Friday, February 27, 2009

Answering Your Homeschooling Questions

A little over a week ago, I participated in Tammy's Homeschool Open House. As I read my comments, I jotted down the questions that were asked. I really enjoyed all the comments and encouragement! I started to answer each one individually and privately, then it occurred to me that it might be something that could help others that aren't sure of homeschooling, or help someone just beginning or considering homeschooling, or even someone just curious about how it works. So, hopefully, this post will help someone out there!

1) First of all, I was so pleased to see that whether you were a homeschooling family or not, so many of you treasured read aloud time with your children or husbands or the entire family. I truly think it is one of the sweetest things to do as a family and I treasure those times. If you haven't implemented this one single thing in your family, consider doing so, no matter what ages your children are....gather everyone together and keep a read-aloud going. It builds togetherness!

2) Those of you grandparents that are homeschooling or considering homeschooling your grandchildren....I just wanted you to know how much I admire you for doing so and doing this at a time when traditionally you could be traveling, or anything else that retirees do!

3) I was asked, "On an average, how many hours a day do you spend homeschooling?" This is really a hard question to answer because our day is not really like a typical classroom day. We don't start and then finish at a certain time everyday. Our day is usually broken up in segments and learning is an atmosphere that is always present. Even when we're traveling to and from extracurriculuar activities, we are learning. We discuss books we've read; We listen to scripture or other memorization CDs; Joy brings her personal literature with her; Or I might quiz her orally or review things we've studied. Joy just reminded me that when she has a question about anything really, like a word or a person in history, we stop and look it up and gather more information. But since I know you want to know hours...I'm going to estimate for you and say at this level (Joy is 4th grade)...we probably spend a total of about 4 - 4 1/2 hours. But honestly, this is never the varies depending on what we're many of our studies are hands-on, etc....

4) "Do you take off for summer and holiday breaks?" Yes and no. I've always been accused of not giving my kids enough breaks (by them). But in my defense, let me say it's because during the school year, if we have to be off a day for something unexpected, we do have the liberty to take it, but I feel that when the other kids are getting a day off for a National Holiday, we should just keep on going because we've had a day off elsewhere. We do take time off around Christmas and generally Wednesday through Friday of Thanksgiving as well as a week's Spring Break. As far as summers go, we do a review type of school twice a week. Of course, my kids have always read year round, so I've never had to "require" that. They love it and we will have read-alouds going all year round. So, to answer those questions, we do "school" year around, but not officially. (Does that make sense?) That learning atmosphere never goes away magically during the summer! :)

5) How do kids being homeschooled get graded?" This depends on the homeschooling family. There are many programs available where you may send your child's work in and have it graded and they issue report cards. People that feel like they need accountability really like this option. Most families though evaluate their own children's work. Believe me, when you know your child's education depends on YOU, you take it seriously! I've always expected alot from my kids and they know it. However, grades were designed for teachers in schools to let parents know how their kids are doing in school. When you check your kids work everyday and see what they're doing, you KNOW what they're lacking or excelling in. For example, my kids miss 2 problems out of 20 in Math. I will mark 2 missed and hand it back and make them rework it until it is correct. One of my kids (Colt) never cared to have a letter grade but Joy sometimes asks for one. When they are old enough (high school) to be keeping a transcript, I will issue grades. Other than that, grades aren't necessary when you know that your child is correcting their work (or if they are the type that is motivated by grades).

6) "Do you have to meet certain state requirements?" Yes. Every state is different. HSLDA can give you a requirement of every state. Our state requires us to fill out a Notice of Intent form every year to our school district's Superintendent's Office. We give an overview of curriculum to be used, etc.... All students in grades 3 through 9 are also required to take standardized tests for statistical purposes once a year.

7) I can't remember what the question or comment was here, but I had noted that I wanted to say that schooling elementary and high school aged kids each has its own benefit and is special. There is absolutely nothing like seeing and being there for your child reading the first time and develping that skill and all the fun elementary years of field trips, hands-on projects and read-alouds; BUT the high school years are really rewarding too. After all those elementary years, you finally get to have the most intelligent conversations and discussions with your maturing student! And we still get to share those great read-alouds!

8) Someone mentioned being a fly on my wall to see what all went on in our homeschool. I've often said that and I found a great book that I love to re-read every summer. It is called: Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days.

This book actually takes you through a homeschooling day with 30 different families varying in size of family and methods of homeschooling. I love it because it is so real. It takes into account the normal interuptions that arise. I always say, there's rarely ever two days in a row that are alike. If you ever get a chance to read this book, it is a great one!

9) Someone also said they didn't want to fail their kids. Everyone that makes a great homeschooling parent has had that thought. If you're worried about it, you're going to be on your toes. You and your children will be fine.

10) I would like to say to Allyson (a 9 year old that left a comment)...Thank you for your kind words! I think you and your mom are nice too!

11) To those that said they could never homeschool their children, you underestimate yourself! You really can! As a coordinator for our local homeschool group, I've gotten many calls from nervous moms who said the same thing. They stepped into the role beautifully! It comes more natural than you's kind of like those years from birth until five when you're teaching them things constantly or just helping your kids with homework except it's full-time)! :)

12) Someone said, "Joy must have lots of energy". YOU HAVE NO IDEA! She was God's little way to keep me young after having her at age 35! :)

13) Life skills. I was glad that was mentioned. It is something that is very important...just as important (or more so) than book learning and we put high importance on it. Part of Colt's homeschooling was learning how to maintenance his car (himself), working with Jason in carpentry etc... Colt volunteered at a printing shop to learn more about computers, and print, etc... And so on. Cleaning house is a great life skill and I definitely teach that one! :)

14) Speaking of all of our extra-curricular activities, someone said they were homebodies. I have to admit I would rather be home than running around doing those activities, but as long as we can afford to do them and the kids have wanted to do them, we've tried to do them. I know a day will come when the house will be quiet and that will be a new chapter for us. I am so excited when we do have a day that doesn't have to be interupted by an activity and we are home a FULL DAY! :)

15) A couple of you mentioned that you were reading The Little House series! I absolutely love those books and read them aloud (all of them) to Colt when he was younger. We did this with another family then got together as families to do activities from that particular book (at the end). We have lots of memories from that. Joy and I have finished the third book, On the Banks of Plum Creek and it's our turn to host the "Little House Day" with the family we are doing this with soon!

I would love to suggest another series, especially if you have boys (although girls love it too)....Little Britches series. If you love Little House, you'll love these too!

16) Those of you that have little ones (babies even) that are considering homeschooling, I think it's great. Just consider how you teach them now every little thing and that's just the way homeschooling is. When you get to those subjects that you're not so comfortable with....there's so many ways to go about that including a teacher on the video if you're more comfortable with it that way. But when you teach your child HOW TO LEARN...they learn to figure out so many things (amazingly) on their own too and you wonder, "How did they know that?"

17) "How does the state know she's not cheating...I mean you could do an open book and get straight A's every time and who would know?" I rarely ever even give tests. I know from day to day how they're doing in various subjects by how they perform on assignments given. However, during state standardized testing, they are tested by certified teachers that come in and administer them in a timed matter. These tests are sent in and graded by the state. The parents then receive their children's test scores through the mail. (However, I do buy practice tests appropriate to their grade level a couple of months before a test so that they feel comfortable in a test situation or atmosphere and make sure they understand how tests work and how to "fill the bubbles" appropriately. This is mostly to make me feel better and them more comfortable on test day. My kids have consistently said that the tests I've given them here at home are MUCH HARDER than the actual standardized ones though.

18) "In a school system, you have to take a foreign language to graduate high school. Do you have the same requirements and if you did, how would you work that?" I did require that of Colt. He took two years of Spanish and we used Rosetta Stone which is what the military uses. It is a computer course. I plan to use the same thing with Joy (except earlier than high school).

19) "Will Joy go to high school or do you home school through that?" I've always said that we take it a year at a time. However, we did homeschool Colt kindergarten all the way through high school. Joy has no plans to do anything different but homeschool all the way through...she will tell you that in a heartbeat! :)

20) "What about graduation?" "Does she get to attend that or will she miss that?" Different homeschooling families handle this in different ways. Some people don't make a big deal of graduation. They just finish their studies and either receive a diploma from their parents or take the GED. Some folks take part in their State Homeschool's graduation. Some folks take part in a local homeschool support group's graduation. We chose the last one with Colt. We didn't take the first choice, because we didn't want Colt to do the GED. I felt it looked like he "didn't complete high school". We didn't choose the state ceremony, because we really didn't know all of those folks and it felt a little impersonal. We chose the last one with our local group and it was very special. He and another boy were the only graduating seniors that year. However, that can change from year to year. Jason and I both spoke at his graduation (in between my tears). There are sites that will create an official highschool diploma, which is what we did. Colt walked to Pomp and Circumstance in his cap and gown and even played the guitar and sang "This is My Desire" also at his graduation. We showed a slide presentation of photos through the years of our schooling and growing up. There was a charge to the graduates by our pastor and a special video clip sent in by a State Youth Director that Colt admired. It was a tribute to Colt entitled "Excellence". Afterwards, we had a reception in their honor in the fellowship hall. We had display tables set up of homeschooling memories and special trophies, projects and accomplishments. I believe we counted about 85 people that attended the graduation service. His graduation was very rewarding and special after all those years of homeschooling. And if you're wondering about the homeschool diploma, how many of you have ever been asked to show your diploma to get into college or at a job? I never have. And that's exactly what we've found. If anything, they want a transcript and we have that, plus they are required to take entrance exams (which shows they know their stuff). :)

21) One of you mentioned having opposition from your family about homeschooling. I totally understand this. My mom and dad have been supportive from day one and have always been very proud of their grandkids, even "bragging a little". I remember my dad pulling out the newspaper when Colt was in kindergarten around Christmas time and showing everyone "how he could read anything in the newspaper!". BUT, my father-in-law was a different story! He really thought "that boy ought to be in school around other kids his age." But over time, we earned his respect and admiration and even support. He is very proud of Colt now and doesn't even question our decision with Joy. He sees how Colt is doing in college and that he is a well-rounded young man with good work ethics and responsibility as well. So, don't be surprised if you have family that doubts your decision at first, but comes around pretty quickly when they see how they're doing! But I have to warn you....people love to "quiz" homeschooled kids! :)

Gosh, I didn't know this would be such a long post. However, I hope it did answer the questions and concerns you have. I also want to say that whether your child is homeschooled, in private school or public school, I respect each and everyone's decision to do what's right for YOUR family! And isn't that what freedom is all about? God bless you all as you guide your children through the learning process and are involved in their education...whatever manner you choose!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Goodwill Finds, A New (Different) Computer & Shelley's Giveaway

Tuesday night while Joy was in dance class, I stopped in Goodwill. I have a regular route through there, scanning the tops of the shelves, usually ending in the books. This time, believe it or not, I didn't find any books. That's very rare. But here's what I did find for a total of $7.00.

I will add the rolling pin to my collection in a crock in my kitchen. I'm not quite sure what I will do with the little Americana basket. I can picture it for sure being used in the summer for get-togethers with silverware tucked inside. But I'll find a place for it's everyday use probably somewhere in my Prim/Americana living room or foyer. I can never pass up a cutting board. This one was a little smaller and just the size to hang in a little wall space between my kitchen countertops and the cabinets. Of course, it will be painted and primmed. And the last thing I picked up there was this little wooden box. I passed it up last week and wished that I had gotten it after I came home. I picture it painted and primmed and on the back of the toilet in the bathroom with prims toiletries tucked inside. I'm brainstorming on that one! But I was tickled to find it still there from last week. It was only 99 cents.

Then I had a few more minutes before the antique gallery/flea market closed, so I made a quick run through there. I found this old wooden bowl for $5. The fruit painted inside has definitely got to go. I hope to have a great prim bowl when I'm finished with it! I was excited to find this because I love wooden bowls. Although I'd love to have true antique bowls, I really can't swing the price tag for them, so I'm fine with reproductions or makeovers!

Second of all I thought I'd update you all on my computer woes! First let me say, I am still a fan of Dell Computers, as every other computer in our home is a Dell...Jason's work computer, Colt's new one, Joy's (Colt's old one), and our desktop. However, that being said, my red Studio 17 Dell had a hard drive problem with in a week after I had it. We took it back to the Geek Squad. They gave us a new one. The second red Studio 17 did the same thing...hard drive problem within a couple of weeks. At this point, I was getting a little skiddish about getting another one. While Jason was waiting in line again at the Geek Squad, another person was in line with the same problem, returning their's also. So, this time, he brought home an HP.

Although I really did love my red computer, I do love this one. It is a 16" screen, instead of 17" and it is black. It is a little easier to cart around and is very sturdy. So far, no problems. Wish me luck. I'm beginning to get a complex about me and computers! :)

And last of all today, I wanted to let you know about Shelley's giveaway. You have until February 28th to sign up. You have a few options about what you'd like to choose....all from her new nature photography site. Be sure to click over and check it out!


Thank you so much for all your sweet comments on Our Love Story. I loved sharing it and loved hearing Jason's side too! A girl can never hear it enough, right? :)

Come back on my next post as I answer the questions I received on Homeschool Open House Day.

Have a great Thursday! :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Our Love Story (Her Story)

I feel like I am so out of touch with all of you. I haven't had time to sit down and catch up on all your blogs. I will have to sit up really late a couple of nights this week to visit. Please don't give up on me...I'm thinking of you...there's just not enough time in a day and my blog list is growing!

Thank you all so much for the comments on Jason's story. Today, I will share with you my side of the story. :) (All of these pictures were taken after we were married at different points...we didn't have a camera while we were dating..I guess).
The only one we could find was the picture from my prom (on Jason's post).

Our Love Story (Her Story) - By Tammy

I had also dated some guys within our church, but never felt any of those were the one for me. I have to say that I do have a quality that can serve me well or not-so-well and that is a streak of stubborness. In this case, I guess you could say it served me well. After dating these others, I had set my standards of dating and finding "the one" high. My mom was praying with me and I wasn't settling for any less! I was looking for a sweet, genuine, treat-me-like-a-queen, Godly kind of guy (and if the Lord was would be really nice if he was really cute too). He had to click with my family too!

I didn't have any idea that anyone was playing matchmaker with us. Nobody clued me in, so I never even knew (at the time) about Jason's first visit to our church. I don't remember seeing him then. And at this point, let me explain about the guy he saw beside me at church on that first visit. We used to date, but didn't anymore. I had been trying to make it clear that we were only friends. Since I was the church pianist, I would lay my Bible and purse in a pew...then go to the piano. Everytime, he would proceed to go sit beside my stuff. That left me with two options...either pick up my stuff and move it and myself to another pew (which I felt was rude and non-Christian-like) or just sit down and hope for the best. I never wanted to hurt his feelings, so I would sit down and move a "safe distance" over (you know to give him the message) and he would inevitably do the whole-stretch-his-arm-across-the-pew-thing. To anyone behind, I'm sure it appeared we were together with his arm on the pew behind me. That is what Jason saw and these ladies knew the whole truth! :)

The second time he visited I remember well. Yes, I was in a blue terrycloth dress and I was very red! lol! My best friend and I had laid out in the sun for 3 hours and we both looked like lobsters! I even had water blisters on my face! Jason and I were introduced and I thought immediately that he was such a sweet, gentleman-like, confident guy (and he was handsome too). I loved that he was taller than me too! (I'm 5'7" and I always wanted a guy to be a good bit taller than me...he's 5'11"). We talked awhile there at church, then he came over to our house after church. It was very common for us to have folks over after a service for fellowship and food. We would all sit around playing music, singing, and talking...adults, youth and kids alike. He fit right in immediately! He sat beside me on the piano bench and sang right along. I remember playing "Love Me Tender" at some point and he and I singing it (that was a little awkward) but I really felt so comfortable with him. I learned later he felt the same way and pretty much knew that was "it" for him and that he thought I had the longest toes! Yes it's true! lol! He said they wrapped around the piano pedal! (He's always teased me about that).

Later that week, he invited me to go skating with his youth group from church. He had a wreck on the way and was late getting there (everyone was ok). He had to go back and get his dad's truck. Now the thing about that was that it was just the one seat and it was Jason, me, his sister (Holly) and her boyfriend....four of us in that truck. So I was sitting pretty close and I wasn't sure how comfortable I was with that. Then I remember on the way home, we dropped off Holly and her boyfriend and my mind was racing as what to do...Do I move over (Then he'll think I don't like him) OR Do I stay here which was really close because we were packed like sardines in there (It seemed way "too forward" for me). So I decided to scoot over just a bit and not all the way. I think in the end it was the wise choice as he really respected that decision. :)

I knew I really liked this guy. We could talk, and talk, and talk...and our values were exactly alike. We were both looking for the same qualities in a mate. He opened the door for me and was so sweet (and still does the same to this day..ALWAYS). I can't honestly say that I knew at that moment he was "the one" because I had to see if he was as genuine as he seemed.

After two weeks, I knew Jason was the guy I'd marry. I never doubted that he was "it" for me, from that point. God had sent me the one he created for me! We dated for almost 2 years. Jason told you about the engagement, so I won't go through that again. My family loved him! My brother loved him. He said he was a nice change to some of the other guys because he treated him so well. It was very important to me that my family loved him too!

I dreamed of a December wedding, but in the end, it just seemed too far away! So, we moved it up to July. We were married at 8:00 in the evening on July 31, 1982, in the church that we met. It was a simple wedding and I do remember my daddy asking me right before he walked me down the aisle, "Are you sure? It doesn't matter how much money we've spent...we can stop this right now." I couldn't have been more sure about anything.

We will be married 27 years in July and I can honestly say that I love this man more today than on our wedding day. I never thought that was possible, but it's true. He's always treated me so well and loved me unconditionally. I look forward to writing the rest of the chapters of Our Love Story. And....I will always be grateful for two ladies that knew we were right for each other and helping it along.... :)


In a post later this week, I plan to answer some homeschooling questions asked on the comments of Homeschool Open House. I was going to answer them privately, but I thought there might be others out there wondering about some of these same things. So stay tuned! And thank you for all your visits and comments! I enjoy them all so much!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Love Story (His Story)

Last weekend on Valentines Day, I intended to participate in Patty's (of Blessed Beyond) "Our Love Story". That whole weekend, neither Joy nor I felt well really, and I just didn't get around to doing it. I asked Patty if I could still share it with a link to hers, even though it was late, and she said she'd love for me to do so. Click here to read Patty and James' Story.

Now my hubby, Jason, is not the type to care to sit down and type or write anything. He can give wonderful speeches and speak in public (better than I ever thought of doing), but writing is not his "thing". But...I thought you all might be interested in hearing both sides of Our Love Story, so I asked him if he might dictate to me and I would write, then type the post. He said he'd like to do that if I would wait until Saturday. So we sat down at the table, and of course, Joy was there, so I got the silly side first...the hillybilly dialect version (for her entertainment). After I endured that one, he was ready to give me the real thing for the post! lol! So here are his words as he spoke to us:

Our Love Story (His Story)- by Jason

I had casually dated some young ladies of my church, but there just wasn't that click between us. I was invited to a church that I had previously attended for several years. I was told there was a piano player there that was a very attractive Christian young lady. So I went. I was planning to introduce myself. I noticed when she came down from the piano, she sat down next to another young man. I didn't realize she was dating or seeing someone else, so I didn't pursue. Two ladies of the church that knew me from previously attending there (one of which that told me about this piano player) saw me leaving and asked me if I had asked Tammy out. I told them, no, that I had seen her sitting beside someone that I assumed she was dating. And they both told me clearly, "She's NOT DATING anyone...that knucklehead is just following her around." I told them, "I'll just have to see...I'm not going to do anything right now." For not going back in and asking the piano player out, they both followed me out to my car calling me a chicken all the way. I did tell them I'd probably come back in a week or two. Within a month or so, I came back to the church and when the evening service was over, Tammy was coming down the aisle and I was walking toward her to meet her and someone that knew both of us, introduced us. She was wearing a blue dress, kind of a sundress, because she told me the day before she and some friends had gone swimming and gotten sunburned. After that, there was a couple that was invited over to Tammy's house for dinner and they asked me to come too. When we walked in, there she was, sitting on her piano bench at her house. That was it for me. The rest is history.

We dated for about a year and a half. We would have dated longer but there wasn't any need to because I was in love. We became engaged one Sunday night before church. I asked her to marry me in the parking lot of the church...the church we met in....then was married in. We wound up not going into the church that evening. We went back home to show her parents the ring. (They weren't going some reason that night).

I remember asking her dad to marry her. We were painting sealer on an underground water tank. He's good with painting with a brush...makes it look like it comes from a factory. You could tell from the point I asked him to marry her because from that point it looked like a 3 year old tried painting it. He was giving me the responsibility-of-the-husband-talk and since it was his daughter we were talking about, he wasn't too concerned with how that tank looked.

We set a date for December, in 1982, but we moved it up to July 31st of 1982. On that date, we became one. I remember standing in the hall of the church before the entrance door into the auditorium, with all the groomsmen (my daddy was the best man) and I remember I was waiting for him to say something like, "Are you sure this is what you want to do...don't worry about backing's the time if you want." I guess from him knowing me, he knew I had found the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. If you were to know my him, there's no since going into something if you already know what the answer is.

After we were married, we were in the truck. We were headed to our honeymoon destination and it was very late. I remember my new wife stretching across and laying her head in my lap because she was tired and I knew then that she trusted me. (Very few people go to sleep when I'm driving). At that point alot of things ran through my mind....that being a husband is not just a ceremony...being a husband is being a caretaker of the family and he must provide, perservere, and he must protect at all costs.

Come back for Her Story (Tammy's story) on the next post.....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pop's Birthday

Last Sunday (Feburary 15th) was my daddy's birthday. With it coming on a Sunday, I somehow managed to "forget" to blog it. I didn't forget his birthday at all. We all celebrated his birthday at Bonanza Steakhouse, the restaurant of his choice and mama made him coconut pies!

My daddy (or Pop as we call him since the grandkids came along) turned 67, but you would never know it! He's a hard working, outdoorsy, tinkering kind of man. He loves to hunt, fish, and "tinker around outside" as well call it. He pretty much has to be doing something and if he's not he's probably in his recliner watching hunting or fishing on the TV or a western movie! I guess there's not anything my daddy can't do either (in my eyes anyway).

My daddy is a guy to give out nicknames too. If he's around a kid (especially) very long, he gives them a nickname. Of course, my brother and I have nicknames and all the grandchildren and their friends even. He has a Punk, Partner, Pistol, Toots, Sweet Pea and Snuggles among us. Can you guess which one is me?

Some of his favorite questions for kids are: "Do you live around here or work on a farm?" OR "Have you been contemplating matrimony lately?" OR his favorite "Do you slumber in the bed?" He gets a kick out of their responses (and looks)! We just all sit back and grin.

He loves history, old things, nature, his family, and anything to do with a simple life. I'm very proud to have a dad like mine....can you tell?

Happy birthday (again) Pop! Thanks for being the man and dad you are!

I love you!
~ Tammy ~

(If you guessed "Toots" were right...that's me.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ann (with an "E")

That's very important......Ann with an "e" (Anne) of Green Gables.......I can't tell you how much we are enjoying this movie. It has been MANY years since I've seen this on Hallmark and Joy has never seen it. (I'm afraid I've broken my rule of read the book first though). My friend, Tammy, and her family, have enjoyed this recently and jogged my memory on it! I'm happy to say that it was on my Netflix list and arrived in the mail yesterday. Joy and I sat up way too late captivated by it! We had to turn it off with plans to continue it. Of course, I have the sequels in our Netflix queue to watch after these.

There's so much I love about Anne! What a breath of fresh air she is and what a spunky girl. She reminds me of my Joy so much (a little of myself when I was younger)! You've got to love that imagination and romantic notions of hers!

All I can say is if you've missed this movie, you've missed a good one! These are the types of movies I want to share with my family....movies that make you want to build character! (And did I mention that I LOVE that house and the inside decor?) :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Homeschool Open House - A Typical Homeschool Day At Our House

Gosh, time passes so quickly! It hardly seems I've been away from my blog for four days! Joy and I have both been sick over the weekend with the nasty cold stuff. We're still not back 100%, but feeling a bit better.

Today's is Tammy's (Lattes and Lollypops), Homeschool Open House. I really had hoped that we would be far enough along on our Geography project...our study of share today, but it looks like it will be next time. Our Homeschool Group's Geography Fair is March 3rd, so I KNOW it will be ready in March! :)

Instead today, I thought I'd share a typical homeschool day with you. I was thinking that it might be interesting to people that have no idea what a homeschooler's day is like. What our day is NOT like is a typical classroom. I know years ago, I pictured myself standing in front of my little students, beginning with the pledge, and going over the calendar and weather, and actually "standing in front of them teaching". Actually our homeschooling day is just a natural part of our day. It is more of an ongoing learning atmosphere that is always present throughout our day. Since we've homeschooled for 15 years now, it really just feels as natural as getting dressed and everything else we do.

We begin our mornings with some basic chores followed by breakfast. If I can sneak a peek at my computer at any point during this time, I usually do, otherwise, it's lunchtime before I get another chance. At the breakfast table, I'm usually finished first, so I begin reading aloud to Joy while she finishes up her breakfast. We've always placed high importance upon reading and reading aloud to our children, even through the high school years. As a matter of fact, if I had to pick the one thing about our homeschooling day that I love best....that's it....READ ALOUD TIME. It builds bonds of togetherness, not to mention the listening skills it requires and develops! After awhile (usually after she finishes eating), we move into the living room, where we either snuggle together in a chair, or Joy lies, sits, or props in more positions than I knew ever existed...(but she's listening!) As a matter of fact, I ask her to tell back to me (or narrate) what she just heard, or at times, I'll have her ask me questions from what I read. After all, she has to listen to know what to ask me! As a matter of fact, I find that she listens well to try to find a question that I might not remember or know! lol! After our read alouds are done (there are usually at least two..sometimes three), then we move onto our oral activities such as spelling and grammar reviews and memorization work. From there, Joy usually works on her independent work such as workbooks and notebooks (Math, Handwriting and Copywork for example) as well as her personal literature readings and Bible reading.

Again, some of this is done at the breakfast table, some at her desk, and some sitting or lying on the couch or recliner. By the time all of this is done, it's usually lunch time.

After lunch we work on any ongoing projects or experiments such as Science, Geography and Creative Writing and practicing her dance, piano and taekwondo. And even free time is spent learning as Joy loves to post on her blog in which case she is practicing her spelling, writing and grammar skills as well as her typing and computer skills. (She learned to type from a computer software program Kids Typing Instructor).

She has a few penpals that she corresponds with as well. So there again, she's practicing her handwriting and working on that spelling and grammar again! I really have found it true that if I gave my kids free time, they will spend it on something in which they're learning (I just don't tell them they're learning)! Then again, you know we don't have cable or Direct TV and only get a couple of channels, so the TV is not on, unless we are watching a DVD that we have received from Netflix. It's amazing what that does for creativity! lol!
She was working on a sewing project (the one for my mom's birthday) the day I took all these pictures.

And then is our homeschooling day over? Well Monday evenings, she has taekwondo for 2 hours. Tuesday evenings, she spends 1 hour in dance. Wednesday evenings she spends at church for about an hour. Thursday evenings, she spends 1 1/2 hours in dance and Friday evenings, she spends 2 more hours in taekwondo. So there's plenty of extra-curricular (and P.E.) activities to keep her busy (of her choice by the way).

Then every night, you can usually find Joy falling asleep with a book in her hand! If I remember correctly, this particular night was a book on friendships.

In addition, every Tuesday afternoon we spend 1 1/2 hours with our local homeschool group for "gym". It's a time for the kids to play together (of all ages). There are many game tables such as ping pong, air hockey, foos ball, pool, as well as basketball court, roller racers, and if they want to play a board game, there are those to choose from as well. And the moms get to visit while we watch the kids. I love our group...or our homeschooling I call it! Once a month, the kids have recitation and skate day. Recitation is a time when they recite, share, or perform something in front of our group. When we finish, we skate in the gymnasium.

And scattered among these activities named above are field trips and parties scheduled by our group that we attend. When Colt was young, I remember being asked if I worried about socialization skills, and honestly, I did sometimes when he was little. I think it was more fear of the unknown than anything. Now I laugh, and say, "Yeah, I worry we do TOO much of it...I need to say No to some things!" lol! Besides, I found out that Colt doesn't have a bit problem socializing and Joy never has! She was born talking and doing! And one day, when this house is quiet, I just might be wishing for this hectic schedule and socializing! :)

Here's Joy showing you our home library! I told you we love books around here! Although we do sell some of our books to make way for new ones, it's hard to depart with some! My kids know my system of keeping the books, but I doubt anyone else could find a particular book! I have my "Geography Section", "History Section", "Resource Section", "Creative Arts Section", etc... One day, I hope to organize our books in a way that more closely resembles a library shelf! Until, then we'll just do it mom's way! (By the way, Jason built me these shelves...below in the cabinets are craft and school supplies). This is in our loft area.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into one of our homeschooling days.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Rose and a Clarification

Last night at church, my 10 year old prayer daughter, Kim, gave me a rose for Valentines Day. Wasn't that sweet? It's nice to feel loved, especially by a child! :)

This picture was taken at Joy's birthday party. Kim is the one with the short hair in the front on the right side.

About the clarification part of my post, I'm afraid that I didn't make myself clear and my cabinet pictures were a little misleading. As a matter of fact, when I look back at the pictures, I can see where it was hard to see the difference. But if you look closely at my walls above the cabinets, you will see that this is a space that I can't SIT anything on at all. Everything there would have to be hung and that is one reason why I want to be sure before I put anything up there. The wall actually comes out to the front portion of the cabinet and goes up to the ceiling (I think it's called a furdown)? I'm not sure that's how you spell it. In other words, I wouldn't be sitting anything ON TOP of the cabinets because there is no top of the is met with wall.

It is a narrow strip of about 14" of wall space all the way around my cabinets (3 walls worth). So now, do any of you have this kind of space above your cabinets or have any ideas knowing this? I loved the ideas you named and had it been a place to sit things, I think those would be great and I actually wouldn't have as much trouble finding things to put there.

I did notice in the current CS magazine, (Earlene's home on page 23), she has muffin tins hanging.

She has the type of space that I have above my cabinets. If you want to look there, you can get an idea of what I'm talking about. Again, any ideas?

And I would like to say Tonya, if you're reading this post today, I love ya! Thank you for your friendship! :)

Have a great Thursday, everyone!

~ Tammy ~

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

WWOW - Farmhouse Kitchen and Goodwill Chair

For Leslie's Watcha Workin on Wednesday, I thought I'd share a tad bit of what I've been up to lately as far as decorating goes.

The church ladies gave me a gift card to Gordmans at the Christmas party. I hadn't spent it until now, because nothing really jumped out at me until I found this sign on clearance the other day for $8. I really liked the looks of it and thought it would be just right for above my kitchen sink and I liked the price. Remember I do love a blend of primitive/farmhouse and rustic decor. All my appliances are black, so this really seems to stand out against the wall color with the other black in the room.

Here's a closer look:

I've been trying to decide what the little bit of wall above all my cabinets needed too. Since I'm unsure, I've done nothing. That's really my philosophy. I'd rather do nothing, than buy something I'm not sure I would want. One day, I know I will come across just the "right" things, whether it be in a store, or ideas in a magazine, etc. I've been thinking along the lines of old muffin tins, but not necessarily all muffin tins. That could get monotonous. I don't want it to be really busy either. Any ideas for all this area?

As you can see it goes all the way around 3 different walls.

Then remember the Goodwill chair that I found to use for Joy's desk? After three coats of paint, here it is:

Joy didn't really want it distressed, so I left it as is. She is thinking she would like something stenciled on the back. Any ideas? Here's a link to the post she did on her bedroom. You can tell a little more about her decor there. I'm thinking something Shabby Chic/Cottage Style, but again we both like simplicity, so nothing that takes center stage, but something subtle, if anything at all.

And that's about all I've been up to as far as decorating here lately. It seems we've been doing more running than anything. I'm really wanting to start a spring stitchery, so hopefully next time, I can show you something like that!

Thanks for stopping by and for your input! I always enjoy the comments...thanks so much! Have a great Wednesday!

~ Tammy ~

Monday, February 9, 2009

He Never Lets Us Forget.....

This was my favorite vehicle that we owned. It was a 1985 Mustang GT and it was mine! I remember the day Jason drove it up to the bank where I worked. At that time, it was silver, not white. It wasn't brand-new. It had belonged to someone else for about three or four months. But I knew the minute I saw it, I wanted it.

That car served us faithfully for many years. I remember us being packed like sardines in it when Colt and my nephew, Trey, were babies. They were three months apart. We would go shopping (and sometimes grocery shopping) with me driving, and either my mom or sister-in-law, Missy, in the passenger seat. Then we had one baby on one side, the other one on the other side and either my mom or Missy in between them (they would trade off). On top of that, it was only two doors and it was a 5-speed. So you can imagine how hard it was getting two babies in and out of the car especially with packages and all! But we did it! We looked like cool mamas, I guess! Or we might of looked like the Beverly Hillbillies somedays! :) We even had a bag phone for our car; anyone remember those?

The paint started chipping on it and my cousin that does body work, repainted it white for us, and I really liked that color even more! We drove that car for a total of eight years and decided we needed more of a family car with four doors. We sold it and got us a 1993 Buick LeSabre and it felt huge and so luxurious, but it didn't take me long to miss my cool Mustang with power! :)

Many times since then, I've missed that ole' car! No other car has given me the same feeling that car gave me. And I can't tell you how many times Colt has asked, "Why in the world did you sell that car? Why weren't you thinking of your future children? Did you not realize that we would want that car, especially your son?"

And to be honest with you, I wish we had.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Best Buds" - Our Youth Praise Team (Video Clip)

If you've read my blog for long at all, you know that our son, Colt, is very much into his music. He, and his best friends, Matt and Samantha (who are a couple by the way), lead the music for our youth group at church every Wednesday night. They are responsible for choosing the music, practicing, and performing and/or leading praise and worship every Wednesday night. I try to go in with the youth when I'm not working with the kids in the back during Wednesday services, because I really enjoy listening to them and being involved with the youth service. This past Wednesday night, I brought along Jason's camera and took a video of them doing one of their songs. In this video, they are performing How Great Is Our God. Matt is on the drums; Samantha is singing lead; Colt is playing guitar and harmonizing with Samantha. On the songs that Colt sings lead, Samantha sings the harmony. And although, the guitar and bass guitar are Colt's main instruments and drums are Matt's main instrument, they do like to swap out occasionally and play the opposite instruments. I'm very proud of these three and the responsibility they take in these roles. All three of them have been blessed and honored to represent our state in the National Teen Talent - Samantha with singing, Matt with drums, and Colt with guitar. Thank you for allowing me to share this little video clip of them. It lasts a little over four minutes. I hope that's not too long to ask you to linger!

I couldn't end this post either without telling you that Samantha and Matt are Colt's best friends. I think it's really ironic that Colt and Samantha grew up together and were together alot from the time they were born until they were about five. Then we went to different churches, and Samantha and Matt knew each other through those years as kids. After that, we ended up at the same church with Samantha again and Colt and Samantha started singing together. Then along came Matt to that church, and the three of them became close friends, making music together, and Matt and Samantha became a happy couple.

Here's the three of them a few years ago on a youth trip. Matt was in his long hair stage! :)

Here's Colt and Matt (along with mutual friend, Corey) at Colt's graduation reception.

And here's Colt taking a candid shot with Samantha at a youth banquet. They're so used to me taking their picture any chance I get! (By the way, Samantha's grandma is my friend, Betty, in the Ozark foothills). I know Betty is sitting at her computer screen with a big ole' grin right now! :)

Now allow me to turn back the clock a little bit and show you just how far Colt and Samantha go back. Here they are in their Hawaiian outfits that Jason and I brought them back from Hawaii. (Samantha had taken a tumble and had a bruise on her nose).

Here they are one evening at our house. I love this picture! Don't you think Colt looks so protective?

Here's another one of Colt, Samantha, and my nephew, Trey. Those three could make some mischief! Who would know that almost 18 years later, they would be doing this exact thing, Colt and Trey with guitars and Samantha with a microphone?

I remember this day very well. Samantha's mother, Tracy, and I had bought these somewhat matching outfits and I invited them down to the house for a little mini photo shoot. They were up to their normal mischief, but you can't tell it by this picture.....they look so innocent. I love this one too! Don't you just love Samantha's hair?

I hope and pray they all three continue to use their talents to the glory of God and remain as close as they are buds.