Raising Rock Stars ~ In It, Not Of It

In It, Not Of It

We weren’t able to have our normal family night this past Sunday because our church hosted it’s annual block party-witnessing to our inner-city neighbors! We shut down several blocks of the main road here in our neighborhood and host the largest block party I have ever seen! Inflatables, free food, carnival games, playground, puppet shows, Gospel presentations, live music, free JESUS t-shirts…the list goes on-it is truly amazing! This is our 5th year of hosting this and every year it gets bigger and better! IMG_1292 copy

It is always an amazing reminder of where we are raising our kids and what we do NOT want for them. It is also a reminder of Christ’s love for ALL-no matter how different {and far from God} they may seem.IMG_9518

As most of you know, we live right where we serve…which is not a desirable place to live by the world’s standards. We are in the heart of the inner city, just a few blocks from the church we serve with. We live in the area most go out of their way to avoid.

We are raising our kids here. Why? Because we feel led by God to be here.

Do we sacrifice to live here? YES, a lot {but we GAIN a lot also}.

Is it worth it? YES!!!!!

We believe in raising our kids God’s way, and to many we are NUTS. If you’ve ever read my little paragraph under my family photo on the sidebar, you already know this! Does this mean I think you should all become missionaries or move to the inner city? NO!!! I believe we are each called to a unique path, and it is our job to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow the best we can. We are doing our best to raise our children to do this too.

We want our kids to live sold-out for Jesus. Do I fear them actually doing that and moving overseas or doing something dangerous in the name of Christ? Yes, but I still want that. They are not mine-they are HIS. I am just raising them for HIM.

So, we live IN the world. We live near violence, drugs, prostitution, immodesty to the MAX, profanity, child abuse/neglect, poverty, addiction and more. We hear sirens constantly and helicopters hovering with a spotlight overhead is completely normal. My kids stood under my feet as I witnessed a drug related murder right after the shots fired ~ right across the street. We can’t walk to the car just feet from our house without hearing profanity and fighting.

But, we are not OF the world. We are obviously different. Our home is different, our family is different. For many people in our neighborhood, we {and the other missionary families we work with who all live here too} are the only Godly {yet still imperfect} family they will ever see.

So, we did not have our normal family Bible time, but that’s OK. We dove right into the world and made it obvious that we are not OF it. Jesus was everywhere and it was beautiful!!!

John 17:14-16

14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do.

Visit the Raising Rock Stars Webpage to download your own notebook pages and to see links to previous Rock Stars posts!

Tot School

~Ladybug is currently 13.5 months old~

Tot TraysLadybug’s 3 Tot Trays this week…

  1. Stacking Peg Board {with just 5 pegs}
  2. Small bucket of bells and a scoop
  3. Clear plastic bottle with colored stirring sticks {from Target}





This is how she puts the sticks “in” the bottle, every time! She balances them on top! I think it is so cute. We are working on how to get them inside. ;-)IMG_9303

Learning Toys

She adores our child-sized guitar. Pac Man taught her how to strum!IMG_9344

We got out K’s old Leapfrog walker for her and she likes it a lot {we have it in flat position for now as she isn’t even pulling up yet”} IMG_9178

Bubble Wrap! She had a blast exploring bubble wrap this week!!! IMG_9331

Life School

She’s a poop-in-the-potty pro! She has successfully pooped on the potty the last 7 times!!! I am honestly shocked as the boys never did this! One day I noticed her pushing and she was struggling so I put her on to see if it would help…it did! I have taken her to the potty when I notice “the look” and she has went every time! This is really saving the cloth diapers!!! Plus she looks so incredibly cute sitting there and we just talk to each other-it’s girl time. IMG_9014



Moms Favorite



I just couldn’t pick only one this week ;-)

Preschool Printables ~ Pom Pom Numbers

Pom Pom Number Printables

Yesterday you got a sneak peek of my latest printable, Pom Pom Number Printables.  I made these to help Krash with number ID, counting 1:1, and fine motor practice.

IMG_8678 Print on Cardstock, laminate, put tiny velcro pieces on the cards and stick the other side to a small pom pom.  I matched mine by color, but you certainly don’t have to, I am just anal like that. I also made a set with colored dots, in case you just wanted to use the cards without using any velcro or pom poms.  Your child could practice counting the dots to help with number ID.

If your child is younger make sure you don’t give them all at once, I only gave Krash 1-5 his first time.

I order my velcro dots in major BULK here, and I am set for my homeschooling life I believe.  I was sick of spending too much per dot on Amazon and bit the bullet and bought a ton at once {plus they are smaller so I like them better}.  Specifically I got the 3/8” white dots, in case you’re wondering!

 Download the Pom Pom Number Cards here!

See more Number Printables here!Number Printables

Tot School Zone

Tot School Zones

A common email I receive concerns the set-up of the Tot School “zone”.  I got one recently and it occurred to me that although I would love to offer insight, it would be better if I could connect us all in sharing-mode to gather ideas and insight.

So, I am opening up a linky for anyone to link up a specific post showing their Tot School set-up.  We personally have a schoolroom, but I know many of my readers do not.  I know some of you use your dining room, playroom, child’s bedroom, basement, and even more!  I’d love for you to write a post sometime within the next 2 weeks, come back here and link it up so we can all share.

In you post please include any or all of the following…

  • PHOTOS!!!!
  • Basic description of the location of your Tot School Zone
  • How you organize tools not currently in use
  • Whether or not you allow your tot to play with Tot School items outside of Tot School time
  • What you like/dislike about your current set-up
  • Any advice you think could help a mom who is just starting out {if you have been tot-schooling for awhile}

Here is our current Tot School Zone.  Ladybug is almost 14 months.  I use our 9×9 square shelf {from Target} but only have 3 trays out for her at a time, on the bottom.  IMG_8478It is in our schoolroom, you can see various posts about our schoolroom here { although it is not arranged that way right now}.  We are actually switching locations of the schoolroom for next fall, so I will be rearranging again, and will be sure to post when it’s all done!

You can see all of our Tot School Zones in our “Where to Begin with Tot School” ebook!  Subscribe here to grab the eBook for free!

Where to Begin with Tot School eBook

I am putting in a thumbnail linky, so you can attach an image to your link ;-)  I thought this would be a fun way to try out this new linky tool.  If you link up, all I ask is that you provide a link-back to THIS POST somewhere in your post, in order to share ideas!  You are welcome to link up and old post with pictures of your Tot School Zone, but be sure to go back in and add a link here.

The Advanced Tot

The Advanced Tot

Let me begin this post by saying that I have {so far} 2 completely “typical” children.  I don’t believe either are academically gifted, although they are not challenged academically either.  I have good ol’ normal school boys, and I love them just the way they are!

So, what is an advanced tot?

Recently I have noticed a few and they sparked my desire to share some insight about this {along with a few emails I have received about this topic}.  As always, these are just my opinions and are in no way correct in the grand scheme of things, just my opinions…feel free to completely ignore me!

I have watched little Nathan grow up through Tot School since he was 15 months old.  Here is his very first Tot School post.  Nathan is now 2 1/2 and is blowing my mind with what he is able to do.  Nathan is what I would call, an advanced tot.  You’ll see why below!

I don’t believe there are guarantees that advanced tots will always be advanced academically, it is often too early to tell.  Many children will all catch up to about the same level academically by about 2nd or 3rd grade {when taught well}.

I am NOT a fan of comparing children, but I do think it is beneficial to notice differences if it can help us better adapt our own homeschools for our young children.  What was right for Krash, certainly would not be right for Nathan at this point.  I say this to help you feel OK with the fact that your tot will probably not be mastering skills at the same rate as any other tot, they are all different.  This is why I say STAGES are much more important than AGES with the younger ones.  Exposure is key, not mastery…but what do you do if your tot masters things earlier than the rest?


So, why do I believe Nathan is an advanced tot?  Check out these photos below, and I will also share what I believe is a bit more typical for the same age {based on my experience as a mother and as an early childhood educator}

  • Here Nathan drew specific items with chalk {age 29 months}, which his Mom labels for you here on her blog,


More typically I believe this stage occurs closer to age 3.  Not a huge difference, but if I just compare my boys to Nathan, Pac Man didn’t begin drawing with purpose until over 3, and Krash didn’t begin until closer to age 4!  Obviously there is a wide range of what would be considered normal, and they all fall in that range.

  • Nathan also writes letters {age 29 months also}…

image More typically, this is a late preschool, early Kindergarten skill.  Krash at age 4 is just now beginning to learn to write letters and still doesn’t write any on his own.


  • Here Nathan {age 29 months} drew and A for Apple inside of his apple on a coloring worksheet ;-).  You can read more here.

imageI’d be lucky to get Krash to even color the apple, let alone identify a beginning sound and write the letter on his own!!!!


  • Here Nathan {at age 27 months} is sorting by shape and sequencing by size, using the exact toy we own!

image Krash didn’t master this toy until closer to age 4, this is one that most children would probably master younger than Krash did, but probably not quite as early as Nathan did {unless you also have an advanced tot}.

Those are just a few examples, if you browse through all of his Tot School posts, you’ll see different examples also.  Now, it is common for girls to be a bit more advanced than boys {typically, not always}, so many of you with girls may be at or even beyond Nathan’s abilities!  Nathan is a very advanced tot in general, another example I know of is Alyssa from Tot PlayRocker Tot from The Linton Academy is a bit older now, but he has always been advanced for his age too.  I am sure there are many more out there.  Those are just a few I have noticed.

So what should you do with an advanced tot, if you have one?

  • Go with the flow!!!!
  • Keep doing exactly what you have been doing, following your child’s lead.
  • You don’t necessarily need to do anything differently regarding the format of Tot School, just keep things engaging, fun, and reasonably challenging.

If you need a refresher about what I believe regarding teaching tots, you can read a portion of an eBook I am writing here.  I don’t plan to release this book for a long time {lack of time to actually finish it is the problem}, but will release portions if I feel it would be helpful along the way.

I think it’s important to move along with the academic growth of your child, while also being sure to not push too hard.  It is a beautiful thing when a young tot enjoys learning {those of us with more resistant tots are really jealous, just so you know}, the worst thing we as parents can do is to squash their zeal for learning.  It is a delicate balance ~ challenging our young children, while not pushing them to the point of frustration.

PBS Kids Child Development Tracker-is a great site for information regarding child development.  I compared Nathan to many of their stats and found that he is indeed, advanced for his age ;-).  I think it is the best site that I have found-meaning it’s both concise, helpful, and easy to read/navigate.

A special thanks to Nathan’s mom Katie for allowing me to use her precious son as my example for this post! You can visit her blog, Wilson Ramblings, here.

Edited to Add ~ Here are two other posts that might be helpful {these were written after this post, about my daughter, Ladybug who ended up being a bit more of an advanced tot than my boys were}

Following the Lead of the Child Following the Lead of Your Preschooler at Home