Thursday, August 08, 2013

Homeschool Curriculum 2013

This poor blog has been so neglected!  Maybe the fact that I took 2.1 million pictures of AK and have only take 22 of Brooks would account for my neglect.  Trying to pick back up and carve a little time to keep up with this, namely, for my own records!  But I have had several questions about our homeschool life lately so I decided to join a link up with the ihomeschool network for the Back-to-School Blog Hop this month.
It seems appropriate that I post today, seeing as it is the first day of school for our public school district and living and growing up in this small, precious community, 80% of my friends are administrators or school teachers.  And seeing homeschooling is definitely not the trend here, 98% of my kiddo's friends are going back today.  Consequently, it is one of those bittersweet days for me...I HATE the feeling of being left out of anything and the communal excitement of the first day is something we don't get to share.  There is a lot of bittersweet for me in homeschooling...but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it is what we are called to and I love the fruit I see everyday as a result of the seeds being sown because of it.  Maybe one day I will write a post on the EMOTIONS of homeschooling...that decision and all that goes into it.  Though, I am not one to put a ton of stock in emotions seeing as they are human and subject to circumstance...they simply are not to be trusted.  But it is still the relational that connects I truly might just do that in the future!
Now, on to our curriculum this year!
Abby Kate will be going into 2nd grade; Bo into PreK and Brooks is still a toddler (2).  I am finding the order or rhythm of our day is going to be a bit tricky.  I am a routine girl, but love freedom to change.  I have to have some sort of structure in place to follow and am still working on what that looks like for us this next year.  With two VERY high energy boys that have very little focus, it is super hard to have a "normal" school day.  However, after reading several amazing homeschool books, the wisdom I walked away with applicable to us is that we have PLENTY of time.  My kiddos love to learn...and they LOVE to play.  My child development classes taught me the correlation between the two way back in college, before I had even been around children on a daily basis.  My kids pull at threads all day, often resulting in research through youtube videos, articles, books, etc...and that knowledge STICKS.  They often tell others (a sign of true learning) and can remember it years after.  I love that knowledge trumps memorization for us right now.  A dear friend of mine emailed me several months ago and we got into an amazing conversation about homeschooling.  We share the same heart for our families and homeschool objectives and I was so encouraged and inspired by our correspondence.  She shared...

What we toil over with "schooling" our children these early years, isn't always time well spent. God commands us to make best use of the time for the days are evil (Eph 5:16) ... Now, please hear me when I say this is where God has OUR family. We all need to pray and tread where God leads us as individual families. Now, you and I know the bible likens us to sheep as well - animals prone to follow whoever seems to be leading somewhere. I think it can be all too easy to follow homeschooling crowds or cultural pressures to "school" our kiddos. For our family, our goal isn't to school the kids in effort to make them smart, it's to educate our kids and help them seek the One who is able to pour out wisdom. The goal is godly wisdom - one our entire family is seeking after.
All this to say, it's helped me keep things in perspective - especially when I feel pressure creeping up to "do school" I glance at the 1st and 2nd grade math books still closed in bins we are not presently using and I can hear the whispering lies Satan uses to distract me. What if my kids don't know what they are "supposed" to? I have to catch myself... Who determined what that list of requirements entails? If God made all of us fearfully and wonderfully, we can't all possibly line up at the same time at the same rate ... ya know?

All of this has just made me wonder why I have stressed and tried to align myself with standards that I left when I was called to home educate the kids. My kids tell others we haven't done school since last fall. That's a good thing. It means they are learning the way you and I do every single day - reading things we are interested in - telling others about it - engaging in those things... it means that, for right now (we will do more formal lessons later on) all of life is learning and we're not separating things into "school" and "life" ...  I want my focus to be on God and missionaries and habits like picking up after yourself and telling the truth no matter what. These are skills I think are foundational to all of learning and life. So I want to focus on those these early years... even at age 9 or 10 they are just coming into more of themselves and their brains... so they can better grasp educational ideas... and if we hold off, we don't burn them out before they are ready. 

This was such an eloquent way to communicate my heart as well.  So I wanted to use all of this to preface my curriculum discussion.  We do not sit down and do hours of school right now.  One day we might but right now, we may do short bursts at a time or may have whole days that we don't sit down and "do" school.  But they learn every, single day.

I did purchase Heart of Dakota for AK.  I researched it a ton and did not see many negative reviews.  I love how you can open it and go with VERY little to no prep time.  We will continue to do Saxon Math and Handwriting without Tears.  She is reading on a 4th grade level so we will just continue to read both her to us and me to them.

I was given a TON of precious material for Bo from a family friend that retired from teaching PreK for 35 years.  I will obviously season most of it with Scripture and character lessons but I love the unit studies!  I have planned through December for him and have a different unit study each week...

But mostly, we will play.  We are planting a GIANT garden in the spring...and will begin readying the land this fall.  We are also getting chickens in the spring so will begin building the coop this winter.  We have been slowly making the switch to clean eating and prayerfully will be able to grow and raise all our own food in the next few years.  I cannot wait for my children to learn the processes of learn work ethic, to learn trusting the Father to truly supply...

I am deeply excited about this year...namely that we have a new homeschool room where all can stay organized and contained!  Praying for increased wisdom and knowledge for the kiddos and steadiness and joy for me!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

More house...

So I have finally gotten around to taking pictures of the remaining rooms to share with you...along with a few fun finds that we have snagged.  Gosh, who knew setting up house could be so much fun!  Especially when you love old things most consider junk (it would stink if my taste had higher price tags)!
First off, I removed the cabinet doors in front of my sink and had a cute little linen curtain made on etsy.  Love the way it turned out.  The cabinet doors will probably go back on as soon as Brooks is mobile until he can understand not to get in there!

Spring mantle with fun new vintage windows.  LOVE the blue paint on the tall one.  I also made rag garland out of fun spring fabric but this was an earlier pic and I am too lazy to download a new one!

The large 28 is from an old printing press.  This is one of my favorite things ever.  It is Bo's birthday and I just love the age of it.  I am still on the lookout for a 7 and 8 for Abby Kate and Brooks' birthdays.  And the washboards were purchases we made recently too that I love.

Adore this lamp I found at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago.  I am super struggling with styling this buffet.  My BFF interior designer may be coming by this weekend and I am going to have to pick her brain!  I want fun and unusual and of course vintage but have NO vision.  It is one of the only things left in the house to decorate!

Not sure if I had a good pic of these in the first house post but found these antique shutters on a trip to the lake last summer and though I had NO clue where I would put them, I LOVED the color, age, etc...and am SO SO glad I purchased them.  They are truly one of my favorite things in our home!

Abby Kate's room.

I know the lighting is terrible in this one.  Just so you can see the shape and she LOVES the chandy in her dormer!  I am about to repaint the pale pink chairs around her little table.  The table and 2 of the chairs were mine when I was a little girl.  

This is the play area at the top of the stairs outside of the kids bedrooms.  It was supposed to be a narrow hallway and am so thankful and the backside was supposed to overlook the living room.  We are SO SO glad we floored this.  It makes an EXCELLENT play space.  We spend hours up here.  

Kids bath

Mirrors are from Wisteria, cheap galvanized outdoor lights from Home Depot, rug is from Urban Outfitters and shower curtain from West Elm.

This dormer was also supposed to not be finished but I am so glad we went ahead and floored it too.  This ledge with hooks we had in our entry over an old church pew in our old house and I love that it fits perfectly here. I love the space it gives and we use the changing table every night after baths!

Bo's room.  This room is about to get a huge makeover once Brooks moves in!  I have so many ideas and am excited to see it finished!  Think vintage in every way!

Again horrible lighting!  Sorry!

LOVE this ceiling fan in their room!

School area.  Wanting to do something fun on this window some day.

Finally have rocking chairs on the porch!  My sweet parents and brother and SIL got them for us for our birthdays!  AMAZING gift!

Bobby made/hung this tire swing and it is now my kids 2nd favorite place in the world (first being our trampoline!)

We FINALLY finished the chicken wire for our upper cabinets.  Though it isn't a super dramatic change, I LOVE that it is finished and love the final result.  SO glad when things turn out how you imagine in your head!

And another fav, finally ordered these canvases of my babies from Mpix during one of their sales and ordered the subway art canvas from RedLetter Words that I have wanted for ages.  LOVE this as well.  LOVE seeing my babies in the one place in the house I spend the majority of my time!
My next project is our bedroom.  We have matching furniture that is about to get a huge makeover with Annie Sloan chalk paint (in different colors) and new hardware.  I would love to sell our headboard and footboard and get an iron bed (eyeing the coleman bed from Pottery Barn but would have to sell our bed for around that price).   A few new vintage finds for the walls and new/old quilt for the bed and should be finished!
Thanks for looking friends.  I would still LOVE for you to come visit any time!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


For years, adoption has been weighty in my heart.  I had always thought in the back of my mind how much I would love to adopt.  And after struggling for two long years with secondary infertility, I began to truly explore what adoption would look like for our family.  We joined an adoption community group at our church full of precious couples that had or were praying about adopting.  We were deeply blessed to be part of a church at that time in our lives that was PASSIONATE about adoption.  It was the norm for families to be completed through adoption and the faces part of different families often did not match, but were deeply, poignantly beautiful.  Our pastor launched a series about adoption right at Easter 3 years ago, deeply challenging and exciting our hearts.  One of the many things that stood out to me was him teaching the verse, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" James 1:27.  Somehow, smack in the middle of my favorite book of the Bible, a verse sat that I had never unpacked, studied or mediated upon.  I heard it and sat slack-jawed and humbled.  It resonated with me moment by moment, week by week for years.  Actually still does.  How had I missed this?  
Now, here we sit, two kids post the fertility struggle and most assuredly finished in terms of bearing biological children.  However my heart still begs the question, what does He want me to do with this verse?  What does it mean for OUR family?  Our pastor here has been teaching on adoption the past several weeks and it has revived a passion, and excitement in my heart for the fatherless.  I have had many situations hit me in the face lately regarding families neglecting and/or abusing their children in horrific ways.  And our foster care is in crisis.  These precious children that are suffering at the hands of the ones they are supposed to be able to trust above any other are now sleeping on cots in office conference rooms.  My heart just aches and I beg God to show me what He wants us to do.  I, like so many other parents, fear bringing wounds that some of these children bear into our home and exposing my children to horror children should not know.  Any child.  However, if we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ, He was NOTHING, if not messy.  I read this post on the blog, Foster Hope Project and it has haunted me since...
"I wonder why, in a country of thousands of churches, of millions of homes with a spare bedroom and an extra car seat, why foster kids sleep on an air mattress in a county office.  Why people who label themselves as Christians don’t see the face of Christ himself  in the laughter and the tears of these children.  Who will YOU see?  And what will YOU do about it?"
And truly, my apathy is sickening.  Why is it my heart is stirred time and time again and I do nothing?  Why is it that I can make a thousand lame excuses and sit on the sidelines?  I am so, so tired of doing nothing.  Here I am, a mostly stay-at-home Mom.  I homeschool.  I teach a couple of classes.  But mostly, I am home with my babies.  Can I minister to the masses at this stage in my life?  Sure.  But would it be in the best interest of my kids?  Absolutely not.  I believe so very passionately, there is NO WHERE, I mean NO WHERE else I am called to be right now.  I know my children are my single greatest ministry.  Their discipleship and coming to Christ means more than anything else.  Period.  But I also ask, how hard would it be to add another to the mix?  I don't work full-time.  I don't have a million commitments or activities due to my commitment AT home right now.  So what is my excuse?
About 3 weeks ago, I was putting Abby Kate to bed and we had already read, prayed and talked a while.  Then she said something that caused me to suck in my breath and for my body to instantly be covered in cold chills...
"Momma, do you know I am going to have a sister someday?"
Me:  "No baby.  We are finished.  God gave you two precious brothers who adore you!"
AK:  "No Momma.  I am going to have a sister you all will adopt!  And I will bring her home and show her our trampoline, and our room, and our toys!  (now she is crying) She is going to love it SO much Momma!"
Me: (crying too)  "Why are you crying?"
AK:  "They are happy tears Momma."
And then I was struck in the stomach again.  Breathless.  Questioning.  And now intensely praying.  I was told Monday by a sweet student of mine of her grandchildren she took custody of over the weekend.  She picked them up after their Momma left them.  Their Daddy tried to kill himself and was in the hospital.  And she picked them up and they had no diapers,  clothes, blankets, burp rags and...formula.  The 5 month old had no formula...and when she asked what she had fed him, the Mom said, "Just put some kool-aid in a bottle.  He will be fine."  And I just wept.  So many children suffering.  Hungry.  Wet.  Untouched.  Unloved.  Neglected.  
I am tired of doing nothing...

Monday, March 19, 2012


Many of you probably did not know we had homeschooled Abby Kate this year.  It was kind of a drawn out decision and then with all the chaos of our lives last fall, I just didn't talk about it much.  But I have been thinking and praying about it so much lately, I thought I would share my thoughts, the process of our decision and all the things I have learned this year...
After moving from the best school district in our state back to my hometown, I had no qualms about the school decision.  I know most of the teachers and administration and knew Abby Kate would be loved on and looked after, as well as receive a great education.  However, I also knew by the end of the first week, the majority of her innocence, that which we have worked so hard to protect up to this point, would be gone.  Something we could never, ever get back.  If you had told me 10, heck, even 5 years ago I would homeschool, I would have literally laughed out loud.  Even the summer before Abby Kate was to start school, I would have not considered it.  However, with a husband in law enforcement and the hard reality of a culture that is promoting truths so far from the Word of God, I just knew in my heart my sweet little five year old was not ready.  Period.  I know she will enter the world at some point, we just wanted her armed with truth and discernment.  I wanted her to have wisdom and to have undivided time for us to invest in her a value system of worth.  Daily.  Moment by moment. "Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up."  Deut. 6:7
So fast forward to now...
I cannot tell you how much the decision blessed our family.  I spent a lot of time in the fall constantly feeling like I was failing.  After reading so much about homeschooling, it seems to be a common thread homeschooling parents feel.  However, not unique to homeschooling parents but one teachers feel as well.  Our fall was jammed packed with a new baby, a huge move, etc...but we still spent time doing school and having so much fun learning.  So I decided to break down my greatest joys of homeschooling and why we have decided to stick with it.  We have agreed to pray each year seeking God's direction for the school situation with EACH of our children, and be completely open to what He has in store for each of them each year.
1.  Not missing a thing...I would say the thing that I have loved the most about homeschooling is not missing a thing in Abby Kate's life.  I cannot imagine her being away 90% of her day, 5 days a week.  I do believe God's purpose is to raise and equip them to leave, however as a culture, I believe we are forcing our children out the door way too early.  
2.  Seeing her continue building precious, priceless relationships with her brothers...  Part of the loss of innocence by going to school, I believe, it the loss of being surrounded with all age groups.  By placing 18-25 five year olds in one classroom for 7 hours a day is limiting to say the least.  It usually results in the child coming home and thinking their younger siblings aren't as fun or of value because the do not act and think like their friends at school.  I love that Abby Kate still considers Bo, her two year old brother, her best friend.  Yes, I am VERY proactive in getting her together with children her age, almost on a daily basis, but continue to watch and reinforce that her brothers will be friends for LIFE.  And her behavior shows she believes this...and it makes my heart so, so happy.
3.  Having a front row seat to watch her learn and truly comprehend new concepts...This year, probably more than any other we will have, has been fascinating for me to watch.  Though her Daddy has a degree in elementary education, I have not had an opportunity to see this age group truly learning.  Watching her learn to read, write, get numbers, fractions, etc...has just blessed my heart so much.  It is a feeling like none other to see the light come on and for her to truly GET something I have taught her.
4.  Being able to truly disciple my daughter...Growing up in a traditional, baptist church, I always thought evangelism was going door to door and handing out tracts.  I have never heard the term discipleship and had no idea what that type of ministry was or looked like.  But after attending college ministries that were discipleship based, I found my passion.  I later went on staff full-time with a discipleship ministry and found the one thing I could do in this life that every, single time I felt God's pleasure.  It was as if, for the first time, the light went on and I realized relational ministry leads people to Jesus just as the Roman Road tract would.  And it made me so, so happy.  And free.  I love that Paul says in 1 Cor. "Follow me, as I follow Christ."  Which is such a sweet, simple definition of evangelism.  It is exactly what we are called to do each day with our children.  Show them Jesus through an intentional life.  And I love that I am still getting to do this full-time, all day, every day.  (With plenty of need for grace and asking forgiveness EACH DAY...from both my kids and my Savior)
5.  Being able to still be the guardian of her gate...  I love that we still get to guard her heart and mind.  I love that we can stand at the gate and let the things through that we have prayed over and deemed worthy to pass through.  Yes, things get by.  Yes, we won't always be able to do this fully, though as long as they are at home, I believe we are called to on some level.  Especially Daddys.  But I love getting to do this for my six year old.  Just an example....over Christmas, we went on a family date to eat and then to the movies.  I have done my research on the movies showing and picked one I thought would be most appropriate.  Then I bought her the cd for her stocking.  It was the kids version of several VERY adult songs.  And she loved it.  She literally had it playing almost all the time in her room.  Until we had a few things arise that I knew needed to be addressed in her heart.  And I prayed and God revealed I needed to take that cd away.  I was dreading it so.  SO God put it in my heart to burn her a cd with all my favorite Christian songs on it.  I made her a special little cover that had the verse, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."  Luke 6:45  And she was thrilled.  She now plays that cd as much or more than the old one and she is filling her heart with GOOD things.  Not to mention I had to ask her forgiveness for letting something through the gate that was not the best for her.
6.  Love that most days, SHE initiates learning...I really struggled through the fall feeling like we weren't spending enough time on school.  We had about 15 minutes of sit down learn time and after research and reflection, so much of a traditional school day is filled with play learning, standing in line, etc...and so I realized we were doing just fine.  Then a step further, I realized one day while she and I were laying on the trampoline during naptime, we heard a woodpecker.  She wanted to know all about it so we went inside and read about woodpeckers.  She learned the types we have here and all about there eating, habits, habitats, etc...and I realized through how interested she was and how she has shared the information she has learned several times that INITIATED learning sticks so much better than required memorization.  
7.  Though this has been said countless times by other homeschooling parents and research, I love that she is getting a personalized education with her teacher's undivided attention.  Very simply, this is probably one of the greatest advantages of homeschooling.  Period.  There is no one on earth that is going to care more or desire to invest more in my own child than me.  Teachers have the incredibly hard job of having to attempt this with 20+ students.  Cannot imagine.  We still pray so hard for them and the incredible task they have before them. 
8.  Love that she is learning daily responsibilities of the home...One thing that a sweet friend that homeschools shared with me long before I decided to was that she loved that education also incorporated the sweet tasks of daily home life.  Having Abby Kate see me mother, care for the home, plan and order our days is a sweet advantage.  In a culture that is so fast, always away from the home, eating out and racing from one activity to the other, I love that she is learning the time honored privilege of motherhood.

I literally could go on and on.  Ultimately, I feel beyond blessed to be able to teach my children.  I love this aspect of our life.  We still pray and know someday, Abby Kate and our boys may be students at a school.  But right now, I love having them learning right by my side....

Monday, December 12, 2011

The House!

So many of you have asked to see pics which is so so sweet!  So here is a little tour of our new home!  So wish I could have each of you here for some hot chocolate and cookies and get to catch up so please consider this an invitation.  We are loving it here so so much.  The view out back is breathtaking and we daily watch the beautiful wildlife come to our pond....deer, coyotes, ducks, geese, horses and even a blue heron!  It is amazing.  Our porches truly are my favorite part.  So when the weather turns warmer and the days get a bit longer, drop by anytime and come rock with us!
So here we go....
I so desired to find a fun, antique door for my pantry but decided to make one work for a while until I could find one...made it a little more fun with chalkboard paint!

One of my favorites...built-in armoires with chicken wire...all of the upper small cabs will get chicken wire as well as soon as my hubby can get to it!

Eating area....

Living Room...LOVE our tongue and groove walls.  This ended up working because we did it directly to the framing and did not sheetrock this area.  My sweet hubby and his buddy did this in one, LONG, HOT 12 hour day!

Entry way...

Master bath....

 LOVE our tile but was sad they sent white grout...wanted dark grey/black and I think I forgot the mention that to them.  Oops!  Oh is getting dirtier by the day and will be there in no time!

Love the way this finish turned out!

Another view of living area....

School area...

Kids bath...did not LOVE this color once it was finished.  Hope to wallpaper it with rustic, barnwood wallpaper sometime soon!

View of pond from my desk area

Brooks room...still have a few things to hang on the wall.  Vintage pennants and a huge vintage poster of the St. Louis Cardinals in their dugout while playing the Cubs.

Guest bath...
Front porch...can't wait to fill this with rocking chairs and a swing!

My desk area...LOVE that is right off the kitchen so our kids will not ever be on the computer without what they are looking at being in full view!
So there it is!  There is still SO much I want to do but have settled in for now.  I didn't include pics of Abby Kate's room because it is still not finished and Bo was asleep so I couldn't take pics!  And our bedroom is still a mess and the one I hope to replace furniture with very first.  Everything in there matches and I can't wait to toss the matchy look and replace it with fun, vintage furniture and a great, old quilt!  We built this house in complete "our style" that has evolved over the years.  We are getting rid of literally half our things and have repurosed/painted a ton of the remaining things and have agreed to just wait until we sell the rest to add new pieces.  Our philosophy is to fill our home with old things we adore and to NEVER go into debt.  This house is new but we so wanted it to feel old.  We both love antiques and are anxious to replace so much of our "new" pieces with antique (or better yet, junktiques!) some day.  Love old, chippy things so much!  Thanks for joining me on the tour!  Please come visit soon!