A Homeschool Update: Fall 2013

We've officially completed term one and moved on to term two.
I am both loving Ambleside and feeling absolutely overwhelmed by it.
These first 12 weeks have been a learning curve for both Piper and I.
There have been days that have been rich and beautiful and exactly what I want our homeschool to be.
There have been other days where I've wanted to throw in the towel and switch curriculum.
Thankfully, I am far too frugal to do that so we have plugged away day in and day out.
And I really think it will be worth it.

I should also add that we have continued to love Handwriting Without Tears.
Piper is printing things left, right and center and feeling very confident.
Using the Treadwell Primer for reading has turned out wonderfully despite my panic attacks over not having a full reading curriculum with all the bells and whistles this year.
Although we do deal with phonics as we came upon various words in the primer, I felt following something systematically would help me feel confident we were staying on track.

MEP math has been amazing!
I still cannot believe it is free!
Piper has totally taken off with this program and LOVES doing math.
(Until we start a new concept. Then she despises it until that concept clicks. Then she loves it again...)

Home Art Studio has been such a blessing.
It is welcomed every other Monday with much excitement!
I love seeing the end product especially since I have nothing to do with it! 
Piper follows the instructions herself and has created some really sweet art!

We have stayed pretty faithful to our artist and composer studies.
All of us really enjoy our tea times together listening to classical music and discussing a piece of art.
I am stunned by how involved the girls are in these discussions.

On the other hand, I have been less consistent with nature study and French lessons. 
Considering how many other things we do in a week, I try not to be too hard on myself for slacking off in a couple of areas but I'm determined to improve.
I think it will help to schedule specific studies for our nature study day and to keep our French cd in the van.
They memorize oodles of songs that we play while driving around so I'm certain French songs will be no different!
My other goals are to pre-read everything and to be better at encouraging narration as well as interesting and thoughtful conversation afterwards.
I also plan to get our timeline going this term.
It's up!
Now I just need to get on the ball with adding to it as we read various history selections!

Both Piper and Taitum have been doing swimming lessons this fall.
They have loved it so much that I decided to allow them to do a second round of lessons.
Taitum completed her fall term dance class.
As usual, we were able to watch her on the last day of class.
It is so sweet to watch her move around, twirling and skipping and dancing to her heart's content!
Piper has been attending piano lessons.
We are looking forward to her first recital in a few weeks.

We have faithfully been attending our homeschool co-op every Friday.
This is the excitement of the week!
Taitum and Renly take part in a littles group where they sing songs, learn colors and play with other little ones.
Piper has enjoyed learning wilderness survival (the girl was building shelters, starting fires and using a compass!) and is now doing an art block where she has had a chance to try felting and chalk pastels, among other things!

I had intended to use the book Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready with Tait.
However, it just didn't work very well for us.
I need more of a daily schedule to stay on track so instead I started using God's Little Explorers Preschool curriculum.
It provides a 4 day schedule which includes simple yet enjoyable suggestions that are perfect for a preschooler and do-able for me!
Taitum loves having her own school time and is learning so much!
Piper and Renly often join us as well and so it becomes a family affair!
It is so nice to see them learning together!

Now we are looking forward to Christmas and all the preparation that goes with it!
We will continue with our usual school schedule but I am hoping to do a few extra Christmas related things each week.
I am debating doing Jesse Tree ornaments this year (as opposed to the paper ones they have colored in the past).
However I'm afraid it will be too much of a commitment since it would involve making 25 different ornaments!
I am really good at biting off more than I can chew!
So we may just stick with our usual Jesse Tree and do a few crafts as part of Truth in the Tinsel
Also, our homeschool group is doing a couple Christmas Around the World days which I am really looking forward to!

I know this was a long post!
But if you've made it this far thank you for taking the time to see what we've up to!
As I'm sure you can see, our days are busy and full and as a result my blogging has been at a minimum!
I hope a little update here and there will suffice!
I truly appreciate all your prayers, kind words and encouragement!

So to conclude, I'll leave you with a poem by Piper:


Taitum and Piper jump in the leaves
Inside for cocoa
Back outside to rake the leaves
Go for a walk
Sit by the fire

The End

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Worth Remembering

This morning was filled with the hustle and bustle of layering children with warm clothes and digging out snowsuits and mittens and hats.
We got them all suited up and out the door.
As Matt buckled them in, I scurried around collecting poppies and diapers and a camera.
We drove to a nearby Tim Hortons to purchase coffee and hot chocolate.
While waiting in the drive thru line, we decided one child had likely discarded their mittens in the house before getting in the van since they were no where to be seen.
So after collecting our hot drinks, we turned around and headed back home.
Half way there, the little one waved her rediscovered mittens for all to see.
Grumble, sigh.
Turning again, we headed downtown to meet up with my Dad for the Remembrance Day ceremony.

Everyone toppled out of the van, having arrived at our destination.
Coats were zipped and hats secured.
All the while, little voices begged for the awaiting hot chocolate.
Finally, we were all ready.
We followed the crowds to the cenotaph and found a spot where the kids could see the marching bands and soldiers when they passed by.
Hot chocolate spilled down coats.
Hats were pulled off and then asked to be put back on.
One child tired of standing and laid down on the pavement.
(Only to be told to stand back up. Now.)
Another whined about being in the stroller.
Still another asked to PLEASE be allowed to sit in the stroller.
As siblings do, each took a turn pestering and causing the other to squeal, annoyed and impatient.
When the guns began to fire, there were complaints that it was too loud or too scary.
They talked through the prayers and were silent for the songs.
Noses were wiped with mittened hands.
We shushed and scolded and instructed and explained.
And all the while we were cold.
A bit bored.
A lot impatient.

Remembering is hard.
It's uncomfortable.
And if you're a parent, it's a lot of work.

I was thinking about this after we'd returned home, our bellies full and our bodies warm.
How easy it would have been to stay home and avoid the hassle.
To laze around in our jammies all day and do nothing with our day off.
But I think too of those we are remembering.
The men and women who gave their lives on the battlefield.
Those who returned, forever changed and marked by all they saw and experienced.
Many who still serve our country today, leaving family and loved ones for long periods of time.
The families who wait and pray and do life without that one they love.
For them it was and is hard and uncomfortable and a lot work.
Incomparably so.

As I think about this, our morning doesn't seem so bad.
We're instilling in our kids the reality that sometimes you do things, not because it's fun or easy, but because it is right and good.
I know I'm glad my parents taught me that.
There are things worth doing and people worth remembering and respect worth showing.

We will remember them.

 Last year's Remembrance Day post: Why I Wear A Poppy

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A Friendly Little Fall Photo Shoot

All photos taken by Renee Walton Photography.

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In Honor of My Mama on Her Birthday

I'm sharing a song today in honor of my Mama's birthday.
Once upon a time I learned this song on guitar and she'd always ask me to play it because she liked it so much.
My Mom loves all the old hymns.
I always found it so strange.
Now I have an appreciation and love for these ageless songs, too.
And a deeply ingrained memory of Mom singing through her busy days at home.
Song after song committed to memory.
Whether she was cleaning, cooking, sewing or tidying up the endless messes, she was belting out a song.
I think I probably got annoyed with her for this during some irritable teenage years.
But I get it now.
Singing a song brings joy to the heart.
In the face of the monotony of homemaking or the struggles of life or the worries of motherhood, songs are uplifting.
The words are reminders and equip one with strength and fortitude.
I cherish the memory of my Mom's daily singing and all the work that accompanied those songs.
I cherish her.

Happy birthday, Mom!
I love you!

Considering the Lily

I attended a home educators' professional development day today.
It was wonderful.
I learned some new things, ate great food, shopped for some homeschool books and had a fun time chatting with other moms.
This year has been one of so many firsts for us.
We've faced various challenges, both educationally and personally.
I can't help but think about what a blessing it has been to be surrounded by other families this year whose journey is similar to ours.
It is nice to know we are not alone and that there are those who are a few steps ahead of us and happy to share their wisdom.
So tonight, here I am, stitching away at a lily that I started at one of today's workshops on embroidery.
I am not really the type to decorate with flowers but I think this one will be going up on a wall when it's completed.
As a reminder that God knows what I need.
And He provides.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6: 28-33

C'est L'Halloween, HEY!

Another evening of anticipation, laughter and fun.
A social walk in the cool, crisp October air.
Running into friends and oohh-ing and aahh-ing over their costumes.
Excitement over a favorite treat.
Whining over a heavier than her bag.
Attempting to assure the babe that she can eat some candy when we get home.
A return home to dump their loot and see what treasures it contains.
Races to the door when the doorbell rings.
Exclamations and reactions to the characters that they find.
Extra good teeth brushing before bed.
The smell of candles blown out inside of grinning jack-o-lanterns.

C'est l'Halloween!

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A Fast Paced Afternoon

Once again we hit the trail today.
This time with bikes.
And one with just TWO wheels!
This made for a really fast paced walk and lots of blurry pictures.
But Piper was just so proud of her latest accomplishment!
It was sweet to see!
Her grandfather, who taught her this latest skill, recently took of video of her riding her training wheel-less bike.
The whole time she kept yelling, "I'm doing it!!"
Oh, I remember that joy of first time freedom on wheels!
It is exhilarating!

Tait zoomed along, pleased to simply be moving those little legs of hers without a break.
However, she is determined that those extra wheels of hers need to come off soon too....

And this was my view.
This little one just giggles and laughs at her sisters, then flings her head back to make sure I'm sharing in her happiness.

There is nothing like sharing in your children's happiness.

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I love motherhood.

We're a smiling family.

I'm a covenant keeper.

I love my husband.

I am above self pity.

I am a nation builder.


Worth more than rubies.

“I am more convinced than ever that even in the midst of the mundane, burdensome, and oftentimes frustrating tasks of life allotted to me as a mother, God wants me to find his joy. He wants every single day of my life to be a celebration of his blessings, whether large or small. He wants me to celebrate life ~ the life He has given me.”

~ Sally Clarkson

My Hubby

My Hubby
He's my bestest.


She is my compassionate, dramatic, fun to be around 6 year old. She loves to shop, get dressed up fancy and anything else that screams girly!


She is my goofy, snuggly 4 year old who loves to sing and dance and smile all day long!


She is our one year old smarty pants! She does all she can to keep up with her older sisters and to keep them in line!

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