Category Archives: Buddy

Chores for Pay

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I’ll be honest. Between homeschooling and working at HEDUA, plus my myriad of other responsibilities, housework sometimes gets put on the back burner. However, I have also discovered that both my husband’s and my attitudes are much better when our house is neat. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. While my kids have always had some chores, they sometimes cause more work for me than they are worth. We started a new chore plan that seems to be helping. So far, it has developed independence in my children while also creating, dare I say it, enthusiasm for doing chores.

How to Set up a Paid Chores System

It all started with my son, who complained that there are no jobs available for eleven-year-old boys. While his fourteen-year-old sister can babysit for extra cash, he has yet to find a money-making venture that has panned out-though he has tried. So he had a proposal for me. Would I pay him to do some special chores around the house so he could have some money to buy a gift for a friend? After thinking it through, I agreed-with the following stipulations:

  1. All of his regular personal chores and schoolwork needed to be done before he did the chores for pay.
  2. I had a budget of a certain amount per month I was willing to spend. Once the paid chores were done for the month, that was it.
  3. Part of the deal was that he needed to have a good attitude with his sister. Just like in real life, certain infractions could result in a “fine”.
  4. He needed to pay a tithe on the money he earned.

Here are a few of the chores that I have paid him to do:

  • >Vacuum and scrub the entry floor
  • Wash the entry and hallway woodwork
  • Clean the kitchen junk drawer
  • Wash the kitchen chairs
  • Wipe the kitchen and bathroom baseboards
  • Wash the trash can basket and wipe down the outside of the trashcan
  • Straighten the bathroom drawers and cupboards
  • Clean the garage fridge and wipe it out

My system isn’t perfect. I do have to take time to make an inspection of the chore that has been done. And the paid chores are a whole lot more interesting than school or personal chores. But so far it seems to be a good balance between the requirement of doing chores just because you live in our home, and doing something for pay.

Originally posted at hedua.com.

First Day of School Photos

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We started school back in August, but with a high schooler and a middle schooler, this year just started off extremely busy, and I didn’t get our photos posted. So, here they are: First day of school 2015. Boo is a sophomore and Buddy is in the sixth grade. Time is flying by. I am so thankful to have the extra time with them that I get by having them home with me!

Buddy is a little taller than his sister now, which he is very excited about. But in this photo he  is taking full advantage of a hill and his tiptoes!

 

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History Museum Field Trip

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We love field trips! The other day our co-op went to a history museum about two hours away. We had a blast! The history museum puts on classes for schools, but they had never worked with homeschoolers before. It made for a learning experience for all, I think. Rather than a group of same-age kids, they were creating classes that would work for a multi-aged group with lots of parents, many of whom had toddlers and babies along. The museum did a fabulous job, and we had a great time.

We divided into two groups, one for little that couldn’t walk as far and another for about eight and up. We had a short class discussing the Oregon trail and then went out to experience some of what it would be like.

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Learning about the trail.

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Pumping water and loading the wagons.

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Stopping at an out-post store.

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Pulling the carts.

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Cooking over a campfire.

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Tug o’ War on the prairie.

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Visiting Railroad Town.

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Newspaper office and old-fashioned baseball at the general store.

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STILTS!

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Schoolhouse and a sad boy in a pioneer jailhouse.

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2014-2015 in Review

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Whew! It is hard to believe how fast this school year has flown! We are almost to the end of our year, and I am deep into planning our next school year. I would have to say that this was one of our best years yet. We got a lot accomplished! And it turned out that high school isn’t so bad after all. Smile

Here are some thoughts and comments on the past year and the curricula that we used:

I have worked hard this year at simplifying and organizing. I have a lot I want to do this summer, but I do have to say that it has made our year easier. I have declutter a lot of extra items and gotten much more organized with regular cleaning chores. My Well Planned Day planner bears testament to the fact that I am using it regularly as well.

Curriculum

We used some favorites this past year and then added some new ones into the mix. As my kids get older, I am learning more and more what works for them. That means that I hit the mark with the curriculum choices more often!

Bible:

Boo had lessons with my mom, read her Bible, listened to teachings, and went to Bible study each week. We are working her into a more adult-style way of using her faith.

Buddy read from his Bible and worked on AWANA memory verses.

Language:

Boo used Applications of Grammar this year. I love this curriculum for her because it is thorough, but easy for me to use. She is my traditional-style schooler, so workbooks are a good fit for her. I put together a literature curriculum for her, and she made it through all of the books. She doesn’t love reading, so that was quite a feat for us! I did allow her to listen to a couple of the books on mp3 from Librivox just to shake things up a bit and make it easier. And she also looked up and defined a number of vocabulary words.

Buddy used All About Reading and All About Spelling again this year. I can’t say enough about this series. His reading has improved dramatically since we started using them. It fits right in with his right-brained, artistic mindset. He also did choice independent reading, and I read aloud several books to him.

Math:

Boo used Math-U-See and finished up Pre-Algebra and is working her way quickly through Algebra 1. We took some extra time last year to make sure she had a solid foundation before we got into higher-level math, and that time has shown this year.

Buddy is still doing some Math-U-See as well, but we have moved onto Life of Fred for most of his Math work. The quirky stories fit his learning style very well. I am very happy with this choice and ordered the next few books for next year.

Science:

Boo completed Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Biology from Dr. Jay Wile. With the exception of microorganisms, which is necessary but not really our interest, we loved this book. I worked with her on this one most days, and we both learned so much. We had a lot of fun with the experiments, as well.

Buddy worked through two of Apologia’s Zoology books. He will finish the third one next year. He preferred the land animals one, but had fun with them both. His favorite activity was the candy activity that showed how camouflage works!

Social Studies:

Boo studied World Geography using lessons I created using several books. The base for the study was DK’s Geography of the World book. With tons of full-color photos and information, I felt like she got a really good overview of the world. She also completed maps and did some reading from Operation World. I intended for her to do more hands-on activities, such as cooking and art, but we just ran out of time. I do think those activities would have been helpful in learning about the cultures, though.

Buddy also studied geography, with a brief look at each continent, some map activities, and study in geographical terms. I used books from the library, and the online games Stack the States and Stack the Countries to work with him, too.

Arts:

Boo worked hard for her music performance credit this year. She had a solo in our church program and sang solos and duets for other events. She has had several years of piano lessons. This year she has begun working on accompanying someone singing for praise and worship.

Buddy had piano lessons and a speaking role in our church program. He also had an art lesson each week and is learning to draw.

P.E.:

Both of my kids spend many hours practicing for ball and playing games. Boo spend some time at the YMCA working out, and both kids do Wii Fit. I am hoping to improve on P.E. next year, because Buddy will be old enough to go upstairs at the Y and  use the treadmills and other machines.

Other:

Boo used online programs to learn some Spanish and for Keyboarding. I liked the Keyboarding program, but will add some bookwork in for Spanish 2.

Co-op:

We had a great year at co-op. Both of the kids were in a wonderful poetry class and completed books of their own poems. They also had a creative writing class and wrote short stories. It stretched them both and was fun as well. They also learned some Spanish from the Spanish pastor at the church that hosts co-op. Buddy enjoyed a study on pioneer days. Both kids had choir.

All-in-all, this was a good school year. I am happy with what we accomplished, but I have some goals for next year. I am hoping to have both kids work a little more independently so that working with them one at a time will be easier. And I am hoping to have some more hands-on activities for our studies in World History (Boo) and Ancient History (Buddy). For now, though, we are going to enjoy a summer break and some ball games!

Hands-On Learning with Field Trips

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Homeschooling allows us to provide our children with a unique, tailor-made education. And what better way to provide this than to give our children real-life opportunities to learn? Real-life learning can take many forms, including chores and life skill lessons, jobs, ministry, and apprenticeships. Arguably one of the best methods of real-life learning is taking a field trip. It certainly is one of the most fun!

You can use field trips to add to your curriculum in a number of ways. For example, our family will be taking a road trip this summer from here in the Midwest to sunny California. We decided to take a side trip and visit Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon on the way. Not only will this allow me to check a couple of things off my bucket list, but it will be a great jumpstart to our studies next year. Boo will be studying world history using Exploring World History from Notgrass, and Buddy will be spending the year in ancient history with Ancient Civilizations and the Bible from Diana Waring.

There are many reasons field trips make education more memorable. Field trips:

  1. Can show students a variety of occupations they may be interested in pursuing. Consider a trip to a newspaper office, bank, sports arena, hospital, farm, veterinarian’s office, dentist, or factory, among others.
  2. Allow opportunities for hands-on, interactive learning. Many historical sites have learning experiences, and some have lessons and programs that you can attend. Try historical locations, science museums, and children’s museums.
  3. Give students the ability to see artwork, fossils, and artifacts close up. Even small towns often have local museums, and larger ones will likely have a natural history or art museum.
  4. Show children how and where the government works. Locally, try your police department or city government offices. Consider visiting your country seat or the state capital as well. Many states also have tours of their governor’s mansions. And, if possible, a trip to Washington, D.C. can be a fantastic adventure.
  5. Get you out of a rut. Sometimes we can get bored with just the same old, same old every day. Taking a field trip can breathe life into your school year.
  6. Make a great wrap-up activity. After you have spent some time reading about and studying a topic, taking a field trip can bring the topic to life.

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Considering the fact that there are so many fantastic reasons to take a field trip, why don’t you start planning one today?

Tips for Playing Club Ball on a Budget

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Crestview Heights Academy Saving money during ball season.

Buddy playing baseball.

Crestview Heights Academy Ball Season Saving Money

Boo playing softball.

It’s that time of year again for us. The beginning of club ball season. Our daughter plays girls’ fast pitch softball and our son is a baseball player. Between the two of them, we spend a LOT of time away from home from the middle of April through the beginning of July. As a means to participate in team sports while homeschooling, we make club ball a priority during these months, but with only one full time income in our household, sometimes I need to get creative to save money. Here are some of my tips for saving money while traveling for club ball:

Meals at Home

With busy tournament weekends, games during the week, and practices in between, weekday meals can be just as much a problem as the weekends. I combat this with some preparation before ball season starts. I plan some meals for the freezer, either by cooking extra meals of by making double of some recipes and freezing half.

For those nights when we just can’t do anything but grab fast food, I keep an envelop with restaurant coupons handy. We also take advantage of offers such as the one we had for Burger King last year, where we were able to purchase vouchers at a reduced price and use them during ball season.

Food at the Field

Keeping everyone fed while on the road is a huge task. Eating fast food and out of the concession stand can get expensive quickly, so I try to find ways to keep it to a minimum. Instead, we purchased a cooler on wheels (a life saver for those long hikes from the parking lot to the field!) and fill it with water, Gatorade, soda, and juice that I purchase at the grocery store and bring from home. With beverages costing less than fifty cents this way, we save an average of $1 per drink off the concession stand price.

We also stock up on meats, cheeses, and small bags of chips for easy lunches. Rather than bread, I pack tortillas to make wraps. Tortillas tend to store better without getting soggy like bread does. We also have a portable grill that we sometimes take along for tournament days. Grilling hot dogs or hamburgers makes for a quick lunch or supper, and we save a ton of money by not eating out.

Another easy way to provide meals is to work together with the rest of the families on the team. Everyone provides part of the meal, so that no one has to bring everything for their family. Not only is this fun, but it is much easier, too. It helps if one person is in charge and everyone signs up, so that you have a variety of foods rather than just dessert.

At the beginning of the year I set aside money for one big shopping trip, either to our grocery store or to a warehouse. I purchase bulk snacks to repackage and pack in my snack bag. I also purchase the ingredients for a variety of cookies. Before ball season starts, I spend a day or two mixing up cookie dough, forming it into small balls, and freezing them. I put them into baggies labeled with the type of cookie and the baking instructions. This makes it easy to bake a couple of dozen cookies at a time without all of the mess of mixing the dough. Depending on your oven, it may take a few minutes longer when the dough is completely frozen.

Travel and Hotel

Part of playing on a traveling team is the actual traveling, which is the most costly part of ball for us. While we go into each year knowing that this will be our largest expense, we also do what we can to keep it down. Some ideas we have used include using the Internet to find the best hotel prices, camping instead of staying in a hotel, and driving back and forth each day rather than staying in a hotel when the location and schedule works. We have also used rebate cards or loyalty cards to save money on gasoline, and occasionally we carpool, especially when our kids are going two different directions.

Clothing

I purchase as much of as possible of my children’s sports clothing at the end of the season when it is on clearance. I also watch for coupons and specials from the sports stores, and purchase from discount sports stores online. I use ebates whenever I purchase online. Simply by clicking on the store link through ebates, I can get a rebate of as much as 10% on my purchases.

As my kids have gotten older, their sports equipment has become more specialized. For my younger kids, though, I sometimes thought outside the box. For example, one year we purchased soccer cleats instead of baseball cleats, since soccer cleats were cheaper and on clearance.

What are some of the ways that you save money traveling for club ball? Let me know in the comments.

Biology Lab

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We have been using Exploring Creation with Biology this year. We do the lessons alone, but co-op the labs with another family. I think the kids are enjoying it…mostly. Smile  We decided to take advantage of the nice weather and do the dissection labs OUTSIDE. Buddy thought he wanted his own specimens, but when it came right down to it, he wasn’t so sure after all. He did do a lot of his own cutting. Boo was not a fan, especially when the “worm juice” blew back on her. But she did  buck up and handle the frog pretty well.

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The worm and the crayfish were our first two dissections.

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This lab used red cabbage, ammonia, and vinegar. The kids really enjoyed this one, and we were all impressed by the change in colors…

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Goofy Kids

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And finally the perch and the frog. Boo and her friend used a double-injected, larger frog. Buddy’s was just a plain old frog, but we could still see most of the important things. The frog was by far the most interesting, with all of the different organs that they could see. But they weren’t too sad to put him out with the trash, either. Smile