Category Archives: Kids

How to Transform Your Home Into a Party Place for Your Kids

We all know how tough it is throwing a birthday party for the kids. They demand a ball pit, ice cream, and everything a child could ever wish for. However, the aspect I found the most difficult, is the fact that there are going to be much more kids in the house than usual. So here are a few steps on how to make your house child-friendly:

  1. Inform your party planner.
  • Make sure that they know it will be a children’s party. They have special chairs and tables for the little ones. You can also order fun hats and streamers, or maybe even… a mascot! You can also have your child’s party along with a pre-made theme. It would be convenient for you to hire for a party rather than doing everything on your own. If you have a backyard, make sure to assemble the gathering there. There is more space for the kids to run and less things to break. However, if you still think these little creatures will find out how to get into the house, continue to the following steps.
  1. Be wary of things that can break.
  • Plates, figurines, picture frames, or DVD players; make sure to keep them somewhere really high or better yet, keep them in a secured room and lock it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you decide on keeping them in plain sight, make sure you place them somewhere sturdy. Remember that kids may not be able to reach it but they can still bump into anything. Plastic wrap is very useful in times like these. You can wrap it around the edges of whatever is holding the fragile objects. Even if it is bumped into, the plastic wrap will keep it from falling.
  1. Check for things that can hurt the little fellas.
  • Edges, doors, sharp objects, and anything else you can think of, should be dealt with. If you’ve got any plastic noodles (the pool toys), rubber, Styrofoam, or any soft material you have at home, cut them into squares, or any desired shape you think would fit the table edges. Once you’ve got them, use a glue gun or double-sided tape to stick them to the edges of a table. So if ever they’re running around and happen to hit an edge, they’ll only feel a soft spot. Now for the doors, cabinets, or drawers that can crush their teeny fingers. Door stoppers are essential, but what about the drawers? Or when you want to close the doors? Easy, take the excess material from the shapes you just cut and stick them to the side of a drawer. That way if it were to close suddenly, it wouldn’t close completely because of the little stopper and the side. Saving those precious little fingers for future counting activities.

If there are other things you think haven’t been solved in this article, please tell me so we can make a better and safer home for the tiny lads and ladies.

Happy Birthday Peanut!

Yesterday, the Peanut that you all know and love turned 6.

Where has this time gone? I’m tearing up just thinking about how much Peanut has grown and how rich he’s made our lives.

I know he totally changed mine and for the better.

Before Peanut, Big Daddy and I had what we thought was the perfect life. He had his two kids, and I had my three kids. We didn’t plan on having any together. My youngest was 5 and his youngest was 10.

We each had really good jobs that provided us with a comfortable living. Every other weekend was kidless, so we spent our free time riding our Harleys (Yep-I had my own, and I loved every single minute of it.) and planning our upcoming Wedding invitations.

Sometimes life throws you curve balls that none of the best laid plans can account for, and Peanut was one of those curve balls. It was a huge surprise to find out I was expecting (I call him our Little Medical Miracle), but the minute the shock wore off (after several days really), we were so excited to meet this little one.

Peanut is the glue that holds this family together…our big, crazy, very diverse family. No longer are the kids ‘his’ kids and ‘my’ kids, they’re our kids and Peanut is what bonded that.

6-year-old-peanut

We joke that we’re grateful for Peanut because now there’s someone who’s bound by blood to take care of both of us when we’re old. In reality, it’s so much more than that. Peanut gave us both a second chance at being parents to a little one. He made us rethink the direction our lives were headed and our existence went from one of material pursuits to one of meaningful action.

I became a stay-at-home mom because of Peanut, and because I stay at home, Big D was able to pursue a different career route than he’d intended. Because he was able to do that, I’m now able to homeschool the kids.

Peanut has taught me so very much. He’s taught me about slowing down (making blanket forts in the living room), appreciating the little things (laying a blanket out on the grass, reading a book together in the shade, and watching the birds at the feeder), and finding the joy in my every day.

He made me reevaluate what was really important to me, and changed the entire way I viewed ‘success’. My definition of ‘living a good life’ has also greatly changed.

Every year as Peanut passes his birthday, I’m reminded of the circumstances around his birth. He was three weeks early, distressed, small, and born not breathing. When he made his miraculous rebound, I knew this boy was destined for something great.  Nothing over the last 6 years has made me change my thoughts on that.

Happy Birthday Peanut! Thank you for being so smart and funny, for showing and telling me you love me every single day, and for simply being you.

Wasn’t he just the cutest thing ever?

Happy Birthday Peanut! I love you to the moon and back <3

Kids and Money: Family Economy

Back in this post, I mentioned that we were beginning what we call our ‘Family Economy’. I’m not sure why we chose that name as it really doesn’t describe what we’re doing, but with 4 boys 15 years and younger, things often don’t make sense.  (Anyone feel me on that?)

To describe the Family Economy a little better, it’s a system of payment of wages to the child for completely tasks (chores and other things) throughout the week. Originally, this idea came from Shawni @ 71toes.com and this post. When I came across it, I knew we had to try it.

But let’s back up a little bit. Let me tell you WHY  I feel my children should be receiving a wage and NOT an allowance.

First, I want to describe to you what I see with kids today. In general (an by no means are all kids included in this group), I see a lot of kids who are being brought up having no concept of money or the real cost of living. They’re attending sports camps that cost hundreds of dollars, wearing clothes that are extremely over priced, get all the new gadgets as they hit the market, and watch mom or dad pay for it all on a credit card.  Kids are given no responsibility to pay for things themselves.

Which leads to the next thing. Due to all the government and insurance regulations in place, a kid is lucky to even find a job. When I was a teenager (you know…last week  ), when you turned 16, a lot of kids got a job. You worked at the grocery store, waitressed, or drove to the neighboring ‘big’ town for a job at a fast food place or one of the big chain retail stores.

If you were like me and had a parent who owned a business, or even one who farmed, you started working a lot earlier than that. I started babysitting when I was 11 and working for my parents when I was 12.  My son is 15, and although in Illinois a child can work at 14 (with some hoops to jump through) no one will hire a child younger than 16. My son has been looking for a job for almost a year and a half. Everywhere he inquires he’s met with the same answer, “Sorry. You have to be 16.” It’s frustrating for him and frustrating for us as parents trying to teach our children financial responsibility.

Lastly, I am anti-allowance. I don’t believe that handing my child money just for existing is doing anyone any favors.

Here’s the nuts and bolts of our Family Economy:

  • Each child has the opportunity to earn a wage equal to his age every week.
  • Each child has a chart with his assigned jobs and chores that must be filled out each day.
  • If a child misses one mark, he has the chance to make it up by doing an extra job. If he chooses not to make it up, his weekly wage is cut in half.
  • If a child misses 2 marks, he can make one up to be paid half wage, otherwise he won’t be paid at all.
  • If a child misses 3 or more marks, there will be no wage that week.
  • The kids are required to Give 10%, Save 20%, and the rest is their Spend money.
  • When the boys turn 12, they are required to pay for half of their clothes and shoes and all their spending money. We won’t pay more than our spending limit on clothes that we paid before. So, if the kids decide they want a pair of $120 shoes, I’ll only pay $50.
  • If they want to do camps or anything like that, they have to pay half also (although there may be instances where we’ll pay more.)
  • We pay for socks, underwear, and special occasion clothing.
  • The two oldest boys must pay for their portion of the cell phone bill after their initial two year contract is up. For Jeremy that will be this next summer and for Punkin it will be November 2014.
  • Their Save money is put into the family bank. They receive 10% interest accrued monthly on their savings. They’ve all had savings accounts in banks before, but here they’ll be able to earn more money on their savings-like 1000% more. This is their reward for working to save more money.
  • They can’t withdraw from their savings.
  • They can choose who or what they want to give their ‘Give’ money to.
  • We have payday every two weeks.
  • Edit: We use check registries to keep track of the money (the kids are responsible for filling out their registries when they get paid.)

Jeremy has a contract with us to pay back some money he borrowed to put towards his new computer and to pay an old cell phone overage debt, so that poor kid only received $1 this payday. I thought it was a great lesson to be learned. He has to pay us $20 a month, and he’s only got $42 total in his spend account for four weeks. He’s really going to have to economize and make wise spending choices so that he’ll have enough  money to pay for his clothes.

We’re in our third week of Family Economy, and I am very pleased with how excited the kids were to get paid for their hard work. Both older boys were paid for two solid weeks, while the two youngest were only paid for one week. I’m pretty serious about them having to do all their chores for them to get paid, and believe that if I was lenient at the beginning, it would just follow on through.

I can remember as a kid working for my dad, he told me, “Now that you’re getting paid, you’re going to be responsible for buying your clothes. You can either spend all your money on the expensive shit, or save some of it.” It was a small obscure conversation that’s followed me through my life. I never had the highest costing brand name clothes in school, but I always had gas money, spending money, and money in the bank. I was even able to pay for a weeklong trip to Mexico when I was 15 (with a school group).

My goal for the kids is that they learn that although money isn’t everything, it sure is nice to have enough to meet your needs and to give some away. I want them to learn to budget what they do have and to be content to live within their means.

I believe this will be a great way to do that.

What’s your opinion on allowance? Do you have a family economy of your own in place?

Frustration-Free Shoe Tying with Magic Fingers

Kids learning to tie their shoes… it’s a big deal. For some parents, it may be a bittersweet time, but for others, like me, who have been tying someone’s shoes for the last 16 years (almost), it’s one more step towards independent kids. It’s beautiful.

My oldest three boys were taught to tie their shoes by their dad, so when it came time to teach Peanut, I wasn’t sure where to begin. He wasn’t at all interested in learning either.

Well, this not being my first rodeo, I’ve learned not to push the issue until he was more interested.

Except he never got more interested.

Knowing that there’s a 95% chance that Peanut will be going to public school next fall, I knew that we had to get going on this. The boy’s teacher was NOT going to appreciate him asking her to tie his shoes all day long.

A couple of days ago, I laid down the law. “Peanut,” I announced, “you have only 10 shoe ties left from me, so you’d better get interested in learning how to tie them yourself.” His brothers were instructed to give him only 5 shoe ties.

Punkin helped Peanut out by making a tying shoes practice box. He took an empty tissue box, punched holes along each side, and threaded a long, thick shoelace through them.

Then, we introduced him to our secret weapon…The Magic Fingers Method of tying shoes. While it took my other children a week or two (or maybe longer. I’m old and my memory isn’t so good anymore.) to learn to tie their shoes proficiently, it took Peanut less than 20 minutes total over two days.

The best part of this method is that the laces stay tied, and did I mention it was easy?? Go now. Save days of your life by learning this and teaching your children this method. Even Punkin has now switched to tying his shoes this way.

So see? All the cool kids are doing it.

Kalanderson Academy for the Intellectually Awesome: Homeschool Update

Since the new ‘semester’ began after our Christmas break, I thought this would be a good time to give a homeschool update.

Don’t we have a cool name for our school? The boys came up with that one.

Peanut Update:

  • Peanut is about 3/4 of the way through the Kindergarten year of ABCMouse. Some of the things on ABCMouse are way too easy for him. But, it’s good to give him some of those easier things to build his academic confidence.
  • Reading is hit or miss. He doesn’t absolutely love it, but he’s getting better. I’ve found that if I’m not consistent at this stage, he forgets many of his sight words and his reading ability diminishes quickly.
  • At math, Peanut is amazing. I’m not just saying that as his mother either:) He refuses to count on his fingers and does all his adding and subtracting in his head. He is counting by tens and fives and is moving onto twos.
  • I’ve been using a lot of packs for 3 Dinosaurs and also Royal Baloo. We’ll be using more from Royal Baloo for the second half of the year.
  • As long as there are no major life changes before next year, Peanut will continue to homeschool.

Sweet Pea:

  • By far my most challenging student this year. SP gets bored easily and often lacks focus.
  • We’re still working through the Saxon Math 7/6 book. I feel we’re behind, but we spent quite a bit of time reviewing a couple of concepts that tripped him up. It’ll all work out and he’ll know his stuff.
  • SP started out with Robinson Classic Curriculum, then went to Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool, but then made the switch to Georgia Virtual Learning for 6th Grade.
  • He is lacking on Social Studies/History right now, but I’m not too concerned about this. He’s making up for it by reading stories from different time periods.
  • SP will also continue to homeschool next year if we are still in our current city. He has said though that if we move, and if he likes the school, he wouldn’t mind going back to public school.

Punkin and Jeremy:

  • I put these two guys together because they are both on the same track with slightly different classes.
  • They are doing very well. We did change curriculum about 2/3 of the way through last semester. Both boys felt Saylor was difficult to follow with having to go to many different websites and texts/courses being in different formats.
  • They are both now also doing Georgia Virtual Learning. They are enjoying this style of learning more as everything is on one website and there are more electives to choose from.
  • Punkin is taking an Agriculture course, and Jeremy is taking an Energy course for electives.
  • The only problem with this site is that because we aren’t in Georgia, we don’t have access to exams and some texts. If the boys want to take any AP courses, we’ll have to explore other options.
  • Even though they are self-teachers, I am requiring them to report to me what they’ve done each day. I find that it’s easy for them to ignore the subjects they don’t enjoy as much (literature).
  • Both boys have reported that they enjoy homeschool and want to continue as long as we’re here. If we move, they also said that public school would be an option if they liked the school.

Overall, I am already counting our first year of homeschool a success. Sometimes the boys get on each other’s nerves (a lot of times they get on my nerves), but I have noticed that Jeremy and Punkin have learned to talk to each other about their common classes and help each other when needed.

If we do homeschool next year, I’ll make sure to find a coop or homeschool group to join. The one in this area had some issues at the beginning of the year, and I didn’t check it again until just recently. It was already too late to sign up for coop classes. We don’t necessarily need ‘socialization’ because they get that every time they leave the house, but it would be nice for the boys to know some kids their own age who homeschool.

We’ve been able to take a couple of mid-week field trips as well as long weekend trips north to visit family. The kids have really enjoyed the freedom and so have I. I like not having to get my 6 year old up super early to make the bus. I also enjoy knowing that if we don’t do something one day, we can get to it the next.

Of course there are days when I wonder what the hell I was thinking, and it feels like I’m swimming upstream. There are days when I feel I am fighting simply to get the kids to start on their school. Feet are drug. Attitudes are shitty. Yelling commences. No one is happy.

For the most part though, homeschool has been the perfect fit for our family. I don’t regret it one bit.