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Why I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Foster and Adoption Placement

Yes. I am an adoption mom writing this. BUT. I’m an adoption mom in this world. This world that so often gets really confused really fast…about what we are called to as the hands and feet of Jesus, what it means to have a heart like Jesus and what it means to have open hands for what is best for the children we might be called to for a time be the voice for.

My husband and I are on a board for an orphan and widow organization in Zambia, Africa. Over 700 orphans (single or double–or children of widows) attend our school. I think zero of them need to be adopted by Americans, Australians, awesome Canadians or whatever other nationality may be. Our kids are not in orphanages–so they do not need to be adopted. (I do, however, think the kids in orphanages in Zambia very much need families…so if you are waiting on bringing a child home from an orphanage in Zambia…wait well and get ready for a crazy, unknown Zambian ride;) Our kids, however, are being cared for in their communities–and those who do not have parents are being fostered by other moms in our little village. They are getting to stay in their community, raised with their siblings and really–they have everything they need. And oh how they love Jesus! If you asked the kids would they like to go to America–100% of them would say yes…but to meet Taylor Swift and meet movie stars would be the number one reason why;).

They are loved. They are cared for. They are being educated and discipled. They are going to be the movers and shakers of their community as they are being empowered to create change in their worlds. I’m excited to see what God is going to do–and how He is going to use the 700 kids in our schools there to rock change in their worlds. These kids who once didn’t know how to dream are being taught how to dream and that with the Lord before and beside them–they can do anything. I’m weekly challenged by these kids and their love for Jesus and trusting in Him for daily provision and meals…while I often get my perspective out of whack here in our world of–UGH…my daughter didn’t get the part she wanted in Nutcracker. (Someone please slap me and give me a reality check.)

I can’t tell you how many adoption agencies have heard about our work in Zambia and wanted to sit down and chat to “pick my brain”. Um no. They are good. But they still need us. And oh my gracious–we still need them. So yes–let’s go to lunch and I would love to share how to get involved in our widows or sponsorship program. Together the Lord has changed me–and I believe they are being changed too–together we are changing each other. There is such beauty as we choose not to give up on the difficulties of African ministry–if you have dug deep in African ministry and chosen not to run or give up yet…you know what I’m talking about. With any ministry there is corruption when perspectives change. Power. Money. Security. Our own desires filled. Whatever the motives…I see it seep in every single ministry whether in Africa or the church up the street…and I see why people run from ministry and the church. But please don’t give up on either of those. Where Jesus is working–the enemy will be fighting. It’s our challenge, calling and battle to stay very, very, very close to Jesus and not ever, ever let our flesh or will be louder than His.

I don’t love that adoption means there’s brokenness. Adoption is not natural. (This is one things I’ve heard and said over and over–especially from the birth mom in my home grieving a loss…where has her flesh gone–her heart…oh my heart. Oh sweet girl…I know it doesn’t feel natural. But you are so brave for choosing life.) It may feel natural to some–but being a mom of both biological and adopted children…there is a different feeling in the depth of flesh of flesh. No one ever says that. But that doesn’t mean my depth of love is any different whether. It’s not. My love for all five of my children is FIERCE. It’s a miracle. My little love from China is the most like me. That is a miracle in itself…and we share a different, beautiful bond because how we read each other. Each of my children share different connections…and yes–I love adoption…for so many reasons. But the the brokenness it begins with–I cannot say I love.

I hate that it means brokenness.

I love that it means healing.

I hate as a mom I didn’t get 9 months to nurture and connect. That’s a loss neither of us can make up for…and one that is only given to the one that chose life. I can never replace that special bond…and as a mom it makes me sad that in this life my boys will miss that. Many of my adoptive mom friends who walk the road of infertility will also miss that…and I know that is a loss they will forever carry. But it is also a loss that may also connect them deeper to the hearts of their children as they bond through this loss…something I will also never share with them…a holy sweet bond that connects on deeper levels…I can only imagine.

After the brokenness…there can be healing. But oh…oh…the motives of our hearts as moms must be careful.

We do not rescue. We don’t expect. We don’t deserve.

Children–no matter how they come to us…ARE HIS.

Our children have voices.

They don’t need to be grateful.

They need to be heard…without the noise of other people telling them what they want or need. These kids need to be empowered to think and to dream and to hope and to want…for themselves.

Children are precious hearts to be fought for…for their sake–for their good in mind.

I love the people called. I hate when the people called get in the way…when their voices get louder than the most precious voices or long term well-being of the children.

It saddens me when I see public sharing about foster/adoptive mom rights or unkind discussion of a birthmom…and I put my hands over my eyes. We are broken.

I see kids torn apart in foster care or adoption from their siblings. We are broken.

I hear the hearts…how will I ever deal with possible disappointment…I’ve waited longer…Does He see ME…I know what’s best…I will fight the good fight and not give up they say…we are putting our armor on and if need be…we’ll fight in court. I put my hands over my eyes. Oh are we ever broken.

Some where. Some how. The enemy deceives our hearts…and some how we sneak our hearts, our family needs, our dreams or wants into the equation of healing. And for THAT reason–I have a love/hate relationship with foster and adoption placements.

We need the healing of our own brokenness before we bring more brokenness to an unnatural broken beginning.

With our work in Zambia–when I see a widow we love tell a local friend to steal all the chairs…because we’ll just replace them she says. I want to quit…and run. But the children need us. And we need them. I see her heart. Wanting to help. Thinking she knows how to help. Wanting to be the hands and feet. Seeing she has been given some authority and voice. But. Those chairs. They were never hers. Yet some where she felt entitled to them and felt ownership over them…like she had a right to say where they should go for the good of her people–but not what was best for the children. ¬†She’s passionate about the ministry…and yes–her hands are hands of healing and her heart–it means well…I see it and there’s beauty in it…but I put my hands over my eyes…so broken. The need or because it makes sense to one…doesn’t make it right. BUT…but she says like the man stealing from the store for bread–if you see the desperate cause the chairs will be used for…THEN–then you will understand. You might even sneak in and get the chairs too. No. No–never me we say. I wouldn’t do that. BUT. Some where–along the line…if we aren’t careful we get confused and can justify all the wrong things.

The chairs were never ours.

Nor are any of our children. We get it when we are talking about chairs. But our hearts can be so deceived when they get overly attached and involved.

We can’t stop listening.

To His voice.

To their voices.

It may mean you let go of more things you love for His glory. You might not get to see the end. You might not get to see the fruit. You might not get to have any praise here on Earth. It might be painful. Our hearts will be broken. If we live as Jesus lived…it should be a life where we feel too often we say “Take this cup from me–but if it be your will…then okay. Why Father do you turn your face from me?” Isn’t that how His only Son felt? It didn’t mean the Lord didn’t see…didn’t love…wasn’t fighting…didn’t have a plan.

I won’t give up seeing their hearts. Our family still plans to foster. We are still very much open to adopting.

But their voices must be heard.

And for the record–I’m very nervous to hit ‘post’ because while you may be reading this as a “no-brainer”–many in the world would disagree…with most of what I have typed here. Because their own hearts got involved and I don’t understand. But if you step back…really step back…maybe–just maybe things might look a little different.

If you are listening to their hearts…don’t give up. Don’t give up fighting with them for their hearts. Don’t give up asking Jesus to help you see them as He sees them. He may ask you to do crazy, crazy things to bring healing in this broken world. Trust Him. He does have a plan. When your heart breaks–as mine has over and over for the things He has called us to for just a time–trust that You have run well and left your hands open for His glory no matter how much it hurt to let go.

For those of you fostering…and letting go to hard, hard places. Don’t give up. You are loving big and well—often when the tug-of-war makes absolutely no sense. You are filling a gap that only Jesus can…and I pray you feel His strength as you are tired and deeply want whatever is best for the child you are rocking right now. Courage dear heart. Don’t give up.

Praying with you for HIS best for all of His children. Standing with you with open hands for whatever He calls each of us.


Allen Martin - September 18, 2015 - 9:48 pm

Powerful! Thank you Andrea for speaking straight to my heart! Much love from Auburn!

Karen Twombly - September 19, 2015 - 11:01 am

…amen… Because we want RESTORATION!!! On Earth as it is in Heaven!!! In one moment some of my sweet ones wish out loud they were with their birth mom…and then later they wish they were born from my “tummy” …or that I had adopted them earlier… They struggle for restoration. One Mama or the other…but why must both be in the heart? So, we pray for restoration. If not here on Earth, then in Heaven. I tell them to pray that somewhere their birth mom and birth dad are putting their faith in Jesus. And if we have to wait until Heaven to all be together we will wait with hopeful expectation to love each other together. Oh how I will love on THAT day to say: “I love them with all that I had and and here they are”…and we can love them together in perfect unity!!!

September on the farm…

Oh my.

There is always something to do here…between taking care of 5 children under 10…homeschooling…keeping the acreage cut AND caring for the animals! This week has not disappointed in the work it takes to keep things up! Thankful that FALL is in the air–so we pulled out our old faithful yearly FALL Young bucket list!! (This was made a few years back by simply cutting strips of scrapbook paper and ModgePodge over it!! I used a jagged scissor cutter and a marker for the edges–but you could just burn and blow the edges just the same:) Each year I just use chalk to check off our list so we are sure to fit in our favorites every Fall:)


Other excitement in our week consisted of 2 sick goats. Thankfully we have the accountability of a few other families to keep us on track with school work–but some days everything has to be set aside when there is a little emergency on the farm. This week it was Sugar and Bob:)


Sugar and Bob were all out of sorts—and our vet asked us to bring in the calmest and because their behavior was the same she’d coach me in shots for the other;). Good times I tell you:) Things I NEVER imagined myself doing! They say a sick goat is a dead goat–and now…I believe it. BUT this week we had a miracle and nursed our sick goats back to health!


Some days I worry about what the children are learning, but Mother assures me that they are getting more than they would ever get in school There’s a seasoned 25 year old school teacher for you. I hope that’s true. They learned about different medicine today for animals and they assisted in giving shots to the goats when back home.


After all the crazy–I decided we needed to go out. And I bought a cow. Only the kind that doesn’t moo—and just looks pretty. Thankfully he fit in the van. If the cow fits—BUY him…especially if he comes in every color:)


And speaking of every color—that’s what our eggs look like lately! Nothing as good as free range eggs! I haven’t found a match as far as quality as eggs go compared to ours…our chickens who free range all day produce the prettiest, most orange yolks! Yolks full of nutrition are orange–not yellow. Oh my…and we are getting more than we can eat! Eggs anyone?


Some other fun daily things around here…Oreo is learning to deal with the cats. Y’all. We had a farmhouse mouse last week. We must have cats! The 1st graders are looooooving school–and oh my–I looooove teaching this age! And I adore having our preschooler interrupting with the funniest things…like watching us with his binoculars! He flips them around over and over and lets us know if we are BIG or if we are “wittle”! And last but not least–Isaac is working hard on looking “bad”. Y’all. This kid is the SWEETEST and all he does is SMILE. He is working on growing a tall flat top and looking cool and tough:)



Oh those tile floors—drive me crazy…but they sure are easy to clean and match Georgia clay:)

I dipped in an antique shop this week and found this perfect beverage crate. Leaving this on our table where we do a lot of school work. How fun is this…


Loo has the same need as I do for crafts. Thankful to have a sidekick. Today we made a banner made of strips of old fabric for her room AND then a wreath–just $9 total to make!



Can you spot the photo bomber??!!

Sooooooo thankful it’s FRIDAY and the weekend is here! Here’s a few snapshots from 7pm on the farm on a Friday evening…


Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!



World Suicide Prevention Day {We’ll See You Tomorrow}

Remembering this day this week on behalf of some of the bravest I know…

Life is hard.

Even Jesus said it would be. He said in this life when you face many trials…WHEN–not if. (John 16:33)

And our brain chemistry all handles those trials differently.

For many–depression is a very real struggle–to the point of a dilapidating handicap. It’s not “put your big girl panties on and deal with it” time. It’s real. And if you have never sunken into a depression–the funk of funks–when no matter how hard you try you can’t get out…you might not ever understand…but you can certainly–listen.

I’m surrounded by several who I dearly love–who struggle with depression. It’s a daily fight–and I’m amazed at how well each of these dear friends run. It may seem on some days like just getting out of bed–but in reality–they are running. Running well. The King of Kings SEES that…and oh I wish I could be there when they meet Him and each hear Him say, “Well done. My good and faithful servant. You chose tomorrow on the hardest days. You have done well.”

I’ve fallen into funks…maybe not to that degree…but I’m not ashamed to talk about it. And I think we should. When the darkness is brought to the light–there can be no more darkness…only light.

For me–my darkest and hardest I can quickly pinpoint…and I can’t imagine living in THESE seasons…day after day. BUT…I share them just because–dark days brought to the light–are no longer dark any more…no matter how hard they were at the time…

My 8th grade year–and the year after we brought home our 5th child. I struggled…BIG TIME. And very few friends were there to walk beside me in those.

It was my 8th grade year that I contemplated wanting to be here at all. (Middle schoolers…I pray for you all the time. AND I truly miss teaching middle school for this reason…a call of my heart I look forward to returning to one day!) NOT a big deal maybe as an adult…but as an 8th grader–I thought my life was just over. Our family had moved to a new town–and when our family went out of town some of my new “friends” went in our home and destroyed it. Like holes in the walls y’all. Really good friends I tell you;). The hardest part was how mean they were to me when they were confronted and made accountable. It was a hard time in the world of an 8th grade girl…and I remember wanting it to be OVER. I made a plan–and something (the Holy Spirit) stirred my mom to check on me that night…and thankfully she walked me through the hard. THOSE DAYS…I will never forget. THOSE days are probably a significant part in my homeschooling. People…can be mean. And while I know I can’t protect my children completely–you can’t judge another’s experience or their shoes until you, too, have walked in them. I want my children to know and understand who they are–who they can hope in and to be built up and ready for this hard world. There’s no doubt in these days I needed counseling and encouragement–and I hope and pray if you are reading this…and you are a young person–that you will reach out to someone and tell them if you need this when your days seem the toughest.

My next deepest funk–and I mean funk…came after bringing home our 5th child. There is no doubt now that I was struggling with what they call post-adoption depression. It’s a very real thing–and I was in the middle of it. I was homeschooling our older 3 children while helping two new ones learn what family is…along with managing physical therapies for them and the deep, deep healing of their hearts. I’ve written before about this experience–and the ONE place I was able to articulate the struggle we were walking through was with the Christian hybrid homeschool I had the kids in so we had time for extra doctor visits. Instead of speaking words of life—read that article to see what happened—and oh my GRACIOUS…how we need to be the CHURCH…and walk together. WE NEED EACH OTHER…and when one is down…we pick another up. So if you are mom in the struggle…oh my–you are NOT CRAZY…please, please, please don’t hear that if another believer foolishly tries to say what it looks like. We are to pick each other up…encourage each other…be the body of Christ–and these folks just missed a pretty sweet God opportunity to be just that. If you are a mom struggling with the day to day–then something DOES need to change. But you are not crazy. And the only change is–really…finding real support for your family and for you.

There should be no stigma in going to counseling. For yourself…or for your marriage. When you see a child of yours struggling…you didn’t do anything wrong–it’s life. Those trails Jesus told us would happen over time. We need to work on being brave…and talking—A LOT…about what our hearts are really going through and experiencing. When we are in good places–we need to look for those who are not and pick them up…that’s Corinthians…comforting with the same comfort we have received. There should be no stigma with depression or just being vulnerable…because I’m really not convinced that anyone does NOT deal with this at some point in their lives.

I share the hard from my life simply because social media, Pinterest and the world is so good at making everyone’s lives seem like they are full of rainbows and unicorns. Lisa Frank just isn’t reality;). The more we share our hard–the easier it is for everyone…especially our friends and family who hold in the hard and we have no idea they are struggling. If we share when it’s hard–those the Lord has put in our lives who aren’t in the midst of hard will be able to pick us up and vice versa. And I want to be there to pick up those around me and stop everything to just listen and be there too.

I want to be a person speaking words of LIFE.

I want to encourage.

I want to turn my frustration from that really rude guy who just went off for no reason to LOVE…remembering that he may be in such a hard place…and he needs more encouragement and love RIGHT now than I could ever imagine. I want to realize that JUST maybe the Lord allowed that guy or gal to say that thing to me for no reason…to give me that look or that road rage of a moment…because God knew that I was His…and that I would pray…and reach out…and creatively brain storm how I might brainstorm how to love so big that they only see His grace and love and know that HE is speaking to them.

I want to invite trouble in…not to tell that mom to come back when she has it all together–but to invite her in…to invite myself into her world…and see how I might help her…and in the helping…see that really–she is the one helping me.

There will be hard, hard days—no matter your age or stage…and oh man–we need each other.


I’m so proud of the friends who have dealt with depression on a DAILY basis…who keep saying yes to another tomorrow. Recently suicide has hit the Ethiopian adoption community as children in middle school have gone. You get to know a lot of families across the country when you adopt–and we have met families who have lost their children, their spouses, and survived themselves. I love, love, love what TWLOHA is doing to raise awareness, erase the stigma and help those who need support find support.

You can buy one of their amazing tees with this design on their site.

Erase the stigma of depression. Look for someone to encourage and be there for in their hard stuff. And speak words of life–no matter what.

We’ll see YOU tomorrow beautiful,



Karen Twombly - September 11, 2015 - 10:04 am

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. ~Isaiah 58:11. I love your words of life! I pray often that God will make me a well watered garden that I might share it with others. ūüôā
So glad you are writing, Karen Twombly

Farmfit {Who needs CrossFit when you have a farm?}

Have you run into some Crossfit junkies lately? Oh my. They are some serious folks about their workouts. They post their lift pics, their workout plans and even have their own app to share the weight they rocked that day. I only know this…because I’m MARRIED to one;). For months, he’s been trying to get me to drink the CrossFit water. But oh my gracious. Read this post and you’ll know why momma ain’t got time for that;). Seriously–who needs CrossFit when you have a farm?

For the first few weeks (okay maybe MONTHS) after moving on the farm last Spring I ended my days with much needed advil and crashed every night like I used to when I taught middle school. This farm life–is no joke.

So the padres came to town this weekend and we had a grand ole time full of shared laundry;), delicious Southern cooking (if I do say so myself) and a few fun farm adventures. We TRADED an obnoxious rooster for 2 goats this weekend. Quite the trade right? Our friends in town decided they were done with goats–and they thought a rooster would be fun…so we happily made the trade they requested;) Bless them. I foresee rooster potpie ahead–and we adore our new friends…


That’s Big Mama on the left and Lil’ Billy on the right. You can’t see Lil’ Billy’s goatee–but trust me…the name goatee comes from him:) They were dehorned as babies–so we are keeping them with our pig in this smaller pasture as they have no way to defend themselves from the other goats or something else. Our Great Pyrenees will hopefully keep coyotes away, and they will be safe:) It was SO FUN having my parents here for their delivery…but especially fun letting them take part in the “catching of the rooster” event. If you’ve never had the joy–trust me…it’s good, hilarious fun for all. Ole Roo was caught–put in a box and taken to his new home to cock-a-doodle-doo to his heart’s content;)

We are sticking to our 10 laying hens (For you non-farm folks…you don’t need a rooster for a hen to lay an egg a day—no fertilization needed here as we have hens a plenty and give away more eggs than we can eat:).

My parents let Richard and I scoot away for the night so we could have a night out–which consisted of World Market fun, trying on hats and an amazing dinner at St.Cecilia (if you are ever planning a trip to Hot-lanta…reservations can be booked online.) Rich was such a gem to let me play while he read the news…and oh my–with the work of 5 kids under the age of 10 and the farm–we needed a little get-away even if it was just for one night!


I didn’t buy the hat by the way…but now I’m wishing I did;).

Then. It was time for a reality check. Labor Day…the parents left for Sweet Home Alabama and it was time to hit the farm. Only we came home to two sick goats. NOT our new ones–but Sugar and Bob. Goats are pretty fragile creatures and eating a poisonous leaf can take them out in 24 hours. We lost 2 boer goats this summer to toxic leaves–and oh my…we are quickly teaching our kids all about loss on the farm through these animals–but I’d REALLY love to not lose Sugar or Bob…so the last 48 hours have been spent giving 2 goats syringes of probiotics and milk of magnesia…while we anxiously await our vet appointment on Wednesday!

I’ve spent my day today nursing these 2 sick goats–and oh my gracious…I just had no idea how much work this would be. I’ve learned so much too. Goats can NOT eat just anything like some might think. I raced to the feed and seed today to see if they had activated charcoal to help them detox whatever toxic plant they got into…and picked up lots of fresh hay. THIS might sound easy enough–but hauling hay isn’t the easiest…and this is where FarmFit verses CrossFit comes in. Y’all. Momma hasn’t been to a gym in 10 years…but working this farm is whipping me into shape. There’s no rest for the weary here. No sir. You gotta do what cha gotta do…so if it means working all afternoon to save goats…that’s what you do–and lots of sweat is involved…and momma was never a fan of heavy lifting or sweat…but maybe it’s good for me;) This pic I posted to Instagram today and my FB status describes the funny that happens here…


My Facebook status today:

“Oh you know. That time you were out working in your back pasture…tossing hay bales by yourself. And you started sweating…and since no one was around you took your shirt off…since you did have a tank top on too. And you see two men pull up in your drive way. So you freak out certain this is how it all goes down at the farm by yourself…and you forget about that tank top or that shirt tied around your waste and you let out a farm girl whistle that calls the dogs…and they beat you to the men…barking a mean bark and you yollar, “What can I help you boys with?” all serious like you’re out of an Olde Western. Then with their ties and suits… they hand you a track jaw dropped and you realize the tank scared them more than the dogs or your intimidating Clint Eastwood voice. I didn’t get anything but a track and they hauled it. My apologies to the men with Jesus Christ Ladder Day Saints who were assigned my street. If you drop in unannounced you never know what you’ll get here! I called off the dogs in the nick of time;) Close call cause you know a Great Pyrenees guards his farm well! And apparently the farmgirl does too;)”

All this. Before 10:30 a.m:)

But I almost left off the BIGGEST things that happened before 10:30am!! Oh my…our ZEKE went to PRE-K today at preschool! He only goes a few hours every morning which makes it possible for momma to teach the other 4…and this year he is the SAME class as one of our best friends! “Even the smallest person can change the course of this world.”–How CUTE is that tee by Transforming Beauty?!


And while my birds were at art and cooking and computer…just a few of the classes the homeschooled bunch take on Tuesdays…this momma worked on the farm and when I took “breaks” inside…I prepared for our school week ahead…


I really want to challenge my kids to see HEARTS…and to be brave with theirs. I want to teach them how to see beauty…not because I have a girl–but because I also have 4 boys…


I want them to love one another. Help one another…and carry one another. Y’all. Today wasn’t perfect. In fact…it was hard. One child had a melt down. I’m not sure if 2 of our animals will make it. And the crazy He calls us to can almost wipe you out. BUT…then you catch moment’s like these…


“Brudder. Don’t worry. I got you.”

And you stand back and you see…that He’s got a plan and a purpose through the hard. We are just supposed to keep our eyes UP and to trust Him…and just take one day at a time.

Easier said than done right? Well–just know you aren’t alone.

So there ya have it. A day on the farm. AND this was a slow, laid back one with the kids off learning today–and tomorrow we’ll have putting goats in the van…and a vet appointment and goat stool samples and new spelling words and math…and some how–it all gets done. And I remember signing up for this but I had no idea all the hard things that came with it. Then I realize–isn’t that how everything is? Whether it’s being a mommy or adoption or a dream job or marriage or anything? We have no idea the hard that comes with the things the Lord guides us to…we only know we want to say YES to them. So we do. And He teaches us, guides us and gives us strength through them. He’s making me FarmFit…and not just on the outside–but on the inside too. I’m learning how to say goodbye a whole lot to things I love, celebrate every bit of life in every living thing…and to treasure each day and everything in it.

Here’s to tomorrow!! May it be extraordinary for you.




Our Curriculum Choices for This Year (5th, 4th, 1st, Pre-1st and Preschooler)

Here we go! It’s my 5th year of homeschooling–and I’m super excited to have 1st graders this year as the 1st grade curriculum is one of the most fun and sweetest! We don’t use any one system–so no “school in a box” here. That works for some, but I’ve yet to find a thorough program that does everything well. So we pick the best of each one and piece meal–all for a purpose. I’m a former middle school reading and language arts teacher, so I’m naturally passionate about choosing a strong phonics program with a solid Orton Gillingham base (There isn’t a workbook on the market that does this well, BUT there is a program that rocks it that’s super easy for any homeschool mom to teach in just 15 minutes a day!) If you ever have questions or suggestions–I’m all ears and would love to support, encourage or hear any other momma in our boat or considering homeschooling. One thing I’ve learned is we really need each other. So please never hesitate to reach out to me or another homeschool mom in your community for support!


Here’s what is on our book shelf for the 2015-2016 school year with a 5th grader, 4th grader, 1st grader and kindergardener by age…but 1st grade ready. You will also notice that some of the grades do the exact same thing! One of our motivations for homeschooling was to be TOGETHER as a family. I tried a hybrid homeschool and with our family having A LOT OF KIDS…I noticed I was asking my kids to learn separately. I was even sending them to separate rooms to learn by themselves! Oh man. That didn’t last long for us. We want to be together as a family–and being together means learning together when possible (history, historical time period read alouds that go with our history, science, and Latin/Greek). For that reason–I’ll just list grade specific things under each grade–and what we do together at the bottom of ¬†with modifications that are made for different levels AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST:)

My 5th Grader…P-man…


5th GRADE Curriculum:

ENGLISH – English 5 Writing and Grammar by BJU

WRITING – Writeshop 1 (Another great writing program we¬†have done that I would recommend is IEW. If your¬†child is in the 5th or 4th grade and has never participated in a program like Writeshop or IEW–you may want to begin in Writeshop at the Primary or Junior levels. As a former writing teacher, I always say that you never want to jump up to a level you think your child should be in before establishing a strong foundation to grow on. It’s better to start easy and breeze on through a program than to jump into a program confused with lots of¬†gaps to fill.)

READING COMPREHENSION AND HANDWRITING PRACTICE- The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease Workbook 4 ¬†(We do not do this daily. We started this in 4th grade, and we will continue it with 5th. It’s great for reading and comprehension while introducing the reader to a wide variety of different genres of literature.)

MATH – Saxon 6/5 and DIVE into Math – Just like there isn’t ONE program that is well-rounded, this momma certainly can’t be the expert in every subject;). Y’all. I do not love math. I need someone else to teach the bigs math. So…I do what I can–and then I rely on good ole Dr. Shormann. Dive is super cool because it lines up with Saxon starting in 4th grade and goes all the way up! You simply download the app after you buy the program from¬†the Dive Into Math site and Dr. Shormann teaches each lesson¬†clearly to your¬†child (or you;). You can watch the lesson anywhere from a iPhone, iPad or computer.

BIBLEBible Truths Grade 5 – We start our day with each child getting to have their own Bible time using these Bible workbooks. I only buy the workbook. We all have our quiet time together and momma starts the day with peace and coffee:) Truly a perfect way to start our day!

SPELLINGNatural Speller (We also LOVE the All About Spelling program offered by All About Learning.) This is one book for all grades!

We also sprinkle in Explode the Code, Mind Benders, Editor in Chief, Spectrum Test Prep, and Maps: Charts and Graphs to make sure we are learning test taking skills as well as filling any gaps in comprehension and critical thinking skills.

SCIENCE, HISTORY, LATIN/GREEK, PHONICS REVIEW for Grade 5 is done together with younger siblings! One of my favorite quotes I need on a sign in our home: Together is the best place to be:)¬†I know it’s not realistic to do EVERY subject together. But there are definitely some that can be done together–and oh my…does this make it easier on MOM to get to have all her babies together for a few lessons! This I have seen is where some of the sweetest heart connections are made in our homeschool time:) See the bottom post for 5th grade Science, History, Latin/Greek and Phonics!

NEXT UP…4th grade!

My 4th Grader…Loo bear…


4th Grade Curriculum:

ENGLISH –¬†English 4 Writing and Grammar by BJU

WRITING –¬†Writeshop 1¬†(Another great writing program we¬†have done that I would recommend is IEW. If your¬†child is in the 4th grade and has never participated in a program like Writeshop or IEW–you should begin in Writeshop at the Primary or Junior levels. Never jump up to a level you think your child should be in before establishing a strong foundation to grow on. It’s better to start easy and breeze on through a program than to jump into a program confused with lots of¬†gaps to fill.)

READING COMPREHENSION AND HANDWRITING PRACTICE –¬†The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease Workbook 4¬†¬†(We do not do this daily. We started this in 4th grade, and we will continue it with 5th. It’s great for reading and comprehension while introducing the reader to a wide variety of different genres of literature.)¬†

MATH –¬†Saxon 5/4 and DIVE into Math¬†– Just like there isn’t ONE program that is well-rounded, this momma certainly can’t be the expert in every subject;). Y’all. I do not love math. I need someone else to teach the bigs math. So…I do what I can–and then I rely on good ole Dr. Shormann. Dive is super cool because it lines up with Saxon starting in 4th grade and goes all the way up! You simply download the app after you buy the program from¬†the Dive Into Math site and Dr. Shormann teaches each lesson¬†clearly to your¬†child (or you;). You can watch the lesson anywhere from a iPhone, iPad or computer.

BIBLE¬†–¬†Bible Truths Grade 4¬†– We start our day with each child getting to have their own Bible time using these Bible workbooks. I only buy the workbook. We all have our quiet time together and momma starts the day with peace and coffee:) Truly a perfect way to start our day!

SPELLING¬†–¬†Natural Speller¬†(We also LOVE the All About Spelling program offered by¬†All About Learning.) This is ONE book from all grades!

We also sprinkle in Explode the Code, Mind Benders, Editor in Chief, Spectrum Test Prep, and Maps: Charts and Graphs to make sure we are learning test taking skills as well as filling any gaps in comprehension and critical thinking skills.

SCIENCE, HISTORY, LATIN/GREEK, PHONICS REVIEW for Grade 4 is done together with younger siblings! 

Next up…1st grade!

My 1st Grader…the Tank…(on the right–pictured with his pirate friend Miss C!)


And my Pre-1st grader…ITY!


1st and Pre-1st Grade Curriculum (These two 1st grade birds are really doing the same curriculum. However because of one of their ages–one would technically be in kindergarden in a state school, BUT ¬†with this kindergartner reading on a 3rd grade level–kindergarden curriculum is quite boring for him. I don’t think you move kids up to a different grade if they aren’t fully ready for it in every area so I don’t want to say 1st just yet:) SO…pre-1st it is!)

1st Grade Curriculum:

ENGLISH – First Language Lessons – Level 1

WRITING РThe Complete Writer: Level 1 Workbook with Writing with Ease 

HANDWRITING PRACTICE – BJU Handwriting Grade 1¬†(Another handwriting program that we love is Handwriting Without Tears! We completed Handwriting Without Tears printing in Pre-K and K–and BJU teaches a few letters a little differently:). We are all about learning a little differently for different things! We needed to switch some things up after finishing Handwriting Without Tears–which I would recommend beginning with first:).

MATH – ¬†Singapore Math 1A and 1B and Abeka Artithmetic 1¬† Math is the other thing I’m passionate about not leaving holes in! We have tried Math-U-See, Saxon and everything else under the sun for elementary math. I LOVE Singapore for 1st-4th grades. Then we move into Saxon simply because that’s what most high schools will be using (thank goodness for Saxon DIVE!) Until then, I want to build strong mathematicians who can do mental math quickly in many different ways. Math-U-See left lots of gaps for our kids and missed some key concepts that they would need later. Saxon ROCKS and doesn’t leave gaps–but for 1st grade it can get boring. So–do Singapore 1A and 1B and then also use Abeka because it’s just fun with lots of fun colors:) If you use both–you will see how Singapore goes much faster and teaches skills in 1st that are foundational for multiplication and division earlier than almost any other program.

BIBLE¬†–¬†Bible Truths Grade¬†1¬†– We start our day with each child getting to have their own Bible time using these Bible workbooks. I only buy the workbook. We all have our quiet time together and momma starts the day with peace and coffee:) Truly a perfect way to start our day!

SPELLING¬†–¬†Natural Speller¬†(We also LOVE the All About Spelling program offered by¬†All About Learning.) This is ONE book from all grades!

We also sprinkle in Explode the Code, Mind Benders, and Maps: Charts and Graphs to make sure we are learning test taking skills as well as filling any gaps in comprehension and critical thinking skills.

ALL GRADES DO THE SAME THINGS FOR SCIENCE, HISTORY, LATIN/GREEK and PHONICS. I group bigs and littles separately for phonics only but we all participate in each other’s phonics together.

Science, History, Latin/Greek and Phonics for ALL GRADES together: 

SCIENCE – all grades¬†(We love Apologia for science!)- Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology¬†¬†. ALL of the children use the same book but just use age appropriate Apologia Anatomy Notebook Journal to study along. My 4th and 5th graders use the¬†Anatomy Notebooking Journal. ¬†My 1st grader and Pre-1st grader both have their own JUNIOR Anatomy Notebooking Journal. (Each child will need to purchase their own journal from Apologia. It pulls in handwriting in both print and cursive AND scripture memory!)I love how the lesson plans are all ready for you in the front of each child’s journal. You will complete this entire book and journal in just 28 weeks if you follow the lesson plan and each week just study science 2 days a week! If you want to start another when you are completed you can! I’m already eyeing the Botany program to do next:)

HISTORYall grades¬†We are study U.S. History this year! History is TOO rich to stick to just one curriculum if you ask me–and I’ve yet to find one that is light enough that allows you to add lots to it! (After 4 years with Story of the World–we needed a little more adventure and fun:) (We do our history each year in a rotation–so next year they would start with ancients, the next middle ages, and so on!) So…here are some components of our history program:

1. Our history SPINE for this year will be from Veritas Press: Pages of History 2: Blazing New Trails This is a read aloud that all ages can enjoy! Readers (and little listeners) will follow the adventures of James and Lance as they find themselves in all different situations with explorers to the present.

2. History Transition Guide Volume 2 – This guide goes along with the read aloud – and while the read aloud will be for all children–this guide will be more to engage older children.

2. We will be adding a little Veritas to our history program with their history flashcards and Pages of History read alouds. The flashcards: Explorers to 1815 and 1815 to Present. These are also designed to go along with the read aloud AND the History Transition Guide.

3. We are incorporating History Pockets for the 1700’s as BJU misses these years in U.S. History. This year we will be making folders with these History Pockets: Native Americans, Colonial America, The American Revolution, and The Civil War.

4. I also made a timeline of historic novels to use for book reports and before bedtime read alouds. How sweet is that when you can read aloud at bedtime to everyone what ties into their history program?! I love weaving in learning to all parts of our day and night routine together:) This is completely separate from the historic novels that will go along with the Pages of History suggested readings:). I have purchased all of these just to keep in our library for the kids to check out in our co-op:)


And just extra fill in…

5. After 4 years of Story of the World–we WERE GOING to try¬†BJU U.S. History this year¬†as a complete replacement…but I don’t love how it jumps around on the time line. We love you BJU for Bible and English…but we want our history to be chronological from beginning to end–and as simple as possible. So–we will use the text and workbooks we purchased for comprehension and review when it lines up with our chronological lessons. BJU is grade specific–and because history is really something you can do together–we choose together on this one:). We had planned to meet in the middle and using grade 4 as a base so 1st and 5th grade can follow along. SO–we will just use this when it lines up with our timeline or as reading comprehension extra:).

LATIN/GREEK – all grades: English from the Roots Up and Greek and Latin Flash Cards

PHONICS – all grades: All About Reading Levels 1-4 Here’s my All About Learning plug;) No matter the age, we start at Level 1 and finish at Level 4. I’ve actually heard people say, “I have a child in 3rd grade so they are beyond phonics.” Y’all. That’s like saying you are finished learning English;). So many schools do not teach phonics–or if they do they use phonic workbooks instead of a hands on approach. They often do not teach phonic rules–and the children begin to memorize words rather than learn to read phonically. This works great up until the 2nd or 3rd grade when memorizing lots of big words gets really tough. If you have a 2nd or 3rd grader than just started to really struggle as a reader, it’s likely they have been memorizing rather than learning how to read phonetically. The great news is that it’s never to late to go back and retrain your brain to learn differently! We LOVE All About Learning for phonics and spelling! We have done everything from Saxon to Abeka for phonics, but we have parked ourselves right here on this amazing Orton Gillingham hands-on based program! As a former reading teacher for middle school, I really believe READING WELL should always be our focus for our kids in elementary stages. If they can read well and comprehend well because they aren’t having to work really hard to read–then they will succeed in EVERY subject. Struggling readers will struggle with every subject–and having a child with a sensory processing disorder–I have seen All About Reading take the struggle out of reading making our need for a weekly tutor no longer a need! This is a GREAT program for all levels of readers beginning in kindergarden until they complete the program:)


OH…the PRESCHOOLER! I almost forgot! How could I ever forget THIS package of yummy?! Meet the preschooler…ZEKE!


Zeke is a wild one…and he is going to go to preschool in the morning some during the week–and the rest of the time we will be having fun with The Homegrown Preschooler curriculum. You might be surprised to see his picture along with ITY’s throughout that curriculum if you buy it! We are so thankful to have the author as a dear friend–and love this sweet program for preschoolers!


So while that sounds like a lot, we are usually start our school day around 8:30 or 9am…and we usually end around 1pm! We only do 4 day school weeks at home–with a day set aside for extracurricular classes the children take at a homeschool program where 700 other homeschool kids attend. They take art, cooking, STEM classes, computer and music!

We also co-op with other families on Monday—honestly for the ACCOUNTABILITY and the extra fun:) It took us a LONG TIME to find the right fit of curriculum and co-op families–so if you are hoping for these…HANG IN THERE…trust the Lord to provide and don’t give up!!! Change things around when they aren’t working–and take lots of field trips and fun days when you need it!

And field trips! We take at least a couple every month!

I started homeschool with the intention to try it ONE YEAR…and 5 years later–here we are! I’m so thankful we tried it and took the leap! Yes, I’ve seen the benefits from an educational perspective–but most of all…it’s the shaping of their hearts. This is the hardest and best thing that I’ve ever done as a mom. SO WORTH IT!

Blessings from our home to  yours!