What are we really doing here…

I recently listened to a two part podcast by Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing titled “What Are We Really Doing Here”  while I enjoyed the podcast it has got me asking, “What am I really doing here?”

As I enter into my 6th year of homeschooling I find myself thinking more about where we are going and the journey versus what we are going to accomplish this year.  A few weeks ago I set August 15th, 2016 as our school start date. At the time it seemed like just another date on the calendar but this morning when my alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. I realized that date carried more weight than I originally intended for it to, this morning it felt heavy.  As I willed myself out of bed earlier than I normally do I knew today was different.

Today I was reminded that I am working towards building a cathedral. By getting out of bed today and getting myself ready to greet my kiddos on our first day of school I invested in something eternal and holy.  6 years ago, if you would of told me I would be a cathedral builder or that  homeschooling is a holy and sacred work I probably would of shrugged my shoulders and nodded my head in agreement… but I wouldn’t of truly understood. But today, when I think about those things I am aware that something sacred is happening around my kitchen table and for that I stand in awe of God who called me to this work and the souls He has entrusted to me.

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As I watch these souls grow and mature I am learning to see what is truly important. While learning to read, sharing wonderful stories, exploring God’s creation and engaging in meaningful conversation are good and necessary they are not the most important thing.  A few weeks ago while reading Timothy Keller’s Songs of Jesus I was struck by this verse in the NIV,

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name, Psalm 86:11

This verse encapsulates what is important. As we started our school year we made this our prayer, that we would learn the way of the Lord, that we would rely on His faithfulness, that our hearts would not be divided but wholly focused on God and His glory and that we would learn what it means to fear His name.  It is to this end that I endeavor to build cathedrals while serving and worshipping the Lord.

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Focus & Align: Rule of 6

I found myself at the beginning of the year sinking. Sinking into the trap of not doing anything well because I was trying to do everything. I knew some things needed to get cut but I couldn’t decide what! I needed a lifeline. Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival helped pull me out of the pit with her Focus and Align class that is apart of the Read Aloud Revival Membership.  This Master’s Class was all about focusing in on what you want to accomplish in your school days and creating a filter to run things through when something has to go or be added.  My filter is a little more philosophical and less practical but it helped me to see what I truly wanted out of our home education experience. One thing I came to realize is that we needed to spend more time together cultivating relationships versus more time cracking open the books.  Since I am preparing for the next school year this rule of six is helping me navigate what fills our days, our minds, and our souls. My prayer is that this is how we are defined as a family.

This is what we do because it is who we are, we are

pursuers of truth by learning to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We are wonder chasers by learning and doing things that point us to God. We are beauty seekers by rightly ordering our affections so that we can see the beauty of the Lord. We cultivate goodness by setting aside sin and running toward Jesus. We are servants by learning to love our neighbor as our self and we love unconditionally by remembering that we love because Jesus first loved us. 

To see others thoughts from the masters class search the hashtag #RARruleof6 on Instagram and Facebook!

If you are considering how to go deep instead of wide in your curriculum choices I would recommend watching Christopher Perrin’s Youtube video on Multum non Multa which is Latin for Much not Many.

 

Homeschool Week 9 Wrap Up

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Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 104:24

Week 9 marked our 6 week break from CC and while I knew I didn’t want to take it completely off I wanted to use it differently than our “regular” weeks.  Primarily I wanted it to be lighter and spent exploring outside.  I just finished listening to a biography about George Washington Carver titled George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist. The story of this mans life moved me to tears on more than one occasion. He *FOUGHT* to overcome so many odds to become educated but yet remained so incredibly humbled.  Two reasons I believe he remained so humble was because of his faith in God and his constant contact with his creation. After listening to the biography I am more convinced than ever that we need to spend more time outdoors and learning about God’s creation. That being said, that is what we did.
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We visited Prairie State Park with friends one day. You can read a full post about that here. 

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We visited our local park and enjoyed exploring close to home. I was truly amazed at the diversity we encountered as we slowed down long enough to really look at things.

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We also took some time to explore our very own back yard! We have a garden spider who is hanging out with her egg cases outside our window. We have watched her eat a few bugs and are lamenting the reality that in a few weeks she will die with the first frost. However we are hopeful that her babies will survive and hatch in the spring. I noticed another garden spider on the play set as I was mowing this week. Also a walking stick but it disappeared by the time I made it back with my camera. The squirrels this time of year are really serious about their nut scavenging. Ulysses, the squirrel in the tree, was NOT happy I was taking his picture. If your not familiar with Ulysses the squirrel you should check out  Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. (We listened to the audiobook from our library, great listen!) We have also had a nest in the ground. I am leaning towards a yellow jacket nest but not completely sure. I am in the process of eradicating the stinging insects but I do find the whole “nest in the ground” thing completely fascinating.

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We wrapped up the week painting. I am no artist, though I wish I were. However I enjoy creating memories (and getting better about relishing the messes) with my kiddos. I enjoyed a slower week and am thankful I got to spend it with blessings!

Linking up with Homegrown Learners Collage Friday. 

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Homeschool Week 7 & 8 Wrap Up

Here is week 7 & 8 in review (bullet point style).

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  • The past two weeks have been filled with music, good books and volleyball.
  • I am so thankful Grammy is passing on her love for the piano.

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  • I am loving our loop scheduling this year and we are enjoying our nature notebooks.
  • Mr. J is showing some reading readiness so we are slowly wading into our Primary Arts of Language Reading curriculum from IEW.

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  • Fall is in the air and we went apple picking! Apple picking leads to apple eating…

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  • //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsWe have been wanting to put a fire pit in for a few years. With the help of some friends we were successful. I love having a place to sit and chat (and eat smores!!) and enjoy one another outside.

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  • We enjoyed the blood moon by the fire with a good book.

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  • Mr J was in heaven when the fire department showed up at library story time!

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  • We visited Pioneer Days at George Washington Carver National Monument for a field trip.  This is our third trip to Pioneer Days but our first trip where we really knew something about George Carver.  We have been listening to George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist. Despite numerous setbacks Carver sought and education and wanted to do great things in his life. I have been brought to tears numerous times while listening to this book. I can’t do him justice in a bullet point, George W. Carver is worthy of his own post. 🙂
  • At Pioneer Days the park sets up stations, old fashion games, story telling, laundry washing, candle sipping, open fire cooking, and exploring the awesome museum. My crew had a great time!

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  • All that apple picking yielded a few jars of pink applesauce, apple butter, cinnamon applesauce. YUM! I had a pretty great helper too!

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  • I am trying to build some free time into our days. While sissy was using her free time to sew I found my little guy on the deck chilling out in the sun!
  • We concluded the weekend with a fire in the fire pit, hot dogs, smores and a little reading of The Green Ember by the fire.

The past two weeks have my mama heart overflowing . They have been full of good things with my good gifts from God.

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Homeschool Week 6 Wrap Up

Week 6 recap, bullet point style:

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  • The week started with both Miss K and myself feeling under the weather. Not a great way to kick off Monday.
  • We had a great week 4 at our local Classical Conversations Community day. You can see Mr. J showing off his Usborne Big Book of Machines during presentation.
  • Miss E likes to hang out with my in the afternoon during Essentials while my younger two are playing with friends.
  • Mr. J started soccer this week. In typical boy fashion he loved playing goalie and getting hit with the ball.
  • We created an egg crate review game this week to review our CC work. I am enjoying having two children in CC and working with them together at home. It has been fun to see both kids review one another and both know the same things.
  • Miss K and I started working through our study of Colossians. I talked a little bit about what we are doing in my post about the book Women of the Word.

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  • After spending a few days stuck inside we took a nature walk in a wooded area behind our house. We enjoyed looking at the trees, climbing a few and bringing back a few specimens to do some leaf rubbings and learning a little about local trees.
    • I am wanting to make nature study a more regular activity in our homeschool. Do you take nature walks? How do you implement nature walks in your homeschool?

It is hard to believe we are about to start week 7 of our school year. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn alongside my kiddos and to be the person who gets to point them to Jesus as we learn how to love God and one another.

Thankful for the opportunity to link up with Collage Friday @ Homegrown Learners & Weekly Wrap Up @ Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers. If you are stopping by from the link up, please say hello!

Homeschool Week 4 & 5 Wrap Up

Whoa!! Where did the past two weeks go? It is really hard to believe that we are about to start week 6 tomorrow! Weeks 4 & 5 have been really great with a few super fun things mixed in!

Sweet Miss E has decided that walking is the only way to go! She daily dazzles us with her sweet smile and fun-loving disposition. It has been a few weeks since I took her out for a few updated pictures.

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//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsWe have been plugging away at week 2 and 3 of Classical Conversations. Mr. J is loving CC and is really enjoying school at home. I am really surprised at how engaged and eager he is to learn.

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Working in our science notebooks:science

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsDigging into our history and learning about early forms of writing: cuniform//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

We finished up reading the Greek Myths and Mr. J loved it! We have also spent some time playing No Stress Chess and cuddled up reading books.

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Last weekend Miss K and I attended the Glow Conference held at a local church here in SWMO. Here is a little about the conference from the Facebook page,

featuring special guests, including nationally-known artists, musicians, and writers, Jason Gray, Andrew Peterson, S.D. Smith, and Randall Goodgame, ‘Glow’ is a special, one-day event for Middle Grade students (8 to 13-year olds) and their parents. It will include hands-on workshops where kids can pursue a wide range of interests from art to dance, athletics, fishing, music, and more. As students begin to discover who they are and where they excel, we want to show them what their gifts, passions, and abilities might look like submitted to Christ.   Why Middle Grade students?   8 to 13-year olds begin to wrestle with questions of identity, purpose, and place. They wonder, “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where do I belong?” At Glow, we want to come alongside them, to embody the answer to these questions, speaking and acting in such a way that kids know they are loved and valued, the work of their hands has significance, and they are not alone.  

We had a great time!  My husband and I have been listening to Andrew Peterson’s music for over a decade and I just finished his books a few months ago. We like to say his music is the sound track to our life. Our family owns (and can sing!!) every Slug’s Bug’s and Lullabies Album and anxiously await the next release. SD Smith is no stranger to me as I have listened to many podcasts he has done and I have spent a little time clicking around on The Story Warren Website. Jason Gray, who is the most mainstream, is probably the person I am the least familiar with out of the guests at the conference. What I loved about the conference was the ability for my daughter to see these “famous” men to stand before her and give God all the glory. Sitting next to my daughter listening to these men speak brought tears to my eyes, they spoke with such humility that even my 8 year old picked up on how “different” they were. At lunch I asked her what she thought of meeting “famous” people. Her reply marked me, “I was really surprised, they were different than I expected…. but different in a good way!” We took away a lot of great things from the conference but I was left in awe of the grace of God and reminded that HE opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

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This weekend  Miss K had her first volleyball game. She has been working hard for weeks with multiple practices and all her hard work paid off. With sports our expectations for our children are to pay attention, hustle, have fun, and play for the glory of God. She had a great time and I think we could safely make her middle name hustle! 🙂   

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I have been attempting to read The Green Ember to my children since I downloaded the Kindle version months ago. We made it about 100 pages in and my kids lost interest. Recently I purchased the Audible version for a road trip… we made it to about the same spot we stopped reading previously. I figure third time is a charm (I am DYING to know how the story ends) and I picked up the physical copy of The Green Ember and the prequel The Black Star of Kingston while we are at the Glow Conference. Something about holding a paper copy in my hands has revolutionized The Green Ember for my kids. It doesn’t hurt that daddy is really enjoying listening along at night time too.

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Homeschool Week 3 Wrap Up

We have had a great week. I really feel like we are slowly but surely getting into a groove. This was our first official week of Classical Conversations. Both kids had a fantastic day and have worked hard at home on their memory work!

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Early in the week Miss K finished up her sewing project for a lady in our church with a new baby. I know she is really excited to give this to her on Sunday.

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The Geography memory work this week has been about the Fertile Crescent. We pulled out the Usborne Book of Ancient History and read about the area and customs. This led to a discussion about using ancient tools to “grind wheat” which led to a feeble attempt to give it a try at home. 🙂//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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We also dug into the classification of living things and the Oils art lesson at home this week.

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One desire I have for my children is to do more nature study and spend time observing life outside of our four walls. We went on a walk around town today and enjoyed being in creation.

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One of my favorite times of the day has become our read aloud time. We have had some cool mornings this week and we found ourselves reading on the deck while playing with Legos. We recently finished reading a missionary biography of Mary Slessor. My daughter felt greatly encouraged hearing the story of a fiery headed lady from Scotland taking the message of Jesus Christ into the West African region of Calabar. Learning about the deep need in West Africa has reminded us to pray for friends serving as Bible translators in the area. I have finally found a book that Mr. J is loving, Little Pear. The main character is a 5 year old boy who is a little bit ornery, go figure why my guy is enjoying it! 🙂

Week 3 Highlights//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsI am thankful for the opportunity to link up with Collage Friday and Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers link up because it slows me down long enough to reflect up our week and to see God’s grace then the little moments. Interested in linking up, check it out at Homegrown Learners – Collage Friday 1.2 //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsand Weekly Wrap – Up.

Homeschool Week 2 Wrap Up

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Highlights from week 2:

  • We spent Sunday afternoon at a local state park with friends. We went hiking and splashing in the ice cold water. My little guy learned a very valuable skill, crawdad hunting! 🙂 We enjoyed the time with friends and enjoying God’s creation!
  • The week rolled along covering all the usual subjects. Our read aloud has been about Mary Slessor. That book has caused us to pull out the atlas to find Calabar and to pray for to pray for the country of Nigeria.
  • Miss K had her first week of volleyball practice. To say she is enjoying it would be putting it mildly! I think she has found her “thing.” Time will tell, I am enjoying watching her stretch herself and see the various ways she is growing.
  • My favorite time of day is our bible & read aloud time! It is the first thing we do most often. Our Bible time consists of scripture memory, catechism questions and we just started The Gospel Story Bible. Our current read aloud is Mary Slessor. We usually read a selection or two of poetry during this time too.
  • This year I have been intentional about choosing independent readers for for Miss K. So far she has enjoyed most of the books and is really getting in a reading groove!
  • Miss E is as cute as ever and walking more and more every day.
  • The week ended with a quick trip “home” to visit my folks and take some pictures of a friends sweet new baby. This trip home afforded my son another valuable lesson, frog hunting! We collected a bucketful of frogs only to be released after watching them jump and listening to them croak.

 

Homeschool Week 1 Wrap Up

After a few weeks of my big girl asking to start school we “officially” kicked off school on August 10th. This year sitting across the table I have a third grader and a preschooler staring back at me! backtoschool1

I like to ease into the school year slowly. We generally start with our Bible time which includes the Foundations Fighter verses for scripture memory, catechism questions from A Catechism for Girls and Boys, and currently we are finishing Big Truths for Little Kids and will start The Gospel Story Bible soon. august2015_0046w

Following Bible time is our read aloud time that include poetry and literature. We call this time “morning time” for lack of a better name. The concept of
Morning Time has been such an added blessing to our days. I first came across the concept from the Amongst Lovely Things blog. She recommended listening to Cindy Rollins talk that is on the Circe website titled, The Long Haul: On Morning Time. After listening to that lecture and reading more about morning time I decided it is a must!

Fall is around the corner and you can feel it in the air. This has allowed us to do morning time outside on the deck on a blanket with legos spread near and far.

Our first read aloud was The Hundred Dresses. Such a beautiful book! I have a vivid memory of the poster for that book hanging in my 4th grade classroom but I don’t recall ever reading it. We also enjoyed Homer Price together. Reading Homer Price caused my son to ask for a pet skunk because he has “heard that skunks make a good pet” and of course we feasted on donuts as we enjoyed the last chapter of the book. However, no diamond bracelets were found in our donuts.  We have enjoyed various poetry selections during Morning time. august2015_0042-2w

After we finish up morning time my daughter moves into her independent (meaning not with me and brother) work that includes reading, violin and math (I am handy for math, she isn’t completely independent yet). For her independent readers I used the Sonlight catalog for suggestions and ideas. Week 1 she read Clara and the Bookwagon and Pompeii… Buried Alive. volcano

While she is doing her independent work I work with brother one on one. Currently we are just working on letter identification, basic pen control and preschool math skills. He will also work on the CC memory work once CC begins. I am loving our Usborne books for preschool this year. That’s a whole other post coming soon!usbornewe

As we eased into week one we reviewed All About Spelling Level 2 and Math U See Beta from last year. We jumped into (and are LOVING) First Language Lessons Level 3, IEW All Things Fun and Fascinating, and Song School Latin 2. 

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We also did a mini  history lesson on the state of Missouri since Monday August 10th was the 194th birthday of Missouri. We proudly hung a Missouri state flag that was flown at the capital building in Jefferson city.

Week one is in the books and it was a fantastic start to the school year!