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!