Monday, May 16, 2016

Falling in Love with Homeschooling!

A year of kindergarten.
This stack of papers might not seem that momentous to you, but to me, it is a year of kindergarten accomplished! A year of perseverance, day by day, preparing lessons, sitting down with my kindergartner, keeping the younger kids occupied, and teaching home school.

I went to public school and then a Christian college, but I never had much experience personally with home schooling until I became a parent. My husband, who also went to public school, was the one to really encourage me to try home schooling and stick with it. He saw the value in it, and even though I did too, he was my main motivator to keep me going in the beginning.

As we began, I tended to look at the overwhelming big picture of preschool through high school home schooling and definitely sensed how big of a commitment that was. And it is a huge commitment! But, as I've gone, I've realized the take it day by day, moment-by-moment, approach helps keep me sane. That stack of papers proves it. We have made much progress since last August! And one day we'll cross the finish line of graduation.

School in our pajamas!
I've also realized how much I've fallen in love with homeschooling as I've continued in it. This is my third year teaching my daughter, with two years of preschool before, and this our kindergarten year. We've accomplished reading! A significant achievement and confidence builder for myself as a first time kindergarten teacher and for my little girl who is very smart, but reading hasn't come easily or naturally. I was the same way, struggling in reading early on, and then majoring in English. So we keep persevering and it is starting to snowball. I've also treasured how special it is to know that I've been the main teacher in my child's life, from the very beginning with "this is the letter A."

At Denver City Park on a field trip.
We've enjoyed discovering more about our daughter this year. She is a dancer! We realized this after putting her in a free church musical program, where she ended up knowing every dance move and not missing a beat. She loves the arts and I'm so glad I can foster our schooling towards her strengths. We may try a Christian dance group this upcoming year. She does weekly gymnastics and now practically cart wheels around the house instead of walking. We've seen her greatly improve in her form and abilities. She has had the opportunity to take a weekly art class at a local Christian school and has loved learning more about different types of art. She's also done great in weekly AWANA, memorizing Bible verses with friends.

At the Denver Museum of Nature and Science!
What I love about homeschooling:

  • Not running around. Probably one of the biggest perks in my mind. I hate to be busy and I'm not a morning person. We wake up slowly, enjoy the morning as a family, and I don't have to hustle and bustle the kids around. 
  • More focused teaching, more time to play. Our one-on-one homeschooling allows us to accomplish more focused teaching, more learning in a shorter period of time, and a lot more time to go outside and play
    Playing outside on a beautiful day!
  • Flexibility. I love the flexibility in our schooling hours. I can work around other events or ministries, coffee with friends, nice weather, etc. We can do school in the mornings on colder days, allowing the kids to be outside when it's warmest, or do school in the afternoons on the warmer days, allowing the kids to be outside when it's not unbearably hot. 
  • Bible. We teach Bible in our home school. It is prioritized on a daily basis right up there with English and Math. I value that we can have the freedom to study our faith and learn the Bible together as a family. The kids also do weekly AWANA, and this allows us plenty of time to memorize our weekly verses.
  • More opportunities as they grow. I know several high school home schoolers who can take advantage of opportunities that their peers can't because of their more flexible schooling schedules. They can take babysitting jobs during the day and get their school work done in the evening, or volunteer in a field that interests them while their peers are in the confines of a classroom.
  • A personalized approach. As parents, we know our children best. Each child is different and learns in a unique way. Homeschooling allows a parent to teach their children the way they best succeed. And besides, parents are the biggest fans of their children, with an affinity and care that flows naturally into the homeschooling classroom.
  • Community with other homeschooling families. I'm very thankful to have a supportive group of fellow homeschooling moms that I can go through this journey with. We have a wonderful time on field trips together and just having coffee together sometimes while our kids play.
    Day in the mountains with good friends and a fellow homeschooling family!

  • A frugal option. I thought I should mention this since my blog is about living frugally. We do home school on the cheap! Last year, I spent maybe $50 on home school supplies. There is so much available these days on the Internet and I have been creating my own curriculum. Even with buying a curriculum, homeschooling is an affordable option besides public schooling.  

We are already gearing up for an abundant year of home school next year. I'll have two children to teach, a full time first grader and a four year old who will start official home school preschool. As with this year, I'm planning on pulling together my own curriculum using various resources online. I'm taking the rest of May and June off, and will start in July, trying a "year-round" model of homeschooling with more frequent, but shorter breaks. I've enjoyed trying new ways of doing homeschooling, too, throughout the past few years, to figure out what works best for us.

My classroom of three.
Through it all, homeschooling has certainly grown on me! In fact, now I love it! I know homeschooling doesn't work for every family, but I've realized more and more that it works wonderfully for us. The days aren't usually glamorous. Sometimes I don't even leave the house, and it's still somehow a mess. But I've realized that I have a heart for teaching, that I grew up around teachers and have a degree in education, and I'm so grateful that I can use that passion and gift with my precious children at home.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Do I really have to love my enemies? Surely the Lord understands my grudges.



“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." 
Matthew 5:43-48

Do I really have to love my enemies? 

Many of us who consider ourselves Christ-followers live like we do not, and that somehow the Lord is alright with this. However, I think the Lord is clear on this matter. Yes, you must love your enemies, as a son or daughter of the Father. There is no room for grudges or turning our backs or withholding forgiveness as a believer. In fact, we must do the opposite and move toward our enemies in love.

It is absurd that we, who all were enemies of God, who were sought out by the Father at the expense of His own Son, who were completely forgiven, covered with grace, made to be His own children, co-heirs with Christ, say in our lifestyle, "Sorry, Lord, you must understand that I cannot love that person and I will not forgive them." 

Yes, Christian, it is hard, it is death to self, and it is simply beyond the capacity of a human, sinful heart. But, it is the Gospel and it is powered by the Holy Spirit within our new hearts. 

And when someone causes us pain, we can rest in our brotherhood with our Lord Jesus, the most elevated example to us of love for our enemies. He was betrayed by his closest friends, mocked by the crowds he came to save, and hated unto death for his message. We can rest in his words of shared suffering, "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first." John 15:18 

Will people hate you because of the Christ who resides within you, Christian? Oh yes, they will. If you live by the Spirit, it will cause you persecution, no matter where you reside in this world. It will cause you to see the type of hatred that the Lord saw. But rest in His words that you are sharing in His power, "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved." 
Matthew 10:22

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

So what do we do when we experience this hatred? The world says to hate back, to walk away from the relationship, to give a cold shoulder, and that such a response is completely justifiable. There's nothing unique or honorable about this type of response. It is what most people do.

Yet, perhaps the reason that a hateful person has been put into your life is so that you can show them the Gospel. And you show them the Gospel by doing what the natural man cannot do; you love them. You sincerely pray for their good. You serve them. You let your own reputation be stained by them, and you refuse to slander. You entrust yourself to the Lord, who will reward you, and will use your love as a testimony of His love toward this person. Because He loves them, just as He loved you before you knew Him, when you hated Him, too.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 1 John 4:20

And if we consider ourselves Christ-followers and live a life of grudges and resentment, this is cause for heart-evaluation. We have desperately wicked hearts that can deceive us, and there is a real battle going on by a real enemy who wants to keep people deceived, blinded, in church, and utterly lost.

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Matthew 7:21

Have you experienced hatred for the Gospel that lives within you? I've personally experienced this type of hate several times since becoming a Christian. Each time, I've also experienced a deeper understanding of the Father and the assurance of His work in me, as well as the reality of spiritual warfare. I've experienced the joy of His sufferings as I'm hated for His name. It is truly being crucified with Christ to respond in love toward one's enemies, and yet it causes inexpressible joy to suffer with Him. 

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. Luke 6:22-23

And when I have been tempted to play the game back, to follow my flesh and be spiteful and bitter, the Lord has disciplined me and rebuked me, "No, not my child... you will not act that way. Other people may act that way, but I will not let you do that as my child." It reminds me of how my husband and I discipline our own children out of love for them; you will not act that way, even if the other kids do.

So take heart Christian, acquainted with sorrows, rejected by men. You are the "fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life" (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). 

Many will turn away from Jesus, but some will find the narrow way. Keep loving in this hostile world, keep speaking Life without the fear of man, and what a powerful testimony of God's love you will be when you love even those who hurt you. 

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18a

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Working on next year's home school

Our six year old next to "Goliath"

We've been having a fun year of kindergarten home school with our oldest child and most recently, our three and a half year old has started basic preschool! I'm planning ahead for next year as we'll have a first grader and preschooler. Things are getting busy around here!

There are so many wonderful and free resources on the Internet, that I'm planning on spending very little on our home school next year, but instead pulling together a lot of it myself. I thought I'd share a few great sites for you in case you're interested or want to just work on some things with your children at home for free:

Pinterest: Pinterest is a wonderful tool. Just type in whatever topic you're planning to teach and a whole lot of ideas pop up. I pin them by subject so I can find them down the road when my younger kids are learning about the same topic again.

Teachers Pay Teachers: Another wonderful site. Sign up for a free account and then you can search for items based on grade, subject, and even if the items are free (some do cost money).

3 Dinosaurs: A blogger with a ton of useful content and printables. I used this blog for our kindergarten phonics (CVC words, sight words, etc...).

K12 Reader: A complete spelling curriculum for 1st-5th grade! Need I say more. Spelling, check.

Worksheet Works: Make your own handwriting practice printables to say whatever you want! There's also helpful math, science, and calendar printables. I used this site to create handwriting printables for our Bible curriculum next year. We'll be going through Proverbs, and each week, we'll have a theme verse to copy. You can choose print, cursive, or pre-cursive practice.

Let me know if you have any free home school resources that you use! What a blessing to have the worldwide web at our finger tips... There's an abundance of home school resources out there!






Saturday, January 16, 2016

Life hack: Extend the life of your kids' dress shoes!





I'm probably not the first person to come up with this, but since I did indeed come up with it without seeing it done by anyone else first, I'm claiming it as my own little "life hack." :)

My children tend to be rough on their shoes. I'm sure this is a common problem! If your little one has black dress shoes that are scuffed, here's a little trick I've discovered to make those shoes appear newer and nicer.

Take a black permanent marker and simply color in the scuff marks... Voila! That's it! You may need to reapply the marker after several more wears. I guess I've perfected this skill during my year of not buying clothes/shoes.

So there you have it, a simple way to extend the life of your little ones' shoes and "make do" with what you have. Besides, they'll probably outgrow their shoes quicker than it's worth to buy a whole brand new pair!


Thursday, December 31, 2015

$0 Clothing Budget for 2015 is coming to a close!


A year ago, I made a big, crazy Fru-Gal resolution to spend $0 on clothes in 2015... the year has already gone by and I'm sure you're interested in how we managed. So did we make it all year without buying clothes for our family of five?

Yes and no... we managed to not spend any money on clothes this year out of our normal clothing budget, but we did buy some items with gift money (birthdays, holidays). That was a lifesaver with the kids... there were some unforeseen expenditures such as school uniforms or shoes that got outgrown too quickly and so on.

Personally, I think I could have gone all year without spending money on myself quite easily, but the kids were more of a challenge. 

I've learned throughout the year that I can, more often than not, get by with what we have instead of buying things just because they were a good deal or I thought we "needed" them or I had an urge to shop. It also allowed me to trust in God and see His provision in so many ways.

To be truthful, I'm looking forward to being able to shop and spend money on clothes and not having to worry about how much we have in gift money reserves. However, I'm also hopeful and a little more prepared to curb the unnecessary purchases as much as possible. 

How are you doing on your frugal living journey? I don't have any big, crazy frugal resolution for 2016 but I do hope to find new, bigger ways to live a generous life. Thanks for joining me in the journey!

Frugal living for the grace of giving. 

From our family to yours, God bless you in 2016.