Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two Wheelin' Freedom

In all the blah, blah, blah about our week and all the school work, I forgot some really exciting news. To get there, though, you have to sit through a rambling story.

Our last house was a great little house. By little, I mean it had less than 800 square feet under the roof. It was great when hubby and I first moved in, and then came the big girl. It was still fine. Two bedroom, one bath bungalow with the three of us. When the boy came, it was a little more crowded, but still doable. When the baby came, it was time to get out. Five of us in one house with one bathroom. You do not know how many times we have been grateful for two bathrooms. I cannot even count that high. When we moved in to this house, every one had their own room. We have two bathrooms and that's great. We have a little over an acre, and the kids have plenty of room to run and play.

The problem with house number one, besides it's lack of square footage, is that it was on a very busy street. People would use our street as a cutoff, and not bother stopping at the stop sign. I would never let my kids play in the road like I used to as a kid. The problem with this house is that we are at the back of a three acre plot. You have to walk down our very long drive way to get to the road. Sometimes I make the effort and sometimes I just don't. The issue is that my kids never learned to ride a bike.

I didn't learn to ride until I was 10. I learned right before we went to Hawaii for the summer. I have never been very comfortable on a bike. It's like ice skating. I need to balance on two skinny things I'm not sure will hold me. My kids have ridden bikes with training wheels, and even have the basics down. It's a matter of getting them on something without training wheels. The big girl has tried, but has no confidence in herself on a bike. I wonder where she gets that from?

At the park the other Friday, probably two weeks ago now, I hear this from my boy, "Look, I can do it! I can do it! I'm riding a bike." My boy was riding a friend's bike, without training wheels, and mastering it, too. He was so good. I didn't have the camera, of course, so I didn't get video or pictures. I take the camera with me everywhere now. I am so proud of that boy. He is a dare devil and a half, but if he wants something, he sets his mind and works until he gets it. He wanted to ride a bike. You should have seen him work his scooter until he got that. Scares me half to death, but he is so good at what he does.

That's the big news. Now he wants a bike for Christmas. We'll see what he gets. Maybe he'll get some money for Christmas and his birthday he can use to pick out his own bike. He would love that.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Concentration, The Update

This has been a much better week. I am so grateful and thankful, I almost don't know what to do or say. But then again, it takes alot for me to be speechless.

The kids have gotten up this week, no muss, no fuss. The boy started a trend by getting straight to work. No TV, no complaining, just working. I almost asked him where my real boy was, but I didn't want to push the issue. Although the big girl is not nearly as competitive as the boy, it was almost like she couldn't and wouldn't be outdone by her brother. She in turn started to work with out direction or griping from me. And baby makes three. That's how it has worked all week.

They have even made their beds every morning when I ask them to. The baby can't help complaining because she is just a whiner and it's in her nature. She got it from her brother, who I thought was the greatest whiner of all time. Not so, apparently. They take their JuicePlus, brush their teeth, get dressed and ready for their day. Hold me. I'm scared.

Today was co-op. It was at B's house today. Talk about feeling inadequate. She does amazing presentations with the kids that make me feel like such an amateur. I am, but I don't like feeling that way. She has an absolutely incredible school room. I want one, I want one, I want one. Did I mention that I want one? Well, I do. I am going to take a cue from her and hang some of my posters and maps on a big empty wall that we have. I have a great world map that I am going to have laminated and hang it so we can use both sides. When I get our Spanish up and running, I am going to get some posters with simple words and phrases and hang those up. And I just might see what the teacher store has on clearance and if I can use any of it. Another great resource for those of you that are interested are placemats. You can get laminated placemats pretty cheap at stores like WalMart that have maps, Presidents, math, and all sorts of things on them. Just buy one and hang it like a poster.

It was a banner day and it has been a banner week. The kids haven't fussed about their chores and even sat with me today and folded their laundry. The big girl still has clothes to hang up, but she can do that in the morning. Tomorrow is our last JAM, and I am excited and sad. Sad because of the end of an era; excited because of the opportunities that are being presented. I also have a couple of ideas about some field trips that I am planning, including the pharmacy trip we missed. I am hoping to set up another round for those of us that didn't go for whatever reason. I am also thinking about a field trip to a place that rents heavy equipment. We have friends that work there. Every time we go by heavy machinery, the kids get so excited to watch them work. We'll see how things go. This weekend coming up is Confirmation retreat, so please pray a little extra for us.

That's the skinny as it stands. We are feeling and acting better, all of us. Hopefully, we can continue on this trend.

Have a great day!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A little more concentration

That's how I'm feeling about our school schedule and our life right now. Things almost seem busier than normal, and I'm trying to figure out why and how. So here's the skinny on our past week.

It seemed this past week that there was a little more fighting about the school work. I don't like to have those conversations because I feel like my kids know how important the work is. We did have a couple of unexpected trips this week, but still. Wednesday, hubby met me at dance to get something out of the van. He took the kids and they had lunch downtown by the duck pond. We had eaten a little late that morning so they weren't that hungry, and the boy fed most of his cheeseburger to the fish. It took more to get the kids focused after he left than normal.

We had veggie co-op this week as well. I had the kids take their work with strict instructions that their work was to be done before they played. The woman who runs the co-op is also a homeschooling mom and my kids love to play with her kids. After I was done packing orders and helping people locate and bag their stuff, it was time to go. I asked the boy if he got all his work done since I had seen him playing Risk. "I forgot a pencil, so no." was his response. It was all I could do to not pull over and whoop his butt right then. Instead, my response was,"That is a poor excuse. We have pencils in the van and they also homeschool. I'm sure you could have found a pencil." The big girl didn't finish her math either. Oh, the drama in the van.

Hubby called on our way from the co-op to the library and asked if his new cell phone was in my van and could I meet him. It was his new work phone and he needed it right away. We had nothing else on our agenda and the kids had plenty to keep them busy, so sure, I could meet him. I ended up driving all the way to the little town where he works, which is about 45 minutes away from where I was, and we had lunch. We had good company and good food, what could be better? The kids finishing their school work, that's what. We get home and it's still not done. Oh, the words that could have come out of my mouth, but I kept it clean.

Tonight, I was grading the stuff that I just have not gotten to. The first thing I picked up was the big girl's math. She didn't finish half of what she had to do for math on Thursday, which was veggie co-op day. What she did finish was not right and she ended up with a 64 for a grade. I get to the boy's stuff, and he has still not followed the directions in his language arts. Who has taken my kids and why did they leave these crazy versions of them? They can have them back now. The saving grace was, of all things, the baby. She not only finished her stuff, but did extra work, and got it all right. Your 5 year old sister just outperformed you. How do you like that?

We had a giant discussion tonight about responsibilty and how important school is. They were informed that unless the behavior and attentiveness to their school work did not improve, we would forgo fun and exciting things like dance and park day. No work equals no fun. They were not happy, but I don't care. We are going to try to stream line our days and activities. JAM is ending, and our big dance day will be Wednesday. That actually gives us extra time in the evening for school work and questions. We will start fresh on Monday and will discuss what things are working in our day, and what is not.

I don't like weeks like this, but I will take some of the blame. There were a couple of projects that I had to get done and did not supervise as closely as I should have. Now I know better. We'll see how the new week goes and hopefully all will be well. Or at least better than it was last week.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


life right now. There are so many things that are changing and rearranging that I just almost can't catch my breath sometimes.

I am loving our co-op. Today was our turn. We are doing an inventors lap book. Today we talked about what an invention is, Johannes Guttenberg, and Ben Franklin. Franklin was quite the inventor and never made a cent for his stuff. We talked about some things the kids had never heard of before, like phones that you actually had to dial. They couldn't believe that. We talked about what if someone had never invented Nintendo Gameboys or DS's, cell phones, even air conditioning. I think the best thing was that I got to introduce the moms and most of the kids to lap books. We love them. We have done several and I have blogged poetic about them. It is easier than it looks and is really not that involved. With ten kids, it got a little hectic, but it went really well. My favorite part of any of our co-ops is when the kids go play and we get to talk. Duh. This year, we are learning about states, kings and queens of England, countries, animals, and inventors. I think if we continue this next year, I may do explorers and discoverers. I have a great unit study that I downloaded for free. I love my freebies.

Our dance schedule has been rearranged. Now, three of us are going to dance on Wednesdays. With JAM ending, that opened up a class for the boy that is a couple of hours after mine, then the baby's is a couple of hours after his. I figure I'll pack like a park day with lunch and snacks. After my class we can eat at the park or in the van if it's cold, or somewhere. Maybe we can even have lunch with hubby. That is always a special treat for us. After the boy's class, any school work that needs to be finished can be done while we wait for the baby's class. We can do that at the park or library or somewhere. Flexibility is the key. Isn't that what we all need in our lives? I think it will work out fantastically, and it's only two days to town for dance. Added bonus there, thank you.

The crock pot is the best thing we ever did. The first meal I made was Italian sausage and turkey meatballs. They were fantastic. I served them over penne and yummy! Tonight was a creamy chicken and broccoli. Hubby and the big girl didn't like it so much. They said the broccoli was a little overpowering. The boy didn't like the chicken, but he liked the sauce over the egg noddles I served with it. I probably won't do that one again. Not to worry, though. A friend sent me a website with 1400 crock pot recipes. Thank you, B. I think I can find one that we all like. I have a white chicken chili that my friend C gave me that I am dying to try. My friend D dropped a cookbook off to me today from Pampered Chef that has some great recipes that I can probably crock pot.

Hubby and I are thinking about an associate membership with an umbrella school that is run by some friends and fellow homeschoolers. In the spring they are going to offer some classes. We're not sure what classes, but they have an open house this Sunday that I am interested in attending. I like having yet another option for classes for my kids. The more they can learn, the more varied the topics, the better as far as I'm concerned. Now that we only have one full day and one evening in town, that frees up three mornings and two early afternoons that we could attend classes. The associate membership would also allow us to attend field trips that the school puts together.

We were supposed to attend a field trip Friday morning, but a series of unfortunate events (sounds like it would make a good book, huh?) kept us from going. Well, out of the building actually. We did make it to the parking lot, but the empty water jug and extremely wet storage area in the back of the van kind of kept us out in the parking lot. It was just one more thing added to a frustrating morning and I almost had a break down. I pulled it together long enough to get us to the park and the mamas did the rest, pulling me out of my funk. I have great friends. If that isn't enough to be grateful and thankful for I don't know what is.

Our next field trip is to a car dealership. We are going to see their service department and talk about cars. We also get to see where they shoot their commercials. Hubby may go with us. I told him if we come home with a new minivan, then it would be more than worth it, for me at least. After the dealership, we are supposed to meet at a park over by the zoo and have a picnic. One of our homeschool moms was having her car serviced at the dealership and happened to mention to her son it would make a great field trip. She was overheard by an employee who informed her that the owner was very into community service and education. You never know when opportunity will arise to educate others and ourselves.

There is so much more that I am loving right now, but that is enough for now. My prayer for you tonight is one of love and grace. May God bless you and yours and guide you through your days with a gentle hand.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

End of an Era

It was made official this afternoon that our JAM program will be no more as of September 30. I am sad on one hand, but also feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders. We have decided that we will host some special events at the church for children in our church and in the community. We are planning a Trunk or Treat event, a Christmas workshop, and an Easter Egg Hunt, and maybe a couple of other smaller events.

The last couple of days have been very draining emotionally. I was proud of the job we did last year. This year we were just not ready to scramble as much as we did last year. There were times that were very hard to get through. But we did get through them, just a little more wary every time.

I think this is best for the program. My friend C said that maybe God was directing us in other ways, to focus on a different part of the children's ministry. I agree. And we are going to revisit the possibility of reopening the program, but maybe in a different format, next year. We'll see.
For now, we are going to love the kids while we have them, and hope that we can still minister to them. Thank you to my JAM Crew for a wonderful experience. I love all of you.

Have a great day!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Oops! Paint

Home Depot has this great rack of paint. It's the oops! rack. It's the paint that they messed up the color or added too much thinner or whatever. We stopped by a couple of weeks ago, just to see what they have. I am really tired of plain, white walls. I have wanted to add color, but so far the only room we had done was our room. When we stopped by Home Depot, they had this great purple that looks great with the big girl's comforter. The gallons of oops paint are $5, and I had $5.35 cash in my wallet. That paid for the paint. We stopped and got brushes and a paper, biodegradable drop cloth. It costs us about $15-20 for the everything, paint included. Not bad, considering the paint itself usually costs more than that.

Here's what we did with it. We painted a wall in the big girl's room and parts of her closet door. It looks really good. She loves it, which makes it all the better. We did the wall while she was at a girls' night out event at church and surprised her. But she got to help paint the closet doors. Hubby taped it off and she painted the panels. Don't mind the mess in the picture. Her room always looks that way.

Have a great day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

School and Stuff

Just a few random things I wanted to throw out there. I have been trying to narrow down what I wanted to blog about, but there is just too much running through my head. Isn't there always? And I get to use bullet points. Bonus!

  • We have switched to stainless steel pots and pans. We have wanted to for a long time, but the cost was prohibitive. A really good set of pots and pans is quite a pretty penny. We only have dirty, sandy pennies. One of the department stores in the mall was having a very nice sale a couple of months ago, and we couldn't put it off any longer. They had reduced the price of a nice set and then offered another discount for using your credit card. I happen to have one so I used it. Then I turned around the next day and used the cash I was going to spend on the set and paid off my credit card and had a few extra dollars to show for it. They were also offering a $40 rebate. The sales clerk printed an extra copy of my receipt for me to mail in. The only down side is that I forgot to mail the rebate in on time. You had ten days and instead of filling out the form as soon as I got home, I set them on my desk and walked away. When I cleaned off my desk SEVERAL days later, I found the forms. I gave myself grief for a little then got over it. There wasn't anything I could do about it, so why worry. It was definitely a lesson, though. I do love my new pots and pans. It is an adjustment, like going from gas to electric. I have scorched a few things, but I'm learning.

  • We have been reading "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain. It was a request from hubby. I had not read it in so very long that I had forgotten how grown up it seems. I worried that it may go over my kids' heads, but they seem to be doing just fine. If they have a question, I stop and answer, or we discuss it. The big girl said at first that she didn't have a clue what I was saying, so that took a bit. The more we read, though, the better it seems to be. The kids are enjoying it. We did have to have a discussion about slavery and what the times were like. I have changed a certain word that shows up quite a bit in the story to a less offensive version and we had to have the talk about words that were hurtful. I'm thinking that in a couple of weeks we might do a unit study I have on the Mississippi River. I was also thinking about doing a comparison during the study of the Nile Delta and the Mississippi Delta. We have talked about the Nile Delta in our history and I think it would be a great way to tie the two together. We can do past and present. Just something I'm thinking about.

  • Hubby, the big girl, and I went to Rock the Universe with some of the youth last night. It was incredible. I got to hear a group called New Method. They were really good. They are from Ohio and have a great hard rock sound. They also took some popular songs and gave them a Christian view. I also got to see Toby Mac. He puts on a fantastic, high energy, raise your hands to Jesus show that will rock your socks off. If you ever get the chance to see him live, go. It was one of the best performances I have ever seen. And last, but certainly not least, I got to see Third Day, who happens to be playing in my iPod right now. Their songs speak to me. And Mac Powell has that gravelly voice that I like. They were the ones I have wanted to see from the second I found out about the concert. I almost threw a fit and thought I was going to miss them. I was kicking around like a lost kid, moping and pouting. Hubby came back to our group and said he would take over and I could go see them play. He loves me and I love him back, as the baby says. Of all things, I forgot my camera. I left it in the van and was too far away to go back when I realized it. But I got a tshirt. I bought one for me and one for the big girl. They are huge. Most of the time, they are extra small. Maybe they'll shrink a little in the dryer.

I think that's about it. Since I didn't get pictures, or video, darn it, I'll post our ticket stubs. I'll blog about the night and our arrival home about 3:30 after dropping everyone off. My prayer for you tonight is one of joy and fruitfulness. May you live your life every day with love and compassion.

Have a great night!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Busy Days

This week starts our busyness. It seems that all of our extracurricular things are happening now. Our co-op, JAM, and dance all begin this week.

We love our co-op. I love it because of the topics that the other moms teach. The kids love it because they get to be with their friends. I am doing a lapbook this year about inventors. It was one of the freebies that I got and it looked really interesting. I was going to wait until we got a little further in our history, but decided that co-op would be a good time. We may not ever get to it if I put it off too long. I downloaded a unit study on forensic science that is for high school. Good luck remembering it when the kids get old enough. In the co-op we get to learn about countries, states, and king and queens of England, and this year animals as well. We have added a family to our co-op and are very happy to have them with us. This year we are doing every week, as opposed to every other. That may get dicey, but we're still going to try.

Dance is going to be a little complicated. I dance on the same day as our after school program. We go from dance, after school program, dance. The baby has dance after the program. Whew! Busy, busy days. We are all looking forward to our classes. The big girl is taking hip hop again and I'm taking tap. The changes this year are the boy and the baby. The boy is taking ballet this year. The basis of all good dancers is abllet. The boy has taken that to heart and has decided he wants to be the best dancer he can be. The baby is taking a class that is half an hour of tap and half an hour of ballet. It exposes the kids to different types of dance and opens their eyes to more. The two oldest loved it and I have no doubt the baby will, too.

JAM is also starting. We may not get far this year. We have had no volunteers this year. We worked all last year with a core group of four volunteers. The same group is at it again this year. We do what we can, but when you have 32 kids, it's kind of hard to control them all with four adults and one teen. I need to type a form for the parents that outlines our policy on behavior and punishment and how we expect the kids to act. If we start the program with many, many kids this year, we will definitely need a policy. We don't usually have behavior problems, but it helps to be prepared.

This month we are also doing the veggie co-op on both days. It's Thursday morning. I like to have some time with adults, and it's a lot of fun. It also gets us a 10% discount on our order. I need to save anywhere I can. I use coupons at the grocery store, but since we don't do alot of processed foods, it's hard to save on what we do buy. If I can get a discount and have a good time, I'm alright with that.

Along with all that is the library and field trips. We'll see how the activities go and if we need to cut anything out. I don't know what that would be, but we'll have to reevalute anyway. I don't want to be running all over the world this year and neither do the kids. It's hard on them to be in the van all day. It's hard on all of us. We can only do one thing at a time. And there has been talk around my house of investing in a crock pot. We'll see about that, too.

Have a great day!