sharing from my heart to yours
So I've been thinking a lot about life recently.
Ha. What else is new?!
But more specifically, what is our purpose?
Why are we here?
Who are we living for?
I think we can all give those answers somewhat easily.
In a nutshell, we are here to spread the love of Christ to the World.
I think sometimes, though, in the mundane of life, we forget.
I was visiting with some friends recently and we were discussing the topic of living for others, versus living for God.
Are we people-pleasers or God-pleasers?
Do we make choices based on what others will think of us?
Do we allow God to work in our lives in all circumstances?
Personally, I know this is a struggle for me.
Even here on the blog, I sometimes doubt about sharing my heart.
Will people think I'm trying just to get attention?
Will the like it or think it's dumb?
If they say they like it will I take the credit and be prideful?
If I am criticized, will I quit?
What if a lot of people read it?!
What if nobody reads it?!
I don't write often here, but it is one of the many areas in my life that this type of questioning comes about.
But we can ask these kinds of questions about anything...
Am I too focused on my job?
Do people think it's a waste of time?
Should I be wearing this style of clothes?
What if people think it's strange?
I wonder if I'm too hard on my kids.
Or maybe I'm too soft.
People might not think I'm doing it right.
I have something I want to give.
But they might think it's dumb.
What if I'm spending too much money on this?
Maybe I shouldn't go there, people might think I'm high class.
I don't want to go there, someone might think I can't do better.
I wonder what that person will think if they see this.
I'll just stay home, then people can't look down on me.
I can't stay home, people might think I'm stuck up!
You get the point.
Every single thing in life can become a point of doubting ourselves.
How sad that is.
We are so quick to hide who we really are.
We hide our hearts.
We hide behind excuses or make choices based on the people around us.
Some of these questions maybe SHOULD be asked.
But in a different way.
WHO are we living our lives for?
So the answer to all of those questions should be directed towards Him.
Would God think this decision is worth my time?
Am I following His leading by making this choice?
Does this thing in my life glorify Him?
We can so quickly forget that.
We worry and wonder about others will think of us,
without even considering what God will think.
People's opinions really don't matter.
It is hard to go against the grain and be different.
It's not easy to make choices that people around you might not like.
Going out of our comfort zone to do something we feel that God is leading us to can be a challenge.
Making changes in our lives because of God's calling isn't a simple thing.
We can live for others (or even ourselves), or we can live for God.
There is only one way.
It's not the easiest way.
Our God doesn't promise a smooth journey.
In fact, He tells us that the whole world may be against us.
But I come back to my title questions...
What's the point?
'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Let us ask God to guide us.
May He help us to live for Him,
without being concerned about the opinions of others.
I pray we can be real with each other.
Lets share our hearts, the joys and the struggles.
May we be confident in the person He created us to be.
And may we be sure in the faith He has given us.
...We can't stop it.
Or slow it down.
Or speed it up.
No matter what we are experiencing in life,
time continues to pass at the same rate, day after day.
I think this is a blessing, even though we are rarely content in it.
But time creates memories.
It gives us things to look forward to.
It assures us that things will change when we're feeling stuck.
It teaches us when we look back at the past.
It heals hurts.
7 years back in time (as of yesterday), my Skyler was born.
Nearly two years ago, he closed his eyes, only to open them again in Heaven.
82 years ago, my Papa was born.
Just over a week ago, he opened his eyes to see his Creator.
Time is funny like that.
It doesn't always make sense to us.
I believe there is no time in Heaven.
They are just there, and it's forever.
For Skyler and Papa, they are Home.
We're still stuck in this land of time, so we look ahead.
We wonder when our turn will come.
There is no way to know.
But we can be ready.
Both my son and my grandpa blessed my life in big ways.
With the passing of time, and the ability to look back, I am seeing how God has taught me in different ways, using His people as tools to do it.
Papa has an amazing legacy.
He lived his life serving his Lord.
He wasn't perfect, but he carried the torch of his faith.
He left behind many who can continue.
He was one of the people who taught me about Jesus.
Especially in my preteen and early teenage years.
I remember him telling me stories,
inspiring me with his mission,
and teaching me what having a personal faith really meant.
Those are (almost) all of my cousins from my mom's side of the family,
as well as about 1/3 of the great grandchildren.
It was a privilege to get reacquainted with them,
as we gathered to remember and say goodbye to our dear grandpa.
It was a bittersweet time, as death often is.
That woman in the center of the photo...
that's my grandma.
She is one of the strongest people I know.
I can't imagine the things that time has brought to her,
and the ways that God has taught her through it.
Looking back into the more recent past...
this little boy.
He is the little boy who made me a mother.
The feeling of holding your first child in your arms is completely mind blowing.
There is truly know way to describe it.
But I think the things that happen in our hearts in the days and months and years that follow is even more amazing.
I had no idea what God would teach me through this sweet little life.
For me, becoming a mom showed me so many things.
How truly selfish I was.
How big my heart could grow without actually exploding.
How much control I gave to fear.
How easily priorities in life could get mixed up.
How much God truly sacrificed for His children.
That I really didn't have as much patience as I once thought.
And that I didn't have child raising figured out after all.
How tightly we can hold on.
And how hard it is to let go.
On and on the list goes.
I am starting to see how little we actually know in this life.
God is shaping us and molding us through every experience.
He puts people in our life that teach us and challenge us.
Some of those things have been very hard.
Yet even through those things, I have seen His faithfulness.
Despite who I am.
Despite all of my mess ups.
Despite my stubbornness.
He is the patient Father.
His arms are always open.
His ears are always listening.
His LIFE has been given for ME.
I am thankful.
And because of all of this,
the little boy, who we celebrated yesterday...
the one who we miss with aching hearts...
who had a grin that would light up a room...
who has taught me so much...
I will see him again.
But how long?
How many more days do I have to wait?
It doesn't matter.
Because He is faithful.
His promise is sure.
And there is no time when we are talking about Forever.
Hold onto His promise.
Believe it and KNOW.
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
It really represents a lot to me.
I've been working on scrapbooking through Skyler's 5 years of life.
When I came across this picture tonight,
I was struck by the meaning that I felt behind it.
It was taken the summer before Skyler went Home.
I see innocence.
I see a sweet brother bond, where the bigger one helps out the smaller.
I see the flow of life, frozen in a still moment, before splashing to the ground.
I see transition, the place in between, where we spent almost two sweet years trying figure out what direction God wanted us to go.
I see a solitude haven, where we were surrounded in a shelter of God's peace.
I see joy and sunshine and warmth and love.
I see holey jeans and diapers and bare little toes.
I see thirst, and blessings of relief.
I see contentment.
Those sweet things became hard to see for awhile.
And they often still seem far away.
Rystin turned 5 earlier this month.
That was a milestone that I dreaded a bit.
But this 'in-between' time, knowing he is so close to the age Skyler was the last time I saw him, has been a bit challenging.
I hold on to Rystin a little tighter.
(Well, when he lets me!)
I feel that fear creeping up, and I battle to hold on,
instead of giving that fear to the One who controls all things.
The heaviness is close and I just want to hold that sweet little blond boy again.
But I look around and see a fallen world.
Today we went to the funeral of my husband's uncle.
Yesterday a teenage boy in our community was killed suddenly.
I know of many struggling with diseases and fighting so many battles.
I know it won't be over until the day He returns.
But I also know, the Victory is won!
As we heard today, Jesus is the Healer of the broken.
It is only through Him, that these hurts can be healed.
So when that warmth of the sunshine,
the contentment and joy,
the haven of rest seems so far away...
we can hold onto that Promise.
HE HAS OVERCOME!
So I have been doing some thinking recently.
And I'm sorry in advance if this post gets a little mushy and gushy.
My heart is just SO grateful.
As time has passed, I have come to realize more and more
how much the little things mean.
Looking back at our time of deepest heartache,
I can see SO much blessing.
I know I've said before that in those hardest times,
some of the most beautiful things come through.
But as the days, weeks, months, and soon to be YEARS have gone by,
those blessings that we experienced then have become even more treasured.
I have to say, I am SOOO thankful that God gave us each other.
Relationships are such powerful resources.
"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.
The way God used His body of believers to be His hands and feet
to us during that time was so amazing.
So many of you reached out in so many ways.
Big or small things, all equaled huge things because the effort was made.
There were people that hardly knew my family who gathered together for a prayer meeting for our family, then came together and
brought supplies and hugs to our home.
There were people that I treasure who dropped
everything and came to be with us.
There were churches that we'd never attended,
or even heard of, that sent gifts and love.
There were anonymous gifts being dropped off at our doorstep, fund raisers set up, cards for months, dinners, visits, messages, care packages, and on it goes.
Though you knew that these things wouldn't take our pain away, you made the effort to show your love... God's love.
The friendships and relationships that have grown since
this time have been such a blessing.
I sometimes feel like my heart will explode with love that
I feel from and for so many of you.
I hope that some day I can bless you back.
Or that God will put someone in your life who can give to
you what you have given to us.
I'm here to tell you that the little things matter.
Go that extra step.
Send that message.
Make that call.
Be that light in the darkness.
It may mean more to someone than you realize.
The love you gave us meant more than I can express in words.
The people God placed in my life, at the times that He did,
remind me that His promises are true.
He is faithful and He will never leave us or forsake us.
And sometimes, going that extra mile for someone else gives
you a little extra boost as well.
This holiday season brought many mixed emotions.
It was a relief to be able to face the time with less dread and more joy.
It was hard to feel that, knowing that my sweet boy is that much further away in our memories.
We have a video of Skyler singing 'In a Little Stable', and we were able to sing along with him and smile as our family celebrated the birth of Christ.
Knowing that now I have to say "in 2014, Skyler..." because it has been just that long ago is... tough.
Seeing my 2nd son celebrate his 5th birthday was also challenging.
Maybe I'll share more thoughts on these things later.
I pray that you all feel my gratitude.
And that you will continue to make a difference in the lives of the people that God brings into your path.
Have a blessed and restful 2016!
God answers prayers!
I have to share this story with you from a few weeks ago.
It so perfectly reminded me that He cares and is with us ALWAYS!
It was a Sunday afternoon and Jethro had the evening off from doing chores at the farm. We all were tired after a crazy weekend and decided to just spend the afternoon resting. We put the kids down for naps (which didn't last long). I laid down on Rystin's bed (which used to be shared by Skyler), intending to take a nap. Instead, my thoughts turned to the boy who, not long ago...but forever ago, slept in the same place where I laid.
The rest of the day was very difficult, both in that, and other things.
I pleaded with God to show Skyler to me again.
I just needed a peek, or a sign, or a memory.
During the night, I woke up to the sweetest feeling.
God had answered my prayers with an amazing dream!
Our family was together again.
Skyler was playing outside with Rystin and I called for them to come inside because we were packing to go on a trip together.
Skyler was bigger.
About the size of a 6.5 year old.
The details are were fuzzy, but I'm sure I got to talk with him and hug him.
I had always feared that if I had a dream like that, it would be crushing to wake up and have to realize again that he was gone.
But God had even taken care of that.
Even in my dream, I knew that Skyler was gone.
I knew it was just a brief glimpse of him.
I tried to figure out how old he was,
and knew it had been a long time since I had seen him last.
I woke up filled with peace.
I felt like I had been given the chance to visit my Skyler again!
God is SO good to remind me that even still, He knows my pain and gives us just what we need. He is always faithful!
Here is a picture I recently shared on FB of my funny boy.
It was almost two years ago (a few months before he went Home),
when we spent some time with my family in OR.
We did some hiking up in the hills and I got a few pictures.
I think he was wearing his Papa's hat over his hood, thinking he was pretty cool!
He was looking out at the world below.
So close to Heaven, in ways we never knew.
The God of the mountain is STILL God in the valley!
I took a few fall pictures of my kids not long ago.
I updated my profile picture on FB from one of my oldest three,
to this one of my youngest three.
It took a long time to be able to take the first one down, and I still had to include the top picture of Skyler in my cover photo.
It's tough not having a picture of all my kids together.
But so comforting to know that my biggest boy is waiting for us at Home!
We will see him again someday...
and I'm hoping for more sweet dreams between now and then!
It's been awhile since I've shared on here.
Life kind of gets away from us.
Time rolls by and stands still all at once.
These days blend together.
The last year and a half feels like a blur and I wonder how much of it I will remember years down the road.
It feels like a bit of a strange place right now.
A limbo between devastating grief and life 'outside' of grief.
By the way... I don't think that second part is technically possible, but I do know that we will eventually get to a place where it doesn't feel so raw anymore.
I don't think there is a 'right' way to do it, and we all walk it at a different pace.
We can't criticize another for the way they walk (or run, or crawl) through tough places. Especially if you've never been on that journey yourself.
One of the biggest things I hear in the stories of others' grief is how everyone 'expects' you to do it how they think is best.
Let's just walk beside.
No matter if it's grief, or a completely different kind of trial.
I have learned that God will not let go of His own.
He is always by our side and He gives us strength.
So be part of His body, lifting up those who are hurting.
And just for the record, I haven't felt too much of this criticism,
but I know it is a huge struggle to so many.
I just got off on a bit of a rabbit trail :)
I was talking about the place in between.
Where we hang in an uncertain place of the grief process.
I had a friend on FB ask awhile ago about the 'season' of life we are in, in relation to the seasons of the year.
I'll share my answer since I feel like it says what I'm trying to explain:
I think summer for me. There has been more sunshine in my life than I've felt in a long time. There are still plenty stormy days where the rain clouds gather and the lightning seems to strike hard. But the skies clear again and God's mercies are new every morning. I feel like I'm in the relaxed, laid back mode of summer, swinging between the season of new growth and the season of changes. If I look too far ahead, I start to dread the cold that is bound to come, as bad days always will. One day at a time, sweet Jesus!
I am so thankful for the joy that God has allowed me to feel.
I think that after the dark cold blizzard, through the pains of new growth, the blessing of rest and light has been even more appreciated.
So often you hear how the 'little years' are tough ones with kids.
And they are hard.
You're needed 24/7.
You often don't get space to yourself.
Interruptions are normal and pouting is typical too.
(probably for the kids AND the mama!)
Maybe it's like the phrase
"you don't know whatcha got 'til it's gone".
Older moms always say to treasure the younger years.
You know what? I do.
I love their smiles and the twinkle in their eyes.
I love to see them learn new things and find joy in the little things.
I've watched them grow through their own pain.
And I know there is one missing.
Maybe that helps me to appreciate what I have even more.
If I could freeze time, I would!
No matter how you look at it, life is hard!
As I said earlier, we all walk the road a little differently from the next person.
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.
This life is hard.
The longer I live, the more people I meet, the more stories I hear.
For a long time, in my innocence of youth, I felt like life was pretty good.
Thanks to my parents for giving me a happy childhood, and great friends for meaningful memories as a teen. I'm so grateful for those years, and I think it is truly a time to be treasured.
No, don't get me wrong, there are SO many good things about this life still.
I am blessed in many ways, and I'm not just talking about in material things.
But I have come to realize that there really are times where we ALL walk in the valley, as well as times when we stand on the mountain.
Something that I have come to recognize more recently, is that
Some struggle in obvious ways, such as the loss of a child, addictions, hurtful relationships, abuse, and so on.
Others struggle in ways that many times go unnoticed.
I think we all have internal heartaches that we are reluctant to share.
We feel like we are alone in our pain, or wonder what people will think of us.
The truth is, we all need somebody to come along side of us and help.
We need encouragement, support, and love.
We need to be understood, open, and honest.
It is hard to see so much pain, when all we really want is unity.
I believe Christ is the only One who can truly bring that.
But He calls us in many ways to not only share our burdens, but also help others carry them.
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
We are here on this sin filled earth for a reason.
When you feel that nudging thought to ask someone about their struggles,
When someone needs a helping hand, a hug, a meal, a visit, and kind word,
And... when YOU are the person in need of these things...
It hurts to see so much pain.
We get pushed out of our comfort zones to share our hearts.
We want to hide from the hurt and put on masks, pretending that life is just fine, when in reality, those masks pull us deeper into bondage.
May we come along side of each other, praying for each other, and being the people that God has called us to be.
His grace covers all.
He wants to take all of our pain.
And some day, that perfect unity will come.
This is also written to myself!
I have in NO way mastered any of this, but I am inspired to share my thoughts.
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.
Hello and Welcome!