Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday


How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids


You might look at the title to this cute little hardcover book, and say "I have a heart for my kids, I love them more than anyone could know". Yes, of course you do. But, something in you will say "Wait, is there something I am missing? Is there a part of me that could do better?". Let's face it, even if we are the most amazing, attentive, doting parent on the earth...we have room for growth. Enter author Rachel Carman and her book on "How to Have a HEART For Your Kids".

When I first saw this review come up, I was honestly surprised to see it come from Apologia. I mean, isn't Apologia that science curriculum company. WHY YES, it is! BUT, it is so much more than that! Apologia not only has their wonderful creation based science curriculum, they also have other divisions such as Apologia Academy (Online Courses Based on Truth), Apologia Live (Celebrating the Homeschool Journey), Apologia World (Reaching the Homeschool Community), Apologia Mission (Giving, Going, Sharing, Sowing) and then there is the division this book came from, Apologia Press (Resources for the Heart and Mind).

Now, back the the book at hand. When the book arrived, I was pleasantly surprised that it has a nice hardcover, and is a good size to carry along with me, even in my purse. The book is about the size of a 5x7 picture and is about 3/4 inch thick. The first thing I did was flip the book over onto the back to read a little snippit about the book. It says:

"How well do you really know your kids? What has God shown you about who they are and who they will become? He has sent these children into your home at this specific time for His glorious purposes. Indeed, you have been invited on the adventure of a lifetime, a journey on which you will see walls fall, seas parted, and giants slain. You don;t need special skills or training for this journey----you need only to seek God and hold tight to His mighty hand!"
The author, Rachael Carman, is a homeschooling mother of seven. In this book, she walks us through her own journey of parenting and educating her children. She presents the book with the word "heart" as an acronym:

H- Have a heart for the things of God
E- Enrich your marriage
A- Accept your kids
R- Release them to God
T- Teach them the truth
The book draws you in from page one. (You can actually read the introduction chapter for free, here.) The author tells us how she did not start out with a plan to homeschool. When speaking of homeschooling mothers she met, she actually tells us "...I feared their poor kids would become socially inept outcasts, unable to work with others or solve conflicts." She goes on to tell us how those opinions were to change and change her whole family. I laughed as I read along, because I *too* used to be one of "those" people who claimed I would never homeschool, and was all too quick to feel sorry for those "poor homeschool kids".

Reading through this book was not painless. Now, don't get me wrong...the pain I speak of was the kind of pain you get when you get your toes stepped on. When you feel that conviction that you have an area that needs some serious attention. This is the good pain, the pain that causes real change in our lives and those of our children. The pruning that causes good fruit to be produced. Immediately it is apparent that if we are going to really have a "heart" for our children, we have to have our own hearts right. As Rachael says in the book, and has been said many times before, when it comes kids, "monkey see, monkey do".  Scripture is used throughout the book to support the ideas. At the end of each chapter is a little "Heart Check Up" that presents questions to you, the reader, in order to allow you to dig deeper into yourself and make the changes that need to take place to have a better heart for your child.

As I was reading this book, I came across many situations where other mothers were "venting" about challenges they had with their children. To them I would say "I am reading this book right now and you NEED to read it", knowing it would help them in their journey.  After I finished the book, I was tempted to loan it out many a time. One incident I clearly remember is a young lady at church saying that she was "interested in homeschooling, but not sure yet that she wanted to". This is a young woman with a toddler and a baby. I thought "Boy, I wish I had this book when my children were that age, what a difference it could have made in my life and theirs". So, I told her she should get this book. Then another friend was talking over her challenges with her special needs child, and it touched me because while reading "How to have a Heart", I had my eyes opened to things pertaining my own special needs child and all of the times I cried out to God "WHY OR WHY can't he just do what I need him to do?". Well, it was because I was not fully accepting of him and who he is meant to be. That is not up to me. It is up to God, and it is my job to raise him up to be what God wants him to be. I knew my friend could benefit from this book too. Actually, I think all parents could benefit from this book. Those with young children, those with older children, those who plan to have children. I also think there is purpose in this book for those with grown children and those who are around parents and children.

My husband, who is not a reader and generally not interested in listening to someone read, enjoyed listening to me read this aloud. It helped him through some of the things he wondered about, and challenged him also to grow in his relationship with God and with his children.

All in all this book was an excellent read, and one I will review often. I keep in on my nightstand so I can flip through it again and again. I wish I could memorize it all. It's just THAT good.

The book is only $13 and can be purchased through Apologia here.


Disclosure: I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I asked to recommend the product.  I am part of the 2011-2012 Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, which is a group of homeschooling parents who review products that may be of interest for other parents. 



Monday, August 29, 2011

First day of "school"

Today was day one for us. I will be updating my blog here shortly to show ALL of our curriculum.

The day went super well for Michaela...she is on the ball I tell you!

Troy...well, he had a rough start. He decided to test Momma today. We were working on his "Phonics Road" curriculum, which requires him to practice handwriting and phonics, and he refused to write. I mean FLAT OUT REFUSED. At one point he looked at me and ever so seriously said "What? It's not like the world is going to explode, crumble apart, and end if I can't make my o's right". I tried not to laugh, really I did. But, in the end Michaela and I both burst out laughing. If he had not been so serious, it would have infuriated me even more so than I was that he was refusing to try. In the end, I won out. After TWO-AND-A-HALF hours, he finally did what I was asking. I had to pray for strength. A lot. I knew it was a defiance issue and one that had to be dealt with. I pray tomorrow we do not have round two.

After that incident, the day went beautifully. Today we also had a special "guest". Here are our back to school pictures...

This is Bella, a Golden Retreiver Michaela walks...she paid us a visit for a couple of hours this morning.


And she came back this afternoon to visit again...

Michaela looking absolutely radiant on her first day of 8th grade!

(And no, the kids did not plan to wear skull & cross bone shirts their first just happened that way. Odd, since each of them only owns ONE shirt with the symbol on it.)


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday


Things our mothers never said to us...

Things our mothers never said to us...but we say to our kids.

  • Who are you texting?
  • It's rude to check your phone or text while someone is talking to you.
  • Do you have your phone with you? 
  • No, you may not have a Facebook.
  • Leave your iPod at home while we are at church.
  • When you "Google" something, be very careful when you click on a result, there are some nasty things online.
  • Let me know if someone you don't know reaches out to you online, and don't talk to them no matter what.
  • Get your earbuds out of your ear when I am talking to you.
  • Okay, I guess you can have a Facebook as long as it's private and I only have your password. 
  • Let me see your phone.
  • You have sent over 2,000 texts this month! 
  • I am not so thrilled with your friend's language on Facebook, you need to delete them.
  • What do you mean you had your ringer on silent? I bought you a phone so I could reach you when I needed to!
  • Turn in your electronics at bedtime. 
  • Myspace is so yesterday, I think you should just delete your account there. 
  • I don't know, go Google it. 
  • You're cellphone, no facebook, no myspace, and no ipod for two weeks!

Any of these things, especially the last tend to get a response something like this...


Monday, August 22, 2011

Today I was not...

Today, I was not: Battling back to school traffic. 

I was driving out on the back-roads in Colorado...

I was not wondering if my kids were getting answers as they competed with many others for one teacher's attention:

I was hanging out with them discovering new learning opportunities like when we ran across the Budweiser Clydesdale's in the parking lot of a truck stop (the handler talked a lot to use about the horses, their history, and their care):

I was not worried about if my child was being picked on, being left out, or making friends:

I was delighting in my children interacting and building their relationship (a relationship that is going to matter in 20 years...which is more than I can say for school relationships):

I was not filling out stacks of paper with redundant information...I was not watching the clock to make sure I was in the right place to get my kids at the right time, nervously waiting to make sure they found me....I was not worried that someone would pull a gun on my child...I was not worried that a child that was being exposed to ugliness at home would share that ugliness with my cild.

I was taking time with my children, enjoying their presence. I was guiding them as we went to a visitors center and learned about the area. I watched as they interacted with two elderly women who told them stories that sparked interest we had to explore when we got home (about the Ludlow massacre and Kit Carson). I marveled with them as we discovered three species of animals we didn't know existed. I watched them help one another. I watched them work out their problems. I knew what food they ate and basically what was in it, AND I let them have more if they were still hungry. 

Yes, we are blessed. :)


Friday, August 19, 2011

The 2011-2012 Schoolhouse Planner (How *I* use it)

For years I have been using another homeschool planner. A pre-printed pretty planner with all kinds of nice extras built in. However, I was constantly scratching stuff out to replace it with my own text/subjects. Plus, I ran out of room for subjects because we do so many. Also, the space to write was small. There were many aspects of the planner I didn't use. This year I decided to go a different route and try the Schoolhouse Planner. Now, when I downloaded it, I will admit, I was quite overwhelmed. My first instinct was to print it all out. Yes, seriously. I was going to print all 818 pages.  Thank goodness I contacted Heidi (from Old Schoolhouse) and expressed my concern about the amount of information in that. Her advice to me was something along the lines of taking my time to go through it and only print what I would use. That helped some. But do you look through 818 pages of digital info, and not get overload? How do you remember WHAT you want to go back to and what didn't matter? I had to develop a systematic approach. I have done that now, and I wish to share it with you. Now, I am still rather new to this planner. I have barely scratched the surface of what all you can do with it. Maybe later in the year I will do a follow up blog with any changes or additions I have made to my "system". Maybe someone searching for the perfect planner will see this and be encouraged that they can have a planner that suits ALL of their needs, not just the homeschooling ones.

These things I am going to list are what *I* have done. They may sound like "instructions", but they are only what *I* have done, not what MUST be done.

Navigating the Planner:

Create a "Homeschool Planner" folder on your desktop...see mine here in purple?

Then, download your planner to that folder OR, if you have already downloaded it, move it to that folder. Easy, right? 

Now, go ahead and open that puppy up! One of the best things about this planner is that it is searchable! If there is something specific you are looking for, just type it right up there in the right in that search box. In this one, I typed "recipe" and it pulled up all recipes. I can just scroll through and find one that suits my needs. 

I am about to have surgery, and my mother suggested I make some freezer meals, so I went and searched freezer and low and behold, I found this form:

Moving on: Now, the search function works REALLY well, but, I am a "hold it in your hands" kind of girl. I didn't want to print all 818 pages anymore, but I had to have something tangible, so I printed the table of contents. A word of caution, you have to pay attention when you want to print so that you do not tell your printer to print all 818 pages. You must choose the option to only print specific pages, like this:
With having the "table of contents" printed out, I can scan through it and make notes about which pages I would like to print, and also make note on there of frequently printed pages and what they are used for. I will get back to this in a minute. 

I have two children that are full-time homeschooling right now. I followed the advice of Heidi (again) and saved a copy of the planner for each child, and one for me too. That way I can save changes I make specific to that child, or myself. To save a copy, you just open your planner, go up to "save as" and then rename it, and make certain you are saving it to your homeschool planner folder on your desktop. 


When I was all through saving my copies, this is what I had:

Got it? Okay, let's move on.

I have this "thing" I call my brain in a binder. Really, it is just about everything I need to manage our home, and school. The only thing I don't put in it are our lesson plans. I *need* those separate to keep my sanity. We'll talk about those in a few. Be patient. We'll get there. That is one of my favorite parts of how I use the planner. 

Back to my brain (in a binder). When I first put my binder together, it was just this plain blue 3"-"Better Binder" from Staples. My intention was to make it "pretty" eventually, and yesterday I finally did that. See? 

Inside the front cover is where I keep my printed "Table of Contents" for the planner

I have 24 tab divider pages in the binder. In front of all of them, I have one copy of our school week plans. This is a form I "tweaked" to fit my needs. When I sat down to plan our required weeks of school, I used this to date/divide them up. I have this one here so if I am making appointments or plans, I have a handy list right there. 

After that, I have the tabbed dividers. I will list them now with a few examples of Schoolhouse Planner (noted as SP) forms I use in those tabs:

  • Motivated Moms (this is the way I keep my house clean and in order, I struggled with this before) There are housekeeping helps in the SP also, I just know MM works for me, so I have not switched...yet. 
  • To do List (SP)
  • Menu (SP)

On these, I typed in our "set" meals/snacks and then our dinner "themes" so I could fill them in weekly

Remember that "freezer meal" list? It's in this tab too, waiting to be filled in...if there is a recipe in the planner (or elsewhere) that I print out, I place behind the menu for this week in the binder. I'll place an freezer meal recipes behind this sheet. 

  • Curriculum Notes (I just put anything curric. related here, and the SP has tons of forms for this)

This here is labeled "wish list", and I used it to record final choices and highlighted when I had ordered the curriculum. I just wrote the name of the child at the top. 

  • Reviews (Now, I am a Schoolhouse Crew member this year, so I will be reviewing products for homeschoolers. Also, I do reviews for a couple of book companies, so I need to keep up with what reviews are due and when.) Here is a SP form I use for this: (Ignore my sloppy writing, please)

  • Planning/Goals (this is where I keep my academic goals for each child and our family goals. I also keep my 12 year planning pages from the SP, but my writing is so sloppy I don't want to share). Here are some of our goal pages. I typed on them in the SP, saved them to the individual planners, and printed them out. I will have them there if anything happens to these or I need to tweak them.

  • Blog (here I keep my forms for give-aways and my ideas sheet, both from SP)
Again, please ignore my scribble...I can write neatly, I just don't very often

  • Memories (in this tab we will put recounts of special things, and we have this form from SP in there. My daughter has taken it on herself to write down cute things her little brother says on this form.)

  • Budget (SP forms, no pic, for obvious reasons)  ;)
  • Bible Study (I am doing the "Stepping Heavenward" now, but the SP has forms for Bible, prayer journal, etc. too)
  • Grocery List (These are all SP forms. I typed the usuals in, and I keep the pantry/freezer log in here too so I know what I have already.) 

  • Medical Info (SP)
  • Library/Reading logs (SP)
  • Homeschool Convention notes
  • Wishlists (SP)
  • Important Papers 
  • (A few blanks for later additions)
  • Calender (many different types in the SP)
NOW, WE MOVE ON TO MY LESSON PLAN BOOK (which, like I said, I love this aspect because this is where the other planners gave me so much trouble)

Background: I am schooling a 6 year old Lower Grammar level, and a 13 year old Dialectic level student. The way I plan their days is very different, and therefore I need to do their lesson plans differently. I will explain with the pictures. 

This is a 1.5" binder, also "prettied up"


Another copy of our annual plans, so I can plan accordingly

I have the weeks divided with numbered dividers:

Here is where it gets broken down (my lesson plans are still being worked on, so they are no where near complete):

Some of our schooling is joint, and I need a lesson plan for that that is not repetitive, so, this is my lesson plan. It is a SP form, and I wrote my name at the top. It has both kids name, so something like my weekly meeting with DD can go on here, but not on Troy's. This will keep me on track. 

Troy is still little, and I will guide him in all his studies, so he needs a more specific daily plan:

Then there is Michaela. I will meet with her on Sunday night, show her what she has to get done by the end of week, and let her copy it to her own planner, and spread it out between days the way she sees fit. This is so she can utilize time management. If something has to be done on a certain day, I will highlight it for her and note which day. 

As you can see, I utilized many different forms, and I didn't even scratch the surface. I bought this planner, it was not given to me to review. I was not asked to write a review or a "how-to" post. I just did this because I am loving this planner, and want to show others that it can work for them too. 

The folks at The Old Schoolhouse are so helpful, and that is an extra perk. I have been able to go to them with questions and get help and advice, and always in a quick and personal manner. What other homeschooling resource offers homeschooling families so much? I haven't found one yet. 

The Old Schoolhouse offers several planners to meet your needs. Here is the link to all the different planners if you'd like to look:  Schoolhouse Store

And here is a sample of the planner: Sample

I hope this is helpful to someone out there...

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