Monday, March 30, 2009

Note Journal

And the notes just keep coming...

(love the squeezed in "Best Mom", which was an afterthought)

And coming...

And coming...

Writing is becoming her constant hobby. If you can't find K (age 6), then she is off writing a note to someone.

And she ALWAYS wants a note back.

So I figured it was time to harness this hobby into a notebook. I took a bunch of her handwriting paper (see last note) and punched holes in it. I put the stack of paper in a folder with the 3 paper clasps and I wrote her the first note introducing our "notebook".

She got up the next morning and found it at the foot of her bed. Immediately she sat at her desk and wrote me back. We have continued with these simple notes this week and it is become such a JOY to both of us.

There is no judgment in spelling, handwriting, or punctuation. But this is truly "school" at its finest!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Our school table

After doing a bit of rearranging in our house, I was able to fit this little table upstairs against the wall. It is in the main room, only a few feet from our kitchen table.

Doing school work at the kitchen table was driving me crazy and even just a few feet away makes a huge difference! Before this table, I felt like we were constantly mixing food and school work. I don't mind reading aloud while we eat, but most school work needed to be separated from our time to eat.

At least those were MY goals when I set this little area up.

I had no idea how much this little table would improve our school environment.

Our school books are more accessible, so K (age 6) often walks over and completes some schoolwork done without being told. Somedays she just works quietly on writing or drawing at the table. Most days she initiates the start of our school time at the table.

Of course, the biggest benefit has been the change for me. Suddenly, I sit there and STAY THERE while we do our Explode the Code, Handwriting, Math, and Phonics. When she gets started on something she can do alone, I don't find myself emptying the dishwasher or quickly getting something done.

I may be only a few feet from the kitchen, but I am far enough away that I am not tempted to "get a little done" once she is working on a task. Prior to this little table area, I was continually walking away to organize something, clean something, or pick something up. There is always something to be done in the kitchen.

But now I sit. Competely focused.

She LOVES this. I am there the whole time and I comment on her work as she does it. Often, it turns into so much more than I could have ever planned. The girls take rabbit trails with math and reading that I would not have planned. We have discussions that weren't on the agenda. Sometimes they are about school, but often they are just about life.

All because I am completely focused for an entire hour on them. No dishes. No picking up. Nothing except me, them and a pile of great academic material.

I realized the change immediately, but didn't know if it impacted them until this week. My daughter did some of her school work at bible class on Tuesday without me. She pulled out her handwriting to show me and said, "I missed you when I did my handwriting today."

Thank you Lord for the gift of this little table. It was given to us so long ago and has sat in the garage. Thank you for the blessing uninterrupted school time and conversation with my girls that this table has helped to create. It may be little, but You have used it to make a huge difference in our day. Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Maybe it is sinking in....

So I really haven't changed anything since I posted that note yesterday. K (age 6) wrote that about 3 weeks ago and I haven't been the "quickest" lately about posting.

In that time, she began, "Handwriting without Tears," Grade one. The Grade One book does a lot more copywork of sentences and we have had a little chat or two about end punctuation and spacing.

This morning, she wanted to write a note to her bible study teacher, so she quickly wrote one while I got D (age 2) dressed:

It appears that our little chats here and there are sinking in! There is some good spacing and I see some end punctuation!

(and the spelling was great too!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Long Winded

K, age 6, is getting more and more excited about writing. She writes notes, lists, and information for us all of the time.

I found this letter the other day sitting on a shelf.

Either that is the longest sentence known to mankind


It's time to begin some simple grammar. Like the use of a period.

It is so much fun to see her writing and spelling develop, with or without periods!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Tonight, K (age 6), was praying at bedtime. She had a long list of things that she thanked God for. In the midst of her list...

"...and thank you for humans, mammals, and grasslands, and homeschool..."


Yes Lord, thank you. Thank you for her ability to learn, her love for your world, and the opportunity to homeschool.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A firm foundation

(originally posted on my main blog, but I wanted to post it for my homeschooling blog as well)

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

Matthew 7:24-27

I have been pondering these verses for the last few days. My head is filled with thoughts, decisions, and prayers as I read this text. I'll see if I can make any sense of it here on my blog.

Jesus is the firm foundation I want my children to build their lives upon. I want my children to be the like wise man who hear His words and put them into practice. Of course, that means learning His Word and putting it into practice daily in our home.

But I fear that too often I get focused on the wrong materials for them to use as a foundation. I am amazingly distracted by the things of this world.

Currently I am planning their 2009-2010 school year. I am truly excited about some of the ideas I have and can't wait to begin a year with some experience under my belt. But I find myself getting wrapped up in goals and standards of the world.

Shouldn't they study some classical composers? At what point will be begin Latin? I know their friends have learned things we haven't yet.

And what about sports? K (age 6) is going to be great at swim team and I know T (age 4) is going to love soccer. Do we begin this year or next? Do I really make them pick just one? But what if they are good at more than that?

And even worse, I begin to feel that tiny voice of pride as I plan their year. My plans begin to make me "feel good" about the wonderful knowledge MY kids will have.

And so it goes...

Until I hear the voice of God gently reminding me to build their foundation on HIM and not things that are temporal.

Luke 21:33, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

It's not that Latin, classical music, artistic pursuits, sports, or anything I ponder are bad things. In fact, they are great things and God may use my children in MIGHTY ways as they pursue these various pursuits. But without a foundation built on the knowledge of and obedience to His Word, then they are in danger of a foundation that is easily swept away.

And as I was pondering these things, I came across this post at A Holy Experience. It made me begin to think eve more about these things.

I have no clue how Satan will attack my children, but I know that he will. I don't know what weaknesses He will find in their hearts, but like my own weaknesses, he will use them to whisper lies about God and themselves. He will tempt them and distract them from the pursuit of their God given callings.

I have no clue what tragedies may strike during their livetimes. Will death come close to home for them? Will they experience heartbreak, loss, wounded pride, anxiety, or deep hurt?

I am sure they will. We live in a fallen world. Satan will attack. Tragedy will come. Heartbreak, dissappointment, and failure will be part of their lifetime and their life stories.

Will they be ready? Will their foundation be solid? Will they be able to hear His voice whispering words of truth and purpose into their lives or will have built a foundation on things that will be washed away, leaving them lost, confused, and in doubt of God?

It will not be the history songs they memorized, their ability to diagram a sentence, or the sports trophies that will bring them securely and confidently through life's storms.

It is God and their obedience to His Word.

Right now, I can't help but prayerfully ponder how I will encourage them to be truly ready.

Friday, March 13, 2009


We've been learning about the orchestra at Classical Conversations. Musicians have come to perform each week so the children can hear and see various instruments. My girls have heard a violin, a french horn, and a flute, which has been great because piano is the only instrument they are exposed to.

Of course, they both determined that week that they would play the violin, but we are going to give it some time.

Today they had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra! The orchestra offers daytime educational concerts for children for $6.

SIX DOLLARS for a 45 minute orchestra performance! And best of all, the homeschoolers get to sit in the box seats.

So this morning, my children and their daddy sat in the first row of a center box seat to watch a 45 minute orchestra performance. Their daddy was quite excited about it. While the girls loved it, they have no clue how spoiled they were to enjoy the orchestra that way!

What was your favorite part of the performance?

T (age 4): My favorite part was when the flamingo came in and danced.
K (age 6): The dancing.

(yes, they have a story teller, dancers and actors during different pieces to help the children understand the story behind the music)

What was your favorite instrument?

T: The harp.
K: The flute.

They were both excited about the "HUGE harp" and the "HUGE cellos" which K informed her little sister were the double basses.

I am so thankful for the opportunties like this one: A day to enhance their education and spend some special time with daddy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Our Family Portrait

We visited a new co-op group last Friday. The kindergarten class was beginning their study of, "My Body". The first lesson was about the skeleton and your bones.

My girls really enjoyed drawing their "X-Ray" using white chalk on black paper.

That afternoon we looked in a science book at the skeletal system and talked about it. K (age 6) decided to draw more X-Ray's.

So now we have a family portrait like none other...

Uh....I have no words.

Though I do wonder why I am about the size of T's (age 4) torso.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Baltimore National Aquarium Field Trip

I love field trips! It is so much fun to get out in the "real world" and experience things with my children.

Last year my friend, Kim, and I took these four little ones to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

We got to do it again this year with the same four little ones. My our children have grown!

The girls were ready to get started!

Kim and I can't quite believe we were homeschooling mom chaperones! We have known each other since high school and as adults, Kim was my anti-homeschooling friend....LOL!

No trip to the aquarium is complete without a visit to the bubble tubes!

And then you look at tanks. Lots and lots of tanks. First we checked out stingrays.

And then we checked out a ton of fish in all shapes, sizes, and colors!

Our aquarium has a rain forest exhibit on the top level. It really helps to have binoculars so that your kids can try to find the birds who are free flying around the area.

Binoculars are also helpful in the Australia exhibit as there are free flying birds and bats. You are meant to sit and take it in for a little while.

The idea of observing the creatures with her binoculars was right up K's alley! I guess my parents are rubbing off on her. They constantly have her watching birds! It came quite naturally for her to watch the birds...

get excited when she saw one...

And then come to tell me all about it!

Of course, T had gotten tired of that old fashion way of using binoculars. She preferred to make the fish appear FAR away by turning her binoculars backwards.

What fun! They both made it the whole day, but were exhausted by the end.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

First Born Daughter

I am a first born daughter. And I act like one. At least the "typical" image given by textbooks.

It's one reason that I love schedules, organization, agendas, and lists. Remember those gorgeous schedules I created at the start of the New Year? Oh they were so lovely! They were working so well.

But they have a problem.

They didn't take into account teething two year olds, stomach flus, colds, field trips, non-stop interruptions to our routine, surprise events, and many other things that seem to occur daily. Monday seems to be the only "routine" day around here.

So I gave up. I tossed 'em and we just do our work as we can.

But I have a first born daughter. And she misses the beauty of the schedule.

So today, she went to the other room and created one. On her own.

We followed her schedule to the letter and she loved it. It is hanging on the fridge in anticipation for tomorrow.

Oh that first born daughter of mine and I have much in common.