Sunday, August 31, 2008

No "back to school" goodbyes here

I'm writing this while on a min-vacation for the long holiday weekend. We've been busy visiting amusement parks and magic shows. It's funny how I often find myself philosophizing when we go out of town. There's something about going away that changes my perspective, or just makes me notice things I may not have been thinking about had we just stayed home doing our normal routine.

While waiting in line for Macy, 3, to have her turn on the little kiddie choo-choo train, another mom saw me lift the baby up out of the stroller. The mother commented on how precious Tessa was and how seeing her made her wish her children could be babies again. Her kids looked like they were probably 5 and 6. I agreed with her that babies are so sweet and it's hard to turn off that part of you as a woman that wants to be holding a baby. She didn't realize I had older kids since my kids were off riding roller coasters, so she proceeded to let me know that when she spends time with her kids, it doesn't make her want ANOTHER baby. What she meant was that she doesn't like her kids now that they are bigger, not sweet any more, and just fight all the time. She explained that she just wishes that they hadn't grown. I smiled, trying not to be unfriendly. I said something to the affect that vacations make for some trying moments for siblings and I had just said to my kids an hour ago to remember to keep loving each other.

We always visit a church if we're away from home on a Sunday. We were able to attend a neat church here on vacation that we really enjoyed. The pastor made the typical comment about how all the parents must be happy since the kids are back in school. I'm not faulting the pastor. It's a rare pastor who doesn't mention the typical cliche at back to school time. Hearing it the day after I talked to the lady in line, though, made me pause and think about this culture's tendency to dislike children.

Don't get me wrong... I feel the need for a day off every now and then just as much as the next homeschool mom. In fact, my hubby and I have made it part of our routine to try to go out on a nice long date once a week if at all possible. But it's so hard for me to relate to some of the comments people make about their children. It makes me sad when parents (who have chosen to have children in their lives) don't seem to like their children. Of course, this is not to say that everyone who sends their kids to school think that their children are nuisances. I certainly know better than that. I just question the ones who feel the need to whoop, holler, and do a jig on the first day of school every year.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Today, we finished reading Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater. This was our first read aloud of the year. I thought it would be fun to cater our first book of the year to Andrew, my 8 year old. It was a nice, light and fun way to start the year. There's nothing like a good animal story to get everyone smiling. In fact, we practically had to pick ourselves up off the floor at one point, because we were laughing so hard.

We have had many different seasons in our 8 years of homeschooling. Sometimes our read-alouds have gotten pushed aside. And other times the only thing we accomplished was reading. I'm happy to say that I have made it a priority to schedule plenty of read-aloud time this year. Of course that's not including our Truthquest History books we're reading together, character and Bible stories, and any other devotional books we read. Along with those, we can't pass up these great family bonding books full of lovable characters who become part of our family. There are so many great choices that I don't think we'll ever get to them all. It's like I've heard a fellow homeschool mom say, "so many books, so little time".

Monday, August 25, 2008

In my SPARE time!

As if starting a blog isn't enough of an addition to my "hobbies in my spare time" list, I have been trying to update and improve my social networking. Oof! I may have had 4 friends on facebook before this weekend. But family members are joining and inviting me, so I must be part of the crowd, right? And after looking at their profile pages and seeing the huge networks of friends that they have developed, I found it quite necessary to search for old friends and familiar names. I don't want to be the one poor sad person whose friends list doesn't even fill the "top five favorite friends" spot. Embarrassing. Really though, who would have thought when we were kids that it would be so easy to find people we have lost touch with? It's just amazing!

So now my myspace is updated for those family members and friends who do it that way; my facebook is filling quickly with familiar faces; and I'm starting to remember again to turn on my yahoo!messenger in the morning after neglecting it all last week as I was consumed with the new school schedule. And by the way, facebook does definitely seem to be gaining the upper hand in the social networking war, for those who may not know. I have determined not to Twitter, though! I homeschooling mom can go only so far...

So, if you do any of those things, look me up. And maybe between reading Anne of Green Gables, helping with math problems, and fixing lunch we can write on each others' walls and send each other bumper stickers. Is that kind of like what my mom said they used to do back in the day? She said that the ladies would have a great time talking and visiting as they hung their clothes to dry in their yards.

Friday, August 22, 2008

After a summer full of relaxing and doing mindless activities (I know, a shameful way for a homeschool family to spend their summer... we'll do better next year), it only took a day of structure and learning to awaken creativity. I could barely drag my son away from his cray-pas to get him to go to bed; and my daughter had designed three outfits for her Build-a-Bear collection. Our little learner (3 year old) was awestruck by her new Melissa & Doug puzzles and was glued to them all day. She even took Magnetic Dress-Up Maggie Leigh to bed with her! Of course, my big boy was busy reading some Henty.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Our first few days of school have been wonderful. The usual real-life interruptions have been as abundant as ever. BUT!... Having a detailed schedule to keep us striving towards order makes the world of difference. I must say, the thing that I always thought would be tedious and overbearing is actually freeing. Our schedule is our servant, not our master, but it's a schedule nonetheless. And I expect it to make our year a very successful one. The children even love it!

We have started going through Genesis using Omnibus I and various Old Testament study guides and books. It has been an incredible way to start the year. As the Omnibus book points out, we can only fully understand history (and the present, for that matter) if we have an understanding of our origin and the ongoing struggle that remains. It has reminded me of what I read in R.C. Sproul Jr.'s When You Rise Up. He says of Genesis 3:14-15, "Here God declares solemn war against the serpent through one born of a woman, but also promises to change the hearts of his elect, such that they would hate the serpent. This great battle is the setting of history, and therefore the setting of our lives. If we are his, we are at war, and that affects everything." Starting in Genesis has been such a wonderful way to get perspective on our history lessons, bible lessons, character studies, worldview, and even the little ins and outs of our days.

I hope to post about some cute stories from our week later today or tomorrow. I'll also be posting soon about Teaching Textbooks.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Education reform comedy

Here's a humorous clip from a British TV show on education reform... pretty funny and insightful...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


We have several books from the Lamplighter collection. These are excellent books, worthy of being read over and over again. They are beautifully reprinted books that were originally written in the 17th, 18th, 19th, & 20th centuries. I just can't say enough about how much we enjoy these inspiring stories. So, from time to time, I plan on including some quotes from some of this wonderful Christian literature.

Here is a quote from Rosa of Linden Castle by Christoph Von Schmid,

(Of Matilda, Rosa's mother) Her first object was to make her child acquainted with the character and goodness of God, and to awaken and call forth in her tender heart a sincere regard and filial affection towards her heavenly Father. An ardent admirer of the works of nature, her own mind was often led through nature up to nature's God. From the windows of her parlor in the castle, there was a most delightful prospect; here she frequently sat with her needlework, and with delight and feelings of reverence towards the Creator of all, gazed upon the majestic glaciers as they sparkled in the sunbeams, upon the vine-clad hills, the blooming vales, and the meandering streams. From these she took occasion to direct the attention of her daughter to the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of God.

On one occasion, a beautiful summer's morning, she awoke Rosa very early, saying, "Rosa, my dear, come and see how beautifully and majestically the sun rises; behold those golden-tinged clouds, and those silvered mountains of our church in the village, as it rises amidst the tall linden trees with which it is surrounded. The happy husbandmen, refreshed by sleep, are hurrying to the labors of the day. There the whistling shepherd's boy is driving his flocks to the grassy hills- there the mowers are cutting the sweet-smelling grass- there the yellow grain-fields are waving ready for the sickle- everywhere we see the wisdom and goodness of our God. How great, how incomprehensible, and how good, must He not be, who looks upon all his creatures with benevolence and compassion; who provides alike for the poor peasant who lives in his straw-thatched cottage, and for us who dwell in a castle; who created this earth and fitted for the abode of man; who giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater, and who has also made provision for our salvation, that when we leave this world we may live with him in heaven for ever." Rosa was deeply impressed with what her mother said, and involuntarily folding her hands, exclaimed, "Oh! how good and great art Thou who hast made all things for our good."

To see the Lamplighter Rare Colelctor's Series...

Monday, August 11, 2008

1 more week

I can't believe we just have a week until our first official day of school. Of course, I'm one of those moms who feels like even though we took a summer break, we were still learning. But as far as a structured day and checklists are concerned, we're only a week away. I feel like I spent more time "planning" during this last month than I ever have during a break, I've got so much to finish up this week. Wouldn't you know that my first day of the "I'm down to the wire now" week would be consumed with a 3 year old's fever and earache and a scooting baby who is trying to figure out how not to keep rolling over into hard furniture which bumps that precious little head? So, no last minute school preparations for me today. Hopefully everyone will rest well tonight, so we can start fresh tomorrow.

This year will be organized by a schedule on the wall, lining out each person's duties and times to accomplish them. The kids will also have checklists I made on Excel. They get a sheet for each week that shows their daily chores and school subjects. After they have checked the boxes under each weekday, they will give it to me to file for my records and get a clean checklist for the next week. I have also been recording every chapter book they have ever read, so I will continue to do that.

This week I'm supposed to make a list of all the books that I want them to read this year. I already have stacks of books ready to list, so I just need to get it organized. The bulk of their books will coordinate with our history lessons. There are also some good fun ones and inspirational books, too. I had also planned on getting our timeline ready this week. I got one of those huge paper rolls that you use on craft tables to use as our timeline. We have done a Konos timeline before and have used The Timechart History of the World, which is an incredible book fold-out timeline. I would like to do something this year that we can write on ourselves. If it works like I hope it will, we will continue to use it from this time forward. I've got to back-track everything we've studied so far and plot that before we start on this year's history. OK, maybe that won't get done in time. It may stay a work in progress for a couple more weeks. And lastly, I've got to finish organizing my third grader's binder that will house all of his phonics, copywork, handwriting, and spelling.

My 3 year old's favorite book at the moment is The Little Engine That Could, so at moments like these, it's automatic for my mind to say... I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tea with Grandma

My girls went to Grandma's annual "Tea with the Grandma" today. Yes, my mother is one of those inspiring, Godly women who speaks with grace, lives the renewed life, and has many tea parties. Someday I want to grow up to be like my mom! Each year, for many years now, she has had a summer tea with all of her granddaughters and her mom, their great-grandmother, too. This year two more little ones joined the group since they are now 3 years old, which is official big girl tea party age. In a world full of dysfunction and broken relationships, it fills my heart with gratefulness when I realize what a blessing a godly heritage is!

To be able to be trained up in the feminine way by not only your mother, but Grandmother and Great Grandmother is so precious. I want my girls to love being girls! God made us so distinctly different from our male counterparts. And that difference is something worth noticing and celebrating. Each girl was dressed in her Sunday best today, walking to the table like little ladies after posing for a few pictures. Looking our very feminine best, getting all dressed up, and doing lovely things is so satisfying. God created us to love beautiful things.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

My mother takes such care to make every sandwich, cookie, and bread with spread perfect for serving. And then she models how to serve, by caring for each of their needs at the table. Isn't pouring tea for someone you love a wonderful act of service? I know there are far more impacting ways to serve. But hostessing with your best china, in your best dress, sharing your best recipes is a beautiful picture of feminine service with grace and love. My girls may not realize until they are well into their adult years, what a treasure they had that as little girls, their grandmas had them for tea.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kids' classes this year...

3rd Grade:
Ten Things to Do with Your Child Before Age Ten from Teaching the Trivium by the Bluedorns
Horizons Math
Truthquest History
Worldview by Brannon Howse
Character and Manners (Everyday Graces, Little Book of Manners for Boys, Tiger and Tom Character Classics, A Hive of Busy Bees, Ten Boys Who Made a Difference)
Rosetta Stone Spanish (maybe, we'll see how it goes)
Art Appreciation (various books and Dover art print cards)
Choir at Ecclesia Prep School
Suzuki Piano lessons
Guitar lessons
First Tee golf program

6th Grade:
Math (Teaching Textbooks)
Truthquest History
Worldview by Brannon Howse
A Reason for Handwriting
Language/English (Warriners)
Observing God's World Science (ABeka)
Creative Writing
Rosetta Stone Spanish
Manners and Character (Everyday Graces, How to Be a Lady)
Art Appreciation (various books and Dover art print cards)
Choir at Ecclesia Prep School
Suzuki Piano lessons

8th Grade:
Algebra (Teaching Textbooks)
Truthquest History and Ominbus I
Worldview by Brannon Howse
Language/English (Warriners)
Rosetta Stone Spanish
Apologia Physical Science
Into and Intermediate Logic (Nance)
More Logic (The Fallacy Detective, The Thinking Toolbox, The Art of Argument)
Character (Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle, Boyhood and Beyond by Bob Schultz)
Consumer Math/Stewardship (Money Matters for Teens by Larry Burkett)
Art Appreciation (various books)
Choir at Ecclesia Prep School
Guitar lessons
First Tee golf

Monday, August 4, 2008

History Lesson Plans

I finished my lesson plans for this year's history. Phew! This will be the first year that we won't all be covering the same time period. It will be a little more challenging, but I am excited about the way this will cater to each of their interests and needs. My 8th grade boy will be delving into the Old Testament times and ancient Egypt and Greece. My 6th grade girl will do Old Testament with us, listen in on some of the age appropriate parts of the Egypt and Greece topics, and she will be reviewing the American history that she has studied the last several years by reading historical fiction. After many years of studying American History using the Truthquest study guides, she is very interested in diving further into the time periods that interest her. And my 3rd grade boy will be doing the Old Testament, listening in on a small amount of the Egypt and Greece, and working on the American History that he is still in the middle of with Truthquest.

Here are our reading lists to go with History (and Western Civ) this year:

8th grade:

Curriculum: Truthquest History Guide Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece
Omnibus I Biblical and Classical Civilizations
Diana Waring's True Tales Ancient Civilizations and the Bible audio
A Child's History of Art (Hillyer)
Janson History of Art
A Child's History of the World (Hillyer)
Shadow Hawk (Norton)
Cat of Bubastes (Henty)
Cleopatra (Stanley)
Tirzah (Travis)
The Golden Goblet (McGraw)
Till We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis)
Hittite Warrior (Williamson)
First & Second Samuel
First & Second Kings
God King (Williamson)
The Chronicles of Narnia series (Lewis) he's read most of these already
The Heroes (Kingsley)
A Wonder Book (Hawthorne)
By Jove! (Macrone)
The Iliad (Homer)
The Odyssey (Homer)
portions of Last Days of Socrates
portions of Invitation to the Classics
portions of The Works of Flavius Josephus

6th grade:

Curriculum: Truthquest History Guide Ancient Egypt and Greece
Historical fiction books

The Victor Journey through the Bible as a source book
A Child's History of the World (Hillyer)
A Child's History of Art (Hillyer)
Janson's History of Art
Cleopatra (Stanley)
Tirzah (Travis)
God King (Williamson)
The Golden Goblet (McGraw)
d'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths
Aesop's Fables
many resource books and historical encyclopedias on Egypt and Greece
Martha of California (Otis)
Almost Home Daughters of the Faith Series (Lawton)
The Tinker's Daughter DotFS (Lawton)
The Christian Heritage Series The Salem Years books 1-6 (Rue)
Attack in the Rye Grass Trailblazer Books (Whitman)

3rd grade:

Curriculum: Truthquest History Guide American History

The Victor Journey through the Bible as a source book
A Child's History of the World (Hillyer)
A Child's History of Art (Hillyer)
Janson's History of Art
Cleopatra (Stanley)
Tirzah (Travis)
God King (Williamson)
The Golden Goblet (McGraw)
d'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths
Aesop's Fables
many resource books and historical encyclopedias on Egypt and Greece
The Dragon and the Garden (Wilson)
In the Time of Noah (Wilson)
The True Story of Noah's Ark (Dooley) incredible illustrations!
Exodus (Wildsmith)
Joseph (Wildsmith)
Journey through Bible Lands Candle Discovery Series
Living in Bible Times Candle Discovery Series ** these interactive books will be enjoyed by all
King Midas and the Golden Touch (Perkins)
The Landing of the Pilgrims (Daugherty)
Stories of the Pilgrims (Pumphrey)
The Pilgrims of Plimoth (Sewall)
Squanto: Friend of the Pilgrims (Bulla)
A Child's Day(Kalman & Everts)
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving (Grace & Bruchac)
The First Thanksgiving Reader (Jackson)
Sarah Morton's Day (Waters)
If You Lived in Colonial Times (McGovern)
If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days (Brenner)
(some books will be read aloud by mom)

Like I said... phew!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Such a newb!

OK, I'm really a newbie when it comes to blogging. The post from Saturday was titled Sundays! That's because I pulled up a post screen yesterday, and then wrote it today. So it looks like I wrote it yesterday. Like I said, you'll have to be patient with me... I'm doing good to have blog now in the first place.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I'm not sure if I've got the whole Sabbath thing down the way we're supposed to. I've studied it some, but haven't come to a real life application of how to make my sabbath truly what it was intended to be. But Sundays are certainly a day of renewal to me. I lay the last week's triumphs and failures to rest and prepare for another week of ministry to my family. Most of my concentration during worship goes to rededicating myself to ministering. I reset my mind's eye toward the serious job I have as a servant to the precious family God has given me. Thank the Lord for His mercy and grace that is called on as I feel for His guidance through my weeks!

Sundays are the days that I do my lesson planning for the week to come. A very big part of that planning is of our devotions, bible lessons, and character talks and stories. Even though it's still summer break, I find myself going through my mind and spirit in search of real life lessons to be shared this week. It would be great if I could just spout out great spiritual truths spontaneously as we go through our week. For the most part, I don't truly plan those teachable moments. But if I do not take time each week to ponder what God is working on in my heart and the hearts of my children, I can find myself floundering and missing opportunities that present themselves in the week to come. I must merge a discipleship plan with that still small voice to be the best Jesus that I can be to my little disciples.

The tools I have used over the years to help me with these lessons for my children are Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M. Schoolland, For Instruction in Righteousness by Pam Forster, Our 24 Family Ways by Clay and Sally Clarkson, Choice Stories for Children selected by Ernest Lloyd, Millers books by Mildred A. Martin, A Hive of Busy Bees by Effie Williams, Christian Worldview for Children by Brannon Howse, various Bible Story books, and the Bible.

As far as the spontaneous part of these lessons, I am working on mastering the art of the "help a mom out here please, God" prayer. I am convinced 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is addressing homeschool moms when it says to pray without ceasing. Ha ha! One thing I know for sure though, is that God sure is faithful to give me direction when I ask for it. I can't tell you how many times I've shot up a prayer and God has supplied me with the right words for the situation. That is a necessity when you have 100 questions a day coming at you from eager little observers. And once again... thank you Lord for watching down in grace!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Blackberry Cobbler

This has been my first year to have a garden, thanks to my wonderful father-in-law. He came and helped to get it all set it up for me. Aside from my weeding skills, which could stand some improvement, it has been a great experience. I've learned a lot and look forward to an even better harvest next year. We had a great spring harvest with fresh spinach and lettuce every day. Then, we went on to enjoy squash, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes. And now, we are still up to our elbows in tomatoes. These last several weeks have been filled with zucchini bread, tomato sandwiches and lots of freezing the squash and tomatoes. At the same time, my husband and kids have been picking blackberries off of our land about every third day, expecting a yummy cobbler in return. I found the BEST cobbler recipe... and I don't think we will ever be satisfied with any other cobbler! It is a winner.

I believe the blackberries are gone now. But the yellow squash, tomatoes, and okra show no signs of slowing down. I show signs of slowing down, though. Ha! Harvesting just went from fun to another chore. But I am so happy that I will be able to pull stewed tomatoes out of the freezer all winter long. I have loved having a garden.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...