Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shining His Light...
and breaking statistics.

This is a testimony (of sorts) about broken families and God's love.

I was raised in a broken home.
My dad was a druggie.
My 1st step-dad was a drunk.
My mom, although young & naive & making poor decisions,
was always loving. She always did the best she could do in the circumstances she found herself (& I) in.
Which led to my being raised in my teens by a single, hard working mom.
In turn, I helped my mom raise my little sister.
We are 11 yrs apart, and the best of friends.

As an adult, my own family began in a broken state.
A rushed marriage, a wanted child, and a much needed divorce found me all at the age of 22.
My blessing in the rubble of the choices I made, was my first born son, Joey.
Another disguised blessing came when this son was about 8 months old.
I met my dear husband Fred.
He also came from a broken home.
We entered a marriage not knowing what marriage was, or even what love was for that matter. We "knew" we loved each other, but it would take many years to truly begin to know what that really meant.

After years of walking away from Christ, or atleast neatly tucking Him away so I could do all the fun things I thought I needed to do, I found my way back around to Him again. Years later, Fred, within his own journey, came to be saved.

Our son Joe had been raised in a loving family, but he knows, remembers, our non-Christ-filled days. We also opted to let him go through the public school system via his own request. (Since this blog shares much about our homeschool journey, I figured I should share that.)

Many things we have cared, shared, & mentored to this specific son. After all, he is the guinea pig of our parenting, right? We were both raised w/ loving moms, but this newer experience of having a Father to help guide us, put us on a learning curve. We have listened to God earnestly, and have learned much, and we have continued to share the values placed in our hearts to all our children.

1. God cares, we matter.
2. Walk the walk; don't just talk the talk.
3. Always shine His Light in all circumstances.
4. Are you going to be a statistic? You know, the one that gives the ridiculous high percentage to say that children that are raised in a Christian home will walk away from their beliefs somewhere between 18 and 22?

Our Joe is now 22.
In high school he ran into little trouble (although not a perfect child, lol), and made tough decisions that took me awhile to realize. One being that when one of his bestest childhood friends (whom came from a fabulous Christian home) began to make poor choices (ie partying) our son chose to hang out with different friends. One friend he hung out with was not a Christian, but a great kid none-the-less. His name... Chris.

Well, I am pleased to say that not only has our son broke the "statistic", but has also been sharing His Light along the way. Chris not only is now a Christian, but it going to seminary for a BA in Theology Pastoral Counseling. *smile*

Here is Chris's attempt at blogging...

I think he is doing a fine job, and it is wonderful to see young men stepping up to make a difference in others lives... even if it is simply to shine His Light.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Our Precocious Princess is at it again...

Katie-girl is always finding things on a whim to do. You know how many kids whine the infamous "I'm bored"...
Yeah, well, my dear daughter always has a way to "find" something to do...

and wants it to be done...NOW.

So today it was to find a new recipe.
She came up with the idea, looked up the recipe, watched a 'how-to' video, printed out the recipe...
...and Viola....

Fortune Cookies
complete with Biblical encouragement.

Friday, May 27, 2011

and what our year looked like...

Go HERE to for the details of what RC is.

This is what RC looks like in our home.

There are no textbooks...
no lapbooks...
no quizes...
nearly no tests (we do have spelling/vocabulary tests).
No more loose papers,
nor stacks of workbooks,
nor stacks of papers to correct,
and no more CHAOS!

What do we do, you ask?

...simply read.

We read good old fashioned books. The quality of the content in these books has opened my eyes at how much the educational system has been watered down over the years, both in education and morals. Not to say that all curriculum out there is bad; I'm just saying that we have found a better choice for our family.

Someone asked about boredom. No thrills, frills, etc... We are only a year into this new journey called RC, but thus far boredom is certainly not something we have ran into. Instead we have discovered that letting go of busy work lets us focus on content, and the quality of the books keep them interested.

Our Classroom Schedule:

1/2 hr writing
1/2 hr English (grammar, punctuation, & vocabulary)
1/2 hr Science
1/2 hr Literature
1 hour Math

1/2 hr French
1/2 hr Fine arts

1 hr history(reading, map work, & sometimes history related activities)
This is intended as a family read aloud. I missed out on so much details of our history, that I am enjoying learning so much more through these quality books.

Fine arts is broken into days:
(this is not RC, but I feel it completes what I want out school years to look like)

Monday is our official Bible lesson,(w/ scripture review the rest of the days)
Tuesday is our composer study.(we continue to listen to the musical piece all week)
Wednesday is our artist study.
Thursday is our poet study.
Friday is our Nature Study.

I do have a scope & sequence I have created to sort the extensive list of books that RC has on a list. The original RC way is to just simply start reading at the beginning of the book list, and work your way through. They do have different "levels" as you go through, but they are not to be considered grade levels as the easier books can be challenging in content at level 1 for a typical 1st grader, and level 12 is more of a college level reading. Non-the-less, I wanted an guideline to go by. So I sorted books by not only levels, but topics (subjects), and tried to find common ideas amongst the topics & grade level put together.

I will share the scope & sequence on a following post, along with how we implement the McGuffey Readers that are provided in the Robinson Curriculum.

What about the cost of printing & binding books?
I like printing out the books. Admittedly, many books can be found in the local city library. Many folks opt for e-readers and download all the books from the RC list for free.

Our printer was worth the investment; binding for me is pennies (duct tape & staples);
ink & paper are a cost, but compared to the money I was using for this curriculum or that, or this workbook or that, or this cool new method or that, the $$$ we will save in the long run for this quality education is far worth it! For me, I will be getting 41 years worth of education out of this curriculum (counting each students years left in home education)...discs, printer, ink, paper, staples, duct tape, & few late fees at a library might eventually add up to a $1000 over the years, but that is one inexpensive route in the long run.

And if I am really blessed, I will be able to pass it along to my own grandchildren some day...

education is a legacy worth leaving, eh?
End of the Year Wrap Up...

sort of...

While L.I.F.E. Academy is wrapped up for the 2010-2011 school year...

Learning w/ the Littles will continue...

Mainly because we aren't finished in..

we've only gotten to letter Mm so far this year. The alphabet needs to be finished, right?

Admittedly, the littles were a bit overlooked while we wrapped up Nick's final year of highschool.

Ofcourse, don't feel too sorry for those lil brothers as they've had their fair share of fun. *smile* I figure summer is a great time to finish up our ABC activities. I will take advantage of the nicer weather (when it gets here) to do outside lessons.
They won't be as formal as our usual planned year, as we are preparing to move in a few weeks,

but we will have lots of fun
all in the name of learning.

Friday, May 20, 2011

in the

I decided to take the littles for a walk around the block. It is only about 1/3 mile, but there is plenty to observe in this simple neighborhood in the city.

Katie liked the fushia azalea's;
the boys liked the gray and white rocks.

Seashells were a treasure found.

We thought this was a pretty fabulous Japanese Maple.

And we learned all about detours...

Interesting enough, we covered many topics in our 30 min walk...

Bryson liked a variety of rocks; pebbles, stone walls, red rocks, gravel...

Andrew noticed the clear blue sky, felt the breeze, noticed the warmth of the sun when we would walk out of a shady spot, and heard birds chirping & planes traveling by; can you tell he is my sensory boy?

Katie tried to name the few birds we saw; crows, grosbeaks, & a hawk.

Halfway through our walk she spotted the hawk. By the time we got in front of our house, there was quite the "sky war" going on between the crows (a lot of them) and the lone hawk. Our hypothesis was that the hawk was too close to home for some baby crows.

Not so sure I'm excited about more crows around here. Last year were enjoyed many birds in our backyard; starlings, robins, grosbeaks, & hummingbirds were common. Well, over the winter, we made those peanut butter pinecone bird feeders AND those stinkin' crows not only ate at the feeders, but took the whole pinecone at one time! It took a dozen or so attempts, but off they flew with their new feast!

We also enjoyed a moment in someones rock garden =)

This was a fabulous after-lunch stroll, and we are thrilled with a little bit of beautiful weather!

So, what's in your neighborhood?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


About us:
We began our home-
journey 9 yrs ago, and we love it! To get a quick recap of those previous years, go HERE

This year we homeschooled:
Nick- a senior
TJ- an 8th grader
Katie- 3rd grade

Andrew- kindergarten
Bryson- TOT school

First, I want to share a post I placed on the Robinson Curriculum group recently~

"Does anyone else read TOS (The Old Schoolhouse) Magazine? I use to read it a lot. Great folks. Helpful ideas. I have gleaned fabulous information from them for 10 years now...
but guess what? Today's topic from the Homeschool Minute?
~Choosing Curriculum For Your Kids~
and what could interest me about that?
NOT having to read it!

I am doin' the Happy Dance...

and singing

"I'm free, I'm free, I'm free,
Thank God we've found RC!"

And that is exactly how I feel. *smile*

Here is a letter I shared with someone who wanted a sincere opinion of the Robinson Curriculum.

"Dear Friend,

May I be completely honest with you? Indeed, I found much more than I expected through RC. I am stunned at the quality content of the books. I, personally, have learned more from reading a few of the History Autobiographies (on the booklist), than from my full 12 yrs in the public school. All those years glossing over the facts every holiday *sigh*...

Here have been the effects of RC in our home in the past year...

ds 17- struggled for years with reading comprehension and became a reluctant reader. He has read more books (willingly) this year than all his previous years put together. The lack of pressure to do fact checks, quizes, tests, worksheets, etc, left him to actual just read; to get lost in the story w/o the fuss of the other stuff.

ds 14 is our reluctant writer. I couldn't pull a sentence out of this child; I tried multiple writing programs, all w/ rave reviews, and he continually looked like a frightened deer staring into the headlights...currently we have slowly progressed from copywork to random writing on his own. I never realized the importance of copywork (I though it was about penmanship, oy!). Most importantly, his attitude has been positive w/ this approach.

dd 9 is a voracious learner =) The girl is devouring books as quick as she can. The intelligence of the books are displayed in her vocabulary. These books are of quality content from the very beginning; do not underestimate the earlier part of the list if you have older students.

ds 6 (kindergarten) has Asperger's thus this direct and simple approach has been best for him. Ofcourse he is just beginning this journey so his *time* requirements are much lower thus far.

After gaining some real structure and calmness to our days (I am of the over-planning kind of mom) by RC's simple, yet effective format, I can truly say we have gained much more from our education this year! A few hundred dollars investment for a lifetime of education is astounding. I now view (from my own perspective; not judging others) conferences, and curriculum fairs, and homeschool catalogs, and other curriculums as mass money makers. Oh sure, they provide and offer what they say they do; I am not particularly against any one of them; yet so much fluff, and complication, and rules, and continued purchases are in my past now, and I am thankful not only to the quality of my children's education, but that I can also be a good steward of my husbands hard earned paychecks. "

So there's my perspective ;^)

I will follow up with a post of how we implemented The Robinson Curriculum to our daily life, along with a few other details...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


The move~ the final chapter?

What a journey the last 2 years have been!

I was very comfortable in our small hometown...
maybe too much so?

God led us to new adventures...
and we followed.

Nothing glamorous or fancy,
just simple lessons and new opportunities to learn from.

For my newer readers,
we went from tiny town to big city.
We had a comfortably large home w/ hot tub & swimming pool, and plenty of space,
to invading loved ones homes with all-of-us while our belongings stayed in storage.
The move came due to a job expansion.
The reasons for our chosen housing came for different reasons...
one was to help financially til a home sold,
followed by the request of my parents to stay with them in their home for a season.

Life Lessons continue:

* Big City Life certainly throws a learning curve at you on a daily basis.
(& no, I am not naive, trust me,
my childhood was full of 'reality checks' of worldly situations).

* Our "family" continues to stay bonded through the changes.

* I had the opportunity to really focus on what I wanted our children to get from homeschooling.

* Katie-girl received 2 years of Ballet in a wonderful home setting.

* I have gotten the chance to really get to know my (step)dad. He's a great guy.

* Thanks to my dear sister-in-law, we were taught 2 years of French; something we will continue to practice.

* Nick experienced soccer at a highly competitive level, and thrived.

* Material stuff is optional, family is not. =)

* My husband is my best friend. I have really good friends, some are quite priceless. Yet I am grateful that God has given me my perfect life-mate.

* I have learned that circumstances change, but life always continues. We make it what it is with our attitude....

* Grandparents are precious, and Aunties are very giving with their time and talents.

* Church is what you make it.

With all these lessons under our belt, changes continue...

We are moving back to our small hometown. My husbands job continues, and we are grateful. The house we are to make our home is modestly large and eloquent. Not having the 7 of us living out of 2 rooms shall be interesting *smile*, the littles think this is normal. =)

I am still pondering the use of a "family closet".
Ofcourse it would be on a bigger scale than our wee survival mode one we've adapted to. Got any links or ideas for this, please do share!

We are in full swing of *social* planning;
co-ops, sports, & volunteering at VBS are all knocking at my door already.
I love these things, but am very well aware that I will need to prayerfully think out our days, and plan according to our individual needs as well as nurturing our bond as a whole.

All in all, I am excited to be a part of community again, all the while remembering to slow down, exhale, and appreciate the small, simple moments that seem to whisper by....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Homeschool Year End State Testing Day!

My kids (on left) are always happy on test day. It means it is the last day of school before summer break*.

Our dear friends (on right) have been testing alongside us for many years. I have to admit there is something relaxing about seeing friendly, familar faces, which makes the "drive" worth it. When we moved to Washington (state) 2 yrs ago, the laws & requirements for us changed quite a bit, but the required 'test' was still the same, thus I choose to go to our familar testing center (a church in our small hometown).

All was not as usual this year though. We have been doing the CAT (California Achievement Test) for the past 9 years. This year, however, they threw us a curve ball and banned the CAT for the Terra Nova Test. In general, that is fine, but for a student that already struggles with testing, this is not so fine.

For my readers whom also homeschool, do you do testing? If so, what is your families attitude towards it? We do testing because it is required. I find it rather vague in exposing knowledge, but rather to know how to take the (a) test. The test does not reflect intelligence. After all, many of us parents have graduated from highschool, a few of us have a few years of college underhand also.... so, years later, does it really matter what a predicate nominative or reflexive pronoun is? Better yet, diagramming sentences? Really, is that even necessary?

My kids are graded on:
obedience~ to do their work that is required, and in a timely manner.
quality~ Neatness and effort matter.
attitude~ the kids don't necessarily have to like what we are learning, but respect for education is a must.

We are on summer break*. Technically anyways. ;^)

Our "school" year begins the first monday of August. We follow a 9 weeks on, 2 weeks off outline. With 4 quarters in our official year we usually wrap up our year by mid May. Thus our summer lasts about 8- 10 weeks. Interestingly enough, in the summer we still read, practice math, and do an abundance of science & nature projects, all in the name of *fun*

What do your summers look like?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bryson is "3"
Grandpa is "60"

Grandma made the cake;
Katie-girl helped decorate it.

I was in charge of finding candles

The guys had fun opening their presents.

I think Grandpa had more fun "buying" Bryson's present.

I had suggested to my parents that Bryson would probably enjoys nuts & bolts. Yes, real ones. He is fascinated with stuff like that. I figure it would be great for hand dexterity too, eh?

Bryson got a "real" toolbox, with real tools; a mallet, nuts & bolts, tape measure, 2 stubby screwdrivers, and a crescent wrench. Grandma guided the reins a bit when he started looking at magnetic tool sets *grin*. Today the tape measure was the biggest hit...our own version of 'Bob the Builder' pictures are sure to come....

As for Grandpa, I took the boys with me to go shopping for Grandpa's present. He wanted slippers; he got slippers. Not very exciting, but the shopping trip was priceless. Bryson proudly carried the slippers to the cashier's counter, and Andrew beamed at having the money to pay.

I really do love our simple life!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


This is our last week of school...

and much of the final studying has been with math. Our reading & writing skills have greatly improved this year due to the effectiveness of the curriculum we began this year. (I'll share my rave reviews at a later date)

So, what do the littles do while we are going over all things MATH...

enjoying some good treats....

Enjoying leggos...

Practicing being on 'target'....

and building messes, er,
lincoln logs. *smile*

We have a busy week of activities amongst our studying...

Katie has a few Camp Fire meetings & ballet rehearsals, then we are headed to our hometown for the kids to take their State Testing. Oregon & Washington provide the same test requirements, thus I take the kids where they are familiar. The upside to this is that we are hoping to put a deposit on a home while we are there! Yay! At this point we do not have a Plan B, so please pray that all goes smoothly.

On top of all that, Grandpa's birthday is friday, and Bryson will be 3 on Saturday, in which we will be at brother #2's soccer game, followed by a day of purging through our storage unit. (We have rummaged through much to *find* things, so I need to pack neatly again)... so we will be having our birthday parties on Monday!

I have many post ideas swirling in my head, just not the time to get to it quite yet... expect me to be a bit more chatty in days to come...

...and to ramble off on a fun note...

I was able to get connected with a new pen pal via a good friend.
This is from a blog that has followers all over the world, and my sweet pen pal was hooting and howling and giggling when I sent her my name & address, in which I responded with the same hooting and howling and giggling.... as we live about 15 minutes from each other! *hee*

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


T.J. is a fabulous 14! ...and as usual, we have a shortage of birthday candles, so once again we are creative...

Hey, give us a break... he didn't seem to mind. =)

We are always proud of our creative wrapping paper. Like his puzzled face? Hmmm, what lurks behind the plain white tissue paper?

hehe, everything works better with duct tape *grin*

...really.... this is no easy task....

yet in the end, TJ is very happy to receive a new controller for his video games. Littles brother plays with the old one, so now they don't have to *always* share.

TJ is a joy to have around. He takes responsibility seriously. He is adaptable to situations. He willingly interacts with the littlest brothers when they seem to get bored; they love playing with him. He is my walking partner, and we have great every-day-type talks about life, current events, education, the future, sports, etc... He loves to fish, cook, & play video games. I am looking forward to his highschool years, we are gonna have fun!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Random Update:

* I will continue my Happiness 101 journey.
Here is (# 40)

I may have fun with all my boys, but my dear daughter knows how to melt my heart.

* Our house hunting continues... this is a very exhausting process as I spend all week gleaning homes, then the week-end we take the day trip down to look at those homes...and...nothing has been productive. There is hope though, as I am in contact w/ a lady from our hometown area who is looking for renters...yay... the size, area, and cost are perfect... so do pray that she likes us. =)

* I won't be posting a l.i.f.e. Academy outline for this month. Basically we are just wrapping up the details of last month, and reviewing for our year end State Testing.

* ditto for Learning w/ the Littles. Although, Andrew has shown much more interest in reading AND writing... yay! We are just playing random phonic-type games for now, along with some reading time. We are slowly packing up our school books to get ready for our move, thus life will be our lessons for awhile.

* Our Monday trips for Campfire & French lessons are wrapping up in a few weeks. We have loved our 2 years of French study; it has been a fun family study.

* I am looking forward to Mother's Day. With 5 boys and a non-romantic husband (no worries, I knew what I was getting myself into, lol), I don't expect much in the flower, card, & chocolate category. But what I do get is a full day of yard work out of everyone! This is priceless to me, as I love the jumpstart to face our summers. This year we will be blessing my mom by doing her yard. =)

*Guess what? While we were down hunting for homes, our Nick had a soccer game, AND it was sunny! AND I got burnt... on my nose, forehead, forearms, a bit on my neck, and my ankles (yes, ankles, I was sitting in the grass and my pants must of been scrunched up??) AND I am not complaining... nope... not at all... real sunshine is much more cheery than that liquid sunshine we have been enduring for months now!

*and speaking of weather... truly we are praying for all the victims of the recent tornado disasters some of the States have endured. It is indeed a crisis, and many people are still missing... May God's grace comfort them all.