Wednesday, August 7, 2019


Today I am grateful for a dining room table of girls to teach.

Today I am grateful for the hot chocolate I am sipping.

Today I am grateful for a husband who works hard and is so incredibly kind and thoughtful.

Today I am grateful for the snuggly pets we own, the swishy fishy, and the roadrunner we have seen streaking through our backyard this past week.  (Incidentally, they do NOT look like Looney Tunes)

Today I am grateful for friends who send me country home house listings and for future coffee dates.

Today I am grateful for an amazing vet office, with kind and compassionate staff.

Today I am grateful that some human anti-epileptics transfer over to dogs.  (Arendale had a seizure as we walked into the vet office last week for his check-up.  I HATE seizures.)

Today I am grateful that fall is closer and closer with each day that I check off on my calendar.

Today I am grateful for the fact that some people draw a line in the sand and say, "I will NOT cross that line, no matter what everyone else does."

Today I am grateful for good books and great discussions.

I am looking forward to homemade bread, beef stews & chilis, pumpkin spice candles, hot coffee in delicate china cups, my birthday!!! *even though I will be 43 (where has the time gone?!?!).  I am looking forward to warm jackets and see your breath mornings, crunchy fall leaves, running and not feeling like I need a portable air conditioner just to make it through.  I am looking forward to the holidays and pumpkin pies and warm cookies.

Always I am grateful that God woke me up this morning, that His Word was here to greet me and a fresh new day, just as it is there at the end of a long, awful day, to comfort me (especially when it was me who was awful!) and soothe me before bed.

Always I am grateful that Jesus came, lived the life He lived, died the death He died, and that He lives right now, interceding on our behalf in the very presence of God.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Teaching with Special Needs in Mind

As the years have passed and my children have grown, their needs and learning disabilities have evolved and changed.  What worked last year, definitely will not work this year, and what works for one when they are twelve, most certainly will not work for the other one when they are twelve.  I find this fascinating and challenging.

Between the three of them, they have a wide range of special needs and learning disabilities.  Some mild, others profound/severe.  I am by no means an expert on the various diagnoses that they each have, but I have learned a LOT.  With that said, one thing that has remained consistent through the years, across the board, no matter the subject matter or the child, is this:  they need lots and lots and lots of review. The problem comes when you realize that there are only so many hours in the day, so if you want to move forward, how can you do that while not forgetting what you just covered?  Especially if what you just covered is a stepping stone for where you are headed?  

I have tried lots of different ways to incorporate the review that was sorely needed, while not eating away at instruction time.  For example, I have made folders according to topics with practice problems in them, so they can grab the folder of whatever topic is at hand and review on their own time.  I have made task cards and created boxes to hold them and assigned x amount of cards per day.  Both of those are great ideas, and in theory, would work, but I have found out that my kids need the review to be more structured, led by me.  Because sometimes they are reviewing something written on a card or in a folder, but it was if I told them to go eat using a menu at a french restaurant to pick their food when all that they knew of that language is the phrase 'french fries' (which I am fairly certain isn't even on that menu).  So then I tried using anchor charts, notebooks, printed notes, outlines etc; again, all great tools, but it just wasn't accomplishing what I needed it to accomplish.  However, this summer I stumbled on an idea, and it has already made a HUGE difference.

Every morning, I usually work one on one with my kids for the a.m. session.  We do language arts and math together.  As you know the phrase language arts encompasses a LOT: phonics, reading, reading comprehension, handwriting, composition, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and sometimes elocution and speech.  Due to the particular challenges that my kids have, they need to do one aspect of language arts every school day for a long time, so for example, if it is grammar this year, there will naturally be writing, reading, vocabulary, and even elocution included, but the focus is on grammar.  By grammar I mean, focusing on finding out what part of speech is doing what and where it is doing that at in a sentence, paragraph, and/or composition and what kind of punctuation is needed to make that meaning clear.  

So, this summer I took a spiral notebook and divided it in half.  One half is for the language arts topic (grammar for example) and the other half is math.  I then took the table of contents of the text we are using and/or the scope and sequence I use to guide our progress and created questions using Bloom's Taxonomy as a guide.  I use the questions in Bloom's Taxonomy to make sure that their knowledge, understanding, and grasp of the topic progresses from superficial to internal.  I not only want them to know what a noun is and what it is not, but I also want them to be able to apply that knowledge and use it correctly.  

The second half of the notebook I use for math. (example below)
Then every day when we begin the lesson we spend ten to fifteen minutes going through the questions.  As their knowledge and understanding increases and they are accurately able to give the definitions, then we progress into application questions, then into analyzing and evaluating and from there into creating.  This not only keeps the topics fresh in their mind, but it also creates a daily habit of review.  Eventually, there will be the things that they know that they know that they know, you know?  πŸ˜ƒ  When you reach something that you know they know, they know that they know, then you put a dot by it and review it at first on Mondays and Fridays, then just Mondays, and eventually just during review week.  

That is something else that I am doing this year, every two months I am going to have a review week. I call it a review week, but really it is a week of testing.  I use the notebook I am creating as a guide and create a test with one or two problems per question and then give it to them.  I will not help them, correct them, or allow them to use their notes for this, but I do sit next to them and it is never timed.  Afterwards, I file the tests away in a folder and use these 'tests' to show our progress over the year and also guide me in determining what questions still need to be reviewed daily that maybe I thought they had mastered when they had not.  

Also, a side note.  For the topics that we do together, science, history, and read-alouds - do not be afraid to make a notebook for these.  Science and history are pretty self-explanatory -science definitely lends itself to using the table of contents and/or scope and sequence, history I find using a timeline to guide us or a map of the country(s) helps with the review and solidifying of the knowledge/understanding.  Read-alouds though are in a class all on their own.  I use little dolls for the characters and have them re-enact parts or use them to discuss character development, I also use discussion dice - they are foam dice with discussion questions printed on them.  Mainly though I know a story has stayed with them because it shows up everywhere, in their play, at the dinner table, when hearing a news article, or real-life example and then they turn to you and say something along the lines of, "Doesn't that remind you of when Oscar N. Reteep..." Then you know that the Wingfeather Saga has made a difference.  Or "Do you think that Sundar Singh would have done that?"  Then you know they are thinking about the missionary biography you read last Wednesday.

Hope this helps😍 & have a great week!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

July brings great things...

It brings my husband's birthday ❤

My husband is my very best friend, my favorite person, and I love him so much.

Whether it's folding laundry or listening to an audiobook or doing both, I love spending time with him.

Happy Birthday, Richard.  You are such an amazing gift to us!  I pray this year is awesome for you, that you know how very special you and how much the girls and I adore you!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

What we have read...

So we have been really, really disappointed in some of the books that we have tried this summer...

The American Story by Jennifer Armstrong.  I checked this out from the library with great hopes, it started off ok, but then I arrived at the story of the Salem Witch Trials and the story of Jonathan Edwards.  The book took an anti-Christian bias that I was not prepared for.  I was really, really disappointed in how they handled the Salem Witch Trials and even more so in how the author portrayed Jonathan Edwards.  With that said we did giggle over The Great Molasses Flood, but all in all, I am really, really glad we checked this book out of the library and did not purchase it.

North! or Be Eaten (Book 2 Wingfeather Saga) by Andrew Peterson.  We are currently reading this one, and we have shed more than a few tears!

Sundar Singh - Footprints Over the Mountains - Christian Heroes Now and Then.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this story, we are about halfway through it.

Nelly Bly - Fairness.  When I was a little girl my mom bought a book series she collected book by book, each is a biography about someone who demonstrated a character trait worth emulating.  I am now reading these to my youngest (many are re-reads for my oldest two).

Cilla Lee Jenkins: This Book is a Classic by Susan Tan.  My girls received book one for Christmas this past year and it was one of our favorite, favorite books that I have read aloud to them.  So, of course, when I saw book two on the shelf at our library I snatched it up and we excitedly dove right in.  This book was SUCH a disappointment.  Seriously, such a let down.

Squirrel in the Museum (Twitch the Squirrel) by Vivian Vande Velde.  OK, we absolutely LOVE this series.  My husband is currently reading this book aloud to our girls and me.

Bible in 90 Days.  I am trying to make my way through the Bible in 90 days again.  I am currently behind.

Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz.  My oldest is reading this to my youngest.

Portraits of Little Women series by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  My middle daughter loves this series of books.  She says if you love the book Little Women, you will love these!

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.  My middle girl and I are reading this together, next up? ...Little Women of course :).

Something Needs to Change by David Platt.  I read this book in a few days, it is an advanced copy, and I am going to do a blog post soon about it.  It is, in short,...AMAZING!!!

My kids have discovered the wonderful world of choose your own adventures and have devoured several such stories.  I remember loving these when I was about their age.

I am re-reading Lori Wick's series The Californians.  I last read this series when I was in my late teens, early twenties.  It is fun to reread it now, as a wife and mom.

Speaking of being a wife, my husband and I just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary.  I am SO excited that we have been married for nineteen years.  He is, quite literally, my very favorite person on earth (outside of our kids of course:)!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

so this weekend was interesting...

A few years ago my husband and I bought one of our kids a puggle puppy to replace a service dog.  He was sick almost from the moment we brought him home until it culminated in his having emergency surgery one cold Sunday night in February (2018).  For the past year, he has been healthy and happy - we were very relieved and ready for years and years of happiness and health.  Well, this past weekend this little guy started having seizures. 

It was a long, scary weekend.  

The child that we bought him for also suffers from epilepsy so it seems cruelly ironic that this dog would be the one to be diagnosed with epilepsy.  On Saturday night I literally walked the floors holding this little guy, it was a very, very, VERY long night.  We started a new med yesterday and I 'think' we are on the right track.  

I don't know what else to say, except for I hope the rest of the summer is quieter and less dramatic.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Belated Birthday Wishes

So May somehow slipped by, during which my middle child turned fifteen - HOW in the world is that possible?

I still remember waddling down the hospital hallway early, early one morning for her birth.  I still remember holding her for the first time, she was so tiny, sweet, and swaddled so tightly in those blue and pink hospital blankets.  I remember her first pacifiers, her sleeping in the moses basket, tucking her into her little carrier in the car and trying to wrestle my (then) two-year old into a car seat next to her.  I remember her crawling for the first time (she scooted backward a lot πŸ˜ƒ ), I remember her walking and potty training.  I remember when we moved several states away the weekend after she had turned two, her blond curly pigtails barely visible if you looked in the side window 😍).  I remember she couldn't see over the counters of doctor offices and bathroom vanities when we first got here and now, thirteen years after that move, she stands taller than me by a few inches.  Where did the time go?

She has turned into a beautiful young lady who someday dreams of adopting and rescuing a little girl or boy who needs a mommy to love them.  Happy birthday beautiful girl, we all love you SO deeply❣

Thursday, May 9, 2019


What I have been doing...

My husband, myself, and our three girls watched Secret Church 2019, have you heard of this?!?!  It was AMAZING.  Seriously, the neatest experience we have had as a family.

(here are the past years so you can get an idea of what I am talking about).

Anyway, around the end of 2017/beginning of 2018, I read The Insanity of God, it was seriously one of those books that just changes you, wrecks your perspective on what it means to follow God.  Participating in Secret Church gave a tangible experience as to what it is like to have six hours(ish) to consume, digest, and revel in the Word, literally like the hidden churches all over the world do.

I highly, highly recommend gathering those closest to you and hosting a simulcast.  It is amazing.  Seriously amazing.

I started Weight Watchers (I am doing it on my own, free with resources I found online) on Monday.  I have tracked with my lose it! app to make sure that I am moving in the right direction, since it isn't based on counting calories per se, and since I don't have someone(s) guiding my journey.  The hardest part of any weight loss journey is the starting and sticking to it when you see no immediate results.  *sigh*  But, as with anything else, it is worth the effort.  And time.  And endless steamed broccoli and carrot sticks, right?

What I have been reading...

I just finished a book, it was an advanced copy, the actual book doesn't release until September.  I have contacted the author to see if we are allowed to talk about it - because - it is one of those books you can't stop thinking about when you close the last page.

I read When Jesus Wept by Bodie and Brock Thoene, I borrowed it from the library and it is about when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  It is based on the Bible stories/accounts but is definitely fiction, with that caveat, it is a really good read.  I am now reading Take This Cup, I think it technically was supposed to be read first, but it just came available for check-out, so I am quickly trying to read it before it's due back.  There are only so many hours in the day, I wish I had more of those for reading.

My kids and I are literally at the very end of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, the first book in the Wingfeather Saga, and we LOVE it.  It is REALLY, REALLY good.  I am so glad book two arrived yesterday because it looks like it going to leave off on a cliffhanger. 

We finished up George Mueller (it was our second time through this book, we LOVE his story).  We are now reading Footprints Over the Mountain, Sundar Singh's story.

I recently received two books, Meeting God in Quiet Places and Meeting God in Holy Places as a gift for Mother's Day.  OH MY.  These books are really good.  My kids wanted me to read Meeting God in Quiet Places out loud, so we are going through that one together, I am reading Holy Places to myself and it is so beautiful.

I am also pre-reading The Book Thief and Endling, the Last to see if they are good for my girls.

In the middle of it all I am trying to not let all of these wonderful words and pages of words sift through my fingers.  I mean some stories are good for that, you enjoy them, create beautiful memories with your family, and just be reminded of what a gift it is to be able to read and take simple joy in someone else's incredible talent.  Kind of like decorative cupcakes, I cannot make them, but boy can I eat them and fully enjoy the talent of the one who can πŸ˜ƒ. 

But other books are more of a full healthy meal, with a large salad, which takes a looooong time to chew through.  It is meant to nourish you, be deeply enjoyed yes, but to change the way you move through your day.  You aren't the same person after you read that book, you cannot continue going through the motions of each day the same way you did before.