Sunday, October 13, 2013

Budgets and Financal Planning, UHHHGGGGGGGG!!!

So, I have working on a few projects lately. I have been trying to re-do our family budget and get some things paid off, I worked on the yard some, I have a container garden going for the fall, and still have a list of projects for church. The budget is what I have spent most of the last week on. I have downloaded free programs or trials, and in-put in my info, but yet none still meet my needs. One program wasn't easy to use, yet it had a great list of budget line items to keep track of everything, even regular gifts and Christmas gifts. So, I tried to print the report with all of the line items, it wouldn't print!
Over the years I have used lots of different programs and books. None ever met my needs exactly, so I would stop using them and let them fall away. The best things I ever did was just to use a pencil and notebook, but even that has it's downfalls. (My handwriting is almost as bad as my spelling!)
Years ago, we had a bank account with a small local bank. It was totally free checking, but they had no ATM/debit card. They plain checks were free and no limits on writing them. But, they did not process digitally, so Walmart couldn't take them. The lobby was open 9am to 5pm M-F & 9-Noon on Saturday's and the drive-thru was open 7-7, M-Saturday! The plus to this, you might over spend by writing checks, but you couldn't over spend by hitting the ATM or with a swipe of the card. Back then, things were tight for us. To avoid over spending, we decided not to write any checks. We spent only cash, went to the bank to withdraw funds and got money orders to pay the bills. We could only spend what we had in our pockets, if we didn't have enough and the bank was closed.... oh well!
I had set up an envelope system back then for the bills. I would write the bill name, due date, and amount on the outside. I would “fund” the envelope throughout the month, as I added or took away money, I keep a running balance. I also put the months down, as I paid for each month, I crossed it off so I knew when the payday came around if I needed to fund that envelope or not. If emergency repairs came up, I would go to the different envelopes and decide if we could borrow from it for that month. Yes, I had entertainment envelope and other extra's so borrowing from them was easy. We both knew where we stood financially all the time.
Now a days, we have all the bills being paid by bank draft automatically, it's sometimes hard to keep track of and remember when they are supposed to hit! On top of that, there a few bills being paid by check, so waiting for them to clear and checking the bank balance has become an everyday job. After keeping up with all of that, I found we have forgotten to budget for the extra's. We don't have much in the way of college savings for the boys. I also don't have much of an emergency fund. I try, but sometimes it just gets treated like an extra windfall of funds to do something fun with.
I have been working on different parts of our finances over the last year. We have been working on our credit ratings, and improving them. We have opened some new lines of credit, paid off the car, and now I need to get the FULL budget planned. I challenged my church family to up their personal tithe's, we are doing that as well. We have enjoyed our summer and paid the bills, but we did not really follow a budget. Now it's time to buckle down!
I still have to plan some more of the budget out, but at this point I am going to tell you, we are going to live very tightly for awhile, so we can be free to enjoy more later on! My goal is to have at least $2500.00 in the savings account at all times. Yes, that's a lot of money, but when an emergency hits it's usually close to $1000.00! Also, that will be enough to cover the bills for 1 or 2 months. We have some credit card debit and a few other loans we need to just pay off and get off the books. We need to start saving for a new/2nd car and would like to think about buying a house down the road. All of those we could get better rates and lower payments if we plan ahead and save for.
What financial challenge do you want to take on? Give yourself a goal for something, and make a plan to reach it. Small steps are just as good as large ones! Tell me about it, and I'll tell you about mine. I want to be held accountable and encouraged, I want to share in my celebrations. Put God first in these decisions and ask Him for direction, then listen and go for it. He will reward hard work.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Yard work!!!

So, we live in a rented townhouse. We have great space and like our neighbors. The problem is the HOA lawn care. It's awful and has been causing problems with bugs, ants in particular. The last time they trimmed between the driveways was in the beginning of July. The ants have been a huge problem and we have found them attacking dead bugs in the garage so it is safe to assume that any dead bugs in the grass/ weeds are also feeding the ant population. So, we have been treating the ground around the house with any bait stations, but they have become in-effective. While on a shopping trip to Lowe's/Home Depot, Marty purchased a string trimmer. He then spent a few hours cutting all the grass around the house and between the driveway.

Once he was done, I realized that he couldn't get everything really good because the neighbor had some pots with weed growth wrapped around them and making it hard to trim around. So, we left a patch un-trimmed and I talked to the neighbor a few days later. After being told that only 1 pot had a real plant in it, I asked if I could remove them and clean the area more. That started the fun. As I pulled a huge weed out of a half empty pot, I found out, (real quick) all the dirt had been replaced with a Fire Ant NEST! So, I quickly dropped the pot and weed, grabbed the ant/bug spray and soaked it all down. I did this several more times, after stirring up the dirty and pot more. Then I moved the 1 "plant", it was sitting up against the house and had what looked like a dirt piled up on 1 side. Nope, another Fire Ant Nest! So, more spraying and stirring.

Now, I started to find that we needed to do something bigger to control the weeds and the ants. So, I started to dig up some granite tiles the neighbor had put down years earlier, she was hoping to control the weed growth. Then I got out my landscape fabric and went shopping for rocks! The boys and I spent about 2 days and under $50 to clean up the space and cover it with rocks. We even washed the tiles off and re-used them. The color of the rocks looks great, after a good washing!
Yes, I used a fireplace screen to help hold down the fabric while pouring the rocks.

We are still trimming the space between the driveways, even went ahead and cut the neighbors weeds on the other side of their driveway, found another Fire Ant NEST over there, but we treated it quickly. Before the project, I was getting bit at least once per week while just sitting in my garage watching the kids play. I can report now, I haven't gotten bit since we did this work. That's $50 well spent!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Baseball time again!!

Andy has started baseball again. His first game was 2 weeks ago, last week game was canceled because of the rain and wind. He has only 4 more games, they only play for 6 weeks. This group is a great group for these kids who can't play at the same level as their peers. I wish Andy would try harder, and don't think this will make him try harder. But I am grateful that even tho' he doesn't have a drive to play sports, he at-least gets a chance to play in a way that allows him joy.What you can't see very well is, Andy is at 2nd base.

There are a few kids that would never have a chance to say, "I play baseball." These kids find the fun playing with this group. I can't say enough good things about them. They are The Miracle League of Frisco. They are part of the nation wide organization, we chose the Frisco one because of it's location and the other sports they offer. I hope you folks check them out.

Speaking about checking out, come on out to a ball game. This Saturday, (October 12th) it's at 11:30am. The next week, 10:30am, and then 9:30am. The final game is at 8:30am, you see that pattern? The only double times was the first game at 8:30am and last weeks rained-out game was 11:30am. The games are only 1 hour. Come a cheer these kids on.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Another great shopping trip!

So, about 2 weeks ago I did a marathon shopping day. I took Marty to work so we could have the car, Andy had a Eye Dr. appt. We did 5 stores. I spent $261.36 and have enough food to last 2-3 months. It's hard to say all of my exact savings were, lots of my shopping was just getting the best price, not using bunches of coupons. I did use some, and some stores will still give you the savings compared to their own regular prices. So here is some of the run down;
Albertson's, Total spent- $112.65, Savings calculations on the receipt- $203.47
Tom Thumb; Total $32.26, Savings $11.75
El Rancho; $57.90
Fiesta; $8.54- is what I paid for- 6 cans of spaghetti sauce, 35 oz of spaghetti pasta, 35 oz of elbow noodles, and 3 lbs onions.
Rio Grande; $50.01- 8 lbs of sugar, 10 lbs of potatoes, 1 loaves of bread, 3 pack tortillas, chip, 4 lbs bnls/skls chicken, 3 pks bologna, 4 pks hot dogs, 6 frozen pizzas, 2 heads of lettuce, over 2 lbs of pears, and over 1 lb bananas.

What did I get?????

Things like canned and frozen veggies, soups, cookie mixes, toilet paper, facial tissues, pizza rolls, biscuits, coffee, canned tomatoes, crackers, pork tenderloins, tilapia fillets, cheese slices and shredded, butter, BBQ sauce, mayo, canned chili (for hot dogs), salad dressing, bananas, pears, lettuce, tomatoes, pizzas, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, tortilla chips, sandwich bread, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, bologna, sugar, bnls/skls chicken, hot dogs, cantaloup, gr. peppers, onions, cilantro, cucumbers, bacon, smoked sausage, chorizo, gr. beef, cabbage, ketchup, cheeseburgers, turkey roasts, spaghetti sauce, pasta noodles, and potatoes.
Not bad..... not all are convenience foods but some are, we like to make quick lunches and I like to have a quick meal on hand if church runs late or we have other things going on.

The kids and I spent an afternoon making an inventory list of just the pantry and freezers. (Small deep freezer and refrigerator freezer.) For those who know me, I got a small deep freezer for $25 at the church yard sale, it works great! My list ended up being 4 pages long after I typed it up. We check off items as we use them and plan meals without opening the freezer. I have been doing this for years, of course usually its a smaller list. When we were still moving around, I would make the inventory list about 5 weeks out from a move, then plan meals to use it all up. I couldn't move the refrigerated or frozen stuff, and panty items just take up space and weight. I still deal shopped when we were moving, I just didn't stock up so much. Right now we have 8 large cans of tomatoes and 5 regular sized ones!

I have always said, if you want any help with shopping, just ask. I love helping others and am more than willing. I recognize that frugal shopping is a God given gift. I enjoy sharing that gift with others. Even if you don't live in the Dallas area, I can help you find the deals for your area.

A little rant about being a SAHM! (Stay At Home Mom)

I just read some comments to blog post about being a SAHM and how hard the job really is. In the comments, folks called it a "Mommy competition." 
I am one, proudly! I also homeschool my boys. I just spent the morning climbing on the roof to clear the dryer vent. Why, so I could do the laundry! I could have waited for my husband to come home and do it, but then what time would I have left to spend with my husband?
Life is filled with choices, every woman can be a SAHM. EVERY woman, even the single ones. I knew a woman that was a SAHM while she raised 7 kids, home-schooled them and did it after her husband left 2 days after delivery of #7.
I have been a SAHM while following my husband’s career of traveling around the country, moving every 3-6 months. We choose to have only 1 car, eat out rarely and to be tight with our money. We can afford for me to stay home because we choose to.
I don’t think it’s a competition, it’s a choice. I wouldn’t choose to work, because that would be a choice to allow others to raise my sons. I wouldn’t choose to send my boys to public school, because that would mean allowing others to decide what they are to learn. Both would also allow others to reap the rewards of watching my kids grow, their joy when getting a math problem that was difficult, or reading for the first time.
You say that you couldn’t be a SAHM yourself, why not? Most answers I get to that question…., “My kids would drive me nuts!” I say, but if you were the one setting the standards and rules, along with enforcing them, how could your children be so crazy? They would know what was expected of them, the rules wouldn’t be changing based on who was in charge, so their behavior would be more in tune to what you want.
Then there is the thought that I am in some way judging those who choose to be working moms. I am not judging you, I am stating way I choose to be at home. My priorities are what they are for me. Yes, you could take my arguments against "kids driving you crazy" as a judgment. But I just can stand people putting the blame of their choice on the kids. It's not the kids that are keeping you out of the home, it's your choice!
If you think you can't choose to stay home because of money, your wrong. It is not about money, it's about the money you think you need to have/spend. No one ever goes to court and tells the judge, "He forced me at gun point to buy a new car every 2 years!" No, that is a choice. I choose to be frugal and to plan my shopping and meals around a price that I am willing to spend. 
There are so many other things in our lives these days, that are NOT choices. I did not choose for my son to have Spina Bifida. But I did choose to love every day and every moment I have with him. I can choose how I deal with it. Hiding from the hard truth and hard work is not going to make him be the best he can be. It's the hard work that I chose to do that has allowed him to walk without braces or crutches or walkers. It's the choices we made that allowed him to receive the care he needed to make him the best he can be. If I had hide from it or given up because it was going to be too much hard work.... I would have done what the Doctors wanted me to do, ABORT. But I didn't run from it, I didn't give up because it was hard work. I faced it head on not knowing if he would ever walk or even if it would take his life, I faced the unknowns and the hard work head on. And I am reaping the rewards every day!
So, I am not judging you for your choice, I am judging you for your excuses and for placing blame were it should never be placed, on your children!
So, yes... I am ranting a little. Don't take offense, just be truthful to yourselves.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Why and How We HomeSchool!

Why do we homeschool?

Because it was the best for our family at the time Andy was supposed to start Kindergarten. We had decided to start traveling with Marty and we could not get Andy into an online learning program. From that moment, we knew we had made the best choice. Ryan has a bit of Dyslexia, mild but has some trouble, and he was not ready to sit and do desk work until around 8 years old. If he had been in public school, they might have labeled him a ADHD kid and demanded medications. He also would have been in trouble a lot. Andy has lots of trouble with his hand writing and creative thinking, he's very logical and likes to follow the letter!
Both boys get the extra attention they need and I have been able to be creative in finding what helps them each, given their personal limitations. With Ryan, I used games. If he could read a word correctly, he got a chance to shot a basketball. He could bounce around the room, on the couch, as long as he tried to read the word on the flashcard. Not sit at a desk and do desk work. With Andy, we were able to find a handwriting program that worked for him.
Another bonus to homeschooling for us, the boys know what makes a friend a good choice. (or bad choice!) They have learned that they have the freedom to choose friends and have the right to refuse to be friends with others that could be a problem. They also know how to socialize with kids not their age. They both enjoy helping and playing with younger kids as well as sitting back and spending time with older kids. They are learning about age-appropriate behavior and skills. It's fun to watch them change their own actions based on the age of the child they are playing with. I watched Ryan with a 3 year old child at church on Wednesday evening. The little one was swinging around a pole near the beverage table, Ryan put himself between the table and the pole and gave the child an arch to go through. While it made it fun for the young one, Ryan was blocking the child from being able to accidentally bump the table and make a mess. Smart kid!!


Even chores can be an learning opportunity.

They also do housework/ chores and know how to grocery shop. My kids are going to be able to live
independently and successfully when they turn 18.I use a chore chart. Each child has duties to do every day and they both have the same chores on different days. Even chores can be an learning opportunity. They know how to do the laundry and help with that every week. With my kids, they learned colors sorting the dirty clothes, learned some counting and pairing with socks. They learned to carry the folded clothes and helped me put them away. They can put a shirt on a hanger and put away sock balls. Now they can fold almost anything and put everything away.
My kids know how to cook some basic things and are learning more cooking skills all the time. They are responsible for lunch almost every day. Either they make it or they are helping make it after planning it. They are learning how to clean the bathroom and already help with cleaning the rest of the house. My kids help with sweeping floors, yes not perfect but when they practice they get better. When younger, they held a dust pan for me or got the broom out for me. I had them practice sweeping in garages, not a big deal if they miss some but nice bonus of having a “cleaner” garage.
They also have a checklist of the daily routine things like brushing their teeth or taking their pills. They know what they are supposed to do but the checklist helps to remind them and get them in a habit/ routine. They also learn how to make lists, as well as following through them.
Most of you know, I am a coupon shopper. My kids know how to coupon shop as well. How much math skills does that take? I have been teaching them budgeting skills too. They also help with long term project planning and inventory. While all of these things are not classic "school work," they certainly help to teach them how to be well rounded grown men! I know, I am training good husbands and their wives will thank me, (and their father) one day.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Behavior Correction Our Ways and More!

First, some thoughts on behavior and rules, the way we do it.

Wow, there are some days when the kids just won't listen. Those are the days that I get the most frustrated. We have some basic rules in this house, the top of the list? Do what you are told, right away, and without arguing! I demand, yes I said demand, immediate obedience. “No I don't want to tell you why I want you to pick up your room, just do it!” I know that it might not conform to societies standard, but I have learned a lot in my 20+ years in daycare and my years of being a mom.
Kids want rules and structure. Does that mean a tight schedule where everything is planned out? No, that means basic rules and consequences, with follow through! From day 1, there are rules. There are punishments. It is my job to make sure BOTH happen.
Child psychology will tell you that from birth, a child wants to feel safe. If you don't keep them safe from harming themselves, they won't trust you to keep them safe from the rest of the world. That's what rules mean to a child. Yes, most of this is subconsciously. So, this translates to rules and punishments, done consistently.
Immediate obedience, if a child is running into the street and a car is coming, you want them out of it immediately. Do want to take the time to discuss why? When a child learns immediate obedience, you can keep them safe first. If you want to teach them the why's, teach them to ask, AFTER they have shown the obedience part!

Another top rule I have, Do all things J.O.Y.-fully! That stands for Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. It has an extra meaning of nicely, without complaint as well. But when their behavior or attitude is showing signs of not good, I just ask, “Are you doing/ speaking with JOY?” That is usually all I need to say to correct the behavior.
While these basic rules are usually enough to keep things good around here, sometimes it is not enough. Then comes the spoon. Yes, I hit/ spank my kids with a spoon. Would my hand work? Yes. Wouldn't my hand be softer? Yes. Wouldn't my hand be less threatening? NO!! My kids know when they have pushed the limits too far and that they are getting a spanking, they can see the spoon in my hand. If I used my hand all the time, what would they think when I was coming in for a hug or to wipe something off their clothing? They might be scared that I was going to hit them. I don't want them to fear me, just fear the spoon. They know what it takes to get a spanking from it! It also has another effect, I only have to ask, “Do I need to get the spoon out?” and the behavior quickly corrects! So, how often do I use the spoon? Probable less than 1 time per month. I might take it into my hand, tap the counter with it for attention, and then lay it back down again, about 1 time a week.
Why do I not have to use my spoon more often? Because they know that my rules are there to keep them safe and to teach them how to be Godlike men. I use all kinds of punishments; nose in the corner, no TV, no bike, no toys, early bedtime, more schoolwork, and of course bible verses. I like using the bible verses for most “crimes”. They have to look up and find 5-10 verses on a subject like lying or fools. Then they have to write them down, the whole verse and where it's found. If that isn't enough to correct the behavior, each might get written 10 times. By then, it should be memorized. If not, write it 10 more times!
My kids also know that punishments are far worse if crimes are witnessed by others or done outside the home. They know that as a homeschool family and former travel family, that we can be judged more by others. CPS and family court judges might be more likely to THINK we are not good parents because we have less roots than other families. Some officials also like to think that homeschoolers are just too lazy to get their kids to school everyday, that's why they claim to homeschool, that there is no “real” schoolwork going on. My kids do school work and they do learn.

Now, some ideas and thoughts about family time. 

These are just my opinions and thoughts, don't take offense or feel judgment when it is not intended. (Disclaimer now posted!)

While my boys are perfect, they are good kids. Some say they are one of the best behaved kids around. They still push the limits, and get into trouble. We strive to teach them based on their mistakes and improve their behavior. I think homeschooling has allowed us to spend more time together that we have been able to catch the behavior problems early on and to start correction faster. I wish more families made the choice to spend as much time together as possible. I know some families feel the need for 2 incomes or are single parents, but what about the times your not at work? Do the kids really need more than 1 extra activity per week that cuts into that family time? Do they need a TV in their room to watch their shows while your in the other watching yours? We have only 1 TV in the whole house. Everything gets DVR'd so we can watch appropriate shows with our kids, and save the rest for after they go to bed. Yes, we might not get to watch “our” shows until 3 weeks later, but we also know what our kids are watching all the time. Do you sit down together at every possible meal together? We do! My kids always sit at the table for meals, we do have special occasions when we eat in the living room while watching TV. Yes we eat with the TV on sometimes, we hung it up on the wall with a swivel mount for that purpose. But we are still doing it together.
What about the household chores/ tasks, how are they going to get done if we are spending all that time with our kids? Well, we do tasks together! The kids help with the laundry, they bring down a load to go in the washer, I am pulling the load out of the dryer. They carry it up to our room for folding and start folding. I finish switching the loads and go join them in folding. When they were younger and couldn't fold much, they helped sort and matched up socks for me to fold.
What about the weekends? Do you have so many activities planned that you are just a taxi service or is the whole family involved? Do you plan anything special for your family or does everyone just do their own thing? Yes the kids are going to want to play with their friends and ride their bikes, especially if they are so busy during the week with school, activities and homework. But do you limit their time for the sake of family time? Make a rule of 1 sleepover a month, whether at your house or at a friends. Then make plans for 1 family activity per weekend, whether on Saturday or Sunday after church. Maybe it family movie night with homemade pizza (made together of course), or frozen pizza and ice cream sundaes. An afternoon water balloon fight on a hot day followed by everyone cleaning up together might be fun. A snowball fight after a snowfall or a Nerf gun fight is good inside or outside depending on weather. Make paper airplanes and fly them around the room, younger kids can help decorate them.
Get some glow in the dark paint, a small funnel and a cheap clear ball. Put some pain inside the ball and swirl it around. Now charge it up under a lamp and after dark, go play kickball, catch or with older kids, dodge ball! The next weekend since you have the paint, tape some shapes on their bedroom walls and paint some designs. You'll all have fun that night looking at it after dark when your tucking them in for the night.
What about bedtime? Do you “tuck” them in every night? Do all the parents in the house participate? Growing up, my father didn't, we gave him a kiss while he sat in his chair watching HIS shows or reading the paper. My mom would tuck us in but by the time I was around 5th grade or so, there wasn't much of that anymore. My boys are 5th and 6th grade age now and we still BOTH tuck them in. They want it and can get emotional if daddy fell asleep on the couch and might not make it to tuck in time! (Poor Marty gets up around 3:30am for start getting ready for work and tends to be very tired by 9:30pm.) When on vacation and all the kids were in 1 room, we tucked them all in.
I'm no expert and I am not judging anyone, I am just giving you an insight into our lives and asking you questions to make you think. I try to learn new things all the time and I am an information gatherer. I “feed” off of information and believe that the more I know the better decisions I make. I love new ideas and like to share my ideas. I don't want you to feel like you have to do the same but I hope it inspires you. Look at your life and decide if something might work for your family.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I Love Containers!!!

Most who know me have found out I LOVE containers. Boxes, tubs, jars and baskets just to name a few. I might not be the neatest person, but I like to "contain" my clutter. I went shopping on Sunday afternoon with my son, Ryan. We went to Goodwill, Tuesday Mornings, Cost plus World Market and Pier 1. We had the best luck at Tuesday Mornings. I found the perfect box for what I wanted. The townhouse we live in is great, but the bathroom is not laid out ideally. I like to keep my feminine products near the commode and trash, that means keeping them in the open. So, Ihave been looking for the perfect container to house these items and found it!I now can keep these within reach. Yes I have lots of variety, I get samples and keep stocked up based on sales!

Speaking of bathrooms, what about TP? I have a couple of solutions. the first one I did for our bathroom was someplace to keep a few rolls in reach and a place to keep the reading materials. (We all have reading material in the bathroom!) I found a wicker magazine rack at a yard sale. It holds what I need it to and looks good doing it! Then the 1/2 bath, only need TP but easily found by guests. I found this tall metal flower can to work perfect.
The boys bath, their sink is close enough to keep it under that. Then came the stock-pile TP
storage, I am known to have lots when I find a good deal I stock up! The kids moved this need up the priority list when they ripped the packaging to shreds and left a pile of TP sitting in the hall. We don't have a linen or storage closet in this place. At Goodwill I found this box, no lid but it will work for the open shelves we have in our hall upstairs. I did find some great Plastic wicker containers at Tuesday Mornings after I found this one. I decided this would work just fine for what I wanted and it was only $3.00, so a great bargain!

 Now, since I was covering my favorite storage solutions, I thought I would share a few more! For those neat little laundry drop-in's, you can never get the bag to "zip" back closed and when less than 1/2 full they like to fall over. I bought this plastic container at Walmart in the food storage aisle. It holds 4 or more bags of the drop-in's and/or will hold the powder later on if I want. A word about the powder, when you store it in the box it comes in, it clumps or the kids spill it easily when helping. The container has a locking lid, so it reduces those risks.

 I even have a tub that I keep light bulbs in. Never worry about them dropping out of their packages, getting smashed when something gets stacked on them, and the kids can bring you the tub while not touching them. (The oils on your hands can make them burn out faster.)

 Next to the open shelves upstairs, I have a small chest. Andy has lots of medical supplies that he doesn't use on an everyday basis but he needs to be able to get to them. Also the first aid kit, ace bandages and medical gloves can take lots of room on a shelf, and look disorganized. All this stuff has found a home in this chest.

Another storage solution I have, those "over-the-door" shoe organizers. Mine has everything from peperoni packages and muffin mixes to bags of pasta and Ice Cream mix in it. But the best part, the bigger pockets at the bottom hold granola and protien bars for the boys. They can not only reach, but they can see in to choose. Any snacks that are for them, I put in the bottom pockets. I also keep gum and breath mints in upper pockets to grab on the way out the door for church or long car rides.

So, there you go. Some of my storage solutions and maybe an idea or 2 for you. If you have any other ideas, or need some ideas, let me know. I enjoy finding solutions!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How we do Back-to-School Photo's and Home Schooling!!

Everyone has been posting their back to school photos for the last few weeks. I don't have any since we home school. The boys have their assignments, they take care of their work on their own, and ask for help when needed. We "teach" more on the fly, when the opportunity and location is presented, our classroom is the world.
This morning, Ryan had his work done and is back outside riding his bike. Andy is a bit slower, he slept in later, so he is still working on his work. They both have done their bible studies and some chores are already done. We'll work on making lunch soon and then enjoy spending the day together.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy seeing the back to school photos and yes we are missing out on some of that. But what I do get????? All day with my boys and I wouldn't have it any other way! So, here are our Back to School photos.

Yes, we like to have fun. We might have Nerf gun fights..... I win alot since they tend to bring me all the bullets! I find an educational experience in everything. Nerf, hand eye coordination and awareness of surroundings, comes into play when they learn to drive! Lego construction; building a strong foundation, following directions, and other physic's lessons. Even riding a bike has lessons to learn; rules of the road, awareness and avoiding accidents (or thinking fast!)
We go to the store and learn price comparison, price per unit and other math. Standing in a line we learn patience, thoughtfulness of others. We learn time management skills and project planning skills from the independence I give them. (They plan out how to get their work done and still play outside before it gets too hot!)
Going to church we learn that God is with us always and we must always behave as if today is Judgment Day. We will have to answer for our actions, the good as well as the bad.
We can learn from anywhere and everywhere if we just look for the opportunities. Ok, getting off my soap box now! I love my days with my boys. They always want hugs, they would never go to sleep at night if I didn't still tuck them in. I love watching the joy on their faces when they figure out something, or complete a hard assignment. I get to hear their conversations, and hear them tell each other that they love them. I get to be the first one they ask questions of, and am able to decide if it is something they need to know yet or should they be older!

I hope you get a chance to find those moments with your children, even if you send them to public school. Look for the fun and the educational times. Enjoy them, the kids will not stop growing up. And one day, they'll be gone!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our Vacation!!

Yea, life is still going on and keeping me from posting more updates! LOL

So, we have been having some fun the last week. We packed up last Tuesday and hit the road by 6:30am on Wednesday morning. Headed up to Chama New Mexico, through some rain and lots of elevation changes, gas mileage went from 300 miles a tank to only 160 mile a tank. We pulled in around 8:30pm Mountain time. Not a bad drive, just long!
Got everything unpacked and settled in at our friends home. The kids bounced off the walls for awhile and then settled down to sleep. The parents sat up talking til after 1am! The next morning the kids were up and ready to go by 7am.... not the parents!
Had a great time visiting, exploring the sites, enjoyed some great food and even all went out to dinner 1 night! Monday morning rolled around with sad faces and breaking hearts.... it was time to pack up and start heading for home. The rounds of good byes had some tears and then we were off around 10am.
We had decided to make a few stop and see things on our way home, we didn't feel like rushing. We also planned on finding a hotel and spending the night somewhere around 1/2 way. So, the 1st stop we decided was a truck stop, to buy a power inverter, to be able to charge the tablet's that were keeping the boys entertained!
Then around 6pm, we stopped at The Cadillac Ranch. It's just west of Amarillo, TX and has 10 Cadillac's 1/2 buried in the ground, standing on end. These cars are covered in spray paint. You are allowed to be creative and graffiti the cars. It was a really neat site if you stopped to look at where the paint had changed the texture and stopped the rusting/ weathering of these cars. I had a lot of fun taking some neat pictures. Yes, somewhere along the years I have always gotten a kick out of taken pictures of textures. There are more pictures at the end of this post!

After that stop we decided to head for the Giant Cross and we thought we would find a hotel near there. The Cross and the display around it were amazing. The kids really enjoyed it. There is a gift shop, but the selection is limited to general religious items and had very few souvenirs for their location. I also was disappointed in their prices, a CD of the builder talking about the Cross was $20. Too much for so little. They also only had about 4 other items for souvenirs, none very good and priced very high. Anyway, I got some pictures just before the sun went down, we went into the gift shop before they closed, then took a few more after dark.
We then decided since it was after 8pm, it was time to find a hotel and dinner. Well, we ended up not finding a hotel until 10 pm, dinner was McDonald's... not very good one. There is not anything around the Cross, so if you want to go, do what we SHOULD have done, plan on staying in Amarillo for the night.
We got up late this morning, Marty around 7:45am, me around 8am and last up was Andy around 8:30am. Went down and got some breakfast and was back on the road by 10am. We drove through town and by an old Route 66 gas station/ restaurant that was refurbished by 2003, and was the basis for Ramon's car paint shop in the Disney Car's movie. It is listed as a historical place and now is used to house a museum and the local Chamber of Commerce. This is in Shamrock, TX.
We continued our drive home, with lots of gas stops as the gas mileage seemed to drop the whole trip! Stopped in Denton to grab some lunch and made it home around 3pm. It's not 6pm, and I already have the second load in the washer, Marty has washed the bugs off the car and the kids have ridden their bikes some. The plans for the rest of the night is to eat some dinner and watch some TV before the kids go to bed early.

Marty is back to work tomorrow at 6am, and then we have church in the evening. Everything is going to be back to normal and the usual activities. I'll check in later this week, or I'll try to! Today's post was a quick one, and an excuse to post some of the pictures I took. I hope you enjoy!

Don't forget to keep scrolling down to see more photo's!

More texture photos.