4 Weeks in, We’re Making a Change

I have been working all day to get two videos posted.  It is now 8:14pm and the first one posted about a half hour ago.  My goodness!  I need: a) a better connection.  b) updated camera.  or c) BOTH.  Well need is really not the word.  I should have said what would make this task easier and then have given the choices.  Either way you get what I mean.

So, what were the videos about?  Thanks for asking.  The first one was about school that we have started with Peyton.  It’s very low key but super fun for he and the little boy his age that I keep during the day. 

Last week I made tracing sheets by printing out their names and covering them with contact paper.  When used with Expo markers they can be used over and over again.  This is good for them to see their own name in print frequently as well as gives them the chance to trace the letters.  Fine motor skills is covered here, too!   We worked with an Expo sheet with an A on it also.  First I had them color IN the A, then OUTSIDE of the A, then UNDER the A, etc.  Great listening skills test and more chances to see the letter A.  We colored with red markers that week. 

This week we used blue markers, crayons and colored pencils. Letter B was our focus along with family.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to the family tree activity but we did color in a B with blue and then used glue sticks to glue pictures from a magazine that we looked through together to find things with the B sound.  They had a GREAT time doing that!  See the video below to see Peyton’s B Collage Video.

As for the big boys.  We started this year using Prairie Primer, a literature unit study on the Little House series.  We are now 4 weeks in to our studies and we have all really enjoyed our time in the book.  Each day we read a chapter from one of the Little House books (they are read in sequence) and answer review questions on what we read.  Based on what was in the chapter, we would study those topics further.  For example, we studied gun safety and the history of firearms because Pa was cleaning his gun and had hunted in one of the first chapters.  Our science, history, home living and creative writing all were based off of that.  The next day, we’d read another chapter and we’d have new topics to study.  It really was fun.  We got to cook and explore things we wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise.  However I didn’t feel like it went in depth enough, there wasn’t much of a chance for the boys to get solid knowledge over a period of time.  Every day we learned something new which was great but that was also a “con” in my book. 

Where do we go from here?  Josh and I decided that we would keep with a unit study curriculum but we’d use one that was based on a different book.  The Bible!  Weaver is the name of it and from my point of view it’s pretty awesome!  Each chapter of each unit is a portion of scripture.  We will then study our core subjects off of that story.  For example, our first chapter deals with the city of Babylon when the tower was built.  When Noah stepped off of the arc, God gave them one main command.  They were told to be fruitful and multiply and fill the land.  The problem came when they  decided to build a town with walls and stick together as a people instead of filling the earth.  Our social studies for that chapter deals with the formation of a city: streets, government, zoning, etc.  Our science will be on geology because they build walls of stone, gems and bricks made by hand.  Our literature, creative writing and such will all be related in some way, too.  I am really excited to get started on this adventure Monday.  Weaver has been around since the 80’s.  It is tried and true.  I pray we are making a decision for the better.  I pray this is the consistency and structure we are looking for. 

Anyway the second video I was loading was talking about this change and has the boys giving an oral report of their Louis Pasteur research paper.  They did so good, I think.  I am very proud of them, considering they had 5 days to research, write a rough draft, edit it and make a final copy.

The rest of the week we spent wrapping up loose ends from Prairie Primer so I could get the last grades from that in the grade book.  We will be completely done with that curriculum and will be able to devote full attention to Weaver.  They finished up a comparison study on bees vs yellow jackets and a nutrition study on the food pyramid.  They compared meals we ate with the recommended daily values and decided we basically eat the worst diet known to man.  We’ll work on that.

THANKS for reading.  I miss you all who are far from us.  Stay up to date with school and India by subscribing!


PS: Would you rather read a blog or watch a vlog (video blog)?


Clay Beads of Knowledge in the Big Woods

So week two is supposed to be wrapping up today but unfortunately and fortunately we had to take some detours in our schooling this week.  That’s ok, it just means we will school Saturday, also.  No big deal.  That’s another beauty of home education.

So Monday, we picked up our Little House in the Big Woods book at chapter 5.  That chapter talks about the difference between today’s practice of a Sunday Sabbath and how it was practiced back in the late 1800’s.  There’s definitely a big difference, especially where kids are concerned.  We spent time learning how to use a dictionary.  That seems maybe a bit easy, but they didn’t know what the following were, or maybe I should say they couldn’t point it out where to find these in the dictionary on any given word.  Let’s be fair, they could point out some but not all of them.

Guide words, entry words, forms of the word, dictionary respelling, parts of speech, definition and example sentence.

We practiced cause and effect scenarios based on one of the stories Pa told about his grandfather as a boy.  He got in trouble on a Sunday for taking his freshly made sled for a ride while his father was sleeping in the living room.  There were definitely effects the next day, for sure!

They were also asked to make a comic strip of the sledding event to practice recalling a story in sequence.

In our bible lesson, we talked about mercy.  During that activity the boys picked one form of poetry to explain the word.  We were also challenged to memorize Psalm 91 throughout the Big Woods book.  Today we memorized Psalm 91:1.

  • The person who rests in the shadow of the Most High GOd
    will be kept safe by the Might One.

We are going to recite what we have memorized each time we sit down to eat, before we pray.  That gives us three times to say it together.  They will have all the rest of the day to practice it on their own.

Along with the poem, we did another writing activity which involved the boys thinking about their favorite memory with one of their grandparents.  The did a sequence of events paper on what happened first, second, third, etc and then rewrote the event in paragraph form. We took that paragraph and used our proofreading skills to make sure everything looked like it was supposed to, then they turned it into a letter to the grandparent in the paragraph.  Included in the letter was their poem on mercy.  Now that I think about it, Gage still has to finish his.  Once he does, we will get those sent out in the mail.  Papa Lanny and Great Grandma Neva should be on the lookout for a special delivery next week.

As always the boys finished up their math for the day.

On Tuesday, we got started late and spent the next three days getting caught up on our core studies.  Throughout the day, Josh and I were working on fundraising donations for our India Mission Trip.  The boys were able to work on their independent work while we were doing that like math and silent reading, but they we didn’t get EVERYTHING done.  At the end of the day I was so overwhelmed by God’s provision that we simply rested the rest of the day.  We did manage to read chapters 6 and part of 7 as well as a few other things though.  We practiced our dictionary skills again and completed the review questions for the parts of the chapters we finished.

We did a demonstration experiment on how trees “drink” from the water in the ground.  First we took a soda of Gage’s choice (Fresca) and poured it into a glass.  I gave him one straw and asked him to drink some.  He did it with ease.  Over the course of the next 20 minutes we taped one straw at a time to the end of the previous straw.  He tried to take a drink again after each straw was added.  He found that as the straw got longer, it was harder to get any drink out of the straw.  We talked about how when a tree gets older and taller, it requires more fluids and more effort from the tree to get it’s nutrients up to the tip top of the tree to it’s leaves.

We talked about to composition of sap, what sap is and does for the tree, what “snow sugar” is, and how one goes about harvesting sap to make maple syrup.  We talked about osmosis also through an experiment with a potato.  It showed how vital the water in the ground is to a big tree and it’s ability to get that sap all the way up through the tree.  Here’s how we did it:

They each skinned a potato, cut it in half and then cut the rounded ends off also.  Next, they took a spoon and made a crater in each one.

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In both sides of their potatoes, colored water was put in to about the half way mark.  Gage used green Jackson used blue.


Jackson’s potatoes in the 1/2 inch of water.

Haha I just realized those are the same colors they used for their frosting last week!  In one of each of their halves, they put 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.  Both pieces were put in a bowl with 1/2 inch of water then covered.  When we checked Gage’s the next day,  the side with the sugar had filled itself up while the other one was basically the same as we left it the day before.


Jackson did his at another time so it will need to be checked Saturday afternoon.

Because the maple trees can grow up to 150 feet tall, the sap inside helps to get the water up to the very top of the tree.  They were able to see that happen and understood the concept much better than when I just tried to explain it.

We had gone to Wal-Mart Wednesday morning to get paint supplies for a project and then fundraising called again.  We spent a couple of hours at a friend’s house taking pictures of items we  were given to  sell online. When we got home it was lunch time.  The boys did their independent work and that was about it.

Thursday we woke up early and went to the parsonage at the church to pick pears.  My friend, Jennifer, went with us.  She and Jackson were up in the tree so we could get some bigger pears up high.  I think they did a great job!IMG_20140807_090047_351

We gathered enough to make two quarts of pear sauce and a pan of baked pears.

pear collage

Oh my goodness our house smelled amazing.  I think we are going to go to Josh’s family’s land about 20 minutes away to pick some more this weekend.  I want to make cinnamon pears like we used to get at school, does anyone remember those?  With the Red Hots in them?  Mmmm!

When I got home, we blended art and English.  Last week you might remember we talked about using strong descriptive words to paint a picture of a scene in your reader’s mind.  Well this week, we took a passage off of page 117 in the Big Woods book where Laura is describing her father.  You could get a sense for how she felt about him and how he looked because of the words she used.  We studied composition painting and the making of Whistler’s Mother or as the artist James McNeill Whistler named it, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1.

We found out that, first, he came up with the emotion and idea that he wanted to convey and then created the painting around those ideas.  We talked about how color and the angle of the objects in a piece convey different things.  The all famous Mona Lisa is a painting which is said to be a close comparison on how realistic and “photo-like” they are.  The interesting thing with that is that the artist of Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 is an American born artist.  It is said that he is one of  the few American artists who has gotten that kind of notoriety.   Upon further study, we found out that this painting was completed in the same time period as the book we are reading, 1871.

Gage and Jackson were to close their eyes and think about their dad.  After a few minutes they wrote down three words each that described Josh.  With each of those words, they were asked to write a descriptive sentence describing him during a time he displayed the trait they wrote down.  They used that exercise as a spring board to start sketching out their portrait of their dad.  Then they were able to get the paints out and go to town.

Jackson sketching, Jackson starting to paint.

Gage sketching, Jackson starting to paint.

Jackson's is on the left, Gage's on the right.

Jackson’s is on the left, Gage’s on the right.


We talked about what the colors they picked might make people feel or think about him.  The finished up their pieces on Friday explaining why they did what they did in their piece of art.

He didn't want to be left out!  I got the watercolors out for him!

He didn’t want to be left out! I got the watercolors out for him!

On Friday, they spent time doing their independent work. I  guess I haven’t explained what they are reading for their silent reading.  It’s hard to find books on Jackson’s reading level, because he is so advanced, that are appropriate for him.  Right now he is reading Happy Happy Happy Phil Robertson.  He started to read it one other time but never finished.  That book will meet the requirement for his reading log.  Gage is reading book one of the Sugar Creek Gag called The Killer Bear by Paul Hutchens.

At 1:00, Josh took both boys to Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park for a program on tracking.  Originally, I thought they were going to be going out to the trails to try to find and identify the tracks, however it ended up being an inside program.  I was bummed but Josh seemed to be impressed.  Each participant was given the chance to pick an animal print they wanted to make.  Gage picked a mountain lion, or as he remembered from last year it’s also called a cougar and Jackson picked a beaver.


Jackson’s print is on the left, Gage’s is on the right.

The park ranger in charge of the program gave each of them a huge chunk of clay to press the paw print into.  Then they poured Plaster of Paris into the created print.  Instructions were given for them to wait a day before removing the print from the mold. They will be pulled out  of the clay tomorrow!

The last thing we did was to use real maple syrup on pancakes for dinner!


We were supposed to make Hasty Pudding this week too, but I only have cornmeal mix, not pure cornmeal so I wasn’t sure if it would turn out.  As to not waste ingredients, I opted out of that project.  No worries.  We will probably get to make it another time.

Saturday we went to back to Old Stone Fort Archeological Park and participated in their clay bead making workshop. The lady who is in charge of these programs for kids had to go home earlier in the day due to being sick so the ranger on duty got the supplies out for us and let us do our own thing.  There was a second part of the workshop two hours later where we could paint the beads that we made.  Unfortunately Peyton was past his naptime and wasn’t making the workshop enjoyable for those attending so we opted to take our beads home to paint them in our spare time.

Thanks for checking in on our second week of school.  My collage maker online isn’t working very well.  Sorry for the gaps in pictures.  I hope you enjoyed being a fly on the wall.  I hope you have a great week!



Couldn’t be On a Mission without God

Today is Tuesday, August 5th.  I am sitting in my living room thinking over the last few days as my head feels like a balloon stretched to it’s limits, eyes tight and tired from crying for the last few hours.  I cannot believe all that has transpired.  You all might remember the post I put up about how God provided for our first deadline payment for our India trip back in June.  That situation was such a testimony for me and so many others around me and my family.  If I’m completely honest, this situation is engrained in my brain and soul, but it’s crazy how quickly my emotions can come in and cloud how amazing God provides.

Let’s start with Sunday morning.  I get up and go to church a little behind schedule and without my full attention on where and what I was about to go and do.  The kids were going in ever direction but out the door, one of them didn’t have clean clothes to wear.  I was flustered at best. We finally arrive late and settle into our Sunday school classes where I was preoccupied but the fact that we had exactly one week left to pay our next payment for our India mission trip.  OH I guess I forgot to say we were $600 short. We owe $1,000 a week from that point and we were $600 short.  I didn’t speak much during class because of my preoccupied state until I walked out of our classroom and paused a second when a fellow India mission team member walked up.  She could tell something was wrong and I started to well up with tears.  As we met eye contact, I said, “I don’t think we are going to make our next deposit.”  With that the tears began to fall.  It was made clear that we were only allowed to be slightly off at each payment point or we would have to reassess if we thought we would be able to go on the trip or not.  Us not having the whole amount meant we would potentially not be able to go on the trip at all in December.

Before service started I prayed and asked God to help me refocus so I could hear Him through the sermon.  I am not sure what the sermon was supposed to be about but this is what I got out of it.  Moses was born in less than favorable circumstances, could have lost his life, but God knew, and probably planned the whole terrible situation of the Hebrew babies being thrown into the river so that one day a little Hebrew boy would be “rescued” from the river by a princess.  He would then be taken back to his birth mother to be raised for the first 3 years of his life and then be raised by the princess as royalty.  His birth mom didn’t understand why, possibly, Moses didn’t know why.  The princess didn’t even know the real reason she was raising him.  God fostered a love and a pulling for the “underdog” in Moses the whole time he was growing up.  That lead him to defend a fellow Hebrew against an Egyptian.  That also lead to him being out in the wilderness and eventually being in a position to defend another underdog…his soon-to-be wife.  Then God calls him by a burning bush to once again, go defend the Hebrews…this time from a much more powerful Egyptian, the Pharaoh.  If he hadn’t had the life experiences and processes that he did, being found and raised by a princess and living in the royal courts, could he have just walked into Pharaoh and had a captive audience?  Yeah, no I don’t think so.  All of his life experiences were for a reason.

That got met thinking about my own life.  I was molested as a little girl (11ish).  As a woman God broke my heart for the women in the adult industry.  One of the reasons he was able to do that was because I could relate with the abuse they went through at one time.  It is said that 98% of adult industry workers were at very least molested if not sexually assaulted at sometime during their lives, usually by a close friend of the family or family member.  Ba-da-bing!  Guess what I can relate!  I felt an overwhelming compassion for the women and forgave them for the hurt that “they” had caused me in my life.  Had my parents never divorced, had a new person not come into the family dynamics, had I not been abused, had that person not gotten chosen over me by my own birthmother… I may not have been able to fully relate.  Then as an adult I became friends with a woman for “unexplained reasons” couldn’t have her own children.  As a result she adopted two beautiful children internationally.  For the first time, I got to see first hand the heartache and devastation of having to wait for a referral, the process of getting an NOC and travel approval.  My heart hurt with joy when I got to experience all of those things being completed.  The overwhelming elation as the family left to go bring home their child from a foreign country, one of which she and her husband had never been before.  And the peace once their feet were on USA soil.    I felt like I had just birthed that child through my heart and she wasn’t even mine.  The prayers and heartache I felt for her before she was home…my goodness.  My perspective of adoption and orphans was never the same after that.  Was it any wonder I had gone through all of that?  God has shown me time and again it’s because he was preparing me, just like he had Moses, for our calling in life.  I am go to serve these very people.  The abused and orphaned.

Fast-forward to Monday.  I woke up feeling still a bit heavy.  The sermon was good.  I did feel like God communicated with me, but not the way I felt I needed to be communicated with (after all I know best, right?).  I decided to fast and pray and ask God how in the world I was going to be able to pay for our next payment for our trip.  One thing was made clear, I was being called to India and that’s all good and fine.  But without the money to pay for the next payment, my toes and rear were not going to be on the plane to India, they were going to be on my couch and in the carpet of my living room.  I wasn’t going anywhere.  See these are my thoughts most of the day.  So I put on a sermon from the pastor at World Outreach Church and guess what that sermon was on.  Not Moses, but Noah.  About his life….leading up to his calling.  How God prepared him for a purpose.  That his life was such that he was prepared for the “job” he was meant to do.  *sigh*  I’m thinking, “God, I got that from Pastor Scott yesterday!  I already know I’m called. T hat’s NOT what I’m asking! I need to know how I’m going to pay for this upcoming payment….like 6 days from now.  Could you answer that one please?”   Dinnertime came and I retreated to my bedroom for what I thought was going to be quiet time, but my phone rang instead.  I almost didn’t answer it but I decided to because it was my friend, Kelly.  She asked if I was going to be starting back up with 50 Cent Auctions on Facebook again.  I told her that I had, in fact, started listing that morning.  There were items donated to she and her husband to sell on there but they had made the decision that they weren’t going to continue selling items for fundraising purposes.  Folks it is a LOT of work…I don’t even remotely blame her.  I took two weeks off for the same reason.  I was overwhelmed with everything too!  Apparently, it’s a whole garage floor worth of things to sell.  I accepted the gift of things to sell and hung up the phone.  As I sat there praying over the day and thinking about the conversation I had just had with Kelly, it  hit me.

God had been telling me while I was worrying about the payment that He had called me to this mission trip and beyond this mission trip where India was concerned.  Never in the bible had he called someone to a great work and left them to figure it out on their own.  He gave them step by step instructions about how to carry it out.  Afterall, his reputation is on the line.  The bible says that he will see his word to fruition, because he never lies.  It is impossible for him to go against who he is.  If he had called me to this, he is going to see to it that I have what I need to see his calling through.  Yes…that includes providing financially.  He isn’t stupid.  He didn’t miss something.  He was telling me, “Chill out woman!  I’ve got this!  Just give me a second, sheesh!”

I could end this blog post right here and it would be pretty amazing.  I pray for financial provisions, he gives me things to sell.  End of story.  WRONG.

Later that evening, Josh called a man in our church who agreed to smoke Boston butts for us for a fundraiser.  We had spent part of the day calling around getting prices and making arrangements for it, we just had to finalize details.  Once that was done, we drafted a flyer and put it on the beloved communication highway…facebook.  Within an hour we had 4 orders.  I was feeling pretty good and was reminded once again…”I will give you what you need to see my calling through!”  Then I click off of facebook to do something else and when I got back, the administrator for the 50 cent auction group had posted my upcoming Bunco event on our main communications message board inviting people to join us.  See I was 7 people short of being able to play.  I was totally shocked.  Then I get a text from a friend asking for 5 (FIVE) headbands that I’ve been making to sell for trip funds.  She ended up going with two and will be looking at other jewelry later, but there’s another bit of money that will be coming in.  She also agreed to find a date to have a trunk show at her house with all of my handmade paper bead jewelry!  I went to bed feeling much better.  Within a few hours, God had given us $160 through all of those fundraisers.

That brings us to today.  August 5th, 2014.  I woke up feeling energized and relaxed for the most part.  I knew I needed to finish up getting some donations in for Bunco prizes, a flyer needed hung and Starbucks for my cloth diapering seminar and a CD of piano music needed delivered to a friend.  Can I just say God gave us MAJOR favor today.  Listen to this:

  • A local nail salon donated a $25 gift certificate to be used on the spot, no questions asked.  I have it in hand.
  • We were able to pick up a certificate for a 30 minute massage which had been promised a couple of weeks ago.  I have it in hand.
  • Josh talked to several other business who are meeting with the powers that be on donations.  I will follow up with them soon.
  • He also went by a local drive-in called Jiffy Burger.  Apparently India is a soft spot in their hearts so they said they’d talk about how to support us and allowed Josh to put up two flyers about my Bunco night on their business doors!!  Sweet!

At this point he had to come home to get more flyers.  It was so exciting to me, to see him excited about handing out flyers.  It was such a big help to me because I had to be at home with the boys doing school.  He was amazing today.  God blessed me so much just by allowing me watch my husband serve today.  It really blew me away.  Then he went back out to hand out the newly printed flyers.

His last stop was at a friend of the family’s place of business.  He was sharing with John about our trip and the calling God has placed on our lives.  He was requesting an oil change certificate or something of the such.  There was a woman standing in the lobby during this time but left at some point during the conversation.  Josh finished up with John and then went to go get in his truck and as he did the woman from the lobby approached him.  She asked him to repeat the story he had just told John and he did.  She explained that she was new to town and had been looking for a church home.  She tried one church in town but didn’t feel comfortable there so she tried on in a town about a half an hour away.  She liked it ok but people at that church, whom were involved with a Christian biking association suggested that she try Trinity here in town.  They told her there were people at that church who also belonged to the biking group and they though she might enjoy that church.  When she heard my husband say he was from Trinity, she was intrigued and wanted to know more about this trip he was going on.  She asked if she could help him with funds by writing a check.  She asked who to make it out to, Josh said Trinity.  As she handed the check over to him he could hardly believe it.  He said all he could say was thank you.  The check, folks, was for $500!  

As he got into the car and started to drive away, he called me and said, “You are NOT going to believe what just happened.  A stranger just handed me a check for $500…”  I was so confused.  I questioned what he said and he repeated it but said he couldn’t talk.  He was taking it right to church to turn in and that he would call me back with the details later.  I hung up the phone and for three hours I felt like a weeping willow tree.  I just could hardly stand on my own two feet.  I could barely talk.  I was so overwhelmed by God’s abundant provisions.  We needed $600 yesterday morning.  By the end of today (I haven’t closed out auctions for today or checked to see if anymore BBQ has sold) he has provided $660….  I don’t know about you, but I have tears just welling up in my eyes.

I went on facebook after Josh called me and posted this:

“Not for a scond…not even for a millisecond should you doubt that God hears your prayers.  He cares so much about you.  He knows where you are, he’s just waiting for you o ask for help.  Just humble yourself, stop trying to make things work for yourself and just ask HIM or help.  Is he a “short order chef”  to give you whatever you ask for? NO, but when you pray according to HIS will, he will show up in a HUGE way.  What are you waiting for?  PRAY!”

With that I will leave you for the evening.  Thanks for sharing in this journey with us.  Please be praying for Josh’s time off and our childcare during our trip.  That’s another thing that only God will be able to provide for.


On a Mission: Paper Bead Workshop Recap

Oh man, we had fun!   You might remember some time ago I posted that I was having a paper bead workshop in my home for people who wanted to learn how to make paper bead jewelry.  Eight women showed up the day of the event and each of them made something unique and beautiful!

Before I go any further though, I have to say thanks to my two friends, Liz and Barb, for helping me facilitate the event.  I had taught them how to paper bead some time before the workshop so they already knew the ins and outs of the skill.  They were able to help demonstrate and answer questions that my guests may have had.  There were times when several people needed help at the same time and I was thankful to have a couple clones.  I couldn’t have done it without you two.

As with any event, the day starts the night before for the hostess.  I set up all of my card tables so that the supplies needed would be within arms reach.  I tried my best to divide out the colors evenly through the trays of beads which were on each table.  The skewers were set up that night too, which involved slicing the flat end about an inch or so and then slipping a small fold of paper into the slit down about 3/4 of an inch.  Because I struggle with knowing what goes with what, I figured my guests might like to have a color wheel and a color suggestion sheet to help her match her paper beads to glass beads.  I’m not sure if anyone used them or not, but it made me feel better that I provided it.

The night before the event, I set up card tables complete with a tray of glass beads, color wheel, color suggestions and paper bead sticks, aka bamboo skewers.

The night before the event, I set up card tables complete with a tray of glass beads, color wheel, color suggestions and paper bead sticks, aka bamboo skewers.

I had gotten some fruit and cut it up in a divided container which served as part of the snacks for the event.  The morning of the event, Barb brought muffins of different types to share as well.  That was much appreciated.  We had coffee and a cooler sodas for refreshments.

After everyone arrived, I shared my testimony of how I believe God has called us to India to serve the orphan and sex trafficking population.  I also shared my testimony about how I came to learn the paper bead skill.  Naturally I couldn’t make it through the first sentence without getting emotional.  God is so good.  He has moved in my family so much and I can’t help but be overwhelmed by emotion with how good he truly is.  When I finished, the invitation was put out to everyone to pick out approximately 20 precut pieces of paper and return to their seats.

Afterward I demonstrated how to make the beads.  From that point through the end of the event there was a buzz of busy work all through my home.  I loved some of the comments that people said.

  • “I can’t believe that that slip of paper made this bead!”
  • “Oooohhh!  Look at this one!  It’s so pretty!”
  • “This is so easy!”

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Here are some of the beads people made:

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Once people started to finish up their beads I passed out the necklace lengths and we helped everyone pick a color scheme and pattern.  A hush came over the place once this started.  People were serious about their bead projects!

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Let me tell you though it paid off!


Kelsey’s masterpiece!


She is so excited about her pretty necklace that she made! She also picked up a handmade paper bead headband from my display table while she was there!


Misty’s necklace. I believe it was her necklace that has a bit more of a close up picture above. It is so pretty!


Kathy’s UT (University of Tennessee, lest you confuse it with another) and the earrings I made specially for her!


Nancy’s necklace. She ended up finding a pair of earrings on the display table also. I have seen her several times since the workshop and each time she is wearing something different and each time her necklace matched perfectly!


Kimberly made hers with the school colors at which she teaches. She was excited to get to wear it the first day she reported!


Mrs. Linda’s necklace. She took a no-pattern-pattern approach and it looked amazing. She coordinated the colors but didn’t get overwhelmed by things being exactly strung the same in a pattern. I love it!


Gina’s necklace was truly a labor of love! She worked hard on it to get it to look just the way she wanted it to look. I just really love the way it turned out.

The only problem I have with the workshop is that the pictures don’t do the pieces justice at ALL!  They are just really beautiful.  It is hard to see here but if you know one of these ladies, I encourage you to ask to see their piece in person.  They are naturally beautiful…just the way the beads roll up and end up looking completely different than you think it will just by looking at the piece of paper.

I am having another workshop on September 27th here at my house.  If you would like to attend let me know via facebook or by calling or texting.  My promise to you is that you will leave with a pretty piece.  If you don’t care for the one you make, you are welcome to trade it in for something that is on my display board that you like!  Either way you will have a great time!

Once you have learned to make beads, you are welcome to come to work days for India, yourself or me.  Ok let me explain because it sounds like I am recruiting for my own sweatshop.  No.  I am not.  We may be putting together kids to give to women currently being ministered to in India who are using small skills like this to better their families lives.  It will include several pieces worth of glass and paper beads for them to create with.  You can help us build those kits.  If you have projects you are working on,  you are welcome to just come and talk and work.  Or, if you want to make them to help me raise money for mine and my husband’s trip, I will gladly accept donations in that way as well!  Mrs. Nancy brought me a BEAUTIFUL set of teal and pink beads just this week!  I was thrilled to get them!


Home Education 2014 -2015 has Begun!

I hope you are all well and have gotten started with the new school year!  I know we have.  Some people from back home (Kansas) are surprised that we have started already, but truth be told, for our area (Tennessee) we are right on time.  I have several public school teachers who have been in the office for over a week now.  Whether you are connected to public or home education, it’s been on everyone’s mind for several weeks already.  The only difference is the preparations we took in anticipation for the first day.

For us, we had to get our classroom ready!  This is my favorite part…usually.  This summer we used the school room for the landing place for our donations we received to sell on the 50 cent auction group on facebook that we belong to.  Getting ready this year meant purging everything but the desks and bookcases.  To be honest we hadn’t even taken down last year’s activities off of the walls from last year so those had to come down too.  Last year’s curriculum was boxed up and put up in the attic.  I purged every single piece of paper we wrote on last year, just in case someone questioned my children’s education.  See we were flagged at the beginning of the year because our registration with our umbrella wasn’t completed correctly so I was fearful that someone would want to see verification at the end of the year of what we had completed.  Anyway, after I vacuumed the carpet I began to move things in one by one.  Once things were put where I wanted them, the fun part started!  Decorating!


This is the theme of our classroom. The text in the bible talks about being the apple of His eye when we hide the word in our heart.

The wall that the boys’ desk sits against is our writing wall.  Last year, we focused strongly on math.  This year we will be stressing language arts big time.  That was the inspiration for this wall:


Our door reflects our classroom theme as well:


Our shelving for our curriculum and assignments:


I love these shelves.  They were given to us last year from a gas station vendor.  They held boxes of candy and tobacco products I think.  They have been transformed and now help to shape young minds.  The shelf on the left has a turn in bin on each shelf on the left and an open space on the right.  That space is for supplies needed to complete assignments in those subjects.  The shelf on the right is where I keep the boy’s curriculum.  Each shelf is labeled so they know exactly where to put and find their books.

Next is the closet in the room where we have school.  It holds our school supplies:


Clipboards, lined paper, paints, crayons, colored pencils, glue, scissors, miscellaneous art supplies and borrowed curriculum (that I have GOT to get back to the Lombards…STAT).  It all fits there, in the closet where it can be closed up when it needs to be hidden.  There’s plenty of room to welcome more supplies if we need them.  The painting on the wall was done by Jackson last year using mixed media.  He really loves art.  He reminds me of his Aunt Carrie, big time.

On Saturday, we punched hours for the first time this year.  The boys went to an etiquette class lead by a co-missionary, also former Miss South Carolina,  where they learned everything from how to set a table to how to walk up and down stairs.  She is really talented in teaching the kids.  I can’t tell you how many times the boys have said, “Mrs. Kelly said _____ at manors camp.”  or “Mr. Scott showed us how to _____ at manors camp.”  They really absorbed a bunch of it.

Monday was our first day in the classroom.

They are definitely ready to start!  They would have started two weeks ago if I had allowed them to!

They are definitely ready to start! They would have started two weeks ago if I had allowed them to!

They were really excited to see what our new curriculum was all about so we jumped in with two feet! Last year I was piecing together our lessons from various different books and other resources.  This year we are using Prairie Primer:

Prairie Primer Cover

It is a unit study based on the Little House books.  It may seem an odd choice by a mom of three boys but it is really amazing!  There are things I don’t care for with the actual Ingalls family but in this series, there are strong examples of how children should be raise/behave, positive father figures, strong work ethic, the family structure and reliance on God.  I am pleased with diverse study topics, experiments and outing suggestions.  You will see as the year goes what all it includes.  We will be focusing on literature and language arts this year so this is perfect for us.  Suggested grades for this curriculum covers 3rd – 6th so it’s perfect for us.

My husband requested that we do American history this year.  I found “America the Beautiful” by Notgrass.  We haven’t gotten it in yet but I am really excited about it as well.  This curriculum has several novels to be read through the year as well which will only support our desire to have literature at the forefront of our year.  This is a curriculum specifically made for grades


We will be using Math-U-See for both boys.  Jackson is on Epsilon (Fractions) and Gage is on Gamma (Multiplication).  This curriculum focuses on mastery verses just going through the motions and processes and moving on. Jackson will actually be moving on to Zeta before the year is over as he only has 15 of the 30 lessons to go before he’s done with this curriculum.


So without further delay, let’s see what we’ve been up to this week!  This isn’t all we’ve done but it’s a little bit of a peek into our daily activities.

The Primer tells us to have the kids write words they either don’t know the definition or how to spell on an index card.  Those become their vocabulary words and spelling words for the week.  Last year we did AVKO Sequential Spelling but honestly I am not seeing any long term success with it so, we are going to try a different approach.  We’ll see how it works.  At any rate, here’s the boys getting their index card boxes ready.


We grabbed index card dividers so they could alphabetize their cards as the year goes on.  During the week we will put the cards in front of the “A” tab so we can practice them over and over during the week, using them in writing exercises, using them in spoken conversation, etc.


This is Tuesday when they were taking their chapter two review.  Each day we read one chapter of the book we are in.  Naturally we started with the first book of the series: “Little House in the Big Woods.”  They did pretty good with their review but did have to make some corrections.  I like the review section because it forces them to LISTEN when I read.  Oh that’s another thing, I read the Little House book to them.  Studies have shown that being read to throughout childhood it actually increases brain function, memory, vocabulary and so many other things.  They have plenty of other books to read on their own, both to themselves and aloud.

We had the chance to spend some time in the kitchen Tuesday, also!  The boys had the chance to try cracklings.

Gage trying Cracklings for the first time!  He says he gives them one thumb up, one thumb down.

Gage trying Cracklings for the first time! He says he gives them one thumb up, one thumb down.

Later that evening, we made homemade butter and buttermilk.

Gage shaking heavy whipping cream in a baby food jar to make homemade butter for dinner.

Gage shaking heavy whipping cream in a baby food jar to make homemade butter for dinner.

Earlier in the day, Jackson took his knowledge that he learned in Epsilon and converted the measurements in our recipe for Cracklings Cornbread down to 1/4 of the size so we could make a smaller pan to go with the pinto beans we had for dinner.

Jackson converted all of the ingredients for 1/4 of the recipe of Cracklings Cornbread.

Jackson converted all of the ingredients for 1/4 of the recipe of Cracklings Cornbread.

Crackling Cornbread in the oven!  We weren't sure how it would turn out but we were pleasantly surprised that it was pretty darn good!

Crackling Cornbread in the oven! We weren’t sure how it would turn out but we were pleasantly surprised that it was pretty darn good!

We learned that when Ma would have been baking this, she wouldn’t have used baking powder or baking soda because it didn’t exist at that point.  So…we left it out to see how it would work.  Success! All of us tried it.  It’s funny because those who liked the cracklings didn’t care for the cornbread with them in it, and vice versa.  Hummm…

On Wednesday, we went over lots of firearm safety, history, mechanics there of and the differences between different types of firearms.  One thing I love about home education is the flexibility to have a variety of topics expanded on and the ability to have both parents as active rolls in teaching.

Must make sure the scope is good first...can't teach with a scope that's off!

Must make sure the scope is good first…can’t teach with a scope that’s off!

My husband getting ready to go over firearm safety, mechanics, history and comparison between types of firearms.

My husband getting ready to go over firearm safety, mechanics, history and comparison between types of firearms.

Josh showing the lock mechanism of our household (modern) mussel loader.

Josh showing the lock mechanism of our household (modern) mussel loader.

We re-read a section of the book where Laura tells what she thinks Jack Frost looks like.  The boys were to learn the difference between descriptive writing and just blah writing.  Here’s what Jackson thought Jack Frost was described as:


Gage did that assignment, too, but he also researched brindle bulldogs, which is the type of dog the Ingalls owned in the book.  He found a picture and redrew Jack.

Thursday (the day which I find myself typing this blog) was a day I thought would never end to be honest.  It’s only because I second guess myself when it comes to teaching language arts.  Our first assignment (from Tuesday) was to have the boys think of their favorite chore.  They were then supposed to write a descriptive paragraph about the process it takes to complete that chore. Here is Gage writing out his rough draft:

Gage was working on his descriptive paragraph.  Both boys wrote about their favorite chore.

Gage was working on his descriptive paragraph. Both boys wrote about their favorite chore.

For today they had to take that same piece and modify two sentences to reflect similes.  They did it pretty well but I will obviously have to touch on that further.

Both boys working on their rewrites of their descriptive paragraph to include similies.

Both boys working on their rewrites of their descriptive paragraph to include similes.

This evening, we got to get back in the kitchen to prepare a meal made with venison.  Thanks to a really amazing family we are friends with, we were able to score two pounds of deer sausage to make spaghetti with.  It was SOOOOOOOOooooo good!

Venison spaghetti sauce!

Venison spaghetti sauce!

We also started a science experiment on the rate of digestion.  We were either to eat something with corn, sesame seeds or highly dyed food and chart how many days and hours it takes from the time it is ingested to the time it passes from your body.  Since I have been making cakes this week, I had left over buttercream frosting we opted for a highly dyed food.  Here’s the boys preparing their experiment supplies:

Frosting mixing for our digestion rate science experiment.

Frosting mixing for our digestion rate science experiment.

Jackson picked blue for his frosting color.  This is him mixing up his frosting to be used in our rate of digestion science experiment.

Jackson picked blue for his frosting color. This is him mixing up his frosting to be used in our rate of digestion science experiment.

Gage stirring his frosting and green dye.  He ate 1/3 cup of frosting for our science experiment on digestion rate in comparison to our overall diet.

Gage stirring his frosting and green dye. He ate 1/3 cup of frosting for our science experiment on digestion rate in comparison to our overall diet.

I don't think we'll have any problem seeing this on the flip side.  It's saturated with color!

I don’t think we’ll have any problem seeing this on the flip side. It’s saturated with color!

They were then to ingest all 1/3 cup of frosting at once:

Mmmmm!  Blue frosting!

Mmmmm! Blue frosting!

Mmmmmm!  Green frosting!

Mmmmmm! Green frosting!

Look at those teeth!  Thank goodness for toothbrushes!

Look at those teeth! Thank goodness for toothbrushes!

Here’s out make shift observation sheet.  I didn’t plan that one ahead so it really doesn’t have a very good flow to it, but it will work for the time being.


Apparently if you have an organic and balanced diet, what you take in should pass within 24-30 hours.  If you consume processed foods and unhealthy diet, your food will process in 70-80 hours.  I fear we may be in the later classification.  😦  At any rate, it will be a fun experiment for the boys.

Tomorrow is catch up day.  Anything we don’t get finished in the four scheduled days we can work on on the fifth day.  Chances are, that’s the day I will probably take enrichment trips.  Next week we will be going to Old Stone Fort National Park to attend a program on tracing animals.  The week after that we will be milking cows or goats and making cheese of the spoils of our labor.  Hahaha…no pun intended!   We will hopefully going to a walk through museum about a half hour from here which holds most of the original buildings of the town which date back to the 1830-1930s which is smack dab in the middle of the time period of this book (1870+).  How fun is that!  Let’s make education come alive people!

Anyway I’m tired.  I will talk at you all more next week.  Thanks for tuning in!