Monday, April 14, 2014

Six months and counting!

On Friday, it marked 6 months of us closing on our house here in Grand Island. In some ways it seems like a long, long time ago. In other ways it seems like just yesterday.

Moving is always a scary thing. Our last big move was over eight years ago from Omaha to outside of Lincoln. It wasn't the end of the world. One hour from church and where I have grown up my entire life (except for during college). We just had 6 month old Jocelyn at the time, so she didn't have any "real" friends yet. It took Jocelyn and I quiet a while to make a single friend.

I started her in Kindermusik. That was fun, but hard to really get to know and talk to people when you are focusing on your child in class. A year and a half went by since our move and I still didn't have any new friends to speak of. Katelyn was born during that time and I guess you could say I was in "desperation mode". There has got to be at least one person that I would be able to connect with...that I could be friends with. We joined MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and the rest was history. That is where 90% of my local Lincoln friends were from. Not sure how I would have made it the rest of the years at our old stomping grounds without them.

Once some of my MOPS friend's kiddos moved onto public school it became harder and harder to connect since most of our running around with friends is during the day. I then started a homeschool friends meet-up group in the Spring of 2012. We made so many new homeschool friends from this group and had so much fun on our monthly field trips.

When my husband accepted the job to move here, I was a bit nervous. The kids were as well. Were we going to go another year without making friends? Everyone that I came across, did not have very good things to say about Grand Island. I didn't know how the kids would handle it and how would I handle starting all over...with now four kids in tow. I assured my girls especially that we would do our best to make friends, but it might be a while, so let's just pray about it.

Well I guess I was wrong. Before we moved, we started attending things closer to our new home. We went to homeschool Science classes and started our co-op. I also attended a few homeschool mom's meetings. I reconnected with a friend who used to be in my old MOPS group that moved to a nearby town. I could already tell that everything was going to be o.k.

The kids and I have made quiet a few new friends. It has definetly made this transistion extremely easy when you have a people that you can call. Friends that you can get together with. People to go and do things with. Sean has friends that he can hunting, shooting, and fishing with.

It doesn't matter what a town has to offer, it matters who you surround yourself with. Yes there is quiet a bit to keep the kids and I busy with 30 minutes from here, however without our new friends, the transition would have been a bit more difficult. It feels like home.

We still get many of the same questions since we moved such as:

Oh my goodness you still drive to Omaha for church? Yes, 2 hours and 15 minutes each way makes for a long drive. I agree. It is our entire day. We leave at 7AM and get home around 4pm or so. We have realized it is difficult to make the trip every weekend, but we try our best to go when we can. We never regret when we go, it just isn't going to be possible every weekend.

Do you like it here? you can probably tell from my blog post, I do really like it here. I love living close to stores. If I need to run really quick to a friends house, I can. Sean works 1 mile away, so it is easy for him to come home during lunch when he can.

There is so much to do here...lots of museums and fun indoor pools. I can not wait until the summer so we can check out the surrounding communities waterparks. There is also the Stuhr Museum and the State Fair that we are all looking forward to!



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Co-op 2014!

On Thursday was our last day of Spring Co-op! The kids and I all look forward to Thursday's because we see our friends and have so much fun learning new things. The kids are not the only one learning new things...I do too since I have to teach a class.

On Friday night we had our co-op program. The kids were able to present what they have learned this spring to everyone in attendance. My parents came out for the night and so did my hubs.

The kiddos with my mom before the program

Our kids were seperated into three different groups this semester, instead of just two last semester.

Waiting for the program to begin!

Jocelyn took a recorder class. She learned six different songs. I was surprised at how fast she caught on. She also took a states & capitals class. I was never required to learn my capitals growing of course I never did. So while we practiced at home, I learned them right along with her.

The boys, Easton and Weston, were in a preschool class. They focused on the book Ping and did several fun activities related to the book. They were also in an explorers class were they did many artsy type activities.

The boys grew grass!

Katelyn was in an American Girl class for both sessions. I taught the second hour of her class. She learned about what life would be like for a girl living as far back as 1774-World War 2. This class was so much fun! We made home made butter and ice cream. We also tried to do a craft each week.

Katelyn with the homemade butter in a jar!
We taught them how to sew by hand!
The girls with their homemade ice cream!
Kate enjoying her shortbread cookie and ice cream!

Below are videos from the program! (For those with a lot of free time on their hands.)

Can't wait for the fall session to start!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cranes, cranes...everywhere!

I have learned a lot of new things about the state of Nebraska since moving to Grand Island. One thing that is huge this time of year is the Sandhill crane migration. Honestly, I am not a bird person and probably would not have been able to identify this bird to save my life, but oh my...what a fascinating bird....and guess what? We live along the 80 mile stretch where the sandhill cranes stop on their way northward. If you drive just 5 minutes south of here you will start to see fields full of these cranes. Drive 5 minutes further to get to the Platte River and they are everywhere.

We went on a field trip with a few other local homeschool families to the Rowe Sandhills Crane sanctuary in Gibbon, Nebraska. It is about 40 minutes west of Grand Island. These people take the crane migration pretty seriously. You can even watch a live web cam 24 hours a day!

They keep track of who visits this center...and every year people from all over the world visit. They have had visitors from all 50 states this year, except for Delaware!

You can pay $25.00 per person to come at 6am or 6pm and watch thousands of cranes migrate to this very area. I guess it is a site like none other...and not recommended for kids because of the wait outside in the cold....and the need to be quiet.

Our field trip was free however and we learned so much about this crane.

Some fun facts that I didn't know was that their wing span could be as long as 6 feet!

The crane can weigh up to 30 lbs.

They sleep standing up with one foot cold water...all night long. Brrr!

They are hunted in different states...but not here.

They do not hang out in trees because their back claw can not grip a tree branch like owls.

They migrate to Texas during the winter...they stop here for 3-4 weeks. When they head up North during the summer, they only do so to lay two eggs. Both parents will incubate. If you see a group of 3-4 cranes flying is most likely a mom, dad, and their two kids. So sweet!

As many as 80,000 cranes stop over each night at this sanctuary.

If you are quiet and listen to their is an awesome thing!

So if you are ever in our neck of the woods during March and early can not miss watching a field of cranes for a few minutes!

Here are a few pictures from our field trip!

Because we were not their during the "prime time" we were only able to see live cranes up close on the side of the road. Bummer!

Weston trying to spot a crane!
The kids were feeling the water of the Platte River to see how cold the water was!
Up to 6 feet wide wingspan!
Visitors from all over the world!
Mini paper cranes!
Picture from internet-- source unknown




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ag day 2014!

We live in a state where the agriculture industry is big business. Our homeschool group was invited to attend the Ag day at a local events center so we jumped on this opportunity. The event is typically for 4th graders, however they accept homeschoolers of any age to attend.

Our kids have never lived on a farm. The only exposure they have had is when we go down to Missouri and visit family. So hopefully they learned a bit more about what our family does down south and what local farmers do.

They learned about how to care for a horse and how to rope.

We saw a demonstration on how to take a horse shoe on and off...and how to trim a horses nails.

We watched a sheep get shaved and learned why they do this.

We learned about different animals including dairy and beef cattle, pigs, goats, and sheep.

We learned about chicken eggs.

We learned about different critters!

We learned about what products contain beef. Did you know that things such as glue and deoderant...contains beef by products? Who knew?

We learned about looming!

We learned what you can do with corn...besides eat it!

Such a fun afternoon learning new things!!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Taming the Techno Beast

Last week I reviewed three of the workshops that I attended at the Nebraska Christian Home Educators Conference. Check out my previous posts if you missed them! The workshops were not just for homeschooling families and can be applied to any family with kids.

Today I am going to write about a fourth workshop that I attended called: Parenting in the Interent Age: Taming the Techno Beast. Like my other three reviews, this one was also presented by Todd Wilson from The comics in this blog post are his as well. It really hit home for me and hopefully I will be able apply some of the things in this workshop into my own life and the life of our kiddos.

1. Do not minimize technology.

Technology is all around us. Video games, tablets, computers, Television, phones etc. It is everywhere. It seems like everytime we turn around the next biggest and greatest thing is out. We as parents need to not just take all of this lightly. Our kids....and ourselves can easily spend all of our free time on one of these devices. We shouldn't minimize the impact that technology has on us.

2. Remember the goal.

It isn't about right now. It is about the future of our kids. Do we want them to graduate from highschool addicted to a device....Todd presented many real life stories about adults who are addicted to gaming. He told us about a story of a wife who left her husband because he played on a fantasy video game for 20 hours....20 hours each weekend day....40 hours over the weekend. Every weekend. Her husband chose the game over their marriage and she couldn't take it anymore. I have seen this first hand...I have a friend who complains to me all of the time that all her husband and sons do is play video games...she feels all alone. Such a sad situation...yet very common in the world we live in today.

3. Check your own life to see if the beast is reeling you in.

I is. Last week I made a point to not have my phone and ipad with us at the table while we were doing school. We do use my ipad quiet often to watch Youtube videos for Science and World studies, but for other subjects like spelling and isn't necessary. It is easy to just check facebook really quick...and then think I need to respond to something...or a not so important e-mail needs attention...then I get distracted and next thing you know the kids are off task. I have made a point to just put things down and focus on what is happening our real world here...instead of the virtual world of facebook, e-mail, texting etc. I realized no one really cares what we are doing on a daily basis...except probably my mom.

4. Do what you have to do.

Set limits if you have to. For yourself, maybe have a schedule and say I will check my e-mail, texts, facebook etc for 15 minutes at this time or 30 minutes in the afternoon. Something. Once the timer is up then you shut the device down.

For the kiddos, set limits for them as well. We don't have a video game problem in our house yet. I HATE video games. Always have, probably always will. One day we may have to figure out how to limit our kids with video games, so I have a game plan that I can set in place if that comes.

We have had ipad problems. I noticed it when we were sick for two weeks here. I was sick and then the two girls were sick. We didn't do much of anything for those two weeks. Not even school. So guess what the kids did? Watched a lot of TV shows on their Ipads. I then noticed when we were alive and well...ready to rejoin the real child...who shall remain nameless...would cry when I would ask them to put the ipad down. So we were done. We put the ipads up.

After a few days....I realized we could survive without the ipads. They weren't dying, but wanted them to be able to have a little chill time if we didn't have something else going on. I made up a new little system for them to earn ipad time. They had daily chores...pretty much just random things. They are always eager to help and chore charts have never worked with us. I would just divvy up jobs each day and everyone would go to town. Now each morning they pick 2-3 must do chores to earn 30 minutes of ipad time. Some examples include brush the cat/dog, clean cat litter, set tables, do the dishes, laundry, wash 2 sinks, clean 2 toilets, feed pets, vacuum wood floor etc. This has been WONDERFUL for us. Now "that child" who had a problem letting go has taken ownership in her must do chores and we haven't had a problem since.

5. Replace it.

Sons want to be warriors with dad. Looking at my two boys, they want nothing else than to hang out with dad or grandpa. Even if it is just driving around in dads truck to go to the store. They would be much happier than being on any type of technological device.

Daugthers just want to talk to you. With my daughters...I have totally noticed this. They are very social and want nothing more than to talk to me...with both eyes...not just one on them and other on my phone.


Self explanatory.

This was a great workshop....and as I said such an eye-opener for me. My kids don't want to watch me on my phone or ipad. They want me....focused on them.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Raising Dangerous Sons!

If you have missed my last two blog posts...go check them out.  I am working on summarizing the workshops that I attended at this years Nebraska Christian Home Educators conference.  My posts are NOT just for homeschooling families.  In fact the last one was specifically for those with is about our boys!

This workshop was from Todd Wilson...again!  (This won't be my last summary from his.)  You can check him out on Facebook and over on his blog at  He was full of stories about his life with 8 kiddos.  Such a good speaker! 

The topic of this talk was Raising Dangerous Sons!  Sounds kind of scary.  I almost didn't want to even go listen to this one based on the title.  Do I want to have a dangerous son?  Well his way of thinking I do.  He isn't talking about raising someone who will go out and cause trouble and kill here it goes the list of how to Raise Dangerous Sons!

Cartoon by Todd Wilson
1.  Teach them how to trust God dangerously.

By our own example.  Do we trust God for everything that we do....or worry about things that are not under our control? 

Get them in the Bible.  Reading it.  Studying it.  Live it. 
Nothing else matters if they don't read and know the Bible.
Don't let them wait until they are off on their own.  Most likely it will be too late.

2.  Teach them how to love dangerously.

With no strings attached.  Show how you love your spouse unconditionally.  Don't have the if he/she does this then I will love him.

3.  Teach your sons how to ask for your forgiveness.

Take problems to the end.  Don't just let things hang out there forever.  Forgive and move on.

4.  Teach them how to sacrifice dangerously.

Teach them that they might have to sacrifice their own needs for the needs of others.

5.  Teach them how to lead dangerously.

Let your boys suffer and learn...don't always come to their rescue.  For example, if they have a flat tire...don't come running.  He will feel proud of himself if you let him figure out things on his own.  Let them learn from their own mistakes.

6.  Teach them how to work dangerously.

Work...not idleness is the key.  Put your boys to the yard, family business, maintaining the car.  Something.  Have them work.

7.  Prioritize dangerously.

God, spouse, children.......self.

Make your life show that family is important.  The most important thing to a to have a dad who is a dad...and is there.

Enjoy them while they are young.  Before you know it they will be out of your house and on their own...and maybe even teaching their own boys how to live dangerously.