A Treasure From a Happy Reader

This letter with the most adorable picture blessed me! I’m so grateful for Adah sharing with me. Thank you to all my loyal readers for your encouragement. I’m looking forward to writing first draft of Finding Change’s sequel.

Love,
Sarah

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify
one another, even as also ye do”
(1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Monarch Butterflies

Good morning, everyone! Maybe this post from Anna Marie will inspire you and your kiddos to take on a Monarch butterfly project. Love, Sarah

A couple years ago, one of Gigi’s sweet friends who raises Monarch butterflies, brought some here to release and made it a mini field trip for the children. We loved it and then enjoyed reading library books about Monarch butterflies. Our very favorite is Monarch Butterfly of Aster Way, our introduction to the Smithsonian Backyard series which we like! (All the links in this post are Titus2’s Amazon affiliate links: see the Titus2 Privacy Policy for more information).

Last spring, the girls received their own copy of the book, a butterfly kit, and a collection of milkweed seeds to raise caterpillars and butterflies. It turned out to be a tremendously happy project that lasted all summer and into the fall. We learned about egg/caterpillar/butterfly life cycles along the way. (I said it was our life-cycle-summer as we also got to learn about lice life cycles… I much preferred the butterflies. 🙂 If you missed it, here’s a post from November about lice.)

We planted lots of milkweed (note: the seeds work best if you keep them in the fridge at least two weeks prior to planting in order to stratify), and the plants served their purpose well, because Monarchs passing through laid eggs on them and we all liked hunting for caterpillars. Even though the caterpillars ate down the plants before they got a chance to bloom, it was pretty interesting to watch them feed and grow so rapidly from day to day.

The girls would select a caterpillar and bring it inside to put in their butterfly net enclosure. Then we had to keep fresh milkweed leaves for it to feed on! Finally, one day, the caterpillar crawled to the top, shed its skin, and hung as a chrysalis. The chrysalis eventually turned translucent, and we saw the beautiful Monarch butterfly burst forth! Releasing it outside was always exciting, and then the children had their enclosure available for a new caterpillar. 🙂

I love this as an illustration of how God makes us into a new creature, and how He makes all things beautiful in His time! We know He is doing that with my cancer journey too, and are so grateful for your prayers along the way.

Love,
Anna Marie

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”
(2 Corinthians 5:17).

Homeschool Question from a New Homeschool Mom

Schooling at home

Here’s a question from one of our readers who has just become a homeschool mom because of the coronavirus pandemic:

I understand that children in Grade 1, 3, and 6 (twins) will have different material, but how does one effectively manage different attention spans? My youngest boy was a good sport for about 30 minutes, and then he wanted to play but not alone, with me or his siblings. They had work, and I needed to help my daughter with music theory. I tried to redirect with a book and LEGOS and was successful, but I can see this becoming an issue day to day. A mom

This is where a schedule really helps. What about figuring out activities to keep the first-grader occupied? You could have each of the older children spend 1/2 hour playing with him. That gives him a playmate for 1.5 hours of academic time. They lose a 1/2 hour of school time but gain an hour of uninterrupted work time, and so do you. 

You could schedule him for play alone time. While it might not be his favorite time of the day, doing it consistently each day should eliminate his grumbling about a playtime alone because it soon is habitual—simply what he does every day. You won’t have him pestering you to play with him at that time and you feeling guilty because you can’t. I expect that he would soon be creative and able to occupy himself for whatever amount of time you scheduled for him, perhaps 1/2 hour.

If you spent 1/2 hour with him each morning and if he had another 1/2 hour of book time, you would have filled a three hour time block for him each morning if his play alone time was 1/2 hour. 

When each piece of the schedule happens at the same time every day and becomes habitual, it is easy—just like brushing your teeth. You aren’t having to tell every one what to do or telling them “no” when they ask to do something but should do school. Simplify your new homeschooling life with a schedule.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Blog reader son home from school

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall
be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9 

Backyard Energy-Burning Family Activities

Today Anna Marie is sharing some new favorite outside activities to help their kiddos expend energy! We hope this is helpful to you. Love, Sarah

Christopher is amazing with thinking of games to play with the children. When I saw a comment requesting ideas for activities to burn off children’s energy, I wanted to share a couple things Christopher did with the children recently.

Hopping races.

He tied their legs together with velcro straps he has for work projects, but you could easily use strips of an old t-shirt or something. As you can see, everyone got really into it, including Elizabeth who wanted me to “hop” her across the yard, too!

Three-legged races produced lots of giggles and helped to encourage team effort.

A new spin on freeze tag: tag with the ball!

There was so much laughter and running, and I was impressed with how good the children’s aim was while running and tossing at moving parents and siblings! 🙂 (Obviously, you want to use balls that are soft and won’t hurt their targets.)

I hope that’s helpful and maybe will jog your brain for some ways you could implement similar ideas if cool weather is keeping you indoors!

Love,
Anna Marie

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving”
(Colossians 4:2).

Checking In During This New Season

We are wondering how you veteran homeschooling moms are using any extra time you now have at home with many totally restricted to home and others in areas where most activities have been canceled. Are you using that extra time with your children, tackling projects that are hard to get to, planting your garden, getting clothes changed out for the new season, catching up on homeschooling?

I am praying that some of you might experience a quieter season of homeschooling without so many outside-the-home school related activities. The moms I often hear from are exhausted and worn out, not from homeschooling but from being away from home so much for other activities that they have alongside their homeschooling.

What are your biggest struggles with your current situation? Is grocery shopping hard for you? If so, how are you handling it? Are your husbands doing the shopping if they are home from work?

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among
the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). 

Anna Marie’s Latest Update

Happy Monday, y’all! I know there are lots of new normals happening, but I hope your week is starting out blessed. Today, Anna Marie is sharing the latest on her health. Sarah

It’s been a while since we posted an update but wanted to, first of all, thank each of you for praying for us. Since I last wrote here, COVID-19 has swept the nation, and I think most families are now finding themselves at home together quite a lot! For us, we haven’t felt many tremendous lifestyle changes as we tend to be home most of the time anyway, but it definitely adds another layer of complexity to figuring out my treatments. None of this complicates anything for God though, and we are excited to see Him leading.

We got some good news a couple days ago! My CTC (circulating tumor cell count) has dropped to 0 (in January it was 2.3; not sure what it had gone up to when surgery was done). While in some cases a 0 could indicate “no cancer,” there is always the possibility that some of the circulating cancer cells that were previously in the blood, while not circulating now, have settled in an organ somewhere (where they can lie dormant). While we are still working toward a chemo plan of some sort it was definitely a praise that there do not appear to be CTCs in my blood.

We have been consulting with various oncologists to decide on the treatment plan we feel is best for me. The Lord used some unlikely circumstances to get us in contact with a medical oncologist in Seattle, with whom we consulted remotely. He does chemotherapy in a different way than is “standard of care” yet with very good clinical success (over the years he is seeing about a 1% recurrence rate vs. 10-15% recurrence rate with standard chemo)—all of this with less toxicity and suppression of the immune system typical with standard chemo. We would love to get the chemo plan administered locally, however, because it is not yet widely used in the medical community we suspect that won’t be possible. Which means I will likely be going to Seattle for three months of treatment. As you can imagine, there are a lot of logistics to that, especially with COVID-19 right now. We are praying that we can find someone to do it locally or that God will make the way clear for me to get treatment in Seattle.

I have a few ideas for upcoming blog posts. I’ll have to work to keep them pretty short (not one of my strengths) since my time is limited, but I’m excited about some special activities we’ve done recently that you might enjoy trying with your own family! A sneak preview is that we did our Scriptorium virtually with a couple other participating families by using Google’s free video-conferencing technology. Another day, we did a solidarity pack from Feed My Starving Children and free activities from Compassion International to have an afternoon/evening focused on children in poverty in other countries. It helps put “quarantine” in perspective when you think about how abundantly blessed most of us are compared to so many in the world! And it’s a good reminder to be praying and looking for ways to bless others instead of focusing solely on what’s happening in our own lives right now.

Love,
Anna Marie

“For there is not a word in my tongue,
but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before,
and laid thine hand upon me.”
Psalm 139:4-5

The Maxwell family and ministry blog of Titus2.com.