Fall ~ Homeschool & Outdoor Beauty

IMG_1944

Last week was our first week of the 2019-2020 school year!!!!!!  I tried to wait until September so that maybe, just maybe, the crazy-intense nausea would relent, but it just. kept. on.  Still!  We had a wonderful week, I’m so excited about this year’s curriculum.

Last year was our first year doing this, so not being very confident, I picked a curriculum to use that had everything already planned and built into it for us.  It was nice and well-planned, but this year I wanted to go deeper into the different studies.  I’ll post the books I’ve put together from good recommendations from other homeschoolers at the end.

First… every morning we’ve been doing an outside exploration time from about 8am-9:15.  It gets their energy out so that by 9:30am, they’re ready to sit down and do some school work.

The first day of school, my husband was able to go because it was his off day, and we saw an entire herd of deer and little elderly woman feeding them from her hand!!!  It must have been a whole family, because there were several bucks altogether, and even the bucks were coming up to her.  She let our kids feed them, too, and it was just SUCH a cool experience!  Too bad I didn’t have my camera (LOL this is why I’m practically paranoid to leave the house without it)!

Here’s some where I did remember to take the camera –

IMG_1946

My mom always wanted us to love and seek out beauty in nature or art, etc. it’s something I know I owe to her for giving me during my childhood, the gift of experiencing beauty – learning how to seek out beauty.  I’m excited that one day every week, she’s able to come with us on these adventure-outings where we specifically go to someplace beautiful and kind of take the morning off from school activities (it’s just one morning where we spend that long outside, and it’s like a mini field trip)!

They end up doing so much active learning anyway, I expected it to all be play, but some of their, “play,” actually reminded me of science experiments! :O  They floated giant leaves down a stream over and over again just to see which way they’d go.  Then our oldest decided to alter the path by setting rocks in the way… seeing if it sped up the leaves or slowed them down in certain areas.  Just so nice to be able to do things like this, whereas if they were in school, we’d have to wait until weekends where it’d be super crowded (and to be honest, we probably just wouldn’t then).

My oldest found this mockingbird watching us from the arch of butterfly vines and took this beautiful picture!  I’m so proud of his photography interest and practice!

IMG_1949

I loved seeing all the kids play on this hill!  They rolled down it countless times and had so much wild fun!

IMG_1954

The grass was soft, no rocks, and perfect for rolling.  They call it, “Tumble Hill,” 😀

IMG_1955IMG_1959

The sky was like a painting that morning!  The clouds just looked so beautiful!

IMG_1960IMG_1957IMG_1958

Then we all played in the water (me and the Grandma, too!!!)… it’s still hot here, so the cool water was refreshing to play in.

IMG_1965

There’s nothing like morning light.  It even helps trigger the hormone serotonin to be released in your brain – the hormone that keeps depression and anxiety away!  Just so good for them to be out in the mornings soaking up that happiness sunlight ❤

It definitely makes me happier!

IMG_1975IMG_1976

They found a little waterfall in the rocks.

IMG_1977IMG_1978

After a few hours, we changed and relaxed before lunch.

IMG_1990IMG_1991IMG_1995IMG_1996

The picture below is of one of my favorite places that is still the same as when I was little.  It’s a man-made pond with dozens of waterlilies and a cute population of frogs in all their stages of development.  I used to catch tad-poles there in a cup!

I was always mesmerized with it’s beauty.  This picture reminded me of that, as all our children seemed captivated for a moment.

IMG_2001IMG_2004IMG_2006

Now on to the coursework….  For our 4 year old, it’s pretty straight forward learning letters, numbers, the basics of writing and reading, and simple math addition and subtraction.  I already had tons of books for that from when the oldest was his age, so I didn’t need to buy anything new!

But for our fourth grader, putting together a curriculum by myself was intense!  I pulled from sources we know, and some from online, and was happy in the end with what he’s doing.  We had the option to do a Christian co-op where I could have paid for other teachers to teach him the different subjects once a week a, “day academy,” and then do the rest on my own with him the rest of the week.  We decided it was overall too expensive ($1,500 for the year :O ), but I was able to pull from their curriculum as well, as to what was being used book-wise.  We may actually do the day academy next year, the teachers there, and families that go are that great.

For now though, I was able to find our entire curriculum for about $150 total!  Such a better price and to be honest, I find it fun to teach the different subjects to them!  Sure there are hard days when their attitudes are off, but 98% of the time, it’s really really fun and interesting.

For Language Arts

IMG_2011

I found these books MUCH better than the standard curriculum language books I was looking at.  They were recommended from this fascinating blogger, SaucysandPiper, from Days of Sunshine blog, here.  Her blog (and photography) is definitely worth checking out, please!!!

The Building Language is just introducing the concepts of Latin stems, and the way much of our language (and different languages) are built from those.  These books are just beautifully written, and incorporate the unique architecture, roads and aqueducts the Romans built!  Caesar’s English 1 is a more advanced (all of these books are done by the Royal Fireworks Press for Gifted and Talented children – they really are very good!) form of learning writing, essays, and more on using Latin stems.  The Music of the Hemispheres introduces children to poetry, both reading and composing their own works!  It’s been so much fun, and nothing like last year’s language curriculum!

Not pictured is the All About Spelling packet we’re using.  Recommended from several places, and just an all-around very helpful way to study the words broken down into steps.

For History –

IMG_2012

I decided to use this series called, The Story of the World.  It comes in four hefty volumes, each one designed for lessons for an entire year.  The day academy we were looking into was using it, and several other people I found online.  The author, Susan Wise Bauer, does a wonderful job of explaining history in such a fascinating, simple way – like the telling of a story, which for children, I think how it should be.  Hence, “the story of the world.”  He’s been loving the first chapter, learning about how historians believe life began in the fertile crescent, where the Bible plainly states between the Tigris and Euphrates.  We found a documentary online that followed the chapter almost topic by topic, which was fun.

Also pictured is the activity book, complete with pictures, maps to color, reviews for studying, review cards, and then the Test/Answer booklet for administering tests for each lesson (week).  I like that he’s going to be taking tests and will probably come up with some for his science curriculum, too.  Developing test-taking skills are always helpful.

Bible –

IMG_2013

We do Bible classes usually right before Language, and only do it intensely one day a week.  These books are both good, and have some overlap, but overall I can tell our son loves, “Cold-Case Christianity for Kids,” more than the study book.  I found this recommendation from The Wintery Knight’s website, and it has not disappointed!  Written by a former detective who discovered Jesus’ authenticity by treating him as a cold-case, he teaches kids how to do the same!  Just So. Cool.

Science –

IMG_2014

I’m using an online course and textbook for his science this year, but this is the paperback that goes with the text, full of worksheets, diagrams to fill-in, etc.  We like paper so much here that I’m finding myself wanting to print his textbook off just so he can have it to go back to in order to study easier.  So next year I’ll probably just find something already ready to go.  My degree was in Biology, and I loved science, so it’s one of the classes I feel most comfortable teaching.  Even last year we ventured off the curriculum a lot to do experiments, read books, and watch documentaries on the topics.  Science can either be extremely dry and boring, or edge of your seat exciting!

I also having our son do a Computer Class (basic typing, then moving on to actually writing a book or short story), and Spanish, which he’s loving!  Both of these courses are online and therefore I don’t have to do too much, as it pretty much teaches him for me.

For literature and books for writing essays, I came up with a collection that was more tailored to his likes than the other curriculum I saw out there.  The one we went with last year, that I was planning on possibly doing again (total would have been $500) had a lot of girlish books for some reason for this year that just didn’t sound interesting for him.

Instead we got Oliver Twist, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Huckleberry Finn, The Three Musketeers (not pictured because he was literally reading it at the time lol!), The Trumpet of the Swan (a classic 4th grade book), Stuart Little, and the only girlish book, Rachel’s Journal which is the diary of a pioneer girl (we did a study on the American pioneers last year, and he really liked it).

And James Herriot’s Treasury of Stories for Children – just a beautiful book about his sweet and sometimes hilarious experiences as a vet in Yorkshire.  I read his books growing up and so it’s wonderful to get to read them to our kids.

IMG_2018

The illustrations in his book are inspiring, and perfectly capture the culture of Yorkshire when retelling his stories.  Here are some examples –

IMG_2021IMG_2022

Our son also wanted to do a Viking study this year, so to honor that I found these books, plus a book not pictured that is the fictional story to the Fact Tracker (Magic Tree House) book.  The Norse Myths by D’Aulaire, suggested again by SaucysandPiper, has been his favorite overall so far, his dad is reading it with him, but from what I’ve seen, the illustrations are detailed and, “Awesome!” he says.

“I also like to read it on my own when Dad is asleep,” he says 😀 .  The Eyewitness Book on the Vikings is a factual one to balance out the myths.  And he loves the Magic Tree House books, so the fictional and fact tracker were perfect for this!

IMG_2023

For Math –

IMG_2016

I went with the Singapore Math this year, because the day academy co-op we thought about does all their math with this curriculum, and if we join them next year, I thought it’d be better to be on the same page already.  It’s supposed to be good and is a method used in Southeast Asia for developing the nation’s children’s mathematical abilities.  According to Wiki, the method became more popular when test scores were released and showed their method to be at the top pretty consistently.  We may switch to Saxon if it doesn’t prove as great, though, have lots of friends who use that one.

Some pictures of the Norse Myths book (much better in person though) –

IMG_2024IMG_2025

I’m super excited about this year!  Just so many fun things to learn and do!  Hope you readers have a good, “year,” too!

May you always be a learner, and discover adventure every day!

Advertisements

End of the Year Homeschooling & Best Summer Science Experiments

 

Our school year officially ended right before Memorial Day weekend, culminating in a week-long celebration of just doing whatever we could think of to have fun and let our son know how proud we were of his accomplishments throughout the year!  And there was so much more he was able to learn at home than he would have learned in school! 😀  It was an overall success and I can’t believe how much fun it all was ❤ .  He was already doing well in school, making all A’s, but hating the structure and the boring busy work, along with the teachers’ negative attitudes.  I’m so glad he doesn’t have to depend on only 20 minutes of recess anymore to get his freedom of play!  And seeing him go on to become even more proficient at math, reading and writing was encouraging to me as his teacher.  He can now, hands down, write a compare and contrast 1-page paper, or a critical thinking paper where he analyzes the truth about a situation, and on top of that (!!) he’s learned how to do all the prep work himself by creating brainstorming pages and learning how to organize his thoughts!  My heart is just swollen with so much pride for him, and he’s only about to be 9.  I can see how homeschooled kids have the opportunity to benefit so much more than public school kids from one-on-one daily tutoring styled teaching.

You just can’t beat 1. Going at a child’s own pace, whether it be faster or slower so they really grasp a complicated topic, and 2. One on one attention with a teacher/tutor.  Consequently, you also can’t accomplish those two deeds with a classroom of 20+ children.  It has been eye-opening realizing that having our son in public school, was actually holding him back from his full potential being realized.

I also loved being able to dig down deeper into the historical facts about the places and people we learned about in the coursework.  Instead of a progressive and anti-Christian/anti-family/anti-male academic environment, he was able to learn so many Christian facts about the European people who construct our history.  And instead of being taught the liberal propaganda of the Native Americans being all good-natured, kind and oppressed people groups, we were able to dig into the realistic advantages and disadvantages of being conquered, and the effects of refusal to assimilate now on some of the residual tribes’ economy and way of life in contrast to other groups who excelled in comparison.  When researching all the early explorers and conquistadors, we were blown away with how Satanic the Aztecs were, and in reading letters and diary entries, were able to, “see,” from firsthand accounts just how diabolical they were in the eyes of Cortes’ frightened, deeply Catholic soldiers.  Walls built entirely of human skulls, the altars constantly burning from human sacrifice, hearts rotting as they were left in offering to the demonic gods they worshiped openly and joyfully.  The entire city smelled of rotten flesh and death, and Cortes’ normally brave men were terrified of all of it.  History books try to paint it as a paradise of sorts, being naturally beautiful due to the island set-up, but according to his men, it was like a paradise in hell.  Do public schools teach all this now?  I’d bet money they don’t!

I didn’t know Cortes was such a strong Catholic that he desperately wanted to place crosses around the city, and over the idols they worshiped.  He repeatedly tried to convince the Aztec chief they were worshiping demons, which they clearly were, and I don’t remember learning the many times he gave them the opportunity to forgo war and be peacefully overtaken.  His men even allowed the Aztecs to still carry on with their festivals, provided they would not engage in human sacrifice, (which didn’t work out, as they refused to forgo human sacrifice and preferred to revolt/have war).  In harsh contrast to the education I had on this man, he came across as humble, kind, deeply religious and overly gracious in his desire to persuade them to avoid war and violence.  It’s ridiculous how much progressive propaganda has taken over the school system with distorted facts parents have to correct at home.  How much better it is to just teach the truth from the get-go!   

*

Our curriculum also encouraged us to do a Family Tree project that ended up becoming so complicated we’re extending it into the summer and next year!  Even just today while researching some more on the history of our relatives’ house and the town they settled in, I found out that a different ancestor on my dad’s side (a Texas Ranger Captain), personally collaborated with the town’s founder to scope out the territory that would eventually become my mom’s great-grandparents’ hometown.  How amazing for our son to find out these two families were already in a strange way, connected.

We also learned that their house was written about by the man who designed Central Park, American landscape artist, Frederick Law Olmsted.  The house was already unique (built by Napoleon’s guard and a place where Robert E. Lee once stayed), but to read Olmsted’s description of it in his book, A Journey Through Texas, where he described it in first person, was just amazing.  He calls the town and the people who settled there, in comparison with the rest of Texas, “as far from Texan as possible,” as they were Alsatian, which is a French-German population of people who came from Alsace, a french province that has been passed from France to Germany in ownership I believe five times.

IMG_0619

Here is his excerpt on my great-great Grandparents’ house:

IMG_0622

Perhaps the most remarkable thing is the hotel, by M. Tarde, a two-story house, with double galleries, and the best inn we saw in the state.  How delighted and astonished many a traveler must have been, on arriving from the plains at this first village, to find not only his dreams of white bread, sweetmeats and potatoes realized, but napkins, silver forks, and radishes, French servants, French neatness, French furniture, delicious French beds, and the Courrier des Etats Unis; and more, the lively and entertaining bourgeoise.

I think the best part of this first year in our homeschooling adventure is wealth of Christian knowledge we were able to interject into what he was learning at the time.  Even with our family tree project, he’s finding out how important the Christian faith was in building communities that had strong morals and structure.  Or in crafting strong families with strong roots who were able to be sustained in hard or impossible times.  Even scholastically, our son was able to practice and learn most of his writing techniques in the second half of the year, while using the timeless classic Pilgrim’s Progress!!!!  So much of what he wrote about are concepts that most adults these days don’t even understand about theology and the spiritual journey!  His faith and love for God deepened so much!!  What a success it all was!!! ❤  You can’t get a Christian education within the public school system, and I’m coming to believe that it is our job as parents to give our kids a Christian education.

So even though we did science experiments all throughout the year, he still wants to do more science over the summer.  Hence the video at the top 😀

 

Related Links

Christian Kids Need a Christian Education

Public Education: Trapped by the Progressive Agenda

New Perspective on Mother’s Day – Christian Families 100+ Years from Now

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: You Will Have Deep Roots to Withstand Persecution

 

 

 

Life Updates & Homeschooling… Again

I have many posts in draft, including one that has been asked several times here or via emails on what I think about women in ministry… it is coming, it’s just so complicated and long I’ve been trying to pare it down to a more easy-to-read post.

We’ve going through lots of things this past school year!  Homeschool has been amazing, even though sometimes it can be harder some days than others.  For the most part, it has been wonderful getting to really focus on teaching our older son (and to some degree our younger son) things that we feel the school system was deliberately leaving out or twisting to be seen from a false narrative.  And we’re able to focus so much more on Christian ethics and morals in our lessons, and involve the Christian aspects behind historical stories and even in science.

And going through Pilgrim’s Progress has just been AMAZING for our son.  Again, I cannot reccommend this book enough to families with children!  It is a MUST read for the strengthening of their faith (and for yours!).  Just read it, and honor it in your house.  I’m sure the sweet author John Bunyan may have gotten some things wrong, but overall it is very on point and a good tool for building a child’s faith.

***

In other news, some of you may remember we’ve been trying to have another child.

It’s just been taking longer than we expected, which isn’t really “bad,” but every month when I find out I’m not pregnant, I feel this emptiness and longing… and tell my husband how I just simply want to have another of his babies.  It’s a very strange and sad kind of emptiness.  And I’m so so sorry to sound so selfish to any women out there who have dealt with never having a child.  I’m not in any way trying to minimize your pain – I’m sure I should be happy that we have 3 already (and I am!), but it IS just a strange kind of thing that I’m going through each month that I’m not able to conceive.  I knew it would probably take longer… I’m far older than I was when we had our first (almost a decade!) and I’m accepting that maybe it’s not possible.

I definitely am not trying to make it a big deal, and some people in our circle think I’m ridiculous for even wanting more children 😦 , but to be honest, it has just been a little depressing and hard.  And I never thought I’d feel those feelings when needing to wait or having to accept that … maybe 3 kids is “it?”  It’s ok, and I still love and trust God so much, but I’ve been surprised at these feelings inside.

***

That and we’ve been through an intense few months of my husband studying for a work thing… something that took him away almost every second of him being off, but thankfully that season is over and we’re more into a, “let’s finish school strong,” mode 🙂 .

We’ve actually become busier as I’ve started to teach another sweet little boy (5 yr old) who is the grandson of our neighbor.  His father and mother had him out of wedlock in high school (she was only 16), and have both abandoned him to other life choices (her drugs and he’s off at college very far away).  He’s practically an orphan and it is just so hard to see up close and personal what that does to a child.

We’ve watched ALL of this play out over the years we’ve lived next to his grandmother.  And now she’s called upon me to kind of repair what they’ve broken and neglected.  He can’t even read or write well, and I’ve been gently teaching him just the basics, and thankfully it’s been working and hopefully in a small way, it will help him.  It’s so tragic.  He is so sweet, and my husband even wants to adopt him.  He’s basically become almost a part of our family as he’s over every day, and just kind of folded into the fabric of our life.

***

Something that’s been such a blessing in this busy season has been the mom’s group I’ve talked about before.  It’s a group that’s mostly made up of very large, home-schooling families… think 4+ kids per mom who attends!  It is incredible the stuff I’m learning in this group ❤ and SO fulfilling to be around other like-minded women and children it’s hard to describe how nice it is.

….

So with all that above, we’ve just been so. incredibly. busy.  And I’m exhausted, but it’s a good exhausted. 🙂

How to Survive in the Desert

***

Our boys watched this as part of the homeschooling science experience when learning about the different biomes, specifically, the rainforest, desert, and tundra.  The oldest had to pick one to do a mini project on, and he hands-down picked the desert!

Oh what fun!!!!  So we’ve been diving into the adventure of EVERYTHING to know about the desert, and one thing he thought would be interesting was to learn how one would survive if they were ever stuck out in the desert for a period of time.

Thought this video might be something others would like 😀 there is a part 2, however we haven’t watched that one yet.

I have to say though, both boys were glued to the screen the entire 36 minutes long, even though a lot of it is just talking and explaining, they LOVED watching this man teach them that much!

If anyone who happens to be reading this post has ever had experience living or camping (or surviving!!) in a desert, I’d very much appreciate your take on this video (and your personal experience in general)!

 

Happy Baby Girl

img_0092

All of us were sick a week ago, and we were just getting better this week.  I’ve actually never had all three children get THIS sick with a stomach bug all at the same time.  I had to set up the living room so they were all sleeping in easily accessible places so I could get to them in time.  Every 20 minutes one of them would start vomiting, and this went on for about 5 hours, so I just stayed out there with them, trying to sleep in between those 20 minutes.  Just seeing little ones throwing up and their whole little bodies being so sick and in so much pain was horrible.  Thank goodness it only lasted that one night, and then it was easy to care for them the next few days as they were so weak and exhausted.

It was crazy hard, and yet very sweet and bonding in unexpected ways. ❤

img_0090

We’ve been finding out that homeschooling is not a very glamorous production 😀 , teaching and school work and projects get done, learning gets done thankfully, but at least for us at this time, it’s priority number one.  This is a nice way of saying the rest of the house gets tentatively put on hold at times, until I can get to it, which is very frustrating for me.  Laundry is clean, but needs to be folded and put away.  Or dishes need to be done, those kind of things are looking to go a little by the wayside at times these days.

img_0103

Hopefully I can find more balance to teaching and getting housework done, soon.  But oh how the garden is calling 😀 and Spring is coming!!!!  We are definitely going to be doing mostly outdoor classes once the weather gets warmer.  The days already look just like Spring sometimes 🙂 and our kids love being outside.

 

So… while the kids were over their sickness (and we were getting it and getting over it) right about the time the lunar eclipse happened earlier this week, and with homeschooling, something like this is a MUST, nevermind me still being a little sick… it was totally worth it!

img_0168

We didn’t let our oldest stay up for all of it of course, but we let him stay up to see the beginning of the eclipse and to try to get some pictures.  I showed him how to take moon pictures, which can be tricky 🙂

img_0169

You can really see the eclipse starting… when we first went outside, we could see the entire full moon!  This was just so much fun to do with our son!

We’re all feeling better now, and so excited for sunnier weather 😀

img_20190126_092156

img_20190126_092300

Thanks for reading ❤

Stephanie

Letters from Mentors: Will the Light in My Eyes Go Out from Not ‘Achieving All I Could Be?’

A few months ago, I had a discussion with RichardP at another blog about going back to school to get a simple training degree (2 years or shorter!) eventually when the kids were older.

RP said:

“I’d hate to see the light go out of your eyes because you one day conclude that you never got the chance to be all that you could be.”

I really don’t think he meant ill-will toward me at all, but something about his comment sounded odd to me, as if the only way the light in my eyes wouldn’t go out, would be pursuing more education and getting back into the working world (which realistically, this may not happen now that we’re homeschooling).  When something bothers me, I tend to ask women I consider friends and mentors what they think.  So I asked a few women who were older (decades older) to see what they thought of his comment, especially in light of our family situation of me needing to be home with our kids right now.

Stingray gave me just an incredible reply with lots of wisdom and encouragement; it gave me much to think about.

The whole point of having these “Letters from Mentors,” is to help other women out there who may feel the way I do, have the same questions or are looking for answers that aren’t readily available anymore in our sinful culture.  I hope her words blesses any women out there who come across this same sentiment like her words blessed me.

***

From Stingray:

Hey Stephanie,

I’ve  been thinking about your email a lot over the past months and I can tell you, this man’s statement is incredibly irritating to me, as well.  I have to say, you need to go with your gut on this one.  The light in your eyes is there because of the joy in your life.  You get to decide what brings you joy.  Not some random man who only knows you from the internet.  It sounds to me like your family brings you joy.
What kind of light would you really have in your eyes if you went back to school, presumably went into a good amount of debt, and missed all of that time with your family?  And while much of the world these days tends to equate the piece of paper you would get for your degree as an education, is that really what it constitutes?
Many would say that since I’m a homeschooling stay at home mom I am wasting my life, but I can certainly tell you that I am FAR more educated now than I was when I got my degree (which was useful in finding me a husband and that was the very best thing that came from it).
Education is not a piece of paper.  It is a compilation of what you have learned.  What better age to live in than the internet age to get a true education. If it is knowledge you desire, you have it nearly free at your finger tips.  If it is status you desire, which is what most women want when the speak of career, then yes, school is the way to go.  But as you said, at what price and will it bring you joy?
You asked if I have run into this.  Not personally, no.  I mean, I’ve seen people who really resent stay at home mom’s and whatnot, but it’s never been said to my face.  (Well, when I was pregnant with my first a woman asked me what I was going to do after the baby came and I told her I was going to be a SAHM and homeschool.  The look she gave me suggested I had a foul stench, but I just thought that was funny).
But being a SAHM has always been my dream since I was a little girl.  I never had any career aspirations. I did go to college, because that is what you did at 18 those days.  I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t enjoy working for the 5 years I did. 
I get that some women are happy working, but I do not believe that it is true of most of the women who make that claim.  I think they say it because they think they have to.  They believe it, because the alternative is unthinkable.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not unthinkable.

The alternative can really be what maintains that light.

Yeah,  I know that in the midst of diapers and sleepless nights that it might not seem like it, but really envision that dream you mentioned.

Having those Godly children and watching their effect on the world.  In 50 years, in 100 years, what do you think will have a bigger impact in this world?

This is all to say, that man doesn’t know what he is talking about.  He’s mimicking back to you the standard knowledge so many of us were taught growing up.  But were most of us ever taught an alternative choice to this?  Were we ever taught that something else that might bring us great happiness is out there?  Why were we never given a choice to make on our own?  The very fact that you believe you do have a choice says a whole lot.  Don’t let him doubt yourself.  This is your choice to make and you have given it way more thought and have more experience to make the decision than vast numbers of people out there.  It is yours to make.  You know what brings you joy.
Block the rest of the world out and listen only to that still small voice and your husband in this matter.  You will figure it out that way.  The world is not in your home.  Your home is where this decision needs to come from.
All my best to you, Stephanie.  Make this choice in a place of confidence.  Follow your gut.  You know far more about this than most.  Trust that.
Stingray

Books for Young Minds

IMG_9965

One of the gifts we thought to give our oldest (8) this year for Christmas, was the gift of some really good classic books.  We both have an intense love of books and reading, one of our favorite pastimes before we had children was to take turns reading to each other at night after the work day from our favorite books.

We want our children to hopefully share this love of books, and we think the best way to help them achieve that, is to read to them, and to read to them often.

Starting our homeschooling journey recently, I’d been trying to figure out what kinds of books to read that were fitting for him.  The coursework I’d chosen was great in all other categories, except the literature suggestions unfortunately.  I mean… this boy has been reading Harry Potter since age 5 in kindergarten.  He went through all the books of Narnia with my husband two years ago – so suggestions like Winnie the Pooh or Pippi Longstocking, although we read through them and laughed… they’re more in line with what I’m reading to our 4 year old.  I could tell he really needed more.

IMG_9967

The first one he was super excited to dive into was The Pilgrim’s Progress.  I told him about this book as it was one I remember reading when I was about his age at the Christian school I went to.  This book was so good, and so helpful in one’s Christian journey, that even 20-something years later, I still think about it and remember parts that reflect what I’m going through in my journey as a Christian.  Even now as we’ve started reading it together (he was so excited he couldn’t wait for the break to be over 😀 ), I’m given the chance to find new treasures and meanings in it that I of course missed at such a young age.  I told him this, too, that this would be a book he’d probably love to reread over the course of his life, just to understand the journey better as he gains more life experience.  I still think it’s good for children this young to read it.  I remember reading it and of course realizing I didn’t have those kinds of life experiences yet, but still understanding the wisdom it imparted and instruction on how to navigate different things like despair and discouragement, the hills of difficulty, etc.  And I can see that even though he’s only 8, he already comprehends those things, too.

Plus it is wonderful to read it with him, stop and then explain things about life and faith.  The characters in Pilgrim’s Progess are just so necessary for children to understand!  People who are “Obstinate,” or “Pliable,” or the “Wordly Wiseman,” or the man named, “Legality.”  Each one proposes an amazing discussion we then have about who these people are, why they are the way they are, and how they derail one’s life or miss what Christianity is about.

Rereading this book also prompted us to look into the life of the author, John Bunyan, who was such an admirable man in his own right.  Learning together about his own life journey, and that he wrote this book while in prison (!) was a huge lesson in and of itself for us to talk about.  We even read through Bunyan’s “Apology,” for his book, or rather struggled through it LOL…  Because of his use of old English and speaking in riddles, every line I had to stop and explain what he was talking about.  It provided new ideas our son has never thought about deeply enough, but also great humor as every sentence rhymed and sounded so strange!  Overall it was a great lesson in not only the history behind him being imprisoned for just preaching and living out his faith, but also his steadfastness in the face of persecution (writing a book he knew would probably not be accepted – hence the lonnng apology and defense of it).  It was also interesting to learn that some of Bunyan’s harshest critics and naysayers, were of course the fellow Christians themselves.  It’s always been that way, from the Prophets of old, to the Wesley’s, to Spurgeon, etc. and that itself is another great lesson.

*

The other books we got him are as in the first picture, Gulliver’s Travels, The Swiss Family Robinson, and Treasure Island.  He already knows of The Swiss Family Robinson, as it’s one of the my husband’s favorite stories, and it has A LOT of strong Christian lessons in it, more than what the popular movies would make it seem like.  We love it because it portrays the almost insurmountable trials of a very traditional Christian family, and shows them constantly looking to their faith and the Bible, and guidance from God to understand how to overcome their barrage of struggles.  Just a wonderful book for growing and influencing a young person’s faith, in our opinion.

And of course Gulliver’s Travels and Treasure Island are more just for pure boyish fun!  Not that girls can’t enjoy these books, too, although I admit I was never interested in reading these two.  Apparently, when men read these as boys they tend to stay with them long into adulthood, which to me is a mark of a very good book worth reading!

 

More books I can’t wait to read with him:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Oliver Twist

 

If any readers have suggestions for what else would be good for children his age, please let know!  I don’t think you can ever have too many good books 😀

Stephanie

Life Updates & Homeschooling!

20181005_164916

We’ve had a lot going on since school started!  We decided to start homeschooling with our oldest, to give him more freedom and a better environment to learn through adventure and doing.  His grades were excellent, all A’s and one 89 this last 9 weeks, but only getting to have 20 minutes for recess (which was sometimes not even outside if it was a little wet or cold), 25 for lunch, and sitting there for hours and hours just wasn’t working, he was starting to strongly dislike school – even though he was good at it!

I spent some time looking online to find if there were other boy moms who had solved this issue of their boys needing more time to play and learn through movement (and less teacher criticism), and found this woman’s amazing blog Building Boys!

Having 3 boys herself, Jennifer Fink intimately understands that being in the typical school environment, with all-female staff who sometimes don’t understand themselves how hard it is for boys and label them “problem children,” can break a boy’s spirit and make him not even want to try at academics in the later years.

Perhaps needless to say, spending seven hours in a day an environment that squelches his natural instincts and disrespects his interests has not exactly engendered a love of education in my lad.

Two years ago, his re-entry after winter break was so tough for him – and so heart-breaking for me – that I wrote a Washington Post essay worrying about the effects of school on his spirit. I wrote:

Re-entry after winter break has not been easy for him. The rules and restrictions of school – Sit Still. Be Quiet. Do What You Are Told, Nothing More, Nothing Less. – have been grating on him, and it shows. His teacher recently emailed me; she’d noticed a change in his behavior (more belligerent, less likely to cooperate) and wanted to know if there was anything going on at home.

My guess, I said, was that he was upset about having to be back in school after break. I was right.

The lack of movement and rigid restrictions associated with modern schooling are killing my son’s soul. (Read More Here)

On that note, switching to homeschooling has been AMAZING.  It’s like a night and day difference, too, with his attitude and emotions at night (he was starting to cry a lot, not wanting to go back the next day – just heartbreaking for us as parents not knowing what to do)!

But now his classes only last until lunch!  He gets to do a woodworking class that’s part of the curriculum I chose in which his OWN DAD is his teacher (he’s so stoked)!  He gets to actually learn an instrument in music class, instead of having to stand there for 45 minutes listening to a lecture and singing what he called “baby songs” (they really were nursery rhymes).  We even went on our first field trip this week as a family to the planetarium since we were studying about the earth, sun, and moon in our sciences classes this week!

And the best part???  Absolutely NO HOMEWORK!!!!!  No more having to do an hour of homework after he’s already been in school for 7 hours.  That hour, having to help him and sometimes re-teach him what they learned during the day so he could do it, was sooooo hard for our family.  The baby would often be screaming and wanting to be picked up or play with her oldest bubba, and our 2nd son would also be trying to play and distract him.  They love him so much, and just wanted to play with him a little before dinner.  Now, they get to play with him so much more, and it’s beautiful to see the creative games they’re coming up with that incorporates all of them together.

It’s also solved our problems with my husband’s schedule in that he was only getting to see our oldest for 1 hour in the mornings (he works afternoons through evenings and comes home after their bedtimes).  NOW our son gets to see him for 6-7 hours a day, and have him as a teacher!  The flexible and relaxed feel of teaching my own son is just incredible, how different from feeling pressured and anxious in having to force 20+ students to understand math concepts and move all at the same pace – I’m not sure how teachers handle that.

If anyone reading this has experience with homeschooling, please let me know!  I’m currently reading a couple of good books that are teaching me how to make it the best experience I’m able to, but I’d LOVE to hear from other families how it’s been (or even not) worked for them.  The good and the bad issues, what to expect in the future, etc.

Thank you for reading!

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaf-ing a Legacy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This start to the new school year has been so nice and calm, and very welcomed!  Even though I have moments of missing the relaxing summer days – and moments where I can’t believe it went so fast!! – it’s still nice to be able to get back into a stricter routine and learning and everything that comes with Fall ❤  I love all the seasons, but each year I still feel like this one is my favorite.

IMG_8742

Baby in a Cupboard

I love all the school supplies, too 😀  The new pencils, the erasers, the notebooks, the binders – it all actually gets me excited… as nerdy as that sounds!

IMG_8739

She thinks this is her “house!”

I also love this time of year, because it means I organize the early school preparation for our kids, and our second boy is old enough now to really get into practicing letters, numbers, counting, hand-writing, and learning about the world – for 3 years olds 😛  I have no idea why this makes me so happy – I didn’t train to be a teacher or anything, but somehow helping him learn and do his “classwork” is SO fulfilling and fun for me.  It was the same with our oldest, too.

IMG_8771.JPG

I like starting early with our kids, at age 3, which I know sounds super early, but I found it really helped our oldest be prepared for the scholastic environment of sitting for certain periods of time, doing work at a desk, and focusing for that long.  Especially for boys, it’s important they’re able to handle the environment to do well in school and beyond.  It was good that he was able to go into kindergarten already knowing how to write, spell some words, read 3-letter words, and do basic addition and subtraction.

IMG_8772.JPG

Our second son does his work while listening to classical piano music.  We’re musical eclectics in this house 😉 and depending on the time and mood, we listen to many different kinds of music 😀 .  With the timeless music flowing through the house, it feels so peaceful and just transcendental.  Both my parents played piano ❤ so there’s probably that element that makes me feel at home with it on as well.

IMG_8779.JPG

Homeschooling for toddlers is pretty easy.  I usually copy pages from 3-4 different books for kindergartners on writing the alphabet, numbers, shapes, matching exercises, and sometimes easy word “problems.”  I copy them so that our other children will be able to use those same books 🙂 .  Saves money, and allows for each child to have their own personal “notebook” of the work they did from 3-5 years old ❤ .

 

IMG_8780.JPG

Hopefully he’ll learn all his numbers and be able to write or recognize them by Christmas, that’s the plan for Fall.  And then in the Spring semester he’ll probably start on sounding out 3-letter words, copying short sentences for his writing class, and adding and subtracting as a primer for mathematics.

IMG_8781

We do art classes sometimes, too, nothing too big, but today we made things out of molding clay that my parents brought this past weekend.  He made a bowl with a textured design inside.  I’m actually really excited to see how it turns out once it dries and he can paint it!!  And our little one made a beautiful hand impression ❤  Love doing things like this!

IMG_8782

He’s using a real bowl lined with plastic to allow his pottery to dry in the bowl-like shape.

IMG_8766.JPG

Sometimes it feels like the days are endless streams of Groundhog Day 😀 but I try to trust the process that the little things we’re doing now will hopefully sink into their hearts forever.  They’re my legacy ❤ and I hope they’ll know they’re treasured.

IMG_8755.JPG

I’m in a book club this year for moms and we’re going through “The Mission of Motherhood,” by Sally Clarkson.  The book’s focus is on how to make our children feel cherished and loved, with a call to go back to biblical and traditional motherhood.  I haven’t read past the first chapter, but it sounds good so far, and encourages women to stay home to raise their children, at least when they’re young.

Seeing how fast our oldest has grown (**major tears**) makes me treasure the baby stages even more so!  I cannot believe how fast time flies by – it’s almost not fair in way, but of course they have to grow up and grow into adults.  I want them to know that home is ALWAYS here, and that they can always come back and feel loved and cherished and encouraged in their futures.

IMG_8737.JPG

It’s harder to find time to read online or write these days, but I love how the days are filled with SO much to do, and maybe the school year makes me feel more productive in that way.

Hope all you readers are having a wonderful start to the fall season!  Eat lots of seasonal foods and drink some delicious fall drinks, please!

Stephanie

 

Feed The Birds – Kid Friendly Bird Feeders

This past week has been very interesting, with literally one strange catastrophe after another for our family.  But we’ve made it through (!!!!)… and have persevered to Easter weekend (somewhat) unscathed.  I’m so glad we’ll be able to celebrate Purim tonight and Easter.  I love Purim… and how wonderful is it that Queen Esther’s faithfulness in spite of her fear and intimidation will be celebrated the same weekend as the Hope of Easter!

Holy Holidays are so special to our family.  I wish you the best this weekend as well, whether you celebrate them or not.

 

If you’re looking for a fun and sweet project to do with your kids to celebrate Spring, making bird feeders is a fun option – and there are a variety of ways depending on what you have around your house to use or what you save.

We listened to this Mary Poppins song, and sang along with it, replayed it.  Corny, yes, but really touching at the same time.  Apparently this song was Walt Disney’s favorite song, he’d have the man who composed it, play it for him on Friday evenings when no one was there in the office.  The man kept playing it even after Disney passed away.

My older son LOVED it, and the baby liked it too 😉

 

123412371238124312501251

The were easy to place over thin branches or on the fence posts with a simple rubber band.  In hindsight, pinecones would have been perfect for this because you can easily tie a string around their stem or even the end part of their body, and hang them so that they dangle down!

But these worked just as well, and the birds were happy, so all was well!

1252

One of our beautiful resident doves.  My grandfather loves hearing doves whenever I go to see him and we take him outside.  His health and alzheimer’s is continuing to decline, but even on his “bad” days, taking him outside and letting him feel the warm from the sun and hear the birds cooing, changes his entire mood.

Birds and nature are just beautiful.

1253

So it took a day or so for our birds to find the feeders, but eventually, even our resident red bird couple found it together.  They are so sweet to watch, always with each other, wherever he is, she is not too far.  And the male sings so beautifully, you can actually sing back to them, and they just might answer you back!

We were ELATED to see them eating off of the feeders…

1286

Where she feeds him some of the birdseed.  Seriously… they are so romantic!

1283.JPG

1290.JPG

 

And these pictures below were taken probably around 20-25 years ago, by my father… who also was a bird lover, and an amateur photographer 😉

I miss him taking pictures.  He was so good.

1130

 

1132

 

1131