After breakfast, all the kids grab their shoes and coats for “Audrey’s walk”. She’s our littlest girl and we give her the first hour of the day. We make sure she gets fresh air, a little stretch-of-the-legs, a few nursery rhymes and a few songs about Jesus.


Each step with Audrey is a baby step. I walk slowly by her side, holding her hand, remembering that these little, slow steps are valuable because she is valuable. I love these morning strolls.

Sometimes, the older kids grab bikes and scooters. They zip down the sidewalk and return again. Sometimes, they fall off their bikes (one little boy, in particular) and wait until Audrey and I – step by step – catch up to them and get them back on their feet.


We pass by our neighbor’s prolific rose bush. Even in these late months, the roses continue to bloom and thrive. We stop and admire it every day.  I gather the children around and show them how the rose bush is different today: things have changed.

Look kids… today’s bloom was yesterday’s bud!


They ooh and aah.

We can see the dramatic change – the opening, the growing, the beauty – and they marvel with me. We’re happy for that little-bud-all-grown-up.


And look, kids… yesterday’s bloom has changed, too. It is shrinking, losing its vibrant color.

(“And yet,” my oldest daughter points out, “it is beautiful. And it still smells so good!”)


While I have their attention, I say, “People are like these blooms. We’re all at different stages in life. And we’re all changing from day to day.

Some of us are just starting out, just beginning.  

Some of us are in our prime, the most beautiful we will ever be.

And, some of us are coming to the end of our lives here on earth.

The most important thing to remember is that no one knows which one they are.

My dear little children, how then should we live?”

With great love for our Maker and for one another!

We should bloom and enjoy it!

We should glorify God in every season! With every minute He gives us!

We should take time with people whose steps are slow.

We should go slowly and see the world anew.


And, (as Audrey hitches a ride on Vivienne’s scooter), we should invite others to zip along with us, figuring out a way to help them feel the wind in their hair and the joy of the ride.


So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

– selections from Psalm 90

Posted in All Posts, Character Training, Early Elementary Education, Learning at Home, Motherhood, Physical Activity, Preschool, Things to Say | Comments Off on What I Teach My Children About Time

After much cavorting around the house, Rapunzel and Sir John (aka Flynn Rider) were finally wed in the living room on a wintery day in 2012. Perhaps you will be bored by my many photos, but I was so delighted by their union (and by the adorable wedding planners) that I just have to fill up my blog with snapshots today.

The Guests Take their Seats…

…and talk amongst themselves.

The Bride and her Attendants Prepare in the Dressing Quarters

(At first, Lia was withholding the bouquet. We asked why? She thought “the bride receives the bouquet after the wedding… if she does a good job.” Viv and I explained that, unlike a ballet performance, Rapunzel should carry the bouquet down the aisle with her. The flowers would simply be a beautiful adornment… not a reward, ahem. She was shocked by her misconception and quickly decided she’d rather “do it the way it’s usually done.” Rapunzel received her bouquet gratefully.)

Cue the wedding music!

(Selections from the Suzuki 4 Cassette Tape: some peppy, some slow.)

The wedding party enters.

Sir John (aka Flynn Rider) eagerly awaits his bride…

Everyone oos and ahs at the “Flower Girl Mouse”. And then…

Father Bunny gives away his daughter… his dear Rapunzel, who did not inherit his long ears or long feet, but did turn out with long hair. Sir John is delighted.

You may kiss the bride…

…and carry her down the aisle. (An unconventional pair!)

The bride and groom at the Reception.

Just Married!

Posted in Early Elementary Education, Homeschooling, Laugh About, Motherhood, Preschool | 9 Comments

The Sock Basket

One of the items on Lia’s shelf this week is a small basket of socks. We’ve used them to sort, pair, roll, and fold! She also likes to select a favorite pair to warm up her little toes…


Posted in Preschool | 2 Comments

Daily Counting Practice

Every week, I set out something different for Lia to count every day. I change the number every day. One week, she counted out little plastic fish into five labeled clear dishes. This week, she is counting out dog bones. (She loves these doggy bones and plunks them in the bowl with such nurturing passion… hoping, with each plunk, that she will one day be feeding a real dog.) I found the big, sturdy bones and the cute bowl at The Dollar General. I attached a velcro dot to the bowl so that I can change the number every day (I use the same set of velcro-dotted numbers every week.)



Posted in Early Elementary Education, Preschool | Comments Off on Daily Counting Practice

During the “school year”, we enjoy a Morning Circle Time at the breakfast table.

Typically, I read from a devotional book as the girls eat. Afterward, we find the date on the calendar, and do a couple of exercises that correspond with the girls’ readiness (i.e. we talk about the weather, make the date with coins, do some skip-counting together, etc.).

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how “identity determines biography“. Who we are – or, who we believe we are – informs our thoughts and behaviors. Thus, my passion to establish a firm foundation of biblical identity in our children.  I’ll be incorporating these couple of additions to our Morning Circle Time this year:

* Our Family Ways

We’ve loved learning the first 12 lessons in Clay Clarkson’s “Our 24 Family Ways“. We’ll save the second half of the curriculum for the Spring, but until then, we’ll review one of the 24 Family Ways every morning. I typed out each Family Way, wrote the corresponding memory verse on the backs, and laminated them. I’ll attach a velcro circle to each Way. Then, every morning, one of the girls will select an oval and attach it to our Circle Time bulletin board. We’ll look up the Scripture reference on the back, giving the girls an opportunity to navigate their way around the Bible. I’m looking forward to this regular review so that I can hide these virtues in my own heart.

* The Learning Parents’ Character Trait Cards

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to review The Learning Parent’s Character Concepts for Preschoolers this year. (I’ll keep ya posted about how it works for us!) But I’ll tell you this much, I’ve looked over the curriculum and can’t wait to get started. We’ll spend four weeks on each character trait, according to the lesson plans provided by TLP. I laminated the Character Trait cards and will attach velcro circles to these as well so that we can begin each day reviewing that month’s character quality. We’ll hang the month’s card next to a colorful piece of paper, where we’ll attach stickers whenever we share examples of ways in which we grew (or didn’t, but realize we should’ve) in that quality.

If I remember, I’ll post a photo of our bulletin board when I get it all ready for the end of August! In the meantime, though, I just wanted to get these ideas out to you in case you’d like to include them in your own home.

Posted in First Grade, Our 24 Family Ways, Preschool | 1 Comment

Summer Center: Bugs

I set up a little table in the dining room that would inspire the girls to read, write, draw, and create in a laid-back way. A few weeks ago, it was flower themed. I forgot to take pictures of it. But, you’ll get the idea from this week’s Bug Theme. It’s not scientific as much as it’s just fun. Of course, they’ve been spending the most time using the push-pins as “poison-extractors” for the squishy little bugs. Viv could play “bug dissection” all day long, but I finally heard Lia speak up for herself, “I don’t want to play bug-dissecting anymore!” (Oh, the things you never expect your children will have to say…)





Posted in Arts and Crafts, Kindergarten, Preschool, Summer Centers | 4 Comments

If you and your toddler are tiring of a constant struggle of the wills, remember the fantastic Montessori suggestion that, instead of telling a toddler to do something, give them two choices for accomplishing that task.

For example, instead of commanding, “Put your shoes on,” try, “Which one do you want to put on first: your left shoe or your right shoe?”

Or, instead of saying, “Get in the car; we have to go home now,” try, “Do you want to skip to the car or run?”

Posted in Motherhood, Preschool | 5 Comments

A reader asked what I intend to do with Lia, my three year old, which made me realize that I haven’t used blog space to rave about another favorite resource in a long, long time:

Ann Ward’s Learning at Home: A Christian Parent’s Guide with Day-by-Day Lesson Plans Using the Library as a Resource.

This is an old, out-of-print GEM that you can still purchase from private sellers through Amazon (Click on the link above to find $10+shipping options; otherwise, you might only find booksellers asking $60 or more.)

I began using Learning at Home when Viv was (gulp) two years old and worked through it in spurts for the next two years. I hope to use it for all of our children (though now I’ve gotten *more* of a grip and won’t begin until Lia is a ripe old 3 1/2 years old).

Why do I love it so?

* Because it covers all of the beautiful basics that I want my children to know and experience!

* Because it does not require that I purchase many (if any) other resources.

* Because each day’s work requires 45 minutes – 1 hour, which can be broken up by topic throughout the day. For example, we will cover the Bible lessons together during our breakfast devotions, enjoy the art and story time all together in the afternoons, and use the Physical Education suggestions during play time. Ward gives specific plans for each 5-day week in a typical school year, with the fifth day assuming a suggested field trip or project. It’s not a huge time commitment. (Some critics complain that Ward requires too much prep work, which I didn’t find to be the case if I just used my creativity. Way back in her day – 1995 – she chose to make all of her learning resources out of old magazines and construction paper. These days, we can print out similar exercises online, pull-together little toys, or select puzzles from our shelves that enforce the same skills. When worse comes to worst, though, Ward’s homemade ideas are simple enough to prepare while watching a movie or listening to an online sermon. Just think of the wealth you are preparing for your child! If you were sending your child to school, you better believe a young teacher would be up at night, cutting, pasting, printing, and organizing effective lessons for your little one. You can do it, too!)

* Because the content is such that Lia will gain immense riches from it, but it will also apply and enrich Vivienne at the same time. (Not to mention myself.)


During the week, we will enjoy the Bible lessons, which cover Bible stories as well as biblical truths like the roles of family members and noble character qualities. I plan on teaching the Bible lessons to both Vivienne and Lia since they are so enriching – exactly the good and true things that I want our daughters to know and believe. We’ll also memorize the suggested verses together. I will also overlap the Science topics (called “God’s World”), since Ward’s curriculum stays pretty basic (plants, the human body, animals, etc.) and Vivienne and I can expand these topics into units with experiments, lap-books, and supplementary reading. (The Well-Trained Mind suggests that first-graders study several units covering animals, the human body, and plant life. Perfect!)

The Reading lessons typically involve simple memorization work, poetry-reading, and step-by-step development in reading preparation (i.e. exercising left-to-right eye movement).

Art lessons are simply projects that correspond with holidays, seasons, and themes of study.

Arithmetic lessons are simply step-by-step developments in math-readiness (i.e. counting, making number books, spatial recognition, etc.)

Health and Manners lessons prepare the young student for chores, personal hygiene, and hospitality.

Physical Education lessons suggest basic developmental skills that I otherwise would forget to encourage in my children like jumping forward and backward over a line, running on tiptoes, skipping while music plays and stopping when the music stops, etc. Simple and fun ideas that most youngsters think is worth a million bucks.

Many of the Music suggestions and Story suggestions are dated (do you know the song “One More River?”, so I just google the week’s topic and steel great ideas from Jolanthe, Carisa, or Confessions of a Homeschooler. I also come up with my own snappy ideas now and then. (Wink.) The point is that we sing with and read to our eager little learners every week!

Keep in mind that many of Ward’s library book suggestions might not be available at your library. I had a hum-dinger of a time finding most of her suggested resources when I first started out, so I just developed our own book list, which is quite easy to do with today’s online library search options. Studying horses? Type in the general topic “horse”, specify “children’s books”, and gather a selection of fiction and non-fiction (the non-fiction books are usually organized by topic, so once I find one non-fiction juvenile book on horses, I’ve found the jack-pot. I keep a running list of “keepers” and look for them time and time again.)

I love this precious resource because it encourages me to intentionally build into my little ones day by day, preparing them for a lifetime of learning, praying, singing, and playing together.

Do you have a preschool resource that you love?


Posted in Book Reports, Early Elementary Education, Learning at Home, Preschool | Tagged | 2 Comments

Letter of the Week

At the turn of the year, I realized I had to rework my homeschooling plans for Lia.

The girl is a serious schoolgirl. She wanted more worksheets, please?? More puzzles? More painting? Please, please please??

At first, I pulled a variety of worksheets and activities from black-and-white workbooks, organizing them in folders. Then, I bipped around the online community and discovered sheer beauty: Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Letter of the Week curriculum.

This has been perfect for Lia. Every week, she focuses on one letter of the alphabet through all kinds of different activities: pushing pins into a bulletin board to outline the letter, pounding do-a-dots out in great, big capitol “E’s” and their baby “e’s”. She sequences elephants, apples, and inchworms from small to large, counts bears and stop-signs, makes patterns, decorates pictures with magnetic puff-balls, matches magnetic letters to real words, and laces around big, colorful pictures.

This $10 curriculum is packed with hands-on, developmentally challenging activities for preschoolers. I can’t say enough about it!

I laminate some of the activities, and insert others into plastic protectors.

Posted in Preschool | 2 Comments

Getting Outside: Jump Rope

With one jump rope, even the littlest ones have tons of fun on the tundra.

We played “horse”; Lia being a particularly diligent little horse, who even ate imaginary carrots.

Then, of course, Viv skipped to her only jump-rope rhyme: “Cinderella, dressed in yellow; went upstairs to kiss a fellow…” Yup. That’s the only jump-rope rhyme she knows. And I can’t rack my brain for any other rhymes besides “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear”. So, I pulled our “Anna Banana” book off the shelf in search of one or two redeeming rhymes we could use as we skip. As it turns out, it’s hard to find a jumping rhyme that doesn’t include kissing or violence (‘Remember “My ma and your ma hanging out the clothes? Yup, my ma gave your ma a punch in the nose!” This was a new one to me that gave me the shivers:  “Charlie Chaplin sat on a pin. How many inches did it go in? One, two, three, four…” Yikes!)

Here are some good ones we do like…

MY favorite: “Tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, peas. Mother said to eat lots of these. One, two, three, four…”

The GIRLS’ favorite: “Candy, candy in a dish! How many pieces do you wish? One, two, three, four…”

“I’m a little Dutch girl

Dressed in blue.

Here are the things I like to do:

Salute to the captain,

Bow to the queen,

Turn my back on the submarine.

I can do the tap dance,

I can do the split,

I can do the hokey pokey

Just like this.”

Tie one end of the jump rope to a post and squiggly the jump rope over the ground like a river: “All in together, girls. How do you like the weather, girls” January, February, March, April…” (The girls jump over the rope when you say the month they were born.)

Posted in Early Elementary Education, Healthy Living, Kindergarten, Preschool | 1 Comment