Friday, January 27, 2012


Why is it so easy to get burdened down with comparisons?  I know one thing, it starts early in life.  "I can't take that little pink purse to Kids Zone!  It's not big and fancy like so and so's purse."  You have a small purse and it will hold what you need. I mean what does she really need in her purse?!?
What does it matter?

To a six year old girl it does matter.
To a not even closely near to six year old girl it also matters.  More than I she wants to admit's just not about purses...even though, if you have a new Vera Bradley, purses may matter.

New moms are particularly brutal with comparisons.  We tend to choose teams early on and never the twain shall meet:  formula feeding vs breast feeding, regular diapers vs cloth, crib sleeping or co-sleeping, forward facing vs rear facing, vaccinations vs non-vacs, Chuck E. Disease goers vs non-Chuck E. Disease goers (yes, I am raising a Chuck E. deprived child) goes on and on.  It doesn't get any better as the kids grow up either. As human beings, we tend to flock to those that share a common bond and shun those who don't.  Is it for solidarity and support or is it a true superiority mindset?  Mixture of both, I'm sure.
Misery loves company.  Kidding.  Ties that bind make us feel secure. Why would you try to discuss successes or failures with someone that doesn't understand where you are really coming from? I told a friend once that discussing homeschool related challenges with a non-homeschooling mom is like discussing spiritual things with someone who doesn't even go to church. It doesn't make sense to do so and may put you in an even more confused state when they offer their point of view, which, from the start, is far off base from yours.

My comparisons (and I think it's a common thread for most) stem from insecurities.

One of the first things pieces of advice you will receive when you start homeschooling is not to fall into the trap of comparing your child (or your academic choices) to their public school peers.  That's one reason why you are choosing to homeschool...customized education.  What does it matter what the public schools are teaching or at what level? It's also important, for your own sanity, not to compare your homeschooling journey to others' homeschooling journeys.  It can be just as torturous as thinking about the public schools. It is a great, sound recommendation.  It's just hard to put it into practice.
I have an upcoming review for an online reading/math enrichment program and Julianna had to do assessment tests to determine the level for the program to start.  Ugh.  I turned it on for her and let her complete them independently.  She scored higher in some areas/lower in others, but overall came in lower than she "should" be.  Double ugh.  Not what I wanted.  Did she not listen to the directions?  She does have a habit of clicking through quickly without listening to all the instructions.  Does she have learning issues that I'm not facing? All the results do is feed into my distresses.
If I were teaching her the "right" way or the "right" things, she wouldn't have these problems.  
If she were in school she would be doing... 
Another teacher would be able to teach her... 
If I hadn't chosen to homeschool she would be testing at levels of... 
If I would have gone with such and such curriculum...



"What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee." Psalms 56:3

This is only our second year homeschooling and for whatever reasons it has been a tough, tough year.  Struggle after struggle. An uphill battle from the beginning.

But God.

We attended a conference in Northern Virginia before beginning our homeschool journey and the speaker (Michael Smith, President HSLDA - He was awesome!) did a session on "The Three Be's of Homeschooling": 
Be steadfast (consistently, firmly/loyal - committed to homeschooling), Be immovable (do not give up) and Be abounding (filled) in your work.  He used the following scripture:

"It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil--for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep." Psalms 127:2, Amplified

His point was
do not waste time or lose sleep worrying over things, God
will fill in the gap.  

When the doubts and insecurities creep inI will choose to stand on His promises and not compare where we are in our educational pursuits to others. 

I will not let comparison steal my joy. 

The joy of having the front row seat as Julianna learns every day.
The joy of raising her in a protected environment where we can control what she is exposed to.
The joy of listening to her sing praises to Jesus as she is doing her work or playing.
The joy of the privilege to be able to homeschool.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TOS Review - We Choose Virtues

I'm not sure if it is common place in this day and time or it's only common place in my household, but kids are clearly lacking in the area of character development. Are poor character traits a learned behavior?  Are they innate?  Is it just the status quo for our world today?  Regardless of the origin, I'll take any guidance in instilling good morals into Julianna.  One of our helps is coming from We Choose Virtues

From their website:
We Choose Virtues (created by Heather McMillan) is not unit study that you use once and then move on from. It is actually a character development tool that you use  every day, every year. You introduce the Virtues, then demonstrate them, memorize the catchphrases, then learn the antonyms, then capture teachable moments when they are being used…or aren’t.

The 12 Virtues in the Early Childhood/Elementary set are:  I am Diligent,  I am Kind, I am Honest, I am Obedient, I am Forgiving, I am Perseverant, I am Gentle, I am Obedient, I am Self-Controlled, I am Content, I am Honest and I am Attentive. (Actually, us adults can benefit from these Virtues too, huh?)

There are six different character kits that are available:  Family (ages 3-18), Homeschool (ages 3-18), Faith-Based School (ages 3-11), Kid's Church/Sunday School (ages 3-11), Community Schools (ages 3-11) and Mentoring (ages 12-18). You can also purchase items (posters, coloring book, Teacher's Handbook, etc.) individually. 

My musings:
We were given a set of the new Virtue Clues cards, as well as, the Teacher's Handbook and coloring book (both downloadable PDFs) as part of our review package. Each character trait you teach has a "Virtue Kid" that goes along with it.  For example, when teaching "Forgiving", you have Feather Heather (her picture is on front of the Teacher's Handbook) to use as a visual reminder.  The characters are so cute!   I am totally in love with the graphics that are used. The website also has several free downloadables you can use to supplement the program, including memory verses and Bible heroes and individual and family assessment forms.The clue cards are basically reminder cards of what the virtue is, what it is not and challenges the child to demonstrate the virtue throughout the day.  I will admit, I was a little lost as to how to implement the cards into our day, even using the Teacher's Handbook. What I ended up doing was, Julianna would choose a card at the start of our day, we would read it, (talk about how cute the character was...well, I would), review the Bible hero story and memory verse that went along with it (from the free download sheet) and then discussed examples of ways we could implement it throughout our day.  I was going to hang it up as a reminder, but wasn't consistent with that part.  My bad. Unfortunately, Julianna isn't a big coloring page type of girl (even though they turn out lovely when she does them), so we didn't end up doing many.  After seeing the materials they have on their site, I think I might invest in the Parent or Teacher Virtue Cards to use in our home.  I love the activity ideas on the teacher cards, but will probably buy the parent cards because, even though they have less information/ideas to use, they are much cheaper...keeping it real.  :-)  

Julianna's musings:
"I have a hard time remembering to do the stuff on the cards.  The pictures are sorta cute." 

Check out the We Choose Virtues line of products if you are interested in implementing character development activities in your homeschool (or you just want to look at the cute characters.)  

**Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was given a set of the We Choose Virtue Clue Cards, Teacher Handbook and coloring book in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was received.**

Friday, January 6, 2012

TOS Review - Zeezok Publishing - Z-Guide to the movies

If you know my daughter even a tiny bit you will know she is crazy over all things American Girl. Saying she loves them is an understatement.  (As I type this, she is staging her dolls in preparation to make her own AG movie. Budding movie director...amongst a million other things.) So when we were given the opportunity to review the Z-Guide to the Movies for the Kit Kittredge: An American Girl movie, we were all over it. 

What is a Z-Guide? From the Zeezok website:
If your student enjoys watching movies, we just made it easy for you to incorporate them into your curriculum. We have dozens of guides— each of them falling within a specific time in history. All of the guides contain ten educational activities that build upon the movie. The guides are movie specific. We tell you exactly which movie we used, and almost all are available thru Netflix. Most you can probably get through your local library. So you don’t even need to buy the movie to use our guides!

The guides are designed to be used as a supplement to you history curriculum. Each one is laid out as follows:
  • Topic overview (period of history and a summary of the movie)
  • Activities (review questions, research topics, hands-on activities, worldview activities, etc.)
  • Family Discussions questions
  • Answer keys
My musings:
Kit's movie is a favorite in our house and being able to add the movie guide to it was fun.  The guide is listed at an Elementary level, but I would say it is upper Elementary, at least 3rd grade and above.  Since Julianna is only in 1st grade, I had to adapt the activities that we did.  For example, the directions for the first activity, answer review questions, asks the student to fill them out while they are watching the movie.  As a beginning reader/writer, I asked her the questions after the movie was over (and she got them almost all correct.)  We did discuss some of what The Great Depression was, but we're not at the point of doing research yet.  The hands on activity suggested doing a Powerpoint presentation of Great Depression fashions.  Instead, I had her draw what a dress she made out of a chicken feed sack would look like (In the movie, out of necessity, Kit and some friends have to have dresses made out of chicken feed sacks. Julianna's dress was a fashionable shade of green.) I can definitely see us using this again in the future when we study The Great Depression era in greater detail.   One of the greatest features? Zero teacher prep! Got to love that.

Julianna's musings:
"I love Kit's movie. I liked answering the questions. Kit is the next doll I want to get."

If you want to incorporate a movie into your history curriculum, check out Zeezok to see if they have a guide available. They have Elementary thru High School guides for a wide range of historical periods. They are affordable too, $12.99.

*Disclaimer: As a member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a copy of Z-Guide to the Movies: Kit Kittredge: An American Girl in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was given.*

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012

Yesterday we took down all our Christmas decorations...this is depressing for me.  I love how festive and homey the decorations make the house feel.  *sigh*  I just hate that Christmas is over. It passed in a blur and next year, I will not let that happen again.

I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions...mostly because I never keep them, so why set myself up for failure..., but they had the kids write resolutions in Kids Zone the other night, so I thought I would share Julianna's:

1.  Praise more.
2.  Listen to your parents (Let the church shout "Amen!")
3.  Invite more people to church.
4.  Love your neighbors and friends.
5. Love Jesus more.
6.   Praise God more.

Aren't those sweet?  I'm going to steal hers...just don't tell her - she gets feisty.

Happy New Year, everyone!  I pray 2012 is full of nothing but good things for you and your family.  XOXO