Sunday, October 30, 2011


I have been so sick this weekend! The stomach kind. :-( I have not been this sick in a long time. I'm starting to feel a little better, and can stay out of the bathroom for longer and longer periods of time, so I think I'm on the mend. I slept off and on all day yesterday, watched college football, fell asleep during the fourth quarter of the USC/Stanford game and woke up during their THIRD overtime. Then fell asleep again so I still don't know who won. I was apparently not too sick to enjoy a really good football game. ;-)

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Ongoing Endeavor to Get Organized.....

Does anyone else struggle with this? Actually, you don't have to answer because I know that you do! Getting and staying organized seems never ending, because just when I finish organizing all my children's bedrooms, the season changes and it's time to go through clothes again, or Little Man has outgrown the preschool activities and it's time to sort and give away, or my paper pile managed to grow back and it's time to file and toss. I know this is something you can all relate to.

This problem seems worse for homeschoolers because there is so much more to organize. **Sigh**

I am slowly making progress in several areas of our home and life. Even though the schoolroom is not completely finished, I am *loving* using it. We start each day together in this room with Bible, and the younger three do the bulk of their work here. My vision, now three years old, of how I wanted it to work for us, is finally beginning to take shape. With some changes of course, because so much time has passed since the vision first formed in my brain! haha! Soooo very thankful for this room!

With an entire wall of bookcases now, I organized all our Tapestry of Grace books according to Year (there are 4 complete years here!) and further organized by unit (4 units per year). I am able to bless some friends by being their history lending library, so to aid them I put these color coded signs on the bookcase to show where a particular Year plan starts (you're welcome, Sally and Lisa!).

Right above my teacher desk I put this strip of velcro directly on the bookcase. To this I can stick all the little squares that go on my boys' assignment charts each day, so it is easy to change them out depending on what day I am preparing for.

It is a work in progress, but it's progressing!

In other news, I cleaned out my bedroom closet this week and filled two large bags to take to the thrift store. And that was just from stuff on the floor! (yes, seriously) Have to go through all the hanging clothes next.

How do you stay on top of the shifting organizational needs of your family?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday's Thankful Things

Again, a long and stressful week. But again, so many things to be thankful for!

I'm thankful for (mostly) obedient children who are becoming truly helpful.

I'm so thankful for the routines and rhythms that make up our family life. They are a comfort to me right now.

I'm thankful for kind and loving friends, who speak God's truth into my life.

I'm thankful for my husband, who is generous and kind and never complains.

I'm thankful that heaven is a real place, and a sure hope for those who put their trust in Jesus. I'm thankful that sadness from the death of a Jesus follower is mixed with hope and peace and trust.

I'm thankful for sweet, new life that God creates! What a continuum and a mystery is this thing called life.

I'm thankful that God knows my deepest thoughts and loves me anyway. That He guides and directs and empowers and enables.

I'm thankful that God loves me, no matter what.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Orchard!

Our co-op went on a field trip to an apple orchard and cider mill today. Our first field trip of the year, and such a gorgeous day to be out! It was a nice change of pace, and we all enjoyed being together.

The moms:

This picture blesses me, because it shows how this little guy has OUTGROWN his dairy allergy!! First time he has been able to eat a donut during our annual apple orchard field trip.

All of us:

Wagon ride!

Thank you, Lord, for the glorious sunshine You gave us today. Thank you for friends and colleagues that walk this homeschool journey with us. Thank you for creating such a beautiful world for us to live in, rule over, and enjoy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday's Thankful Things


I am so very thankful for my sweet husband who took over my drive-a-friend-to-work responsibility this morning so I could sleep an extra THREE HOURS!!! Thank you honey! I feel like a new woman!

Original post follows:

Well, this week it has been harder for me to find things to be thankful for. It's been a difficult few days for a variety of reasons, I am quite exhausted, and I still have Friday's co-op classes to teach. I have seen the consequences of sin up close and personal, and I hate it. Not only can sin's consequences be long lasting for those living them, they can also be very time consuming for those who are helping! But here goes....

I am thankful that I have a husband who loves me, who treats me with kindness and respect, and who works hard to provide for his family. I'm thankful he loves Jesus and works to be a man of integrity.

I am thankful for each of our five children. Just looking into their beautiful faces and seeing how they interact makes both my mouth and my heart smile.

I am thankful for a warm cozy bed to climb into when I finally reach the end of the day.

I am thankful for the privilege of teaching our children at home, of knowing their successes and struggles so well, of seeing all the light bulb moments, and of spending so much time together.

I am thankful that even when the bank account is empty, I am one of the richest women I know.

I am thankful that God's grace provides forgiveness of sin, teaches me, comforts me, and gives daily strength and help. It's all God's grace!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Week In Review

We had a good week of school last week. Our older students learned about the the Hundred Year's War and the complex relationship between England and France toward the end of the Middle Ages, while our younger ones focused on individual people, such as Joan of Arc. I read a Joan d'Arc picture book to the two younger boys, and then Little Man drew a picture of an event in her life, while son C wrote in this mini book what he remembered from our reading. I love this lapbooking/notebooking method for assessing how much he has remembered and internalized from our reading! He is the perfect age for this... still loves cutting and pasting, and not too much writing to tire his hand.

We have used my Kindle quite a bit this year for school. A couple weeks ago it really saved the day for daughter G. I had forgotten to buy one of the books she needed for her online literature class, and I realized this at the start of the week she needed it. Our libraries didn't have it, no time to inter library loan it, and no time to purchase it and have it sent to us unless I paid for expensive overnight shipping. I checked to see if it was available in the Kindle version, and it was! I purchased and downloaded it, and in less than 5 minutes our daughter was busily reading. Love modern technology when it works well!

What was different about this week:

We were blessed with a "Chaos Tower" which is like Marbleworks on steroids. Super fun to build, and super fun to watch the balls go through the gauntlet!

What worked well this week:

Our schoolroom!!

Having access to all our educational materials is such a JOY! We re-instituted activity time with son C and Little Man this week. Each morning right after Bible time they get to do a learning activity. It is a nice change of pace from bookwork, and nice for them to spend time together. One of their activities was Boggle Jr:

We are wrapping up our studies of the Middle Ages during this current week and will soon turn our attention to the Renaissance and Reformation. Such a fascinating time period to study!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday's Thankful Things

Today I am:

Thankful for a new bottom sheet on my bed! My favorite sheet wore through down by my feet. Yes, it's so often the small things.

Thankful that my husband surprised me with an unlimited texting plan so I can stop counting the texts I send and receive!

Grateful that our daughter is so self-motivated with her schoolwork. Absolutely zero battles there.

So thankful for the incredible warm and sunny weather we had for several days! It feels more like fall now, but boy did we have a fantastic Indian summer!

Happy that soccer season is almost over.

Deeply grateful for good friends.

Soaking in the joy that Little Man gives me when he wants to hold my hand.

Shocked beyond words when we received a large anonymous check that covers the cost of our recent van repair!! (I don't know how they knew the exact amount unless they read it here.... if the giver is reading this, THANK YOU!)

Humbled and thankful for the prayers of others.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Before and During (not quite "After"!)

Remember this?

Couch is now 2/3rds cleared off, with permanent homes (or the circular file) found for the things that were on it.

Go me!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Our Week In Review

This past week we learned about the Mongols, Marco Polo, and the Far East. I had forgotten that the Mongol Empire was the largest empire ever formed in terms of land, larger even than Alexander the Great's Empire. Wow! Yet historians don't study it too much because the Mongols didn't really advance their culture. They didn't build cities to replace the ones they conquered and burned, they didn't create amazing architecture, or works of literature, or even a distinct political system. They pretty much destroyed and conquered, and therefore their empire was short lived. Fascinating to read about though!

We really enjoyed reading about Marco Polo, who helped usher in the Age of Exploration. He traveled for about 2 years to reach China, became friends with Kublai Khan (The Great Khan, as he was called, grandson of Genghis), served in his court for many years, and then journeyed home. His perspective of China and his telling of their achievements and inventions, helped open more trade between the East and the West, and gave people a desire to learn what else could be "out there".

Amazing how each era of history flows into the next! And amazing to see God's hand in and through it all!

What was different about this week:

We had a little friend join us for one day, as she had pink eye and couldn't go to her own classroom in public school. That changed the dynamic a bit, but we had fun with her, and she got all her own homework done while at our house!

Of course other people's toys are always more interesting....!

What worked well this week:

We finally were able to start our Bible curriculum for this fall! Yay for an organized schoolroom! We are using a Bible/Worldview program published by Apologia Press that includes three volumes. We will take two years to go through all three books. It appears to be perfect for the age spread of our children, and I am happy we can all go through this together.

Son C has taken to writing like a duck to water! He can't wait to come home from co-op each Friday afternoon so he can start on his writing homework immediately. Here he is doing writing on Sunday afternoon! (in co-op he is in a writing class with 3 other children, and he loves that he gets to learn with his friends!)

Something else that worked well this past week was the start of grammar with son C. I have always understood the homeschooling adage, "better late than early" to have sound educational principle behind it, but now I am really testing it for the first time. Son C is in the fourth grade and has had NO formal grammar up to this point. Please don't judge! :-) He has picked up a lot of grammar from his older siblings, and so far the adage appears to be true because he is understanding the terms and concepts right away and "catching up" at lightning speed.

We played preposition bingo every day for an entire week. He got to use chocolate chips as the bingo chips, and eat them afterward!

At the end of the week, I drew a doghouse on the whiteboard, and he named our imaginary dog "Goldie". I began to fill in prepositions around the doghouse (on the doghouse, over the doghouse, in the doghouse, beneath the doghouse, etc) and son C quickly took over the pen and wrote as many as he could fit. Then I wrote a sentence across the bottom of the whiteboard (pictured in red), taught him how to cross off the prepositional phrases because the subject and verb are NEVER found in them, and then he could easily identify the subject and verb of the sentence. We did this several times with other sentences.

This week (starting today) he is beginning work in a grammar book, so our work last week was to bring him up to speed so he would be ready for the bookwork. He is doing great and I love his enthusiasm!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fantastic Homeschooling Tip

For all my homeschooling friends who have ever wondered how to find the time to correct their children's work, and when was the best time to do it.....

thanks to my friend Marsha, I have instituted a new checking/correcting routine this week that has worked WONDERFULLY. Here is the daily assignment chart for one of my boys.

As he does each task, he moves the little velcro square to his "done" chart. This part of the routine is not new.

What is new is the last square. The one that says "Checkout with mom". My friend Marsha is brilliant! Before each child is truly done for the day they must check out with me. During check out I correct all their work for that day, with them sitting next to me making immediate corrections if needed. This is keeping my children accountable for doing all their assigned work for each day, and keeping me accountable for correcting it! I know it's only been three days, but oh what a difference!

It does take time, but the best things in life do.

Thank you Marsha!

Thursday's Thankful Things

Today I am....

thankful for the glorious sunshine and warm temperatures we are experiencing this week!

happy to have schooled nearly a full week in our schoolroom instead of in the kitchen

ecstatic that I can see my kitchen counters! (see above)

thankful that another night of REAL moms went well and we had a thought-provoking speaker

happy that my boys are taking more ownership of their work

grateful to be living daily in God's grace

Monday, October 3, 2011

We Have Schoolroom!!!!

It is not done. But it's usable! Oh happy day!

We worked hard all weekend to get the room ready. Last week I painted the wall red so it would be ready for the bookcase. All the boys helped put it together. And they really did help!

While the boys worked on the bookcase, daughter G painted the back of the built in bookcase red. I will later paint the side walls black so that it matches the other bookcases.

Anchoring it to the wall.

The moving of books and organizing our stuff was something only I could do. Though I have more to do, I did get a lot accomplished over the weekend. And it's wonderful to be able to access all of our books again! I found two books we can use this very week as we are studying the Mongols and Marco Polo.

Here is the school table, no longer covered with tools but covered with math books instead!

And here is MY desk.... usable space once again!

This shows the length of the schoolroom, with the new bookcase and my desk at the far back.

The couch is still covered with stuff.... but it will all find a home eventually!

So, so thankful to have an organized space in which to work again!