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Saturday, June 24, 2017

2016-2017 End of the year review

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The school year has come to a close, and it happened right on time! We are finishing up construction on the parsonage, things were being shoved into corners for the painters, and we are working on our upcoming furlough schedule!  If you missed the curriculum post about what we had planned on using this year, here is the link.

K-5
Mr. Hotwheels was quite the challenge when it came to being motivated to do his work but we made it through! He really loved his BJU math and was excited about learning to read. We worked through about 25 lessons of the Burnz' Pronouncing Print reader and it really helped him to build confidence in reading one-vowel words without relying on picture clues. That in conjunction with the A Beka K-5 phonics program has helped him progress smoothly into two-vowels words and some special sounds. He can now pick up a level one reader and read most of it on his own. He also loved the Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten book.

2nd
Mr. Bookworm has blown through everything that I place in front of him. On of the last books I downloaded for him was Mr Popper's Penguins. He read it in three hours, and then reread it again a few days later! So throughout the year we have read from several public domain readers and used lists like the one from Ambleside Online.  With math we had to take a step back because the BJU advanced quickly into two-digit arithmetic and we needed to work on memorizing our math facts well before learning new concepts. We used MEP Year 1, a free downloadable program that focuses on building basic addition and subtraction skills along with logic, and now he is confidently advancing with Christian Light Education's math program.


With both boys we switched back and forth between a grade level workbook, Explode the Code phonics, and the ABeka program. I realized that teaching two children with two more on the horizon that I just do not have the time to teach every course individually, and I needed something that would fit our needs as we head into the new school and our first furlough from the mission field at the same time. Stay tuned to see what we have planned for next year!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Praying with confidence!

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I John 5:14

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, 
if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.
Ask anything!
That's what the Bible says...but let's not take it out of context. John is speaking to believers and let's us know that our asking must meet God's standards and not our own. However, we can be confident that God is willing to hear our prayers and that we can ask Him anything boldly at the throne of grace.
What a privilege for us as children of the Living God to know our prayers are heard!

Ask according to HIS will...
Ah...there's the stipulation. If it's not God's will for you to have a million dollars right now then trust me, it's not going to happen! When we are asking we need to ask in obedience to God's commands found in His Word. We cannot connive God into fulfilling our selfish, and sometimes sinful desires. When we want what He wants we can ask confidently!

Walk in the Word today and be blessed!

Casandra

Friday, August 5, 2016

10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes - part 10 Curriculum 2016-2017

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Whew! If I took the time to discuss how many plans, options, choices, decisions, etc. went into planning this school year it would take forever, and you would probably stop reading after page 20!

Anyway, my motto this year is "Keep it simple sweetheart!" and my goal is to keep to the curriculum plan that I have mapped out despite whatever whining may occur because a certain someone has a dislike for writing neatly in his notebook.  That said, I have spent time evaluating my children's likes/dislikes, needs/wants, and my own expectations before making a final decision.  Here we are at the end of the first week and we are enjoying our choices, but already I see the need to pare back some of my over zealousness to keep our choices simple yet satisfying!

Kindergarten!
For my kindergartner I am using the Abeka language arts program loosely.  I say loosely because somewhere in the middle of last year the letter sounds clicked for him and he started reading. So in reality, according to his abilities we can skip the first 60 lessons and start with long vowels.  However, though he can read he wasn't really confident in his abilities with cvc words so we are doing a mixture of things to keep the ball rolling.  They include but aren't limited too...

  • The Step-by-Step Primer with Burnz' Pronouncing Print by Eliza Boardman Burnz. (I'm sure you've never heard of it since it was printed in the late 1800's. It is basically a pure phonics reader.  Each lesson introduces a new letter and adds words using the new sound and previously learned sounds. There are also a few sight words thrown in...less than 10 in the first 30 lessons. We are taking it slow and building his confidence!)
  • Bob Books readers and other phonetic readers from our library.
  • Phonetic readers found online at openlibrary.org. (another post coming soon!)
  • Letters and Sounds K and Writing with Phonics K from Abeka book. We are working through them as the lessons appear until we reach the two-vowel rule, and then we will continue the phonics lessons from the teacher's guide as needed.
  • Readiness Skills K from Abeka book. It includes activities such as coloring, cutting and logic skills.
For math we are using the Math K5 program from BJU Press.  I have the teacher's edition that comes with a cd of printables and the student manipulatives pack.  We love the hands-on activities and the manipulatives pack makes it easier for me since I don't have to spend time searching for hands-on things to use for each lesson.  My wiggly kinesthetic learners really enjoy the program and the themes that go with each year.

We also have a Social Studies book and a Science reader from Abeka to round things out for K5.

Second grade
This is where I exercised the most brain power!  Mr. Bookworm loves to read, loves science, loves computer-based learning, hates writing and avoids it all costs, is super advanced in some areas and needs a little extra help in others!  And I? I only have so much time and energy to give.  We tried a few different language arts approaches this week just to test the waters and find that delicate balance of oral learning, visual learning, physical learning, and of course, old-fashioned pen and pencil learning.

For math, we are continuing on with BJU's 2nd grade curriculum. We had to pause to work on addition during first grade but we are back in full swing and he is eager to improve his math skills. Praise the Lord!


  • The curriculum comes with a workbook and a review book. So each day he does the workbook page with me during the lesson and the review page covers the previous day's work on the front and a cumulative review on the back.  Like I said, we are sharpening our skills.
  • He also likes to use the review games on Easy Peasy's website.


For language arts...

  • Spelling 2 from Abeka. (He choose the simplicity of the format with only short exercises for each lesson. Aside from that he will daily trace the words in a page protector and do some form of hands-on or computer practice like Spelling City.)
  • We also already had the phonics and language seatwork books from Abeka so we will incorporate those as needed into his independent work time.
  • Easy Peasy All-in-one homeschool for reading. (He loves learning online and Easy Peasy has an advanced reading level that challenges him!)
  • Handwriting without Tears - Printing Power (This is the second grade book. He already learned the formation of the letters in first grade, so now we are working on doing it right the first time or doing it again. "Slow and steady wins the race!")
For science and history...
  • These are subjects that he loves, and since he soaks up information like a sponge he actually asked to do extra work in these subjects on Easy Peasy in addition to the science and history readers from Abeka. (By the way...he read the entire science book in one sitting before we even started school!)
Group subjects...
  • Morning time - we pray, sing Bible songs, patriotic songs, memorize Bible passages, poems, finger plays and quotations. Then we have our Bible lesson. This year we are using the Bible Study Guide for all ages and really enjoy it!
  • Exploration time - we often branch off and do extended unit studies, usually science related. (Don't gasp in shock. We keep it simple, meaning cut and paste in a notebook, read a book, do research via a YouTube video and we're done!)  Right now they are into spiders. Yech!

So that's the plan and I'm sticking to it!  Except for one exception...Daddy volunteered to teach Bible so that shortens up our morning time and lightens my load!  What are your plans for this year? I'd love to hear them!

Be blessed,

Casandra

Thursday, August 4, 2016

10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes - part 9 Organizing with limited energy

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What a fitting post for the end of the week!  Here it is Thursday and I am ready to plop down on the bed and take it easy! This first week of school has been especially exciting for my five year old. Mr. Hotwheels is a workbook fanatic and loves receiving a fresh page to tackle. When I ask him to find the words with the short i sound he says things like, "Aha! You didn't get away from me!" as he circles the answer. I love it!

Mr. Bookworm is also enjoying his work with a minimal amount of complaining. Of course, in every life some rain must fall, but our motto this year is, "Do it right the first time...or do it again!" So when his desire to get it over and done with overcomes his desire to work neatly he must suffer the consequences.  I think we will be seeing a lot of progress in neatness from him in the next few weeks! However, when it comes to his computer-based work I hear no complaints and the time just flies by for him as he soaks up the information like a sponge. I know he is learning a lot because any time I quiz him he squeezes that sponge dry by retelling me every detail of what he has read or seen.

So, on to organization.  I have been trying the bullet journal method off and on for about 6 months and like the freedom of not having a set format for my weekly calendar. If you are unfamiliar with the method you can find out more about the original method here or check out some You Tube videos.  It is simply emptying your brain into a notebook. I make a weekly spread to track any church-related appointments, doctor visits, menu ideas, etc. Then if I need to make a list of worksheets to print for home school or need to jot down a quick outline for my children's church lesson I can easily turn the next page and start writing. A simple index and page numbering system helps you find your information again when you need it.

You can basically put into one notebook what used to fill up three or four.  Skip the giant binder with 20 divisions for the perfect home that you may or may not look at ever again after you finish printing it all and putting it together and grab a spiral bound notebook and organize your life the easy way.

My bullet journal is a smaller A5 size that I can fit into my bag and take with me. For home school I use a larger A4 size notebook. The main reason for having two notebooks is that I didn't want to accidentally leave or lose my home school plans at church or anywhere else. My home school bullet journal planner sits with my teacher's manuals most of the time and the smaller one goes pretty much everywhere I go.


I spent EONS searching for the perfect home school planner and never found it. I didn't want to download 180 pages and then say "eh?" and throw it in the trash. I needed a simple layout where I could plan out our week at a glance and not over plan. (I may have been guitly of that in the past!)

So the bullet journal style is what works best for me and though I was wringing my hands at the start of this week because I didn't have pages and pages of notes written out the week has gone smoothly. I also made 6 week outlines for the main subjects to have an idea of where we were going...but alas, some of those changed before we even started.  My goal this year is not to be swayed by what everyone else is doing, but to stick to what I know works best for my family!





Keep your eye on the prize and press toward the mark!

Be blessed,

Casandra

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes - part 8 Diet is key

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"So...can you eat that? What things are you not allowed to eat? What is your diet like?"  Believe it or not these are the kinds of questions that I receive most about having diabetes.  I always answer with a smug smile...

The diabetic diet is the same diet that everyone should have!

Of course, there are things that we should avoid and things that we should eat more of, but a healthy, balanced diet is key to good health.  I am not a medical doctor, nor am I giving medical advice today. Everyone's body is different and has different needs.  For example, I've learned that if I completely cut out all sources of carbohydrates in my diet I tend to experience extremely low blood sugar which brings about different health issues!  I also will have high blood sugar if I have a heavy carb-laden breakfast even if I take my medication.  So BALANCE is key.

Omelets anyone?

I have had diabetes for 12 years and in order to make it through the day while keeping my sugar levels balanced and not falling off the brink of insanity I have learned to adjust my diet.

When we lived in the United States it was more difficult to control with all of the ready-made, pre-packaged convenience foods available. Not to mention a McDonalds on every corner!  Here in Peru I must make nearly everything from scratch so we automatically have a healthier diet.

For homeschooling I have found that I need to have a good plan for my own breakfast or I fall into the vicious cycle of cereal overdose!  My children will eat anything and everything so it is my responsibility to provide them with healthy choices.

We try to have a snack sometime during the morning as well because if my sugar goes low then I become cranky and it takes awhile for my body to feel stabilized again.  We keep the cookie purchases to a minimum because it becomes an easy way to cave in to cravings.  If I have to load up four children and take a ten minute walk just to buy a bag of Oreos (each bag here has 4 cookies in it)...believe me I will think twice before attempting it.  But if in the snack drawer we have a six pack of baggies I will not think twice before eating two and eyeballing a third one!

The best way to eat for diabetes is about five times a day.  That doesn't mean a bag of chips here and a bag of cookies over there. It means a balanced breakfast, lunch, dinner and two low carb snacks.  We tend to have our bigger meal for lunch and something light for dinner. This also helps keep  my sugars in check.

The menu planning idea that has worked best for me is to not assign meals to certain days...at first.  First I will make a list of lunch/dinner options for the week and base our grocery list off of that.  Then I know what things are available and I can pick and choose throughout the week or make something totally different based off of what's available.  I need a base plan so that I don't end up eating peanut butter on a spoon and sprinkling it with chocolate chips.

However, since my husband is a pastor we often receive various and sundry food items as gifts from our church members and I have learned to do marvelous things with a sack of potatoes.

Keep it simple.  Keep it real.  Keep it healthy!

Be blessed,

Casandra
Read this series from the beginning: part 1

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes - part 7 Working around your health

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Want to go back to the beginning? Here's part one!

Good days for diabetics are normal days for the rest of the world!

A "good" day means that I feel like a super hero. I am ready to tackle any task...even that dreaded pile of dishes!

But a "bad" day can mean just feeling extra tired and sluggish (read that as "feeling like you have the knock-you-off-your-feet version of the flu"). It can include mood swings, low blood sugar, high blood sugar, etc. Even being sick can throw you for a loop because everything affects your blood sugar.

What it boils down to is...
I'm tired and they are not!
I don't want to do school but they need to.
I don't want to cook, clean, wash, or whatever, but Hey! We have to eat at some point!
The Eager Beaver

So what do I do?
Think of your energy level as a gas tank. I can tell as soon as I wake up if my tank is full, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, or empty. This internal regulator of mine is helpful because it helps me decide which task to conquer now and which ones to leave for later.

When dealing with school on a bad day, unless I am completely bedridden, we will tackle the main subjects and leave the extras for another day. My boys know on those days that we need to "get her done, Son!" and not mess around because Mommy needs to rest.

Also, Daddy has been known to supervise a math page or two and he can be more exacting than Mommy!

My advice is don't be discouraged when you have a day where your energy level is not at 100%. You can't avoid those days but you can plan ahead for them!

Be blessed, 


Monday, August 1, 2016

10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes - part 6 Afternoon rest time

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Read the series from the beginning :Part 1
I'm tired...and when I say I'm tired what I really mean is I'M TIRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Today was our official back to school day and we had a great time learning together. And then...just as I was dreaming of flopping onto my bed and celebrating Daddy revved up the car and we headed out on an expedition to pick up hymnals for our church, my diabetes medication from the pharmacy, and groceries.  We are just rolling back in at 8 p.m.!  Oh, well, so much for my nap! 

Some days just fly by with so many things to accomplish and if I go, go, go all day at some point my body will literally crash and burn! For diabetics adequate rest is important.  Nap time are probably two of my favorite words! Unfortunately my 2 year old doesn't really nap anymore and the 1 year old has started skipping his morning nap which equals toddler caos until around 4 p.m.  This would be fine except my body is screaming to rest around 2 p.m.  Do the math.

So we have instituted Afternoon rest time.

The ideal would be...(cue dream scene music)
...every one sitting or lying down in their own room placidly pushing cars around or coloring.

The REALITY is...
...every one lives in the same room and when they are all in there together there is anything but quiet going on!  

The solution - What we do.
    After lunch time the babies go down for a nap.  Which usually ends up being around 2 p.m.  The 2 year old Princess who insists that she doesn't need to sleep will  normally cave in after a few minutes in her crib.  If not she has learned to play quietly with her play dishes or look at a book.  The baby is in his playpen with his treasured bottle of milk and he will also snuggle down for his nap.

   The older boys have to go downstairs.  Their idea of playing quietly usually involves elaborate train wrecks, transformer battles, and crazy inventions with clay and string.  NOT EVEN CLOSE to Mommy's definition of quiet.  So they must play downstairs on a carpet that we have set up for toy usage.  We have a closet with their toys stored in it and them may remove items by permission only.  We call it the Toybrary! 

If they violate the rules by yelling, fighting, coming upstairs repeatedly, or interrupting Mommy a hundred times to ask a million unnecessary questions, then they may receive a mandatory nap time as well.  If they have had too much "togetherness" during the day then they may be assigned different areas like one of you goes outside.

And Mom? Normally Daddy is home to corral the troops if necessary and I am in my room blissfully doing WHATEVER I WANT which may include taking my own much needed nap or having a little me time or working on whatever I couldn't concentrate on with eight extra arms hanging off of me!

So take that time to rest, rejuvenate, and renew your energy for the rest of the day. Trust me, you won't regret it!

Be blessed!

Casandra