Homeschool

Homeschool Planning Edit

3 weeks ago, we officially started a Kindergarten curriculum, knowing that we would be editing some things up and some things down based on my son’s skill level. Like every other kid on the planet, he has strengths in some areas (letter identification, number identification into the hundreds and being able to count to 100) and some weaknesses that we need to work on (fine motor skills, letter sounds).

The first two weeks were an intro unit based on the creation story and it was a good start for us. There wasn’t anything too challenging in it that made my son not look forward to “school” enough that it was a fight, it helped us establish a new rhythm in our day of getting work done before we could look at screens, and gave him confidence in his ability to do this whole “school” thing.

This past week was our first letter unit. The My Father’s World Kindergarten Curriculum used to study each unit for 6 school days. Now, they have shortened it to 5 with the newest edition of the teacher manual and student sheets. Since I have an old manual, I was going to just stick with the 6-day units so as not to change too much right at the beginning. But based upon my son’s weaknesses mentioned above, and just wanting to add in some more “fun” activities based on what we’re learning about, I’ve decided to stretch the units out 4 days and make each unit 2 school weeks long.

This past weekend, I went through and organizing his portfolio, keeping it together by units in a 3 ringed binder with dividers. We don’t have to do any kind of record keeping our great state of Texas as far as homeschooling goes, but I would like to have a record of what we did, how it went, and examples of his work for a couple of reasons. One is for encouragement for me. On those days when I feel like I’m not making a difference and that maybe we shouldn’t be doing this because I’m a terrible teacher, I can look back and remind myself of what we have done. The second encouragement is for both me and my son on days either of us is discouraged at slow progress or feeling like we’re not getting anywhere. We can look back and see what he has learned and it can inspire us to keep going.

I found this year-at-a-glance calendar and printed it out at the end of March and made a rough plan that I knew would change for our Kindergarten year. Now that trips have been planned and I’ve decided we needed some extra time on the units, I printed it off again, and edited our timeline.

Book Notes, Digital World, Fitness, Food Stuff, Homeschool

This Past Week : April 10th to 16th

Reading

I finished my non-fiction book for the month, Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. You can read my first thoughts and highlights from the book here. I’m going to finish reading James and the Giant Peach this week and I thinks start the Benedict Option by Rod Dreher on recommendation from my husband. The next fiction I pick up will be Jane and Prudence. I’ve got 6 books on my Kindle right now via Overdrive that I need to read before I can reconnect to Wifi (because they loans are all over, but I’m not done reading!) so I’ll have to see about actual paper-book availability from the library for my next children’s book.

Digital Life

I head a couple of great podcasts this week on life with screens. The first one is from Sally Clarkson and her daughter Sarah about living a story-formed life and the second was from the Homeschool Sisters podcast and an interview with Mary that I found to be extremely realistic and helpful.

Homeschool

We finished up our second week in the My Father’s World Kindergarten curriculum. My
son finished his number line of the Creation events and also made a book that I laminated and put rings on. On Friday, we took pictures on the way to the store and talked about how things are God-created versus things that are man-made. That came at a super timely point because my son has been saying things like “Why did God make them live in that apartment?” We were able to, in a 5 year old’s understanding, talk about how God did make everything and is complete control, but that He inspires man to make things and decisions.IMG_6315

This week, we’re starting our first letter unit “S” and learning about the sun and that Jesus is the light of the world.

Meal Plan

Two big hits around our house that I made this past week and that I can link to is this Thai Pork Stir Fry from Hello Fresh and these Mini-Meatball Sandies form Giada. The other yummy dish I made was Lemon Garlic roasted chicken breasts with roasted potatoes.

I hope you and your family had a Happy Easter weekend!

Book Notes, Fitness, Food Stuff, Homeschool

This Past Week : April 3rd to 9th

Reading

I finished a book called Luck, Love and Lemon Pie. It gets 3.5 stars on Goodreads, and I’d say I agree with that. I really liked the author’s previous book, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, so I was excited to read this one, but I find if I had to pick one it would be a definite vote for the The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. This book is about a woman named MJ who has been married for 20 years and has two kids, one about to graduate high school. Her marriage isn’t “on the rocks” per se, but she finds that she’s missing the fire that was once there. The book is about how she goes about trying to re-kindle the fire she once had with her husband. I do wish there was more to the characters and some of their stories (like Tammie and what was going on with Tammie and Chris, MJ’s husband). Her first book was so centered around food, and I expected the same from this one with the title as such, but it ended up not really having that much play in the story. Overall, I’d recommend it for an easy read, maybe on the beach or plane or if you’re really wanting something easy and quick.

I’m currently reading Wild and Free and James and the Giant Peach.

Homeschool

We completed our first week of My Father’s World Kindergarten this week. We learned about the first 5 days of Creation and are going over identifying letters. It’s been a great way to ease into a more rigid schedule than we have been. Instead of setting up a schedule for our day, I’ve set up a framework to work through, with only meals happening at certain times. I got the idea of using a ladder as a picture of our day from Ann Voskamp.

The first rung is the beginning of our day and I wanted it to be some habit forming routines for us. (I need to find a way to get up BEFORE my son does because that’s going to be  the easiest time to get my quiet time and workout in.) When my son gets up, he gets 30 minutes of screen time while he eats breakfast. I eat my breakfast and hopefully finish up my morning time reading. Ideally, we would both get dressed, brush our teeth, and make our beds before we take the dogs out, but so far that hasn’t happened. I also wanted to make a point to unload the dishwasher so that throughout the day, it would be easier to maintain a level of cleanliness in the kitchen instead of cooking dinner in the evening and then having a giant mess to clean up from a whole day of dishes when all I want to do is sit down. It all has happened eventually, but it’s usually been after taking the dogs out.

The second rung is to take the dogs out for their morning walk and also what I like to call my “Morning Bootycall” thanks to Tone It Up. They say it is important for your metabolism to get up and get moving, so I kill two birds with one stone and smash dog walking and bootycall together. Like I said, my son, so far has been going in his pajamas and bringing his breakfast with him to finish up. I’m fine with that- it’s not about doing the thing and checking it off, and right now, there are lots of battles so I’m choosing to let this go for now. Once we get back and finish up everything from rung one, we sit down to read our Bible passages for school that day and go over our memory verse and song we’re memorizing.

The third rung is to get outside. I have this scheduled right here because in Texas, the summer is HOT and about the only thing you can do outside later on has to involve some  kind of body of water, so we’re going to take advantage of the cooler-ish temperatures in the morning and get outside for something, ANYTHING. A bike ride, park visit, etc. This is where, if I had a schedule, things would fall apart. One day, we just went for a little bike ride to a park about a quarter mile away and was only gone maybe 45 minutes. The next day, we were gone until 1 pm! It makes it much easier to handle that without the schedule hanging over my head- why would I want to throw away adventure time that’s going well (and keeping us off a screen) just to stick to a schedule? Old Sarah would have done that. New Sarah, who is learning a lot as she goes, says we’ll keep on doing what’s going well.

The fourth rung is the first one that has a general time attached to it (but we’re not being sticklers about it!) and that’s because it’s lunch time. My son gets a break to watch a screen while we each eat lunch. I would love to eventually have more read-aloud time here, but we’re keeping things simple as we start out. It’s also a time for me to sneak in getting some of my stuff done. That’s one thing I’ve already noticed about this new schedule- I get a lot less done throughout the day (like chores or random to do’s). That’s good though because I don’t want my son on a screen for a long time and so that means we’re doing more positive, good things.

The fifth rung is for math, but in our intro unit for the first two weeks, we don’t have any math except to learn numbers 1-10 and my son is pretty in control of that. I’ll have a better  handle on this rung in a couple of weeks, but for now, we just kind of skip over it. I’m not convinced we won’t have to move all school work to the morning at some point, but this is what we’re going with right now. I still think, even once we start math, that it will be pretty simple for us because it looks like for a while it just involves counting days until we get to 100 school days using straws and a chart. We’ll talk about place value a little bit as this gets started as once we get 10 straws in our jar, we’ll bundle them together to make a 10. My son can already count to 100 by 1s and 10s so I’m not going to be super focused on this.

The sixth rung is our second school activity rung. This is when we’ll get our language art  lessons done as well as our Bible lessons. Right now, we’re just learning about the creation story, so it means we talk about a specific day in creation (what did God make that day?) and make two projects to help us remember them. We are also reviewing identifying letters. This is where another homeschool perk comes in because my son already knows some of his letters and we can blow through that pretty quickly. Homeschooling is awesome because it lets us move on to what we need to work on without being stuck. It also reminds me to not focus so much on what we’re struggling with (writing and recalling information) and see that my son is ahead in some areas and behind in others just like every kid on the planet.

The seventh rung is to finish up our school work subjects that aren’t math or language arts. So science or extra activities our curriculum assigns will be finished up. I think there are some composer studies for music as well as art and science activities throughout. This is also where I will add in fun things for us to do that aren’t apart of our curriculum but that I think will be fun or cool to do based on the unit we’re studying. Once we hit 2:30-3:00 pm, we’ll take our dogs on their afternoon walk and also have a snack. Ideally, my son doesn’t get to look at a screen until this evening, but addictions are hard to break and the days are long with Jim working at the end of session, so we have been throwing a 30 minute break in here for that.

The eighth rung is to get out of the house. This will usually involve swimming because Texas heat, but the afternoons get too long if we’re just sitting here. We could also get errands run. Whatever it is, we just need out of the house because it’s easier to say “no” to a screen that way. The funny thing is that all of this might change when we move back to Wichita Falls. That’s why we’re not getting too stuck on this and also saying this is a great time to try some things out because there will come a natural time to break and change things when we move again.

The last rung of the day is to finish up the day well. We’ll cook and eat dinner, take baths, and  my son will get one last screen time (usually he’s counting down the minutes until Dad gets home so they can play video games) and then head to bed. I’ll finish loading up the dishwasher and start it so it’s ready to go for tomorrow. I also hope to tidy up the house each night so that it doesn’t get so overwhelming during the day or on the weekends. I tend to leave my son’s toys out because he’s more likely to play with them, but keeping our bedroom and bathroom clean, the kitchen clean, and the floors free of as much as possible goes a long way for this recovering neat freak.

Meals

I’m use Plan To Eat for meal planning. I really like it because I can add in our different menus to accommodate all of our various eating styles. When I’m doing a Tone It Up challenge, I’m eating all clean. My son is still very picky in what he likes and Jim is gone for most of the week, so I can add in things where I need them and it works for us. Last week we had a couple of fails. Plan To Eat is doing a “one pot” round up of recipes you can cook in one pot or in a crock pot. I made this Tex Mex Quinoa in the crock pot and it was “meh.” I also tried a one pot spaghetti that didn’t turn out great (the noodles weren’t cooked by the time the water boiled off so things started burning).

My Fitness

The last big thing that happened last week was that Tone It Up announced their Bikini Series for this summer. It starts April 24th and they’ll be announcing the bundles and prices this coming week and I’m super excited. They do have a “free” option so if you’re reading this, and we’re friends and you want to be accountable to each other, let’s do it! You can sign up at toneitup.com and they’ll send you a starter pack! Join me! Let me know if you’re joining in!

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Book Notes

“Wild & Free” Notes

I’ve followed the Influence Network for a few years now, and Jess Connolly (one of the authors of this book) pretty regularly on Instagram. All that means is that Wild and Free has been on my “to read” list for a while (Jess has a second book coming out this fall) so I was excited when I got the email from my library that it was available from overdrive!

It’s super hard thing to hear God’s voice in this world we live in. You have got to be so intentional. And I say “you” because I really me “I.” I have got to be super intentional in taking in information as “necessary” for my life. There are so many good blogs, podcasts, instagram accounts, etc. out there- but none of those, in and of themselves, are God’s message to me about how I should live life. Because friends, I can’t do it all, and I’ve so far not found anyone who can. Jess says in the book “The confusion lies in the deception that began with Eve’s partaking of the shiny, beautiful fruit because someone told her that was best for her.” It’s super important to take stock of who we’re letting speak truth and wisdom into our lives; if it’s only the podcasters and bloggers and instagrammers, then we’re probably off track or carrying a lot of weight and obligations God never intended us to hold. “They exhaust themselves as they serve out of obligation, not worship.” This is piercing to me because I’m a striver by nature, and my work can easily step in front of my worship and become the “thing.”

There was also a couple of points talking about what we look to for worth or value. One of those is other people, who we are quick to process things out through without talking them through with our Father. The other was how we gather and curate things to add “spice” to our life; “His love and presence are no longer what spices our life and makes our world sweet.” I’m not exactly sure what to do with the second one yet, but I thought it was an interesting thought.

The book’s point is that we are to walk wild and free because that’s how God created us to. They’re also after redefining “wild and free” because it seems to be opposite of what many of us think, consciously or not, about what our lives should look like. The freedom we desire is only found in Christ. “We are bound up by our own fears and self-imposed limitations rather than walking freely in God’s purpose for our lives. … Sometimes that means we need to let go of our tightly organized systems and plans.” This freedom is scary to me, and something I’ve been wrestling with lately because not having a set out list of how to get from point A to point B is scary to me because I’m super fearful of messing up. I found this to be convicting and encouraging and something I’ve written in my journal as I continue to wrestle with this: “We never need to be afraid of failure- not when God’s grace will always be there to break our fall. It makes me not fear accidentally wandering off the right path. I know we have a Shepherd who will come and look for us. His worry isn’t for the many in the flock who needn’t repent, but for the one who has gone astray. We can follow Him with abandon, never worrying that in following Him we’ll go the wrong way.” I keep being brought back to this point that it’s already done, the plan has been made and God will accomplish His plan; I can’t get in the way, because I’m just a humble one person in this grandiose scheme of His glory. There’s no getting it right enough that I wouldn’t mess up. This thinking is so faulty because it implies such pride in myself that A) I could be amazing enough to “get it right” with my plans and organizing or B) that I could be powerful enough to mess up the plan of Almighty God. When I finally got to the place of speaking that truth over my fears, it was humiliating to realize that I had believed such lies and merciful that God didn’t leave me there to continue on in that thinking. “We can’t go anywhere where He is not already. We cannot outpace Him, because He is already there.” (Psalm 139:7-10) “The good news is just as good for you today as it was the day you first believed. God didn’t suddenly expect you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get it done yourself. You don’t hold the power to save yourself or to make yourself good, and God didn’t start expecting that of you just because you met Jesus.” Hayley went on to talk about her story and I completely identified with it as an oldest daughter, Type A, people pleaser. She continued on in this vein of thought of what freedom looks like- not letting circumstances shake me, loving people but not living to please them, content and not striving. She said exactly what I was thinking: “Freedom feels uncomfortable sometimes, because the rules are stripped away and we have to rely on relationship over a set of manufactured to do lists.” But these lists were helping me measure my goodness, and God has already said “Christ’s righteousness is yours. Remember? It’s finished and it’s enough.” “Operating in freedom can feel chaotic. We are stripped of our measuring stick, our goal posts, and the world’s promises. We are left simply with the knowledge that when we are in Christ, we are His and we are free. We are pushed to intimacy with the Spirit instead of a set of to-dos or measurements. We are left to do business with a God who is invisible but omnipresent.”

As the authors looked to re-identify “wild” they talked about how wild women are secure in their roots in God and have no need to hide our humanity because the gospel we love and preach is what we need everyday. A wild woman works from approval, not for it, and doesn’t see life from a place of lack. “She knows that this life is not a sprint but a grace filled marathon. She also knows it’s not her strength, by the Lord’s that pushes her forward.” These are all things that I struggle with.

I also read in the book an interesting definition of “tolerance” which is a hot-button topic in our world today. “Tolerance is seeing people fairly, objectively, permissively. Taking interest in and showing concern for what they believe, even when their beliefs are different from mine. Yes. I can do that. And even more so- the idea that tolerating is the capacity to endure. I know I can do that because it’s exactly how I see my Jesus live and love in the Bible.” And I would add, thanks to my church’s current sermon series on 1 Peter that we are called to endure as exiles in this world by the power of Jesus name.

They also talked about calling each other “up” versus “out.” I love this because if we are walking securely in the freedom we have in Christ, we know the playing field is level because we are all in a mess, messing up, falling short. Often times, we’re not in a place to call each other out, but we can speak truth and speak life and cheer each other on upward.

So there are my crazy, not very organized thoughts about the book Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. It’s a recommended read for sure!