2012-2013 Home School Year

Last fall, I was wistfully beginning our last non-school year. This year, it’s time for Kindergarten. This will be an interesting school year for Ladybug. We will be home schooling August through December for half the day and she will attend a local kindergarten for the other half of the day. In December we will arrive in the States for a six month stay, so she will attend the public school where I used to teach second grade to finish out her Kindergarten career. (Whew! Transition much?)

I have had some questions from friends about what curriculum/materials we will be using, so I wanted to share what we will be trying out this fall. (It will also be nice for me to be able to look back in future years for planning/reminiscing purposes!) Since Ladybug will also attend a local school, we will only be focusing on Reading and Math this year for home school. Even though I am certified to teach K-6, I have had frequent moments of feeling so overwhelmed about home school– can I really do this? Am I going to royally screw up my kids? Where do I even begin?

The beginning of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition) has really helped me with these questions, and has even inspired me for home schooling. It has been encouraging to be reminded that I am the best teacher for my children, and I can afford them opportunities through home schooling that public school could never give. The rest of my choices for curriculum come highly recommended from multiple sources. If you are looking for a curriculum for your home school, I think the best research is talking to moms who are similar to you. Ask a ton of questions, ask to browse their bookshelves so you can see teacher guides and workbooks up close, and pray– the Lord will guide and direct even your home school decisions if you seek Him!

For a few weeks now, Ladybug and I have been steadily working through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It is so easy! Everything is spelled out for me, and all the “materials” are right there inside the book. Ladybug has been so excited to start reading, and she is doing a great job! The lessons are the perfect length to hold her attention, on a good day, we can get through two lessons without a problem. (Ladybug knows all her letter sounds from watching LeapFrog: Letter Factory! I highly recommend it! They love the catchy songs, and even my three-year old knows all his letters after only watching it a handful of times.)

Once Ladybug had gone over a few letter sounds in 100 Lessons, I started giving her Bob Books to read for “homework” to her dad (or her grandparents or aunts on Skype!) They are simple little beginning readers, and it’s fun for her to be able to read a whole book! I think it encourages her that she is reading!

(The above listed home school stuff is the stuff I have actually tried/used some already, the rest is what is in my house waiting for August 25… or whatever day we decide to start our 2012-2013 school year!)

Right Start Math

Handwriting Without Tears (Letters and Numbers for Me)

Five in a Row (Volume 1)

Heroes for Young Readers

I also have some assorted things for creating some Math and Literacy centers: alphabet stamps, letter tiles, pattern blocks, games/activities inspired by my Homeschool Pinterest Board. I plan to create centers that Stinkbug can participate in as well, though I haven’t figured out how centers will work at home– I did center-time everyday when I taught, but rotating 2 kids through centers will be different from rotating 20 kids! If you have done something like centers for your elementary kids at home, I’d love to hear about it!

What kind of school year are you gearing up for? Do you home school? Do you do a combination of types of school like us?


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Things to be thankful for

Originally taken from Ann Landers’ 11/22/01 column. Re-published at Revive Our Hearts.


  • Be thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means you have enough to eat.
  • Be thankful for the mess you clean up after a party, because it means you have been surrounded by friends.
  • Be thankful for the taxes you pay, because it means you’re employed.
  • Be thankful that your lawn needs mowing and your windows need fixing, because it means you have a home.
  • Be thankful for your heating bill, because it means you are warm.
  • Be thankful for the laundry, because it means you have clothes to wear.
  • Be thankful for the space you find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means you can walk.
  • Be thankful for the lady who sings off-key behind you in church, because it means you can hear.
  • Be thankful when people complain about the government, because it means we have freedom of speech.
  • Be thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means you’re alive.


DIY: Homemade Baby Food

When Ladybug was beginning to eat solids, I somehow decided I was going to make her baby food (maybe I was inspired by a mommy blogger out there somewhere? I can’t remember exactly!) I made Ladybug’s baby food, and once I realized how easy and cheap it was, I never looked back! I made Stinkbug’s food, and now I’m making baby food again for little Doodlebug.

My favorite resource for baby-food-making is Wholesome Baby Food. There is a wealth of information and tons of great recipes for making your baby’s food. (When I looked over there this week, I’ve noticed they’ve added a ton of new stuff since the first time I made homemade baby food in 2007!)

Basic Tips to Making Baby Food:

  • Some fruits and veggies don’t need to be cooked to be made into baby food– like banana and avocado.
  • You can bake, boil, or steam fruits and veggies before pureeing. (The Wholesome Baby Food website gives tips for preparing each fruit and veggie.)
  • A food processor or a blender will work to make your purees.
  • Freeze the baby food in ice-cube trays. After frozen, transfer to a labeled Ziploc bag in the freezer. (Each cube is about one ounce of baby food.)
  • If your baby doesn’t seem to like a food when you first introduce it, don’t stop trying!
  • When baby starts eating solid food, you can also try giving her a sippy cup to figure out. (It will probably take a while to get the hang of it!)
  • Once baby is a crawler (7-11 months), you can introduce finger foods. Cooked peas, banana chunks, avocado pieces, etc. At first baby may get really frustrated as he learns to use the pincer grasp to pick up these things, but he will get it with time and practice!
  • Keep some wipes or a wet rag handy to clean up the mess– and there will be plenty of mess!
  • Have fun! Enjoy introducing your baby to a wide range of foods, spices and flavors!

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Easter Eggs & Other Traditions

I shared last week that our family would be doing Noel Piper’s Lenten Lights devotional during Holy Week. Our kids are loving it! I send them to their room each night while I light the appropriate number of candles and turn off all the other lights in the living room. Then I call them out and we look at the candles (how some are dark and some are lit) and read the devotional.

We are going to have an Easter egg hunt on Saturday with some friends, and I’ve been thinking about how I wanted to introduce the idea to the kids. I plan to have some plastic eggs filled with candy, some filled with change, and some that are empty. After they find all the eggs and we discover what’s inside, I will share verses about related to what was inside the eggs.

  • For the eggs with candy: For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
  • For the eggs with change: …Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3)
  • For the empty eggs: He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. (Matthew 28:6)

I have come across some other good ideas for celebrating the Resurrection with children, and wanted to pass them along!

Make Your Own Resurrection Eggs {@ teachkidsthebible.com}

Easter Story Cookies Recipe {@ Annie’s Home Page}

Resurrection Rolls {@ caffeine and a prayer}

6 Good Things to Do with Your Kids for Easter {@lifeasmom}

Resurrection Day Activities {@ heartofthematteronline}


Holy Week with Kids

As a family, we do a Jesse Tree for Advent, and I’ve wanted to develop some traditions for our children around Resurrection Sunday. I like doing “spring baskets” full of goodies, coloring eggs, and hunting for hidden eggs, but I don’t want these to be the extent of our celebrations this time of year. (And I like to do those things on a different day than Resurrection Sunday… last year we did all of the “secular” traditions the Saturday before Easter.)

Noel Piper has written a devotional called Lenten Lights, that we are going to use this week during our family devotions. I found a seven-candle-holder at IKEA this week, and it’s perfect for using with Lenten Lights!

Tonight we will begin with seven candles lit, and read the first devotional. At the end of the reading, one of the candles will be snuffed out to symbolize the Light of the World growing dimmer. Each night one more candle will be extinguished until all the candles are dark on Good Friday– when the Light of the World was “snuffed out”. The candles will all be relit on Resurrection Sunday when the Light was back! What a great visual for children as we learn about Christ’s death and resurrection!

What do you do this time of year to teach your children about Easter?

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Indoor Exercise for Preschoolers

When it’s cold and rainy, or gray and dreary, it’s hard to get little ones outside to jump, run and climb like they need to. I’ve found that during rainy weeks, and winter months, it’s pretty easy to get some preschool exercise time indoors to help expel built up energy!

There are myriads of games and activities you can create inside to get your toddlers up and moving. But if you’re lacking energy yourself, there is a pretty simple way to lead your preschooler in some exercise time without having to do much planning or preparation:

Cue YouTube!

After lunch, and before nap on yucky days, I set up the laptop in the living room and announce that it’s “Exercise Time”! That brings my kids running! We have discovered a few YouTube favorites that my kids love to sing and dance with!

My House Preschool Exercise by LotstoLearn

Show Me How You Shake by kidconcoct

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes by Jangiankotla

Five Little Ducks by upaglossy

So, next time you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, try some YouTube exercise fun!

**I can attest that the above videos are appropriate for children, however, not everything on YouTube is appropriate for children. Please check all videos yourself before showing them to your children.**


DIY: Tag Blanket

Each of my kids have a special “lovey”.  The thing they sleep with, take most everywhere, and calm down with.  It was especially helpful to have a lovey when we spent eight weeks in training for our current job and Ladybug and Stinkbug went to the nursery everyday.  They did much better without mommy around when they had their special thing with them!

Doodlebug has a soft little bear and a funny stuffed monkey and I thought one of them might become his special lovey.  Lately though, I’ve watched him grasp burp cloths and blankets draped on his lap and bring them to his face.  It seems he’s a blankie guy!

I looked around online and decided I could undertake the project of making him a little blankie with taggie ribbons– maybe this will become his extra special lovey!

Note: I do not have a sewing machine, so all the sewing was done by hand, and I completed the project in about an hour and a half.  Trust me, if I could make this, almost any human being could– I’m not a great seamstress!

I had a soft, flannel receiving blanket at my house– one of those really thin ones.  (I have had this particular blanket since Ladybug was born and decided to use it since I love the dot pattern and wouldn’t have to buy new material!)

I purchased a few feet of satin ribbon in varying colors and widths to make the tags.  In all, I spent about two dollars on ribbon.  I did not add as many ribbon tags as my tutorial suggested, I like how mine turned out though!

I followed the directions I found at Chica and Jo.  (I appreciated the pictures they included!)

And I did it!  I wanted to dance like Dora when I was done– I did it!  I did it!  I did it! Yea! It feels really good to make something by hand!  And it was pretty stress-relieving to sit and sew while the kids played one evening.