Thursday, August 30, 2007

Field Trip Day!

We shut the school books today and took ourselves a nice little field trip!

We met up with another Five in a Row family today at Cumberland Falls. It was a great day for this as it was a bit overcast so the temperature was quite a bit lower than it has been around here for several weeks. After walking around the Falls a bit and snapping a couple pictures, we headed here to eat a picnic lunch! Isn't it a beautiful place to have lunch? (And no, that's not us in the picture...LOL). All the kids got along great and us moms even got to chat for a little while. How often does that happen when you have 9 kiddo's between the two of you?! Here's a few pictures from our day...

Here's my gang.

And here's all the kiddo's together.

I snapped this picture because we all wondered how in the world someone got this chair way out in the middle of the water like this... and WHY!

And these beautiful little fellas graced us with their precense during our lunch.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This Morning's Lunar Eclipse

This morning at 6:00 I woke three of my four sleeping children, something I'm usually TOTALLY opposed to (LOL), and we headed outside to watch the lunar eclipse. They were excited and jumped right up. Why don't they do that on regular school days? Anyway, we headed outside, sans shoes (we're country folk around here ya' know... actually we were too out of it to think to put shoes on) and watched as the red moon slowly faded from our sight.

While we waited for it to reappear, we tried to pet the neighborhood cat, since he and all the neighborhood dogs and roosters couldn't figure out why in the world these four crazy people were outside in the middle of the road in the dark in their jammies with no shoes on, but our crazy dog wouldn't let us. Every time the cat would get close to us Skip would jump right in between him and our hands. Crazy, jealous dog.

After about another 20 minutes and no moon we determined that either it was too cloudy to see it reappear or it was smarter than us and had gone back to bed! So we came back in and per the lovely little children's request, we began our school day! BEFORE 7 a.m.! It is now 10 a.m. and the teacher is glad that school is nearly done for the day, for she is feeling a wee bit sleepy and needs to take a nap. Heck! I even made PANCAKES for breakfast, BEFORE 7:30 a.m.!!! Sheesh!

But one thing I did want to mention before I nod off is that while we were standing outside watching the eclipse this morning, three school buses went down the main road (we're on a dead-end street) and it wasn't even 7 a.m. yet! How sad for those children on the bus that they didn't have the opportunity to observe one of God's amazing celestial phenomenoms because they had to go to school so they could READ about such things from a textbook.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Whoever Says Happiness Ins't Contagious Hasn't Watched This

Boy did I need to watch this today.

It's been a bit of a frustrating day today and when I saw this on Dawn's blog, I actually got tears in my eyes from laughing. I've watched it several times and I laugh until I cry every time.

Maybe we should all try smiling and laughing a little more. Seems like a see a lot of people who look like they could use a little happiness in their days.

By the way, did you see Dawn's latest auction on ebay?

Monday, August 20, 2007

This Relationship Is OVER!

Dear Food,

I'm breaking up with you.

Don't be surprised. I've certainly tried to do it many times before, but I always weakened and went back to you.

I finally woke up and realized this relationship is not good for me. I'm not getting what I need from you. It's hurting me, not allowing me the space to grow in the ways I need to grow. You're holding me back.

I know I'll have separation anxiety, but I've stayed with you too long, way past when I should have. This just isn't working for me. You don't listen to me. You don't give me attention. You don't care about what I'm going through. It's almost like you don't have any feelings for me at all, yet I've stuck close to you, helpless and dependent.

I know you won't let go of me so easily. I know you'll keep calling me, asking me to come back. But please, let me go now.

In the beginning, you were always there, ready to calm me and soothe me, but it went too far. I came to rely on you. I looked to you for everything. In all fairness, it was too much to ask of you. No way could you fulfill all my needs. For so long I've settled, afraid to go out there and find something better for myself. I need to do that.

I now withdraw my heart from you so I can be free to put it elsewhere, some place where I can be loved back. I've tried to break up with you before. This time it's real. I want to be on the cutting edge of my own life, and I can't do it while I'm still tied to you. Thinking about being free scares me, but I want it. I must have it. I think I'm brave enough at last.

I know I'll long for you. I know I'll think of you a lot, especially during those hard times. I know I'll be tempted to come back to you. But this time I've got a plan, things I'm prepared to do when I get lonely and sad. I've been thinking of other ways to celebrate when I'm happy or proud. I have remedies in place for being bored or tired.

At this point, you're a troublemaker in my life and I intend to keep my emotional distance from you. So in a way, this is goodbye. Of course, I'll still come into contact with you day to day, but let's just be friends, not lovers.

Don't cry (although you never do, it's me who does all the crying).

-Obtained from Kimkins

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Hidden Treasure!

The kids and I found a hidden treasure today!

One of the local high schools here in town has their own theater where they show newer movies each Saturday and Sunday for the community to enjoy. The best part about it is that if you have a library card from our local library, you get in FREE! Even adults!

Popcorn and drinks are available for $1 and $2, just our price! And the theater is very, very nice. New comfy seats, nice cool air conditioning, a HUGE screen, and the best part, next to the price, is the low number of other people in the theater!

This afternoon the kids and I went to see Nancy Drew and it cost us a whopping $4.00 ($2 for a large popcorn and $2 for drinks!). There were only about 10 other people in the entire theater with us and it was TOP NOTCH!

We are so excited we found this treasure! I don't know how it is where you live, but we've only taken our children to the movies a few times simply because it costs us about $50 for all of us to get in and get snacks! But now, with this new option, I see us going a LOT more. In fact, we're already making plans to go see Pirates of the Caribbean-At World's End next weekend!

Math Emergency!

Ok, this is what I get for letting myself get so behind on all my friend's blog posts. I just now saw this on Tricia's blog, dated August 14th. This is HALARIOUS! (You'll want to scroll down and stop the music that's playing first.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

High School Musical 2

Baby Girl had a High School Musical 2 party and sleepover last night and it was a big success! Here are a few pictures from it...

After a bit of swimming, the girls came in and joined in the countdown to HSM2. Notice Handsome in the left side of the picture with his hands over his ears...LOL! This was the first time he and Reece Cup had been at home while Baby Girl had her girlfriends over. They were quite surprised at just how loud pre-teen girls can be!

Once the much-anticipated movie of the century started, there was no other place to sit other than RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE TV!!

Of course, there was lots of dancing!

And lots of cake (along with other goodies!)

Here are some of the goodies each girl went home with...

At the end of the movie where the long-awaited kiss FINALLY came, oh my! You have never heard such squealing and clapping! I'm sure our neighbors across the street heard it!

Overall, the party was a huge success. Baby Girl had a good time and the movie was a hit. I'll try to give my thoughts on the movie soon.

Stacked-Up Blessings

Even though there are days when I could konk their little noggins together, it's times like this that bring pure joy to my heart. I didn't even have to make them pose for this picture. They were just playing and this Kodak moment presented itself.

Simple Pleasures

Sometimes it really doesn't take much to make my kids happy. This was the day I bought straws for a science experiment. I only needed one for science, so the rest were up for grabs.

This is how I found our three little stooges. Oh the joys of being a kid and blowing bubbles in your drink! It's the simple things in life that seem to bring kids the most joy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Socialization: Homeschoolers Are in the Real World

"In the public school system, children are socialized horizontally, and temporarily, into conformity with their immediate peers. Home educators seek to socialize their children vertically, toward responsibility, service, and adulthood, with an eye on eternity."

-By Chris Klicka, Senior Counsel for the
Home School Legal Defense Association

Read the rest of this wonderful, fact-filled article (a.k.a. 'ammunition') here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Essence of Life Well-Lived

"Good healthy meals, sweet innocent pretend and play time, reading outloud for hours and hours, playing games together–celebrating and enjoying the seasons and moments of normal life, is the essence of life well-lived."

"Your goal in education is reaching their heart, filling their emotional cup, teaching them moral foundations, capturing their vision for life for the kingdom of God, teaching them what it looks like to walk through difficult times while holding tight to the hand of God. May God grant you understanding and faith to follow these paths and to raise up a strong generation for Him."

I just love these two quotes by Sally Clarkson over at Whole Heart Moms. Go check out the rest of this article here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What Memories Are Your Kids Storing Away?

We have just started reading the third book in The Chronicles of Narnia series and a few nights ago I sat in our big comfy chair instead of the couch to read our latest chapter like I had been.

Before I even began reading Baby Girl asked me to move over to the couch, next to the lamp where I usually sit while I read (simply because someone was usually already in the big comfy chair...LOL). I asked her why she wanted me to move and she said, "Cause that's where you always sit when you read to us and it just doesn't feel right when you sit somewhere else!"

I had no idea this was a something that was important to her or something she even noticed! *I* didn't even realize that I usually sat in the same place to read each night.

I have memories like that, things I remember just a certain way from when I was a kid. And those memories are so dear to me. How about you?

Kind of makes me wonder what other things my kids are going to remember when they're older... Hmmm, that can be a scary thought!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I Refuse To Freak Out!

Ok, tomorrow is supposed to be our first official day of our new school year and do you think I'm ready? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

You see, I'm a bit of a perfectionist in that I like to have everything just perfect and ready before I start anything. On top of that, I'm an all-or-nothing type of girl. If I can't exercise an hour each day and eat perfectly healthy from the word 'go', then I just don't do anything. If I can't deep clean and declutter a room while I'm cleaning it, then what's the point? I just don't clean it because it won't FEEL clean to me.

So tomorrow's our first day, and guess what? Our doctor decided that tomorrow is also the perfect day for Sweetie to be at the hospital at 8 a.m. for a stress test and an echocardiogram. Didn't he check MY schedule first? Doesn't he know that I can't just up and change my plans that easily? And why 8:00 in the morning? Couldn't he at least have the decency to wait unitl in the afternoon so we could get in a decent day of school first? Sigh...

Our school days go SO much better when the house is clean and organized. I can keep my mind on what I'm doing and not be thinking about all the things that need to get done. Oh, and having somewhat of an idea of what we'll be doing for school also really helps.

Is my house clean and organized? HA! Do I have any lesson plans wrote out? Double HA!

BUT! I'm trying my best to not freak out and have a panic attack. This is really hard for me, but, my plan is (after calmly talking to myself and slapping myself back to reality) to simply take the kids to the library tomorrow after Sweetie and I get home from the hospital. What a fun way to start out a new school year, right? (Except I don't have a clue as to what books *I* need to check out for this first couple weeks of school... gotta get a quick list together!). Then, the rest of the week we'll just do a bunch of fun stuff... lots of reading, Five in a Row, Science experiments (Reece Cup has asked me every day since we bought our new experiment book if we can do something in it!), maybe get started on a few math pages, and whatever else comes our way. When our 'lessons' are over each day, then I'll work frantically to get everything the way I need it so we can REALLY start fresh NEXT Monday, while already having an official week in. Besides, what do public schools really get done the first week back? And they get to count their days, so why can't we?

Why not wait and start next week you ask? Well, because that's the one thing I HAVE done. I already have our 175 days laid out in a perfectly planned school year and I can't go and mess that up!

P.S. Your prayers for Sweetie are greatly appreciated. He's been having chest pains and heart disease runs high on both sides of his family. I'll keep you updated.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Story Of The World Opinions Needed

I would love to hear any opinions on Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer if anyone has any.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Using Games for School

I've recently blogged that we play a lot of games here at our home and how I consider that 'school' because so much learning takes place while playing games. Not only do they learn the obvious things such as numbers, counting, states, time, ect., but just as importantly is that the kids are learning how to work together, patience while waiting their turn, dealing with losing (as well as being a humble winner), working out problems with others, and so much more.

Elaine asked me the other day about the games we play so I thought I'd blog about a few so everyone can get a glimpse at just what fun learning is out there! And just to let you know, our budget doesn't allow us to buy a whole lot of board games new. We have collected 99% of our games from yard sales and as gifts from Mamaw at Christmas! (When she asks what the kids want, sometimes I tell her what *I* want them to want! LOL!)

One of the very best games I have found is Presto Change-O. In this game players move around the board and either collect money for doing certain jobs and chores or they spend money at places like a museum or the movies. You can only keep a certain number of coins and bills in your hand at one time and when you receive more you have to exchange them for something else. For example, you can only have two dimes. If you wind up with three you have to 'change' them at the bank for a quarter and a nickle. Two nickles must be exchanged for a dime. Five pennies? Nope, you have to exchange them for a nickle. The same is true for the bills you have. When you receive money or pay money (depending on the spaces you land on) you may or may not have to 'make change' with the money you have. If you land somewhere that tells you to pay $1.50 and all you have is a $5 bill, then you have to give the $5 and count back the change you get.

This is the BEST math game I can recommend to any parent! How many times have you been at the store or a restaraunt where the cashier was a teenager who couldn't count back your change? What a sad sight. With years of playing this game I'm hoping counting money back will just be second nature to our kids.

Another game we play is Telling Time Bingo. I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. The 'caller' picks a tile and calls out the time on it (uses :00, :15, :30, and :45 times) and the players check to see if they have that time. If so, they cover it up. Even our youngest enjoys playing this one. What a wonderful way to teach time. It's a lot easier than when I tried to teach our oldest, which was BEFORE we had this game. She's even commented to me that she wishes we would have had this when she was younger. There's no reason to make learning hard when you can use games like this!

Another game we enjoy playing is the Scrambled States of America game. The kids love this book, so when we saw the game we just had to get it. I'm so glad we did because it's worth every penny. Here is the description from Amazon...

The whimsical, mad-dashing, geography game. Quick! Find a state that ends with the letter A. Now find one that borders Tennessee. Have fun learning about the United States in this madcap game of observation and quick reflexes. Collect cards by matching states to a Scramble card. Or "Go the Distance" and find a state's closest neighbor. Whoever scrambles to match and collect the most state cards wins. Playing time is about 20 minutes. For 2 to 4 players. Ages 8 and up. Contains: 50 State Cards, 50 Scramble Cards, 4 U.S. Maps, and rules of play.

Another game we recently picked up at a yard sale is Sequence. I had never heard of this game, but it is a lot of fun and we all love playing it, even dad. And! The very first time we played it our 5 year old won!

This is just a few of the many games we play. Here are some pictures of our game/movie closet. If you see any you'd like to know more about, just let me know!


Today is the final day of Back To Homeschooling Week and the subject is Curriculum. I like this one because I've already typed this one up! For once in my life I'm AHEAD of the game!

So, in case you missed my entry about what we're using for school this year, HERE it is!

Making Science Cool This Year!

I am SO excited about our new book Sweetie bought me today while we were at Joseph-Beth bookstore! We originally went in to window shop, but I warned Sweetie that I don't DO window shopping. In my opinion it's a waste of time and it only makes me have to repent! LOL!

Anyway, back to our new book. It's The Usborne Big Book of Experiments and I know the kids are going to have so much fun this year with Science using this. They LOVE doing experiments. Sweetie's even excited about it, which is a good thing because there are certain things I'd rather just play with than build, namely the Electricity and Magnets section. That sounds like a guy's area, doesn't it?

I think we'll take one topic a week and learn a little and then do the correlating experiment(s). There are 42 topics with experiments and they all use very common household products. The sections headings are...

-The World Around You

-Testing Your Body

-Electricity and Magnets

-The Natural World

-Light and Dark

-Pushing and Pulling

Watch for pictures and stories soon!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"If I Had Only Known..."

Today's Back To Homeschooling topic is 'If I Had Only Known'...What have you learned on your homeschooling journey? What would you/did you change? This is an opportunity to encourage others who are just starting out or who are struggling with issues that seem unsolvable. It is also a perfect opportunity to tell us about one of those days made you want to throw in the towel. A funny story? Perfect!

The number one most important thing I have learned on this journey called homeschooling is that our children are only little once, and for such a short amount of time. There is a difference between 'teaching' and 'training' our children. Yes, there are many things they have to be to add, read, spell, ect., but just as important is training their hearts, hence the name of my blog.

If we only tell our children "do this" and "don't do that" yet we fail to explain to them WHY they should or should not do things, then they never really understand how life works, why we treat others the way we do, why we don't do things that go against God's will. All they know is that mom and dad said "Don't". Without the 'why', their little hearts go untrained.

For example, if we just tell them, "Don't hit your little brother" then they may or may not do it again without any thought. But if we instead say, "Honey, we can't hit little Jimmy because it hurts him. How would YOU feel if someone hit you? It would hurt, wouldn't it? And you wouldn't like it very much either, huh? Well, that's how Jimmy feels too, so let's not hit him anymore, ok? 'Cause we don't want to hurt him. He's just a little guy and it's your job as his big brother to take care of him and protect him!"

Yes, it takes more time to respond to our children this way, but it is SO worth it. Training their hearts when they are little is what will make them into the adults they will some day be. It will determine how they treat other people and if their training has been done with firm Biblical standards, then it will also play a huge roal in their walk with the Lord for the rest of their lives.

I've learned that we don't have to replicate 'school' at 'home' and shove tons and tons of information at them. Life is not about filling a bucket. Buckets eventually, when filled with too much, simply can't hold everything and if filled too full won't be able to hold any more. And sometimes there's leaks in a bucket. That's not what we want for our children. Instead, we want to light a fire! We want to make learning fun and enjoyable when possible and instill a love of learning in our children. When you light a fire it starts out small until it is fed the proper ingredients (fuel and oxygen). It then grows and grows until it's big and hot and able to continue growing on it's own!

To light the fire of learning in our children we provide them with all kinds of opportunities to learn while also having fun, and sometimes... they even learn on their own! (Gasp!) We use lots of good, living books, puzzles, games, field trips, movies etc. We don't follow a strict boxed curriculum where we have to finish a certain amount of work in a certain amount of time. We follow their natural learning rate, meaning, when they 'get it' we move on to the next thing and not until then. We take nature walks and go to the park and the lake. We read out under the trees and take picnics. We play games and watch good movies and learn and laugh and grow and make memories and simply enjoy life.

Have I ever wanted to 'throw in the towel'? Honestly, no. Sure, there have been frustrating days when no matter what I do Baby Girl doesn't understand a new math concept or I can't get a book read because the boys are just too squirmy and loud. But in total and complete honesty, I KNOW that our children are so much better off here at home than in public school and I've never once considered sending them. Now, there have been days where I've THREATENED to do it, but I never really would.

I think keeping a fun and laid back approach with our schooling has helped keep me happy with homeschooling. If I had something telling me that we needed to do 'X' in 'X' amount of time I think I'd get overwhelmed and eventually behind, which would stress me out. After a while of that I can see myself wanting to just throw my hands up and quit.

Now, that's now saying anything bad about any particular curriculum. Everyone has to do what they feel is right for them and their family. I'm just telling you OUR experience and what works best for US.

My children are smart and learning lots of things and having fun doing it. Are they where their public schooled friends are? I have no idea, and I really don't care. How many of us LOVED learning and going to school TO LEARN NEW THINGS after say about 3rd grade? How much did we retain of what we learned? How much did we really LEARN and master while in school? How many familiy memories did we make during our school years? I want different for my children, and that's why I love having them here with me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Getting out there...

Today's topic is "Getting Out There" and we're to talk about "extra-curricular activities, community involvement, volunteering, sports teams, music lessons, making sure your kids have opportunities to be social, co-ops, etc., etc., etc..."

The one thing I hate the most, as I'm sure most all homeschoolers do, is being asked the blasted question about socialization. UGH! GIVE...ME...A...BREAK! All people have to do is say one thing to any of my children and they will be able to tell right away that our children have not been 'held hostage' with no social interaction. In fact, they'll probably be sorry they got them talking because they will have a hard time getting them to stop!

Fear not, well-meaning (or not) friends and family. Our kids are not lacking any social interaction. Here are just some of the outside activities our kids have been involved in over the years.

First and foremost, there are 15 grandchildren on Sweetie's side of the family and all of them (except the oldest) live right here in our town. All but the two oldest attend the same church and Sunday School! Their ages you ask? 11 (girl), 8 (girl), 8 (boy), 7 (boy), 7 (boy), 7 (boy), 6 (boy), 5 (girl), 5 (girl), 4 (girl), 4 (girl), 4 (girl), 2 (boy). Holidays, especially Christmas, at Papaw and Granny's is very fun... and VERY busy!

We are a church-going family, so naturally they have all been in Sunday School ever since they were wee little babies. They've also been part of (or still are involved in) Children's Church, youth choir, Bible School, singing at the nursing home, and Keepers At Home through our church.

A few years ago the boys played Wee Ball and Coach Pitch baseball. For the past two years they have played Upward Basketball while the girls did Upward Cheerleading. Baby Girl has also done gymnastics and hopes to do so again soon.

Just this past week the boys started football practice. This is a new adventure for all of us and we're very excited about it. Handsome will be playing Jr. Tackle and Reece Cup will be playing Flag Football. So far, they both LOVE it! I can already tell that I'm going to be one of those loud cheering football mommas! *blush* Both girls will also be cheering again. This is through the Optimist club and they're playing with mostly public schooled kids and doing great. Doesn't bother them one bit!

Just this past January Baby Girl auditioned for her first public play (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) at the local high school and was one of 30 (out of 90!) that got a part! She did great and made so many great friends. They were together 4 days a week for two hours at a time for three months and then everyday, all day long the week of the performances. She hopes to try out again for the next play when the time comes.

All of our children have been in our church's Christmas and Easter plays, which involve singing, acting, and reading Scripture and all love it and have done great. In fact, baby girl has had a leading role in our last two plays (and no, I'm not the director...LOL).

We were part of a homeschool co-op for a couple of weeks a few years ago, but because Princess was little and cried the entire two hours both weeks, we decided to wait until the next semester to re-join. Unfortunately the co-op had disbanded by then. We now get together with a group of homeschoolers to do different things throughout the year.

And that, in a nutshell, is what we do to make sure our kids are well-socialized. Phew!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"How do you homeschool?"

Today's Back to Homeschool Week question is "How Do You Homeschool?"

Well, that's a great question! I can't wait to read other's responses to that one.

We are what's considered 'Eclectic' homeschoolers. What does it mean to be eclectic? According to the World Book Dictionary, 'eclectic' means "selecting and using what seems best from various sources, systems or schools of thought."

We've never used a 'boxed' curriculum where all subjects come from one source. While one curriculum may be great for English, their Science may be as boring and dry as the Sahara (speaking from personal experience here). So years ago I wrote down all the subjects I felt we needed to be covering and then took them one by one and researched each until I found the one I felt 'fit' our children. As we add or try new things I do the same. Some things I thought were a 'fit' turned out not to be and we had to go searching again, but for the most part, I believe we have found just the right fit for each subject thus far.

I also consider 'other' things part of our schooling as well, whereas others may not see it that way. If we go to the park to feed ducks and play, that's family time together, we pick out the male and female ducks, we take the time to watch their webbed feet paddling under the water, we watch them preen their feathers, and whatever else may present itself. We play a lot of board and card games. There's LOTS of learning there! When our boys go with dad to the high school football camp Daddy helps with, they learn how to work hard and help others by getting water for the players, going after stray balls, etc. Going to sing at the nursing home with our church group? Pricesless learning. And I can't tell you how much they (we) have learned from different TV programs and movies (GASP!). Oh, and chores. Shoot, do I need to say any more?!

Our kids are also involved in sports... basketball, football, baseball, cheerleading, and gymnastics are the ones we've tried so far. Organized sports provide so many great learning opportunities.

And THAT'S how we homeschool. It's just a natural, normal part of our daily lives. We 'school' around 'life', we don't live and plan our lives around school. Life IS constant learning!

"What led to your decision to homeschool?"

Monday's question in the 'Back To Homeschooling Week' activity was "What led to your decision to homeschool?" Below is our story, and please be sure to take a few minutes and join us in the fun. I'd love to hear about YOUR story too!

I think it's wonderful that some parents know that they're going to homeschool from the time that their oldest child is still in diapers. I wish that would have been how it was for us. But, it wasn't.

I don't think I've ever shared our story of how we became homeschoolers with my cyber-girlfriends, so I guess nows the perfect time.

When our oldest was still only four, we knew the time was coming to decide where to send her to school. You see, we never even thought about homeschooling. We didn't even know anything about it. So I went down to the elementary school and got the papers to sign her up for pre-school. She went through the mandatory testing day and scored very highly in everything they had her do. I was so proud!

But each day, while driving to work, my husband passed a local Christian school and just felt led to send her there. So, that's what we did. It was by no means cheap, that's for sure! And we really couldn't afford it, but somehow we made it work. Baby girl started there for her K-4 year. (What is it with pushing our babies to start school so early anyway? Sheesh. If I had it to do all over again...)

Anyway, she really enjoyed herself and did well. Then came Kindergarten. We again sent her to the Christian school and I was home with a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and I was pregnant with our youngest daughter. Everything was fine... until the baby came in January.

The Christian school is a 15-minute drive from our home, so I was getting out twice a day with 4 children ages 5, 2, 1, and a nursing newborn, in the winter time, twice a day for a MINIMUM of 30-45 minutes each time. Now, YOU tell ME how hard that was?

At the same time, Baby Girl's teachers were telling us that she was "the smartest one in the class" and "she already knows everything we're teaching" and "she really should be in first grade". That got us to thinking.

We're dishing out about $200 a month that we really can't afford to send her somewhere where she's not learning anything? And I have to bundle everyone up and get out in the cold twice a day with all these little ones just to take her to these expensive babysitters?

I must back up a bit here for sake of the story. For a couple years before this, Sweetie and I would sit around the pool at his aunt's house during their yearly family reunion and talk with his cousin's wife who homeschooled their children. I really enjoyed talking with her, and she never pushed homeschooling. She would just mention it casually here and there during our conversations. We did notice, however, that their children were just the most polite children we had ever been around!

I also have a sister-in-law that had homeschooled her children for their Kindergarten year and she loved it. She had told me once that you would never regret doing Kindergarten because it was so much fun.

At the time, these conversations didn't really stick with me, but now they were all coming back to my mind as we contemplated what to do with Baby Girl. We KNEW getting out in the cold with the babies was growing old very quickly. We KNEW Baby Girl wasn't learning anything new. We KNEW that we sure could use that $200 a month somewhere else more beneficial. We also knew that it was the second semester of the school year and we really didn't want to change schools then. And we REALLY knew that we weren't ready to send her to public school.

So, where did that leave us? I did go to school to be a teacher, even though I didn't finish. I did have some experience with teaching little ones after all the years I had taught Sunday and Bible School. This WAS our own little girl we were talking about here, and no one loved her and wanted to see her excel more than us. And we DID pay for all those Abeka books she was using so they'd be coming home with her. Besides, Sweetie's cousin and my sister-in-law had talked so much about homeschooling... and it WAS already into the second semester. It'd only be for a few short months....

So, we prayed. I KNEW what I wanted to do, but I asked God to give Sweetie the answer (I didn't tell Sweetie this) so I would know that it was Him and not me making the decision.

And one day, all of a sudden, as he was walking out the door to go to work, he stopped and looked at me and said, "Well, are you ready to start teaching?" And that was that!

As much as I had loved everyone at the Christian school Baby Girl was at, I was shocked and just a bit hurt at their response to our decision. When I had menioned to her teacher and aide that it was hard on me getting out with the babies and that we were praying about homeschooling, I was told how crazy I was and how they would NEVER do that and how I wouldn't like it and that I'd lose my mind... yadda, yadda, yadda. Well, little did they know that they were only adding fuel to the fire! LOL! In February, we pulled her out and began this wonderful journey that has provided us with more precioius memories than we would have ever had if they were gone away from us every day.

And that's how we became homeschoolers. And 5 1/2 years later we love it even more than we did when we first started (now that we know what we're doing!).

Back To Homeschool Week

Our new school year starts next Monday, the 13th, and Randi over at I Have To Say had a wonderful idea to help all of us get back into the swing of things. I can see this being a lot of help to new homeschoolers, as well as very interesting to read for veterans as well.

I'm already a day behind (story of my life), so I'll answer the first two questions for the week today.

I love reading about other's homeschooling journey, so be sure to take a few minutes to join us!

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Start of a New School Year

Our new school year will begin Monday, August 13th. I love the beginning of a new school year. Everything feels so fresh and new and exciting!

This year we will be using the Time Travelers History Study Series by Homeschool in the Woods, who also make the History Through The Ages timeline figures, which we will also be using. I am SO EXCITED about diving into the Time Travelers series... it looks like SO much fun! What a great way to learn about early American history!

As a go-along with our Time Travelers studies and our American history timeline we will also be using TruthQuest History-American History for Young Students I and II and good, living book suggestions from All Through The Ages. I can't wait!!

As with every year that we've homeschooled (we're going on 6!), we'll be using Five in a Row as well as Beyond Five in a Row. We LOVE FIAR and can't imagine ever schooling without it! I'm so excited to visit some of our favorites again with our youngest while moving on to new ones with our oldest!

For math we have always used Math U See and will continue to do so. Again, love it, love it, love it.

For English we use Rod & Staff. We just started using this last year with Baby Girl and we really like it, so we'll be sticking with it.

We only have one more non-reader left, and with her I will be using the same thing I did with the others, Reading Made Easy. The name speaks for itself. It really is very easy to use and has turned out some great readers here.

Also for our youngest we will be using Handwriting Without Tears just like we have with all the others. And since the older three know how to write, I'm planning on just having them do some copywork to practice and fine-tune their writing skills. If anyone knows of some good copywork sites or books, please let me know.

And for science, well, I've never really found exactly what I feel 'fits' for our family, so for our three youngest I'm going to do what I should have done a LONG time ago and just go with the science that's in Five in a Row! There's so much there, and it's fun stuff too! My only concern is our oldest who has never really done a whole lot of science (my fault). I have somewhat of a plan I'd like to try to stick to just to make sure Baby Girl has a general knowledge of things before she hits high school in a few short years (GASP!). I'm using the 'God's Design' curriculum from Answers in Genesis as a sort of guideline. I'd like to take a bit from the curriculum while checking out books from the library that go along with the topic we're learning about and maybe find some fun experiments for some hands-on learning to go along with it too. For example, we'll start with God's Design for Heaven and Earth-Our Planet Earth, which covers origins and glaciers, rocks and minerals, mountains and movement, and water and erosion. Instead of following the curriculm exactly, I'd like to find a bunch of books about, say, glaciers and read all we can about them, do an experiment or two and then move on to rocks and minerals and do the same. Sounds fun and fairly easy, aye?

EDITING TO ADD: We'll also be using this book for some science fun this year!

The three oldest will be learning how to type using Typing Tutor 10, but that's more 'fun' for them than actualy learning, and we play lots of games that have 'hidden learning' in them, so we'll be doing that as well. Geography is learned through books and maps and whatever else may come up throughout the year.

And that's pretty much our year. I'd love to hear about your plans for the upcoming school year. If you've blogged about it, please leave me a comment so I can go check it out. That's how I've found so many wonderful things we have used in our homeschooling journey.