Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Visit with Santa

This year, our visit to Santa was a little different. In past years, at least one of my two children were very hesitant to visit Santa. They go in boldly, then shy away the closer they get to the "big guy." But this year, there was only minor hesitation, and that was only regarding who would go first. They both stared at him in the little house on Main Street, as they argued in whispers about who should go first. (As if Santa couldn't hear them from 3 ft away!)
Anna went first, and shared the note that she had written for Santa. She had three items on her list and she read it to Santa. She would not look him in the eye. She is not a shy child, but I think that Santa, the all-knowing, all-seeing man was too close for comfort! When it came Thomas' turn, I noticed how he would not take his eyes off of Santa's face. This is VERY odd for Thomas. He normally does not make eye contact unless he knows you and decides to let you into his world (he's very picky). I decided that he was simply growing up and getting over his fear of the Big Man. When we got into the car, the first thing he said was, "Santa sure does sound a lot like Mr. John at church!" (He was).
"Really?" I asked. "I hadn't noticed."
The best thing is that since "Mr. John" is our pastor, he knows their names when they walk in the door, which totally baffles the kids from the get go! Here they are:

Friday, December 12, 2008

We've Been Invaded!!

There comes a time in every homeschooling mom's life, when she realizes that her children are simply not doing what they have been told to do. The other day I was in my bedroom, when I knew that the kids were not sitting at the table doing school work, but doing something in the living room. On my way to the office, I poked my head through the doorway to redirect them, when I got the laugh of my week. Staring back at me were two little aliens, ready to attack their mom (I'm sure of it!) They probably didn't realize just how hilarious they looked, so I took a picture. Then it occurred to me that my son let his little sister wear his coveted Darth Vader costume. So I quickly became grateful for the sharing attitude and didn't mention the neglected school work. It got done later!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

First Snow of Fall 2008, Anthony, KS

Just a couple of days ago, my son complained, "When is it EVER going to snow?!" (As if it weren't JUST the beginning of December). Yesterday it was close to 70; today it is 29 and snowing. Welcome to Kansas! Of course both kids had to get in all their snow garb and immediately head out to the snow. I think they were out there for about an hour when they finally came in, freezing and hungry. They had fun, but my prediction is that by the middle of February, I will hear the same, "why does it have to snow AGAIN?" complaints that rang through the house last year. Here they are playing:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Turkey Poem

Well, it's December 1st and you know what that means? Christmas is 24 days away! What I want to know is how this happened so fast. I remember New Year's Eve like it was yesterday! It also means that Thanksgiving is behind us and we have fridges full of leftover mashed potatoes, turkey, and green bean casserole. If you're like me, you have a freezer full of turkey pot pies (thanks to my sister!) We had a great Thanksgiving with my sister visiting, and we went to our friends' across the street to eat. Our turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole made it safely across the street, but our other neighbor's sweet potatoes didn't make it, as the dish exploded when it came out of the oven. It might sound mean to say she deserved it, but she did and she knows why! :o) (Little details that won't make the blog, but if it did, you'd get a good laugh, I promise!)
So anyway, I wanted to share this poem that someone posted in a group I'm in. I thought it was super cute, and appropriate for all ages. Enjoy!

Black November
When I was a young turkey,
New to the coop,
My big brother Mike took me out on the stoop,
Then he sat me down,
And he spoke real slow,
And he told me there was something that I had to know;
His look and his tone I will always remember,
When he told me of the horrors of..... Black November;
"Come about August, now listen to me,
Each day you'll get six meals instead of just three,
And soon you'll be thick, where once you were thin,
And you'll grow a big rubbery thing under your chin;
"And then one morning, when you're warm in your bed,
In'll burst the farmer's wife, and hack off your head;
Then she'll pluck out all your feathers so you're bald 'n pink,
And scoop out all your insides and leave ya lyin' in the sink;
And then comes the worst part!" he said not bluffing,
She'll spread your cheeks and pack your rear with stuffing."
Well, the rest of his words were too grim to repeat,
I sat on the stoop like a winged piece of meat,
And decided on the spot that to avoid being cooked,
I'd have to lay low and remain overlooked;
I began a new diet of nuts and granola,
High-roughage salads, juice and diet cola;
And as they ate pastries, chocolates and crepes,
I stayed in my room doing Jane Fonda tapes;
I maintained my weight of two pounds and a half,
And tried not to notice when the bigger birds laughed;
But 'twas I who was laughing, under my breath,
As they chomped and they chewed, ever closer to death;
And sure enough when Black November rolled around,
I was the last turkey left in the entire compound;
So now I'm a pet in the farmer's wife's lap;
I haven't a worry! , so I eat and I nap;
She held me today, while sewing and humming,
And smiled at me and said: "Christmas is coming..."

~Poet Unknown

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Baby Turns 6!

My daughter turned six yesterday and it's about darn time! She is one of those kids that is year older in your head than her actual age, so I've been wanting to call her "six" for a good year now. She asked me yesterday, "are you going to say I'm seven now?" If you knew her, you would understand. She started reading at age 4, so she is a really good reader now, even better than some 7-8 year olds we know. She has always been socially mature. She is into hair, make-up, and fashion. And she has a natural understanding of grown up things that most kids don't have. She is very perceptive, so I have to be very careful what she picks up on if it's an adult topic that I don't want her to be ready for!
So the night before her birthday, she reminds me, "don't forget to set up my birthday table like you did last year, you know, when I got my umbrella?" As if *I* would forget something like that! My mom started that tradition and every year I would wake up with a special table set up with my presents, flowers, etc. I don't think the birthday child should have to wait until a party to get her gifts- she should get them first thing in the morning. Since we homeschool, we didn't have to worry about running late for school. As a matter of fact, we took the day off!
When Anna woke up, she said from her bed, still one eye closed, " you know what T-O-D-A-Y I-S?" (She can spell, too!)
"Thursday?" (Giggles)
We got past the formalities and she got up and went to the table. Our dining/school table was full of schoolwork from the night before, so I had set up a smaller table in the living room. She saw the dining table and I saw the disappointment on her face. She tilted her head in that, "really?" sort of way. "You forgot!" she said.
"Of course I didn't!" I replied and then she decided to look around. Then she saw it and a still-missing teeth grin appeared as if to say, "okay, I still love you."
She had a great day with her brother. They built a fort, and watched Nim's Island underneath it. Birthday calls came in and interrupted the movie over and over. We had lunch at Pizza Hut, her choice. Then she had her good friends (three sisters) come over for a small "Little House on the Prairie" party, where she got a new pink computer from her dad, and her favorite gift, the The Kathleen McKenzie Doll - Life of Faith Series .
I have to brag on my children for a moment. Yesterday I pretty much let them have the day. Except for cleaning up their fort before the party, they did not have any chores or requirements. Last night I was so tired that I went to bed at 9:30. They were both playing on the computer, so I told them they were to be IN BED by 10:00. I had visions of them staying up until 3:00 am like they'd done before and wondered how often I would have to repeat myself before they got into bed. But, they did what I asked! I couldn't believe it. I don't know what time they actually went to bed, because I was pretty out of it. But all was quiet when it was 11-something, so I'm pretty sure they hit their mark. They were probably worn out as well, but I'm going to take it as they just decided to give Mommy a break and obey the first time. I love my kids!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Halloween Costume Contest Winner - Again!

Two years in a row, my son won the costume contest for his age group. First with his astronaut costume, then with his policeman's costume. This year, he had an awesome costume (Darth Vader), but there were three other Darth Vaders! So...we still had a winner this year, with my daughter's Little Red Riding Hood costume! She was so cute. She chose her costume, and I just found it online for her at Costume Express. You never know what the weather will be like on Halloween, and this year it was HOT! At 5 pm it was 88 degrees! It did cool off as it got later, but the parade through main street was at 5:30 and my poor son was dying under his Darth Vader helmet. He took it off when we got to the end where they do the costume judging. His head was soaking wet! We got a laugh out of that. Here are their pictures:

Chaplin Nature Center, Ark City, KS

Recently our homeschool group visited the Chaplin Nature Center in Ark City, KS. It's about an hour from our home and was well worth the drive! If you live in the area or plan on coming through, make plans to check it out!
The project our kids worked on was checking the water quality of the creek not far from the nature center. Their job was to scoop out samples of the muck from the creek bed and investigate the creatures that they found. It was a cool day, and it never occurred to me that a creek would be teeming with such life late in October. But it was! We found lots of baby frogs, and I can't remember for the life of me all the other creatures, but there were tons. Next time maybe I'll take notes! We dug through the muck collected in the nets, some with fingers, some with sticks. The children were given boots to wade out further into the creek, and they had fun doing that. Here are some pics of our group:

You can probably see the various ages in our group and the number of adults there, too. What a difference from "school field trips!" Our guide, Shawn, was very nice and guided us through the project in identifying what we had found. On our hike back to the building, Shawn asked if we wanted to go down to the bridge where we might be able to see a snake. Of course, we did, and we saw a snake! We also saw deer tracks and raccoon tracks. Then we went inside to evaluate using a numerical scale how the water faired. It was "good," I believe. Each type of invertebrate we found was worth a certain number of points. The more and varied the invertebrates are, the higher the point value, the better the water quality.

After our "lesson" we ate a bagged lunch and then let the kids go explore. I plan on going back at some point. I will probably wait until it gets warm again! One thing I forgot to mention is that the nature center building has lots of mounted animals in it that are really cool to look at. There are other activities in there, but the most memorable are the mounted animals that most kids don't get a chance to see up close.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frugal Tips for Stay at Home Moms

There are a number of frugal things you can do to save money when you are a stay at home mom. My favorites are shopping at Goodwill or consignment sales for children's clothes, and living small. If you don't have a local children's consignment sale, think about starting one. They are usually held twice a year (once for spring/summer, once for fall/winter) and you can get anything and everything a baby or child might need. Sellers tag their own items and drop them off where they are organized by the people putting on the sale. Then you have 2-3 days to shop for things you need. You pick up your items that didn't sell and a few weeks later, you get a check in the mail for what you sold. This is a great way to recycle still-wearable children's clothes. It is a way to make a few bucks AND keep yourself out of the store.

Living small is something that is difficult for families to do these days if they own their home- mainly because it is nearly impossible to sell a home right now! I was able to down-grade when I became a single mom, and our rent is much less, and so are our utilities. Living in a smaller home is also a great way to keep "things" at a minimum. If you don't have room- you don't buy it! And that is an automatic savings plan for you and your family!

For more frugal tips, visit Simply Vicky.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Must See Video on Why YOU Must Vote

I've tried SO hard to keep politics off of my blog. Finally, something came across my path that is non-partisan and very worth sharing here. Please watch this video, and share it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scripture Stories- Joseph

As I mentioned before, we use The Story of the World for history. Today, we read about Joseph, and I thought, "hey! I can use my "Joseph" felts to help illustrate the story!" I did and it worked out wonderfully. It occurred to me as I read, just how many times the kids had heard this story. But I also realized that every time we read it, we are using a different version and more details are added in each year. In a couple of years, I will be able to get out the Joseph felt set, and they will be able to tell ME the story! That is sort of how the felts work. Kids can retell the story in their own words, sharing the details they remember (hopefully). It is also a great way to know what they learned and catch the parts they didn't (in "school" this is referred to as "testing" :o)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hooked on Phonics Coupons

I've decided to update coupons here when I see new ones to help families out with this great program. Right now, through Nov. 30, 2008, you can save 20% on your purchase of $75 or more when you use the coupon code EM4508F2. I will try to keep this post updated with current coupons, but please honor the expiration date given here and don't come after me if the coupon code does not work after that date. While it might still work, don't count on it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Members of Our Family

I don't think I've mentioned this here, but back in September, a couple of kittens came up to our back door at 11 pm one night and have been here ever since. They are SO adorable, and I'd be jumping for joy except for one problem: I'm allergic to cats! Well, the other problem is that I was not anticipating having to feed two very hungry kittens, get their shots, get them fixed, etc.

Which brings me to a bit of a sore subject, and I'd like to share what I learned. Because I had to keep them outside for a good part of the day, they brought fleas in. I tried to do the least invasive thing and bought them flea collars. They did not help at all! When I finally went to the vet to get something real, they sort of giggled and I know why. I mean, if flea collars were worth anything, why would all of these other products have come on the market? So the flea collars are in the trash. Sigh. More money down the drain.
Some good news, though. When my allergy symptoms included a sore throat, I began drinking lots of water with apple cider vinegar and honey. (Get Bragg's ACV with "the mother" and raw honey!) Before I knew it, the allergy seemed to have disappeared! The cats are in the house full time now and I've been fine. I've even gotten to love on them lots without sneezing, coughing, or itchy eyes. If you have an allergy, perhaps this remedy will work for you, too!
I'm sharing some of my favorite pics. It is so cute the way they cuddle up as much as they can. And so funny how they fight when they are awake!

Our Chore Chart

Everyone does her own chore chart and has her own philosophy on whether or not children should get paid for helping out around the house. I've come up with something that works for us. My kids get allowance to spend on the things that they want. That money is a "given" and does not change. Out of that money, they tithe, save, and get what's left. If they want to earn more money, they can "work." Each item is assigned certain points, and for each point they earn, they get a play dollar to put in their pockets. One item on their list is "End Argument." My kids fight all the time. Neither of them wants to end it. So it almost always escalates to someone getting hit. So if one of them decides to be the bigger person and compromise or walk away, they will earn a point. As they work on other issues, I will adjust their chart. They also know that if I have to tell them to do it, they don't get a point, unless they do it after being asked the first time, because they also get a point for obeying the first time I ask (another current issue).
Once they have gotten 10 one dollar bills, they trade it in for one 10 dollar bill (Math!) Once they have reached ten $10 bills, they can trade the play money in for real money that they can spend, but only get 50% in real money (More math!). So if they have $100 in play money, they get $50 in real money. I hope that this teaches them the benefits of saving money! This is perfect timing with Christmas fast approaching.
I forgot to mention, there are things that cause them to lose these dollars. For instance, say a curse word- lose a dollar. (Yes, unfortunately, another issue.) If someone hits someone else, they lose a dollar. This has already been effective, since it just occurred to me that I haven't heard a curse word in a while.
Hopefully this will give you an idea of a way to keep checks and balances in your house. While I'd love to be the mom with perfect children who would do everything correctly and smile while doing it, I'm settling for being the mom of kids who need incentive before they learn how good it feels to do right, be right, and live right. I'm still working on that myself...

Learning About Pyramids- and Building Them

Last week we learned about pyramids and how they were built. It never occurred to me before, but what I learned is that during the annual flooding of the Nile, the men would build the pyramids as a service to the pharoahs, sort of like working off a tax or debt. It's really amusing how much work they put into building something that would serve as their burial grounds and a place to hide their "stuff." And yet their stuff (and sometimes their mummies) would get stolen at some point anyway. It's not much different from our government officials doing things that are pretty pointless and getting paid nicely for it.
I have really gotten into learning about creation science and the book of Genesis. It's funny how looking at Genesis differently affects how I look at the new stuff we learn in school. I can only imagine the benefit Christian kids in public school would get if they were taught in this way.
Anyway, at the end of our study on pyramids, we built one with Legos. My daughter and I built the one in the picture, and my son built a burial chamber that was not pyramid shaped, but had guards and other fun stuff. We played Legos for a long time and had a lot of fun.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Printable Halloween Games

If you are having a Halloween party, this might be something fun to consider: instantly downloadable, printable Halloween games. They are super fun and will be the hit of every party this Halloween!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What is the best Phonics Program?

If you are searching for some advice in choosing a phonics program, I have compared two programs on my website, which might help you decide. I wanted to put the information here, but blogger does not like my knowledge of html and Frontpage does. (I know...I know...) Anyway, go here to see some great phonics programs...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Studying Ancient Egypt

Recently while studying ancient Egypt, we made our own clay cuneiform plaques with our names on them. Of course, my daughter and I had to decorate ours with colorful shells and stuff. My son is going to paint his, but right now it's plain. Because hieroglyphs (and later cuneiform) took longer to carve, they used fewer letters than we do today. For instance, "Anna" would have been written "Ana". "Thomas" would be "Tomas." Why throw in the "h" when it's not necessary?

Just before this project, we saw a Little House on the Prairie episode where "Pa" carved someone's name into a rock. Being television, it looked like it only took him a few minutes to carve. I don't think children can appreciate how long it took the Egyptians to carve into rock!

The clay we used was pretty nice to work with. It is the "Air-Dry Clay" from Crayola. It is very similar to the brown clay I used in school that had to be baked, but it is white, and does not have to be baked.

Our next lesson was on mummies. I had bought this book that is SO cool and had to share it. It will be useful for years, as the kids read more and more of the information that is available. There is a lot of information there! Basically, it opens up and each page you turn removes a part of the mummy, until you get down to the actual skeleton and the canopic jars showing the organs in them. The pictures I've taken are just a couple of the pages. Hopefully this is enough to give you an idea of what it provides. The kids loved this book and were eager to get through their lesson so that they could look at it. And that was before they knew what it would do! My son looked at it for an additional twenty minutes or so, mesmerized by everything he could learn! Here it is:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Teaching Creation

We use BJU Press "Bible Truths" curricula and just finished learning about the 6 days of creation. This has become a topic of interest to me lately, since I've gotten my hands on some good science books that come from a young earth perspective. I remember many years ago our Sunday school teacher was heavily into this topic, but I wasn't ready to hear it so I just brushed it aside. Now that I'm learning it for the benefit of my children, I realize that is probably what he was going through since his children were reaching the age of learning it. So now here I am, feeling like a kid again, learning things I should have learned growing up!
Many Christians have tried to mesh two belief systems- the Christian "Bible story" of creation, and the evolutionists' theory that the earth is billions of years old. So we subscribe to the idea that God's "day" could have been a million years long. Unfortunately, most Christians haven't been taught that the science does NOT prove evolution, which is what we are led to believe. (By the way, most atheists or evolutionists know as little as Christians about the science behind evolution. We are pretty much all ignorant!)
Anyway, to make a long story short, I've got something for you, and something for the kids. First, stop by Answers in Genesis Bookstore and subscribe to Answers magazine. It is a great resource for parents, as well as older kids. It does have a section for younger kids, which is useful, so it's really great for the whole family. I found out about Answers magazine from Dr. Jay Wile, who spoke at our homeschooling convention. Great speaker!! I'm so glad I got to hear him and learned so much about apologetics and the best way to teach science.

For the younger kids, here is a great resource to reinforce, teach, and test on the 6 days of creation. It is the Creation set from Story Time Felts. My 7 and almost 6 year old LOVED using the felt pieces. As we talked about each day, we put the appropriate felt pieces up. For "testing" I removed them all and gave them each a few circles to place in the correct spots. Even the "testing" is a great teaching moment. Since I have the felt dinosaur set also, I used that background in particular since we talked about the dinosaurs being one of the kinds of animals that God created on the sixth day. If you didn't know that people and dinosaurs lived at the same time, please subscribe to Answers magazine!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Economic Lessons

With everything going on in our economy right now and everything you are hearing on the news and in political debates, maybe you are lost. I would be, too, if I hadn't just read a very interesting book that helped me understand a little better. Coincidentally, I read this book before things got really bad, since my son was learning "Economics" on a second grade level last year. If you want to understand our economy better, or want a good way to explain it to your kids, get this book:

Back to School

Of course, we've been back to school for a little while, but it occurred to me that I haven't shared much school stuff lately. Over the summer, we learned about rainforests. I had a teacher's activity book on rainforests, and with my knowledge of lapbooking, we made our own version of a lapbook, which I think turned out pretty good. Here is one of them:
Now, if you wanted to do a lapbook without doing your own planning, you can purchase a kit from Hands of a Child. I recently became a "Super Member" and also saw that the Unit Extenders are available for their rainforest lapbook for free when you become a Super Member. There are lots of other free items and resources, and for what you pay to become a Super Member, it is TOTALLY worth it! Super Members get a free lapbook to download each month, as well as a 15% discount for the life of the membership. (And of course the freebies that you also have access to during the life of your membership).

I mentioned before that we chose Jeannie Fulbright's "Exploring Creation with Astronomy" for science this year, and it is working really well. Each day I read from the book, and the kids notebook about what they have just learned. The kids really like this book!

History is also very much enjoyed by all of us. We are using "The Story of the World 1" and have learned about nomads and living on the Nile River. We are currently learning about Egyptians. We learned how to make a "berry picking pouch" which was perfect timing because our neighbor needed someone to pick acorns out of our tree for a craft project! The kids learned a little about sewing during this activity. We did not use a machine! Here is one of our pouches:
We already had the fabric on hand, and we used shoestrings purchased for around $1.50 a pair. The shoestrings were nice because the ends made it easier to work with. My kids are 7 (boy) and almost 6 (girl) and they both enjoyed this. My son even made a cape last night out of the same fabric!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What will your child be for Halloween?

As of right now, I will have a Darth Vader and Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween this year. If I get the nerve up, I will be the wolf in grandma's clothing as my daughter's "accessory." Of course, we'll take pics and share! If you are hurtin' for ideas, click on either link below to browse!
(When you buy through these links, you help save our theatre! Thanks for looking!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Personalized Felt Dolls Sale During September

I can't believe I haven't mentioned these here yet! I absolutely LOVE the personalized "photo" felt dolls from Story Time Felts. What you do is select your child's best photo, send it in after you order your doll, and a few weeks later, your daughter has a felt "paper" doll that looks just like her to play with. Appropriately named "Just Like Me" dolls are the hit of every birthday party and a favorite gift under the tree at Christmas. This year they are on sale in September to allow people to get them in plenty of time for Christmas. There are a variety of clothing options you will choose from, or you can get them all and give the additional sets later on.

Felt toys are wonderful, quiet educational toys that keep children occupied in the car, in church, in the doctor's office, etc. The learning possibilities are endless! With a doll that looks just like her (or him!) your child will always have a little buddy to tag along for the outing. And if you plan ahead, I'd get one for you, too!

Monday, September 1, 2008

I Got a Bike!!

Okay, I got it a few weeks ago, but I held off mentioning it because I wanted to take a picture of it. I really wanted one of my kids to take a picture of me on it to prove I can still RIDE a bike, but we've been busy. :o) It was "one of those things." I'd been wanting a bike, and told myself that I would get one for Christmas. I was driving along when I saw a yard sale up ahead. They had a LOT of stuff. Most importantly, they had a practically new bike for $50! It had been ridden 4 times and sat for the rest of the year. I hopped on it and tried it out. Except for the squeaky brake, it rode perfectly! (Oh, and I figured out later that I will need a new seat. Whoever designed the current one must have never tried it out. Ouch!)
So life has been very different "post bike." We have ridden all over town. We run errands on the bikes. We go shopping on the bikes. It has been so much fun! I can't tell you how much gas we have saved! I'm so happy! My kids are 7 and 5.5 and love riding with me. They hate wearing their helmets, but they will get over it. I am teaching them to "ride with traffic" and I wonder what the motorists are thinking when they come upon us. Either, "get outta the way, crazy people!" or "I should be riding a bike, too!" The speed limit on main street is 20 mph so it's not like we're keeping them from getting anywhere. We live in the perfect town for biking, except for the elderly people who can't see where they're going, and the 14 year olds with permits. But that's why they make helmets, isn't it?!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Helping Children Excel

Last night I saw Shawn Johnson win a gold medal in the balance beam finals at the Olympic Games. We had been watching the gymnasts ever since the Games had started, so we got to see their emotional roller coasters and could imagine what it felt like to be there- and how one wrong move could end their dreams. How nerve-wracking just watching it!

But last night, Shawn Johnson just BEAMED. She isn't even my child and I teared up just thinking about the work that went into that one event. The YEARS and HOURS of practice and training are something that most kids could not even imagine. Then I saw her parents, holding each other and bawling. What a great story! I can't even put into words how happy Shawn was when she knew she had the gold. She couldn't stop smiling. She waved to the camera, and you could tell she was finally able to relax. After all, she had not been able to get a gold medal until this event final. She had a silver for team competition, silver for all-around, and silver on bars until this final event. Her teammate and competitor, Nastia Luikin had already earned a gold on all-around, so it was just icing when she silvered next to Shawn Johnson's gold on beam.

Switching sports really quick, then there is Michael Phelps. Need I say more? LOL I actually grew up swimming, so that is a sport I definitely watch. Obviously he is a little more expressive and manly with his joy. If you watched any swimming at all, you know what I'm talking about. But watching these athletes and others compete- and excel- is not only pure joy, but a reminder of all the positive things that come out of helping children excel.

None of these athletes could be where they are without their parents. But what many parents don't realize is that we don't have to raise olympic athletes in order for our kids to gain the same pride and joy that we see at the olympics. It happens every day at little league games, summer swim programs, singing competitions, boy and girls scouts, academic competitions, and other competitive events. I still remember the amazing catches, and the look of amazement on swim coaches when I actually swam as fast as I told them I would- even though they didn't believe me. Not only did it feel wonderful at the moment, but I still remember them, even 25 years later. There is just something about working toward something, and it paying off.

Now you may be asking, what about when your child doesn't win? What if silver is the best they can do? The one thing I don't like about the Olympics is that you walk away with a feeling that gold is first and silver is last. That probably helps athletes do their best in training, but to see them disappointed when they get second is a little sad. With our own children, that is part of life. Sometimes you will win. Sometimes you won't. (Unless you are Michael Phelps and you take all the gold medals yourself!) Some kids will work harder for the next time. Others will quit completely. My feeling on it is that if your child was meant to do a certain sport or activity, they will love it so much that they look past the second place finishes, and even the last place finishes. Their passion for it drives them more than the recognition, and when they finally do win or place better, it's just the icing on the cake.

Helping children excel is important, but it's even more important that we do it in a loving, nurturing, and positive way. We have all seen the parents that push too hard. We are probably even that parent from time to time. My rule is that you should try what you want to, and finish out the season and give it your best. But you can't quit half way through, and you can't give up before the season is over. I actually play ball with my kids: soccer during soccer season, and baseball/softball during that season. This is how I can help them, by teaching them the skills they need and giving them a chance to practice.

In academic areas, it's really easy to excel when you homeschool. It just sort of happens. I think this is because they see their parent excited about the subject, and also because they still have a love for learning.

If I had to give three steps for helping children excel, they would be:
1. Be involved
2. Be active
3. Be loving
Yep, even when your child strikes out AGAIN, there will be something positive he did in the game that you will be able to point out. Focus on those things and keep on practicing!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

US Pollution Sent to China

As the 2008 Summer Olympics approach, the news stories remind me of something I've been thinking about for quite a while. I've seen lots of great reports over the last 5-10 years about how much the US has improved the air quality and environment in most big cities. If you just read the articles, you might think, "wow, finally our country is doing something good!" (Not so fast...)

In the very same newspaper or the very same news program, you might also learn about the number of businesses that have moved overseas. You might hear the grumbles and gripes about losing manufacturing plants to places like China, that can produce the same products for far less.

Are you putting two and two together yet?

Has anyone but me noticed what's happened? We didn't so much improve air pollution: we shipped it to China! I guess that's a benefit to sending our business to China. And now they will have our money to help fight the cancer increases they have suffered due to their increased manufacturing with the lowest environmental standards (if any).

I'm writing about this here because most of the American public has been duped. And I hope that I am raising children who will not be so easily duped by news articles into believing every word that is spoken or printed. I've already given my children the "little kids in China made that piece of junk toy so that you could play with it for five minutes and then throw it in the trash" speech. As they grow, I try to teach them critical thinking and problem solving. I don't want them growing up to believe that politicians are on their side, the news is real, or that they have to go to college to learn how to work for someone else. We live outside the box, think outside the box, and grow outside the box.

If you haven't seen the The Story of Stuff , go there NOW! Watch it daily. As I become a horrible consumer in the eyes of my country (shopping at garage sales, Goodwill, consignment sales, etc.) I wonder what would happen if our whole country became horrible consumers like me. Of course, it will never happen as long as there is money to spend. Some people will just never care. But I look at my kids and how their spending habits have developed. My seven year-old (who just sat down to watch The Story of Stuff with me) has decided that all he really wants is Legos. He has already learned that all those toys that look so fun on the shelf turn out to be- not so much fun. Like most kids, they are playing a lot of computer games or online learning games. Outside of the disc and packaging material, the main resource that goes into these products is intelligence. One day, I believe, we will not buy STUFF so much as we will buy the ability to DO STUFF.
For instance, I purchased Jump Start World at the store. It has an online component to it, where you can pay for your child to continue on with the game. A sneaky way of sucking kids (and parents!) in, but once I saw what my child was learning, it was worth the $75 I paid for the rest of the program! So now we have an educational game that my child has spent HOURS on, and not a big plastic toy that MIGHT get played with once and a while. I truly believe that this is the wave of the future. And I also believe that the children at the forefront of producing more advanced games or providing highly technical expertise will be homeschooled children like mine.

There are so many reasons why teaching kids to think critically should be at the top of our parenting list. Not only to decipher the news, but to make change, and become technologically advanced if that is your child's calling. Because mark my words, eventually China will wake up and want to send their pollution right back over and we will either welcome it back or decide we can go without McDonald toys and tell them, "no thanks!"

If you want to learn about the pollution problem in China, here is a great article:

I just got this link in a Yahoo group I am in and thought it was appropriate:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Answers in Genesis

If you are a Christian parent or homeschooler, I cannot stress enough the importance of looking into Answers in Genesis. Recommended to me by a fellow homeschooler, Answers in Genesis is an organization that will provide you everything you can possibly need to teach your children (or learn yourself) why the THEORY of Evolution does not pan out. I attended a public school all my life, and for some reason, the church did not "cover" this, so I was totally ignorant about the many holes in the Theory of Evolution. It occurred to me as my children were ready to learn these important truths, that I did not know them! I know that I had the faith to believe that God created us all, but there are TONS of questions that come up, especially when you have "inquiring minds" of young children!

Answers in Genesis provides information for every age, including yourself! If you are like me and never got that education, it is never too late to learn it. So many of us stand up for "Creation" at our public schools, and most of us don't even know why! If you think about it, learning about Intelligent Design is one of the most important responsibilities that a Christian has. We have too often let evolutionists walk all over us, when the sad thing is, THEY don't even know what THEY believe! They simply think that more scientists support evolution, so they must be right. Wrong!

For our science curriculum this year, I have selected a book from Apologia Educational Ministries, Exploring Creation with Astronomy , by Jeannie Fulbright. We will follow each year with the next volume, and we are SO excited to start this book! I have been reading it myself and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! They work well with the books from Answers in Genesis, by providing a God-based science curriculum that answers questions and provides information before some are even asked.

Answers in Genesis has a magazine, to which we subscribed on the recommendation of Dr. Jay Wile. We haven't gotten our first issue yet, but it should arrive in a few weeks. I'll report back on that after we get it. They also have tons of books, not to mention a VBS packet that I wish our church had gotten. Answers in Genesis also provides guides that you can take to the aquarium, zoo, or museum to provide you with the biblical perspective that these places often neglect. No matter what age your child(ren), you will find something useful to help them learn about Intelligent Design. And if you have't found a great science curriculum yet, be sure to visit and check it out.

I am so grateful for all of these resources and hope to be highly educated about Intelligent Design very soon. So when someone comes across my path, I can tell him or her why I KNOW that God exists and that He created and designed everything. I'm so excited!!

Friday, July 25, 2008


Today I yelled at the kids. Not that I never yell, but it was almost as if I had PMS and I knew it wasn't THAT time. What was going on?!

Then it occurred to me how little structure I had been providing. Things were out of control. The kids were talking back. They woke up arguing with each other. They were not cleaning up after themselves. And I griped at them, but didn't follow up. I had become a lazy parent.

At lunch time, I apologized for the yelling, and told them that it was my fault that things had gotten so out of control. I told them that we would have more structure from now on, to help keep everyone on track with where we need to be, including myself. We did school, and there was no complaining! Gasp!

Later this evening, when my daughter yelled, "I HATE YOU!!" after I told her that her neighbor friend could not come inside at 10:15 at night and that she would have to come in for her bath at 10:30, I followed her outside and made her promptly turn around and come inside for her bath immediately. The night was over. When she knew I meant business, she said, "I don't love you anymore!" Well, it's good to see that things are back on track. :o)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Words from a Stay at Home Mom

I love this post on Dr. Laura's blog because I could have written it myself. For a short time, I thought I wasted my teaching degree, but before long I realized how handy it was for teaching my children at home. Moms who put their children in day care will never understand the vast difference in care that their children would receive if they stayed home with them. I did not really understand it until I discovered the day to day nurturing, teaching, and disciplining that happens on a daily basis in our home. Most of us know that nobody will love our children the same way we do. In most cases, it is not even close! It's sort of like comparing breast milk to formula. Most moms are told that formula is second best. But there is "cream of the crop" and there is "bottom of the barrel," and if nothing falls in between, isn't "bottom of the barrel" second best? Formula is a horrible alternative, as is child care for our children.
I hardly ever bring this up, although I secretly feel sorry for the kids I know who have babysitters and day care. I also feel sorry for the kids who must attend school all day, under the control of someone who may or may not give a rip about them. Especially when they get about 1/30th of that person's attention. On what planet does that even come close to making sense?!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Usborne Books At Home - Now is the time to join!

In early June, I signed up with Usborne Books, mostly due to my book addiction and my desire to save some money! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their books. If you are also a book addict, NOW is the time to act if you would like to get 33 popular Usborne books for just $99.50 + $20 s/h + tax. You have until 10 a.m. CT, July 31st, 2008, to get your consultant agreement to the Usborne home office. Learn more at my Usborne sign up page.
Besides the great books you will get at a huge discount, you will have the opportunity to run a great business by hosting parties, attending fairs, or simply selling on the internet. No stock is required, and this is a great business to do with your kids, who will naturally share the books with others. Don't miss this great deal and the opportunity to work from home with your children!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why can't we all just speak English?

I just finished reading an article from "Human Events," a national conservative publication on the idea of making English our official language in the US. Some might not care one way or the other, until of course, they learn that their tax dollars fund all the different language government forms and translators for various purposes. Yes, we PAY for that!
Contrary to popular misconception, it's not just Hispanic immigrants who find an issue with the language barrier. People from all over the world now feel it's their right to receive documents in their native tongue. Why is that? Because we have not required immigrants - legal or not - to assimilate to OUR way of doing business. We want to be everything to everyone- or, THEY (government whimps) want to- not US.
When Barack Obama implied recently that it's embarressing that travelers can come to our country and speak English, while we cannot speak the language in France, Germany, Spain, etc. I threw up a little in my mouth. Is he serious? Does that mean that the government is now going to fund all children learning in government schools every language that they might possibly need one day in case they travel to a country speaking a foreign language? Heaven forbid I should take Spanish in high school and have the audacity to travel to France, where I might embarress Senator Obama because I can't speak the language!
Instead of embarressment, Obama should be proud that other countries want to speak OUR language! Why should we want to be like them? Why can't we be leaders instead of followers? Sorry, I missspoke. English is not OUR language- officially anyway. Once we make it our official language, we will not have to fund all those special forms for foreigners who don't want to assimilate.
When my American father brought over his German wife and her German son, as well as myself and my German-born sister, we did not come here expecting to find German forms, German signs, and German neighbors. We were in America! My mother learned English by playing Scrabble. She barely has an accent (I don't hear it, but others do). My brother repeated 1st grade and learned English in school. My sister and I were babies, so we don't remember much German. The point is, if we wanted to speak German, why not stay in Germany? (Where, by the way, they learn English in school, probably better than we do!)
The ironic part of this whole thing is that we have children graduating from school who can barely speak correct English, much less write it, and Obama wants us to learn all these languages?! Yeah, WRITE! ;o)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why Homeschool in Summer?

I've been asking myself that question since Memorial Day...WHAT was I thinking?!
Okay, maybe I'm overreacting. After all, ball games and swim meets don't take up the entire day. There's also the swimming for fun, playing with friends, riding bikes, computer games, and anything else we can come up with that we'd rather do than "school!" There are definitely benefits to homeschooling year 'round. I just don't like to think about those when I'd rather do school "tomorrow."
Tomorrow will get here eventually. Really, it will. I know it will. Won't it?!
We've been doing "school light" this summer, which is better than nothing, I guess. But for the past couple of weeks we've just plain been lazy. Admittedly, we have had swim meets to contend with, and when you are at a swim meet all day, the last thing you want to do the next day is crack open the books. So we have used creative play, educational videos, and computer games to help keep brain waves moving at appropriate speed.
While we are finishing up our final work before starting on our new books for fall, I have had a blast checking out the new curricula I've selected for science, history, and Bible. I'm so excited, and can't wait to get going with it. I will share more about the curricula we use when fall approaches. For now, I'm just trying to stay motivated, keep the kids turned on to learning, and enjoying the sunshine while we have the chance. Before long, we will be under a foot of snow for a month, and we'll have plenty of time to learn everything we need to then- I'm sure of it!

Anthony Swim Team Dominates the League!

For some reason in our small town of 2,000+, what happened 10, 20, 30+ years ago still makes the paper, but today's news does not! So I am posting here in my blog what SHOULD be getting published in our paper. We live in Anthony, KS, about an hour southwest of Wichita. No one really knows how many people live in Anthony, but the last census showed about 2400. Given that, I think you will be mighty impressed that our swim team boasts around 40 swimmers!
Our first meet got rained out. Just after the warm-up lap, the thunder started. Thankfully, they called it before the bottom fell out, and that "bottom" lasted ALL day. When we finally got to swim in our first meet last Friday, our strength was apparent to our parents, the other teams, and OURSELVES! I think some of the swimmers were really surprised at how well they did. The most impressive swim of the day was Heather Moore's butterfly. She did the entire length of the pool without breathing, which helped clinch her first place finish. As a 14 year-old, this is Heather's first year swimming (or is she hiding something? :o) and I'm amazed that she not only has beautiful strokes, but the speed as well.
I must also praise the following swimmers who have this season discovered the proper breaststroke technique: Brandon Clarke, Bailey Clements, Leslie Struble, Zach Duwe, Hope Clarke, Heather Moore, Elizabeth Francis, Veronica Morris, Estin, and there are a few more on the bubble who just need a bit of tweaking. Most improved definitely goes to Kayleigh Clements, who is improving every day in breaststroke and will definitely be a top breaststroker before long.
Our second swim meet was yesterday, which was the "relay meet" in Kiowa, KS. Basically, the entire meet is done in relays. They swim a backstroke relay, butterfly relay, breaststroke relay, etc. and medley relay. Each swimmer can swim six relays, so some of our 8-and-unders and 9/10 year-olds get moved up to swim with older swimmers. The meet is pretty fun, but also hectic for coaches. Somehow, our entire group of 9/10 girls missed their free relays and they were allowed to swim with the boys. That was interesting, as we had four lanes of Anthony swimmers swimming at the same time!
We have two more meets this week, and then semi-finals and finals next week. So far, we have won team overall both meets. I am announcing to the swimmers this morning some rather shocking news that might change our dominating power. Our swim league has no stroke judging. So you practically have to swim the wrong stroke the whole way or pull on the lane rope to get disqualified. Since the beginning, I have taught the proper legal stroke techniques, but some have not "gotten" it. In the rest of our meets, I will be personally disqualifying any swimmer 9 or above who does not do a legal stroke. This will make our points go down, but it will raise our standard to where it needs to be. There is nothing worse than seeing a really good race, where the winning swimmer is doing an illegal stroke! Not in MY swimming pool!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Story Time Felts

As if I didn't have enough to do already, I signed up as a consultant for Story Time Felts. I really love the products, and definitely see the benefits of them for children of every skill level and developmental stage. I had ordered the Castle Tales set for my daughter for Christmas, and six months later finally "joined the family" as a consultant.
If you are interested in getting felts as Christmas gifts, we are currently having a "Christmas in July" special that you will want to take part in. All of our Christmas sets and scripture sets are on sale during July!
If you have any questions after visiting my site, please don't hesitate to ask!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

"It's JUST t-ball!"

That's what the rather large, lazy umpire yelled at me after I couldn't let the 5th crappy call go by unnoticed. No offense to the overweight. There are plenty of you out there, and you don't move as slow as this kid behind the plate. I've seen overweight people run around a soccer field, referreeing games. But this guy was just not in the game. At all.
The game was close, and I'm not sure how, as call after call made against us put us seemingly further behind. But it was now the last inning and we could win! The ball was hit, and barely rolled over the "foul" line, which is the line you must hit the ball past in order for it to be "fair." The ball rolled fair, the pitcher picked it up, and the ignorant ump called it foul. I really didn't mean for him to hear me, but I had had enough and could not sit quiet any longer. Three bad calls at first base: two where we were safe, and one where we had gotten their runner out, were all called against us. He also allowed runs to come in after the ball was thrown to the pitcher. I probably wouldn't have noticed these things if it wasn't 100 degrees outside (I exaggerate) with absolutely no breeze. The girls had another game after this and we all wanted out of the heat. The worse he called, the slower he moved, the longer the game.
But when he retorted that, "It's ONLY t-ball!" I was surprised to see no parents bum rush the field. After all, WE were the ones bringing our children to practice twice a week and sitting in the heat. THEY were the ones trying to learn this stupid game. HE just showed up (halfway) and all he had to contribute was, "this game doesn't matter, why do I care?" That is, after all, what he meant.
The girls ended up winning both games. Thankfully, the second game had a different umpire. The girls were SO excited and we celebrated the end of the season with a pool party.
Later that night, we had two more games for my son's team. After the first game (which ended a bit prematurely because the other team was exhausted and wanted to go home) I asked the wife of one of the coaches who won the game. "Well...technically we don't keep score in t-ball...but we won..." To which I wondered why we had kept score all season, and now all of a sudden for the tournament we weren't keeping score? She then went on, "the kids don't care."
I explained to her that the kids DO care, and that she should have seen the girls after winning both of their games earlier that day. "Well, it's not good when the winning team says, 'ha-ha, we won...blah, blah, blah.'" This really perplexed me, and I asked, "if we don't let them win, how will we teach them the right way to win?" I got no answer.
The boys won both of their games as well. And I ended the day more stumped than ever.
If we don't care who wins, why are we playing the game? Why are we driving 30 minutes away at $4 per gallon to play another town just for the fun of it? Why bother buying uniforms if it's "JUST t-ball" and if the umpires are going to crawl out of bed and barely show up to make calls? None of this made sense to me! What are we teaching our kids?
I personally feel like kids are ready for competition if they are playing another team. Why pretend like it's not happening, when everyone knows that it is? Are we afraid of getting better, or realizing that we're getting better, or are we more concerned with the other team feeling like they're not?
Ironically, we aren't supposed to keep score, but the benchmark for coming in to bat is when we get three outs or the other team scores 8 runs. If we aren't keeping score, how do we know when they have scored 8 runs? And if we aren't keeping score, why does each team have a parent keeping books every game?
Does this make sense to anyone out there?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Clothes Pins: Not JUST for Art Projects!

In May we downsized to a duplex, as I've mentioned in another post. In the backyard is something I've ALWAYS wanted: a clothes line! I know that sounds crazy, but maybe you've never searched for a place to hang 5 wet towels and bathing suits to dry! At our last house, I'd hang them on the fence, but the kids would try to pull them down and snag them, or the wind would take off with them. Not good!
So the other day, I open up the clothes pins that I had bought for craft projects. And inside the wrapper is a little booklet- for craft projects! Don't people buy these things to hang up clothes anymore? Then I started thinking. I wondered if clotheslines were becoming more popular these days with people wanting to save energy. I know "green" people have always utilized the clothesline, but what about "regular" people?
I now take my clothes to a laundromat, as I'd prefer to use the space for storage than a washer and dryer. I spend $20 (or $18 if I can dry the last load at the end of every dryer cycle) every two weeks to wash and dry our clothes. I know it will be more expensive in fall/winter, but by then, my kids will be neater (please, God?) and not require much laundering. I figure I'm not paying for the water, and the dryer isn't heating up the house, so it saves me money there. If the laundromat wasn't 10 miles away, I could hang every load to dry. Well, almost. The other day, I had a couple of hours before the sun went down. I put out some "not quite dry" clothes and checked their progress about an hour later. Almost dry! An hour later, I checked again. The humidity had rolled in and the clothes were as wet as when I first put them out! Defeat! The thing about Kansas is that it can take an hour to line dry just about anything when the wind is blowing, or it can take forever when it's humid. Now I see why clothes dryers are popular...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

T-ball is SO Much Fun!

And SO nerve-wracking! I've got two in t-ball right now, one playing on the boys' team, and one playing on the girls' team. I probably don't need to say what a huge difference the two teams are. But I will. I'll start with the boys. The age range for the boys is barely 5 to almost 7. So you have boys that have been playing for a couple of years who are probably about ready to strangle the first timers who act like- you guessed it- four year-olds! We are about halfway through the season, and I can't tell you how many games we've won- we just don't keep up. But at the start of the season, I was a bit concerned because the coach seemed a little unorganized. But boys being boys, they have (mostly) improved dramatically. Being one of those parents who plays ball with her children almost daily, it's my suspicion that the boys who are improving are getting help and practice at home. At our last game, my son made a great play at 2nd base. He stopped the ground ball, then ran to second base and got the runner out. Sounds simple. But at the beginning of the season, none of the boys could make plays because they fumbled the ball if it came to them. It's hard to make a play when you can't get control of it! At this point, they are actually throwing to their target- and they're CATCHING it! As I cheered for my son after his play, and noticed EVERYONE on our side cheering, I almost cried as he radiated joy on the field. All that practice paid off! I remembered all the great plays I had made as a softball player and how good it felt. I am so glad that he gets to experience it, too! Here he is at a recent game:

The girls' team is a bit of a different story. They have great coaches- a TEAM of coaches, actually- and their practices are very organized. While they are the same ages as the boys, I suspect they are more interested in wearing the uniform than learning the game. It seems that by now there are certain things they should have learned. And they just haven't. I'm not sure what the problem is. My daughter was playing 3rd base, and I could tell that the next batter was going to hit in her direction. There were runners on 1st and 2nd, and I hollered, "Anna, if the ball comes to you, run to 3rd with it!" It took a while for the batter to hit the ball, but when she did, it went right towards Anna. She stopped it beautifully, but then stood up like, "what do I do with the ball?" LOL This would not be so bad if the pitcher, who gets nearly every ball hit to her, also didn't know what to do with the ball almost every single play. And by the end of the game, STILL hadn't figured it out!
Since this is Anna's first year, I was just happy that she stopped the ball! It is hard to teach kids the game at home without having runners and other players. So that will come with time. But I can tell that hardly any (if any at all) of the girls' parents are playing with them at home. I wish they would. It is so rewarding for both parent and child. Getting to see the hard work pay off is something many kids don't appreciate these days because they don't put the work into it! Coincidentally, we are learning this with piano and swimming as well. Practicing a little every day makes a huge difference, and makes a child confident that he or she is able to do well. Anyway, here is Anna in her first game:

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Stack and Stick Building Toys

I've mentioned Stack and Stick Wooden Building Toys (shameless plug) here before, but this is something new. My sister was visiting us in April, and had some fun with the kids. She took a couple of sets (and some extra bases) and built a dollhouse with them. Of course they had to fill it up with furniture! This is a great option for families who don't have a lot of room for various building toys AND a dollhouse. Your daughter can build her own! And your son can build all kinds of forts and places to hide for whatever action figure he's into. Here is a picture of the dollhouse:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Purging and Downsizing

One of the reasons I've been "too busy to blog" is that we moved. After my divorce earlier this year, my kids and I were still in the five bedroom, 2.5 bath home that was just sucking the life out of me! It was too big, too much money, and SUPER inefficient. We were literally using only a few rooms of the whole house, but paying to heat the whole thing! After our $458 gas bill, I quickly turned down the thermostat and we froze the rest of the winter. We used portable electric heaters to warm up the room we were in, but as soon as you walked out it was cold!
I knew I needed a smaller place, and the stress of the money, the wasted resources, and just the STUFF everywhere drove me crazy. We were able to move into a two bedroom- yes a TWO bedroom- duplex at the beginning of May, and we have slowly moved necessities over. Anything that we haven't needed will GO. We've already donated a lot, and sold some at a children's consignment sale. But there is LOTS left. It is so true that no matter the size of your house, if you have room for it, you will buy it and fill up the house.
We are not living a traditional life, but it is working. My kids and I all share a bedroom. The bedroom is also our living room. It houses the one TV we have. The living room is the play/activity room where the kids' toys, books, and tumbling area are. The second bedroom is our computer room which houses my office and a desk which holds their computers. This will also be my daughter's art space once we get the shelves up and her art stuff over here. The kids have really pared down their toys and it's not been difficult deciding which are important and which they can do without. Since their dad is moving back into the house, they still have access to them, but I'm guessing a lot of them will go. As long as I don't have to look at them all over the place, I don't care! :o)
Moving and purging has been very liberating. I am so much more relaxed. When I cooked my first meal, it was so nice that everything was right there; I didn't have to walk across the room twenty times for this or for that. Since rent is MUCH lower, I'm not worried about money. I am able to plan for our future and put money away for my kids' college educations. I am also a better parent. When you are less stressed, you are naturally going to parent in a calmer manner and not "lose it" so much. I think the kids are less stressed, too.
It is sad that we as Americans feel the need for bigger, better, and more. It is sucking the life right out of each and every one of us. I was not actually this way, but was married to someone who was. And I went along for the ride. Truth be told, what we are doing now is preparing us, hopefully, for living on the road. Our goal is to get an RV and travel for part of the year. We are excited about that! And I'm glad we made this move because it has shown us that we CAN do without things and we MUCH prefer fun experiences to "things". Try it yourself, and find a better life for you and your family!

I'm a Sblogger!

I created a title for myself. It's "Sblogger," short for "Sporadic Blogger!" I find that I get busy and don't have time to blog. I have lots to say, but no time to say it. Then when I have the time, I blog a bunch at one time. I wish I could change this, but being a single mom does not afford the luxury of down time very often. Even better, being busy usually means lots of good stuff going on, whether business is booming, the kids have activities, or our town has something special happening. So I guess I should just deal with being a Sblogger and get used to it. Having kids gives me stuff to write about, but no time to write it. And I'm okay with that!
Look for a ton of posts in the next couple of days as I catch up!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Idol Finale

This stay at home family was NOT at home during the American Idol Finale in which David Cook was crowned the Season 7 Idol. So you probably know what that means if you also depended on your DVR to catch the show...they ran over time and the end did not record! For the life of me I cannot figure out how they had TWO hours to get through the show and still ran out of time! Well, like most Americans, my next thought was, "someone will put it on YouTube!" (Isn't that the American way?) And so they did! If you missed the final reaction and final song, here it is:
Personally, I was SURE that David Archuleta was going to win, simply because teen girls have much more dialing energy than we old folk. That said, this old folk thought that David Archuleta SHOULD have won. Nevertheless, I can't wait to buy his first CD for my children and I to listen to. Finally- a nice, clean cut young man for young boys to listen to! My children are singing in choir and have just started piano. They both are very musically inclined and it is nice to show them a teen who has put in the hard work necessary to get noticed- and give goosebumps. I'm excited to watch Archuleta's career.
Don't get me wrong, David Cook is equally talented and deserving of the title (obviously, since he won!) But I think my problem is that I grew up listening to the "David Cook rock" sound. He has a great voice, nice presence, but I'm ready to move onto something different, maybe. He's not hardly as cute as Archuleta, either! I can definitely see why the young girls are going crazy over him. Poor kid!

Socialization- Again

This is such a frequent argument to homeschooling that I will share any articles I come across on it. Here is one from Dr. Laura:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Perfect Birthday Present for Children

It just so happened that my son's birthday came just a few days after the Pinewood Derby. For the second year in a row, he was upset because he didn't get a trophy. That's when it dawned on me. Why CAN'T he have a trophy? Why does he have to win the Pinewood Derby to experience the joy that a trophy would bring him? It isn't just any ol' trophy. This trophy is special!

It is made by hand by a good friend of ours and it looks really nice. So I decided to have one custom made for Thomas' seventh birthday. Here it is:

I wanted the trophy to remind him what a great year he had and all the things he is good at. The last two lines that you can't see very well read "Soccer Player" and "Bible Verse Memorizer." The plate has his name and the date. We do a "birthday table" where we put out presents and balloons, and the trophy sat there waiting for Thomas to wake up. When he finaly came down, his eyes just lit up when he saw the trophy. He was so happy! If you would like to give a custom made trophy to your child for any occasion, just contact Troy at Classic Woods. The trophy is made from wood and acrylic (not glass) so it would be easy to ship!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pinewood Derby 2008

This year Thomas built a "Bat Mobile" for his Pinewood Derby car and it was a pretty cool looking car if I do say so myself! He found the design online and then his dad used that as an example and made his own version. He did when the award for "Coolest Car" or something like that. All the other boys told him before the voting was even over that he would win. I know he secretly wants to have the fastest car, but for two years in a row he has won for design, so I guess that will have to do for now! I don't have a close-up of his car, but here are some pictures. The second one is Anna and Thomas, when they raced their cars against each other in the Wildcard Races.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Star Wars 7th Birthday

Wow, I can't believe I'm this far behind! Thomas' birthday was April 22, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to share about his birthday- even if it's a bit late! The days leading up to his birthday, Thomas had no idea what I had been going through to get the ONE thing he asked for: a Darth Vader costume. I had ordered it online in plenty of time, but they sent the large size instead of the medium. They corrected- or so I thought- and AGAIN sent a large! As I was dealing with this, he was SURE that I hadn't bought one for him and was obsessive about how he was going to buy one with his birthday money, etc. He would not let it drop! I just sort of laughed at him when he wasn't looking. In the mean time, yet another costume was sent, but it got here after his birthday. Not only did I get my money back, I have THREE Darth Vader costumes! Here is the birthday boy-

Cute, huh? The costume is huge on him, and I'm hoping that he remains a Darth Vader fan until he outgrows them all!
I'd also like to share a couple of things that might give you a good idea for your child's birthday, no matter what theme they choose. First, the cake. I didn't want to spend $25 on a custom cake, so I got a bright idea (if I DO say so myself!) Thomas has plenty of Star Wars Legos and enough "men" to decorate any size cake. So that's what we did! He also had a Lego set with a soccer ball, so I made it look like the Star Wars characters were not battling it out with light sabers, but playing a good ol' game of soccer!

We had the cups, plates, balloons, and of course Darth Vader masks, but my favorite is the cake, of course! It did take me a while to get the frosting out of the little holes at the bottom of their feet, but it was still worth it! A few days after Thomas' birthday, we went to Build-A-Bear when my sister came into town, so hopefully I will have some more birthday pictures to share when she sends me some. In all it was a great birthday, and I'm still in shock that I have a seven year-old!