Power Word Resolutions

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UntitledI have never been good at making and keeping New Year resolutions. However, I do enjoy spending some time reflecting on the previous year, and almost always feel the need to make resolutions- most of which are unrealistic or unattainable for some reason. Therefore, I set myself (and by extension my family) up for failure before the New Year ever starts. So for 2018, I decided I needed to do something different. I read this fantastic article about ditching traditional task orientated resolutions and instead choosing a power word/phrase. Roy Cohen, a career coach and author, explains the difference in the article, “Resolutions feel like an enormous burden and are a guilty reminder when we occasionally fall off the wagon. When they are grand gestures, they are likely to be a challenge to keep. On the other hand, a single word evokes a state of mind. It is the equivalent of a mantra with the intention of focusing on key themes that motivate us.”

After some reflection, I decided that it would be best to look at individual sections of my life and pick multiple power words. So, with that in mind, I decided to pick power words for the following: Homeschooling, Family Life, Marriage, Homemaking, Writing, and Spirituality.

HOMESCHOOLING: I currently homeschool my three oldest children, and we are in our 5th year of homeschooling. You would think that at this point I would have schooling down to a science. However, the truth is homeschooling is an ever-evolving thing. This past fall, I had grand visions of an organized planned out classical education. I love the ideas behind a classical education, and in the past, we have tried it. Foolishly, I decided to try it again…forgetting that while I love the idea of a classical education, my children don’t like the idea or fit it well. My kids do much better with a hands-on unschooling approach. So, as the new year starts, we are returning to what I know works for us. Formal schooling in reading and math only and unschooling everything else. So the power word for homeschooling in 2018 is going to be APPRECIATE. I am going to focus on appreciating who my kids are. I am going to stick with the approach that works for us. I am not going to try and force my kids to conform to educational principals that don’t work for them. I am going to appreciate that they are individuals and let them learn how they learn. I believe by focusing on the word APPRECIATE that our homeschooling in 2018 will be more successful and enjoyable for everyone.

FAMILY LIFE: As a stay at home mom and wife, my family is my top priority. I love being a stay at home, mom/wife. Nothing makes me happier than spending quality time with my family. However, let’s be honest, family life isn’t always roses and sunshine. Sometimes, it is downright awful- kids misbehave, spouses have bad days, etcetera. It can be easy to get caught up in the stresses of life, to lose your focus and feel stagnate as a family- to forget to find the joy in the mundane. This is why our family is going to have two power word for 2018 that go together- SEEK ENJOYMENT. As a family, I want us to find joy in all parts of our family life. I want us to enjoy spending time with each other whether we are doing something exciting like going to the Lego Discovery Center in Atlanta, GA or having a simple movie night at home. I want us to have a vibrant and active family life. I want my kids to look back on their childhoods and smile from memories.

MARRIAGE: In December, Mark and I attended my childhood best friend’s wedding. It was three nights and four days of just us because the wedding was kid free. My aunt kept the boys for us. It is the first real trip, Mark and I have ever taken without our children. Mark and I had a fantastic time together and got to reconnect together as a couple. I want to capitalize on the reconnecting we did on the trip. So, with that in mind, the power word I have chosen is RECONNECT. We will focus on reconnecting as a couple- making it a priority to spend quality times together and doing little things for each other. I am also wanting to make date nights out a thing that happens regularly, now that my kids are finally old enough that I feel comfortable leaving them with a babysitter, something I have struggled with in the past. My aunt has also offered to take the kids again this summer so that Mark and I can make another trip just the two of us.

HOMEMAKING: My power word for this section of my life is DELEGATE. I am not good at delegating. I tend to do everything on my own. For years that was okay, but now with my medical issues, I no longer have the physical stamina to take care/keep the house all on my own. I know that I am doing my boys (or my future daughter-in-laws!) any favors by not making sure they know how to do necessary household chores. With all of that in mind, I am working on delegating household chores and expecting them to help out around the house. I am also giving each of the boys their own chores. Over the past month, as a family, we have worked on deep cleaning individual rooms of the house. Now that these rooms are clean, the goal is to keep them maintained by tidying daily so that the house is always tidy and not continually falling into messy chaos. My biggest hope with delegating and involving everyone in the housework is that when I am knocked out of commission by pain flares that the house won’t fall apart without me.

WRITING: DILIGENT is my power word choice. Now that I have finished my degree, I have time to devote to my writing. I am currently working on a novel. My goal is to have the first draft completed by the end of August. To meet this goal, I have to be diligent and write daily. I have to power through writer blocks and make writing a priority.

SPIRITUALITY: 2017 was a hard year spirituality-wise. I ended up having a crisis of faith due to my medical issues. While I did not doubt God’s existence, I struggled to find the point to believe in him- to pray and attend Mass. I questioned his love for me because of the crosses I have been given in the form of chronic pain. I felt that God was punishing me for the sins of my parents. It seemed pointless and hopeless to have a spiritual life. That crisis of faith touched my whole family, and we stopped praying together very often and by the end of the year, we were rarely attending Mass. I don’t want that for my family. I want to have an abundant spiritual life- both as an individual, as part of a couple, and as part of a family. With that in mind, I picked two power words for the category of spirituality, and they are FIND and EMBRACE. I want to find my faith again and embrace it. I want to bring spirituality and faith back into my marriage and our family life.

As January comes to an end, I am happy to say that 2018 is off to a good start. Power words are working much better than task orientated goals. I am looking forward to how the words APPRECIATE, SEEK ENJOYMENT, RECONNECT, DELEGATE, DILIGENT, FIND, and EMBRACE are going to enhance my life and the lives of my family this year. Did you make any New Year resolutions or did you pick a word as I did? What did you choose to do and how is the first month going for you and yours?

Ancient Rome Book List

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Our first history unit this year is Ancient Rome. My sons really enjoyed Ancient Egypt; so they wanted to learn about other ancient civilizations. As usually our books are borrowed from the library. Here is our book list.

- You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Roman Gladiator by John Malam
-Gladiators and the Story of the Colosseum by Dr. Nicholas Saunders
-Sightseers Essential Travel Guides to the Past Ancient Rome by Jonathan Stroud
You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Roman Soldier by David Stewart
- Fierce Fighters Gladiators and Roman Soldiers by Charlotte Guillain (This is an early reader)
100 Things You Should Know About Ancient Rome by Fiona Macdonald
Metropolis Roman Town by Hazel Martell and Mark Bergin
How Would You Survive as an Ancient Roman by Anita Ganeri
Terrible Tales of Ancient Rome by Clare Hibbert

Ancient Egypt Booklist and Activities

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We finished off our first grade year with a unit on Ancient Egypt. We spent about 3 months really diving into Ancient Egypt. Paul was absolutely fascinated by the subject. So, I thought I would share our favorite resources. Most of them we checked out from the library.

Non-Fiction Books

You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Eqyptain Mummy! : Distuging Things You’d Rather Not KNow by David Stewart

You Wouldn’t Want to Be Tutankhamen!: A Mummy Who Really Got Meddled With by David Stewart

You Wouldn’t Want to Be Cursed by King Tut!: A Mysterious Death You’d Rather Avoid by Jacqueline Morley

You Wouldn’t Want to Be Cleopatra!: An Eqyptian Ruler You’d Rather Not Be by Jim Pipe

You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pyramid Builder!: A Hazardous Job You’d Rather Not Have by Jacqueline Morley

How Would You Survive as an Ancient Egyptian by Jacqueline Morley

DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient Egypt by George Hart (the only book we bought)

Fiction Picture Books

Miu and the Pharaoh by Sally Wallace-Jones

The Little Hippo: A Children’s Book Inspired by Egyptian Art by Geraldine Elschner

Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile by Tomie dePaola (Antonio’s favorite. He liked it so much I bought him his own copy)

Bill and Pete to the Rescue by Tomie dePaola (I also bought Antonio a copy of this one)

The Scarab’s Secret by Nick Would

Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs by James Rumford.


Egyptian Treasures Mummies and Myths by Jim Weiss

Building Pharaoh’s Chariot (Documentary we found on Netflix)

Virtual Field Trip of Pyramids

Activities: Sadly, while we did a number of hands of activities I did a very poor job taking photos of them.

Step Pryamids built out of legos

Cat Mummy Statues

Egyptian Collars




1-8th Grade History for under $200 ($25 per year!)

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I had grand plans of teaching history using a  laid out curriculum; that utilized a classical approach. I had researched a ton of curriculum options and settled on one that came with a high cost of several hundred dollars a year. It was suppose to be perfect. I ordered the first unit and quickly realized when I tried to implement it that it wasn’t going to work for us. It was to much and frankly boring. It didn’t keep Paul’s interest. He wasn’t interested in learning about things chronologically. He didn’t want the boring stuff. He wanted to pick a subject that interested him and dive in.  So, we promptly threw in the towel on our fancy expensive curriculum and decided to go with child led unit studies.

In teaching this way our biggest asset is our local library. I let Paul pick a topic and than we go on to the library catalog and start reserving books. Once, they have all arrived (our library is very small; so we rely pretty heavily on inter-library loans.) we go and pick them up. I use pinterest to assembly a list of hands on activities Paul can pick from. We normally do around 5 activities per topic. I try to find at least one field trip in our area that ties in. We will also do virtual field trips via the internet. I can normally find a couple good documentaries or movies on netflix as well.

However, I do have a couple materials that in my opinion are worth investing in. They are materials that can be used over and over; regardless what historical topic you are studying. They can all be purchased for under $200 and will serve you all the way through eight grade. When used in conjunction with the library and internet they help you provide your child with a quality eduction in history. (They could even be used through high school either with a curriculum or continue to be used with unit studies). They are the following:

I bought two poster frames from Walmart ($15 each) to put the maps in to make them easier to use and keep them looking nice.

The other thing is a timeline. I think a timeline is so important for children because it helps them see how history builds on itself. It helps them see the relation between people and events. As we study each topic we add relative events and people to our timeline using figures from the timeline figure collection I listed above. Now, there are timelines you can buy to hang on your wall (like this) but I was to cheap for that. So, what I did was get some painters tape and make my own. I added dates to the tape and that is our timeline. Here is a photo; so you can see what I mean. It’s worked out really well for us and cost me under $5.  So, what is your favorite product for teaching history?


Learning through TV shows and Movies

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We are big fans of fun educational videos in our house. Videos aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you have a very visual learner like a couple of my boys are than maybe the following list will help you. Here are some of our very favorites. Some of them we’ve bought and others we enjoy via Netflix or checking out from the library.

LeapFrog Learning Videos: These videos have long been favorites with our crew when they are toddlers and preschoolers. These videos are a great way to help with ABC’s, numbers, shapes, phonics and other basic early learning skills. We watch them on Netflix but if you wanted to buy them they can be found at Amazon.

Magic School Bus: I bought the complete series off of Amazon and we love pairing them with the books. My boys (and even I) have learned a ton about a wide variety of science topics from watching them.

Wild Kratts: Available on Netflix you can also purchase collections of episodes very inexpensively on Amazon. (Makes a great gift!). We bought the Wild Kratts: Wildest Animal Adventures from Amazon. Paul has learned so much about animals from this show that the last time we were at the zoo he gave the zookeeper sitting next to the cheetah exhibit a lecture on cheetahs. The zookeeper was blown away by all the information Paul knew.

Bill Nye the Science Guy: I personally kind of hate him. He brings back unpleasant memories of being forced to watch him when I was in school as a kid. (I would have rather been reading) but we check out his videos from the library and the kids enjoy them.

Liberty Kids: I can’t recommend this series enough for early elementary age kids studying the American Revolution. It’s an incredibly accurate cartoon series. We bought ours off of Amazon for $5. I have heard that you can find them on youtube as well.

Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego: This is a fun way to learn about different geographical places.  The complete series can be order here on Amazon.

Animated Hero Classic Series: We check this out from the library. A series of 20 biographical that are typically 30-40 minutes long. They have videos about people like George Washington, Harriet Tubman, The Wright Brothers, etc. The movies can be ordered on Amazon. However, if you want to order them the best value I have found is directly from the company Nest Learning that produces the movies. We have not watched any of the bible movies.

I recently came across this blog post that has a great list of movies and documentaries on Netflix that can be used with Story of the World. Even if you don’t use Story of the World (we don’t) it is a great list!

PBS shows like Sid the Science Kid, Word Girl and Super Why are great educational shows for kids. They aren’t my personal favorites but kids can still learn a lot from them. They are readily available on netflix or on PBS.

I also came across the website Teach With Movies. I haven’t used it yet because it is mostly geared movies for kids older than mine but it has some good content on it and I’ve bookmarked it for the future.

What are you favorite educational movies or tv shows for kids?

Called to Homeschool

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I have wanted to homeschool for as long as I can remember. I knew I would homeschool my children long before I met Mark and they were even a thought; much less a reality. I wasn’t sure how my future husband would feel about it but I knew how I felt about it. (Image how tickled pink I was when I found out Mark was homeschooled and supportive of it!) I knew in my heart that I could give my children a better education than they could ever get in the public schools.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think public schools are inherently bad. There are some great schools out there and some amazing teachers. I spent my entire education k-12 in the public school system and I got a pretty good education. I also was privileged to attended excellent rated schools. However, good my education may have been it certainly lacked in some areas. For example I have never studied history past World War II. I know nothing about the Korean War, Vietnam, etc. When I was in high school and taking American Government my teacher was more concerned with talking football (he was a coach) then teaching us. I can remember sitting in second grade listening to the OJ Simpson verdict coming in. Why a bunch of second graders were listening to the coverage of a murder trial is mind boggling to me.

I was researching homeschool philosophies, curriculum and models when I was still pregnant with Paul. I have been planning for his education since he was in the womb. I’ve read extensively on Montessori, Waldorf, Holt and Charlotte Mason. I’ve studied and weighed the merits of eclectic, unschooling, classical and unit based educations.

Basically, I have been impatiently waiting for him to be school age. As much as I have loved babyhood, toddlerhood and the preschool years I can’t wait to start this new adventure with him. I also know it isn’t going to be easy. We will surely hit some bumps along the way and I am sure there will be days when I want to throw up my hands and quit. I will want to ship him off to the nearest public school. However, I also in my heart and soul that God has called me to be a home educator and take responsibility alongside Mark to educate our children; instead of relying on the public school system to. It is because I know this that when things get tough I know I can turn to God and he’ll help us through them.

“In fact it must never be forgotten that the subject of Christian education is man whole and entire, soul united to body in unity of nature, with all his faculties natural and supernatural, such as right reason and revelation show him to be…”  - His Holiness Pope Pius XI, “Divini lllius Magistri,” 1929