How’s Homeschool?

We are in the midst of our sixth week of first grade at home for Ladybug. I definitely have photo (42)moments of both What the heck are we doing? and This is amazing, I’m so glad we are doing this! 

One thing I have appreciated so much about home school is the flexibility. Last week I had a couple of funky days and a few things didn’t get done, but it was no problem to draw a little arrow on my calendar and get them done this week instead. This past Tuesday (the first day of public school for first graders here), we took off for the beach for the day and it was awesome to have the place to ourselves since everyone else was in school. One day a few weeks ago we packed up our school books and did our work at Starbucks– so we are definitely enjoying (and taking advantage of!) the flexibility!

photo (40)We started out with some poor attitude and eye-rolling from Ladybug, but we have worked through that (I hope…) and have pretty much established a good now-I-am-the-teacher and now-I-am-the-mom routine.

It has hit me more than once, that as soon as Stinkbug starts Kindergarten at home next year things will be much different than they are now with just one at home. It’s kinda like that panic you have when you’re pregnant with your second child and realize you have NO CLUE what to do with two kids at the same time. We’ll figure it out, but I am soaking in the calm before the multiple-kids-in-home-school storm.

The boys are attending a local preschool three mornings a week, so that is when the bulk of our home schooling takes place. On Monday mornings, Hubby hangs out with the boys while we do school. We are aiming for four days of home school a week, and the fifth day has been for any “spill over” work that we didn’t get to finish. I really like having this buffer day to finish things up.

Ladybug is taking private Turkish lessons once a week, and she will begin ballet (also once a week) in October. She would like to play soccer on a team, but we are still looking into photo (43)the possibility of this.

I have been pleased with all our curriculum choices so far this year. RightStart Math is very non-traditional, using manipulatives and games to teach and review concepts. I really like it and so does Ladybug. Our science choice, R.E.A.L Science Odyssey has also been very hands-on, and I am a fan. The boys usually do science with us, and they have also joined in for some of the history from Story of the World.

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I cannot say enough good things about Explode the Code, which I wasn’t sure about and bought on a whim. It has really strengthened Lady in phonics and carefully reading whole words (she was a big word-guesser before). It really shows the importance of every letter– stall and small are very different words with only one little difference! Our spelling curriculum, All About Spelling is also really helping her grow and I have been amazed at how involved it is. I just realized they also have a reading program, and I am planning to order it for after Christmas (when we should be done with Explode the Code and Beyond the Code.)

I see a definite interest forming in reading– it’s not as much of a chore anymore. She is really enjoying Cam Jansen books and we have family members on the hunt for them at secondhand book stores!

One of my favorite parts of our home school day is the time set aside for Bible reading andphoto (44) prayer at the beginning of the day. Ladybug is reading Jesus Calling for Kids (I read it to her usually, and then she looks up the verses in the Bible, journals, and prays for the people she has listed on prayer cards.) It is just sweet to see her finding things in the Bible, asking questions about what words and verses mean. Truly, it has been a blessing to start each school day with the emphasis in the right place.

Overall, our first grade home school experience is going really well. I am pleased with Ladybug’s progress and we are actually having a lot of fun together!

If you’re a home schooling mom in need of encouragement, check out my friend Jess’ post Letter to a Homeschool Mom.

2013-2014 ::First Grade Curriculum::

Welp, it’s that time of the year again– the school supply sections at Target and Walmart are being un-stocked as quickly as the staff can restock the crayons, paper, notebooks, and glue sticks.

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In our neck of the woods, public school doesn’t start until September, but we have already begun our home school year because honestly I’d rather start in August and be done in May than have the school year drag into June, or goodness no, July!

This is our first full year homeschooling since last year Ladybug had an array of different schooling situations as we navigated a combination of home school and public school here, and then did a semester of public school while we were in the States. Whew, it makes me tired just thinking of all that. Needless to say, I am happy we are simplifying down to one school option for her this year, although we do plan to enroll her in dance in the fall, and she will most likely also take private Turkish lessons with a tutor.

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For our curriculum, I am mostly pulling resources from The Well-Trained Mind. I have been impressed with them so far, and find myself agreeing with their methods and timing of things. One thing I really like about The Well-Trained Mind is that they outline what they suggest you teach when and then offer a myriad of suggested curriculum, so you can piece together your own classical curriculum from their recommendations. (Did you follow all of that?)

I have also been enjoying Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson, and want to work diligently with my husband to ensure we are educating our children fully– carefully teaching and instructing their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual spheres.

So, without further ado, for first grade, these are the books/resources we are using:

Language Arts

  • Explode the Code and Beyond the Code (Ladybug is not as strong in phonics as I would like, so we are beginning here to build her up in this area… I don’t think it’s a WTM suggestion though.)
  • Books to Remember reading series
  • First Language Lessons
  • Writing with Ease
  • Five in a Row Volumes 1 & 2 (I love FIAR for read aloud– they are great, classic books! The boys usually listen in to the stories before naptime.)
  • All About Spelling Levels A & B


  • Right Start Levels A & B (We are restarting Level A since we didn’t get through it all last fall– Right Start is not a traditional Western math curriculum, but I really like it’s approach with manipulatives and games instead of worksheets.)

Social Studies/Science/Art

  • Story of the World Volume 1 + various extra books recommended in Story of the World
  • REAL Science Odyssey Level 1
  • Drawing with Children
  • Masterpieces: A Fact-Filled Coloring Book

The boys will start attending a local preschool next week and will go three mornings a week. We are shooting for a four day home school week, so I will only have one morning a week to juggle the boys alongside our schoolwork. I plan to keep them busy on that morning with 1. special time with Daddy if he’s available, 2. puzzles, 3. pattern blocks, 4. preschool apps on the iPad, or 5. any other trick I can find up my sleeve.

(I purchased all of my curriculum from Amazon and the Rainbow Resource Center.)

My Baby Girl is Six Today

Dear Ladybug,

Happy Mother's Day+ Two Days

What in the world…?! I can hardly fathom that you were placed in my arms six years ago today! I have so much I want to tell you, so much my heart wants you to know.

I want to tell you how beautiful you are. You have your own sense of style that just knocks me out. I miss picking your clothes out for you, but I love watching you try out your own combinations of outfits, rock cowboy boots with everything, add jewelry and accessories as you see fit. I love it. Keep rocking it girl, don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t have style.


I want you to know I know how smart you are. I have been amazed as I’ve heard the vocabulary you’ve chosen to use sometimes! Your diligent persistence at reading this year has paid off and you’re doing amazingly! I love hearing you talk about and explain the world to your brothers and your knowledge about spiritual things is stunning. You have a big beautiful brain and you’re doing a great job exercising it, stretching it, and learning all you can about the world– you go girl!

It's only cosmetic...I love your sensitive heart. You sense needs in others that I’m not sure they realize themselves. I appreciate your willingness to help and serve.

I adore your smile, your laugh, your quickness to make a joke.

I think you are an awesome friend. You are fiercely loyal and very generous with those you hold dear.

I love that you love our family. You enjoy every moment with your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousin. You are quick to point out how lovely it is to all be together. You love game nights, movie nights, hiking and all sorts of adventures with your dad, your brothers and me.

There are so many things I cherish about you, Ladybug. Thanks for being my daughter, myDSC_0133 sweet first gift from the Lord.

Love always and forever,


But I am like a green olive tree
    in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
    forever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)

On Due Dates and Growing Up

Dearest Ladybug,

IMG_0434Today was your “due date” six years ago. (Let’s all notice that your sixth birthday is not for 13 more days making me a very uncomfortable, impatient lady six years ago…) As I reflect on the past six years I am blown away by how much you have changed. And how much I have changed as well.

Two days ago you got your ears pierced and as I watched you pinch your face up in IMG_1612anticipation of the moment, my heart ached. You looked so big and yet so small in that chair all by yourself. My eyes leaked a little (maybe it was slightly more than a little) because I was so proud and so sad all at once.

Motherhood is this whole big jumble of juxtaposition. I love having babies, and I want them to transition well to full-sized humanhood, but then I miss holding my sweet milk-breathed, soft skinned, fuzzy-headed, smelling-like-baby-wash little ones. I want you to grow up well and I’m so proud when you do things like write your name, share with your brothers without being asked, and graduate from Kindergarten. But then my heart breaks a little because it’s all too fast, too quick, too much without warning.

IMG_0617I’ll go ahead and apologize for crying in public in Claire’s. I’m sorry, sweet girl, if that embarrassed you. And here’s a few more since I’m sure it won’t be the last time: I’m sorry I can’t control these emotions sometimes about your growing up and getting big, I’m sorry I’ll probably cry again next time you reach some milestone, I’m sorry I can’t keep my junk together and keep my tears inside. Motherhood is just like that. It wrecks me. In such a good, beautiful way.

Maybe one day you’ll have a little red-headed girl who’ll pick out her own clothes, start wearing lip gloss and painting her nails, and pick out her own earrings for getting her ears done, and you’ll know why I cried. Because you’ll reach up and feel tears wet on your own smiling cheeks.


Last Day of Kindergarten

oliviakinder first + lastMy girl has done so awesome this year! Because of our transitions between countries, she has done local school in Turkey, home school, and American public school all in her Kindergarten year! She has done so well and handled each school situation with ease and grace. She is totally awesome.

I am so proud of you, Ladybug!


The Big Sister

We’ve had some dramatic outbursts with Ladybug around here lately as we talk and pray about Little Sister coming via adoption. Today she cried about us loving her less when her new sister comes. We calmly tried to explain that as mommies and daddies our love grows with each new child God adds to our family, and our love for her won’t change. She wept as she told her daddy, “But your love for me will have to move over in your heart to make room for her.”

After some time alone in her room crying and talking to herself (not so quietly), she came out with some scribbles on a yellow legal page and asked if she could read me what she “wrote”. Of course, Ladybug!

Dear Little Sister,

Please feel welcome into our family. Please feel welcome and comfortable.


Your Dramatic Sister



The longer I do this mom thing the more humbling it is for me.

Take for example, yesterday, SEPTEMBER 29 (check your calendars– it’s supposed to be fall, y’all!) and  it had to be 100* outside. It was hot. Stifling, actually.

(OK, I just checked and the high was 93*… still not my preferable fall weather.)

Anyway, I was enjoying our local outdoor mall with the kids, I hadn’t planned well, and the trip ended in a toy store with Doodlebug screaming, “I waaann waaak” from the stroller, the older two hanging on the sides of the stroller (making it ever so difficult to make forward progress), we were on the opposite end of the mall from where the car was parked (of course) and it was nap time. As we were walking I started talking about how hot it was and wondering why it didn’t feel more like fall. I thought I was just chatting to help the kids not think about the long, hot trek to the car when Ladybug said so matter-of-factly, “Mommy, it sounds like you’re complaining and arguing.”


Seriously when I taught the kids Philippians 2:14 so I could bust it out when they are complaining, I had no forethought to the fact that it might come back to bite me in the butt.

I was speechless for a second and then I had to confess that I was complaining about the heat and ask for forgiveness.

Humbled. Again.

And thankful. How many jobs out there come with an extra cute mini “holy spirit” to keep you in check?

Look Out Kindergarten! Here We Come!

I blinked and my baby girl is starting Kindergarten tomorrow.

It’s so true that the days of the preschool chapter of motherhood feel l o n g, but my do the years fly by! As I count out the candles for each birthday, I shake my head in disbelief that another year has passed by at break-neck speed. New mommies– hold that baby a little longer. Drink in her milky scent. Watch her as she sleeps. Soak. It. All. In. Today.

Now, it’s time for us to start something new. More intentional teaching and preparing… more pencil and paper time… more discussions about how things work and why… more careful practice of letter formation… more fitting letters together and creating words, sentences, paragraphs, stories… more shapes, numbers, tally marks, calendar time…

The teacher inside of my is over the moon with making sight words cards and a daily journal, organizing our readers, buying new school supplies.

The mom inside me is torn, cautiously excited. I miss my baby, sure, but I am loving watching the girl she is becoming.

(Yes, we may be homeschooling, but there will be First Day pictures tomorrow!)

All Three Baby Bug Names

I have loved every second of picking names for my Bugs.  When I saw Amy’s post about Naming Babies, it made me want to share about our name choices for Ladybug and Stinkbug last year as we waited for Doodlebug to arrive. I have redone this post to include our sweet third baby!

Olivia Grace

(Olive tree, Unmerited favor)

But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)

When I was newly pregnant, I was reading verses and passages in Scripture about the blessing of children.  I read Psalm 128, which states that children will be like “olive plants” around the table.  That verse cross referenced Psalm 52:8 in my Bible, and I fell in love with the name Olivia, since it meant “olive tree”.  What a perfect verse for my daughter– I desire that she would be content to dwell in the Lord’s presence, and I pray that she will always trust in His steadfast love.

Olivia being four syllables meant (for me) that we needed a succinct middle name, so her name would just flow.  (OK, so I’m a little nuts-o about the sound of names!)  I think Grace is a beautiful name, and even more beautiful is the meaning that “grace” or “unmerited favor” holds for me and Hubby.  God has given us so much grace in our years on this earth, Olivia’s middle name is a tribute to His graciousness.

Hudson Isaiah

(Bright in mind and spirit, Salvation is from the Lord)

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)

When Hubby and I were in college, we spent a summer working with students in China.  In preparation for the trip we read Hudson Taylor’s biography.  We were both impressed with the man Hudson Taylor was and once we were married and pregnant, decided we liked Hudson as a boy’s name.  The passage above from Psalm 73 epitomized to us not only how Hudson Taylor lived his time here on earth, but how we desire our son to live– desiring Christ above all else.  So we chose it as Hudson’s life verse.  (The actual meaning of Hudson is “son of Hugh” or “son of the hooded man”, and Hugh means “bright in mind and spirit”, hence the meaning above.)

Isaiah is our favorite book of the Old Testament, and we liked how it sounded with Hudson as a middle name.  When you add that Isaiah means “salvation is from the Lord”, how could we not choose this name for our first son?

Jackson Luke

(Gracious gift of God; Light)

But as for me, <sup class="xref" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: 0.5em; vertical-align: text-top;" value="(AT)”>the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my <sup class="xref" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: 0.5em; vertical-align: text-top;" value="(AU)”>refuge,
That I may <sup class="xref" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: 0.5em; vertical-align: text-top;" value="(AV)”>tell of all Your works. (Psalm 73:28)

When we were choosing boy names, I had lists of names I liked and Hubby could not agree to any of them. Until I read “Jackson” and he said, “I like Jackson”. It seemed like one of the few names we could agree on, and I liked both our boys’ names ending with “son”. I love that Jack means “gracious gift of God”. I was pregnant and miscarried in January 2010… in March I was having health issues and before going to see the doctor took a pregnancy test just to be sure it wasn’t that. Lo and behold it was positive! Jackson was God’s gracious gift right after my miscarriage. I didn’t even know about him until I was 10 weeks pregnant.

Luke is such a sweet boy’s name, and we both love the Gospel of Luke. Jackson Luke truly is a light in our family and we are so glad to have him as part of us! His verse was chosen on his birthday as it was the only verse I could recall during his C-section. Just as the nearness of God was my good that day, I pray that Jackson would always seek to be near to the Lord.