Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Getting Bendy

"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Philippians 4:11b)

I spent the majority of our first week of schooling learning to become bendy. A flexible spirit that "rolls with it" is one that I've tried to obtain for ... well, let's just leave out for how long! So I've had to throw out "the schedule" - yes, that's right ... that beautiful, color-coded schedule that made me smile so widely. 

Some of you might be smirking because you know how much a schedule like this brings joy to my life! But truth be told...I had to ask myself, "Is this for me, or them? What will work best for them?" Thus the restructuring of the days, the lessons, the setting. And so be it. We learn to be content with the new. 

So Abbie and I start school when she wakes up (which is always before 7am!) and get her lessons started early in the morning. To do this, I must have at least 2 cups of coffee in me to have my eyes open, so my rise-n-shine time is by 6am. And for those of you who know me at all ... this is truly an amazing feat! But I digress. This has become my sweet one-on-one time with Abbie ... the richness of conversation, quality time, and discovery has been amazing. She loves having me all to herself, and I'm not complaining one bit! I love having this time with her.

Ellie and Ben join in the fun mid-morning, which works just fine for getting Ellie's work started while Abbie's ready for some independence. Mid-morning has proven to be good time working with Ellie on her phonics:

and her history and science lessons. This past week was a 10-day study of creation:

We've all enjoyed other fun things throughout the day like math, science experiments, art, library visits, and read alouds. 

This week, Abbie started reading about the first pioneers and specifically reading about the voyage Christopher Columbus took from Spain. Today we made tin-foil ships - the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria - and launched them from one end of the tub (Spain) and tried to "blow" them to America since the only power those ships had was wind-power. 

I'm quite certain that Christopher's fleet was far safer than our tin-foil, lop-sided ships. : ) 

Science experiments are a family favorite around here ... Abbie's especially. Here she's discovering why bubbles are created when placing a container full of air under water. 

Did you know that North Dakota has the largest amount of sunflowers planted than any other state? South Dakota and Kansas are next in line. These are next week's focus of study! I'm arranging a field trip out to a local farmer's sunflower fields so we can see them up close and be able to see the whole process of the sunflower's life cycle. More to come on what we learn!

And I'll leave you with this ... a lovely, LARGE spider on my deck this afternoon about to have its lunch. Aron was able to capture it in a picture. I think I'd rather not encounter this furry friend anytime soon, but Ellie sure thought it was cool. 

Blessings to you all ... 


Monday, August 22, 2011

We Have Launched!

Psalm 90:14 - "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."

As I sat on the deck this early morning reading Psalm 90, I was reminded that our time is precious ... what moments we have here on this side of heaven are but a vapor to our Creator - and yet everything matters. It all counts. 

"Teach us to number our days, O LORD - that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Ps. 90:12) How will I spend THIS day? I'm sure it will entail being refined from the inside-out, as only the refiner's fire can. And this is how day 1 began ... being refined through His Word, His beautiful creation, and a quiet moment to reflect on the duty and devotion ahead.

My sweet Kindergartener ... so afraid of getting her "kindergarten shot" for the past 3 years that she fully intended on staying in preschool forever. Forget the shot, I say! We can do it later. Welcome to Kindergarten, my Sweet. : )

Second grade becomes her, yes?! Toes and fingernails freshly painted, outfit selected herself, and an eager smile for what is to come. Loves!

Getting started with spelling and handwriting...

Ellie is hard at work with her independent, creative playtime (with Ben). I believe she made an angel with stars. This just speaks again to this child's sensitivity to the spiritual realm. And my little man LOVES Play-Doh : )

Illustrating day 1 of creation ... "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light." (Gen. 1:2-4)

"What would you like to achieve by the end of 2nd grade, Abbie?"  (Click the picture for a closer look at her response.)

Yep. This is going to be good. Very, very good!

I've truly appreciated all the support and prayer from many of you readers! This is no small effort, and I mean it when I say that I covet your prayer in this. Many thanks to you all. 

And enough of this blogging for awhile! I've got work to do : ) 

Much love,

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Our Schoolroom

As we near day 1 of this adventure (Monday already!), the kids have been growing in their excitement as a result of watching their new schoolroom take shape. The purpose of this learning space isn't to limit them to these particular walls, of course. Learning is going to happen all the time (and some of which I'd rather them not imitate or mimic from me!). But this space will provide a gathering place each morning ... a rallying spot so to speak. It will give us time to organize, set some goals, teach and learn together, discover, question, and labor for parts of the day. I suspect we'll use the whole house, yard, community, and world for that matter on our learning adventure this year. But for now, I wanted to share our meeting place - our little "learning playground"- with those of you dear to our hearts who are also miles away.

The room we have to work with is a generously sized "bedroom" in the basement of our parsonage. This view is looking toward the schoolroom side. I'm SO thankful about the space we have for homeschooling, and the windows will also add some much-needed sunlight (YAH for vitamin D!) during the long winter months ahead.

Here we have a closer look at the corner we'll use for Circle Time, calendar math, morning movement to music, and a green bulletin board for displaying our learning. I ordered the blue calendar hanging chart as well as the math counting chart from, while the little school desk was donated by a friend-of-a-friend. Abbie's already staked her claim at it while Ellie wants the darker desk beneath the green board. : )

This is a closer look at the Circle Time board. We'll start each day with Bible reading, Scripture memory, daily prayer focus (Monday-Missionaries, Tuesday-The Church, Wednesday-The World, Thursday-Those Taken In, Friday-Family & Friends), music & motion, and calendar work. I took a lot of the calendar and weather chart ideas from another homeschooling mom and can't wait to use them! If you're interested, check out her ideas for your own kids at

This is a closer look at the reading corner we created. I believe this is the girls' favorite place in the schoolroom so far!  The quilt was handmade by a dear friend in Grand Island, NE when Ellie was born. We thought it added the perfect touch to our room! We'll also use this as our guest bed when you come stay with us. Of course that might mean I take a break from teaching and leave you in charge for the day! ; )

We'll try to incorporate work stations a few times a week while I'm working with each girl. We have listening/audio books, theater/drama, writing, blocks, computer & typing, among others. And several of my friends have advised me to have LOTS of bookshelves as a homeschooling family! The few I already have in here are already full. I think we might need more in time : )

On the other side of the schoolroom bookshelves are these cubbies in the "playroom" side. I loved the ideas Susan Stewart gave me from Perfectly Placed Professional Organizing to use baskets with picture-labels for the smaller toys! If you haven't already, check her out asap!!! She's an organizational genius! Check her out at

More of the playroom ... the girls often play "house" or restaurant here. The dark brown cubbies have also been wonderful for storing and organizing toys (Target).

Here is a shot of the girls' costume corner. Everything from prairie girls and princesses to cowgirls and fairies! I think this will remain a favorite side of the "schoolroom" for all three of the kids!

These shots might just give you a better image now of where we'll spend part of our days learning from each other this year. I've probably very likely spent WAY too much time, energy, and money on this project - but it truly is one of my favorite places to be and we're eager to discover and learn great things in here this year! Come see it in person SOON!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Preparing for Day 1

I'm not going to lie to you ... I'm scared. Scared to death of a 7 year old and a 5 year old. Scared that on our first day of home-educating, they'll look at me and without words communicate complete disappointment that this isn't the same as what they've already had in public school. That they miss their friends, think I'm not like "the other teachers" they've had, or worse yet - had more fun at School.

I've been in education for a long time and never have I had butterflies prior to a school year starting as I do now. Silly, perhaps. But true.

My husband keeps telling me how great we'll all be ... how I should relax more than I am. And he's probably right. What I haven't been able to communicate is this deeply-rooted fear that I can't pull this off. That my character ... my utter lack of patience and ongoing selfishness ... will cause the whole thing to implode.

But by God's grace, we can try ... and that is enough for me.

The girls are thrilled and keep sneaking into the "schoolroom" to check out their new books. Sit in a donated school desk. Play "school".  I pray the year ahead is everything they imagine it to be, and everything they can't even dream of ...

We're all going to learn so much!