Book Review–“The Organized Home Schooler”

I received a review copy of The Organized Home Schooler by Vicki Caruana from Crossway Books. I was pretty excited about reading this, as I’m always looking for new ways to organize, and because we’re in the midst of transitioning our school room to a new space. I have to say, though, I found the first 10 chapters to be pretty dry, and not particularly helpful. The “Heart Matters” at the end of those chapters (example–remembering that I’m a steward of the school supplies God has given me), seemed way too preachy and patronizing to me.

Six of those first chapters dealt with different things in our lives that need to be organized (thoughts, time, space, supplies and materials, paperwork, and family), and I didn’t take away much from them. There was an interesting section about public vs. private space in the home, complete with a list of ideals Frank Lloyd Wright had when designing spaces, (I really liked “the house shelters the family not only from nature, but from the world itself”) but I found that to be a more general home design issue than a home school one.

I did benefit from the last three chapters, however. These focused on the actual organizing of the school room (great suggestions!), a filing system, and a whole chapter of lists (I love lists!). This was all very useful information, and I definitely have some ideas to implement in our school–including a hard one to hear: “if you can’t keep it neat, you have too much stuff.”

I wish the whole book had been as useful to me as those last three chapters, but even so, the content of those three chapters was excellent and very helpful. I don’t know if I’ll actually become more organized, but at least I have some good ideas from another homeschooling mom who’s been there, and is succeeding!


One thing I enjoy about homeschooling is watching Turkey and Bunny’s reactions to the things we read and do, and seeing how those reactions are different.

We’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web for the last few weeks. Now, I’ve read it before, so of course I knew how it would end, but Turkey and Bunny were completely unfamiliar with the story, so I was curious to see how they’d respond to it, especially the ending.

Bunny reacted just the way I thought she would. There was much crying and lamenting over the fact that Charlotte died, and Wilbur lost his best friend. She was actually quite inconsolable for awhile. That’s basically how I remembered feeling the first time I read the book, so no surprise there.

Turkey had a completely different response. He was a little sad about Charlotte, but he was also much more pragmatic. He figured that since Charlotte had left her egg sac with Wilbur, and they would hatch soon, that made Charlotte’s death OK, or at least bearable.

I hope there’s no correlation there to the value that he places on me!

Buon Natale!

Merry Christmas from Italy!  (Or at least the Italian sector of our house…)  We had a great time learning about Italian Christmas traditions today.  We started with basic geography–where Italy is on the map, what it’s shaped like (Turkey and Bunny were very amused to realize it looks like a boot!), and what that type of land is called (a peninsula).  Turkey also pointed out, with no prompting, that Florida is also a peninsula–proud Mommy moment for that one!

We read two stories from the Lion Storyteller Christmas Book–the first was about Saint Francis and the first Christmas pageant.  This led to a discussion about the use of nativity scenes in homes in both Italy and America. We then made a foam nativity scene from a kit I picked up at Michael’s.  It will be a cold day when I get another one of those things, but the end result was pretty cute, and Turkey and Bunny enjoyed helping me put it together (they didn’t get to help as much as I had hoped, because I had to get out the hot glue gun, so they had to back off, lest they burn themselves like I did, several times no less!).

We had two different Italy coloring sheets, too.  One, from our Christmas Around the World coloring book, was of a living nativity, much like the one Saint Francis put together in our story.  The other picture (of La Befana) was actually from a coloring book we picked up at our Christmas field trip over the weekend.  Our second story was about the legend of La Befana, so the two fit together nicely.  Using that story as a bit of a springboard, we also talked a little about the wise men, and listened to the hymn, “What Child is This?”

Our big “taste” of Italy, though, was our dinner tonight.  I decided to be adventurous and try out a recipe for  Zuppa Toscana I found online.  It was quite a bit of work to put together, but it was really delicious, and Turkey and Bunny both enjoyed sampling food from Italy.

We will continue our trip around the world on Monday…until then, Buon Natale!

Lutheran Witless

While I was waiting for my older two children and husband to get out of Sunday school this last Sunday (read: I was trapped in the cry room with the younger two because they’re not old enough for Sunday school, and that hour with a bunch of different toys is a huge treat for them), I skimmed through the past two issues of our synodical publication, The Lutheran Witness.  After reading through the letters to the editor, I am totally convinced of the complete idiocy of some of the members of our church body.

Here is what I learned, in just those two issues.  Christians are responsible for the moral decline of America (primarily promiscuity and homosexuality) because they moved out of the cities and into suburbs, and because they pulled their children from public schools and enrolled them in parochial institutions (I bet that person would love the fact that we’re homeschooling!).  The ESV is a horrible translation, because one person doesn’t like the “way it sounds” in comparison to the NIV.  Oh, and some stick in the mud got all up in arms over what I guess was an advertisement (I didn’t get to see the original photo in context) with a picture of four older women in completely modest bathing suits at the beach (I hope that person at least isn’t a total hypocrite, and gets equally incensed upon seeing advertising in the secular realm featuring young women in skimpy bikinis!).

Here are my feelings on the above.  I’m grateful to live in the suburbs, because I can’t imagine being cramped in a crowded city with four small children, and having to deal with public transit to boot.  And I’m not so naive to think that bad morals don’t exist here, so I will assume that even if people hadn’t flocked to suburbia from the cities of America, the moral decay would still have occurred.  And, as a homeschooling parent, I am also grateful that I don’t have to send my children to public school (although I am grateful for the option, especially when it comes to Moose getting the extra help he needs from the school system), because they would not be adequately challenged in that environment, and they wouldn’t be learning about Jesus as much as they are now, which is, according to them, the best part of the school day.

I love the ESV, and in my somewhat limited understanding of such things, think it’s the best translation out there.  I can’t wait until the Concordia Study Bible finally comes out in that translation (can I just say that I think CPH totally dropped the ball on that one–they should have made sure their new Bible came out before, or at least with, the Crossway edition), and I’ll probably get the Crossway one in the meanwhile. And one of my pet peeves is people who pick and choose Bible translations based on what they think sounds pretty, or worse yet, which one says what they want it to say.  I’d rather stick with one good translation and use it for everything (which is why I’ve tweaked our weekly memory verses to all be ESV).

As for the bathing suit thing…I don’t know why the picture was in there, or if it was appropriate for the magazine or not. I do know for certain that I’d rather see modest pictures of women at any age genuinely enjoying themselves and their lives, than fake pictures of women who are trying too hard to impress, and who are dressed completely inappropriately and sending horrible messages about body image and sexuality to my daughters.