Homeschooling Holy Week

This icon is on my computer desktop.  Oddly it’s one of my absolute favorites and yet we don’t have one for our walls.  So every year I add it to the desk top and it stays there for quite a long time.  A visual reminder of what this week and what our faith is about.

So it’s Holy Week already.  Wow-  and I thought Lent was hard.  Today has been full of difficult challenges- emotionally and physically,  but I keep looking forward-  knowing the resurrection is coming- knowing there is light at the end of these dark tunnels and God can pull us through anything.  But there are moments, difficult moments, in which it is very hard to keep the eye on the One Thing Needful.

This week will be a light week as far as homeschooling goes.  Really there are no lessons planned.  Just a pile of materials.

Though these will be our focus.

And all the days go like today even these may not be consumed in the entirety as I hoped.

But there is church services.  And there is Pascha.  What else is truly necessary?

Our Little Icon Wall in our dining room

 

The “An Orthodox Homeschool” blog tells about our homeschool life. As always, you can check out more about me and our life at my main blog, The Many Hats of an Orthodox Mom.
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What I’m Reading

While this list is not all about homeschooling, it’s a small snapshot of my own list as well as some of the books we are using in school, so I thought I’d go ahead and include it here.  As always, if you want to learn more about our lives, besides homeschooling, you can visit my main blog:  The Many Hats of An Orthodox Mom at orthodoxmom3.com.   Enjoy the post and let me know what you are reading!

A long time ago I used to do monthly updates here.  I kind of told what things I was doing in a month- a sort of update on our homeschool life, food life, my writing and book life, and more.  I’m not sure that I’ll get back to that, but what I thought I would do since books are such a big part of my life (as should they be for all of us!) is share what I’m reading. So we’ll see how this goes.  Maybe I’ll make it a monthly thing.

Goodreads

I keep track of a lot of what I read on Goodreads.  And you’ll see I usually have a LOT on my list at a time.  I used to be worried that this was strange…..then I started reading about Charlotte Mason and her methods and realized I must have been Charlotte in another life…. lol!  Just kidding!  But really, her homeschool methods teach about taking just small bits at a time from a book and giving the child time to think it over and ponder, if you will, and let it all soak in.  And she would have them read from various books each day – history, literature, nature, poetry, etc.  Some books a few pages or chapter a day, some only once a week.  So pretty much I’ve been doing ‘Charlotte Mason’ with myself all along.

Find me on Goodreads  HERE.

What I’m Reading

Adrenal Fatigue:  The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson  –  This book is instrumental in understanding the reality of adrenal fatigue.  How one’s health can be affected by stressors and the importance of how our food, environment and things we do to cope with stress are all important facets to adrenal health and all of this and more are discussed by Dr. Wilson.  It is written by an expert but also  it a way that is easily understood by the layman without talking down to the patient.  It is a good read thus far.

Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Tikhon Shevkunov   This is quite the lengthy read and I’ve been working on it for some time.  I’m about halfway through.  There is a great number of stories in this work that you will find inspiring and occasionally humorous.  And you will certainly know that miracles do happen even today.

Thirty Steps to Heaven:  The Ladder of Divine Ascent for All Walks of Life by Vassillios Papavassilliou  I’ve actually referred to this book several times in recent posts.  I can’t say enough about it.  I personally feel that even non-orthodox would benefit greatly from this book as it talks about all of the virtues we must all strive towards as Christians.

A Beginner’s Guide to Prayer: The Orthodox Way to Draw Close to God by Michael Keiser   I started this book before Lent and actually wrote a few posts in regards to prayer before Lent.   Being that I’ve promised myself to read my bible readings and a few pages of Thirty Steps to Heaven each day before reading anything else and my consumption of adrenal fatigue and other health related selections, I haven’t had a lot of time for this one but it remains in my morning devotion pile and will be included in my morning readings again soon!

Blueprints for the Little Church: Creating an Orthodox Home by Elissa D. Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker    This is the selection my husband and I are reading together.  Blueprints discusses how we are to involve our children in the life of the Church from birth onward both in the church and at home.

6 Secrets to a Lasting Love: Recapturing Your Dream Marriage by Gary Rosberg  I read another book by Rosberg recently and I really enjoyed his style of writing about very intimate personal issues in a non-threatening manner and with a Christian perspective.  I have found some very good guidance in this book.  I really think every couple should read marriage books throughout their lives- always keeping discussion of the marriage and the marriage itself front and center to their lives.  My husband and I aren’t currently reading this one together but I do mark spots and read them to him for discussion along with other books we read together.

The Ancient Faith Prayer Book by Vassilious Papavassiliou –  you know I didn’t even realize it was the same author as 30 Steps to Heaven until I was writing this out.  I’m enjoying using this prayer book.  I think it may move into one of my favorites.

The Ascetic Lives of Mothers, a Prayer Book for Orthodox Moms by Annalisa Boyd  –  I read this book awhile back and even wrote a book review.  I just felt that while I often use this as a resource, it was time to read it through again.  Books like these always offer more every time

Delicious Blogging:  The Ingredients You Need To Create a Better Blog by Debi Stangeland  Debi is a book on my Kindle (I seldom use the kindle as I just can’t resist a paper copy but it does come in handy ) some great ideas for bloggers, especially those starting out or with smaller blogs who want to have more success with finding readers and interacting with their public.

What I’m Reading With My Son

My son is 7. (Wow- that’s the first time I’ve written that- he just turned 7 last week!).  He’s techinically in first grade-  but I don’t go by that.  We read what we think is fun and what I think he will be interested in or what I deem important.  I don’t consider grade level.  It’s more about age, interests and abilities.

Little Town on the Prairie (Little House #7) by Laura Ingalls Wilder  –  Actually, we just finished this one last night!  My son has been loving the Little House series.  And I still have my set from when I was young! We just started with them at the beginning of this school year.  Only one or two of them was on the Ambleside list for this year – a source I used last year and the beginning of this year.  But while I find their book lists as a handy guide, I find their style too restricting.  So while they only have a few of the books listed for this year-  I let my son’s enjoyment and enthusiasm to read more lead us.  These books have lent so many lovely discussions.  We have also introduced the TV series-  we don’t do a lot of TV here, but this is one series I encourage and enjoy right along with him.

The World’s Worst Fairy Godmother by Bruce Coville   This is just a humerous story by one of my favorite children’s authors. We are starting this tonight. I don’t necessarily like all of Coville’s books, but some of them have been favorites.  We recently read Jennifer Murdley’s Toad.

Misty of Chicoteague by Marguerite Henry  We just started Misty.  While fictional, I chose to read it as part of our history type literature as it does talk about legendary history and the story behind the wild ponies of Asateague Island (where I spent my honeymoon incidentally).  I wanted to introduce him to the Marguerite Henry books and selected this one to see if he would like them.

Red, White, Blue, and Uncle Who? The Story Behind Some of America’s Patriotic Symbols by Teresa Bateman and John O’Brien     This is a charming little book to introduce youngsters to the symbols of our country including the Statue of Liberty, The Liberty Bell, The Lincoln Monument and more. I’ve chosen to use picture books for the most part in our American History studies thus far but am looking to start on some nice biographies soon.

What My Son is reading TO ME

Yes-  he has started reading to ME now.  This is his choice- his desire and I love it!

The Mystery at the Taj Mahal (India) by Carole Marsh    My sister got him about ten of this series for Christmas.  I selected to allow him to read them to himself at night while I sit and read in bed. He has read one on his own, is reading another and reads this one to me every now and then.

He also reads from his Children’s Bible Reader to me on the way to our Schole class every Tuesday and at other times when I’m cleaning up the kitchen before we start our short lessons for the day.

So–  that pretty much sums up what I’m reading.

How about YOU?

Full of Grace

Today is the Feast Day of the Annunciation  –  the announcement made by the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would have a child.

The Gospel Reading is Luke 1:25-38.

“And having come, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.’

Mary was blessed.  She was highly favored, Full of Grace!

She is, in fact, the most blessed woman who has ever lived because of her absolute and complete  willingness to receive God’s grace .  As spoken by her son, the Theotokos, Mary, was blessed to “hear the word of God and keep it” (see Luke 11:28).  She was the first to say yes to Jesus!  Her response was of highest obedience to God.  She sets an example for us all.

Where the first woman, Eve, was disobedient to God, Mary is obedient.

This is an obedience to God we can all learn from.  And teach to others.  Especially our children.

Will I teach my 6 year old about Mary’s virginity?  No, not this year.  Will we have lots of lessons to  teach him about all the details of Mary’s life and about the Betrothal between her and Joseph and teach him how Jesus was her only son and that Joseph’s other children came from a previous marriage?  All of this in due time, but for a 6 year old?  My focus is on the most important aspect.  Mary said Yes!  She said Yes to God and that is what we all must do.  She is the greatest woman who ever lived because she accepted God’s will with willingness.

Accepting God’s will with willingness.

Isn’t accepting God’s will  what we all struggle with?

Isn’t obedience what we all struggle with?

Isn’t obedience what our children struggle with?

This feast day is a wonderful opportunity to teach our children the wonderful ways of obedience-  how obedience to God can change the world.

For more about why I think Mary is the Greatest Woman Who Ever lived, see my post from November, 2013.

NOTE:  This post is selected from homeschool related posts from my main blog, The Many Hats of an Orthodox Mom.  Please follow the main blog to see all posts about the Many Hats I wear!

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy steadfast love…

We read over it daily.

We talk about the meaning of the words, the meaning of the prayer.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

I make him aware of his transgressions and, sure enough, he makes me aware of my own.  Not so much in our lessons, but in day to day life.  Those are the most important lessons of all.

Our children are tools to our salvation.  No one can point out to me my sinful ways or humble me quite as quickly as this little being.

Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

God gave us these children.  They teach us wisdom.  Oh but to have the open eyes of a child!  To see the glories they see-  and to see the truths that come so easily to them!

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

A constant prayer on my lips, in my heart…

Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy holy Sprit from me.

I need His ever presence.  I need the guidance of the spirit.  I must look to Him to restore my joy.  I must guide this young child to always seek His presence.

O Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise

Oh and Lord close them when they need to be closed!

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit

Stay close to me Lord- through this Lenten season and all the seasons to come.  Help me to break this prideful spirit…help me to sacrifice and show Thy steadfast love and Thy abundant mercy to all as you have given freely to me.

Help me to teach these young ones the same.

Thank you to Basil Fritts of Flickr for the photo- slight adjustments were made.

An Apple a Day…

An Apple a Day MIGHT keep the doctor away, among other vegetables and healthy meats and proteins, but too many will keep the doctor coming…  and we discussed this in our very quick lesson using google finds.

My son is not thrilled that he had to give up his habit of a small dish of organic ice-cream or a small  gluten-free ice-cream cone as his bedtime snack for Lent.  We give up dairy and all processed foods during our Whole30 which we do during Lent for fasting and health reasons.

However, he does like his apples.  Add a little peanut butter/almond butter (he claims he doesn’t like almond butter but I mixed it half and half for two weeks without his knowledge…we are moving on to about 1/3 pb and 2/3 almond butter this week) and he’s a happy kid.

So the other night he asked what  was good about apples. ” Let’s make that a project for tomorrow”, I said.  “Write a note to remind us and we’ll spend some time looking that up.”  So with apple in hand we did just that yesterday.

We found some pretty cool videos and sites.

Fun Nutrition For Kids!  Fresh Apple vs. Fast Food Apple Pie

Apples: History & Nutrition

Fresh For Kids: Apple

Apples 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits   –  This one we breezed through-  and I made note of the link because I figured this will be a good base of vocabulary to start with as I begin teaching him REAL nutrition- not necessarily what you find in the public school health books (see below).  He knows about vitamins & minerals, sort of , so that’s what we are starting with (apples are a good source of vitamin c and potassium).

Here’s his summary of the most important things we learned.

-Apples have vitamin c – even more than an orange!

-There’s a lot of good stuff in the skin so we should eat that.

-It’s better to eat the apple than the pie.

-There’s sugar in apples so don’t eat too many.

I don’t think that’s too bad for a quick fun lesson 😉

And today, he forgot all about apples and went on to paint and ladybugs 🙂     Funny kid.

*****Just a side note:  I’m a little cautious about the sources I use.  So doing a cold google search was a little frustrating.  There’s lots of stuff out there about the food pyramid and I do NOT encourage the use of the food pyramid at all.  I want him to know about the nutrients of foods, but also want him to learn that yes, fats are good, sugar – even in apples- isn’t.  So we have to talk through what we learn.  We need to learn about the nutrients , but also about the things that counter the nutrients and how to balance it all out.  This was a good start.  Apples are good-  too many aren’t. And we encourage the almond butter with it to add some protein and healthy fat to the treat 🙂

This blog is a break off portion of my main blog, The Many Hats of an Orthodox Mom.  You may see more posts and more about our life there:  orthodoxmom3.com

 

Homemade Laundry Detergent!

So we skipped the homeschool Schole’ group today.  The little man hasn’t been feeling well over the last two days and still hadn’t eaten much as of bedtime last night.  So I made the decision to let him sleep in and give him an extra day of rest.  It did me good too as I decided since I had some open space, to NOT set my alarm and let me sleep in too.  So even with the hour I was awake during the night ( either a symptom of or another cause of the adrenal fatigue), I still managed to get some extra sleep!

Still we had some extra time today and I had just bought the ingredients to make laundry detergent though I had no idea when I was going to get some time to do it (I had no idea how quick it would be!).  So as he seemed a bit perkier, I thought, why not?

I got the recipe from a friend a few days ago and had bought the ingredients yesterday:

4 lbs baking soda                                               

4 lbs washing soda

1 lb kosher salt (not sure why it called for kosher but why not?)

3 bars fells naptha soap  (or 1 bar zote)    I got the fels naptha because that’s what Wegman’s had, though she told me Walmart has the Zote already shredded.

We just poured all the baking soda, washing soda and salt together in a big basin.

Then came the ‘fun’ part for my son.  Grating the fels naptha.  It really wasn’t bad.  He used the big bars until they were about half way then I did the rest-  being cautious of little fingers with the grater but really he did fine and I need to learn not to worry so much.

As we grated, I poured the shredded soap in with the soda mixture and stirred.  He enjoyed taking some turns to stir too.

After all was said and done, we poured the mix into some empty plastic containers I’ve had lying around for quite some time unused.  And Viola!  The first load is in the washer!

And other than  playing a game and some reading time tonight, that’s our school for today and it was great!

By the way, all the ingredients came to about $12.50, which is less than a bottle of the store brand natural detergent I’ve been using.  And we only need to use 1 Tablespoon of detergent per load so this will definitely last by far longer than what I use!  YAY!

Homeschooling – Our Progression

I’ve been all over the board when it comes to homeschooling.  Well, maybe not all over the board, but pretty close to it.

We started homeschooling  way back in , gosh, what year was that?  My daughter was in 5th grade when we pulled her out.  She’s now a senior in college (doing really well, thank you!) Wow.  What an adventure it has been!  When we first took her out, we spent the remaining months of the school year (it was March) in a rather relaxed state.  Not as relaxed as I would have liked it to have been knowing what I know now about all the different styles of homeschooling, but relaxed for what I knew.  Her emotional and physical health were my priority.  They were definitely more important than academics so since math and science totally stressed her out, we didn’t do much with it at all.  Oh, I got raised eyebrows on that one all right.  Especially from family members and others that just don’t get the concept of homeschooling or that education does NOT have to look like what it does in public schools.  I have to admit I allowed it to unnerve me a bit and I really wish  I hadn’t.  I wish I would have read more about Charlotte Mason and more about unschooling back then.  If I had, we would have dumped ALL academics the rest of that year and just focused on nature study and art study. Oh well, I can’t change the past.  But I can learn from it and from the experiences of others.

The following year we added my son to our homeschool (he finished out 1st grade but wanted to be home with us) and it was more of a school at home setup.  We did okay, used Sonlight for most things and Abeka Math.  We enjoyed the Sonlight materials but threw out a lot of the fluff by the end of the year.  The rest of the years was me piecing together this and that- but still looking for ‘curriculum’ for most subjects-  other than science the year we still lived in York and the kids did Envirothon with the homeschool group there.  Oh , THAT was grand!  I think they still look back as one of their best homeschooling experiences.

Time went by and now I have my senior in college, a senior in high school (yes, still at home!) AND an almost 7 year old.

My schooling style with THIS young man is completely different.  It’s even progressed during the last year.  I started out completely on board with the Charlotte Mason approach but quickly decided, that while I love her philosophy,  a mixture of her methods and unschooling methods may be more along our lines of educational philosophy at this time in our lives.  And it’s definitely more in line with my son’s needs and learning style.

I’m looking forward to sharing with you the things we are doing – the reading, the memory work, the nature walks, the timeline, the US map, Life of Fred, and, most importantly, the amount of FREE PLAY he is allowed.  Oh yes, and the JOY.  🙂

In the meantime, I have dinner to cook, a Lemongrass Spa event to plan, a 6 year old to read to, and lots of things to catch up on from the week before driving my oldest son off to his girlfriend’s grandmother’s home where he will be leaving for a trip to Florida to see his girlfriend.  So while you are waiting for the next Homeschool Update Segment,  WHAT KIND OF CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE ON YOUR HOMESCHOOL JOURNEY?