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He Keeps Us

ANNAPOLIS AND CO: He Keeps Us

I’ve been up since 4am and can’t sleep, so I’m just sitting here with my bowl of cereal listening to the sound of the girls sleeping on the couch nearby and making lists of things to do before bébé comes. I have a little over 4 weeks left and “operation preparation” hit me BAD this week.

We have been living from one week to the next for the past two months and lately, from one day to the next as we deal with contractors, appraisers, underwriters, and realtors trying to get our house closing settled. Naturally, baby things got pushed waaaaay down to the bottom of the list as we made phone calls and emails and obsessed over our house repairs budget till I thought my nails would be gone. If I think about it too long, I want to cry, so I just don’t and we forge on ahead knowing in the back of my mind that God’s closing date supersedes the date I would’ve picked on my best day. But if we’re being honest, 90% of the time I don’t actually feel that way.

Our pastor preached on Psalm 121 on Sunday and he spoke of that very thing – feeling. He reminded me that it doesn’t matter if we feel our feet will slip or not, He is our keeper. It doesn’t matter if we feel preserved from attacks or not, He is our keeper. It doesn’t matter if we feel prepared or not, He is our keeper. Oh how reassuring to be reminded that the one who takes care of us does not slumber, nor doth He forget about us.

He keeps us. 

Even as I write that it drives me to conviction.

I have been by myself for almost the entirety of this pregnancy. Between my husband’s traveling overseas in February, my move in March with the kids, his job transition to GA in May, and me up here in SC selling the house, I have been learning the foreign territory of single parenting. Basically, it’s hard. Really hard. We’ve had to make more decisions then I ever want to have to make in a year again. I’ve struggled with wanting to feel that it is the right thing before jumping in, wanting to be able to give people clear cut answers when they ask what is going on. And yet, most of the time it was not a matter of whether I thought I could handle it or not, but a matter of obedience, and so far beyond my own control. It was a calling to be faithful. Day in and day out. I could listen to everybody’s advice, search out my deepest motivations, research the heck out of google, and drive myself insane with coffee runs, but it was in the shower on my knees that most of the answers came. I would lock the door for a few precious minutes of quiet and sink to the floor, letting the steam refresh my face. I would tell God I was so tired, for that’s all I really knew to say. Just so unbelievably tired. And then things would get real. I would tell God I wasn’t just physically tired, but I was tired of doing the right thing. Of showing up. Of giving up. To get battered and weathered and worn.

And just like He always does, He met me. It wasn’t in one earth shattering moment, but rather the build up of conversations and books and prayers. Sleepless nights and early mornings…

He is your keeper, Mary Beth. Your help comes from the Lord…the maker of heaven and earth. You don’t have to do it alone.

And I’ll re-read this the next time I forget. ;)


And for those who don’t have Spotify, you can view the song on youtube HERE and HERE.

The Everyday Project | Words

Words | Collage

They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so having a photo challenge with words is a creative explosion. I’ve always thought that it is through words that God speaks to me the loudest…movies, songs, interviews, reading, and writing. They catch my attention and change me. I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to quotes and Bible verses and sometimes I look through them and let them wash over my soul like a calming wave over my day. Words are powerful, and I never want to take for granted the freedom we have to express ourselves.

The lovely features this week are…

@kirstenannette_ // @misskyamanda // @blessedbyhishand // @tshirtjeansnicki // @karanitti // @lostintravels // @vineandlight // @petiamphotos // @jloucrawford

This week’s photo prompt is “SCAPES”. Hashtag your photos on IG with #theeverydayproject to join a growing community of over 30,000 photographs and for a chance to be featured. I’ve also had a few people ask about private Instagram accounts and if they can participate or not. I am still working out the kinks, but I believe you can! I’m so sorry but I don’t have enough hours in my day to open up the option of Direct Messaging your photos to me on IG. However, the first photograph featured in the top left leads to a private account. So I think it may work to just hashtag your photos. If anybody has any further info on this, would you mind sharing in the comments below or on my Instagram HERE. Thanks and happy photographing this week!!!!

 

The Part of Homeschooling that Made My Brain Hurt

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Curriculum. This is where I think we lose people in homeschooling. Any bit of research on the subject and you’ll leave feeling completely overwhelmed with all the options and the opinions from passionate, well-meaning people. At least, that’s how I felt. But stop. Breathe. Take a step back. You are the parent. You know your child best. You are perfectly equipped to meet their needs. You can always switch gears if something isn’t working.

I also don’t want to sit here at my computer in an Atlanta Starbucks and pretend I am an expert on the subject of teaching at home. I’m honestly scared out of my mind, but yet I know I’m doing the right thing for this season of life. For those who’ve asked, I used a hybrid type model last year. (I sent the girls twice a week to a wonderful, hands-on, small preschool and taught K-5 at home the other two days.) I was homeschooled K-12 growing up, so I do have some first-hand experience on how it feels to be the student. But that sums up my “experience”, so far.

Thankfully, I have some very knowledgeable friends who have walked me through the process of planning my school year and helped me choose curriculum. I honestly can’t say enough how grateful I am for these women. Every recommendation I’m making below has been a collective decision. I so hope it helps those of you who have asked what we’re using and/or encourages someone who isn’t sure about this whole homeschooling thing and wants to learn more.

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Handwriting (Kindergarten & 1st Grade)

I was first introduced to the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum at the girls’ preschool last fall. I sent 4-yr-old Shiloh pleading, “Pleeeeeeease teach her to write her name. Because I can’t get her to!” Wouldn’t you know, she did? Like a breeze. We use the printing books, the small chalkboard and chalk, and next year I would love to get the big wooden pieces for Keller. He loves anything hands-on!

Science (K-3, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade)

I wanted a curriculum that could be done with all 3 of my kids at the same time, had easy experiments using supplies around the house, and taught creation. My friend (who is a teacher turned homeschool mama) highly recommended Apologia books. We picked out Zoology 2: Exploring Creation with Swimming Creatures and the Junior Notebook Journal that goes with it. The textbook is purposefully written above their grade levels with the intent they will retain the things that interest them. I ask them to repeat back to me what we’ve read in their own words, we review some of the key terms, and then we draw/paint in our nature journals or complete the assignment in their science journal. We do science 3 – 4 days a week. At first, I thought it was waaaay too challenging, even for me. But this is actually their favorite subject (along with art) and they are retaining so much more than I thought they would. Eg: Shiloh talks about the Strawberry Sponge filter feeder as lunchtime conversation.

History (K-3, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade)

We use History For Little Pilgrims by Christian Liberty Press and it is turning out to be the perfect book for us this year. I was really worried about finding something to do with all three of my little ones since everyone on blogs seemed dissatisfied with the History options out there. This book is an easy read-aloud with key terms highlighted and review questions at the end of each chapter. It broadly covers God’s timeline of the world and I really love that you see the thread of His plan woven throughout. I like the idea of filling in History with discussions of other cultures (I have plans to focus on a country a month, go to the library, and make crafts) and we have this AMAZING maps book for kids.

English/Grammar/Spelling

We use Bob Jones for both K-5 and 1st Grade and can I just say? I love their approach. I used it last year for K-5 in conjunction with Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons and thought it rounded out our Reading and English perfectly. Bob Jones curriculum is extremely kid-friendly with colorful illustrations and my kids love love love it. I also use a Spelling work text by Bob Jones

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Reading

I can’t say it enough. Go get yourself a copy of Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It is ooooooold school with black and white illustrations, but by golly the book works like a charm for all learning styles (I know this because my mom has taught all 12 of the 14 of us kids how to read with it since the 80′s). I’ve had a lot of people email me asking questions about this book and my advice is to not overthink it, stay consistent, (so so key!) and stick with it. 15 minutes a day and I promise it is the most rewarding thing to see your children’s eyes opened to words all around them. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Math

I am using Abeka for K-5 and Saxon for 1st grade. I bought some of the hands-on learning materials that went with the Saxon curriculum because I think Saxon is BORING and could use a pick-me-up. (Emma somehow loves it and puts me to shame. ;)) They have an entire kit with geometric shapes and number sheets, but I thought it was a bit overpriced and I’m making a few of the charts myself. If you buy nothing else, get these math link cubes. I swear Keller plays with them for hours.

Art

I want to write a whole post with a complete list of supplies, because we’re huuuuge art people over here. But for now, I’ll recommend this book we got, The Art Book for Children.

French

We tried to go a more difficult route last year with an expensive, yet very thorough, audio program. I think Steven was the only one who really learned anything! This year, I picked up these inexpensive Drive and Learn French CD’s looking for something more catchy and musical. It follows a young man going throughout his day in France and you learn the basics with the first CD, such as the basic pleasantries, numbers, time, and how to order in a restaurant. It has turned out to be my absolute favorite and with all the driving between states this summer it has been great to have something educational, but fun, to pass the time.

My computer is about to run out of battery and the kids are asking for coffee (JUST kidding), so it’s over and out for now. ;)