Sep 22, 2011

Thrift Store Shopping

I don’t shop at thrift stores often because I find that they tend to be time consuming. I can usually find new clothing on clearance for about the same prices as some used thrift store items.   With my own children, I always buy ahead when things go on clearance, and I shop garage sales whenever I have time.  When the weather changes at our house, I just pull out the tote marked with my boys' size and fill their drawers with "new" clothes.  Since we took in two foster kids though, I've been needed to find them winter clothes now.  It's hard to find good deals on in-season clothes.  So I called around and found that one thrift store in the community has five dollar Thursdays.  Everything I can fit into my little shopping basket (including shoes, belts, purses, etc.) is only $5.  I've already gone up there three times, and I've brought home over 60 items for my new foster kids!  Then I ran into a lady that I knew at the store, she told me that another thrift store in town is clearance all summer clothes at $0.25 right now, and all socks and underwear are free!  I'm not big on buying used underwear, but I found out that Walmart donates opened packages of new underwear to these thrift stores.  So call around and find out if any thrift stores in your area have any deals.  It will be worth your time!

Sep 15, 2011

Making Veggies and Fruit Fun

Have you ever tried having fun with your food?  Try making a face or some other recognizable object with your food.  You kids will love it!

Sep 13, 2011

Working and Homeschooling

Sometimes I feel like it is impossible to work and try to homeschool.  Am I insane?  Oh, yeah, we also are foster parents.  I was talking to another woman yesterday about the different things our family does.  She looked at me as if I had two heads.  It is possible though.  Here's what I have learned:

You must be very organized.  I plan out our homeschooling two week at a time.  All worksheets, projects, and/or other materials are put together on our homeschooling bookshelf at that time.

We use more worksheets than I would like.  I envisioned long days of hands on projects, but that isn't really happening right now.  We do get to do projects, but since I'm not with Luke five days a week while he does his school work, he does a lot of worksheets on the days I work. 

Prepare everything the night before.  As soon as the kids go to bed, I start dashing around.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next day are set out or prepared as much as possible.  Everyone's clothes are set out in the bathroom.  If I'm going to work, I put all of my stuff in the car in the evening.  Anything else that needs to go with us gets put right by the door.  Then I put a load of laundry in the washer.  If I have time, it goes in the dryer, if not, it goes in the dryer first thing in the morning.  Then it gets folded first thing in the morning. 

Be flexible.  Kids get sick, work doesn't get done, stress levels rise.  Remember to be flexible. 

Have a backup plan.  When I worked full time this was so important!  We only had one child at the time, but we also had a foster child.  It seemed like someone was always sick!  Make sure you have a back up plan when thing don't go right.  Who will pick up the kids, where will they go, can you miss work, how often can you work, etc.

Working outside the home and homeschooling is not ideal, but it is possible.  Do you work and homeschool?  Please share your advice and suggestions with us!

Sep 9, 2011

Book Report or Unit Study Idea

Last spring Luke and I studied the biographies of several famous Americans.  While studying Benjamin Franklin, he created a timeline mobile.  He enjoyed it so much, and he still can tell you so many interesting things about Ben Franklin's life.  Here's how he did it:

  • Go through the book or material and list the most important events in the person's life with dates.
  • Luke then printed the list and mounted each event on construction paper.  You could just hand write the events though. 
  • Punch a hole in the top of each event.
  • Tie a piece of yarn through the hole.
  • Hang the events at various levels, in order, from a wire hanger.

Did you have any good book report projects?

Sep 8, 2011

Disposing the Piles of Artwork

I save everything.  My husband saves everything, and now our oldest son, Luke, saves everything.  This creates difficulties when you have art work coming home from preschool, church, and now homeschooling.  I quickly realized that there was no way I could keep everything, but it is so hard for me to throw things away!  I figured out how to handle this problem though. 

Christmas Tree - December 2004

  • Take a picture of the item.  It's even better if you can take a picture of your child holding the artwork.
  • File the picture in your computer by name and date.
  • You and your child can then go back and view the pictures anytime you feel like it.

It's that easy.  Now I can dispose of the children's artwork without feeling guilty.  Of course, I do save some now and then.

Noodle Pumpkin - October 2005

Do you have solutions for keeping or disposing of children's artwork?

Sep 6, 2011

Preschool and Toddler Fine Motor Sorting Activities

I got this idea from our Parents As Teachers Educator who had come to our home to do a screening for our foster children.  This skill encourages color sorting,  sorting by size, and fine motor skills.  All you need is six different colors and sizes of the craft pom poms and an old egg carton.  You can find these in the craft section at Walmart or at craft stores.  Encourage your toddler to sort the pom poms by size.  Tell her to put the big ones in the back and the small ones in the front.  Then have her match the pom poms by color.  If you have a spoon or these Easter egg holders, have your toddler practice moving and sorting the pom poms with the spoon or holders for fine motor skill practice.  My kids love this activity!

Our littlest one is enjoying putting the pom poms in an old Parmesan cheese container.  Then he dumps them out and starts over again. 

Sep 1, 2011

How Can You Help Foster Parents

Many times when people find out that my husband and I are foster parents, they say they've thought about fostering parenting, but...  That's okay.  Not everyone is cut out to be a foster parent.  Your job, family, schedule, health or whatever may not fit the lifestyle needed to be a foster parent.  If you are really interested in fostering parenting, but just don't think you can do it right now, consider just being a support for a foster parent that you know.  I've complied a list of things you can do to help a foster family.

1)  Pray for the child, the child's family, and the foster family.  The stress and emotional toll for all involved is very high.

2)  Consider donating used or new clothes.  We are on our third foster placement now.  The first two only came with the clothes on their backs.  Our current placement has three sets of clothes.  Pick up clothes at garage sales or clean out your own kids' closets.  Ask the foster parent what the child currently needs.

3)  Consider donating new or used toys.  All three of our placements have shown up with no toys of their own.  Our home is filled with toys, stuffed animals, and games, but there is something special about owning your own toy versus playing with someone else's toys.

4)  Consider offering your time.  I don't know what the rules are in every state, but our state is strict about who can watch or babysit the children.  I can't just leave the foster children with my friend and go out on a date with my husband.  So offering to watch the children may be out of the question, but there are other ways you can donate time.  You can offer to come to the foster families house with a preplanned activity for the children so the foster mom can have time to fold the eight loads of laundry sitting in the laundry room.  You could offer to mow the grass or take one of the biological children on a special outing.  Be creative!  

5)  Be supportive and encouraging to the foster parents.  I had one friend see me struggling with my children at the public library.  She offered to keep an eye on three of them while I took one for a  potty break.  Another mom helped me load lunch plates as we struggled through the pot luck dinner line at church, while trying to hold a baby, hold multiple plates, and keep everyone in line.  I am so appreciate every time someone steps in and lends a helping hand!

If you are a foster parent, please share other sugestions you might have.