Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Blogging Through the Alphabet ~ Journey

Back when Annette and Amanda first mentioned blogging through the alphabet this year, I went ahead and wrote down a lot of idea prompts for letters. One of the first letters to get filled in was J. 

This home education path is a journey. It is not something to decide all at once, it is not something to try to master all at once. It takes time, lots of effort, and a willingness to adapt. What is that old saying? The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. Homeschooling is a choice, followed by a journey filled with other choices. Similar to the bridge in the picture above, we had a general idea  where we thought we wanted to go. We could see the beginning of the path, but not around the corner. Life is like that whether or not you homeschool. 

Only God knows what lies around each bend or hill of our lives. It is important to remember that He promises never to leave or forsake His children. If you are His child, He is right there with you. You don't have to understand it, you just need to believe it! Just as we have to learn to trust God as new Christians, we need to learn to trust His guidance when it is time for our children's education. If He is calling you to homeschool, and He has made it obvious to you that you are going to need to work as well ~ guess what? He will be there every step of the way. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it! 

If He is calling you to homeschool, and you can manage to make it as a family on just one income, I think that is better. Try to make it happen, but also realize that might not be God's answer for your family. 

There have been several times (hundreds?) over the past 13 years when I have wished and prayed to be able to stay at home with our daughters. God's answer has always been "My Grace is sufficient." Sometimes I have not really liked that answer. Sometimes it has been so heart-wrenching to get up out of bed and go to work when I just wanted to stay home and cuddle and read books on the couch. Yet, His grace has always been sufficient. On the days when I wonder if I'll have the strength to walk upstairs to go to bed because the day has been so physically taxing ~ His grace is sufficient. On the days when I cried my eyes out because I just wanted one day that looked 'easy' like other Moms seem to have that get to stay home ~ His grace was sufficient. 

Today? Even today His grace is sufficient!

Wherever you are on this homeschooling journey, remember that it is just that ~ a journey. It is not just the destination that matters, it is the way you get there that will be remembered! Our oldest daughter graduated in December. Looking back, I realize that I am glad I cannot change the past, because the journey all of us took to get her to graduation is the one we shared together. The journey where we made memories, and she grew up loving her 'little' sister, is the journey that made her into the beautiful young woman she is today.

Take heart Mama in the trenches! There is sunshine just for you, for your journey. Just look up at the Son and you will find it!

A Net In Time Schooling

Luke 19:10

Scripture Writing, Luke 19:10

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bessie's Pillow ~ A Crew Book Review

Does your family have an immigration story? When you were little did your Grandparents tell you stories about their Grandparents? While my family’s immigration story happened long before Ellis Island, Arlene and I were still intrigued to read Bessie’s Pillow, a story written by Linda Bress Silbert about her Grandmother’s Immigration to America in 1906 from Lithuania.

Historical Fiction, Jewish Immigration, Ellis Island

Bessie’s Pillow tells the story of Boshka “Bessie” Markham and her life in New York state from the time of her immigration in 1906 through 1936. This unique story published by Strong Learning, Inc. tells not only Bessie’s family story, but also offers a detailed look into what life was like for a variety of immigrants, both rich and poor, during and after the days when Ellis Island was used as the stopping point for immigrants who traveled to the US from Europe.

Arlene (16) and I both thoroughly enjoyed this heartfelt, in depth look at what life was like in the early 1900’s in New York State. First up: Arlene’s review, then I’ll be back with my own thoughts. :) 

From Arlene:

I really liked Bessie’s Pillow, it was an interesting story about a brave young girl who took the opportunity to travel to America to make a better life for herself. As she leaves her home she is given a pillow and the woman asks her to deliver it to her son who lives in New York. The story follows Bessie and the pillow from Europe to New York City where after a few adventures she ends up living with her friend Miriam and Miriam’s brother Lou. The story follows her though her life from her first job in America to another new job. It tells of her life until she finally delivers the pillow and what happens because of it. It shows her marriage and the birth of her first children and continues until her second round of children are all grown up. Bessie goes through many trials in her life from deaths in her family to having to learn to run a business to living through the first World War and the Great Depression. The story shows her love of her family and her perseverance to always see things through and succeed in a new world where she is both a Jewish immigrant and a woman. It also shows her kind and loving attitude to those who are beginning new lives for themselves and their families in America. As Bessie gets older and has a stable life she is always being kind and giving loans to those who need them.

From Carol:
The story of Bessie's Pillow brought to mind many of the stories I had heard from both of my Grandmothers while  I was growing up. It encouraged me to get out my own family tree and look at those names which had immigration dates listed beside them. One of the unique things I found with the book Bessie's Pillow is the companion website: Bessie's America which expands upon the information found in the back of the book. In the back of Bessie's Pillow there are about 20 pages of information explaining more about various topics covered in Bessie's story. There are also several pages of family pictures to peruse. The expanded coverage on the website gives links to finding out about European Immigration, food, movies, music, the Presidents, and much more. It also encourages you to search the Ellis Island database for your own family's connections.

What I cherished most about reading the story of Boshka "Bessie" was the raw honesty of the conditions Bessie and others endured, both in their homelands in Europe, and in America. Reading about the Pogroms in Russian Lithuania and how hard Bessie's family worked to keep her and her siblings safe was both scary and reassuring. Knowing that there have always been parents who gave and sacrificed for their children gave me a nudge to do better at this myself. Since Bessie was Jewish, and chose to stick to Kosher foods, even as a First Class passenger on her ship crossing the Ocean she ate fish three times a day ~ because that was what was available. She also endured some unusual "advice" from the older ladies on her trip. Overall, this would make a great family read-aloud, however, because of the nature of some of that raw honesty, I would caution letting anyone under 14 read it by themselves. As a family book, you can skim over those areas, or provide an age appropriate summary.

As readers, we live Bessie's life, the highs and lows, the triumph, and the heartaches. Bessie's Pillow is Historical Fiction book at its finest, because it is mostly historic, with just a touch of fictional detail fill-in to round it out. It was written based upon conversations between Linda Silbert's Mother and her Grandmother Bessie. What a wonderful testimony to the legacy of Linda's Grandmother. It makes me want to tell those stories I heard from my Grandmothers to our daughters, so they can one day be passed down again. This was a wonderful book to read, and I highly recommend you get your own copy ~ you will be glad you did!

Connect with Linda Bress Silbert and Bessie's Pillow on Facebook and Twitter

To read other Crew Reviews of Bessie's Pillow, just click the banner below!

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Blogging Through the Alphabet: Independent Learners

This week's letter is I

Were you wondering if I had forgotten? Nope, I remembered, but life said wait. 

Wait? Yes, wait.

I could have written this post about Independent Learners and what a blessing it has been for our girls to learn how to learn on their own on Monday, but I was afraid it might get lost in the mass of reviews we posted earlier this week. :)

This is a blessing I think too many Mamas miss out on.

The blessing of having independent learners.

Independent Learners, working and homeschooling, blogging the alphabet

Let me tell you a little story about the past four days. Hopefully by the end of the story you'll have a little peak into why I am blessed by the time we put in early on by teaching our girls how to be independent learners.

Monday was the first day of work after Daylight Savings Time messed with my sleep. I got myself ready for work, checked to make sure Arlene knew what she was doing for school, and went to work. I arrived home to Arlene having done her coursework, she made dinner, and we headed out to a 3rd House legislative meeting with our State Representatives and Senator at our local library hosted by the League of Women Voters. 

Tuesday I got up early and headed in to work, while Arlene did her coursework and the laundry. That evening she had a welcome back and awards party for her volunteer position at our local history park. While she was enjoying the party with her friends, I went out to dinner with my friend Anne, whose children also volunteer there, and then we went to Goodwill.

Two days down, no input from me except to make sure Arlene knew what needed done each day. No lectures to give, and no papers to grade yet this week. Sweet!

Wednesday dawned bright, early, and cold! Arlene was helping her spinning mentor with Ag Days, a 4-H extension outreach to Second graders. She and her fellow spinner Abby worked with Sue to talk about and demonstrate spinning wool into yarn to several hundred schoolchildren. I spent the time getting my car serviced, and working on notes for my upcoming reviews. After I picked Arlene up we went to get fabric for her 4-H quilt.

Today I needed to work again. Emily had the day off of work, so I left notes for both of the girls about what they needed to get done. Once their housework, and Arlene's coursework, was done they could have the rest of the day to do whatever they wanted. When I arrived home I was treated to an explanation of how beer is really just yeast burps after they consume/ ferment too much grain. Must have been an interesting Biology lesson! :)

So now that it is Thursday evening, do I have a lot left to catch up on with Arlene for school? No. Because I invested the time when she was in Middle School to teach her how to learn, and because we lean towards the Charlotte Mason style of learning with living books and shorter lessons, plus a focus on narration, everything is completed for the week. 

What does that leave for tomorrow? Arlene and I are going to take Kurt's car for an oil change, then we're going to the gym to go swimming, followed by another stop to get quilt fabric, and an afternoon of writing reviews. Arlene will probably spend her afternoon reading a library book. 

Does this sound too simple for High School? Who decided it had to be difficult? This method fits us well, and it is realistic for both our High School Junior and this working Mama. Too often I find parents wondering if they can homeschool through High School. If you've laid a good foundation, High School is actually easier in many regards than the younger grades. 

I want to encourage you to take the time to teach your children to become independent learners, one skill at a time. I chose the picture above because it brings to memory something Arlene learned on her own: how to watercolor. I could have taught her what I know, but instead, I gave her access to two different good quality art books about watercolors. She simply read the instructions, followed the pictures, and practiced until she felt confident in her skill.

I am so thankful for Independent Learners!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Linking up with Amanda and Annette for Blogging Through the Alphabet, and Kym's Homeschool Highlights! 

A Net In Time Schooling

Homeschool Coffee Break