Saturday, November 19, 2011

Searchin' for a Deal = Quality Family Time

The last couple weekends the entire family has piled into one of our vehicles and gone hunting for deals.  Apparently this time of year, the snowbirds are coming back "home" and are realizing they have things they want to get rid of so there are yard sales EVERYWHERE.  So far we have gotten, 2 adult bicycles, some electronic stuff hubby hopes to repair and sell, a few items for the kitchen, and storage bins (lots of them). 

This last one is particularly important to me.  My regular readers are aware by now that my son is a builder.  His favorite material for building is K'nex.  In fact, there is hardly a day that goes by where he isn't building with K'nex.  Unfortunately, they tend to get all over the house and I step on them all the time (luckily they are not as painful as Legos).  Anyway, I've been trying to figure out a way to organize his K'nex so that 1. He can find the piece he wants without dumping the (large) box on the floor thus making a HUGE mess and 2. He can leave partially completed projects out without me stepping on them.

My solution was two fold.  The first was to rearrange part of the sun room so that there is a building / crafting area.  The second was to sort his K'nex into the drawer storage bins that hubby found at a yard sale.  The day we got the storage units, the kids and I spent a couple hours sorting the K'nex and to say my son is please with the arangement is an understatement.  This Mama is pretty happy too.  No K'Nex under feet for a week now! 

Technically we have more drawers than we need right now, but I know something my son doesn't.  He's getting more for Christmas.  A LOT more.  I found 2 bargains on ebay and my parents found something too, so the boy is going to be swimming in K'Nex soon.  I'm pretty sure he's going to hole himself up for days after opening them.  But you know what, he will have a blast, and he will be learning in the process so I'm cool with it.

Not only that, but we've been able to spend quality family time together the last few weekends and it's been great!  We still have Christmas stuff to find, so there's a good chance we will be back out again soon.  Looking forward to it!

Giving Thanks With a Greatful Heart

Today in the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving.  It is a day when we reflect on our lives and thank God for our blessings.  A small sampling of what I am thankful for:

  • My family.  This time last year, we were living with my parents (and brother).  Our lease was up and we didn't want to commit to a new lease just yet so they let us stay at their house (for 6 months) while we figured everything out.
  • Opportunities.  Living with my parents helped my kids get to know their grandparents and their uncle better.  It also allowed us to do some other things we would not have been able to do (like purchase a camper and travel across 16 different states over a 4 month period) all while still having a "home base."
  • Modern conveniences and technology.  The kids and I have been studying (online) about the Plimoth settlers and the Wapanaoag Indians.  The trials and tribulations they went through certainly help explain why they felt a 3 day celebration of thanks was in order.  Technology also helps keep family and friends who are living apart in contact much easier than they did back in 17th century (yeah for blogging, Facebook, Google chat, and FaceTime).
  • Homeschooling successes.  Although I have embarked on a method of homeschooling that some would frown upon (and that sometimes I question whether they are learning anything), I have recently been shown that they are in fact learning.  My daughter is reading!  My son's reading is improving as are his computer skills.  And some of the questions others ask that they can answer... just amazing!
  • My husband.  I have a hard working husband who loves me and believes in me enough to trust me to homeschool our children.
  • Homeschooling opportunities.  We moved to an area that has given us so many homeschool opportunities.  The friends the kids and I have made already, as well as the things we've been able to do have been wonderful.
  • Extended family that happens to live nearby and has invited us to Thanksgiving dinner.
  • The freedom I have to sing:


Monday, November 14, 2011

Fun, Homeschool Style

I recently participated in a homeschool swap (coordinated by The Homeschool Post).  The idea behind the swap is for homeschoolers to connect with other homeschoolers in such a way as to help support them (through prayer and ideas) as well as to send them a small care package that will help them with their homeschooling journey.

My swap partner was Michelle.  She is a homeschool mom of 3 in Arizona.  She happens to have a blog that I am now a religious follower of; she used to be a kindergarten teacher, but then decided to stay at home with her kids.  I have been able to get so many great ideas from her blog (as well as some emails we've exchanged).

When signing up for the swap you are asked a few questions about your homeschooling style, personal style, etc.  In my answers I put that some of our families favorite supplies are construction paper and tape.  Guess what, Michelle sent me construction paper and tape including a nice dispenser that makes it hard for the kids to lose (something they do quite often with disposable tape dispensers).  She also gave me some food goodies (yum!).  See the pic below of what I pulled out of the box. 

One thing you will not see is a gift code she emailed to me so that I could purchase a software package.  It is a digital scrapbooking program. She had mentioned it on her blog and it sounded great to me. I love crafty things and a part of me loves the idea of putting pictures in a scrapbook.  That said, our household doesn't tend to go to print on photos.  Hubby's family had a house fire when he was little and they have a gap in their family photos because of it, so we go digital and store a copy of them off-site.

I figured this software would allow me to arrange the pictures like a scrapbook, while still keeping it digital.  I've decided my first project will be to create a scrapbook of my son's creations.   Here's the beginning (there are lots of pics to sort through so I haven't gotten any further than this).

Thanks Michelle!  You did a great job picking things for me and my family.  I think you've created a monster when it comes to the digital scrapbooking too.  :-)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Conquering Hero

Today, my son participated in a science fair that was held by a local homeschool group.  I admit, I did the typing, and I was certainly involved with the work on the stove, but the idea was his and he gave me the gist of the text that he wanted typed up.

He was the only person in his age group and science category and there were only 3 who participated overall.  Not a very big showing, but that's OK.  Considering he had to give a presentation, the fewer people there the better (in his mind I'm sure).  Considering it was his first science fair and he's only 7 he did really well.  And I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom.  The mom who was hosting it (whose 15 year old son has already won a scholarship to a 4 year college from a previous science fair award) said he did well. 

My goal with this science fair was to get him interested in the idea.  Maybe get his thoughts flowing so that he can start a project for next year that takes a little more research and experimentation.

For all his efforts he got a few crafting supplies (Again, the 15 year old son of the host family won an award at a science fair of essentially a life-time supply of Elmer's products so they decided to share the love with all the kids there).

He also got ice cream.  You see, the host moms parents owns an ice cream shop nearby so the fair was held there, and once the presentations were done we got some ice cream.  (I had a coconut sorbet that was DELICIOUS!  This shop just found a new customer.)

Anyway, I think this was a great experience for my son.   My daughter even wants to do a project next year!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back in Time

Today the kids and I went on a field trip with some fellow homeschoolers.  We had to travel almost 2 hours to get there, but I think it was worth it.  I think the kids would tell you the same. 

This field trip involved traveling back in time to Florida in the 1890's.  We took a tour of a "town" that was comprised of period buildings that have been donated and gathered together from around the state of Florida.  The tour lasted 2.5 hours, yet kept the kids attention pretty much the entire time. 

We learned about how Morris Code and the railroads worked, how the schools worked, as well as how they made cane syrup from sugar canes (among other things).  We even got to make a rope, butter, and a bees wax candle (we got to bring the candle home and the kids are dying to use them).

One of my favorite types of books is historical fiction.  I love reading about how things were done years ago, so to get to do some hands-on stuff like this was fun for me.  I also know my kids really enjoy hands-on learning opportunities so it was fun to watch them enjoying themselves. 

Of course the end of the trip involved a trip to the "General Store" where I let the kids each purchase something.  My daughter picked out a doll and my son picked out a whip.  No surprise to me, he became quite proficient very quickly.  Unfortunately, it's already being repaired by Daddy.

On the way home I was wondering if there is a place we could go that would allow us to live like they did years ago to get a better feel for it... you know with the wood burning stove for cooking and no electricity.  Then I thought better of it.  I kind of like my modern conveniences.  Seeing them for a couple hours was good enough for me.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Excitement is in the Air

It's official... we are gardening.  And we are all pretty excited about it.

So far, we have:
  • planted our seeds (into starter greenhouses), 
  • begun the process of cleaning out the area where the garden will be,
  • measured the garden area for the raised planter that needs to be built,
  • and created a layout for where the different things will be planted.
The next thing on the list besides continuing to clean out the garden area is to plant my herb seeds into a pot and to transplant two pineapple plants into bigger pots.  To give you an idea of how monumental prepping the garden area is, the picture below was taken just after hubby took his weed whacker (with a metal cutting blade on it) to the area. 

The kids have been learning about recycling and composting lately so I'm also thinking we may need to do some composting too. I could really get into this whole gardening thing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow...kind of.

Today, a monumental thing happened.  Today, I sent the final invoice to a customer my husband has had for over 7 years.  This customer allowed me to stay home with my kids.  And this customer, allowed hubby to start working from home.

We knew this was coming.  In fact, 2 years ago we were told they had found a new vendor they were going to use and they would only need our services for another 6 months.  The extra year and a half have been interesting to say the least.  That's part of why the loss of this customer is a bit of a blessing.

At the same time, this is the nail in the coffin for a company my hubby and his brother started together.   It also brings back memories of my son's birth.  You see, hubby went to a meeting with said customer to get their business while I was in labor with our son.

I am thankful for God's provision in our lives and that this customer hung on long enough for us to get another that is continuing to providing for us. God is good!