Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012 - 3


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Christmas 2012 - 2


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Christmas 2012

Grams and her great-grandkids

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Friday, December 21, 2012

12 days of Christmas Study

Here is a very quick overview of our study this season.

Main Book - The 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle

12  Days of Christmas - the story behind the favorite Christmas song.

I also found an old used workbook that had coloring pages and there are some fun counting books on Amazon.

We started our countdown on the 13th but traditionally it starts on the 25th and goes through Jan. 6th which is Epiphany.

One fun thing we did was to go on a 12 Days of Christmas Ornament Scavenger Hunt.  We went to at least 7 or 8 different stores to find an ornament that represents each day.  Some are traditional and some are hysterical.  Some of my favorites are the Dancing Hippo Lady that represents 9 Dancing Ladies or the western dressed cow that represents Maids a Milking.  We giggled and laughed and joked through the evening and made some wonderful memories.  When we got home we took a gold and silver pens and labelled each ornament and then each day as we read the day, color the sheet (mostly) and put the ornament up.  We also did a small St. Nicholas celebration and a fun St. Lucia Day celebration.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Ideas

I am posting previous Christmas blog posts because I have gotten some questions on Cmas Unit study ideas.   Hope you find an idea that can work for your family.  We are doing a 12 days of Christmas Study.  When I get it a little more nailed down, I will let you know!


Re- do Christmas Carol Advent, " From Humbug to Hallelujah"

Making shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child to care for the poor - the beginning of our unit study

We are so excited for the new animated "A Christmas Carol". We had planned to read the book and we have a daily devotion on the Christmas Carol so voila! a unit study for our Advent Celebration!
"A Christmas Carol" has so many great lessons that we as Christians need to embrace. It speaks about loving others, valuing people over things, making the most out of every minute, and keeping the joy of Christmas all year long. I am looking forward to watching the kids embrace these ideas as we move into the Christmas season.
So, for those of you with older elementary and up kids (the book and movie can get intense - although the Muppet version is lots of fun) here's my plan:
Read the unabridged version of the book as an before bed read aloud. Watch the movie and then use this great devotional we got several years ago called, "from Humbug to Hallelujah". You can get the devotional from, I've found a great site for more unit study ideas as well at, There is also a Progeny Press Guide for those who really want to go in depth.
I find that we have a much better (and more fun) Christmas season if I have a unit study planned for the weeks we have off from school. It's also more meaningful and it keeps the kids interested to hear the Christmas story from new points of view. We'll probably do crafts and plan meals based on the Dickens time frame as well.
Advent begins November 29th. Time to get busy!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Best job Ever!

Check out my newest article!

Homeschool Handbook Sept/Oct 2012

For those of you who haven't seen the Homeschool Handbook it is a really great homeschool magazine and not just because they print my articles.  I have found some great helps as well as inspiration from their pages.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

What Makes Great Kids?

Recently, I have had several rather intense conversations about what makes great kids.  These conversations have been in rather odd places to have such intense conversations, a birthday party for people I have only met a couple times, over dinner with some acquaintances, and after church with parents of kids I teach in Sunday School.  By intense, I mean, parents asking me very directly what Scott and I have done and exactly how they can do it.  Step by step instructions as it were.  I generally can help if someone has a specific question, like what to do if your child constantly interrupts?  Well, teach them the interrupt rule and teach them that it is rude and love is not rude.  What do I do with kids that won't go to bed?  Keeping putting them back in bed and then make bedtime 10 minutes earlier the next night for every time they get out of bed.  Specific questions I can answer.  What have we done step by step to make cookie cutter great kids?  That is a much harder to answer and one  I am afraid I don't have a pithy reply to.

Why don't I?  Well, because firstly, the glory goes to God.  Like every parent, we are trying our very best and sometimes we fail, miserably, and when we do, it's God who picks up the pieces.  It's God Word that teaches us what to teach our kids.  It's God who loved us first so that we can love our children.  It's God who gives us the wisdom to know what is important and what's not.  It's God who teaches me that I am a sinner and need to have mercy and compassion and forgiveness just as He has mercy, compassion and forgiveness.  It's His Word that runs through my head when I am about to shout at my kids and stops me in my tracks.

Maybe that is the first step in making great kids - God.  After all, He loves them even more than I can and in the end, they are His kids, not mine.

Maybe that's what I am going to answer next time.  The first and most important step in raising great kids is God.  It's recognizing that we can't do this alone and that we desperately need Him in our lives.  For us and our kids.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

10 Practical Things Every Homeschooler Should Know

This an old post but as we are a couple months of school and I have talked to several Moms who are struggling, I thought I would post this again...

I have been talking to and seeing on message boards homeschool Moms discouraged about their first weeks of school. The kids are whiny and complaining, no one likes their curriculum and all the Mom is doing is putting out fires, not teaching. This is especially true of new homeschoolers. Where are the idyllic days spent reading with their child or making amazing lapbooks or crafting an amazing project based on what they are reading in history? They have heard about other homeschoolers getting all of this done and more. Why does it seem like it is a constant battle just to get math and Language Arts done? Why don't the kids seem to be enjoying the great projects that Mom has loving prepared? What has happened to the beautiful lessons plans that Mom has slaved over? Homeschooling is hard.
Don't worry and take heart. The first weeks of school are always the worst - sometimes even the first two months are bad. It takes everyone awhile to get used to this new regime. For a regime change has occurred especially if the child has previously been in a traditional school setting. Life has changed and there are new rules in place.
Don't change curriculum in the first two months for it may be less about curriculum and more about character training. It is more likely to be more about testing Mom than in a bad test score. It may be about seeing if Mom is really serious about this schedule than about whether the new schedule works. It may be about expectations, both Moms and the kids. So don't jump ship until the seas stop rocking and then you can take a serious look at what's working and what's not.
Here are some practical things that I have found to be helpful:
1. There is absolutely no whining or complaining in school. period. Teach your child Phil. 2:14-16. God doesn't like it ( and neither does Mom) so don't do it.
2. Have consequences pre-planned for whining and a lack of diligence. If you whine in our house or are not diligent in your work - you get more work but if you are, you get a marble in your jar which at a certain level will reward you with a special treat of some kind. This method works great with older kids, try a treasure box with pre-K - 2nd, filled with cheap little toys. Make sure and find something to reward your child with daily.
3. Have realistic expectations. A child will not sit quietly and let you read to them for hours. I learned this hard way. Let them play quietly with legos or color or draw while you read, it will go better.
4. Start school slowly. Add in the basics the first week, then slowly add in everything else. You will all be happier - trust me.
5. Plan fun things if the kids have been diligent. If the kids work diligently then take them out for an ice cream or better yet wait until Dad is home and give him the good report and then Dad can take them out while you have a bath.
6. Don't compare your homeschool with someone else's. Your friend, who homeschools, does not always have her act together either. Her house is not always clean and her husband does not always come home to a well-prepared dinner and her children do not sing like the VonTrapp's.
7. School time is sacred. Don't take phone calls, don't plan Bible studies, don't answer the door. It's your number one job for that time period. Limit outside activities during school hours. I don't do anything in school time, not co-op, not piano not anything. That's what the afternoon is for.
8. Have an ending time. School ends at this time - no matter what. Pick up where you left off the next day. Do your most important subjects first. I have a four day schedule so that I can use Fridays for pick up subjects.
9. Schedule time for cleaning and laundry and dinner prep. Most of my housework happens on Friday. Look at for help in scheduling housework. Check out for great slow cooker recipes. Dinner is done and you don't have to worry about it.
10. Make time for yourself and your husband. Schedule dates and keep them. Go out with your girlfriends or even just call them (after school of course). Have a mandated quiet time each afternoon, everybody goes to their room for atleast and hour - including you.
Homeschooling is hard but so is every good thing. Parenting is hard, marriage is hard, being a Christ-follower is hard but they are worth all the pain, sweat and tears I put into them. Homeschooling is the same way. More than worth it. There is nothing that I would rather do then to train and teach my children so that they will be ready for whatever amazing plan God has for them.
Have some other ideas that help you? Please let me know, my homeschool isn't perfect either and I could use all the help I can get.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Love Homeschooling

I love home schooling.  I really do.  Yes, there are days that are hard and sometimes I just don't feel like home schooling but at the depths of who I am, I love it.  Here are the top reasons I love homeschooling my kids.

1.  I love to be able to talk to my kids about God.  I love to be able to stop in the middle of a history reading and say, "Do you see how God prepared the way for the Good news to spread?  The Romans made roads across the known world which allowed the apostles to spread the news farther and faster."

2.  I love the "a-ha" moment.  I want to be the one to see my kids when the light bulb comes on and they get a concept or conquer something they have been struggling over.  It is the best part of my day.

3.  I love to be able to tailor my kids learning to each of them.  I can allow them to follow their passions while still maintaining a rigorous base of academics.  I can allow Caileigh to draw her summaries or let Collin build a Lego model or even watch as Connor makes a program to show his Chemistry results.

4.  I love to take learning outside of the books.  We can build a ballista while studying Roman armies, make Johnny cakes when studying early American history or take a field trip to the Scottish games where they also have a Roman encampment.  ( Can you tell we are studying Rome?)  When we bring the books to life, learning happens more fully.  It becomes a great memory not just a memorized fact.

5.  I love to have the opportunity to teach character training and academics all at the same time.  Being able to teach perseverance, diligence, self-control, obedience and contentment all while teaching math is a beautiful thing.

6.  I love to learn.  Selfishly, I love to teach my kids because I love to learn.  I get excited about all the new things we are going to learn.  I know I was never taught half of this information and I love to be able to learn it along side my kids.  It's fun!

7.  I love that my kids get to be who God made them with out too much outside pressure.  No one is telling them that they shouldn't love to learn or that it's too Geeky to read Programming manuals for fun or that their clothes or hair or whatever makes them popular or not popular.  They thrive on being originals.  They take pride in being able to play the piano or recite Latin nouns or discuss whether the Aenid by Virgil is just a copy cat version of The Odyssey by Homer.

8.  I love the sheer amount of time we get to spend together.  Yes, I have to teach how to be kind or what to do when we are frustrated with each other but I consider it a privilege to do so.  I get to teach them conflict resolutions while they are young.  I didn't learn many of these techniques until Scott and I were engaged, what a leg up they will have in their relationships.

9.  I love the ability to help them reach their potential.  I know I am the meanest Mom ever, but I love to    encourage them to try harder and learn more.  To do the hard thing not the easy thing.  To reach higher and achieve more.  I love to see when they surprise themselves by achieving something they didn't think possible.

10.  I love that I get to spend my days with the most amazing people on the face of the earth.  They are incredible and it is a blessing to spend my days with them. 

Here are few pictures showing why I love homeschooling so very much.

Homemade pastries on the first day of school.

Dressing up as a Magistra for the first day of school.  Acting and teaching at the same time!

My beautiful children - enough said.

Finding like minded friends that make learning together so much better!

Family outings which disguise the fact that actually they are learning opportunities.

Letting my kids be who they are, even if it scares me a little.

Having Dad being an integral part of the learning process.

Character lessons - see you are not so big and mighty even if you are 14.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happy 40th Birthday, Scott

I loved you when we were in our 20's and we were getting married, having babies, and lived in 2 apartments and owned 3 different houses and life was crazy.

I loved you when we were ( okay, I stll am for another precious 5 months) in our 30's and we were raising toddlers who all of a sudden are teens and pre- teens and life revolved around our little family.

I will love you now that we are in our 40's and will prayerfully experience kids graduating and going to college and possibly getting married.  Then it will come back to the way we started, the two of us. 

I loved you then, I love you now and I will love you forever!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Blessing of an Involved Dad

At the beginning of August, I left for 2.5 weeks to speak at a convention in California and then to work at the My Father's World office as a homeschool consultant (fancy speak for answering phone calls and fielding questions).  That means that Scott had the kids at home for 1.5 weeks and then took them all on a road trip to Space Camp for a week.  Yes, by himself.  He is a brave man.

Now, the first thing a Mom has to realize and release is that Dad will not do things in the same way a Mom will.  No way, no how.  However, a smart Mom should recognize that this is  blessing.  When Mom steps out of the way and lets Dad (or makes Dad, while still feeling like she might be feeding him to the lions) some very beautiful things happen.

1.  Dad and kids start forming relationships that they might never have had if Mom was always there.  My kids formed deeper relationships with their Dad because I haven't been there.

2.  Dads teach kids things that a Mom would never think of.  For example:

Spam and Mac and Cheese are awesome.  (Mom might not agree with all of these things)

Cleaning the floor with a wash cloth is fine as long as the floor gets clean and then the cloth gets tossed in the washer.

If you can't find enough clean underwear for said road trip, go to Wal-Mart and buy new ones.

Building a Van De Graff generator is a great way to spend an evening.

We are all in this together and if Mom comes home to a dirty house, we are all going to pay.

Demerit systems as a discipline technique.  Who knew?

3.  I don't think that my kids will ever forget that the one thing their Dad wanted for his 40th Birthday was to go to Space Camp with all of them.  He could have gone by himself by no, he wanted them to experience it with him.  That, is by far the best thing he could have done for them.  That his best present was to spend time with them and then made it happen on a 2 day each way road trip.

Prayerfully, all of our husbands are involved Dads.  I found that praising, encouraging and asking my husband to be involved was far better than demanding he be involved in our kids life.  We Moms need to be careful not to criticize our husbands when they do things their way.  Have the kids survived?  Did they eat? Did they have a good time?  Did they learn something new?  Then great!  You can clean the mess up, give them vegetables and no sugar for the next week and put them to bed early to make up for the sleep they lost.  All of these things seem big but in the grand scheme of things, like your kids and their Dad having a vibrant relationship, they are tiny indeed.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oregon Coast Vacation - part 2

The twins "exploring" at Crater Lake.

The family!

My very beautiful,  pregnant sister and her lovely husband.

Our beloved Grams with the kids at a Rose Garden in Portland.

At Tillamook for cheese and ice cream.

My cousin, her husband and her three children met us at Seaside, OR for a week at the beach.

We so love Dave and Steph.  They are our kind of people.

Scott is so happy exploring the Tidal Pools at Haystack Rock.

Playing at the beach!

Caileigh digging a hole to "catch" Uncle Dave.

Uncle Dave "falling" in the hole.

The cousins!

The biggest sand castle/land/amusement park/ waterway system ever.

The big boys helped.

Grams walking the beach with the kids.

Grams and some of her girls.

Last year after our vacation to Washington and Oregon my cousin, her husband and Scott and I promised to get back together, so after much finagling we found a week and a beach house.  We invited whatever family could make it and we proceeded to meet in Seaside, OR for a week at the beach. 

We had a great time.  We don't often find families that raise kids like we do, think like we do and enjoy each other and are family.  When we do find these people, it is so important to make the time to get together.  It's good for you, for your kids and the entire family.  I loved laughing when my cousin or her husband said something that made my kids turn and say, "YOU say the exact same thing, Mom!"  Like mindedness is a beautiful thing.

My cousin is the very soul of servanthood which kept us fed and organized and her wonderful kids follow in her footsteps.  Her husband, Dave, is a wonderful, funny, Godly leader of his home and kept us laughing the entire week.  My Grams is always the backbone of the family and it is so lovely to see her spending time with our kids.  My sister is delightful and we so enjoyed getting to know her husband  more.  Not to mention that he is very competitive which makes games so fun ( especially when you beat him).  He got even, though. It's a good thing he only stayed for two of the days, he might have showed me up and that might have been a problem!

I love that Scott and Dave get along so well and complement each other well, for good and for not so good.  Even though her kids are older than mine, they all played and went for walks and generally just enjoyed themselves.   I soaked in the laughter, camaraderie and love that were the hallmarks of the week.  I even enjoyed making meals and cleaning because Steph and I did it all together.  

I can't wait for next year, whatever we do will be great.  I hope you can find a family or two that are like minded and find time to be together.  It is a blessing to "live" life together and your kids will be blessed by other examples of Godly families.