So I'm quite sure I'm not the first to think of this, but the other day I was thinking when our son gets older I want to have what I'm calling... Appreciation Days.  These will be days perhaps twice a month (maybe more, maybe less) where we will live the day out in someone else's shoes or in another time period.  

When I first started thinking about this I began with "Pioneer Day"... On Pioneer Day I'd like to live without the common luxuries we have become used to in this day and age.  We would see what it was like to live without electricity and only use candles, wash our clothes the "old" way with washboards and then hanging them out to dry (hopefully we will be used to the hanging out to dry part already)... I'm hoping we have a wood burning stove but if not we can always build a fire for cooking, and read aloud for fun, etc.  If we are able to achieve our dream and have a little bit of land one day I don't think having Pioneer Days will be too out of the norm for us, but it will be a GREAT learning experience and will hopefully grow an appreciation inside our little one's hearts for the old ways and how our ancestors couldn't afford to be lazy.  Plus... a huge benefit will be learning homesteading skills that will prepare them for anything the future might bring, be it a power outage or something larger like a natural disaster... if anything like that happens they won't be at a loss for what to do and they will have a good grasp on how to survive off the land.

The next Appreciation Day I thought of was a Silent Day... This one fits us on a more personal level.  Two of my older siblings are deaf and sign language was pretty much my first language if you will... just like my son... I had him signing before he could even speak, telling us if he was hungry and if he was hurting.  A little tip: Even if you've had NO experience with sign language, do some research and DO THIS!  It's amazing how much it reduces stress and frustration on both the baby's part and the parents!  On those random nights when baby was crying and we didn't have a clue why... those magickal little hands came together and signed "hurt" and grabbed his belly and I knew immediately what was bothering him was gas.  Beware though... some books that say they teach "Baby Signs" sometimes aren't true American Sign Language and you don't want anything but the real thing.  Now my siblings both live in separate states and even when someone is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), you can get a bit rusty if you aren't signing often... and learning the language is even more difficult when not in a classroom scenario nor around deaf individuals.  Raising our children with a very true understanding of deaf culture is extremely important to me.  I've always felt that I have benefited in SOME way by growing up surrounded by deaf culture.  I believe it's strengthened my own senses, made me more aware, made me an excellent communicator and more.  I want our children to have those same benefits therefore I want to have days where we essentially "turn off the volume" in our household for a day.  No one speaks, no music, no sound on the television.  We will sign, use closed caption (which I can't live without anyway... another quirk of mine having grown up with deaf siblings), and use the communication skills any other deaf person would need to use to get through a typical day.  This will not only help us practice and strengthen our sign language skills but I believe it will bring about more deaf awareness which I am an advocate of and hopefully make our kiddos appreciate and understand the struggles deaf people have just trying to get along in the world, even though they are in every way capable as the next person.  In doing this I hope that one day when my children are out in public and they see someone who is deaf and may be having a difficult time trying to communicate with someone who is hearing, say in a store type setting, that they will have no fear and walk right up to offer their help.

So those are my ideas so far... I'm not sure I would add to them.  I'm quite content with the focus of those days so far... If this interests you, try and think of something that you feel is important to you and your family... perhaps a different language, or you can narrow it down to something like just baking if that's what you used to do with your Grandma.  There are so many ways to utilize this type of activity with the children.  Make it personal and make it magickal!
My husband has always wanted a map to pinpoint where he's been in the world.  Well he finally got one for Christmas and we had a great time pinning where in the world we've been individually and together.  But then I started to think about our son and how he's already been to a few states... so the three of us went in search of something we could use on his own little map to mark where he's been.  Of course pins are out of the question so we had stickers in mind... Well... we found the most perfect combination!  Sticker push pins!!!!!
So we had lots of fun explaining to our son that we were going to put a sticker on each state that he's been to.  Of course he's only two so he might not have exactly grasped the concept but he can point out California, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and DC when you ask him where they are so it's definitely doing something!!  To find the stickers we went to one of those awesome teacher stores with tons of student supplies.  We could have stayed in there for hours!  But here is the result!
We can't believe our little man has already been to SIX states!!!  Wow!!
And here's Mommy and Daddy's just for fun!
Other Magickal Happenings
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So I've been doing lots of research and have been very intrigued with what I have learned about homeschooling.  I spoke to my husband about the possibility of it and he is not quite on board.  He said under certain circumstances... if the schools available to us do not meet our standards, that he would be open to it.  But otherwise... he would like for our children to go to a public or private school.

I didn't really fight him on it since I really don't know a whole lot of what it entails but from what I have learned I'm definitely a believer in it.  I also decided that it's not all or nothing... a friend of mine (who was actually home schooled) showed me a picture of her "school board" that she created for her son who is the same age as ours.  It had learning topics of the week, a calendar, flash cards etc.  and I was totally inspired!  I want to do the EXACT same thing! 

I'm gathering different ideas from different homeschooling blogs which I search for on Picket Fence Blogs and I'm realizing more and more what an awesome resource these Mama's are!  It doesn't matter whether your children are in private schools, public schools, or home schooled.... creating a learning environment in your home for year round absorption is wonderful, beneficial and FUN!  Something else all this research made me realize is that I've pretty much already begun the homeschooling process with our son.  He knows his ABC's, 123's, and colors!  So I'm going to continue doing this by using a more structured curriculum... after all there are still two whole years before pre-school to fill my little man's head full of all the exciting things that surround us!  I'll share our school board as soon as I complete it! :)