Monday, April 2, 2012


     I love homeschooling.  I am fortunate that I have a wonderful support network.  I have my friends from co-op, church, Community Bible Study, family and  friends from my homeschool mom's group.  I also have the support of my incredible husband.  This support system is important.  These people keep me grounded.  Help me to stay the course and throw me a life preserver on days I feel like I am drowning. 
     I love the curriculum that I have chosen.  I blogged about exactly what I am using and why.  However, when it came down to me deciding what to do next year I started to doubt my choices.  Maybe there is something better.  Maybe I am pushing big sister too much.  Maybe I should try x.  While I was in the throws of this doubt my homeschool mom's group had our monthly night out.  The women there listened to me.  They asked questions.  They encouraged me and helped me to realize that I should stick with my plan.  We all have those times of doubt.  We are fortunate that today homeschoolers have so many choices.  You can really find materials that will fit your child.  You don't have to settle.  However, all those choices can get overwhelming and cause you to start doubting.  I think re-evaluating is a good thing.  I can now order next year's curriculum with confidence.
     There are so many things that homeschoolers can do throughout the week.  So many really good things that would be fun learning experiences.  Art classes, gym classes, science day programs...You could be out every day at a different activity.  At the beginning of this school year I had a pretty full schedule.  By Christmas I realized it was too much.  I felt God was telling me to slow down.  So I dropped something I was enjoying and it helped.  As the months have passed I still fell over scheduled.
     Traditionally Monday has been a down day for the girls & me.  It set the tone for the week.  This year I planned activities for Monday.  Well as of today Monday's activities are gone.  It wasn't working.  We need that day.  Big sister is disappointed.  She enjoyed her Monday gym class.  But as the mom I have to make those tough decisions.  I know it is the right decision.  We need to slow down.
     It is so hard when you have to choose between good things and figure out which good thing is right for you and your family.  The homeschool community offers so many good things and as a parent it is my job to sift through and pick what activities are best for us.  It isn't easy.  Sometimes I feel like we are missing out.  But I know that over scheduling is not good and I have to be vigilant about not letting it happen.  I have to be the adult in the situation and sometimes say we need to stop x because it is not working for us.  This isn't always easy, but I have found in life that the right choice is rarely the easy choice.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


     In Ephesians 5 wives are told to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.  Many people read this one verse & get angry.  However, if you read the rest of this chapter you will find that the man is given the harder job.  He is told to love his wife as Christ loved the church.  Christ was crucified, a horrible painful way to die, for the sake of the church.
     God is not anti-woman.  The bible has many women in it that did incredible things.  Women were some of the leaders of the early church.  When God tells a woman to submit He is not implying she is a second -class citizen.  The new testament has several instances documented that shows Jesus was extremely respectful of women and reached out to them just as he reached out to minister to men. 
     Submission does not imply you are to be a doormat or that your opinion & feelings do not matter.    It means that when it comes down to the final decision it is the husband's call.  And he is accountable to God for his decision. 
     In today's day and age I now how hard it is for a woman to be told she has to release control.  It is especially hard for me since I got married in my 30's.  I can say that submission is much easier if you marry a Godly man that you love and respect.  We have had several times in our 10 years of marriage when I have had to say to my husband this is how I feel, but the final decision is yours.  I don't envy his position.  Because if his decision is wrong he answers to God and has to deal with me.  Not really sure which is worse.  No no no, part of submission is not saying, "I told you so." 
     Now if there is an abusive relationship or the man is telling the woman to do things that are against God's commands that is an entirely different matter.  I don't want anyone to think I am saying they should allow someone to abuse them or force them to do things that are wrong.
     I know submission goes against everything the woman's lib movement wants us to believe.  However, I think not submitting is much more difficult.  God made us and knows us intimately.  He knows what is best for us and knows how we are wired.  Quite honestly a woman trying to take on a man's role is not natural and it is hard.  Woman's lib has told us we can have it all.  We can have a successful career, a successful marriage, and raise children.  Talk to women trying to do it all and they'll tell you how incredibly difficult that can be.  Talk to women that are trying to raise children on their own. 
     I am not implying the woman's place is barefoot & pregnant in the kitchen.  I am just saying we shouldn't be so quick to embrace Satan's lies.  He is out to destroy us.  He wants us to think God is old-fashioned and biblical ideas are oppressive.  Maybe we should look a little closer at what God really says and embrace what is being said to us by our loving heavenly father.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


     I don't think I can adequately explain what it is like to constantly be tired and feeling like you are always running on empty.   I have always needed a lot of sleep.  I don't think I was ever that child that woke at the crack of dawn.  I don't remember a time when napping wasn't a part of my life.  Yet it has gotten even worse since my thyroid problems.  I feel like I drag through life.  I actually asked my endocrinologist in Atlanta if this was as good as it gets. 
     I hear people talk about taking naps.  They say something like 15 minutes just revives me.  Some even admit to, GASP,  taking an hour nap.  I wish!  I have to lay down for several hours, usually about 3.  I know you are thinking that is ridiculous.  However, if I don't take a several hour nap at least 4 days per week I get sick.  I recently tried.  I decided I was wasting too much time sleeping.  So I limited myself to 1 hour naps.  I ended up sick for 5 days!  I never get sick for 5 days.  I was absolutely useless.  I couldn't figure out why the bug I got kicked my butt.  Then I remembered for the 2 weeks prior I wasn't napping liking I should. 
     It is debilitating to be this tired all the time.  I think about all the things I could be getting accomplished in that time.  The things I could do with big sister while little sister naps.  My house could get cleaned.  Big sister and I could to crafts, play games, or even go for a walk while little sister sleeps.  (My husband works from home so we can leave when little sister naps.)  I feel guilty and frustrated that I have to nap.
   People tell me you'd feel better if you exercised.  Maybe a little, but the energy I use exercising means less energy and time for other things.  Trust me I have tried many times.  It does not give me more energy.  Others have said that my body is just used to it and that is why I get so tired.  No, I actually get sick each & every time I try to give up naps.
     I know it is difficult for others to understand.   Even my family who has seen the results of me not napping gets frustrated.  My husband is usually so supportive, but sometimes he gets resentful about my need for so much sleep.  I wish I could live on just 8 hours a night.  I long to have the energy to do everything I want to accomplish in a day. 
     I make up for my sleep issues by being very driven when I am awake.  Most days I am extremely productive, especially considering the actual awake time.  My husband says I have 2 speeds, full speed ahead & sleeping.  There really isn't much in between.  If I am watching TV I am usually also doing something else.  I rarely just sit on the couch and relax.  That is hard for me, because I want to make up for the lost time. 
     In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about a thorn in his side.  He asks God to take it from him, but God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."   I have tried to accept that this is my thorn.  It forces me to depend on God.  I have to rely on His strength to do the things He gives me to do.  I have to trust that He is faithful and he will use this in the lives of my children.  He makes beauty of ashes & he can use this physical limitation to mold me and my children into the women he desires us to be.
      I already see the results in big sister.  She has learned to entertain herself and enjoys her alone time.  She is so nurturing to me, reminding me to take my nap.  Recognizing when I am getting run down and need to rest.  Yes, I can see God's hand in it all.  I just need to surrender my will & my vision of what I should be for God's will & vision of who I am in Him. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Strange Breed

     Yes it is true.  Homeschool moms are a strange breed.  We choose to keep our kids home with us instead of sending them off to school.  While other moms are counting down the days until they can send their kids back to school we are busy planning what we are going to be teaching.  We scour catalogs, websites & read information in various forums.  We evaluate and reevaluate what worked and didn't work the previous year.  What is even stranger is we find all this fun and dare I say exciting.
     We love to discuss with others what curriculum we are using and why we chose that curriculum.  We like to share our knowledge and anything we might make to use in school.  I have to say the entire sharing thing is big for teachers in the classroom too.  I always found it flattering when someone liked what I was doing so much that they copied me or asked me for the unit.  Homeschoolers are the same way.  Just check out the blogs & websites of homeschoolers and you will find a enormous amount of free material. It is possible to homeschool and never buy a curriculum.
     In the spirit of our strangeness below is what I choose to use for 1st grade and why. The materials I have  chosen requires quite a bit of student - teacher interaction.  It is not sitting at a table filling out worksheets.  Your child will not be able to work independently for long periods of time.  It requires you to be there and be engaged. 
Horizons Math Grade 1:  I have really enjoyed this curriculum.  I originally chose Horizons because big sister needed more then most kindergarten programs offer.  It is an advanced curriculum that uses a spiral approach.  This means we don't do measurement for a few weeks and then move on to the next topic.  It introduces new information in little bits and gives plenty of time to get it before it introduces something new.  Each lesson covers several different topics.  This has been extremely successful for us.
Shurley English Level 1:  This program has amazed me.  It introduces the parts of speech via jingles.  We review the jingles everyday and practice classifying the words in a sentence.  So far in first grade my girl has learned how to identify nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs & articles.  I have never experienced a grammar program that is actually enjoyable.  My daughter asks if we can do grammar!
All About Spelling Level 1:  I was blown away the first time I saw this material.  I have a masters degree in Literacy so this is really my field of expertise.  This program is the best of the best.  The methods are based on Orton-Gillingham which is one of the best methods for teaching reading.  It will work well for all children including those with special needs.  It utilizes oral, verbal & tactile learning styles.  Many people find they can complete more then 1 level each year.  I have chosen to not do this since we already have so much that we are doing and I don't want to rush through. 
A Reason for Science Level A:  I have been so impressed by this curriculum.  The fact that I was able to order a box that included everything I needed to do the experiments was awesome.  I knew I wouldn't get the experiments done if I had to first collect the materials.  This makes it easy for me.  It doesn't take much time to complete the lessons and it is fun. I supplement the material with Magic School Bus and books on the topic we are studying. 
Alpha Omega Life Pac History and Geography 2nd grade:  We did the 1st grade one in kindergarten.  We read and discuss the information together.  I supplement this with books on the topic.  We have liked it, but I wouldn't want to do all subject matters in this format.  I also supplement it with a Map Skills for Today Book 2 by Weekly Reader.  I love maps and have passed down this love to my girl. 
Horizons Reading & Phonics K & Explode the Code Books 1 & 2:  I like this Reading & Phonics program, but I felt it was moving too fast.  So I did not finish the book 4 last year.  Instead we are finishing it this year.  We have also completed Explode the Code books 1 & 2.  I started the year doing Explode the Code and once we finished those we started doing book 4 of Horizons.  These in combination with All About Spelling have been effective.  She has also been reading Frog & Toad and Dick and Jane.
Primary Analogies 1:  I don't think it is ever to early too introduce logic to children.  This helps children become flexible with their knowledge.  I am not looking for my daughter to be a robot that spits back information, but someone that can use the knowledge she has to evaluate and assess new information.  We even completed a logic book in Kindergarten called Lollipop Logic that she really liked.
Horizons Health 1:  Once again Horizons does a good job of presenting the material in a very age appropriate manner.  This is not a curriculum that will take all year to complete.  I am currently teaching History & Geography.  Once we complete that then we will do Health. 
Community Bible Study:  We attend CBS on Tuesdays.  This study includes homework that has to be completed before we go each week.   Big girl and I are studying the same scripture.  Of course her homework is age appropriate.  CBS is a wonderful program that both my girls have been in since the time they were infants.  I am amazed at the amount of bible knowledge my big girl has acquired because of this wonderful program.  I have chosen to use this in lieu of any other bible curriculum.  
**We completed Primary Analogies and after we finished that we began our Map Skills book.      
     Completing all this takes us about 2- 2 1/2 hours a day. We do PE at a local gym and we attend a co-op on Fridays.  All of these things makes for a well-rounded education for my girls.
     I have planned out what I believe we will be doing through 5th grade, but my plan is flexible.  Many of the things I have listed we will continue with a few exceptions like history and reading.  In History we will study regions of the US next year and then start Homeschool in the Woods Time Traveler curriculum.  In reading we will start novel units next year since that is the what I taught for many years and I already have numerous materials assembled. 
     So what about you.  Is there anything you use that you really love?  I'd love to hear about it! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Free Will

     Christian parents often have unrealistic expectations.  They assume that if they raise their child in a loving Christian home their child will live out their life as devoted followers of Jesus.  And if their child does not do this and chooses to live life in away that is completely contrary to our convictions we blame ourselves.  We play that if only game.  If only I had ...  We decide we are the ones responsible for our child's decision.  Other Christians may even start to wonder what they did wrong.  I mean they seemed like a good Christian family, but something must have been wrong in their home.  After all you never know what goes on behind closed doors. 
     It is true we are not perfect parents.  We make mistakes and mess up.  However, God was the perfect parent to Adam & Eve and they rebelled.  Judas spent three years with Jesus.  He was one of the 12 disciples.  He heard Jesus teach on numerous occasions.  He was privy to an intimate relationship with Jesus.  Yet he betrayed Jesus.  Turned him over to those that killed him for just a few pieces of silver. 
     We seem to forget that we have been given free will.  We have to choose for ourselves who we are going to serve. 
     We need to cut ourselves & others some slack.  The most we can do is raise our children in a loving environment, teach the truths of the scripture, pray for our children and do the best we can .  Acknowledge your mistakes, but don't beat yourself up over those mistakes.  We aren't perfect and even if we were that is no guarantee our child would choose Jesus. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


     I have had more then my fair share of times when I have felt overwhelmed.  Looking around the house I get discouraged wondering how I am going to get it all done, the laundry, cleaning, cooking, school for my big girl, errands & entertain my little girl who is only 2! 
     I get the feeling I am just spinning my wheels.  I get one thing cleaned up only to turn around & find my girls have messed up 12 more things!  And meals.  They just keep coming.  Three time a day plus snacks and with food comes dishes.  It really makes me just want to sit down and cry.  Well some days.
       Then there are those days when I get to the end and think everything went smoothly today.  I actually accomplished stuff & the house is good enough.  (You can read my Good Enough post later)
       Why am I so overwhelmed one day & super woman another?  I guess my attitude & expectations has a lot to do with it.  Well, that & how my girls are doing that day.  If they are fussy or destructive that is surely going to impact my day.  But the biggest factor is my attitude.   I promise another post one day about the power of expectations.
      I mean if I really look around my house I have it pretty easy.  I have a washer & dryer on the main floor, no running up & down the stairs to do the laundry.  And I am surely not having to do it by hand or out on a rock.  I have a microwave, so if I forget to take something out to defrost I can pop it in & have it defrosted within a few minutes.  I have a dishwasher, so it isn't like I am standing at the sink washing the dishes by hand.  I have all the modern conveniences.  There are many trying to do it all with a whole lot less.
     I was encouraged this week in bible study when I read Mark 14:34-36 (NIV), "34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[a] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”  Jesus understands what I am feeling when I am overwhelmed.  Granted, he was facing his crucifixion at the time and my problems are minor compared to that, but he still understands.  I find that very comforting.  My Lord understands how I feel!
     This last week I have really been trying to monitor my attitude & I have found the results to be amazing.  You have heard the saying that if Mama ain't happy ain't nobody is happy.  Well I guess the opposite is also true.  If Mama has a good attitude the rest will too.  I set the tone for my home.  I am not perfect & I am sure I will have days of feeling overwhelmed, but hopefully they will be far & few between :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shut Up

       I have been taught that it is not nice to say shut up.  But sometimes I am so tempted.  I wonder how people could be so ignorant and clueless.
       I have 2 beautiful daughters.  Big sister has dark hair, big brown eyes and a sweet face.  She is my mini me.  There is no mistaking her as being my daughter.  Little sister has red hair, big blue eyes and an adorable little face.  I know red hair is not common, but people always come up and fawn over little sister.  Yes, babies & toddlers attract attention and the red hair makes the attention even more frequent.  What irks me is when they ignore big sister.  She is standing right there as they go gaga over little sister and then they walk away.  Or worse they look at her and say something like, "Oh, you're cute too."  Then walk away.
       Hello!!!!  Would it really take too much time to say something like, "Oh, you must be the big sister.  I see now that beauty runs in the family."  Don't treat her like 2nd rate or ignore her all together. 
       I am trying to come up with a good set phrase to say when people do this to her.  Something that will not allow big sister to feel the rejection.  I was thinking when they start fussing over little sister I should say, "Yes, God has really blessed me with two very different, but beautiful girls."  or maybe, "I don't know how my husband and I got such 2 beautiful girls."  I don't know.  Something polite that will redirect the conversation.  Although what I'd really like to say is, "Really!  Could you just shut up!!"
        I guess if big sister was clueless and didn't notice I wouldn't care as much.  However, it hurts her.  She is only 7 and I can see she will be a child whose self -esteem is going to need some building up.  She worries that she is fat.  I think this concerns her because she is a big girl.  Most of her friends are very small thin girls.  She towers over most of her friends and is growing so fast.  She tends to bulk out a bit and then shoot up.  She hears my husband and I lament over our weight.  She hears her aunt talking about being on a diet and losing weight.  Now my husband, sister & I are overweight.  However, this talk has made her look at herself critically.  Now she is comparing herself to her friends and has decided that she is fat.
        I am going to arm myself with bible verses that talk about how God sees us and use them to help my daughter to see herself accurately.  I am going to start a dialogue when people are rude and discuss why it is wrong and how it can be hurtful.  Maybe by educating my daughter I can insulate her from some of those ignorant people we encounter.  Hopefully I will be able to turn these lemons in lemonade.