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.

7.07.2016

Starting Your Homeschool: Mental Preparation


Often times when we read about what is necessary to begin homeschooling, much of the focus is on school supplies, school room set-up's, curriculum choices and the like. While those things are important, I'd thought I'd approach this topic from the mental prep side. How can you mentally prepare for starting a homeschool?

1. Vision for Homeschool
This is something you'll want to talk with your husband about, that you flesh out together. Maybe even include your children if they're old enough. And, above all, prayer is key. Pray over and for your homeschool. Ask God to show you what He wants you to do as a family. Ask Him for help along the way as your journey unfolds. Remember: the Holy Spirit works in homeschools, too!

A good friend once told me to ask myself, "Why do I want to homeschool?" The vision for your homeschool will stem from your answers to this question. Once you look at your answers and see what is important to your family, you can then put it in statement form for the family to refer to throughout the school year. Remember, though, overtime your needs may change as your family changes, so updating your vision and goals is completely reasonable. It may even be wise to revisit your vision each year to see if your family is on track.

2. Unlearning
If you were educated in public school or any traditional school setting, you've got to let go of the idea that your home MUST mirror that environment. Of course you'll have pencils, paper, and a few teacher's manuals, but the whole set-up is unnecessary. Your kids don't have to line up everywhere, ask to go to the restroom or sit in assigned seats. You can start your day with prayer or jumping-jacks or a song. It is up to you to decide.

The reality is that you will be instructing your children at home, and home life never stops. Noses need wiping, dishes still pile up, telemarketers still call, and all of that will happen while you're teaching Math and rocking a sleepy baby. What you should know is that you are mom first and what you'll begin to learn is that homeschooling really is a natural extension of parenting, as parents are children's first teachers anyway. You will see the beauty of teaching your own children in every aspect. Educating your whole child--spiritually, emotionally, physically, academically--is best done in a loving environment at home.

3. Don't Join the Comparison Game
Yep. Unfortunately, it's seen amongst homeschoolers, too. There are parents trying "out-do" each other, competing about curriculum choices and whose child is further ahead, or comparing school room set-ups and who has the latest furniture from IKEA. Remember, your kid is not someone else's, and your home life is different from the next person's. Don't fall into the "grass is greener" trap. Comparing what you're doing to what another mom is doing all the time, point-by-point can be dangerous, making you feel pressured to implement things that aren't a fit for your family. These are your kids, this is your home. Walk confidently in what you're doing.

Also, if you're pulling your children from a public/traditional school setting, you may be used to comparing how your child is fairing against his classmates, and you're probably used to the teacher giving you stats on what percentile your child is in compared to average kids his age, and so forth.

Here's the reality: each of your children is likely to be the only one in his/her grade in your home. So, you have to develop a sense of confidence in the progress your child is making. Setting a standard for each child, for each level is great idea. That way, you have a course to follow and a sense of where things are and where you want your child to be. Additionally, checking out what another mom is doing every once in a while can be so helpful and can give you fresh ideas and a new perspective. Just never let comparing dictate what you choose.

4. Bad Days Happen, and So Do Really Good Ones
Just let that settle nicely in your brain. There will be days when things will run so smoothly and so according to plan, that you'll feel like homeschooling is a breeze. Then there will be days when you'll want to press the "do-over" button about every 10 minutes, or the other alternative: just sit in the middle of the floor and cry. But this is the reality of life--good days and bad days--no matter where we find ourselves. It'd be true if we were at the office working from 9 to 5 each day. It is also true of school teachers, too.

News flash: the "experts" don't always have it all pulled together. Of course, they want you to think they do, otherwise you might not be so comfortable leaving your children with them. But guess what? They feel overwhelmed and behind schedule sometimes, too. There are days when they feel like all they did was try to gain order in the classroom or couldn't cover what they'd planned in the allotted time.

We are all human, and no one ever has perfect days all the time. For some reason homeschool moms exclude themselves from this certainty and place an unbearable burden on themselves to have a perfectly smooth good day every day. Rest in the fact that normal is a healthy balance of good days with some bad ones mixed in. Remember, God is faithful and He grants new mercies every day. (Lamentations 3:22-23). Follow His example for yourself and your homeschool.

What are some other ways new homeschooling families can mentally prepare to begin their homeschooling journey?




7.01.2016

15th Wedding Anniversary Celebration

After 15 years of a covenant marriage, my husband and I chose to renew our vows and have a celebration with family and friends. We were surrounded by so much love, joy and support. . .it's difficult to put into words. It was a celebration that will forever be written upon our hearts. 

It was such a beautiful day. . .special and sacred. Upon exchanging vows for the 2nd time, my husband and I had a better understanding of the sincerity of making a promise. Our love is no longer new, but has matured a bit over the years. Now there's a deeper understanding of loving, honoring, and cherishing. We've been through some things, weathered a few storms together, which made those vows all the more powerful. God has knit our hearts together, our day-to-day experiences like strands intertwined over time, difficult to tell were he stops and I begin. . .part of the oneness of marriage.

We have been richly blessed these 15 years with love, faithfulness, children. laughter, hope, and grace. Because of God's faithfulness, we give Him praise. We pray for many more years to come, that we may grow and continue trying to love each other in a way that reflects the character of God.

The kids (minus 1) ready to head out the door

A family shot (minus 2) before the ceremony began

Husband getting the little ones squared away

Me waiting with Baby Q for the start of the ceremony

Older kids walking in to be seated to the right



Walking into the ceremony with our littlest ones in tow
My favorite picture of us




Secret: the 3 younger ones had fruit snacks & raisins
waiting for them on their seats


My father-in-law, who is a minister, officiated the ceremony
Husband's tears up as we exchange promises

Sand ceremony: one bottle of sand for each person in our family
Husband and I are pouring the foundation

Several minutes and lots of pouring later, here's our family sand bottle

My own tears falling while 1 Corinthian 13 is read

Prayer

Husband and I get the little ones in the wagon.
Notice Baby Q is gone. . .she started to cry during the sand pouring so my mother took her for me




We did it! We were so happy and emotional and overwhelmed by love all at the same time.
A moment we'll remember for always.
I hope that I captured the gist of our ceremony. To be honest, words and pictures just don't do the day justice, but it was worth the try to share it with you.

There were tons more pictures from the ceremony, as well as from the reception that followed. 

Rather than overwhelm you with more pictures, I will share a video tribute that was played during our reception. It tells our family's story, starting with how I met my husband.
I hope you enjoy!



5.29.2016

Our Newest Arrow: Baby Q's Birth Story

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.


Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth." 
-Psalm 127:3-4
Quiet time on the blog usually means things are busy on the home front. . .

On Wednesday, May 18th, God blessed us to deliver another baby girl. She was born at 1:30 pm, weighing 8 lbs and 11.5 oz, and 21 inches long.

Baby Q
Labor pains woke me up around 7 am and after 30 minutes of contractions, I knew the time had come. After a brief whirlwind of confusion with my doctor's office, my husband and I arrived at the hospital sometime between 10:15 and 10:30 am. At this point, I was 8cm dilated and 80% effaced.

I have been blessed to deliver all 7 of our children without surgical intervention, but this one was different: no epidural or pitocin or any other medications.

This was a desire of my heart, and God heard my prayers. He allowed me to experience birth naturally and I am so grateful for that. This was important to me because I want to be able to share the experience with my daughters (and daughters-in-law).

💜💜💜💜💜💜💜
So much of womanhood and mothering has been lost from times past, leaving a gap between generations. Women become wives and mothers not knowing how to do many basic tasks of keeping a home and child-rearing, not to mention breastfeeding or natural childbearing.

I am one of those women, who has struggled to learn homemaking, mothering, biblical womanhood along the way. I want something different for my daughters. And birthing a baby naturally, even in a hospital, is part of bridging that gap for me. It was a long time coming--I mean 6 other deliveries before I was willing to try, but I am so grateful for the entire process, 13 years in the making.

I know I've said this before, but I am amazed at how He takes time to see about us, even in the small places, all the way down to the details. This song played over and over in my mind during my laboring, which just reiterates Romans 8:28--
"And we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Whatever we face as believers, including laboring to bring a child into the world, God's intentions are clear: to bring about some good in the end. "He's intentional, never failing."

My littlest girls have birthdays just one day apart 🎂

Birthday party in the hospital 😊 

"Baby Q" was born one day before her big sister's birthday. We were able to go home the next evening after she was born. So far baby is doing well, recovery is good, and nursing is going strong. I'm sleepy, and I can't quite keep my days straight yet, but overall, I feel incredibly blessed.

A big, heartfelt "Thank you!" to everyone who prayed for us. 💜

"They shall not labor in vain,
Nor bring forth children for trouble;
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord,
And their offspring with them."
-Isaiah 65:23

5.15.2016

Bible Study Fun

The Bible is an important part of my family's life as it is the foundation of our faith in God. So, naturally, it is important in our homeschooling as well. While we do have a more in-depth, sincere Bible study time each day, I also wanted to incorporate a little fun in our Bible learning as well. I think taking the Bible seriously is an important thing to teach my kids. However, that doesn't mean we can't sprinkle a little fun in there to cultivate a love of learning God's word. Here are a few things we do.
"A merry heart does good, like medicine, 
But a broken spirit dries the bones." -Psalm 17:22
Scripture Drawings
Sounds easy enough right? Well, this is a bit of a challenge because it uses some creativity. Exactly how do you show that we should have no other gods before Him? Or that we should not take the Name of the Lord in vain? (Exodus 20:3, 7) It has been fun seeing some of the things my kids have come up with. Some of their drawings have been very literal and others have been very abstract, but both lots of fun.

Bible Books
There isn't anything fancy or brand new here. Kids have been learning the books of the Bible for ages! Still, there is just something cool about knowing and reciting all 66 books and where to find those books without using the table of contents. It brings back childhood memories for both my husband and me, and so it's another family fun idea. We've taken the Bible books in chunks, about five or so at a time, and just add to them as we learn them. We're not in a race and there isn't some special prize at the end. What gets my kids going is that they get to quiz me! They keep me on my toes!

Bible Flip
Now this one is a race. I'll call out a verse from one of the Bible books that we're learning, and my kids have to try to get there as fast as they can. The first one to get to the passage has to recite it out loud. We do this just a few times per week and boy do they get a kick out of it. My little ones who do not read yet, pretend to find the verse before the older kids do. We've had ties and we've had blow-outs, and we've had people reading the wrong Scripture. (Bonus: sharpening listening skills!) We keep it light-hearted and we laugh about it. You know your kids enjoy this activity when they ask, "Mommy are going to do Bible flip today?" And if I respond with a, "No, not today," I get an, "Aww!" in return.

Bible Movies/Series
There's nothing like seeing the best compilation of history ever being played out before your eyes. My children absolutely love to watch Bible movies, whether cartoons or real actors. As their understanding of God's word matures, what we've been doing is critiquing the show based on Biblical accuracy vs. embellishment for the movie's sake. The last ones we watched were The Prince of Egypt and The Passion of the Christ. It was interesting to hear their take on things and a few times we even paused the movies to consult the Scriptures if we weren't sure.

These are a few ways we enjoy learning about the Bible. How does your family make Bible learning fun?

Originally written for Our Homeschool Forum.
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