Monday, November 24, 2014

Intentional Christmas | Preparing Your Heart and Home for an Intentional Chirstmas

Brian and I have spent considerable time talking through what we really want for our children.

We want them to:
  • value their relationship with the Lord
  • value their relationships with us and each other
  • find their worth in Christ, not in their stuff
  • develop an attitude of gratitude, not an attitude of entitlement
  • see that stuff does not matter, people do
  • learn that the money God gives us has to be spent wisely
  • choose experiences over things
With those goals in mind, we have altered what Christmas will look like for us this year and every year after.

We are choosing to scale back, not just on gifts, but activities.

For the last few years, I have wrapped 24 books and had my children open one every day until Christmas. This year, we are taking a break from the daily book. Instead, we will be learning about the character of God with Melk the Christmas Monkey. We want to redirect our children's focus back to the Lord and off of the commercialism of the season.

We are involved in many church related activities, but we are making sure that we do not overwhelm our calendars. We want to sit back after Christmas is over and reminisce, not crash.


Christmas will be practical, but it will still have the element of Christmas wonder that children look forward to. 

Our home is a decent size, yet space is still at a premium. Once the wrapping paper has settled and the toys have been played out for the day, the issue of finding a place for all of these things comes up. For us, practically speaking, the items we purchase for our children are already having "places" prepared for them. Bookshelves are being purged of "froo-froo" books to make room for books that will last for years to come. Toy boxes are being purged to make room for gifts that family may be giving.

It will have purpose, but it will still be fun. 

My children are involved in a co-op and we also take field trips and visit family frequently. One of the things I know they could benefit from is a backpack. Brian and I have chosen to use a back pack as their "stocking" and some of their smaller gifts (under pants and socks) will be put inside of it.

Addie is now old enough to have a "real" Bible. Because we also want Ian to have a Bible of his own, we have gotten both of them age/reading level appropriate Bibles.

We live in Florida. In the summertime, pools, beaches, and backyard water fun are a part of our daily existence. We decided to gift each child a beach towel featuring a character they prefer. 


The gifts that we are giving our children have been intentionally chosen, based on shown interests and needs that they have.

Addie is completely immersed in the Rainbow Loom phase despite the fact that she does not have an actual Rainbow Loom (hers is like a super simple version of the real thing and is not capable of making anything more than a simple bracelet). We have watched how she learns what she can from cousins and friends and has even learned to use her fingers to make some rings. We decided that she has shown us that she is ready for the real Rainbow Loom as well as a book to help her make some fun accessories.

Ian on the other hand needs a bicycle. Our road was recently paved, so we now have a great place to ride bikes (our road dead ends and we have no traffic). Addie has gotten to ride her bicycle while Ian chases her with the best attitude ever. Once Brian heard him say, "My legs are tired. I need a bicycle." No worries, Little Man. We have you covered.

We are staying away from the "toys" this year. In all honesty, they have plenty of toys, and I have found that the fewer toys they have on hand, the more they play with their toys.

I love that I can depend on several family members and friends to gift us things that are practical and are also needs. Several of my aunts are great at getting my children clothes and pajamas. One aunt in particular always purchases great quality shoes for them (a huge blessing to us!). One of my dear friends almost always gifts us pajamas- something I appreciate so much because it is a need but not something I like spending money on. One of their aunts always calls or texts to find out what our kids want or need.  

An intentional Christmas does not mean you have taken the fun out of Christmas. It means that we are making the thrill of Christmas last much longer with gifts that will be used for a long time to come.

Tomorrow I will be sharing a list of the items we have actually purchased for our children as we work towards as intentional Christmas. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Guest Posting | Kids Don't Care About the Packaging


Today, I am posting at Frugal Homeschool Family where I am sharing about a frugal way to give Christmas to our families. Our children don't generally care about the packaging their gifts come in. I will be sharing how we have given a great Christmas to our children by shopping in places other than retail stores.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Remembering Veteran's Day

This post contains affiliate links.

Veteran's day is coming up, and I really think we need to talk.

You see, for the majority of our country, Veteran's Day is viewed as a day off of work and school, a day to get stuff done, and a day to visit one of the many parks open free of charge in celebration of Veteran's Day.

However, Veteran's Day is a day of remembrance.

Of remembering those who have served of nation and us in our military during times of war and times of peace.

Of remembering the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice defending those who could not defend themselves.

Of remembering the families left behind- either by the death of their soldier or because he has been deployed.

And especially remembering our loved ones who have served or are currently serving, and teaching our children to hold them in honor and respect for the choice they have made to serve their country.

How can we prepare our children for Veteran's Day?

Here are a list of books, crafts, and ideas that we can start working on the week before Veteran's Day, so our children can be prepared for what Veteran's Day truly stands for.

Books

I Miss Daddy by Acacia Beumer
Veterans Day (Rookie Read-About Holidays) by Jacqueline S. Cotton
What Is Veterans Day? (I Like Holidays!) by Elaine Landau
The Wall (Reading Rainbow Books) by Eve Bunting
The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Walsh
America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven
Veterans Day for Kids! - The Amazing Story of Veterans Day by Ian D. Fraser
The History of Veterans Day for Kids by Josephine Madden
Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin

Music

Now would be a great time to teach your children the theme song to each of the branches of our military and other patriotic songs.

Military Medley: Army, Navy, Marine, AIrForce Themes Songs
Bugle: First Call (Kentucky Derby)
Star Spangled Banner (The National Anthem)
Battle Hymn Of The Republic / Patriotic Anthem / American Civil War Music
America the Beautiful - Instrumental
The Army Goes Rolling Along (The U.S. Army Song)
Anchors Aweigh (The U.S. Navy Song)
Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (The U.S. Air Force Song)
The Marines' Hymn (The U.S. Marine Song)
Semper Paratus (The U.S. Coast Guard Song)

Crafts

Soldier Craft
Simple American Flag Craft for Kids
Veteran's Day Art and Activities for Kids
Poppies

It is also a great time to print out some patriotic quotes to be displayed. My friend Amy has put together a great round-up of Patriotic Printables.

Let us determine to take the time to teach our children about this very special day.





I am linking up at: Mom's the Word, Mommy Monday Blog Hop, The Life of Faith

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Melk, the Christmas Monkey

(Click on the photo to learn more about Melk)


That's right! There is an adorable little monkey who is creating quite a stir in the Ladouceur residence! He made a quick little appearance in the month of September and then scurried away to hide until late November.

Who is this little Monkey?


Well, his real name is Melchior Noel Yule, but he prefers being called Melk. Melk's mission in life is to tell children all about God and His great love. He would love to visit your family for 30 days to teach your children about the character of God.

Melk came for an early two day visit to our family, where we got to play with, interact with, and learn from him. 


Melk is nocturnal, so he is awake while your children sleep. When they wake up, your little ones will find out what Melk has been up to! He is never mischievous, but he is always involved in some kind of activity that your children can join in when they find him.

One morning, he had been gluing marshmallows to a paper to spell out the word "happy." He then went on to share (with Mommy as the interpreter) that it made God happy to create the world and each one of us. He shared some Scripture with the kids, and then invited them to help him finish his craft.


Another day, my kids woke up to find Melk reaching his way into a jar that had candy on the bottom. During breakfast he taught us that God's Word is sweet using the Psalms as the base for our lesson and discussion. Of course, being the sweet, kind, generous little monkey that he is, he shared some candy with my children after our lesson (I made the exception to let them eat candy after breakfast, because Melk asked so nicely). 

Melk will come back to visit us at the end of November to help keep our hearts and spirits in line with what the real purpose of Christmas is- the celebration of our Lord Jesus. 

Some reasons I prefer Melk as a daily Christmas visitor

I love Christmas, but sometimes, the act of preparing so many different activities can become overwhelming. Melk is going to be our only daily activity for Christmastime this year. Katie Hornor (the author of Putting on the Spirit devotional) has already done all of the planning. All I have to do is follow her directions. She has given a list of what is needed, links to the downloads of the crafts suggested, and what activity Melk should be working on when the children find him in the morning. 

I appreciate that Melk is never found getting into mischief. He is always doing something sweet, fun, productive, or enjoying Christmas with the innocent wonder of a child (like the morning my children will find him sleeping under the tree).

Rather than being someone who reports back to Santa about how the children are behaving, Melk points children to God and explains Biblical truths in easy to understand ways. 

What do I get when I purchase Melk, the Christmas Monkey e-book?


If you purchase the Melk, the Christmas Monkey e-book between November 1-8, you will also get a pack of free Melk coloring pages.

Melk, the Christmas Monkey: Teaching God's Character through Bible Lessons and Activities the Entire Family Can Enjoy is also available through Amazon as a paper back book or Kindle edition.




Katie is also including a set of journaling pages for your children to document their adventure with Melk. These can be downloaded after your purchase.


Where can I purchase Melk?

Your "Melk" will be a completely separate purchase. Although he is called the Christmas Monkey, you are free to use any stuffed animal you have on hand and change him to "Melk, the Christmas Moose, Giraffe, Puppy, Etc." This is the Melk we chose to go with through Amazon (you do not get to chose which monkey you will be sent, but we were happy with the Melk we received).



Your purchase of Melk the Christmas Monkey e-book will bless others

Katie Hornor is not only a great author, she and her family are missionaries in Mexico. The funds that come in from November 1-8 will go towards the yearly Christmas outreach they do for the children in the area of their church plant. This outreach includes a small, meaningful gift and Gospel tract. 



Would you like to try a Melk lesson before purchasing?

We thought you might! By visiting the Melk website, you can download a free lesson and give it a try with your family.



Melk is sure to become a family tradition

Melk came to visit us in September and my children are already looking forward to his next visit. I know that when he gets put away with our Christmas decor, my kids are going to anxiously await his next visit. This sweet little guy whose sole purpose is to point our children's hearts towards the Lord will always be welcome in our home.





Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Classical Conversations | How Much Does It Cost?

This post contains affiliate links.


When I first heard of Classical Conversations my first question was, "How much will it cost?"

As the couponing, make my dollar stretch, stay ay home mom, it took me a year of praying and a parent practicum to fully understand the value and worth of the education my children would be receiving.

If you have looked into Classical Conversations, you know there is a cost involved. Costs vary from co-op to co-op and family to family, but the fees cover registration and supply fees. Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge each carry a different cost- Foundations being the easier of the three and Challenge requiring a greater level of instruction by the tutors.


 So How Much Does It Cost? 

 

Here it is laid out for you. Tuition for Foundations is $350 per year, registration is $75 for the first child ($50 each additional child), and a $50 supply fee. Depending on where a CC community meets, there may also be a building use fee. For my daughter to be in the Foundations phase of CC this year cost $480. (You can read here why we have chosen Classical Conversations for our children)

Now before you gasp at the sticker shock, consider, we only bring a snack and lunch to co-op. Markers, crayons, pencils, photocopies, paints, art supplies, science project materials, and scissors are all provided for us because of our supply fee (Essentials only has a $20 supply fee because their work does not require the same type of supplies that Foundations does).

As we began to weigh the cost, we thought back to the Christian school I worked at for ten years, which is considered the most reasonably priced private Christian school in our area. Between registration fees, entrance exam fees, book fees, the purchase of school uniforms, back-to-school supplies, weekly pizza day (optional), field trip costs, and the tuition for the full year of attending the academy, we averaged that it would cost about $5,000 per year to attend this particular private, Christian school. In relation to that cost, $480 is quite doable for an education that we believe is exceptional for our children.

What Do You Have To Buy?

 

When it comes to curriculum, one of my favorite aspects of CC is that what I buy for Addie will also be used for Ian when when he starts. So for example this year being our first year, I had to purchase the Foundations: The Weekly Grammar for Classical Communities (Classical Foundations) Guide which contains all of the information needed for Cycles 1-3 ($60) and the tin whistle ($10). I chose to also purchase the Cycle 3 audio CDs ($30- which we listen to while driving in the car and in the house in the morning) and the History Timeline Cards ($88). When Ian joins CC next year, I will only be purchasing one tin whistle so that he can have his own and the set of audio CDs which accompany Cycle 1. The Foundations Guide remains the same yearly, and the Timeline is relearned on a yearly basis. Until both Addie and Ian complete the 6th grade, they will be using these same materials every year.

Once I have all 3 cycles of audio CDs, until Addie enters Essentials, I will not have to make any other purchases.

As we expand on what is being learned in our history and science, I can go to the library to borrow books and use what I already have in our home library. I am opting not purchase any other books for our schooling, because I know that once my children enter Essentials and Challenge, I may need to make some large book purchases. But again, whatever I buy for Addie, Ian will use when he enters that phase.

The cost of a home education is a personal decision that each family has to make. However, if you choose to make the investment into a Classical Conversations education for your children, I believe it will be money well spent.

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