When We Let Kids Do Things {with FREE printable!!}

When we let our kids do things ~ Our Cozy Den

Do your kids ever say, “That’s not fair! ______ gets to ______!” Then you respond with the typical parent response, “You’ll get to when you’re his age!”

But is that really true? Honestly?

I don’t know about you, but I have about ten million thoughts in my head at any given time. The last thing I can remember is how old little Johnny was when he lost his first tooth, or got to stay up until 8 p.m., or get his first cell phone.

So what did I do to keep track of it all? I bet you can guess. I made a chart.

When we let our kids do things ~ Our Cozy Den

Now, I recognize that life isn’t fair. One kid doesn’t necessarily get to do things at the exact age as another kid. It depends on the environment, your location, the maturity of the child, and many other factors! But it does certainly help me, as a mom, from having to keep all of that information inside my head! And for some things, it helps my kids to know that there is an official age when some milestones occur. Then they don’t whine about it!

Here’s a blank copy of the chart, if you want to edit and use for your own family! It’s a Microsoft Word doc, so you should be able to save it and make changes on your own.

May you be filled with peace {and not too much bickering}!

“I Don’t Think I Could Homeschool.”

I Wish I Could Homeschool... Our Cozy Den

Since the day I started homeschooling my kids — 5 years ago now — I was getting comments from other parents. Some of them were positive, like “You’re doing such a great thing for your family!” Others were negative, such as “You’re ruining your kids by homeschooling them.” But I was surprised how many were wistful parents, expressing how much they’d LIKE to homeschool, many even expressing that they feel God is calling them to homeschool, but they feel they can’t.

These are the parents I’m talking to today.

I’m going to address several reasons people think they can’t homeschool, and why that is, in fact, not true.

“I’m not patient enough.”

Let me tell you something. Patience is not something that I was born with. It is something that has been grown in me over time, and developed over patience-demanding situations. It’s a commonly-held belief that 10,000 hours of practice in any field will make you an expert. If that’s true, then I’m well on my way to being a perfectly patient parent. Without this “practice” during our homeschool days, I would not be as patient a mom as I am, because I would not have been honed in that way. Believe me, it’s one of those skills that God develops in you on-the-job, not beforehand!

“I don’t have enough time.”

Homeschooling, in my opinion, actually gives us the blessing of time. Since we are not tied to a school system’s schedule, we are free to do whatever we want with the hours God has given us. So, if you want, you can sleep until 10. Or do school at night. Or school on the road.

Most homeschoolers I know spend an average of 2-3 hours (for elementary) and 3-4 hours (for middle/high school) on school work. I don’t know about you, but that sound like less time than a kid in regular school would spend: a) getting dressed; b) gathering supplies; c) driving/walking/riding the bus to school; d) driving/walking/riding the bus home; e) sorting through the multitude of things they brought home; f) and doing homework. And none of this even includes the time they are actually at school.

Our days look more like this: Sleep in, family breakfast, do a little schoolwork, go do something fun together, a little more schoolwork, rest/read/play, do some chores, eat dinner together, play some games, and family reading time before bed. It’s a TON more low-key and flexible than it would be if the kids were in school all day.

“I don’t have enough money.”

You guys know I’m ALL about saving money. I’ve done the math many times, and I’ve come to the conclusion that homeschooling is actually CHEAPER than sending my kids to public school. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of places to get curriculum for free. And there are a dozen more ways that the family saves money by homeschooling. I have an entire blog post about the subject here.

“I don’t know enough.”

Here’s a little secret… the answers are in the back of the book.  Seriously, though. “Real” teachers don’t know 100% of the knowledge they teach our kids. They need a refresher on this stuff just like we parents do. The answers are in the book, and if you need further help on a particular subject, the internet is a vast and exhaustive resource.

Also, when you don’t know the answer, this teaches your kids a few valuable lessons: 1) how to seek the answers when they need to know something, and 2) the humility of admitting you don’t know, instead of playing it off like you know everything. And learning things together is a fun bonding experience!

“I’m worried about socialization.”

This one is just a ridiculous societal myth about homeschoolers. It’s true, there are some homeschoolers that live out in the boonies and never see people. But probably 99% of us are very involved in our communities. We go to so many activities, that many homeschoolers are guilty of OVER-socialization. In my family, we are involved in swim lessons, homeschool PE, summer camp, open gym, church, kid’s club, library programs, and multiple programs within our local homeschool group. Studies actually show that homeschooled students do a BETTER job of relating to others than kids who go to public school, because they have so much experience talking to people of all ages in many situations. Children from public schools spend all day in a classroom with children their own age, so they are trained to relate to people with the same age and life experience as them. No place in the “real world” is like this. In a real-world work setting, people will be working with a wide range of ages, from fresh-out-of-college to the brink of retirement. Homeschooling better prepares them for this environment of varied ages.

“My spouse won’t let me.”

This is the only reason that I think is a valid one. The Bible tells us to submit to our husbands, and I believe this means that the husband has final word over decisions like this. But I also believe that a good husband will listen to your words and opinions and take them into consideration. So this is how you should/could approach the idea of homeschooling, if your husband is less-than-keen on the idea. Gather information – books from the library, blog posts, articles – that show the many benefits of homeschooling. Present all of the information to your husband, along with how/why you personally feel God calls you to do this, and any reasons specific to your family. Don’t be pushy or over-explain, just give him the information and ask him to read it over. Then pray. Ask God to change his heart. Occasionally mention that you feel God is calling you to homeschool your children, so he knows that it still matters to you, but don’t nag him about it. In time, if it is God’s will, he will come around.

Those are the biggest and most common reasons I’ve heard from people who wanted to homeschool, but feel like they can’t. What do you think? Did I miss any?

Indian Creek Petting Zoo

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

Recently we took a little trip over the border into Michigan to visit Indian Creek Petting Zoo. It’s located in Lambertville, Michigan, just outside of Toledo, Ohio. My dad had scored a good deal on a Groupon ($25 for our tickets instead of $40), so he gifted us some tickets for our admission.

We’ve been learning about animals this year in science class, so it was the perfect time to visit. We went on a drizzly Friday morning, so it was not crowded at all. Here are some of the animals we got to see (and touch!) during our visit:

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

Petting baby goats!

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

The peacocks were really cool!

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

Alligators creep me out — but the kids liked them!

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

It took Connor some warming up before he would touch any of them. Finally the sheep won him over.

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

Lia is definitely my little animal whisperer: she loved interacting with all of them!

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

More goats!

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

What’s this called again? A za-donk? Zonkey? It’s half zebra half donkey.

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

Sophie liked the llamas. And of course she kept chanting, “Llama llama no more drama… llama llama mad at mama…” and other lines from the books.

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

The bunny pen was another favorite!

Indian Creek Petting Zoo ~ Northwest Ohio Day Trips  from Our Cozy Den

Petting bunnies!

Overall, we had a really nice time there! Like I said before, we didn’t pay for our tickets (we did buy a cup of food to feed the animals). I’m not sure I would pay the full admission price. I can imagine that it costs a lot to run a place of that magnitude, so I understand the need to charge that much, but $45 would have been a lot for our family to spend on 90 minutes of entertainment.

Here is my overall take on the place:

  • It is kind of expensive, unless you go with a coupon or other deal.
  • It was really nice to have hands-on interaction with some of the animals. We got to feed and pet goats, sheep, llamas, & bunnies, and we got to see many other animals as well.
  • The selection of animals was rather small, compared to a regular zoo, but that also made it easier to see them all and spend time with them.
  • It was only sort of stroller friendly. The paths are not paved, so it made for bumpy riding, but it wasn’t so bad that it was impassable.

You can check out current ticket prices & hours on their website HERE and check out Groupon for current deals HERE. (*the deal posted today is not the same deal our family got, it costs more but includes more stuff*)

Check out our other Northwest Ohio Day Trips ~ and follow me on Pinterest for more homeschooling, travel, & recipes!

Tip Tuesday: Keeping Track of Kids’ Allowances

Tip Tuesday ~ Our Cozy Den

Tip Tuesday at Our Cozy Den -- Keeping Track of Kids' Allowances!

It’s SO much easier to manage than trying to hand out cash to all the kids, and trusting younger ones not to lose it! And since I have it with me at the store, there is no more whining: I can simply say, “Sophie, you have $4.13. That’s how much you have today to spend.” The kids know that is the bottom line! 

My Dirty Little Secret

My Dirty Little Secret ~ Our Cozy Den

Ever since I started blogging, I was getting comments from readers. Most of them sounded something like this:

How do you do it all? 

How do you keep up with everything? 

I don’t have enough hours in the day to do all that. 

Well guess what? Neither do I.

I can’t do it all, and I don’t do it all most of the time. I just do my best to do as much as I can. 

And I have photographic evidence to prove it.

Let me introduce you to what we call “The Back Room”. It’s a common topic of conversation around here.

Husband: Where do you want me to put this? Me: The back room.

Kids: Where does this go? Me: Put it in the back room.

Husband: Do you know where my _____ is? Me: I think it’s in the back room.

And this is what it looks like after about a month of neglect:

"The Back Room" ~ Our Cozy Den

I think there’s a floor under there somewhere…

This room encompasses many things for us. We don’t have a garage, so it holds many of our outdoor things and tools. It serves as our pantry. It’s our laundry room and laundry sorting area. It houses our seasonal organizer, 5 recycling bins, and tons of miscellaneous storage as well. It’s also the entrance to the basement, so it tends to be a catch-all for things that need to go down there.

But my whole point here is that I’m not perfect! My house isn’t organized all the time. It’s messy. I have 4 kids, life is messy. So when you look at blogs like mine, packed full of money saving tips and organizational tips and stuff about homeschooling and field trips and traveling and life — keep in mind that nobody does everything all the time. We are all just striving to be a little bit better each day, baby steps toward a slightly cleaner house and a slightly easier routine.

Yes, I have my kids do most of the housework. But sometimes I forget to tell them to do chores. Yes, we try to eat healthy. But sometimes we order pizza. Yes, we homeschool. But sometimes I cancel school so I can read books.

And that’s okay.

By the way, I did eventually clean The Back Room. This is what it looks like all spiffed up.

Not perfect, but good enough. And that's all I need.

Not perfect, but good enough. And that’s all I need.

Have a blessed day! ♥


Mom’s Kitchen Helpers ~ with FREE printable helper chart!

Mom's Kitchen Helper ~ FREE printable chart! ~ From Our Cozy Den

love having my kids help me cook in the kitchen. I think it’s an important skill for them to learn, and it’s great bonding time too. But when you have multiple children — in my case, four — that’s just WAY too many cooks in the kitchen. So, I have them take turns. But then we start getting squabbles about whose turn it is: “Lia went last time!” “I haven’t had a turn in forever!”… and so on. So, I made a fun chart to keep track of whose turn it is to help me cook.

It’s really easy to use, and I made some FREE printables so you guys can download a copy for your own family to use!

Here’s how to get it set up:

  1. Print the chart (see below) with the appropriate number of bubbles for the number of kids in your family. If you have more than 5, just print two “3” charts or a “2” and a “4” or however you want to do it.
  2. Write your kids’ names in the bubbles.
  3. Laminate the chart if you want to. This makes it more durable, but is not necessary. (You could also put it into a page protector.)
  4. Tape/stick the chart to the refrigerator.
  5. Choose a magnet to move around the chart.

When it comes time to actually use the chart, I move the magnet when I begin cooking. So the magnet rests on the name of the child who had the previous turn. When the kids ask, “Is it my turn?”, I move the magnet to the next child in line, and announce who it is.

Download the charts here:

Two Kids

Three Kids

Four Kids

Five Kids

Easy! Hopefully this helps eliminate some complaining in your house, as it does mine! And it also frees up some of your mommy brain space (I need all the space I can get!) to remember other things instead of who gets to cook with you next!

Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnificent Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

I’ve been dreaming of seeing Fallingwater since I was a little girl. I was probably 6 or 7 when I started showing my dad pictures, and begging him to take me. I’ve always had a love of architecture. Some of my favorite features of architecture are balconies, natural light, and the use of stone. I’ve also always loved forests and water. When I was a kid, there was this place I would always go to be alone, that was a huge rock in the middle of a creek in the middle of a forest. I would sit out there and read. Sometimes my brother would try to come bug me, but for a long time he couldn’t get on MY rock, because his legs weren’t long enough to jump to it like I could. Anyways, Fallingwater always seemed to be the culmination of all my favorite things: forest, water, rock, light…

My sweet husband always knew that seeing it was a dream of mine. So when we celebrated our 10th anniversary earlier this year, he surprised me with a trip — saying that he had arranged a babysitter, and we were going to get away for a weekend to go see Fallingwater. Of course, I was elated! We splurged a bit and sprung for the in-depth tour, which is 2 hours instead of 45 minutes. Also, you can’t take pictures on the regular tour, and I knew I wanted to do that!

Here are photos from our visit!

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

Steps from the living room lead right down into the water.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The house has been designed to bend WITH nature, not force nature to bend around it.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

View from the kitchen onto the balconies and waterfall.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The driveway separating the main house and the guest house. The roof above it is a hallway connecting the two.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The living room: breathtaking stone floors, low seating all around, and windows on 3 sides. This room sits directly above the waterfall.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The stone at the base of the fireplace is the original bedrock on the site. Wright used it as part of the flooring, instead of having it hammered away.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

In the living room — where the stairs lead to the water. This is what it looks like closed.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

And when it’s open — the sounds of rushing water drift up, along with cool breezes.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

Possibly the best desk ever — I WANT ONE for homeschooling!

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

One of the many balconies. Every bedroom has its own balcony sanctuary.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

Looking from one balcony to another.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

A curved walkway leading up to the guest house, which sits up the hill a bit, at the highest point of the house.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The guest house also contains the pool, which has no chemicals. Instead, it is fed by a natural spring, which pours in at the corner, and pours out over the far edge.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

A funny cartoon, hanging in the office of one of the caretakers.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

View of the house from across the river.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The most famous viewpoint to see the house — aptly called on all the signs “View”. You can see the living room, several balconies, and the grand fireplace (which has hearths in at least 3 rooms, maybe 4, I can’t remember for sure).

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

A little girl’s dream came true!

Fallingwater is located in Pennsylvania, about an hour south of Pittsburgh. See the official Fallingwater site for tickets and tour information.