Stacy Goes to Kindergarten

Stacy Goes to Kindergarten

I have never felt as dumb as I felt when I started teaching Annie Kindergarten. Do you know how many times I use Google per day to answer questions that my 5 year old asks?

“Mama, how many eyes does a fly have?” 

“Mama, what sound does a camel make?” 

“Mama, why do you dance around like that?”

Yes, I should know the answer to all of those…but sometimes my mind totally freezes up. And sometimes…I. Don’t. Know.

annie-calendar


My child is in Kindergarten…and so am I. Learning everything right along with her. Yes, me – a 4-year college graduate with a B.S. And there is irony in my degree title. ;-)

Some of you have asked about our choice for homeschool curriculum, so I wanted to make sure I had this information on the blog – we chose My Father’s World, a Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. I first heard of this curriculum from my bestie, Nikki. She knew I wasn’t happy with what I had tried to use for preschool, so she asked me to give this a look – and I loved it immediately!

MFW is available for preschool through 12th grade. I had ended up doing my own version of preschool using stuff I found online and also using Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons (which is an excellent book and Annie is now reading SO well).

lesson-plans

So, today I want to tell you what I like about the program and what I don’t like. If you’re looking for a curriculum or looking to switch to a new one, maybe this will help you. :-)

There is no such thing as a neutral education. Every education, every curriculum has a viewpoint. That viewpoint either considers God in it or it does not. To teach children about life and the world in which they live without reference to God is to make a statement about God. It screams a statement. The message is either that there is no God or that God is irrelevant.” –RC Sproul

science-experiment

Pros:

  • Faith based – The main reason we are choosing to homeschool is because we believe it’s our Biblical mandate to teach our children “as we walk along the road.” I love this curriculum because it’s based in the Christian faith and makes Bible part of the daily program.
  • Daily lessons are already planned – Every single day is laid out for you. For someone as task oriented as me, this is a HUGE plus. I couldn’t do a wing-it program without losing my marbles. I’m not spontaneous. I like plans.
  • Includes fun activities – School shouldn’t be boring. This curriculum gives great ideas for crafts and fun outings. It also includes outside time (season permitting) which I really like.
  • Book lists – Have I ever mentioned I like lists? Well, I do. Each weekly lesson is themed and includes a book list. I simply take my teacher’s manual to the library and check out the corresponding books that are available. Lists: I heart you.
  • Doesn’t require that you sell yourself on the street to purchase – Some homeschool programs are EXPENSIVE. Some are free. This one is kinda middle of the road. I like the middle of the road – less chance of running off a cliff. I paid around $220 for Annie’s entire Kindergarten material…but the best part is, except for the student sheets ($43), I can use everything again for Andy and Eli! Whoop!
  • It can incorporate all your children, no matter the grade level – I think this might be one of my favorite aspects of this curriculum. It’s based on the Family Learning Cycle, which means once your children reach 3rd grade, they will all be learning about the same things – just on their level. It’s kinda hard to explain until you click on the link to see the photo. It’s pretty awesome.

science-kit

Cons:

  • Every week is written out for 6 days – that didn’t really work for our schedule, so I’ve easily condensed the days down to 5.
  • If your child can read, it might be a bit boring for Kindergarten – because we used the 100 Lessons book, Annie already knows how to read. But I didn’t want her to get bored because she was ahead on the reading…so I’ve incorporated more crafts and printables I found online. Check out my Pinterest board for great ideas.
  • It’s not free – I pride myself on trying to do things super cheap and/or free when possible. But I look at it this way…it could be more. And I would likely spend MORE if she were in public school: clothes, books and other activities add up quickly!

homeschool-pinterest

So, there ya go. I was so excited and so in love with the Kindergarten level that we have already purchased the First Grade package as well.

We are really enjoying homeschool so far. I won’t lie – it’s not easy. Some days, I don’t want to do it – but some days I don’t want to get out of my pjs or cook either. Most things in life that aren’t easy are TOTALLY WORTH IT. So, remember that the next time you don’t feel like doing laundry. Clean panties are worth it.

homeschool-library



Why We Stopped Funding our Kids’ College Savings

Why We Stopped Funding our Kids’ College Savings

Post by Barry

We’re huge Dave Ramsey fans used most of his principles to become completely debt free (including our home) a few years ago. One of his baby steps (baby step 5) is to handle college funding for children. When our first child was born, we started her college fund in a 529. With small, but consistent contributions, that fund is up to roughly $5,000 (she’s 5 now). When our next was born, we started him a college fund, too. He’s 2 now, and he has almost $2,000 in his fund. Along comes baby #3 and what do we do? Well…you’d think we’d just keep the 529 thing rolling, but we haven’t. Why did we stop funding our kids’ college savings? Read on.

Retirement is Inevitable; College is Not.

We are a single income family. While this blog does generate some income, we are not like most families where mom and dad both work, kids go to daycare and we have retirement savings from two working family members. We have a 401k through my current employer, as well as our Roth IRAs. Per Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, we’ve got the 15% of income going into retirement baby step covered. We decided committing to consistently and intensely saving for retirement now was more important than saving for college (at least for now).

Annie coloring

Our Kids May Not Choose College.

I used to think college was a requirement to get on in this world. After reading Cy Vanover’s book, Earn a Debt-Free College Degree, and then Steve and Teri Maxwell’s book, Buying a House Debt Free: Equipping Your Son, we started doing a lot of thinking, discussing and soul searching. Where did we land? College isn’t for everyone and for those who decide on college, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. While we want our kids to be well educated, intelligent and productive members of society, why does college have to be the answer to get them there? If they decide on college, Stacy and I are both living examples it is possible without debt or huge infusions of cash from Mom and Dad. Plus, spending 529 savings is pretty restrictive, and so what happens if one of the kids wants to pursue something that a 529 doesn’t cover? (Yes, we know you can transfer the monies to other kids; withdraw with penalty, etc., etc.)

Andy coloring


“Retirement” May Come Before Age 65

Stacy and I have talked for a few years now about the idea of me coming home. Monday-Friday, I’m up at 6:00 am and leave the house at 7:00. I get off at 5:00, get home about 6:00 and the kids are in bed around 8:00. Then we’re in bed around 10:00. Do that math: assuming I have no errands to run or other things that would keep me away, my kids see me for roughly 2 hours each weekday; Stacy and I have about 4 hours total. As the leader of our home, I want more time to be there. I’m not one of these dads/husbands who goes to work to escape. I go to work to provide for my family and I don’t want to be gone any longer than necessary to do an excellent job for my employer in return for my pay.

In mid-2014, Stacy and I committed to start a “pre-retirement” account to start saving in the hopes that I may be able to “retire” earlier than age 65. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to work when I “retire” – quite the opposite. We are just praying that one day I may be able to come home to work. That probably means doing our small business hustles full time instead of on the side. It probably means (at least at first) a pretty big cut in pay. It probably means we’ll be paying our own health insurance. It is a RISK. But even if I “retire” at 45, that will mean Annie (our oldest) will be 16. I will have SERIOUSLY missed out on a lot of things with her by that age, but I don’t want to do something rash that would jeopardize providing for my family in the name of being home. Anyway, I still bet she’d be tickled to have her Daddy home at 16 (or even later, although at that age she probably wouldn’t admit it).

Eli 4 months old

I Didn’t Say We Weren’t Saving.

We are setting aside money for our family’s future – our entire family’s future. If you don’t know us, we’re natural savers. We currently have my 401k, our Roth IRAs, an emergency fund, a car savings fund, a pre-retirement fund and a general savings fund. Why? We aren’t big spenders and we want to save for tomorrow. We don’t do debt.

How SPECIFICALLY are we saving for our kids’ future? I don’t know. Right now, we have their Christmas money in cash envelopes with their names on them while we pray through and ponder the best course of action. We will possibly (probably) put that money in their 529s, along with at least some of all future gift money. We may put it in something else designated for them that isn’t education-bound. We’re still figuring that out (and we’re open to ideas, if you have any). But we have stopped putting money in their 529s from our income – all that extra is going toward retirement and “pre-retirement” savings. We have consciously stopped funding our kids’ college savings. I think it is the right decision for our family. What do you think?



Would You Read My Diary?

Would You Read My Diary?

Would you pick up someone’s diary and read it? Would you want someone to read YOUR diary? Your innermost thoughts? Probably not – but if you’ve been around my blog long enough or if you follow my personal account on Instagram, you’ve been reading my diary for years.

I don’t have an actual diary – I don’t write down my thoughts on a normal basis in a book and hide it under my bed. Nope, instead I have my verbal vomit HERE ON THE INTERNET for all the world to see. What kind of raving lunatic does that? Well…me.

Any time you read someone’s blog, you’re reading where they are right now on their lifetime journey – so for me, this blog has become a timeline of my life. I first started almost 5 years ago, and I am not the same person as I was then. Are you?

Sit down and think: How was I 5 years ago? What did I believe? What did I do? Am I the same person right now?

There are certain CORE VALUES that shouldn’t change:

  • Your faith
  • Your values
  • Your cell phone and computer (I hate change)

Aside from that, you change on a regular basis. I do, at least. If I could see myself now, 5 years ago, I would say “That girl is a nut job.”

diary-empty


I change on a daily basis – the things I do, the things I think, the things I want…they are all adapted based on where I am in life at present. So, when you read my blog (my diary), you need to know that, like you, I change with the passing wind (and I don’t mean gas).

You’ve been with me all this time, and you’ve learned along with me. But for the most part, the reason I stopped writing very much is because I don’t feel like I have much to contribute to you all. I’m on the same road as you – we are walking side-by-side…how I can tell you what to do when I’m learning the same thing? I can’t. Instead, we should be walking together and encouraging each other.

So, my blog has recently become more of a satire mommy opinion blog…and I like that. Because I’m learning too, don’t ya know.

Things you might have seen me write in the past, I might not still hold to. When it comes right down to it, I don’t know as much as I should…and my best answer for most things in life is: I don’t know.

Is a microwave bad? I don’t know. I used to think so, but when I was sick and pregnant with Eli, I used it a lot. And it’s still hanging around. Try and pry it from my crazed mommy fingers.

Is soda awful? I don’t know – probably. But even though I gave it up, I find myself reaching for one occasionally. I just make sure and lean more heavily on the water. I like the bubbly. And hey, it could be worse. I could be downing a daily scotch on the rocks.

Is sugar gonna kill us all? I don’t know…but my guess is a big fat NO. At this point in life, I’m waffling back and forth and wondering if there is any reason to use sucanat or why not just use unbleached sugar. SUGAR IS SUGAR. You can dress a cat like a dog, but it’s still gonna shed.

Is wheat the devil? Is butter gonna make me fat? Is coconut oil the fountain of youth? Are vaccinations a government conspiracy?

I. Don’t. Know. :-) Guess what? It’s okay to say that.

So anyway, welcome to my diary. You can see where I’ve been and were I am now…and we’ll just go together forward. I don’t know where we’ll end up.

Stacy loves y’all. Forever. Xoxo.

diary-write



I Have Become THAT Mom – Mommy Confessions

I Have Become THAT Mom – Mommy Confessions

Before you become a parent, you say and think a bunch of really dumb stuff. You have this little picture in your head of exactly how things are going to go – how you’re going to act – how you’re NOT going to act. I get it, because I was the same way. Barry and I used to have specific conversations about how exactly our house would run – things we would never do – stuff I would never even consider or be caught DEAD wearing.

I like to think that when you become a parent, all your brain cells rot. You go into the hospital calm, cool, collected and pretty intelligent. You come out with a few less marbles and they dwindle by the day. That little, wonderful blessing you now hold in your arms has rid you of everything you THOUGHT you knew. Turns out, you weren’t as smart as you thought.

Pretty much every week (or DAY if I’m honest), I serve up myself a big ole plate of crow. If I have once said “I’ll never _____.” Or “I am not going to _____,”you can pretty much bet I’ve done it…and probably liked it. Sometimes I stand in the shower and think about things that I said I would never do, just so I’ll know exactly what’s coming up on my list of things I will end up doing (Dear God, what’s next?!)…that way things don’t take me off guard, you know. I like to be prepared. Here are my mommy confessions.

no-shoes

“No matter how many kids we have, we won’t be late all the time like THAT family.”

I think I’ve pretty much given up the pipe dream of being on time. Even if I get EVERYTHING ready the night before, I am not going to be on time for church. And let me tell you, this is NOT my fault. Not even a little bit. My children have absolutely no concept of time. When I say “It’s time to get in the car,” I’ll see that Annie is still in her pajamas, or wandering around the house like a lost pup who can’t find her shoes (which are always in her shoe bin. Shocking, I know).

OR I get this….“Mom, I have to poop.” Yep. Every time. Someone in this house has to poop every time I need to be somewhere… and it’s not me. I don’t get to go to the bathroom – I think the last time I used the bathroom was when I left the hospital almost 6 years ago.  If your kids are constipated, just act like you’re running late and have to be somewhere soon. Best enema ever.


“I will NOT drive a mini van. I don’t care if I have a zillion kids. I will never, ever, EVER drive a mini van.”

Recent conversation:

Mom – You need a van. We can’t all go anywhere together.

Me – Yeah, you’re right mom. 

Me to Barry – Honey, we need a van. 

True story. Crow. With ketchup. Soooooooo, we’re saving for a van.

store-pic

“Look at that! How awful! That mom let her kid come to church with breakfast still on his face! I will never do that!”

Recent conversation in the parking lot at church:

Me – What’s that on Andy’s face? Barry, did you wipe his face after breakfast?

Barry – No, I forgot.

Me – It’s cream of wheat. Oh well. Here let me wipe it off with my thumb”… which I WET IN MY MOUTH (yet another thing I said I wouldn’t do).

“I won’t breastfeed in public. I’ll always make sure to feed before I leave and I will feed in the car. I would just be too embarrassed to feed around other people.”

Current list of places I have breastfed in:

  • Church
  • Weddings
  • Target
  • Consignment sales
  • Restaurants
  • Graduations

And guess what? I always forget my cover up…but let’s be honest, who wants to eat dinner under a blanket?

wrong-shoes

“I won’t sleep with  my kids. If I do, they will still be sleeping with me when they are 16.”

Uhhhhhh yeah. So, I did this one too. I even had a co-sleeper bassinet, but I never used it because the baby was sleeping with me. Most people are afraid to admit this one. I’m not. Mama gotta sleep. Preach it.

And really, I don’t remember any of my friends when I was 16 still sleeping with their parents.


 

But you know what? Even though I’ve done all these things that I SAID I WOULDN’T, my life is still pretty stinkin’ awesome.

I’m a late, mini-van lusting, thumb washing mama. And proud of it.

Crow, anyone? It’s pretty good with ketchup.



Mama, Step Away From the Phone: How to Cut Back Your Online Time

Mama, Step Away From the Phone: How to Cut Back Your Online Time

I should have seen it coming. I’m ashamed at myself that I didn’t. I was sitting on the couch, nursing Eli and my phone beeped. Annie (age 5), who was sitting beside me, instinctively reached over and knocked it out of my reach. “Don’t use your phone now, Mama.” One time, I could have chalked it up to a fluke. But a little later my phone beeped again. She hid it under a tissue. “I didn’t want you to see it.”

So, I had the conversation with Barry – “do you think we’re using our phones too often?”

Let me just go ahead and clear the air and expose myself (but not naked because that would be gross) – I’m on my phone too much. I pick it up as I get out of bed in the morning and I plug it up right before I fall asleep. It’s with me if I go downstairs and I never leave the house without it. It’s my connection to the world…but it’s not my connection to my children. Quite the opposite…it seems to be the thing that drives a wedge between me and my children.

Now, first off let me clear the air – this is NOT a guilt inducing post. We mamas really don’t need anything else laying guilt at our feet…should I really be letting the kids eat Cheerios off the floor? This is a post about a revelation that I had about myself and I thought it might speak to another mommy or two. And if so, then it was worth it.

dinner-together

By being on my phone constantly, what am I showing my children? I’m showing them that what I am doing on my phone is more important than a conversation with them. I’m not talking about a, “uh huh, uh huh” one sided conversation where you ACT like you’re listening (yeah, I’m talking to you too, huh?). I’m talking about a conversation where you put the phone down and REALLY LISTEN. Because trust me, they know the difference.


The indifference that we show them will be echoed back to us when we ask them to listen or complete a task – and we dug the hole we know try to climb out of.

Are electronics important? Yes, they sure are. I use my phone a lot to take photos of my children, talk to my husband, text my two best friends, and make appointments. But I honestly don’t need to be doing this all day long. There is a fine line that’s easy to cross between “important” and “obsessed.” Candy Crush Saga, anyone?

My BFF, Nikki, challenges me all the time, but one of the biggest things recently that stuck out to me was this “quit taking so many pictures and live in the moment!” Shot through the heart! And you’re to blame! You give love, a bad name. But anyway, I have SO many pictures of my kids…and I’m not in ANY of them. Yes, I want to remember important things…but shouldn’t I be working along with them instead of being behind the camera all the time?

2014-snowman

Do I realize that I’m telling people to step away from the computer and phone and I’M A BLOGGER? Yeah, I get it. But I’ve always been up front with you from the beginning and so here I am again. I’m cutting back my online time and stepping away from my phone. And here’s how I am doing it. Are you with me?

  1. I turned my phone on silent so I don’t hear every beep and ding.

This might not work for you if you need to be able to let people contact you – but we have a land line that people can reach me on. If I don’t hear that beep all the time, I’m less drawn to my phone.

  1. I unsubscribed from a zillion blogs and companies.

Literally I was getting about 100 emails a day. That’s just plain stupid. I’ve only kept my very favorite blogs, like Heavenly Homemakers, Life Your Way, and Grocery Shrink. Do I know I might be telling you to leave me? Yes, I do. But if I’m keeping you from your babies or husband, then I need to go. No one likes a third-wheel.

  1. I only check my email once a day, after the kids are asleep.

I’ve given myself one hour each day, from 8pm-9pm, to do email and internet surfing. This is the time when the kids are in bed and Barry is in his wood shop. Since I’ve cut down my email, I can easily do this and read my blogs in one hour. Facebook is also during this time…when I see what you’ve had to say during the day. This doesn’t count the time that I might need during the week to place orders or do lesson planning.

I got this idea from my friend Nikki: make a list during the day of the things you need to look up or research, then use that list later when you have internet time. It will keep you from running to your phone or computer all day for little things.

coloring-togetherAlso, I take one day of the week during nap time to do blog writing. That’s it – hence not hearing from me often. I try to answer comments during my 1 hour internet time, but I don’t always get that.

  1. I only check my personal Instagram when I first wake up, during nap time, and at night after the kids are in bed.

I can post pictures throughout the day, but I don’t have to scroll through photos. When I do, I totally phase out and pay NO attention to the toddler using the scissors on his pants. Three times a day to check in is PLENTY.

Just these four changes have completely changed my relationships with my kiddos – and I feel like I have a lot more time. Because let’s face it – the internet is a time sucker. And do you really need to know what your high school classmate spent the day eating in Disneyworld?

I cannot live my life online. I chose to live in the present – the REAL present…not the virtual present. Get off the phone, mama. Love your babies.