Sumpteretc's Blog

What's on my mind at the moment

Category: Uncategorized

A day in the life

Sonlight continues its blog party this month with the question

Share a day in the life of your family. What does your family’s homeschool schedule look like?

A lot of home schooling families value the opportunity to sleep in, but we don’t take advantage of that opportunity. Breakfast is usually on the table at 7:30, and we start school promptly at 8:00. Tiffany takes care of Joel’s schooling, and he is usually finished by 11:00 or so. He then has an hour of educational screen time.

Elijah starts by reading a chapter of the Bible on his own, and then I read a chapter with him. He listens to a Scripture memory song and practices memorizing it. For history, he sometimes does projects on his own, reading from the encyclopedia and making notes. Right now, we are reading a missionary biography together. We then read information about a city in the 10/40 window and pray for the people there.

After history, Elijah reads a chapter or two from a book for reading practice. I usually pre-read the book and ask him several questions from the day’s reading. He does math on his own on the computer, and then we do science together. He usually has an activity sheet to fill out related to the day’s reading, and we sometimes do experiments or further Internet research.

We finish the morning with language arts–spelling, grammar, vocabulary development and creative expression. I’m fairly involved in most of this, although Elijah works independently on vocabulary development. With creative expression, it varies. Sometimes I have to stay engaged, but he’s doing better at working through this on his own. He usually is able to finish all of his work by around noon.

In the evening, I read to one of the boys while the other one bathes. Then we have family devotions, and send the boy who has already had reading to bed, while I read to the other one. And that’s a day in our lives. We sometimes have to be flexible with the schedule, but 90% of the time, we’re fixed in that routine.

How we decided to start home schooling

Sonlight Blog Party
Before I had kids, before I got married even, I thought I wanted to educate my kids at home. It seemed more like the Biblical model, and I was concerned about the kind of influences public school education would have on my children. I have probably moderated my views on some of those issues as I’ve grown older, but I still held to home education as an ideal.

When we moved to the mission field, home education became the most obvious choice for us. Here in Mongolia, there are no “Christian” schools to speak of, except for one dedicated to educating Korean missionary kids. We tried putting our older son into Mongolian public kindergarten for a semester (home schooling on the side), but it didn’t work out very well. We see here an even heavier reliance on the state to raise the children than we have in the United States.

At any rate, both my wife and I had attended Christian schools that primarily used A Beka Book curriculum, so I almost defaulted to that as a home schooling curriculum, as well. However, another missionary couple that we served with in the Philippines introduced us to Sonlight, emphasizing that it was developed with missionaries in mind. They pointed out how nice it is that everything necessary comes in one box, so that you don’t find yourself scrambling throughout the year, looking for needed materials.

We decided to give it a try with our then preschool-aged son, and we’ve never looked back.

Sonlight Mom-to-Mom Curriculum Giveaway

Mom-to-Mom Curriculum Giveaway
– See more at:

Sonlight Blog Party

Sonlight Blog Party

Sonlight Curriculum is having a blog party and encouraging homeschoolers to blog on a homeschooling topic once a month. My wife Tiffany and I have been homeschooling our boys since they began school. Elijah, our ten-year-old, is in fifth grade. He attended one semester of Mongolian public kindergarten half-time, but all the rest of his schooling has been at home. He does take a gym class at the local co-op and has also done art and other elective classes there. Joel, our six-year-old, is in first grade. He has only homeschooled. He is not quite old enough to take classes at the co-op, although he does participate in some extracurricular activities there.

Just another day in Mongolia

Blog? What’s that? Do people still use these? Is there a certain number of characters I have to keep this under? 

Oh, hello, there. I didn’t know anyone was still reading this. After the demise of Google Reader and the painful transition to Feedly, I assume there can’t be more than one or two of you out there. But, if you’re there, thank you! 

I just thought I’d share some of the fun that was today. A couple days ago, we had a notice pasted to the door of our apartment. Tiffany was home, so they could have just knocked and handed her the notice, but they chose rather to superglue it to the door. So, a large chunk of it is still out there. But the chunk that she tore off the door said something about the warranty being up on our water meters. The whole thing baffled me a little, so yesterday I asked our friend Gantuya about exactly what it was they wanted us to do. She borrowed my phone, made a phone call, and then explained things to me. (She explained it in Mongolian, because somehow I can understand her better in person than some stranger over the phone.) She said, “Tomorrow at 9:00, they will come to your house and take your water meters off. Then you take them to a laboratory and get them tested. Then you call them and they will put them back on.” Simple enough. 

This morning at 9:00, nobody came… of course. But, at 11:00 or so, somebody did come. He asked, “Did you get your water?” I glanced at Tiff uncertainly, and she shrugged. We had 15 liters on reserve. She asked, “Do I need to fill the bathtub?” I shrugged. I didn’t figure it would take me too long to take them to a lab to get tested. Surely 15 liters would last an hour or two. Before we had come to any kind of resolution, the plumber was at work, rendering the discussion moot anyway. He had the meters off in a jiffy and said, “Call when you’re ready to have them reattached.” I figured I’d better hurry if I was going to have them back by lunchtime. So I bundled up and headed out into the negative whatever temperature, looking for a laboratory. There were five listed on the notice, and you could choose whichever one was closest. One was in a familiar neighborhood, but another was much nearer home so I tried that one first. It’s in a district called 100 Ail, which is the hardware area of town. I wandered up and down the main street of the district, asking people if they had any idea where this company was located. The first guy didn’t know, but suggested I ask someone else. I couldn’t even find the person he wanted me to ask. Then I asked 3 or 4 ornery-looking guys, and they pointed me off to some building that I’m sure wasn’t even close. After wandering back alleys for a while, I decided to call the company, although my Mongolian phone skills are atrocious. After a few minutes on the phone, though, I learned that that lab wasn’t doing any testing today or tomorrow.

So, back to square one. I headed to the lab whose general vicinity I knew. My wife called and said maybe I should call that lab first. I told her I would rather beat my head against the wall looking for it before I started beating my head against the wall talking to them on the phone. Fortune smiled on me, though, and I found the laboratory, very close to where we had gone to language school. I looked at the schedule on the door. 12:00 to 1:00 lunch time. I checked my watch–12:15! Of course! I tried the door, anyway. Surprise, it was open, and the folks seemed willing to wait on me. I handed over my water meters and answered all their questions. Then they said, “Okay, tomorrow after 3:00, you can call and see if they’re ready.” Yikes! Tomorrow?!??! 

So, we’re learning to live on a little bit of water. For Mongolians, the daily water consumption is only about 5-10 liters per person per day (, so maybe we’ll live a bit more like them. Actually, I think I already used more than 5 liters just to get some dish washing going. I think what we’re probably going to learn is how to get some pre-meter water out of the pipes without flooding our bathroom. I’m glad we only have to do this every four years.

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Troubled by revelation

Luke 1:28-29 “[Gabriel] went to [Mary] and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”

Maybe Mary was just confused by how the angel addressed her, but I think we’re all “troubled” when God chooses to reveal Himself, especially when we’re reminded that He is “with us.” I, all too often, tend to think of God as someone in the wings of life, someone to talk to in time of trouble, someone to worship during specified times, someone to celebrate but still basically incomprehensible, basically unrevealed. 

But, at Christmas, God pulls back the curtain and says, “Immanuel! The Lord is with you!” The mostly hidden, the incomprehensible, the incommensurate God is revealed–no, more than that–is present in you. How frightening! And yet, how essential to the dialog that is the Christian life.

Mary’s revolutionary song

As I read the Magnificat this morning, I was struck by its bold and revolutionary nature. In the mouth of a teenage girl, it must have seemed so naive and idealistic. Mary confidently stated that everything was going to be different from here on out, not just for her and her family, but for her nation. Her statement showed the same great confidence in the Messiah’s revolutionary nature that Isaiah had in Isa. 61:1-3–a Messiah who would preach good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, release prisoners from darkness, proclaim the time of God’s favor and His vengeance, and to comfort and provide for the mourning.

The question is–during this Advent season, am I waiting for a God that revolutionary? One that will not only set things right when He comes back to earth, but one that will set things right in my life, in my family, in my church, in my world, now? In the words of Charlie Peacock, “I think I need a personal revolution.”

The Sufficient God

God’s word to me this morning was, “I am the Bread of Life, and I am enough.” I like bread, but I wouldn’t want to eat a meal of bread alone. But God is telling me that He is enough for me.

I have a pressing question in my life right now, and the urgency of time tells me I need the answer yesterday. But God is telling me that it is enough that He is in my life and in my future. I don’t actually need to have all the answers and all the facts in my hands right now. It is enough for me to know that I serve a God who holds my future in His hands.

Hope in the midst of doubt

My prayer this week has been, “Give me grace, dear God, to live with my questions until you are pleased to make my way clear.” And, while my mind is still filled with questions, God is being faithful to bring peace and resolution to the difficult situations that we are facing. 

I was struck this morning in reading the story of Zechariah by the angel’s greeting: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.” Your prayer has been heard?!? Was Zechariah still praying for a son when his wife was post-menopausal? Or was God answering a prayer Zechariah had prayed many times but years ago? 

Obviously, Zechariah did not have the faith to believe the angel’s message, but somewhere deep inside there was a glimmer of hope that God did still have a future for him. He has one for me, too.