Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bible Basics: Creation



In this first post of our ongoing Bible Basics series - simple Bible lessons for toddlers - we'll be starting at the beginning.  A very good place to start.  :)

CREATION 
Genesis 1

Memory Verse
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  -Genesis 1:1

 
Lesson Focus
God created the earth and everything in it.


Project
Creation story book 

Materials
- Construction paper, 2 pieces plus extra

- Markers or crayons
- Scissors
- Glue
 
Directions
1. Fold two pieces of construction paper in half so form a small booklet.  Write the memory verse on the front cover.
2. Draw pictures or help your child draw/color pictures that represent the different days of creation.  Each inside page will represent one day.  Add text if you like.  If you do not want to draw, print some Clip Art images from your computer or find alternate pictures for your child to color, cut, and glue.
3. Read the book together with your child and use it for review throughout the week.


How We Go Through the Lesson
1. Recite or sing memory verse.
2. Read Bible story.  We use the Beginner's Bible, but you can choose a children's story Bible or "grown-up" translation that suits you and your family.
3. Recite or sing memory verse.
4. Craft or project.  Depending on the day of the week this may be a project like the one above or it could be a coloring page or something completely different.
*Repeat the lesson almost every day.  This could mean doing it on weekdays or taking one day to work on the project, saying the memory verse together throughout the day, and reading the Bible story before bed each night.  It doesn't matter when or how, but the repetition is key for toddlers to retain the lessons presented to them.
Check out some of these projects for more ideas:
A list of posts with several different ideas on teaching Creation
Craft teaching the specific days of Creation 
One we've done before - simple Creation craft 
Another Creation book - no drawing or color involved
Yet another Creation book


Bible Basics: Introduction


For a while I've been wanting to start a series about teaching the Bible to toddlersThis is something that I am passionate about and have spent countless hours researching, writing, and preparing lessons.  I'm excited to share some of it with you!

Here on Family Abounds we already have a few toddler Bible lessons but I want to be a little more focused than what I've been posting until now.  So, while Abby and I learn through the Old Testament together in preschool this year, I will give you a view into what we do and how we do it.

I'm calling this series Bible Basics because that's exactly what it is - the basic events and ideas of the Bible put simply for little hearts and minds to begin to understand.

Each Tuesday you can stop by to find our latest lesson.  This year we'll be working through the Old Testament - Creation, The Fall, The Flood, Abraham and the Patriarchs, Kings, Prophets, and a couple of holiday-centered units for Christmas and Easter.  This particular series will set Abby up for the coming of Christ and a study in the New Testament for next year.

At some point I will probably have some posts that explain more of how I approach teaching the Bible to toddlers - some things I definitely do not teach and some things I feel strongly about including.  But I'm trying not to get too long-winded with this introductory post so I'll make sure my soapbox is well out of reach.  ;)

For now here's a quick overview of what you can expect throughout this series.

The lessons that Abby and I do are all of the following:
     Short
     Simple
     Bible-based

My goal throughout this series of lessons is to:
     Introduce Abby to who God is (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and what He is like 
     Familiarize Abby with key people and events in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible
     Introduce a few key concepts such as sin and the need for salvation

And each lesson will include the following:
     Scripture passage and corresponding children's story Bible reference
     Memory verse
     Simple and engaging craft or activity that will bring the Bible to life

This is definitely not a complete resource for Bible teaching and I do not have all of the answers.  I have gleaned ideas from many different resources and even though I've taught these lessons several times each, I always seem to find something new or better to use when it comes back around.

When applicable, I'll include links to extra craft/project ideas and other resources that have been helpful to me as I've worked through preparing these lessons.  And I'm always open to new ideas, so if you have a fun and simple way of teaching a particular story you see here, please share it in the comments!  I'm sure it will be a help not only to me, but to other readers.

Having said all of that, go ahead and check out our very first Bible Basics installment: Creation!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Cost of Feeding Our Family


We've been trying to live within a strict grocery budget for something like...our entire marriage!  I jest...a little.

For whatever reason, I have this idea that we can feed a family of six for $400/month.  It seems possible, doesn't it?  I consider ourselves to be pretty frugal when it comes to spending and we practice many ways of eating on the cheap.

We don't eat out except on a rare occasion and the only "prepared" foods we buy are cereal (Cheerios and Corn Flakes) and crackers (Ritz and Graham).  We make most things from scratch (although I'm still trying to stay on the homemade bread wagon...I seem to fall off pretty quickly each round).  We limit meals with meat to a couple times per week, buy dry beans and rice, buy in bulk when that saves money, and throw away very (and I do mean very) little food - the kids don't say that Daddies eat all the leftovers without due cause.

We also do not have any dietary restrictions that require us to pay more for our groceries.  No allergies.  No sensitivities.  No chronic illness.  It makes life easy.  Praise the Lord!

Not to mention the bazillion blogs and websites I read each month trying to glean frugal insights from others (I'll say here that I'm getting the point where everything I read is old news...and most of it we already put into practice).

$400/month seems like an attainable goal, right?

And yet we haven't met that goal in months.  In fact, it's probably been even more than a year or two since we've managed it.  I was blaming the increased prices on many grocery items (like beef and dairy) or even our own overspending.

But tonight I had an eye-opening experience.

According to the most recent FDA report (May 2013), the average cost of feeding our family (from the most frugal plan, based on ages of all individuals) should be more like this:

$719.60 / Month

According to this article, I could reduce this amount by 5% to have a more accurate estimate.  That in mind, our food bill should be more like this:

$683.62 / Month

That is a HUGE difference from what I perceived as being achievable.  Of course, I do consider that we may actually eat for less than this amount even when we're exceeding by a long shot our very limited budget.  So, I did a little number crunching (I must be a nerd because this was actually an enjoyable way to spend my Sunday evening).  Here's what I calculated:

FDA Model (Thrifty Plan, Family of 6, with 5% Reduction)
Daily Meals (Per Individual)
          Breakfast:  $0.75
          Snacks (2/day): $1.00 ($0.50/snack)
          Lunch: $1.00
          Dinner: $1.25 
Daily Meals (Whole Family)
          Breakfast:  $4.50
          Snacks (2/day):  $6.00 ($3.00/snack)
          Lunch: $6.00
          Dinner: $7.50
                    Daily Total: $24.00
                    Weekly Total: $168.00 

Chew Crew Actual Spending (Typical Weekday Meal Plan)
I did take in to account the differences in how much each person in our family eats.  Each meal was itemized by ingredient and amount of that ingredient.  For simplicity I added and averaged.  So, while Claude will definitely eat more than Jeremiah, the numbers resemble the amount of food (based on the prices we usually pay) our family actually eats.

The menu I used used reflects what we normally eat.  Because Claude packs his lunch and I do not always eat the same thing as the kids, there is quite a long list on some meals.  The cost was calculated based on the number of people and the amount per serving of each food item.

Also, the dinner I chose to calculate runs a little higher than most meals that we prepare.  However, it seems to average out throughout the month depending on what we choose to eat for lunch and dinner (the two most variable meals) and what we eat on the weekends.  Weekend meals range a bit more from the week because we are all at home and Claude is not packing his lunch.

Daily Meals (Per Individual)
          Breakfast:  $0.69
                (toast, cereal, yogurt, fruit)
          Snacks (2/day): $0.69 ($0.35/snack)
                (apple, cottage cheese, peanut butter, other fruit, crackers, cheese slices)             
          Lunch: $0.83
                (pasta salad, lentil soup, salad, PBJ, carrots, fruit)
          Dinner: $1.51
                (beef tacos, beans, rice)
Daily Meals (Whole Family)
          Breakfast:  $4.15
          Snacks (2/day):  $4.16 ($2.08/snack)
          Lunch: $4.95
          Dinner: $9.08
                    Daily Total: $22.34
                    Weekly Total: $156.38

This puts our average monthly grocery bill (and it is within a few dollars of what we actually spent in June 2013) at:

$625.52 / Month

My evaluation of this little exercise goes something like this:
1. I'm not going crazy!  Groceries really do cost more.  We're not overspending and being unwise with the resources we have.  What we're spending every month is in line with national averages for a family our size.  In fact, our monthly spending is 13% less than the unadjusted average according to the FDA.  Definitely NOT crazy.
2. I'm obviously crazy!  I am expecting, week after week, month after month, that we can pay a certain amount for groceries.  No matter how many times this number is proven unattainable, I still go back to the store (well-planned and even calculated to the penny) list in hand with the same unrealistic goal in mind.  What's the definition of insanity???  Yep...crazy.

So, there you have it, folks.  A reality check that is both freeing and frightening.

So, how much do you *try* to spend on groceries for yourself or your family each month?  How do you come out - over or under budget?
 
 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Funnies: Hmmm...

After being corrected for something, Joshua put his hand on his hip, shouted, "The circumcision!" and then ran off to play.  I was perplexed, to say the least.  And then I heard the same phrase from Abigail just a short time later.  "The circumcision!" she proclaimed as she ran through the house.  "The circumcision!" the others called after her.

Perhaps this is some type of war cry?

Since the kids don't know what circumcision is and they obviously do not know how to use it in an appropriate context, I am still scratching my head.

I guess this is what happens when you read the "grown up" Bible to kids???


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mommy Skills


Since becoming a mother, I have developed a number of useful skills.  Eating with my left hand while nursing a baby is probably one of the most frequently used, but there are others.

The list of doing [fill in the blank] while nursing grows a little bit with each baby.  So far I've managed the following (that I can remember), while nursing a baby:
          -eating
          -grocery shopping
          -cooking
          -shopping for new glasses
          -taking an older child potty
          -helping an older child get dressed
          -reading lots and lots of books

Then there is the list of things that a person can do with a baby in a sling or carrier.  At one point I remember having an infant in the wrap on front and a toddler in a hiking backpack while I finished an exercise DVD.  That was a workout!

And how about the creative ways in which you can use a stroller?  If I remember correctly, Claude and I have used our stroller for the following uses (other than transporting kids):
          -moving boxes and other misc. items from one apartment building to another
          -carting laundry to and from the laundry room
          -transporting a printer/copier down the hill from our car to our apartment
          -getting many bags of groceries from the car to the apartment

Arts and crafts also make it onto the list of Mommy Skills.  Giant posters of Bible stories, homemade finger paints, lots of drawing and coloring, and candy butterflies atop cupcakes come to mind.  Today I've added Roman Soldier Paper Dolls to my list of crafty parenting skills.

  
This little guy took about 1 1/2 hours to create.  Why I didn't just go with the mediocre printables I found for free online I do not know.  I thought I could make one that looked better.  I think I succeeded, but I could have saved a lot of time especially when I consider that this guy will probably be falling apart after two minutes of play.  Oh, well...

At least there's a photo for posterity.  :)

So, what unique, useful, or surprising skills have you developed since becoming a parent?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

For the Grandparents (because they're the ones who really want to know)


Look out!  Jeremiah is on the move and he's getting faster every day!

video


Happy 1st Birthday, Jeremiah!

Jeremiah Samuel Chew surprised us one year ago with an out of the ordinary (for me) labor about 2 weeks before his anticipated arrival.  A little denial on my part, some clear-headed evaluation on Claude's part, confirmation from the midwife at our already scheduled appointment (I think 5 cm counts as actually being in labor), a trip to Target on the way to the hospital, and we were ready to meet this little guy!
 

Jeremiah came into our family toward the end of a difficult time.  The reasons for the difficulty are complex and many, but the meaning of Jeremiah's name reminds us that the Lord heard the cry of our hearts and uplifted us in a challenging season.

          Jeremiah: Hebrew for "Yahweh has uplifted"
          Samuel: Hebrew for "God has heard" 

Jeremiah is definitely the most popular member of the crew with all three older siblings vying for his attention.  He loves watermelon, books, and Cheerios from the kitchen floor.  His current accomplishments include "talking" (if only we knew what he was saying), walking, standing on his head, and putting himself to sleep at odd times and in odd locations.


This little one has been a very joyful addition to the Chew Crew.  We can't imagine life without him!

HAPPY 1st BIRTHDAY, JEREMIAH!




Monday, July 22, 2013

On Being Humble

"He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way."  -Psalm 25:9

During Family Bible Time a few weeks ago, one of the kids prayed this prayer, "Lord Jesus, thank you for making me good at violin and piano."  And, after Dad whispered in his ear, added, "Help me to be humble.  In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Isn't it easy to thank God when things are going well and we feel like we're doing a great job at everything we attempt?  But how much more difficult is it to be humble and receive instruction?

I don't know about you, but I hate to be wrong.  I want to be sure that what I do is done right, what I think is right, and whatever decision I make is right.  I don't want to be corrected.  I don't want to be shown another way.  And I certainly do not want to be taken down from a prideful state.

And yet, humility is so important in our walk with The Lord.  The psalm above says that God "guides the humble in what is right".  If I have such a desire to be on the right track, making the right decisions, with right thinking then wouldn't it make sense for me to be humble before The Lord?

But, like our children, humility is not often my first response.  Praise The Lord for the whispers (and whacks over the head) to remind me of my need to be humble!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Funnies: Wrong Side of the Bed

ah...pretty much.
We had a grump among us this morning.  This individual will remain nameless, but I'm glad to say that he/she was able to go back to bed (a few times) in order to restart the day.  Eventually it all worked out and he/she found the right side of the bed and the rest of the day has been smooth sailing.  :)

But even with a good outcome, the start of the morning obviously made an impact on all of the kids, grumps and non-grumps alike, as they expressed in this little lunchtime conversation.

Joshua: I was a big, hungry bear when I woke up this morning.
Abby: I was a big and hungry frog!
Joshua: Well, I was a big, hungry wolf!
Hannah: I was a hungry bear and a wolf this morning!

Mom agrees.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cool as a Cucumber (or How I Sweated Out the First Day of Preschool)



It was our oldest son’s first day of preschool.  And for just one hour of actual class time it certainly was exciting, not to mention sweat-producing.  Yes, you read it…I sweated on Joshua’s first day of preschool.  Some moms might say this because they were concerned about their little guy feeling comfortable in the classroom, getting to know his teacher, and dealing with the first real separation between parent and child.  But, as a mom of three kiddos 4 years and younger, I was sweating simply because the task of getting to and from preschool felt like hard labor.

I first felt the sweat dripping as I pushed our loaded stroller up the steep hill where we park our car.  Joshua (then 4 years old) and Hannah (then 3 years old) were both very tired, so they were adding quite a bit of resistance while they held on to the stroller.  And then came the packing – kids, keys, cargo.  Packing the car looks a bit like this:  Pile everyone in, remind them a few times to buckle up, and haul Abby (then 2 years old) in to her car seat.  Then climb halfway into the back seat of a Toyota Corolla to make sure everyone is buckled properly, start the car and the air conditioning, and then work on the trunk.  Stroller, diaper bag, and special activities all must be loaded up before I could finally sit down in the driver’s seat.  Boy did that air conditioning feel heavenly!

Unpacking the car was just as tiring as packing it up.  And this particular day was a bit out of the ordinary because I needed to bring all three little guys plus an activity bag but I could NOT bring a stroller.  Ugh.  Unpacking meant that I needed to shift a few things between bags before situating the hefty load on my shoulder.  By the time I had climbed into the backseat of our Corolla for a second time – this time to unbuckle the kids – I was sweating again.  And I still had to pick up Abby and cart her on my hip up a block, around the corner, and around the preschool building.  My left bicep certainly had a workout!

Once we were inside the building I thought I might be okay but I became aware of the sweat once again while I squatted down to read Joshua a book, Abby and giant activity bag still on my hip and shoulder.  And then it continued, along with a red face, while I climbed down a tight stairway, baby, Hannah, and bag in tow.  And I’d like to say that I was cool as a cucumber after that, but with all the hefting and hauling to get everyone to the first day of preschool I knew that I’d have to do it all again in order to get everyone home.

As I walked into the fellowship hall, flushed and weighed down by a heavy load, I quickly became aware of different we were from the other families.  For starters, I was the only parent heading downstairs with a child (or two) at my side.  The rest of the parents were sans kiddos.  Their children, as I soon found out, were in their preschool classes with Joshua or having their first day of school around the corner.
At first having the girls around was a good conversation starter, but after giving their names and ages the conversations came to an abrupt end.  Very awkward.  It’s a good thing I had my the girls had their activity bag.  Having coloring books and play dough to unearth important things to do always helps in these kinds of situations.  Where is that rubber ducky, anyway?
Wait, doesn't every mom have a rubber duck her bag???

The next thing I noticed as I perused the room was something that seemed like an obvious age gap between me and the other moms.  Was it my imagination or did some of these parents look and act like they were my parents’ ages?  Don’t get me wrong, my parents are not old.  I have never thought of them as such.  But it is a little strange when you’re sitting in a room full of people who are at least a decade older than you are (and it got stranger as Hannah spent the first couple months of the school year telling everyone who would listen that I was a ripe old age of 29).  Would I ever have any credibility among these once career-driven, successful, and obviously sweat-proof women?  Needless to say the awkwardness persisted and, much to my chagrin, so did the sweat.

I was thankful once the hour was over and I could trek back upstairs, kids and cargo in tow, to see how Joshua did.  What a relief when his teacher said he did great even after the beginnings of what could have been a colossal meltdown upon me leaving the classroom.  Praise the Lord for small victories!

Good report and all kids accounted for, we headed back out into the heat.  Down the hill, around the corner, and into our little Corolla we went.  The after-school grumpiness ensued from all three kids, not just the official preschooler.  And the sweat continued as we drove home, unpacked the car, walked down the hill (screaming toddlers all walking in a neat little row along the stroller), and entered the familiar echo or our apartment building lobby.  Was it just me or was it actually getting hotter?

Lunch made all things better…almost.  And while the kids napped and rested during the afternoon, I wondered how the school year might progress.  How will we manage the getting-out-the-door routine four days a week?  How would this work in the winter time when I have to put everyone’s coats on to walk to the car, take them off to safely buckle into their seat belts, and put them back on in order to walk into the preschool building?  Would all of this hub-bub be worthwhile?

But my two most pressing questions nothing to do with logistics.  Would Joshua make any friends?  And…will I ever stop sweating?!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Snapshots: Happy Birthday Joshua!


Today we're having a blast celebrating Joshua's 6th birthday.  It is a privilege to have this little guy in our family and to see the Lord growing him up into a young man.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOSHUA!
WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!

Some interesting facts about Joshua:
When he grows up, Joshua wants to be in the military, maybe the Roman Army, the Navy Seals, or perhaps he could be a British Naval Officer.
Joshua's favorite color is pink.
His favorite food is pizza.
Joshua's favorite song is "Lay Me Down" by Chris Tomlin.
His favorite subject to study is history.
For his birthday celebration, Joshua enjoyed having his friends over and opening presents.
While he is six years old, Joshua wants to study the Roman Empire and Ancient Britian.



Ancient Rome themed party accessories aren't exactly packing the aisles at Walmart, so we tried our best to incorporate a bit of Joshua's enthusiasm for the Romans into his birthday celebration.  Not pictured is a legion of cupcakes donning Roman shields.


The kids' cards to each other always crack me up and warm my heart all in one fell swoop.  Hannah's other note to Joshua read, "I am still your frend even when you are mein to me."  There's some loyalty right there!  And a fair dose of honesty as well.  :)

Some words that describe Joshua are:
intense, exuberant, Roman soldier, funny, yeah
Any guesses on which family member used which word?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Riding Out the Rough Days


I'm not sure what it is, but I am exhausted this week.  My eyelids seem to want to shut at the most inopportune times and my patience is frayed beyond recognition.  It goes without saying that the combination is NOT GOOD!

Both yesterday and today I found myself at moments verging on despair.  With frustration and emotions that were a bit out of control, I cried out to the Lord, "Why am I so tired?!?!"  The "I can't..." statements were just about to stampede out of my mouth when He stopped me and gave me some much needed perspective.

Suddenly it became clear to me that being tired and running low on the patience I need each day is not a permanent situation.  It's also not a circumstance that requires freaking out.  It's not a crisis.  It's not the end of the world.  It's just a rough day.

And guess Who can handle my rough days?  God is so much bigger than pregnancy hormones, eyes that won't stay open, and the times I must seek forgiveness from my children for getting frustrated when I should have responded lovingly to them.  He can handle it, especially when I can't.  Praise the Lord!

You might be thinking, "Well, that's just great.  Of course God can handle the bad days.  But how do I get through them?  What am I supposed to do?"

Just ride it out.

That's right.  Ride.  It.  Out.

But not on your own strength.  Take a ride on God's grace.  Pray when you're feeling overwhelmed.  And then keep trekking along.  Use the wisdom He has given you to make changes to your day if necessary.  And then keeping going.

The apostle Paul reminds us of how to perceive our weaknesses.  Should we despair on those rough days?  Should we give up or grow angry that things aren't going like we want them to?  Should we allow our emotions (hormone-driven or not) to take over and lead us into sin?  No.  We can boast in our weaknesses - in our rough days - because they are giving us the opportunity to lean more fully on Christ.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."                         -2 Corinthians 12:9
I can't fully classify today as a rough day.  Things are going like they usually go - mostly smooth with a few choppy patches.  But I am tired and for reasons that I will attribute to pregnancy hormones and exhaustion, I could probably burst into tears at any moment.  But I will not despair.  I will keep riding out the day's ups and downs, relying on Christ's all-sufficient grace.  And I'm sure that once the day comes to an end I'll have more than one or two testimonies of God's power resting on me.

So, how do you handle rough days?  Do you give up in despair or look forward with hope?

 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Snapshots: First Day of School


Today was our first day of school for the new school year.  If you're wondering, we homeschool year round which is why it's the second week of July and we're already back.  The month break was nice, but it feels great to be into a more productive routine!

The kids dish up their own cereal for breakfast. Every. Single. Morning. Cheerios and corn flakes are great, but they do get old after a while.  So, as a special first day of school treat the kids had "special" cereal.  I think we'll make it a tradition!

Abby, with her crazy hair, enjoying snack time.

It looks like all smiles from the photos, but we did have a normal morning.  This included some grumbling, a fight, and two time outs.  But it's not really my habit to take pictures during those moments.

Even Jeremiah enjoyed the first day of school.
Well, at least he enjoyed his graham crackers!

Just so it's clear that we do more than eat during school time...  :)  Here is Hannah working on her Greek assignment - reading a book that introduces the Greek alphabet.
Surprisingly we go through everything in our scheduled time slots.  I should mark the calendar because this may be the only day that happens!
 

Friday, July 5, 2013

A New School Year, Part 3 - Pre-First Day of School

 Today's post is the last in our "Back to School Mini Series" here on Family Abounds.  Our topics have included the following:
      Part 1: Organization
      Part 2: Schedules
      Part 3: Pre-First Day of School

The idea for a Pre-First Day of School came from "Managers of Their Schools" by Steve and Teri Maxwell.  I mentioned this and another of their books on home management in yesterday's post on scheduling.

At the beginning of last year I didn't worry about preparing the kids because it was new to all of us.  We needed to jump in, get our feet wet, and start figuring out this whole homeschool thing.  This year, however, we have more to accomplish and everyone is used to the school routine, so I wanted to be able to actually get some work done on our official first day back to school.

The Maxwell's book has a lot of good suggestions for managing your homeschool and one idea that I particularly liked was that of taking a day before the first day of school - hence the Pre-First Day - to walk each child through their schedule, new subjects, and just generally acquaint everyone with this year's expectations.

We had our Pre-First Day of School on Wednesday morning.  Here's what I covered with each of the kids:

     Abigail
          -Go over school schedule
          -Talk about preschool time
          -Look over assignment folder (Abby doesn't actually have assignments, but she does have a packet of workbook pages and a phonics flash card each week.  This makes her feel like she's participating with the "big" kids in school time and it keeps her busy.)
          -Answer questions

    Hannah and Joshua
          -Go over schedule
          -Find supplies
          -Look at assignment folder
          -Walk through assignments
               *Independent Work
               -*Greek
               -*Handwriting
               -*Math
               -Spelling
               -History
               -Science
               -Writing (Joshua only)
               -Grammar (Joshua only)
          -Answer questions

After going over schedules, supplies, and assignments, I took a photo of each child.  This will be printed out and put on the outside of their 3-ring binders where I will store completed work and other special papers and projects from this year.

The kids also answered a question about what they are most looking forward to in the new school year.  Here's what they said:

Joshua, 6 years old (next week), First Grade
I am excited to do history in first grade.

Hannah, 5 years old (in October), Kindergarten
I am excited to do history and Greek in kindergarten.

Abigail, 3 years old(in September), Preschool
I am excited to do phonics in preschool.

If you're interested in knowing what curriculum and other materials we are using this year, check out this post.

In addition to what is outlined there, I have decided on Abby's preschool work.  We will focus on a toddler Bible curriculum which I wrote a few years back.  She will learn about Creation, The Fall, The Flood, The Patriarchs, The Life of Jesus, and some special units on Christmas and Easter.  Because she is showing many signs of being ready, Abby will also begin a very slow version of the phonics program that Joshua and Hannah used last year.

Our final addition to this year's academics is Koine (Biblical) Greek.  We chose a program called "Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!" by Karen Mohs.  It starts nice and slow for the kids and progresses over several levels, at which point they can continue their studies with some more challenging programs.  Their first year focuses on teaching the Greek alphabet and the sounds of each letter.  I'm excited to learn along with them!

And that, friends, is our back to school preparation.  The kids have been praying for the beginning of the school year and are all excited to be "moving up" to first grade, kindergarten, and preschool.  And I'm looking forward to joining them in the journey as they continue to learn and grow!

Whether your kids learn at home or go to school, they always need preparation for a new adventure.  How do you prepare your kids for the start of the school year?  New school supplies?  New clothes?  A special breakfast?  Or one last summer outing?

This post is linked up at Mom Tested Homeschool Blog Hop.  Hop on over for more homeschooling inspiration.