Friday, August 15, 2008

Star Wars at midnight

Tim, Hunter, and some friends of ours went out at midnight last night to see the first showing of the animated Star Wars movie. Hunter thought it was the greatest thing. He got up rattling off about how good it was (in the eyes of a nine year old). Tim says he doesn't remember much of it. He was quite tired, but enjoyed the father / son time together. We girls opted to stay up and watch women's gymnastics.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Creation Museum

Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that I will have readers that will disagree with me. That's okay. I do encourage you to read on though. We made our long awaited visit to the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky last week. I must say, it was well worth our time. While we have heard much criticism about it, we've also heard how wonderful it is. We agree with the latter. The Creation Museum walks its visitors through a series of state of the art exhibits scientifically proving that "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth." (Genesis 1:1) That goes against what we were taught in the public schools as a child. I remember learning "billions of years ago," and how we were evolved from an amoeba then a monkey, and so on. Looking at the solid scientific evidence they presented at the museum, it made me wonder, "so why don't others believe this?" I mean after all, if you take a pile of lumber and blow it up with dynamite (the big bang theory) you don't get a house! Everyone knows that. It all comes down to whether or not one believes that the Bible, preserved for many years, is true. It also depends on whether or not one believes in the one True God. While some may say they do believe in the Bible and God, they don't want to believe the account of creation and accept the responsibility that comes with it. So does it matter that we know how old the Earth is or how it got its start? Sure! What we think about the past decides what we think about the future. If one believes the words of the Bible including the account of creation, then they will most likely believe in an afterlife and how one will spend it in Heaven or Hell. Personally, I want to believe what the Bible has to say about creation. Would you rather believe that you were evolved from a monkey or "fearfully and wonderfully made? (Psalm 139:14)" The criticism that the Creation Museum receives reminds me of our trip to the Grand Canyon a few years ago. All over the park you hear "billions of years ago the Colorado River carved out this canyon." There was no one that would even come close to supporting the idea of it being the result of a world wide flood. August is the rainy season at the canyon. We wanted so much to see a sunrise or a sunset. That didn't happen for us. Instead we heard something different. We camped in the park - great experience. One night a thunderstorm was coming through. When it thunders, the sound goes on for several minutes. There's nothing like it. It reminds me of the scripture in Luke 19 when the Pharisees ask Jesus to silence his disciples that were praising Him. His response was "if they keep quiet the stones will cry out." The stones cried out that night for sure! I highly encourage everyone to visit the museum, whether you agree or not. You can then decide for yourself.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kings Island

We were looking for an affordable thing to do that was somewhat close to home and realized that Kings Island fit the ticket. Our childhood stomping ground still provides happy days to our children, just like it did for us. This year even Holly was tall enough to ride most every ride (she couldn't get on Firehawk or The Crypt). As a family we went from the Fairly Odd Coaster (Scooby Doo, Beastie, among other names) to the Rugrats Runaway Reptar, The Beast, The Backlot Coaster, and The Vortex. Tim, Bekah, and Hunter rode the Firehawk and gave it great reviews. Haley stayed back to give Holly someone to ride with on the smaller rides during that time. We decided the Racers just weren't as fun as they used to be with bigger thrill rides in competition. I chose not to ride the Delirium. I mean, someone had to take their picture, right? It was then off to Son of Beast and Flight Deck (one of my favorites). We couldn't go without having LaRosa's Pizza - yum! Of course there were the water rides (I don't like walking around in wet clothes, and again, someone had to take the pictures!). One of Haley favorites is the White Water Canyon. As we strolled through the park we talked of how things have changed since we were kids: the rides, the names, the scenery. I told Tim one thing has not changed - how I enjoy walking through the park holding his hand. We spent many of our high school summers together there. Something else hasn't changed too since its opening in 1979. As the sun was beginning to set, we told them there was enough time for one more ride. Their vote? the Beast - hands down! What we forgot to tell them was how it speeds up at night. That makes it the best.

Embassy Suites

It's so hard to believe that summer is coming to a close. We've been so busy that we forgot about summer "vacation." While Tim has completed his course and our basement is almost finished we prepare to start school without a getaway - until last week. We decided that since we were going to a couple of venues in Cincinnati that we'd spend some time in a hotel. For a family of 6, that would be the Embassy Suites. They comfortably sleep 6 people, they have a pool, and everyone loves breakfast. There's always a big variety of eggs, meats, fruit, french toast, cereal, and pastries. Our favorites include the made to order omelettes. Tim & Hunter got their meats, onions, and cheese. Me, well, it's always a veggie lover's dream come true: tomatoes, onions, spinach, mushrooms, and cheese. At least everyone went into Kings Island with a full stomach.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mini Vacation Time

Our blogs will stop for a couple of days and we took off for a little family time. Check back and we'll let you know about our adventures at Kings Island and the Creation Museum. I'll get back on the school thoughts as well.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bible - One More Thing

I forgot to mention something else in our plans to do. We plan to read a chapter of Proverbs that is associated with the day of the month it is. For instance today we would read chapter 5 since today is August 5th. Each month we will rotate different translations and compare them. There's nothing like something simple!

Monday, August 4, 2008

On the Subject of Bible

At our home, Bible is not always a separate "subject" although we have enough hours to give it a credit. Our Bible teaching follows that of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says, "All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." We do have several tools that we use to accomplish this goal. First of all, the church stands beside us and uses materials published by Children Desiring God (Desiring God Ministries) and AWANA. Both have provided a strong foundation for our children. For our youth studies such as Wild About You, His Girl, and Lies Young Women Believe are used in their 3D groups. For daily guidance and correction, I utilize For Instruction in Righteousness from Doorposts. I can't say enough about this reference. We will continue in our memorization of the Westminster Catechism and incorporate penmanship. I will probably also practice some Children's Bible Drill skills with Hunter and Holly. We will be doing a formal study of Bible history using materials from Veritas Press. We want our children to have a chronological understanding of the events in the Bible. Outside sources used to accomplish this goal include the Child's Story Bible, Victor Journey Through the Bible, and Bible atlases. A Biblical worldview is presented in each subject we study.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Record Keeping

One of the biggest struggles I had while teaching public school was the record keeping. Writing down lesson plans and then averaging grades was quite time consuming. A few years ago my homeschool mentor Bonnie introduced me to Homeschool Tracker ( This has been a lifesaver. I started out with the basic version that is free, but quickly learned how valuable the Plus version is. It now costs $49. but every time they develop a new update, you get it for free. (I think I paid only $35. for ours). This unique software helps you keep attendance, hours, and grades. During the summer I decide what I want our school year to be. We generally run from July 1 - June 30. I set holidays and vacations that suit our family. Then I set up the lesson plans for each subject for the entire year. This takes a little time, but I guess I need something to do while the kids are at the pool. On the weekend prior to our week of school I "assign" lessons to the days of the week. It may take 20 minutes for all 4 kids. I then print them each off an assignment sheet so that they know what to do each day. HT also averages the grades. All I do is input how many points possible and how many are correct. I classify it as homework, quiz, test, project, lab, or a custom named one and it will even do weighted grading. HT keeps track of field trips, a book log, and journal. The reports it will publish are phenomenal. I can print assignment sheets, report cards, and even transcripts! This makes it such a valuable tool for high school. There's still several things I haven't learned in using this, but for now I can't recommend it enough.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I just love this time of year! The store shelves are stocked with all kinds of school supplies. I must confess to my long time habit of sniffing crayons. There's just something about the aroma of formed wax creating precious memories of my childhood. Believe it or not, I have other friends who do this very same thing. Goodbye cardboard supply box and paste that you screwed off the lid and spread on the paper with the wand and hello thumb drive and vault box! I'll share some of my favorites with you. First of all, I skimp on the binders. We buy the under $1 economy type and they've held up well for us. I also buy the cheap notebook paper and spiral notebooks. What I don't compromise on is pencils. I only buy Dixon Ticonderoga. They may not be as cute as the others, but they have erasers that cleanly erase like none other! I have yet to find a good pencil sharpener. A friend recommended the old Boston that has 8 different sizes and you crank the handle. We may try that one out. I also buy Crayola crayons and colored pencils. My exception to this is I occasionally buy Prismacolor Scholar colored pencils. Prang watercolors have the most brilliant color for the price. We buy our specialty paper from Miller Pads and Paper. Their prices beat the local discount store and their selection is great. They supply us with high quality penmanship paper, sketch books, construction paper, and blank books. We only use graph paper for math (all ages) and they sell it by the ream. With Haley taking Geometry we added a compass, protractor, and a good ruler. The girls like to use Zebra pens and occasionally I'll buy them the cute Sharpie markers or highlighters. We color code with tape as much as possible to keep track of what belongs to who. Thankfully we bought Haley's TI-84+ calculator last year, so the only thing left for us to get is their stylish yet strong messenger bags from American Eagle. As you buy school supplies for your children this year, don't forget to take advantage of the low prices to stock up to fill Operation Christmas Child boxes or share with a family in need. Happy shopping!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Why Do We Homeschool?

Through the month of August I will be writing a series of blogs that pertain to "Back to School." I will outline what we use in our homeschool and why, as well as highlight some of our outside sources. It's hard to believe that we're about to begin our 9th year! We first began homeschooling because of the flexibility. While Haley was in first grade, Tim's work had him scheduled with Sunday and Monday off. We had our family day while Haley went to school. The flexibilty came in handy during Tim's mobilization. It was a matter of picking up our books and heading out to visit him. Another reason why we homeschool is because we feel like our children receive the best individualized education that holds our Christian Worldview. Not all children learn alike and through homeschooling we are able to use the right curriculum that matches each learning style. If one struggles in one area, we can give it extra attention, while allowing them to excell in their strengths. We choose curriculum that is written with a Biblical perspective and/or is taught that way. Most importantly we homeschool because God has called us to. We see it as an act of obedience. Trust me, I've had many days when I've been tempted to enroll them in the local public school! I've pleaded with God at points (especially in this last year) to let me put them in school. God clearly said to me one night back in 2002 - "If that's what you want, I will see that you will be blessed. However, it's not the desire of My heart for your family." Tim and I together want the desire of God's heart. Does this mean we will homeschool until Holly graduates? Only God knows that. We still evaluate year by year. Do I look down upon my friends that send their kids to public or private schools? Absolutley not! God can be everywhere in every kind of school. There are excellent Christian teachers out there teaching in schools everywhere. We're just following His plan for us.