Thursday, June 28, 2012

Are You a Book Worm?

Many people proudly dub themselves Book Worms - but what does that really mean?  I've never met a self-proclaimed book worm who doesn't reveal that the majority of the material they read is fiction.

Thesaurus: Fiction n. - fabrication, invention, lies, fibs, untruth, fantasy, falsehood, nonsense. 

So...why the obsession with fiction?  The only reason I can come up with is they lure of escape from reality that fiction offers.  But what are they trying to escape from?  Is life something to run and hide from? Did God intend for us to spend our lives entertaining ourselves?  There are only two instances of the word entertain in the Bible and they reside in the same verse.

Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

In the end, what kind of legacy does a book worm leave?  I've noticed a few common denominators.

Self facsination
Their facination with their own lives - their likes and dislikes, goals and dreams, their views on everything from politics to fashion - is always at the forefront of their conversation.  Not that any of these things are inherent evils. Just that I've noticed that they are a predominant factor in this type of person.  The plethora of fiction available today has paved the way for the modern day epidemic of preoccupied, self-interested people. For the most they are not "otherly", or concerned with others as much or more than themselves.

Mark 8:35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.

Blurred Sense of Reality
So much time is spent indulging in fantasy, that a surreal view of life, to some degree, is often the result.   Their accomplishments in life seem to be limited to those that are personally stimulating or rewarding.  By nature, the fables they immerse themselves in only offer them a zoom lens depiction of life far removed from reality leaving them with a perspective that's a bit skewed at best.  But at worst, it leaves them further from the reality of life. Serving others and being useful to God.

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Eternal Value
How many hours spent indulging in fiction could have been spent on eternal pursuits?  In the end, only God knows which of our works will be burned up as wood, hay and stubble and which will survive the purifying fire as eternal and valuable. But I think we can safely venture to say that the time spent on fiction reading holds very little eternal value.  What if that same time were spent in prayer?  Scripture study? Or service to our families and the needy? 

1 Corinthians 3:13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

Lost Time
We are only given a certain amount of time on this earth. God, as our creator, has the right to judge us by right of ownership.

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
Masters
I often wonder if the number of fiction books that a bookworm has read were nonfiction, they might be the equivilant to a master's degree in Bible, medince, law or science. 

The bottom line for me is that being a bookworm isn't something to be proud of.  I always feel a sense of sadness mixed with irritation when I hear someone boasting about being a fiction junky.  So many wasted hours that accumulate into days, weeks, years and eventually a lifetime.  They have exchanged a potential lifetime of selfless service for vicarious living through invented paper characters.

Any Redeeming Value?
Is fiction ever worthwhile?  I'm racking my brain trying to think of some redeeming quality.  And when I say redeeming, I am referring to  God's conditions for redemption, not mine.  Does God find fiction a valuable spenditure of the precious, irreversible time he has given us?  I imagine there are a few works of fiction that might be of some value.  But they make up such a small fraction of the works available that their use would never render anyone a bookworm.

The Coming Famine
There are some who have grown so dependent upon iphones, social network twitter-twaddle and so forth that they cannot imagine life without them. They seem to be oblivious to reality.  The Bible is God's word to mankind.  It not only explains but contains our history and it is a guidebook for living and contains the historical record of the future as well.  It is the one book we never want to live without.  We should read it, meditate on it and memorize it. For one day, there will be a famine.
Amos 8:11-12 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

That is a scary prophecy!  They will wander from sea to sea seeking what?  Not their precious iphones or their beloved fiction novels. Not their movies or iTunes... but the word of the LORD.  I don't ever want to be without the word of the Lord.  I want to hide it in my heart and teach my children to do so, too. 

The Information Age...Really?
We are seeing more useless information than ever before in the history of mankind.  I am not a fan of social networks or works of fiction. It is just too much mind numbing nothingness.  My bookshelves are filled with informative nonfiction. Truth. 

As children of God, are we spending our time wisely and serving our families and others or are we just biding our time?  Look around your home and you will see your ministry.  God has given you what you have to glorify Him in your life and pour it into your family first and then to spill over onto others.  Don't make the mistake of starving your family and then seeking to fill someone else's cup. God has established the priority and we must take that seriously. They are your eternal investment.  

1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

If you need more excitement, seek out opportunities to serve in your community.  But whatever you do, don't waste what precious time you have been given on fiction books.  

Psalms 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Meal Planning

It has been uncommonly HOT where I live for a couple of weeks straight. Every day the temperatures reach 100 degrees or more. I am more of a rainy and cool climate girl and scorching sun and sweaty days seem to bring on lethargy for me.  I just want to lay still until the horrible conditions pass.  And when they don't I pull myself together and realize that like it or not, I have to deal with it.  :)

So in the summer, I am challenged to think outside the oven.  I want to get more veggies into our diet so I've decided to make this "salad week".  To make salad week enjoyable, I load each salad with hearty protein and fiber rich veggies and always add some rich and delicious cheese and flavorful homemade or good quality salad dressings. 

Never use diet dressings. Bleh!  Studies show that fat is actually a necessary component to properly digest vegetables. So enjoy full fat dressings but be careful to keep the portion size to under 2 tablespoons. 

Here are my cold dinner creations for this week. Keep in mind that the portions for the ingredients are to be scaled to one portion.  For example, I don't put an entire can of salmon or beans onto one salad, but divide it four ways for my family of four. :-)
Monday - Perfect Pantry Salad
Top a bed of salad greens with chopped tomato, canned salmon, canned kidney beans, canned beets, croutons or French's Onions, sprinkle of shredded cheese and your favorite salad dressing.


Tuesday - Grilled Chicken Salad
Top a bed of salad greens with grilled seasoned chicken (grilled earlier and refrigerated) sliced avacado, black olives, chopped or grape tomato, blue cheese crumbles, sprinkled with olive oil, vinegar, sea salt and pepper.

Wednesday - Brie Bacon Salad
Top a bed of salad greens with hard boiled egss, cooked, crumbled bacon, sauted onions & squash, jarred artichoke hearts, brie cheese, croutons and your favorite salad dressing.

Thursday - Garbonzo Tuna Salad
Top a bed of Salad greens with canned garbonzo beans, canned tuna, sliced green olives, blue cheese crumbles, tomato, chopped green pepper and your favorite salad dressing.

Friday - Pizza
I usually make homemade pizzas every Friday but if the temps are still tilting the scales, I think we'll have to do something different.  I have never grilled a pizza before but maybe this is a good time to try it. :)

What do you like to fix your family for dinner when it's hot out? Please share!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bible Stories Vs. Bible Records


I recently heard author and speaker Ken Ham at our  state's annual homeschool conference. He pointed out that reading those cute little illustrated Bibles to our children is not a good idea and asked what we usually correlate with children’s picture books? We all spoke in unison: Fiction.

Children learn to associate brightly illustrated story books of generally short duration as fictional or “fairy tales”. Enter the picture Bibles.

Brightly colored pictures of Noah’s ark with oversized, silly looking animals popping out and a smiling goofy old man with a long white beard. Does that really portray the truth of a watercraft designed by God to withstand a violent worldwide flood?

Does it inspire the awe inspiring and grave judgment of a God displaying his justified wrath upon the unrepentant and his unspeakable grace to the redeemed? Or does it leave children with an image of a bathtub boat with a Santa-like “character”out for a merry voyage.
Photo courtesy of allfreelogo.com

Our children need to be taught that the Bible is not just a book of stories but a book of historical record filled with fascinating documentation of human and earthly origins.


Children are incredibly sharp. Their capacity for learning is extraordinary. Their attention spans may be small, but their ability to process information is not. Ever since our children were very young and I told them stories from the Bible, they were always aware of their truth and they were interchangeable with our own lives and people we know. 


“Remember when Uncle John lost his house in the fire but he praised God anyway? There was a man named Job who had some even harder times come in his life. Remember what happened to him? Let’s read some together…”

There are fabulous accounts of events and people in the Bible. Some are common and we can relate to them. Some are astounding and jaw dropping. But the point is, they are all true. We don’t want to let this fact be escaped on our children. They need to know of the righteousness, the holiness and the wrath of the God who created them. And it’s because he created us that he has prior claim on our lives.


If we are going to plant the fear of the Lord in the hearts of our children, we need tell them true stories read from the actual Bible. If illustrations are wanted, let them draw their own from the narratives they hear. It will be much more meaningful and help the story to linger a little longer in their precious souls.


I'm linking up with womenlivingwell.org today!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Lost Art Of Beautiful Language

            "To speak and to speak well are two things.
                           A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks.
"
                                                     - Ben Jonson

I have a collection of old, classic books and movies where speaking with eloquence and distinction was standard practice. One of the things that is so delightful about old films is the joy of listening to (mostly) correct grammar and graceful, deliberate speaking.
It was common practice to speak with clear dictation and annunciation. 

It was normal to hear articulately constructed sentences and intelligent, subtle wit. I realize movies are scripted, but just as modern scripts reflect today’s twitter world, these old scripts were also written to reflect the common speech of the day. Speech which today has sadly become uncommon.

I enjoy these films because they provide the rich pleasure of glimpsing into an era when every other word was not “like”, “um”, “ya know” and so forth. The Prince and the Pauper demonstrates how the social rank was not solely determined by wealth alone but by refined speech and social graces.

We are seeing a significant decline in the proportion of a truly literate society. Forums all over the internet expose the total and wretched failure of public school systems who are churning out “graduates”who can’t spell or construct grammatically correct sentences. Our present society has succumbed to mind numbing gibberish in which people have lost the ability to express themselves in an eloquent manner.

This practice seems to be especially prevalent in many minority communities where common expressions include, “Knaw I mean?”, “Knaw I’m sayin?”, “Ya feel me?”, “Ya heard me?”, “Aw-ight”, “fo real”. Some may say these are just colloquialisms but I say they are simply a disgrace to the English language.


People in average communities also have succumbed to a base way of speaking. Spend any amount of time near people in their 20's and you'll hear what I mean. 

"I was like, "Whoa...seriously?" 

Why is it that we know longer find it necessary to make declarative statements? I have had entire conversations with people who end every sentence with a question. I’ll give you an example.

Me: Excuse me do you know if the manager is available to speak with me?
Girl: Um, I think he’s like around somewhere? (stands awkwardly while picking at a fingernail and chewing gum open mouthed.) But ...I haven’t, like, seen him in the last couple hours? So, um, you could, like, probably try looking around for him?"


Why is that people don’t feel it necessary to express themselves in an articulate manner? This generation has lost the passion for the human voice and the fluency that accompanies it.  I believe the lost art of speaking beautifully is due primarily to public schools and their deliberate dumbing down of the inmates within.  And secondarily to our culture’s infatuation with social networking and the pressure to conform and be “real”.


I'd love to see a revival of beautiful, witty, poetic, clever, intelligent, decisive, declarative and analytical speech. God is the first orator and in his word to English speaking people, the King James Bible we see the beauty and flow of the most magnificent literary work of all time.

And from the Bible we know that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Our words have power. Dumb words are uninspiring and fall flat. We were created to crave acumen mingled with eloquence and come alive in the presence of vivacious and poetic communication.

It's a mistake to speak when you have nothing to say worth hearing. As women we have a lot of words floating around our heads and sometimes we crave adult conversation  intensely after a long day alone with our children.  So when we have an opportunity to speak with adult friends it's tempting to just rattle away. But many words spoken without much thought is like a meal of white sugar. It may fill your belly but it's void of nutrition.

In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. - Proverbs 10:19 

If you are a parent, don’t leave the instruction of your children to others. You should feel obligated to restore the speech of conviction that pierced the hearts of those who heard and read the words of our oratorical ancestors. The resources are plenty, but if you all you have is a King James Bible, you are sufficiently equipped.

English, language and grammar books are unnecessary in teaching a child how to spell, read and communicate properly. In reading, a child visually absorbs appropriate grammar and punctuation. In writing he learns how to apply it. In speaking he learns how to express it.

Homeschooling families have an amazing opportunity in their hands to influence their children for Christ, for eloquent communication skills, for creativity and joy but sadly many of them are listening to the wrong voices and believing the wrong people.

I am revolting against the illiteracy that is sweeping this nation and raising the standard as each of us can do in our own social circles. Do you know what happens when our circles of influence overlap? They connect and swallow up the empty spaces. This is how cell phones work. One tower covers a certain radius or “cell” of air space and in order to have phone mobility, several towers must be placed so that their "cell" areas overlap.

If we each begin to speak with more care, more literacy, less hesitation (um, like, ya know) and more wit and deliberateness in our own circles of life, one day our circles of influence will begin overflowing and overlapping with other circles of influence and we might just turn this titanic around.

Where to begin?

I'd recommend you start by reading the King James Bible. For starters, it's God's holy word and we need it every day!

Secondly, the articulation is a joy. There are only a handful of words you might not be familiar with. Learning words is nothing new.  Remember, 15 years ago you weren’t familiar with a many words that have now become part of our working vocabulary.  (Facebook, e-mail, google, tweet, retweet, blog... need I say more?


Consider eliminating words that are unlovely from your language. Instead of “huh?” try “would you repeat that?” Instead of “Omg”, which is actually blasphemous, you can say “isn’t that something?, "Wow" or "You don't say!". 

Instead of the overused term “way”, as in I had to turn it way up, try using "very", "exceedingly", "abundantly", etc..  You get the idea.

Read well written literary works, learn to appreciate and value beautifully constructed sentences and seek to use them in your every day dialogues.

It is fun to speak well. Language is beautiful and a joy to use properly. Beautiful words fitly spoken can uplift and inspire others. Our forefather’s shed blood to see that we’d have the freedom of speech in our constitution. Let’s not desecrate their sacrifice by letting our brains turn to mush and our speech to twaddle.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.  Proverbs 25:11 

There are a lot of ways we can influence our children and the next generation by simply changing how we ourselves speak.


Find more concise and beautiful ways to communicate what you want to say. Practice at home with your children and make it a game. Who can speak with the most eloquence today? Pick a new essential word each day from the dictionary (I recommend the Webster’s 1828 dictionary) and seek to incorporate it into your conversation.

Play word games and emphasize the instruction prior to the competition. As your family builds skill and confidence the competition aspect will be a natural and rewarding progression.

What are some ways you can think of to revive good speech and grammar starting with our own families?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What a Child Is At 2, He Is At 12

We've all heard the saying.  The reality is, it's true. 

Some might think a 2 year old pitching a fit is kind of cute.  But it is a sign of things to come.  A screaming 12 year old is not cute. 

How should we respond to our children when they want something they cannot have?  If you negotiate, then keep reading! :)  Modern day mothering methods have let us down and produced a crop of frustrated, frowing moms and whining tiny tyrants.  But it gets really ugly when those tots are older.  Our prisons are full of them.

If a mama has kids who whine more than an ambulance, the first thing she needs to do is check her own attitude. If she's grumpy, easily frustrated, disorganized, inconsistent and unthankful, she cannot expect that environment to produce a happy, contented child.  The good news is that when we repent & ask the Lord for wisdom, he gives it liberally and without reproach.

Next, she must take responsibility for the state of her home and make some changes.  Remembering that as mother, YOU are in charge.  I've known many mothers who, when their child becomes ornery, suddenly forget they are the boss.  You can tell because they are the ones telling their kids this information. Mama, if you have to tell your child you are the boss, be certain that you are not.  :) 

One thing moms need to understand is that young children do not have the capacity to truly understand why they can't have, do, see, go, eat, get, buy, take, etc.  All they know is they have God-given drives for pleasure.
Trying to rationalize with a toddler is foolish. And detrimental.  Little ones just need to know the bottom line and who's in charge. Seeking their understanding only weakens your authority as a parent.  Teach your children to take you at your word. A no answer is sufficient all by itself. 

You do not need to explain your decisions.  If a child who hesitates before obeying, has any type of attitude problem or frequently (or even occasionally) asks why after you've given instruction, it is NOT because they are just curious.  It is because they are challenging your authority. Help them learn to take you at your word by always saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Never say no and then give in. 

The arm of discipline should never outreach the arm of fellowship. Make sure that you are in good fellowship with your children.  If you don't have their hearts, their admiration, their love and their trust, then you have some work to do. Seek to establish an atmosphere of genuine love in your home.  Loving your children means setting boundaries for them with calm and ease and all expectation of their compliance.   
A Few Practical Suggestions

Plan what you'll do for each kind of problem behavior your child has. And especially plan what to do before you leave your home, always being sure the child is fed & dry, diaper bag packed (if they still need one) and a clean blanket for on the go naps and so forth.   

Napping Anywhere
It's worth the trouble to teach a baby or toddler to nap anywhere. When my youngest was a baby, we had to attend frequent and long medical appointments and his naptime would often coincide with these.  So before he showed signs of fussing from sleepiness, I would pick him, and gently press his head to rest on my blanketed shoulder and whisper softly, "Go to sleep". 

From the first nap that followed, the expectation was set and from then on, he was trained to begin his "outing nap" on my shoulder.  Later I could lay his soft blanket on the floor almost anywhere and he'd take his nap with the same command.  I would sit right by him rubbing his back and stroking his hair now and then to reassure him until he drifted off.  Background noise, as long as it was reasonable and not sharp, was not an issue. 


The key is to start early and be consistent.  Always remember you're the mom and it's up to you how your household is run.  Create an atmosophere of joy and thankfulness.  Show me a light hearted and thankful mother and I'll show you a happy home.  Like it or not, the mother sets the tone in the home.  And a happy home does not produce a whining, defiant child.


Do you have time for a little reading?  Pick up a few books on parenting from www.nogreaterjoy.org and see if you find a few nuggets of wisdom you can learn by. 

Shopping

We all need to shop and for most of us, that means bringing along our children.   Do you dread this?  You shouldn't, because children can be a wonderful help in the store if you have the right approach and set them up for success. 
But two things have to be remembered:
  1.  Make sure they're fed, dry and reasonably happy before leaving home.
  2.  Make sure you teach them at home what they can expect at the store and most importantly what YOU expect from them while you're out.
Teach them clearly and with a smile.  This isn't Willy Wonka - bribery and motherese.  Promises of treats are not appropriate, either.  And it isn't Nazi Germany. No frowns and threats of punishment. 

Simply state what you want with dignity and respect.  Respect for yourself, the child and the stores you will be patronizing.  Any time a child flares up at your authority, appropriate Biblical chastisement will help him feel secure again.  Why?  Because a child needs boundaries!  And a loving parent who gives him firm and loving boundaries makes him feel secure.  And a secure child is a happy child.

Pre-Shopping Conversations with a Toddler

Here are some examples of the things I said to my children when they were very little before going shopping.  My children honestly never threw fits in a store.  They were my big helpers in the store. They are now in their teens and they are STILL my big helpers in the store with even bigger muscles.  They carry anything and everything for me.  They load and unload the car and help put things away. I'm already realizing that one day my boys will spread their wings and take to the sky and I will miss them so more than I could put into words.

When they were little, recieving compliments everywhere we went was nice and made me very proud of them. But do you know what the best thing was for me?  We had fun together! I actually looked forward to our shopping trips! Sucessful outings begin at home with conversations.

"It's time to go shopping.  I need BIG helpers to help me put things in my cart! (My kids would smile and raise their hands - "me, me!") Thank you Joseph! I will tell you what we need and your job will be to put it into our shopping buggy.  My, your muscles are getting big! You are such a big help to mama."

"Remember...the store will be full of many things but you are not to touch anything unless I ask you to." 

"Timmy, you get to sit in the top seat and hold the shopping list for me! That's an important job - do you think you can do it? You will help me know what I need to buy. You are such a big help to me. Isn't it fun to go shopping together?"


"I will try to get our things quickly so we can be back home soon!"

"We're only going to buy the things on my list, so remember not to ask mama to buy anything else. We must be careful how we spend money because daddy works very, very hard to earn it. Aren't we so thankful for Daddy!? He works hard for us so that we can buy what we need.   Will you help me pick out something special to put in his lunch box tomorrow?"

These conversations should happen before your child even learns to talk. Believe me, start right away.  Awise young mothers will converse with her infant which paves the road to success later on.

Happy Thankful Mama = Happy Thankful Children

There is no need for a child to throw a tantrum when his mama is preparing him and equipping him for life. She is her child's entire world.  Mama, your child sees the world through your eyes.  What are you showing him?

Teach them when they're little.  Train them to behave the way that is right BEFORE the need arises. Correction could be reduced by 90% by training them to do what is right before the need for discipline even arises. It will inevitably arise and when it does, a loving mother will help her child understand through biblical chastisement. 
Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Show her how to answer when she speaks. Just repeat the correct way for her to copy. Talk about a potty seat long before he sits on one.  Talk about a pet long before hse has one.  Prepare, prepare and prepare. Teaching, talking, smiling, reading picture books, going on outings just for fun - just you and the children - these are seeds of love planted in the soft soil of his heart. 

Young moms have a tendency to want adult conversation. This is natural after being home with only little ones all day.  But it's wise to make play dates with other moms infrequent occasions. They tend to not only hinder your chances for training, teaching and enjoying her children while their character is still being set, but also make your already busy day even busier. 

When mine were little, our social occasions were kept to a minimum until they were older. Most of our social engagements were family gatherings. But day in and day out, I guarded our precious home life as much as necessary. And it paid off.  They learned how to behave because I wasn't too busy chatting with another mom to stop and train them. 

I see moms on the playground today doing and saying the most dreadful things to their children - all while trying desperately to carry on a conversation with a friend.  It's a vexing thing to watch a mother wrestle, plead, yell, threaten, ignore her child.  The Bible equates this with hating the child.  Why?  Because it is painful to correct, train and teach a child the way he should go.  It is a personal sacrifice that many parents are too selfish to make.

Which is more important?  Your "friends", statistically, will probably be short term figures in your life.  Your child, however, is a permanant one. 

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  -Proverbs 22:6 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Old Fashioned Broth

When my family had the stomach flu last week, I made a big pot of homemade chicken stock. 


I love making chicken stock because it is very nutritious and loaded with bone building calcium.  It's also easily assimilated and easily digestible and for those fighting off sickness that is a real necessity! 

Broth contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily, like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, gelatin, and trace minerals.

Recipe for Chicken Stock

10 cups cold filtered water
1 chicken carcass (either previously roasted or raw)
1 onion chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 carrots chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon peppercorns
4 whole garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 bay leaf

Put all ingredients in a stock pot and let all ingredients sit in the water for an hour before starting to cook.  This allows the vinegar to break down the calcium.   Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 6 hours or as long as 48 hours. Crock pots work great for this. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. 

When it's done, pour the stock through a sieve into a bowl and discard the solids.  They have given all their nutrients to the broth and are all spent.  This broth has a marvelous, rich flavor that we enjoy eating as just plain clear soup.  No canned broth can rival this stuff.  So easy, so delicious.  It can also be used for cooking vegetables, rice, sauces, soups and gravies.  Yum!





Friday, June 1, 2012

Saxon Math Help

I thought I'd share a wonderful resource for all of you homeschool moms who use Saxon Math Curriculum for your children. I had questions about Saxon and sought some help and solutions to how much time math takes and found this wonderful website.  Art Reed answered most of the questions I had plus more.  I'm so glad I found it and wish I had much sooner!

In general, I'm frustrated with how long math takes. Out of all the subjects, it seems the least practical and takes the most time.  But I am happy with the excellence in Saxon and I don't mind the brain activity that it promotes.  I just wish it could be completed in half an hour.

At one point one concept he explains was huge to me and it will surely thrill my boys when they hear it! Are you ready for it? :-)  There is no need to score the daily math lessons!  Hooray!  :)  Saxon math is designed with a weekly test which is more than enough to determine how the student is doing on their daily assignments. 

What a load off of my mind.  There are many days we did not score the daily work but I felt guilty that we were doing it "wrong".  Now come to find out, it is the best way.  Yessiree, no more daily scoring math.  My kids are going to leap for joy. :)


Our Math Journey

When we began math instruction for our children we were encouraged not to use Saxon's materials until our kids were ready for Saxon 54.  According to popular opinion the early grades with Saxon were a bit cumbersome. 

We followed this advice and did some simple math books and had manipulatives and basically did "fun math" on our own.  When our kids had a working knowledge and understanding of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division we entered Saxon 54. 

Our boys are now using Saxon's Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 and doing very well.  Last year we learned about a trend among homeschoolers which involves only doing the "odds or evens" in Saxon's lesson practice. 

For those unfamiliar with this idea, it simply means that instead of doing all 30 math problems, the student does either the odd numbered problems or the even numbered ones. 


I'm not fully convinced that this is a good idea. I'm considering going back to doing all of them and only skipping a handful of problems (6 per lesson on average) with concepts already mastered.  Since the daily scoring will be removed, there should be time for this. 

Doing It Right Lessens the Time
Art Reed (the author in the linked website) points out that when the program is done properly, it does not take very long.  He lists a string of reasons why most people have trouble and then says, "In any of John Saxon’s math books from Math 54 through Algebra 2, the “A” and “B” students will get their 30 problems done in less than 40-50 minutes. The “C” students will require more than an hour."

I concur with this assessment because my boys usually finish their math in 45-50 minutes and they typically get A's and B's.  Before last year we didn't use the "odds or evens" method. They did everything - from the sheet of facts practice to the warm-up and all the problems.  But now it is taking them over an hour and they "dawdle" more.

My remedy for this is to sit at the table with them during their math each day, doing some quiet activity, and see if we can cut the distractions and speed up the pace. 

I am lucky that they are such great boys and happen to be pretty good at math in general so I am hopeful we can hurdle this plateau and get our motor going again.  :)