Friday, July 31, 2015

Live Like There's No Tomorrow

A few weeks ago, my friend's 11-year-old daughter died suddenly of a cancerous brain tumor. One day she was just living normal life, and then all of a sudden she started having headaches, started vomiting, became unresponsive, was rushed to the hospital, transferred to a different hospital, operated on, and then she went to be with the Lord. All in a matter of days. Three days.
I was heartbroken for our friends, losing their youngest child in such a sudden and traumatic way. It was another instance and realization that life is so short, so fragile.
I've been meditating on this a lot lately. It seems like life is just speeding by. I really can't stand being overly busy, and yet that seems to be the way things have been the past few months.

Our children had been having a bit too much screen time, and while it was educational and wholesome screen time (they don't get on the Internet), still it was too much. So, we cut way back on it. I made a little schedule of who could be on the computer and when. And chores must come before that, too. The results of that decision have been dramatic. Creativity and imagination have returned!

Today I noticed my two boys (ages 12 and almost-6) outside. They came in with these weird-looking bunches of berries. They assured me that Dad had told them it was okay to eat these and that they eat them all the time. I wanted to make sure, so we went to look in the "wild edibles" book, and, sure enough, red sumac is safe to eat.
They decided on their own to make Sumac Lemonade, which they had read about in the wild edibles book.
It was the cutest thing, watching them working so hard on their concoction.
And here is the finished Sumac Lemonade:
They drank glasses of it over ice, and told me proudly how good it was. I tasted it, and it was actually pretty good! And to think, they would have missed this fun real-life learning experience if they had been glued to a screen.

Everything in my daily life lately has been pointing to the fact that I'm in need of less screen time too. I can sense in my spirit that I need a break from all the busyness and information overload. 

I've been reading my way through these books on my summer reading list, and they're all impacting me in different but harmonious ways.
31 Days to a Happy Husband (which I finished today) encouraged me to focus on my marriage and loving my husband. Hands Free Mama encourages me to focus on being present in the everyday moments with my children. Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret exhorts me to put all my trust in a loving Heavenly Father and to serve Him with a heart full of faith. And Own Your Life encourages me to be intentional in the way I live out each day.
I want to live each day like it may be my last. I just don't want to miss out on anything or take my life for granted. So, I've decided it's time for another break from blogging. As I've been thinking and praying about it, the words to this song keep playing over and over in my mind:

Good to Be Alive
by Jason Gray

Hold on
Is this really the life I am living?
'Cause I don't feel like I deserve it
Every day that I wake and every breath that I take You've given
So right here, right now
While the sun is shining down

I wanna live like there's no tomorrow
Love like I'm on borrowed time
It's good to be alive

Hold on
If the life that we've been given
Is made beautiful in the living
And the joy that we get brings joy to the heart of the giver
Then right here, right now
This is the song I'm singing out

I wanna live like there's no tomorrow
Love like I'm on borrowed time
It's good to be alive

I won't take it for granted
I won't waste another second
All I want is to give You 
A life well lived, to say, "Thank You"

Here's a link to the video if you want to watch it. I also enjoyed watching the "song diary" for this song. It was neat to find out that his family homeschools. :)

So, I'm not sure when I'll be back around here. If you'd like to be notified when I return, feel free to sign up for email updates, which will send posts directly to your inbox.

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Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Home Education Plans for 2015-2016

As complicated as it can sometimes seem, one of my favorite things is planning out a new school year. This year I'll have 11th, 8th, 6th, 4th , and 1st grades (although we only loosely follow the traditional idea of being in a certain grade--one of the things I love about homeschooling is the ability to customize my child's education to their unique needs, and sometimes that means using materials listed at different grade levels).

This year I invested in yet a different homeschool planner. And I'm in love with this one. It is so much more intuitive to me, and I love all of the planning helps included at the beginning of the book. 
I added tabs to mine to make it easier to find what I'm looking for. I've already filled out all the planning pages, which were so helpful.
I also love the inspirational quotes and scriptures included throughout the book:
Every school year I schedule a time together where we all gather for:
  • Bible Study/Prayer
  • Scripture Memory
  • Character Study
  • Hymn Study
This year we're using Character Building for Families again, in conjunction with Laying Down the Rails for Children. I bought this two-book set a year or two ago, but I'm just now figuring out how I want to use it. My plan is to follow the study in Character Building for Families and enhance that study with Laying Down the Rails.
There are a few stories I won't be using in LDTR, but it's a simple matter to just use the parts that are helpful to us. We're using Our 24 Family Ways for our family devotional time in the evenings.
Also, during our morning together time (which I used to refer to as Circle Time, but now I have older children who thought that sounded too "little" for them!), I'm planning to use parts of Heart of Dakota's Preparing Hearts for His Glory.
This may sound very ambitious of me, and maybe it is. But I'm hopeful that this plan will prove to be very doable for this year. Here's how I'm planning to use this. 

Each of my children has an Abeka history book that is recommended for their grade level. We used Abeka history last school year (we switched to it early in the year), and everyone loved it. I use the history book as a reader...each child just reads their history for the day. 

Last school year they would come to the dinner table telling us how much they had learned in their history textbooks. They liked that it was relevant to what is going on in the world right now. Their history book gave them an overview of things that had happened in the past and also things going on currently. They actually enjoyed using them!

So, I knew I wanted each child to have a history book to read. They just read this independently except for my youngest. I will read his short selections to him.

But back to Heart of Dakota. I had already planned to use Grandpa's Box as part of our morning devotional time. I already had the book, and it looked wonderful. When I saw that HOD used Grandpa's Box for history readings, I started trying to figure out how I could make this work for us.
My plan is to use the "Reading About History" and "Storytime" section as part of our morning read aloud time. Look at all of these wonderful books we get to read!
A couple of these books we already had (Hero Tales and The True Story of Noah's Ark), but all of the rest are completely new to us. I'm so excited to get started with them!
Another part of HOD that I'm planning to use is the poetry section:
Except I already had this lovely copy of A Child's Garden of Verses, so I plan to read the poems from here.
Here are some of our other choices:
11th Grade:
8th Grade:
6th Grade: 
4th Grade:
I found these beautiful books at a thrift store for $1 apiece.
For all of the above grades, I also have a reading list. Isn't this the cutest book report form? My 4th grade daughter will love it.
1st Grade:
You can find this "Formidable List of Attainments" form on this page.
I think I have everything just about ready for the first day of school. I have school supplies, spiral notebooks for each child's daily assignments,
back to school interview forms, and my yearly chalkboard grade printouts for our first day of school photos. I put these in a frame and take a photo of each child on the first day of school. The ones we did last year turned out so cute!
From the very beginning, Deuteronomy 6:6-7 has been at the heart of the mission statement for our homeschool. It's the "why" behind all that we do.

"And these words that I command  you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when  you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."  
I received this little card from Clementine Pattern Co. when I placed an order. One side of the card has this beautiful Scripture artwork done by Breezy Brookshire. I just love it!
I decided to frame mine, since I had an empty 5 X 7 frame available. It required a bit of trimming, and it doesn't fit absolutely perfectly...
But I thought it would be a nice reminder of our goals and mission as we enter yet another homeschool year. (We've been homeschooling from the beginning, so does that mean it's been 16 years now?! Or, if you count when we actually began preschool, I guess it would be 13 years.)
You can get the full-size "meant-to-be-framed" print of this verse here in Breezy's shop (I love all of her artwork!).
So, I think we're ready for a new school year. Lord willing, we're planning to begin next week. We still have some summer activities we're looking forward to, but I wanted to go ahead and get a head start since it's so hot outside anyway.

Disclosure: This post contains my affiliate links. Your support means so much to our family--thank you!