Friday, December 30, 2011

The 'What If' Child

We have a child that is a deep thinker.  He is always asking a 'what if' question.  In the photo above, he asking himself what is really going to happen when he fights Darth Vader, will my parents find me in this crowd when I am done, will I use a real light saber  . . . .   Really, all kids get the worries from time to time and want to know 'what if.'  For a deep thinker, the world can be a never ending place of fear.  They think too much for their own good.  Their heighten awareness spawn one scenario after another.  Our children should know that worries and fears are normal, that everyone has them, and we need to show them what we do with worries.

Our children's 'what ifs' are a great chance to make clear to them basic Biblical wisdom.  It is easy to forget when our minds start spinning.  I tell my child, simply and bluntly that,

  • "You can handle anything that happens to you WITH GOD."  
  • "Life will keep you busy enough with real things that happen to you, don't waste your time with 'what ifs'."
  • "Don't keep 'what if'ing your self because they never end.  They will just go on and on."
  • "What ever happens, you will just deal with it.  God has a plan, there is no need to worry.  He won't give you anymore then you can handle WITH Him."
  • "You need to deal with what is happening right now, at this moment."  
  • "No matter what happens, stay calm and pray to God for wisdom.  He will show you what to do."
Another exercise that is good to do is to ask them, "What are you afraid of happening?"  Or, "What is the worse that could happen?"  For example, if the child says they are afraid of the house catching on fire, you would help them see that they would leave the house and the fire department would come and put the fire out.  This exercise may be too hard for a child who lacks the ability to reason, meaning a child on the spectrum or with delays.  The point of the exercise is to show, what ever happens, you will just deal with the situation.  

Death may come up in your 'what if' conversation, but you need to deal with it honestly, while only giving them simple information that they need to know.  It is best to be calm, steady and sure of yourself in your delivery.  If you don't believe it completely, your children will see that, and they won't believe either.  As Christians, we have no fear of death.  If your child is persistent, but not yet mature enough, I tell them they will learn more as they get older, but now is not the time.  They need to grow more.  

Having an environment where your child can come and talk to you about what is on their heart plays a major role in providing that teachable moment.  If we have our child's heart, if they feel loved and safe with us, they will let us into their most personal thoughts.  Our children need us to talk to.  They need to be reassured by us.  During these talks with my children, I always remind them that it is our (their mother and father's) job to take care of them and help them though any events that might happen.  Even when they are by themselves, God is ALWAYS with them, watching over them. No worries.  It is a good reminder to the us as well, because where do you think their deep thinking brain came from?  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Newsletter 2011

We hope this letter finds you well. Our year has flown by. We had quite a busy year. Last spring we got to go to Walt Disney World with Karen's sister and fiance. It had been 3 years since a real vacation, so we really enjoyed every minute of it. The kids even fought Darth Vader. JP had his mouse ears on the whole time, I am sure Vader was quaking in his boots. They were given the opportunity to join forces with Vader, but we are proud to say none of them turned to the Dark Side.

Also in Spring, Karen's sister announced her wedding would be in November in Key West, Florida. So we got to go on another trip to Florida. We drove all the way down. How many keys could they possibly be? It is gorgeous there though, and the wedding was beautiful. G had the honor of being a flower girl and the boys ring bearers. On the way back, we stopped for a couple of days at Disney World, this time with Karen's brother and parents, who missed the trip in the spring due to a hospital stay.

This was a milestone year for Ed, he turned 40. He had a quiet, little party with his best friends. All else is the same, same job, same worship team. Just before Christmas, Ed got to go out to Arizona to see his family. His mom is fighting cancer, and we could not think of a better present for her then Ed.

Karen is snowed under with work. She is homeschooling the kids full time with a full load of students, John started Kindergarten this year. Homeschooling 3 kids is really not hard, it is all the rest of the stuff that is the problem, like sending out punctual cards and newsletters. She is enjoying nesting until we are placed with a baby.

G turned 10 this year. She still takes Irish Dancing lessons, and lots of homeschooling activities – homeschooling skating is her favorite. This year she has joined the chess club at the library, and really enjoys it. G's hot interests this year are video games, roller skating and crafts.

Z turns 8 next month. This year at our homeschool co-op he got to take a cooking class, he enjoys to help Karen cook. He recently joined a township wrestling team, and loves it! Ed wrestled when he was in middle school, and he has turned into quite a stage mom. Z is so excited on practice nights, he is too worked up to eat dinner, so that tells you how important this really is to him. This year Z's interests are cars, wrestling, and playing outside.

JP turned 5 this year, and started Kindergarten. At co-op he moved up to a new class, where he gets to go to different stations. He loves to do everything with Z, they even sleep together. Z keeps trying to get him to join the wrestling team, but JP says he will only join if they get a blue mat – his favorite color. JP knows what he wants. One of his favorite places to go is the zoo, he says he is going to live there when he grows up. JP's interests are animals, cars, and pretending to be a baby animal.

As for number 4, all our adoption paperwork is finished. We are a waiting family, which means we show our profile to birth parents and wait for them to pick us. So far we have not gotten picked, but it is exciting to receive opportunities. When we do get picked, it probably will happen very quickly. Adoption is a lot of waiting, and then instant baby! We look forward to sending out an adoption announcement. G and Z keep making JP act like a baby so they have a baby to play with. Hopefully we will not have to wait too long.

May God bless your New Year,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to Tell if your Child is an Entitled Child

Here is a great article on childhood entitlement.  Click on the link to read it in full.  Here is a quick checklist to see if as a parent you have fallen into a the common modern plague of creating an entitled child.

An entitle child will:

  • immediately lash out "with accusations or insults" when they are told no
  • is shocked when told no
  • not take turns well
  • be impatient
  • generally put themselves first
  • throw a temper tantrums when they don't get what they want
  • not say "please" and "thank you"
Now, every child, especially a toddler or preschooler, will behave these ways from time to time.  This list is meant to reflect a consistent behavior over time.  

Not every child fits in the "box", some children actually have a social delay, which causes huge problems with flexibility.  This is not because of your parenting style, it is because of their delay.  The child is not trying to be bad to ruin your day, they just don't have the tools yet to deal with it.  If you are not sure wether of not your child has a delay, read the first few chapters in The Explosive Child by Ross W. Green, chapter 3 has the checklist.  I am sure your library has a copy.  Just would like to add, these children do things that all children do, but it is just on a whole other level.  You could also take your child to a councilor or psychologist who specializes in children.  Now, just because they have a delay, it does not mean the behavior is acceptable.  Occupational Therapy, play therapy with a councilor and other resources can help you get your child's behavior to be with in the proper boundaries.  It is not an excuse, but it is a very good reason to show them grace and not to think of them as a spoiled child and yourself as a bad parent!

Here are some things you can to to reverse an entitled child:
  • start saying no more often, but not always
  • make them do things for themselves
  • require a "no please" and a "yes, thank you"
  • make them wait
  • give them less 
  • if it is extended family giving too much, try to control that as much as possible
  • put some of their items away - less clothes, less toys ( you don't have to throw them out, just put them out of site)
  • requirer them to do some basic chores for no money and give them the opportunity to earn money doing jobs around for money
  • have many heart to heart talks with them about thinking of others, the universe does not revolve around them, and they have to work for what they want
  • if they lose a toy or brake one, don't buy them a new one
  • they do not always have to be happy, so lessons in life are painful, that is they only way we learn our lesson

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Plans are interesting.  They can revolutionize our lives or they can make us feel like a failure.  Anytime I have a problem, I love to make a plan that will solve it.  Actually, planning is my favorite part, the action or endurance, not so much.   Good plans will let us achieve our goals with out wearing out. 

When it is someone else's plan, I guess I would be willing to try it on for a fit.  When I have a problem, I love to do a lot of research to find out how other people solve it.  It may be my solution or it may not work for our family at all or it just may need to be modified to fit us.  I think it is important to periodically reevaluate your plan too. Things change over time.  Now I coupon and stock up on good deals, with in sane reason :) and without waste or committing coupon fraud.  Perhaps when my kids are teenagers, they just might eat more if we have more.  At their age now, no one wants to go down to the basement on their own, even for food!  In years to come, when our basement becomes a teenage cave, I can see the food vanishing quickly.  I have to be open to changing my plan.

Lately I have been using couch to 5k, and it is very motivating to have a plan and to check it off as done.  Plans are better when they are reasonable and have small increments of change.  Short term plans give us a sense of accomplishment.  9 weeks, I can do anything for 9 weeks.  It seems so much more manageable.  

Also, I think it is very important to bare in mind that people are very different and have very different circumstances.  I am not sure if one plan is better than the other as far as laundry, running, meal planning, etc.  My friend has an extremely clean house, and I keep thinking, I need to get her cleaning routine so I can have a super clean house too.  But I have to remind myself, she has one child and an extremely neat husband, while I have 3 and a very nice, but untidy husband :-)  Some people think she is too neat, but I respect her cleaning plan because I know she does it with a good heart.  Her husband really needs a neat house for it to feel like a sanctuary, but others don't know that and judge her without knowing her heart.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pinterest: Organizing Your Ideas

A friend introduced me to Pinterest, which is a website which lets you 'pin' items you find on the web onto your virtual board on their website.  No pile of papers clipped for ideas you plan to get to someday.  Most magazines have this articles on-line now, so you can pin them instead.  No printing recipes that you plan to cook someday, and then not being able to find it when you need it.  It is great for those blog posts, decor ideas, or fun things to do with the kids that want to remember.  It is a great organizational tool that puts your 'idea clutter' and stores it into cyber space, not in your dining room!

When you 'pin' something on Pinterest, it will show a large picture with just a brief description, which is also a link to the site that you pinned from.  There is a small button on your bookmark task bar that lets you do this.  It is also like Facebook, in that you can follow other people, so you can see what your friends pin.  It is a great way to share ideas, and it is set up so you can either view just your friends' pins or everyones' pins.

On Pinterest, you can have serval boards under whatever subject headings you want.  They will suggest some to you when you sign up.  Here are mine:

  • Products I Love
  • Books Worth Reading
  • Homeschooling Ideas
  • Decor
  • Gift Ideas
  • Dinner Ideas
  • Kid's Decor
  • Places I'd Like to Go
  • Craft Ideas
  • Sweet Treats
  • Recipes (this is for food that doesn't fit into sweets or dinner ideas)
  • Holidays
  • Household Management
  • Toys and Fun
  • My Blog Posts (if it is a post I need to go back and reference)
  • Baby Ideas
  • Fitness
  • Travel with Kids
  • Photo Shots
If you are on Pinterest, share your board titles in the comments! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ruling Over My Laundry Pile

There is nothing like the change of seasons to bring on an eruption of Mount Washmore.  This time it has made me rethink our laundry system because apparently it is just not working.  First of all, the laundry is not getting done.  Second, I am doing it all, the kids should be helping more.  They are 10, 7, and 5, so no more excuses.  Lastly, if I am fortunate enough to wash, dry and actually take the clothes out before they are completely wrinkled, they sit in all sorts of places, except in their proper place - in our drawers and closets.

Most people will organize their laundry system by letting clothes pile in bins, marked with each child's name.  Then, once the bins are full, they put them away.  This does not work for us right now because seeing all those clothes to put away makes me want to put it off, not to mention that it totally overwhelms my kids.  Also, part of doing the laundry every day is so we need less clothes.  This would not work if we only put the clothes away once a week.  This is not just with laundry, I find just about anything multiplies if I do not put it away right away - mail, kids' artwork, toys, etc.

The solution is to make sure I put in a load first thing in the morning, if I wake up early enough, the load will be dried by the time I start homeschooling.  Because lets face it, once we start school, that is pretty much it for the rest of the day as far as household management is concerned.  To get more help, that is done correctly, we are going to put the laundry away, right away, and as a team.  After breakfast, I can wipe down the dining room table, which I need to do for school anyway.  Then the kids take their spots standing by their seats, and I dump the laundry in the middle.  I hang or fold the clothes and they run and put them away, pretty much one item at a time (mostly tops and bottoms).  This keeps them busy while I fold or hang the clothes. It helps to be faithful in the small things first!  Once they master this, my hope is they can also hang and fold their own clothes.

This part takes some training.  First time I found my pants in my 5 year old's drawer.  Also, I like sweat pants with sweat pants and jean with jeans.  If it is not done the way I want it to, I know I will end up doing it myself, and besides, showing them exactly how to put clothes away helps the task seem achievable for them.  My kids always need the helpful reminder, "We get done faster, if we do our work right."  Next time I think I need to add about being a careful listener too, my post put away inspection finds many "now how did they get that out of what I told them to do" examples.  Hopefully this whole scheme leads to "many hands make light work," clean clothes and our laundry problem solved!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Careful What You Say

My son was standing on top of his Bible today and so I said to him, "You do not stand on the Word of God!"  Then I realized what I said, and add, " . . . well, not physically anyway."  Hope that clears it up!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rachel's Hope

"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Glad you no longer suffer friend, glad there is no more pain. Thankful for your faith in death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that through this you have everlasting life. Sorrow for your family, your husband, you boys, your circle of friends and of course, myself, because we will all miss you terribly, dear Rachel. You have left your mark on all of us, we will never feel far from you, and by God's grace, we will join you one day.

You have made me laugh so hard. Our moms nights out will not be the same with out you, but your presence will be in our memories we shared with you.  When I praise God in church, I will feel the joy of you praising God face to face.  

One of the best gifts we get during our lifetime is a good friend.  A person who thinks like you, has the same interests, one who splits your sides with laughter, someone you can talk hours to and who accepts you as you are, period.  While I have not known her for a long time, Rachel was that kind of friend.  It is hard to let someone go, but it is much harder to know your friend is suffering so much.  Now my friend is home in heaven, and she suffers no more.    

Rachel fought a hard battle with cancer, with much suffering and pain.  She never gave up hope or her faith in God. The cancer won over her life, but Jesus won victory over her death.  He defeated death on the cross when He died for our sins.  I am not really sure what makes me cry more, the loss of my friend or the beauty of what God has done for us - through his own suffering, he redeemed us, forgave us, and on his Believers he has bestowed everlasting life with Him.  There is a remarkable beauty in the  gathering of believers, in different places, but at all at once, hearts turned toward God. 

Her sister started this blog about the special diet they used for Rachel and to update us all about how Rachel was doing.  It is a beautiful record of hope, hardship, and a family's love for one another.

Here is Rachel giving her testimony, it is a really good one, I hope you watch it.  She truly is a beautiful person inside and out. Thanks be to God for the work done in Rachel's life, for God sharing her with us, and using her for His glory.   

Monday, September 12, 2011

When Your Child Hates School UPDATE

My one son hated school for Kindergarten and 1st Grade(we homeschool). The night before we started 2nd Grade he cried. However, once he started school, he loved it. Here I wrote a post about some things that helped us through the last two years. Looking back I realize what I think the problem was and how I could have avoided it.  Also, I added some general lessons I learned from all my children that have helped us all to love school.

  • I should have used a curriculum that required mastery in 1st grade (not Kindergarten). Like Suzuki music lessons, the child can move at their own pace. They do not feel bored or lost.  They do not move on until they master the lesson, and when they do move on, they continue to review what they mastered.
  • Kindergarten and 1st Grade uses a lot of repetitive busy work. Some kids need it, and it is good for kids. However, it bored my son to death and I was not in tuned to that fact.  Bored kids will sometimes act like they do not know the answer, when they no all along.  No longer do I make him do boring work.  
  • While I require them to do hard work and have discipline, I no longer do it at the sake of their love of learning.  There are always exceptions to any rule, but in general, I find this approach actually results in them learning more not less.  Also, the learning that does occur is not forced, but out of genuine interest.  
For example, my son hated writing the numbers 1 to 100.  His curriculum had him do it 6 times, I had him do it twice - once to show me he knew it and once for a test.  Truth be told, I should have only done it once.  He knows it, I know he knows it.  Why would I want to risk his love for math ( he begs to do math ), for the "character" he would get from doing something he hated 6 times.  There are lots of other opportunities for him to learn that lesson, such as saying, "yes mommy," when he doesn't want to.  He will learn discipline from those areas.  People make the argument that when he gets a job he will have to do tasks he finds boring, but he will have to do them.  However, I say, how is he even going to get to that professional job if he hates school.  Instead I want to show him flexibility, reason and thinking outside the box, all of those things are applied in my examples above.    Those are useful lessons as well, and there are plenty of opportunities to show him he needs to do undesirable tasks. 

  • Just as I found not to give him tasks that were too easy for him, I also found not to give tasks that were beyond what he is capable at the moment.  If writing is very hard for him, I will have him narrate his notebook page to me instead of writing out by hand.  He will do some written work, but not to the point it over loads him.  Also, sometimes it seems like they are not paying attention or being rebellious, but they may just have a delay.  Remember, delays can be emotional or be in communication as well as scholastic delays.  If this is the case, I may need to find a new way to teach them while being patient with my expectations.  This was really hard to except because I had to see they were not being bad, but wanted to be good, and just did not have the tools to do it.  Also, I had to learn to relax.  They will learn to do it.  I had the most frustrating time teaching him to use scissors to no avail, and I should have just waited because it cuts great now.  
  • Lastly, setting boundaries helps make the school day more enjoyable in the long run.  If he knows he will have to finish his work at night with his Dad instead of playing with his Dad, he learns to finish his work on time.  If he interrupts our read aloud with his shenanigans, and I start over at the beginning of the page or paragraph, he realizes goofing off makes school longer.  He learns school is more fun in the boundaries.   This last part only works if I adhere to what I learned above.  
One good question in all of this is how do you know if it is boredom, a delay or laziness?  If it is a delay, it will show up when the child wants to do tasks, like remembering lines in a play they want to participate in, but cannot.  Remember our struggle with scissors, my son could not use scissors when I asked him to for school, nor when he badly wanted to himself.  This is clearly a delay.  Always rule out the delay first. If it is not a delay, boredom is easily defined by their constant, consistent lack of interest/focus, silly answers, and whining.  While with laziness, it will be the same reactions, but periodically, not every time the task is required.   Boredom and laziness can happen for several reasons, neither will change unless you find the reason - too hard, too easy, not enough sleep, not a good breakfast, etc.  

What have you done that has made school more lovable?  One thing for sure, the answer will not be the same for all of us, and the answer will keep changing for each of us!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Year Old's Take on 9/11

At our church today, we remember those who lost their lives in the attack on our country on September 11, 2001.  My daughter was only a few months old when the attacks happened, but she is ten now.  During the church service, when a picture of the skyline with the twin towers flashed up on the screen, I leaned over to tell her that on this day enemies of our country flew planes into those buildings and they fell down.  Then she made the connection that the event was like the game "Angry Birds."  Not getting upset about her sweet, innocent connection, I told her yes, except that those buildings were full of people and the planes were full of people.

A few minutes later I told her that many firefighters and policemen lost their lives that day saving other people from those buildings.  Also, I mentioned those brave men who stopped that 4th plane from its intended target.  My daughter responded by saying, "It is like a freedom day." Children are so observant.

It is hard to explain the horrors of this world to our children.  It is not good to watch news on TV in front of them.  Not that we want to overprotect them, but somethings are better handled when you are more mature.  Tragic events effect children differently than adults, that is my personal experience and opinion.  I personally think it is more scaring to a child, and that it can greatly effect their adult life.  I don't want my children to watch the planes flying into the towers, or other horrible images seen that day.

However, I want them to know what we are remembering, and it is our job to pass down the events to future generations, so they will not forget.  We want to limit scaring, and not with hold information at the same time.  Children see and hear and know a lot more than we give them credit for.  They also can confuse events easily, like my 4 year old that thought my husband's home was at work!  It is best to simply, appropriately to inform them on their level.  If we seem confident and in control of our emotions, they will feel more secure.  The information will not frighten them as much, as they feed off our emotions.  How many times have you heard that the mom sets the tone in the house?  It is a good rule of thumb to remember, like George W. Bush remembered when he got the news that day, eyes are watching you, you need to remain calm, so they may be reassured.  Show your courage, your faith in an almighty God and they will reflect you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


There is just something so satisfying about being close to your food - cooking, preparing and preserving the food your family intends to eat yourself. Recently a friend offered to teach me to can. It was so much fun, and not anywhere as complicated or hard as I expected it to be. Canning is actually quite simple. Here is a good website by Ball if canning is something you always wanted to do, but did not know where to start. It is no substitute for a friend to show you the ropes, but it does give what you need to know to start yourself if you do not have a canning buddy. It is also a good reference for beginners. However, I must say, canning with a friend is much more fun!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Simplifying Life at Home

It is the stuff again, overflowing from every vantage point. There are mountains of work every where - dirty laundry, dishes to be washed, toys to put away, books to find a home for, it could go on and on. The kids, even my husband, have not been cleaning up after themselves, which means I end up dealing with their messes, and I can't get to the heavy load already on my plate. While I may feel like flipping out at my husband and pointing my finger at my children, it really all starts with me. Mom sets the mood and tone for the household. If I want self sufficient cleaner uppers I need to lead by example.

The problem is that trap I mentioned above. After all, how can you clean up or do your chores when the family is making dirty faster than clean. It is not possible, especially if you work outside the home or homeschool. No matter how hard one tidy person works, they cannot make up for four people who do not pick up after themselves. My friend once put her husbands dirty socks in his coffee maker to teach him a lesson, that was brilliant, but I wonder if it only worked for a while. Trust me, I have try all sort so ways - hard as nails, crying, bagging, threatening, and bribing. You can lower your standards, but eventually, if you lower them too much you have ran out of clean dishes, clean clothes and the floor is covered in "stuff."

We are about to start our homeschooling year tomorrow, and this issue of the "mess" and "stuff" was weighing heavily upon my spirit. For the past month I have been asking God for wisdom of how to solve this problem and to show me what we needed to change. Then the Lord used another family's similar struggle to answer my prayer.

It was a blog post on Building Cathedrals titled "Less is More." Basically, you take everything out you can and box it up, donate it or put in the trash. Everyone will find it much easy to pick up after themselves. Then, as you master that level, you can bring some things back up from the basement. Follow the link and read the whole post, it sounds extreme, but I think it will make your household much easier to run. It follows a very basic, biblical principle of stewardship (Parable of the Talents). Focus on one thing, master it and then and only then, move on while reviewing what you mastered. It is so simple, so basic, now we must need to do it.

The photo at the top is a big mess my son made while I was schooling my daughter, below is my repentant son after he cleaned it all up.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Answer Questions Carefully

If you child asks you what he can do with his stickers, don't say, "Whatever you want." No matter how busy you are or how fed up you are with 101 th question he has asked that day. Well, he did put them very neatly on the door, I will say that. And he is right, I did say do whatever he wanted with them.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Milk Jug Igloo

This is one of those crazy, fun projects. It is cheap and great way to reuse materials. But it is a big one, so you will need a big space, like a basement playroom, or do it outside. I question how well it will work outside - strong winds? spider webs?

Another of my concerns is that yuck-yuck, rot dairy smell from the old milk containers. I would practice getting the smell out of one first milk jug. Also, don't forget you can use water gallon jugs, as well as orange juice, distilled water, ice tea, etc.

It looks complex, but probably the hardest, time consuming part is collecting and washing the milk jugs. Actually making the igloo seems like it would be a fun rainy day or weekend project. Usually I read directions about neat ideas like this one, and they seem way too complex or expensive (not to mention, leaving out a lot of practical information), but this project does seem doable if you have the materials and space.

This would make for excellent memories. First I have to see how much work goes into de-funking a old milk jug. If I did it, I would make the big one, 428 jugs, but I am crazy like that. I would have a slide down to our playroom if I could put one in. By my calculations, we would need about 40 families to give us 10 milk jugs. I can see my husband shaking his head at me right now.

Here is the link:

Side note, sometimes we moms can be guilty of doing things like this instead of the things we are suppose to be doing, like laundry and discipling our kids. Build your milk jug igloo responsibly ;-)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Coupon Fraud on Extreme Couponing

Coupon Fraud is very real, not to mention, very illegal. Most of all, it is not pleasing to God! Here is a great post about fraud caught on tape on Extreme Couponing on TLC. If you coupon, take the time to educate yourself on the subject so you can spot criminal couponing advice when you see one.

As for the show, I do not have cable, so I did not see this one. However, I did see the pilot, and like some parts of it. Of course I would like to see more "realistic" shopping runs on a reality show.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Words of Wisdom from My Governor

Here are some words of wisdom from my New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on fiscal responsibility. He is a man after my own heart:
Gov. Chris Christie appeared on NJ 101.5 FM this week for his "Ask the Governor" show and left armed with a new viral audio clip.

Gov. Chris Christie

On the call-in show, Penny from Blackwood asked Christie how she, a state worker, was going to pay for the additional costs of her health care plan under the governor's proposal to take more money from state workers' pay for their insurance.

The answer was pure Christie:

"... We can no longer afford to pay 90-plus percent of the cost of your health care. Public workers are getting their health insurance paid for out of your property taxes and state workers are getting their health insurance paid for out of your income taxes. If I'm $67 billion in debt and you don't want me to take any more money out of your paycheck, how am I supposed to pay for it? Am I just supposed to raise taxes? Because if I raise taxes, you're going to pay more taxes. And if your property taxes go up, you're going to pay more taxes. I mean, the money's got to come from somewhere. We can't print it."

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Getting a Child Who Hates School to Love School

Or at least do their schoolwork with out a struggle. Recently I wrote a post about when a child hates school and some advice from my friends. This is my follow up post.

School is conducted in peacefulness now thanks to some changes. Here is what worked for us:

  • Writing a list of each assignment. This alleviates the anxiety of endless amounts of schoolwork and provides a sense of accomplishment when your child crosses it off. My friend gave me the idea of color coding assignments green for independent work and red for work with mom. This way, if you are caught up with another child, they can still move ahead.
  • Adding a fun hands on, educational activity to start our school day. It may be spelling word with our Lego letter blocks or a puzzle, but it is done quietly, seated at the table with the rest of us. I pick something my son will enjoy because I want to show him learning can be fun. It sets a good tone for our school time. Also, I give my younger son a parallel activity as a form of peer pressure.
  • Academic Probation. This was my husband's idea, every night he would work with my son on his school work. My husband's reasoning was that my son looked forward to that time to play with his Dad, and missing that special time would motivate him to get his act together. During our normal school time, my son would be given educational tasks and complete some non-battle producing school tasks. Eventually, we were able to do all of his schoolwork during normal school hours.
Three simple changes, but it fixed our school problems.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Math Battle or Teaching Textbooks

Ok, my husband has gently mentioned before that I seem heavy handed in my posts about the struggles of homeschooling, he is right. After this I will try to think of a positive posts, but here is one more:

Next year I was thinking about getting an independent math or language arts program, so I will have time to teach the boys their reading and math. Though, I have felt concerned over the scholastic level of the independent programs. I do not want something that will make my kid a lemming or pencil resistant (hates learning). So, I felt concerned, torn and had a lot of questions.

However, math time has gotten so bad with my oldest, I think I need to switch now. She has a hard time learning math skills, and so hates math. I think doing math actually gives her a tension headache. Teaching Textbooks seems like it may be a great solution for us, though it is a grade or 2 behind in grade level. My daughter is behind anyway, so it might be a good fit for her. She enjoyed the on-line sample lesson, you can find them on their website.

Here is a really good review on Teaching Textbooks by a math tutor:
Time used: one year
Your situation:
started homeschooling middle of last year, went through all the popular math currics, none work for my 10 yr old who is diagnosed with dyscalculia, this year we also decided to homeschool our 8 yr old.

Why you liked/didn't like the book:
I will give the good first, this computer program has worked well for my 5th grader. We used the 4th grade cdroms. My son would cry at school during a math lesson and once we started homeschooling with Saxon and other like that he started banging his head on table, just pulling out the math book sent him into a major melt down. I am confident that this program is a perfect fit for my 10 yr old. 5 days a week he completes one lesson on his own without a fight. I did have to sit beside him for about three months everyday before he was confident on his own. I highly suggest this for kids that seem to have problems with math computations or have anxiety when you pull out a math book.

Now the bad, and this is really bad. I am a math tudor for several public school stundents. This program claims to be the best homeschool math for the 21st century, yet it is a good 2 yrs behind. When I called to ask about this, the lady just blew me off and laughed, "Our program follows state standards." I let her know that I am a math AND standardized tudor for 3 states. I explained that I loved their product; however they need to add so much. If you do use this product, contact your local school district and request a copy of their math standardized test prep. Each state gives each child a s.t.p workbook that has one or two questions that are required for that year. If you only use these product your child will not be considered grade level if you had to put them back in school or wanted them tested, for most homeschool families we are not concerned with "keeping up" with public school. I think those test prep workbooks are only helpful to children if you take time to go over each concept. All my students say that their teacher spent on day on several pages, one page can have up to 5 different concepts. If you can get one of these workbooks, talk your time, use the Teaching Textbooks for "happy time" math everyday and take one concept from the state standard workbook, go over it until your child really gets it. Homeschoolers are not slaves to government produced standards. We have learned that children and ready when they are ready, enforcing concepts too soon, too fast can change a child forever. My 5th grade students are doing stem and leaf proability graphs, which is not explored in this product. Also 5th grade students are required to know mode, median, average. This product has this in their 7th grade program.
To sum it up, my 5th grade LD student is doing the 4th grade lessons, my 2nd grade student is also using the 4th grade lessons. As with any homeschool product, it's not going to fit the perfect mold with state standards. If state standards worked for our kids, we would put them back in school.

Any other helpful hints:
Know what is important to you. Do you want your child to pull out their laptop and do their math lesson on their own, then you can go back and check the grade book
do you want to keep up, keep up, until your child is banging their head on the table?

Review left February 12, 2010

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Good Stewards Class Notes: Couponing and Frugality

A friend and I spoke at a women's breakfast at my church on good stewardship of our money. While that is a huge topic, we mostly touched on how to save money by staying out of debt and couponing. Couponing is much more than just clipping coupons, it is a state of mind where wait to get what you need until you can get it at a good price. Once I saved over $700 on our family vacation by keeping my eyes opened and making 1 phone call. Below is more of a list of jumping off points, than a how to. It is the resources to get you started. Here is the hand out with a few added links and notes:

First of all, you may want to read this post I wrote comparing frugality with good stewardship. This part can be easily overlooked, but it is very important to have the right perspective.

There is also this post on couponing myths like, "There is nothing I would use coupons for."

Coupon lingo can be confusion to new be couponers, here is a site that translates for you.

Basic Principle
It is very simple, you use a coupon on a product that is already on sale. But you just don't buy one, you buy enough to last you to the next sale, usually about 3 months. See, the old way of couponing was buying a box of zip locks because I ran out. As an after thought I use 1 coupon as well. The new way is waiting until zip locks go on sale, then using the coupons I have to get several boxes. The old way I would get 1 paper, the new way I would get at least 4!

Four papers may sound like a lot, but you must have several to make your effort pay big. You can ask family and friends for their unwanted coupon inserts. If you cannot find any free paper inserts, even if you buy a paper, it would more than pay for itself.  If you are single or are just maintaining a stockpile, you may be able to get by with 2-3 papers.  As you keep reading, it will make more sense.  It also really depends how good the coupons are that week, I do not get 4 every week.  We will talk more about that too.  

Below there are more notes and links about coupon inserts and printable coupons. I also wrote 2 other posts on couponing here and here.
Here is a no coupon way to save money:

Homemade Laundry-detergent
This laundry detergent saves a huge amount of money. We buy its three ingredients for less than five dollars, and the resulting concentrate lasts our large family(the Duggars, not us) 3 months! It's a watery gel that produces low suds inside the washer. The ingredients are usually available in the laundry-products aisle of the supermarket — or order online. (Check recipes on the Internet; there's also a dry version of this laundry soap that's good for top-loading machines.) ~From 19 and Counting (Duggars) TLC on their recipe page. Added some comments myself. I have post here and here about this before. I have tried the dry recipe, it is not as good.

1 Fels Naptha soap bar, grated
 1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
(All these ingredients can be found in the laundry isle at Shoprite.) 

Equipment: pot, grader, 5 gallon bucket, an old laundry-detergent bottle

1)Grate the soap bar into a small saucepan. Cover soap with hot water. 2)Cook over medium-low heat, stirring continually, until the soap completely dissolves.
3)Put washing soda and borax in a 5-gallon bucket. Pour in the hot, melted soap mixture. Stir well, until all the powder is dissolved. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot tap water. Stir, cover securely, and let set overnight. 
4)The next morning, stir the mixture. Mix equal amounts of soap concentrate and water in a smaller laundry-detergent dispenser or container. Shake before using.
For top-loading machines: Use 1 cup of the soap mixture per load.
For front-loading machines: Use 1/2 cup per load.

Coupon Inserts:
There are a few different publishers of coupons. They are:
Red Plum
Smart Source
P&G Brand Saver (Protector and Gamble products) 
GM Everyday Saver (General Mills)

You will find the title up at the top of the coupon insert. Occasionally, there may be 2 Red Plums and/or 2 Smart SourceS. The date is printed on the spine.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Best coupons most of the time, has more coupons per Smart Source insert, but no Red Plum. This paper is best bought on Saturday, if you don't have it delivered and costs about $1.75. However, the some Shoprites sell it for $1 (Medford, NJ).

Burlington Country Times: has less coupons per Smart Source insert, but does have a Red Plum. This paper is best bought on Sunday from the Dollar Tree for $1 of course.

All You: A magazine sold only by Wal-mart, full of a lot of coupons. You can get a subscription from Amazon or from their website Also, you can print coupons from their website.

Individual Coupons Printed from the Internet: Here are some safe sights to print coupons from:
There are more available, many companies offer coupons (see “Is this printable coupon legitimate?” ). Remember, you can print 2 coupons per computer. So, the more computers you have access to, the more you can print. You will have to download a program, but it is perfectly safe. It just makes sure you cannot print out more than allowed.  

Weekly Preview: Find out what some of the good coupons, how many inserts, what inserts are in the paper, and how many papers to buy of this weekend. She posts it on Saturday.

To buy weekly inserts:
Ebay – search for inserts by date - “coupon inserts 1/9." You can also buy single coupons. I saved $60 once by buying Almond Milk coupons on Ebay. FYI you are paying for the service to cut and ship, not the coupons - that is illegal.  Yes, there is such a thing as coupon fraud, and it is serious.  

Websites: -watch videos on shopping at a specific stores (local shopping deals, and videos on putting together coupon binder) (videos, couponing 101, store policies) – authors of Pick Another Check Out Lane Honey (Great for all your Target deals!)

What can I buy with coupon and for how much?
Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
Saline Solution
Over the Counter Drugs
Shaving Cream
Feminine Hygiene Products
Cake Mix, Pancake Mix, Brownies, Cookie Mix
Soap and Body Wash
Shampoo and Conditioner
Pasta and Sauce
Cleaning Products and Dish Soap
Toilet Paper
Paper Towels
Candy and Gum
Paper Towels
Toilet Paper
Tea and Coffee
Diapers and Wipes
Canned Foods

Buy Prices:
What are the items you should put in your stockpile? The list is long, but here are some:
Condiments (BBQ Sauce, steak sauce, mustard, ketchup, mayo)
Rice and Pasta
Snacks (crackers, nachos, salsa, popcorn)
Canned Goods (tomatoes, sauce, soups, vegetables)
Cleaning Supplies (cleaners, garbage bags, laundry)
Drinks (water, soda, iced tea, coffee, tea, juice)
Dairy (butter, creamers)
Meats and Fish (keep frozen)
Health and Beauty Products (band aids, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, soap, etc.)
Start your stockpile slowly, only looking for those items that are cheap or free. Within 4 weeks of starting your stockpile you can start to see approximately $50 knocked off your grocery bill. Within 8 weeks you can get to as much as $100 or even more off your weekly bill.
You will NEVER pay full price again!
  • Ground Beef 80-85% Lean $1.69- $1.99/lb
  • Boneless Chicken Breasts $ 1.69- $1.99/lb
  • Bone in Chicken Breast $ 0.79/lb
  • Whole Chickens $ 0.97/lb
  • Chicken Thighs or Drumsticks $ 0.79/lb
  • Boneless Pork Chops $ 1.49/lb
  • Boneless Pork Loin $0.99/lb
  • London Broil $ 1.69/lb
  • Top Sirloin Steak $ 3.99/lb
  • Flank Steak $ 4.99/lb
Also be sure to check at Acme for “Manager Specials” they're will be a white coupon for an even lower price!!

Here is a sample buy price list, make your own according to the things you buy:
Cheese $1 or less for a bag of shredded cheese
Ground Beef $1.75/lb
Chicken $1.67/lb
Milk $2.50/gallon (whole)- I freeze my milk if it's lower than this and I want to really stock up
Cleaning Supplies (lysol wipes, bathroom & kitchen cleaners) $.50 or less
Toothpaste/brushes FREE
Cereal $.75 per box or less
Brownie and Cookie Mixes Less than $.50 or FREE
Dish Soap $.25 or FREE
Scott TP less then $.25 a roll
Kotex Pads FREE
Saline Solution FREE
Granola Bars $.50
Chinet Paper Plates $.50
Bisquick $.90 or FREE
Fruit Snacks $ .50 or less
Deodorant FREE
Body Wash FREE
Plan your meals, save money. Plan your meals around what you brought cheap or for free, save A LOT OF MONEY! (ingredient searches) (season dinner planning, easy, whole foods and healthy)

Only keep what you can use before it expires or 3 months to a year's worth at most. I might be able to get 20 tubes of free toothpaste, but I cannot possibly use them before they expire. While you are shopping for your household, pick up some items you can get FREE to donate!

Food shelters, missionary housing, charities that work with the needy ( i.e. homeless, women's shelter, aid to single mothers, pregnancy centers etc.) are just a few ideas. Keep your ears open, and you will hear how you can make a big difference just by spending your time. If your neighbor loses their job, you can just go to your stockpile to grab some things to help them. I have asked some people evolved with different ministries in our church, specifically what they need and how many people they plan to reach. This gives me an idea of what to look out for in "free" products, while making sure all my efforts and perfectly good supplies are not wasted.

Links to Helpful Handouts:
Final word
All this free and cheap items can make a newbie couponer go a little crazy.  Just please be sure not to clear the shelf, other shoppers are buying too.  A practical rule I use is no more than 4 items per store, unless it is a deal where you have to spend a certain about.  For example, buy $10 of Hunts products and get a $5 catalina off your next order).  It doesn't matter if you are going to donate them all.  There are families who seriously depend on these deals to make it, I am speaking of basic needs here, like heat, food and shelter.  If it is the last day of the sale and the store still has tons, then it is FINE to go crazy.  God wants us to be good stewards of our money, no matter what your income!  Other than that, please remember the biblical practice of gleaning in the wheat fields!

Books and Resources
  • America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams by Steve and Annette Economides
-Lots of U Tube videos (link from their website)
-Great chapters on budgeting, saving and getting out of debt – very practical and realistic

-Great debt free living book

-Great testimony of debt free living and good money saving tips
-This is where I got my recipe for Homemade Laundry-detergent

  • Green This! Volume I: Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus
-Easy to implement with good information, excluding her conspiracy theories:-)
-She has other volumes available on green living

-She has a few other cookbooks as well.
-Weekly dinner menu plans based on season available foods, on a healthy, whole foods diet. She includes side suggestions.
-Simple, cheap and easy dinners that taste good too!
-Her books are great, but I think her eBooks and subscriptions are outrageously priced 

-Excellent book on how to coupon, and fun to read!
*Use your local library to read these books for FREE. Even if your library does not have the book, you can ask for it through inter-library loan.