The Caskey Family

News from Utah
October 8, 2014, 10:28 pm
Filed under: children, family news, homeschool, Jeremy, Utah

Such a boring title, however, somehow it just doesn’t seem fair to give any one of the events of the past few months the honor of the title of a blog over another.  As if homeschooling, or traveling or life back in the military, or any recent event deserves the title more than the other.

Our God has been faithful to confirm the call that Jeremy felt starting last year to return to the Air Force over and over since we began our journey out West here to Utah.

photo 3-1 copy

Here is some of the beautiful country we drove through on our way here:

photo 2-1 copy photo 3-1 copy 2 photo 4 copy 2 photo 5 copy 2 photo 5 copy 3

Within hours of arriving on base, after a sweet long trip across country visiting friends and family (after a hectic DITY – Do-it-yourself move, AKA “the best way to find out how much you really can do in 48 hours”) we were assigned a perfect house on base, next to neighbors with children our kids’ ages, and even a few homeschooling families.  Within minutes of getting keys, the children had all assigned rooms.  Elijah got the smallest room with a view of the Great Salt Lake and the mountains in the West, so he can watch the sun set from his bedroom window – AMAZING!!  (Yes that is his screen. . .another story and another blog about that sometime soon.)

photo 2
We prayed hard (it wasn’t long, we really didn’t have long before school started) about what to do about school for our children, we decided to homeschool again.  In another blog I will share more about that for those who wish to be tortured with all the fun details!  Simply put, we are LOVING it to no end!

Jeremy has been able to stay busy and is adjusting well to life back in active duty.  He preaches most Sundays at the Chapel, which he has been most thankful for, and has met some godly men who he can learn from and grow with.

We are learning a lot about the culture here, as it is predominately and historically Mormon.  We are so thankful that we serve a God who does not live in temples built by human hands, and who is not limited in His work by our ideas or understanding!  My heart has grown more thankful in the recent months for the grace and mercy of God . . .

Until next time, grace and peace.

From Homeschool to Public School
January 20, 2012, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Elijah, homeschool, Merry, Pictures, Uncategorized

Probably one of the most surprising decisions (to us and others!) since coming to Emporium, was our decision to send our children to public school here in Emporium. There was a lot that played into the decision, but what it came down to was what was best for our children and what would honor the Lord as we try to raise them to fear Him. We have held homeschooling very loosely, committing to it as long as we felt it was the best for our children and family. And we have loved every minute of it along the way.

When we started exploring our options, public school was probably BARELY on the table. However, after visiting the school, talking with faculty and parents who send their children to public school here, we made the decision to try it. Playing into the decision was small class sizes, a Christian principal, and a peaceful school environment.

After Elijah has had one week of school, I think we can say confidently that this is going to be a wonderful blessing! I’m sure we will have our bumps in the road, but Elijah is learning so much, being challenged, and enjoying new friendships.

Such a growing up little boy! I’m missing having him at home, but the times at home can be very sweet, and there’s always homework that I get my “homeschooling fix” with.

We just got word today that a preschool spot has opened up for Merry, and she will be starting on Monday, four days a week, and we can be very involved in her schooling, so we are excited about that. She was bouncing around today like a little rubber ball – she’s beyond excited!

Here are a few pictures of the little five-year-old on her birthday with friends and since with cousins.

Awesome Books are Easy to Find!

We have noticed that the quality of a book DOES determine how long ours enjoy listening. My children tend to prefer “living books” with good illustrations. I could make our favorite books list now, but it would take me days. And every family and child is different, so I thought I would post some links to some book lists that hold some of our most treasured book finds so you could peruse for yourself. I will update from time to time. We’ve not read everything on these lists, but have enjoyed many on each list. . .so we recommend them with the idea that perhaps you will find more good books here than you might find at your average grab and borrow trip to your local library.

To save money, we search online at our library, (have them delivered to the front desk so I can pop in and just pick up if we don’t have time to browse) check as many out as we can, and only buy if it is a true favorite. One would think that would keep our personal library to a minimum. No such thing in the Caskey house!

1. Five in a Row
2. Ambleside Online – for all ages, click on whichever age you are searching for
3. Sonlight’s Read-Aloud List
4. Charlotte Mason Read Around the Year List
5. Tapestry of Grace Book List generator (search by grades and time span you are studying)

Any comments or suggestions for other book lists??

Children’s Greek Curriculum Reviews

I love the endless possibilities in curriculum (SO different from what my mom had available to her!) and since Jeremy’s learned it, I decided to look into Greek language curriculum and came across two resources/curriculums that interest me for the children:

Song School Greek by Michelle Hanne and
Greek Alphabet Code Cracker by Dr. Christopher Perrin

Both are available from Classical Academic Press at very reasonable prices: $16.95 for the Code Cracker and $24.95 for the Song School Greek which includes the student book, teacher’s manual, song CD and downloadable flash cards.

The Code Cracker is 95 pages and teaches the basic Greek alphabet and sounds in a creative way using puzzles and clues of all sorts.
The Song School Greek is a broader more complete curriculum of 224 pages with 30 chapters of reading, writing, and speaking both traditional (Koine/Biblical) and modern Greek. Chapters contain short sections including: Words to Learn, a Chapter Song, The Lesson (main new idea) Practice Your Greek, Grow Your English, Chapter Fun, Show What You Know and other varying sections for review.

1. Material is presented for visual, auditory and hands-on learners (puzzles, writing, etc.)
2. Sections are short, so it is doable
3. The pages of the teacher’s manual match the student book!! Maybe I’m petty, but I despise having to look around on the page of a teacher’s manual for the student page number!
4. The program is self-contained, the student has one book, no need to buy extra resources, yay!
5. That it covers the traditional AND modern variations of the language

One thing so far: I don’t see us being able to use this yet! This is for early elementary, and from my estimation, would probably be most successfully used with children who have a fairly good grasp on English reading and basic writing. . .my guess, probably a 7 or 8-year-old would probably love this and breeze through it.

Buy at least the Song School Greek and if you can, purchase the Code Cracker as a reinforcing/review Friday activity after they have completed their lesson(s) for that week.

One Way to Homeschool
December 23, 2010, 2:17 pm
Filed under: children, homeschool

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Every mommy experiences pressure, and with every decision with our children, it gets more complicated.  How we solve or answer certain questions with our family will not be the same way you answer your family’s questions.  That is one of the beauties of being a family!

One mom asked me some questions about how we decide what to do with homeschooling our children, and a long book of an conversation followed.  I share it here so I don’t have to rewrite this.  If you are not interested in homeschooling. . .skip it, it is TOO LONG for those not interested!!

Wish I had all the answers!! I don’t, but I do have some ideas. First of all, Jeremy and I have talked extensively about what we want out of homeschooling. In a sense we have set priorities and goals.  Perhaps this will encourage you to nail some things down specifically with your husband even though you all know each other really well!   Doing this has helped us to rule out a lot of options and opinions. For example, when people say things like, “I want them to get into a good college. . .” we know that perhaps this isn’t the homeschool opinion we will take too seriously. We can get good ideas and always learn SOMETHING, but we keep their goals in mind in considering how much weight we will give to their opinions or ideas.

Here are a few of our goals:

1. We want them to love to read
2. We want them to know how to read phonetically (by sounding out)
3. We want them to have a balanced education covering all the basic subjects they would be getting in school
4. We want them to learn discipline (how to sit and work, how to follow directions and work in a group)
5. We want them to learn the Word of God
6. We want them to eventually know HOW to learn on their own (and work independently)
7. We want them to be on track with “regular” school children in all subjects
8. We want them to learn history along with church history and in chronological order
9. We want them to be exposed to good art and music

There are others, but these are the basics, from what I can remember. You and your husband would obviously have different goals and priorities. . .you are a different family and have different variables going on than we do.

Out of this flows some priorities:

1. Read aloud A LOT – always more than we are doing!! (we can always improve!!)
2. We focus on reading, writing and arithmetic at this young age, and maintain a strong emphasis on that throughout. This means that I will not buy a curriculum that someone says has weak math, but has an amazing science curriculum. This also rules out unit studies for me because they tend to mash everything together. When I look at a curriculum I look for strong reading, writing and arithmetic. History is a bonus as well as other subjects.
3. We try to have school 180 days out of the year at least, just like regular school,
4. I use grade standards to measure if my children are on track and to plan my year goals
5. We mix history and Bible together, and though Daddy does most of our Bible teaching, I add to it during school.
6. I try to challenge Elijah to do some work on his own if he can. As he gets older he will do much more on his own. This frees me up to school the other ones and teaches him to work on his own if he ever goes into school, This also frees me up to spend the time I need to giving him one-on-one instruction in history, Bible, math, etc.

The options available out there are overwhelming to the young (and old!) teacher and mom.  By setting goals and priorities, I can make the smaller decisions without hassling Jeremy with all the details, and if I work out a plan, when I get to the end of it and share it with Jeremy, it is more likely to be what we both want for our family if we have laid out what our goals and priorities will be.

REMEMBER, this is ONE way, not THE way – so smile, do lots of window-shopping, ask God to give you wisdom, and enjoy the journey, our children are growing up fast!!


Kurundu Hot Chocolate

“The best cinnamon is made there (in Sri Lanka) from the bark of the native Kurundu tree,” according to one of our favorite books by Marjorie Priceman titled, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.

Today I finally found my favorite homemade hot chocolate mix to enjoy this winter, or give away (if there’s any left after the family has sampled it, that is!)  The reason I’m posting this is because it DOESN’T taste like hot cocoa mix!!  It tastes like GOOD hot chocolate and once it is made, all you have to have on hand is water!!

I thought I’d share it here:

Kurundu (Cinnamon) Hot Chocolate Mix

  1. 2 cups powdered milk
  2. 1 package (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup) of dream whip mix (or some kind of creamer)
  3. 1 cup of white sugar
  4. 3 or 4 teaspoons of cinnamon
  5. 3/4 cup of Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
  6. 1/8 tsp. salt
  7. 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix ingredients well and store in a dry container until ready to serve.

Serving instructions (can be put on a tag or label and attached if given as a gift)

  • Add 3-4 generous teaspoons to a mug of boiling water.
  • Add marshmallows as desired.
  • Stir and let sit for 1 minute to cool and melt the chocolate.
  • Stir again and enjoy!

Homeschool Decisions

So it looks like we are taking the plunge. . . we will officially do homeschool KINDERGARTEN for Elijah and PRESCHOOL for Merry this upcoming school year.

After a fun day yesterday at Jeremy’s first EVER homeschool event, a HUGE homeschool used curriculum fair, it feels like we’ve found what is just right: Little Hearts for His Glory for Elijah and Rod and Staff Preschool for Merry.

While looking at lots of books, we got to talk with some moms about what we were considering, and finally got some clarification.

Rod and Staff for Merry is easy to use, independent, and workbook-ish, just like her personality, along with manipulatives (hopefully not like her personality).

For Elijah, I’m SO EXCITED!  The curriculum pulls together resources from a few avenues I was considering (some Rod and Staff AND books I remember LOVING as a child, and the Bible book they recommend is authored by one of our very favorite Bible story-book writers Kenneth Taylor) and package them in an EASY-TO-USE format that has very little prep. I need that! It is written by a teacher, and so I understand and like they way she’s laid it out. It is unit-study format in a way, but also chronologically presenting Bible and History with the other subjects.

Caskey Family Schedule
April 19, 2010, 1:18 am
Filed under: family news, homeschool

I have taken a break from blogging lately as I delve into the real world of being a mommy, wife and other things I have been doing.  Just for fun, and as a form of excuse for not blogging, I thought I would post our family schedule for history’s sake:

Sunday: Our FAVORITE day of the week. . .Sunday school, church, visiting with friends, lunch outside if it is warm enough, quiet time and naps, studying, then back to church for evening service and children’s choir practice.

Monday: Laundry day, playdate with Madison and her mommy usually, lunch, a little school, quiet time, playing outside, Jeremy goes to class or studies from about 9-5 and in the evening when I go to our friends’ house for my Arabic lessons.

Tuesday: School, going to the community garden to work, Jeremy again has lots of classes today and studies in between, then comes home in the afternoon around 4 to take Merry and Elijah to motor skills class up at the seminary.  After dinner and baths, Jeremy studies more and I lead the ladies’ Bible study in the book of Joshua.

Wednesday: Some school, lunch, Jeremy usually writes papers or works on projects on this day in his office or at the library, I may do some grocery shopping, playing outside if it is warm, in the afternoon we have an early dinner then head out to AWANA with little William, and the Nepali Bible study that Jeremy teaches at church.  I do child care for that with Micah. . .late bedtimes for the children by the time we get home, but it is sweet because we have been with the Body of Christ!

Thursday: Hopefully some school with the children, a field trip, playdates, playing outside, or working at the garden, another heavy class day for Jeremy, dinner and more studying for Jeremy as I head to Seminary Wives’ Institute for my class for the evening.

Friday: Hopefully some housecleaning, prep for weekend activities if we have them, if Jeremy is heading to Reserves, we prepare to be car-less for the weekend.  In the afternoon Jeremy takes the afternoon off from studying and plays with the children so I can have a half-day off.  I get errands done, study, read, meet with friends or catch up on things I haven’t been able to do all week.  Usually in the evening we do something with friends.

Saturday: Every week is different.  Fun things, time with each other and Jeremy studies minimally, so this day is precious!  In the evening, we prepare for church, taking baths and setting out clothes so Sunday morning is smooth.

Homeschooling Philosophies and Approaches
August 8, 2009, 1:21 am
Filed under: homeschool | Tags: ,

As I prepare for this upcoming school year, and in response to some questions I have gotten lately, I found a link to a website that outlines some common homeschooling approaches.

We desire for our children to love learning, love reading, and to “gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).  We want to challenge each of our children where they each are intellectually and educationally.

If we had to be pinned down, I think we would fall under the Charlotte Mason approach for the preschool years, with some Literature-Based and Classical leanings.  We think we will transition into more of a Classical approach as the children grow.

Homeschool Musings
June 17, 2009, 12:27 am
Filed under: homeschool, Saving Money

I’ve had some questions from friends about what we are going to do next year.  Come to think of it, one of those friends was my husband!  I am having so much fun window shopping my homeschool options since this year will be Elijah’s REAL first year of preschool and his last year of preparation for Kindergarten (yipee!)

So far over the last year or two, we’ve done a little of Sound of the Week (got through all the sounds) and done the Hooked on Phonics Reading Readiness package.  Elijah knows his sounds and lots of the basics, but isn’t quite ready to start any heavy duty reading program.  I am wanting to wait for the right time.  He LOVES being read to, and can’t wait to read, but doesn’t yet sit still long enough for a real reading lesson – he gets goofy and silly and doesn’t seem serious enough to really dig into any significant material. . .so I’m going to wait so that we ENJOY the process and he keeps his love of reading – that is something I CAN’T really teach to him in a lesson. . .the actual reading skills will come in time (he’s only JUST turned four a few days ago. . . I have to keep reminding myself of this!)

I think we’ve narrowed it down and finally decided on a literature-based sort of curriculum called “Five in a Row”  I was debating between the HIGHLY popular and wildly-praised (my friend Jessica P. LOVES it and her daughters eat it up) Sonlight curriculum, the also highly recommended Hands-On-Homeschooling and other options that will be more suited for Elijah’s Kindergarten year.

So. . . my decision for Five in a Row, came for several reasons, after reading and plugging in my last few options and reading several reviews on each.

Here are the reasons I think Five in a Row will be our curriculum of choice this year:

1.  It focuses on the main things: reading (for recreation and learning), worldview/social studies, character/spiritual application, good art

2. It covers most subjects – I will only have to supplement a little math with cuisenaire rods (they cover some math, but not everything) and a little phonics/reading instruction as we go (using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.)

3. It is simple, reading every day and one different subject each day of the week – perfect for a 2 and 4 year old

4. The children love the content.  I already did a mini test run by checking out about 10 books each of Sonlight and Five in a Row for recreational reading a few months ago and the children LOVED the Five in a Row books!  They liked Sonlight’s also, but they didn’t seem to hold their attention as consistently and seem quite as rich as the FIAR books.  We’ll just say that JEREMY AND I started getting bored when they would bring us a FIAR book for the 20th time and beg to have that one read again!

5. It gives me a chance to try the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling and to test the waters of “unit studies” while my children are young. . . and since we are talking about unit studies, I HAD to put a link to this lady’s blog I stumbled on today which showed some unit studies that I can’t wait to do with Merry and Elijah:

6. This curriculum seems to be a popular one among people who go on to Classical Homeschooling, something we are pretty sure we would like to take a stab at as our children enter elementary education.  My thought is that if they are where we want to be in a few years, how did they get there?  Many of them started out with Five in a Row and liked it. . . so here we go. . .

More to be posted later (especially if my window shopping shows me something I’ve missed in my research so far)

On a totally different note, since we found out we were pregnant with each of our children, we have had a homeschool savings account for them. . .just a small amount each paycheck, but it makes it financially feasible for us to purchase the things we would like to have to homeschool now that they are old enough, and it doesn’t break our regular budget.  Up until now I have spent small amounts of it on education museum memberships, educational toys, some books, but other than that, we have saved that small amount over 100 times (over a hundred paychecks since we found out we were pregnant with Elijah) and has exponentially grown as we had Merry and Micah.  We figure that if saving for college is important for so many people, why not save for their education that leads up to that for our children?

Enough of my ramblings. . . for tonight at least!