Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Everyone seems to have a fundraiser these days. My sons are in boy scouts so of course we're selling popcorn right now. Want some? I have also recently been sold magazines and cookie dough by my relatives. I know there will be at least one more sell by relatives this year. A few weeks before Christmas, I will be asked to buy (and of course I will) a poinsettia from a lady who works with H. In the Spring, girl scout cookies take over. I'll be selling those too. Everyone has a fundraiser from schools to organizations to sport teams to gyms. A few years ago, the local gymnastics school my girls attended sold candles!!! Who wants to have a fundraiser for a gym that you already pay high membership rates too? I refused to sell that one.

I have to say, some fundraisers are better than others. Our local FFA club will place a flag in your yard 6 times a year on certain holidays as a fundraiser. That's pretty cool. You wake up on the 4th of July and there's a large flag in your yard. In fact, all up and down the street, the yards are displaying flags. That's a good one. Others, not so much. I won't name names, but I'm sure you've had some that were just useless items.

The biggest problem is that everyone is over sold now so it is harder for the kids to sell. The United Way is fund raising right now along with the boy scouts and in a couple of weeks, the girl scouts will sell nuts. That's three major sells at the same time. Add in all the school fundraisers and the organizations and you're talking a lot of money on products worth less than half of their cost. I'm not saying don't buy. I support the causes for many of these fundraisers and am happy to contribute to some kids experiences with some worthwhile organizations.

What about the prizes though? For many of these fundraisers, the kids win cheap plastic junk. They are so excited to sell $500 worth of product so they can win a $2 whistle. Wat's the deal with that? We turn the kids into little "gimme" monsters who cry if you don't buy something because they really want that whistle. I have to say, the prizes my kids are shooting for are better. Our kids actually make 10% of what they sell in gift cards! Now that's a prize I'd sell for. The kids don't have to get excited over a whistle. Instead they get to be greedy over cash! My kids really love selling this stuff and are excited about the money they know they're making, but I have to wonder what lessons we're teaching them.

So, this year, have fun with the fundraisers and buy something from the cute little kids at your door, especially if they're mine!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


A few nights ago, I had the privilege of seeing a beautiful rainbow. We could see almost the entire thing. It stretched from one side of the sky to the other. In fact, as we watched, a second rainbow appeared. It became a double rainbow. Both rainbows were fully visible. We watched for a few minutes with all the kids. Rainbows truly are reminders of God's love for us. On the way home, I was able to use this experience as a teaching moment. We discussed what makes a rainbow appear. We discussed who made the rainbow and why. It was a great opportunity. The next time you have the opportunity to watch a rainbow, get your kids outside to see it too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Special Needs Children

Special Needs is a category used to label children with any number of medical, physical, emotional or other problems. The child's special needs are more than just therapy or medicine though. They are a lifetime of every situation, location, vacation, daily life. Everything can be a special need for this child. I have three children who technically fit this category. G1 and G2 are the most severe. G1 is a constant job. She is adorable and sweet and loving. She is also living in her own world for much of the time. This afternoon, we went to the grocery store. She didn't want to go. She was hungry. As we walked up and down the aisles, she became more and more difficult. She would hide around the next aisle. She would drop down in the middle of the aisle and scream. She would pull away from us when we tried to hold her hand. Things got worse as we neared the checkout. She ran from us several times and B2 had to drag her back. When we finally made it to the checkout, she wouldn't stop touching the candy and items on the aisle. I told her to stop and that was the last straw for her. She took off running, squeezing past two people in front of us and ran to the front door. Now this was at Walmart, not exactly the best place to have a runaway child. I sent the boys after her because I couldn't fit as easily. I turned around and told H she was heading out the door and took off too. I caught up with the children at the door. B2 was dragging her back towards me. H decided he would check out without me so I took 3 of the kids out to the car. I didn't let go of her hand the whole way. She screamed and pulled. I practically drug her to the car. After buckling her in, we had a talk and some hugs.

It's scary raising a special needs child. In this case, her medicine had worn off and she had no control of herself. It would be nice to say this is a one time event, but it's not. We experience this kind of thing often. The other people around us were staring at us as if we had no control over our kids. Others don't understand what it's like to have these problems day in and day out. No one bothered to stop this little 5 year old girl who nearly ran into a busy parking lot. All they did was stare and accuse us with their looks. This is the kind of thing many parents of special needs kids go through on a daily basis. So the next time you see an out of control child at the store. Or see one running towards a busy parking lot. Offer to help out. Or at least understand that the parent might just be doing everything they can. Raising a special needs child is a lifetime event. The parent may never be finished raising the child. The child may never grow out of these behaviors. Special needs encompasses every aspect of the child's life and the lives of those around them. So show your support the next time you see one. The parents will appreciate it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Okay. My third daughter and 5th child is, well, she's her own person. This evening, while I was preparing supper, I glanced out the window. Guess what I saw? My little 4 year old girl was on the roof of our shed! I didn't panic. I calmly walked outside and helped her off the roof. She had climbed up a metal trellis on a smaller shed and climbed onto the big shed from the roof of the first one. I brought her inside and continued fixing supper. A few minutes later, supper was ready. H went to find G3 because she wasn't coming to the table. I heard him exclaim, "Oh No!". So I went to check things out. B1, who definitely knows better, had left a pair of scissors within her reach. She had proceeded to cut her hair, AGAIN! There is a huge chunk missing from the side of her head. Luckily she left enough to mostly cover her head there. She also removed a portion of her bangs forcing me to cut the rest. This is not the first time she has cut her hair. It isn't the second or even the third. That is why I lock up all scissors in my house. I installed a lock on a drawer just for her. This drawer contains the markers, glue and scissors. The pair at fault this time is kept safely put away in my room. This is the pair that B1 borrowed earlier and failed to put up. So once again, I have the pleasure of a lovely haircut on my beautiful little girl. Who knows what we will discover next.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bad Mood

I am in a bad mood today. I have no real reason for this, just a few minor problems. They have caused me to take everything hard today. OK, caused is probably too strong a word. Nothing can cause me to be in a bad mood, but some things help. So what am I reacting too? My kids. They have also not been having a good day. I don't know if their bad day is because of me or completely separate. They are not doing as they should though. My girls dumped out a large bag of crayons. These are now scattered all over my house. Not only that, but several walls are a new color. There are wavy lines and squiggles drawn on several walls. I know, I should have my kids clean this off. Unfortunately, they lack the skills to remove the crayon. They can't rub hard enough, or just don't understand how hard they need to, to remove it.

There are also dirty pull-ups all over my house. Three of my kids still sleep in them. They don't want to throw them away so they don't. Sometimes I find them inside their pajamas. Sometimes I find them hidden behind other objects. The current favorite hiding is behind the toilet or in the bathtub. They have also been known to put them in other people's clothing drawers and under beds. It would take less time to just throw them away, but then I might think they should do that every day. So, they sit in their hiding places until I find them.

Then there are the dirty clothes. These seem to be everywhere. My kids are young, but they know that when you take off your clothes, they belong in the laundry room. There are clothes mixed in with the toys, under the beds, in the bathroom and even in my room. G3 thinks it's appropriate to change out of her pajamas in my room and then leave the pajamas wherever they landed.

All of this has gone on for some time. I can't seem to convince my children that picking up their stuff is in their best interests. I guess I'll have to keep trying until I succeed. In the meantime, my bad mood persists. I'm going to work on that. Maybe I can pull myself out of it and then maybe I can pull the kids out of theirs.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Commercialism of Holidays

We often hear about the commercialism of holidays. We associate it primarily with Christmas. In fact, it's probably true. This is September. School has barely started (and hasn't for some) and already the stores are starting to put out Christmas items! Christmas is a major gift buying and decorating holiday so the stores want to get a head start. Do I think it's right? Absolutely not, but I do know why they do it. But what about the other holidays? Halloween decorations and costumes appear about this time. Thanksgiving and Fall items are in the stores. Valentine's items appear right after Christmas with Easter items typically out before Valentine's Day. Those are all holidays that people associate with shopping. I still don't like it, but I know why they do it.

So what's the deal with today. Today is Labor Day. Not really a shopping holiday. Not a gift giving holiday. So why are the stores commercializing it? Almost every store that is open today is having a sale in honor of the holiday. They all want some of the money that all the people not working will be spending today. As the weekend got closer, the stores suddenly had full aisles of hot dog buns, chips and soft drinks. Not to mention paper plates, cups and napkins. All items designed for one purpose: to commercialize a holiday like Labor Day. These stores hope that everyone will host a backyard picnic and buy their stuff.

It's really ridiculous what happens in stores when holidays happen. These holidays weren't created for the stores, although some of them were moved for them. Yet today, who remembers what Labor Day is for? Who understands the importance of Thanksgiving? I would imagine that more people are familiar with the sales and picnics than the holiday itself.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Free Curriculum

A lot of people think curriculum has to be store bought to work. That's just not true. There are many things that you have in your home and at your disposal that work great for lessons.

This week my kids looked for shapes around the house. They sorted, counted and made pictures with coins. They helped me bake and cook. All of these things taught them valuable lessons in math, science, and thinking skills. They learned a lot for FREE. Every week, we do things like this. We can look in the backyard to study wildlife: plants, trees and bugs. We can play with LEGOs to work on math, thinking skills and lessons in just about everything. In fact, LEGOs make excellent manipulatives. No, they are not free, but if you have them laying around the house, you may as well use them. B1 has used them to make board games and to improve architecture skills. He has learned how to balance objects and all about gravity. LEGO even has lesson plans available online for teachers.

The internet is a great place to find FREE materials. Type just about anything into Google and you will find a lesson on it. www.nasa.gov has an entire section on lesson plans for science. Not just space, but on electricity and plant life. Many websites you might not expect to have lessons, do. And there are many more specifically designed for teaching. www.superteacherworksheets.com and www.abcteach.com have 100s of FREE printable worksheets.

Then there are places in your community. Libraries have books on almost every subject. There are math books and science books, grammar and history, and of course reading. Many libraries have classes available to the community. Libraries often have educational videos and other recordings as well. Some stores have community teaching events. Home Depot offers Saturday teaching workshops for kids. Krispy Kreme allows you to view the donut making process. Many farms, factories and businesses are available for field trips where you can learn how to do just about anything.

Teaching moments are everywhere in life. There are lessons to be learned everywhere. Cooking and cleaning are excellent for teaching. And of course, PLAYING. Kids learn countless lessons just by playing. So before you decide to go out and buy all your curriculum and before you decide you can't afford to teach your kids at home, look into some of these resources and see just how affordable it can really be. Of course, the stuff that costs can be good too.