I love family. I love learning. I love food. This is simply a collection of thoughts, memories, and recipes that are a piece of me!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Habit Training.

**I want to preface this by saying that we use the book I'm writing about today in our homeschool curriculum, but I would absolutely use this with my kids even if we didn't homeschool.  It's that good.  Seriously.

I shared the math curriculum we are using this year with Isaiah a few months ago, and I wanted to share a little bit more about what we are studying in other subjects, too.

By far, the most asked about subject we are doing it Habit Training.

Now, before you roll your eyes and call me a weirdo, let me just say that I would have also thought this was a bit out there a few years ago.  Then after teaching for two years, I realized just how much of what my kids (and even I) do is done out of habit.  It just makes sense that I would train them to replace any bad habits with good, biblical ones at a young age.

We were already using Simply Charlotte Mason for our Bible, Geography, and History curriculum, so using the book "Laying Down the Rails" from there seemed like a great fit for our family.

We actually purchased the two companion books for the breakdown of the lessons.  These books are full of funny stories, sweet poems, and scripture passages to help explain why each habit is important and even necessary in our everyday lives.  There are tons of different topics to choose from, and each one has anywhere from 10 to 14 lessons in it.  The author suggests doing two lessons per week.  This means it will take about an average of 6 weeks to be trained in one habit.

This book will take us around 10 years to actually complete.

Now that you know all about how the book works, let me tell you how it's actually helped us change.

We have finished two topics so far: Cleanliness and Attention.  Oh.  My.  Word.  You guys, my kids are the same sweet, bright, ornery kids that they were 13 weeks ago, but they are much cleaner and much better at paying attention now.

We tackled Cleanliness first.  This one was a hard one for me.  I've never been a tidy person by nature.  (Don't look in my van...eeek...), and my kids certainly inherited that from me.  Their rooms were not only always always a mess, but they didn't really know how to clean when I told them to.  This topic was really great because it broke it down and made it easier to attack our messes in an orderly way.  It showed us how to be diligent, and in the end, our home is much cleaner for it.  Now, don't misread what I've typed there.  Our home is not spotless most of the time, but it does draw us more to pick up our messes when we see the need than we ever were before.  I will say, this was great for the kids, but I was very much trained in this habit as well.

This week, we are wrapping up Attention.  In hindsight, I should've started with this one.

Always start with this one. 

Just kidding.  Start where it fits your family.  (but seriously...start here...)

This one has made such a great impact on my kids, but specifically Isaiah.  We learned how to pay attention and why we pay attention and great tricks to help us pay attention.  No joke, guys, everything else with school and church and general conversations have gotten easier since I was able to start saying, "Today, we need to make sure we are practicing the habit of attention!"

I could go on and on and on all day long about how truly wonderful this series has been, and I'm sure will continue to be for our family.  I would strongly suggest picking this up if anyone in your family has any bad habits that could use a little training.

If you would like to order this book or even take a look at a free sample of it, check it out right here!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Character Parties.

You know who I was before I had kids?  I was that mom who swore my kids were never ever going to wear character clothes.  I thought they were gaudy and tacky and cheap looking.  Nope, not my kids.  My son would wear caps and collared shirts and sweater vests on the regular.

Because I was kind of a pompous jerk.

Fast forward seven years and well, let's just say Isaiah spent about three entire years of his life in shirts with Lighting McQueen on them.  Turns out, if kids really really like something, it makes them really really happy to wear that something on their chest day in and day out.  So I gave in as any loving mother would, and I let him wear his Cars clothes because I liked making him happy more than I liked being the mom with the ever-fashionable kid.

But I still kind of hate character stuff, so I tend to shy away from doing character parties for birthdays because I didn't think I could find a way to do it that would suit both my tastes and be what they wanted.  But guess what, you guys.  It's possible.  And it's precious.  And it's inexpensive.  And it makes my kid really really happy.  It's wins all around.  I'll break down my son's Captain America party for you to see just how I was able to do a super hero party that even I really loved!

I always start with a basic color scheme.  In this case, I obviously went with red, white, and blue.  This helps me avoid cartoon characters on plates that are only covered by cake anyway, and it also cuts down the cost quite a bit.  Captain America plates are $3 for 10.  Blue plates are $1 for 20.  Makes way more economical sense.  Next, I raided my 4th of July decor.  I will admit I got lucky in that Isaiah's birthday is at the end of June, so I found a lot of extra little things at the dollar store, but this idea works well no matter what.  (For example, if your daughter loves Frozen, stock up now on inexpensive Christmas decor that works with that theme!)

Our table cloth was just about 3 yards of fabric from the craft store, and the table runner was simply a blue plastic table cloth I had folded from the dollar store.

Since Isaiah loves Captain America so much, I grabbed some of his own toys to help decorate.  He already had the dress up clothes and helmet, so why not use them?  That's exactly what I did for the precious background.

For our gift area, I just decorated our little rocking chair with some red, white, and blue garland and an American flag.  I also added a new Captain America shield!  This gift totally worked as decor!

I also wrapped all of the gifts in pretty red, white, and blue bags.

We added what really was a 4th of July pinata, and the kids had so much fun with that.

In the end, I think I spent around $50 in all for this party!  (And much of that was on candy...)

I also went ahead and dressed the kids in party-matching attire.  It really added to the whole ambiance.

In the end, I only spent about $50 on this entire party, and a good $20 of that was candy for the pinata.  (Money well spent!)

In the end, I think I love character parties now.  It was so simple to pull together, and it was such a happy birthday!