Sunday, April 29, 2012

Owning Up - Homeschooling After the Storm

I knew exactly how I was going to homeschool.  I knew how I was going to do it.  It would involve a structured day and textbooks.  It would involve pencils and grade books.  I eagerly shopped for little desks and pint sized chairs.  It would involve a *blackboard* and real chalk.  I was going to love it.

Then I actually got kids.  And, they got big enough to homeschool.  So, we started in 2010, the children sitting around the kitchen table, and I, standing at a white board.  I lesson planned and followed through.  We did projects and read books and completed objectives. The kids and I were having a grand time.

Then, a couple months into it, life happened.  My son got sick, and he stayed sick.  School stopped. Suddenly, teaching him to read was not near as important as finding out whether or not he was going to live.  Teaching him how to quantify was not nearly as pressing as teaching how to cope with pain.  I no longer used the whiteboard for spelling lessons, but for my son's medication schedule. It seemed like it was never going to end, that he would always be sick and life would never, ever be the same.

He is much better.  He did not die.  He did not have anything that was going to take his life, just make him miserable.  We have his medication all sorted out and he is only on a single medication that I struggle to remember to give.  So, a year and a half later, I no longer want to homeschool.  I don't even want to send the kids to public school.  Really, I just don't want to do anything that is going to take a lot of effort.  I just want to breathe.

So, we are breathing.  We are doing the bare minimum.  We do reading and math for the little ones, on Time 4 Learning.  My oldest is doing a workbook curriculum and Math U See.  I don't have to plan.  I don't have to do anything except turn on the computer and listen to an occasional read aloud.  I don't even read books to them, not even the encyclopedia!

Our day consists of us getting up, getting dressed, and doing chores.  Then I turn on the laptops and get my little one's started.  My oldest gets going on her workbooks.  I try to not feel guilty.  This is nothing like I imagined.

But somehow, it is all still valid.  My kids are somehow learning. My son is learning to deal with is ongoing issues and still have a wonderful life.  I am learning how to breathe again, and how to not be worried over every little ache or pain my kid has.  I am relearning how to not be so overwhelmed that I feel like I am drowning.  I am learning how to live outside of "crisis".

It is slower.  It is calmer.  It is hard for whatever reason.  My shot of adrenaline has left me with a tiredness that I can not explain.

I keep telling myself that it is going to get better, and I know it will.  God gave us time and time is a blessing.  It fades pain and heartache and eases the intensity of loss.  I realize that when time has done its job, I will be able to see clearly again.

Are you or have you been here?  Lots of us have.  Maybe it is not a sick child, maybe it is the death of a loved one or close friend. Maybe it was marriage trouble or maybe you lost a home.  How do you homeschool through it?  Do you keep a schedule? Do you find comfort in the order of it?  Or, do you just let things go?  Do you feel okay about it if you do?

post signature

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why I Can't Shut Up

I am pretty blunt. Sometimes to a fault. Trust me when I say that every time I write one of these blogs that I sit with my stomach churning, knowing that the likely result is that someone is offended. I also debated where the appropriate place to address this was because, a dear friend, is who actually inspired this blog and it is my deepest desire that I mend any hurt feelings that I cause. I do feel at this point it is something I need to address because I am a vocal proponent of Christians homeschooling their children and I just can't seem to keep quiet about it! And inevitably, I hurt feelings, which is, believe me, not my intentions, but is instead an unfortunate result of differing convictions.

So where to start? Let me say that I believe there are many things in which the Bible gives us freedom. One example would be modesty. I think there are clear lines as to what is not acceptable, but I also believe that we have freedom to reasonably decide what is modest for us. I am the same way with music. As long as it clearly praises God and isn't simply based on an emotional response, that we can worship with many types of music. However, I believe there are clear and biblically defined standards for raising our children and based on my study of these standards I believe that public school can not be an option for our Christian children.

Let me take a side road quickly and say, I never post a blog link, a quote, or a statistic with a particular person in mind. It is never personal. I have tried to temper the stronger quotes with a disclaimer that I know there are good parents who love their children and send them to public school, I know that there are good teachers and principals ( I happen to know one!) that are solid Christians who went into the public system wanting to make a difference. I know there are good kids that do great things through the power of Christ in the public school system. I do know this and I appreciate and praise God that He is able to take any situation and turn it into something that glorifies Him! Let me also say that I do believe there are certain situations in which there are no other options such as when a husband is not on board, or during financially difficult seasons, or in places where homeschooling is illegal. I also do not believe the homeschooling is the magic salvation wand that one waves over their family to ensure a ticket to heaven. Homeschoolers are still as much in need of redemption as the rest of the world.

I love lists so that's what we will go with for this. Here are the reasons I will continue to be vocal about my stance on public school:

1. Because, I do not post specifically to offend. Though sometimes I do realize that it will happen, I only post things that truly speak to me, convict me, or are just statistical facts. I don't think to myself , "Oh, Jessica sends her kids to public school (she doesn't but I thought she was easiest to use as an example) this article will really get under her skin". No, I just post what I like. The truth is that it offends because it is different and I understand that. I see posts all the time praising the school system, talking about what a great activity or teacher their child has and so on. NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON goes on there and posts about how offended they are that someone would post about public school. In fact most go on and praise it. That is fine, that is great, but why do those posts not offend? Because they aren't different, because most people can relate to them. I believe that my posts offend because they challenge the tradition thought that public schooling is the best option.

2. Because I believe there is a very clear biblical standard for raising our children and that public school can not meet that standard. In fact, I believe the system to be a sinking ship and it is my heart that all of the children who are in that sinking ship are pulled to safety. I post because I care and because I believe that the public school can not meet the biblical standard for how to raise our children.  That for every good Christian influence there are hundreds more bad ones. That bad company corrupts good morals. That parents should be the main influences, teachers, trainers, in their child's life and that can not happen when a child is away from them for 6 hours a day in a secular system that by nature hates God.

3. I post because I have an unyielding conviction to post. Sometimes, people come to me and tell me that they want to homeschool but never could. Neither can I. I can't do this alone. I have to have God's grace and mercy and guidance or I would go crazy! Sometimes, I post because it encourages another parent who is on the edge that, all things are possible through Christ. Sometimes, I post because it encourages me to see that others struggle!

4. Because iron sharpens iron. We are called to challenge each other so that our walks with Christ are the best they can be. We are not called to be compliant, we are called to be different, to search the scripture and to discuss, challenge and encourage each other to make biblical choices.

5. Because everywhere I go I am challenged by others. I am told that my decisions are bad, that I couldn't possibly be a good enough teacher for my children, how will I teach algebra, "don't you know that the homeschooling family I know is...". My kids are quizzed by strangers, my motives are questioned, we are told we are going to turn out weird, that we won't be able to get into college, that I am overprotective, that the kids won't be able to get jobs, and while most of this is ignorance (and I mean that in a lack of information kind of way), I am discouraged. My blog and my facebook pages are my forums. The places I go to gain encouragement and to speak my mind.

So before someone says it, I don't think I have corner on the market of what is biblical, but I can tell you that I have a strong, vocal conviction about the public school system and I can not shut up about it. I hope that all of my friends know that I don't choose to be friends with someone based on their educational choices for their children. I love and care deeply for each of them and their children. I pray for them and I am happy for them when they make the honor roll, or get to go field day or find a good friend. You are special and important to me, even when we don't agree.
Your blunt vocal homeschooling proponent friend,
post signature

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Weaver Review

It just isn't possible to sum up The Weaver in a paragraph. So I suggest that you grab a cup of tea or some chocolate and put your feet up for a few minutes while I tell you our experience thus far!

When I first started homeschooling my preschooler in 2004, I was drawn to the idea of a Unit Study approach. I loved the idea that I could teach both kids on the same topic but at their own level. I looked over some types of Unit Studies and just didn't feel like God was opening the door for me to use any of them. Either it was clearly not for our family, or it was so overwhelming to me that I couldn't picture how to make it work. I tried various styles of learning, and all of them were wonderful in their own way. But something still seemed to be missing and my longing for unit studies didn't go away.
Unit studies have a base that all other subjects are centered around. For example, many are history based. As the student learns a new part of history, all the other school subjects deal with the same topic. Some are based on science. But still, none of them stood out.
I didn't want to just have 'Bible time' as part of our day. I wanted every part of our education to point our eyes to our Creator. And, it is sad to say, sometimes Bible time would get left out of our day because we ran out of time.

No matter how good my boys are (and I do think they are pretty good kids), they had many days where apathy was the attitude toward their school work. I know that we had the curriculum we had because I prayed and felt so certain in what I bought. And I still feel certain, I believe God had us where He wanted us, using what we were supposed to use.

In the late fall of 2010, I once again found myself asking the Lord if there was something else I had missed. I truly don't recall where The Weaver first popped up. But it was online somewhere. One reference lead to another. I was getting very curious and excited!

I wasn't looking to change things THAT year. I was thinking ahead to next year. But along came a sweet woman (you know who you are!) who happened to have an extra set of Weaver volume 1. I didn't expect to see it come so soon, but the mail moved FAST and it was at my home in a matter of a few days. I tore open the box and started to devour the information inside! It was as if this was written just for us! I would start using Weaver in January!

What is it that makes me love it so? First, this curriculum is based in Scripture. So let's say that today we read about the Tower of Babylon. We'll then start learning about architecture. Then we'll build some sugar cube buildings. With that in mind, you will never run out of time for Bible, because it all STARTS in the Bible! You can't do any other school work without opening in the Word!
Library time is always fun for us. We love it! But now it's a scavenger hunt. We look ahead at the unit we'll study and write down the topics, the books the author suggests, and a few rabbit trail ideas of our own. Then we head to the library with our list in hand ready to attack! We come home with stacks of rich videos and books. This is the ONLY weakness that I see in Weaver, the book list. Some of the books are very hard to find, and may seem dated. I don't feel discouraged by this, though. Instead, we just enjoy our scavenger hunt, both in the library and in our home library! I have found the Apologia elementary books work beautifully with the Weaver Curriculum, as well as several other books and DVDs.

Before going any further, let's go through the binders together...
Day by Day... Some people opt out of this planner, but I love it. I think you have to remind yourself that it is a tool. You aren't a slave to the planner. You can do, or not do, whatever you like. Each unit is separated by a divider. At the beginning of each unit divider is a "Unit Preparation" page (or pages.) Becky Avery (the author) has put these pages together for the educator to read in advance. It explains what you'll be teaching, possible book suggestions for read alouds, and supplies you may need.
From there, each page is labeled by the day. So you'll see Chapter 1: Day 1. You won't see Monday, Tuesday... There is no hurry in this. You do each day as you feel you are ready. Under the Chapter and Day is room for you to write in the date, and she has the theme written. Ie- "The city, Creation vs. Evolution." Under that you'll see a "thought for the day" section. These can be read to the student or can just be a pick-me-up for the teacher.

Each subject is in bold print below. So it opens with Bible, listing the reference to read, it tells you which bible lesson you will read from in Volume 1, and any other supplies or information you'll need for the bible study on that day.

Below that comes the Social Studies OR Science section. I say 'or' because you trade off every other day. This keeps it fresh for my boys! They love doing something different every other day. Under Social Studies or Science you'll see a list of grade levels and objectives. We'll come back to that in a bit.
After that is Language Arts OR Health and Safety, again, alternating. Then a list of books and supplies needed, creative writing suggestions, Wisdom Words (if you so chose to use her Language Arts program). And it ends with Math and Reading sections which are left blank. This way you can fill in what you want to use in your home.

A little side note... We have chosen not to use Wisdom Words. However, it is a fabulous program and I wouldn't have a problem using it at all. Instead, we chose the Phonics Road series. We are using Teaching Textbooks for our math program. These two resources keep me consistent and focused in those areas, and Weaver allows me to have freedom in the rest of our studies. I believe this gives my split Type A/ADHD personality a healthy balance.

Now for the BIG binder... Volume 1! Upon opening, you'll notice it has an overview of the entire volume. This is handy to see what you'll be covering at a glance. Mrs. Avery then has several pages of information, introduction, and ideas on scheduling (if you aren't using the Day by Day planner.) Then you'll see those lovely Unit dividers. Open divider Unit 1 and you'll see a Unit and chapter overview outline. "Unit 1, Chapter 1, 10 days" is the first heading, with the outline below. Of course you can make a unit last as long as you like. Remember, you are in charge of the flow, so if you want to follow rabbit trails, go for it! But she suggests how long a unit ought to take for planning purposes and to keep us from taking years to complete one volume. Then comes "For Your Information" where you, the teacher, will learn more about the topics you'll be teaching. So far all these pages have been white in color. The Bible Lessons and suggested reading list will also be in white. After that the colors change and they become quite important. 
This is another of the areas that I love in Weaver! Each grade, from K-6, is separated by color. So all pages of lessons for Kindergarten are golden rod. If I have a student who does work at a K level, I will turn to the golden rod pages no matter which unit I am on. She assigns them as grade levels, but you decide what level you want your child to work. In fact, they may be working at K level in science and social studies, but in language arts you feel like putting them on the grade 1 work. You have total control over the work they will be doing.
At the end of each chapter you'll see white pages again. Don't overlook them! There, you will find vocabulary words, health and safety, field trips, observation projects and memory verse suggestions.

So how do these 2 binders work together? Remember, earlier, when I said I'd get back to the grade levels and objectives? Here we go! So when Day by Day Unit 1 Day 1 says to teach your K student Science Objective #1... you'll go to Volume 1 binder, open it up to Unit 1 Chapter 1, turn to the golden rod colored pages labelled Kindergarten, look under the science section and read Objective 1! Day by Day will tell you exactly where to find everything in the Volume that you'll do that day. Simple!

At the very back of the Volume you will find the Resource tab. Mrs. Avery will often refer you to something in that resource section. So don't overlook it, there are several useful pages! Dads can get overlooked in our homeschool day. But in the Resource section you'll find A Father's Devotional Partner for Weaver. It is only a handful of pages, but it explains Weaver to the Dads and it has index card forms that you can copy and give to your husband so he is up to date on what the kids are learning. This way he can have conversations around the dinner table with the kiddos about whatever Bible verses or unit themes you are covering. This isn't a required task, and it isn't to bring guilt into homes where Dads aren't involved in the school. But if you have a husband who is willing and wants to know more about your day, this tool is really priceless. And it's unique! I haven't seen this sort of tool in other curricula.

One quick note: There are 7-12 grade supplements that you can order to make this curriculum go all the way through graduation! I haven't used them yet, personally, so I can't speak to them. Maybe someone will leave a comment here that explains those further. Or, possibly after I use it next year with my oldest I can update this post. But I thought it important to let you know it does go through grade 12. In the same manner, there is a Weaver Interlock binder for Pre-K! So it can be a complete curriculum from beginning to graduation if you wanted.

What about the cost of all those books she suggests? I have found that some of the suggested Milliken books are worth having, however I bought them used on Amazon and other places. And I wouldn't recommned them unless you are dealing with upper ages, possibly 4th grade up. The Usborne books are great. They are generally easy to find in the library, but worth looking for if your library doesn't carry them. Speaking of the library, most of the topics you'll cover can be studied in depth with books found at the library. So you could honestly do most of your studies with the library and the internet. No major book investment needed! I also found that many of my books on my shelf at home have worked just fine.
In the early Weaver days I would pull out the huge Volume binder and the not-so-small Day by Day binder. They'd take up the floor by my feet and part of the table as I'd flip through looking for each activity. This wasn't so fun... So I decided to consolidate into one binder thanks to the advice of others who went before me. It is essentially my 'Brain'. In the front I have a little DVD pocket for our math and grammar DVDs and CD-ROMs. Then I have my school planner. And behind that I have a page with our "Mission Statement." The first tab is Day by Day. I pull the Day by Day pages for the unit we are studying out of the big binder and put it in this section. It may be 4 or 5 pages, or it could be a couple dozen depending on the size of the unit, but that's easier to carry with me than a big binder. My next tab is Unit Information. I use that for any of the Overview and For Your Information pages out of the big Volume for that unit. Then I have Boys' Studies where I pull their grade level pages from the big volume binder just for the unit we're studying. The next tab is Resources where I have pulled all the resource pages from the big volume and keep them handy in my daily binder. The next tab is Master's Loom. I highly recommend ordering this resource from This is a topical index and biblical reference chart to accompany the Weaver Curriculum. So if we're studying Helen Keller in Volume 1, I can look at the index and see we'll also study her life in Volume 5. This helps me to know just how much I need to cover on Helen Keller. If I am covering Herbivores in volume 1 and see that it isn't covered again in any future volume, then I may want to be sure we've learned all the material I had planned. Another tab I have is the Overview of all the volumes. I like being able to see the topics we'll cover in each volume. My last tab is Books. I have to thank my husband for this one. He had me begin a book list organized by subject years ago. This way when I am at a used curriculum sale I can flip open my list and see if I already have that book. And on the last page I have a hand written wish list with the cost of each book written beside them so I know a good deal when I find it. All of this fits in a standard 2" binder. I found my binder for 25c at a thrift store. So this doesn't have to be very fancy. But it is much easier for me to use than having to pull each big binder out each day. And it is handy for travel as well!

What does a typical day look like for us? Amazingly smooth compared to before! Remember when I said there was great apathy many days in our schooling? No more! We usually start with our AWANA memory verses. Then we'll move into the bible study and sometimes I'll add an extra book or even bring out a hymn CD to sing together if it fits the lesson. Then we move right into the topics that the Day by Day has laid out. The wonderful thing about a unit study is that both boys are learning the same things together! When we've finished with the work listed, I pull out the Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading for my youngest, and my oldest works quietly on his Teaching Textbooks. Then my youngest moves to his Teaching Textbooks while I work with my oldest on the Latin Road. We do all of this from 9 to noon each day. Any time left over can be spent with my oldest doing a read aloud with his little brother. Last week we studied composers, so he would read a picture book to his brother about any given composer. After lunch we usually have a very free flowing time. The kids may take the afternoon to enjoy the sunshine outdoors. They may play card games. Or they may be found turning their school work into play. And this isn't unusual since we've started The Weaver! They learned about architecture, so in free time they watched DVDs about buildings and bridges and they built them out of Legos.

Gone are the days of complaining about school. Back are the days of awe and wonder over what we're learning! Do we still have bad days? Sure! I think any homeschooler has to question their sanity at times. But I am so grateful for the joy and interest that The Weaver has brought back to our learning!

Feel free to ask questions or post comments. :) God bless you in your journey, no matter what it looks like.


What We are Learning 2nd Grade Edition

We have family that live overseas and don't always get to see what we are doing so this post is for them, however, I hope that it helps some of you out too! Remember that this is what works for OUR family. If your learning looks different than ours don't worry. Also, we do not follow the state with our curriculum. We learn concepts at an entirely different pace and in a different order. Sometimes we are ahead of the schools and sometimes we are behind. It all balances out.

Luke: He sat at the table for 2 weeks solid with his Spiderman pencil saying "momma when can I do school with my Spiderman pencil?". I am not a fan of pre-k. We take a better late than early approach especially in the early years, but I also believe in encouraging my children when they wish to learn. After searching I decided on Abeka Pre-K. I am not a huge Abeka fan, but I wanted something that was quick and painless and this is both. We spend maybe 15 minutes with this and really I only pull it out when he asks. It has him doing things that are great for the pre-k level such as cutting and gluing, finger painting, and coloring. If I was a pre-k proponent Abeka Pre-K would be my suggestion.

For the girls they are on the same level for everything. Why? Because they aren't very far apart in age (10 months) and it is just easier for me. We get so much more done since I don't have to teach two separate grades. I imagine this will change over time. Especially when Luke is school aged.

Brianna and Keira:

Bible- We are really enjoying the Alpha Omega Life Pacs. This is not normally one I would recommend as I truly do not care for the other subjects, but the scope and sequence for these is excellent. The Life Pacs actually dive into theology and life application rather than just giving the kids the same Bible stories over and over again.

Math-I am using a mix of Bob Jones and Teaching Textbooks. I bought the Teaching Textbooks because I needed to give myself a break from teaching the math. Then I felt guilty about not being hands on with the math so I bought BJU. Then I decided that I really like Teaching Textbooks so we are using the BJU as practice and the Teaching Textbooks as our main math course. You can visit here to see the scope and sequence for Teaching Textbooks 3.

English- I started out using BJU Grammar and Explode the Code for phonics. It was too much so I dumped the BJU and we are now using Easy Grammar which I love and Explode the Code which I am sure is the reason my kids can read. Forget complicated reading programs. Just go grab your child the Explode the Code series. Trust me. Brianna is in book 5 and Keira in book 4.

Spelling- I am more or less taking a natural approach to this though I did purchase them the Spectrum Spelling books. I let them go through a page or two every other day with those just to reinforce, but I found that spelling was best taught through correcting them during other writing projects. Explode the Code also offers a bit of spelling in their books and since the phonics is covered thoroughly they can pretty much make a good guess and I just help them along the way.

Penmanship- Handwriting without Tears cursive. This saved my left handed daughter. However, we will probably swap to a more traditional cursive program after we are finished with this book.

Science- Real Science 4 Kids. This is a world view "neutral" program and I actually love it. Each book lasts 10 weeks and we will go through Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Astronomy. I love that it is real science and doesn't speak to the kids like they are stupid. The kids love it and you have the option of purchasing a lab book that has household experiments.

History and Reading- This is by far my favorite! We are three weeks into using Sonlight Core B. We are just gearing up to start learning about ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome and I am so excited. I did swap out the main book for Mystery of History but other than that we are pretty much following the 5 day plan to the letter. I love the rich living books and our daily read aloud time has become so special, even Luke sits still through it. This week we are reading Charlotte's Web!

Latin- We have been using Song School Latin though I admit that this seems to be the thing that gets pushed to the side. I am going to make sure we get it in at least once a week once we get back from Disney.

I know this looks like a lot, but we usually have school done in about 2 hours minus the read aloud time which takes anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes just depending on how much we do. The girls, especially Brianna, would have me read aloud the entire day if I would!

post signature

Monday, April 23, 2012

Child Training Bible Giveaway!!

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

A mother’s heart skips a beat when her 11 year old son asks for more time to study the Bible. And not only more time, but more time studying God’s Word together with the family. My quest to find a good way to study began. I was prayerfully looking over different options when The Child Training Bible appeared on my computer screen. I’ll admit, I’m a homeschooling mom with a true appreciation for office supplies. So when I saw that it required sharpies and post-its I was instantly interested. I sent an e-mail to Child Training Bible and asked a few specific questions, and I was pleasantly surprised when Mrs. Dunn sent me a personal response almost immediately. I ordered the kit on the spot and rushed to the store to buy the sharpies and post-its, and then waited on my son’s kit to arrive.

When you decide to use this program you will need to either order the Sharpie highlighters and post-it flags, or go to a local office supply store to purchase these items. Then you’ll need to order the kit from Some families use colored pencils instead of the sharpies. I found that the Sharpie Accent Liquid Highlighters do not bleed through thin Bible pages. You will see a slight shadow of the color on the opposite side of the page. But we’ve had no bleeding at all in our experience. When your kit comes to your home the first thing you’ll notice is the quality cardstock and bright colors on each card. The first card is to be attached to one of the first pages of a 9” x 6” bible. This card will have color coded topics on the top, side and bottom. The topics include Anger, Complaining, Defiance, Discouraged, Disobedience, Fear, Fighting, The Gospel, Impatience, Jealousy, Laziness, Lying, Making Excuses, Not Listening, Pride, Quarreling, Selfishness, Stealing, Tattling, Unforgiveness, and Wrong Friendships. You’ll eagerly tape this in the front of your child’s bible, and quickly reach for the remaining three cards.

Your remaining three cards will have the topics listed on the top, side and bottom of the bible. You’ll look up the first verse in the first column titled ‘Anger.’ Proverbs 14:29 is the first of eight verses listed in this category. You’ll look it up, highlight it in your yellow sharpie highlighter and put a yellow post-it flag on the top left side of that page. You’ll continue this till every topic has been highlighted and tabbed. Your child will be so excited!

When you see your child displaying anger you will pull out the Bible and flip open to the first tab in Proverbs 14:29. You may continue reading verses as long as you feel necessary depending on the child’s age and the time you have available. Now you’ll turn over that card and find some questions to discuss. For example, “Did you have a godly response to this situation?” And you’ll find a prayer for each topic, as well. Is there any better way to get to the heart of a situation? Using God’s Word, having a heart felt discussion, and praying together is not only brilliant, it’s biblical. At your fingertips you have all you need to lead your child in righteousness according to God’s Word. You are teaching her that every answer to every situation is found in God’s Word. Is there anything more important to teach your child? I can’t imagine anything more vital.

So, that’s what you’ll do, but what have we done in our family? My son, as I said, is 11. So he is finding, marking and tabbing on his own. And I did the same with my bible. I have a younger son who isn’t reading fluently enough yet to have his ‘big boy bible.’ So I know my bible will be used with both boys. And I’m adding another tab or two to my own bible with topics I want to study more deeply. We use it as a bible study by studying each topic together. We use it as discipline and training when issues come up. For example, my oldest son struggled with some fearful thoughts, so we simply turn to the light blue tabs on the top of his bible and read the verses together and pray. And we use it for further study on the topics given. If you are like me, you tend to think outside the box. So don’t feel limited to the example verses given on the cards. When you come across a verse that fits one of the topics, grab your highlighter and matching flags and add to your list. My son has already begun doing this without my leading. God’s Word is living and active, so don’t feel limited.

You may be asking yourself why you couldn’t just make your own. Let me give you some food for thought on that question, because it did cross my mind. First, it’s about my time. My time is stretched very thin, and I suppose your time may also be limited. Why reinvent the wheel? Someone else took the time to do it and I can benefit from that. Second, quality and customer service is valuable to me. These cards are heavy duty and laminated, so they will last quite a while. And Mrs. Dunn has given the best customer service. Third, supporting other moms in their home based business is important to me. The cost isn’t too much to ask for such a wonderful tool for my parenting, and by making my purchase I am helping support this home based business.

My youngest son is already asking when he’ll have a chance to put together his own Child Training Bible. This has encouraged my boys to dig into God’s Word daily. Each morning they pick a topic and read a verse or two together! And that is the most important reason to order the Child Training Bible Kit.

Want a chance to win your own Child Training Bible card kit? Mrs. Dunn is generously offering two card kits to be given away! Follow the rafflecopter instructions for a chance to win one of these two kits!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, April 20, 2012

School Limits

There are very few cartoons these days that catch my attention enough for me to be a fan but Phineas and Ferb has done it. The cartoon tells the story of two extraordinary boys who spend their summer days building out of this world projects in their back yard, or wherever they happen to be. The boys build everything from a giant roller coaster to carving their sister's face into Mt. Rushmore. To add to the comedic atmosphere is their sister who despite her attempts to "bust" her brothers, never succeeds as the projects mysteriously disappear just before her mother arrives. This is usually due to the antics of the villain Dr. Doofensmurtz evil "inators" being destroyed by the brave secret agent, Perry the platypus. Have I lost you? Well, take it from me that the show is entertaining.

Usually, I don't over analyze cartoons. There are too many things that just aren't possible to compare to real life ( I mean what HOA is going to let you build a roller coaster in your back yard?). However, I think there are some good points to make from the show if I make the assumption that these kids go to a typical public school during the school year. So let's do that, let's assume that these kids who are obviously gifted, attend your tradition public school, as seen in real life and see what this does for them.

1. Their school limits them.
Anyone with an extremely gifted child can attest to this. In a classroom with 25 children and a curriculum that must be taught in a certain time frame, children who fall behind and children who excel are the ones that fall victim to those "cracks" that everyone always talks about. Teachers can not teach 25 different topics at 25 different paces. It is impossible. So now the gifted child has a few options: they get bored, try to work ahead or talk and "disrupt" class and get in trouble, they quit trying because they are not being challenged and become the labeled "trouble maker" or they are in gifted and talented classes which may or may not challenge them and the first two incidences again become the likely outcome. All children thrive better in an environment that is tailored for them, but I would go further and say that gifted children can only reach their full potential in that tailored environment.

2. Their summer limits them.
104 days of summer vacation...These are the first few words of the theme song to Phineas and Ferb. For just a measly 104 days these gifted children are allowed to explore and create and excel. The rest of the year (with the exception of holidays), they are sat at a desk learning typical 4th grade (my best guess as to what grade they are in) stuff and probably prepping for a standardized test that they could take with their eyes closed. Think of the great things these kids could be doing if they had that kind of freedom all year long!

3. Their parents limit them.
In most of the episodes the parents never find out what the boys have been doing as, mysteriously, the project disappears just before the mom has a chance to see it. In one episode however, the mom finally sees it (the day is later rewound and she never sees it the second time). Her reaction was shocking. Instead of marveling at the intelligence it would take to create such a amazing project, she shouts and tells the boys they are in trouble. This happens a lot, I am even guilty of it, on a smaller scale. My children will create something marvelous, that took creativity, thought, planning and tons of imagination, but I can not see past the mess to see how amazing it is! Sigh, I am a work in progress.

I don't have a gifted child. Mine are quite average intelligence wise, but even in my own average children I can see how detrimental sitting in a traditional classroom setting would be. I can only imagine the damage it does to truly gifted children.

With that I leave you with this wonderful (though long) animation in which Ken Robbinson talks about how school kills creativity.

post signature
Surely the consequences of failing parenting 101 will not be too awful bad.
I have been sewing a lot lately.  I am dieting, again, and it helps to take my mind off the fact that I want, no I need, chocolate chip cookies.  The soft kind that melt on your tongue as soon as your teeth break through the every so slightly crispness of the outside. Add a nice hot cup of coffee to that or an icy cold glass of whole milk and you have a broken diet, 5 more pounds that settle around the worst possible places on your body, and more guilt than ever.

Yesterday, I was once again parked at my sewing machine. My children were being entertained by the Nintendo Wii and cable.  Every half hour or so, someone was coming to me, whining, crying, complaining or tattling on a sibling about some horrendous wrong done to them.  "But Mom, he looked at me! With his eyes!" 

Finally, I got tired of playing referee when my 7 year old daughter came to me, a hysterical disaster. She had tears running down her face, eyes that were wide open with hurt and confusion, and this voice.  Shudder. The voice of the supreme whine.  She got no more than 3 blubbery words out, a couple of wild hand gestures, and several sobs before I stopped her with, "Really?!  To be as upset as you are, I would expect one of your limbs to be severed.  Go wipe your face, calm down, and do *not* come back to me tattling on your brother."  I had no sympathy.

She started wiping at her face and eyes with the back of her hand and left out of the room.

About 30ish minutes later, I hear this from the living room, "Oooooooo you are going to be in trouble." Great, just great, I but contemplate getting up but I am getting ready to start a buttonhole.  I load the button, attach the foot to the sewing machine and hit go. In comes running in the previously sent away daughter. She looks nothing more than smug.  She says, "Mom, Micah colored on the sofa."  Her attitude said, "If you had gotten on to him for <insert whatever she wanted to tattle on when I sent her away> then this would have never happened. 

Frankly, I was a bit scared to go into the living room at all, seeing as how I essentially abandoned them in there, leaving them to their own devices for several hours.  So, to hear that crayon was somehow marring my brand new sofa was news that kinda terrified me and totally ticked me off.  I called for my son.
No lie, this is the conversation we had.

Me (in a whiny, tortured, complaining voice): Micah, what did you do?
Micah: I colored on the couch.
Me: Seriously? (insert hunched shoulders, thrown back head, closed eyes, and scrunched face) What made you think that was a good idea?
Micah:  Well, I did not know it would show up.

Um. Ok. I have no idea how this is logical, but I kept repeating to myself, over and over again, he is six, he is only six, he is six, he is six. 

Me: (incredulously shaking my head and speaking with a slightly higher pitch) You did not think it would show up?  But what made you want to do it.
Micah: You never told me not to. 

Blink. Blink.

At this point, I should have spanked him.  He is six, he knows not to color on the sofa, he should not have to be told "not to". 

But, the button hole was just finishing up and I wanted to see if it worked and then get a seam ripper to put the hole in the buttonhole and see if the adorable fish buttons would fit through.  So, I did not spank him.  I reprimanded him and reminded him to not draw on anything but approved paper.

After I sent everyone to bed, later that evening, I decided I should brave the living room and check out the damage done to the sofa.  I silently wished for a glass of wine or a nerve pill and walked into the living room. Thankfully, they had not destroyed the room.  They just messed it up a bit, but nothing more than what my husband does when left to his own devices in there... just sayin!  I willed myself to look at the sofa.  There was the red crayon, the marks embedded into the seam of my new microfiber sofa.....

I suppose I need to get around to getting it up, but that requires ironing and I hate ironing...

post signature

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Homeschooling Nightmare: The Bad Attitude

Cranky, whiny, unwilling to try, frustated, tearful, and just plain mad; all adjectives that describe the prevailing homeschooling attitude of a day going horribly wrong.  But what do you do about it and how can you get everyone back on track? This attitude won't do you any good.
When you are feeling all these things, you are no good to your kids and life is not fun anymore. We have enough apart from our kids to suck the joy out of our days, so we need not let school do that as well.  So, here are a few practical steps to help you find your happy place.

Take a break.  Call recess.  Make all the kids go outside and play for half an hour.  You do what you do to relax.  Do not stand around wringing your hands about school.  Go clean your room, sort your closet, ride a bike, lift some weights, knit an afghan, or scrapbook about happier times. DO NOT wash clothes - you may find clean clothes with the dirty ones and that will just annoy you more. DO NOT wash dishes - you could find the mornings cereal in the sink when the kids told you they had dumped it out in the garbage - you will be annoyed more.  DO NOT clean the kids room - nothing is more irritating than to go to your child's room and finding the $130 Nintendo DS on the floor.  (But, you COULD play the DS.)

Phone a friend with kids who act worse than yours (we all know someone!).  Do not talk about your kids.  Talk about hers.  I know this is rotten. But, it helps to see the mediocrity of others.  Do NOT call that mom who has everything together, bad timing, it will make you want more, and just overwhelm you.

Write a blogpost or Facebook post about the merits of public school.  This will remind your why you do what you do!
Get back to it.  When you get off the phone and call the kids in, you will need to try again.  Remind yourself Rome was not built in a day and your children won't be educated in one, either.  Rest assured, they will learn to read, they will learn their numbers, they will do it on their time table and not yours!  If your attitude is still bad, put it up for the day. Nothing is worth the damage you will cause to the relationship with your kids. 

Remember, if what you are doing doesn't feel like love, then stop.  Love on your kids. This morning my children eagerly demonstrated the things I do when I get mad or frustrated.  It wasn't pretty and I certainly did not ask them to.  It made me want to change. 

So, this is my blogpost, while my kids are playing outside.  I am going to drink a cup of coffee, call a friend, and then get back to it!

post signature

Monday, April 9, 2012

How to Make a Float Dress for a Little Girl

A friend was looking for a float dress pattern with a square collar.  Me, being who I am, accepted this as a personal challenge, even though no challenge was actually issued.  I looked at the dress and thought, "Simple enough! I can make that!"  So, I left a comment on her Facebook page, declaring my ability.  She was appropriately impressed and excited.  I was on cloud nine.  Someone was *IMPRESSED* with me. WOOT!!!  I set out making the dress, I had some white fabric I got on the cheap from Walmart - a dollar a yard! Holla! - and then figured all I would have to do would be to deconstruct the dress and draw the pattern from that.  Easy peasy!

Insert laughter.

The dress was easy.  I took some measurements from a longsuffering three year old, measured, cut, and basted away.  This is what I ended up with.

Rocking the muslin toile!
 I polled my Facebook friends to see what they thought and we came to the consensus that the collar needed to be more narrow and a bit longer.  I made the adjustments, deconstructed the dress, and traced the pieces on to freezer paper.  I traced the pattern pieces onto some really cute fabric and sewed it all together, added a couple of buttons on the back and ended up with this:

I know, she is absolutely adorable.  I think so, too! No! You can't have her! OOOOOHHHHHH... The dress pattern. Sure! I will share that with you. Find the link below and the instructions :)  This pattern is my first that I am actually sharing, so know some rules for using it.
  • This pattern and the resulting product is for your own personal use and not for resale unless I give you permission.
  • Cut around the outer edges of the pattern, not in the middle of the heavy black lines.
  • A generous seam allowance of 5/8" is included, this can be adjusted at any point in the pattern.
  • When you print the pattern, make sure the "page scaling" option is set to "none". 
  • Adding interfacing to the collar would not be a bad idea, but with enough starch it may not be completely necessary.
  • If you are a complete novice to sewing, this dress would be a moderately difficult project, mostly because my instructions may be difficult to understand.
Here is the pattern link: Float Dress size 2T to 5T

Here are your instructions. 

1. Print the pattern and assemble it. 
2. Trace the pattern onto your fabric and cut out pieces.
3. Assemble the bodice by putting the right side of the bodice front and the right side of each of the bodice back together and sew at the shoulders.  Repeat for the other bodice pieces that will serve as the bodice lining. Set both pieces aside.
4. Assemble the collar. First sew the front collar to the back collar pieces, right sides together, at the shoulders.  Iron shoulder seams flat.  Repeat with the remaining collar pieces. 

5. Put the assembled collar pieces together, right sides facing, and sew around the bottom and sides, leaving the neckline open. Clip all corners and turn right side out. Iron flat.

This is the assembled collar. 
6. Baste the neckline together.  Set the collar aside and hunt down the bodice.

7. When you find the bodice lay one piece down, right side up, on a flat surface.  Lay the collar down on top of it, lining up the neckline and (hopefully) the shoulder seams.  The shoulder seams matching is not 100% necessary but they do need to be close.  Lay the other assembled bodice piece, right side down, on top of the collar.  The collar should be sandwiched between the two bodice pieces. 

A Collar Sandwich!
8. Pin the sandwich together at the neckline and sew it all together at the neckline.  Then take the collar and fold it, roll it, or stuff it inside the bodice pieces.

Sew the bodice pieces together at the back edges and the armholes leaving the bottom of the bodice open. Turn it all right side out.

See the collar in there?  Pull it out of the bodice pieces, you may need to use your kid's Nintento DS stylus to help poke out all the corners....
 Now, iron everything again.  Below is my collar, laying flat over the bodice.  The back of the bodice should overlap about a half inch.  The overlapping part is where the button and the button holes will be going.  Overlap the back pieces of the bodice only (make sure the collar is free) and baste the bottom of the bodice together. Set the whole thing aside.

10. Sew the back pieces together.  Baste along the top of the pieces, between the dots. Gather. 
Baste along the top of the front piece, between the dots. Gather. Sew the back and the front together, right sides facing, at the sides.

11. Now let's work on the armholes. Take matching bias tape, either store bought or homemade, and place it on the right of the fabric, on the sides, where the armholes are.  Sew the bias tape in place. Fold the tape over the armhole and iron in place.  On the right side of the fabric, stitch in the seamline of the bias tape and the armhole, catching the back side of the bias tape.  This way you won't have a visible seam. Some people refer to this as "stitching in the ditch".

I made my own bias tape from the fabric of the dress.  You can see the seam on the back side but not the front side.
Repeat for the other armhole.  

12. You should have two pieces now. The bodice with the attached collar and the bottom part of the dress. To assemble them, you need to take the front part of the dress and place the front part of the bodice on top of it, right sides together, and adjusting the gathers as necessary and lining up the armholes.  Pin the outside of the bodice to the dress, leaving the lining free. Sew together.
13. Take the lining of the bodice and fold the raw edge under about a quarter of an inch or sew.  Place the folded edge over the seam you just sewed.  Stitch on the topside of the bodice, in the seam line, catching the folded edge of the lining. Sew in place. 

14. Put the back of the bodice and the gathered part of the back of the dress together, right sides facing, armholes lined up and sew the two pieces together.  Now you should have a whole dress, and no loose pieces. 
15. Mark off the spots for the button holes and sew the buttonholes. Sew on some buttons.

16. Hem the dress.

TADA!!!! Done and done. 

 post signature

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Review: In the Hands of a Child Favorite Animated Ballets Lapbook

Download a Sample of this Great Lapbook!

Every now and then we need a break from the regular routine of school. One of my favorite ways to do that is to pull out a lapbook and the best lapbooks are those that are both fun and educational! And what little girl doesn't dream of being a ballerina? In the Hands of a Child does it again with this Favorite Animated Ballets lapbook!

Basic Information
Favorite Animated Ballet
Price: $15

Extras needed: Barbie Ballet DVDs-Twelve Dancing Princesses, Swan Lake, and Nutcracker
Card stock or file folders for lapbook base

We decided to use 12x12 cardstock to make our lapbooks. Brianna had fun designing her cover!

The Favorite Animated Ballets lapbook takes your child through the Barbie animated versions of Barbie in the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Barbie of Swan Lake and of course, Barbie in the Nutcracker. Besides getting to watch the DVDs for each ballet your child will study fascinating facts from each of the ballets including fun things such as ballet positions, mythical creatures, and even how to make sugar plums. But moms, don't worry! There is plenty of other learning in there too! From the composers of the beautiful music featured in the Ballets, to vocabulary and even some math, your child will get a full range of school activities!
Favorite Animated Ballets by In the Hands of a Child Covers All of the Core Subjects!
Here is geography and some home ecconomics.

Pros: This is an inclusive lapbook. Every subject is covered at least to some extent. It gives a lot of room for taking rabbit trails and we found ourselves spending extra time studying certain things (my daughter is a HUGE fan of unicorns!). The lapbook is easily adaptable to various ages, though I would say it would most appeal to girls ages 5-12. There are lots of notes and as always with In the Hands of a Child products, the instructions for Favorite Animated Ballet are clear and easy to follow. Something else that I really liked was that there was a lot of easier cutting for younger children. We have done some pretty complicated lapbooks and sometimes even I had a hard time cutting it out! Since I like for my children to be able to do as much of it as possible this was a huge pro. I also really liked the faith based activities and information that was included with the exception of one thing which I will mention in the con section.

Putting on a Nutcracker Puppet Show!

Cons: There is a lot of information and this one took us longer than normal, but that was mostly because we were having so much fun! You will need to plan about 3-5 days per ballet. I don't know that this would appeal to a typical boy but I think with a little work you could make it work! There was one section that concerned me in the 12 dancing princesses that had to do with the spiritual significance of 12. I wish they had left that out, but it is easily skipped over.

Favorite Animated Ballets was a fun and educational activity and we are looking forward to doing many more lapbooks by In the Hands of a Child!

post signature