Friday, August 28, 2009

A Little Humor for our Troubled Times

Make sure before you play this that you pause the music at the bottom of the blog. Have a great laugh...or should I say cry? At least we can keep our sense of humor in the midst of trials!

Have a blessed day!

Decision Made...Again!

As I said in a earlier post, I have been studying and praying about where the Lord would have us go in regard to school. I am pleased with many of our curricula choices, but some of them just have not given us the results that are totally satisfying to me. One of the great things about homeschooling is the flexibility to make changes and choices. But, that can be a two-sided coin and it can also be one of the most frustrating. On the one hand, there are a plethora of curricula choices for every kind of learning style imaginable. Along with that can come the feeling that this or that curriculum is better and the grass can look greener on the other side and can cause a lot of second guessing and frustration on the part of the homeschooling Mom. That is why it is so important to pray about these decisions and to make sure both Mom and Dad are on board with the curriculum choices. Many times Dad can bring a fresh perspective that Mom doesn't have because she is so close to the issue. I know that has been the case in our family. My dh, being the head of our home, has the final say when it comes to curriculum choices. He trusts me to bring to him the best researched materials I can find, and then he prays about those choices to make sure he senses that this is the direction the Lord is leading our family. Even long distance, I have given him options and ideas that I have been mulling over and he has given me the final decision on the matter. Therefore, I think we have come up with an assortment of curricula that fits our needs. I am very much of an ecletic homeschooler. I have never done a set curriculum. So, for those of you that might be the least bit is what our family is doing currently.

Bible: Rod and Staff. We will also continue reading through the Old and New Testaments. We are working on scripture memorization and beginning to learn the questions to the shorter catechism.

History: This has been the biggest change for me this year. I have decided to write out my own history curriculum for our family pulling from some of the top resources that I enjoy. I find that when I do this, I am more excited about teaching history and I am so much more knowledgeable in the subject because I have studied it more thoroughly. The downside to this is the incredible time it takes to do this. So, I will keep going as long as I possibly can. If I find out that this is not something I can accomplish (especially this year with dh deployed) then I will relinquish my lofty dream! Right now I am gathering data from the following resources: Gary DeMar's works, BJU's 11th grade text, Truthquest, Veritas Press and book lists from Sonlight.

English: I have tried many English programs...from Daily Grams to Shurley Grammar. I find that I am totally comfortable with Rod and Staff. They do a great job with being thorough. Their material is uplifting and many of their sentences even review concepts such as history and science. Lastly, the cost is so incredibly inexpensive compared to other programs that compare to them academically.

Phonics/Reading: (for Joanna and Josiah) Rod and Staff

Math: I have used Math-U-See from the beginning. Joy is getting ready to start Algebra I and I am praying about possibly switching her to Teaching Textbooks. The curriculum is costly, but what it will save me in time to be able to free me up with the smaller children may well be worth it.

Spelling: Rod and Staff

Explode the Code: (Joanna and Josiah)

Wordly Wise: Joy

Science: Joy will be going through Apologia's General Science. Josiah and Joanna will be doing the Rod and Staff science to get the basics and then will switch over to Apologia's elementary books. They will also be nature journaling.

Art: We will study an artist a week. Briefly touching on his/her life and most famous works. I will show them the work of art, give them the name and remind them of the artist. When they can tell me the name of the work and artist, we will move on to another work by that same artist and continue that pattern until we have mastered several of their works. I have not yet decided how we are going to work our actual drawing and such. I am looking into Artistic Pursuits for this, but have not made up my mind on that one yet.

Music/Composer Study: We will do the same basic thing with a composer. Telling a little about their lives and then listening to some of their most popular pieces. I am teaching Joy piano currently and hope to start Josiah very soon.

Geography: Rod and Staff and also we will be studying this while we do history. I also would like to incorporate the Holling's books to study it that way as well.

Shakespeare: I will be doing Julius Caesar with Joy this year. We will also be doing vocabulary along with this and will review the historical time period surrounding Caesar.

Handwriting: Italic

Classics will either be done through individual reading or read alouds. I am planning to incorporate some songs in here as well. I want them to learn many of the Psalms to music and some songs that correspond with the time period they are studying now.

Writing will be done some through English compositions, but mostly through narrating back what we have learned in history. Hopefully this will serve two solidify their learning and to cut down on my grading.

I am also planning on getting a regular dose of poetry in there too.

So, for now, this is our plan for this school year...which is probably WAY more than you ever cared to know. But, thanks for humoring me!

Have a blessed day in Jesus!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Joy!

I have been a little silent for the past week for several reasons. All five children caught a cold and decided to share with their mother. That would have been fine except that mine ended up turning into a killer sinus infection that just wiped me out for a while. I had to go in for antibiotics and am finally feeling somewhat normal again. I still have three more days before I finish the prescription. The second reason is my in-laws came down for a visit...arriving on Friday and leaving this morning. We had a truly lovely time with them and they were a great help during the worst part of my illness. And lastly, all my energy was being saved to help pull off a birthday party for my oldest daughter Joy. It was a lovely time and one I pray she will remember for a lifetime.

Joy took this picture of the first part of preparation with the table set. She wanted more of a tea party theme, so we did the best we could. That's me in the background getting some timothy hay for the two guinea pigs!!
These are the flowers sent by her Daddy. Of course, it was difficult not having him here, but he did all he could to make it as special as possible long distance. He sent her a lovely letter, these beautiful flowers and also called during her party....which happened to be 1 am for him. It made her feel truly special and loved by her Daddy.

Joy made lemon poppy seed muffins. We made homemade ranch dressing and had a lovely veggie tray. Aren't the colors so pretty?

This is our first attempt at making an edible bouquet. It was really fun to do. The flowers are pineapples cut from a flower cookie cutter with a cantaloupe center. The rest are white seedless grapes. Ever wonder why they call them white seedless, when they are actually green? The bottom of the bowl has a head of iceberg lettuce to hold the skewers in place with green leafy lettuce to make it look like grass.

I made some turkey salad to serve on crackers. We had cheese and some deviled eggs that my mother-in-law made and a delicious red velvet cake that my Mom brought over. However, since we don't do food coloring was more of a cream velvet!!! But, it didn't affect the taste one little bit. We served tea and had a great time.
Joy's friend Olivia came to share the special day with her, along with my in-laws, my mother and the family. It was truly a blessed day.

I am so very thankful for my dear Joy. She has been such a treasure to us and continues to be growing into womanhood so graciously. Thank you sweet girl for giving me some of the happiest years of my life being your mother!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Daily Routine for Good Health

I may have shared with you before that three of my children, as well as myself, have suffered from various sicknesses. On a quest for a more healthy lifestyle for our family, juicing was one of the first changes I ever made. I can remember when my husband was in seminary. We were literally living from paycheck to paycheck and we saved our money to buy ourselves a grain mill for grinding flour to make bread and a Champion juicer! The difference it made in my own health was incredible. Over the years, and five children later, homeschooling, military moves, deployments, etc., juicing took a backseat due to time restraints.
But, when three of my children developed asthma and my youngest two had frequent visits to the ER, keeping their immune systems healthy became a non-negotiable. So, we gave up white flour, white sugar, hydrogenated oils, regular salt, and started buying mostly organic meat. We also added many more fruits and vegetables and a salad at least once a week. Now, juicing has become a daily routine...much like getting a good multi-vitamin in the morning. Juicing does take time. You must cut the ends of the carrots, wash them, cut up the apples, oranges, strawberries and whatever else you may want to juice. I have simplified my routine by getting as many organic fruits and veggies as possible.
Before we were able to buy mostly organic, I would have to peel the top layer off the carrots to keep it as pesticide free as possible. Having organic just means a good wash under the water and they are ready to go. Still, to juice for seven of us and then clean up does take a chunk out of ones day. But, we have been greatly reaping the health benefits. Do we still get sick? You bet we do! But, we have not gotten sick as much, nor have the bouts with sickness been as long or as severe.

I usually juice for two days instead of one. The juice only lasts 24 hours. You want to be able to get as many vitamins and minerals as possible without too much oxidation going on. This was one of the final products. The small jar is my 8 ounces. The children had already drunk their juice before I took the picture. The other jar will be divided up tomorrow morning. Juicing for two days allows me to only have to clean up every other day. If you do juice and you have little ones, do not give them the full 8 ounces recommended for adults. It is too much for their little systems. I usually give them anywhere between 3 or 4 ounces depending on their age and size. My youngest is three years old. Joy, being almost 13 gets a good size portion. If you don't already juice, I encourage you to give it a try. I think you will be pleased at the difference it will make in your family. Have a blessed day!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Praying and Studying

I know I am not the only homeschooling mom that has experienced this. But, I am seemingly at a crossroads right now concerning scheduling and curriculum choice. I have had these revelations periodically during my homeschooling journey, so this is not the first time for me. But, it is a crucial one. I have fortunately found peace with many of our curriculum choices, but still have not found a literature, art, music appreciation, and history program (or should I say programs) that I am totally sold on. I have tried many different programs, but none that seems to really "fit" what I want our school days to look like. So, much of my absence from blogging as of late has been because of seeking God on this issue and trying to figure out a schedule that works for our family to help things to run smoothly. Without my husband being here, planning time has been either non-existent or at a bare minimum. It is hard to have adequate planning time when little ones are underfoot all the time. So, larger blocks of time are now relegated to small increments stolen here and there. That isn't the best method when trying to look at the big picture of where I want us to be by the end of this year and to try and plan weeks in advance. On top of this, four of my five children have colds, so that has obviously put a damper on much activity that would be going on right now. So, for now, my days are waiting for God's choice of schedules and plans and lessons and curriculum. I will hopefully be sharing with you answers to all these pending questions in my mind soon. Until then, pray for wisdom and that I will hear His voice clearly. I hope you are all having a wonderful, soon to be end, to our summer season. I am already longing for the crisp, cool days of fall and the beauty of the colors of that time. It is one of my favorite times of the year. God bless!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Full Days

It has been a little while since my last post. The days here have been extremely busy and full. We are in full swing with homeschooling again. We are making sure we start early enough so that when Daddy comes home and has his time off, we can spend that time with him with as little obligations as possible. The picture of Joel is from this week. I knew something was wrong with him when he got out of bed and fell asleep on the couch with all the other children loudly playing around him. Shortly after this picture was taken, he developed a fever and then the stomach bug followed rapidly. We are prasing the Lord it was not worse and that none of the other children caught the virus!!!
Joy and I have been steadily working on our beginning quilting class. This block is of the spinning star pattern that I completed. It has been a very good class. Our instructor is so knowledgeable, yet very patient with beginner's like me who ask too many questions and need too much help! Joy and I have enjoyed doing this together. It is a sweet time to see one of your children old enough to enjoy these types of activities with you.

This next block is called the churn dash. Don't look too closely! It is certainly not perfect. We are currently working on our other two blocks to take into class on Tuesday night where she will teach us how to join them with the sashing. Then we will be looking at possibly doing a second class for borders and binding. I don't know if we will be able to do that one or not, but we are certainly going to try. My dh is doing well in the desert. We still miss him achingly. We have passed the four month mark and are now counting our way down to the half-way mark. I can't wait to get to that point. It will be so nice to have gone farther than we have to go!
Today we are working on troubled areas around the house. We are weeding out some books and taking them to a used bookstore to get credit for them. Then I will hopefully continue packing up more clothes the children have grown out of to take to a local consignment shop. I hope you all have a blessed weekend too!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Happy August!!!

Well, it is finally here...the month of August! And although that does not seem momentous to many probably, it means a great deal to our family. The month of August brings with it many celebrations. The first one comes on the fourth when the children and I will celebrate making it through one-third of our deployment time away from Daddy. I cannot wait to make it to October 4th so we can make the half way mark!!! August also brings with it my oldest child's 13th birthday...on the 24th. My husband's parents will be visiting with us and sharing that special day. I hope to be visited by some friends we know from our old church in Columbia, South Carolina this month as well. So, as you can see, August is an exciting time for us here.

We have been extremely busy here lately. Our middle child Joanna has gotten glasses...and Joy and Josiah have also gotten new prescriptions. I will be taking little Joel in on Friday the 7th and am fully expecting that he will need glasses as well. I also had to change my just getting eyewear for everyone has been a huge expense. But, God is so faithful and He always provides for our needs. Joy and I are continuing to enjoy our quilting class at church. And did I tell you that we are taking sewing lessons too? We are definitely novices at both of them, but are welcoming this time to spend together and to learn some skills that I have desired to learn for such a long time. I will show you some pictures of some of our completed projects later. I had NO idea what was involved in quilting. I have to hand it to all you quilter's out there...that is some meticulous work. Now I understand why homemade quilts are so very expensive. They truly are labors of love and they are not for the faint of heart!!

We have been invited over to some friends house this afternoon for some fellowship. Then tomorrow we have been invited to eat over at a church family's home. I so appreciate the extension of fellowship that others have shown us during this time away from Daddy. They probably will never really know what a blessing it is to me and to the children. And I know that when I come...bringing six of us is quite a difference for those families with only a few people in them. It just makes me understand more and more the need for me to extend hospitality to others, because I know how loved it makes me feel when others do it for me.

Well, I feel like this has been a rambling post today. I hope you all have a blessed beginning to your month of August! Until next time!

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." -Psalm 118:24