I looked back on all our family vacations since we were married in 1984 and evaluated them with the peaceful quotient. Some have been so peaceful and refreshing. While others--well, let's just not go there.
Interestingly, it doesn't seem that busyness is a factor. Last year we went on a tour of Italy and every day was jam-packed with activities. We fell into bed each night exhausted. However, we laughed, we enjoyed one another, we were kind to each other, and everyone agreed it was a refreshing time.
As I pondered what makes a vacation peaceful, I came up with some factors that surprised me. In peaceful family vacations, we all had similar expectations and shared common goals. There might have been surprises (like arriving at a cabin where every single door was locked), but for the most part, we were all on the same page and everyone felt an ownership of the trip. Mike and I weren't just dragging the kids along.
Over the years, we've stayed with family, cabined in the mountains, condoed on the beach, toured a country where we didn't speak the language, and done the Disney thing. Some of those trips have been spent swimming in the hotel pool, playing games, or walking along the beach. Others have been spent at museums, art galleries, and cathedrals. Yet each different kind of vacation has the potential to be peaceful or not-so-peaceful
Here's what has helped create a peaceful vacation.
"It's just because you think Robin Hood can do no wrong!"
Everyone laughed. We were teasing Victoria who was hotly defending Robin Hood's behavior in The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. In answer that Robin Hood was a thief, Victoria defending him saying, "He was returned money the government stole from people to the people who were stolen from."
There was more laughter and we started discussing some of the other characters. We were enjoying our bimonthly book club, as part of our American Literature and Research class.
Our book clubs had included lots of laughter and some emotional moments where tangents took us to emotional issues of our lives or what was going on in the world around us. We compared characters to people we knew, talked about characters we loved, and how we wanted to the ending to be different.
As we talk about what we liked and didn't like, plot, tone, mood, setting, worldview, and theme, we found ourselves digging deeper into books than we ever had before. There was just something about talking together that often led to deep analysis. We always had fun together even if we didn't like the book a lot. Book clubs, after all, are friendship builders.
Best of all, book clubs actually motivated students to hurry and finish the book so we could all discuss it together. I embraced book clubs over book reports because I wanted to build an enjoyable lifetime habit in my children's lives. I wanted them to read because reading is fun, interesting, entertaining, and a privilege.
How Book Clubs Work
I just love learning about the different states so I was excited to receive Chronicles of ... State History Notebook by Gladys Whitted from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources.
This research notebook is perfect for a third-eighth graders. We wanted to study our home state of Florida so we checked books out from the library and also used the internet to gather information.
Called "Chronicles of .... State History Notebook," I believe that title is misleading. It covers so much more than state history. I loved it!
The worksheets are divided up into the following sections:
My children always enjoy drawing or coloring the flag, state bird, state seal, state tree, and state flower. This time, though, we printed a photograph of the Florida flag from the internet. A big surprise to me was a page of sheet music to write the notes and lyrics of the state song. What a great idea! We also drew the first of many Florida maps to put the state capital on, as well as the city where we live. Other maps included several natural resources maps, climate map, relief map, counties map, and state border map.
It was nice to look at jobs and industry in Florida. We focused on agriculture, tourism, citrus industry, and space.
The history section focused on state and local history, Native American tribes, immigration, and religious history. Naturals disasters are many when we study Florida. We looked at famous hurricanes!
There are field trips which are wonderful. I really like to go on lots of field trips when we study Florida, so I loved all the field trips pages which are divided by historical sites, museums, cities, and misc. There's even a place to list resources used at the end.
Review of The Story of the 13 Colonies & The Great Republic Set from Memoria Press and 200 Questions about American History
Memoria Press is one of my favorite publishers, so I couldn't wait to explore The Story of the 13 Colonies & The Great Republic Set and 200 Questions about American History they sent me to review.
I didn't realize how much was in the set for teaching American History to fifth through eighth graders. The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and The Great Republic is the textbook with an accompanying Student Guide and Teacher Guide. There is also another set: 200 Questions about American History Student and the accompanying Teacher Guide. Both student guides are consumable, but you can use the teacher guides over and over again.
The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and The Great Republic are classic books combined in one volume. Written by H. A. Guerber in 1899 and edited by Meoria Press, this book moves quickly from the landing of vikings in Newfoundland to the Spanish-American War.
Each chapter is short and full of information. The writing is clear and concise.
Now, I have been teaching American History to my children and in homeschool co-ops since 1991. Plus I read all kinds of American history resources biographies, living books, and textbooks for fun. I honestly didn't expect to learn anything when I sat down to read the entire book. I was pleasantly shocked to learn little details I never knew before such as:
Now, that may seem boring to you, but I was super-excited to learn these little details.
We set up our homeschooling plan to follow the suggestions by Memoria Press.
I'm all for pedicures and bubble baths.
However, if you feel overwhelmed, drained, and at the end of your rope, a bubble bath and pedicure just won't cut it.
You need something more.
You need life imparted to you from the One who was there at Creation, gladly embraced the horrible crucifixion, and conquered death by rising from the dead. This is the same Lord who has pursued you and if you have surrendered to Him, has filled you with His Spirit.
Jesus loves us and offers life. So simple, yet so profound.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you need life and joy from Jesus. And the Good News is that He longs to love you. He promises that if you are weary and burdened, you can surrender your burdens to Him and He will exchange them for His burdens. I
Isn't that exciting??????
Refreshment comes when we fix our eyes on Jesus and surrender to Him, allowing Him to fill us to overflowing with His grace. What I am going to share with you are some ways to position yourself to receive His grace and fix your eyes on Him.
Summer is a great time to relax.
The weather is warm, the skies are blue, and sunshine is smiling on everything.
Summer is the perfect time to curl up with a book or have an Anne of Green Gables movie marathon.
Nothing relaxes me more than lying on a beach chair listening to the waves crash on the shore. Soon, I am far away in a happy places. Oops! I hope someone is watching my kids!
Summer is a great time to make memories.
We love to swim in the pool, play games, craft, scrapbook, enjoy museums, and visit amusement parks in the summer. Afternoons at the playground or discovering where a dirt road leads are fun, too!
Summer is a great time to learn.
We always take a break from formal schooling in the summer, but learning continues on. After all, we live a lifestyle of learning as homeschooling families. There is always something to discover and investigate!
With all of this in mind, here are some happy ideas to celebrate summer, make memories, learn new things, and have a blast this summer!
Here in Florida, swimming is part of life. There are lakes, pools, springs, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico to swim in.
I remember taking swimming lessons as a little girl at a neighbor's pool. I blew bubbles underwater and learned to float.
My children grew up in the water, too, but we taught them to swim ourselves, introducing them to the water while they were still in diapers.
I definitely recommend swim lessons if you can afford them. All children should be safe near water. You never know when you will have to swim to escape danger or help rescue someone.
The other day, we were swimming with my grandchildren and children in their neighborhood pool. Rusty got out of the pool, took off his floaties, and jumped back in. "He can't swim!" my son-in-law said sharply as I was watching him struggle in a state of shock. That jolted me and I scooped him up. My heart was pounding as I realized how quickly accidents happen.
It reminded me of my baby sister who did the same thing. Took off her floatie and jumped right back into our next-door neighbor's pool. My neighbor Tommy jumped in and saved her life. She had quickly sunk to the bottom of the deep end.
All children should be able if they jump or fall in a pool, lake, or other body of water to swim, escaping to safety.
If you are looking for lessons or teaching children yourself, here are some steps to take babies and toddlers on their first steps to swim proficiency.
The beach is a great place to explore. You and your children can have all kinds of learning adventures along the shore, in the tide pools, and climbing the sand dunes.
Here are some great ways to learn at the beach.
Engineer a Castle that withstands the Waves
Here’s a great STEM project. Construct a castle with a moat that will withstand the occasional wave. This might take several tries.
Mark Off the Tides
Place a sturdy stick that will withstand the waves every hour at the average place where the waves stop before rolling back. Then figure out how many feet the tide changes each hour. Estimate where it will be in 2 or 3 hours.
Explore a Tide Pool
When the tide goes out, a tide pool is often left behind. Explore the tide pool for little creatures.
Bring along a sketch pad, or easel with paper and pretend you are a world famous artist working on your next masterpiece. You can sketch the waves and the sky or zero in on a bird.
Life with Dog is a family movie from Mill Creek Entertainment.
Corbin Bernsen does an amazing job portraying a bitter man who has lost his wife to a hit and run accident.
I was impressed with Corbin Bernsen's acting in the movie and then found out that he wrote, directed, and helped produce the movie! My family enjoys watching him in old Psych television reruns where he plays Shaun's father.
Anyway, back to the movie. Joe Bigler, the main character, is struggling with depression after his wife dies unexpectedly. He is determined to find the driver of the truck that hit his wife. His temper gets the best of him in several scenes and he ends up being hauled off to jail twice. Still, you have compassion for this angry man who has lost the love of his life.
The movie was excellent as far as acting, settings, scenes, and camera angels. It was very professional.
I watched it with two adult children and two younger children. Let me be honest. It was a sad movie. I kept waiting for it to get bright and sunny, as did the younger children.
However, Life with Dog is an amazing look at grief and how it turns you inside out. He has conversations with his dead wife and I explained to the children that it's hard to realize your spouse is gone so widows and widowers often continue to talk to their spouse after they die. In fact, it reminded me of a time after my momma died and I was waiting for Daddy to wake up from a nap. He called for Mom! I sobbed like a baby. My sorrow mingled with his. Watching this movie brought back sad memories for me, but I'm glad I saw the movie.
It reminded me of the process of grief and was an honest look at the process of grief.
It was also an honest look at those who have no hope in Jesus. Joe Bigler doesn't believe in Jesus even though his wife was a devoted Christian. His daughter has found faith in Christ, too and tries to share that faith with Joe in the movie. She even sends her pastor to see him.
I was so excited when my Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner for the 2019/2020 Year by Gene Suerez arrived from The Old Schoolhouse(R)!
I love planners and this planner has it all. From transcripts to attendance records, from goal sheets to curriculum lists, and from calendars to devotionals from Gena.
We can all use help getting organized! However, some planners are so big, they seem overwhelming. My first homeschool planner was a 4" thick notebook with tons of pages and sections. I could barely lift it. When I saw the Hey Mama! 2019-2020 Schoolhouse Planner, I thought, "Oh, no, it's so thin and light--what did they leave out?"
I'm happy to report that nothing was left out!
We have planning pages galore!
It opens with directions on writing a transcript followed by a transcript page and skills and courses checklist.
The next section is calendar section which opens with 3 one page year calendars: 2019, 2020, and 2021. This is followed by a terrific section: a room for monthly notes (e.g. "July 2019 Notes"), a full 2 page calendar (e.g. July 2019 calendar on 2 pages). This section covers July 2019 to July 2020.
The next section is a series of 2-page weekly calendars with sections for each child. Wow! I love this section! This is the longest section of the planner which will be the most helpful to me.
The child section follows where there is a section for each child with a page for notes, another page for curriculum planning, an attendance sheet, a books read list, yearly goals page, first semester page, and second semester goals. This is my FAVORITE SECTION because I am a big-picture person and I love to make big-picture goals.
There is another thing in the planner that is my FAVORITE THING! I love all the blogs from Gena! She writes weekly in the Homeschool with Heart Blog where I find myself challenged, inspired, relieved, and encouraged. To find her practical encouragement sprinkled throughout the planner is such a blessing! Wow! I am so excited!
Since this planner has everything I need, but isn't too heavy to carry around, I plan on using it all year long. It's just perfect for me. It would be just perfect for you, too.
Growing up, Daddy always carved a watermelon basket for our summer parties while Momma whipped up yummy food.
"It can't be too hard," I thought, deciding to tackle the family tradition.
Don't look too closely at these photos because they are nothing like Daddy's clean straight lines. Here is my watermelon basket and it wasn't too difficult.
I will walk you through the process step-by-step.
You will need:
1 Large Watermelon
1 Large Watermelon
1 Large Honeydew
1 Sharp Working Space
1 Melon Ball Maker
1 Large Mixing Bowl
1 Large Working Space
Your first job will be to cut off most of the top half of the watermelon leaving a wide handle in the center. (See the photo below)
Next, make melon balls from the pieces you cut off from the watermelon and add them to the mixing bowl.
Move on to making melon balls from the rest of the watermelon until it is empty, adding them to your bowl. Scrape the insides of the watermelon so it is smooth.
Make melon balls from the cantaloupe and honeydew, adding them to the mixing bowl. Mix all the fruit together so there is a pretty color mix.
Add the melon balls to the empty watermelon basket and it is ready to serve.
That's it! It's easier than you thought, isn't it? It makes a great centerpiece for a summer party, BBQ, or outside picnic.
Happy Summer Hospitality!
Creation Week is such a fun time in history to study with children. They love to learn how God created the stars, the animals, the waters, the sun, and people! It is so exciting that God spoke and it was created! Wow!
Laura and I decided to create a little lapbook for our grandsons who love to learn about Jesus.
So we started with timeline figures from our Ancient History Timeline and Scripture passages from Genesis 1.
Since all of the Old Testament points to Jesus, we decided to include some Scripture memory cards about Jesus, as well as some from Genesis 1.
We got more and more excited. Soon, we just had to create a lapbook, so we did!
As you can see below, there are booklets to color, fold, and glue to the lapbook each day after reading the Scripture passage, enjoying hands-on learning activities, and working on memory verses.
The lapbook turned out beautiful and we had such fun digging into the first week of history!
In fact, we had so much fun, we decided to share our little lapbook with you. You can purchase My Creation Week Lapbook E-book at PayHip and TeachersPayTeachers. Learn more about the book here.
If your looking for STEM resources about Creation from a biblical worldview, you will love learning about Creation Week with My Creation Week Lapbook.
After all, learning science should be fun!
Until next time, Happy Homeschooling!
I was intrigued by the title John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress with 525 Illustrations Spanning 250 Years compiled by Laura Bluedorn available from Trivium Pursuit.
As I browsed through one of my favorite stories, I found myself delighted. It seemed that Laurie Bluedorn gathered every picture painted of scenes in Pilgrim's Progress.
Everyone should read Pilgrim's Progress at least once, if not several times.
This copy is a true treasure, like nothing I've ever seen before. With 605 pages, you will feel like you are in an art museum devoted to John Bunyan. I was blown away by all the different styles of artwork in the book. I couldn't stop browsing through the book.
Not only do I LOVE the book, but I found an awesome blog on Trivium Pursuit that helps parents to teach Pilgrim's Progress to their children. You can read the blog here.
sA Child's Geography: Explore Medieval Kingdoms from Knowledge Quest takes us back in time to the Middle Ages where we explore the locations of important Kingdoms of Medieval Times.
Starting with Spain, we learn about the varied landscape, a bit of history, and some famous sites. The text is written in conversation style.
After Spain, we moved on to Portugal, Andorra, Monaco, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
We downloaded several resource E-books: Recipes, Extra Reading, Activities, Maps, Prayer Walk, and Timeline.
This additional E-books were free with the purchase of A Child's Geography: Explore Medieval Kingdoms.
My favorite things about this book is the breathtaking photographs. Wow! They are amazing!
Since I only had a few days to look over the material, I decided to just read the book, though I was so eager to try out everything with my kids. I felt like I had taken a three-month vacation to Europe when I finished reading the book. I can't wait to use it for geography with the crafts, timelines, maps, prayer guide, maps, and recipes. Everyone looks fun! My children will love it.
A Child's Geography: Explore Medieval Kingdoms is more than a textbook, it's a unit study with hands-on fun for every member of the family.
Homeschooling is an all-encompassing adventure. It takes over your whole life, especially if you choose to pursue a lifestyle of learning instead of trying to bring traditional school-style learning into the home.
We like living books, hands-on-fun, and mentoring our children in the context of close relationships.
Sometimes, Homeschool Moms can wonder what on earth they were thinking when they took the homeschool plunge.
Not because it isn't wonderful? And fun! And exciting!
But, there is that nagging fear! "Am I doing everything right? Are my children missing something they need in their education? Am I teaching effectively?"
When I start to nervous about those things, I have to stop and ask myself, "Who is driving our homeschool bus?" Is it me? Or is it the Lord?
You see, I can do an okay job educating my children, but if I want excellence in my home school, I need the Master Teacher to take charge.
He is perfect in all His ways and knows everything about everything! Best of all, He wants me to surrender to Him and allow Him to take control of my heart, life, family, home, children, and home school.
Once you surrender to Him, the pressure is off. The focus becomes honoring Jesus, praying, digging into His Word, and letting Him lead. Homeschooling becomes an adventure with Jesus!
And so today, I ask you: Who is driving your homeschool bus? If you are driving, you might want to surrender to Jesus. He is an amazing driver! Jesus promises to lead us beside still waters, to nourish our souls, to give us wisdom, to lift our burdens, to fill our heart with joy, to answer our prayers, and work in us to will and to act according to His good purpose. He will never leave us. And don't forget: Jesus said in John 15 that apart from Him, we can do nothing.