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2009 January 8 » Philoxenos

Philoxenos

Learning with living books

8th January 2009

Learning with living books

Our home is filled with books. We love books. Our children play with books more than any other single toy. They read them, they stack them, they line them up on the window sills, they give them to their dolls. It was only natural then when we were choosing how we would homeschool our children that we would select a method that involved a lot of real books, rather than workbooks and textbooks. You should have seen the look on my little girl’s face when the box of books arrived last summer. It was like God sent a package from heaven just for her.

I’ve started noticing that their play is revolving around the books that we’ve read. The newest one is based on a story by Beatrix Potter called Tale of Two Bad Mice. The other day I walked into the girls’ room and they were under the covers of one of the beds, with the blankets pulled all the way up to their chins. I asked what they were doing and Precious replied “We’re pretending to be Lucinda!” I had to laugh because that’s exactly who they looked like!

Just this morning Precious asked me “What’s a muffler?” I explained that it’s either a thing on a car or else like a scarf. I asked her to tell me the context of the story, so she read it to me and we determined it was definitely a scarf, unless they were wearing a car around their necks!

All these things are using living books, real books, to teach. We don’t have to use workbooks or textbooks and mark off lessons. I have to remind myself that, a lot. We homeschool for a reason and one of them is so our kids can learn more than just what’s in the textbook lesson for that day. So it looks like we’ll be filling up the bookcases a little at a time and Handsome will be kept busy cataloging the books as they arrive!

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8th January 2009

Love/Hate relationship with budgets

**I originally wrote this post in December 2007 but I never completed it or posted it. I’m posting it now because I think it’s still relevant. I’ll make some additional comments at the end.**

We have a budget. Budgets are a good thing. Budgets are a way to keep track of how much money is being spent and in what areas of your life. Normally it means that you know in advance if you actually will have enough money to pay all your bills and maybe go to the movies too. Or at this time of the year it’s a way to know you can pay the rent and still buy that special Christmas present for someone. It’s done in advance so that you’re able to achieve financial goals rather than scrambling to make ends meet after the fact. I’m not a personal finance blogger, so go see Trent at The Simple Dollar for more information on that stuff. He’s a great writer and puts it in easy to understand terms.

Last night we had a bit of a, um, disagreement. It wasn’t a fight, really, just a disagreement. It’s Christmas. I like Christmas. I like to buy Christmas presents. Actually I like to buy presents any time. I like to buy decorations. I’m also preparing for homeschooling Precious in January and this just feeds my desire to buy books, because of course now it’s for educational reasons. I don’t want my child to be left behind because I didn’t buy the right book! :)

Lest you think that I just ran hog wild buying everything in sight, you’re wrong. We have a budget and I’m sticking to it. Besides, my husband isn’t past telling me to take something back if I had overspent. Fortunately that has never happened. Although I remember one time that I was on a business trip and spent my daily per diem a bit too frivolously and voluntarily returned an item.

But anyway.

So we were having our discussion. And during our discussion it came to light that my husband and I have two differing points of view regarding Christmas, although we share the same foundation. We both believe firmly that Christmas is not about spending money. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. And we honour this by celebrating advent with our children. We choose not to make Santa a part of our Christmas. We are always trying to help the kids understand that Christmas isn’t just about presents and that we should be giving much more than we receive. This is really the first Christmas this has been an issue since our oldest is just four.

But then we diverge. I honestly think that my husband would be perfectly happy if we never bought Christmas presents. For anybody. Not even the kids. He’s not a scrooge, honestly, he’s not. He just wants the focus to be on Christ. However, he understands that this would make me really unhappy. So we have determined that we will buy some gifts, but we won’t spend much. We had agreed a few months ago that we would spend $50 total on the three kids. We have very generous parents and aunts and uncles and we knew that the kids wouldn’t even notice if didn’t get them anything, but of course I would :) I bought them a very nice wooden easel, with chalkboard on one side. I had planned on also getting them some paints, chalk, and brushes, but then we had the budget discussion so now I’m hoping to find a homemade paint recipe online :) And I can probably scrounge up some sponges.

But other than the discussion regarding how much to spend on the kids and how much we would spend on each other (we don’t normally buy anything for each other) we didn’t make any decisions on the other spending. I knew that any gifts we bought for others would come from our gift budget, which is also supposed to fund birthdays and such throughout the year. And friends, it’s not that big of a budget, but I’m very grateful that we have one at all.

So, I was merrily buying a little gift here and a little gift there. I was not spending indiscriminately and I wasn’t buying for all and sundry. But last night we were working on our finances, making sure the envelopes were up to date (electronically - we do it all on the computer) and… hey look! The gift budget is in the red. Thus our discussion began.

This is what I gleaned from the discussion. Handsome emphatically said that Christmas is NOT going to receive it’s own line item in the budget. He is categorically opposed to that for one reason: Christmas is NOT about spending money and if we give it a line item then it becomes about money. Okay, I can understand that. But I shared that it was then important that we perhaps have sub-categories so that I know I must save a certain amount of money in the gift budget, for example. Because honestly I’ll spend half of the gift budget at Christmas time, but if I’ve already spent 75% of it by Dec 1, then I’m out of luck. Everyone’s getting a Christmas card.

And where are Christmas decorations supposed to come from? We have a household misc. budget, which is where I put things like batteries and light bulbs. And I wouldn’t be able to buy many lightbulbs with it. The point that Handsome was making to me, though, was not that he didn’t want me to buy Christmas presents or Christmas decorations, it’s just that the money has to come from somewhere and it has to be legitimate (no sneeking garland into my grocery budget, unless it’s edible!) It’s too easy to say, oh, it’s just $20. Oh, it’s just $5. And all of a sudden we’ve way overspent and we’re regretting it.

So, budgets. Gotta love ‘em because they help us be good stewards of the wonderful gifts that the Lord has provided us. But I also hate them because 1) when it comes down to it I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I don’t want anyone

**and that’s the end of the post, as I wrote it a year ago. A few updates: we did indeed end up adding a Christmas line item to our budget, specifically for things like decorations, cards, etc. It is not for gifts. That still comes out of the gift budget. Essentially our gift budget is so small that any gifts we do give are generally handmade and not expensive.

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8th January 2009

Microwaved Baked Potato

Who knew this was so easy?? A few weeks ago I was at my mom’s house in the morning, leading into lunch time, and she asked if Handsome wanted to come over for lunch since her house is only five minutes from his office. I called him and he said sure, so she started getting some food ready, leftovers from the night before. She scrubbed a baked potato, poked it with a fork, wrapped it in a paper towel and nuked it for about five minutes. Voila! So easy.

So last night I fed the kids a bit early so we could make it to church on time and Handsome and I had baked potatoes topped with delicious chili and cheese and yummy stuff. So easy!

And now for lunch I’m doing it again to use up what was left from last night. It’s yummy, hot, and definitely frugal!

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