August 29, 2013

What School Looks Like in Our House

So, now that I've shared with you how I hope to turn October into a month all about others, I'll write a post that's all about me (OK, my family, too!)

There is no typical day in our house.  If Larinee Dennis or Tomi Lowes or Courney Janes or Jess Corkern or the other myriad of amazing teachers I know ever came to observe a day of school for us, they would run screaming after the first 5 minutes and probably never allow me to write another Family Quest lesson or teach anywhere ever again!!!  Ok, it may not be that bad, but it's pretty close.

See, I have a problem.  (Admitting it is the first step, right?) When there is a schedule, I follow it to a tee!  I mean, no deviation is allowed, by me or anyone else.  Times are set in stone and I live by the mantra "10 minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable." (Though my husband would probably tell you I think an hour early is on time!)  When I have a schedule, everyone in the house is miserable because I just can't bring myself to loosen up with it.  It's a sickness, it really is.

So, the first year of homeschooling was pretty hard on both Sophie and I because I had a schedule for school and there was no messing with the schedule.  It's amazing either one of us survived, really. The second year I loosened up and instead of having a schedule with times included, it was just the order in which the subjects would be done everyday.  Yeah, that wasn't any better.  Don't get me wrong, we had some great days and I did loosen up and go with the flow much more, but it still was pretty frustrating most days.  I mean, one of the perks of homeschooling is that you are more free to go and do things, see people, and just enjoy the world around you and the amazing family God has given you, right?  Well, there wasn't a lot of that happening because I was still refusing to let go of the "schedule."

This year, things are changing.  I am working really hard at being flexible with the hope that God will open more doors for the kids and I (and Kevin when his schedule allows) to serve others, even if that means during the day or what would normally be school hours.  To do this, I have a new system, one that will most likely make you cringe.  Each child has their own weekly binder divided by subject:

On Saturday or Sunday I go through the lessons that are coming up that week, make a list of whatever supplies we will need, and pull out all worksheets to place them in the binder under the appropriate subject.  The binder is basically what I want to accomplish before the week is over, however that has to happen.  I try not to do school on Fridays, so we do our best to get it all done in 4 days.  Of course, lots of things come up, but I think it will work.  We've been doing school for 2 weeks and both weeks have gone well using this format.
Of course, each day looks a little different.  I try to be up by 6:30 (which is sleeping in for most of you, but I have tried to be up before that, and it isn't a good idea for anyone involved, trust me!)  I start with prayer and devotion time.  I let the kids wake up on their own (that's best for all involved, too!)  While I wait for them to get up, I take care of the dishwasher or laundry or whatever I can that isn't too noisy.  Once the kids are up, I get them breakfast (admittedly, it's usually cereal or toast, occasionally eggs or bacon or something much more "domestic".)  Once that's done, E gets in the shower while Sophie makes her bed and does her quiet time.  When he's done, then Sophie gets in.  She showers, gets dressed and practices her piano.  While she is doing all that, I do all of E's school with him.  (He just works better without her around.)  Once done with her piano, Sophie heads downstairs and we start school with her.  I usually let her choose what she wants to do first.  E just plays, either upstairs or in his room, while she does school.  Once her individual work is done, then I do science and history with both of them together.  I try to get all of this done before lunch, if possible.  I'll admit, sometimes we only accomplish that because I push lunch off until we're done. That's what snacks are for, right?
Of course, in between each lesson, I have E stand up and jump, or run to the TV and back, or do somersaults, whatever I can to let him get some energy out so he can get focused again on what we need to do.  Sophie gets about 5 minutes between each lesson to play, jump rope, go outside, whatever she wants.  That helps both of us to stay focused and not get frustrated. I usually give them 45 minutes to an hour for lunch, then it's to their rooms for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Sophie has to spend 30 minutes reading on her own or out loud to E.  For the rest of the time they can play, as long as they do so upstairs and quietly. That's usually the time I fold laundry or do the cleaning downstairs.  Another confession, that's sometimes the time I take a nap.  Yes, a nap.  Some days, that is just a necessity if we all still want to be alive at the end of the day! After that, who knows what we will do for the day.  Sometimes we read books, other times we run errands or meet up with friends or take a walk.
I am sure that was more info than you cared to know, but there you go, anyway!  Praying that God will use this new "schedule" to both enhance our learning and allow us to serve more.  Lord, mold our hearts to be more like yours.  Use what they are learning in school to draw them to You and to help them see that Your hand is in everything, from creation to math to the words we use.  Draw their hearts to You through all we do and in spite of our shortcomings!
Here are just a few more shots of our school area and what we're up to this year:
 Sophie's spelling/vocabulary work
 E's daily calendar notebook
 Did I mention I have given up writing out lesson plans?  Well, I here's what I do...I have a notebook handy where I write down what we're doing as we do it, then I enter it all into the computer at the end of the day.  Yeah, not an education major, can you tell?
 This is Sophie's shelf.  I am using the suggestion from the book The Well-Trained Mind to keep their completed work in labeled binders that I can pull out at any time to see the progress they've made or review anything we've studied.
 E's shelf.

August 27, 2013

A Big, Crazy, Wild Idea

Ok, so that's pretty much what all my ideas are (so sorry for all of you that get drug along with me!)  Anyway, as most of you probably know (or maybe not), I turn 35 this year (shocking, I know!  My amazingly young looks probably had you fooled!)  Anywho, I've really been thinking and praying about how I can start off this new year of life in a way that means more, that gives more, and looks more to others than myself.  How can I use this "momentous" occasion to model God's love, grace, and servanthood to my children and others around me.

Then I had a crazy idea: what if I "celebrate" for the entire month?  But, instead of celebrating me, I want to make it a month of sacrifice for me that results in gifts for others.  But, how to do this?  I have thought of two ways that I am praying about how to put into effect for my birthday.

The first is to host a shoe cutting party for Sole Hope (check them out here: and here: and here:  Not quite sure just how to organize this, yet, but I can't wait to do it!  Should it be just a few friends and their hubbies?  Just a few close ladies?  Should I invite lots of ladies and make it a girl's night out so we can make more shoes?  I just don't know.  My heart wants to think BIG and make it a church-wide ladies event, but my brain knows that sometimes my heart gets ahead of me and I need to slow down and take baby steps first!  So, I am praying about the best way to do this. 
I also want to take the month of October (though I know it will take about a week longer than the month) to do the 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor (  We would take the month of October and eat like the poorest people in the world, do a devotion each day that will draw us closer to God and share the story of someone from one of those places, and at the end of the month we donate the money that we didn't spend on groceries to a group that feeds the poor.  Now, don't worry, while I will most likely be going as far as possibly only eating one meal a day (dinner), the children will not be doing that.  Our dinner each night will be something from one of the poorest countries, but they will still get a normal breakfast and lunch.  The point isn't to make ourselves ill, but to try and truly understand how people around the world live, to see the blessings we have lavished on us each day, and seek how we can use what God has given us to love others. 

I would also like to take each day, using two "extra", intentional prayer times each day to pray for the people in the countries we will be eating like on that particular day.

This all seems so overwhelming, yet so exciting for me.  Kevin was supportive, which is such a blessing!  He knows just what I need from him in terms of support and reigning in.  Thank You Lord, for a husband who balances me so well!  We'll be doing lots of talking, praying, and planning between now and October and I can't wait to update you throughout October with how things are going!  Thank You in advance for prayers  about this crazy idea and how God will use it in our family to draw our children to Him and change all of our hearts to be more like His!

August 20, 2013

A Fleeting Glance

Thanks to some friends, we got a hand-me-down swing set shortly before we left for vacation.  This week is really the first time they've been able to use it...and they have loved it!  And it has been great for me.  It's a great break between lessons (not that we've done a full-blown day of school, yet) and gets out some of the energy.

Today as they were playing, I glanced out the window and Sophie was sitting there on the swing singing to herself.  I have no idea what she was singing, I could just see her lips moving.  It transported me back 27 years to 1986.  That was the year I lost my two best friends when their house burnt down and they didn't make it out.  I was devastated and just didn't know what to do.  I spent almost every moment with Georgie and Chantel and they were suddenly gone.  So, I would go sit on the swing almost every afternoon, look up at the sky to find a hole in the clouds, and talk to my two best friends all afternoon.  I shared everything with them that way.  In fact, I am pretty sure they were the first people I told about being saved, sitting right there in that swing, looking up at the clouds.  That was a sweet memory today.

August 13, 2013

Random Thoughts (again)

I can't tell you how many blog posts have come to mind in the two weeks we've been away from home...yet, as you can see, none of them has actually happened!  Some were fun and silly, some were gut-wrenching and heart felt.  All remained in my head...and will probably never see the light of day because they are now lost in the abyss there in my head!  Oh, well!  I suppose that's probably for the best. Anyway, here are some random thoughts from the last two or so weeks:

--I have been so amazed and in awe of the Creator.  I have seen some of His most incredible handiwork since leave Hannibal at the end of July.  We've been in MO, KS, CO, NM, and TX.  Just when I think I've seen the most amazing sight, He gives me one even more amazing.  The skies, mountains, lakes, rivers, and people have been more spectacular than I could have ever imagined.  The pictures I took don't even do it justice.  Lord, thank You for showing Yourself in everything-the sunrise, sunset, majestic mountains, raging rivers, slow streams, servant-hearted people.  I am in awe! 

--I need alone time.  Seriously.  Like, 95% of the time I need to be completely alone and 5% of the time I need people with me.  Which is ironic, because the moment you get married, the option for that gets cut in half.  Then add in a job, and it's even less.  Then add kids and it's virtually non-existent.  When I don't get time to myself, I am an ugly, rude, selfish beast. I think this is why I love social media so much...I can maintain a connection and still not have to be around anyone!  Anyone else out there with me?  And it's been on overdrive since we left...there just hasn't even been a moment to myself.  And it's really starting to show!  The grumpiness has taken over.  I am so thankful to have a husband who understands this and works hard to give me time whenever possible.  Bedtime is a little dose of this each night.  Kevin handles the entire bedtime routine, which takes about 30-45 minutes, and I get that glorious time to myself (sometimes I blog or check facebook or read or clean, whatever I want to do.)  Lord, help me to be able to mold and change and be what my family needs me to be.  Help me to make the most of whatever time you give me, both by myself and with my family.

--I am so ready to start school.  I am really excited about this year.  Our history and science kind of go together and we'll be looking at the Early Church through the end of the Middle Ages, so it's gonna be fun!  I am thinking we'll even tie our Halloween costumes into the theme, too.  E already has a knight costume and I am hoping to get one made for Sophie that would fit that time period, too. We're looking at Earth science and astronomy this year.  Excited to use Apologia science and Mystery of History for the first time this year.  Sophie will also be using Wordly Wise for the first time this year.  I am really hoping she likes it.  Another new one this year will be Writing With Ease.  She is such a great storyteller, but hates writing it out.  I am praying that God changes that in her.  I think she could be a great writer if I could find a way to help her enjoy it more!  I did find a free typing program designed for younger kids online that we will use here and there.  Maybe that will help her enjoy writing, when she can type some.

--Cannot wait for children's choir to start!  Our musical will be in Dec. this year (a change from the usual Mother's Day) and has a service project that goes with it.  I can't wait!!!!!

--I am excited, nervous, conflicted, and many other emotions about having our children with us during the entire worship service each week.  I love having them there with me, even though no week has gone as well as I have hoped.  I pay much more attention when they are with me because I am trying to explain words or think of ways to help apply what we are learning later in the week.  At times they are restless, but I do think they enjoy being there with us.  It really is a blessing to have the whole family together for worship in song and scriptural teaching.  Lord, continue to mold and shape each of us each week as we learn about You with our church family.  Help us to model worship to them everyday so that on Sunday it's not something new, just doing what we always do, now with others instead of on our own.  Lead and guide, Lord!

I have enjoyed our time away, but I am ready to be in my own home, on my own schedule, with my friends and church family.