An Update on our School Year (Our Schedule, Curriculum, Homeschool, Public School, College, oh my!)

Way back in August when I shared this very delicious Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe, I mentioned a bit about our school year and our family Bible time. Several asked for more information, so here I am, a month and a half later, finally getting around to writing a few details about our schedule and curriculum.

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The good news: So far, this year isn’t as difficult as the past three years have been. Thank you, God. Our high school aged sons had some tougher classes during those years that threatened to push both student and mother over the edge of sanity. Everything in comparison seems easier this year, even though it’s still hard work. So here we are, not losing our sanity. Mostly.

This year we have:

Asa ~ age 20, a college junior

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Of course he’s not still homeschooling or even living at home, but I thought you might like an update on him anyway. :) Asa lives on the York College campus across town, so we still get to see him from time to time! He’s in the thick of his Business Communications degree plan, is known as “the video guy” on campus, and is well on his way to making a career of videography and photography. He’s paying his way through school with his camera, by studying hard so he can keep his academic scholarship (he has to maintain a 3.75 gpa or higher, phew!), plus he’s got a soccer and a choir scholarship. Somehow he keeps up with all of this, along with heavy involvement on campus, without ever sleeping. Also, he has an adorable girlfriend. Be still my heart.

Justus ~ age 17.5, a high school senior

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He is all but finished with his high school graduation requirements, so he is focusing now on getting more college credits under his belt. (We heart dual credits!) He’s taking World Literature on the York College campus, and Intro To Business at the public high school for college credit.

Big News! Nebraska changed their requirements this year for homeschoolers. In order to participate in extracurricular activities at the public school, homeschoolers only have to take two classes (which is much more doable for our family compared to previous state requirements). So Justus and Elias are taking two classes each at our local high school so that they can play soccer with the team in the spring. So exciting!

Justus is taking piano and voice lessons each week, choir at the public school, and produces music on software at home each week too. Perhaps it goes without saying that he is planning to be a music major in college next year.

Elias ~ age 15.5, a high school sophomore 

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This kid is hitting his high school basics hard this semester so that he can begin dual credits next semester (or next year…we’re still working out some of the specifics). He’s taking Choir and Weight Lifting at the public high school for his two required classes which will make him eligible to play soccer with the team. We chose those because there’s no homework involved, seeing as his homeschool academic plate is very full this year (details below).

Elias takes voice lessons each week and has no idea what he wants to do as a career in the future. It will be fun to watch God reveal that to him in the coming years!

Malachi, age 12.5, a 7th grader

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This guy is so full of ideas I can’t keep up. He’d rather ignore all school work and instead develop his ideas all day (mostly with LEGOs and YouTube, both of which he’d like to turn into businesses). Unfortunately, he has mean parents who still make him do his Pre-Algebra. So, he works hard to get his school work done by lunch, if possible, so that he can go with ALL THE IDEAS all afternoon.

He is on both a city team and a club team for soccer this fall and is busy writing two scripts for a church middle school event in the spring.

All three of our boys who still live at home will play for our homeschool basketball team this winter (Malachi’s first year!). They also all referee soccer for our city rec league, and some for club teams too, which has been great money for them through the years. They all work with Matt here and there doing various handy man or lawn care jobs, which is great for their work ethic, skills training, and savings accounts!

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What does our school year schedule look like?

6:30ish I get up and have quiet time with God before the household gets up. The boys wake up to their alarm clocks so they can be ready and at the table at 8:00.

8:00 Our family enjoys breakfast and Bible time together (I explained more about our family Bible time here).

8:40 Justus and Elias leave for Choir at the public school. Elias has Weight Lifting right after that, so Justus hangs out in the library and does school work during that period.

Meanwhile, Malachi and I read World History together (Sonlight curriculum) at home. Then he heads to a computer to work on Pre-Algebra (Teaching Textbooks) in the hopes that he’ll be done with that computer before Elias gets home. I answer emails and do other small blogging jobs while staying nearby to answer any math questions Malachi has.

10:30 Justus and Elias get home from public school. Justus practices his piano, guitar, and does any college class homework that needs to be done.

Elias starts on Geometry (Teaching Textbooks), then moves on to English, Zoology, and Economics (all guided by Sonlight curriculum suggestions, but adapted by Matt and me to fit his needs/learning style/state requirements). He finishes his day with Spanish (DuoLingo) usually around 2:00. We’re trying to squeeze in some ACT practice right now as well.

Malachi does his English, Science, and Reading (all Sonlight curriculum), then moves on to Spanish (DuoLingo). If he’s diligent, he can be finished with his work by noon.

12:00 Justus heads out to his Intro to Business class at the public school.

1:00 Everyone (and by this, I mean everyone but Asa, of course) is home and we eat lunch together, if possible.

1:45 On Tuesday/Thursday, Justus heads to the York College campus for his World Lit class. Elias and Malachi finish any work they have left. This is the point I can usually get a little bit of uninterrupted blogging work done, maybe, sort of. (Not that it matters, but it is 3:47 right now and I have been interrupted no less than 13 times in the past 30 minutes. Working from home is so relaxing and productive.)

The rest of the day and evening involves soccer games, church activities, or ministry opportunities. Often we don’t eat dinner together until around 8:00 pm during the fall. However, our boys’ homeschool basketball season is about to begin, which will mean that they need to eat and leave by 6:30 on Tues/Thurs evenings.

Our School Year - Homeschool, Public, and College

Through each full day, God always provides for our spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. My dirty kitchen though? Well, I’ll get that clean after all the kids graduate.

How We Developed a Morning Bible Reading Time With Our Family

It might surprise you to know that what originally started our morning Bible reading time with our family was a bit of selfish need on the part of this mama.

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What selfish need was my motivation? Oh, just a little something I like to call peace and quiet. The silly little desire for my four small boy children to actually stay in their chairs during a meal and not throw scrambled eggs toward the window or poke each other with forks. The desperate attempt to find some sort of order for our mornings when we were staring down a 7-year old, a 5-year old, a 3-year old, and a 6-month old.

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Now truly, motivation for beginning our Bible reading time was the fact that we felt like good Christian parents should probably actually read the Bible to their kids. Funny that I didn’t at first equate Christ-like character and heart training with Bible reading. Good Christians just read the Bible, right?

I could interrupt myself here and ask what I even thought it meant to be a “good Christian” because what? Like there’s such thing as a “bad Christian?” Either you’re a Christ follower or you aren’t. But I digress.

So we wanted to be good Christian parents, and that surely must mean that we should read the Bible to our kids. And we wanted all the eggs and muffins to stay on plates and then get eaten, so it started to make sense to us that if we read the Bible to our kids while they were sitting at the table eating their food, we could get a two-for-one. The kids would sit and eat. The “good Christian parents” could read the Bible. Everyone brushes their teeth and moves on with the day.

Thankfully, before we got much farther into our parenting journey, God convicted us that shaping our kids’ hearts and character meant much more than simply “reading the Bible” to them. Of course, reading the Bible is a fabulous and necessary part of the journey, but it’s so much more than just reading words and moving on. We started talking with our kids frequently about God’s work in our lives. We started using scripture as a part of their training in ways that were fun and meaningful.

We learned that we needed to make Jesus’ life and and love a part of every aspect of our lives so that we, too, could live a life of love.

As parents, we learned along with our kids. There’s no magic formula for perfect parenting, but there is a Holy Spirit, the perfect guide. The more we listen to His leading and direction, the more we know what to say, how to love, and how to guide our kids.

As for our morning family Bible reading time at breakfast, it’s become a practice and tradition that we all hold dear. It’s much more than words in a book. It’s the Words from the Book. It’s Truth. It’s Life.

Reading to our kids during a meal began as a way to keep them focused on both food and words. It worked for us then, and works for us now as it brings our busy family of teenagers together for conversation and Biblical truth before we hit the ground running.

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Keeping their hands busy any time I read to them when they were little
was a necessity if I wanted them to actually hear the words I was reading.

No matter how you choose to fill your kids with Truth from the Word, do find the ways that work for you. During meals, in the car, at bedtime – any or all of the above, as the Spirit leads you. Change your times and practices through the years as needed.

Don’t limit scripture training to be something your kids learn on Sunday mornings. Make it a part of every day of your lives, as parents, as individuals, and as a family.

And if you read the Bible at the breakfast table with your little ones, enjoy the added benefit that the eggs will be thrown at the window less frequently and forks will be poked at siblings less often.

How We Developed a Morning Bible Reading Time with our Family

Make Your Family Time Count (Win $50 to spend at Red Rock Traditions!)

As one by one my boys are graduating and leaving home, it has become glaringly clear to me that while most days are crazy and hectic and loud and busy – there are really only a few things in life that actually matter.

The problem? Sometimes the crazy and hectic and loud and busy take over, and all the things we “hope to do with our family some day” never happen. We think we’ll get around to it “when life settles down” or “after I get through this one thing.”

Life doesn’t slow down, there will never be more time, and what we all need to realize is this: If we want good for our family, we need to prioritize it, pray for clarity, and take the next step toward it.

Family prayer time? It doesn’t happen if we don’t schedule it in. Time to read our Bible as a family (or as an individual)? It doesn’t happen if we aren’t intentional. Serving together as a family? It gets tossed by the wayside if you don’t make a plan and execute it. Choosing good in any form? It’s too easy to let the schedule dictate the hours of our day.

I encourage you today (not tomorrow…today) to write down goals you have for your family. What does God want for your tribe? How can you make that happen? The truth is that if God wants it for you, He will provide the time and energy for you to make it happen. It’s as simple as that.

Regarding all things good for our family – and this looks different for each of us! – it can be as simple as sitting around the living room on pillows and bean bags talking about God’s goodness and praying together. But sometimes having something tangible in your home can make a huge difference in helping us carry out a plan or achieve a goal.

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Red Rock Traditions is a company that has created many fantastic items for families who want to be intentional about character training and time together. I pulled out a few of my favorites to show you, but I really encourage you to look through the catalog and see what fits your family’s needs best!

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My very favorite is this Thankful Hearts/Loving Hearts Guest Book! You can use it to fill with things your family is thankful for, but we got one and we’re going to use it for hospitality! Each time we have a guest, they will sign a wooden heart and slide it into the frame. It will hang on our wall as a loving reminder of all who have blessed our home. We will see their names and pray for them. This will soon be filled with great memories!

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I’d love to hear some of the ways your family has chosen to be intentional about your time together. Do you block out family prayer time? Do you set aside time to read the Bible together? What provides you with the best conversation time? How do you schedule this in with busy schedules?

A Blessing for Your Family

Johanna, a Direct Sales Leader with Red Rock Traditions, is giving away a $50 gift certificate for one of you to spend on these fantastic family items! Here’s how this will work:

  • Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win.
  • Look through the Red Rock Traditions catalog and leave a comment here sharing a favorite product you found for your family. This will get you a second entry in the giveaway!
  • Anyone who places an order before the end of June will receive Red Rock Bucks!

For every $25 purchase you will get $5 Red Rock Bucks for your next purchase. For every $75 purchase, you will get $10 Red Rock Bucks for your next purchase. And for every purchase over $150 you will get $20 Red Rock Bucks for your next purchase.

I’ll select a random winner for the $50 gift card on Tuesday, June 27.

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The Simple Meals Our Family Has Been Eating This Week, Part 2

I’m assuming you downloaded your FREE Simple Meals Planning Packet this week? It is free, after all. Go get yours!

I posted earlier this week about how I’ve been using this week’s Simple Meals menu to easily get food on the table for my family. As it turns out, I used half the plan last week and am finishing it up this week. (Perks of being the one who creates the menu plans – I got to start using it ahead of time!) If you missed it, check out this post which shares pictures of the first few meals in the plan.

Here we go with Days 5 and 6 of following the Simple Meals plan!

Day 5: Crock Pot NightSimple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast

To kick-start a new week, on Sunday night, right before I headed to bed, I put together the Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast. For the record, if you forget to start that recipe at night before bed (because at the end of the day, some of us who shall remain nameless might be too tired to remember to execute good plans like this), you can always start it early in the morning to have it ready in the evening in time for dinner.

I was very proud of myself for remembering to start the roast on Sunday night, and woke up the next morning to the delicious smell of our lunch. I turned the crock pot to “keep warm” setting and at lunch time I stir-fried some veggies to go with our meal. (We have been having our main meals at lunchtime lately because it’s working better with our busy evening activities schedule.)

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I got this fun note from Susan last week about the Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast recipe and wanted to share!

Thank you so much for sharing this common recipe. I mean, who hasn’t already made a roast in the crockpot before? But your tips were amazing. And I didn’t know I could put it in the crock without first browning it in a pan (this always felt like so much trouble, and would discourage me from making this dish when I was in a hurry). And Frozen!  Are you kidding me? Well – I did it – just like you suggested. Cooked on low for 12 hours, and it was the best tasting, most tender roast beef I’ve ever made. Oh, and I cooked carrots in the bottom, and their flavor was wonderful. Thank you again.

Fun, huh? Thanks, Susan. This is what Simple Meals is all about!

Day 6: No Trouble NightSimple Pizza Chicken Bake

The final meal on this week’s Simple Meals menu was Simple Pizza Chicken Bake. I could go on and on about how easy this recipe is to make and how very delicious it is to eat. I served it with green beans and tossed salad, so as always, this went on the table very quickly.

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Hopefully you enjoyed the free Simple Meals Planning Packet!

I’d love all of you to take advantage of the Simple Meals Subscription offer! Just think. A complete menu plan and grocery list will land in your inbox every single week, along with a bunch of bonus tips and recipes. Your small investment (which we promise to make very, very worth it) will save you so much time, energy, and money every week! You won’t have to think about what to cook. Bliss. And the meal suggestions are incredibly simple, yet detailed to make everything easy for you.

Don’t forget there’s a $10 off coupon waiting for you here, plus over $60 worth of freebies that are yours after your purchase. That means you get more in freebies than the cost of your entire yearly subscription. Score!

Simple Meals is a ridiculously good offer. (We made it super affordable for all! Less than $1 per week!) Can’t wait to have you join us!

Join Simple Meals Here.

Today I Give a FREE New Simple Meals Plan to Everyone!

This week is going to be a fun one, and here’s why:

I’m giving everyone this week’s Simple Meals plan for FREE!

(Also, I’m going to blog this week about how I’m using the plan. Stay tuned!)

Why am I giving this week’s plan to you? Simple. I want you to see how great it is.

My biggest goal with Simple Meals is to help you save money, time, and energy so you can enjoy spending more time with your family. Did you catch that? It’s not just about spending more time with your family. It’s to help you ENJOY spending that time with your family.

Sometimes we get to the end of the day and we’re so exhausted that even if there is time to spend, we’re too tired to enjoy it. Been there, done that? Me too.

Each week Simple Meals plans show up in your inbox as if to say, “Here you go. Your thinking, planning, and list making have been done. Also, here are some bonus recipes and time-saving tips. You will love this week’s recipes. Now go enjoy your family.”

I'm giving everyone this week's Simple Meals plan for FREE!

I’m giving you all this week’s Simple Meals Planning Packet because want everyone to see why being a part of Simple Meals is worth it! Also, I love you and it’s fun to give you free stuff. :)

So here you go.

Download this week’s Simple Meals Planning Packet.

I’ve been cooking with this particular plan and taking pictures to show you during the next few days to detail how this plan works for our family. I don’t know what I would do without it, seeing as in the past eight nights in a row, we have been on the run – from meetings to Bible studies to basketball games to church activities. Plus, we spent a day helping our disabled friend move across town, I had appointments out of town one day, and our church hosted 150 kids for a youth rally all weekend, 13 of which stayed in our home for two nights.

This mama needs Simple Meals. (and a nap.)

The days with our children at home are long, but the years are short. I’m staring that reality straight in the face as my kids so suddenly have been turning into men, one right after the other. I want to enjoy putting food on the table for them, but more than that, I want to enjoy laughing at their jokes and listening/watching/cheering/praying for their work and activities and life journeys.

No matter your season in life, whether you have little bitties who require a lot of attention and care, or you have big kids you’re trying to keep up with, or you work full time, or you homeschool, or you are involved with ministries, or all of the above and more than the above – let’s do what we can to enjoy what God has given us. I believe much of this begins with keep our real food meals as simple as possible.

And that, my friends, is why I created Simple Meals.

Try it for free this week! Utilize it for YOUR specific family’s needs. That’s one of the best features of Simple Meals. The planning is done, but you can quickly organize it to suit your family’s needs for each week.

Download this week’s Simple Meals Planning Packet.

Today I’m also giving away a One Year Simple Meals Subscription!

Sign up to win in the Rafflecopter below. I’ll draw a random winner on Wednesday, February 8. Watch for an email sharing who the winner is!

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