Wednesday, August 27, 2008

God's Masterspiece

I love nature photograpy. I've taken pictures of birds, lakes, and flowers. But my all time favorites are pictures I've taken of the sky. I love the colors of the sunset... how the blues fade into pinks and are surrounded by hints of purple and orange. It is always a breath taking sight. With each sunset the scripture comes to mind , " the Heaven's declare the glory of the Lord." Indeed they do. Here are some pictures I took this past weekend. If you enjoy these, take a look at my "God's Glory" album at myspace.

Homeschool Agenda


This week’s theme is about sharing your 2008-09 homeschool agendas and plans. You’ve been preparing your plans for sometime and you’re ready to go. Or you’re still in the planning-stage and need some inspiration or tips on what to use. Because many use different curriculum and methods there is always something new to be gleaned from other homeschoolers. It’s always fun and interesting to see what other’s are using and the WWWWH as Robin Sampson suggests. So this week I hope you will share what you’re doing this year for your homeschool agenda. Share the different curriculum you’re using. You can also include what age/grade you’re using it for, how long you’ve been using it, and why you like it. Please share a Bible verse that has encouraged you or inspired you during this planning-process, and how.

Our school day is always started with our most important curriculum: The Holy Bible. I prefer the NIV and usually read to the kids or have them read aloud from the NIrV (New International Reader's Version).

Now that Jaden and Isaac are in Kindergarten and 2nd grade, I use mostly Christian Liberty Press materials with them. They do their writing, phonics, math, and spelling all with CLP. It is very throrough, also repetitive, and is inexpensive. We are also using "History for Little Pilgrims" from Christian Liberty Press, and we enjoy the Explode the Code series. Rather than Jaden and Isaac doing Science and Social Studies separately, we have combined those subjects for them to learn together.

This year Dacey is doing 5th grade Switched on Schoolhouse. She did SOS for 3rd grade and Lifepacs for 4th grade. We opted to "switch" back to SOS this year knowing that my time would be even more difficult to divide between her and her brothers now that Isaac is also doing school and Connor is such a little wild man. I really like that it teaches her and grades her while keeping me informed of her progress. Of course, I'm available to help as she needs it. I once was told that the most important thing to teach our children was how to learn independently. Switched on Schoolhouse definitely helps accomplish that end.

As a family we enjoy using Galloping the Globe for unit studies in history and social studies and Usborne Science encyclopdia for science unit studies. Some of our best learning experiences come from these times as we study things we are interested in and then read books and do projects based on each study. This is in addition to what I've already listed above.

I have an interest in lapbooking as a result of reading many of your blogs on this theme. Maybe I could incorporate that into our GTG or our Science unit studies. It sounds like a great and creative way to learn!! I am getting excited just thinking of the possibilities!!

This year the promise that God has given to me in our homeschooling endeavor is Galatians 6:9. It says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." There are many days in this on this journey that I feel like throwing up my hands in defeat. God always reminds me that I am doing what I am doing for a purpose.. to grow and mold children after His heart. While I certainly want my children to have the best education possible, it is so much more important that they love God with all their hearts and seek to follow His will in all that they might do. If that is accomplished, everything else will pale in comparison.

This was our very first day to homeschool:
December 15, 2003

1st Day of School 5 years later

August 11, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs Week One - All About You

I've never participated in "themed"blogs before, but this seems like a pretty good way to get to know other homeschool moms. Here goes nothing!

The Rules:

The first theme begins today, August 20th, 2008. This week, we want to hear about YOU. The author behind the words. The Momma behind all the homeschooling kiddos. Just write up something about you, your family, and your home. How long you’ve been homeschooling and why you decided to homeschool. It doesn’t have to be anything lengthy at all, but we’d love to hear it! You might include a family photo too!

Tommy and I were married almost eleven years ago. Since then we have been blessed with four, amazing, wonderful gifts from God. Our only daughter, Dacey, is almost ten; Jaden is seven; Isaac is five; and Connor will turn two in two weeks.
My "first face" of homeschooling came when I was still a child. There was a family in a neighboring town who homeschooled. They were so close, so tightly bonded together, and always happy. Even as a child, I knew that I wanted for myself one day what they had then.
However, as my daughter approached her fifth birthday, I felt unequal to the task of homeschooling, and we enrolled her in a nearby public school for Pre-K. I knew that God had been calling us to homeschool, but every time it came to mind, I reminded Him of my many inadequacies. "Lord, I'm not disciplined enough or organized enough." And the list went on.
About a month into our school endeavor, Dacey's teacher called a meeting to inform me that Dacey was too hyper and would need to be "put on a pill." Knowing that my child had an excitable spirit was not news to me, but the idea that she needed to be medicated at five years old was mind boggling. A couple of more incidents followed before I finally said, "Yes, Lord, you have my attention now." So right before Christmas in 2003, we withdrew our daughter from school and started homeschooling.
It has not always been an easy road. Dacey does have a short attention span and has to repeatedly be brought back to the task at hand. Jaden started out speech delayed which made it difficult for him to hear and learn his phonics. (Praise God that Jaden is now reading on grade level! And what joy that brings to me knowing where he started!!) Isaac is just now starting Kindergarten, and thus far is doing well. This year the most challenging aspect has been for me learning to divide my time between three school children while attempting to occupy Connor. Connor is most certainly our little "wild man" and makes for an interesting morning trying to corral him as his siblings do school.
However, the benefits always seem to exceed the challenges. Our children love God with all of their hearts and seek to follow His will in their lives. They are close to one another. (Though don't get me wrong. They can throw down and fight with the best of them!) They love and respect their father and me. They have learned to be comfortable around people from every walk of life. And they have learned and enjoy ministering to others in our community.
There are two scriptures God has given me that I stand on in our homeschool journey:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2nd Corinthians 12:9
I do truly know that with God all things are possible, and I continue to be excited about where He is leading my family.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Withholding Good

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it,
when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27

My kids often come to me asking me to go and sit and do a project with them. Whether it is playing with Barbie dolls, taking a walk, or sitting down to paint, I often find "better" things I should be doing. There are clothes to be washed, dishes to be cleaned, meals to be cooked, lesson plans to prepare, and blogs to be written. I feel like I have very little "me" time. So though I am ashamed to admit it, more often than not I "put my children off."

Yesterday Isaac got a new art kit from the Dollar Tree. It was a Mickey Mouse paint set, and he was chomping at the bit wanting to get into to that thing. I'd told him if he did good on school this morning, I'd try to sit down with him this afternoon so he could paint.

Procrastination and my fear of a huge mess to clean up aside, I was true to my word and we set down to paint. Isaac shared one of the Mickey Mouse paint sheets with Jaden and we set Connor up with notebook paper. Dacey joined in after she finished her schoolwork. And we all had such a good time!

Connor had fun, but quickly tuckered out and opted for his afternoon nap:

Isaac enjoyed showing off his more colorful side:

Jaden, of course, would have preferred using the paint brush as a light saber:

And Dacey created a masterpiece, complete with a Mickey Mouse shaped cloud:

Had I followed my normal course of action and denied my children the opportunity for me to sit down with them for an hour while they did something they enjoy, we would have all missed out.

This is an area in which I intend to work harder. I try hard to create many happy memories for my children, but I have learned in regards to just normal every day things that when I "withhold good" from them, I'm really withholding the most good from myself.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Source of My Amusement

"Hannah Bat-tana"

Every family has one. You know who I'm talking about. That one person in each family that possesses the power to make you wail with laughter on days you don't even feel like cracking a smile. In our family that person would be my seven year old son, Jaden (aka Super J-Man).

Jaden has a way of making folks feel better. He is very handsome, always friendly, and always the comedian of any group. If he were in school, he would be the child titled "class clown." Jaden has had a very sharp wit from as far back as I can remember. If he was talking, he was making a joke.

A couple of his latest funnies I have decided to share here. I hope you enjoy them.

Funny #1 - After being asked to run to his baby brother's room to fetch a diaper one day recently, Jaden was somewhat slow to return. When he did finally re-enter the living room with the diaper in his hand, I asked, "Jaden, what took so long?" To which he replied, "Oh, you know? Traffic was crazy!"

Funny #2 - During a conversation explaining to Jaden that when his daddy is at work he, being the oldest male, is the "man of the house", he informed me that should he need to protect me and his siblings that he would bravely battle whatever the foe with his trusty light saber. Upon asking him, "How are you going to hurt someone with a toy light saber?", Jaden turned to me and replied, "Hellll--oooo----, I'll use the end of it and hit them over the head."

I realize that these might not sound nearly as hilarious in print as they did in the moment. But our Jaden is a firecracker! He makes me smile daily. I am so thankful that God picked me to be his momma!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On the First Day of Kindergarten, 2nd AND 4th Grade!

I spent all last week organizing and re-organizing every nook and cranny in our house down to rearranging bedrooms. Yep, we did a switch-a--roo... Dacey took our room, Jaden and Isaac took Dacey's room, and Dad and I are stuck for now in Jaden and Isaac's race car inspired room. (To be repainted VERY soon!) My kitchen (aka the school room) was spic and span clean. (Note the word was as nothing in our home ever stays spic and span clean for very long at all. My living room was picked up. And no, Jaden, I did not have to get under the house to achieve that.

All of my efforts were in preparation for today: OUR FIRST DAY OF THE 2008/2009 SCHOOL YEAR!

Today Dacey started 4th grade. This year she is once again doing Alpha Omega's Switched on Schoolhouse. We have learned from past experiences that this is indeed the curriculum from which she learns the most. Last year we used Lifepacs instead of SOS and everyday was a struggle. Our first subject of the day, Language Arts, proved to be a challenge. It took her two hours to complete. We knew at this rate she would be having a ten hour school day. So I sat with her for about an hour while she re-worked her LA . (Her grade was less than acceptable the first time around.) For whatever reason when I was seated next to her she made a 100 on her work! Go figure! Next was Math followed by Bible. She made a 100 on each of those too! You go, Girl!!! She just needed to find her groove and now she is raring to go.

Jaden started 2nd grade today. Jaden's successes always pull at my heart strings as he was kind of a "late bloomer" but once he got it, he has taken it and run with it. (For those of you don't know Jaden had some extreme speech delays that were only resolved after having tubes put in his ears and having his adenoids removed. He also had to have glasses for reading. Since having had his surgery and getting his glasses he has more than exceeded my hopes and expectations.) He zipped through his work today making 100's on every worksheet in every subject. I am so proud of him!!

And no, we are not Jewish, nor is Jaden preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. He simply had a tan baseball cap on backwards!

And my Isaac.... my precious Isaac started kindergarten today. Where has time gone?!? With each of my children that we have started on the homeschool journey with thus far, we have had some kind of obstacle to overcome. Isaac was not an exception. He is left handed. While that certainly does not hinder his learning ability, it was intimidating to this mom who has only taught right handed children to write prior to now. I googled every site I could find about teaching left handed children to write properly and was thrilled today when Isaac held his crayon correctly and learned quickly how to position his paper in a way most comfortable for him. After a few minutes of practicing, Isaac was tracing numbers and letters like a pro! He is excited to be doing "official" school work now after watching his big sister and brother doing it for most of his life. I think he will do well.

Last but certainly not least, Connor was not to be out done. He sat in his high chair for more than an hour coloring in a coloring book and playing with puzzles. You have no idea what an accomplishment this was.... Connor does not sit still!!! It goes against his nature. He is our wild child and it has been a concern for weeks how I'd corral him once school started. I hope every day with him is as easy as today.

I remember when our homeschool journey started five years ago. I don't think I ever really believed we'd be capable of surviving it this long. I often reminded God that I was inadequate to be a homeschool parent. Amazingly enough, I never quite convinced Him. For every time along the way that I have complained about my weaknesses, He has reminded me of His strengths. When I thought my children would never grasp the concept at hand, He reminded me that through Him all things are possible. When I felt at wits end, ready to pull my hair out, He has reminded me that HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT. Homeschooling is the same as anything else. There are good days, and even more often, there are bad days. Bringing this to an end I can hear Kate Gosselins words ringing in my head, "But we're a family, and we're in this together." And thank God that even more importantly, we are in this with Him!