Lent 2018

If you’re looking for my annual Lent family devotions, they are in book form this year! I was coming up with a way to make the family devotional more user-friendly. Scrolling through an entire week of blog posts is a bit messy. It is free, but it is messy. Then, I had this idea to add a personal devotional for moms to the front. In pitching the idea to The Pastor, we kind of thought, “Why just moms?” So, I enlisted his help in getting both a full 40-day devotional for all people and a 40-day family devotional written. We then put it on Kindle for ease-of-use. (It is also available in paperback if you’re not a digital person.)

The entire thing is really cohesive: The personal devotions and family devotions tie into each other, so you’ll all be walking the same spiritual path together. And as usual, the family devotional includes activities to do! Fun!

The theme of this year’s Lenten devotional is Refocus. Lent is a great time to look over everything and evaluate if you’re living the way you think you should be living. “Does my life reflect Christ?” It’ll challenge you to reevaluate where you put your time and money. It will ask you to reevaluate your priorities and commitments. Basically, it is going to step all over your toes and probably make you uncomfortable and you might even hate me for it. Or… you might refocus your life on the cross and do big Jesus-work this coming year. I think it’s worth the risk.

If you want a free devotional, all my previous years of Lent family devotions are still available here on the blog. Since Lent is always 40 days, always starting on Ash Wednesday and always ending on Easter, any of these can be used any year.

Lent Family Devotional 2017 – This family devotional looks into the life and ministry of Jesus.

40 Holy People – This is a Lenten devotional looking at the lives of those who have followed Christ with great courage and wisdom.

Fruit of the Spirit Family Devotional – This is not a Lenten devotional, but you can use it during Lent if you’d like. It is 9 weeks, so it is a little longer than Lent.

Click here to buy this year’s Lent devotional on Amazon.  My hope and prayer is for families to come together around a table and talk about Jesus. So, whatever you chose to do this Lent, be it using Refocus, using one of the free devotions on my blog, using another devotional book, or just reading through a book of the Bible together after dinner— make sure that you don’t miss Jesus during this season. Let the season bring you closer to Him and closer to your family.

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Merry Christmas!

Of course, I needed to add my obligatory Christmas photo. It almost didn’t happen this year. I should probably switch this to a Christmas Eve thing. Christmas morning, I usually have them do it right after we read the Christmas story. But the toddler was being a maniac and the baby needed to eat. So, I put it off. And put it off. And put it off.

Christmas night, while we were getting ready to watch a movie, The Pastor reminded me that we hadn’t done the picture yet. He sent everyone off to put their Christmas jimmies back on while I got the camera stuff ready.

While I was getting the camera on the tripod and troubleshooting a thousand things (because the camera, quite honestly, is in need of replacing), I sat in someone’s pie that they had left on the hearth. I didn’t realize this until I stood up and went to grab another SD card and the plate of pie, that had hung on for a few steps, fell into the floor. By this time, the kids are rounded up and ready, so I just proceed with pie butt. My remote wasn’t working, so I had to do the self timer and dash bit, grabbing the escaping toddler on the way.

I was also very tempted not to post them this year because I’m not happy with the way I look in them. I just had a baby 2 months ago, and baby weight just doesn’t fall off for me. But, I decided to post them anyway. I wouldn’t be fooling anyone by not posting them. If you’ve seen me in real life, you know what I look like. By not posting them, I’d only be deleting a moment of history for my family. I’m not going to do that just because I’m unhappy with my weight. It isn’t worth it. Looking back over the previous years, I realize that I miss the photos that I tossed because I didn’t like how I looked. There are holes in the family record because of my vanity. Seems dumb when I look back and wonder where certain year pictures were.

I quit editing my photos to make my house look perfect a few years ago. Now, I’m not going to hold back in posting the ones where I look like a train wreck. Just going to post anyway.

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Previous Christmas Morning Pics:

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Godbold Academy Spelling Program

I have never found a spelling program that I liked and my kids liked. So spelling has always been a struggle. Then this year, I sat down and figured out my own spelling program for the kids. It has been going really well, so I figured I would share it with you.

The best part of this program is that is is completely customizable for your child. So, if they have trouble with specific words, you can add those in. It is completely customizable to their level.

At the beginning of the year, I picked up these myndology cards on a ring at Walmart. I also grabbed an extra set of rings. I used a set plus a third of a second set of the cards per kid. And each child needs three rings.

I wrote a spelling word on each card. 100 words for the year. (The card come in packs of 75. So you could just do one set or double it. I just decided to not let the set determine the number and went for 100 words.) These are all the spelling words they have to learn this year. Just 100 words. Once the 100 words are learned, they are done with spelling for the year. This has been a big push to learn the words right the first time so they can be done with them.

You have three rings. One ring is all the words to be learned this year. The second ring is for the words of the week. The third ring is for mastered words.

Each week, the student chooses 10 words from the “to be learned” ring. Their choice.(I think ten is a great number for younger kids or struggling spellers. If your kids are fifth grade and above, they may be ready for more words at a time. I wouldn’t do more than 20 words in a week, though.) They place these ten cards on their “words of the week” ring. Those are the words they will focus on this week. Each day, I have them do a spelling activity. They have several activities to do each week. This varies with age level. You can mix and match whatever activities work best for your child or have them choose which ones they want to do each week.

Grade 3+ Activities:

– Write each word 3 times in cursive.

– Write each word 3 times in print.

– Look each word up in the dictionary and write the definition.

– Write a sentence using each word.

– Look each word up in the thesaurus and write three synonyms.

– Look each word up in the thesaurus and write an antonym.

Grade 1 and 2 Activities:

– Write each word on paper.

– Write each word on the chalkboard. (You can also have them write them on the driveway with sidewalk chalk, write them on the shower walls with soap crayons, write them in sand with their finger- anything to get a different “feel” when writing the words.)

– Spell each word out loud. (At this age, some of them like to tell a toy how to spell the word.)

– Write each word with a crayon.

– Draw a picture that reminds you of each word.

– Color each word. (Requires you to print each word in block letters to make a coloring page.)

After they have worked with their words all week, we have a spelling test or spelling bee on Friday. I let my kids choose if they want to write the words or spell them out loud. They hand me the “words of the week” ring and I quiz them. Every word they get correct, they get to move to the “mastered words” ring. Those are done. Words they get wrong go back on the “to be learned” ring and they will have to do all the work for them again next time they choose that word. So, even if they only spell 2 words correct, they are rewarded for those two words. And words they get wrong aren’t just gone and forgotten, they’ll come back to them again when they are ready.

Letting the kids choose the words of the week has been wildly successful. They feel more ownership with it and don’t resist spelling. They are more in control. My kids tend to do enjoy school more when they feel like they have some control over what they are learning. They also really like being able to see their progress on the rings. The “to be learned” ring shrinking and the “mastered words” ring growing.

I’m including some possible spelling word lists because that might help you. If your kids are doing a vocabulary program, you can grab the words from their vocabulary program. These lists are only to help you. You may find you have a sixth grader who is needing some refresher words from the first grade list- that is okay. You may have a third grader who loves to spell and wants challenging words from the middle school list. Some words may appear on multiple lists. I try to pay attention as my kids are writing to get an idea of what words are bringing them trouble. There are clearly an infinite number of words you can have them learn to spell.

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Pregnancy Update- Baby Seven

I realized that I haven’t talked much about this pregnancy and the plans and how things are going. I figured an update was in order.

So far, this pregnancy is completely normal and boring. Boring pregnancies are the best. Nothing is at all out of the ordinary. Daisy (that would be the baby’s name) is measuring right on track. She is usually head down now at 30 weeks, though that last day or two she’s been bugging me with trying to find a new position. I’m trying to convince her head down anterior really is the best in the world. Hopefully she believes me on that one. I have some of the common pregnancy complaints. My hips get mad easily. My legs and ankles are swelling. (90 degree heat is not kind on the extremely pregnant.) Leg cramps keep waking me up at night. Oddly enough, swelling and leg cramps were my two main complaints in my first girl pregnancy and not so much with the boys- maybe it is a girl thing.

The plan for birth this time is for a hospital delivery. We decided with the chances of the cholestasis returning being so high (90%) that we would just plan for a hospital delivery so that we wouldn’t have to really worry about that portion of it. I’ll be delivery her at Emory Midtown, which is where Emery and Ransom were both born. I’m nervous about heading back, since my last two experiences there after the babies were born were pretty bad. However, they have since become “baby friendly” and I hope to not have issues. (As in, I hope to have a baby there and actually get to keep the baby.)

Cholestasis of pregnancy recurs 90% of the time. However, since I didn’t have it with my first 5 babies, we are hoping that I will be among the 10%. We know we have great care set up if the cholestasis does recur. We’re all keeping a close eye out on symptoms and will test and treat if it becomes needed. Right now, I am symptom free. (It popped up in week 31 in my previous pregnancy.) If the cholestasis returns, I’ll have to be induced again at 37 weeks. (October 15) I am hoping and praying that my liver holds out this time and we can await natural labor.

In addition to the cholestasis concerns, there are the usual preterm labor concerns. Two thirds of the Godbold babies have been late preterm babies. I am really hoping and shooting to make it to at least 37 weeks. I’m doing the magnesium and vitamin C with bioflavonoid routine right now to hopefully get to that point. (One baby was born at 35 weeks, three at 36 weeks, 1 at 37 weeks, and 1 at 39 weeks.) Things right now are going boring and fine. So, hopefully that continues for the next 7 weeks.

The kids are really excited about having a little sister. Imogene is especially excited. They talk to Daisy and like to feel her kick. Even the older boys seem excited to be welcoming another girl to the family. Topher calls her a little lady. (And if you ask, he will officially be big the day she is born. Not a day sooner. Yes, he does have a younger sibling, but still insists that he is a little kid.)

We are getting ready to welcome our first girl in a decade. And also getting ready to welcome our first cold weather baby in a decade. We’re slowly accumulating clothes appropriate for the weather. Clearly, we have baby things- crib, car seat, stroller, wraps, bouncy seat. We also still have a full stash of newborn diapers, so yay for that. It is really just clothes and cold weather baby things we just don’t have. Over the next 7 weeks, I’m sure we’ll more or less be prepared.

2016-2017 Homeschool Curriculum Review

We haven’t yet moved into our next school year, but the planning for next year is coming along. This past year was our 7th homeschooling year. We had 4 official students and 1 who insisted on jumping into the fun with us. (Preschoolers do that from time to time. Sometimes they want to participate. Sometimes they don’t. Before age 6, we let them choose. Play time is learning time for that age, so I’m not comfortable pushing them toward rigorous studies just yet.) I figured I’d let you guys know what worked and what didn’t this school year. But I always like to give an update on what worked and what didn't, since my opinions may change by the time we get closer to the end.

Overall, we have used The Well Trained Mind throughout our schooling days. We’ve been a little more relaxed in the Grammar stage. Some of the suggested resources haven’t worked for us, so we have found alternatives that work.

I had two fifth graders this year, one third grader, one kindergartener, and one preschooler.

Math
We used Teaching Textbooks 5 and 3 for these guys this year. Teaching Textbooks has been the best math program for these guys. These two started with Singapore Math and then switched to Teaching Textbooks for fourth grade. We no longer buy the workbooks, because my kids only use the computer disc portion of the program. Each lesson is well explained, having them do practice problems as they go. If they don’t do well on a lesson, you can go in and delete the grade and let them try again. They get two tries at each problem, and the program explains how the answer is achieved. It gives immediate gratification, telling them if they are right or wrong on each problem before they move on. The kids do very well with this program. I have read some reviews that say the grade levels are off, but I have not found that to be the case. Each year starts off pretty easy, but builds back to more difficult concepts. So, a student may find it easy at first, but there is more challenge coming. My only issue with the program is the cardboard cases the CDs come in. I feel like for the price, they should come in some durable CD cases for long term use. I’ve had to move all our discs into a zippered CD case. That works, but for $99 a set (higher in the higher levels) they should come with something more durable than paper. The program keeps up with the grades and you can check them at any time. We don’t usually do grades, but since the kids were doing it all on their own, it helped me keep an eye on their progress.
We started the year with Essential Math K. He flew through it. It wasn’t a challenge for him at all. We switched to Life of Fred about halfway through the year. It introduced more complex topics and he liked the storytelling aspect. The preschooler joined us for these lessons, but will likely need to do them again.

Grammar
I signed the older two up for Wordly Wise Online through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. They didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. The program isn’t well laid out. It is very confusing and takes a lot of time per lesson. I also felt like they weren’t really learning much for the effort being put in. We stopped it mid-year and will not be picking it back up.
We also grabbed the new Writer’s In Residence program from Apologia. Each student needs their own book. And the books are hefty. While I like some of the content, overall, the program didn’t work well for us. For one, it isn’t well laid out. The grading rubric is confusing. Everything has to be graded, which is weird for us since we don’t really grade things. Some of the assignments were frivolous. Also, it got really messy. It is a huge workbook, so I expect all the work to be done in the book and fit in the book. But there were several times when things were cut out of the book (which annoys me greatly) or they had to paper clip extra pages into the book. I felt like they could have made it all work, but didn’t. If the kids are needing to use separate paper, I would have just liked it in textbook format with all the work being done on their own paper in a separate notebook. My kids did learn from the program, but it was far too parent intensive and far too convoluted. You will need at least one of the Teacher’s Guides. I won’t be continuing this program. Even if I wanted to, I can’t. They released Volume 1 of 4 last year but haven’t released Volume 2 yet. I have such mixed feelings on this program. Some of it is SO good. But then some of it is SO bad.

I kept my third grader signed up for Explode the Code online. I absolutely love that program. It has worked so unbelievably well for him. He enjoys it. It challenges him. He is finishing up the program now, so he won’t be using it next year. I’ll be looking at buying it again for our rising first grader, though.

History
Our history years aren’t lining up smoothly because we spent longer than a school year on Ancient history. We use Story of The World. This year, we started a history co-op with some other families in our church. That slowed us down considerably, so we didn’t finish a full year of history this year either. We finished up Story of The World 2 and then moved into Story of the World 3. We tried the audio version of Story of the World 2, but the kids hated it. They did not like listening to the CDs. So, we went back to me reading it to them from the book. When we started Story of The World 3, I added interactive notebooks. It would have worked well for just my kids, but in the co-op setting, it got a little hectic. We will be continuing Story of The World 3 next year, but these two will be moving into the Logic stage, so they will be adjusting how they do history. (Technically, the Logic Stage begins in 5th grade, but my kids needed an extra year of writing and grammar before they could really tackle outlines and summaries.)

Science
We found a really awesome Science curriculum that works alongside Story of The World so well. Berean Builders Science is chronological science, studied by scientist and discovery. That has made so much more sense to my kids and given them a better understanding of how we come to know what we know. I’ll admit, they watched a few too many documentaries that had distorted their view of science. Because each documentary presents everything as fact, not theory. Then the documentaries would contradict one another or come from an atheistic world view. My kids became super skeptical and I was having difficulty drawing them back into the subject. The Berean Science books have been perfect to hook them back in. We started using Science in the Scientific Revolution along with Story of the World 3. There are experiments to better understand the discoveries made. It has been awesome. The kids love it, they are actually engaged, and they better understand the scientific process and how new discoveries change the way we see the world.

Handwriting
I have never used a proper handwriting program. However, my kids really needed it. They were having a lot of trouble writing clearly enough to communicate their ideas. So, I opted for an actual handwriting book. I chose Patriotic Penmanship. I liked the selected quotes. I decided to keep my third grader in print writing because he was only 7 and he needed some reinforcement on the proper way to make letters. One of my fifth graders did introductory cursive and the other did her proper grade. The workbooks are great. I had them work on a two page spread, one lesson, each week. Day one they would just practice making a letter. Day two they would practice key words. Day three they would work on a full phrase or two. Day four they would write the entire quote. It didn’t take more than a few minutes each day and I simply asked for very hard work for those few minutes. All of them have improved their handwriting significantly with just a little work each day. I will definitely be ordering Patriotic Penmanship workbooks again this year. Each child needs their own workbook as they are consumable.

Bible
For our Bible study for the older kids, we used Herein Is Love: Genesis. This one has a lot more lessons in it than the Leviticus book. The kids really enjoyed it and I think they learned a lot. It does a great job of weaving the whole story into the beginning story.
For the Little Guys, we used the Jesus Calling Storybook. I was not as in love with this Storybook Bible as I was with the Jesus Storybook Bible. It has little notes from Jesus, but they are worded oddly and it makes it a little difficult to follow in a read aloud format. But the kids liked it and they did learn.

Geography
We used my Operation World geography plan. It went really well. It helped open my kids’ worldview and show them more than what is outside their front door. I was really happy with how it went and will continue it next year.

Kindergarten
I purchased Alpha Tales and Phonics Tales at Costco for the little guys. We did not get into the Phonics Tales. It will really be a toss up this year if we do that book or The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading. I’m not sure which will work better for these guys.
I also signed them up for ABCMouse.com mid year. They have loved it. They can use their tablets to play. I signed up for the assessments, as well, but found that portion pretty worthless.

Reading
I basically let the kids pick what they wanted to read this year instead of using the reading list from Well Trained Mind. Turned out, that was a mistake. Well, the kids really loved reading, but they essentially spent the year reading junk books. I did strongly suggest a few classics that they did read and enjoy. The third grader loved the Roald Dahl books we have and finished all the Magic Treehouse books we own, plus ventured over to the Imagination Station books. The fifth graders read Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. They also read some Judy Bloom. But they did read a bunch of Goosebumps books and other junk type books. Next year, I’ll separate the required reading and the fun reading a bit more.

I kept track of everything in a composition notebook that I used like a bullet journal for schooling. This helped the planning significantly. I’ll be doing the same again because it worked so well. Though I’ll likely opt for a real bullet journal this year. (I’ve been using a bullet journal for a class I am taking and another one for the upcoming 2018 year. I’m liking the customization so much more than a standard planner. I also have one that I’ve been using alongside my 2017 planner for notes and things. I do like having separate planners for each of those areas, since I feel like everything together just gets too cluttered.)

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Lenten Family Devotion Week Seven 

What you’ll need this week: This week, we’re making a wreath, adding a bit each day. For the wreath, you can pick up a twig wreath at a craft store very inexpensively. You can decide if you’ll just make one wreath for the family or if each person will make their own. (They can always gift them to Grandma on Easter.) You’ll need to attach the items each day. Hot glue works, but using floral wire to tie things on and in works better. In addition to the wreath, you’ll need: 
– Something gold (like garland or a sprig of gold)

– Feathers (or birds, whatever you happen to find and like)

– Something purple (it can be a flower, ribbon, fabric- it is up to you)

– Something black (flower, ribbon, do-dad, whatever you like)

– Something linen (ribbon, scrap of fabric, flower, butterfly)

– Something white (flower, ribbon, butterfly, lily, etc.)

Day Thirty-Seven: Monday: Betrayal & Arrest

Read John 18:1-14

OR

Jesus Is Arrested, p.210-211 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

OR

A Dark Night In The Garden, p.294-301 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Judas saw all the same miracles that Jesus performed as the rest of the disciples. Why do you think he would betray Jesus?

– Peter the bold stepping up again and cutting off a dude’s ear! Why do you think Jesus rebuked him?

Activity:

– Today, we’re adding some gold to our wreath to represent the betrayal of Jesus.

Day Thirty-Eight: Tuesday: Peter’s Denial

Read John 13:36-38; 18:15-18; 18:25-27

OR

Peter Denies Jesus, p. 212-213 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– Why did Peter deny Jesus?

– What do you think went through Peter’s head as the rooster crowed?

– Do you ever try to hide your faith?

Activity:

– Adding to our wreath some feathers to signify the rooster crowing at the betrayal of Christ.

Day Thirty-Nine: Wednesday: Jesus’ Trial

Read John 18:28-40; 19:1-6 and Luke 23:1-25

Discuss:

– Did Pilate want to punish Jesus? Why did he agree to it?

– Why would the people choose Barabbas’ release over releasing Jesus?

– Was any of this fair?

Activity:

– Today, we are adding purple to our wreath, like the robe used to mock Jesus.

Day Forty: Thursday: Crucifixation

Read John 19:16-37 and Luke 23:26-49

OR

The Sun Stops Shining, p. 302-307 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

OR

Good Friday, p.214-219 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– Take some time to discuss the impact of the crucifixion on your hearts today. What does the death of Christ mean? If you need a big word to focus on, Justification and Atonement are good ones to explore.

Activity:

– Though Good Friday is tomorrow, we’re taking time today to reflect on what is coming. Today, we’ll be adding black, the color of mourning, to our wreath.

Day Forty-One: Friday: Burial of Jesus

Read John 19:38-42 and Luke 23:50-56

OR

The Sun Stops Shining, p. 308-309 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discuss:

– What do you think the soul of Jesus was doing while his body was being buried?

– How do you think His followers felt?

Activity:

– Today, we’re adding linen to our wreath, to represent the linen they wrapped Jesus in.

Day Forty-Two: Saturday: Resurrection

We’ve made it through. Today, is the last day of Lent. While today is the day the world waited. Tomorrow will be Easter, and look forward to his Resurrection.

Read John 20:1-10 and Luke 24:1-40

OR

Easter Sunday, p.220-223 in Jesus Calling Storybook Bible

OR

God’s Wonderful Surprise, p.310-317 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Do you find it interesting the Jesus first appeared to women?

– When they first realized the body was gone, what do you think they thought happened?

– What does the Resurrection mean for us?

– What have you learned about Justification, Atonement, and Redemption?

Activity:

– Today, we finish our wreath. We add white, the color of the resurrection. And now your Easter wreath is complete. Hang it up or plan to gift it to someone special tomorrow, to remind them of the hope of Easter.