Open house–us in a nutshell

I haven’t updated on our family in a while, and since we are starting a new school year soon (and since it’s open house time at The Homeschool Lounge) I thought I’d bring you up to speed on my brood.

I should start by saying in this open house post that we homeschool because we feel we are called to do it. That is not the case for everyone, but it is for us. And we plan to continue through high school. We do not have a room dedicated to school, so learning happens all over the house (and outside). All of life is school, so we are always learning something. We use the Biblical Principle Approach method and if you are so inclined you can see a link to my philosophy of education in the sidebar.

We school year-round pretty much. We use notebooks. We watch TV. We eat too much fast food and not enough veggies. Sometimes we sleep too late and sometimes we argue. We are not dresses-only. We have no problem with home educators who do things differently than we do.

We also love God with all our hearts. we love to read His word and do good deeds (in secret). We leave each other love notes in our mailboxes and love a good movie together. Music is important to us and you can almost always hear some around here. Prayer is a vital part of our everyday lives as well.

Now on to the kiddos: 

Princess G is going into 6th grade. She has grown a lot internally and has been able to take on more responsibility. We are proud of her. Her interest is science, particularly the human body. She loves to work on the computer and visit with friends. She plays the piano too.

Princess S is going into 3rd grade. She LOVES the performing arts. She’s a soft-spoken young lady who makes sure we are always entertained with her stories and songs. She plays piano and has won several awards.

Prince J is 5 and all boy. He loves cars and running super fast in his white lace ups. He recently learned to read, so he got his Golden Ticket on the literacy train. He will start kindergarten lessons. He’s going into his second year of piano lessons.

Prince M, at almost 17 months, is last but certainly not least. He’s learning new words to say every day and he’s a lover, not a fighter. Since he could hold one he’s loved books–hardback books–preferring them over most other toys. God only knows what’s in store for this terrific little guy.

Since I’ll be adding one more to our school day (more formally) I’m looking forward to the challenges and rewards another child brings to the mix. They hall have such unique perspectives and talents that getting them all together is never ever boring. We are also incorporating some ideas from Sue Patrick’s Workbox system. I think it’s going to bring a new vitality to our days that we’ve been lacking. I can go on about all the resources we will be using this year, but perhaps in another post, as this is a pretty big nutshell already.

If I should be so fortunate as to win something from the open house, my first choice would be a one year family subscription to Big Universe and my second choice would be cool shirts from the Homeschool boutique. The rest are great too and I’d love to win anything!

Welcome 2009

I’m back to blogging here again. I’ve missed posting and interacting with those who stumble upon my little blog, so thanks for understanding my absence.

Don’t you just love a new year? Like new fallen snow, the year lays before us, sparkling and unsullied. I have a ton of calendars that will turn over to reveal a fresh month (including the art-a-day calendar, courtesy Renae).  I try not to make resolutions but that’s hard to do. Planning and goal-making are some of my favorite pastimes—along with not following through.Sometimes I think I’m earning my PhD in that.

I hope you will welcome this gift of a shiny new year with open arms. I mean really throw your arms around it, embrace it, smell the potential. God gives us the gift of time and I pray you will make the most of every morsel moment this year.  Enjoy!

Shalom and Hatikvah

Today is Israel’s 60th birthday. What a miracle this little country is! To celebrate this momentous occasion, there is lots of activity at the Jerusalem Post you can take part in, from sending Israel an E-card to viewing highlights of the last 60 years. You can also check out celebrations happening all around Israel.

 Our city has a sister city in Israel: Tiberias. This isn’t really public knowledge I guess but I was glad to learn about it at last year’s A Night to Honor Israel. If there is one planned anywhere in your area, consider going. It is a wonderful night to show solidarity with the American Jewish community and Israel as well.

Please take time today to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. For more info on how to get involved with Israel, visit CUFI or ICEJ.

Happy New Year to you

Happy New Year to all my dear friends. I pray this will be your best year yet, filled with hope, joy and a big dose of patience.

This year you will find some changes here on my blog and at PrincipledMom, so stay tuned! There are revamping of things already there and some exciting new things as well. And if there is something you think we should be doing, please let me know. The point of PMom is to help.

May God richly bless you and your family in 2008.

Finishing strong

As we approach the close of another year of home education, I thought I’d share some ideas to prevent “fade out”–you know, when your school year sort of fizzles out until you one day you just don’t have school anymore. Kids love big finishes, so here are some ways to go out with a bang.

Say a  prayer. This is first on my list because to me it’s the most important. You always need direction from God, especially when you feel dry or tired.

Shake things up. vary your routine and/or your setting. Grab your stuff and head to the park. Or the backyard. Or the museum. Have school in the evening on the trampoline or Sunday afternoon cuddled up in bed together. Who says we home educators can’t take our act on the road?

Take stock. This time of year is a natural time to re-evaluate things. Do you really have to finish that book? Are you behind on something? Review and see what’s really important to finish and what can be left behind, what can continue on and what can be finished. Set new goals just for the end of the year to make your last few weeks your most productive.

Find your passion. If you are feeling a little burned out, try studying something your kids are really excited about. It doesn’t have to be a major unit study, but adding something your kids love to learn about will make the other things a little more palatable.

Be a show off. Hold an open house for friends and family. Let the kids give a presentation on something they learned this year. Fix a few simple snacks. Display notebooks and artwork and let the kids shine.

Take five. Find a way to work in a few days of rest and relaxation. A little time in the sunshine and fresh air (even in your own backyard), then you will all be ready to make that final push.

We have a winner! Some families may like to offer some kind of reward for finishing strong. The rewards can be monetary, material or even privileges. The ideas here are endless, so just let your mind wander.

Jesse tree

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”  

Isaiah 11:1

The Jesse Tree

We are starting one new tradition each Christmas at our house. We love advent calendars and we love devotionals for the month of December, so I discovered a way to do both of these in a fun and meaningful way.Those of you in mainline denominations may know about the Jesse tree. I did not. At least not until I happened across one on one of my cyber-trips.

It traces the lineage of Jesus each day leading up to Christmas, through the likes of Abraham, Rahab, King David and Mary. You recount the amazing stories of the people, recognizing God’s Providence and marveling at His intricate ways. The Jesse Tree is a theme that goes back to the middle ages, and maybe before. There were many tapestries and altar pieces in churches devoted to Jesus’ lineage.

The way we celebrate this today is to make a tree. We make ornaments that fit the story of the day and place them on the tree. This year at our house we will use the ficus tree in the dining room. Next year I plan to have a great little tree for the table–or maybe the wall. We will make ornaments over the next year that will be more permanent. This year they will be more “kid crafty” and we will work on them as we discuss the story each day.

Some links to learn more:

If your family celebrates this tradition, I hope you will leave a note and a link to a picture of your tree.

The best gift idea ever

I came across an idea years ago that I plan to do with my children–or rather, for them. This works for grandchildren, grown children and even nieces and nephews too. I was chatting with fellow HS mom Stephanie about it and thought I’d share it here with you.

Take your favorite version of the Bible (for me, it’s the KJV) without study notes. Choose one with wide margins, sturdy leather covers and nice size print.  This will be an heirloom, so make sure it will wear well.

Spend a year for each child’s Bible. As you do your daily Bible reading, personalize the Bible for that child. Write notes, underline passages, and jot down ideas you have for them. As you read and pray with them in mind, the Holy Spirit will quicken you to certain passages and relate them to your child. In your prayer time, God will reveal their bent, challenges and strengths. Write these in the margins. (You can also do this over many years. As the Lord leads, add to each Bible over time.) You can take note of memories or things to come, prayers you have and character qualities you want to instill in them. And be sure to date it!

Over the course of the year you will fill it with memories, prayers and notes as you make it personal to the child. For example, I would highlight scriptures for Princess G concerning healing and making all things new (relating to the eczema she deals with). I would make notes in the passage about preaching the Gospel to the whole world to Princess S because she loves to talk to everyone about God. For Prince J I would make sure I highlighted the passages about David being a man after God’s own heart and that that is my prayer for him. You can also add events, like protection scriptures remind you of a time that they were rescued or protected. Or success scriptures remind you of an accomplishment.

I plan to do this when they are older and give it to them as a graduation gift. My heart’s desire is that they would treasure it and read through it to see what I prayed and believed God for concerning them. And I hope we can look back at it together over the years and see God’s faithfulness, remembering the One who wrote all our days down before a single one came to be.

First day excitement–or the lack thereof (and cool math revelations!!)

We started back to school today. We go year-round and will finish up next July. My Princess S was terribly excited about the whole thing. Today we covered Bible, literature, math and English. We discussed scriptures and reasoned why we should study these subjects. Then we created cover pages for each subject. After a while of this Princess S (who is 5.5) was bored and wanted to do math. It reminded me of K with Princess G and she was bored too so I didn’t get upset because I now understand that learning is not always about being entertained.

In math today we were discussing that mathematics is God’s language. While we have been discussing that for a while now, I saw it in a new way. When we read Job 26:7 it clicked for me. Math is the language of God because everything is held together by math, and God spoke all things into being, so math is His language. WOW! He holds the Earth in space by math (His Word). That is amazing. Princess G thought it was “cool.” This is going to be a great year!

Oh, and I have to say that I’m already glad I decided to challenge Princess S because she is such a fast learner and catches onto things so quickly. We both would have been frustrated without more structure and substance to her lessons.