Transition Update for May and June

Hello sweet friends!
This week has been a long one, with lots of ups and downs, for both the guys in Virginia as well as here in Florida with me and the kids. 
We received an offer (a very low offer) from an investor on our house that is for sale. We decided not to take the offer.

God is so GOOD!

At the very last minute (seriously, the day we took the house off the market and realized we were going to lose it through foreclosure) we received an offer to rent instead of sell.

The amazing part is that the renters were looking for temporary accommodations because of construction happening at their own house, so the insurance paid 3 months UPFRONT including deposits! So we are able to pay the past due balance on the mortgage as well as fund our travel to Virginia and get set up there.

This past week in Virginia…

Kris (my husband ) and Mike (my oldest son) have started placing some important pieces on the puzzle of the property. 

1. They have continued to clean up the cabin and the land and prepare for us to come. They have widened and cut paths, clearing out tall grass and cutting back the encroachment of the forest.
2. They built a small bridge over a very mucky area that was in the path down to the cabin. They dug out a small bed to let the water flow under the bridge. This is just a small step in making the area safer.
3. A contractor came to look at the layout of the land to help Kris understand what is possible for laying a pad for the rv to park. This guy, Mike, was very helpful! He let us know how we can lower the cost by doing some of the work ourselves and what would be necessary for Kris to do before Mike can start the work.
4. They got all the lanterns working properly so they can have light once the sun goes down. This is a huge morale booster for them!
5. They got a temporary shower installed so they can stop bathing in the pond, which they are very grateful for.
6. They have begun planning on where to set up a proper bathroom system and getting the list of supplies necessary to build it this coming week.
7. They scheduled a well company to come out this coming week to search the property for well placement and to test the ground. This is a HUGE step in preparing for us to join them!

Here in Florida

We have continued our life as normal.

1. We went on a field trip to the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences and had a great week at homeschool 
2. We had fun at the park getting out some energy and getting our Physical Education Outing for the week 
3. Trayce and Daelynn visited with their friends to prepare to say goodbye 
4. Elijah spent the night with Gran E., Kris’ mom. They went out to eat and enjoyed the pool!
5. We all went swimming and enjoyed the company of our dear hosts (where we are parked currently)
6. Trayce and Daelynn volunteered with a local theater. They helped run concessions, took tickets and helped with seating, and helped in cleanup afterwards.
7. I started working on sewing a new dress from some extra fabric. The neckline didn’t come out correctly and I have to rework that today
8. Elijah officially learned to swim, culminating in 2 swimming trips without his floaty. He is so overjoyed about this and we are very proud of him!

And last, but not least…

we just uploaded a new VLOG on YouTube! Make sure to check it out! (Link below) I give a  short tour of our travel trailer, discussing how to think differently about organization in a tiny space. And Trayce gives a mini-tutorial on making a sourdough starter. (If you want specific directions on the starter just pop me an email or message and I can get more info for ya). 

I am working to finish my blog post for the week. In continuing my “Simple Devotion Series” I discuss how I simplified parenting. Keep you eyes peeled for that. Hopefully it will be finished this weekend!
We pray that  you have an amazing week this coming week and that you will be blessed!
Much Love,
Kris and Brandy
Here’s a link to the VLOG
You can also access it easily from our website. 

Homeschool Under Government Threat

If you are a fellow homeschooling family, I urge you to keep your eye on this situation. I am not a Illinois or Idaho resident, but laws like this one being proposed are a threat to all of us. I completely understand the heart behind this is safety of the children, and I wholeheartedly support efforts to keep children safe, however treating parents as criminals with no reason behind it completely goes against the grain of freedom that our great country stands for. How can the government be allowed to require welfare checks from social services 4 times a year for families that have never been inquired upon as being neglectful or abusive? An even bigger question is how can we protect children who are being abused under the false flag of homeschooling while also protecting the freedom of legitimate homeschooling families? Please let me know your thoughts below.

Check out this new legislation.

www.lifesitenews.com/mobile/news/state-lawmakers-target-homeschoolers-for-intrusive-in-house-visits-without

A Slow Day with Fibromyalgia

Well I knew this day would come when Kris told me to pull the kids out of public school for good.

This morning I woke up around 7 am and I could feel the heaviness in my body and the fogginess in my mind.

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

If you don’t have fibromyalgia then it’s hard to explain, but if you do it’s a feeling we know all to well. The best way to describe it is how you feel that first day you wake up with a legitimate case of the flu. Not a bad cold, the REAL flu. Your body feels like it weighs a thousand pounds, every movement takes all the effort you can muster, and your mind feels like it has been drugged. It’s almost like you can’t see clearly or think clearly. EVERYTHING is a huge effort, even just getting out of bed.

So this morning that’s how I woke up feeling. Most times when a fibro-sufferer wakes up in a flare (that’s what we call these episodes) we just go back to sleep. This morning Trayce came in my room, checking on me since it was already 2 hours past when we’ve been starting our school day. My entire bed was wet, along with my hair and clothes, from the sweats I get with the flares. I knew today was one of those days that I struggle just to exist.

Thank God that I gave the kids instructions ahead of time for how to function when mommy has bad days. Daelynn and Trayce went ahead and made breakfast for themselves and for Elijah. They cleaned up a little and did their morning chores. Trayce let me know that he went ahead and did some of his math and some of his grammar that he didn’t need help on.

Planning ahead of time for the bad days has been one of those things that I’m so grateful that I did BEFORE it happens.

Another thing I do to prepare is how I lay out my meal plans each week.

flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

I plan each week to cook dinner for two days in a row. On the third day we have “leftover night” or “find your own food” night. I have a large family and so I make large amounts of food. We usually always have left over food from dinner. So on every third day we pull out everything in the fridge from the last two nights and warm it all up for dinner. In the case that dinner was a hit and there’s not much left over it becomes a “find your own food night “. On those nights pretty much anything is up for grabs that isn’t needed for dinner on other nights. Think sandwiches, cereal, oatmeal, etc.

food biscuits snack sliced

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This system has been such a blessing to me because I don’t wear myself out cooking huge meals every single day, as well as how it helps me whenever I’m not feeling well. Any of the bigger kids can handle warming up food or making sandwiches. Even Elijah can pour himself a bowl of cereal or make himself a sandwich.

red strawberry and raspberry on white ceramic bowl

Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

I feel like teaching our kids how to do simple things for themselves as well as having conversations beforehand to prepare them for what is expected of them even if mom isn’t supervising, is a major step in teaching them self-sufficiency and maturity.

Isn’t it our whole goal to teach them how to be great adults, loving the Lord and serving others unselfishly?

As I sit here in my bed at 1pm I can rest peacefully knowing that I’ve prepared my family well.

If you have fibromyalgia how do you prepare for those bad days? Let’s share some ideas in the comments to help each other out!

Much Love,

Brandy

January Character Study For Our Family

Over the past few months we have seen some changes in our children, and not necessarily for the good. The kids have been arguing much more often among themselves. The attitude of disrespect has been elevated in our teenagers and it has been rubbing off on the younger ones. Kris and I came together and had a long discussion about this in December and made a plan for the New Year on how to rectify this situation. We love the Lord and want our children to grow in discipleship to God as well as to become great examples as they shine their lights into the world.

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Here’s a peek into our plan….

For the month of January we have been studying “Christian Virtues”. The first thing that we do in the morning after breakfast is to pray over our day and thank God for it. After that we all open the Bible and read/discuss different verses on the topics we are discussing. For example, over the last two weeks we have looked at different verses discussing our speech, what our speech should be like, and how important our speech is to God. Everyone is involved in this, even Elijah who can’t yet read the Bible (He sits quietly and listens and I make sure to involve him in questions and explanations) I am the one who leads this devotion in the mornings as part of our school-day (Brandy).

Here are a few of the verses we have looked at in our morning devotions:

Genesis 11:1,7,9 1:27, 2:18-20, Luke 1:20,64- Speech is a gift from God and He is insistent upon our obedience

Genesis 2:18-20- God designed us specifically for speech

Psalm 34:1, 50:23, 145:5 Proverbs 11:11, 14:25, 15:1, 16:24, 25:11-13, Ephesians 4:14-15- Our speech is to praise God. When we speak it should be to encourage and uplift others. Our speech should glorify God and so we shouldn’t misuse this gift

Psalm 10:4,6,11 James 3, Ezekiel 35:12-14 Romans 1:21, Proverbs 11:9, 12:18, 18:8 Matthew 12:34-35- Our speech is to be pure, not  cause division or be immoral. We should not complain and argue. 

Nehemiah 1:1-11- We should use our speech to communicate with God in prayer (Jesus is our example. Look at how many times he left the crowds to go and pray. If he had to stay in direct communication with the Father, how much more important should it be to us?)

After school is finished I spend some extra time with Elijah about different ways to use these lessons in his life. I have chosen to use our reading time for this. Here are a few of the books that we have been looking at to go along with this study. He has really enjoyed them and I can definitely see the change in his behavior after this time together.

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Your local library will usually have a section on manners and being a good citizen. You can ask the librarian to help you find this section. We have really enjoyed reading these types of books together. I have about 5 different books about praise to God and His great creations (which I encourage Elijah to notice and thank God for). I also have about 5 books on manners, such as not interrupting, being respectful, bullying, etc. It has been really good because I can link these things back to our speech lesson from the morning devotion. The “Praise the Lord, My Soul” book is just beautiful!!

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In the evenings, after dinner, Kris leads the family devotion time. This one is a little over Elijah’s head for understanding but he has enjoyed sitting, listening, and asking questions.

In this study we have been looking at the different Christian Virtues in the Bible. This includes Devotional Life, Love and Compassion, Contentment and Stewardship, Humility, Speech, Purity, Honesty, Faith and Trust, Obedience, and Christian Service. 

Kris has each person look up a verse listed and read it out-loud, then we all discuss it and answer any questions listen in the study for that verse. We take turns doing this so that everyone has practice looking up verses and reading.

Here is a link to the study we have been using. Even though it’s from a different denomination than we are a part of, it has EXCELLENT coverage of these Biblical topics! You can either order a copy of the booklet, or you can use the free PDF version and print it out.

The biggest evangelism and discipleship assignment that Kris and I currently have are our children. We cannot assume that in just two hours of church a week that they are receiving all the Biblical knowledge that they need. Teaching our children about God is OUR JOB and it goes hand in hand with the church.

photo of child reading holy bible

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

But be careful to not just teach- You must also LIVE IT in front of them.

I hope this helps inspire you to dig into a deeper study of the Scriptures with your family. Have fun learning and making necessary changes together as one.

What are you currently studying with your family? Leave me a comment below and help inspire others. 🙂

What Curriculum Do I use?

This is the question I get the most. And it’s probably the topic I enjoy talking about the most. What curriculum do I personally use for our family? Well, I can tell you that this decision did not come lightly! It took YEARS to actually find what is perfect for us. When choosing what curriculum to use, honestly, it’s a very personal decision and one that you probably won’t get right the first time around.

Since we have multiple children homeschooling at the same time at different levels (currently Kindergarten through 10th grade) I decided to go with a curriculum that I can teach one lesson with everyone and then they can complete their assignments at the grade level that they are in. The first few years I did not know that this curriculum existed. I tried soooooooooo many different styles and ways and curriculums (insert eye roll) before finally finding the perfect fit.  Sometime in the near future I will write a post about all the ones I’ve tried and what we thought of them, but for now I will just keep it simple and give you The What, The How and The Why of the one I’ve settled on and LOVE.

What Do I Use?

 

Ok, so we use a one-room-classroom style because trying to do four different lessons for four different kids with 6 different subjects is outrageous! Ain’t nobody got time for that! Much less trying to grade everyone and teach the subjects to the little ones who maybe can’t read the instructions yet. NOPE!

 

The Weaver Curriculum by Alpha Omega Publishers is a Christian unit-study, hands-on type curriculum. The way it works is that every lesson in every subject is Bible based. Everything for that day’s lesson is woven together (hence, “The Weaver”) with the Bible lesson. For example: If you are learning about the great flood in Bible class, you would be learning about the different types of rocks/the rock cycle in Science. For Social Studies you might be learning about ancient culture in Mesopotamia. For Health and Safety you might learn about water safety, and so on from there. 

There are 5 volumes ($75 used/$155 new). Each volume contains Bible, Science, Social Studies/History, Creative Writing, Health, Safety, Art, and Grammar (called Wisdom Words, Spelling/Vocabulary, and Penmanship). Each volume is *approximately* one year’s worth of work (however, most people take a little longer to finish it depending on how in-depth you go into the subjects). If a child started Weaver in the 1st Grade, the next year he would begin Volume 2, and so forth until he reaches the end of volume 5, in which case he would then start back in volume 1 (but would be doing 6th grade work this time)….

…..So my #1 reason for LOVING this curriculum is that you buy it once and that’s it! 

And here’s a link for you to check out Cathy Duffy’s Review of The Weaver. It has a very good description of how it works. 

The Weaver Volume is the structural backbone, a guide, for you as the teacher. “Day-By-Day” (about $55) is a separate book that goes with the volumes as a lesson plan for the teacher. This is only needed if you want to follow their lesson plan. With this curriculum, you decide whether to follow their outline or not…

which brings me to my second reason for LOVING The Weaver- It’s flexible!

Here is an example of the overview for chapter 1 in Volume 1

If your children are really diggin’ learning about the tower of Babel, and languages/communication and Helen Keller- You can stay on that subject and go as deep as you want! (Which is why most people take longer than a year to go through a volume). 

Each volume is broken down in to units, and these units go in chronological order from Genesis through the life of Christ. (To see the specifics on each volume please check out the link above for Cathy Duffy’s review.) So by the time your child has finished high school he will have gotten through the main issues and timeline of the Bible twice and then some. Each unit is broken down into days. So the unit we are currently working on is 12 days long. If I followed the Day-by-Day lesson plans exactly, it would take us 12 school days to get finished with it. 

Here is an example of Lesson 1 Volume 1 in the Day-by-Day

My 3rd top reason for LOVING The Weaver is….No consumables=Less $$$

The Weaver uses resource information for its “book-work” and illustrations. What that means is that you can use anything you want to get the information from- YouTube, the local library, and resources in your personal library to name a few….which means, in essence, it’s FREE! The volumes and Day-By-Days give you what to study and when to study it, as well as ideas on how to study it-your job is to find resources for that topic and present it to your children. I love this because it gives us a good reason (like we need one) to go to the library each week. If we are learning about sound/the ear, communication, and Helen Keller I will get books on a few different levels so that when I teach a lesson on the human ear I will start with a kindergarten level and work my way up. I might read from a kindergarten level book to everyone and then show a video of an ear exam on a healthy ear and then have my middle and high school students jump over to KidsHealth.org to learn about how the ear works on their own and then go ahead and cover Ear Safety for Health class. 

Weaver does give a list of books in each unit that you can use, but most of the ones listed are out of print or difficult to find…But that’s where the flexibility comes in!- Any information covering that topic is just fine whether its books, articles, magazines, YouTube videos, websites, etc is up to you. Cathy Duffy explains this best:

“Each volume of The Weaver gives recommendations for specific books that can be found at the library to be used as supplements. They also offer supplemental resource books that we can purchase. These resource books are from the Usborne line, and also include titles from Milliken Publishing Company that are easier to use as teaching tools. The Milliken books also contain higher-grade-level material that makes them usable with other Weaver volumes and for older children.”

My Fourth reason for LOVING Weaver- Usborne Books! 

Um YEAH! Who doesn’t LOVE these books!? They are so beautiful and engaging. I could go on and on about these books (did anyone say “nerd”). But the great thing is that I don’t have to buy them for this curriculum to work! I can pick them up here and there and use them as I get them added to my library. (I have chosen to go ahead and get a few each time I can so that eventually I will have all of them that are used in The Weaver)

Here’s a chart of the Usborne books used and which volume they are referenced. (I did not buy them all at once, but just got them for whichever ones I need for the volume I’m in)

Weaver Usborne book list

 

What about Math and Reading?

I have FINALLY found our math curriculum! I can’t emphasize that exclamation mark enough. 🙂 It has taken years of painstakingly ordering math resources just to hate it! So much money straight down the drain. *sigh* But I am so happy with the one that I am using now. I love it. It’s straightforward and simple-exactly what we are trying to do! (I only use the math and English(grammar) specifically from this site) Also another HUGE BENEFIT- It’s totally FREE!!

The reason I use the English from this site is because my kids were in the Public School system before and I had to really work with them on math and grammar because they were not at the level I thought they should be. I have chosen for my older kids to use this English curriculum instead of Wisdom Words from The Weaver, however, my youngest kids started with Wisdom Words and so therefore can easily use it (it’s just because of the way that W.W is laid out made it more difficult for me to go back and teach something like it was the first time because it builds on itself each year. If you have a Kindergarten or First Grade student I would definitely use W.W instead of using something else. Why not right?

The reading section is Weaver is left up to you. I personally just let my children pick any book they want from the library and they are to read for 20-30 minutes everyday until High School. I then require 1 hour a day. I don’t do any testing on these books because I want them to learn to enjoy reading. In my opinion, we “test” entirely too much! If the child loves to read, they will read more often and you won’t need to test them!

If you would like to test your children you can always use one of these websites

BookAdventure.com this is like the “Book-It” program used in many public schools but it’s FREE. They do not have every title in a library, so you may want to check first before getting a book and then logging on just to find out that they don’t have the test for it. 

Glencoe Literature Library This has a good selection of the classics and other books. This site provides “a brief description of the novel or play, a list of its related readings, and a link to its individual study guide. Each study guide includes background information and reproducible activity pages for students.” Please note that this is not an online test that automatically checks and grades for you. This site gives a printable that the teacher would discuss and check with the student. 

Finally: LIFE!

All day, everyday I use simple real life situations to use as a teaching moment. Now, I’m not talking about cheezy moments that everyone wishes would end…no, I mean just live life intentionally as best as you can. I don’t always catch those moments, especially on bad days, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t try on every “today” to catch as many as I can.

Everyday activities teach so many things that couldn’t possibly be attained at a tradition school setting. That’s what I love about home-school! We get to decide what they learn and how they learn it. What better way to remember that 3 teaspoons equal a tablespoon than by “accidentally” learning it while helping your mom make cookies a bunch of times around the holidays?

Or by “accidentally” learning about electricity because we went to this awesome convention and caught an amazing presentation on the Tesla Coil.

Children learn by doing, not by memorizing. You can memorize what electricity is. You can memorize measurement conversions….but you don’t truly understand those ideas until you see it, feel it and experience it for yourself.

So I try not to really stress over the little stuff because I know that they are learning far more than the ordinary child that sits still for 7 hours a day and then goes to daycare until close to dinner time. I can pour into them knowledge every time one of those catch-able moments come. And this, my friends, is…

Priceless.

Simple. Easy to use. Cheap or Free.-Cuz that’s the way I roll

If you wanted to look into The Weaver, I must let you know that there isn’t a whole lot of information available online about it. It also isn’t that well-known, but to me it has been the hidden gem of home school! Facebook has a group called the “Unofficial Weaver Curriculum Support”. They have some good information in the files section, as well as curriculum for sale. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any other questions about Weaver or “The Plain and Not So Plain” curriculum that I’ve discussed here. 

NOTE: The Weaver has an added on supplement for grades 7-12 that goes along with the Volumes. They also have a preschool curriculum called Interlock.

Here’s a sample transcript for High School if using The Weaver for 7-12th grades

Weaver HS Credits

 

If you are interested in purchasing and feel confused by all of the information (or lack thereof) on AOP here is my suggestion- Get the Basic Five set to get started on your first year. I got mine used from eBay to save a bunch of money! Teaching Tips and Techniques (included in The Basic Five) has totally transformed the way I go about educating my children. I recommend that book even if you aren’t choosing to use The Weaver.

Please keep your eye out for “My list of Favorite Websites for Home Schoolers” coming soon! And don’t forget to hit the subscribe button before you leave if you would like to be notified when we have a new post.

-Brandy