Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Evaluating our School Year: Hymns

This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year.  I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make.  I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  
~
 
Well, to make up for the last post on Memory Work that went on and on and on..... (bless you, those of you who made it to the end!).... this post will be short and sweet.  

Hymns
Here is a list of the hymns we learned this past year:
 
A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Great is Thy Faithfulness
How Great Thou Art
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
Blessed Assurance
I Surrender All 
There is a Fountain


WHAT WE DID:
I printed these out-- one at a time-- and one verse at a time, we learned these hymns.  We sang a verse every morning.  For a whole week we might only sing one verse, and then the following week (or whenever I thought we knew it well), I would add another verse, and so on.  

Eventually I plan to get some slender binders and add all the hymns we've learned into them so that we can have our own "family hymn book". 

Here's an older post I wrote that lists other resources, too: Hymn Study

Monday, July 25, 2016

Evaluating our School Year: Memory Work [with links to all other memory work posts]

This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year.  I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make.  I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  

If you're just joining us for this series, so far I've covered:
Evaluating our School Year: Poetry 
Evaluating our School Year: Bible Time
Evaluating our School Year: Prayer
~

Memory Work
Memory work is anything we memorize throughout the school year, so I guess poetry and hymns  could fall beneath this heading, too, but I have those listed separately on our schedule.  We've done all sorts of things within this category in previous years, including photos of famous landmarks, a catechism, creeds, and lots and lots of Scripture.
For several years we used this format:
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I wrote our verses out on index cards and sometimes doodled pictures to go with them, and then we'd pull one or two out each day and work on memorizing them.

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Now that we're memorizing longer passages this isn't quite as practical, but I still do index cards for the single verses we memorize.

For our longer passages, I type it out and then print out a page for each child.  Those get tucked into page protectors (to keep spills and dirty fingers off the paper, since we do Morning Time at breakfast) and put them all into the Morning Time binder.  When we get to Memory Work on the schedule, I then pass a sheet out to each child.
  
We do Memory Work daily, and each morning we do a REVIEW verse (or two), as well as a NEW verse (or two).  I'll start by reading the verses, and then a few days in I'll ask who thinks they can tackle it. 

When I think we have the verse down-- after maybe a week or two, we'll move on.
For a longer passage, we will do all the previous learned verses as review and then tag on a new verse each day.  I also will sometimes write up the longer passages on our dry erase board so they're visible at other times of the day for our readers.

***

This is what we memorized this year:
From the Bible:
Psalm 19*
Psalm 33:5*
Psalm 105:1-45
Proverbs 15:28
Proverbs 18:21
Luke 2:1-20
Luke 6:45

Other memory work:
Books of the Old Testament*
Family Ways (1-21)--I used Clay and Sally Clarkson's book Our 24 Family Ways and edited them for our family, changing up the wording sometimes, adding some, and omitting some altogether.
 
(*The starred ones refer to passages|memory work we reviewed from a previous year.)

Heading into Christmastime, we memorized Luke2:1-20.  I split up the verses like this and the kids each had a copy and they would draw or doodle a picture for each verse.  They LOVED this, so we'll try to do this again.



Memorizing is really tricky for Adelia (8), in particular.  She needs a lot of help from us in "feeding" her the words; the lines.  This can be a bit exasperating for the rest of us, because 1)she is always the first to volunteer for anything and 2)she really wants to have her own turn to recite the twelve verses she's "memorized", but she really doesn't know it well at all and it can be a bit pain-staking and require much patience from us.  (It came up in my end-of-the-year evaluations with one of the older kids, which is why I'm mentioning it.)

This is one of those things that's challenging about having younger kids and older kids in the mix.  I want my older kids to be challenged, but the younger girls sort of need things on their level, too.  However, we're doing it all together and even when the girls are allowed to "opt out" of something, they don't want to, because they want to be big and do what their older siblings are doing.  Which works fine most of the time but sometimes it doesn't.  Oh well.  This is one of those times where the Lord in His perfect wisdom is growing us all in patience and in bearing with one another.  ;)

***

Apparently I've written a lot about our memory work.  Apparently it's my favorite thing or something, because this next list took me quite awhile to put together.  So.  Here is a list of my other memory work posts, if you're interested:


from 2006:
A Favorite: ABC Bible Verses
Our Memory Verses

from 2007, with a list of easy-to learn verses: 
Scripture Memorization,

from 2010:
Memory Work Box
Memorizing our Theme Passage (with links to some of our favorite Scripture-memory CDs)
Ten Verses Cards (when I chose ten different verses for each child to memorize)
Verses for a Two-Year-Old

from 2011:
Honoring Daddy (when we put into practice one of the verses we'd been memorizing)
2010-11 Year in Review: Memory Work

from 2013:
First day of School (with pictures of some of our catechism cards)

from 2014:
Our Simple Schedule, Part 3: (Bible, memory work, poetry)

from 2016:
Mid-year Morning Time Review

Also, here is a link to some FREE printable ABC Scripture Memory Cards that another mom created, if you don't want to put together your own.  ;)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Breakfast Of Choice

I'm sure I've mentioned that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I almost always eat different things than the kids-- I'll make them muffins or scones or pancakes or coffee cake, but I rarely eat those things for all the calories (except those Raspberry White Chocolate Scones.  I ate TWO).  So if I can squeeze in ten minutes to make myself breakfast and about five minutes to eat it, I am a happy girl. :)  This is much easier when I'm not trying to homeschool, also, so summertime is such a treat for me.

Now you get to hear about my Breakfast Of Choice for the past several days.  I'll keep eating it as long as I have ripe tomatoes in the garden and crusty bread, because YUM.


I take a piece of french bread or sourdough and toast it.  While that's toasting, I head outside to pick some fresh tomatoes (these are Sungold) and some fresh basil leaves.  Then I spread or crumble some chevre cheese on top of the toast (maybe 1-2 tsp), and fry up an egg or two and dump it on top of the toast.  I then slice the tomatoes and snip or tear the basil on top and then top it all off by drizzling some balsamic reduction over it all.  It is so delicious.  And it makes me so happy.


Is your mouth watering?  Do this. Or some variation of it.

My kids had breakfast cookies, which they were quite happy about:


I even added mini M&M's.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Evaluating our School Year: Prayer

This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year.  I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make.  I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  

~

Prayer
WHAT WE DID:
Directly following our Bible time, we had a prayer time together.  This was a really sweet time for us each morning, and until this year, I hadn't attempted it.  Sure, we have always prayed before each mealtime, but we hadn't set aside a prayer time like this.  Right now all of our kids are old enough that we are able to do this, and it was such a welcome addition to our mornings.

Most days I would simply ask, "What can we pray for today?" and often the kids would remember the various needs of family members and friends, needs in our own home or in the world.  We prayed a LOT for the refugees this year (thank you, my sweet Audra, who wanted to pray for them every.single.morning).  And we prayed a lot for the presidential candidates.  We also prayed for our Compassion kids.

Since our prayer time followed our Bible time, we would also often pray about what we'd read or learned.  Sometimes by that time we'd already had a rough morning with bickering or a stressed mommy, and one of my kids would pipe up, "We could pray for peace for the rest of our school day."  And so we did.

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I wrote all of these prayer requests down on our morning time sheet for that day.

Then each of us would select one or two things to cover in prayer, and we prayed for 5-10 minutes.

At some point during the year I encouraged the kids to begin their prayers with a "Thank You, God, that You are ___________ " type-praise.  I want them to learn to come before God with adoration and praise for Who He is, not just to Him for something.  So this was a good, hopefully habit-forming practice that we kept up.  I actually have made a note on my planning list for this next year to cover some of the attributes of God in our morning time, but I haven't fleshed that out yet.  (Does anyone know any good resources for that?)

We will continue to do prayer the same way next year! 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Evaluating our School Year: Bible time

This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year.  I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make.  I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  

~

Bible
WHAT WE DID:
Every day, the first thing we do during our morning time is to read from the Bible or a Bible story bookI've written before about my two favorite Bible story books.  This year we read Hurlbut's- just a page or two each morning, not even always finishing the section.

Here are some of the things we do for Bible time narrations:
1. Stop after reading a paragraph or two and call on one of the kids (surprise!) to narrate it for me.
2. Ask questions at the end of the reading time:  "Adelia, tell me about ____________"Isaac, can you describe ____________?"
3. Utilize our dry erase board for sketching out the story itself.  (I'll break up the story into parts and have each child take one part and draw it on the board.  Then we'll show daddy at lunchtime and
each child can re-narrate his/her part to him.)
4. Utilize our dry erase board for writing up the "characters" from the story and listing what we learned about them. Generally I have the pen, and I'll say, "Okay, what did we learn about __*insert name here*___   from this passage?" and the kids will call things out and I'll write them all down.


Towards the end of the year we also read the "Proverb of the Day".  [So, the first day of the month we read Proverbs chapter 1, the second day of the month we read Proverbs chapter 2, etc.]  One of my oldest would read the chapter aloud, and then I would generally ask all the kids if any parts/verses stood out to them and we'd talk about it.

All of our Bible time ends in some sort of conversation or discussion, and it is nearly always my favorite time of the day.  I love hearing my kids' observations on the Scripture we read.

CHANGES FOR NEXT YEAR:
My older two have requested that we skip the Bible story books and read straight from the Bible. This is what we'll do for next year.  (I have kept the Bible story books in our rotation for the sake of the little girls, because so much of what we do is geared toward the older kids that I have to work to try to keep some things *younger* for them.) 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones


Well.  I have officially decided that everyone needs to make these.

There's a coffee shop in town that has similar scones and they're amazing. But not as amazing as these.

In fact, even though we ate them hours ago, Isaac just said to me,  "Mommy, thanks again for breakfast.  I can't get over how good those were."

From batch #2: using frozen raspberries that had been partially thawed.

I've adapted the recipe slightly from the original recipe found on pickycook.com and she has great step-by-step instructions with photos on there if you're interested.

Here is what you'll need:

8 T unsalted butter, frozen and grated*
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup buttermilk (original recipe calls for whole milk; I didn't have any so I subbed buttermilk)
1/2 cup sour cream 
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon table salt 
the zest of one lemon 
1/4 cup of white chocolate chips
turbinado sugar (or regular) for sprinkling on top

*I have never in my whole life even heard of freezing and then grating the butter prior to reading this recipe, and it is GENIUS.  When a recipe calls for cutting in butter (for scones, struedel, and pie crusts), from here until my dying day, I will be doing This Brilliant Thing.  (My own stick of butter was refrigerated and after reading the recipe, I threw it in the freezer while I picked berries from our yard, so mine was only in the freezer for maybe 10 minutes, but still.)


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and start grating your stick (8 T) of butter.  Then put your grated butter into the freezer.

2. Whisk together buttermilk (1/2 cup) and sour cream (1/2 cup) in a small bowl; refrigerate until needed.

3. Whisk flour (2 cups), sugar (1/2 cup), baking powder (2 tsp), baking soda (1/4 tsp), salt (1/2 tsp) and the zest of one lemon into a medium bowl.

4. Add the frozen, grated butter to the flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.

5. Add buttermilk and sour cream mixture to the flour mixture; folding with a rubber spatula until just combined.

6. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface.  (I used floured parchment paper.)  Sprinkle flour on the dough and knead the dough with your hands a few times, until it just holds together in the general shape of a ball, adding flour as needed if it's too sticky.

7. Roll the dough into an approximate 12-inch square. Then fold the dough into thirds (as you would a business letter) and transfer the dough to a plate lightly dusted with flour and put it back into the freezer for 5 minutes.

8. Take the dough out of the freezer, and transfer it to a piece of floured parchment paper or a silpat and roll out again if needed (12-inch square).  Sprinkle fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips evenly over the surface of the dough, then gently press them a bit into the dough.

9. Roll the dough to form a log, and then lay seam-side down and press down on the top of the log,  slightly flattening it.  Using a sharp, floured knife, cut the log into scone-looking triangles.

10. Brush tops with some melted butter and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake until the tops are browning, 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven.



A note on using fresh or frozen raspberries: 

For my first batch, batch #1, I used fresh raspberries.  I had briefly washed them and then scattered them on a paper towel to dry off.

For batch #2, I used raspberries from the freezer, partially thawed, and they were decidedly wetter when pressing them into the dough.  Although the scones from batch #2 were equally delicious, they didn't retain their scone shape as well.  (All that to say that if you use frozen raspberries, don't thaw them at all, sprinkle them right on frozen.  I think that would work better.)

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Heavy-hearted


There is so much on my heart these past several days that I hesitate to write or say anything at all, and yet I do not want to be silent, either.

First and foremost, I am grieving the loss of the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the lives of the five officers killed in Dallas: Officer Lorne Ahrens, Officer Michael Smith, Officer Michael Krol, Officer Patrick Zamarripa, Officer Brent Thompson.

I have been praying for the families and the friends of these men, that God would bring them the comfort only He can give. 

I am praying particularly for our brothers and sisters in the Dallas area this week, black and white, to move toward one another in love.  I am praying for reconciliation, rather than retaliation. 

I am praying that God's Spirit would empower people to love, where there might otherwise be hatred, anger, or fear.  I am thankful that God is the Light of this dark, broken, and hurting world.  And I am praying for God's people, as His image-bearers, to be light wherever they are, in whatever spheres they are in.  May the fact that Christ is in us compel us to a place of unity and of compassion, no matter our race or ethnicity.

I pray that I will be one who reaches out to those who are not like myself, and especially those who may feel devalued.

I am praying for the protection of black boys and black men.  I am praying for black mothers who are fearing for the futures and the very lives of their boys.  I am praying for white mothers who are fearing for the futures and the very lives of their black boys.

I am also praying for the protection of police officers.

I am praying against the fear that is so pervasive in our society.  I am praying for compassion for us all.  I am praying that we would walk in the ways of Jesus; that we would be humble people and that we might glorify God through our words, our actions, and our thoughts.

This week Mark and I have talked a lot about these things.  We have also talked with our older kids, and these conversations sometimes filter down to our younger girls.  There was a moment this week when we were all eating together at the table and we were talking generally about what was going on in our nation.  Adelia, my beautiful brown-skinned daughter, happened to tune in and ask what we were talking about, and one of her siblings said, "Police officers killed some black people."

I don't know how her eight-year-old heart and mind processes such a statement. 

Or last year, while playing with a group of children at church, another little girl declared, "She can't play this game.  I don't like people with black skin."

I don't know how her heart and mind processes such a declaration.

I know how mine does.  My heart aches, and the tears come.  I want to protect my little girl.  I want her to know that she is made in the very image of God.  I don't ever want her to feel self-conscious because of the color of her skin.  I look at her and I see the beauty with which God made her: tightly coiled curls pulled into twists, her beautiful skin tanning even browner after these days of warm sunshine, her wide smile, her infectious laughter, her playfulness and her strong will.

Never am I more aware of the beautiful brown of her skin, or the whiteness of my own skin, than when this issue comes up.  Because suddenly I look at the issue of race through her eyes.

She asked why, there at the table surrounded by her white family who loves her.  Why indeed?

What can I say to her in these moments, when it seems as if my words will carry such weight and ought to be so significant and yet I feel so inexperienced to speak to this at all?

What I say to her is this: God created you, and He delights over you.  And then we talk about how we are living in a broken world, and evil abounds, and that people act out of fear or hatred and that this is why we all desperately need Jesus.

Andra Day has a powerful song called Rise Up, and here is a part of it:
And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
And I'll rise up
High like the waves
I'll rise up
In spite of the ache
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again


Every time I hear that song I think of the many times the black community has had to rise up in the face of oppression and violence, of how they have had to rise up again and go out and live amongst those with prejudices against them.  I have nothing but respect for these courageous men and women, and we have so much to learn from them.

May God give us His heart, His eyes, and His love.  And may we all look to the Day where we will all stand before the throne of God as a great multitude, from every nation, tribe, people and language, in worship of the One who is worthy.