Sunday, October 16, 2016


On September 14, 2006, our lives were forever changed when Iain Mark came into the world and made me a mom and Jeremy a dad for the first time. How is it possible that that was ten years ago? We've spent ten years with this guy, this smart, funny, sweet, goofy, loving guy. 

Iain's name means gift of God, and that is exactly what he is. He has made our lives rich and full and I can't wait to see what God does in and through him as he grows up. His middle name, Mark, was my grandfather's name. Iain is his first great-grandchild and shares his outgoing, congenial personality, his ability to talk to anyone, and his love for the Lord. I pray he will also share his legacy of a family who loves Jesus and each other, when Iain is the great-grandfather.

Because he's cool like that, Iain decided that he wanted to have his tenth birthday party be themed after his favorite book (he's a bookworm like his mama!). He currently loves Holes so a Holes party it was!

(last day as a nine!)

Iain, Cory and I spent the night before the party getting it ready. He thought of most of the games, and he made this sign for the front door.

Everybody's favorite game turned out to be this one: Pin the Face on the Warden. Haha!

The "cake" was Iain's idea too: monkey break (because it has a hole in it) with toy lizards crawling out.

Party time!

(He's TEN!!)

First, the birthday boy and his friends made the Brannon family traditional birthday banner.

Then I read everyone a summary of Holes, for those who hadn't read it or seen the movie (several of the boys have read it since the party! That's us, doing our part to spread good books wherever we can.)

Then it was Pin the Face time.

And next: a freeze-dance party to Toby Mac. When they froze, they got tickled with toy lizards and had to stay frozen.

Then after a hole-digging relay race in the backyard, it was time for cake. I LOVE Iain's face in this picture.

The party gang!

(Isn't he handsome?)

After everyone went home, we had BBQ cups for dinner (birthday boy's request), and watched Lego stop-motion movies on the computer while we ate. It was such a fun day celebrating our boy.

Iain, we love you and we're so proud of you--who you are and who you're becoming. You're an awesome kid and we're thankful to be your parents.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Brannon Academy, 2016-2017

Welcome to my beginning-of-the-school-year post for all those who are dying to know just what goes on behind the doors of our homeschool. Okay, really, to help me remember from year to year. But you're welcome to read along. 

This year, we have a fourth-and-a-half grader (more on that later), a third grader, a first grader, a three-year-old, and a one-year-old. It's busy and loud around here more often then not, but no one can say they are lonely or bored (least of all me!).  On the first day of school (July 20th), we took our traditional school pictures. Can I just say that Iain's grown-up self is killing me? (See previous years here: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011)

We decided to move keep Iain in fourth grade for another year (which really means nothing since he's just doing the next thing in all his classes--some fourth grade, some fifth). We want him to graduate with his peers instead of a year ahead like he was scheduled to. We are calling it fourth-and-a-half and it's really no big deal except that he doesn't know exactly how to answer when someone asks what grade he's in. Oh the problems of a homeschooler.

We are now firmly in the six-week on, one-week-off scheduling camp. We've done it for several years and I can't imagine ever going back. We are almost at the end of Summer Term now, and because of the dates of various holidays, this term has ended up being seven weeks. That's too long for my liking! We did kind of a soft launch this year, starting some subjects right away and adding in others as we go. I have mixed feelings about this way of doing things. It's nice to get back into routine slowly, but it's hard knowing there's still more you're not doing, when the days are already feeling very full.

After a lot of trial and error, here's the schedule and curriculum we've ended up with.

Before 8:30 - Circle Time, if I can fit it in. Mason, Laina, Ivy and I read books, check and draw a picture of the weather, sing nursery rhyme songs, and draw a picture showing something about God ("God loves Mason!" "God made the world!" etc)

Also in here, Jeremy does a reading lesson with Laina using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. She's in the 60's and will move to Hooked on Phonics next. I am so thankful that Jeremy is doing the lessons this year. Reading lessons make me want to pull my hair out. Ha.

8:30-9:30 - Math. We're still plugging along with Singapore Math. Lana has been doing a lot of addition flash cards using an app on my phone (she, like every other kid in the world, thinks it's fun if it's on the phone).

9:30-10:45 - Morning Time. Our favorite time! Here we do prayer time, Scripture memory, memory work, Latin root words, our very favorite - read alouds, and a Morning Time loop. And SNACK.
-Prayer time: self-explanatory
-Scripture Memory: we do about a verse a week using Desiring God's Foundation Verses
-Memory Work: this term, we're memorizing the Prologue to Shakespeare's Henry V. It has been so much fun and they've almost got it all down. We will also be doing a song from The Hobbit (the book, not the movies, and by Iain and Cory's request), a speech from Teddy Roosevelt called Strength and Decency, The Eagle, the Armor of God passage, the names of the presidents, Hamlet's Soliloquy, and A Mighty Fortress is our God hymn, and over Christmas, all the words to Joy to the World. At least, that't the plan. We also review one of last year's pieces of memory work every day.
-Latin Roots: we use the flash cards from the English from the Roots Up program.
-Read-Alouds: So far this year (this term, I mean), we have finished Holes, Hatchet (just with Iain and Cory), Nory Ryan's Song, and The Golden Key and Other Stories (just with Iain and Cory, read by Jeremy). We are currently reading A Door in the Wall, The Hobbit (just with Iain and Cory, read by Jeremy), and The Magician's Nephew (just with Iain and Cory). We're also listening to The Penderwicks as an audio book. Can you tell we love read-alouds? My goal is three per term, and I think we will hit that just fine. We bring our current book with us everywhere and find time to read it if we're waiting for something.
-Morning Time Loop: This term, we're doing Worldview using Apologia's Who is God book. We will rotate through doing Squilt (classical music study), and learning to draw Europe, and hopefully North America.

10:45-11:30 - Language Arts. Iain is doing Shurley English 4 for the first time. He's also doing a lot of independent reading. He finished Treasure Island and is almost done with Charley Skedaddle. Cory is doing First Language Lessons again, and is on lesson 96 of 100 Easy Lessons. He'll be doing All About Reading next. Lana is doing First Language Lessons and 100 Easy Lessons.

11:45-12:30 - Lunch and History. While I'm fixing lunch, we turn on Story of the World audio (this was a big purchase for us and so worth it--by this time I am quite through with reading aloud!) and the kids draw pictures of what they hear. Then we eat and take a break!

12:30-2:00 - Nap time and break time. My favorite part of the day, heh heh.

2:00-3:30 - Science, piano, letter loop.
-Science: the big boys are both taking science at Timothy this year and it comes with a lot of homework. We have yet to do it every day like we should.
-Piano: another big change. The big boys are taking piano once a week from a teacher at our church.
-Letter Loop: we still haven't gotten this one off the ground, but the loop will be spelling, handwriting, and for Iain, typing.

Iain is also taking hip hop this year. So fun!

We are praying this year for three very specific things: to do everything without complaining or arguing, to do all for the glory of God, and to learn to love what must be done.

Our school time is loud, often frustrating, often funny, and always character-building (for the students and the teacher. And the littles!). It's not an easy road but it is a good one. Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Laina Turns Six!

It seems that most of my posts these days are birthday posts--I guess when you have five a year to document, and you don't post very often, that's what you get. Ha.


Our Laina-Bug turned six last week! Six! Six is a fun age, and a good one. She had such a fun birthday because her friend Avivah (who was adopted from Rwanda at the same time as Laina) was here with her family, spending the week with us. So much fun.

(Laina's last day as a Five)

Laina and Aviva were inseparable the whole week (and the fun continues: they're face-timing right now as I type). I am so very thankful for their friendship. What a gift to grow up with someone whose story is so similar to yours. Laina actually spent Avivah's second birthday with her, in Ethiopia, which is pretty amazing.

Birthday Banner Time! A Brannon Family Tradition:

We had Laina's birthday party on Wednesday (the day before her birthday) with the McLennans and the Whatleys. She requested sugar cookie bars with purple frosting and sprinkles.

(Lania got Bumblebee, the DC Superhero Girl from Nona and loved it. Also, a dress from Nona and a skirt and headband from the Whatleys, and a baby ergo and hair beads from the McLennans. And I have no idea why she and Avivah attended the party as Snow White and Tinkerbell. :) )

The other big news of Birthday the Sixth is that Laina got an American Girl doll. I had bought it for her on sale a year ago (a year! I've been waiting and waiting to give it to her!) but we decided she wasn't quite ready for it yet. For Christmas, she got a My Generation doll from Target and we told her it was a test to see how well she could care for it. She did very well, and that, along with the fact that she's taking an American Girl class at Timothy this year, meant that it was time!

She was just a little excited.

(yes, she is kissing her doll through the box!)

And so was I. :)

On Thursday (her actual birthday), we loaded up all the kids and drove to the American Girl Doll store where Laina very dreamily and happily spent her birthday money from Grammy and Papa. She named her doll Amanda and got its ears pierced. The boys spent the morning at the Lego store, so they were very happy too.

(I had been waiting for years to take her to this store! I loved my American Girl Doll--Kirsten, if you're wondering, and yes, I still have her--and couldn't wait to share this fun with my girl! Also, note Laina's party hat. The girl has style.)

We love you, Laina Kate. You are growing up to be such a lovely girl, inside and out. You have a quick and beautiful smile, you love to help people, and you are a joy to be around. We are so thankful for you! Happy birthday!

(first day as a Six!)

First birthday (cupcakes and pink lemonade at the park):

Second birthday (and one of my favorite pictures of her of all time! M&M party at home):

Third Birthday (Butterfly party at home):

Fourth Birthday (Mermaid party at Grammy and Papa's beach):

Fifth Birthday (Craft party at our house):

 Sixth Birthday (party at home and at the American Girl Doll store):