Celebrate the Everyday


Why Celebrate the Everyday? I always start my day by repeating to myself Psalm 118:24- "This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." It's a reminder that even in the midst of the mundane and on the hardest of days, there is always something to celebrate, always something to be grateful for! Join me as I document our family's journey of homeschooling our son.

A Week in Review- November 5, 2010

Mary Poppins
Whew! We sure had a busy week! Here's a recap...

Bible: This week we studied more of Matthew. Chapter5, verses 27-42 to be exact. Our memory verse for the week was a continuation of last weeks. "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:12. We dived back into Hero Tales again, which is a favorite of ours. This week we studied George Muller. He was a man of very strong faith that lived in Germany in the early to mid 1800's. He is most known for the children's orphanage he started. During the course of his life he housed, and educated over ten thousand boys and girls at Ashley Downs. Through reading stories about him we learned about character traits such as faith, graciousness, and trust.

Handwriting Without Tears: We continued on with our cursive practice, working specifically on the letters o and w. Zachary is doing very well with handwriting in general. The size and neatness of his writing has improved greatly.

G.U.M. Drops (Grammar): This week we talked a lot about subject/verb agreement as well as subject/noun agreement. Zachary caught on very quickly to these skills and we moved quickly through the lessons each day.

Writing Strands: We took a break from this, this week and will return to it next week.

Spelling Power: Zachary did very well on his tests this week and only required additional study and testing on a few words.

Math: Math went very well this week. We worked on a little bit of everything, double digit multiplication, graphs, fraction. We finished up unit 2 and Zachary did very well on the unit test.
Geography: This was our final week in Canada. Zachary learned a lot about the Canadian-French language as well as the Inuit people, which live in arctic regions of Canada. As a special treat to celebrate Canada we stopped at Tim Hortons for doughnuts. This doughnut and coffee shop is HUGE in Canada with lines out the door most mornings. This company has seemed to take Lansing by storm within the last year with many opening up all across town. Zachary very much enjoyed his box of Timbits, which are doughnut holes in many different flavors.

Science: This week focused mainly on plant life. This is something we already covered in our study of Botany this summer and early fall with our science co-op. We did do a little review but for the most part skipped over it.

Other fun this week...

included his Gym & Swim class at the local YMCA as well as his Vet Science class.

On Thursday this week Zachary was able to go with his friend Hudson to see Mary Poppins on Broadway at the Wharton Center in East Lansing. He LOVED it! The picture at the top of this post shows Zach and his friend Hudson with their tickets.

Below are some fun pictures from Halloween and carving pumpkins.

Picnik collage
Unfortunately, yesterday ended with Zachary coming down with a nasty cold. It sure has knocked him out!

A Week in Review- October 29, 2010

This week has been great! Here is a recap of what we did.

Bible- We are continuing our journey through the book of Matthew. Zach's memory verse this week was Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." Next week we will memorize the second part of that verse. I have been using Jesus Calling as my own personal morning devotional for a while now and absolutely love it! I was so excited to see they had written a version for kids as well. We started using it this week. It is based on different scripture each day and is written as if Jesus is speaking to you. It has been the catalyst for very rich discussions about life, struggles, and obeying God. It is a perfect way to start our day.

HWT- We are continuing our cursive practice. Zach is doing very well.

G.U.M. Drops- Grammar is going well. Some days it makes my head spin but it is for the most part manageable.

Writing Strands- Our creative writing is still going well. I find that the deeper we get into the curriculum the harder it is for him to be totally independent. He loves for me to encourage his progress.

Spelling Power- I am really liking this curriculum. It has been somewhat of an adjustment for Zach to have a spelling test everyday but I think that is just because it is something so new to him. The way this program works is that we took a test at the beginning of the year to determine his placement. Now Monday-Thursday he tests everyday from predetermined lists. He has not seen the words before that day nor has he studied. We take the test and then only study the words he got wrong. We only spend a total of 5 minutes testing and then he has a specific process in which he studies the misspelled words. The next day we start the test with the words he misspelled the previous day and the continue down the list.
Math- We worked a lot on fractions this week. The math is not overly easy in my eyes but not particularly challenging for Zach so I may look the first part of the new year at either a different curriculum or the 5th grade program in our current curriculum. We will see what develops.

Geography- As you can see from the very first photo we started a new country this week. Canada! We stamped Zach's passport, looked up the current exchange rate, and changed our American $20 for Canadian money. Zach's been reading a lot of books on Canada. He did some map work labeling all the Canadian providences. Did you know that more dinosaur bones have been found in Alberta, Canada than any other place in the world? Canada also has more lakes than any other country. One in Manitoba is called Lake Pekwachnamaykoskwaskwaypinwanik. Crazy huh?

Science- This week for the most part we have been learning about food chains and talking about scavenger's and decomposer's. Zach drew a picture and described what a food chain is for his science notebook.

Zach has been reading this book to review for his journal. He seems to be enjoying it. Maybe I will have him post his review of the book here as well. The gist of the book is about Grace Cahill who was a rich, powerful, and mysterious woman. Right before her death she changes her will and that change starts a fast-paced exciting adventure. Grace's grandkids Amy and Dan are orphans, their parents died years ago in a fire. They gather, along with many crazy members of their extended family, for the reading of Grace's will. In her will, Grace selects only certain members of her family to either take a million dollars each, or exchange it for a chance to find the "39 clues", which will lead to a source of unimaginable power. Amy and Dan decide to take the challenge, along with some ruthless and crazy family members. This is a series with currently 10 books. Each book is written by a different author.

Other fun we had this week.....

Zachary is still enjoying his art class at Reach! He takes part in the class every Tuesday from 4-6pm. He is making a lot of neat pottery and I can't wait for everything to be fired so I can see the final products!

On Thursday we got together for a Halloween party with Zach's friends from his science co-op. There was tons of fun had by all!
There seemed to be a very distinct Star Wars theme going on! Zach is all the way to the right in the silver and blue.

On Friday, Zach got to dissect with his Vet Science class. They explored a cow heart, and sheep's lung. I was lucky enough to come home with a sheep's tongue, I say that with great sarcasm! It is currently in my freezer. I am not sure what in the world we are going to do with it but how could I say no to a boy that wants to observe? No way am I going to eat the thing!

Goodbye Botany...Hello.....?- October 22, 2010

We are just starting to wrap up our Botany unit with our science co-op. All the moms in the group and I met for dinner last week to discuss what direction we would like to head in after the holidays. This is the textbook we decided on:
images (3)
Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day
by Apologia

Zach is very excited because it means he gets to study this:
His FAVORITE animal! We will also cover flying insects, birds, and the like. We brainstormed for a while different places we could visit and activities we could incorporate. I am sure without a doubt Zachary is going to LOVE this unit!

Hello....anyone out there?- October 22, 2010

I promise I didn't throw in the towel! I still am very much invested in writing this blog. Life just got busy. Jeremy took a vacation, well actually it was a stay-cation since we didn't go anywhere. I developed a rather nasty head cold that refuses to leave me alone no matter how much I beg and plead. We also took a break from school this past week so that we could enjoy some much needed family time with Jeremy. He has been working such crazy and long hours lately that we've missed him! We have enjoyed hiking through a nature center not too far from our home, as well as a couple movie nights. Jeremy and Zach even got to have a "guy day" visiting Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford near Detroit.

What had we been learning about before our impromptu break you ask? My last recap had us studying the USA. After ending that unit we learned all there is to know about Mexico, and desert biomes. On Monday, we will be leaving Mexico and heading to learn about Canada. Our science unit will be a little more general. We will be looking at food chains, and things of that nature.
Our other subjects have been going great as well. We adore our spelling and writing programs. We enjoy reading through our Hero Tales book in Bible and learning all about different Christian Heroes and the character traits they posses. Next week we will learn about William & Catherine Booth, who were the founders of the Salvation Army. Math and our cursive handwriting programs are all plugging along too.

Zach is greatly enjoying Gym & Swim at our area YMCA. His Vet Science program has been the most fantastic thus far. The opportunities he has had through this class are things he will remember for a lifetime! He is making a lot of new friends and also has kept a few close relationships from last year. He just recently earned his Webelos badge in Scouts and is taking great pride in that. Zach also got accepted into a art class for the next year. It is a free program but there were only a few places in the class. We turned in our application and waited. We were very excited to get the phone call that he was in. This is the same art studio that he participates in a day camp during the summer. The fall term is focusing on sculpting and pottery, which Zach has really been enjoying.

Jeremy and I had a conversation recently about how we both felt homeschooling was working for our family so far. I speak for the both of us when I say we are amazed at the changes we have seen in Zachary. He has completely come out of his shell. He is working better with others even when he doesn't get his way, he is less fearful of taking chances and risks, he wants to try new things, and he has more confidence in himself. I could go on and on. Zachary is a gifted child. The testing we had done last year regarding his intellectual ability has better equipped us in our first year of homeschooling. I truly believe since he has been given the ability to question things, search out his own answers, is being talked to like the intelligent kid he is, and being given the ability to determine some of what he chooses to learn has been a great catalyst for all these positive changes!
Enjoy below some great photographs from our time away from school.

The Week in Review- September 24, 2010

This week was a busy one! This was our first week including all of our outside commitments in with homeschooling. One thing is for sure, I sleep well each night! Above is a picture of Zach doing his schoolwork in his pj's. He thinks this is a pretty cool perk! Don't worry he does get dressed each day, I promise.
On Tuesdays I take Madison to preschool in the morning. Zach and I usually come home and get a good portion of his schooling done before we need to pick her up. To switch things up a bit and to show my appreciation for the hard work Zach has displayed the past couple of weeks we packed up the majority of our studies and headed to our nearest Panera Bread. We got a lot of schoolwork done there while we waited to pick up Madison. The change of venue was fun and the free pastry and coffee I had earned on my rewards card was a great incentive. : )
On Wednesday, we headed to our second YMCA Gym & Swim class. Again Zach did very well in his swimming lessons. Our area Y has a giant tube-like slide in one of the pools. During their free time at the end of swimming lessons, all the kids ran for the slide. Zachary LOVED it! During gym time all the kids played soccer. I definitely have one tired kid at the end! Sorry the YMCA pictures are so blurry....I have a horrible time taking good pictures in that building.
On Thursday we had a a field trip with our Botany class to the home & farm of a bee keeper. I will write more about that in a different post since I have a ton of great pictures.
Friday Zachary had his second Vet Science class. They did some work dissecting owl pellets and also had a visit from a rather large poodle. Using the poodle for an example they learned how to treat and cast an animal with a broken leg. He is loving this class and jumps out of bed each Friday morning looking forward to it.

Here's what we have been working on this past week in our studies.

Bible- We are really starting to dive into our curriculum. We are going to be spending the majority of the year studying the book of Matthew. Zach learned that Matthew is the first book in the New Testament and the start of the gospels. Matthew was a tax collector and left his job to become one of Jesus' 12 disciples. The book of Matthew tells the story of Jesus' birth, boyhood, teaching, healing, crucification, resurrection. We also started reading through a book called Hero Tales. This book is an autobiography about different Christian heroes. This week we read about Dwight Moody. Mr. Moody was one of the founding members of the YMCA and the founder of the Illinois Street Church in Chicago, IL. With each story we read, there is a character trait attached. This week was boldness, repentance, & strength.

Handwriting Without Tears- Continuing with cursive practice.

Spelling Power- We just began this program. We worked this week on a couple different tests to get Zach placed and to know which spelling lists to start him on.

G.U.M. Drops- We have been working on plural nouns, and abbreviations. The end of the week was spent proof reading and correcting a passage from Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.

Math- Zach worked on fractions, and more on double digit multiplication.

Geography- We have started the study of our first country... the United States. We took a look at the different states. Zachary is studying and working to be able to identify them all.
Science- We have been learning about different environments, climates, with a special emphasis on deciduous forests. A good portion of the United States has deciduous forests. I love how our Geography and Science go hand in hand. The above picture is a map Zach worked on this week.

Writing Strands- We have continued to develop the core sentences and have used that information to start work on paragraphs. I cannot believe how far his writing has come.

That was our week in a nutshell. I'm looking forward to slowing down a bit this weekend and then running headfirst into next week.

SHE blogs

I'm blogging here today. SHE blogs is a Women's Ministry blog for Trinity Church, which is where we attend. Please stop by, leave a comment, and laugh along with me at Zach's funny breakfast announcement.

The Week in Review- September 17, 2010


Sorry for the picture quality, I took these with my cell phone. : )

This week marked week two in our journey. We kicked off the majority of our extra-curricular activities. It was busy but I enjoyed it. I've found that I really enjoy teaching and having full, busy days. Not chaotic, stressful days but just comfortably busy. The most surprising thing we have found is how at peace we are and how much homeschooling just fits into our life. I honestly think it is because we are honoring God. We are walking the path he has chosen for us. Don't get me wrong it's not sunshine and rainbows all the time. Thursday, for example was a tough day. Zach just WAS NOT focused and motivated. However, I stood my ground and we got through it.

I know that I have said it before but I LOVE our writing program. Writing is something Zach does NOT enjoy. I think mostly because his brain is SO full of SO many wonderful things that the task of picking ONE thing to write about it so overwhelming for him. The curriculum breaks the creative writing process down into manageable pieces with tons of fun and humor. Wednesday's lesson focused on including numerous pieces of information in one sentence. They gave a core sentence
The boy found the dog. There were then 5 questions to answer to help add additional information to the core sentence.
The questions were:
1. How old was the boy?
2. What color was the dog?
3. What kind of dog did the boy find?
4. What did the boy use to tie the dog?
5. Where was the boy when he found the dog?

This was Zachary's final sentence:
The boy was 10 years old when he found the black Beagle in Papua New Guinea and used an old vine as a leash.

He was so excited when he finished this sentence. It made it easy for him, not stressful! By answering the questions he was able to focus this thoughts!

Wednesday was our first YMCA Gym & Swim class. Although Zachary loves the water, he has never taken any formal lessons. The first hour of this two hour class is devoted completely to swimming instruction. At the top of this post is a picture of Zachary working on his skills. I promise there are more kids in the class but I am careful to not photograph them for my blog since I don't have permission from their parents. After swimming Zachary changed into his gym clothes and got to roller skate for an hour. This was great practice as Zachary is not fully confident on skates. He had a blast! After the Y we raced home and had a quick dinner. I headed to church to volunteer for an event and Zach headed with his Botany friends to a soccer clinic taught by one of the Botany Dad's. Needless to say I had one exhausted kid by the end of the day! Below is a picture of Zach skating!

Friday marked the start of our enrichment day. Every Friday morning from 9am-12:30pm we get together with 30 other families in one location. There are many different classes offered depending on age group. We are very excited as Zachary was able to move up to the 5th-7th grade group and join a Veterinary Science class. He is in this class for 2 hours and then has gym for 30 minutes. Zach's dream is to grow up and be a Veterinarian so he is completely focused! He received his animal first aid kit this morning and he is guarding it with his life. Next week, I hear, stethoscopes and lab coats are on the agenda. The lead teacher is a licensed and practicing Vet which is a tremendous blessing. The group also talked about what they would like to accomplish this semester. It was decided that they would like to dissect a sheep's lung, and a cow heart, among other things. Zachary can hardly wait! Thankfully I am not assigned to that class because I think I would pass out! They also have some field trips planned to Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

That's been our week in a nutshell. I'm just finishing up my lesson plans for next week and I am excited. We really start to dive into to our studies of the world! First up is the United States. We also have a fun field trip with our Botany group to a Bee farm to harvest honey. Stay tuned!

Making a difference in the life of a child- September 1, 2010

I love this picture. I am so proud of my husband for leading these boys!

For my Mother-in-love- August 30, 2010

See...he really does enjoy homeschooling, here's a smile just for you!...Ha! Love you Mom! : )

Potter Park Zoo with Cub Scouts- August 29, 2010

On Sunday, August 29 we joined our Cub Scout Pack for an afternoon at Potter Park Zoo. We enjoyed ourselves very much. It was neat to see a few animals up close. Thanks to the zoo camp Zach attended earlier in the summer he was very knowledgeable about the animals we saw. I think that his love of animals will take him far in life as one day he hopes to become a Veterinarian and work in a zoo. Unfortunately, due to ridiculously high temperatures (92 degrees) we did not stay long but we did enjoy the time we spent!

First Day of School 2010- A week in review- August 27, 2010

Our homeschool journey officially began on Monday, August 23, 2010. The day started off with a bang. Zachary was extremely excited to begin and we raced through our day at break neck speed. We finished everything on the agenda in a little over 3 1/2 hours. Our second day was not the greatest. Some attitude issues started to creep in due to the fact that he had to work on things that were not his favorite (writing). To be honest I wasn't surprised. I'm expecting a period of adjustment as this is something very new and different for the both of us. These issues allowed for a lot of discussion and character development, which again is one of the reasons we chose to homeschool for the fourth grade in the first place.
Academically, our curriculum has been somewhat simple and will be for the first couple of weeks. The groundwork is being laid for our study of the world in Science, Bible, and Geography. The majority of our time this week was spent learning about maps, globes, latitude, longitude, hemispheres, etc. Zachary was able to apply for his (fake) passport. He enjoyed filling out his passport application, filling out his check for the passport fee, and addressing the evelope to the passport office. In Science, he has started learning about niches, communities, and environments. In Bible this week he memorized John 3:16 which begins our study of missionaries, and different religions around the world. In Math, we have been doing some review work. Brushing up on some of the skills that may have gotten a little rusty over the summer. Our grammar curriculum,
G.U.M. Drops (Grammar, Usage, Mechanics), has been a lot of fun. They are short lessons which Zach seems to enjoy. The greatest success thus far as been our writing program. I cannot say enough good things about Writing Strands! Zachary has always despised the writing process and this program has completely engaged him and is making writing fun. We do have a couple of programs we have yet to start. Spelling, for example, starts during week 3.

Well, that about sums up our first week. I am almost done planning our second week and am excited for what is in store!

Before I end this I have to share a funny story. Sunday night as we were tucking Zach into bed he said, "Mom, aren't you going to lay out my school clothes? I said, "Zach, we homeschool you don't need school clothes." To that he replied with a gigantic grin on his face, "Oh yea I can go to school in my underwear if I want." I promise he was wearing clothes come Monday morning and the pictures above and below are my testament. I couldn't help but laugh at my crazy kid!

Woldumar Nature Center- August 26, 2010

We met up with our Botany Boot-camp friends for a scavenger hunt this morning to help review what we have learned thus far. We broke up into teams of 3-4 kids and hiked throughout the trails looking for samples of things like: a monocot, a dicot, angiosperms, etc. The kids has a lot of fun and were rewarded with GIANT marshmallows at the end.
The weather was beautiful and we were treated to an awesome display of butterflies and hummingbirds.
Look very close to the left side of the feeder to see a hummingbird in action! There was probably 4-5 of them in this small flower garden area. It was amazing! I have never seen that many at one time.

On your mark....get set....go!


I can't believe the start of our first homeschool year is only a couple days away! We made our decision over 6 months ago and at that time it seemed like our start date was so far away. Oh how time flies! I actually am finding myself ready for school, and ready for fall. This summer has been so jammed packed that I can't wait for our season of stillness. Cooler weather, Hot Chocolate, Apple Cider, warm flannel pj's, shorter days, soups, stews, and casseroles, along with the routine of school year life all have great appeal right now.

I've spent the majority of the last couple of days making sure everything is ready. Copies have been made, materials have been sorted, assignments have been planned, and books have been requested from the library. I think that we are as ready as we will ever be! If our family comes to mind next week please pray for success. Oh and patience for me because I'm sure I'm going to need a huge dose of it. On second thought maybe you shouldn't pray for patience...you know what they say about praying for it..... ; )

Frederick Meijer Gardens- July 29, 2010

Today our Botany Boot-camp group headed to Frederick Meijer Gardens for a class on carnivorous plants. To say Zachary was excited is an understatement! He LOVES learning about these types of plants. He has devoured so much information on the subject I dare say he may be an expert!
Our day started with a tour of the carnivorous plant exhibit. We even got to go back behind the scenes in the greenhouses to where they grow the specimens for the exhibit.
We then headed to a classroom to look more closely at the various carnivorous plants. We learned that a Venus Flytrap really only needs to "eat" 1-2 insects per year to survive.
The highlight for Zach was being able to dissect a Pitcher plant. One of them was full of the lovely remnants of bugs it had eaten.
Finally, we were taken on a tour of the rest of the indoor gardens. The blown glass that was on display amongst the various plants was breathtaking!
The tour concluded our organized time at the gardens however we decided to stay and have lunch and explore the outside a little bit. The boys had fun running around and the adults enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Enjoy the following pictures from our day. You can click on any picture to make it larger.
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MSU Children's Garden- July 8, 2010

Today with our Botany group we headed to the Children's Garden at MSU. The gardens feature over 56 themed areas. Zachary's favorite was the dinosaur garden which featured plants that survived the dinosaur era. His favorite was the large Ginko Tree. 029
My favorite was the Pizza Garden. Which was planted in a pie shape and included ingredients needed to make a pizza. The boys had fun running around the gardens and looking for plants on their scavenger hunt!
Here is Zach scrubbing his teeth with a sage leaf. Miss Jessica, our tour guide told us they make a great substitute
for a tooth brush!
This bee was fun to see since our most recent lessons were on pollination! We learned that a colony of bees decide each day which single kind of flower to collect nectar from and only feed from those plants. This is what enables plants to be pollinated since they can only be pollinated from one of their own kind.

After heading inside to work on a necklace that will sprout a plant we headed outside again to work on some flower paintings.
The kids got to run around the annual flower garden and pick flower heads that they then rubbed on watercolor paper to create a beautiful piece of art.
Although it was raining, the kids didn't mind and it actually made their paintings that much more vibrant. Zachary's favorite flowers were red geraniums and orange marigolds.
We had such a great time today, even though we encountered some rain. The boys could have cared less!

Our next trip is to the Frederick Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids on July 29th. We will be visiting and learning about carnivorous gardens and plants. Zachary cannot wait!!