Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Where School Happens in Our Home

I've seen a couple of posts about where people do school with their children and how they store their school supplies.  I thought I would join in, for those of you who are interested in such things.  As you can see, we do our school at the kitchen table.  I like having all of my children gathered around me as we do school, mostly because if I can see Mary, I can keep her out of trouble.  ;)  We do have a playroom that we could use as a school room, but then we'd have to invest in desks and such; besides, that room isn't insulated well, so it's hot in the summer and cold in the winter.  Maybe we'll move up there one day, but for now we use the kitchen table.

I have a cabinet in the kitchen where I keep the school books that we use every day along with the worksheets and other things that I need to pull out weekly for school.  (The other side of the cabinet has the kids' plates and cups and some coloring supplies.)

The books and things that we need occasionally throughout the year are stored in our library on this shelf.  Sarah Beth, Daniel, and Rachel also keep on this shelf their notebooks in which they store their school papers.  You can see our math flashcards and the phonics books we use here.

Upstairs, outside of Mary's room, we have a built in desk with shelves above it.  (I can't wait until my children are more independent and are able to use this desk and the one in Mary's room for their schoolwork.)  I keep the books that we're not using this year on one of these shelves along with the worksheets and things from previous years.  I don't know why I'm keeping those old worksheets; I think it's in case I get audited, although I don't think they do that for homeschoolers.

I don't know that I like keeping my school books in three different areas, but it's what is working for me this year.  Maybe next year I'll change things up some.

What about you?  Do you have a dedicated schoolroom, or do you use the kitchen table?  Where do you keep your school books?  Do you keep previous year's schoolwork?

Monday, September 29, 2014

September Reading

I've been feeling a little "blah" in my reading this month.  Nothing seemed to interest me, but since I always have to have a book to read, well, I found some things to keep me occupied.  I'm hoping next month will be better.
  • A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin.  Austin has become my new favorite author...at least, for now.  This book deals with four women from different backgrounds who decide to work building ships during World War II because of the shortage of men, and each woman has to figure out how this work will impact her life.  One woman is a housewife who has to figure out how to deal with her husband who doesn't want her to work.  Another is an "old maid" who feels she is too good for this job and the people with whom she works.  The third is a young woman wondering if she will still be able to attend college.  And the last woman is a newlywed trying to live peacefully with her in-laws.  I recommend this book along with the others I've read by this author.
  • Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan.  I must admit that this was a strange book, and I was tempted not to finish it.  But I have a hard time not finishing a book I have started.  In short, this book combined Elizabethan (the first one) London with fae.  It worked well enough, but I won't continue this series.
  • C.S. Lewis:  A Life Inspired by Christopher Gordon.  A short biography which I enjoyed.
  • First Lady: The Life of Lucy Webb Hayes by Emily Apt Geer.  I learned a lot about the time after the War Between the States and what being a president was like, but having read the book, I still can't figure out why Lucy Hayes was so important.
  • Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione by Chuck Black.  This young adult book was a short, fun read, perfect for boys, especially since a Christian wrote it.
  • Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full:  Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms by Gloria Furman.  This book does not contain a lot of helpful hints and practical suggestions to make mothers' lives easier.  Instead, she shows how the glory of the Gospel, how the risen Christ, can and should transform our lives as mothers.  I enjoyed this book and learned so much that I immediately reread it.  You can read more of my thoughts here.  
What have you read lately?  Do you ever feel "blah" about reading?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thankful Thursday: A Nice, Quiet Week

While wearing this dress, Mary started singing, "I a princess!  I a princess!"

It was good to get back to normal this week, at least the beginning part.  We were able to do school Monday and Wednesday with our usual CC on Tuesday.  Today will be an abbreviated school day because we've got some fun scheduled!

Here are a few things for which I'm thankful this week:
  • an upcoming visit from my mother.  Flight plans were finalized this week, so her visit is on my calendar.  Whoohoo!
  • lunch with a friend today...without children!
  • a babysitter who is willing to keep my four children plus my friends' two while we go out to lunch.
  • cooler weather; we're only in the mid-80's now.
  • fewer mosquitoes.  Apparently, all of the rain we've gotten recently has washed them away...but we're expecting more soon.
  • being able to play outside!
  • my salvation.
For what are you thankful this week?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: Bend Your Brain

Bend Your Brain contains 151 puzzles, tip, and tricks to blow and grow your mind, as the title says.  I love word games like these, so I was thrilled to be able to review this book.  And I had so much fun reviewing it!  The puzzles start off with relatively easy ones and progress to harder ones and then much harder ones.  Then you turn the page and start all over with a different kind of puzzle.  I could almost feel myself getting smarter as I worked the puzzles!

If you like work games, you will probably like this book.  And don't worry; you won't finish this book in one evening.  There are plenty of puzzles to keep you busy for a while.

I want to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Finished Object Friday: A Blanket for a Friend

John works with a couple that he wanted me to meet, and finally it worked out for us to have them over for supper.  I enjoyed meeting them and started having lunch with the wife occasionally (I've mentioned lunch with a new friend on here a couple of times).  They didn't have children, but it sounded like they wanted one fairly soon, so I wasn't surprised when John told me that she was pregnant.  I made this blanket from Our Best Knit Baby Afghans and gave it to her Wednesday when I had lunch with her...before she moves away.  :(  Her husband took a new job, and they're moving.  :(

I actually made this blanket before the other one, but I ran out of the pink yarn for the border.  And I really wanted to get the first blanket made before my friend moved away, so I put this one on hold.  Then I finally got the pink yarn I needed and finished the blanket.  You might recall that I made a similar blanket earlier in the year, but in boy colors.  This pattern is from Knit Baby Blankets.

This silly girl "photo-bombed" the picture I was trying to take of the striped blanket!  She's a cutie, too, isn't she?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thankful Thursday: A Wonderful Visit

Uncle Ray came for a visit over the weekend, and we really enjoyed having him with us.  We visited the Houston Museum of Natural History on Friday and kept closer to home on Saturday and Sunday.  Ray brought a special chess set that he got from missionaries to South America, depicting the Spanish and Incas.  He played many games of chess with Sarah Beth and Daniel, and I didn't feel too bad about losing to Daniel since Ray did once or twice, too.

Here are a few ways that God blessed us this week:
  • a wonderful visit with Uncle Ray
  • that he likes spending so much time with our children because they wouldn't leave him alone!  ;)
  • killing two birds with one stone, so to speak:  after dropping Ray off at the airport in Houston, we got to spend some time with friends who live there
  • the flexibility of homeschooling so we could take time off while Ray was here and spend that time with him
  • for the rain...
  • that is spotty instead of being continual
  • lunch with a friend who unfortunately is moving away...
  • but she's moving to my hometown, so we'll still be able to get together when I visit my parents
  • the ease of getting a new library card since I lost my last one
For what are you thankful this week?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday's Quote: "If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee"

I've been reading through Then Sings my Soul Book 2:  150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories by Robert J. Morgan, and I really enjoy learning about the people who wrote some of my favorite hymns and the stories that inspired them.  When I read this hymn by Georg Neumark, I discovered one that I had forgotten.  What a wonderful hymn it is, full of truth!

If thou but suffer God to guide thee,
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He'll give thee strength, whate'er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days;
Who trusts in God's unchanging love
Builds on the Rock that naught can move.

Only be still, and wait His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate'er Thy Father's pleasure
And all-discerning love hath sent;
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.

Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
So do thine own part faithfully;
And trust His Word, though undeserving,
Thou yet shall find it true for thee;
God never yet forsook at need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.

Hymns like this one comfort my soul when hard times come.  I praise God that He moved men and women to write hymns such as this one.

Do you have a favorite hymn?  Or are there too many to count?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Rachel's Clean Bill of Health and No More Methotrexate!

This week has been not-quite-crazy busy.  It started over the weekend when we were out of town for John's brother's wedding, and we didn't get back until late Sunday night.  I had a dentist appointment Monday afternoon, and since I had a babysitter, I ran a couple of other errands, as well, while I was out.  So I was gone all afternoon.  Tuesday was our homeschool co-op and then Teachers' Night Out for homeschooling mothers.  Yesterday, Rachel had a doctor's appointment up in Houston, and we visited the Lego Store beforehand which was fun.  And today, we're heading back to Houston to pick up family who is coming into town.  John is taking tomorrow off, and who knows what we'll end up doing.  No wonder I'm so tired!

But this week is also full of things for which to be thankful:
  • first of all, for Rachel's clean bill of health...
  • and that we get to stop giving her methotrexate!
  • that family is coming into town
  • clean teeth :)
  • supper out with friends
  • new friends
  • a babysitter who can come during the week
  • children who didn't expect us to buy them something at the Lego Store although they would have been disappointed, I'm sure, if we hadn't.  (How do you visit the Lego Store without buying anything?)
Mostly, I'm thankful that God chose me before the foundations of the world to be His (Ephesians 1:4), but how wonderful that He didn't stop there!  He lavishly bestows all kinds of good things on me every single day!

For what are you thankful this week?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Top Ten Influential Books

I was tagged on facebook by one of my good friends to tell about the ten books that have influenced me the most.  Because I blog (and because I thought this post might be too long for facebook), I wrote it all out here.  And yes, I realize that there are more than ten books on this list.  But it was really hard to narrow it down, or maybe it was really hard to come up with ten?  I'm not sure.  ;)
  1. The Bible.  Without this book, where would I be?  On the road to hell, that's for sure!
  2. Heaven by Randy Alcorn.  This book revolutionized my thoughts about Heaven and how wonderful a place it will be.  Before I read this book, I couldn't wait to get there, and now I know why!
  3. If God is Good by Randy Alcorn.  I already had a grasp on how a good God can allow or cause bad things to happen, but this book expanded my knowledge a hundred-fold.
  4. White Fang by Jack London.  I remember buying this book from a Scholastic flyer in the fourth grade; it was probably the first book I ever bought with my very own money.  I read it so many times as a child that it has to have had some kind of influence even though I'm not sure what it could be.  (And I still have my copy!)
  5. Watership Down by Richard Adams.  With this book, I learned not to be afraid of a book just because it's long.  I read it for the first time in the fifth grade.
  6. Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot.  This book introduced me to Elisabeth Elliot when I was a young Christian in high school, and I couldn't read enough of her books.  I learned so much through them.
  7. A Word in Season Volume 1 by R.J. Rushdoony.  I read this book a couple of years ago, and it changed the way I thought about social problems.  They can't be changed by anything but the Gospel no matter how well-meaning people are.
  8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  I can't tell you how many times I've read these books, and I always enjoy them.  Now my children are gaining an appreciation of them, as well, which thrills my soul.  My favorite is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Which is yours?
  9. 10-20-30 Minutes to Learn to Crochet.  I learned to crochet by reading and studying this book, and crocheting opened a door to crafting that I didn't know I would enjoy so much.  And since I taught myself to crochet, I figured I could teach myself to knit, too.  And I did!
  10. Horse books:  The Rider's Handbook by Sally Gordon's and Encyclopedia of the Horse by Elwyn Hartley Edwards.  Horses were such a big part of my life for so long that I have to include these two books.  I received both of them for a birthday, I think my thirteenth.  I did not have a horse yet, but I had started taking lessons.  I read and reread these books so many times, dreaming of my own horse.
Now I'm supposed to tag people, and I'll do that on facebook...except for Tracey at Girls to Grow who isn't on facebook.  Tracey, what ten books have influenced you the most?  And other readers, what books have influenced you?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday's Quote: We Need Christian Community and Fellowship

When I read this quote from Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman, I realized how much I needed to hear this wisdom because I tend to keep my friendships shallow and superficial.
We need other Christian women in our lives to help us grasp how wide, how long, how high, and how deep is the love of Jesus.  Compartmentalizing our spiritual life away from our interactions with other women is unhelpful and spiritually damaging.  When we relegate our fellowship with other women to discussions of fleeting things and avoid talking about how eternity is pressing on our heart, we're not doing ourselves or our friends any favors. 
Christian women are sisters on the deepest level of community, bonded in Christ together for all eternity.... 
It's true that other mothers can give you great advice on childcare and support your parenting decisions, but Christian sisters can give each other so much more.  Jesus gives us Himself, and He gives us sisters to strengthen each other as we learn more about His love that surpasses knowledge. 
God designed us to need each other.
Thankfully, God has given me a couple of friends who encourage me to open up with them and deepen our friendships.  And now I'm going to work on deepening other friendships, as well, because I see how keeping them shallow is hurting myself and my friends.

Do you work at deepening your friendships?  How do you do it?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Our 2014-2015 Curriculum

Since I enjoy reading about what others use to teach their children at home, I thought I would share with you what I use, in case you enjoy reading these types of posts, too.

First of all, we are part of a Classical Conversations community which is basically a co-op that includes the curriculum.  Through it, my older three children are memorizing an enormous amount of material which they will then learn to use throughout the rest of their homeschool journey.

Math.  We started using Saxon Math when Sarah Beth was in kindergarten, and we've enjoyed it these past few years.  I appreciate the repetition and how the concepts are broken down into easy-to-learn segments, although my children aren't always so thrilled.  I have to admit, however, that we usually skip all the "intro" stuff and just dive into the lesson.  Otherwise, it takes too long!  And since I already have the teacher's manuals, we've kept using it and plan to keep using it through Mary. Daniel is using Saxon 2 and Sarah Beth Saxon 5/4.

Bible.  We finished up Genesis to Joshua the first few weeks since we didn't quite finish the book last year, and we will start Judges to Kings as soon as our materials get here.

Grammar.  Last year, I started Sarah Beth on Shurley English Level 1, and it was very good.  But I've put it on hold this year until I get her writing and spelling where they need to be.

Reading.  I started Hooked on Phonics with Sarah Beth after buying it super cheap on sale, and it works well enough.  Daniel started the second grade year, and I've started Rachel with her letters.

Writing.  We started Cursive First with our children, and we use these workbooks from Classical Conversations to help implement it.  Sarah Beth is working her way through Spelling Plus, and I don't think it will take long since she's such an avid reader.

Science.  We love the series from Answers in Genesis, and we're going through The Human Body to complement what we're studying in CC.

History.  Basically, I'm just checking out books from the library and showing appropriate DVD's to my children that correlate to what we're studying that week in CC.

Do you enjoy these types of posts?  What are you using for your children?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book Review: The Berenstain Bears Blessed are the Peacemakers by Mike Berenstain

In The Berenstain Bears:  Blessed Are the Peacemakers by Mike Berenstain,  the cubs have another problem with which to deal.  They are caught in the middle between two groups of cubs at their school:  the teasing bullies and the smart kids.  These two groups want nothing to do with each other, but they are forced to cooperate when their school decides to put on a play.

Like most of the Berenstain Bears books, my children and I enjoyed this one.  It was a little far-fetched when the whole town (it seemed) got caught up in the rivalry between the two groups, but that part was very short.  The main message of trying to get along with the people around us came through the story.  And I appreciated that the author used Scripture to make his point.

I want to thank BookLook Bloggers for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.