the Superhero couple





When your names are Lois and Lane, how can you be called anything else but a Superhero couple?  And they truly are!  This month, my uncle and aunt, Lane and Lois Zachary, celebrate their 50th anniversary.  This is one of those couples that have done more than any of us will every know this side of heaven.  But I’m sure that when we get to heaven there will be a long line of people wanting to say to these two precious people, “You made a difference in my life.”  Then maybe we’ll all finally have a better picture of the time, effort, love, and care that they have poured into people.

They have lived in many places.  Lane has ministered in many churches.  Lois has taught in many schools.  And they have walked through life with many people.  But most of all, they have loved the Lord and loved each other.  Happy 50th anniversary, Lane and Lois!  You guys really are Superheroes.

evidence that I am a total school nerd

And proud of it!  When people get some free time, there are many options available to them.  They can catch a movie, get ice cream, go for a walk, whatever.  But when I had some time to myself the other night, do you think I chose any of those options?  Oh no!  I went to Barnes and Noble Bookstore.  And I didn’t even sit in the cafe with a cool drink and my iPad.  Instead, I roamed the children’s department and used my smartphone to take pictures of possible books to buy for homeschooling.  I know what you’re thinking:  totally nerdy!  And you’re right.  What can I say?  I just can’t help it.  I don’t even think there is a cure for this. It’s just something I’m going to have to learn to deal with for the rest of my life.

When it was time for the store to close, I took a deep breath and said goodbye to the books.  Then I calmly walked out to the parking lot and went home.  I didn’t even buy one book!  No one has ever accused me of being a a big spender, that’s for sure.  I guess that spending quality time with books was enough for me that time.  All I took with me were some more ideas and a pictorial list of resources that we might use (or might not use).  Spending time among all those books was relaxing for me, but also exhilarating at the same time.  That’s just how it works for me.  Rather than fight it, I embrace my nerdiness!  It’s who I am!  And in about a month, I’ll probably come back and do it all over again.  What can I say?  I just can’t help it.

A science supplement.  We're doing earth science this year.

A science supplement. We’re doing earth science this year.

Art appreciation

Art appreciation

More art appreciation

More art appreciation

Even more art appreciation

Even more art appreciation

story starters & writing prompts

story starters & writing prompts

Possible stocking stuffers:  bookmarks with a built in timer!  Genius!

Possible stocking stuffers: bookmarks with a built in timer! Genius!


ride along

Brent has done a whole bunch of traveling this summer here, there, and everywhere.  I’m glad that he gets to share some of his church planting knowledge with other pastors.  I mean, if I was pastoring a church, I would want to hear him speak, that’s for sure.  But after all that time out of town, there comes a point where I say, “OK, that’s enough for now.”  And at this time in the summer, we have reached that point.  And Brent, thank goodness, never argues about it.  So when it was time for Brent to have some out-of-town meetings (again!), I just said, “Ok.  But I’m coming along.”  And so I did.  Simple as that.  

Last week’s trip was a church development day in Salem that the whole church staff attended.  Well, the church staff plus me.  Then this week there was a church planting meeting, again in Salem, and a visit with some friends in Portland who are thinking about starting a church.  This time it was Brent . . . and the wife and kids!  Family road trip!  Doesn’t everybody take ride alongs with their Dad when he goes out of town?  This is how Brent and I see it: our kids share their dad with the rest of world a lot.  I would say, more than you’re average kid.  So we feel like it’s important that they have times when they absolutely don’t have share.  And if that means there are impromptu road trips, then we’re doing it!

On another note, we had a great time with our friends, Steve and Pam, in Portland.  They have such a burden for their neighborhood.  They know every street, every nook, every cranny.  We’re excited to see what God has in store for them in the coming days.  Plus their just fun to be with.  We loved walking around the city with them, taking in some good food and shopping, and dreaming about what God would have them do there.   

  Happy road-tripping!

The kids with Pam.

The kids with Pam.

Some shopping fun.  Lauren is trying to photobomb this shot.

Some shopping fun. Lauren is trying to photobomb this shot.

backyard party



This week we hosted the music and tech teams from church for a bbq in the backyard.  The weather cooperated, there was almost enough space on the street for everybody’s cars, and we had a great time relaxing together.  We packed everybody in the house and backyard and just had a great time hanging out.  And this wasn’t even everybody from the teams.  We were missing a few families.

It’s a lot of fun for Brent and me to look at these amazing teams of people that God has given us.  We remember well the beginning days of Mission Church when the music team was about 3 people and the tech team was about 1 person.  My oh my, how times have changed!  We don’t have to look hard to see God’s blessing and favor.  He has been faithful beyond what we deserve and we are grateful.  Amen!




what’s in the basket?

After #3, new art, more color, less clutter

Not just for decoration, there’s a lot of stuff hiding in there!


Last week I posted about reorganizing our school stuff in the hallway, and then explained in GREAT DETAIL about what was on the bookshelf.  Congratulations if you made it all the way through that post.  It was kind of a marathon.  In fact, it was so long that I never showed you the rest of the reorganization:  the basket.  So here is the much shorter follow up to tell you what kind of stuff I’m hiding in the basket.



On top of the basket is one piece of our growing collection of old soda crates.  It’s holding some frequently used supplies.  There is a jar of geometric blocks that the kids play with a lot when I’m reading aloud to them.  There are containers and boxes filled with the typical school stuff: pencils, colored pencils, scissors, etc.  There’s also a stapler that you can’t see and a box of markers.  This crate will probably get reorganized a few times before school starts in September, but it’s pretty good for now.




Now for the basket.  Everything in the basket falls into one of three categories:  Binders of kids’ work from past years that we want to save, curriculum that we will use someday but not this year, and writing portfolios.  I’m not a big saver so this stuff will probably also get a few more edits, but I’m glad to have most of it in one place.  Someday I’ll show you what we have in the portfolios so far. and the beautiful quiet book that Emma got for her first birthday (just cannot get rid of that!).  Each child has played many hours of their early childhood with that book.  So there you have it.  The short and sweet look at the hallway basket.  If I find something else to organize, I’ll let you know.  And now the hallway tour is complete.


a fun find for school

When it comes to science, you can study one topic in depth all year long.  But sometimes, it’s good to mix it up a little bit and do something just for the interest and fun of it.  The Homeschool Scientist makes a monthly science calendar, complete with links, that can be downloaded to explore all kinds of cool science topics.  If you need a break from the regularly schedules science plan, just say, “What does the calendar say?” and do some exploring.  Have fun! Click on the image below to link to the Science Calendar. Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 9.38.30 PM

food for thought

On a mother’s influence on character:

There are, it is true, innumerable causes incessantly operating in the formation of character. A mother’s influence is by no means the only influence which is exerted. Still it may be the most powerful; for, with God’s ordinary blessing, it may form in the youthful mind the habits, and implant the principles, to which other influences are to give permanency and vigor.

John S.C. Abbott
The Mother at Home

anatomy of a homeschool bookcase

As someone who is addicted to books, I love-love-love looking at what people have on the shelves of their bookcases.  And as a homeschool mama, I also love to check out how others organize their school resources.  Schooling always brings lots of opportunity for decision making.  What subjects will we cover?  What are my expectations for each child?  What curriculum should we use?  Or should we use a prepackaged curriculum at all?  Which resources should I give away?  Which resources should I keep?  What is worth my investment?

I find that looking at what other people have done and how they do it helps me to make more informed decisions about what to do.  Plus, I’m just curious and interested in what people are doing.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s true nonetheless.  So here is the breakdown of each shelf on the bookcase.

At the top, there is a basket filled with paperbacks of The Chronicles of Narnia with a reference book about the whole series.  Experiencing everything about Narnia is a rite of passage in our family.  There are also a few jars of shell and rock collections just for fun.



The top shelf isn’t very tall so it holds mostly paperback children’s novels plus a few science books including Anne of Green Gables, Mandie, and Christian Liberty Nature Readers.  There is also a stack of high school level literature that I’m saving for the future.



The next shelf is a lot taller, so it has more “teacher books” smushed in there.  There is no particular theme or topic to this group of books.  I just started putting books in that are of the same height so it will look orderly when I walk by it about twenty or thirty times a day.  There are books about all kinds of things:  history, poetry, math, nature journals, language arts, etc.  The stack on the side is mostly Life of Fred books.  This is the math curriculum we use and I only kept out the levels we’ll be using this year.  (I still have to order the advanced algebra book.)



The “I’m a Pepper” old school lunchbox isn’t there just for decoration.  Inside, there are all the supplies we need for our history timelines.  The pictures are from our student notebooks of A Living Hisotry of our World.  We liked this curriculum a lot, so we’re going for it again this fall with volume 2.  Each child keeps there timeline entries on a metal ring.  Each card has a picture on one side and a student-written summary on the other.



Next shelf: baskets!  I was pretty stoked to find three matching baskets at Goodwill that would fit well on the shelves.  It just makes my teacher heart happy!  The left basket is full of history and geography resources.  Some are for this year, some are for future years.  In the middle is a jar of unifix cubes.  These are my favorite math manipulative of all time.  They can be used for counting, patterns, measuring, or just fun play.  They’re not too big to take up a lot of space, but big enough to be handled by little hands.  And I have found them to be a lifesaver when it comes to learning place value.  I would’t dream of teaching elementary math without them.  And the basket on the right is for science.  At least science books.  Other science tools have been stashed away, out of sight, in an undisclosed location.  I could tell you where they are, but then I’d have to kill you.  No, I’m kidding!  But seriously, they are stashed away in a nearby closet.



Moving on, we have our hardback set of The Chronicles of Narnia.  A treasure indeed!  The glass containers store everyday supplies like erasers, scissors, glue, tape, and pencil sharpeners.  We don’t have a designated container for each type of supply.  It all just gets thrown together.  If everything ends up inside a container and not spread out on the floor, I’m happy.  The other books are mostly fiction that will end up on the kids’ reading lists.  Each child reads for an hour every day, and this year I’m hoping to document all of that reading much better than I have in the past.  Speaking of reading, now that my youngest child is starting 3rd grade, I don’t have those cute little beginning reader books anymore.  It’s kind of sad so see that stage of books gone.  I loved listening to my kids read those little books.  Oh the memories!



We made it to the last shelf!  There is a lot of gathering of odds and ends going on here.  Folders, spiral notebooks, handwriting paper, files, and a few teacher books.  The basket in the middle holds our picture books from my favorite curriculum of all time, Five in a Row.  This was the core curriculum of our early elementary years.  We have read, discussed, and enjoyed these books so much that I simply cannot get rid of them.  This may sound corny, but they are like our friends.  There are a lot of memories on the pages of those books!  I loved that we learned this way: snuggled on the couch with a good book and lots of questions and conversation.  Anyway, these books are treasures to me and I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them.  Sometimes the kids like to read through them just for fun, too.

IMG_1607 IMG_1608


There you have it!  The exhaustive tour of our homeschool bookcase.  Every year of schooling is different so I’m sure the shelves will look different every year too.  No, I didn’t forget the crate and basket right next to the bookcase.  But this post is already pretty long, so we’ll visit that other stuff in a few days.  Let’s hope that this organizing kick that I’m on won’t stop abruptly, but will continue on to other things in the house that need it.  Now where are those Legos?

bookcase before and after

With a new school year coming in a little over a month, all teachers are in planning mode, even we homeschoolers.  We don’t have a dedicated schoolroom in our house, but the upstairs hallway has been delegated as the place where most of our schoolbooks and supplies are stored.  This week I was able to take some time to edit and organize the space.  There will probably be some more minor changes once school starts in September, but I’m pretty happy with it right now.  For now, here are a few before photos and a few after photos too.  It’s not a complete turnaround, but enough of a change to get me motivated for the coming school year.

before #1

before #1

before #2

before #2

ta-da!  After #1

ta-da! After #1

After #2, the organized bookcase

After #2, the organized bookcase

After #3, new art, more color, less clutter

After #3, new art, more color, less clutter

New here comes the fun part.  I joke with Brent all the time about these blog posts.  I know that he sees them and at least looks at the title and maybe some of the pictures.  But I’m pretty sure that he rarely actually reads these things to the end.  Please understand, it doesn’t bother me.  It just gives me something to tease him about.  So now I’m writing this down here at the bottom of the post to see if he actually notices that this paragraph is about him!  Shhh!  Don’t tell!  We’ll all find out if he made it through the whole thing if he leaves a comment.  What do you think?  Will he make it all the way to the end?  How many days before that happens?  We’ll see!