2019

Intentional 2019

I have seen people through the years have a new word for a new year. I never considered doing this but started thinking about it a lot today on our 4 hour trip home from my in-laws house.

The word I came up with for 2019 is INTENTIONAL. The definition of intentional is done on purpose, deliberate.

The last 2 years have been crazy in our family. I felt like we were always flying by the seat of our pants. We have had to be so flexible and our plans have changed often. I know that we will still need flexibility and that only God knows the future. But I felt like so many things in our life weren’t completed to the potential it could have been because we were barely hanging on and surviving.

So I want to be intentional this year. What does this look like?

  • I want to be intentional in my walk with God. When I was a younger adult (because I like to think I’m still a young adult. 35 is still a young adult, right?) I had such a guilty feeling if I didn’t read my Bible daily. It wasn’t a desire I had but I felt I HAD to. I am slowly getting through this guilt and finding that I long to be in His word. So I want to be intentional with my devotions and prayer life. And I want my girls to learn from this and not have their own guilty feelings in the future. I want to get back into church. I’ve gotten out of the habit of Sunday School, Sunday night and Wednesday night services this past year. And let’s face it…Sunday morning worship services sometimes turn into a circus since I have loud kids sometimes. I need to be spiritually fed and I need to be intentional about it.
  • I want to be intentional in my marriage. I know I’m not as patient or as understanding as I should be. Some days by the time he comes home from work, I’m so stressed out. I check out some evenings instead of trying to spend time with him.
  • I want to be intentional with my girls. I want each of them to realize how special and loved they are by first God and by their mommy and daddy. I want to take the time to listen to them. I want to play games, do crafts, get messy and bake with them. I want to try to do more one on one things with each of them.
  • I want to be intentional in my friendships. I want to spend more time cultivating those friendships. Asking how they are doing. I want to have courage to make new friends. And to take the time to go on play dates (with kids of course), go out to coffee or to dinner. God has shown me a lot about true friends this year as I went through such a hard year. He has weeded out some toxic friendships that would likely cause me stress in the future too.
  • I want to be intentional in our homeschooling. I want to go on more field trips (they always ask for this) and set up more play dates. I want to encourage them in their interests. I want to have a better schedule where we complete all our subjects and still have plenty of time for reading, Bible time and games.
  • I want to be intentional with my health. I am realizing through my grief that I can’t ignore my body. I need to grieve. I need to cry. I need to go to counseling. I need to take my medicine. But I also need to stop ignoring healthy habits such as drinking water, making better food choices, eat less fast food and to exercise. I also want to make more time for me. Take the time for a bath instead of a shower. Read books. Stop escaping into TV shows to avoid reality (yes, I did that a lot in 2018).
  • I want to be intentional in my house work. I am not good at housekeeping. At all. Plus add in a small house, 4 extra people living here and lots and lots of stuff. It is almost always a mess. And when it is a mess, I get overwhelmed and just ignore it. I want to be intentional about cleaning. Including my girls in cleaning. And we need to purge. So much junk.
  • I also want to be intentional about our purchases. I guess we don’t really need 20 cereal choices. I also don’t have to shop a sale. We have so much stuff we could get rid of!
  • I want to be intentional with family time. I already mentioned more games, but I want us to go out as a family more (we typically avoid this because of our little active 1 year old). But I want to go on hikes. Explore places. Go to Holiday world. And have such a good time on our tentative trip to Disney/Harry Potter World. We have let so many of these fun family moments slip us by these past couple years due to having a newborn or my dad being sick. But I don’t want to keep pushing them aside. These things are important.

As I was thinking through this word, a Bible verse came to mind. So I think this verse will be our verse for the year.

So I hope I am intentional in my life this year…no matter what circumstances come our way. Bring on 2019!

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Grief

Finding Joy

During this time of year we hear people say “MERRY Christmas” or “HAPPY Holidays”. We sing songs about JOY to the World, JOYFUL JOYFUL we adore thee or LAUGHING all the way (Jingle Bells). But these days I’m not feeling this joy.

Usually I love the Christmas season. I love all the church events and parties. I love the Christmas carols. I love giving gifts.

But this year, things are different. Tears now take the place on my face instead of my smile. This year, my daddy is not with us. And there are very few things that we do during this holiday season that don’t remind us of our big loss.

He decorated the house. He helped decorate the church. He organized the Christmas events at church. He conveniently came up at the end of mom’s ladies Christmas party to get some food. He organized the caroling and welcomed people into his home (of course with mom’s help). He wrote the Christmas cards. He sang with me on the Sunday before Christmas. He bought the silly stocking stuffers every year that I grew to love and appreciate. He dressed up as Santa. He read the Christmas story before we opened our presents (and usually quizzed us on it). He prepared and served communion on Christmas Eve (or the Sunday before Christmas). He was always there and always doing something. But he helped make so many Christmas memories.

Now this year, we are forced to make memories without my daddy. I don’t want to. I don’t feel very festive or joyful. But I know a couple of things.

1. God understands my grief. God is big enough and strong enough to hold me right now even if I’m not in the mood to celebrate this year. I’m not disappointing him. God made me who I am and God knew that the loss of my dad would hurt tremendously.

2. He is Emmanuel-God with us. Not only does God understand my hurt and my lack of joyfulness this year, but He is right here with me. He is holding me so tight.

3. He is the Prince of PEACE. When dad took his final breath on November 8, there was a peace that washed over our family. It was indescribable. Daddy was no longer suffering. And even still. I miss him terribly, but I have a peace that is beyond all understanding knowing daddy is celebrating Christmas in heaven.

So this year, I’m still searching for my joy and happiness, but that’s ok. I’m thankful I can rest in His peace though.

Uncategorized

Finding Thankfulness

It has been a long almost 2 years. I think it was spring 2017 when we found out that there were some complications with my pregnancy. I had to go to a neonatologist on a regular basis until they finally induced me July 31 (3 weeks early). Thankfully no issues came from the scare, but my stress level was high. Then I suddenly had a newborn to take care of, a toddler to attempt to potty train and a 6 year old to homeschool. When we finally started getting in the groove of things, I fell and broke my ankle. It was bad. I had to have 2 surgeries and ended up on a couch and not able to put weight on it for months. Then on December 14, 2017, our world was rocked. My dad went in to get his gall bladder removed but they found his abdomen to be full of cancer. This past year has been a rollercoaster. He had chemo treatments often, which usually left him sick and weak. He had about 3 months or so where he actually had an appetite and some strength. It was almost easy to forget he had cancer. Until he stopped having good days and the last resort chemo no longer worked. Then he couldn’t eat and continued to get sick. He lost weight and strength. His voice was raspy and he could only walk with assistance. We saw him fade daily. Then my daddy took his last breath here on Earth just 2 weeks ago today.

I could easily look at these past 2 years and feel sorry for myself and my family. But even in all these hard times, I can still continue to see God’s hand on our lives.

When we found out about my complications during the pregnancy, my prayer life increased. And I had to just give our baby to God. It was the easiest labor and delivery I have had with my kids and she was perfect! God knew we would need sweet little baby girl this past year. She has brought us many cuddles, smiles and laughs. And she was able to get to know her Boppa the past 15 months. She brought him smiles and laughter too.

When I broke my ankle, I had no idea how we would survive with me not being able to drive. But God worked it out. My husband was able to work from home for about 3 months. I ordered online groceries often and he would get them. I had to stop breastfeeding but baby girl did fine with a bottle. My parents helped out when they could. My dad even took the older girls to co-op even though he was starting to have symptoms of the cancer during that time. God provides during that time and i was forced to slow down!

And with my dad being diagnosed with cancer…we have seen God’s hand in this situation over and over this past year. My brother and sister-in-law are missionaries and are usually overseas. They came home the end of November…2 weeks before dad was diagnosed. My brother went with my mom and dad for his gall bladder surgery (when we found out about the cancer) so mom wasn’t alone. We were able to all be together and celebrate Christmas. It was bittersweet but still so good. My dad got an awesome oncologist and started chemo a few weeks later. My brother and his wife were able to adopt a little boy in July. This was right when dad started having a few good months. Dad loved that boy and got to play with him. We were able to take a couple trips to Gatlinburg all together and a few other small road trips. We homeschool and were able to be flexible with our schedule if we needed extra boppa time. Dad was able to retire in August and we had such a celebration. Many from out of town came in for the service and dinner. The church was able to hire a new Pastor that started the week that dad passed. And in the last few weeks, mom was able to be on FMLA to take care of dad. She was such a good caretaker. And my brother was able to help the last few days of his life. We were able to hear a few snippets of what he was seeing in heaven in his final days (this was so special to me).And I managed to be able to be at mom and dad’s an hour before dad passed and kissed him. We were all there with him and he passed before he had to go in and ambulance to a local hospice center.

This past year has been hard. We started grieving the loss of dad on December 14. And the real loss happened on November 8. But we had something that not many get. We had almost 11 months to laugh and cry together. To tell each other things we needed to say. To remember the past and reassure each other of the future. We were able to take so many pictures and make so many memories. I hate that we saw dad suffer so much this past year, especially the last week of his life, but it also helped us have peace. We saw how he wasn’t really living. The closer he came to the end of his life, the more he was focused on heaven. We know he is in heaven now, eating a feast, in a new body that has no cancer.

So today, my family sat down to a quiet Thanksgiving dinner with my mom. There were still tears. But there was still thankfulness. God is still good in the hard times and still carries us through. I’m so thankful for how He has blessed us, but most importantly, I’m thankful for the hope I have in Him.

Vacation

15 tips of a Smoky Mountain Trip

We went to the Smoky Mountains about a month ago and I had a few reflections after our time there. There may be some useful (and not so useful) tips for your Smoky Mountsin vacation.

1. Go back. Just because you’ve been to the smoky mountains at least 7 times before, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. There are still new memories to be made…every single time. Go back again and again. When we were trying to decide where to vacation this time around, we talked about Florida (during Hurricane season 😬), Nashville, and places IN Indiana and Ohio. While I’m sure there are tons of fun to be had at those places, we would need to figure everything out. There is something so familiar about the smoky mountains that made us decide to go back.

2. You need a vacation! If your husband has been working non stop for the last month or two on a project…a vacation is just what your family needs. The girls LOVED the extra special time and attention that daddy gave them during vacation week.

3. Family is so important. My parents and my brother and I have always been weirdly close. I’m sure there are other families that are close like us, but I’m not sure we are the norm. But it is so fun when we can actually get a vacation scheduled with all of us. There are now 10 of us. It isn’t an easy thing to book a week long vacation all together, but we have managed to do it 2 times this year.

4. Make the memories. I never really thought I have taken for granted the love of my parents and my family. But these past 10 months we have been much more intentional about spending time togerher and making memories. We have no clue how long dad will be with us, but I want to make sure we never wasted a minute and did all the things we could with him while he was here. This even includes him go cart racing with Craig and the girls on both trips this year. Even though he felt weak some of the trips, he made it the best he could.

5. Go outside. This seems like a given when you are in the beautiful Smoky Mountains but I didn’t really grow up hiking on vacations or playing in random rivers. But my husband did. And we have been trying to do these things with our girls. It is pretty fun to hike with a 5 year old, 2 year old while being pregnant with some light rain. There were some places I was pretty nervousof the edge. Or the time we were hiking while I had C in the Ergo and I fell. I scraped up my knee pretty bad and bumped C’s head. Those are not necessarily my FAVORITE memories of outdoor time on vacation. We have the time when we were hiking with C and a bear was super close to us in the parking lot (okay, that is a bit scary but looking back….it was so cool). Or the hike we took in the spring with all 3 girls and it started pouring. It was a short hike and we were drenched by the end but we were giggling. And then there is all our time at the river. Our favorite spot is at Greenbrier and across the street at a covered bridge. We try to go there at least once every trip. And those smiles and giggles are priceless!

6. Do your research. Most of the time, Craig and I spend a good amount of time going through cabins. Cabins have always been our preferred lodging so we can be away from crowds, have space to be with family and be able to cook our meals. We usually take into account the price (obviously), location, amenities (a hot tub and wi-fi), roads (we prefer not to go up/down steep inclines), close neighbors and number of rooms. When all 10 of us are together on trips…we prefer at least 4 or 5 rooms. Let me back track. I prefer 5 rooms. Baby girl A sleeps way better in her own room. And I sleep much better when she sleeps much better!

7. Go on a bear hunt. This is similar to the first point. Just go back. Cades cove is one of those places where we have been there, done that. But we Go back everytime mainly to look for bears! We take the long, curvy drive just to look for bears. But it is beautiful. And we still like the gift shop. And we almost always see at least 1 bear and horses. Plus it is so cute to watch the girls ride with theie heads out of the window so they can see some bears.

8. Choose restaurants wisely. I know there are so many must eat at places in that area. I wish we could squeeze them all in. But then we would likely be stuffed. And especially this past year, dad can’t eat too much for meals. Plus you factor in the CRAZY of 10 people and 4 of them being wild kids. It isn’t a ton of fun to go out a lot. Some of our favorites are: Big Daddys Pizzaria, Mellow Mushroom, Hungry Bear BBQ, Bennett’s BBQ, Fuddruckers and the New Orleans Sandwich shop. *Note: we did love going to Shakes and Dawgs for hot dogs but they appeared to be closed this last trip.* We dont usually go to all of these places, but we enjoy a few each trip.

9. Eat the ice cream. I’m not sure why, but it is almost always a must to go get ice cream on a regular basis. We like chunky monkey and mad dog’s creamery but really any ice cream will do!

10. Don’t waste your money. We have spent money on some things there that we regretted right away. At least for our situation (with younger kids and my dad being sick)…some things were not worth it. Money wasters in our opinion: Wonderworks, Ripley Believe it or not, Old MacDonald putt putt, and the Aquarium on a Saturday (it really is a great aqyarium, but it was absolutely no fun on a busy day). Many of these things we did because C begged, but we choose not to go back now. We have really enjoyed The Exotic pet zoo, go cart, going to see Santa at Santa’s Claus-et. Honestly, usually we have more fun when we don’t do a lot of the big touristy things.

11. Buy the shirt. I know I just said not to waste money, but a souvenir shirt is different. I think it must be a thing my parents started with us. I have a lot of shirts from vacations growing up. I love the memories associated with the trips. And now, I feel the same way with the girls. I can look at their shirts from Gatlinburg tripa and recall certain fun memories. I love it!

12. Go fishing. My husband really likes to fish when we are down there. Yes, I did even make the sacrifice one year of waking up at 6 am to go fishing. It isn’t my favorite thing, but I do it because he wants to. And I love seeing our girls have fun with daddy. They feel so proud when catching a fish. Even my dad caught his first fish last year while fishing with us in Gatlinburg.

13. Spray for mosquitos. The same annoying mosquitos you deal with at home are also annoying in the smoky mountains.

14. Go out for breakfast. Most breakfasts we make pancakes or eat cereal when we are at the cabin. But we have started a tradition where we go out for breakfast on the last day together. It is a fun/yummy way to end our trip. Even if my 3 year old picky eater said she would est the bear pancakes and then refused to take a bite when she got them.

15. Stay an extra day. There have been several times that my husband and I weren’t ready to go home. My parents and brother and his wife had other obligations, so we ended up getting a hotel room downtown Gatlinburg. Usually I am not a fan of spontaneity, but I love it in this case. We are usually able to squeeze in a few extra things we had hoped to do.

Go to Smoky Mountains! Have fun and make lots of memories!

Homeschool, I love Jesus, Mom life

Your conviction is YOURS

I’m not quite sure of the direction this post will go but I have some things on my heart that I need to get off my chest.

Recently, a book called Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis has become popular. She starts each chapter with a lie many women tell themselves and gives personal examples on why these lies are not true. I listened to this book on audio (in her voice) and enjoyed it. There were chapters that I really needed to hear and have kept me thinking. Other chapters weren’t really for me, but thats ok.

But lately though, I have come across different blog posts about how wrong Rachel is in her writing. Saying she didn’t lead people to Christ in her book. And it is now being reposted by many Christians pretty much bashing Rachel and her book. Maybe Even making people feel guilty for reading it and liking it?!?

I enjoyed this book. Did I draw closer to Christ from it? Nope. But I didn’t read it with the intent. It was more of a self help book. Do I feel guilty for reading it since I am a Christian? Nope. I actually read her 3 novels in the past year and enjoyed them and decided to read this book too. I enjoy her realness, her funny stories, and her hard work.

Many are feeling the conviction to not read this book because it is not leading people to Christ. That is fine. Don’t read it. But don’t judge other Christians if they don’t have the same convictions and do choose to read it.

Here is another example. Rebecca with Homeschool On ruffled feathers a few months ago. She had previously promoted a particular curriculum but after prayer and using it a while, she decided to quit using it because of HER convictions. She was bashed by many for HER convictions. If she feels God is leading her away from a particular curriculum for a particular reason…that is between her and God. Since then, I have seen many youtube videos of Christian moms attempting to defend themselves on why they still chose to use the curriculum. We shouldn’t have to defend ourselves! I was using that same curriculum and I didn’t have the same convictions as Rebecca. But I did feel God leading me to switch curriculum for other reasons. So I obeyed and I really think this school year has been great due to our switch. Even recently, a friend questioned something in this curriculum and seemed to open a hornets nest by questioning this curriculum. How can anyone have convictions or question this beloved curriculum? (Yes. That is sarcasm).

Really? We have enough on our plates. Let’s stop judging others for silly things and making people feel guilty for convictions.

Some Christians still let their kids dress up and trick or treat for candy 🙋 Yep, we do. Some don’t. We don’t “celebrate” Halloween, but we can still have fun. But if you don’t feel it is right for your family…that is fine! It is your personal conviction.

I know Christians who read or watched 50 Shades of Grey. For me, I had no interest in this. It is MY own conviction to not expose myself to this. But if you don’t share in this conviction, then that is fine.

Some have convictions about music or movies or even electronics. Some don’t. My husband is a computer programmer and grew up loving electronics. So we let our kids watch tv shows and play on iPad’s. It is ok if you don’t let your kids do that, but there is no need to bash others who do.

I can’t stand the song I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me. I can’t exactly pinpoint why but it instantly annoys me and I have to turn it to something else. And my favorite verse is not Jeremiah 29:11. I love my small church family and dont wish to go to a big church. We homeschool. I have a few ear piercings and no tattoos. I breastfed my first 2 girls for over a year but had to switch to formula after 2 months with my youngest due to my injury. My girls eat candy and sweets sometimes. My oldest is a huge fan of Harry Potter and Star Wars. You may feel or be the same as me and my family or you may not.

My whole point is you do you. I will do me. I will continue to seek God and follow the convictions He has placed in my life. And I hope that you will do the same. But let’s please stop judging others!

I love Jesus

When my dad is no longer my Pastor

My dad is retiring this weekend. To most, retirement is a happy and exciting thing to look forward to. But for many reasons, this retirement is very bittersweet.

We had plans in the coming years that our family would move closer to my husband’s family in Cincinnati. Since I’m extremely close to my parents, I really wanted to wait until they retired to move so they could move soon after us. And they were excited about it. But that move isn’t happening like we had hoped. My dad’s cancer diagnosis messed us all up! Now, my mom is continuing to work so she can get the great insurance for my dad’s chemo. And my dad’s oncologist recommended that my dad retire sooner than later. So with tears, my mom and dad announced their retirement a few weeks ago. It just isn’t the way his retirement should be!

 

This bittersweet feeling isn’t just about my dad’s diagnosis though. It goes deeper. My dad has been a pastor for 43 & 1/2 years.  Just in case you don’t know…that’s about 8 years longer than I’ve been alive. He has been my pastor my whole life (except for the few years I was away at college, Ukraine and living in Versailles, IN). I have listened to countless sermons from him…I was even a sermon illustration in many of them. I have been his partner in ministry with VBS, children’s Ministry, missions and youth ministry. He helped develop my love for serving others. I actually liked attending board meetings or district camp meetings to know what is going on in the church a little more. It will be super weird after this week to come to church that my dad is no longer preaching at.

But through the years, not only was he our Pastor at our church. He was our Pastor at home. He has always told us that his family was his first congregation and he lived it. He felt that if he failed us, he would have failed as a Pastor. He prayed with us. Loved us. He was super involved in our lives. I mean what other dad’s do you know who put their red sweat pants on (while still wearing their breathright strip on his nose) takes his kids to school. Or does his daughter’s ponytail everyday before school when her hair is permed. Or reads books and prays at their kid’s school. He made the time for us and he made us feel important. And he showed us the way to Christ.

 

So even though he is retiring from being a Pastor of our church, he will still be the Pastor to our families. We have no clue what the future holds, but I’m thankful that for my Pastor. And my daddy.

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Uncategorized

The night before public school starts

2 years ago, we were prepping for public school to start. We bought all the supplies. Purchased the new clothes and shoes. Met the teacher. Labeled the million items. Packed the bags. Made contact with the bus driver. Packed a lunch. Cried a few tears. Took lots of pictures.

The first day for her was a pretty good day. But as the days went on, the newness wore off. She dreaded leaving mommy. She cried daily. This pregnant Mama’s heart had a hard time dealing with it! She made friends. She learned a lot, but we needed a change.

Homeschooling last year was rough. It still isn’t perfect everyday. But we have settled into a pretty peaceful school year. We do a lot more playing and reading.

On this night before many of my friends are sending their kids off to public school…I’m thankful. I’m thankful we didn’t have the anxiety this year as we began our new school year. I’m sure she would be so anxious and worried about starting a new year with a new teacher in a new room and a new schedule. I’m thankful that I can extend bedtime tonight because my girls were actually playing really good together. I’m thankful we can take our time getting ready tomorrow instead of rushing around and in bad moods. I’m thankful we have plans for some fun things tomorrow. Things that we can do together. I’m thankful I didn’t have to be super stressed out about finding all the supplies and labeling everything. I’m thankful I get to teach my girls. I don’t know if this will always be our life, but I am so glad for this homeschooling journey right now. I’m thankful for homeschooling.

Homeschool

2nd grade Curriculum for 2018/2019

Just a few short months ago, I thought I had C’s curriculum all planned out. If you read the post here, I had planned to basically use all that The Good and The Beautiful offered for a 2nd grader. The Language Arts, History, Science, and typing. And even just a few weeks ago, that was my plan. But things have changed a bit. I have still gathered curriculum from various companies, but we are actually leaning a bit more toward Masterbooks for core subjects. We are also going to have a better schedule as much as possible. Which includes what I have dubbed as “Fun Friday”. We will still do some math/reading but it may be more game oriented. This will also be the time where we really focus on Science, Art, our bigger Bible curriculum, and whatever else. Doing this brought me some relief because it just seemed like so much to fit into a daily schedule.

Here is our plan for the 2018/2019 for my 2nd grader!

Bible

Last year, I wasn’t very good at including Bible. I wanted to, but I had so many plans that didn’t happen due to our life circumstances. So this year, I have a plan!

We will use our daily devotional book from Word of Life (these are a previous years devotional that was for sale online at half the price). I bought one for C, G and myself at our own levels. They all coordinate with Bible verses. The girls love these devotionals and usually ask to do several days at a time. I can’t complain about them wanting to read more of God’s word together!

Word of Life Store link

For Fun Fridays, we will be working through Picture Smart Bible. I love this curriculum! I love that when we are done, we will have basically talked about the entire Bible! Every book has a picture and the parent reads about what parts of the picture stand for and it gives a summary of each book. To make it a little more interesting for the kids, they recommend cotton balls, twigs, cloth and whatever other crafty things you can find to glue to the pictures. It can take a little time and be a bit messy, but it has been a fun curriculum for the girls so far! There are free sample lessons on their website…so check it out!

Picture Smart Bible Link

Social Studies

I purchased The Good and The Beautiful History 1 and intended to use it this year, but decided to go a different route for now since my oldest is only in 2nd and she has plenty of time to focus on History. I decided to focus a little more on Social Studies and I LOVE what we picked! There is a newer curriculum called My Story by Masterbooks. It is Christian based and starts out talking about families, then communities, and then travels around the World. The lessons aren’t too long and there are a lot of different activities throughout the book. My favorite so far is a Family Tree after talking about Noah’s family on the ark. After receiving it and loving it right away, I have already pre-ordered My Story 2!

My Story by Masterbooks YouTube review

My Story 1 by Masterbooks link

I should also add, I attempted Beautiful Feet Around the World with Picture books for a few days, but it just didn’t click with our family. I know many others love this study, so check it out! It has a beautiful guide.

Spanish

I wanted to add in a little foreign language with my girls but not overwhelm them. I came across this book called 52 weeks of Family Spanish. There wasn’t much info on Amazon for this, so I did create a very non professional review of it so others could check it out. There are short lessons with only a few words to learn each week. I think it will be perfect to even include my 3 year old!

My YouTube review of Spanish curriculum

52 Weeks of Family Spanish Amazon link

I also purchased the complete book of Spanish workbook in case C would like to do a little more learning. I have also come across a YouTube playlist someone created by finding tons of short videos to go with the lessons in this book.

Spanish lessons YouTube playlist

The Complete book of Spanish link

Health

Ok homeschool moms. Do you ever come across a subject or curriculum that you didn’t even think about needing but someone suggested it and you decided you HAD to have it? Yep. That would be this curriculum. We haven’t started it yet, but I really liked it. And it is K-3 so it can last you at least 4 years! There are several options for each level and going a little deeper as they get older. It is called Healthy Living from the Start by Oak Meadow. This is not a Christian based company, but if I do come upon anything I don’t agree with in the curriculum, I will just skip it. 😁 I did a YouTube video on this curriculum.

Healthy Living from the Start Youtube Review

Healthy Living from the Start by Oak Meadow Amazon link

Sciene

We will be adding in Science a bit more than last year. We will be finishing up the Safety Unit that we started last year. C picked to do a Water Unit next, but the girls have developed a new love for bugs. I decided now is the best time to study bugs so Arthropods Unit it is! All of these units are from The Good and The Beautiful. I chose to print and bind these units myself to save a little money. I’m also adding other things to these unit guides. YouTube videos, activities I found on Pinterest, and other books. One is God Created Insects by Masterbooks. It is a sticker/coloring book and very detailed too!

TGTB Science units link

God Created Insects by Masterbooks link

Math

In March, we switched from Horizons Math to Math Lessons for a Living Education by Masterbooks. We love it and are sticking with it this year. The lessons are short (Charlotte Mason Inspired) and there aren’t a ton of problems to practice. C says she loves Math again! We are adding some extra games and flash cards in to really get her to remember her math facts. My original plan was to start her with Teaching Textbooks as soon as she can, but I think we will stick with MLFLE for a while!

MLFLE by Masterbooks link

I also purchased Mathematical Reasoning Level C by Critical Thinking as a fun supplemental. Many have been loving this curriculum, so I thought I would try it out. So far, we have attempted it one day during the summer and C was frustrated, but we will try it again soon.

Mathematical Reasoning by Critical Thinking link

Language Arts

This is where things are a bit crazy! In March, when we switched Math, we also switched LA to The Good and The Beautiful curriculum. It was a great change and I could definitely see C learning more than she had. We only completed about half of the level we were on and my intent was to finish that level this school year and then move on to the next. But I just felt this nudge from God to switch again to another curriculum. While TGTB is a great curriculum, I felt like we needed a little more open and go and simple. Some would argue that TGTB is exactly as I described, but there is still a lot involved each day (phonics cards, memory work, spelling lists, sight words, assessments, mini books, and the reader) and it got to be overwhelming. Masterbooks just released Language Lessons for a Living Education level 2. This curriculum seemed very similar to TGTB but less involved. The lessons are usually a page front and back. There are 7 spelling words each week and there are suggested extra activities to do in the back of the book. I did also purchase a Spectrum spelling book, but I’m going to wait to see if she needs extra practice before starting that. We are a few days into this curriculum and love it so far!

LLFLE level 2 by Masterbooks YouTube review

LLFLE by Masterbooks link

Handwriting and Typing

C is very interested in learning cursive. We have tried several things this past year, but she chose to do A Reason for Handwriting level C. This is a Christian curriculum. It is broken down by days and the first 3 they practice letters or words and then by the end of the week, they write out the verse on a piece of pretty paper they have in the back of the book.

A Reason For Handwriting link

I also purchased Typing 1 curriculum from The Good and The Beautiful. My plan is to let C do this at her own pace and when she wants to. I’m hoping she will do this more on her free time when I am working with her younger sister.

Typing by TGTB link

Thanks for sticking with me on this long post! I hope to get a YouTube video out showing it all in a video, but that may not be for a week or two. We started our new school year on June 19. So far, I feel like it is relaxed schooling but a better schedule than last year. Anything has to be better than our crazy school year last year (newborn, broken ankle and dad’s diagnosis of cancer)! I’m so excited to see how our sweet girls will grow in stature and wisdom this year!

Uncategorized

Spread a little love

Today at Walmart…there were very long lines. I dread long lines when with all 3 girls, but we had no other option. Thankfully the girls were all pretty well behaved during our shopping trip (because it doesn’t happen).
A mom behind me with an older girl started making small talk. “Don’t you just love this time of the year when shopping with school aged children too?”
I mentioned that I always have them in the store since I homeschool 😀
She talked about how much I should treasure these moments because it goes by quickly. She has 2 girls and the youngest just graduated this week. She said she remembers the hard and long days off when they were younger but they’ve gone by in a flash. We talked some about public school and homeschooling.
After I checked out, I told them to have a good day.
Know what she said? “You too. You are doing a good job mom”

Those few minutes of conversation may not mean much to her, but they meant the world to me. As a stay at home mom, I have very few grown up conversations each day. But this mom took a few minutes to talk to me. Not only did she talk to me, but she ended the conversation with encouragement. She built me up when I really needed it. Take a few minutes when you are out and about and encourage others. Talk to those moms who have their hands full. Don’t give them advice on what they should be doing different. Encourage them. Let them know you have been in their shoes. Tell them they are doing a good job. It makes a difference!

Homeschool

Why homeschool?

I’m learning that each family has their own reason for homeschooling. And your original reasons for homeschooling may not be what your reasons are now.

If someone would have told me 2 years ago that I would probably be homeschooling the girls now, I would have laughed in their face. It was never anything I desired to do. My oldest has always been whiny and dramatic, so I didn’t know if I could handle being with her 24/7 and if she would even learn from me.

Both my husband and I went to public school and that is what we planned to do for our kids. We briefly checked into a local Christian school but it was way too much money for us to spend. Our oldest daughter did go to a Christian preschool for 2 years, but that tuition was a bit more manageable. Then she went on to Kindergarten at a public school. It is a great and quality public school. Her teacher was a sweet Christian lady. We honestly didn’t have much to complain about as far as her education and the school, except that maybe it was a bit crowded and hardly ever a parking space available on party or program days.

She made friends. Although there was drama with some of the friends. Yes, even in Kindergarten. Like I mentioned though C is a bit dramatic so who knows how much of the friend drama really happened. She started the Kindergarten year riding the bus. This meant she left a half an hour at least before school started and got home at least a half an hour to 45 minutes after school was out. After about 2 weeks of her riding the bus, we realized how much more time we would have together if I just took her and picked her up. Plus a few extra minutes of sleep was a perk! My husband thought I was being too soft by taking her (probably because his mom, uncle and Grandpa were bus drivers). But each day was a struggle. She never wanted me to leave. She would cry and cry. If I bribed her by taking her to lunch, she would cry when we dropped her back off after lunch. It was a daily thing. And it had been a daily thing even in preschool. Her preschool teachers used to peel her off of me so I could leave. She always settled down a few minutes later, but it broke my mommy heart every single day to walk away while she cried.

So on Spring Break last year we had the best time in Gatlinburg as a family. And maybe it was partly my crazy pregnant hormones, but I actually had the idea to homeschool. I knew we were having so much fun on vacation together and I thought why can’t everyday be like this? Why do I need to send her off to school? Why do I have to let her “cry it out” and “get over it”? Why does she have to be away from me?

So our reason for starting to homeschool was:

1. To be closer to her since she had anxiety leaving me. There is no set rule that we HAVE to make our kids learn the hard way and at such a young age to be away from us. Why has society decided this is right? It doesn’t have to be the way it is. She isn’t a “baby” for wanting to be with her mom a little longer. But I can guarantee she would likely get teased in the future if she continued in public school and cried when I dropped her off.

And now, we have many more reasons for continuing to homeschool:

2. School shootings. These shootings are happening far too often and too close to home for my comfort. My heart aches anytime I read or hear about another one. I know I can’t completely protect my kids from evil people. But by homeschooling the girls, I can protect them a bit from school shootings.

3. Flexibility. Before this year, I didn’t know how much flexibility would play in our journey, but boy did we need it. We started homeschooling toward the beginning of July 2017. We had our 3rd baby girl on July 31. It took us a bit to adjust to having a newborn baby around. Then in October, I fell and broke my ankle pretty bad. Again, another adjustment. Mommy couldn’t just drive them places or get them things to eat, etc. I was down for almost 3 months! Then in December, my dad got diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. My girls and I are so close to my parents and it was a big blow. So flexibility has been a key to this year. We’ve had life happen so much on top of normal errands and appointments. We have been able to school around life happening. If there was a day that too much was going on, we would take a day off. And many days, we would school in the afternoon when one or two kids were sleeping.

3. I get to choose what my kids learn. If you follow me, you will soon find out I’m a bit obsessed with figuring out curriculum. There is so much good stuff out there! The possibilities are endless! But on top of that, I can choose if I want curriculum to be Christian based or secular. I can choose if I want the girls to learn geography or history. I can choose the style. I can add in Bible lessons. Or a foreign language. I don’t have a public school making those choices for us and even teaching things against our beliefs. I’m not attempting to shelter my kids, but I do want to “raise up a child in the way he should go” as the Bible says.

I also get to teach my kids at their level. If they are advanced in one area, we can fly forward. Or if there is an area we need to review more, we can do that too! We don’t have to follow the lesson plan and my kids won’t be held back waiting on others to catch up.

4. No school fundraisers, supplies, or other things I have to spend money on. True, I am still spending money on curriculum and other things, but I get a choice in where this money is going. My girls don’t NEED certain school supplies or a backpack or uniforms. I don’t have to pay for a netbook or for field trips. And fundraisers! We got envelopes several times last year asking for donations and the kids got prizes. And of course Cora wanted to earn all the prizes. I like getting to choose where our money is invested.

5. The girls are forced to play together. Before we homeschooled, the girls played together a bit, but by the time C got home, did homework, ate supper and took a bath, there was very little time for them to actually play together. Now they can play together throughout the day. They play dolls together. Jump on the trampoline together. Play in the sprinkler together. Sure they fight, but they also do way more together than they used to. I can see them becoming best friends, even if they won’t admit it.

6. No strict bedtime or wake up time. I hated bedtime and a set waking up at a certain time last year. C was almost always in a bad mood when she woke up and we butted heads a lot in the mornings when I was trying to get her moving faster. I hated it. Plus it was so stressful to get her in bed at a certain time so that she wouldn’t be too horrible the next day. We had to stop going to our midweek kids program at church because it would be too late getting home for her on those nights since we live 20 minutes from our church. We do still try to get the girls in bed by 8 every night, but it isn’t a huge deal if it is later. And ironically, they actually wake up around the time C had to be awake last year. The only difference is she can wake up on her own. Not with me dragging her out of bed!

7. Vacations and parks. We aren’t bound by school breaks for traveling. We can travel more in off seasons which results in fewer crowds and sometimes even saving money! We are also able to head to the parks on days when kids are in school. It isn’t as much fun to head to the parks during the summer days when they are really crowded!

8. Co ops. It is a myth about homeschooling kids lacking socialization. We have always been involved in our church, so I knew even if we did nothing else, my girls would be just fine. They have a good group of friends at church and really enjoy being involved. But I wanted to try out a Co-op. Many of them around the area require parents to be involved with teaching or set up. Knowing we had a toddler and a newborn, I didn’t think I could make too much of a commitment. We came across the Co-op CHOICE. It meets less than 10 minutes from our house and there are already set mentors (teachers), so parents aren’t required to teach! They do require us to stay in the church while kids are in classes. Thankfully there is a nursery. There are many classes to choose from and usually I let Cora make 2 choices. She has done PE, choir, tumbling and a sewing class. She has been finding things she likes and doesn’t like. She is taking classes with kids not just in her grade or age group. I’m so thankful we have found this co-op! It does cost money (nothing is free, right? 😁), But it is worth it. And the mom’s of this co-op have been so great. When there is a mom down, whether sick, bedrest or broken ankle 😉, they will make a meal train or a sunshine basket. It was such a sweet blessing to be a recipient of this basket last fall after my broken ankle. A huge basket full of items for me and the girls even though many didn’t even know us in the first semster. I must say, I love that our area has such a huge and great homeschooling community. It makes this journey so much better.

9. I get to be with my girls and watch them grow. I know not everyone gets this pleasure. But lately I am learning how blessed I am that I get to be the one teaching them and seeing them grow. I can see them through the milestones. I no longer feel like I’m getting the leftovers of C’s energy. Every night while doing homework…we struggled. Her energy was drained by being at school for so many hours. She was tired and I didn’t get to experience the best version of her. But now, I do.

10. We can be outside more and school anywhere! We never used to spend a lot of time outside. We spent most evenings inside when she got home. But now, we love it! As soon as the weather started getting nicer, we started going outside as much as possible. They jump on the trampoline, play with chalk or bubbles and a new favorite is to turn on the sprinkler and play in the mud. We also love doing picnics! I usually go sit outside in a chair or on a blanket. If it is a school day, I pack up the curriculum and bring it outside. C will take breaks from playing and sit down to do work. This is also the case if we need to be at my parents’ house or somewhere else. It is so easy to load up the things we need and do school anywhere.

So there are now 10 reasons for us to homeschool. I can’t believe we have completed our first year and now plan to keep going! It hasn’t been all peachy everyday. In fact, there were probably more days than not (especially in the beginning) that I threatened her with going back to public school. I think she is learning to respect me in a different way. We are gradually getting out of the public school mindset of schedule and needing to do “school” a certain way. The girls drive me bonkers most days too, but I still love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

So now I’m curious. What are your reasons for wanting to homeschool? My reasons may not look like your reasons, but they are important to think about just the same!