With a family as large as ours (9 of our 10 children still at home) we have to be thrifty whenever we can. I thought you might also like to see just part of the set of wooden blocks we have accumulated over the years. When our big girls were very small (about 16 years ago) I decided to keep Christmas very simple. For one of their presents, I went to a used toy store and bought a set of wooden blocks for just a few dollars. Since then, we've added more to it, including Jenga blocks, figures from a wooden train set donated by my sister, etc. We have a huge wicker basket of them in the living room, much more than the ones pictured here on the table. The kids like to build elaborate cities while I read aloud to them. Yesterday we finished The Ocean of Truth by Joyce McPherson, a children's biography of Sir Isaac Newton, and today we resumed On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is so inspiring to see how much families of yesteryear were able to make do with what they had. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!"
Right now, we are doing without TV broadcasting. I bought a digital converter for our TV early in the summer, but we lost the remote for it two months ago. I could easily replace it with a universal remote for $5, but I'm much happier NOT having a TV around. My own parents ditched our TV set when I was seven, and we didn't get another one until the 1976 elections six years later. We learned to read, write, garden, play music, paint, and do lots of other interesting things instead. In my own family now, we often go without TV for months at a time. I think we tend to get more done that way, even though the computer is still a distraction. We can still use the TV set for DVD's and video cassettes, although our VCR is on the fritz, too, right now.
One of the creative and educational things that some of my kids love to do on the computer is build with Sketchup. It's a 3D drawing and architectural program. You can build a house or any other kind of structure and even furnish it. There are all sorts of textures to work with, too. You can navigate around and through your building, inside and out. It's fascinating! I'm amazed at the intricate things my children make with it, and there's no mess to clean up either. Educators recommend it for kids with autism, too. Even if they can't communicate effectively with others, they can often manipulate things brilliantly on the screen. The great thing about Sketchup is that it is FREE. You can download it here: http://sketchup.google.com/
Here's a cabinet and stove that Micah drew with Sketchup. Too bad he can't use it to replace our real dishwasher, which has been broken for several days. The appliance company says it's already been repaired too many times for them to do it again. I guess that's what happens when you do at least three loads a day! With the warranty maxed out, we're just going to have to suck it up and buy one for ourselves. Meanwhile, at least my kids know how to wash dishes in the sink! We've got this little poem taped to our kitchen cupboard...
Thank God for dirty dishes
They have a story to tell
And by the stack we have
It seems we’re living very well.
While people of other countries are starving
I haven’t the heart to fuss
For by this stack of evidence
God’s awfully good to us.
And speaking of world hunger, my second cousin Ellen Morehouse linked this insightful article on her Facebook page...
World Vision's Richard Stearns sets out to put an end to global poverty
Now how is that for an eclectic blog post that rambles all over?
For thrift, creativity, a making the world a better place...