Wednesday, January 31, 2018

When I Write About Homeschooling...

Our family belongs to the Indiana Association and Home Educators and thanks to homeschool friends across the state, and this little blog, I am often asked about homeschooling.

I always hesitate.

When I write about homeschooling, like this post from last week, friends who homeschool always seem to click "like" or comment or send messages or all of those things. But other parents who don't, some of whom I would consider close friends, like to push back.

When I write about homeschool I am NOT...
- saying that it's the only way to effectively school children or to raise children
- saying that it's right and everything else is wrong
- judging how any other family is raising their children
- trying to boast or brag about our family's decisions

When I write about homeschool I AM...
- trying to share snippets about how we school and raise our children
- saying that it's right for us, right now
- hoping to encourage others who are currently, or who want to, homeschool
- sharing my family's decisions

We, like all parents, don't fit into any one category.
- I get made fun of often amongst homeschool friends because we have a dedicated school room, Annabeth works at a chair and table, we have set school hours, and we buy cirriculum.
- Annabeth still attends special events at our local public school and has specifically enjoyed the cheer camps at our local high school. Our whole family loves going to the games.
- Nearly all of our out-of-the-house activities have nothing to do with homeschool or homeschool families - dance, 4h, church, etc. Very few of Annabeth's friends, and thus very few of our adult friends, belong to homeschool families.

Life at Riley Family School is our current season of life. We are loving this season and I never stop being thankful that we have found a way to live that works for us. I firmly believe that any family with a desire to homeschool could accomplish that goal but also know that it is not the desire of everyone. I love hearing about what my friend's kids are doing and learning at school - whether that be at home, church school, public school, Montessori school, etc. I love learning and am not afraid to have encouragement or ideas come from anywhere! I do not think that I am a better parent or more involved parent or more dedicated parent than any other. This is the life I have chosen to live because it works for Annabeth and Owen not because it's easy or perfect or for everyone else - it's for us.

That's why I write about homeschooling - because I write about us.

I love spending all day with this goofy guy and his big sister. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Frugal Friday 229

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Last week, Annabeth attended a two evening cheer camp at our local high school. For $30 she had four hours of instruction, received a bow and camp t-shirt, and free admission to the high school basketball game. She loved cheering at her first basketball game and the girls did a great time dancing during the half-time show.

- Saturday I hosted our annual Junk Exchange. I have been cleaning out for months and we parted with two huge totes of items from our home! I found a brand new rug for our kitchen floor, Mark took a shoe rack for our hallway in from the garage, we found clothes for both kids, and some books and movies at the exchange. We took a whole truck full of items for donation at the Lord's Cupboard after lunch. We also were able to fill the donation box at the Church of Christ with food items for the Weekend Meal Bags. We were so happy to have a fun time with our family and friends but to also be able to bless so many others!

- Sunday afternoon, we went with my parents and sister to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. As I mentioned last week, our pass is about to expire so we wanted to get another trip in with everyone. We loved seeing the spaceship, science area, and riding the carosel.

A HUGE Thank You to my parents for our museum pass
from Christmas 2016. We had SO much fun going to CMOI as many times
as we wanted last year!

- Wendesday icey roads canceled our trip to Columbus to visit friends so we ended up doing Annabeth's BIG closet clean-out. We pulled over 40 items. Many were hand-me-downs that we had gotten and I just washed/stored but she is old enough to say "yes" or "no." About half of them were her items from last summer that are now too small. We will tag and sell them at the Spring Consignment Sale in April.

- We did our weekly grocery trip and even with paper goods, we spent just $60 for the week. I have started meal planning both lunches and dinner and have found us saving even more money that way! I also had about $10 in coupons which always makes me happy!

- I swung by Starbucks on the way to dance Wednesday night. I used a gift-card from Christmas and my order was messed up so I ended up with one item free! Saved: $2.75

- We are gearing up for dance season, this year Annabeth will be compeiting three dances and at six competitions. She is excited and "ready, mom!" Last year, I made a cute little tag for her bag with a Minnie Mouse decoration since her dance had a Minnie themed dress. This year I took a little extra time and made these fun tags:

 I bought this adorable Little Red Riding Hood paper years ago.
Most of it was used to decorate our school room for pre-school one year
but I had enough to make this cute little tag.
I have had that giant boat sticker for a decade with nothing to put
it on. Now I know why I needed to save it!
I put each dance's dress-code on the back of the name tag 
(her dress bags are clear so I can see them straight through)
It helps her get ready and helps me make sure we have everything
back in the bag before we leave a dressing room.

I hope everyone had a good week. We wrapped up our week yesterday with another trip to the Children's Museum. Happy Weekend Frugal Friends!

Happy Savings to All! 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Then We'd Miss It All.

This conversation happened today:

Annabeth: "When I grow up I want to be a teacher at a big, public school so I can have my kids and lots of other kids in my class."

Me: "That is a great idea! But you would only have your kids for the grade you would teach. The next year, they would move up."


Annabeth: "Does that mean I would only see my kids at dinner?"

Me: "Well, yes. During the school year, on school days."

Annabeth: "Oh, nevermind. I will homeschool. I don't want to just see them at dinner. I would never want to just see you at dinner. Then we'd miss it all."

Then. We'd. Miss. It. All.

My Mama often says: "The days are long but the years are short"
I have found that to be so incredibly true. Some days as a stay-at-home-mama feel like ten days all rolled into one. But I love our days. I am so thankful to live a cozy, quiet life filled with plenty of time to read and create and dream alongside my family. I am so thankful to not miss anything.

The kids and I gathering our "train tickets" at the
Children's Museum of Indianapolis.
Owen loves to watch the trains and Annabeth loves to play 
Ticket Master. A win-win! 
I am thankful to have been able to go with them twice in just the last week. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Frugal Friday 228

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Mark worked one night at his part-time job and I had one Usborne party.

- We had lots of snow and the kids enjoyed getting out in it as much as possible. It's been a couple of winters since we've had this much real snow and both of the kids just love it!

- Mark shoveled our elderly neighbors driveway. She was so sweet and came out to visit while he worked. She even let Owen "throw snowballs" at her. She paid Mark, which was totally unnecessary, in cookie dough and he and I enjoyed movies and cookies on Saturday night.

- Sunday evening we had dinner at Mark's parents' house. His mom generously supplied everything for dinner and we had a great nacho dinner night.

- Monday we had planned to visit a friend out of town but she is nearing the end of her pregnancy and wasn't feeling up to company. We spent two hours cleaning out and organizing our school room that morning instead. We were able to get a lot done and sent many items to the sale tote and even more to recycling.

- We also cleaned out our coat closet and our game cabinet on Monday morning. Many items from there also went to the sale tote.

- We noticed about a week ago that our water heater wasn't heating properly. We had small amounts of warm-ish water at a time. Mark ordered parts and spent his day off fixing it. He was able to repair it for $27 in parts and some tools. This is a HUGE savings as a nice, new water heater would have easily been $700+
**Side Note: I am SO thankful to have married a man with so many skills! Last year, Mark was able to fix our disposal, replace and install outlets when needed around the house and garage, and fix the clothes dryer - all for around $200 for all of the projects. It would have been over $1200 to buy new and have outside workers install or repair**

- We did a quick cleanout of our toy cube and Owen's room on Wednesday morning. We sent about 10 more items to the sale tote.

- Wednesday morning we went to our once-a-month storytime at a friend's church. I love this little group and the kids really enjoy it as well! Owen does much better in this storytime since there is lots of movement and play vs. some of the storytimes at our library.

- Yesterday morning we met friends at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. We have had a pass for the past year but it expires on the 31st so I am trying to get a few more trips in. I love that they always have free parking and let us bring in our own food so it's really a free (minus a bit of gas) fun day out!

The circus exhibit has been a huge hit every time we have gone.
The kids had fun pretending to be elephants on these big circus stands.  

We got to China just in time to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Some loved seeing the dragon and Owen was afraid. 

We have a had a good week here and are thankful to all be healthy again!
We are looking forward to company this weekend and our Annual Junk Exchange!

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Frugal Friday 227

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- I got out of the house one evening and hit the Christmas clearance at Meijer. I was able to score some fun winter crafts, gift sets, and outfits all at least 70% off. I also used a $6 off my order coupon. I swung by Starbucks on the way home and used a Christmas giftcard for some hot chocolate.

- Annabeth lost her first tooth! The Tooth Fairy brought her a quarter. She had been expecting a dime like in the Bernstein Bears books so she was quite happy!

- Mark worked a couple of shifts at his part time job as well as some middle of the night call-outs.

- We had the stomach flu from the 1st through the 7th. As a result, we saved money by not going anywhere to spend money on activities or gas to get there. We also ended up with four extra meals from last week's meal plan as we lived on toast and ice chips for about four days. At least Owen and I tend to get this every Christmas or New Year's. It's become our, unfortunate, little tradition.

Despite asking them not to cuddle, to keep from spreading germs, 
they just couldn't help it! They love each other so much.

- We paid Owen's spring gymnastics fees in full for the semester and saved 5%.

- Annabeth was sick again early in the week so we missed her private dance lesson. Saved: $10

- I sold a book from my personal Usborne book stash. Since I own these books outright, I always love to sell them! Made: $18

- On our weekly grocery trip, I scored two boxes of organic, probiotic gummies for $1/each and huge family sized cereal boxes for $1.51 each! I saved nearly $20 just on those four items! We also found some fun craft projects for under $.40 each for the long snowy days we were home.

- Yesterday it was warm and everyone finally felt better! The kids spent most of the day playing outside and were happy for it! I was glad to get all of the windows open for a long period of time and to air the house out. We had done it some earlier in the week but it was just too cold to do for any length of time before yesterday.

I hope all of you are well and are safe in this weekend's ice and snow storm.
Happy Savings to All!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Frugal Friday 226

Happy First Frugal Friday of 2018!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- We had our first real SNOW of the year! The kids went out and played in it every day. Saturday morning we had hot chocolate and homemade brownies after playing out in the snow.

Friday night we went out after dinner for a while.
Owen didn't remember snow and LOVES it this year!
There was a firetruck down the street which, of course,
was very thrilling for Owen. Mark took the kids closer to see it.
They loved that the driver honked at them as he drove past. 

- Mark spent hours on both Saturday and Sunday shoveling not only our driveway and sidewalk but also our elderly neighbors. On of our sweet neighbors, sent her children over with some homemade chocolate chip cookies as a thank you. They were delicious!

- My nieces Kati and Elli brought Annabeth two huge totes of hand-me-downs. We returned one box of clothes to my SIL for her to sell. I am so thankful that we staggered our children well and that they have always been kind enough to share clothes with us!

- My SIL Cassidy is an AWESOME couponer and made each household in our family totes of hygeine items from her stash! I was so excited! I am slowly learning her amazing coupon skills.

- I took Cass my unused coupons from this weeks paper as well as some gift bags that she requested. I took Jenn a bottle of hand sanitizer.

- We went to Christmas (on the 30th) at Mark's parents and then NYE at his brothers. I made simple, yummy brownies for each event.

- Mark worked NYE/NYD at his part time job. He was happy to pick up this shift as holiday, weekend pay is quite nice.

- Mark and I are both big coffee drinkers. Our parents all gave us coffee to make at home and Starbucks giftcards! Thank you all for saving us on our coffee budget for the next few months!

And now we are sick...Owen had the stomach flu New Year's Day into the 2nd. We thought we had avoided the rest of us but late on the 3rd into the 4th Annabeth and I got it. Prayers for healing would be much appreciated.

Happy Savings to All!