Enjoy the gift of today

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Early Mornings

I love early mornings. I have not always loved them, but over the past few years I have learned to appreciate the early morning. In the early morning, my children are usually still asleep. This give me time to eat breakfast and have my morning quiet time with the Lord without interruptions. Early morning is also my time to run and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. I am reminded of my many blessings during the early mornings. One of them is the blessing of the new day. Every morning I remind myself to enjoy the gift of the day. We are not promised tomorrow.

Each day is another gift from God.

Take time to enjoy it.

Stop and count your blessings.

Be thankful.

Share your blessings and thankfulness with others.

Can you imagine what an impact it would make if each of us shared one blessing with just one person each day?

Today I am thankful for my health and my family. I have shown my family my thankfulness today through the little things that I know bless them. If I described my day to you in four words it would be these four words:

 

Crazy. Busy. Messy. Blessed.

 

And now it is late evening, and the children are in bed. It is quiet. It is less busy. It is less crazy. It is less messy thanks to our evening routines. It is still very, very BLESSED.

Enjoy the little things today. Practice thankfulness.

Siggie - Tami Fox

 

My word for 2015: Endurance

endurance-2015

At the beginning of each year, I pick a word for the year. Last year, my word was FEARLESS. I tackled a lot of things I never thought I would do. I completed running races up to a half-marathon in 2014. I completed two obstacle course races. I completed a triathlon, and in doing that, I really faced a fear of swimming. I never knew I was afraid of swimming, but I faced it. I did the complete triathlon. I probably won’t ever do another one, but I know I can do it if I have to do it.

For 2015, I have picked the word ENDURANCE. I picked it for many reasons. Life is not easy. There are tough times, and some days you just have to ENDURE and take the next step. I am also running every single day. Most of the time, I run outside, so I have to ENDURE the weather at times. As of today, I have not missed a day of running in 406 days. I have run outside in wind, rain, sleet, snow, heat & humidity, hurricane, and lots of beautiful days. To commit to running outside that much, I need a lot of ENDURANCE. One of my running goals for 2015 was to run a marathon. To run 26.2 miles, ENDURANCE is needed. On January 17, 2015, I ENDURED and completed my first marathon.

tami-marathon-2014-finish tami-marathon-2014 RSD406

There are many reasons why ENDURANCE is my word for the year, and each day, I discover more reasons.

Siggie - Tami Fox

Don’t you love it when your blog crashes?

Thanks for reading today. Due to some database issues, my blog crashed. Not just a little bit. A big crash. Fortunately, there was a back-up, and I have a great designer at The Multi Taskin’ Mom. She rocks! She got me back up and running in less than 24 hours. Her rates are very good, too.

 multi-taskin-mom

Of course, with the crash and back-up, I am missing most of my fall posts about our cooking adventures across the USA. I will be re-writing those and some more fun stuff.

 

Siggie - Tami Fox

Making the outside look good. . .

We are really good at making the outside of our lives look good to others. We use social media to give pretty pictures of our lives. Our status updates are cheery and happy. We don’t talk about the dark days and the deep feelings. You know those feelings you have deep down inside that you like to keep hidden. I learned as a child how to make the outside of my life conform to the expectations of others. But, you know what? My inside did not match my outside. I might have looked obedient on the outside, but on the inside I was rebelling. My heart and mind were miles away from what the outside conformity looked like.

I have had some hard times. Times when I could not put words to my thoughts on the inside. There were times when I worried about what others thought about me, so I kept things stuffed down, deep inside. I am in a place in my life where my inside matches my outside. I am happy on the inside and on the outside.

I have been through deep grief and disappointments. My faith in God has seen me through those times. I cannot imagine going through the things I have been through without God there with me every step of the way.

I have never dealt with depression or dark thoughts, but I pray for those who do. I am very saddened about the news that a well-known actor died today and possibly at his own hand. To the outside, he looked like he had it all. Probably, none of his fans thought he suffered from depression. Sometimes those who you least suspect to have depression, are the very ones who suffer with it.

Reach out to your friends and family. Be there for them. Be present. Love life. Love those around you. Be a friend to someone.

Be encouraged.

Tami

Am I Qualified to Teach My Children?

Have you thought about homeschooling and wondered if you could do it? 

Most parents are qualified to homeschool. It depends on the laws in your state or province, if you are qualified in the eyes of the law to teach your children at home. In my state, I am qualified to homeschool based on the fact that I have my high school diploma. I do have a bachelor’s degree, but most of my teaching comes directly from my reliance on God to direct me.

Do you know where to look for your state’s requirements to homeschool?

The best reference I have found for state requirements is on the Home School Legal Defense Association’s website. You can find more information on this page: http://www.hslda.org/hs/default.asp.

Don’t let your perfectionism get in the way of starting to homeschool. Think back on your education. You likely have gaps in your education, and you will not be able to cover every single topic in the world with your children. What you can do is rely on God and teach them HOW to find out the answers to their questions. Don’t let little details trip you up and stall your plans.

Read and research about homeschool methods and curriculum. It will be easy to be overwhelmed by the choices. Select curriculum carefully and know that as you begin teaching your children, you will discover how they learn best.

I have always naturally been a teacher and leader, so it was not a big stretch to teach my children. And I have learned so much alongside my children. It has been an education for me!

Enjoy this pic of my son learning about the inner workings of a frog for our science lesson.

Be encouraged,

Tami

When do you start back to school when you homeschool?

There are lots of opinions on when to start back to school as a homeschool family. Many of my friends school year round and take breaks every 6 to 8 weeks. I typically have a school calendar that is similar to the school system near me. This allows me to really enjoy the summer with my boys. We play, swim, fish, and relax. It’s really not that difficult to get in 180 school days from late August until the first of June. In my state, I have to log attendance for each student and keep a copy of that record in my school file. It is not a big deal compared to other states, but that is where I ascribe to the 180 school days philosophy. Truly, my children are learning every day, but I am referring to our structured school days for the purpose of this blog post.

With that said, we have started back on our math and reading lessons. We will be adding in language arts, history, and science throughout the month. This gives us time to adjust to new grade levels and makes things a little less crazy starting out a year with 4 students in 4 different grades.

I have planned a park day at the end of the month to meet with our local homeschool friends. This will give us time to catch up and start making some plans for field trips for the new school year. This time is also really important for the boys to see friends and just enjoy socializing with other homeschoolers. My local homeschool group meets monthly, in the evening, to encourage one another, ask questions, and plan events to do as a group. I have been a part of this group for more than 10 years.

I am really bad at doing a first day of school picture of the boys. I am reminded of this every year when my Facebook feed is filled with pics of kids going back to school. Maybe this year I will turn over a new leaf and take a pic. But even if I don’t, it is ok. I take plenty of pics throughout the year. What really matters is that I am there with them on a day-to-day basis. I love being with my children and being their teacher. I love taking them places and learning new things with them.

If you have any homeschool questions, you can email me or drop a comment below.

Be encouraged,

Tami

Sweet Summer Time Memories

Why homeschool?

Why did our family decide to homeschool?

In 1998, we had two children. I started reading about homeschooling, and it was something I felt we should do as a family. Our daughter was already in public school at the time because that is what everyone around us did. Our son was 3 years old, and he was in a private preschool. So I pushed the thought of homeschooling to the back of my mind. Fast forward two years, and it was time to send our son to kindergarten. I was also pregnant with our fourth child. So homeschooling that year was not exactly something I wanted to start with a toddler and new baby coming.

Our son went to kindergarten, and it was just not a good situation for him. He was all-boy, and the school system just does not allow for the wiggling and rough playing that boys do at that age. Within two weeks, we decided to pull him out of school and homeschool him. Our daughter was struggling in 4th grade with math and too much homework. Within 6 weeks, we decided to homeschool her as well. I had to do some quick research and ordered her some basic books. We started our homeschool journey with a 4th grader, kindergartner, a toddler, and a baby due in January.

I balanced book work with field trips and hands-on activities. I worked on setting some routines for us for school work, house projects, and play time. I found an email group and subscribed to The FlyLady emails. I was a classic Side-Tracked Home Executive (SHE). I needed help setting up my routines, and with three children at home all the time, I also had many things demanding my attention. I needed some focus on how to maintain my household while juggling teaching, caring for a toddler, and taking care of myself.

Following The FlyLady’s routines was a freeing experience for me. The routines kept me from being overwhelmed all the time. Working on small-scale projects 15 minutes at a time was much more manageable with everything else I had going on daily. I was also able to incorporate training my children to help with daily routines. They were young, but they could help with small tasks. I had to let go of my perfectionism. My Type A personality had to learn to take a backseat.

Our first year of homeschooling was a learning experience. I learned how my children learned the best. I learned a lot of patience with them and with myself. I learned with my children. I felt like I had my children back. I always wanted to be a mom and a teacher, and I was both things, even though I had been teaching them all along when they were with me.

If you are thinking about homeschooling, pray about it. Talk to your spouse about it. You both have to want to homeschool. It is a big commitment. It is a full-time job that pays benefits in deeper family relationships. If you are overwhelmed with life and your home and needing routines, then I encourage you to sign up for The FlyLady’s emails. They will change your life and your outlook.

Here’s a picture of our school cabinet where I store most of our daily books, and here is a picture of two of the boys working on math this week.

Be blessed in your journey,

Tami

Homeschool Planning for a New Year

It’s that time of year where I evaluate what we did well last year and where we need to improve. It’s time to start some planning for the new school year. When I look at a whole school year before me, it looks a little daunting. I will be homeschooling 10th grade, 8th grade, 6th grade, and 3rd grade this year. I have to do some planning and break it down into manageable steps. Some subjects are pretty easy to break down into weekly and daily assignments. Math is one of those subjects. I divide the total number of lessons and tests by the number of school days in our year (180). Then I know how many lessons need to be done per week and per day.

For my high schooler, science and history break down easily, too. I use the same system of dividing the number of lessons by the number of days in our school year. Language arts for a high schooler is a little different. I have to look at the number of papers I want him to write, and the number of books I want him to read and break that down into monthly and weekly goals. I will meet with him about the expectations I have for the year. We will have a joint check-off sheet to go by, but it is his responsibility to see that he stays on track. I will check in daily with him on his workload.

For the younger boys, I use a unit study approach to science and history. Their reading and writing assignments are based on the topic we are studying, so language arts gets planned in with the unit studies based on age and ability. In the fall, we are doing a big unit study on the States and Regions of the United States. In the spring, we are doing a big unit study on the systems of the body. This balances out our science and history over the course of a year. For these three, I will stay on the same topic, but they will have books assigned based on reading ability, and their writing assignments will also be based on their abilities.

I have been writing up weekly plan sheets for the unit studies, so I know what books and supplies to be gathering. I hand-write these plans because it cements these plans in my head. I hope to share pictures along the way this year as we learn together. For now, here is a picture of the first four weeks of lesson plans.

I am using the KONOS curriculum (www.KONOS.com) for my guide on planning. I did this same unit study about 10 years ago, so that is helping me plan our activities. I am looking forward to this school year!

Enjoy the journey!

Tami

A Review of Diana Waring’s Experience History Through Music Series


 
 
 Recently I was given the opportunity to review Diana Waring’s re-published series, “Experience History Through Music.” Since this is the beginning of our 15th year of homeschooling, I have long-known Diana Waring. I have used her history and music cassettes in the past, and I was thrilled to learn she had located the original recordings and had them re-mastered and converted to a file that is compatible with audio CD’s. Diana has also written books for homeschool families that have greatly influenced how my homeschool is structured.
 The newly published and updated books provide short lessons on the background of the folk songs from times past, and Diana has also included the sheet music and words for the songs. Not only can you listen to the music CD’s, you can also participate and sing along with her and the other musicians on the recording. I have found that my children retain information when we are able to bring in hands-on learning and music to our learning time. Our brains store and retrieve details much faster when we incorporate music than if we just memorize facts and information.
I can’t pick a favorite music CD from this series, so I will give you a little bit of information about each one. If you are studying early American history, I highly recommend this series to enrich your learning. If you are not studying American history this year, this is still a great supplement to your day. 
 “Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder”
One of our favorite time periods to study has been the pioneer days. Of course, when we study the pioneers, we study Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you are familiar with her writings, you know that music was a big part of her family life. Her Pa played the fiddle, and it had a big impact on her life and her books. When I have read her books, I always had to imagine the songs in my head. With Diana’s book and CD, I am able to read about the story behind the songs, listen to the songs, and also have the sheet music to follow along with the songs. My children get so much more from our reading time when I can also play a song that is a part of the Laura Ingalls Wilder heritage. 
 
This book is written by William Anderson. He has a long and rich history of writing about Laura Ingalls Wilder. You will learn many details from him throughout the book. The pictures in the book also help you imagine life when these songs were sang by Laura and her family.
 
Here is a brief excerpt from the book:
“The songs Pa played and the words sung by Laura and her family spoke of love and loss, praise to God, good times in the past and better times in the future.” (Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, p. 7)
 “America: The Heart of a New Generation”
This CD and book contains sixteen musical selections from the very beginning of our country. It starts out with a stirring rendition of “Yankee Doodle” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” 
Music is such a rich part of our American history. Immersing your family in the study of America with these rich songs will give you life-long memories. These are songs you want your children to share with your grandchildren and their children.
 
 

“Westward Ho! The Heart of the Old West”
Imagine yourself and your family loading all of your personal belongings that you could fit in a covered wagon and heading West to the great unknown territory. You would spend months with families on the same journey. Babies would be born while you were on the trail. People would die on the trail. Couples would get married along the trail. The wagon train worked as a small community to work together to make it through very rugged terrain. One way to express your thoughts, feelings, and emotions on a trip like this would be through music. Many songs were sung as you traveled along and when you stopped for a respite. The songs reflect life along the trail.
 
Diana Waring brings these songs to you with stories and pictures. She helps you feel the emotions of these travelers through song. With her CD and music sheets, you can capture a bit of the excitement of the travelers who leave life as they know it behind for the great unknown in the West.
For the next two days, you can get all three of Diana’s “Experience History Through Music” books and CD’s for $50. The offer ends on July 31, 2014. The regular price is $18.99 per set. This is a savings of $6.97. You can see details on how to purchase this set at http://www.dianawaring.com/store/experience-history-through-music.

About Diana
Author of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest and Diana Waring’s History Revealedworld history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.” Beginning in the early ’80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn.  Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn.  Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style. You can learn more about Diana and all of her resources at http://dianawaring.com.
We live in a fast-paced, instant society. It is nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle and enjoy listening to music that is a rich part of our country’s heritage. 
Be Blessed on Your Learning Adventure!
Tami

Pardon the dust while I do some maintenance around here

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog. I will be blogging regularly again in the very near future. You will notice the design of the blog will be changing in the coming weeks, too. All of this is to make your reading experience here much better.

This is a view from the top of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. I love my state! 

There have been lots of happenings in my life in the past year. I finished our 14th year of homeschooling with my four sons. I ran many races in the past year. Everything from a 5K to a half-marathon to a triathlon and obstacle races. It has been a fun and active year. The most fun I had in a race was jumping fire. I will post a few pics for you to see my journey.

Ready for the Elf Run
 
Midnight New Year’ Eve Run
 Snow Day Run
 Stretching with my 7-yr-old


 

Hope you enjoy the pics. It has been an awesome year! On to new goals and new dreams.