Sunday, April 27, 2008

Our Allowance System

To give or not to give: allowances are one of those perplexing parenting decisions. The simple system I'll describe below is what works for our family. Various parenting and financial programs do not necessarily endorse this type of system of payment; indeed, many do not recommend giving allowances at all. In our marriage, Randy came from an allowance-giving family. He liked it. I came from a non-allowance-family. I did not like that. It wasn't about the money for me; it was about having to ask for money and having to justify every purchase. Also, the Brady Bunch kids all got allowances. Sensibly, we decided early on that we'd give our children an allowance. That is the extent of our philosophy.

We start giving an allowance of a quarter at age 5. With this allowance comes the responsibility of making one's bed each morning. At this age, we are guiding the child with bed-making, and by 5 and a half, the child can make a decent bed. We raise the allowance at the half-year mark by a quarter. On every birthday, we raise the allowance again. I'm not really sure that we have a scientific pattern for this, but right now at age 7, Duncan gets $1/week, and at age 15, Jesse gets $5/week. Laurel is right in the middle with $2.75/week.

As they get older, the have more and more household responsibilities which are directly tied to their allowances. The older kids must have their rooms cleaned on a certain day of the week. (This day changes depending on what our schedule is like that particular year.) If they don't clean their room one week, they don't get their allowance. If they don't clean their room the second week, they must pay ME the amount of their allowance to clean the room for them. I believe this has only happened once per child. Other responsibilities include, upon request: setting the table, taking out the trash, feeding the dog, helping me clean house, clearing the dinner table, basic home maintenance, etc.

Our kids are motivated by receiving their allowances because they often have "big ticket" items for which they must save. For Duncan, a big ticket item might cost $5; but Laurel has saved enough to buy an American Girl doll, and Jesse has purchased clothes, an iPod, guitar amp, etc. Big ticket items usually include adding some of their birthday money from grandparents into the pot, but the kids are required to put a portion of their birthday money into their savings accounts.

We also have jobs for which we pay extra money. When Duncan was a preschooler, I would pay a sibling a quarter to play with him for 15 minutes so that I could do one-on-one schooling with the other child. Other jobs include: deep cleaning of a specific room, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, painting, sweeping off the driveway, cleaning the car, etc. Prices vary on these jobs, from $5 for mowing the lawn to 50 cents for pulling a bucket of weeds.

I've heard some people say that their kids aren't motivated by money. If this is true, you may have kids that are totally not materialistic, or you may be buying them too much stuff yourself. Why should they be motivated to save money if they know that we will buy them whatever they want? My youngest always wanted to buy ridiculous things out of the gumball machines at grocery stores. I would occasionally give him a quarter to do so until I realized he was expecting that quarter. The past couple of years, I just remind him before we go to a store: "If you want to buy a gumball (or a tacky gold necklace), make sure you bring your own quarter." Amazing how this has cut down on the number of cheap plastic objects around our house.

Like I said, this is the system that works for our family. We're hoping that we raise children we will know how to manage money because they've had their own to manage since early childhood, and we also hope that they will value the responsibilities that come with being part of a family. Ask me again in 15 years how this all turns out...

Comments from former blog; scroll down to add a new one.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 - too funny
Posted by onfire (
must be something about youngest boys. while we were at your place, E wanted to buy a tacky necklace in the stuffmart gumball dispenser. He had his own stash of loose change, so he bought the desired thing ... only to realize that the chain it goes on was another $5 from the second machine. nice lesson learned.
I personally believe the tn flipflops were a better purchase. Too bad they ripped while he was being a gentleman and holding the door for someone.
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Monday, April 28, 2008 - Untitled Comment
Posted by sadie423 (
We need a well devised system....we randomly do allowance now, and I reward for a job well done, like when Rylan vacuums the entire house....I have one saver and one spender....Cale would spend all his money on trinkets and such if I let him....Rylan is much more conservative....but that travels over to almost everything they do....not just money
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Monday, April 28, 2008 - Good Plan!
Posted by lcourtneymom (
We also do allowance with a very similar system to what you described. Our dc have to divide allowance between spending, saving and giving, and they each have a savings account at the bank.

I think an allowance is very necessary in teaching money management.
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Sunday, May 4, 2008 - Untitled Comment
Posted by JHS (
Thanks for participating in this week's Carnival of Family Life hosted by Riley at All Rileyed Up! Be sure to drop by and check out the other wonderful submissions included in this week's Carnival!

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Sunday, May 4, 2008 - allowances
Posted by Riley (
Great tips! I've been thinkin of implementing an allowance with my son when he turns six because he's starting doing small tasks around the house with success. I had an allowance when I was growing up and it was a great way to teach me to save up to buy the things I wanted. Thanks for contributing to the carnival of family life!
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Book Review: Three by Barefoot Books

April 26, 2008

Barefoot Books is a relatively new publisher, started in 1993 by moms Nancy Traversy and Tessa Strickland. They describe their story and vision:
When you start out, no one has heard of you, and you wonder if anyone is going to listen to what you have to say. No one was publishing books quite like ours—would anyone buy them? We believed they would; we just had to find our way to parents and educators who shared our values. This is what we care about: first, we're convinced that it's never too early to introduce children to other cultures. We believe too that children can appreciate high-quality art, and enjoy the music as well as the meaning of language from a very early age.

I love books that feature different cultures, and Barefoot Books does this well. My first-grader loves three "travel" books: We're Sailing to Galapagos, We All Went on Safari, and We're Sailing Down the Nile. First of all, the books are gorgeous. The illustrations are bright and colorful without being too chaotic and cluttered. Each book gives geographical and cultural details in fun, sing-song verses.

We're Sailing to Galapagos: A Week in the Pacific, is our favorite. The rhyming text introduced the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, from albatrosses to lava crabs. Duncan loves the repeated chorus:
"We're sailing to Galapagos, Galapagos, Galapagos,
We're sailing to Galapagos. I wonder who we'll see."

This book made me want to do a unit study on the Galapagos! The last several pages of the book give more detail about the Islands and its animal inhabitants.

We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey Through Tanzania, is beautiful counting/language/ culture/wildlife book. A group of Maasai people journey over Tanzanian grasslands and past acacia trees, counting various African animals--in both English and Swahili. Like the Galapagos book, this one devotes several pages at the end to information about the Maasai people, the Swahili language, and facts about Tanzania. This would be a great supplement to any study of African countries.

We're Sailing Down the Nile: A Journey Through Egypt is the least engaging of the three for us. Somehow the rhythm doesn't flow as well as the other two, and the illustrations weren't as engaging. I guess also, there is so much great material out there already about Egypt but not much about Tanzania and the Galapagos, so the first two books really stood out for me.

I think Barefoot Books will be a solid contender in the children's book market. The books are reminiscent of Usborne Books but with more of a cultural rather than historical focus--and the illustrations are more vibrant. I see on their site that, like Usborne, one can run a home-based business by selling Barefoot Books. I used to sell Usborne in this way and accumulated a wonderful library; if my children were younger, I'd consider selling Barefoot! They also have an affiliate program like Amazon. Don't be surprised if you see an affiliate button on my blog in a few days!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Heart of the Matter Meme: Happy Habits of a Homeschooler

April 25, 2008

I must admit this meme perplexes me. How can a habit be happy? Sometimes my grammatical twitches can be smothering.

And so, habits. Good, happy habits.

* Our electronic toys rule: Two hour maximum per child on TV, computer, Playstation. None of that stuff between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. I actually make a little chart each day for my younger two so they can see how much time they've used and how much they have left. This takes out all the guesswork and put an end to that afternoon and lunchtime "Can I watch TV?" When their time is done, it's done.

* Room cleaning:
The kids must all make their beds and pick up 10 things in their rooms each morning. On Saturdays, their rooms must be completely clean in order to receive their allowance.

* Reading aloud:
This is such a pivotal part of our life that I forget sometimes that not everyone reads with their children for 2 or more hours each day. I can't imagine life without this. That is what I love so much about Sonlight--it's all about the reading.

* Independent work schedules:
For my 5th and 9th graders, this has been a lifesaver in the past 2 years. I write down my daughter's independent work day-by-day for the week, and for my 9th grade son, I write down a list of everything that needs done for the whole week. My 9th grader does everything on his own but of course he needs to know what to do. My 5th grader works partly with me and partly on her own, so when it's time for me to work with my 1st grader, she has her list to go to.

* Craft supplies:
I keep a hefty store of craft supplies of all sorts in easy access. I don't hinder their creativity by putting them up on shelves and insisting they come to me when they want to use supplies. We also have an "invention tub" that holds everything from styrofoam packing to pie tins. Paper, glue, markers, crayons--this stuff is always in a state of disarray, but they use it, by themselves, at moments like this when I am, well, blogging instead of starting school like I should be. Which brings me to...

* Flexibility: A very happy habit.

Post A Comment!.....


Friday, April 25, 2008 - Great ideas!

Posted by Anonymous (

Flexibility is definitely a happy habit!


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Friday, April 25, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Eileen (CoffeeBean) (

I love your electronic toys rule and chart. During the long, cold, snowy winter we just had, my 4 year old watched waaaay too much TV. I really try to limit it but it gets away from me. I think I'll do the chart. Thanks for the idea!


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Friday, April 25, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Ellen (

My daughters would just love it if I put together an "invention tub". I'm glad to know that flexibility is a good habit. That is one that I have thankfully developed over the years.

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Friday, April 25, 2008 - wonderful habits

Posted by Jennifer in OR (

I loved your list, especially the reading aloud and the invention tub!! I have one child - my oldest son - who is an inventor extraordinaire. I need to keep all his stuff in one place, so I'll be implementing this idea for sure.

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Friday, April 25, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (

As I'm getting more and more into this homeschooling thing, I'm seeing that flexibility will need to become a habit!
I love the reading aloud and the limit on electronics!
Celly B

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Friday, April 25, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Suzanne (

Flexibility is definitely a happy habit!

I need to develop some of the disciplinary habits you mention here... in my own life. :)

(Not to sound "juvenile," but thanks for leaving me a comment.)

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Saturday, April 26, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by NannyJayne (

Yes - flexibility is key! And I really like your room cleaning ways - nice approach, I'll have to try it!!

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Saturday, April 26, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Margaret (

Really like your habits, especially the room cleaning! I don't do so well on that one...

Reading aloud - yes, I forget too that not everyone reads aloud like we do!

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Saturday, April 26, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by lcourtneymom (

I love your happy habits list! I'm working on the flexibilty part. Amazingly, the more years I homeschool (and the more kids I've had) I'm getting better at it. :-)

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Sunday, April 27, 2008 - follow up questions

Posted by Anonymous (

This is very helpful. Since my three are 6, 4 and almost 2, I am not quite at the delegate independent work stage. However, I do have a couple of questions.
How did you decide allowance amounts? Are they the same amount for all three kids, or do they vary depending on age?
Also, what is the "standard" for the crafty area? Do your kids know to put the stuff away when they're done? I would like to permit more access, but maybe that's just unrealistic with a toddler in the house. (marker on walls, tubs, toilets, rugs, etc.!)

:) Thanks!


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Sunday, April 27, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by SmallWorld (

Carole: My answer to your allowance question was so long that I made a separate post out of it:

About crafts: I have a couple of different places for crafts. I have a cabinet in the kitchen where we keep a big box of crayons, markers, glue, scissors, and paper. The can get this stuff out anytime--and put it back. We also have an enclosed sunporch which is the official craft room. The reality is, I desperately want this to be cleared of all craft materials so I can make it a sweet little place of quiet retreat. But that's for a different season of my life. For now, they have Rubbermaid-type totes for painting supplies, playdough, markers, glue, etc. and a 6-drawer plastic unit for paper, stamps, old magazines and calendars, and other supplies. A big tub holds the mentioned invention materials. We have two tables set up for them to work on. I must admit here that I am not particularly vigilant about seeing that they put their supplies away. Because the room is closed off, it is often "out of sight, out of mind." As they get older, however, I am becoming better about reminding them that "if you get it out, you put it away."

With the age of your children, I would absolutely designate a place for crafts, which is usually the kitchen table. We didn't allow the kids to have craft supplies in their rooms until they showed an acceptable degree of self-control and common sense. Flexibility in using craft supplies will come as your kids get older.

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Book Review: Boston Tea Party

April 25, 2008

Here in our own small world, we have been immersed in the Revolutionary War era for several weeks now. This fabulous picture book written by Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrated by Henry Cole really ties it all together in a way that was perfect for both my 1st and 5th graders. The story is actually told in imitation of the nursery rhyme "This is the house that Jack built," which sounds really silly, but it was incredibly effective. The narrative opens with "These are the leaves that grew on a bush in a far off land and became part of the Boston Tea Party" and builds from there, to ultimately lead to "These are Americans, independent and free..." In between the story of the prelude to the Revolutionary War is told. At the bottom of each page, a chorus of mice spout off more details about this time period. Sounds weird, I know, but those are smart little mice. And the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. This is a book that needs to start being on all of the lists of "recommended reading for the Revolutionary War."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wednesday Miscellany

April 23, 2008

* Do you ever think, "Eek! I'm behind on blogging!" I'm trying to psychoanalyze myself on that whole thought process, but I don't get very far.

* These past few weeks have been insane. Absolutely, crazily nonstop. It all started on March 29 with our Homeschooling 101, and then the next week brought the start of Tuesday night Small Group at our house, and then I had a 4-day trip to Cincinnati for the American Heritage Girls National Leadership Convention, and then Dr. H. had a 4-day trip to a conference, and mixed in with all of that was regular life: homeschooling, teaching classes at our co-op, maintaining our home, American Heritage Girls, music lessons, etc. etc. etc. And sandwiched in with all of that, two new babies in our family and the emotional strain of having one baby in the NICU. And, because we didn't have enough excitement in April, Mom and Dad decided to buy a house down the street.

* So, just today I've finally posted Project 52 from the past few weeks. April is the month that rivals October for beauty here in Tennessee. As amazing as autumn is with its reds, oranges, and yellows, April's pinks, purples, and greens are just as spectacular. Dr. H. will likely disagree, I know, but I think his spring allergies cause him to rate autumn more highly on the scale. Just look at this exquisite dogwood! And to think, that is right outside my back door. That still amazes me.

* Mom and Dad bought a house yesterday, and then headed back up to New York today. This all happened so quickly. From November through mid-April, my parents have come down to Tennessee for the past 7 years. We have an apartment attached to our house that has been their snowbird home. Of course, we've been trying to get them to move down here permanently all of this time, but for various reasons they have not felt ready until now. And when they make a firm decision, they act upon it! They've been eying a particular house just down the street for a few months now, and, as it turns out, it's perfect for them. Everything has gone so smoothly, and they'll close next month. When they'll actually move down here permanently is up-in-the-air. They have to go back to New York and put their house on the market and pack up a lifetime.

Usually, the day that my parents leave to go back to New York is a hard one. The house feels so empty for the first few days. But this time we all parted joyfully, knowing that when they come back again, it'll be for good.

In spite of the back-to-back obligations of this past month, the Lord has lavished love and blessings upon us, and joy abounds. We are blessed beyond measure.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Memory: Grandbabies

April 21, 2008

Perhaps nothing marks the passage of time so clearly to me at this point in my life as this: my little nieces, the granddaughters in the photo above, are mommies (April, the middle one in the picture, has two step-children). And more than that, my brothers are now grandfathers. What amazes me in the photo above is how young my parents were when they were grandparents during these early years. Since I am so much younger than these brothers, my own children have had older grandparents. They were in their mid-50s then; now they are in their 80s.

My second oldest brother, John, and Abigail, born March 31.

My third oldest brother, Peter, and Justus, born March 16.

While we are past diapers and pacifiers, Dr. H. and I are still in deep in the world of plastic toys, loose teeth, and bath times. It seems impossible that someday Dr. H. and I will hold the little heads of our grandbabies, and this is when I hear all those church ladies whispering:
"Enjoy them while they're young; time goes too fast."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

April 19, 2008

I've been putting off this review for a couple of weeks now. How can I possibly express the utter perfection of this novel? I first read Harper Lee's phenomenal debut when I was in high school. I fell madly in love with it and read it again. Read it again in college, again in my 20s and in my 30s. It is the only book I have read more than twice (other than the Bible) since I was a child. I have always maintained that it is my favorite book, and after reading it again in my 40s, I wish that a spot existed higher than #1.

Why do I love this novel so much? I think because everything that matters is here. Jesus said that that the two greatest commandments are to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength" and to "Love your neighbor as yourself." And in this novel, Harper Lee puts these beautiful words into action through her characters. Take, for example, these quotes:

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself:

I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks. ~Scout

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. ~Atticus

Don't matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house, they are company and don't let me catch you remarking on their ways like you were so high and mighty. ~ Calpurnia

Folks don’t like to have somebody around knowing more than they do. It aggravates them. You’re not going to change any of them by talking right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language. ~Calpurnia

On Religion vs. Following Christ
We're so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we've got men like Atticus to go for us. ~Miss Maudie.

If spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that's something I'll gladly take. ~Atticus

Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts our for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. ~Miss Maudie

Footwashers believe anything that's pleasure is a sin. Did you know some of 'em came out of the woods one Saturday and passed by this place and told me me and my flowers were going to hell? … They thought I spent too much time in God's outdoors and not enough time inside the house reading the Bible. ~Miss Maudie

Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of--oh, your father. ... If Atticus Finch drank until he was drunk he wouldn't be as hard as some men are at their best. there are just some kind of men who--wh're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results. ~Miss Maudie

On Equality and Justice:
The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash. ~Atticus

If there's just one kind of folks, why can't they get along with each other? If they're all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? ~Jem

How can you ate Hitler so bad an' then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home? ~Scout

On Courage:
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. ~Atticus

It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived. ~Scout

It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. ~Atticus

On Integrity:
They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. ~Atticus

Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.~ Miss Maudie

On Growing Up:
The sixth grade seemed to please him from the beginning: he went through a brief Egyptian Period that baffled me - he tried to walk flat a great deal, sticking one arm in front of him and one in back of him, putting one foot behind the other. He declared Egyptians walked that way; I said if they did I didn't see how they got anything done, but Jem said they accomplished more than the Americans ever did, they invented toilet paper and perpetual embalming, and asked where would we be today if they hadn't? Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts. ~Scout

There was no doubt about it, I must soon enter this world, where on its surface fragrant ladies rocked slowly, fanned gently, and drank cool water. ~Scout

Atticus said that Jem was trying hard to forget something, but what he was really doing was storing it away for a while until enough time passed. Then he would be able to think about it and sort things out. When he was able to think about it, Jem would be himself again. ~Scout

On Parenting:
When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em. ~Atticus

Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they're not attracting attention with it. ~Atticus

Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I've tried to live so I can look squarely back at him. ~ Atticus

There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible. ~Atticus

On Education:
Miss Caroline caught me writing and told me to tell my father to stop teaching me. "Besides," she said, "we don't write in the first grade, we print. You won't learn to write until you're in the third grade." ~Scout

The remainder of my school days were no more auspicious than the first. Indeed, they were an endless Project that slowly evolved into a Unit, in which miles of construction paper and wax crayon were expended by the State of Alabama in its well-meaning but fruitless efforts to teach me Group Dynamics. What Jem called the Dewey Decimal System was school-wide by the end of my first year, so I had no chance to compare it with other teaching techniques. I could only look around me: Atticus and my uncle, who went to school at home, knew everything-at least, what one didn't know the other did. Furthermore, I couldn't help noticing that my father had served for years in the state legislature, elected each time without opposition, innocent of the adjustments my teachers thought essential to the development of Good Citizenship. Jem, educated on a half-Decimal half - Duncecap basis, seemed to function effectively alone or in a group, but Jem was a poor example: no tutorial system devised by man could have stopped him from getting at books. As for me, I knew nothing except what I gathered from Time magazine and reading everything I could lay hands on at home, but as I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. Out of what I knew not, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what the state had in mind for me. ~ Scout

The second grade was grim, but Jem assured me that the older I got the better school would be, that he started off the same way, and it was not until one reached sixth grade that one learned anything of value. ~Scout

I could go on and on. If you haven't read the book, please read it, and then read it again. I get more out of it upon every reading. I can understand why Harper Lee never wrote another novel. Some say she must have a world of writing stored inside of her, but it seems to me just pretty much covered everything already.

Post A Comment!.....


Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Barbara H. (

Somehow I have never yet read this, but it is on my list to this spring. I enjoyed your review.

Barbara H. @ Stray Thoughts

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Saturday, April 19, 2008 - To Kill a Mockingbird

Posted by Lori (

I have never read this novel, but have always wanted to... Now I have plans to get it this weekend.:-) Thanks for sharing! Lori

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Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (

Also my all-time favorite book. It's been several years since I've read it; I should pull it out this summer.

GREAT way to do a review on it!

I'm stunned people HAVEN'T read it! Hopefully any of your readers will now, after your review!

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Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (

Thank you for a beautiful post. I also love this book - its 'truths' are those we should all listen to.

Wendy (

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Saturday, April 19, 2008 - wonderful review

Posted by Jennifer in OR (

I loved how you reviewed this amazing book. Nicely done - the words speak for themselves. I agree with your assessment - why would Harper Lee have need to write anything else?

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Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Margaret (

Beautiful. Guess I need to read it again too.... I think it is just about the best book. Thanks for the quotes to make me think of things a new way!

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Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Natasha @ Maw Books (

I haven't read this one since high school. I imagine it would be even better reading it as an adult since I never appreciated the assigned reading. Loved the quotes.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (

I read this novel a few weeks ago - and was please to say that I could see straight away what all the fuss was about! It is such a great novel - on face value for its story - and at a deeper level for all of the reasons you so succinctly point out in your review.

And I think this sums things up perfectly "I can understand why Harper Lee never wrote another novel. Some say she must have a world of writing stored inside of her, but it seems to me just pretty much covered everything already."

Mrs S

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Monday, June 9, 2008 - I finally read it...

Posted by Anonymous (

I, too, was taken aback by how great this book is. My review is here:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Can Someone Please Tell Me...?

April 18, 2008

How do we get from this....

and this...

to this...

and this...

in just 12 short years?

Those first two photos were taken when Jesse was 3 and a half. We were in Hawaii at Randy's uncle's wedding, and I am quite sure that is the last time Jesse wore a suit.

Until tonight. Our homeschooling group is having its Spring Formal for high schoolers this evening, and so we finally had to buy a suit for Jesse. It was lovely to take him there and see all the beautiful girls and handsome young men. The cool thing about our group's formal is that parents are encouraged to go, as well. I was feeling very sad that Dr. H. has meetings out-of-state this weekend, 'cause I sure would like a pretty dress and an up-do.

Hawaii seems like a lifetime ago, really. One of the joys of homeschooling is that, although the passage of time does seem painfully apparent at moments like this, the reality is that our years together have been just that--years together. I haven't just watched our son grow from a distance; I've had the privilege of being there with him 95% of the time. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

And the Converse with the suit. That boy does his father and me proud.

Post A Comment!.....


Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by (

oh that's scary. you're making me want to sloooow things down!

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Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by brumbemom (

I totally know where you are coming from. My daughter will be going to the homeschool prom next Friday. Isn't this early for my baby to be getting all dressed up and going out to a prom? No, wait, she is 17! It is so hard when we realize that our "babies" are growing up.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008 - be still my heart

Posted by Jennifer in OR (

Oh how fast the time goes! Makes my heart race with a bit of anxiety to just think about my babies being all grown up.

What a fabulous shot here!

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Heart of the Matter Meme: What I've Learned from the Kids

April 18, 2008

Today's Heart of the Matter meme asks for The Things Your Child Taught You During Homeschool. Here are just a few:

• My children reflect my moods. (Yes, I said reflect, not affect.) If I am distracted, grumpy, and/or irritable, they will be, too. I should be nice all the time.

• My children are, indeed, wonderfully and fearfully made with his/her own unique personalities and needs, which will determine how they learn best. And I have to be constantly aware that what works for one child will not necessarily work for another.

• My children love me to just be in the room with them. They are thrilled with the simplest of things, like me watching a movie with them or playing a game of kickball.

• Book-learning is a lifelong process. I learn something new every single day, especially in history and geography.

• It’s much more important to show love to my child than to finish the math book.

• If I am nice, my children are nice. Did I say that one already?

• We began homeschooling for two main reasons: to provide our children with a high quality academic education and to enjoy the family flexibility to which we were accustomed (and which the public school discouraged). Nearly nine years later, our list has grown to dozens of reasons. And homeschooling, somewhere in the very early years, became about life. The academic education becomes then, not an entity unto itself, but merely one component of our life—of our constant process of learning together.

• I have forgotten that I ever wondered if I would be making a huge personal sacrifice by homeschooling. I have forgotten that I ever imagined long stretches of days, writing and gardening, while someone else taught my children at school. Why would I have ever wanted to garden without a child next to me, ready to pick a worm out of the dirt or plop a flower into a hole?

What have your children taught you through homeschooling? If you post on your own blog, be sure to leave a link at The Heart of the Matter.

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Friday, April 18, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Momtofivekids (

I enjoyed reading your post. This is the first time I've visited your blog, it looks great!

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Friday, April 18, 2008 - Great post

Posted by cricket (

Thank you for sharing! I love the reminder that our children just like us being there!
Be blessed!

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Friday, April 18, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (

I love what you said about academic education not being an entity unto itself but a part of a lifestyle of lifelong learning!

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Friday, April 18, 2008 - Amen!

Posted by Anonymous (

"If I'm nice, my dc are nice." So true! Great lessons learned!


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Friday, April 18, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by sadie423 (

My boys definately show my moods. If I am stressed they are too....And I agree I should be nice/happy all the time....then they would be too

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Friday, April 18, 2008 - Homeschooling

Posted by Morning Rose (

It's a blessing that our kids want to be around us all the time and enjoy our company. I love that about homeschooling. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Good News Thursday

April 17, 2008

The Cates at Why Homeschool host the weekly Good News Thursday, and I have good news about things people do. So yesterday and today I've been totaling up volunteer hours for some of our American Heritage Girls who would like to receive the Presidential Service Award. Anyone with 50 hours or more of service per year is eligible for this award, so I asked girls who had more than 50 hours to send me their detailed lists. So far eleven girls have sent me their lists, and I've counted up 784 hours among those girls. I know of four more girls who are sending me between 75-150 hours each tomorrow. These girls, mostly ages 12-17, are learning the art of servant-leadership. The mission of AHG is to build women of integrity through service to God, family, community, and country. These girls are taking that mission seriously. And that is good news for all of us.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In-Just Spring Contest Winner!

April 14, 2008

I have finally had a moment to sit down and randomly pick a winner from my In Just-Spring Mudluscious Poetry Contest. I have had a lovely time reading the spring poetry that you all chose for this contest! Some of them were old favorites of mine, and some I'd never read before. Take a look at the fabulous entries posted here.

And congratulations to Jennifer at Diary of 1! While I did pick Jennifer totally randomly, I'm happy that she won because she posted a poem that her mother wrote, called "Morning." Someday I'll have a fall poetry contest and post my father's poem called, "Kicking Leaves in Mr. Gage's Orchard."

Lots of people wrote to me and said, "I can't write poetry, so I can't enter." Well, actually I didn't ask you all to write a poem for the contest, just to submit a spring poem that you like. But here lies a phenomenon that seems epidemic: people are intimidated by poetry. Certainly, poetry can be intimidating. I think most of us were exposed to a similar canon of poetry in high school. I can remember reading sonnets by Donne and Shakespeare and finding them obtuse. I remember being utterly perplexed by iambic pentameter and trochaic octameter.

But somewhere along the line I fell in love with poetry. It was something inside of me that insisted upon expressing myself through poetry. I loved the sound of words, the cadence of language. Poets could evoke such a range of emotions with such a sparseness of words.

If you haven't read poetry since high school, please try again. This is National Poetry Month. Try visiting one of these sites and browsing. You may find something that touches your soul:
Poetry Foundation
American Life in Poetry

Thanks, everyone, for playing, and congratulations, Jennifer in OR! I'll be sending off a box of Spring Things very soon!

Friday, April 11, 2008

At the Carnival

April 11, 2008

So yesterday morning I was frantically trying to get some things in order for our American Heritage Girls meeting, as I normally am on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Most days we start school here around 10 a.m., and about 9:59 I was still making phone calls, printing off paperwork, etc. I realized that for quite some time, no one had come into ask, "Can I have something to eat?" and I'd heard no bickering. Just bustling about, laughter, and "your turn." Eventually my curiosity got the best of me, and when I came out to the living room to investigate, I found that Duncan and Laurel had set up an elaborate Carnival, and were in the midst of a going hog wild at the fair.

There was bobbing for apples...

and, for two tickets, a game of miniature golf...

The always popular "where's the coin" game...

A little bowling....

And, of course, the refreshment cart.

I love stuff like this. I love to find my kids making puppets, games, dollhouses, pet stores, etc. That, my friends, is the real Carnival of Homeschooling.

And now, would someone please tell me: why do we keep buying toys?

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Saturday, April 12, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by StillHisGirl (

Oh, how I love those kinds of days! I came downstairs this morning at 8am and Jenna was fully dressed, including shoes. I asked her why she was dressed and she said she'd been walking her pet rock. She'd painted a rock, tied some yarn to it, and was walking around the house.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by bluerosemama (

That is amazing! What a cool set of kiddos you have. :)



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Sunday, April 13, 2008 - Adorable!

Posted by Anonymous (

I have fond memories of playing games like this with my sister when we were in elementary school.

BTW, I am most often interrupted by requests for food. How is it possible they are hungry all the time?!


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Sunday, April 13, 2008 - Yes, why??

Posted by Jennifer in OR (

Awesome!! Isn't it amazing what we find when we just give them some raw materials, a little time, and let them have at it?

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - Fun!

Posted by Fatcat (

I love when my kids do stuff like that. Right now there's a grocery store set up in my kitchen, but sometimes its a restaurant. They've never done a carnival. I might have to suggest that.