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Juggle Whatever

Our local library has a wonderful summer reading program for the kids.

They give a lot of prizes for reading logs and other challenges given throughout the summer months.  One of the things we love and look forward to is that every Wednesday, they have scheduled guest entertainment.

So fun.

These entertainers range from the OKC Zoo with fun animals, “Mad” Scientists that do amazing chemical reactions, Musicians that get the kids up and moving, and more.

This was the third year for us to attend what has become one of our favorite performing duos…Juggle Whatever.

Juggle Whatever is a husband and wife duo who bring a fun and exciting act to the library each summer.  Jeremy and Kelsey have a great rapport with the kids.  They interact perfectly with those in attendance and the children respond well to them.

For the thirty minutes or so that we get to see them, Jeremy juggles balls, pins, etc. as well as doing it all on a unicycle!  Kelsey also interacts in the juggling and brings hula-hooping into the mix.  This year we saw a little bit of acrobatics in the program as well.  The first year I saw them was wonderful, and then the next year they turned off the lights and did a glow show!  What!  I love it, and so do my kids.  Each year they just keep getting better and better.

Juggle Whatever travels all over the nation performing an amazing entertaining show.  We are always riveted to each step of the performance.  The duo also have many other talents that the library doesn’t afford them room to perform, such as walking on stilts or juggling/hooping with props on fire.  Hello.

The second part I appreciate about there performances is the message that comes with them.  Jeremy and Kelsey add in the message of what it takes to be able to do and perform their acts.  Making mistakes.  They always speak on the idea that mistakes will happen when learning something new.  This year they spoke about “grit”, the characteristic of pushing through until you have achieved what you set out to achieve.  As stated on their website…

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I appreciate this because I had real trouble with this as a kid and I see it in my own kids.  It is very powerful for Builder and Princess to hear that message from a couple they admire.

In addition, at the end of the library program the kids get to give plate spinning or juggling a try of their own.  They get to practice the fun stuff, and practice making mistakes in a safe and fun environment.

At this year’s program, Kelsey mentioned that they have applied through Performers Without Borders for a chance to travel to Kenya to perform their act and deliver their message to children on the continent of Africa!  So next year when we see them, they may be international superstars!!!

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An added benefit of this whole thing is that Princess is very interested in the art of hooping and so this year, we will be purchasing a beginner hoop for her.  That will be her big yearlong goal to improve and move forward in (and stick with) the craft of hooping.  I am excited as well because, well, of course I have to get a hoop now to help Princess learn her tricks! (wink, wink)

If you are in need of entertainment for a gathering, downtown event, library program, etc.  I highly recommend looking into Juggle Whatever.  You can find them here on the web, or here on Facebook.  They are two very friendly, inspiring, amazing people.  We love to see them each year, and may try to see them in some of their other venues around the area.

We wish them many blessings and much favor throughout the year.

And You? ~ What skill would you attempt if you allowed yourself the grit to push past the mistakes? 

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charity: water

I want to start this post by saying that what I am about to write on is not a sponsored post and I am not receiving any compensation for it.

What I do want to relate to you is how much the following organization touched my heart and I am not even on the receiving end of their charity.

In September of 2016, the kids and I had been talking about the need of clean water for many people in the world.  We discussed children who, even if school were available to them, many were not able to go because most of their day was spent walking to a source of water (not clean) and then back home.  We even went outside to the puddles and contemplated what life would be like if that was the only kind of water we had to drink.  It was then we decided to do a fundraiser to help provide clean water to those in need.  You can read about it here.

Builder and Princess did great saving their coins in a jar and asking family to help in their efforts.  Others donated as well and we were able to raise $78.  Now, in total honesty, I was a little disappointed at this.  My heart so desired to help with this issue that to me $78 felt small, almost insignificant.

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They were so little! (Sept. 2016)

Fast forward to June 2018.  This past week, I received an email from charity: water, the organization we chose to give to the mission of clean water for the world.  The email was titled “Your Completion Report”.  It explained how our funds along with 118 other donors helped to rehabilitate (fix) a broken well in the small village of Kabra Yahaya, Niger, Africa.  The charity: water repair team partnering with World Vision Inc. fixed a broken or abandoned non-charity: water well in this village restoring clean water to the community.

419 people were helped with this project.

I love not only that charity: water has the desire to provide clean water globally, but also that they are wise and resourceful about how they do it.  Strategies such as fixing wells that are already established but not working, or the fact that they partner with organizations that are local (World Vision Inc.).  This tells me that they are not simply there to do a one shot deal.  Their true passion is clean water for the long haul in as many places as possible.

As I read through the email with my kids, looking at the Google Map pin provided in the email (click here to see our project village) to see the village “for real”, my heart was filling with joy.  Being able to show my kids that real people were helped and that the money didn’t just go into this realm of the unknown was priceless.

To be able to praise God for the fruits of His resources is such a joy.

And, if I am to be honest, I teared up as I looked at the list of the other 118 donors who helped to fund this project.  Oh, I feel the tears again!  What touched me most (and humbled me) is that almost every other donation was right around $80.  That which I thought insignificant, became significant.  It was a powerful reminder that the Lord will use what we have, especially when we give with a joyful heart.  A heart that holds His love for the nations.

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I encourage you, whatever may be in your heart…a mission, a desire to help.  Give from what you have.  It may not seem enough, but in God’s hands it truly is enough.  I cannot help but think about how pleased Jesus was when the widow gave her two coins at the temple, recounted in Mark 12:41-44.  It stood out to Him and pleased Him enough for him to point it out to His disciples, who would not have even noticed it or may have even scoffed at it.

Will we be working with charity: water again?  I think so.  Will we continue to move forward in the passions that Father has placed in each one of our hearts?  You bethca!

And You? ~ Have you worked with an organization that you have come to love?

Top 5 Curriculum Choices

Yes, I am still in the mode of reflecting over the past school year.  Reflecting on the past, in order to move into the future.  In doing so, I asked myself the question…

What most helped learning happen this year?

There were some curriculum choices that were just fine and worked well, but I feel that we could have made a different choice without consequence.  The more I thought, the more I found specific choices that were a critical part of our school year.

The short of it…here are the 5 things (in no certain order) for which I am thankful that we found.  I am thankful both for the sake of my sanity and for the sake of my kids learning and success.

#1 – Easy Peasy Curriculum

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This is a free online curriculum found at www.allinonehomeschool.com.  And I must say, that it is a very full curriculum with a lot to offer.  To be honest, I was very leery at first because it is free!  Not the best mindset, but there you have it.  Having a small budget, and finally getting so tired of searching and searching for curriculum that I fell in love with but couldn’t afford, I turned to Easy Peasy.

There are so many subjects available, I didn’t want to get overwhelmed.  So I simply started Builder on the math course and to my surprise, he loved it.  It was a nice blend of computer game practice, video learning, and worksheet practice.  It had a great amount of review with a good balance of moving forward.  Builder is so natural with numbers that he found himself skipping days here-and-there, but the layout of this curriculum made it no big deal to do so.

Builder also used the Easy Peasy History curriculum to study World War II.  And though we didn’t cover the entire Modern History unit, using just the lessons for WWII worked perfectly for us.  This also allowed us to pull in some fun lessons from other places without feeling like we were out of line with the flow of learning.

I was also surprised when Princess saw the math that Builder was doing and requested to start using Easy Peasy as well.  She started in the Math – 1 level and has not looked back.  She has made more progress than I expected and loves to see that she is moving through each day.  It has given her a sense of accomplishment to see how many days she has completed.  We will definitely be continuing with this next year.

#2 – Art for Kids Hub

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In an attempt to bring in art to our school day, we started drawing an animal each day that went along with the abc’s…a-alligator, b-bat, c-cat, etc.  During this process, I would search each day to find a “How-to” step-by-step drawing guide for that day’s animal.  In doing this, we ran across the website www.artforkidshub.com.  We fell in love.

Rob, is a really fun guy who leads you step-by-step through how to draw your chosen picture.  His directions were so easy to follow that we could all join in.  He is very encouraging and the way he teaches clicked with us immediately.  In fact, because of his videos, art went from being a one day a week subject to every day, per my kids request!

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A side note – the more Builder participated in the art videos, the better his handwriting became!  He had always struggled with handwriting; I believe the art videos gave him the confidence and physical practice of the necessary motor skills to help his writing improve.  Great benefit to art!

#3 – Ready2Read

This curriculum was imperative for my daughter.  She does not like to make mistakes, and therefore very often won’t try something new.  Reading has been one of the places I have seen this happen.  Because she just wants to know it, she will not take the time to sound out the words, even though she is very capable of doing so.  When starting down the path of teaching her to read, the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons  was my natural place to start. This worked so well for Builder, but not so much for Princess.

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Then one day, I happened upon Ready2Read by The Moffatt Girls.  It was perfect.  There were so many hands-on reading activities that Princess was very drawn to it simply because she got to “color or play”.  A year later, she is well on her way to reading small sight word books.

In Level 1 of the Ready2Read curriculum, one of the main activities is to build a word garden scene using the word families that she was learning.  This was such a highlight for her because she was able to create a beautiful garden scene, and I think the fact that she had control over where to place the pieces in her garden satisfied her creative side.

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#4 – Mystery Science

This one is a family favorite.  The lessons are very well done, very thorough, and always interest my kids.  I tend to be frugal when it comes to curriculum, activities, and lessons.  Mystery Science is one of those choices that I will pay for each year.  It makes my life so easy when it comes to science.

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Doug, leads you through a story/lesson portion and then has an experiment to go along with what is being taught.  The activity prep leads you through everything you need to do beforehand, during, and after the lesson.  It just made my life easier!

Toward the end of the year, Builder actually began to start the lesson videos on his own.  He knew that Doug would lead him through the lesson, tell him the materials he needed to gather, and then lead him through the experiments.  I would peek a day/couple days before to make sure we had on hand what was needed, and then Builder was able to work it himself.  I love the movement toward autonimous learning!

#5 – Chloe and the Nurb

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Princess wants to be a doctor.  She is so interested in how the body works from the inside to the outside, top to bottom (pun intended!).  One of the science lessons on the Easy Peasy curriculum, led us to a Chloe and the Nurb video.  She watched one and was hooked.  And can I tell you, we have all learned so much!  These videos are so fun and informative.  They can be found on YouTube and they are a part of KidsHealth.org.  I found the easiest way to find the videos was to go to YouTube and simply search for Chloe and the Nurb, (though they can be found on the KidsHealth.org link).

Princess will watch these videos over and over and over.  And then, over again.  You know what?  I am so good with that, because randomly throughout the day she will explain to me something that she has learned.  One of us will do something, and she will let us know how that worked, what our body did to make that happen.  So cool.

We will continue to watch these, over and over and over…and over.  You get the the point.

So there you have it.  My top 5, from this year, that I am so thankful we found.  I am excited to see what next year’s top 5 will be!

And You? ~ What are some of your top picks from this past school year?

 

 

Game Changer

woman-1172718_1920For me, this time of year is a time of reflection.  Reflecting on what changes need to be made in the areas of curriculum, school organization, schedule, etc.  However, once the reflection bug bites, it seems to lead me into reflecting in many areas of my life.

 

This week I am reminded of the many changes that have taken place in my life.  Changes that were never on my radar.  The beginning and end of this week are my kiddos birthdays.  This year it commemorates my 9th year of staying home with my children.

Wow.

If we set the “way back” machine to reminisce my early 20s to mid 30s, I really had no thoughts or intentions of staying home with, let alone homeschooling my children.  I was thirty-two years of age when I had my first child, and knew immediately that staying home was the only decision for our new little family.  For me, this was stepping into a completely unknown territory.  I was far from confident in my mothering capabilities, let alone entertaining the idea of spending every waking day, hour, and minute with my kids!

(insert panic)

Things settled into a routine and though it was (and still is) the most challenging role I have ever been in, things were ok.  Then almost two years later, my daughter was born.  I felt a tad more confident, but it was also a totally different ballgame.  Again, things settled into a rhythm.

And of course, as we approached Builder’s time to go to school, I knew in my spirit that we would be homeschooling.  And, though I really did want to homeschool with all my heart, fear reared its ugly head…again.  We pushed through and are now entering our 5th year of homeschooling.

My desire in writing this blog post is that wherever you are, whatever crossroads you find yourself at, know that there is everything in you that can do it.  You may struggle, you may have to learn something new, you may have to be vulnerable and find someone to walk the walk with you, but it is not out of your reach.

The hardest part is starting.

Do you want to write?  Start writing.  Do you want to homeschool?  Find someone in the game to talk with.  Do you want to (fill in the blank)?  Then find the first step toward that.     If it is not the right path, the Lord promises us that He will let us know.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  ~ Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

You don’t always have to have everything in place to start.  Find that one thing that you can do to start walking down that path.  Then, trust that you will hear His voice behind you letting you know if you are off His path for you.

All of this to say, we have a journey that is each unique and individual to ourselves.  I encourage you this summer to reflect on where you have come from, where you are presently, and your desires for the future.  Let’s all move forward as we reflect on the past and navigate our future.

Signing off with many blessings and prosperity to you and yours.

And You? ~ What has been a game changer in your life?

 

Filing Day

No, this is not a day to talk about filing taxes.  However, I may have a bit of filing leftover from the last few weeks of schoolwork.

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Yikes! (These papers go back to January!)

Yeah, I know.

There must come a time when we all recognize our weaknesses, right?!  I love to be organized, but I am not entirely disciplined to file at the end of each week.  I was doing really well at first, filing school papers in each child’s binder at the end of each day.

Yep, didn’t last too long.

Then I started getting piles of papers on my desk, not attractive and very distracting.  Wonders of wonders, I found this cute little green basket at the Dollar Store.  It became our “Turn In” basket.  That really was a good thing by helping Builder and Princess know where to place those finished products.  Unfortunately, the papers looked so neat and nice in that perfect little green basket that they haven’t quite made it into those perfect little school binders.

Sigh.

So, I find myself at the end of the school year shifting, organizing, and filing many many papers.  And you know what…that is completely ok with me.  Is it ideal to file every day or even once a week?  Sure.  Is it ok that I did not file weekly and now will make my way through this sea of papers and have a great binder of work for each one of them?  Yes.

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Again, as with many things homeschool, I find myself realizing…it’s ok.  Either, or.  This way or that.  It works; it gets done.  I don’t have to stress about either way.  I love that at the end of my kids school career, they will have a binder for each year of their learning.  They will have fun looking back at what they have learned, remembering fun projects, and seeing the milestones they reached along the way.

And of course, they will be taking all 12 binders with them!!!

And you? ~  What are some of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to school organization?

Finishing Up

Oh sweet heavens, tomorrow is our last “official” day of school!  

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(insert Hallelujah chorus!)

We will take a six-seven week break and start up again after July 4th.  Of course, you know in the homeschooling world summer “break” is not always as it seems.  Learning still happens.  A math lesson here, finish up a handwriting book there.  Learning never really ceases, whether it be book work, or life learning.  The nice thing is that it is not structured, and it gives a much needed break both to kids and to Mama!

A question I get this time of year is, “What does your summer look like?  Planning any trips?”  Do you know what…

I have not planned anything!

And that is what makes my heart happy!  I am not one to fill our summer with camps here and summer classes there.  I am ok with my kids getting bored and having to find ways to entertain themselves.  And for that matter, how to get along with each other when they are bored out of their minds.  So much creativity comes from boredom.  So, I guess you could say my summer plans are to instigate boredom.  (We may go bowling, take some walks, maybe a fun cooking class at our local chocolate store…yum…but overall, not a whole lot planned.)

However, on the schooling front, I do have some goals in mind that I would like to accomplish.

Goal #1 – clean out the school cubbies

This, unfortunately, has become our place to “stuff” school items.

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With my son moving into fourth grade and my daughter moving in to second grade, there are many things stored in these cubbies that we simply don’t need anymore.  And, since space for school organization is at a premium here at our homestead, some things need to go.  Not to mention dusting, eek.  I won’t tell you how long it has been since I’ve done that!

Goal #2 – curriculum

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Yes, that.  We don’t use an all-inclusive curriculum.  I like to piece together this and that to fit each kid’s personality and learning style.  With that, I have a few items I want to reevaluate.  With Builder moving into fourth grade, a couple more subjects are going to be added to the mix, so I want to take a look at his schedule and how to fit it all in.  I am not a fan of doing everything everyday.  Our schedule is a little more block schedule-esque.

Goal #3 – the house

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As seen in a former post, Spinning Plates, I am not strong in keeping multiple aspects of life going at once.  Yes, I am a woman, but multi-tasking is not a strength of mine.  In light of that, when school is going, the house suffers.  Yes, my kids help, but they are still learning.  So much still rests on me, or me informing the kids of what needs to be done.  This takes mental, physical, and in some cases emotional energy, which during the school year just isn’t there many times.  So I am hoping much will be accomplished on the inside, and around the outside of the house.

Goal #4 – scrapbooking

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This is a personal goal.  With Builder and Princess getting a little older, I am finding a little more “me time” here and there.  I used to scrapbook before having the kids, and this is something I want to get back to doing.  I have a feeling the kids will get into it as well and can learn how to collect and keep their own treasured memories.

And there you have it.

My plans and hopes for this summer.  I know full well, it will be over before I know it and that is just fine.  I am blessed and joyful that we get to spend our time together learning and growing as a family, in season and out.

And You? ~ What are some of your summer goals?

Sabbath Rest

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the hardest things for us to get down was timing.  There are so many possibilities of what schedule to follow for homeschooling (if any).  I cannot tell you how many different options we tried.  Yes, we worked to find our rhythm for the day-to-day learning times.  However, I’m talking the bigger picture here.  Do we follow the public school calendar?  Do we school year round?  Do we do a six week on two week off schedule?

So. Many. Options.

This is our fourth “official” year homeschooling.  We started out by trying no schedule.  Yeah, quickly learned that did not work for me.  If I have no schedule, I will do nothing.  My kiddos turned out to be very much the same.  So, we moved onto trying a six week on, two week off schedule.  The two weeks felt to be too long of a break.  Builder and Princess quickly got out of the “habit” of school.

This year I really liked the idea of a six week chunk of learning time.  So, I kept that portion and decided to try only one week off.  It seemed like a nice amount of time to have a break from scheduled school time activities, but not too long as to get us all out of timing.  This is when I realized something so cool.

This is a sabbath cycle!

Six weeks on, the seventh week is a rest time.  No wonder it made so much sense to our minds, bodies, and spirits!  I have to tell you, this schedule is such a blessing.  We are only in the second round of this cycle, but I can already feel we have hit the rhythm that works for us.

I wanted to share this with you because it is fun to celebrate those times when something clicks.  As a homeschool community, it is so important to walk with others in their rough times and rejoice in the aha times.  Those times when something just works!

If you are still in the boat of not having a timing that works, keep chugging along.  Keep trying this and that, you will find it.  Most likely, you will simply stumble upon it like our family did.  None of this was out of my own wisdom or knowledge.  We kept trying and finally came across that which worked.

I have a sneaking suspicion that things will change as the kiddos grow older and work loads increase, subjects are added, etc.  However, this has given me a basic encouragement that when you just keep at it, it will come.  The Father of us all, will not leave us stranded.  We grow stronger, as we walk longer.  Love to all.

Your Turn to Say ~ What has been your struggle or victory in timing?

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