Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Homeschool Mother's Journal ~ August 31, 2016

I don't even know where to begin or what to say. I am finding myself in a big struggle, in a deep valley. I don't understand why I am struggling so badly because I know Who is King of kings. I know Who is in control.

I will learn from this and I will trust in Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, Redeemer and Lord. 

This is our 4th week of school (16 days), easing ourselves back into the school routine. We started with review in language arts and math, having added handwriting, spelling and history. Adelle keeps asking when we're going to start science. The plan is to begin that next week.

I've also signed the kids up for a bi-weekly co-op that begins on Tuesday. They will be in a class called World Travel for the first hour and then go to PE for the second hour, after a fifteen minute snack break in between.

Last year, I had a couple of extra children in our homeschool routine. I am very glad to report that Mr. K5 went on to first grade in public school and is doing very well. The Tiny Tot I had off and on last year is in head start and also doing well. I was also co-leading our small homeschool group last year, but am not this year. Most of that is because of the extracurricular activities Sugar Bear and Little Man are involved in this year.

Adelle is in Grace Notes Girl Choir again this year (formally known as Cantabile Girls Choir) as well as American Heritage Girls, in which she has moved up to the Explorers level. Both of those are on Monday evenings. Choir is every Monday and AHG is every other Monday, right after choir. Adelle is still taking piano lessons but with a new teacher. She is adjusting well and seems to be more motivated to practice.

Jonathan has dropped piano (via Mama's doing), but he still plays around on it. He has joined Mississippi Boychoir though, which meets on Tuesday evenings for rehearsal. He was so excited after his first practice that he ran to me, giving me a big hug and saying "Yes! Yes! Yes!" I believe this will be a goof fit. This is an opportunity for him to grow, not only in music, but also in character. He will learn how to be respectful, responsible and how to work with others outside of the dynamics of our home.

Um, I don't see where the concern of homeschool kids being "unsocialized" comes from.  *SHRUG*

What's working is having a lesson plan set. I guess I knew this before, but this is the first year I've had to make my own lesson plans. I don't think I have quite enough hands-on activities, but I have the basics. As long as I have that, I can wing activities... I think. Having at least a plan always works for us. 

What's not working is not having get-the-chores-done plan. Over the summer I tried to have a chore/work chart check list thing and it just didn't work out. Right now I don't have anything and I'm having to assess the cleaning situation every day and just verbally give instructions. I really do think that having a plan in place and a visual for the kids will help us to keep the house running smoothly without getting so far behind. I am still trying to figure this part out, even in our 5th year of homeschooling. (Maybe I need to train myself??)

I would like for the kids to memorize the books of the Bible so they can turn to the passages more quickly, especially while listening to sermons. So far they know Genesis to Esther.

We have also set the goal to read through the 4 gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) this school year. I have a cute little check list of how much to read each day. We'll read the short passage in our morning devotion time and have a little discussion about it.  We finished up Matthew chapter 5 yesterday and will begin chapter 6 tomorrow.

Ok. I just recently logged back onto FB... not sure that was a smart thing to do, but my sister posted this there for my brother and myself. I busted out laughing... and I laugh every single time I see it.

I don't know much about the movie these little minion guys are from, but they always make me laugh!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Our 2016-17 Curriculum

Our 2016-17 school year is on it's way and I thought I'd share what curriculum we are using this year.

I did lots of research and praying before choosing what curriculum to use this school year and we are going in a different direction this time 'round. I did not purchase a box set as I have done in all our previous years of homeschooling. I selected different books for each subject from various curriculum companies, hopefully choosing what will best fit for us.

I'm so glad I am past the decision making and ordering part. Whew!

I need to mention that I lean towards the Charlotte Mason method of teaching. I am not capable to implement her concept entirely, but her theory greatly influences my teaching approach.

So here is what we're going to use for the 2016-2017 school year:

  • A Sure Foundation - from Christian Liberty Press. The preface in the book explains perfectly why I choose this particular program: The primary goal of A Sure Foundation, is to enable young students to obtain a solid understanding of and appreciation for the essential teachings of the Holy Scriptures. For this reason, the entire focus of the study material contained in this book is centered upon the teachings of the Bible, rather than the opinions of men. Young people within the Christian community, more than ever before, need to be equipped with the whole armor of God's Word so they can stand firm in the faith.   Each unit in this Bible study text contains multiple readings directly from the Word of God that speak to the topic or theme that is being presented. The topic for each unit is driven by a series of questions that are taken largely from the Catechism for Young Children [originally written by Joseph P. Engels in 1840]. Yes, I need help in this area of teaching. I am learning myself to trust the Lord and know what His Word says for myself. I am going to be learning too! I am glad there are tools available out there that will help me to teach my children God's Word. 
  • Hymn Study - We're going to learn a few hymns one by one. We'll take several weeks to read the words, sing the song and learn the background of the song. I don't have a particular book on this. I saw the idea on the Simply Charlotte Mason website and just learn on our own via internet or other resources. Our goal is to learn 5 hymns this school year. 
Language Arts
  • Language Lessons for Today 2nd grade & 4th grade. Sugar Bear is in the end of the 3rd grade book since she didn't finish it last year. We stopped using it to try out Switched on Schoolhouse last January. 
  • A Reason for Spelling Level B and C. We have concentrated on handwriting for Little Man the last couple of years, so this is the first year he will begin a spelling program. After researching and getting to actually look at the product now that I have it, I believe ARF approach will be fun for both children.
  • A Reason for Handwriting Level B. I have taught both children to write in cursive from the very beginning. They have both found ways on their own to begin writing in manuscript and insist on doing so. Jonathan also has a difficult time writing in cursive. With those reasons, we are finishing up the cursive handwriting books from last year and then I'll begin to show them how to write in manuscript correctly using this book.  
  • Copywork for Little Boys and Copywork for Little Girls. Copy work is for learning grammar. This is not a penmanship program. Children will learn the mechanics of the English language without having to worry about whether they have formed every letter to exact perfection. This sounds very simple and maybe even too lax, but I have seen the Charlotte Mason method in action and I believe this will work. I may to give you a little peek at the letter to parents in the front of these books to give you the full idea in another post. 
  • Reading - I am just using some books we already have on hand. I think I got almost all these books from other homeschool moms in times past. Adelle will read through A Beka Book's 3rd grade readers, just to make sure she is reading fluently and A Beka tends to be a little bit ahead of the grade. Jonathan will read through Horizons 2nd grade readers. Depending on how far he gets, he'll start on the A Beka Book 2nd grade readers, which are more advanced. While we are using a different language program this year, I will still use A Beka's Handbook for Reading to help him further his reading skills, especially while finishing up the 1st grade Handwriting w/Phonics book.  
  • Read Alouds - We're reading through the Millers Series books (I'm only short 1 book in this series). Each chapter is a separate story, so instead of reading through one book at a time, I'm reading one chapter from one book one day, then I'll read a chapter from another book the next day and so on.... When we finish with those, I'm going to start reading to them from the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series. We don't have this entire series, but we have enough to get us started. I'm only having difficulty choosing which one to begin with! 
  • Math-U-See Alpha/Beta - We started Alpha last year and didn't quite make it through, so we'll review, pick up where we left off then move on to Beta. Both of them are working this together. Adelle had such a difficult time with math in 2nd grade that I thought putting her back with Jonathan would be good for her. This has been a good fit.
  • Easy Peasy - I'm going to supplement a little with Easy Peasy, reviewing some info they already know in Math 1 and move on to Math 2 a little later on.  I believe MUS will hit on everything the children need to know, eventually. Because, you know, I do worry that they're not learning everything they're supposed to be....  and they do have fun with the learning games on EP.  :-)
  • A Reason for Science Level C- I liked what I saw with ARF Handwriting so I wasn't surprised by what ARF Science had to offer. Cathy Duff Reviews explains ARFS best. "This is an "inquiry" based program that engages children in the learning process through activities and experiments, followed by questions, discussion and written activity. It stresses conceptual understanding rather than memorization of science information. For example, one objective of a lesson in the third grade book is to explore the movement of blood in the human body. Students begin by learning how to take their pulse at rest and after exercise. After the activity, the teacher leads a discussion about the heart and blood movement. Students answer questions in their worktext that require an understanding of the discussion and activity results."
  • Our Nation Under God - This is from Christian Liberty Press. I was able to see a sample of this book. I was immediately impressed that the first chapter begins with God. Chapter 1 introduces students to the concept of God's governance over all of creation, and the means He has established to govern society. In Chapter 2, students are introduced to the concept of the Providence of God and is titled God Made the Nations. We'll move into American history after that. While reviewing other history programs, I just kept coming back to this one, which might be my most difficult subject to teach, but it's so important. I'm going to have to rely heavily on the Lord to help me with it.
  • Geography - The kids had a little bit of geography last year as they were learning American history, looking to find the different countries and states that we mentioned throughout the year.  I wanted to have a more focus on geography, so again we'll rely on Easy Peasy to help us out with that. I have a gigantic world map and U.S. map that was given to me. I have yet to get them mounted and up, but we are going to get some good use out of them. 

So there we have it. 

No matter what books and curriculum we are using each school year, I want to always remember that character comes before curriculum. So, if we have "heart issues" that need to be worked on any given day, we will most certainly make that the priority. The goal here is to raise lovers of the Lord, not just good academic minds. 

After I decided on what curriculum we were going to use this year, I looked to purchase the teacher's manuals from other homeschool moms. I didn't have any luck there, so I compare prices and purchased curriculum from Amazon, Christian Book Distributor and Rainbow Resource Distributor. I saved a few hundred dollars. It was a lot of work, but well worth the money that was saved. 

Just a little F.Y.I....
I came across this little blog that gives a list of FREE homeschool curriculum and resources.

I can most certainly afford free!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thankful Thursday ~ Thankful that He Keeps Me

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2

I am thankful that the Lord's mercies are new every morning. He is faithful. Even in my unfaithfulness to Him, He has kept me. I am so thankful that He hasn't handed me over to my own evil desires. My heart has not been hardened. My love has not turned wax cold. 

I'm not talking about some secret sin that has been lurking in the shadows of my heart.


I'm speaking of the everyday struggles; the vices of the world that are constantly grabbing at us, trying to entice us, trying to divert our attention and focus away from Christ. 

It's the extra 10 minutes daily spent on anything else other than the Lord. 

Seriously. ANYTHING at all; 

that last bit of dishes to wash; the google search for whatever project is at hand; the next chapter of a good book; the snooze button on the alarm clock; checking email or FB just one more time; last minute lesson preparations for the next day, etc....

I'm talking about being quick to anger; having a bad attitude first thing in the morning; being  impatient with the children; pointing out others sin before looking at my own; thinking of only self, etc....

When did sleep become my obsession? When did having that bowl of ice cream become my addiction? When did yelling become my manner of parenting? 

It's those small hinderances that so easily entangles us.



I am thankful that I still hear and feel the Holy Spirit's conviction. There is no hiding from God Almighty. He knows and sees all, even the deepest secrets of man's heart. But His help is near. He is faithful. He is merciful. 

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.   ~Hebrews 7:23-24

The Lord is keeping me and it's not because of any merit on my part. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, no the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~Ephesians 2:8-10

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


by Jeff Capps, Daniel Clay, Randy Fuller and Isaac Wimberly

My sins are before me, transgressions so great
Against You, and You only, have I turned away

I've worshipped creation, I've chosen my pride
From You and You only have I tried to hide

Lord I confess my need
Your mercy washes me

My heart is uncovered, my soul is laid bare
To You and You only will I lift my head

Lord I confess my need
Your mercy washes me

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies will never end
He is my God, my portion forever
I find my hope in Him

Great is Thy faithfulness

Let the bones You have broken rejoice
In the silence I lift up my voice

Great is Thy faithfulness

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Happenings 2016 Part 3: Summer Reading Program

Our summer isn't complete without participating in the library's summer reading program. The kids sign up to read books over the summer. It's a contest. The person who reads the most books in their age group gets a medal or trophy and everyone who participates gets a little goody bag just for reading over the summer.

Of course, the library makes reading super fun, so they invite different local businesses to visit the library, reading to the children and teaching them about their profession.

1. Zoomobile and OrganWise
The summer reading program this year began with a visit from the Zoomobile. 
We also learned about our organs and how to take care of them from the OrganWise Guy puppet and a coordinating story. 

2. Children's Museum
Children's Museum came and taught us a few fun games to play. That was a blast!
I took more video than pictures so we could play the games at home. I didn't get a very good pic of Jonathan either, but he did very well playing the games. 

3. Fruit Sushi
We had a day of learning about eating healthy and how to make fruit sushi. 

4. Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers
Trying to take pictures with my cheap cell phone is not easy, especially when people are moving, so I didn't get very many good pics and certainly not any from the day the Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers came to give us a little bit of history. 
This presentation was pretty interesting, but it was geared more towards the older children, but they did bring artifacts and modern gear to show us, so that helped to keep the children's attention.

We're going to have to do a unit study on the Natchez Trace or something b/c it's just packed with history, stories and adventure.

5. Celebrate Reading!
Of course, the end of the reading program went out with a bang, complete with prizes, food and treats. I am sad to report I could not salvage any pictures from this event.


Adelle did get first place for reading the most books in her age group, for which she received a medal. Jonathan got 2nd place in his age group, but he didn't get any special gift for it.

We have fun and learn lots of things from the library's summer reading program.

We love our librarians too!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

First Day of School!

We officially began the 2016-17 school year today! 

My babies are getting so big! I cannot believe that my Sugar Bear is in 4th grade and my Little Man is in 2nd grade.

*Wipe away a tear*

Moving on....

I started a few First-Day-of-School traditions our second year of homeschooling. I so did not come up with these ideas on my own, but the kids don't know that and while my children aren't exactly thrilled about starting formal school lessons again, they look forward to our special first day.

1. Breakfast

We begin the day with a special breakfast. I usually put some money back so we can go out to eat, which is something we rarely do for the first meal of the day. The only place in our little town that isn't fast food is Waffle House and I don't care to drive 20 minutes away on a school morning. :-)  

2. Pictures

Our first day of school is also picture day. We not only record what grade the kids are in now, but we also take "school pictures".

They are such hams.  :-D

3. Goody Bags

I go out and purchase little school related gifts. In times past, I have included school supplies such as markers, scissors and folders. This year I already had all that set up on my new shelf. So I got other little things:

  • An activity book - a boredom buster
  • Some stickers - I don't think they'll ever outgrow stickers
  • a 300-pc puzzle - for a challenge this year
  • A journal - to encourage them to begin writing down their thoughts

This year, I got them a BIG back-to-school gift. They both received their very own Bible. They will use their Bible at home during Bible reading time, Bible study time. They will carry them to service on Sundays and Wednesdays as well. (Bible covers might be a necessary Thanksgiving gift this year.)

Saying that may sound a little strange. Let me explain: We have purchased children's Bible (story and picture) for them to use only at home. We did not allow them to take them to the church house. We have been training them to be attentive and listen to the messages being taught in services. They are now at the age they can look up the passages on their own so I decided it was time to get them real Bibles, if you will. 

I also got them little tabs to put on the pages of their Bibles to help them find passages a little quicker. We will be working on memorizing the books of the Bible this school year. 

4. New School Books
After we come back home from breakfast and take pictures, I let Sugar Bear and Little Man take a peek at the books they will be learning from this school year. They liked a few books and not-so-much on other books. Jonathan kinda complained about everything this morning as he is not excited about having to buckle down to work again. I don't think it's not that we don't have fun with our school, he just likes to be completely free to do whatever he wants, and that isn't limited to school work. 

So after we completed all our First Day Traditions, we had a Hymn study, a Bible study and reviewed some math facts.

I'm looking forward to this school year. I pray that all of us will grow in God's truth, peace and love. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

An Evening Prayer (from Singing School)

I enjoyed singing school so much that it's really just difficult to put into words what I learned there and how the time spent there impacted me. 

I did chuckle when I saw the cover of the church house's hymnal book. 

Am I the only one who finds amusement in that title? "Old school"  

I dunno. Just something a little funny about that. 

But on to some seriousness. 

Each evening Adelle and I went back to the evening sessions, of course, in time for dinner.  :-)  I must point out they did a superb job with the meals, having enough food as well as helpers. At least if they did have problems, us visitors couldn't tell. 

Those evening times were special and just really added to the lessons we were learning during the day. One thing that was fascinating to me was the fact that the congregation sang the same song in closing every time. 

The song is called An Evening Prayer. 

I cried, almost wept, through the song the very first time I heard it and sang along with the others in the group. Though more tears were shed, I fought them the other 3 nights we sang this song. I mean, it's literally offering up a prayer of repentance, in song, to the Lord, collectively, as a unit. It was just amazing. Again, words of description completely escape me. 
Here are the lyrics:

      If I have wounded any soul today
      If I have caused one foot to go astray
      If I have walked in my own willful way
      Dear Lord, forgive!

      If I have uttered idle words in vain
      If I have turned aside from want or pain
      Lest I myself shall suffer through the strain
      Dear Lord, forgive!

      If I have been perverse or hard or cold
      If I have longed for shelter in Thy fold
      When Thou hast given me some fort to hold
      Dear Lord, forgive!

      Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee
      Forgive the secret sins I do not see
      O guide me, love me and my Keeper be
      In Jesus Name


I could only find one decent audio recording of this song and it's sung by a single lady, but it's still beautiful. 

I tear up every time. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Summer Happenings 2016 Part 2: Singing School!

About this time last year, we learned about singing school, or "music camp", that a local church provides, for free, for 4 days and evenings, with lunch and dinner included. What a blessing! The only problem was.... it takes place in June, so we were too late last time, but I kept my eyes peeled for the dates when summer rolled around this year. 

The church that provides this ministry is a Primitive Baptist Church, so they don't sing with any instruments at all. 



We learned how to sing songs by using something called shape notes

Ever heard of it? 

Me neither. 

The best way I can explain it is this: each shape represents the notes in a scale, no matter what key you're in.  

I'm a visual learner, so maybe this picture here will help. 

The first set of notes is in the key of C. Do (pronounced doh) begins on C  and the rest of the notes follow up the scale. The second set is in the key of G. Do begins on G and the rest of the notes follow up that scale. 

It's a pretty simple way to learn songs... kinda. Learn these note names, how to jump between them and music is a breeze... at least you don't have to know all the rest of music to learn to sing a song... kinda. 

This example was taped up on the wall in the room
where my kids were learning this music. 

Here is one song we learned. It is an original from the incredibly talented man who was teaching the teen/adult class. It was so beautiful. We recorded it, along with the other 2 we learned. 

We spent Monday-Thursday morning learning music using this method and Thursday evening, we just enjoyed ourselves picking songs from the hymnal and singing together. What a super blessed time this was. 

Have you ever heard acapella singing in a congregation setting? It's so beautiful! I was moved to tears on more than one occasion.... of course, some of that had to do with the words we were singing. Powerful words + beautiful voices singing together = quite an emotional experience. 

I don't know what else to say except Adelle and I wore ourselves out going back to the evening sessions, early enough for dinner and there is a very good chance that we'll do it again next year.

If you're interested in learning more about this, I found this very interesting article about the history of shape note singing.