Wednesday, July 29, 2015

CC Cycle-at-a-Glance Sheets

Seeing the big picture not only helps me to review memory work with my children, but it also assists me in planning for each cycle. Because I recently finished these up for all three cycles of the Classical Conversations Foundations program, I wanted to share them here in case others would like to see - at a glance - the general topics of each cycle on a single page.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Drawing the World Free-Hand: Major Circles of Latitude

This article, originally written in July 2014, has been republished from the archives. 

Our family has been working on map-drawing for a couple of years now based on suggestions by Leigh Bortins in her book about classical education at the elementary-age, The Core. (But rest assured we've still got quite a ways to go…)

Before I get into how we have arrived at our current point in map-drawing, I wanted to share the recommendations of much more experienced and knowledgeable folks (namely Leigh Bortins, founder of Classical Conversations). We've been reading through The Core this summer, and rather than just substitute our family's methods for what a more experienced classical educator would say, I desperately request that you read Chapter 7, the "Geography" chapter.

Some Background
When we were last in Cycle 3 of Classical Conversations, our family only traced the US Map, and our oldest (as a 7-year-old) learned to draw in the U.S. physical features free-hand from memory. We first focused on the world map and started using "Continental Blobbing" during Cycle 1. The reason I bring up drawing the world right now is because we are currently reading The Core which recommends starting with learning to draw The Great Circles. In fact, The Core recommends the following for mastering the world map by 8th grade:

"Once a week draw and label these maps. Another time each week, review the maps the students drew while younger.

[Kindergarten: The Great Circles & world blob map]
First Grade: Australia
Second Grade: South America
Third Grade: Africa
Fourth Grade: North America
Fifth Grade: Europe
Sixth Grade: Asia
Seventh Grade: World Map
Eighth Grade: Indonesia and Antarctica" (p. 160-162)

"For parents and teachers who are worried because their children are older, try one continent per semester. If you are an adult or high school student, try drawing a continent for two weeks each and you'll be done in a semester." (p. 162)

"This could take a month of half-hour daily lessons for a teenager, or seven years of weekly lessons if the child starts as a five-year-old. The final goal is to draw the world by heart (from memory) with at least two hundred features accurately labeled." (p. 160)

For Classical Conversations parents, the simplest method is to trace the maps we are currently working on in Foundations; your child will learn quite a bit just by tracing the current cycle's maps. I'd recommend tracing the USA (or the maps for whichever cycle we are on), eventually leading up to drawing it free-hand. If/when you feel comfortable with it, you can introduce blob mapping to your children this year (once per week?), as it is much simpler than you'd think, especially if you use the templates provided in our continental blob map packet. If it is currently too overwhelming to include map-drawing in your school day, just wait and add in map practice when you are ready. Note:  If you are a Classical Conversations parent, realize that your children will learn to draw the world free-hand in Challenge A, even if they have no mapping practice before then. (But it will help tremendously if you start practicing before then.)

The Great Circles
In The Core, the recommended method of learning the Great Circles is to line up a piece of paper with an atlas and extend the lines across the paper. Likewise, the recommended method of memorizing the world map is to look at an atlas and transpose each continent onto a piece of paper. The Core contains detailed instructions on how to draw the Great Circles and add the continents to it. It also includes a simple plan to master drawing the world by heart with "at least two hundred features accurately labeled" by the time your child enters high school.

"I know that visualizing these instructions may be hard without a video. That's why we need to restore classical education. Thinking about hard things like lines on maps that aren't exactly where you thought they'd be throws us off balance." (page 154)

I was one of those people who had trouble visualizing the instructions in The Core.  In the end, our family used baby steps in map-drawing because it was the only way I knew how to start.

Our family's baby steps to map-drawing:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Stick and the Sand and Your Essentials Guide

I am not an expert. And I am not an Essentials tutor. I'm just a mom.

This year marks Stephen's fourth year in Essentials (which means this will also be my fourth year in Essentials - because we started in 3rd grade, back when Essentials was recommended for 3rd-6th grade). I have thought so much about words of wisdom I could offer to others who have asked, but it really has all boiled down to just this. The most significant thing I've learned over the past three years to make Essentials easier for you and your child is...

Read your Essentials Guide.

Simple, right?  But… let me be honest. I only read a small portion of the Essentials Guide our first year.    I came up with my own way of wrestling with scheduling, my own way of scaling down assignments, my own way of figuring out how the layering process was supposed to work. I could have saved myself the trial-and-error method of learning by just reading the Essentials Guide. Quite possibly, no one else in the world has made this same error. Surely, no one out there is as hardheaded as I am?

If you are new to Essentials, here I offer a reading plan to tackle before your first week of Essentials. This should not take more than one evening - maybe just an hour or two of your time. And then you can revisit this again after your community's Essentials class has started because all things seem to click better when you're in the midst of it.

So, grab a highlighter and/or pencil, and let's get started.

Take a quick trip through your Essentials Guide
Page numbers are for the newest 4th edition revised. The old 4th edition page numbers are in parentheses.

But first:  Do you need to understand all of what you're reading before you start Essentials? NO! But reading these pages will help you to grasp what this huge, intimidating guide is all about; it will provide a context and hopefully dissolve any apprehension you're feeling as you approach your first week of Essentials.  

Read Pages 1-25 (1-23).  This will not only give you an overview of the Essentials program along with some great encouragement starting out, it will also provide you with a proposed plan and schedule for the English Grammar portion of Essentials (Essentials of the English Language, or EEL), and a proposed plan and schedule for the IEW writing assignment portion of Essentials. Would you believe the schedule I came up with using my trial-and-error method is almost exactly the same as the one already listed on the Week-at-a-Glance sheet on page 24 (22)?  *sigh*  

If you read nothing else in this section, please be sure to read page 25 (23), How Essentials is Like Monopoly, which explains the three-tour approach of Essentials. (But, seriously, read the whole thing!)  Note: The three-tour approach refers to three years of Essentials.  

"Thirty minutes a day of practice together on one chart and one sentence will produce great results: children who know grammar and love learning." (page 25 (23), EEL Guide)  Isn't this what we want - not just simplicity, but also children who love learning?

Read Page 399 (397).  This page will give you an overview of how to practice writing out charts each week.  The only difference I would mention is that it is now encouraged to use a blank sheet of paper for charts instead of the fill-in-the-blank charts in the guide. So.. I'm not sure that page protectors are even needed. We are using a spiral notebook full of blank ruled paper for chart practice this year… just a stick (pencil) and the sand (paper).

Read Page 434 (432).  This explains the Task Analysis you will begin during Week 3. It fully explains the three-tour approach intended for the six analytical tasks and how to expand upon them as your child enters the second and third tours of Essentials. Honestly, because I did not realize the purpose behind the task analysis (which is having a dialectic discussion with your child), I did not optimize the time we spent during our first year or two of Essentials. We were more focused on getting-it-done-so-we-could-check-the-box than we were on developing our questioning and thinking skills.

Read (or at least skim) Pages 51-56 (49-54).  This explains in great detail the Analytical Tasks you will use for sentences starting in Week 3. Later, you will add in the remaining tasks as identified on pages 57-63 (55-61). Place a paper clip on these pages so that you can easily refer back to them as many times as needed.  It is a very important part of your Essentials Guide!

Read (or at least skim) Pages 457-464 (455-462). Although the Essentials program assumes that basic punctuation and capitalization rules are taught at home (not in class), the EEL Guide provides the opportunity to teach these concepts using conversation between teacher and student through editing exercises. This chapter gives an overview of punctuation, capitalization, and spelling and provides insight into each of these aspects of English grammar. It also explains how to use the EEL Guide for spelling instruction should you choose to use this part of the guide instead of using a different spelling program at home.

My last note about reading your Essentials Guide would be to read each week's lesson before Essentials class. You can make notes of things you don't understand so that you can best utilize the time with your Essentials tutor. This program is meant to be a layering process, so reading the lesson ahead of time will give you another layer of learning that you would not otherwise have!

Now… a few things that help me to stay organized. 

First, speak with your tutor about how to organize and scale back if needed. They are there to help you!

Our Essentials Guide notebook is still organized like I listed in our Preparing for Essentials post. I think our Essentials tutor asked us to do this not only to help us find things easily, but also to get us acquainted with our Essentials Guide before we came to class. But… I no longer think it's necessary to have a student binder. This could be because we're on our fourth time through the program, but I think it's because I now realize that all we really need is a stick and the sand (and our Essentials Guide) to learn the grammar.

I have an extra copy of page 20 (18), EEL Scope and Sequence Chart for quick reference. This helps us to ensure we are focusing on the correct information each week. It's just a great at-a-glance page! (I also have an extra copy of pages 433-434, Weekly Practice Sentences for quick reference.)

My Personal This-Worked-for-Us Tips

You master the curriculum. Do not let it master you. Adjust things as necessary for you, for your student, for your family, for your life, for whatever circumstances you may be facing. [Sometimes this means missing a writing assignment, or practicing certain charts on a different week, or using abbreviations on almost everything, or doing almost all of your Essentials work as an oral recitation, or typing the writing assignments for your child as he dictates...]

Take the time to watch the IEW TWSS (Teaching Writing: Structure and Style) DVD Seminar (ask your Essentials tutor about it!). Andrew Pudewa is so down-to-earth. These videos gave me so much encouragement just to know that my son was a normal boy with a normal aversion to writing - and that we could still tackle the assignments even though he would rather build forts all day.

During Week 9, when you start practicing the Verb Anatomy chart - and if you are using the charts in the EEL Guide (instead of a blank sheet of paper) - I found that it was much easier to fit the information on the "advanced" verb chart FF. It's the same thing but in a 2-page format. By the way, there's a lot of great information in the advanced verb charts (Chart BB, for example), that you may want to read during Week 9 (or when you get a chance to do so during subsequent weeks).

One thing that helped us with task analysis (starting in Week 3) was to do an oral Question Confirmation Drill on simple sentences. We started with question confirmation on subject-verb sentences and practiced those until they were mastered. Then we added direct objects, etc. until we had the entire set of questions memorized. You can download a sample Question Confirmation Drill here.

Listed below are some past posts I've written about Essentials, but my best piece of advice, before reading any of the following, is to read your Essentials Guide.  And… don't be overwhelmed or apprehensive about what is in store for the coming year(s)! Essentials is a great program, you don't have to do it all (actually, if it's your first year, you are expected to scale back significantly; you will be back through this exact same stuff two more times!), and your Essentials grammar lessons should take no longer than 30 minutes. Not only that, your tutor will show you how to do it! [That was easy!]

*** I've decided that a student notebook is no longer necessary, but maybe it was necessary for me to stay organized during previous years??  This year, I did not feel like making copies of anything, so I didn't. I just bought a spiral notebook with three sections for Chart practice, Sentence Task Analysis, and IEW Key-word-outlines and rough drafts. So, we're cranking up this year with just a stick, the sand, and our Essentials Guide.

Let me know if you have questions!  I know a host of great Essentials tutors I can ask!  :)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Notebooking on a Shoestring & Scheduling Simplified

As we prepare for a new school year, can I take a moment to share what I've not been doing? (Actually, there's a lot I've not been doing...)

I’ve not been thinking much about paper, printables, and organization of papers and printables. I'm afraid I just can't bring myself to battle the paper wars in preparation for a new school year. (To be honest, I still have unused printables from Cycle 2 stored in boxes sitting in the closet.) 

While printables can be a great tool for motivating our children, there’s been a gradual decrease in the use of printables in our home. I can't seem to get my thoughts together in advance enough to remember to print out new notebooking pages, much less organize them.  Herein lies that important homeschooling concept of simpler is better.  This whole process of shedding unnecessities will likely take a lifetime, but I am learning.

Regardless of whether or not I've created them, it’s not necessary to have a printable for everything (or for anything, really). In fact, a few spiral or composition notebooks can do the job of half-a-hundred thousand printables. It costs a lot less, too. (BUT... if you still enjoy using printables or worksheets, that is a-okay! It's a great tool! You can use what you and your children enjoy! This post is just to show you another way if you are seeking another way that makes planning and preparation a tad bit easier for our family.)

Notebooking Simplified

Seven Subjects (plus or minus a few).
Seven Spiral or Composition Notebooks (or just one or two).
Some blank paper or tracing paper (for geography and fine arts).

Note: There are many other (and better?) ways to use notebooks. This is just one example of how notebooks can simplify homeschooling. We don't notebook through all the subjects in this manner, but we wanted to show how you could if you desired to do so. We practice mapmaking on a consistent basis and use notebooks for daily Essentials work; on a weekly basis we will usually complete a history, science, and/or nature study page. For the other subjects, we use whiteboards or index-card flashcards to practice memory work.

History, Bible, and Science. Creating a notebook page for Bible, history, or science might include...
  • Simply copying memory work verbatim
  • Copying information related to the memory work (from a book like Story of the World or The Mystery of History or Pages of History)
  • Writing a paragraph from a Key Word Outline (as we do in IEW)
  • Writing a written narration from the historical fiction or other reading that your family is doing
  • Recording a science experiment or nature study observation
...or any number of other relevant writing. Our children enjoy drawing something related to the history or science memory work (or even drawing a cartoon of the memory work), so we use a spiral notebook that has an illustration area at the top. The one pictured below is the former version of the Classical Conversations Sketch Notebook, which has been replaced by the Nature Sketch Journal, which may be purchased from ClassicalConversationsBooks. You can also find several types of Mead Composition books on Amazon. (Click here for a wide-ruled notebook with illustration section at the top of each page. Click here for a college-ruled notebook with graph section at the top.)

Geography. With geography, we rotate through the following tasks: Tracing, blob mapping, and freehand drawing with major circles of latitude. It is also the one subject where the printable has been extremely valuable for us. (We have actually laminated our blob mapping templates so that it's not something we have to print over and over. No laminator? Page protectors function in much the same way.)

For more details on each of these, visit Blob Mapping and Drawing the World Free-Hand.

Latin & English Grammar.  Instead of copying the charts and sentence task analysis sheets from the Essentials notebook, we use a spiral notebook (for hard copies) or whiteboard (for extra practice). So. much. easier.  English Grammar memory work and Latin noun & verb endings lend themselves to whiteboard practice. In fact, whiteboards are the tool we normally use to practice these subjects, but below is an example of how you might notebook 'em. 

With more advanced students, you can start applying Latin noun or verb endings to various Latin stems.  

Math. Math fact practice in our home involves flashcards, card games, math drills (as provided in our math curriculum), and writing of math facts. When we get to unit conversions, geometry, and algebraic laws, it is still helpful to simply write and draw what it means. (Example: For liquid equivalents, it's helpful to draw out Gallon Man.)

Timeline. This takes just a little bit of forethought because your child has to choose a scale for the timeline. As I mentioned in our Accordion Timeline Notebooking post, you will likely want to adjust your timeline increments to allow for more events as you approach the present day.

That's seven (or eight) subjects, and those seven (or eight) subjects constitute our normal daily memory work. However, those are not the only subjects for which we use this simple technique of writing-on-paper. For instance, there's art and composer study. While it can be useful to have a printable with staff lines for music theory study, or a notebook page with a composer's portrait or an artist's work (especially if you don't have the artwork available in another form), you can still use plain paper to write about an artist's biography or to trace an artist's work. In listening to classical music, our children simply draw what they hear on a blank sheet of paper as we talk about instrumentation and dynamics.

We also have the other language arts (literature, vocabulary, and spelling), all of which can be included in the same notebook. In fact, keeping a literature notebook is a great way to keep up with characters, setting, quotes, and other elements of a story.

Sometimes, our son's spelling and dictation assignments look like this:

or this:

It's always amazing to me what they come up with when they are given a blank sheet of paper and a pencil!

Finally, for our kindergartner last year, "other language arts" was simply some sort of copywork. I only include this to show how easy it is to incorporate copywork and notebooking into your school activities even with young children. For more about copywork, dictation, and note booking, visit Copywork, Dictation, Narration & Observation: A Beginner's Guide.

Using a Notebook for Daily Tasks

Then there's the very act of writing down the student's daily assignments, which can be done on a spiral index card notebook. In preparation for a new day, I usually plan out the next day's activities for each of my children. Using a few minutes the night before to plan out the following day falls in line with the idea of starting your day in the evening. ("The evening and the morning were the first day." Genesis 1:5)

Maybe it's because I'm not a morning person, but it definitely helps me to have everything in place when we wake up first thing in the morning. The boys know what it is expected of them and can work through the checklist. I don't have to think so early before I've had my first pot of coffee, and no questions are asked about when they will be finished. (The above is an example because I just now decided to start using index cards for this instead of writing it down on the whiteboard each night.)

Scheduling Notebooking

As far as notebooking is concerned, you don’t need to do every subject every day! (In fact, I would highly recommend not doing every subject every day!) Just cycle through them in a way that allows you to review the subjects. As an example for the schedulers...

As an example for the loopers...

The loop schedule allows you to cycle through the tasks you'd like to do without worrying about totally missing out on Fine Arts Friday, for example. If you don't get around to fine arts on Friday, just do it on Monday. Even though I have plans scheduled into our planner, we often fall "behind schedule" because of things like illness, drama rehearsals, field trips, or Distractible Mom Syndrome. In this case, we just pick up where we left off the next day and don't worry about not getting it finished on a particular day. I haven't yet figured out how to reflect this in our planner. (Any ideas? Leave a comment!) If this loop scheduling thing is of interest to you, be sure to go and watch this webinar which explains the concept in greater detail!

Total notebooking time usually takes less than 30 minutes for our family. You can do two or three subjects in a day, or just one. It just depends on what fits your family's homeschooling rhythm.

So there you have it.
No costly subscriptions.
No expensive toner or printer cartridges.
No remembering to print something out.
No spending a day (or days) printing, filing, and organizing weeks of printables.

Just pencil and paper.

You know, I might have saved our family quite a few toner cartridges if I had only recognized the beauty in simplifying our notebooking earlier in our homeschooling journey...

Other related posts:
Our Classical Notebook (for those who still would like notebooking pages, here are some free ones!)
Free Handwriting Resources and Workbook (which includes instructions on how to make your own note booking pages, and a link to download a free handwriting book for connecting letters, which we used between Prescripts Level 1 and 2)
Copywork, Dictation, Narration & Observation: A Beginner's Guide
Continental Blob Maps

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Friday, June 19, 2015

A Humbling Reality Check

This article has been republished from the archives (original article written August 2013). Sometimes... I just have to remind myself of these things.

"Comparison is the death of contentment." 

Before I write any more posts about what we do (or plan to do) as a family, it is ultra-important to me that anyone who reads this blog knows the truth of our reality.  [You probably remember that I'm not very good at cooking and cleaning? Yes, I'm much better at making big messes and ordering pizzas.  But I am trying very hard right now to actually cook supper on a regular basis. I still use a microwave way too much, but my excuse is that I'm still in the grammar stage.]

Here's my disclaimer (one of them, anyway):  I rave about certain things because we absolutely love them, but that does not mean that you should love them, too.  I'm just a curriculum addict, especially when it comes to unit studies. We just like 'em a lot.

But as a classical educator all you need is the 4Rs at the grammar stage:
  1. Reading
  2. wRiting
  3. aRithmetic
  4. Recitation
I guess you could say the rest is just fluff.

What do I mean?  Well, last year... was a humbling experience.  At the beginning of the year, I had grandiose plans, but then life happened.  Unfortunately, we started out the year over-involved in soccer, 4-H, cubscouts, piano lessons, two full-day tutorials, Essentials, Titus 2, and other things I can't even remember right now.  We were already down to only 2-3 days of school-at-home per week because of our busy schedule.

And then my ophthalmologist said I should have eye surgery after struggling with Map Dot Dystrophy for a year-and-a-half.  [For those wondering what Map Dot Dystrophy is, the surface of my eyes would not stay attached to the basement membrane - the corneas would tear off repeatedly resulting in what I'd call very-much-pain.]

So... for about two months we lost another day per week as we scheduled multiple pre-op appointments in preparation for the removal of the surface layers of both eyes.  [For those in Essentials, imagine doing your entire week's worth of Essentials assignments in just 1-2 days. every. single. week.  aack!]

Needless to say, all the extra fluff fell by the wayside. All my grandiose plans were ON HOLD.  We reverted to:  Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic and Recitation.  We spent a lot of time on Recitation just by listening to our memory work CD in the car, since we were driving several hours per week.

The surgery on my eyes put me out many days before surgery... and after surgery.  And there was an extended period of recovery time that I struggled to even read large print in a book.  I had to ask our oldest son to take over the books I normally read aloud due to the strain.  It took me much longer than expected to recover.  I felt like I would never be able to see normally again - and that my eyes would always burn, that my tear film would never re-establish itself, and that my eyes would continue to dry out constantly.  [But fast-forward 6 months, and God has completely healed me - not only from Map Dot Dystrophy, but I also now have 20/20 vision for the first time in almost 30 years! Friends, this has been an amazing journey!]

After the initial recovery, we had other stuff:  an unexpected death in the family, extra out-of-town trips that threw our school schedule off even more, just a bunch of stuff.

In short, we overbooked ourselves and then life overbooked us even more.

Essentials was the only thing we finished each week, but it was not without MUCH stress and frustration.  (I do not recommend trying to cram your at-home Essentials assignments into 3 or less days per week. Especially if you have a perfectionist child who wants to do everything his tutor mentioned.)  We never even started our Latin curriculum last year. Although we did our math assignments, we didn't actually finish our math books last year. As far as unit studies or other activities, we only did one week's worth of "digging deeper" when we studied the atmosphere.  Just one week.

This entire experience led me to realize that at the grammar stage, we are emphasizing skills, not subjects.

I was always a bit confused about this, thinking that CC spanned (or surveyed) such a large amount of history but then argued that we should master - not survey - subjects.  Huh? It seemed contradictory to me.

Last year when life interrupted, we simply emphasized skills, not subjects.  We didn't "dig in deeper" but fell back to the 4Rs.  And despite our year of setbacks, our children still learned an amazing amount of information.  They really mastered it... without the digging-in-deeper stuff.  In fact, they mastered more than they ever did before.  Later, it occurred to me that when we dig deeper into each and every week's memory work at the grammar stage, perhaps we are neglecting the mastery of the material to pursue the surveying of the material?

Lo and behold, I discovered that our children will thrive if we simply memorize and recite at this stage.  They don't have to understand each and every thing we ask them to recite.  That will come later.  It will come up when we come across it in our normal reading.  It will come up in some of the most unexpected places and at the most unexpected times.  And it will be built upon with more formal understanding, discussion, and debate when our children embark on their journey through Challenge.

I share this just to let you know, if you see our lists of links, or you see our reading plans, or you see our curriculum choices, or you see our notebook, or you see our obsession with Homeschool in the Woods, and you think, "Whoa!  This woman is crazy!" Well... of course I am.  You all know that.

But no matter what we plan to do, we fall back onto what is necessary.  That is the reality. [Not the short glimpses you see in a post of how a certain activity went.  It's imperative that you know that not every day is like that around here.  Some days I am in survival mode.  In fact, some days I have even been too blind to take care of myself, much less my own family.]

So can I say it just one more time?

For those in Classical Conversations, you do not need anything besides:
  • A Bible (No fancy curriculum needed.  Just read the scriptures together.)
  • The Foundations Guide
  • A Tin Whistle
  • If possible, the Classical Acts & Facts History Timeline Cards. [If your children ask who, what, when, where, how or why about Charlemagne, take out the timeline card and read it together!]
  • A math program (We use Saxon, but that's another long story....)
  • A language arts program (until your children are old enough for Essentials).  We use a spelling program that teaches phonics, and then we teach sentence structure, punctuation, parts of speech, etc. via copywork and dictation. Our family no longer uses a formal English Grammar program before Essentials. We found it's not necessary for our family.  
  • A library card.  Your book selections need not even match up with your history or science memory work.  Just read anything that your children enjoy!
  • Paper and pencil
I'll mention now what I learned last year, mainly as a reminder to myself.  Give yourself some wiggle room (don't cram your schedule too full!).  Make your plans and goals but don't hold yourself or your family to hard-set expectations. Choose enjoying your children over trying to make everything fun.  Don't compare yourself to another. Do what's best for your family, your teaching style, and your circumstances (no matter what you see someone else doing).  And, most of all, remain flexible [and be still] as you trust the Lord in all things.

Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it's the Lord's purpose that prevails.  Proverbs 19:21
[His] love... reaches to the heavens, [His] faithfulness to the skies.  (Psalm 36:5)

Past thoughts and ramblings:
Are you struggling with feelings of failure?  Read When Failure Becomes Success
Are you frustrated with planning?  Read Improving Our Vision
Are you struggling with balancing life?  Read A Great Balancing Act
Do you harbor feelings of fear? [Are you finding it difficult to trust God?]  Read I was Scared. Really Scared. or From the Heart or Down to the River
Do you feel discouraged?  Read In Times of Discouragement

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, let me know if you'd like me to pray for you! I really will!

Finally, to be honest, I feel like this post is redundant (yet not). I feel like a broken record, but for some reason I am compelled to mention these things one last time, just to make sure.  (Of what?  I don't really know.)  My wordy writing is mediocre and full of errors, but God sometimes uses even a "cracked pot" like me to touch another's heart.  So... even though deep down I fear criticism, it's worth it to put myself out there if just one person is encouraged by this newest set of ramblings.  As always, thank you for reading.

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