Finding Joy In The Little Blessings

Make Your Own Joy Jar

There are so many times in our homeschool days that we get so caught up in…..stuff.  Stuff can often overtake us mommas!  We are often busy from the time that we wake up until we fall into bed, too exhausted to sleep.  We can’t sleep because we often have so many thoughts going through our head.  Well, in the midst of a frazzled Mommy day, my husband and I were working on a printable book and this activity came to me.

Between the lessons, discipling my children, guiding them, training them and shuffling them to activities, some days the little things get lost.  The week ends and we start again.  I wanted to find a way to teach my kids (and remember myself) all the small little blessings that we encounter each and everyday.

To help remember the little blessings, we made a JOY Jar.  It’s a simple project that allows for as much creativity as one can muster.  It is also a great project to get little ones involved too, especially if you use a can.  They can put stickers or whatever you like on it.  For me, I admit I am NOT the most crafty person in the world.  That is a skill my mother did not pass on to me and grandma wasn’t in town :).

Here is how you do it:

1.  Take a can, any can.  Wash it first! 🙂

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2. Cut out a piece of construction paper or fabric to cover the can.  My husband has also used card stock.  You can use almost anything in your imagination to cover the can.

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3.  Decorate the construction paper how you like.  Make sure to place the word JOY on there somewhere, then you can know exactly what the can is for.

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4.  Take paper strips and write blessings for each person in your family each day. At the end of the week take time to go back through them and read them aloud and thank God for your blessings.  Reading them aloud can be something shared as a family too by taking turns:).

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If you want to use an actual jar instead of a can let me share some pictures of how to do that too.

1.  Take your jar and cut a square of fabric bigger then the opening so that it hangs down. You can make a decorative edge if you want.  Then cut a circle the size of the jar opening in the middle of the fabric.

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2.  Screw the ring of the jar on, don’t use a lid:)

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3.  Adjust the fabric so that it is pretty even and there you go! Very simple:) Then place your strips in each day like you would the can.

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I hope this activity blesses you and your family.  If you make one I would love to hear from you!

In Christ,

Laura

Laura PraterLaura is an Army wife to a Soldier who has served the last 18.5 years active duty. They reside in WA for the time being with their 3 boys. Laura home schools all 3. They are very active in their church and community. You can find Laura blogging atwww.raisingsoldiers4christ.com on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Raising-Soldiers-4-Christ/320756691285805, on Pinterest atwww.pinterest.com/RS4Christ and on Twitter atwww.twitter.com./RS4Christ.

Moments of Grace: Parenting the Homeschooled Child

 

Moments of Grace:  Parenting the Homeschooled Child

Homeschooling does not come naturally to me. In fact, I think of myself as the Reluctant Homeschooler. I had vision of my life as a mom, and this WAS NOT IT. I was going to drop my two children off at the local public school, take a jog down Hinson and have lunch with my friends at Trios after having spent an hour or two volunteering somewhere. But God had a different plan for me. And I sometimes wonder if He is chuckling a bit at my ridiculous ideas!

Homeschooling is SO HARD. “Normal” people spend a HUGE amount of time without their children every day. And while spending every waking moment with my children….and sometimes my sleeping moments as well since the two year old will NOT stay out of our bed…. IS a great thing (really, I DO mean this. I LOVE that I get the best part of my children’s day) there are things we deal with in an almost nonstop way that others only see glimmers of in the afternoon/evenings & weekends.

Like this morning, as my four year old was crying (for the tenth time) that her big sisters had wronged her in some horrible way while they were playing Barbies. I called all three in and discovered that the 6 yo had stolen back a Barbie that the 4 yo had stolen originally. I looked at my six year old (who is closer to seven than six) and told her that this was a great opportunity to show grace to her sister. Yes, Ryen did NOT deserve to have the doll because she was wrong when she stole it in the first place but we can show her love by letting her have it. We can show love by giving her what she clearly does not deserve. She looked at me with a mix of exasperation and skepticism.

I sighed. “It sucks, doesn’t it?”

She looked a little surprised.

“Showing grace to someone who doesn’t deserve it sucks, doesn’t it? It is hard. It hurts and everything in us wants to scream NO! But we do it because we love.”

She nodded.

“Do you think it was easy for Jesus to go to the cross? To show grace to us? To BE grace for us?”

“Nooooooo.” Quiet, head shaking.

“And it hurt. It hurt really bad. Not just where they put the nails but it hurt His heart because we were so bad and so undeserving. He even asked God to not make Him do it. But in the end, He DID IT. He did it because He IS love. And when we love others, we show them grace because we love and because Jesus is IN us. And He IS LOVE.”

Those thoughts just set on us all for a moment. My eight year old looked up at Ryen and said “Ryen, I am sorry I have been so mean to you all morning. Do you forgive me?”

The six year old gave her the much fought over doll (which the two year old promptly stole – but that is a whole other issue). The four year old dried her tears and hugged her sisters and off they went to play ….

This is a moment I would NOT have had if my older girls had been at school. The four year old would have had the Barbies to herself all day. The big girls would have had friends and connection elsewhere, making a rift with their little sister not seem so important. God had another plan, and it is a good one. I am so grateful that He ALWAYS shows us grace, even when we think we know better. This is a whole lot better than a jog and lunch with my friends!

 

Natasha JonesNatasha is a homeschooling mom of 6 awesome kids and has been married to Keith for 11 years. She blogs at Keeping Up with the Joneses.

Time Management: Unpack the Schedule

timemanagmentFor me, it’s much easier to give help than to receive it.  You too? I don’t want to be a bother. It’s fine. I can make do. My intention and perhaps yours too, is to give my best efforts to my family. Consequently, I expel a massive amount of energy to show my love.  In the end, I am empty. My head buzzes as if I revved the engine all day but never left the parking spot.

Other times, the problem is overzealous multitasking. I’m not talking about making toast while unloading the dishwasher. I mean teaching school, while cleaning the whole kitchen, chasing a toddler, while planning the next event for church!  Biting off way more than can be chewed. It’s inevitable at times. But sometimes it’s self-inflicted. Either way we are left short fused, usually at the expense of our families.

Refusing help and overzealous multitasking at unhealthy levels can be echoes of PRIDE. In these moments we are leaving God and His infinite wisdom out of the equation.

When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

As mothers, we do not have anything to prove to the world. Yet, we have endless wisdom to seek. Let’s slow down for a sec, take a deep breath and ask.

Tips to Unpack: the Schedule

  1. Ask for help: Our needs are not obvious to others. Communicate needs respectfully.
  2. Know your limits: Spend time praying about priorities. Being capable of completing the task is invalid when one is overextended. Jack of all trades = master of none.
  3. Setting boundaries: Find the line and do not cross it. Distinguishing between what is imperative and what is a distraction is crucial.

We can do all things…through Jesus Christ WHO gives us strength! Philippians 4:13

Momma, you were not designed with superpowers. You were created by a Supernatural God who wants to lavish His all into you.

Be still and know He is God. Psalms 46:10

Sometimes the best thing we can do is just “be.”  We always want to do for God, as in action.  Serving, but not sitting still.  We teach our children there are two kinds of verbs; action and being. Essentially, being with God is an action. We tend to minimize it because we are unable see the instant results we are looking for. When we are being still, He is working deep inside where it can’t yet be seen. In faith those little unseen seeds will produce great fruit.

Which are you more likely to struggle with?  Refusing help or overzealous multitasking? How will you implement practical changes to bring peace into your home?

 

Before we go. I wanted to share with you a new tool I will be using to teach my girls about the Bible. Its called Grape Vine Studies – stick figures through the bible! Read, discuss, draw, and memorize scripture. It can be used as a discipleship enrichment or as a homeschool curriculum.

They offer many free lessons too!

We are going to start with Esther – my girls ask questions about her, I’m looking forward to diving in on a level they will understand!

This is an affiliate link – Thank you for supporting our family!

 

 

Michelle Pohl - BloomingwithJoy.comMichelle is a storyteller who encourages her readers to begin Blooming with Joythrough every chaotic moment, disappointment, and mess. Her readers keep her motivated to be real with life and laugh at her mistakes. Michelle is reformed coffee addict turned devoted tea drinker. She lives in Missouri, USA with her husband and homeschools her three daughters. Shas experienced God’s peace while enduring life’s many messes; childhood abuse, motherhood, miscarriage, and homeschooling. All the while, allowing God to trade her ashes for beauty. She has learned we can begin Blooming With Joy through every obstacle when our Hope is in Jesus!  You can visit her on her blog, Blooming With Joy, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

 

46 Cent Lessons – Writing and Sending Letters

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Todays culture is full of cell phones, email, and having everything we want available at our fingertips.  Yet some very important things are being lost.  Patience seems to be one of them, as we can now get any and every bit of information we please with the touch of a screen.  A screen most of us carry in our pockets or purses!  One thing I think we can all agree on is that the art of letter writing is growing smaller and smaller each year.  Lets face it, even Christmas Cards sadly seem to be a thing of yesterday.  Most of our kids don’t even know what a pen pal is.  And those fun chain letters?  Let’s just say that the one we received and sent out was a sad disappointment….it takes more than one or two people on the chain to make the things work!  Now text messages….I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say that most of our two year olds know what those are!

With that being said, let me introduce the 46 cent lesson…..

Writing and Sending Letters

This is something that has wonderfully blossomed back to life in our home and is so easy to incorporate into the schoolroom!  My Grandma and I have always exchanged letters, some years more than others.  Trials of health and loss have revived this tradition in our family and spread it through all generations.  Letter writing and card sending have become a joy!  And yes, an easy classroom supplement as well!

The Educational Benefits of Letter Writing:

  • Hands on Lesson for Pre-K and Kindergarten about the Postal Service and how it works!  Let your wee ones draw pictures for someone, then demonstrate how we address the envelope, let them seal it and put on the stamp!  Use this as a time to draw a ‘map’ of where our letters go from our own mailboxes to the recipients-including the post offices and mail trucks/airplanes in between!
  • 2nd and 3rd grade elementary English usually includes letter writing as a skill, along with properly addressing envelopes.  Use this lesson to allow your children to follow through with and send their letters.  I know my kids do better with this lesson when it’s their idea who they write and they actually know their work will end up with that person!
  • Hand writing letters is a great motivational way to throw in some extra handwriting practice for any elementary age.
  • Every age and generation can always use a refresher on being thoughtful and how simple words and gestures can be a gift to others.

 

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Beyond the personal letter and card, there are so many more things that can be mailed!  Need some inspiration?

  • Local leaves and/or Flowers-press between two sheets of wax paper and you can send a piece of your home
  • The week’s best worksheet!  Family and friends who aren’t around our children daily love to see their progress for themselves!
  • Pictures- Print a few off of your phone or computer and include fun or descriptive quotes on the back
  • Questionnaire for the recipient – This could be a way to get to know someone better, a lengthier form of research for a school project, or a lesson in family history where I guarantee the answers received will become a keepsake!
  • Fill in the blank story – What a fun and creative way to get your emergent writers imaginations cranked!  Have them begin a silly or interesting story and leave certain words blank.  They can even include the proper word type to use underneath (noun, verb, adjective, ect.). Can you say awesome English lesson supplement?
  • Movie ticket stubs, food receipts, or other small items that would be a hands on way to share with the recipients what it is you’ve done that week.
  • That week’s Bible or Sunday School lesson, including any crafts or worksheets-what a great way for our children to hands on share the gospel with others!
  • Copy your hands then add a personal message!

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The possibilities are endless!  So are the recipients!  Here are a few ideas to get you started

  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and Uncles
  • Cousins
  • Missionaries your church helps support
  • Other homeschooled families (network through online support groups-use your Mommy judgment on this one)
  • A sponsored child
  • Active military, veterans, wounded warriors-visit this site for more information
  • The children of your family or childhood friends

This easy, possibility filled lesson is worth far more than a handful of change.  Introduce your children to the gift of sending and receiving mail.  Something taken so much for granted is a gift we can revive in their generation as well as our own!  Have fun and write with your kids!  I know I enjoy it as much as they do.  So do the ones we love and send letters to.  It’s kind of become a new family tradition for us and our far away family!  I hope it can become the same for you!

Jennifer Whitten FamilyJennifer is a first year homeschooling Mom of 3 elementary aged kids and step mom to one middle school girl.  She was born and raised in Wyoming but now enjoys country living in Louisiana with her husband and kids.  She is a lover of Jesus, family, gardening, canning, all things creative, and hog hunting with her husband.  Tea enthusiast and crochet addict, she can be found blogging about all things family, devotional, health, and homeschool at Stop, Pray, Listen.  A volunteer peer counselor at a Pro-Life Crises Pregnancy Center, her other passion is sharing the gospel with women in need.  Far from perfect, but in love with this grace filled life with kids, Jennifer makes it her mission to Stop, Pray, Listen, and Obey.

Rethinking Our School Year – Thoughts From a Mom of Many

I am working on changing our schooling.  Part of me is like, “YAY!!”. Part is like, “ARE YOU CRAZY?!”
My youngest six children, do not have the pencil to paper control that my older children had at their ages. Nor do they have the ability to grab and run as fast as the older kids. They are all adopted and have had rough beginnings. This is my reasoning for switching gears.

I am excited and terrified in the same thoughts.

I have depended on a FABULOUS curriculum for 13yrs. It has never lacked as far as standardized testing measurements.

I am tossing Sonlight around, but it is so against my personality. It has the best lesson plans that I have seen.   My Father’s World looks awesome, too! I have been using their 2/3 programs for the last 2 years. It just doesn’t have enough structure for me in the Elementary years.

The more I think about these ideas, the more I think, “Let me just use what we have for Kindergarten!”.

We have Kindergarten Touch Math, Sounds Abound, Handwriting Without Tears (Pre-K and K complete), history & science from my favorite curriculum, and TONS of manipulatives from various things.  We even have a Spielgaben kit coming the second week of January.  I think it might just work.  I will be doing this “experiment” from January to May. We will be able to see what we can and can’t accomplish with what we have on hand.

I think with our occupational therapist here a couple of times a week; along with our physical therapist, we can have a great semester this spring!  Also, we have some really awesome classes at our KB Coop this semester. 🙂

Now to just figure out what to do with my 14 year old entering High School….

The more challenges that come, the more that I look at online public schools. Then, my stomach hurts because of how much it goes against what I have spent 14years putting into his little heart!  It is heart breaking for me.
As I look at my little children, known as my “littles”, I know we will dissect whatever we do to make it work the best for them.  They are the focus of change.  My teen will either start an online public school or continue in my favorite curriculum.  I should be decided in the next week. I have a few more phone calls to make and it will be decided.  I am looking into trying to figure out a work box system that works for us. One that is “filled” once a month and worked out of by all seven of us and our therapists.  When I think of it that way! That is NINE people working out of one box!  What on earth am I thinking?!

I am looking forward to this challenge and many more new ones in 2014.  It will be the last year of my 30’s, so I plan to figure out the next 30 years in the process. 😉  The next 16 of those will be homeschooling my children who have some very challenging, special needs.

Venus JonesVenus is a veteran homeschool mom to 9, the youngest 6 of which she’s adopted.  She has been homeschooling for 13 yrs.  She recently started a new blog called Mommy Bear Blog and would love for you to follow her journey there.

A Rookie December – Our First Homeschool Year!

 

We were rookies this December!  That’s right….this is our first homeschool year!  And what a wonderous, challenging, blessed adventure it is!  We thrive on routine, order, a schedule, and formal school time.  So far….it has served us very well!

Okay you veterans, now is your time to chuckle!  I almost guarantee you already know what’s coming!  That’s right!  Then.  December.  Happened.

LESSON LEARNED, LESSON SHARED:

DO NOT PLAN NORMAL SCHOOL WEEKS BETWEEN THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS!!!!

Next year…these weeks will hold less curriculum and more room for Jesus’ gifts & opportunities.

This is a beautiful example of a primary reason we homeschool…. Our days and our schedules CAN revolve around God’s leading and….it’s OK!!!

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At the end of the day I’m reminded of the lessons I really want my children to bring from this  December and carry into the days that follow….

  •  CHRIST, our Savior is alive, He is real, and He is amazing!  His birth is not just a story.  The gift of His love may have began that first Christmas Day….but it lives and reigns in every day since.  Let my teaching bring this truth to life in your little hearts!  For God’s work is far from finished, and even farther from ever being boring!

     Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

  • Not only are we blessed with the daily wonder of Christ, but that of each other as well!  May we spend our days with the awe and wonder of who He has created us, and each other, to be!  At the end of our busy, school and life filled days, let our hearts sing His praise!

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  • We follow the steps of the first Christmas when we learn to truly give.  I watched my little girl out give me these past days.  Our school day came to a halt when we learned of a need.  That day, phonics and math may have been overlooked.  But the lesson of giving not your leftovers, but what you might even need yourself…..that was a truth far more important!  A truth Christ reminded me of through the heart of my Kindergartener.

 

  • We find real joy in learning how to receive.  God’s gift of a savior wasn’t earned and never will be….it was free.  Undeserved.  Unearned.  Grace.  A gift unreceived is unaccepted.  Receiving Christ is life!  Let my example be that of living grace.  And that you my children, will always know you are loved by HIM who freely gave for you.  THAT is true love.

For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8

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  • Perhaps most important….that the true gift of Christmas NEVER ceases and is not confined to a month or to a day.  Jesus is alive and real every day of our lives.  And that God is, to this day….still in the creation business.  Only a prayer and some faith away!

 

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10

 

This coming year I want my children to see more grace.  I want them to recognize each opportunity to give.  Not only of items…but of themselves.  Most of all, I want them to see how freely Christ gives to us all.

How about you?  Will you be finding new areas to of your family and school days to focus on more this next year?  I’d love to hear them!

 

Jennifer Whitten FamilyJennifer is a first year homeschooling Mom of 3 elementary aged kids and step mom to one middle school girl.  She was born and raised in Wyoming but now enjoys country living in Louisiana with her husband and kids.  She is a lover of Jesus, family, gardening, canning, all things creative, and hog hunting with her husband.  Tea enthusiast and crochet addict, she can be found blogging about all things family, devotional, health, and homeschool at Stop, Pray, Listen.  A volunteer peer counselor at a Pro-Life Crises Pregnancy Center, her other passion is sharing the gospel with women in need.  Far from perfect, but in love with this grace filled life with kids, Jennifer makes it her mission to Stop, Pray, Listen, and Obey.

Homeschooling on the road: schooling through the holidays

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We love to travel and explore. Homeschooling has provided us with a fantastic opportunity to do so. Through blogging and taking advantage of the chance to help, speak, or do social media at various homeschool conventions – we’ve been able to see much of the country and enjoy adventures which would not otherwise be possible.

Blogging, writing and other homeschool employment has made it possible to gain access to the best curriculum on the market. It also helps us afford for me to stay home with the boys – even when that home is in the form of a mini van rolling down the highway, a tent or hotel room!

 

What in the world does this have to do with homeschooling through the holidays? 

Well, while others are sitting at their desk in school, we are likely to be kayaking or rafting down a river or exploring some new exciting territory. But, we also have to work our way through those fabulous curriculum supplies and meet our own educational goals. This often means homeschooling right on through the holidays.

Shaping young minds and providing the education for my boys is a huge responsibility and one I take seriously. In order to fulfill our requirements and meet our goals – we have made the commitment to school our children year-round.

Before you freak out, go back and read that part about how “while others are sitting in school, we are likely to be kayaking or rafting down a river!”

It’s not all bad this year-round schooling and it lifts the pressure off of the times where we are busy enjoying life to the fullest.

Homeschooling on the road or while vacationing during the holidays does not have to be terribly complicated. One great trick is to use what you have on hand, and take full advantage of the resources in your immediate location.

What does it look like in real life? 

On a recent trip to the woods for hunting season, our boys got some fantastic lessons in archery.

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I generally pack a basket or a bag of books to carry with us whether we are camping or staying in a hotel. The important thing is to keep it simple and remember, it doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. I do not bring heavy or expensive books along on the road, because that is just not the way we roll. We have plenty of time for that at the home front.

The dollar store and dollar section at Target are good places to pick up little books or workbooks that contain basic (sometimes even accurate) information. I am choosy about what I buy, but a simple book that lists the 50 states and capitals, or provides addition and multiplication practice is worth a buck here and there. It doesn’t even matter if they get dirty, lost, or fall into a bonfire. Hey, it can happen . . . trust me!

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Older children can read aloud while in the car, as long as they are not the car sick type. It is easy to drill bible verses, spelling words and vocabulary, and math facts while rolling down the highway or walking in the woods. Other tools we use to help us study while on the road:

  • laptop
  • tablet/Kindle Fire
  • iPods with educational apps
  • books on cd
  • educational dvd’s
  • composition books to use as nature journals or to record data
  • camera- nature photography and to snap shots of information and exhibits at museums

Another important tip is to visit museums and parks along the way. We don’t leave home without our ASTC.org  membership. I always search the list for places to go (for FREE) on the way to our destination, and in the city where we land. It is often worth leaving a few days in advance, even traveling a little out of the way to visit some of these places. When there is a tent in the back of the minivan – you can find housing most anywhere. But, I’ll save the frugal travel tips for another day.

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We happened to be on the road during Veterans Day this year. We stopped at a museum in a remote little town in Georgia. The Museum of Aviation is FREE and turned out to be one of our favorite places! History comes to life when it is experienced in this way. It was the perfect place to honor and learn more about the men and women who have served our country. We learned about the Flying Tigers of World War II and in particular about General Robert L. Scott, a Georgia boy who ended up as their leader. He is the kind of hero, and a strong man of character that we want our boys to identify with and look up to. There is some terrific video links and information on the web site here.

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I find this style of homeschooling to be extremely effective because it is hands on learning that (when reinforced and discussed properly) will be retained much easier than sitting in a classroom or behind a desk.

Of course, this was a hunting trip, and most of the time – the boys simply ran and played in the woods. They caught lizards, collected leaves (most of our leaves in Florida don’t turn colors for fall – so this is a big treat) and it is also a part of our nature science. The boys practiced archery. They did their reading.

At night we listened to a book about World War II as we cuddled up in sleeping bags. The boys  also did a few math worksheets. We socialized with our friends. We sang, listened to classical music in the car with commentary about the composers. We practiced our bible verses. Each day the boys did a quick sketch and wrote a few words about something they observed. All in all, I think homeschooling on the road – even during the holidays – is a great success!

Do you have any road schooling tips or tips for the Christmas travel season? We would love to hear about them!  

Kelli Becton2Kelli Becton of Homeschooling Adventurez (division of AdventurezinChildRearing) is a Jesus loving, homeschooling mama of three boys (biological and adoption).  They are an outdoor family, living and learning on the Gulf coast of Southwest Florida. Kelli was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis over eleven years ago, and although there is pain, there is also great joy. She and her husband Mark have always loved the outdoors, and they spend as much time as possible adventuring with their boys. Exploring God’s creation is their favorite pastime. Jesus is their passion, and homeschooling their boys is a blessing. Kelli loves to write and speak to other homeschool families, sharing life’s lessons and what God has laid on her heart through their adventures. You can find Kelli on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Thankful Turkeys – an Easy Craft for Thanksgiving

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I love having monthly themed craft projects for my kids. Last year, I started the “Thankful Turkey” and once November arrived this year, I was more than excited to start our well-loved craft project again!

I used my Cricut cutter and cut out 3 turkeys (1 for each child that’s old enough to participate). I have a stash of colored printing paper in my school supply closet so I grabbed yellow, green, red, orange, blue and purple. Just cut strips from each color and that becomes feathers for the turkey.

We start our lesson each morning by going around the table and listing a few things we are thankful for and why we feel thankful for them.  Once they each hear what the other has to say, it can become quite the event! “Oh wait! I’m thankful for that too!” or “Well…can I change mine? I forgot about that!” So I quickly remind them we have 28 days, and 28 feathers to fill.

After each child decides what they want to be thankful for that day, I write a one word description on their feather. “Family”, “Friends”, “Home”, etc.  They then glue the feather onto the back of their turkey (so you can see the wording on the front) and anxiously wait for our event the next day.

I date each child’s turkey and once Thanksgiving has come and gone, we put it in our art folder. It is so fun to look over these every year! When my first son started doing this as a little toddler, he was thankful for “Milk”, “Car”, “Mama”, “Dada”, “Ball”, etc….and now he REALLY knows what it means to be thankful and has listed things such as “God”, “Love”, “Faith”, “Health”. I love seeing how each child progresses through the yearly craft project!

This is not only a fun project for the kids, but it is a daily reminder to them that we have so much to be thankful for!

Blessings and warmth to you and your family!

 

Tammy CarrollTammy is the owner of The New Farmer’s Wife blog.  She and her husband recently decided to give farming a try and she’s blogging all about their adventures.  Take a moment to stop on by!

Homeschooling Under The Big Top

Homeschooling Under the Big Top

As a work-at-home “homeschool mom” I often feel like I’m the ring master of a 3 ring circus. In addition to homeschooling our three children (ages 7, 6, & 3) I juggle operating a small in-home childcare which adds 3-4 extras depending on the day. Then you add on the responsibilities of homemaking and other odds and ends jobs/activities. Whew!… I’m not complaining… but I do have a full plate like many of you do, I’m sure.

I often get questions about how I get it all done. My answer is always the same: “Not on my own strength but in God’s.” Another answer is that sometimes it just doesn’t! Sometimes we have school that doesn’t get done, other times my house looks like the circus elephants escaped and stampeded through it. There isn’t always a gourmet meal on the table three times a day. Stacks of laundry go days without being folded.

 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 reminds us, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It’s a fact… We can’t do it but God can! If we are following his calling for our life and the life of our family He will provide, no matter how many directions you may feel yourself being pulled. Seek Him and His plan!

So, here are some tips that I find helpful to keep the plates spinning in our little circus act:

  • Know what is important and let the rest go. This may mean re-learning the meaning and use of the word NO. You can not and are not called to help every group, organization, extra curricular activity, etc… Sometimes you just have to say No. We have a rule that our children (and ourselves) only be involved in 2 extra activities at a time. One church activity and one non-church activity. For example… The girls have dance one night a week and Caravans – a church activity- another night of the week. We don’t count 4-H or Bible Quizzing because we consider them part of school.
  • Set daily priorities and goals. No matter what your style is, whether fly by the seat of your pants, schedule and plan every minute of your day, or somewhere in between: start each day with at least a rough plan of what you want accomplished. Stick to it. When it is done be done!
  • Learn to look past the chaos. Some days things are neat and organized, others…well, see the elephant comment earlier. Either way the show must go on!
  • Have a system. I use a weekly planning system that helps me organize meals/shopping/to-do’s and cleaning. This system helps me stay organized and on task. I have it posted in our kitchen as a Master Command Center. There are many methods available; this one just works for our family the best. You can get it FREE from The Hoggatt Homeschool. (Sticky Notes are also my best friend!)

Homeschool Organization

  • Learn to let downtime just be downtime. I confess this is not something I have mastered. So, I’m preaching to myself!!!! I blame it on my personality (haha). But we need a re-charge time. Otherwise we will quickly burn out. Everyone knows that a burnt-out mama is BAD for everyone!!!

When the curtains close at the big top each day, remember what this is all about. We are serving Christ first, followed by our husbands and families! It isn’t always easy being a ring master at the circus but with God’s help–and our obedience to him–we can and WILL survive!

 Zechariah 4:6 “Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit” says the Lord God Almighty.

Emmalee Hoggatt - CopyAbout The Author:  Emmalee is a mother of three beautiful girls, ages 6, 5 & 2. She also works full time operating a childcare from her home. She and her family live in rural Southeast Kansas and enjoy the country life on their growing “Triple-A-Farm.” She enjoys the outdoors, being in the kitchen and diving into God’s word. Emmalee also has a passion for children and family kingdom ministries. She blogs at www.thehoggatthomeschool.com, where she shares a hodgepodge of recipes, craft ideas, homeschooling tips, resources and devotions.

How a Homeschooling Mom Survives Her Daughter’s Wedding

homeschooling and planning a wedding

 

It’s September. A new school year off to a great start. And our daughter becomes engaged. How wonderful! How exciting! And the wedding date is set. For February. Right smack in the middle of our school year. Five months to plan the wedding of a lifetime. Four younger children still needing their education. How does a homeschooling mom handle this!?

 

  • Make a list. Make several lists. List out all mandatory schooling assignments and activities. When you sit down to do school, you can refer to the list to help you stay on track.  List out all wedding appointments and projects. I made up a notebook with dividers just for wedding planning. All ideas and business cards and receipts and samples and checklists were recorded here, which left my brain some space for tackling schoolwork with the younger children. These lists will be on-going and ever-changing.
  • Set Priorities. Determine what is most important for your children to accomplish. For this season, pick your top most priority subjects and see to those. A math lesson? Reading practice? See to those and leave the extras for a later season.
  • Set up Self-Directed Activities. Keep a drawer or bin stocked with art supplies or math games to be used only when Mom is occupied with big sister and the wedding. Have a basket within reach filled with books on topics that you are studying in school. If you aren’t getting to the school books, they can still be learning. There are plenty of websites offering worksheets and educational games for all subjects, any age. Having new and fun activities available will help distract everyone from all the hub-bub going on with the wedding planning.
  • Organize the days of your week. Choose one day to be ‘Errand Day’ when you will schedule as many errands as possible, making them the most of your time out-and-about. Check your Notebook before you head out! Another day can be ‘Light School Day’ when you get math lessons and writing lesson in and then work together on the wedding to-do list (making rice bags, cutting ribbon, making place cards, looking through bridal magazines, etc). Fill the other days with as much schooling as you are able. Remember that list we made earlier? Refer to it often.
  • Ease up on your school schedule. For a time. Instead of math 5 days a week, maybe 3 or 4. Science 1 day a week, History 1 day a week. A little reading everyday, but grammar every other day. Create an alternative schedule with more flexible time built in. It’s only for a season. You’ll work your way back to normal once the Big Event is over.
  • Plan school activities and subjects around wedding-related topics. Study family history, hold ‘home ec’ and ‘shop’ classes in order to create wedding gifts, learn some geography while compiling the guest list and updating your address book.
  • Take a Teacher Enrichment Day when needed. When you’ve been stretched too thin, retreat for awhile and do whatever it is that recharges you.
  • Enjoy family time together. Your daughter won’t be living under your roof much longer. Pull out the old photo albums and scrapbooks. Relive favorite memories while fixing her favorite meals. Make new memories – do some of the things you’ve always wanted to do together.
  • Regroup. When the younger children have been pushed aside too often because wedding plans have been front-and-center, take time to reconnect. Read out loud together, sit around the table as they work and look them straight in the eye, look through their school work and praise a job well done. Or, if you’ve been pushing, pushing, pushing schoolwork playing catch-up, yell “School’s Out!” and let the younger ones pick an activity (it might even be educational, you never know!)
  • Keep a List for the Future. Yes, another list! At the top write “When This Wedding is Over, We will . . .” and then keep a running list of things you’ve put on hold. Don’t have time or funds for a planned project or field trip? Put it on the list. It will give you something to look forward to and can be helpful later, when adjusting to life without sister.
  • Give yourself permission to mourn. Go ahead, have your mini-meltdown when it hits you that your baby girl is about the leave the nest. Tears will rise to the surface at the most unexpected moments. At times I would quickly wipe the tears from my cheek. No need to hide it, my children understood. Other times I’d leave the room and have a good, old-fashioned cry, taking a few minutes to myself to sob – I was missing her already! Then I’d be good to go again. By stuffing those feelings, or ignoring them, it would just build and I wouldn’t be any good to anyone.
  • Be in the Word. Be with the Lord. HE will give you the strength to juggle all the logistics, emotions, details.
  • Breathe. Eat well. Get your rest. Enjoy. This is a special time, give your children the opportunity to be a part of it all. Your daughter doesn’t get married everyday. The schooling will still be there after she’s walked down the aisle.

 

 

stop and smell the daisies

Linda Sears is a stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mother and doting grandmother. She and her husband have 8 children, a daughter-in-law, 2 sons-in-law and 5 grandchildren, so far. They have been homeschooling for more than 20 years, graduating 4 of their 8 children, with 4 more to go. You’ll find her at Apron Strings & other things where she blogs about life as she knows it, with children in various stages of cutting those apron strings.