Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: December 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

When love is the only thing under the tree

Today I read a post from a mom who just wanted to turn off her computer and stay offline until the new year. The joy and expectation of Christmas had simply become too much for her to handle when her own family was broke and there was no money to spend on gifts for the kids.

Her post was only one of dozens of similar threads I saw on Facebook this week, and they broke my heart because this time last year, I could have written the same thing myself.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tyger_lyllie/67737360


At the beginning of last December, my husband lost his job. He is an engineer, and had been working in the hard hit oil and gas industry. It was the beginning of a long, hard time for us, as it was for many in the same industry. Christmas came just weeks after he cleared out his desk. With uncertainty looming, we had no money to spend on gifts whatsoever.

Like so many families, at one time or another in their lives, we had to face a not-so-merry Christmas, where the only thing under our tree and in our stockings was the love we had for one another. But we were fortunate, because we still had our home, the power was still on, and our kids had coats that fit and food to eat. We knew some families had things much worse than ours.

At the time, though, I was terribly depressed, and I will admit I had a hard time getting over the feeling that we were unable to give our kids a "good Christmas" because we couldn't afford to give them gifts. But looking back, I realize that they might have received the best gifts we could have possibly given them, even though things weren't working out at all the way any of us had wanted.

The gift of fortitude


By pulling together during our greatest financial struggle, and leaning on one another, we drew strength. We worked hard to find my husband a new job and to stay on track with the kids' schooling, all while scrimping and saving in whatever ways we could. We got through the hard time together, and if later in their lives, our kids face struggles of their own, they will know they can make it, too.

The gift of humility


Our kids saw us reach out to our bank to save our home. They saw us apply for assistance when my husband's unemployment lasted longer than a few weeks. They learned that humbly and graciously accepting help from those who love you can be hard to do, but is a blessing not only to your own need, but to the ones who give you aid.

The gift of faith


As the weeks of unemployment stretched into months - something we'd never experienced before - and it became tempting to give in to feelings of despair, our children watched as we continued to place our faith in God to see us through. We continued to be thankful that we never went hungry, we never became homeless, and although many wants were unfulfilled, our basic needs were always met.

The gift of perspective


There are much worse things than not getting the toys on your Christmas list. Our kids were never really greedy, and we'd done our best to teach them the difference between wants and needs over the years. But going through a Christmas of financial hardship taught them in a very concrete way that missing out on the things you want is not the end of the world.

This year, we're doing much better. My husband returned to work a few months ago, and this Christmas, although our belts are still tightened, there are a few packages under the Christmas tree. But the best gift this year is the renewed spirit of gratitude and helpfulness that each of my children are filled with, having spent a Christmas with nothing under the tree but love.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fun Fact Friday: How to store leftover onions

Don't onions make your home cooking taste delicious? I love them, but sometimes recipes call for a little less than a whole onion, or a little more. What do you do with the leftover onions?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/112095551@N02/11514804785


Well, this is a perfect opportunity for you and your kids to research the veracity of a popular internet meme. As it turns out, contrary to widely circulated internet rumors, cut onions are not dangerous to store and use later. They aren't bacterial super-magnets, and you aren't going to die if you eat them, as long as you store them properly.

According to the National Onion Association, an organization chock full of helpful onion-related knowledge, you can store cut onions in your refrigerator in a sealed container, like a bowl with a lid or a storage bag, for up to a week to 10 days. 

So go ahead and make some Tex-Mex, a batch of your favorite soup, or whatever onion masterpiece you're craving, and save the leftover onion for later in the week!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Favorite games for homeschoolers

We play a lot of games in our house. We always have. Not only are games great family fun, but they can be an excellent way for kids to learn. Once our closet was full of the all the children’s standards, like Candyland, Memory, Cooties and Twister, I found myself looking for new and better games. 

I wanted games that would be fun for the whole family, and challenging enough to keep the kids playing for a long time. I looked beyond the shelves at my local discount store, and found a whole array of games that are both fun and educational. 




After a while, I discovered that these lesser-known games are the ones my homeschoolers prefer, and the ones they still play with after years and years, while Candyland and Memory have been pushed to the back of the closet.

Here are a few of our favorite games that stand the test of time.

Friday, December 4, 2015

It's National Cookie Day - get a free cookie at the mall!

Oh, guess what! It's National Cookie Day! And I just happen to be taking my mom and the kids to the mall today to do a little bit of Christmas shopping, so we'll be stopping in at the Great American Cookies store to get free chocolate chip cookies.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/39908901@N06/11459101876


Yes, you read that right. FREE COOKIES! Get 'em while they're hot! Well, I don't know if they'll be hot, but I do know they'll be yummy. All you have to do is stop by the Great American Cookies store today, December 4, 2015, and ask for your free cookie, and you'll be celebrating National Cookie Day in style!


Update... YUM!

We got our cookies, and shared the news about National Cookie Day with a bunch of other thankful families. It made the mall madness a little more bearable. Thanks Great American Cookies!




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

THE UNPLANNER, 2016 Do-Over Edition is available now!

Okay, homeschoolers, let's hear it. Who needs a fresh start?

As I've shared before, my first year of homeschooling, my planner was a disaster. It had too many blanks to fill in, leaving me stressed out. I messed up and planned ahead - in pen - and hated how messy everything looked as I had to scribble through my best laid plans and start again. And basically, I just gave up on it by the end of October.

I would have loved to have a crisp new planner to start again, without having to look at all those messy pages. But homeschool planners can be so expensive.



That's why I decided to publish a Do-Over Edition to The Unplanner this year! You shouldn't have to wait until the fall to start over with a brand new organizer and a fresh start, and at just $6.99, The Unplanner, 2016 Do-Over Edition, it's as affordable as a stocking stuffer.

Whether you messed up your homeschool planner, discovered that the one you purchased in the fall was not a good fit, or simply started homeschooling late in the year and want an organizer that won't waste months of calendar pages, I've got you covered!

Get a copy of The Unplanner, 2016 Do-Over Edition in my store for just $6.99 today. The calendars start in January and run all the way through a full 13 months, so you'll get your money's worth whether you use them the full year or just until the fall.

You deserve a fresh start!