Friday, November 11, 2011

Fresh Homemade Pumpkin Bread

For the past two years we have grown pie pumpkins in our garden.  Last year we made Pumpkin Pie Filling for the first time as a homeschooling project.  It was a lot of fun and very satisfying to use our pumpkins as something beneficial instead of just as decorations. The difference in taste from canned pumpkin was wonderful.   Please check out the process on the link above.  This year we again made our own pie filling.  Of course you can use this pumpkin pulp in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.  If you want to make your own pulp use the "pie pumpkins" which are smaller than the jack-o-lantern pumpkins and are much tastier.  Yesterday I used a wonderful recipe to make pumpkin bread.  It was very most and delicious.  I'll be making this for Thanksgiving this year.    Here is the recipe:

Mix together:
3 cups of sugar
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin or 2 cups fresh pumpkin 
1/2 cup veg. oil
1/2 cup melted butter
add
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda 
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
Mix all ingredients together well.
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans
Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes
Let cool 10 minutes before removing from pans.
Enjoy!
Happy Homeschooling

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Under Construction

I have to apologize for not keeping my blog current.  I am working on making some changes and hope to be back to posting on a more regular basis very soon.  Thanks for your patience.
Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Leaves

This is the time of the year when I love to do fun art projects with leaves in my homeschool.  The beautiful colors are just too hard to resist.  Capturing the beauty of fall in New England has been one of my favorite things to do.  The children and I would take walks on a warm or chilly, as it may have been, sunny fall day.  We would gather up pretty fallen leaves in all the colors available, red, orange, yellow even a mixed colored leaf that had fallen but was still a bit green.   After finding a variety of leaves we'd return home with our treasures to make our  decorations.  By placing the leaves carefully on the sticky side of contact paper and sandwiching them between another piece of sticky contact paper we had beautiful leaves to hang in our windows that would stay pretty for weeks.   You can cut around each leaf or make a large collage of leaves.  Another way to enjoy them is to cut out a place mat sized piece of contact paper and make your display into a place mat to enjoy at each meal all autumn long.   We've also studied why the leaves change color, in our science class and read stories and poems about fall as well.  Bringing a bit of nature into our homes is a wonderful way to brighten up any homeschool.  I hope you get a chance to enjoy the blessings of God's changing seasons.  There is so much to learn about His creation, the possibilities are endless.  I know there are other ways to preserve the leaves in fall.  Maybe you'd like to share a leaf project too.   Happy Homeschooling~!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fun at the Fair

What a fun day we spent at the fair today.  As I posted last, we had set up a display for the home and garden section at the fair and were looking forward to finding out how we did.  We were pleasantly surprised to find  out that we came in fourth place.  We really didn't expect to place at all.  So we were so excited when we saw the ribbon.  We also placed on our other entries in the sewing, crafting and canning departments.  Here are a few pictures of our entries.  What a wonderful way to spend a brisk, and wet, fall day.  The best part was spending the day with wonderful friends.  I hope you get a chance to visit and maybe even participate in a country fair like our family did.
~Happy homeschooling~



A small section of our display.

Jars full of delightful things

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Fair Time

One of our local country fairs will be in full swing this week.  For many years we have enjoyed going to this fair and also entering items into it.  This year is no exception.  This is part of our homeschooling experience as well.  As I have posted in the past, we love homesteading in our family.  Animals, gardening and canning have been a big part of our homeschooling years.  This year our home garden has been the biggest focus for our exhibits.  We will be entering canned green beans, tomatoes, salsa, jams, and a variety of pickles.  We will also be building a garden display with squash, pumpkins, carrots, beans, tomatoes and more of our canned veggies.  This is the first time that we have done this much and it has been a great learning experience.   My son Matthew will be entering some craft items, a handmade toy raft and a candle.  My daughter Holly and I are also entering some sewing projects.   I am by no means an expert in any of these areas so it is always fun to see what the fair judges have to say.  It's actually a great way to lean to improve on skills.  Many experts judge the items and give great advice on how to do things better the next time around.  I have heeded their advice in the past and it worked out great.  It is a time off from school books, but the weather is beautiful and it's too nice to be in anyway.  This is a great way to learn about God's creation by  participating in an agricultural fair.  I'll let you know how we make out at the fair in my next post.
Happy Homeschooling!


Matthew making the pickles he's entering into the fair.



Friday, September 2, 2011

The Little Desk

I love to look back at pictures from our homeschooling years.  They are pictures of the children doing school work or projects or field trips or family vacations.  I came across this picture of my youngest son when he was six years old.  He was sitting in the little blue desk that had been fixed up by my husband when we first started our homeschooling journey.  Prior to Matthew using the desk it was used by his older sister Holly when she started first grade at home.  We kept that desk in the corner of our dining room for ten years.  Even after it was well out grown.  I have to admit it was hard to put it away when the time came.  But I really had to have the space back in the dining room because we purchased a large computer desk at a yard sale and it took up so much space that the little desk needed to be retired.   I had a yard sale this summer and eyed the little desk.  It is sitting in our cellar with a few boxes piled on top of it.  However, I just couldn't part with it.  Somehow I'm too attached to the little blue desk.

It started out in our family long before we began homeschooling.  My husband's parents bought it for our oldest son, when he was seven, at a yard sale.  It was full of coloring books and crayons and it was in pretty bad shape.  Chris loved it though.  He had it in his room and soon filled it with his own treasures.  Once we decided to homeschool we knew it would make a nice little desk for our daughter.  It was just the right size for her, and Chris at that time was too big for it.  Bryan carried it down to the cellar, where we first planned our school room would be.  No, it was too cold and dark in the winter to be in the cellar so we moved our classroom to our sunny warm dining room.  I wasn't too thrilled that this little beat up desk would have to be a part of our dining room's decor so my loving husband said he would fix it up and make it more attractive.  He sanded and refinished the top and painted the ugly brown metal part a bright, pretty blue.  It looked much nicer in our dining room after it's make over.  Over the years it was filled with wonderful little books and journals, coloring pages, stories and illustrations by enthusiastic little authors.  It also held playmobiles, matchbox cars, paper dolls, rocks, leaves and anything that little student had as a treasure.

Time flew by and now, as I said, the little blue desk is no longer needed and is no longer part of the dining room decor.  The large computer desk sits there, being used by the little boy in the picture, now my high schooler, for his Algebra, Physical Science, World History, Grammar, French and all the supplies a ninth grader needs to succeed in school.  Where did the time go?

I miss the little blue desk.  And I think I might find a special spot for it sometime soon.  It holds many precious memories.   Maybe it could hold a pretty plant on my porch.

Happy Homeschooling!

Matthew and  his little blue desk.  2003

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thoughts from a Homeschool Graduate

I have been pondering a post for the new school year.  But as my mind was feeling a bit blank I decided to share a link to my daughter's blog today.  She has had a busy summer and loves to write.  Here is the link to her blog.  I hope you enjoy it. http://maid-of-virtue.blogspot.com/2011/08/summer-time.html

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Enjoying a Break

I like to take the summer off from homeschooling.  Mostly because we all need the break, but also because it's a time to ponder what to do next.  I don't use the same curriculum year after year for the most part.  Our math does stays  pretty much the same and our science text is usually Apologia, at least in high school. During the summer I love to pour over the homeschool catalogs and think about trying new things for the upcoming year.   In my recent browsing I came upon the Beautiful Feet study entitled:  A History of Science; A Literature Based Introduction to Scientific Principles and their Discoverers.  By Rebecca Manor.   I have wanted to do this study for years and decided that with just one student left we are going to do it.  Although it is a little on the younger side, (I don't let this deter me, it's still challenging)  I am thinking of ways to make it work for my 9th grader without any problem.  I am looking forward to getting off our normal track with this change.  It will only take a few months to do and then it's back to Apologia again.  It seems like it will be a fun adventure to study more in depth, about the godly men who became such famous scientists because of their great discoveries.  Especially with today's idea of what makes someone a "scientist".  These men were truly intelligent men who knew that a Creator was responsible for all the wonders of the universe.  It should be an enjoyable study.

  Happy vacation if you are taking one.  Happy homeschooling if you are not.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Media, At What Cost?

I recently joined the Facebook Fad.  If that's what it's called.  I hesitated for many years to do so simply because I know myself, and I'm almost certain to be on it too much.  I have to admit it's fun to see what people are up to and I will "like" something or comment to a friend, like using it for email, but I don't see it becoming the problem I thought it might become.  I actually enjoy blogging quite a lot more.  It seems more creative.   I often wonder how other parents have been dealing with this new media craze that is taking our youth by storm.

Back in the 50's the hula hoop was a craze or fad, along with cramming as many teenagers into a phone booth as would be manageable.  Then along came TV and Rock n Roll.   Of course the 60's had some fads that mostly weren't very wholesome and the 70's disco craze.  Actually that's where I fit in, the 70's.  I never cared much for disco though I have to admit.  Computers have changed things quite a lot for families from the 90's to the present.  But look how fast that has changed our family life.  Add in the i pod, cell phone, lap top, i phone, i... you name it and where does that take our children?  Should they own such gadgets?  How young is too young to allow these devices into the hands of our youngsters?  This to me seems to be the current day  parenting dilemma.  It is a very large one at that.  I have been on the look out for what the "experts" have to say about what parents should be leery about or on the lookout for and I really haven't heard too much about it.

I feel very blessed to be homeschooling during this time of information overload.   We do let our children use many of the above listed items mostly as tools.  A cell phone seems like an essential these days.  My almost fourteen year old can take a three mile bike ride with a bit more assurance because if he should need help I'm only a call away, so he takes my cell phone.  I don't believe it is a good idea for a young person to carry around instant access to the internet in their pocket.  This seems a bit dangerous to me.  How is a youth carrying an internet accessing device held accountable?  Is there a filter on it?  Can a parent check to see the history?  These are questions I don't know the answer to.  In the "old days" children did have access to inappropriate materials without a doubt, but not as easily as today.  Please do not get me wrong, I am not against these devices at all.  I think they are wonderful when used properly.  I wonder if this is the first time in history where technology is geared toward children and then the adults catch on instead of the technology starting with the adults and being taught to their children.

It frustrates me to see a child of mine glued to an electronic device, just staring  at it for what seems like hours.  I hope that soon the "experts" will share with us parents their advice on how to teach our children not to waste too much of their lives on social networks.  For now I'll send them outside to care for the animals, play in the woods and other healthy adventures, like reading a good book, that might encourage a love for other things. I'll also hold off on letting them have these things until my husband and I think they are old enough to have them, say 18 or older.  If you have any ideas on how to handle the media of the day, I'd love to hear about it.  In the mean time I'll continue to be in God's Word knowing He is the only true "expert" on raising children, no matter what generation they might be born in.

Philippians 4:8  "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true whatever things are noble, whatever things are just whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things."


Esther 4:14b "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bean There Done That

No, I didn't misspell a word. I was just trying to think of a catchy title for my post on canning.  I was so very pleased last summer; for the first time ever I learned how to can.  Well, I had made freezer jam and I had exposure to canning as a child, since my mother did a little of it.  But with the encouragement of my 17 year old, homeschool graduate daughter, I learned how to can the vegetables that we grew in our garden.  The reason my daughter was such an encouragement to me was because she was so enthusiastic to learn how to can too.  So we endeavored to learn about how to properly can vegetables.  With the help of some wonderful videos, books and a lot of research on the internet we taught ourselves how to do this process.  My mother had given me a pressure canner and a large canning pot so we were raring to go.  Our first hot water bath canning was strawberry jam. This turned out to be pretty easy and I was thrilled with our success.  Then we went on to green beans, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini,  pickles and applesauce!  The biggest fear I had to overcome was using the pressure canner.  It was a little intimidating since I had never used one before.  The steam and the spinning weight on the top were a constant concern to me.  I envisioned an explosion and steaming hot water and vegetables all over my kitchen, but thankfully my worst fears never came to be.  This year we are hoping for more canning adventures. (No explosions please.) We planted a larger garden because our canned supply from last summer only lasted about six months and I'd love to see us get through a few more months.


Even more valuable than being able to feed my family was that I learned how to can right along side my daughter.  We both learned valuable lessons that will be passed on for many years and maybe to many more generations.  It showed me that we should always learn new things.  How can we grow if we do not have a teachable spirit?  You're never too old to learn something new and what better way to learn than side by side with your children?  I hope you and your children will enjoy learning something new together this summer.  I'll let you know how our beans "can" out.  Happy homeschooling!

Proverbs 12:11a  Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread;


Proverbs 12:14 From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man's hand comes back to him.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Birthday Blog-jacking

This is Jennifer's daughter, Holly. I'm hacking, not really, into her blog to write a nice little note in honor of her birthday. She does know that I'm doing this, she just doesn't know what I'm going to say.
My mom has been the person that I look up to the most. She has endeavoured to instill in us a love of the LORD and to train us up in the way we should go. She's patiently taught her stubborn daughter (and two equally stubborn sons) all the way through school and I can't remember her ever complaining about. She encouraged us to learn and grow our skills and has been supportive through many tedious undertakings. She has taught, by example, the joys and beauty of home-making and how to be a supportive wife.

"She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates". - Proverbs 31: 27-31
Happy Birthday, Mum! You're the best! Please drop her a little note to wish her a happy remainder of the day.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Dad's Role

Lately I've been thinking about the very important role my husband has in our homeschooling.  Besides being the principal, he is our leader.  He also deserves all the credit for encouraging me along this road all these years.  If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have taken this on at all.  At first, he wasn't so sure about homeschooling.  He wasn't sure that it was the right thing for us.  He had all the concerns that a lot of dads have in regards to the children and their learning the important things; like math.  I could understand this concern since math was my weakest subject in school.  But after much thought and prayer and several one on one interviews with other homeschooling families, he was sold.

He has been a wonderful encourager and has been there along the way to pick up and help out when needed.  When I felt like things just weren't going to work out he encouraged me to stay the course and not give up.  He believes we are doing what the Lord has called us to do.  He will be the first to tell other dads that homeschooling is the best thing that they can do for their children.  He has taken me to many home school conventions, because he knows they mean a lot to me.  He is the one who shares with others how wonderful the conventions are and how they are very convicting to him.  He also takes our family on many educational vacations traveling to places that are historically important because he loves our country and wants our children to understand its history.

As Father's Day approaches I hope to do something very special for him so that he knows how much he means to his family.  I'm afraid we just don't let him know often enough how much we love him and all he does for us.  As our youngest son begins his first year of high school at home next year I know my husband will have many ideas for his growth toward godly manhood.  I already know that there are some wonderful woodworking projects and drafting lessons in the works.  Some have even been completed; check out   picnic table on our family blog.

Happy Father's Day and happy homeschooling!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Are We Teaching All They Need?...

Albert Einstein was once asked by a student, “Dr. Einstein, how many feet are there in a mile?” To the utter astonishment of the student, Einstein replied, “I don’t know.”
The student was sure the great professor was joking. Surely Einstein would know a simple fact that every schoolchild is required to memorize. But Einstein wasn’t joking. When the student pressed for an explanation of this gap in Einstein’s knowledge, he declared, “I make it a rule not to clutter my mind with simple information that I can find in a book in five minutes. 

I heard this quote a few years ago and then came across it again the other day.  It put things into perspective for me because I, like many homeschooling mothers, worry that I'm not teaching my children everything that they should be taught.  Wow, I thought, if Einstein wasn't worried about memorizing all the details of the world, why should I worry about teaching all the details of the world?  Maybe I'm the only mom who worries about things like that, but I'll bet I'm not alone.  I hope Einstein has encouraged you this morning!  Happy homeschooling!

Career Planning for Your Homeschooled High School Students, 9 Tips and Thoughts

I came upon this post on the Timberdoodle blog.  Timberdoodle Co.  is a homeschool supply company.  They sell curriculum as well as other educational items.  This post was very helpful if you have high schoolers who aren't quite sure what to do after they graduate.  It discusses GEDs and I'm not really a proponent of them, but the article gives some very helpful insight.
Career Planning for Your Homeschooled High School Students, 9 Tips and Thoughts

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homeschool Wrap-Up

Is your homeschool wrapping up for the year?  Ours is.  This is the time of year that is great for using school time for wonderful learning experiences that might not be in your regular school year routine.  I use this time of the year for bird watching, nest and baby bird hunts, gardening, spring cleaning, chick raising, and any other activities that I've been putting off for quite some time.  This spring I'm hoping to tackle painting rooms in our house with my 13 year old son.  This will teach him some new skills and it will spruce up our home too.  We might as well enjoy the cool spring weather to take on this project, because once the heat of summer arrives it's difficult to accomplish a job like this.  It's nice to get away from the school books and still learn valuable life lessons and know this is part of our training up a child.  Have fun finishing up your school year if you are like us.  Happy homeschooling!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Mother's Love

Soul Culture
By H.E. Foster

I said unto my gardener,
"I want my vine to bear
The choicest, richest, largest grapes
To be seen anywhere."
So he tied it here
And he cut it there,
And he trained it along the wall
And, oh! The loveliest grapes appeared-
The wonder of us all.

God said unto the mother,
"I want your child to be
A godly, helpful, useful man-
A messenger for Me."
So she curbed him here,
And she taught him there,
And she urged him to what was right,
And o'er the heads of ill-trained sons,
He towered in moral height.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Evaluation Time of Year

In my state of New Hampshire we are required by law to submit yearly evaluations for each grade.  This can be a daunting process and many parents that I know get a bit stressed over it.  I have a few tips that have worked well for us over the years that I'd like to share.

What kind of test is best for your child?  Or should you even test at all?  New Hampshire has a choice.  You may test your child with a standardized test or you may have a portfolio evaluation.  The standardized test is fairly straight forward.  There are several, and I have to admit I don't know them all.  Some of these tests are the CAT  (California Achievement Test from 1970) Stanford, Iowa, and the PASS test.  All but the PASS  tests are timed tests and most, not the PASS or CAT, must be administered by a certified teacher.  I have opted to use the PASS and CAT tests for my children over the years because I can administer them myself at home.  I believe children will test better in their normal environment.  The PASS test only tests grades 3-8.  The CAT tests all grades and is timed.  When my children reached fourth grade I began to use the PASS test because I felt it would be much less stressful on them and they could work at their own pace.  This test covers math, reading and language.  The testing takes us three days, because we do one test each day.  So I set a week aside for testing in late April or early May.  After eighth grade we use the timed CAT test.  By high school they all know what to expect with testing and are less worried about being timed.  They actually have  liked being timed and think it's fun by this point.  I like using these tests because there is no need to use a certified teacher at all.  You simply submit a copy of your child's scores to your filing agent.  I use a private Christian school for my filing.

What about portfolios?  When and why do you choose them instead of a standardized test?  Well, I chose to use them when my children were younger than fourth grade for several reasons.  First, they are much less stressful on the child and are less stressful on the parents if the test scores aren't very high.  Some children just don't test well and that's okay.  I found maturity had a lot to do with that.  Second, it is fun to keep portfolios in the elementary years.  That Solar System project that your child spent weeks putting together, or the atoms that your child proudly constructed, or the pioneer costume that you made and visited an "Olde Village" as a field trip or family vacation all become part of the portfolio.  The reports on states and presidents and well on and on I could go.  Anything that you do over the school year can all be photographed and put into a portfolio along with all the spelling, writing and math papers. Scrap booking can even come in handy here.  All of those things are saved anyway so why not put together a fabulous portfolio of your fun year and show a certified teacher?   She or he, will be very impressed I guarantee!  I found some homeschooling moms who were certified teachers to evaluate our portfolios, they charge a minimal fee because they pay to stay certified themselves.  It's worth it!  Once the teacher reviews the portfolio, she will fill out an evaluation form, give it to you, and then you are responsible for submitting it to your filing agent.

I hope this little insight on evaluations has helped to keep you from worrying.  I don't know what other states require but you can contact HSLDA and they will provide each state's requirements.  If you are just starting out I wish you the best.  If you have been doing this awhile, I hope you are having a blessed end of the school year.
Enjoy homeschooling!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Joys of Learning While Teaching

When I first started homeschooling in 1999, I had two students, a fourth grader and first grader and a toddler who loved to be a part of it all.  I was overwhelmed at the idea of keeping up with all the subjects to be taught and how to go about it and keep my sanity and my two year old off the dining room table.  Fast forward twelve years later to two graduations and a thirteen year old, who although he doesn't climb on the dining room table anymore, does love to be active.  I've looked back to those years of uncertainty and realized that I really did stress a lot of the small stuff and I might not have enjoyed the time as much as I could have.  When my daughter graduated last year I thought of all the busyness of those early years.  They were challenging and delightful all at the same time.  When I had all three children in school we kept busy and I moved from one student to the next, answering questions and correcting papers.  So I thought teaching only one student might be much less exciting and it made me kind of sad.  But to my great surprise, I've learned that it is really a lot of fun.  The best part about it is that I'm learning too!  I have to say I've learned a lot while teaching my children over the years.  History, science, civics, many of the subjects that I had glossed over in my own schooling became more alive to me.  Now that my youngest will be starting his high school years I can learn some of those more difficult subjects right along with him.  I have really enjoyed delving deeper into science and math this year and it is simply because I have more one on one time with him than I had with the older children.  I was much busier being a mom than a tutor.  My older children were also much more independent learners, where my youngest really likes me to sit with him and coach him along.  So if you're like me, or will be someday, or the parent of one homeschooling child, I encourage you not to feel that homeschooling one child might be boring.  It is so much fun to learn right along beside your child.  Enjoy and may God bless your homeschooling years.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Joyfulness


Nehemiah 8:10 The joy of the Lord is your strength.

When I was trying to come up with a name for this new blog I wasn't sure what to choose. I wanted this blog to be encouraging to homeschoolers, especially those who were new to the adventure. One thing that has come to my mind for many years now is how full of joy I am that the Lord led us in this direction. For this I am most joyful. I cannot describe the joy that fills my heart when at the end of a hectic day, I can look back and thank the Lord for it. Not everyday is a happy day and not every day is a good day. As a matter of fact some days are very bad. I've had days when I've thought, should we be doing this? Maybe they'd be learning more if they were in a private school or public school. Then it hits me, oh yes, they'd be learning more all right, but what would they be learning? After all these years I have seen the benefits of having educated my children at home. But still there are those days when doubt can creep in and I wonder, are we still doing the right thing? With the support of family but mostly my husband, I know that we are. At the end of each day I still look back and feel that joy that comes from doing God's will. Happiness is nothing compared with Joy! I hope you will be joyful as you homeschool too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My God Provides

ESV Psalm 25:9 "He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way."  25:12-13 "Who is the man who fears the Lord?  Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.  His soul shall abide in well being and his offspring shall inherit the Land."   As I read these verses in Psalm 25 this morning during my devotion time, I recalled the times that I've struggled trusting that teaching my own children was the right thing to do.  The days that we weren't accomplishing the goals I had in mind were like a black cloud over my head. I would wonder if I was doing the right thing with the child who struggled to simply finish a task.  When I put the difficulties in the hands of the Lord, which I didn't do soon enough, I always marveled that the Lord would provide the answer.  He came to my rescue and showed me the way to work with the situation. Sometimes it was taking a new path, and sometimes it was enduring the path we were on.

Because life happens while you home educate, you need to roll with the punches, so to speak.  There are days with interruptions that you didn't anticipate and these can become very frustrating.  My advice is to trust God, knowing of course, that He allowed the interruptions for a reason.  If you put your trust in Him to provide He will.  He promises to.  As I look back I can see that He did.   I fretted that the evaluations the state required wouldn't be "good enough".  I also fretted that SAT scores would suffer from lack of knowledge in a certain area.  But God never worried about any of those things.  Was I obeying Him?  Was I trusting Him that He would provide?  I'm doing better now because I can see that He has gotten us through the rough times.  I know there will still be times that I will worry about those up coming tests, but I also know He will guide us through.

As I read those verses the one that really stands out to me is;  "Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose."  It's wonderful to know that the believer who fears and trusts the Lord will be shown by Him which way to go.  I know I never need doubt nor worry when the Lord shows me the way. And then look at the end of that verse; "His soul shall abide in well being and his offspring shall inherit the Land."  What a wonderful promise for God's children.  What hope abounds and the joy that follows!  Happy homeschooling!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lessons Learned From Animals


Proverbs 12:10  (ESV)  Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast.

We have learned many valuable lessons from raising and keeping pets and farm animals.  As our children have grown so has the size of our little "farm".  We had the normal dog and cat to start out with.  We knew it was important for our children to have a pet to care for so a kitten entered our little family.  Soon a puppy joined the group. Later on our oldest son, at age eleven, felt no home was complete without a bunny. With his birthday money he purchased one rabbit, one cage and lots of bunny supplies.  One very rainy June, my husband decided we should get some ducklings.  Who would love the rainy spring more than ducks?  So six ducks were the beginning of our little farm.   Our daughter was a horse lover at a young age and started to save her pennies in hopes of one day owning her own.  Because our neighbor had two horses, our daughter soon had a small job of helping her with  morning chores.  At the age of thirteen, after four years of working for our neighbor and saving her money she was able to purchase her own horse.  You can probably see where this is all leading.  Now, six years later we are up to two dogs, two cats, one rabbit, this is not our original rabbit.  My youngest son wanted to buy a rabbit with his birthday money to replace the first one. Now there are three ducks, one horse and twelve chickens (soon to be doubled).  A total of 21 animals if I did my math right.

Having shared all of that I'll get back to my original point.  Owning all of these animals has been a wonderful learning experience for our children and a large part of our homeschooling.  First, they learned how to love and care for their pets.  Second, they learned the value of buying and caring for their own pets.  Third, they learned compassion by caring for their sicknesses and injuries (of which there have been many)  and the sorrow of losing a beloved pet as well.  Finally, entrepreneurial skills have been gained as well through horse riding lessons and selling eggs.   These are lessons that they will carry throughout their whole lives.  The house animals have been a lesson in feeding, loving and cleaning up after.  The barn animals became a lesson in endurance, self sacrifice, and self discipline.  The dogs and cats, like be fed on time and loved, that's the easy part.  But when it is cold outside and the animals in the barn need to be cared for this becomes more challenging.  In New England we get many cold winter days.  The water freezes, the doors freeze, and it can be just miserable to say the least. But day in and day out, those animals need to be cared for and it has to happen.  This has been the perfect opportunity to build character in our children's lives.  I have to say that after  almost six years of horse ownership my daughter has never complained about taking care of her horse.  She has faithfully carried out her responsibilities toward him.  Knowing that God has given her this job to do.  The sad part of raising animals is that once and awhile we lose one of these dearly loved pets.  This has happened a few times and many tears have been shed.  This has helped them to realize that we do lose those we love.

I know not everyone has the love of animals or pets that our family has.  But I believe the time that our children have had raising and caring for their pets as been an important part in growing them into caring, responsible adults.  Yes, animals are messy and I have to admit there are times when I'd love to have new furniture and rugs, but I hold off because of these pets.  But I truly wouldn't trade the life lessons my children have learned for any of those things.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Joyfulness


Nehemiah 8:10 The joy of the Lord is your strength.

When I was trying to come up with a name for this new blog I wasn't sure what to choose. I wanted this blog to be encouraging to homeschoolers, especially those who were new to the adventure. One thing that has come to my mind for many years now is how full of joy I am that the Lord led us in this direction. For this I am most joyful. I cannot describe the joy that fills my heart when at the end of a hectic day, I can look back and thank the Lord for it. Not every day is a happy day and not every day is a good day. As a matter of fact some days are very bad. I've had days when I've thought, should we be doing this? Maybe my children would be learning more if they were in a private school or public school. Then it hits me, oh yes, they'd be learning more all right, but what would they be learning? After all these years I have seen the benefits of having educated my children at home. But still there are those days when doubt can creep in and I wonder, are we still doing the right thing? With the support of my husband, and the strength that only God has given me, I know that we are. At the end of each day I still look back and feel that joy that comes from doing God's will. Happiness is nothing compared with Joy! I hope you will be joyful as you homeschool too.

Psalm 20:4 May he grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Heart for Homemade



My daughter is a home school graduate who is striving to be a keeper at home according to Proverbs 31. She graduated last summer and has been helping me at home, baking, keeping house and sewing. She has a heart to make modest clothing for girls and woman and has started her own business. It is a new experience for her, but she is having a lot of fun studying many techniques in sewing. This has also been a wonderful opportunity to minister to young mothers. She wants to be a blessing to them by providing a line of Christ honoring dresses for their daughters and themselves. As a new business she is reaching out to the community of homeschooling moms in hopes that they would look at what she has to offer, give their input and help spread the word about her business. If you would like to take a peek at what she has available, please do. She would love it if you would stop by and leave a comment.

Springtime


Oh, there are so many wonderful things about spring. Just stepping outside on an early spring morning to tend the chickens, breathing in the spring fresh air, with the mud squishing under my rubber boots brings joy to my heart, for spring is finally here! There are so many things to teach children about spring. Who can even begin to cover it all? Do they hear the Cardinal call? It's the loudest bird call in the spring here in New Hampshire. The robins are a prominent bird in the yard as they scurry along looking for those first spring worms to appear. The Canadian Geese are returning to the neighbor's pond for their short yearly layover, until they are ready to move on to their nesting grounds. Listen for their honk, they are ready to take flight, as they skim across the top of the water... It's chick time! Let's build a new brooder and dig out the supplies, the heating lamp, water bottles, and feeding tray... What are those little sprouts coming up near the foundation of that building? Daffodils? Tulips? Crocuses?... The sap is running. Let's put out the taps and collect it to boil down for syrup. The sugar house steam smells sweet. Can we have a taste? The tree's buds are swelling, sugaring season is over for another year.... Do you see the Dandelions taking over the lawn? That's okay they'll make a beautiful bouquet for Mommy.... Time to plant the seeds in little cups. Let's do a lot of them and see how they grow. We'll find a sunny window to place them in, cover them with plastic and water them well. We'll watch to see those first tiny sprouts poke their heads up through the soil. Now it's time to harden them a little by putting the seedlings out on the deck each day. Soon it will be time for their new home in the garden... There is just so much to learn in the spring and so many things to do. I hope you will take the time to enjoy the little pleasures with your children this spring. These ramblings are just a few of my springtime memories from our homeschooling years. I thank the Lord for His bountiful blessings.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

An "Ah Ha" Moment




Have you ever seen your child's expression when something finally clicks in their brain? For me, this is one of the most rewarding parts of home education. When we first started homeschooling I was viewing the teacher's video for our math curriculum. The instructor explained that you shouldn't move on to the next chapter unless your child fully understood what they were doing. He called this the "Ah Ha" moment. This is when you just know they really get it. But not only that, their eye's light up, their voices speed up in a higher pitch, and they emphatically proclaim, "I get it!" You can almost see a light bulb light up over their excited little heads. The reason I find this so wonderful is because this is not how it is in school. My experience in public school was that if you didn't get it you were simply left behind. This is the beauty of home education. You can move at the pace necessary for your student. The one on one tutoring type of teaching allows the child to progress at their own speed and then they really begin to excel. Soon you will know your child's strengths and weaknesses and you can work on what really needs attention. This also helps to guide that child onto the path of their God given talents. I hope you are getting to enjoy many "Ah Ha" moments with your children.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Season of Sowing


In your season of mothering and home educating what are you sowing into your children's hearts? We have the responsibility to raise up these seedlings that God has given us and they need our tender care to grow. It is my hope and I'm sure yours as well, that they grow into strong plants to be used for God's glory. Are we sowing the seeds of the "fruit of the Spirit"? Galatians 5:22 tells us that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law." (ESV) Of course there is "No greater joy than knowing that my children walk in the truth." 3 John 1:4 and that the saving grace of Christ alone seals them with the Holy Spirit. As we teach them diligently, we must teach them how they are to walk in the Spirit, according to God's word. Let us not put the educational process higher than the planting of this fruit. Our highest calling in home education should be to plant God's word, lead our children to Christ, and reap the joys of knowing we'll one day be together with Jesus. No curriculum will get our children to heaven, or teach them how to be servants, or will help them lead others to Christ. Teach them to walk in the Spirit by planting the seeds of the faith.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Early Years, Reading


If you love to read to your children you are well on your way to creating the habit of the love of reading in your children. We started reading to our children many times each day when they were old enough to sit on our laps and look at the pictures. In our first years of homeschooling I read aloud every day as well. Mostly I chose to read historical stories, biographies, or historical fiction. Landmark books were wonderful for these young listeners. We read about Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers and many more famous people. Besides history I also loved to read character building types of stories. These were always Christian books that used Bible precepts to reinforce important qualities that Christian children should have. One of our very favorite series was "The Miller's" by Mildred A. Martin. These are the titles we read; Wisdom and the Millers Proverbs for Children, Prudence and the Millers, School Days with the Millers and Missionary Stories with the Millers. All of the these books were huge hits with my youngsters, and were requested by them over and over again. This little series of books is in my "keepers" shelf of the bookshelf. Even now they are pulled out and reread by some of my children just because they were so loved. As I was saying, if you read to your children, they will grow to love reading themselves. We used to take weekly trips to the library, but as our own home library grew, our trips grew less. Building a library of wholesome books is so easy with the many homeschooling resources available through homeschooling catalogs or online stores. Now that my children are older they do have a love of reading. My daughter loves the old classics and has started a "Lamplighter" collection. My youngest son loves adventure and poetry and my oldest son loves to read informative books that help him to improve his understanding in his field of work. It is very exciting to see these fruits so many years later. I still enjoy reading aloud to my family and they also enjoy listening even now that they are almost grown.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Early Years


When we began home schooling our children they were ages 9,6 and 2. At that time I wanted to fill the day with workbooks and all the same kinds of curriculum that I had known as traditional types of schooling materials. I learned very quickly that this school at home type of homeschooling just wasn't for me. I was introduced to the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling which opened my eyes to a "new way" of schooling, although over one hundred years old. It was to live each day with a purpose and eyes wide open to the wonders of God's wonderful creation. With my new found enthusiasm I determined to "home educate" rather than to do school at home. First, I'd like to share with you the way we studied science. Since my children were still very young, I didn't believe I needed to be using a science text book or spending the money on it. My fifth grader had already been in public school and I wanted him to love science, not dread it. Nature study had always been my favorite so we began the school year in the late summer with an insect study. We made dragon flies out of cardboard tubes, with ping pong ball eyes, pipe cleaner antennae and velum wings. We went on nature walks and found Monarch caterpillars and watched them amazingly go into a chrysalis, and then pop out as a beautiful butterfly. We used God's word along with many critter books from the library and made our own journals and scrapbooks from our nature hunts. There are too many to mention here, but the adventures were plentiful and nature discoveries were endless! This was such a precious time for all of us. We all learned so much about God's creation and loved every minute of it. I have never regretted not using a text book for those study times. I strongly believe that this helped my children to understand the world around them and helped them to analyze and find out more for themselves. As I said, these were the early years, as they approached the middle years we used Apologia for our science curriculum which encourages a very hands on approach and has been a wonderful choice for our family. I'll share more on our early years in my next post.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Just Go!

As spring rolls in, so do various homeschooling organization's conventions. These conventions are a homeschooling mom's dream come true. All by itself, the vendor hall is worth the trip. There are books, books and more books almost as far as the eye can see. Aside from the books you can hear talks from veteran homeschoolers with a wealth of information. These talks encourage every member of the family. Many are geared toward biblical child rearing, to husbands encouraging their wives, to curriculum discussions and on and on. My family has attended several conventions and we always come home excited and reinvigorated. It is like a battery recharge in the spring, after a draining from the past year. I encourage you to set aside the weekend of your state convention. This year NH's convention is May 27 & 28. www.chenh.org/convention
I was happy to hear that their keynote speakers this year are the Mally family. We met them at the MASS hope convention and they are just delightful. www.masshope.org
They are two sisters and a brother who have written a book entitled; Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends. It is a hilarious, truthful, and very biblical story about their family and striving to be best friends with each other. They encourage families to choose being best friends with their siblings, and parents. They will be giving a talk on this along with many other helpful talks for young people and their parents. I encourage you to set the time aside to go to a convention. I guarantee that it will be a blessing! When you get together with like minded folks who want to raise and teach their children for the Lord, it is just an awesome experience. Please check into going. If you can go as a couple it's wonderful to get away. It is also fun to go as a family. My children always loved it when we took them along. Just go, and have fun!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Time For a Little Something



Welcome to my new blog. Please grab a cup of a little something and join me as I strive, along with many of you, to home educate my children. Officially I only have one student being "home schooled", but the fact of the matter is when you have your children living at home with you, no matter their age, they are still learning from you. Parents are the main influence on these young lives and as we all know we learn by living life. There is so much more to educating our children than opening up a certain curriculum with pencil and paper in hand, it is loving, nurturing, walking side by side and simply spending time with our children teaching them about every small detail of life. I hope to share with you in my posts some tidbits and lessons that I have learned over the last twelve years of my homeschooling adventure. I am still learning so much, as I think I've learned more from my own children than from the twelve plus years of my own formal education. Please know I don't intend for this to be an "I know it all" type of blog. I'll look forward to learning more along the way, and I hope to hear ideas from you as well. I pray that it will be a blessing and that I will only glorify my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for whom I desire my children to follow.