About Me

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Like all of you, I'm a number of things to a number of people...Navy wife, homeschooling mama, educated woman and aspiring writer. Read my thoughts on all of it here. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on all of it too!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 30

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Today is the last official day of 30 Days of Thankfulness.  That doesn't mean that you or I have to stop being thankful.  So keep at it.  The next few weeks are often a combination of excitement and stress for many people.  Try to find the time to be thankful for what you have and even what you don't.  Chances are good that if you look around you, you probably have more than you need.  I know I do.
In fact, that's what I'm thankful for today...that we have all we need, more than we really need.  I hope I can keep sight of that during the holiday season when the kids are attracted to bigger and better toys everywhere they turn.  I'm sure they're a few years from recognizing that they've got a good life...so I'll try to keep it fresh in my mind for them!
Jace is thankful for himself.
Gracie is thankful for M&M's.
Tyler's thankful for me. 
I have to say I agree with all of their thankful things too!  And here's a quick list of all the other things I've been thankful for this month.  If you're counting I missed one day!  I was at the movies with friends that night...and I'm thankful for that time away.
-cuddly kids
-beautiful fall weather
-being a supportive wife
-mindless TV
-old and new friends
-relaxing days with no commitments
-massages, and other soothing and relaxing things
-the military
-my sisters
-Scott spending a night in bed next to me
-potato chips and ice cream
-well-behaved kids
-extended family
-the chance to homeschool
Thanks for tagging along. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 29

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Jace is thankful for Kick Buttowski, a favorite cartoon where the main character is a dare devil, currently one of Jace's possible career paths.
Gracie is thankful for things that make us healthy, like chewy vitamins.
Tyler is thankful for me...I think it's a game now.  He's not thankful for Dada, only Mama (giggles).
I'm thankful for faith...with all it's assurances, questions, uncertainty, love...especially the love.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 27 and 28

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It's definitely not that I wasn't thankful yesterday, that's why I didn't post.  In fact I was very thankful...I got a night out with a few friends.  We went to the movies and out for snacks and chit chat after.  It was a great couple of kid-free hours.  I was out having fun during my normal blogging hours and that's why I didn't post yesterday. 
Today I'm back home and we had a nice family dinner.   We lit our advent candle for the day and talked about hope (which is rather tricky to explain to kids) and what we're thankful for. 
Jace is thankful for Dada, who takes him hiking, and his new sour gummy vitamins.
Gracie is thankful for food, so we can live, and candles and fire, so we can have light and stay warm when there's no electricity.
Tyler is thankful for me, Jace and Gracie.  However, he did stick his tongue out at Jace and blow a raspberry at him across the table after saying he was thankful for him.  Brotherly love, I guess!
I'm thankful for inspiration and the ability to see it every now and then.  I'm sure I've missed quite a bit through the years, but I try to recognize intangible gifts and be thankful for them when I do notice.

Friday, November 26, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 26

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You might be wondering the same thing as the kids..."Thanksgiving is over, why do we still have to be thankful?"  The easy answer is that we're participating in 30 days of thankfulness and we're only on day 26.  The longer answer is that it's nice to be thankful.  Wouldn't it be nice to think of something you're blessed with each and every day?  The kids didn't think so.  And, after a few more days, I'll stop posting my daily thanks on here.  But I do think it's nice to remind myself of all the things in my that are great and good in my life.  I might continue that privately and let you in on a few of the good ones!
But for today...
Tyler is thankful for water.  Gracie is thankful for babies (real ones and dolls).  Jace is thankful for sparkling cider.  I gotta say that I'm pretty thankful for all three too! 
Officially, though, I'm going to say that I'm thankful for the chance to homeschool.  Gebel Family Homeschool is great for our family...weird, huh?  LOL  It's like it's made to fit! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 25

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Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Jace is thankful for the Mythbusters marathon on TV today. 
Gracie and Tyler are both thankful for her toy phone, which, as you may imagine, means a little arguing.  I don't know why, though...there are at least two other toy phones roaming around.  Kids will be kids!
Scott is thankful for Thanksgiving.  And I agree.  I'm also thankful for my extended family.  As a traditionally family oriented holiday, it's appropriate to think about parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews, aunt and uncles, cousins...the whole lot of 'em!  And of course, I miss them all.  For those reading that aren't relatives of mine or didn't already know, we're a military family and don't live near extended family.  We talk to them on occasion, email, facebook and send letters.  But we miss them too.  Love you guys!  I'm also thankful for the family that isn't with me any longer.  My grandparents were special people, as evidenced by the special people they left behind when they passed. 
So, to Thanksgiving and family, Mythbusters and toy phones...today I'll raise a glass of sparkling apple cider and say a little prayer of thanks. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 22, 23, and 24

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You might have thought I stopped being thankful, but that's not the case.  I've just been in the dark!  We had snow on Monday, which we were all thankful for!  The kids had a great time!  (Gracie was not, however, thankful that gymnastics got cancelled because of the weather.  On Tuesday, when karate was cancelled, Jace was not thankful for that either.)  Monday afternoon and night we got a lot, as in a lot of wind.  That knocked our electric out, along with several thousands of others in the county. 
We were out of power for 36 hours!  During that time, the kids and I were thankful for the snow, flash lights, natural gas (fire place and stove), and board games!  We really had a fine time.  But we were all thankful when the lights worked this morning!  Well, the kids cared less about the lights than the television, but they're thankful anyway.  I wanted to go one step further.  I noticed when the lights came on.  I was sleeping, mind you, but in the living room and heard a click that woke me.  I looked up and the cable box was just booting up (or whatever cable boxes do).  It was 5:36 am.  I am rarely awake at this time of day.  But I said a little thank you to those who must have been working through the night to give power back to those of us who'd had it knocked out.  With temps in the teens last night...thank you!
Today I'm thankful for my kids.  Not only have they been pretty good over the past few days, but they were really good today too, which we spent at a car dealership, the mall, and the grocery store.  It was a really long day, but we had fun with it and were glad to cuddle up in front of the Dukes tonight!  Now, if only we could get Dada home...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Few Changes

So, I've been playing with my blog design.  You may have noticed.  Maybe not.  Either way, let me tell you about the changes I've made.  Basically I removed some of the links from the side bar and added them in my new pages at the top.  Directly under the blog's title you see four little tabs that say will bring you to different places here at Live it.  Love it (or not).  Write about it.

"Home" will bring you to the most current posts.

"Our Navy Life" gives a little blurb about our lives as a Navy family.  I haven't put any links on there yet.  I'm still deciding what ones I want to add.

"Homeschooling" provides you with a short story about how and why we homeschool.  Those of you who know me are likely surprised that it's such a short story!  I figured I was writing pages and pages on here, so readers could always find out more if they wanted.  Or they could ask!  It also includes links to other blogs about homeschooling and to the unit reviews I've posted on here.

"Living Healthy" tells you a little about primal living and lists several other sites that can help you live primally, mind, body, and spirit. 

I hope you enjoy the little differences.  To some it may not seem like much.  I'm obviously not an expert in the world of technology.  I am excited, though, to have made a few little improvements.  Let me know what you think.

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 21

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Jace has no idea what he's thankful for tonight.  He's being a grump because we're watching the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on televsion and he's not impressed by the cute outfits and incredible dancing.
Tyler is thankful for me!  I love that he says that practically every night!  Earlier we watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and he was walking around singing, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I love you!"  So adorable!
Knowing what we're watching on TV, you might not be surprised that Gracie is thankful for dancing!
I'm thankful for Costco...it's a great place to waste an hour on the weekends!  Samples galore, toys to see, and a little shopping too! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 20

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Jace and Tyler are both thankful for ice cream, particularly peanut butter cup with cookie dough!
Gracie is thankful for fanciness!
Scott is not thankful for anything.  I don't think this is true...but I won't push it.  I think, at the very least, he's thankful for ice cream too!
I'm thankful for cookies dough wrapped in chocolate, BBQ Ruffles chips, and ice cream...we took today off from eating well!  YUM!

Friday, November 19, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 19

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Jace  "I'm thankful for myself today."
Me   "Really?  You're going with that?"
Jace  "OK.  And, my sidekick over there."
Me   "Tyler?"
Jace  "Yup, him."
Me    "And, why, may I ask, are you so thankful for yourself?"
Jace   "Because I'm going to be a famous stunt biker!"
Gracie - thankful for almond milk and Jace, "Because I love him!"
Tyler - thankful for Mama and Buzz Light again
Me - I'm thankful for libraries, and all that they offer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 18

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Jace - his motion detector

Gracie - her sparkly shoes

Tyler - his rawr light (a tiger flashlight)

Scott - for the prospect of sleeping in his own bed, in the dark, at night, next to me...

Me - "What Scott said!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 17

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I completely forgot to ask everyone what they're thankful for today.  I was just playing on facebook and saw a friend's status, where she said what she's thankful for.  So, you only get my thankfulness tonight.  And I'm thankful for silence.  There doesn't seem to be enough of it around sometimes.  And lately my thoughts have been quite active as well...which means there's not even silence in my head.  But when I do get it, I appreciate it more the older I get.  I think I understand why mom used to turn off the radio in the van sometimes.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 16

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Over half way through the month.  Just over a week from Thanksgiving.  Time sure flies...

Jace is thankful for Top Truck Challenge, which I'm going to assume is the show on TV right now...some 4 wheeler review show.

Gracie is thankful for nail polish.

Tyler - "I'm thankful for...um...YOU!" 

Scott - patience.

Me - I'm thankful for possibilities.

Monday, November 15, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 15

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Jace - books.  After all, he did tell me that reading is his job.  And, it turns out that he likes Little House on the Prairie.  That's the first book I've picked out for him that he's enjoyed!  (Can I get a little "woo hoo?")

Gracie - the computer. 

Tyler - cars.

Scott - his new memory foam mattress on his rack on the sub...he got five whole hours of sleep last night!  "And, actually," he says, "They (the people he works with who can't seem to do their jobs right) should be thankful.  If I'd woken up this morning grumpy, it would not have been pretty."

Annie - blankets.  I like feeling warm and it's getting a little cooler outside these days.  We're lucky enough to not only have heat and money to pay to use it, but blankets to cuddle in.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 14

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Gracie is thankful for cartoons today. 

Jace is thankful for Dukes of Hazzard.

Tyler is thankful for Buzz Lightyear, again.  I asked him if there was anything different he might be thankful for.  He said, "Hmmm...no.  Thankful Buzz Light." 

Scott didn't say what he was thankful for before leaving for work...but I'm sure it wasn't going into work.  Hopefully he's thankful for the time he got to relax at home this weekend. 

I'm thankful for my sisters. 

Jody, getting her 1st tattoo, corrupted by her younger siblings!

Mary and Lu, chilling at Jace's birthday party
I could write pages about what incredible sisters they are, but I'll try to keep it short and sweet.  It should be noted that we're three different generations.  Our ages span 15 years.   We're all mothers now, married and living our lives with the strength modeled by our parents.  We all have a little of Mom in us and a little of Dad.  We probably also have a little of each other...and I think our influence on each other will only grow as we do.  Not only are Mary and Jody sisters and friends, but they are inspirations to me.  I love them dearly.  And, for them, I am thankful.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 13

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Jace is thankful for the movie "Beer For My Horses," that we watched before, during, and after dinner tonight.  I know, quality TV for their still forming minds.
Gracie is thankful for hot dogs and hamburgers.
Tyler, like his sister but with his own twist, is thankful for cheesburgers and ketchup.
Scott is thankful for having a watch that tells him what day of the week it is.
And I am thankful for chocolate.  It really does make me happy. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Money Unit Review

This week we talked about money in homeschool.  The kids really enjoyed it.  It was an interesting unit, actually. 

We got a book from the library, The History of Money (Barbara A. Somervill), that was great for kids.  There were a lot of pictures and it didn't go too far into anything, but gave a very nice overview from bartering to the Euro. 

We also spent a good deal of time on a website that Mary (my little sister and member of our Gebel Family Homeschool Directors Board) suggested to me.  Planet Orange was succinct, informational, and fun!  We learned about budgeting, saving, and investing. 

Between the book and the web site we learned several new words to add to our growing dictionary (like mint, inflation, and interest).  We also talked about the ways we get, spend, save, and give money.  Our week also included a few activities.  We brainstormed names for money or words having to do with it.  I think moolah is their new favorite!  And Jace kept track of how much we were spending at the grocery store this week.  He was only $17 off at the end.  I didn't think that was bad, but he wants to do it again next week and see if he can do even better! 

All in all, it was a great week.  We changed out schedule because Scott's schedule was different, but I think they did really well with it.  I'm not sure if that's a result of it being something new, being on their best behavior so that Dada could sleep, or if they work better in the afternoon than the morning.  But we're going to keep working with it and see what happens!

How was your homeschooling this week?

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 12

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Tonight I remembered to ask the kids what they're thankful for.  Here's our list...
Gracie insisted on having two things, to make up for yesterday.  They are cheese and clothes, pretty clothes.
Jace - "Sandwiches.  That gave me the idea to make sausage and pancakes sandwiches.  They were good!"  That's what we had for dinner last night.  They were good!
Tyler - books
Me - I'm thankful for plumbers, and other skilled workers, who work hard to take care of the things we can't or don't want to.  I'm especially thankful when they're efficient and don't cost an arm and a leg!
I'm also thankful for the weekend.  Scott's worked some insane hours this week and I'm looking forward to having him home a little.  So are the kids.  They cheered when I said he should be around, and awake, on Sunday.  I can't ask him what he's thankful for today because he's at work still, going on 21 hours!  I hope he got a nap. 

Friday Fill-In #21

1.  Were you named after anyone?

I was.  Grandma Kral's name was Anna.  My name is Ann Marie.  That makes me smile.
2.  What color, if any, are your toenails usually painted?

Usually my toenails are not painted.  However I got a pedicure, including purple nail polish, for my brother-in-law's and sister-in-law's wedding.  Back in June.  There's still a touch of polish that hasn't grown out on my big toe...is that TMI (too much information)? 

3.  How do you flush a public toilet? Hands? Feet? Something else?

Most of the time with my foot.  That is unless Tyler gets there first!  He loves to flush for me!  He uses his hand.  Come to think of it, I'm glad he doesn't try to copy me and use his foot...that would probably end badly!
4.  When you were a little kid, which TV character did you have a crush on?

We watched a lot of dramas, things like Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Highway to Heaven.  There weren't many cute young kids to have crushes on.  But I do remember Boy Meets World...Cory Matthews was pretty darn cute! 

5.  Let’s say you had to lose one of your five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell). Which one would you choose? Why?

I hope I never have to choose.  If someone is torturing me to get information (I don't know anything worth torturing for, by the way) hopefully they'd choose.

So, now that you've read what I have to say...go get to know some other military spouses!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 11

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I totally forgot to ask the kids what they were thankful for tonight.  It might have something to do with going and going all day today.  Well, the morning started with some relaxing, playing, and a little schooling.  The kids were a bit bummed that we had to do school on a holiday.  They were also bummed that Dada wasn't home and/or awake so that we could go out to dinner.  But, as Scott said, "When your not yet a veteran you don't get the day off."  He's been working overnights that are at least 17 hours long! 
On that note...Scott's thankful for coworkers who look out for him and think they know what's best for him, even if he doesn't listen. 
I'm thankful for Scott, his coworkers, other submariners, others in the Navy, others in the Armed Forces, other who've been in the service....thankful for all of them!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 10

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So, I figured out what happened with my titles...I labeled two at day #7.  Whew!  Glad that's all taken care of.
On to today's thankful thoughts....
After Tyler asked if Dukes of Hazzard was on yet, Scott decided that today he's thankful that the children have such love for one of his childhood favorites. 
I'm thankful for laughter today.  There's nothing quite like a child's joy and I'm lucky enough to have it all around me.  Their laughter is contagious and makes me smile and giggle and belly-laugh too! 
Jace - thankful that he's a dork!  Me too, they're kind of endearing, don't you think? 
Tyler - Buzz Lightyear, again...maybe I'll have to rethink what we were going to get him for Christmas! 
Gracie - colors! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Does It Ever End?

In the midst of this thankful month...I'd like to share a few thoughts on housework. 

I don't like laundry and dishes.  Mostly I don't like the fact that they never end and stack up so quickly.  A few weeks ago we had a really busy week.  Along with being busy doing things other than laundry and dishes, we were still eating and wearing clothes.  This is what I saw one night:

dirty dishes

clean clothes
I eventually got everything cleaned up and put away.  But in the meantime, there was even more...it just never ends. 

So, what do I want to share with you about chores...I'm thankful that I have them, that I have the ability to complete them, and that Scott never judges when I don't.  I know some of you have probably had clothes piled high on the couch too and would never admit that out loud.  If that's you, you don't need to tell me, but try to hear what I'm saying...there's nothing wrong with that.  Life is about priorities and finding contentment, among other things, perhaps.  During that crazy busy week I still read to the kids and relaxed in front of the computer after they went to bed.  I could have taken those minutes to empty the dishwasher or fold clothes, but I didn't.  I'm good with that.  No guilt. 

Also, I'm not always so positive, but I try to be.  The gifts and blessing that have been given to me come with responsibility.  I like to think that anything worth doing has an upside and a down side.  My favorite example is sledding.  It's a thrill to go down that hill, with the crisp, cold wind in your face.  Then there's the walk back to the top.  Totally worth it.  It's the same with raising a family.  I'll gladly, although not always with a smile on my face, climb that hill again and again.  And again.

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 9

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Did I miss a day?  I thought I'd been pretty on top of things, but I just realized it's the 9th and I only have 7 Thankful posts...hmmm.  Oh well.  We're going to call this one day 9 and tell you what we're thankful for today.
Jace and Tyler are both thankful for fish sticks.  Yes, I asked during dinner.
Gracie is thankful for Dada.  She popped out with that earlier today, when we weren't even talking about Dada or being thankful.  Brought tears to my eyes. 
Dada says he's not thankful for anything.  Jace even offered a suggestion.  "Work?"  His response was clear, "No."  I softened it a little, saying he's probably thankful for work, just not this week. 
I'm thankful for things that soothe and relax.  I got a massage today.  I feel a little guilty that I got a massage while Scott was home with the kids after being at work for almost 24 hours.  He did not say anything about being left with the monkeys.  Good man (or just too tired to carry on a conversation). 

Monday, November 8, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 8

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Scott's not home yet.  I'm not sure if he'll be home tonight or not.  His overnights might start tonight.  He's probably thankful for something, but I'm sure it's buried deep down under the stress he's feeling.  Hopefully he's getting the help and cooperation he needs from his guys.  If so, I'd be thankful for that.
I'm also thankful for the Internet.  There's a lot I don't know and don't use online.  But I do love my blogging, facebook, the ease of email, and the ability to search anything anywhere.  We use it quite often in our homeschooling too, at least for research, if not games to play related to the topic we're talking about.  Who doesn't love to learn something without knowing that they're learning!?
Gracie - gymnastics
Tyler - chocolate (and he offered that up all on his own - so proud!)
Jace - "I'm thankful for Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.  After all, he makes The Dukes of Hazzard...The Dukes of Hazzard."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 7

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I didn't ask during dinner tonight.  Food is still high on the list of what we're thankful for. 

Jace - bacon wrapped shrimp

Gracie - cheese

Tyler - Buzz Light (that's how Tyler says Buzz Lightyear

Me - I'm thankful for relaxing days where I don't have to shower or even get dressed, really.  I love days that are spent vegging in sweat pants, cuddling with my kiddos.  I especially love those days when I don't have reason to yell, scold, or punish my kids in any way, or at least much!  Today was one of those days.  Scott was home for dinner and sadly I don't remember the last time that happened.  I even made cookies - yum!  I'm thankful for today.

Scott - I asked him, but I think he's tired of thinking, and probably just tired in general.  So, I'm going to put words in his mouth again.  I think he's thankful that he was home by dinner too.  Jace is reading over my shoulder...he agrees.

I hope you've had a day you're thankful for too. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 6

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Today I didn't get a chance to ask Jace what he was thankful for.  I decided to wait until after dinner so that maybe he'd be thankful for something other than food.  Whether he knows it or not, he's thankful that I sent him to bed early. 

Gracie - "I'm thankful for my friends."
Me - "Hey, that's what I was going to say!"
Gracie - "You can say that too.  We can be thankful for the same things."
Me - "Tyler, what about you?"
Tyler - "No, no...me no thankful my friends.  Cars movie.  Buzz Light movie."

And I am thankful for my friends...both old and new.  Love you guys!  

Added bonus...Scott made it home in time to put in his two cents.  He's thankful for restraint.  I'm guessing his division is as well, even if they don't know it.  Hopefully they'll put themselves to bed early this weekend and be on their best behavior next week. 

Help Wanted!

A few weeks ago I read a post on Finances: Your Way that got me thinking about the kids and money.  I've thought about this subject before but after this article I actually did more than think!  I asked questions of friends and family.  Scott and I discussed it.  I read some other takes, like this one with ideas from Dave Ramsey.  What I was looking for was a way for the kids to understand and respect money.  Here's what we settled on...

This is our "Help Wanted" sign.  It's on the door to our classroom/playroom/office/guest bedroom.  The kids go through that door several times a day, so they can see if money making opportunities are added.  I also let them know, once, if I add something.  Gracie can't read everything yet, so this way I'm sure that she knows what she can do. 

Recycling stays on there all the time.  Our recycling collects in the kitchen and at least once a day there's an arm load that needs to get taken downstairs to just outside the garage doors and get put into the bin.  If one of the kids does this task without being asked they make five whole cents!  Other things get added and after a day or two, if they haven't gotten done, then I do them and erase them.  Or the kids are asked to do them and not get paid.  Either way, you only make money off the help wanted poster if you complete a task without prompting. 

There are several chores that don't earn money.  Setting the table, helping to prepare and/or serve food, cleaning up afterward are all part of life, along with cleaning up toys and other little things I'm sure I'm forgetting. 

The kids keep a tally of how much they've made on the right hand side of dry erase poster.  When their earnings reach a dollar I give them one.  Gracie has earned her first dollar and is on the way towards her second.  Jace is moving a little slower, but that's OK.  They're both helping out more and getting a few cents for their work. 

I've also decided that their money is theirs to do what they want with, for now.  They see me give to charity, both in money and in material donations.  They see me spend.  And they hear about saving money for things we want in the future.  So, I feel pretty good about this step in teaching them more about money and being responsible with it. 

What do you do with your children to help them learn about money? 

Friday, November 5, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 5

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Jace - thankful for the person who came up with pancakes and sausage.

Tyler - pancakes

Gracie - her bunny

Scott - (I asked him last night, after he'd relaxed a little.)  "I'm thankful that stress doesn't cause ulcers."

Me - Today I'm thankful for mindless television.  I really like reality TV and I think what I like most about it is that it doesn't take much thought to tune in and be entertained.

I'm wondering if I should stop asking during dinner for Jace, or if he is just really thankful for food and all the people that invented it!  What do you think?

Friday Fill-In #20

1.  A different twist on last week’s question. This week, the first question is: what’s the nicest thing a MILSPOUSE has ever done for you? (brought to you from navy_smurfette)

Nothing jumps to mind, but I think the general caring of fellow milspouses is wonderful.  We've spent many a holiday with fellow milspouses.  I had chai with a new friend shortly after we arrived at our current command, which was a warm welcome.  Anything that reaches out to me, no matter how small, always helps smooth the roughness of not being near family that I'm related to by letting me know how close my military family is. 
2. How often do you drive faster than the speed limit?

Daily.  I'm not a speed demon, but I consistently drive a couple mph over what's posted.

3.  Did you have a nickname in school? If so, what was it?

Flower child!

4.  If your life was a book, what would the title be and how would it end?

Well, my blog is the story of my life right now...so perhaps I'd keep that title if it were an autobiography.  If, for some crazy reason, someone else was writing about me they might call it something else, like...hmmmm....Living Life With Love and Laughter.  That's what I try to do.  Anyone who knows me knows there's a healthy portion of tears involved too...but that wouldn't sell the story.  And often my emotions are wrapped up in my love and laughter!  How would it end?  Hopefully the story would tell of my long life, ending peacefully on this plane but living on through our incredible kids. 

5.  Look back (in your planner if you have one) to September 14th… what did you do that day?

On September 14th we were making our homeschool rocket during our study of space.  Can't beat that, can you? 

Don't forget to read what other milspouses have shared this week and post your own answers to join in the merriment!  (I usually say fun, but I'm getting into the holiday spirit!)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 4

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Gracie - She's thankful for me today.  Sweet girl.

Jace - He's thankful for the person who invented BBQ sauce.  I love how he's not thankful for things, but for the people that invented them!  His mind is incredible.

Tyler - He's thankful for trucks and cars.  I'm sure that's going to be his answer every other day of the wonderful 30 days.

Me - I'm thankful that I can be supportive of my husband, loving him and reassuring him while in sweat pants, wearing no make up or bra.  I know some women who enjoy greeting their men with lipsticked smiles and enjoy wearing something fashionable to boot!  I think that's wonderful.  However, by the time Scott gets home I'm thrilled that I'm able to be changed into something a bit more comfortable, and I'm not talking about anything slinky or lacey!  He might like to see me in a pair of jeans every now and then, but I think he'd probably also like to see day light from time to time too...and if he did, he'd get to see me in jeans!

Scott - I haven't even asked him, because he's not home yet, but I feel pretty confident in guessing he might be thankful that I greet him without a bra too! 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 3

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I can't seem to get this out of center, so center justification we will have!
Tonight I remembered to ask everyone. 
Jace - "Mud."
Gracie - "I'm thankful for my dress up clothes."
Tyler - "My guy and my truck."
Me - "You already said that.  Anything else?"
Tyler - "Mama!"  Then he ran to me and gave me the biggest, giggliest hug!
Me - "You thankful for anything tonight?"
Scott - "Nope."
Me - "Nothing, huh?"
Scott - "Nothing."
Perhaps I should stop asking after work.
Me - I'm thankful for the beautiful fall weather we're having that's giving up plenty of time outside to walk and play and enjoy! 
And you?

How Do You Do It: Parenting - Just Do It

So, it's been a few months since I wrote the first post on how I parent in my "How Do You Do It" series.  In that post I wondered if I needed to change.  I questioned if our strategies were too demanding, somehow told the kids they were loved conditionally, or were just completely wacky.  Here's what I've decided: - maybe sometimes, hopefully not, and probably!  Here's what I'm going to do about it - keep trying.

That's all I really can do, right?  Well, I guess I could opt out and run away, either physically or emotionally, and leave my children and husband wondering what in the world happened.  That doesn't feel like a real option though, at least not for more than an hour or two...then I need to put on my big girl panties, step up to the plate, think of a few of my favorite things and face the music.  In other words, perhaps there's no right or wrong.  Perhaps inspiration can be drawn from anywhere. 

Granted, beating my children is wrong.  Putting duct tape over their mouths may seem like a good idea sometimes, but it isn't, ever.  There are definitely some no-no's in parenting.  Those things really aren't parenting though.  But within the range of acceptable parenting, I think there are many strategies and styles that can be effective and loving. 

I'm sure my kids sometimes feel like I withhold love from them unless they behave a certain way.  I think all kids probably feel unloved from time to time.  In the end, though, as long as the focus of my parenting is loving them, I'm pretty convinced they'll be OK. 

In the last parenting post I talked about a book I'd read part of, Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting: Moving From Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason.  Since then I've gotten it again and re-read it.  I think it's a wonderful resource and gave me a lot to think about.  And I'm passionate about thinking.  Sometimes so much so that I over think things.  (I know...you're shocked!)  I really do believe, though, that thinking about how I parent is a great thing...for me and our kids.  It can only make me a better parent.  

However, there were a few things that kept coming to the surface for me while I read the book.  First, he was talking about how kids who are disciplined, either with rewards or punishments, may feel conditionally loved and how that can lead to all sorts of problems in childhood and beyond.  I can't speak to other people's childhoods, but mine was one that involved both reward and punishment.  I can tell you the last time I got a spanking.  I'm not sure it was the appropriate discipline, but I'm not willing to say it wasn't either.  I got the message, I'll tell you that much!  And I didn't feel unloved.  In fact there's a country song for this.  (Anyone who knows me well is probably smiling.  "There's a country song..." is my version of, "One time, at band camp...") 

Daddy's Hands (this version is by Dolly Parton and Holly Dunn) is a beautiful song that explains how children might not understand in the moment, but can in the long run, that their parents love them unconditionally.  "Daddy's hands weren't always gentle but I've come to understand...there was always love in Daddy's hands."  I know my parents love me, then and now.

Then there's Danny Tanner...many a lesson was learned from him and all the trouble his family got into!  I remember one episode when DJ had done something.  I don't remember what, though.  She was anxiously awaiting some horrible punishment.  Instead, Danny told her how disappointed in her he was and had her go to her room to think about it.  Alfie Kohn states in his book that sending the kids to time out or to their rooms, or walking away from them, is a way of withholding your love.  I don't think any of those Tanner kids were unloved!  And DJ learned her lesson, I'm sure.  Since I don't remember what she did I don't know what lesson she learned...but every episode came with a lesson!

The other thing that jumped at me from the book is that there's no formula to follow.  I wanted that!  I was looking for the following blanks to be filled in:
  • When you're trying to keep child B calm while she gives a vile of blood and child C is repeatedly ringing the bell (ding, ding, ding, ding) and child A is egging him on, you should __________.
  • When child A whines every time you ask him to do anything, you should _________.
  • When child B slams her door and stomps her feet, you should _________.
You get the idea.  I really wanted that.  I wanted to have a book that I could go to and flip open to page 462 when looking for advice on wiping a 7-year-old's rear or page 36 when not knowing what to do about 5-year-olds who wake up repeatedly throughout the night.  I thought that's what I wanted.

But, that might have been me thinking too much.  Because, you know what?  I've handled all these situations without a directory of parenting methods to turn to.  And I love my kids.  Jace may say that I'm one of the strictest parents in Washington state, but he'll also tell you I'm not the strictest in the World.  I don't know where he draws the line, but I've learned that he's usually right.  So, I'm apparently doing OK, at least on a world scale.  And even if I am strict, I love my kids! 

So, I'm glad I read the book.  It has brought about some changes.  I have begun questioning if behaviors are signs of a problem we can solve together or something that just needs to be dealt with.  There are some situations that I still don't have answers for.  And that's just fine.  Parenting isn't science, nor is it abstract art.  It probably falls someplace in the middle.  So, I'm going to say it's kind of like exercise.  There are lots of ways to work it out and changing it up now and then can result is excellent progress.  So, lace up your shoes and just do it*! 

*I don't know what's kosher or not about using Nike's slogan, so I want to be sure to give credit where credit is do.  They thought of it, not me!  By the way, did you know it's been around for over 20 years?  Wow!

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 2

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I forgot to ask last night what everyone was thankful for.  Our day was a little different than the typical Tuesday and it slipped my mind!  But I asked first thing this morning and they offered what they were thankful for last night.

Jace - "Last night I was thankful that you let me stay up late."
Gracie - "Yesterday I was thankful for my Polly Pockets!"
Tyler - "My truck and my guy."
Scott - I didn't ask him, but I'm going to say that he's thankful for a comfy bed and a wife who'll rub his back!
Annie - Lately I've been noticing all the leaves that have changed color here.  At the end of the street there's one with bright red leaves and they're now falling onto the stone below them.  The backs of the leaves are such a pale pink, with such vibrant red fronts.  The whole scene is very pretty and I just feel content every time I see it.  That makes me thankful....I guess for nature.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween (and more) Unit Review

Yesterday was Halloween!  We took a break before the end of our Simple Machines Unit to have some fun with and learn about Halloween.  And, as it turns out, there are a few other holidays that fall right around now that are part of other cultures that we're not.  We talked about them too! 

That's our homemade scarecrow.  Scott says he's not all that scary.  Probably true, but he was a lot of work.  We didn't use straw or corn stalks.  He's stuffed with weeds from the back yard.  When I brought them into the basement there might have been some spiders that came along for the ride.  That meant screaming and jumping.  Craziness!  But we succeeded in working together to make a fun decoration.  That's what it's all about in the end.

(Just a note about the pictures: You'll notice that Jace is in his pajamas and Gracie's in a dress.  This is typical.  Gracie likes to "look cute all the time" and Jace will stay in his PJ's until he has to change into clothes!  They keep me smiling!)

We read a book called Ghost Wings, by Barbara M. Joosse, that talked about Day of the Dead, or El Dia de Los Muertos, from the library.   In our culture talking about those that have gone before us can be taboo.  I know I've gotten a little flack for taking our kids to funerals, even though Scott and I felt it appropriate.  Day of the Dead is a holiday that celebrates the people who have died.  Family and friends remember them, talk about them, eat their favorite foods, play music they enjoyed, and they may even do all of this at their grave.  I got a special kick out of that twist!  When I was younger my mother mowed the church cemetery and at times i had to go along with her.  I used to play among the stones and practice my flute there.  It's a peaceful and pleasant memory for me, although it raises some eyebrows when I share it.  Perhaps if I were in Mexico people wouldn't think twice! 

A friend loaned me a book, Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions, by Joyce and River Higginbotham.  It talked a little about Samhain.  This festival celebrates the end of summer and the change into winter along with honoring the dead.  I'm sure there's more to it, but that's as far as we went into it.  We talked a lot, with both of these holidays, about the concept of remembering people who have died before us.  Fortunately, the kids haven't lost anyone they've been close to.  They remember bits and pieces about great grandparents that have died, but mostly we ended up talking about pets.  That works too.  Right?

We also covered All Saint's Day, from what I remembered.  Sadly, I'm sure they didn't take as much from that discussion.  Although, Gracie did ask if I was a saint because "making something for dinner that everyone likes is like a miracle, right?"  I smiled and truly appreciated that she recognized that!  I told her we'd have to wait until I died to find out, but that I probably wouldn't be a saint in anyone's eyes but hers.  Love her!

And, of course, Halloween.  We read several fun books from the library.  I've already taken them back, sorry!  But I know there was an alphabet one, one of poems (Hallowilloween, Calef Brown), and a few others.  We also read about the history of trick or treating, jack-o-lanterns, and dressing up on a few websites.  (History of Halloween and Halloween History)

We had a fun time with all this, at least I did!

Simple Machines Unit Review

We started talking about simple machines a few weeks ago.  I expected it to be a two week unit.  However, life got in the way and we're just finishing it this week.  Most of last week we studied Halloween and connected holidays (more about that in the next review).  Back to simple machines...

We got the following books from the library:

Ancient Machines: From Wedges to Waterwheels, Michael Woods and Mary B. Woods
First Science Experiments: Mighty Machines, Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone
Experiments With Simple Machines, Salvatore Tocci
Starting With Science: Simple Machines, Deborah Hodge

The last three books covered a lot of the same material and had similar experiments in them.  There were several we didn't do, but we did have some fun with levers, pulleys, inclined planes, and wedges. 

Sorry, I didn't take many pictures this go 'round.  Aside from experiments and reading we also added several words to our growing dictionary.  Aunt Mary suggested that we build a Rube Goldberg machine, but we didn't.  Jace would have loved it, but I'm not ready for that yet.  Perhaps in a year or two.  We did talk about them, though, and look at some of them here.  I was going to have Jace fill out this around the house worksheet, but he naturally did it on his own, without me supplying him with blanks to fill in.  I still think it's a great tool, though.  Maybe you can use it! 

And, that's about it, folks.  We really enjoyed this unit, especially learning about the difference periods of history all over the world.  I, for one, had no idea that the Stone Age was at different times for different cultures...I guess you learn something new every day, especially when you're a teacher.

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 1

So, I got a little jump start yesterday...but today 30 Days of Thankfulness really starts!  Mama Loves Papa came up with the great idea to post something each day this month that she (Mama) is thankful for.  Then she invited us to join her...now I'm extending that invitation to you!  If you don't have a blog, leave a comment on each of my posts sharing what you're thankful for.  C'mon...you know ya wanna! 

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Today's thankful things:

Jace - "I'm thankful for the guy, or woman, who invented engines."
Gracie - "I'm thankful for my dolls and doll clothes."
Tyler - "Me more cars and racetrack and guy in." (Translation - Tyler's thankful for his racetrack, the cars that go on it, and his Handy Manny race car.)
Scott - "Thankful for patience."
Annie - "I'm thankful for kids who like to cuddle.  Sometimes I want to ask them to go away.  Sometimes I actually do tell them to give me space.  But, at the end of the day, I love them and am thankful they (for some unknown reason) can't seem to get enough of me."