A Simple Way to Bless Others

Our family recently went sandhill plum picking.   This yearly summer ritual has become much more than a family outing.  It has become a way for us to bless others. A Simple Way to Bless Others | RaisingArrows.netAll year long, we take jelly to friends and family.  We are able to bless them from the bounty of our home.  Our jelly becomes a housewarming gift, a Christmas gift, a thanks for having us over gift.  We are sharing something dear to us…a piece of ourselves, if you will.

In this short video (which includes a super cute Aspen!), I share ways you can bless others from the bounty of your home.  Make this the little personal touch you bring into the lives of others.  I can guarantee you will be blessed as much as you bless others!

ps – if you watch the video, listen for a little surprise I have for you…”Raising Adventure!”

Art Supplies and Ideas for Small Spaces and Large Families

Children are natural artists. They will sketch and color on just about anything if left to their own devices. They don’t typically need encouragement to be artists (unless somewhere along the line they got the notion in their heads that they were NOT good at drawing – this is usually from an outside influence, and will take a lot of coaxing to correct – BUT, that is a totally different post 😉 ).

Obviously, we need to set boundaries for a child’s artistry (so they don’t draw on the walls!), but we most definitely should allow for creativity in our school day.  Having art supplies at the ready is a must for any homeschool!

I have a unique situation in that I have a lot of kiddos of varying ages needing art supplies and a small space in which to store them – the art supplies, that is. 😉  Here are some of my favorite art supplies and ideas for small spaces and large families.

How to manage art with varying ages and abilities | RaisingArrows.net


This post is sponsored by:Large Family Art Ideas | RaisingArrows.net

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Large Family Art Supplies

Keeping art supplies on hand for the large family can be a full time job!  I just discovered yesterday, my stock of glue sticks was frighteningly low, and I JUST bought a stash of them from our local store!

Years ago, I found a wonderful place to buy massive quantities of high quality supplies.  In fact, I only had one child in school when I discovered Discount School Supply.  When my son was 5, I placed a big order, and some of those supplies JUST ran out last year!  That’s 12 years of stock!  And I can honestly say the products were just as good 12 years later as they were when I first purchased them.  (just typing all that brings me back to those early years of homeschooling…*sniff*…time goes so quickly)

So, let me give you a few suggestions from the Discount School Supply website that are large family friendly – you can click the pictures to see more information about them.

Large Family Art Supplies | RaisingArrows.net

Large Family Art Supplies | RaisingArrows.net

Large Family Art Supplies | RaisingArrows.net

Large Family Art Supplies | RaisingArrows.net

Pretty much anything you need art-wise can be purchased there for a great price!

Storage and Organization of Art Supplies

In our home, art supplies are kept in a few different areas.  My recommendation for separating out art supplies would be based on RULES OF USAGE.  In our house, there are 3 different Rules of Usage –
1.  Anyone can use any time.
2.  Only some can use any time.
3.  Supervised use only.

Anyone can use any time – Under our bookshelves, we have supplies I am okay with the children using on a daily basis without needing to ask.

Large Family Art Supplies | RaisingArrows.net I love using the plastic containers you find at the store for around a $1 to fill with supplies.  I have a larger open one for pencils, erasers, and sharpeners (to allow for easy access), and several smaller closed ones for crayons, colored pencils, and markers (to allow for ease of transport).

I used to keep individual boxes for each child when I only had 4 children using supplies.  I bought each child their “color” and wrote each of their names on the lid.  However, now that there are 7 children using supplies, I haven’t found this method to be the best choice.  Instead, I have 4 crayon boxes, 1 colored pencil box, and 1 marker box that are able to be used communally.  The markers (even though they are shown in this photo) are not allowed in this area.  My daughter accidentally put them there when she was cleaning up.

Notebooks make up the main paper supply for this area because they are tidy.  The children are allowed to use loose paper from time to time, but that falls into the next category…

Only some can use any time – The markers, loose paper, scissors, glue, and the more expensive art supplies belong in this group.  I have these items on top of the bookshelf in the dining room in totes.  My oldest daughter also has her own stash of expensive pencils, colored pencils, and charcoals in a locked box in her room.  These were either gifts or purchases she made on her own, so they are “hers” and do not belong to the community at large.

Supervised use only – The supervision-only items are on the top shelf of my closet in a bag I can easily pull down.  These items include seasonal art supplies (like those needed for Truth in the Tinsel) and the blacklight I use for the See the Light chalk art projects we do during the holidays.  I keep pipe cleaners and coffee filters, beads, and glitter in this bag, along with anything else that I would not want to be used without my permission.  I also keep paints and the bulk items I mentioned above on this shelf.

How to Incorporate Art into Your Homeschool

I believe art belongs in nearly every aspect of your homeschool  From your nature studies to history to math and beyond, I believe sketching and adding color to your work is a great way to truly enjoy studying as long as your child doesn’t get wrapped up in the artistic side to the detriment of their studies.  Don’t be afraid to let your child doodle while you teach or color their workbook after their lessons are finished.  I always allow notebooks and pencils during Tapestry of Grace time, and I do not get wrapped around the axle over doodles in their math books.

I also think it is important to teach some formal art to give your child the tools to create something beautiful with a certain amount of mastery.  I recommend using an art program that incorporates many ages and stages and does not require a ton of extra supplies.  We use Art Class from See the Light Art.  You can read my full review HERE.  It spans the ages well with short lessons, solid instructions, and doable art projects that are beautiful!

Large Family Art | RaisingArrows.net

Right now, you can get Art Class (and anything you else you order at the same time) 10% off + FREE SHIPPING in the U.S.  Coupon Code: VIRTUAL

Large Family Art Ideas | RaisingArrows.net

Saving Art Projects

Every parent I know wonders how they are going to keep all the lovely art their child creates.  Nearly every day, one of my children creates something that is super cool and something I would love to keep, but with a large family, these amazing works of art quickly become clutter.  That’s why I LOVE the Keepy App.  I can have as many children on the app as I want and all I have to do is snap a photo, add a few words about the project, and I am free to throw away the original.  Yes, I do keep some REALLY phenomenal works of art, but those are few and far between and go into a file in the filing cabinet.

Unique Ways to Acquire Art Supplies

The last thing I want to address is how you can gather art supplies.  The only word of caution I have here is that in the acquiring of supplies, be sure they don’t become clutter and chaos.

Make art supplies a gift – My 4 year old got a big stash of art supplies for his birthday.  Most of these became community supplies because at his age, sharing is fun, but you can allow each child a small tote that is just their own.  Ask for art supplies as gifts or give them yourself – they are consumable and always welcome!

Recycle – Boxes, packing paper, jars, yarn, ribbon, sticks, and so much more can easily become art mediums.  The rule in our house is that you get to play with recycled items for a one day and then they must go to the trash (unless the thing created is well-constructed and will last a long time without becoming a big mess – example: the dollhouse my daughter made from a cardboard box).

Garage Sales – One of the best garage sale finds I made when my two oldest kids were little was a huge bag of notepads!  You will often find these types of things grouped together and selling for little to nothing.  You might also find some more specialized supplies, but be certain you NEED them before you buy, and be certain the quality is worth the cost.  Low quality crayons and other supplies just aren’t worth it no matter how cheap.

Deconstructed Items – Search the term “UPCYCLE ART SUPPLIES” on Pinterest and you will find a treasure trove of ideas!  Take a gander at the ideas there and start to see ordinary items in a new light.

No matter how you do art in your home, let it be free-flowing and fun!  This isn’t a time to be strict and structured, and criticism needs to take a hike.  In fact, I would even encourage mama to sit down and create alongside her children.  Color, cut and paste, and enjoy the time with your children!  You want art to be something your child has fond memories of!

How We Teach Homeschool Economics

Even if the state we live in didn’t require us to teach economics, we would.  It is THAT important.  I’m not teaching it the way the public school would, but rather from a Christian worldview – one that is responsible, charitable, and stewardship-minded.

Even if our state didn't require us to teach Economics in our homeschool, we would.  It is imperative we get these principles into our children's heads - here's how we do it (plus a time sensitive 25% off coupon!) | RaisingArrows.net

It is imperative we give our kids a solid CHRISTIAN foundation in economics.    This doesn’t just affect our cash flow and stance on debt, it affects how and when we give of our time and resources, policies we support, and how we view governmental systems and agencies.  This is important stuff!

Because most of us are not stock brokers or Economics professors, we will probably need a little help.  So, let me give you a run down of how we teach Economics.

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How We Teach Homeschool Economics | RaisingArrows.net

1.  Start with Economics for Everybody.  (There is an old audio-only version of this series.  It is not as engaging and informative as the series produced by Compass Classroom.  Please, do not mistake the two.)

Let me explain WHY we start here.  This is the foundational piece.  We need to give our kids a solid foundation in how economics really works from a Christian worldview.  Economics for Everybody does that.

The series features R.C. Sproul, Jr.’s teaching complimented by video illustrations that help connect the concepts for you and your child.  (YES, I highly recommend you watch these WITH your child – you WILL learn something!)

To give you an idea of how this works, take a look at this trailer for the series:

**Get the first 3 lessons in this course for FREE!**

The reason this kind of teaching works so well is because it brings in both auditory learning AND visual learning together.  Children (and adults!) learn best if they experience concepts in more than way.  Using the Economics for Everybody series will give your child the best chance at actually learning and retaining the information.

In fact, ALL of my children sat and watched the class!  That is how engaging and well-done this course is.  However, for those of you wondering about age recommendations for this course, it is geared toward middle school, high school, and adults.  And yes, you can have you middle schooler take this class and count it toward their high school credit – ahhhh, the freedom of homeschooling!

There are a two ways you can use this course:

1.  Full Economics Credit –  If you want your child to get a FULL credit in Economics – no fuss, nothing extra to buy – you can do that by purchasing the Homeschool Set.Teaching Homeschool Economics | RaisingArrows.net
The Homeschool Set includes 2 DVDs, the Study Guide, and the Basic Economics textbook by Dr. Clarence Carson and Dr. Paul A. Cleveland.  (You can download the entire Scope & Sequence for the course under RESOURCES on the main Economics page.)

~or~

2.  Half Credit in Economics – this is what we chose to do.  The reason for this had nothing to do with not liking the textbook (in fact, I’ve never even seen the text), but because I already had some other resources I wanted to share with my kids…more on that in a moment.

If you are doing the half-credit, you will need to purchase either the DVD set or the Downloads (which you can also stream – WAHOO!)

After you have given your kids a solid foundation in Christian Economics, you can move on to…

2.  Bring in resources that compliment the fundamental concepts your student has already learned.  We are big fans of Whatever Happened to Penny Candy.

This book on its own is not enough to teach economics, but it is a good book, and I think everyone should read it.  I read it to my kids several years ago, and they still remember many of the concepts.  Now that my oldest has finished the Economics for Everybody course, I’m going to set everyone down and reread this book aloud.

I am sure there are other great resources out there that could be used to compliment, but this is the one we had on hand, and we really enjoy it.

3.  Stretch their knowledge and application.  This is where it gets fun!  Pull out newspapers, watch the news, discuss giving to the poor and giving to the Church.  Economics for Everybody gave you the concepts, now flesh them out!  Listen in on financial radio shows and talk over the advice being given.  Have your teens consider their own guidelines for saving, giving, and exhibiting fiscal responsibility.  Everyone in your family will be challenged!

 

Teens and Money – Transitioning from Childhood to Adulthood Finances

Several years ago, I wrote a post about how we handle money with our children.  I spelled out our philosophy on allowances, paying for chores, and what jobs our children could do for extra pay.  At the time, our oldest was 13, and while the principles have stayed the same, the practice has change a bit now that he is advancing quickly toward adulthood.  I thought it might be a good time to offer a new perspective on money as it concerns the teenagers in our home.

(You can read that original post HERE.)

Learn how to make the transition from childhood finances to adulthood with your teen | RaisingArrows.net

Teens and Allowances

I mentioned in my Children and Chores post that we do not pay for chores and we do not give our children an allowance.  This continues into their teens.  The principle behind this is the fact that in adulthood, there are responsibilities a person has toward the upkeep and running of a household that is not a paid job.  Our goal is to teach our children to take care of those responsibilities without needing to be paid or praised for them.  It is simply something that is expected.  Our society no longer places value on a job well done for the sake of doing a job well done.  Too many people expect accolades for their effort, and too many people feel a responsibility that lacks excitement and financial gain isn’t worth their time.  I do not want my children to follow this tide.

I also want to add that I do understand the reasoning behind giving teens an allowance in order to teach money management; however, I do not believe unearned money is the best way to do this.  When the money is simply handed to you, you have no real connection to that money, so the concept of money management doesn’t have the impact it has when it is money earned by the teen.  But, how do they earn money if not by allowance?

Teens and Income Within the Family

Way teens can earn money, as well as money management tips as they move into adulthood | RaisingArrows.net

As I mentioned in the previous post on this topic, we pay for jobs that are “above and beyond” the expected.  For instance, we do not pay for babysitting when one of us needs to run to the store, but we will pay for babysitting if we need to be gone for several hours.  This is something we would have to pay someone else to do if it weren’t done by our teenagers.  Same goes for detailing the vehicle or major handyman jobs.

We also allow grandparents to pay a fair wage when the children go to help with a big project.  We encourage our children to serve their extended family, but we also know that the grandparents would rather pay our children than have to hire the work done outside the family.

Because this money is earned, it is more useful for teaching money management.  More on that in a moment…

Teens & Jobs Outside the Home

Many teenagers like to get jobs outside the home to have some spending money of their own.  There area two sides to this coin that need to be considered carefully before diving headlong into an outside job.

On one side, a job teaches responsibility to someone other than a parent, as well as teaching time management.  Both of these are very valuable lessons.

On the flip side, is the fact that an outside job (unless it is very flexible) has the tendency to separate the family and create a lot of scheduling chaos.  In the last city we lived in, our son had a very flexible job as a trapper at a sporting clays lodge.  This allowed us to take family vacations, work around his schooling, and not be beholden to his job.  Since the move, we have encouraged him to wait on taking a job, and not take just any job.  While we do not want to teach him that certain jobs are “beneath him” or that it is better to do nothing than take a job that isn’t “perfect”, we also know he has the rest of his life to work, and only another year or so to be fully a part of all family activities.  Because of this, we have been praying for another flexible job that would give him some outside money while allowing him to participate in family activities.  (He already has something in the works, but I don’t want to jump the gun telling you about it until we see how it pans out. 😉 )

Another thing we encourage when it comes to working an outside job, is looking for a job that will teach or further a skill.  While flipping hamburgers is definitely a job that will make your teen some spending cash, it is not always a job that will teach him or her a needed skill or hone a skill they already possess.  A good example of this is the sporting clays job.  While Blake has no desire to spend his life throwing skeet, he would like to own his own business some day.  The lodge he worked at was owned by a family who were more than willing to teach him the ins and outs of owning a business.  He was also exposed to all the people with varying careers who came to shoot.  In between stands, he was able to chit chat with them, exchange business cards (we highly recommend your teen considers having business cards made up for networking purposes), and learn more about their vocation and businesses.  He always came home from work with great information and stories.

Teens & Money Management

How you choose to teach money management is a matter of personal preference.  My son decided to use the 80-10-10 method (80% spending, 10% savings, 10% tithe) for his finances, but more often than not, he ends up putting even more into savings.

When I was a teen, I used mason jars to separate out my money.  I had 4 jars:

  • 1 – Savings
  • 2 – Miscellaneous Spending
  • 3 – Tithe
  • 4 – Specific Savings (This is how I saved up money to have my pickup windows tinted.)

You can use the envelope method.  You can actually open checking and savings accounts in your teen’s name.  You can even do some investing if you so choose.

Speaking of investing – if your son or daughter has a talent or skill that has the potential to be an income generator, consider investing in their “business” the way you would invest in a college fund.  For instance, our daughter is a budding photographer.  She’s good at what she does and she’s serious about it.  Because of this, we’ve chosen to help purchase photography supplies and lenses, and helped her start up a more professional website.  (We usually offer half the money she needs for something.)

We also invest in our children by sometimes “paying” them in other ways.  For instance, our daughter chose several years ago to sponsor a Compassion Child.  The photography work she does on this blog and for our family pays for that sponsorship.  Likewise, we have compensated our son for major jobs by paying his way to an event he’s really wanting to participate in that would be money out of his pocket otherwise (like TeenPact National Convention or pheasant hunting in South Dakota).

Compensate your teens for major jobs by paying their way to events and outings they are interested in, but would have to pay out of pocket for. | RaisingArrows.net

Items we regularly require our teenagers to pay include, but are not limited to, the following:

Travel expenses to events they want to go to – this teaches them not to take transportation and food for granted, and not to order the steak when the hamburger will do.

Extra tools and clothing for their job –  A pair of gloves, a pair of jeans, a pair of boots – these are things we are willing to fund fully, or at least half, but extra items that are wants and not needs are paid for by our teen.  For instance, when he worked at the shooting lodge, he decided he’d like to have a pick stick to pick up shotgun shells several at a time.  He found the one he wanted and purchased it with his own money.

This would also be our policy if our children played sports.  We will pay for the basics, they are in charge of anything extra – including an upgrade on shoes from the very basic of models.

“Toys” & Entertainment – Even big kids have toys, and those toys (unless they are gifts for birthdays or Christmas) are not funded by mom and dad.  My son airsofts.  Your child may like video games or sports or certain collectibles.  As adults, we are expected to fund our own entertainment.  The sooner a teenager learns that, the better off they will be.  They won’t grow to expect others to carry the responsibility of paying for their unnecessary items.

This brings me to the final point of this post.  Our teens are expected to be responsible with their money and their time.  As they age, they are given more and more privileges, leeway, and choices.  About 6 months ago, we gave our son nearly total control of his finances.  This past week, we gave him nearly total control of his schedule.  He is a man.  He’s proven this time and again, so it was time for us to let go.  As long as he lives under our roof, we have some control over his finances and time, but that control is nominal.  We are here to lend advice and ideas as needed, but we are transitioning away from planning every aspect of his life and into a new season where he plans his present and prepares for his future.

How do you handle money with your children – especially your teens?  Have you found the transition to be difficult?  What are your goals when it comes to teaching your children money management?  Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section!

Easy Homeschool Lunch – Kitchen Sink Soup

Some of you are going to laugh.  Some of you are going to wonder if I’ve lost my mind.  Kitchen Sink Soup?  That does not sound delicious…

Kitchen Sink Soup - because it includes everything BUT the kitchen sink! This is a grab and go lunch - video included!  (and yes, I should have named it something else, but this is what we call it - weird as it is!) | RaisingArrows.net

I seriously thought I ought to call this soup something else.  Something more…um…appealing?  But, for some reason this is what we started calling this pull-everything-out-of-the-refrigerator-and-stick-it-in-a-pot concoction, and well, if I were to name it anything else, I wouldn’t be true to the weirdness that is our family.  (Please tell me you have weird names for stuff too!)

The whole idea for Kitchen Sink Soup came about as a result of my needing to revamp homeschool lunches into something SUPER EASY.  Next week, I plan to share the full plan with you, but suffice it to say it has been a lifesaver!

So, what is Kitchen Sink Soup?  It’s everything but the kitchen sink!

Come on in to my kitchen and see what I mean…
(not seeing the video?  Click HERE!)

Kitchen Sink Soup is basically a soup made from your leftovers with a few add-ins to make it extra yummy!  Have a little leftover hamburger?  Throw it in there!  Have a few leftover veggies?  Throw them in there!  Have a can of beans or black olives?  Throw those in there too!  Add some broth or milk, some spices and cheese and you have a nutritious homeschool lunch that can simmer on the stove while you teach your little ones.

We have Kitchen Sink Soup a couple times a week to finish off any leftovers we’ve become tired of eating on.  I get quite a sense of satisfaction knowing I’m not throwing out leftovers, but reinventing them into something different and yummy!

In the video above, you’ll see how I make the soup, plus a short list of some add-in ideas.  You’ll also see me without makeup and my hair pulled up in my usual “mom-has-work-to-do hairdo.”  Try throwing together your own Kitchen Sink Soup – actually, why don’t you call it something else so no one will look at you funny the way they do when I tell them what we had for lunch – then, come back here and tell me what you put in it, as I’d love to have some new ideas for my soup!

***Read more about my easy lunch plan!***

Garlic Oil for Earaches {How this little remedy saved us hundreds!}

On Monday, I told you how I was dealing with the setback of major illness during postpartum recovery.  As I was treating my aching ears with garlic oil this past weekend, my husband said, “You need to tell your readers about how we started using garlic oil for earaches!”  So, despite the pain, I took photos with his iPhone so all of you could read the story with visual aids.  Consider yourselves special!

Using garlic oil for earaches has saved us hundreds of dollars - here's the story and the resources to buy or make your own! | RaisingArrows

Disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor, but you already knew that.  I’m not against modern medicine, but you already knew that too.  Use caution and seek the medical attention your family needs.  Yeah, I know…you already knew that too.

When my oldest child was about 4, he started having lots and lots of ear infections.  Antibiotics wouldn’t even come close to healing them (I later learned antibiotics only work on ear infections a fraction of the time and about 70% of ear infections resolve on their own).  Our family doctor finally told us he thought our son needed ear tubes.

I was not happy.

Ear tubes are not a true “fix” for ear infections.  They drain what’s there, but they do not stop ear infections from happening again.  I was sure there had to be another way to handle this.  So, I started researching…and we got a second opinion.

We went to see our “old-school” pediatrician who suggested we try a round of decongestants instead of immediately jumping to ear tubes.  While I do think this helped, it was what I learned from an online forum for moms that really made the difference and has continued to be our go-to remedy to this day.

In my research, I found that a lot of naturally-minded moms used garlic oil in ears for everything from earaches to full-blown ear infections.  The natural antibiotic powers of garlic coupled with a carrier oil seemed to work wonders.  So, in my little kitchen, I hesitantly whipped up a batch of garlic oil on my stove top.  I say hesitantly because while I wanted to be a “granola mom”, I was scared of not taking the traditional route of antibiotics and such.  I was afraid I’d ruin his ears.  I was afraid his dad would completely freak out when he saw me putting oil in our son’s ears.  But, I was desperate to help my little guy.  His constant ear aches spurred me on as I stirred my garlic and olive oil.

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Garlic Oil for earaches - you can make your own! | RaisingArrows.net

Homemade Garlic Oil Recipe

1 clove of garlic, minced, or equivalent of fresh minced garlic in a jar
1 Tbsp of carrier oil (we use olive oil)

Bring to a boil in a small saucepan.  Stir well and remove from heat.  Continue to stir and let cool.  Fill a glass eye dropper with just the oil from the pan, and with head tilted (and a tissue to catch any drips), squeeze 3-4 drops into one ear.  Keep head tilted for 15 minutes, and repeat on the other ear if it is aching as well.

The next morning, my son was pain free.  At his next appointment, the ear infection was no where in sight!  So, every time he started to hurt, we immediately whipped up some garlic oil and nipped it in the bud.  Eventually, I started buying garlic oil.  (Below is the one I used to purchase.)

I stopped buying garlic oil because Blake outgrew all the ear aches and I found we weren’t using it very often anymore, so it made more sense to just make it when we needed it.  (You do have to make sure you keep garlic on hand.)

When my ears started hurting with this latest sickness, I remembered we had minced garlic in a jar (this is NOT the dried kind, but rather the kind you keep in the refrigerator – and yes, actual garlic bulbs are more potent, so I’d recommend those if you have them).  And that’s where this post started…me making garlic oil, taking photos for you!

Perhaps you are wondering how my ear ache turned out?

Prior to putting the garlic oil in my ears (because I totally forgot we had garlic and I suffered through a couple of days with nothing), my ears hurt almost non-stop and was contributing to me not sleeping well.  The garlic oil offered immediate relief.  I had to put it in my ears every night for 3 nights, but my ears no longer hurt during the day and the pain the next two nights was not nearly as intense as it had been.

Another great thing about this remedy is the fact that it is breastfeeding-mama friendly.  Being able to treat my symptoms with something I knew was 100% safe eased my mind.

So, there you have it…no ear tubes, no antibiotics, no trips to the doctor – just a little olive oil and some garlic!