The crazy life of the ClarkClan. Living a life of grace through Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Latin Alive! Book 1

latin alive banner

Latin Alive! Book 1 Bundle

Authors:  Karen Moore and Gaylan DuBose

Publisher:  Classical Academic Press


Price:  $139.95 includes Teachers edition, student book, and DVD&CD set

Age Range:  Middle to High school students

About the Study

From the publisher:

Latin is an elegant and ancient language that has been studied for many generations. It is also quite alive in our culture, and in the languages we speak today. Latin Alive! is a series of Latin texts for junior high or high school Latin study. Written by experienced and enthusiastic Latin teachers, Latin Alive! is an excellent introduction to the classical language. With an emphasis on grammar and solid understanding of the language, it goes on to frame the study of Latin in Roman culture and mythology, and also to remind us of the many ways Latin is present in our culture today. Latin Alive will be a three year series.

Latin Alive book

  • Thirty six weekly chapters including twenty nine new content chapters and seven review, “reading” chapters.
  • Pronunciation Guides
  • Weekly introduction of vocabulary
  • Thorough grammar explanations including all five noun declensions and cases, all verb conjugations, irregular verbs, various pronouns, adjectives and adverbs
  • United States state seals and their Latin mottos
  • Extensive study of the Latin derivatives of English words
  • Substantial Latin readings and translation exercises
  • Lessons and stories of Roman culture, myths and history
  • Exercises and questions to prepare students for the National Latin Exam and the Advanced Placement Exam
  • Includes historical contributions from Christopher Schlect, historian and Academic Dean at New Saint Andrews College, Moscow, ID

    ClarkClan Viewpoint

    • User Friendly
    • Interesting, engaging instructor
    • Easy to use student book
    • Excellent teachers edition with extra interesting information to share with your student.
    • Fun extras on the Headventureland website.
    • Roman history and facts sprinkled throughout each lesson
    • Oral practice

         Sarah (13) is the student in our homeschool who has exclusively been using this product. Sarah has been wanting to learn Latin. She first mentioned it to me last fall. Then I found a paper on which she had written Latin words and their meanings that she had found in our church hymnal. After I found this I figured she was serious about wanting to learn Latin and started looking around for which program to use. She was ecstatic when she found out we were reviewing the Latin Alive! Book one bundle.

         The excitement has not dimmed even weeks after starting the program. She willingly picks up her Latin each day. We have decided to go through each chapter as slow or as fast as needed, not on any timetable.  This means that we usually finish a chapter in about a week, but on occasion it has taken a little bit longer. We watch the video together and stop it to do the exercises, then turn it back on. Each chapter is divided into sections. We do one or two sections a day. Each day that we start Latin we re-watch the previously watched parts of the chapter as a review.  

         One feature that Sarah and I find fascinating is the introduction to each chapter. Each chapter begins with one of the great seals of the United States and each individual state. The great seals display mottoes with images that go back to Greece and Rome. We would read the Latin quote and then its meaning and this would also be taught on the DVD lessons.

         I am often asked how I teach high school subjects that I do not know well myself. Latin Alive! is one example that I can use to show it can be done. While it includes a teacher edition, it also includes a DVD of each lesson being taught by a qualified, engaging instructor. I do not have to “teach” the lesson, only be there to help and mentor.  I enjoy sitting and watching the DVD presentations as much as Sarah does.

         This is a very thorough high school level program. The student is expected to work hard to learn the language. They are expected to: practice, practice, practice. Sentence translation exercises are given and the student is expected to analyze the grammatical structure of the sentence. By chapter four the student will have a Latin reading to analyze and  translate. Reading aides are given in order to assist these readings. Unit reviews help to build students reading skills, while also teaching a little history or culture of Rome. Assesments are also included in the teachers guide.

         Another help that Classical Academic Press provides is a website geared to their language books. Sarah enjoys going to the Headventureland website and practice what she is learning.  She enjoys playing the “Flash Dash” game to help with her vocabulary and watching some of the videos from the younger kids program as well.


        We would recommend the Latin Alive! program. Sarah has really enjoyed it. I like that it has caused her to think hard and work harder than she has to on other subjects. In my opinion this is not a subject that you can let your child do independently. I feel that the parent needs to stay involved and actively know what the student is learning. Listening and practicing with your child will help them tremendously, even if you do not speak the language yourself. It has been fun to try and figure out together how we would pronounce something, where to accent a word or where to divide a word into its syllables. This is a good program, but needs supervision to get the full benefit.

         Classical Academic Press products were reviewed by many TOS Crew members. Visit the Crew Blog and read what others are saying about Latin Alive! as well as younger level products.

    As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received the Latin Alive Bundle for free from Classical Academic Press, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Big IQ Kids

    BIg IQ Kids banner

         Do your kids need extra help in spelling? How about in drilling math facts? Well, maybe they need a little more help in vocabulary? Do they know where all the states are located, and a little information about each state? No, well Big IQ Kids may be for you.

         Big IQ Kids is an online program that focuses on four main subject areas: spelling, math, vocabulary and states practice.  This is a very full, many faceted online program. I will describe how we used it and what we thought, but I am sure I will miss some aspects of the program. Visit the website to learn even more than what I can describe.

    Big IQ log in page

         Big IQ Kids is both a free program and a premium (paid) program. Anyone can use the free aspects of the program. The premium program gives full access to every feature of the website. You can purchase all four subject areas for a fee of  $19.99 a month or $99 a year. You can also purchase a subject at a time. Visit the pricing page by clicking here to read all options and pricing levels. As an online program, you can subscribe to Big IQ Kids by visiting their website

    Note: This review will feature the aspects of the Premium program.

         Big IQ Kids tagline is “Helping kids become and stay A+ students”. Their interactive online system is extremely intuitive. Only when mastery of a subject is achieved will the student go to the next level. There are many different activities to help the student achieve the goal of mastering material. It is recommended that the student spend a little time each day using the program for maximum benefit.

         Rewards are a big part of Big IQ Kids. For every learning activity, the student  earns a game coin which can then be used on the game pages. There are three pages of games to choose from and each game costs between one to two coins.

         Two “helpers” Jake and Alexis appear on the screen to guide the student through each lesson. The voices are computer generated and occasionally pronounce things in a strange manner. Each child makes their own avatar that appears when they log on as well. 

         The program automatically e-mails the parent when each activity is finished. This lets the parent know quickly if their child is having any problems or when they have moved up a level. The parent can also access reports on their child’s progress using their child’s log-in.


    Big IQ kids spelling

         As the parent/teacher you have the option to use the spelling words the program has for that grade level or you may enter the spelling words of your choosing. The spelling program has five steps to complete each lesson. Step one is word introduction. Step two is a choice of two different activities for practice. Step three is another choice of two activities for more practice. Step four is a pop quiz and step five is the final test. At times during the practice steps the student is directed to get pencil and paper and write the words out. If a 100% is achieved on the test they become a member of the 100% club and a special game is offered.


    Big IQ Kids math

         In the math practice area the student clicks on a button to either start the lesson or they can print out the lesson to work on paper.  The interactive tools used are very easy to operate. You can perform all mathematical functions using the tools. You can carry or borrow when needed and it will show the work on the screen. A clock keeps running time of how long it takes to complete the page. If the time aspect bothers your child the clock can be taken off. As the parent/teacher you set the level that your child will start at and then the program takes over moving up levels as mastery is achieved. You can also change how many problems are done each day.

    States Practice

    Big IQ Kids states program

         The states program teaches the state capitals, locations, spellings, abbreviations, and common facts about each state. There are four steps and an introduction to each lesson. Students start with the intro, then move to step one: state location. Step two is state spelling. Step three is state capitals and step four is state abbreviations. There is also a state fun game that can be played.


    Big IQ Kids Vocabulary program

         The vocabulary program includes five steps to each lesson. As with the spelling program the parent/teacher can either choose to use the words the program picks or enter their own vocabulary words. Step one introduces the vocabulary, then steps two through four practice with the words and step five is a test.

    What the ClarkClan thought

         We used this program with Ben (9) and Rebekah (7). Both of them absolutely loved the program. Having an older brother and sister who do classes online, they were excited to be able to do some online work as well.  The program recommends that it be used a little each day and we followed this recommendation.  Every afternoon they would each  log in and work for 30-40 minutes.  Their different personalities really showed up in how they used the program. With each lesson done, a game coin is earned. Ben liked to do all the lessons for the day and save his game coins to play at the end of his session. Rebekah preferred to play a game after each lesson. I liked that they had these options.  On one spelling lesson, the helper, Jake, said he could not help Ben with the lesson. Then the picture of Jake showed the back of his head. Ben giggled and giggled about this. So the lessons were not just work, they were made to be fun as well.

         When we first started using the program, I was a little annoyed at the multiple e-mails I received from Big IQ Kids. But, when I realized they were just letting me know how my child was doing on each subject, I quit being upset. It was nice to see at a glance how they did, and then delete the e-mails. Then when I had time I could log-on once a week and check the reports, already having a good idea of how they were doing. 

         We also had an opportunity to use the customer support from Big IQ Kids. Ben had received a 100% on his spelling test and was told he was in the 100% club and had received a special game. Well, Ben went straight to the game page and couldn’t find anything different or special. This happened about 3 times and then I sat down and went over what he was doing and was confused as well. We e-mailed customer support and received an e-mail back the next morning with a nice note and screen shots of exactly where to look. Sure enough, we had just missed it. I was very happy with the response time and concern shown that we be happy with the program.

         I would recommend this program. We used it not as stand-alone curriculum, but as a supplement to what they were already doing. Because of the game reward factor, both kids eagerly looked forward to the work. I knew we had hit a winner when they would ask to play Big IQ Kids on Saturdays and Sundays as well as school days.

         I am not the only one who reviewed this online program. Visit the Crew Blog to read what my crew mates have to say about the program.

    As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received the two online premium memberships for free from Big IQ Kids, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    ARTistic Pursuits



    ARTistic pursuits coverSenior High Book One

    The Elements of Art and Composition

    Author:   Brenda Elllis

    Published by: Artistic Pursuits Inc.

    Available from: ARTistic Pursuits

    Price: $42.95


    About the Book

         ARTistic Pursuits describes itself as “A comprehensive art program designed to involve the student in the creative process while developing observational skills”.  It is a very complete, very thorough art program. The Senior High Book One covers a year’s worth of art instruction and art appreciation.  This book has 16 Units with each Unit consisting of 4 lessons.The lessons are written to the student, so students can work independently.

          Lesson one introduces the focus of that unit. The term is well-defined with excellent examples. A “Challenge Your Vision Section” is included in lesson one which gets  kids thinking in a different way about the topic. A “Try This” is included to get started working artistically with the topic.




    Sample of Unit 3 Lesson One


    by Sarah




      Lesson two features a famous European Art piece with a brief history on the artist. The student will look at the full-color reproduction of a famous European art piece. Then the text “pulls” the art piece apart to look specifically at the artistic element for that unit represented in that piece.  Lesson two also has an art assignment for practicing the topic.



    Sample of Unit 2 Lesson Two

    Filling the Space of a Page

    by Sarah


         Lesson three focuses on Techniques. This page features the actual “art instruction” . For example in Unit two the topic is “texture”. Lesson three shows different effects, such as blend, line, irregular line, and cross hatch. The student is encouraged to experiment with the technique shown. A “To Do” is also given to continue learning the technique being studied.

    Lesson four is the Application lesson. A specific assignment and which material to be used is given. A “Look Back’” section asks the student to critique his or her own work according to the topic of the lesson.

    What the ClarkClan thought:


         We were very impressed with ARTistic Pursuits. Sarah (13) was the one in our family who used this book. A little background on Sarah is that she loves art. Before we moved, she took private art lessons which she absolutely loved. We do not have art lesson options here and she has missed them dreadfully. This book ARTistic Pursuits has fulfilled her longing for more art instruction.

         As evidenced by the pictures above, Sarah eagerly devoured this art book. Wednesdays and Fridays were the two days of the week that Sarah worked through the book. She would take about an hour at a time and read through the book and work on the assignments. It truly is written specifically to the student, she needed no extra help.  She was so inspired by the techniques she was learning that she continued to sketch and work with them after school and in the evenings.

         This book requires the use of certain art supplies. Specifically drawing supplies. These I obtained easily and relatively inexpensively. We live in a very small town and I was able to order the pencils and erasers online and the paper we found in town.

         As this is a high school course, I appreciated the fact that how to evaluate each project and assign an number and letter grade was included. Art is very subjective and this Evaluation sheet was easy to use and I could objectively  evaluate the pieces to see if she completed each assignment. The sheet tells you that if a student enjoys art, they will most likely make A’s and I found this to be true. I also liked the fact that this course is rigorous enough to count for a year of art instruction, or one credit on a transcript. 


    Airplane Sketch

    Using a variety of techniques learned

    by Sarah




         As could be surmised, we highly recommend this book. Sarah found the instructions to be clear and well written. She enjoyed the assignments given to her. I liked that the book was written to Sarah. I did not have to explain something I did not quite understand how to do myself. We will definitely be continuing with this curriculum. I am also seriously considering buying one of the elementary books available for two of my other children who are in 3rd and 4th grade.

         The only thing that some families may feel is a drawback could be the art instruction. This is not a book that tells you draw this line first, then add this line and so on to complete a picture. It lets the student decide what they would like to draw and then instructs them in how to achieve the technique. In other words, it teaches “how to think like an artist”.

    How to Buy:

         ARTistic Pursuits is available online.Visit their website, Artistic Pursuits, to read more information and how to purchase.  The ARTistic Pursuits curriculum is not only for high school. They have a whole range of art instruction books for every age range from pre-school through high school.

    Many other of my crew mates reviewed a wide range of the Artistic Pursuits books. Go to the Crew Blog and read what all the others thought about this art curriculum.

    As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received the ARTistic Pursuits Senior High Book One for free from Artistic Pursuits, Inc. in exchange for my honest review of their product.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Lent Journey 3/16


    As you walk into our church narthex, this cross is prominently displayed . The cross is draped in purple for Lent. Then when you walk into the Sanctuary, front and center, above the altar is another cross, draped in purple. These are reminders that we are in the season of Lent.

    When we lived in New Mexico, a cross such as the one seen in the narthex always appeared during Lent. This cross was made from  Christmas trees, that had been saved and stripped of their branches and nailed together. This is done as a reminder that Christmas and Easter are connected. Jesus came to earth on Christmas for the sole purpose of dying on Good Friday and redeeming me (and you), a lost and condemned person.


    This week I would like to share a hymn that I think of when I see the cross.

    In The Cross of Christ I Glory

    In the cross of Christ I glory, Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time. All the light of sacred story  Gathers round its head sublime.

    When the woes of life o’ertake me,  Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,  Never shall the cross forsake me; Lo, it glows with peace and joy.

    When the sun of bliss is beaming  Light and love upon my way,  From the cross the radiance streaming  Adds more luster to the day.

    Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure  By the cross are sanctified;  Peace is there that knows no measure, Joys that through all time abide.

    (public domain)

    Visit A House Upon the Rock and Trish to read what others are thinking during the Lenten Season.


    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him


    Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him

    Written byJohn Hay and David Webb

    Published by:   ApologiaPress

    Age Range: 6-14

    Price: $39.00

    About the Book,taken from the Apologia Website:

    Our children are bombarded on a daily basis with competing messages. Every song, movie, book, TV show, blog, and game is full of ideas—ideas about truth, morality, beauty, identity, faith, and more. Not all of these ideas are true. Some are wrong, some are deceptive, and some are outright destructive. It is more important than ever that young children be equipped to discern among competing ideas and stand in the truth. This is why Apologia has teamed with Summit Ministries to bring you the "What We Believe" Series. The "What We Believe" Series is an outstanding way to teach your child the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, but it’s so much more! With this student-directed, Bible-based curriculum, your children will learn how to use Scripture as a lens through which to view the world around them—to see everything the way God sees it—and know the truth.

           This book contains 10 Lessons. Each lesson is follows a similar structure. It is suggested that each lesson take approximately two weeks to complete. The text is written directly to the student. Notebooking is incorporated within each lesson. There are notebooking assignments given and you may go to the Apologia Website and find already formatted notebooking pages to print off. On the website as well, are numerous teacher helps that can be downloaded

       There are approximately 10-11 sections within each chapter. Each lesson opens with The Big Idea. This gives an introduction as to the topic of that lesson. Short stories feature characters that are struggling and learning about the topic presented. Vocabulary words are defined so that their use throughout the lesson will be understood. Bible verses are quoted extensively, as well as a few key verses that are given for memorization.  Interesting articles that relate to the topic are included in each chapter. A section on What Should I Do?  is designed to help apply the lesson to real life. Worldview study is the final portion of the lesson and introduces the concept of how people perceive the world around them. The idea is that as our children recognize their own Christian worldview, they will then begin to understand why people believe differently from they do and what shapes those beliefs. To help children remember what they have learned, every few lessons conclude with a picture of a “House of Truth” being built. This gives kids a concrete way to think about who they are in God’s kingdom.

    Take a look inside the first chapter of Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him  by clicking here.

    What the ClarkClan thought?

    • Interesting story lines.
    • Fun hands on activities
    • Beautiful pictures throughout, good combination of real-life photographs and reproductions of famous art pieces.
    • Well-Defined vocabulary words
    • Easy to use. Can use the schedule provided or easily make up your own.

         We worked through the first five chapters of the book. The books starts with a lesson on “Where Am I Building My Life?” This lesson gives the foundation for teaching kids a biblical worldview. It focuses on building your life on the Lord, Jesus Christ. All of us enjoyed the optical illusions section at the end of the chapter. Because all four of my kids were doing this book together, looking at the optical illusions truly highlighted that everybody sees the world in a slightly different way. 

         Ben (9) and Rebekah (7) looked forward to reading the continuing story of Jeremy and Ben located in each chapter. Lesson Four contains an activity to make a ”Mobius Strip”. Just like this strip has only one side, so God has only one side, always good, always holy. My kids were amazed at the strips and liked the analogy that went along with it. 

         The book made excellent use of real life topics and culture to explain different points. One lesson sidebar talked about allegory and used the Chronicles of Narnia book series to illustrate the point. Another lesson uses examples from Sherlock Holmes and another from Star Wars.

         Located on the Apologia website are downloadable notebooking pages and teachers notes. I used the teachers notes and some of the notebooking pages. Because we used this book at the end of our daily worship time, as a family, everybody would answer the questions on the pages together. There is a “Make a Note of It” box during the chapter, and I would have Ben and Rebekah complete these activities in their journals after our worship time was over.

    Mom’s Note

         I was excited to be able to review this book from Apologia. Trying to see the world through a Biblical standpoint and teaching that to my children is important to me. As stated above, there were many things we liked about the book. As much as I wanted to love the entire book, there were times that it presented me with a few ideas different than what my Lutheran faith teaches.  Law and Gospel is a central teaching in our church, The Law shows us our sin and our need for a Savior and the Gospel shows us our Savior, Jesus Christ. Within the lessons,usually under the “What Should I Do” section, I encountered the Law, things we must do to please God, but not the Gospel for when we fail to measure up to these standards.  There were also a few statements that were jarring to me as I read them. I feel that statements such as " we should always want to do what is good to show God how much we love Him" are misleading. While I agree doing good is a natural result of faith, I know that I cannot by my own power do any good to please God. It is only because of Jesus Christ, that God will see any good in me.


         Will I order the next book in this series? I am not sure. I found many things that I agreed with and I liked having a format to teach my kids the foundations of a Biblical Worldview. That being said, I also felt that I could not let my children read the book on their own because of a few misleading statements.

         I also realize that not all churches have the same doctrines and teaching. This book may be a good fit for your family, especially if you have never discussed a Biblical Worldview before. It gives you a good “jumping off” place to start.


          You can find the Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him? book along with the entire “What We Believe” series on the Apologia website.    New products are coming out this spring that coincide with this series, such as a coloring book. Apologia offers many different homeschooling products. From science curriculums, to online Academies, to Worldview studies,to conferences  Apologia Educational Ministries is a good resource for the homeschooling families.

         I was only one of many that reviewed Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him?  Visit the TOS Crew blog and read my Crew mates reviews for a balanced picture.

    As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received the book Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him for free from Apologia Educational Ministries in exchange for my honest review of their product.

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Lent Journey 3/12


    The color purple is seen often during Lent.  When we go into church tomorrow we will see a purple cloth covering the altar


    Purple is associated with royalty. In Biblical times it was a very expensive color to make therefore, purple was only attainable for royalty or wealthy people.  1 Peter 2:9,  says this about God’s people; “9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,  a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  The color purple is very fitting for use in the church.  We use it during times of repentance, such as the season of Lent. 

    Visit Trish at A House Upon the Rock to read more about the journey’s through Lent that other’s are taking.

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Lent Journey 3/11


         Today the news was full of reports of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Then reports of tsunami warnings for Guam, Hawaii, the West Coast. Looking at the pictures and seeing the maps of the waves and times they were predicted to hit were scary for me. Scary since my sister and her family live on Guam, and my brother and his wife live on the coast of Washington. I knowing that both their houses are located on a high point, but I still wonder about their safety. As I was on the internet, reading the reports from MSN and watching videos of the destruction a few thoughts about the season of Lent came to mind.

             “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” This quote is from Matthew 3:2 and is John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea. Generally this reading occurs during the Time of Christmas on the Sunday that we celebrate the baptism of Jesus.We are told by John to repent, then during Lent we ponder on what that means.

         Repentance, a word used often during Lent. Repentance is a turning away from sin toward faith in Christ and His Sacrifice for us. Devastating earthquakes and tsunami’s and all other disasters remind us of the frailty of life. Matthew 25:13 says “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

         For me, Lent is a time to reflect not only on my sinfulness, but also on my Savior.  Jesus came to earth for one reason, to die and rise again, conquering death once and for all. What does this mean for me? I need to be ready, in season and out of season, to meet Jesus. I need to share this faith with my children, show them from the scriptures their sinfulness and their need for a Savior. Remind them that they are baptized children of God, forgiven and set free from sin. I need to live each day as if Christ were coming  tomorrow.

         This post is linked up with Trish over at A House Upon the Rock. Visit her blog and read the Lenten journeys of others.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Lent Journey

         As I mentioned yesterday, we sing a hymn during our worship time everyday. We then go over vocabulary that may not be familiar, especially to the younger kids. For today’s Lenten Journey I thought I would define some of the more “theological” terms and phrases from the hymn Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain that other’s may not be familiar with.

    • contrition – sincere repentance or remorse
    • remission pardon; forgiveness, as of sins or offenses.
    • “defiled without, within” dirty or unclean in every part
    •  “live forever” – Eternal life in Heaven

         Visit Trish at A House Upon the Rock to read what other bloggers are pondering on during this Lenten Season.

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Ash Wednesday

         I have two children that are fascinated by calendars and clocks.  They know the months of the year, how many days in each month, what day it is today, how many days until the next birthday or holiday. They just seem to like order to their days.  The church has order to its days as well. We call it the Christian Church Year.

         Now the Church Year actually starts way back at the end of November with Advent. The word “Advent” is from Latin, meaning, “coming into”. Advent prepares us for Jesus coming into the world as a little baby. In the Church year, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and the time before Ash Wednesday is called “The Time of Christmas”.

         We are way after Christmas now, and with today, Ash Wednesday, we begin a new time in the Church year called, “The Time of Easter”.  The 40 days (not counting Sundays) before the celebration of Easter are called Lent. 40 is a number that  shows up frequently in the Bible. The people of Israel wander in the desert for 40 years. It rained 40 days and 40 nights during Noah’s flood. Jesus was in the desert being tempted by the devil for 40 day.

         What is Lent? To our family as Lutherans, Lent is a time of repentance and preparation. It is a time to focus on the reason Jesus came to earth at Christmas. He came to suffer and die for our sins. This is what we focus on, our need for a Savior. Lent is a more somber time in our church. They hymns tend to reflect our need for a Savior. Certain parts of the Lutheran service will not be sung during Lent, specifically the Alleluia and the Gloria in Excelsis. We do this so our worship reflects the penitential attitude of the season.

         In our family, we begin every morning with a short Worship service. This includes, Bible readings, devotions, hymns and prayers.  I love hymns. Wonderful aspects of faith are portrayed beautifully in the words of hymns. I teach a hymn to my children each week.  We sing the hymn, and every day go over one of the verses. I do this to make sure that my children understand the concepts contained in the words and to explain vocabulary with which they are not familiar.

         To close, I am going to share the words to the hymn that we are learning this week. I chose this one to begin our season of Lent, as it really points out our sin and most important of all, our Savior.


    Come to Calv’ry’s holy mountain, Sinners ruined by the fall;    Here a pure and healing fountain Flows for you, for me, for all,  In a full, perpetual tide, Opened when our Savior died.


    Come in poverty and meanness, Come defiled with-out, with-in; From infection and uncleanness, From the leprosy of sin,      Wash your robes and make them white, Ye shall walk with God in light.


    Come in sorrow and contrition, Wounded, impotent, and blind; Here the guilty, free remission, Here the troubled, peace may find.   Health this fountain will restore; They that drink shall thirst no more.


    They that drink shall live forever, ‘Tis a soul renewing flood,  God is faithful; God will never  Break His covenant of blood, Signed when our Redeemer died, Sealed when He was glorified.

    .Text: Public Domain

    I have decided to link this post up with Trish at A House Upon the Rock. She is hosting a meme called 40 Days of Seeking Him, Lent Season 2011. Click on her blog name to go to her site and read what other bloggers are doing for Lent.

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Terrific and Trying–All at the same Time

    This week the TOS Blog Cruise topic is “How to Homeschool the Hyper/Distractible Child”.  I thought I would chime in on this topic as we deal with this in our household and have a few ideas that have helped us. For even more ideas, visit the TOS Blog Cruise page.

    “Rebekah, please sit down to do your handwriting.” “Rebekah, quit rolling on the floor and do your math.” “Rebekah, please stop whistling, PLEASE for everyone’s sanity.”

         Far to often these are quotes that come out of my mouth frequently during our school day. You may have noticed all of them began with the name Rebekah.  Out of my four children, Rebekah is the only one that is distractible, very distractible.  Matthew  dubbed her as having “squirrel” syndrome, after the movie UP came out. Rebekah is 7 and has been a handful from about the day she was born.  I would like to share a few of the strategies that have helped our family deal with some of the peculiarities of having a child who can literally “bounce off the walls”.

         To say dealing with a hyper/distractible child is tough is an understatement. Your perfectly planned day can quickly erode and mom can be a blubbering mess within an hour. A child who “bounces off the walls” not only interrupts their own school work, but the rest of the family as well. In our situation with Rebekah, she is our “class clown”. She will do anything for a laugh. Laughter is like sugar for Rebekah, once she gets a taste of it, she craves more and more.  Trying to “discipline” this need for attention tends to only produce fits. Rebekah, does not have much of a middle ground. She is either laughing and joking, or she is mad and angry. When she was younger, her fits were legendary. Ever have a 2 year old throw her crib mattress across the room? How about a 3 year old screaming “somebody save me” as she is carried across the parking lot after being taken out of a store for not behaving? The following ideas are what I have used to help us. And praise be to God, we have not had a major meltdown in about a year.

    1.   Food – I used to try to keep a journal of when Rebekah’s fits occurred and what surrounded them. I quickly noticed that we were almost guaranteed a fit if she only ate cold cereal for breakfast. Pancakes and syrup would produce the same result. It seems that Rebekah has a bit of hypoglycemia. My sister and I have this problem as well. Once I started making sure that Rebekah ate some form of protein it seemed to  help her handle problems better. Snacks became very important as well. String cheese, yogurt, apples with peanut butter are great snacks that she enjoys.

    2.  Sleep – Rebekah has always had trouble falling asleep. Being the fourth child, I tried everything I could think of to get her to fall asleep at night. We took warm baths, had chamomile tea, read books, said prayers and put her to bed. And just like a little cork, POP, Rebekah would be out of bed  as much as 24 times (yes 24, I kept a running tally one night) before she fell asleep. I never let her stay up, usually did not even talk to her, just put her back in bed.Once she would fall asleep she would sleep until morning, but  she did not usually go to sleep until between 11 pm and midnight.  I finally took her to the Dr. and asked what to do. I was told to give her a melatonin pill at night.  The first night she took one, she was asleep within 30 minutes and slept all night. After about 6 months her sleep was regulated and we only have to give her the melatonin during the summer months when it is light here in the North until 10 pm or if she is excited.

    3.  Schedule – I have blogged about this before, but having a schedule for Rebekah is wonderful. When she knows what to expect and when to expect it, she can deal with life.  I post the schedule on the refrigerator and we try not to deviate from it on normal days. There are days that are slightly different. If I know that something will be different on a certain day, I usually go over what is going to happen. I will say something like “I know that we usually do math after worship, but today because I have a meeting in the afternoon, we are going to switch and  do history first and your math later.” Giving her a heads up and time to process helps tremendously.

    4.  Timer—This goes hand in hand with the schedule. The timer is a great blessing.  When we first started using a set schedule I would set the timer and when it rang we moved on to the next activity. If Rebekah was not finished with math or handwriting I would simply stop and we would pick up from that point the next day. I think this helped so Rebekah knew that things would end. Looking at a math page and being told to finish it would seem endless to her. Once she knew there was a stopping point, she could be free to work.  Now she usually finishes her work in the allotted time. I use the timer for making sure chores get done in a timely manner, for monitoring computer time, for her silent reading time.  I cannot emphasize enough how much the use of a timer has helped.

    5.  Movement – Rebekah likes to move. So as much as possible I try to let her. This may mean she stands at the table instead of sits. I have a large exercise ball and Rebekah will sit on it instead of a chair. This gives her the ability to bounce, while she is writing. One caution, we did have to come up with rules for the ball and its use, so it did not become a thing in which to distract everyone else. Chewing gum seems to help on some days, especially with the constant chatter. Rebekah will chatter and chatter, to me, to her siblings, to her stuffed animals, to herself.If she is not chattering, she is whistling. (She can whistle the National Anthem pretty well) I haven’t come up with anything that really stops the constant flow of talk or whislting, but gum does help.

    6. Outside – I have found that if we can do schoolwork outside, Rebekah can concentrate better. To me, it seems odd, I think there are way more distractions outside. But, for Rebekah, going outside in the fresh air somehow helps her to concentrate. She becomes quiet and does her work, without the need for all the movement of inside.  Unfortunately outside school work can only happen in the Fall and Spring here in Idaho. Winter is generally too cold, windy, snowy, rainy.

    7. Games – We are a family that loves to play games.  I have found this to be a great way to help Rebekah learn impulse control. Taking turns is hard for a hyper child, but great practice. A game such as Sorry, or card games like UNO or Skip-Bo helps with teaching her to focus on the task at hand. Mille-Bornes (that crazy French Auto Race card game) has been a favorite recently. Apples to Apples is a hilarious game that highlights Rebekah’s quirky personality. She is a wild card in that game because nobody can guess what she is going to pick. Apples to Apples also gives her great reading practice in a fun setting.

    7. Consistency – Being consistent in discipline is very important.  I try to use natural and logical consequences. For example, if Rebekah does not empty the dishwasher in a timely manner, she has to do the morning dishes as well. I explain to her that because she did not get her job done, her brother could not do his job, the dishes. If a job is not done correctly, I have her re-do it. Crying is not allowed because you do not want to do a job.  For every ten or 20 seconds of crying, I say “that is one day, that is two days”. Then that chore will have to be done that many days in a row. This is not a technique I just use with Rebekah, all the kids benefit. It really galls the kids that they have to do dishes every night for a week, and their siblings do nothing, all because of crying. With the other three of my kids, this technique has only been needed once, except for Rebekah, she has tried crying twice. Now if she looks like crying I grab a pen and she straightens up, puts a smile on her face and gets the job done. I try to use humor as well. Rolling of the eyes gets me to say “Oh, that was a pathetic attempt at an eye roll. Here let me show you how to do it. I am the queen of eye rolling you know.”  Nobody rolls their eyes at me now, except in play.

         There are my tips for homeschooling the distractible/hyper child. It can be trying and fatiguing. But, it can also be lots of fun and very rewarding.  Reading back over what I wrote, I feel like I should tell you a little more about who  Rebekah is.  I don’t want anyone to get the idea that she is unmanageable and unfriendly.


         I would like to introduce you to Rebekah.  While she has been a handful she is also a lot of fun. Rebekah is one of the most funny, sensitive, caring children I know.  She can walk into a room and have everyone laughing in a matter of minutes. If someone is hurt, Rebekah is the first one to rush over and try to take care of the situation. Band-aids are a favorite of hers and she will run up and bring her “special” band-aids down if you are bleeding. Rebekah tries to take care of anyone younger than she is. She has always been large for her age, and she thinks anyone smaller than her is younger. Her first year playing soccer, she had a hard time because everybody was smaller than she was and she didn’t want to hurt anyone or take the ball away.  Rebekah loves baby dolls and will have a stroller filled with them. Then she will tell you every baby’s name, age and what special characteristics they have. She is a great actress. Sarah and Ben will produce shows and Rebekah is the actress. She is quite the ham. She loves to give hugs and kisses, but hates, let me repeat, hates for anyone to give her a kiss. (What I find strange is she has been that way since before she could talk.)

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Happy Birthday Matthew!

    Today is my 1st son Matthew’s 18th Birthday. Time sure does fly.

    Matthew Jr. at birth  March 5, 1993, 7lbs 7 oz. 7:44pm


    Matthew Jr. at 18 years old


    May God continue to bless and keep you!

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Sentimental Thoughts

         Tomorrow is my son’s 18th birthday. The closer it gets the more sentimental I become. As we finished up dinner the other night, I jumped up and took a picture. I realized that this scene would not stay the same.

    2011-03-02 19.47.45

         Family dinners have always been a priority. To the best of our ability, we try to eat together as a family at least once a day. As the kids have grown older, this can become a challenge due to sports, or jobs. It also becomes a challenge with my husbands job. He sometimes works a weird schedule or is gone TDY. When he was working swing shift, 3pm-11pm, I would make “dinner” for lunch.  I get this priority for eating as a family from my mother. She always made sure we ate together. One year when I was in high school she even got everyone up early so that we could eat breakfast together since evenings were so hectic.

       I love this picture. It shows everyone smiling and happy. Most nights this is just how dinner looks. You would think that after being together all day, we would run out of things to talk about. But the kids love to tell dad what happened, what they have learned and sometimes just tell jokes.

         So now my kids are getting older. They will eventually leave home and one by one our dinner table will get smaller, lesser amounts of food will need to be prepared. One day it will be just my husband and I together at the table, talking about our day and sharing dinner and a glass of wine. And then will come the excitement of family coming to visit and bringing  new additions through spouses and grandchildren.

         See I am very sentimental, but excited to see what season in my life will be next.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    When Schedules Go Haywire

         Have you ever “shot your self in the foot” when it comes to starting your school day? This happened to me this morning.

         Yesterday we borrowed a carpet cleaning machine from a friend. I intended to clean the den, dining room and living room carpets before starting school. I gave myself an hour and a half to get this done. Now, I had planned to only move the dining room table and chairs and just clean around the other furniture. I started off with no problems, I finished the den, which is not too large and has no furniture, just a school table. I dragged the machine to the dining room. We moved  the table and I began to get to work. About half way through, I needed to change the water again and as I was putting the water back on, I noticed the little dial. The dial that said: Heavy traffic, normal clean, light clean, and water rinse. Can you guess what the dial was set on? Of course, water rinse. I had not been cleaning the carpets at all, I had only been rinsing them with water. I had been impressed at how long the shampoo had lasted, only to find out I had not been using any. So back to work, re-cleaning the carpets that I had already cleaned, this time using the carpet shampoo. It was amazing how many more stains came up with shampoo than without.

         Well, needless to say we did not start school on time. But we have rallied. Not following our schedule is hardest on Rebekah and on me. Ben and Sarah are “go with the flow” kids, but Rebekah loves her schedule. I just look at a day like today and tell Rebekah this is good practice for life. In life, there are times you just have to learn to adapt and do things in a little different way without falling.apart. So today was our, teach Rebekah how to adapt day. She did okay, but Sarah and I still had to prod and guide her every step of the way. Ending with a science video, which is very out of the ordinary for us, was a good way to end the strange, no schedule school day.