School Begins

Since school begins next week, I thought I would share what our school year is supposed to look like. At least I have a plan. Will I stick to it? Hm.

Boy is 13 and in 8th grade. He will be doing Classical Conversations Challenge B.

There are six seminars plus a Bible study.

  • Bible: AWANA Trek
  • Math: Singapore New Elementary Math 2
  • Logic: Introductory and Intermediate Logic
  • Science: Research scientists for 10 weeks, science fair for 5 weeks, and then Creation/evolution debate for second semester
  • Writing/Literature: A semester of Children’s Literature and a semester of Short Story studies
  • Latin: Henle 1, Lessons 1-20
  • Debate: Current events and Mock Trial.

Logic, Math, Bible, and Latin have to be done in daily increments, including lots of flash cards and memorization. For Math, I have him do each lesson twice, each day doing 6-10 problems from the lesson. If he gets every one of them quickly the first day, he can move on to the next lesson instead of repeating it the following day. (6-10 problems in Sing. NEM is about an hour’s worth of hard work, usually.) Logic is a lot of reading and making flashcards, and re-reading, and a few exercises each week. Latin is the same–read, re-read, do an exercise each day, and I will also have him listen to the week’s news in Latin here a couple of times a week. All his daily work should take him from about 8:30 to 11:30 each morning (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday–Tuesday we have to get up early and get to Classical Conversations community day.)

On Wednesday, after his daily work, we have band, and then will be doing a PE class with friends. Thursday afternoon he works on his current event for Debate, Friday afternoon he will write his report for science, and Monday afternoon he will finish reading his book and discuss it one week and write a paper on it the next week. He will also have a timeline book in which he will record everything–Bible people he encounters in AWANA, scientists he learns about in research, authors and characters he reads about in literature, composers whose music he plays in band and piano, famous Romans he reads about in Latin, and current events if applicable. The timeline book will grow with him all the way through high school. Every morning I will spend an hour with him, going over his work for the day, especially Math. In the afternoon, I am available to check his essays. He has to show me all his work and go through his checklist before he can go play in the afternoon. Since he will begin earning high school credit this year, everything counts, and record keeping is key, so I will be using this gradebook to keep track of it all. I also plan to join American Christian Academy to help with the record keeping.

Girl is going into 3rd grade, and has become a strong reader, but is still reluctant to write. She is really excited about school since she saw her science book and her science notebook though. I think she will have a great year. She will be attending Classical Conversations Foundations program once a week and will have memory work and presentations, science projects and fine arts there. At home, we will be taking a big step up from last year, as she did only AWANA, memory work, math and reading at home in second grade. This year she will go from 4 subjects to 9.

Most of these don’t take very long. 20 minutes each for Bible, memory work, Funnix, spelling, writing and Spanish. I will spend an hour each morning and afternoon with her. On Wednesday morning, we will go over her math, spelling, Science, and writing for the week. Thursday and Friday morning we will recite her Bible verses and read Story of the World (to her and her sister), add to her timeline book (she has one, too) and color pictures for a history notebook. Monday morning she will show me what she did in Science, and we will review and answer questions about the topics studied, and touch on her Bible study for the week. Each afternoon I will spend an hour reading to her and her sister. We will see how it goes having her do most of her work independently. She is a pretty independent child, and I think this will be good for her. She will read her science book to her sister and they will work on their science notebooks together. She will not be allowed to go play each day until she has shown me all her work and had it checked off on her checklist.

Baby is 5, and ready for Kindergarten. She will do Funnix, listen to Story of the World and color pages for her history notebook, listen to her sister read science and work on her science notebook, and attend Foundations once a week. Every day she will also do a few pages in a Kindergarten math book and a kindergarten skills workbook–just to keep her busy. Those days that she would rather play, she will still be allowed to just go play. Next year she will have to do a full day of school every school day.

Our school schedule is a bit shorter than most. We cram a lot of formal schooling into a short period of time, and have a lot of unschooling the rest of the year. We have 2 semesters of 16 weeks each, and just Math and phonics during some of the breaks–just enough to finish the books. We do a lot of reading during our breaks, too, and watch educational videos, go on field trips, etc. This morning’s educational play for Baby is coloring and cutting out a kangaroo picture, and then playing kangaroo by tucking it into a “pouch” formed by her clothing. Girl started learning to play Bridge yesterday, and Boy was studying and teaching Bridge. All of this takes place without any prompting from me. Last week they watched the Planet Earth series over and over, as it was too hot to play outside. All of them are often found with their noses buried in books.

When I get all my organizational stuff finished (got to hurry up–we start school next Thursday) I will post about that. I have had a friend over all week helping me declutter and organize my home. We did all the visible and really annoying areas. There are still some drawers and corners–and the bathrooms–that will have to be done later. But with the big obvious stuff done, it is easier to consider maybe emptying one drawer or shelf every weekend to declutter it. Maybe later this week I will also post my science notebook and show some pictures of how their timeline books came out. I have to go get them bound.


Baby inspired a twist on hot clam buns that has to be shared.

Yum, aren't they cute!

When we told her we were making bunnies for dinner, she immediately thought of chocolate bunnies. I thought that adding tails and ears would make them more appealing to her, especially since she has been a very fussy eater lately.

Clam Bunnies

Bread dough (recipe below, or use your favorite recipe)
50 ounce can of chopped clams, drained (about 3 cups of clam meat.)
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup mayonnaise (I have also used other binders such as softened cream cheese)
Salt to taste (Recipe calls for 1 tsp, but if the clams are especially salty, it can be too much.)
1/8 tsp. pepper

Mix all filling ingredients. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and generously butter two large cookie sheets.

The filling. You should have a large full bowl. I took this picture when I was over half finished.

Take a generous handful of bread dough and flatten it out into a rectangle.

Heap the filling in the center. I used two large spoons full--about half a cup.

Fold the sides in first, and then fold the ends over (when flipped over, they will look sort of like feet.) Gently mush one end a little narrower than the other to form the head as you flip it over onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Take bits of dough and add on tails, ears, and eyes.

We let the girls go a little crazy with the decorations on some. This one has hair and a big smile.

Baby tried to put fur on the back of one, and poked it so many times that it had no back by the time it was finished baking.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 – 35 minutes, until nicely browned and firm to the touch. Swap pans positions half way through to help them brown evenly. Bake as long as you can without getting too browned, as the filling requires longer to cook than the bread.

Here they are, browned and ready. The filling always leaks out of some of mine.

I had fewer leaks this time, as I rolled the dough a little thicker. This one had no holes.

Remove to a rack immediately and let them cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a salad or other vegetable.

Here is my bread dough recipe:

4 T. unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups hot water or warmed milk. I used water this time.
a generous splash of heavy cream (Optional if using water instead of milk.)
Mix until it is cool enough to not kill the yeast.
Add 3 T. yeast.
Stir and let rest 5 minutes.
Add 5 cups of flour and mix with dough hook or by hand.
Add 1 tsp. salt and slowly add 1-2 more cups of flour until bread reaches the right consistency.
Knead with bread hook 8 minutes or until smooth and glossy.
Let rest covered 25 minutes in a warm place.
Punch down and begin making rolls.

Snow Play

Saturday we went to the snow–up the mountain to Yuba Gap. We bought cheap blow up tubes to facilitate sliding, and tire chains to prevent sliding, and took off up the hill. We didn’t need the tire chains, as the day was clear and bright, and the roads were dry. Everyone else had the same idea, so the first park we came to was full.

Baby was excited about her new pink sliding tube.

The second snow park had room for us, and we unloaded the kids and hiked through the snow up to the sliding area.

Baby did not like walking in the snow much.

In fact, she kept falling, and she couldn't get herself up.

Hubby took Boy and Girl off to slide while Baby and I played in the tamer snow. But even the tame snow was up to my hips in places.

Boy and Girl slid.


And Again.

And Again.

Baby and I walked back to the car when she got tired of not being able to stand up and having cold hands. We tried to build a snowman, but she kept packing the snow on too hard, and knocking it over, so we ended up with nothing to show for it but the fun.

On the way home we stopped at Foster’s Freeze for lunch. Just Mmmm. Burgers, fries, and a shake. Mmmm. And good burgers too, as I was not about to waste the calories on something that was less than perfect.

Fun times.

All of us have a story to tell of how God has proven His power, His grace and His care for us. Here is one of mine.

When we first married, Hubby didn’t know how to balance a check book. He just had never learned. I decided it was necessary to keep my mouth shut and sit on my hands while he learned. He is a very smart man, it shouldn’t take long. As indeed it didn’t. It was only a matter of less than a month, and he had completely mastered the art of managing the balancing. During that month, one of the primary things God used to teach Hubby how to do it was that the rent check bounced, and neither of us could figure out why. We finally closed that account and started fresh, and have never had the same problem since. It was all for the best.

We moved twice during the next 7 years, taking all our furniture with us. Hubby was out of work, and I was working as a full-time home school tutor. We were short on the rent again, by $500, and were discussing how God would have us pay it this time. Should we borrow money again? We prayed about the shortage, and left it for the time. The student I was tutoring at that time had difficulty sitting still. As I read to him, he squirmed constantly.

On this day, his squirming focused on sticking his hands down into the couch, and pulling out various bits of trash . . . a pencil . . . a few coins . . . a paycheck for $500 which I had failed to deposit 7 years earlier! Turns out it was my failure which caused our rent check to bounce and the accelerated learning curve that went with that. God had placed it safely in the couch for the time it would be needed. Seven years earlier, He had planned how to provide for our needs. Now when I have a need, I remember. He knows my need before I ask, and has already planned the answer.

What is your $500 story?

That is what I have been doing for weeks. I am almost finished with my project. The hardest hump is behind me as of this evening, and what a relief that is.

Hubby assigned me the project of creating a time line for our home school. Said timeline must be Biblically accurate inasmuch as we are able to ascertain any Biblical dates, of course. The timeline must also be one that includes a full 430 years from the entry of Jacob and his family into Egypt to the Exodus, not the traditional two hundred and some years that most timelines use. Scripture is quite clear that the Israelites were enslaved and mistreated for 400 years (Genesis 15:3, Acts 7:6) and four generations (Genesis 15:16), so a timeline that has them enslaved for only 200 does not meet our criteria for Biblical accuracy. Unfortunately, most conservative, otherwise Biblical timelines do just that, mostly because of the four generations (Moses was Levi’s great-grandson: Levi–Kohath–Amram–Moses.)

So I found a timeline that seems relatively accurate Biblically, and used it as a basis for my timeline. (If you are curious, you can find it here: http://www.teachinghearts.org/dre00timeline.html) However, it is not accurate when it comes to the Egyptian Pharaohs. That timeline has the Exodus taking place under the 18th dynasty at the end of the Hyksos era, when the historical evidence seems to point to the Hyksos invaders being able to conquer Egypt primarily because all of Egypt’s mighty chariots had been destroyed in the Red Sea, and the rest of Egypt was weakened by the ten plagues. This puts Neferhotep I as the Pharaoh of the exodus. This means that Sesostris I cannot be Joseph’s pharaoh, and Sesostris I’s famous vizier (often considered to be Joseph, because of the way his power is described) cannot be Joseph.

Now I had to find a pharoah about 430 years before Neferhotep I who had a powerful vizier and who united Egypt. That leads me to Menuhotep II and his first vizier Bebe. I am intrigued to discover that there is one contemporary account regarding Menuhotep II’s successor, Menuhotep III, that after his death there came “seven empty years.” Either Menuhotep II or III had to be Joseph’s pharaoh because Egypt’s most glorious period is the Middle Kingdom, which lasted approximately 400 years. According to this theory, Egypt would have been most blessed for that 400 years because God’s chosen people were there during the entire Middle Kingdom.

So this would make the Biblical pharaohs run thus:

Abraham meets Cheops (also called Khufu) of Dynasty 4. (Interestingly, if the way the priests described Cheops to Herodotus was accurate, Abraham would have had reason to worry about his wife.)

Joseph is sold into slavery during Dynasty 11 under Menuhotep II, and comes to power as vizier under Menuhotep III.

After the end of Dynasty 11, Israel is enslaved by Dynasty 12 who did not know Joseph.

Moses confronts Neferhotep I of Dynasty 13. Which Pharaoh ruled when Moses was born is uncertain.

Queen Hatshepsut visits Solomon as the Queen of Sheba.

If you have stayed with my ramblings this long, congratulations. You get the history nerd award.

I have been praying for peace, the peace that passes all understanding, to keep my heart and mind in the midst of life’s busyness and trials. I long for peace, but I do not feel it, nor do I live it. I don’t really know how to be at peace, to have my heart and mind filled with quiet. The trials of January really set me off on a peace-less road, as I worried and fretted about my damaged kitchen floor, and my leaking washing machine, and my smashed up car, and my disorderly children, and my chaotic home school, and my messy house. Living without peace, I was snapping at my children and hubby, never smiling or pleasant. In my head, I know that God is in control of all these things, with His perfect love, but it didn’t show in my life.

Instead of peace, I have had a very grumpy and complaining month. Unpleasantness has filled my heart and mind, and would have filled my writing, too, had I written, so it is probably good that I didn’t blog. I started this blog to count my blessings in the small moments of life, but I have not been able to find them in the midst of my worry.

But an important event that changed my attitude happened last Friday. I was in my Mom’s group at coop, and listening to a Bible study, wondering why God has me there, as so far, it is all stuff that doesn’t seem to apply much to me. When bam, there it was.

Did you know that this minute is the best minute of your life? It is, because it is the only minute you have in possession. The past and the future are phantoms. They cannot give you any real joy in the now. Only this present moment can be savored. Actually what the speaker said is that this time, while the children are small, is the best time of my life, and that if I blink, I will miss it. But that is not what I heard. What I heard is that if I don’t enjoy this present minute, I will never enjoy my life. If I do not enjoy my children now, I will be miserable and cranky. If I do not rejoice in this present second, life will pass me by.

So I decided to practice enjoying my minutes. I started smiling more, especially at my children. I started taking delight in their “interruptions” instead of being annoyed by them. To my surprise, the peace I had longed for was right there, waiting for me. For the first time in ages, my heart was quiet, my mind still. The head knowledge that God has it all under perfect control, and that He loves me passionately and unconditionally began to fill all the worry wrinkles, smoothing my brow and my anxious heart.

This very moment is the best moment of my life. This is the only moment God has entrusted to me. He wants me to savor it, to drink deeply of it, to be moment by moment grateful for it. Whatever walks into my life in the next moment is to be savored then. I can neither taste it now nor change it now. I can only live it when it comes. Be it a crying child, or a cuddly one, I can not touch that moment now. I must enjoy the present moment while it is here, for in an instant, it too is gone, never to be touched again.

Today was difficult, yes. My resolve to enjoy my moments was sorely tested. Boy was cranky, unreasonable, and out of control much of the day. But I wasn’t. I didn’t let it get to me, at least not too much. Baby was also cranky, but I had sympathy for her instead of being worn down by her. Girl had a bad day, too, filled with petty meanness and unpleasantness. I smiled at them all, spoke gently to them, tried to help them instead of being annoyed at them. I do not say this as a matter of pride, for I did not maintain my calm through my own strength. The peace that I experienced this day reflects nothing regarding me, for it was not of me. This was not a day which should have been a peaceful one, and yet there you are. I experienced peace when I should not have. Is that not the peace which passes understanding?

There are many other great and good things which God has done for me lately. I want to make a short list, as a reminder of His almighty goodness and glory.

1. After all my worry and fretting, my kitchen floor issue is resolved with little interference from me. All I needed to do was stand back and watch God work on my behalf.

2. My car is as good as new. After all my distress, all that was required was to behold the work of God as He arranged the details and covered the need.

3. After all our stress about our finances, God had been preparing for the past year to have the money we require available when we require it. Our mortgage is paid, the deficit is covered, or will be when our income tax refund comes in, and all we needed to do is stand quiet beside Him and let Him work.

The present moment is the moment to pet the kittens, care for their needs, and then go to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day, full of new moments to savor. To paraphrase Lamentations, His mercies are new every moment.

This moment is the best moment of your life. Live it fully.