Friday, September 19, 2014

Be an Encourager!

I really loved this article written by a homeschool mom from Illinois. She, like myself and so many other homeschooling moms have undergone the questioning and scrutiny of well-meaning but uninformed folks who don't homeschool. Her responses are kind and gracious but honest, and her suggestions for how to approach those who school differently than you do should be taken to heart.( It is always wise to put some thought into a question before blurting out the first thing that pops in our mind, Right!?!)

Here's the link to the article. Enjoy!!!

Quad City Moms Blog

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Our First Day 2014-15

Today was the day - the start of our 2014-15 school year. You would think after 12 years of homeschooling that I would be fully prepared and ready to start our 13th year, but nooooo. I was up until 2 in the morning trying to get last minute things in order just so I could feel a little bit prepared for our first day. The kids never seem to notice that I am really so. not. ready!
 We started an hour later than I had planned, but still seemed to get all of the first day plans covered by lunch time. I wonder if I"ll every figure out how to be really prepared before the first day arrives.
                                                  #2 child - not so excited about this day
                                                   #3 child - very happy that this day is here!
                           #1 child - the reason we started an hour late on this, our first day of school

           The day ended with a special dinner that we all enjoyed to celebrate our first day of school.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School Book Club - encouragment for us moms

Hello, moms.  Some of you started school with your children this week. Some of you started a few weeks ago. Some of you do school year round. Whichever category you fit into, it's always good to stop and get a little encouragement and refreshment along the way.

Lisa-Jo Baker has invited us to do just that by joining her for a low commitment, no homework, fall book club for moms just like us using her new book Surprised by Motherhood.

This may be just the encouragement you need as you head into another long school year.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Declaration of Independence, 1776

In celebration of our Independence Day, it seemed appropriate to post the Declaration of Independence in its entirety.  If you've never read it in its entirety, take today as an opportunity to do so.  I know I will be doing so.

Declaration of Independence
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. 
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the
political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the
earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle
them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes
which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by
their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit
of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed,— That whenever any Form of Government
becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to
institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in
such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence,
indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and
transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to
suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they
are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same
Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty,
to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.— Such has
been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains
them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great
Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a
candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the
public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained;
and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of
people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the
Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant
from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into
compliance with his measures.He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly
firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be
elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned
to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time
exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose
obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to
encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new
Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws
for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices,
and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to
harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of
our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our
constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of
pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which
they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases,
of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province,
establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so asto render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same
absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering
fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with
power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and
waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the
lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat
the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of
Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally
unworthy of the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear
Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and
Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring
on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known
rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms:
Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is
thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from
time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We
have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have
appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our
common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our
connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of
consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation,
and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress,
Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do,
in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and
declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States;
that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free
and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances,
establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right
do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine
Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

[The 56 signatures on the Declaration were arranged in six columns:]
[Column 1]
 Button Gwinnett
 Lyman Hall
 George Walton
[Column 2]
 North Carolina:
 William Hooper
 Joseph Hewes
 John Penn
 South Carolina:
 Edward Rutledge
 Thomas Heyward, Jr.
 Thomas Lynch, Jr.
 Arthur Middleton
[Column 3]
 John Hancock
 Samuel Chase
 William Paca
 Thomas Stone
 Charles Carroll of Carrollton
 George Wythe
 Richard Henry Lee
 Thomas Jefferson
 Benjamin Harrison
 Thomas Nelson, Jr.
 Francis Lightfoot Lee
 Carter Braxton
[Column 4]
 Robert Morris
 Benjamin Rush
 Benjamin Franklin
 John Morton George Clymer
 James Smith
 George Taylor
 James Wilson
 George Ross
 Caesar Rodney
 George Read
 Thomas McKean
[Column 5]
 New York:
 William Floyd
 Philip Livingston
 Francis Lewis
 Lewis Morris
 New Jersey:
 Richard Stockton
 John Witherspoon
 Francis Hopkinson
 John Hart
 Abraham Clark
[Column 6]
 New Hampshire:
 Josiah Bartlett
 William Whipple
 Samuel Adams
 John Adams
 Robert Treat Paine
 Elbridge Gerry
 Rhode Island:
 Stephen Hopkins
 William Ellery
 Roger Sherman
 Samuel Huntington
 William Williams
 Oliver Wolcott
 New Hampshire:
 Matthew Thornton

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 2 - Counting our Blessings

This was our DON day – a Day of Nothingness. I’m so thankful that we built this day into our schedule, especially considering what happened yesterday. It was so nice to have this day to just relax, let the kids relax and have free time, and swim! My children have especially been looking forward to the swimming! They swam before lunch. They swam after lunch. They swam after dinner, right up to the closing of the pool.

Since nothing much happened today other than swimming, I wanted to share another blessing that God brought our way to take care of a need that we had on Day 1. It did not occur to me that the place where we made reservations for our first two nights would not allow our dogs to stay with us. Because I wasn’t planning to board the dogs anywhere, I didn’t bother to bring shot records along with us. Now, we had a problem. We really needed to find a place for our dogs to stay for a day and two nights. So, I began calling around.
            I called at least 6 different kennels and veterinarians within a 4- mile range of us. No one could take our dogs on such short notice. Finally, one of the vets called back and said she could take our dogs but only if we had shot records faxed over. Quickly, I called our vet back home to ask that the records be faxed over right away. Then, the clinic told me that both of our dogs were due for shots so would not be able to kennel with any other dogs. Oh, my, this situation was getting worse. This, on top of the car problems!
            As we were thinking, I remembered that we have close friends whose family lives near Denver (about 2 hours away). So, on a chance, I texted my friend and asked if her sister was still living there and would they be willing to keep our dogs for a couple of nights. To my surprise, less than a minute later she texted back to tell me that they are camping near there and that they could keep our dogs for us. What a surprise and a wonderful answer to our doggie dilemma. We were able to drive the dogs over to them. The car managed all right, and our problem was solved.
            As I pondered on this whole experience of Day one, I am amazed and humbled that God cares for even little things in our lives. He provided water to keep our car running to reach our destination. He knew we needed a place for our dogs to stay even before we did and managed to have our very close friends camping nearby on the exact day that we would need their help. All of this causes me to feel extremely loved and cared for by an all-mighty, all-powerful God who orchestrates our lives when we don’t even know it. He is at work all around us. We just need to be looking for Him, acknowledge Him, and He is there, working all things out for our good. He is ordering our steps even when we think we have made all the plans. Thank you, God, for your deep love and affection for us!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ahhh, the Unpredictability of Road Trips

Day 1
            So, I had everyone prepped and ready for our 20-hour marathon drive from Washington State to Granby, CO where we had two nights reserved in a 2-bedroom suite.  We were psyched and ready to go. In order to make the 20-hour journey by car more bearable, we left at 9:30 p.m. This we thought, would let everyone except the driver sleep through about half of the drive time. We packed up all six of us and our two canine friends and set out.
            The first 15 hours of the trip went as planned. The kids slept off and on. The dogs behaved themselves. We stopped once in a while for a bathroom break and to fill our water bottles. My husband and I traded off driving every 3-4 hours. We had traveled through some beautiful scenery in Utah and Wyoming. It was great! And then, it happened, the first obstacle on our journey.

Driving up a mountain, the care began to really work hard. By the time we reached the top, the battery light came on and did not shut off. It seemed that the electrical system was shutting down. We pulled over on a roadside pullout. When my husband opened up the hood to check the engine, we saw water gushing out from under the van. Soooo not good! Fortunately, we were in Colorado on the top of a mountain where there happened to be woods for the kids to wander a ways into in order to answer nature’s call. Because, of course, the children need to go to the bathroom right at this moment. All of the kids handed their water bottles over to Daddy which he then emptied into the reservoir of the engine, and we started off again. We prayed together as a family that God would be with us, keep us safe, and help us find a solution to our car needs.

As we now headed down the mountain, we spotted a pond which was fed by a stream being fed into by snow melt.  There was a little bit of a water fall effect happening where we decided to fill up the water bottles again and finish filling up the water reservoir of the engine. The kids and I trudged back through the field until we came to the source of the water, filled up the bottles and returned them to my husband who then poured the crisp fresh water into the reservoir.  God had provided! We found clean water for the van and enough to fill it up. We had fun throwing some snowballs around while we waited, and we were able to make it into our rooms by 9:30 that night by driving slowly and using nothing in the car that needed electricity. We hardly even needed to use the headlights due to the long summer days.

Our 20-hour trip had turned into 24 hours and ended up being an adventure. I’m sure it is a day that my children will never forget.  They also had wonderful attitudes which helped immensely during this unpredictable moment on Day 1 of our road trip.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Crazy Dream of a Harried Homeschooling Mom

 I’m awake at 5:50 this morning because I just woke up in a panic due to One. Crazy. Dream.

It starts with me getting dressed and ready to leave for a weekend retreat with my Bible Study group. I have my special t-shirt on and a special button with the logo/theme for the year. Throughout the day, I find myself pushing my children to get all their school work done – a full day’s work. We’re not cutting any corners on this day. Then, my mom shows up. She’s not the simplest person to work into one’s day, by the way. But on this day, she was actually very helpful as I had to take the dog to the vet before I left for the weekend. This is not even our dog but one we are caring for to help out a friend. So, my mom goes with me to the pediatrician/veterinarian in the late, late afternoon along with the visiting dog and my children who have already pushed every one of my buttons and driven my patience into hiding as I rushed them through a full day’s school work. At about this point, I realize that it’s getting near evening and I still have a 2-hour drive to get to the retreat (which started that morning). At the vet/pediatrician’s office, I decide I should text my spiritual life director and Titus 2 mentor to let them know I will not be there until about 10:00 that night. I’m hoping that they found a ride to the retreat since they had been assigned to my car – and oh, by the way, I’m the speaker at this year’s retreat!  AAAAAHHHHHH!

Just before leaving with my mom, visiting dog, and 4 children to go to the vet/pediatrician’s office, a woman pulls up in a sports car at our house needing to talk to my youth minister husband.  Now I begin to really panic. I’m exhausted.  I am still trying to get everything in order to leave for this weekend retreat. AND, I know in my heart that I should not leave this recently separated, parent of a couple kids in our youth group in my house alone with my husband for any length of time! But, things. Must. Get. Done! So, I press on.

At the vet/pediatrician’s office, the dog gets seen rather quickly, but they don’t have the correct medication. While they are looking for the medication, one of my sons (who is mad at me for making him do an entire day’s school work) breaks his glasses and loses my phone. I have to call someone and tell them that I just cannot make it to the retreat tonight or maybe not at all. While the last vestiges of my sanity slip away, the vet/pediatrician finally brings out the proper medication and someone in the waiting room miraculously works out the phone debacle. The boy’s glasses are still broken. Oh, well. I’ll deal with that later. All this time, I’m actually glad that my mom is there to help me with the chaos which she wonderfully is not adding to today.

Panicked, I rush home to find that all is well with my husband and the needy mother/woman trying to make time with my man, only to figure out that it is Saturday, and yes, I did make my children do an entire day’s worth of school work.

Whew, it’s good to wake up sometimes – and find out it’s only Wednesday.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Learning Plans

Every summer, I want to give my children a break from our usual school schedule. However, every summer, I also want them to continue reading and learning.  To accomplish this, these are our plans:

Reading daily - a book of your choice and a book mom reads aloud (right now it's Tom Sawyer, which has a lot of interesting vocabulary!)

Writing is self-directed. I find that my daughters often write stories on their own without any prompting, so we take a break from the assigned handwriting and copy work and allow them to create on their own.

Spelling will be continued with a child who has been struggling.

Typing - We have been using online for free, but it doesn't interest my younger children. So, I will be having them try out a couple of different online typing courses as well as having my teens continue with their current lessons.

Mathematics - Since one of my children has struggled all year with math, we will be continuing one-on-one together all summer long. This is middle school math, so is good for me too!

Science - Last summer, we really enjoyed exploring the flora and fauna in our area and posting our finds on Project Noah.  Since we enjoyed it so much, we will be doing that again. We've already discovered our first entry! an interesting looking caterpillar that we have yet to identify.

That about sums up our educational plans for the summer. We will also be traveling quite a bit.  Other than that, I am busy collecting resources to use with Classical Conversations Cycle 3 and looking forward to some focused planning time.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Our Homeschooling Revival

September 6, 2013

Well, we have started our homeschooling year and just completed our third day - well 1/2 day. We will begin full days in another week or so. I try to ease the kids (and myself) back into the school routine gently.

I'm super excited about this school year. At this time, we are exactly halfway through our homeschooling career. We have been homeschooling for 11 years and have 11 more to go until our youngest graduates, barring any unforeseen life-changing events.

For the past 3 years, I have been struggling to keep up with homeschooling. I had all four kids to teach and was barely keeping up. I was wondering if I could do this anymore and even wondering if it was time to put one or two of them into a brick-and-mortar school. However, my husband and I both feel very strongly that this is how God wants us to educate our children. So, I knew I needed help and something different in order to continue the honorable task we began. That's when God brought Classical Conversations into our world in a way that I could not ignore. This is just what we needed to carry us through our remaining homeschool years.

I'm very optimistic (just plain jazzed!) to begin this second half of our homeschooling journey with Classical Conversations.