Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, I had it almost completely done and...well, it vanished. God is in the deleted blog posts, right?!? ;)

We had a wonderful history year last school year. Making our own plans was a bit cumbersome, but very worth it. This year, we are continuing with the second year of U.S. History. When I sat down to plan the year I assumed like last year we would use The Complete Book of U.S. History as a spine and add in lots of books... However, as I sat down to look it over, I realized that The Complete Book of U.S. History took more of a "social history" turn that we would have liked in the second half. I scoured the shelves and settled on the Veritas Press 1815 to Present cards as a spine. I looked through all the usual lists (Sonlight, TOG, BP) and picked some nonfiction books to provide a great spine alongside the VP cards with The Complete Books of U.S. History to fill in any gaps.

Here is the link to the schedule: U.S. History Year 2 Overview/Schedule

After last year, I have discovered that we really enjoy studying history in chronological units-- for this year, we will be studying the following units:

U.S. History Year 2 Chronological Units:

I. Westward Expansion (1830's-1850's)
II. The Civil War (1840-1870)
III. The U.S. Grows (1865-1900)
IV. Changes (1890-1920)
V. Trouble (1914-1945)
VI. New Frontiers (1950-present)

I picked my topics/units, lined up the VP cards, assigned The Complete Book of U.S. History (though we will most likely only use this when we don't have other resources on hand for the topic), added living books, hands on notebooking, and unit projects. I also scheduled any of the NEST history DVD's we happened to have on hand, but they are not necessary.

Veritas Press cards 1815-Present
The Complete Book of U.S. History

Remember the Alamo
Buffalo Bill
If Your Traveled West in a Covered Wagon
Clara Barton
If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War
If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman
Bully for You Teddy Roosevelt
If Your Name was Changed at Ellis Island
The World Wars
The Story of Ruby Bridges
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr.

Many of the Sonlight Core E Readers and Read Alouds are scheduled as well. (These can be seen on the schedule.) I scheduled both upper grammar and lower grammar readers (from Sonlight), but not every week has a lower grammar reader. I added what I had on the shelves for my 2nd grader from the SL grade 2, 3, and 4/5 readers that applied to the time period. We will just fill in with the rest whatever he wants to read.

A note about read alouds. Many read alouds are scheduled. We will not read all of them. I am adventurous in my planning, but try to be realistic in my expectations. We will get behind and end up skipping some. Some we will read over the summer, some will remain unread for future use. It is what it is. We are currently 4 weeks into this schedule and still only reading the first scheduled read aloud. It happens. Review weeks (which are scheduled three times throughout the schedule) are great read aloud catch up weeks.

Last year we discovered interactive notebooking. Basically similar to History Pockets or Lapbooking, but you do projects, activities, and interactive notebooking pages that get put into a 3 ring binder, providing you with a wonderful "scrapbook" from your history studies.

Hands on History Pioneers
Hands on History Civil War
Scholastic Interactive maps
TruthQuest History binder builder (American History year 3)
TQ Memory cards and maps (American History-- second half of year 2 and year 3)
VP 1815-Present Teacher's Manual (I used a few of the projects from here, but not many and it is not necessary if you do not have it).

(The Hands on Histories and the Scholastic Interactive maps were purchased during the Scholastic $1 sale). 

Here are a few samples of what the kids have done so far this year:



Projects. I both love them and hate them. My kids love love love them. I love the idea of them, but find that I struggle to actually get them done. Last year we planned one project per unit, and bought a "kit" for as many of those as possible. Amazingly, this way they get done!

I. Westward Expansion (1830's-1850's)-- Covered Wagon, pan for gold
                                               Here is the completed Covered Wagon Project.

II. The Civil War (1840-1870)-- Freedom Quilt (using patterns found online, we will make mini quilts using felt and glue)
III. The U.S. Grows (1865-1900)-- Grow peanuts, make homemade peanut butter
IV. Changes (1890-1920)-- Wright Brothers model airplanes
V. Trouble (1914-1945)--Photojournal of the Great Depression (include recipes and choose one to make)
VI. New Frontiers (1950-present) Man on the Moon diarama

One of the main areas I knew we needed to work on was in review. I have not seen a whole lot of retention in previous years history studies which while it is to be expected from young children, it can still be disheartening.

Timeline Cards
The timeline cards from last year helped significantly and I planned to do them again, until I stumbled on the TruthQuest History timeline cards which were well priced and wonderful. I printed them on cardstock, laminated them, and cut them out. Quite the project, but they are a huge hit so far!


Veritas Press Teachers manual
The VP teacher's guide has worksheets and tests for each card. While I don't have my kids fill them out, they make wonderful jumping off points for discussions and are great for oral review.

History is getting more fun and more engaging every year. The kids love the VP memory song, the timeline games, the hands on history notebooking, and I love all the books. As long as I don't get caught up in trying to do it all, we should be great!

Ready for a great year of U.S. History Year 2!

It's Monday, starting the second week of school. Two kids sit around the kitchen table working on math worksheets, one pretends to sleep in the next room... It is calm, peaceful. . .quiet . . . mornings like these are great. They are just not very usual. Actually they are downright practically nonexistent. In fact by the end of typing that sentence the peaceful moment was gone. It has taken me 10 minutes to write that sentence because of the chaos that can ensue in .2 seconds around here.

I have a type A personality. As in AAA. I appreciate organization and a good plan. As the youngest of 6 children I am no stranger to chaos, and I can appreciate it even, but there are certain areas of my life I like organized and planned. Books and homeschooling fall into this part of my life.

My oldest has inherited my bent for perfectionism. It can get ugly.

A wonderful morning can easily be derailed by a glass of milk spilled all over the table. Normally perhaps no big deal, but add a laptop, an ipad, an iphone, and several hundred dollars of curriculum and . . . yup. Chaos. Chaos derails peace. I feel flustered, frustrated, agitated, and often angry over seamlessly small things.  I am not proud of these moments. Too many of these moments have left me ashamed and defeated. I have allowed circumstances to steal joy and peace too often.

This summer I spent some time reading and listening to speakers online. The message was constant: Learn to find peace in the chaos. I read Teaching From Rest: A Homeschoolers Guide to Unshakeable Peace,  a WONDERFUL book I would recommend to any homeschool mom. Such a good word! I was all poised for a RESTFUL and PEACEFUL experience in our homeschool this year.

And then <enter children> real life, didn'tgetthememotoberestful children.

Day one went pretty well. Day two ok. Day three rough and day 4 downright horrible. I was sending SOS texts to my husband, ready to send my 2nd grader to school...locking myself in the bathroom. Why? Ummm I think it involved clocks. You know past/ many hours from 3am to 9pm....yup. Craziness. How can something so simple go so . . . wrong. There was no peace. No restful teaching. Only chaos. I was defeated. I was so upset with myself. I had such unmet high expectations...of myself.

My printer kept going offline the entire two weeks before school I was printing and planning. The first week of school it was still an issue. A working printer is a major necessity in our homeschool. I was sending frustrated texts to my husband. Why have you not fixed this? What is the issue? I need a new printer!

I listened to a short audio this summer that was wonderful-- "Why Homeschool?" . . . (a few theological issues if you are not Catholic, but hey! The point was great) where the speaker talked about how God is in the spilled milk. We often get frustrated by things like spilled milk (or broken printers . . . or kids who can't tell time) and focus on how the distraction is "taking us away" from what we have to do. However, the speaker states that God is the author of the spilled milk. The spilled milk, the broken printer, the child staring blankly at the window-- that is what God had planned for that moment. The broken printer is God's will for my life at that moment.

Who am I to get frustrated or angry at God's will? Who am I to question the perfect will of the sovereign God? The same God that controls the wind and the waves controls the spilled milk and the dysfunctional printer. I am called to rest in His sovereignty. The chaos that all too often reigns? The distractions. The unavoidable yet unwelcomed hiccups in the day? Embrace them. God doesn't care whether or not we finish the math page, but he does care about how I treat His children. He cares about the relationship. And so do I.

Prayerfully approaching today with diligence, grace, and rest . . . even though the printer is still broken.

I cannot believe we started our new school year last week. I usually start planning the next school year before the current one even begins and then tweak the plan along the way. As we begin the 2014-2015 school year, this is the line up that made the cut (subject to change at any moment of course!):


4th Grade


Math Mammoth 4B-5A (starting the year with a lot of review before we jump in using the Math Mammoth review books)


First Language Lessons 4 

CAP Writing and Rhetoric Narrative 1 (for the Fall, unsure where we will go for the spring)

Rod and Staff Spelling (finish 4 and move onto 5)
Evan Moore daily reading comprehension

2nd Grade


Math Mammoth 2B-3A


Writing with Ease 2

First Language Lessons 2

Handwriting without Tears 2 

All About Spelling 2 (move to 3 when we finish)

Sonlight readers



ASK Science Kits (Weather, Matter, & Human Body) with the Usborne Encyclopedia, notebooking, and videos.

U.S. History Year 2/Modern (a mix of Veritas Press, Sonlight, and TruthQuest)
Outside science and history classes 1x a month


Sara Jordan's Bilingual Songs/ Duolingo (E)

Bible Study Guide for All Ages year 3


Singapore Math Essentials

All About Reading Pre-level

Handwriting without Tears Pre-K

Five in a Row vol. 1 (very lightly)

2014-2015 Curriculum

by on 9:09 AM
I cannot believe we started our new school year last week. I usually start planning the next school year before the current one even begins ...
We just completed our first day NOT back to school. This summer seriously flew by and even up to last night I had my doubts about actually going through with starting school today. I am glad we did, as we had a successful first day. Well, no one cried and I didn't lock myself in a bathroom so that counts as a success, right?!?

J was literally jumping up and down last night in excitement and anticipation of school today. E was excited too, though a little more subdued. C-- well, he just assumes the euphoric world of summer Wii and Legos continue forever . . .

They all were up and dressed early and we jumped into a lesson of Bible Study Guide for all Ages. (The intermediate lessons take so long, I have negotiated with myself to be content with half a lesson a day.) ;)

After Bible, we ventured into the first day of school pic adventure. I refused to get frustrated over first day pics so they are what they are! ;) (oh and it was starting to rain so it was a quick point and shoot!)

E started the day at the piano at 8:30 while C and J played a bit.  We all started Bible at 9:00 and the morning ensued a rather fast paced revolving door of mom's attention. J's first day of Pre-K 4 was an amazing success as even now she is in the other room drawing the Yangtze River and a house boat, though school for the day is done.

C escaped to his Legos just after 2 when the final Spanish Greetings review was completed. E is finishing up her day reading a few chapters from American Girl Meet Kirsten. J is walking around saying si, por favor (yeah, no context whatsoever, but hey! It's cute!)

It's funny, I assured myself we would not be a slave to the schedule today...we would take it how it went and be relaxed (this year my homeschool goal is "teaching from rest" and yet, amazingly everything on the plan got accomplished, and though I am deliriously tired, I think everyone is still smiling. That may never happen again, but I will take it today.

It felt like a long day . . . J played most of the day but had just enough interaction with me to keep her content and engaged, but C worked consistently until lunch and then after a little break finished out history, Spanish, and a read aloud. E's only break was lunch and she just walked down the stairs to end her day...8:30-2:45. Since that includes piano, read aloud, and lunch-- I imagine it is as realistic as we are going to be for 4th grade. (I do assume we will get more efficient as time goes by.) Unfortunately that only leaves 45 minutes until she heads off to 3.5 hours of gymnastics. Busy kid!

4th grade, 2nd grade, and Pre-K 4 are under way!

How about a FREE PRINTABLE for your first day of school. Don't forget to leave a comment, I would love to hear about your first day adventures!


I have often pondered this topic-- Challenge vs Confidence. However, it has remained only a thought process up until this point, with no move make steps to improve how we do it.

One of the major benefits of homeschooling is going at your child's pace-- not being boxed in by a grade or label. Need to accelerate? Great. Need to slow down? Absolutely.

Somewhere during second grade, being a year ahead in math started to be a problem. So we slowed down to about a semester "ahead." That has worked pretty well up until this point. E is challenged, but not defeated.

Writing was another area of struggle. We backed up and found a new groove. Better. Challenged but not crying. Success.

Or maybe not so successful?

E is doing very well academically. Reading at an accelerated grade level, doing math at a higher level, almost a full year ahead in spelling.

My goal has always been find the more rigorous online and local schools and aim for that level of academic work as long as they are able.

She is doing that. But at what cost?

Yes, while she is excelling, if you ask her she will say she is not. She will say "I'm not good at math" or even "I'm horrible at it."

I remember my elementary school experience. While there were challenging moments here and there, I remember mostly feeling success. Feeling "smart." Things were mostly easy for me.

That feeling of accomplishment and confidence is lacking for E. And I want to head it off for C before we get to that point.

I need to find the balance of challenging my children, while still allowing them to feel successful and proud of their accomplishments. Confidence is critical.

I am not sure exactly how I will do this or exactly what it will look like, but I know I am intensely aware of the need to build up my kids and offer them more outlets to build confidence. Not make things easy for them-- I have no desire to build false confidence. Affirmation alone is not cutting it. I tell them all the time how smart they are and how great they are doing. However, they don't feel smart because all of their schoolwork tells them differently. They have to work at it therefore they must not be smart. If they were smart -- it would be easy, right?  When it gets easy we speed up...and move on. Sometimes this is ok. Sometimes, we just need to feel confident. Sometimes it's ok to do something "easy."

I want to encourage and affirm their hard work and diligence...with something other than harder work.

I had serious lofty expectations of summer. You know-- keep up on reading and math. OK. Maybe my expectations were not very high at all. But you know the old saying reach for the moon and land in the clouds? Well, we aimed a little too low and got the ground...

I remember back to the days when I was a kid...summer break did not involve Summer Bridge books. You didn't have to work all summer to not be "behind" in the new school year. And yet, things have changed. Usually we look at summer as a time to tread water-- not necessarily tackle anything new, but just not lose ground. It's a solid goal for us. One I still maintain. I just didn't hit it this summer. The best laid plans and all that...

I feel like I failed summer. I was going to have the kids do a Bravewriter project about our trip in May...and take numerous trips to the library, and read all those great read alouds we didn't get to last year. Nope. Didn't happen. In fact I only know my 7 yo hasn't forgotten how to read because he regularly reads Wii instructions. Go ahead and laugh. Pathetic. I know. Hey, we went to the library once.

Truth is ... I needed the break. Summer got crazy and got away from us. Hubby and I kicked off the summer with a cruise...just adults. Lovely. Needed that. Got back and he left for a work/mission trip. He got back, I left with my oldest for kids camp. We got back and I left for a weekend with some friends. Got back, hubby left on another mission trip. He got back and sheesh. It was almost July. Two weeks of tennis camp for the older two and -- summer is almost gone. I blinked and just about missed it. 

We didn't get done all that I had planned, (or any of it) and perhaps there was more chaos than I prefer, but I am very grateful for the break. I needed it. Every bit of it. 

We are headed into the homestretch-- 2 weeks until our start date.  A new school year. I have begun the grind of planning and printing and printing some more...organizing and vision casting for the new year. It's overwhelming at times, but I love the planning process. I love looking ahead and prayerfully considering our goals and focus for the upcoming school year. 

I am excited about things to come. I can't say I was excited in May. Perhaps the summer wasn't a complete failure after all...

Failing Summer?

by on 5:02 PM
I had serious lofty expectations of summer. You know-- keep up on reading and math. OK. Maybe my expectations were not very high at al...
Yesterday was Mother's Day.

Mother's Day is supposed to be the day to celebrate Moms and the effort and sacrifice they make for their families. But why is it that the only one often not celebrating is mom? I can't imagine I am alone as I receive wonderful homemade cards from my children and eloquent words of praise from my husband and yet, internally...I battle.

I don't deserve the praise...

I am constantly falling short...

I want to be so much more....

The truth is I never measure up to my own expectations.

I have often read that "good enough" is "good enough." But for this type A mama, good enough is NOT good enough. I want to be great. I strive for supermama status. And I fall short. Every day. Every hour. And then I feel like a failure.

I often think I am failing my kids or my husband or God. But truly the only one who really thinks I am failing is me.

Oh sure, I make plenty of mistakes. Say the wrong thing, yell too much, don't take the opportunity to heap praise...sure I am guilty of all of those things. But I have realized I spend too much time defeated. Too much time focused on my weaknesses.

This week I was studying Hebrews 11-- the "Hall of Fame of Faith." The "Heroes of the Faith."

I had a sort of revelation as I was reading, and God thoroughly rocked my thoughts and expectations of myself. We all look up to the heroes of the faith, some of those listed include -- Noah, Abraham, Rahab, Samson, David. . . Noah-- the righteous naked drunk....Abraham who doubted and laughed at God-- the lying polygamist. Rahab the prostitute, Samson the fool in love, and David the adulteress murderer, yet still called a "man after God's own heart."

Talk about a ragtag group of heroes. Yet, God calls them such a "great cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 12. `But see, that's just it. Hebrews 11 celebrates the faith of these men and woman and Hebrews 12:2 declares their faith (the very thing they are being celebrated for) to be the result of Jesus-- the "author and perfecter of our faith." We don't celebrate these righteous sinners for what they did or didn't do or who they were or weren't; we celebrate them for what Jesus did in them.

And oh how that thrills my soul. For you see my friend, I will never be a great enough to be a celebrated mom or a celebrated wife or a celebrated Christian...but I pray that others celebrate Christ's work within me-- that I may celebrate Christ's work within me. God celebrates the weak, and the wounded because through them he is exalted and does great things. Not because of us, but because of Him.

It's not about our successes.

Thank the Lord.

I have not succeeded in any area like I intended...He celebrates our pursuit of Him. The pressure of this Pinterest perfect world is great...but I am oh so glad that ultimately, our success is not based on if we are "good enough" . . . I can go ahead and admit defeat there...I'm not. However, may I always be found in pursuit of godliness instead of goodness. For there I find peace and joy...resting in His greatness instead of wallowing in my weakness.
Every time I have ever considered doing this, I have not for some reason or another. Either the day ended up not being "typical" or I got too busy to record the day or it was a terrible day, etc. I decided that waiting for a "normal" day may never happen...So here it is. A Day in the Life...


8:08 wake up. Well, not on my own.  A little one climbed in to snuggle. After a few minutes I force myself up, check email and FB, do my quiet time and get ready for the day.

8:55 Call J, get her dressed, brush her teeth and maybe be slightly loud enough in the kids bathroom to wake the sleeping E. C is up, dressed, room is cleaned and he is playing quietly in his room. Love that kid.

8:58 Remind E that her room is a wreck and shouldn't ever look like that.

9:00 Start Breakfast. Strange multitasking -- scramble eggs while cutting C's fingernails over the kitchen garbage.

9:11 Call from the husband-- "Morning, are you downstairs?" (yup, checking up on me-- trying to start the day downstairs by 9!) ;)

9:20 Eat breakfast.

9:30 Bible. Read from Egermeier's Bible story book about Moses and the Burning bush, catechism questions from Big Truths for Little Kids, and character cards from We Choose Virtues. E: Mom, what is rowdy? C: Are we rowdy? Me: Ummmm....yes? ;)

9:55 Table chores (C is on vacuuming, and E is on wiping the table this week. J pushes in the kitchen chairs.)

10:00 "5 Minute pick-up" Everyone picks up everything they can and put it away for the duration of 5 minutes. I clean the kitchen.

10:05 E practices piano. C starts on handwriting -- copying words. J: Can I play an activity? (she has certain toys and games she can only play during school time). I tell her in a few minutes when I am done cleaning up from breakfast. The shiny new Sonlight catalog is sitting on the island taunting me...

10:06 Looking out the glass door, J declares it is great weather to go camping. (There are black clouds and a storm is brewing.) C- "You know what I don't like about camping? Packing." Me "focus C. J, leave C alone to do his school work.

10:08 More discussion about camping. Me "C, focus. J, shhhh!"

10:10 Camping talk continues. OK, need to take the kids camping apparently. Me "C, focus. J, shhhh!"  Give J a job to do. J: "Mommy, can you get me an activity?"

10:11 C "I am almost finished with this book! Oh wait, maybe not." Me: "C, focus. don't flip pages, stay on the one you are on."

10:20 I finally get J an "activity" (Memory) and join C at the table. I ask C to pick 3 letters on his page he thinks he should redo. Handwriting is completed and we move onto math.

10:30 E finishes piano and joins us at the table. C "E, I am already on my 3rd thing!" Me: "C, focus!"

10:31  E "oooh, I like this handwriting page! I get to color!" C "Lucky! that's easy!" Me: "Focus!"

10:40 E moves onto spelling. She is working on Lesson 18 of Rod and Staff 4.
I say "Focus, please" at least 40 more times.

10:48 J: "Mommy, can you get me another activity?" Of course she wants one that is not opened yet- Zingo Numbers. I pass that shiny Sonlight catalog on the counter again...

10:53 C finishes math. We start reading. All About Reading Phonogram flashcards. After 2 cards, C yells "WAIT!" and leaves the table for a drink of water. C bounces on the bench while answering and calls out the sounds in voices. He will need a break soon. He's answering in opera now...

11:10 E declares she can't do anymore spelling on her own. I ask her to move onto math while I continue working with C.

11:19 spent the last 10 minutes finishing reading with C while helping J clean up the activity that she decided she didn't want to do.

11:20 off to the the couch so C can read a book to me. He is reviewing and reading easy books for confidence and fluency since we just completed All About Reading 3. He is currently reading Mouse Tales.

11:25 J joins us on the couch in my lap, and C reads to us both.

11:30 J and C go take a break. I face a sad E who is frustrated and needs help.

11:44 Finish spelling with E (she had to finish yesterday's as well) and help with math

11:58 Have a chat with E about attitude. Threaten the rest of the day in her room if she can't get it together.

12:10 E's math is finished. Call C back to the table to continue.
C thinks he is a fly and the glass door is a fly trap, and flings himself onto it. Whatintheworld?!? Send E off to read. Negotiate that she can read one chapter now and one while waiting for her sister at gymnastics. C gets distracted and starts playing the pencil drums. E walks around and after being unable to find a quiet place comes back for direction. I send her to the back porch. C shares how he really wants a real drum set. I help E who disconnected the lock on the glass door. C is back to drumming.

12:15 I do a Writing with Ease lesson with C.

12:20 I ask C to write his name and date on the paper which sparks him to go change the block calendar and bring it to the table to copy.

12:21 I remind C that only the M in March is capitalized, I erase the A-R-C-H and he writes it again-- in lower case.

12:22 I bang my toe on a chair and squeal to which C giggles and J rushes out to see what happened. C is back to drumming.

12:23 First Language Lessons with C. C marches around the table while quoting Mr. Nobody. J pipes in from the other room to join in the recitation.

12:26 Ask Caden to put his drumstick err pencil down.

12:32 Finish language. While I get out spelling, C starts drumming again. This time with 2 "drumsticks." I confiscate the unnecessary "drumstick."

12:35 Erase a messy word -- the pencil he has doesn't have a good eraser, I am forced to return the other "drumstick--" with a warning for its use.

12:38 E finishes her reading and comes in. I instruct her to begin her writing.

12:42 C jumps up to leave the table. When I ask where he is going he says to the bathroom. I ask him to come back and finish the word I just called out. He does, begrudgingly, while dancing around.

12:44 Me "did you wash your hands" C nods. Me  "with soap?" He shakes his head, and I point back to the bathroom.

12:45 Back to spelling. E needs to do a narration and asks if she can tell it to herself. I offer her my phone to do it as a voice recording that I can check later. C is now performing a concert on the bench. "Focus."

12:52 J comes in with some pieces for her magnetic dolls house and screws, I ask her to put them on the counter for another day. She is now singing in the kitchen.

12:53 E: "J!" J turned out the light in the dining room while E was in there. J assures her it was the Tickle Monster. C says she is like the Boy who Cried Wolf.

12:59 I let spelling take too long so we could "finish the step." I am now frustrated and he asks to go play to which I agree. E comes in to see how much she needs to do. I work on writing with her.

1:04 E is still staring blankly at the page and I threaten bodily harm.

1:05 I inform her that her time is running out and if she does not complete her school work before we have to leave she will not be going to gymnastics today. <insert weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth>.

1:08 I ask the littles to play a little quieter.

1:14 E finishes writing. I start making lunch. C and E clean off the kitchen table. I ask J to clean up the Legos. I pass that Sonlight catalog taunts me.

Is it seriously only 1:15???

1:20 J comes in crying because C stepped on her. I ask, "Why were you lying on the floor? I thought you were cleaning up the Legos?" She informs me that C told her to lie on the ground and he then proceeded to step on her. I call for C. C comes in with his head down proclaiming he is the "worst." We have a chat about mean choices and he is told after school he will spend some time in his bed before free play. He apologizes to J.

1:25 sitting down to lunch. J "I thought we were going to have something fast like peanut butter and jelly?" Me: "This is what we are having if you want to eat." I use lunch time to get online for a few minutes. I consider taking the Sonlight catalog and hiding in the bathroom, but instead I set up the laptop for science.

1:40 E and C do table chores and I take J to read a book and put her down for a nap. I go to put up a load of laundry only to realize the load of towels has been in the wash too long and needs to be rerun.

1:45 E and C get started on science. I come down after a few minutes of cuddling with J and help them with the experiments. My fingers are now red from food dye.

2:10 We finish and clean up from science. I direct the kids to clean up the few toys left out from the pre-lunch clean up.

2:13 Settle on the couch with our current read aloud: The Story of Eli Whitney.

2:14 J starts crying. I go up to check on her. She heard a noise. I assured her it was just the washing machine or the bathroom fan. She insists it was the sound of a flip flop. I cuddle her for a minute. She is still scared. I pray with her and kiss her goodnight.

2:18 Back to the couch to read.

2:35 finished two chapters. C is sent for quiet time to read in his bed. E goes to gather her things for gymnastics this afternoon, change, and play for a few minutes. I finish cleaning the kitchen.

2:42 I finally sit down with the Sonlight catalog. Get distracted by email and FB.

3:00 Tell C and E to clean up and get ready to go

3:05 Wake J to go to gymnastics.

3:10 Attempt to leave the house. E "What do I have for break (for tonight at gym)?" Me: "You can have a granola bar." C "I want a granola bar! Can I have a granola bar???" J "I want a granola bar! Can I have a granola bar???" E "What can I have for snack now?"  Me: "Have a couple of pretzels." C "I want a pretzels! Can I have a pretzels???" J: "I want a pretzels! Can I have a pretzels???"

3:15 snacks procured and we are now late for gymnastics. On the way to gym we listen to the States and Capitals CD.

3:35 At gym E and C each do 10 minutes of and E reads a second chapter finishing her book. C then plays for the remainder of the time and E stands around annoying me who is FINALLY getting to look at that Sonlight catalog.

4:45 Finish gym, have a chat about behavior at the gym with J, leave E for her practice (5:00-8:30) and head to pick up my new glasses.

5:50 Home. Finally. I start dinner, and send C to take a shower.

6:00 Put the pasta on, set my phone timer and race upstairs to give J a shower. Finally get a chance to switch those towels in the dryer and get a load of laundry up.

6:12 Back down to work on dinner. C and J play upstairs.

6:30 eat dinner and clean up (kids do table chores and I clean the kitchen).

6:50 J asks to play a "game" because I didn't get a chance to do "school" with her this morning. I agree. We do All About Reading Pre-Level lesson "E" and a page in Handwriting Without Tears Preschool book.

7:10  She doesn't want to be done so we do some counting on the abacus.

7:17 J is distracted by C who has set up Candy Land at the table. I am free while they play. Woohoo! Time to crash on the couch and do some blogging.

7:45 Have the kids clean up and head to ready for bed.

8:00 Bedtime for the two littles! I work on some emails...

9:00 E and hubby get home, eat dinner

9:20 Send a very tired gymnast upstairs to get ready for bed.

9:36 R prays and sings with E

Done. Done. Done. 

I get to sit and continue planning curriculum for next year . . . or maybe read a book! I have laundry to fold and things to clean...but yeah, no, thanks.

We are on spring break, and it has been an eye opening experience.

My husband is out of the country, and while it certainly is so much easier at my children's current ages than it has been the last few years... temporary single parenting still isn't "easy."

One of the major reasons we homeschool is to build Christian worldview and godly character in our children. As homeschoolers we are faced with our children's character flaws, personality quirks, and attitudes, day in and day out. Being around our kids all day can often be overwhelming and the tendency to overlook becomes a challenge. Public and private school friends, the physical time you have to identify and address those character flaws is less. As Christian parents we have a huge responsibility.

Whether you send your children to school or homeschool, routine and busyness often forces us to push forward to the next thing and often rush right over that character issue that should have stopped us dead in our tracks.

Spring Break is a pause, a comma in the routine. We get to spend time with our kids, to enjoy them -- or not.

By Wednesday of this week, as I walked into church, I changed up the routine and dropped off my youngest at nursery first. Why? I was done. I wasn't sure she would physically survive walking upstairs and back down ...or maybe I wouldn't. As I said to one of the volunteers, "all of my buttons are broken. Nothing left to push. All broken." 

Deep breath.

With my husband out of town and no school routine, I decided we would embrace spring break and try to do a fun activity every day.

On Monday after a trip to Sky Zone (a trampoline park) and a lunch at Outback, I almost lost my mind when my kids yell from the back "Ice cream! Can we go there?!?"

My kids are great kids...but they can be selfish, ungrateful, greedy . . . just like any kid. But just because all kids  (and adults!) possess these traits, does not make it ok. In fact, it is sin.

But honestly, I am often too busy to even see so many character issues in my kids, let alone take the time necessary to correct them. Character training is hard work. And time consuming. And often painful.

Spring break and other changes in the routine allow us a window into the character of our kids -- a character reality check.

It's Friday, and you know what? I like my kids more today than I did on Monday. It's been a little bit of character boot camp around here, but there is less screaming...less fighting...more gratefulness. And for that, I am grateful. We still have lots of work to do, but I am embracing opportunities.

Next week brings back the routine, and I look forward to that, but I am thankful for pauses that allow us to enjoy our children-- truly enjoy them-- and allow us to take the time to assess how we can help them be more like Christ. Embrace every opportunity to invest in the character of your children.
In just a few minutes my kids will be waking up and readying for the day. Today will start as a normal morning, however, we are going to have a talk that will change that. Today I plan to introduce my children to the topic of Modern Day Slavery.

Today, February 27, is the day chosen by The End It Movement to shine the light on modern day slavery.

My kids are 8, 6, and 4.

The themes of forced labor and sexual exploitation are a little too heavy for their little hearts aren't they?

No. It will be a hard discussion, a painful one, but it must be had.

 Raise awareness, raise compassion, raise action.

And honestly, the theme is not as foreign to them as you would think.

We have had the "stranger danger" talks. The awareness of risk is known.

However, beyond that, my children know the stories of the Israelites in Egypt, and the story of Joesph sold into slavery as a boy... slavery is not unknown to them. Today, I will just bring it a little closer to home.

I didn't plan to share this with my children today. I did plan to participate in the End It Movements awareness campaign of marking my hand with a "red X," but I assumed I would share very little about that with my children.

The Lord had other plans. I have been up for hours reading and scouring the internet about how to teach your children about modern day slavery.

First, The WHY.

Why would I share this with young tender hearts?

It is real.

27 million ya'all. 27 million modern day slaves across the globe. That is staggering. It cannot be ignored. It is happening in our own neighborhoods. We cannot deny the reality. Ignoring it won't make it go away. We need to be praying. Our kids need to be praying. We need to be doing something.

Awareness reduces risk

We are all familiar with telling our kids about risks like kidnapping or "bad touch," telling them the real words for body parts to increase detection in cases of abuse. Human trafficking and slavery is no different. I have heard testimonies of young girls rescued from slavery to only then realize they were a victim. I want my children, in age appropriate ways, to know the risks. To be aware. Being aware and cautious, having your eyes wide open, reduces risks.

Awareness produces Compassion

It is my hearts desire to raise children passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus was consumed with those in need. Everywhere He went he healed the sick, made the lame to walk, and the blind to see. He had compassion. Awareness of modern day slavery will open our eyes to the reality, the need, and in turn stir in us a compassion for those in need of rescue.

Compassion produces Action

Knowing is not enough. William Wilberforce once said, "You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know." True compassion stirs action. We need to pray for these precious children of God. We must research what we can do. It may be a small part, but we must play a part. 

  • Research products and companies entrenched in slave labor
  • Find local, national, and international organizations fighting modern day slavery and join them. Volunteer, give. 
  • Raise Awareness
  • Like International Justice Mission and End It on Facebook to be kept aware of what is going on and how you can help. 

How to tell our children about modern day slavery:

  • Be age appropriate. If your child doesn't know what sex is, you won't go into the details of sex trafficking. Know your kids, their maturity, and what they can handle. 
  • Keep it simple. Don't overwhelm them. Share enough to understand, but not too much at once. Be discerning. 
  • Children, Home, and Family. These are themes children of all ages know and understand. Tell them about slavery from a perspective they will understand. 
  • Use real stories. Share with them one of the many survivor stories online. This makes it real, and also let's them know there is hope. Be selective, and share what you think is enough but not too much. For young children, this can be a face and a name along with "was a slave. She was forced away from her family. She wasn't allowed to go to school or play. But someone helped her get free." 


How to Talk to Your Kids About Modern Day Slavery is a great article by Simple Homeschool that outlines how to tell kids of each age about modern day slavery. 

5 Tips for Teaching Your Kids About Modern Day Slavery offers some practical tips on how to help parents involve their children in the fight against slavery.

Modern Day Slavery by Numbers is very informative on the facts and reality of the situation.

End It Movement

International Justice Mission

Today, as for me and my family, we will take a stand against injustice. We will mark our hands with a red X as a symbol of our families fight to raise awareness, compassion, and action for those without a voice. 
The Cave.

That's what I have labeled it. -- My emotional hideout.

It started months ago . . .some unfortunate circumstances. An emotional crash.

I have spent months picking up the pieces.

At one point my wonderful counselor husband threatened when I expressed my desire to re-enter the cave, "No! I have put scorpions in the cave. No going back."

Every time I think I am taking a step forward, something happens and I end up back at the entrance of the cave.

Self confidence. Gone. Self Doubt. Welcome.

I have doubted my ability in everything.

My ability to be a good wife.

My ability to be a good mother.

My ability to homeschool.

My ability to be a good friend.

My ability to be Christlike.

I have struggled. No. I am struggling.

I am in the midst of a difficult place. I am my own biggest critic.

I will never be the wife I want to be.

I will never be the parent I want to be.

I will be the homeschool mom I want to be.

My house will never be Pinterest perfect.

I will always fail my family and friends.

I will never be as "holy" and "righteous" as I desire.

I have slowed down, even stopped blogging for times... I mean, do I really have anything to contribute?

My emotions are raw and vulnerable. I have closed out people I once considered friends. I no longer felt safe in relationships.

It is in these times of doubt that I must cling to Truth, whether I want to believe it or not. Satan desires nothing more than self defeating talk to immobilize us from doing that which God has called us to do.

He has called me to be a wife.

He has called me to be a mother.

He has called me to homeschool.

He has called me to be a friend.

He has called me to Himself.

There are no qualifiers in the call. No ratings I must reach. I know I must take my eyes off of the failures and onto Christ alone. He has called me and He is sanctifying me. He is aware of my shortcomings and has still called me.

I may not be living up to my own expectations, but I am living up to His. He accepts me where I am, and is constantly molding me more to Himself. I am oh so glad he does not give up on me as easily as I give up on myself.

I don't always believe the "truth." I am struggling with that today. I know it is truth. I believe it. I do. But sometimes I doubt...

When you doubt...stop listening to yourself. Instead, cling to truth.

Deep breath, dear friend. His mercies are new every morning.

Dealing With Doubt...

by on 10:49 AM
The Cave. That's what I have labeled it. -- My emotional hideout. It started months ago . . .some unfortunate circumstances. An emot...
Tomorrow is the day.

I have promised my little one she gets to start "school" this semester. Part of me is excited for her, and part of me thinks I have lost my mind.

I already have such a hard time fitting everything in, I can hardly imagine squeezing in another "thing." But that's just the "thing." She is not a "thing." She is my child, a precious, vivacious, joyous preschooler who deserves some of mommy's time.

No, time doesn't have to mean academic work, and I am not even saying it always will. But as sad of a parent as is makes me, I am choosing to schedule one on one time with my 3 year old because she has been slipping through the cracks... and I am not ok with that.

We started a few things here or there but have not been very consistent, so tomorrow starts a fresh slate.

J will be 4 in February. Sheesh that blows my mind. My baby isn't a baby. OK...OK, I'll dry the tears and move on.

Here is the Pre-Preschool plan--

I plan to do "school" with J 3 days a week. Probably in the range of 30 minutes a day on Tuesday/Thursday/Friday -- the "less" hectic school days for my two older ones.

A few things we have planned:

All About Reading: (pre-level)
I recommend the Basic package, but if you can add Ziggy, we love him!
We have already started this and J loves it! Ziggy the Zebra always brings a smile to her face. It has been awhile since we have done it so the plan is to start over with it this week.

Handwriting without Tears 
We plan to start the preschool book going VERY slowly, mostly focused on the manipulative play-- playdough, chalk, the iPad App "Wet Dry Try" that she loves!

Hands on Math

Right Start Abacus/cuisenaire rods

We will begin basic counting and place value using the abacus and Cuisenaire rods  (Education Unboxed has some great videos on how to use C-rods.) We will probably use this free printable book for Cuisenaire rods.

Sonlight reading lists (we don't buy the cores, just use the books lists as library lists)

P 3/4
P 4/5

A few activities we enjoy--

Melissa & Doug Alphabet stamp set
Wikki Stixs Alphabet Fun Cards
Busy Bugs Learning set
Alphabet Puzzle Cards (we don't have these, but we have similar ones)
Preschool Pinterest board of ideas

My goal is to play with her...Lots of games, lots of stories, and only when she is interested. The goal is relationship and giving her face time. If she learns something along the way, great! I want her to enjoy the learning process, and enjoy the relationship with me. I am looking forwards to playing games and enjoying her. Aside from trying to get to All About Reading regularly, I will allow her to guide the learning process. She is at such a fun age and I want to be more available to her.  Bring on Pre-Preschool!

Fresh beginnings.

Though not the beginning of our school year, January still offers a new start after a much needed break. The semester break offers time to reflect on the first semester and make any necessary changes to make the rest of the school year the best it can be.

The New Year brings a time of reflection-- a time to reassess our challenges and rejoice in our successes.

Fall Challenges

E-- Probably our biggest challenges with E are writing and lack of free time (which actually has more to do with my challenges than hers!) She is doing amazing well! We are not prioritizing writing as much as I would like, and that is one change we will make in the spring. E has been complaining recently that she only gets to "play" on the weekend. The reason for this is three-fold. 1) We are starting too late (my fault) 2) We are not as scheduled as we need to be (my fault!) and 3) She spends 13 hours a week at gymnastics (this one is all her!)

New Approach:
For writing, I plan to create a new routine and stick with it. Also, I want to have a writing focus on Fridays to work on Brave Writer projects I have not been great at fitting in. As for free play, as long as she chooses to remain in gym this won't change a lot, but I plan to do what I can in the scheduling area to maximize time.

C-- C's biggest challenge is his distractibility. He is amazingly smart, but really works best in short bursts. Since it is easier to just sit down and "knock out" all of his schoolwork, I have a hard time with this.

New Approach:
My plan is to approach schooling C differently in the spring. Focus on his strengths, and split reading into two shorter sessions a day instead of one long one. I also need to work on my own frustration and keep it positive at all times.

J-- J biggest challenge is simply that she just needs more time with me. Finally old enough to play independently, it is all too easy to send her away to play and she all too often gets ignored.

New Approach:
I have promised J she can start "school" in January. She is almost four, so instead of waiting for the new school year, we will begin her "pre-K" year. This is really less about academics and more a recognition that I need to spend more one on one time with her. Since she begs to do school, this should be a good change in our routine and grant her the time she needs.

Fall Successes

E-- E's diligence and character constantly amazes me. I am so pleased with her work ethic and continuing independence. She is about to begin Math Mammoth 4 and is reading amazingly well. She is really a delight to teach, and I am so grateful for her.

C-- C is such a hard worker with a tender heart. He is so eager to please, and cares deeply about others. He is reading well, and about one third the way through All About Reading 3-- slow and steady in his progress. He just started Math Mammoth 2A and will start spelling in the spring. He is progressing well and loves to play.

J-- J brings so much joy and laughter to our home. She is full of energy and can often be found upside down following in her big sister the gymnasts footsteps. She is showing readiness of learning to read and already has a great grasp of numbers and counting. She loves to pretend to read and be read to. Finding enough things to keep her busy mind and hands occupied is always a challenge!

Curriculum Challenges 

Bible was a bit of a fail this year. We love Bible Study Guide for All Ages, but the primary pages were no longer enough and the intermediate was too much. I now understand the need for the primary pages they are developing, but they don't currently have them for year three. Our plan for the spring is to just read through the Egermeiers Bible Story Book, use the BSGFAA Bible Summary cards, and dust off our children's catechism book we haven't used in awhile.

Curriculum Successes

I am amazed at E's progress in piano, and her talent in drawing is amazing. C's math intuitiveness constantly amazes me, as does Journey's constantly growing vocabulary and sass.

I am enjoying history more this year than ever before. Making our own plan has been well worth the effort.

Science-- Education Exploration has been a major blessing. It has been so easy to use, and the kids can do most everything by themselves.

E's favorite subject is Art, but handwriting is a close second. Amazingly, math is gaining ground. She loves reading as well

C's favorite is "copywork, then reading, math, science, and history." (His answer when asked the question!) :)

J's favorite remains Ziggy Zebra (from All About Reading). I just need to kick it into gear and get it out more! 

This year is progressing well. The last 3 weeks of break were very needed! The kids and I needed that time, and we are (almost!) ready to get back to it on Monday!

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