THSC Homeschool Convention {Calling All Texas Bloggers}

When we moved back to Texas 3 years ago, our plan was to buy a home and stay a while. We were so excited to finally be settled after years of being moved around in the Air Force. Little did we know that this would be the most unsettled time in our lives. Jobs have come and gone. Buying the house has fallen through. We cried out, “Lord, show us what we need to do, where we need to go, how do we get there!”

Silence.

We waited when we felt we couldn’t wait another day. We listened even though we couldn’t hear. When doors opened we walked through them even when we couldn’t see.

Jamie moved to Ohio to take a job with an airline company. We planned to follow behind after a few months, but he knew right away that is not where we needed to be. After months of waiting he was offered a job at Randolph AFB in San Antonio. In a matter of a few weeks, little pieces of the puzzle begin to appear and the picture became clearer. God working good for those who love Him and are called to His purpose.

One of those puzzle pieces was something very unexpected. As we were looking at all our options, I came across a job opening at the Texas Home School Coalition. Surprisingly I had never heard of them before. As I dug deeper, I found that not only are they a Christian homeschool organization that supports and defends homeschooling rights in Texas, they also work to protect family and parental rights as well.

When I read the job description for a website administrator, I knew it would be a great fit for me. Ten hours a week, I get paid to do something that is so much fun for me! And I can do it in the comfort of my rocking chair surrounded by legos and toy dinosaurs!

Image Credit: sprittibee.com

Image Credit: sprittibee.com

THSC Convention in Arlington

Next week, I will be headed to Arlington to attend my first ever THSC Convention. It has been a while since I have attended a convention. The last convention I attended was four years ago. It was during that convention that I found out my mom’s cancer had returned. I drove home crying.

The Lord knows I need some new inspiration in my homeschool. Years of being unsettled have caused me to lose some of the joy and excitement of homechooling. I have hunkered down to get through life and I am so ready to spread my wings out and really enjoy this work I am called to do.

One of the great little treats at the convention is an evening session called “Encouragement by Chocolate”.

yes, two please

While the word chocolate definitely gets me in the door, I truly am more excited about the topic of this session “Warrior Mother: Fight FOR the Kids and Not WITH Them”. I can’t say that I fight with my kids very often, but I have really been pressed to fight for them this year. As your children get older and move out of the house, so many times there is nothing you can do to protect and lead them other than just pray, pray, pray! I am really looking forward to the encouragement to be the warrior mother God created me to be.

The convention should be an exciting time for everyone in the family! Besides the children’s and teen’s programs, we plan on taking the kids to the “Amazing Chemistry Show”. I know that my boys are going to LOVE the “fire, explosions, foam, and fun” that is promised in the 150 hands-on science experiments! My 7 years old watches the King of Random on YouTube and is fascinated by these types of projects.

Image Credit: sprittibee.com

Image Credit: sprittibee.com

Fellowship

While I am looking forward to all the activities at the convention, it will be such a blessing to just be with other like-minded families. As a Christian homeschooling family, this world can really start to feel like a long bumper car ride. There is nothing so sweet as the fellowship between like-minded believers.

I have briefly met a couple of my co-workers from THSC, but it will really be nice to sit and chat with them and get to know them better. I can’t say enough about the warm welcome I have received while working with this organization.

I am also looking forward to meeting several other bloggers while I am there. {Heather from Sprittibee, Lana of ILoveMy5Kids, Esther of Laugh With Us, and Betsy of Family Style Homeschooling} I am part of a VIP Blogging Team and have been asked to speak on a blogger panel Saturday afternoon and host a blogger meet-up! THSC would like to develop a relationship with bloggers all across Texas. They realize the connection we have to our homeschooling communities and they are reaching out to us so that we can better reach out to those around us.

2016-THSC Arlington Home School Convention

So if any of you would like to join me at the meet-up, I would love to see you there! I can even give you a coupon code for 20% off your registration. This coupon code is good not only for the convention registration, but for all the extras as well. So bring your kiddos and hubby, because there really is something for everyone. They even have a toddler play area, where you will probably find my 2 year old–and me–much of the day! The meet-up is Saturday from 2:30-3:30 and there will be snacks and goodies on hand for you all to enjoy. Hope you can make it!

Here is the scoop on joining the THSC blogger meet-up…

Every blogger that attends will receive:

1. 20% off their tickets and ALL EXTRAs & Children’s programs – that’s 20% across the board at checkout on the registration page!

2. A chance to network IRL (in-real-life) with other local bloggers (and snacks) if you attend the Homeschool Blogger Special Fellowship hour from 2:30-3:30 PM Central on Saturday in Arlington (more info on The Woodlands later)

3. A chance to have your blog listed on the Texas (or friends of Texas) homeschool blogroll on their website just for showing up at the Saturday social and coming to the convention.

4. Promotion of your blog posts if you are listed on the blogroll and inclusion on a special THSC Homeschool Blogger facebook page where you can do some online networking with all the ladies you met in real life at THSC this year! That means you’ll have ongoing friendships and promotion of your material long after the conference is over!

Here’s all they ask you to do if you want to get involved:

1. Snag one of the buttons on this page (or go copy the code on their own site – once they have their blogger page up and running!) and place it in your blog’s sidebar until after the conferences are both over for 2016. You can link these buttons to the following website url:

Texas Home School Coalition Convention

Here are the buttons. To download, just right click and select download image. Then upload it to your own WordPress or blog image hosting service for you to place in your sidebar and blog posts along with the link above. If you have any questions or need to know how to resize them with a quick html cheat, feel free to email me!

2016-texas-team-blogger-button

2016-convention-team-blogger-button

2. Go register for the conference of your choice (either Arlington or The Woodlands) with the homeschool blogger 20% off code: BLOGGER16

(If you’ve already registered, just shoot them an email to lindsey.sears@thsc.org and they will refund you!)

3. Set the date on your calendar with a reminder to be at the Homeschool Blogger Special Fellowship at 2:30-3:30PM Saturday, May 7th (if you are coming to Arlington’s conference… and I’ll update this post later with the exact time for the one for The Woodlands).

4. Fill out this THSC Homeschool Blogger Google form AFTER you register so we can add you to the THSC Facebook blogger group and their Texas (or surrounding state) homeschool blogroll on the THSC website!

5. Use these hashtags (at least one or two per post, alternated) with your social media shares so we can follow you online and share your posts: #THSCConventions, #THSCKnowsTX, #THSC

That’s it. All you have to do after that is show up and bring your business cards (if you have them, I have yet to order any) and a smile to share with all of us homeschool mamas who want to meet you IRL!

Let me know if you are going to make it–I would love to chat in person!

Hello, It’s Me

I feel like I am walking into an old house, wiping away cobwebs as I go. I didn’t expect to write here anymore. So many voices online that it sometimes gets hard to think, and even harder to be heard. But I have come to realize something that many long time bloggers already know, we are not writing for you, but for ourselves. As I type, the words that appear are the words that I need to release. They are the stories and thoughts and contemplations that fill my mind, pressing for release. I am a writer and I express myself through written words. So here I am again, dusting off the old blog. Finding my voice after a time of silence. Not placing any requirements on myself other than to let the words find their way out.

Pearson Homeschool enVisionMATH

Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.

Pearson's Homeschool enVisionMATH Review

With a new baby arriving at this spring, our school year was cut short while everyone adjusted to another family member and Mom recovered. However, I found that not do school was actually more difficult than doing school, so we started up our “new” school year in May. {I love how I can make up my own rules like that!}

By public school standards, I have a new student this year. My five year old will be starting kindergarten, although in actuality he is already halfway through 100 Easy Lessons (reading) and a complete math whiz. That is why I was so excited to try Pearson’s Homeschool enVisionMATH for 1st grade with him.

Pearson Homeschool enVisionMATH

I had looked at the Pearson’s website to see if I thought the math would be a good fit for him. The first grade level starts out pretty basic with number recognition, greater than/less than, and simple addition and subtraction. I felt like this is probably the level he should be working on.

The Pearson’s Homeschool enVisionMATH 1st grade math kit comes with a consumable tablet for the student, a teacher’s guide on CD, and an interactive game on CD.

Consumable Tablet

I immediately knew that I liked the format for the tablet. I had never seen one like it before. Each days lesson is torn out of the tablet and folded in half to make a “booklet” for the child to work on. I don’t know about your first graders, but my first graders usually bend the binding of their notebooks, take their pencils and draw in the creases, scribble on the page edges. By the end of the year their notebooks are barely holding together. I really like the idea of just giving them the days work (which lays flat and easy to work on) and keeping the rest of the tablet put away until needed.

I really liked the fact that the lessons are broken up into sections, especially for a 1st grade level. Even though my son loves math and does very good at it, long lessons would not keep his interest. With the Pearson’s enVisionMATH, he gets to work on a skill for a few minutes, then work on another, and another. Even though these skills are related and build on each other, he feels like he is doing different things so he doesn’t get bored.

The most exciting thing for my son was the “games” in the tablet. Each unit has a game that reinforces the concepts learned in the unit. They are very simple games that can be played by 2 players, but it great fun for Isaac to take a break from the “school work” and play a game.

Pearson's Homeschool enVisionMATH Review

Teacher’s Guide on CD/

I will be honest. I wasn’t thrilled when I saw that the teacher’s guide was on CD. It always seems cumbersome to try and figure out what to do on the computer then do the lesson away from the computer. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the structure of the teacher’s guide is laid out very well and makes it extremely user friendly.

For instance, each lesson has additional printables and a interactive math story that goes along with it. What I liked was that there is a picture of the printable that you need for that lesson and you can click on the picture to print it out right then. No hunting around trying to find what printable goes with what lesson!

The teacher’s guide also has lots of “extras” that can be used to reinforce the skills being taught. There are strategies for teaching students that are behind or need extra help in learning the concepts. There are also ideas for helping the gifted learner reach their full potential. This is wonderful because there are times when our students may fall into each of these categories (or we may be teaching children of different ages).

Pearson's Homeschool enVisionMATH Review

Interactive Game on CD

According to my son, the quiz show math game is the best thing about his new math curriculum! In fact, I often have to make him finish up his “math” so that he can move on to other schoolwork.

The interactive game on CD is set up similar to a quiz show, allowing students to play against each other or the computer. The quiz questions are math problems that the student has been learning in their lessons. The students are able to play at the level they are studying. For instance, when my son is studying unit 2, he clicks on the unit 2 quizzes.

The only problem we have had with the game is that my son doesn’t read proficient enough to play completely by himself. However, he has a sister that is more than willing to sit with him and read the quiz questions, especially if it means she can put off some of her own schoolwork!

I like the quiz show game because it reinforces the lessons being taught, but it is fun for my son so he doesn’t realize he is spending so much time learning. If we spent the same amount of time just sitting and doing problems on paper, he would quickly tire out and want to quit.

Discounts on Pearson’s Homeschool Kits

Get 25% off any K-6 enVisionMath bundle through August 15th using Promo Code BLG25

Follow the links for the math level you are interested in:
Kindergarten
1st grade
2nd grade
3rd grade
4th grade
5th grade
6th grade

Get 25% off with code BLG25 on
● enVisionMath Bundle Grades K6
● myWorld Social Studies Bundle Grades K6
● MCP Plaid Phonics Bundle Grades K6
● Interactive Science Bundle Grades K5
Valid through Aug. 15, 2014.

Make sure to checkout Pearson around the web on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+!

Showers of Blessings

Showers of Blessings @jasminejlucero

I am sitting next to window watching the rain pour down as my new baby boy naps on my chest. Today has been such a good day after so many not-so-good days. We are in a drought here in Texas and the dryness seemed to penetrate every aspect of our lives. Today I am focusing on the showers of blessings.

After more than a year of not working, my husband just left to accept a job at a local tractor dealership. When we were first married almost 22 years ago, he was working for his dad’s tractor repair business. He made a whopping $800 a month, which we lived on the first year we were married. He joined the Air Force to pay the bills, but now that he has retired it is such a blessing for him to go back to doing what he loves.

I didn’t realize it until yesterday when he was offered the job, but I mentally put my life on hold. Not knowing what the future holds will do that to you. I tried not to let, really I did. I planted some tomatoes in the garden in an effort to “bloom where I’m planted”. And we even officially joined our church as members this month.

But there are those subtle messages that play in my mind. I haven’t opened up and fully embraced living here just in case we had to pick up and leave. There are very few pictures on my walls and I have made do with the living arrangement in the house.

Once he found out about the job, it seemed like a huge relief poured over me. Not only because we needed him to work, but because it gave us direction, a road map. I know that we never really know what the future holds, but at least now we on a path rather than floundering without a course to follow.

And as we were given a small window to see what lies ahead, our oldest daughter is also embarking on her own new path. She is being launched as a mighty arrow into this world for God’s glory. As she finished up her second year of midwifery studies, she has been given the opportunity to apprentice with a midwife near Ft. Worth. She will be rooming-in at the birthing center with another young apprentice.

As hard as it is going to be to let her go, what a blessing it is to see how the Lord is using her for His purpose. She has such a heart for God and His ways and a willingness to serve Him. What more could a parent ask for? All these years of training and teaching. All those moments of feeling like I was failing, and yet God redeemed what feeble attempt I made at raising a child.

And to further give testimony to what the Lord has done, my son walks into my room and lays down on the bed. He nonchalantly mentions that he made a “B” in his college algebra class. After I probed, he said he made an “A” in government. My son is 16 years old and took these classes as a high school Junior. This is a young man that was a hyper little boy who didn’t learn to read until after he was 10. He has struggle in school although I always knew he was super smart, he just learned different. I can’t wait to see all that the Lord has in store for Him. I pray that he would walk with the Lord all the days of his life.

Now that I am finishing this post, the rain has ceased but the refreshment it has brought is long lasting. I am anxious to see the new growth that will spring forth both on the earth and in our family. Ideas are swirling in my head as I start to plan for all the things that have been on hold during the drought.

Showers of Blessings
(beautiful hymn that reminds of the times we would sing it in Spain)
Dan­i­el W. Whit­tle

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need;
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

There shall be showers of blessing—
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

There shall be showers of blessing;
Send them upon us, O Lord!
Grant to us now a refreshing;
Come, and now honor Thy Word.

There shall be showers of blessing;
O that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!

There shall be showers of blessing,
If we but trust and obey;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
If we let God have His way.

The Christian Herbal Launch Day Giveaway!

The Christian Herbal Launch Day Giveaway!

From My Heart

The more I study herbal medicine, the greater my desire to share that knowledge with others. I am beginning to realize that I learn more when I am teaching others. Funny how God created us that way!

Anyhow, this website has been on my heart for many years now. There are so many Christians in the world who are now realizing the amazing gift that herbs are to us, but solid Christian-based herbal wisdom has dwindled to near extinction.

However, God always provides a remnant, and so it is with herbal teachers. Few and far between as they may be, the knowledge of herbalism is being spread and Christian families are once again able to use the plants all around us to nourish and doctor our families.

Not to sound like an alarmist, but our country’s medical system is becoming so flawed that many Christians are looking for other options. And while we may not be equipped for medical emergencies and serious problems, we can take the small step of learning to build up our family’s health (prevention) and treat the smaller problems that come up in the course of living.

Launch Day Giveaway

With all that said, I am super excited to finally get this website up and running. There is so much information I would like to share! But as a homeschooling mom of soon-to-be seven kiddos, there just isn’t time in the day to get everything done I would like. So I will work diligently to do what I can, and I pray that others would come along beside me and join as teachers of the great gift of herbalism!

To officially launch The Christian Herbal, I have some great gifts that I would like to give to one of my readers. Several companies have stepped up and offered to donate prizes to the giveaway, and I think you will find them to be rather AWESOME!!!

Bulk Herb Store

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.

Prize: Beginner’s Herb Kit
Contains: Snooze Tincture, Less Stress Herba-Smoothie, Cough Tea, Double-E Immune Booster, Red Rooibos Spice Chai Tea, Peppermint Leaf Cut, Rise and Shine Tea

Mountain Rose Herbs

Mountain Rose Herbs Essential Oils @jasminejlucero

Prize: Classic Essential Oil Kit
Contains all certified organic oils of: Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary and Tea Tree

Trilight Health

Trilight Health @jasminejlucero

Prize: Trilight Liquid Herbs
$50.00 gift certificate toward the purchase of Trilight products.

Natural Herbal Living

Prize: 5 Issues of Natural Herbal Living magazine
Issues include: Rose, Ginger, Rosemary, Elder, Echinacea + Bonus: Approaching a Personal Herbal Practice, Herbalism Basics, and Safety Information

Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Botany

Exploring Creation with Botany @jasminejluceroBotanyNBJ

Prize: Exploring Creation with Botany plus Botany Notebooking Journal

The Christian Herbal

medical herbalism @jasminejlucero

Prize: Medical Herbalism by David Hoffmann

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Back from a Break

I was looking for something on my blog the other day (I frequently do that–blogs make great areas to store all the things we would like to keep in our minds but don’t have the room for), when I realized that I hadn’t posted anything since August 31st. It’s been a long time! I feel like August 31st was a lifetime ago. Where has the time gone?

New Baby on the Way

For me, I have been working hard at many projects. The largest project is my growing belly. We are expecting baby #7 at the end of March. Right now the boys and girls are tied so this baby will be a tie-breaker. Will it be a boy? Will it be a girl? Everyone is anxiously awaiting the baby’s arrival to find out!

We are planning on having this baby at home with a midwife. The last 2 babies have been born at home…one unassisted and one with the midwife. I usually have fairly quick and non-complicated births so I am praying the same for this baby. Although I must confess that with each baby I seem to get a little more fearful as birth approaches. I don’t know if it is because I know that theoretically more problems can occur as you get older or what, but I really struggle to just lay it at the feet of Christ.

Shoulder bag @jasminejlucero

Projects Galore

This year’s Christmas celebration was full of handmade gift giving. The girls and I worked feverishly right up until Christmas day to get our gifts finished. I don’t even think I got pictures of most of them. But I thought I would share a few pictures that I do have.

This year I made 4 bags for some of the older girls in the family. I made a crayon roll-up bag and a knitting needle roll-up bag for 2 others. One daughter received a notebook cover with a sketch pad and drawing pencils. And the newest member of the family got a snuggly new baby quilt.

Knitting Case @jasminejlucero

After Christmas I cleaned up the sewing room and I haven’t sat down to sew since. It’s funny how things in life seem to come in waves. It used to bother me, because I felt like I was leaving some things unattended. As I have gotten older, the waves have become more comfortable. I don’t feel the pull of things left undone until the next wave comes again. And I know that when I am ready, the sewing will be there.

The Christian Herbal @jasminejlucero

A New Adventure

There is a saying, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you”. I feel that way about blogging and being active online. It can become so competitive and faces come and go. But if you are still reading, even after my absence, I feel as though I can call you a friend.

And as a friend, I would like to invite you over to a new little project I have been working on. Over the last few years, I have really felt a need to increase my herbal medicine knowledge and to share what I learn with others. I have written on Ponder the Path about herbalism and have always been met with a supportive response.

I know there are many of you out there who would love to learn more about herbalism. You want to be able to nourish and doctor your families. You want to know more about the wonderful medicine God has provided.

I am so excited to announce that next week, I am officially launching my new website The Christian Herbal. I am slowly (did I mention I am 7 months pregnant) working on a curriculum to systematically teach herbal medicine. I should have module 1 up by next week. I also have some great interviews with herbalists, articles about Christians using herbs, and of course herbal recipes and remedies.

One important feature of the new site is the community forum. I have set up a forum so that as Christian herbalists we have a place to discuss herbalism with a Christian worldview. I invite you to please join me there, as I really would like to fellowship with other herbalists who think like I do (or at least little bit like I do 😉 ).

I am also looking for contributors to the site, so if any of you would write for The Christian Herbal, please contact me!

Until next time (whenever that may be), blessings to you all!

Cultivating a Love of Science

Science Experiment - Cultivating a Love of Science @brightideasteam @jasminejlucero

When I was a youngster, one of my least favorite subjects in school was science. There were always so many foreign terms to memorize and the lessons were all so…scientific. Everything we learned in the classroom stayed in the classroom. There was no relating the science to anything else in my daily life, and to me, this made science useless.

It wasn’t until I became a homeschooling mother years later that my attitude toward science began to change. I began to see science all around me and appreciate how well it really did integrate itself into my daily life. I also began to wish I had paid more attention to those boring science classes!

Join me at Bright Ideas Press where I am sharing how to cultivate a love of science in your children!

Learning a Foreign Language with italki

italki logo @jasminejlucero

What is italki?

There is no doubt that the internet has changed the way we learn, opening up doors of opportunity not previously available to most people. italki is an innovative language website that takes full advantage of these newfound opportunities.

italki provides foreign language lessons with native speakers/teachers to students located all over the world. Students are able to practice their language skills one-on-one with a “real” person who speaks and uses the language with great proficiency.

All this is done from the convenience of your home using Skype.

How italki Works

After signing up for an italki account, users are able to browse the profiles of hundreds of instructors. Searches can be narrowed by language, country the teacher is located in, other languages the teacher speaks, and the cost of lessons from that teacher (each teacher sets their own prices).

Once you decide on a teacher, you may purchase italki credit (ITC) to be used in scheduling lessons. Because there are so many currencies involved, having a common ITC makes it easier for everyone to keep track of the cost in their own currency. For those using the U.S. dollar as their currency, you can purchase 200 credits for $20 (not including a small processing fee of approximately 2-3%).

iTalki credit @jasminejlucero

The amount of credit required for each session varies greatly depending on the teacher (experience level, skill level), the language, length of lesson, and other factors. Several of the teachers do offer shorter classes for children (30 minutes instead of 60) and the price is adjusted accordingly.

iTalki sessions @jasminejlucero

After ITC has been purchased, the next step is scheduling a lesson. In order to schedule a lesson, you first click on the teacher of your choice and choose the desired lesson. Some instructors offer package deals with multiple lessons at a discounted rate. Next, check the calendar for available days and times. A note of caution here–times are given in what I call military time. Meaning 2:00 in the afternoon is really 14:00. Remember, the teachers may be on the other side of the world, so offering classes at 2:00 in the morning may be most convenient for them. Makes sure you pick a time most convenient for you!

iTalki calendar @jasminejlucero

Now that you have scheduled a class, the only thing left to do is show up for class. You do this by logging into Skype a few minutes before class time and wait for a call from or message from the instructor letting you know they are ready to begin.

Our italki Experience

I feel it is so important for each of our children to study a foreign language. Having lived in two “foreign” countries, I have seen the benefits of knowing more than one language first hand! Besides the obvious need to communicate with others, knowing a foreign language is beneficial on so many levels.

Why Learning a Foreign Language is Important

  • spreading the Gospel – there is no greater gift than being able to share the Gospel with the unsaved in their mother language
  • opening doors – there are so many opportunities given to those who speak more than one language. These opportunities may be education, employment, or simply the ability to help those in need.
  • brain development and learning – when you learn other languages, the brain makes connections that enhance learning in other areas. Overall language skills improve, critical thinking is increase, and much more!

We have given each our children the opportunity to choose a language that interest them. My oldest daughter is fluent in Spanish and my son, who is a Junior in high school, is studying Japanese. My third child, Maddie, just turned 11 and has decided to study French in hopes of one day visiting Haiti.

Getting Started

Maddie has only been studying French for a few months. She is still what I would consider at a basic level, working on learning new vocabulary. Previously, she did not use a set curriculum to study French. I just found resources at the library or online to let her get her feet wet.

She has been very anxious to learn more and was very excited to try italki. The first thing we did was choose a teacher for her based on the recommendations of italki. They have set up a homeschool friendly page with suggested teachers who have experience teaching younger children. Honestly, I was so thankful for the recommendation as I would have had no idea who to choose from among so many teachers. We read through each of the recommended teacher profiles and chose one that we felt would be a good match for Maddie.

iTalki conversation @jasminejlucero

The Lessons

The lessons began with Maddie’s teacher calling her by video on Skype. The first couple of lessons she took were a bit of a technical struggle. We had gotten on Skype before hand to make sure everything was working, but for some reason our video stream didn’t work right away. Both times, my son was able to get things worked out, but it was a disappointment to miss the first 5-10 minutes of the lesson trying to figure out the technicalities.

However, once we had the video up and running the lessons went very smoothly. Each time, Maddie’s instructor, Lea, would go over different vocabulary words. Most of the time she spoke solely in French. At first, it was a little difficult for Maddie because she was unsure of what was being asked and didn’t know what she was required to do. But as time went on, she started to understand a little more and was able to participate more fully.

iTalki lesson @jasminejlucero

Lea was a great instructor, full of energy and enthusiasm. She sent Maddie a few handouts for her to print out and work on during her own time. During the lessons she would make the learning fun and engaging by creating visuals or activities to help increase the student’s understanding of the the material.

Final Thoughts

Maddie has taken a total of 6 classes now. She has thoroughly enjoyed the classes and I am pleased with her progress and learning.

I would recommend italki for all levels of language learning. However, I would like to add that while I think it is great for beginners, I think it would be even better for those with a few years of language learning under their belts.

Once a student has a solid vocabulary base, they are then able to use their time with their teacher to vocalize their newfound language skills. This is a skill that is difficult to learn and practice with a curriculum or computer program.

Another thought I would like to add is that while 6 lessons was great to get started, in order for real progress to be made I would recommend a longer commitment to the program. Student would then be able to get comfortable with the teacher, practice getting the words out (much harder than it seems!), and learn to actually speak the language.

In the future, I am hoping to enroll my son with a native Japanese speaker. I know it will be the next best thing to actually going to Japan (which he would love to do…maybe someday)!

Goodbye in different languages @jasminejlucero

Just For You

Ponder the Path readers will receive an additional $10 credit when they register with italki and buy any amount of italki credit.

How to Homeschool When Life Throws You a Curveball

How to Homeschool When Life Throws You a Curveball @jasminejlucero

In the past 12 years of homeschooling, I have…

–homeschooled a second grader and kindergartener with a four month old baby while my husband was in Kuwait for 6 months

–homeschooled while moving at least 9 times including 2 moves overseas and back

–homeschooled 6 kids ages 17 – newborn (who was being treated weekly for club feet) while my husband went back to Spain for 8 months

–homeschooled 6 kids alone in Texas while caring for my terminally ill mother

–homeschooled through many of life’s curveballs including births, deaths, illnesses, miscarriage, financial hardships, and times of being alone

And what I have learned through all of this…

Hebrews 13:5
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I have met many homeschoolers over the years that are what I like to call “fair-weather homeschoolers”. You know, the ones that will homeschool if they are financial able, and if their husband helps, and if everything is just perfect.

I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble and sound pessimistic–but if you hold out waiting for life to be just right in order for you to choose homeschooling (or continue to homeschool), you’re going to be waiting a long time!

The Lord didn’t command us to teach our children in the garden. He commanded it of us in this sin-tainted, death and disease stricken, life-is-hard world. I know that sounds a little harsh, but the reality is that we are to train up our children and teach them diligently even when life is hard…especially when life is hard!

And just how does that happen?

How to Homeschool When Life Throws You a Curveball

1. Keep #1 number 1.

Everything we do in this life should bring glory and honor to our Lord and Savior. He should be our focus during the good times and the bad. There were (and still are) many times that doing any school work was just too much. It was during these times that I would at least try to read from the Bible with the kids, or sing hymns or recite verses or listen to BBN. If I wasn’t able, my oldest daughter would read the Bible to the kids.

You may be so weak or overwhelmed that even this small task seems too much. I would encourage you to find some way to bring Jesus into the picture. If someone asks how they can help, have them read to you and the kids. Turn on an audio version of the Bible (there are some phone apps that do this) and listen from your phone. Call out to the Lord and ask Him make Himself known during this time.

2. Know that the kids are learning.

Sometimes it is easy to focus on academics and forget that true learning happens everyday all around us. And what better thing to learn than the character traits acquired during hardships. How many times my children have had to put other’s needs before their own? How much compassion did they learn as they brought water and food to a dying grandmother? How they have matured as they have given and served those they love!

If they had been in school all day, they would have missed out on the blessings that can only be received when we have empties ourselves of all our wants and desires and became the hands and feet of Jesus.

My oldest daughter is studying to become a midwife. I truly believe that allowing her to experience hardships first hand during her schooling years has allowed to to develop the skills she will need to do the job God has called her to do.

3. Know that this too shall pass.

Right now is not forever. Life changes in an instant, and though we don’t know the road ahead, we do know the one who created the road. He will carry us through this difficult time, and each one that comes our way.

Psalm 30:5
…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Life is like the ebb and flow of the ocean. There will be times of hardship followed by times of joy. I lost my mom last year to cancer, but was able to welcome her namesake into the world this week. Tears of joy flowed as I held my precious niece and thanked God for His mercy and goodness!

joy-in-the-morning @jasminejlucero

Final Thought

I guess I really haven’t given you an outline on “how to homeschool” when life throws you a curveball. Because, well, sometimes life is just too hard to homeschool. And that is OK. Just pull your children close and know there will be time for academics. Just not now. There will be time for reading and writing and arithmetic. Just not now. There will be time for the school learning, but now is the time to be still.

I like to think of it as a race. If you were running a marathon and you fell down and hurt yourself, would you give up and quit the race? Or would you hobble through the next mile, get your groove back, and finish the race you were called to run?

We are all going to hobble around a bit now and then, it is finishing the race that really counts!

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This post and many more are part of the Teach Them Diligently Summer of Encouragement Link Up series! You can read More about How to Stay Encouraged While Homeschooling HERE

Homemade “Storebought” Granola

A few years back I learned to make homemade granola. Boy, I thought I had hit the jackpot. I love granola, but it is rather expensive to buy storebought. I was thrilled to find out I could make it myself at a fraction of the cost. My enthusiasm waned before long because my granola didn’t taste like the storebought kind. Instead of bold exciting flavors, my granola tasted like dried oatmeal and honey. I set out to make a really yummy granola that I would want to eat everyday (ok, maybe not everyday, but at least several times a week).

I started out by reading the ingredients of the storebought granola and tweaking my recipe to include some of the ones I liked. I change it up a bit every now and then, depending on my mood and what I have in the cupboards. Here is the recipe of the moment, but I will include some delish alternatives at the end of the post. Enjoy!

The mix of honey and maple syrup gives the granola a rich flavor without overpowering the other flavors in the granola. I found that by adding in the 1/2 cup of ground flax seed, the granola stuck together a bit better and was clumpier. I like my granola to have chunks in it rather than it being loose oatmeal mixed with nuts and berries.

Like I said before, this is the recipe that tickles my fancy, but you can really change it up and come up with lots of different recipes. Here are a few suggestions to get you going…

granola ingredients @ponderthepath

Flavorings: vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon

Nuts: pecans, almonds, walnuts, pinenuts, peanuts, cashews

Dried fruit: Berries, Raisins, Coconut, Banana Chips

Yummies: Peanut Butter (add in with butter and oil), chocolate chips (add after granola has been cooked and is cooled), orange zest, cocoa powder

How ’bout you? What do like in your homemade “storebought” granola?