Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Treasuring a Word in My Heart...

      I'm really enjoying my new Bible study app "She Reads Truth". Right now I'm doing their "Women of the New Testament" study. This morning I read about Jesus's mother who I love to think about what she must have felt and thought with everything she went through. Today's reading contained what's always been one of my favorite phrases in the Bible "Mary treasured all these things in her heart". I just love that phrase as it makes Mary seem like a mom just like me. Of course, knowing me I usually grab my camera as my version of "treasuring in my heart". 

Things like snuggling with a new kitten:
A rare dinner date with my two wild and crazy guys:
Seeing my oldest patiently read with one of my youngers (believe me, as much as they fight I was definitely treasuring THIS moment up in my heart!):
But sometimes, I will pause in a moment and tell myself that I need to soak a great moment in and commit to never forget. I understand Mary and her need to treasure moments.
But today, my Bible study pointed out that she treasured these things, these promises of God, so she could pull them out when she wasn't so confident:

When she was being reviled for her pregnancy.
When she was giving birth in a stable.
When she had to flee to a foreign land amid the cries of other mothers whose babies were being slaughtered.
While she searched for THREE days for her 12 year old.
While she watched Him be rejected in their own home town.

And finally, as she stood at the foot of the cross upon which hung her baby boy. If ever a woman needed a treasure it had to be in that moment. So she pulled out those promises as an assurance to her that even this was part of God's plan and would work out as it should in the end.

When I have talks with my stressing self, a lot, I have to tell myself the saying "don't doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light". Mary is a shining example of that because there hasn't been a darker time than the cross when God turned His face away from Jesus- and even more so if that was your child hanging there. I'm not saying that Mary didn't doubt or didn't fear then, but the fact that she didn't curl in the dust and die herself, as I might have done if it were one of my boys, shows me that she was holding tight to her "treasure"!

I've had some "foot of the cross moments" this summer at the hospice bedside of my precious mother-in-law. Those faith-trying moments when you see someone you love suffer so much that you believe in God's promises of life after death and beg Him to come get her. Yeah, I was squeezing onto some treasure for dear life in those moments. Perhaps, a little like Mary, His promises were the only thing keeping me from completely curling into a ball and giving into complete despare.

I love thinking about scripture, the thoughts and feelings of these heroes of the faith. But I also am asking myself what this means for my life. Right now my days and hours are revolving around homeschool planning. So, today my thoughts went immediately to how treasuring relates to that. I know without a doubt that God called our family to homeschooling because I certainly would never have dreamed up something so crazy- heehee (here's my post about the first confirmation he gave me). 
But then there are those days. The ones where the enemy tells me I'm screwing up my children's entire lives because I'm not doing enough. Yeah, I hate those days. So, I've always repeated my dark and light saying to talk myself off that cliff. But now I'm going to be more like Mary. I'm going to stop and pull out the promises God made to me and hold them up to my current struggle to show myself (and silence the voice of the enemy) that even though things may seem hard right now that God's got this and it will work out in the end. 
What could be a greater treasure?

Reasons I Love CC #16......Essentials Chart Copying- EXTREME Version....

An important part of Classical Conversation's Essentials program (and classical education in general) is copying to learn. Our Essentials notebook has these great charts which break down all the Essentials (hence the name) of grammar. They are encouraged to copy at least one chart a day.

Our awesome Essentials tutor came up with a great idea to challenge the class to set a goal of how many charts they could copy. Their class of 12 was up to 450 in less than a month! It was so impressive!

She also had a mom chart copying contest. It was so hard for me to find time to copy charts, but it was well worth it. I have learned so much in Essentials class and I'm an English major! Once I started copying charts myself I really learned what an effective way to learn that was. I have to confess I may have had doubts about if simple copying was an effective method to learn.

Why do I keep doubting? 

I truly learned everything at a deeper level by chart copying! I'm determined to incorporate copying into other areas of things we need to learn which right now is Latin declensions!!!
The best part of the contest was it motivated my daughter to copy charts
We had some intense competitors in her class who copied more than I ever could've imagined possible (they have to have carpal tunnel!) which discouraged my daughter who struggles with writing.
Enter the "Extreme Chart Copying" part of the competition! They had to copy charts in weird places and text the pictures to their tutor. The kids L.O.V.E.D. it. Our Essential's tutor (being the genius that she is) awarded that prize to kids who weren't able to copy massive amounts for different reasons so everyone ended up being recognized and celebrated.

We had fun thinking of places to copy charts, and it helped me feel less guilty about running errands during school hours :)
to the phone store:
to Walmart:
watching Dr. Who, cough, cough....
We both couldn't wait to go find some extreme places at my grandmother's farm.
Like the roof:
where she was a little nervous :)
and then, of course, my dad had to lock her out and she became a LOT nervous!
The roof might have won her the contest, but the outhouse sealed the deal!
Yes, my dad has an outhouse, but luckily for her it's more for a conversation piece than use!
She was doing all of this with my dad who was loving it as much as she did (I get my "grab the camera" instinct from him!).
It was nice to not have to nag her about chart copying and to see her get so into it! Of course, with the moms competing too she nagged me quite a bit, but it was so cool to do it together. I still stand amazed that I learned so much from copying, and feel old that my hand hurt so much after copying just one chart!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Reasons I Love CC #1.....It Works!

My daughter chose Clara Barton to research and do her Faces of History report for Essentials (CC's grammar, math and writing program). Therefore, I decided to read aloud a book about her to everyone. We chose the Heroes of History version. They decided to play Legos while I read. I learned early on in my homeschooling career that kids listen better when they can keep their hands busy. Of course, sometimes I wonder if they are really listening, but every time I ask them a question they repeat back the exact words I said!
When I first learned about Classical Conversations I wondered about all the memorization they do. My public school teacher self wondered if that was just the lowest form of learning. Boy was I wrong! It was explained to me that when kids memorize facts it gives them a peg to hang any knowledge they come across upon. I have seen how much my kids are learning this year, but today I really got to see it in action.

We were on the chapter about Clara Barton's service during the Civil War. I could hardly read for the boys interrupting me excitedly saying, "I know about that!" They started spouting off their history sentences about Lincoln, Lee, and the Civil War. They truly understood it more because they already had a basic understanding of the big picture of that time period. Plus, because it sounds familiar to them and they are proud to know about it, they are instantly engaged. 
This was such a great time. They loved this book so much that they have begged me to order some more Heroes of History biographies! It was so wonderful to get such a confirmation that this method truly works and that my kids are flourishing with the classical method!

A Perfect Day...

I'm ashamed to admit that way too often as a homeschooling mom I listen to my doubts and insecurities (which certainly don't come from my heavenly father) and think I'm the worst mom/teacher ever. No days are perfect, and we should never expect them to be no matter how perfect other moms look on their blogs :) BUT sometimes, you have one of those days where you think you are really rocking this homeschool thing!
Ours all started when my daughter was invited to spend the weekend with her bestie (who recently moved to London!) at her grandmother's house. Her face looked something like this:
After we took big brother to his Challenge B class and sister to her weekend get away, it was just me and these two cuties. Since their older siblings' schoolwork can be so challenging that they need me, I feel like these two get the shaft sometimes. That just made me even more excited to have this alone time with them.
There were some American history books that go along with CC cycle 3 that I wanted to read to them. I had read them to my older kids when they were younger so since they had already heard them this was a great time to read them. They worked on puzzles while I read to them. We read two entire chapter books: The Bears on Hemlock Mountain and Sarah Witcher's Story! They listened and were really into them the whole time. It was epic! I may have called my husband to brag.
We love our All About Spelling program, but the boys aren't thrilled when I pull out a big stack of their review cards for them to read. So, today I tried something different. I made a little path of them, and they drove their cars and jets on them. In order to move on they had to read the words on the cards.
We got through more cards than ever before!

Will especially gets overwhelmed when faced with a large stack of cards, but he really got into this. Any time I can find something super active for him he does so much better.

Next, we did not one but TWO Saxon math lessons!
The first one had pattern blocks- their all-time favorite manipulative.
They will play with these things for an hour. Wesley made a deer.
I can't remember what animal he built, but he was super proud of it.
And then it's fun to play with the bag....
Our 2nd lesson was on weighing so I made these little boxes with different items in them. They had to measure and determine which ones were the heaviest.
They did really well with this and worked well as a team.
I love watching them do their Saxon worksheets. It brings back such memories of when we started homeschooling and I did these with their big bro.
We had an ideal homeschooling day together. Then big brother got home and this happened...
Now you see why we don't get as much done when he's home......

Reasons I Love CC #39; Presentation Time...

Every week in Classical Conversations the kids give a presentation. The tutors give topic suggestions, but you can choose what you want your kids to present about. As the director I am popping in and out of classrooms so I don't always get to see my kids' presentations. This day I made it a point to see them because they were so excited about them.

This is Will telling all about his Blue Angels jet. He was so cute I could eat him up!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reason #68 I Love CC: Fall Break...

So, here I am at my happy place for my birthday, no less. We aren't even missing school which is such a blessing. 
Despite how this picture looks, the beach was not very crowded (vacationing in the off season is one of my favorite things about homeschooling). It was just what we all needed to refresh ourselves and be together as a family.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Challenge B: an Answered Prayer...

When we first decided to change from our tutorial we had been at for 4 years, our son was a little worried. A few of his friends were also returning to public school, so he even mentioned that for the first time ever. He's also very much like me in that change makes me nervous (when we were looking for a new church one time my husband called me a church chicken!). I so wanted him to be happy in his Challenge group. I was also worried he would rebel against all the hard work.

So, my husband and I began praying about it. We prayed fervently all summer that he would make new friends and enjoy Challenge B. They had a few get-togethers that seemed to help, but I was still worried that the work load would turn him off.

Then class started. I was a little nervous after the parent meetings and looking at the assignments, but he wasn't at all. He loved it. Sometimes I wish he'd be a little more stressed just so it would light a fire under him to get things done :)

I'm so impressed with everything about the Challenge program. One of best parts is it is such a great blend of schoolwork and a great social outlet. Part of his willingly doing the work is due to peer pressure- but the good kind! I'll take all the help I can get getting him to do his work. He has made such great friends which makes this mommy very grateful.

It's not just the social part though, I can really see the things he's learning beginning to impact him. He has loved both the books, which is saying something for him. Then the ultimate confirmation came last week. We were to leave for the beach Saturday, and Thursday we were joking about jumping in the car and leave early. Jackson said he didn't want to miss school! Really, for the beach???

Then when we were at the beach we were trying to decide what our fun activity would be- renting jet skis or a pontoon boat. Jackson said, "We should make an ANI chart!" He got a piece of paper and wrote down all the Affirmatives and Negatives for renting a pontoon boat. I had to send a picture to his tutor to show her it was soaking in!
My husband and I truly believe that God answered our prayers. Our son is happy and flourishing, and we are reassuringly confident that Challenge B is just what he needed. As everything in CC, it has been a great blessing to our family.