Wednesday, January 27, 2016

State of the School (Part I)

We're a bit past the half way point in our school year, so I thought it would be a good time to look at what we're using.  Evaluating what we love, and what we're putting up with.

We are using several curriculum choices that we have tried in the past, that are still fitting well.

First, for math, Gabriella is still using Singapore Math.  She's doing well and moving quickly through it--I like that it is pretty rigorous as math programs go.  I picked up used copies of Life of Fred: Kidneys, Liver, and Minecraft.  On Friday's she takes a break from Singapore and does a lesson in those.

I also got Life of Fred (Fractions and Decimals) for Kate this year.  That has been a bit more challenging.  Life of Fred encourages students to learn on their own.  I love that it is story style, but as the book cautions, it is easy for a student to read too quickly and miss the math lesson inside.  I've spent many days reviewing lessons to help her be able to cross the bridges (tests) between the sections.  We're making it through, but I'm not sure that it is as good of a fit as I had hoped, so we may look for a change next year.  Kate says that she finds Life of Fred is more enjoyable, but it won't let her go on until she gets it (She sees that as a negative at this point.).  She also said that she understands Singapore better.

Both girls are also using Khan Academy and Xtra Math (free computer based math programs).

Nate is using the The Complete Book of Math: Grades 1-2.  Both girls have used the same book, and it has been a good solid math introduction for all of them.  It covers everything from number values to money and geometric shapes to graphing.  He says he liked graphing with candy, money, and cutting out shapes.

The girls are using Sequential Spelling.  It works.  It isn't exciting, but it's spelling.  It has suited Kate better than Spelling Power did, though I did like that program.  We might try it with Gabby at some point, but for now Sequential Spelling works.  Both girls agree that they don't like spelling, and there isn't anything that can make it better.

Probably my favorite curriculum choice is Visual Latin.  I can't say enough good about this.  We purchased the DVDs, but you can also subscribe, so if you want to try it for awhile and not have to buy it, you can do that too.  We are going sort of slowly.  The first few weeks we kept a lesson per week (they have several parts and a test), as they were largely review of things we'd learned in Song School Latin (I & II).  Now we're taking about two weeks per lesson.  The girls are correcting their own assignments, as we go over the answers, so they see each lesson twice.  The teacher (Dwayne Thomas) is funny and he works hard to make Latin relevant.  We plan to take three years to go through the two year program this way.  At that point, we will discuss if they want to continue in Latin or try a different language.  Gabby rates this class as 'Acceptable' and Kate gives it 'Troll' (if you're up on you Harry Potter OWL scores).  They are definitely learning though--they both got A's on their latest test.

I'll write about some of our other choices another time.

* I don't gain anything from the reviews--no affiliates, etc. *


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Raising Grateful Kids

I mentioned that had the opportunity to review a couple of books, well the second one releases today!

To aid in my review, I received a digital copy of the Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, and I was gifted a gratitude bracelet for my agreement to help launch the book, but I was not compensated in any other way, and the opinions are, of course, my own.  The links are NOT affiliate links.

Raising kids is never easy, but when you want to go against the flow, it can be even more challenging.  We've never done things exactly like 'everyone else.'  We expect our children to obey, so that they can learn to respect authority in our heavenly father.  We home school, for a multitude of reasons, but that makes them different from most of their peers.  We have more than two children.  We don't own a gaming system, the kids don't have unlimited internet access, we are careful about what and how much TV they watch.  And so on.

This book, shows us that we are not alone in going against the flow.  Kristen, who is a bit further down the path of parenting than we are, also offers us the opportunity to glimpse what is to come.  Her family's lives were turned on their side with a trip to Africa, that clarified the extravagance of the life we all enjoy here.

Kristin and her husband work to thoughtfully and intentionally parent their three children.  She is clear that she doesn't have all the answers, that every family is different, and the she isn't finished parenting yet, but she offers both anecdotal examples from her own family and spiritual truths.  There are also practical, recommended activities for each chapter, divided in to age appropriate categories.

The book hits on topics from teaching kids the value of hard work, money, and sacrifice to how to engage in the use of technology.  In the appendix you will find useful items, such as a cell phone contract, a parenting manifesto, and a discussion guide.

I hope that you are able to use this book as you raise up your children!

*graphics courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers

Friday, January 22, 2016


We have had a disrupted week.  Last Thursday I was sick.  Ellie had a fever that had been coming and going for a week, so Justin ran her to our nurse practitioner's office, for a diagnosis of RSV.  Friday evening, Nate was ill.  Saturday afternoon, Kate caught the bug.  Sunday we kept house bound to prevent spreading our germs.  Monday, Justin was home for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Tuesday morning Gabby finally came down with the bug.  Five sick people, two sick days and a holiday.

When our local school system was closed on Wednesday and again on Thursday we trucked right on through, though taking a morning recess to allow for some snow play on Wednesday.  Thursday only brought mud, so no outside play then.

This morning my children came down with wide eyes.  What had been rain through the night and when I came down to start my day had turned to snow.  Lots of it (well, for around here anyway).  With wide eyes, they asked, "Can we have a snow day?


So snow men, snow balls, waffles, and hot cocoa.

And, while the illnesses were unpleasant, they had the benefit of freeing me up more for potty training.  Miss Ellie has been out of diapers for three days except for bed time.  She learned pretty quickly, with my time free to remind her.

Another odd blessing in disguise, I put the little potty in the living room so we could get to it quickly and easily.  Yesterday, I went to empty it and thought she'd missed it a little bit because the seat was wet.  I was bending down to clean it up when, drip, drip, splat.  I look up to find there is a leak from on high (again).


This time it was our shower pipes.  I'm not a fan of the plumber who worked on this house or the maker of the supplies that keep failing!

Justin was able to run home between his classes and fix our pipes.  I am thankful for a husband and a Daddy that both can and will fix these things!  And I'm glad it was yesterday instead of today, with the lovely snow that makes our neighborhood hard to navigate.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


If you're here from the Raising Grateful Kids blog hop, welcome!


Sometimes it is easy to be grateful, but sometimes it can be so hard.  This is especially true in our children, who have seen less, who have less life experience.

Back before Christmas we were able to join a group to make blessings bags for the homeless in our community.  Everyone brought some things to put in--chap stick, tissues, baby wipes, socks, bottled water, and the like.   The girls also made arm knitted scarves, and we had one of those to give to a person we found.  There are a few corners that we know to look for people regularly, and we were able to brighten a few days by passing out the bags we'd made.  And our kids saw real needs and real people.

The kids also see the catalogs that come from Samaritan's Purse and Compassion International each Christmas, and want to send goats, pigs, and clean water around the world.  Those are good things, but they don't have enough money themselves for these gifts.  They are great about dropping coins into the little boxes to support children's hospital, the offering basket, and anywhere else they see a need, but these animals are more than the money they have on hand.  But isn't part of being grateful, being able to see all that you have, and being willing to give something to someone else from your abundance?

This year I offered a way for them to help pay for those gifts they want to send.  We don't go out to expensive restaurants or take lavish vacations, but we had made a habit of stopping for McDonald's, not full meals, but a small burger for each of them, a fry to share, and a coffee for me.  I told them that each week that we gave that up, we'd put the savings back, about seven dollars.  At the end of they year, we'll take those savings and buy chickens, goats, part of a well, or whatever they choose.

Then I was reading through my advance copy of Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World (by Kristin Welch), and her family switched out Monday night dinners for rice and beans.  My kids don't like rice and beans at all, so rather than once a week, we decided we would do this ever two or three weeks.  I'll also add in the money for the meat we might have purchased for dinner that night to our savings.

They are small little sacrifices that they can make.  That they understand.  They can make a difference.  And I'm sure there will be excitement as they choose what to send next fall.  I wonder what they will choose.  I'm pretty sure these will be some of our favorite Christmas presents next year!

Are there any projects your kids have been in on lately?

Here is my full book review.

Inspiring an Attitude of Gratitude - by Alison Rasisng Grateful Kids - by amanda Why You Can't Buy Gratitude At The Dollar Store - by Andrea Missing - Gratefulness in our home - by Ange Choosing Gratitude - by Angela Gratefullness - by chaley 5 Steps to Gratitude-Fille Family - by Christa Practicing Grateful Parenting - by Dana Sing a Song - by Hannah Cultivating gratitude in our family - by Jamie Gratefulness In Our Home - by Jana Gratefulness In Our Home - by Jana Let It Begin With Me - by Jen Choosing Gratefulness - by Jennifer Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World - The Book - by jeri Eradicating Entitlement - What are you rooted in? - by Jessica Gratefulness in our home - by Kate The Problem With Entitlement is that it begins with us - by Katelyn 7 Unusual Ways I Know How to Be Grateful - by Kathryn Raising Grateful Kids - by Keri How My Children Remind Me to Pray with Gratitude - by Kishona Grateful - by Kristy Entitlement: The Ugly Truth of a Beautiful Lie - by Leigha The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Raise Grateful Kids - by Lindsey Dear Son: How Do I Teach You To Be Grateful Without Guilt? - by Marie Osborne Gratitude, A Practical Definition - by Mia Cultivating Gratitude in Our Home - by Nancy Learning Gratitude through Chronic Illness - by Rachel Being Grateful - by Rebecca I've Found Something I Can't Live Without - by Sarah The Power of Naming our Gifts - by Sarah Outfitted - by Sarah Jo Growing Gratitude in our Family - by Sondra Teaching Gratefulness - by Stephanie How Grateful Looks From Here - by Alison Fighting Entitlement in Children and All of us - by Leah Entitlement Problem - by Karrie Grateful Today - by Krystal

Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday Funny

Nate: I will have 7 kids.  They will be named Mitch, Michael, Tic Toc, Harry Potter, Quaffel, Bludger, and Snitch.  And they will all lay in the back of my monster truck*.

* Which was an improvement over the trunk, where he originally thought they should ride.