Chapter Books and THE Book List

My oldest son spoke in paragraphs by the time he was 2 years old.

He learned to read at 3.

He read chapter books by 4.

He likes to read more than play outside.  Sometimes we have to ask him to take his book outdoors.

One time we were at the library and checked out a book called “Year of the Jungle”.  It was a picture book and had a girl with curly hair hiding in the jungle on the front.

I didn’t think anything of it and we brought it home.

Later, my son told me the book was “weird” and he had chosen not to finish it.

I looked it over more intently and it was about a little girl whose father had left for Vietnam.  It goes into details about war and her father being gone and later, finally returning.  It had comical looking cartoonish images, but then dealt with such a serious and raw subject.

That taught me to look more intently at what my son, at what any of my kids, were reading.  (It turns out, by the way, that the author also wrote The Hunger Games.)

Books “for children” cover topics such as murder, adultery, idol worship, etc. and treat them like, well…child’s play.  Something to be passed over.  Just part of the story.

No, thank you.

I want my children to ingest wholesome thoughts and images. To be inspired by heroes of great character.

I don’t want my son mindlessly reading through a series that appears to be fine and later delves into sorcery (The Magic Treehouse series) or any other topic I find worthless.

I don’t want my son to just fill his mind with junk, either, with countless books of “twaddle,” as Charlotte Mason, the educator, phrased it.

So…I needed a solution.

I scoured the most worthwhile homeschool curriculums for those who appreciate “living books”.

Sonlight. My Father’s World. Heart of Dakota. Memoria Press. Veritas Press. Beautiful Feet. Ambleside Online.  Biblioplan.  Simply Charlotte Mason.

I started typing. I made an excel list of every book for his age range that they recommended and detailed when each of the curriculums recommended them. Then, I moved on to the next age range and the next. I then compiled a list of all of the recommended book so I could start working on building our library with quality books that he could read through.

A library at his fingertips.

An age-appropriate, maturity-level-accurate book list that includes so many classics that I remember and enjoyed.  And many that I wish I had read when I was younger.

However, I can take my time and read what I would like when I have time. I don’t have to read everything single thing before he does. I can (for the most part) trust these books as being the best of the bunch, because the creators of these curriculums already did that footwork.  Now, I just tied it all together.

I’ve shared this list with others (that whole treat others how you want to be treated thing) and they were so appreciative.  Moms gushed on and on about how helpful this was.

So here.

I’m sharing it with you, too.

You can download the Excel list here: Of The Vine Chapter Books

(Please don’t send to others, but have them visit my site. I’ve worked really hard on this and I would be disrespected to have this passed on without my knowledge.  Thanks for understanding.)

I hope this helps you. Either way, I put in way too many hours to mention to make this list.  🙂

However, I now have a list that I can use to quench my son’s thirst for books!

Growing our library bit by bit.

Growing our library bit by bit.

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2014-15 Curriculum Choices

Okay, so I’ve decided to actually work on this blog and keep it up-to-date.  I need it myself, just to remember what we’ve done!

This year has been so amazing.  We found a great math curriculum and a wonderful history curriculum.  I am feeling more settled as a homeschooler, not just looking for the next-best-thing.

So, you ask, what did we use?  Well, we all like to peek into each other’s curriculum shelves, so to speak, so here you go:

Adventures in U.S. History (My Father’s World)-not all pictured

This curriculum encompasses our Bible, History, Geography, Science, Music and Art.  We didn’t stick with the art, but the rest we thoroughly enjoyed.  We made teepees and wigwams our of construction paper, visited Mount Vernon, ate hasty pudding, learned patriotic songs, attended a showing of the Nutcracker, and enjoyed an outing at the Frontier Culture Museum.

We enjoy this curriculum immensely and soon I will write a post about why we left Sonlight and why we are sticking with My Father’s World.

Math Mammoth Light Blue

After using RightStart, my oldest has a firm grasp on basic math and tested into grade 2, workbook 2 (of 2) for Math Mammoth.  He finished that and part of 3rd grade math.  We will continue to use RightStart A and B, however, for younger kids. I just couldn’t keep that pact up (teaching each kid separately for 45 minutes at a time).  We will also continue to use the games, because well,…we love games!

Rod & Staff’s English 2: Preparing to Build

Honestly, I was just tired of the curriculum we had used before for this and my son was, too.  I had heard great things about Rod and Staff, so I found a used copy and we tried it out.  We really like it! We do most of it orally, so it isn’t too much written work for him.  When we do it that way, it typically takes about 5 minutes!  The books are filled with examples from the Bible or about little boy and girls and their church families or helping around the home.  Very sweet.  We also used IEW’s Bible Heroes a little bit and will continue that next year.

All about Spelling: Level 3

We have stuck with this spelling program. This was actually our favorite year of it. My son now really enjoys spelling and thinks it is fun. it is one of his favorite parts of school. He used to dread it (using the same curriculum), but this year the child goes on a “search” for silent e’s and writes in their homophone list.  I don’t use the tiles all the time, because he bores of that quickly, but I have him write the words on the board, which he prefers.  If he gets one wrong, then he has to build it, but he much prefers this way of teaching.

Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day

We had already completed the science from Adventures in U.S. History the prior year with Sonlight Science A.  Some f the same books are scheduled.  So, as we needed a science, we tried out the very popular Apologia Elementary series.  Some ladies on the MFW forum suggested the Flying Creatures book, because Adventures covers birds as part of their state study.  We learned a lot. I mean, a lot, with this curriculum.  However, I think it might have been a little too extensive. I don’t think I ever needed to know that much about birds.  I will say, however, that we are not fascinated by birds and constantly comment on birds that we see. My oldest son even keeps a log of what birds he has seen and adds to this each new sighting.  I look forward to using other subject books of theirs, such as Land Animals. (To be fair, we have only covered birds, bats, and pterosaurs by the writing of this post.  Perhaps, we will enjoy the insect portion.) The notebooking journal (we chose the Junior version) was fun for him to do and, especially once I realized we didn’t have to do all of it.

Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin American)

My son has continued to use Rosetta Stone, slowly but surely, and is really learning Spanish! He even likes to teach his baby sister Spanish words.

We also participated in a co-op, which I love more each week we meet.  There is a mom’s Bible study, and classes for those in nursery on up through high school  My oldest son was in chorus, etiquette, a state study, and literature class.  We have made good friends, as well.

We really enjoyed this year and will be sticking with our choices, so that makes things much easier for next year! Last year at this time, I was in a researching frenzy trying to figure out what curriculum I would want to use. Now I’m really happy with what we have going on here.

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Selling used curriculum

Lately, I have been given curriculum and books that I really can’t use or have doubles of.  Combine that with the fact that I don’t have a smart phone, so I can’t see my extensive list of books we own while out at used curriculum fairs, and thus have frequently bought a book at a reasonable price that we already owned, and…

I’ve decided to sell my curriculum on Facebook. I recently purchased from another lady who sold books online there and I have decided (with the support of my husband) to do the same.

You can now see picture books, chapter books, and other used curriculum (some new) at:

Twice Blessed Books

Twice Blessed Books

I hope it’s a success!

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Perhaps That Ache is the Holy Spirit

One of my dear friends posted a link on Facebook and a comment that read, “I ached so badly for another baby after [my daughter], it was so soo hard. We were blessed with [our third] but I know the ache will be back.”

The aforementioned link was to a well-written blog post entitled “In which I am learning to live with the ache“.

She talks about how she has had three children and now she lives with the ache of wanting more, but how her husband and her are done having kids.  Therefore, she has to live with that ache.

I couldn’t help but post a comment. I just had the overwhelming thought:


Perhaps that ache is God?


Could it be that this world wants us to limit the blessings of God, but He, in fact, does not?

I grieve for so many of my friends and women I meet who have two or three children (not to say it can’t happen when you have even more, but I just tend to know small families), but say that they wish they could have more, but…

Or they wish they could go back and have more.  Perhaps their tubes are tied or their husbands have had vasectomies.  Perhaps in a period of their life when they felt they were struggling to breathe in their life filled with children, they made this pretty permanent decision.

I feel like Satan/this world has sold us a big bag of lies that we are so easily buying into.  We limit our family sizes, keeping to the norms of our modern society, perhaps even pushing the boundaries to have three children, all the while feeling that ache.

God never told us to limit His blessings.

One of the blog comments was “Sometimes the Ache feels confusing and almost like a broken heart… like I’m grieving for all of the babies that will never be.”

This, in itself, is heartbreaking.


I will be posting more about this journey we’ve been on and are still on.

I’m open for discussion.

Perhaps others hearts will be changed as mine have.  Perhaps I’ll gain new information that somehow will change mine.

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Just starting

I have a list of things I want to write about.

I have a slew of ideas of what I want this blog to look like.

I have dreams of comments and giveaways.

But then I realize…none of this will happen if I don’t just actually start writing and posting.  Not just holding monologues in my head, but sharing my thoughts with the world.

I won’t pretend it’s not a scary thing.

I know people will be offended.

This is the internet and while in “real life” we all have opinions, we don’t all share them.  And if we do, most of us try to be careful in how we share them.

And again, most of us would be nice in how we respond to others sharing their opinions, but online…

I know I will get rejected.

I know I will be thought of as crazy.

I know people won’t like me.

That’s scary stuff, BUT…

I also feel this ache inside me to share what I know, what I think, what I’m learning.

I’m cooped up inside this house for most of my days (many days never actually leaving) while I homeschool and raise my children or do chores or cook or you know,…sleep (aah…sweet sleep).

This blog will allow me (hopefully) to reach others, to share what I’ve learned from having three kids (and likely more in the future), to let others peek onto my bookshelves or into my movie drawers or my recipe book.

I guess I just hope that people like me, even though I know they won’t.  I may lose friends over this.

Hopefully…hopefully…I help some people.

Maybe some people will grow closer to Jesus or even learn about who He really is.  I don’t know.  Perhaps we will see.

Maybe this will just become a place where I journal and get my thoughts out and no one ever reads it.

Either way, here goes…

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Preschool Living Book List

I have been working on a living book list especially for preschoolers.  It is an extremely large list of picture books with title and author and I hope to post it soon share with you all.  Look for it soon!

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2013-2014 Curriculum

Well, for my oldest’s preschool year, we started homeschooling. The 2013-14 school year will be our first year on record with the county, but we decided to start last year, as he was learning to read already (CVC words) on his own. He loves to learn and read books, so we chose the following curriculum:

Sonlight Core P4/5 is our main curriculum and is great for preschool and kingergarten children. We will be continuing this into part of next year, as well. We used the Kingergarten readers for the 2012-13 year, though, since he was advanced. This core includes Bible, History, Literature Read-Alouds, Readers, Language Arts, Science, and World Cultures. We chose Sonlight curriculum because it is a Christian company and holds many of our same values, including exposing our children to other cultures and countries of the world, while still teaching a Christian worldview. They also have instructor guides for the parent, which makes my job much easier. (I can make sure they are covering what they should, without major gaps, but I don’t have to spend my whole time researching and scheduling.)

You can read more about Sonlight on their website.

27 Reasons Families Love Sonlight

27 Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight

We also added in Handwriting Without Tears-K (HWOT), a great hands-on program, which is really great for the young children just learning to write and form their letters.  Even C enjoys “building” the letters. The Sonlight P4/5 Core actually schedules HWOT which is really handy.

For our math program, while at the homeschool convention last year, we really fell for RightStart Math, which actually uses an abacus to help them learn their math skills in group of 5 and 10.  I never thought I would be homeschooling and surely not with an abacus! My son is using Level A currently and is doing basic addition.

We are almost through his All About Reading Level 1 lessons.  We purchased the additional games with Ziggy the Zebra (a puppet) and both of my sons play (the two-year-old helps Ziggy pick cards).  The oldest is always begging to play a game with Ziggy.

My son also used Reading Eggs for about 2.5 months and got all the way through it! He is now reading at the 2nd grade level.  It really is remarkable how quickly he learns!  You can find several trial codes for this site online to try it out for free.

For family Bible reading, we have been working through The Jesus Storybook Bible.  This is a really neat children’s Bible, because a) it reads like a story and b) it shows how the whole Bible connects to God sending His son, Jesus.  The boys really enjoy this.

We have been continuing to use our Seeds Family Worship CDs that my husband discovered at the marriage conference we attended last year.  He was looking for scripture verses put to CD and really liked that they gave you two discs, one for you and for a friend, so he bought two of the CD sets.  We have purchased more since then, as the music is catchy and not annoying, like a lot of music made for children can be.  Most of the voices are adults and I would have never even guessed these were for children if I had not already been told.  Samples can be heard here and memory verse cards can be found here.  Andrew goes around singing these songs (and subsequently the verses) all over the house and requests them in the car.

We’ve added in a lot of other books, both picture books and chapter books from the library, along with the many in our collection that we read every naptime and evening.  So far homeschooling is very enjoyable for us all and we hope to keep it that way!

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