Growing Every Day

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The Last Day of School!

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Yep, we made it!

Today is the last day of school.  Needless to say, I wanted to make it fun and memorable, special.  What did we do?  Took Daddy to work, and spent all morning at an eye appointment to get new glasses since my old ones were broken.

Hmmm.

I was tempted to get upset, to throw my hands up in the air and wonder to the heavens why my plans never work.  (Yes, a.k.a an adult tantrum).  However, we chose to just go with it and spend some time with a nice treat at Panera, and plan to just play the day away.  Maybe a special extra screen time here, a batch of peanut butter cookies there.  This creature called homeschool has a mind of its own sometimes.  Sometimes we need to tame it, and sometimes we need to just let it be.  Today, I am going with let it be.

When you get down to it, what is the “last day of school” for us?

It means next week we do absolutely nothing.  This is probably more for me than Princess and Builder.  No planning, no time management of lessons, nothing.  After that, we start working on finishing up those books and units that need to be wrapped up.  Two pages of handwriting this day, one math lesson that day, 20 minutes of keyboarding the next day, etc.  A slow easy pace, that continues progress, but takes nothing out of any of us.

The Last Day of School…thank you Lord.  This is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and BE GLAD IN IT!!!!!

Your Turn to Play ~  Are there any special activities you do for the last day of school?

Emotions vs Truth

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Photo Credit:  Kevin McCroskey

There are so many emotions associated with homeschooling.  From delight, love, companionship, success, reward, laughter, joy, and celebration to dread, fear, frustration, anger, defeat, incompetence, disappointment, and so on.  This journey is one heck of an emotional roller coaster.

So, in all honesty, why do we do it?  This question is a doozy.  I have never actually been asked this question of anyone but myself.  What have I done?  Why am I doing this?  I know we have so many wonderful days, and yet the really difficult, hard days are what seem to take over my emotions.   Fear is a major player in this battle of emotions.  Am I doing it right?  Am I doing enough?  Are they doing enough?  Am I cheating them of something better?  This is a nasty war zone.

Point blank, I do this because God has called us to do this.  I am well aware this is not everyone’s path, nor does it have to be.  He made it very clear (once I would listen), that this was His path for us.  It was not a path of my devising.  Honestly, it was nowhere on my radar, for that matter, being a stay-at-home mom was nowhere on my radar.  Yet, I would not change it for the world.

Why do I bring this up?  Partially, I bring it up because I am in a place of need to remind myself why we are doing what we are doing.  Once shared with others, it seems easier to stand my ground.  It is our testimony, one of our weapons of warfare.  The enemy will inevitably try to deter our way.  Through faith in why we are here, by the word of our testimony, and the Truth of God, we can stand strong.

When it comes down to it, Truth trumps emotion.  I can stand on Truth, emotions will cause me to sink.  Emotions are wonderful, and God given, but they were never meant to be our standard of truth.  They were never meant to lead the way.  Truth is our Solid Rock on which we stand.

Your Turn to Play ~ How do you handle the emotional roller coaster of homeschooling?

Music Time

I always knew music would become a component of our learning journey.  My husband and I were in band all through middle school, high school, and college, continuing after.  Music is simply a part of who and what we are as individuals and a family.  The same has shown in Builder and Princess.  They go around singing to themselves, to each other, and to us.  Truly, there are days that I feel I live in a musical…and I LOVE IT!

With that, I wasn’t exactly sure when and where to start.  Well, just recently I stumbled upon an amazing resource that I want to share with you.  It is another web resource that has a portion free, and another portion that is available by purchasing a paid premium account.  However, there is enough of the free material to get us well on our way.  It will also give us that period to see if this is truly the best fit for us.  At the moment, we are in love with it.  Granted we honestly have only completed one lesson, but that is all it has taken for all of us to be excited.

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The resource is Hoffman Academy, online piano lessons.  The website is very nice, neat, and easy to maneuver.  I have been impressed with the resources sent my way upon creating our free account.  The lessons are in video style and Mr. Hoffman (the teacher) seems to be a wonderful instructor.  The introductory material on the website refer to him as the Mr. Rogers of piano lessons.  From what I saw in the first video, I can see that.  After the first lesson video, Builder and Princess, were playing their first song – Hot Cross Buns.  In a 13-minute video, not only did he teach them how to play the song, but he introduced where the song originated from, as well as the beginnings of the do-re-mi scale.  So much rich learning introduced in such a way that my kids got it without a hint of effort, and they never lost focus.

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The Hoffman Academy recommends 2-3 lessons a week with daily practice.  With this schedule in mind, there should be about 24 months of lessons in the nine units available.  As I said, we are not very far into this course, but we are super excited about it.  I didn’t want to wait any longer before sharing this resource with you.  I highly recommend you take a look into it, and give it a try.  If you do, be sure to let me know how it works for you and your family.

Your Turn to Play ~ What role did music play in your life growing up?

Water of Life

Each morning (or most mornings), we start our learning with Bible Time.  I didn’t want this time to become stagnant by doing the same thing every day.  It would be easy to come together, read a chapter of the Bible, discuss, and move on.  Though we do this some days, I wanted this time to include a variety of activities that lead Builder and Princess into knowing God’s heart.  I don’t want them to only know facts about Jesus; I also want them to know His heart.

Many mornings we do read a chapter, find the places on the map, discuss what it would be like in life now.  Builder loves to look at maps and find all the places mentioned in our reading.  Princess loves to play while she listens, and truly she can tell me about what we discussed.  So, I am good with that.

Recently, my desire is that Builder and Princess know the heart of Father globally…for all people.  We have been discussing the issue of access to clean water.  We talked about going out to the puddles on the driveway to get a drink of water when they are thirsty.  Neither kid thought that was a good idea.  Then we talked about the 663 million people on the earth who don’t get to drink the clean water that we have flowing out of our sinks, water bottles, or refrigerator.

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As stated by water.org

We have discussed how clean water is a vital part of being healthy.  Discussions have taken place regarding the fact that many boys and girls have to spend most of their day traveling to and from water sources such as rivers, lakes, and ponds, to gather water for their families.  Because of this, many children are not able to attend school.  When a family, village, or town is provided with access to clean water, children no longer have to perform this duty and are more likely to be able to attend school.  Or they are at least one step closer.  Now, whether those schools have access to clean water is another part of the story.

With all of these details in mind, we have started a fundraiser.  The kids have a bowl in which they are saving money here and there.  We will be saving for this “Water of Life” project until November 1st.

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We humbly ask and invite you to participate with us in our campaign.  Our goal is $300.  After the fundraiser is complete, the company through which we are donating, charity:water, will let us know what country we have helped.  Perfect geography lesson!  charity:water is an organization supported by sponsors so that 100% of donated money goes to providing water for those in need.  If you want to check out more about this organization, click here.

To meet and/or exceed our goal we need only 30 people to give $10, or 60 people to give $5.  Any amount is appreciated in this quest.  Builder and Princess are well on their way, having saved $7 in their money bowl.  Clicking the button below will take you to our campaign page, where you can donate.  Thanks for helping Builder and Princess see the love of Jesus spread throughout the world, by taking care of those who have need of clean water.

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School Starts

We as humans never stop learning, however, with that said, we do take a break in our formal training in knowledge.  Yep, we have come to the close of our six weeks off during the summer.

We are currently in the third week of our 2016-2017 school year.  Princess is now in Kindergarten and Builder is in 2nd grade.  Though grades get a little in the gray area when speaking of learning, knowledge, skills in the homeschool arena.  I like to have them in “grades” according to how many years we have been “officially doing school”, or where they would be roughly according to age in public school.  It just seems to help them answer those inevitable questions from friends, acquaintances, relatives…”What grade are you in?”  I have also found that it has helped Builder feel a sense of accomplishment to achieve a new “grade”.

The primary reason for this post is to share with you, and record as memory for myself, our first day of school this year.  Last year was actually our second year to do a first day of school celebration and I saw it solidify some and morph a little this year.

Here’s how it went:

Donuts

Yep, those wonderfully scrumptious (low cost) goodies.  My kids love to go to the donut shop.  This year, my hubby took the day off to join in our first day celebration and I hope that will be a new tradition for the long haul.Photo Jul 11, 9 58 46 AM

 

School Supplies

These two must truly be my kids because I think they could have shopped for supplies for hours.  They LOVE new school/organizational supplies as much as I do!  We controlled ourselves and bought only that which was essential to start the year.  That way we can come back after public school starts and grab some other items at the really great bargains.

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They each get to choose a special binder for the year.

School Year Shirt

For the past two years, the kids have been able to pick one “special school shirt” for the new school year.  This is the shirt they take a picture in at the beginning of the school year.

Lunch and All About Me

After our treasure hunt for supplies and a shirt, the next stop was home for a break and some lunch.  After lunch, I had the kids fill out an All About Me sheet that I found over at Yellow Bliss Road.  Then Daddy took their beginning of the year school pics.All-About-Me-Free-Printables

Playground and Sno-Cones

After pics, we talked about what special thing we wanted to go and do.  The kids had been dying to go to one of their favorite playgrounds, which we hadn’t had a chance to visit for a long while.  So the rest of the afternoon was spent at one of their favorite playgrounds and then a trip for sno-cones afterward.

Success

It was a great day.  Our goal this year was to celebrate our new beginning to the year, but we also had a very real need to keep it a low cost day.  Though the clothing part got a little more expensive than I had wanted (something to take note and remedy next year).  Overall, a very fun-filled celebration of our first day of school.  Looking forward to the next ten or eleven of them!

Focus Forward

Over the holidays, I decided to take a short hiatus from blogging on The Learning Leaf.  Once the Christmas season started it did not stop!  It is finally slowing down and becoming life as usual –

or as close as you can get.

faith ornament_christmas tree copyDuring this season, the posts stopped as did “formal” instruction of Mason and Madison.  Life went too fast to plan, create, and implement like I had been.  After wrestling with guilt over “not instructing” my son, I heard that lovely still small voice of my Lord, “It’s ok.  Mason is only four!”  It was a gentle reminder that all is well.  Yes, Mason loves to learn and he thoroughly enjoys the activities that are crafted.  However, he is four and is still very much learning through play, our outings, and every day life.

With this hiatus, I saw and began to have a clearer focus that we will be doing more formal “schooling” when Mason turns 5.  This also gave me clarity to see my focus between now and then is to tweak my life scheduling and organization where my house, business (The Crafting Tree), and book writing are concerned.  Time will look very different and have different demands within 6 months or so.  Between now and then, I get to gain the upper hand in letting the Lord show me His time management strategies for me.

This is exciting.  A focus, which results in forward movement.  I’m sure I will continue to have some fun, creative, learning activities for both Mason and Madison.  As I am sure I will be creating some of my own to share as well.  This new focus, however, will change the flavor of the posts for the next few months –

How exciting to watch and see!

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