snack shop

Most habits and routines in our home are intentional and planned, but the snack shop was not.  It started out as a fun hands-on one time math lesson for Hunter almost a year ago.  I gave him a dollar and a homemade menu and he purchased his snack(s) for the morning while we discussed coin values and making change. He enjoyed it more than I anticipated and requested that we repeat the routine the next day.  A weekend came and went and both of us forgot about the fun snack shop until a month or two ago when he looked at me with eyes laced with hints of nostalgia and said, “mom, can we do the snack shop again?”

As I thought about it, I realized the snack shop could be a really fun and educational routine in our home.  We began doing it almost every morning between 10:00am and 11:00am. Here is how it works: Using a container of loose change to hold my coins, I “pay” my older two kids (9 and 11) $1.00 and my younger two (3 and 5) 0.10.  The menu is written up on a small white board and changes periodically based on the availability of the items listed.  For my menu items, I stick to basic things that I almost always have on hand and foods that are quick and easy.  I have two columns of prices, one for the older kids and one for the younger kids.  I have a variety of price ranges for the older kids to allow them the opportunity to use different coin values. I often price anything sugary higher than the healthy options and limit the purchases to one.

I began by giving my younger boys ten pennies (counting them out loud) and stuck with that until they were very familiar with the routine.  Later I began giving my 5 year old his pennies two at a time so we could practice counting by twos allowing my 3 year old to listen in and learn as well.  Recently I introduced the dime to my younger two.  I give them a dime and then they trade it in for 10 pennies and then begin to make their purchases. I plan to continue with the dime concept for another month or so until I feel they really have the idea solidified in their mind that one dime is equal to ten pennies.  After that, I will give them two nickels and we will trade those in for ten pennies and then later I will give them one dime which we will trade for 2 nickels which will then be traded for 10 pennies. Continue reading “snack shop”

top three book finds from 2014

Happy New Year!  We have been in Minnesota for the last two weeks relaxing with my in-laws.  I’ve been spoiled in every sense of the word.  Sleeping in, not cooking, reading books and playing games. Don’t get too jealous though because my jeans are feeling a little snug tight. It isn’t my fault however.

My mother in law has stocked her pantry full of different kinds of cookies and treats.  That is not an exaggeration.  I present photo exhibit A (each plastic cool whip type container contains a different type of cookie or fudge).  I count over 10.  And never fear, in the garage there are larger plastic containers to refill these smaller containers as needed! She is amazing and I have the sugar pulsing in my veins to prove it.

All this extra downtime has been great for reading.  I finished two books and Hunter and Ashlyn have almost cleared out the stash I brought along for them as well. As I have been lounging and turning pages through some thought-provoking books, I’ve been secretly wishing I was in a book club so I could verbally process all that I have been taking in. My next best is to share the books with you so ready or not, I am going to start including some posts related to literary loveliness. To start, allow me to share with you my three favorite book finds from 2014: Continue reading “top three book finds from 2014”

warmer together

One thing I would miss, if we ever pack our bags and blow this popsicle joint, is my fireplace. This time of year it is the magnetic glue of our home. We huddle around it, sleep next to it and read by it.  The warmth it gives, both emotionally and physically, simply cannot be overstated.

However, when my mornings get busy and I’m brushing my teeth while making my bed and the kids are hungry and half-dressed, time silently slips past while I forget about the stove in our basement and the embers burn low.

The funny thing about fires is that they can be managed, fed and stoked quite easily while hot, yet they are hopelessly burdensome to resurrect once they have burned low, or worse, gone out.  Not too many mornings ago I chastised myself for lingering too long upstairs before checking on the fire–once again it was on the brink of extinction.  In a desperate attempt to revive the fire quickly, I stacked newspaper, kindling and a few new logs on the embers before I was called away to put out an argument upstairs.  Later, when I remembered my quest, I checked on my fire only to be met with smoldering failure.  You see, you cannot revive a low burning fire quickly, it takes time, attention and just the right kind of fuel.
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breathless

The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Cultivate (verb): to develop or improve by education or training; train; refine.

Not too long ago my husband and I were driving home from a date and discussing things we have recently learned about ourselves.  His discovery was along the lines of musical preferences while mine was steeped in education.  Trent identified a unique musical genre that transports and inspires him while I pinpointed a major player in the reason I enjoy homeschooling: I love learning new things each day. Both were tied to beauty.  Music holds beauty. Education holds beauty. I’ve been thinking about beauty a lot lately.  Most specifically, how easily it can be pushed aside, marginalized and minimized out of our day.  I’ve noticed that raw beauty often cannot be held.  Think sunsets, misty mornings, a moving sonata, children laughing, the smell of freshly baked bread.  I’ve been making mental beauty lists with the intent to keep the beauty around me from slipping through my fingers. I’ve pondered ways to plan, pursue, and practice beauty.  Turns out cultivating beauty isn’t always easy, natural or automatic.

Here is the start to my growing list:

  • nature.
  • prayer.
  • words.
  • actions.
  • art.
  • food.
Taken at face value, these words can seem a bit stale, but unpacking them reveals a deeper level of life waiting to be invested in.
Nature.  When was the last time you observed something in nature for more than 5 sustained minutes? Being surrounded by something can often lead us to take it for granted. My challenge is to notice and appreciate the things around me more fully.

Continue reading “breathless”

still here

I’m still here–both literally and figuratively. About three months ago I came head-on with the fact that in all the uncertainty of our future, my only job was to trust.  I haven’t written in the past few months because my job description has remained the same, the status of our house is unchanged and it isn’t easy to write about nothing on a consistent basis (unless of course your name ends in Seinfeld).

That said, “nothing” is not entirely accurate.  We did have a recent burst of excitement that eventually fizzled into nothing. We had our first (and only) house showing on Halloween and a few days later the same couple came back for a second look.  Leading up to the news of this first showing, both Trent and I had really settled into the fact that this process might take a while, that our house might not sell until spring, if at all.  We had analyzed the situation from every possible angle and carefully chosen the key elements to focus on in order to highlight the benefits of ‘not moving’.  As one friend stated, “mentally, I’ve taken your house off the market”.  Continue reading “still here”