Month

November 2016

A Simple Christmas

How do you want to feel this holiday season? Most of us would agree the nostalgia of Christmases past and the feeling that is evoked through those memories top the list. Evaluating what is important to your family and those cherished traditions continuing on is a good place to start. I remind myself that the countdown for Christmas day is a large part of the fun. It truly is a festive time, for the Savior was born! There is much fun adding momentum while waiting for the 25th to arrive. The key is keeping it simplified enough to actually enjoy the holidays. I can only guess that Mary felt pretty jittery with excitement and wonder as the day approached to give birth to the Savior. What a magnificent moment in history. With all of the tinsel and baubles and the shining lights surrounding us we can still point it all to Christ. When the advertisements never cease in displaying the “best” gift from their store we can focus on the One true gift while keeping it simple.

I’d like to share a few suggestions that I have found helpful. Give them a try if you like, maybe they will alleviate some of the stress that is induced this time of year, leaving you with a simplified, but glorious Christmas.

  1. Surrounding yourself with those who give life rather than drain it. We only have so much to pour out to others and wasting it on toxic people is throwing away our resources. Our biggest impact is on those whom our fruits can grow and prosper (John 15:1-17). Go ahead and shake the dust off your feet from those who don’t care to listen. (Mat. 10:14, 7:6)
  2. Focusing your time on serving. It is amazing how our unspoken needs are taken care of beyond our wildest dreams, while we are busy caring for another. Perspectives are also kept in check as we live in this “me, myself and I” society.
  3. Feeling free to take a few shortcuts. Go ahead and buy that ‘ready-to-assemble’ gingerbread house kit from the store -rather than making it from scratch if time is more efficiently spent elsewhere. Coming back to my previous statement of evaluating the really important traditions to your family and letting the rest go. (Note* It’s impossible to keep up with the Joneses, they aren’t real!)
  4. Shopping online. Save yourself from impulse buys. Not to mention gas, time and parking fees. If you don’t like online shopping and lean more towards the traditional way, it is helpful to look online for the item you’re searching for and to find the best price and which store has it in stock in your city.

We celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Christ. The nativity story is beautiful. If we take it a bit further and think on the logical side of Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary would have had a long and hard journey. It certainly was no walk in the park to get to Bethlehem. Our lives at Christmas time are also intertwined with hurts, hardships and burdens.  Thankfully we have the perfect Present waiting for us at the end, and no matter how complicated things may get our joy can never be squelched. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation for your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9. How awesome is that? Let’s celebrate!

May the peace of God be with you all through the holidays as you share in it with those you love.

Amber

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” 2 John 1:12

 

 

Grade One Favorites [A Homeschool Post]

Our little guy is turning six this week, so I thought I would focus this post on his age/grade. Today I am going to share a few of our favorite curriculums that have been a huge hit (and success I might add) with our little wiggler.

Now to say our little guy has a hard time sitting still is a gross understatement. He has to move, period. Even though I don’t have my own full size gym in our house, I try to make sure we are moving from station to station, rather than sitting at one place for all of his lesson plans. We start the day off in the family room with the other kids and begin our bible reading and devotion time (5-1o min). I then go downstairs to our school room/toy room to do his letters on the wall. I have the full alphabet set up on the wall, so we go over the letters, the sounds they make and do it again- backwards. This is also a bonus math lesson. You see, I have a secret weapon- each and every letter he gets correct (whatever we are doing that day such as long or short vowels etc.) he receives a mini M&M. When we are finished his lesson on letters he counts out his mini M&M’s in victory (honestly choc. chips and mini marshmallows from the pantry work in a pinch too, ha!)

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If there is one thing that this kiddo needs, it is motivation and a reason why he needs to know this stuff. Logic at its finest. I am grateful rewards work in my favor…

When we are finished with that we move upstairs to the kitchen table, and begin his all-time favorite subject- Math. He is wired for numbers so I rarely need to help and am able to clean up the kitchen as he is working on his lesson. He completes 2-3 pages every day of Math-U-See’s ‘Primer’. He is halfway through so I imagine we will begin ‘Alpha’ mid-winter. You can find Math-U-See curriculum HERE for more information.

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Ok, I know this is supposed to be “Favorites” but I didn’t say they would all be the little guy’s fav’s! The next subject we move onto is his writing. We use ‘Handwriting Without Tears’ and have been quite happy with it.

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Now here comes his favorite part of the day… READING EGGS.

This is done online and covers phonics and reading lessons. We both LOVE it. The more lessons you complete, the more “eggs” you crack and unlock new games and rewards. win-win. Bonus- I can keep track of his progress and stats on the parent/teacher page.

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These sum up a few of the favorites we enjoy. I have not mentioned our  weekly science, geography and history lessons we do because there is only so much time I have to sneak away and complete one post. If you are curious about these other subjects shoot me a message or comment.

Thanks for checking in!

Amber

 

Relationship Vs. Academics {In a homeschooling environment}

One thing I love about connecting with other homeschooling parents is the reminder it brings to us on why we are choosing to educate our kids in the first place.

I have to admit, it is easy to lose sight of the end goal. When I am consumed with the day-to-day busyness of making sure I am not “failing” my kids by the public Board of Education standards, I can forget the masterpiece picture at hand.

As the new math lesson is being introduced and we go through it again and again all week- from various angles and the one child is still not grasping it and the others are…

When the child continues to struggle with reading and you have poured out hour upon hour of teaching, and trying again, which then creates a strong dislike for reading by the student…

The seemingly endless poor attitudes and whining at every subject and school assignment…

Constant bickering, fighting and horsing-around that never ceases when we all are living under the same roof and schooling under that same roof…

It is tiring. It is easy to crawl back under the covers in the morning instead of facing the day, or to just give in again because the fight has gone out of you. As homeschooling parents we also face the challenges of the inevitable “burnout” feelings. Then among the midst of these feelings a ray of sunlight creeps in-

Our oldest son graciously drops everything he is doing to teach a younger sibling a new technique…

Our oldest daughter hears of someone in need and immediately leaves to lend a helping hand. For the whole day, foregoing a previously arranged play date and her own workload. Without compliant and on her own accord with a joyful serving attitude.

Our middle son wanting to please and serve starts folding load after load of linen, and then proceeds to teach his younger sisters how to fold so they too can help.

Our youngest two selflessly (and maybe a bit miraculously ha!) share their portions and continue scooping cookie after cookie onto the pan.

Our son shares Christ’s love with another little boy who does not know God. He then reads his favorite bible story to him and gifts this little boy who so looks up to him, his very own bible.

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It is times like these as parents we need to remember and dearly hold onto. Those glimpses and beautiful rays of light shining into the dark places sheds light on the picture as a whole. Not the here and now, but the very purpose we are put onto this earth. For this is what we were made for.

John 1:5 ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’

Psalm 138:8 ‘The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.’

God is incapable of lying. He is Holy. Therefore we can be assured of His promises. Nothing we come across in our days can snuff out Gods light.

Lets thank God for those people in our lives he has placed there to lift us up and point us towards Him. Let us also be willing vessels to lift others up.

School work will always be there.

Housework will always be there.

Life’s demands will always be there.

Our children may not always be here, nor will we always be here to teach them. Lets not let a Godly learning moment pass us by…

I pray we never let academics and what’s important to society -that passes away in the end anyway- get in the way of Gods work and purpose.

As fellow believers in Christ we are ultimately reaching for the same goal, we are fallen and reaching for His grace. Let’s extend that grace to ourselves as He has already done for us.

I am cheering for you!

Amber

“Your God… will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:14-17