Some great homeschool moms from around the country, and you'll find some international ones as the year goes on.
Also loved this simple idea for jazzing up simple paperclips to use as book marks. Practical way tto add a little beauty to that pile on my night stand.
Five J's offers some helpful words for newer homeschoolers. The post also includes links to a number of other posts she has written on the topic of homeschooling.
I often enjoy Amy's beautiful posts and glimpses into her family's life as missionaries in Peru. This post from a couple weeks ago on worship is a perfect example of the powerful quotes she digs up and the artistic way she frames them.
Many more great words to learn from, but these are a sampling of what I have been digesting lately.
A newer website that I need more time to explore . . . Raising homemakers. Check it out, too.
Anyone else have a favorite link to share? Feel free to share the love for a bloggy friend.
Summer has already lasted a little too long. And, really it has yet to begin.
Since Eli's birth kicked off our summer break a little earlier than usual, we have already felt the sting of the summer doldrums.
Last week I felt so energetic that we decided to take our structureless days and give them some direction. We decided to set goals.
Every now and then I feel the need to reset my habits. And, in evaluating my kids' habits, I realized they could benefit from the same. We countered this the easy way, by setting individual goals and sharing them so we can encourage each other to reach them.
I told the kids to each set one goal for each of four categories and gave them some ideas to start with:
Nutrition -- Eating more vegetables than required, not eating sweets, skipping seconds, drinking enough water, etc.
Exercise -- doing sit ups everyday, running around the lake twice, riding the bike for 20 minutes, etc.
Spiritual -- Praying every morning, Reading the Bible everyday, memorizing a verse
Chores or time management -- Doing chores without being asked, getting ready for bed on time, Reading a book each day.
After we each compiled our lists we also came up with rewards for accomplishing them. This was a little more challenging. If I had told my kids they could have sweets for each reward met we would have had an easy time. But, rewarding healthy goals with unhealthy food or habits is not what we are going for.
Some of their rewards: watching a video while exercising, Silly Bands, money, and computer time.
We have enjoyed this method so far and look forward to continuing it through the summer and beyond. It is sometimes hard to be consistent, but it is great to all be in this together and to have some motivation to keep trying even when you struggle.
Any other ideas for rewards? My kids are definitely looking for some other options in that department. The sillybands work, but only for now . . .
We had an amazing thing happen this past week. My son learned a new word, well lots of new words. All because he learned a new sound.
You may remember that a couple months ago I reviewed a product for the TOS Crew called Super Star Speech. I was quite impressed with the product as it helped me pinpoint the areas in my four year old's speech that still needed attention.
This inexpensive book helped me narrow it down to really one tongue formation that needed some work. So, we got to work. For the last couple months, off and on, I have been casually teaching my son to properly form these sounds. Speech therapy is not an overnight accomplishment, but it does still have lightbulb moments.
Super Star Speech gave me the tools and knowledge that I needed to attack this problem, and it was then just a matter of time.
Last week as I changed little Eli's diaper, Nathan was jabbering away as usual. In response to a question I said the word "trick" and Nathan looked carefully at my mouth as I made that last sound. Suddenly his tongue went to work as it had so many times before, but suddenly, instead of "t" or a strange hissing sound, he made the "k" sound!
Anyone that has struggled or had a child struggle with speech can appreciate the thrill of that moment.
I got excited, "That was it, Nathan! That was the sound we have been trying for."
He did it again, and again, some better than others. Then he tried the "g" sound, and also had some success.
Grandma came over and Nathan ran up to show off his new found skill. Now we need to work on blending that sound into the words it fits with. She used to be "Dramma," but now she is suddenly "G--ramma." He always has to pause after making that new sound, but he's getting it.
So, the proof is in the pudding as they say (who knows why . . . ) I knew I loved this program in looking it over, but now we have seen success by implementing the strategies and information presented in this book.
I simply cannot recommend it enough. If you or someone you love needs an experienced guide to help in speech therapy, you absolutely must check out Deborah Lott's Super Star Speech. I wrote her a gushy email and she responded right away with a thank you. She just wants to help. So, I don't know which I appreciated more, the materials, or the lady behind them. Both are amazing.
Mama said there'll be days like this, There'll be days like this Mama said.
Great words of wisdom from the Shirelles.
Life is often chock full of "those days." Days of discouragement, disappointment, failures, doubt, demands, and other overwhelming emotions and experiences.
This past week as I struggled through a day with a fussy baby, too much undone housework to mention, and a schedule full of happenings outside of my control, God gently reminded me of His perspective and control even when I felt lost.
John 16:33 provides great reassurance when it says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
This verse came to mind, but only starting with the "trouble" part. As I went back to look at the full verse I realized that God has prepared me for the trouble this day will bring. Not only does He know what we will experience, He gives us what we need to make it through.
Peace. Not peace like the world gives, but His peace, perfect peace. Eternal peace grounded in truth, not empty promises. Peace in Him, not apart from Him, and not in a clean house or an easy child or a rosy prognosis.
God has overcome the world. He is over and above the pain and troubles we will face. Even though much difficulty lies yet ahead, his conquering has already taken place. It's already confirmed.
No matter what comes, He wins. And, if He wins, and we are walking in Him, we win, too.
Kinda makes you feel like you can take on the world. Or at least that endless pile of dirty laundry or that child continually in need of correction.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
In my verse of the week post I mentioned the struggle of balancing the immediate demands of our day with the truly important need to get into God's Word. He says He stands knocking, but so often we can't hear it, or don't feel we have time to respond to his call in between housework, homeschooling, cooking, and other activities that beg for our attention.
Each new season we must reestablish the importance of time alone with God in our daily schedule. How do we find time where there is none? I have found some helpful ways to keep God at the forefront of my thoughts and make sure that my priorities stay intact, or at least return there without too long of a hiatus.
Keep it Concrete. When my brain is frazzled from lack of sleep, a busy schedule, or a temporary crisis, I struggle to put coherent thoughts together. I don't want my prayer and Bible reading to fizzle during those days when I need it most. During these times I have found concrete tools helpful. Devotional guides (like My Utmost for His Highest, Our Daily Bread, or Today in the Word), reading schedules, and prayer lists are invaluable. I use a prayer calendar so I remember daily to pray for each member of my family, missionaries, church leaders, our nation's leaders, and other timely needs. Without a written guide I would be left to wander through my muddled thoughts and probably spend most of the time praying about my sorry mental state, and likely end up throwing a pity party.
Make it Visible. God's Word can encourage throughout our day, but only if we see it. Post Scripture verses around your house. Leave a New Testament or memory verse card or booklet on the counter, or in the bathroom. Change your screen saver on your computer to some godly encouragement. Even your cell phone can encourage your thinking with a carefully chosen background or ring tone. Verses on the dash board, sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, any where you can squeeze in God's promises -- do it!
Chop, chop. No, I don't mean to hurry more than you are already, I mean to actually chop it up. If I could get up at 4 a.m. and spend two hours of uninterrupted time with God that would be wonderful, but it is simply not realistic. So, I chop it up. Right now I spend quite a bit of time each day nursing, and much of that time is also spent in Bible reading and prayer. With my devotional guide, Bible, and prayer calendar right by where I nurse, I can get a few minutes in each time I sit there. It's definitely broken up, but it also helps me spend a lot more time than I ever would if I had to do it all at once.
Make room. Having a place that contains your Bible, a devotional book, a journal, a prayer calendar, and any other items you find essential during your time with God will help you use those snippets of time. I don't want to waste those rare moments searching for the necessary supplies. Having it all together and easily accessible means I can make the most of those scattered moments throughout the day.
Many other ideas may help at this point that often come up when confronting the challenge of establishing a daily quiet time: find an accountability partner, choose the time of day that works best for you, journal your prayers and thoughts, set goals, have a check off sheet, don't get discouraged when you miss a day, but rather jump back into it as soon as possible.
Finding time for Bible reading and prayer challenges even seasoned Christians, but we can't neglect it simply because it is difficult. Satan would love that attitude.
I love that God wants to walk with me throughout each day, and when I respond to Him, my day becomes one of worship. Not perfectly so, but increasingly one that glorifies Him.
I pray that some of these tips will work for you as they have Worked For Me.
Yes, my precious little boy occasionally looks like this.
You've likely heard the expression "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." A sometimes annoying truth, that those that complain the loudest end up with the most attention, deserving or not.
This week, I realized that my own priorities often fall to this idiomatic truth. Much of a mother's day doesn't flow based on true priorities, but rather by the need of the moment. Who's crying? Who's hurt? Who's hungry? What will cause greater damage if unchecked? Where is the spill that can't be ignored?
Obviously, spilled milk is not as important as paying the bills, but if we don't clean that dripping mess now it will get worse and eventually stink. Some things simply can't wait.
Unfortunately, God can.
He doesn't cry audibly for my attention. He won't run out of clean socks if I don't attend to it. He doesn't bark and whine at the door if I ignore Him too long. He doesn't give me a deadline. He won't ignore me later if I ignore Him now. He won't starve.
Put simply -- He doesn't need me.
But, Revelation 3:20 says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."
My world is so filled with noises demanding my attention that sometimes I overlook that most important sound . . . the gentle knocking, the still small voice. And, in so doing I miss out on the accompanying reward and relationship.
He may not suffer from my neglect of our relationship, but I do.
Spiritually speaking, I will increase in sorrow if I neglect Him. I will run out of patience. I will get whiny and discontent. I will confuse my priorities. I will grow callous. I will starve.
I need Him.
He waits patiently, ignoring the truth of the expression that seems to dominate my day. Finally, I realize anew that what I thought could wait, must remain first.
I need to go answer that gentle knocking, but in a couple days I will share a bit of how I have found it possible to answer the important call first. We know it is necessary, but how?
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Despite the fact that our school year has ended and the kids' teacher is on maternity "leave," the learning continues . . .
Character building -- Does this ever end? Most days I end up on the learning side of these lessons as well. Learning and relearning to put others first, seeking out Scriptures to grow our Christlikeness, finding God in the moment, intentionally placing God in our day, speaking gentle words. We spent quite a bit of time in Ephesians 4 this week and continue to strive to speak grace, build others up, and consider what is appropriate for the moment.
A fun trip to the playground uncovers a pond filled with tadpoles. Back home, we jump on the internet. What do they eat, how long will their growth take, how big will they get, what kind are they? Science and PE, covered.
Money from grandparents (a handful each from the penny jar -- big hands are actually a disadvantage here because they don't fit in the jar so easily). Learning stewardship, giving, saving, percentages. Math, covered.
Summer reading program at the library. Books devoured, recorded, discussed, shared. Reading, handwriting, narration, covered.
News from missionaries. Maps, background information, prayers. Geography, history, covered.
Birth certificate. Genealogies, family history, roots, research tools, connections. Making history personal. Lady Jane Grey is in our family line, anyone famous in yours?
And, life skills -- cooking, cleaning, manners, photography, baby care, growing sense of humor, sports, grocery shopping, pet care, covered.
I guess I should clarify when I say we are taking a few weeks off. We're just un-intentional-schooling for a little while.
Do you find learning sneaks its way into your day whether you plan it or think you have time for it or not?