Thursday, September 25, 2014

When Your 4-Year-Old Won't Go To Sleep

My son wouldn’t go to bed. It was probably because he slept in late (I let him—it was the first Saturday we’d had as a family in a LONG time) and because he randomly put himself down for a nap during the day (huh?!). I lectured him. I threatened him with grounding. I took things away. He just wouldn’t stay in bed.

I got angry and was just about to fight him when I stopped and realized that he’s Four. And Four turns into Five awful quickly. Five turns into Seven and before you know it, Never Land is something you read about instead of something you experience. And I don’t want to let this fleeting moment go without experiencing it.

So instead of fighting, I told him to grab a bowl. He didn’t miss a beat, pulled up a chair, grabbed some lemonade, and we ate Fire Chips together (Doritos—don’t judge me about the red dye, this is rare).

He showed me his muscles. “Mom, feel them!” He explained how these muscles punch the monsters so they aren’t a problem. “Pow!”

I learned that he wants to “be a giant, like a T-Rex” when he grows up and I watched his face grow disbelief when I told him there would be dinosaurs in Heaven.

He slapped his forehead and grumbled when “the little girl upstairs is crying!” (who is actually Eight, and I’m sure nearly a grown up in his mind). And even though he has no idea who Macaulay Culkin is, he did the Home Alone face when he realized there are TWO Cheerios boxes sitting on top of the fridge. Those are his favorite. Well, not really, but I don’t buy his “favorite” ones, the horrible mother that I am.

We never sit, just the two of us. And never with silence around us. The stillness of the moment gave him the opportunity to explore the stack of old fashioned paper straws that were on the table. I had grumbled through picking them up off of his floor an hour earlier. They’re school manipulatives and are supposed to be helping him learn to count, not to be strewn around, bent, and left to Little Boy ways. But now, he told me to watch because when he spun them, “they go up and down.” Something he would have never learned if he simply used them for counting. He intentionally dropped two on the floor and told me he’s sorry, only to then meet me with a handsome grin when I immediately picked up my own and promptly dropped it on the floor, too.

We talked about art projects he and his older sister had done. He wanted to know if I’d picked his up off the floor where he had left it. Of course, I had. These things are precious to me. And tonight, I got to take time to show that the child who had made that piece of art is precious to me, too.

Thank you, Timmy, for the honor of being your Mommy.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

5 Tips For A Successful Homeschool Year

Being the middle of July, parents everywhere are working on solidifying educational pans for the coming Fall. For me, it goes a little like this:

"I should send my kids to school.
 ...but the public school here is only rated at a 3/10.

So I'll send them to private school!
 ...oh, wait, I'd have to raise (legal) rare animals or something and sell the pelts to afford that. And I don't want to skin animals. Bad idea.

Public school is still an option.
 ...oh, look, the public school curriculum! I'll look through it --(about a hundred hours pass)-- Well, that's not going to work...

Maybe I could start my own school?

(using a screwdriver and my teeth to replace a belt on the vacuum cleaner while I watch my three year old pretend that the couch is Mt. Everest--I feel proud of my multitasking until I realize the baby is about to suck on the electrical cord of my newly working vacuum cleaner.) Ok, adding children is a bad idea. I need clean floors and alive children.

I could trade work with a private school so my children can attend.

...or not.

Ok, home schooling. That's a great academic option.

Home schooling. Maybe. It would take more effort on my part (is it ok to admit how much work it is to home school properly? and that my perfectionist mind will accept nothing less from myself?).

...I don't know, maybe I should send my kids to school."

Do you see how that goes? It's like one of those If You Give A Mouse a Muffin Books (bangs my head on the table full of math manipulatives). Since I'm still working on my options for the upcoming Fall, it means that I'm planning for every option so that whatever the end result is, it's successful. So without further ado, here is how you can plan for a successful homeschool year!

  1. Don't overburden yourself. I can't stress this enough. Starting simple and adding in will be much easier than trying to figure out what you can and can't weed out a few weeks into the school year! Fertilizing is easier than weeding. Remember that.
  2. Combine subjects. Especially for the younger grades, this is pretty easy. Not only will it make things simpler for you, but it will increase the depth to which your children are learning because it provides a variety of ways that the children are being exposed to the material and increasing the frequency of which they hear/experience it. My favorite subjects to combine are:
    • History
    • Literature
    • Art
    • Music History
    • Writing
    • Geography (if possible)

  3. Choose a curriculum or educational philosophy that you can continue through the years. This will save you the step of sifting through a thousand different books every summer so that you can decide on what curriculum to use in the Fall. Programs that are designed for ongoing use are especially nice for saving you effort and time!
  4. If you're homeschooling multiple grade levels, combine your teaching where possible. Many curriculums plan for teaching multiple levels, and have different activities/books/supplements for each one. This way, you can teach the core for everyone at once, and then break each child up for the appropriate activities for that level.
  5. Plan to cut the busy work. One of the beauties about home schooling is that it allows your child to go at his or her own pace. So if your child "gets" the math concept, don't make them do rote problems of it for weeks. If you do this, then you'll have more time to spend on the math concept that is harder for your child to "get". You also avoid the frustration of boredom.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Frugal Vacation? Here's How!

I'm the queen of deals when we travel. For our honeymoon, we did a full week in Florida with a cruise to the Bahamas, a sunrise hot air balloon ride, special dinners and entertainment, swimming with dolphins, a day resort, and soooooooooo much more. It. Was. Awesome. Thankfully, since then, we discovered a way to give us the same deals (and believe me, I Googled and price mapped it all out) without me having to spend hours doing the research (thank you, Jesus!). We bought a vacation club membership and use that now for any traveling we do (and will definitely use it a lot more once life allows!)--the company buys up vacation things, time shares, and contracts with all sorts of travel/entertainment/etc. corporations, and then gives us access to the discounted prices. It's pretty awesome.

So today, I got an email from them, and there is a referral promotion going on. Want a week long stay at a resort for SERIOUSLY cheap? Want all the discounts we get? Want a free 4 day/3 night cruise (we did a 3 day/2 night Bahamas one during our honeymoon through them!)? They have a current customer referral thing that gets you all of this (and a 6 month membership) for $189! I'm super excited about this, because as a person who has a degree in Psychology and Recreation, I totally am behind the importance of vacations, relaxation, a Sabbath, and restoration. Do it!

Here is the link you need to go to get all the information:

Note: YOU WILL NEED MY REFERRAL NUMBER to put in the bottom box. It is 71100, and they're saying that only the first 100 people will get the free cruise (although I imagine that's a ploy and I think you'll get it if you ask). Get on it!

Disclaimer: when you do this, I think I'm supposed to get a $50 travel credit or something. And when three of my friends are referred by me, I'll also get the free cruise. So I think we should all vacation together and relax somewhere AWESOME! ;)