Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my birthday (happy birthday to me!) It was filled with school, appointments, Costco, Walmart and a Pack Meeting for our Cub Scout Pack. It has been a week (only a week?) since Chuck and I decided to enroll the children in school and everyday it has been confirmed to me (though life) that this is the right choice. I told Chuck yesterday, “I could  choose to keep the kids home, but I can’t homeschool them right now” and he said, “I know…you could unschool* them, but that’s not what we want“. Just this week I had kids with appointments Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday…

*for us, “unschooling” works great in the early years. Most of my kids have read before we  began actually homeschooling them…but it is not a method we will choose for our older (10 and up) crowd.

IMG_7802 IMG_7866How cute are these pictures Tilly took of Apollo and Chuck? Apollo loves his daddy and enjoys spending his evenings with him. And this is not an unusual sight at all. After I find them crashed like this, it is time to haul Apollo of to his bed and hook him up for his nightly tube feeding.

Wednesday Kalina had appointments at Children’s starting at 8:45 am (we live 100 miles from the hospital. Ouch) It ended up being a ten-hour day from the time we left until we walked back in the door of our house. I took Tucker and Hezekiah along with me and they were troopers.

Photos by Tilly

Tilly has been playing with my new 100mm macro lens. I have to say, I’m a bit  jealous. Since she’s sixteen, has no children and is on Christmas break from school, she’s had plenty of time to play it. I, on the other hand, have barely been able to pick the lens up since it arrived…

IMG_7633 IMG_7621

Yeah. Tilly pretty much rocks this lens..

I have been sorting through all of our homeschool supplies. I will be getting rid of our curriculum and work books and am having a fabulous time setting up all of our fun stuff. One advantage I see already is that with the basics taken off my lap, there will be more time and energy to spend on all of the very best parts of homeschooling. The kids have already asked to continue with Story of the World and our science. I am spiffing up and making all of our hands-on projects more available. I hope to do a better job of supporting the kids individual interests and encouraging Hezekiah’s scientific brain. At the same time, I am cautioning myself against making too many big plans. One day at a time.

Today I will be hauling my camera out to capture someone’s birthday, so I better go get ready…

 

Debt Free Living with CASHFLOW Board Game

Thank you to RichDad for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to be financially savvy with CASHFLOW board game!

Spending. Saving. Borrowing. Repaying. Finances. Money.

As you know Chuck and I have been on a necessary journey to pay off our debt.  Money management is a vital life skill and we believe it is essential to teach our children these skills. Up until five or six years ago we lived completely debt-free; even with our large family. Then medical bills and various life circumstances slowly found us accumulating and then relying on debt. In January 2014 we made a plan and committed to pay off our debt little by little no matter how long it takes. So far we have paid off over $16,000. Woo-hoo!!! Financial Skills with CASHFLOW board gameCASHFLOW- SCH-7781

We have chosen to be very transparent with our children about our debt. They know (and see) that we are making very real choices to become debt free. We keep the dollar amount of debt we have paid off so far ($16,077) on our dry erase board in the dining room so they can track the progress along with us.

We believe that by allowing our children to be part of the journey to debt-free living, they will be learning sound financial principles along the way. I wish our story was one of “we never had any debt” but instead it is going to be one of perseverance and success and that might be even better in the long run.

Teach real life financial skills with CASHFLOW

Aside from just being transparent with our kids about the debt, we allow them to see how and where we spend our money. We are being intentional as we teach them about spending, saving and giving. We also enjoy teaching them about money management through the CASHFLOW board game. CASHFLOW has been a favorite of my kids for years. We introduced David to the game while he was visiting last month and I think it is safe to say he is hooked now as well.

So what exactly is so great about the CASHFLOW board game?

CASHFLOW 101 teaches you and your kids how to get out of the Rat Race and onto the Fast Track, how to make your money work for you – not the other way around. CASHFLOW 101 is an educational board game that simulates real life financial strategies and situations. As a simulation, you learn valuable lessons and gain priceless insights into personal finance and investing without having to put your actual money at risk. CASHFLOW 101 is the ultimate realization of Robert Kiyosaki’s vision of an interactive tool for financial education, and the fulfillment of his belief that we learn best by doing. CASHFLOW 101 is an educational board game that teaches accounting, finance, and investing at the same time – and makes learning fun!

Teach real life financial skills with CASHFLOWTilly learns just how expensive braces can be…Ouch.

The basic premise of CASHFLOW is this: You start out in the rat race. To escape, your passive income has to be greater than your total expenses (sound familiar?) Along the way you collect Big Deal, Small Deal and Doodad cards. This game includes financial statements and cash ledgers that the players fill out. Hezekiah (10) and Tucker (9) love to play this (though they need a bit of assistance from a parent or older sibling). I love, love, love the principles picked up during play.

Teach real life financial skills with CASHFLOW

This game has offered our family hours of fun over the years (and a whole lot of learning). After playing it with our friends again a few weeks ago Chuck announced that he wanted to buy our own copy of the game for the kids.

Now your family can enjoy 10% off  CASHFLOW with the promo code: CASHFLOW.

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Are you intentional about teaching your kids financial skills? Are you open about money discussions or is that something you keep private?

BlogHer Pro ’14 Recap

Every time I head somewhere it seems, someone is asking how BlogHer Pro went. In short, it was amazing and I am so glad I went. The first night I met up with a  group of five other bloggers and we had dinner together in the hotel. This was great because it meant that we  (all strangers) had a core group we could feel comfortable with. We would attend various classes and network, but we had our little Band of Bloggers to return to.

The biggest question I am getting is, Did you get your book proposal written? The answer is, no it isn’t written. I do, however, feel equipped to write it now and have given myself a deadline of January 31, 2015 to complete it. Then my search for an agent will begin!

One of the best parts of attending BlogHer Pro ’14 was being in a group of fellow bloggers who understood what the heck I was talking about. Even my husband, Chuck, doesn’t understand what I’m talking about half the time when I discuss the business side of blogging. The information I took in and brought home was overwhelming. I am slowly going through my list of people and sites to check out.

After returning home my computer (a MacBook Pro purchased in 2007) decided it was time for retirement. She didn’t even give me two weeks notice. This meant a scramble to purchase a replacement before my next sponsored blog post was due. You may have noticed a lack of photos on my site recently…that’s because I have taken very few photos (I tend to take fewer photos when I’m on call for a birth because I like to keep my bag packed and ready to go). And my new MacBook Pro doesn’t have any old photos on it.

This will change, I’m sure, because I just purchased the Canon 100mm macro lens (<–affiliate link so you can buy your own) for my business. It will be arriving today (hurray for Amazon Prime). I bought this lens for two reasons: food photos and newborn photos. I can’t wait to start playing.

I’d like to introduce you to the Band of Bloggers I hung out with at BlogHer Pro ’14:

Heather from Heather Likes Food was my fun roomie and is an amazing food photographer. I am seriously in awe of her skills and picked her brain about how to improve my own food photography. We had her Crunchy Baked Taco Casserole for dinner last night and it was so good!

Chan is an engineer from Trinidad who just happens to be an inspiring photographer as well. She blogs over at Introvertly Bubbly. She posts pictures of her travels, her meals and her beautiful home in Trinidad. Be sure and find her on Instagram as well.

Lisa from Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish and Laura from Real Mom Kitchen. Somehow I fell in with a group a food bloggers. Ironic since I neither enjoy cooking nor photographing food. On the bright side, I do enjoy eating good food.

Kaitlin from Kaitlin Blogs was the only non-mom in our little group, but she was generous with cute dog photos.

So there is the short version. I will likely be sharing more along the way, but wanted to answer the book proposal question. Go ahead, check out a few of my new friends and introduce yourself!

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Thank you for all of your kind comments about yesterday’s post. I plan to respond to many of them individually but am still processing bot the decision and the comments.

 

My Farewell to Homeschooling

My Farewell to homeschooling

This is a difficult post to write, my friends; mainly because it was such a difficult decision to make. The short story: I enrolled Jubilee, Hezekiah and Tucker in school last week and will be enrolling Kalina this week. They will begin school the first week of January, after Christmas break.

The long story, the real story, is much more complicated.

Chuck and I began our family planning to homeschool our children. We never discussed a different option.  We put Mordecai in school at the beginning of his third grade year. I had been unsuccessful in teaching him to read and we knew he needed a different environment. In 2012, we enrolled Jubilee, Hezekiah, Avi and Tucker in school as a stop-gap measure. At the time we were overwhelmed with Apollo’s appointments and physical needs. He was being tube fed four times a day and consumed only a few bites of food orally. He was not in good physical health and was facing another heart surgery and numerous doctor’s appointments. Our plan was to have them complete the school year then come home and resume homeschooling, which we did (with the exception of Avi who has an IEP and needs special services).

Chuck and I were on the couch talking last week, discussing the latest happenings (and series of appointments) in our family when he looked at me and said, “I think you should enroll the kids in school“. He reminded me that he was wasn’t sure about homeschooling them again after their year in school. “They’re doing great, why not leave them?” he asked at the time. In the end we chose to homeschool them again because that was The Plan.

If you know me in person, you probably know that I have a very calm, mellow exterior. The mellow side often hides my stubborn and determined personality (just ask my mom). The Plan was to homeschool. Yes, we got off track the year Apollo had two heart surgeries, but darn it, I was back on track with The Plan right as scheduled. The hard truth is, sticking to The Plan, made thoughtfully 20 years ago, is not the best course of action right now.

In many ways I feel like a failure. If only I worked harder, had the kids do more chores, got more organized, came up with the perfect schedule, then I would be able to homeschool according to The Plan. I feel like I should be able to do everything: run my house, homeschool the kids, get up early to exercise and make healthy food, do the laundry and run kids to appointments. The thing is, just like in 2012, no amount of organizing and scheduling allows me to be home when I’m not home. Right now we have ten children at home, four with special needs. Between appointments for Kalina, Mordecai, Avi and Apollo (not to mention routine appointments for the children without special needs) things are falling through the cracks. As I said back in 2012, I am not willing to have my older children raise and educate their younger siblings…nor am I willing to give my children a half-baked education for the sake of The Plan. Our reason for homeschooling was to give our children a superior education and I can’t supply that (right now) and adequately meet the needs of my children with special needs.

I am also dealing with some health issues myself (nothing life-threatening, so no need to worry that I am going to keel over and you’ll have to marry Chuck and mother my children). Like most moms, I put my children and their needs first. Right now I am running out of options, but want to try exercise, a clean diet and weight loss before I take the next irreversible step: surgery. I need to be healthy to care for my family and my health issues have (understandably) been shoved to the back burner for the last two years.

I am sad, very sad, to see the end of my homeschooling days. I have shed tears, an have not doubt I will shed more. The words my friend wrote in my post Living the Dream hold just as true today. I need to let go of the The Plan and move my children on a course to success that is different than the one I envisioned. It doesn’t help any that Adalia, Judah and Tilly have done so well in community college (Tilly just finished her first quarter of school, ever, and earned a 4.0). I have to remind myself that their childhood was vastly different that their younger siblings.

This time, we don’t intend to put our children in school for a season, then return to homeschooling. We plan to have them finish out their elementary school years at our local school. As for Jr. High and High School? We’re not sure yet. Kalina will attend school so she can access special services available to kids with hearing loss. As for the rest? We haven’t decided yet.

I feel sad and tender and vulnerable. Right now I am focusing my nervous (sad?) energy on clearing out our school shelves and reorganizing.

Once the kids are in school (I’ll be home with just Enoch and Apollo during the day) I plan to focus on my home, my children’s appointments, my health and restoring order to parts of our house and life that have sat neglected for too long.

Farewell, homschooling.