Monday, January 30, 2012

If I Could Do It Over Again

I was talking with a sweet lady that I have been homeschooling with for over 15 years the other day, and we discussed the advice that we would give to new homeschoolers. Our
number one? Take those early elementary years to do all the fun things that homeschooling is all about. Need some examples?
1. Make puppets and let your kids perform a skit or fairy tale at the family Thanksgiving dinner.
2. Head to the park once a week to learn or practice some new skills (skipping, throwing a football, jump rope, kicking a soccer ball, hitting a baseball)
3. Science experiments. Any and all. There are so many books around with good, easy science experiments. I like Jan VanCleave and Backyard Science
4. Write books. Let your child dictate the story to you, then let him illustrate it. Then, let him practice reading it to a little brother or grandparent.
5. Plant a vegetable garden. Even if you don't get much food, you will learn a lot and it will be worth the time and effort.
6. Try geocacheing or letterboxing.
7. Play Yahtzee to practice adding.
8. Learn to sew, knit, woodwork, or any other hands on craft
9. Cook together.
10.Make and use homemade play dough, paints, glitter and other art items.
11. Visit historical reenactments.
12. Take field trips to anyplace and everyplace that will let you in.
13. Visit nursing homes to share your homemade cards and pictures.
14. Read aloud every day. ( The Chronicles of Narnia, Children’s Pilgrim Progress, and the Kingdom series by Chuck Black are our favorites)

Now is the time to do all of these things. Let up a bit on the bookwork. You will be giving your children an invaluable gift that will last their whole life. They will realize that learning can be fun, and they can learn from everything they do. You will also get to know your kids. This is going to help you as you move into more structured teaching. You will know their gifts and how they learn best. Take the time now to do these things. You will be so glad you did. If I could go back and do it all again, this is what I would do.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Real Marriage is For Real

Mark and Grace Driscoll have graciously stepped into the ring and turned the spotlight on their own marriage in order to minister to the untold number of couples who are currently need in of some straight talk about real marriage. I have been married for thirty years and have read quite a few marriage books in that time. I have never read a book that has been as open and honest as this one. Mark and Grace don't have a perfect marriage, but it is better than it was, and they willingly discuss the biblical principles that have helped them.
I found this book to be great biblically based marriage advice. Others may feel it is a little "TMI"(too much information) concerning the sexual aspect of marriage. I would urge those who feel that way to remember that God created sex for marriage and our society does just about everything possible to ruin this beautiful gift. The only way that Christians can reclaim this beautiful gift is by understanding what the Bible teaches.
This is a good book for those considering marriage or for those who have been married for a while. I think that many marriages would take a turn for the better if couples would seriously consider the advice in this book.
I received this book for free as part of a book review program in exchange for giving my honest opinion.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Blessing of Children

I recently read an article about the unintended consequences of China's infamous "one child" policy. It seems that the first wave of these only children are now grown, married and starting their own families. Since the husband and wife are both only children, these families are eligible to have two children. The problem is that many of them are choosing to remain childless, and a majority of them are opting for only one child. The reason they give? Children consume time, money and energy that they would rather spend on themselves.

In contrast I was thinking of an American family that was in the news quite a bit recently. The Duggars lost their 20th child not too long ago. This is a family that understands the cost of children in time, money and energy, but sees that they are worth the sacrifice. From their point of view, giving yourself to others is a privilege.

I have to wonder about the fate of these two societies in years to come. Which will be the more empathetic, caring people? I wish I could say that it would be the Americans, but I am not totally convinced that most Americans see the opportunity to serve others as a blessing like the Duggar family. I hope it is us. I hope we continue to decide that children are worth it because we will miss out on tremendous blessings otherwise.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lefoland: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I took the kids to Legoland this last week. We had a field trip scheduled with our homeschool group. It was a beautiful day out, and we enjoyed spending time together. Legoland had its pros and cons.

Legoland bills itself as being geared to the 2-12 year olds. That seems to be pretty accurate. The had plenty of rides for kids that would be ideal for that age range. There were four roller coasters, but none went upside down, did crazy twists or were in the dark. There were plenty of other rides that would greatly appeal to those ages. There were also several shows in multiple venues offered throughout the day. These all looked to be aimed at entertaining the target audience; although, we were impressed with the atheletes who were water skiing while wearing the big Lego heads. Our favorite area was Miniland where several US cities are represented in miniature in Legos. Food in Legoland was abundant and varied. Yes, there are burgers and fries, but you can also opt for asian fusion, paninis, all-you-can-eat pizza, and more. Kids meals run about $5.50 and adult combos seemed to be in the $10 range. The pizza buffet ran a little higher.

The day we went the park was only open from 10-5. If we had paid the full price for our tickets ($75 for adults and $65 for kids), we would have felt cheated. With all of the shows and lines for rides the two day ticket may be an option for some ($90 for adults). Even though we went on a lot of the rides, there really wasn't much that appealed to my thrill junkies. We did take a walk through Cypress Gardens, but that disappointed. Almost nothing was in bloom, but being winter we expected there wouldn't be much. The creek was bright green with algae and there were two large areas where grass had been dug up in one open area. Signs gave the names of various plants but no other information, and there were no workers or guides around to answer questions.

The cost, target age, and two hour drive all combine to make this a one time trip for our family. If you have children that are 2-12 or are die hard Lego fans, you might want to plan a trip to the newest of the Florida theme parks. If I had younger children and lived closer, I would look in to the cost of an annual pass.