A Message to our little seedlings:

A Message to our little seedlings:

As your parents our job is to love you, protect you, teach you, and nurture you into Godly men and women empowered with the tools to be and do whatever is God's calling on your life and to do so in a loving, prayerful, and praise-full way! Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is not merely a suggestion it is the Biblical foundation from which you should derive your behavior now and always. As you grow, please read the Bible for yourselves, God will give you great insight to the teachings that we strive so hard to instill inside each one of you daily. Remember, you are wonderfully and fearfully made and we love you!

Love,
Your Parents

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sabbath Reflections







As the sun sets I sit alone at our Sabbath table sipping my dirty chai and thinking about how much our lives have changed since we became a Sabbath-keeping family. Our hearts and minds have been turned on God, His Word, His Law and His love.  At first, you may be one of the many who want to suggest that we have become legalists, but let me assure you that it couldn't be further from reality, nor the truth of God's Word.  We do observe Saturday as the commanded Sabbath and we believe that the Old and New Testament absolutely instruct us to keep God's laws.... because we love him, not for salvation. Salvation is a finished work, as in, once we accept the free gift of salvation our response is to follow God's ways, His holy Word which includes His laws, and to do so out of our love for Him. I won't get into arguments here, nor will I dump theological arguments in this post. My purpose is to give you some insight into how our lives have been changed for the better.

As we began our day, little Cassie tells me that she would like to finish her school work in time to be able to finish her preparation day work, SO that she can relax and enjoy their new SuperBook subscription. It warmed my heart incredibly. There have been so many incidences where our children have discussed God's Word and what it means to them and I've seen and heard them applying it in their lives. She completed her preparation day work (cleaning her room) in plenty of time. I also finished mine. 

We set the table for dinner and everyone sat down. It has become one of our favorite times to gather as a family; Sabbath dinner. This is something we did not do before and it has fostered such a family closeness in our lives! After we are done eating, Roz and I clear the table for dessert. Everyone LOVES this part! Then I make my tea and sit down at the table after everyone leaves the kitchen.  I look out the window at the Sabbath candles reflecting in the window and my heart bubbles with joy. The joy of the changes we have all experienced and how each one of us spends daily time in God's Word and we talk about it and reflect on it. 

It's sunset now, and time to put away my own things and put time into my relationship with God.  My prayer for you, dear friend and reader, is that you may also spend time deepening your relationship with our loving God. 

Shabbat Shalom, my friends! 












Thursday, February 25, 2016

You don't have to do it alone.

When you homeschool, you do not have to do it alone. We have a local science center that offer a homeschool program! It is fantastic! This was our second session. Last month was called Arcs and Sparks. Those pics are below as well. Enjoy! We are excited about Spring Science Camp which is around the corner, too! 



HAND ON SCIENCE CENTER
HOMESCHOOL PROGRAM
THE MOON PHASES
February 11, 2016















































HAND ON SCIENCE CENTER
HOMESCHOOL PROGRAM
ARCS AND SPARKS
JANUARY 15,  2016

A lesson about electricity
























































Friday, February 12, 2016



There are days when I think she loves homeschooling more than I do and those days, like today, make my heart happy. She drove everything today. She wanted to start with Bible Study. Easy Peasy had her in Matthew. She read and asked to start her copywork immediately! I expected the fun to dissipate quickly since we do not usually do full days on Fridays (as I'm usually being with preparation day work). However, she went from Bible to writing and then seamlessly on to Life of Fred Math! Charly had been given instructions to go play in his room. He wasn't quite satisfied with that, so I told him to build me a Lego car. He did a great job. 

Next, she had determined in her heart to build the weather station by herself. So I let her. You can tell she felt accomplished. I felt as though we were finished today, but she keeps telling me that I have to listen to her read the next chapter in the Boxcar Children book we are reading; Book two: Surprise Island. 

I'm telling you, that I never really imagined, not even in my wildest dreams (and I really used to dream about being brave enough to homeschool our children) that it would be like this. That we would love it SO completely and that the kids would love planning out their day! If you've ever considered it for any reason whatsoever, I encourage you to not listen to that little voice that tells you that you cannot do it; because with God anything is possible and, I assure you, that you most certainly can homeschool your children!!!!! 



Bible reading!

Cassie starting her copywork.


Charly was instructed to build a Lego car and, boy, did he deliver! 




Completed copywork. She's proud of this one.


Trying a reading nook! She ran and jumped in to read her Life of Fred chapter. 


Then, she ran to the table and grabbed her pencil and notebook to work on the end of the chapter questions. Since, this chapter talks about February being Snack Food month, I let her have her choice of a snack food while she worked. 


Then, she was ready for Science and asked to build the weather station.


And she built it! 


The weather station.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It is February and you might wonder how things are going for us. I have one word for you, FANTASTIC! C&C are learning at an impressive pace. For the first time in a long time, Cassie not only enjoys learning, but she is actually excited about it. I let her make choices where I can and there is a lot of freedom to do so. I feel like we use a pretty laid back approach while managing to hit all the important skills. We do Bible, Reading, AR, Math, Science, Art, Spelling, Writing, History and Music. This week, I added vocabulary. Here is the best part. We don't do each one every single day and no, a school day does NOT last all day, even with our breaks. I am generous with breaks especially on days when she seems to have trouble concentrating. 

There are core daily assignments and then we have activities that are done twice a week, three times a week, and some that are weekly. This has a LOT to do with making school work for my children and a little do with the fact that I work as a full-time night shift nurse three nights a week!  Yes, you can homeschool and work full-time! Truly, Mondays are considered off days. Sometimes, after nap, we do something like Magic School bus, or family reading, but that’s about it. Tuesdays are laid back days. I almost always do EP on those days because, even at 6, she can follow the directions and ask me for help when necessary. Truly, teaching your children happens in every moment of every day! Go to the store and teach them to count money and budget. Go to the park to learn about physical science through a nature walk.  Cook with them to teach them properties about water and to follow a recipe. But, outside of that, we all desire to teach them more. Here is how we do more at our house:


First, after breakfast, we have morning Bible study and discussion.  While her brain is ready for learning, I send Charly to play and I let her choose what is next. We usually go for Math. I let her choose whether she wants to do Life of Fred Math or if she wants to be on the computer today and use Easy Peasy Homeschool (EP).  The activities are a blast!

Next, is Reading. I choose her weekly spelling list from her Language Arts book. We have two to choose from; one on the computer with EP and the other is an older textbook by McGraw-Hill which was gifted to us, I believe it was found at a Goodwill.  I scored the matching McGraw-Hill workbook on Amazon for $3, but it hasn't arrived yet. 

BREAK TIME! If it's before 10am, and it usually is, then she gets an hour of free time. 

When we come back we jump into AR. I let her choose which AR book she wants to read and test on. 
I found a website call Book Adventure that lets you search for quizzes! Many of her books have a quiz available. You can create a profile that keeps up with your child's book list and quiz scores! She disappears and finds a comfortable spot and reads! Then, she comes back when she is finished and takes her quiz. She loves this! I sometimes have her take another to test comprehension after some time has passed.  We are working on choosing a chapter book for her to read during the week and testing at the end of the week. 

If we haven't already, we go over her Spelling and Vocabulary words for the day. I try to place this after Reading, since the list is complied from her reading, but it doesn't always work well there.  Her test is weekly. 

I may insert music here.

It's usually lunch time by now. They have lunch and then they both do their copy work. I use a website called Worksheet Works to make their copy work sheets. I pick a verse from her Bible reading and she copies it 3-4 times. Not only does it help improve her handwriting, but it creates an awareness to grammar and punctuation while she recalls that morning's Bible reading. Charly practices his letters or numbers on a copy work sheet or in the handwriting workbook. 

Or I may do music here. Music happens pretty much daily at some point in our day.

History and Science are done 2-3 times a week depending on whether or not we use EP. This is because EP's curriculum will take you straight into a history or science lesson.  Otherwise, we had taken virtual museum tours, visited science centers, or completed home science projects! History is a little less organized than this, a little here and a little there. I found some American History booklets at the Dollar Tree, but I let Cassie carry them and when we got home, we didn’t have them. So, I’ll try again. Feel free to offer your suggestions for History.

We have a membership at the Hands on Science Center (HOSC) and it offers great activities as well as a homeschool science program. They LOVE it! We also purchase fun science kits; Build your own weather station, Snap Circuits, Tin Can Robot, I won a Magformers Robot set online, and we have homemade lava lamp bottles and gak! (Nickelodeon reference) 

I have a strict no stress policy and if I feel like one of us is becoming stressed, we take a break.  Our day is fun and spaced out, yet full of learning. Cassie loves learning again and Charly is trucking along right behind her. I have purchased a few preschool books for him and, as he takes interest, I have him do his work just like Cassie.  Charly loves to do handwriting and reading. I got the Life of Fred early reader set for him.  He loves it. There is a website called Educents where I purchased the workbook for his reader set for $1 to print out.  (This is also where I scored the Life of Fred books for nearly free thanks to the Edubucks!)

It's really a great, fun easy time. There's plenty of learning, fun, and silliness. Today, she did Math through EP. She giggled and wailed in laughter at the math game and begged to do it again. Gone are the days when she would tell me she hated school.  I thank God multiple times a day for leading us down this path! He is good. Even though it sometimes requires a leap of faith to follow him, I have found it to be worth it.


Reading 

Bible Study
 The eye

Math activity on Easy Peasy.

Music. Learning guitar.

Charly's writing practice. 
Life of Fred Math

Cassie's copywork, or writing practice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

AND THEN IT HAPPENED........

                               We became a homeschooling family. 


Just like that, the decision was made. I'd had a desire to homeschool for several years and let fear take it from me every single year. I would research the options, pick a school and/or curriculum, get Roz prepared for the next school year, and then, at the very last minute become so overcome with the fear of being inadequate that I'd change gears and send her back to our city school system. I'm sure she thought I was crazy. Fast forward 5 years, maybe six, who's really keeping track, right? 

Now, she has siblings. Charly is 4. Cassie is 6 and diagnosed with ADHD. She's a little brainiac and I'm not joking, nor am I prejudice. She just simply is an above average intelligent little girl. She is a thinker, a philosopher in her own right and so full of life that the energy she exudes hurts other people. Preschool was fun for her and we were blessed that her teacher was a personal friend and our local pastor's wife! Cassie adored her and, consequently, did best when she was there for two reasons: 1) She was so patient with Cassie, so Cassie responded well and 2) Cassie trusted her and wanted to please her, so when she got reprimanded it made a difference and she would try harder. 

This dynamic disappeared for Kindergarten and, after a few short weeks, Cassie hated school and cried to stay home with a stomach ache every. single. day. Her teacher began calling and waking me up to tell me every little thing Cassie had done wrong. It ranged from "she won't stay in her seat" to "jumping around and singing in the hallways." As a night shift nurse, not getting sleep during the day began to wear on me. I began cycling through being an angry person with little tolerance for most of humanity due to sleep deprivation. I also began to have little concern for her teacher's difficulties and wished, many times, they would just deal with Cassie at school and leave me alone. After all, I dealt with her every day, so there. Wrong, I know, but I am being honest here. I began to talk about homeschooling as an option. My husband wasn't sure and wanted to take the Pediatrician's advice and try a medication. I was vehemently against it. It caused a little bit of animosity between us, but I conceded on the grounds that I got to research the options. 

I found a non-stimulant to try. We fought insurance for months because they wouldn't approve it. Finally, just as first grade began, we settled on trying a medication that insurance approved. I wasn't happy with the decision. I despised putting her on medication. Things slowly got better and I settled into a routine of sleeping well, not being bothered with phone calls, and Cassie seemed to improve and enjoy school again. Her teacher sent encouraging notes and I began to feel like I was a fool for fighting against the medication so hard. I had a routine of pulling into her school early in the afternoons in order to have plenty of time to pick up the other two in a timely manner. I've always hated the idea of one of my kids standing around waiting for me to pick them up. I enjoyed looking for her amongst the children on the play ground. She was always easy to spot, not just because I can identify my children from miles away, but because of her obvious energy and love of life. However, I slowly began to spot her easily because she was skulking around, hiding behind the tree, and standing by herself looking lost. Where had my Cassie gone?  

I brought my concerns to my husband and we agreed to ask the teacher about these behaviors, as we began to notice her having trouble with moods, being angry and sitting around with a strange lost, "I hate the world" kind of look on her face. We suspected the medication. We sent notes to her teacher who quickly sensed that we suspected the medication and she went on and on about Cassie's improvement in the classroom. I felt confused. Doesn't Cassie's overall wellness trump behavioral problems? Why wasn’t she concerned about these new anger issues and the darkness about her? Together we prayed about the decision to take her off the medication. I consulted her Pediatrician. She agreed that Cassie needed to stop the medication. Further, we agreed that medication was likely not the answer for her being that we had chosen what they considered a light medication and she experienced such adverse effects. Together, her Pediatrician and I arrived at an herbal solution to try. My husband and I had already agreed, that if this didn't work, then I would sacrifice work hours to homeschool her. After all, Cassie's overall well-being was definitely more important to us than making her fit into the little box to attend public schools. 

Immediately, after stopping the medication, Cassie's mood improved, she began to play again, laugh again, and seek out other children to play with on the play ground. Additionally, her mood swings disappeared as did her anger. In short, Cassie was back. Within a week, we got a note from the teacher that she was concerned about Cassie's behavior. It was all about staying in her seat. I encouraged the teacher to realize that it wasn't in Cassie's best interest to be medicated because her body couldn't handle it and we didn't want to put her through it ever again. Note after Note, day after day, I began to realize that her teacher had too much on her plate. Cassie and 5 other students in her class were simply "outside the box" children who thought differently and had different needs from other students. I discovered Cassie was bored with her work. I mean, in first grade they are still doing simple math. Something Cassie was doing before preschool because I am sponge when it comes to learning and so is she, so I started teaching them stuff early. This was a sudden revelation for me. I had taught my kids their ABC's, numbers, sight words, shapes, and simple math all before preschool, so what was I afraid of? 

I began to research the options and they were overwhelming. I reached out to a homeschooling friend to whom I'd reached out each time in the past. She mused at my being at this cross road yet again. Only, this time was different. I had purposed in my heart that, if this was the right thing to do, then I was simply going to do it. Lots of prayer, conversation with her, and discussions with my husband and the decision was final. I was going to homeschool the children. We notified her teacher that we were planning to homeschool her and that, after winter break, Cassie would not return. I notified Charly's preschool that he would not return, either.  I chose an umbrella school and paid for registration. This was becoming a reality. I was SO excited the day I got our registration confirmation and my teacher letter!  I received notification that Cassie's records had been transferred to the umbrella school we had chosen.  Winter break came and their last day of public school happened.


And then, we were homeschoolers.