Typical Home School Day with 6 Kids

typical

Typical Homeschool Day With 6 Kids

We are frequently asked “How do you do it?”

Most of the time I answer “Day by Day.” 

 

Each of our children is so unique and they each learn in such different ways. One day of homeschooling in detail… this is going to be tough. Our home school days vary from the “sit down” school days to the “doing things” home school days. I am guessing that most people want to know about the “sit down” home school days when they ask, so that is what I will write about today.

 

Our “Sit Down” School Day Schedule:

 

6:00 am – I am a morning person. So this is the time I am awake and start setting the school day up. I love the quiet of the morning. Even when the kids start getting up, about 6:30, they will see me working at the dining room table and will understand two things:

  1. Today is a “sit down” school day
  2. Mom needs some time to get it set up

My setting up of the school day works pretty easily in the morning. What they will be studying for the year has already been prepared in the summer. What I plan on finishing this year I planned in the summer. What I know I need them to accomplish this week I have noted from the previous week’s work and so it’s pretty straight forward.

I write up the days work on a 5″ x 8″ sheet of notebook paper, I love these little notebooks. Each child has one of these written up by me that morning for a check off sheet. I list each subject and what I expect the child to accomplish for that day in that subject. At the end of the day I expect the work finished and the check off sheet returned.

Our “sit down” school day is always finished by noon. We have a life and doing “school” is only part of it. Here is a sample of what one of the lists would look like:

 

lesson

 

 

7:00 am – I am usually done getting things set up by now. Each child’s pile of books for the day is in a stack on the dining room table along with their assignment list on top for them to check off as they do each thing. I will usually review each list with each child and highlight anything I feel may be unusual or they might find interesting.

An example might be if I usually have a child only do 1/2 hour of reading and there is 1 hour listed on their sheet. The explanation might be that the child needs to finish up the reading book he is working through so his book report can be started the following day or week.

breakfast

 

8:00 am – noon – School starts around 8:00 or 8:30 on a “sit down” school day. Some kids will take their lists before that and start on maybe their reading so that their school work is finished up faster.

Chores and breakfast has been finished up before we sit down. Plans for lunch have been discussed. Kids are all dressed and have pencils and their piles of books and their lists.

 

We each take a spot at the table. Mind you it’s a BIG table.

Side note: Usually my two oldest girls do their school upstairs in their room. One is a freshman in college so she does all her work online and we review anything that she wants review at night. The other is a junior in high school and is doing courses for college online and also has a list made up for homeschool but it is a monthly list of things to accomplish. That’s the way she likes her work laid out for her and it has worked well for her for years.

At the table I usually sit at the end of the table with my 2 youngest children on either side of me. After them on either side are the next 2 older children.

They do not do all of their work sitting at the table. Their reading they usually take into the living room on a comfortable chair, whether it’s their history reading or whatever.

I don’t think they love doing “sit down” school but it’s a necessary part of our lives. We do not do sit down school 5 days a week. I think it is more like 3 days a week. The other days they are working on projects or writing plays or building drones or something that does not involve mom making a list to follow. So, when we go to do a “sit down” school day it’s not so bad, since they had their break of a day or more.

 

I do not believe that all learning comes from textbooks.

I do believe that textbooks are a tool and I use them like a tool. They do not control our lives but add something to it. They are useful but not necessarily how my children learn best.

As we are sitting around the table the children will ask questions and I will read lessons to my 7yo and we try not to be too loud so that those reading can concentrate. Everyone is trying to get finished so they can do something else. I only schedule enough work as to fill 3-4 hours.

10:00 – The kids are looking for a snack about now so I usually have them each do their spelling tests, one at a time, and once finished they grab themselves a snack. We use Spelling Power for spelling, so there is a test each day. Each word the child spells incorrectly he/she writes the word 10 times, like I said, I don’t use curriculum “as written”. When they are done writing their words, it’s off for a snack, kind of an incentive to finish up quickly.

While snacking they are still working. Snack and drink on the table at their right with books and pencils in hand. Sometimes I will ask that the drinks get finished up quickly so they don’t spill on the school books.

Something funny: Most of the time they all do the same subjects at the same time. Like math, all of the older children use Saxon math and usually there are 3 different level Saxon math books open on the table at once, the three boys. My 7yo daughter  is still using ABeka Math but will switch over to Saxon this next year or so, but her math will be out also. Not really sure why they all seem to do the same subjects together but it usually works out that way.

Is there squabbling? Of course… One child will ask another “not to say numbers out loud” the other child will say “but you are” and the first child will say that “he is not as loud as the other child”. Whatever, I remind each of them to not say numbers out loud, or if they need to say a number out loud to me, to make sure they announce “i need to say a number out loud” just in case another child is doing a calculation in their head.

It’s pretty smooth going, the children are looking forward to being finished for the day. We do have rough days but not many. This is a way of life for us after 25 years. It’s just what we do so there is not much complaining because well, what would be the point?

That’s it….

Noon – lunch and the rest of the day is theirs.

 

lunch

 

I hope this was helpful in seeing part of what we do in a “sit down” school day.

Dual Enrollment: Homeschool & College

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Dual Enrollment: Home School and College

Over our 25 years homeschooling we have had 3 children use the Dual Enrollment option so far, we have had children who also chose not to use this option. Here are some of the problems we conquered and successes we enjoyed.

 

What is Dual Enrollment? 

Dual enrollment is a program that allows high school students to enroll in college courses for credit prior to high school graduation. The courses count for both college and high school credit.

As homeschoolers this option overall has been a very fun addition to our schooling.

 

Dual Enrollment has changed over the years…

When my oldest son took dual enrollment courses in 2005 all he had to do was take the college placement tests and then take one “Intro to College Studies” course and that was it,  he was free to take 2 college courses paid for by my tax dollars and by the State Dept of Education.

Honestly, in our state notifying the State Dept of Ed that we are homeschooling is only required until a child is 16yo. so he wasn’t even registered with the state during his Dual Enrollment courses.

dual

 

That has all changed…

Our challenges with Dual Enrollment:

When my latest graduate (2016) decided to use dual enrollment it was her senior year. She hadn’t been enrolled in home schooling with the state for almost 2 years (as it was only required till she turned 16). We had her take the placement tests and talked with the college about her starting in January and planning on taking both of her free Dual Enrollment courses that spring semester.

All is going well until… there is a glitch, Dual Enrollment is now it’s own agency and has denied her enrollment. Why? No one seemed to know until mid January just when classes are about to start. At this point she has pretty much decided that she wouldn’t be able to take her courses.

We receive a call from the Dual Enrollment office. My daughter is not a registered homeschooler so she is not eligible to use the Dual Enrollment funds.

 

dual

Man alive, seriously?

We aren’t required to register them after 16yo, but she won’t budge on this point. So I call up the Home Schooling office at the State Dept of Ed and talk with them about our dilemma. They are so quick to work with us. Over the years we have maintained an excellent relationship with that office and she knew who I was by name.

The woman at the Home School office states exactly what my daughter needs to send in and it’s emailed and taken care of in less than 3 days. Her Dual Enrollment goes through and she takes her 2 college courses for high school and college credit last spring.

 

Whew…

In the process of all of this I realize that my next daughter (2018 graduate) who will be a junior will want to take Dual Enrollment courses in the Fall. So, quickly I register her again for homeschooling so that she will be a “registered” homeschooler in the Fall since she is over 16 yo when she applies for the Dual Enrollment option.

It has been an interesting process.

 

What else have we learned through this Dual Enrollment time?

  • Homeschoolers are perfect candidates for Dual Enrollment

  • It requires a great deal of self discipline, which thankfully my kids have had, to keep to a schedule that they must make themselves and follow through with the assignments on time

  • Online courses are so much more convenient for the kids to have lives and still “DO” college, they have had time to make movies and go ice skating when the rest of the family does, etc

  • It is a great way for them to get a taste of college and what it will be like

  • It is a lot more work than they thought it was going to be, they sure are used to more flexibility in their schooling times and subjects

  • The kids are not used to having to deal with the different personalities of the teachers, some really good but a couple, well, not so nice 

  • Doing the courses online there is a lot on online interaction with other classmates which seemed strange at first since they are used to doing all of their coursework alone but they easily adapted and developed an “online school person” that they were while doing the courses, it is a careful balance in learning what the limits are in sharing information online an answering the teachers questions honestly

  • The course is covered but NOT the cost of the books, so we are more careful now to look at the price of the textbook when we pick a course

  • These homeschoolers are skilled: They ACED their courses!! Homeschooling has given them the skills they needed to succeed with college courses (and in life which is another topic but way more important)

 

What courses have they taken with Dual Enrollment?

  • Intro to College Studies – 1 credit

  • English Composition 1 – 3 credits

  • Applied Math / College Math – 3 credits

  • Anatomy and Physiology – 4 credits

  • Psychology – 3 credits

  • ALL FREE

dual

 

Hope this was useful 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Middle Ages in A Homeschool Co-op

Crazy8 Homeschool Co-ops

middle-ages

So the first subject I  decided on for this Winter Spring Home school Co-op is the Middle Ages. We have done this subject previously about 3 years ago. I am using some of my previous lesson plans but I am also adding in some new stuff from the book: The Story of The World Volume 2: Middle Ages.

Our plans include studying:

  • Castles: which will also lead into studying the castles in our state and sketching them

  • Medieval Life: we will learn how to juggle as the jesters did

  • Mapping: we will be mapping out how different parts of the Middle Ages developed, such as the Roman Empire and the Spread of Islam

  • Building Castles: this is one thing we have done previously, we take lots of cardboard tubes and long boxes and create castles

  • Manuscripts: we will study what these are and then using tea we…

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Art: Relaxed Homeschool Style

art

Art as a separate subject always has seemed strange to me. This week we finished painting a backdrop for our church’s Christmas performance. We were not asked to do it, but volunteered for the job cuz it sounded like fun!

The idea is that the performers will be standing in a mall. This is a painting by my 17yo daughter. The snowman is a joke as he is eating in a Pizza shop.

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This is one by my 15yo son. He had so much fun figuring out how to make this look 3D.

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Did I force them to learn a special style of painting? Did I even tell them anything once they decided on what they were going to paint? NOPE, they just had fun. I said to them to find  picture or an idea and draw it out and then paint it. They were free to paint what they wanted within the ideas we had come up with.

The backdrop is supposed to be the inside of a shopping mall. We sat and brain stormed about what should be there. We decided to add cute jokes here and there to make kids laugh and our friends in the audience laugh.

Here is another funny one that we did together. After doing this one we thought “Oh No, are people going to be bothered by the Grinch in church.” But the Pastor showed up the next day and said that “No, The Grinch is a Christmas Classic.” Whew, we knew we had freedom in what we painted but had worried if we had crossed the line. My 17yo daughter and I did this one.

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This backdrop storefront has a few more things added since this picture, like a sad Christmas tree in the left window and a present in the window on the right. We just loved the TJ Naxx sign as the only store in our small town is a TJ Maxx store.

What did we learn from this experience?

  • Working together to figure out a huge project is really fun.
  • We like to listen to music while we work. Though we definitely prefer upbeat music after 2 or more hours of painting in a day.
  • Artists crack lame jokes.
  • Painting the tops of walls really tires out your arms.
  • Adding the lines on the ATM really made it POP like it was from a graphic novel.
  • The colors that we had was limited but you can combine latex and oil based paint to get some pretty strange colors.
  • Spray paint can be sprayed onto a plate and painted on a wall.
  • My kids are awesome!

Now some of these things, like the last one on the list, I have known for years. But if I had asked my kids to use an Art Curriculum book and work through it for 30 hours in 3 and a half weeks they would about pass out. Relaxed Art is the way to go for sure. Finding ways to allow their creative and artistic juices to flow and have it appreciated by others is just the way to do it for us.

Here is another picture from the set. This is by my 15yo son, my 17yo daughter, my 13 yo son, and myself. Haha the ATNT store, this will actually get a cellphone painted on it tomorrow morning early.

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I was trying to figure out how many hours we worked on this backdrop and I believe it is about 30 hours. This is the time from thinking up the ideas of the different storefronts to finding out we had limited paint to use to us actually painting.

Here is another store front. This was done by my 17yo daughter and myself. This is a funny store front to us because there is a member of our congregation that actually is a clock repairman and his nickname is Tick-Tock.

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This performance of the musical “God Speaking” will be performed Sunday morning. The choir (which includes my kids singing and myself as narrator) have been practicing this musical since the end of September.

This is another store front as a joke. There is a friend in the congregation that has a security business that is named 4security and so we did this one for him.

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I hope you have enjoyed seeing how we over the years have found that Art can easily be part of a relaxed home school without ever calling it ART. Without having to use an Art Curriculum. We do use an Art Curriculum if the child is interested in it. We also have used classes for a child interested in a special topic like pottery on a wheel. But for the most part, like 90%, our ART time is what we make for others and ourselves just for fun.

Have a great week.

Homeschool Group Ideas – Plans for the Year

I am posting our groups June minutes with the thought that other groups might like to see what our homeschool group is planning for this next school year.

June 2015 Parents Meeting Minutes

What a wonderful meeting with lively discussion. Thanks to Stacey and Lianna for keeping the meeting moving along and making sure we covered all the topics we had planned on. Thanks Crazy8 for opening the church at the last minute for us to have the meeting. Topics below include: Monthly Parent Meetings, Mondays at the library, Events for the coming year, and Summer activities.

Monthly Parent Meetings

After a very lively and thorough discussion J It has been decided that we will try the monthly meeting at the Open Gym on the 3rd Thursday of the month and also (at least for now) keep the 1st Tuesday of the month evening meeting. No one would be required to go to both meetings, there is just the option of doing either meeting and information would be shared freely between the two meetings.

There are a few concerns that 2 meetings a month might create:

  • make it difficult to make decisions

  • that decisions by one meeting group would be hard without consulting the other group

  • that there would be a separating of our group into 2 groups

  • and how information from one meeting would be relayed to the other meeting

Some ideas thrown around for solutions:

  • having minutes posted from one meeting to the group

  • that all topics up for a decision are posted to the group so that everyone has the option to be there or weigh in via email before a decision is made

  • having a set person to “lead” each meeting (this sounded like a doable idea so the volunteers were Stacey for Sept at Gym and Crazy8 for Sept and Oct for the evening meeting)

  • representatives that would just naturally be at the two meetings could share thoughts at the other meeting

  • that the evening meeting would be just informational not decision making, a space for new families to come and learn more about homeschooling and ask questions

  • that the group doesn’t have many decisions that we make that are “set in stone”

  • that when there is a majority together at a meeting that even if they made a decision that there are enough of them together at one time that even if they did make a decision that having even just their families involved would be enough to do that activity or event.

1st Tuesday of the month 6-7:30 – Crazy8 will look for a venue for this. The idea was that this might be an easier meeting for a family looking to start homeschooling to get to. The family which has not made a switch over to homeschooling might find a middle of the day meeting difficult to maneuver or the idea of meeting with a large group in a gym might be overwhelming to start with.

3rd Thursday of the month during Open Gym from 1-3pm – We are looking to try doing the meeting during this time. The idea of maybe setting up the stage with tables and chairs as a kind of meeting area free from basketballs flying through the air J Also the thought of the kids being involved in decision making that would be appropriate to their ages was brought up. That this would be a perfect venue for them to feel ‘part of the decision making process’ as they are getting older and more interested in it.

(Another issue that came up as a result of this discussion was people’s comfort level at Open Gym, and defining what safe and respectful use of the gym would mean. More on this will follow in a separate note.)

Mondays at the library (12-3pm)

Every other Monday: Around the World would continue on the same schedule using the full 3 hours on every other Monday as they really do use this full time. There are many families who are involved in this and it feels like a perfect use of the space for our group.

The opposing Mondays: There was a lot of discussion about what we could do with this time. Here is what the plan we came up with:

12-1pm – An art time where a specific artist or art form would be studied for a month. The thought of maybe having an artist within the group or preferably one of the older children teaching the younger children about a form of art. Maybe having an artist show us what to do the first meeting of the month and the second meeting of the month would be for the children to continue working on this project. Ideas for this included using different media: clay for sculpting, oil paints for the older and washable paints for the younger, basket weaving, etc. Also the idea of studying an artist for the month maybe having to do with the book the book club is reading or just ones the kids choose to study. Keeping this class as close to FREE as possible regarding cost.

1-2pm – Drama club: the discussion lead to realizing that there are a lot of families in the group interested in a drama time. Either relating to the book being read, just drama in general, or even a performance geared toward the younger crowd doing the acting. The person leading this has not been chosen but thoughts were: Lianna and Director are both individuals who had shown interest in doing this before.

2-3pm – Book club: book club will continue, please see previous email for the books scheduled for this coming year.

Monthly Newspaper Club – There was also talk that we could meet at the library for other things that did not involve the use of the meeting room. The kids would like to do a  monthly newspaper and thought that meeting before the 12-3pm meeting room time just in the youth area might work. Director is interested in leading this. articles written by the kids in the group about events or things going on but also other sections that would include pictures or art or poetry or short stories. Detail to follow. Families interested should contact Director.

Spanish language study–is another idea that is being researched. This also might or might not involve the library meeting space. Families could hire an instructor or make arrangements with a college student who could get college credit for volunteer teaching. Contact Brenda if you are interested.

Events During the Year:

Some of these events need dates set. As some of these events require finding a space to host them it is good to have a date set as early as possible. If you are responsible for an event would you please check the calendar from previous years and see if you could get a date set up for your event, especially for the families that plan out their year in advance, thanks. If you remember an event that we did not include it was by accident, please let us know that we forgot it, thank you.

  • August (last week in August usually Wed-Thurs) – Back to School Event – A Picnic with the option of Camping at the Park

  • Fall (Sept –Nov) –  Soccer on Tuesdays 1-2:30pm – Crazy8

  • Fall (possibly fall) – Lego Fundraiser – Melissa (a New Event to raise money for some charitable group or the library) entry fee and prizes to be awarded, details to follow

  • December – Barter Day – Stacey

  • December – Holiday Party – Need someone for this

  • December (the Fridays leading up to Christmas) – Caroling at Elder Care Facilities – Crazy8

  • January – Drama Production (possibly) – a production by the younger kids

  • February – Talent Show – Jessica

  • March – Spelling Bee – Brooke

  • March – Science & History Fair – Melissa

  • April – Art and Dessert Show – Jill, Stacey, Leslie

  • May – Shakespeare Play? – There has been a play put on by the kids during this time in previous years, so wanted to list that here. Not really sure what or if it will be.

Summer Activities:

Soccer – there are a bunch of kids that would like to continue meeting on Tuesdays for soccer. We meet from 1-2:30pm. It would be a weekly pick-up game. Sometimes we may have a coach and sometimes not. Just a fun time to play an organized game of soccer.

SPUD  and Kick Ball – this will continue again this year meeting on Thursdays from 1-3pm (I believe) at the Rec park field. This is a fun time for kids and parents to play outdoor games together. (As a side note: there is free lunch right at the skating rink area every day for kids 18 and under at noon. So maybe some families could meet early for lunch and then play? Just a thought)

Summer Party at the lake – The idea to just have a get together at the lake that would allow the entire family to be in on the fun. Eat together, swim, play, just enjoy each others company and see each other during the summer also.

Family Game Night – There is talk of a family game night with details to follow

Hiking – I believe there is also talk of families getting together to hike during the summer with dates and places to follow

Week in Review & Life Happens in 3’s

WOW! That is the only way to describe this past week+

I will let the list speak for itself.

What we did do this week:

  • Did a Homeschool Q&A at the library: No co-op classes this week – I took the month off
  • Horse drawn carriage rides through town
  • Workbook work
  • Easy Peasy Online School
  • Made gingerbread houses
  • Orthodontist appointment
  • Math drills
  • Children entered their movie in a contest. Want to see it? https://projected.com/users/4292
  • Director: filming and editing at local TV station
  • Ice Skating at a friends house & stayed for chilli 🙂
  • Got over a foot of snow and the kids played out everyday
  • Went to the theatre and watched: It’s A Wonderful Life
  • Saw a model trains exhibit
  • Bid on wreaths at the wreath festival
  • Finished all my Christmas shopping
  • Church
  • #1 Well Pump broke
  • #2 Stove broke
  • #3 Car broke

Life Happens in 3’s

Now I am definitely not s superstitious person. I am a God is in Control kind of person.

My Grandmother and Mother always say that things happen in 3’s. They are referring to bad events never wonderful events. This past week was one of those 3’s weeks. I have had bad things happen and then thought to myself, “Will there be 2 more?”. I would wait but sometimes that was it. When these things happen in 3’s it is weird.

#1 Well Pump Broke

Last Saturday I was taking my morning shower and the water stopped. Of course my hair was full of shampoo…. I had Tech go around and collect all the water from cups in the house and pour it in a bowl so I could rinse my hair. Dh checked all the wiring, the power, the pressure switch, etc. It looked like the problem was with the well pump itself. Being the cheapskate that I am, I was not willing to pay the well pump guys the weekend rate to fix our pump. My daughter Gallop and her husband picked up some water for us on, so we were not without any water 🙂

The pump guys came on Monday morning. We were on the 3rd day without running water. We started to smell… On Sunday at church I suggested to my daughters in-laws that they not sit too close to us, they laughed. Anyway, that Monday morning I got up really early and decided that if I lived in another country without running water, what would I do? A sponge bath. I decided that if I did not get cleaned up I was not going to be in the best of moods that day, especially if the well pump did not get fixed. One gallon, that is all it took. One gallon of water and I was a new person: hair was shiny and I smelled way better. I felt awesome!

Our well is 750ft deep. The pastor suggested we should have our own natural gas line with a well that deep. I was dreading the cost of pulling that pump up and replacing it. The last one had cost us over $1500 with labor and everything. It takes a long time to pull a pump that deep.

BUT… It was only a broken wire. As they pulled the pump they saw a broken wire at about 250ft. YES!! A broken wire was way cheaper than a new pump. They fixed it and I had running water within 1.5 hours of them arriving. Lots of showers happened in succession. We smelled way better 🙂

At this point I thought, “Will there be 2 more things?”, but went on with life hoping this would be it.

#2 Stove broke

Monday the stove started making this funny buzzing sound up near the controls. It stopped after a bit but came back again the next day. Later that night my dh was up and smelled something funny. The stove was warm. He looked inside and found that the stove had turned the broiler on by itself. Great #2.

We now pull out and unplug the stove whenever we are done using it. Annoying but it still works.

Would there be a #3? and if so, how much worse than these two?

#3 Car broke

It wasn’t just WORSE it took the cake for being the WORST of all three things.

Now, our car didn’t just break it is un-repairable. It is so far gone there is no hope for it to see life again.

What happened you ask? We pulled out of a parking space and…

  • the drive shaft fell out onto the ground
  • the yoke (in the rear end) broke
  • the differential broke
  • the axle twisted
  • the muffler fell off
  • the frame under the rear of the vehicle cracked

There was the most unbelievably loud grinding, scraping of metal, thudding, and then we dropped like 8 inches. It was dead. Now the car still was running. The motor was fine. It just could not go anywhere.

I called AAA to tow the car and then I called my mom and said, “I am DONE!” laughing I said, “This is #3 so I am done. We are all set for a while now.” I proceeded to tell her about my list. She knew about the well pump but the stove and car were a surprise.

My wonderful daughter came and gave us rides home in shifts since there are so many of us. My wonderful son and daughter have both offered us their cars if we need them till be find another.

BUT for now we have no way to go anywhere all together. We are laughing, just laughing that all this has happened. We get to stay home and that is a blessing. We have running water, plenty of food…

Blessings in all this? YES!!

  • we have gotten very resourceful when it comes to water usage
  • we have wonderful friends who offered us showers: we chose to wait instead of showering 8 people at a friend’s house, seemed like a lot to ask of someone
  • we are grateful for running water, should have heard the cheers when we turned the tap on and water came out
  • we have a stove that works, even if it is quirky
  • that my dh is willing to drive me shopping when the weather is bad, I almost went by myself then I looked at him and he said, “You want me to drive you?” as he saw me looking back towards the window at the snow falling
  • we are all safe after the car incident
  • we were not driving home at 50mph when the drive shaft fell out, dh said that cars sometimes flip over when that happens and without brakes it had the potential of being terrible
  • we get a lot of at home time
  • we have a reason to say no to all the outside activities
  • we had finished all our Christmas shopping
  • we had finished all our grocery shopping
  • so, so much more
  • He gave His life to save us from eternal death

God has blessed us beyond measure with all he has done for us. We are thankful and happy to be of service to our King.

How about a picture from this week?

car broke
All those bits behind our car are the parts of the drive shaft, axle, muffler, frame, you know various car parts.

 

How was your week? I would love to know 🙂