Archives for August 2011

High Five Moms: Iron Sharpeneth Iron {new series}

Running the race can wear us down, tire us out, even overwhelm us at times. We all need encouragement from someone who understands, a high five to keep us going. High Five Moms – encouragement for the journey!

Today I will be starting a new series with a great group of ladies, called High Five Moms. Each week we will all be posting on a given topic. I have personally been encouraged by these ladies and I know you will be as well. Please stop by and visit them!

Andie @ Happy Andersons
Stacey @ A Delightful Home
Brandy @ The Marathon Mom
Kerimae @ A Happy Home

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but I am not a “people person”. Large crowds overwhelm me.  I’m not shy, I just prefer an intimate chat with a single friend over a large get-together with lots of friends. I guess that’s why I love this verse.

iron sharpeneth iron

one on one

Just the two working to make each better.

I have spent a lot of time over the years making friends. My husband is in the Air Force and we have moved several times over the years. I am always amazed at the people the Lord puts on my path. I have to laugh at myself though, because some of the very people who I would have never *picked* to be my friends are my most cherished friends today.

For instance, I have one friend that I met while I was a homeschool group leader several years ago. When I first met her, I didn’t feel a connection between us. In fact, I often felt that she “didn’t like me”. Don’t ask me why. We were just different and I was OK with that. But over time, our paths continued to cross and my heart grew founder of her. When I would spend time with her, I didn’t see our differences any longer, but rather our mutual love for the Lord.

I love the fact that we can live across the world from each other, and yet she still sharpens my countenance. I love that she writes at the beginning of her emails “I only have a few minutes so I will have to keep this short”, then proceeds to write a page long email pouring out her love for the Lord and His ways, always encouraging, always a joyful spirit. Her words make me want to strive to love the Lord more, encourage others more, be joyful MORE.

Our friendships should bring us closer to the Lord, spurring us on to good works.

That’s what it’s all about.

Iron sharpening iron.

Monday’s Menu Link Up and Featured Recipe: Homemade Fish Sticks

Well, I didn’t make a menu plan for this week as I know it is going to be a busy week and I will just have to play it by ear day by day.  I didn’t make beans last week like I had planned, so I will probably try to make them for this week as it will provide several quick and easy meals.

I did make one unexpected meal this week and it was a HUGE hit with all the kids…homemade fish sticks.  They are suprisingly easy to make and taste 100% better than the storebought cardboard ones.  I learned how to make them watching some “food” show while I was pregnant.  I hadn’t made them yet, because I couldn’t find the right type of breadcrumbs…until this week.  I was browsing the aisles at Wallyworld when I came across just what I was looking for — Panko breadcrumbs.  These are a special Japanese breadcrumb and they are the secret ingredient to some great fishsticks!

Now it’s you turn! Share your weekly menu or favorite recipe.

Please make sure that you link to the specific post (your menu or recipe) and not your homepage. At the end of your post, please include a link back to this post so that others can join in as well. Also, the post that you link to must be completely family friendly.

If you don’t have a blog or haven’t written a menu post, share your menu for the week in the comments!

Linked up at Raising Homemakers.

The Well Planned Day Planner {Giveaway}

Congratulations Gianna! You are the winner of the Well Planned Day planner!!!

I was recently blessed to receive another copy of The Well Planned Day Planner.  If you haven’t seen this planner, you can read about it in this review.  I have the PDF version that I had printed out and put into my Homemaking Binder.  However the copy I just received is the print version, no copying needed!

Sooo, obviously I don’t need TWO copies and I would like to bless one of you with this awesome planner.  I am going to give this planner to one of my readers next Friday!

How to Enter to Win The Well Planned Day Planner Giveaway:
~Leave a comment, simply as that

For a few extra entries:
~Like Ponder the Path on Facebook
~Subscribe to Ponder the Path
~Follow Ponder the Path on Twitter
~Share this contest with others!

Please leave a separate comment below for each entry. The contest closes next Thursday, September 1st at midnight. I will then choose a winner randomly and announce the winner on Friday, Septeber 2.

Homeschool Planning: Bible and Language Arts

 

We started school this week, but I feel like I am still in the planning stages of this school year. I have chosen a few things we will be using that are new for us, and few things we are bringing along from last year, and a few things are yet to be determined.

Bible

For our Bible study, we don’t have a curriculum we follow. I did purchase Balancing the Sword this year, and although we have only used it a few days so far, I think it will be a great match for us.

During our Bible time (mid-morning after all chores are done and everyone has eaten breakfast), we usually start by singing a few hymns. I let the kids each pick a hymn. We all sing remembering the words the best we can (sometimes we use the hymnal if Kendra doesn’t need it to play the piano). My goal is to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” and to help my children prepare their hearts for the Word.

After singing, we all open our Bibles to the scriptures we will be reading. This year we started with Luke. I have each child of reading age read a section (depending on their ability I decide how long they should read). For my 6 year old who is still learning to read and sounding words out, I try to find one verse with simple words and help her sound them out. This encourages her to work on learning to read so that she can read more of the Bible like the older kids.

As we read, I will stop them and ask questions or discuss what they are reading. This is where Balancing the Sword comes in. It contains retention questions for every book in the Bible. It doesn’t add commentary, or ask opinionated questions, just questions about exactly what was read. It also contains maps and pictures related to the passages. When the 2 year old has trouble sitting still, I let him look at the pictures as we read. We generally try to cover a chapter a day, but for longer chapters (like Luke 1), we break it up into 2 days.

For scripture memory, I try to pick verses from the passages we are reading. As the year moves along, I will pick verses from other areas of the Bible, especially for the older kids who are able to learn more verses. I found a scripture memory method from Simply Charlotte Mason that I have modified to work for our family.  It involves writing each verse on an index card and reviewing them systematically throughout the month.  As we learn more verses, I hope to be able to get better at reviewing them.

~As a side note, last year I had a little boy who would dump the cards out of our scripture memory box when I wasn’t paying attention.  This year he is a little older, but just in case, I bought a small notebook that holds index cards.  I keep it with my Bible and so far, no scattered index cards.

For personal Bible reading time, I found a reading checklist online.  I just print off each of us a copy and we check the boxes as we read through the Bible on our own.

Language Arts

For the littles, this one is fairly straightforward.

1st grade – Hannah is still learning to read using 100 Easy Lessons.  She also uses Explode the Code to help cement the phonics lessons she is learning.  For handwriting, I have her copy scripture or she sometimes uses Draw Write Now.  I have her read various books at or below her reading level.

4th grade – Maddie is working on Learning Language Arts through Literature.  It is a workbook type curriculum, but I like that it follows a somewhat Charlotte Mason type learning style.  It includes grammar, spelling, reading (not much though, I supplement with extra), handwriting, and other extra learning activities.  She really enjoys doing it, so I am sticking with it.  Last year she did Phonetic Zoo for spelling (because I already had it and it is what her older brother was using), but this year I think I will keep it simple and just use the spelling word in her lessons.  She gets 5-6 words a week and it ties into what she is already learning.

9th grade – Tristan…OK, here is where I am still planning.  Last year he used Phonetic Zoo for spelling, Fix-it for grammar, and IEW for writing.  I would like to find a way to tie everything together in a more practical manner.  I feel like he is learning the mechanics of language without learning the usage, if that makes sense.    I will mark this one “to be determined”.

12th grade – Kendra will be reading some great literature through the Beautiful Feet history curriculum she is using.  I am having her focus on writing skills this year, through her blog, in a nutrition class she is taking, and in the history class.  I want her to learn to express herself in a structured way and basically find her writing “voice”.

Just so I don’t leave anyone out…

5 month old – practicing his babbling, cooing, and laughing.  No curriculum needed, just lots of encouragement from everyone around him.

2 year old – practicing answering mama in a kind tone without the words “No way, Jose”, memorizing every word of his Veggie Tale shapes and colors books, and keeping us in an uproar with the clever comments he comes up with.

In case you missed them, here are the links to find out what we are using for science and math or history and literature.

Monday’s Menu Link Up

Only a couple of weeks until we move so the challenge of the week is to use up what we have in the fridge. I plan on making up a pot of pinto beans in the next couple of days which will give us a couple of lunch meals (beans/cornbread, chalupas) plus the bean and cheese burritos for dinner on Thursday.

I found a fresh peanut butter recipe at A Delightful Home that I would like to try this week as well.  I am making fresh bagels and would love to have some homemade peanut butter with them.  Sound delicous!

 

Menu for Week of August 22 – 28

Monday – fajitas, guacamole
Tuesday – lentil and rice casserole, salad
Wednesday – ribs, corn-on-the-cob, broccoli
Thursday – bean and cheese burritos with enchilada sauce
Friday – pizza, salad
Saturday – bread pork chops in mushroom gravy, pan fried potatoes, broccoli
Sunday – leftovers

Now it’s you turn! Share your weekly menu or favorite recipe.

Please make sure that you link to the specific post (your menu or recipe) and not your homepage. At the end of your post, please include a link back to this post so that others can join in as well. Also, the post that you link to must be completely family friendly.

If you don’t have a blog or haven’t written a menu post, share your menu for the week in the comments!

Large Family Logistics part 2

Little by little I have tried to implement some of the new ideas I am learning from Large Family Logistics.  At times I feel like flipping to Appendix A : Coping While Exhausted and Overwhelmed, but I remind myself that I don’t have to try and do everything all at once, or even at all for that matter.  I want to make sure that I use this book as a tool to help my family run smoother rather than another burden to conform to.

One of the areas that I would really like to get down is The Buddy System – Ch 47.  Because of the ages of our kids, using the system all the time is difficult, so I have chosen to use it for different situations.  In the mornings, I have a six year old that is the queen of dawdling.  To add to the problem, she happens to have waist length, curly hair.  See where I’m going with this?  There are days when she is still brushing her hair out at lunch time.

I have assigned her oldest sister to be her partner in the mornings, helping her to get ready.  Basically, she just needs to be encouraged to work diligently and get the job done.  Her older sister can also help by braiding her hair to keep it manageable throughout the day.  My oldest son is assigned to help the 2 year old get ready in the mornings (get dressed, go potty, brush his teeth).  I am hoping that these two matching will help our morning run smoother and ensure that everyone is dressed and ready to go for the day.

I want to use this system in other ways, but at the moment I find myself just asking the closest child or the one that is not doing anything, to help with the young ones.  It is working for now, but once we get settled into a routine in our new house/life, I can see how it would help throughout the day.

Morning and Afternoon Chore’s

We have done morning chore’s for years now.  Everyone knows what chore’s are theirs, and they should do them each morning after they are dressed and ready for their day.  Depending on what we are eating for breakfast and when it is ready, they sometimes do them before they eat and sometimes after.  We are not real organized in the mornings, and I tend to stress out if I feel a lot of pressure to early in the morning.  I find it more peaceful to “go with the flow” on this one.

There are times when one child wakes up hungry and wants to eat right away.  That same child might not be so hungry the next morning and want to get their chores done first.  I try to be flexible and encourage them to work diligently to get everything done as soon as possible.

One of the new items I am working on for chores is a set afternoon schedule.  I usually have everyone pick up in the afternoon, but I am trying to decide on assigned chores for each child.  I know that when we get moved, our chore list will change.  I think I will probably wait to make any changes until I have a better idea of our new routine.

Meal Time Routine

This is area that I have not been diligent in training the children in and as a result, mealtimes are sometimes chaotic.  Usually I will serve all of children’s plates (sometimes the older kids serve themselves) from the stove/counter, then bring the plates to the table.  Because no one is assigned a specific job, everyone is trying to get their own silverware or drinks or whatever they need, and it becomes very disorderly.  My goal is to have each person assigned to a task, some before the meal, and some after.  Even the younger children are able to help in these areas, so I think this will be a great training area.  It will also be helpful to me as there are times when I need to feed the baby or take care of other things after the meal.  By training the kids to do more of the clean up tasks, I can take care of these things.

I am also hoping that this will foster a desire to help take care of others instead of a “every man for himself” attitude.

In the book, Kim talks about teaching a new chore.

There are 5 classic steps to teaching a new chore to children:
1. Tell them
2. Show them
3. Do it with them
4. Supervised practice
5. Independent practice

This really spoke measures to me.  There are so many times that I expect my kiddos to know how to do something I have told them to do, but I have never really taught them how to do it.  I don’t know how many times I have looked at my kids and said “What are you doing?” and they sheepishly answer, “I am doing what you told me to do?”  Oh boy!

Newsflash (to myself)…training up my children requires TRAINING!

This is my prayer for the week, Lord help me to train my children, not assume that they already know!

Don’t miss part 1 of Large Family Logistics.

 

This post is linked up at Life in a Shoe , Smockity Frocks and

Monday’s Menu Link Up and Featured Recipe: Myron’s Meatloaf

I know, I know, I didn’t post last week’s menu.  I didn’t even create a menu for myself last week, it was just one of those weeks.  I am back on track this week and hope to try and actually follow my menu!

We are planning on moving in a few weeks, so I am trying to plan ahead and use up most of the food we have in the freezer.

Last week, we did have a fabulous meatloaf and I just happened to get a picture of it for my featured recipe.  This recipe was given to me by a good friend who happen to be a nurse.  One of the men on her shift brought this meatloaf to a potluck she attended.  She named it Myron’s Meatloaf, after him.

Myron, if you are out there reading this, thank you for the great recipe.

Menu for Week of August 15 – 21

Monday – chicken fried steak fingers, mashed potatoes, biscuits, gravy, corn-on-the-cob
Tuesday – chicken pot pie
Wednesday – cheeseburgers with avocado, french fries
Thursday – shrimp alfredo, salad, garlic bread
Friday – pizza, salad
Saturday – bread pork chops in mushroom gravy, pan fried potatoes, broccoli
Sunday – leftovers

Now it’s you turn! Share your weekly menu or favorite recipe.

Please make sure that you link to the specific post (your menu or recipe) and not your homepage. At the end of your post, please include a link back to this post so that others can join in as well. Also, the post that you link to must be completely family friendly.

If you don’t have a blog or haven’t written a menu post, share your menu for the week in the comments!

 

School Pictures

Tomorrow is our first day back to school. Here is the 2011-2012 class…

They look like a lively bunch, but I don’t know about their teacher. She might be a card short of a full deck…

Then there is this cutie-patutie. How is anyone going to get any work done with smiles like this grabbing our attention!

Linked up at Not Back to School Blog Hop

Self-discipline: Hunger and Thirst for the Lord

Last week I spoke a bit about self-discipline.  I have noticed that I am starting to catch myself being un-disciplined.  It is always hard at first when God starts revealing areas of our lives that need more discipline.  I find myself rationalizing my wrongs, instead of correcting them.

For instance, I have been getting on the computer first thing in the morning, checking email, blog stats, facebook, twitter, you know the routine.  I know the Lord wants my focus to be on Him.  There is nothing wrong with emails and social media as long as they don’t become idols of worship and take the place of my Lord.

I am afraid that is what has been happening.  I finally stopped making excuses and just came before the Lord confessing the wrong focus of my time.  He should come first in everything, especially my day.  There are days when I wake up, and I want to read my Bible, but the pull of the computer is so great.  I tell myself that I will only get on for a few minutes, then I will spend time in the Word.  Before I know it, the minute has turned into a large chunk of time, kids start getting up, the day starts calling my name and the time in the Word gets put aside.

I desire to spend more time in the Word, at least my spirit does.  My flesh keeps pulling, telling me that I must answer emails and comments or no one will want to comment again.  My flesh says that if I don’t stay on top of the blogging stuff, my stats won’t go up.  No one will “Like” me.  No one will “follow” me.

Mark 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness;  and all these things shall be added unto you.

The appetite of the flesh continues to grow if we continue to feed it.  It will never be satisfied, but will always seek more and more.  So is the appetite of the spirit.  If we choose to feed our spiritual appetite, it will hunger and thirst for even more.

There are days that I just don’t feel like reading the Word and spending time prayer.  What I feel like is lounging in front of the computer.  If I feed my flesh more computer time, the next day it will only want more.  If I say no to my flesh, and feed my spirit the nurturing food it needs, then tomorrow I will crave even more of God’s Word.

It reminds me of my kids.  When we eat junk food, they ask for more junk food.  It is only a matter of time before they are telling me how hungry they are.  However, if I feed them something rich in nutrients, and I continue doing this over a period of time, pretty soon their desire for the junk seems to diminish.

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:  for they shall be filled.

I want to be filled.  I want to hunger and thirst after righteousness more than I hunger for this world.    If this is truly what I want in my life, I must have the self-discipline to keep the computer shut until I have feasted on the Word.

If Homeschool Walls Could Talk: Climbing Out of the Box

Each year that we homeschool, I pray that our homeschool would be a little bit of school and a whole lot of home.

When we first started homeschooling 10 years ago, I was sooo green.  I had never met a homeschooling family until the year before we decided to homeschool.  All I knew was public school.  So when I started teaching my second grader and my preschooler, I just brought what I knew to the table.  We had the flag hung up, the globe on the shelf, the maps on the wall, and of course the workbooks on the table.  Now there is nothing wrong with these things, it’s just that everything about our homeschool was scripted.  My preconceived notions were telling me I had to do x, y, and z, or else my children were not learning.

Over the years, I have learned to become more relaxed in my homeschooling approach, and as a result, the learning in our home has become so much richer–more authentic, more spontaneous, more dynamic.

The less our day looks like school, the more learning has filled our home.

Each year, I work on letting go of the “yellow bus” mentality and force myself to climb out of the box.

5 Ways We Are Climbing Out of the Box

1. Learning together – This year we are going to focus more on learning together as a family. This is sometimes difficult in homes that have children with wide-ranging ages, but with a little creativity it can be such a blessing. For instance, my oldest daughter is going to be learning anatomy and physiology, my son – biology, and my younger kids will be using Apologia’s Exploring Creation. Together we will be watching Answers in Genesis’ Body of Evidence series.

I also plan to have the older kids available to help when the younger kids do their lessons, possibly even teaching some of the lessons. Teaching others is a great way to cement information in your own mind.

I also wanted to add a note here about my own learning. Sometimes finding time for my own learning is difficult. For many years I have been learning more about herbalism, which includes anatomy and physiology. Why not take this opportunity to do my learning with the kids?

2. Block scheduling – As my children get older, I find that it sometimes works out better to set aside larger chunks of time for each project or subject. When you can really focus on one thing, and place your time and energy into one area, you are often able to be more excellent in your work.

We are going to try this approach with our history, spending concentrated time reading and doing hand-on projects.

3.  Hand-on learning – We are a very crafty family (in a good way)!  I have always loved arts and crafts and I try to tie them into our learning as much as possible.  Although the younger kids do some frivolous cut and paste projects, my goal is to have them working on “real” skills as young as possible.  For the girls, this means learning to sew, to knit and crochet, or to do scrapbooking.  For the boys, hands-on learning might be mechanics (taking about a lawn mower), woodworking, or computer projects.  I try to teach all the kids to cook.

I think we sometimes discount these types of activities as not being true learning.  I believe they teach more than just the skill. They teach how to finish a project, even one that is hard.  Projects teach children how to analyze and use the book learning in real life situations.  Creating knitting patterns puts all that math to good use!

4.  Blogging and business – Recently, my older children have jumped on the blogging train and are working on building up businesses of their own.  In the process, they have learned so many skills that they can apply to other areas of their lives.  As we work on our blogs together, we often talk about different marketing strategies, or the best use of their time and money.  These are things that are hard to grasp from a book, but are better suited to mentorship and apprenticeship.  At the moment, I am their mentor and apprentor, but at some point I hope to find others that would take them under their wing and help them build their ideas, as well as their businesses.

5.  Individualized learning – This is a biggie for me.  I really try to take a look at each child and see who God created them to be.  What does He have in store for their lives, and how should their learning goals reflect this?

There have been times I have gone completely against conventional wisdom because I knew it was best for that particular child.  Some examples include not teaching spelling to a child who was particularly gifted in spelling.  To continue teaching it would have bored her and wasted time that she could use to focus on other areas of learning.

This year, I decided that it would be better for my oldest daughter to take business math instead of calculus.  She is not going to be majoring in any subject that would require higher level math skills.  She does plan on developing her own business where she will need to know business math.

For my son, I had him learn how to type at a young age.  His handwriting is not the greatest, but I could tell that it was not improving by doing handwriting sheets or copywork.  Learning to type has paid off tremendously, as he would much rather work on the computer than write out his work by hand.

There you have it, 5 ways we are climbing out of the box this year! How about you, how are you climbing out of the box?

If Homeschool Walls Could Talk…

This post is part of a link up with some other awesome homeschooling mamas. Make sure you take a few moments to visit them and check out the things they are sharing from behind their homeschooling walls.

Lisa @ The Army Chap’s Wife

Megan @ Half Pint House

Maureen @ Spell Out Loud

Reesa @ Suburban Tree Hugger

Laura @ Day by Day In Our World

Tiffany @ Sweet Phenomena

Jasmine @ Ponder The Path

Lee @ Homeschool Canada

Jimmie @ Jimmie’s Collage

Honey @ Sunflower Schoolhouse

What would your homeschool walls say if they could speak?
Link up a new post or a previous one and come join the party.

 

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