sharing from my heart to yours
It's getting to be that time again!
My majorly nerdy self gets to have all kinds of fun planning, printing, laminating, and organizing! :D
I know not all of your are interested in our homeschool journey, but because I love to share, and some of you like to read about it, I figured I'd do a quick (or not so quick) update on what we're planning for the '17-'18 school year.
Actually, we really don't follow the traditional school calendar, so might not be scheduled quite like that. We've been pretty relaxed so far... well we sure should be! Rystin is really just going into 1st grade and Vayah into Kindergarten! But at these younger ages, I'm not worried about getting school in every day, as long as they are doing well, enjoying it, and progressing. We take breaks here and there for things like vacations, holidays, or special events, but overall, we just keep doing school at least a little bit throughout the entire year. So far, we don't worry about trying to complete a book by a certain date, or start a new grade during a certain season. When we finish something, we move onto the next thing and keep going.
This will be our third year of homeschooling, just because Rystin loved to learn so we started early. Vayah has been doing 'school' for awhile now too, and Janae jumps in wherever and whenever she can! But technically we'll be doing 1st grade and kindergarten this year with them. I'll share with you what we're using for learning this year and I'll add links where I can so you can check it out if you're interested.
Rystin - Age 6.5
We are moving ahead with My Father's World (MFW) again this year. We have loved the 'God's Creation from A-Z' kindergarten program, as well as the 'Learning God's Story' 1st grade program. That is what we mainly used the past two years, adding our own things in, and leaving things out here and there. It's a teacher friendly program that is very well laid out and does an excellent job laying a foundation for those little years. I also highly recommend a program like that if you're just starting out, as it's much less overwhelming than trying to piece each subject together separately. That being said, I have learned more about our homeschool style and how things work for our family. I tend to add some extra things in or replace things with my own twist, so I'm not sure if using a box curriculum really is worth it in the long run. I'm slowly moving towards a more eclectic approach and discovering some other things I like outside of MFW.
Back to the the topic at hand... we plan to slowly work through MFW Adventures in U.S. History throughout the next year or two. I'd like to take it slowly since it's generally done with kids a little older, and I'd like Vayah to join in when she can as well. We'll mostly do the history, geography, Bible, and possibly some of the art and music. They'll be studying the 50 states, and Rystin is really excited about it!
I haven't been as impressed with the science portion of MFW. So far, they mostly just read 1-2 pages each week from an Usborne book and then can do an experiment listed. It just wasn't very engaging, and Rystin loves to dig in to that kind of thing. I realize science isn't anything necessary for these little ages, and I don't want to push concepts on them that are over their heads either. Rystin has been saying he really wants to learn about animals this year. I purchased a unit study on bugs from The Good & The Beautiful, but I think we will be putting that on hold for now and starting with something else. We all love to listen to the audio books by Thornton W. Burgess, and they are rich, living books about animals. They are fictional, but you learn a ton about each animal as you listen, plus they're entertaining. I decided to put together my own 'curriculum' using The Animal Book for Children. We'll be studying about each animal, and I'll be assigning a character quality to study along with each one (since the stories bring that into play as well). So for example, when we study about foxes, we'll also learn about honesty. I have several books and webites we'll be using to tie everything together, so let me know if you want more details on that. We'll be doing some outside nature studies and journaling as well, so that will cover science.
My Father's World doesn't cover Language Arts or Math after 1st grade (though we've used our own math from the beginning).
For Language Arts, we're starting a new path this year, and I'm really excited about it (as I've shared with many of you!). I ran across a curriculum called The Good & The Beautiful. They are a new company developing programs for language arts, history, science, handwriting, and more. They are very inexpensive and I love the way things are laid out. I got LA Level 1 for Rystin to start. It covers grammar, spelling, phonics, literature, art, punctuation, vocab, and writing. I'm looking forward to seeing how we like it!
For math, Rystin will continue through Singapore and work on finishing workbook 1B. After that we will either move into level two, or possibly look into starting Teaching Textbooks.
We also do a lot of different things for Bible. There are a few books we read out of, scripture memory, and a lot that ties in with both MFW and our science.
Those are the main things for Rystin. I have other fun things I'd like to add in here and there such as cooking, castles/chivalry, health, and so on.
Vayah - Age 5
We have been doing some PreK/K type of learning with Vayah for awhile now. She is in the last half of the MFW God's Creation A-Z program. I don't think she'll be ready to jump into Learning God's Story yet when she's done with that, so I plan to work with her more using The Good & The Beautiful PreK and K programs. That will cover mostly phonics, as well as beginning the other language arts topics.
For math, she recently started Math Lessons for a Living Education, and has really enjoyed it so far! I did this for Rystin too, but it wasn't his style. I pulled it back out for Vayah and she loves the story-type learning. She is much more into history and story type of learning, instead of the science type topics that Rystin loves. It's amazing the random things they've each learned on their own, and how different they are in that!
For science, she will join us in the animal and nature studies.
I like to cover most of our topics as a group so we can all learn together. Janae (3) will join in with us as well when we wants to, and I may do a little bit of PreK with her from TGTB, since she usually insists that she has to do school too! She's my artsy one, so anything with coloring, stickers, and painting gets her attention quickly.
So far, I've never regretted our decision to keep our kids at home to learn. I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and am excited to start another year. Occasionally Rystin comments that he'd like to go to school, but only because he wants to go play on the playground at recess. Once I explain that he'd only get to do that for a VERY short time every day and that they 'do school' all day instead of just for an hour or two, he figures it wouldn't be so great after all ;) I have loved having our family together, learning and growing, teaching each other. I'm sure I've learned more than my kids have!
This year will be an interesting one since we are moving to a new state (YES!! Just a short time after this post, our lives took a sudden turn and we are now preparing for a move! I'll share more in another post soon.) Rystin finished up a lot of what he was working on during this past month, so we'll be taking a break while we pack, move, and settle in to our new home. I'm learning about the new state guidelines, since each state has different rules as far as homeschooling. There is a large homeschool group in the area, so I've been enjoying connecting with them a bit already! We may get involved in some outside classes through that group.
We just returned home from a vacation west to visit friends and family. We had an amazing trip, but it's always so good to be home. I'm wrapping up some of the loose ends of planning before I jump into packing, and thought I'd share some of our plans with those of you who are interested. If you homeschool, I'd love to hear what you use - I'm nerdy like that! If you're interested in more posts about our learning journey, let me know and I'd be glad to share (or more likely, overshare!).
Thanks for taking the time to peek into our day to day!
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and I'll be back soon to share about how God has called us on a new path.
A lifestyle, an experience, a process.
As we tip-toe into the environment of education and school age kids,
I am learning a lot about myself and my family in the process.
I know I told you that I would share more details about our homeschool journey with you, but I haven't been very good at that.
I decided to finally write a post and let you know where we're at,
what we've been using, and how we've been liking it.
This will likely get long, and only a handful of people will find it interesting, so feel free to click away if this isn't your thing. :)
I tend to get a little nerdy when it comes to details and researching and learning about new things.
I feel like education starts from the time kids are babies,
so in a way, we've been loosely 'homeschooling' for a long time already.
I started doing some workbooks and printables, along with more directed learning activities with my three oldest kids around age 3-4.
Nothing formal at all, but things they would ask to do, and that they loved.
Rystin was about 4 when we made the decision that, for now,
learning at home was the path we would start out on.
And, as I do, I began to research, review products, ask questions, listen to podcasts and videos, read books, and on it goes.
There are many different homeschooling styles, from taking the typical public school routine and doing it at home, all the way to unschooling, where there is no formal schedule or planned learning involved.
We fall somewhere in the middle,
but I don't think we fit exactly into any one style.
(Charlotte Mason, Classical, Montessori, Waldorf, Child-led, and so on).
I looked into a lot of different things that are out there, but honestly,
it's never ending, so that can be overwhelming.
I sometimes wonder if I research TOO much, and if I'm better off just letting things flow as they happen naturally.
But that's not who I am.
And I feel like right now, when we are just starting and learning,
and I have time to dig in a little deeper,I would like to see our options
and have a clear path of the direction we want to go.
For our family, our Christian faith is the most important aspect of education.
I don't think that every single subject has to be taught in a religious centered perspective, but to have a Biblical base is the core of our home.
Rystin would beg me to 'do school' with him, so I felt like I should work with him, at his pace, and let him learn in a way that fit him.
I didn't really want to start an official 'Kindergarten' curriculum with him at 4, so we continued to use various workbooks that were at his level.
I began to realize that most of those actually were K level, and he was hungry to learn more, as well as quickly growing tired of workbooks.
After looking at lots of different paths, as well as looking at the things
that I had collected through the years,
I came up with a rough plan for how to begin 'official' homeschool.
The above photos are some of the curriculum choices that we've used so far.
The 'My Father's World' style really appealed to me, so I eventually chose that to be our core, or the spine, of our studies.
Now, I use the word 'studies' loosely because at this point, Rystin was still only 4, and I wasn't sure about jumping into a full Kindergarten curriculum.
I ordered the full K set (God's Creation from A-Z)
used from a Facebook page, and when I got it in the mail, we were so excited!
I could tell that, academically, Rystin would have no problem jumping into it.
I still hesitated knowing he was young to be starting K.
We finished up the workbooks he was doing, and at the end of August (4 months from turning 5) we started in.
Now you'll have to understand, that everything I share is not in a structured schedule. I'm sharing with you the things we use, and how we do them, but it is not (by any means!) on a consistent routine.
Some things we're lucky to hit once a week, some things we do most days.
Don't look at this as the standard, just as some ideas or reviews of things that work (or don't work) for us when we do them.
We are approaching Kindergarten in a very relaxed way.
We do school most days if we're just hanging out at home, but if we have other plans during the day, it's no big deal to skip it.
We often skip!
If Rystin doesn't feel like doing it, we quit early.
If we're having fun, we add more in.
There are things we try to get to every time,
and there are things we only do occasionally.
If it takes us 2 years to get through K, I'm fine with that.
If we finish and we want to slowly start 1st grade, I'm fine with that.
We're pretty laid back around here,
even though it may appear very organized and planned.
I'm not sure how else to share, other than to show you WHAT we use,
and HOW we use it.
The WHEN we do it is pretty flexible.
My Father's World (MFW) is considered a boxed, all-in-one curriculum that covers most essential topics needed (especially for lower grades).
Kindergarten is laid out in units, each unit teaching a letter, a topic, and a Biblical concept (as well as additional things added in here and there).
For example: Week 1: 'S' :: Sun :: Jesus is the Light of the World
Week 2: 'M' :: Moon :: I am the Light of the World (reflecting Christ)
Week 3: 'L' :: Leaf :: I will Live and Grow in Jesus
Each week includes a lesson plan that breaks everything up by topic,
into quick, easy days. I love the gentle approach!
The following pages include notes detailing how to do things,
or ideas for activities.
It can be very structured, if you follow the lesson plans exactly.
Or, if you're like us, you do what works for you, add other things,
and leave some things out. It is a great starting point,
and I hope to use MFW in future grades as well.
I love their scope and sequence and the priorities and
Biblical views that they hold. So far, we have been loving it!
Below are some pictures of the lesson plan and notes pages.
The far right picture is just my own lesson plan book that I designed
to keep track of what we've done and what we've added, for future reference.
One thing that I didn't expect, was that Vayah (3) would be sitting with us, learning almost everything right along with Rystin.
It has made it fun, but also challenging in some ways, as she wants to also do all the pages and things that Rystin does that she isn't able to.
Usually dollar store workbooks and things keep her happy during that time.
It is neat that this curriculum is fun for many ages though!
Janae (1) also likes to be involved.
This is NOT easy.
School usually happens during her naptime!
I'm also learning that Rystin does better as far as learning new concepts, or tackling the more advanced things, when he's one on one with me.
When needed, I have been trying to take turns give both him and Vayah a little time for 'just them' to work on things for their specific levels.
Not a lot of math is included in MFW-K.
Rystin has proven to enjoy numbers, so I'm in the process
of pulling some more math into our days.
I used the above printable workbook
(Math Lessons for a Living Education Book 1) to supplement at first.
It is really neat, bring math to life through stories.
Unfortunately, it's very slow moving, and he is past that.
The books are no longer free, so I can't print the next one without buying it,
and I feel like he doesn't love working from it anyways.
For now, I'm going to work a little from the Easy Peasy website.
This is a free, online curriculum for k-12 that uses lots of
games and activities to teach concepts.
I also may buy a Life of Fred book to read with him.
We also sometimes use the Rod and Staff 'F' book for logic and hands on stuff.
MFW seems to have a decent phonics system, but occasionally we will read things from the Hooked on Phonics or A beka books that we have on hand.
Keep in mind that almost all of my supplies I've bought used (even found at second hand stores or garage sales) or had given to me by others.
Unfortunately, curriculum can be very expensive,
depending on which route you decide to take!
As far as HOW we homeschool...
well an ideal day (which rarely happens) would look something like this:
-Breakfast, dishes, getting dressed and ready for the day
-Memory Work (using the rotating notecard box pictured above... this is a blog post in and of itself. I got the idea online and it has been amazing for us!)
Once Janae is napping...
(sometimes that's morning, sometimes it's closer to after lunch)
-Prayer and devotion
-Board work including calendar, number chart, etc (the upright board above)
-We'll then do the main things in the MFW lesson plan, sometimes more than one day worth, because they are very light.
-This typically includes a worksheet, some writing and/or phonics, an activity, and a Bible lesson.
-At this point I may find something else for Vayah to do and work on phonics or math with Rystin, switching them later to work on letters with Vayah.
That's about it!
We do art and science projects all together when that happens.
We often use youtube or other things online to learn more about the topics
we are studying, as well as library books.
We love to play educational games,
and our favorite lately has been Crazy A's.
I'm not a 'saver', so I often take photos of their projects and papers instead of keeping them all, as well as activities they do.
I'll included them in a family album eventually (major to-do lists there!).
I shared a few of their pictures above.
(hopefully it's not cutting them off funny like it's showing as I edit this!)
All in all, we are really enjoying this process.
So far, we are moving right along
and we may just finish the K program this year after all.
I realize we're still in the 'honeymoon' phase, and it WILL get much harder as things need to get more scheduled and consistent.
The love of learning will probably wear off a little.
(Some days we already see some poor attitudes about less desirable work).
I will probably get tired and more lazy.
But for now, we are having fun with where we are at,
and I'm learning right along with them!
I'm sure we will change and adjust a ton as the kids grow and our family dynamics change, but this is where we are for now.
You can teach them but you can't make them learn
And if you made it to the end, and you're still in the mood to read, I want to share this great article that a friend shared on FB today.
I'd recommend it for moms of any age!
What I'm Never Going to Tell You
There are many homeschoolers out there these days. Learning at home has become a much more mainstream way of educating than it used to be. When looking into it, I learned that there area about as many curriculum options as there are homeschoolers! Maybe not quite, but it can be pretty overwhelming. It's always interesting to learn about what other families are doing, and what works for them in their routines and schedules. Some of you were curious about what we chose to use as a curriculum, now that we made the decision to homeschool. I'm not sure if I'll be the type to pick on thing and stick to it until my kids graduate. I think (based off of... no experience!) that I will be more the type to have a core to focus on each year, and go from there, depending on the needs/interests of my kids at the time.
For now, we plan to start with the My Father's World program.
I had heard about My Father's World (MFW) quite a while back. For some reason, I wrote it off as something I didn’t think would work for my family. This past year, as homeschool became more of an obvious pull for us, I picked up some of the ‘homeschool talk’, including things like homeschool styles, types of curriculum, scheduling techniques, and so on. This past March, I went to a homeschool convention with a group of friends, most of who were already teaching their own children at home. I was able to physically touch books from many different curriculum companies, and really see the difference between things that are out there. MFW was not at this convention, but when I came home, I obsessively researched about everything homeschool related for weeks (or maybe I still do). If you know me very well, you know that’s how I am. When I’m considering doing anything new, or making any investment type of purchases, I spend a LOT of time looking into all my options, comparing prices, and looking at reviews from others who have tried the product.
So in my crazy research, I again ran across the My Father’s World program. I decided to look into it a little further… and fell in love with it! I know that as family dynamics change, learning styles vary between children, and life happens, often what we first though would work for our family, doesn’t anymore. But for now, I plan to jump into the MFW program with both feet, and tweak things as we get more experience and learn about what works best for us. I actually bought the Kindergarten curriculum for Rystin already! He won’t be 5 until January, so he is technically only preschool age this year. But he LOVES to do school, and begs me to sit down and work with him. We have been doing ‘school’ usually at least a few times a week for the last 6 months or so, and he does great. After doing a lot of research on the program, and seeing what it involved, I feel like Rystin will be ready to start Kindergarten this fall. We plan to start slowly, letting him go at his own pace, and possibly take two years to finish it instead of just one, or do a year and a half for both K and 1st grade. If he does continue to stay motivated and gets through it more quickly than I think, then I guess he’ll be ahead in the future so we don’t have to worry so much about being super scheduled. I don’t really see this happening, but just looking at all the options.
This is how I have everything organized for Kindergarten right now. This is where things for all units that we are NOT currently working on will be stored. Each unit has its own folder where the worksheets, related books, verse cards, and so on are stored. The book on top is the Math workbook I printed for Rystin.
My Father’s World is a Biblically based curriculum that focuses heavily on family. It mainly relies on the Charlotte Mason method of learning, and teaches through unit studies, but also ties in other types of teaching methods throughout the years. There is a ‘core’ that is focused on each year, that can involve the entire family, especially those from 2nd-8th grade (and can include younger kids also). Kindergarten focuses on God’s Creation. First grade focuses on God’s Story/Bible history. Second/Third grade (depending on family dynamics) focus on U.S. History. In 2nd/3rd grade, students begin the ‘cycle’, where they study different eras in history from Creation to Modern Times. The website explains the cycles best. I love how the whole family can be involved in the core studies and projects, while each student does work based on their skill level. Each package includes history, geography, science, art, music, and Bible (and then some!). Language Arts and Math are included in the younger grades, but come separately (with recommendations) when they get older. MFW also has Pre-K packages for 2-3 year olds and for 4 year olds.
After getting the curriculum and being able to flip through it and see exactly what it involves, I love it even more! Hopefully I will once we actually start too! I was able to find a used set on a MFW Facebook group (there is a used curriculum group, groups for each grade level, as well as a general page which all provide a ton of help from others!) The set that I got looks like brand new, and I was so pleased with everything. And in my nerdy way, I already organized, filed, laminated, and started planning for when we actually begin in a few months. That’s just my style, and I enjoy doing that kind of thing. Call me weird if you want!
As far as how the Kindergarten program, God’s Creation from A to Z, works, I’ll give you a few details. It begins the year with the ‘foundation’ unit, Creation. This is a ten day study on each day of the creation, number and letter review, and learning some new songs and games. Then it moves into the actual unit studies. There are 26 studies, each focusing on some aspect of things in this world that God created. The first unit studies the Sun, (and the letter S), teaching how Jesus is the light of the world. The second unit studies the Moon, (and the letter M), teaching how WE are the light of the world, reflecting Christ, as the moon reflects the sun. The third unit studies Leaves (and the letter L), teaching how we must live and grow in Jesus. And eventually all 26 letters are taught, as well as 26 Biblical concepts. Each unit includes Phonics, Math, Reading, Science, History, Bible, Music, and Art; all relating to the unit topic. There are projects ideas, verses, songs, poems, book suggestions, and so on in each unit. Each unit includes a daily lesson plan that can be taught in on a 3, 4, or 5 day per week schedule, depending on your family. It also includes 2-3 pages of notes for instructions, teaching tips, ideas, etc. There are fun supplemental items you can buy, as well as a literature pack with one book related to each unit topic. It is a very gentle beginning to school and reading, and focuses more on hands on learning and fun than the textbook and worksheet type of structure. This is a 'complete' curriculum, which means it is typically all that you will need to teach this grade level. Of course, each student is different. Some things may be to easy, and can be skipped, and some subjects may need to be supplemented with other books if your child needs a little extra practice. I have a few things in mind for supplements if needed, especially since we plan to take our time for K anyways, and should have extra time to fit more in if we want. I did go ahead and print a few chapters of a free math program called Math Lessons for a Living Education. It looks like something Rystin would really love, and would add a little extra math to the program, as it mostly just includes counting and numbers, from what I can tell.
We are both excited to start! This homeschool stuff is a whole new world for me, and I’ve learned so much visiting others and reading lots about it. There are SO many programs that look excellent, and even free programs that are out there. It's just a matter of finding something that fits your family the best.
I’m looking forward to years of teaching and growing with my kids, even through the challenging days.
So here's to the beginning of 'Skyview Faith Academy'!
Sounds official hey?! ;)
'Skyview' as a reminder of our sweet Skyler Thomas, who loved me
"as high as Heaven!"and would have just finished Kindergarten last month.
'Faith', so that we can remember what are focus truly is on!
Pray for us as we continue to muddle through this life. And as we begin this new direction with our kids.
We’ve faced some challenges in the last year.
Some have been huge and hard and seemingly never ending.
Some have been normal things like…
adjusting to a new baby…
life of farming…
and so on.
The decision we made is actually a result of many of the
challenges we have come through.
(Well… maybe not potty training!)
We made the choice to homeschool our kids.
I know that brings a reaction in one way or the other to most people minds.
Everyone has their reason for why they do what they do.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while,
and a sweet note that came in the mail today prompted me to share.
So... from the beginning.
When Skyler was just a little guy,
the thought of homeschooling crossed my mind.
I loved to plan learning activities, read books, and create things with him.
When Rystin was old enough to join us,
we had fun doing projects and games together.
When Vayah came along, I began to get overwhelmed.
I did less projects and planning, and just felt like my energy
was stretched with three kids.
I wasn’t sure how homeschooling would work with little ones around,
and we thought that it was likely
our family would grow beyond three kids, as time passed.
I also have always valued many of the benefits that public school gave,
and (in my lack of understanding) felt like keeping my
kids at home would be stifling them in many ways.
We decided to pursue public school, even registering Skyler in the school we hoped to be in, before we moved to the district. They offered M-W-F Kindergarten, and I knew that was the only way I could send him to start off. We thought that we would try it out, and if we felt like it wasn’t the best choice, we would pull him out and finish the year at home,
or start in 1st grade.
I brought Skyler to the ‘see the school’ day for the coming Kindergarten class.
He was SO excited.
That was another reason we had decided to let him go to public school.
He absolutely LOVED to learn. He would beg to ‘do school’ with me.
He had talked about going to school since he was about 3 years old,
waiting on the steps for the school bus, backpack ready to go.
I remember him asking me to call the bus to come get him,
because it was taking too long!
So an afternoon with just mommy, where he got to go to his school,
take a ride on the bus, see his classroom,
and meet his new teacher was the greatest thing ever!
He was so sad when it was time to leave.
I was also very happy with the teacher he was going to have.
I had heard many good reports about her, and after watching the way she interacted with the kids, especially Skyler,
I felt like we had made a good decision.
Skyler even had a sweet moment with her when
he gave her a little card that he had made for her.
That same teacher, a few weeks later, came with tears to Skyler’s visitation, to show her support and grieve with us. And, back to the note we got today, she is still thinking and praying for us. Knowing there is a teacher like that at our local school made the decision hard too!
So why did we decide to homeschool?
Well like I said, it has always been on my heart to do.
I have a sweet friend who really encouraged me to look into it back a couple of years ago already. When Skyler died, it was a thought in my head that came VERY soon after.
There was no way I could send my kids to school.
I lost one already.
Time is too short.
I want every moment I can get with these sweet kids!
At first I thought it was probably just a first response type of thought.
But as time passed, I began to become more interested.
Rystin began to get more and more into learning, and to our surprise,
loved to ‘do school’ even more than his brother had!
One of his first thoughts after Skyler died was that Skyler wouldn’t get to go on the school bus now.
He knew how excited Skyler had been about it.
But he figured he would get to go on the bus when he was 5 like Skyler.
The thought of him getting on that bus and leaving every day was hard.
I watched the it drive by many days this year without stopping at our house.
(Now his class is finishing Kindergarten without him)
I began to talk with other moms who taught their kids at home.
I attended a homeschool conference where I was able to hear speakers,
see curriculum, and learn a little more about
what homeschooling actually involves.
I spent the next couple months (almost literally!) researching options, reading books, perusing blogs, and visiting with people who have done it.
After learning so many amazing things, I knew I wanted to do it!
I found a curriculum that seems perfect for our family.
Our excitement and passion has been lit.
Here are, in list form, some (just some!) of the reason we chose to homeschool:
We want our #1 focus to be Christ.
We want to fill our kids with His Word and
teach them about His truth and love.
Public school can’t do that.
Our second focus is our family.
We have been through so much this past year.
We have grown closer together, and we want to continue to do that.
The thought of being apart for the majority of the time
just doesn’t sound right for us.
It fits into our life style.
Farming is a very different life with a very different type of ‘schedule’.
We will be able to include our kids in our lives every day, teaching them things that they couldn’t learn about in a classroom setting.
Going along with number 1,
we want to prepare our kids to face this world with a firm foundation.
We want to instill in them Biblical principles and help them to develop the tools to go into the world and preach the gospel. The world is such a backwards place, and the more that I hear (especially about the school system), the more I feel like what we teach our kids ourselves is the most important.
Education is not the answer to every problem.
Education without Christ is flawed.
It is the person that we learn to be, and why we are that person,
that makes the true difference.
I’m pretty sure I can give my kids an education that is close to equal that a public school can.If not, I’m ok with that, as long as we do our best, learn continuously, and become better people through it.
We are able to live by our own rules. We can school all year if we need to, or we can take a month of in October if that is what works best for us at the time. We can get school done early in the morning and be free the rest of the day, or we can do it in the evening after doing whatever we need to do before.
And really, my list could go on.
But in all reality, my list doesn’t matter to you.
Each of us make the decisions that we feel is best for our family.
Can all of our goals be more or less accomplished by going to public school?
I am not at all against public school.
Both myself and my husband went to public school.
I, personally, enjoyed my school experience, and wouldn’t change it much.
The school I went to was small, but I have a lot of good memories, and I know that my kids will miss out on a lot by staying home. But I think it’s worth it.
Also, I have no idea what the future holds.
As I saw a year ago, we can plan our lives all day long,
but we have no control over what happens.
We will take one year at a time.
If we feel like we are being called to a different schooling option,
we are open to that.
Will homeschooling be easy?
I DOUBT it!
But I’m not convinced that easier always equals better.
So that’s they story behind our decision to teach our kids at home.
We’re excited to get started, and our Kindergarten curriculum is ready and waiting to get started!
I’ll give you more details on that later if you are at all interested.
Pray that God will guide us each day.
Six years ago...
I became a Mommy.
I learned what a blessing that was.
I fell in love faster than I knew was possible.
I held in my hands a perfect miracle.
I felt more physical pain than I had ever known.
I felt more joy than I could have imagined.
My life had changed.
Five years ago...
I was learning how to be Mommy.
I was treasuring giggles.
I was savoring memories.
I enjoyed watching so many firsts.
Four years ago...
I was learning how to be a mommy of two.
I loved 'visiting' with my growing son.
I watched as he learned and grew in amazing ways.
Three years ago...
I was expecting baby #3.
I was still learning how to be Mommy.
I was adjusting to living in a new part of the country.
I watched my boys' interests change and mature.
I saw my 'baby' turn into a 'boy'.
Two years ago...
I had three blessings who called me Mommy.
I was still learning how to do it.
I was bursting with pride watching my baby be the biggest brother.
I was facing new challenges and new joys.
One year ago...
I was soon to be Mommy to four.
I was still learning that role.
I was adjusting to a new home and lifestyle.
I watched my baby boy become a maturing little man.
I thought he was amazing.
I felt like life was just about perfect.
I am the Mommy to four.
I'm still learning every day.
I 'celebrated' my oldest son's birthday at the cemetery.
I have felt more emotional pain than I thought possible.
I discovered that it's possible to feel joy through pain.
I have felt an eternal joy.
I look at my family and see blessings.
I also see a missing piece.
I feel God's hand of love.
He's got my baby.
That's worth celebrating.
People talk about all those 'firsts'. The first Christmas, the family event, the anniversary date, and the first birthday without your child.
Today we had the first birthday without our Skyler.
But he had his first birthday WITH his Father!
It was his best birthday ever.
I thought it would be harder.
Last night it was.
I felt like I should have been wrapping gifts, decorating the house, and making a cake for my big 6 year old who should have been thrilled
and counting down the minutes until he turned six.
But we woke up this morning with a peace.
God was still sending little signs to us that He had us covered.
Today I held two day old puppies, from the same puppy pictured above that Skyler got for his birthday last year.
She had four puppies, three living, and one that didn't make it.
The picture of the cross in the sky was taken as we left from the cemetery today. Skyler saw crosses in everything.
Little miracles, signs from God, reminders of His love.
I close this day, the day of Skyler's birth,
feeling like we truly were able to celebrate.
I feel relief seeing again that God will carry us through the tough times, in ways we didn't consider. I look at all these years of pictures and am so thankful for the memories I have of this amazing little boy.
I see how much he taught me.
I see how greatly I have been blessed.
We were blown away at the love that was shown by so many of you.
We didn't expect so much support,
didn't know so many people would remember.
Thank you for that.
Every good and perfect gift comes from above
“Tis’ the season to be jolly”
or at least, for most of the world.
It’s been a tough month, and the holidays have kicked us hard.
I expected it I guess, but it’s never quite how you think it will be.
It hits you worse on days you wouldn’t think, and then days you are prepared,
it turns out easier than you thought it would.
Thanksgiving isn’t a day that I have a lot of memories connected to Skyler.
For us, it’s not so different from the typical day,
except we get together with around 60 people for a crazy lunch.
It’s hard to even make sure your kids get food in a crowd like that!
I thought Thanksgiving would be no big deal.
We had some overnight company that week, and Jethro and I snuck out for
a bit while they watched our kids that morning.
We went to see this for the first time:
That didn’t help much!
But in that crowd of people, Skyler was missing.
There was a huge hole.
Is it just because everyone was there except him?
Even though I didn’t have special memories of him relating to that day,
he was still gone.
And since then it hasn’t been much better.
Pulling out the Christmas stuff wasn’t the same.
Last year Skyler (being the oldest and remembering the details)
was the most excited.
He wanted to help put everything together and had so much fun.
The kids enjoyed themselves this year, but there were some things
that I couldn’t do without him.
Maybe next year.
I've been cutting myself some major slack, and doing pretty much the minimum when it comes to anything and everything, especially Christmas related.
Last night we went and looked at Christmas lights in town
and had supper and a treat.
He was supposed to be there.
Today I wrapped gifts.
His were missing.
I miss his laugh and his smile.
His hugs and his comforting arms when Mommy is sad.
I miss the way he took care of his brother and sister
The way he got all hyper and excited.
The way he wrestled with Rystin and protected Vayah and
grinned when he felt Janae's baby kicks.
The way he was always happy about going somewhere with Dad.
His sensitive nature. His generous heart. His wisdom beyond his years.
Some days now, more than before, I say WHY?!
It’s normal to have him gone now.
We are adjusting to being back to three kids, age 3 and under,
instead of the four kids, age 5 and under that we should have had.
But it doesn’t make it easy.
Now most days when I count out four plates to set the table,
I don’t always think about how there should be five anymore.
When we all load up in the car, I don’t always think about how
there should be one more car seat filled.
I don’t always think about that other set of teeth that should be there to brush,
or that extra laundry that should be in the pile.
But lots of times I do.
I know I'll think about it when we take our annual kids in
front of the tree picture this year.
We'll never again have a picture with everyone in it.
I've been going through pictures the last couple of days, because I'd like to start working on albums. I gotta say, I'm SO thankful that I was so photo obsessed when Skyler was little. I don't take pictures AS much as I used to, but still often. I have probably thousands of pictures of Skyler! I'd encourage you all to take pictures of your kids. You'll never regret it!
The Sunday School Christmas program at church
the other weekend was tough too.
The kindergarten class proudly marched up to recite their lines.
They sweetly sang their song, ‘Jesus Loves Me’.
But there was one face missing.
One proud smile gone from the group.
But I COULD still hear his voice.
Skyler sang that song countless times,
and I have several videos of him singing it.
So in my mind, I could still hear him.
I just wanted to see him too.
He would have been so proud when his brother Rystin got up there with his preschool class and loudly and clearly sang “In a Little Stable”,
just like he had the year before.
“You did so good, Rystin! I could hear you when you sang your song”
Tonight as my family and I made some yummy goodies,
we listened to Christmas music.
One song came on… “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you…”
I thought how true that was.
Then a bit later another song… “I’ll be home for Christmas…”
Sadly I thought if only that were true.
Then I realized how true it really was!!
SKYLER IS HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!
He’s more ‘home’ than he’s ever been here with us.
He is Home, sitting next to our Lord who we are celebrating now.
Because of that first Christmas night, Skyler is
“Alive in Heaven”
as Rystin always likes to say.
Because of that Precious Child, we have the promise of Eternal life.
We can be ‘Home for Christmas’ and always!
So come, let us adore Him!
As my mom wrote in her Christmas letter,
we truly have learned that He is Emmanuel, “God with us”!
Although the days are sometimes difficult, and we live one at a time,
our Lord is with us each step of the way.
The theme of ‘Hope’ continues on…
This has been “my” verse lately:
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
A thrill of HOPE this weary world rejoices!
Merry Christmas, from my weary, yet rejoicing heart!
It’s been awhile since I’ve written. I still have plenty of things to share. Because my thoughts are all mixed up and jumbled today, I’m going to give you them in list form. A few random bits in no particular order…
-You never expect your family to shrink. Growing and multiplying, yes. It’s not supposed to get smaller. I can’t even explain the feeling of going from three kids to only two. Looking at Rystin and Vayah and thinking “these are ALL of my kids now!”. So so wrong. When I had Janae, it helped a little, but it still felt like there should be four. She was my fourth baby… someone was still missing. It was only for 6 weeks that I went back down to two kids, but it will be forever that there’s one still gone. I still have that feeling that I'm missing one when we’re not at home and I’m trying to keep track of them all. Will it always be?
-It also feels like I’ve gone backward in time. My oldest was learning how to write and spell. Now my oldest is only just learning his letters and numbers. . My oldest used to be able to help buckle himself and his brother into the car. Now my oldest just figured out his own buckle. My oldest used to be able to help gather clothes, shoes, and coats for the family. Now my oldest struggles to get himself dressed some days. And on and on it goes. I have to continuously remind myself that my oldest is 3, not 5. I cannot expect the same things from him that I could of his brother, who was two years older.
-The above quote is only half true. At this point, I cannot say that missing Skyler has gotten easier. Actually, I think as reality has settled in, and he seems further away, it has been harder now. But I do find it comforting to think that I’m one day closer to seeing him again, instead of thinking that I’m one day further away from him. It’s a scary thing to think that the memories of your own child may fade away.
-Being busy helps. I never have been one to love things to be crazy all the time. I like routine and schedules. I like knowing what is coming and planning ahead for it. The last 6 months have been completely upside down and very busy. God must know that’s what I’ve needed. Now as winter settles in and we don’t have plans every day, I am seeing how much better we do when we’re busy. Maybe in the long run that isn’t good. I know we need the time to think, process, grieve, and grow. But being around other people still helps.
-I still can’t believe that Skyler has been gone for over half a year. It is sometimes so hard still to comprehend that it’s even true, much less to think that we have survived the way we have for this long without him. I have been around a nephew lately who was born two days before Skyler. That’s been tough in some ways, neat in others. He seems so tall and grown up. Would Skyler be that tall after 6 months of growing? What would he act like? Reminding myself again that Skyler’s plan never went that far. He was only meant to be here for 5 years.
-Sometimes life gets discouraging. I see my own pain and sorrow. I see so many others hurting in similar or very different situations. I see the way the world is living. But I know that God is still in control. He is lifting up His children and holding them close. He still has a mission for us. There are so many out there who don’t know Him, and need this hope.
And one quick story to share...
Awhile back we were looking into what we wanted on Skyler’s headstone. (Something that just isn’t right to have to figure out!) Because I enjoy design, and wanted it to be more personal, I told the company that I would come up with something and email them what we wanted on the stone. I did a quick google search to get some ideas, as well as images we could use. It didn’t take long and I found this…
Yes. There is no doubt that that little boy could be Skyler. I loved the picture, and when Rystin saw it he was SO excited. We decided to use this image, so I included it in my design and sent it off. Later, the man we were communicating with asked if I had a clearer copy of the picture. I didn’t, but told him I would go back to the site and see if I could get it in a bigger file size. After much google searching, trying many various key words, and going back to my browser history, I’ve never been able to find the picture again. They were still able to use this copy for the headstone, so that wasn’t a problem.
But for me, it feels like it’s a picture just for us, of our little boy with Jesus.
Praise the Lord, they truly are together for eternity!!
Oh what a day that will be, when we can all join them there!
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope,
through the power of the Holy Ghost.
A few days or so before Skyler died, he told me he loved me.
It was one of those random things...
I was making supper and he came in the kitchen and gave me a big hug
and said "I love you, Mommy!"
He told me he loved me once in awhile,
and we always said it to each other every night before bed,
but he wasn't the type of kid who told me real often on his own.
I'll always treasure that last time.
One of the things that Skyler and I used to do was play the 'I love you game'.
We would go back and forth and try to
'out-do' each other in how big our love was.
"I love you as high as the ceiling!"
"I love you as big as the house!"
"I love you as tall as the trees!"
And so on.
I don't recall who said it first,
(I want to say Skyler, but I can't remember for sure)
but eventually, the ultimate was always:
"I love you as high as Heaven!"
I still love you, Skyler.
As high as Heaven.
I always will.
Even through missing you,
I still will love you.
I'm so thankful you knew that.
And I'm thankful to know that you love me...
even "as high as Heaven, Mommy!"
I'm so blessed by all these little things, that have become big things in the end!
I started to realize that the tone of this blog was feeling a bit discouraging.
Ok, maybe not totally, because I realize it has been a place for me
(and maybe others) to be ENcouraged.
But I want you guys to understand that my life isn’t
completely consumed with loss.
Yes, it’s been a tough summer.
But I have been so blessed in ways that others have not, so I am thankful.
I have appreciated using this blog to share my feelings, and the journey through grief (and still will). But there's more to my life to share.
The little people in my life couldn’t get much sweeter!
They’ve had some challenges adjusting, especially Rystin.
I could share some heartbreaking stories of some
of the things he has gone through.
Maybe someday I will. But not now.
Right now, let’s focus on the smiles and laughter, the happiness and joy.
Kids are amazing when it comes to change and acceptance.
They are told something, they take it as truth, and keep on living.
If only we could truly have the ‘faith of a child’ in all circumstances of life!
It has been so neat watching the way
Rystin and Vayah have bonded this summer.
Rystin has been forced to find a new best friend,
and Vayah is just getting old enough to fit the bill.
They know how to fight like cats and dogs,
but then there are the times that they just connect.
Skyler and Rystin fought some, but overall, there wasn’t a lot of drama.
2 year old girls? Yup. There’s drama!
It hurts me deep to know that my little boy doesn’t have a big brother to wrestle with, to do boy stuff with, and to look after him anymore.
They had such different personalities, but were together all the time.
It has been interesting to see Rystin stepping into the ‘biggest brother shoes’.
His first choice for footwear has been Skyler’s shoes.
He goes for Skyer’s basket before his own a lot of the time.
They’re floppy and clumsy, but he knows what he wants.
He’s thrilled to be able to use his big brothers stuff,
and has commented about how he can have them now.
Not in a way that he got a cool present,
but in the ‘I want to be like him’ kind of way.
Anyways… we weren’t going there. ;)
Yup. This little girl has brought us a lot of that!
She’s been a bit more of a needy baby at times,
but is getting better as she grows.
She sleeps amazingly (typically 9-10 hours straight!!),
so that has been such a blessing!
We have realized how important sleep is in all of our lives right now.
The struggles are so much harder when we’ve been lacking in that essential.
It has been so hard to understand how life can just keep going.
We lost our firstborn son, one of the brightest rays of sunshine I know.
And yet, our day to day lives don’t look that different.
We get up and greet the day, doing all of the same things we did before.
The empty spot at the table is becoming ‘normal’. The days filled with sorrow are fewer.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a hole, we still hurt, we still cry.
But when I look at our life overall, we’re happy!
We are able to keep living, keep doing the things we need to do.
Things we enjoy still bring us good feelings.
We can still run and play, laugh and tease, rest and relax,
pray and praise, work and live.
I never thought I’d be able to do those things the same way again.
But we’re still living.
Living in a more normal way than I thought possible.
So for those of you who don’t know my family well, let me introduce us.
These are the rays of sunshine that have kept us going.
These little people are the light in our dark days.
My sweet little boy.
The boy who is stepping up to take on the ‘oldest child’ role.
The boy who loves to laugh and tease.
The one who has quiet moments and tears,
and feels things most people ten times his age have never felt.
His white, curly blond hair and sparkling blue eyes makes everyone smile.
He is energetic and loves to be on the go.
He's patient and detailed, he'll work on things until he can figure them out.
I’m secretly excited about his little freckles that are starting to show up.
I love this boy like crazy!
My fiery little girl.
The girl I never realized how much I wanted until
she was in my arms for the first time.
The girl who turned our world around and keeps us on our toes.
The one who can brighten a room with her smile,
and make everyone laugh at her crazy antics.
Her dramatic two year old ways are all over the place!
She is independent, but loves to snuggle.
She’s determined, but oh so sweet.
She remembers her biggest brother,
but is young enough not to show a lot of response.
It’s been so fun to watch her grow and learn, and I love to imagine all the things we’ll do together.
I love this girl like crazy!
My baby girl.
The girl who brought us hope in the midst of heartache.
The girl who has kept me going,
needing a mommy who needs her to hold and snuggle.
The one who can melt your heart with one little coo.
Her jabbering and smiles make the dark days brighter.
She loves to tuck her face in my neck and sleep,
breathing warm little sighs in to my ear.
She’s active and alert, always checking out the world
like she’s ready to jump right in.
We have needed this girl so much, and have been so blessed by her joining our family during our deepest hurt.
It is so neat to think of my girls being sisters and friends.
I love this girl like crazy!
Seeing these rays of sunshine, it’s not so hard to see why we can keep going.
God has taken one of them home, and the world got a little dimmer.
But He has blessed us with three other little joys,
who need our love and attention.
This earth may never be as bright as it was, but Heaven got that much brighter!
Our mission here is that much clearer.
Our desire for our final Home that much stronger.
One day, our sunshine will be full again, under the light of the true Son!
We can keep going, because He has blessed us.
We’ll carry on as He carries us.
I have so many more thoughts to share about our story,
but I wanted to show you what brightened our summer.
The bus drove past our house today,
it didn't even slow down.
Cuz the little boy that should be here,
is now wearing his crown.
He had been so excited,
looked forward to that day.
Little did we know,
he wasn't here to stay.
The place he went is better
than anything he'd thought.
And he's learning so much more
than any teacher could have taught.
I see so many photos
of other kids' first day.
My heart breaks as I think
how my sweet boy went away.
I miss him in a way so deep,
and many days I'm sad.
But it makes my heart rejoice
to know his heart is glad.
I'm thankful for the years we had,
though they seemed too short.
I wait for the glorious day
when we'll meet again in Heaven's Court!
I'll love you forever little man!
Hello and Welcome!