Friday, December 28, 2012

Video Game Battles with Tweens

My 11.5 year old got a GameStop gift card for Christmas, so of course he asked me for two days, "When can we go to GameStop?" He had his heart set on the new Assassin's Creed game for his PS3. So we went this afternoon, and of course the first thing I asked was if it was possible to turn off the gore/language/nudity. He did not know. Well...turns out, you can't. So we stepped out of line to discuss.

Let me rephrase that...we stepped out of line so I could let him down gently. I know he was crushed. But he knows where I stand. I am mostly concerned about the f-bombs that the sales associate said were dropped constantly in the game, and this is an issue right now because he is at that age where he needs to control the things that his mouth wants to say out loud. It's not like he never hears the word, but hearing it over and over, combined with the other negative attributes of the game...it's just too much for his age. I know he was really upset, but he did not argue. His eyes turned red and a little watery. I felt so bad, but knew I was doing the right thing.

A sales associate tried to help us find something else to spend the $50, and I almost gave up when my son said, "There's only one other thing I want..." I followed him to another section of the store where he showed me this large box. "But it's $75 and I only have $50." I reminded him of the check he got from his grandmother, and he lit up.

The box he was holding looked more his speed. It had these cute little figures in them and the box was brightly colored, more age appropriate, and even better...an "E" 10+ rating. This means it's appropriate for ages ten and up. PERFECT! I'd never seen the Skylanders Giants before, and the sales associate pointed to all the figures on the wall nearby. Holy cow! I guess on the bright side, he will always know what he wants for birthdays and Christmases if he keeps playing these games...

As we checked out, when we got in the car, and again when we walked in the house, I told my son how proud of him I was. Not only did he pick out what looks like a great game for him, he didn't try to talk me out of my decision. This was a huge turning point for us. For the past month, his behavior has been exceptional, and this was just the icing on the cake. Have we crossed a bridge to adulthood? I don't know...maybe.

Anyway, the set is super cool. One of the figures sits on the light up "Portal of Power" which lights up the figure, which you can bring to life in the video game. We have the PS3 version, but it's available in numerous other platforms. It is available at a better price at Amazon. Learn more about it by clicking the image below. If you have a son who is in that "stage" maybe he will enjoy this as well!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Teaching Metric Conversions

This is a great way to teach metric conversions to your child. Study the board first, then I'll explain.
First, the mnemonic device...King Henry Doesn't [usually] Drink Chocolate Milk. You can use the same one, or have your child make up one s/he remembers. Each of these stands for a prefix as you can see in red. The [unit] can be gram, meter, or liter, depending on the conversion they are asked to solve.

You can see one problem in green, and how it is solved on the chart. We want to know how many kg is 200g? So we go to our chart and start at "g," because it is our base unit. We need to end up at kg, because that is what we are converting to. We jump from one prefix to the next, until we arrive at the unit we need (kg in this case). We jumped 3 to the left. Therefore, we will move our decimal 3 places to the left. As you can see in the drawing, we end up with .200 kg or .2 kg.

In the blue, we want to convert 3m to mm. Again, we start at our base unit, m, and jump until we end up at mm (3 times). We jumped to the right, so our decimal will move 3 places to the right.

Kids will ask...What is hecto? What is deka? What is deci? The truth is, they don't need to know these. Tell them what each prefix stands for, but realize that they will NEVER be asked to convert to these, because we simply don't use them. They are really just place holders. If they leave them out of the chart, they won't jump enough...so while they need to know they exist, they will never use these prefixes. This chart will help them "see" why they are moving the decimal and they will learn pretty quickly how many jumps it is to go all the way from kilo to milli (6) or vice versa (still 6!)

If you have struggled with metric conversions and have some anxiety about teaching them to your child, sit down and make this chart for yourself and then work some problems out. Use this as a TOOL to go along with your child's textbook, which will go more in depth with how the metric system is based on tens, etc. You know your child better than anyone, but I suggest using this chart ONLY with one unit at first, probably meters. Have your child understand how it works first, and THEN say, "Hey, guess what...it works for grams and liters, too!" Trying all three in the beginning is probably too much if you are working with a 3rd or 4th grader. Older kids are less rigid and can assimilate easier with different units.

If you have any questions, please ask!

Here is another great conversion tool!

Teaching Conversions to the Right Brained Child

Right brained children work better when they can see things in pictures. When converting from one unit of measure to another, this image will help ALL children remember, but especially right-brained children who might not remember it otherwise.
This image "says" that 1 gallon = 4 qts. 1 qt = 2 pts. 1 pt. = 2 cups, etc. Quick...how many pints in a gallon? How many cups in a gallon? How many cups in 4 gallons? All can be solved quickly by using this picture. Kids might have 2-3 days of unit conversions before moving on to something else. If they draw this 2-3 times, they will remember it on their own, and eventually, will be able to see it in their heads.

On a test, such as a state assessment, they cannot bring this in with them, but they can jot it down real quick when a conversion problem pops up. Now if you remember, there might be 2-3 of these on the whole test. Why bother to teach them this for just a couple of answers? Well, I've needed this info in real life...so it IS one of those things that is helpful to just know.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Why "Stranger Danger" Doesn't Work

If you have told your child, "Don't talk to strangers," have you wondered how your child actually hears this? When we say it, we have exceptions, that as adults, we can qualify. Our children cannot. So when we go places, and...talk to strangers, it sends our kids a mixed message.

For example, how often have you gone to the park, zoo, grocery store, mall, etc. and struck up a conversation with a complete stranger? If you are like me, this probably happens often. So if you are a "stranger danger" parent, your child has probably asked who the person you are speaking to is, because she assumes you know him. And when she finds out you don't, she is left wondering about your "stranger danger" instructions.

When we tell our children not to talk to strangers, we are telling them that strangers are bad, when in fact, the majority of people who come across their paths are not bad at all. As a matter of fact, many of them are other parents. I saw a story where a lost boy scout would not respond to men calling out his name because they were strangers, and he was taught not to talk to them. Kids are literal...we need to remember that.

There IS an alternative to stranger danger. But first, I need to address something else. There are two basic types of parents. There are those who give their children some freedom to roam, and those who hover over every single move. Of course we can go to either extreme and find parents who are too lenient, as well as parents who are way too protective and never let their children leave the house. But for simplicity's sake, I'm talking about parents who are "out and about" with their kids. There is a danger to allowing kids too much freedom too early. We need to provide freedom in baby steps, and allow kids to earn more freedom as they show they are treating their freedom respectively. But there is also a danger in hovering over children and never letting them out of our sight. Let me illustrate.

My daughter walks to her friend's house. It is about 4 houses down, across the street. For a while, I watch her, or, she can walk with her friend. For the most part, the kids in our neighborhood use the buddy system. As she earns more freedom, she is allowed to walk to her friend's unaccompanied and unwatched, but she will text me when she arrives, to let me know that her friend is there and that she can play. Now, there is no doubt that from our house to her friend's house, she has a certain level of anxiety. She knows the danger; she knows she is out there alone and can be approached by a car with people set out to do her harm. Her instinct is alerted and she is on guard to run the second those hairs stand up on the back of her neck.

On the other hand, you have the parent that will walk her child, hand in hand, to the neighbor's house. Every. Single. Time. Seems safe, right? I mean, isn't that what parents are supposed to do? Protect their child? When we don't let our child out of our sight, we are telling him that we don't trust him. You can play the, "It's not that I don't trust you, it's that I don't trust the crazy people out there..." but that is YOUR anxiety. What are you going to do to prevent someone from entering your child's room at night and taking him out of his bed?! The fact is, stranger abductions are rare. And when you don't let your child out of your sight, you not only don't allow him to foster his own level of intuition, you teach him he doesn't need it because Mommy is with him and will take care of him. And what happens in that rare instance when you are not with him? He is in more danger than you can imagine, because he has learned not to be alert, not to be leery of strangers (because you talk to them yourself), and he is at greater risk than the child who has learned to trust her intuition when something just doesn't feel right.

One afternoon, my daughter was in the driveway drawing with chalk. She saw a "strange man" walking on the sidewalk, so she promptly came into the house and closed the garage door until he passed. So I trust her instinct. She has also proven that she is alert. Even though she was looking down and drawing, she knew the man was approaching.

My son and I met one of his Sunday School teachers at the same time. I got a weird feeling about him. Later, to my surprise, my son confirmed to me that he had the same feeling. He is the one who brought it up, and I couldn't believe that both of us had the same gut feeling.

We need to trust our own gut instincts and foster that in our children. The truth of the matter is, as we allow our teens more freedom, they MUST be able to make quick, gut decisions about people that they meet every day. And if we don't teach them when they are young, it is really hard to learn later on. Start with your kids today, and teach them to be independent and to listen to their gut instincts!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Excellent History Curriculum for Christian Families

After trying to teach history to my children using a secular history book, I am SO happy that I have finally found a curriculum for history that I love. As a mom with a teaching degree, I realize the benefit of utilizing different learning modalities for children who learn better in a specific way. The author of this curriculum, Diana Waring, addresses this in her notes to the parent. Also, many varied activities are suggested for all varieties of children who might have different strengths or areas which they love. There are lots of examples you can look at and more information if you go to HISTORY REVEALED, by Diana Waring.

My favorite thing about this curriculum is that it is history from the creationists' perspective. If you believe the earth is billions of years old, this is not the curriculum for you. That said, I suggest you read The Lie by Ken Ham.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

3 Tips to Teach Your Child How to Read



Learning to read at a young age is important for the development of children. It helps them develop a better understanding of their surroundings, allows them to gather information from printed materials, and provides them with a wonderful source of entertainment when they read stories and rhymes. Children develop at different rates, and some children will develop reading skills quicker than other children; however, what's important is that as the parent, you are keenly aware of your child's maturity and reading level to provide him with appropriate books and activities to help him improve.
As a parent, you are the most important teacher for your children. You will introduce them to books and reading. Here are some tips to help you teach your child to read.

Teach Your Child How to Read Tip #1
Teach your child alphabet letters and sounds at the same time. Studies have shown that children learn best when they are taught the letter names and letter sounds at the same time. In one study, 58 preschool children were randomly assigned to receive instructions in letter names and sounds, letter sound only, or numbers (control group). The results of this study are consistent with past research results in that it found children receiving letter name and sound instruction were most likely to learn the sounds of letters whose names included cues to their sounds. [1]

When teaching your child the letter sounds, have her slowly trace the letter, while saying the sound of the letter at the same time. For example, if you were teaching your child the letter "A", you would say:

"The letter A makes the /A/ (ah) sound."
Then have your child say the /A/ sound while tracing the letter with his or her index finger.

Teaching a Child How to Read Tip #2
When teaching your child to read, always emphasize with her that the proper reading order should be from left to right, and top to bottom. To adults, this may seem so basic that anyone should know it. However, our children are not born with the knowledge that printed text should be read from left to right and top to bottom, and this is why you'll sometimes see children reading from right to left instead - because they were never explicitly taught to read from left to right. When teaching your child how to read, always emphasize this point with her.

Teach Your Child How to Read Tip #3
Teach final consonant blends first. Teaching words such "at" and "and" can lead your child directly to learning words that rhyme with these. For example, for "at", you can have:
Lat
Pat
Mat
Cat
Sat
Bat
Spat
Chat

For "and", you can have these rhyming words:
Sand
Band
Land
Hand
Stand
Bland
Brand
Grand
and so on...

You can start teaching blends once your child has learned the sounds of some consonants and short vowel sounds. You don't need to wait until your child has mastered the sounds of all the letters before teaching blends. 

Learning to read is a long process, but it doesn't have to be a difficult process. Broken down into intuitive and logical steps, a child as young as two years old can learn to read, and older children can accomplish even more.


Notes:
1. J Exp Child Psychol. 2010 Apr;105(4):324-44. Epub 2010 Jan 25.
Learning letter names and sounds: effects of instruction, letter type, and phonological processing skill. 
Piasta SB, Wagner RK.
Preschool Language and Literacy Lab, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Georgia Aquarium Review

Recently I traveled back home to Atlanta, where we made our first visit to the Georgia Aquarium. If you are planning a visit to the aquarium, I highly suggest purchasing your tickets online and printing them at home. This prevents you from standing in line once you get there. The line wasn't long when we arrived at 10 am, but there were tapes up where a line would go, and as the day went on, it got more crowded, so I bet those lines were pretty long. We went after school was back in, so I think it's probably more crowded in the summer and weekends as well.

My children and I loved the aquarium. We had just gotten back from visiting Clearwater and St. Petersburg beaches in Florida, so they were excited to see all the fish, dolphins, penguins, etc. Even the frogs were cool! The 3D show with Deepo was great. Only 15 minutes long, but a great little cartoon about taking care of our oceans. Our favorite part, however, was the Dolphin Tales show. Currently, it is included in your entrance fee, but that may change. I'm really glad it was included, because I may have balked at it if it was an additional fee. It is like the old Sea World dolphin show on steroids. It is only about 30 minutes long, but it's amazing. You will see a story being told, singing, dolphin tricks, light and sound affects... it is a MUST SEE! One thing that I wish I'd known about before we went to the aquarium is that you can buy a book about the aquarium that has pictures of everything I had just tried to take pictures of! The book was on sale for $14.99 and I think the regular price was $19.99. I found it after we exited the Dolphin Tales show and I'm pretty sure it's in the other gift shops as well. It's a great souvenir, especially if you don't have a good camera to take your own pictures and/or don't feel like taking a lot of pictures.

One of the things that I paid close attention to was how much evolutionary information was provided. I did not read every piece of info on every creature displayed, but I did not see any at all. The aquarium is more devoted to caring for the animals rather than relaying the history of the animals. So if you are a Christian family concerned about evolution being jammed down your throats, you don't have to be when it comes to the Georgia Aquarium. You will learn a lot about various sea life, and even get to touch some, too.

Overall, the Georgia Aquarium is a hit. We spent six hours there and except for a lunch break and waiting for shows to start, we spent the entire time in exhibits. It was time well spent!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Christians with Non-Christian Friends

My son just turned eleven and I'm beginning to see a need for limiting his exposure to non-Christian friends. Now don't get me wrong, there are some very moral non-Christians out there, and I realize that, but they are few and far between. When I was my son's age, I was not a Christian, and was not being raised in a Christian home. *I* might have been THAT CHILD to some of my friends' parents.

But now that I'm a parent, I see the conflict. Our next door neighbor has a thirteen year old grandson that stays with her during the summer. There have been little issues all along, and yesterday may have been the final blow. My son saved up for a PS3, and purchased it for his birthday in April. (I'm not a fan of video games, but it has been a great disciplining tool!) Yesterday as I was heading out for a "Girls' Day" with my daughter, he informed me that he and the neighbor were going to GameStop to get a game he had been saving up for.

It wasn't until later that evening, after he went out the door with his PS3 to the neighbor's house, that I saw the case for the game he purchased...and it was NOT age appropriate. The game was for 17 and above, and he is obviously no where near that. Long story short, we went back to the store. I'm still not sure how coerced he was into buying the game, but I know he knows enough to know that I would NOT let him buy that game if I were with him.

We had a talk in the car. Well, *I* had a talk, *he* had a listen. I explained to him that I knew that Boy13 is not appropriate for him; I knew that he was fake in front of me and is very different when he isn't being phony for adults. I explained to him that *we* are accountable to God and have the Holy Spirit directing our choices, but that people who don't know God feel they can do whatever they want. And I told him that if he was not strong enough to NOT follow this boy's example, I would have to limit their contact.

Godincidentally, I pulled out a DVD that I'd had for months but hadn't watched yet. It is called Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World. 

If you are struggling with these types of issues, I suggest you purchase and watch this DVD. It is a lecture by Ken Ham, and he does not disappoint. It is older, and you will giggle at the hair styles of the audience members, not to mention Ken Ham's beard, but once you get used to that, the message is clear. The DVD is appropriate for ages 12 and up. Yep, this one I *will* let my 11 year-old watch!

Don Eddy Basketball Camp

In April, I wrote about my son's basketball history. In June, he attended the Don Eddy Basketball Camp, and I have to say, I watched him turn into a completely different player. The camp is great at teaching ball handling drills. It is an offensive camp, but it's amazing what they learn about defense as well. One of the least favorite things my son experienced at the camp was probably the one thing that pushed him the most as a player.

He was partnered with two other players for the week for their "3 on 3" games. One was a pretty lazy big kid who preferred to attempt 3-pointers (and made very little). The other was a small girl, who looked to be about 8, whose skills were lacking, who was also a ball hog. She had to be, because she knew once she gave the ball up, she would probably not be getting it back! Big Lazy also had an attitude and often made Little Girl cry. (She was pretty irritating, but give her a break!) My son, The Defender, was the only one who realized the other team would score if they didn't play defense, and I think it was only because I was watching and pointed it out.

The week started out pretty ugly during "3 on 3." I think he dreaded that portion of camp. Big Lazy and Little Girl just didn't seem to help The Defender out much. Not that he did everything right, either, but I saw him learning as the week went on. I saw him playing pretty aggressive basketball, because he realized HE was the one who "got it" and HE had to step up and perform. I WAS AMAZED. Seriously, I was almost to the point of tears. Okay, maybe I DID tear up a little...

The Defender gained the knowledge, the skills, the how-tos, and wanted to play on the winning team. But that was not to be. So instead of sulking and giving up, he used what he learned and realized HE could make it a winning team. They did win some games, even games against some of the better teams. When we left on the last day, he did confirm how he despised his "3 on 3" team. I laughed. "You have noooooo idea what being on that team did for you," I told him. "Because of that team and because you practiced what they taught you, I guarantee you that you improved more than anyone else here at the camp. By a lot. Sometimes God has a plan for you that isn't very fun, but it gets you to where you want to go." I think he gets it. I hope so.

If you have the opportunity to attend a Don Eddy Camp, DO IT. Just do it...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Behavior Problems in Schools

Yesterday my son attended day 1 of a week long basketball camp.  I arrived about an hour early so I could observe the instruction and my son's participation. I pleasantly learned something, and secretly wished I could stay ALL day and watch. But I also noticed a problem. There was this kid...this ONE kid who was out of control. Of course, he had to be in MY son's group, right? He was knocking the ball out of other boys' hands when they were doing shooting drills. He was grabbing the ball away from others when it was not his turn. He was pushing others out of their spots to take the spot he wanted. I watched him for about twenty minutes and came really close to getting up myself and telling him to behave.

The scene is this: A gym full of 60-80 kids ages 8-18. They were broken up into 6 groups. There were only enough basketballs for about one to every two players. So there was some wait and share time, but everyone got a turn. The problem was, he did not know how to patiently wait for his turn. He either made it his turn, or bugged the others he was waiting on. This is a Christian basketball camp. I think if it were not, he would have gotten knocked out by someone on day one...

I asked my son if the boy had gotten in trouble at all during the day. "Ooooh yeah, " he said.

"A lot?" I asked.

"Yes."

On the drive home, I thought about school. I thought about those same boys on the basketball court dealing with a kid like that at school. Because every classroom has a kid, if not kids, like him. I imagined these boys EVERY SINGLE DAY having to deal with a kid like that. He never shuts up. Asks off the wall questions just to throw the teacher off. Pokes the kid next to him. Always playing pranks. Throwing things at kids. Not paying attention. Getting his (or her!) group in trouble. Could you imagine that? Do you remember that kid in your class?

Imagine all the time (YOUR CHILD'S TIME!) that gets lost at school because of this kid. Even worse, imagine your child's frustration. Like that co-worker you try to avoid...at least you have a choice! You are probably going through the steps in your mind right now of the discipline procedure that should be in place for this child. You probably have already had him thrown out of school in your mind.

Now what if it was YOUR child? Hmmmm

I know why I prefer homeschooling my children. But my daughter's reason for WANTING to be homeschooled is completely different from mine. I am 100% sure that her #1 reason would be exactly the above. I wonder how many other children would choose the same if given the choice.

Is your child dealing with a troublemaker at school?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Children Leaving the Church

Did you know that attending Sunday School is actually a risk factor for children leaving the church? And did you know that while most parents think their children leave the church in high school or college, they are actually checked out by middle school and only attend because you make them (or that's where their friends are)?

Would it surprise you to know that this information has been out since 2009, and likely very little to nothing has been changed by your pastor or at your church? Church is like a business: if they told you what they were doing wasn't working, you would stop giving them your money. So instead of addressing it, they continue to sell you a bill of goods. They continue to cash their paychecks, while our kids, our future, are left to fend for themselves, with secular educated Sunday School teachers leading them astray.

In Ken Ham's book Already Gone, you can learn more about this.

If you don't know who Ken Ham is, I feel that your child is even at greater risk of abandoning his Christian beliefs. Ken Ham has put back into our faith the importance of believing the one, true story of creation- instead of believing the evolution taught in schools, and yes, even in Sunday Schools. If you don't understand WHY the importance of teaching creation is so vital to understanding the rest of the Bible, you don't know Ken Ham. It is clearly his passion, and your child's faith (and consequently your grandchildren's faith) are obviously very important to him.

How important is it to you?

Does your child attend public school? (Or even Christian school?)
Does your child attend Sunday School? Do you know what he is learning in there, and what he is being told about the creation story?
Do you know the biblical story of creation? Do you teach it to your child?
Are you weak in apologetics? Is your child?

If your child does not have the correct information (from YOU) about the biblical story of creation, he will believe whatever else he is taught, that goes in direct opposition to what the Bible says is true. How can he believe the rest of the Bible, then?

Get educated. Get the book. Already Gone.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Second Child in Braces...Oh MY!

Yesterday my nine year old got braces. By the end of the day, she was ready to have them off. The next three years should be fun!

When my son got his braces last August, he was in a lot more pain. But my daughter is just bothered by them. Her teeth hurt to a degree, but she hasn't asked for ibuprofen every 4-6 hours like he did. I think her mouth is just irritated by them. She is a grinder, so I purchased a $6 mouth guard that is meant for playing sports. The orthodontist suggested it might help her at night, since she was already having jaw pain and frequent headaches which could possibly be caused by the grinding. She has used the mouth guard to help protect her mouth from the braces as well.

A word about mouth guards, from my experience... I purchased one for my son which has proven pretty handy. It cost $20. In less than a year, he had chewed completely through it. Apparently, he clinches or chews when he plays sports. As I was looking for new ones yesterday, I was able to compare the cheap one to the more expensive one. The expensive one was more rubbery, while the cheaper one was harder plastic. It seems that the cheaper one would be harder to chew through. They are shaped completely different, and the cheaper one is easier to talk with in your mouth. We shall see what happens...

Anyway, wanted to give another shout out for kids with braces. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get your kid an oral irrigator! Heck, even if they don't have braces, it's handy. I can't tell you what a difference it makes in your child's teeth and gums. It also massages the gums when they are in pain. If I ran an orthodontist office, I would include it in the price and give them to my patients! This one's awesome... (click on it to learn more!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Being Able to "Afford" Staying Home

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how I am able to afford to stay home with my children. I am a single mom, but hear often how two parent households are unable to become a single-earner household. How can I do it, but they cannot?

I usually end that thought with, "Because God works things out," and that is true. I've never been late with a bill (unless I forgot about it, or thought I already paid it!) and my kids have never really gone without. I mean, they don't get everything they want, but if they want to do a sport or activity, I am able to make it happen. God provides for us, there's no doubt about that. But should I assume God doesn't provide for the others who "want" to stay home?

I say "want" because the reality is that some moms say that, but they don't really mean it. They "wish" they could, but they "just can't financially swing it." Truth is, they don't know what they would do with themselves (or their child) if they were "stuck" home all day with them. But that's a whole 'nuther topic for another day!

So how can I afford to stay home with my kids? Well, obviously I make money. It is not a lot. But it is enough. It seems to expand...because I don't drink Starbucks, get my toenails done, get my hair cut, go to the dentist, go to the doctor, take vacations, buy work clothes, or eat at expensive restaurants. These are the things I've noticed that parents from two-earner families do. That's great for them. But if that is you, don't come up to me and explain why you can't afford to stay home with your child...while you judge my toenails, homemade haircut, missing teeth, and worn out clothes! We all can "afford" what's important to us. I just hope that you realize that before your kids are grown and all you have left is fancy nails and vacation pics!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When Children Leave Home

I'm sitting here in my super messy, very cluttered living room, realizing how tired I am of trying to get my kids to clean up after themselves. And then it hit me. I'm officially about halfway through my "stay at home mom" career, and before I know it, it will be over! The kids will move on (hopefully) and I will be left here with my own messes to pick up and no one to nag about finishing school work, cleaning up art supplies, or picking up their toys. What will I do with myself?!

No...really...what WILL I do with myself? Obviously I will still have my business to run, because I'm sure I will still enjoy eating...and a roof over my head... But other than that, what will I do with my time? When the kids were little, I enjoyed scrapbooking. But I quickly realized it was too stressful, because I'm a perfectionist who is never happy with my creations. Same with sewing. Sewing is fun, but when something goes wrong, you have to stop and fix it...yuck.

These days, my time is spent going to or watching kids' activities. There is dance, baseball, basketball, soccer, Taekwondo, swimming, cheerleading, and football... I just can't imagine not having these things anymore. I guess after the next nine years, I may feel differently. As they are able to drive themselves, or drop some activities, my time will slowly become mine again, and when they finally move on to college, or career, or whatever is in their futures, perhaps I will appreciate the time and find things to fill it. Like Bingo...or Bridge...isn't that what old ladies do? Perhaps I will garden. Who knows?

All I know right now is that SOMEBODY needs to pick up this living room. What a mess!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Kids Today

I took my kids to the park yesterday. This isn't a major event and typically I wouldn't blog about it. But I noticed something yesterday that found me thinking, "I MUST blog about this..."

My daughter decided to swing, so we headed to the swings together. Shortly after my daughter sat down on a swing, the girl next to her, whose mom walked halfway across the park to help her stop the swing, fell out of it. Backwards. The mom was already heading back to her gaggle of friends who were harassing her in Spanish, so she did not notice her daughter (about six) holding her elbow and crying. I asked if she was okay, and she looked at her mom walking away, then nodded her head, "Yes."

I then saw NOT ONE, NOT TWO, but FOUR other children fall out of the swings. Two were too young to be on the swings alone. (And the parents were no where to be found). One was plenty old enough, but still fell backwards. The other fell off the swing backwards with parents RIGHT THERE. She was also old enough to swing alone...about three...but she could not. I then saw a girl, about three, sit on the swing and grunt until a parent came and started pushing her.

What is wrong with kids these days?!!!

I can't imagine having a child that can't sit in a swing without falling out. Keep in mind that the swings were not even swinging! Are kids today so uncoordinated that they can't sit in a swing or get it going themselves, or, I don't know...ASK for someone to push them? I couldn't believe what I was seeing, but then quickly realized I shouldn't be surprised at this since I see how parents coddle their children. Granted, my kids started MyGym at the ages of two and one year. I remember going to the park and watching my two year old daughter scale a ladder effortlessly and then see a 5-6 year old not know how to climb up. I'm not sure how this happens. If you can't get your kids into programs, or don't feel they are necessary, at least take them to the park! Play with them. Push them in the swing. Let them climb the ladders. Because if you wait too long to get your kids active and into doing natural kid activities, there will be a mom at the park with your much too old kid, just looking for something to blog about. Oh, and because they will look like a fool at school...should they attend.

Also, stop letting your kids run free at the park if they are under two. What are you, crazy?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Struggling Basketball Players

It was a regular day at our homeschool basketball camp, until my son approached me to get a drink of water. "Guess where he put me?"
"I don't know..."
"Point guard."
Silence.
"Point guard?"
"Yep."
I had to see this...
My son is in his third year of basketball. Well, his second year, if you take out the first year that he played and his teammates learned not to pass the ball to him. Even during practice, they would scrimmage, and leave him out. He ran up and down the court...for nothing. I stayed silent, though I felt the coach was making an error, because I knew his teammates would learn their lesson when they HAD to pass the ball to him during a game and he would not know what to do with the ball. He was eight at the time, and could barely make a free throw. The one time he did try to shoot, he was fouled, and missed the free throw.
The next year, he played at the Y. I drove an hour away to get him into a better program, where I hoped he would learn more. His fundamentals improved slightly, and he learned to be a great rebounder, because he had to in order to get the ball! He still needed work on ball handling, but that would come in time. I can't remember if he ever tried to make a shot that year. He certainly didn't make any.
This fall, he played his third year, and also played again in winter. He was now one of the tallest boys on his team, and his feet were probably twice the size they were when he was eight. He fell over them a lot. He made a lot of rebounds, and finally...FINALLY...made his first basket! He had a lot of close shots, certainly better than not shooting at all, but the anxiety he causes himself was definitely diminished after he finally got that first one out of the way.
So now it was time for homeschool basketball camp. They had seen him play for three Wednesday afternoons. Six hours all together. And they put him at point guard. Were they crazy? Or was this coach a genius who knew what would make him step up?
The scrimmage got underway, and I suddenly got it. No longer was he allowed to piddle around in the background while everyone else moved the ball. He did not just run up and down the court, hoping for a pass. He couldn't. He did forget, numerous times, to stay back and get the ball. "Oh yeah...I have a different job." And he didn't listen to me to keep the ball down and got it stolen from him as well. But as I watched, I couldn't help but wonder if the coach was really that smart, or if this was divine intervention? For weeks I had been trying to figure out how to make him understand that every player has a job to do, not just the player with the ball. On defense players would go right by him, even though I know he knows what he's supposed to do. He just gets so busy watching the game and forgets that he's IN the game! As a single mom, I knew I had to choose my words carefully. Nobody wants his mom teaching him basketball when he is almost eleven years old. But I never came up with any words. How do you teach a child to get IN the game?
You put him at point guard.
Afterward, he said he loved playing point guard. He has lots to learn, but now he has the motivation to work on the ball handling drills he has learned at camp. He may never play point guard again, but the lesson he learned will stick with him. It is difficult to become a great athlete when you only have a mom and a little sister at home. Thanks to good coaches who look past the surface, he is well on his way...

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Potato Project: The Importance of Organics

This video is very interesting, because my son did the potato experiment and got...NOTHING. Now we know why. Here is the video:


This has inspired us to do our own experiment on something else. Stay tuned for the experiment video and results!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Answers in Genesis SALE on DVD's

This is an AWESOME sale if you want to stock up on DVDs about creation-based topics. I just got some for my kids and myself. Sale DVDs are just $7.99 with coupon code 1202, plus every 5th DVD is FREE. Just visit Answers in Genesis Bookstore.The sale is good through March 31. Just go to the DVD Super Sale page and they will be listed for you. I bought 10 DVDs, some with double discs, and shipping was only $4.99. Some titles include:
Genesis: The Key to Reclaiming the Culture
Fearfully & Wonderfully Made
Genetics, Evolution, and Creation
Dinosaurs and the Bible
and LOTS of other great titles!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Poor "Reporting" in Politics

I get a free copy of our local paper, The Wichita Eagle, which is left in my driveway for me to "read." The paper was a week old, but as I went through the paper for pertinent sales or coupons, I noticed an article entitled Kansas GOP gets ready for Caucus in March by Dion Lefler. I must be a slow learner, because I'm used to the national mainstream media neglecting to cover the whole story, but for some reason I was surprised to see a local paper doing the same thing.
If you are a Ron Paul supporter, aka "Paulbot" or "Paultard," you know what I'm talking about. I've found myself wondering if our schools are so bad that they don't teach reporters how to properly report the news, or are they learning in the field to only partially cover their stories? In any case, you can read a similar article online if you'd like to see what I'm referring to. Feel free to leave a comment there.
http://www.kansas.com/2012/02/06/2205610/kansas-gop-preparing-for-march.html

Call me a Paultard, but call me FREEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Online Parental Controls

Due to an incident with another child using my son's computer, I was up until 3:30 am making sure everything that was supposed to be getting blocked actually was. But it wasn't. It was very frustrating, because while facebook was blocked, another website, with "porn" actually IN the domain name, was NOT! And you know that the very first page of that website had all kinds of filthy images you never want your 11 year old son to accidentally come across. It makes me sick just thinking about it.

I came across the website quite by accident. All I did was google my maiden name. A number of sites came up, including these disgusting porn pages. The text in the results was bad enough, but clicking on the url made me about lose my stomach. We use Titanium Maximum Security for keeping these kind of websites unviewable, but I had to go in and manually block this url. And it wouldn't "take" so of course I was up all night until it would.

I bring this up so that YOU can double check your parental controls. And to let you know that you need them. As much time as I spend on my computer, you would think I'd be on top of that, but the fact is, our kids go looking for things sometimes and sometimes it is pushed right in front of them. Don't take the chance, and make sure your kids' computer is locked up tight! They will never get those images out of their heads. Trust me.

Five Biggest Misconceptions About Unschooling

Here is a great article on unschooling. We do part unschooling, after we have done our math, reading, and writing for the day. I don't stress so much about the science and social studies or history lessons, because they learn those throughout the day and just by living life. Here is one family's perspective:

Five Biggest Misconceptions About Unschooling

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Excellent Creation Curriculum for Kids

Recently I stopped by Answers in Genesis on a quest for a curriculum for my kids. I own numerous tools already purchased from AiG, so I already knew I liked their stuff. But when my daughter informed me that, "We don't really learn about God in church," I knew exactly where to find information that I trusted to be accurate.
You might be wondering why we are attending a church where the kids aren't learning anything. To be honest with you, I am suspicious of all church programs because even when they ARE learning "about God" what are they learning about Him? Most church teachers are as confused and misled as the unchurched are about creation, which leads to numerous errors in teaching, so really, what's the point? I do like that their teachers care about kids, enjoy the kids, and provide them with good life lessons (based on the Bible, at least), but it is my job to correctly teach them what Creationsists believe and have discovered about the beginning of life.
What I discovered at AiG was a wonderful Bible curriculum that can be used at home or at church for ages 7-11. Perfect! It arrived last week and I've been reading through it. I am SO excited about starting our lessons next week. The book contains 30 lessons for the teacher, student handouts, a music CD, and a teacher resource DVD-ROM with illustrations and printable worksheets. You can also order separately additional student handouts if you are teaching more than one child. You can learn more by visiting Answers in Genesis. I highly recommend this curriculum if you are interested in creation-based Bible lessons. If you have no clue what "creation-based" means, I highly recommend it for you as well. The best way to think of it is this: If, when you are reading with your child information that includes "millions of years ago," you don't stop and remind her that the earth is not that old, you have been taught to believe contrary to what the Bible says. Learn the truth according to the Bible, and pass that truth onto your children!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Birthday Party Games

Personalized Keepsake ScrollsWhen it comes to birthday parties, we go all out. For my children's parties, I usually have some sort of craft or activity planned that is age appropriate for most of the guests. For instance, my daughter had a "Blue's Clues" party at age two, and I provided blue play doh, Blue's pawprints to find, and a Blue's Clues puzzle for kids who wanted to do a puzzle. (We also asked everyone to wear blue!) My son had a pirate birthday party at age 4, and I hid some clues and sent the party guests on a hunt for the "treasure." For my daughter's third birthday, she had a princess party and everyone dressed up (except for the boys!) We had made some wooden princess wands that they painted and decorated with glitter and sequins. The boys made slingshots and we gave them some items to "sling!"
But let's face it: most parents don't have the time to plan elaborate events and want to get the birthday party done quick and easy. That is where birthday party printables come in handy! These printables are games and activities for all ages, even adults. They are perfect for winter time when it might be too cold to go outside to "wear off the sugar." The next time you have a party coming up and not enough time to plan, you might find one of these activities just right for your party!


Ron Paul 2012!

Red Ear Slider: Turtles are a LOT of Work!

About a year and a half ago, my son decided he wanted a turtle. To his dismay, it is illegal to purchase turtles in the state of Kansas. Darn it.

His dad told some friends of ours to be on the lookout for a baby turtle in their creek. To my dismay, they found one. It was a red-eared slider, maybe an inch and a half long. He was a cute little booger. But soon, I found out how much trouble turtles are, and how much they cost!
At first, we dug up worms and fed him that. Then it got too dry and worms were hard to find. But that was the least of my concerns. We kept him in a little plastic box with water. At least I knew it was an aquatic turtle, but that was all I knew. At the pet store, thankfully I ran into someone in the turtle aisle who knew all about red-eared sliders. I realized then how little I knew, and it was a miracle that the turtle had survived thus far! I did know enough to take the turtle outside everyday, but did not realize how much water they needed to be in. They have to be in enough water to turn 360 degrees, because if they end up on their back, they have to be able to turn over. If the water is too shallow, they can drown. Weird, huh? Here are some other things I learned...
1. An adult red-eared slider will need a tank AT LEAST 40 gallons in capacity.
2. It is necessary to have both a basking lamp (over a "turtle dock") where the turtle can bask, as well as a lamp providing UVB rays, necessary for keeping the turtle's shell healthy.
3. Young turtles should eat everyday, while adults can eat every other day. Commercial pellets are available, which are very convenient and not expensive at all.
4. The average life span is 20-40 years with proper care.
5. Cleaning a turtle tank is very important to keep the turtle healthy. A filter appropriate to the size of the tank must run constantly. The sides and bottom should be scrubbed when scum begins to accumulate. It is easier to have no rocks at the bottom of the tank, so that debris like turtle poop and leftover food can't hide. When debris accumulates, there is s simple siphoning vacuum that works well. The water should be changed frequently. The filter should be replaced about once a month.

As you can imagine, most of the responsibility of the turtle, aka "Snappy," has fallen on me. My son does help me, but I would prefer it not be my job at all. I mean, it's not like a puppy that can warm your lap or give you "those eyes." It's a turtle! A cold-blooded, hard-shelled, appreciate nothing turtle! But my son loves him, so I do what I need to do. He wants a parakeet for his birthday. That's NOT gonna happen! Here is Snappy now...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In-line Skates Review

Before I had kids, I enjoyed rollerblading, and did it often. But once pregnant, and then pushing a stroller, I gave up the hobby and got rid of my skates, thinking I would probably never skate again. Then my kids got older and loved going skating on weekends, and of course, I had to join them! When my son outgrew his roller skates, he wanted "rollerblades," or inline skates. I found a great pair at Sports Authority a couple of years ago. They adjusted from sizes 1-4, and he put them on and loved them from day one. My daughter continued to wear her "Barbie" roller skates until she outgrew them, and got her brother's hand-me-down rollerblades, which were still as good as new. He moved up to the next size, which fits sizes 5-8. Shortly before Christmas, I found a great deal on some for me, and then found the male version of my skates for my boyfriend. We were all set to go. Or maybe not.

My boyfriend had bought his three kids some inline skates from Target. Like my kids', they also were size adjustable. They were a little cheaper than what I paid for my kids' skates, but looked very similar. One of his daughters had worn my daughter's rollerblades, so she immediately complained that the wheels on her new skates did not "go" like they were supposed to. They did not sound the same either. They had a plastic sound, where ours have more of a rubber sound. They all felt rubbery, but obviously they are not all the way through. Then, my boyfriend's son put my boyfriend's on, and my boyfriend put his son's on, and that's why I am writing this. His son was unable to hold his feet quite right in his own skates, but when he put on his dad's skates, his feet were straight, and he immediately was able to skate better. My boyfriend said that he could actually feel the line of wheels under his foot in his son's skates, rather than feeling like his foot was on the platform that sits over the wheels. It was a HUGE difference! Why is this?

Well, first off, price has a lot to do with it. All of the skates for me, my boyfriend and my kids were Rollerblade brand inline skates. I did not realize it at the time, because my kids' were labeled "Bladerunner" which I found out later are made by Rollerblade. There are other brands out there, which I'm sure are just as good, but the only experience I can speak of is with Rollerblades. My boyfriend's skates are the Rollerblade Spiritblade Xt Men's Skate, my skates are the Rollerblade Spiritblade Xtw Women's Skate, and my kids' are the Rollerblade Bladerunner Phaser Kids 4 Size Expandable Skate. I looked at the construction of the skates, comparing the cheaper skate to the Rollerblades. Visually the construction is a bit different, but structurally, the cheaper skate is much more flimsy and doesn't seem to provide the stability necessary to keep the ankles straight. The brand to avoid is Schwinn. I'm not sure if Rollerblade was the first company to put out inline skates, but I know that they have been making them a lot longer than Schwinn, and I'm guessing that Rollerblade has worked out the kinks over time and Schwinn is putting out a product that most people won't know is inferior. But after seeing both brands next to each other, and with three of us able to try both kinds, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, the difference in price is insignificant when you look at the difference in quality. It is possible that a child in the Schwinn skates will never be able to skate well. They can literally turn a child excited about skating into a child who puts them away to never try again.
If you are shopping for inline skates any time soon, save up a little longer and get the better brand!

Tom Woods