Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Schedules/To do list

Ram and I spent some time this afternoon checking that everything was on our digital calendar for October and even adding a few dates for November. October is very busy especially with cross country and Lamb 1's Cub Scout activities. I will be glad when cross country and fundraising for Cub Scouts is done for this year. Now if I could just get Ram to look at that calendar before making appointments...

Today was payday so I spent some time paying bills and doing a little bookkeeping. It is clear that God is providing for us and everything is working out.

I'm hoping this weekend to figure out what the Lambs need to complete homemade Halloween costumes. There are several Trick or Treat opportunities in our area that we will either help with or go to. Lamb 1 also has to make a hat for his next Cub Scout Pack meeting.

We plan to take our minivan in for repairs soon. Then we will be down to one car for a few days. I do think we will be able to sell the minivan for a lot more than if we don't repair it. After it is repaired we have done enough car shopping to know what we want. We plan to have Ram go to a couple of car dealers in the area and see where he can get the options that we want and the best price. I am hoping that he can work with the dealer and get it to the point where I just have to go sign the papers, not make the Lambs spend all day at a car store. The boys are excited to get 8 seats. I am excited to get a rear view camera because of the neighborhood kids playing near my driveway. I will be giving up some features that I have taken for granted on our minivan. It will be worth it to not deal with the problems we have had on two American minivans.

We found out our roof was not damaged as the roofer had told us and we don't need to make any repairs. That is helpful for not paying the deductible and especially for the time it would take to put a new roof on. I expect our house insurance will still go up due to all the other roofs in the area that had hail damage.

We are going to try to dig our own hole for our free tree. Unfortunately it will be delivered after the irrigation water is turned off so we will need to pay for city water to take care of it this fall. We had a lot of rain recently so maybe that will continue after we plant the tree.

I have committed to making a few items for our church bazaar on November 1. I need to get going on those so they are completed in time. I want to take the Lambs to pick apples and pumpkins this fall.

We have a few minor house repairs that should be done soon. Those are at the bottom of our to do list. The to do list seems a lot more manageable today than it did last week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When it rains it pours...or it hails...

Since I blogged about our real life monopoly last week we have been busy. We added some more to our to do list; not by our choice. All this is not about the money as much as it is the time to deal with all this.

*Our piano teacher is raising her rates. I don't blame her as the price of everything is going up. She is an excellent teacher. She is patient with all of Lamb 1's questions of why music is written the way it is written instead of just playing the required music. She has been so patient with Lamb 2's difficulties with piano because of his vision difficulties. But we need to choose if we are going to continue every week lessons for both Lamb 1 and 2 or every other week. With everything else in our life now I'm thinking maybe it would be better to have lessons every other week but require more practicing at home than they are currently practicing. I think our boys have taken music lessons for granted and perhaps every other week lessons would help with that. It would also ease our schedule some while Lamb 2 is still in therapy. But perhaps Lamb 2 really needs every week lessons due to his difficulties. I'm thinking and praying about this some more before giving the piano teacher an answer.

*We signed up for a program to receive a free tree from our power company. Ram began making the phone calls to be sure that the spot we picked is a safe place to dig and other necessary preparations for the tree. We have called several places and can't find anyone willing to dig the hole for us since they are not selling us the tree. I sure don't want to dig a hole that large in ID soil. I just hope we are ready before the tree is delivered in October.

*Our neighbors got a new roof a few weeks ago and they told us they had had hail damage and it would be a good idea to have our roof checked too. We didn't expect ours to really have damage, but it did. So now we need to make time for the insurance adjuster to check out our roof and find a time for them to put a new roof on before winter. We have to come up with the $ for the deductible and be prepared for an increase in our home insurance. The roofer said that 15,000 roofs in our area need to be repaired after the storm in August. I just can't believe this because I would have expected this in IN, but not in ID where it doesn't rain very much.

I have delegated almost all of our real life monopoly game to Ram. I just can't handle this kind of stuff. I hate to make phone calls like this. Add in what I blogged about last week and I am completely overwhelmed. He's working on the to do list for the minivan, roof, tree, and house. I am so thankful I am married when this stuff happens so I can delegate this to Ram! I am also so thankful that all our real life monopoly game is minor problems. Ram has a job that he likes and we have a nice house and two cars. Our family is together and healthy and that is what really matters.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Borrowers

Last fall Lamb 1 participated in a book club at our library. I wasn't thrilled with their book choices. Only Lamb 1 was the right age for this book club. Ram had another commitment on the night that they had it on. So that meant that Lamb 1 had to attend alone while I hung out at the library with the other two Lambs. Very few children besides Lamb 1 did not have a parent attend with them. Lamb 1 wasn't comfortable in a book club with so many kids. I still thought it was important for him to participate in it as he doesn't have chances like that as he is homeschooled.

This year Lamb 1 and 2 were both the right age for book club. I decided to check it out since 2 out of the 3 Lambs could participate this year. When I went to check it out I found out our library was trying a family book club this fall. I liked three out of the four book choices. I didn't know anything about the fourth book choice, but I didn't oppose it. It is on a night that everyone in our family can attend. Everyone in our family can attend together without one Lamb being left out. I signed up right away when I heard about it. 

It was a late sign up and we only had about a week to read the first book. The first book was The Borrowers by Mary Norton. Grandma had given us a set of this series a few years ago and we had not read it yet. So we hurried to finish the first book before book club.

Our assignment was to bring a shoe box to the first book club. We also brought a few Lego and Fisher Price toys. The rest of the decorations of our diorama were provided by the librarians. It was so interesting what the librarians thought would work for this project. The Lambs had as much fun making the diorama as deciding what other treasures to take home when the librarian announced that everything not used would be thrown away at the end of the evening. We were supposed to leave our dioramas at the library for people to see for the next couple of weeks. Since we had brought Legos and items from home that we didn't want disturbed, we brought ours home.

While we worked on our dioramas we discussed the book. It was so good for our male Lambs to be able to work as they talked about the book. Last year's book club that Lamb 1 participated in was just talk about the book in such a big group that you had to use a microphone. Family book club was a much better style for all the Lambs.

Lamb 1 thought of some items that were just like the book. He included a balloon to be the "borrowing bag" and a little hat to be the "borrowing helmet". The Lambs were especially proud of the little jewelry box that they thought looked like a bathtub. They also made wallpaper and pictures for the wall.
It was a fun evening. The Lambs have enjoyed playing with the diorama this week. Our next book club book is The Cricket in Times Square. Our assignment for this month is to wear paint clothes. We are enjoying reading the book and we are interested to see what we paint and what activity we do with this next book.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Homeschool Brunch

A and T, my friend Joelle's children

Lamb 1

Lamb 2

Lamb 3

On the first Friday that public school was in session here, I hosted a homeschool brunch. I invited 4 families. One family was too busy and one family was sick. It ended up being 7 boys, 1 girl, and 3 moms. 

I wish I would have taken a picture of the food. It was potluck and even with just 3 families we had a lot of food! 

I had planned a scavenger hunt assuming there would be many more children and many more ages and more girls here. There ended up being just one team instead of two. The scavenger hunt took a very long time and the other families almost left before the scavenger hunt was done. The reason why the hunt was so complex was my boys had been begging for me to do this for them all summer. I went a little overboard just following their request. During the scavenger hunt the moms had time to talk and we shared curriculum ideas.

Before they left I snapped a few pictures. I am not posting the one family's pictures here without their permission. Joelle decorated the chalkboard for pictures.

I would like to make this an annual tradition, probably without the scavenger hunt next time. It is fun to take a break after the public school is back in session and get together with friends. In our case it was our last summer event before we began school. For one of the other families it was to take a break for one morning after they began school. I had wanted to do it on the first day of public school but our schedule didn't allow that. I think it was better to wait until Friday for everyone's schedule.

I will admit I was very busy in August getting ready for this scavenger hunt, for hosting this brunch, for Sunday School to begin, making more jam, and some other events in September. Everything went very well and the Lambs had fun which makes all the work worth it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Vietnam Memorial

The Traveling Vietnam Wall is at a local cemetery this weekend. We stopped by tonight to show it to the Lambs. It was quite the production-bands, flags, veterans groups, even food trucks. The Lambs don't understand all this, but we thought it was important to show them. This reproduction is 80% the size of the one in Washington D.C. It was very sunny for all our pictures, but I wanted the Lambs to have a picture to remember tonight.

Lamb 2 is standing by John Adam's picture. Lamb 3 is standing by Abraham Lincoln's picture. You can't tell from their expressions, but they wanted their picture taken with their favorite presidents.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Real Life Monopoly Again

*Pay day!
*Mortgage payment increase because escrow shortage because property taxes increased in the last year. Write a big check to cover that escrow shortage and also pay a bigger mortgage payment.
*Ram's self employment taxes due.
*Receive another bill that insurance would not cover for a Dr. appointment Lamb 2 had last October while trying to figure out that he needed vision therapy.
*Regular bills due.
*We prepaid for 9 months of vision therapy for Lamb 2. He can attend 2 more times before that money runs out. We now need to pay by the month until he completes VT. Insurance will not pay for any of this.
*On Saturday my key got stuck in the ignition of our minivan. I worked with it and got it out. Our mail on Saturday had a recall for our minivan involving the ignition but they currently do not have a fix for it.
*On Monday my key got stuck in the ignition of the minivan. I could not get it out. Ram could not get it out. He drove it to the dealer and it came out. They said it had nothing to do with the recall and we needed to pay $500 to fix it. They warned us that this would get worse if we continued to drive it and it would be unsafe to drive. So we paid the $500 to fix it.
*I really do not think the minivan is safe to drive both because of the recall and because I'm not positive the $500 really fixed the problem. So our plan is to do some necessary repairs on the minivan, go car shopping, and either trade in or sell the minivan. In the meantime Ram is going to drive the minivan and I'm going to drive the car. This means 3 cramped boys fighting in the back seat as I drive them around town.
*This is our second minivan in Lamb 2's lifetime that ends up with major electrical repairs after our only owning it for 4 years and the minivans being about 5 years old. I don't think that either of them were safe to drive at this point. After we sell this we are done with Dodge and Chrysler. Any advice what we should get instead?
*We are extremely busy now that school is back in session. Ram is back to all his regular duties during the school year plus we have several visitors interested in joining our church. That is great news but keeps him very busy. Lamb 1 has cross country and Cub Scouts and piano lessons. Lamb 2 has piano lessons and therapy 3 times a week. Sunday School is back in swing and we have several new members with children to get info about Sunday School to and order materials for. We don't have time to deal with car repairs and go car shopping right now.
*Needless to say, I had to dip into our savings to pay all this yesterday. That is why we have savings, but I don't like to have to dip into savings as much as I did.
*Keep praying and see how God provides for all this in the next few months. We don't play the lottery so it will be interesting.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Another ID blessing

One in four Idaho residents are members of the LDS church. Many of the children that go to the LDS church are very involved with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. One benefit of living here is there is a used Boy Scout store here. Lamb 1 got almost his whole required uniform and some optional parts of his uniform for much cheaper than new. I appreciated this because we are only planning on him being in Cub Scouts for about a year and a half before it is Lamb 2's turn for Scouts. We tried and it is just too difficult for our family to have all 3 involved in Scouts at once. So they will each have their turn in Scouts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Crazy finance ideas

We've been plugging away at paying our mortgage for 2 1/2 years now. Recently our mortgage company has started sending us advertisements that we should take advantage of the low interest rates and the equity of our home. Never mind that we still have tons of money owed.

The advertisement says we could receive $50,000 to use for
*long overdue home improvements
*save towards a college fund
*buy a new car or truck
*consolidate all of our current debt.

The advertisement makes very clear that there will be closing costs but they would help us with the whole process. Notice that it is worded that we would receive $, not that we would be in debt that many more $.

All this seems absolutely crazy to me. We are making headway paying off our mortgage and we would go backwards another $50,000? I could understand if you really needed to make home improvements and had no other way. But our house was brand new when we moved in, we shouldn't need to do any major home improvements already. And why would I jeopardize the place that I live in order to have a new car or truck? Thankfully we don't have debt besides our mortgage so that one is out.

But what seems absolutely the worst for me is their suggestion to refinance to save towards college. Maybe if you needed to pay for your own college now, but to save for the future? Be more in debt so that you have dollars saved for college? And if you are doing this for your children that is even more crazy.

You hear stories on the news all the time that people just owed a few thousand more and lost their job or couldn't pay their taxes and lose their house. How would people feel if that happened after they did an offer like this years ago?

Add in that our taxes just increased which means our mortgage payment just went up. We are very close to having $10,000 of the principal that we borrowed paid off. I will celebrate when we get that far.

I've never taken any financial courses or read very many books on finances, but all these sorts of advertisements end up in our shredder.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Family Schedule Part 3

Our fall schedule:

Monday: Lamb 2 Vision Therapy, Lamb 1 and 2 Piano Lessons, Lamb 1 Cub Scouts
Tuesday: Lamb 2 Vision Therapy, Lamb 1 Cross Country
Wednesday: No extra activities! It is Ram's busiest day at church. I plan to stay home on Wednesdays and hopefully we get lots of school work and house work done. 
Thursday: Lamb 2 Occupational Therapy, Lamb 1 Cross Country
Friday: Ram's Day Off so school schedule may be changed. This is often our doctor appointment, field trips, and shopping day. Some Fridays we are busy in the evening but not during the day time so we have a regular school day. It really depends on the calendar and the Lambs know that Friday does not equal no school. It is either a lighter day of school or a regular day of school. Sometimes we get a lot of school done while waiting at a doctor appointment too.

This schedule will be changed when Cross Country finishes and when Lamb 2 graduates from some therapy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Our Family Schedule Part 2

1pm Lambs and Ewe thank you notes, make cards, etc. (The goal is at least one per school day, Lambs make them and Ewe gets them in the mail.)
3:15pm Tea Time
3:30pm Board game/card game/puzzle time
4pm Rest Time
5pm Make supper, eat, clean up
6:30pm Family reading time
7pm Get ready for bed, Brush and floss teeth, Prayers
(Kyrie, Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Hymn, I am Jesus Little Lamb, Now the Light has Gone Away, Luther’s Evening Prayer)
Lambs Silent READING time until 8pm
8pm Lambs bed time
10pm Ram and Ewe Compline and bed time

*The Lambs complain about 8pm bedtime but they really need it because we want an early start the next day. 

*10pm bed time is necessary for an early start time the next day, but difficult as we have gotten into the habit of Ram watching the news while Ewe finishes housework and then making and eating a bedtime snack and not getting to bed until 11 or 11:30.

*These are the scheduled times, any times not mentioned the Lambs are free to play. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Our Family Schedule Part 1

I'm afraid if I listed the whole day the post would become quite long, so I'll post just our morning schedule first.

7am Ewe read (personal devotions from Treasury of Daily Prayer and one book that I want to read)/Lambs get dressed and then can play-sometimes Lamb 3 sleeps during this time
7:30am Breakfast, Luther’s Morning Prayer, Hymn, Catechism, Bible Verse
8am Calendar, Poetry Recitation, Grammar Jingles, Latin, Bible Story
8:30am Lamb 1 silent reading/Lamb 2 and 3 learn to read time with Mama (WRTR, handwriting, OPGTR, other workbooks)
9am Lamb 1 spelling and handwriting/Lamb 2 math/Lamb 3 play
9:30am Science and History songs (Patriotic Song, Pledge, Geography songs, Presidents song, Science Song), Read Science and History books
10am Read, listen to music, look at art from artist and composer of the week
10:30am Lamb 1 and 3 math/Lamb 2 VT on M and T-play other days
11am Lamb 2 music theory/Lamb 1 practice piano, Lamb 2 practice piano/Lamb 1  music theory, Lamb 3 play
11:30 Ewe computer time/Lambs play outside-This time is shortened on M and T due to VT
12pm Make lunch, eat lunch, vitamins, cod liver oil, devotions, clean up, Lambs do chores, Ewe prep supper
(Devotions= Matins/Psalm of the month/Prayer of the day from Treasury of Daily Prayer plus prayer requests from the Lambs)

*The goal is for Ewe to get up at 6:30 and get ready and have a few minutes computer time before 7am devotion time. If I choose to sleep in then I lose both a little computer time and my chance to read a book; I can cram devotion time in the 7:30 hour but I'll have hungry Lambs begging for breakfast too. 

*Lamb 2 loves to get up early and I think this schedule will be very successful for him. I love getting both school and piano practice done before lunch. Another reason to start earlier is I am trying to have Lamb 1 do more academic work this year. Lamb 3 has not always been ready for his subjects at the right time so there are some play times built in the schedule for him that he will lose if he doesn't do his school work at the time on the schedule. Plus he doesn't need to do as much academic work as a first grader that Lamb 1 as a fifth grader needs to do.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


We read a book about Bach from the series Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers by Mike Venezia. At the beginning of the book he writes: "A special thanks to the Music Department at Grace Lutheran Church and School in River Forest, Illinois, especially Dr. Richard Hillert and Mr. John Fokening".

So I spent a few minutes talking to the Lambs about how it was a good idea to go to the Lutherans for info about Bach. I also talked about how I had met Dr. Hillert when he was part of a music camp at River Forest when I was in high school. At bedtime I remembered that Dr. Hillert wrote "This is the Feast" in our hymnal. They thought all this was pretty neat. After they went to bed I looked up Dr. Hillert in our hymnal and saw how much he contributed to our LSB.

Next the Lambs wanted to know if I knew the author of the book or Mr. John Fokening. Sorry, Lambs, I do not.

I'm not sure the Lambs learned anything about Bach that they did not already know before we read this book, but we did enjoy remembering Dr. Hillert.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day of School

I let the Lambs sleep in because of sickness. Breakfast was ginger ale. Lamb 1 was disturbed that we were off schedule from the beginning because they had slept in. Soon he was kept so busy going from one subject to the next that he forgot about being off schedule. :) Here's what we did accomplish by 11:15 even after beginning late.

Ewe personal devotions
Luther's Morning Prayer
Sing the Faith Catechism First Article
Lamb 3 fixed our schoolroom calendar after not doing this all summer
Read My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson
Prima Latina Review Lesson 1
Bible Story: Rahab and Joshua
Lamb 1 silent reading time
Lamb 2 and 3 learn to read time: practice sound and writing "b" and "c", I can Fold lesson, Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading read "am", "at", "ad" and then add letters b and c before those words and read all of them, practice writing lines and circles with Mama, Star Wars phonics book pages on "b" and "c".
Break to eat more breakfast since no one was feeling sick.
Geography Song: Canada
Presidents Song
Continent Song
Brain Song
Read from Famous Men of Rome
Read to review for Lamb 3 a book about the 5 Senses
Look at art from Jan van Eyck and Sandro Boticelli
Read a book about Leonardo da Vinci
Read a book about Bach's Goldberg Variations
Listen to 3 short Bach pieces from the CD that goes with Opal Wheeler's book
Lamb 1 spelling test
Lamb 1 practice cursive handwriting
Lamb 2 Saxon Math 3 Lesson
Lamb 1 begin Saxon Math 65
Lamb 3 Alpha Math U See lesson
Lamb 2 Music theory book
Lamb 1 and 2 practice piano

I realize that with interruptions for therapy and other commitments we won't always have an entire morning free like we did this morning. We did skip a couple of subjects because we started late. But I am very pleased with the first day and I think overall even with interruptions we are going to accomplish a lot this year. It was worth every minute of my planning of the schedule on Monday. The iPad playlist of school songs worked fabulously this first day.

Now I need to prep school tomorrow. I don't need to grade papers or make lesson plans like I did in the classroom. What I do need to do is organize all our school books, make sure I've pulled what I need like the map of Canada for the Canada song. When we go from one subject to the next and at some times all 3 boys are working on different subjects, there is a pile and mess in the school room by 11am. I will gladly sacrifice the prep time in between subjects to be done with school in the morning. And really it only takes a few minutes after school time after the first few days of school when I'm still getting everything organized.

I am writing this post during recess time. The Lambs say this is the favorite part of their school day. I have to wait until recess time to use the computer unless I get up earlier than wake up time. They have indoor recess because of sickness but most days (rain or shine) they will be sent outside to run off some energy after a full morning of school.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Almost First Day of School!

Yesterday I spent some time planning out a better schedule for our family. My goal was to get up earlier, finish school before lunch, have more devotion time, have more reading time, and get to bed earlier. I worked out schedule that I think will work.

Yesterday the Lambs played outside with the neighbor kids all afternoon. Before bedtime Lamb 1 had a runny nose and started coughing. I think it is allergies. I knew beginning our new schedule today was not going to work. He needed to sleep in and I expected him to be grumpy because he didn't feel well.

So they slept in and Lamb 1 did not go to cross country practice tonight and we did not begin school as planned today. It ended up being good because I ended up spending a couple of hours this afternoon figuring out Sunday School before we begin that on Sunday. We had a new family at our church this weekend and adding their children to Sunday School was wonderful but took some planning of who would teach what class. I also spent some time trying to figure out if it will work for the Lambs to be in Cub Scouts, it's not looking likely for that. What do other parents with 3 boys do to get them all to meetings at different places at the same time? Especially when dad has to work (aka church meetings) and can't help every week. I had expected everyone to meet at the same place and same time, I really don't want two nights a week for Scouts.

Tomorrow we don't have anything on the calendar so I decided we would begin the new schedule even if Lamb 1 coughs through the whole day. Then right before bedtime Lamb 3 threw up. There has been lots of sickness going around here. I'm expecting this to run through the family and I don't really know when we will be able to begin school.

It is so frustrating to have a plan for a schedule after being off schedule for the past 3 years and not be able to follow that plan!