The Best Laid Plans...

Up here in the Northeast, the Biel household, like most others, are counting down the last days of school.  Because I work in the schools as well, I'm counting down just as much as the kids are, maybe even more.  My kids have nine days left of school (and some are not even full days).  I have about seven work days left (holy crap, how am I going to get everything done in seven days?!?).  I'm not sure who is looking forwards to summer vacation more.

On the other hand, 11 weeks of unstructured time is very daunting.  Kids get bored, they fight.  They terrorize each other and trash the house.  But the summer is when I have more time.  This summer, I'm going in with a plan.  I'm pretty sure it will last about 2 weeks before it is totally abandoned, but here goes:

  1. Chores.  Every day, something will get done.  I'm working with each kid on a list of chores that they will do.  Some are daily.  Some are every other day, and some are once a week.  I reserve the right to add more chores at any time, and successful completion by the kids will result in a financial reimbursement.  We're all going to do our chores together, and something will get cleaned every day.  I'm tired of my house never being all cleaned at once, and I, myself, want to keep more on top of things.
  2. Reading.  The kids are really going to read every day, I swear.  Sophia's reading is not where I think it needs to be for her to be successful in 1st grade, so we need to improve it.  Jake is an excellent reader, but lacks fluency.  Also, I'd like him to read for enjoyment, as a hobby.  Books are a wonderful bridge for discussion with other people.  I have a list I want to read as well.
  3. Responsibility.  This kind of goes with the chores, but I really want to instill in the kids a sense of responsibility for their own belongings.  This will mean picking up after themselves, including dishes.  My hope is that with constant reminders, by the end of the summer and into next school year, it will be more habit.
  4. Peaceful co-existence.  I know they're going to fight.  I would like it to be kept at a minimum.  That being said, I don't want to be yelling and nagging all the time either.  I would like us all to have a personal respect for each other and our boundaries that keeps bloodshed and screaming to a minimum.
  5. Summer milestones.  Jake will ride a bike without training wheels. (In his defense, while the training wheels are on the bike, they are so far off the ground that they really don't do anything)  Sophia will go under the water.  Both kids will improve swimming.  I will exercise at least twice a week and hopefully fit into some shorts that are a bit snug.
  6. Sweat, but not the small stuff.  We need to spend lots of outdoor time to achieve #5, but I want for myself to be a little (ok, lot) more laid back, which may help with #4 as well.
  7. Have fun!!  The kids have some camps scheduled, but I want to do fun things too, like go to Howe Caverns, the Great Expense Escape and other various things.  We don't have our vacation scheduled yet, as I'm still trying to figure out my work schedule, with summer school and per diem work.

I know the homeschool moms, the true veterans of having kids at home, are laughing at my plans right now, just waiting for my colossal failure, but this seems reasonable, right?  I know this may not work, and by Labor Day (or August 1st), I may be looking to sell my children to the lowest bidder.  I hope not.  I love not having to set an alarm.  I love not having to rush everyday to get out of the house.  I love that the lunch boxes do not occupy space on the counter and the backpacks are hung up and put away.  I love that we don't have homework or tests.  I love that Jake can be off his medication.

I hope with the extra time, I can also work on getting my book in print form, selling it (both online and in bookstores), and on writing the next one.  I wrote the bulk of Good Intentions two summers ago, so I'd like to try and repeat that.  I'm about 20-25% of the way in, so hopefully I can run with it.

Preserving my sanity starts with a plan.  T-9 days and counting...


  1. Hi Mrs. Biel
    I am from India, a mother of a 6yr old boy (Shaurya) who has cerebral palsy. He underwent the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery in April this year. He has recovered well and we started physiotherapy a month back. He was a spastic diaplegic before the surgery, but now he has normal tone. However he has a lot of weakness in his leg, abdomen and hip muscles.

    I am sorry to write to you uninvited but i need some guidance from an expert on the physical therapy field. We dont have a therapist here in Mumbai, who can help me with his post SDR training. I came across your blog and read some of your artcles. Can you please help me with some strengthening exercises for his weak muscles, particulary the abdomen, thigh, trunk and hip?

    As of now he can crawl, come to kneeling (but cannot sustain for more than 10 counts), can stand up with my support from a chair, needs to held while standing, his knees buckle as he cant lock them for more than 3seconds, can do kneel walking by holding on to my hands.

    He can crawl, climb on to the bed, sit without support by himself in cross legged as well as side sitting position. He has good trunk control but poor balance and strength.

    I am make him do kicking, standing up from a chair, sitting on the ball and rolling him around, walking by holding his hands, kneel walking.

    It would really kind of if you guide me with other strengthening and balance building exercises. I can mail you some of his recent videos if you'd like to observe him. My email id is -

    Thank you for your time.

    Warm regards
    Kamini Tiwari
    Mumbai, India.


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