2013 US Trip – Part 1

Here are the promised pictures….krikey, sooo many months later.

We start off with a beautiful cuzzie group picture at Great-Granddad and Great-Grandmom Lietzau’s home.

The Cousins

Precious moments…


4 generations


Uncle, Kezia and Grand-dad




Cousins H and Azkarah


Saying good-bye to Michigan and about to embark on a 15-hour drive to Wisconsin.  Boy, was that one looong and tiring, but family-fun-filled drive – 3 cars, 21 people.


Loading up and getting ready to leave.


At Grandma’s and Grand-dad’s home:


Looks small from the outside but spacious within


Tree house on the property


What a view from the house!


This is what I call snow 😉


My snow-girl, Kezia









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Reflections on 2013

2013 was an eventful year in many respects and on many different levels – physical, spiritual, emotional and mental.  Due to Tirzah’s on-going sleep issues with several months of interrupted sleep, Mark and I inevitably began to suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation, which had a huge impact on our home-education with regards to having a set routine each day.  After months and months of little to no sleep, I withdrew into my own little world pursuing mind-numbing interests that didn’t require much effort or intellectual input and left the children to do pretty much whatever they wanted.  Well, not really but close enough!  Of course, the guilt set in but in spite of how I felt I discovered that the art of learning had not lost its hold on my children.  On the contrary, Kezia and Azkarah became immersed in subject matters with an educational flavour to them.  Kezia developed an interest in horses and with the books to hand and more that we purchased, both non-fictional and fictional, she learned more about horses than I  probably ever will.  She now knows about the different kinds of horses and especially about the types of horses used at horse-riding competitions.  All she has learned and continues to learn has been entirely out from her own interest in this subject matter and has had none of my input.  What do I know about horses?  Nothing, except that they have a mane and a long tail and come in different colours ;).  Kezia also spent  a lot of time creating, writing, directing and producing her own plays that she and her sister would act out, and occasionally with her friends who visited.  Despite minimal educational input from me over the course of the year, I was so encouraged to see my girls thriving in their self-motivated and self-directed learning.  This underscores for me the merits and benefits of home-education. It truly is a living and a lifestyle!

2013 ended with an extended trip to the US, a trip which proved to be healing and fulfilling for me on all levels – physical, spiritual, emotional and mental.  The children and I spent a total of 6 weeks in the US visiting and spending time with Mark’s family (parents and siblings with their spouses and children) with Mark joining us half-way through our trip, and with all of us returning together in the new year.  Kezia, Azkarah and Tirzah had a wonderful time getting reacquainted with their cousins, some of whom they hadn’t seen in 5 years, and others who had been born following our last US 2008 trip.  It was a wonderful time for both adults and children – a time of re-connecting, playing games, watching movies, fellowshipping, praying, being knit together, singing, eating and just hanging out.

Pictures to follow…

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Home-Ed Nature Walk

We went on a nature walk at Holmebrook Valley Country Park in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, with 3 other Christian Home-Ed families on Friday, September 20 and here are some of the pictures that our family took.  We weren’t able to identify all the plants and bushes, some with berries, that we came across along the trail.  All in all, it was an enjoyable and fun outing minus Tirzah’s meltdown episodes.  She didn’t want to walk; she wanted to be carried!  Mark came along (he doesn’t work Friday mornings) and it was great having him around to help with Tirzah.

Holmebrook Valley Country Park


arkHairy Caterpillar Juicy Blackberries On the trail with our home-ed family Perhaps Elderberry Plant Picking Blackberries Unknown Plant

There were lots of plants – bushes and trees – to discover and some we were able to figure out what they were with the help of a Nature Guide sheet and book, but others we were clueless what they were.  There were lots of blackberry bushes along the way, and there’s a picture of Azkarah berry picking and enjoying it too!

Then, we walked by the lake and the children enjoyed exploring the surrounding area, looking at the plants and saying hello to the ducks.

Running to the ducks Calm Lake

Holmebrook Valley Country Park

Holmebrook Valley Country Park

All in all, it was a fun morning which ended with tea and biscuits at the home of one of the home-edding families who live right next to Holmebrook Valley Country Park.

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Taking Little Baby Steps

It has been several months since I not only blogged but also did any structured lessons with Kezia.  After several months of very little sleep (due to the sleep problems of our youngest child, Tirzah, who has a rare chromosome disorder) which affected my functionality during the day, we are back on track taking little baby steps in our learning journey.

Today, Kezia and I managed to do a little more than we have done in a long, long while.  I enjoy getting into all the various educational resources we have to hand, and I have really missed our times together.  Today, we reviewed and covered a couple of chapters from First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 1.  We then read the first chapter on Meekness from Book 2 of A Child’s Book of Character Building followed by some Poetry and concluded with Kezia working her way through Math Mammoth.  I am thankful to the Lord for our little baby steps today, and I look forward to getting into more stuff with Kezia in the days to come.

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Still Here

It’s been ages and ages since I blogged.  Life with all its responsibilities and distractions really does get in the way of my best intentions to share our daily life with you.  Our life is one roller-coaster ride with never-ending tasks to do, places to go, people to visit, medical appointments to keep,  etc, etc, but in the midst of our busy life we’re still here – learning, growing, having fun, conversing, play-acting and everything else that takes place in a home-educating environment! 😉

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Learning Kezia’s Way 

Sooo, yesterday we ‘missed’ two lessons – Character Study and Nature Study.  No big deal, right?  I mean, after all, we’re not running an educational race, we’ve no deadlines to meet, no boxes to tick, no catching up to do so if we miss a lesson it shouldn’t matter, should it?  Well, it did matter.  It mattered A LOT to Kezia.  Now that I’ve made a ‘schedule’ of sorts, which is really merely to act as an overview of all the lessons we need to cover and to help me know what I’m doing and need to teach, Kezia is more interested in what she’s learning and wants to know what we’re doing each day.  So, of course, noticing that we missed two lessons yesterday, she suggested we get into those lessons first, before tackling the lessons that were scheduled for today.  I tried to explain to her that it wasn’t absolutely necessary that we do them first thing this morning, but I could tell that she was really keen to read the next chapter in the Character book, A Child’s Book of Character Building, Book 1.  I acquiesced and we read about the next character trait, Creative, and read some portions from the Bible that showed how creative our God is, which is clearly seen in His creation of the universe and of all the living creatures, including man.

Creation/Science Studies

We then covered Lesson 4 from 106 Days of Creation Studies.  Lessons 4 to 8 cover in detail what God created on day one.  I must insert here that this Nature Study book we’re using, on the one hand, presents to the young student clearly that this earth, and indeed the entire universe, was created by God and it’s wonderful to get into the verses, not only from Genesis but also from other portions of the Bible; on the other hand, this is a scientific study of all the elements that came into being through God’s creation.   So, the lessons now go deeper.  In lesson one we were given an overview of God’s creation but from lesson 4 onwards, we’re embarking on a journey of studying in-depth all the various aspects of God’s creation.  So, today’s lesson covered the matter of  ‘Light’.  There were some verses to read and we talked about the different kinds of lights and I gave some examples of light – for instance, I lit a candle, switched on a torch (flash) light.  What I love about this nature book, and indeed most of the books we’re using, is that it instils in the learner a love and appreciation not just for nature but for the God and Creator of nature, and the goal is not that the learner would be in awe of the elements but that s/he would be in awe of the One who created and brought into being all the elements, all the living organisms, etc.

After that enlightening lesson we carried on with the rest of the  lessons for today, with Kezia ensuring that we did everything including a piano lesson!  Attagirl!

*For non-English readers, ‘Attagirl‘ comes from the expression “that’s a good girl” and is an informal expression of encouragement or admiration to a girl.

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So, here’s what our weekly routine looks like [see below].  Since this is not a schedule, I get to tweak it and make allowances for what life throws our way, so for instance, we missed out on a lesson on Character Study as well as a Nature Study lesson today because half-way through our morning it began to snow.  Since our home-schooling corner is at the living room window Kezia was rather distracted watching the snow falling (and what a sight that was – really pretty), and Azkarah was begging to go out so I allowed the girls some outside time in the snow.  You can do that with a routine but with a schedule, oh no, forget the snow and get to work! 😉   It snowed heavily for about 30 to 45 minutes with enough snow for the girls to make snowballs, if not to sled.  They had fun, and that’s what really matters, isn’t it?  Tomorrow is another day for learning.

Kezia leaning on the mailbox

Azkarah’s snowball

Daily Routine

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Yet Another Day

Our morning started with a home-visit from Cathy, Tirzh’s Early Years Development Worker, who usually visits on a fortnightly basis.  She spends about 30 minutes each visit to introduce toys to Tirzah that aid in her development in areas such as hand-eye coordination, hand-to-hand coordination, communication and listening skills, etc.

Much Learning Covered

Although initially believing today to be Saturday and coming downstairs in her pyjamas 😉 , Kezia started on some Math while Cathy spent time with Tirzah.  Today, I allowed Azkarah some video time and she watched a few episodes of the Berenstain Bears.  After Cathy’s departure, and after Kezia had completed her Math lesson, we read through 2 pages from her English Grammar book, First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 1.  Following that, we reviewed the first chapter of the book Hidden Pearls: Great Hymns of Faith and their Inspiring Untold Stories that we had already covered in October last year.  In the first chapter we were introduced to Elizabeth Rundle Charles (1828 – 1896), who wrote the hymn Come and Rejoice with Me not long after her conversion to Christ.  This time Kezia didn’t want us to read through the hymn but to sing along with the accompanying CD, which we did.  That was a sweet and enjoyable moment!

We ended our formal lessons for the day, and indeed for the week, with a History lesson on the Ancient Egyptians reading a chapter from Oxford First Ancient History.

This past week has been the best week in a very long time, in terms of being focussed and actually covering a lot of ground in all the different subjects.  It has been enjoyable and highly rewarding.  All thanks goes to the Lord for making it possible for me to have this structured time with Kezia, and indeed with all three girls.  Tirzah has been most accommodating and as she has been sleeping through the night that may account for her pleasant disposition most of the week 😉

With all that we have done this week, I can happily say that I do not wish to create a schedule (or lesson plan, for want of a better word) after all; rather, I plan to jot down all the lessons covered this week, and then use that as a guideline of what subject matter to cover from now on.  What we want in our household is a healthy routine of doing stuff, not a schedule that causes us anxiety when we don’t adhere to some part or all of it.

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Still More Learning

Science, Poetry and Art Study

After Tirzah’s Occupational Therapist’s home visit this morning, Kezia and I forged ahead in our wonderful world of learning.  We continued with Lesson Two from 106 Days of Creation Studies, then read a selection of poems from a poetry book by various poets such as Christina Rosetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, and others.  Kezia was delighted with the poems and didn’t want to stop reading:) . Following poetry, we studied the first artist in the book, 13 Artists Children Should KnowLeonardo Da Vinci.  Two of his famous paintings were presented to us – Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.  Leanardo Da Vinci was a genius, who had a thirst for learning.  He was knowledgeable in many subjects such as Mathematics, Anatomy, Botany, Physics, Engineering, etc.  He believed that painting was a science, the highest science.  We learned that he was left-handed and all his writings were mirror written (Mirror writing is formed by writing in the direction that is the reverse of the natural way for a given language, such that the result is the mirror image of normal writing: it appears normal when it is reflected in a mirror.  SourceWikipedia).  He was definitely a fascinating person.

Learning Geography

The last two lessons we covered were English Grammar and Geography.  In Geography, Kezia is learning to memorise the countries of Africa.  We’re focussing on the northern countries.  She had 15 minutes to study the map, then when her time was up she had to write down on a blank map as many countries as she could remember.  With this approach it is far easier for the child to remember [the countries] rather than learning [them] by rote.  Visual learning helps imprint words in a person’s mind quicker than mindless repetition.  She enjoyed her lesson, and it was a test for me too, because to be honest I don’t know where countries are in Africa, so I get to learn alongside my child. Isn’t that marvellous?

Whiles Kezia worked on her English Grammar workbook, I read to Azkarah.  She selected a book from the Berenstain Bears series, The Golden Rule.  The books feature a family of anthropomorphic bears who generally learn a moral or safety-related lesson in the course of each story.

Piano Lesson

After lunch, Mark took Azkarah to her trampoline lesson, and whiles Tirzah took a nap, Kezia had a long-overdue piano lesson, which she’d been looking forward to.  She’s been practising on her own every day without any prompting from me.  She’s even began composing her own tunes.

Later on in the evening, we all bundled into the car and drove to Ponds Forge for Kezia’s diving lessons.  It was fun watching her!

Today has been another day of memorable moments, and a lot of ground covered with regards to learning.  We are slowly settling into a routine, and this is really helping the two older girls, especially Kezia, to have some focus and to know and understand that our mornings are primarily for learning in a somewhat structured manner.

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In A Nutshell

Little by little, moment by moment, day by day everything is slowly shifting into place and fitting together.  Today much ground was covered, and again, I am thankful to the Lord for His ever present care, guidance and wisdom.  What would I do without Him?

The Story of the Orchestra

I was a bit slow getting ready for my day so Kezia started her lessons without me. Way to go, girl!  😉 She continued working on her Math lessons.  She has covered so much in just 3 days – totally amazing!!  After nine pages of Maths, we proceeded on to a Grammar lesson, and then I pulled out the book, The Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine, which comes with a CD.  This book is a fun and exciting musical journey for children to learn about the different musical eras (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern) and their composers.  Today’s reading covered the Baroque period, and we read about two composers within that period – Vivaldi and Bach.  Did you know that Bach didn’t become famous until almost a hundred years after his death?  Did you also know that Bach had 21 children, which accounted for his lack of fame, as musicians and composers in those days had to travel if they wanted to be known?  He obviously had his hands full and missed out on travelling! 😉  Alongside to our reading, we also listened to half of a musical piece by each composer.  What a way to be introduced to the compositions of Vivaldi and Bach?  Kezia enjoyed that very much.

After lunch, Kezia practised her typing skills at www.bbc.co.uk/typing   It’s a fun and interactive site for children to learn typing.  Before going off to play, Kezia and Azkarah watched two 10-minute videos from the Knowitall website – knowitall.org.  The videos present children with interesting facts.  They’re what I would call a video diary of science and technology.  Today they watched how a tennis ball is made and the journey of rubbish (trash) from a home to the dump.

That was our day of learning in a nutshell, but remember learning never ends – our children are always learning except when they are asleep although I believe they’re learning even then ‘cos the things they dream about makes you wonder sometimes! 😉

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