Wednesday, 17 September 2014

School Schmool

Remember my post about being called to homeschool?  Yah, looks like it was for a year...for now.  What I love about my loving God is that He is not stagnant; He always has a plan but it is not predictable or boring.  I am wondering if He called me to keep Munch at home for one more year for specific reasons; things like, to spend more time with my dad whose health is failing right now or to learn more in regards to character building or maybe it was to protect Munch from something. We won't know until Heaven.  That being said, it was wonderful, difficult and a growing experience for both of us.
I don't plan to go into a lot of detail on our decision but I will say that I know God is in it and is providing for us.  Not only have I had to give up the idea of homeschooling for now but I was not able to get Munch into the school we had hoped for; the one where we had built strong friendships at.  I literally registered him at this present school not knowing of one single family who would be joining us there.  For a girl who knew every kid in every year of school, that was tough. I cried a lot.  BUT...God provided.  Munch has made great friends and I have met some wonderful moms and we love his teacher and his school.  I am wondering if he wouldn't love school so much if he hadn't experience homeschooling first.  He really seems to appreciate the independence, the competition of being in a class and the change of pace from home to school.  We have witnessed some wonderful growth in Munch and are starting to see him blossom into his own person.  There is the new struggle of dealing with a culture that is quite different from our homes'...things like celebrating zombies and Halloween but those are just great conversations to be had with Munch.  (God knows the battle and has prepared us prayerfully thus far.  We know that we cannot shelter our kids, I just like to lessen the battle as much as possible.). 
So, this is where we are at right now.  I love all ways of schooling...I think there is value and need for all of them.  I think that God knows what each family, or rather, what each child needs and will lead us accordingly.  I am grateful for that, even if it can be difficult and uncomfortable.  Next year could be altogether different.  How exciting!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Buying a house? Some things to think about if you have or plan to havekids....

I know it's fun but don't scratch the floors! 
When we bought our present home we had a three year-old and a one year-old.  Maybe it was that I had not yet recovered from baby brain or maybe it was that I was tired of looking at homes, but I look back now and say, "Angela, what were you thinking?"  This was our third home but I didn't have a say in the first one because Ryan built before we were together (I came along when he was picking out light fixtures) and the second home we knew was temporary so didn't care as much.  We had tile and lighter coloured cupboards in our first home, laminate and dark cupboards in our second.  I could give you pros and cons to both.  Then with this next home  I was totally cool with custom hardwood. Now I do remember seeing the deep scratches from the previous owners Rottweiler and thought, "Okay, that takes the pressure off to keep them perfect."  However, I never imagined the stress they would put on me as a mother.  So, if this can help anyone in what to look for, use it.  There will always be good and bad in every home and every person, family or household is different but here are some things I learned from owning a home and 3 1/2 children.

1. Flooring. I understand that our parents had linoleum when we were kids because laminate did not yet exist and hardwood was more expensive but it really was the wiser choice for families with kids. Yes, there was always the risk of putting a dent or chip in the linoleum but really it was pretty durable and could stand a little water.  I find as much as hardwood is nice to look at when it is clean, and that just doesn't happen often, it is horrible with kids and water. If you do get hard wood, try to find a brand that holds up to water well...if that exists.  Also, find a hardwood that has a variety of color to hide the dirt that is inevitable. Yesterday, I had 7 pairs of little feet running in and out after first running through chalky sidewalks and the floor was a mess! When we had tile, I complained it was cold but I think that that is what I would go with again.  It takes water and dropped toys and pots well.

2. Dark cupboards....who came up with that? I am glad it's on its way out, however we are not planning a renovation anytime soon.  It may be the stain or finish on the cupboards but they just don't seem to come clean.  They hold grease and dust and anything that we have prepared in the kitchen that day.  They are so nice when it's just the two of you and there is time to wipe up a splash but when there are kids running around, that yogurt may just stay a long time.  I have a friend who bought white cupboards from IKEA and says they are great for cleaning.  So, ask about how the cupboards clean, maybe even bring a tube of mustard and give it a try.  

3. Stainless steel appliances.  Aughh! When we buy a house we often buy thinking about the resale (my forward-thinking husband).  For that reason, unless the whole world wises up, we will have to put up with stinkin stainless steel because people seem to want it. They look all shiny and fabulous when they come out of the box, but most everyone would agree that they are the bain of one's existence soon after. Finger prints is one thing but what I find is sucky with kids is the scratches.  There are stainless steel appliances that are not those! In our second home, a thoughtful family member bought our one year-old a Leap Frog fridge toy.  She stuck it on the fridge for him, along with all the parts of the farm animals and Munch played for the longest time as happy as can be.  A day later....we saw them....the deep scratches that would forever scar our shiny stainless steel fridge forever.  I went on the Internet to find a secret to magically take the gouges away but it was what it was. You might want to ask yourself, is it worth it, really?

4. A deck with no stairs.  By this time, you may think I hate my home or that I am superficial to be griping about my first-world problems.  I want to stress that I love our home, am grateful for it and recognize we are beyond blessed.  My point for these tips comes later.  I also want to use what I have learned to help other moms and dads choose wisely for their home and so I continue.  
Walk-outs are nice but I think most families would agree that a deck off of the kitchen is wonderful for both the kids and parents.  Your kids are more comfortable with going outside to play knowing that mom is close and you are less stressed knowing you can access them and SEE them if something goes wrong.  In all honesty, it is isn't easy or comfortable for "most" kids to run down the stairs to the basement to get out to the backyard.  In our circumstance, we had people living in the basement so it was not even a possibility.  I was frustrated that the boys had to go out the front and around to the back.  I would sit at the back window and wait for their little faces to appear and if not, would need to go out to see what side-tracked them along the way.  Luckily now, our older kids play in the front with the kids in the neighborhood on a street that is on the quieter side.  It is still stressful with the littles though.  

5. How many Cupboards. If you can help it, pick a house with a lot of cupboards.  I tired to tell myself I had too much stuff anyway and that if need be, I could buy a hutch. Yah, no....I lack cupboard space and I would consider myself a minimalist in the kitchen (with the exception of our one too many coffee making appliances that take up all of our counter space.). 

With all of this in mind,  I would simply ask you to consider what is more important: 
Is it worth going with the trends and risk being frustrated with your kids, your pets or your husband for just living?  Can you handle the sudsy water collecting under your child's chair as they joyfully help you wash dishes or are you going to ban them from the sinks because they may ruin your precious floors? Are you going to be able to maintain the look that these items first had when you resell or will it all need to be replaced anyway because they were well-worn.  Where do you want to spend the bulk of your time? What will allow your kids just to be kids and you to love that about them?  
Can this fancy stuff wait?  Will it be out of date soon anyway? 
Don't let the charm and beauty of a new home put you in a stupid trance that will have you marching around like a crazy lady screeching and wagging your finger at everyone in your family.  Be realistic, be practical or save up for one heck of a house cleaner!

If you have other great tips for new home buyers, please share.  These are just a few things I learned.  If we can help just one new mom from losing her mind, it will all be worth it. 

Have a great week!