Weekly Wrap-up: Joy in Service and Curriculum Choices

Sparkles picture of me as teacher...so humbling

Sparkles picture of me as teacher…so humbling

My last wrap-up was two weeks ago. This time last week I was working at the Beautiful Feet Books’ booth at the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. First of all, a huge thanks to Kris of Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers for her advise on how I should approach this amazing opportunity. I was so nervous and she reminded me to pray first and remember that I am in the booth to share how I used the curriculum in my own home. Yes, it is kinda sad that I had to be reminded to pray but I am grateful (and humbled) for her comforting wisdom. I must share that I loved every moment of working at the booth and speaking with so many homeschooling families. The Lord laid such a burden on my heart for these parents that I wept and prayed over them every morning and evening. The burden and joy was so great that on the last day of the convention I never took a break or even went to the bathroom without notice to my personal comfort. I’m

Middle Boy and Monty

Middle Boy and Monty

not sharing that to brag about my stamina but to share how deeply I believe in the value of Beautiful Feet Books and that Jesus called me to serve his people in that time. I have felt exhausted and empty all week…but in a good and joyful way.

I did bring home with me the remaining inventory from the Beautiful Feet Books’ booth. It is currently sitting in my lower kitchen (yes, my house has two full kitchens!). There was no reason to ship all of these books to California just to ship them to Florida for the next convention. So I agreed to bring them home and send them on to Florida when needed. My oldest is just tortured by those boxes of books. He knows there are some awesome titles in those boxes and it is driving him crazy that he cannot dive in and read!!! He considers those unopened boxes a form of cruel torture. I understand but we do have some fun box days coming up next week hopefully!

my beautiful crew

my beautiful crew

Next week we kinda begin our new school year. The crew still has a month of their core subjects to complete. In math they began the year a full two years behind since we switched curriculums. They are currently only four months behind in math now. they have worked hard to get caught up to their proper grade level in math and I couldn’t be more proud for all of their hard work. Of course, they have no idea how proud I am…but maybe they should be. Next week we will begin new science and Bible studies and Oldest will begin his new history study. Since we are beginning new studies and finishing up old courses naturally, no one knows what grade they are in anymore. Does it really matter?

Our new Bible study is Danika Cooleys’s Bible Road Trip . We are tired of fluffy Bible curriculums. Earlier this year Middle Boy asked if we could just read the Bible for ourselves instead of reading kiddy versions. I thought he had a good (but kinds scary) point. We are going to read the Bible together over three years with this curriculum. It also contains a geography study, scripture memorization, and notebooking pages for every book of the Bible.

egg hunt

egg hunt

Our new science is Sonlight’s core F…human anatomy. I actually intended to come up with my own science curriculum this year and had already purchased seven books toward that purpose. My kids were asking questions about where babies come from so I thought it would be good to build a science curriculum around human anatomy.  I was totally shocked to see that Sonlight had a curriculum already written using all of the books I had chosen (plus several others)!!! I saw no reason to reinvent the wheel so I purchased their Instructor guide and the remaining books for their course on human anatomy. I’m teaching sex education this year…please pray for me. Of course, I know that children come from a Nora Jones CD and a good bottle of wine…but I’m not going to explain that to my children…they’ll figure that out on their own one day. I might be in over my head with this one…did I mention I need prayers?!?

Oldest with Polly

Oldest with Polly

Oldest will be using Cover Story for writing this year. He is so excited!!! He has begged for this curriculum for two years. This year he is finally old enough to use it. I wanted to wait until the middle two could use it too but decided to let his enthusiasm lead the way. He has just five more weeks on Writing With Skill left before he can dive into Cover Story. He is such a creative boy and I am excited to see what he will do with Cover Story.

Oldest has already begun Visual Latin. My middle two will begin soon. I had intended for everyone to start together but Oldest just begged and begged to begin. So I relented. He loves it. His enthusiasm is so great that the middle two are looking forward to beginning Latin as well.  I really thought I would have to fight with my crew to learn Latin but they are excited about the opportunity…I feel like I am in the Twilight Zone sometimes…

The previous week was Easter and Holy Week. Since we go to the traditional service we are the only family in attendance at church with children. All of the other families with children go to the

with my crew on Easter Sunday

with my crew on Easter Sunday

contemporary service. So on Palm Sunday our children got to run around the church with Palm branches. My crew thought this was great fun! Maybe a tad too much fun…On Easter we stayed home and enjoyed a quiet day. My husband hid eggs in the yard and the kids had a great time finding them. He always hides special eggs with extra screen time, money, cuddle time, and giving someone else your chores eggs. They had a great time hunting eggs. Littlest found all of the money eggs and Oldest got both of the punish someone else with your chores eggs! Still, one extra screen time egg wasn’t found. So much fun!!!! We did enjoy a nice quiet Easter at home this year.

On my nightstand this week:

History of the Catholic Church by James Hitchcock. This was a gift from my Passionist family. I would like to add a course on church history in the future…

How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture  by Francis A Schaeffer. My edition is older. I find this book fascinating. Mr. Schaeffer has completely transformed my understanding of the effects of humanism on the early church and the how the Reformation countered the influences of humanism.

Bulfinch’s Mythology. Next to the Bible it is the oldest book I own. Originally published in the 1850’s to early 1860’s in three parts. I learned from Rea Berg that we should read the old books along with newer books so we can understand the past and not be blinded by our current generation’s beliefs. She was quoting C. S. Lewis from his introduction to “On the Incarnation” by Athanasius. I’ve always felt too stupid to read the old classic books but if C.S. Lewis and Rea say it is good practice then I am going to give it a go…maybe it is time to learn on my own…

Posts I enjoyed this week:

all the wonderful reasons to enjoy music and keep up with piano lessons from CBC Music

reading aloud isn’t just for the wee ones from Just Extraordinary

wondering how my own little homeschool will change in the years to come from Joyful Hearts and Faces

a fun little quiz to find out your homeschooling style from Eclectic Homeschooling

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Cincinnati Convention 2015

view of vendor hall

view of vendor hall

I’m still recovering from this year’s convention. Wow! I enjoyed my time working at Beautiful Feet Books’ booth and all of the lectures I managed to attend. I only made it to five sessions this year and three of those were from Rea Berg the founder of Beautiful Feet Books. I absolutely loved every lecture and learned more than I have been able to contemplate yet. My favorite conference from her was…well I do not remember the title exactly but it was something like “Charlotte Mason meats Plato”. I left her talks feeling encouraged and emboldened for the year ahead. Last year I attended a few classical based sessions and just felt like I was some sort of homeschooling slacker-mom and my kids would barely qualify to enter adulthood. I felt defeated and beaten in soul last year. Today, after soaking in the wisdom of the sessions I attended I am at peace with the direction our little homeschool is headed.

Rea Berg sharing her passion

Rea Berg sharing her passion

The other two lectures I attended were joint discussions from Dr. Jay Wile and Diana Waring. The first was a delightful sharing of wisdom on what they wished they had known about homeschooling. Their second topic was about dealing with homeschooling pressures and just slowing down. I definitely got all caught up in trying to do too much in our homeschool this past year. Fortunately, I did realize my mistake and loosened the reigns a bit. We even abandoned some curriculum! The biggest change for me was letting go of my dependence on an “expert’s book” and choosing the path myself (with many hours spent in prayer) our homeschool will walk. I’m excited to begin out new schooling year! Sadly, I missed hearing Dr. Kathy Koch this year…always next time.

In all five lectures I encountered one unifying theme. Humility. Rea, Dr. Wile, and Mrs. Waring (who retired from conventions this year!!!) all emphasized the importance of humility in the teaching parent with her students/children. I’ve always been quick to apologize to my kids when I sin…especially when I lose my temper. Learning is impossible when we are all frustrated and angry. I want our learning environment to be organic…living. A humble mother is serving and nurturing and I hope to deeply live out the concept of “mother culture” this year. I have piles of good books we are going to study this year…a collection of both old and new books. We are going to keep the breeze of the centuries flowing…God’s communion with humanity is ongoing and I am going to bring (and join with) my children into that great conversation.

my meager purchases...the rest had to be ordered

my meager purchases…the rest had to be ordered

During the few hours I had available for shopping I met three of my lovely readers! I just want you to know how exciting it was for me to meet you and your families! I hope you had a fabulous time at the convention and that your upcoming school year is fantastic! I also felt just a wee bit shy…Knowing that I would be working this year at the convention I researched every vendor on the list this year so that I would know exactly what I needed to purchase. I ordered our core subjects from Christian Light Education and Cover Story for Oldest. I spent the rest of my shopping time looking for gifts for my crew. I found a bunny for Littlest, a hand crocheted owl purse for Sparkles and Lego pieces for Oldest and Middle Boy. Oldest also got a new program for making stop-motion movies and everyone got a book to read about the science behind Batman’s technology.

working at the Beautiful Feet Books booth

working at the Beautiful Feet Books booth

My absolute favorite part of the convention this year was meeting Rea Berg, her son Josh and the rest of the team at Beautiful Feet Books. I had the great privilege of meeting Rea and personally telling her how deeply grateful I am for her influence not just in our homeschool but also within our family. I will forever be grateful for her mentorship. Working for her company was a gift to me. Every morning I prayed to be a blessing and source of comfort to every family who stopped at the Beautiful Feet Books’ booth. I’ve had many jobs over the years and this was the first time I ever loved what I was doing. I’m still exhausted from the weekend but I loved every moment that I worked with the team.

Just as last year I traveled with Mrs. Cuddle-me and stayed at the Passionist Nuns Monastery in Erlanger. Traveling with my friend is always an adventure to remember. Staying at the monastery and visiting with my deeply loved and Passionist family is always so very cherished.

I’m also very excited to tell you that Oldest and I will be sharing our work with Beautiful Feet Books’ Medieval History Advanced Intermediate and Junior High Guide. I’ll be sharing with you how we approach the guide and books and any activities we may add. Oldest already wants to add a Medieval feast and make an illuminated manuscript page. After looking over the guide together this weekend we are ready to get this study started! This week we will finish the Ancient History guide and dive right into Medieval history next week.

Weekly Wrap-up: Bowties and Bunnies

at the Hymn Fest

at the Hymn Fest

We’ve had something of a hectic schedule this past week. Saturday morning the older three played piano in the Hymn Fest. This was their first experience performing in a formal setting before a judge. For the most part they got good remarks. I thought all of the children participating in the fest played well. My boys looked so grown up in their nice shirts and bowties. But, of course, I felt a little sad because they didn’t seem so little anymore. We lunched in town afterward and then went to an Easter party at church for the afternoon. Over the rest of the weekend we finished watching Ben-Hur with the kids. I thought the movie would go nicely with Oldest’s ancient history studies. The movie along with the book we finished last week (The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare) immersed the kids so well into first century times they have been fighting with the Romans all week in imaginative play. Oldest also

making the roman road dessert

making the roman road dessert

made a Roman road dessert this week. I saw it at one of my favorite blogs All Things Beautiful. He also made a drawing of the road layers for his notebook. Oldest chose to make a Lego stop motion movie on the life of Julius Caesar this week. He was supposed to write a paper on a Roman emperor this week but I decided to accept his movie in place of the paper. I think the same amount of work went into the movie project as a written paper. He only has about ten weeks left with his current writing curriculum before he can begin Cover Story. He is really excited to dive into something more creative in nature. On Monday we didn’t have to go anywhere and the day was perfect. We didn’t feel rushed to get school work done before having to be somewhere at a certain time. I was even able to get out for a mid-day walk! We are looking forward to a calmer schedule beginning in May. I will be more discerning in the future before committing to anything in the future. Tuesday we went to a birthday party. Wednesday the kids performed in the Easter play at church. It was also our eleventh wedding anniversary. Today was just crazy! We set up a temporary home for our new bunnies in the lower kitchen this morning. Then went to Mrs. Cuddle-me’s to pick up a transport cage. We then drove to a nearby town to pick up our new bunnies. After bringing them home and getting them settled we then went to piano practice.

Polly and Monty

Polly and Monty

The older three are just in love with their new pets! Littlest looked at them once from a distance and declared that bunnies are cute. He left and never returned to visit the little rabbits.  The boy is named Monty and the girl is now named Polly. She was originally named Cocoa but since she is more of a mottled gray than brown they decided she needed a new name. I’m not sure how the name Polly came about…even though I was in the room during the conversation. Tomorrow I am going shopping with Sparkles and Mrs. Cuddle-me. I do not enjoy clothes shopping but I need a few pieces to update my wardrobe. I’m looking forward to having fun with my girl and friend though. I’m not too hopeful on finding something I’ll agree to wear since current fashions run way outside of my comfort zone these days. Next week I will be at the homeschool convention in Cincinnati so there will not be a wrap-up. I will be working at the Beautiful Feet Books booth so come by and say hello if you are also attending. I’d love to say hello! Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Some web wanderings I enjoyed this week:

Homeschool Made Difficult too funny!

Momastery have the tissues handy

You Know You’re a Homeschooler…

You know you’re a homeschooler when one of your children says…

“John Dalton! He’s my favorite Quaker scientist!”

I had to share this rather humorous moment before it was lost in my memories while trying to figure out what we’ll be having for dinner.

If you would like to attempt to replicate this humdinger in your own school then for read-aloud time chose Michael Faraday by C. Ludwig and follow up with The Mystery of the Periodic Table by B. Wiker.

Weekly Wrap-up: Gratitude for the Routine

at the park

at the park

Our week was slightly less than ordinary. Nothing grand or spectacular. Our schooling schedule endured constant daily interruptions…but nothing unexpected. Little things like a trip to the store for needed groceries, an outing to the park and, a book we couldn’t manage waiting any longer to finish. We were supposed to finish reading The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Speare) next week. We finished it today and I wept at the very last line. Why wasn’t I introduced to books like this as a child? The book is part of Oldest’s ancient history curriculum from Beautiful Feet Books.

Littlest

Littlest

I discovered something new about myself this week. Truly, not something a woman in her forties can say often. After completing four guides from Beautiful Feet Books I am suddenly able to pull assignments from a literature book for my crew. We’ve wrapped up BFB’s History of Science but I decided to tack on The Mystery of the Periodic Table (B. D. Wiker) at the end. We have been reading two to three chapters a day and I have given several assignments and notes for them to put in their science notebooks (even an art project!). We are truly enjoying this wonderful introduction to all things chemistry. A few of the scientists mentioned are old favorites from the Michael Faraday biography (C. Ludwig). Somehow this year, I managed to move from terrified “I’m going to ruin my children’s future” to a newly realized trust in my ability to do this enormous task God has asked of me. I really can homeschool and I won’t destroy my children’s future. I must add this is a humbling revelation and not a jubilant one. The responsibility is far more enormous than I initially understood but one I have the grace through Jesus to accomplish.

puppy pile

puppy pile

I am deeply grateful for ordinary days this week. Not because our schooling experienced interruptions this week. I’ve learned over these three years that interruptions are actually…rather ordinary occurrences. My husband travelled to Lexington last Friday. Usually, his leaving is an occasion for wailing on the children’s part (and mine too!). This time they all looked forward to piling into the big king sized bed with me. They slept well like a pile of puppies. I don’t rest well sleeping like a puppy on the bottom of the pile. We were all delighted to see him Saturday evening and I especially loved tucking them all into their own beds. For the most part this week was about Littlest and his preschool class. Today, I sat in conference with two high-school girls about Littlest. I expected the conference to last about fifteen

Steve from Animal Tales with Monty the python, Middle Boy and Oldest

Steve from Animal Tales with Monty the python, Middle Boy and Oldest

minutes…it took an hour. They had a lot to say about Littlest and his unwillingness to participate in the generally accepted preschool activities. The beat he follows is his own…he is neither a follower nor a leader. I often tease my husband that Littlest is his little doppelgänger. But I think he is more like me than his father sometimes. I too, couldn’t care what anyone thinks of me…well…that isn’t entirely true. I deeply care about my husband’s opinion…and his alone. I understand my youngest child’s independence and the price he will pay for it and the freedom such solitude brings.

sweet, ornery  Littlest

sweet, ornery Littlest

The conference with the two high-school girls was long today and not because they needed to tell me about Littlest. They are grieving. Their teacher has been absent for a while and we all learned last night that she has lost her husband. She is beloved in this small community and we all grieve for her and with her. So I let the girls talk about Littlest and his antics and the teacher we all missed. At the moment, I am grateful for ordinary days…when all is as it should be and all of my loved ones are here with me. Tonight, dear reader, I pray all of your loved ones are safely tucked in for the night. Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Sophrosyne

Sophrosyne [suh-fros-uh-nee] is my new word for the year (with fandabbydosy coming in a close second…love the feel of those syllables!)  I know it is March…nearly April and I should have chosen my word for the year in January. For the past few months I have toyed with the word “nourished” because I thought it filled my current need for seeking spiritual and physical…want or need. I can’t find the right word for this…loss of true harmony. Turns out there is an amazing ancient Greek word that embodies all I lack and seek…sophrosyne.

I found this word while skimming some of the works of Plato (Charmides if you want to read for yourself). In my little spare time I am reading about the influence of humanism from the ancient Greek philosophers on Thomas Aquinas and how this affected the course of the Christian church and Western history (yeah, I need a hobby). Since I am not all that clever I have to look up many words I stumble on in my readings…Anyway, one of the words I encountered was sophrosyne. A word with no clear equivalent English translation. In my quest for physical, spiritual, and mental (that one may be a lost cause!) health this word…sophrosyne…is what I seek!

Sophrosyne is expressed by an abiding awareness of one’s true worth, a healthy and state of being dominated by orderly behavior leading to harmony within one’s self and with the Divine. Isn’t that an amazing word! I want to be healthy both within my spirit and within my physical being. I truly believe there is a connection in how I care for this earthy home of the Hold Spirit and my relationship with Christ. I cherish this gift of life and I believe that if I honor this gift then I will find a deeper connection with my Lord. This word expresses my belief in how to achieve this harmony.  It is a continuous process of self-knowledge and self-restraint leading to spiritual harmony.

It means eating healthy foods in healthy proportions is something to rejoice in not feel miserable about. Overindulgence (in food or things) leads to guilt and bondage (a lack of health from over-eating and an unhealthy life-style) and self-discipline (proper and healthy food and activity) points to freedom and joy. If I quit abusing this body and seek the Lord with all my heart then sophrosyne is my way of life…true harmony is mine. Perusing a healthy lifestyle is part of achieving sophrosyne.

My wibbly-wobbly posts about achieving fitness and a healthy lifestyle are now under the name of sophrosyne.

Weekly Wrap-up: Wait…I Know This Story!

Nacho night at church...our favorite!

Nacho night at church…our favorite!

This weeks title is a quote from Oldest while I was reading about Napoleon. Oldest had just finished reading Genevieve Foster’s marvelous Augusts Caesar’s World. The previous week we had discussed the unofficial First Triumvirate of which Julius Caesar was a member and the official Second Triumvirate. The Roman Republic never recovered from the Second Triumvirate and instead formed into an Empire. Sparkles and Middle Boy are currently learning about Napoleon Bonaparte and the First French Empire. Oldest still likes to listen while I read to the younger ones from The Story of the World. While reading about Napoleon’s coronation with a laurel leaf crown and that he was called First Consul, Oldest startled us by saying, “Wait…I know this story!” Oldest then taught his

Sparkles in sewing class

Sparkles in sewing class

siblings all he knew about the origins of the Roman Empire and why he made his statement. Middle Boy then wondered if the saying about history repeating itself was really true. We then finished up our reading by learning about the Louisiana Purchase. The crew was interested to learn this little spot of land we currently call home was purchased by our country from Napoleon. Littlest then hit me in the face with a stuffed Angry Bird and our history studies were finished for the day…

Over the weekend I enjoyed a lovely Sunday afternoon painting with the ladies group from church. I invited Mrs. Cuddle-me to the outing and we had a lovely time painting our crosses. I haven’t painted since I was in junior high school and that is truly a shame. I really had an enjoyable time doing something creative. My painting isn’t a grand masterpiece or anything but my family thinks it is beautiful and that is plenty good enough for

my painting projects

my painting projects

me. I should try to do something creative more often…it was really nice letting go of my responsibilities for an afternoon and engrossing myself in something that took all my concentration.

The rest of the week has been rather quiet. Even Littlest has behaved himself…which is really unsettling.  Several times this week he has even asked to do some school work after getting home from preschool!!! I ordered him some fun education activities and games this week and he had a fun time exploring them this afternoon. He informed me today that he would like his own science set and geometrical shapes!  He then told me he would also like to learn all about clocks. Last week in the homeschool we finished up our History of Science study from Beautiful Feet Books. However, before moving onto our next science curriculum I decided to add one last book…Benjamin D. Wiker’s The Mystery of the Periodic Table. We love this book!!! Nearly every chapter has a simple experiment or two and the book is a wonderful introduction to the science and history of Chemistry. Great book and I highly recommend it!

Littlest and sorting game

Littlest and sorting game

I’ve spent most of my spare time deciding on our next academic year’s curriculum…some of it we have already started. Out last book for our new Bible curriculum came in today and we are all excited to begin. We just couldn’t finish the Who Is God? from Apologia. My crew hated it and I decided not to make them finish the book. I’m not saying the series is bad but it just isn’t for us. I kept having this nagging feeling that we should just read the Bible together but I feel so inadequate to teach directly from Scripture. The more quality literature (or living books) we read the harder time we have putting up with dry text books.

Anyway, that is our week. Sometime in the coming week I’ll write-up our curriculum choices for the next academic year.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocailized Homeschoolers