Category Archives: Thoughtful Thursday

Because child rearing takes so much thought, especially when home educating.

Pets and Responsibilities

Pets ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhen my kids were young, they wanted a dog. I made the prove that they could be responsible for the dog’s care by keeping the living room clean for a month. They were warned ahead of time that if they missed even on day, they’d have to start their month all over again. We started over again a couple times and in the end they knew that having a dog would be a job as well as fun.

I am not an animal person, so if we were getting a dog, they were going to have to agree to ALL of its care: potty walks, bathing, feeding, everything. They agreed to every bit of it. There were times I had to remind them that the dog was their responsibility and I wasn’t giving him a bath or feeding him. It was a good thing for my children.

I’m sharing an article with you about teaching responsibility through owning a pet. I hope it will give you some ideas for your children.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Teaching Responsibility through Pet Ownership

By Linda Brodsky

Mom, we’re coming home with a new member of the family,” my 17-year-old happily announced. “Oh boy,” I said. As a new widow, this was the last thing we needed—another pet. But this dog would officially be my “adopted” son’s pet and he would be responsible for all his care. He agreed if it didn’t work out, his mom, who recently lost her 14-year-old dog, would take him. But “Buddy” was currently on probation with us. When I first met Buddy, a St. Bernard mix, I said, “No way! He’s huge and he’s going to be a handful!” But his pitiful look and laid back ways made me give him a chance. Besides, I thought he would help my daughter through her grieving process.

A UK pet retailer, Pets at Home, surveyed 1000 children ages 5-16 who have pets in their homes. A high percentage of the children believe caring for a pet makes them more responsible, caring, happy and intelligent. 36% of the children said they have become more caring and 34% feel a greater sense of responsibility.1

What Does Pet Ownership Teach Kids?

Pets teach kids to be more caring towards others. Children generally are focused on their own needs. Having a pet will teach them to serve others’ needs as well.

Having a pet means the life and well-being of another living creature is in your hands. The biggest responsibility is love. It can take a lot of time, money and energy. You have to be committed and work hard. Before pet ownership, there are certain things that must be considered such as the pet’s life span, how much time you and your child have to commit to your pet and the costs involved.

Before getting a pet, ask these questions: Why does the child want a pet? How mature is the child? Can he/she handle the responsibility and if not, will you help? How will the new pet affect the rest of the family and other pets already in the home?

Pets can be a very positive experience for children. They offer companionship, entertainment and education. However, they require care, attention and maintenance and also involve a financial commitment. They teach great responsibility, but the rewards can be very positive! The children also need to learn what happens when they don’t take care of their pets. And we have had several accidents or deaths when proper care was not given.

Part of pet responsibility is how children treat their pets. There are certain behaviors that should be banned, otherwise the child may be at risk of getting bit or scratched by the pet. They can also seriously hurt the animal. Excessive hugging and kissing, chasing, running, screaming, poking, teasing, handling roughly and riding on, are all behaviors that should be avoided.

Responsibilities of Pet Ownership

Children may need adult supervision when interacting with some pets. Don’t expect too much from younger children. For example, cleaning a cat’s litter box can be very dangerous, as small children touch their eyes and mouth and may not properly wash their hands after doing the task. Don’t overwhelm the child. It will discourage them from taking care of the pets and therefore will resent them. Then the pets will be the ones who suffer in the long run.

Here are some ways to encourage responsible behavior:

  • Praise your child every time a pet chore is done without having to ask
  • Try to reward your child in a way with a fun pet activity
  • If they start to lapse on their responsibility, offer gentle reminders
  • If problem persists, sit down with your child and see what can be done to make it more effective
  • Be a good example yourself

Parents must be clear about the responsibilities of pet ownership before a pet is received. And if a child does not care for the pet as she should or neglects assigned duties, perhaps a loss of privileges should be the consequences.

The lifelong commitment and responsibility to a pet ultimately rests on the adults in the house, not the children. If you’re not sure whether your child is read for a pet, especially a cat or a dog, consider fostering an animal for a short while. This will serve several purposes; you and your child can see what it actually requires to take care of this type of pet and animal rescue organizations are always in need of care for strays or abandoned pets. Your child may also want to volunteer at the local shelter to become familiar with what it takes to own a pet.

Throughout the years we have had every kind of pet imaginable: cats, dogs, parakeets, cockatiels, parrots, guinea pigs, fish, toads, gecko lizards, rabbits, hermit crabs and even a three foot long iguana! In fact, our children have had so much experience with different animals that they even started their own pet-sitting businesses. That’s a whole new level of responsibility.

As for Buddy, well he had a few mishaps, but he’s one of the sweetest, most easy-going dogs I’ve ever met. He gets an A on his probation report!

Having a pet is an incredibly rewarding experience for your children and can provide a lifetime of memories, education, responsibility and most of all, love.

Ages and Responsibilities for Pet Ownership

Toddlers to age 5:

-help parents put food and water in pet dishes

-clean and put away pet dishes

-put away pet toys

-help with brushing and grooming

-play with the pet

Ages 5-10:

-put food and water in dishes, still with some adult supervision

-heavier level of help with cleaning and maintenance of pet areas

-grooming and bathing, depending on size and personality of the pet

-help with exercise and walking, depending on size and personality of the pet

-clean up after pet when it goes to the bathroom

Ages 10 and up:

-all aspects can be responsibly assumed unless it’s a large, unruly animal

Low, Medium and High Maintenance Pets

Low Maintenance Pets

Fish – Perfect “starter” pet

Beta fish require no filter, heater or aerator

Goldfish don’t require a filter but it is good to have one

Insects & Arthropods – Ant farms and hermit crabs are easy, educational and fun

Sea Monkeys” (Brine shrimp) – Tiny crustaceans that are fun and very educational can be bought in kits with minimal care and can survive a year or more!

Reptiles – (Gecko lizards, toads, turtles, snakes)

They are non-allergenic so they make great pets for those that may be allergic to pet hair and dander

They are also very educational and fun

However, they need vitamins, heat and a light source

Small Birds – (Parakeets, canaries, finches) Birds are pretty easy to take care of and they are very educational and fun

However, they can be messy!

Rodents – Hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, gerbils are all very educational and fun

However, they could be high allergens, especially guinea pigs

Medium Maintenance Pets

Cats – Cats are great for when there is limited space and you can’t get a dog

They are very independent and usually friendly

Dogs – A dog is a kid’s best friend too – we found that our boys especially love dogs, but they do require a bit more responsibility

Great kid-friendly breeds are Labs, Retrievers, Poodles, Airedale terriers (which we are biased to since we had one that was absolutely awesome! Clifford was ten years old when he passed away and we talk about him all the time. He was the best dog ever!)

High Maintenance Pets

Larger birds such as parrots, horses, chickens, goats, sheep, exotic animals such as chimpanzees, pigs, llamas, etc.

Linda Brodsky, along with her late husband Mark, owned and operated Brodsky Ministries, an online resource for curriculum, homeschool t-shirts, natural health and beauty products and general Christian materials for over 12 years. She has written numerous articles and a book, Fruit of the Womb: Our Journey to Joy in the Morning which can be ordered through her website Linda has done seminars at homeschool conventions throughout the country, speaking about nutrition and child safety. She will be writing and speaking about homeschooling through adversities in 2014. She can be reached at

Copyright, 2014. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, July/August 2014. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

More Juvenile Non-Fiction

More Non-Fiction Children's Books ~ Lifeofjoy.meThese are two other books I found in the non-fiction section of the children’s portion of the library. Although parts of the Pepsi one was rather dry, I did enjoy finding out about how the product came to be, how it changed, and such. Overall, it was an okay read. I wouldn’t call it exciting but not boring either. ;) There were some boring bits with dates and stuff but overall, it was interesting to me that Pepsi of today is NOT what it was created to be.

The cooking one has about four recipes to try. This one was good more for the information about the White House and how Pres. and Abigail Adams were the first to live in the new building in D. C. I found it interesting and a short read. The print in this book was large so it isn’t too overwhelming for the younger readers and has great information for all readers. Unfortunately there are only four books in the series but I would recommend them.

So I think this little foray into the non-fiction section of the juvenile portion of the library yielded wonderful results. I believe your children could find some interesting information within the pages of some pretty good books. So, on each trip to the library, take a little browse in the non-fiction stacks and if you are lost on where to start, all these were found in the 900 section.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Periodic Table

Periodic Table ~ Lifeofjoy.meI came across this interesting link for the periodic table recently and thought to share it with you. It is interactive in that you can click on any of the elements and it will show a larger picture with descriptions. I went to its home page and found that it has several different versions that you can print out. It also has some flashcards.

From there I wondered why you even need to study the periodic table, since I never did. I learned that it is most helpful in chemistry, which I never took in school. One post I read shared a link to a BBC show, broken up into six different videos. I watched the first ten minute video and found it a bit interesting, so your older student might as well. However, do so with caution, as I have not watched all of them.

If your child needs to memorize the elements, there are several ways to do so. There are the flashcards linked above. Then there is this song but I glanced over some of the other topics they have videos on and know that I would not want any young children going to their channel but the song is cool. There’s even a version with lyrics. :)

Then I watched this cool memory technique video for the first ten elements. Let’s see if I remember them (spelling does not count against me) Hydrogen, Hellium, Lithium, Beryillium, Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Fluorine, Neon! Whoo hoo! Here’s the link to watch the video. Of course, after watching the video for the first ten elements, he wants you to register (free) to get the video of the next ten and then ultimate wants to sell you the rest, which might be worth it if your children NEED to memorize them. :)

I hope this is useful to you.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

A Lost Practice

Lost Practice ~ Lifeofjoy.meI wish I had taught my children to write thank you notes when they were young. I always ensured that they thanked people for gifts and such and only had the write thank you notes to people that sent gifts and were not there when the gift was open to receive the verbal thank you. But in hindsight, I think I probably did the a disservice by not requiring it for all gifts and experiences.

I read this post on entitled, How to Write a Thank You Note (and why you should). It was a very nice short read but completely got the point across. Thank you notes are a practice that can bring a little joy to the receiver. Think about it though, they took time and effort to give something to you.

I remember as a child, my mom would have my sister and I write thank you notes. I remember her writing it out so we would write it correctly. I have no idea how old I was.

Anyway, back to the post I read, the author gave specifics about how to compose a thank you card/note as well. She even gave examples of how her family gives thank you notes frequently and how it even blesses those who receive them that are not in the practice of giving them.

I think I may even up my thank you note giving a notch or two. ;) I think it is much more important than which fork to use for which course (use them from the outside to the inside and you should be okay ;) ) and can really bless someone who has blessed you.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº



Be Aware and Pray

Be Aware ~ Lifeofjoy.meI tried to keep communications open with my kids both as they were growing up and continue to do so now. Unfortunately, I’ve learned in recent months that I was clueless about what they were actually feeling. I had no idea my sweet daughter struggled with depression, panic attacks, and anxiety. Of course, to be fair, she didn’t realize that her feelings had names or that her feelings weren’t normal.

Thankfully, these are things that I have never really had to deal with, except for the occasional minor bout (I’ve talked a bit about it here and here.) but it left me clueless to notice any symptoms.

This post is to encourage you to be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, as well as self-image/self-worth. You should not go overboard complimenting your children, as that will do one of two things, namely puff them up with pride or make them question whether you are being truthful or not in other matters too.

I wish I had known what my children had felt and would have known the signs to help guide them to positive emotions. Please don’t misunderstand, all my children know I love them and have known it all their lives. They are also very aware that I am a momma bear and will look out for them as best I can but sometimes they (in hind sight) didn’t know how to describe what they were feeling and because I am a very optimistic person, I didn’t realize what was going on.

It’s hard when your child has a bad experience. You try your best and guide them to positive behaviors. I wish I had know how serious things were and would have prayed about each thing. I guess that is the takeaway . . . the big point I want to make . . . talk to your kids and really listen . . . take time to really listen . . . and then take each little thing to God in prayer and seek His guidance. Prayer should always be the first and last thing we do but unfortunately, way too often, we completely forget to pray about specific things. I know because I have smacked my head and said “Duh!” way too many times.

So, if you do not struggle with any of these things, do your children a favor and dig around for some information about what they look like/sound like/act like, so that you are aware and can pray and get them the help they need.

I hope this crazy rambling is helpful to you today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



Juvenile Non-Fiction Book Suggestions

Several weeks ago I recommended that you take your children to the library and let them browse through the 900’s section of the non-fiction books of the children’s section. I had heard of a book series that sounded pretty interesting. I checked them out to see if I could recommend them but when I was searching the stacks for them, I found some more books that looked interesting and that is what sparked the idea to let the children browse the section to find books that interested them.

Here’s some from the first series.
Good Children's non-fiction ~ Lifeofjoy.meThe two on the left are from the Who Was Series and the right are from the Where Is Series. I loved the book on Milton Bradley. I enjoyed the book on Alcatraz too. But the book on the Amazon had some evolution worldview and some such information, so be aware of that. These were really good books though. I started reading the on on Winston Churchill but needed to stop to write this. What I read so far was good and interesting.

I like that they do not dumb down the information but define possible new words right in the text. I recommend these books. They are chapter books with a medium size print. Very nice! At the end there is a timeline of world events and the subject of the book so that you can see what was happening in the world as well. Good idea.

In the Where Was books, there is a color fold-out map in the back. It is perforated so be careful when you open it for the first time. This series of books also has another subcategory, What is. I couldn’t find any of those in our branch when I was there, but I bet they are good as well.

There are over 120 titles in the Who Was Series. They cover all different people from Houdini to Tubman to Franklin to King Tut to Mozart and oh so many more. There are a couple dozen in the What Was Series ranging from the Gold Rush to Pearl Harbor to the San Francisco Earthquake and more. The Where Is Series has around twenty books covering the Solar System, the Eiffel Tower, and Easter Island to name a few.

I do not receive anything from recommending these books. I hope you enjoy them. I did and I don’t even have young kids anymore. :D

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



Free Trial Offers for the Summer

Free Trial Offers for the Summer ~ Lifeofjoy.meOnce again Homeschool Buyers Co-op has some free programs to give a try for the summer or at least a month.

There’s a 30-day trial of an online homeschool planner, Homeschool Planet.

Discovery Education Streaming Plus has videos and lesson plans free until the end of August, as does National Geographic.

Then there is Miacademy and Homeschool Piano. IEW has a free downloadable video lessons for high schoolers! You should check that one out!

There is also Always Ice Cream and Clever Dragons interactive learning websites for grades K-8 that looks interesting.

And there’s several more too! You should go check it out. It is time sensitive, so hurry on over, the summer won’t last forever. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Summer Reading

Uncle Sean's Turn ~ Lifeofjoy.meDuring the summer it is a good idea to keep your kids reading to help them not lose any ground academically. Here’s an article with some helpful tips on how to prevent, what the academic world calls the summer slide and some tips on how to find reading material that is a good fit for your child. Don’t worry, it’s a short read. :)

Need some ideas to help you encourage your children to read? Here are several.

  • This Summer Reading Challenge looks fun. It has a checklist of not only things to read, as in different sources like an ebook, a comic book, or even a recipe but also includes a checklist of different ways to read, like with a flashlight, to a pet, and at the library. There may be one or two you want to change out but I thought it was a nice free printable.
  • This is a simple bookmark with colored dots to punch as your child reads a book.
  • At this site you can download and print a Summer Reading Bingo and she gives ideas for using it as well, especially waiting until the Summer reading needs a little infusion to keep going.
  • Then there is this fun challenge to read in 100 different places or to different people.
  • Here’s another bingo card to print.
  • And don’t forget your local library’s Summer Reading Program. Also check with the bookstores in your area. I remember Barnes and Noble used to have one that rewarded the children with on of 6 free paperbacks for reading a certain number of books.

If you need book suggestions, just do a search on pinterest. I saw lots of ideas there, for all ages.

And remember to take time for reading yourself. Kids do what they see others do. :)

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Geography Helps

US Map ~ Lifeofjoy.meI remember when the kids were young, I found a small game download that was really good and simple for geography, especially United States geography. I cannot even begin to tell you what program that was now.

First I want to share a neat old book that you can use to help teach your child about the states. Be forewarned though, it is from 1896, so the statistics will be out of date but it still has some valuable information.

Rhymes of the States

I did a quick search recently and want to share what I found. I bet you can find some app for your electronic device be it phone, tablet, or laptop. Here are the websites I found.

  • Owl & Mouse –I think this might be the creators of the maps games that I was able to download for the children when they were young. It is a HUGE resource, especially for early learning, as well as maps and things.
  • Sheppard Software–This one has a variety of levels to learn geography and landforms around the world. There seems to be something for each state on the left sidebar but my internet is lagging right now, so I cannot fully check it out.
  • World Geography Games — This one has mountains, oceans, and other landforms as well as the US geography.
  • Seterra Geography Games — This has LOTS of world geography as well as US geography, which is also broken down into sections so your child doesn’t get worn out doing all 50 states at once.

All of the above are very simply games without a bunch of extras. They are about learning the geography and practicing it. Some of them also have trivia quizzes, I think. The are all on-line play.

I found one other website that had some old games. The one that caught my eye was Amazon Trail. I believe these are available to download. Might be worth checking out. ;)

And finally, I thought this article I wrote a couple of years ago about how we handled the summer and it has a link to how to use cards for some math practice.

Well, I’ll wrap it up for today. I hope you have a great day with your children.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Train a Child

Today my friend Ana shares how she is growing and maturing through raising her son. The struggle is real. It is our desire that her sharing here today will help you in your situation, whatever it may be.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

It’s so wonderful that the lord doesn’t base his love for us on how we act or if we are deserving. He basis his love solely in that we are his children. This week has been, yet another trial in the saga that is raising my son.

Man I’m telling you, I used to be able to go anywhere anytime with my girls and never once fear the behavior of my children. Insert my three year old son that has me terrified to do much of anything. I am afraid to go anywhere, for at any moment he can pick some situation that will be his undoing. It’s awful. And before you think for one second that I haven’t read or sought counsel from everyone I know on how to deal with it . . .  well I have. And if I’ve done it once, I’ve done it a million times. I have shed more tears over not knowing what he needs than any other fact of my life.

I spend my days afraid if it will be a good day or a bad day and I’ve allowed it all to hang on the balance of my sons attitude. Today I hit a wall as he began a huge fit at my daughters jujitsu class, for he didn’t want to relinquish the phone I had allowed him to play with. He yelled and kicked and hit me on the way to the car. As I buckled him he yelled at me, “STUPID!” I disciplined him and buckled into the car myself.

I was dumbstruck, hurt, embarrassed, angry, and above all DONE. At that moment my heart refused to acknowledge that I had any love for this child at all. I was so hurt that tears stung my eyes and I just wanted to hide. Instantly I thought, why did we have a third! Why? We were so good with two!! The fourth thought was . . . “wow Ana you are a horrible person!”

I was beyond tired of battling with this tiny being and trying to survive my day and feeling so alone in the battle. Every time I would try to explain to my husband my distress and my frustration, all I saw was the pain in his eyes hearing that I was not enjoying mothering our son.

It is a catalyst loving something that brings you to the edge of insanity and right as you’re about to jump says, “Mommy I love you.” As I drove home sad and eerily quiet, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Good thing I don’t just love you when you are obedient!”


He loves us despite our failures and our disobedience. That’s his example to me in how to love my son.

Love is patient!!! Man that one is hard. I so badly want to be plucked out of this battle field that I feel like I’m in with my child. I so badly want his stubbornness to subside and his soft and gentle spirit to come forth. I want him to oblige my dreams and behave all the time. But as I made him oatmeal this evening for dinner, yes oatmeal, and he said, “Mommy I love you!” I responded, “Thank you,” still angry and his little face looked up at me and asked, “You love me too right?” I knew immediately that I did. I love him despite this season of training . . . I love his smiles and giggles and strength. I love that he is mighty and a leader . . . and I understood what God was trying to tell me . . . I allowed myself to respond with my flesh to the situation, instead of my spirit man. I replied . . . “Yes buddy, I do, very much!!” I picked him up and held him and cried again at the knowledge that even when I fail as a mom or as a daughter of God, He’s got my back . . . He’s got my heart and he is gently and lovingly still training me.

All for His Glory,
Ana Osborn