Monday, January 30, 2012

My Little Edison

Today the kids and I went to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates and Museum.  We were able to tour around both of their houses as well as Edison's laboratory.  We also got to make a rubber ball and a Bernoulli ball.  Needless to say my son was on top of things when asked how a light bulb works, but my kids were less than thrilled to walk around the grounds and see the view (which I LOVED).

I have recently been reading a book titled Dreamers, Discoverers, & Dynamos: How to Help the Child Who is Bright, Bored, and Having Problems in School.  Essentially it states that some children are wired differently and therefore think and learn differently than what is considered normal.    Some are very imaginative (dreamers), some are inventors (discoverers), and some are just always on the go (dynamos).  I got the book because I figured my son was a discoverer (and he is) and wanted to see if I could get some ideas on how to better help him learn.  In the process of reading the book, I've also realized that my daughter is a bit of a dynamo and a dreamer mixed into one.  My husband fits the discoverer category as well, so I guess it's genetic.

The book also calls these children "Edison trait children."  That's because they are very smart and can even get themselves in trouble (as Edison did MANY times).

One of the things I found interesting about Edison is that after Edison got in trouble in school (at a rather young age), his mother decided to teach him at home (she was a school teacher so it was an easy choice for her to make).  She allowed her son the freedom to learn the way he needed to.  I wish I could say I would let my son have his own laboratory (with chemicals) at the age of 8, but that's just not happening.

As someone who said I would never homeschool my children (I love God's sense of humor), I recently decided, that public or private schools are not going to be in my sons near future.  After reading what I have about Edison and about "Edison trait children," the best thing I can do for my son right now is to keep him home so that he can learn in his own way.  Who knows... maybe my son will one day be considered an inventor like Edison.

Oh...and in preparation for our trip today we got some books from the library on Edison.  Guess what?  My son shares a birthday with Thomas Edison.  Interesting coincidence don't you think?  My son thinks so because when I mentioned it to him he said, "Maybe that's God's way of letting me know I need to invent things like Edison."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Grocery Shopping Success and Defeat

The last couple months I have been trying very hard to watch our grocery budget.  The way I see it, there are 2 very obvious ways to save money when shopping.  1.  Buy what's on sale or 2. Use coupons.  If you can do both at the same time, even better!

What's worked for me best is buying in bulk the meats when they are a really good price (ground beef, chicken, pork, etc).  I then prep and freeze in the size that we tend to use them in.

Then I look at the sales fliers for the grocery stores in town and determine based on what meats I have in the freezer what meals I should make (For example:  If I have 5 packages of ground beef and I see that spaghetti sauce is on sale, you can bet we will be having that for dinner.  If I also know that I have a 5 pack of romaine lettuce that I don't want going bad, I will make salad as a side with said spaghetti dinner rather than buying say corn).  I then scour my coupons and the web for any coupons for the items that happen to be on sale.

I then go shopping once a week for produce and other items such as milk that I don't or can't stock up on without it going bad.  Of course I try to get fruits and veggies that are on sale (no buying a $5 pineapple for me - although we LOVE pineapple).

I've also recently found that looking through the local drugstore adds can be beneficial.  For example, the other day I went to the CVS and got 2 bags of tortilla chips for $5, but I got to use a $1 off coupon I'd gotten my previous visit (and it printed another $1 off coupon for next time). On the same trip, I also got 4 packs of soda cans for $10 (if I had my way we wouldn't buy soda, but it helps hubby stay awake to get work done at strange hours).

I went to the Walgreens and got a 4lb bag of sugar for $.99 (I used their coupon in the sales flier plus a manufacturers coupon).

I realize that store hopping may not be worth it to some, and I will be honest... till recently it wasn't to me either.  I didn't want to drag my kids around everywhere and hear the whining as we hit the 3rd or even 4th store that day.  I live closer to things now and I've learned to break up the trips across multiple days (and sometimes I even go after they are in bed).  My kids are a bit older now too so that helps.

I have recently encountered a problem though.  One of my biggest sources for coupons is printing them online.  For some reason, my computer / printer will randomly decide not to print them.  This is particularly bad because the manufacturers limit how many you can print of any given coupon.  I've hit my limits trying to print just 1 coupon (the limits are usually at least 2 sometimes up to 4 or 5).  Today I even decided to print a coupon I didn't want first to see if it worked at all.  It printed just fine, so I then went back and tried to print the ones I really wanted and guess what.... it didn't print them (and of course I've now reached my printing limit - not that I've printed ONE)!  Ugghh!

Good news... I've still been able to stay on budget even without the coupons I tried to print.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Family Memories

I recently spent H.O.U.R.S. going through pictures we took last year in order to make a photo book for family (parents and grandparents).  It was a very time consumptive process.  I'm not sure how many pictures I went through, but my final sort meant I had to pick between 221 pictures (some of which I wasn't able to use).  Some of the choices were hard, but overall I had a good time.

After all, it allowed me to relieve all that we've done this last year.  I'd forgotten that we'd gone to the National Zoo one last time before leaving Virginia.  I'd forgotten that my brother did a science experiment with the kids and that reminded me that he also took them "on a date" to a movie.

I'm kind of hoping that this year is going to be a bit more calm and relaxed (after all, we shouldn't be traveling in a camper for 3 months straight).  I must admit though, that 2011 will be a year to remember.  We:

  •  Went on a cruise as a family, 
  •  Took the kids to Disney for the first time, 
  •  Lived in a camper for 3 month which allowed us to travel all around Florida including 5 zoos, 2 science museum, and 6 different beaches,
  •  Helped friends move from Ohio to Qatar,
  •  Became an Aunt / Uncle / First Cousin for the first time,
  •   Reconnected with friends and family we haven't seen in years, 
  •  Moved from Virginia to Florida, and
  • Made some new friends for life.
Now that the paper photo book is done, I'm going to work on learning how to do digital scrap booking.  That way I can include videos too!

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Outlet for an Obsession with Animals

My daughter loves animals.  I mean L.O.V.E.S. animals.  If we would allow her, we would have a small (large) farm full of animals.  When she was recently asked what she wants to do when she grows up she said, "Take care of ocean animals in the morning and take care of other animals around lunch."

She has never been interested in dolls.  She is however obsessed with stuffed animals; and we must have 2 of each animal (a mother and it's baby of course).  When my husband came home from town the other day he told me he saw a place called "Dr. Karen's Pet Hospital" and he thought that one day we will probably see our daughter's name on a sign like that. 

My daughter and I were recently introduced to something called lapbooks at the Lego class she's been taking.  Since then, she has been begging me to help her make lapbooks about different animals.  I've been reluctant to do so because I just didn't feel like I knew enough about how to do it.  I finally decided to take the plunge, but not till after making a trip to the library to get books about the animal specified.  

In the last week we have done a lapbook on manatees.

And a lapbook on parrots.

We've even left room to add more information and pictures we've taken at zoos.

Next on the list.... rodents.

Now to get to the store to find a way to store all of these beautiful creations.  Who knows... she may need some of the information we've gathered when she's in veterinary school in a few years  :-)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Makings of a REAL Man

I have found that the role of parenting changes as children get older.  The first step is protector and care giver (especially when they are very small).  This stage never really goes away, but it does get overshadowed by other roles.

One of the next steps is self-sufficiency.  We teach our children how to get dressed, brush their teeth, and feed themselves.  Yesterday, my son (a month away from 8 years old) took that step a little further.  Yesterday, he made corn muffins by himself (ok, so I put the pan in the oven and took it out, but he did everything else).

He got out the ingredients.  He mixed everything together.

He turned on the oven,  put the batter in the pan, and set the timer.

He even checked the muffins when it went off and helped decide they needed to cook a little longer.  And while they were cooking, he even cleaned up his mess.

And of course, he got to enjoy the fruits of his labors... MMMM.... success!

I realize the typical role of a male is not in the kitchen, but that doesn't mean that he shouldn't be prepared to take care of himself (or his future wife) if necessary.  Hopefully this is the first step.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

On a Roll

Some of you may already know this, but years ago (before I met him), my husband was given the nickname MacGyver.  He was given this nickname because he carried a Swiss Army knife (a knock off technically) and was known to use duct tape to fix just about anything (this was in jr high mind you).

His ability to make or fix just about anything was one of the things that attracted me.  Today he showed more of that skill and prowess.  My son got a splinter in his toe and I could not get it out with tweezers.  Jon was called in to help and he tried his usual method (which involves using a pocket knife and your finger nail).  Unfortunately, the splinter was too short and he couldn't get it either.

The next thought was to use the stickiest tape we had.... duct tape of course!  On his way out to get some, he had another idea.  What about those pore strips that women use because they are stickier and would probably work better.  It just so happened that I had one, so we cut off a corner and attached it to the toe in question.   About 15 minutes later, the splinter was out enough (thanks to the pore strip) and I was able to get it out with a razor blade and my finger nail.

Today, Jon also gleefully came inside and said, "Karrie, Jason follow me to see something cool!"  Never ones to turn down the opportunity to see something cool, we followed.  The next thing I saw was VERY COOL!  He had written an app for the iPhone that does something really cool (not sharing details cause as far as we can tell there isn't another app like it, and it's something he might be able to sell after adding a few more features).  He was so excited he was shaking.  I don't think I've ever seen him so excited since he made his robot Bob (Bob Working).

Today was a great day!  It warms my heart to see him enjoying what he's doing and to be so happy.  I can only hope I get to see more days like today very soon.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Homeschooling in Strange Locations

One of the main reasons we decided to start homeschooling was because of the flexibility it allows.  We were thinking we were going to be moving to Australia and while we were waiting, we were planning on traveling all over the United States.  Australia hasn't happened (a full year later) and we're not sure it ever will, but we have been able to take advantage of the flexibility homeschooling offers.

Some "strange" places we've homeschooled:
  • in the car / truck
    • as we were driving across the country towing our camper from state to state (can you say captive audience)
    • going to and from just about anywhere we go (church, bank, store, etc)
  • in the camper
  • at the grocery store (what better way to teach about money)
  • on field trips (zoos, Kennedy Space Center, farms, etc)
And today we got to add the laundromat.  I've had to wash a comforter for a while, and my in-laws coming to visit in a couple days was all the incentive I needed.  The washer and dryer at our house is too small, so the laundromat was my only option.  I've witnessed a fight at the local mall and Wal-mart, so what happens at the laundromat after dark... I don't want to know, so the kids had to go with me (Side note: Going during the day isn't all peaches and cream either. We got to watch a domestic screaming match).  Anyway...

Before leaving the house I made sure to grab a few things for the kids to do (all educational in nature).  We read a book on dinosaurs and a book on big cats.  The biggest hit was a game my daughter received for Christmas.  It's called "Pop for Numbers" (I highly recommend for people with preschoolers and children struggling with number recognition).  It's designed to help with number recognition (which my daughter needs) but I was able to adjust it a bit to have it help teach my son as well (we used it to work on number places).  I think he's mastered the 1000's and is on his way to mastering 10,000's.  At the end of the game, each player is left with a stack of pieces that we then counted (something else my daughter needs work on and that can't hurt to review for my son).

I was actually dreading this trip, but now I'm wondering if I can surreptitiously schedule another trip.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Renewed Energy

Knitting, knitting, kitting.  It seems like since April all I've been doing is knitting. I've knit while watching TV, while playing games with my kids, and even while riding in the car (this is actually scary because what happens to those needles if you crash?!?).

I've knit things for two baby showers and various family members.  Since April I've knit: 1 baby blanket, 4 baby hats, 3 baby mitten sets, 3 baby sock sets, and 5 pairs of socks for kids / adults.

Some of these projects I had to do multiple times; one pair of socks were too short, the cuffs on one pair of socks were too small, and the first hat I made for my nephew probably still doesn't fit because it was so big.  All part of the learning process, since I only started knitting a year and a half ago.

I finished all these projects a few days ago.  I was looking forward to taking a break for a while and then I remembered my intention to make hats for preemies.  I did a little research on that today and found a hospital in the area that even advertises knitting as a volunteer opportunity on their website!  I've left a message and am now looking forward to hearing back from them.  I've been working on this blog post for a while now, and it's original title was going to be "Glad That's Finally Over."  Having a possible focus again is so exhilarating! Bring it on!

For those of you family and close friends who are interested in receiving knit socks, a hat, or a scarf next Christmas, place your request now so I have an idea of what I have to do (and so I can figure out how much I can commit to at the hospital).

If there are any of you out there who are interested in purchasing something for your friends or family I might be open to that as well (after all who doesn't like to make money doing something they enjoy doing in their spare time).