Category Archives: Friends

Happy 13th Day of School!

Yes, it is already Day #13 here.  We start early in order to take the month of December off…it makes for a much more enjoyable holiday season!

It is already our 6th year of homeschooling too.  Wow!  I can hardly believe we’ve been doing it for six years!

There have definately been “ups” and “downs” along the way, however some of the bumps are smoothing out as I figure out what works best for us and adapt.

We’ve tried various curriculum and even virtual schooling, but finally settled on these for this year:

Bible – “Who is God?  And Can I Really Know Him?”, Volume 1 of the “What We Believe” series written by John Hay and David Webb.  I’ve tried various short bible studies and devotional books with the boys.  We’ve also taken time to learn the books of the bible and just read bible stories, however the main goal in doing any of this is that they would grasp the concept of having a personal relationship with the Lord.  My prayer is that they would not only have “head knowledge”, but mostly “heart knowledge” of the Lord, His grace-filled ways, and the purpose for their lives.  Learning to see the world through a biblical viewpoint, rather than a worldly view, is something I was not taught at a young age.  Hopefully doing this for my boys will save them many self-inflicted trials and point them toward service to others and to God.

Lesson #1 and #2 have been very engaging so far.  The boys seem to grasp what the book is teaching very well.  It is written in plain, everyday language and includes activities and stories to which they can relate.  On top of that, they keep a notebook for recording vocabulary words, insightful opinions and expressions about different topics, and memorize scripture each week.  It was very encouraging once this past week to see my youngest have his first “A-Ha!” moment about satan and God.  I am praying that God would use the material in this book and in our schooling to reach his heart in such a way that I have not been able to explain.  So far, so good!

Art –  We’ll be doing various artsy type things.  One book I found at a thrift store is “Exploring Textures in Watercolor” by Joye Moon.  I will be painting right alongside the boys as we work our way through this book…..sort of a “perk” for me to be learning too, instead of just teaching!

Texas History – We are using “The Story of Texas” by Harcourt Brace along with “Discover Texas”, a CD based history program.  Also included in the plan are adding two smaller unit studies on Cowboys and Indians.  Each of the boys will be making a list of all the places we study in Texas.  Towards the end of the school year, they will be able to choose one place on the list to visit in person.  “Hands-on” makes the best learning!

This is a class easily combined for both grade levels.  I think public schoolers in Texas usually do it in 4th grade, so in comparison, one of mine will be a year early and the other a year later than their peers.  It saves me aLOT of time to be able to combine a few subjects.  I just adjust the assignments and activities as needed for each grade level.

Language Arts – Grammar          “Easy Grammar” by Easy Grammar Systems, Scottsdale, Arizona   We tested this last year and found it to truly be “easy”, yet still challenging.  I love the way it teaches prepositions first so that the other parts of speech are more easily recognizable.  Once you mark out the prepositional phrases first, it is easy to spot the subject and verb.  Also, although both boys are doing separate grade levels in this curriculum, the chapters are arranged similarly so I can usually teach both at the same time.

Language Arts – Writing    This subject, I understand, is a common sore spot in every homeschooler’s plan.  Even public school students and parents struggle with writing, mainly because they don’t do enough of it!  (my opinion)  Kids, especially elementary age kids, just. don’t. want. to. write!  We’ve had many struggles with it.  Although I love to write, trying to teach my boys to do it has been pretty difficult.  Til this year, what we’ve tried to do did not have organization or depth.  Now, we are trying a new curriculum shared by my friend that seems to be just what we needed.  It will teach writing concepts at a self-paced/mastery plan and the same concepts will be used to build upon all the way through high school.  Consistency in a long term plan seems the way to go in order for writing skills to be developed.  It is the “Institute of Excellence in Writing” program.

Language Arts – Spelling     Last year, we used a spelling program that had lots of activities and colorful pages.  It also seemed a bit expensive when paired with other homeschooling expenses we had.  This year, I found a year’s list of grade appropriate spelling words online and decided to use it for free 🙂  The word list came from K12Reader.com.  I simply printed the year’s lists of words, placed them in a folder, and then taped daily instructions on the front for spelling activities.  Each day, the boys grab their folder, complete that day’s exercises, and by the end of the week are prepared for the graded test.  Daily activities include reading the words to me, circling any unfamiliar words, writing the words, writing sentences with the words, using a dictionary to write definitions of words I preselect for vocabulary, and then taking a practice test.  So far, this has been a no-nonsense, no cost path to greater spelling!  Yay for free!!

Language Arts – Reading      I use LOTS of different materials to encourage reading success.  One area of concentration this year is comprehension.  Using an old Scott, Foresman reader, “Wheels and Rockets”, the boys are required to read certain stories and then answer the comprehension questions in complete sentences.  We are working on changing a question into a complete statement and then answering the question.  For example:  “Why did the chicken cross the road?”  Answer:  “The chicken crossed the road because. it needed to get to the other side.”  Rather than simply write “to get to the other side”, the boys are equating their answers to complete thoughts and proper speech.  I also frequently require them to record the page number of where they found the answer by each question.  This helps force them to look back at the story for correct information.  Sometimes they do well, other times they confuse parts of the story, but we always talk through the answers and why something else might have been a better choice.

We do lots of silent reading as well.  They are required to read silently for a certain amount of time.  Sometimes I assign the material to read.  Sometimes they get to choose. Sometimes they choose at the library.  Sometimes I let them choose from a preselected group of books I put together before the school year started.  I try to have a variety of reading levels, books and magazines for them…anything to keep their interest!

Language Arts – Handwriting    I know, I know! This is a “lost Art” for many now a days.  Call me “old school” if you want, but I still believe there is value in legible handwriting!  Chances are that neither of my boys will be doctors, so I just assume that their boss will want to be able to read what they are writing, despite the Keyboard Age.  To challenge them more, we also work on cursive writing!  Doing cursive has actually made writing more exciting for them.  They take greater pride in their assignments when forming the nicely slanted letters.  This year, I’m not using any particular curriculum…..just notebook paper, starting with the ABC’s and moving towards mastery in connecting letters and words.

Science – “Exploring Creation with Zoology 2:  Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day” by Jeannie K. Fulbright   After years of using her curriculum, I cannot imagine going to anything different!  Thankfully, she has written even High School level science curriculum that we can look forward to.  So far, we’ve completed Astronomy, Anatomy, and Zoology 1: Flying Creatures.  She also sells spiral bound notebooks that accompany the study and I highly recommend them.  They are interesting, creative, and provide the perfect place to record the course’s observations and for use in note taking.

Math – Teaching Textbooks   This is a computerized math program that we started last year.  It is a little behind the advanced curriculum we were using previously, however, it’s animated and fun for the boys to learn.  It teaches, reinforces, quizzes, and challenges.  It. even. GRADES!  (Woo hoooooo!  Oh how I loathe grading assignments, lol!)  Anyway, I told the boys they could work at their pace (at least completing one grade level per year), but also can work ahead in order to stay challenged.  We actually skipped a grade level for the youngest because the placement test he took showed he had already mastered 3rd grade concepts before this 3rd grade year had started.  They love it!  I love it!  It’s a “win-win” math program that will take them well through any high school math requirements!

Music – This year we will be participating in a co-op music class. It will be taught by a very dear friend whom we have known for many years.  (Hiiiiiiiiii Kariiiiiiiiii!)  I’m so excited and know that outside the public school setting, she will be free to encourage the boys to use their talents for the Lord!  This is going to be GREAT 🙂

Study Skills – One of the things I have learned in homeschooling is that kids do not naturally know how to study!  Discovering this has changed alot in our daily plan.  Now, we learn about strategies for memorizing information.  We engage in conversation to spark the sharing of ideas and higher level thinking.  They use “Brain Pop”, an online program for learning new things and practicing test taking as well as multiple choice answering, etc.   We do crosswords, map studies, dictionary work, and even play thought provoking games like chess and scrabble.  I just usually try to have some type of study skill building activity each week to encourage them toward self-controlled, well-prepared, study habits.

Physical Education – Although somewhat lacking in our plan right now, I know we will be active.  We do sports like soccer and basketball.  We also do Wii fit and other indoor activities.  Probably not what we SHOULD be doing, but I will continue to look for opportunities for physical activity and act upon them.  Now that we are also working on the farm, they should get lots of exercise! (and me 🙂

Other Co-op classes/activities – We will be meeting weekly with a dear group of friends who all homeschool.  At last count, there were at least 40 kids participating, probably more.  This will allow us the opportunity for more socialization as well as participating in group type classes.  Co-op subjects we will be participating in are:  Astronomy, Music, Citizenship, and US States.

We are also joining the local 4-H club this year.  Archery will be our main project but we look forward to learning more about raising animals as well as participating in other projects and community service events.

Hmmmmm…..have I covered it all?  It sounds like alot.  Ok, actually it is, but thus is the challenge in homeschooling:  attempting to expose our kids to the best education in order for them to be well-rounded, responsible individuals.  I also believe homeschooling affords the greater opportunity to share Jesus with them in every area of life as well.  If they can see Jesus in a math problem, then they are more likely to include Him in their thoughts and actions as they grow up.  They will have a biblical worldview, as our bible curriculum calls it, and know the need and blessing for serving others.

Each year, God seems to equip me with what we will need to make schooling successful, and for that, I am so thankful!  To God be the glory, from me and for my sons who will hopefully one day surrender their all to Him.

  Just out of bed on the first day of school and he writes this message on the board.

  Now, if I could just convince them that starting back to school doesn’t HAVE to be bad, lol!

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Cutting Hay with a Weedeater

Welllllllll!  Hello again!!!

Yes, it’s me……the girl who faithfully, unfaithfully always but rarely ever keeps on the planned path!

What happened to the days when I used to write a list, stick by the list, and ever-so-purposefully stay committed to a daily schedule?

What has happened to me?!  All of the sudden, I find myself hardly even making it through my morning cup of coffee?!  I start something but can’t seem to get to the end of it.  I’m failing at my goal of reading through the bible this year.  I hardly ever write on this dusty blog anymore.  I stopped counting carbs.  I. even. almost. paid. the. car. payment. late. last. month! {gasp!}

This is not me!  I am the “i” dotter, the “t” crosser, the list maker, the oh-so-organized one.  I look for things to accomplish and pursue them.  I don’t live spontaneously……at least until now.

Could this be a mid-life crisis?!  Could I actually be turning over a new “leaf”, or rather bending the corner edge of it?

Maybe I’ve just fallen off the proverbial “deep end”.  I’m one stick short of ……. something.  I’ve got a “loose screw”.  Somebody took it to the country, and duct taped it to the front door of our new little “paradise”.

Our “paradise” is truly a “paradise”, too…..with capital QUOTATION MARKS!

We are mooo-vin to the country, y’all.

Since the day we married 26+ years ago, the hubby and I have had a dream of owning land in the country.  We have always wanted our kids to experience the freedom of running through a field, seeing stars at night, smelling fresh air and even, well…..the wonderful scent of cow poop!

We always wanted it, but life didn’t make that happen until now.

Signing the papers this past week, we can now call our own piece of “heaven-on-earth” ours!

It has a huge pond!  Ok, well, it will be huge when it starts raining again.

It has a beautiful hay field!  Ok, well yes, it’s covered in about a million and one grasshoppers at the moment.

It has a barn!  Uh hum…….ok, PARTS of the barn are falling off right now, but we can and will fix that!

It has a house!…..a big, beautiful two story house……..I mean a modest but cute three bedroom, two bath house….ok, I’ll just spit it out as it is……a basically one room/one bathroom cabin.

Yes, we……all FOUR of us, plan to LIVE in that cabin for who knows how long until we can figure out a way to add on.

Lord help us.

Have we lost our MINDS?!

I go from excitement to times needing a time machine to take us back to one day before we signed the papers.  I LOVE the land … not so fond of the house!

We may have to do as I recently read and cut hay with a weedeater.  It was an article about some people who call themselves a bit “off their rocker”.  They went on to explain how having no hay equipment, they proceeded to cut their 10 acre field of hay with a weedeater.  They hand raked the cut hay and then tossed it into a truck bed.  Once at the barn, they loaded it onto a tarp that was raised to the hay loft in the barn for storage.  Admittedly, they called themselves “crazy”! ( …and that may be just what we are too!?)

The “far and future” is full of plans and dreams.  The “here and now” looks a little grim.

Thankfully, our first full weekend of demolition included the help of some great friends.  We also took time to play and enjoy what we could.  Lord help us…..we are determined to be happy in our little “paradise” 🙂

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Filed under Attitude, Blessings, Family, Friends, God, Humor, Life

Easter Food Fun

Every year for the last 14 years, we have celebrated the Resurrection with our dearest friends.  An impromptu invitation on “Easter Eve” in the middle of Walmart began what has become our cherished tradition.

Both our families know that despite rain, hail, sleet, and snow, we are equally determined to attend this event and enjoy our time together.  We’ve watched our kids grow up and now have seen several marry and have kids of their own.  We eat ….. alot!  We also play alot, sit around and try to keep each other from napping and then open the leftovers again later to eat again!

Normally, I make the same things:  Banana Pudding, Chocolate Cake, Bread, a Vegetable, etc.  Not THIS year though!  I had extra time and decided to play with some recipes that had long been selected for experimentation.

 

I decided to make this bunny cake

and this broccoli salad (in my Grandmother’s beautiful bowl 🙂

I don’t eat alot of raisins, but they really work in this salad.  Normally my BFF makes this and I do the banana pudding, but this year we switched out on those two items!

I also decided to volunteer for bread duty this year.  To make it fun

I started with thawed, frozen bread dough, shaped it like this, brushed with egg, let it rise a bit and put into the oven.

Isn’t he cute?!!  As a bonus, the bread dough also naturally made a little belly button for him!

We needed more bread than what the bunny affords, so I made extra rolls and placed them all in the basket together.  Who needs a chocolate bunny when you can have BREAD!

I still made the chocolate cake, but didn’t get a picture of it.  Usually it goes so fast, there’s no way to capture it on film 😉

Our annual BFF Easter event is always a blast! It was aNOTHER great time with our friends family.  I can’t imagine spending the best day of the year with anyone else! 

 

 

 

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Filed under Blessings, Cakes, Children, Easter, Family, Family Traditions, Friends, God, Joy, Life, Recipes, Resurrection, Time

A Distressing Spirit

Book, Chapter & Verse

1 Samuel 16:14 says “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.”  v 23 also speaks of this distressing spirit and says, again, that it was “from the Lord”.  Several times in 1 Samuel we see that this spirit was distressing and also “from the Lord”.

It makes me wonder more about depression.  Obviously Saul had issues that led to his falling out of the Lord’s favor.  It’s interesting to me, however, to think about depression coming to someone specifically from the Lord.

How can we understand why the Lord would purposefully make someone depressed?

Depression is a horrible way of living.  I can only say this because I recognize that in recent years, there have been times in my own life where depression was obviously present.

Not wanting to get out of bed, the inability to…

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Tornado Clean Up, Day #2

Today, we went back to the Diamond Creek Subdivision.  What was a gorgeous neighborhood filled with nice brick homes, a new elementary school, and beautiful lake now has parts that are trash-laden and literally covered with debris.

Our newest friends, also homeschoolers, joined us for some hours of work.  It was amazing to see just how much had been done in one day.  The community of Forney should be extremely proud of its’ people, volunteers, firemen, policemen, church congregations, businesses, etc.  I am amazed to see how many came from outside of the city.  They pick up trash, rake fields, deliver water and food, encourage each other, and all the while fighting the scorching sun, fire ants, nails, glass, and weeds.

Amidst burning skin, cuts, and sore legs the people still come and work.  And work.  And work.

It’s no easy chore.  Even picking up trash is exponentially difficult due to the small size and type of each item.  It is seriously like a war zone in places.  Fields are littered with debris — roof shingles and plywood that have been reduced to sizes averaging around three or four inches in diameter.

We worked with one crew to fill trash bags for a while, but when the bags were gone, we began scouring the field for larger items to place in one big pile.  Our thinking was that the crews would be able to more easily scoop up the debris if it were in a pile.

There has been so much work done, but there is SO much more to do!  Help is still seriously needed.

Even with clean up being done, I made the comment today that it would be a while before any children could play in the beautiful fields surrounding this neighborhood.  There is so much glass and nails it would be extremely risky.

The elementary school sustained roof, window, and air conditioning damage, but I hear it will be reopened next week.  Still, the children will surely have limited play time as there is no playground equipment anymore.  Even most all the fences that surround the schoolyard have been destroyed.  Again, I can only imagine what may still be in the grass next to the school.

Our little group of six worked until our bodies wouldn’t keep up with our will.  We passed out bottled waters, filled three or four bags of trash, and then made what we thought was a pretty big pile of materials in the field.

Unfortunately, the pile is in a big messy field.  It’s hard to see in these pictures because the grass is tall, but from a distance, the field looks relatively clean.  However, when you begin walking through it, there are huge boards, car pieces, metal pieces, housing materials, fence posts,….more than you can imagine just laying everywhere within that tall grass.  Add to that the millions of smaller roof shingles, insulation, paper, etc and it will be a while before it is all picked up.

All this mess from a very powerful EF-3 tornado, and yet I am still absolutely humbled by the fact that there was not one loss of life.

 A stop at the local ice cream parlor rejuvenated us.  There’s nothing like ice cream to keep a group of silly boys going!

(And going, and going, and going….lol!)

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Filed under Blessings, Children, Church, Family, Friends, God, Grace, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Life, Missions, Parenting, Thankful Thursday, Thanks, Trials, Weather

Not Quite 14

“We can only use those 14 years and up.”

This is what we were told when we showed up at the local church where tornado clean up efforts were being coordinated.

I understand why they made that rule…….sort of.

Yes, I know there are dangers of glass, nails, debris and other safety issues that kids aren’t necessarily ready to face, however, we decided to head out to the field on our own and 5 hours later, this is what we learned.

8 and 10 year olds know how to…

pray,

pick up trash,

pick up someone’s garage door,

 

pick up insulation,

work hard,

and care.

 They may not be fourteen yet, but they now understand more about the force of an EF3 tornado.

They see why it’s a big deal to stay informed and have a safety plan during bad weather.  They now know better why we don’t stay in cars during a tornado.
They understand how trash and debris can affect our waters and wildlife.

They can especially appreciate God’s protection knowing there were no fatalities and very few injuries.

Hopefully the next time we hear sirens and enter our “safe room”, they will remember that God is bigger than any bad thing that could possibly come our way.

 They have a better understanding of how people can help one another…

by passing out bottled water,

receiving free food from community businesses,

and the discovery, saving, and return of somebody’s cherished friends.

No, they aren’t yet fourteen.  They aren’t adults.  They are eight and ten, and they were very valuable volunteers today.  They worked just as hard as any of the 500+ volunteers on site today and I believe they will teach their future children how important it is to help when help is needed.

8 and 10 going on 14, going on 41, going on 81“, as I see it.  One generation teaching another generation to care about people.  Learning to be kind, compassionate, and caring toward one another.

This is Christian Homeschooling 101, and we don’t even care that we didn’t get our book work done today!

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This Unusual Place

We find ourselves in an unusual place.

It’s a bit of a long story, but basically we sold our house with the long term hope of buying land in the country.  That’s something we’ve always wanted to do, and now especially with boys, we see the benefit of getting them somewhere they can shoot their BB guns without taking out a neighbor’s window!

Divinely timed, selling our house allowed us to spend the next year and a half helping our daughter and son-in-law who are in the Army and stationed in another state.  They needed someone to rent their house while serving our country, and rather than take a chance on a stranger destroying it, we decided to fill that role.  Now, we sit at their house and as time nears for their return, we wonder where we should go next.

Our first intuition is land!  We pour over Realtor.com like it’s a new book everyday.  We’ve already spent countless hours and days driving to listings that proved only to present their one good side for the internet picture.  We’ve emailed realtors and let friends know we are looking and hope that our “forever place” will present itself soon.

We’ve also considered staying where we are.  The neighborhood here is very nice and we would be near both of our grandbabies.  That in itself is sooooooo inviting!  I sure do love my grandbabies!

There is a practical draw to live near my husband’s office.  Gas is so expensive!   We are spending at least $500-600 per month for gas right now.  Commuting long term just doesn’t seem like a realistic financial possibility.

New and old friends make the choice hard as well!  Why can’t all of our friends just move next door to us wherever we end up?!

All these possibilities and thoughts also bring up more ideas:

  1. We could serve a year at a Christian camp.  A recent visit to a nearby camp made this an idea that would be both ministerial and serving.  I can think of lots of reasons why this would be a good idea, and might teach our whole family the importance of serving others.
  2. Instead of buying a house, we could buy an RV and travel.  Since we already homeschool, this would not change the boys’ education.  It might, in fact, actually enhance their studies!  There’s no better way to learn than “hands on”.  We did a smaller version of this in the past couple of years where we studied Daniel Boone and Pioneer explorations and then spent our vacation walking where he walked in the Cumberland Mountains.  There are a few situations that would need to be addressed for this option, mainly the need for my husband to stay employed!  I dream of the possibilities that his employer would allow him to work from the road, via internet capabilites and we could do this for a year?!  Hmmm…..
  3. We could go abroad……naaaah!  I’m not much on world travel, although I’m sure there are many beautiful places to see.  Still, with so much violence and problems going on worldwide and having to be responsible for the safety of my children, this does not seem like a good choice.  Besides…….it would definately be too far from my grandbabies!
  4. We could try and buy the smallest, cleanest house we could find and then finally, maybe, have extra each month to use for short travel excursions and fun times.  Our kids grow up so fast.  We’ve already seen the missed opportunities we had with our now grown daughters all because of debt and our insistence to chase the “American dream”.  Two incomes, loads of credit card debt, a nice big new house, but no time to spend as a family contributed to the realization that this is not how life is supposed to be!  Over the years, we have paid our debts (almost all of them), and have begun to learn how to live on little.  This has enabled me to stay home with the two boys and be available to spend time with and help our daughters and grandchildren.  We have learned it is much more fun to love on our families than just giving them “stuff”.  I’ve even thought of doing the tiny house thing, but then I remember how much I love to cook and all the appliances, dishes, and pans I’ll need 😉

So….here we sit, months away from a move to “Somewhere, USA” doing “something” that would make the rest of our days fulfilled.  Are there any other ideas for us out there in Blogdom?

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