Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Laboring Labor Day!

Whew!  WHEW!!!  That's about all I have to say about this weekend.

My goodness, we got a lot done.  The blog has been quiet because we have just been puttering along, doing our school thing, getting into the swing of volleyball practices and games 3 times a week while we still need to get school work accomplished.  There is a lot to share...of course I always feel it is unimportant stuff but I'll share it anyway for those of you who are addicted to "Days of LaJoy Lives"! Haha!  I only wish our lives were more "read-worthy" to give you all bigger bang for your reading buck.  Oh yea, you aren't even paying a buck to read it so I guess I don't feel so bad! HAHAHAHA!!!!

Anyway, we had a small list of a couple of projects that grew to much larger proportions this weekend.  We ended up moving a couch, finding a steal of a deal on a "new" used one to replace our ripped and torn old one.  We spent hours cleaning out the garage to a manageable state.  We took apart our Leaning Tower of Entertainment Center and burned it (we live in burn country) before it collapsed on us.  We rearranged furniture in the living room once we added the couch, including moving our piano into the boys' bedroom.  We trimmed bushes, removed ALL of the dead and dying shrubs lining our driveway which was an enormous muscle job (there were about 25 or so) and hauled it to the back and burned it as well.

Here are some photos of the weekend's efforts:

Looks good here, right?

Not so good here though...

We have a high water table and it has created problems the past couple of years for our shrubs, which are experiencing a slow, agonizing death.  We decided to put them out of their misery this weekend, and plan to fill in with red gravel in where we pulled them as we can't spend money only to have plants die again.

Although I stopped to take a few pictures, I was working hard with Team LaJoy too!

It was a really big job, but all were surprised how little time it actually took when the work was spread out across seven people.

Ahhhhh...a clean and well organized garage.  
That'll last about a month.

You know that old saying "The family that plays together stays together."?  While I think there is much merit in that, and we certainly do a lot of playing together ourselves, I have come to another equally important conclusion.  I think we ought to add to that phrase that "The family that works together stays together."  There is something to sweating together, to turning up the radio while there is a major project going on and singing while working together.  We took breaks here and there, and inevitably discussed how much easier it was to do the work together rather than by ourselves.  We started out with everyone trying to dig up their own shrub.  We ended with 5 shovels all digging around the roots of a single plant, attacking it from all sides.

We also got terribly muddy as first I slipped and fell in our muddy ditch, then one by one we all got to traipse around in it as we pulled weeds.  Of course, our two lovely daughters ended up with my hand prints on their backs to encourage them to enjoy it!  The giggles were hilarious...or "HilOrious" as Angela likes to say.

At days end, so much had been accomplished, even though everyone was really, really tired.  It was a good tired.  It was interesting how this brought up conversation about the future, and how doing work for yourself rather than hiring it out can save a family budget a considerable amount each year.  We talked about how Dominick has repaired all our appliances multiple times...and how much it would cost to have a repairman out.  We talked about how much a lawn service would cost, or how much an annual call to turn our swamp cooler on would cost, or oil changes on our cars, or repairing broken laptops, etc. would be.  Olesya asked how much it would have cost to pay someone to come takeout the shrubs, and I told her I wasn't sure but it would probably be at least a couple hundred dollars, if not more.  Joshua had a calculator out and estimated that we saved a fortune over the years with painting and doing other household and car maintenance ourselves.

However, the concept really sunk in when we talked about painting the exterior of our house this next week or two and how much that would cost to pay someone to do it versus doing it ourselves.  The kids looked around the table and one of them said "Wow, if we all stay close to each other when we are older, and help each other do big jobs like that, altogether we save $10,000 or more just by helping each other!".

But perhaps the most important lesson learned became apparent later, when we offered to take the kids out for ice cream as a thank you for helping and working so hard.  Kenny piped up, "Why do you need to thank us? It's our house, too.  It's our job to take care of it."

As the kids grow older, it is so much fun to watch their competence grow.  Kenny is now using the riding lawn mower with supervision, which is a huge step for him.  Angela has already learned to do it, and Olesya is next.  Matt has been doing it a couple years.  Joshua was driving it alone today as he hauled things back and forth with the little trailer, and did a fine job.  Angela and Matthew used hedge trimmers for the first time today too!  A bigger surprise came when, after dismantling all our electronics hooked up to the TV when we took apart the entertainment center, and Dominick and I discovered Matthew had correctly hooked up all the components and set everything back up again with no help from Dominick.  The other day he was showing me how to use a function with some software that I had never used before.  He is proving to be quite a Handyman these days!!  Every once in awhile I miss the younger kids they all once were, but there is great satisfaction in watching the gradual transformation to adulthood happening right before our eyes.

Moving on to other news, my birthday just kept stretching and stretching.  Dominick's gift to me was to get my wedding ring repaired.  I was unable to wear it when I lost a little chip and the prongs were catching on everything.  It may not be much to look at in terms of size of value, but I MISSED it!!  It came back this week fully repaired and looking so shiny and polished.  I don't think it has looked that good in many, many years.  I love this ring, it is the only piece of jewelry I wear daily, and has been my constant companion since I was 17 years old and we became engaged.  It feels good to have it back on my hand.

Turns out I had an even bigger surprise coming, totally unexpected by me!!  My mom sent me a very generous birthday check, and I decided to put it away to try yet again to save for an iPad...something I have wanted for quite awhile now for a variety of reasons.  I was reading in my room near bedtime, a week ago, when Dominick and the kids all came in filled with anticipation about something.  Matthew was their spokesperson as Josh and Kenny could barely contain their giggles and the girls flopped on the bed.  He explained that they all huddled together a few minutes earlier and decided to make up the difference to help me get my longed for iPad!!!  Dominick had a little money put aside, and each of the kids kicked in $25 each to see to it that I was able to have one.  My jaw dropped.  I tried to tell them not to do that, that they needed to keep their money for themselves, but every one of them insisted, with the girls reminding me that I had tried 3 times to save for one, but always had to put my little stash toward groceries or something and they really wanted me to get it this time and not put grandma's check towards household expenses.  So, I am a proud new owner of an iPad 2 in a beautiful turquoise case!!! This baby is going to get used SO much!!  And every single time I pick it up, I can't help but think of the sacrifice others made, including my mom, so I could have something like this.  It sort of radiates with love :-)

Timing couldn't be better as we also just learned that each of the kids will be gifted with loaner iPads from an unnamed source which we will use in many ways.  Talk about excited!!  We've never owned an Apple product before Kenny's iPad, and I have been diligent in keeping my hands off his so as not to further tease myself when I couldn't have one.  I have a steep learning curve with this, but we will be figuring out a number of ways to use them for educational purposes.  Just from the ways Kenny is using his, I am 100% certain we will be finding them invaluable for many tasks.  It is interesting because many schools are now incorporating them into the classroom for learning apps and textbooks, saving a lot of money in the process despite the initial cost, and many are saying it will transform the face of education.  While I don't know at this point whether it is something we would ever invest in ourselves, I can see that there would be savings for us in terms of books purchased for reading (We buy once and share on multiple iPads rather than buying multiple copies) and apps because those too you buy once and share.  For a family of our size, the long term savings could be considerable for software, audio books, eBooks, and other items.  Kenny's has been shared generously with all the kids since he got it, with Joshie virtually dissecting a frog with an app for biology, and the girls constantly asking to look up words on Dictionary.com for their writing projects.

Kenny's iPad is loaded with tools he is gradually getting into the habit of relying on, and it is working.  He now seldom forgets has daily tasks such as brushing teeth, etc. as he uses his chore chart.  He uses speech articulation software daily with me as we work on sounds, and there are 2 programs we are using for that.  He often has it by his side as he spells things and he uses an app for phonics to help him discern sounds to determine if he has spelled a word correctly.  He is learning how to take notes on a note taking app, and we are trying to find a really good outlining app so he can break down tasks step by step, which he needs an incredible amount of help doing. For kids like Kenny, an iPad can make a difference like no other tool, and we are so so so so blessed that someone helped us get one for him.  I actually think Kenny will need to rely on something like this his entire life as a management tool for things he can't remember.  Training him to begin using it religiously now will only help as he grows older.

Well, now I think I am caught up on the events of the past week or so.  I have a couple of other posts I want to write that are less event driven, but it is waaaayyy late, my body is sore from digging and falling in mud today, and I am headed off to sleep.  Tomorrow will come quickly!


Mom to 2 Angels said...

There are so many great learning apps to use on the ipad! You will love it. We did our own version of homeschooling this summer mainly using just our ipads. The kids study their spelling lists every week that way, too. I'm sure there are a million spelling apps, but we use "Super Speller" and I record my voice saying all their spelling words for the week, then it gives them a couple games to practice them, then tests them and grades the test.

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to a bunch of ipad ideas. I hope you find great stuff!

Teresa F.

Lindsay said...

We just had a training day with a consultant on iPads. Excellent guy and very knowledgeable. If you like I can also email him and ask him for any recommendations of apps etc. if you want?

Have you tried getting any of the kids to create an ibook as a work assignment - great for so many different reasons.