It’s Student Week!

08.15.2011 | 2:06 pm | Homeschooling

The HOTM (Not) Back to School Blog Hop is still going. Last week was Schoolroom Week (thanks to all who stopped by to look and leave a comment for us!), and now this week is Student Photo Week! Here are my students and a little about them.

I’ll start with the youngest, D (on the right, up front).

D is three years old but will turn four next month. He’s a complete mess, as you can probably tell. He has a silly streak that’s fairly new, as he’s always been our serious fellow. And he still is very “old soul” most of the time. He’s all boy, rough and fearless in all his play. He’s strong-willed like no child I’ve ever known— we’ve had some power battles with him you probably wouldn’t believe! But oh, how I love him. We had a rought start, he & I, as I had a hard time bonding with him until he was much older (long story). Now, it’s as if all the love has come flowing out of me for him at full volume, overflowing and spilling out daily. I’m crazy about this boy, I cherish his place as my “baby”, and I find it very hard to tell him “no” (but I do when necessary). He gets a lot of spoiling as the baby of the family, by all of us.

D is just starting out as an official student this year. He knows his alphabet, can count to 20, and knows all the basic colors and shapes. I’ve done a little work with him, but he learned most of it from just living life or from his big brother.
We’re going to be doing preschool work, learning all the letter sounds and how to write them, as well as all the other typical preschool things— but letter sounds and writing are at the top of my priority list for him.

My oldest student is G (on the left). You’ll have to look past the ham who stuck his face in front of the camera at the last second. ;)

G is seven & a half years old and is doing 3rd grade this year. He’s my sensitive, sweet boy. There’s not a mean or even a rough bone in his body. He’s insatiably curious and intellectual, and prefers academia to any kind of sport or roughhousing. He loves nature (particularly birds) and being outside exploring. I kind of regret not going the Charlotte Mason route with him, because it fits him perfectly. But it’s not too late to start, and he’s already led us in a CM direction on his own, anyway. I’m researching and considering how to do CM, while still giving him a rock-solid traditional education in math & grammar.
This year we’re doing math (Abeka), language (R&S), history (MOH), science (Apologia), writing (WWE), and learning cursive (ARFH). He’s a pleasure to teach because he loves learning and picks everything up very easily.

We’ve been doing school “lite” for a couple of weeks now, and this week we’re diving into a fulltime load. I’m looking forward to having them both at the table with me this year— with bare feet, of course! ;)

Check out all the other students on showcase this week at The Heart of the Matter Online’s (Not) Back-To-School Blog Hop’s Student Photo Week:

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Our Schoolroom

08.12.2011 | 10:20 pm | Homeschooling

Once again, we’re participating in the annual (Not) Back-To-School Blog Hop: Schoolroom Week over at Heart of the Matter Online. It’s my favorite week of the year in HS blog world, the week everyone posts pictures and descriptions of their schoolroom! I got so many storage, organization, and setup ideas this way when I was first dreaming up our homeschool space, and now I’m happy to share what I’ve done with ours, as well as keep looking at everyone else’s spaces— I usually spend several weeks checking these out during my downtime, eventually hitting every single post so I can see each schoolroom.

Without further ado, here is our schoolroom, aka our dining area, which we use for both functions daily. We’ve been in this house for two years and I’m still tweaking how I store things and how we use the space we’ve been blessed with. I’ll share all the details as the pics progress. :) And please, keep in mind that all my spaces are freshly cleaned out and organized for the new school year; they don’t represent the chaos of everyday life yet at this point. Not by any means. That should be a given, but last year I was actually criticized on a homeschool page on Facebook where we were sharing our schoolroom pics— for having too neat a space. True story! Thankfully, most of my fellow HS moms were quick to defend me by saying that we’re all starting out fresh and neat and presenting our spaces in their best form— sharing ideas and solutions with each other.

Here is a shot of the table, where all the action happens, both during school time and at breakfast, lunch, snack time, and dinner:

Those are, of course, my students, whom I’ll be showcasing next week. This was taken just after I’d finished giving them both their lessons and they were doing their work. “Work” for the little one consists of tracing dots I made on the lapboard. He loves doing that!

This is the room as you walk into it from our foyer/living area. The kitchen is to the right.

I panned around the room. The cabinets in the corner I had added to our house plans with the specific intent of having a homeschool supply cabinet. I love having it more than words can express.

This is with my back to the kitchen. We love the view out of our windows— nothing but trees in our yard and across the street.

Facing into the living area. G is making faces, because…that’s just what he does.

Now to the organization & storage breakdown.
I use the countertop of the school cabinets to store all the books we use daily. My teacher manuals, answer keys, their workbooks, and all the various texts and supplementary materials we need to get our hands on easily, most every day. I bought a simple plastic vertical file sorter to hold them all up neatly. I love this setup. It really does stay mostly this neat all year, because as long as we put the books back up, they stay orderly and neat.

We also keep our printer/scanner up there, and of course our pencils & sharpener. All used daily.

This is one of the top cabinet shelves. Way up top, I keep all the books/manuals/materials from G’s previous grades, to use in the future with D. On the lower shelves I have various supplies like stickers & dominoes, and that bin holds D’s magnetic letters. I have a space made there for a bucket of counting bears, which I hope to be able to buy soon.

These are the other top shelves. Way up top are boxes of G’s previous years’ work and extra school supplies. Middle shelf is all art supplies and other supplies that the boys know are off limits unless they ask and someone gets it down for them (basically, the messy stuff I don’t want them getting into on their own.) The bottom shelf is not school-related but is just our medicine/vitamin shelf. Didn’t know how to not include it, but please just ignore. ;)

Here is a view of all the bottom cabinets. Left side I keep those file shelves for filing finished worksheets & papers, each boys’ folders of artwork for the year, notebook paper, and handwriting paper. In the middle is a box of used paper, printed on one side, that my dad gave the boys for drawing & writing on. Above that I have file shelves with printer paper. Right side is paper and materials I save for them to paint on. I save all cardboard scraps, fancy white paper (like, for instance, when you buy a picture frame, the glossy sheet you get that’s plain white on the back? Perfect for little ones to paint on!), newsprint from packages…I keep anything they can paint on, that I don’t have to pay for.
The shelves way in the back I just use for storing containers and things we may use in the future. Those shelves are extremely hard to get to…or maybe I’m just getting old.

These are the drawers. Nothing exciting, just various supplies, but maybe someone will get an idea or two, like the baskets for drawer dividers. Love having those!

Another pic of the students, obviously hard at work. ;-)

You can see a white cabinet over there in the corner; I use that for more storage. On top is our globe, clock, flag, and I have a tray that we use to store change for money counting practice (and currently, it’s holding G’s stuffed bird collection). And inside…

Top shelf is extra workbooks, books, and materials that are not our daily-use things, but that I use from time to time. On the right I have magazine files with coloring and activity books; most of these are just for-fun things and not school-related.
2nd shelf holds the only art supplies they have free range with: their markers, crayons, and colored pencils. And I see there are some flash cards there, too.
3rd shelf holds flash cards and normally there are learning games and manipulatives there in the empty space, but I guess they were out being used on picture day.
Bottom shelf is where I store extra binders, schoolbooks we’re going to use this year but aren’t using yet (his Apologia science set is down there…yay!), and the binders in which I keep G’s state portfolio, in the event it’s ever requested.

That’s an exhaustive tour of our schoolroom. Thanks for stopping by! I love comments. :) Be sure to stop by and check out all the other schoolrooms on display this week at The Heart of the Matter Online:

2011-12 Curriculum, with Cost Analysis (just for fun!)

07.8.2011 | 9:42 am | Homeschooling

It’s almost time to gear up for school again! I made my curriculum decisions in early June and then I set to work buying everything we need—quite a task, because I buy everything I possibly can used, via homeschool curriculum boards online and also from our local homeschool consignment store. This allows me to buy books for half the retail price, sometimes much less. The only thing I buy new is consumable workbooks, and I even find those “used” sometimes, but with only a couple of pages filled out.
It’s hard mental work scouring the listings, and scoring an item can be very competitive. When I find something I want for the price I want, I have to jump on it quickly. Still, often, by the time my inquiry email reaches the seller, the book in question is already spoken for by someone whose email got there first. It can be very frustrating! But I stuck with it, kept emailing vigilantly, and within a week’s time I scored an entire curriculum for G at half the price of new. The items I buy are used, but in like-new condition (I ignore items listed in lesser condition).
So what did I choose? Let me share. :) I’m also going to list the retail price of each item, followed by the price I actually paid. Because I’m all thrifty like that, and seeing the difference makes me feel good.

Math- Abeka Arithmetic 3 I’ll be sticking with Abeka for math through elementary math, for sure. It’s hands down the most thorough, advanced, and traditional math program out there. Any curriculum that helps my 7 yr old score 99th percentile nationwide in math, is a keeper in my book. And it’s easy to teach: the lessons contain word-for-word dialogue for me to use to explain new concepts. I just can’t say enough good things about Abeka’s math program.
Materials Purchased: Teacher manual, Answer keys, Student Books- Retail Cost: $113. My Cost: $61.

Language- For the first semester, we’re going to finish up our Rod & Staff Building Christian English book. Then we’ll start Abeka Language 3. Both very strong, traditional language programs.
Materials Purchased: Teacher Manual, Answer key, Student Book- Retail Cost: $76.50. My Cost: $35.

Writing- Again, sticking with what has worked wonderfully for us: Writing With Ease 3. We used book 2 last year, and I saw G’s writing improve by leaps and bounds. He scored above 99th percentile nationwide on the writing fluency section of his testing in June. WWE uses the simple approach of listening, narrating, and dictating to create strong writing skills. It works.
Retail Cost: $34.95. My Cost: $20.

Handwriting- I didn’t do cursive handwriting with G last year. I decided to let him work more on perfecting his manuscript. This year, we’ll do cursive. He’s using A Reason For Handwriting. Cursive practice will focus on writing meaningful verses. At the end of each week, a special page is given to write out the verse in his best handwriting, decorate & color the pictures, and then give to someone who might need a blessing. I can’t wait to use this!

Spelling- Can you believe I didn’t do a spelling program with G at all last year? I decided he didn’t need one, since he’s such a gifted speller (he gets that from both his parents. It’s our claim to fame. Spelling masters, we are! ;-)). On his yearly evaluation test last month, he scored 99.9th percentile nationwide in spelling. That’s the highest score possible. Out of 1000 children his age, he would be one of the top two scorers. Spelling is just his thing.
All that said, he needs to learn to spell harder words and to nail down all the rules and exceptions. Enter Spelling Power. For grades 3-12, this is the only spelling book my boys will need. We’ll never do those weekly spelling lists that contain words he already knows how to spell (I hated this part of my school career—what a waste of time!). With SP, 15 minutes a day (on the days we choose to do it) helps identify words he doesn’t know how to spell, and he works on those words until he masters them. Over the years, he’ll master the 5,000 most misspelled words in the English language, and so will his brother, and this is the only book I’ll have to buy. Looking forward to this.
Retail Cost: $64.95. My Cost: $18. On this one I saved big by buying the previous edition, used but in good condition.
This is a one-time buy and will be both boys’ spelling curriculum for their entire school career.

History- We have about 6 weeks left to cover in The Mystery of History I. Then we’re moving on to The Mystery of History II. We both enjoyed MOH I so much, so of course we’re continuing. It’s history given in chronological order, including Biblical history. It’s nothing short of amazing. G declared history to be his favorite subject thanks to this incredible curriculum.
Retail Cost: $49.95. My Cost: $25.
These are pricey, but once I buy all four volumes (and I’m halfway there!), I’ll have both boys’ complete history curriculum for their entire school career. This curriculum is made to be done 2-3 times over, with more research and questioning each time as the student progresses in age and knowledge.

Science- I’m diving into an official science program this year. I chose the gold standard, the curriculum that gets raves from every Christian homeschooler: Apologia Elementary Science. There are six volumes: Astronomy, Botany, Anatomy, Zoology I (Birds), Zoology II (Fish), Zoology III (Land Animals). All from a Christian, creationist POV. All six books cover the entire elementary science years, up until about 7th grade. Each book can be used by students of all ages, so they’ll be both G and D’s science curriculum. It hurt to buy them all at once, but we’ll be using them for years to come, and they’ll have a high resale value—IF the boys will even want to give them up. The material is presented in a very easy to understand fashion, and there are lots of projects and experiments, but they’re simple ones that use materials that every household has on hand. I’m very excited about them and can’t wait to start, and neither can G. He wants to do the Birds volume first, so I guess I’ll start with that one.
I bought all six volumes.
Retail Cost: $234, at $39 per volume.
My Cost: $126, at an average of $21 per volume. They were all used, in excellent condition.
This was a major purchase, but it will cover both boys’ science up through 7th grade.

Bible- I think we’re going to read through the Gospels this year, chapter by chapter. And discuss each chapter daily. Linked with Bible teaching, I’m going to do a Character-Building curriculum as well. I’m going to use Kids of Integrity, a free resource from Focus on the Family. There is so much material there! A week’s worth of activities, lesson plans, discussion ideas, and more, for each of 22 featured character traits. Looking forward to this.

Art- I’ve never felt the need to do a formal art curriculum, because we’re all artists in this house and we create art all the time…I figured formal study of artists could wait until later years. But I stumbled upon this free download recently, and can’t resist adding it to the docket for this year. A unit study on the World’s Greatest Artists. We may not have time every week, but we can do this when we have time. And if we don’t get to do it this year, then I have it for next year, or whenever we get around to it.

And for Little D, well, he’s joining us at the school table this year! He’ll be doing preschool work. Learning letter sounds and numbers, and to write. He knows his alphabet and can count to 30. I’ll be doing a letter and number per week until we get through the alphabet, with him learning each sound and each number value. He’ll also be learning to write those letters and numbers. There’s a world of free material online for preschool, so I won’t have to buy anything.

I added up the total retail cost for everything, as well as my total cost buying most everything used. Here are those totals:
Retail Cost for everything: $573.35
My Cost for everything: $285
That’s almost exactly half price! And everything I buy is in either new or like-new condition. Postage for anything I don’t buy locally is included in the prices. This, my friends, is an example of a frugal mama at work. Now if I could just get all our tax money back that goes to the local schools we don’t use, and use that to pay for all this…maybe someday homeschoolers will be able to do that! As it is, we rely on a generous scholarship from Philip’s parents to buy all this. Without them, we’d have to starve in order to pay for it all (that’s not much of an exaggeration).

And that concludes my long, exhaustive post on our 20011-12 curriculum! I’m chomping at the bit to get started, so we may start up here in the next couple of weeks. :)

If you end up liking and deciding to buy any of these materials new, will you consider using my Amazon link in my sidebar? :D

Displaying Children’s Art

06.21.2011 | 11:12 am | Homeschooling

I’ve always struggled with how to display my boys’ works of art. I’ve gone the usual fridge route, but as a homeschooling family, we tend to have lots of artwork and school papers to display—way more than my fridge could possibly hold. And I have to admit, I love the look of a clean, tidy stainless steel fridge, not covered with anything.

For the two years we’ve been living and homeschooling in this house, I’ve used a white cabinet with doors to hold school supplies and books. It sits in our dining area, which is also our homeschool area. I’ve used this cabinet as our artwork/schoolwork display area by taping each work of art or special schoolwork paper up on the doors of the cabinet. It’s worked, but I’ve never loved having a cabinet with taped-up papers all over it, and it also only holds so many papers in just that one spot. I considered the typical string with clothespins idea, but it’s too cluttery for me and doesn’t look very nice from a design standpoint—at least not in my dining area. I also considered putting up lots of frames on the wall and displaying them that way. That would look very nice, but it’s a little pricey for me and switch-out is a bit difficult, especially because I like to frequently rotate what’s displayed.

I racked my brain for ideas on how to tastefully display their artwork & schoolwork, in a way that blends with our design and decor. Then one day I was in T.J. Maxx, and I saw a plaque made for displaying kids’ works of art; it had three metal clips attached to it for gripping papers. It was $15. After balking at that ridiculous price, I realized if I were to go that route, I’d have to buy at least four of those plaques to display the amount of artwork we usually had up at any given time—that would be $60. Not doable for our budget. And I didn’t even particularly like the design of these plaques; they had multi-colored lettering in a “cutesy” kids’ handwriting font. It just wasn’t my thing. But it got my gears turning, and I wondered, could I make my own clip system somehow, and at a much lower cost? Yes. Yes, I could!

I measured our dining area’s wall between the two main windows, which is where I’d always envisioned hanging the boys’ artwork. Then I went to Lowe’s and had strips of wooden trim cut to size (cost was less than $10 for four strips). I stained them the same color as our kitchen cabinets (puritan pine). Then we used finish nails to nail them up on the wall between the windows (we nailed into studs), and I filled the nail holes. Lastly, I bought some metal bulldog clips. You can buy these at office supply stores, but they’re kind of pricey there for the amount I needed, so I ordered a box of 30 clips from for around $10. I screwed the clips directly into the wooden strips, at intervals spaced far enough to hold the usual size of their schoolwork papers. The result? Awesome, in my opinion!


A closer look:

Closer still, view of the bulldog clip I used:


Since it’s our summer break, there’s no schoolwork on display, just artwork. Normally we have a lot of special school papers on display, and the clips are set up to do that when we’re back to school. The boys have been doing lots of painting during these past few weeks, and now those paintings can be tastfully displayed with my new system. The best part is how easy it is to switch out pictures and papers- just clip or unclip! They’ll be in use for years.

I had a couple of extra strips of wood, so I used one to go on our other dining area wall, the one I use to display our calendar and any semi-permanent posters. I used to have to tape those things directly on the wall, which not only looked tacky, but would take paint off every time I removed something. Now I have a dedicated display strip! I chose to paint this strip the same color as the wall, to make it blend in. I think it turned out great.


Right now, our only displayed item is the Ten Commandments and G’s model of a red pileated woodpecker. During our school year, I have unit posters and other things I like to display, and I can’t wait to use my new clip strip. I also found a way to better hang that calendar: I bought velcro strips! I put a small strip of velcro on each corner and in the middle, and stuck the backing to the wall in each corresponding spot. Now the calendar doesn’t fall down constantly anymore when tape wears out! I did the same for our month plaque; it’s also attached via velcro strip.

One more close-up of a bulldog clip and how it’s attached:


This was one of the projects I wanted to finish up during our summer break. It was really easy, just somewhat time-consuming on the day I stained/painted the strips and had to wait for them to dry between coats. And the total cost was less than $20! I’m so pleased with how they turned out. I still have an extra strip left over and plan to put that up in G’s room, for hanging all the posters and things he likes to have on his walls.
I recommend considering this system if you have lots of things to display, and want to do so in a way that integrates into your decor, yet makes switch-out quick and easy.

Announcing my NEW Blog!

06.10.2011 | 9:45 am | Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Ms. Understood…Homeschools! has moved to a new URL! Make the appropriate changes in your links or whatever you use to get here. All three of you. :D If you use a feed reader, you’ll want to change the address. The new address is .

I’m also sporting a brand-new look, thanks to my designer subjecting himself to hours of technical misery working tirelessly over several nights, so check it out if you have the chance. I know in this age of feed readers, readers rarely click over and never actually see anyone’s blog design (I know I rarely do, because I rarely ever comment on anyone’s blog, because I always have issues with the commenting software and can rarely ever successfully leave a comment!), but since he worked so hard, give it a quick looky-loo if you have time and are feeling wild. ;-)  It’s not completely finished; there are still a good many tweaks to be made, but it’s working overall and has a few new features…for instance, I actually updated my pages. My “About” page actually has current info now, rather than info from five years ago (yes, my old one actually said I had only one child—who was two, and that I’d been happily married for 8 years. lol).

In addition to my new “About” page, I added a page on “My Students“, featuring and highlighting each of my little students, and also a page for “Our Curriculum”, which highlights what we use (to be updated very soon with our new 3rd grade curriculum choices!).

Speaking of the few tweaks we need to make, we’re trying to fix my blogroll & links so that they’re in some kind of order that makes sense (it drives me crazy to have homeschool, political, humor, and family/mothering blogs and links all mixed up together), but so far we haven’t found the right plugin. If anyone has a suggestion on how to change link order, please let me know.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy summering! We’re enjoying our time off!

Getting to Know You…er, Me.

05.26.2011 | 4:53 pm | Uncategorized

I saw this on a homeschool blog and since I’m feeling under the weather today, took a little break to fill it out.

Your family is…

My husband and our two sons, G who is 7, and D who is 3. And me. :)

Name 5 homeschool products you cannot live without.

I’m not a “product” person; in other words, I’m frugal and live very simply (read that as VERY simply). I don’t spend money on gadgets and other things that most people think they can’t live without. Um, that said, I certainly couldn’t live without my laptop. It’s a crucial homeschooling tool for today; I do all my curriculum research and most of my curriculum-buying via my computer. So that’s the one thing I’d say I can’t live without. Everything else, I guess I already am surviving without.
Read More »

Three Things

05.24.2011 | 3:01 pm | Homeschooling

One: We are DONE with school for the summer!

Two: I’ve actually updated my blog! (Mostly.)
Philip made me a new header to represent the change in my blogging goals, and I updated my “About”, plus added two new pages to showcase my boys and our curriculum.
I weeded out blogroll blogs and links that were old and nonfunctional (um, well over half of them). I still have to get around to actually adding the many blogs I follow.

Three: We. Are. BUSY! I don’t know when I’ll post again. But my goal is to start back to school at the end of July, so I’ll definitely be back to posting then, if not before.

Have a great summer, if you’re taking time off!

Last Few Weeks’ Wrap-up

05.3.2011 | 11:56 am | Homeschooling

Schoolwork has been routine these past few weeks.

We’re so close to wrapping up math! Only four more lessons and we’re done. They’re all review lessons. We wrapped up the year with G knowing his multiplication and division tables up through the fives. He has completed his addition and subtraction facts; we went all the way to the 20 family. He’ll spend his summer break reviewing all these facts ad nauseum, because Abeka’s 3rd grade math course dives right into things with the expectation that these facts are all completely mastered.

We’re halfway through his English textbook and are about to finish up our unit on pronouns, so that will be a perfect stopping place for the summer break. We have four days’ worth of review work left, and then he’ll have a final unit test. So he’ll finish this year having learned nouns, verbs, and pronouns. Next year we’ll pick back up where we left off, and he’ll learn adjectives and adverbs, as well as a unit on putting everything together with proper usage.

We have nine more lessons left in G’s writing course, so we should finish that up within two weeks. We’ve so enjoyed this course, and G’s ability to write independently has improved dramatically. A really neat thing that’s happened over the past few weeks is that some of our weekly selections have been about ancient Greece (Athens and Sparta), and very coincidentally, our history lessons have also been covering ancient Greece. For example, we’d read and G would summarize a passage about the daily lives of Spartan boys (very brutal, in case you aren’t familiar), and then our history lesson would cover Sparta and would also mention their harsh practices, including toward their children.
We’ve also covered selections from great works of fiction, including The Hobbit, some Hans Christian Anderson tales, and a couple of whimsical poems (Rebecca: Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably had G giggling all the way throughout).

History has covered the aforementioned ancient Greeks, as well as the Persians and Israelites. We’ve just finished up a quarter that stopped with the book of Malachi in the Old Testament, and we started a new quarter (the final quarter in this book, Volume I of The Mystery of History) this week. It started off with Plato and Aristotle, and it looks like we’ll be on to King Philip of Macedonia and Alexander the Great next week. We won’t finish up this book by the end of the year, but will pick it back up next year. I’ll have to find a stopping place in a couple of weeks—probably a good place would be when Rome takes over control of the ancient world, which is coming up pretty quickly after Alexander.

We finished up all of our Journey to the Cross lessons as of yesterday. I can’t recommend this book enough for the Easter season. I learned so much from it! There are so many little details regarding the end of Jesus’ life that I’d never known or completely understood, but now I do. For instance, the Bible says that after Jesus arose, he folded his facecloth neatly and placed it by where he’d lain. But do you know the significance of that small detail? In Jewish culture during those days, the practice was for dinner guests to use their napkin to signal what they thought of the meal. If a guest enjoyed the meal very much, he would crumple his napkin and leave it in the middle of his bowl. But if he hadn’t enjoyed the meal and didn’t intend to come back to that house to eat again, he would fold his napkin neatly and lay it to the side. So think about it, and you’ll see what Jesus thought of his whole death experience. I loved that! And the book is full of little details like that.

G has done a lot of independent reading since my last update, but I can’t remember a lot of the selections. He read a couple of Henry Huggins books, which he liked, but not as much as the Ramona books. He also read Pick of the Litter, a book about a boy who visits his grandpa for the summer and falls in love with a particular puppy that was born, but has to deal with the fact that his grandpa had promised that puppy to someone else. G liked this book okay, but was bored with it for a long time at first, because it took nearly twenty chapters before they even introduced the puppy. He is currently reading Stuart Little and is enjoying it very much.

G has busied himself lately with doing lots of planting out in his section of the yard. He’s been digging up little weeds and bushes near the woods and transplanting them to a little section of yard he’s designated for “his” plantings. When inside, he’s been writing up tutorials detailing how to transplant and plant, with illustrations of each step. He’s done a dozen other little writing and art projects over this time as well—he’s always doing something like that, and he always keeps himself busy that way. It’s amazing what creative ventures a child will come up with when they’re not in front of a TV or video game console. Those mindless intrusions—especially the latter—make me so sad for this generation coming up. This reminds me-
G has spent a good deal of time with our neighbor lately, an older widower who lives down in the woods to the side of us. Mr. H has a fascinating, lovely yard with a fish pond, a garden, and a myriad of plants and trees. He’s into woodworking and has made several old-fashioned toys for the boys lately. He likes to buy a bunch of crickets at the bait store and calls the boys over to “help” him feed them to the fish in his pond. It’s sweet because he’s really enjoying their company when he would otherwise just be by himself. And the boys love the time over there because there are so many unusual things for them to do. I absolutely love this neighborhood! Aside from the couple our age living next door, all our other immediate neighbors are seniors—most are widows living alone (or in Mr. H’s case, a widower). The atmosphere is classy, friendly and caring—and quiet. Except for when the neighbor girls are outside; then it’s loud! But not the bad kind of loud. And, like most other kids these days, they’re hardly ever outside. A real shame.

I’ll update again when we finish up. No more than two more weeks and we are on summer break! :)

Instead of a Wrap-Up, I’ll just ramble for a while.

04.28.2011 | 9:15 am | Homeschooling

Why so long since the last homeschool wrap-up, or any update for that matter? Oh, have we been busy! The schedule over the past few weeks has been full of all-day yardwork, with breaks taken only for schoolwork, working out, and my continuous doctor appointments (which relate both to the serious health emergency from last month, as well as something new that came up. Lucky me!).

We live on 1 acre, and the yard upkeep is immense, especially since I’m responsible for nearly all of it. I’m proud to say that I raked the entire property, all on my own, except for two little patches that I begged Philip to help me with toward the end. After eight days—yes, eight days—of raking, my arms and hands were sore beyond belief. But then I got up the next morning and mowed the grass. Philip kindly took over that evening and finished the mowing for me, while I was at our neighbor’s house with the boys.

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A 7-Year-Old’s Take on Jesus’ Suffering

04.5.2011 | 1:37 pm | Homeschooling

I’ve mentioned the devotion book we’ve been going through during this Lent season (Journey to the Cross), but I wanted to share something extra that happened during yesterday’s devotion. We’ve gotten up to the point of Jesus’ crucifixion and have spent the past 3 days focusing in detail on the events of that sad morning. Yesterday’s focus was on the pain that Jesus endured willingly while being nailed to the cross, and the casting of lots for his robe.

At the end of each lesson there are usually three thought-provoking questions to ask your child. One of yesterday’s questions was, “Are you grateful that Jesus was willing to suffer and die on the cross?”

When I asked G that question, I was scanning forward in the book, thinking about the next reading, and wasn’t looking directly at G. But after a couple of seconds, I realized he hadn’t answered, so I looked up at him. He was looking at me with a sort of helpless look on his face, which obviously isn’t normal, so I repeated the question, thinking he perhaps didn’t hear it before.

He continued looking helpless, and said quietly, “Well…” and then I noticed his eyes filling with tears. I asked him what was wrong, and he choked softly, “Well…I don’t want to be grateful for him suffering and dying, because it was bad (free-flowing tears at this point)…but I’m grateful, too, that he did it for us” (more tears).

And now, I know for sure, that he gets it.

I pray that he moves closer to making a life decision to follow Jesus, now that he’s truly understanding what Jesus did for him.

But I was also struck by his sweet, sensitive response to that question. Undoubtedly grateful for what Jesus did, but hating that he had to ever go through it. So much so that it’s hard for him to even traverse the concept being grateful for such a thing. Of course, I grabbed him and hugged him, and let him know that his heart is exactly in the right place. He loves Jesus so much, and I’m grateful that he does. I’m also grateful that he’s here with me during the day, so I can take him and hug him at any time—especially when he has moments of fear, insecurity, or, in this case, just being so full of new emotion that he doesn’t even know how to begin to express it. What a special moment together.

I didn’t get around to last week’s Weekly Wrap Up, but I know no one really cares. However, because I love doing it, I’ll try my best to do this week’s Wrap-Up, and to tie in anything important that we covered last week, as well. Things have been pretty routine, with lots of yard work, doctor visits, and minor crises in between lessons. But all’s well, and that’s good! Hope to be back this weekend with the Wrap-Up!

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