Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Somethings, You Just Don't Get Over

I have really big plans to write all about our recent trip to Haiti. 

To include as many of the details as I can remember and to give you as complete and whole picture as I'm able. Because it was an incredible, only-God-could-pull-this-off kind of trip and I'm so excited to share it with you all. 

But, I'm not ready yet. 

I'm still processing. 

I'm still sitting here wondering how it all happened, and even wondering what all happened. From the miracle of the play-set getting done, to the success of our orphanage and student sponsorship programs/parties, to the amazing people we met and served with along the way, all of it, still leaves me a little speechless.

And a lot emotional. 

The Lord is so faithful and so true and the fact that he uses our feeble attempts to serve and help others to grow & change ourselves in even greater ways is.... unfathomable. 

I started off on this journey fully knowing that it was going to change my life and prayerfully the lives of those I was sent to serve, but I had no idea to what extent it would change me or how deep the change was going to be. 

I'm still not sure. 

I want to be able to talk about what I'm feeling and how I got here.... but I'm still recovering, and I don't know what to say or how to say it or even how to process what I am feeling. 

I expected to be emotional and to care deeply for the people I met. 
I wasn't expecting to fall in love the way I did. 

I wasn't expecting the people and the stories to stick with me the way that they have. 
The faces. The laughter. The joy. The sorrows. The chaos. The calm. The poverty. The smells. The views. The gratefulness. The desperation..... I never want to forget.

..... Continue reading at my primary blog Journey of Grace 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Medieval Times Unit - Highlights

This year our core curriculum is Tapestry of Grace Year 2 which goes from the Middle Ages to Early American History. 

Blogging, particularly our school has really taken a back seat lately, as life has seemed to hit an all-time level of busyness. However, just because I'm not "talking" about it doesn't mean we're not doing it :) 

We recently finished up our first TOG unit (weeks 1-10), which was all about the Middle Ages. 

I had wanted to blog-as-we-went similar to the last several years of school, but do to the afore mentioned "busyness", I'm happy to create somewhat of a "highlights only" post. 

Map Studies 

The first week was really focused on World Geography, reviewing the continents and oceans as well as introducing the equator and prime meridian. 

Treyton has mad map skills so this was a pretty easy assignment for him - but I had him label a world map. 


Stained Glass Window 

While learning about the start of the Roman Catholic Church and the cathedrals that were built during this time Treyton commented on how much he liked the stained glass windows - it just so happened that I had seen a stained glass activity while planning and pulled it out for him to do. 

He used black paint and elmers glue mixed to create the lines and water colors to add the color. 

Treyton really does enjoy art, so this was a fun activity for him. 


Muhammad, Islam & Timeline 

One of the more profound weeks thus far was the third week when we learned about Muhammad and Islam. Treyton had so many questions (as I knew he would) and I was learning right along with him. Truthfully what I did know about the origin of Islam was sketchy and I found this week pretty informative. 

While placing Muhammad on our wall timeline, we also decided to add a line to represent the 1000 year period of the Middle Ages which stretches from about 500 - 1500 AD. I love that we are marking "time periods/eras" on our timeline as it really adds a needed dimension when looking at particular people and events placed during those times.  

Family Crest & Shield 

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One of my personal favorite activities was to creating a family crest.

Each one of us had our own thoughts and ideas, but after lots of brainstorming we came up with a shield that really captures our family. 

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Treyton had the idea of making a shield (like a knight) and to put the crest on there. 

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Truthfully, it was what I was planning on doing, but letting him think it was his idea made it a lot more fun for him and made him more interested in the project than normal. 

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I cut out cardboard shields and drew in the lines on the shield - the kids painted them. 


Viking Lapbook 

For the week that we studied the vikings, I had Treyton complete a lap book. 

Lapbooking is not actually one of Treyton's favorite activities but it does seem to help him remember and retain a bit more, and he is almost always pleased with the finished project, as well as how great of a review tool they are for later on. 

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For Treyton's birthday he got a little compound cross bow. 

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While talking about Knights and other warriors of the middle ages, we've learned about the importance of archer's. He's spent many afternoons in the backyard practicing his shot! 
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Learning to play Chess 
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I knew as soon as I found out we were going to be studying the middle ages, that I wanted to teach Treyton how to play chess. My cousin, John is actually staying with us from Louisiana and he started working with Treyton to teach him how to play. Treyton has really enjoyed it, though it is certainly a tougher game for him to learn, he has learned most of the basics, and in time I know he will master the strategy concepts, as well. 
Learning to Crochet

The kids have watched me crochet since they were born and have asked at different times for me to teach them, so when TOG mentioned the possibility of teaching the kids how to crochet as part of our Medieval studies, I was eager to take on the challenge. 
When we first started I was like "wow, this is so much harder to teach than I realized". After an hour or so we took a break (and we only kept at it that long because Treyton and Alexa were both determine). The next day Alexa picked it up (basically on her own) and with a few reminders from me she was off!!! She sat for over 3 hours crocheting a chain!! 
Treyton was preoccupied with something else, but a day or so later, he did basically the same thing…. they are both really good at crocheting chains. The next step will be single crocheting rows. 
Knights Lapbook 
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The viking lap book turned out so well we decided to put together one for our Knights studies. 
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Printing Press & Paper

While learning about Johannes Gutenberg we viewed one of his original 200 Bibles online - way cool! 
We also learned that after the Europeans first discovered paper, they wanted to make paper beautiful so they created a marbled look. Using the "Days of Knights and Damsels" book we made our own version of marbled paper. 
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 Middle Ages Brainstorm

During the last week of this unit Treyton and I sat down and "brainstormed" words that came to our minds when we thought about the Middle Ages. I wanted to use this activity as some what of a quiz to see what he retained and if he could look back over the middle ages and identify the big ideas that we had covered. We had a lot of fun this unit, and I look forward to covering it again in 4 years at an even more in depth level. 

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Field Trip: The Little Farmer

We are blessed to be a part of a co-op through our church this year called BRANCHES (which stands for Building Relationships and Nurturing Children's Hearts). 

We had our first co-op class called "All About Me" earlier this month where the kids each completed books one of the mom's put together, as well as completed silhouette portraits and put together a time capsule to open at the end of the school year. 

Last week, we enjoyed our first field trip together at the Little Farmer, I believe there were 42 of us total. 

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IMG 9704We were able to learn all different aspects of farming. The first stop was the bee house where the kids learned how important the bees are to the farm and most particularly, the apple orchard. 

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We also got to see where they store the apples (it was cold 32 degrees in their big fridge). And where they sort and process them. 

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Each of the kids got to pick an apple. 

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And then we got to go on a hayride, pulled by a tractor

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to the pumpkin patch where each kid got to pick a pumpkin the size of their head. :) 

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After our field trip we had all packed a picnic lunch. 

We then went to the play area… where the kids had a BLAST with each other and their friends! 

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It was a great field trip, next month we're planning on going on a Fire Station tour!! How blessed are we!?!? 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Curriculum 2013-2014


I can't believe it's that time of year already -- though we started school at the beginning of July it's been sporadic, but to realize our fall schedule is starting to fall into place is…. surprising…. and I'm totally looking forward to the relaxing busyness of normal!! 


Bible I went with Bible Study for All Ages - my mom actually used this for us when I was in school and while it has changed ALOT, I still really like the set up and how it is so listening intensive - it has EXCELLENT review and visuals to help the kids retain as well as exercising their "following direction" skills. 

Our core curriculum this year which covers history, geography and arts is Tapestry of Grace Year 2 "Between Ancient and Modern", it covers a lot of history from the Middle Ages to early American history. I'm really looking forward to this year, it's probably one of my favorite historical periods to study (I mean, seriously, how cool are knights?)! 

Science We are continuing Earth Science with Answers in Genesis. We covered the first book the last half of last year and will work on the 2nd (Our Planet Earth) and 3rd (Our Weather and Water) books this year. I read these to all the kids and we do the experiments together, but this subject is primarily geared towards Treyton. 

Geography while TOG covers geography in it's curriculum I wanted to do country studies this year as well to give the kids a (simple, very simple) over view of world geography and countries. I am using parts of Confessions of a Homeschoolers Expedition Earth as well as A Trip Around the World and Another Trip Around the World and various other resources that I find throughout the year. My goal is to pick a country every week to simply overview and locate on the map. My goal is that by the end of the year the kids have a good grasp on the difference between continents and countries as well as can located 10-15 different countries on a world map (on their own). 

Hymn Studies We are also (hopefully) studying a weekly hymn together - I am using Joni Erickson Tada's hymn books, which tell the story of the author, has CDs for the songs, a devotional and words to the hymn. I love these books and I really hope we have the time to get through them this year. It's shocking to me that they are out of print, if you can find them for a good price somewhere I highly recommend them!! 


THIRD GRADE (Treyton) 

Math - Singapore 3A and 3B - this math has worked very well for Treyton and (when I remember to use them) the teacher's manuals are a tremendous resource with extra teaching ideas and games included. 

Spelling - All About Spelling Level 3 and 4 Treyton is finishing up level 3 within the first couple of weeks of school and we will then move on to level 4

Writing - Writing with Ease Level 2 - I went back and forth on whether to go with level 2 or 3 with Treyton and I think technically I could have gone with 3 but I wanted Treyton to have extra practice learning how to narrate stories well which level 2 offered better than level 3 and with all the other school he's doing I figured going easy was better than going hard. 

Grammar - First LAnguage Lessons Level 2 (finishing from last year) and Level 3. I LOVE these books, and while I wish they had a few more "technical" exercises" I love all the definitions that Treyton is memorizing, and I know that in the future the facts he's learning now are going to be more useful than the exercises. I add in some of my own "workbook" style exercise when I feel like he needs it, which is not too often, but makes me feel better when I do them. 

Handwriting - A Reason for Handwriting T(ransitions) Treyton worked on learning a cursive letter a week with a few words each week, last year. This year we're focusing on putting those letters together to form words and sentences. He enjoys writing cursive and is starting to use it on his own during other writing assignments. 

Music - Treyton is going to continue taking private piano lessons this year 

Reading - Treyton is first going to be working on finishing reading aloud the book of John to either Tim or I - so far I think we are to John 10 or 11. He also is required to read 15-20 minutes (at least) a day on his own. He usually reads more (about 30-45 minutes) at night before bed

Typing - we are also focusing more intently on typing this year using the Talking Fingers curriculum online as well as having him type up his history narrations - my goal is that by the end of the year he is more comfortable with the computer and typing, as of right now, it is a skill that is lacking a little bit (but one I'm sure he will have plenty of time learning in the future). 



Math - Singapore 1A and 1B - math comes fairly easy to Alexa so far, I think because she has learned a lot just from watching and listening in to Treyton's lessons. 

Reading - All About Reading Level 2 - we LOVE this reading program! Alexa begs to do reading and so far it is going very painlessly. She loves reading her readers to Tim and I, though the longer stories this year seem to tire her out, so I may end up breaking them up for her at first. I think it's important to keep in mind just because she's advanced in this area, she is still ONLY 5. 

Spelling - All About Spelling Level 1 - I do not plan on pushing too much spelling with her this year but supplementing it in throughout the year with her AAR program. 

Phonics - Explode the Code Book 3 - this is Alexa's favorite subject. She asks to do it even when it's not a school day! 

Handwriting - A Reason for Handwriting - one of Alexa's weakest subjects I have here in book B this year (because I had it lying around) but I'm not sure she's really quite ready for it. I may just have her continue to work on forming the letters. At this point there are still quite a few backwards letters and starting in the wrong spots. I've actually even thought of using Handwriting without Tears Kindergarten but am not sure if it will mess her up or not. 

Music - We plan on enrolling Alexa in piano lessons this year as well, but I'm not 100% on it yet 

Dance -  She will be doing dance again this year tap and ballet. 

Typing - Talking Fingers online curriculum



B4FIAR - though it will be occasional and simple I plan on starting some Before Five in a Row with Audrey. I think she will really enjoy the teaching time and it will be a gentle way to begin introducing her to structured learning and school time. She begs to be a part of school and while I don't want to start doing "school" with her this year, I do want her to have some fun learning time with mom. 

Speech - Our primary focus with Audrey right now is just learning to understand her better and for her speech to continue to develop. Starting in August she will be doing private speech therapy (as needed) and I'm expecting to pick up some more pointers and activities to do with her at home. Truthfully the type of therapy that Audrey will be in is more for Tim and I, teaching us how to work with Audrey at home, than it is for Audrey. :) 


I am really looking forward to school this year. While I will be honest and admit I'm having a harder time getting into "school" mode than most years, I am excited about our curriculum and the subjects we'll be learning this year. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

First Day of School 2013-2014

We have officially started school and while it's been sporadic so far (due to our summer schedule) I love that we start during the warmer months and are able to do some school outside!! 

Our first day of school was July 8th, Alexa's 5th birthday. My mother in law happened to be here that day and it worked out really nice that when I rotated time with the kids they were able to spend their free time with her!! 

Our first day of school pictures turned out pretty cute I think. 

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Treyton is going into 3rd grade this year. 

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Alexa is starting Kindergarten, though she is doing mostly first grade work. 

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And our little Audrey is going to be doing preschool, which will mostly involve a focus on her speech therapy activities incorporated into other schooling (like numbers, letters and colors). 

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I'm hoping to get our curriculum list posted soon, but we'll have to see how motivated I get and how much time I get on the computer :) 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

For the Love of Lists: Field Trips 2012-2013

I kept this list updated as we took field trips throughout the 2012 - 2013 school year. Here is the (I think) complete list of field trips that we took. 

Looking back it's apparent, we took most of our field trips, in the summer last year, before Titus was born. 

Strawberry Picking and Harvesting (June 2012) – we picked over 35 pounds brought them home the kids helped cut them while we canned and froze our harvest.

National Railroad Museum (June 2012) – we visited the Railroad Museum, to see (touch and play in) some real historical trains, try to lift a steel rail and take a 25 minute diesel engine train ride. We thoroughly enjoyed this museum.

The Milwaukee County Zoo (August 2012) – this was a first for both me and the kids. Sadly, I’ve lived here since I was 8 years old and had never been to this zoo. My sister, Alana had talked about going this summer with our kids, so we decided to finish off our Animal Kingdom science unit with this field trip. Sadly, Audrey got the stomach flu 30 minutes after we got there, but we stuck it out (as best we could) and saw as much as we could.

The Chain O’ Lakes Boat Tour (August 2012) – an hour and half tour on the Chief Waupaca paddle boat of 8 of the 21 chained lakes found in central Wisconsin (near Waupaca). We did this while camping this past August and really enjoyed it.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota (August 2012) – While visiting our high school friends we visited this zoo as a group. It was free and AMAZING. Everyone from around there calls it “small” but we didn’t think it was all that small, in fact, I’m pretty sure we didn’t make it through the entire thing – granted we had 7 adults and 8 kids, but still; it had all the animals you could want there (lion, tiger, orangutan – my kids personal favorite, polar bear, zebra, giraffe). Tim and I were certainly not disappointed and neither were our kids.

Hands-On Art Studio (September 2012) - which is exactly what it sounds like. While we were there Treyton welded and decorated a metal sunflower for our flower garden, adding color all throughout the winter. Alexa and I painted some pottery - Alexa a three piece tea set, me a large bowl and pitcher (LOVE them). I LOVE this place and I plan to visit again…. soon I hope. 

The Farm (September 2012) - in Door County we visited, they had a petting zoo and allowed you to feed the animals. Our favorite was feeding the baby goats (oh my word, cuteness!), we walked around touring the historical buildings, their garden and nature. A very fun field trip. 

Education Performing Arts Shows 

  • Imaginocean (November 1st) 
    • Treyton and Alexa 
  • A Little Princess (December 12th) 
    • Treyton 
  • Charlotte's Web (February 8th) 
    • Treyton 
  • Guess How Much I Love You (February 20th) 
    • Treyton and Alexa 
  • Shanghai Circus (March 6th)
    • Treyton 
  • Three Little Pigs (March 22nd)
    • Treyton 
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Day (April 16th) 
    • Treyton and Alexa 

In addition to these Treyton also went to see the Broadway show "The Lion King" with his Aunt. He said that one was for sure his favorite. Out of the other ones, we both thoroughly enjoyed the Shanghai Circus. 

Piano Recital (April 2012) Treyton had his piano recital towards the end of April, and while that in itself doesn't constitute a field trip, the content of this particular recital did. There were 15 students ranging in ability. The kids were able to see simple recital pieces all the way up to very complex recital pieces. It was encouraging for Treyton to realize he's only been practicing for 2 years but if he continues to practice where he will one day be. 

VACATION FIELD TRIPS - We took a family vacation in early May to San Antonio, Texas (with a few other stops and detours along the way). Traveling across the country gives you so many opportunities for field trips!! We really enjoyed it. 

Sea World in San Antonio (The kids FAVORITE, they are still talking about the whales and dolphins!!) 

The Alamo 

The San Antonio Zoo 

The River Walk Boat Tour in San Antonio 

Wildlife Tour: African Safari Texas Style

Swamp Tour (Louisiana)

St. Louis Zoo 

The Magic House Children's Museum in St. Louis 




Monday, July 15, 2013

For The Love of Lists: Summer Reading List

We don't really take much of a summer break, but this year was the longest actual "break" we've ever taken from school. 

While we are technically "out of school" we are never finished learning. The kids and I continue to read, and now that Treyton is able to read on his own, he actually reads quite a bit on his own as well. 

Since taking our break here are a list of some (not all) of the books we have read: 


Group Reading 

"Stuart Little" 

"Lewis and Papa: Adventure on the Santa Fe Trail" by Barbara Joosse

"Zoe Gets Ready" by Bethany Murguia 

"The Alamo" by Kristen Nelson 

"The Alamo from A to Z" by William Chemerka 

"The Alamo" by Mary Ann Hoffman 

"The Alamo: An Interactive History Adventure" by Amie Leavitt 

"The Scarecrow's Dance" by Jane Yolen 

"The Giving Tree" by Harper Collins 

"The Little Mouse, THe Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear" by Don and Audrey Wood 

"The Very Busy Spider" by Eric Carle 

"Little House" Virginia Lee Burton 

"The Napping House" Audrey & Don Wood 

"The Little Engine that Could" 

"What if Your Best Friend Were Blue?" by Vera Kochan 


Alexa's Books

"The Fairy Tale Book: Classic Tales from Childhood"  (this book was a collection including Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, Cinderella, the Princess and the Pea, etc.) 


Audrey's Books 

"The ABCs of Nature" 

"The 1 - 2 - 3s of Nature" 

"Monster Knows Shapes" 


Treyton's Reading List: 

"The Dangerous Book for Boys" 

"The Tale of Three Trees" Retold by Angela Hunt 

"Aaron Rodgers" by Jeff Savage 

"Clay Matthews" by Jeff Savage 

"Superman Adventures" by Scott Mc Cloud 

"George and Martha" by James Marshall 

"Trees" by Lisa Gillespie (Usborne) 

"Louisiana" By Judith Hyde 

"Slinky Scaly Snakes" by Jennifer Dussling 

"A Big Ball of String" (a favorite) by Holland 

"Amelia Bedelia" by Peggy Parish 

"Hands Off, Doc Ock!" (a spiderman book) 

"Elephants" by James Maclaine (Usborne Beginners) 

"Rainforests" by Lucy Bowman (Usborne Beginners) 

"Your Body" by Stephanie Turnbull (Usborne Beginners) 

"Weather" by Catriona Clarke (Usborne Beginners) 

"Volcanoes" by Staphanie Turnbull (Usborne Beginners) 

"The Man of Steel: Night of a Thousand Doomsdays" 

"Animal Classics: Amphibians" by Schuetz

"Nate the Great" byMarjorie Weinman Sharmart 

"The Magic School Bus and the Missing Tooth" 

"Storms and Hurricanes" Usborne by Emily Bone 

"Abraham Lincoln" (National Geographics for Kids) by Caroline Gilpin