Goodbye My Faithful Companion

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I never thought this day would come. When I worked at the shelter, I always hated seeing dogs come in because of a change in family situation. But a little over three weeks ago, Swayze bit my baby.

I didn’t see it, and assumed that the mark on her hand and crying was from something else until he bit her again a week later. After two weeks of observing them, it was clear that it was time for them to be separated. Swayze was nervous around her she is obsessed with him. 

A million questions have run through my mind. Is it possible this would end soon? Could we keep them separated until she get a bit older? How will my other kids feel? How will my older dog react?

I kept trying to rationalize and make excuses. Swayze has been my boys’ best buddy and has never hurt them. He is so attached to me! He will learn to love Emma Marie.

But then I started to see the obvious. Over the past two years he has nipped several kids. It started when a sweet cousin was one. We were in shock. This was the dog that let our boys wrestle him. Then he bit two or three girls when we moved last Spring. I started to rationalize that he doesn’t like when strange kids try to pick him up. He would never harm MY kids.

We joked that he doesn’t like girls. We warned everyone that visited with children (he would scratch and bark at the kennel until his paws bled if we locked him up with company over). Everything seemed fine.

Then he bit two of our kids in the same weekend.

Do I blame the dog? No. He was simply protecting himself and what he thinks are his belongings. He never chose to live with three children.

Do I blame the kids? No, they are just being kids and trying to explore. A 10 month old has no idea that a dog’s face is off limits.

Do I blame myself? A little bit, but I really cannot watch three kids and two dogs every second.

So I did the unthinkable…

I started asking close family members if they knew of a suitable home.

Almost immediately, a perfect fit came up. A father and his grown son had been looking for a Shih Tzu. They have had the breed in the past, someone is at home most of the day, and they have two kittens for him to play with. I immediately began to see all the upsides.

My kids won’t run the risk of a dog bite. Swayze will have less stress and someone that will treat him like he is more than a dog. My older dog will have less stress. And our finances will be freed up a bit.

I am sad and will miss my cuddle bug, but I have full confidence that this was the best decision for everyone.

 

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K5 Elective Curriculum Choices

img_5264After yesterday’s rundown of our core curriculum choices, I wanted to share with you what electives we worked through over the past year!

Science and Health

  • In the Beginning by Berean Builders
  • The World God Made by Christian Liberty Press
  • Various Health and Safety Topics

The Berean Builders science series is written by Jay Wile, who wrote a lot of the Apologia books. In the Beginning organizes science topics by the first six days of creation and each “day” contains 15 lessons (example. The first day of creation contains 15 lessons on light, the second day of creation contains 15 lessons on water and air, etc). The last three lessons of each “day” are challenge lessons, that are appropriate for older or more advanced students. Each lesson contains 2-3 pages of reading, a simple experiment, and a few review questions separated by the age range of your student. The reading is a little more complex that what I would expect most kindergarteners to understand, so I modify the program by pre-reading the lesson and explaining it in simple terms. We then do the experiment, talk about the scientific principle we observed, and draw a picture in our science notebook.

The World God Made follows the days of creation as well, but is written for a much younger audience. It is a shorter program and the activities tend to be more arts and crafts based. However, it is a great supplement to our other program.

To teach health and safety, my husband and I are coming up with various topics that need to be addressed with our kids. These topics include bike safety, nutrition, handwashing, emergency preparedness, and various other skills. For each one, we mostly talk about the subject and try to find books at the library to reinforce the skills.

Science has been our “flounder” area. We tend to skip it more often than any other subject and I believe it is because of the academic writing of the Berean Builders book. I loved the curriculum; however, I feel like it is too advanced for this age range. This year we will be switching programs and I cannot wait to share how the change works out for us. I actually plan on keeping “In the Beginning” to use in a few years.

Social Studies

  • DK Learning: Geography Workbook Kindergarten
  • DK First Atlas
  • Tennessee History For Kids: Kindergarten Lessons with Boxy

Ethan loves maps! Every time we visit a bookstore, we go straight to the atlas section! We have enjoyed working through the DK Learning Geography workbook. These are pretty basic black and white map skills books that start at the Preschool level. I also keep a few atlases to look up places when we talk about different countries and states in our reading.

In Tennessee, we have a website called Tennessee History for Kids. It is a good resource for our Tennessee History studies. They have a website full of ideas for field trips and they produce booklets for each grade level. Grades K-3 touch on all of the state social studies standards for those grades, while books for 4th grade and up cover all of the Tennessee history portion of the state social studies standards.

Logic

  • Building Thinking Skills: Beginning
  • Mind Benders Level 1
  • Can You Find Me?

These workbooks from the Critical Thinking Company have been so much fun! Ethan refers to them as the “Play Books” and I use them a lot as a reward for finishing other work. We just finished up the Beginning book, and it has focused a lot on classifying colors, shapes, and types of lines. By far, our favorite activity is “Can You Find Me?,” which consists of a short poem with clues that allow your child to pick out which picture is being described from a list of 4 choices.  We have used “Can You Find Me?” and “Beginning” without having to write in them, so you could use each book with multiple children. However, “Primary” looks like it will have more writing in it, so you may want to consider multiple copies for multiple kids.

Art

  • Artisitic Pursuits K-3 Book 1

When I first started considering art programs, I knew I wanted something that was more “real art” than just cut and paste crafts. I also wanted something that covered a little bit of art appreciation/history. Artistic Pursuits fit the bill exactly. The supplies can be a little bit pricey because they recommend using higher quality materials. You can get around this slightly by getting cheaper materials or using coupons at craft stores. I asked for family members to give art supplies as birthday gifts and many did, so we ended up being gifted almost everything on the supply list. Each lesson in the book has a master piece of art to observe, discuss, and ask questions about. Then your child uses their imagination to create a unique work based off that master work. They work on sketching, painting, clay, and paper art in Book 1.

Misc.

  • Let’s Learn to Cut by Spectrum Workbook
  • Scissor Skills by Melissa and Doug
  • Morning Adapted Work Binder by Mrs. D’s Corner (Teacherspayteachers.com)

I started to notice that I have not focused on fine motor skills much with Ethan! So we have added in a lot of toys that have smaller pieces, such as Legos, Lite Brite, and Beginner Snap Circuits. In addition, I started to give him paper to cut up into pieces. The “Let’s Learn to Cut” book and “Scissors Skills” sheets have been fun additions because they include lots of cutting activities and games while he works on those fine motor skills.

A cousin gave us a binder full of Velcro activities from teacherspayteachers.com that has been great for morning work! While I believe this was designed for a special needs classroom, I think it is appropriate for 3 year-olds through first or second grade.

What curriculum has worked in your homeschool this year?

K5 Core Curriculum Choices

img_5263As we are finishing up a lot of our K5 Curriculum,  I wanted to give a quick update of what we have ended up with for each core subject (Bible, Phonics, Math, Handwriting).

Bible

  • Foundations for Kids by Robby and Kandi Gallaty
  • Beginner’s Bible

I love the Foundations series! It is the heart of our Bible curriculum right now. There are five readings each week for 52 weeks. Each day you will read a short passage of scripture (less than ten verses) and read 3-4 bullet points explaining the verses. There is a small application activity and a short response prayer that follows each reading. An adult and teen version are also available, making this a wonderful family reading plan!

We also use the Beginner’s Bible and several resources that go with it. The simple text makes for great bedtime reading. The DVD is simply someone reading the text and very minimal animation of the same artwork from the book. We pull the DVD out to watch to reinforce what we have read in Foundations (and for me to get things done around the house on occasion). We have also purchased both the Beginner’s Bible Jumbo Activity Book and Coloring Book. I have not been overly impressed with the Activity Book because it is not as organized as I would prefer, and some of the instructions are a little vague. However, it was very inexpensive for such a large book and we have had fun doing some of the activities.

Phonics

  • Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann
  • Leap Frog: Talking Words Factory
  • All About Reading Level 1
  • Bob Books

I am cringing to include Teach Your Child to Read because I personally would never have chosen this as a phonics program. However, I came across it in a free bin at a local used book store and decided to give it a whirl this fall. My son took to it wonderfully! While I thought it was too repetitive and dry, he seemed to finally be grasping how to blend letters together for the first time. I am not sure if it was the timing or the program, but something seemed to click! We only worked through the first 15-20 lessons, which did wonders in boosting his confidence.

Another confidence booster that we stumbled across was the “Talking Words Factory” DVD. We loved the “Letter Factory” movie for learning letter sounds in preschool, and this is simply a continuation of that film. The movie teaches how to read CVC words, vowels, and some special sounds. After watching it twice, my son was begging me to learn how to read, after showing very little interest beforehand.

After boosting his confidence, we worked through All About Reading Level 1. I love the program because it is a multisensory approach to phonics without being too overstimulating. The lesson plans in the teacher’s manual are completely open-and-go. They give step-by-step instructions that are clearly laid out. Each lesson includes simple games printed in black and white, phonogram and word cards to review, and fluency sheets to practice. There are also three readers used throughout the program that have engaging stories with simple black and white illustrations that do not steal focus from the words.

With the excitement of learning to read, comes the dilemma of finding something to read! That’s where Bob Books come in handy. We have especially loved “First Stories” and “Collection 1.” These simple readers have a few short-vowel words on each page and have coordinated well with what we are learning in our phonics program.

Math

  • Math-U-See Primer

Math is by far our favorite subject and I have fallen in love with Math-U-See. It is a multisensory program that uses modified base ten blocks to teach math skills. While the other levels are mastery based, Primer is a simple introduction to mathematical concepts that are all retaught in future levels. It focuses heavily on teaching how to count to 20, the basics of addition, and understanding place value. Each lesson contains a short (approx. 5 minute) video for the teach to watch (although my son watches with me), a short explanation in the teacher’s manual, and 7 practice worksheets. The first three practice sheets of each lesson are new material, the following three are mixed review, and the final sheet is an extension activity. You could probably get by without the teacher’s manual; however, there are some additional tips and game ideas included in it.

Handwriting

  • Various Dollar Tree Workbooks
  • Abeka K4 Worksheets
  • A Reason for Handwriting K

For most of the year, I have been giving my son 2-3 pages from various workbooks that I had on hand. Most were from the Dollar Tree, while some were leftovers from when we tried the Abeka K4 curriculum. I did not focus on the proper formation of letters with him until we started A Reason for Handwriting in April.

What curriculum has worked in your homeschool this year?

Stay tuned for my curriculum choices for electives!

I Saw God in a Green Binder

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***I wrote this post last fall, and never published it. I am not sure why I never published it, maybe it was because it was too personal. It was an impactful moment for me. A green binder may seem insignificant, but it is awesome that we have a God that cares so much about us, that His love pours out even in the smallest of details. We all have our own “green binder” stories, and they are all wonderful expressions of His love for us.***

Over the past few months, Cal has been going through the process to become licensed as a lawyer. He sat for the Bar Exam at the end of July and we are waiting on the results. As a result, his employment (and our source of income) has been a little bit on the irregular side.

We have been cutting out everything “non-essential” and that includes all school supplies. Ask any homeschool family, and having $0 budgeted for school expenses for August-November is difficult. Thankfully, we already had our entire curriculum and I am a supply hoarder, so we really have not needed anything.

One thing I did really want was a binder for the Ethan’s portfolio. I have several white ones, but I really wanted a green binder so that I could eventually have each child’s set of portfolios color coded and green is his favorite color.

I searched high and low for green binders while school supplies were on sale at the start of the school year. The only one I could find was $10, which doesn’t seem like much until you are pulling it out of a bare-bones grocery budget. I decided to settle on a white one that I already owned.

Fast forward almost two months. We are going through our office to prepare for the Cal’s new job and to turn it into a school room/nursery. I pull down my white binders from the shelf to move them into the closet and a green one fell down and hit me square in the face.

I laughed in astonishment. It was an Avery, D-ring, 1.5”, 3 ring binder. Not only was it green, but it was a very close match to Ethan’s expandable file folder that houses all of his preschool work and artwork from the past three years.

There have been so many other moments that we saw God’s provision while we were going through that tight time: a chicken lasting four meals instead of the planned two, a vet bill being half of what I expected, side jobs turning up unexpectedly, and many more. But, for some reason, my green binder has been the moment where I have felt His presence the most.

Share your “Green Binder” Moment in the comments below!

10 Truths About Housekeeping With Young Kids

img_4969.jpgThere are very few of us that LOVE housework! Add in kids and you have to keep a sense of humor or you would go crazy! Here are ten truths that I have discovered since trying to keep up with my little messes (I mean kids)!

  1. You will wonder continuously “Why do they make WHITE baby clothes?”
  2. You know those books that were once alphabetized? Now you just hope they all stay on the shelf and don’t really care if a few spines are facing inwards or books are piled in at odd angles.
  3. That pristine car interior you used to have is now covered in cheerios, goldfish, and whatever that sticky substance is next to the car seat.
  4. Glitter. Everywhere. Forever.
  5. Sometimes you just feed the littles in diapers just so you don’t have extra laundry after spaghetti night.
  6. Your new home décor style: college dorm room meets daycare chic.
  7. You cannot fold towels or sheets without hearing cries of “LET’S BUILD A FORT!”
  8. You dream sweet dreams of magical pixies and fairies doing all of your laundry and dishes because you haven’t seen the bottom of the sink or the laundry basket in months.
  9. You cannot clean a room without humming Daniel Tiger’s “Clean up! Pick Up! Put Away! Clean up, everyday!” (Even when you are cleaning up alone).
  10. Your Google recent searches read like a domestic handbook index: “Get Sharpie off leather,” “get peanut butter out of dog hair,” “get paint out of carpet.”

On a serious note: Sweet mamas, every moment of this chaotic season of our lives is SO worth the clutter. Each little mess was the result of a precious child being loved on by a hard working mom. Cherish each sticky hand print.

Week 1 Training Schedule

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Another week of triathlon training completed! Only 10 more weeks to go!

My Training Schedule for Week 1 (6/3-6/9)

Monday: 5.18 mile bike ride at 9.3 avg mph

Tuesday: 1.95 mile run at 13’16” avg pace

Wednesday: Bike 3.5 miles at 7.4 avg mph and run 1 mile at 13’48” pace

Thursday: Swimming laps in between playing with the kids in the pool (okay, not the best “training,” but I am a mom)!

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: 2.14 mile run at 14’00” avg pace

Fun Moments: On my Monday evening bike ride, a neighborhood kid saw me and was amazed that a grown-up was out riding a bike. He asked if I wanted to race to the end of the street. After I said “sure” and he beat me while doing a lot of coasting, he was overjoyed at winning a race and I couldn’t stop laughing for the next mile.

Training Highs: Once again, on my Monday ride, I hit 9.3 avg mph and the SLIGHT incline that has been challenging for me was so much easier than it had been in the past. I came home feeling like the bike portion of the triathlon is going to be do-able!

Training Lows: During my run on Saturday, I tripped over a piece of tile. I scraped up my shin pretty bad and broke my phone screen protector (and sliced my thumb on the glass the next day because I waited to take it off). Considering how clumsy I am, I am surprised this was my first running injury!

I cannot wait to see what this week has in store!

Onward! Upward! For the Glory of Christ!

Onward! Upward! For the Glory of Christ!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I first started running, I was reminded repeatedly on running blogs to pick out a mantra to help me when training seemed difficult.

A few years ago, I watched a video of a professional athlete who used “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The athlete would open one finger for each word of the popular verse and said that it really made a difference on her endurance training. I have used this method myself a time or two in the past. It helps me focus on who is really doing all the work. But, I did not feel like that should be my mantra, mostly because it is a bit long.

I kept asking myself WHY I was running. And, the answer was “for the glory of Christ.” That answer reminded me of something our former life group leader said quite often to fire up our group: Onward! Upward! For the Glory of Christ!

So, I started telling myself “Onward!” when I felt like I couldn’t go any farther. I started telling myself “Upward!” when I hit a hill that I didn’t think I could reach the top of. And most importantly, when I started questioning “Why?” I would tell myself “For the Glory of Christ!”

Onward! Upward! For the Glory of Christ!

What is your “mantra?”