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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Choosing Your Word for the New Year


Have New Year's Resolutions been replaced by a "word for the year"? The idea of a Word for the year is choosing one word that embodies your goals and wants for the year. 

I gave up on Resolutions  ages ago because they set you up for failure.  The beauty of a Word for the year is focusing your energy on a goal that touches all areas of your life.

New year word choices are motivated by an endless variety of life experiences and goals. I can not speak into the motivation of your word choice.  Each of us must reflect on our own goals, successes, and even failures as we choose our word for this next year.  

Do you want more Joy? Joy in the little things, joy in your nuclear family, or joy in the midst of pain. 

Do you want more Patience? Patience with yourself, with your kids, or with just waiting on life to be what you want it to be.

Do you need to be more Intentional?  Intentional in your thoughts, in your planning, or in your relationships?

WORDS THAT PREPARE YOU
We may choose our word for the year, but God will choose how that word plays out in our life. 

Wisdom
I started choosing a word for the new year back in 2013. I honestly don't know exactly what made me choose the word WISDOM, I think I had just made some bad choices or been in situations that kept me saying "I don't know what to do." 

I had no idea that God used this simple word prepare me for circumstances that I could never have seen coming. The year of WISDOM became a year of life changing decisions that were no where on my radar when I chose the word.
Security
The next year I chose the word SECURITY.  All I really wanted was to be more confident in my skinny jeans and less awkward around people I called friends.

Instead of feeling sassy in a new outfit, God brought about the circumstance of an abusive family member trying to re-enter my life. This brought up the root of my insecurities because I had to confront all the lies this person had made me believe about myself. I had to seek hard about true security in Christ, and heal from years of lies.  It was immeasurably painful, but in the end I am much more secure in who I am, even if I still don't like my hips in skinny jeans. 
Safe
A few years later I chose the word SAFE.  I had discovered a friend had betrayed me and a my family, and I wanted to safe with people again.  Only a month after choosing the word I was plunged into the hardest battles of my entire life.

I experienced spiritual, emotional, and physical battles that made me feel beat up and battle worn.  I lost count how many times I wanted to just give up on fighting.  When those evil voices would whisper lies to my heart, my still strong voice of God would come in louder with Words of Promise and truth. The God of Angel Armies sent out an protectors to find me as I  put one foot in front of the other through the darkest time of my life. I had to lift the Sword of God's Word in battle after battle as I my own strength was not enough.  

I have never felt more unsafe and scared than that year, yet I learned a new definition of what it meant it to be safe with God.  I learned the safety provided was the safety found in a battlefield; the safety of a shield that keeps you protected as blow after blow beats you down to your knees.  The shield keeps the blades and arrows from piercing your heart, but you are exhausted as you think the metal will inevitably bend around you, molding to the shape of your battered body. God kept me safe in through his constant presence and protection.
YOUR WORD SHAPES YOU
The word you choose will not necessarily shape the circumstances of the next year, but it will shape your perspective inside of those circumstances.

The outcome of focusing on one word is that you begin to see it everywhere.  When we focus on one word, it begins to drown out all the others. 

Focusing on the pursuit of wisdom kept my eyes off frustration. 

Focusing on security kept my eyes off the rejection. 

Focusing my eyes on the safety God provided pulled my eyes from despair.

Focusing on Joy this past year has helped my eyes off of the pain. 

CHOOSE YOUR WORD THOUGHTFULLY  Don't feel like you need your perfect word January 1st. The past few years I have not had my word until Mid January. I recommend praying and just waiting for inspiration.

 Read His Word, and mediate on what you think you need to learn this upcoming year. I promise you it will prepare you for whatever is coming, God is kind of cool like that.

I wish you a Happy New Year, and may God prepare you for your next year with a word that gives a small glimpse into His plans for your heart. 



Friday, December 14, 2018

Recovering Fixer, The story of My Site's Name



Hello my name is Robyn, and I am a Recovering Fixer.  I am also a recovering people-pleaser and Enabler. I say Recovering because I know that I could easily slip back into those patterns when I don't keep up my guard.

While this site is mostly about homeschooling, the title "LEADING THEM TO THE ROCK"  was chosen to remind me  that I AM NOT THE ROCK.  I can't save anyone, I am not the highest rock. Homeschooling can't save my kids. I can't save my broken-hearted family members, or my unsaved loved ones.  I can not be enough to fix  the deepest wounds in their lives.

What I can do is be there to weep with them as they weep.  I can rejoice with them as they rejoice. I can loudly proclaim the God in whom I found healing.  I can share with them healing resources and confront with love when needed.

I can not save them or place their feet upon The Rock. I can not take responsibility for the reactions.  I can not make them change their behavior. I can not (and should not) protect people from consequences of their unhealthy patterns.  I can not be THE ROCK of salvation.


People can be rocks, but not THE ROCK
People can be a rock in your life. I wholeheartedly believe God's healing in my life has come through the arms and words of HIS PEOPLE.  They love me, they accept me, they sanctify me.  Please do not read this as an endorsement for Isolation from God's People.

But People can not be THE ROCK, the HIGHEST ROCK. Too many times in my life I have asked too much of people, or have allowed others to ask too much of me.  

I've tried to make humans my highest rock. Many times I expected people to heal my heart in ways that were unfair and unrealistic. I have placed family members and friends on pedestals of an idol, just to have them knocked off as they inevitably behave as a human with faults and flaws. 

I have subconsciously tried to be the Highest Rock to others in my life. Growing up with a mentally ill mother and toxic family dynamics created unhealthy coping mechanisms in me.  I was "the Fixer" in my family. 

Seeking healing though boundaries has taught me what I can do in others lives, and ultimately what I can't do. 

Be careful that you don't make others your Savior, or worse, try to be a Savior to others. 

LEAD THEM TO THE ROCK WHO CAN TRULY SAVE.




Hear my cry, O Lord, listen to my prayer; 
from the end of the earth
 I call to you  when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock  that is higher than I,  
for you have been my refuge,  
a strong tower against the enemy.
Psalms 61: 1-3



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Friday, October 26, 2018

Crockpot Chicken Tacos Freezer Meal


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast, fat trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder 
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chicken broth

1. Label bag with name and instructions 
2. Add chicken, spices, and broth to bag. Get as much air out as possible, seal bag.

To Prepare:
1. Thaw in fridge overnight, in a bowl prevent leakage.
2.  Crockpot on low 6 to 8 hours. Make sure chicken is completely covered in broth. Add more broth if you need to. It will seem like a lot of liquid, but it's the key to the moist taco meat. 
3. Chicken is ready when you can shred with a fork. Chicken will absorb the remaining liquid once shredded.
4. Serve in burritos, over rice, on salad, or in quesadillas.

Lessons Learned Living with Food Restrictions



This is not a post that I was really excited about sharing, but it just kept writing itself. I would write lessons here and there, but have delayed publishing for months. It's not fun being a poster girl for any type of medical issue, and I really don't want to be spokesperson for food restrictions, but this journey has chosen me.

Lets first establish what food restrictions are, they are not food sensitivities.

A food sensitivity is frustrating and inconvenient when you eat that food because you have mild adverse reaction, such as a stomach ache or a headache that lasts maybe an hour or two. Too much dairy gives you somewhat uncomfortable gas? You have a food sensitivity, not a restriction.

Food restrictions are real and consequences of eating restricted foods are serious and long lasting.

Some of the many legitimate reasons people have food restrictions:
  • Thyroid and other Autoimmune diseases 
  • Diabetes 
  • Celiac Diseases 
  •  Crohn's disease 
  •  Chronic inflammation 
  •  Chronic migraines
  •  Chronic gastrointestinal pain 
  •  Many, many more. All valid.

It's tough, and it's been a long process, but I've learned several lessons. My hope is if you've been diagnosed with a food allergy or food restrictions, or someone you love has, that these lessons will help you also.

1.  Acknowledge the Grief Process
Be prepared for a grieving process, and allow yourself to feel the emotions of grief, to move on in a healthy way. No one warned me about this, and it was essential to surviving this process in an emotionally healthy way.

Feeling and naming grief is part of a healthy process, and brings us healing when we are brave enough to face it.

Having food restrictions isn't just about not being able to eat a certain food, you lose a lot of experiences with other people. You lose an emotional outlet, because let's face it, a lot of us are emotional eaters. 

We actually suffered a terrible family loss a few months after I began this food allergy journey.  People brought so much food, and I couldn't eat any of it. I couldn't numb my emotions with food, and at times I felt jealous of my loved ones who could.

Just as in any healing process, allow yourself to feel the loss that accompanies food allergies.  There are many things you lose. I lost not being able to eat at restaurants with my family.  I lost being able to accept the kindness of others who brought food. I lost the ability to eat food I didn't make. 

Denying these emotional toll of food restrictions will keep you from dealing with those feelings in a healthy way.


2. Focus on what you CAN eat
Just like any grief process, focusing on what you still have is part of the healing process.

There will fun new foods you get to discover. Before my food allergies, I had never eaten guacamole, because green food looked weird. After being restricted from cheese, I wanted something creamy for my tacos, and I discovered the absolute beauty of guac. 

When I couldn't find a suitable ranch dip for my veggies, I tried hummus for the first time, and the creaminess was delicious and so much healthier for me. I now eat more middle eastern food, which I never ate before. 

There are SO MANY foods in this world, restrictions can open your eyes to ones you hadn't considered before.

3. Finding Alternatives help fill the gap
There is an alternative for almost any food. 

Finding alternatives sometimes does mean more cooking  from scratch. I think our overhaul health has improved, and my budget is much healthier because I can't buy processed food.

I have also learned to bake during this time because it is impossible to find food I can eat in bakeries, which my waistline doesn't thank me for, but my kids and husband LOVE how much baking I do now.

Sometimes finding all the alternatives you can eat means more shopping around. I used to 100% shop at Aldi, but now I get my granola bars and brownies from Kroger, my dairy free cream cheese from Meijer, and my Egg Free Mayo from Fresh Thyme or Whole Foods. 

It sounds like a little extra work, but we are living in the golden age of food alternatives. 

Find a friend with your allergy and ask them where they get their alternatives.  

4. Always be prepared 
Every purse and bag that I own has a granola bar or a snack in it at all times. Once I use that snack I replace it as soon as I get home.

When I'm going somewhere over mealtimes I pack a lunch.

When I attend a potluck, I always make an entree and a dessert so that I know I'll get both.

This avoids me getting hangry (hangry=hungry+angry) and disappointed when I go somewhere and there isn't food available for me. Sometimes you're pleasantly surprised, but it's better to be over  prepared than to have nothing to eat.

5.  Sometimes people will be awkward.
Again, I really do not want to be the food allergy poster girl. It can be very embarrassing.  It is not a club that I wanted to join. I don't want to be the person that everyone tiptoes around and apologizes for because they're eating foods I cannot eat.  

I've  had to walk an interesting line of REALLY not wanting to not have to tell every person I meet about my food allergies, but also being honest about why I have to bring my own food everywhere, or why I can't go to a restaurant. 

 My sons are very empathetic and concerned for me, and for a while anywhere we went they would tell people about all the foods that I could not eat. I had to tell them that it's embarrassing for them to point out every food on the table that I can't eat. 

A person with food allergies does not need you to point out to them the food that they cannot eat, they already know. If you know someone with food allergies, let them be in charge of their food.  You think you're being helpful, but pointing out and asking about all the things that can not eat at a meal is quite embarrassing. 

I was in a situation where everyone got free ice cream  for helping a mutual friend move. I tried to discreetly just say no thank you, and they asked multiple times and teased me saying that I was on a diet. I then had to divulge that I couldn't eat dairy. It was embarrassing for both of us. 

Hosts are going to feel bad when they make food that you can not eat. I'm part of a weekly small group at our church where we have a potluck each time we meet, and I can't eat 99% of the food brought by other people. At first that was a really emotionally hard for me, but I can also tell that it was all very hard for all the people who wanted to love on me by sharing food together. Again, this is part of the grieving process.

6.  Sometimes people will be great.
My allergies are not straightforward, I wish that it was something as simple as avoiding gluten or dairy, but I'm allergic to half a dozen foods that are in a lot of everyday common foods, like potatoes and yeast.  

I have a few friends who have walked on this hard journey with me who have made it easier. They go to the restaurants they know that I can eat at.  They text me recipes they are making, and keep ALL the cans and boxes so that I can read the ingredients before I eat anything, because that's my life.  I NEVER expect anyone to do this, EVER, but it is a pleasant surprise when it happens. 

7. Sometimes people will be ignorant. 
Some people will treat you as if you're on a diet, that you somehow are choosing your own restrictions.

This mentality seems to stem from the fad of those who very loudly, and sometimes obnoxiously, abstain from food sensitivities as if it was a critical food restriction. Sadly this approach has unintentionally taught the public that there is some type of  choice in food restrictions. 

I have had more than half a dozen people respond to my reluctant admission of food allergies with:

"I would rather die than not being eat __insert food here__!"

In case you didn't know already, this is an inappropriate response.  If I told someone I lost my foot, no one would dream of saying to my face that they'd rather kill themselves than live without a foot.

My life is very full, and food restrictions are not a fate worse than death. These comments are completely based out of ignorance. There will be times when you can gently educate, and there will be times you need to ignore the ignorant.

6. You are so much stronger than you think.
I have struggled with self control in regards to food my whole life. My emotional eating was a deep stronghold, and even experiencing disordered eating of bulimia in High School. 

Though food restrictions I found I had self control I never thought possible. It wasn't easy, but I'm able to not only say no, but not feel completely empty when I have to say no. 

 I credit this with allowing myself to really work through the grief process. I literally wept over losing macaroni and cheese from life, and have for the most part moved on (grief is still grief and sometimes it still hurts).

If you had told me 2 years ago I could take my kids into Krispy Kreme and get them a donut, and be at peace not getting one for myself, I would never have believed you. But there is amazing growth and self-control that can come out of this process if you allow it.


7.  It will eventually be worth it
It will be worth it. You can eventually get to a point where you will not feel sad all the time about not eating the food that everybody else is eating, because you just feel so much better.

You'll get to the point where that food is just not worth it. It's not worth the pain, it's not worth of discomfort, it's just not worth it. There's so many more important wonderful things in life other than food. 

I hope this has been helpful. Please share with my about your journey with food restrictions.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Free Homeschooling Resources



All you need to homeschool is a library card...and maybe an Internet connection. Homeschooling can be as expensive as your want it to be, but also can be as cheap as you need it to be.  We are one income household, and free homeschool resources have saved us thousands of dollars each year.  They make the cost of our Internet connection well worth it.

There are so many amazing free resources online for the homeschoolers of today!


SAFETY NOTES: 

  • Passwords on EVERYTHING. Our computer, along with all Internet-capable devices, is password protected, and can only be used while me or my husband is in the house AND have given permission. Use a strong password your kids would never guess. 
  • Safe Search  Filters. Make sure all your search engines are changed to safe search filter, especially your phone.This is good protection for your own heart, as well as your children. You can find these by going into Google Settings. 
  • Use Parental Controls!!!  Pretty much all computers are enabled with some type of FREE parental control. We have the cheapest $50 Kindle Fires for our kids, which have WONDERFUL parent controls in Kindle Free Time. Side note: DO NOT buy the Kid's Kindle!!!  Buy a regular Kindle Fire and use the FREE parental controls in Kindle Free Time (no need to subscribe to anything even thought Kindle wants you too)
  • The only 100% reliable Parental Control is Parental Presence.  You are not more tech savvy than your children.  There is pure evil in this world.  No one is above temptation, even your good kids. 


FREE HOMESCHOOL RESOURCES


READING
  • Story Online- Free Stories read to your child. Reading aloud to children has been shown to improve reading, writing and communication skills, logical thinking and concentration, and general academic aptitude, as well as inspire a lifelong love of reading. 
  • Squiggle Park- Very Fun Learning Games designed to help children gain reading comprehension and skills.

SOCIAL STUDIES
  • History for Kids- Very Fun Learning Games designed to help children gain reading comprehension and skills.

MATH
  • Khan AcademyMath, Science, Computer Programming, Arts & Humanities, Economics, and TEST PREP
  • Xtra Math-  Free Web Programs for students, parents, and teachers

SCIENCE
  • Club SciKidz Every day on their blog, Club SciKidz will post a different simple science experiment for kids and parents to do at home. The first, for example, uses the scientific method to determine what household ingredient works the best to clean a dirty penny.
  • Mark Rober- Science YouTube Channel. Geared towards middle school and high school

FULL CURRICULUM 
  • Scholastic Learn at Home-With the new Scholastic Learn at Home, every day Scholastic's website will offer a new mini-lesson that includes a story, a video, and an activity. The lessons are grouped into four age groups: pre-k and kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2, Grades 3 to 5, and Grades 6+.
  • Khan Academy- Math, Science, Computer Programming, Arts & Humanities, Economics, and TEST PREP

EXERCISE

COMPUTER & CODING SKILLS
  • Typing.com- Typing skills, drills, and games.  This a GREAT site for any age or grade who wants to learn to type, or improve their skills.
  • Free Online Coding with Scratch- With a little research, we found Scratch is perfect and easy way to begin coding with elementary aged children.
  • Free Online Coding with Hour of Code-  Hour of Code works for all ages, pre-readers to Grades 9+!  It has a plethora of teacher resources, plenty of tutorials, and activities for every interest.
  • CODE ACADEMY- This site is free, but will also require a separate email for each child. This is for older children, late junior high or senior high.

FINE ARTS
  • Hoffman Academy Free piano lessons.  even if you don't plan on your child becoming a great pianist, the music lessons in this are wonderful!  We did end up buying the least expensive keyboard we could find, and it has been well worth the investment!
  • BBC Music online resources- Great videos and online courses for a variety of musical skills, include a step by step guide in learning to sing.
  • Art for Kids on You Tube- This is great channel made by a family of artists. Please always use parental discretion when allowing your children on YOU TUBE.  Always always watch the video before showing your child!


EDUCATIONAL GAMES 
  • ABCya.com- PreK to 5th grade.  Note that my kids play all different grades and ages, because we use a mastery approach for Math, so some of the grade assignment don't always match up to their skills level.  Don't let this get in your way.  Have your kids start in the youngest grades to gain confidence, them move onto other grades as they master.  


PRINTABLES & WORKSHEETS
  • Teachers Pay Teachers- Not ALL free, but a great resource nonetheless.  You can buy entire book studies and plethora of other of materials, all while supporting really great teachers. 

MY FATHERS WORLD RESOURCES
  • MFW Facebook Groups-   I can not say enough about how helpful these groups are! There is a main group, then other offshoots for each specific year. Join and use the  FILES SECTIONS, and save hours of time in prep!!!!
  • Mamma Jenn-  This MFW Homeschooling mom of twins is a kindred spirit!  She has a ton of FREE printable  for every year in MFW.
  • Leading Them To The Rock- I share how I organize my day with workboxes, and several free curriculum lists, which can be found on my My Father's Tab of this site.


PLEASE COMMENT IF YOU HAVE ANY OTHER 
FREE HOMESCHOOL RESOURCES TO SHARE! 


Saturday, September 15, 2018

How I found freedom in someone else's grumbling


This is the story of how I found freedom in someone else's grumbling... about Beth Moore.

Who doesn't like Beth Moore? She is witty, funny, kind, and excited about God's Word. One of my most freeing moments as a writer/teacher was in a Beth Moore study. Let me be specific,  because I've had a lot of freeing  moments during Beth Moore Bible studies.

I remember the moment in a Beth Moore Bible study when I finally understood what true forgiveness was, and finally accepted God's forgiveness of me.

 I vividly remember the moment when I first heard Beth, another Christian woman, admit to being sexually abused as a child, and then making sinful choices because of that abuse. I had never had another Christian women openly share this, and as it was my testimony, it touched me in the deepest part of my heart.  I wasn't alone.

 I remember the moments when Beth made me laugh so hard I cried, then turned around crying over how the Holy Spirit led to a new beauty of scripture. I fell in love with Scripture in her studies in a way I didn't know was possible.

The freeing moment I was referencing earlier wasn't on of these memories, and didn't actually come Beth, but through the several women who were grumbling during her study.

I AM LOUD 
Fast Forward: My home church had finally decided to do a Beth Moore video study. I was so excited because it had been several years since I had been able to participate in a Beth Study. The first video played, and it was like coming home. She made me laugh, she made me cry, she made me fall in love with the Word of God.

After the video we gathered back at our table,  as I was literally wiping a tear of joy off my cheek, the first  woman began to complain.  I was shocked as the next full 10 minutes was just half of the women complaining about how much they didn't like Beth's speaking style.  The first thing out of a woman's mouth as we sat down, remarking "I am really struggling to learn anything from her because of her voice."  At least 3 other women jumped in relieved and described how they were struggling with learning anything from Beth because she was so "loud".

 Not one person spoke about the content of what she said for a full 10 minutes, but I do remember they asked,  "Why did she have to yell all the time?" And "Why couldn't she just sit still and not have to roam around the stage?" They claimed she was too distracting. They rationalized how it was hard for them to be "spiritually fed" from someone who they didn't enjoy watching.

 I was speechless, and if you know me, you'll know that's a pretty big deal. Beth Moore, a woman who was a long-distance spiritual Mentor in my life, was being torn down in front of me.  Ladies, it truly broke my heart. I sat in stunned silence as my heart was screaming, feeling protective as if someone was trashing your best friend in front of you (and yes I think Beth and I would be friends in real life).

 I couldn't imagine somebody not seeing the truths that the Holy Spirit had revealed through that video. The Bible and his truths had be lovingly taught and the words treasured.  Her loudness and movement was excitement for God's Word! My gratitude for The Word and the heartbreak at these women was overwhelming in equal measure.

To understand my reaction, you need to not only know that I love Beth Moore studies, but also that I am a loud person, and a talker.  As I sat there listening to these women complain about Beth's volume, my years of insecurity started to creep up and threaten to strangle me.  Every complaint they had about Beth could have been said of me.

 I had felt a call long ago to become a teacher of women,  but how could anybody like me if they didn't even like Beth Moore? How could anybody listen to what I have to say if I'm also this loud annoying personality that people don't like?

I was so shocked that it took me several minutes to regain my composure to finally ask the group, "Did you have any problem with anything she actually said?" Not one of them was able to come up with a single complaint about her content.

God's still small voice reminded my loudly beating heart of the many times I had gotten closer to Him in a  Beth Moore study.  Their dislike did not cancel out the moments I  had spent in God's presence. Their grumbling did not invalidate the tears of joy I had been crying only a few minutes before during her teaching. Her loudness was a evidence of her joy in The Word of God, not a character flaw.

 In that moment God gave me a new freedom, a freedom to be me. I went home that day truly understanding for the first time that you truly cannot please everyone.

I had heard the cliche  phrase many times before, but there was always a tiny part of me that assumed if you weren't pleasing everyone, then it was your fault.  I secretly felt that if you were more thoughtful or more flexible (i.e chameleon to what people  needed), then you please everyone, just maybe not all at once. What nonsense I had harbored in my heart.

There will ALWAYS be someone who doesn't like you, always. Not being able to please everyone has nothing to do with you. That morning my heart finally learned that everyone liking me does not equate to making an impact on God's Kingdom. It was true freedom.

I am not for everyone. Beth is also not for everyone, but she is for me. God designed this women who was excited to excite us loud girls.  He healed her in the same ways I needed healing, then gave her the ability and platform to share that healing.

Before that morning I had long felt a stubborn calling to work in women's ministry, but I just never felt secure enough to pursue that call. My deep rooted insecurity of people not liking me kept me from sharing truths I knew God had laid on my heart; truths a woman who had my similar testimony also needed to hear.

I went home after this particular Bible Study and finally published my first blog post about my faith journey. My writing has improved immensely since those first posts, and I am somewhat embarrassed over them, but they were a milestone for me. All my posts have a typing or grammar mistake because I think faster than I type, and I write too  many run-on sentences, but I needed to start writing, and sharing, how God had healed me.

Within a few weeks, I asked my pastor if I could start a women's fellowship team at my church.   Since then I have also been the speaker at our church women's retreat and recently I've spoken at a few local women's groups about how God has worked in my life.  I'm also currently writing a book about how Satan attacks Godly Female Relationships. I'm sharing my story.

So I guess I need to thank those women who grumbling about how loud Beth Moore was, because you gave me a gift. I hope to one day be like Beth Moore,  to share the healing God has done in my life. And you bet when I share that, I'm definitely going to be loud.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Free Online Coding with Scratch



Technology has been a weakness of mine, so it of course became an insecurity when homeschooling. We all are afraid about educational gaps, and coding was already on my radar, but I had no where to begin!!! Thankfully an odd set of circumstances recently led me to a visit to new library branch. While my boys were reading, I looked up and saw a whole shelf of  books about Coding for kids. Most of them were Coding in Scratch.  With a little research, we found Scratch is perfect and easy way to begin coding.

INFO ABOUT SCRATCH FREE ONLINE:
Visit http://scratch.mit.edu and click "join scratch" to create an account with username and password. You'll need an email address too, but thankfully I could use the same email for both of my children's accounts.

It works on computers that have Windows, Mac, or Linux. I have a very old computer, still running Windows Vista, and using Scratch online worked for us.

SCRATCH OFFLINE
Our desktop is in homeschool room, and is password protected from my kids, so safety is not a real concern for me with this app. If you are concerned with online safety, or have an Internet issue, you can also use it offline.



HOW TO BOOKS
We checked out half a dozen, hoping something would work. The two major winners were ones that my kids BEGGED me to buy for our home library:

1. Coding Scratch in Workbook
This would be the first book you should use to get started, AND IS ONLY $6.00!. It is simple and short, but sets the child up to begin working in Scratch with easy to read step by step instructions. My boys are in eleven years old and in sixth grade, and it was great level for them.



2. Coding Projects in Scratch
After a few days of familiarizing themselves with scratch, my boys absolutely devoured this book. They were begging for coding time. They were so excited about these step by step instructions, I gave them much more time than usual on the computer for a few days.




 I hope this helps someone else get their children started on coding! Don't be scared.  Scratch is very simple into to coding for kids!




Monday, August 13, 2018

First Day Traditions, Scavenger Hunt Part 2


For the past four years, we have begun our school year with a simple scavenger/treasure hunt.  The prize at the end is always inexpensive and usually related to school. It only take maybe FIVE minutes at most, so there is no worry about derailing your schedule for the day.


The past few years I have made cute printable with rhyming clues that I printed from my computer, but due to technical difficulties this year we just did simple post-its and silly clues.  It is OK that the clues are easy because the object of the game is NOT problem-solving hard riddles.  The object is to start school with fun!

 We have each boy take turns reading and solving a clue.  Make sure you have enough clues for each of your children.

 CLUE #1 
Harry's Electronic Wand - Hand them this clue, or on front door as they begin hunt.  It led them to our Wii Remote for their Harry Potter game.

Variations-  This can be any remote or video game you have.  I would suggest "The TV's Boss" and put on your remote control.

CLUE #2
 Foot Sweat Catcher-  leads them to a sock drawer


CLUE #3
 Germs Killer-  Leads them to disinfecting wipes OR any soap dispenser in the house.  

 CLUE #4
 The Stinky Place-  Leads them to the bathroom of course....yes, I live with boys who enjoy bathroom humor.

PRIZE
Their Prizes this year included Erasable Colored Pencils, a clearance Lego Star Wars ship, and a few packs of gum. You can do anything you want, keep it simple and inexpensive!  This isn't Christmas day, just a fun way to begin your year with excitement.


AFTER OUR HUNT 
We took our first day of school pictures after the hunt.  These always go better after they find their prizes, because they have real smiles.





Sunday, August 12, 2018

Draw and Write Through History- MFW Exploration to 1850


Books Used:
Schedule
I have suggested days to do these that go alongside the History or Science* reading the Teacher's manual, but you use your own discretion on how you would like them to fit into your week. If you have a full day, don't feel like you have to add these on that specific day.

  • The Nina- Tu/W               page 6 (repeat from last year if you did Rome to Reformation)
  • Bison* (large mammals) W      page 21
§         Windmills-  Tu               page  24
§         Pilgrim-  W                     page  27
§         Squanto -   Th                page 31

§         Kangaroo* (Marsupials)-  M       page 15
§         Koalas* (Marsupials)- T             page 18

§         Robin* (birds)Th                       page  28

   §         Pirates (coast of Pennsylvania)- W      page 36
   §         Galapagos tortoise* (reptiles)-Th     page  39

Week 18 Pilgrims, Pirates, and Patriots 
   §         Paul Revere-W                               page 42
§         Revolutionary Soldier-  Th              page  47
§         Cannon-  Fr (or next week)            page  52
    
§         Washington praying (Valley Forge) W/Th   page  56

Week 22 Pilgrims, Pirates, and Patriots  (British settlement in Australia)
§         Australia copywork - Tu     page 22
   §         Great Barrier Reef - M        page 12
§         White House-M               page 10

§         Steamboat (Robert Fulton)- Tu  page 25

§         Napoleon-Th/Fri            page  6

§         Sacajawea- Th                  page 13
§         Grizzly Bear - Fri              page 17 

  • Alamo-W                           page 30 
Week 30 Napoleon to Lady Liberty (Gold Rush)
  • Stage Coach-M                    page 35
  • The Gold Miner-Tu           page 38
*I have indicated if it is goes with Science, just in a case like us, you are flipping the science studies and doing Botany first of the year.  If you are doing this too, you will just move those drawings to the corresponding week you study that animal.