Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why We Chose to Homeschool

My homeschool book bins for Jman and BG

When I tell someone we homeschool our children, there is usually a list of questions to follow.  I've had a few people ask me why we chose to homeschool, and I'm going to share that answer with you.

First off, I'll start with my husband's and my education background.  I grew up going to public schools my entire life.  I enjoyed school, in fact, I loved high school and college.  I had a great experience.  My husband went to public schools as well, except for Seminary and his other graduate classes, in which he attended a private Christian school.  He would say he enjoyed his schooling.  

We first started talking about homeschooling after hearing stories from friends that were teachers, and other people that were still in high school.  They would talk about kids doing drugs in class, having alcohol in water bottles, the lack of motivation and respect in classrooms, as well as the lack of knowledge one would think kids would know in high school.  We do realize that these could be one time incidents, but the fact that they even happened in public and private schools raised flags on our radar.  

I was still not convinced about homeschooling; my husband was more for the idea than me, until I did some volunteer time at an elementary school in a Title I classroom in north Minneapolis.  North Minneapolis is not one of the nicer neighborhoods in Minneapolis.  The school was in a low-income neighborhood and would be considered a rough neighborhood.  The children I helped were way behind in their reading.  It was a daunting job.  The regular classrooms had over 30 kids in them, and the teachers were not able to spend quality time teaching each subject to each child.  This caused many problems for kids that couldn't keep up or learned in a different way than what was being taught.  The kids were also sent home with massive amounts of homework.  I couldn't believe the size of the 1st and 2nd graders backpacks!  I don't remember having a lot of homework that required taking textbooks home.  After finishing up my volunteer time at that school, I felt more called to homeschooling than ever before.  I do believe God placed me there to feel compassion for those children, pray for them and work on guiding my heart towards homeschooling.

The main reason for our family deciding to homeschool is our values.  Nate and I both decided that we want our children to be filled with Christian values as their hearts and characters are being developed.  I am always amazed at how much they pick up from listening to others speak and watching others interact.  They are little sponges and I want them soaking up Godly virtues.  There was a first grade teacher in Minneapolis that was openly conversing with his students about his homosexual relationship. After hearing this, I knew that I didn't want someone else responsible for my children's education.

We also want our children to get the attention and help they need, when they need it.  I am able to pick up right away when they are having difficulties or getting frustrated.  This will help in the long run, making school enjoyable now and nurturing a love for learning.

As an added bonus, we like having the flexibility to take family vacations when we want to, and use them as specific learning experiences.  There is always a time to learn.

We feel so blessed to have the opportunity and freedom to school our children from home.  It is so awesome to watch the "light bulb" go on as it clicks in their minds, a privilege really.  It is an adventure, with ups and downs, excitements and disappointments, but always with an atmosphere of love.


Monday, October 22, 2012

My Own T-Shirt Quilt

I finally finished my own t-shirt quilt and I am very pleased with how it turned out.  This is my first ever quilting project done for myself.  I have lots of ideas planned for myself, they just aren't in the works yet.


It took me longer than I thought to hand stitch the binding, but it is my own fault for letting it just sit on my sewing table!

I machine quilted in the ditch, down each column and along each row.  Then, I free sewed a little flower close to each corner, following the pattern on the orange material from the front. 
Now that I've finished my quilt, there is little time to enjoy it.  I need to get back to my sister's t-shirt quilt and finish it up, before her birthday in December.  One would think I'd get it done by then, with ample time to spare, but I can be the first to assure you that life happens!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chai Tea Latte Recipe

This is my FAVORITE!

1 c nonfat dry milk powder
1 c powdered non-dairy creamer
1 c French Vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
2 1/2 c white sugar
1 1/2 c unsweetened instant tea
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom

Optional: Spice it up more with 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp allspice, and 1/4 tsp white pepper.

1. In a large bowl, combine the milk powder, creamers, sugar and instant tea.  Stir in spices.

2. In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup at a time, until it's a fine powder.

Above is a double recipe.

3. To serve, stir 2 tbsp Chai mix into a cup of hot water.

Makes about 36 servings.

If you can buy cardamom in the shell, in bulk, and then grind it yourself, it is MUCH cheaper than buying it already ground.  Look around for it.  In MN, I found it in the ethnic food section of our local grocery store, in the bulk bags.  I have yet to find it in bulk down here in TX.  I'm still searching!!



We have had lots of fun this week and last week working on bugs!  We should have been done by now, but we have been struck with illness and took a couple of days off.  We are finally on the mend with the help of antibiotics, an inhaler and some cough medicine.

My kids like bugs if they are not crawling on them or biting them.  Learning about them has helped alleviate some of their concern.  I know they love butterflies, so I eased them in to the topic with an enjoyable bug.  I ordered some Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars from Insect Lore and watched them grow, become cocoons and emerge as butterflies.  My kids LOVE them.  Jman keeps telling me he has new best friends.  Funny boy!

We bought some fresh cut flowers to put in their garden.  Which has turned into the boys telling every checkout person, regardless of where we are, that we have butterflies and they love flowers.  Super cute!  

We had one butterfly perish.  We took it out and examined it.  It was good for them to see the wings, legs and antennae up close.  There is always a teaching moment!

My curriculum this week is the Bug Pack printed from 3 Dinosaurs.  My boys have been enjoying it a lot, especially all of the puzzles.  BG, my 3 year old, has benefited a lot from all of the copy pages, tracing, coloring, counting and cutting pages.  His handwriting is amazing and he loves school time.  I've been collecting a lot of random pages to go with each theme I've planned, but I got most of my bug pages from this particular website.   

That's our school week in a quick nutshell!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fair Day

Last Wednesday, we went to the Four States Fair and Rodeo.  It was Kids' Day, which meant free parking, free admission, free ice cream, bouncers, rodeo demo, petting zoo, cow milking and lots of fun!  Did I mention it was free??

We started by going to a rodeo demo, which was very cool.  My kids loved it!  They had bull riding, barrel racing, bareback riding and cow roping.  They loved the bulls and broncos, but were a little nervous when they came RIGHT by the railing in front of us.

Petting Zoo.  We went through 3 times.  The workers knew us by the end of the day!

The boys finally coaxed this little calf over the 3rd time through.  They kept their arms stretched out until he came over.  It was pretty cute.

 We got to watch a cow get milked with an electric pump.  The guy explaining the process was talking to a bunch of young elementary school students and talked for a LONG time.  He kept telling the kids to be quiet and calm so they wouldn't spook the cow.  Yet, he was the one yelling into the microphone, "Hey! Listen!" and "Look at me!  We're almost done!"  It was a little ridiculous.  My boys did awesome sitting still.  They were not the ones he was yelling at.

Afterwards, they got to try milking a fake cow.  I got down and tried it as well.  The lady supervising the activity liked my milking. "That's the way you do it!"

We had a picnic lunch and finished the day walking around, seeing the rest of the exhibits.  It was a fun day!  After we got home, the boys made the executive decision that we need a cow, a horse, 2 ducks, 3 chickens and a dog.  We better get a bigger yard!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Ashley's Quilt

I've been working on Ashley's quilt and finally have the t-shirts pieced together.  It doesn't take that long, really.  The hard part is picking out the material for the rest of the quilt.  It has been especially hard this time around, because I can't go to the store with Ash.  We're doing it via pictures, which don't always portray the colors just right.  But with a little help from BG and Jman, we have picked out the material!  (Those pictures will be for a future update when I have actually sewed them onto the quilt.)

In the process of cutting out t-shirts.

My stack of shirts.

I separate the shirts into a white pile and a colored pile.  I then begin laying out the quilt top.

This is a picture taken during the sewing process.  I wanted to know what Ash thought of the size.  It was imperative that BG and I try it out to give her a size comparison.  :)

The quilt top finally sewn together.  The border is the next thing on the list.  So far, I love how it looks and the boys think it's great too.  It's always hard to send them once they are done.  The boys think it would look better in their beds...but it isn't hard to persuade them that uncle Nick or Auntie Ash would like the quilt just as much.  Their kind hearts want to send the quilt the minute they realize this.  

I'm hoping to get her quilt finished in the next week.  I got a little side tracked starting my own quilt (which is almost done now!)  That is for next week!  


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Healthy Challenge

My hubby and I decided to get back into shape.  We aren't horribly out of shape, but there is always room for improvement.  We've made the decision to start a weight loss challenge and got a couple of other people involved to keep us all accountable.  Let me tell you, it is tough work, but worth it when you start to see results.

Our goal is to lose a certain percentage of body weight by Christmas.  My goal is 4% and Nate's goal is 10%.  We have started working out diligently on a regular basis and eating healthier, smaller portion sizes.  To be honest, we do not eat a lot of junk food.  I just don't buy it.  But knowing that I can't have sweets now, makes it that more appealing.  Funny how it works that way.   

THIS is what I see every morning when I am getting ready.  So everytime I walk by it, I try to do a pull up.  Yuck.  But I am definitely able to do "more" now than when I started 2 weeks ago!

We are using Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred and No More Trouble Zones DVDs.  To say the least, she definitely gets you working!

I also really enjoy Leslie Sansone's Walk Away The Pounds workouts.  Low impact aerobics are what I need when my knees are giving me a hard time.  Leslie has a great website and blog with workout plans and recipes.  The website is:  I like her meal plans to get an idea of how much I should be eating a day.  Snacking is one of my weaknesses.

Patience and perseverance will help us accomplish our goals.  Nate and I want to be healthy and active for many years to come and teach our children that eating healthy and exercising is important.  There is no time like the present!

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body." - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Grandma

This was a year ago, right after Lulu was born.
Yesterday was my grandmother's 91st birthday!  We call her GG, for Great Grandma Gerry.  Technically, it should be GGG, or Triple G, but it just doesn't roll off the tongue like GG does!  She is an awesome lady who loves the Lord.  I am so blessed to have her as a role model and pillar of strength in my life.  

My kids decided to draw her pictures for her birthday:

Good thing these weren't real cakes.  There was enough "frosting" on them to last a month!

We did wish her Happy Birthday over the phone, but it's not the same as actually being there to sing and give her a hug.  We wish we could have been there to celebrate with her, but we celebrated her all the way down here in Texas!


Monday, September 17, 2012

My Hubby's Got A Blog!

Nate started his own blog about home remodel projects, building projects, anything he does for fun really!  He is a man of many talents.  So for those of you looking for home DIY projects, ways to save money and be frugal while doing projects...this is the blog for you!  Here are a few of the wood building projects he has completed for us:

DVD towers - we have 2.  One for mom and dad movies, the other for kids movies and games. They are awesome!

Our TV stand

A hanging frame for my necklaces - I showed him one out of a Martha Stewart catalog and he made it!

Bunk beds for our boys.  AKA The jungle gym, climbing wall, fort, storage closet, etc.  

He is just starting to blog, so go check it out!!  From reading the title he chose, you know it's going to be enjoyable.  :)


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Focusing On Him

I am a detail oriented person.  I like the little things and that sometimes keeps me from staying on track.  I get caught up in all the nit-picky things and lose focus on what I'm really trying to do.  It totally comes out when I'm cleaning.  I can get started in one room and remember that there is something else that belongs in that room and go get it.  WELL - that only leads to me spotting other things I can do and get started in this NEW place and leave the first room in disarray.  But this is me.

I have found that recently, when I'm trying to hear God's voice, I lose focus and get distracted.  I let life move in and the little things get in the way.  It is a constant battle, but I know that staying focused is the only way to keeping me on the path to the blessings He has planned for me.  It isn't a question of can I stay focused; it is a question of will I stay focused.

I want to hear Him tell me, "Well done."  That is what keeps me fighting to stay focused.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Late Summer Garage Sales

We haven't been hitting up garage sales as much as we had been earlier this summer, click here to see my previous finds, but this past Saturday, we loaded up again and went hunting!

I love looking for treasures and then actually finding some.  So much fun!

Here is what we found:

I'll admit it: I am a bookaholic.  I love to read and I LOVE to buy books for my kids and for me.  I really dislike paying full price though.  I found these books at one place and only paid $2 for them all.  As my 3 year old would say, "Sweeeeet!"  I got a Hardy Boys novel, 2 easy reader books, a Snoopy comic strip book and Pokemon, of course.  I also got a couple of Sandra Brown novels.  I have never read any, but they got high recommendations after asking around.

We found these at an estate sale.  I do believe it was our first one.  It was fabulous!  It wasn't run by a company, so the prices were awesome.  We got a 6 piece set of glasses, a glass pitches, a vase and a basket all for $4.  We weren't going to buy the basket, but they gave it to us to haul our glasses in.  I made my husband go back to buy the vase.  They only wanted 25 cents, but he just gave them $1 since they threw in the basket for free.  It is so fun getting super deals.  I wish there were garage sales all year round!  

Have you found any great treasures in your garage sale adventures?


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Homeschooling: Calendar Time

Here is our Calendar Time:

It is a time where I pull out our morning board and we work on learning the parts of the calendar.  I bought a Deluxe Calendar Pocket Chart on Amazon.  I really like it and it isn't very expensive.  I use a "Field Trip" card turned upside down to move through the calendar for each day.  It has a picture of a school bus on it, so upside down it looks like the wheels are bug eyes looking at us.  The boys get a kick out of that!

It came with a lot of extra holiday/special occasions/celebration cards.  And I mean a lot!  I am now super informed on when the obscure holidays come.  :)

After we work through the calendar, we move onto our morning board.  I have Jman Write the Date and BG traces it.  This includes writing the date in words and numbers.  (I will make the dots for BG to trace that morning.)  I laminated all of the sheets the kids will be writing on.  It is so nice to wipe them clean after each day and reuse them the next day.  

We keep track of what Day of School we are on.  The print off I used coincides with Math U See.  We are not using it yet, but it is what I am leaning toward for next year.  We also have a Make the Date card that uses money.  I have a picture, Bible verse, or Skip Counting cards that I cycle through.  (Pictured top of middle column.)  We examine the Weather and put the appropriate card on our board.  We also look at the temperature and fill it in on our Today's Temperature card.  Lastly, I created a couple of printouts of the books of the Bible, which are pictured on the far right.   

  I got my FREE printables from Homeschool Creations and 1+1+1=1.  I love, love, love these sights!  They have awesome resources for homeschoolers with preschoolers and kindergartners.  I keep adding more of my own touches to it, but I used most of their suggestions to get started.

Again, we do NOT get through every thing on the board each day.  We just do what we can!

Have fun getting your calendar time going!!


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