write.)
embarrass(ment) - This one won't embarrass you if you remember it is large enough for a double [r] AND a double [s].
equipment - This word is misspelled "equiptment" 22,932 times on the web right now.
exhilarate - Remembering that [h] when you spell this word will lift your spirits and if you remember both [a]s, it will be exhilarating!
exceed - Remember that this one is -ceed, not -cede. (To exceed all expectations, master the spellings of this word, "precede" and "supersede" below.)
existence - No word like this one spelled with an [a] is in existence. This word is a menage a quatre of one [i] with three [e]s.
experience - Don't experience the same problem many have with "existence" above in this word: -ence!
fiery - The silent "e" on "fire" is also cowardly: it retreats inside the word rather than face the suffix -y.
foreign - Here is one of several words that violate the i-before-e rule. (See "believe" above.)
gauge - You must learn to gauge the positioning of the [a] and [u] in this word. Remember, they are in alphabetical order (though not the [e]).
grateful - You should be grateful to know that keeping "great" out of "grateful" is great.
guarantee - This word is not spelled like "warranty" even though they are synonyms.
harass - This word is too small for two double letters but don't let it harass you, just keep the [r]s down to one.
height - English reaches the height (not heighth!) of absurdity when it spells "height" and "width" so differently.
hierarchy - The i-before-e rule works here, so what is the problem?
humorous - Humor us and spell this word "humorous": the [r] is so weak, it needs an [o] on both sides to hold it up.
ignorance - Don't show your ignorance by spelling this word -ence!
immediate - The immediate thing to remember is that this word has a prefix, in- "not" which becomes [m] before [m] (or [b] or [p]). "Not mediate" means direct which is why "immediately" means "directly."
independent - Please be independent but not in your spelling of this word. It ends on -ent.
indispensable - Knowing that this word ends on -able is indispensable to good writing.
inoculate - This one sounds like a shot in the eye. One [n] the eye is enough.
intelligence - Using two [l]s in this word and ending it on -ence rather than -ance are marks of . . . you guessed it.
its/it's - The apostrophe marks a contraction of "it is." Something that belongs to it is "its."
jewelry - Sure, sure, it is made by a jeweler but the last [e] in this case flees the scene like a jewel thief. However, if you prefer British spelling, remember to double the [l]: "jeweller," "jewellery."
judgment - Traditionally, the word has been spelled judgment in all forms of the English language. However, the spelling judgement (with e added) largely replaced judgment in the United Kingdom in a non-legal context. In the context of the law, however, judgment is preferred. This spelling change contrasts with other similar spelling changes made in American English, which were rejected in the UK. In the US at least, judgment is still preferred and judgement is considered incorrect by many American style guides.
kernel (colonel) - There is more than a kernel of truth in the claim that all the vowels in this word are [e]s. So why is the military rank (colonel) pronounced identically?
leisure - Yet another violator of the i-before-e rule. You can be sure of the spelling of the last syllable but not of the pronunciation.
liaison - Another French word throwing us an orthographical curve: a spare [i], just in case. That's an [s], too, that sounds like a [z].
library - It may be as enjoyable as a berry patch but that isn't the way it is spelled. That first [r] should be pronounced, too.
license - Where does English get the license to use both its letters for the sound [s] in one word?
maintenance - The main tenants of this word are "main" and "tenance" even though it comes from the verb "maintain."
maneuver - Man, the price you pay for borrowing from French is high. This one goes back to French main + oeuvre "hand-work," a spelling better retained in the British spelling, "manoeuvre."
medieval - The medieval orthography of English even lays traps for you: everything about the MIDdle Ages is MEDieval or, as the British would write, mediaeval.
memento - Why would something to remind of you of a moment be spelled "memento?" Well, it is.
millennium - Here is another big word, large enough to hold two double consonants, double [l] and double [n].
miniature - Since that [a] is seldom pronounced, it is seldom included in the spelling. This one is a "mini ature;" remember that.
minuscule - Since something minuscule is smaller than a miniature, shouldn't they be spelled similarly? Less than cool, or "minus cule."
mischievous - This mischievous word holds two traps: [i] before [e] and [o] before [u]. Four of the five vowels in English reside here.
misspell - What is more embarrassing than to misspell the name of the problem? Just remember that it is mis + spell and that will spell you the worry about spelling "misspell."
neighbor - The word "neighbor" invokes the silent "gh" as well as "ei" sounded as "a" rule. This is fraught with error potential. If you use British spelling, it will cost you another [u]: "neighbour."
noticeable - The [e] is noticeably retained in this word to indicate the [c] is "soft," pronounced like [s]. Without the [e], it would be pronounced "hard," like [k], as in "applicable."
occasionally - Writers occasionally tire of doubling so many consonants and omit one, usually one of the [l]s. Don't you ever do it.
occurrence - Remember not only the occurrence of double double consonants in this word, but that the suffix is -ence, not -ance. No reason, just the English language keeping us on our toes.
pastime - Since a pastime is something you do to pass the time, you would expect a double [s] here. Well, there is only one. The second [s] was slipped through the cracks in English orthography long ago.
perseverance - All it takes is perseverance and you, too, can be a (near-) perfect speller. The suffix is -ance for no reason at all.
personnel - Funny Story: The assistant Vice-President of Personnel notices that his superior, the VP himself, upon arriving at his desk in the morning opens a small, locked box, smiles, and locks it back again. Some years later when he advanced to that position (inheriting the key), he came to work early one morning to be assured of privacy. Expectantly, he opened the box. In it was a single piece of paper which said: "Two Ns, one L."
playwright - Those who play right are right-players, not playwrights. Well, since they write plays, they should be "play-writes," wright right? Rong Wrong. Remember that a play writer in Old English was called a "play worker" and "wright" is from an old form of "work" (wrought iron, etc.)
possession - Possession possesses more [s]s than a snake.
precede - What follows, succeeds, so what goes before should, what? No, no, no, you are using logic. Nothing confuses English spelling more than common sense. "Succeed" but "precede." Precede combines the Latin words "pre" and "cedere" which means to go before.
principal/principle - The spelling principle to remember here is that the school principal is a prince and a pal (despite appearances)--and the same applies to anything of foremost importance, such as a principal principle. A "principle" is a rule. (Thank you, Meghan Cope, for help on this one.)
privilege - According to the pronunciation (not "pronounciation"!) of this word, that middle vowel could be anything. Remember: two [i]s + two [e]s in that order.
pronunciation - Nouns often differ from the verbs they are derived from. This is one of those. In this case, the pronunciation is different, too, an important clue.
publicly - Let me publicly declare the rule (again): if the adverb comes from an adjective ending on -al, you include that ending in the adverb; if not, as here, you don't.
questionnaire - The French doing it to us again. Double up on the [n]s in this word and don't forget the silent [e]. Maybe someday we will spell it the English way.
receive/receipt - I hope you have received the message by now: [i] before [e] except after . . . .
recommend - I would recommend you think of this word as the equivalent of commending all over again: re+commend. That would be recommendable.
referred - Final consonants are often doubled before suffixes (remit: remitted, remitting). However, this rule applies only to accented syllables ending on [l] and [r], e.g. "rebelled," "referred" but "traveled," "buffered" and not containing a diphthong, e.g. "prevailed," "coiled."
reference - Refer to the last mentioned word and also remember to add -ence to the end for the noun.
relevant - The relevant factor here is that the word is not "revelant," "revelent," or even "relevent." [l] before [v] and the suffix -ant.
restaurant - 'Ey, you! Remember, these two words when you spell "restaurant." They are in the middle of it.
rhyme - Actually, "rime" was the correct spelling until 1650. After that, egg-heads began spelling it like "rhythm." Why? No rhyme nor reason other than to make it look like "rhythm."
rhythm - This one was borrowed from Greek (and conveniently never returned) so it is spelled the way we spell words borrowed from Greek and conveniently never returned.
schedule - If perfecting your spelling is on your schedule, remember the [sk] is spelled as in "school." (If you use British or Canadian pronunciation, why do you pronounce this word [shedyul] but "school," [skul]? That has always puzzled me.)
separate - How do you separate the [e]s from the [a]s in this word? Simple: the [e]s surround the [a]s.
sergeant - The [a] needed in both syllables of this word has been pushed to the back of the line. Remember that, and the fact that [e] is used in both syllables, and you can write your sergeant without fear of misspelling his rank.
supersede - This word supersedes all others in perversity. This is the only English word based on this stem spelled -sede. Supersede combines the Latin words "super" and "sedere" which means to sit above.
their/they're/there - They're all pronounced the same but spelled differently. Possessive is "their" and the contraction of "they are" is "they're." Everywhere else, it is "there."
threshold - This one can push you over the threshold. It looks like a compound "thresh + hold" but it isn't. Two [h]s are enough.
twelfth - Even if you omit the [f] in your pronunciation of this word (which you shouldn't do), it is retained in the spelling.
tyranny - If you are still resisting the tyranny of English orthography at this point, you must face the problem of [y] inside this word, where it shouldn't be. The guy is a "tyrant" and his problem is "tyranny." (Don't forget to double up on the [n]s, too.)
until - I will never stop harping on this until this word is spelled with an extra [l] for the last time!
vacuum - If your head is not a vacuum, remember that the silent [e] on this one married the [u] and joined him inside the word where they are living happily ever since. Well, the evidence is suggestive but not conclusive. Anyway, spell this word with two [u]s and not like "volume."
weather - Whether you like the weather or not, you have to write the [a] after the [e] when you spell it.
weird - This word is an exception to the rule about [i] before [e] except after...? So, rules can be broken!