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Purposeful parenting amid a world of sugar, screens and schedules.


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Our Peter Pan Room

Today I thought I’d share about my favorite room in our house.  From the moment we moved into our house a  few years ago, this was my least favorite room.  The paint job was poor but was one of the better paint jobs in the house so we left it.  There were baseboard heaters that had been taken out right before we moved in but the walls were never fixed there.  And worst of all- the carpet smelled terrible.  The smell was tolerable as long as the door stayed open but once we decided to change it from a play room to Little Bear’s room, I felt like we really needed to do something about it.

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Of course, we didn’t have a ton of funds for this somewhat spontaneous project.  So we went to our local re-purposing center, Home ReSource, and found a nearly full can of light blue paint that we liked.  It was only a few dollars so this is a great way to save some money.  We ended up needing another can so we went to Walmart and had them do a color match, but still, by getting the first can so cheap we spent about half what we would have spent.

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We tore out our carpet and found some carpet on super sale.  The carpet pad (the foamy stuff that goes under the carpet that you see rolled up here) was not very spendy.  We initially went in to look at remnants, but the on sale carpet was actually cheaper.  This was a lot of work, but we had the time for it and it saved us a lot of money.  We borrowed a carpet tool (I don’t know what it’s called but it helps make the carpet tight and pushes it down) from our local tool library.  We love our tool library.  There is an annual membership fee and then small tools and things that don’t use gas are free to borrow for a week and larger things like lawn mowers, cider press, etc. have a very small additional charge.

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We got some 2×2’s to use for the teepee.  My husband measured and cut them the appropriate length and put a groove in one where it criss-crosses.  I took an old sheet and nailed it to the beams and cut the excess material off.  Then cut the slit in the middle for the opening and attached velcro for opening and closing.  There are some high shelves in there for diapers, clothes that he’s not big enough for, and some toys that they have to ask me to play with.  But the whole bottom of the closet is empty for playing in.

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I came up with this sign idea and my awesome husband made it for me.  He made the shelf out of scraps from our garage, as well.  He’s so handy.  You can check him out here or on instagram @creations.integrations.

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Peter Pan sticker for the wall.  We’re going to make a map of Neverland for this corner, too.  We painted the furniture white.  They both used to be an ugly brown.

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The kids just love this room.  I do too.  I kind of want to steal this room for myself.  I love the nice new carpet.  It all smells so nice now.  And it’s so clean.  It’s not a big playroom mess anymore.

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Thanks for visiting!

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Time Gone By

Ever since last summer, I haven’t been feeling up to blogging much. It’s not because I don’t have a million blog post ideas in my head waiting to come out.  Why then?  I realized recently that…I’ve been feeling really down about humanity.  I haven’t been wanting to reach out to the world.  My husband lost his job…you can read about that here…and the world exploded with politics.  I actually find politics interesting, but I have felt overwhelmed by how unkind people have been to each other about it.  You simply cannot read the comments section of anything these days without seeing so much contempt and criticism…name calling and assumptions.  It doesn’t make a person (or, me, anyway) want to write things where the world can see and judge and assume.

But I’ve decided that I need less politics and more…me.  More focus on homeschooling, parenting, marriage, books I love.  A place to talk about family and love and kindness and compassion.  And I love to write.  So here I am.  I can’t promise I will write regularly or super often, but anything is more often than what I’ve been doing.

This post doesn’t have a specific point to it other than to say “hey, it’s been a while…here’s why” but that’s pretty boring.  So here are three things that happened today that I found amusing:

– Big Sis (age 6) came up to me this morning and said “Mommy, look at my outfit.” “Nice.” “Do I look like a robot?” “Umm…what?” “I’m going to robotics today so I wanted to dress like a robot.”  I love this kid and the way she thinks.

– Little Sis (age 4) saw that our kitten was being naughty to our other cat and she ran over and said, “Oh NO way, baby kitty, not on my watch.”  The phrase “not on my watch” is what made me laugh, but I also really love how she stands up to bullies.  Sometimes she is scared that the kitty will bite or claw her, but she sees that the kitty is biting her brother or sister or the other cat and she jumps in there.  She made up what she calls a whistle but really it’s a loud WHOOP and she does that to scare the kitty.  It’s pretty funny.

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Look at this mischievous guy.

– We were playing at a play place and Little Sis took her socks off without me noticing. Another kid came over and took them.  Little Bear, who is two, gasped and intercepted the girl who was running off with the socks.  He said something to her, taking them nicely but firmly. Then went and put them back.  What a sock saving hero! So protective of something that belonged to his sister.  I love how much he adores both sisters.

Haha, well that’s all for now.  Thanks for reading 🙂


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Homeschooling My Kindergartner

One reason that I love homeschooling so much is that it can look so different for everyone.  We can all do what best fits our family…depending on our personalities, how our kids learn, our schedules, and what’s important to us.  Today I’m going to share with you how I’m homeschooling my kindergartner. It might give you some fun ideas, encourage you if you feel like you’re not doing enough, or do absolutely nothing for you.  haha!  But I love reading posts like this and I hope it can help or encourage most of you in some way 🙂

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A Flow for the Day/Week

Following a tight schedule does not work well for us.  I would love to be disciplined enough for a schedule, but it hasn’t happened so far.  And even if I were disciplined, having three children five and under can make it really difficult!  But having a FLOW is really helpful.  I have less arguments with my children when they know what to expect. They know that after breakfast they need to take care of their dishes, brush their teeth and get dressed.  They know that before lunch they need to clean up what they were playing with.  They know that they don’t need to ask for screen time any other time of the day because it’s not going to happen until quiet time if they get their lists for the day done…then I have a schedule for what is allowed each day…educational shows, fun shows, movies or educational apps on the ipad.  There is less complaining because, “hey, it’s what the schedule says!”

Circle Time

I don’t remember to do this as often as I’d like to, but when I do remember to do it my kids LOVE it.  They love singing songs, reading stories, doing yoga, having dance parties, etc.  Really, circle time is just a time in the morning that I’m purposeful about doing these things with them.  We get out the calendar and talk about the week- it’s a time to learn about days of the week, months, years, seasons, etc.  It starts conversations and leads to some fun learning. It also just inspires us to think about the day differently and leads us to creative choices- arts and crafts, treasure hunts, etc. I am working on making it a regular part of our flow.

Read, Read, Read!

Story books.  All kinds of stories.  Stories about friendship.  Stories about compassion.  Stories that rhyme.  Stories that are nothing but silly.  I try to read throughout the day and not just at bedtime, which is easy to do when my kids (especially my one year old) are always asking.  (And by asking I mean literally throwing a book in my face and then climbing onto my lap!  haha)

Nonfiction books. I LOVE nonfiction books that draw in my children, engage them, and excite their curiosity.  The majority of my homeschooling happens simply from reading nonfiction books with my daughter, answering her questions as we read (often we stop reading completely to demonstrate what we are talking about so that she has a deeper understanding), and then sometimes doing fun activities based on subjects she is particularly interested in.  I just wrote this post recently about this and plan to write more in the future so stay tuned!  You can also follow me on instagram if you like…it’s not for Explore Imagine Love…it’s more specifically related to children’s books and homeschooling and I post a lot of Usborne books.

Life of Fred.  Have you heard of Life of Fred? My husbalife of frednd heard about it when he was in college getting ready to become a math teacher. Ever since then I knew
I wanted to use it but had to wait until my daughter was ready. We just started the first of the elementary set recently and Big Sis thinks it’s fun. They are silly stories about a kid named Fred, who wonders and thinks about things. For example, the first chapter talks about arranging pencils in a different way and they still add up to seven. Five and two, six and one, four and three…all make seven. It introduces vocabulary like the word “equals” and it brings up things like telling time, seasons, etc so that we learn about more than just math. I love learning through stories and am excited that she is enjoying it.

Magic Tree House. It is probably obvious by now that I like to learn with stories. One thing we are doing is reading the Magic Tree House books and then doing fun activities along with them based on that subject (castles, dinosaurs, etc.)

*Side note- along with Magic Tree House themes, I’ve purchased a Quest Club homeschooling membership for next year.  My kids are so excited to earn badges as they learn!

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Start to Read books.  My daughter is an amazing reader now.  Check out my upcoming post on how she learned to read.  Honestly, I feel like it just sort of happened…like she taught herself and was just reading one day.  But I have been asked what I did to teach her and, thinking back, there were a lot of things we did to lead up to it.  So I will share about those things in another post!

Writing

My daughter loves to write but she still needs a lot of practice. She’s been asking about cursive and I read that it’s actually a little easier to learn so we’ve just started working on some cursive.  I don’t know that one way is better than the other, but the article makes some interesting points.  My daughter likes to spell a lot of things as he draws them and she likes to make our grocery lists.  She also has shown an interest in writing her own stories- but it’s a little challenging and she gets frustrated on her own so I help a lot.  In order to practice writing, I have gotten her a bunch of wipe clean books and she really enjoys them. I also bought some big lined paper that I actually found at the dollar store, which was awesome. I stocked up and am having her write her answers out for Life of Fred and am encouraging her to use it for when she writes other things too.educational apps

 

Games and Apps

I am definitely careful about the amount of screen time I allow my kids to have. But I also really love technology and even as a kid, really loved staying after school to make silly “newsletters” or use the story maker game. I think it’s awesome how much kids can learn from apps these days. Again, I am pretty picky. If you’d like to see my favorite apps, stay tuned.  I plan to do a post on that soonish. We also really love board games.  We play a lot of them and I think that most games are not only fun, but provide some educational value!  Here’s a list of some of my favorite board games.

Being active

In the summer it is easy to stay active and we are constantly out walking, riding bikes, etc. When it’s snowy outside and I have a baby to lug around, being active does not always come naturally to me, so I am purposeful about making this a thing. We go to gymnastics..it’s a drop in class for homeschoolers of all ages, which fits us perfectly! There is a homeschool PE program at our local YMCA.  And there are fun places to go like an indoor swimming pool, a bouncy house play place, etc and of course we do things at home. We do yoga together and have dance parties and go sledding.  We even have at home gymnastics days sometimes because we can’t always afford to go to the classes.  We do summersaults off the couch onto mattresses, we play follow the leader, and we have a homemade balance beam to play on.

Free Time

Free time is so important and something that they don’t have enough of in public school, in my opinion.  My one year old explores the world and watches his sisters. My three (just turned four) year old is so imaginative…she mostly likes to play with her sister but she’s getting better at solo play.  Her favorite thing is playing “mommy and sweetie.”  And my five year old (just turned six) plays with her siblings, draws, dances, crafts and is teaching herself to play the piano. After she goes to bed she stays up late with a flashlight reading. It works out because she sleeps in until eight. A benefit of homeschooling!

Co-Ops

In my town we have a few different options for co-ops. I just signed up for one for next year, but for Kindergarten and preschool we just found some friends with young kids and met to do crafts, play, go on walks, go to the park, etc.  Especially at this age, your group doesn’t have to do a lot of structured, complicated, educational activities.  It can be more about relationships for the parents and fun for the kids.  They can learn things like how to listen to other adults, how to cooperate with other children, how to take turns and share and handle conflicts…also co-ops are great for doing things together that you can’t really do alone- like have a big Valentine’s party!  Our group was awesome and accomplished just that.  But I’m looking forward to trying something new next year!

If you have young children and liked this post, check out my post for how I homeschool pre-school!

THANKS FOR READING!


How My Husband Lost His Teaching Job

As usual, I have a million blog post ideas that I haven’t had time to write.  I want to write about things like our favorite children’s books and what we’ve been doing with homeschooling.  But instead I have found myself lately feeling like I need to share a story.  Recently my husband lost his job and it’s brought to my mind a LOT of different thoughts. We’ve really learned so much from this experience.  And I feel compelled to share.

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This is my husband working on lesson plans the summer of 2010- we had our first newborn and my husband was crazy excited to start teaching.  Great memories.

My husband taught mathematics at a small rural school for six years.  He was hired just days before our first child was born and it was a huge answer to our prayers.  It was just thirty minutes away from our hometown, which meant that we weren’t going to have to move away from our huge support system and the town we love right before the big transition of having our first baby!  Since then we have had two more children, bought a house, and settled down.

It wasn’t all rainbows and lilacs.  (Aren’t rainbows and lilacs the best? Far better than roses…)  As is the way of things, he got tenure after teaching three years and we breathed easy.  The first three years were extremely stressful.  He could lose his job for no reason at all, which seemed likely for several reasons.

  1. Parents like to complain about teachers who are “giving” their kids bad grades.
  2. Administration didn’t have any of the teacher’s backs.
  3. Education does not seem to be the goal of many people involved in running the school or sending their kids to school.

Happy parents tend to keep quiet and unhappy parents are the ones who speak up.  Even though they were in the minority, they shouted the loudest. Instead of sending the complaining parents to the teachers to talk about classroom policies, what the kids can do to raise their grades, and to build a cooperative relationship between the parent and teacher….the administration listens to the parents and tells the teachers to change their classroom policies without any consideration of the teachers at all.  No matter that teachers have a degree in education and have gone to school for four plus years.  No matter that they put in 8-12 hours per day on this job.  No matter that they attend conferences and different trainings every year to keep their teaching certification up to date.  The parents who are complaining, clearly have more expertise in how classrooms should be run.  The superintendent who never even goes into the classroom to observe or discuss anything with the teachers, but spends all his time talking about sports…he should be the one who makes decisions like that, right?  Makes complete sense.

As for #3…I really didn’t understand this at first.  I didn’t understand why people would be against my husband, who is clearly a good teacher.  But you can’t reason with people who disagree on what the purpose of school is.  Of course people are going to dislike an educator who is trying to hold his students to some educational standards, when they don’t care about education. When parents yell at teachers because of their kids’ bad grades instead of holding their kids accountable for their choices- not turning in homework, not coming in to ask for help, not re-taking their tests for a better grade…there’s not much hope in reasoning with them.  When my husband is talking to a student who has a bad attitude and is trying to encourage him and that student rolls his eyes and says, “stupid common core bull shit”…there is not much hope in reasoning with them…because that kind of attitude does not start with the student- that is coming from the parents.  When the school holds some dance classes for the highschoolers so that they can have a fun time at prom without the overly-sexual “grinding” that usually happens at dances, and the parents decide to rent a “party bus” and park it at the school on prom night so that the kids can party all they want without any rules…there’s not much hope in reasoning with those parents. Do you see what I mean?

My husband is a darned good educator.  Not every student loves him.  I think this can be said for any teacher, but especially a teacher of mathematics, because let’s face it…it’s not everyone’s favorite subject. But even if some people don’t like him, they can’t argue that he was a dedicated teacher who was passionate and knowledgeable about his subject.  He almost never missed a day of school.  He was there crazy early every day and always available if a student needed help.  He recorded all his lectures and made help videos on youtube so that students could get help any time they needed it, even if he wasn’t at school to help them.  He allowed students to turn in homework any time before the end of the quarter for full credit and re-take a test as many times as they needed to.  Although one could argue that this isn’t true to real life lessons (we can vouch for that!), my husband cared more about them learning the subject than learning lessons about deadlines.  He was willing to spend his own time grading all the those test re-takes, too, even though a lot of times the students clearly hadn’t studied any more the second time around.  An educator to the core.

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This was my husband’s classroom.  Our kids are sitting in the desks in this photo because we were making fun little videos with them.  We had our children act out turning in homework and other things like that and then he used the videos to show students different classroom procedures- how to head their papers, how to turn in homework, what to do if you’re late for class or don’t have homework, etc.  It was a fun day.

This year the contracts for the next school year was due a few weeks before they had been due in the recent past, and my husband didn’t notice.  My husband is amazing at a lot of things…but paying attention to paperwork is not one of those things.  Unfortunately, teacher tenure only works if you turn your contract in on time.

When my husband realized his mistake, he rushed to the superintendent to apologize for his mistake and ask to turn it in late.  But the superintendent waved him off and said “too bad.”  This man (the superintendent) had never come into my husband’s classroom to know what kind of teacher he is and had really only said a few words to him the entire time he had been working there- which is less time than my husband had been there.  He had no reason to dislike him, other than maybe gossip- listening to parent complaints.  My husband had served the school for six years, yet this man waved him off like an irritation and told him, like it was nothing, that my husband was going to no longer have a way to pay his mortgage and feed his family of five.  He told him that he could re-apply for the job, but said it like there wasn’t much point in it.  Turns out he was already talking to someone who he wanted to be an activities director (planning sporting events, etc.) and I think some sort of coach too, and it turns out this guy also teaches math.  So they decided to hire him instead.  They decided to fire a quality educator who had served the school for six years and hire someone who was more sports-oriented.  Not to say that the new guy is not an awesome teacher.  But he could have been hired for the sports things and my husband still could have kept his job. Because really, these are two different full time jobs.  I really don’t know how they plan to have the new guy do everything they hired him to do unless they cut some of the math classes that they have offered in the past…which is what it sounds like they are going to be doing.

This story is not just about my husband.  It is just one example of how teachers are often treated at this school.  This is going to be too long already to go into other stories though, so I’ll just stick to ours.

Now, you might be thinking, “she’s just bitter.  How much of this is really true?”  Haha.  I get that.  I think that sometimes when I read blog posts too.  But here’s what went down:

  • After my husband realized his mistake (because of rumors that he wasn’t coming back, not because the administration bothered to ask him about it or let him know he’d missed the deadline), he tried to turn in his contract and was waved away on Monday the 6th around 9am.  The superintendent said it was too late and that he’d already advertised the position.
  • The position was not actually advertised until 2pm that day (Monday).
  • On Tuesday the 7th, my husband asked to add an item to the school board meeting agenda about getting his job back, because the board is who votes and gets to make the decisions on issues like this.  The superintendent said no.
  • My husband re-applied for his job.  It took us a while to get a resume and cover letter made, letters of recommendation written, transcript copies, etc.  The application said that incomplete applications would not be considered, so we made sure to turn in a complete application.  We weren’t able to get it in until Friday morning.  In the meantime the superintendent called in the guy he had in mind and interviewed him on Thursday.
  • My husband contacted a board member about his situation.  There are two board members who are pro-teacher and two who are not.  Another board member is new so we weren’t sure, but she’s really good friends with one who is not for teachers, so we didn’t have much hope.  Basically, anything the superintendent wants to do is backed by the board because he “has the votes,”as he said many times to different people during this ordeal. But the two board members who are pro-teacher were fired up about the situation.  They called a special meeting.
  • The three board members who were against us said they were not available on Monday the 13th for the special meeting.  So the pro-teacher board members asked for a special meeting at 6:00 the night of the normal board meeting.  The normal board meeting was schedule for 7:00 on Tuesday the 14th.  The three board members “couldn’t make that” either.
  • We packed the place Tuesday at 7:00.  We had to wait through other agenda items and speak up in the “public comment” time, since they had refused to add us to the agenda.  Students, former students, teachers, and parents wrote letters in support of my husband and many people showed up to the board meeting to speak in favor of the board voting to allow my husband to stay.  People spoke in his favor for at least an hour.

The board admitted that there wasn’t any evidence against him as a teacher, in fact the opposite, they admitted that he is a great teacher… but were voting against him simply because he didn’t turn his contract in on time- they smiled at us and basically just told us that it was the consequence of his own action.  A teacher was there who said that this has happened three times that she can remember in her 23 years there and every time the teacher had been allowed to turn in their contract late.  Maybe with a punishment, like taking away tenure, but still allowing the teacher to keep her job.  There is no policy that says they can’t have grace for a teacher and accept a late contract.  In fact, two board members kept making motions to vote to hire him back…motions that were ignored by the others.

When people asked why he didn’t bother to interview and consider my husband for the job, the superintendent waved that thought aside (he spent most of this time hunched over, looking down, and waving at people like their points were completely invalid.)  He said that my husband hadn’t let anyone know that he still wanted the job and that he didn’t bother to turn in his application until Friday.  (WHAT?! If you take a look at my little time line, you can see that my husband made it clear that he wanted his job back and considering we had no notice that he was going to have to be applying to jobs any time soon, I’d say we got our application in in a reasonable amount of time.)

Everyone in that room saw through the smiling board members’ BS and knew that they were not allowing him to return because they just simply didn’t want to…they had their own agenda and their priority was not to keep on a dedicated, quality educator.

The board meeting was amazing.  If you have to get fired, I highly recommend it happening in a room full of supportive people saying amazing things about you.  After six years of feeling so completely helpless as his wife, of listening to how people treated him and being able to do nothing, it felt great to be able to say something…even if it wasn’t much, and even though I got cut off because I had too much to say (What?  Me?  Long winded?!) 😉   And it was touching to be able to see and hear from people who felt he had made a difference in their lives.  To hear that all the hard work that he put into his job…getting up at 4am, spending his free time grading tests, making all those youtube videos….that his efforts meant something to people…that was huge for both of us.

Highlights of the night:

There were many letters and many people who spoke up, but I was especially touched by a woman who works as a secretary at the school.  She said that she’s seen it all- shady ways of dealing with things, the way that the administration treats its teachers- and she never speaks up for fear of losing her job and for confidentiality purposes, but this crossed the line. She wasn’t going to come but she was there because her son told her that it was the right thing to do. And she agreed and decided to put her own fears aside and speak up for what was right.

Her son, now a 20 year old in college, said that he’s at the Univeristy now majoring in music/education.  He wrote a letter in support of my husband and then at the end, when it was clear that the board was not going to vote in our favor anyway, he stood up and said, “I go to the University.  When I tell people that I graduated from here, I get laughed at, so thanks for that. They name names.  There are people here who give this school a bad name, and I’ll tell you what, it’s not THIS guy.” (Points at my husband.)  He had tears in his eyes and apologized for getting emotional and told them that they could probably learn something about that.  ha!  (They do seem like feelingless robots.)

A man who was there for some other issue and had no idea that this was going to be happening stood up and said that his kids had mixed reviews of my husband, which is normal.  But that even if they had all hated him, that everything being said here tonight would convince him that firing my husband was the wrong thing to do. That people obviously think he is a quality educator, and besides, it’s bad business.  It’s not just about my husband’s job, it’s about teacher and community morale. Clearly the teachers who are there do not feel supported by the administration and board.

A pro-teacher board member made a motion that the board re-hire my husband.  Then another board member did some sort of substitution motion that they hire the new guy.  The board member who made the original motion is an older gentleman, probably in his 70’s.  He’d been involved with the school board for a long time but wasn’t completely familiar with the idea of a substitute motion.  So the board member who made the substitute motion, said the name of the rule and called the man “buddy” like he was an idiot.  Wow!  So disrespectful…seeing that and understanding his attitude toward the people around him made me understand why he was voting against us.  Anyway, after they made the vote against my husband, the whole room got up and left…including the two board members who were rooting for us.  It was amazing.  Granted, we had been there for three hours, but they had only made it through half of the agenda. Those two board members didn’t care and left with the rest of the room anyway.

So there you have it.  It was an awful and amazing experience.  He needed to get out of that toxic environment anyway, and I wonder if this was God’s way of giving him a push. The biggest blow is the income of course- we were finally going to be making enough to start not being so tight.  And now we’re starting over.

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Onesies I made for our firstborn when my husband got his new job.  He’s a total math nerd.  I hope that he finds a way to use his math nerdiness in a way that is appreciated.  🙂

That’s the end of my story, and you can stop there if you want, but I do have a few more thoughts.

There’s a lot of talk, especially after the Waiting For Superman documentary, about how it’s impossible to “get rid of all the bad teachers” out there.  Some food for thought:

  • It is possible to fire a teacher with tenure.  And not just if they make a mistake like my husband did.  If there is documentation that the teacher is actually doing a poor job, you can get a teacher fired, although it is a long process.  If a teacher is actually doing a poor job, it is possible.  (Or you can do what this school is doing, and treat them poorly and hope that they quit!)
  • But you see what happens when a teacher doesn’t have tenure?  A rotten school board can choose not to rehire a teacher for ANY reason, even with there’s a TON of evidence that he is in fact a GREAT teacher.  I know that this can be the case with any job, really, but I’ve had a lot of jobs and have never felt the stress of getting fired like my husband felt (although I’m sure there are other jobs out there with this same stress.)  I don’t know- I’m not pro-tenure per se.  I understand the argument for a merit-based system…but who decides if a teacher has merit? If students have bad attitudes about education and don’t test well, do we fire the teacher?  If loud parents want their kids to get good grades easily without actually learning anything, and they want a school that focuses on sports, do we fire the “tough” teacher whose primary focus is education?
  • Seriously, where are all of these “bad” teachers? Nobody is going to do things exactly the way that anyone else would do them.  And taking into consideration a highschool teacher has probably about six different classes with 15-30 students in each class…so up to about 180 kids per semester?  What are the odds that even half of those parents are going to love every single thing that teacher does?  Looking back on all my years in school, I can think of about four teachers (elementary through college) that I didn’t really like.  And I wouldn’t say that they were “bad” teachers and I definitely wouldn’t say they deserved to be fired.  I just didn’t jive with them. I still learned from them.  They still worked hard to educate us. Teachers have an awfully hard job.  They have to be really passionate about what they do to stick with it.  Because we’re driving teachers away!
  • This should be a given, apparently it’s not, but I really think we ought to treat every human that we come into contact with like a human ought to be treated.  We shouldn’t call politicians bad names when we disagree on an issue or curse at the guy on the phone about your bill or treat a waitress like dirt because she got our order wrong or yell at teachers when our kids aren’t passing a class (or teach our kids to have bad attitudes about their own education because you dislike common core or some other education policy.)

To conclude this incredibly long, rambling post (thanks to everyone still reading!) go thank a teacher today!  Don’t let the negatives be louder than the positives.  🙂

 


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Teaching By Example

It happens every year.  The weather gets nice, the wasps come out, and Big Sis starts to freak out and want to stay inside.

I do want to try and do something about them.  They are all over our yard and they like to sting.  Big Sis and I have both been stung.  BUT I also want my daughter to learn that she doesn’t have to stay indoors.  Obviously.

Picture of Bees and Wasps - IRSo I bought her book on bees and wasps because these books are amazing for preschoolers and younger elementary for learning cool things in an easy to understand way.  She can actually read it herself, which is exciting for her.  I want her to see how awesome bees are for pollinating the world and creating honey, the difference between bees and wasps, and why bees or wasps sting.

“When you are scared of something.  The best thing you can do is to learn about it.  Then we don’t have to be so scared.  When we know all about the wasps we can be cautious, but not so afraid.”

Says the mom who can’t keep her eyes open any time a snake or spider is even just on TV.

I mean, I do what I need to do.  I can MOM-UP, you know?

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This was the trip that I went Chuck Norris on the giant nasty spider.

There was a seriously GIANT spider hanging off the baby carrier that my husband had on his back on a hike one time.  (See the photo to the left…my tiny little first born all set up for a nice long hike with her little stuffed animal giraffe hanging by a rope to keep her company when she wanted it.)  So the giant spider was hanging by a long silvery spider web, starting to make it’s way toward my child.  If I had asked my husband to take care of it, it might be too late, or we might lose it.  I am not a spider catch and releaser.  I need to know that it’s all the way dead and never coming back to crawl around on its eight nasty legs toward me or my family ever again.  So I totally went NINJA on that thing, kicking it out of the air onto the ground and stomping the heck out of it; protecting my baby like a boss.  And then when it was over I danced around, trying to shake off the memory of what I had just done because OH MY GOODNESS IT WAS THE NASTIEST SPIDER!

Another time I was on a nature trail just me and the kids.  Baby on my back and two girls walking.  We came across a snake laying across the trail.  What kind of snake you ask?  Who the eff cares.  It was a freaking snake and I wanted to run away crying.  But instead I stood there watching it, trying to decide how to proceed.  It wasn’t moving.  Was it dead?  I made the girls stand back and I got a VERY long stick and poked at him.  He didn’t move.  Maybe he was dead.  So I took the girls’s hands and we tried to go around it as far away and cautiously as possible.  Then I saw his tongue move.  I calmly told the girls to keep walking and I backed away as quickly as possible, stick in hand, not wanting to take my eyes off of it until I was far enough away that I felt I could turn around.  Then we ran…for fun of course.  Because I didn’t want them to be scared.  Don’t worry, we survived.  Barely.

My point.

I definitely have my fears.  In fact, as much as I want to take my kids to the local Insectarium so that they can learn about bugs and face THEIR fears, I really secretly do not want to go and have to face MINE.  

So I decided to challenge myself and learn about snakes and spiders.  It’s a small step, I know.  You aren’t going to find me standing in line for tarantuala feeding time at the Insectarium and there is no way I’m going to touch a snake any time soon.  But it’s a step even just to follow my own advice and purposefully learn about them.  Because even just looking at pictures of them creeps me out.

Writing this post creeps me out.

What are your fears and how have you faced them?  Has becoming a parent inspired you to be different so you don’t pass your fears along to your children, or at least so you can be an example of how to not let those fears rule your choices (like spending time outdoors)?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Thanks for reading!


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Fairy Tea Party

Spring is here!  The changing of seasons is great time for a fairy tea party.

fairy house liora
We did one in the fall and it was great fun.  I wanted to keep the party small so I decided just to invite our girl friends.  The girls all dressed up as fall fairies and everyone contributed some yummy fall food.  Apple-cranberry chicken salad sandwiches, pumpkin bread, apple crisp, etc.  We had cinnamon tea and apple cider and drank them in adorable little tea cups.  We had our gathering outside, surrounded by apple trees and fall leaves.  It was lovely.

fall fairy tea party group

After the tea party all the girls gathered on a picnic blanket and I read this Fairy Houses book.  It is a really cute story about a girl who makes a fairy house in the woods and waits for fairies to come enjoy the house.  While she waits, the house is visited by different forest creatures.  I like that it talks about only using things from nature, which is really good to keep in mind when building a fairy house in the forest.  We did not follow these rules because we were making our houses for our backyards 🙂

After the story all the girls made their own fairy house.  The houses were adorable!  They were all very different.  The girls all brought their own fairy house base and some craft supplies to share.

fairy house paige

Big Sis set her house up under a lilac bush, and even made a little tree for her fairy.  Then she put a toy fairy in there to live.  Because although she loves to dream and pretend and imagine, she is far too practical to think that a real fairy would come to live in her house.  haha

fairy house

I hope someone decides to have a spring fairy party!  Let me know how it goes 🙂

Thanks for reading!

 

This post contains an affiliate link.  It does not affect you at all, but if you see something you like and decide to purchase it, if you use my link you will be helping to support me and my family!  Thanks!


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Board Games We Love

We are big board game fans in this house.  I’m going to share some of my favorites and why I like them.  I enjoy posts like this because this is how I find out about a lot of things- apps, board games, etc.  So I thought I’d do my own.  I’m starting with my favorite games for preschoolers and working up to games my husband and I love to play together.

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UNO MOO: I wasn’t a big fan of this game when I first got it.  I thought it was a little boring.  But I like it better now and my kids LOVE it.  Unlike Candy Land (which is another good game for colors), it doesn’t evoke strong negative emotions (you can’t get sent back to the beginning of the board…if you draw a skunk you draw two, if you don’t have something to play you draw one…that’s it), it’s great for working on matching, and my five and three year old can play it all by themselves.  Huge bonus.  The game is just like UNO but more simple. 2-4 players ages 3 and up.

Another one that my kids can usually manage to play on their own is Memory. Lots of versions out there. We have the Disney Princess Matching Game version.

Sturdy Birdy: I bought this game for my three year old who isn’t really into sitting down and playing games for very long.  Everyone takes turns doing silly yoga-like poses while balancing a bean bag on a certain body part and counting to a certain number rolled by dice. 2-4 players.  It says ages 5 and up.  And that’s probably legitimate for balance purposes.  We change the rules up a bit for my three year old.

Sequence for Kids:  This is one of the few games for preschoolers I’ve played that I actually enjoy.  You get to put a chip on the board on the animal that matches the card you are playing, and you try to get four in a row.  We play it with older kids…eight and ten year olds…and they like it too.  2-4 players.  Ages 3 and up.

Spell Trek: This game is SO AWESOME.  There are a bunch of cards with words on them and the vowels are missing.  Each turn you pick a vowel and try to use it to complete one of the words in your hands and as you complete words you get to move around the board.  My three year old is too young to really get it but she thinks it’s pretty fun and we get to practice talking about letters and the sounds they make.  My five year old is already reading and knows her vowels but she gets to work on spelling and learn new words.  Our friend who is eight played this game with us and thought it was really fun even though she didn’t really learn anything, and I enjoy it too!  2-4 players ages 6 and up (they say) but I would say definitely 4 and up can easily enjoy it.

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Spell Trek is a Simply Fun board game, which my friend sells.  They are quality educational games, perfect for homeschooling…or just for fun.  We’ve liked every game we’ve played but I can’t post about them ALL here (too many!) so I’ll do another post on that another time.

Enchanted Forest: This is our favorite family game. You make your way through the enchanted forest and try to remember the treasures that are hidden under the trees.  Once you find the treasure that is currently at the castle, you make your way to the castle to try to claim that treasure.  It is a great memory game.  Tricky for my preschooler, but she plays on a team.  My kindergartner loves it.  Ages 6 and up, 2-6 players

Qwirkle Board Game: We were introduced to this game by a friend as a game for adults…but since then we’ve bought it and play with kids all the time.  It’s tricky for our five year old, but she’s getting the hang of it!  You have a bunch of tiles with shapes and colors on them and you play them like you would Scrabble sort of…laying them out in rows and columns.  Each row/column can only have one of each kind of tile.  So if you want to lay three stars down, they all have to be a different color and in order to complete the qwirkel and get more points, you finish the row with one of every color.  You can also do a row all of the same color but there has to be one of each shape.  2-4 players, ages 6 and up

Blokus: This game is fun for older kids and adults.  My husband and I like to play it while we’re watching a show after the kids are in bed.  But our eight and ten year old friends who are over a lot enjoy it as well.  You have differently shaped tiles that you have to play a certain way and you try to play as many as you can.  The person with the least tiles left after nobody else can play wins. 2-4 players ages 7 and up.

SET Card Game: This is not something you can play while watching a show…it takes concentration for sure…but it’s still a game my husband and I like to play together at night.  There are three different colors, 3 shapes, three numbers, and 3 styles of shading.  Cards are laid out for all to see and when you find a set, you call it and grab it.  There are multiple to make a set.  My mathematical husband loves this game.  1-20 players ages 6 and up…although I’d recommend it for a bit older than six.

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Carcassonne: Build farms, cities and roads to earn points.  I love this the most as a two person game but it says 2-5 players.  Ages 8 and up.

Splendor: I’ve only played this once but it is already one of my favorites and definitely makes the list.  Simply put, you buy cards with different jewels and you try to get the most points. This game is more advanced than Qwirkel but still would be a good family game with older kids.  Ages 10 and up.  2-4 players.

Ticket To Ride: Complete your tickets by building trains across the map and earn points.  This is my husband’s and my favorite game to play because we both really love it.  (Most games one of us loves it more than the other.)  2-5 players ages 8 and up (although I think in order to really get the strategy and keep up with adult players, most kids will do better if they are a bit older.)

Agricola:  This is my favorite game.  But it is super complicated and takes a long time to learn.  You build a farm- add on rooms to your house, upgrade from a wooden hut to a clay house to a stone cottage, build pastures for animals, plow fields, plant grains and veggies, feed your family at harvest time.  The more rooms you have, the more people you have room for, the more turns you can take in each round.  The more fields and pastures you have, the more food you have access to for feeding your family.  But you can only do so many things in a turn…so you have to figure out your priorities!  There are different occupation cards and improvement cards to help you out and change up the game each time you play.  So fun.  If you play it so often that you want a change, the game comes with two other decks of cards to mix things up!!  2-5 players.  Ages 12 and up.

DixIt:  This is a fun game for a small group of adults.  There are different versions of this game.  You have a bunch of cards in your hand all that have different art work.  The art work is gorgeous and has a lot of symbolism, which is cool for game purposes.  When it’s your turn, you choose a card from your hand and say a word or phrase or even hum a tune.  Everyone else puts in a card from their own hand that goes with what you said.  Then you lay all the cards out and everyone tries to guess what your card was.  Points are awarded to people who get it right, to people whose card was guessed as the correct one, but really wasn’t, and to the person who said the clue if some people, but not everyone, guess your card correctly.  It’s the most fun with more people.  3-6 players.  Ages 8 and up.  (So it says.  I’ve never played this game with children.)

Balderdash:  We’ve played The Game of Things and Loaded Questions…all which are similar to this one, but this is my favorite.  You have to come up with definitions to weird words, information about crazy laws, and synopsis for obscure movie titles, etc.  There is one real answer that is read with all the answers everyone else comes up with and everyone has to guess which one is the correct one.  You get points if people guess yours.  This is my one of my favorite party games, along with classics like Pictionary, Password, Pit, Cranium, Scattergories, Taboo, and the not as well known Squint.

There are so many fun games out there!  I couldn’t even narrow it down to ten.  Ten was my goal but I ended up with fourteen.  Oh well.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOARD GAMES?!  I would love to hear about your favorites.

 

This post contains affiliate links.  If you happen to want to purchase one of the games I mentioned, if you wouldn’t mind using the links, that would help support me, my blog, and my family ❤  The Simply Fun links support my friend Marissa.  I’m not getting compensated for posting about any of these products…I just chose my favorite games and linked to them.  Thanks a bunch!