Did I Cause This Nightmare?



Newtown, Connecticut.

We’re all searching desperately for answers that don’t really exist.  In the wake of over two dozen murders, most of them young children, we want to know why.  We must stop it from ever happening again.  Everything will be questioned.  Too many guns.  Not enough guns.  Asperger’s.  Homeschooling.  Metal detectors.  Police in schools.  Mental Health.  Bullying.  Prayer in school.

The truth is, none of these are the answer.  Because these are all ideas and things and laws.  And it’s people who maim and people who died.  The closest answers are those who call for society to change.  But who is society?  When we talk about it, it’s always the other guy, the other parents, the other kids.

Society starts with me.  And you.  Together we make the change.  Not them changing.  Me changing.

How?  Is it new laws or rules?  No.  It starts in your own life and in your own family.  You love others.  Show kindness.  To everyone.  Especially the forgotten and the rejected.  And those who don’t deserve it.  Just as Christ did.

Candle

When my oldest was in kindergarten, a classmate would crawl under the table and bite her ankles.  I spoke with her teachers about it, since it was a recurring problem.  They must have expected the typical kindergarten mom response, because they were a bit surprised at my suggestion.  I asked the teachers to move them so that they sat next to each other.  I knew the boy was having a rough time.  His parents were stationed overseas.  He cried a lot.  And for some reason he wanted my daughter’s attention.  So put them together.  Help him learn how to interact in an acceptable way.  Don’t isolate or punish him.  He’s five and he’s trying to figure out life.  She never had problems with him again, and they became friends.

We have an unspoken rule at our house.  Bullies get invited over for playdates and birthday parties.  Not so I can torment them for making my child miserable.  But to love on them.  To treat them the way I want my child treated, the way they should be treated.  My older children have forged unexpected friendships by simply reaching out.  Maybe we made a difference.  I’m not saying we changed the path of a future Adam Lanza.  I just know my children have turned miserable situations into friendships just by reaching out.  It’s how we change our own world, our own town where this could never happen.

Don’t be fooled, though.  Both my older kids have bullied others.  They’ve pointed out someone’s unusual height, participated in not including someone, bad-mouthed or whined about an unfair situation.  As a parent, it’s my job to step in and set it straight.  It doesn’t matter how bad someone smells, you don’t say anything.  In fact, the unspoken rule comes into play.  I have been known to insist that my rude child sit with his/her victim at lunch or play with them at recess to practice the appropriate behavior.  Being nice isn’t easy.  It’s unnatural.  In times of great tragedy, we step up and our goodness shows through.  Everyday life is so very different.  We have to make ourselves be kind.  Love our neighbors and our enemies.

And then I realize that teaching them kindness and love is much different from showing them how to love others as I love myself.  What do they learn when I comment on someone’s attire or driving skills?  What do they learn when I break the unspoken rule and don’t invite someone over?  How do I handle those who have wronged me?  What have I taught?  Because really, they learn more from what they see, not just what I say or make them do.

I believe the best way to prevent the next massacre is through love and kindness on the individual level.  For me, that love comes from the grace and mercy I received through Christ.  Maybe that love will heal someone’s wounded soul.

Today, I will love more.  I will be kinder.  Will you join me?  We probably won’t know the difference we made, but we must have faith that we can make a difference.

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2. If My Husband Made as Much as Yours – Surviving on a Single Income Pt. 2

 

Welcome back to part two of Surviving on a Single Income.


Just stumbling in here? Read Part 1.

Before you take the plunge, it is crucial to define a purpose.  Why exactly are you doing this?  It’s hard and exhausting work being at home with little ones.  It’s easy to lose your sense of identity when your life is suddenly defined by your husband’s job or your children’s milestones.  The tangible markers of success are gone.  As the cars age, and aren’t replaced, your neighbors and friends begin to realize you don’t have as much money as them.  And in American culture, that can be tough.

Let’s talk American culture a bit.  Why, you ask?  No matter how you look at it, choosing to be a two-parent, single-income family is counter-culture.  Going against the tide of modern culture can be empowering, but it can be draining.  Here’s the rub.  Americans have big houses, newer cars, matching stainless steel appliances, and fashionable clothes.  They also have college degrees, careers with titles, and company swag.  There is an emotional sacrifice when you leave behind the intellectual conversions and feelings of importance that come with a job.  Equally, there are poignant costs to giving up the material items like cars and multiple team sports for your kids.  Some days you’ll feel great about bucking the culture.  Other days it will seem like its sucking your soul away.

A purpose anchors you when you start to second guess your choices.  I have my eye on a $2200 refrigerator.  It’s pretty.  It has everything you could possibly want in a fridge.  LED lights.  Drawers galore.  A working icemaker!!!!  Trust me, every time I pull out the duct tape to “repair” my 18-year-old ugly beast, I think, “If I had a job, I could get a new one.”  And then the pity party starts.  And sometimes I even get a little mad or pouty.  At times like these (and trust me they come), I have to go back to my anchor, my purpose.  Why am I really doing this?

Everyone’s purpose for living on less will vary.  If you’re like our family, there will be multiple reasons, and they will morph over time.

Some purposes to consider:

  • Staying Home with Your Children – American culture is fairly accepting of mothers being home with their babies.  Dads, good luck.  I know fathers do it, but let’s be honest.  Dads will face much more scrutiny if they stay home.  Be prepared for it.  If it’s what your family needs, do it.  Just know that dads may face more opposition than moms.  What about older children?  American culture seems to expect both parents to work once children are school-aged.  In our family, we disagree.  Children face a whole new set of milestones once school starts, many of which will factor in to the adult they become.   You can read more about influencing your child  here.
  • Special Needs or Ill Child – Perhaps your child has a chronic illness that requires frequent doctor and therapist visits.  Juggling work with this type of demand can leave you feeling like a failure both at work and at home.  You may have a child that requires extra attention or recurrent parent meetings at school.  In these cases, it is often simpler for one parent to not work.  However, don’t discount the financial strain.  Both our children had medical needs that were financially draining and time consuming.
  • Living on Less – You may decide to reduce your income simply to force yourself to live frugally.  Reduce your footprint on the world.  Enjoy the simple life. Perhaps you have hobbies you want to pursue.  Also, don’t forget that both can work while only living on one income.  This is an excellent way to eliminate existing debt or save for a home or retirement.
  • Launch a Business – You may be ready to fire your boss and launch your own business.  When starting a new business, you can expect to not make any money, and maybe lose some, the first 3-5 years.  Living on a single income will be critical in the early years of your endeavor.
  • Aging Parents – I never thought this would be the case for us since we have young children.  However, cancer struck both our mothers.  My mother had no one to care for her except us.  For two years (and counting), we have been her caregivers.  Currently she’s in a nursing home, but there is still a time and financial commitment, though not as much as when she lived with us.  As your parents age, they will need help with yard work, cleaning, appointments.  They may eventually need your full time care.  We firmly believe the family is the first line of help.  Our culture has mistakenly moved away from adult children caring for parents.
  • Homeschooling – With more and more schools focusing on standardized tests while failing at educating our children, families are turning inward for education.  Most parents, with enough commitment and resources (curriculum, support groups, co-ops, etc.) can educate their children.
  • Hobbies/Giving Back – Maybe you are ready to pursue something for yourself.  Hobbies often are exchanged for the rat race of the career world.  Or perhaps you’re ready to volunteer at your local school, homeless shelter, or library.  Giving up an income to give back is a noble sacrifice.
  • Retirement – One day we’ll all be there.  With inflation, it’s not a bad idea to learn to live on less so that our retirement fund lasts us all the way through.  Who really wants to come out of retirement because they ran out of money?  And if you’re at retirement age, you know that the retirement check is less than the paycheck you’re accustomed to.

Some of these purposes will apply to you, or you may have a completely different reasoning for living on one income.  No matter.  The important thing is that you know WHY you are doing this.  Write it down and keep it in a safe place.  Decide what you will tell family and friends who think you are nuts or simply want to know more.  And what will you tell the nosey stranger in the grocery store?

A final note on coveting.  Exodus 20:17 is the 10th commandment.  It reads, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  I’ve never paid much attention to this one.  I always thought of coveting someone’s house as wanting a Hollywood home.  And I don’t have neighbors with 10,000 sq ft homes.  So, nothing to covet, right?  WRONG!  Let’s be realistic.  I may not want my neighbor’s wife (because I don’t want a wife), but I do find myself sometimes wishing I had the income she brings in and all the things that come with it.  And I’d love to have someone mow my yard or clean my house.  Hmmmm, maybe this commandment is more applicable than I’d like to admit.  Coveting gets us into all kinds of trouble.  We spend more than we have.  We get angry, jealous, moody.  We feel like we’ve failed or our spouse has failed us.  It leads to whole host of negative feelings that only bring harm on us.  Fight the urge to want what others have.  Remember, they too have sacrificed to gain those things.  They may very well have sacrificed things you aren’t willing to forfeit.

Next time, I’ll dive into the nitty gritty of it.  You’ll get to see what we actually do to survive on one income!  Until next time…

Raised by the Herd

Let’s be very clear, I’m not a scientist.  However, I do know that every species raises its young differently.  Some hatch from eggs completely independent while others are nurtured by one or more adults.  As for humans, we think our young are raised in small family units.  Realistically, in America, as throughout the industrialized world today, children are raised in herds.  But not the typical animal herd.  Look at herds in the animal world.  The young aren’t separated.  Instead they are surrounded by adults.  Of course, adults leave the herd to hunt or do other things.  The human herd is opposite.  Humans group 20 to 30 young together with one adult.  In a good scenario, there may be only 10 young in the herd.  Each herd of children will have an adult who is likely not related to anyone in the herd.  We don’t want bias or favoritism, do we?  The rest of the adults in the herd leave this single adult to handle everything.  Keep the young safe.  Teach them how to survive and thrive.  Help them discover their place and purpose in the herd.

I know I’m not the only who sees the flaw in this thinking.  Every species that raises its young that I know of (again, I’m no expert here) does not isolate the young from the adults.  Plainly, even creatures with less cognitive capabilities understand that  offspring require a lot of guidance, time, and energy.

I began to see the effects of this in my daughter.  No matter how stellar the adults caring for her were, so many of her decisions were influenced by the rational of fellow 9 year olds.  What better way to learn decision-making skills than from a group of 3rd graders?  And then there is the concept of group thought and group emotion.  That starts in infancy.  Test it yourself.  Place 6 babies in a room.  When one begins to cry, watch how the other five follow.  Why?  Because children haven’t learned to think independently.  And they won’t learn it from other children who can’t think independently.

Children need adults.

We are a drop off society.  We drop off our children and go about our own lives, separate from them.  School and daycare are the most common.  But let’s not forget dance, sports, gymnastics, scouts, church, and the list goes on.  When we attend something, it’s often as a spectator.  We go to the concert, meet, game, or recital….and watch from the sidelines.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think children should spend every moment with their parents.  Good grief, I’d have a 42 year old “child” living in my house one day if I believed that!  Children NEED to interact with peers and other adults.  I plan to launch my children at a healthy age.  To do this they must learn to socialize, work in groups, stand up to a bully, deal with a slacker, say no to pressure, and make mistakes.

What I am questioning is have we gone to far?  Do we rely on other people so much that we have little influence on our own children?  I’ve found it very empowering and liberating to take control of this area of our family life.  It takes a lot more time on my part.  To be honest, sometimes I don’t want to be there for everything.  I have things I need wish to do.  But then I remind myself that I WANTED these kiddos.  And I only get a few years to do this.  Once they’re launched, I can travel, have more hobbies, have a better social life.  For now, I like being an active participant.  If something goes wrong, I see it before its out of control.  If I’m failing at something, it’s evident sooner.  And best of all, I’m shaping their worldview.  There are things I’m passionate about that I want them to learn.  To fully understand.  Faith.  Peace.  Family.  Role of government.  Self-Image in the skinny-and-sex-obsessed society.  So much to impart.  I’m not giving up that precious little time.  I’m sure our kids won’t get the world view I desire from their peers.

So what does this look like in our family?  Both our kids are competitive gymnasts.  They spend 6-9 hours a week at workouts.  Most of the time, I’m sitting on the sides watching.  I hear the coaches.  I can see where they are struggling and their achievements.  I make mental notes and start conversations on the way home while the events are still fresh.  The teams they workout with range from first graders to seniors in high school.  Car conversations vary from goal setting to skills to boyfriends to pubic hair.  Was I standing over them the when someone told them about pubic hair?  Nope.  But I’m there enough that it’s comfortable to talk about it.  Our children attend a half day private school.  This places a greater responsibility on the parent while maintaining a traditional classroom setting.  After 4 hours of school, they can still remember what they did at school.  After 7 hours of school, I got blank stares when I asked “So, what did you learn at school today?”

Do you have to be a single income, 2 parent family to make this work?  Not at all!  Find the time somewhere.  You may need to be creative, but you can do it!  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Volunteer regularly in their school class.  The teacher will come to love you, the kids in the class will know you, and you’ll get the inside scoop on how your child is doing academically and socially (the kids will tell you more than the teacher!)
  • Stick around and watch them practice.  Basketball, soccer, dance…whatever they’re in, be there!
  • Help out in their church group, even if it’s once a month.  Sunday School, Youth Group, Choir, AWANA.
  • Make your house the hang out place.  Allow your kids to invite friends over for play dates and sleepovers.
  • Set aside special time with your kids.  Take them on dates, play games, make a craft.
  • Help them with their homework.  Or just sit at the table while they work.

So get busy and enjoy the freedom of taking control of how your kids develop!

Top Notch Curriculum

Family Time Fitness
Fitness 4 Homeschool PE Curriculum

Have you ever asked yourself…

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Can I teach physical education, even though I don’t know anything about it?

Family Time Fitness says: Absolutely!

Current Customer Feedback 11/1/2011
Name: Lisa C
Subject: Testimonials

After reading an article in a homeschooling magazine about the importance of a structured P.E. program, I signed up for the free trial here at Family Time Fitness. Shortly thereafter, we purchased the program. My children and I are all loving it! I have four children, ranging in age from 4 to 15. They are all fit and active, and involved in some sort of organized sport (my daughter is in ballet and the others are in karate). I had thought between those activities and playing outside, that counted as our “P.E.” Since they are all so active and generally healthy, I was surprised during our first few lessons at how many exercises they weren’t able to do as well as I had thought they would. It just didn’t seem they had the body coordination or control for certain activities. Well, after just two or three weeks of having regular P.E. I’m amazed at how much control and coordination they’ve gained! Their performance at karate and ballet has greatly improved also! They are having so much fun each day, and are on their way to a lifetime of healthy living!

Thank Lisa – We could not have said it better!

Family Time Fitness – Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum

The Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum allows homeschool parents to teachphysical education without previous knowledge of physical education and athletic development. Our program, designed by experts in fitness training, nutrition and body movement, is designed to suit every age and ability level while affordably fitting into your budget. Our program combines flexibility and fun with a comprehensive curriculum to give your children a foundation for strong bodies and minds. Best of all, you get all this with a guaranteed lifetime of updates for only $79 dollars for all your children!

Think you have spent your entire curriculum budget? What about your family health budget? Not only is this program a fitness curriculum, it is a family health plan. Gym memberships can cost $150 a month for a family, and a single doctor visit for one can be around $120. Our program costs $79 one time, that’s only $6.58 a month over a year’s time; and it is available to you for a lifetime! Forless than a bag of snacks per month your family can be on the path to a healthier and happier life!

Family Time Fitness

Physical Education (PE) is structured physical activity that develops an organized mind and body for students. Many homeschool parents commonly mistake any physical activity for a PE class. Unfortunately, unstructured physical activity does not give a student the building blocks for proper fitness development. Activities like one day co-op play, Wii Fit or Wii sports and individual sports are not considered physical education because they do not comprehensively teach and manage physical fitness in students.What is Physical Education?

Why does my Homeschool Curriculum need Physical Education?

We created the Fitness 4 Homeschool curriculum because of a lack of fitness programs for homeschoolers. We started this program because we couldn’t find any at all! With the child obesity epidemic on the rise in the U.S., now is the time to give our children the exercise guidance they need while building the skills necessary to stay fit for a lifetime.

We believe that a PE curriculum is absolutely essential for a balanced homeschool classroom. Our expertly designed program has been created to maximize the benefits of spatial awareness, body awareness, environmental awareness, enhanced neurological development, mind-body coordination, stress reduction, social engagement, poise and confidence.

We created this program to solve some of the common problems that arise from leaving a thorough PE program out of your family’s curriculum. Some solutions this curriculum can help with include:

• Knowledge and teaching on how to exercise
• Improvement of gross motor skills
• Childhood obesity prevention
• Diabetes prevention
• Weight management
• Develops self-confidence
• Increases energy and focus for academic studies
• Provides family fitness experience
• Increases PE/ Fitness options

How Does the Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum Work?

The program is designed to create a fun and engaging atmosphere for fitness. The 260 planned lessons teach you everything you need to know with minimal preparation time, and the lessons are also designed so that they do not require a large investment in equipment.

Our program is the only professionally planned comprehensive curriculum for Physical Education and Athletic Development designed with the needs of the parent in mind. Our PE curriculum works for any homeschool because it is easy to follow, can be customized to any schedule, and can fit in almost any space, outdoors or indoors. It’s even easier to follow with our tips for integrating physical education, progress logs and instructional videos.

The Fitness 4 Homeschool program is structured to be integrated into your teaching a minimum of three days per week, but we strongly recommend five. It takes 30 to 45 minutes each day, and we’re certain that it is so fun and engaging for the whole family that it will be the highlight of your student’s day.

The 260 lesson plans utilize repetition, but they are also progressive and sequential. The program is designed for all age levels and abilities, and because we believe that the learning process is most valuable with family engagement, the lessons are designed so that the whole family can join in the lessons.

What is included in the Fitness 4 Homeschool Package?

The Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum includes a startup guide, PDF lesson plans, video demonstrations, assessment tools, reminder emails, lifetime curriculum and video updates, access to online webinars and certificates of completion. One curriculum purchase can be used for all your children, and we never charge any subscription fees or annual renewal fees.

Startup/Training Guide – The Startup Guide is a guide for parents and includes an introduction to physical education, information on what to expect from the program, safety information, how to integrate physical education into your curriculum, teaching tips and equipment information.

Lesson Plans – Each of the 260 professionally planned lessons arrives in PDF format and includes a List of Supplies, Warm-Up, Activity, Cool Down and Suggested Outdoor Activity. Each exercise is described in a detailed, user-friendly format for easy access.

Video Demonstrations – Each exercise includes a demonstration video with real kids doing the exercises. There are over 200 instructional video demonstrations available to you with this curriculum, and you are guaranteed lifetime access to these videos as we update them.

Assessment Tools – We provide tools to help track progress of the basic fundamental movements. Other downloadable tools include nutritional logs and meal planners for a comprehensive fitness approach.

Encouragement Emails – During the first year of your course, we send you reminder emails each week day to keep you and your children motivated on your fitness journey. We also always include nutritional and fitness tips in the emails.

Curriculum Updates – You are guaranteed lifetime access to curriculum updates in addition to the video demonstration updates. We don’t know of any other curriculum program that gives lifetime free updates!

Online Webinars – You have access to our regular online webinars and our webinar archive for further in-depth instruction and tips on the curriculum.

Testimonials and Reviews

John Ratey of the Harvard Medical School states that “Exercise, good fitness-based exercise, makes our brains more ready to learn.” We have gotten excellent reviews from our customers who love the fun, flexibility and learning environment that Fitness 4 Homeschool provides. Our own President of Family Time Fitness Jeremiah Knopp speaks about how his 7-year old nephew Braedan went from being able to do zero jumping jacks to 100 jumping jacks at a time after three months of the Fitness 4 Homeschool program. Dr. Minke, another of the expert curriculum designers, reports that his son now has confidence in playing catch or other physical activities, before which he was not at all interested in sports.

Take a look at just a few of the product reviews published online about our physical education curriculum:

• TheHomeschoolVillage.com
• The Johns Family
• HipHomeschoolMoms
• HomeGrownLearners
• Soaring Creek Academy
• Chicagoland Homeschool Network
• Kathy’s Cluttered Mind

The Fitness 4 Homeschool Advantage

Fitness for Homeschool builds strong minds and stronger bodies, so make an investment in your homeschoolers’ futures. Team sports, recreational facilities or dance class, for example, simply can’t compare to a comprehensive fitness package. Designed by experts in body movement, kinesiology, training and nutrition, this program is more affordable and can be utilized in your own home.

The entire Fitness 4 Homeschool package with lifetime access to all program updates or revisions is available to your entire homeschool family for just one payment of $99. Online schools, Co-op pricing and licensing programs are available.

Please do not hesitate to contact one of our founding members at (979) 209-0778to discuss why a physical education curriculum is right for you and how our Fitness 4 Homeschool package can meet your needs.

PE Curriculum