Back-to-School Supply Shopping Tips {Thoughtful Thursday}

I am often annoyed that Hobby Lobby has fall decor out before 4th of July or that Christmas decor is everywhere in stores before Halloween BUT I might be in the minority when I get gitty when school supplies show up in stores. Eeeek The smell of sharpened pencils, clean new binders, shelves upon shelves of crayola colorfulness!


I have been preparing my school supply list for the 2-16/17 school year already. Part of my prep included scouring the internet for the best prices on the items on my list. Here's a quick overview of what I've found that might save you some time and money::

  1. Staples price matches 110% of any {even online} sale price. This is #1 because I feel like it could cut down on shopping time by going to a single store. They will not only match a price but give you 10% off on top of that. example: Staples glue $2, Walmart glue $1, Staples glue now $0.90
  2. 7 ways to save with Staples, stack them all!
  3. Walmart's app has a "Savings Catcher".  This means you scan receipt on the app and if competitor advertises lower price, they'll give you the difference.
  4. Target cartwheel app has tons of great coupon deals AND Target Red Car saves you 5% every time you use it and it connects to your checking account, acting just like a debit card. No more forgetting to pay that store credit card you have just for the discounts.
  5. Walmart vs Target cheat sheet to get the best prices {if you don't have a staples to match their prices 110%}.
  6. Tax Free Weekend! Arkansas' will be Aug 6th through Aug 7th. HERE is the list of qualifying items for Arkansas.
  7. Homeschoolers can register your "school" with Office Depot for their 5% cash back. You can have anyone you know use your school name to put their 5% cash back towards. If you don't have a school you use yet, ROTHACHER ACADEMY of Vilonia Arkansas would love your support. 😉
  8. Homeschool moms can register with Staples for teacher discounts.
  9. Christian Books website has a $1 sale right going on right now through Aug 18th. It includes some books that would be great for homeschool.
  10. Deals from several store that you need to grab up This Week!
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Why I Make My Kids ASK Me For Things

You know that thing where your kids mingle with other kids making you acutely aware of a random parenting strategy you're sold-out to and didn't even know it before the particular encounter!? Yeah, that. All the time. x10 with foster friends coming and going.

Why I Make My Kids ASK Me For Things

One that came to my attention recently was the fact that, early on, I make my kids ask for things politely. Like not just "please" added to the end of a statement but an officially-in-the-form-of-a-question ask me. We have met several children that will come to me with random statements and walk away totally confused at why they didn't get what they wanted. This particular strategy started because I didn't want my kids barking orders at me and/or assuming I could read their minds in order to fix their stated issues.

Example 1:

"I'm hungry." OR This or thirst are the Most common I hear. Am I the only one frustrated by this? Holy cow, just tell me what you want already. I've learned most of the time, they make this statement because they know the answer already- "It's not meal time yet", "____ is what's for snack", "Your water bottle is right there." Be best is when I say, "Can you ask me politly" and they say, "...I'm thirsty....please?" False.

Example 2:

"I'm bored." To which I usually respond, "Only boring people get bored...are you boring?" This usually solves it but occasionally they'll come up with something they'd like me to do in order for them to 'fix' their boredom.


Then it progressed to not wanted to play ref all day. I needed them to be able manage some of this on their own. I wanted them to understand norms {not "fair"} in our world and be able to deal.

Example 3: 

"They won't give me [insert random toy]." My job as a parent is not to police the usage of your toys. No I will not set a timer. No, I'm not going to make him 'be done' with it just because you walked in and wanted it. Thanks to Daniel Tiger, I can often sing my response, "FIND A WAY TO PLAY...TOGETHER!" 😉

Example 4:

"MO-om! ___ called me [insert childish name-calling]" Ugg, I failed AS I'm writing this with a response like "Tell ____ to change their attitude and words or they'll be going to timeout". Boo I'm wishing I'd said, "Are we supposed to talk to each other that way? [no] How would you like me to help with that?" To which they would ideally say, "Can you talk to ____ about how they're talking to me mean?"

Example 5:

"She won't do her part of the job." THIS one is the most rare but the hardest to not get involved in based on the statement presented. It never fails that in a 'group chore' someone doesn't pull their weight or there are too many bosses with ideas of their own. Once a request for my assistance is made, I try to talk to both sides reminding them that "sometimes people don't do their share and the job still has to get done" and "laziness is not an option in our family," "find a way to work together."


How I've began to eliminating these problem statements from my children's vocabulary: [insert awesome 90s Spice Girls' music] "Tell me what you want, what you really really want." Kidding, kinda not kidding.

"Please think about what how you would like me to help you solve that problem. When you have decided, ask me for something, to do something, to help you somehow."

After most of my acute-parental-awareness moments, I start thinking if it really matters. Does this parenting strategy not only make my life easier in some way but does it actually benefit my children long-term. I believe making kids ask me for things benefits them in the following ways.

Thinking Skills

Making my children stop and THINK rather than just "stating their problem" to me makes them learn to stop, think, and then act. This is a key skill in life that so many individuals don't have or need to build. If more people would stop and think about something BEFORE acting/saying, the world would have a lot less issues.

Identify Needs

When kids stop to think they are forced to identify their own needs. Most of the time, they've already stated what they perceive as their problem but in that moment of pause, they can then ID what they need/want in the situation. If they pause long enough, they could even decide if what they are complaining about is based on a Need or a Want.

Problem Solving Skills

When my kids stop, think, and then act, they will learn to problem solve on their own. In life, their will not be [nor should there be] a 'mamma' on speed dial or worse, standing next to them to help problem solve. My kids need to be able to identify their needs, and come up with a solution on their own.

Social Skills

Understanding how to present a well-thought-out problem, with everyone's needs in consideration, to someone my kids see as a resource for help requires a lot of social skills. Without being able to navigate society properly, our kids will either be constantly under our wing or failing about drowning.


Learning to work through the above skills on their own will train my kids to be healthy independent people. I'm not talking about little kids who just happen to care for themselves out of neglect or kids who roam alone because they're considered 'old enough'. I mean, I will feel confident in my kids ability to navigate tough stuff on their own if they can do these things.


Manors are the icing on the cake! Although many individuals can function in society without them, I believe it will not only benefit my kids, socially advancing them, but manors are also another way to show love/respect to others; putting others before ourselves.


Don't get me wrong, it takes a lot of reiteration. I'm better at reminding them for the simple things but I often find myself in the middle of their kid drama before I realize it. For some kids, it will take much longer and more detailed explanations the first few times. For most of my kids I can simply say, "can you make that a question" or "how would you like my help with that?"

Do you think there are benefits to making your kids "ask" for things or am off in left field here?

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Foster Family Organization: Our Kitchen

Being ready for new fosters for me means having the essentials ready. Some things we can keep stocked are kitchen items.

Foster Family Organization  Our Kitchen

We store all our dishes in lower cabinets to make it easier for our kids to do the dishes chore. we also make sure we have plenty of plastic plates and silverware for up to 6 kids. Although, some of them have disappeared...probably eaten by the trashcan. I would LOVE to have enough for 6 kids and 3 meals but we're not there yet.

I love the the Ikea kids' plastic tableware! 1. It's awesome bright colors. 2. Microwave and dishwasher safe. 3. There are 6 different colors! Why do the colors matter? I may or may not color code my children...and I have 4-6 kids at any given time.Foster Family Organization dishesFoster Family Organization silverware

I also found cheap water bottles in the Target dollar spot {they didn't have them this year but I found the same ones at the Dollar General for ~$.50 more}. My kids get milk for breakfast and watered down juice for lunch and dinner so water bottles are a must for any other time during the day. We have like 6 extras right now because water bottles are one of the things we send with our fosters when they get to leave.

extra water bottles

I only let my kids have one cup a day. If they can't find it then they don't get a drink until they find it OR they get their water bottle. The next thing we started when we had 6 kids, most of whom were bigger, was "cup spots". My kids knew they were supposed to put their cups on the counter next to the fridge but if they weren't using "their color" that day, they could't remember which one was theirs. Soooo, I put scrapbook sticker letters on the counter. You can't see them from far away but they're easy for the kids to see up close.

Foster Family Organization daily cup storage

Foster Family Organization letters on the counter for daily cups

I'm hoping to find more and more things that can help us function with more ease and be ready for what foster care may bring us.


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Foster Family Organization: Keeping Our Home Ready and Running

I'm a planner for when you couldn't tell. So when we started fostering it was very difficult to keep myself calm when you just never knew how to prepare for the children coming into your home. There are a few things that I've learned that helped us me cope by keep some order and being ready for any age that may come.


It may seem odd but if you know or are a foster family, you understand that each family is unique in what they can handle and who they family will be able to care for. For us, at this time, we are only taking males under Jamin's age. That helps me tons in way of preparation but still leaves a vast area from infant to mature preschoolers. I want to share some things we've learned that can still be pre-planed to keep your sanity in such a transitional life-style. 

Foster Family Organization sanity-saving things to preplan in such a transitional life-style {a peek inside a foster family's home}

Some of the things I've already shared about so you can click the images below to read more about those.

The Great-Wall Transformation

Having a simple way to keep shoes, hats, bags, and coats makes life less cluttered. This mudroom system right in our living room is so easy my 2-year-old knows exactly who's what goes where.

Living OUTSIDE You Home with toys #missionalliving

Having a fun "parking lot" set up for my kids riding toys allows for fast and easy clean up after outside playing.

DIY Dry Erase Monthly Menu

Having our dry erase menu and our "boarding" month planned out takes one more thing off my plate.

master bed boy room girls' room guest room

Having bedrooms set up with some wiggle room allows us to not have to over think when a new call for a placement comes in, no matter how late at night it is. Our room is ready to receive an infant. The guest room is ready to receive an infant through a child. Jamin and Ellie share a room currently but we have a bed ready for her if a child needs to share with Jamin and a trundle ready if it needs to be moved into the guest room.

guest closet diapers and bedding guest closet hanging bar guest closet clothing storage

Our guest closet is socked but at the same time trying to make it still feel like a child's own closet rather than a guest closet. We have diapers of almost every size, blankets, baby toys and gear, air mattress and bedding {for guest not fosters}, and a few pieces of clothing for every size from 0-3 months to size 6.

lazy susan centerpiece tray
medicine cupsmedicine log

My biological kids are all on daily allergy medicine and foster kids often come in with their own set of medications. The only kicker is you can't leave medications out to help you remember to give them because they would then be accessible for littles. Depending on the age of the child, I leave the vitamins out on the custom lazy Susan but otherwise everything goes in the locked cabinet and I leave medication cups out to help me remember. Fosters have to have all medicines recorded so we place a clipboard with the medicine log out in the open with a pen hanging on it so we can quickly record everything.

counter cleanup

Babies come with all kinds of things like bottle, formula, burp clothes, and diaper that need to be readily available. Therefore leaving your house in survival mode. That doesn't mean it has to be unattractive. I decided to wrap a formula can in cute scrapbook paper so leaving it on the counter next to the drying bottles wouldn't be a total eyesoar.

I hope this glimpse into our home was fun, helpful, or just interesting. I know I like snooping in other's homes with great detail and thinking through things with them about why they do certain things. Any questions?

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Spring Break Plans 2016

This week is spring break for a lot of families. Even though we homeschool, we try to do most holidays and breaks that the local school does since that's who we want to minister to ans well as do-life with.

as Jules is Spring Breaking

We'd fallen a bit behind compared to where I wanted to be in our school work so last week I bribed my big girls and trudged through a lot of work to get caught up, allowing us to take this week off from school paper work. Now we can focus on what I'd rather be doing: playing with friends OUTSIDE, enjoying our last days with our #spidie before he possibly heads to provisional care, spring cleaning purging, recovering after a traumatic baby injury, and doing a special unit about EASTER! That's just the stuff we plan to do at home, not including the valley stuff like working on interior construction, cleaning, partying at the building with friends, cleaning out storage units, preping for our Easter service, and normal weekly responsibilities.

El's ER visit

maybe someday I'll be able to talk about this...but not now

If I write all this down, maybe several things will happen, I'll have a better picture of what I want to accomplish and maybe I'll actually do the things on the list! #accountability

I was planning to publish a post last week about minimizing toys in your home BUT then I realized that toys had taken over again. They were everywhere. Requiring way too much of our time during our day to clean up. Having fosters who have been overly *blessed* with stuff as well as 3 birthdays and Christmas in resent months, I had not been diligent about keeping them out of the house.

Playroom Purge

new playroom shelves last year vs this year

The purge plan includes sorting items into #spidies toys to go with him, toys to be donated to the valley, toys to sell at Duck Duck Goose, and then a few toys to keep. The toys that are being kept will be open-ended toys that require imagination, are manipulative for school, and or are educational all by themselves.  

community easter egg hunt

Our Easter plans include the resurrection garden we made Friday night, helping prep for and attending the community Easter egg hunt, the holy week calendar that I'm already behind on, sinning rocks that we usually don't do until good Friday, and teachable Easter baskets that I'm doing similar this year but rather than 4-5 baskets, I'm doing one large "family basket". My hubs and I already had a date night and purchased all the things for it but they're currently in the trunk of our car in the baby pool because...where do you hide that? hehe

We also already have the stuff we plan to use to make our spring baskets for our neighbors. Now we just have to figure out how to get those items out to make the baskets for them without my kids seeing the other stuff. 

I like planning to just stay home. Its nice to be able to plan flexible trips with my family while others are in school. PLUS, lots of our neighbor friends don't have big plans either so we can play lots more with them. What are your plans for spring break?! 

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