A blog about homeschooling, frugal living, books and life. Grab a cup of coffee and stay awhile!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why I believe Every Homeschooler Should Buy Sonlight

We finished core 6! It was really a great core and we learned so much! I was tempted to rush through the end so I could hurry and get to core 7, but I felt like I would be leaving out to much important information. We did end up skipping a few of the readers and read alouds, which I hated to do, but we took our time on Story of the World.

Next week we get to start Core 7. I've been dying to start these books! I'm especially excited about the Bible portion. I didn't really like the Bible in Core 6 and we dropped it about halfway through. It wasn't that it wasn't good stuff, just that my kids have been raised in church and they already knew so much of it that they found it kinda boring. The Bible portion in Core 7 looks really good though. I think it will focus more on discipleship, which I think they need.

Last year and this year (so far) have been the best homeschool years we've ever had! I'm a little surprised because both years I've had little ones underfoot. Last year we had a two year old, plus I was pregnant AND we took in a foreign exchange student. With such a full house and so much going on it would seem that schooling would be a little.... difficult? This year we have a three year underfoot plus a 9 month old baby. Both little ones are very demanding. I mean I always read about families with these perfect little kids that play or color contentedly while the mom homeschools her other 8 kids in perfect peace. Yeah, not so much at my house. Usually the littlest one is crying to be held or trying to color on the older kids papers, yelling at the top of her lungs "No! I don't want my own paper! I want to color Ashley's!!!!" or (as Lacey is doing this year) repeating EVERY word I say because "I'm teaching too, Mommy!"
But even with all the distractions these have been the best years! I think part of it is that I'm more organized and experienced but I have to say I think most of the credit for the great year has to go to Sonlight. WARNING! THE REST OF THIS IS GOING TO SOUND LIKE A PAID ADVERTISEMENT FOR SONLIGHT! ONLY PROCEED IF YOU ARE PREPARED FOR A LONG SONLIGHT GUSH! First of all, I just love this curriculum! I love the fact that my days are all planned out. I used to want to design my own lesson plans ( I can't remember WHY I wanted to do this. Surely I had a reason?) but then real life would get in the way and I'd end up behind. Not so with Sonlight! I just open my Instructor Guide and start teaching. Everything is laid out for me. And the books are so interesting! I love the discussions we are having. I love that the kids aren't just filling in blanks in a workbook but reading about interesting people and places. I like that they aren't just learning what happened, but why it happened and how it affects us today. In the past it seemed I struggled so much just doing the basics, math, language, spelling, that we didn't even get to the other stuff like history or science. Or I'd get frustrated and ignore the basics for more fun science and history projects. But with sonlight it just seems like everything comes together so perfectly! I think a big difference is that I'm so excited about what we are learning that I stay motivated to teach. Even on bad days when the kids are rowdy I look forward to sitting down with the kids and reading and talking together. Sometimes our discussions turn very serious and we talk about abortion, the need to put Jesus first in their lives or the current presidential campaign and other times we can't hardly keep reading because we are laughing so hard about something we read. I think it's drawn our family closer together and given me such insight into the personalities of the children God has blessed me with. I love that Sonlight is unapologetically Christian. I love that the goals they have so closely matches the goals I have for my kids. And they don't just set goals for you they back their goals up with real life ways to reach those goals. For instance I want my children to develop a heart for missions. Well Sonlight introduced me to a India mission project that will help teach illiterate women to read. I really, really love their support forums! I have learned so much from them, even though I mostly lurk.
I love their super fast shipping and their friendly customer service. I wish I had started using Sonlight years ago. Back then I just couldn't see spending that much money on it. Now it seems like such a small price to pay for all the benefits we get from it. Out of everything we are doing or have done in the past Sonlight is the only curriculum I have ever used that I totally love. I'm really so thankful that God lead me to Sonlight and that is honestly the end of my gush- for today. Anyway we have revival tonight and I gotta get the kids ready. I want to post about Hurricane Ike and how we fared the storm but I need to load some pictures- maybe tomorrow?

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sonlight Science May Actually Make Science Fun!

Well we are into our 4th week of school and it's going really well. I'm a little surprised by how well it's going. I keep expecting it to get harder but so far it's not.
So this week I'm going to tell about what we are doing in science. We are using Sonlight Science 3 which is above Kyle's level but I'm helping him with the hard things. I'm also having him dictate his answers to me so as not to overwhelm him with extra writing. It's below Donna's level but I'm beefing it up for her. I'm having her memorize vocabulary words, do extra writing and I plan to give her tests on what we are studying. Anyway this week we started growing radishes. They are all getting a kick out of that. We set up a lab table in the living room( room with the best light) and our radishes are already sprouting!

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Is It possible To Teach Two Sonlight Cores At Once?

Well, we started back to school Tuesday. We had a really great week! I was so nervous about teaching 2 Sonlight cores, but it wasn't a problem. We started each day by 9:00 ( Lily has decided to be an early riser). As the kids ate breakfast I would review the 21 Rules of This House. This book is great! I especially like rules 4, 5, and 6: We consider one another's interests ahead of our own. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another. And we do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds. I think it made a BIG improvement on the attitudes and especially on how the kids treat each other. This only took like 10 minutes each morning. We are using Sonlight 3 for Science. So I also read that while they ate. I worried this would be to easy for Donna but I think I'll be able to adjust it to her level. By then they were done eating so we did our spelling. We are using Sequential Spelling. I like it but it takes my son WAY longer than the girls and they get a little bored waiting for him. I don't want to have to teach this twice so they'll just have to wait. I have to use a dry erase board to teach this so I bought Lacey a small board and she does her "lessons" on that. Her lessons consist of her drawing lots of 0's on the board. I tried showing her how to make a little a but she was so not interested!

I did learn a neat trick to keep Kyle from mixing up his b's and d's. I got this tip from the Sonlight forum. I told him b has a big belly and d had a big derriere. I had to explain a derriere was a big butt, which of course he thought was hilarious. So now he likes going around saying d has a big butt. At least he hasn't mixed his letters up again!

After Spelling the girls went off and did their seat work while me and Kyle worked on his Sonlight. Lacey sometimes listened in to the Bible and both kids liked Curious George and Make Way for Ducklings. He enjoyed The Boxcar Kids, which I was afraid he wouldn't like. Thankfully the chapters are pretty short so he doesn't get bored with it. Kyle likes Hero Tales okay. He likes it way better if I let him interrupt and talk about everything that's going on. That's a little hard because by now Lily is getting cranky and ready for her nap. After his Sonlight, we work on phonics and his reading lesson. By this time Lily is usually taking a bath so we sit on the bathroom counter while he reads to me.

After her bath he does his seat work and I nurse Lily while I read SOTW to the girls. They color a page from the activity guide while I'm reading. Lily lays down for her nap and we do our map work. Then I read I, Juan de Parajo to them. This is a good book. I don't like it as much as Catherine Called Birdy but it's pretty good and both girls are (pretty much) enjoying it. After that they go finish their seat work. And I correct Kyle's seat work. I know once we start Core 7 it will take me longer because then we'll have Bible and hopefully language. This week for language I just had them start a journal. I'm trying to establish a nighttime routine of them reading a chapter in their Bible and writing in their journal each night before they go to bed.

Well that was our week of school! Hopefully next week will go as smoothly.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our new van!

Hey Ya'll!
God has really blessed this week. I know I don't deserve his blessings but I an so thankful for every gift He's given me. This gift is a 12 passenger van! I've wanted one for a long, long time but didn't really expect to even try to get one, we were still paying on our other van. But God just worked it out. Isn't it fun when God just gives a blessing totally out of the blue that you didn't even expect? I love gifts ( I mean who doesn't?) but the best gifts are the ones you get unexpected, for no reason at all. And that is how this van is, an unexpected gift. I really do feel spoiled! I wanted to take a picture with all the kids in front of it but I couldn't get them all rounded up at the same time.

Lily's been busy!

This has been a busy week for our Baby Lily! Monday she pulled up by herself! We were so surprised because she STILL can't sit up by herself yet. She can sit fine but if she falls over, she's like a little turtle on it's back, and can't get back up! With all her sisters and her brother it's amazing she can do anything we all hold her so much! LOL! So when she grabbed ahold of the side of the bed and stood up we were just shocked. Of course, then we all started clapping and cheering and it surprised HER so much that she fell back on her bottom. Then she figured out it was a game and she'd stand up and we'd all clap and cheer, she'd sit down and we would get quiet. Then she'd stand up and it would start all over again. Now how smart is that! She's just brilliant, I tell you!Then yesterday I thought she had a piece of paper in her mouth and while I was feeling for that I discovered a TOOTH! Her first little baby tooth. It's so beautiful too! And she's really been practicing her crawling technique. She has about mastered the combat crawl and has started developing the hand- knee maneuver. Once she's on her hands and knees though she tends to just rock back and forth. We aren't worried though, I'm sure she has some brilliant plan in mind. Lily is the last of six kids and she takes her job of keeping us entertained very seriously!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My First Sonlight Box Day!

My Sonlight Box Came!!!! It actually came yesterday afternoon. I wasn't expecting it until at least Wednesday! I'm so excited! I was literally dancing around the living room. It was like Christmas morning when I was a kid. But you have to understand I have a serious addiction to books. I love books! All books! Any books! I love kid books, textbooks, used books, funny books, sad books, biographies, fictional books,history books, science book and religious books. The kids were looking at me like I'd lost my mind. But hey this is my first Sonlight box day! And it's like 45 brand new, never been read before, crisp, clean, BEAUTIFUL books! So I can't wait to get them all out and put them on my shelf, except my shelves are all too full soooo... I gotta go Monday and buy another shelf! I think I'll but 2 more, because I want to put all my school supplies on them and my scrapbook stuff. That will give me 5 full length book shelves ion my dining room!
Anyway soo excited thought I'd share, but I gotta run.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

What Our Homeschool Day Looks Like

This will be our 6th year homeschooling unless you count the 2 years I homeschooled before sending the kids to christian school. But I don't count those years. So anyway school will start for us August 18. I'd like to say we're super organized but well that's just not us. This is what our day generally looks like.

I wake up anywhere between 7:30 - 9:00 it all depends on the baby. Whatever time Lily(7 months) wakes up I get up. Most often that's by 8:30 but when she sleeps late so do I! I love the mornings! Lacey (3) is usually in bed with me and Lily and we spend anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour (depending on how long we slept) playing, tickling, snuggling. Lots of times some of the other kids will hear us and come join in the fun. Sometimes I set my alarm and get up but that usually only lasts about a week. Once I drag myself up, I check my email and ebay. Then I get the kids something to eat if they haven't already made something themselves. Usually the older 3 are up, dressed and playing on the computer. The older 2 girls 14, and 11 usually have their chores done. I'm especially strict about that on school days. I try to be schooling by 10:30 or 11:00. As you can tell we are very relaxed!

We start with group work. This has changed over the years but right now we are using Sonlight for our group work and that is Bible, History, Geography, and read alouds. Last year Donna(13) and Ashley(10) did Core 6 ( world History part 1) and Kyle(6) listened in as he wanted. I bought the story of the world activity book and had the kids color the pictures while I read to them. Even Lacey (2) would listen and color pictures. This year Kyle will start his own core (k). I LOVE Sonlight! I could go on and on for hours about how much they learned and how great it was, but I'll try to restrain myself. LOL!

After group work we split up for what I call seat work. For the oldest 2 I make up a weekly schedule with all their work on it. It has all their subjects (Bible, reading, spelling, math, language, spanish, misc.) and I write what they have to do by each subject. They take their schedule and do the work on their own if they have any questions or need help they come ask me. The rule for us is the kids do all they can on their own then I help with what they can't do. I AlWAYS have to help with language so this year I'm planning to do language as part of group work. Since Kyle is still learning to read and needs more help I do his a little different. I tear out his work sheets (abeka math and language) each day and he sits at the table or at his desk in his room. He also has reading lesson and phonics that we do together.

The kids take lots of breaks. Kyle and Ashley are usually done by 2 or 3. Donna doesn't get done sometimes until 5 or 6 but she doesn't like to be rushed and takes more breaks. We stop for lunch when we get hungry. Sometimes they work fast and get done earlier and sometimes we are still doing school at 7 or 8 at night.

Our School changes almost constantly because life changes almost constantly. LOL! Last year we had another baby. We also had a foreign exchange student living with us. So this year will probably be a little different from last year, but that's what is so great about homeschooling, I can adapt it to fit my life!

We go on field trips, park days, etc. whenever the mood strikes us or whenever something catches our interest. Last year we met once a week with some homeschool friends for art and science. I hope to be able to do that again.

Shane's work schedule has changed this year. He'll have to work Tuesday- Saturday so we probably will only school Tuesday thru Friday. And leave Mondays free to spend with him.

Anyway that's the plan we'll see how it goes.

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Monday, July 28, 2008


Hi blogworld!

This will be my first post and I thought I'd write about something that has really been on my heart the past few days. And that is how I am just amazed at God! I mean just when I think he can't amaze me any more he goes and amazes me all over again!
So why am I so amazed at God? Well it happened like this a couple of weeks age we had a revival that really stirred me to spend more time in prayer. So I was praying and telling God how I wanted a closer walk with him. And how I try to pray but it seems like my prayers are just words floating around. Do you ever feel that way? Like your praying and no one is listening? Don't get me wrong I know He answers my prayers, meets my needs and cares for me... But day by day I didn't feel like me and God were communicating. So I told God I felt like I was doing all the talking and asked if he'd talk to me back. I told God how a conversation should be two people talking back and forth and it didn't seem like he was holding up his end of the conversation. You might be surprised I'd pray that but He knows how you feel anyway so you might as well just say it... right?Now don't go getting nervous I'm not about to tell you the face of Jesus appeared to me in my soup and gave me the winning lottery numbers! But I am going to say God has been revealing himself to me more and more.
Like the other day I was driving along feeling very sad and depressed. And I was praying/ talking/thinking about how I have no true friends (which isn't true BTW ) and all my friends are busy with thier own lives and kids and no one but my husband REALLY loves me but he's working 70 hours a week and doesn't have time for me. And I'm all alone and even my kids don't want to spend time with me. So you can see I was in quite a mood well just then I'm sitting there crying(sad I know) when a song came on the radio. This song said almost exactly what I was saying. And It was just what I needed and I realized I don't need someone with me ALL the time. I need some time where it can be just me and God ( and of course one or two of the babies). And maybe God made everyone too busy to go with me because He wanted to go and have my full attention for a change. And I was amazed all over again that the God of the whole universe would even care enough to go out of his way to initiate a time alone with me AND even send me this little song to cheer me up. Isn't God just awesome!

Just call my name by Third day

It's been so long since You felt like you were loved So what went wrong But do you know There's a place where you belong Here in My Arms

When you feel like you're alone in your sadness
It seems like no one else in this whole world cares
And you want to get away from the madness
You just call My name and I'll be there
You just call My name and I'll be there
The pain inside Has erased your hope for love
Soon you will find That I'll give you all
That your heart could ever want And so much more

When you feel like you're alone in your sadness
It seems like no one else in this whole world cares
And you want to get away from the madness
You just call My name and I'll be there
You just call My name and I'll be there You just call My name You just call My name Call My name say it now
I want you to never doubt The love I have for you is so alive
Call My name say it now I want you to never doubt The love I have for you is so alive You just call My name You just call My name You just call My name The love I have for you is so alive The love I have for you is so alive You just call My name You just call My name You just call My name

Well this story may not amaze you but It sure made me feel like God was doing exactly whatr I asked and carrying his end of the conversation.

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