Friday, October 10, 2014

What we say

This week I had the chance to see a gift that someone has.  That is the gift of not being bothered by others' opinions of them.  I've seen people before not care about others opinions.  I can't say that I've understood.  I'm sure different people have different reasons.

I think some people tell themselves they don't care, but really do.  Some people stop caring and become numb to others' feelings.  Some people retreat away from people so they can't hurt them anymore.  But, then other people naturally have a peace that helps them not to worry or care about others opinions of them.

I saw one of these people in action this week.  After the summer I've had and what I've walked through, I recognize the gift this person has.  Of course it has its consequences, but one of the positive consequences is that this person is more easily able to show grace to people in her life that say things that are off the mark.  One of the other consequences is that she isn't always aware of how what she does affects other people.

I think that is the way it is with any gift that the Lord gives us.  There are strengths and weaknesses of what He gives us.  He knows what we need.

I can see what He's given this person in my life.  I think I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum.  I care too much.  I love too much and hurt too much.  They're two sides of the same coin.  But, seeing how God has made this friend makes me smile.  And it makes me think.

Is it okay to not care what other people think of me?  Yes.  I can see that this friend cares about the Lord and about glorifying Him in her life.  But she's free to just love people and see past the things they say.

We are all called to different things.  I was reminded on Friday that I am called to care and connect.  I talked with a young mom and her two little ones. I encouraged her and she shared with me that it had meant a lot to her husband when I genuinely asked after her a few months ago and how they were doing.

I've seen a lot of older women become wounded birds.  I want to learn to care, but be able to look past the things people say that are off the mark.


On vacation, Autumn got a Life is Good tshirt that says, "Smile... It's free."  I love it.  I wish I could have one, too.

I've let my kids sleep in this morning and I need to go wake them up.  It's been a busy past two weeks for them.  They're troopers and I love them.  I wanted to write down the things popping into my head at the moment.

1.  Smile.  A lot.  Every chance you get.  Smiling makes you feel good and makes others people feel good.  It breaks the silence.  It breaks up the pain.  It breaks up the hurt.  It reminds you of God's beauty, His comfort, and that He's in control.  We can trust Him.

2.  Smile.  Tell my kids I love them.  A lot.  Even though they've heard it before.

3.  Snuggle with my kids.  Read together.  Break out of the cycle of being driven by the idea that I have to get so much done.  Take a 30 minute reading break in the living room.  Don't feel guilty.  It's impossible to get everything done every day.

4.  Don't compare.  Don't compare my children to one another.  They are all different and I love them all.  Emphasize and remind them of their strengths and that God made them the way they are.  Don't directly or indirectly compare.  Teach them that everyone has their own strengths.

5.  Let go.  Let go of the past and cope with the present.  Don't let the past put a noose around my neck.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Learn to Type Software?

For the past year, my kids have been learning to type using the BBC's free internet site: Dance Mat Typing.  I like it a lot.  It covers the basics at a speed that's very appropriate for grade K-5.  It includes practice and fun songs that engage the kids.  All three of my kids have enjoyed it.

I felt like it wasn't quite enough, though.  I wanted them to get more practice and be able to increase their speed.  So, I started looking for a program to use.  I asked around and the recommendations all pointed to Mavis Beacon and Typing Instructor.

In the end, I purchased Typing Instructor for Kids.  It takes a bit to navigate the program honestly.  I had to sit down with it first and understand what my kids needed to do.  My first daughter went through the first level and completed it, but the program wouldn't let her move on.  She didn't understand why.  So, I went through the level and it passed me.  I am assuming that the program set a goal for her that she didn't pass.  Typing Instructor does let kids backspace and correct when they've pressed a wrong key, but I don't know if it takes off for this.  The levels take about 17 minutes for them to complete.  Or at least the first one did.

I didn't encounter any major glitches.  My kids enjoy it.  I like the games that come after the lesson. They're fun and purposeful.  Creative practice.

I'm also glad that I paid for the program.  There are lots of typing games online that are free, but the screen shows up small and there's tons of advertising which is very distracting and undependable.  Sometimes I'm very surprised at the ads that show up on various websites.  I know they can't control it once they agree to the ads, but it shapes my decisions about which websites I let my kids go to regularly.

What I noticed though is that Dance Mat Typing goes slower than Typing Instructor (and it has no ads--Yippee!).   So, I'm glad my kids completed Dance Mat Typing first.  I think Typing Instructor for Kids is going to be a good fit for us.

I did also have the chance to try out Mavis Beacon--Personal Edition, using UltraKey.  The program is the same cost as the other (about $15), but it's a bare bones program.  No games.  None.  This edition is for adults and it goes through things pretty fast.  But, if you are an adult and need to learn how to type quickly, this is a good option.  I did encounter a glitch in the first lesson and the challenge level they set based on my pretest was almost impossible to reach and pass on the first lesson.  Mavis Beacon also won't let you backspace and correct, so all typing has to be correct the first time in order to pass on the challenges and skill tests.  You can retake the skill tests, though, without redoing the lesson--which is what I did.  Honestly, I'm glad I spent the money on Typing Instructor for Kids instead of Mavis Beacon.  If I were purchasing a program for an adult or teenager, I'd probably choose Typing Instructor (adult version) instead of the Mavis Beacon program.

I'm surprised that the programs didn't address some things that were reinforced in my typing class in high school.
1.  You can't look at your fingers!
2.  Your index fingers sit on the home row keys that have bumps.  Every typewriter and keyboard I've ever used have a bump on the f and j keys.  The ten-key number pad also always has a bump on the 5 key.  These bumps help you keep your place.  They're very important so that you can always find your way back to where your fingers should rest.
3.  You can put a napkin or other light covering over your child's hands if they have a hard time not looking down.  If you're using a desktop computer and keyboard, you can make a cover using wood or cardboard that you can set over the keyboard so kids can't see the keys.  The point of learning to type is to be able to do it without looking at the keys.  This drastically increases one's typing speed when it is mastered.

My kids are enjoying getting back on the computer again.  I'm glad for it to be productive time.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thought this was a good reminder...

I just read this article on Christianity Today and thought it was a good reminder about our internet clicking...

Walking Forward

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was sharing with me about how she keeps waiting for that time when she'll be able to breathe and catch up.  Refuel.

I thought for a moment about what she said.  My kids are several years older than hers, but this past year I've really been waiting for that time that she was talking about.  It has never come.  It feels like there's been one thing after another.  I get very tired at times.

I have come to the conclusion that there might not be that lull in life that I long for.  But, instead, there are moments.  And it is the moments that sustain us and refuel us.

The moment in the car on the long vacation ride when Sami asks how much longer and Autumn tells her to call her.  Then Sami pretends to call Autumn on an imaginary phone and Autumn answers, "Hello.  This is the Estimation Station.  How can we help you?"  Sami then asks, "How much longer till we get there?"  Autumn responds, "Let me ask our Estimator, Eli."  Eli then gives his answer, "Ten hours." (It was only about 2 or 3 more at that point.)  My husband then calls in and asks, "How long will I live?"  The estimation station attendant:  "Let me consult the estimator."  The estimator:  "One hundred and forty years."

Laughter filled the car.

I'm starting to thing there aren't weeks or even days that will come that I will get to step back and refuel.  There are simply moments.

Last night, my middle daughter snuggled into my arms and I hugged her in the evening.

The librarian complimented my oldest daughter when she went to volunteer.  She makes me smile.  She's thoughtful and thought filled.

And my son, well, he gives me a hug every morning.

This is my time to love my kids.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Social Studies for 6th grade... on and on we go...

I'm working on my daughter's social studies for this year.  I've found several resources on the way.  I often ask myself, "Why am I doing this?  Why am I not buying a premade curriculum?"  I've read several books about homeschooling on a shoestring and lots of blog posts about it and realize that the money you save by not buying books, you spend in time.  So, there has to be some other reason...

I've come to the conclusion that I enjoy the search.  I enjoy thinking through a topic and getting on top of it before my children study it.  I enjoy developing a big picture of the topic.

Last year, Autumn studied the 1700s of American History.  This year, my goal is to cover the 1800s and 1900s.  So far, I have compiled up to 1850 and am working on the Civil War.  Here's a list of free resources I've found that I've liked.  I'm using a very brief book titled Kids' Guide to American History to give my daughter a brief (very brief) idea of the outline of American History and then we're going to dig into more specific events.

Oregon Trail Unit
Oregon Trail Game

Civil War Unit
I'm using pages from the middle school curriculum.  I don't have Microsoft Office anymore so I can't view the powerpoint presentations, but I still found some great activities and worksheets to use.
These are the pages I printed from the middle school curriculum:
from the elementary curriculum: 22-23,96-98

Additional Civil War Resources I'm using:
Slang of the Civil War:

For Reconstruction and Industrial Revolution, I'm using a book titled Everyday Life: Reconstruction to 1900 by Walter Hazen.
Bio of Jane Addams:
I'm asking my daughter to write an outline and one paragraph summary including birthdate/death, significant life events and significant achievements of Jane Addams.

Women's Rights Unit:
I like this unit because it uses primary sources.
Printed Letter from Phyllis Shafly:
Pro-ERA Points:
To end this unit, I am going to ask my daughter to write her own persuasive paper either pro or con-the ERA.

World War I has a list of activities for WWI.

The Great Depression

World War II
Great Readings on World War II!:

Civil Rights has some great readings.
Civil Rights Unit from the Homeschool Den.  There are several different and great packets on this site for elementary age.

John F Kennedy

Cold War
Types of Government:
Good selection of readings on

20th Century Summaries   I like these because they use key terms in short and easy to read summaries. They covered a lot of topics I wanted to address, but couldn't find printable readings on the web for.

Some Useful Maps

Great Timeline Worksheets
Scholastic has one online, but I like the ones on this page better:

Great Timeline Site

Stamp Activity
I printed pages 8 and 32 and some of the information from the first few pages to explain why we use stamps.  Then, I looked up and printed page 1 from here:
I am going to ask my daughter to circle which of the twelve guidelines she thinks she should follow in completing this assignment and then discuss it with me prior to designing a stamp for each decade from 1800-Present (the period she's going to be studying this year).  There's a lot of information on the art of design in this packet and it would be a great cross-curriculum art lesson from the postal museum!
I used this worksheet:, cut out two of the strips, made a new copy of this page on my printer, and then wrote the number above for each decade from our history we're covering.

Assessment Ideas  In putting together my materials, I found myself at a loss for some fun assessments and activities.  The lessons on this page gave me some great ideas that I could modify.