Archive for March, 2011

Five Little Monkeys

Sunday, March 20th, 2011



I'm sad that Esther is blown out in the video but here is proof that she was too, too cute!

Our monkey family!

Chi Quita, M.D and me

Our wonderful dance teacher at Northwestern Studio choreographed this piece for her clogging class of 5 two years ago. Anna, Christina and Bethany were 3 of the 5 dancing monkeys. It was then that this idea was born. The girls sewed some tails and made some ears, assigned Daniel and me the “Mama and Doctor” role and we adapted her awesome dance for our church’s talent show. Yes, technically we have six dancing monkeys but who’s counting? Enjoy!

Meeting Mr. Story of the World

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Sarah, Bethany and Nathan with Mr. "Story of the World"

This is Jim Weiss and he a phenomenal story teller! He narrates our history CDs, The Story of the World. Several days a week, my younger children listen to the CDs and then we discuss the stories. For Bethany and Sarah, my auditory learners, these CDs are gold. They love listening to them and really retain most of what they hear.

After we arrived at the homeschool conference today, we had a few minutes to shop the exhibit hall before it was “officially” opened. I stopped by Greathall Productions because I saw these beautiful CD sets that my children enjoy so nicely displayed, and Mr. Weiss introduced himself. Immediately, Sarah said, “Hey, you sound really familiar!” I smiled. Jim smiled. I whispered to him, “Say Story of the World volume 3.” He did. Sarah then went a little bonkers. Let me just tell you, she could not have been more thrilled had she met anyone in Hollywood. “It’s really fun to meet the man that reads Story of the World! We listen to you all the time!!!! This is so amazing!” And she ran off to find Bethany. “Bethany, you’ll never believe who I met! Come, now!”

Bethany accompanied Sarah to Jim Weiss’s booth and said, “Go ahead, say it!”

“Story of the World, Volume 3,” replied Mr. Weiss and Bethany covered her mouth in pure amazement.

Mr. Weiss, I am sure was feeling pretty good about his fame in the Jobe house until Anna came along. “Say it again,” begged Sarah and Bethany in unison!

“Story of the World,” replied this very fun and patient man. Anna then replied, “That is cool! Ya know, your narrating voice is much less annoying than what is used in most homeschool curriculum. It’s nice to meet you.

Mr. Weiss really laughed with Anna’s response. “Thanks, I think!” was his reply.

Jim Weiss is anything but “less-annoying!” Stories come alive with his narrations! His voice has been a part of our audio library for over a decade! I have a feeling every time we hear him begin a chapter of Story of the World, we’ll smile as we remember meeting him in person!

A Little Writing Lesson

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

I don’t often post about our homeschooling curriculum or routines. Because schooling is such an ordinary part of our day, it seems a little boring or un-postworthy. However, since I’ve had some folks ask me to post more about homeschooling, I thought I’d write about one of my favorite subjects – writing! The following transpired today – an opportunity to teach my  youngest school-aged child, who happens to be my only reluctant writer, a little about paragraph construction.

Sarah's inspiration!

This morning, after the mail arrived and before I could throw it in the recycling bin, Sarah enthusiastically grabbed the Spring American Girl catalog. “Oh, Mom, you MUST see the doll I want for my birthday!!!!” Now, Sarah’s birthday is 5 months away and there is no hope of her receiving such an expensive item before then, but I humored her and looked at this object of her longing. “Why do you want her?” I asked. Sarah then began reciting a list of qualities that made the doll, Elizabeth, exceptional… and I decided to make the most of her enthusiasm.

I asked Sarah to write a paragraph explaining why she wanted this doll. Normally, any writing assignment causes her to groan, but this time she willingly got right to it! (I think she thought perhaps she could convince me to get her doll a little early!) There was only one problem. Sarah really doesn’t know how to write a paragraph. She has done a fair amount of copy work but not much creative writing and so far no reports.

After about 5 minutes, Sarah handed me her paper and this is what it said:

I want Elizabeth because

1. She is so pritey.

2. I have wonted one forever.

3. Her hair is so, so, so pritey.

4. Her dress is pritey.

5. And last but not lest, her hat is pritey.

Yes, that was the “paragraph.” The misspelled words aren’t typos. That is exactly what she wrote.

In the past, the above would have caused me to panic. Other than correcting the spelling of “wonted,”  “pritey” and “lest,” I would be at a loss on how to go about editing. Thanks to two years of teaching concepts of IEW (The Institute for Excellence in Writing), I had fun with this! In about 15 minutes, Sarah had her first lesson on paragraph construction.

The first thing I did was asked her to brainstorm some synonyms for “pretty”. She easily came up with “lovely,” “beautiful” and “gorgeous.” Next I explained that she should not use “so” at all because it is boring. We talked about words to describe “pretty” and she thought of “exceptionally,” “very,” and “extremely.” I then asked Sarah if she could think of other words for “want” and she replied “desire” and “long for.” As Sarah said each word, I wrote them down.

Sarah's copy of her dictated paragraph. The cirlced words are the words we want to repeated/reflected in the topic and closing sentences.

After brainstorming better vocabulary, I asked her what she wished to communicate – the main idea. She easily answered, “I want Elizabeth!” I explained that needed to be her topic sentence and that the last sentence needed to repeat the main idea. “After all, if you don’t tell me again, I might forget and get you a pet frog,” I told her. After some giggles, we then wrote her list into a paragraph with her dictating and me writing. This is what she composed (with my suggestion to incorporate our vocabulary lists):

I hope to own Elizabeth, an American Girl doll, because she is lovely. All my life, I have longed for her. Not only is her hair beautiful , but her dress, which is adorned with flowers and ribbons, is gorgeous. I also like her hat. For my 9th birthday, I hope to receive Elizabeth.

I guided her with her verbs, explaining “receive” is better than “get,” and “adorned” better than “has.” We discussed in detail the importance of the topic and closing sentences and that key words in the topic must be reflected in the clincher – “own/receive” and “doll/Elizabeth.”

After I wrote the dictated paragraph, she copied it. Tomorrow, I will call out the paragraph, and she will write it from memory. (Great for spelling and punctuation.) Yes, hopefully after tomorrow she’ll know how to spell “pretty.” By the way, her mispelling it “pritey” was a great opportunity to review long vowel rules and how they don’t apply in this situation.

This lesson took about 15 minutes and taught many valuable beginning composition skills. We’ll practice this skill with many, many subjects over the coming months.

To review: Basically, brainstorm an outline for a paragraph. Write a topic sentence. Repeat the key words of the topic sentence in the closing sentence. Identify verbs. Make them stronger. Identify nouns and brainstorm adjectives. Can you think of an adverb? Later add clauses and vary sentence openers. (Sarah isn’t quite ready for that yet.) Write for the child a dictated paragraph. Have him copy it. The next day, dictate it to him as he writes. Review the topic/closing sentences. Review strong verbs, adjectives, adverbs or any other stylistic techniques learned.

I wish when my older children were young, I had IEW materials to guide me through the process of teaching writing. Starting with the simple concept of key word outlines (which basically is what Sarah made in her list), students are systematically taught structure and style. Every writing technique, once taught, is reviewed and required. Once you know the process of teaching through the various units, you can apply the concepts and take advantage of moments such as I had today.

A few years ago, I panicked as every curriculum seemed to instruct, “Have your child write a report…” and not only did my children have no idea how to go about doing so, I struggled to teach them. Now those same children are writing essays beautifully! Structure begins with good paragraphs. Children who can write  paragraphs well can write reports and essays, which are just collections of paragraphs. Students who can write essays, can then write research reports, which are simply essays strung together. Thus, good paragraph construction can not be over-emphasized. And, when children are beginning writers, they need not be left to themselves. Some of my children, at  very young ages, could write pages and pages of stories or letters. However, their writing, just because they filled space, really was no better than Sarah’s. All children need to be directed in being concise, choosing words carefully and following structure. I find, especially until about 6th grade, they do best if I set aside a few minutes and write with them. By junior high, they are able to be more independent.

I hope this might encourage some of you who may be stuck in stressed- out- about- teaching- writing land. I am just beginning with Sarah, but I have no doubt that with the systematic instruction of IEW materials, she will quickly be writing strong paragraphs.

Andrew Pudewa, founder of IEW, is my hero. I get to see him next week at the SouthEast Homeschool Convention and I just might ask for his autograph 🙂

My Overflowing Mom Heart

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

My precious friends and me with Sally.

Thursday night of last week, I “lost it.” When things get hectic, I usually turn on auto-pilot and “do the next thing.” But I’ve done the next thing and the next and next with very little down-time for so long, that I just couldn’t hold it together any longer. My husband, who had noticed a change within me, lovingly inquired and asked how he could help. He mentioned we could make changes in our schooling or get some help or let some things go, but one thing was certain… he missed my “passionate and optimistic spirit.” With those words coming from the one who knows me best, I began to sob because I missed those qualities about myself too.

My head ached from stress, I’m sure, and the events of the next 48 hours filled me with dread. I’d signed up not only to attend, but drive my 12-passenger van to Raleigh for Sally Clarkson’s Mom Heart Conference. I’ll admit that as I looked at the work that always piles after a busy school week, I wanted only a nap and a magic wand. I did not want to subject my friends to my downcast disposition. Daniel prayed for me – that I would gain perspective and that the Lord would reveal himself to me and my heart would be encouraged.

And God did just that!

Sally - one of my mentors for well over a decade. What a blessing to hear her speak! One of my friends said, "WOW! This far exceeded my expectations!" Another claimed the Mom Heart Conference to be the most encouraging event she'd ever attended.

I can’t possibly write all the truths I brought home with me. Sally told story after story and I could relate to each and every one. She even told one of her son ten years ago – her then 11-year-old Nathan. Yes, I have an 11-year-old Nathan too, and as she described so beautifully a poignant moment of his childhood and her privilege in sharing it with him, I was touched. I don’t want to miss life changing opportunities with my children. I want to stop and pray with them. I want to watch sunsets. I want to live out Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Sally shared scripture after scripture. Her husband, Clay, led us in worship. My friends and I prayed and discussed

Several dear friends of mine attended this conference. Here I am with my sweet friend Kelly from Atlanta.

such important truths! I felt a sisterhood with the precious friends who attended with me. As I listened and prayed and worshiped, the Holy Spirit convicted me of some areas in my life that have become “cluttered.” Just as I can not concentrate with a cluttered house, I can not grow spiritually with a cluttered soul. And this weekend, the Lord told me to put away my to-do list and do the next thing His way. This “next thing” is to focus totally and completely on my first love. I am responsible only for my relationship with Him… not even for the outcome of my children! That is His job and he is oh so faithful!

Sally asked, “What is robbing you of your life, energy and victory?” We must guard our passion! Anything that robs us of our passion for God, must be removed from our lives. We can’t pass on to our children what we do not possess.

I want to love my God, my husband and my children with a whole heart. I want to be “thoroughly alive” with the love of Christ. And this weekend, I received a precious gift – time to sit and soak up words of truth, time to be still and time to enjoy fellowship with my sisters in Christ.

I left home Friday a little directionless and depressed. I came home different – eager to give each of my precious children and my husband love from my heart that is overflowing with encouragement and thankfulness. As I pulled into our driveway on Saturday night, I was greeted by my yippee yorkie and wonderful family. As my two youngest fought over first hugs, I smiled. As my oldest showed me her speech that she composed without my assistance, I smiled more. The house was picked up. The aroma of homemade pizza and bread filled the kitchen. Such tasks, though not an expectation, blessed me! Bethany reported, “Anna was really awesome this weekend, Mom!” Her words were music to my ears! My son showed me a gold coin his daddy gave him. Esther gave me kisses. Could this have been the same home and people I left on Thursday? Really, not much had changed, but my heart had and that made all the difference. My husband took one look at me and knew that God had answered his prayer for me. His optimistic and passionate wife need no longer be missed!

Sally reminded me that my mom heart matters. When it is full of Christ, I am able to minister. I must guard it carefully and keep it that way. My friends and I unanimously agreed that the Whole Heart Conference needs to be an annual event for us. Next year, join us if you can! 🙂

“I came that they might have life and have it to the full.” -John 10:10

“It seems to me that we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good and we must hunger after them.” – George Eliot

Eating at Changs!

A Must Read

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Excellent read… a must, I think, for parents striving to teach “1st time obedience.”

“The mature parent should consider the state of the child, his emotional needs, physical needs before meting out harsh discipline.

Formulas like “First Time Obedience” do not necessarily reach the heart!”

Field Trip

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Esther is ready for her day in her new favorite outfit

Today we toured the Natural Science Center of Greensboro to see the Bodies Revealed exhibit. Because I was unsure how my sensitive girls would handle viewing the bodies, I had an escape plan (the zoo.) However, all the children were fascinated with the exhibit and found it very educational. Photography was prohibited so I have no pictures. However, I do have some fun photos to share of the museum and zoo which we enjoyed afterward.

Yes, I took this! I've never been so close to a tiger. Yes, there also was very thick glass between the kitty and me!

Have you ever seen a 2-headed turtle? This is a turtle twin in one shell!

My girls

Grandall and the gang in the museum. Watch out everyone!