Educational Games Sale from SimplyFun – Today & Tomorrow only!

SimplyFun Educational Games Annual Sale - Give gifts that teach!

 

I am a firm believer that gifts should be well-thought out.  Junky plastic toys and mindless entertainment don’t rank high on my list of “must-buy” items for Christmas and birthdays.  For one thing, I don’t need the clutter in my house, and for another, I want my children to actually be learning something from the gifts they receive.

That’s why the annual sale at SimplyFun is an event I like to promote!

SimplyFun is a company that offers high quality, educationally-minded games.  Your children have fun AND learn!

Here are some of the games included in the sale… (click here for more info on the games!)

SimplyFun Annual Holiday Sale - High Quality Educational Games!

Consider the subjects your child struggles with in school.  What might a game do to help them grasp the concept?  Think about playing that game alongside your child!  Think about the entire family joining in and reinforcing learning while having a blast together!

Don’t waste money on junk this year!  And don’t waste time and miss this sale!  It runs TODAY and TOMORROW ONLY!

CLICK HERE TO START SHOPPING!

Large Family Bedrooms – Ideas to make the best use of the space you have

Arranging Large Family Bedrooms | RaisingArrows.netSince having children, we have lived in 9 different houses.  Each time we move, we have to consider which children will go in which bedrooms and how those bedrooms will be configured to best accommodate everyone in there.

Today, I want to share with you some of the ways we have configured bedrooms, as well as ways other people have done it.  I’d also love to have you chime in with your ideas and suggestions to help out other readers!

(this post contains affiliate links)

When we had our first child, we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment.  He had his own room.  We had our next child in a 3 bedroom house.  They each had their own bedroom.  We moved again and had another child.  This time it was a 2 bedroom, causing us to actually have to think about where children would sleep.

The master bedroom in that house was very small, so there could be no baby in the room with us.  In the 2nd bedroom, we had a bunk bed for the two older children (boy and girl) and a crib for the new baby (girl).  I had originally used a partition like the one below to separate the two “sides” of the room…a rather fruitless attempt at trying to have a “nursery” atmosphere.

The reason I say “fruitless” is because the partition just took up room…precious room.


The next move was to another 3 bedroom.  We had 2 more children while living there.  During the nearly 3 years we lived there, we had many different configurations:

Configuration #1:
Bedroom A – bunks for boy and girl
Bedroom B – baby in crib

Configuration #2:
Bedroom A – bunks for 2 girls
Bedroom B – twin for boy, crib for baby

Configuration #3:
Bedroom A – bunks for 2 girls
Bedroom B – bunks for boys
Master Bedroom – crib or bassinet for baby

The first set of bunks we owned were shorter than normal and wooden.  The second set was metal.  I’m not fond of metal bunks, so when we moved from there, we gave them away.


The next house had 4 bedrooms, but we only used the 3 upstairs.  While living there, we lost our daughter, Emily, and had 2 more little boys.

We started with a boy room and a girl room.  When Emily got sick, we moved her into our room in a “moses basket” on the floor next to my side of the bed.

After Emily passed away and our next little one was born, I kept him in our bedroom until he was about 4 months.  He then moved into the boy room that had a twin bed, a mattress under the bed that we pulled out for the 3 year old, and a crib.  The girls’ room continued to be the wooden bunks.

For a short time after our 7th child was born (and before we moved again), we put the toddler in a toddler bed in the girls’ room and bought another toddler bed for the 4 year old, making the configuration in the boys’ room – toddler bed, twin bed, crib.  Looking back, it would have made better sense to continue with the mattress under the twin.  It would have saved a lot of space.  We eventually got rid of that second toddler bed.


The next house was also a 4 bedroom that we only used 3 of.  We only lived there a year and did not have any new babies while there.

Configuration:
Bedroom A – girls in bunks
Bedroom B – Twin and 2 toddler beds
Master – crib for baby

When the baby got to the place where he was waking up every time Ty or I rolled over in bed, we moved him to the walk-in closet in a playpen.


The next house we again only used 3 bedrooms and had another baby while there.  We had two different configurations while living there:

Configuration #1:
Bedroom A – girls in bunks
Bedroom B – queen bed for my oldest, bunks for the next 2 boys, and a toddler bed
Master – baby in playpen

Configuration #2:
Bedroom A – girls in bunks, baby in playpen at the foot of bunks
Bedroom B – same set up as #1


In our current house, we use 4 of the 6 bedrooms.  They are configured this way:

Bedroom A – girls in bunks
Bedroom B – King bed for my oldest (this room also doubles as a guest room) and twin for the next boy down
Bedroom C – bunk for 5 and 4 year old boys and toddler bed for 1 year old


The next house will be a 3 bedroom.  I am planning to configure it this way:

Bedroom A – girls in bunks, toddler bed for 1 year old
Bedroom B – XL twin for my oldest, bunk for 8 and 5 year olds, mattress underneath that can be pulled out for the 4 year old
Master – baby in playpen


Some other options I have seen…

Triple bunks

Mattresses lined up side by side to create more bed space for several kiddos

Pillow chaise beds – these are especially compact and work great for lots of littles!


I do want to mention a few other things before turning this post over to my readers to give their ideas…

#1:  Walk in closets as “bedrooms”

Most closets do NOT have vents in them, so you do not want to close off the closet.

You will need to be certain EVERYTHING is out of baby’s reach.  You don’t want clothing or racks falling down on baby!

#2:  Not using a crib for baby

This is a bit of a paradigm shift for many parents.  Our culture has gotten so used to huge cribs with fancy bedding that it is hard to give up that “nursery dream.”  However, when you don’t have the room for such sizable pieces of furniture, you look for other ways to give your baby a proper bed.

Our favorite newborn sleeping accommodation is the Snugabunny from Fisher-Price:

It folds up for traveling, it keeps baby snuggled, and I can put it anywhere in any room easily.  From there, we use a playpen.  Don’t overdo the bedding and blankets.  We prefer Carter’s quilted playpen sheets because the quilting makes them very comfy for baby without being bulky.  You can get them in velour for the winter and cotton for the summer.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is where to keep clothes in large family bedrooms, but I’ll address that in another post so this post doesn’t get any longer than it already is!

Now, it’s your turn!  What are some creative ways you’ve configured bedrooms to make them work for your family?  Looking for more Large Family Living ideas and tips?  Check out my Large Family Pinterest board and the Large Family Living page here on Raising Arrows!

Leaving the Big House on the Prairie

Last week, I mentioned there were some major changes going on around here.  Not sure if any of you guessed what those might be, but now that we have told all the people who needed to be told first, I can tell all of you…

We are moving.

Leaving the Big House on the Prairie | RaisingArrows.net

We are leaving that big house on the prairie because Ty took a promotion that has us moving VERY soon.  It will be a professional move, so I won’t have as much work to do as some of our other moves.  (See my series on Large Family Moving for some of my favorite tips and tricks for moving!)  We are hoping to be somewhat settled before Thanksgiving so that we can truly enjoy the holidays.

We’ve made a lot of friends here, so telling people was very difficult, especially considering the very small window of time in which we were leaving.  We have been in the area nearly 4 years (even though we have moved several times within the area), making this one of the most emotionally difficult moves we have had to make.

There are some really great things about the area we are moving to.  The homeschool laws are fantastic.  Our house is surrounded by beautiful big trees.  The neighborhood is hilly and serene.  The home is owned by a homeschool family (and was owned by another homeschool family before that).  We have friends nearby, and much of our family will still be close enough to visit.

My friend, Candi, said, “You move more than you have babies!”  She’s right.  This is move #13 in 18 years.  Some were due to college and some were due to rentals being sold.  Some were job changes and some were job promotions.  We never take moving lightly.  It’s not something we just up and do one day on a whim.  From the outside looking in, I’m sure it seems a little crazy, but we have seen so many things line up that we are confident this is where God wants us right now…just as the big house on the prairie and the 11 houses before it were where God wanted us then.

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas {a 12 week series}

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - 12 weeks to get your heart and home focused on Christ | hosted by RaisingArrows.net with SheriGraham.comKnowing Jesus should bring a peace to our lives that surpasses all else.  Celebrating His birth should be a beautiful time of sharing the Light of the world with others.

Yet, as the holidays approach many people fall apart, Christians included.  We get wrapped up in all the busyness of the season and forget to let Christ’s peace reign in our lives.  We worry about holiday meals, presents, relatives, and keeping sane through it all.

This year, I could easily get “too busy” and lose my peace and focus in the process.  Our family has some traveling to do, some decisions to make, and I’m due with baby #9 just days before Christmas.

Back in 2008, I purchased The 12-Week Holiday Planner. {affiliate link}  Our daughter, Emily, had passed away earlier that year, and I was due with baby #6 on Christmas Day.  Having that planner was such a blessing to our entire family.  Now it has become a tradition at the beginning of every October to get out the green binder that holds my 12-Week Holiday Planner and purposefully plan so I can stay focused on WHY we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, rather than muddying up the season with stress.

This year, I would like to invite you to join me in preparing for Christmas with the peace of Christ at the forefront of your planning as we journey through The 12-Week Holiday Planner together!

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - a 12 week series from RaisingArrows.net and SheriGraham.com

Sheri Graham, co-author of The 12-Week Holiday Planner, will have her Holiday Combo Set on sale today through Oct 10, 2014.  When you use coupon code:

HOLIDAYPEACE

you will receive the entire set for $12.95.  This set includes The 12-Week Holiday Planner, a Holiday Open House guide, Homemade Gift Mixes ebook, a Christmas journal, and a Thanksgiving Planner!  (This coupon code is exclusive to Raising Arrows, so be sure to send your friends and family to this post to get their own set!)

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - 12 weeks to get your heart and home focused | hosted by RaisingArrows.net along with SheriGraham.comThe 12 week series will begin on October 5 and will be hosted here on Raising Arrows, with Sheri Graham as the guest writer.  Sheri is a homeschool mom who loves to blog about homeschooling, homemaking, healthy eating, home business, and more. Her desire is to provide encouragement to the Christian family, touching on matters that are close to her heart. Sheri sells a variety of ebooks on homeschooling and homemaking, as well as publishing books in print and Kindle formats.

Let’s start preparing!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR HOLIDAY PLANNER
and join us on October 5th!

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - Our Experience and How Our Club is Set Up | RaisingArrows.net

If you follow my Facebook page you’ve probably heard me mention Keepers of the Faith.  My girls have been a part of a local group since we moved to the area a few years ago, and we have all really enjoyed the fellowship and projects.

I had a reader ask me to talk more about Keepers, so I thought I’d write a post and explain how our group works and how you can form a group or find a group to participate in.  Please, keep in mind, my experience is unique because all Keepers groups are unique due to their autonomous nature.  Also, keep in mind this post is specifically pertaining to the girls club and not the boys; however, much of the same information applies to the boys club.

How Our Keepers of the Faith Club is Organized

Leadership -
Our group does not have a “leader” per se.  One person always emerges as the organized one, but all the moms in the group have input, as do the girls.

Planning -
The moms get together a couple of times a year to discuss the next 6 months of projects. Typically, we have previously discussed with our girls some of the projects they are interested in doing as a group so we can bring those to the table.  We choose the project, who will lead it, and where the meeting will be held.

The moms have a private Facebook group to send out messages, share photos, and remind people of meeting dates and anything they might need to bring.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

Meetings -
We meet once a month in one of our homes or at a local church.  We open with prayer, the club Bible verse (we have chosen to learn it in another version), and the mission of Keepers of the Faith.

Usually, we have a Character Lesson that fits well with the skill we are learning.  When we worked on American Sign Language, we had a Character Lesson on Attentiveness.  At Christmas time we worked on Charity.  Keepers of the Faith have their own booklets for each Character Lesson, but we don’t always use theirs.  There are a lot of resources online that can be used for free.  Typically, the mom leading the project also leads the Character Lesson.

After that, we start the monthly project.  Each project has a certain set of skills the girls are to learn.  Sometimes all of the skills can be learned in a meeting, and sometimes the girls have to go home and finish up.

For instance, a few months ago, we did Plastic Canvas.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

The mom in charge taught all the stitches, but to finish the project, each girl had to finish 2 different plastic canvas projects.  We only had time for 1 that day, so it was up to us to finish at home.

I will talk more about this in the next section, but I also want to mention here that because Keepers of the Faith is parent-led and autonomous, each family has the choice of what equates completing a project.  I could have chosen to make that one project the fulfillment of the requirement to complete the Plastic Canvas badge, but I knew my girls were capable of doing more, and my 9 year really enjoyed it!  (In fact, she received MORE plastic canvas and project books as a birthday present!)

Meetings last about 2 hours.  The girls ages range from 6 to 14.

How We Handle Multiple Ages -
We are a small group, so we haven’t seen much of a need to separate the girls out by age.  Yes, we have different skill levels, but we really haven’t had much trouble coming up with activities that are suited to all age levels.  The girls are welcome to work on other badges at home, so we try to keep the monthly meetings to projects that are good for everyone.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

Some of the moms have chosen to award their younger girls with the silver badges and then work through the book when they are older and receive a second badge in gold.  This means the younger girls can work at their level and still be rewarded for their effort without needing to complete the entire project at the same level as the older girls.

Awards -
We have chosen to buy the actual pin badges and put them on the sash.  There are sites that have patches that coincide with the different KOF projects, but I wanted the ease of pins, so that’s what we went with.

You don’t have to award with badges, but I’ve found the girls are highly motivated by the badges and the Awards Ceremony we have a couple of times a year.

Our Awards Ceremony is not a huge to-do either.  We just can’t seem to coordinate a night that allows for a major celebration, so we will often do it at the same time as our monthly meeting and have snacks afterward.  We only do an Awards Ceremony when all the moms feel it is time.  Each mother is responsible for tracking and purchasing badges to hand out at the Awards Ceremony.

Cost -
Our club itself has no dues.  If an individual project requires an investment in supplies by the hosting mother, then she lets everyone know the cost for that project (usually via the Facebook group), and we come prepared to pay that amount per child participating.  I don’t think it has ever been over $3.

You will need a handbook for each girl.  There are also Companion Notebooks, but we have chosen not to purchase these.

The badges also cost, but you only purchase those on occasion, and you can choose to cut costs by going through a 3rd party that sells the project patches at a cheaper rate.  You will probably want to purchase or make a sash to put the badges on.

You can buy a Keepers t-shirt, but it isn’t necessary at all.  We do not require our girls to dress alike at meetings.

There are Leadership Materials you can purchase if you would like to start up your own club.  These are good to have if you’ve never been a part of a Keepers Club and need some help figuring out how to get it off the ground.

You might also want to check out the Club Locator to see if there is a KOF club near you, but keep in mind, not all clubs register, so there might be one near you that isn’t on the map.  Ask around!

Can’t find one?  Start your own!

How to Start Your Own Keepers of the Faith Club

At Home, On Your Own -
Buy the handbook for each of your girls, and work through them on your own.  This would be a great addition to your homeschool!

Find Others to Join You -
Look to your local homeschool group or your church to find other moms and girls interested in joining you in a more club-like atmosphere.  Purchase the Complete Starter Kit, set a meeting with the moms, and start planning!

Remember, this is YOUR club!  You can make it as structured or unstructured as you like.  Our group has done very well with a more low-key approach, but your group may need something different.  You may get large enough to split off into age groups, or you may want to meet more than once a month, or you may want to have a more structured meeting that is planned out more than 6 months in advance.  Any or all of these are totally appropriate!

Have more questions?  Feel free to ask me (I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability), check the FAQ at Keepers of the Faith, or contact Keepers directly for more help and information.