12.01.2016

Book Review: Kids Study Bible (David Jeremiah)



I must say right from the start, this Bible is one I would definitely recommend for children! Here's why.

It is the NKJV, which is one our family has come to use most of the time for devotions, study, and history. The NKJV follows the KJV very closely in text, but is a bit easier for young ones to grasp. That being said, it is a true Bible with complete Biblical text--all 66 books are there. I love that because the gospel isn't watered down just because the Bible is intended for children.

In the first few pages, your child will "meet" the crew members of the Genesis Exploration Squad, who "travel" aboard the Airship Genesis. On this ship, they have the ability to travel back into time to delve into the Bible as it unfolds.
Throughout the journey, they point out different truths of God's Word to young readers, which I find does not overshadow the message of the Scriptures.

Some of the key features are Mission Overviews that give a summary and purpose of each book of the Bible; Rupert Reports which gives interesting facts about Bible history; and Bible Blasts which are specially marked Scriptures for children to learn.

It has traditional features as well, such as a Table of Contents, a Concordance, and maps interspersed with the text. It even includes full color pictures of Bible characters and stories, which children will enjoy.

Which brings me to my (short) list of drawbacks. Although the pictures are nice, it always bothers me when I see images that don't try to be Biblically accurate as far as ethnicity. The clothing is appropriate for the time, but the people could use a little work.

Next, the foreword is given by David Jeremiah, which is great, as the Airship Genesis is a brand from his children's ministry. However, I don't think his name should be larger than the words "Kids Study Bible" on the cover and title pages. It distracts from the fact that it is a Bible and not some other book.

Finally, the color scheme--navy blue and orange--may not be neutral enough for girls. When I saw it, I thought of my sons rather than my daughters.

Even still, I am glad to have found this Bible. It is geared towards children ages 7 to 11. I think it can go a little younger to a little older. I plan on giving it to my 5 year old for Christmas, since he's been wanting his own Bible, just like his older siblings. He realizes that his own children's Bible doesn't have the same words as ours and I think it's important to let children hear the the Scriptures without paraphrasing. So I'm excited to see his reaction at having a real Bible with features that are appealing to kids.

What Bible do you use with your children? Do you prefer one version over another?


(I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

11.18.2016

How Does Your Husband Teach?



Us moms, we are different from our husbands in many ways, as it should be. Different tones of voice, different in stature, different in our mannerisms.....we bring different dynamics to the atmosphere of the home.

So, it should be no surprise that our husbands' teaching and parenting styles are different from our own. But somehow, we are still surprised.

In my own marriage, I've learned to embrace my husband's way with our children, rather than criticize him at every turn. Nope, his style is not mine, and nope, I probably won't ever bear hug our children down to the floor, while tickling them mercilessly, only to have them come back asking for more. Not quite my style. But one thing is for sure:
God chose him to be the father of our children and equipped him to fulfill that task. I have to let him live that out before God, without badgering him to do it my way.
Another thing I've learned is that, whatever is dear to my husband, chances are he will use it as a means to teach the kids. Some husbands are number-crunchers, others hunt or fish. Some husbands build things while others play guitar. Whatever it is, it is likely your husband will use it to get his point across.

My husband is a former college football player, with a coaching minor. His teaching tool: sports, athletics, fitness, physical activity....however you'd like to phrase it. Now, although I knew this about him before we were married, and cheered for him to score in several football games, I didn't really know until after marriage.

I had no idea that he ran miles per day or did that many push ups and sit ups at a time. I'd never heard of a 3-count jumping jack or ever exercised until my stomach hurt. My husband would seek out tracks, fields, and stadium stairs for running and training. After his football days were over. He still does. So.not.me. My idea of fitness is to do an aerobics video or spend 20-30 minutes on the elliptical. Yeah, big difference.

So, when we had children, naturally for him, he would share this with them. Initially for me, it seemed foreign, awkward, and made no sense at all. But over the years, I've come to realize how much wisdom my husband is sharing with our kids, while they're sweating and running in an open field.

They're learning specific sports skills and how to keep physically fit, but they are learning so much more. Hard work. Dedication. Pushing through the pain. How to fall and get back up. Confidence. Mental is greater than physical. Progress. Patience. Grit. Determination. Teamwork. Don't quit. Togetherness. Encouragement. Loyalty.

I've listened as my husband has connected what he's teaching them with what they have to face in life. Sports skills become life skills, how worthy things take commitment and time, that consistent work must be done. Don't give up at the first sign of adversity, but keep the end goal in mind.

Maybe I've learned a few things myself.

Trust your husband, even if it is the opposite of the way you do it. God gave children fathers for a reason.

What are the ways your husband teaches? Does he use a hobby or skill to do it?


Originally written for Our Homeschool Forum.

Letting Go: When Your Curriculum Isn't Working



I think most every homeschooling mama has been there. You've found the perfect Science series for your daughters. It fits right in with your Classical education style, it goes along with the History period you're studying, it has experiments and diagrams and has a good emphasis on scientific vocabulary. Actually, this was my experience with my girls a few years ago. It was perfect...in theory....on paper.

I just knew it would be a winner, but it wasn't. The information was organized in a way that was different from how my children think; it didn't flow well for us. So because the information was disjointed, it effected my girls' learning. But, I was determined to make it work!

I highlighted key words, people, and phrases. I "sticky-noted" pages left and right. I gave further instructions on how to complete each assignment. I mean I tweaked and tweaked as much as I could because after all, I paid for it, right?

Wrong.

The more I tried, the worse it got for my daughters. One was just completely lost. Looking back on it, I know she tried, but she was overwhelmed with the number of tasks she had to do each Science class. The other began to see Science as a subject she didn't enjoy. Instead it was nothing more than a box to be checked off of a to-do list. So, she would complete assignments satisfactorily, but was unable to explain what she learned.

Frustrating for all involved. This happened during my early years of homeschooling and I was afraid to try something else in the middle of the school year. Even though it was clear to me that switching to a more suitable curriculum was what we needed, I froze. And we struggled our way through Science that entire year.

Reflecting on that time, here's what I learned:

It is wise to let go of the "perfect" curriculum if it isn't working for your family. I'm not talking jumping ship at the first sign of difficulty without trying again. I'm not suggesting that you don't give the curriculum due diligence. However, if you've done what you can to make adjustments and they aren't working, then changing your plans is best.

Struggling through a poor curriculum choice is a terrible learning experience. I could see the disinterest in my girls' eyes every single time we pulled the Science books out. This from girls who run outside with an insect encyclopedia to identify the butterflies in the back yard or who wait in great expectation for Ranger Rick magazines to come in the mail. I could no longer get them to engage, which meant little satisfaction in the learning process.

Make the necessary changes guilt-free. One of the best reasons for homeschooling is being able to tailor my children's education. Yes, I spent money on the curriculum. Yep, it should have worked great with my teaching method. But  I should never have felt bound by either of those things. I have access to flexibility and a ton of wiggle room in homeschooling that I can't be ashamed to use.

I'm learning to relax. Teaching from a state of anxiety and stress is not healthy, not for me or my family. The world wouldn't have exploded if I had taken a couple weeks off of Science to find a more suitable curriculum. There wouldn't have been a gaping hole in their learning had I switched to something else. In fact, my girls probably would have learned more if I'd given them that time to explore the backyard and research things on their own.

Here are two truths someone once told me that help me "keep calm and carry on" with homeschooling: 1) I have 18 years between birth and college to teach my kids what they need to know. 2) I can't teach my kids everything there is to know about everything. That perspective is freeing.

Hopefully my experience is helpful to you on what to do (or, what not to do) if you find yourself in a similar situation. If you've already faced something like this, how did you overcome it?


10.13.2016

Homemaking: Bridging the Gaps




The Titus 2 mandate is a lovely one. It calls upon Christian men and women to reach beyond their own generation, to take the hand of a younger one, showing them side-by side how to live, work, and function in the context of home, family, and community--how their conduct as Christians should please God.
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Titus 2:1-5
For the Ladies, naturally, our primary "older woman" would be our own mothers. Other influential older women may also be grandmothers, aunts, and friends . However, as I've mentioned before, a gap exists between the women of old and the young women today. It seems with each generation born, the gap widens. With the major influence feminism had on society in the 60s and 70s, the culture shifted and women began leaving their homes in search of something society told them was greater: do whatever it is a man can do to prove your worth and place in society.

Problem was, God had already given both the worth and the place, but those were largely exchanged--exchanged, not accompanied by or added to, but exchanged--for careers, more education, monetary pursuit, promotion, and notoriety. Those pursuits mean less time at home, which means less time and attention spent on the home and those that dwell there. In recent conversations about homemaking with my mother, a working woman during my entire childhood, she said to me, "Stacie, the truth is, I can do many things, but how many things am I really doing well?"

In stepping out of the calling God had for the woman, you see the pull, the tug of war: women trying to be both things and in two places at the same time. Demanding freedom from the home, yet wanting to be the best wives and mothers they can be. Then we hear the phrases "super mom" who is the woman that "does it all" because she's been told "you can have it all." Funny thing is, you don't see the men (historically) trying to maintain their roles as husbands and providers, while also demanding to birth children and stay home to raise them.



In all of the commotion, the art and beauty of homemaking has been lost and undervalued in society. And young girls grow up to be smart, bright, and brilliant women, who don't know how to cook a decent meal, keep a home, or organize a day spent with their own children. More importantly, these women don't even realize the sacredness of the tasks set before them, how the home is a woman's domain, how she sets the tone and attitude, how home is where she creates a haven for her husband, and it's where she guides her children in right ways. Many don't understand the beauty of refinement that God brings forth in the day-to-day duties of home life.

I know, because I feel like I'm a late bloomer. I tell people that I feel like an "Eve" without a model for many of the things that come with the territory of being the wife and mother of a first-generation homeschooling family with 7 children. I am so hungry and thirsty for true Titus 2 encounters that I look for them everywhere. I want to know what the older women can teach me about loving and doing life with my husband, about raising children and loving my family well, how to bring about love and beauty and joy by the way I live and how I work with my hands right in my own home. Thirsty. Hungry.

So, what is the point in all of this?
We are all "older women" to someone, whether that is to our own daughters, or to the young newlywed bride, or to the new homeschooling mom. We should do more sharing of what we know rather than the selling of what we know. I get it. Writing a book or a making some income through blogging or vlogging is not a crime, and the Word does NOT forbid it. In fact, these are things I've considered myself. However, the basics of homemaking, the ins and outs of running a household, teaching how to love husbands and children....these things we are instructed to teach within the Body of Christ. I get so excited to see online workshops and courses for homemaking and learning to be a better wife and mother, because someone has taken the time to put information together, specifically targeting the Titus 2 mandate. . . .only to find out that I have to pay $30 or more to access the information. I'm thinking, shouldn't homemaking be free? 

Why are women able to capitalize in this way? Because there are women out there wanting to be shepherded and guided in this area. Because many of us are lacking these skills in our own lives and we need help figuring out what exactly we are to do at home (again, the generational gap) AND because many of the older women and younger women, in real life, aren't connecting with each other in our churches and communities. I have learned more about Christian homemaking, and its purpose before the Lord, from blogs, books and Facebook groups than I have from women in real life. Although I had/have great relationships with my grandmothers, mother, and aunts, I didn't know to treasure and seek out those qualities, characteristics, skills and such that would aid me specifically in keeping my home. It just wasn't emphasized when I was growing up, not even on the radar.


So, I'm seeking the Lord on what I can do to bridge this gap in a specific, tangible way among the women and girls I'm around. Still mulling it over, but I think it is imperative that we start somewhere in sharing the importance of Biblical womanhood and homemaking. And, that we can freely share, in love and in community with each other, as an offering to God.

My start begins with my own daughters. I have answered the Lord's call to blog here, not fully knowing the reason why when I started. Over time, many of the reasons have unfolded. In part, this blog is a record of sorts. It is a way for me to document this journey for my girls. One day, I hope my daughters can look at this and know that I tried hard to live out this call of wife and mother and that I stressed that importance to them. I hope my girls will see the beauty and sacredness of such a call and treasure it and not wish away the work and effort it takes to be diligent in their homes. I pray that homemaking is a labor of love that they feel equipped for and are ready to pass down to the next generation. And even for my sons, I hope they can look at this and cherish their own wives and have a great understanding of the importance and the blessing their wives will be in the heart of their homes.

I am grateful also for what I have learned from other women who blog and describe things down to the details on the "how to's" of Titus 2 wisdom. And, I am thankful for readers who have left comments and shared amazing advice, and for the lasting friendships I've formed with some of you outside of blogging. I also hope to be an encouragement to other women as I struggle and triumph my way through life as a daughter of the King, wife to one amazing man, and a mama to as many as God will give.


9.13.2016

Mealtime Learning


Looking to fit more "school" into your day? Want to do more, but you can't bear the thought of another class period? Maybe you have that one subject that is way down low on the totem pole, that you just never seem to get to, but you know you should? Or maybe you need a time to reinforce a few concepts or go over memory work.

Here's how to do it : Couple it with a meal.

Yep, that's right, just as plain and simple as that. Take a relaxed approach and do it at an already scheduled meal time. Here's what that looks like in the No Idle Bread household...

Breakfast Time
Here is were we eat of the Bread of Life daily through Bible time. We study the Word, recite Scripture (memory work), learn catechism, sing or listen to a worship song (or two) , discuss a sermon, learn a hymn, play Bible flip, copy a verse, etc. Now, we definitely don't do all of those things every morning. However, breakfast has become the time we focus on God's Word to begin our school day.

Lunch Time
Here is where we do one of our favorites--read alouds. It is a great way to get in good, wholesome, classic books that the family can enjoy together. It works well for us since my kiddos are all seated, hands are busy with their food, but ears are open to listen to me read.

Another thing we do during lunch is Health. My state requires it and frankly, I don't always see the need for book work in this subject. So we pick a topic, watch a video on it or listen to an article while we munch, and then discuss it. Later, I'll ask the kids to create a notebook page about what they've learned.

Dinner Time
Usually dinner is just fun family conversation. But, every now and then, we may do a bit of History discussion. My kids usually do independent History reading in the afternoon. By dinner time, they are bubbling over with information to share about what they read. We also keep a map of the world up on our kitchen wall, which has been great for impromptu discussions about other countries and cultures over time.

Sometimes, my husband will have some fun with a bit of "logic": table games (testing observation and attention to detail), riddles, puzzles, word games, tongue-twisters and the like. Trust me, it's hilarious, but the kids are still learning.

These are a few ways we combine a meal with school to make learning easier....really, it's another way that homeschooling has become a way of life. These times "count" as times of learning. Don't discredit them. Record it as part of your child's accomplishments in school and enjoy getting it done!

What lessons are learned around your table? Do you couple meals and learning? What other ways do you fit learning in?




Originally written for Our Homeschool Forum

9.11.2016

For This Child I Prayed



"For this child I prayed,
and the Lord has granted me my petition
which I asked of Him."

1 Samuel 1:27

Dear Sweet Girl,
Constant prayer is where I stayed as the Lord knitted you together in my womb. Some day I'll be able to utter the words to describe it all. Here's what's most important: I prayed and He heard my cry, every. single. time. God never fails. I love you, Baby Q.

-Mommy

Scripture and Snapshot

8.20.2016

Planning Our Homeschool



The title sums up what I've been doing this past month. After having my baby girl in May and an anniversary celebration in June, I got a bit of a late start on the upcoming year. Late by my own standards, of course, because when you're homeschooling, you have the flexibility to let life happen, right?

Much of July was filled with making curriculum choices and ordering new books. My husband ordered pretty much all of the remainder of our math curriculum, that we'll ever need, ever, in life. (When you find something good, you should stick with it, right?!)



As the books began to arrive, the kids got excited--especially my oldest child, since most of the materials were for her. We try to buy non-consumable books so we can pass them down as many times as possible. I hope to post soon what we'll be using this year.

The books coming in gave way to lesson planning. This year, I've planned more than I ever have before. And, after just 2 days of school, it has been a blessing. I've learned that it takes some time to find your rhythm, not just in the daily flow of schooling, but also with the approach to each specific curricula.



So, along with plans for the assignments my kids are to complete, I also created the flow, step by step, for each subject session. Many homeschoolers are avid about "open-and-go" curriculum, which I completely understand and would love to do. But, my experience has shown that some times, the "open-and-go" plans are more costly because the work has been done for you. Well, in the No Idle Bread household, cost is just as much a part of curriculum planning as content is.



So, for my non-"open-and-go" curriculum, I decided to make it that way by planning the assignments and daily procedures ahead of time. I also made copies and printed pages of just about all the worksheets/quizzes/tests/lapbook pages that we will use. Too many times have I caught myself in a pinch because a child needed a worksheet that I didn't print ahead of time, and then when I go to print it, the computer or printer decides not to work. Planning in this way  has been the most freeing thing I could have done. Time consuming on the front end, yes,  but totally worth it in the thick of things.



Another exciting part of my planning has been my homeschool planner. I can no longer spend another dime on planners that don't fit my homeschool....literally. I am tired of trying to cram my notes for each child in tiny spaces. I've felt this way since schooling just 3 kids. Now that I have 4 kids I'm officially schooling this year, I said enough is enough!



Not only was there not enough room to write my lesson plans, there were also extra pages and forms that I never used, and articles that I never got around to reading. So, I thought about making up a planner on my own but knew I didn't have the time to design it all.

Solution: visit the blog of another homeschooling mama who created free planner pages for you to print off!!! {{Check out Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus for super cute printables to create your own planner with her 7-step plan. Print what you need, skip what you don't!}}



We started our first day of school on a Thursday this year, giving us 2 days to try out our new Language Arts routine before the weekend.  I figured this was a better transition than a week's worth of newness. I will continue to add in one or two new subjects every couple of days until we have our full schedule up and running.



Well, this is what I've been busy doing that past few weeks. I have a few other loose ends to flesh out, like reading lists and the final decisions on my kindergartner's history. If you have suggestions, tips or advice for approaching history with a 4.5 year old, please share!



How have you planned for school this year? Do you make lesson plans or are you more spontaneous? Have you started school, yet? If you have any questions about anything in this post, please leave it in the comments below.

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