Mind Maps

I have become a Mind Mapping fool! This program is so easy to use and has helped me to organize and plan out every part of my life, especially our homeschool. I originally heard about this program through another homeschooling friend of mine, but I had dismissed its value for a long time. You see, I am very linear and just the thought of mind mapping seems very…well, flowery. I took one look at her mind map, and thought, “No way! That’s not for me!” But a voice in my head (thank you, God) told me to try it out. I did and I’m hooked! My maps are not as flowery and pretty as her maps. I have naturally given mine a linear look and feel.

Here are a few ways that I have mapped out our homeschooling journey so far:

  1. Our Fall Schedule

Fall 2015

This map is printed and pinned to my bulletin board for quick reference during the day.

2. Addition and Subtraction Games

These games are from Right Start’s Math Card Games book. This fall, we are memorizing our addition and subtraction math facts. Drills and timed tests can get pretty boring, so I have organized the games in the book for easy reference.

+ and - Games

3. Roman Empire Unit Study

For this unit we are studying Italy, then moving backwards in time to study the Roman Empire while we read Detectives in Toga. I have created 4 different maps for our Roman Empire Unit Study.

In this map, I have organized the Passport to Italy Unit Study by Amanda Bennet. It was taking us entirely too long to go through this study, so now I can use this map as a quick reference to pick and choose the topics I want the kids to cover. This map is huge and does not fit on my screen, so I have taken 2 snapshots of it.

Here is the bottom half of the map:

Bottom half of passport Italy

And here is the top half:

Top Half of passport

The next map I created is based on a Roman Empires lapbook that I purchased from CurrClick. We will be making this lapbook after we finish the Italy study. We will need to complete some of these topics before we begin our literature book, Detectives in Toga, so those topics are marked with a green flag. This map will help me quickly reference the topics and their page numbers in the study guide.

Roman Empire Workbook

The last map is a work in progress. I am only planning our Detectives in Toga journal entries one chapter at a time.

Detectives in Toga map

Notice the little arrow next to the Roman Empire sibling topic that is linked to the Setting subtopic. That arrow is a link to a website that we will use to do more research about the Roman Empire as we read the story.

Besides homeschooling, I am also using a shared mind map to organize our Vacation Bible School.

See! Even this left brained dominate, linear thinker has been able to organize all her marbles using mind maps.

1 Corinthians 14:40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

Happy Homeschooling!


Math Facts

This year, we are putting the math curriculum on the shelf, and focusing on memorizing our math facts; all of them: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Yes, even the 6 year olds!  My daughter is entering the fourth grade anyway, which is the typical grade in which the facts are solidified and memorized. I have never had my 11 year old actually memorize the facts, because of his learning challenges, but I do believe that he is now ready to do so. I am also amazed at how well the 6 year olds understand the math concepts already, just by using Khan Academy and Right Start. The kids are always drilling each other using their multiplication place mats, so even the twins already know quite a few of those facts.


Honestly, I am just tired of the kids relying on their abacuses to calculate a simple addition problem.


After they get these facts down, we can focus more on other math concepts using our beloved Right Start program. The less they have to calculate, the more they can focus on the why and how of the concept.

The plan is to focus on one operation per quarter.

  • Fall: Addition
  • Winter: Subtraction
  • Spring: Multiplication
  • Summer: Division

This is a very rough plan, we will mostly move at the pace of our fourth grader. I am not concerned if the twins totally memorize all of them, since they are so young and have a lot more time to do so, but I am willing to bet, they will be able to keep up. Since subtraction and division are just a matter of undoing addition and multiplication, they shouldn’t take as long, so we may even be finished at the end of spring.

Here are a couple of sites that I am using for reference and help:

Michele’s Math

Math Aids

My overall objectives are as follows:

  • Teach the pattern or concept
  • Practice with worksheets
  • Use games for reinforcement
  • Drill using flash cards
  • Master time tests
  • Orally assess each student for mastery

Teaching the pattern or concept will be quick. They already know what addition and subtraction are, so this will just be for review and should only take about 5 or 10 minutes. The concepts of multiplication and division are a bit newer, especially for the twins, but again, it is not the goal that they completely understand what to do. I just want them to know the fact. They have lots of time to understand the why.

Practice will come in the form of worksheets, games and flash cards. Mastery will be assessed using timed tests from the math aids site and by asking the math questions orally in random order.

Our first plans for addition fact mastery are as follows:

  • Daily write out and say the odds and even numbers to 20 forward and backward until mastered.
  • Make an addition table in their math journal.
  • Add and subtract by 1s and 2s using a number line
  • Relate adding and subtracting by 2s using the number line of odd and even numbers.
  • Master adding and subtracting 1s using 1 minute timed drill.
  • Master adding and subtracting 2s using 1 minute timed drill.
  • Master adding and subtracting 1s and 2s using 3 minute timed drill.
  • Orally assess mastery of adding and subtracting 1s and 2s.

This really shouldn’t take longer than a week or 2, but I’ll let you know just how long it actually does take. While they all understand the concept already, it’s the fluency that will take the longest to develop.

The kids will keep track of their progress by highlighting the facts memorized on their addition table.


After they have mastered the 1s and 2s, we will move on to the following:

  • Memorizing doubles
  • Memorizing doubles + 1
  • Memorizing doubles + 2
  • Adding 4

And that’s as far as I have planned. The trick will be to keep reviewing them so they don’t forget. I will probably rely on Khan Academy to do that.

I know all of this is very controversial. You are either thinking, “Why don’t her kids already know this, especially the 12 year old?” or “Why is she going through all this trouble? They will eventually get it.” Well, I am not going to further explain my reasoning, other than to say that all of our school plans are held up to our heavenly Father in prayer beforehand. This is what the Lord has convicted me to do this year. If you have the same conviction, or are just curious to see how it will all go down, feel free to follow my blog. I will be updating on our successes or failures, and laying out the rest of the plans as I plan them.

Happy Homeschooling!

Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29 

Our Holiday Schedule

Grandmama has arrived! The cheetah broke his arm. The twins had their sixth birthday party, and the video games have invaded the minds of the vulnerable. Who can do school at a time like this?

Twins birthday

And what’s to come… Christmas tree decorating, Christmas shopping, and our 20th anniversary cruise. Sure doesn’t look like school will be anyones priority in these upcoming weeks.

We generally take time off during the holiday season, so I am not too concerned about scaling back. What I can’t stand is idle time, when the kids proceed to turn their minds to mush by playing video games and watching movies. We generally limit computer games to about an hour a week, allow the kids to watch one movie on Friday evenings, and hide the video game consoles in the basement, until…well…until Grandmama comes. This year Grandmama has generously supplied the kids with the Marvel Infinity game set. The kids were able to play for one full day, on the twin’s birthday, but now I am determined, at least until we leave for the cruise, to get in some higher level, critical thinking skills.

So this is the plan:

We wake up in the morning and do our usual family devotional, then eat breakfast. After breakfast, the twins practice some quick cursive by writing their names and numbers, while the older kids either practice their lines for the Christmas play, or practice typing. I am not as concerned about the twins getting in scheduled reading time right now, because lately they have been sounding out almost everything they see. This will be enough until regular instruction picks up again after the holidays.

Then we continue our extremely slow journey through the novel, “The Twenty-One Balloons.” We only read about 2 to 3 pages a day, because we are analyzing it do death. The kids copy notes from the white board into their journals and we stop and discuss a lot. Today’s reading led to watching 2 YouTube videos, one on how to sail a boat, and another on hydraulic trucks. Here are a couple of pages from one of their notebooks:

21 Ballons Notebook page 1

21 ballons notebook p. 2

Next we play a family math game. Our favorites right now are Slower Speed with even and odd numbers and Concentration with multiples. All of our games come from the funnest math program in the world, Right Start Math.

Multiples concentration

Slow Speed

Finally, we are reading the best book written about Thanksgiving, “Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember,” by Barbara Rainey. Yes, I realize that Thanksgiving has passed, but we didn’t have time to read it before Thanksgiving, so we are doing it now. This book has made Thanksgiving my absolutely favorite holiday. During Thanksgiving, we can celebrate God’s providence without being choked by materialism.

thanksgiving book

I have the kids draw pictures about the Thanksgiving story as we read this book. Here is a sample:

Thanksgiving journal page

Next year, I am determined to make Thanksgiving even more meaningful for the kids. I want the kids to write “Thank You” cards and keep a “Thankful Journal” for the month of November. Maybe we will still get to that before the year is over.

Well, that’s it! After that torture, the kids run upstairs to play…

disney infinity avengers figures

After the new year, we will tuck the Xbox away, not to rear it’s ugly head again, until spring break.

How does your homeschool schedule change over the holidays?

Merry Christmas to All!

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. Luke 2:10

Essential Oils

We have had the most unfortunate encounter with another round of sickness, so I am hijacking my homeschool blog to talk about essential oils.

I have to admit, and you may have already gathered, that we are family who gets sick often. I took up the use of essential oils and homeopathic medicine over a year ago, and I have been pleased with the results. During our first round of this season’s bad germ invasion, I wrote about the different homeopathic medicines I use. You can click here, if you missed that post. I don’t know if this second round was just a mutated virus from the first, or a completely different bug, but the essential oils did a good job of kicking it.

When I talk to my friends about essential oils, the most common concern is about how to get started, what oils to get, or where to get them. Yes, I did spend a lot of time researching these very questions myself, so I am hoping to save you some time by recommending that you read this book:

eo book

This is my essential oil bible. Once you have bought it, read it from cover to cover. The author lists every oil you need to get started. Then for each ailment, she explains exactly which essential oils to use and how to use them. Common colds, influenza, eczema, hay fever…it’s all in there.

The next step is to order your oils. I currently use this highly recommended online site to purchase my single oils.


A trusted friend of mine, who is currently taking college courses for natural healing therapy, also uses the oils from this site, as recommended by her professors for her course work. Through her studies, she has learned that if the oils are from an organic source or wild harvested, the quality is sufficient. The distilling process is all the same, so one company’s oils are not better than another. Don’t let those over-priced multi-level marketing companies fool you; however, I do love some of doTerra’s blends. These can get very expensive though, so I have learned how to blend my single oils with the same satisfying results.

Yes, you will spend a lot of money to get started. Plan on spending at least a couple hundred dollars at first. No complaining! It’s either this or the doctor’s bills. Before we started using the oils, my kid’s common colds would always develop into respiratory issues, such as walking pneumonia, which would require a doctor’s visit and antibiotics. Ear infections were another costly effect, but since the use of essential oils, we have not had a single doctor’s visit. That’s worth the couple hundred dollar investment. I budget about $50 a month in order to replenish my supply for my family of seven. If I don’t use it, I roll it over to the next month. Some oils are much more expensive than others.

Soon enough, you will have a stocked supply of readily available essential oils, like this:


This basket is just about always in arms reach. You will notice other essential items in my basket, such as aloe vera and vitamin E.

aloe and e

I use these to mix oils for skin related issues and to make hand sanitizers. The On Guard blend from doTerra, used to make this sanitizer, is just about the only blend that I consistently purchase.

Another essential item for your essential oils is a diffuser. I have one of these for each bedroom:

Diffuser on

I bought these for a third of the price of the ones from the m-l-m companies, and they have worked flawlessly for over a year. They automatically shut off when the water runs out and they are aesthetically pleasing as well. The diffuser will diffuse the oils with or without the calming blue light. My only suggestion is to completely dry them each morning after use, otherwise, they may mold. Mold was a problem when I used to use a humidifier, but with these little beauties, I have not had a single mold issue, probably because they just don’t run as long. They run about 3 hours, which is sufficient for us at night. We used to use a humidifier to relieve coughs and congestion, but since I have been regularly using essential oils and the diffusers, we have not had any coughs or chest congestion.

You will also need a few items for blending your oils as prescribed in The Complete Book of Essential Oils

I use a variety of amber glass bottles which can also be purchased at mountainroseherbs.com.

eo mixing bottles

Finally, you will need to purchase some carriers. My favorites are olive oil and coconut oil.coconut oil 2

Buying bulk is cheaper, and always make it organic. Then use glass jars for mixing and storing in convenient locations.

olive oil

I do, unfortunately, use plastic to store my olive oil blends, because I have yet to find an efficient way to store it in glass, for ready use. I use a medicine cup to mix my one-time-use massage oils as prescribed in Worwood’s book. The blends usually consist of a teaspoon of olive oil mixed with various essential oils. I measure and blend the oils right in the medicine cup, take the cup up to the ailing child, and massage the oil all over his or her body until it is gone.

Now that you have the basics, here are some other ways that I use the oils in everyday living.


I use this fragrant free body lotion from Costco and add 20 drops of peppermint and 20 drops of lavender straight to the bottle and stir. Makes for a more soothing, healing and aromatic moisturizer.

eo sprays

I also have 2 spray bottles. One has about 30 drops of eucalyptus mixed with about 26 oz of water. I use this spray in the bathrooms as an everyday disinfectant. I spray it in the bathtubs before the kids get in and daily in the toilets and sinks. The other bottle is 15 drops of cinnamon bark and 20 drops sweet orange, or 30 drops On Guard if I can afford it. I spray this on linens and beddings and anywhere that needs to be freshened up.

oregano oil

And finally, I have to give a shout out to this absolutely amazing oil of oregano blend. This will kick out any bacteria posing to become an infection. I was amazed at how quickly it healed us from this last sickness. WATCH OUT! This one burns a bit. My husband and I can handle quite a few drops under our tongue, but the kids will only take it with a spoonful of honey. However they can get it down is fine with me. It works!

So now that I have made the claim promoting essential oils, you must understand, that I am not a doctor or medical professional of any kind. Everything I say has only been proven true in this house and may or may not work for you. I don’t promise or guarantee any results. If anything, at least you will smell good!

I am intrigued that oils have been used since the beginning of time and instructed to be used by God to the Israelites and even to the church. For the Truth is…

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… Genesis 1:1

Schedule Changes

Well, four weeks into it and I have had to make some serious changes to our packed out looping schedule. Click here to read my post regarding my original  looping schedule, or just continue reading to see the changes that I have made.

This is what my original schedule looked like:

original schedule 2014

And here is the new schedule:

updated schedule 2014

The Kindergarten Loop has stayed the same, but in all actuality, I could have changed the time. The last few weeks, we have been able to begin this loop at 9:30 and easily make it through all of the activities by 11am. Leaving the start time, however, makes me feel really successful when starting early and right on time when we don’t start until 10. 😉

The next thing you may notice is that I anchored Math RS C (Right Start Math Level C) in the 3-4th Grade Loop time slot. I just couldn’t stand not teaching math every day. Yes, the kids still practice the math facts during independent practice time, but the Right Start curriculum is just too good, and, according to the kids, too much fun, to not do every day. Can’t argue with kids who want to do math, so I anchored it. I didn’t give it a specific time frame, but we generally work on a lesson for about 30 minutes before we move on to the looping activities.

Here is a closer look at the original 3-4th Grade Looping section:

3-4 loop before

And this is a close-up of the new schedule:

3-4th grade loop

I am head over heals for this:

grammar notebook

Kids creating their own textbooks! What a phenomenal idea! Our notebooks will be a topic of a future post, so suffice it enough to say that the interactive notebook has trumped Easy Grammar and Sonlight for now.

Another thing I have added to my schedule is a column to keep track of the lesson that we are working on and a column to mark when that lesson is completed. This addition helps me to keep track of where I am in the loop. I generally continue an activity until the lesson is complete, so if we haven’t finished the lesson within the time frame allotted, I know to continue with it the next time we meet for that looping period.

Literature has also become a larger part of our day. Originally, I was planning on a more casual read aloud time while finishing up our lunch, but this book…


required much more attention than a casual read, as I am sure all of the others will as well. What was I thinking?? The kids love literature time. Even the twins want to know how Professor Sherman managed to get from one balloon over the Pacific Ocean to the 20 in the Atlantic. From a balloon house basket to a volcanic island, inquiring minds want to know.

Here is a close-up of our original lunch schedule:

lunch before

And the new:

Lunch after

We usually start our story at about 12:45, but again, I’m not changing the time. I like feeling great about starting early. 🙂

The Family Loop is the section that underwent the most surgery. My original schedule was just too full…

Family loop before

First, I had to drop this…

hero tales pict

Boooo! I really didn’t completely drop it however. I am adding it to our read aloud list, so Hero Tales will get its full time of glory when we finish The Twenty-One Balloons.

Next, I moved Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Jr. to Thursdays. This is a perfect fit for our shopping day and has also become the kids payday. We only have one more lesson in this curriculum, but I am planning to keep this time to practice our money counting and spending habits. So much problem solving happens here and they see the relativity of their math lessons.

So here is a close-up of the new Family Loop schedule:

Family Loop

The kids love the Bible Answers curriculum, as well as science, so allowing longer periods for both makes everyone happier.

Finally, I am so incredibly happy with The Homeschool Piano curriculum from Jazz Edge, that this also begged for more scheduled time. Originally I planned to continue with the Family Loop during this time slot, but the kids actually wanted to watch more Willie, the piano instructor, so I couldn’t argue.

Here is the original:

Music schedule before

And here is the dedicated time slot:

Music after

At about 3pm, I review the kids remaining independent practice work and head out for my jog with my dog and my much needed alone time with my Lord. He is the One who gives me daily strength and patience.

But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. Psalm 86:15

‘Tis the Season…

We started school September 15. We had a few solid weeks. Ok, two solid weeks. And then…BAM! ‘Tis the season…to get sick. I don’t know if it was a cold or flu, but these days I lean more toward some mutated, hybrid. It started off as a cold, with serious nose drainage.

dripping faucet

And then turned into muscle aches, head aches, and stomach aches. For the past year or two, I have been using essential oils and homeopathic medicines to heal us of these dreaded plagues. But this time, I struggled to determine the appropriate combination of therapy, because I simply didn’t know what I was treating. My daughter was hit the worse this time around.

I began by treating all of the kids for a cold, using my go to formula…SnifflesSneezes4Kids_Large

Along with…



And of course…


This combination clears up a cold in a day, and it didn’t fail this time either; however, after a day in the clear, my daughter either came down with a second virus attack, or she wasn’t really healed from the first. This time, her head hurt, her legs hurt and her stomach hurt. I was perplexed, but went to my trusty flu care solution…

flu care


lavendar IMG_3198

So far this has kicked the flu in a day or two, but this time… alas, five days later and she was just starting to feel better. And then, I got hit with the nasty bug. It also started as a…

dripping faucet

But then quickly turned into body aches and stomach pains. I immediately treated my symptoms with the flu solution and added…

NutriBiotic-Nasal-Spray-with-Grapefruit-Seed-Extract-728177010508 zinc

I cannot get my kids to spray anything in their nose or take zinc lozenges, but with these two products added to my personal treatment, the virus only lasted 3 days. When my oldest son, 18, came down sick, I gave him the same therapy that I took. He was only sick for one day. The twins and my drummer boy only had the…

dripping faucet

and were cured with…


by the afternoon. Thankfully, today, we were all well enough to do this…

IMG_3186 IMG_3181

‘Tis the season…until we are completely healed!

Through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Rev. 22:2

I’d love to hear what you do to remedy your kid’s sicknesses.



The Point System

In keeping with the theme of grace in my disciplining methods, I have implemented a points system inspired by the leader of Titus Ladies, Mrs. Margie Harryman. The idea, as explained in her book, “Letters to Krista,” is that each child 4 years old and up is freely given 25 points a day. “They cannot earn bonus points for good behavior, but they can lose points by bad behavior. The points are lost in 5 point increments, so it takes five episodes to lose all 25 points.” (Letters…pg 55) I have given this system a hands on approach and it is working quite well for us.


First, each child decorated a yogurt container which would hold 25 popsicle sticks bundled in groups of 5.


When the child misbehaves, he or she puts a bundle on my desk. This very act of going to his desk and taking out a bundle of sticks gives the child time to process his behavior and is usually all that is needed to correct the behavior. So far, no child has ever lost all of his sticks in one day. Turns out that this is also a great math reinforcer. My 5 year olds are great at counting by fives.

As Margie also suggests, each stick is worth 1 cent, so they can earn 25 cents a day just by having good behavior. In order to keep track of their earnings, I use an excel spreadsheet and at the end of each night, I quickly enter in the amount of points each child has earned that day. The sticks on my desk remind me to log their earnings and if they don’t loose points that day, I don’t log. My spread sheet has 16 columns, so I just back log their earnings once I see sticks on my desk. It’s obvious that if I haven’t logged in a while, that means they haven’t lost points in a while, so I know they have earned their full reward for the days that I have not recorded.

At the end of 16 days, we get together for Pay Day. The kids have calculated that in 16 days, they should have earned 4 dollars. I calculate each child’s earnings using the sums function in the Excel program. I do not have the kids calculate their own total earnings yet. I’m sure the process will evolve, but for now I want them to focus on counting money and figuring out how much money they have lost. This turns out to be a great lesson in counting change, since their earnings are usually amounts such as $3.95, $3.65, etc. Here is 5 day example of my Excel spreadsheet.

Date 9/17/14 9/18/14 9/19/14 9/20/14 9/21/14
11 yo 0.25 0.25 0.25 0.25 0.25
8 yo 0.25 0.2 0.2 0.25 0.25
5 yo 0.25 0.2 0.2 0.15 0.25
5 yo 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.2 0.25

We have been using this system for over 2 months now and the kids absolutely hate to loose points. Loosing points means loosing free money, and as we are going through the Financial Peace JR curriculum, they each have something special they are saving up for.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Col. 3:23-24

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph 2:8-9

2014-15 Looping Schedule and School Goals

This year, we have decided to implement an official looping schedule. In the past, I have naturally looped subjects with my oldest’s high school schedule. This was before I knew that this form of scheduling actually had a name, so this year I decided to make it official with my 4 younger kiddos. I believe this form of scheduling is ideal for larger families.

I have 3 blocks of time during which we loop through subjects. During the first block of time, I work with the twins on math, cursive, and reading. Also during this time, my 2 older kids are working on independent practice items, such as math facts, reading, and typing. Their list of independent practice is rather long and will be a subject for a future post, as I am working on managing this as well.

The second block of time is dedicated to my 2 older kids, during which I loop through their core subjects, such as math, reading, and spelling. Much of this time is spent teaching the kids a concept which they can practice independently. For example, I may take about 15 minutes to teach them how to find subjects and predicates so that they can independently work on their Easy Grammar lessons.

The third time block for looping is when the whole family comes together to work and learn through various subjects. We are working through the Answers for Kids curriculum and God’s Design for Life by the same organization. This is our favorite part of the school day.

Even though it may seem like we may not get to each subject every day with this schedule, the reality is that they are working through each subject, whether during their independent practice time, or even during the family loop. So far, this type of scheduling is working very well for our family.

Below is a copy of the schedule, followed by a subject key.

 Times Looping Schedule
10am-11am Kindergarten Loop 

Math: RS A
11am-12pm 3-4th Grade Loop 

LA Teach: EG 3, SL LA 2 and Vocabulary
Math: RS C
12pm-1pm Lunch- Memory VersesLiterature
1pm-2pm Family Loop 

Answers for Kids
The World of Animals
Dave Ramsey
Hero Tales
2pm-3pm Music LessonsContinue Family Loop
3pm-4pm Complete Independent Practice


AAR: All About Reading

RS: Right Start Math

EG Easy Grammar

SL LA: Sonlight Language Arts

Our school goals for the 2014-2015 school year is as follows:

Subject 11yo 8yo 5yos
Math Right Start C Times Tables Telling Time Right Start C Times tablesTelling Time Counting: 1-100, 10s, 5s, 2sRight Start A
Reading AAR 3 Literature AAR 3 Literature AAR1 Literature
Bible 2 Sam. InductiveAIG 2 Sam InductiveAIG StoriesAIG
Spelling AAS 2 AAS 2
Vocabulary Notebooks Notebooks
Writing TypingIEWProverbs TypingIEWProverbs Cursive: Full name, alphabet, address, phone numbers
Science The World of Animals The World of Animals The World of Animals
Language Arts Easy Grammar 3Sonlight LA 2 Easy Grammar 3Sonlight LA 2
Social Studies Hero TalesWorld History Hero TalesWorld History Hero TalesWorld History
Economics Dave Ramsey Dave Ramsey Dave Ramsey
Music Guitar/Drums Piano Piano

Unfortunately, I am unable to format the charts above, and get them to actually look like they do in my Word Doc, so in order to save my sanity, I am going to leave it as is.

Below is our literature list for the year:

The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene Du BoisAnd finally, here is this year’s literature list:

Detectives in Toga: by Henry Winterfeld

The Door in the Wall: by Marguerite de Angeli

Red Sails to Capri: by Ann Weil

I am hoping that we read many more books than this, but I don’t want to set us up for failure, so we are starting small.

I pray everyone has a successful and rich school year.

Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24:3-4 NKJV

Graduation Day!

We did it! We graduated our first born son from high school this weekend. The process was an intense emotional roller coaster, but the event went smoothly, and family, as well as the graduate, enjoyed their time together in celebration.

Family w Grad

We participated in the WHO (Washington Homeschool Organization) Commencement Ceremony. The ceremony was intimate and well organized. Each parent wrote an 80 word statement about his graduating student, which was read by two preselected, honored readers. While this statement was being read, the parent handed his or her graduate the high school diploma and the graduate handed his or her parent a rose in return. Some of the graduates greeted their parents with the traditional smile and hug, while others, my son included, decided to be a bit more comedic in their approach. My son, donning his bow tie, scanned me with his sonic screwdriver before determining that it was safe to take his diploma. The Dr Who fans in the audience got a kick out of that, but I was left not quite knowing how to react, since I can’t get through even one episode of the series. It’s just not my sort of thing.


This is the 80 word statement we wrote for our graduate:

Our son is the first home-schooled high school graduate from our family. He has persevered through everything from research reporting to classical piano training. He is dedicated to his church worship band and helping people in need. In his leisure time, he can be found composing music in his studio. He is a visionary in every aspect of his life from music to science. Son, we are proud of all you have accomplished. Seek the Lord in your journey to come.

After the ceremony, the family gathered together at our church to celebrate the graduation of four high school students, including our son. It was a fabulous party, for everyone. Church members provided a delicious spread of food. We made a slide show with pictures of the graduates looping through to my son’s composition pieces. Each student had a display board representing their achievements and they even announced their goals for the future to the crowd gathered before them.

Church GradKids eating

Putting together the display board and the slide show, was a very emotional experience. I found myself crying and laughing, both with tears, at the various pictures of different life events throughout the last 18 years. I was delightfully surprised however to find that the portfolios my son had put together at the end of each year made the job of displaying his achievements much easier. Family and friends were able to peruse these well organized and content rich portfolios going back to 7th grade. I even put out some elementary work we had saved, including a letter he wrote to President Bush about the “invisible children” in Uganda.


The process of preparing for my son’s graduation also boosted my confidence and made me proud to be his parent and teacher. If you have been following my blog, you know that my oldest struggles with dyslexia and auditory processing disorder. Sometimes when talking with my son, I feel like he hasn’t learned a thing, and that all of the work we had done was a waste of time. Sometimes I even wonder what we did. Did we even do anything? But we did! And we did a whole lot. He has read over 100 books, since 7th grade, and written countless essays and research papers. He won the presentation award and advanced to state level with his team in the First Lego League competition. He participated for 2 years in Search and Rescue, and not to mention the 7 years of Piano Guild evaluations, winning International to National awards and receiving superior scores. The kid has a dream transcript, with well rounded activities and a 3.6 GPA, but he can’t take a test to save his life. That is when all the flipping happens. He understands the concept, but getting the correct answer is a challenge.  I pray that in his maturity, he will remember to use all of the test taking strategies he has learned. He can’t get by without them.





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So what’s next?

The first step for my composer will be to spend time in LA this summer networking with people in the movie industry to see if any doors will open for him to compose music for movies or video games. And yes, we have connections to Hollywood movie and tv producers, so he will be able to make these connections easier than the average person.

If this doesn’t pan out, he will come home and attend a community college while working and learning how to program with his father. He will continue to compose music and network with potential employers until his dream career opens up. Thankfully, he is picking up programming languages quickly, so if need be, this will be the medium he uses to make money until he lands his dream job.

So what did I learn in the 10 years homeschooling my first born son?
Probably the biggest lesson that I learned in these last ten years is not to project myself onto my kids. My son and I butt heads most of the way through elementary and middle school, because I expected him to be like me, to learn like me, and to think like me. I taught him according to how I learn best. But he is not me! In fact, he isn’t anything like me at all. It wasn’t until he reached high school and I started to see the same struggles magnified in my second born, that I started to let go of my expectations and really look at him for who he is. He is a visionary. He wants to create and solve problems, musically and scientifically. If I could go back, I would have done more science and interest led schooling. Because of his auditory issues he didn’t learn much when I was reading to him. Instead, he learned best when he was able to build, experiment, create and design.

Now, I intentionally consider each child separately. What are their interests? How do they learn? Even my identical twins are different learners. If I need to teach one concept using 4 different methods, I will do so.  One may need explicit instruction, while the other just picks it up logically, with little instruction. One may be more art orientated and the others may learn best through classic literature or text books. Regardless, all of their needs will be met, because of the flexibility homeschooling allows. What a gift! I have been blessed to be able to homeschool my first born son from second grade to graduation. We both learned a lot through the process, but I am also convinced that his education would not have been as rich, nor would he have been as successful had he attended public school. I constantly thank God for putting it in my heart to homeschool, and I thank all of the pioneer homeschooling moms who have made it so much easier for us now to do what is best for our children.

Taking Turns

The twins have been in a constant battle over things. When it is time to brush their teeth, they race to be able to stand on the favored stool. Then, they proceed in a shoving match to determine who will be the king of the stool. They fight over who will wear the batman cape. They fight over the ball, the Star Wars ship, and the Lego men. I can’t keep track of whose toy is whose and they lie about it most of the time anyway.
My initial reaction to their selfish tendencies has not been any more helpful in resolving the conflict as their fighting has been. I resort to yelling and snatch the item away out of frustration. While brooding over this constant bickering, The Lord was faithful to give me a bit of wisdom. He showed me that I wasn’t teaching them how to resolve the conflict by taking the toy away, or by yelling at them. Sure it fixed the problem at that moment, but the behavior never changed and the fighting just resurrected when they became fixated on another item of desire. Looking at this now, I realize that I was just reacting out of my own flesh, because I was tired. I was being a lazy parent.

Now, instead of yelling or removing the item, I am teaching them how to share, the joy of sharing, and the peace that comes from giving. One twin gets the favored stool in the morning, and the other at night. The Sharpie has become my best friend and I use it to mark the owner’s initial on toys, in order to keep track of what belongs to whom. They can no longer lie about that. The child who owns a desired item has exclusive rights to whether that item is shared. Of course, they usually don’t want to share their toys, but with positive guidance through scripture and God’s gracious love for us, they eventually make the right choice. There are times when they just can not be moved to share, and if it belongs to them, I let it be.
There is an inner joy that comes with sharing. I can see in their countenance that when they give in to their selfishness, they really aren’t very happy. It is my intent to give this feeling a name, maybe guilt? They need to know the difference between these two feelings, so they will learn that God’s way is best, because of the inner peace and joy they will have when following Him. We are relational beings created to fellowship with each other and our Creator. My children are most happy when they play together. This is the environment I intend to foster, by the grace of God.

Hebrews 13:16
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

1 Timothy 6:18
They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,