Thursday, November 9, 2017

Our Homeschool Language Arts Program

Home school has been the biggest blessing!  It is wonderful and hard and beautiful and tough.  As with anything worthwhile, it takes a lot of effort and work.  But that is what makes it beautiful!
At the end of the day I am exhausted and happy. I feel like the Lord is blessing us every day with help beyond our own abilities.  Patience, Peace, Love, the Spirit and ideas that flow of how to teach and understand.  We pray that the Spirit will be with us in the day to enlighten our minds and when frustrations pop up we say "This is not about ____________(math or grammar or spelling) this is about faith.  This is about character and learning to go through life with a good attitude and great work ethic.  This is about learning to love learning.  

We began homeschooling when River was going through chemo and had NO immunity.  0 protection against germs.  This has turned out to be such a Silver Lining and MAJOR blessing.  River went to the first 2 weeks of 3rd grade in 2014 before we found cancer and major surgeries and chemo.  We sent her back to school for the first 2 months of 4th grade September 2015.  This is River the day before Halloween 2015 trying on her costume and her fantastic wig!

Halloween afternoon landed her in the ER with a fever.  I teased her that she just needed to pretend to be a nurse not actually go to the hospital and be with nurses and doctors.  :)  
That progressed into a nasty cough that all were monitoring closely hoping it wouldn't turn into pneumonia.  She was in bed majorly scarily sick for a month.  I felt inspired to homeschool and asked a dear friend what she did for homeschool and got some wonderful suggestions for Math U See and The Family School from Latterday Learning. 

The one that overwhelmed me the most was Language Arts.  Where to start?  What to do?  This all came at me so fast and I wanted to do a good job homeschooling.  This fell into my lap as I was praying and contemplating:

This program really has been Good and Beautiful for our family.  I have enjoyed teaching reading to our girls and have gotten so much fulfillment out of seeing it click in their minds.  They have blossomed and LOVE reading.  They can often be found 1st thing in the morning with books side by side reading and sharing what they are learning with each other. 

Silver is sitting on the heater and Summer is in front of its heat 

 Reading all throughout the day and late into the night are every day tender mercies.  I believe if you know how to read and have a love of learning you can learn anything.  

The relationships with our girls has been wonderful.  I sit down with them one on one.  I LOVE the questions The Good and the Beautiful curriculum brings up and the things that we ponder as we move through the books.  It speaks of God and of character - helping them truly internalize a loving Heavenly Father and his beautiful world he created for us.  Loving goodness and family is another major theme.  

The Good and Beautiful language arts covers:

              • Phonics and Reading
              • Spelling
              • Grammar and Punctuation
              • Literature
              • Art Appreciation
              • Writing
              • Geography
              • Handwriting
Seriously!! It's all right here!
All things Language.  And Art!  We have LOVED the art appreciation.  One time I only had 5 minutes left of the lesson and the art appreciation was to write a story about what could be happening in the picture.  I showed Silver the picture how pretty it was and then moved on going to come back to it the next day.  Silver says "Wait!  Aren't we going to talk about the picture???"  I asked her if she liked doing that?  YES!  I said tomorrow we get to talk about it and write a story about it.  "OH!  That's even BETTER!"  I love it!

I am so excited to be starting level 4.  Levels K-3 are done mostly with mom and we work through it together.  Levels 4+ are mostly self-directed.  They do one lesson in language arts and one in art.  It is full color and the projects look fantastic.  I love the idea of River having a set assigned amount a day that she can see what she needs to accomplish.  

We have done this for just coming up on two years now.  We have done levels K, 1, 2, 3 and starting 4 the end of the month!  Grammar and all of Langauage Arts is my personal biggest struggle! 
Give me math!  History YES!  Science Absolutely!
Grammar - I'd really rather not.  Spelling...overwhelming!
HOWEVER with this program it is open and go!  You open to the place you left off and work through the book.  It is presented in color with a lot of variety in their activities and worksheets.  

We LOVE the readers!  Even if you don't homeschool or are looking for a good book for them to read at their level - these are compilation of stories that are wholesome and enjoyable!  The girls LOVE reading them and have fun when one reads the book and the other remembers the story they talk about it.

They posed for the 1st picture and then I came back 20 minutes later and they were all reading their readers :)  THE BEST!

The first year I wanted to love The Good and the Beautiful.  I wanted to see it as beautiful but I got caught up in how advanced it is and how hard teaching grammar is for me.  My attitude was contagious and River didn't love it either.  The second year I went searching for something as a better fit for our family.  The Good and the Beautiful team emailed me back explaining why grammar is so important and why they teach it the way that they do.  I found the Good and the Beautiful Community group on Facebook that answers questions I have and gives great tips on teaching and helping them understand.  

I found that this is something I (unfortunately) couldn't avoid and needed to teach.
After a MAJOR attitude adjustment and learning that this is presented in a wonderful way I gave the 2nd year a go.  I decided to learn right alongside them.  It has been a blessing!   I found that this is really my dream curriculum - this would be what I would create if I could design it myself.  I decided to trust the process and mostly go for the character and goodness it inspires with language arts on the side.  

I have seen vocabulary increase, reading skyrocket and spelling improvement!  River really had no spelling for years in the hospital and afterwards in my overwhelmed state and developed some really bad habits when it came to spelling.  She loves to write but spelling was not even attempted.  The Good and the Beautiful teaches spelling with lists of words to memorize and learn but also sprinkled throughout the course is patterns of spelling that are reviewed enough to learn the pattern without being too overwhelming.  I have seen a great improvement.  

Check out The Good and the Beautiful at

A wonderful part about it is levels 1-5 are available as free downloads. 
They are also extremely affordable to purchase too -  I find that it is cheaper to order through them  - I tried printing it the first year on my own and yes, much cheaper to go through them. They have done an excellent job and keeping the cost down.  

One thing that is encouraged is writing thank you cards.  We have MUCH to be thankful for and MANY to thank and this has been such a fun thing to show our gratitude:

Another thing I LOVE is their book list!

I want to only have my kids fill their mind with wholesome, good, character inspiring literature.  With so much filth, disrespect and attitudes today I only want good going into their minds.  But I don't have the time to preview books before they read them.  Jenny Phillips has a book list that I know that everything in it meets my standards - 

1. Avoids All Uses of Profanity and Taking God's Name in Vain
2. Avoids Violence Used for Entertainment or Shock Value or That Is Graphic
3. Does Not Weaken Family, Faith, or Christ‐Like Behavior

• Portrays strong families, motherhood, and fatherhood as desirable and noble. Portrays parents as valuable, involved, and helpful
• Promotes respect and appreciation for teachers, peers, siblings, and extended family
• Portrays faith in God as desirable and noble
• Portrays learning and education as desirable and noble
• Does not portray bad behavior or weak character traits as humorous, entertaining, normal, or acceptable (laziness, negativity, flippant attitude, disrespect, cruelty, violence, gossip, pride, vanity, self‐centeredness, revenge, greed, worldliness, unkindness, immodesty, immorality, lack of depth of character)

Here is a link to the list:
It is usually $5 but it is being offered until November 11, 2017 for free!

We have founded "Friend School" with the girls reading out loud to Tanzi and friends and cousins
They read the "Friend" magazine and other picture books so that they practice reading out loud and the youngers can listen to the books.  It has been great!

The Good and the Beautiful also offers courses in History, Science, Nature Notebooks, and Typing.  
River has LOVED the typing course too.  It has watercolor pictures throughout and is presented in a way that is one concept building on another that she has seen steady progress with.  

After 2  years of homeschool I  have finally found a great way that works well for us to organize our homeschool materials.  These are 31 brand bags and I love how they don't have a top so they can throw binders in standing up and it holds everything.  Pretty roomy - they have 2 good size mesh pockets on either end and 5 total pockets on the sides.  We hold our reading stuff, math books, a white board, stickers and a box with pencils, dry erase markers, scissors, etc.  

Then when we are outside, inside, over to the kitchen counter, the couch or the bedroom floor...or in a crib :) it comes with us and we have everything we need without getting up.  
(Silver doing spelling in Ridge's crib)
 We put it on a bookshelf at the end of the day.  

Thank you Jenny Phillips and Team for a wonderful addition to our life!
Hoping your days are filled with good and beautiful things!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Welcome to Our Family Baby Ridge!

Where to catch up after a year of not updating my blog...
River got to stop chemo back in June!  YAHOO!!!  
We have watched her body slowly rid itself of many of the side-effects of chemo.  She still has bouts with pain/nausea/constipation, etc. but for the majority of the time she is running, biking, skipping, and full of health, happiness...and Hair!  
Every day we are reminded of how blessed we are to have her with us.  
We started Homeschooling - What an amazingly wonderful adventure this has been (more on this later!)
But the biggest change has been the addition of this little man to our family:

Ridge Brock Henderson

November 7, 2017
8 lbs 15 oz
21 inches long

All of our girls were tiny 
River:  7.0 Pounds
Silver:  6.8
Summer: 6.4
Tanzi 5.10
Ridge almost 9 lbs
I was a bit worried with the trend of each baby being smaller than the last that this little boy would be tiny too.  NOPE!   This one has been a totally new baby experience for us!  

 We love to name our children after nature.  
Here is a picture with all of their names:  
We have a River with Silver highlights - the tree even shimmers with Silver, in the Summer with Tanzi (flowers) with a mountain Ridge in the background.  LOL!

“There are many scriptural references to mountains as places where sacred works were done and to mountains as temples and temples as mountains. This photograph represents my personal feeling for the Wasatch Mountains and the Salt Lake Temple.” —Don Busath (artist)
Brock is my maiden name.  Brock to me represents our family being Forever and the hope and peace that brings our hearts.  

This little guy has 5 mothers at home :)  His sisters Love and totally Adore him!
We would set a timer for 20 minutes and rotate which one was holding him.
River probably changes over 1/2 of his dirty diapers and if he lets out a holler he's instantly got someone to coo to him and hold him. 

All listening to Daddy read stories.  
L-R Silver, Summer, River holding Ridge, Colt

Colt and Ridge in the office

Starting him out on BYU football early!

This sums up my feelings of the past several months:  We Give Thanks
Gratitude for my sweet girls for Ridge in our life and our River-girl doing Amazing!  
God is so Good!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

River's Christmas Message

River was asked to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting - we belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as Mormons). The topic was Christmas. She was given a blank word document. I only corrected spelling and added 4 words to her talk, but other than that these are her words. 
River lives joy - she finds something to enjoy every day.

River Joy's Talk:
So I want to start out by saying last Christmas was a lot different than what I think this Christmas will be. I think it will be a normal Christmas for me I HOPE. I was really excited when I could go home for Christmas last year. I was really really really sick and in a lot of pain last year.
I am so very glad that Jesus was born, and that he is my Savior. Sometimes in the hospital when I was in pain or having a bad day, I would say a prayer and most of them went like this:

Dear Heavenly Father if you can’t take it away, then help me find a way to enjoy it . He has he has helped me enjoy it. I have made great friends and I have changed. I used to be a shy little girl and now I’m not that shy little girl.

Here is a different version I used to be a caterpillar, but now I’m a butterfly. Heavenly Father is the king so that makes us princes and princesses. He is our father too so that makes us brothers and sisters. Has anyone ever heard the story of the princess and the peas? Well I’ll tell it to you .

We don’t feel peas to tell if were princesses or not we have to feel peace. Through those 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds we have to feel the Holy Ghost. Through all the challenges in our lives we have to feel the peace , comforting and the warning of the Holy Ghost.

My mom read me, silver, and summer the princess and the pea. She had us lay down on our pillows as she read. At the end of the story she had us look in our pillow cases and we each pulled out 3 peas in a zip lock bag . We could not feel the peas during the story. After we knew they were there we could feel them. People who don’t know about the gospel that’s like having 3 peas in your pillow.  Me and my sisters were excited to find the 3 peas just like some people will be excited to find the gospel. If you have the gospel in your life and you believe it you will be blessed.
In the hospital my mom and dad could buy me toys, food, and medicine, but they could not buy me spiritual comfort and everything the Holy Ghost gives.  You need to be baptized, confirmed and live righteously to have the gift of the Holy Ghost with you always. I’m so very glad I was baptized before I got cancer. Remember if you were here at the primary program the song I sang. “Help Me To Stand”  (See Below)

Songs help us remember Jesus and Heavenly Father. When I was really sick in the hospital and if you came and visited most of the time I would be a sleep. But if you were lucky you would come when I was awake. You would get a friendly hug from my mom and dad. We would sing a song from my mom’s handy dandy app.

When you sing the word “me or I” do you just sing a song because that’s how its written? Or because you have a testimony right here in your heart.

Do you sing I AM A CHILD OF GOD? Or do you sing I am a child of God because that’s how its written. I want you to think about that. Do you sing it because you have a testimony of it or because that’s how its written. When we sing songs from the Hymn Book or primary songs we're praising God.

God has dried my tears, he’s walked beside me, he’s comforted me. He gave us so much like food and water, a body, each other, the Earth and so so so much more. Here are some ways to thank him.
Pay your tithing, read your scriptures, say your prayers and thank him in them for every thing you have, go on a mission, and be a righteous person.

Have any of you studied history, well if any of you have noticed history well my mom showed me that history becomes “His (Jesus) His-story. So I want you to study his story - you can find it in the scriptures.
Now when each time I look at the word history I think of His- story. I LOVE CHRISTMAS I can’t remember what year or what month they said this in general conference I don’t even know who said it but I do remember what he said. Quote “if you drop the last syllable in Christmas it becomes Christ” end quote.

Now when I look at the word Christmas I remember Christ. I think that green and red are the perfect Christmas colors why? red symbolizes the blood Jesus bled in Gethsemane and green for life because Jesus is the life of the world.
I would like to end my talk by saying one scripture that means a lot to me:

“But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength”
2 Timothy 4:17 in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

River has had 7 surgeries. At her last surgery we met the anesthesiologist in the waiting room. He explained what was going to happen and then took us down the hall. We came to a door where we had to go one way and River with the anesthesiologist the other. River felt afraid. She said that she took a deep breath and prayed to Heavenly Father: "Help me to be strong".

After the surgery she was in the recovery room and the words "Help me to stand, help me to be strong" came to her mind. When she got to the Ronald McDonald House and to her bed she then wrote down these words in her journal and put it to music:

By River Joy Henderson, age 9
Sung to the tune: Can a Little Child like Me?  (Page 9 Primary Children's Songbook)

verse 1
Help me to stand
Help me to stand
Help me to be strong
In thy own Hands
Help me to stand
Help me to be strong
If It is Thy will
If it is Thy will
Father in Heaven
If it's Thy will.

verse 2
Help me to stand
For the right and not the wrong
Help me to be strong
Use my courage for the right
I thank Thee for the right
We will follow in the light
Father in Heaven
Father in Heaven
We will follow in the light.

We thank Thee for the truth
That we know of Thee
And we thank Thee for blessings
We will follow in the Light
And if we follow in the Light, then we will receive everlasting light and life.

This song is especially touching to me as her mom watching her struggle at times just to be able to stand by her bed. She needed to get out of bed 3 times each day. Sometimes it was more than she could physically do just to stand :( 

Help me to stand. If it's Thy will.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Exploring Florida - Swamp, Beaches, and Ocean - Make a Wish part 5 (Final Chapter)

Our favorite beach!  WARM shallow water with beautiful weather!

River made this cancer heart with green sea weed for the cancer ribbon and brown sea weed for the letters c-a-n-c-e-r.  Seashells made up the heart.  River thought the green was neat as liver cancer's symbol is a green ribbon.  Blue = survivor.  Gold = Childhood cancer and lung cancer = white or see-through.  

Sea shells!

River's wish:  to go deep sea fishing!  Disneyworld was a very nice add-on :)


Silver got sea sick!  Here she is with River's blue throw up bag

We were hoping to catch a grouper - they can get to 400-500 pounds.  River caught a grouper!  Our guide said it was the tiniest grouper ever!!!  In our book tiniest are the best!  They want to catch the tiny babies. 

River had so much fun fishing for bait fish.  The water would "boil" when over a school of fish.  This rod had 6 hooks on it.  River would jig the line a bit and catch 5 at a time!!!


Air boat ride on the swamp.

Our guide was awesome!  He took the girls into a lily pad cluster.  They had fun picking the flowers.

Found 'em!

We drove a lot! 

Snacks :)  Jerky!

Florida: we think of you often and totally hope we can revisit in the future.
We even saw a manatee and dolphins!

To all of our Arizona Make a Wish donors: 
Many Thanks for an amazing trip with wonderful memories!