Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 3rd Grade :)

Raise a Hero, Be a Hero

Charlotte Mason Friends Book Club, Home Education (Vol. 1), pages 300-352

The Way of the Will

One of the marks of a hero is a strong will. As children in our society today embrace a culture of hedonism and materialism that saps their spirit and leaves them cynical, ironic, and passive, Christian parents must pray for the resolve to raise up strongmen who go against the flow. Children who heroically stand up for what they believe in, face and overcome temptation, and stand strongly in the face of adversity. Children who grow up to powerfully serve the Lord and make a difference in this world. Christian parents who aim to raise heroes, must aim to raise strong wills. “The education of the will is really of far greater importance, as shaping the destiny of the individual, than that of the intellect.” (Dr. Morell, Introduction to Mental Philosophy) Learning is common, but self control is not. Is the goal of your homeschool to train your child’s intellect? Great, you may raise up a smart kid. Is the goal of your homeschool to train your child’s will? Even better, you may raise up a hero. The real purpose of an education should be to shape a person’s destiny, not just her intellect.

A person’s will is what controls her emotions, her appetites, and desires. The more a person is ruled by these passions, the less developed the will. What we want to be doing, what we know we should be doing, we do not do, as Paul says. And Charlotte Mason contends that the major reason is for lack of a developed will. What does having a strong will mean? How is strength of will grown in a child? How does any person for that matter make herself do what she should?

Stubborn Willfulness Really Indicates a Lack of Will Power

By “strong will,” Charlotte does not mean willfulness, as in a child who is labeled “strong willed” because he is determined to have his own way (much like a toddler’s strong determination/willfulness). A state of wilfulness actually reveals a lack of controlling power over oneself, or no strength of will. When my son can’t stop crying over some small trouble, and I am tempted to look on the bright side and think, ‘well at least he has a strong will’, he is actually showing “willessness” because he doesn’t have enough strength of will to restrain himself. This is not the moment to be proud of my son’s strong will. Instead, by strong will, Charlotte means strength of character. Character is the result of conduct regulated by will. When we say that So-and-so has a great deal of character, we are in essence saying that person has a vigorous will. Likewise, someone who has no force of will, lacks character. Will is the executive power vested in a person–it says go, and he does; it says do this, and he does. If the will is in the habit of being in authority, if it constrains obedience, the kingdom within is at peace and unity with itself. If the will is feeble, the kingdom within is ungoverned and torn with disorder and rebellion. In our world we know that “strong willed” children are hard to raise because of the disorder and rebellion that accompanies. Strengthening the will of a “strong willed” (ie willless) child then is the answer to arriving at peace.

A Disciplined Will is Necessary to Heroic Christian Character

Perhaps you have your sights set on raising a child with heroic Christian character. You implement hero study as a regular part of your homeschool classroom so that your child may grow to emulate Jesus Christ, his ultimate hero, as well as other admirable historic heroes. You believe that hero study works because “….it is only as we have it in us to let a person or cause fill the whole stage of the mind, to the exclusion of self-occupation, that we are capable of large-hearted action on behalf of that person or cause.” As wonderful as all this is, we should be aware that the training of our child’s will goes hand in hand with accomplishing the noble goals of hero study. A disciplined will is not necessary in order to be a Christian, but it is the key to heroic Christian character. As mothers whose highest desire is to train our children for the Christian life, we should realize that the power of our children’s service to the Lord can be unlimited through vigorous heroic willpower. “When he wakes to the consciousness of whose he is and who he serves, she would have him ready for that high service, with every faculty in training–a man of war from his youth; above all with an effective will, to will and to do of His good pleasure.” What a beautiful vision Charlotte paints for us of a useful hero raised up to serve Christ. “And here is the line which divides the effective from the non-effective people, the great from the small, the good from the well-intentioned and respectable; it is in proportion as a man has self-controlling, self compelling power that he is able to do, even of his own pleasure; that he can depend upon himself, and be sure of his own action in emergencies.” What is the opposite of a hero, or someone with no will at all? An evil villain. Evil is perpetuated in someone who is completely given over to his carnal passions–instead of using his will to control his violent passions, his will becomes an accessory in acting them out. Let us train up vigorous wills in our children, so that we can train up heroes passionate about righteousness.

The Way the Will Works Should be Taught to Children

How do we strengthen the will of a child (or our own for that matter) so that by and by the child may employ it to control his own life? The will grows in strength only by exercising repression and direction of passions, desires, and appetites. “Let your child know the secret of willing; let him know that, by an effort of will, he can turn his thoughts to the thing he wants to think of –his lessons, his prayers, his work, and away from the things he should not think of;–that, in fact, he can be such a brave strong little fellow, he can make himself think of what he likes; and let him try little experiments––that if he once get his thoughts right, the rest will take care of itself, he will be sure to do right then; that if he feels cross, naughty thoughts coming upon him, the plan is, to think hard about something else, something nice––his next birthday, what he means to do when he is a man. Not all this at once, of course; but line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, as opportunity offers.” No work is too laborious for someone who has a happy frame of mind, or in other words, who has formed the habit of thinking of something else. No feelings of resentment can overtake a person who has formed the habit of thinking of something else rather than dwelling on the bitter feelings and allowing them to grow. The person who allows herself to later go back to the cause for offense, when all potency of feelings have worn off, is able to look at the matter with the coolness of a third person. (Don’t we always get into trouble when we are arguing with someone, and we just can’t make ourselves drop it for the moment?)

Our job as mothers training up children is to help them want to obey through the cooperation of the will. The goal is for children to compel themselves to obey. “Every effort of obedience which does not give him a sense of conquest over his own inclinations, helps to enslave him, he will resent the loss of his liberty by running into license when he can. That is the secret of the miscarrying of many strictly brought-up children. But invite his co-operation, let him heartily intend and purpose to do the thing he is bidden, and then it is his own will that is compelling him, and not yours; he has begun the greatest effort, the highest accomplishment of human life––the making, the compelling of himself. Let him know what he is about, let him enjoy a sense of triumph, and of your congratulation, whenever he fetches his thoughts back to his tiresome sum, whenever he makes his hands finish what they have begun, whenever he throws the black dog off his back, and produces a smile from a clouded face.” Doesn’t this shed light on the type of encouragement that is instrumental in the discipling process of children? Your insightful and well timed encouragement can practically illustrate living examples of the way of the will to your child, the secret of being strong. And working on developing a cooperative will in your child is worth it since its the key to training up an obedient child.

What About my Own Weak Will?

How can we train the wills of our children, if we as mothers can’t make ourselves do what we desire, let alone our children? How do we train our children to have strong wills if we ourselves do not? The world is full of weak willed adults hoping to display just a little bit of heroism in their family, the work place, the church, the community. Many of us were trained up in school settings, and in homes, where training of the will was perhaps not an important part of our rearing. Consequently, we know we should be eating healthy, we know we should be praying more, we know we should be spending less, we know we should be waking up earlier, we know we should stop mulling over other people’s faults, we know we should be cleaning out the cluttered drawers and closets, we know we should be watching less TV, staying more patient, worrying less, helping others more…..but we do not for lack of will to do it. Slaves to our natural desires, passions, and appetites. Not exactly the portrayal of heroic character before the ever watching eyes of our children that we would hope to be. In order to teach our children to have strong wills, I feel that we must try our best to exemplify it in our own lives, and this is the clincher for all of us. We obviously need to address our own lack of training at the same time we are training up our children in order to be successful.

The Secret to a Happy Life

Changing your thoughts by a sheer act of will–a thousand times of day if necessary at first–is the secret to a happy life! A happy life all begins in the mind because poor thinking leads us away from God’s will, and down the wrong path. “It is by force of will that a man can ‘change his thoughts,’ transfer his attention from one subject of thought to another, and that, with a shock of mental force of which he is distinctly conscious. And this is enough to save a man and to make a man, this power of making himself think only of those things which he has beforehand decided that it is good to think upon.” Its sounds so simple, but are you cross? Change your thoughts. Are you tired of trying? Change your thoughts. Are you craving things you are not to have? Change your thoughts. Bribing, rewarding, or punishing yourself is not as effective as simply applying the opposing force of thought. God gave you the power within you to always think of something else–something noble, pleasant, pure, lovely, praiseworthy. This is why we are commanded to dwell on the Word. You have the power to turn unhappy and wrong thoughts into happy and right thoughts. “And this is the exceedingly simple way in which the will acts; this is the sole secret of the power over himself which the strong man wields–he can compel himself to think of what he chooses, and will not allow himself in thoughts that breed mischief.” And the more you make yourself think right thoughts, the easier it gets (twenty times a day rather than a thousand!).

Charlotte’s advice is distinctively Christian, distinctively Bible. The Word says to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Proverbs says that as a man thinks, so is he. God wants us to understand the power that our thoughts have over the direction of our lives, and that we must get control in order to really make the difference of a hero in this world. We all need spiritual guidance to learn how to control our thoughts. I hope your church has been teaching its believers this fundamental truth regularly and powerfully. This online article explains how to be victorious in your thought life step by step by “taking every thought captive”.

Raise a Hero!

If education of the will is of utmost importance in an education, then who should be the one to undertake the monumental job of educating your child’s will? What teacher can spend her days in and out of the classroom attending to the formation of the will of a child, have the acute attention and insight that it requires to help develop something as complex as the will of a human being? Mother (or father), the one with maternal love to pour into the education of her child hour by hour, and the one with expertise in the strengths and weaknesses of her child is the only qualified teacher.

By training our children in the way of the will, we can give them the power to help themselves, and someday many others as well. When God puts His divine grace on top of all that, there is nothing our children can not accomplish. Just think what a vigorous will is possible for those who have been freed from the chains of sin! What a privilege to be born into a Christian family. What a privilege to have the opportunity to be a hero for Christ!

Prayer and Vision:

Don’t forget this all requires prayer. A mother needs wisdom from above. Write down or keep a journal of words of vision for your children’s lives that speak to your heart so you can keep it before the Lord in prayer. These words from God can pop up anywhere, but just don’t let them slip away because they may end up forgotten. My prayers from reading this section of Home Education are:

Let my children be men of war from their youth, to will and to do of His good pleasure!

Send noble, mighty, and Godly exemplars into my children’s lives that they also may become mighty men!

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Do you want to be a part of my Charlotte Mason Friends Book Club? Read pages 1-75 in Parents and Children (Volume 2) and bring some thoughts to share on the Little Lambs blog by July 15th. Together we can inspire others to bring the atmosphere of a living education into their home too!
  • “Faith, Do You Want to Go to the ‘Wildness’ With Me?”

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    “I am Going Off Into the ‘Wildness’ Mommy”….My Little Hero

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We Love Sighting this Bird at the Nature Park

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Noah Picked Me a Little Rosemary for My Pot Roast

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Noah Cut up All the Broccoli for This Salad With a Butter Knife!

The kids love this raw broccoli salad– they see it as a treat. They were great helpers one day and helped me make it. The ingredients are bacon, dried cranberries, golden raisins, red onions and a veganaise, honey, vinegar dressing.

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Noah Also Wanted to Help Me Vacuum a Couple of the Bedrooms

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Whoops! I Sucked up Faith’s Pajamas!

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Faithful Fathers

The Calling of a Father

Father’s have a very special role in the family. A father calls out his children’s magnificent destiny. “There is a secret in God’s heart about who our children are meant to be, and it is the father who helps our children discover their own story and secret, and to declare that over their lives.” (Ed Tandy McGlasson) In the Bible, we see that a father’s blessing was the most powerful thing that was given from a father to a son. And did you know that if a father is the first in the household to become a Christian, there is a 93% probability that everyone else in the house will heed the Gospel call (as compared to 17% if mother professes first, or 3.5% if a child professes first)? Fathers have a very special and powerful calling indeed.

Yet, how many of us remember dedicating our hearts to Jesus on our father’s knee or having our real life-changing spiritual experiences with our father? Hmmmm…….oh yah, it happened when we went forward at a Christian youth camp or concert. Did we accept the call for salvation there because we really understood the gospel? Probably not, and that is why so many many people who give their lives to Christ all too commonly fall away from Christianity within a short time. Like seeds that fall on shallow soil and die away for lack of roots. Shallow conversions are a common problem in the modern church, and kids are leaving the faith in droves. How sad. In contrast, imagine a child’s most meaningful spiritual experiences occurring at home during the daily diet of a father’s teaching in a special discipleship relationship, through a father touching his child’s heart with the gospel message. In this context, faith grown from a true understanding of the gospel is developed, and it will be faith that a child will not easily walk away from. Fathers who teach their children as Deuteronomy 6 commands, effectively pass on a lasting heritage of faith to the next generation.

I think every man wants to be a good father, but many are not clear on what the Bible expects of a father. Scriptures command fathers to diligently teach and care for the souls of their children day by day. In reality, very very few Christian fathers are obeying this day by day calling to disciple their children. They have relinquished their responsibility to the church which trains up our children in its youth programs, Awana, Sunday School, Missionettes and Royal Rangers, children’s classes and clubs, and various other children’s ministries. Fathers get too comfortable and believe that their children are receiving much of the Biblical training they need from church programs, and so they feel they can relax and relinquish the daily responsibility of teaching the scriptures, since it feels likes its being taken care of. “Involved” fathers feel satisfied with their fathering because they are attending the kid’s recitals and games and getting them into great church programs or youth groups. However, the Biblical example of an involved father, or faithful father, doesn’t look like anything of the sort, as scripture prescribes something quite different. Daily, a father is to praise God to his children with hundreds of words and practical principles. Day after day, he cries out to them, explaining the stories that glorify the kindnesses of God, His wrath toward sinners, and His vanquishing power over all things. In so doing, he reflects the heart of the Heavenly Father who cries out, “Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:7-11).

Biblical Worship is Family Worship

(Excerpts from A Family Guide to Biblical Holidays)

If we are to follow the Biblical pattern for family worship, we must look at Hebrew worship as a model, where worship was led in the home by the father. Christians should study the Hebrew culture since our Christianity can not be fully understood without studying the Old Testament and our Hebrew roots. “We study a Hebrew book–written by Hebrews; we serve a Hebrew Lord–who had Hebrew disciples; we desire to follow the first century church–which was first predominantly Hebrew; and through Christ, we are grafted into a Hebrew family! It makes sense to study the Hebrew culture”. Christians can learn much from the Hebrews strong family/worship lifestyle:

“Everything is centered around the home–family, education, and worship. Every area of the Hebrew world is entirely saturated and encompassed with God. The Hebrews make no distinction between their spiritual life and the physical areas of life. They see life as an entirety. It is all God’s domain…..There were times of temple worship; however, most of the worship centered around the home.

If you were to visit a religious Jews home on a typical Friday you would find everyone in the home in a hurried state preparing for the coming Sabbath. Setting a fine table and special meal. At sundown, all the hurrying stops. The mother of the home prays and dedicates this special day unto God as she lights the Sabbath candles to begin the Sabbath. The father leads the family in prayers, Torah readings, and singing praise and worship. He prays a special blessing over each child. The rest of the twenty-four hour period is spent resting, enjoying family, growing spiritually as individuals, and growing closer to family.

We should ask ourselves, “Is there a time, if someone entered our home, that they would see such devotion to God?” How ashamed we should be when those who don’t even know Jesus as Messiah, show such devotion.

Professing Christians in America, in general, tend to view “The Church” as a part of their life–only a small part. Life and relationships are divided into quarters, into four distinctly different locations: partly religious (a few hours a week at church), partly educational (school), partly professional (workplace), and partly leisure (home). Each person in the family is going in separate directions and rarely at home together. Even in the church, the only family time spent together is on the ride to and from church. Upon arrival the family divides into their proper classes. It is hard to find all the members of a family together in one area at the same time in church–much less worshiping and interacting together or praying together as a family.”

Weak Families Make Weak Churches

When I look around at the congregation of my own church, the only families that consistently sit all together in service are 3 families that homeschool! Amazing and interesting! Everyone else seems to be here and there with children attending their own classes. Have you ever asked yourself why we break our families apart and separate throughout the entire church service? The modern day American church has children’s classes, youth classes, young adults, middle adults, senior adults, etc. The practice of age segregation actually began in our education model and nearly every other social institution has followed suit. The public education system was influenced heavily by G. Stanley Hall, John Dewey, G.F. Hegel and Rosseau who advocated isolating children from their parents. This has been one of the fundamental problems of the public schools. These secular ideals must be recognized and resisted on the basis of clear Scriptural teaching on how to raise children. The church needs to strongly resist any anti-Christian culture that purposefully or unconsciously attacks the family and biblical values.

In the early church, children were discipled by their fathers in a family setting. In the modern church, Christian children are largely discipled not at home, but by various age graded church programs. Age segregation is a slippery slope that prevents lessons that should be learned from previous generations. We are moving away from an emphasis on the Biblical model of corporate family worship for the first time in literally thousands of years of church history. What is the impact of fathers relinquishing their duty? The results of this survey done by professor Thom Rainer may indicate at least some of the impact:

Those Who Understand the Gospel by Age Group

  • Born before 1946 — 65%
  • Born between 1946 and 1964 — 35%
  • Born between 1965 and 1976 — 15%
  • Born between 1976 and 1994 — 4%

Something is wrong here! You don’t have to look far to find statistics that the American church and family is on the decline. We are in a crisis, and we must do a better job of passing on our faith to our children. A lot of parents just don’t feel equipped, and that is where the church is failing. The church needs to effectively equip parents and hold parents accountable to teach their children at home, but instead the focus is on providing an array of programs that divide family, and unintentionally release parents of their Biblical mandate to train up their own children.

If you have never contemplated whether family integrated worship is right for your own family, but have instead rather blindly followed the Christian crowd, I urge you to view the following 55 minute video that challenges our naive assumptions about age graded programs, specifically looking at youth ministry, and how our programs are not the answer to building up strong, healthy Christian families. An excellent view for fathers as it calls fathers to take back the training of their children!

Watch: “Divided”, the Movie–Is Youth Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church?

Happy Father’s Day!

So on this Father’s Day I celebrate my husband and father, and all Christian fathers who need some encouragement to know how important they are. I pray that sights will be raised and hearts will be touched in our fathers. Please share this post with Christian fathers you know. Pray for our fathers to be faithful, pray for our churches and their leaders to open their hearts to family worship. Its very likely that there are no family integrated worship services anywhere near where you live, but still we can pray, and then share with our church leadership as the opportunity arises. I think many of our Pastors and church leaders are worn out with methods that are not effectively reaching the next generation. The ability to truly reach the next generation lies within fathers. Fathers discipling their own families is critical to the preservation of faith in our society. We need our faithful fathers!

More to Think About:

A Great Article: The Biblical Model for Family Integrated Worship and Biblical Mandate for Daily Home Discipleship

Directory and Resources at: The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches

A National Conference for Dads: The Masters Plan for Fatherhood (The schedule of classes looks great! I hope we will be able to participate in the Fresno conference in November.)

A Father’s Day Gift Suggestion: Wild at Heart (I am getting this book for my husband)

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I Love Daddy!

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Evening Family Devotions

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A Happy Girl at the Apricot Farm

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Noah Kept Asking, “What Are You Going to Make With All Those Apricots Mommy?”

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So I Got the Kids to Work on a Gluten Free Apricot Crisp

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My Little Sunshine Enjoying A Gluten Free Banana Bread Muffin

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Daddy Brought Us Home a Turtle That He Found at Work! What a cool dad!

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Make the Most of Summer

Here are my top three ideas to help you make the most out of your summer: field trips, nature play, and reading (for mom). The freedom of summertime is a great time to take advantage of opportunities for real life learning experiences (fieldtrips), excursions and adventures in the outdoors (nature play), and 3 months of homeschooling for mom (reading). Before fall comes and we all have to get back to the grind of school and more rigid routines for a whole 9 months, let’s make the most of our summer!

Go on Field Trips

  • Museums (get free passes from the Contra Costa Library to over 40 places, including the zoo)
  • Fruit picking (cherries are ready now!)
  • Visit a dairy farm such as Organic Pastures Raw Milk in Fresno
  • Calaveras Big Trees State Park and Moaning Cavern
  • The Beach (Natural Bridge State Beach in Santa Cruz has nearby tide pools to explore)
  • Water Parks (Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville, Sprayground in Pleasant Hill Park, Meadow Homes Spray Park in Concord, Blue Goose Park in Brentwood)
  • Roaring Camp Train Ride and The Mystery Spot (Santa Cruz)
  • Gilroy Gardens
  • Transit field trip (ride bart, take a trolley, stroll over a walking bridge)
  • Ardenwood Historic Farms
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Go to a children’s theatre performance and/or concert
  • Visit an Animal Shelter
  • Go to the Dump (Noah would love this)

Play in Nature

50 things kids should do before they are 11 ¾

The National Trust (UK) launched a campaign to encourage sofa-bound youth to venture out into the big outdoors, compiling a bucket-list of 50 things kids should do before they are 11 ¾.

The bucket list is can be found on the website www.50things.org.uk.

1. Climb a tree
2. Roll down a really big hill
3. Camp out in the wild
4. Build a den
5. Skim a stone
6. Run around in the rain
7. Fly a kite
8. Catch a fish with a net
9. Eat an apple straight from a tree
10. Play conkers
11. Throw some snow
12. Hunt for treasure on the beach
13. Make a mud pie
14. Dam a stream
15. Go sledging
16. Bury someone in the sand
17. Set up a snail race
18. Balance on a fallen tree
19. Swing on a rope swing
20. Make a mud slide
21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild
22. Take a look inside a tree
23. Visit an island
24. Feel like you’re flying in the wind
25. Make a grass trumpet
26. Hunt for fossils and bones
27. Watch the sun wake up
28. Climb a huge hill
29. Get behind a waterfall
30. Feed a bird from your hand
31. Hunt for bugs
32. Find some frogspawn
33. Catch a butterfly in a net
34. Track wild animals
35. Discover what’s in a pond
36. Call an owl
37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
38. Bring up a butterfly
39. Catch a crab
40. Go on a nature walk at night
41. Plant it, grow it, eat it
42. Go wild swimming
43. Go rafting
44. Light a fire without matches
45. Find your way with a map and compass
46. Try bouldering
47. Cook on a campfire
48. Try abseiling
49. Find a geocache
50. Canoe down a river

Read Some Good Books

Charlotte Mason’s 6 Volume Series

Homeschooling and parenting booklists (just check a bunch of books out from the library, peruse them all, and then select one that draws you in):

Christian Home Educators Association of California Booklist

Homeschool Association of California Booklist

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (free online)

Also, don’t forget you can do some online audio learning through CHEA convention workshops:

Christian Home Educators Association of California Workshops

The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you’ll go.
~ Dr. Seuss

For some motivation to get reading, please read or re-read my post Calling All Parents to Read!

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So what are you doing this summer?
Any suggestions to add to our list?
We would love to hear what your plans and field trip ideas are!

I wish you a blissful summer!

Family Camping Trip on Mount Diablo

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Juniper Trail Hike

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Our Yearbooks Arrived!

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Sharpie Tye Dye T-Shirts Were Really Fun to Make!

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A Letter From Our Operation Christmas Child Arrived Just in Time for Our Last Day of School!

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At the Nature Park with Our Brave Friend Landon

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