Wednesday, September 30, 2015

To Co-op or Not to Co-op

If you're not a homeschooler, you may have heard of different types of co-ops and wonder what they have to do with homeschooling. If you are a homeschooler you most likely already have or will at some point make a decision either for or against joining a co-op. We are first year homeschoolers, with only a kindergarten and preschooler, and I am already learning a ton about co-ops after joining our first co-op this year.

First, what is a co-op? Technically, a co-op is a group of people working together

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Generational Happiness

There was an article in the newspaper featuring an extremely flawed survey comparing the relative "happiness" of various generations. Since I'm technically in the slightly more unhappy Millennial generation (although towards the older end which identify more with Generation X) it got me thinking. Mostly about how the basic premise of the survey is flawed.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Crisis Point

At one, or multiple points in time, every human being comes to a crisis point. There's at least one point in our lives, where we realize that we can't handle what we thought we could, or that what we thought we believed in was misguided. The main difference in terms of personal growth, is whether our crisis point frame of mind becomes our normal frame of mind in the future, or whether we let the busyness and entertainment of modern life help us forget our problems.

It can be a big problem

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fiction Friday - Contemporaries - Chapter Eight

After relaxing for awhile with Christine, Karen finally worked up the nerve to call the detective. She dialed the number, expecting to get an answering machine of some kind, or even expecting it to just be the main phone line for the police station. She was somewhat surprised when the detective himself answered the phone.
“Hey, this is Pat. What’s up?”
“Umm, I’m looking for Detective Patrick Smith?” Karen hated when she sounded like a child on the phone. She tried to be more professional, “I’m returning your phone call regarding the Miles Tanner case.”
“Eh, alright. Hold on a second.” In the background, Karen heard his talking with a woman, she wondered

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Judgment Free Parenting

There have been a couple of instances when I've been around other parents (or caregivers) and their children and the parent or caregiver has stated something to the effect of, "He isn't normally like this, he must be showing off." or "I'm sure you think we just don't discipline, but we're really trying." I've been told I have a rather standoffish look sometimes, and I do have a big fat J in my personality, but I truly don't use it against people anymore.

I've learned, since being a parent, that we aren't the main person responsible for our child's behavior.

Yes, parents are extremely important, and discipline is extremely important (if used properly). However, controlling a child's behavior hasn't been in vogue since the Victorian times when children should be "seen and not heard" and even then, the parents didn't take responsibility for that.

So, why do we feel that our ability to parent our children is being judged when we go out somewhere or when someone else is watching our kids?

I think part of it comes when non-parents chastise us. For example, in the library, when my children are running (despite the fact that they have 3 library rules that they know by heart and we review every day before going in and I put them in timeout when they disobey). They've gotten reprimanded by the librarians before, and I felt my heart sink. Was I a bad parent because I couldn't get my kids to stop running in the library, because they get so excited by story time? The answer is, that I am not a bad parent. I have rules, I enforce them consistently, and 95% of the time my kids are on the children's side of the library. The librarians were not trying to be mean to my kids, they were genuinely concerned for their safety and wanted to try to help me out by having a third party enforce the rules. It didn't really help much, and we avoided the library for a couple of weeks, but it was genuinely a positive attempt rather than a judgement attempt.

On the other hand, one of my neighbors mentioned to me that they haven't even tried the library with their almost 5 year old boy in over a year because of his behavior. I'm sure that's not what the librarians intend when they try to help enforce the rules.

Sometimes, it may be best to avoid a situation if you know your child will misbehave. I think we've pretty much given up taking our kids out to a restaurant except for a very special occasion (or Chic-fil-a or McDonald's). In general, however, if it's a kid-style location, kids will be loud and active, as they should be, whenever they get excited or overwhelmed. It happens. Even adults can throw a fit or be a little loud in certain situations. A friend of my husbands scared my kids almost to death when we tried to go to their house to watch a basketball game together. I've seen adults have a throw-down match with a cashier or telemarketer before, and it's not pretty.

So, why do we expect our kids to have better behavior than we do? Sure, everyone posts the happy pretty pictures of their supposedly well-behaved children on Facebook, but we've all seen them at times when they were hyped up on sugar or excitement or new friends. Let's not expect our kids to be mini-adults or to be like someone else's kid. They have their own personalities, some of which may be stronger than others, but those same strong personalities are the leaders of tomorrow, whether they look or act like it today or not.

I admit I did wonder briefly about the mini-van that had driven past while my youngest and another friend about the same age had run 5 houses down into our garage when the three adults had their back turned for just a minute. But the beauty of not judging other people as much, is that I can brush off the possible judgment from other people a lot easier than I used to. God has not called us to judge each other. Instead, he's called us to work together in community and extended family. So, rather than expecting to be judged, I assumed that the people in the mini-van were driving cautiously to avoid the children in the cul-de-sac and watching to make sure the adults figured out where they went. Which we did, pretty quickly. And then admired the speed at which those tiny legs can travel.

So, the next time you think that you're being judged for your parenting, assume the best. If you have questions about discipline, ask a fellow parent. And let's all work together to raise our kids in a happy, welcoming, judgment free zone.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Schooling a Preschooler

First, I don't see anything wrong with a preschool, as long as it's used for what the original intention was, which is a break in the day for Mom to have some time either to herself or with another child. It also does give children who may not otherwise have social interaction a chance to learn to be around other kids their own age.

Second, whether you are schooling your preschooler at home or comparing group preschool, you probably have questions about what to look for to educate your child properly. I will give you my ratio for every hour of "school" so you can compare apples to apples.

15% - outdoor time
15% - music time
15% - art and sensory play (not just coloring)
10% - good read-aloud books
10% - talk about numbers, shapes, colors, etc.
10% - food related (snack, lunch, cooking)
10-20% - active fun games or free play
0-10% - group learning

Obviously, the longer a school day gets, the more flexible these numbers will be as it will be difficult for the students to focus if they haven't had enough play. Also, a 3 year old class should have very little group learning and much more free play. So, the school that brags about their two hour long chapel program or their 45 minute circle time, is not a great fit for most preschoolers.

At the co-op we participate in, here was our schedule for the last hour, which I am the lead teacher for...

4 minutes to gather children and read a story
1 minute to present a concept (what is air?)
4 minutes of active indoor learning about air (filling paper bags, making paper move)
10 minutes of outdoor time continuing to learn about air, it was a very nice, windy day (getting paper to "stick to yourself" by the force of the air)
10+ total minutes of music time, including during "clean up" time and more active songs.
4 minutes to read a second story
10 minutes of coloring and letter formation with dry erase washable crayons
5 minutes to talk about letter of the day (i) and color (green)
7 minutes of free play (mainly kitchen and restaurant toys to play with)
5 minutes of clean up

We didn't have any food related activities because the kids had just had lunch. Some of the kids didn't participate in certain activities, and that's okay too. Kids that are pre-school age, are exactly that. It's before they are in school and that's okay. They learn through play, being read to, answering their questions, and discovering the world around them.

So, don't worry about the curriculum used, or kindergarten readiness or passing a test. Instead, let your kids be kids for a few more years, and look for outdoor play, music, movement, and most importantly, FUN!

And if you're curious about the dry erase washable crayons, they really are washable and they are amazing for preschoolers.

If you're interested in buying the crayons, click on my referral link below!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

When is Spending Too Much?

While I was running up to my front door to grab something I forgot the other day, I overheard a conversation from a couple visiting one of my neighbors. They weren't my neighbors, but I'm assuming a set of grandparents. They were arguing vehemently, and the woman was saying, "I don't really spend that much" and several variations of that.

It got me thinking about how much spending is "too much". Here are a few tips to find out if you're spending too much.

  1. You hide purchases from your spouse. This is a big challenge, especially for many women who end up hiding shopping bags in their trunk, or adding all their purchases to one bag to hide it from their husband. I can tell you, he will find out eventually, and it's better to be upfront and honest about your struggle rather than hiding it from him as long as possible. The problem will only get worse.
  2. You lie about your spending. This goes along with # 1. Any lies regarding money are exponentially increasing the problem, especially via # 3.
  3. You feel guilty. Feelings of guilt can be a warning sign. Guilt and shame are dangerous emotions. The only way to get rid of these guilty feelings is to take action and be open and honest. You can't be guilty about something if you've truly confessed and repented.
  4. Your bank account is steadily decreasing. If you've always had a comfortable cushion in your bank account, but you notice that it is decreasing or you've overdrawn your account you need to sit down and figure out where the money is going sooner rather than later. If you have any revolving credit card balances that you aren't paying down every month, you need to get a spending plan in place immediately.
  5. You treat yourself because you feel like you deserve it. None of us "deserve" compulsive shopping. An occasional chocolate treat is one thing, but you don't deserve the latest brands or most expensive car or house, or even the best vacation. If you're ignoring your goals and plans in life in favor of the now, you have some serious consequences coming down the road.
  6. You don't give generously. The biggest concern I have, is when someone tells me that they don't give anything to charity. Especially when they load up the cart with $150 worth of "stuff" at Target every week. If you can afford to spend recklessly, then you can afford to give generously. I recommend 10% as a starting point, but if you've never given anything (and aren't religious), a bare "minimum" in my opinion would be providing for a child sponsorship to equal each member of your family. So, for instance, the average 4-person family would be setting aside $150-$200 a month to support 4 children in third world countries. If you think about it, that's only about one week's worth of groceries (or one unplanned Target shopping trip per month).
  7. You feel like you always want something and don't know what you have. If you are the type of person who finds unopened purchases regularly or constantly looking for something that you just purchased, you don't need to buy anything else. You may even want to start a policy of one item leaving your house for every item you purchase. Donate it to charity, sell it on craigslist or ebay, or give it away to a friend.
How do you combat these overspending problems?
  1. Volunteer among people who have very little. Seeing someone who is truly struggling can help you with your own feelings of "deservedness". 
  2. Donate your money, food, clothing, or basic needs items to a local cause in person. The in person clause is the toughest one here. Seeing where your help is going is the most important part. It's one thing to donate to a nameless charity or put a bag of food out for the mailman to pick up, but to take that step of actually bringing the needed supplies to a group or organization, or even a person, can help you see with different eyes.
  3. Confess. Whether it's to your priest, your spouse, your counselor, or your mom, you need to admit out loud to someone else that you really do have a spending problem.
  4. Set up or reanalyze your spending plan. Use a program like You Need a Budget, or create your own via an Excel spreadsheet. Get your credit card or bank statements out and find out where your money is actually going (use receipts or an envelope system if you have cash spending). Once you see how much you really spend in certain categories, determine if it lines up with your family and personal goals or not.
  5. Treat yourself by taking care of yourself - physically, mentally and emotionally. If you are feeling the need to really "treat" yourself, you should be eating whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and exercising regularly. You deserve good health, so cut back on sugar, keep alcohol use to one or two glasses per week, and get out for a brisk walk in nature. Your body, heart, and soul will thank you.
  6. Set up a spending limit that you must discuss with your spouse before making a purchase. We don't have a big problem with this in our house because we follow # 7, but set up a limit even for non-allowance purchases. For example, if I spent $100 on clothing without discussing whether we needed certain items or not, I imagine my husband would have a big problem with it. On the other hand, if we discuss the fact that I need two pairs of jeans and 3 shirts, and I expect to spend $75 or so, I wouldn't feel the need to call him beforehand, like I would with an unplanned shopping trip.
  7. Give yourself an allowance. In our house, we have a monthly allowance, which is also increased by large chunks occasionally through the year. This can be used in any amount as long as we have a positive balance. So, if I had something I really wanted for $200 or so, or if I wanted to surprise my husband with an unplanned purchase, I could easily do so. This helps me not feel like I "can't spend any money".
I'm sure there are many other overspending tendencies that I haven't covered in this short article. How do you feel that you overspend and how do you combat those tendencies?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Girls versus Boys

I see a lot of people who are worried about their kids (or themselves) trying to make friends. I'm reminded of the differences between boys and girls. At this age, with my oldest only 5 years old, I'm very happy that he's a boy.

We were at a new playground over the weekend, and D was attempting to play with some girls about his own age. One of them got really mad and said, "We're not playing with you". He had no idea what they were talking about, so he looked a little confused for a few minutes Fortunately, not much later, a little boy his age wandered over. D said, "Hey!" and they proceeded to chase each other in circles and play hide and seek and generally get sweaty and dirty over the next hour.

There was very little conversation or imaginative play going on with the boys, but they had a blast and burned off a ton of energy. At a young elementary age, most boys are pretty open to new relationships. Older elementary boys may exclude the girls, because of the cootie factor, but young boys haven't often learned the art of exclusion and meanness.

Unfortunately, I think these playground tendencies can often carry over into adulthood. As women, we can often take things a little too seriously. We can easily feel excluded or judged, instead of just finding someone else to talk to. Many of the men I know have very little conversation with their friends, but whether they've been apart for a few weeks or years, even without talking, they just say "Hey!" and go back to being friends exactly the same way as they did before.

So, what can we learn from these guy friendships?

  1. Openness. Rather than excluding a potential friend, just be open to them while you're with them. It doesn't mean you have to call them later or become best buddies or even have a long conversation, you can just sit and be together positively.
  2. Forgiveness. Some friends may have a bad day, or a bad year, or just be unavailable for a time. Rather than getting upset or feeling left out, try to let it go. Unless a friend has purposefully done something to hurt you, try to be a little more understanding when a friend needs some time off or seems to exclude you.
  3.  Hobbies. Many guys are involved in sports related activities. Sometimes, all we need is a buddy to walk with, or someone to attend a concert or movie with. Find friends that fit in different areas of your life. If you both practice openness and forgiveness, it shouldn't really matter if you only have time for each other a few times a month, or if you don't have long conversations every week. As healthy adults, we should have different levels of friendships, maybe some of these hobby friends will become your best friend forever one day.
  4. Kindness. Despite being a lost art, we need to focus on kindness in all of our relationships. Not the "bless her heart" type of kindness, but rather the true empathy and understanding of a preschooler. Sharing, thanking someone, and changing the environment when necessary. Sarcasm has its place with certain people, but some friends won't be okay with it, and that needs to be okay as well.

There is one big difference between guys and girls when it comes to friendships. Women, in general, do want at least one or two close friends. We want someone to have those long conversations with and someone we can count on when the going gets tough. If we're learning what we need to about openness, forgiveness, and kindness, it should be easier to form those friendships. It will never be easy for some of us to make close friends, but it can be easier with a little encouragement from the positive relationships around us.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fiction Friday - Aware - introduction

Since I am out of town for a few days, I'm interrupting our normally scheduled chapter of Contemporaries with something a little different. This is a small introduction to a piece I had been working on last year about a woman who has a condition which causes here to hyper-focus on her senses, but seem a bit off in the real world.

            I am awake at 6:01 AM. I feel the weak morning sun gently warming my left arm. My right ear is pressed against a firm, silky pillow. I listen to my heartbeat echo slowly, one-an-two-an-three. At 6:03 AM my eyes slowly open. I blink three times, feeling the softness of my lashes brush my skin and the stiffness of sleep in my movements.
            I smile as I glimpse the familiar mint green wall. I have repainted it several times, but always the same lightest green to wake up to in the morning. The semi-sheer curtains allow the warmth of the summer sun to wake me softly, like a baby’s cheek brushing against my skin.
            I twist my legs carefully to the left, keeping my upper body still, feeling my spine shift vertebrae by vertebrae. I twist my legs back to the right, gently moving my upper body to the left, feeling the shift crinkle my skin and the bones gently shifting in my body. I straighten and point my toes, shrugging my shoulders upward, and stretching the last vestiges of black, silent night into the darkness.
            I sleep a dreamless sleep. I do not use alarms or wake-up calls. I have tuned my body relentlessly. I know when I am going to wake up before I go to sleep. I sleep deeply, at least in the comfort of my own home. I don’t awaken to the sounds of dogs barking or babies crying or someone softly calling my name. When I sleep, I am aware of nothing. When I am awake I am aware of everything.
            When would-be comforters tell me the dead are only asleep, this is no comfort to me. For me, sleep is merely emptiness. Eternal slumber, the silence itself, would be either the deepest hell or the sweetest heaven for me. I haven’t yet decided which.
            Now I step carefully out of bed, my bare feet melting into the soft carpet beside my bed. It took me three years to find the perfect bedroom carpet. I wiggle my toes and carefully stretch my ankles and calves. I finally turn away from the sun, padding softly towards the bathroom.
            The cool tile energizes me, and I turn on the water so it will warm up. As I wait, I look at myself in the mirror. Shiny, healthy brown hair, shoulder-length. Pale, almost translucent skin, a few freckles from summer sun across my nose, and a tiny mole next to my right ear.
            I never feel like I recognize myself in a mirror. I stop on the streets sometimes to wonder at the reflection in a glass window.
            Nine years old, I lie down in the grass, feeling the individual blades of grass against my skin. Resisting the urge to itch, I gradually focus myself, feeling only the coolness of the grass and the slight dampness of the morning’s dew.
            “Annabelle!” I can hear my mother screeching from the other side of the house.
            The slightly obese woman rumbles around the corner, and I find my muscles tensing. I force myself to relax one body part at a time until.…
            “Annabelle.” At least she no longer needs to screech now that she’s standing right above me. “Your little friend Jessica has been wandering around my house for hours.”
            Actually it has been exactly 12 minutes, not that I expect this creature to understand.
            “She said that you don’t want to play with her anymore. Now I know that we’ve talked about this, and we are all in agreement that you must have friends your own age.”
            By 'we', she means herself and the current school-assigned counselor. I have never agreed to such nonsense. Besides, the phrase ‘your own age’ makes it seem like I have other friends who are not my own age.

            I shake the memory away; I have a full day. I don’t need to deal with my childhood this morning. I can still see that woman’s face mirrored in my own. My body and face are slender, but I see her in the shadows and outlines of my face. And worst of all, I see her in my eyes. Like she’s waiting there for something to break inside of me, and she’ll come pouring out when I least expect it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

This Week in School

So, this has been a productive week of homeschool, other than a few minor hiccups. The first hiccup being that we only did two days of school at home. We had our co-op on Tuesday, today is scheduled as a field trip day (although it was organized through Facebook and I haven't had any updates, so hopefully it is still on track). Tomorrow we are off for family reasons.

I was thinking it would be a difficult week, especially with the very busy weekend we had. I was pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Superhero Moms

Early this morning, I heard the plaintive cries of my 2.5 year old. "Mommy, I throwed up!" Fearing the worst, since he had complained of a stomach ache just before bed, I rushed in. I sniffed the air, there was no telltale smell of disaster. I felt the bed sheets next to his pillow, they were dry. I looked into his half-closed eyes and he smiled at me. "Tissue?"

So, I went to the bathroom for a tissue, still disbelieving my own luck, and still wondering what the tissue was supposed to be for, since his nose was clean and dry. "Thank you," he says, then points to the side of his cheek.

Apparently, drool counts as "throw up" to a 2 year old.

Mom, the vanquisher of invisible throw up.

As moms, we have great power. We can make shadows disappear with the flick of a light switch. We can heal booboos with fluttery kisses and silly faces. We can baby proof the worst situation with our magical arms of steel, holding our precious cargo above the wreckage.

Maybe you're a mom of older kids, or even grown children. You can let them cry on your shoulder from thousands of miles away. You can practice your mind-bending skills in an attempt to prevent disaster when your kids are making poor choices. You can practice your invisible brake, even when you aren't in the car with them.

There's a special place in a child's heart for his or her mom. Dad's have an equally important and vital role, but that special maternal touch is something extremely precious.

So, the next time you're dreading the 2am wake-up cry, or the tears, or find yourself lacking the energy and strength to make it through another day with those frustrating, precious, difficult children God blessed you specifically with, remember the superhero powers you possess.

With great power comes great responsibility.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Surprised by Real People

I don't often do "reveal" mystery shops, because they can be awkward sometimes, but I signed up for one awhile back, trying to expand my resume. The pay wasn't great, but it turned out to be a very interesting experience for unexpected reasons.

During the "reveal", I was telling the person in charge that they, and everyone working there that day, would receive a $20 gift card because they passed the mystery shop. Her response was, "I thought they were lying."

I'm not sure if she thought her employer was lying about the fact that there was a good change to earn a gift card if they did the right thing, or if she didn't believe that the company actually sent mystery shoppers out to make sure they were doing their jobs. I would have expected her to be excited about winning, but she seemed more like she was in disbelief that I was a real person and physically came to the store

Monday, September 14, 2015

Updated Design

With some of the blog posts getting longer, I decided to truncate some of my more recent posts while on the main page, to help clean up the design and make it more readable. Let me know if you like or dislike the new format by commenting on this post.

In other news, I have wondered lately if it is suddenly no longer rude to be on your phone in certain situations (such as a child's birthday party). I understand wanting to take a picture with your phone, but the texting or scrolling, and the earbuds in listening to a movie  seems a little rude to me.

It made me start wondering if all this technology has made us lose our sense of "being". It was beautiful weather outside this weekend,

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fiction Friday - Contemporaries - Chapter Seven

The drive back to Charlotte passed relatively smoothly. Karen spent some time making a list of things to do and questions to ask when she arrived home. Justin was a fast driver, but Karen rarely got carsick. Riding through the mountains while writing notes proved a bit much for her, however, and she took a turn driving on the twisting mountain roads.
As she parked in front of Justin and Christine’s parents’ house, Justin made a final comment on the Kentucky trip.
“I know that you weren’t expecting the meeting to go exactly the way it did, and some of what they said has made you think again about the situation. But how would you have reacted if someone you didn’t even know came up and started asking questions about Christine after surprising you with the news she was dead? Maybe at least wait a few days before calling them again.”
“Well, obviously Christine isn’t dead, so it’s hard to imagine, but I will try to put it in perspective. You’re smarter than you look Justin.” Karen popped the trunk so Justin could get his backpack, but made no move to get out and help him.
“Thanks, I think.” He muttered before trotting down the front walk towards the door.
When Karen pulled up in front of the duplex she called home, she noticed Christine’s car was in their driveway. Christine always worked on Saturdays, since her paychecks were partly commission and Saturday was the best day for sales. Even though it was early evening, Christine would normally go out after work with some of her friends or co-workers after she finished her shift.
“Hey, Christine,” Karen called out as she dragged her belongings past the living room, where the TV flickered quietly. “What’s up?”

Christine mumbled through a stuffy nose,

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Discipline & Homeschool

I read a blog post from someone else recently that said the biggest secret of homeschool is that it's hard. We're not quite at the "hard" part yet for homeschool, because honestly Kindergarten doesn't require all that much. But, I can see already that discipline is a very tricky tightrope to walk in homeschool.

I saw a post on Facebook from someone whose daughter wanted to go out and play at 3pm, but since they start school late because she goes to bed late and sleeps in, she still has school work to get done. In my opinion, there are two obvious options, and probably more secondary options for this situation. if she works better in the evening, I would let her do "homework" after supper (which is probably what the other kids are doing). If she works better with motivation, I would tell her that she can go outside to play when she gets her work done for the day, and set clear expectations for what that work is.

The tricky thing, is that, as homeschooling parents, we are both parent and teacher. So, we have to use our parent skills to determine what our kids need and want (play time, structured vs. unstructured activities, chores, allowances, toys, screen time) and yet

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Sick Day

In my opinion, there are two reasons that should be considered legitimate sick days. You either feel too sick to do your job properly, or you don't want to get other people sick. I usually only use the second reason, but yesterday I was very tempted to use the first.

I'm pretty sure it's allergies (my husband and I were just talking about the fact that we haven't had allergies as bad since moving back to North Carolina from the allergy capital of the country (Louisville, KY). So, of course, we were reminded that it probably isn't a lack of allergies, but rather a different allergy season here.

So, I don't feel "sick", but my ears and throat and nose are giving me a "run" for my money (pun intended). Let me tell you just how miserable it is to go to co-op for 4 hours, deal with kids who are too wired up from co-op to take their needed nap (because they were up early) and/or are woken from their nap by their older brother trying to climb back into bed for the 3rd time because he really was tired.

So, when it came time for our small group to meet, I wasn't really feeling like I wanted to go. I had a bad attitude, and I wanted to take a sick day.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

What Could Free Do For You?

As I was checking out at Target, trying to get an almost free Starbucks Iced Coffee (combining a 40% off Cartwheel and a $1.00 Ibotta) the lady in front of me purchased almost $150 worth of "stuff". I'm not even sure what most of it was, but it didn't look like anything necessary. She mentioned to the cashier that she liked to stop by every time she passed a Target store this time of year to look for pumpkin flavored something or other. She only found one this time, but still managed to spend well over $100.

At the same time, back at the "ranch", we were attempting to put together a free bunk bed for the kids. It made me think about what free could do for you. Odds are you fall into one of two camps, the people who buy tons of "stuff" or the people who could do with a little "free" from your friends. Here's the thing, though, whichever camp you fall into, both parties benefit from a little free in their life. The people that have stuff overflowing and need to pare down (whether it's due to a move or due to just buying more things) need some help getting rid of things.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Internet Addiction

The Internet can be a scary place nowadays. It's becoming both commonplace and embarrassing to admit when we have an Internet addiction. I've been working on my sugar addiction first, and I have an easily addictive personality. I also "have" to be on the computer for several of my jobs, often during times when I'm just sitting around waiting for a tutoring student. So, when those times happen, I can often get sucked into the maelstrom of Facebook feeds rather than working on my blog or continuing to write my story.

So, what do I do about it? This one is a bit trickier, because, as mentioned, I often do "need" to be on the computer for my work, so I can't exactly go cold turkey. Also, the Internet has some amazing places to visit (Facebook groups that have tons of people using the same curriculum I am and sharing their awesome ideas, buy/sell/trade groups, because obviously I need to buy next year's curriculum today, and blogs!).

My solution for the sugar worked pretty well.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Fiction Friday - Contemporaries - Chapter Six

Karen sat on the front porch, discussing the news with Justin. “Do you think his father is still alive?” She asked.
“Something else to ask the old man, I guess. Hopefully you didn’t kill him off yet.”
Karen elbowed him in the arm. “Whatever. You are such a child. How are those college applications coming along?”
“Whatever.” He muttered back. “I’m no dummy, I just haven’t figured out what to do with my life yet.”
“Me either.” Karen shrugged. “Sometimes it’s not what you do with your job, but what you do with everything else that matters. Of course, I haven’t done much of that either. I’m officially in my late twenties now, and I wanted to be married and have kids, or be out saving the world in some poverty stricken area.”
“Really? I never would have guessed you were the do-gooder type. I thought you were just a know-it-all.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? I care about a lot of people, especially kids.”
“Yeah, but you never do anything about it. You’re always too busy. Christine says she hardly sees you, but it’s not because you’re off doing anything important, you’re just filling up the space.”
“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life, Justin. Isn’t that what you always say?”
“Maybe so, but at least I do some important things with my free time.”
“Getting the high score on a video game doesn’t count.”

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Homeschool Field Trip List

This is my list of field trip opportunities for homeschool. This is not an extensive list. Some of these may be done every week (library) and others may need to be done through a group. I wanted to post it in case anyone is having trouble coming up with "socialization" activities for their kids. Most of these are local to our area (within about 30 minutes) although I have included some that are 2-3 hours away as they will make great short-term family vacations.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Never Meet a Stranger

It's been a busy week. Yesterday was full of tons of new people and talking (and playing for the kids). I was exhausted, and thought that my kids would be as well. Unfortunately, I forget that my oldest child is about as big of an extrovert as you can get. He was so wired up, that while he managed to go to bed and get to sleep at about 10pm, he was up at 3:30 and again at 6:45 when the garbage trucks came.

It's amazing how some people are so energized by new faces and others are so overwhelmed. I generally consider myself somewhat in between an introvert and an extrovert, so I wasn't expecting to be quite so exhausted yesterday. However, the sheer volume of new faces and activity left me physically exhausted. I felt like I bad parent, but I really couldn't deal with my oldest this morning until after I had my coffee (double strength).

I thought about my oldest child some while we were on vacation and running errands around town.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

What are your 7 words?

While we were driving back from the beach, we passed a billboard that was written by the advertising company. It said, "Put your 7 words here" and listed a phone number to call. It got me thinking, because the sign itself didn't have 7 words, so why did they mention that specific number? I'm not an advertising expert, but I would guess that they've done some studies and come up with 7 as the best number of words that are still large enough that someone could easily read in the time they drive by the sign on the road.

So, it got me to thinking, if I could only pick 7 words, what would they be? I can't even come up with 7 words that would describe my current job situation, so this seems an impossible task.

But, it's a challenge I'm willing to take on. How about you? What are your 7 words?