Category Archives: Ms. Serious

Homeschool Classroom ~Christian Studies

One area of our older kids’ high school curriculum is their Christian Studies.

Some of what Christian Studies includes studying is God’s word and taking opportunities to serve in our community.  I have previously shared one of their assignments, and you can check it out here.  Today, I want to share one of my absolutely favorite assignments for this class.

Once a month each one of our oldest four students presents a teaching (aka sermon) on a topic they choose.  This gives them a different method of studying God’s word than the verse by verse method we use for our morning Bible study.

The requirements for this assignment:

  • minimum of 5 minutes in length
  • must contain 3 different verse references
  • 1 Greek definition
  • 1 Hebrew definition
  • 1 story to illustrate the teaching

How I score this assignment:

  • time length of teaching- 10 points
  • 3 verses- 5 points each
  • definitions- 5 points each
  • story- 10 points
  • overall presentation- 5 points
  • = 50 point assignment.

Though this is a part of our high school curriculum, Emily Grace (13- 8th grade) and Hannah (11- 6th grade) also participate to expand their knowledge of God’s word and be better prepared for the more difficult topics and higher expectations of their high school years.

Each of them get to choose their own topic, but they have to clear it with me before they get started.  Sometimes the topics they choose can be too broad and need to be a little more focused.

A few of the chosen topics so far:

  • Biblical Courtship vs. Worldly Dating
  • Drawing Strength from God
  • Intentionally Be An Encouraging Person
  • Having a Thankful Heart

I greatly enjoy listening to their presentations and hearing what they have discovered.

What are some other topics do you suggest?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

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The Morning Costco Crowd

Costco, being our family grocery store, is a weekly trip that usually happens on Saturday morning or a weekday evening.

Our gymnast’s summer training schedule offered a perfect opportunity to hit Costco on a weekday morning before it fills up with families stocking up on bulk items and business people grabbing office supplies.

HA!  I just thought it would be a quiet stroll around the store with only a handful of people here and there.

We arrived around 9:43 am but found the doors to still be closed and the parking lot almost empty.  I did not realize that Costco didn’t open until 10 am.  No biggie.  Renee (16) and I decided to hang around, play a little Candy Crush, and wait until the doors opened.

At 5 minutes till, we decided to walk to the front and wait until the store opened.   As we walked I noticed that the parking lot had quite a few more cars than before my little game of Candy Crush.  {I believe I had been bemoaning the evil of chocolate in games.}

It would appear that our walk to the doors was the signal for the races to begin.  Every minute had more people driving into the parking lot and congregating around the entrance.

This crowd was no ordinary crowd.  They were all retirees.  Think retirees are harmless?  Try getting between them and the front door to the store they are looking to enter.

With every tick of the second hand, the crowd grew and pressed forward.  Their hands gripped their buggies, and with Costco cards at the ready, the chitter chatter died down.

When we could hear activity on the inside of the giant rolling door, they began to push forward harder.  Many of them were just a fraction of an inch from the heels of the person standing in front them.  The buggies were lined up like the Roman legions ready for battle.

Those who were driving their scooters were particular interesting.  They would rev to the best of their ability and drive forward parting people whether they wanted to be parted or not!

As the door started to slowly rise, several old ladies began to bend at the knees and waist to dash in before the door was all the way open.  It did not even clear the chest of the Costco worker before they all began pouring inside.

By this time Renee and I were standing on the edge of the pillars to save our toes and elbows.  The sea of white hair was all around us and jockeying for position.

It was at this time a particular gentleman smiled up at me and said, “I think it is safe to come down.”  I smiled back and asked, “Are you sure the crowd has thinned enough?”  He just laughed and pushed his buggie inside.

Once in the store everyone seemed to slow down to the normal pace of retirees enjoying a morning out.  The smiles returned and the chatter was back and lively. Gone were the tight-lipped faces filled with concentration.  No more were people looking to run down someone who was trying to cut them off from entering the 15 foot wide door.

While I found the whole experience to be quite entertaining, my sixteen year old declared that she didn’t realize that old people could be so aggressive.

I think I will plan another morning trip to Costco just to enjoy the show!

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

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Our Girls and Makeup

Though I speak often in emails and in person with moms about daughters and makeup, the amount of questions I have received regarding this topic have recently gotten numerous. So, rather than email this out multiple times, I am going to share our views in a post!

The makeup question often comes in one of these forms:

  • What age do you allow your daughters to start wearing makeup?
  • How do you view little girls and makeup?
  • How do you decide what makeup to allow?
  • Do you allow your girls to wear nail polish?

We do not allow our girls to wear makeup or nail polish until they are 13 years old. That’s it. At 12 they are introduced to the much-anticipated path of growing up into a young woman and the makeup adventure by allowing the frosty colored lip balm.

At each birthday, beginning on their 13th birthday, they are gifted with a new item of makeup.  By their 16th birthday they will have received all of the different kinds of makeup they need (i.e.:  foundation, powder, eye liner, eye shadow, mascara, etc.)  and be instructed on how to properly use each one.

This is how it lays out at each birthday:

  • 12th- frosty colored lip balm (we love Burt’s Bees)
  • 13th- light-colored lip balm (pink or watermelon), mascara, and they are now able to paint their toenails with young, fresh colors (light pink, light purple, light blue)
  • 14th- now we add light shades of eyeshadow that are the appropriate colors for their skin tone and eye color.  If their fingernails are kept clean and in good repair we will now let them start wearing nail polish to match the colors they have on their toenails.
  • 15th- this is the birthday we add eyeliner and allow for slightly darker and brighter nail polish.
  • 16th- at this birthday each young lady now can use all items of makeup and is fully instructed on how to wear foundation, blush, and powder.  I take the time to teach them about their season, their coloring, what matches their eye color, and how to apply each stage of makeup.

We view make up as a privilege and an important part of a young girl growing into a young lady.  I don’t want to take away the excitement and joy of their first make up experience and each new one as they cross the threshold from little girl to young lady by giving it to them at too young of an age.  Each birthday from 12th to 16th has such anticipation.  By slowly adding new makeup each year, the amount of makeup they are wearing corresponds with how they have matured over the year.

I don’t want to burden them with feeling the need to “put their face on” or worrying about mussing their makeup when they are 9, 10, 11 years old, when they should be focusing on having fun with their friends, riding bikes, playing games, and enjoying the freedom of being so young.  All of the privileges and steps in the journey of growing into a young woman are not going anywhere.  There is no need to rush through such exciting and beautiful experiences.  Once you’re grown up there is no going back!

Do I think parents are wrong for letting their little girls wear makeup and nail polish?  No.  It is not my job nor my place to tell anyone how to raise their daughter(s).  What you choose for your family you do so because you know it is best and what you want for them.

We have put a lot of thought into planning out and guiding our six daughters on this adventure.  We want our daughters to realize that God made them beautiful without makeup, and we feel that making them wait and allowing new makeup over the course of their teenage years helps them to stay grounded in that.  They do not need makeup to be beautiful!

Our oldest is 16 and can wear any makeup she wants, though she usually keeps it simple with eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss.  Our second daughter will be 13 in September, and the excitement over her upcoming introduction to makeup is palpable!  I find myself in almost as much anticipation as she is!  *grin*

Have you already been through this experience with your daughter(s)?  Are you soon facing it?  What are your thoughts?  Any advice or encouragement for moms who are looking to hold off on makeup until the teen years despite the media pressure to apply makeup younger and younger?  I would love to hear!

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

Apologia Biology

We discovered the wonderful science curriculum published by Apologia several years ago.

I have shared pictures and posts of our experiments, projects, and lessons from Astronomy, Zoology (Flying Creatures), Botany, Physical Science, and General Science.

Apologia really brought it all to life and made learning about science fun for our kids, so when they contacted me about reviewing Biology, I jumped at the chance.

Our oldest, Renee (16), was the student who was blessed to be the first to use this book.   While she had a great appreciation for using a brand new book, she was not looking forward to Biology and expressed her displeasure on a pretty regular basis.

I am going to lay out this review in two ways.  First, I will share Renee’s point of view through our interview, then I will give you some of my opinions.

Interview With Renee

Me:  What was your first impression of Exploring Creation with Biology?

Renee:  It looked like it would be interesting, but I was still not sure about a lot of the gross things in Biology.

Me:  How well were the lessons laid out?

Renee:  Really well.  They weren’t too big and had a lot of illustrations and examples to go with each subject.   Some lessons built on each other, while others were independent.  It kept everything from running together.

Me:  Favorites?

Renee:  I enjoyed the little stories here and there that shared interesting experiences that highlighted the lesson.  I loved that I could do the dissections online.  The projects were a lot of fun.  My favorite was creating my own biological classifications.

Me:  What did you think of the experiments?

Renee:  They were interesting, and I liked how they showed the experiments and a lot of examples on the disc to compare to what I was doing.  They were also not too long and involved.

Me:  Overall impression?

Renee:   Cool, not gross like I expected.

Me:  Is there anything that you would change or suggest to make it better?  (I gave her 24 hours to really think about this one)

Renee:  I can’t think of anything.

Me:  If you were talking to another high school student, what would you say about Apologia Biology?

Renee:  I would tell them that it is a great Biology to fulfill their high school science needs with.  It is more than just a bunch of dry facts.  There is a lot of detail, interesting projects, and the lessons are not too long each.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mom’s opinion.

I have long had a great appreciation for the way Apologia lays out their lessons, their Bible-based approach, and the diversity and choices for projects and experiments.  There is a great lesson timeline that can be easily adjusted to your needs and schedule.

Almost every “ingredient” needed for the projects and experiments we had around the house.  There were only a handful of things that I had to purchase, and they were not expensive.

While we accomplished all of Renee’s dissections online, they do offer a full kit with everything you need.  We will be purchasing this for the rest of the kids.  They want to dissect!

There are also slides and a microscope available.  Unfortunately, we had to depend on the internet and the disc that goes with this curriculum to see all of the slide info.   Our microscope broke and I have not yet been able to replace it.  This goes to show that it is not imperative, but being able to use the microscope and check things out for yourself does do a lot to bring the lesson to life.  A new microscope is high on my list of homeschooling items to purchase!

The teacher’s manual (Solutions and Tests book) is full of valuable information for keeping the parent/ teacher up to speed and fully informed.  There are online resources and support for everything in these books.  Love!

Does it seem like I am gushing a bit?  I am!  Over the past 12 years of educating my children at home I have tried many different science curriculum, but Apologia has withstood the test and rigors of our family’s needs and standards.  I have yet to be dissappointed in any book from Apologia I have used.

JUST SO YOU KNOW:  In exchange for a full and honest review I received the Exploring Creation with Biology including, the student book, the solutions book, the test manual, and the computer disc.  My positive review is from our experiences while using this curriculum!  If I didn’t like, I would let you know.

Have any questions for me?  For Renee?  Ask away and we will answer!

All for the glory of God,

~Rhen 

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Favorite Thrift Store Finds- January

Yes, shopping thrift stores is a great way to save money and keep your budget under control, but I enjoy the thrill of the hunt!  *wink*  Finding a treasure, a diamond in the rough, amongst a bunch of junk, is more than worth the time.

Here are my favorite finds for January.

I have been on the hunt for an adorable coat for my sweet Susannah.  She has a coat that is just fine for wearing outside to play in but not for going out in public.  I happened upon a gorgeous, chocolatey-brown Rothschild coat for less than $4.00!  Yes! Score for this thrifty momma!   I also found this adorable skirt.  It has a little gold thread running throughout, and it adds a touch of sparkle.

We had two great finds for Renee, both under $6.00 each.  The first is a black wool jacket that is gathered at the waist.  I love it when she wears it with a silky scarf tucked under the collar and flowing down the front.

The second is an absolutely gorgeous blue suede blazer with a lovely detail.  The kicker?  It is a brand new jacket with the original tag still on it.  That tag read $79.99.  Booyah!

Some women love shoes, while others have a thing for jewelry, and still others for purses and different bags, I have a little thing for jackets and blazers.  I am always on the lookout for something that is suede, loaded with personality, or just a little piece of eye candy.  *grin*

The warmth of this burnt orange suede blazer looks fantastic with my cream colored shirt, blue jeans, cowboy boots, and some simple drop earrings.

My “fun find” was this lap harp I discovered buried under a bunch of kitchen odds and ends.  It is missing one string (easily replaceable), and it was handmade in Romania (how cool is that!).  We are a music family who greatly enjoys finding and learning to play new instruments.  After our trip this fall to Fort Toulouse’s Pioneer Days introduced us to a fantastic character who beautifully played a large version of a lap harp, I had to snatch it up ($3.00)!

My January finds also include a few Van Heusen shirts in pristine condition for Noah, a couple of shirts for myself, several pairs of blue jeans for the kids, and a small tablecloth.

I don’t usually shop for myself, but I recently accomplished a pretty aggressive purge of my clothing, getting rid of items I never wear, I have lost too much weight to wear, aren’t my colors, or have become worn out.  I thoroughly enjoy putting together complete outfits that cost me very little.  Not to mention, the vintage items I find in the thrift stores totally fits my classic yet bohemian style.

How about you?  Do “hunt” through thrift stores?  Do you enjoy finding treasures for next to nothing?

God bless,

~Rhen

You Capture! ~Shoes~

My boys!
I will often find Israel (21months) tromping through the house wearing Noah’s (14) shoes. He can barely make it 3 steps before he is picking himself up from the floor…again.
Yet, it seems as though it wasn’t that long ago that I was watching Noah do the same thing with his Dad’s shoes.
I didn’t think Noah would ever grow in to those shoes that squeaked and clumped across the floor as his baby feet tried so hard to walk just like Daddy.

Now, my oldest boy is no longer a boy, rather he is grown enough to wear the same size shoe as his Dad. When did he grow so much? When did he mature from a little blonde haired, adventurous whirlwind into a young man?

As watch Israel’s toddler legs struggle to keep up with his older brother, I see a little man who is just as determined to take on this world, even if it means doing it with just one shoe!

This post is linked up with Beth’s You Capture! photo challenge.

Ahhhh, the smell of an apple orchard in the fall.

What screams homeschooling in the fall better than a field trip to an apple orchard?  Nothing, I tell you, nothing!  *Warning*  I have lots of pictures to share!

Aren’t the Arkansas Black apples beautiful?  They become almost black with a hint of deep red when they are ready to be eaten and enjoyed.

Our fantastically fall field trip (say that five times fast) took us to Mountain View Orchards where we were warmly greeted by a father/ son team.  They were extremely knowledgable, very capable in sharing that information with kids of a wide variety of ages, and they were wonderfully generous with their apples and their time.

Did I mention they were brave?  They let us loose on their apple orchard!  *grin*  Well, actually, the kids were well behaved.  The adults, on the other hand… just kidding.  We had a great time!

It is not always easy to find a field trip that will appeal to Littles, Middles, and Bigs.  Sometimes, if the field trip is fitting for the older kids, then the information  that is being shared is over the heads of the Littles.

Then there are times that whatever adventure we are on fits the younger children, but it is completely boring for the older ones.  Not so with an apple orchard!  Be still my homeschooling heart!

The bouncing bumpy tractor ride back to area of the orchard where we picked wasn’t too long and gave the kids an opportunity to plan their apple-picking strategies with their friends.

The question/ answer period gave a lot of new information and knowledge to our older children, yet wasn’t so long that our Littles grew restless.  The time and energy we spent picking and enjoying the apple orchard took just long enough for the bigger kids to get hands-on with some of their new knowledge, but it didn’t tire the Littles out to the point of whininess.  *love*

The children were paired up, I prefer to pair a bigger kid or two with a little one, and given a box to fill with apples.  That day we filled multiple boxes with Golden Delicious, that is, whatever apples the children didn’t eat while picking.  I told you, the father/ son team was generous!

My favorite shot of the day?  This one.

This is Renee’s sweet, sweet friend, Arianna, as she toted Israel’s not-so-light tush around the apple orchard.  My little man had an apple in each hand.  He would take a bite of one apple and then switch his attention to the second one.  He consumed every bit of both apples.

We even brought in grandparent reinforcements for those apples that were way up there in the trees.  Reach!

Everyone, wave to Paige and her sweet little guy, Gabriel.  Israel and Gabriel hang out together every Sunday at church.  The cuteness is almost unbearable.

Our bounty from the day was enough to fill my counter and keep me busy canning, dehydrating, and freezing fruit for days!

There was much making of pear sauce and Foo.  Emily Grace was my right hand girl.

Our pantry has added many quarts of pear sauce, 6 pints of Foo, and 6 quarts of dehydrated apples.  These will be yummy and a reminder of warm weather and the sweet smell of the apple orchard when we are in the midst of winter.

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I shared with you earlier this week that our family’s schedule is becoming a little overfilled and things will be a little crazier than usual.  In addition to my fill sensor going on out my washing machine (which means no washer for about 3 days), we are moving!  We have been extraordinarily blessed to have found a different house to rent for the time being.  There will be more details and pictures coming soon.  Until then, I am up to my eyeballs with packing and cleaning and preparing to move in a week and a half.  Wow!

It is a good thing we school year round and are so far ahead.  Taking a couple of weeks off to get moved isn’t a big deal at all.   Getting a family of ten packed and ready in about ten days, that, my friends, is a big deal.  Pray for me!  *wink*

God bless,

~Rhen