Friday, December 30, 2016

All Roads Have Rocks

By the time our children start school, we’ve already had to choose a side a dozen times.  For every choice my family makes I can find a camp ready to fight to the death that it is not only a good choice, but the only choice I can make if I love my child.  And I completely get it.  The surge you feel when you hear foolish arguments being made to justify an easy road.  Or the switch that flips inside when you are made to feel so very small for a choice you wrestled with and prayed over.  On any given day we all desperately want to be reassured that we’re doing a good job and making the right choices for our family.  It is in the heat of these encounters that all of us have made claims that logically just cannot be, but we’re so upset that the need to defend a position is too difficult to resist.  We start using words like always and never to villainize everyone who disagrees. 

I love homeschooling and if asked would probably suggest you choose it for your family.  I believe it facilitates so many good things in a child’s education and growth as a person.  There are some impressive success stories of homeschooled kids growing up to change the world.  However, if I or anyone else ever suggests that homeschooling is easy, fixes everything and eliminates all problems associated with the educating and raising of children, know that it is simply not true.  Public school by its very nature facilitates some great things for children – automatic structure, peer motivation, and great networking opportunities for college and careers.  Public school graduates students – myself included – all the time who enter adulthood with the skills they need to succeed and bring good to the world.  But again, if anyone tries to convince you that the public school has the ability to stamp out every struggle and can fill every child’s needs perfectly all the time, they are deceived as well.  Either vehicle we choose will hit rocks and holes in the road.   

Take any other opposing views and the scenario will be the same.  One side solves certain problems while creating others.  Being married has wonderful elements like companionship and security, but the struggles of living in harmony with another person are very real.  Yet, being single eliminates that struggle while creating the burden of isolation.  Moving out to the country gives you fresher air and better views, but you usually have to drive quite a bit to run errands.  There are always trade-offs and sacrifices.  The next time some heated debate lands in your lap, try to remember this:  Most of our choices are less about finding a clear path to our goal, but the path with the rocks we’re most comfortable working around.  While a lot of times there are real issues that need to be faced, don’t deceive yourself into thinking that either side is a slam dunk.  Successful results come from hard work, commitment and sacrifice -  not simply picking the right side of an issue.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

We're Having A...

With both of my other kids we didn't know the gender and were completely surprised!  This time around since we were doing an ultrasound anyway, we decided to find out.  My awesome sister-in-law orchestrated an adorable gender reveal for us amidst ridiculously cold weather and very busy schedules!  It was a very fun time and we discovered that we're having a...

Now you are probably thinking to yourself, how far along is she (because I look plenty big)?  I am not due until April!!  I am measuring ahead and my babies are always big but also this pregnancy is so different than my other two, especially where I'm carrying.  With J and miss Z the weight gain was very broad across my body.  This kid is all belly and makes me look ready to pop!  Whatever the case, we're very excited and grateful for a healthy report.  :)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Gifts Ideas to Encourage Bible Study

One of the things I really appreciate and value is intentional living.  We try to carry that out in our lives but it can be really hard.  As you probably know, intentions can only go so far anyway and real life is complicated at best.  So, when I find things to place in my family's life that will encourage mindful living, you know I'm going to share it with you!  For those that put their trust in God, spiritual growth happens the most when Bible study is a part of their life.  If you're searching for some great gifts that will bring enjoyment AND encourage Bible study, you're in the right place!

1) Grapevine Studies combines 100% Bible (no commentary) with illustrating that is great for all ages!  While scripture is being read, students are encouraged to draw pictures.  It comes in digital formats and physical books with traceable versions for younger kids and blank versions for every wanting to illustrate their own version.  With each book their is an accompanying Teacher's Manual that provides great teaching points and the suggested stick figure illustrations.  Old Testament, New Testament, Individual Character Studies, Bundles, and a Bible Calendar are just a few of the categories you can shop for.

2) Apologia is a powerhouse in the Christian homeschooling world producing very high quality curriculum, but for this article I want to focus on a few of their books that are great for faith building, no matter your educational circumstance.  The study of Christian apologetics (reasoned arguments and justification) is fascinating, but sometimes difficult to introduce to children.  The Young Defender Series is a great starting off point that is designed to introduce children to fundamental questions of faith.  As these questions get solid answers in our family's minds, exploring what the Bible says becomes even more of an adventure!

Does God exist?
Did God create life?
Is Jesus Alive?
Can we know right and wrong?

3. Scripture Coloring Journals are just another way to incorporate the Bible with creative outlets - both in coloring and in journaling. My mind retains so much more and much better quality information when it is free to create and wander.  I have found some great ones at places like Sam's or Hobby Lobby.  Here is a really cute one from Amazon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hoping for Life

“Where there’s life, there’s hope.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
In my house are several houseplants and Ivy is one of the easiest and most proliferating plants to maintain.  Every year or so I’ll collect my plants to pull off dead leaves, repot some that have grown too large and try to beautify others.  Before we moved I had pulled off a green vine with no leaves from a larger plant and planted it in hopes of reviving it and growing leaves.   The pot I used had deep significance to me because a sweet cousin of mine had given it to me when my son was born.  Because of that significance, I was hoping to will the plant to thrive.  Of course, there is no guarantee that the plant would make it because I had failed before, but more often than not, it turns out beautifully.
This transplant happened a year ago from this writing.  For over 11 months, I watered that little vine – which was pretty ugly as ivy vines go because it had no leaves – with little to no changes that I could see.  Month after month, I kept watering it with a glimmer of hope just because I wanted it to survive so badly.  We moved and for a while it was in the kids’ bathroom and then I moved it to mine because there was an abundance of sunshine there.  Up until that point, nothing changed or suggested that it was even alive, except the vine was still moderately green.  No leaves, no sprouts, nothing.  In June, with no significant event crowning the moment, a little perfect leave sprouted on the vine.  2 months later, today there are several gorgeous leaves!  It’s the little things, I know, but this illustrates such a beautiful thought about life and our children.

Our children are originally connected to a womb that facilitates everything they need to grow and develop.  When they are born and throughout our time with them we are doing the work of transplanting them into their own pot so to speak where we pray they will thrive.  But there are always times – sometimes years – in their lives where there is no visible fruit.   There is just enough life to keep us from giving up, but it still might seem futile.  “That will never happen.”  Too many times we make up our minds about the possibility of something.  Learning a skill, mending a relationship or even making a life right with God – never underestimate the beauty of the human spirit and the power of God.  Many things might be unlikely, but never quit working, hoping or praying for those important things we’d like to happen.

There may be difficulties and discouraging trials right now.  That in no way dictates the possibility of new life in the future!  Every time I walk by the edge of my bathroom window and see that flourishing plant, I well up inside because it is just proof that with God and His tools and His time frame, all can be made new again.
This content was originally published at  Homeschooling with HeartThe Old Schoolhouse Blog.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review Crew Favorites for 2016

My new adventure in the Review Crew is hitting a milestone and my first year is coming to a close.  To mark the occasion, I'm sharing with you a few of my favorite products I've gotten to review this year!

Grapevine Studies

Grapevine Studies is fun and interactive way for kids (and adults too!) to study the Bible.  It encourages drawing and illustrating what the verses are teaching, whether through tracing, teacher demonstration or of their own creation.  I loved this method because it engages multiple senses, sticks to only what the Bible says, and (as for the online version) is reusable!

Zeezok Publishing provided a wonderful elementary music appreciation program for us to review!  What I loved about this program was the storybook form much of the information came in as well as the endless activities available.  Depending on the age of the students, this program adapted beautifully to their needs and always diving deep into the music world!

Essential Skills Advantage's Complete Home Learning Suite is a great resource to have in homeschooling!  It includes Reading, Spelling, Language & Grammar, Math, Science, & Geography for grades K-6.  This could be a stand alone program for any of these subjects or - what we did - use it as a supplement for days or subjects that didn't get the attention needed.

Foreign Language for Kids by Kids is exactly what it sounds like!  We used the Beginning Spanish program this summer and my kids STILL ask to watch the videos and walk around talking in Spanish.  We LOVED this one!

MyFreezEasy won my favorite non-educational product!  This is an easy, cheap meal planning program that is perfect for busy households.  Take an afternoon for food prep and then you've stocked your freezer with easy meals!

These are just a few of our favorites! Click the link below and find out all the Crew's favorites!
Meet the Homeschool Review Crew Curriculum Favourites for 2016