Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Life is Learning...

Grocery shopping with multiple children in tow. That's enough to send shivers up your spine, right?

But, that's exactly what most of us have to do. I, too, am familiar with the stress of trying to get groceries while simultaneously breaking up arguments between siblings every two seconds. Except I've come up with a more creative way to do it that lessens the time it takes to shop, as well as eliminating the bickering between siblings almost entirely!

We are homeschoolers, and while we do use some textbooks in our school lessons with our children, we also firmly believe in teaching them some actual life skills any time the opportunity arises.

One way I have begun teaching these life skills to my older children is by bringing them to the grocery store with me, and then letting THEM do the shopping. By themselves. Yes, you read that right.

(My older kids are ages 8 & 11, although we've been doing this since last year.)

I start off at home by making up my grocery list. The kids help me plan a meal menu for the week, and then they look in the fridge and pantry to see what ingredients we already have, so we will know what items we will need to get at the store. (I oftentimes have to help them out a little by giving them prompts for the things they add to the menu... "What ingredients are needed to make blueberry muffins?" And if they've forgotten an ingredient, I prompt them again, "Do you think blueberry muffins would taste very good without sugar? Maybe we should add that to the list.", etc.)

Once we have all of our meals planned for the week, and listed all of the items that are needed, I get to work dividing up the Master List into shorter, more manageable lists that the kids can do. (I generally give each child a list of items I know they will be able to locate easily in the store, along with a couple of potentially difficult items to give them a bit of a challenge. Keep in mind that you might also need to add a description next to the items on the list to help them locate it more easily.
For example: Cottage Cheese -- (red tub labelled "small curd"), or Orange Juice -- ("Simply Orange" Pulp Free), etc.

Then, we go to the store, I give each of the kids their own shopping cart, and send them to get each of the items on their lists. 
***NOTE***  It would be much easier (and safer) to go to the store earlier in the day, when it is less likely to be crowded.

When looking for all of the items on their lists, there are times when one of the kids will come to me and tell me they can't find something.  As easy as it would be to tell them that they can find it on aisle 3, doing that isn't helping them with their problem solving skills.  So, even though it might require a little extra time and effort, it is much better in the long run for them to be able to figure it out on their own.  So, I prompt them again...  "This is chili powder.  It is used to *spice* up and flavor foods.  Where do you think it might be found, now that we know what it is used for?"  Hopefully, they will tell me that it should be in the spice aisle.  If not, I keep prompting until they answer their own question.

Occasionally, as part of their "challenging" list items, I will ask the children to get produce where they are required to stay within a certain weight limit.  For example:  Apples -- (Gala, no more than 3 lbs).  That way, they learn how to use the scale in the produce section of the store.
***NOTE***  For this type of item, I will have it on my Master List, and show the children how to choose "good" apples and to use the produce scale a few times before adding it to their lists and sending them off to figure it out on their own.

Now, I've told you what I do with my older kids, but what do I do with the littles during all of this?  Well, hopefully, Daddy is home and can keep them.  If not (which is more often the case), we just bring them with us and add them to our lesson.  Most of the time, while the older ones to go off to do their shopping on their own, I keep the littles with me while I get the items on my lists.  I include them, and help them to feel useful by asking them to put certain items into the cart ("I need 4 cans of these kidney beans.  Could you count 4 cans and put them in the cart for me?").  Since the littles love to help and feel "big", this often works out very well for us.  But sometimes, my littlest reeeeeally wants to go with her big sister, so I turn that into a teaching moment, too.

My oldest (R.) is 11, and my littlest (C.) is 2.  They have quite a bond, and C listens to her big sister very well.  Right now, R's "what I want to be when I grow up" choice is to become a wife and mom (makes me proud).  But, regardless of the career path she chooses, she will most likely also be married with children someday and will need to learn the skills involved to know how to handle grocery shopping with littles.  So, I allow R to take C in the cart with her as she does her grocery shopping.  If nothing else, it sure does open R's eyes to the constant "I want that's" that littles love to utter incessantly, and gives her some newfound respect for me when I have to hear that x4!  :o)

When everyone has finished getting all the items on their lists, we go together to the checkout lane.  However, I have each child empty their own carts onto the conveyor belt and the bagged items back into the cart (prompting them to be smart about how they reload the cart -- i.e.: being sure not to put canned goods on top of bread or eggs, etc).

Occasionally, I allow the children to take their carts to the "Self Check" lane, so they can learn how to do that as well.  They especially love that!  However, it does take a LOT longer, so we don't do that very often.  :o)

I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten compliments from people in the store who are utterly amazed that my children are capable of going grocery shopping at their young ages.  One day, I even had a cashier tell me that she didn't even know how to go grocery shopping until she was in college, and that it was such an embarrassing and frustrating experience, it made her wish someone had taken the time to teach her when she was young.  Overall, though, each person will need to evaluate their own children's maturity level and ability, and act accordingly.  I wouldn't send my 5 year old off on her own in the store, but as she gets more familiar with the way things work, I might send her off with her older sister.  That way, she gets to experience a little bit of independence from Mom, and begins to learn some important life skills.

Who knew going to the grocery store with kids could be so stress-free, educational, and FUN??? :o)


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Moving On... (Again)

Apparently, our family is destined to travel the country like Nomads or Gypsies... or, at least that's how it feels sometimes, since we seem to move every 2 years or so. I will say, though, that throughout all of these moves, we have seen the Hand of Almighty God at work in every single situation, always being faithful to answer our prayers as we seek to grow more spiritually mature and to act more like Him in all that we do. It has most definitely been painful at times, with many difficult lessons on patience, faithfulness, perseverance, etc. But, we fully trust in the Sovereignty of God and in His ability to bring us through any trials we may face in this life.

This latest move was especially exciting for me. I consider Tennessee my home state, spending the majority of my growing-up years there. So, when the Lord provided my husband with a JOB, a CHURCH, and a HOUSE during the course of ONE WEEKEND, and it "just-so-happened" to be in TN... I was ecstatic!

We only just moved into this house one week ago, so there is still a lot of "tweaking" to do to the house (painting, curtains, more pictures on the walls, etc), but I hope these pics will get the point across. And, we really love our new place. Many thanks to those of you who have been praying for our family during a(nother) difficult span of unemployment. Now, on to the house pics! :o)

The BEFORE and AFTER transformation (remember, it is still a work in progress):

The front of the house.

B's room BEFORE (excited that he has a view of the river from his window).

The Master Bedroom.

I wish I could get a good pic of the whole room. It is HUGE! That is a King Sized bed, and it is still big enough to have a couch/sitting area on the other side of the room (if we had the furniture to put in it). :o)

The Girls' Room

The Dining Area


The Dining Room/Homeschool Area
AFTER (I haven't gotten it organized yet.  Thankfully, it is summer break, so I have a while before I have to get it finished.  Yay!  More time to procrastinate!)  :o)

 The Kitchen

Living Room/Kitchen area

  The Living Room (half of it, anyway)

The other half of the Living Room/Music Room.  The kids are very excited to restart their piano & violin lessons soon!  :o)
Hope you enjoyed the "tour"!  We really like it here so far.  And, hopefully the Lord will let us live here for a little while before He moves us again!  :o)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Resurrection Rolls

The kids and I decided to honor Resurrection Day by making these delicious, yet educational snacks -- Resurrection Rolls.

Here is B, rolling his marshmallow (representing the body of Jesus) into butter (representing the oils used to prepare the body for burial), and cinnamon-sugar (representing the spices used in preserving the body), and wrapping it in the crescent roll (representing the linen cloth used to wrap Jesus' body).
After the rolls were baked in a 350 degree oven (representing the tomb) for 10-12 minutes, they were ready to be eaten -- much to the excitement of the children.  :o)

 Here, I broke one of the rolls open, where the marshmallow has "mysteriously" disappeared.

The "tomb" is empty! Jesus is alive! Praise be to God!

The children thoroughly enjoyed the fact that they were able to eat this craft project, too.  :o)

Even little C got in on the action.  Mmm...  A tasty object lesson.  :o)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Artists in the Making

Today for Art class, I decided to give the kids the assignment of drawing a specific object.  I told them to pretend that their hands were cameras, and they had to make a copy of the item in front of them.  I have to admit, I was a little surprised by their artistic ability.  All of them, in their own special way, made a very great picture.

Here was the "inspiration" that they were assigned to draw:

Here is what B (7 yrs) came up with:

Here is R's (10 yrs) interpretation:

H's (4 yrs) turned out to be more of an "abstract", but at least she tried...  :o)

Overall, I was very impressed with my little up-and-coming artists.  Now, to find a spot on the fridge to hang them...  :o)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Curriculum Giveaway from Veritas Press!

One of my favorite websites ( announced a really incredible giveaway of some really incredible curriculum from Veritas Press!

The giveaway is for their Kindergarten/First Grade Phonics Museum Combo Kit.

What all comes with the Phonics Museum Kindergarten/First Grade Combo Kit?:
  • Two years worth of curriculum – four sturdy workbooks – two student workbooks and two teacher’s manuals (kindergarten and first grade)
  • The museum game board with game pieces
  • 31 primers
  • Puzzle piece letters
  • Beautiful art covered flashcards
  • Step-by-step Lesson Plans
  • Deck of game cards
  • CD with original songs to help facilitate phonics concepts

And... who doesn't like FREE???

Head on over to the Raising Homemakers website and enter for your chance to win this wonderful homeschool resource!  :o)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Baking Bread

Making bread from scratch is something I have wanted to do for a very long time.  I recently found a wonderful website that is dedicated to teaching young girls to become successful homemakers.  One of the lessons on the site was bread making.  And, since my littles are finally feeling better from their sicknesses, I thought this snowy day was as good as any for us to try it.  :o)

H probably had the most fun.  For a girl who loves being clean, she sure did love getting messy!  :o)

Kneading their own dough balls.  Notice little H with her face covered in flour.  :o)

All done rolling and shaping.  Now, for the baking!  :o)

Both loaves cooling.  We are so anxious to see how they taste!

The girls decided to baste their loaf with milk first.  It gave it a very nice color.  And very moist!

B chose to leave his loaf just the way the recipe called for.  The crust didn't turn out as golden as the girls' did, but it was still very moist and delicious.

The best part was getting to eat our tasty creations!  :o)

We had a really fun time together. Sure, it made a terrible mess in my freshly cleaned kitchen. But, the memories we made, and those flour-covered smiles are better than the cleanest kitchen in the world.  We will definitely be experimenting with more bread recipes very soon!  :o)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Happy Sick Birthday

My sweet little H is turning 4 years old today.  She has been counting down the days for several weeks now.  She has been so excited waiting for this day to come.  And now, she is sick in bed with a terribly bad case of bronchitis.  All she wants to do is sleep.  She keeps asking if she is allowed to go to bed early!  (This never happens, by the way).  And, she is too sick to eat, so we aren't even going to make her birthday cake or have a party until she feels better.

We've tried to make the best of this terribly sad situation.  She gets to stay in bed all day (her choice, not ours), and watch as many movies as she wants.  :o)

Even as sick as she is, she tries to be a happy girl.  :o)

You can see on her face that she doesn't feel very well, though.  Poor little thing has no energy.  :o(

She tried to join the rest of the family for a while, but after a few minutes, she ran out of energy and completely zonked out. 

Sweet baby girl.  We will celebrate your birthday when you are feeling much better!
We love you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Her Favorite Birthday Gift

My sweet R just turned 10 years old.  And her grandma couldn't have gotten a more perfect gift for her.  :o)

*NOTE*  For those of you reading this on Facebook, you will need to click this link to see the video.

Happy 10th Birthday my sweet, beautiful daughter!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

My children are so creative.  They wanted to do something special for everyone on Christmas, so they practiced this adorable little song.  They wrote it all by themselves, and performed it for me.  I thought it was so cute that I just HAD to record it and post it for everyone to see.

Merry Christmas from the RichFam!  (well... most of us, anyway...)   :o)

Monday, December 20, 2010

A "Bunny" for Christmas

For months and months our kids have been pestering us to get them a pet.  I would have agreed to a cat, but 2 people in our family have discovered they are allergic to them, so that idea is scrapped.  And I am NOT inclined to get something scaly, slimy, or creepy-crawly, so reptiles, amphibians and any and all invertebrates are also completely out of the question. 

The kids finally decided on a bunny.  They are small, they are soft to pet, and fairly easy to maintain.  So, Jay and I agreed... but with certain conditions.  They had to prove to us that they were ready, willing, and able to take care of a pet.

So, we came up with the "Pet Points" system.  100 points = a bunny.  Each day, the kids need to perform extra tasks (in addition to their regular chores), that will show us that they are mature enough to handle the responsibility of having a pet.

For example:

*  If they see a stray sock sitting in the middle of the floor, even if it is not their own, they should pick it up and put it in the laundry hamper.

*  If their little sister is struggling to put her shoes on, they are to help her (without being asked).

*  Putting others ahead of themselves, etc.

You get the idea...

At first, the kids asked us how many points they had to earn to get a dog.  Imagining the messes a dog can create in a house that I strive to keep clean and orderly, I cringed at the thought and told them they would have to earn 1,000 points to get a dog.  So, the kids figured a bunny was a more attainable goal.

Week after week, they have diligently been earning points towards a bunny.  But, week after week, they have also been diligently LOSING points for bad behavior.  Yes, my children can have bad behavior, too.  :o)  At the end of each week, they seem to have just about the same amount of points as they started with.  It has been a bit frustrating for them.

So Jay and I, seeing the roller coaster of earned and lost "pet points" day in and day out, decided that we would like to teach them a more important lesson through all of this.  The lesson of God's grace and mercy.

We decided to give the children the gift that they wanted more than anything... a DOG!

We have been so impressed with their effort to earn the "pet points" that we just could not stand giving them a pet that they were just "settling" for.  We wanted to give them the thing that they thought they could never attain with their points.  Plus, since this dog happens to be completely housebroken... I consider it a win-win.  :o)

And, as strange as it sounds, Jay and I really want to name this little dog "Bunny", since that was supposed to be the pet that they worked so hard to get in the first place.  We plan on giving it to them for Christmas... IF we can wait that long!!!  I REALLY want to give it to them early!!!  :o)