Our Family

Our Family

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Finding Time for Yourself

This may come as a shock to some people, but in our whole married life with 6 children, Art and I have never hired a babysitter. That's not to say that we never leave the house without our children, but it is very rare. We do on occasion take advantage of my parent's offers to watch the children when they are visiting for the week-end and go out to dinner. Usually we have a nursing baby tag along with us. We did get a week-end get away 2 summers ago and to attend Art's Christmas Party for work. Every family is different and what works for us might not work for others. I just wanted to share some of the ways we find time for ourselves.

As a happy homeschooling mom, my children are with me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, most of the time. I love having them with me and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Raising a big family can be a tiring at times. During the day we have "quiet time" or you might call it "productive free time." Every afternoon for 2 hours the children have to find something quiet and productive to do while the littlest ones nap. This is mommies quiet time too. For one hour I do not clean or do any teaching. Usually I try to read (a grown-up book or magazine) or use the computer. This time is a great way for me to recharge every day.

Everyday on his lunch Art calls me to see how my day is going. He has done this as long as we have been married. During our brief 10-15 minute conversation, I can catch him up on our day and find out how his is going. Sometimes the time differs if he is really busy or has a meeting, but I look forward to these calls everyday.

We are big believers in early bedtimes for our children. Children need their sleep, and we need some quiet time in the evenings to ourselves. I put the little boys to bed at 7 and the bigger boys at 8. Lily usually goes to sleep between 7 and 8, and Chelsea has to go to her room at 8 every night and read until her 9:30 bedtime.

Friday nights we do pizza and a movie for the children and then watch a movie ourselves. This Friday night routine makes a great "date" night for us and a really inexpensive date.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Arkansas Homeschool Conventions

The homeschooling movement is growing across the nation. For many different reasons, more and more people are deciding that homeschooling is the best option for their family. A great way for new and veteran homeschoolers to see vendor's products, meet other homeschoolers,and attend workshops is to go to a homeschool convention. In Arkansas there are two to choose from this year. One is in Searcy , Arkansas on May 14-15 and one in Springdale on May 20-22. Both of these conventions this year are offering several workshops, several vendors, a used book sale and Senior Graduation Ceremonies. Admission is $20 per family. Early bird admission (before May 1st) is $15 per family. Discounted admission is being offered for volunteers. This year there are some new additions to the conventions.

1. The Springdale convention exhibit hall will open on Thursday evening May 2oth from 5-9 for people to go in and look and shop with no charge.
2. All workshops and general sessions will be recorded at both conventions and will be available for purchase on CD or mp3 formats at the conventions.
3. The Heritage Inn in Searcy is offering a 10 percent discount to homeschoolers who reserve a room the weekend of the convention.
4. The children's art workshop at the Searcy convention is offering a free e-book related to their art topic to everyone who pre-registers for their workshop.

For more information about homeschooling in Arkansas or about either convention go to the Arkansas Education Alliance website www.arkansashomeschool.org

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Some Days Just Don"t Go As Planned......

Today was going to be a great fun day. I had everything all worked out. Chelsea was off to be a "mommy's helper" to a good frien with 4 children whose husband has been working in Colorado for several months while she holds down the fort here. So the plan was to drive into town, drop her off, pick up another friends 3 children to keep for the day (she just had baby number 4 so I thought I could help out by having her kids come over to play), bring them back here to play until it was time to take them back home and pick Chelsea back up this afternoon. I also had planned to pick up Chelsea's birthday present while I was out without her. The day started out great. Everyone got dropped off and picked up like they were supposed to, all 8 children were playing very nicely together and having a great time. I got everyone fed and sent the 4 older boys outside while the younger ones played in the playroom and I sat down to have lunch. Then I heard the scream. You know the one. Not the "He stole my light saber," or the " I bumped my knee on the swing set." It was the blood curling shriek that tells you that blood is pouring out of some body's body. I jumped up, and sure enough, it was Alex with blood pouring out of his mouth. I stuffed a washcloth in his mouth and tried to find out from the other boys what happened, but nobody saw him. To make a long story short, he fell over backwards and bit his lip all the way through. I thought he needed a stitch, so I loaded up the kids, dropped 3 back off at home. While I was driving, I called our doctor who was not in. Two other physicians in town were not in, and the other two would not give us an appointment. Left with no other choice we went to the ER. After waiting for an hour, we had not even been through triage yet, and there were 2 people in front of us. It had been 3 hours since he had fallen and the bleeding had almost stopped, so we left without being seen. Alex came home, put on his pj's, and curled up on the couch. He is doing quite well and his lip has already started the healing process. He is eating soft foods and it is only hurting a little.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Morning Project: Cooking for 4-H Breads Contest

I love to cook. I enjoy having my children in the kitchen with me, and the kitchen is full of wonderful educational opportunities. Tonight is the annual 4-H Bread Contest, so instead of doing our "regular" morning work, we spent the morning making yeast bread, dinner rolls, and cinnamon rolls. It was a bit chaotic of course with so many little ones in the kitchen. Chelsea of course can cook on her own, and she was very gracious to let Christian help her. I held Lily while I helped Nick read his recipe and then helped Alex read and measure out his ingredients. We also had some good discussions about yeast and how it works, kitchen safety, and fractions. It was a lot of fun, and the kitchen smells really good. We will find out tonight how everyone did.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kids and Community Service

One of my focuses for the new year is to do a once a month community service project with the children. Something that is appropriate for their ages, everyone can help with, and can show them what a difference in some one's life. We are working on small projects that are not incredibly time consuming and can fit into our budget. In December we chose 3 angels off of the Salvation Army Tree that our church and purchased one gift for each child. In January, we put together health kits made up of 12 personal necessity items to send to Haiti. Each child packaged their own health kit from items we purchased at Walmart. For our February, our 4-H club is visiting our local animal shelter. Today, we used some leftover fleece to make blankets to donate to the shelter. We also are gathering up some old towels to take along with us. I had some cute pictures to post of the children making the blankets, but just when I think I have a good handle on this new computer, it shows me different and I was unable to upload the pictures. If I figure it out later tonight, I will post the pictures. I will also post our future projects in the months to come.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Favorite Recipes: Spaghetti Pie

4 ounces dried spaghetti
1 tbsp butter
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
8 ounces ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup green pepper
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup cottage cheese drained
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Cook spaghetti according to directions. Drain and return to warm saucepan. Stir butter into hot pasta until melted then add egg and Parmesan; set aside. Meanwhile in a medium skillet cook ground beef, onion, sweet pepper until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain and stir in tomato sauce and heat through. Coat a 9 in pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Press spaghetti mixture onto bottom and up sides forming a crust. Spread cottage cheese on top of crust and then meat mixture over top of that. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. To serve cut into wedges. Makes 6 servings.

When I make this recipe, I double it and make it in a 11x9 rectangular pan to feed 8.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Homeschool Regulations?

Besides the question about socialization, the second most common question I am asked about homeschooling is, "What kind of regulations do you have?" Each state has different rules and regulations. In the state of Arkansas we have very few regulations. We are required to submit a letter of intent and a waiver stating Arkansas is not responsible for our child's education in August or 2 weeks before pulling a child out of school. We also have to take Iowa Tests every year from 3rd-9th grade. That is all we are required to do. I am stunned at people's reaction to this. I am surprised at how many people feel that Homeschoolers should have stricter regulations. People think without government regulations, parents will not be providing a good enough education for their children. As a parent I want what is best for my children 100 percent of the time. The government cannot tell me what foods to feed them, what kind of sports they should play, what church we should attend, what kind of television shows they can watch, how much sleep they should get, etc..etc..etc.. Why should government have a say in my child's education? Even though we do not spend 6 hours a day 5 days a week using Public School Textbooks does not mean my children are not learning. Every homeschool family has a different method of doing "school" and should be able to educate their children as they see fit. As the person who spends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with my children, I believe that I am the most qualified person to determine their educational needs. What we need is fewer regulations to allow parents to do what we do best....looking out for the best interests of our children.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What to do About Math?

When I began homeschooling 5 years ago, a good friend recommended Math U See to me. I decided to give it a try and was very happy with it. At that time, Chelsea was in the 3rd grade and I thought Math U See adequately covered everything she needed to know for that age level. When Nick was ready to do Math I started using it with him also. There were a few things I believed were lacking though. In the younger grades Math U See fails to cover the calendar and money. In the older grades I didn't believe it to be moving as quickly as I wanted it to. So I decided it was time for a change. This year I switched to Alpha-Omega. Chelsea is using the 7th grade Life-packs and the boys are using Horizon Workbooks. I am very unhappy with both of these products. Chelsea's 7th grade Math started out with whole numbers on a number line ( a little simple for 7th grade) and even though it has moved on there still are places where it is ridiculously simple and a waste of time. Several of the topics cover things we have done 2-3 years ago. The Teacher's Guide is also hard to navigate. The workbooks for the boys cover the calender, money and clocks really well. It does spend a good amount of time on each topic and continues on with past topics to reinforce the information. But, it is very repetitive. Instead of splitting the year into 2 books, it could easily be covered in one. It is so repetitive that we are skipping over half the exercises.

So, I am still on the hunt for a great Math Curriculum. I know I will not continue with Alpha-Omega next year. In hindsight, I wish I would have continued with Math U See and taught the things I thought it was lacking in myself. I think when you find one that you like you should stick with it. No two Math Curriculum are the same and it would be less confusing to stick with what you know.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Internet Problem Resolved

During the time that our computer was not functioning, I had our Internet service disconnected. It didn't make sense to continue paying for something that I couldn't use. We also made the decision to turn off our land line and go with the convenience of a cell phone. So, when we got the new computer, I had to decide what I was going to use for Internet service. Dial-up service was inexpensive, but then I would have to pay a phone bill plus our cell phone bill too. We decided to run our Internet using Art's Blackberry as a modem. The phone came with a USB cable and the necessary software so there was no start up cost. Verizon also offered a 30 day trial and you didn't have to sign a contract for Internet usage. The problem being we could only use the computer when Art was home at night,it was not unlimited usage, it was pretty slow, and if you received a call it would kick you off. So I decided to look into other options. Yesterday we had a wireless modem installed through the phone company. The modem is connected through a phone line, but there is only a charge for the line if you make outgoing calls. We have unlimited usage and it can run the Internet on anything in the house that has the capability (Ipod, Wii, blue ray player, laptop.) There was a $100 equipment charge with a $50 rebate and the monthly charge depends on the speed. So far I am very pleased with the service even though we are not able to get the faster speeds because of our location.