Friday, May 22, 2009

Surprised by My Kids

Yesterday, each one of my kids did something that surprised me.  When we first started homeschooling, I had a picture of what schooling would be like  at my house.  As the days turned into months, it was so hard not to get get discouraged.  My kids were no where near what I had envisioned.  

Years have gone by, and somehow, little by little, my kids are turning into the  students I had pictured in my mind. And yesterday, each one of them  took a big step in that direction.

It all started when we attempted our first lapbook.  I  have always loved the concept of lapbooking, but didn't think it would work in our house.  A class they are taking online, included a lapbook, so I decided to try one.

Well, first off, they were arguing who was going to do the cover, so I found out that they each wanted to do their own.  

Then, Levi, the one who I thought would not want to do it the most, took great pride in how his looked.  He thoughtfully decorated it and them lamented that he did not have a picture of the scientist.  I tried to contain my joy as I told him that he could find a picture and he could add anything he wanted to add.  The next thing I knew, he had printed a picture  and was saying, "Mom, this guy discovered lots of elements.  He even discovered oxygen."  I was so excited, I almost cried.

Next, Mandi piped up, "Wow! He must be the most famous scientist ever!"  And later, she said," Mom, I know how to spell 'discovered' .  I memorized it."  She still wanted me to write hers for her, (I didn't) but she was learning so much by being a part of the process.

Grace struggled to get started.  It was a new thing for her, so it is normal for her to have a hard time, but by the end she was enjoying it.  She told me that she wanted to start writing history reports.  I swallowed hard and replied, " Yes, you can start doing that.  In fact, I already had that planned for next year." 

 Later, Grace surprised me again.  We were at a friends house, learning about bats.  Grace had  a piece of paper and was writing on it while the friend was reading aloud about bats.  I thought Grace was doodling, but when we were done, I saw that Grace had taken notes.  She had written down 5 or 6 facts about bats.  This is a child who still struggles with fine motor skills, so hand writing is exhausting for her.  And she still struggles with processing.  I did not know that she could listen and write at the same time, but she did!  I was so proud of her.

Lastly,  Olivia is illustrating the poem "The Creation", by Cecil Frances Alexander.  It is the one that starts "All things bright and Beautiful.."  It was my idea, but she is excited about it.  I just noticed that she has been drawing lots of pictures and making up stories to go along with them.  We are both having fun with this project.

Thanks, kids!  I needed a day like that!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Simply in Control- revisited

I failed to mention in my last post, that Dick and I have a goal of saving a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time.  When I saw how much we were able to put in the bank because of not eating out, it inspired me to try to save in other areas.  So, the extreme saving is not a permanent  way of life for us.  It is more like a challenge we have given our selves.  I'm sure that we will learn from this time and continue in some areas and not in others.

In the past few months, we have been able to put money in the bank and use some of it to go on a trip to GA,  and buy a computer.  In the next few months, we will be buying some vinyl fence and Grace and I will buy some new clothes for our birthday.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Simply in control

Dick and I have always been frugal, but up until about a year ago, it was normal for us to go out to eat once or twice a week.  Then two weeks went by and we had not gone out to eat.  We decided to go for 2 more weeks and not go out to eat, just to see what it was like.  It was not easy, but we kept reminding our selves, it is only until the 2 weeks is over.  Once we were at the end of the 2 weeks, we realized that we were OK with not going out to eat, we actually preferred the food that we cooked  and would like to keep eating at home.

Little did I know the effect that it would have on me.  I began to compare  the cost.  I found that it cost at least 3 times as much to eat the same meal at a restaurant.  So any time I would think about eating out, I would think long and hard about how much effort  it really took to cook the meal myself.  Most of the time,  I chose to cook it and save the money.  Instead of feeling disenfranchised, I felt empowered.  I was in control of where we spent our money, not the marketing department of some restaurant.

I began to think about how I spent our money in other areas.  I have always shopped at yard sales and thrift stores, but still would feel the need to buy new clothes for my kids.  I  decided to check at thrift stores when my kids needed clothes and if I still couldn't find it, then I could buy it new.  I found a thrift store that sells kids clothes for 25 cents and started going about once a week.  Now I rarely buy new clothes for my kids.  Also, I found that if I didn't rush out and buy the needed item, many times a friend would just so happen to give me a bag of clothes that had just what we needed.  

When I needed an item for the house, I slowed down and thought about where I could get it used.  For instance, our vacuum cleaner broke and I decided not to go to the nearest store and buy a new one.  I prayed that God would guide me to the vacuum cleaner that we needed.  Just about the time I broke open the bank to buy a new one, I found an old one on the side of the road.  All it needed was a belt and a new bag and it is a great vacuum.  I don't know how long it will last, because it seems to be over 30 years old, but I am enjoying it right now.  I recently saw an add for a good vacuum at Big Lots and I said to myself,  " I am in control of where that $250 goes and not the marketing department of Big Lots."

We also decided to not spend money  for family time, besides food and gas money.  This was harder to do.  What do you do if you don't go to theme parks, don't go out to eat, don't go shopping, don't go to movies, don't play putt putt golf, don't go bowling, don't slot car race, and don't get your hair or nails done.  Well, we spent some time sort of in withdrawals.  But after spending some time not doing much of anything, we began to come up with ideas that we found fun and I realized that the other things were not as much fun as we thought they were.  And if we do get a chance to do them, now they are much more appreciated.  Since our lives are not so cluttered with activities that our culture tells us is fun, we have a clearer vision of what is truly enjoyable for our family and individually.

Now that our lives are simpler, I feel more in control of how we spend our time and money.  My life is full of the things we have chosen and we are enjoying a richer life.