Thursday, September 30, 2010

Home Education Encouragement

Many of you already saw the latest email from Catholic Heritage Curricula (which we use). But here it is for those who didn’t see it or don’t use CHC.  It expresses well my same thoughts. These are also some basic answers for that anonymous commenter of mine (though I know who you are).


Don't you think that homeschooling is a gift that God gives to us and to our children?  Yes, there are days when it's a struggle to get through the 'wrappings' to reach the gift, but oh, the happiness when the gift finally appears!

One of the more striking differences between public schooling and homeschooling is that public schooling is directed solely at the child in isolation from his family and personal life, sometimes to the extent that, when the child boards the bus to go home, there is a sense of "shedding" a separate world. 

The gift of homeschooling is exactly the reverse; homeschooling deeply permeates the life of the child and of his entire family.  Homeschooling, in contrast, is family schooling. From a CHC survey:

  • I have had my children in private school…homeschooling by far has united my children in deep sibling friendships that just didn't have time to blossom as fully with the stress of school days outside the home. They are more confident students academically as well. Overall, God cannot be outdone in generosity...and with our small sacrifices of homeschooling He has blessed our family tenfold!

One of the many 'gifts' in the CHC approach is that your family is 'only answerable to your family and to God.'  That is, there is no pressure to meet 'deadlines'; CHC families enjoy the freedom of being 'family schedule' focused, rather than 'outside of family's schedule' focus.   From this CHC survey response:

  • [I love] being with my kids day in and day out--teaching them to read--taking schoolwork "outside" on warm spring days--freedom to enjoy them without meeting "deadlines"…watching them learn about God.

Another 'gift' opened to us in homeschooling is that because the entire family is present and involved, younger children overhear what is taught to older siblings, and older siblings share what they've learned with younger siblings, naturally laying in wee minds a groundwork for learning in subsequent years.

  • My son is excited about helping out his younger sister. My faith is increasing and my knowledge is growing along with my children's understanding. Things I took for granted and just accepted as part of my faith I find I have to think about in order to explain to my children. CHC helps me do this with all the wonderful materials and activities presented.


  • I'll never forget the look on my daughter's face when she read her first book - "At Mass" from Little Stories for Little Folks. She had been reading words for a while, but I don't think it had really dawned on her that she was a reader yet. She read, "Pat is at Mass," paused for the tiniest instant as those words sunk in, and then looked up at me with a priceless expression of surprise, pride, and excitement. I am so thankful that I didn't miss that moment! Thank you for providing Catholic materials which teach and inspire my children!

Finally, there are the 'gifts' of being with our children, forming them in the Faith:

  • I am always amazed at how drawn the children are to their CHC materials. They are constantly learning things about the Faith, saints, and virtue in the context of the academic course work. It is wonderful to see them get so excited to tell about what they have learned.
  • We originally began homeschooling as a way to stay connected as a family, to learn and grow together and avoid the snares of negative culture pressures. After a few years of using CHC, we know that a big part of why we continue to homeschool is the quality of books and materials. It would be very difficult to surrender that.
  • When we first started our homeschool journey, I didn't think I would be learning new things every day along with my children or that my children would be "teaching me" what Gods plan is for our family. I never thought I would have a child come to me saying God was calling him to be a priest. I know this is because our Catholic faith is entwined in everything and every subject we do together as a homeschooling family.

Thank you all for sharing your 'family gift' experiences with us!

As always, remember that CHC is here to 'share' with you, too.  If you need support in your homeschooling adventure, we are here to help you.

With warmest regards,
Theresa Johnson



Monday, September 27, 2010

My angry face

Something makes my heart tighten. A scream, a cry, a whine from my children. And somewhere amidst the shock of the moment, this jumps out to get them…



My Angry Face. It’s ugly I know. Didn’t realize how much until I saw this picture! That would scare the socks off me. But my kids? eh


What did they do this time? It varies every hour of the day.


It could be spilled oatmeal on the floor…


It could be someone not doing as I asked…


It could be someone refusing a haircut despite my ridicule…


It could be someone who just found out a “mess” occurred on the carpet…

or that I just found another project for “him” to do…




How the heck do you get mad

when they look at you like that???


A side note:

My recent great idea, I carry a whistle. They’ve grown numb to my angry face, my mommy stare, my loud voice. But the whistle… oh do they listen!

The neighbors, I think they listen too :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Our house is for sale, not our home.

Since this is my spot to let my mind spill out onto the keyboard…

We’re selling our house. Doesn’t that sum up my life these past 2 weeks?
Okay, a little more detail.

It all began when my Mom was talking with her Mom about possibly moving into adjoining townhomes. While my grandparents dropped the idea, my Mom finally stepped up to the idea that Dad has been patiently hinting at for oh about 3 years. Downsizing. She’s really kicked herself into moving mode when a storm tore up her yard and she found a wonderful place to move to. It’s been interesting going through all those bins of memorable treasures. And yes, we got plenty of hand-me-downs!

For curiosity sake, I checked to see what their competition in the housing market would be like. Tough to say the least. I then was inspired to check on our own home’s market value. To my surprise not bad at all. And the homes we’d like to move to were plentiful and priced right.

Tom was thrilled that I had finally caught up to his idea of moving somewhere closer to work, closer to my family, more land and less house payment. Neighbors thought I was just joking. Friends are shocked at the spontaneity of the idea. I’m simply in go mode. I have to be.

We talked to the realtor, who sold us this house just over 3 years ago. And ever since I’ve been cleaning like a mad woman. My kids tearing it apart right behind me! With those eyes that say “Hey, look! Mom got our toys ready for us!” Jonathan just started walking. Today, we’re almost done. When it is show ready, the sign goes up. phew!

It all seemed so simple at first. You clean, you list your home, you pray to St. Joseph and it all falls into place. Yeah right! I have a sandwich baggie that is jammed with nails and hooks from the dozens of personal pictures and decor I took off our walls. I couldn’t walk down one more hall and see my babies faces on that wall I’m going to sell. I felt like a sinner taking down crucifixes and holy images from every other wall or shelf. (Thanks mom for the pep talk on that one.) I’ve subtly emailed friends to let them know what’s going on, only to have to talk to them…. trying not to cry. That’s why I’m in go mode, so I don’t think about the parts of moving I don’t like.

I’m an expert at this, this will be my 13th move over 31 years. Only the 5th where I got to pick the place!

Sunset rainbow

It’s one thing to sell a house. It’s a whole other thing to sell a home in a neighborhood where you’ve made your friends, your connections and got to know all the back-roads! Tom laughs because “Now that they just built a new Sams Club and Walmart nearby…”

In the midst of it all, I am so disappointed in myself as a teacher. My childrens’ books await them at their desks. But they have no one to show them what to do. It is just too much all at once, but it ALL has to be done. I tell myself, luckily I homeschool so I have the opportunity to just take off for a week or two. At the same time, I wonder how much easier it could be if 2 of 4 were in school somewhere else so I could play, paint, pack and sew with less interruptions. Nope, not worth it. Ugh!

First Day of School - Year 5
At the end of the day, my husband has washed another load of laundry and dishes. My 8 year old daughter has put her little sister to sleep with a lullabye. My boys come in to the office to give me a hug goodnight. The stillness of the night calms me, and I say a prayer of thanks to God for my chaotic life.

Tom’s aunt has always said, “If there aren’t toys to pick up, the kids must be sick. So thank God for the messes.”
My First Farm
Tomorrow, we will worship and praise God at Mass. Next we clean. Then come Monday we list our house for sale. After that we can resume our humble yet crazy lives as a Catholic Homeschool family – just cleaner!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Kissing Corner

by Melissa


Bruce & Pat, engaged in 1978 in the corner of his kitchen have ever since kissed lovingly in their many kitchen corners for family to see. A daily ritual, but it is more than that. Growing up as their children, we always KNEW they were in love. True love. That even after the worst of days, that kiss made troubles melt away. That embrace said "Everything's okay now, I'm here." Their hugs for us kids meant more than any words, any allowance, any vacation, etc. I don’t know many people who don’t enjoy some sort of affection, to be loved.

The Kissing Corner

Me the oldest, Melissa, now kiss my husband Tom often in our kitchen corner - for our kids to see that we're in love.  We hold hands in public – if not holding onto our kids! We let our kids know, or neighbors know, and others know we’re in that Forever Love. Something becoming rarer these days.

I truly believe that parents should be an honorable example of married love to their children. That an open expression of love between spouses is spiritually and scientifically effective.

It is amazing how with modern life being so busy, we forget why we’re working, why we’re married, why we had kids… a kiss, or even a touch, can often bring it all back… if done with love.

So go on, kiss and hug your spouse today! Kiss her like you mean it! Show some lovin' to those kids of yours, be they baby, teen or adult. Though it may feel awkward at first if not already a tradition, “you’ll get used to it!” Each kiss or hug is memory I’ll always cherish!

New Year Celebration Fall at the Farm

Virtual Hugs to all my Pals!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our Daily Schedule

..or at least we try daily…

We’re trying to stick to a schedule this year, which for many of you is normal. But it’s a huge change for us lollygaggers. So of course, I made a set of flashcards so the kids can see what comes next. This is especially helpful for those who cannot read yet.

6:30 AM - WAKE UP! Breakfast.
7:00 AM - Dress, chores & prayer.
8:30 AM - SCHOOL
> Pledge of Allegiance
> Reading/Phonics, Math, Spelling
10:00 AM - Snack and Play
10:30 AM - SCHOOL
> Handwriting/Typing, English
11:30 AM - Religion & Lunch
1:00 PM - Social/History, Art or PE
3:00 PM - Snack
5:00 PM - Supper
6:00 PM - Family Time & Music Lesson
8:00 PM - Get Ready for Bed!
8:30 PM – Bedtime

TO PRINT: Check it on out – Our Daily Schedule/Clocks
clip_image005    clip_image004

You can also print a copy of our Family Prayer here.
..we’re going to make a “Thinking Cap” for our next art project. Send me your ideas!

Finally, for bedtime – a favorite movie series of ours is
Harold and the Purple Crayon, given to us by my mom who also thinks of everything!

Based on the classic children's book by Crockett Johnson, "Harold and the Purple Crayon" is an Emmy® award winning 13-part HBO Family series centered on Harold, a curious four-year old whose imagination - and ubiquitous purple crayon - lead him into a world of his own invention. Actress Sharon Stone is narrating the series and the wonderful music is by Van Dyke Parks.
Each episode of "Harold and the Purple Crayon" revolves around a theme or issue pertinent to four-year old Harold and the preschool audience: curiosity about nature, independence and exploration, fears, and so on. Like all young children, Harold needs to explore in order to learn and grow. His development comes through trial and error, as he takes risks and overcomes obstacles.
For more information, visit the "Harold and the Purple Crayon" website

Happy School Year!

Our Netflix Queue

I recently divided up our Netflix account into two user accounts. We are signed up for 2 DVDs at a time. One for the adults and one for the kids. This way, when the kids are finished with the kids movie, it sends another kids movie – and visa versa.

When finances were getting tight, I wanted to let Netflix go… but I just couldn’t. It’s like a library of resources – and fun for Tom and I to watch movies from “way back when” that you can’t rent locally.

So what I want to share with you is our Netflix Queue – movies on the kids list. Maybe it will give you some ideas for yours? PLEASE SHARE YOUR LIST on your blog or in my comment box. I’d love to see it!

Sid the Science Kid: The Bug Club
Surf's Up
Kipper: Fun in the Sun
The Magic School Bus: Catches a Wave
The Backyardigans: Into the Deep
The Backyardigans: Surf's Up
Free Willy
Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home

Air Bud: World Pup
The Magic School Bus: Super Sports Fun
The Big Green
Little Giants
The Karate Kid
The Karate Kid Part II
Karate Kid Part III / Next Karate Kid
The Mighty Ducks

Winnie the Pooh: 123's
Winnie the Pooh: Wonderful Word Adventure
Winnie the Pooh: Shapes and Sizes
Stanley: Hop To It

The Little Rascals
Old Dogs
Hotel for Dogs
Air Buddies
Snow Buddies
My Dog Skip
Where the Red Fern Grows
The Aristocats
Black Beauty
Felicity: An American Girl Adventure
Flicka 2

Liberty's Kids: The Series: Disc 1
Liberty's Kids: The Series: Disc 2
Liberty's Kids: The Series: Disc 3
Liberty's Kids: The Series: Disc 4
Liberty's Kids: The Series: Disc 5
Liberty's Kids: The Series: Disc 6

The Sword in the Stone
Disney Princess: Follow Your Dreams
Escape from Fairytale Village
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time
Princess Protection Program

My Girl
My Girl 2
The Parent Trap
The Baby Sitters Club

Imagine That
Short Circuit 2
Batteries Not Included
The Backyardigans: Robot Repairman
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Sid the Science Kid: The Ruler of Thumb
Transformers: The Movie

The Land Before Time
Adventures in Odyssey: Eugene Meltsner
Junior's Giants: Anger's Everywhere
Backyardigans: Join the Adventurer's Club
The Backyardigans: High Flying Adventures
The Great Mouse Detective
The Adventures of Huck Finn
Tom and Huck
Tuck Everlasting
City of Ember
Ben-Hur/ Juan Diego

A Sing-a-Long for Little Children
Joseph: King of Dreams
Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors
The Miracles of Jesus
The Miracle Maker: The Story of Jesus
David and Goliath
Legends of the Bible:The Apostles
The Fifth Word
Mother Teresa
The Rosary for Little Children

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Chipettes!
Peter Pan
Return to Never Land
Tinker Bell
The Book of Pooh: Stories from the Heart

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Executive Homemaker

Found this great website full of printables for us moms.

My favorite ideas from Executive Homemaker are:
Prayer Box Recipes
Recipes for prayertime with toddlers and young children

A Back to School Survival Kit – Scriptural
The Take Time Jar
take time jar3

And make sure to print out these adorable book plates!

When you’re done having fun printing these and more,
come stop by my new blog shop:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Our First Day of School

First Day of School 2010-11 

The first day went well. The books were all here, the kids were well rested and they all participated! They love the new books and are so excited to learn. We took our annual picture by the door, which is a candid shot of what “they” decided to wear for their first day. The children have been measured – and they all grew 3-4 inches since last year, and about 1 inch of that was this summer! At this rate, they’ll be taller than me before they graduate.


Here’s a side by side of year to year – 5 Years of Home Educating our children at St. Brigid’s Academy:



P8310028 First Day of School 2010-11

1st day preschool P8310025100_2365

0 PreK Mikayla Age 4OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         1st day 1st grade 

P8310024 100_2363

 See how that door knob gives a good height visual! Yes, I thought of everything!


100_2373 2010-11 School Room

Salvaged desks and chairs are a new addition. I added a shelf with all items I’ve collected in my travels around the world or that were given to me. Below is a refinished old toddler desk, which turned out so adorable for my two little ones. This is the first year we added a walkthrough gate to the door. Keeping daytime wanderers in, and keeping little hands out at night. They like making a grand entrance and exit with their new bathroom passes.

  2010-11 School Room2010-11 School Room 

I won’t show my desk, mostly because it’s still a work in progress! My new approach this year is to stay off the computer as much as I can.




Q: I could never do that, how do you do it? Why do you homeschool?

A: Only with God’s gift of GRACE! I could never do it on my own. This was God’s calling for our family, and I take up my cross and carry it gracefully. My husband helping along the way. Anyone can do it with God, but it is certainly a calling – something to pray about.


The calling is the top reason for home educating our children. The rest of the reasons are obvious as our own experience of the public school system or watching the evening news.


Q: Will you ever send them to real school?

A: This is a real school. I am a real teacher. Think of it as tutoring. And, yes I am very qualified as are many of us moms.


Q: Look at what they're missing. What about all those extras they have at the public schools?

A: We have a lot of that here in our home. If we want access to any of their classes or programs, we are free to participate as any other local taxpayer. I look at all the EXTRAS they’ll get at home! We have more field trips than publicschoolers. This is part of an attempt to unschool, or have hands on life experiences for learning and less bookwork.


Q: Do you give them tests?

A: We test weekly and quarterly. Some tests are within the curriculum. The overall grades I am required to report to the local school district. At the end of each year they take a standardized test for state and local statistics.


Q: Are they socialized?

A: If you’ve ever met my kids, or most homeschool kids, you’ll notice that they are the most polite and respectful of kids. The respect their elders, mingle with all age groups and have proper manners. (Most do, but obviously not all – we’re still human.)


We spend time with other homeschool families in our area on a regular basis. We have friends outside the group as well. What many people forget when they ask this question, is that school is for education not socialization. I could tell you stories about the number of times I got sent to the corner or back of the class in K-12 for being too social.


Q: What about P.E.?

A: We find ourselves occupied with Soccer this fall and T-ball is available in the spring. In between we have regular sessions of exercise indoors and outside, no different that the local schools. We hope to enroll the girls in dance class soon.


Q: They'll miss the prom?

A: Is that the only highlight of High School? Really? Besides the fact that we have a high school dance, it is simply a small activity – and done in modesty. We also have annual barn dances, which are incredibly fun!


Q: What about graduation?

A: My children will graduate like any other student, when they achieve all grades up through 12th – which I intend to teach them. They will receive a diploma. Home school families have graduation ceremonies which are so fun as the parents are involved and it is a special event.


Q: Can they go to college?

A: Yes, many schools accept homeschool students based upon ACT/SAT scores and recorded grades. This is a legal school with rights, rules and advantages. Home schooled students average higher scores on standardized tests than public school students.


Need I say more? Okay, feel free to comment with questions. Of course, most who read here already know – because they homeschool too!


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