Our homeschooling journey began in September 2008. We welcome you to join us as we venture over a new path in our life! We're all learning together, exploring, experiencing, and having a blast along the way! Track our educational expedition from the very beginning and watch as we transform this experience into a new way of life for our family!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


So there's obviously been a HUGE gap in time since my last post. Last school year, day 1 of our first year homeschooling kicked off with a bang! I was super excited, and the boys thought I was the meanest mom in the whole wide world. Super! That means I'm doing my job, right?

Day 2... I meet with my family doctor to discuss some concerns - mainly the constant fatigue I had been experiencing for several months. He ordered blood work, which found that my hemoglobin was "critically low."

...And so began the process of determining what was causing the low blood counts. I was sent to an OBGYN, who performed a laparoscopic hysterectomy in November. We expected my blood counts to rise over time, since I was no longer losing blood each month. Instead, my hemoglobin continued to fall.

Plan B - I was sent to an oncologist, who monitored my blood counts closely while administering a series of IV iron infusions. After several weeks of treatment, my blood count finally fell within "normal" range. Enter: random stomach pain. And when I say "pain," I don't mean that I had a mild stomachache. I mean that I was on my knees, doubled over in the floor, and in tears until the hour-long "attacks" finally stopped.

Hmm... now what? I was sent to a GI specialist who performed an upper endoscopy. We assumed the pain was being caused by ulcers, possibly caused by NSAID use after the hysterectomy. The endoscopy showed no abnormalities. A gallbladder function test also appeared normal, although symptoms were reproduced during testing. Another head-scratcher. To be on the safe side, I was sent to a general surgeon, who removed my gallbladder just days before I was scheduled to move (via the family van and a uhaul trailer) from Texas to Washington State. The laparoscopic operation went well and I was sent home the same day to recover.

After a few days, the severe stomach pain returned, this time with bouts of nausea. Into the surgeon's office I marched (well, it was actually more like a crawl), and he insisted it was just post-surgical pain, though he also admitted he was baffled at how I could still be having "gallbladder pain" when I no longer had a gallbladder (this, I decided, is why medical school takes many years to complete). He suggested I stay on top of the pain by taking my prescribed pain relievers on time with each dose.

On the way home from the surgeon's office, I nearly crawled through the windshield as waves of pain radiated through my body. I couldn't find any position where I felt comfortable, and almost got out of the car at a red light because I didn't know what else to do to ease the pain. We made it home - barely - and I went straight to the couch. But an hour later, give or take, I was being loaded into the back of an ambulance. I knew something was wrong, but never in my wildest dreams...

The last thing I remember clearly was being wheeled into the emergency room on a stretcher. After rattling off my vitals to a nurse, one of the paramedics put his hand on my shoulder and said "I'm gonna make sure they take good care of you." Then he left. I vaguely remember my mom walking into the room - she must have followed the ambulance to the hospital. I was given pain medication in the ambulance, but it didn't help at all. One of the ladies from our church is a nurse in the emergency department, and she just happened to be on staff that day. She came in to check on me and I begged her to start praying. Something told me that I was about to be needing those prayers...

From there on out, I really have no recollection of what happened. According to my family, 2-3 days passed without any relief from the pain and nausea. They were giving me all the medication they could, to no avail. Then a very bright "hospitalist" came to the conclusion that all of my symptoms were being caused by drug withdrawals (I stopped taking my 'regular' medications after my gallbladder surgery, so I would know that everything was healing properly before I started swallowing pills again). I drew the mental conclusion that I was a drug addict - that I had somehow brought all of this upon myself.

Fortunately, my cousin is also a nurse at the hospital where I had been admitted, and as time continued to pass with no improvement in my symptoms, she began to lay the pressure on my doctors to be more proactive in finding the true cause of my illness. And as if on cue, my body handed the medical staff a handwritten invitation to reevaluate my case.

My blood pressure bottomed out - they had to use a doppler to get a blood pressure reading, because it was so low that the machines couldn't read it at all. My heartrate climbed into the 150's. I began to spike a temperature. The skin around my eyes turned black. I couldn't breathe. And finally, the physician on duty knew something was very, very wrong, and I was sent to the OR to find out what we were dealing with.

As soon as they opened me up, they realized that my intestine had perforated, spilling days worth of toxic bile into my belly. Six feet of my intestine had become trapped by an internal hernia, which eventually caused a bowel obstruction. The months of pain attacks, which we assumed was a result of ulcers and gall bladder disfunction, were actually caused by temporary obstructions within the trapped part of my intestine. And because it had taken us so long to realize we had a 'real' problem, I was now in toxic shock.

After surgery, I was sent straight to SICU (Surgical Intensive Care Unit). They were unable to roll me from side to side - doing so would cause my blood pressure to drop - and I quickly developed a nasty bedsore (which later required surgery and negative-pressure "woundvac" therapy to heal). I was placed on a ventilator so my body wouldn't have to struggle to breathe - they wanted every ounce of energy my body had being used to heal itself.

My family spent a great deal of time in the waiting room outside the SICU. A physician called my mom back into the Unit, and pointed out to her that my left arm was swelling and turning black below the elbow. I had compartment syndrome, and if they didn't act quickly I may lose my arm. My mom authorized surgery again on my behalf, and an incision was made along my forearm which released the muscles in my arm. The incision was left open for several weeks while we waited for the swelling to minimize to a point where the skin could be closed again - we dodged a bullet, and I was sent back to the SICU.

During a routine exam as he made his rounds, the on-call physician pressed on my stomach. The incision was "oozing" what appeared to be the tube feedings that were being pumped into my intestine. Back to the OR we went. Once they opened me back up, they found that the part of my intestine they had repaired had died - turned black and completely fell apart. Again, the surgeons worked to repair my digestive system, and flush out the toxins that had filled my belly a second time. After surgery, the surgeon approached my family and could only shake his head and say "She's very sick." My family wanted to have me flown to a larger hospital in Dallas - my surgeon insisted I would not survive the flight.

When it was all said and done, I'd had a total of 7 operations including the removal of my spleen. I spent one day shy of 7 weeks in the hospital, laying flat on my back. Fortunately, after the paramedics left me in the ER, I don't remember very much. Unfortunately, what I DO remember is the hallucinations caused by the sedatives and high doses of pain medications they were giving me. And I can only say that those 7 weeks were a very dark time for me. Still now, two months after leaving the hospital, my mom and I discuss what happened and she tells me which of my "memories" are real and which were hallucinations. We exchange worries that I may become sick again (ridiculous as it sounds, every stomachache brings anxiety). We wonder what the long-term effects of my illness may be, especially in regards to having lost my spleen (higher risk of serious infections).

Without a doubt, we were blessed tenfold by the nursing staff that cared for me. Two weeks ago my mom and I went down to the hospital and visited each of the Units that I spent time in during my hospital stay. It was exciting to see all (but one) of my primary caregivers, and to have an opportunity to thank them for their efforts in keeping me alive. No one expected I would live. Twice I nearly died. But I'm here now because God wanted me to be here. It's sobering to think about how fast things happened in the beginning. I knew I was sick, but when I was being loaded into the ambulance it didn't even cross my mind that it may be the last time my children saw their mother. That I may not be around to see them graduate, get married, or start families of their own. These things happen to other people, but you never expect it could happen to you. What a reminder of how precious life is - how special each and every minute is! I'll sit and rock with my 2 year old now, and we color pictures while we watch Dora the Explorer (*grits my teeth*) together. What if that had been taken away from me - and from her? I'm so very thankful to God that he chose to let me have these moments now with my children.

That brings us current, minus a few details here and there. It was a stretch, but I decided to proceed with my plans to homeschool my oldest son this year. I don't have the energy to homeschool more than one child right now, so my youngest son is still in "regular" school. He's been having some behavioral issues that we're trying desperately to understand and get under control - once that happens, I would love to make the push to homeschool him as well. My daughter, well into her 2's now, is such a good baby. She self-entertains which is handy when I'm short on time, but also does a great job of entertaining the rest of the family! She's so funny, and doesn't even realize it. While she's too young for preschool still, she's very smart and a quick learner so I'm looking forward to seeing how she approaches formal education when the time is right.

It seems my Philosophy of Education is changing each day. Without fail, nothing goes as I've so carefully planned it, and I continue to find myself reevaluating my approach to homeschooling my children. We've severely relaxed our studies in both overall consumption and pace. Instead of doubling up on formal textbook subjects, I find myself looking for opportunities to turn our daily events into learning opportunities so we'll at least meet state requirements (thank you, Cub Scouts!). This won't last forever, because highly intellectual learning is still very much something I want for my children. But until I'm feeling better, it'll have to do. Going forward, my biggest hurdle will likely remain my resolution to perservere - the pressure is on (from my family) to give up my goals of homeschooling unless it is done according to their terms.

Monday, March 2, 2009

2009/2010 School Year Curriculum

Since I'm not updating here nearly as often as I'd like to, a lot has happened since my last post. But I'm very excited to say that - as of today - ALL of the curriculum for our first official year homeschooling has been purchased! It took a VERY long time for me to choose the materials we'll be using... it was an exhaustive process of researching, choosing, crossing off "the list", researching some more, choosing again, etc.

Since one of the reasons we've chosen to homeschool is to include our religious beliefs into our studies, finding curriculum materials that integrated those philosophies proved more difficult than expected. I also wanted to give my children a very thorough education, which I don't feel they've been receiving in the institutional school setting. In their private school (which, for the record, is FAR better than the local public schools!), topics seem to be covered only briefly before moving on to something else, and in very limited scope overall. And while we've been pleased with the progress the boys have made in their reading and phonics work, there are many other academic areas the boys have developed an interest in that we feel are important enough to be included in their studies (specialty science topics, more advanced math subjects, etc).

So after much thought and prayer, I've chosen the following curriculum for our first year homeschooling.

  • ACSI Bible Studies. This is what the boys were familiar with, as it's the program used in their private school. They've done well with the Biblical concepts presented so far. We purchased separate curriculum sets for First and Second grade - each included a Student Book and Teacher Edition. The First Grade study is called God and My World and focuses on family, the Bible, Jesus, the Church, and the "special gifts and abilities" God has given us to help others. The Second Grade study is called God and My Actions and focuses on humility, courage, self-control, faithfulness, compassion, honesty, encouragement and trust. These studies and others can be reviewed and purchased from http://www.acsi.org/.
  • Story Of The World History. SOTW seems to be fairly well-known in the homeschooling community. Reviews are aplenty and most speak highly of author Susan Wise Bauer's method of teaching complex historical topics to even the youngest of tikes. Since this is our first year using SOTW, and our boys are close in age/grade, we decided to group them together for our studies of "Ancient Times" (Volume One in the 4-volume series). Each volume includes a reading book, detailed activity book, an extra set of student pages and a packet of tests. Reading books are also available as audiobooks and materials for each volume are available for purchase separately or in a discounted combo pack (which is great if you're like us, and prefer to just get it all!). I've flipped through the materials and I'm pleased with the depth of the content upon first sight. The reading book is attention-grasping for even my hard-to-wrangle 5-year old, and the activity book includes a WIDE variety of activities and projects, as well as well as reading lists to further expand on and reinforce subjects covered in each chapter. My only complaint is the the activities included are materials-heavy and frequently require things we wouldn't normally have on-hand (such as grass seed, clay, laminating sheets, etc) - this will require an additional expense on our part, if we choose to include those activities. We'll also have to plan well in advance to be sure we can get our hands on suggested reading books (thank goodness for networked library systems). That aside, I think the boys will benefit greatly from the material presented in the SOTW series and we look forward to continuing with the next three volumes (The Middle Ages, Early Modern Times and The Modern Age, respectively). More on this complete history curriculum following classical education methods can be found on their website, http://www.peacehillpress.com/.
  • A Beka It would be easier to tell you what we're NOT using through A Beka this year (Math). A Beka Book follows a more traditional approach to education, using textbooks, tests, workbooks, and teachers manuals explaining each step of the process. Materials are divided into grade levels and available for purchase separately or in discounted "kits." A variety of supplemental resources can be obtained from them as well to help teach concepts such as math or phonics. A Beka sells curriculum for nursery-aged children through high school and in subjects that many families would feel offered a "complete" curriculum. We'll be using A Beka for phonics, reading, spelling, art, writing, history, health, language and science. The "readers" are colorful and intriguing and since our boys are familiar with the materials through their private school, we feel it will be a great 'core' for us to build upon in our homeschool! A Beka products can be viewed/purchased on their website, http://www.abeka.com/ - be sure to inquire about a local materials display, so you can view their products first-hand if you've never used them before!
  • Considering God's Creation Science. Considering God's Creation by Eagle's Wings claims to be "a creative Biblical approach to natural science" and, while appears to follow a 'notebooking' approach to learning, does include a teacher's manual, complete with audio cd. It is said to be adaptable for 2nd to 7th grade, but we'll be using it with both our 1st and 2nd graders. Science can be a fascinating subject with seemingly endless depth, and it's very important to me to approach it from a Biblical perspective, at least to begin with (once they have a good foundation in science "God's way", I'll be more comfortable hitting on points that include references to evolution, etc). This actually made finding a pre-written science curriculum difficult, since many are not Bible-based. I chose the science course from Eagle's Wings based on user reviews, including the review by Cathy Duffy in her book "100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum." The table of contents lists creation, the universe (stars, sun and planets), the Earth, Non-living things (rocks and minerals), weather (a favorite subject for the boys - something we'll be covering in far more depth than the book includes), the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom, animal anatomy & physiology, and man ("made in God's image" - anatomy and physiology). While the book is written to be able to cover all material in a single school year, I think we may take our time with this one and cover these subjects more thoroughly over 2 or even 3 years. While I'm not necessarily a fan of notebooking, the authors have done a great job of writing the curriculum in such a way that it includes many different learning styles. Each chapter includes a handy list of materials needed prior to beginning the lesson, a vocabulary list, Bible reading to "back-up" the information presented, review questions and a "Digging Deeper" section with references to additional resources or activities that may be done. I can easily see this being something our family has trouble pulling ourselves away from! Visit http://www.eagleswingsed.com/ for information on products available for purchase, as well as a link to the Yahoo e-mail group (accessible on their "Support" page) for Considering God's Creation users!
  • Horizons Math, Health, Physical Education. I've heard nothing but good things about the Horizons curriculum, especially in regards to Math. Math is a strong subject for both of the boys - their teachers have had difficulty keeping up with their desire to learn and their ability to master concepts in this area especially. While we are familiar with the A Beka math program, we chose to experiment a little for our first year homeschooling. Horizons Math is on par with what the boys have learned already in their private school and, if I find they are advancing too quickly through the curriculum, we can purchase the next highest grade level whenever we're ready to move up. Math materials include student books, teacher's guides and tests, and may be purchased individually or as a set at a discounted price. Health is another area where I feel a great deal of focus should be spent. At this age, very little is covered in the conventional school setting. While A Beka touches on the topic briefly (in conjunction with Safety & Manners), I felt a little more instruction would be beneficial. The Health course has graded subject levels and includes a teacher's guide. The scope & sequence highlights topics covered in growth & development, disease prevention, substance use/abuse, nutrition, emotional/mental health, social health/interpersonal skills, family life/human sexuality, personal health, community health, consumer health and safety/first aid for both grade levels (in fact, these topics are covered in all grades from K thru 8th grade). Each chapter, also written from a Christian viewpoint, includes a preparation/materials list, statement of objectives, background on subjects to be covered, lesson plan, and list of related activities for more in-depth studies. Horizons Physical Education manual is written for Grades PreK-2 and includes age-appropriate information and activities for each grade. It can be used as a specific curriculum guide, or as a more general reference manual for those seeking guidance or ideas to use in their homeschool. All materials can be viewed and purchased on their website http://www.aophomeschooling.com/. You can request a catalog, download placement tests, find local homeschool support groups, and more online.
  • Geography Matters Geography. GeoMatters follows a unit study/notebooking approach to learning. We have purchased both the "Galloping the Globe" (World Geography) and "Cantering the Country" (U.S. Geography) bundles (each of which includes lots of additional books and resources). Cantering the Country also includes a CD-ROM with over 150 printable maps and activity sheets that can be used in the lessons. The bundles are claimed to include subjects such as Geography (one would hope...), Bible, history, science, literature, maps & flags, language arts, civics, and more. Cantering the Country has a "chapter" for each State, while Galloping the Globe is broken down by continent, and then further by country. Each includes such a wealth of information, activities and projects that you should have no trouble catering to almost any child's learning style. Products can be purchased individually or in bundles, and are available from http://www.geomatters.com/.
  • Suzuki Piano. Suzuki is a "method" of teaching piano that involves both learning to read music as well as play by ear. As a child, I was taught to play piano using the Suzuki method, and have frequently gone back to music in my adult years. As such, I felt it would be the best route for us to follow as a family, to encourage music appreciation (especially in regards to classical music, which many people find 'drab' when introduced at a later age). Being somewhat familiar with the teachings and methods of Suzuki, I will be able to teach at least through the first few levels of instruction. Once, and if, the boys progress beyond a level where I am comfortable playing the role of the 'teacher', we can consider more formal music lessons with a trained instructor. If you're interested in learning more about the Suzuki method, you can visit http://suzukiassociation.org/parents/twinkler/. You can also join user groups (Yahoo groups has several) for those interested in the Suzuki method to get more information or to talk with parents and teachers who can offer their experiences for anyone considering training in this area. Once some basic knowledge of music has been established (through the Alfred's series below), we'll begin Book 1 - all books and audio CD's are available online or through your local sheet music retailer.
  • Alfred's Basic Piano Piano. I really can't say enough good about the Alfred's series. They have such a clear, easy approach to learning piano at an early age that you can teach whether you're familiar with music/piano or not! Since the boys are young and really have no experience with music - reading or playing - we'll be staring with the Basic Prep Course, Level A, which introduces the "finger number" approach to reading music, note names, how to sit at the piano, pedal function, and more. You can find all the books and supplements (flash cards and audio CD's) at http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/ or through your local sheet music retailer. The instructional materials for the Prep Course are geared towards young children, so they include coloring pages, activities and language that are appropriate for this age range.

I do realize that we're "doubling up" in some subject areas (science, geography, etc). That was intentional, as we felt the topics covered in some areas were too limited in scope, while hitting on points we wanted to cover in other areas. We'll definitely have a full day/week/year, but I plan on taking advantage of the boys' eagerness to learn. If we find that the materials are just too much to cover, we'll back off a bit until we can find our own groove.

I was a little surprised at the amount of physical materials the curriculum programs above produced. We bought a(nother) tall 5-shelf bookcase (giving us a total of 5 bookcases in our home - 3 tall, and two short, if you don't count the growing library of books in our daughter's room) just to hold the books and materials as they arrived in the mail.

I've also been gathering lists of supplements suggested by the different texts as materials have arrived in the mail. That's led us to a variety of dictionaries, encyclopedia's, atlases and more. Some of our new favorites, which I'm sure will receive regular use, include:

  • The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History
  • The Usborne Book of World History
  • Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia
  • Scholastic Children's Dictionary
  • Thorndike Barnhart Children's Dictionary
  • Thorndike Barnhart Junior Dictionary
  • Rand McNally Children's Illustrated Atlas of the United States
  • Rand McNally Beginner's World Atlas

I also found a nice little activity book; the Scholastic Children's Dictionary Activity Book. It's meant for older children (Grades 3-6), but after flipping through the pages I'm sure the activities will be well-suited for my 1st and 2nd graders, and I can use the book as inspiration for similar activities. I plan to use dictionary work, word search/crosswords and writing prompts each day as part of our 'seatwork'. This will give them a chance to work on their reading, writing, and vocabulary skills without it feeling so much like 'work.' I found a great book filled with interesting journaling prompts, called "Writing Down the Days: 365 Creative Journaling Ideas for Young People" by Lorraine M. Dahlstrom. It's available on Amazon.com or you can try checking your local library. This can be used to improve on both their writing and thinking skills as they work to piece their thoughts together on paper.

In regards to the school itself, a name has been chosen, a logo/letterhead is in the works, and an official schedule will be determined before we begin schooling in August (including the 1st/last days of school, number of days of instruction each week, and what topics/subjects will be studied on a particular day). That's not to say that our schedule won't change as other things come up - one of the many joys of homeschooling is that we can adjust our schedule to suit our needs. But having a "schedule" that the children can depend on make our days much more predictable, which makes life run so much more smoothly around here. Because of my ADD (and OCD), schedules help me utilize my time in a more efficient way. I schedule everything, from our schooling to sports to grocery shopping (don't even get me started on the number of lists this produces every two weeks!) to housekeeping to daily meals to special appointments, tasks and events... everything is written in pencil (a military philosophy, based off of the notion that "nothing is official until it has already happened"), and things are added and erased on an almost daily basis.

The school name, while long, was chosen for its meaning. Reverent Cornerstone Preparatory Academy (RCPA for short, because seriously, who wants to say all that!?)
  • Reverent - First and foremost, is our reverence towards God. To be reverential is to honor, respect, admire, obey, worship... Our desire to strengthen our relationship with God is the most important part of homeschool. Our society is turning to one that doesn't understand or respect this viewpoint, and feel it's incredibly important to raise our children with a close watch on what they are taking in, and to guide them with the values, morals and beliefs which we hold so dear.
  • Cornerstone - We have a strong desire to give our children a great educational foundation from which they can build as they grow older. In building, a cornerstone provides the base of support which prevents collapse. We feel that a wide, hearty base of learning will afford them greater opportunities later in life and we're eager to foster both a strong understanding of the 'basics' as well as allow them the opportunity to involve themselves in special areas of interest, such as meteorology (their current favorite 'subject'), sports, etc.
  • Preparatory - As the word itself implies, we desire to "prepare" our children for the lives that lie ahead for them. We feel it is our God-given duty to raise them in a way that would please God and, to us, this includes both personal/Spiritual growth and academic growth. We were not created as drones. Instead, we were blessed with the magnificent ability to observe and learn about the world and people around us. God graced the human body with a powerful mind that is capable of far more than we casually demand of it these days. While we certainly don't expect to be able to "learn everything," we consider it an awful waste to sit and allow the mind to (essentially) rot away.
  • Academy - Umm.... school. I guess I don't need to explain this one, lol.
So, we're caught up! Now that the curriculum and materials have been purchased, we are preparing for a move. My husband recently deployed to Iraq and the kids and I have decided to return home to be near family until he returns. So all of those wonderful books and resources will now be packed up into boxes, loaded onto a trailer and towed behind our van for a 2400-mile, 4-day road trip (pray for me! lol). I'm sure that explains my absence, and I can't say that I'll be able to update any more frequently over the next few months, but we're geared up and excited for our first year schooling at home! Lesson plans and supply lists have been started, things are getting organized (despite going into boxes...), and August will be here before we know it!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Unit Study

I found a nice Christmas Unit Study online this weekend that I'd like to share. While it seems that many of the resources are geared more towards the Catholic faith (we're Southern Baptist), I found many of them useful regardless and have gone through LOTS of printer ink and paper preparing these resources for the boys to use!

You can find the unit study here!

There are recipes for wassail, clay for making ornaments, cutouts and directions for presenting a finger-puppet play, science and math suggestions, community service suggestions and so much more.

Interestingly enough, I even found a nice "recipe" for making homemade snowflakes that will tie in wonderfully with a separate study we're doing on weather right now. It'll be a great visual for the boys as we discuss the effects of temperature on water (gas/liquid/solid...) and the 'crystals' we see falling from the sky each year in the winter!

I haven't had much time for blogging lately - my mom flew in for Thanksgiving and we have been busy celebrating while family is here. We had more than enough food for our small family this Thanksgiving - what a great reminder of the thankfulness of harvest time! We've done a lot of shopping, despite our hatred of the Black Friday crowds. The tree is up and decorated, the lights are on the roof and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. The weather has changed to a chilly dampness that none of us are enjoying, and we went to the store today to buy some family-friendly games to keep the kiddos entertained when the weather keeps us all indoors. We had such a great time today playing Deal or No Deal, Monopoly Jr. and Guess Who Extra! Lots of laughs!

I just realized today that I haven't published my entry on our pumpkin-themed activities! I'll be sure to get that done after mom returns home this coming week.

Happy holidays and warm winter wishes to all,

Friday, November 21, 2008

If you think reading is important...

...you're absolutely right!

I've been blessed with two little boys that absolutely love books. They have so many, we don't even have places to put them all. Nick can read very well, and at quite an advanced level for his age. He reads himself to sleep each night and begs to go to the library every weekend. Ben is just learning to read, which is as exciting for me as it is for him. He tries reading signs, books, packaging labels, and more. While he doesn't understand the text just yet, he spends a lot of time looking at books even after being tucked into bed at night. They don't know yet (of course), but "Santa" has picked out some very special books this year just for them!

I was a big fan of reading when I was younger and my parents always made sure I had plenty of books in my known interest areas. Oddly enough, my favorite books from 5th grade on was a set of medical encyclopedias my parents owned. They're (more than) out of date now, but my mom still has them sitting on a bookshelf at her house today, and every time I see them I go right back to those days of laying on my bed on a warm, sunny Saturday reading through the text and studying the diagrams in the medical encyclopedias.

I've never really considered books to be a "gift" - I had so many of them as a child that it always seemed 'normal' to me to have many to choose from anytime I felt like reading. I've had to group the boys' books into age-appropriate (or rather, reading-level appropriate) books, because they have so many they won't even fit on the bookshelf in their room. Even my 5 month old daughter has a stack of books, all her own!

Last night, I saw a commercial on TV. The boys were watching a show on Noggin, and a heart-grabbing PSA aired during the commercial break.

The PSA, featuring Cedric the Entertainer, as well as information about the Noggin Get Ready To Read Campaign, can be viewed here.

There are so many children who don't have the blessing of a book to read. Not a single book. For whatever reason, they haven't been given the same opportunities to learn and to grow as so many other children. We sit here, in our warm, cozy house, with more books than we can even count, while there are children who have never read a book in their life. The very thought of that is incredibly sad to me... and the tear-jerking PSA did more than a little tugging at my heart-strings as well.

This week, we'll be finding a way to donate some of our unused books to children in need. If you have books collecting dust, I encourage you to do the same. It doesn't take much of your time, and won't take ANY of your money. With Christmas right around the corner, give the gift of literacy to another child. They'll never forget it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Show me the money!

I have a love/hate relationship with money. I love it. It hates me.

I have debt from years ago that hasn't been paid off yet. And, unfortunately, I'm adding on to that debt total at an astonishing rate of speed. When money out is greater than (but not equal to!) money in, it's a setup for disaster. I'm constantly budgeting, reworking the budget, looking for ways to save money on regular expenses, down-sizing, etc. Unfortunately, we've put ourselves in a bad financial position over the years and it will take a great deal of time, effort and dedication to get things all fixed up and looking pretty again.

I'm a huge fan of Dave Ramsey. It's funny, the people I admire most are the ones that say what we all already know, in a dummied-down way that makes it a real 'duh' moment. He has several books that are recommended reading whether you have money woes or not. And only when using his 'envelope system' has our family not had to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Dave also has his own television & radio show, so be sure to check for broadcasts in your area!

I'm absolutely determined to raise my children with a sound financial outlook. I want them to learn how to manage their money in a responsible way - saving for a rainy day and making sound investments for their future. I was delighted to find that Dave offers curriculum resources for children and young adults! And thanks to the Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op, this material can be purchased at a steeply discounted rate (up to 67% off) through December 2!

The Foundations in Personal Finance Homeschool Pack contains material appropriate for your high-school aged children, while younger children (ages 3 and up) would benefit from his Super Red Racer series & materials and Financial Peace Jr. set.

Teaching your child how to spend, save and give their money is very important. No parent wants to see their child struggle in life, and giving them the skills they need to succeed early in life will make such tasks more 'natural' to them later on. And because the best way to teach is by example, consider purchasing his "Starter Special - Family Edition", which contains the Financial Peace Jr. Kit, The Total Money Makeover book, the Deluxe Envelope System, the Cash Flow Planning Video and the Dumping Debt video. The kit and individual resources are available here at the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op until December 2nd, or anytime after that at his website (along with other pre-assembled kits and single products)!

Your child's financial skills can be grouped right in with his/her regular math or reading assignments, and the skills they learn from this (or any!) finance education will serve them for many years to come.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Presidential Candidates' Views on Homeschooling

I found the following site to be incredibly enlightening. I won't spend too much time harping on this particular subject (this time...), but if you take a few moments to read through the pages, comments (the comments on the right side of the page are clickable so you can view the entire text), and articles, I think you'll be able to form a knowledgeable opinion of your own regarding who has your rights as a parent at heart.

Protect your rights to homeschool your children.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

DVD Giveaway at Discount Homeschool Supplies!

Discount Home School Supplies is giving away two DVD's this week. You can win a copy of The Nature of God in Nature: Hawaii and The Nature of God in Nature: Lake District. Read more about these DVD's on Tami's Blog.

The preview for the (Lake District) video is fascinating - what a great way to see the world, especially when most of us are having trouble these days scrounging up enough gas money to make it to the market and back! ;) And when most videos of this type are entirely science-based, these have a unique Biblical spin that really put the wonder of God's work into perspective. Be sure to check it out! :)