And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Monday, July 17, 2017

What Worked for 7th Grade

Last month I shared what worked for Speedy for 4th grade. Now I want to tell you what worked well for Apple for 7th grade. While many families regularly swap curriculum during a school year that goes against my planned and organized nature. When we did reviews for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I had to learn to be more flexible as we were constantly trying new items for review. Since we did not rejoin the Crew last January, our curriculum was a little more set...or so I thought.

The first big thing Apple did differently for 7th grade was to take outside classes. Her science and language arts classes were both done outside our home by other teachers. She really enjoyed that experience and is looking forward to doing it again in the future. The program changed a bit so she's sad not to be able to do those classes for 8th grade but is hoping to rejoin in 9th grade. I thought it was great for her to experience other teachers. She learned some valuable lessons about turning in assignments on a particular date and about the importance of remembering to take your backpack to class! She was also involved in a local co-op both semesters so she was able to take brief Government, STEM, and Spanish classes. She enjoyed all 3 of those and learned some new things.

Now at home we had some struggles. The original Bible and History/ Government choices I had for her just really didn't pan out. She worked her way through part of them and then we swapped to something different. Since I didn't have access to as many new curricula items, we pieced things together from what we already had. She did several different Bible courses I had downloaded already, read some extra books for History, and basically worked on unit study and copywork type assignments. That wasn't at all what I had planned for 7th grade, but we made it work. I love the idea of saying she worked on X and completed it all but it just isn't that easy for 7th grade. I can say she worked on lots of different things and learned many new facts along the way. Since she was struggling in Bible and there were some character issues we needed to address with both kids, we started readying about a chapter a day of the Gospels. We made it almost to the end of John and enjoyed talking about the chapters each day.

Math is not Apple's favorite subject, but she is very good at it. It was hard but she worked through Algebra I with Math-U-See and with CTCMath. Algebra I took a good chunk of her time each day, but she completed it and was so happy to be finished.

Apple also read loads of books and did quite a bit of writing.

It's taken me so long to write this post because it's hard to define 7th grade! We realized some interesting things last year. She's read and studied so many things on her own already that taking outside classes meant she did quite a bit of "review". I tried to use that to keep calm about all the plans that went out the window mid-year. She also had some classmates tell her it was "impossible" to be doing Algebra I in the 7th grade. She went through a lot of emotions over that. She first doubted me. Then herself. Eventually though she realized it wasn't impossible and that made it that much sweeter when she finished.

Homeschool never gets easier. At least it hasn't yet for us! Each year brings on new challenges and new goals. Did you learn anything new in your homeschool year? Have you had a child that needed to chunk the plans and find something new?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Busy Summer

Wow! Our summer has been so busy so far! We purposefully took this summer off of school so we could focus on other things. I never imagined we would be so busy with no school to do!

Speedy finished up his baseball season and attended two baseball camps. They were both new camps to him so he enjoyed both of them immensely. Apple participated in a two week drama camp that culminated with two performances. She loves the stage and had a great time getting to know new people and perform twice in a musical.

While we took the whole summer off, Speedy has been reading The Hobbit. He was a little intimidated by the size of the book so I've allowed him to read it through the summer at a leisurely pace rather than working on it this fall. Since Speedy "got" to read one of his books, Apple asked to read a literature book. She reads ALL the time so I gave her a short Shakespeare introduction course to complete instead. Of course she finished several weeks' worth in a short time.

In addition to camps and a little learning, the kids have been happy to make weekly trips to the library. They've also spent extra time with extended family, and they've been working on their kitchen skills. They've each stuck to making a meal per week, and they have 3 meals each left before school begins again.

Although these next few weeks should be slower, with VBS and soccer practices, I have a feeling life will feel just as crazy!

I hope to make up for a month with no posts! I will be sharing what worked for us for 7th grade as well as what we will be using for the upcoming school year. I also hope to have a new homeschool review for you soon!

How has your summer been? Has it been slow and leisurely or packed and busy?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Colorful Hardback Bible for Kids

It's been awhile since I've done a review but this colorful hardback Bible was a great way to get back to it! Handlebar Publishing sent me a free copy of the new Zonderkidz Kids' NIV Visual Study Bible. This Bible boasts 700 images inside! It includes the Old Testament and New Testament along with many study elements.

There are 1936 pages inside the Bible with a wide yellow sidebar on most pages. Each book begins with some information about the author and the book. There are also key verses and stories pointed out on these chapter pages. The yellow sidebars hold key verses and some four color pictures. There are images scattered all throughout this Bible. Some are simple drawings to illustrate the stories from the Bible. Others are informational charts and maps.

Every page doesn't have a chart or picture but many do! The added illustrations and study helps will keep readers interested as they work through the Bible. 12 full page maps are included in the back of the Bible.

Overall I think this is a solid study Bible for kids who are just beginning to read the Bible. I can see this as a good Bible to keep on a nightstand for nightly reading or in a desk for Bible study time. Our copy will be going to my classroom at church so we have an extra Bible on hand when needed.

Monday, June 5, 2017

What Worked for 4th Grade

Our school year is all wrapped up. Speedy finished 4th grade and is thrilled to be on a "real" summer break for a few weeks. We started 4th grade still reviewing a lot of curriculum but settled into a more regular routine for the spring semester. I thought I'd let you know what really worked for 4th grade for Speedy.

His all time favorite subject this year was history. He studied Government in the fall at co-op (and home) and World Geography in the spring at co-op. He enjoyed those but what he really loved was The Fight for Freedom. He can't wait to start America's Struggle to Become a Nation in the fall. 

In math, Speedy completed Math-U-See Epsilon and the CTCMath grade 4 lessons. He struggled a little with fractions but overall did very well. He enjoys CTCMath and so I purchased another 18 months of it. He and Apple will be able to utilize various levels with our Family subscription. Speedy will also move on to the next level of MUS.

For Language Arts, he completed the Logic of English lessons. He began Fix It! Grammar but we received a Critical Thinking Language Smarts Level E workbook to review and so he ended up sticking with that instead for the rest of the school year. We will pick Fix It! Grammar back up for 5th grade. He enjoyed moving around in the Language Smarts workbook. He completed the first level of IEW's poetry memorization program and began the second level. He also completed the Here to Help Learning Paragraph Level III. A mix of Perfect Reading & Beautiful Handwriting along with LOTS of copywork really made a difference in his handwriting this year. There is still room for improvement so we will continue to work in that area. 

Speedy also enjoyed doing his Bible class online with Veritas Press. He completed the Self Paced course for Genesis through Joshua and will be doing the next level for 5th grade. 

He wanted to do another level of German but Middlebury did not have another elementary option for it. He did Elementary Spanish I instead and liked it almost as much as German.

He complained about some of the Literature choices I made for him this year, but he ended up enjoying every book on the list! You can see the list and everything else we used this school year on our Curriculum Tab

Have you finished your school year? Are you taking a summer break?

Monday, May 29, 2017


When I was 16 years old, a beautiful friend died in a car accident on the way to our workplace. We were suppose to have that shift together. She was a tiny little thing with a HUGE smile. She always had such a joy about her. She had given her life to the Lord and been baptized only a few weeks before her death. I was just devastated over the loss. It seemed like a Missy sized hole was left for those of us that knew her.

Her death prompted me to be baptized. I'd been in church for some time and was positive that I wanted to know where my eternity would be spent. I will never forget Missy or the impact she had on my life.

While I've lost many loved ones over the years, it is so easy to take life for granted. We forget. We get so caught up in the little mundane petty things throughout the day. We lose sight of our purpose. We get wrapped up in our own lives and forget to cherish those we love. We forget to spread the love of the Lord to everyone we meet.

Recently I've been pretty torn up over a situation where an individual has treated my family poorly. I've given way to much energy to my anger over the past week. I've let one bad situation take precedence over all the really important things in my life.

Then yesterday...last night...I learned that a sweet friend passed away. A friend with a megawatt smile. A friend I'd known since Kindergarten. Another friend with a sweet soul and an indescribable joy about her. She's gone. Her children are left without their mother. Her husband has lost his bride. Her family and friends have lost a great treasure.

An unexpected accident has once again reminded me that our days are numbered. It has reminded me that our greatest treasures are those around us. It has reminded me that we shouldn't take our time on Earth for granted. It has reminded me that I shouldn't dwell on the things that don't have any lasting effect on our lives.

My friend left a legacy. A legacy of loving her family. A legacy of loving her friends. Everyone will remember her by her humor and the sweet spirit she had. She was wise beyond her years and every encounter with her felt like an important moment. I'm so thankful I was able to spend a little time with her a few weeks ago. There was no way to know that sitting by that pool at a birthday party watching all our kiddos would be our last time together.

Please pray for her dear family. Please pray for her friends.

I posted about Philippians 4 a few weeks ago, and it seems appropriate here as well.

Phil 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Finding Peace

We went tent camping for a few days. If I talk about tent camping again, remind me it's crazy! Back in the day, we went camping with a group every year. Then when the kids were really young, we went on a really epic trip with a different group. One other time we took a short trip. We decided this year we would go for a few days with my parents.

I forgot how much work camping is. It rained the first 2 days. It was really cold the other 2 nights. It was a LOT of work. I remembered all the planning and shopping. I remembered setting up the tent. I did not remember some of the other aspects. Like all the stuff we had to take for 4 people. Like all the work to dig everything out of the cooler. Like someone complaining we forgot something every few minutes. Like never getting a minute to sit down because I had to trek to the bathrooms or fix food or get more ice or clean up the tent or dry everything from the rain. Dude.

So not the most fun we've ever had. We did have really great weather 1 day. That day the campground was FULL of campers and pop ups. There were only about 4 tents in the whole place. The campers were impressive too. Decks, full kitchens, bathrooms, big TVs....they had it all. And most of the families seemed just as cranky as we were! They were all constantly working too. Working to drain their plumbing (I thought of Robin Williams and RV several times). Working on decks and grills and fire pits. Parenting. It's work whether you are in a 15 year old tent or a recreational "home" that costs more than most yearly salaries.

Why do we do these things? Why work all week or all year to go on a vacation that's even more work?

I think we are usually seeking a break. As a mom of two, few things are actually ever a break. By the time I make plans, feed everyone, pack, do laundry, etc, there is never much rest involved. I do get to perform my daily duties in a different environment though.

We want to have fun. It's hard to make fun happen sometimes though. We always get in a few laughs but sometimes the stress of weathering a thunderstorm in a tent takes away one's sense of humor. While this trip didn't involve a lot of laughter, I'm sure we will laugh at the memories in the future. In many, many, many years.

Aren't we really just seeking peace? A little slice of calm away from all the daily responsibilities? As I looked around at the high end campers and shiny trucks to tow them, I realized once again that we'd pay almost anything for some peace. I wondered how many people in that campground knew where to find the real peace. We are in the Bible belt so most have probably heard of the Prince of Peace, but I don't know how many are actively seeking Him.

We had a little devotional time there at the lake yesterday morning since we were missing church. It was a bit strained (everything was during that trip!), but we ended up dwelling on Philippians 4:6-8 for awhile. It seemed appropriate.

6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The World

The world is so big yet so small. I've only seen a limited portion of God's great creation, but we now have connections in so many unique places. Years ago we met a lovely young lady who grabbed a little piece of our hearts.

She's been off on adventures for the last few years so we've only stayed connected via social media. She's decided to share some of her adventures with the world on a fun website called Run with the Unicorn. I hope you'll check it out.

She's being brave and doing something most people only dream about! I can't imagine traveling around Europe alone even at my age!

Are you a world traveler or do you stay close to home?