H and G have recently taken an interest in our digital camera. I suppose it arises from curiosity and their drive for independence. So we've started letting them take a few pictures, and here are some of their shots, H's on the left and G's on the right.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
We've had a few birthdays in the family, so I thought I'd do a quick update. H is now 5 years old and is growing up so fast! She is a wonderful helper to Mommy and is acquiring quite the sense of humor! She reads pretty well and can figure out almost any word. We can't believe she will be in kindergarten! It's hard for us to let go sometimes, so it's good that she asks to do things herself, often pushing our boundaries of comfort while showing us she can do more than we think. One of her favorite activities is drawing. Her newest pursuits are swimming lessons and learning to play the piano.
G hasn't had a birthday, but she is 3 1/2 years old and is a wonderful helper who loves to play with her sisters. Mommy says she will either be a lawyer or a saleswoman because she is constantly talking and negotiating. She has a fabulous imagination and loves to make up stories in her fantasy world. One of her favorite activities is dressing up in pretty dresses and making up storylines about princesses or ballerinas. One day she was talking her herself and her dolls in the corner for probably 15 minutes and I tried to sneak this picture...of course she noticed me.
M is 2 years old and loves being a big sister! From the very beginning, she has been very gentle and loving with baby F. She adores her big sisters as well and plays with them constantly. She loves to color and is working on talking more. Though she doesn't say a lot of words yet, she is full of personality!
F is 2 months old already! She isn't on a schedule yet and refuses to take a pacifier, but she is very social and is usually all smiles, so that helps! I even caught a picture of her smiling at her sister. So sweet. She has followed in all her sisters' footsteps in the spitting up department, but we've been well prepared with Grammie's extra large bibs. We love having her in the family.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Take the Cheerios Challenge and get a free box of Cheerios and $6 worth of coupons by signing up at CheeriosChallenge.com. I don't know if it is a small box or a big box, so I'm not getting my hopes up too high, but we love Cheerios at our house, so any size plus some coupons are fine with us!
Here are some more cereal freebies:
And I know you need to do some laundry, so get a free sample of Tide Total Care here.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Get a free copy of the ebook "Getting it All Done" by Marilyn Boyer, homeschooling mother of 14 children. Go here and add the $4.95 ebook to your cart. Proceed to checkout after creating an account, and use coupon code HST when you checkout and you'll get it for free! It asks for a credit card, but I didn't enter one because my balance was 0.00 and it worked fine. Then download it to your computer. It's a fast read, less than 45 pages, and she shares different "mom tips" that you might find helpful.
From the back cover: Have you ever felt overwhelmed with the demands of parenting? Life is certainly a challenge for parents, and especially those who accept the added responsibility of home education. But there are ways to make life easier and more productive, and this ebook discusses some of those. Marilyn Boyer, mother of 14 children and a veteran home educator of 22 years' experience, shares her techniques for accomplishing a mammoth amount of housework while giving her children a superior education at the same time.
Friday, July 25, 2008
I've been working on saying "no" this year. My husband and my discipleship group have really been encouraging me to grow in this area! It's a struggle for me because I genuinely want to help and enjoy what I commit to, and when I make a committment, I feel very strongly about sticking to it. Therefore, by the end of the year I can sometimes feel burned out and frustrated, and I know that isn't what God wants for me. And if it leads to an unhappy me, then what follows is an unhappy family because inevitably they are the ones who get the short end of the stick. Again, this is not what God wants for me or them, since I need to be there for my husband and kids. This year I will be kicking it up a notch with homeschooling H in kindergarten and G in preschool, plus I need to work more with M on her speech and I have a newborn. So as hard as it is for me to turn down great opportunities to serve or fun things to be involved in, I'm trying to cut back a little this year. I am not supermom and don't need to be!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
What chores can little kids do? This is a question every mom has at some point. What can I have my young child do beyond putting away their toys? I'll share some of the jobs we have our kids do, and I hope that you leave some comments about some chores you have your kids do. I love it when we can share ideas and learn from each other!
We have our kids help with sorting the clean silverware from the dishwasher into the drawer--just remove the knives first! They also help sort and put away their laundry. Sometimes they ask to dust so I give them feather dusters and set them loose! I've given them wipes to "wash" the floor with. They help to set and clear the table before and after meals as well. They also love to help unload the groceries, and now I have a hard time keeping up with them since I have so many helpers!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I was reading a friend's blog about the "other" side of parenting...the not so glamorous side that includes discipline and dirty diapers and the like. She mentioned the mom in the store with a tantruming toddler and said that next time she sees a mom in this situation, instead of shooting her a dirty look she would instead encourage the mom to stick with it. I thought this was a great idea! I mean, I don't usually give dirty looks (at least I don't think I do!), but taking another step out of my comfort zone to actually SAY something to encourage them could potentially be a bright spot in a mom's otherwise "terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day"! Next time I witness a tantrum (or experience one!), I will give a sympathetic smile and say, "this too shall pass". We've all been there, and if you haven't you most likely will be! Just a simple "this too shall pass" and a smile could do wonders for that mom. Us moms need to stick together! We all need reminders on bad days that the bad day will end...at some point...even if it's not until midnight.
Monday, July 21, 2008
I had done an earlier post on stretching our dollar by using coupons and shopping more wisely. I've always thought of myself as fairly frugal, but recently have been learning that there is another level I didn't consider, "extreme frugality"! I've been reading about it here, (as well as her later posts on the topic) and it got me to thinking. While my family isn't ready to go "extreme" (Ted says he'd like to keep his shampoo and toilet paper, thank you!), it made me think about what things we are doing now to cut back, and what would be some other things we would give up if we had to cut back for one reason or another. Here are some things we do:
- Reuse paper and plastic grocery bags--paper for the recycling and plastic for diapers and trash cans
- Reuse wipes containers--to store plastic bags in (because they can become unruly!), store toys or other odds and ends
- Don't use quite as much laundry detergent
- Wash most clothes in cold water
- Cut dryer sheets in half, or don't use them at all
- Use washcloths to wipe faces after meals, instead of paper towels or napkins
- Use coupons and stock up when there's a sale
- Go meatless a couple days a week--spaghetti, lasagna or other pasta dishes (w/o meat)
- Order only water to drink at restaurants, and eat dessert at home
- Use a programmable thermostat
- Limit our eating out
- Bare minimum cell phone plan ($10 month)
- Try to plan car trips/errands
- No cable TV
- We don't rent movies--get them free from the library
- I don't wear makeup
- I do the kid's haircuts (but not ours)
- Rummage sales and second hand stores, then hand clothes down! (they get a lot of use in our family!)
- Ted takes leftovers for lunch instead of eating in the cafeteria or going out
- Ted's pretty much given up Starbucks, instead making his coffee at home (except on road trips!)
- Drink more water at home and less milk, juice and soda (tap water, not bottled)
(Just a side note, I guess I've been living here long enough that I've been calling it "soda" now and not "pop" like I did growing up!) Those are some things we do, what are some things your family does to cut back? I'd love it if you'd leave a quick comment!
Also, what is something you could cut back if you had to? Ted suggested going back to dial-up, but I said "high-speed has changed my life!" (I'm sorta kidding...!) We could trim our eating out budget more, buy less of the "treats" and comfort foods, one friend suggested that we could get a prepaid cell phone for cheaper than our current plan. We could reevaluate our insurance plans or mortgage rates to see if we could save some money there. We've also talked about getting a toaster oven to use for cooking meals in order to use less energy and not heat up the whole house...I still have to look into this. Those are just a few ideas. What are your ideas? Please leave a comment, as it may help someone else think of an area where they can save some money!
I did a search on "frugal" and came across this book....I wonder what suggestions it might have?
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
It can be pretty unnerving to think about how to teach your child to read. There are lots of different methods, programs, and books out there to assist you, which is great, but it can also be overwhelming as you try to figure out which is right for your child. Each child is unique and may learn best with different methods, but I wanted to share with you what has worked for us.
I started with the book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" by Siegfried Engelmann. This paperback book is laid out kind of like a workbook, but what is nice about it is it tells the parent what to say to the child in red type. So you don't even have to think about how to present the material to your child, just read the book along with them. It starts by introducing a few sounds and making games with them. It adds more sounds in each lesson, while reviewing the other sounds, then starts putting them together into short words, so the child is reading short words very quickly, by lessons 3 and 4. By lesson 13, the child reads a short sentence that goes with a picture to teach reading comprehension. It also has a writing component to it, that the child write the sounds (letters) they are learning, but my kids have been ready to learn to read before they have the fine motor control to write, so we just skip that part.
After about 60 lessons, H was reading 3 paragraph stories in the book, and she started to get bored with the "workbook" and asked for "real books". So I began my search for true, phonetic easy readers. To my surprise, easy readers are not all easy! I finally found some that were in my opinion, perfect companions to the 100 Easy Lessons book. Bob Books were written by Bobby Lynn Maslen, a kindergarten teacher who also struggled to find easy books for her students to read. The books start out simple and add more sounds and words in each successive book. They have simple pictures and are short enough for a young child to finish in one sitting, so they can feel successful without getting frustrated. After reading one book, our kids have been ecstatic, exclaiming, "I read the whole book all by myself!" and asking to read another one. There are five sets of books.
The best part? All these resources could be available for you to use for free through your library. My library system (not my particular library, but I can reserve things online from other libraries and have them shipped to my library--awesome!) carries all these books. Another free resource that you could use to supplement these is Starfall. This has online games for children, starting with the ABCs (it teaches sign language, too!) and progressing by putting sounds together into words. My kids like the cute songs on this site, and it is easy for them to navigate on their own.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I love freebies! I sign up for lots of free samples, mostly through Free Grabber. Here is what I
received in the mail just this week:
Desitin sample (good for the diaper bag)
Huggies Cleanteam samples
Huggies Pull-Ups sample
Dapple sample (baby bottle/dish liquid)
Playtex Drop-Ins Bottle
Kotex Gift Pack (2 tampons, pad and liner)
Old Spice Red Zone Body Wash
Dove go fresh Deodorant (perfect for traveling)
2 boxes Teddy Grahams Trail Mix (through BzzAgent)--kids were thrilled!
$10 gift card to Pizza Hut (through MyPoints)--our favorite pizza
Metamucil Berry Burst sample (fiber is good--and now it tastes good too!)
I love going to the mailbox because almost every day seems like my birthday with a little gift waiting for me! :-) Let me know if you are interested in signing up for BzzAgent or MyPoints and I will send you a referral email!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I recently learned about CVS from someone at church, and all I can say is WOW! The store isn't on our way anywhere (though it's only about 4 miles away), so I always threw away the ads without really looking at them. Then I started seeing blog posts about CVS and how much people loved them and how much stuff they'd come home with at huge discounts. I decided to try it out this week and see how it worked for me, and whether I'd go back again. Here is what I bought this week, through 6 transactions in 3 separate trips:
1 nail polish
2 bags of candy
2 packages tampons
2 packages panty liners
3 small lotions
3 Kodak photobooks
4 Colgate toothpastes
4 foaming hand soaps
4 Edy's ice cream (a weakness, I'll admit!)
16 Skippy peanut butters (we won't keep them all)
How much did I pay for this bounty? My total OOP (out of pocket--blog lingo) for all transactions was....(drumroll please!) $13.65! To me, that is CRAZY! I didn't know what the big deal was until I tried it. Now I may be hooked! How did I do that, you ask? The secret is combining store and manufacturer coupons, sales, and ECB's (rewards that print from the register for buying certain items). Check out Deal Seeking Mom if you want more details, since she gives you the heads-up on the best deals to combine with coupons available to make navigating it a little easier.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I had previously posted a list of Birthday Freebies here that was compiled by a friend, and I wanted to add Noodles & Co. When you sign up in the store, they will email you a welcome coupon for BOGO free entree, and you'll also get a completely free entree for your birthday, no purchase necessary! I happened to sign us up a couple weeks before my birthday and got both coupons at the same time, so we were able to feed our whole family there (3 entrees) for about $6!
I also found a list of Birthday Freebies at Freebies 4 Mom and there are some new ones to add to my list:
Birthday Freebies 4 Mom & Family:
Ace Rewards $5 off $20 coupon
Applebee's - free dessert (no sign-up)
Bd's Mongolian Grill free food
Black Angus Prime Club free dinner w/purchase
Border Rewards free dessert and 15% coupon
Buca di Beppo eClub - free dessert
Buffalo Wild Wings - free dessert
Dave and Busters - $10 game play
DSW Rewards $10 off $10 when you join, plus another coupon for your birthday
Friendly's Birthday Club free ice cream or kids meal w/ purchase
Joe's Crabshack - free appetizer w/purchase
Outback Steakhouse - free dessert on your birthday (no sign-up)
Ruby Tuesday - free dessert
Texas Land & Cattle - free food w/purchase
The Children's Place - coupon for 20% off
The Melting Pot's Club Fondue - free dessert w/purchase for birthday and anniversary
The Coconut ScrapShop gift certificate
Timber Lodge Steakhouse free food
T.G.I.Friday's - coupon
TODAI free meal on your birthday (show your driver's license, no sign-up)
Birthday Freebies 4 "Kids Only":
Bob Evans Kid Times Birthday Club - free food (12 & younger)
Burger King - free kids meal
California Pizza Kitchen - free meal (10 & younger)
Chuck E. Cheese's - free tokens (12 & younger)
Denny's ��� free meal (10 & younger)
Geoffrey's Birthday Club free toy with $3 or $5 coupon (ages 2 to 10)
HEBuddy Birthday Club free points and coupons (Texas only)
IKEA Kids Club free stuff (in-store sign-up)
Macaroni Grill - free dessert w/purchase
Marble Slab Kid's Club - free ice cream (12 & younger)
Michael's The Knack Kids Club - coupons from 20 to 50% all year long (12 & younger)
Shoney's Kids Club - free meal (10 & younger)
Sonic Wacky Pack Birthday Club free meal (13 & younger)
Zaxby's Kidz Club - free meal (10 & younger)
While I was composing this list, I came across an even BIGGER list posted on another blog here! There are SO many on this list, you'll have to go check it out yourself. It's a great resource, with information about how to sign up for each offer as well. Enjoy free food on your birthday!
*Disclaimer: Just because I link to a blog doesn't mean I endorse everything on it--I haven't had time to thoroughly check it out, so just keep that in mind!
Monday, July 14, 2008
I've had people ask me about what I've done in homeschooling my preschoolers.
I have used Five in a Row some and enjoyed that because it uses classic, award-winning books. I just spent 1/2 hour a week (or so) reading the book for the next week and going through the activity choices, then writing down what I'd like to try and do over the week. Some things are really short and easy to talk about while reading the story, so I can accomplish several things off my list in a day if I need to. And if I don't finish my list--no biggee! The girls really liked it. We spent 2 weeks on Madeline because I was able to find so much at the library to go with it (videos, puppet, game, etc. and we have a felt board) and there were so many good activities for H's age. Our library system is great--I've been able to get most of the books at the library. And of course I bought my FIAR curriculum on ebay! There is also Before Five in a Row for ages 2-4 and Beyond Five in a Row for early elementary.
Before we did FIAR, we spent a year doing one letter a week, kind of like a mini-unit study approach, preschool style, with fun art projects. The kids LOVED it! Start with "A" and pick up some books from the library to focus on (alligator, ant, and apples, for example). Then make a craft for those 3 ideas. Here are some websites to check out if you want to start with a letter a week: http://www.alphabet-soup.net/alphabite.html
I have lots of pictures of crafts we've done already in my computer that I could easily email you if you are interested and need some ideas.
I've also just picked up random workbooks for them (my kids like workbooks) and printed off worksheets that I found online. I can email you links for some of those, too, if you are interested.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
With the birth of our 4th child, I feel like we've entered into a new "group" in society, those with large families. It's kind of weird...it feels almost like people look at us as though we have 3 heads or something when they find out how many kids we have. I'm from a family with 4 children, so I don't consider it to be huge, especially considering we know families with 10-12 children.
While I was still pregnant, people started asking me if we were done or if we'd have more. I felt like saying, "can I have this one first?!" And right after F was born, the question continued. I even had one friend tell me that people were asking HER if we were having more kids!
We haven't specifically talked about it since F was born, but we never really had a set number of kids in mind. When we got married we decided to let God plan our family size. We just said we would take them one at a time (assuming we didn't have twins, that is!) and decide from there. So far we haven't felt a strong need to be "done". We've said, would we be sad if we didn't have more? We decided we would be plenty content with our beautiful girls, but if God decided to give us more, so be it! He knows what we can handle and what our family should look like. My argument would be, later in life you may regret not having more children, but would you ever regret having one more? I look at each one of my kids and, although things are tough at times having them so close together, I certainly wouldn't give one of them back! And though sometimes it feels like I don't have enough time, I certainly have enough love. I just have to rearrange my priorities (and having the cleanest house or nicest clothes isn't high on the list). Yes, sometimes my patience wears thin or I wish I spent more time with them individually, but I remind myself that siblings are a great gift as well. Also, my husband is wonderful and I couldn't do it without him!
And before you all start asking, I'm not pregnant right now and not planning to become pregnant just yet. We still have to talk and pray about it, and now that F has arrived we can start evaluating whether or not we are "done". You'll just have to wait and see! :-)
Saturday, July 12, 2008
So who's who? One is M and one is F, but can you tell which is which? Can I? Right now I can since I'm the one who took the pictures. :-) But will I be able to tell them apart 15 years from now? Gonna have to be careful to label those pictures! (Click on each picture to see the label for your answer).
Friday, July 11, 2008
Are you sometimes stymied by your child's behavior? Are they predictable, adaptable, sensitive, intense, or easily frustrated? Is this behavior normal? The Preventive Ounce has a short questionnaire for you to fill out that will help you to see your child's temperament more clearly. It gives you a profile of your child's temperament and shows you common behaviors that occur in children with a similar temperament. Click on one of those behaviors, like "punishment won't work" or "constantly asks 'why'", and it will explain why children with that temperament have that issue and will give you strategies for how to deal with it. It even mentions how parents with a certain temperament will likely react to this issue and gives you advice. I did the questionnaire for my oldest 3, and if you save your child's profile number, you can go back to the site and look at the results again (or email them to your husband, like I did!). I also wonder if Ted would get similar answers if he took the quiz about each of the girls, so it would be cool to compare our charts to see if we perceive their behaviors and temperaments differently. If you have 5 minutes, check it out! Thanks to Rachel for passing this along!
Monday, July 7, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
You know all those forwards you get from people saying "sign this petition and forward" or "did you know this about a political official", "Amber Alert", "Virus Alert" or "forward this to 25 people and you'll get a gift card to Applebee's"? There is a way to check out that email so that you can send out "just the facts, ma'am"! My favorite website is www.snopes.com, an urban legend reference page. On the home page there is a search box. Type in one or two identifying words and more than likely your email will come up so that you can see if it is true or false. Another site you can check is www.truthorfiction.com.
I got an email with some advice about email protocol and courtesy that I thought had some good tips:
- When you forward an email, delete all the other addresses that appear in the body of the message, just get to the point
- Remove any "FW:" in the subject field
- Don't bother signing an email petition
- Before you forward any "Amber Alert" or "Virus Alert" check the above websites to see if they are legit
- Whenever you send an email to a group of people, use the Bcc: field and enter your own email address in the To: field
|Posted by Jessica at 3:22 PM|
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Our church's children's department kicked off their annual food drive for the Salvation Army last Sunday. H has really gotten into it both this year and last year, taking our wagon and going up and down our street asking our neighbors for food for the Salvation Army. It's a good project for preschoolers, and something the girls are really taking pride in, collecting food for people who don't have enough, and we want to encourage their spirit of missions. However, it is kind of uncomfortable for us as adults going door to door asking for food, even though it is for a good cause, and it caused Ted and I to talk about how we are doing with loving our neighbors. God commands us to love our neighbors (it isn't optional!), but what does that look like? We try to be friendly to our neighbors, waving across the street, making small talk about the weather, helping to shovel once in awhile, etc. We deliver cookies at Christmas and jellybeans at Easter, but what else could we be doing to cultivate relationships with them? We don't live in a neighborhood full of little kids or young families, which is more my comfort zone. I know how to reach out to parents of young children because we have something in common. But parents of teenagers, empty nesters, and retirees are out of my comfort zone. I want to love my neighbors, but I find it hard to love them when I barely know them. Any practical ideas that have worked for you in building relationships with your neighbors? Please leave comments!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Theology can be a difficult topic for adults to understand, so is it possible for very young children to "get it"? I am a firm believer that very young children CAN understand matters of faith, much more than we give them credit for. You've heard the expression "child-like faith", and it's true. The gospel is very easy to understand, faith in Jesus is not difficult, except that we make it so! I wanted to share a few of the things we've been doing with our children, to help them understand such "lofty concepts".
Our church uses a very simple tool to teach children the gospel. It's called the "Wordless Book" and uses colors so that even 2 and 3 year olds can remember it! It goes like this:
Gold is for Heaven, a real, perfect place where there is no sin. John 14:2 "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you."
Black is for sin, which isn't allowed in heaven, and we all sin. Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Red is for the blood of Jesus, which he shed to make a way to heaven for us. Hebrew 9:22 "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."
White is for being made as clean as snow. Jesus' blood washes away our sins. Psalm 51:7b "Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."
Green is for growing as a Christian, through praying, reading the Bible, going to church, sharing our faith, etc. 2 Peter 3:18 "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
That last verse talks about grace, which can be a difficult concept to explain. God gave my husband a very practical way of teaching the concept of grace to our children. It's called the "grace bite". If our kids finish their dinner, then they have earned dessert. If they don't finish their dinner, they often ask for a "grace bite" of dessert. Grace is getting something we don't deserve, like getting some dessert without finishing dinner. Mercy is the other side of the coin. Mercy is NOT getting something that we DO deserve. In a child's terms, we can show them mercy by deciding not to give them a consequence that they deserve for misbehavior, a perfect time to illustrate the mercy that God shows us by not punishing us for our sins, IF we accept the gift of Jesus' blood to cover our sins. We can tell a child that we will show them mercy (by not giving them a spanking, for example), but they could refuse that mercy and choose to take their punishment. Though most children would never refuse that mercy, that is exactly what we are doing if we don't accept Jesus' mercy towards us.
We've also taught our children the "ACTS" prayer. ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication, and can be a easy way to remember to include all aspects into your prayers, not just the usual "thank you for this and please give me that", which we all fall into from time to time (me included). Children don't know what those big words mean (hey, even most adults don't!), so Ted explained what they stand for by making a fill-in-the-blank prayer. Our kids call it the ACTS prayer, and even if they don't know what the letters stand for, they know each of the four concepts and can do the prayer themselves. Here are the beginnings of each sentence:
A: "God, you are so..." (powerful, loving, etc.)
C: "I'm sorry I..." (hit my sister, disobeyed, etc.)
T: "Thank you for..." (butterflies, the food you give us, my family, etc.)
S: "Please..." (give me good dreams, help my friend feel better, etc.)
If you have any questions about any of these concepts, or if you have ideas of how you've shared things with your kids, please email me, either in the comments or privately. I'd be happy to talk to you about these things, and my kids would be too! :-)