The giant calendar will save us all

By Mir
August 5, 2013

Today is the first day of Monkey’s last year of middle school, such as it is. (“Such as it is” because homeschooling does not include the typical hallmarks of those hallowed middle years such as gum on the underside of your desk, stolen lunch money, and being knocked into the lockers every so often.) This is a sacred and serious occasion, which we are marking by… ummmm… well, I should probably wake him up and then figure that out. I am TOTALLY on top of things, as you can see.

His online classes “open” today, and then our new homeschooling co-op starts next week, and everything feels familiar yet different and I am very busy NOT NOT NOT thinking about what we’re doing next year for high school, which of course means I am obsessing over it to the point where if it was a scab, I would be a bloody mess with MRSA by now. (You’re welcome for that visual.)

But before the start of school, we decided to go have one last hurrah in the woods. As you do.

We packed up the trailer and the dog and a couple of Monkey’s friends and headed off to our favorite campground for one last camping weekend. Lemur and his younger brother were coming with us early on Friday because their folks and older brother couldn’t leave until later in the day, so we agreed to meet up at suppertime and off we went. Once we arrived at camp, several things became obvious in short order:

1) Remember all the ants we had in the house, and then the Bug Guy took care of them? All of those ants clearly moved to the campground.
2) Three boys are three orders of magnitude louder than one boy.
3) We had exactly zero cell signal, which is normally lovely, but not so fantastic when you’re trying to coordinate with another family.
4) Lemur’s family was going to be late, and Lemur’s younger brother was both hungry and anxious about this delay, and “We’re going to wait for your folks to eat dinner, do you want a snack?” was only satisfying the first five times I said it. (Also it may not have been reassuring when I offered that clearly their folks were never coming, so we were going to have to adopt them and they could be part of our family, but I thought that maybe we’d change their names, and how did they feel about Bartholomew and Englebert, if so?) At one point I became convinced that we could burn a ton of time by throwing the boys in the lake, but it turned out that our borrowed boys had left their swimsuits with the rest of their family’s camping gear. Whoops. No matter! Eight hundred rounds of Apples To Apples later, everyone was feeling somewhat better.

All was well at the end of the day; we fed the boys, and Otto drove up to the camp office to get a cell signal and an update, and eventually everyone arrived and set up and then it was time for bed. Hooray! But Saturday and Sunday were loads of fun.

When we returned yesterday, Otto and I managed the world’s fastest unload/unpack/laundering in the history of camping trips, proof that we’ve finally got it down to a science. We were ridiculously proud of ourselves. And that left plenty of time to do a little bit of school supply shopping with the kids. That was a FANTASTIC idea, because you know who else was at Ye Olde Big Box Store getting school supplies the last Sunday before school starts? That’s right! EVERYONE! And you know how I love crowds.

Thank goodness my kids are super helpful.

Me: Okay, I think we need, like, a GIANT calendar that we can put EVERYTHING on. We’ll hang it by the computer and put all your class due dates and stuff on it, Monkey. So let’s look for that first.
Monkey: I want to buy some candy.
Me: What? We’re not here for candy. We’re here for school supplies.
Monkey: But I want to buy Chickie some Sour Patch Kids. I have money.
Chickadee: Gosh, Mom, you’re always telling us to think of others. The kid wants to do something nice for someone else, you should let him.
Chickadee: So we’ll go find the candy and meet you by the… whatever it is you’re buying. Okay, bye!

School supplies at Casa Mir: One giant calendar, two boxes of Sour Patch Kids, and a new Wii game. No, I don’t know how that happened, either. (The problem is that Monkey is way too flush for a 13-year-old. That kid hardly ever spends money, so when he decides he wants something, he’s all “BUT I HAVE LOADS OF MONEY!” and it’s true, he does. Plus he was all, “I checked the price on Amazon and it’s the same here as there.” I’m raising such good little researchers!)

We came back home and I wanted to work on the calendar, but the kids wanted to beat each other senseless in Super Mario And Everyone Else In Nintendo-Land Bloody Brawl Of Pounding Violence, or whatever it was, so I gave up and the calendar remains pristine, in the kitchen.

But I’m getting organized, man. This morning it is ON. While Monkey starts his classwork, I’m going to turn that thing into the family scheduling hub if it kills me. I HAVE COLORED MARKERS AND I’M NOT AFRAID TO USE THEM. I’m thinking… blue for marching band practices and football games and other Chickadee activities. Red for online course due dates for Monkey. Orange for co-op days and online lecture sessions. Green for doctors’ appointments. Yellow for holidays. Brown for any travel dates. Pink for any project deadlines Chickie wants to add.

And purple for my inevitable nervous breakdown in trying to keep it all straight. I’m thinking mid-October might be nice.


  1. Amanda

    I too bought a HUGE calendar of organization last year for the same reasons. It was even FREE with our other school supply purchases. Guess where it is now? Go on, guess. Yep. Still in pristine condition over in the corner of forgotten things. The blank backs of the months will be great for painting this year. Google calendar is my savior. It sends me alerts, and I can sync it to the child’s ipad, so it can annoy him with deadline alerts while he’s playing games when I told him to read.

  2. SillyMe

    oh yeah. I should get school supplies. School starts in 2 weeks for us. It might also be a good time to empty those backpacks from last year…

    • Brigitte

      Oooh, yeah, gotta empty my dd’s backpack too!

  3. suburbancorrespondent

    Hmmm, I give each kid a color (for all his activities), so at a glance I can see which child is being neglected each week; and then I divvy up the other colors among doctor/dentist appointments, family fun stuff, other boring stuff.

    Color-coding can solve the world’s problems, I believe. Maybe we should send Obama and Kerry each their own set of markers.

  4. deva

    I need to get something like that, and it’s just for my husband and myself.

  5. Nancy R Mir. Go watch the video on the website. It’s the answer for the electronic age…although I’m still working on getting he kids to add items to the shopping list when they run out…

    • Jenna

      I LOVE COZI!

      • Jenna

        I wasn’t done :o(

        I do love Cozi, and it has helped my husband and I immensely. We track everything, from business meetings to dentist appointments to groceries. A couple of weeks ago I had scheduled the kids dentist appointments. He gets a reminder call for them, but for the wrong day. I had put the ones I had scheduled into Cozi, he swore the reminder call was for the day before and I must be wrong. A heated debate ensued, so I told him to take the kids if he was so sure he was right. So he packed up the three kids (8, 4, and 2… no small feat) the next morning and took them to the… wrong dentist on the wrong day. Cozi and I triumphed!

  6. Frank

    Second the thought of Cozi… all of you have some sort of smart device now, right?

    On a related thought…. if you purple in your breakdown in Oct… and you actually GET there before it comes.. you will be OK.

  7. Kelly

    Definitely schedule time for your breakdown when the calendar never even gets updated for the next month…. :)

  8. Rachel

    A paper calendar? They still make those? Hmmm interesting…. I superdee duperdee extra large pink puffy heart iCal… can choose differernt colors for different things, kids chores in blue, our home stuff in green, work in orange… most of my kids sports have schedules that can be up-loaded to iCal so once I subscribe, boom there they are. THEN, when the sports schedule changes it automatically updates on MY calandar too! Awesome. Also, for recurring things you only have to enter it once & it populates to all the days. But, my favorite part is that since we are all apple geeks in our house, the calendar is on the cloud, so we can all access it on our own devices. In theory, my kids COULD add their own stuff (but they could clean the bathroom without being told too, haha). At least they can check the calendar when ever, where ever they are. That part is awesome. At grandmas & the kids want to stay for another day? In the past the paper calendar was at home so I would have to guess if they had any activities they might be missing, but now the answer is in my purse! I do still print the paper version tho, so the spot on the wall that used to be the home to the paper calendar isn’t lonely. =)

  9. Karen R

    My handwriting skills are …not good… A large calendar and markers is not something that ever worked for me. I wish you better luck — it sounds like a great idea. What did work for my family was a large markerboard hanging where everyone could see it. I divided it by child and weekday, and printed, laminated, and magnetized strips with every possible event we could have. Those strips were stuck in the appropriate spaces. Any events that were not pre-printed were written in by someone with legible handwriting. I included graphics with the laminated events, so they got everyone’s attention.

    In addition, I always had (and still do) a printed copy of the calendar I keep on my computer, which has *everything* on it. I would be lost without my wonderful computer calendar, complete with alarms.

    Best wishes for an organized school year.

  10. Chuck

    My sister swears by her giant calendar. She keeps it on the refrigerator door.

  11. Aimee

    I think mid-October is such a good time for a nervous breakdown. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. All you need is a light jacket.

    • Aimee

      A light STRAITjacket, that is

      • Curious Cat


  12. Arnebya

    We have a huge calendar on the door of the side porch in the kitchen. It’s by the trash can that much food falls beside. There is nothing on it for August but school starts the 26th. My older daughter asked if she could put my pay dates on each month. Can you see my blank stare? I do want the calendar to work out and we started using it in January. It’s consulted occasionally (although SOMEONE has taken to adding things post-occurrence and trying to say, “but if you’d have just checked the calendar.” I am naming no names but OK THE PERSON LOOKS LIKE ME. It’s me! I’m not using the calendar. All of the projects will be late.

  13. jen

    We work a combined uber calendar. We use Google Calendars for long-term scheduling. Multiple user access and sharing levels. Color coding. Text message reminders. Free. Then we have a dry erase calendar on the fridge. I’ll either print out the google calendar and post it on the fridge or I just transfer then info to the dry erase calendar at the beginning of each month. It has been really helpful for keeping visibility on everything going on. We are also a split household, so my ex-husband has access to the google calendar and it helps us to keep track and plan those items.

  14. Lisa

    I keep a huge paper calendar in the kitchen (tried Cozi and eCalendars at my husbands..umm…suggestion). It helps us a lot but color coding is just too much work for me. If you have your breakdown in October, you could do it in San Diego with me & combine it with my 39th birthday (a.k.a “I’m getting old” breakdown).

  15. Crickett

    I confess, I use Google calendar myself, shared with my husband, and I’ve set one up for my daughter.

    HOWEVER, if you’re dead set on a paper calendar, I HIGHLY suggest the one from Flylady: Get the one with student stickers. I used to use them, and I never used all the stickers, but then I only have one kid…and she’s only 8 now. That calendar has HUGE daily squares, and a folder type back for sticking stuff in. Use different colors for each person. Use one of those magnetic bars from Ikea, and stick it on the door that everyone uses, so it will be seen every day!

  16. Mary K. in Rockport

    We used/use a paper calendar with big huge squares for each day, color coding, and picture stickers when the kids were too young to read (and for my mother when she got somewhat gaga.) It worked well except for when Mom (me) forgot to turn the page over at the beginning of the month and we missed something on the 1st or 2nd……..

  17. zilla

    I 100% believe in a paper calendar, with color coding for each person in the family.
    Blue for the boy child, pink for the girl child, green for the husband, and orange for me…cuz I like orange the best.
    I actually have a series of calendars…2 at home and 2 at work. They set my mind at ease and usually work for me.

  18. TC

    I have a lovely, color coded whiteboard/calendar, too! Each of us has his or her own color, and everything is nicely filled in, with all sorts of pertinent info. So now, whenever I need to relive May-June of 2013, when I bought the thing, I should be good to go! Because…yeah…not so much on the erasing and updating after that first month of organizational frenzy.

    Hope you have better luck!

  19. bryan

    Google calendar user. Whatshisname and I have one for custody (it gets complicated around here), each of the kids has one. I have one. And i can see it all with ONE CLICK. (Plus I get an email.)

    I don’t have a smart phone, at least not a very smart phone, but I have the google fu.

    • Mir

      The husband and I use Google calendars religiously, but somehow the children are not joining us the way I’d like them to. A giant visual in the kitchen has to work, though, right? Right??

  20. My Kids Mom

    Yeah, go write on that calendar in INK. Because as soon as you do, that band practice? It will change to another date. I’m positive that ink causes this; I have watched it happen again and again. Give it a try and you’ll see.

  21. Jenne

    More Time Moms has an awesome calendar (with STICKERS!! OMG so many STICKERS!!). Their calendar was actually the basis for the FlyLady calendar, many many moons ago.

    I actually have all my birthdays, anniversaries, annual events, etc. that I print on clear full-sheet labels. My New Year’s Eve tradition is to sit down and do my calendar for the year. Because we are party animals, clearly.

    But it is color coded, I’ve made my own stickers . . . . and I am pretty damn confident that I am the ONLY one who looks at it.

    But it’s pretty. Like Mir.

  22. Jenne

    I will email you pics of my not-as-pretty-as-Mir, color-coded calendar ;)

  23. Crisanne

    I do a color for each family member. It will work if you use it! :)

  24. Lynda M O

    Mid-October is the perfect time for a breakdown; may i join you cuz by then I’ll be nuttier than that fruitcake my mom keeps sending every dang holiday,

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