You CAN Help Stop Child Sex-Trafficking

I am going to be brief and direct. Every one of us has a responsibility to protect our children. Sex Trafficking of our children does not just happen to other children, it happens to many. I pray that it will not happen to your child or to my child, and that it will happen to no child.

Nhu is an amazing and inspiring woman that herself was sold into such an horrific situation, by her grandmother, beginning at a mere twelve years of age.

Several years later she was found herself free from the horrors that she once faced and she has since dedicated her life to stopping sex trafficking.

Please, take the time to learn about Nhu. Read her story. Get involved. Donate. Simply put, do something.

For more information on how you can stop child sex trafficking visit www.remembernhu.org

 

 

Another Kick-Myself Moment

https://pro2-bar-s3-cdn-cf3.myportfolio.com/aac73c969138ebcf14d155099aa5ec64/e965b31c82937c3ab2663fde_rw_1200.jpg?h=dfb4429f1abb4cad896228a51e1bee3aThere are moments that I just feel like I need to kick myself, you know, those times that you wonder how you let something slip by? Sometimes I overlooked something and regret it later. Other times I am persistent towards something that really should not be done, and I lose a lot of time spent on the worthless pursuit.

Tonight I had one of those feelings of lost time.

Two years ago a friend of mine brought over a couple of CDs. They were from Season One of the Brinkman Adventures. A funny side note is that she’s a Brinkman, but with no connection to the fabulous audio adventure production. I accepted the discs that she graciously shared and set them aside to listen to later. Later, became weeks. Weeks, became months and months became years, two years in fact!

Several months ago, we got an opportunity to review Season Four of the Brinkman Adventures and sadly, it was our first time listening to the incredible audio adventures! We enjoyed them so much and talked about how we could not wait to listen to the CDs that we still had sitting on our shelf! Those days became weeks and those weeks became months, until the other night.

As I was tucking the kids into bed I had a fond memory of us gathered together, listening to the Brinkmans during our review. I gathered the discs and came to the room where we sat and listened to the very first episode. One episode became two and those two almost became three except I just had to get some sleep that night!

I really regret the time lost that we could have been enjoying these fruitful, fun and exciting missionary adventure tales. Although time may have passed by, the good news is that we did not miss out. We still have the opportunity to enjoy each one.

We are quickly making up for lost time!

 

Encouraging Independent Learning

https://www.fatiguescience.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Working-Schedule.pngWe are on our fourth year of homeschooling three children. It has been a wild ride and a constantly changing environment. I am often reminded that one of the greatest benefits of home e ducating is the ability to be more fluid with our environment, making changes as needed.

As Bookworm Beauty continues to creep towards high school, I have recognized the value of encouraging more independent learning. It only makes sense. Her educational needs are growing and are vastly different from the two younger elementary siblings. We have tried a few different ways of managing the independent learning and have finally settled on a system that is working well for us all.

As she has become more self-sufficient with her education, Sweetness (3rd grade) has shown great interest in taking control of hers as well. I resisted a little at first and then remembered why we homeschool. We want our children to grow up self-sufficient, able to learn and master new things, and be responsible for themselves. Certainly, her interest was in alignment with all of those reasons, so we gave it a try. I am thrilled to report that they are both moving into a more independent role with their studies and it has given me more freedom to work one on one with The Boy (2nd grade).

How We Do It

We started with a simple week in view calendar. We needed one with ample space to account for a full day. A month in view provided too little space for writing down important activities, lessons, appointments, etc. A day in view calendar provided too much space and took away the ability to see the bigger picture, such as the weekly activities. The week in view was perfect. It allowed space for each day as well as a built in area for tasks.

We sit down at the beginning of the week and go over the activities for the weeks. The girls take our their calendar and list their basketball games, practices, church activities, scheduled play dates or overnighters, as well as any other commitments. Once those are in place, they are able to see what time they would need to get up for that particular day (each has an alarm clock so that mom doesn’t need to be one). That time is written in the first line of the day. This alone has been a wonderful tool for building responsibility! Every night they are able to look at their calendar and set their alarm accordingly. They are also able to see if they need to do anything else to be prepared for the following day such as lay out their clothes.

The next step is to list their lessons for the week in the tasks section. For example, Sweetness wrote Math- 23a, 23b, 23c, 3’s, 4’s. She needs to complete three pages in her math text, take her 3’s multiplication facts test and begin working on her 4’s. They listed expectations for all of their classes as well as 4H, music practice, etc.

Each day the girls are able to look at their day and see where they have time available for completing their schoolwork. They decide what they want to work on first and write it into the day, in real time, as they are completing it. Once it is completed, they go over to the task area and cross that particular assignment off.

I can not possibly share how liberating this system is for us in our home! At any time, I can open one of their calendars and see exactly what they have done and what still remains for the week. This is helpful when they get an unexpected invite to go with a friend somewhere. I am able to see if they have completed enough of their lessons before giving them permission to go. More often than not, they have completed all of their assignments before the week is up, which is a wonderful blessing and gives them the ability to enjoy the fruits of the labor… rest or free time to do what they enjoy the most!

 

Failing Forward with Blogging

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me, blogging

I am not good at blogging. I know I can write and believe me when I say that I have a lot to say but I am not good at being consistent about making blogging a routine part of my life. I think that I can be a good resource for someone new to homeschooling or even new to blogging, well maybe not as good of a resource for the blogging person.

Homeschooling is important in our family, just like education is for any other family. We chose to homeschool. We have failed at many things and we have succeeded at many many more things. It is the age old two steps forward and one step back for us. I think that I could share some insight with others. That is why I blog about our homeschooling and our life on the prairie.

I am reflecting on my blogging woes for 2017 and thinking that I need to make it a bigger priority this next year. There just might be someone out there that could benefit from something I have to say. For this reason, I trudge forward.

Purposing to Make Family Memories

Handsome’s family is close, very close. It is such a wonderful experience to be part of a family that truly loves and supports one another. When we first met, he and his three siblings lived within twenty miles of each other, making it easy to get together for the various birthday parties, holidays and just because. We were all a part of each others daily lives and the next generation quickly went from crawling together to playing ball in the yard, making memories.

Leave it to an uncle to give the bunny ears!

A few years after we married, six to be exact, the families began to spread their wings a bit, each wanting to get out of the Denver Metropolitan area. His parents and a brother stayed put in the heart of Denver, the rest scattered outward. One went North about forty miles. One went Southwest about a hundred miles and we headed Southeast a hundred twenty miles. No more play dates. No more hey, let’s meet at mom’s Thursday night, just because. We all loved our new areas that we were digging roots into, but missed our frequent family gatherings.

Family has always been important to each of us, it just proved a bit harder to do anything unplanned. So planned, we did. We decided to get together quarterly. There are four siblings, so each year we all take a season to plan a get together and do something purposeful, fun and memory making.

This year, we had summer. We tried to find a date that worked for everyone, but as the kids get older, obligations just get more difficult to work around. We were finally able to plan something for Labor Day weekend and decided to just host the event here out on the prairie.

It always takes a lot out of me to plan the get togethers. I want things to be fun, purposeful and memorable. Sometimes, I forget that just being together is all that really matters. This year, I decided to focus on just that, memories. We laughed. We played. We ate and ate again and again. We launched fireworks. We shot our guns (don’t judge). The kids swam, played games and slept on the trampoline. The biggest event, though, was the family photo session.

It is difficult to get everyone together, and usually when we try, there is still someone missing. This family picture was becoming a necessity as kids are growing and moving on, and there have been three more children born since the last photo (and the youngest is six)!

We were still missing one child for the photo, and we will think of her every time we look at the photo but she started college that week and was settling in. For me, however the photo was special as it is rare that all six of my kids are together. Even more exciting is that this is the last of family photos before the next generation begins. I will treasure this for sure. It is the beginning of a new era in our lives as we become grandparents. I only wish that I was as fortunate as my mother in law and had all of my children within miles of each other to get together easily and watch the grandchildren make memories together.

It was a fun weekend. Just as fun has been viewing our photos and deciding on which ones to put onto the wall. The years keep passing us by and it is getting more and more important to sprinkle them with purposeful memories!

Getting Beyond the Foot Bone

Do you remember the bone song that we sung as kids? The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone… the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone…

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We are currently studying Human Anatomy and Physiology. I must say that we are thoroughly enjoying it too! I can not help myself, I have to shout out for Apologia for once again producing another outstanding science curriculum with their Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology! This was not a review product for us. We have enjoyed Apologia’s science programs so much so that we have invested in the full sets of the Anatomy and Physiology, the Chemistry and Physics and soon we will be purchasing both the Zoology and Botany Curriculums. ***this is not a solicited endorsement, it’s simply my honest acclamation***

Image result for the foot bone's connected to the leg boneBack to Human Anatomy and Physiology. There is so much to learn about our amazing and wonderfully created bodies. I’m a mom, in my 40’s. I have three adult children in their 20’s. I also have three younger children, under 12. I have homeschooled for nearly a decade in total over the years and I have a master’s degree. I’m educated. I also believe I am fairly knowledgeable, yet I am continually learning things that I did not know about the human body through this program.

Right now we are finishing up the bones of the body and moving into the muscular system. I remember early on in college, I learned the bones of the body. I was challenged by the professor to learn the scientific names of the bones, all 206 of them. Our kids are elementary age, and they are still sponges. They have memorized close to a hundred verses over the years in their Awana program. Certainly they, too, can learn the bones of the body.

The bar has been raised. The challenge has been thrown out there. The kids have learned that I am planning a special hiking day at one of my favorite Colorado State Parks. I have not been in several years and it is really a big deal for them to go with me. They just have to memorize the bones to earn their spot.

Today, there are many more resources available than when I was in school. Gone are the days of black text on white paper for studying things like bones. We found a couple of really fun YouTube videos with bone songs by Mr. Parr, a creative sixth grade teacher. Google him and you will find a whole assortment of songs to teach students various facts. This Bone Song and the Parts of the Skeleton songs are amazing, and quite hilarious too. Yes, it is about to get real fun around here!

 

 

It Is Brewing

Brewing (v.)  This word has multiple meanings and brings up a many thoughts. People think of beer or coffee. Others think of storms. Handsome, however, thinks of my idea machine that ends up costing him money. Yep. I think that is what is happening.

Please, oh please keep it a secret. We can not let him know yet, not until I can figure out all of the selling points that trigger his desires to jump on board with us.

I will let you in on the secret though, if you can keep a secret.

As a homeschooling family, one of our favorite things have been the field trips. It gives us wonderful opportunities to experience our learning outside of text books, videos and the like. We have experienced much on our field trips. We have walked  the road of the pioneers, flown flight simulators, tracked the weather, wandered through cliff dwellings, played with authentic telephone switchboards and even spent time in a historic one-room schoolhouse, and this is only the beginning of the many things that we have done. Field trips literally bring life into our learning.

This last year we have studied astronomy and human anatomy. We have continued to study Early American History as we have also continued our studies of Beethoven and Bach. Zoology is on the horizon for next year. There are so many things that we can do to support our studies. But one thing seems to be blossoming right before our eyes.

It first started on our Pioneer Road Trip late last summer when Sweet Debra brought up her desire for our next homeschool trip. She mentioned really wanting to take her kids to Chicago. I thought it was a lovely idea but I was not sure how it would fit into our upcoming studies. I realize now that she planted the seed and the seed had time to begin to sprout. Sprout it did. As I was looking into some museum ideas and things to support our current and near future studies I stumbled upon the Chicago City Pass. Wow… our family of five can visit five different city attractions in Chicago! Now here is where it gets really good… the Museum of Science and Industry has an incredible exhibit called You! The Experience. This is a perfect way for our kids to sum up all that they have learned about the human body including movement, the mind, the heart, digestion and more. Then there is the Adler Planetarium where we can further review our astronomy studies.

Image result for chicago city pass

There is more. Since next year’s studies include zoology, what a great way to study animals than from the inside out? Just a few hours from Chicago at the Milwaukee Zoo, there is currently a Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out exhibit.

And it just keeps getting better. Really, it does. There is the possibility of an Amtrak train ride, oh how we have loved the train. The City Pass also includes the Sky Deck at the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), what an awesome opportunity to visit such a historic building. I can not avoid mentioning the Chicago Dogs. Yes, Chicago Dogs… what can be better than that?

It is still merely an idea, a dream. Actually, it is brewing… and you know what that means, right? I guess I am going to have to remind Handsome that the Ghosts in the Darkness lions are at The Field Museum which just happens to be a part of the City Pass. I know that seeing these lions are somewhat on his bucket list, is that a low blow?

We will see how things develop and I’ll tell you all about the trip! (wink, wink)

More Here to Help Learning

***Please note*** although I have reviewed Here to Help Learning over a year ago, this post is not in any way a solicited post nor am I being compensated in any way. This is a post of our current experiences that I am eager to share.

We have been on the Here to Help Learning bandwagon for over a year now and continue to sing its praises!

After experiencing tremendous improvement in the kid’s writing, we decided to take it a step further. Here to Help Learning has a fabulous writing project as their crowning achievement of sorts. For those that are not yet familiar with the program, there are six years of writing instruction (and more) packed into a wonderful $6.99 monthly subscription.

The Essay Writing Flight (Level) 3 is a Write a Book Project. Over the course of nearly a full school year, the students are taken on a journey in which they develop and write their very own six chapter book. I was hesitant at first to take on such a challenge, but since my kids have had such great experience with Here to Help Learning overall, I decided to go for it.

I gathered up the ladies in our art co-op and asked if they would be interested in having their two older students participate as well. I was so thrilled that they wanted to join us, making our writing class a class of six students!

We have been meeting together one to two times a week and are currently almost 1/4 of the way through the program. These kids are phenomenal. I have enjoyed being a part of this experience and watching each of the kids develop their ideas for their book. We have just completed the planning lessons and soon they will begin their actual book writing.

I can not wait to share with you their successes and the final books when they are done. I’ll keep you all posted!

Homeschool Kitchen – Part 1

We finally did it. We have talked about it and talked about it, maybe even dreamed a bit about it. Now we finally did it.

Our homeschool art co-op did something different this last week. We gathered together to use up the 40 pounds of potatoes we had and we started what will become a monthly meal prepping class for the kids.

At first we talked about all of the wonderful things that happens when things are prepared and ready to go and how the monthly meal prep is such a fabulous idea. Then we all had a deer in the headlights moment when we realized that we all have deep freezers full of wonderful stuff that you tend to buy when you live rurally and even decide to buy 1/4 cow, or even 1/2. That’s without even mentioning the chickens, rabbit, elk and any other meat that seems to be stashed away in there. This is not a bad thing. It’s a great thing. Unfortunately, we do not want to thaw meat to assemble it into incredibly prepared monthly meals that will go right back into the freezer.

This realization led to us brainstorming about other freezer meal prep ideas that we could do instead and that would make sense for our limited grocery-store-lives. We came up with a lot of options. First off, we can do anything ground beef as that needs to be precooked for freezer meals. We can also do all sorts of burritos, egg rolls and of course just about any kin d of breakfast casserole we could imagine.

That is what we settled on. This time, the kids made breakfast casseroles.

What fun we all had! We spent the better part of the day reinforcing kitchen safety tips and teaching the kiddos basic knife skills as they all had very sharp knives. I do not recall the last time that 30 pounds of potatoes were chopped into cubes without me having to wash or cut any. Well, I guess I did cut the first one to demonstrate, but that was it. As a matter of fact, none of us adults did much of anything other than handle the potato par boiling and set up the buffet style casserole workstation.

Fortunately, we all have chickens and are nearly swimming in excess eggs. The kiddos greased up their pans, filled them with potatoes, sausage or chorizo, bell peppers, mushrooms and green chiles. They then carefully cracked eggs. Then they cracked open more eggs. And then more. They cracked open over twelve dozen eggs! Lastly, the casseroles were topped with lots and lots of cheese, because cheese makes everything better.

Us moms had to get involved at the end to ensure everything was wrapped as securely as possible.

In the end, twelve breakfast casseroles were made that day. Each family had one for the following Sunday and three to put into the freezer for another day. The kids had a great time. The moms enjoyed visiting and helping orchestrate things.

Breakfast the following day was fantastic! I’d call it a successful day for sure!

We are looking forward to the next cooking adventure… burritos?

Family Read Aloud Time

It started a couple of years ago as a result of wanting to share a fun story with the kids. I guess I could really say that it started nearly a quarter century ago with my oldest child and our read aloud times, but snuggling up and reading a children’s book is not quite the same. No, definitely not the same.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/bf/b0/0e/bfb00ebbc8f9dfec41689be6c76d6451.jpgWe have journeyed to many far away places as well as places of long ago. We have witnessed romance during a time when a simple glance was considered highly romantic and when hearts pounded within one’s chest simply at the thought of receiving a letter from the one that they love. We have experienced true toil, the physically demanding labor of centuries ago – before modern technologies. We have been through battles, high seas, and horse drawn carriage rides. We have even walked alongside Jesus. Yes, we have experienced a lot in these last couple of years in our read aloud time.

Our children (11, 8 and 6) have had no difficulties in keeping up with the stories that we have read. Although the language is oftentimes different, teaching us unfamiliar words, we have established friendships with those that have lived before us.

It has been a highly beneficial experience for us all. Lives have been vastly different through the ages and what a tragedy to only know the life that we live in today.

Even in the most tired of times when I can hardly shuffle to their bedrooms to tuck them all in, one will most certainly remind me that I need to read just one chapter. Suddenly the energy surges among us all as we jump back in and walk alongside our new acquaintances and almost inevitably, one chapter turns into two, sometimes three or more.

There is nothing that can replace this family time that we share. It is unlike anything else. Sure, we can take in a marvelous movie and talk about it for days, but rarely does a movie lead us to feel as though we are living in that time. Rarely, with a movie, do we ponder the current upheaval of the story and wonder how our friends are going to make it through. Rarely do we walk away from a movie and apply the life lessons to our own daily lives. I wonder if it is because a movie is typically over in the blink of an eye and a several hundred page novel from a century ago takes us hours to walk through.

If you have not incorporated reading aloud time with your family, try it. Grab a simple story and purpose to read it through. You will be amazed at what transpires in your family time and the life lessons your children will take hold of without you ever having to tell them to.

Read, read, and read some more.