We were talking on another board about the sheer MASS of comments we get from people.  It’s true.  You can’t take seven children and a pregnant Mama out in public and not get comments.  Sometimes they’re sweet & encouraging.  More often they reflect a worldly point of view.  Other times they are less subtle and sometimes downright rude.   We’ve gotten used to it.

It’s not a thing that is easy to get used to if you don’t have thick skin or laugh things off easily.  Being told you’re certifiable at least three times a week can be a bit overwhelming.   But you know?  I’ve come to agree with them.  We MUST be crazy!  I found flair on Facebook that I LOVE.  It fits me so well and I’m thinking I need a bumper sticker, lol.

Not CrazyPerfect, right?  I love it.  Honestly, I’ve been admitting it lately.  I’ve heard I’m either SuperMom or crazy.  I’ll ‘fess up to crazy.  For the first time in fourteen years we’re looking at not having children after this pregnancy, for medical reasons obviously.  And I tell you, flat out, gracefulness of tongue gone?  It sucks.

As absolutely overwhelming as it may be to be bombarded by comments about your family EVERY time you go to the grocery store, Wal-Mart, post office, library, doctor’s office, it’s STILL better than the alternative of not having a large family.  We have family members that have struggled with fertility.  I’m sure they’d gladly put up with the comments for a baby.  People just know not what they do.

Remember, please, young mamas of many, the world sees things from a wordly point of view.  They cannot be expected to acknowledge God’s goodness… They don’t understand.  They can’t see children for what they really are… Blessings.

So, I’m told I’m crazy.  I nod.  Yup, probably.  My reality is pretty different from the world’s.   It takes a special kind of crazy to have a big family and we’re okay with it. I’ll take crazy, I don’t mind. I’ll take the chaos and the hard work too. Someday our houses will be quiet and everything will be clean and there won’t be babies leaving smudgy prints on everything. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to that day.

And honestly? They just don’t understand what they’re missing out on. Pity them.

On an entirely different note, and altogether more pleasant, today was our first official day of school.  It felt good!  We had a great first day!

1st Day Group Photo

1st Day Group Photo

We had a great time.  I admit I took a nap today!  I had to stay up ’til one finishing the jumpers and the skirts to make it a REAL, top-notch, official first day, lol.   You’ve never seen girls so grateful for a uniform, lol.  But SO much fun.  It’s going well, the fileboxes were a hit and we had no problem keeping busy.  I’m off to make supper so we can call it a success and put up our feet.

Drat.   I have Heart of Dakota.  It should be said I LIKE it!

But, for whatever reason, and I can’t even put my finger on it, I’m not using it this year………..  We’ll see how this goes.

Follow along if you’d like.  If you have a child’s bible (and my favorite is by Catherine Vos) we’ll be using what I have on hand and links from the internet for right now.

Week 1 – Creation


Leading Little Ones to God Ch. 15
Introduce Verse – Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.”
We are memorizing the books of the Old Testament right now.  We use Wee Sing’s version of memorizing the books and I freely admit I sing it to myself everytime I need to find something.

This site has cute coloring pages for Creation.

Sing the ABC’s
And, finally introduce the letter A.  We used the templates from DLTK, printed on cardstock, cut out, and laminated for our corkboard.   And matching coloring page for the letter A.


Review yesterday
Chapter 16 – and page 14 from The New Bible in Pictures

Same verse

More creation coloring pages.
Sing the ABC’s
Play-Doh for an activity today…. Allow free play but also making the letter “A” out of play-doh.


Ch. 17 & T.N.B – p. 18


Nature Study followed by drawing.  Label the drawing for little ones.

Coloring Page

Sing the ABC’s
Play Eric Carle’s The ABC Game – this is a new game for us (Target) so I’ll see how I like it.  It’s specifically for ages 3 and up.  Review to follow.


pp. 24-26 in  Bible for Little Eyes

Same as above

Noah coloring page

Noah’s Ark Sequencing Cards
Noah’s Ark game


Sing the ABC’s
Cut and Paste Activity
to follow the A is for Alligator.


pp. 28-30 in Little Eyes

Same as above.

Netflix – Noah movie   (Yes, I know.  GASP!  You can’t believe I’m using the t.v., Fridays are my light days and I’m abusing the privilege of Netflix.)

Sing the ABC’s
Refrigerator letters – find the “A” uppercase and lowercase.

Finally, I’m not a fan of a huge BLOCK of preschool activity.  Essentially this is set up to do this:
Introduce the Bible concept, sing a song, read the reading.  Move to the table, do the associated activity with the Bible reading.  After naptime, during snack is a good time to sing the ABC’s and then give them the alphabet activity before their outside time.  It’s a nice transition.

That’s it! Week 1 done.  And thankfully?  Ana did her lesson plans this weekend as well.  Christian and I will do his as he learns to write his own daily lesson plans.  And I’ll do Lizzie’s later today.

My sincerest apologies, I’ve not been posting very often lately.  I’m making a feeble attempt at lesson plans and I’m doing EVERYTHING I can think of to actually avoid them.  Today, I ran out of things to do, so I decided to post… It will put it off for a couple more hours at least. 😉

I’m not sure what the hang-up is… I’m excited about starting school this year.  I feel more organized than I have been in a couple years.  The girls are excited, the boys are excited, we’re all aflutter for the new school year.

Off topic, I went shopping yesterday for uniforms for the little folk.  Yes, yes I did.  I know it’s evil, but I’ve done it before and I loved it.  One, it is a joy to look at dressed and lovely children.  Two, I can take them in public and we look SO incredibly put together.  But, honestly?  Do you want to know the REAL reason why I LOVE uniforms so much?  You can’t kill them.  It’s true.  I think I owned the same skirts all through my four years of high school.

There are so many perks to uniforms.  I know that all of you who were public schooled felt desperately sorry for those of us who attended parochial school.  (BTW, yes, I’ve been asked, and I am a born again Christian but I was born and raised a Catholic.)   You wasted your sympathies.  WE didn’t mind.  As a matter of fact it was painless to get dressed in the morning.  My hardest question was pink, blue, or white?  Because those were the only color of polo tops we were allowed to wear… with navy pants or a navy pleated skirt.  Personally I like the red, white, and blue colors myself, but I honestly don’t care so long as they have a color, a couple buttons, and they seem utterly impossible to stain.  The little girls are getting jumpers.  Again, stain factor.  If I could justify it, I’d attach a jumper top to Tim’s shorts, just to save his shirts.  🙂  Okay, maybe not.   But, in high school, you can appreciate that when you got to do things, you didn’t wear your school clothes, your regular clothes had stayed nice and weren’t worn out or you didn’t just wear them the day before.  I know all of us girls liked it.

Bunny trail over, I’ve got work to do…

So this morning I just wanted to find some nice, easy, painless lessons for Copywork for the little girls.  I don’t know if Rebecca will be able to do much of this this year or not, we’ll see.  She has remarkable hand control and likes to do everything Elizabeth does, so perhaps.  Copywork need not only be for those who can read.

I found this site, which has EASY copywork for little girls, nice short sentences.   She has listed both Bible verses and English proverbs.  I think you’ll also appreciate the Ambleside link about copywork.  It supplies suggestions and much needed help if you just don’t know where to begin. It also links to a Yahoo group.

Aside, I need to write out my goals for this year.  For each child my goals are entirely different.

My goals for Ana is character building and biblical awareness.  I could honestly not care one whit if she did NOT advance at all in history, science, math, reading, literature, or spelling.  Truth be told, she’d be capable of graduating from practically any public high school this year in all subjects with the notable exception of math. 😀  But, I do not feel as though we’ve raised this child with a sound biblical basis.  Perhaps it is because her mama has been a baby Christian for so many of these years and I was only just learning myself.  But I do know that we spent a long time instilling in her a strong academic base which is useful in the world, but all that truly means very little if she isn’t standing on the firm foundation of Christ.   I would suggest for those of you with children in middle school and pre-middle school ages to truly examine what foundation you’re building upon.

Our ONLY goal last year was to interest Christian deeply in books.  Though he isn’t aware of it, he truly grasped reading quite late.  We started him on phonics at 5, but his speech was awful and it was just one more thing he couldn’t do.  He really had speech issues until about age 7-8 and given time, you’d never know now that he had any speech issues at all.  He needed time.  And when his speech wasn’t so great, it’s a little hard to teach phonics and then be able to pronounce each sound correctly when you can’t make all the sounds.  We would approach reading a bit at a time, hit a wall, and back down a bit.   We came into his fourth grade year with him about a good two years behind in reading and having had ZERO spelling practice.  Our only goal?  Get the kid reading, reading well, and liking it.  We instituted the family rule – read or sleep at naptime and gave him great books to read with boys as the main character.  We got him a reading lamp and allowed him to stay up an extra hour later than the little kids if he was reading.  We severely limited screen time.   We read aloud (as we always had) and we encouraged him to talk about books while discouraging discussion about computer games and television characters.  It worked.  I can say the child read the Hobbit this summer with ease, he’s just finished Eragon, and he’s now reading Redwall.  He has been consuming books as of late at the rate of 2-4 books per week and loves biographies and non-fiction.   We’re thrilled.  We honestly didn’t know if all of our efforts would ever get us to this place, and now that we’re here, I wonder why was I ever worried?  LOL.  Isn’t that always the way?  Now that he’s reading easily, I think we’ll find he’ll fly through his spelling rules.  He’s very good at memorization.  I will say that his handwriting isn’t great and that’s a focus for this year.  He is an absolute perfectionist when it comes to neatness and instead of just writing neatly, he’ll write, erase, and then re-write everything he does.  He examines everything letter by letter and it hasn’t been conducive to cursive, kwim?  With cursive, you have to keep continuing and cursive just about drives him through the roof nuts.  So, we’ll need to get him over this little perfectionistic tendency this year.  Christian, on the faith front, got saved when he was 8 years old.  He’s shown fruit since then and has an amazing sincere heart (and WORRY) for those who are not saved…  My goal for him this year?  Help him commit to memory verses and help him to get into the habit of reading his Bible on a regular basis.  In other words, instill habits.

Elizabeth is 7.  She’s reading 3 & 4 letter words and can spell  fairly well phonetically.  We’ll be bringing her up to par in reading this year.  She seems to have a mind for things academic, but her handwriting frustrates her – hence all the copywork planned for this year.  School comes easily to Lizzie, but she has never been challenged.  I think her weakest point is that if she were challenged, she’d fold.  Although I have noticed that she is becoming more and more diligent and is beginning to develop a certain strength.  It is an incredible blessing to see a child you thought would be perhaps less strong than others, begin to come into her own.  I think it GREAT part, I owe this blessing to her not being the youngest child.  My pregnancy with her was extremely difficult to say the least.  She was the child to follow Hannah and we found out we were expecting Elizabeth only a short month after Hannah’s death.  Emotionally it was difficult and physically it was VERY difficult.  After having been told that Hannah was essentially “a freak incident” and that we wouldn’t have a repeat of preterm labor, the doctors discovered they were very wrong.  At twenty weeks they decided to place the cerclage to stitch shut the cerclage because in their words, “the baby would die anyway…..”  So they wanted to give her the best shot they could, but none believed it would work.  They weren’t entirely sure they could place the stitch with the funneling we had and I had an extremely short (under 2cm) cervix at that point.  They weren’t sure it wouldn’t put me into labor or that it wouldn’t rupture the membrane.  And, at 36 weeks, my little footling breech, with the cord in the neck of the cervix, was born via C-section.  She was our very own little miracle and it would have been MIGHTY tempting to risk no more babies right then and there.  To see her grow and become a little girl with her own personality (and WHAT a personality) is a gift.  And honestly?  Where we’re at right now? It’s a reminder of God’s grace  (her name is Elizabeth Grace) on this family and that He gives good gifts, very good gifts indeed.

Rebecca is our next child.  She’s a very strange child.  I say that with all the love of a mother’s heart, but she is an oddball.  The child could spend her entire day alone, just picking flowers.  She’ll talk to us willingly enough, but she is very much a loner and you can see it when the other children play.  They don’t exclude her and she’ll play if they ask her, but you can tell she is very much content to live in her own world.  She can focus for amounts of time and learns readily enough…  Strangely, she grasps concepts so quickly and can memorize anything, and yet you can tell her mind isn’t with you.  She memorizes the names of flowers, what they look like, where we’ve found them.  We call her our little Hippie Peace Child.  She can sit and pet her favorite rabbit, Peanut, absent mindedly for hours and then comes back to earth and connects with us again.  She’s a peaceful little thing for the most part and rarely, if ever, argues or fights.  I can’t imagine ever having to discipline her and I think she’d fall apart entirely if we yelled at her.   Getting upset with her, because she often acts as you’d expect from a two year old, with accidents or whatnot, is useless.  She absolutely doesn’t MEAN to, she just lives in her own little world.  DH & I have consigned ourselves to the facts that she will live with us the rest of her life.  I say it with a sweet smile of contemplation and know that she has many years ahead of her to grow and develop.  At times we wonder if there isn’t something amiss in that head of hers, but academically I wonder if she won’t far outpace ALL of her siblings in the next 3 years.  There is something strange in the way that she simply absorbs information…..  What gifts God has instilled in her are just a whisper right now but I wonder that we won’t be amazed at the way she blossoms over the next years…..

Timothy.  Sigh.  Our only goal for Tim is to teach him to sit still for SOME undetermined length of time.  We’d also like to teach him that not all work is physical.  In one ear, out the other, Tim’s mind is always on work.  The boy wakes up in the morning, puts on work jeans, and says, “Mom, gotta go work…” And he heads out the door for the day.  Did I mention Tim is FOUR?  He moves straw, does chores, “chops” wood, stacks wood, moves the wood, cleans up the yard, moves the wheelbarrow, examines the garden, and so on goes his day.  He’s something else all right….. 😀

And finally Abigail.  We have no goals for Abigail.  She’s two and my only goal is to take as many pictures as I can.  She’s growing up SO much faster.  Why is it that each successive baby only gets older faster than her siblings and HOW is that possible?  How?  And it seems remarkably unfair.  If I could just freeze her at this age I would forever.  I LOVE the age of two.  Sigh.  How will I ever give up having babies and toddlers?  She loves doing school and sitting next to her mama. My goal for Abigail is really a goal for me.  I don’t want to just “get it done” I want to do everything WITH her.  She loves to help me cook, help me sew, help me with the baby, help Mama, help Mama, help Mama.  My goal for ME is to let her do it even more, and she is going to do a short preschool with Tim.  Do I believe in preschool?  Not really.  But I do like a good excuse to sit with my littles for concentrated times each day and just really be WITH them, mind and body.

And baby Sarah?  Well, she’ll be tagging along with everything.  We love her as much as she loves us.

And now, sigh, back to lesson plans.  I suppose this little diversion this morning was long enough.  I’ll be adding links as I run across useful ones.  Hopefully I’ll be able to report tomorrow morning that I’ve got them all done.  We have a wedding shower this afternoon for a cousin and so just Mama and all the girls get to go.  I’m trimming everyone’s hair this morning and we’re going to “do” our hair all fancy and with curls and do our nails.  Why not?  I hear the boys are cleaning the garage.  Hurrah, glad it’s not me.  It isn’t often we have an excuse to just be girls…  I also hear Daddy is taking the boys fishing while we’re gone.  I’m a bit jealous, but cake can soothe a multitude of hurts.  Have a good Sunday.

It’s done.  The battle has been fought, the victor declared.

Drum roll please.

Tapestry of Grace has won.

In the end, it didn’t come down to price.   I’ll fully admit Tapestry’s price tag was a huge holdout for me.  Finances have to be considered in a family this size on rare occasion. 😉

We decided that Tapestry’s Classic version, a.k.a. the “old” version was good enough for us for this year.  If nothing else, it would allow us to make a small investment to see if Tapestry would fit our lifestyle.  I wanted to get my hands ON the curriculum, to dig into it, to see what it was all about.  I’ll be the first to admit I do NOT like Tapestry’s website.  Truth be told, I honestly don’t know how they could improve it.  The fact of the matter is there is just TOO much meat to this curriculum for it to be properly displayed.  Until you have it in your hands and you start planning it out, you just truly don’t realize how much work Marcia has actually done.  I’m still finding things four weeks into it that has me going, “Oh my goodness!  That’s awesome!”

We figured Classic Tapestry won awards.  Classic Tapestry is what Marcia originally began with.  Classic Tapestry is what first got everyone excited about TOG.  If it was good enough for the other TOG users (and lovers) for the last five years, it would be good enough for our first year!  I was so blessed to find Year 3 for $80ppd. which included the matching MapAids, the Writing Component, the Reproducible CD, the Base Unit, and the four single units.   It was all printed and in binders, and might I add, very good condition.  I did not buy ANY books yet.

I want to add in here that I really think you should NOT buy the books until you’ve had time to understand how the curriculum works.  Some of the books are very necessary to the program.  These books are either utilized through multiple weeks or sometimes, multiple years.   Other books have worksheets that entirely based on the selection.  But MANY of the books are simply in there because those were the titles readily available at her library, or that she had on hand, or that she can eagerly recommend.  Those titles are only utilized for one subject, and often only one week, and so are very easily replaced with an alternative from your library for that one week.  We were able to find approximately 50% of the titles she recommended at our library system.  Another (approximately) 20% were the type of books I mentioned previously…. Easily replaced with an alternative – such as childrens’ biographies on presidents, or the constitution, or the Louisiana Purchase.   I used ratings and recommendations on Amazon to narrow down selections that were not recommended.

It’s at this point I should mention our library system is entirely online.  I can tell you that yes, it was time consuming.  But it was so incredibly worth it.  I went through one entire unit, deciding on titles and made an Excel spreadsheet of what books they had, which we’d use as replacements, and which were necessary for purchase.  I did purchase  a few “spines” like Hakim’s Story of US books 4 & 5, and Genevieve Foster’s Abraham Lincoln’s World.  I also decided to utilize Story of the World 3 (which I owned) within Tapestry.  It was easy enough to find a corresponding chapter to whatever we were studying.  I’d like to add that I was very eager to substitute the Mystery of History as a spine in Tapestry.  Unfortunately the volume we’d need to use for Year 3 isn’t yet available.  The next time we come around to Year 3, I expect to purchase it.

Now, why Year 3?  I actually had a very good reason for choosing Year 3.  I wanted to give Tapestry the most honest chance of success.  I knew I probably would be most biased if we did Year 1.  I haven’t yet enjoyed studying the Ancients.  I had a very difficult time choosing between Year 2 and Year 3, but I also had read reviews that stated that Year 2 is the most “packed” year available… That it can easily be overwhelming for a beginning Togger.  So we made the choice to go with Year 3 and next year will begin the cycle afresh with Year 1 in Ana’s freshman year which will allow her to complete four years within the Rhetoric level while allowing her to lolly-gag in Dialectic for this year.

So…. Why Tapestry?  Now that I’ve had the opportunity to have my hands on Tapestry, and having used Sonlight previously I think I can better put it into words.  I want to make sure I’m clear on this point though…  There are those who will find flaws in whatever they’ve used and sometimes use that as an excuse to travel into uncharted waters and try something new.  I am that person.  There are precious few things I’ve found to be a perfect fit.  I love (LOVE) First Language Lessons.   My itsy bitsy discontenments over Rod & Staff’s grammar program for early years were minute.  I actually REALLY liked the program, but I was searching for an excuse to try FLL.  And I’ve stuck with it now for five years.  I bought one of the first copies that came out and I’m on my second book of the 1/2 Level.   I had tried (and liked) 100 Easy Lessons, after not liking Alpha-Phonics.  100 Easy Lessons didn’t leave me completely in love, but it worked, and worked well.  I can honestly say after excusing myself to try An Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, I want no other.  So you can see that I AM one of those mamas who does enjoy the hunt for the “perfect” curriculum.  I am eclectic by nature and want to put things together for myself for a great fit.  That said, I am NOT the person who is constantly unhappy with what I try.  I have found that as I try each curriculum I get to know myself (and my kids) and my teaching style a bit more.  If you don’t love literature, Tapestry is NOT for you.  Neither is Sonlight for that matter.   If you really want to check that box, know you’ve covered everything in a generic scope and sequence, I highly suggest you try other great programs that are a better fit for you.

There is no one perfect curriculum.  There are only curriculums that inspire you to be consistent and enthusiastic in your day to day teaching.

And now that that has been said, I can go forward, knowing I’ll not lead you astray with my enthusiasm.  Tapestry is NOT the perfect curriculum.  It is a great fit for OUR family.   No matter how good a curriculum is, no matter how many awards it has won, it will never work for you if it isn’t a good fit.

Tapestry – Why it fits us

1. It’s literature based.

2. It lets you delve into a subject, fill it out with appropriate books for each level.

3. Each child is studying the same thing, at a different level, at the same time.  We felt this was important.  For one reason – it allows and encourages conversation and play between siblings.

4. Mom can read aloud to all.  Yes, it might be a bit above the 6yo, but they still get the rhythm of good literature.  Beyond that, your lower grammar will have age appropriate read-alouds.  But this was VITAL to me as I could reasonably read aloud to my dialectic, upper grammar, and eventually, my rhetoric students all at one time.

5. As combined as it is, it is still VERY individualized with discussion questions, writing assignments, mapwork, book of the presidents (lower grammar), timelines (dialectic), geography (upper grammar), and worksheets… For those who have dreamed of truly combining their students without a MASSIVE amount of “tweaking” Tapestry does it.

I cannot IMAGINE the amount of work that went into Tapestry.  I understand the attraction of “open and go” curriculum.  It’s what most sold me on Sonlight.  That I don’t have to sit down and print off weekly plans and teach my older children to break them down into daily assignments, I get that.  I really think if you can be content with Sonlight’s daily programs, or if you don’t have multiple levels, Sonlight could be the perfect fit for YOUR family.   I tried.  It wasn’t happening.  The amount of work I’d have to do to honestly make it combineable would not have been worth it to me.  If you’re fine with your children studying different things, I’d probably go with Sonlight, honestly.  There is SO much appeal to handing a child an IG and having those daily plans made.  But I’ve been wanting to combine all my levels for a good long time and this is IT.

The only other comparison I have to make is what someone else verbalized for me.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I read her statement.  She likened the two this way:  Essentially she views Sonlight as a literature based program supplemented with history.  Her viewpoint of Tapestry is a history program supplemented with with literature.  I think this is an excellent way to compare the two.

In Sonlight you’ll be reading excerpts of history based on a literature core.  With much of the readings in Tapestry being rooted in your spines and in other non-fiction works, the fictional works are really only a supplement to that base.  This is EXACTLY what I was looking for.  This is a much better fit for what I wanted to be teaching as a teacher.

I’m sure at some future date I’ll go into the vast amount of “cheats” that Marcia has so generously supplied to educated the teachers so they can have an intelligent conversation on each topic, but right now I wanted to finish up this epic war between Sonlight and Tapestry and having reread my previous posts, I felt it hadn’t yet been completed.

Yes, well, they aren’t fancy, but the kids designed the covers and I feel organized. They LOOK organized.
This one isn’t rocket science. I saved all those little tabs I made for my fileboxes and reprinted them, cut them out, and slapped them into page separators in the binders. Therefore, at night, after I’ve checked work, or at the end of the week, TA DA! File under proper heading. Truth be told, I MUST think as little as possible. If we were going to go spreading secrets then I’d be forced to admit that there are days (or weeks) that I don’t think a whole lot. Therefore it’s always good when as much of it as possible is done for me. I’d run back into the “I’m NOT naturally organized therefore this is a life saving process” but you’ve heard that before. 😉

We’re not completely done.  Elizabeth, the princess, is taking such an incredibly time picking out her pictures I was done for the day.

The binder covers… Each picture was chosen by said child and has something to do with the 1800’s – our time period of choice.

Binder Covers

Binder Covers

Each binder end is properly labeled for easy grabbing.

Binder Ends

Binder Ends

Each binder has file dividers:

Binder Tabs

Binder Tabs

These match the dividers in the fileboxes:

Filebox Tabs

Filebox Tabs

It should also be mentioned that we are going to be experiencing some health complications to deal with in the up and coming months and it has become VITAL to me that we keep records showing that we ARE doing school as I’m foreseeing issues. And it is always preferable to be prepared than sorry. More on that later…..

Okay, I’m on it today!  I have my tabs for my binders printed, I’ve readjusted last year’s schedule for this year.

You’ll see my “scheduling” technique is SO similar to MOTH – Mangers of Their Homes.  It is initially where I got these ideas.  I bought my first copy of MOTH when I was pregnant with Hannah, so that would have been back in 2000… with just two little ones at the time.

I wish I had kept all of my schedules.  Wouldn’t it be neat to see how it’s grown, baby by baby?  We can’t print vertically anymore, it’s had to go horizontal.  I love the way they look, so neat and organized.  My first schedules were hand colored and pieces of paper stuck to a master schedule.  I find Excel works SO much better and it’s infinitely easier to tweak.  I thank my genius (and organized) hubby for this one.

One MAJOR difference.  I absolutely can NOT operate in thirty minute periods.  It doesn’t make me efficient.  It makes me a GRUMP!  I turn into this ornery old woman drill sergeant, and she’s not pleasant to live with.  I find a “routine” works SO much better for us.  We work on a “and this comes next” philosophy.  After the first week or two each child will know what comes next.  It matters not to me if we had a late night one night due to a family event and we get up an hour late, we just do what comes next….  If we’re potty-training a baby and there’s a major accident, then we clean it up and we don’t look at the clock and get stressed out because we’re “behind.”

You’ll also notice one BIG difference in our schedule this year.  Well, YOU won’t, because you didn’t see last year’s schedule.  But THIS year’s schedule has something new to us.  You’ll see each of our older children are not assigned a particular subject in order.  They are being taught the freedom and responsibility of scheduling and planning their own schoolwork.  Obviously they are still daily accountable to me (which will later in high school spread out to a weekly accountability) however, it’s a good thing to teach the children to be available.  When we’re doing tablework, we’re working in the same area, so I’m readily available to them, but by and large, they’re becoming very independent.

The ages of the children aren’t readily apparent, so I’ll list them as they may become useful to you.

Briana (13)
Christian (10)
Elizabeth (7)
Rebecca (5)
Timothy (4)
Abigail (almost 3)
Sarah (1)
And, if all goes well, God willing, the new baby will join us in December/January.

The schedule is in two parts because if I tried to fit it on one piece of paper we wouldn’t be able to read it!


Daily Assignment Sheets (also made in Excel)

The older kids fill these in themselves on the weekend and they’re ready to go for the week days.

Weekly Assignment Sheets ~ I don’t have a photo of these, but essentially they are what you see above, only more consolidated. They’ll tell each child at a glance what they need to divvy up and accomplish over the course of the week.

I put these in the file on Friday night.  This goes in along with a copy of their weekly reading (history and lit reading assignments from TOG)  and weekly overview (worksheets, ideas for hands on, etc. from TOG), and for Ana, five days of her Sonlight science schedule for Apologia’s General Science.

Now that said, we are taking recommendations from Tapestry and following much of their weekly timeline. To consolidate this is how we’re doing it:
Mondays – Do all lit and history reading for the week or as much as possible.
Vocabulary should also be filled out and filed this day. The writing assignment and scope are introduced on this day and the first draft is due on Wednesday.
– Finish up any other reading. Work on writing. Hands on items – start.
Wednesdays – First drafts of said writing assignment is initially due for discussion as well as editing by self.
Discussions take place on Wednesdays. Worksheets that correlate with the reading would be good for today as well as any mapwork.
– This is a time to draft writing and polish. Catch up on any literature work. Work on / finish up hands on projects depending on when they should be done.
Fridays – Draft of writing is due for Mom’s edit and polish. Spelling test. Go over vocabulary as well.

Obviously you are doing your other subjects – Latin, Grammar, Math, Science as well throughout the week, but is a manageable way to break up Tapestry and puts it into layman’s terms that a child can look at and say, “Okay, so this is how I break up that weekly assignment sheet!”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m wiped out! I’m off to a nap and then maybe come back and finish up my binders and take a few photos for ya’all.

Fine.  I can accept it.  Workboxes aren’t going to work for me.  The system is so far from Workboxes, I can’t even say it’s tweaked workboxes.

What I can say is that I have olders that are independent workers and this system will work for us.  And really, which is more important?  The popular system that everyone has to have, or the one you can commit to longterm?  So, I admit it.  I failed.  But I’m okay with that! 😀

I packed away and/or sold useless materials.  All the books that were so “Disney-fied” or were just wretched, I’m taking to Half Price Books this morning for credit to hopefully spend on books I NEED.   Prayer for guard against temptation would be appreciated here……

With newly cleaned off bookshelves, I was ready to go.  Remember those $4.99 file folder holders I got at Target?  Yeah, these are those.

An organized system

An organized system

Okay, so the plan is to integrate the things that I LOVED from Workboxes into my system for lots of little people.  I desperately NEEDED to consolidate the system.  12 workboxes couldn’t work for me.  It isn’t possible.  That said, MY kids work great off a visual system, so we have weekly charts – the Tapestry weekly plans, but we’re also (together for the olders) breaking those down into daily plans.

I LOVE how she “reloaded” her boxes every night.  We’re planning on following that suggestion with me taking out the days work, checking, and filing into 2.5″ binders for each child (same tabs as the file folder holders) each night and then reloading the file folders with  the next day’s work.

I honestly don’t care what order my older kids work in.  They’ll receive a large block of “school” time and be set free.  I love Tapestry’s attitude that we are train our children to be masters of their time and of their schoolwork.  Ana has always been very independent.  She basked in the short time we did Ambleside because I gave her a week’s plan and she lived in the glory of organizing and managing her time.  Christian NEEDS this training.  He’s a great kid.  You can set anything in front of him and say, “Get it done.”  And he’ll have it done.  It will be perfectly neat, perfectly done, and er, well, perfect.  It will have 200 eraser marks where he redid it to BE perfect, but it will be done and done well.  He has, in the past, needed the guidance of “here is that next thing” BUT he’s never had any freedom or guidance to manage his time.  I’ll admit to this.  This will be awesome for him because he IS one of those kids that handles responsibility well.  And while we’ve always stacked responsibility on the shoulders of the oldest, we haven’t given him that opportunity to really shine in this area.  I’m excited, can you tell?

So, this is what the file folders look like inside:

File folders with tabs

File folders with tabs

Obviously not every child has the same activities.   When you get to the littlest one,  Abigail, it’s just Arts & Crafts and Letter Activity.

Now, the only thing that’s left is getting Mom organized.    I’m getting there… I’ve cut out eight seahorses for my counting board.  I’ve cut out every uppercase and lowercase letter from templates from DLTK.  They’ve been put on cardstock and I take them in for lamination today.  I have my calendar for my bulletin board for the little people.

I feel good.  I finally feel organized, a little.  I’ll admit I’m still in a bit of a fog over Tapestry.  I’m reading, swallowing, and digesting ALL the material.  So far I love the layout.  I AM using Sonlight’s science guides for science.  I LOVE that they sell them separately.  It’s so nice to have that planned daily because I am REALLY lazy and discontent when it comes to science.  And what does discontentment mean?  Well, it means I’m not thankful.  And it’s true.  I have a bad attitude towards science.  I LOVE science, biology, living science, life cycles, rocks, stars, you name it.  I HATE how boring science actually is in the classroom.  Which reminds me…  Guess what little critter decided to form a chrysallis?  I didn’t realize how big he had gotten and couldn’t find the aquarium, so I was ill prepared for him to get to this stage.  He managed without help from me.

Chrysallis - We knew him when he was just an egg.

Chrysallis - We knew him when he was just an egg.

We’ll tape the lid to something from the top so that when he opens his wet wings and stretches them out, he won’t tear them on the container.  We’ve had that happen and there is NOTHING more heartbreaking than a butterfly that you’ve crippled by negligence.

On my To Do list yet –

Organize MY binder
Make MY file folder
Do activities for the preschool ziploc activity swap
Make letter activity sheets for the first nine weeks and any coloring pages.
Hang up my calendar.  Wish me luck.  I didn’t in 2008 or yet in 2009.

That’s it!  Have a great day!

If I admit that I love Mondays will you stop reading?

Fine.  I admit it.  I really love Mondays.  I promise I’m *not* a control freak, but weekends just spin out of control.  The house goes crazy, we eat WAY too much sugar, meal planning?  It goes out the window.  We have a lot of fun on the weekends but everything except chaos goes right out the window.

This weekend was NO exception, but boy was it fun! We went to the timber this weekend, our favorite place to be.  We picked wild flowers, caught craw-dads, did some berry picking, and just enjoyed the river, the trees, and the weather.  It was GORGEOUS.  We got up in the morning and got moving so it was still cool while we were out there.

Big Daddy with our Little Girls

Big Daddy with our Little Girls

Look what they caught!

Look what they caught!

Christian's Crawdaddy

Christian's Crawdaddy

Lizzie's Crawdad

Lizzie's Crawdad

Rebecca Hunter Gatherer

Rebecca Hunter Gatherer

Then my batteries died. 😦

But, we had a picnic lunch and all in all, it was such a beautiful day.  Although I’ll admit that we ate EVERY single one of the berries we picked at lunch.  Washed?  Uh, no.  Which means, I’m sure, I got a double dose of protein from bugs.  I’m just refusing to think about it.  But they were good. 🙂  And, thankfully, I’m not very squeamish.

You know I was thinking today about guilt.  I think we allow ourselves to be trapped into guilt.  We should have or we could have or we didn’t… You know, the Mommy things we think of after we did the WRONG thing in real life.  You know what I’m talking about.  Junior drops a glass of honey, the jar breaks and you deal with sticky honey, sticky Junior, and glass all over the newly (always newly) scrubbed floor.  Did you flip out and yell at Junior?  You know you did.  The little stinker had to push the chair to the pantry, shimmy up it like a baby monkey, get it out… It was planned naughtiness.  Did he deserve to get in trouble? Sure.  But the display of anger on your part leads to handling it poorly.

So often we play a part in this scenario.  If we tomato stake our little ones sometimes messes can be avoided.  But if we’re going to be honest, there are times when you’re changing the toddler or nursing the baby and these things DO happen, even if the best run household.  And guilt weighs on us.

On Raising Godly Tomatoes last week someone asked which book of the Bible would you like to memorize?  I was thinking, James.  James is my book of choice.  And many had already memorized various books.  I used to make time to memorize verses.

Coincidentally, my Tapestry of Grace showed up this weekend.  One of the things that Marcia stresses in her introduction is that Tapestry is meant to be a K to Mom education.  We should take the time to maybe read those books we never did in high school, college, or life since.

So, this morning I sat down to start reading and memorizing the book of James.

James 1:2

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will recieve anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

It occurred to me that we, mothers, need to INVEST in ourselves.  There is an intrinsic difference between spending and investing.   The dictionary defines the word spend as the action of disposing of something or exhausting something.  To spend money is to dispose of it….   Compare this to the definition of invest.  Invest means to devote or put something to use for the purpose of profitable returns.

There are those that spend on themselves – they may “dispose of” their day, or money, or their time………

And then there are those that feel guilty over the “investment” of time or money, etc.

Truly, the difference between the two is the heart attitude.  When one invests, it is with the  hope of a return.  For whom?   Ultimately it should be an investment for God.  The training of our children, our health and well-being, what values and beliefs we’re cultivating in our own home.

So I guess today I’d encourage you to make a budget…  A time budget perhaps.  You’re only allotted so much you know.  How will you spend it and for what purpose?  Will you invest in yourself?  Will you invest in your children? Or will you dispose of it?  At the end of the day, it’s all gone.  The only difference between the two is whether or not you hold the hope to get some future return.  And more importantly than just receiving a little interest, who are you investing FOR?

How many of us reaarrange our entire house JUST so we can somehow squeeze 1 foot of extra space for the storage of books?  Uh…..Me.

That’s right folks, it’s THAT time of year again.  Or at least it is for me.   It’s school planning!  Woo Hoo!

Yesterday my entire living room got rearranged.  So that you could better see the television? Um, no.  So the lighting was better?  Again, no.  Oh, no, my living room has been rearranged for reading nooks and bookcases.  Which is no small feat in a slightly smaller that average living room with two loveseats, a recliner, and bookshelves….  And, yes, we had to keep the tv.  I like my husband!

So, then I manipulated… CONVINCED, I convinced my husband to take me out to eat and go preschool shopping.  Sigh.

I spent the afternoon printing off alphabet templates to be photocopied onto cardstock.  I get to cut them out tonight.  Then, having learned my lesson, they’re all getting laminated.  That’s right.  It only took the first four children to teach me!

The tweaked system means using a file system instead of several separate boxes.  I only have space to dedicate one shelf to each child.  I liked the idea of doing all the prep work in the evening, but couldn’t see taking up that much space… times six.

I found clear file boxes with pink lids for the girls and blue lids for the boys for $4.99 at Target!  I was thrilled with that and they’ll fit in my bookshelves.  Next came the clearing of the bookshelves.  That was painful.

So, it’s starting to look good and a little more prepared.   I’ll post pictures after we get the opportunity to decorate a bit and add names and make it look nice.  We’re getting there.  I’m hoping to have preschool planned a bit by the time my Tapestry gets here, then the real work begins!

My BIG find for the day?  The Home’s Cool blog!  She took the time to arrange the Sonlight titles in classical order… according to the time period they take place.   I was so blessed to find this blog as, from what I understand, Tapestry’s read alouds tend to be geared towards the older child.  And, TOG didn’t schedule family read alouds in the Classic version, only the Re-Design.  I’m not sure if that is indeed correct yet, but we will definitely be substituting in some of these suggestions as read alouds.  I was so excited to find this this morning and hope you enjoy the link as well!

I hear the slogan, “We will not forget” an awful lot.  And mostly, I think of 9/11 and think, “But we have.”

And when I ran across these articles today, they same slogan and knee jerk reaction came to mind.

Why do you homeschool?  Do you remember why?  Do you remember how you ended up on this journey and where your original destination was?

For my husband and I we each had different destination points.  While we’ve managed to maintain a grip on one (the easier), I feel we’ve allowed ourselves to forget the greater purpose.

As I’ve spent the last few weeks, researching and comparing curriculums, cores, books, guides, and articles, I’ve been searching for the answer to our families need for all things academic.  It is not that these things are not important, it is that they are not the most important thing.  Why do we homeschool?  To raise up strong and capable children for God and to further His kingdom.  Obviously for this we need children that are well educated, well spoken, and capable of presenting themselves and His word.  That said, we tend to lose sight of our real goal in all this.  We end up with children that are well educated and are well spoken, but they don’t understand they were created and made for HIM.  They were never educated for the goal of education, but educated only to further His purpose.

And so I ask you, what good is all that education if you’ve fed your children a steady diet of the world and raised them for the world?  All is lost at that point.  They will serve the master they’ve been taught to serve.  You must choose Mother.  You must choose Father.  Whom shall you train your child to serve?  You can only have one master.

It is acceptable to utilize a curriculum to acheive your end goals.   It is NOT okay to allow that curriculum to take the place of active, living faith… Your children are a witness to your day to day priorities.  If math or reading or history should take place above the daily Bible reading and teaching they will KNOW what is more important to you.  They’ve seen how you prioritize.  If the computer or the blogging, or your research or your email takes the place of your morning time alone with Him and His Word, they will KNOW what your priorities are… Even if you have fooled yourself.  I am very guilty of this.  Sometimes I think through our failings, we are able to bless others.  Is that not why we’re allowed hardships?  I struggle with this on a daily basis as the world competes with God for my attention, my focus, my teachings…..

That’s all I’ll say on it for today, but I ask that you please read the two links today.  And when you are planning for this fall, I ask that as you write down your priorities, you place Him at the very top of the list.  And much further down, list your priorities and make sure each is accountable to the first.

Homeschooling is Not About Education by Chris Davis

Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling: Exposing the 7 Major Blindspots by Reb Bradley

Thank you so much to Paula’s Archives for the links to these two vital articles.

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