Sonlight’s 25! February Blog Party – How we decided to homeschool…

Sonlight Blog Party

I am so excited to participate this month in Sonlight’s Birthday link up! Despite sounding like a commercial, we actually started homeschooling with Sonlight… way back when…

My homeschool journey started oddly… When my kids were 2 and 3 we moved to a new town with no support network, no family, and no friends. And, 4 weeks after we moved DH went TDY with the Air Force – for 4 months. It was pretty rough so I started finding ways to get plugged in.

I went to the library story time, and I signed the kids up for Mom’s Day Out (MDO). I joined MOPS.

Through the library we made friends – both moms and kids – who are still our close friends 11 years later. A couple of those friends invited us to a bible study – which was led by a homeschool mom. I really thought homeschooling was nuts, but I needed friends and the study was AMAZING. It was Christ-centered. She taught the bible unashamedly. The family who hosted had their older kids provide childcare for all of our littles (I later learned this was ministry training – and the kids asked to do it for us), and we could delve into God’s word for a couple hours a week. It was a lifeline. One emphasis was encouraging us in our walk as mothers and to see the little ones as a blessing and ministry – not a burden. My heart was being turned home… weekly.

Well… at the same time Little hated MDO. HATED. I’ll shorten the story, but after about 2 months of conviction (and not listening to the “oh, he’ll be fine, let him cry it out… You need “me” time…” worldly advice givers) I pulled him out. Big was fine there, but feeling strongly that God wanted US to raise our kids, she came home too. It was only 6 hours a week, but pulling them out was huge. It marked for me a mental shift – we are responsible. Us. Not anyone else. God called US.

At the same time, (God’s timing is amazing), we found our church home in a church with, amazingly, a lot of homeschoolers. These kids were great and their parents were actively participating in raising their kids. It was great to see and such an encouragement.

So… when Big hit about 4-5, DH and I discussed a trial year. We’ll see if we can start a routine… learn something… and enjoy it.

Being the nervous type I researched. I read books (The Well Trained Mind, A Charlotte Mason Companion, and Educating the Whole Hearted Child. And visited websites like The Well Trained Mind and the Sonlight forums. I asked questions. I attended a used book sale.

Then, when the kid’s friends were headed off to K4, we jumped in.

AND…

It was awesome!!

Yes, we had some rough days, but overall Big learned to read fairly painlessly (poor kid, getting to be the Guinea pig…) and we loved making learning a lifestyle.

We had peace in our home.

The kids were learning at their own paces.

We could sleep in when we needed to, and we could study the bible!

We had TIME for the fun stuff.

Our first curriculums were Veritas Press Phonics Museum and Sonlight Core K.

We soon discovered… WE LOVED it.

We read and read and read.

We painted stuff and made stuff.

We baked and went to the park.

We attended library time and had park days with friends.

We went to the nature center and collected leaves.

We could do some fun extras like AWANA, and not sweat getting up early the next day.

We could travel to see family when we were needed – or when we felt like it!

And after a year, when Big was supposed to enter K, we assessed where we were.

She read well. She was ready for Grade 1 math. Both kids (and I ) were relaxed and happy. We had a great rhythm. We could travel when we wanted.

And we came to the realization: We were homeschoolers.

Week in Review – 27 Feb 2015

Starting with my Friday coffee, and a buddy…

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This week was definitely a memorable week. After church on Sunday the kids and I went to visitation for our beloved next door neighbor. Mr. P has been our neighbor since we moved here 11 years ago. We loved him. He was a godly man who was always kind and encouraging. He was 94 1/2 when he passed. We will miss him a lot.

Monday the kids and I knocked out some schoolwork, and then went to Mr. P’s funeral. It was standing room only so we listened intently from the back of the church behind a glass door. His son did a wonderful job of honoring his dad. It was a beautiful service celebrating a life well lived.

After the service I tried to steal a friend’s kids as she was sick and husband out of town. Unfortunately, they were here about an hour before the mom came to get them – with ICING heading into our area! I thought it was a joke – as weather reports here are often overinflated – but about a half an hour later I was glad the kids were home safe! The ice got bad (for us anyway).

The rest of the week was dominated by the weather reports…

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Wednesday started with rain. For Southern kids when snow is predicted, I don’t think there can be a greater disappointment! By 3 the ice pellets came, and by 4 we had snow. Real snow. Big, fat, fluffy snow. We had a blast!! Snowballs, “sledding”, and general running around.

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Because we live in the South, pretty much every activity was cancelled this week. The public schools were cancelled Wednesday and Thrusday. Scouts was cancelled Monday for ice, we skipped TKD Tuesday as well as bible study (Big is still recovering from her TeenPact-wicked-bad-cold), and TKD was cancelled for Thrusday. We started to piano of Wednesday, but it started icing on our way there, so we said “HI!” and then took off. There’s still a little snow around now, but it should melt soon and then we’ll be back to normal. It’s supposed to be 68 on Monday. LOL!! I love the South! The break from all the extras was a welcome change this week.

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Other than snow, what’s up this week?
+ We did some schoolwork. Math. Bible. Science. Writing suffered a little.

+ We had a family art night on Thursday night, which was awesome. I can’t wait to share pictures!! We need to do this more often!

+ Random: Big is addicted to TopGear. Little is back to loving Minecraft since his friends are all on the same server.

+ Little is crushing on some merit badges right now. This week he should finish up Art, Citizenship and the World, and Citizenship in the Nation.

+ Big is learning how to draw Manga. It’s super cool. This week we got the schwanky markers and she’s carried them everywhere. I love times of intense passion (except Minecraft… and Dr. Who… thankfully DH listens to that…).

How was your week? Did y’all have snow?

Weekly Wrap-Up

I Love Visual Voicemail

A few weeks ago I got a notification on my phone that I could use a month of visual voicemail for free. I **hate** answering the phone, so I thought this might be an awesome thing for me. I didn’t know just how awesome!

Now, these are screen shots are voicemail samples from my husband. My husband is an articulate man, whose jobs require (and I mean REQUIRE) that he speak clearly. He’s not a mumbler…

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I almost died laughing after getting the first one. What in the world? This is pure gold comedy to me….

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Seriously? It’s hysterical. How could anyone think this works? It clearly doesn’t, but I think I’m happier that it doesn’t. It’s fabulous.

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I’m seriously thinking about signing up for the service. I smile and laugh every time I get a voicemail. I call screen just to see how the message will be translated. So far the only voice that transcribes correctly is annoying robo calls, which seems totally appropriate that they’d never be funny in any situation.

It’s true. I have a strange love for visual voicemail!

Review: In Freedom’s Cause (A G.A. Henty Audio Drama)

Today I have the privilege of sharing a review of the audio drama In Freedom’s Cause from Heirloom Audio Productions. This Review is completed in my role as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. The audio drama tells the story of William Wallace and his quest for Scotland’s freedom. Throughout the story we learn of his faith, love and godly Christian character. Battles, betrayal, and love – this story has them all!!

The product we were asked to review is the In Freedom’s Cause Single Package. We received a physical cd set which included the 2-cd set of the audio drama.

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As a part of the Review Crew we also received access to the following downloads:

The complete In Freedom’s Cause eStudy Guide and Discussion Starter. 30 pages of In Freedom’s Cause listening questions, vocabulary and deeper thinking questions. Great to guide discussion or to make sure everyone is keeping up with the story.

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Here’e a sample from the discussion guide:

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The In Freedom’s Cause Soundtrack MP3 download. The music in the production is great! Beautifully done!soundtrack

 

A printable copy of The Prayer Of William Wallace (Psalm 23 in the Latin Vulgate). We thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the prayer – and discussion of the psalm were central to our experience. A beautiful addition to listening to the drama.poster

As soon as this cd arrived, the kids and I were excited to start listening. We’re huge fans of audio drama, and books on tape, so this was a big treat for us. The night after the box arrived we started our bedtime routine earlier than normal, and met up in master bedroom. We turned down the lights, popped the cd into the xbox (it’s our best sound system in the master), and planned on listening for 30 minutes…well…after the first cd ended, (and about 30 minutes after we had planned to stop listening), we had to call it a night. It was late. We had work to do in the morning!

We made it a whole 2 days before we finished up the story – first with another late night session, and lastly with an early morning “Please mom, we’re almost done, and it’s like schoolwork, and we can eat breakfast while we listen…” plea session. I broke. I totally wanted to hear the ending!!

To say we enjoyed the drama would be an understatement. We loved it. The voices were clear, professional, and dramatic. The accents are true, and the adventure palpable. The background music and soundtrack are beautifully done. The production quality of this audio drama is excellent.

In the past I’ve tried reading Henty novels, but failed miserably. With this version – we loved his work! What a blessing! I am grateful for being able to experience a wonderful, classic Christian author in such an approachable and fun manner.

One thing I loved was the emphasis on William Wallace’s prayer. My kids couldn’t place it as Psalm 23, so we had a great time of discussion and searching the scripture to find which Psalm it was. It was a great challenge for them and a wonderful time of bible study and application for all of us.

Hands down our favorite part of the drama was the part about the goat woo. We laughed our heads off at the sound of the woo. We listened to the drama for the first time a few weeks ago – and we still make jokes about the woo and woo noises. I love when a book works its way into the lexicon of our family – and this one most certainly has!

After we listened to the drama I downloaded the accompanying study guide. What a treasure! It’s filled with great questions – both basic narration and more thought provoking – that would be great for younger listeners or to help older kids building listening skills. You could easily provide the questions before the chapter and give the kids something to listen out for and keep them on their toes. It is an excellent tool with great content – one that would be well worth your time to download and use as a guide.

One other thing that’s super helpful is the character guide. It’s awesome. Some of the names can get a little hard to follow, with accents and all, so the guide is great for keeping everyone straight. I think it’s a very thoughtful addition and one that would be great for little kids and moms alike. I wish more audio dramas included this!

I’ve been gushing. Seriously. So really, how much did we really like this? Well, in all of my years of homeschooling I have only let my kids skip one book that was on our assigned reading list. They begged me to stop With Lee in Virginia. It’s another Henty novel and it didn’t click with my kids. I traded them 3 for 1 (they had to read 3 other books to replace Lee), and they both took the trade! So, imagine the kid’s surprise when I mentioned that 1. In Freedom’s Cause, which they loved, was a Henty novel, and 2. The company that produced In Freedom’s Cause (Heirloom Audio Productions) is making With Lee in Virginia. They were both really excited and want to hear the audio drama. We’ll be buying it when it comes out!!

So yes, we loved it. If I had a goat woo I’d play you a solo to prove it!!

In Freedom's Cause Review

Crew Disclaimer

Wait a second…

I skipped going to New York this morning because it’s too cold there.

So what’s up with this?

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I live in the South. The Deep South. The place where it’s never icy or snowy.

Except today it’s icy. (I was a softy and issued a one hour alarm clock delay abd let the kids sleep in…schools locally are delayed starting.)

And 2-4 inches of snow is forecast for Wednesday.

I’m still glad I’m not in upstate New York!!

Review: IndoctriNation, Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America ( DVD Review)

I am excited to present a review of the movie IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America, brought to us by Great Commission Films. This Review is completed in my role as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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I received a DVD from Great Commission Films and set aside some time to sit and be able to watch the movie. The movie itself if 101 minutes long, (and since I’m a serial TV show watcher more than a movie watcher, LOL!!!) I had to set aside a couple of hours. I ended up watching all but the final 10 minutes in the first sitting, and finishing up the rest about 3 days later. I took notes as I went, screen shot a few important thing to look up later, and wrote down a lot of scripture references. Honestly, there was a ton of information and I look forward to to sitting and watching it all again in about 15-20 minutes chunks to really absorb the material!

The basic premise of the movie centers around the question: Should believers in Jesus Christ (Christians) have their children enrolled in the public school system?
Controversial? You bet.
A question we all need to ask? Yes.
A question that we (Believers) need to remove emotion and our personal experiences from and really search Scripture for direction? Absolutely.

And, I think this movie really does that.

Did I like all of what it had to say? No, but it made me think. Hard. It challenged me to consider opinions different than what I started with (that Christians can, with a clear conscience, put their kids in public school), and gave me a lot of evidence and scripture to consider as a part of the thinking.

What did I like about the movie?
+ I really appreciated the variety of interviews that were conducted. From preachers, theologians, teachers, and historians I felt like a lot of bases were covered in gathering information.
+ I loved the history of the public school system portions. I previously though more of this history involved the focus on Christianity than it really did. I was educated on that point through this movie!
+ Statistics. I love numbers and data. I appreciated the emphasis on hard facts. I was SHOCKED by many of them. One particular tidbit that struck me (because I hear it so often here at home, where our public schools rank among the worst in the nation), is the disparity between the actual ranking of schools and parents perception of the ranks (“It’s not that bad….”). Sadly, it is usually that bad.
+ The interview with the public high school graduate was super interesting. I try very hard to see the glass as half full, so I often dismiss the horror stories I hear about public schools as being biased and overblown. I know many wonderful public school teachers and I know they do all they can to provide a warm, safe, encouraging environment for their students, so I find anything contrary to their hard work tough to swallow. And, since I have no experience with my kids in school, I guess I think I need to give them the benefit of the doubt. With that in mind, hearing from a young Christian woman, firm in her faith, sharing her story- that  was powerful for me.
+ I loved the clarity with which the “isms” of different philosophies were explained. I appreciated the emphasis on understanding that Christianity isn’t being given any equal time – but that relativism, atheism, and other schools of thought are replacing Truth and making moral decisions relative and ethics situational. I was shocked to learn about the pervasiveness of moral relativism in the school system.

What did I not like?
+ While I appreciated the diversity of background of the interviewees (job-wise), I had a hard time with their bias. It seemed like the “Who’s Who” of the super-conservative homeschool movement. Even the film maker is a homeschool dad. I have enjoyed learning from many of the interviewees, but they can be polarizing, even in the homeschool world. I would like to have heard more from more mainline preachers and their opinions on the subject so that the movie would be more approachable to moderate believers and a wider diversity of homeschoolers.
+ I think the “remove all kids from public schools” can be a bitter pill to swallow. While I agree with the conclusion, and the scripture that supported that conclusion, I think some mention of what parents can do if they HAVE to use public schools would have been great. It’s a reality that not everyone can afford private school or to homeschool and I would have like to have seen that addressed, even briefly.

My “Take Aways”:
+ The most impacting part of the movie for me was when RC Sproul Jr was discussing the “salt and light” argument. I’ve heard it a million times, “If we take believing children out of the public school system, who will evangelize the unbelievers?” I could NOT agree more with his rebuttal. Basically, (and you need to watch the movie for this one point, since I won’t say it anywhere near as eloquently as him!), since the majority of kids who enter public school believing in Jesus leave the faith when they graduate high school, and rarely evangelize anyone, the mission is failing. Badly. It was so convicting to me and awesome to hear so simply put what bothers me about that argument.

+ This wasn’t a part of the movie per se, but I was hugely convicted that DISCIPLESHIP OF OUR KIDS BEGINS AT HOME AND IS A PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY. Homeschooling doesn’t automatically make discipleship happen. Public (or private) schools are not responsible for discipleship NOT happening. Parents are. Parents who are focused on the Lord, who desire to serve the Lord, and daily take on the task of discipling their children is what’s crucial. I HAVE to be one of those parents. Homeschooling, and our schedule and lifestyle, should leave us with no excuse – but it’s my job as a parent to help my kids to mature in the Lord. We need to take that seriously regardless of where our kids go to school and this movie really helped to remind me of that. That’s an awesome thing in my opinion!

In conclusion, I am really glad that I watched this movie and I would recommend it to every Christian parent. I didn’t necessarily agree with all it concluded, or with everything in the movie, but it made me really think. It challenged me. I can be honest and say that some of my “dislikes” really were because, when presented with scripture (truth),  my long held opinions and personal convictions were challenged. That’s hard. But very, very good. It’s iron sharpening iron. I am grateful for it.
So, I’ll definitely watch the movie again.
I’ll research the notes I took.
And I will continue to pray for our nation, its children, its parents, and for revival to sweep our nation so the hearts and minds of every person in America would turn toward Jesus Christ.

IndoctriNation DVD Review

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