Art (4) baby (5) blogs (3) cleaning (4) Dear Mom (5) educational (13) entertainment (11) Free Stuff (3) fun (8) Grrumbles (4) humor (14) issues (10) lunch (3) Medical (9) My Family (13) pregnancy (1) Preschoolers (5) Products (3) reading (1) safety (4) solutions (19) Teens (1) Toddlers (5) Tweens (3)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Barter is Smarter

I've been looking for a really long time, trying to find an art class for Kira and Marisa. Unfortunately, there does not exist such a thing as art classes for pre-schoolers in my local area. Actually, there is one location where I could get Kira into an art class. The fee is about $150 for a six week class. I can't even begin to afford that.

For all my good qualities as a parent, organized art projects are simply not my thing. I can find cute ideas. I just don't have the patience to assist two little monsters in the creating of such cute ideas. They both really love doing art projects, though.

Well, this past week a friend of mine approached me for help. Her daughter is struggling in Math and needs a tutor. I happen to be very good at Math. I also happen to be really good with her teenage daughter. We came to an agreement for tutoring. Then came the inevitable question...

How much do you charge for tutoring?

I thought about this for a moment. I know my friend is much like I am and doesn't have a whole lot of expendable cash. She knows her daughter needs help, but would certainly have difficulty paying what a tutor normally charges. Then a thought occurred to me. I asked my friend if she likes to do art projects with small children.

It turns out that she does, in fact, enjoy doing art projects. She has some difficulty coming up with good ideas, but the process of doing the work would be fun for her. Also, she adores my girls.

Well - it took me no time at all to suggest a barter system for our girls needs. She can do an art project with the girls while I am tutoring her daughter in Math. In fact, this works well for more than one reason. I won't have to come up with a sitter for the girls when I go to their house to tutor. I just bring them along.

They get their art class.

Her daughter gets help with Math.

Nobody has to come up with any money - beyond the cost of the art supplies.

It's a win-win situation.

Barter really is Smarter!

Friday, March 19, 2010

More Cheap Entertainment

If you need to entertain your kids, but you have limited income resources, thes ideas are perfect.

It doesn't take much to entertain young children. Usually all they need is something new and unique to play with in order to have hours of fun. There are many ways you can accomplish active play without spending a fortune. Here are a few ideas:

1) Gather all the cushions, pillows, and blankets from around the house. Pile the cushions, pillows and blankets in an arrangement directly in front of your sofa. Make sure the pile is very thick and cushioned and covers a large area of the floor. After you've prepared the floor area, direct your children to climb upon the sofa and jump into the 'jumping pit'. Not only will they be entertained by the novelty of being allowed to jump in the house, but the activity will help to wear them out so that they sleep well in the evening.

2) Buy a pack of balloons and blow them up. Toss the balloons in the air so they fall wherever they may. Then sit back and watch as your children create their own games using this new toy. The balloons will last for a couple of days as long as you buy quality balloons that won't pop easily. Get a variety of colors, too, to make the fun even better.

3) The most time tested selection of toys can be found right in you kitchen. Drag out your pots and pans. Drag out a large selection of spoons and measuring cups and whatever else may be used to make noise. Set the pots and pans out for the kids to enjoy. **BE SURE TO INSTALL YOUR EARPLUGS BEFORE YOU HAND OVER THE GOODS!**  Pots and pans will entertain most children. Your teenagers may not be likely to fall for this cheap trick, but up until your child is 8 or 9, you can continue to get away with this.

4) If you're looking for a less noisy use for those pots and pans, set the kids up in the bathroom with pots, pans, and bowls of various sizes. Be sure to spread out a few towels before you begin to help minimize the mess. Provide your kids with a few ground rules (no throwing the water) and a few cups and spoons of various sizes. A strainer or two is also a good addition to this game. For younger children, give them a few cups of water to play with. For older children, give them permission to use the faucet in the bathtub to obtain their water. The kids will enjoy getting their own water in the amounts that they determine will be appropriate for their tasks at hand.

You may end up with a mess to clean, but your kids will be so happy with their entertainment that they might even offer to HELP with the clean up. Of course, even if they don't offer to help, you will have accomplished a length of quiet time. And we all know that quiet time is PRICELESS!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Angel.

Well - My Angel just turned 20 years old. Unfortunately, we didn't get to visit this weekend because everybody is sick. I'm sick. She's sick. Her son is sick. It's so unfair.

She'll be coming to visit next weekend, though, and we'll be going out for a special celebratory dinner. I'm looking forward to it.

She's been on her own now for just over 2 years. She still needs me, though. She calls when the baby is sick. She calls when she's sad or stressed. Even though she's an adult, she still needs parenting and somebody to turn to.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions that parents have is that their job is done when their child turns 18 and moves out. That concept couldn't be more wrong. Even as an adult, making a way in the world, our children need and want us to be involved. We don't stop being parents the day they move out. It's important to continue to be what you've always been - a solid foundation to lean on when times get tough.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

100 Activities to Keep Your Children Happy

I was blog hopping yesterday and came across information for a FREE E-Book when I stopped by Blessings On Savings.

Natural Parenting Tips is offering a free e-book when you sign up for their newsletter. The book "100 Activities to Keep Your Children Happy." I went to sign up for the book and found that the site itself is well worth a bit of browsing. I found information about Bento Boxes, toothpaste, and a few other random bits of useful information. There is also a budget planner, a meal planner and a few other links that look like they could really help out.

I can't wait to get my free e-book so I can add some new tricks to my bag.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Unbroken Marisa

 It was a perfectly beautiful day in Atlanta. The sun was shining. The breeze was mild. The park was uncrowded. Mom had only one child to entertain. Marisa enjoyed an entire day of doing whatever she wanted to do without having to share her time with anybody else. We played at the park. We played at the mall. We played in the driveway. We played in the sun room. We played hard all day long. Around 6:30 in the evening, it was clear that Marisa was broken. She had stood "all she could stand and she couldn't stands no more". She slipped away to the bed with a pacifier in her mouth and a blanket tucked securely under her arm. Her eyes were closed before her head hit the pillow.

Mom congratulated herself on successfully breaking Marisa and managing to keep Marisa awake long enough to be considered a reasonable bedtime. Mom - having been sick for a few days and thoroughly exhausted herself - promptly climbed into bed and fell asleep.

Somewhere in the night, Marisa found new batteries and installed them all by herself. Along about Midnight, she popped out of bed - bright eyed and ready to play. (sigh - and I thought I was going to get a decent night of sleep...)

So here we sit - at 2:00 AM - and Marisa is still not interested in sleeping. It occurred to me that this would be a good time to ask her a few questions. I have not yet done a "favorites" post for Marisa because of her age, but all day she has been telling me her favorite color, so it seems like a good time to do this. Besides, it isn't like we're sleeping or anything...

Color - red

Shirt - red

Shoes - red

Book - red

Song - red

Movie - red

Food - red

Drink - red

Toy - red

Pet - red

Place - red

Person - red

Bug - red

Flower - red

Cat - red

Then again... perhaps this wasn't such a good idea after all. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's their choice

When they're one, two, three and four it's;
Apple or Orange?
Juice box or big girl/boy cup?

When they're five, six, seven, eight it's;
What kind of cake do you want for your birthday?
Who do you want to invite to the sleep-over?

These seem like simple questions to us but for our little one's these can be tough choices.

Then when our children get to be a teenager the choices/questions get harder. The nice thing for them is we are there for them to guide them in making the right choices. But we can't in the end make the choices for them. And that is where it is hard for us as parents!

The girl knows what she wants her career to be upon graduation but the getting there has to be her choice. When I say that I mean what classes to take in what year. She needs to make sure she has all the prerequisites for University, yet she doesn't want to over do it, so she is too tired from studies and in the end decides it's not worth it.

I can guide her but I can't make the final decisions for her. She knows what her real limits are and it is hard to have to let her make those final choices instead letting her take the easy road and me making them for her. It really will not help her in life.

It was so much easier when it was apple or orange with lunch... sigh
How do you handle choices in your home? Is it really their choice or are you telling them what to choose?

Contributed by; The Mind of a Mom

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bedtime Cleaning Party

It's 10:40 PM here in Georgia right now. Most children are sleeping soundly, snug in their beds. Most children have BEEN sleeping soundly for quite some time now. My children are NOT like most children. They do not seem to feel the need to sleep. THEY are NOT tired.

These nights come around every so often where the children really do not desire sleep. They would rather stay awake and play, or more likely - annoy me. Now, I could fret over this and fight with them over the virtues and requirements of bedtime and sleep. It would be a valid endeavor on my part to force the issue of staying in bed and going to sleep. After all, I have to be awake until after they are sound asleep. (Just trust me on this one. Leaving those two unattended before they are actually passed out is never a good idea.)

Instead of arguing, I have the ultimate solution to sleepless nights. When these nights come around, I declare a Bedtime Cleaning Party. Here are the rules:

1) You have to stay IN your room.

2) You have to be actively CLEANING your room and putting toys away. (One would argue that the toys really should be put away before bedtime, but here in the real world... )


4) As soon as the cleaning is finished, they have to go back to bed. 

The cleaning party usually lasts for about an hour. The girls spend a great deal of time and effort putting all the toys and books where they belong and making sure everything is just perfect. In fact, the nighttime cleaning parties are far more effective at accomplishing a clean room than any other efforts we've tried. They both know that the longer they engage in cleaning, the longer it will be before they are returned to their beds. This works well for us because we do not have any strict schedules that we adhere to and because they both tend to sleep longer when they spend less time fussing before bedtime. They get the distraction of being out of bed. When they go back to bed, they both feel as though they've gotten away with something so they know that it really is bedtime and there will be no more concessions.

I get the pleasure of a clean bedroom with all the toys put away. (Well, at least until they wake up in the morning...)