Friday, August 29, 2014

Our First Week Back to School

On Monday, we started back into our school groove. This year was the easiest transition we have ever experienced and I believe it is largely due to the fact these three kiddos are older, more mature, and have a few years of practicing good habits under their belts (thank you Charlotte Mason). 

I liked the way our 1st day of school pictures turned out last year, so I did the same thing this year. It is so fun (and a little sad) to look back and see how much they have grown and changed in a year's time. 

We are adding more geography to our daily work after reading "The Core" by Leigh Bortins and some wonderful blog posts over at Homegrown Learners. My children know their U.S. geography very well, so I thought starting out tracing the United States would be a great way to ease them into this new activity. 

Lauren had her first violin lesson this week and was very excited. She actually described herself as "nervous-cited." Tyler is continuing his drum lessons and even plays in our worship service a couple times each month. Kailtyn is progressing well in her piano lessons as well. 

I am truly a blessed woman. My husband is so much fun to parent with. This week we had a lot of great family time and he is once again teaching science this year. He is using Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space and he has been pleased and impressed with this curriculum as he has been preparing lessons the past few weeks.  It is so wonderful having this subject taken off my plate. He is also going to teach a public speaking class at our co-op this fall.

I am linking this post up with Homegrown Learner's Collage Friday. You should check it out. It is always a fun place to visit on the web for encouragement and ideas.

Summer Reading

I stumbled upon a summer reading challenge (thanks Facebook) through Exodus Books and printed off some book lists for my children to choose from. My husband and I challenged the children to read two books from this list and if they did, they would be rewarded.

Here are the books from the challenge, my children chose to read this summer:

Ender's Game by Orson Card
Hitler by Alabert Marrin

Little Women and  Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Little Pilgrim's Progress by Helen L. Taylor
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine (audio)

Elmer the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine (audio)

The children also read a few other books of their own choosing (not from the challenge list). Lauren enjoyed reading some of Judy Blume's books for the first time and it was fun watching her discover a new author she likes. She also felt a little ignored by her sister this summer and said, "It's hard to deal with her (Kaitlyn) when she's reading a book she really likes."

Kaitlyn had two experiences this summer when she said she was sad when the book ended and those books were "Little Women" and "A Wrinkle in Time."

When Tyler read  "Hitler" he was fascinated by what he learned and was constantly narrating to his dad and I what he had read.  He thought deeply about the sadness of this man's life and his cruelty and evil.

My girls also chose to participate in our local library's summer reading program and enjoyed reading and earning some small prizes.

How about you and your family? Did you enjoy any great books this summer? 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

We Have Now Entered the Teenage Zone

Tyler got TWO celebrations for his birthday this year, and I guess your 13th is a good one for that. On his actual birthday, our family traveled to meet my husband's family for a few days of lake fun. Tyler's grandpa rented a boat and they spent the morning fishing (which is his favorite outdoor activity). 

When we returned home, Tyler and a couple of his friends went and played laser tag and then came back to the house for pizza and a 2nd birthday cake. I think he would say his 13th birthday was very special and memorable. 

I'm still not recognizing this birthday. He can't possibly be a teenager. Perhaps that's why I'm posting about his 13th birthday 21 days after it happened.

I love this boy - I mean young man.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Women's Literacy Programs in Asia

Our entire family loves to read and I know for certain we have taken for granted the access we have to an education here in our country. This is often not the case for women in Asia, since more than 30% of them do not know how to read. This means they cannot read warning labels or basic contracts and this puts their families at risk.

Gospel for Asia is trying to help women in Asia through their women's literacy programs. They teach women how to read and write using Bible materials. When the women finish the program, they not only know how to read and write, but they have also learned about Christ.

Please consider giving today to help a woman in Asia learn how to read. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Basketball Camp

Last week my girls participated in a 5-day basketball camp and had a great time.

My phone doesn't take the best action shots, but this was such a fun-filled week for my girls, I had to share a little bit about it on the blog. The camp was reasonably priced and they received a t-shirt, water bottle, and basketball. I think our fee more than paid for all the free things plus all the instruction and fun they received. This camp was an Upwards basketball camp. Upwards is a wonderful, safe, and recreational way for children to learn or continue to learn basketball skills. 

Have your children enjoyed any sports camps this year? 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer Bucket List

At the beginning of summer, I found this FREE printable and had the children take turns writing things down. Here's some proof that we didn't just make a list of things to do, but we are actually taking action and getting some fun accomplished this summer!

We enjoyed going on a picnic and fishing and visiting a local ice cream shop. We are now trying to decide on a nearby zoo to visit before our summer ends. Last summer back in PA, we were busy trying to sell our home, packing boxes, and saying "good-bye" to all our friends. There was  not much room for fun activities like this because there was so much work to be done. This summer has been full of fun trips and activities and it's not even over yet!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Millions Need Clean Water

Clean water is something I take for granted. I take a few steps to one of three sinks in my home, turn the faucet on and clean water comes out. Unfortunately, this is not true for millions in Asia. Women walk several miles from their homes to find the nearest water source, which is often stagnant ponds or dirty rivers. As a result, millions of people in Asia are plagued by waterborne illnesses.

I would like to tell you about my friend Annette. She was burdened by the plight of the millions in Asia living without clean water and she wanted to do something about it. For her 42nd birthday, she set a goal to raise $1,000 to help ONE village in Asia receive a Jesus Well. The Lord took Annette home before she could see her goal reached, but since her passing, people have given enough for 20 Jesus Wells in her memory.  I miss my encouraging friend and tears sting my eyes as I type this, but I KNOW she is with Jesus and she radiantly glorified Him in the way she loved and served. 

The Lord gives us ONE life to live for Him and His glory. When I think about the MILLIONS in Asia without clean water, it is so easy to think I cannot make a difference, but the example of my friend, Annette reminds me just how mighty my God is and how He can use ONE life if we are willing to surrender. 

Gospel for Asia is praying and believing in the Lord to provide the resources to build 5,000 Jesus Wells in 2014. Would you please consider giving? 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Visiting Missouri Family

My family is only about 8 hours away from our new home in IL and I have seen them twice since moving from PA to IL. Our drive time was cut in half after moving and we've enjoyed the more frequent visits. Tyler is holding my great nephew in this picture. We love him so much and miss him terribly. We are thankful his mama posts a lot of pics on Facebook for us to see between our visits.

Here's a picture I took of all the cousins. I love them all so much and am thankful my kids have great cousins they truly enjoy hanging out with.

After leaving southwest Missouri, the kids and I traveled to Columbia to visit more cousins. On Monday night, I enjoyed a night out with my sister-in-law while her husband watched all five of our kids. I completed my degree two years ago, but chose not to drive from PA to MO for the graduation ceremony, so we thought it would be fun to go take a picture by the columns. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lowden State Park

We enjoyed visiting a local state park this week and it was beautiful. We hiked to take a look at this local landmark dedicated to all Native Americans, but over time has become known as Blackhawk. 

After looking at the gigantic statue, we found these stairs (188 total) that led down to the Rock River, so we decided to go down the stairs to explore. We all survived the journey back up and my leg muscles today still recall these lovely steps. 

Some PA friends of ours were nearby for a family reunion and we met up and enjoyed the day together. They taught us a game called Bocce ball and we all decided this is a game we want to own. Our new home state has a lot of state parks and now we are excited and looking forward to visiting many more. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bringing Hope to a Child in India

A couple years ago, a Gospel for Asia speaker visited our church and our family learned more about their Bridge of Hope program. Through this program, children learn about Jesus, are given a quality education, medical care, and a daily meal. Without the Bridge of Hope Center, these children would not receive these basic things our family takes for granted. 

At the end of our worship service that day, our family went forward to choose a child to sponsor. We sponsor a 13-year-old young man named Brajmohan. We enjoy writing back and forth with him, and it is always exciting to find a letter in the mailbox from him. We pray for Brajmohan to live his life for Christ, to be a light in his community, for his health and safety, and for him to stay in the program so he can receive a good education. We are always impressed with his writing and are confident Gospel for Asia is providing a great spiritual and academic education. 

After reading "No Longer a Slumdog" and hearing the Gospel for Asia speaker, we believed without a doubt this was something our family needed and wanted to do. 

My husband is a pastor. I am a homemaker and homeschooling mother. We live on one income. I might complain from time to time about how little we have compared to others, but I realized after traveling overseas on international mission trips, after learning more about the plight of the Dalit people in India, that I am indeed very, very rich. 

To sponsor a Bridge of Hope Child costs $35/month and our family is confident that $35/month is going to make an ETERNAL difference in the life of a child in India. I'd rather spend $35 to make an eternal impact on someone's life than take my family out to eat. 

Would you please consider praying for the Kingdom Work Gospel for Asia is doing? Take a few minutes to visit the links provided in this post to learn more, and prayerfully consider sponsoring a child today. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Our Year in Review

I struggled this school year and I think it was largely due to the fact that we moved from PA to IL on July 29th, 2013. In the midst of educating my children, I was also dealing with setting up and making our new house a home, learning a new area, building relationships, diving into a new place of ministry, and handling the fact that my kids are not little anymore. When I went to college, I chose early childhood education as my major because I like teaching younger children and I found myself teaching 3rd, 5th, and 6th grades this year. Putting this year in review post together has helped me step back and see the large picture. We did have a full and wonderful year of learning and enjoyed some wonderful enrichment experiences as well.

Field Trips:
Fine Arts:
  • Piano and drum lessons
  • Signs Choir
Co-op Classes:
  • Spanish
  • Sewing
  • LEGO Club
  • Handy Skills
  • P.E. 
  • Art
History Timeline Covered:
Topics such as the railroad adopting standard time, the World's Fair in Chicago, Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, the Panama Canal, The Wright Brothers, WWI, The Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt,  WWII, The Cold War, and the Korean War were covered this year.

Books We Read (silently or aloud to coincide with our history lessons): 
  • The Great Wheel by Robert Lawson
  • The Wright Brothers by Quentin Reynolds
  • Hero Over Here by Kathleen V. Kudlinski
  • Little Britches by Ralph Moody
  • All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
  • In the Year of the Bear and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
  • A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt by C. Coco De Young
  • Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth
  • Snow Treasure by Andre LaBlanc
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

All three children also keep a reading log of all the books they choose to read on their own time and they are expanding their reading in various areas. Library day is still a highlight of our homeschool days.

Science Lessons Covered:
  • Plant Science
  • DNA and Punnet squares
  • Anatomy
  • Tyler set up an entire fish tank on his own and wrote an extensive paper on how to properly set up and care for a fresh water aquarium. 
Language Arts:
  • Writing across most subject areas, weekly spelling tests, and Easy Grammar Lessons
  • Bruchko by Bruce Olson
  • The children loved this book and it made an impact on their lives. My girls are also participating in a missions program held at our church. They are not just learning about missions, but also praying for missionaries, and helping to support missionaries. 
  • Our family has helped with services at a nearby retirement village twice this year.
  • My girls made rainbow loom bracelets for a friend to take with her to Cambodia. 
  • This weekend our family will be joining our church to serve dinner at a local rescue mission. 
I used Teaching Textbooks for the older two children and my youngest used materials from Christian Light Publications.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Finishing the School Year Strong!

This weekend, my 3rd grade daughter overheard a conversation I was having with my husband about some concerns I am having with some of her school work. I was frustrated and feeling like a failure as a mother and a teacher. Later that evening she came to me and told me I had hurt her feelings because I do not think she's doing a good job with her school work. I apologized and asked her to forgive me for hurting her feelings, but I also talked to her openly about some of my concerns.

This little girl of mine is doing well in some areas, but I am convinced if she would slow down, focus, and pay attention she could be doing much better.

Instead of focusing on what my child cannot do, I'm choosing to focus on what she can do. I'm going to praise and encourage her, build her up, not tear her down. We're going to work together and keep practicing on the things that are challenging her. We are going to work on habits like focus and attentiveness to help her do her very best.

I want her to hear positive and encouraging words from my mouth. I want her to know I love her unconditionally and I believe she is capable of tackling her school work and making progress in all subject areas.

I believe if I do these things, with God's help, I will see my daughter improve. There's some hard work ahead of us as we wrap up this school year, and I am making plans for some summertime learning as well. I want my daughter to understand it is good to be challenged and then to get motivated to buckle down, focus, work hard, and finish strong.

Are you struggling at the end of this school year? What are some things you need to do to help your child(ren) finish strong?