The Land of Boys

Learning to live in a house full of testosterone

Archive for the tag “TOG”

Almost Ready

Just a few days to go. School. 2 out my 3 children are not happy. Of course, they would be happy never having school and having unlimited video game time. So, it looks like they will just have to stay unhappy. I am very excited about the new year. Nerd that I am I always enjoy learning new things. We are sticking pretty close to the same routines that we were doing last year. While I do like to try new things occasionally, there is just comfort in familiar things. So here is what our day will look like:

Mornings- Bible reading. Not really following any certain plan. I think we will stick mostly with New Testament and Proverbs.

Catechism- Still using Training Hearts Teaching Minds. I love this book! I cannot say enough good things about it. Amazon has a “Look in this book” for it. If you are even thinking of teaching the Shorter Catechism to your kids, read the intro to this book. Even if your not thinking about it, go ahead and read it, anyway. It might make you WANT to teach your children the Shorter Catechism.

Math- Still sticking with Math U See. I know that there are people who think it is too “simple”. Going through it with my kids I beg to differ. No, my kids do not usually spend 2-3 hours a day on math. No, they do not cry about math being “hard”. That, to me is part of the beauty of the program. My kids are understanding math to the point where  it doesn’t “feel” hard.  They really *get it. They do worksheets every single day that drill it into their heads, but do not kill the love of learning.  It is awesome.

English- Some changes are being made here. Benjamin and Samuel are still doing Shurley. We are doing it not right by the book, though. As a matter of fact, we are not using student books. I really am not too wild about the vocabulary and the writing assignments. We are using Writing Aids for writing and just using vocabulary from out TOG assignments. I still like having the jingles from Shurley. I still like having them classify sentences. I have not seen anything that cements parts of speech like Shurley.  Nathaniel is doing Learning Language Arts Through Literature. That is totally new to us.  It is taking some creativity to schedule it around Writing Aids. It is do-able, though. I love that he will learn to diagram sentences.   (told you I am a nerd)

History- Tapestry of Grace Year 2. Wow. We are studying from the Middle Ages to the American Revolution. That is so much to cover. There are some awesome reading assignments. I think my new favorite book-other than A Tale of Two Cities- is Men of Iron. I have discovered that I really like “boy books” better than “girl books” . Action, adventure, danger, chivalry, bravery- those are the things that to me make a great book.  We are going to be studying a lot of church history this year. To prepare, over the summer I have been reading Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley. I love this book, too. I really love that I got it at the Bible Outlet for 40 % off retail. I think I made the sales woman’s day when Mark held up the book and I literally gasped out loud with excitement.  I am also very excited about the art that we will be studying. During our second quarter of school, especially, we will be doing several art assignments.


Science- Thank goodness Botany is over! If you read my post from several months ago, you might be wondering where all the pictures from our plants are. Well, guess what? Almost every one of them died when we transplanted them. The few that didn’t got dug up or “watered” by our dog. So we are moving on to Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  Nathaniel is going to be doing Apologia Physical Science. He loved his science course last year. I assume the trend will continue.

Latin- Loved Latin for Children A last year. I really thought Samuel would need a year between Song School Latin and LfC A. His reading skills really took off last year and he is ready to move on to “big kid Latin”. So while he is doing that, the big guys are moving on to LfC B. Benjamin was looking at the new Latin History Reader and saying how it looked so hard. He said, “I’ll never get all this!” So I had to remind him that at this point last year he thought that his Latin looked too hard and he would “never get it”. He made good grades, and did not have too much trouble with translation. The boys absolutely LOVE Headventure Land, Classical Academic Press’s fun way to practice their Latin. (technically you can practice Greek and Spanish too, but all we have done so far is Latin)

Music- I made it from grades 5-12 in the school band and never really learned to read music very well.  I can read notes on the treble staff , IF they are not above or below the staff. I can’t tell you anything on a bass clef. So we are using some stuff we found online to learn to read music. Nathaniel has said he wants a cornet. I would like for him to have some knowledge of reading music to make learning an instrument go more smoothly. We are also going to be focusing on composers. I really like Ambleside Online for their links to composer and art appreciation studies. There are several things that we plan on using, just not necessarily the suggested studies for this year, at the time they are suggested. Still studying hymns from The Center for Church Music.

There is a possibility of adding Greek to the mix. Samuel and Benjamin have asked repeatedly to learn Greek. (Well, now that it is almost time to start, Benjamin thinks maybe he has changed his mind) If we do it, will be added after the rest of the year starts. We will use Song School Greek. Judging by Song School Latin, it should be wonderful.


Another Reason To Love Tapestry of Grace

Wow. This is huge. Five very lucky people are going to win a HUGE prize from Tapestry of Grace. The prize???? All Four year plans of TOG in digital format!!! Not just the units, but the supplements to go along!!! This is amazing! If you are a TOG user or have thought about it this is your chance!! To enter click here. You do have to set up an account with Lampstand Press (which is free and you do not have to accept unwanted e-mails or anything).  To enter you have to “purchase” a free ticket. That is all. They will draw from five categories: 1.)People who have purchased 4 Redesigned Year-Plans; 2.) People who have purchased 3; 3.) People who have purchased 2; 4.) People who have purchased 1; 5.) people who have never purchased anything from them.

This is awesome! Good luck to everyone who enters!!!

Why I LOVE Tapestry of Grace

Spring is here. For some people that means pulling shorts and flip flops out of the dark closet where they have been hiding. For some it means allergies are about to attack. For homeschoolers it means time to evaluate what has worked or not worked in their schooling and plan for next year. I know that every homeschool family has their (*ahem, strong) feelings about what is best. Here’s mine.

Tapestry of Grace is to me the most wonderful homeschool curriculum on the market. It brings our whole family together, studying the same subject at once. It incorporates history, geography, literature, art, worldview, church history,  and philosophy (high school) in one neat package. The teacher’s manuals are huge! Each of the four units needed for one year needs a 2-3 inch binder.  Inside that teacher’s manual is a world of information. Each unit is broken down into weekly segments. Inside each week you can find a reading list, student activity pages, suggested hands-on crafts, vocabulary word lists, teacher’s notes, fine arts lessons, and the Pageant of Philosophy( a skit to help  high schoolers).

You might be saying to yourself “What’s so special about all that?”  Let me tell you- everything! The readings lists for each year are hefty. I printed off next year’s list. It is four pages long! We have a lot of those books already. (whew!) I was showing Mark the list recently. His face went pale, his voice got shaky and he weakly muttered, “You mean we need all those books?!?!?” (what I was showing him was the fact that we already had a lot of them!) One of the beauties of TOG is that you have a book list, but that doesn’t mean you have to read every book on the list. They are divided into history, core (meaning the most important); history, in-depth ( for those who want to get more out of their studies than just the bare minimal facts), some weeks there is a suggested read aloud here; literature; arts and activities; worldview, and writing. You can choose to do or not do any of the suggested reading. We like to go for the whole she-bang because we are kind of nerdy. (As a matter of fact Benjamin likes to read all of his books, plus all of Samuel’s. He’d probably read Nathaniel’s too, if I let him but we need to save something for next go around!)

I love how TOG is divided into different stages, not just grades. There is Lower Grammar (K-3), Upper Grammar (3-6), Dialectic (5-8) and Rhetoric (9-12).  I love how they take into consideration that some kids are more or less advanced than others and plan accordingly. Benjamin and Samuel could have both been in Lower Grammar this year, but Benjamin, being the voracious reader that he is, would have been very bored. Each stage takes into consideration maturity levels and what a child is likely to be able to handle. During our studies of the Assyrians, for example, Benjamin and Samuel learned they were mean. Nathaniel learned about some of the mean things they did.  Benjamin and Samuel are not ready to hear about those things. The people who chose the books for the reading lists take everything into consideration. They even give a warning in the teacher’s manual if illustrations are scary, or if the text on a page has something bad, or nudity is pictured. (do they make any Greek or Roman books without pictures of naked statues?) So far we have not come across anything that we found objectionable, and we (maybe I should say *I*) are (am) kind of prudish.

So, now that I have talked about the mechanics of TOG, let me get to the heart of the matter. What really, really makes me all ga-ga over homeschool curriculum: their way of bringing God’s glory in everything. Every time period we have studied, every culture within that time frame is looked at through the lens of a Christian worldview. We are seeing how God raised up kingdoms and empires only to bring them crashing down for not serving Him. We are seeing how the Israelites were preserved time and time again. We are learning how God put everything in place to make the world ready to receive her Savior. We will learn later in the year how He spread His word throughout the land. Not only are my kids gaining loads of head knowledge, they are gaining heart knowledge. To some people that may not mean much, but to our family that is the more important knowledge. That is one of the main reasons we started homeschooling. Yes, we want them to be prepared to be successful adults when they are out and about in the world. We just feel that it is more important to be successful when they face the next world.

Pharaoh Samuel

Pharaoh Samuel



Benjamin's sandals he made

Nathaniel and his Greek ship made of duct tape

Hamantashen for Purim

Two kings and a Haman (boo!)


Cheap Books Make Me Smile :D

I have a shopping  addiction. It is a strange one, perhaps, to some. Most women like to shop for shoes, clothes, etc… Me, I don’t care for that stuff. My fix comes from books. You can keep your malls and boutiques. Just leave me a space in the bookstore.

I especially love children’s books. I could spend hours in a bookstore just looking at illustrations and reading fairly simple texts. My favorite novels (besides some written by Charles Dickens) are written for children-Narnia, Eragon, Rifles for Watie and The Hobbit. So, I guess you figure out we have a lot of children’s books floating around. (hey, they are not all for me; we do have three kids)

As a result, Tapestry of Grace is the perfect homeschool curriculum choice for our family.  The boys are reading really great literature. The only problem is, our local library doesn’t really cater to the classical type literature for kids. Seriously, Nathaniel wanted a biography of Stonewall Jackson. They did not have one. They had celebrities, not historical figures. So getting all our fabulous books from them is a no-go.  We have been building a home library for the boys since they were born. Thankfully for each year of Tapestry we already have some books. The others, however, have to be purchased. Which can get expensive.

While perusing the world of fellow bloggers, I came across Homeschool Library Builder. Can I just say that this may very well be my new favorite website? They sell new and used books for a fraction of the price of bookstores and most online book sellers. Not only that, but you can earn points to earn FREE BOOKS just by buying books!!!!! How exciting is that?!?!?!?!? As if that is not enough, you can also do a search by curriculum (Ambleside, Beautiful Feet, Five in a Row, Heart of Dakota, Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, Veritas Press) to help you find your books more easily.  If you sign up, you can even help me earn points by telling them I sent you there. (my user name is mrsrevmeg) I was skeptical about what the books would look like, would they have any weird smells, would someone else’s account really get credited. I was very pleasantly surprised. I had to look at my invoice to remember which books had been used. They all were in awesome, like new condition. I received a handwritten note that thanked me for my order and said they credited the other person’s account. Wow. That is not something you get from most places.

Even if you are not a homeschooler and are just a regular book-lover, you should check this site out. They have soooo many books at such great prices.

A few things that irk me.

We are learning about the Assyrians in school. They were mean, horrible people.  Or as Tapestry of Grace calls them “the Nazis of the ancient world”.  So Benjamin and Samuel’s reading assignments have been very light. They are not ready to take in Assyria. (Samuel is so scared of Gollum on LOTR if he hears the words “my” and “precious” together he comes unglued)  So I am reading with Samuel in a children’s Bible story book and come across this-

God had a job for Jonah to do. “I want you to go to your enemies in Nineveh and tell them how much I love them and I want them to love me and mend their ways,” God told Jonah.

Uhm…. okay, let’s take a look at what a Bible says, shall we?

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

Why is it that people who write Bible storybooks feel the need to change major themes? God is not some big purple dinosaur singing,  “I love you,” to all the world all the time. God told the people of Nineveh he was going to destroy them because of their wickedness! (Granted they repented, he spared them, but you get what I am saying) God did not tell Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell the people He loved them. He sent Jonah to let the people know He was angry about things they were doing.  Being told how sinful they were and that God was going to destroy their city got their attention.

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

While I understand that small children are not ready to hear the details about what the Assyrians were doing that was so sinful, we do need to teach our children that evil exists. I would not want to see a child’s Bible illustrated with this, but it is important to let a child know that God is holy and does not tolerate sinfulness. We need to teach them that sin is against God.

Now on to another thing that irks me. It drives me batty that some people in the Bible get a bad reputation that is undeserved. Take the Hebrew midwives, for example. They were told to kill all Hebrew baby boys as they were being born. How did they respond to this order?

The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”

I have heard this be taught, even by people I respected, that the midwives were justified in their lying because it was for the greater good. Hm…. nowhere does it say they were lying. Could it be possible that the hard, physical life associated with slavery truly conditioned their bodies to give birth quickly? Could it be that in a time before cell phones and and cars it just took people a longer time to find out they were needed somewhere and get there? Or could it possibly be that God providentially caused the Hebrews women to give birth faster? Read Exodus one if you do not believe me. The Bible never says they lied.

Another thing is this passage from John 21

2Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.

3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

It usually gets taught that the disciples had lost all hope. They had given up on Jesus being the Messiah. So what did they do? They returned to their old way of life: fishing. But is that really why they returned to Galilee? Is it really that they had given up? Could they have gone to Galilee because they believed that He was the Messiah and he TOLD them to go to Galilee???? Why would they lose hope when they had already seen the risen Lord themselves????

31Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.’

32“But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

Yep, He told them that He would go to Galilee, ahead of them. Which means that they would go, if they really believed that He was who He said He was. Jesus and an angel both told the disciples to go to Galilee. So maybe they decided to go to the place where they had first seen Jesus. They went back to the place where they had been called. Going fishing was a sign of their belief, not their unbelief.

Why do people feel the need to read INTO the Bible what they THINK it means, instead of  reading OUT of the Bible what it SAYS it means????

What Makes a Book Great?

I’m talking about children’s books. Last night Samuel wanted me to read Moog-Moog, Space Barber to him. I think that book is near the bottom of my list of favorite books. The story is alright, the pictures, so-so. It just doesn’t move me, ya know? There are other books, however, that I could (well, DO actually) read over and over to the kids. Sometimes I think I enjoy them as much more than the boys. Take the obvious choice: Where the Wild Things Are. (Coming to a theater near you TOMORROW) I had that book as a kid. I loved it. I credit that book for me never being scared of monsters. The monsters in it weren’t scary. They were fun. Even when they tell Max “We’ll eat you up….” it is followed by “we love you so”.  When Max gets home, his dinner is waiting and it is still warm. His mom loves him even though he has been bad. (kind of like Benjamin lately)

Or think about the book Goodnight MoonIt is such a simple story, with simple pictures. A little bunny tells everything in his room goodnight. My kids have gone though stages of doing that. It makes bedtime However, if we said “goodnight” to all our things at the same time the bunny says it to his stuff, it goes by much more quickly. (okay, so maybe not much, but some)

Nathaniel wanted to hear The Tub People every single night in kindergarten. They had a special reading month where we were supposed to read a certain number of books per night to our kids. I was reading more than was required, or fibbing and just putting random book titles because I did not want his teacher to wonder if we only had one book. It is a sweet one, too.

This week in school we learning about India. There are not a whole lot of fun books about India. Not that I know of, anyway. Imagine my surprise when the Tapestry of Grace assigned reading happens to be one of our long time family favorites: Little Babaji. Little Babaji is the story of a little Indian boy whose parents buy him some fancy new duds and he goes for a walk in the jungle. By and by he meets up with some hungry tigers that threaten to eat him. He cleverly trades an article of clothing for the promise not to be eaten, telling the tiger that he is the grandest tiger in the jungle. You may have heard this story before, only set in Africa, and the boy being named Sambo. That’s how I first heard it. My grandmother used to tell me that story. It was written by Helen Bannermann in 1899. She was originally from Scotland, but lived 30 years in India where her husband served as a medical officer. The stories she wrote celbrated Indian or Tamil children. The children in her stories are all very bright, like little Sambo outwitting the tigers and being rewarded with pancakes. Her stories were not racist. Not in their original forms. However, as time went on, they were published by one company, then another. The more times it was published, the less like the original the story became. By the time it got here (to the US) the story was set in Africa and the people looked like plantation slaves. Sambo actually became a racial slur. The book was eventually pulled off the shelves.You can probably find it on e-bay. You can find it in a few libraries.  In 1996 Fred Marcellino published a new, updated Sambo where he had changed the names to something more politically correct. Usually I am not a fan of the PC police, but I do think there is no sense in intentionally insulting people. I also think that a beloved children’s story should not be forgotten. This is a book that is sooooo much fun to read. I love to do little voices in it. Babaji has an Indian accent. The tigers all have deep, growly voices. Mamaji and Papaji both ahve very excited voices. Samuel did his worksheet and drew a picture of little Babaji eating his big stack of pancakes. scan0001 To celebrate, can you guess what we are having for supper? (in Mamaji’s voice) Pancakes!!

Hebrew-Style Blessings

This year in school as we are studying the ancient world, we are focusing very much on the Hebrew people.  We have really been studying the Old Testament in depth. One thing that the ancient Jewish fathers did was to bless their children. Next week are having a Passover Seder (yes, I am aware that it is falling nowhere near Passover) and I have asked Mark to write blessings for our boys. I was wondering if he’d actually be into it or if he’d think I am off my rocker about a mile and half. {Last Friday night he was greeted as he walked through the door with “Shabbat Shalom!” We made Challah, had candles on the table, which was set with our best china {except Samuel and Benjamin had plastic plates}. Our meal: Pork chops and sides. Not very kosher. The pork chops had been frozen, if I didn’t cook them they would have been wasted. The whole baking Challah and everything else was spur of the moment.} He was for it. To clue you in on some of the “whys” for the particular blessings he wrote I feel the need to explain the meaning of each of their names. Nathaniel- Gift from God; Jacob- Sneaky, Grabber; Benjamin- Favored, Son of My Right Hand; Isaac- Laughter; Samuel- Heard by God; Joseph- God Will Add/ Increase.


Nathaniel Jacob, may you treasure above all things the ultimate gift you have been given by God, which is Jesus Christ. May you become a man in whom there is no deceit and who is pure in heart. May you continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And as your knowledge of Christ grows, may your love and passion for Christ increase so drastically that you will not only be a hearer of His word, but a doer of His Word. May you be completely surrendered and submitted to Christ and His Word in all areas of your life.

Benjamin Isaac, may you find your supreme and ultimate joy in Christ, who is seated at the right hand of His Father. May your joy and laughter not come from the evil things of the world, but from the passion and love that comes from knowing Christ. May your faith in Christ be so strong that you fear no person or thing except for God. May you seek to please Christ no matter what others around you say or do. May you constantly be amazed at God, His Word, His works, and His glory.  May you become a man who seeks to give God the most glory you can in everything you do.

Samuel Joseph, may you love Christ above all things and may your life be built on obedience to Christ and His Word. May God continually increase you faith, love, and devotion to Christ. May you always be a man of prayer whose prayers are always heard by God. May you always hide God’s Word in your heart so that you may not sin against Him. May you always stand for Christ, even if you are the only one. May you never back down from boldly and fearlessly proclaiming God’s Word. May you become a man after God’s own heart whose consuming passion is to please Christ in everything you do.

Numbers 6:24-26- The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.

We really went back and forth for a long time about whether to name Samuel Samuel Joseph or Samuel David.  I was tickled to see that he put “may you be a man after God’s own heart”.

I LOVE Tapestry of Grace!!! We have learned do much and really paid so much attention to the details of things in the Old Testament. I think I have learned more than the boys.


Ahh…. Fall. I think this has the potential to be my favorite season of the year. The leaves change colors, the temperatures drop (but not too much!). There are less mosquitoes. Which is a good thing out here in lake country. However, fall is when allergies hit Benjamin and me HARD. Fall is when Samuel’s excema acts up. This fall, Mark has been sick with an upper respiratory/sinus infection.So things at our house have gone in slow motion. Week 6 of school was actually going to be nice. We were reading chapters 12-50 of Genesis to count as both history and Bible study. Not really a whole lot of other reading. So it was going to be a breeze. Then the Fall started moving in. We are still on week 6. It is going slow, but it is going. None of the boys have done Latin for the last two weeks. We have been working on the same chapters of English and Math for the past two weeks. We are only to chapter 20 in the Bible. But we are still going. This week has gone more smoothly than last week. Mark gets off work today at 12:00 then is off until 12:00 next Thursday, so its nice to know that he is here if my voice goes out again and I can’t teach.  We have been  able to do some of our art projects. Every book we have looked at that contained Mesopotamian art had statues of people with folded hands and BIG eyes. They reminded me of Benjamin for some reason. The big eyes really didn’t look buggy or catoonish, they looked innocent, inquisitive and almost sweet. Like Benjamin. I was tickled that he wanted to make his own Mesopotamian statue:


Samuel made a model of a Mesopotamian ziggurat that he saw in the book Old Testament Days. He stacked boxes and painted them brown, then did a top layer of brown paint mixed with cornmeal so it looked like it was made of mud bricks. DSC_0015

All the boys painted a color wheel recently


Nathaniel got tickled at the end because his pallet looked like a stocking.


Speaking of Nathaniel, he is THRIVING in his Science class. Samuel likes to help him gather his supplies for his experiments, so Samuel’s nickname when doing that is IGOR. I am not sure who came up with that one. Yesterday Nathaniel made little cardboard boats and used different materials as the “motors” (gum, toilet paper and soap) His purpose was to see which one propelled his boat further in still water.


Samuel and Benajmin really like the activities in Old Testament Days. We are studying the birth of the nation of Israel. Abram and Sarai were called to a life of nomadic wandering.  Can you imagine that? Going from living in a house, to living in tents. Samuel read about how they made a portable table out of a piece of leather. It was cut into a circle, then string looped through the edges it could so that it could be drawn into a bag to carry the plates and such around from one place to another. Samuel made one from plastic tablecloth fabric and ribbon. He and Benjamin both love to cook.  Yesterday they read about nomadic people eating locusts (EWWW)! We made fake locusts biscuits. Instead of crushing up dead bugs, we used crushed almonds. DSC_0040DSC_0041

The boys with their biscuts around Samuel's table

The boys with their biscuts around Samuel's table

warm biscuts with honey...mmmmmm

warm biscuts with honey...mmmmmm

So as you can see, we are learning, despite coughs, runny noses(Samuel likes keeping up with the changing color of my nose. Nothing like having kids to keep you humble!) and itchy, scaly skin.  Nathaniel has been working for three weeks on a very special art project that I can hardly wait to share. But I have to. It will be much more special to see it completed than just a bit.  Hopefully next week we will be back to doing everything at a regular pace.

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