Friday, July 17, 2015

10 Reasons Why I Want My Kids to Do Competitive Sports

Growing up, I played soccer competitively.  I loved it, and at times hated it.  I did ballet, tap, and jazz as a young child, and did gymnastics until I was about 10-12 years old.  I never got to a level of competitive gymnastics, but I loved it while I did it.

I believe that competitive sports have a number of things to teach our children.  While I want my still young children (7, 5, 4, 1) to try a variety of sports before settling on one (or two) to focus their attention on, I would really like each of them to have the experience of a competitive sport-whether that be a team one such as soccer or basketball, or a more individual one such as gymnastics or tennis.  There's simply so much to learn from it.  Here are a few of the skills and life lessons I hope my children will take from competing in sports someday:

1.  Mastery takes hard work.  You're not going to be "amazing" right away, but you can be if you keep at it.  Kids need to learn that it takes lots of hours of hard work to get better and more proficient at something.  You can't be excellent at your sport if you only practice once a week.  This is a valuable life skill.  Apply yourself to the task at hand, and work hard to get better.  While some things will come more naturally to them, others may require a bit more "umph" to get through.

2.  It's not all about you.  Competitive sports are never done alone.  You have a team.  Even in solo-type sports like swimming or gymnastics, you have a team of people that you work and learn with (and from).  Guess what, kids?  Everything does not revolve around you.  Helping others out, encouraging them, and rooting for them to be their very best is an important part of being a functioning member of society.  When our minds and hearts are not focussed solely on ourselves, we are better people all around.  I need my children to understand that life is not all about them, but it's about others, too.

3.  Sometimes people don't like you, respect them still.  Sometimes coaches or teammates won't like you.  That's life.  Not everyone will like you, and sometimes they won't even have a good reason as to why.  I remember at 10 years old having my very fist coach who didn't like me and didn't play me.  Even when I'd jump through his hoops (i.e. score two goals and I'll let you play the whole game), he would still refuse to let me play.  Unfortunately, I had this coach on and off through high school.  Only once did I ever say something disrespectful, and I immediately regretted it.  I quickly learned that even if he didn't like me, I needed to be kind and respect him.

4.  Don't give up.  Being a part of a competitive team means you're needed.  Each person is key to the success of the team, and you can't just quit.  You finish what you start.  You don't just give up mid season.  You push through the hard stuff, and keep going.  You find ways to motivate yourself, and you finish out the season.  I don't want my children to quit at the first sight of boredom or frustration or loss of interest.  They don't have to do it forever, but they need to learn to finish what they start.

5.  Things have a cost.  In everything that we do, there is a cost.  Saying "yes" to one thing means we're saying "no" to another.  Saying "yes" to soccer in high school meant saying "no" to other after school activities.  Saying "yes" to gymnastics means my girls are saying "no" to playing with other friends or neighbors on gymnastics days.  It also means saying "no" financially to other sports at the same time.  There is a cost.  Choose what you want to do in life wisely, and fill your time with things you enjoy.

6.  Physical exercise is important.  I want my children to be healthy.  This means they need to eat healthy foods, and establish healthy routines for exercise.  I credit competitive soccer for my love of exercise as an adult.  While I'm not always in the best shape, I do regularly work out.  I'm thankful that I learned at a young age that working out is important.  I want my children to learn the same thing, and to value their health.

7.  Their bodies are capable of far more than they ever imagined.  I remember the first time I ever puked after a run in high school soccer.  I was SO proud.  I didn't know I could run that fast or that long or that hard.  I never knew what my body was capable of until competitive teams.  Although Ellie is still in recreational gymnastics (and will be for a long time, I'm assuming), when she moved up levels and had her first longer practice, she came home and puked.  She worked harder than she had before.  She did more sit ups than she knew she could.  And she was proud because she had worked hard to move up to that next level.  I want them to understand what their bodies are capable of doing.  That instead of saying "I can't," they can say, "I will."  They are strong.

8.  They are stronger than their fears.  Everyone has fears.  Competing in front of people can be scary for many people.  Being chosen to take that penalty kick is scary...what if you miss?  Doing that new flip is scary...what if you fall?  Being the next batter is scary...what if you strike out?  What if you fail?  What if's are all around us.  Try it anyway.  If you miss, fall, strike out, etc., that's okay.  Try again.  And again.  And again.  Overcome your fears of failure and keep going.  My children will be stronger than their fears. They will keep going.

9.  Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.  Both are okay, and life goes on.  It's fun to be on a winning team or to place well in your individual categories.  Celebrate the wins, and be a kind winner.  But sometimes you lose or place poorly.  Even worse, sometimes your team loses every game for an entire l-o-n-g season.  Of course it sucks, but don't give up.  Don't be a poor loser, and don't be a jerk to the winner.  In fact, get over yourself and go congratulate the winner.  And for parents, as hard as it is to watch your child lose, I promise, it's a great learning experience.  Don't "rescue" them by pulling them off the team and placing them on another team mid-season.  Teach them to finish what they started, even when it's frustrating and hard.  My children will learn to be gracious winners and losers.

10.  Sports are fun.  Perhaps the best thing about sports (competitive or recreational) is that sports are FUN!  Sports are enjoyable, a great way to get exercise, a great way to grow as a person, and so much fun.  My girls tried soccer for a few seasons and had a fun time.  They weren't fabulous at the sport (but they're still so young), but they had fun, so it was worth it.  My girls have currently settled on gymnastics.  They have a blast every week.  They work hard and come home sweaty, but their teachers are so incredibly sweet and patient and fun, and their class mates are all becoming their friends, too.  They look forward to gymnastics each week, and like to have "fun" while learning the sport.

I want my children to pursue a sport at a competitive level.  I want my children to gain a love for exercise and sore muscles, see how much they're capable of doing, learn to respect others, value other people and cheer them on, become persistent people who don't give up easily, and reach and strive to meet their personal goals, even when it's hard.  The lessons from these activities will make them better and more well rounded people.  This is why I will encourage my children to compete in a sport.

What other life lessons would you add to the list?  What were the most valuable lessons you learned from the competitive sports you played as a child, or that you've seen your children learn from sports?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why We Don't Have a Homeschool "Classroom"

We've been homeschooling for two full years now.  Although it took a little while, by the end of the first year I totally loved it.  For a long time, I really struggled with where we should have our school room.  I was previously a teacher, and I imagined using one of the kids rooms as a school room.  It would be so cute, with little desks or tables with chairs, posters all over the walls, easels, cabinets with neatly organized literature, curriculums, and workbooks, endless tubs of learning activities and resources and more.  It would be SO cute.  

But then, I realized this would not fit our schooling lifestyle AT ALL.  While the cute little school room was a great idea for somebody, it is not for me.  Here's why:

1.  I don't want to spend my time in a single room.  Sitting all morning in a small (albeit cute) room sounds awful.  Bouncing back and forth from that room to make snack, lunch, play outside, get the mail, vacuum, finish the dishes, etc. seems like a large feat of musical chairs.  Plus, I have 4 kids.  They sure as heck aren't going to all want to sit in that room all morning together either.  

2.  I don't want my children to think learning happens in a single, particular space.  For me, I want my children to really understand that learning happens anywhere and everywhere.  I don't want them to associate school with a desk or a table or even a quiet room.  I want them to view everywhere as school.  My children are free to take their independent work to a comfy couch, under a shady backyard tree, while walking around, on their beds, or even at the kitchen table.  Wherever they're comfortable is fine with me.  Yes, much of our teaching still takes place at the kitchen table, as that's where my curriculum books and whiteboard are, but we often use the living room floor or the backyard table for instruction, too, not to mention the numerous beyond-our-house places we utilize for learning.  

3.  I can multitask better in the main living space.  My children do not need me right by their side for all of their school time, though they often need me within earshot.  After I give them some instruction, I can often do the breakfast dishes and clean up the entire kitchen area, all while guiding them through their work, administering a test, and answering questions as they arise.  If I had a school room, it would probably be VERY clean, but the rest of my house would be awfully messy.  

4.  I don't always homeschool all the children at the same time.  Sometimes I work with one child, and then do the next one.  I don't always have all the kids together for school.  On days when I work with one child at a time, I would be stuck in that little room all morning, and would probably end up running in and out of the room to mediate arguments and such from the other 3 kids who are running amuck.  

Frankly, as much as I want a cute Pinterest-y school room, there's simply NO WAY it would ever work for me.  

So what do I use?

I currently have one bookshelf in a hall closet for less regularly used curriculum books, and one bookshelf next to my kitchen table with our daily-use stuff.  I would honestly love to put doors on it someday to hide everything away, but it works for now.  I have a white board hanging on the wall next to it, as well as a map of the USA right now.  We do our school in the main area of our house-our kitchen/dining area, which leads to the living room on one side, and to the backyard on the other.  I can hear pretty much everything that's going on, see the kids who are in the backyard, clean the kitchen area, AND homeschool each of my children.  It works so well for us.  It's far less cute, but fits our lifestyle nicely.  

Where do you homeschool?  And why?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June Goals

This "me not blogging very often" thing is becoming quite the bad habit.  Thankfully, Pinterest continues to bring in loads of traffic even when I'm not actively blogging :)

Apparently, I have a lot going on.  Apparently, being a homeschooling mom to 4 kids can take up a lot of time.  And apparently, I'm getting better at not worrying so much about "getting it all done."

My children have spent the last couple days at grandma and grandpa's house so they could go to their VBS.  This means Ben and I have had a couple of magical days alone.  My house is so wonderfully clean, and I've caught up on a ton of my work.

Here are some of my June goals:

1.  Read my Bible everyday and journal (that journaling thing has been lacking as of late)
2.  Pick a new book and read it (I just finished The Maze Runner, which was decent)
3.  Menu plan consistently (again, I've been busy and tired and this has fallen to the wayside)
4.  Visit Lake Tahoe at least once
5.  Take the kids fishing with their cousins (this will be their first time!)
6.  Get my homeschool cabinets under control
7.  Continue to exercise 4 times/week
8.  Run a music camp (this is a full week and takes a ton of prep, too, but is so fun!)
9.  Finish at least one furniture project (I'm half way through a bunch, and they're taking up space!)
10.  Blog at least once a week (hey, it's a start)

What are some of your current goals?  Any fun plans for summer?

Friday, May 22, 2015

DIY Herb Pallet Garden

For Mother's Day/my Mother-in-Law's birthday, the three daughter in laws built her this herb pallet garden.  It was so simple and turned out so cute!  I now need to build one for myself :)

We started with a small pallet.  I then cut spare boards from other pallets, as well as some leftover 1 x 4 boards to fit the bottom of each row and screwed them in.  

We then used chalk board paint to create a writing surface, and stenciled our herb names onto each space.  Soil filled in each of the boxes, and then we planted our herbs!  We included basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, lavender, and strawberries.  You will need about 1/2-3/4 of a regular sized bag of soil to fill a small pallet like this.  

I loved how simple it was to create, and how cute it turned out!  I can't wait to find another pallet for my own herb garden at home.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week- Quick, Easy, & Simple Gift Ideas

"Thanks for making me one smart cookie!"

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!  Do you have any teachers in your life?  Although we homeschool, we have gym child care staff, gymnastics teachers, church teachers, and others that I very much love and appreciate.  

My sister in law is an amazing teacher!  And her school has been so good to her (and all the teachers) this week.  She's been texting me pictures of all these wonderful ideas to share with you!  

"Cannot erase your impact on me!"

Here's a little tip: teachers LOVE Expo markers.  

"You've been the highlight of my year!"

"How are you so flipping' awesome?!"

This spatula is accompanied by a little bag of pancake mix!

"You're simply the best!"

I hope you now have some super quick, simple, and inexpensively cute way to say "thanks" to a teacher in your life!  

Monday, May 4, 2015

Music at Home & Where to Find Instruments for Cheap

I LOVE music-don't you?  Other than school music class, I wasn't really exposed to music lessons of any sort until about 4th grade.  I took choir for a few years, learned flute in 5th grade, clarinet in 6th & 7th, keyboard in 9th so I could join the youth worship team at church, and guitar in 12th for my senior project.  I am currently a licensed Kindermusik educator running a Kindermusik music & movement program at a local music store for children ages 0-5 years.  I LOVE it so much.  

My children have been exposed to music since birth, and I'm so thankful for that.  My husband even played guitar in the hospital for our first born, Ellie.  Ellie began learning guitar from Ben around the age of 5; she was a natural and picked up chords quickly.  A few months ago, we had Ellie (7) start taking formal guitar lessons, and Zoe (5) started taking piano lessons.  Aaron (almost 4) REALLY wants to play drums someday.  For now, he uses whatever he can find to hit and make noise.  

It's so easy to implement music education at home.  Babies love banging pots and pans with a spoon. They love slamming cabinet doors over and over.  Anything around us can be used to make music, and we can let our children explore around our houses to create new sounds.  That being said-it is definitely nice to have a host of instruments to have at home for exploring.  You don't have to spend a lot of money to get your hands on a variety of instruments!

Search Craigslist for unwanted instruments.  I had wanted a piano for a long time.  We kept our eyes open on Craigslist for a free (or almost free) piano for several months before finding one.  We brought it home, painted it, and now use it daily!  I've seen drum sets go for very inexpensive as well. 

Amazon carries a lot of instruments!  I personally buy most of my baby safe instruments for my 
Kindermusik from Amazon.  The price for these 4 Hohner baby instruments is typically cheaper than anywhere else.  They sell a lot of smaller instruments for great prices.

Ebay is your friend.  Ebay is a great resource for used instruments that still have lots of life.  Most instruments can live on from person to person.  Also, if you're not sure whether you or your child is going to actually like an instrument, buying used can save you a lot of money.  

Rent an instrument.  For most band instruments, you can find local music stores that rent out instruments to students.  If you're not wanting to make the purchase of the saxophone your child is wanting to try out, you can rent it on a monthly basis for a fraction of the cost.  

When most people think of buying their child an instrument, they think of the big ones-piano, guitar, trumpet, drums, etc.  But don't forget that there are many other smaller instruments that are great for learning, too.  Rhythm sticks and egg shakers are great for learning rhythm and only cost a couple bucks each.  A recorder is a great introduction to wind instruments at a cost of less than $10.  A xylophone or glockenspiel is an excellent way to experience piano without the piano.  

It doesn't cost a lot (or anything at all) to introduce your children to music at a young age, but the benefits of music will last a lifetime!

Friday, May 1, 2015

DIY: Farmhouse Style Shelves

We recently moved some furniture around our living room/kitchen space.  We don't have a lot of storage in our small kitchen, so I thought it'd be nice to add some shelving to one of the walls and use Ball canning jars to store things like beans, popcorn, teas, etc.  I love the farmhouse style, and of course love anything DIY and homemade!

We knocked these shelves out in about 3 hours (including drying time).  We spent $36 on brackets, and around $10 for the board (I really can't remember how much it was-this is a general ballpark price).  So, not the MOST inexpensive project (due to needing sturdy brackets so things don't-you know-fall on my children walking by), but overall reasonable for 3 good sized-and good looking-shelves!

We started with a 12 foot long 2x8 board.  A 2x10 would also be a great size for these shelves.  We cut them into three equal pieces.  

For staining, I boiled some water and made a strong brew of black tea.  I wiped this all over each of the boards.  Then, I applied a coat of steel wool soaked vinegar.  This had been sitting already in my garage from another project.  To make this type of stain, you simply soak steel wool (we used the kind with the number: #0000) in a jar of white vinegar.  Be sure to let a little bit of the steel wool to touch the air (i.e. let it stick out a bit) so that it oxidizes.  Occasionally dip the wool back down into the jar, shake, pull out another portion of the steel, and repeat until you have a darkened mixture of vinegar.  24 hours is usually plenty of time.  

When you wipe this mixture on, the wood absorbs it differently in different spaces.  Also, different woods will take it differently.  It's totally out of your control, which I love!  And it darkens over the first few minutes-so if it goes on really light, let it sit and watch it darken!

We let this dry on the boards.  We did not use any kind of finish or poly because they aren't getting any sort of heavy use.  Then we just screwed our brackets into the wall and hung them up.  We originally bought brackets without the middle support bar, and it was a big mistake.  You need brackets with some sort of middle support so that it can hold the weight of the wood plus whatever you're putting on them.

I really, really, love these shelves.  And they were so incredibly easy to make!  They've freed up space in my pantry cabinet so I can see everything better, and give me an excuse to buy more Ball jars :)

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