Spontaneous Nature Study

I spontaneously decided to read some books to Emma and Abby that I had checked out of the library. They were both nature-themed picture books. Nothing too unusual about that. But the ideas they inspired and the energy and motivation to carry them through were nothing short of divine. I suddenly thought of going to Nelson Water Gardens and knew that we should go there. I asked the girls if they wanted to go, and they enthusiastically replied that they would love to. So we got in the van and headed toward the Water Gardens, and the thought came to me that it would be great if they had Nature Notebooks to draw pictures of the plants and fish and whatever else we would see there. So we went to the grocery store near there where I found the perfect little notebooks for them that were composition books with primary writing lines and a blank space at the top where they could draw a picture. The notebooks were discounted and the last two like that. I got them colored pencils and regular pencils, and they were as excited as if it were Christmas.

We continued on to the Water Gardens, and everything was lovely as it always is. I usually just admire the lily pads and lilies and all of the fun garden ornaments and beautiful pots that they use to make the disappearing fountains that they are known for. I started to think that maybe I could actually buy something this time. I looked around at the plants they sell and wondered if they had any Tropical Milkweed. I had just told my kids that morning that I wanted that for Mother’s Day. I found some and upon closer examination of one plant found that there were quite a few Monarch eggs on it. I asked a worker there how much it was, and he told me how much, I told him I wanted it, and he carried it to the front for me. When we were done looking and enjoying the gardens we went in to pay for my plant, and the clerk used a 40% coupon on it, so I got a great deal on my Mother’s Day present which came fully loaded with butterfly eggs!

Then we went to the park. The girls hung out by the pond for hours. I read and took pictures of crazy squirrels most of the time. The girls found a duck egg and took it home to try to hatch it.

 

On the way home, the moon was a beautiful shade of pink. We called it a strawberry moon. Then the girls saw a shooting star. What a glorious day in Nature that started with reading a couple of picture books!

A Great White Egret

 

Lots of ducklings following the mama

 

Lots of ducklings following this other mama

 

The Great White Egret and a duck behind in the picture doing the “bottoms-up” position. What are they finding to eat? I couldn’t see small fish in the water, but there was some plant life near the edges.

 

Abby feeds the squirrel a walnut.

 

Squirrels look so cute when they sit up and eat and hold the nut in their little hands.

This squirrel came right up on the table where I was sitting.

 

He kept creeping closer and closer to me. I started to get a little frightened by his lack of fear and his nearness.

 

And then this happened! Too close!!!

 

And then this crazy squirrel flattened  himself on the bench beside me…

Let’s go back to the cute ducklings.

 

 

Abby and Emma love the ducklings.

 

The duckling tells us what he thinks about the tight grip Emma is holding him with.

Now let’s go back to the Water Gardens.

Emma and Abby are working in their nature notebooks drawing Coi.

 

The blues of these pots are so pretty. And the little girls are beautiful.

 

Nature-inspired Art, Writing, and Science Learning through Nature Notebooks

 

Those Coi are BIG fish!

 

 

 

 

Nature Notebooks give kids a reason to write.

 

I sure love these little girls of mine. I’m so glad that they love to explore nature. We have lots of fun together!

 

This spoke to me – “Home of the Brave”. I love Americana! And I’ve been feeling brave and full of energy for the first time in a long time. For which I praise the Lord and expect more and more as the Lord heals and restores what the enemy  has stolen.

 

A Prayer for Homeschoolers

A Prayer for homeschoolers: 1-2-17

We Pray for homeschool families, parents, marriages, kids, wisdom in teaching each child and leading them in the way they should go. Protect homeschooling itself from those who oppose it and try to take away our rights to do it. We Pray for freedom to do it as we see fit.

We Pray for wisdom and understanding for each mother to hear God’s voice and prophetically parent their children so that they will prepare their children for their calling and election. Raise up these children to become leaders on the mountains they are called to.

Strengthen marriages and relationships within families. Protect families from attacks by the enemy.

Give homeschooling moms wisdom in leading their children to real relationship and intimacy with God.

Help the moms to only seek to please God, not man. We Pray that homeschool moms would allow no intimidation, no comparison or competition – only God’s will for their children.

That they would have wisdom and discernment as they study each child’s personality, learning style, interests, strengths, abilities, and needs.

We pray for the right friends and relationships outside of the family. Everything that shapes and influences them to train and prepare them for their calling. For them to have the courage of their conviction, to be fully equipped and strong in the Lord and the power of His might. To walk in love, in truth, in the Spirit and in power.

That they would not be pulled away by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life. Give them a hunger for the Word, for righteousness and for truth. And a love for God and His ways. And a love for others. For the fruits of the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit to operate in their lives. Discernment, wisdom, understanding, humility, and love to abide in their lives in abundance.

Poetry Teatime: The One Where Daddy and Emma Read Together

Gary and Emma read a book called “Ask Me” together. This book is by Bernard Waber, who is known for his book, “Ira Sleeps Over”.  The audio is not good because of a video game playing in the background interfering with the sound. Sorry about that! I didn’t know until I listened to the replay. I will make sure nothing is playing in the background the next time I record a video or do a scope. We also have some squeaky doors in our house. I hadn’t noticed how noisy they are until I listened to this replay.

 

Abby spins her eyes around and around and says she is seeing the world!

 

And I read a poem by Jack Prelutsky called “The Lynx of Chain”, from the book, “Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant”.

 

Then Morgan reads a poem called “Me” by Walter de la Mare and another one called “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” by Maya Angelou.

 

Watch the video here:

https://www.periscope.tv/penneymaried/1djxXEpnnXBKZ?

 

 

In Lieu of Halloween We Do Freedom Day

https://www.periscope.tv/w/1RDxloXDnErJL#

As a Christian mom, trying to decide what to do about Halloween can be difficult. We know about the origins of the holiday. We know about the terrible practices of occult groups on that night. When I think about those things I feel more like grieving and praying than celebrating.

I prayed about it and decided to do something altogether different. I knew that some Christians celebrate Martin Luther’s birthday and the Reformation, and some have Harvest parties at churches. But I feel that the Lord led us to celebrate something that we feel very strongly about. And that is FREEDOM!

The link at the top of this post is to a video on Periscope.tv in which I explain some of the things we do to celebrate Freedom Day. I have also written other posts on my blog about Freedom Day under the category, Freedom Day.

My younger kids are excitedly preparing their lists of questions for me to ask them on Freedom Day. I have already bought lots of CANDY. They are counting down the days until Oct. 31. I have read some books about Freedom to them. We talk about how important Freedom is. One of the very important Freedoms that we have in this country is Freedom of Religion. Another is Freedom of Speech. And under these Freedoms, we have Freedom to homeschool our children. Woohoo, one of our favorites!

https://www.periscope.tv/w/1RDxloXDnErJL#

Please watch the above video, and leave a comment. Do you think this is something your family would like to do instead of Halloween? Would your kids like to try this? What do you think?

All of you, have a wonderful Autumn!

Enjoy the changing seasons and the winds of change that God is sending as things get better and better!

Autumn blessings to all of you!

Homeschoolers: Get Your Kids Ready for Real Life From Real Life

camping-family

As homeschoolers, our main goal should be to get our kids ready for real life. That is the goal of education of any sort: Preparing students to succeed in life. Our definitions of success may vary, and that is something that some of us may still need to determine.

I define success as: having a vibrant personal relationship with God; having good relationships within your family and with others; basically doing what God put you here to do – fulfilling God’s purpose and calling for your life; and being able to provide for yourself and your family, preferably through doing something that you enjoy.

Your definition may be different, but these basic ideals are the foundation for the way I have chosen to build my homeschool and family life. It’s a good idea for us to think through these issues and decide what is most important to us and how we can aim toward these priorities as we plan and live out our homeschool days and daily lives in general.

Relationship with God

To me, this is the most important goal for keeping my children at home to learn and grow and develop. I know that, ultimately, they will choose whether to follow God or not, but I intend to give them every opportunity and incentive to get to know God for themselves and develop a close, intimate relationship with Him.

There are some things we can do as parents to lead our children to Jesus. One is to consecrate our children and turn their education and training and discipline over to His leadership and control. We need to realize that they are God’s children and He has given us the privilege of loving them and guiding them through their lives, according to His will and direction for them.

As such, we should pray about everything that concerns them. He is their Father, and some day He will be the One they obey and get direction and instruction from, with just friendly advice from us. We should teach them the Word of God, speak His words of life over them, and teach them the two Greatest Commandments: to love God and love our neighbors. We should teach them to listen for what God is saying to them. We should model for them how to put God first in all things. We should pray together as a family. And we should ask our kids what God is saying to them and share with them what He is speaking to us about. We can teach them how to pray effectively.

We should teach them the Bible and biblical principles that we need to live a godly life. Encourage them to pray on their own and develop their own relationship with God. Teach and model for them praying for their own needs and needs of others.

And teach them to praise and worship God. Show them that it is possible to get to know God.

A book I’m reading right now is helping our older children get closer to God. It is called “Translating God” and is written by Shawn Bolz.

Relationship skills should be an important part of our “curriculum”.

Teach your children to:

Do everything out of love. Protect the connection between yourself and the other person. Choose to walk in love toward that person no matter what. A great tip I learned from Danny Silk is: “Without the foundation of unconditional love and acceptance in a relationship, we simply cannot be free to be ourselves. It’s only when we remove the option of distance and disconnection from our relationships that we create a safe space to be ourselves. We cast out fear, inviting each other to bring our best selves forward.” This is from his book, “Keep Your Love On”.

Build good relationships. A very important skill that we all need to have in life, for the sake of our family life, our job success, our level of contentment in life and many of our interactions with others is our ability to build good relationships.

Always forgive. It never does any good to hold things against another person. If you hold unforgiveness, you keep thinking about it, you develop negative feelings and bitterness, you are miserable, and the person who offended you is not affected or hurt at all! It is worthless and futile to think that you are accomplishing anything by holding unforgiveness against someone. So don’t do it. Teach this to your children.

Repent quickly. Humble yourself to admit when you have done something wrong. Tell the person you have wronged that you are sorry. Resolve not to do it again. And make it a point to try really hard to restrain yourself from ever doing it again.

Teach them to communicate. Clarity is essential. Cloudy, unclear communication or lack of communication leads to lots of misunderstandings and lots of problems. It is my job to communicate clearly to you. It is not the job of the listener to try to figure out what I’m thinking or feeling or saying. And the goal of communication is to make sure that my listener understands what I’m saying or feeling, not to convince or force them to see things my way. In everything we do, we should convey love – not control, manipulation or trying to get our own needs met. We need to do whatever it takes to protect the connection between ourselves and those that we live with and encounter along life’s path.

Establish good boundaries. This is something that I think many of us struggle with. The book, Keep Your Love On, specifically chapter 9, spells out so clearly how we should set good boundaries. In how we spend our time and how we communicate, it all comes down to taking care of ourselves. If we don’t take care of ourselves we can’t take good care of anyone else. When experiencing conflict with another person, the way to keep it from deteriorating into something toxic is to say to them, “I’ll be glad to have this conversation as long as it stays respectful.” And then make sure that you follow through with it. If the person you have conflict with becomes abusive in any way, in language or actions, walk away from him.

I read “Keep Your Love On” by Danny Silk, and it helped me so much in many of my relationships and my satisfaction with the way I deal with other people, that I can’t recommend it highly enough. I think we should read it aloud to our children when they get old enough to really understand and process these concepts. And all through their training years, we should model and talk about the principles laid out in this book.

Have a Mindset of “We are Building a Strong Family”

In all of your plans and activities, one of the primary goals should be to build a strong family. If our children have a strong sense of belonging and security, they are far less likely to go looking for love, affection or comfort from the wrong sources like immature friends who are seeking a family and have no foundation or anchor of morality.

One way to do this is to develop a family mission statement. I have written about this Family Mission Statement.

We should do things that make good memories with our children. And we should do things within our family in such a way that we build a strong family identity – like this is what the Douglas family does – and a family culture based on good practices like reading aloud every day. Or something that your family enjoys doing together that encourages interaction and communication with each other.

Family vacations and trips would be good, too, if you can afford such things, as long as good relationship skills are practiced during these times together.

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

And now I invite you to think with me about basic skills. Basic skills are the building blocks of all of the learning that happens later on. We must teach our children how to read and write and do arithmetic. Many of these skills can be taught and reinforced through workbooks, real life activities, games, and for those who have learning differences, we may have to use specialized tools and techniques. Charlotte Mason methods of narration, dictation, and copywork are some of my favorite ways to teach reading and writing. And real life math using cooking and grocery shopping give meaning to the numbers and concepts we are trying to teach our kids. Many children naturally learn many skills because of things they want to do themselves, such as make a list of things they want for Christmas or a letter they want to write to a friend or relative, or a video game they want to play that involves reading or some kind of math. So real life can help them learn basic skills, and many times that kind of learning sticks better than what they learn from a workbook. And has direct application to real life occupations they will choose later on.

After our children have learned the basic skills until they are automatic (mastered), we can let them move on to bigger and better things like science, history, geography, government, finances, economics, world affairs, current events, advanced math, multiple sciences, worldviews, psychology, philosophy, arts, and more. From this point on, I think we should let them help decide what they want to learn more about. I believe that we should pray with them about what their God-given gifts, talents and interests are. We should choose books and subjects with an eye toward preparing them for the future that God has for them. And I think it’s important to take into account their learning styles and the ways that they are smart.

All along the way, we should spread a feast for them of living books, paintings and art, music, and exposure to great artists, composers, and authors. We feed their souls by letting them feed on great ideas and by letting them interact mind to mind with great thinkers and authors throughout the centuries by reading the Classics with them.

We should also let them specialize in subjects that they have more interest in. We should encourage them to dig deeper into subjects that excite and inspire them. We should provide resources for them to study and activities that we can afford to provide for them.

There is more I would like to cover, but this post has gotten longer than I intended when I started writing. I will continue to write about this topic in a future post. Future being the operative word here. Our kids’ future is important, and we need to keep it in mind as we educate and prepare them for what lies ahead. Let’s make sure we don’t get bogged down by details of how old they are when they learn to read or whether they do things according to our plans or expectations or in a way that is convenient to us, and really take care of the biggest needs of our children. The needs of their hearts and skills they need to do life well.