Just Being Us

Just Being Us
Family, where we can be real, and feel unconditional love!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Our Review of A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks



     For the past year or so, our ten-year-old daughter has been interested in studying sea creatures.  She was so happy when we were picked to review Apologia Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day Lapbook from A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks. This is just one of their many Apologia lapbooks available on their  Apologia Curriculum page.  This lapbook is used along side of Exploring Creation with Zoology 2, Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day from Apologia.  It's one of the books from the Young Explorers Series.  

       The file was easy to download and instructions for printing were easy to follow. We print one lesson at a time, so we only have to store a few pages while we are working on the individual sections.  She was so excited that I had to pace her lessons out or she may have completed an entire lesson in one day.  I want this curriculum to last our entire first semester, then we will be going on to another lapbook after Christmas.  

     I love how you are given a list of materials needed to complete the lapbooks.  We were able to make a basket full of our supplies, so she can just grab it every day knowing she won't have to search for anything.  Our basket includes:
  •  Our printed lesson pages
  •  Our book Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day
  •  Colored file folders (13 for this particular project)
  •  Scissors
  •  Glue
  •  Hole Puncher
  •  Brads
  •  Stapler
  •  Crayons and colored pencils 
     Our daughter is an independent person. She loves doing everything on her own. I have given her an itinerary to follow and off she goes.  Each day she reads the required pages in her book ( the pages she needs to read are highlighted in bold text on the top of each mini-booklet page), then she follows the instructions on putting her lapbook together.  The directions are easy to understand. She has not had any issues so far.

    After completing her daily activities, she brings it to me so I can check her work.  There is an answer key in the back of the lapbook.  They also have a list of suggested reading to go along with the study.  After we make sure she has all the work done correctly, she has me take a picture of her and her lapbook,  she so can see her progress. 



     If you have a student who enjoys hands on projects, lapbooking may be for you.  Our daughter doesn't realize how much she is learning as she completes each lesson because she is having so much fun doing it.  She has never enjoyed science class, but now she can't wait to work on her science lessons.  A Journey Through Learning lapbooks are fun yet educational. They keep the child involved in each assignment.  They have made my job much easier.  No more whining when it's time to do science.  




     Shhhhhh,  don't tell my daughter, but these lapbooks also incorporate writing and critical thinking skills. By following the directions on each page, they are exercising their thinking skills.  As they write the answers in the booklets, they are practicing their writing skills.  This is a wonderful bonus!!! 

     So, have I peaked your curiosity yet?  Are you wanting to learn more about lapbooking?   If you want to learn more about these wonderful educational tools, please check out A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks website or you can find them on their social media pages: 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AJourneyThroughLearning/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AJTL_Lapbooks  
Google+:  https://plus.google.com/+AJourneyThroughLearningLapbooks
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/ajtl_lapbooks/


     I have always liked to read what others think of products before I buy them.  If you are like me, you may want to head over here for more reviews of this resource and a few others.  
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Lapbooks for Classical Conversations, Apologia, Inventors & 20th Century {A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks Reviews}

Friday, August 25, 2017

Managing Anxiety While Living Life



     Today, I am going to be sharing my experience with anxiety. It is not easy to open up about such a private issue, but I feel like it may help other mamas dealing with similar issues. I want to encourage others who may be suffering in silence. You are not alone. 

     About three years ago, my world was turned upside down.  So many changes were occurring that my head was spinning.  My body didn't take the stress very well.  I started having severe panic attacks.  I didn't want to leave my bedroom for days at a time.  I couldn't control my thoughts. No matter what I tried, I would come back to feelings of sadness and fear.  

      It wasn't long until I felt like a failure.  I couldn't be the mom, wife, or homeschooling teacher I once was.  All I wanted to do is sit in my bed crying.  I wanted to change things, but I had no idea what to do.  The harder I tried, the more anxiety I felt.  I was in a pit and no one could help me out of it.  I had to figure out what was going on. I began researching what could be causing this.

     I soon found out that my body was completely depleted from all the stress I had endured over my life.  Even as a child, I didn't have a stress-free life.  My mom was sick from the many heart surgeries she had, my dad got Alzheimer's when I was just a teen.  I had brothers and sisters who were suffering from drug and alcohol addictions. I had to grow up at an early age.  When I was old enough to marry, that is exactly what I did. Then came our children.  Three within 3 years.  Being a young woman, my body dealt with things better than when I got older.  

      By the time I was 40 years old, I had six children here with me, and one in heaven. I was trying to do too much. I always put my needs on the back burner and it was taking its toll. I didn't realize what was going on until I began having the severe anxiety issues. 

     Normal life changes and challenges were not so normal to my body.  Our oldest daughter had moved out, our oldest son was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes, and a few other little things were happening as well.  This was too much for me to handle, yet I sure tried. My body was refusing to cooperate anymore.  I began having one panic attack after another. I couldn't control my body anymore. Things got worse when I had people giving me advice about a situation they had no business giving advice on.  I was even told I was having these issues because I wasn't serving God the way I should.... this only pushed me deeper into that pit.  

     During my research, I found out that I could get help for these attacks. First I had to allow God to show me that  I wasn't sick because I was not obeying Him.  I was sick because I was failing to take care of the body He had given me. I must begin healing my body by taking care of myself. All those years, I had spent meeting the needs of others, was causing more harm than I realized. For years I didn't sleep or eat right. I didn't take vitamins on a regular basis.  I was suffering because of bad choices. I had to get my body back on track.

      I started by letting go of a lot of things. I had to let God guide me in doing what He was calling me to do instead of everything I thought I was supposed to be doing.  Even good things can cause stress if we are attempting to do too much. I also started using essential oils, vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements to help me build my body back up and be able to handle stress without having anxiety attacks.  It took a few months, but the everyday panic attacks did begin to subside to only a couple a week. When I began learning more techniques to cope with stress like breathing exercises and focusing on positive thinking, they got even better.

      I have also learned to delegate.  I can't do everything on my own. I can ask for help!!!  I am not required to run myself ragged in order to look busy all the time.  I can take time to rest. I can say no.  It's OKAY!!!!!

Bible Journaling is a great way to help you relax. Spending Time with the Lord is always a great way to help relieve stress and anxiety. 

      I'm not going to lie and say I have it all together now.  I have days I slip back into my old way of dealing with things and my stinking negative thinking, but it's better than before.  I catch myself now and stop things before they get out of control.  I stop and pray a lot during my day. I ask the Lord for His strength instead of trying to handle things on my own.  I am very good about taking my supplements and using my oils on a daily basis.  I am taking better care of me now.  It has changed my life for the better in many ways.  This version of me is more relaxed and calm.  I don't freak out at every little thing like I did before.  I am happier!!!! 

      As I finish this post, I want you to know that if you are suffering like I was, please don't suffer in silence. Please talk with someone. Let them know what is going on.  You don't have to go through this alone.  There is help for you!!!  It may look different than what I did to get better and that's okay!!!  The important thing is for you to feel better.  I will be praying for everyone reading this post and I am here if you need to talk.  

     

     


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Our Review of The Everyday Family Chore System



     I don't know about you, but I am always looking for ways to improve our home and the way we do things.  I love things to run smoothly. I was thrilled to find out we would be reviewing  The Everyday Family Chore System from Everyday Homemaking. I want to make chore time a learning experience and not just a job.  The system taught in this book is perfect for teaching our children responsibility and life skills.

     The book begins with an introduction then the system is broken down into three parts:

  •  Part One - Laying a Foundation
  •  Part Two - Implementing the Plan
  •  Part Three - The Actual Chore System
     
     In Part One, you will be taught the importance of laying a foundation for your children.  Vicki Bentley states that "Child training is the first step to successful home management training."  I have to agree with her 100%.  The best way to train our children is to be godly examples for them to follow.  If they see us serving others and serving God, they will more than likely want to do the same.  If they choose to make a wrong decision along the way, we need to let them learn from their mistakes and allow them to see the consequences of their actions.  

      If you have ever read my blog before today, you know that I am a huge believer that we must teach our children godly character qualities from the moment they can understand what we are saying. As they grow in character, life skills will be easier to teach. They will have the right heart towards their work.  Vicki talks about similar things like this throughout Part One. 

     Part Two is where the work begins..... You get to implement what you have been taught in Part One.  I absolutely love the life skills checklist that is included in Part Two.  It will give you a list of chores that are age appropriate.  This will help you when assigning the jobs to your family members.  

     Vicki gives you several ways to go about setting up your home management system.  It's all about making the system work for your family. Each family has different needs, so she makes it easy to design around your particular season of life.  If you have all little ones, you will set up your home system differently than a family with teens or a mix of ages. I love how adaptable it is. 

     This is what we came up with using her suggestions for the reproducible job labels and how-to-do-it cards found in Part Three. 

Our laminated how-to-do-it cards

Our chore chart with jobs.
 I printed the job cards
from the book, then we glued them
 onto clothes pins.


This is where I keep our
unused job labels and
how-to-do-it cards
until we need them.


     As you can see we gave it our own flair and I added our family motto 😊.  So far it has been working really well, and the kids like having rotating chores.  They are not stuck doing a chore they don't like for more than a day at a time.  They are also learning how to do different jobs around the house with ease by following the how-to-do-it cards.  I am loving the cooperation we are seeing. Such a nice change from the arguing we were witnessing before.  

     I encourage you to check out Everyday Homemaking. I don't think you will be disappointed. You can also find them on

     
      Would you like to read more reviews of this product 
and others from Everyday Homemaking? 
 Just follow the link below πŸ‘‡

Everyday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}

Monday, August 21, 2017

What Would I Do Differently?????



     Recently, I read a post that asked the question: "What would you do differently?"  This post was regarding the differences between your homeschooling style now and when you first started.  When I read this question, I immediately thought..... "EVERYTHING!"

     I use to be such a rigid and unrealistic homeschool mom.  For some reason, I thought I had to design our homeschool to look just like a "normal" school.  I thought that in order to give my children the proper education, I needed to mimic what was going on in our public schools. I had us on a very strict schedule. We would get school started every day by 8 and we wouldn't stop until 2 or 3.  I would give my kids two 15 minute recesses and a 30 minute lunch time.  They were required to sit at their desk or table for most of the day.  I would get very aggravated when our schedule was interrupted. 

     As I look back on those days, it makes me want to cry.  I didn't get it at all.  Homeschooling is not about making a school at home.  It's about learning together as a family.  Letting your children explore the world.  Helping them find what they are good at doing.  Giving them the tools they need to accomplish what the Lord wants them to be.  Oh, how I wish I could go back and tell that young homeschooling mom to RELAX!!!!! 


     Our homeschool looks a lot different today. As a matter of fact, it's totally different.  I am more laid back.  We have more time for play. We still have an agenda to keep but it is not a rigid schedule set in stone.  If we feel like taking a nature walk or heading out to the park, we do it. If someone comes over, we feel free to stop our school work and enjoy their company. We don't have a designated school room. We may do school on the couch, floor, or kitchen table. We have books all around the house. We have freedom! We now have a home that feels warm and inviting, not a house that looks like a school. 

     My children have more time to pursue what they love. God has given each of them special talents and it is my job to make sure they have everything they need to develop those abilities. They are happy. I am happy.  Our home is peaceful.  I didn't say our home is quiet because it is rarely quiet. The peace is in our hearts and minds. 




     I will admit that I still have days where I slip back into my old mentality.  I get worried that my children aren't getting enough "schooling", but then I am reminded how well they are doing. They are thriving.  They are learning each and every day.  As I sit and talk with them, I am astonished at how much they know.  There are days they teach me more than I teach them. It amazes me. 

      Homeschooling is an adventure and I don't want to miss anything. I want my children to love their learning experience. I pray that the memories we make today will put a smile on their face when they look back on them tomorrow.  My goal is to instill a love of learning in them that will overflow into their homes one day. 

     So I ask you... What would you do differently? 


Friday, August 18, 2017

Dear Homeschooling Mama.... A Message of Hope


     Welcome to our final day of the Annual Back to Homeschool BLOG HOP. Today we want to offer some encouragement to you! 


     I have a confession to make. Even though I have been homeschooling for almost 20 years, I still have days that I feel inadequate and unsure of my abilities to homeschool my children. On those days, you will find me in tears sitting on the couch. After a good cry and lots of praying, God reminds me that He has called me to do this and He is the one who equips me to be able to teach my kids.  I am not alone!  I don't have to lean on my own strength, He is there to get me through. He has put people in my path that will encourage me and provide advice that I need along the way. 

     No matter where you are on this homeschooling journey, I want you to know that you are not alone.  It doesn't matter if you are in your first year or twentieth year, you need support, encouragement, and someone to help you when you feel that you can't go on.  Homeschooling has many rewards, but it also can take its toll on us mamas.  If we don't have a support system, we tend to get so weary that we fall apart.  

     Each morning I have to get up early and spend time with Jesus.  I know if I don't that my day will not go well. Those are the days you find me crying on the couch.  I need Him!  He gives me the energy and stamina I need to make it through whatever may come my way.  For years I tried to homeschool without Him and without friends, and let me tell you, it was a bust!  I was frustrated. My children were discontented.  It was a huge mess. It wasn't until I put my pride aside and learned to rely on Christ and those dear ones He brought into my life,  that our homeschool began to thrive. 

    Being a mom is hard.  Being a homeschooling mom is even harder.  We get criticized and sometimes ostracized because of our choice to teach our children at home. That is why it is so important to have close friends or family that offer support. For me, I have two very best friends who come along side of me and give me encouragement when I am feeling down, and a kick in the pants when I want to give up.  We all need that.  Don't fool yourself into thinking you can do it all by yourself.   

       I will be the first to admit that I am still learning as our family continues on this adventure together, but now God has me helping others in their journey as well.  I love to encourage moms. That is why I have a blog.  I want to share my mistakes and successes.  I would like for others to learn from my blunders so they may not have to make the same ones.  It is hard to open up and be honest about my faults, but if it will help just one mama to feel better than it is worth it. 

     I pray that my ramblings are a blessing to you. I pray each day for those coming to read my posts. I ask the Lord to speak through me. He is our ROCK and will provide what we need to be the best homeschooling mamas we can be.  Allow Him to work in you and through you and I promise everything else will fall into place.  


Would you like to read more notes of encouragement?
 Come on over to the Blog Hop ↙



     

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Homeschooling Outside the Home



     Who said all homeschooling has to be done at home? Welcome to day 4 of the Annual Back to Homeschool BLOG HOP!!! Today we will be talking about ways to teach outside of the home.

       There are so many ways for us to teach our children outside the walls of our homes. From trips to the grocery stores to joining homeschooling co-ops, we can learn anywhere! 

     Over the past 20 years, we have had many different locations where we have taught our children. We have learned through serving our community, helping our fellow man, and by exploring our world.  

      So far four of our children have served as Firefighter Cadets.  After months of rigorous training they would help our local firefighters on real calls like fires and car accidents.  Not one minute were they in harms way, but they were a great help to our firefighters. 


    After we lost our son Caleb in 2006, we wanted to reach out to our community and help other hurting families.  We did this by hosting a yearly Babyloss and Healing Memory Walk.  Each one of our children contributed something to the walk. Our oldest daughter even wrote a special song for the families.  This was a learning experience that I wish we hadn't endured, but God taught us a lot through it all. 


     
     We have learned so much by just getting out and exploring God's creation through fishing, boating, and hiking. 



     
     My husband has taught my children about mechanics by letting them work beside him. He was always careful to make sure their safety was first and foremost, but they learned best by getting their hands dirty and doing some of the work themselves. 


     My favorite way to teach outside of our house is by taking fun but educational field trips.  We may go to our local library or take a road trip to another state. We love visiting museums and science centers. 


      We live in a little city so we love finding places that expose our children to different things like farm animals. You will find many of these exhibits at local fairs in the summer.





     I feel it can be good for our kids to take lessons outside of the home. You can choose swimming, gymnastics, or an instrument they are interested in learning to play. 




     Sometimes you don't need to go any farther than your backyard to have an outdoor adventure :)  


     We feel learning can take place almost anywhere.  If you take time to look at your surroundings, you can find teachable moments all throughout your day.  I love being able to homeschool our kids.  It is a blessing from God!

     Do you have fun ways that you teach outside of your home?  I would love to hear about it!


COME ON OVER & JOIN THE FUN!!!
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What's On Your Agenda?


     If you have read my blog before, you know how much I enjoy planning. I was excited to see this topic for day three of the Annual Back to Homeschool BLOG HOP

     I love planning our days. I think we need to have an agenda to follow so we don't waste our time. I use to plan each minute of our day, but I found that to be a burden on my family. It was also a hindrance when God would lead us to do other things than what was on my "to-do" list.  I was convicted of being too rigid and God has changed my heart. 

      Instead of having a schedule to follow that has strict time limits, we follow a loose agenda where we have certain things we need to get done by the end of the day.  We do try to get our school agenda finished before dinner time so we can have our evenings free. 


      For our actual school work, I have a planner where I write down the assignments of my youngest two children. I fill this out every Monday morning. Our daughter's work is written in purple and our son's assignments are written in green. If we have missed any assignments from the past week, due to illness or other issues, I can add them to the new week. 

     In addition to keeping a record of assignments, I also keep track of their grades and attendance. Since we do the 6 weeks on, 1 week off method of scheduling our school days, it's best for this busy mama to monitor our days. At the end of our 6 weeks, I hand out report cards. They love sharing how they are progressing with their siblings and daddy.  

  

     My Senior in high school is responsible for writing down his assignments for each day so we have records of what he is working on and what has been completed.  I check his assignments once a week unless he is having issues with a subject. I feel at this age, he is more than capable of working independently and keeping a schedule of his own. He does a good job. He knows we trust him and he does not want to break that trust. He knows he will be held accountable for the choices he makes. Teaching him this concept will help him later when he gets a job and is trusted to do a task without being watched. 

     I have been told that I am old school when it comes to keeping records and planning. I have tried digital planners in the past and it was not my cup of tea. I love having a physical planner that I can write in and make my own. I feel our planner is easy for the children to read and understand. Maybe one day I will change my mind, but for now, this system works for us.

     With all the choices out there, I would love to know how you keep records and plan your school days?  I enjoy hearing how other families plan their days. 




     

Have you joined in the fun?
πŸ‘‡

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

School Supplies We Can't Live Without


     Welcome to day two of the Annual Back to Homeschool BLOG HOP! Today we are talking about the school supplies we just can't live withoutπŸ˜‰          

     I love going back to "school" shopping.  Getting new pencils, notebooks, and folders put a smile on my face.  Maybe it's because this use to be one of my favorite back to school activities as a child. My kids like it too. They love looking through all the new stuff available. I enjoy seeing them pick out their own special items that will help them to succeed in school. 

    One thing I always do each year is wait for those back to school sales that the stores have. You can get all your supplies for a better price if you wait. I also try to stock up on enough to last the entire year. We have plenty of storage area so we are able to do this. I remember a time when we didn't have the room to stock pile school supplies and buying them mid-year was so expensive.

     On top of the necessary things like pencils, paper, pens, and paints, we have school supplies that we use year to year that we can't live without.  Here they are: 

  Our Bibles!



Our 6 Bookcases


Our Diffusers and Essential Oils


Our Legos & other building toys


Our Dual Desks and Desktop Computers


Our Dining Room Table


Our Learning Games


Our "Thinking" Chair
We love reading here too!



     The final items on our list are craft supplies, Kindles, and library cards. We can't imagine our homeschool without all these wonderful resources. They help us in our endeavor to learn. These tools make learning more enjoyable and help our days go more smoothly. 

     As we continue to homeschool, I am sure we will have new favorites from year to year. As our family grows and learns together we will have different needs that will bring about unique changes in our home. I have already watched so many transitions occur and I look forward to seeing what God has for us in the future. 



     What are your favorite school supplies? Are there some that you can't live without? 😊





Come join the fun!
πŸ‘‡
     


Monday, August 14, 2017

Let's Talk Curriculum



     I am so excited to be a part of the Annual Back to Homeschool BLOG HOP.  Today we will be talking about homeschool curriculum.

     When we started homeschooling 20 years ago, I thought that my children needed to have a certain type of curriculum in order to give them a good education.  I was under the impression that only the expensive textbooks were good enough. I would have to buy the entire set from only one publisher and it had to be new.  BOY WAS I WRONG!  This way of thinking not only cost our family a large amount of money, it also caused struggles in many areas.  Some of the books I bought were not a good fit for my children.  It took years for me to figure out that each child had a different learning style and the curriculum I purchased needed to match the way they learn. 


    Each year I sit down and focus on what curriculum would be best for each of my children. I have had to change my way of thinking in order to meet their needs.  Our son Ryan, who is a Senior this year, loves to have books that he can physically hold in his hands.  He doesn't care for digital books or online classes.  For him, we can buy gently used textbooks & workbooks and he is a happy camper. Our youngest son Josh enjoys learning through online classes, so most of his classes will be on the computer.   Hope, our youngest daughter, loves unit studies and anything that brings creativity to her lessons. She doesn't mind learning math through a textbook, but her other classes must be hands on or she gets bored.  

     Would you like to know some of our favorite choices for curriculum?  Here is our list for each subject:

     * Bible  - Wiersbe Bible Studies
                    Greek 'n' Stuff Bible Studies

     * Language Arts - A Beka Language Arts
                                  A Beka Grammar & Composition 
                                  Readers in Residence by Apologia
                                  Institute for Excellence in Writing

     * Math - Saxon Math
                   UnLock Math, Online Classes

     * History/Social Studies - Heritage Studies from BJU Press
                                             The Home School In The Woods Publishing History                                                         Studies

     * Science - Fascinating Education, Online Classes
                       Novare Science & Math
                       A Beka Science

     * Art - Art Achieve, Online Classes

     * Computer - Compuscholar, Online Classes

     These are just a few of our favorites.  We also love to use classes from  SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  They have so many wonderful classes to choose from that I won't even try to list them.  The videos and planners are wonderful as well.  


     It's not always easy finding the right tools to help my children learn, but I feel it's worth the effort.  As a young mom I didn't pay attention to what my children were trying to tell me as they sat there crying through the lessons I had planned out for them. I just figured they were being defiant and not wanting to do their schoolwork.  Oh if I had only known what I know now. I could have saved us many days of tears and frustration. Now that I have grown up, I want to share my wisdom and experiences with other moms so they will learn from my mistakes. Take some time and figure out their learning style. Understand that each child will have different needs.  It's important to remember that curriculum is not one size fits all.  


     How do you choose your curriculum? Do you have some favorites that you would like to share?  I would love to hear from you!!!




Come on over and join in the fun πŸ‘‡