Friday, July 18, 2014

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum Plans

I am getting ready for the new school year.  Baseball is over, the fair is next week, and we'll start school again on August 11th. I have all our school books bought already, though some haven't arrived yet.  I'm getting excited, though I don't think the kids are thinking about school yet.

These are my curriculum plans for the 7 kids I'll be teaching, though the preschooler will be very low-key.  I don't work with preschoolers on a daily basis, at least not in a structured way.

4 yo V - Preschool
simple handwriting workbooks
simple math workbooks
Before Five In A Row

6 yo G - Kindergarten
Horizons K math workbooks
Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading
Handwriting workbooks
Explode the Code (phonics workbooks)
Five In A Row (unit studies that cover literature, social studies, art, science, applied math)

8 yo L - 3rd grade

Horizons 3 math workbooks
handwriting - cursive workbooks
grammar workbook
Spelling Power
Christian Liberty Nature Readers
Five In A Row (unit studies that cover literature, social studies, art, science, applied math)
Mystery of History

10 yo M - 5th grade
Saxon 65 math
handwriting cursive books
Easy Grammar 5
Spelling Power
Write Shop Junior
Apologia science - land animals/swimming creatures
Mystery of History

13 yo J - 8th grade
Saxon Algebra 1/2
All American History 1
Apologia Physical Science
Easy Grammar Plus
Apples Spelling
writing ??
Progeny Press literature guides - Around the World in 80 Days, A Wrinkle In Time, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Redwall

15 yo C - 10th grade
Saxon Geometry
World History
Total Fitness 1
English 2 TLP/Progeny Press (Pride & Prejudice, Frankenstein, To Kill a Mockingbird, research paper)
Latin 1 
home driver's ed

17 yo R - 12th grade
College Comp 1
General Psychology (possibly at CC in spring)
Economics and Government
Advanced Biology
Saxon Advanced Mathematics
Computer Science and Speech

We are moving away from Tapestry of Grace completely.  Our high school students had already stopped using it, but we are also stopping it with our middle kids.  It is such a fight to get them to do the reading.  Two of them are boys and one is a girl ... but they are not avid readers and prefer high-interest books.  I'm going to do Mystery of History with M and L, I think.  I had thought I'd do MOH with J, but think I'll have him do All American History year 1 this year, and he can do year 2 his freshman year and then get his US History credit in 2 years (8th and 9th) instead of using the Abeka US History that the two oldest girls used and C will use.

April E.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Moving On and Counting Down

Twenty years of marriage. Nine kids.  Steve and I aren't planning to have any more children, which means we are starting to look ahead to the next phase of life.

I only have one more child to wean, one more child to move out of my bedroom. 

I only have two more children to potty train, and three more children to teach to read.

I still have four children that haven't accepted Jesus as their Savior or asked to be baptized.

And I still have seven children to teach to drive, eight children to graduate, and nine to guide as they move onto their adult lives.   Ouch!

Okay, so it will be a long while until we're in the empty nest stage, but we ARE moving out of the baby stage.

From here on out, we'll be having "last" moments:  last child in diapers, last child to wear this outfit, last child to play with this toy.  It will be a new experience for us, to no longer have to save things for the next child, though we will be saving some things for the possible grandchildren who will visit.

Life is full of changes, and this is just another one.

April E.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Family, Community, and a Free Episode of Adventures in Odyssey

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 4.54.28 PM 
 For a limited time, you can listen to a new episode of Adventures in Odyssey for FREE! Album 58, The Ties that Bind, will be available this fall for digital download and CD purchase, but if you join the Odyssey Adventures Club, you can listen to the full album now! Guess what? The $5 special held last month was extended through the end of July, too, so you can join in the fun for only $5!

Here's what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):

It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.
Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive.

One way families can carry out God's design for families is by serving their community—right where God has planted them, being His hands and feet together. Want to serve your community with your family, maybe make a day of out it? Here are some fantastic ideas from some Adventures in Odyssey bloggers and club members:

  • Make scarves through the year and deliver them to your local homeless shelter at the start of winter, or regularly donate food to your local food bank. —Shirley 
  • Our family likes to help with Meals on Wheels. We also do reenactments of the Civil War and WWII to help educate people on history. I like to show my kids that we should be servers and givers by taking meals to people who need them (i.e. baby just born, someone died, someone had surgery, etc.). —Erin 
  • We have been visiting a nursing home with friends once a month. The kids just sing and then we fellowship, but the ladies love it! —Lisa 
  • We make lap blankets for nursing home residents and take the time to visit with them. We also collect food for the local food pantry. —Donna 
  • We make blessing bags to give to the homeless when we encounter them. We also donate clothes and food to a local shelter. —Amy 
  • Our MOPs (Mothers of Prechoolers) group supports our local Pregnancy Support Services with donations, gifts, and notes. We also supports the Durham Rescue Mission, which helps people break free from addictions and restore families. —Melissa 
  • We live in a very rural area. Our church serves two of the poorest zip codes in the state, and about a decade ago, they started operating a food pantry out of a closet. It has expanded since then, so we now use the closet for storage, but the pantry is basically a classroom. The kids and I serve over there a lot. My 17-year-old and I go to Care & Share (50 miles away) to get food to bring back to the pantry. All of us help unload and stock shelves. On pantry days, everyone can get involved with helping people go through the line, playing with the kids, carrying boxes out to cars, etc. There are so many hungry folks, especially in the summer when school breakfasts and lunches aren't available, and helping a bit to put food on some tables is such a blessing for us all. —Debra 
  • We pack food bags each month for the homeless and needy through a thrift store that offers an outreach to the community. We also help clean our church and our Sunday school. —Michele 
  • We work through our AHG troop to do several service activities a year. My girls just recently made bracelets they are selling, which 100% of the profits goes to Hope House in Africa to help young girls. —Sarah 
  • Our church works with a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. We cook food ahead of time, and when our schedules allow we ride down with the group to serve the food. My son always reminds me when we haven't been for awhile, so it's something he looks forward to. —Maria 
  • We do lots of random acts of kindnesses within our community: pay for others' meals, leave change at a vending machine, hand out Gatorade/granola bars to people on the side of the road asking for food. We also love to support Mobile Loaves and Fishes. —Kathryn
Did that provide some ideas to give your family service activity the kick-start it needs? What other ideas do you have for serving your community? Share in the comments!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I've been MIA, haven't I?

Just when I was determined to start blogging more personal things, more frequently, my computer died.  I sat down one afternoon and it was frozen.  So, I restarted it, and nothing happened.  It was just gone.  I've been using my little tablet to check email and do most web-based things I need to do, but I can NOT write that way. I really need a keyboard to do any blogging.  Well, my teens are all away at camp this week, and I don't have to share the laptop with them, so here I am. I'll try to figure out a schedule that lets me blog and share the laptop, even after they are home.  

We have all 9 kids home this summer.  It may be the last summer they are all here together, and I've been trying to be very present with them. Listening to the oldest two discuss their plans for the future, trying to read to the little ones for the summer reading program, and taking the middle kids to ball practices and games. We had a child in t-ball, one in softball, one in pee wee baseball, and one in K-18 baseball. We've been in town Monday through Friday nights for the past couple months.  This is the last week of baseball. In fact, last night was the final game for us. Just in time for the last-minute crunch of finishing crafts before the fair.

I've been a mother for almost 19 years (next month).  I have nine kids.  And yet, I still have so much to learn and so many areas to work on.  I've been feeling the need to start praying more faithfully for my children.  The older ones are making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives.  They are launching into the world and suddenly my prayer habits seem insufficient. I need better prayer habits.  I don't want to look back in ten or  twenty years, and feel like I didn't do my best, didn't pray for them, or didn't model a living faith to them. Not that I can solve all their problems or ensure they keep walking with God.  I just don't want to look back and realize I could have done better.

God has entrusted Steve and I with nine very precious children.  Each one is unique, with their own personalities, own strengths, own weaknesses, and own needs. They clash with each other, and often times they need me at the same time.  They need me to teach them how to love each other unselfishly and think of others first ... a task that seems nearly impossible many days.

Last week my sister, my mother, and my grandmother visited us.  My grandmother is such a sweet, godly woman.  I know she wasn't a perfect mom.  I'm fairly certain she lost her temper at times with her six kids. She was a pastor's wife, and yet her 3 sons each walked away from their faith for awhile. She sends birthday cards to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren each month. She always tells us that she's praying for us, and I know it is true.  She is a prayer warrior.  My Mom told me once that she and Dad pray for us every single night, as well.  I'm so thankful for those prayers, and it's time to exercise my own prayer muscles more. I want my children and grandchildren to know that I pray for them diligently.

So, that's where I've been.  Trying to work from a tiny tablet, and trying to be present with my kids.  I'm trying to come out of the fog of raising a large family and look more toward the future than the every day chaos and stresses. I will try to get back to blogging, though.  I have missed it.

April E.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer Activities for Adventures in Odyssey Fans


Summer is officially here! Don't let your kids' boredom run rampant. Adventures in Odyssey is here to save the day. Below are some must-try ideas for summer fun! Want even more summer fun? For the month of July, you can join the Odyssey Adventure Club for only $5! More details can be found here.

Summer Activities

As a parent you are probably a big proponent of reading. Encourage your kids to dig into a book or two this summer with Adventures in Odyssey's On Your Marks Summer Reading Challenge. Bonus points if YOU create a reading challenge for yourself as you read along with your kids!

Looking for something hands-on? Create Matthew in 3-D! Invite a few of your kids' friends over for a play date, print off the activity sheet, and let them have at it for the afternoon (with the promise of cookies and lemonade once they've finished constructing Matthew).

Maybe your kids aren't into reading, but they love math. If that's the case, have them solve Eugene's Sudoku!

The laundry needs to be done; the dishes need to be put away. But your kids are begging you to take them out to the zoo. Let them take a whack at Matthew's Decoder in the morning, then make an agreement that if they figure out how to use the decoder, you'll take them on an afternoon adventure. That'll give you the morning to finish up your to-do list!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Odyssey Adventure Club – join today for just $5!

Are your kids in need of a safe and fun environment where they can explore, create and imagine, all while developing their faith and learning biblical truth? Enter the Odyssey Adventure Club (AOC)!


For a limited time, you can join HERE for only $5 (regular monthly membership costs $15 for up to six users)!

Families will be able to stream the Adventures in Odyssey library, plus listen to exclusive new monthly episodes.  Busy families will find 24/7 access to the content through the Odyssey Adventure Club mobile iPhone app.

Children can also read daily devotions, interact with hands-on activities and view video documentaries featuring a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the Adventures in Odyssey stories. Parents can feel confident their children are safe on the Odyssey Adventure Club website — Focus on the Family staff will be monitoring all comments before they’re publicly posted. (Created for children ages 8-12.)

A portion of each Odyssey Adventure Club membership will benefit Focus on the Family partner relief organizations, including Christian Veterinary Mission, Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International. This provides parents with an opportunity to teach children about the value of giving and serving others.

Coming in July, Odyssey Adventure Club members get to listen to the brand new album, "The Ties That Bind," FIRST before it's available ANYWHERE ELSE!

Click here to join for only $5!

Want more summer activities for your kids inspired by the Odyssey Adventure Club? Check out this post.

April E.

Undetected by Dee Henderson

undetected by dee hendersonUndetected is the story of widowed Navy Commander Mark Bishop and young scientist Gina Gray.  Bishop is the Captain of a submarine, accustomed to responsibility, leadership and success. He's also lonely and ready to start dating again when he  bumps into Gina Gray, the genius sister of his friend and fellow submarine Captain, Jeff Gray. Gina is fresh off a difficult break-up with yet another guy who can't handle the fact that she's smarter than he is, and working on discovering new sonar applications. Neither considers the other one as a relationship possibility, but Gina's work brings them together repeatedly.

Dee Henderson has been one of my favorite authors for years.  I love the depth of her books, the suspense, and the research she puts into different careers. Not only does she keep you holding your breath as you turn page after page, she answers questions about faith in each story. The O'Malley series was the first one I read of hers, and that series touched on the questions that seekers have as they are coming to faith, and wrestling with whether they can  believe in God, let alone have a relationship with him.  Undetected takes a look at the walk of mature Christians, prayer, and how past hurts affect our relationship with God and others.

I will say that Undetected was a bit different than many of Dee Henderson's books. I guess it would fall closer to her Uncommon Heroes military series than some of her other books.  There was no mystery to solve, no criminal danger, and only mild suspense.  There was military danger and romance, all wrapped up in a complex, well-developed story.  The  book left me wondering how much of the sonar science Gina developed and the book described was actually possible. It also pushed me to develop better prayer habits.

If you're  fan of military novels with a touch of (CLEAN!) romance, or a fan of Dee Henderson's, I am sure you will enjoy Undetected as much as I did.

I received this book free, in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received and a positive review was not expected. 

April E.