Friday, November 22, 2013


You are a recent widow that is suddenly faced with an opportunity to stay in the land in which you were raised (and married) or follow your mother-in-law into a new land, with different customs and a different religion. What do you do?

If you are Ruth, you courageously say, "Where you go, I will go and where you stay, I will stay."

Z and I studied Ruth this week.
We talked about who a "mother-in-law" is, family in general, and what family members can do to show they love one another. Z quickly ran over to his sister, who was working independently on her spelling at the time, and immediately gave her a hug to "show her that he loved her." We talked about obeying mommy and daddy in love, and also different acts of service we could do for other people outside of our family.

I snagged some dried wheat stalks (random, but I actually have some on display on a bathroom shelf) as we talked about Ruth going and picking wheat for her and Naomi. They were able to eat with this key ingredient being supplied by a man named Boaz. Then we pulled the wheat apart and dropped pieces into a container full of water. Why water? I don't know! Everything's just better with water, lol. But, it did lead us to talk about whether they float or sink and why they float, etc. A little impromptu science/math lesson in there?

Studying Ruth, Naomi, and then later Boaz made me think of a quote that I read from Corrie Ten Boom:
Every experience God gives us,
every person He puts in our lives,
is the perfect preparation
for the future that only He can see.
God wrote Boaz into the ladies' story. In my life, I can look back to see how God writes different people in and out of my story, and see the part they play in different situations. He is truly a personal, caring God.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

thankful chain

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing;
in everything give thanks;
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
There are so many great ideas out there regarding ways to intentionally count your blessings for Thanksgiving. Ann Voskamp offers a free printable for her "giving tree." Charlene Haugsven offers an idea on a simple preschool thumbprint tree idea. I deviated a bit from the tree idea, but went with a thankful chain of sorts.

I decided to incorporate it into my mantle. I switch around my mantle at least once a month. I rarely buy new things, just simply use things I have on hand in different ways and displays. I joke that it's the safest thing to redecorate and move around. If I had my way, I'd rearrange the rooms in my house at least a handful of times per year but my husband is not so quick to agree (thank you for being so patient with my spontaneous reorganizing-ness [-mess!], babe!). 

So, every couple of days or so, the whole family is writing down something/someone they are thankful for. My daughter and son will draw pictures of things, as an alternative to writing. We've even had a guest come over and add a tag to our chain.

I'd like to cultivate this spirit of thanksgiving in my home year-round. It's when we are focused not on self, but looking outside of ourselves, that we can be content with our lives. Ann Voskamp says, " change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change."

How do you incorporate thankfulness as a part of your family's daily life?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


How far we fall and how desperate we are for that saving grace God lavishes upon us. 
I don't have to look far (i.e. in the mirror) to see the ways humans stumble through life, making wrong choices and getting back up and pushing forward, sometimes even oblivious to it all. Samson shows us another such example. 
Getting caught in the snare of sin, this oh-so-human Bible character, still winds up being used by God to accomplish one of His end purposes: destruction of more of the Philistine population. Samson's story concludes with a simple statement: "Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived" (Judges 16:30). 
Had Samson not gotten caught up with Delilah and her lies, I wonder if this statement might have read differently. God gives us free will, so I don't want to get caught up in that sticky argument, but I also know that God accomplished His plan while using Samson, bad decisions and all. However, I wonder if Samson missed out on some of the joy he could have had, if he had walked with God during that time in his life. No doubt, the Philistines would have been conquered, but I wonder if it would have turned out differently. Samson missed out on that close fellowship with God while he was ahem, messing around with Delilah. 
How often do I get caught up in my own agenda, when I am missing the sweet walk I could be having with Him?   

Now for the 4yo version of looking into Samson's story... 

For preschool we learned about the strength God gave Samson and even tested our own strength as we put a variety of objects in order from lightest to heaviest. 

Then we, with big sister's help, created our own Philistine temple with pillars. We learned that despite Samson making bad choices and turning away from God, God was merciful and gave Samson one last act of strength. Z put his hands inside the pillars and knocked over the temple, just like Samson did. God has a plan for each of our lives, and His plan included using Samson to destroy these Philistines. How exciting it is to think about the things God will help us accomplish, especially if we believe in Him and trust Him.

We finished up the day with a letter "I i" activity (courtesy of COAH).

What do you think about Samson? An story of God's amazing mercy or simple another story?

Monday, November 18, 2013


There's a new student at Covington Academy today! 
Meet Skylar, the sky-blue betta. 

So far Skylar has become accomplished at swimming, making a fish face, and showing off his flowy blue tail.  :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


You are thirsty and want a drink. You see a fresh spring ahead of you. You kneel down and reach towards the water. Do you use your hands to cup the water or simply put your face into the water and lap up some of the cool, refreshing liquid?

Your answer will be an already-calculated move on God's part, to weed out the soldiers that won't play a part in this portion of Gideon's story.

God was about to make Himself so real to Gideon (and the dwindling army of Israelites). Gideon and his soldiers were unbelievably outnumbered by the time God whittled down the number of soldiers through several situations. This victory would not be because of man's strength, but because of God's control. Good lesson to remember, that in spite of our limitations or the seemingly lack of hope within a situation, nothing is impossible for God.

For our preschool lesson, we drank water from our hands, pretending we were down by the spring. It wasn't as easy at it sounded, for my newly-4 year old!

We then followed the suggested Bible Activity with Little Hands to Heaven in which I gave Z instructions on what to draw where (good practice with colors, left/right, and just general following directions). He then circled the answer to whether God used the men that drank with their faces in the water (the face) or drank from their hands (his traced hand) (good practice on story comprehension!).

This Unit's letter is "I i" so we got out our new magnetic letters to find the upper and lowercase i's and play with all the other letters as well! (Educational birthday presents are the best! Thank you to a super cool aunt!)

It was a fun morning. Z sped through and was eager to jump into preschool this morning. After a long weekend away, it was an answer to prayer to settle back into our routine.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

falling, falling, falling

One of the best things of fall is the brilliant display of color that bursts from the trees. One of the worst things about fall is when those leaves fall to the ground and need raking! However, this year, my husband made a deal with my daughter to pay her for raking. I have never seen her so eager to help with this outside chore! On three occasions, she has headed outside to go rake of her own initiative. She has also talked her brother into helping her each time, but he usually gets distracted and wanders off, in search of something a little less like work. Whether its the chore of raking or just playtime, it's been such a great fall to be outside. We enjoy taking our school outside too. Reading history from our hammocks or just some "run around" PE time is a welcome break from the kitchen table!  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day


Working on something a little different today, in honor of Veteran's Day. I searched through Pinterest and found a few great ideas. No freebie printables were available, so I just went ahead and created my no-frills version of one that I found. I thought I'd go ahead and share, but with full disclosure that the original idea was not created by me. If you scroll to the last page of the document, you will see where I have sited my sources and even an additional source idea($) to add to it. Now this was typed up quickly and I don't claim any graphical designs skills, like my online friend Dawn with Our Little Monkies preschool printables. ;) You might have to fudge a little on the cutting/lines to get the sections to line up, but mine came out like this:

It's pretty simple. You can make it as involved or uncomplicated as you'd like... beef it up by requiring your student to research the answers and write full paragraphs or just use it to practice penmanship by providing the answers yourself. I appreciate the sacrifices our military families make and want my kids to stop and think about what is required to have the freedoms we enjoy.

We will actually be spending Veteran's Day with my father in law who is a veteran himself. I hope to also have my daughter interview her grandfather with a few pre-thought out questions as well!

What do you do on Veteran's Day? Do you hold school or take the day off? Do you celebrate it?

Friday, November 8, 2013

yummy Jericho walls

Sticky peanut buttery fingers, crumbly ritz crackers, and eye-hand coordination practice. We finally finished up Unit 10 and our study of the city of Jericho!

We discussed how God used Rahab to assist the group of Israelite spies - these men specifically coming in to check out the city. It's "funny" to me that these men came into the city, God prompted Rahab to hide them and send them back out safely, and then God had the walls fall down without any force of the troops whatsoever anyways. Maybe these men could better appreciate the power of God (& experienced greater gratitude for the easy entrance) after seeing just how hard the city would be to penetrate?

Here are our "Jerichos," the first being L's (she wanted a stronger, more solid built wall) and the second being Z's (with a little help from me sticking them upright together, for a taller wall). 

Super delicious and easy clean up after this one! ;)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sonlight and books, books, books!

It's no secret that the Sonlight curriculum uses a lot of books. After all, I bought a bookshelf just to house this year's books that we are reading! Since I saved a good amount of money (I spent time vs money, lol) purchasing all of our Core D books separately, piecing my own used set together along with an instructor's guide that I bought used, I have been on the lookout for books for future Core books (both lower grades for Z and upper grades for L). We have a few used bookstores in town, but I'm never very good at picking out the titles I need in the shelves and shelves of books (even though they are categorized by author's last name initial). Last month, the local senior center had a book sale with considerably less books (although still a bunch!). I did much better flipping through the stacks of children's books, being able to see covers and scored these all for 25 to 50 cents apiece! 

Sonlight was one of the changes we made to our curriculum this year (for our history). It has been a tremendous amount of fun while learning. My daughter (and I) both enjoy reading, so it's been a natural thing to see history to come alive at the hand of an author's historical fiction writing.  My daughter herself says she now enjoys history, using Sonlight, as "It's not boring!" I appreciate that they do balance out the fiction with nonfiction sources. L has a few "textbooky" books to read and work through synonymously with the fiction ones. While it is neat to see a textbook character come to life, we do have to be careful about memorizing fiction over fact. To balance that out, we will discuss what the character is doing and how that agrees/disagrees with the known historical accounts from that time period. My daughter's only complaint has been how many books there are for one particular person or people group. She quickly tired of the number of books she had to read about Benjamin Franklin, however as the teacher, I felt like Sonlight did a good job selecting books that talked about different aspects of his life. She just didn't find him particularly interesting :)

Something that Sonlight builds into their curriculum schedule is read aloud books. I have never been faithful to read through a chapter book with my children. We have always read/are always reading shorter books aloud together, ones that are finished in one sitting. Sonlight has opened our world to reading chapter books aloud by writing them into the curriculum. That is one thing that I have really enjoyed, as well as my children!

Do you read chapter books aloud to your children? What are some of your family's favorites?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

watch your step!

In the middle of typing a newsletter for a MOMS group that I am a part of yesterday afternoon, I hear a "Go!" shouted in the living room behind me. The kids were having their after lunch playtime together before we started up afternoon school (and quiet hour for my son). I turn around to this site behind me:

L had strung up an obstacle course for Z and he was ducking under the "lasers" and avoiding the "bombs" strewn all over the floor.

Success for Agent Z!