Things I’ve Learned in 2014

1.  Manufactured outrage and the news.  I was taken aback this summer when a fellow Word Weaver blogger used the term “manufactured outrage” and said she wasn’t “taking the bait” anymore.  I was allowing the news stories to take away my peace. Dwelling on them tainted my thoughts with fears and negativity.

Bowe Bergdahl

The Bowe Bergdahl story was a turning point.  Bowe is a beloved son and brother who was raised by a conservative Christian family.  The family attended a church in a denomination that I once attended.  I was baffled at the feeds I was seeing from conservative outlets and the accusations against his parents.  I came across this post which describes in better words how I was looking at the story and processing it.  Seeing the memes and headlines caused me to step back from all the news, the outrage, and the craziness. I won’t “fall for the bait” with the big headlines. I feel more compassion, realizing a situation is usually more complex than anyone can realize from one news story or Facebook page blurb.  (Not that I blindly trusted everything prior to this!)  While still interested in politics and current events, I’m holding the news at arms-length and feeling more peaceful inside; less stirred up.

2.  Consistent homeschooling produces results.  When I didn’t think there was any progress, it was still happening.  My seven year old suddenly took off with reading!  We had serious concerns about learning disorders  when he was reading backwards, mixing up words and switching letters around.  We kept at our phonics workbooks day after day, week after week (seemingly mundane at times), and all of a sudden—it clicked! He apparently reached a developmental milestone and there was rapid change. Now he is reading beyond where we were with our phonics lessons.  I’m amazed how far both children have come in a year, and it gives courage and incentive to stay the course.

3. Life is precious and there is a time for mourning.  We were shocked/delighted to find out we were expecting a baby in February. There were several weeks of hopeful anticipation, followed by a concerning ultrasound, followed by a confirming ultrasound that our baby was gone.  My heart has been grieving that baby all year.  The grief has finally eased up since getting past our “should have been” due date in late October.  That baby was real, that baby was wanted, and that baby was not insignificant in the kingdom of God.  That was the lesson learned.  There isn’t a shortcut for grieving.  Heaven will be all the sweeter to meet my little ones.

4.  In researching family history,  I learned of my rich Christian heritage.  My great-grandparents were common, every day people. They were poor immigrants who were rich in faith. They came to America in hopes of a better life.

On both sides of my family, great-grandparents, grandparents and parents prayed for their offspring to believe in God, to have faith in His Son. God has heard their prayers and answered them by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my most important inheritance (not based on relationship with my relatives, but because it is now my own through the grace of Christ).  My prayer is that my children will also have this faith.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)

Four generations – 2007

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome in the comments section below!

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Our Homeschool Day

First official day of school. Fall, 2013.

We started officially homeschooling this past September. Last year we had a  “letter of the week” and more informal activities and games.  My main focus at that time was developing a routine that would work for family life and school.

After breakfast, we do a few chores.

Clearing the table and emptying the dishwasher.

If I have some extra work to do around the house, the kids will play a game (or goof off, or fight) while they wait for me.

Playing Enchanted Forest, one of their favorite games.

Today we have lots and lots of snow in Michigan, and extreme cold temperatures.  My husband’s work was cancelled so he took some pictures today and also worked with the kids on their Math.

We start our day by singing the hymn of the week and having prayer time.  This was my daughter’s prayer request today:

I pray that mom would be nice and not yell, and that school would be easy.

(Keeping it honest, folks! Ha!)  Our hymn of the week is “The Power of the Cross by Keith & Kristyn Getty. We listen to it on a CD and sing along.  The kids usually snuggle up, but especially on days like this when it was fifty-eight degrees in our family room.

Morning hymn and prayer time.

Morning hymn and prayer time.

 

After our hymn and prayer time, I like to work with each child individually.  One child spends a half hour watching  “The Letter People” DVD while I work with the other child.  We use the original Letter People.  A friend told me I could buy a DVD with all the episodes on Ebay.    The video quality is poor, but the kids don’t mind a bit, and I am enjoying this walk down memory lane.

The Letter People

The Letter People

Near the dining room table we have a crate of supplies and curriculum.  Today we worked with my daughter first.  At this part of the day my goal is to work with them individually on  reading, writing and math.  Other subjects  are covered with both of them together.

Greta with her curriculum.

Greta with her curriculum.

It was a snow day, so Dad covered Math.

It was a snow day, so Dad covered Math.

Enjoying Dad's Math class.

Enjoying Dad’s Math class.

Micah's copy work for the day.  We also made use of a few sight words he is memorizing.

Micah’s copy work for the day. We also made use of a few sight words he is memorizing.

I save our favorite part of home school for the end.  This is sometimes done right after our other work, or other days, after lunch in the early afternoon.  We have been using  Five in a Row (FIAR) to cover many other areas of learning such as geography, science, history and art.  The same picture book is read five days in a row.  In our case, we normally have four days, as we are in home school co-op on Fridays.  With all the snow this month, we haven’t been able to go to the library to borrow our next FIAR book.  However, we are applying the principles we’ve learned in FIAR to Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Today we read the chapter about sugar snow.  The next chapter is about the dance at Grandpa’s, and it includes the story of Grandma making maple syrup candy.  I had real maple syrup in the house, and there was certainly plenty of fresh snow, so we tried it.

Maple Syrup Candy

Maple Syrup Candy

Maple Syrup Candy

Maple Syrup Candy

Making Maple Syrup Candy

Making Maple Syrup Candy

The normal time frame for  formal schooling  is a total of  two hours per day (max.).  I expect that will increase as they get older and have longer attention spans. There are other times of learning throughout the day.  We read the Bible together at supper time.  The kids work on their AWANA verses before going to bed.  They help me with cooking and other things around the house as well.  In the afternoon we always have a quiet time for a half hour, more or less where we each go in our own rooms and take a little rest.  Micah usually builds something with his Legos to show me, and Greta likes to play with her stuffed animals or sometimes color.  The quiet time gives us a  little break from one another and some space to ourselves.  In the summer the kids spend much of their days outdoors, but that has been impossible this winter.  I let them play the Wii and our family likes board games.  Sometimes they watch some PBS kids shows or Netflix on our Roku.

Hope you enjoyed a look at our home school day!