Sunday, September 11, 2011

All in a day's work.

7:45 AM
9:15 AM
10:57 AM
12:03 PM
1:35 PM

2:15 PM

It's hard work, but someone's gotta do it. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back in the Saddle (for a minute)

Well, here I sit. Again. Looking at this pitiful attempt of a blog with only one entry for last month, one entry for June, two entries for May and two for April.

And I wonder:

Is the blog even worth keeping up with at this point?
My conclusion: probably not.

Am I going to shut the blog down?
Probably not.

Am I going to try to do better about posting?
Probably not.

Is that the best I can do?
Probably not.

But, you know, it's not like I'm being paid or graded for this here online journal or anything, so if I only wrote in it once every 6 months, then what does it hurt, ya know?

But speaking of grades and online journals and stuff, allow me to take this moment to share with you, my only reader, a few things we have done lately for grades. :)

We have:

Visited S. Korea, Japan & India and we have stamped passports to prove it! :)

We have learned about the Itsukushima Torii Shrine and made our own out of clay.

We have learned about place value and inequalities in Math.
We have read and tasted some great books lately. Well, not all of us have tasted the books. Mainly just Raya. But the rest of us are enjoying the words on their pages. :)
We have had some great visitors who we love and who love us enough to stay long enough to read a story (from a book that hasn't yet been tasted) before leaving. :)

We have learned how to diagram sentences with compound subjects and compound predicates and aced tests that prove our mastery of such topics.

We've learned phonics, practiced a little cursive writing, memorized some catechisms and learned new hymns that the children can now sing in unison.

The other day we enjoyed a play date at the park and the kids were singing (at the top of their lungs) "I am His and He is mine" in it's entirety as they swang and climbed around the jungle gym. I'm telling you, it nearly brought me to tears hearing my babies sing a song like that while playing on the playground.

So as not to paint an inaccurate picture of our home life, I will also share that we have shed a few tears over the struggles that come with learning a new concept both for the teacher teaching it and the student learning it. However, I can say that I am more excited than ever when I see my children actually "getting" something that we have been studying. The past few weeks have been a most amazing journey for our family. All six of us have accomplished more than we ever imagined we could and the struggles that we have endured through the process have been worth every tear shed when we see the growth in our children both spiritually and educationally.

The other day while we were studying India, we closed class in prayer for the missionaries in that country and Bryan, who was leading us in prayer, prayed the following:

"God, please help the people of India to know that you are the only one who can wash away their sins. And help them to remember the first commandment, that they should have no other Gods before You. Amen."

How can anyone say that they struggles in educating the future generation aren't worth growth like that! I am not only enjoying watching my children learn and grow, I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to do something like this with my children before I have to release them into the world. God is good to me!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Science Fun

Yesterday, the kids started their Science lessons. We are using the Answers in Genesis curriculum which we love so far! Yesterday's lesson was on vertebrates vs. invertebrates and at the end of 'class' David had the kids charade out vertebrates with the only rule being that they couldn't choose from the mammal class. The videos were so funny. Here are a couple that I was able to upload. If I have a moment I will post the rest. See if you can guess what they are!

Bryan was a........

and Elysa was a..............

and Dylan was a........

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Expedition Earth: China

Ni hao! And welcome to our Expedition Earth: China week. The kids and I had a great time this week "travelling" to China and learning about the people there.

Here are some of the things we did this week while "in" China:

~ We learned about passports and how to use them.

~ We got our passports stamped when we entered and left the country.

~ We located China and pointed it out on the map (along with the 7 continents and the 5 oceans).

~ We read about and learned interesting facts about the Great Wall of China.

~ We built our own tiny replica of the Great Wall.
~ We learned how to say "hello" in Mandarin Chinese, the official language of China.

~ We learned about China's geography, climate, crops, capital city, population & government.

~ We learned about how Christians have been persecuted in China and how God is Sovereignly growing the Christian population in China despite the Communist government shutting down the country to Christianity and forcing missionaries to leave the country.

~ We learned about tooth fairy traditions in China and how they are completely different than our traditions here in America.

~ We learned about a few of the animals in China, and completed a lapbooking component for that lesson.

~ We completed a mapping activity and learned about the flag of China and what it stands for.

~ We had a Chinese dinner of fried rice and ate (or at least we tried to eat) with chop sticks.

~ We learned about the Huang He and the Yangtze Rivers and how the continental divide on each continent determines which direction the rivers will flow.

~ We completed prayer cards for China, its government, and its people to remind us to pray specifically for them each day.

Will you join us in prayer for China? You can pray that:

1 - Many people in China will come to know Christ.

2 - Schools and seminaries there would be equipped to teach young pastors Biblical truth.

3 - Bibles would be made available to all who desire to have one. (China is now printing Bibles in their country, but there are not nearly enough for everyone who wants one.)

4 - The leaders of the government would come to know Christ as Lord.

And this upcoming week...we're headed to South Korea! :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We've Adopted!

This is Jefferson. He is the newest 'member' of our family. :) We've adopted him! He's our Compassion child.

No, he won't be coming to live with us, but we have introduced him to our children as our newest addition as today we pledged to support this little guy until he completes his schooling. That's gonna be another 12-16 years from now (unless something changes in his family situation which moves his family beyond Compassion's reach)! But for now, we are excited and committed to a long-term relationship with Jefferson as our family provides financially for his social, physical, emotional, & spiritual needs.

Compassion is so great because their mission is a direct response to Christ's Great Commission (Matther 28:16-20). Our Compassion child will have his physical needs met as well as and so that he can have his spiritual needs met! Not only will our sponsorship ensure that Jefferson recieves clothes, shoes and a meal, it guarantees that he will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel!

At what cost to us? About $1 and a quarter a day. For less than the price of my new-found daily Starbucks addiction, we can reach a soul on the other side of the world for Christ! That, my friends, is a great return on the investment!

Jefferson's birthday was May 12. We missed it, but the kids are excited already about making him some birthday cards. They are excited about learning more about their "Compassion brother", his country & his culture.

I will be sure to keep you updated as we grow this new relationship while seeking to be in God's Will. We are so excited that God has led us to Jefferson through Compassion. If you are interested in joining us in this journey to care for God's children, click on the link to Compassion's website on the navigation bar on the right side of my page. If you do decide to sponsor, or if you already sponsor, please be sure to leave me a comment so we can pray for your family & your Compassion child by name!

"Whoever shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard."
~Proverbs 21:13

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tour de la Schoolroom

i thought it might be fun (or at least awe-inspiring) to post a quick run down of just how much God has blessed our decision follow His lead as we begin the journey to homeschool.

just as a point of reference, it was only 2 short months ago that this room was Dylan & Bryan's joint bedroom. it looked kinda like this:

since then, we have been scouting, collecting, painting, organizing, researching, and studying homeschooling options. and while we have been doing all of that, God has provided us with a nearly fully-furnished schoolroom. it has been unbelievable to say the least!

here's the current view of the schoolroom as you look in from the door:

and here's the view from the back of the schoolroom looking back towards the door we just walked in (the door is outside of the view of this picture, but it's just around that corner on the left of the pic).
So here's what we paid out of pocket to transform this room into what you see now:

The desks were donated to our schoolroom.

I found some here for $30.10/each (plus $103.85 for shipping)
Total savings: $224.75

The teacher's desk was purchased off of Craig's List for $35.

I found one here for $319.00 (plus $117.75 for shipping)

Total savings: $401.75

The Encyclopedias (both sets) were donated to our schoolroom by my wonderful mom!
I found a set here for $408.07 (although I'm sure it can be found cheaper)

Total savings: $200-$400

The book case was donated by my mom. Not sure how much it cost her back when she bought it, but we are so very grateful to have had that donated to our room. :)

The globe was a gift (for a birthday I think) when I was a child. It's been at my mom's house ever since I moved out, so it felt like a donation when we were recently reunited. (like me & the globe, not me & my mom. We were never un-united) :)

The chairs? You guessed it! Another donation.

I found some here for $23.88/each (plus $59.59 for shipping)

Total savings: $155.11

The white boards you see were both donations. In addition, I have one other one that was donated, but I am currently working on that one. (It will be our Expedition Earth board).
You can find white boards all over the internet, and they are not cheap. So for our sake, I'll say

Total savings: $Hundreds (you get the point)

The Utility/Media Cart in the picture was donated by a dear friend.

I found one here for $169.23 (who knows how much shipping)

Total savings: More than $169.23!

The wall art (ABC train, Parts of Speech posters) were all donated by church family.

The clock over the with Toy Story 3 Disney DVD BluRay combo pack.

The Scripture over the teacher's desk we actually paid for, but I hosted a party so I got a nice little discount on that purchase. It says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

In all, we paid for the paint colors, the teacher's desk, the ABC mat you see on the floor by the reading corner, and the curriculum.

God is so good!

Hope you have enjoyed taking a peek around our beginning-to-come together schoolroom!

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Cup Runneth Over

Apparently, so does Raya's!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Patience ~ A Fruit of the Spirit

We are still waiting on word from the Superintendent regarding our appeal of Dylan's suspension. We were supposed to have heard from him by Friday of last week, but there is a lot on his plate right now with the school consolidation issues (our city school district has surrendered their charter and the county schools are now, all of a sudden, responsible for the children in both districts) and then earlier this week we had a mega-huge storm blow through that resulted in damage to some of the schools, so I think God is really trying to teach me a little about patience through all of this.

I am beginning to teach my children that patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), maybe I should focus a little more on holding myself up to the standards of behavior that I expect from them! Wow, that was hard to say!
Speaking of fruits of the Spirit, I have started a new accountability thing with the kids (especially when I am by myself with them, because that seems to be when they act up the most). Whenever we are having disciplinary issues, I have them recite Galatians 5:22 (this is not one of our ABC verses, so I have to help the girls out with it). Then we take a look at the behavior that was unacceptable, and the offender has to tell the rest of us what fruit of the Spirit they are not showing when they behave that way. For example, when Dylan hit his sister in the car, I asked him what Galatians 5:22 says, he recited the verse, and then when asked, he tells the group that when he hits his siblings, he is not showing kindness. Sometimes, several fruits are hidden when we misbehave. I used this opportunity in particular to ask the others what fruits they felt like are hidden when we hit someone and they chime in: self-control, gentleness, love, kindness. Then we discuss why said action is sinful (which is really easy for them to understand since we just finished discussing how Scripture tells us we should behave) and we say a prayer of repentance. And then I explain how God is a loving God and forgives us when we ask for forgiveness. By the time we are done discussing the situation, the kids are calmed, the behavior has been addressed/reprimanded, Scripture has been sought for correction (2 Tim. 3:16), repentance for the trespass has been made, forgiveness has been assured, and everyone is ready to start over with a refreshed heart and mindset. Oh, and in this case, the pizza was ready & daddy had returned to the car! :)

So that was a random tangent that really was not the intent of this post. I was trying to get into the schoolroom transition a little bit, but since my thought process went way off in left field, perhaps I'll just save the schoolroom update for another day! :) And now you, too, must learn how to demonstrate patience! Funny how that works, isn't it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why we are choosing homeschool: A reminder for myself

So, lately I've been so into the curriculum, planning, schoolroom makeover mood that I have had little time to just sit and simmer on the idea that we will soon be taking full responsibility for our children's education. The overwhelming nature of this task has somehow evaded my thoughts until this week. And then I panicked. Well, not really panicked in the sense of running around, panting, breathing in a bag, but more along the lines of second-guessing our commitment to this new chapter in our parenting adventure. After talking with David about it, he agreed that things will be tough but then he reassured me of our decision by reiterating why we chose this for our family. So, for my own peace of mind - and to have a post that I can always go back to for a reminder- I have decided to write this post to remind myself of the reasons we set out on this adventure to begin with.

1 - We feel that God is calling us to be a homeschool family. The circumstances which led up to this decision, which you can read about here, left us in a survival mode. After Dylan was suspended from school, we knew we did not want him to be in a reform school (because, well, he doesn't belong there). We also knew that because of the crazy new blemish in his school file, many of the private schools in our area would have declined him as a prospect for their school. Our only other option seemed to be homeschooling, which I refused to consider at this point. But God has a way of turning you around when you're headed in a direction that is contrary to His Will for your life (and I mean that in a very literal way, like with Jonah & the great fish). And that's exactly what He did in our situation.

Dylan was suspended on March 2 (a Wednesday) and on March 3-5 (Thursday - Saturday) there was a major homeschooling convention right here in our city. When I say major, I mean mega-HUGE! I mentioned it to David in passing and we continued on about our business, neither of us really pushing the homeschooling idea at this point as we were both still hoping to have Dylan's suspension overturned and to get him back in public school. Friday night at midnight, David and I were sitting together and we decided to take a look at the website for the convention being held in our city. When we got there we noticed that Ken Ham was one of the speakers and, out of pure excitement at the idea of meeting Mr. Ham in person, we decided to go to the convention the next morning at 8am.

The next day, we met Ken Ham in person and sat front & center for his presentation. And then it happened. Everything that Mr. Ham said was as if he had been in our home for the past 3 days and knew everything about our situation and he had scripture to support a decision to homeschool as opposed to allowing the state to teach our children. It was incredible. David and I left the auditorium and got back in the car to go home without speaking barely a word. And the minute we got in the car, the floodgates of conversation opened and we both began pouring out our thoughts on the presentation we had just heard and how it impacted our thoughts on the whole situation and the idea of homeschooling in general.

After the convention, we began researching and asking friends and church members all kinds of questions about homeschooling and the more we learned, the more our hearts began to align and the more opportunities we saw God opening up to us in order to make homeschooling our children possible. We now both feel that God is leading us towards homeschooling our children and we fully intend to submit to His Will for our lives no matter how hard the journey may be at times.

"Feed the flock of God that is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but voluntarily according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness, neither as being lords over God's heritage, but proving to be examples to the flock." ~1 Peter 5:2-3

2 - We like the idea of being in control of what our children are presented to learn, knowing that we can teach them truth as truth and error as error. Of course while we would love to teach our children nothing but truth, we understand that at some point in their life, they will be exposed to filth and untruths and we don't want them to be caught off guard when those situations arise. Therefore, we have decided that it is important to teach them things that they would have otherwise been learning in secular school ( i.e. evolution, age of the earth, big bang, creation myths, etc) so they are not unwise to the ways of the world, nor the teachings of the world. The great thing about this is that we can debunk these teachings as soon as they are introduced so that our children are not influenced to question the Bible's inerrancy or infallability. We can show these faulty teachings to our children and then teach them how to search the Scriptures to find for themselves how they are contradictory to what the Bible teaches us about God's creation. Not only will we be able to teach our children science, but we will be able to incorporate apologetics into the curriculum, further developing their faith and confidence in the Lord.

"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." ~1 Peter 3:15

3 - Our kids crave and need quantity over quality. And yours probably do, too. Do you remember that old addage "quality is better than quantity"? Well that's a bunch of bologna! We moved to a 3,500 square foot house abotu two years ago because we thought we were cramped and do you know what we learned: we are still cramped! Because where ever we go, the kids follow. They crave our attention. And 15 minutes of "game night" or "movie night" just isn't enough for them. So, what better way to ensure that the children get as much attention from us as they need than by being their parents and their school teachers! It's a win-win! We get to spend lots and lots of focused time with the kids and at the same time we are accountable for teaching them their studies. No more evenings wasted in front of the tv with minimal conversation! We are incorporating 'quantity' family time which is bringing with it 'quality' family time, and in the end, our children will walk away with something much more valuable than just 'good family memories'. (Although we hope they have a few of those too!)

"Hear, my son, your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching; Indeed they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments around your neck." ~Proverbs 1:8-9

4 - We, as parents, need quantity over quality. Our kids are not really 'ours'. They are God's children. We have just been afforded such grace, that He has entrusted them into our care for a little while. We will not be here forever, and sooner than we are ready they will be headed out on their own to embark on whatever journeys God has in store for their lives. Knowing that, I look back on our children's life and see that their short little lives have flown by so quickly. So many nights we have all sat on the couch, side-by-side, watching tv, being lazy, and I have lost out on those opportunities to really get to enjoy these children that God has blessed us with! Homeschooling our children will enrich our family time and afford us many more opportunities to recognize, embrace, and help shape their thoughts, ideas, strengths, weaknesses, emotions, uniquenesses, and so much more!!

"Children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them." ~Psalm 127: 3 - 5

Tonight, at church, our pastor preached from Genesis 13. The message focused on choices. In his message he made one statement that hit me like a ton of bricks. He said (and I paraphrase) "The choices we make will affect the direction of our lives and those of our children and our grandchildren. Therefore, we must be sure to make good choices based on God's Word."

Homeschooling is our choice but, as I wrote earlier, it is a decision we made because we felt God leading us in that direction. We have searched the Scriptures and we believe our decision to be one that was made based on God's Word and we are very excited to be leaning on Him for guidance, wisdom & strength as we follow His lead for our family.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

SONday Snippets: March 27

Happy SONday to you! Today we celebrated the Lord's day by:

  • Going to church, Dylan had "Sundae Sunday" in his Sunday school class this morning, so he was pretty excited about that!

  • Participating in Bible drill! Dylan did great for his first time ever. He "passed"! And he knew so many verses & key passages. We are so proud of him!

  • Rewarding Dylan's hard work with a trip to TCBY! (his choice)

  • Working on the rearranging of our home in preparation for the new schoolroom.

  • Moving Bryan into his very own bedroom!

  • Reading about Abraham's journey to Canaan and discussing how God's promise to bless all the nations through Abraham points forward to Christ.

  • enjoying a home-cooked meal made by Daddy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This week in review

So I've become completely obsessed excited about the upcoming school year. This week on Wednesday, our Math curriculum came in the mail. We bought the Alpha, the Beta & the Primer for the kids. I'm hoping that Elysa can handle the Primer so that she can hop right in on the learning with the rest of the kiddos. Then on Wednesday night, we got some boxes of curriculum, classroom materials, and a dry erase board from some friends at church. David and I had a great time going through all these goodies and it was definitely a big help on deciding which curriculum we would be using for Spelling, English, and Reading!
We have not yet decided what curriculum we will be using for Bible. So we are open to any suggestions, ideas, websites you might have to offer on those.

And from Thursday until last night, I spent hours putting together our geography curriculum, which is going to be a compliation of different ideas/activities I have found along the way, but the core of it will be based around Expedition Earth: A Journey Through God's World which I downloaded from Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler. I am truly, truly like over-the-top-school-geek excited over this curriculum! It looks like it is going to be so much fun!
So today, I decided to take a break from the curriculum and spend a little time focusing on the actual room that is going to be our schoolroom. We will be taking the large room over the 2-car garage (which is currently the boys bedroom) and be making it our schoolroom. I am headed today to pick out a color to paint. We are trying to decide between a light yellow or a light blue and I have probably been over-analyzing gone overboard on this decision as well. I have been researching the effects certain colors have on moods/learning/attention/etc. for a majority of the afternoon. So, that's where stand on our preps for homeschooling. And since I'm such a fan of before/after pics, this is a sneak peek of our schoolroom in it's "before" state. Wish us luck as we begin the schoolroom makeover!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The View from Here:

We're still trying to decide on curriculum. This is just a tiny bit of the literature that we collected from the Homeschooling Convention we went to last weekend. We have our Science and Math curricula pinned down, now we're just trying to decide on the other subjects. We are so thrilled to be able to teach our children what is important to us!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Suspension suspense

D is for Dangerous~How they describe my baby boy.

Y is for Year~The punishment for disassembling this toy!
L is for Livid~My reaction to this.
A is for Absolute Ridiculousness!

N is for Never again~which will be the next time
Shelby County Schools will wrong this baby of mine.

If you're not on facebook, first let me say: "Get out from under that rock!" ;) J/K, J/K. But if you have somehow missed our situation, the short version is this:

Our 8-year-old was suspended on March 2 for "Possession of a Weapon on School Property". His weapon of choice: A broken pencil sharpener (since when the pencil sharpener is broken it contains a tiny "blade" that is used to sharpen the pencil tip). Dylan was never seen nor caught with the blade, but the little boy who was caught with it, told the teacher that Dylan was among many students that passed it around the room that day. When questioned about it, Dylan did admit to having had the pencil sharpener pieces in his desk at one point in the day and was therefore suspended for 180 days for a "crime" he was never observed committing. The lesson my baby boy learned in all of this totally contradicts everything his father and I have taught him about telling the truth. He has learned that it doesn't pay to be truthful. Another student who was observed by a teacher with the "blade" was suspended but her parents have since had some political connections argue on her behalf that she "was never in possession of the pencil sharpener pieces" and her suspension was reversed the very next day. It was expunged from her record and she was allowed to go back to class! We refuse to take the dishonest route. God's Word tells us in Psalms 34:13 to "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies". Honesty has always been a basic principle in our family and it will continue to be. Since this school system rewards dishonesty and punishes those who are truthful, we have decided to take over schooling our children ourselves. We have worked very hard to instill biblical principles in our children's hearts and we do not intend to send them off to be taught otherwise by the government for 8 hours a day. I will do my best to update this blog regularly as an advocate for homeschooling and as we transition from a government-run, secular education to a God-fearing, Bible-centered education. We appreciate your encouragement as we make this enormous transition.
All for HIS glory!