Why My Wife and I Chose to Keep the Kids at Home

I want to start by saying that I loved my kids’ daycare here in Effingham, IL. Tree House Too was fantastic for my first two children, Megan and James.

It was April 2008 that my wife and I reached a crossroads. Our third child, Maggie was born. All three of my kids were under the age of five. Megan wouldn’t turn five until 2009 and my son was only 15 months older than my newest baby. At the time, I was doing work as a substitute teacher in the county we live in, but the work was inconsistent, as it always is. The decision we had after her six weeks of maternity leave was this: Do I continue to sub or do I stay at home with the children? Here are the reasons why the decision wasn’t hard.

Daycare prices were on the rise

For us, it was approximately $25 per kid/per day to go to the daycare service we loved. In the summer, I wasn’t working, so there was no extra money to pay for daycare. So with the summer of 2008, we considered it the trial run to see how I could handle a baby and two toddlers at home. After almost three months, I was doing well.

Substitute pay didn’t cover the daycare costs either

While my sub pay per day was a little more than the cost for one day of daycare for my three kids, it didn’t cover days I wasn’t teaching, and unless we made the kids go full-time, the cost was even more. Most jobs in America don’t cover the costs. It would take a person making over $10 per hour just to break even with three kids.

Being a teacher made me the best teacher for my kids

This probably ended up being the deciding factor. My children were getting great bits at the daycare, but that’s educationally what they were. The laws have changed in the past six years and daycares are required to more now to prepare kids for school. Most of this has happened since the pre-school system has been all but wiped out here in Illinois. What I could give my kids was more one-on-one with the basics to have them better prepared for school.

We ended up doing this for four school years. As Megan went off to kindergarten and first grade, we had one more child, our baby Jenna. After the fourth year of having me without a paycheck as a substitute teacher, we received a blessing in the summer of 2012. My mother came to live with us as she recovered from a second heart attack and later breast cancer. So as the 2012-13 school year came, I was able to begin going back to the teaching field and subbing on a somewhat regular basis. My mom stayed home with the baby as my other three kids are now all in grade school.…

Family First

Friends turn on you and betray you.
They have their own agenda and you are just a tool to them.
Family however, is forever
Friends move away and never call or write.
Family is always there
Friends steal your girl or your job or your games
Family always have your back
Remember your family and put them first
They do the same for you…

Family Recipe: White Bean Soup

My step mother concocted an awesome White Bean Soup recipe a few weeks back, and passed it onto me. I tried making the vegetarian form last weekend (albeit slightly altered – see my editorial notes in italics) and not only was it as simple and delicious, it sustained me all week long. Highly recommended – let me know if you try it.

“Really Yummy White Bean Soup”

48 oz. Chicken or veggie stock (Note: I used vegetarian “Better than Boulion” – my broth base of choice)

1- 14 oz. Can diced tomatoes, drained

4 -14 oz. Cans cannellini beans (aka white kidney beans)

1 Medium yellow onion, diced

1 Bulb garlic, roasted (Note: I roasted 2 bulbs and saved some to make garlic bread – extra flavor to account for the lack of meat)

2 Medium carrots, diced

½ head of curly kale roughly chopped, de-stemmed (Note: I used a full head for extra substance)

OPTIONAL: 1 pinch red pepper flakes (Note: mom says optional; I say crucial)

OPTIONAL: Turkey sausage

Roast garlic by cutting off top, drizzling with olive oil, wrapping in foil and cooking in 350° oven for 30 to 40 min (until soft). If using sausage, remove casings and brown, breaking into pieces over medium heat. Remove sausage from pan and set aside; pour off grease.

In a large kettle, heat 1 T of olive oil. Add half of diced onion; cook 3 – 4 mins until slightly soft. Add stock; add ½ of the roasted garlic (squeeze softened cloves into kettle), reserving the rest for toast. Add 2 cans of beans.

Over medium heat, cook above ingredients for 5 – 10 mins. Place pot in sink and blend together with hand blender until smooth (if you don’t have a hand blender, a regular one will do).

Return mixture to heat. Add: carrots, remaining onion, kale, tomatoes and pepper flakes. Simmer 10 – 15 mins until carrots are firm and tender. Add remaining 2 cans of beans and optional sausage; simmer 1 – 2 mins. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Highly recommended accompanyment: use the remaining roasted garlic to make some cheesy garlic bread, and then dip like crazy.…

Managing Life with a Large Family

I am the mother of four children. Many people have asked us why we decided to have such a large family. It appears that a family of six is considered large these days. When my grandparents were children they were all members of families with at least ten children a piece. Now that’s a large family! But these days four children feels like a lot. Why do we have four children? We’ve been asked if having a large family is a religious thing. My husband is a minister, but no, it was not a religious thing. We had four children because we did not want to have five. My ten year old son once asked me if his dad and I knew we were going to have this large family. I told him, yes, we did. I believe it is time for “the talk”.

I have also had many people ask, “How do you do it? I t must be crazy at your house with so many kids.” Well, yes it certainly can be crazy at times, but there are ways that my husband and I have found to help make it a bit less crazy having a large family. Fortunately, we did not have them all at once. Truly the poor parents who have the entire litter at once, through the miracle of fertility treatment, are the ones who suffer. We had ours spread out over seven years so the growth of our family was more gradual. We truly didn’t see much change when we went from one child to two children. He had one and I had one. The big jump came when baby number three arrived on the scene. Now we were out numbered. I had one, he had one, and then there was still one left over. We bought a big stroller. That helped.

Then the big decision to have the fourth child truly changed everything. We knew pretty soon we would both have to be on top of our game, and stay there, or there would be mutiny in this large family! We were outnumbered two to one. So how do we manage? Well, early on we knew that daycare and after school care was not an option for us. We wanted to raise our children without that outside help, and to pay for daycare for four children would be just too much money. We have had to be creative from time to time, but we have never wavered from that plan. I am in a profession that allows nighttime work so for the last nine years I have worked two nights a week to help bring in money to meet our budget. It’s not ideal, but at least our children are cared for at home by their parents. I know this is not possible for everyone, so I do feel blessed that we have been able to accomplish this. We live several hours away from grandparents, and have not been able to call on them for help with child care. That is a great option if you live close and they are willing to help out.

It is a huge task to clothe such a large family. We have had a few friends over the years that have passed down clothes for the boys to wear. That has been so wonderful. I have also been a diligent sales shopper. I wait until the absolute final markdowns for the season to buy clothes, and then pack them away until next year. I have found shoes are the hardest thing to save money on, but I do my best to try and find them on sale. I have asked the kids to try not to outgrow their shoes all at the same time. I’m kidding, of course, but it does seem to work out that way more often than not!

Feeding a large family can be challenging as well. I have tried many different strategies over the years. I have clipped coupons. I have gone to the warehouse clubs and bought in bulk. Lately, I just skip the fancy stores and drive to the plain and simple store a few more miles away. I try to buy everything for the week in that one trip. I find that you spend more money unnecessarily if you go every day or even a few times a week. I also try to have a list prepared so I know exactly what I need to buy. Taking the kids along …

Involving Family and Friends when Homeschooling

Homeschooling photo

A homeschooling parent should take inventory of the talents in other family members around him or her. For example, I have a friend whose Grandfather was a journalist. This Grandfather drove thirty miles each way once per week to give his homeschooled grandchildren a lesson in writing. This gave the mother a break for two hours each week.

The children also benefit from shared family talent. If mom is not a good writer, but Granddad is, then the kids benefit by learning from someone who can give them real writing expertise. Chances are, their writing ability will be higher than it would have been before Granddad started helping out.

How to take a family inventory:

Write a list of all of your family and friends. Next to each name, write their strengths. To list their strengths think about what degree(s) they hold, or what they studied in college. List their natural talents as well, such as art or music.

Contact each family member and ask them if they would like to participate in your homeschooling endeavor. They don’t have to commit to giving lessons every day or even once per week. They could simply come the first Monday of every month or the last Tuesday of the month, whatever works with their schedules. Once per week may be ideal for the main subjects, but it is not necessary if you want them to come to do a craft with your child.

My father has published numerous science fair project books so whenever my daughter has a science fair project to do, I take her to his house. The difficulties I would have had in teaching that particular project, he made easy. My daughter was able to understand the concepts and she had a lot of fun working with her Grandfather. This may only happen once or twice per month, but it is still a big help.

Include anyone in the family, if they are willing to help. You can always put them in charge of taking the kids on a nature walk or practicing soccer moves in the back yard.…

Five Ways Your Kids Can Go Green at Home

Kids want to save the planet, and kids want to help the family. So, why not teach your kids ways they can go green at home? Here are five things kids can do at home to help the environment and to help lower family expenses.

Go Green by Turning on Cold Water. Explain to your kids how using cold water–instead of hot–saves your family money. In addition, teach your kids how to brush their teeth with minimal water usage by turning off the water stream while brushing. This conserves water and impacts both the environment and your water bill.

Go Green by Turning Off Lights. Getting your kids to turn off lights when they leave a room is an important first step, but it’s not the only way to go green with lighting. Kids can help open drapes or blinds to take advantage of free natural light during the daylight hours. Use of natural light saves electricity and saves on your electric bill.

Go Green with Compact Florescent Light Bulbs. Explain to your kids how certain light bulbs use more electricity to operate. Let your kids help swap incandescent light bulbs for compact florescent ones in your home, starting with their bedrooms. The initial cost of changing light bulbs in your home may pinch a bit, but you will save energy and cut utility costs over time.

Go Green by Replacing Paper with Cloth. Instead of using disposable paper towels and paper napkins in the kitchen, choose cloth. Explain to your kids how these items are easy to wash along with family laundry. Have a handy place in your kitchen to store cloth towels and napkins, and allow kids to help wash, dry, fold, and put away the cloth napkins and towels.

Go Green by Sorting Family Trash. Kids can help sort family and personal trash by separating out recyclables. Provide containers for glass, aluminum, cans, bottles, cardboard, and newspaper. Teach your kids how to determine what can be recycled and what cannot. A great motivation for recycling is to allow your kids to enjoy the money earned from recycling.

As your kids make these five simple changes at home, you will see a positive impact on your family budget, and your kids will be doing their part to go green.…

How to Make a Life Size Word Family Tree for Your Homeschool

Helping your homeschooler learn about word families can actually be a lot of fun. The key is to find what technique will work best for your child. One way that to do this is to make a life size word family tree. If you don’t have room in your school area you can always put it on the wall in your child’s bedroom. Just find an extra wall space where you can hang up the tree.

To get started with making your word family tree you will want to purchase several large pieces of construction paper, as well as a large piece of cardboard. Additional supplies you will need are a hand size basket that you can use to hold your apples. The cardboard can be whatever size you want your tree to be. You can first sketch a picture of the tree on the cardboard. You don’t have to be a professional artist, but just draw your basic tree. Then hang up the cardboard sketch on the wall. You can then have your kids help with cutting the construction paper to fit the tree. Obviously you will need plenty of brown and green construction paper. You will also need a lot of red construction paper in order to make the apples. This is a good opportunity to help your children use their imagination in creating the tree.

At the top of the board you can write down a name for your word family tree. Then figure out a place where you want to hang your basket, or place it so that the kids can have easy access to the apples. For example for the “-ar”, family you will need to cut out at least 12 apples. On the apples you will want to put a blank line and at the end of the line the letter’s “ar”. On the trunk of the tree you will want to put a few letters along with a few blends. For example you can put the letter’s “bl, Ch, and other letters that the kids can pick and match with the blends. The letters on the bottom of the tree can be made out of construction paper, and laminate it. Then you can put a Velcro backing on it. Add a little bit of felt to the bottom of the tree. Make sure that the felt is b brown you that you can add a small matching square to the bottom of the tree.…

When is it too Late in Life for Kids?

When should we decide to stop having kids? I believe that is one of the age old questions. Some people think you should have them young then quit. So later you can enjoy your life living it for yourself only. Others believe you should have as many as you are blessed with. There is a lot between there and don’t worry I know that but to name them all I think my computer would crash. There are so many babies having babies now or just the opposite grandmas having babies. Is there a medium?

In my own life I decided to quit early. I had a tubal ligation when I was only 21 years old. Don’t think that was an easy task though. I had to go to many different doctors and in four different cities just to find a doctor to perform it. They even went as far as giving me a month to think about it then another two weeks before the surgery itself were the doctor told me if I wanted out that was the time. But I didn’t I was sure then as I am now that I was finished having children. I had two great kids a boy and girl and that was good enough for me.

Sometimes things in our lives push us to do these things as it did in mine. My mother and a single mother at that passed away when I was only eleven years old. This was hard to understand at eleven. It wasn’t for another year till it finally sank into my head that she was not coming back. It was something I fought with my whole live mainly because I was the only one with her when she died. She was only 51 years old when she passed from a heart attach. In my view at almost 40 when she had me it was too late in her life. From the time that I started my own family I knew I wouldn’t want my kids to live that pain. Maybe it’s not rational because we all know when it is our time it is our time but sometimes you just can help how you feel.

Now on the other hand my niece that is the same age as me 30 years old has four children. From the time that she was old enough to really get the concept of babies she has always wanted six. Yet after having her fourth child her doctor informed her that if she had another baby there would be a very large percentage that it would kill her. This problem worried her because non surgical birth control did not work with her. That is when she decided to get a tubal ligation. Even now since the operation she regrets and wishes for more and says she still might reverse it and give it one more try despite the consequence.

These are only two examples I know people who have six and eight children. There children have children at the same time they were or are pregnant. They have told me that they will never take birth control and if they happen to have ten or twelve children then it was Gods gift to them. Is it safe or healthy to do this to your body? Is it a religious thing? Is it personal? I believe these choices vary from person to person or even family to family. Now that you have some more information on this I can ask you one more time. When should we decide to stop having children?…

A Little Home Brewing Fun for the Kids

When you find an activity that the family can have fun with together then everyone is happy. The kids especially like to be in on whatever dad and mom are doing. Therefore, it makes for a good idea and happy family if you are able to find something that the adults enjoy doing and that the children can take part in as well.

When we mention home brewing, you may thing that this is not an activity that the kids should be part of. Besides the fact that you are making beer, there is the involvement of sterilized equipment and boiling hot water. None of this sounds appealing for the adults to have their children around, and the kids may not see it as much fun. However, there is a way that you can feel comfortable with your kids being involved in the process if you are creating a children’s beer.

You are probably wondering just what kind of beer can be made for children or any other members of the family who may prefer nonalcoholic beverages. The alternative is not really “beer” that has an alcohol content, but that of ginger beer. This is a beverage that the children will enjoy consuming, especially after they have had a hand in creating it. The parents can feel comfortable that the kids are involved in a safe, fun family activity that everyone can benefit from.

When you have decide when your day to brew will be, you should be sure to have on hand the instructions, equipment and ingredients for the ginger beer ready beforehand. Having the supplies already on hand and then surprising the kids on a raining day with a beer making day will thrill them. The instructions for creating ginger beer are quite simple to follow, quick to make and fun for the kids. This makes it nice for those times that the kids run out of the beverage and want to make more.

Ginger beer does not contain any outlandish ingredients that you have to get a specialty store. All the ingredients you need you will find at your local grocery store.

Read all the instructions before starting the process. Ginger beer ingredients include:

– 8 plastic bottles with 1 pint capacity each.

– 4 bottles with 1 quart capacity each.

– Several bowls to using for mixing.

– 2 ounces of fresh ginger

– 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

– 2 sliced lemons

– 1 pound of sugar

– 1 ounce of yeast

– 1 gallon of boiling water

Before combining ingredients, crush the ginger so that it will properly mix with the other ingredients. The lemon should be sliced in large rings. All ingredients except the yeast can then be thoroughly combined into the boiled water.

Allow the mixture to cool at room temperature before adding in the yeast. Pour the completed mixture into the bottles and allow to go through fermenting for several days. Upon completion of the fermentation process, skim the residue from the top of the beverage. After a bit of refrigeration your ginger beer is now ready to be consumed.…

4 Benefits to Staying at Home with the Kids

I certainly wouldn’t say those enviously wishing they could, “sit round and do nothing in their pajamas all day” are anywhere near realistically viewing what it is to raise kids at home. There are plenty of frustrating things about being a stay-at-home mom-not peeing alone ranks up there pretty high-but it does come with quite a few perks. The stay-at-home parent benefit package includes…

Being able to hit snooze.

I don’t have a 9-5 job. That does mean that I also don’t have a clock-off time or days off really, but it also means I don’t have a start time. If the kids aren’t up or I can talk them in to going back to bed and we have no obligations for the day, I can go back to bed too. I would say the no alarm status of stay-at-home parenting is one of my favorite things.

No dress code.

I do wear pajamas all day. A pair of shorts and a loose fitting t-shirt is a ridiculously comfortable wardrobe choice. While when I was working in the labor force that often meant a uniform, or at the least a dress code, my living room doesn’t have a dress code. I can wear whatever I want.

No boss.

If I want to let the dishes sit until tomorrow so I can go play in the sun with my kids, I can. If I want to take off for a few days camping, I may have to take the kids in most cases, but I don’t have to hope I can get the time off. There’s no one telling me I’m not working fast enough or not meeting quotas. No lectures and no co-workers, of course, there’s also no pay.

The best show in the world.

Finally, the biggest perk of being a stay-at-home parent is the opportunity to watch your kids grow without missing a beat. I would suffer all the alarm clocks, dress codes, bosses and restrictions in the world not to miss that, but luckily, I don’t have too. I do have to let go of some of my freedom, privacy, and maybe a little sanity here and there, but being there for my kids makes it worth it. I am thankful I’m in a position that allows me a job position some may look down on, no matter how much I may complain on occasion.…