Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The ABCs of Christmas

The ABCs of Christmas
Collin R. Hudson © 2013

A Merry Christmas
Because unto us a
Child is born
Down from Heaven
Even to the Cross
For God so loved the world that He
Gave his only begotten Son
Heaven and Earth rejoice
In one baby
Jesus Christ
Kind and just
Loving and forgiving
Mature and cool-headed
Never doubting God
Over our heads He hung
Promising us a Place in Heaven
Quiet like a lamb to the slaughter
Rising again three days later
Savior and Redeemer
Truly King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Unfathomable love for us
Vile as our sins are
With Him we are cleaned as white as snow
eXpect Him this Christmas season
Ye sinners repent and be

Zealous to share the Good News of Christ!

Sometimes, your children surprise with what they are capable of. Collin wrote this today in his free time and all on his own. It humbles me to watch my kids relationship with God strengthen grow.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Last Straw Again

Several years ago, I bought a book called "A Candle in the Forest" which is a compilation of Christmas stories by Joe Wheeler. (click on the title of the blog post for a link to the book) One of the stories is called, "The Last Straw" by Paula MacDonald and is about a family whose children can't stop bickering and fighting. The Mom remembers a tradition her Grandmother told her as a child. Each person in the family writes their name on a piece of paper and then they each draw a name and play "Secret Angel" for a week. Each time someone performs a kindness, like making a bed or does another's chore secretly, they can place a straw in the nativity to prepare a place for Jesus when he comes on Christmas Eve. Thus, their home is transformed from a place of bickering and anger to a joyous home where each member places each others needs first.

Each year, I read this story out loud and then we draw names each week for several weeks during the Advent season. We have a basket and strips of fleece that can be placed (secretly) in the basket every time we do a kindness for another family member. Then on Christmas Eve, after everyone has gone to bed, Scott and I place a "baby Jesus" in the basket and put the basket under the tree.  Signifying that we are preparing for Jesus' coming in our hearts and our home.

We have found this to be a great way to prepare our hearts and home for the coming Christmas celebration. It's one more way to have "J.O.Y". (Jesus, Others then Yourself)

***Edited later to add: If you have older children "who are getting too smart for their britches" as my Grams says, you might want to state that they are not to purposely try and figure out everyone's Angel. It does not bring love and harmony to a home - trust me.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Making Christmas Memorable

I have two articles published in the Homeschool Handbook. In the current edition, check out my article, "Making Christmas Memorable".  In the July/Aug issue check out "Helping Children Love to Learn".  I find it so exciting to have the privilege to share one of my passions - homeschooling. Thanks to all of you who have read my ramblings through out the years.  Many of these blogs are the first go at many of my seminars and articles so all of you have been my guinea pigs!  I so appreciate all of you. or click on the title of the blog to take you to the magazine.
Making Christmas Memorable

To show that I actually do what I say I do, here's a few pictures of our Christmas Unit Study of Hanukkah. Boy, that's an odd sentence, a Christmas Study of Hanukkah.  Anyway, we learned about Hanukkah and celebrated all 8 nights of Light.  We even went to a Hanukkah parade, had latkes, the best and biggest homemade doughnuts I have ever seen and sang Hanukkah songs with a local Rabbi.  It was freezing cold but totally worth it!

I loved lighting and the candles and doing the readings as so much pointed back to the Father of Lights.  We learned that Jesus celebrated the Feast of Dedication ( or Hanukkah) in John 10:22.  Some scholars also believe that John 8:12   "Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” was spoken During Hanukkah which adds even more dimension and meaning to what Jesus was saying.

Did I also mention that traditionally you make and eat fried foods during Hanukkah?  It's a WONDERFUL  tradition!

Making a Menorah with our Beloved Friends

The Finished Product

 A Lego Menorah and the Hanukkah Parade, so amazing!

 Homemade Applesauce, Potato Latkes and Eggs.  A Traditional Hanukkah Meal - so delicious!

 Playing Dreidel, Dreidel.  Collin is a serious player!
Categories: parentingMaking Christmas Memorable

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Thanksgiving Tree

We started this last year and loved it so much we left it through the holiday season.  During this season, I wanted my kids to focus on our blessings each day.  Big and little blessings, actually, I wanted us to focus on more of those little blessings that we take for granted.  The blessings that if they were taken away would affect us greatly.  Like quiet moments reading out loud or the blessing of a dog who snuggles on my lap.

I Thess 5:18 says, "in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."  It is God's will that we are to give thanks.  To help remind us, I got window markers and drew a tree without leaves on our sliding glass door and put this verse on it.  Each day we each put one "leaf" on the tree with the thing that we are thankful for.  By the end of the month, the tree is quite full and we can count our blessings one by one.  I can also point a kid to the tree when they are being unthankful or greedy.  It is a great visual reminder of the countless blessing God gives us.  As a bonus, the kids love to draw on the window!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Child Training Part 3 - No Whining and Complaining

No Whining or Complaining

Nothing will make a homeschool day go down more quickly than whining and complaining.  If everytime you pull out a subject your children say, “Mooommm, we don’t want to do math.” or “Mooommmm, we hate history.” then you will probably begin to despise homeschooling.  We don’t want to continually fight or coerce our children into wanting to do school.  We all do things that we don’t want to do.  Think cleaning the toilet or the chore I like the least - folding laundry, it is so pointless.  I know there have been points where we have all needed a refresher in this, including me.  I really do dislike folding laundry and have at times been very whiny, at which point my kids quote this verse to me.

Bible Verse - Phil 2:14 - 15 says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life.”

I modify this verse to “Do everything without whining or complaining so that you may shine like a star in the heavens”.  I have found star stickers and star charts for my younger kids and every time they obeyed or asked for something without whining or complaining then they receive a star.  We have taken our kids out to look at the night sky with blankets and talked about how the stars light  up the night sky and the Bible talks about how we can light up the world around us if we do everything without whining or complaining.

Bible Verse for the second or third day - Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

The Bible talks a lot about our tones and how we say things.  As an object lesson for my kids, I got some honey out and told them that the Bible says that pleasant words and tones are sweet.  I gave them a demonstration of pleasant words, like “Yes, Mom, I am coming”, or “No, thank you” and then gave them a taste of the honey.  I then pulled out the Apple Cider Vinegar and told them that whining, complaining and arguing are vinegar words and tones and had them take a taste of the vinegar.  I still use this today.  If my kids are using honey words, I will put out the honey and if my kids are using vinegar words or tones I give a warning by pulling both the honey and vinegar and asking which they would rather have.  

To encourage younger children, I used a star chart with stickers for every time they asked for something without whining and when they get to 10, give them a prize.  For extensive whining, that doesn't break with positive reinforcement,I would pull out the Apple Cider Vinegar and give them a taste.  Remind them that we would rather use pleasant words versus vinegar words.  (If you think I am being mean, check out the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar - it's really good for the digestion.)

For older kids, especially those who are whining and complaining every time you ask them to do something or you ask them to get our their math, spelling or any subject they dislike, I would use a marble jar for every time they do something without whining or complaining. You could also let them them grab a honey stick or a M&M to give them a treat for obeying right away and saying, "Yes, Mom!".  For a reminder, I would pull out the Apple Cider Vinegar for every time they whined or complained.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

"10 Practical Things" Extended Pt 2 - Child Training

Week 2 - Child Training

When I was in the training stages with my kids, I would pick one trait to work on that week.  The pattern of the week was usually the same.

Day One - Introduce what we were going to work on.  Have them start memorizing a corresponding Bible verse.  Remind them what positive reinforcements would happen if I caught them showing this behavior.  I would also take time to remind them that they were not allowed to tell me when they showed this behavior, I must catch them at it.

Day Two - Introduce a game or activity that reinforced the behavior and practiced saying the Bible verse.

Days Three through Six- Play the game or activity, if appropriate.  Pay special attention to children and give them much praise and positive reinforcement of the behavior shown.  Make sure that you praise the kids, in front of Dad, of the times that day when they showed the behavior. Continue to practice Bible verse.

Day Seven - Have the kids recite their Bible verses. I always like to give kids a small treat, each and every time they could recite the verse for me.  Like an m&m or a jelly bean or a fruit chewie. Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Earlier on, I wanted this to resonate with my kids, that the Words of the Bible are sweet to our soul and to our mouth.  Years later, they now run for the jelly bean jar when they recite verses for me and any kids who come to my house know that if they can recite a verse, I will give them candy. On the last day, I also remind them that I will still be watching for them to show this behavior but now that I know that they know what they are supposed to do, I expect that from them.  I also warn them that there will be discipline if they fail to do what they know they are supposed to.

Now, that you have the basic pattern you put any behaviors into this.

There are several behaviors that I would recommend putting into place for a smoother home and school time.

First Time Obedience

One of the first times I presented this topic at a convention a woman stood up in the middle of the workshop and asked me what I meant by ‘first time obedience’.  I was a little taken aback but since it then happened at successive conventions, I try to define what I mean by that.  By first time, I mean, if you ask your child to sit down at the table, will they sit down the very first time you ask?  If you ask them to pick up their toys will they pick up their toys the very first time you ask?  If you ask them to come to you, will they come the very first time you call?  If your child will obey consistently ( say 80% of the time) then I would say that they are obedient the first time.

The Bible verse I use to teach this is Ephesians 6:1 “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  I would use this verse for children 2-5 years old, but for older kids I would add verses 2 and 3, “Honor your mother and father - for this is the first commandment with a promise - so that it may go well with you and you may enjoy a long life upon the earth.

I play a modified game of hide and go seek with my kids to introduce first time obedience.  I go and hide and then call my kids.  They have to yell, “Yes, Mom” and then run to find me.  When they find me, if they have said, “Yes, Mom” then I give them a treat.  I play this several times the first time and perhaps have my husband do it too and then throughout the week, I would hide unexpectedly and call to them.  Little kids really love this but your older kids will get into it if you challenge them with your hiding places.  Teaching is so much more effective if we can think of fun ways to introduce and reinforce topics.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

"10 Practical Things" Extended - Child and Parent Training Pt 1

I have been challenged to take some of my seminars and expound on some of the ideas so I am going to try ( I said try, no promises) and be disciplined and post once a week on some of these ideas.

The seminar and article I get the most questions on is from, "Ten Practical Things Every Homeschooler Should Know" so I thought I would start with that.

Today we are going to talk about Parent Training.

“The reasonableness of the command to obey parents is clear to children, even when quite young.”  - Noah Webster

One of the very first things I ask Moms who are stressed and overwrought and clearly at their wits end with this crazy homeschooling thing is, “ If you ask your child to please go to the table and sit down, what happens?”  and the second thing I ask is, “How many times would it take of you asking before your child would do it?”.  More often than not, the answer comes with a pause and a stammer or even an answer that it depends on the child’s mood that day.  Children that do not obey right away make homeschooling 10 times harder than it has to be and if you have more than one child, that can make it almost impossible.  Consider this scenario -

“Johnnny and Susie, please come to the table and sit down.  We are ready to start school.”  Mom asks.  Johnny and Susie keep playing with the legos with no acknowledgement or sign of movement.

“ Kids, it is time for school.  Come over.  I have fun activities planned for today.”  The two briefly raise their heads from their toys at the mention of fun but quickly go back to playing.

“I said, it is time for school, don’t make me count to 3!”  Mom’s voice starts getting louder.  Finally, Mom comes over and takes their hands and puts the toys down and makes them come to table all the while the two have begun to wail which then wakes up little brother who has been taking a nap.  Mom struggles to get them to table and hopes the baby goes back to sleep so she can do school.  Mom is stressed, the kids are whining and crying and it is only the beginning of the day.

The calm, wonderful school day Mom has meticulously planned is now shot to pieces and she just does the best she can to teach the have-to’s in the remaining time.  Anyone would have a hard time teaching phonics and math to children who won't even come sit down at the table.  It becomes more about just getting it done than really teaching and educating. One of the interesting and more difficult parts of homeschooling is the fact that we are educating and parenting.  We are training their minds and their hearts at the same time.  You don't stop being the Mom when school starts, you just add the Teacher hat to the mix.

 Now, before we go any further, I know that some of you are thinking, “Dawn must have compliant children.  She clearly doesn’t have any strong-willed children.”  Not true, AT ALL.  We are blessed with three children, Connor, and the twins, Caileigh and Collin.  My husband often says that if we would have just had Connor we would have thought we were the best parents ever.  We said, "No", and he stopped.  We could look sternly at him and he would apologize.  Then we had the twins.  Caileigh, bless her sweet heart, is definitely my child and that is both a blessing and a curse.  I often heard growing up,  “ I hope you have a child just like you!” and I did.  Caileigh does her own thing, in her own time and is willing to let you know when she doesn’t like something.  Her twin, Collin, sees everything in black and white and while mostly obedient, if you do something that he sees as wrong ( like turning the cartoon off while he was watching), he will hold a grudge all day long. I understand, really, I do.  That’s also why I know this works.  I read all the books, went to the seminars, talked to the leaders and gathered all the information I could.

So what is a mom to do?  Plan to spend the summer training your children in first time obedience, no whining and complaining and cleaning up after themselves.  What if you are in the middle of the school year?  Then start where you are.  You can schedule homeschooling light for the next few weeks, take a week or two off or pare down on activities for the next several weeks.  It can be done in the school year, it just might take more of your time, emotions and energy than usual.

Parent Training

First things first, we need to do some parent training.  I would suggest you take a week before you start on child training to train and prepare yourself and possibly your spouse.

In my experience, one of the most powerful and helpful parenting Bible verses is Matthew 5:37 which says, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’, ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

When my children were little, I was challenged to really put this into practice in my home.  It meant that I had to take a moment and think about what they were asking and what my response would be.  It meant that if I said,’Yes’, I was committed to doing what I said I would do.  If I said I would make cookies, then I did.  If I said they could play with playdough I needed to be prepared to help get out all the playdough toys and set them up outside on the patio.  (I can not deal with playdough in the house.  It makes me crazy)  If I said that as soon I was done folding the laundry then I would take them to the park, then I did.  Sure life can get crazy and sometimes things happen but I tried to be very careful to keep my word.  I wanted my kids to know that I when I said I would do something then I would.  I didn't need to promise because my kids knew that if I said ‘Yes’, I meant, ‘Yes’.

This took me a little time to adjust to as I really needed to think about it before I said, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.  I had to weigh out all that I had to do, what other expectations I had on my time and what was most important that day.  Had I spent enough time with the kids or had I been too focused on other matters.  Did I have company coming and messy kids what the last thing I needed?  Was there a moral or Biblical reason to say ‘No’, or was it just because it might annoy me.  This last statement was one I was also challenged on, did I just say ‘No’ to things because I just didn’t really want to deal with it or did I have a valid reason to say, ‘No’? Don’t get me wrong, there were days when I said, ‘No’ and then I told them, “ Mom, really isn't up to it today.  Can we do it later in the week?’.  I really tried to limit the ‘Nos’ that had more to do with what I felt like then really whether it was a bad idea.

Saying, ‘Yes’ is far easier than the concept of saying, ‘No’ and meaning it.  Your ‘No’ as parent must hold weight.  If I tell my kids, ‘No’ they understand that I am willing to follow up on the ‘No’.  I do try and give them a why with the ‘No’ so they can learn the whys behind my ‘Nos’ and hopefully begin to see the wisdom and pattern in my ‘No’.

“No, you may not take the toy away from your sister because that is rude and the Bible says that love is not rude”.

“No, you may not play with your brother’s toys as it is not yours.  We must love and respect your brother enough to ask before we touch his things.”  I said this a lot to the twins who wanted to play with their older brothers cool toys.  Actually, they still want to play with his cool toys, but they now ask before they touch.

When I said ‘No’ to my kids, I had to be willing to follow up on whatever the consequences might be.  My ‘Yes’ meant ‘Yes’ and my ‘No’ meant ‘No’.  I didn’t count to three, I didn’t ask several times because they needed to know that I meant what I said and I was willing to follow through.  Was this fun?  Absolutely not.  There were days when I met my husband at the door and said, “The kids are sitting and reading on the couch, dinner is on the table and I won’t be back until they are all in bed”.  Saying ‘No’ and meaning it means that your children will test you on your ‘No’ and you have to have to have the fortitude to follow through.  It will be worth it though.  I don’t get angry and I don’t raise my voice but my kids know when Mom says ‘No’ she means it and they very rarely challenge that anymore.  It makes our home and much more peaceful and pleasant place.

I think that this is very first step in having your children listen to you both as a parent and a teacher and it is up to the parent to determine in their heart and mind to follow the Bible’s advice.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

And the Rain Came Tumbling Down....

As most of you may be aware, this last week in my part of the world, the skies opened and rain poured forth.  For those of you in wetter climates this may not have quite the same impact as it has here on the Front Range of Colorado.  In the past week, we have had more than a normal years worth of rain.  If it were snow, we would totally know how to handle it, but the wet stuff falling from the skies has been problematic to say the least.

Within miles of our home, bridges have collapsed, roads crumbled and homes and businesses were completely flooded.  Several friends have been totally cut off from water, power and indeed the ability to leave without being airlifted from their towns.  We have friends who are still evacuated from their homes, family who have been without clean water for days and a community rocked by what they are calling a 500 year flood.  It will take a years to repair the damages.

Through the crises, I have the loved the response from the people of faith.   Churches opened as Evacuation Centers, stories of people going door to door in evacuated areas making sure everyone had left (in one case this saved a life of an elderly woman in a wheelchair), homes being opened for those who were displaced, meals prepared and made for those in need.  The digging out of basements and businesses and clean water handed out to those who have none.  

This is what the church was supposed to be.  The fact that double the amount of people needed to feed evacuees showed up at 6 in the morning ready and willing to help shows that when rallied, the church still is the hands of Jesus.  I love that.  I love that our pastor had to send a note telling the congregation to slow up, the authorities weren't ready for us to descend upon the surrounding towns yet.  I love that Samaritan's Purse has made its home base at our church for the next several months.  Samaritan's Purse was here by Saturday.  The floods happened on Thursday and Friday.   I loved that in the midst of personal trials people on FB were saying, "How can I help?  My house is dry, come here".  God showed up in a big way and His people are being His hands.  It has given me some faith in God's people back.  

It was dark and stormy but the sun is shining both literally and figuratively.    I know there are many who still have dark days ahead in digging out and repairing and some who have lost loved ones.  (Though mercifully, that number has been miraculously low) But prayerfully,  God's people will show up to lend a hand to all those in need.

For those wondering, we have been very blessed in this time.  We lost a little sleep in bailing out a window well and have a small part of the basement carpet wet but other than that have stayed high and dry.  Our water is clean and only a few roads are closed around us.  God gave us extra grace.

For those wondering how they can help. I will direct you to our church's website.

Rocky Mountain Christian Church


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stepping on the Moving Sidewalk

This past year Connor and I went through "Experiencing God" together.  One of the things that struck Connor and I was the picture that God is always moving, He always has a plan and we need to move to where He is moving.  So often we hear, "Well, you should wait until God shows you where you are to go." and while that may be true in some cases,  Connor and I were convicted that sometimes we just need to get on God's moving sidewalk.  God is already moving, He already has a plan and sometimes we just need to start walking in whatever direction God seems to moving towards.  It is far easier to steer someone who is moving than to steer someone who is at a complete stand still.  Since Connor was a baby we have told him Jeremiah 29:11, 
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.""  
And sometimes following God's plan for our lives require us to make a move trusting that God will stop us or direct us differently if we are going in a way contrary to His plan. 

We have always wanted our kids to be excited and challenged by the plans that God has for them.  We have told them Isaiah 32:8, But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand."  We have told them that they can do the hard things, they should strive for the impossible, they can change the world for the better, for God says that all things are possible through him.  We have tried to prepare them spiritually and academically.   We have asked them to be excellent in whatever they do because we want them to be prepared for when God's plans start moving them.

I always thought this was to prepare them for college and beyond.  You know, for when they aren't kids.  To properly prepare them for when they are adults.  You know, many years from now.  Not now.  For the future, very distant future.  You know, for when I was ready, umm, I mean when THEY were ready.

Apparently, God had other plans, good plans.

God's sidewalk started moving for Connor this spring and it was moving fast.  Through out the past 5 or 6 years, we have noticed that one of Connor's passion has been for programming.  We have done the best we can to help him follow that passion through coaching First Lego League teams to catering his education to buying even his birthday and Christmas presents in mind of his interests.  Connor started learning programming through a program called, Scratch, through MIT.  Through the years, he has become a Curator, then a BETA tester and has become known to the creators of Scratch.  He met the creators of Scratch this spring in Denver and they gave him a challenge to find a way to use Scratch and SNAP! to control hardware, like the LEGO NXT, WII Remotes, Leap Motion, and others.  Connor managed to do that and was asked to speak at an International Scratch Convention in Barcelona, Spain.  He worked really hard to prepare 4 different talks to Computer Science Educators around the world.  He had some ups and some downs but more than anything he showed who he was and what he was capable of.  

Connor and I talked a lot this spring and summer about choosing to get on God's moving sidewalk.  We didn't choose the time frame but we firmly believe that God did.  Connor willingly choose to take the very brave step of following God's lead and then working very hard to do it well.  

More than anything else, I am so proud that Connor was willing to put himself on the line to do something extraordinary but scary.  To be willing to be open to failure but trusting that God would not let him fall.  To be willing to step on to God's moving sidewalk even though he didn't know where it would end.  

I can't wait to see what God has planned for my boy but in the mean time, I am going to ask him to work hard and achieve more than he thinks he can because who knows what God will ask of him next.

Click to see one of Connor's Projects
Click to see one of Connor's presentations.

 Connor at a famous church in Barcelona

Connor in a panel discussion on integrating software and hardware

Connor leading a workshop

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Starting the School Year in a Great Way

First Day of School Pictures From Days Past

The kids and I have been home for 5 days in the entire month of July.  Connor, between Bible Bowl tournaments and speaking in Barcelona has been home even less.  What this means is that I am desperately trying to play catch up with school plans.  However, there are some non-negotiables in my planning for a the start of a great school year.

1.  Start getting the kids on the school schedule several weeks before school starts.

2.  Put together chore charts and start them at the same time you start your schedule.

3.  Have some meals put in the freezer and have a list of easy crock pot meals.

4.  Start school slowly.  Add a subject or two a week until everything has been added in.

5.  Have a fun first day of school planned.  (Brooke, this is for you!)

I always have fun items for my kids on the first day of school.  For instance, I always give my kids their favorite candy bar and yes, they can eat the whole candy bar on that day.  (Which only happens on the first day of school)  I have some fun pens, pencils, notebooks and bookmarks for each child.  For younger kids this may mean items from the Disney store with their favorite Disney character.  We also have fun shirts for the first day.  In previous years, we have done tie - dye shirts for the first day but this year (shhhh!)  I have gotten them shirts from Think Geek.   I usually have a fun book for them that has nothing to do with school work.  Being that mine are older now, I got unique office items from Think Geek for them for the first day.  I also think if you have pre-schoolers they need to be included in this bounty.

Plan a fun breakfast.  My kids like me to make homemade pop tarts.  I use puff pastry or make whole wheat pie dough with a filling of cherries, apples or blueberries and put their initials on them.  I will also cook up REAL bacon or sausage.  (At my house, we generally only get turkey bacon or sausage) 

Dad goes into work a little later and prays over each child and Mommy.  

We take pictures and measurements and post them on our growth chart.

I have a picnic or fun lunch planned and then have a lighter school day.  Go to the park or the pool in the afternoon.

6.  Know that the first week will be hard but the second week will be harder.  Plan a date night for the first or second week of school.  

Review the article below.

10 Practical Things Every Homeschooler Should Know 


Monday, June 10, 2013

Wisdom and Foolishness

Summer is a terrific time to read Proverbs and work on character training.  I love that God gave us His Word to guide us in raising our kids.  Throughout the years reading and memorizing Proverbs have held us in good stead.  This is another old post but a good reminder for us all.

I have been reading Ted Tripp's new book, "Instructing a Child's Heart". My poor children, I read a book and then they have new training. It's a wonder they don't sit down and cry each time they see me with a new parenting book.
Anyway, Mr. Tripp was writing about the difference between wisdom and foolishness. He mentioned a verse in Proverbs which started me off on a hunt in Proverbs. I decided that I would read a different verse to the kids each morning to help remind them that they have a choice in how they respond to instruction - with wisdom or with foolishness. I challenged them to think about what they would rather be known by, their wisdom or their foolishness. I told them that I would use those words when I saw either behavior in them.
So far we have read,
Proverbs 1:77 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 9:7He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,
And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.
8)Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you.
9Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
We did have a brief talk about who they took instruction from and that we need to be wise in those decisions as well but that they have a choice in taking instruction to heart whether in school or in everyday life. Our children can choose to be fools or to be wise boys and girls - oh and that appropriate consequences follow each decision.
Oh and Caileigh does NOT like to be told that she is making foolish decisions so she made much better choices yesterday! I don't think the boys like it either but they weren't near as vocal about it.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chore Card Go-Fish

Summer is a great time to add and change chores.  If we train our kids in summer, the fall and school will go so much easier.

Every quarter or so, the kids request a change-up of their chores and so we play Chore Card Go-Fish. No, you won't find this anywhere else, ( atleast I don't think so) I made it up on the spur of the moment to avoid having to buy one of those spinny chore chart things. It's as fun as picking chores can get and it means that I don't have to assign chores - woohoo!

Anyhow, here's how it works:
1. I sit down (usually once a year) with my fly-lady control journal ( Go to for more info on that) and write out all the chores that need done on a daily basis and a weekly basis. I divide weekly basis chores into Thur and Fri chores to make cleaning day a little less tedious. ***Please Note*** I have spent time teaching my kids from the time that they were small how to do these chores. If I have a brand new chore on the list, I teach them how-to do it before I expect them to do it on their own. This is an important step in NOT exasperating your kids.***
2. I get index cards and write all the chores on them indicating whether they are Daily (D) Chores, Thursday (T) Chores or Friday (F) Chores. I try to have multiples of three so they divide easily. For instance we have 12 (D) chores so they each get 4 (D) chores and so on.
3. I have the kids come for the picking of the chores. It's an event because they are usually desperate to get rid of the chores they have.
4. I pick one child to start and they pick a chore from the (D) pile and then each child gets a turn to pick until all the (D) cards are gone. We then move to the (T) and (F) cards until all the chores are picked and each child has a stack.
5. Some rules:
B. They children may trade cards with like days. (D) can only be traded for (D), (T) for (T) and (F) for (F).
C. Once all trading is done, the list is final. There will be stiff penalties for whining or complaining, see rule A.
D. All chores are expected to be completed during the time frame allotted. We have a schedule that they helped put together. Chores not done will result in more stiff penalties.
6. I put together the chore list using Edu-Trac but you could make up your own. I print out the lists and put them on clipboards to be checked off daily.
7. In our family, we pay for chores. This is the way we chose to help our kids manage money. If you do not do your chore well, your pay will be docked. Your chores must still be done regardless, as all privileges will be revoked if they are not done to my standards. We have three jars for money, a tithe jar, a savings jar and a spending jar. You must tithe 10% and save 40%. At the end of the year, we will match your savings (of that year) for college or whatever you want after high school. This is our way of encouraging our children to plan for their future and our college savings account. Connor is about to break us. We might have to move to matching 50%.

8. I put the cards away until the next Chore Card Go-Fish.

Hope this helps!

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Boy is Amazing

Scratch Conference,2013

Check out the fourth line down under speakers. That's right, my 15 year old is speaking at a Computer Educator's Conference in Barcelona.
God is doing amazing things in this special young man's life and it is a joy to watch!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Brag Alert!

At the beginning of Connor's high school journey, I was encouraged to read , "How to be a High School Superstar", which basically encourages high school students to follow their passions.  The premise is that students who follow their passions are more likely to have direction in college and are more interesting to colleges.  We gave the book to Connor and then had him read "Do Hard Things" and "Start Here".  I took a hard look at Connor's schedule and re-worked my high school plan with an emphasis on math, science and computer programming while still maintaining a rigorous high school experience.  I took many of the extra English Literature and History programs that I planned off his plate.  Note that we still kept an Honors program level in all the subject but made time for him to follow his passion daily.

This has worked beautifully.  Actually, far too well for my piece of mind but I am so proud of his accomplishments.

Check out some of his latest projects.  You need to know that Connor's screen name is technoboy10.
You might also need to know that Scratch is a program from MIT which teaches kids basic programming.  SNAP! Is an extension of Scratch.  Connor is a curator for the Scratch site as well as a Beta tester.

SNAPExtension wiki

Blog mentioning Connor..


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Habit of Excellence

Homeschool Handbook

I have been thinking and praying over the idea in this article for over a year now.  I feel very passionate about the idea that we, as homeschoolers, should not only train our children in the way they should go, but to teach them with academic rigor.  I want my kids to be prepared to do whatever God has for them which means that I have to teach them with academic excellence.  Not to mention that, if I had my way, the next generation of Doctors, Professors, Politicians, Teachers, Moms, Dads and World Changers would be taught to have Godly character and to have academic excellence.

 I want them to be Godly and Educated and that has to start when they are young.  Honestly, it starts with Scott and I as their parents setting goals and then working side by side with our kids to achieve them.  It doesn't mean that I am a Tiger Mom ( most of the time) but it does mean that even when I don't feel like it or am crazy busy, their education is my first priority during the hours of 9 and 2. It means that every math problem they get wrong gets re-done, generally with me sitting next to them.  It means we edit and re-edit papers.  It means they have to read the assigned pages of a book whether it is their favorite genre or not.  It also means that we sit together and read and discuss the Bible.  It can also mean that we can learn and play at the same time.  Whatever we do, we want to make excellence a habit.  Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we do not but we are going to persevere until our successes outweigh our failures.

I will get off my soap box now and let you read the article.  Let me know what you think.  I love hearing from others.

Categories: parenting

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine Blessings

This year I found some great ideas for Valentines from the Pioneer Woman site.

We had a great time using our new camera to make the special effects and then printing them out and attaching them to candy to hand out to Bible Bowl.

We have given out all of Blessing Bags from last year so tomorrow we will also make new bags.  We found the bags to be a really great way to show that we care.  It has been wonderful to have something tangible to give to the homeless in our area.  

To find out how to put together your own Blessing Bags you can go to:

Joy's Hope


Saturday, February 09, 2013

Tea Party Manners and Little Mermaid

****We took the twins to The Melting Pot for dinner tonight to refresh some of their manners.  I noticed that their best manners were a little rusty, and as we had a gift card ( Thanks, sis!) we decided it was a perfect opportunity to do some re- training.  I was reminded of this post as we left. It is a great idea to teach manners BEFORE you need them at a family reunion or wedding or something like that.  They don't come naturally but if we train our kids ahead of time, we can all go into situations with a lot more confidence.***

Earlier in the spring, Scott (the wonderful man he is), bought tickets for all of us to see the "Little Mermaid" musical in a pre-Broadway engagement here in Denver. Last night we made a night of it and saw the delightful new musical and had dinner at a restaurant in downtown Denver. We dressed up and headed for a fun family evening. When we arrived at the restaurant, I mentioned to the kids that I expected "Tea Party Manners". At various times through out the year, I plan a "tea party" complete with tea, sandwiches and the ever important scones, boys too. These parties have a dual role, one to have fun and the second to teach manners. The boys learn how to seat a lady, Caileigh how to be seated, how to place a napkin on our laps, eat with the proper utensil, keep our elbows off the table and to sit up straight in our chairs. "Tea Party Manners" are the extra special manners we need on special occasions. Then when we go into a situation that requires those manners, I just tell them I expect tea party manners and they know what is required of them. It's so much easier to teach those manners before they are needed at a wedding, Thanksgiving or dining out before a show. They best thing is that they are confident and secure in what they know and go into those situations with ease.

Last night was no exception, they behaved like young gentlemen and lady (or a Princess according to Caileigh) and shined like the stars they are. Speaking as a very proud Mommy, several restaurant guests made a special point of coming over to remark how well mannered and beautiful our children were. The show was amazing and I loved watching the faces of my enthralled children as they watched the magic unfold on stage. It was a memory making evening for all. Oh, and the kids got 5 marbles each in their reward jars for exceptional behavior. Maybe you should have a tea party soon!