Friday, December 28, 2012

I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist

Hello again,

It's been too long since I've posted and I've missed you!  I hope you had a Merry Christmas.  Below is a copy of an email note (with some minor editing) that I sent to the pastors at my church asking them to host Frank Turek from at our church.

I've been using his I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist curriculum in my high school homeschool this year and I am so excited about it that I want to share it with you.  I thought that an easy way to share it with you is to share the note I sent to my pastors.  Feel free to forward my note to your pastor(s) too!

Hello Gentlemen,

Would you consider inviting Frank Turek, from, to come to our church (*)? Frank is a former Naval aviator, with a PHD in apologetics, who conducts seminars on college campuses, churches, and high schools to help young people understand why the Christian faith is true and reasonable and train them to defend that view.

I am using his curriculum, I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, in my homeschool with my high school boys this year and we are enamored with it. One day I said to my boys, "I can't believe I've never heard this before even though I've been a Christian since I was a child!"

We recently completed the first 6 of 12 chapters in the book, I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Those chapters use science, logic and philosophy, not the Bible, to help people see that it only makes sense that there is a Creator. It's fascinating. My boys, who are generally not jumping up and down with enthusiasm to do their school work, actually like this class and are learning from it....which, I think, is the equivalent of them jumping up and down with joy!

"Christian young people are leaving the church at an alarming rate, mainly because they are not equipped to examine the skepticism and atheism they encounter after leaving home, often coming from their college professors." ( I believe that having Frank speak to our church would greatly benefit the Kingdom.

" is a non-profit ministry started in 2006 that conducts dynamic I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist seminars on college campuses, churches, and high schools. Led by Frank Turek and other Christian apologists, exists to address the problem that 3-out-of-4 Christian youth leave the church while in college, many because they are intellectually skeptical." (

When I asked Frank about coming to our church, he requested that a church pastor contact him to make arrangements. Here is the email address where you can contact him:

Below is a link with more information:

If you would like to take a look at the curriculum, let me know and I would be glad to show you what I have which includes a DVD with 12 recorded sessions of Frank giving his seminar.
Thank you for all you do for our community.

Sue S

* The original note had the name of our church.

Click here for

What do you think about what Frank says in the clip?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Recipes for my Kids!

This post is for my kids.  

I want to make sure you have the recipes that I use each year to make our Thanksgiving dinner in case you want to make them in the future.  

I like to set the table the night before so everyone comes downstairs to a pretty surprise!


The first year I tried to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving, the bird never cooked.
  (I was in my young thirties.)  The most likely reason is because I used a pottery piece to cook it in instead of a roasting pan.  
This roasting pan, on the right, works well.  A metal 9x13 pan works too if you use a bag.

Hopefully I'll teach each of you how to cook a turkey so that doesn't happen to you!  It's really pretty easy to cook a turkey, but I think it helps if you do it with someone else a time or two before doing it on your own.

Luke helped prepare the stuffing and stuffed, cooked and carved the turkey.

Here is our menu for this year:

  1. Turkey(Recipe follows.) I've been using a 12-13 pound turkey to feed 8 and have leftovers.  Make sure you thaw it if it's frozen.  About three days in the fridge.
  2. Stuffing(Recipe follows.)
  3. Rolls.  Store bought.  Frozen.
  4. Mashed potatoes.  Cook them.  Peel them.  Mash them.  Add salt, mild butter and if necessary, mix with beaters.
  5. Sweet potatoes.  Baked, peeled and mashed.  Put in casserole and cover with marshmallows.  Bake for just a few minutes to soften and brown the marshmallows.
  6. Green bean casseroleRecipe on French's French Fried Onions.
  7. Carrot souffle(Recipe follows.)
  8. Cranberries.  One can jellied and one can of whole cranberries.
  9. Butter.
  10. Gravy. (Recipe follows.)
  11.  Dessert:  Pie. Cake. Toffee. Whipped Cream.  Ice Cream.  Um...I ahem...shhh...bought. the. pie. this. year. (Recipes follow for Dump Cake and Toffee.)
Rinse turkey inside and out. 
Salt and pepper the inside cavities.
Put foil into cavities to make it easier to pull out stuffing.
Gently put stuffing into cavities- don't press too hard.  Use skewers to keep the skin closed around the stuffing.
Put turkey into pan breast side down.  
Brown turkey for 30-45 minutes at 325 with lid off.
Spread butter on outside of turkey or pour melted butter over turkey.
Put quartered onions in bottom of pan.
Add some water to cover bottom of roasting pan or 9x13 metal pan.
Check to make sure there is still water in pan every hour and baste the turkey.  Cover and cook until temperature is 180 degrees in the thigh.  (*Make sure you have a meat thermometer.)Or...Use a cooking bag and follow directions- that's what we're doing this year.
Take some of the juice from the turkey and put it in a pot on the stove. Mix some water and corn starch in a bowl.  It will be white colored and watery. The thicker it is, the thicker the gravy will be.  Heat until it boils then gradually add the water/cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened.  Add more cornstarch and water to thicken, or more juice to make it thinner.
Bread, broken into small pieces. 
Bread crumbs.  I use about half a bag of "Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing".
Pour water and melted butter over bread to moisten.   I use about a cup of butter!
Chopped celery
Mix together in a bowl to taste.
 To make stuffing without turkey, bake at 275-300 degrees covered for about 2 hours.

Carrot Souffle
16 oz fresh carrots, boil till soft, drain, run through food processor
½ c. melted butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 c. sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs

Puree all.  Pour into greased soufflĂ© dish.
Bake 350 degrees 45 Min.
Dump Cake
Spray 9x13 with Pam.
Layer ingredients in a pan in this order:
- 1 can of pie filling, any flavor (I used cherry)
-1  can of crushed pineapple with juice (I omitted this at Luke's request)
-1 yellow butter cake mix, sprinkled on top
-1 stick margarine or butter cut up in small pieces all over top of cake mix.
Bake @350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Heath Bar Crunch Toffee (from my sister, Beth, and Tracie)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 package of chocolate chips
1 sleeve of saltine crackers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lay aluminum foil on cookie sheet (I use 11x15 pan) and arrange crackers flat on sheet.  In a small-medium saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar.  Heat over med-high heat until boiling.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Pour mixture over crackers, spread evenly and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove cookie tray from oven and pour chocolate chips over top and bake for about 1.5 minutes.  Remove from oven and spread melting chips evenly with rubber spatula.  Place in refrigerator for 2.5 hours or overnight.  Break into pieces.  I keep them in the refrigerator.

 I make as much as possible the day ahead.  Stuffing, potatoes carrots and desserts.  

I have to go....the kids keep coming in and asking when we are going to eat dessert.....! 

Happy Thanksgiving!!  Happy Memories!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Running and Homeschooling: Desire Trumping Reason

When I ran the San Antonio Marathon 2 years ago I loved many of the sayings I saw on t-shirts and posters.  Here are a few:

Quotes from the 2010 San Antonio Marathon:
*I thought you said 2.62!
 * Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.
 *Marathons are the triumph of desire over reason.

My friend is going to run her first half-marathon next month and she really wants to run, without walking, and finish well.  The third quote above recently came to my mind after I talked to her the other day.  I know she can do it.  Now, she has to want it.  She's been faithfully training for months.  

Then, I thought that the quote could be applied to homeschooling too.  So for me it would be:  Homeschooling through high school is the triumph of desire over reason.  

I  have just over a year and a half to graduate my first child.  Not...sure...if...I can do it....ugh.  There has been quite a few times I almost transferred one or more children into a public or private school...
 My desire is to be obedient to God's calling for our family and that seems to be homeschooling our kids....for our this time.  

  Hebrews 12:1b...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

 How is your homeschooling going?  


Thursday, September 20, 2012

7 Tools Book Club: Leadership and Communication

The Question
You know when people ask you, "What do you do?"

You may have been a rocket scientist, or maybe a teacher, or an Army nurse practitioner like me.

But now you are mom.  Does anyone say just, "I'm a mom" when they answer that question?  I try to, but it's hard to end it there and not try to qualify it with..."I'm a homeschool mom."  Or, "I'm retired from the Army."  Or, whatever.

The Answer
Years ago, long before I had kids, my very capable, intelligent friend who was also an Army nurse, and had 2 or 3 small children, replied to the above question with an answer that I thought was brilliant, "I'm raising the next generation of leaders."  Period.  No explanation.  She never mentioned she was an esteemed captain in the United States Army. 

I loved her answer.

Do you?  Here's what Zan says in her book:
"We want our homes to be effective, intensive leadership training centers."  (pg. 181)

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

What is leadership? 
"Taking initiative to use your gifts to influence the world, improve and empower the lives of others, and bring glory to God in the process." (pg. 175)
King Belshazzar was King Nebuchadnezzar's successor and when mysterious finger's of a man's hand began writing on the wall of the king's palace, Belshazzar was scared to death.  He summoned Daniel when none of his wise men could interpret the writing.  Daniel read it and gave the bad news to the king.

Here are Daniel's leadership qualities according to Zan (pg. 177-178):
  • had the spirit of the holy gods in him
  • he was smart
  • he used his intelligence to help others
  • his character was sterling
  • he exhibited great courage and faith in the midst of adversity
  • he openly acknowledged God and gave Him the glory for his success
What was the secret to Daniel's success?
  • saying "no" to temptation
  • he had knowledge and wisdom in every kind of literature and wisdom
  • he prayed and sought God
  • demonstrated respect and discernment in dealing with others
  • he was levelheaded
  • he served those around him
Daniel's life makes an excellent study in leadership.  We want our kids to dare to be like Daniel.  Our homes are their training centers. 

Leadership does not need to focus in the political realm.  It should be focused on where our kids' gifts are...on where their bent is (like she said in the first chapter). 

What about Communication?
Zan's mention of the importance of good communication is brief. 

The bottom line?  "Children who grow up in families who communicate well will usually be good communicators."  They learn from observing you communicate with them. 

I have two things to say about that. 
  1. Make sure your children are comfortable speaking in public!  There is a Toastmasters program for children, there are numerous speech and debate clubs for homeschoolers, and the Boy Scouts have public speaking requirements to complete.  All are superb ways to learn and/or enhance public speaking skills.
  2. Good communication can trump other assets such as stellar grades.  Here is one example of why I say that.  
 A few years ago my husband attended a conference with influential American leaders, both military and civilian.  One of the attendees was a CEO of a large, powerful business.  This man told my husband that he hires the well-rounded college graduates with good communication skills who get along well with others who may, or may not, have top grades.  He said these people are masters at interacting with others and they will in turn hire the straight A students to do the math and technology work that needs to be done.  The straight A students work for the good communicators. 

How do you develop leadership and communication skills
 in your children?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

7 Tools Book Club: World View, Dicipleship & Academics

It's true.  I'm trying to catch up on my 7 Tools Book Club posts, so I'm combining a few chapters in one post.  

Really, I don't have to post on them at all but, by going back through the book to put my thoughts in writing, it helps me gain so much from the book.   If you are reading a book like this, I encourage you to write a synopsis of each chapter if you aren't already.

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

Chapter 5:  Developing a Biblical World View
"World view gives focus and direction.  When we teach our children to view all of life through the lens of Scripture, we are giving them a priceless gift in today's secular, postmodern society." (pg. 104-105)  A biblical worldview serves as a compass for us to find our way and stay on that course. (pg. 107)

Children need to understand the implications of Christianity in their daily lives and that it's relevant in everything they do, from playing soccer on a team to the job they have as adults.  They need to know that each of them serve God by doing their work well and using their hobbies and gifts to help shape the world.  We were made in God's image and that's what He didHe made the world and it was good.  I had to explain this (again) to my son who was deviating from serving God on the soccer field by not showing proper respect to the referee.  What he does on the soccer field is relevant to the rest of his life. 

Recently I put this quote from the 7 Tools book on our family's white board in response to a question that my husband posed about why our family homeschools.
"Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore lay Christ at the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."  (pg.  119)  This quote was from  Harvard's 1646 ""Rules and Precepts." 
 How do we teach our children worldview?  Zan recommends the What We Believe series from Apologia (for ages 6-14), and the Thinking Like a Christian curriculum for parents and high school students (pg. 119).  I didn't read this until after I ordered my curriculum and I'm using the What We Believe series for my younger kids this year and the I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist curriculum for (myself) and my high schoolers.  

Chapter 6:  Building Character Through Discipleship
 I'm not sure if more needs to be said than what Zan said at the beginning of this chapter:
"This is the heart of  discipleship- helping our children reach the point in their lives where they are concerned first and foremost with what their heavenly Father thinks, and as a result are trying to please Him in all that they think, say and do."  (pg. 126-127)
Remembering God.  Zan writes that God wants us to remember Him and on page 132 she gives scripture verses/admonitions that she recommends we share with our children about remembering God in our daily lives.
  • Deut 7:18  "...remember what the Lord your God did..."
  • Deut 8:18  "Remember His wonderful deeds..."
  • Neh 4:14  "...remember the Lord who is great and awesome..."
  • Eccl 12:1  "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth..."  (My husband graduated from the Citadel in South Carolina, and this verse was posted plainly for all of the cadets to see.)

What's important to God?  Two things:  loving God and loving your neighbor.
  •  Loving God.  "He wants our undivided love and worship, and he will go to great lengths to secure both.  We need to teach our children how to "live in an attitude of worship"sacred activity or calling when we offer it to God and do it for His glory."  Even on the soccer field...ahem.   And, while we homeschool them...ahem.
  • Loving Your Neighbor.  Ways to do this include service, good manners and good behavior.  Our family has a small group ministry and one of the events we do with our group is serve at a local homeless shelter.  That is somehow easier for us than having good manners and good behaviors, especially within our family.  Zan gives me some grace regarding that by saying that we don't live in a perfect world and that misbehavior can be controlled but not completely prevented. 
         So, how do we do that?  Intentionally parent.  Pray.  Encourage.  Have a strong family unit. Homeschooling can contribute to a strong family unit.  (John Rosemond, in the article, "Living with Children")  pg. 147

Chapter 7:  Providing Stimulating Academics
I didn't really want to read this chapter.  Why not? Because I thought it was entirely possible that Zan intimate that I've been doing it all wrong for the past 13 years.  Until now in the book she hasn't been anything but encouraging, so my thoughts were certainly unfounded.  Nonetheless, that thought did enter my mind.

In reality, Zan continued to be an encouragement in this chapter too!

I loved how she defined academics:  the Bible, conversation, and oh....the occasional textbook! 

This past summer I sent my two high school boys to a week long camp to learn about the government.  Yes, gasp, in the summer!

Before they left for the camp they had to complete some assignments (yes, in the summer ...ugh) which included reading the U.S. Constitution and drafting two bills.

Knowing that there was complete lack of interest to comply (although not blatant)  I asked one of our friends, a retired Army Colonel lawyer, to help guide them (so they would "get er dun").

 I thought it would be less painful for my boys if someone explained the process who was, ya know, excited about those types of things.  Thankfully I was right.  Although they didn't finish the bills during their meeting with him, they came back excited about all of the stories he told them and they were ready to write.  It turns out that our friend had been an instructor at West Point- teaching Constitutional Law!  So, he gave my boys the assignment to write up their bills and send him their drafts so he could assess their work!  I think he was glad to have students again. 

Although my boys did NOT want to go to that camp for a week they returned totally stoked (excited) about their experience. During the week, they role-played being part of the government.  One of my boys was a congressman in the House of Representatives and the other was selected to be the Ambassador from Germany (we've lived there and he speaks German).  I think that was the best way for them to learn about our government. 

When I finish this inspiring book, I will have such a feeling of thankfulness and accomplishment, and also some sadness that it came to an end! 

What are some outside-the-box stimulating curriculum ideas you have or you've heard about?

Monday, September 3, 2012

PSAT, SAT, ACT Testing for Homeschoolers

Recently I asked my local homeschool group where homeschoolers take SAT/
ACT tests
.  The only people who replied on our email group also wanted to know, so I'm posting this information for others who are curious.

At the bottom of this post I listed the websites for SAT and ACT test dates, sites and registration.  You need to register on the site and then choose a test date and the site will prompt you to find a location.  The tests are offered at local high schools, so you pick where you want to take the test. 

The next SAT date is 6 October and the registration deadline is 7 Sep.  (You can register late for additional fees.)

BTW, PSAT/NMSQTs are on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 or Saturday, October 20, 2012.  My son is taking it at our local high school. I contacted the guidance counselor and arranged that.  He took them there last year too.  For students to qualify for National Merit Scholarship they need to take the PSAT as a junior.  

Read this for more info on PSAT:
Each year, over 1.4 million high school students take the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, also known as the PSAT. This test helps you prepare for the SAT while determining your eligibility for a National Merit Scholarship.
The PSAT offers you the chance to improve your test–taking skills with no negative consequences; your results will have no bearing on college admissions or your high school transcript. And if you do well, you could earn more than bragging rights – you could win money for college.

SAT and ACT test dates, sites and registration:

ACT test date and registration.

You can homeschool highschool. 
What questions do you have about homeschooling highschool?


Thursday, August 30, 2012

7 Tools Book Club: Discovering Purpose

Chapter Four of 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential is devoted to discussing how to discover our child's purpose while maintaining an eternal perspective. 
The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

I can't stop thinking about Zan's story of teaching a class and using maps to learn about a certain area of the world.   After the class she asked a student to help her fold the maps.  Zan folded one in the time it took her helper to fold ten.  She asked him how he did it so fast.  He replied, "You gotta fold 'em the way their bent."  He had taken a few seconds to study the bends in the maps before folding them.  Zan worked against the the folds.

She said that our children are like those maps:  "We must fold them the way they're bent."  

Proverbs 22:6 says, "Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."  Chuck Swindoll says that verse could read, "Adapt the training of your children so that it is in keeping with their individual gifts or bents- the God-given characteristics built into them at birth.  When maturity comes, they will not leave the training they have received."  We should be students of our children so we can work with them the way God created them to be.  (pg. 69-70)

Further in the chapter Zan continues by saying that we should "always be watching our children to identify their true passions."  Whether these passions turn into vocations or not, is not the point.  "God can use our children's gifts and abilities, their strengths and passions, to display His glory to a watching and needy world."  (pg. 99)

Something that struck me was her thought that we also need to help our children discover their gifts and develop them so they can use them to benefit the church and society.  Yup.

Our four oldest children play soccer.  Our fifth child is a natural gymnast.  Where did that come from?   She can't stand for more than a few seconds without performing a cartwheel, handstand or the likes.  It's the way God made her.  She was recently invited to join the team at our local gym.  So now the decision is, "Do we let her spend hours at the gym, and a significant sum of money, on her 'bent'?"  After reading this chapter my inclination is to say, "Yes," although with some reservation as she is only eight years old.  I'd love more insight on this!  Comment anyone?

This chapter was jam packed with ways that parents can guide their children to discover their purpose.  As I've I said about this book should read it!

Are you working with your child(ren)'s bent?  What is the race that He set before each of your children?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

All Present.

Everybody made it to school today! 

This fall we'll have one hunter, one gymnast, three soccer players and one who wants to do all of the above.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Not everyone was in class today.

First day of school today.

This is the second year in a row that we started school "minus one".  Luke is in California, again this year, spending a week with his friend (our former neighbor) who lives in Germany and visits California every summer with his family.

It was actually easier to start the first day with only four grades to teach instead of five.  Ya think?! Also, Steve had the day off and watched Levi which allowed me to really focus on orienting the kids to the new school year.

Maybe next year I can have each child start school on a different day.  I wonder how that would work.  Oldest child on Monday, next oldest on Tuesday...

As school was about to start this morning, Levi came to me and whispered that he didn't want a babysitter to come to take care of him during school.  In the past, I've had someone come and play with him for a few hours a week so I could concentrate on some academics with the other kids.  He always wants to be in the mix and not at all separate from us.  That really is a good thing.  I wonder how I'll keep him engaged (and quiet) during school this year.  Still working on that.

Ready for some pics from the first day?

Watch the little guy on the right...trying to keep a straight face.

Still stoic on the right...

Ah ha!
13th year of homeschooling.
I hope to get a group shot with all of the kids tomorrow when Luke is back!

This year my older kids are taking quite a few courses in an online classroom.  I hope to be able to concentrate on certain subjects with certain kids instead of trying to manage most/all the classes for each child. 

How will school be different for you/your kids this year?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

7 Tools Book Club: Cultivating Intimacy

So many times I start a book and never finish it.  Thankfully, this book club and
this book are keeping me accountable and determined to finish.

This chapter on cultivating intimacy was the one I wanted to read the most.  

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

Here are some of the points that I highlighted...
  • If your parents never loved each other, "and you never saw that and absorbed it as a kid, it's hard to know how to do it."
  • "Many kids are now affected with depression.  The root of this depression is alienation.  God created people to live in fellowship with Him and with other human beings.  Alienation from God is the primary source of children's depression; alienation from family ranks a close second."  This last comment relates back to the last chapter regarding establishing identity.  After reading the last chapter, I realized how glad I am that our family has a small group ministry.  It gives our family an identity and helps to form a bond.
  • "Relationships, like gardens, require constant attention and cultivation.  Without these ingredients,  weeds will grow out of control and choke the life out of our relationships or drought will wither our relationships on the vine."
  • "Why do relationships require so much work?  Sin.  Sin results in our alienation from God and from one another."
  •  "What is intimacy?  Intimate relationships are those in which we make ourselves known to others, and they reveal themselves to us.  Today, we refer to this as community."  We see this happen in small group settings.
Four tools for cultivating inimacy:
  1. Time
  2. Personal Presence
  3. Conversation
  4. Physical Affection
Zan discusses each of these in depth.  And then ends with a bang in her conclusion.  Children mimic us (parents).  We know that.  But she teaches and admonishes by saying, "We need to be aware that children are their parents' ambassadors to the world.  They will tell the world what they have seen, heard, and learned at home." 

What ever they see us doing, they will do likewise.   Both the chapter on establishing identity and this chapter confirmed the importance of our family's small group ministry.

 When she was talking about the importance of conversation, Zan mentioned the "importance of explaining to our kids why we do what we do and using scripture in our explanations so they can begin to see that our actions are motivated by biblical principles and our love for God."  And, that we do it even when we're tired and don't want to!  Her friend used Philippians 2: 3-4 to explain to Zan's boys why Zan was making, and taking, a meal to a family in need.  "Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look out not [only] for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." 

What is one thing that you do to cultivate intimacy with your kids?  Say good night to each one?  Take each one out alone once a month? Something else?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

7 Tools Book Club: Establishing Identity

Would you agree that it is easier to read a book than it is to read a book for a book club and then post about it?  I mean, not only do you have to take the time to read, but if you are a blogger in a book club you have synthesize, analyze and then write about it.

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

Would you also agree that the later is so much more edifying and profitable?

Which brings me to chapter 2:  Establishing Identity.  Have you thought about establishing your child's identity?  I have, but not from the same perspective as Zan wrote about in this book.  In this chapter she talks about if from the perspective of establishing your family identity which in turn provides a positive identity for your child.

We live in a society that is...
"full of adults and teenagers who are random- who lack a purpose for their lives and are therefore forced to run a haphazard race rather then the race that God has set before them." 

The reason for our randomnesss, Zan says...
"stems from the fact that in large measure we have divorced ourselves from God, forgetting to worship and obey Him." 
As a result of being...
" Detached from its scriptural place of prominence and responsibility, the family has become weak and powerless, and parents have succumbed to thoughts that they are incapable of doing anything of importance in the lives of their children.  Nothing could be further from the truth."
 Those lines alone could cause one to shutter.

What can families do?  Ensure children know Whose they are.  We. Are. NOT. Random.  
 "A child needs to know who he is in a larger context than himself.  God accomplishes this by placing children into families."  (Psalm 68:6 I encourage you to look it up.)
What can families do?  That depends on your family.  Zan asked some pensive questions that got me think about our family's identity.  And, she gave the key point for me: 
"You should have some activities that are enjoyed together and not just individually...The more time you can spend together in today's fragmented, random world, the better off your children will be."
Wonderfully, Zan posed questions that made me think of what is important in our family and what type of legacy our kids will have based on that.

What were some of her questions?
  1.  Do you have a spiritual legacy in your family?
  2.  How are you currently education your children and why?
  3.  Do you eat meals together?
  4.  Do you enjoy each other's company?
  5. Do you vacation together?
  6. Do you play ball or musical instruments together?
At the very end of the chapter I love what Zan wrote:
"The work of establishing an identity for your child begins as you teach him that he is God's.  It continues when, as a family, you actively engage in seeking God, in serving others, in enjoying  one another's company, and in learning, growing, and working together.  These are meaningful pursuits that breathe a positive perspective into your child about who he is and what he can become.  As you lay down your life for him on a daily basis, you are telling him that he is worth giving your life for."

Zan's goal in writing this book was to give us direction and encouragement.  This chapter encouraged me to intentionally establish our family identity.

Do you have this book?  If not, I dare you to get it.

Are you in the 7 Tools Book Club?  If not, I double-dog dare you. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I lightened my load.

My planning was done.

Then, out of nowhere, I changed my plan.  In my last post I showed the classes my kids would be taking this year: classes my kids are taking this year

There were too many classes for me to teach.  I. Need. A. Break. 

So, I did "it" and I am so excited....

What did I do?  I signed up my three oldest kids for online classes with Tapestry of Grace.

The oldest two were already registered for literature with TOG's online classes.  In addition, I also signed up my soon-to-be 7th grade daughter for literature with them.  TOG has a great literature curriculum, but I don't always get to implement it.  Now, I know they will get all that great literary information from the TOG class.  

I also signed up my 7th and 9th graders for TOG's online history class.  My 2 oldest took history and literature online with TOG last year and I was going to teach it myself this year, but I snapped and just kept signing them up for courses!  I would have signed up my oldest for history with them too, but the class has a wait list, so I'm waiting to hear about that.

Finally, I signed all three of the oldest up for TOG's writing!  TOG has an amazing writing program.  Although I've been using IEW and I love it, I've always wanted to use TOG's writing because it is one of the best, but I just couldn't fit in preparing and teaching that class too.  (IEW's is easier to implement- IMHO.)  TOG's writing complements the literature and history curriculum so they will be writing about what they are learning about in history and literature.  (And someone else will provide feed back/grade their work too!  Yes!)

Such a heavy weight was lifted when I registered them for all of these classes.  My kids will still be using TOG, but I'll have help teaching.  I might even be able to breathe this school year.

Just in case you want to check out their online classes, here's a link:  Tapestry of Grace online classes

Now, if someone would recommend a writing class for my 10 yo 5th grade son that I don't have to teach or grade, I would be very thankful.

Do you have any classes that you "outsource"?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Classes My Kids Are Taking This Year

Do you want to see what classes my kids will take this school year? you want to see the plans I made for their classes?  Some of the classes may change.  I'm still trying to squeeze in Latin...

Luke- 11th grade
Josh- 9th grade
Caroline- 7th grade
Jesse- 5th grade
Sophia- 3rd grade
Levi- 3 year old learning at all levels

Sophia- 3rd Grade
Writing- Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)
Spelling- Spelling Workout
Grammar- First Language Lessons
Cursive- Handwriting Without Tears
Science- Apologia Sea (with note-booking  journal)
Math- Math-U-See Gamma
History- Tapestry of Grace Year 3 (lower grammar)
Literature- Tapestry of Grace (TOG)
Bible- Tapestry of Grace Worldview
PE:  Gymnastic Team
Art- with a private tutor

Jesse- 5th Grade
Cursive- Handwriting Without Tears
Writing- Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) SWICC-A
Science- Finish Rod and Staff Year 4
Spelling- IEW
Literature- Tapestry of Grace Year 3  (upper grammar)
Math- finish Teaching Textbooks 6
History- TOG Year 3
Bible- Tapestry of Grace Worldview
Art with a private tutor
PE:  Soccer, baseball

Caroline-7th Grade
Writing Institute for Excellence in Writing SWI CC A
Science- Apologia  Gen Science using schedule from Sonlight
Math- Math-U-See  Pre- Algebra
History – Tapestry of Grace Year 3 -Dialectic
Literature- TOG Year 3 -Dialectic
Spelling- IEW
Grammar- Analytical Grammar (AG)
Bible- Tapestry of Grace Worldview
Logic- Fallacy detective
PE:  Club Soccer

Josh- 9th Grade
Math- Algebra 2 or Geometry with Teaching Textbooks
Science- Apologia Biology using DIVE (CLEP)
History- TOG Year 3 Rhetoric (US History CLEP)
Literature- TOG Year 3 online
Writing- IEW, The Elegant Essay
Grammar- AG
Spanish- Oklahoma State University  
Bible- Tapestry of Grace Worldview
Logic- Fallacy detective
Government-  TOG and IGovern (Homeschool Legal Defense Association), 0.5 Credit
(PSAT) memoria press class?
PE:   soccer, baseball, hunting

Luke- 11th Grade
1) Math- Pre-calculus Teaching Textbooks (co-op)
2) Science- Apologia Chemistry (co-op)
3) History- TOG Year 3 Rhetoric (US History CLEP)
4) English
Literature- TOG Year 3 online
            Writing-  IEW The Elegant Essay and  Regent University Dual Credit course
            Grammar- AG reinforcements
5) German- Oklahoma State University 
6) Government-  TOG and IGovern (Homeschool Legal Defense Association), 0.5 credit
7) Bible
8) Choir
9) PE:  Club Soccer, baseball

Key to abbreviations:
IEW – Institute for Excellence in Writing
TOG- Tapestry of Grace
TT- Teaching Textbooks
MUS- Math-U-See
AG- Analytical Grammar
PE- Physical Education

NOTE:  After posting this, I changed my plans a little...and I'm very excited about the changes.  You can see what I did at "I lightened my load."

Is it helpful to see what others are doing in their school? 

Would you like to see my daily schedule on Word showing when I work with each child?

Not Back to School Blog Hop
I shared this post on the above link-up.  Check it out for more posts on what others are using for school this year.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another blogger's post gave me an epiphany

Smiling with joy, almost laughing, I abruptly paused as I read Kendra's blog post on keeping preschoolers busy while homeschooling older kids .  I didn't even get to the part where she gives suggestions on how to keep them busy.  I paused and started writing this so I wouldn't forget my epiphany

I read this and stopped:
"Have you thought about including your littlest one in some of your teaching time? We have always had some sort of group teaching hour, and little ones love to know they are a part of what the rest of the family is doing."

Earlier today I shared with some of my blogging buddies my feeling of not wanting to start school this year.  Each year I have that feeling, but this year is different for some reason.

Every school year, except last year, I was pregnant and/or nursing

Last year I homeschooled 5 of my 6 children and my youngest turned 3 in the middle of the school year.  In case you don't have a child that age, it's the age of, "Mom.  Mom.  Mom." 

Mom, "What?!"

Three year old, "Hi."

Yes.  That age.

But, back to why I stopped abruptly while reading Kendra's post.  I've been thinking these past few days/weeks of the reason(s) why I am homeschooling.   It's not about academics.  Epiphany:  It's about guiding the kids to determine God's calling in their lives and helping them to achieve that calling.  

If it were just about academics, that would be easy.  Really.  I have a master's degree in Nursing as an Adult Nurse Practitioner.  I've taught nursing in the Army.  K-12 academics;  not that hard.  Homeschooling with a preschooler (BOY)- hard!

So, Kendra's note above made me think of this past school year.  Each morning we had a Bible class with all of the kids.  All.  Even the 2 yo who turned 3 in the middle of the year.  During the year, he would sporadically ask questions like, "Is it time for Bible?"  Or, we would be discussing something outside of Bible class and he would say, "We learned that in Bible class."  Did your mouth just drop like mine did every time?  Oh, and when he said that, it was something we learned about in Bible class! 

Eventually, I hope to get back to Kendra's   post and read her ideas about how to keep preschoolers busy while teaching older kids.  Or not.  Maybe I'm a little calloused about the possibility of that actually happening.  I mean the only trick I've found to be tried and true is...duct tape! 
{Kidding.  Really.}

How do you homeschool your older kids with preschoolers in the house? 

What do your preschoolers do while you are working with older kids?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Did she have to say that?!

It's right there on page 14 of 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential, "As wives and mothers, our first mission field should be our homes."  Ugh.  Can I still get my nails done?!  Please?

Zan's right though.  But what does that look like for my family?  For your family?

If you are following the 7 Tools Book Club schedule, you know that this is the first week to share our thoughts on a blog post.   If this is the first time you've heard about this you can still join.  Click here to find out how to join.

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

In the introduction, Jan wrote that she "had never considered the topic of biblical womanhood" when she was graduating from college.  I hadn't either.  Or, maybe I had, but the ideas I had were, um, in reality, not entirely biblical.

Jan wrote this book for people like me.  "My goal for this book is to give you encouragement and direction as you work hard to cultivate a rich harvest for God's glory in the lives of your children."  

Thanks Zan.

Some of my favorite lines from the book's introduction:
  • "Being a wife and a mother is a noble vocation."  That hit me in my red-white-and-blue, retired military officer gut.  I love 'noble'.  I'm in.
  • "I have encountered the Glory of God while carrying out the often mundane tasks of being a wife and mother."  Me too.  I mean, how you deliver a baby (or six) and NOT see God?!  Or relish in the absolute cuteness of a toddler, if even for a split second,  without seeing a Creator?
  • And, the reason I kept reading..."The goal of this book is simply that of Titus 2:4:  to encourage you to love your husband and your children, and to put some flesh on what that means."  Since I'm kinda literal...I need to see the flesh to understand some things.  Show me the flesh!

What are your ideas about biblical womanhood?  What does that look like for you?  Where did you get  those ideas?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

San Antonio Riverwalk on a Summer Day

We drove a few miles from our home to Alamo and Riverwalk to be tourists in our own town yesterday.  One of our exchange students was sick so she stayed home.  We just had to take "A" (our French student) to see the Alamo and take a requisite picture.

Somehow we ended up at the River Center Mall and then on the Riverwalk where we had some awesome nachos with tons of toppings at Zuni.

I Just had to take a maybe I can copy it at home.

Then some shopping in the tourist shops...which we love.



Where'd she go?!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Sunshine Award

Me... nominated?   I got an email/comment from Patricia saying she nominated me for an award and I...well, I almost blushed!  I'm humbled.

The Sunshine Blog Award is a prize is awarded to “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”.

Thanks Patricia!   Patricia blogs at Worst Mom Ever.  Click on that link and it will take you to the funniest post I've ever seen!  Patricia is a fellow homeschooling blogger.  She is my biggest encourager on my blog and I hope I meet her in person on this side of heaven.
 The award works this way. First, the nominee must thank the blogger that nominated her and link back to their blog. Next she must nominate ten bloggers for the award. Then there is a list of ten questions to answer.  Also, make sure you let the bloggers know you nominated them.  Finally, the Sunshine Award button must be posted on the blog.

When I went to the 2:1 Conference the mantra was "Plug other's blogs as much as possible.  They are not your competition, they are your community."  

Here are my nominations for the Sunshine Award in no particular order.  I hope you visit them.  They are my community.

Confessions of a Fraidy Cat   I met Carol Anne at the 2:1 Conference and we bonded.  To say she is witty is an understatement;  she has an amazing way with words.  Here's what she says, "We live in times that give all of us reasons to fear.  There is a fraidy cat in all of us. The list is as varied as the hairs of our head.  I'm in the process of evicting mine...and I have several! So, come on along for the fun...if you dare!"  She is the bravest fraidy cat I know.

Yes They're All Ours  Elizabeth is the very busy mom of 10 children.  She has a beautiful smile and attitude.  She's been homeschooling since 1990 and she's on the downward slide with just five children and twelve years to go!  ;)   Her link will take you to my all-time favorite blog post.

 A Holy Experience  Ann's blog is beautiful.  I get on her blog and have a hard time leaving.  Here's what she says, "I had babies. Half a dozen beautiful babies. My laundry basket is never empty. I lose library books. I homeschool our six exuberant kids and most days I feel just a tad bit overwhelmed and crazy."  Can you see why I like her blog?  She is an encourager. 

Addison's Disease Daily  She is my friend, a wife, mom, sister, daughter, and most importantly, incredibly thankful child of God.  Her blog is not just an encouragement to other's with chronic illness, but it encourages everyone. 

Preparing Good Soil  My friend Jen is a Christian, military wife and homeschool mom.  The blog's title Preparing Good Soil is based on Jesus' parable in Luke 8 and Jen encourages other women.  

Mom of 8   She's the mom of 8 and has over 3200 followers on her I need to say more?!

Tell Me a Story  Her desire is to rescue the stories from our childhood and those stories about our children.   She has a blog link for bloggers to post their stories.  What an awesome idea!

Many Little Blessings    Many Little Blessings chronicles the life of a 30-something Catholic homeschooling Mom. Join her as she relies on God’s grace and the power of her shiny red stand mixer to get her through life without losing her mind.

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers  Kris is a Christian. Wife. Mom x 3. Home educator. Sweet tea addict. Formerly obese. Runner.  (Love her blog name!)  She's always willing to help/reply to comments and questions. 

Teaching What is Good  Kate has a passion about older women teaching younger women in the manner of Titus 2:3-5.  Another homeschooling mom of 8!

Now it's time for me to answer the ten questions about myself.

1- Favorite Color:  Blue!

2- Favorite Animal:  Dog.  Big dogs.

3- Favorite Number:  Never had one even during four years of  high school basketball.  My favorite TV show about a favorite number is Seinfeld's show where George wanted to name his child "Seven."  

4- Favorite Drink:  Which version?  G or PG-13?  G= Venti Non-fat Latte with 2 Splenda and heated to 160 degrees.  Hey, you asked!  And, I lived in Washington State where coffee is the national sport.  PG-13= (currently) Moscato wine.  

5- Facebook or Twitter:  I'm on both, but hardly ever visit Twitter...usually only when I want to get in touch with famous people. 

6- Good Book or Good Movie:  If I have the time;  good book.  

7- My Passion:  My family.  And chocolate comes in a close second.

8- Giving or Getting Gifts:  Hmmm.  Oh, that's so not fair.  I guess giving.

9- Favorite Day: Saturday.  It's the only day when I theoretically don't have to do anything. 

10- Favorite Flower:  Yellow rose (even before I lived in TX).

So, there you have it. If you've been nominated don't forget to grab the button and start thinking about who you will nominate. Be sure to take some time to check out some of these great blogs!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I'm participating in 7 Tools Book Club

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

This is my first ever book club.  You are invited to join!  It starts tomorrow.

For more information on joining, click here  7 Tools Book Club.

Description of the book:  When you look at your children, do you see only little people making demands of your time? Or do you see what God sees—a landscape of limitless possibilities? Author and homeschool advocate Zan Tyler wants to take you beyond the here and now to embrace a wondrous, life-giving vision for your children’s future. With this amazing book, you will learn to recognize the signs of potential in your children, signs that are easy to miss yet ripe for cultivation. You will begin to see every facet of each child’s life through the eyes of faith and the lens of Scripture, creating a vision of hope and beauty. You will grow closer to the Master Gardener as you learn to use the tools He has given you for tending your family “garden.” Let Zan show you how to help your kids establish a godly identity, discover their purpose, develop a biblical worldview, and build leadership and communication skills. You will come away with a vision of child-raising so captivating and enthralling that you will know, come bedtime, it’s all been well worth the effort.

 Here’s what you need to know:
  •   Begins July 9.
  •  You’ll read one chapter each week. 
  •  Mondays: Reflection post and link up. Get link up details and buttons. 
  • Thursdays: Read an application type post from one of the book club contributors. 
  • Throughout the week: discussion in the closed Facebook group. 
  •  Fridays: Weekly email newsletter with a recap from the week. 
Here’s what you need to do:
  •  Get a copy of 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential by Zan Tyler. It’s available in paperback and ebooks formats.
  • Sign up for the 7 Tools Book Club email newsletter. Subscribers will receive a link to download the free pdf printable guide/journal. 
  •  Request to be added to the 7 Tools Book Club Facebook group. Once you’ve been added, jump in and introduce yourself. 

Why am putting this on my blog?  Because I "have" to?  Ha!  No, because I want to.  This is going to be life changing for some of us.

And, I suggest that you print the guide/journal and don't "cheat" like I often do- try to read the book without doing the work.  I caved in and wrote in my journal and it's been an amazing first few chapters...

Who's going to join me?