Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Love of Learning

So, I've completed the first "semester" of homeschooling with my girls and niece. I've learned a lot of ways not to do things. Things like:

Don't plan to do too much in a day. Just doing hair takes forever.

Doing things the hard way does not make you a saint. It makes you a grouch.

Don't expect the day to go smoothly. Plan for rough spots and celebrate it when it doesn't go as planned.

And don't be surprised when you're surprised. These things spice up life.

I know I have a LOT more to learn about this, but I feel a little seasoned now.

I have reduced my goals for the year. Don't get me wrong, we have learned much and are not behind. I want them to be at the place that if they needed to go to a school they would not have troubles adjusting because they are behind. However, my main goal is to develop a love for learning. I have noticed this with my oldest, if they have a love for learning, everything else will follow. Sometimes this love is stronger than others, but there is a joy when it is all said and done. I learned something new today.

I don't think I had that as a first grader.....and now I am finding out what I missed out on then. I really don't want to admit the things I don't know and am just learning now. I will admit, however, that one of the reasons why I love homeschooling is because I didn't do it right the first time around so here is my chance to catch up on what I missed. I love to learn now.

Since it is a holiday week it is fairly relaxing, but I asked the girls what they would like to learn about this week. Savannah said magnets. Summer and Brooke both said babies. Ellie said antibodies....what the....?????

So now I must refresh my knowledge of antibodies. Happy learning!

Back From Christmas

Favorite Christmas memories of 2009:

Lots of cookies and candy

A white and very cold Christmas

Oh the noise, the noise, noise, noise, NOISE!

Kids finding a dead raccoon by the house

Hearing Brookie say: "Christmas is Jesus' birthday. He's in my heart." 150 times.

Lots of giggles

Handmade baby blanket!

Practicing for our program

Princess dresses

Old Christmas videos

The candy cane cake

Catching up with friends and relatives....that are friends, of coarse.

Sledding behind the 4-wheeler, along with more giggles.

I don't have the pictures, because I forgot my camera. They're at Mom's. I am blessed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Shopping

Part of my Christmas gift to the girls is to give them money to buy something for someone else. We draw names. For the last few years, we just went to Wal-Mart all at once, split up, and found something. I gave them $10 each and whatever was leftover we gave to the Salvation Army bell ringers. That's why we went to Wal-Mart, because they still let the ringers there.

This year we did it a little different because I didn't have my Mom's help. Instead, I took each of them one at a time. I uped the amount to $15.

We thought it through, how much it would cost, what the other person would like, which stores we needed to go to....and yes, since I am one of those homeschooling moms, I make everything about learning! :) But it was fun, too.

They came up with really good ideas. In the past, they have gotten very excited about their gifts to each other. I hope this year will be the same!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oh, How He Loves Me!

Seek ye first the kingdom of God...and all these things shall be added unto you.

God never runs out of goodness.

God really loves me. He knows me, even better than I know myself.

He gives me little surprises throughout the day, the kind that I really had no clue it was coming.

Sometimes it is the sunrise I get to see because the baby woke me up at just the right time.

Sometimes it is something I needed to hear in a Sunday sermon, on the radio, from a good friend....or sometimes from a not so good friend.

A mom does not have much time for researching, reading, shopping, leisure conversations with great people.

If I need something, say new shoes, I can ask God to show me the best shoes for me. He knows what I like cause he created me. He knows what I can afford, and he knows where to find it. This year, my favorite shoes were second hand that my sister in law gave to my Mom, whom gave them to me. They are perfect for me, and didn't cost me a thing AND I didn't have to shop for them!!

God seems to work in these things for me. He knows what I need when I need it. I could not have planned it out better myself.

He makes up for what I can't do or what my husband can't do (since he is human, too).

Today, I got my hair done. It had been 5 months. I made the appointment at a bad time but my wonderful husband helped out. I had forgot about gymnastics, so it was gonna be tight, but something told me, "don't reschedule...it'll work out." I got my hair done...I go to a friend, and I love talking to her. I got a great haircut with high lights and low lights. I felt beautiful and refreshed. We were late for gymnastics.

We were 20 minutes late, to be exact. I hate to be late because it is expensive to pay for 4 kids to go to gymnastics and I want to get as much out of it as I can. When we showed up I realized it was an open gym- so we could stay late if we wanted, and we got a full hour in!

To a mom, these things are priceless.

I didn't stress out and I didn't yell at the kids. We just had fun.God loves me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Consider the Lilies of the Field

WOW! Life is so full of things to do! When we dream of how life will be when we are younger, how often do we take in to account all of the laundry, meals, dishes, diapers, spills, tears, oil changes, haircuts and flu shots? Those were just the things I thought of off the top of my head....

Many times our "to do" list is full of things that we really should do, and to ignore them would be irresponsible. And, I might add, we usually have to do them with less than adequate sleep.

But what really makes it seem overwhelming to me is when we add to it some unnecessary things. In the moment they might seem necessary...but to step back and look for a minute, well, are they really? Are we taking on more than we are meant to do? I have, and it is not a pretty sight.

These things include: Fear of the future, worries about money, anxiety over what someone might think of you, the thought that someone might let you down....or has let you down. Perfectionism. Unrealistic expectations.

There has been a time in my life that I had convinced myself that I should have a home that would be suitable for the Better Homes and Gardens cover....during a time when I was overworked and our income barely paid the bills. It terrified me that the reality of this was so far away, and it just made me angry and depressed. I budgeted daily, planned, schemed, analyzed until I could not even think- but still could not sleep..."what did I need to do to make this happen?"

The answer was so simple. Nothing.

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

So why do you worry about clothing? consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;

and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all this glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore, do not worry, saying "What shall we eat?"or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?"

For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
-Matthew 6:25-34

So now, now that I have learned to apply this life saving scripture, I can just stick to the necessities on my "to do" list. Yes, our car could break down and then I will have to use the money I saved for a new kitchen table...but God knows what I need and gives me what I need in the perfect time.

He has not failed me yet.

It is thrilling to let go and watch God at work, and I also am in a MUCH better mood.

I painted the picture of the red flower to remind me of this wonderful promise from God.

The Gingerbread House

I think it is inevitable that while Christmas Shopping there will be some unplanned purchases. It's not ideal for your budget, however, some things are worth it!

We found a gingerbread house kit at Joann for $8.99. It was the highlight of the shopping trip.

It is ALL about food with Summer.


Every one helped.

Even though it came with decorating instructions, they wanted to do it their way.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Shakers

I found this idea in a magazine while waiting at the Doctor's office the other day.

Take a christmas ornament and glue it on the inside of the lid of a jar.

Fill the jar with distilled water, 2t glycerine, 1/2t detergent, and glitter.

I didn't have ornaments to use, so we made a tree by stringing beads on a wire and coiling it into a cone.

The glue should be water proof. The glue I used wasn't.

It worked out anyway because of the shape of the tree it stays facing the right direction. It just kinda boings around. We had fun.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Middle Child

I'm a middle child. I have an older sister and a younger brother.

My middle child won't talk a lot, just like me.

Some people call her shy, like they did me. Why do people think quietness = shyness?

I named her Summer because I figured she would be a middle child, just like me, and I thought she should have a fun name. I think Summer is a fun name.

She wasn't feeling all that sick, but she was wheezing, and I've seen that go from bad to worse quickly before, so we went to the Dr.

We saw the doctor, she answered the questions she was asked, took deep breaths and said, "aaaaaahhhhhhh" when prompted.

She followed me down the hall to check out, and got some smarties from Megan...she's so nice. Then we had to get x-rays.

She followed me down the elevator, to the outpatient check in....sat an waited.....they got all of the insurance, addresses, co-pays.......

She asked a few questions and looked around, watched people.

As we sat and waited for the x-ray, she asked, "What is the name of this hospital?"
"That's a beautiful name. I think it's a girl's name."

"Mommy, I want to work here some day."
"Really? What job do you want to do here?"
"Hand out candy."

Quiet people....if they are not talking, they are thinking.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Think on These Things.....

One of my Mom's favorite Bible verses:

Finally, bretheren, whatever things are true, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever thngs are of good report,if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy- meditate on these things.
- Phillipians 4:8

This reminder has gotten me through many days.

Today, the lovely things I am meditating on are:

Easy recipes that my 5 year old can make almost by herself.

(This crecent chicken recipe was posted on Megan's whatever blog)

Christmas music playing on our Hello Kitty music box.

Watching Brooke get excited about "getting" to rinse off my dishes.

Finding my Grandma Suderman's apron in my drawer....red is always fun to wear. Especially with zig zags.

Three smiley watering cans.

Things that remind me of my friends. A sketch of peppers from Sheri.

The Chicken Soup book that has Jamie's story in it
Flowers will always make me smile!!!!
Dancing to "Blue Christmas" with my little man.

I could think about the cold, the breathing treatments, the laundry downstairs, how hard it is for little ones to get along...all need to be addressed, but I will meditate on the good. Thank you, God for this verse.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Morning Doodles

I had a GREAT day yesterday! It was fun going to bed with a clean kitchen!

When I have a clean table at night, I like to draw a little surprise for the girls....

I leave it on the kitchen table, so it is waiting for them in the morning.

They get up, get dressed and make their beds.

Then while they wait for breakfast, they draw on their paper.

They get so excited to see what is on their paper and how their name is drawn....

Today they were excited, even with the excitement of our first snow!

Brookie said she had a stairway....

Summer drew a picture of a sled....

and Savannah said she drew a picutre of being cold and drew fire around it so she wouldn't be so cold.

Sometimes I'll draw pictues of things that they are learning how to draw, like hearts and stars.

Then they will get excited about drawing it, too.

A morning doodle is the perfect way to start a creative day!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cleaning Day....YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If used, things turn into chaos and disorder.
Everything requires some maintenance......and the more you have, the more work you have to do. Some compare this to the 2nd law of Thermodynamics. Some disagree, but it should be a "law" of nature anyhow.

The first "law" of homemaking:

Every homemaker wants things that make her life easier, add beauty, and will entertain herself, her kids, and her husband.

The second "law" of homemaking:

All of these things will cause more chaos and will require more work.

Today is a good cleaning day.

The children were a great help in creating my chaos, so they will also be a help in maintaining it.

My rules for cleaning:
1. Everything should have a place to go. If we can't find one, it goes in the trash bag!

2. Toys that get left out go in mom's box. If they want it bad enough, they have to pay me $1.

3. Do what you are told the first time.

4. Do your best job!

Things they can do: organize art supplies, pick up toys, dust, vacuum, match socks, put away laundry, make beds...................

What makes this easier for us:

Set a timer for 10-20 minutes, depending on their age and what the job is.
Work hard for that amount of time.
Give very specific instructions

They do better when I am helping them.

After the time is up, allow at least the same amount of time for play!!!!!!!

Then do it again, if needed.

We came up with a perseverance cheer. Savannah has pom poms so they stood in a line, clapped, and shook pom poms and said:

I will not quit;
I will persevere.
I will do my best;

Monday, December 7, 2009

On the other hand......

The nativity story can be easily overlooked as we go through the traditions of Christmas. We may read it, we may see the statues, or we may even see a live nativity. It is so simple we can miss the awesomeness of this scene.

I think the most awesome part of this story is the people. God uses people in everyday life doing their everyday thing to do the most extraordinary.

A shepard was dirty and probably not educated, maybe not even "good". They were the ones the angels told about Jesus on the night he was born. It was probably pretty amazing to see angels and to go to a stable to see that what the angels said was true! But I wonder if the shepards ever thought..."why did they come talk to us?' That may have been even more amazing.

And that is how Jesus lived his life, showing the unlovable how he loved them and valued them.

Oh holy night! The stars are brightly shining;

This is the night of our dear Savior's birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining;

'Til he appeared and the soul felt it's worth.

...the soul felt it's worth. That's what is so awesome to me.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that in my humanness could not find an ounce of worth. I am full of sin and errors. So many people use others as punching bags to feel better about themselves. People can rob worth. Christ came for the soul to feel it's worth.

This is something I want my children to grasp, that they are worth something. With humility, confidence through the power of what God can do in each of their lives, and with love for others, I believe they can accomplish amazing things.

"In know that I am all too aggressive toward the child. I am angry with him, because I am angry at my own failures. I want this child to be the perfect human being that I somehow failed to become. It is shockingly easy to take my frustrations out on those who are under me." -Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Children's Sake

Parents are imperfect, Christ is perfect. God chose imperfect parents for his son, Jesus. He also chose imperfect parents for my children, but he knows that even though I have sin and errors, I do have worth. If I recognize this, I am less likely to criticize my own children for not being perfect as well. This is one way I can show God's love for them.

This is why I love Jesus.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wendi's Grocery Shopping Guide (Revised)

There are a few "rules" I keep when grocery shopping in order to not over buy and to make this chore a pleasant one. Tonight I added to this list.

1. Make a detailed list. Write it down when you are out, and have a detailed menu ready to make sure you get what you need. Don't have your 6 year old write a few things down while you are changing diapers, tying shoes, and making sure everyone went potty.

2. Don't go to the store on a whim just because grilled cheese and tomato soup with goldfish crackers sounds good. Look in the refrigerator, cause there might be some leftover chicken wings there, and you sure would not want to find that out after dragging your kids to the store in the freezing rain.

3. Never, never go to the store when you are hungry. If you do, you might pass by the Twinkies section and think about how good they sound. Then you might buy them.

4. Apparently, 5:30pm on a Sunday night is not a good time to go, since that is when everyone else wants to go. Monday afternoons aren't really good either.

5.Just stick to your list and allow 3 "extra" items you might have missed. This will help you avoid walking down the isle and pulling things off the shelf that you might need, which results in a much larger total and many more bags to carry in the freezing rain.

6 (This is the revised part)Never, never, never ever take 4 children to the store on a Sunday night in the freezing rain! Call for delivery, eat your leftovers, eat oatmeal cookies for goodness sakes! But don't go! They will ask to buy all kinds of extra stuff, and you will probably give in just to keep them quiet, you will apologize at least 20 times on their behalf, and when it is all said and done, the tomato soup and grilled cheese are just not worth the effort. Neither are the Twinkies. (But I will enjoy one later.)

On a more serious note: I do like to take ONE child with me when I go to the grocery store. Depending on their stage in life, they can help pick out a few items, cross off your list, learn about prices, foods, and it results in some great bonding time.

I would love to hear any other tips to add to the list!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Lists

"Are you getting me something for Christmas?" I asked my husband last year. He looked at me, a bit confused, and said, "What do you want?" My answer came with a sigh, "I wish you wouldn't have to ask. Get me something you know I'd like."

He got me some nice smelling stuff from Bath and Body Works and a massage. Ok, but not terrific. When am I gonna take a bubble bath?

In the course of this year, something changed in me. I realized that I was more miserable when I set my husband up with my unrealistic expectations.

One time I asked him, "If you had plenty of money and could get me anything at all, what do you think I would like?" I was surprised with his answer. "Probably a bunch of plants and flowers, and I would hire someone to come and landscape our yard." That was really, really close. What I really would like is for him to landscape the yard with me. Our project. So he knows what I want. He knows me, he gets me....and he has no interest of landscaping our yard.

I started watching him, the way he smiled at me and at the kids. The way he trusted me with daily things, but didn't get mad if I messed up. He never tried to change me.

The thing most important to HIM is a clean house. I would like that too, but hate to clean. I really try, but the odds are stacked against me. So we both enjoy things that the other won't provide, and we don't hold it over each other's head. We still love each other. We are comfortable with each other.

Since our children do not go to school with other kids, they have little outside influence when it comes to Christmas wishes. Today I asked them to make a list. On the top of each of the three lists was a goldfish. Ok, that's do-able. I told them that was the only pet they could have.

Savannah's second item on the list: a "clean howse".....

....and third, "lovelie flowers".

Friday, December 4, 2009

Truth or Pretend?

"What's Santa bringing you this Christmas?"....the dreaded question is asked while my 3 girls respond with a blank stare, piled in the shopping cart. In previous years I have not made a big deal about Santa and they were blissfully ignorant. Now more and more questions are asked.

I am not one to be enchanted with the thought of telling my kids that there is an elf far away that will bring toys to all the good girls and boys. I know some parents are, and I don't think that makes them bad parents. I just don't want to, for several reasons.

I don't want to take away from the story of Christ's birth, and don't want it to get confusing...so, which is real and which is pretend?

I don't want the entire Christmas season to be filled with the gimmes. I haven't even shopped yet. I have not asked them what they want. I'm a natural procrastinator.

There are too many things in this game that don't make sense to me and it drives me crazy. I over analyze and it makes it very hard to be excited about a story that makes no sense. If Santa is the one bringing the toys, why does every one go Christmas shopping? Kids are smart, and if they were to ask me a question like that I would just have to say, "I KNOW! It just does not make sense!"

I want my kids to trust me, and I want to be honest with them. And, well, I'm a bad liar.

But this year, my kids just think I'm crazy! There has to be a Santa Clause! Everyone says so, and he is at the mall!!! Sigh.
Yesterday after gymnastics, my daughter comes up to me "Mommy, there really IS a Santa Clause! My teacher believes in him! She said that he will only come if you believe!"

Ok, I understand that probably what happened was that my daughter was the Scrooge that announced to the whole class that Santa was not real, and so the teacher had to cover up so no one else's dreams would be crushed. But it really confused my 6 year old.

I looked at her and said:"Do you really think that there is a guy that has flying reindeer that comes delivers toys to all the kids in one night by fitting down the chimney?" She burst out laughing and said "NO!"

But I still had a problem. Now, my kids think their teacher lied to them, and lying is bad. They also think Santa is bad. Oh, and we don't want angry parents because my kids are going around telling them that their parents are lying to them.

Thankfully, I have been to several Mom's groups that have discussed this and got a few ideas.

One of my goals for my kids is to be able to distinguish truth from the rest- in many different areas. Really, with so many theories out there, how do we know? I don't want them believing whatever they hear, no matter who said it. If it does not make sense, we should investigate.

So, what do we know about the truth regarding Santa Clause? I found a kid-friendly story about St. Nicholas, and read it to the girls.

Then I asked them to tell me which statements were true or pretend?

Santa Clause's real name is Nicholas.

Santa is from the North Pole.

Nicholas wore a red robe.

Santa won't give you a present if you are naughty.

St. Nicholas loved children.

St. Nicholas loved God.

You should be good so you get a lot of presents for Christmas.

We should remember St. Nicholas because he was giving and should follow his example in our lives.

Some adults like to pretend and tell children that Santa is real.

Santa comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve and delivers all of the presents.

Santa Clause has elves and reindeer.

St. Nicholas put a present in stockings hung by the fire.

They got most of them right, but still had one question. "Why do children still believe that there is a Santa?" ....I don't remember what I said, but it was not convincing. Some things take time to soak in.

We agreed that we could still pretend that there was a Santa by writing letters and hanging stockings, but we know the real Christmas story, and we know that is the truth. I think.:)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Food Posters

Old magazines.....sometimes I want to keep them just in case........then I never get around looking at them, so I just thow them away.

Today we made posters of different types of foods. We made 6. One for fruits, veggies, dairy, meat and beans, grains, and junk food. The we got my old Better Homes and Gardens magazines, cut out pictures, and attached them the the correct poster.

Now I can throw those away.>

The "posters" were just oversized pieces of paper that we cut from a paper roll.

The girls wrote the titles on them. Savannah said she accidentally wrote vegie tales instead of vegetables.

Even Brookie worked on her cutting skills.

That's all we got done for now, but I would like to re-visit them and talk about the uniqueness of each group.

This can be used as an introduction to the concept of nutrition with your kids. It is also good practice for categorizing.

Other discussions:

After food groupings are identified, it can be reinforced during your meal conversations.

"What group does this food belong in?"

"Where did it come from?"

See if you have a food from each of the fruit, vegetable, dairy, grains, and meat categories.

Is there anything from the junk food category?

You can also label foods as "anytime", "sometimes", and "once and a while" categories, or if you prefer, "green light", "yellow light", and "red light".

To make it simple, "green light" foods would be fruits and vegetables (low in calories, high in the healthy stuff), "yellow light" foods fall in the meat and beans, dairy, and grains (good for you in small amounts), and "red light" or junk foods should only be eaten once and a while because they taste good but are not good for your bodies.

For more information, check out http://www.mypyramid.gov/

BTW: Is tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable? Depends on how you look at it. From a horticulture perspective it is a fruit because it has seeds and is a flowering plant. Nutritionally, it is considered a vegetable because of the nutritional make up and it's not sweet. Right now, I'm focusing on the nutrition definition just because I'm a dietitian and that's what I'm familiar with. If you have questions about food categories, you can go to my food-a-pedia.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Good Food Day!

Everyone has to eat, so we have to cook. I think cooking is the perfect way to learn! Kids can learn at any age with cooking and eating!

Our "chef" this week is Brooke. She's 3. Even though she is the "head chef", the others ask to be the "sous chefs" (well, they say shoe chef cause they think it's funny) and Brooke graciously welcomes the help.

This morning we made pancakes. Brooke measured the 2 cups flour. She worked on her motor skills to spoon the flour in the measuring cup and then level it off. She also stirred quite a bit.

Summer helped with the teaspoon and tablespoon measurements. She found the correct spoons to use and correctly leveled them off. She also broke the eggs and mixed them. We have been doing this long enough that Summer (age 5) needs little supervision as long as it does not involve knives or heat.

We watched the liquid of the pancake batter heat and turn to a solid.

Then we got to eat them. Yay!

We had a really easy lunch...frozen burritos. This was great for Brookie. She simply counted 6 burritos and put them on the pan, 3 on each side. We had talked about even and odd numbers recently, so I asked the girls if 6 was an even or odd number and showed how there were 2 equal sides.

Then we got to eat our work again.

Today was a special day because it was the first time Max ate cereal!! We all sat around and watched how he reacted to the new eating method. Funny faces, spitting out food, but he liked it and grunted when I wasn't fast enough.

For supper, we had quesadillas. Brookie chose this even though we had burritos for lunch. I like making quesadillas because it is kid friendly. This is how we make them:

1. First, everyone needs to wash their hands. When they scrub, we sing the ABC song to make sure we've scrubbed long enough.

2. Then we melt about 2T butter in the microwave. Brooke can work on her number recognition by punching in the numbers I tell her.

3. Their favorite part: "painting" the butter on the tortillas. I use multi grain tortillas to add some fiber.

4. Then we flip over the tortilla and spread some cheese on...we don't measure it but it was about 1/2 cup of cheese on each tortilla. One bag of cheese made 4 quesadillas.

5. Place the second tortilla on and paint it as well.

6. Place quesadilla in a heated skillet, turned to medium heat and sprayed with cooking spray. Heat until browned, flip, brown, and remove.

7. I use a pizza cutter to cut into pieces. Here is Savannah cutting her quesadilla in half. We talked about how we could get 6 equal pieces.

8. Finally, we got to eat! Tuesday night at supper I try to have a Mexican-ish type dish and we talk some Spanish. Things like por favor, gracias, counting, different types of food, etc.

They like to eat their corn frozen, so it makes it a really easy meal.