Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December update

Since my last blog entry there has been a new development at our house. Along with the last minute craziness of Christmas, hosting two big family dinners, and the usual ins and outs of our days, I got an early Christmas present that comes with strings attached... nausea, overwhelming urges to nap, and irritability. Yep, we will be expecting our sixth child next August.

This is the time of year that I normally evaluate our school year's progress. I usually refit our schedule and goals for the remainder of the year. So, this week I am looking not only towards the spring semester, but what we need to do this summer to be ready for a fall baby. Normally we would be ready to dive into school in August, but this year we will probably do summer school, and then take our summer break in August and September.

So, off I go to figure out how to squeeze a nice "Mom nap time" into the Spring and summer schedules. And in no time at all, we will all be enraptured by another little cherub-faced person around here. Can't have enough of those!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The true meaning of Christmas?





I am entertained by all of the controversy that comes up around this time of year. People sure get all fired up about Christmas. They go on and on, talking about the TRUE meaning of Christmas. What does Christmas really mean? Has it been hijacked by consumerism? By humanism? By worldliness?

So what is it about, really? Is it about giving? Peace on earth? Baby Jesus' "birthday"? Tradition? Saint Nicholas? Charitable acts? God's great love for humanity? Prophecy fulfilled? Joy? Hope?

History always gives perspective. Winter celebrations started out as pagan. Early Christians didn't celebrate a Christmas holiday. In the fourth century, church officials created a holiday (Feast of the Nativity) to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They intentionally picked the date for the holiday to coincide with pagan winter celebrations to ensure acceptability. By blending it with the pagan holiday, they allowed the influences and traditions of the pagan celebrations to become very much intertwined with the Christian holiday. By the middle ages, the Christian Christmas had pretty much replaced the pagan holidays, but was celebrated with very worldly practices including partying and drunkenness after mass. It actually resembled Halloween, with the less fortunate going from door to door for charity while threatening terroristic mischief if goodwill wasn't bestowed.

The Puritans and our beloved Pilgrims knew that Christmas was a worldly holiday that had been hijacked by "Christians", not the other way around. So, they didn't celebrate it at all. Of course there are some churches today that feel the same way about it and don't celebrate the holiday.

I guess I'm not a very good Puritan. I love to study their beliefs and customs. I even like their hymns. I'm a wanna-be Purtian, I think. But my house is filled with unnecessary things, I eat more than my body truly needs, and my asceticism (extreme self-denial just for spiritual purposes) abilities are just not what they could be. I also can't help myself but celebrate Christmas.


We regular, church going folk in our time in history, here in America, try to keep Christmas focused on the birth of Christ. We try. We do nativity scenes, go through Advent, have extra church services, etc. And some, but not all, include some of the worldly traditions and give them spiritual sounding names to make them into religious ones. You know, like consumerism called "the gift of giving" and Christmas trees have upward pointing branches that represent praise to god.

I'll just admit that I can't resist the recent traditions of the last few generations of Americans. I grew up playing Mary in the Sunday school pageant. I watched as the Advent candles were lit. I teared up at every candlelight service on Christmas Eve when the lights were lowered as we sang Silent Night. I overindulged on Grandma's fudge and bird's nest cookies. I loved seeing big piles of presents to be unwrapped. I looked for Rudolf's nose light in the sky on Christmas Eve. I sat on Santa's lap. I've seen every Christmas Coca-Cola commercial.

What is Christmas for? To me, Christmas is a chance to remember the redemption that comes through Jesus being sent by Our Father to this earth. My world isn't rocked if it means worldly things to the world. What else would we expect from the world? Along with the deep meaning that I ponder at this time of year, I also have a little fun with the holiday. I try to create a little magical fun for the kids. I overspend and overeat. Yes I do. I sing Frosty the Snowman AND Oh, Holy Night. Like I said, I'm not a very good Puritan. If I was, I would have a right to complain about what the world is doing with Christmas. But since I'm not, I'll let the world do with the holiday whatever they wish. It was theirs in the first place. We'll just enjoy our family's version of Christmas: the birth of our Redeemer. You may also catch us peering out the window on December 24th looking for Rudolf's nose while we stuff in one last piece of Grandma's fudge.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fun books






At any given time, the kids each have at least two books going. I assign them a book that is for history, science, character, or another thoughtful subject. And then they get to choose (within limits... no twaddle!) one that we call their "fun book". Here are the books they have chosen to read at the moment.


Austin is loving a birthday present, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. It was a gift from his aunt, a fellow book-loving, homeschooling mom. Perfect choice, Aunt Joanna, he loves it!


Sydney is into the Grandmothers' Attic series by Arleta Richardson. She's such a series girl.


Andrew is on a big Eddie books kick. Syd used to read Carolyn Haywood a lot. Now it's Andrew's turn. I'll pull out the Penny books after he's done with Eddy. I highly recommend anything by Carolyn Haywood for readers new to chapter books.

Monday, December 1, 2008

First snow!





Goodbye pumpkins and fallen leaves, hello snowmen!!! I can't believe Sydney could make a snowman from a dusting of snow. But sure enough, we have an eight inch snowman on our back porch. Cute, huh?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Assessing November


November and December are historically our worst homeschooling months. I pretty much know they will be far under par compared to my usual expectations. Even though I know that it's OK, and that we will end the year just about exactly where I would like to, I can't help but feel the pressure come this time of year. Since November is the time of year for us to have many extra family get-togethers, get things prepared for Christmas, practice extra for the early December recitals and concerts, celebrate 3 of the 5 kids' birthdays, and have Thanksgiving, we forgo the typical schedule and checklists more often than not. As you can see in the picture, we started off the month of November going on a trip to Branson to get us all geared up for the holidays.

Losing some of the structure and normalcy during these months, and replacing it with a lot of family fun and holiday traditions makes January something to really look forward to. I certainly come "back to work" with a new excitement, ready to take on any challenge. So, I try to just enjoy the change and then be ready to dive back into the routine at the new year. I try. It's not easy though. The loss of structure brings with it some of the downfalls of summer break... kids getting to bed too late, a bit more bickering, and some frustrated mom moments in the chaos. But all in all, it is the way our school year usually goes. And real life is what we're really all about, isn't it?

So, until January, enjoy... making and decorating cookies, snuggling together to look at big beautiful picture books about the nativity, being Santa, helping little ones work on their handmade gifts, taking that holiday family picture, making red and green paper chains, encouraging the little maestros as they nervously prepare for recitals, sewing those Christmas pageant costumes, drinking hot apple cider and hot chocolate around the Christmas tree, visiting Grandma & Grandpa, listening to the Chipmunks Christmas CD over and over again, reminiscing of holidays past, and telling your wide-eyed 3 year about baby Jesus. There's really nothing better than that... not even homeschool.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good reminders in a bad economy



We read Smart Money by Jerry & Ramona Tuma years ago. It's the best book I've ever seen on how our personalities and marriage dynamics relate to our views on money, saving, and spending. My husband pulled out the book to look for a quote for one of his school papers, and we ended up going for a stroll down memory lane. It's amazing what a difference a decade or so makes in your understanding. It was definitely worth going through again, under new, completely different circumstances than when we first read it.
While we were in smart money mode, I pulled one of those "someday Ill go through this with the kids" books off of my bookshelf. Money Matter for Kids by Larry Burkett seems like it's going to be a great find to go through with the kiddos. I've been talking with the kids a lot about using wisdom in finance lately because of the current financial mess that's on the news every day lately. Kurt is reading to us, since we didn't want to miss out on his perspective on the topic. So far, the book is extremely biblical and really speaks to the heart of the matter. In just the first chapter, the kids learned that everything is God's, what stewardship means, to trust God, spend time with Him, and give Him our hearts, about procrastination, how money gets its' value, responsibility, and the rewards of an obedient life. There are breaks in the lesson for jokes and trivia to keep the kids' attention.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Favorite Thanksgiving Books


Here are my favorite books for this time of year for elementary level kids...


Stories of the Pilgrims by M. B. Pumphrey (Christian Liberty Press)

The Landing of the Pilgrims by J. Daugherty (A Landmark Book)

Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims by C. R. Bulla

The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall

Sarah Morton's Day (A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl) by Kate Waters

has real photographs of the outdoor living museum in Plymouth

Historic Communities A Child's Day by Kalman & Everts

1621 A New Look at Thanksgiving by Grace & Bruchac (National Geographic)

also has photographs from the Plimouth Plantation

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A vocabulary lesson

I'm anxious for the day that I can post about some deep theological truth I've found. I've got more questions about doctrine right now than answers. I am looking forward to being able to share some of my theological discoveries in upcoming posts, but for now I'm going to keep my theo-ramblings to myself. Believe me, it's better that way for now.

In lieu of a revelation from God, I've decided to pass along some silly things I find myself learning from my 12 & 14 year old sweethearts. Now, since the kids are home schooled and unsocialized, they shouldn't really know anything culturally relevant, you know (absolutely meant to be tongue in cheek!). Somehow we seem get more than enough exposure to the trends of the present day. Whether that is a good thing or not remains to be seen. But I have to admit, I rather enjoy hearing the cute words that the kids add to our family's vocabulary by picking up on the new words that are created within the preteen and teen subculture.

Now, you'll have to let me know how up to date we are in the new slang arena. For all I (and my kiddos) know, we could be speaking from the "what's not" side of the "what's hot, what's not" list. We may be way behind. Feel free to point it out in a comment to this post. I would love to hear if I'm completely making a fool of myself! I'd also love to hear any other words we may want to add to our silly times as we hang out here together every day in our sometimes deep and sometimes completely goofy HOMEschool. This post will also serve to let the grandmas and moms with little ones out there know what's going on in our world here. This is some of the fun stuff of having kids the age I do right now.

So here goes... we've been using this one for a while, so it may not be that trendy anymore, but it's an easy one to implement...

Coolio... it's just a basic substitute for cool... You can say it relaxed like "cool' eeo" with a soft calm voice reminiscent of a 70's hippie kicked back in a bean bag chair, or you can say it with excitement about something you are really and truly impressed with... "cool ee Oohhh!" (the last Ohhhh is said sing-song like the ding dong of a doorbell)

Is this helpful information?

Own or Owned... this is what you are doing if you have mastered something or if something has got the best of you (ie: "I owned that math lesson" means it was easy for me; "You owned that, Mom" means good job, Mom).
Ownage... When you do well at something you get to yell, "Ownage!". This means I owned that.
Purely owned or pure ownage is shortened to Pown or Pownage... This is even better than "owning" something... purely owning is a step above! (ie: "I powned you in that game. "Pownage!" is used to declare a great victory)

Good to know, huh?

Chillax... This one's easy... "chill out" plus "relax"... This is a good one for when you really want to tell your kids to stop nagging you about something. Love to use their slang against them... hee hee.

Hope this is useful information for ya! Let me know your new vocabulary words!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Project Day




After an extra long weekend of family visiting and celebrating an early Thanksgiving, the kids were in project mood today. Mondays are already hard enough to tackle, but after a weekend full of fun with cousins, they were especially resistant to the normal routine. I had extra cleaning up to do, so I left the kiddos to their own to spend time productively.



Andrew decided that he had had enough of a broken bunk bed ladder. He took matters into his own hands and got out the power drill (yes... a little scary!), screws, hammer, and super glue (for good measure?). I suspected that the ladder pieces would still be on my floor when Kurt came home from work, but to my surprise he came through some early struggles with the rungs not wanting to stick, and completed the job. He was so proud! And I was proud too.

Sydney knew that she wanted to great straight to work on her Christmas sewing. She made homemade gifts for the whole family last year, and she's busy at work again this year. What a little sweetie. She loves to give.

Austin went after the basketball hoop. I guess the basket was crooked. Of course, that was news to me. But the boys were getting annoyed by an uneven hoop. So, he went out in the cold and went to work on fixing that. That only makes sense since he was the toddler who would arrange his toys in a perfect line. He loves orderliness.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Great baby book


Over 14 years of motherhood I've heard and read a lot of advice about babies. It can get confusing sorting through all of the opinions, for sure. Sleeping Through the Night... How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get A Good Night's Sleep by Jodi A. Mindell, Ph.D. has been one of the most valuable finds I've come across in my search for good information. The author explains the science behind sleep patterns and habits. She goes through the different stages and ages of a baby and toddler, which gives an idea of what to expect from the varying times in your baby's first few years.

I didn't find this book until just before having baby #4, and I wished that it had been around before baby #1. I sure could have used it back then. I skimmed it again before having my last baby and just pulled it back out a few weeks ago to reread the sections pertinent to Tessa's present needs.

The tips and advice in this book are invaluable! If you don't like structure and routine, this book is probably not for you. But if you want to be sure that your baby is resting completely and securely; and you want to feel less like a zombie, then this book is a great source to go through. I highly recommend it.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My favorite veteran... my dad


Happy Veteran's Day! Thank you to all of the superheros that fought and fight for our country.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13


I am so proud of all of my family members who have served in the military. My grandfather served in WWII. Two of my uncles were career servicemen. My brother and cousins have served. And my hero, my dad, was one of the few and the proud in Vietnam. There's not much tougher than a Marine!

As a child, I loved hearing Dad tell us the stories of narrow escapes and MacGyver-type maneuvers that he experienced back in the war. I just knew that my dad could do anything! And just last week, my fun-loving Daddy came and spent the night with my kiddos in their treehouse. Like I said, he's a brave guy...

The kids came in from the cold the next morning to snuggle up next to the fireplace as Dad rode off into the sunset. (He deserves a medal. Well, actually he's already got one... a purple heart) They were full of stories about Grandpa's soldier days. What a blessing it is to have such a patriot in the family! Love you Dad!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Coffee and Tea

Now that the temperatures are dropping enough for it to really feel like fall, I'm enjoying a daily cup of coffee or tea. After pretty much staying away from a lot of caffeine during my last pregnancy and then for nursing, I had almost forgotten what an indulgence a warm mug in hand can be.

In my new life of having two "tiny ones" around while homeschooling three "big ones" I have been searching for my new me-time activity. What used to be quiet afternoons (the kids stole away to play together) and evenings with my husband (the kids went to their rooms early to read before bed), has been replaced by a pretty mug filled with a yummy hot drink at my desk while helping Andrew with his math. The leap to 5 kiddos and one of them now being a teen has somehow made any quiet moment a very rare thing.

So, the addition of the coffee cup to my daily tasks makes me feel like I'm sneaking in a little grown-up time without ever leaving a room full of my sweethearts. Silly, I know, but these are some of the things I think about lately when I'm taking a breather from thinking about politics and theology... brain crash? I just don't feel nearly smart enough to blog about those, though. I end up sharing my silly thoughts on my me-time!

My favorites right now: Constant Comment tea and Starbucks organic coffee (freshly ground, thanks to a gift from my sister... a Starbucks grinder... love it!!!)








Sunday, November 9, 2008

Revised Schedule

It's far enough into the school year now to assess the schedule thing. The benefits of a more structured schedule are outweighing the drawbacks. So, I'm definitely glad we're following a daily plan.

The extreme preciseness of The Managers of Their Homes recommendations are definitely a bit much for us. We watched the clock like hawks when we first started, and I was constantly making announcements like "It's 9:00, is everyone doing what they're supposed to right now?" I was kind of like the old town cryer... 10:00 and all is well, look at your schedule and checklist. The relief of not always being asked "what should I do now, Mom?" was replaced by an urgency to keep the kids moving... chop, chop, chop.

We've now moved to a pace that suits our home style. The kids pretty much know the order of the day now. So, we do more of a system where I check in with everyone as I get chances to take my breaks. Like, I'll make sure everybody is up and eating by 8:00. Then tell them to go straight to morning chores. The biggest kids automatically go to their schoolwork after they're finished chores, following the time chart and order of subjects posted on the schedule. So, they stay on target for the most part. Andrew needs more prompting, and I give him more leeway. I've added more freetime and breaks for him than I originally had, because Macy needs him as a playmate more in the mornings than I had anticipated. And he has so much energy in the mornings, that it seems to fit better for him too.

The original schedule I made tends to fall apart in the afternoons. I had planned to keep up extra studies (like art history and extra reading) toward the end of the day. Realistically, I should have known that we would be tired by then and that I would release the kids to their freedom. I probably did know that I would end up doing that. But it felt good to have such an ambitious goal. Oh well. The new plan is to take one afternoon a week to go crazy on extras and have fun with it.

Another adjustment I made is to let the kids have delight directed days every now and then. They are particularly interested in burying their noses in a good book after we've taken a long weekend or been running like mad for a couple of days. I just can't get myself to enforce the schedule when I have the chance to watch them love learning! Those kind of days are also a great chance for me to really focus in on some extra time with Andrew and Macy.

Overall, I love having a schedule. It has become my ally. I'm not so sure that other, more strict "schooly" moms would be impressed. But we are finding what works best for us. Oh, the benefits of a tailor-made education!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Great election night resource

Here is a wonderful download for an electoral college map and tally sheet. My kids are going to color in the map and tally the numbers as the results come in Tuesday night. On Wednesday we'll put together a lapbook or notebook (not quite sure yet) all about the election. I'm hoping to take some pictures of our election day experience and download some graphics of the candidates to add to our project.

http://www.geomatters.com/newsletters/oct_newsletter2.html

Hopefully our guy will win or this may not be such a fun assignment. LOL


In all seriousness, I truly believe my kiddos have been perfectly created for such a time as this... whatever the future may hold. God is in control and He has a plan for their days!

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Psalm 37:23

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Farm Milk

Mmm... once you've had farm fresh milk, store bought just isn't the same. Today we drove past beautiful fall foliage, hay-bailed pastures, quaint farm houses, and pretty red barns to pick up some milk from a local farm. I'm not sure what's better, the creamy milk or the scenery from the tree lined curvy country roads.

The Maker's Diet recommends using raw milk, although I have not been able to make arrangements to do that for our family yet. I have a source, but the pick-up time and distance are something I just can't do at this point. Here's a link to the Weston A. Price Foundation, which can help you find a local milk farmer and learn more about the benefits of raw milk...

http://www.westonaprice.org/

The milk we are drinking now is from organically raised Jersey cows and is pasteurized, which is not perfect, but compared to the questionable standards of the organic milk at Wal-Mart it's so much better. And the taste is incomparable. It's fat content is much higher than any other milk I've seen and it makes incredible kefir. I highly recommend finding a way to get good quality milk! You won't believe the difference.











Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Hate Halloween

I've never understood Christian Halloween alternatives. Probably because the first time I heard of such a things was when I was first married, with no kids, and not many concerns about the day. I heard it proclaimed from our other newly married Christian friends that "we refuse to give the devil any honor on his special day, so we will be throwing a big party where everyone can dress up (in non-scary costumes, of course) and pass out candy to all the church kids on October 31st." I think they figured that if they called it fall festival and held it in the church it would somehow not be a Halloween party. Somehow, that just didn't make any sense to me. Call me crazy. I pretty much figured then that I would either be for or against Halloween and not do this "let's pretend we're not celebrating Halloween when we really are" thing.

...and then I had kids...

We have done many different things about Halloween over the years. The ideal thing would be to know what stance we're going to take and stick with it. But so far, we just haven't been able to do that. Some years we did the door to door thing. Some years we did the fake Halloween church thing, depending on our church's plans that year. A couple years we've just sat it out and treated it like any normal day.

But the main reason I now hate Halloween is this... CANDY! I hate my kids getting loads of candy. It's not fair that now that we eat a pretty healthy diet, I can't use sweets as a reward for a job well done, good behavior, and as a "school treat", but because of a ridiculous holiday they get a year's supply of sugar that I have to figure out how to deal with. If we let them do Halloween in any form, we have two options of what to do with the candy. Let them pig out until it's gone and over with, risking putting their little bodies into anaphylactic shock or a sugar coma. Or ration it out so that I have to face Halloween candy, one piece at a time, for the next four months. It's the holiday that lasts forever that way. I suppose we could figure out a way to make candy not be part of it, but try telling that to my candy-deprived but obsessed kids who know exactly what they will be missing.

This year, the lady who helps me by watching the kids on Fridays is all excited about bringing bags of candy for them when she comes to babysit. She's one of those people who shows you how much she loves you by feeding you. And she loves my kids a lot!!! So, I took the opportunity to let my kids know that Miss Crystal is saving them from a lot of hard work going door to door. We'll just watch a movie together at home this year... and eat candy... grrr.

Oh, and please don't feel that you have to pray for me to see the light about the spiritual evils of Halloween. I know, I know, I know! It's not really a good thing at all to celebrate such a terrible holiday. But I just couldn't resist that cute little pumpkin costume when my first-born was a baby. Call me weak. If I had my perfect dream come true, we would never do a thing on Halloween except be together, enjoying each other as a family, like we do on most every other Friday night.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Swaddling at 11 months?

After having my cousin's newborn in the house, my big girl thought it would be fun to treat our baby girl like an infant. Tessa whined while she was being wrapped, but by the time Syd brought her to me, she was entranced by the snuggled up feeling.


She soon noticed all the attention this was getting her. She loved having the kids and I cooing and gooing at how precious she looked all bundled up and still. See the smile behind the pacifier?


She just let Syd hold her and carry her around like this for quite a while. I guess it didn't hurt that she was sleepy and ready for her nap. She normally only gets her pacifier when she's layed in bed.



What an unexpected, precious moment in our day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baked Oatmeal

Our Monday morning tradition is to start our week off with our favorite breakfast, baked oatmeal. Here is the recipe...

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Baked-Oatmeal-I/Detail.aspx

I like to use some of the ideas from The Maker's Diet (J.S. Rubin) to make a healthier version of my favorite recipes. The substitutions I make in this recipe are exchanging the vegetable oil for liquefied coconut oil, using 1/2 cup raw honey for the 3/4 cup sugar, and drizzling pure maple syrup after baking instead of brown sugar sprinkled on before. We also put in extra raisins. I've made this recipe both ways, and honestly, it doesn't taste any better with all the sugar. It's just as good done the healthier way.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall break... time for real life lessons

OK... so my regular readers know about my obsession with a "schedule" this year in our schooling. We've done very well so far this school year. But the last two weeks have been a deliberate fall break. The kids have kept up with their reading, and we've done a smattering of special history lessons, character lessons, and even some math. During this time we have prepared for, hosted (to a degree), and recovered from a much anticipated family reunion that lasted quite a few days. This is also the reason I have not blogged much at all during this time period. My grandmother celebrated her 81st birthday, and her kids and grandkids made the trip from many miles and many different directions to come and celebrate together. It was a wonderful gathering and we made some great memories.

So, as far as school goes, we lost a couple days worth of "full curriculum completed" but gained some life lessons in the importance of family. Sydney learned some homemaking etiquette about having overnight guests. She got to shadow my cousin's sweet and gracious wife as she cared for her precious 3 week old baby. She also got to work on her photography skills some more. The boys got to hang out with my cousin who helped them refine their magic tricks and table tennis game. They also got several chances to go out on the golf course with their father and great uncles to work on their chipping, putting, and driving, not to mention, the traditional male bonding. Little Macy got to sit on the laps of adoring great aunts and uncles and say her nursery rhymes over, and over, and over, and over... There was also the great tradition of craft time with Aunt Nancy that the children always look forward to. Those are just some of the wonderful moments that could be afforded because we have the opportunity to set the schedule aside temporarily and take advantage of life's living lessons. I love homeschooling!

Through the eyes of my eight-year-old son though, these last two weeks off of our new fairly strict schedule has been a very long time. And considering we were only "back to school" for seven weeks before this two week holiday, I guess it was easy for him to feel like those several weeks of school between summer break and fall break didn't amount to much at all. Eight year old boys, huh? Because as we hugged the last of our company goodbye on Wednesday, he made one of THOSE statements. You know them, the things our children sometimes say that make us homeschool moms laugh nervously as we try to find just the right explanation. When asked if he was ready to get back to his normal life and his school work, he said "ah, we don't hardly ever do school work". Thanks buddy. And next Monday he'll say "Mom, why do we ALWAYS have to do SO MUCH schoolwork?!" Got to love the precious little man.

Thank heaven for tooth losing, knee skinning, Sugar Creek Gang reading, plastic light-saber wielding, eye glasses breaking, awe-shucks grinning, big brother imitating little boys!

My Sovereign God


I'm turning my eyes away. I'm facing the other direction. I am looking away from corruption, greed, and ineptitude. I am not focusing on Washington D.C.,Wall Street, or the angry mobs of Main Street. I am turning my head the other way when I see those around me continuing to be inconsiderate, ungrateful, and selfish. I cannot watch these things any longer or I will risk losing my joy. I am choosing to look toward heaven. I want to stay fixed on beauty! I want my heart to stay tender and untouched by the cynicism that could so easily creep in. My God is sovereign! I must watch for His hand that holds me, my country, and my world through it all. Oh God, You are mighty and just... my hope and confidence is in You and You alone.

The purposes of God cannot be frustrated; there is none like God. If a purpose of God came to naught, it would imply that there is a power greater than God's. It would imply that someone could stay His hand when He designs to do a thing. But "none can stay his hand," as Nebuchadnezzar says:
His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?" (Daniel 4: 34-35)
John Piper, Desiring God



Thursday, October 16, 2008

Grandma's Birthday

My Grandma celebrated her 81st birthday this week surrounded by her family. Her four children came from near and far to be together to honor my wonderful grandmother. All together, we had quite a large group here, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Happy Birthday, Grandma! We love you!

Friday, October 3, 2008






I've never been very artistic. I loved writing papers in high school and college, but had little reason to continue writing after that. In my 18 years of adulthood, marriage, and motherhood, my down time has been spent reading and hanging out with my man. I was never one to spend a lot of time scrapbooking, crafting, gardening, sewing, etc. I never really felt like I was missing out on anything, either. I always declared myself as "not artistic" to my family and friends. At one point I started to study decorating somewhat and found that I really enjoyed it. It was appropriate at the time, since we were building a new home, with colors to select and furniture to buy. But after the initial set-up, you can only do so much redecorating without doing a lot of needless spending.


This year has been the beginning of many new artistic ventures for me. In January, about two months after Tessa was born I woke up one morning with a big idea. I wanted to start making cards! Now, this isn't a big idea for most people, but for inartistic me, with a newborn and four other kids to care for and homeschool, this was a huge declaration. I didn't know how I was going to manage feeding and educating my whole crew yet, but I was going to start a new hobby. Where did that come from? And I normally don't have much faith in my ability to create crafty things either. But for some reason, I didn't feel intimidated at all. I have been thoroughly enjoying making cards since then. Some turn out better than others, and I am looking forward to learning more and improving as I go.


Shortly after the card idea, in February, my father in law came and started my vegetable garden for me. I had always told him how I would love to have a garden some day. And he graciously came and got a nice big garden all set up for me. I have to admit, I had always thought of my fantasy garden as just that, a fantasy. But there it was! Now, I don't know if one should consider gardening of this sort as artistic, but as I learned some about plants, it made me long for flower beds and more colorful landscaping. We'll see where gardening takes me next year!


Starting this blog was another thing that came about this year. I would love to find a reason to write again. At this point, my blog posts are pretty simple and more like updates for my homeschool friends. But I am hoping to be able to be more creative in my writing in the future. It's been a LONG time since those papers in school! So I'm hoping it will slowly come back to me. I am so looking forward to spending some time letting those creative juices flow.



Now, the latest interest for me has been photography. I don't know anything whatsoever about photography. And I really don't plan on improving my skills there too much. But I want to start taking more pictures for two reasons. For one thing, I don't want to forget the precious memories I am making with my kids. So, I have become one of those moms who takes entirely too many pictures. That's me. The other reason is that I want to take note of what's surrounding me. I want to be sure that I notice more often the beautiful things that are all around me. I want to pay attention to huge blessings that come my way, whether it be tiny baby toes curled up tight, a warm cup of tea in my favorite mug, morning sunlight streaming through the window onto my waking red-heads, the biggest tree in the yard hovering over Andrew and me as we walk barefoot in the back yard, or a dirt-smudged three year old's feet that has come in from "helping" to clean the garage. These are the treasures in life, and I have found that taking pictures of them helps me to really "notice" how beautiful and perfect they are. I don't want to overlook these pieces of art in my life.



I'm not quite sure why I want to express myself and be more creative all of a sudden. I don't know if it's my age or maybe it's a five kid thing? Maybe it's the effects homeschooling Charlotte Mason-style has on a mom. It may make more sense to me as I look back on it years from now. But I am enjoying my attempt at developing my creative side. I feel like a beginner, for sure. It's even a little embarrassing at times. But something in me wants to get right in there with the kids and write stories, plant a seed and watch it grow, cut and paste, stamp and color, look for natural treasures like a random wildflower or spider's web, and take pictures of it all!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fireproof

After a busier-than-usual week, caring for two baby girls with colds, hosting a baby shower, hosting church cell-group, squeezing in a mid-week birthday sleepover, attending a Kiwanis banquet, watching a presidential debate, and keeping an eye on the bailout situation, I have plenty of material to draw from and blog about! It's hard to even sort out the many thoughts swirling through my mind as I finally get a chance to sit down and take a deep breath today.

Even with the busy week that we had, my husband and I managed to sneak off to a matinee on Friday. I wanted to make sure we saw Fireproof on the weekend it premiered, since that's the weekend that counts most when trying to make a statement to Hollywood. And, wow! It was awesome! I knew it was about a couple who were having difficulties in their marriage, so I hoped it didn't oversimplify the solutions like some Christian movies tend to do. They did a beautiful job of showing the complexity of relationships and the hard work it takes to repair years of neglect in a marriage. There are also parent to adult child relationship dimensions involved, as well as a great example of a friendship/mentorship. It also shows the purposeful self-discipline it takes to follow God's ways. The picture was very well made, Kirk Cameron was wonderful, and the comic relief was real-life, laugh out loud funny. Please support this great Christian production and go see it! Just don't forget to bring your tissues.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Our Bible History/Western Civ books for next week...




Austin has finished reading and studying Genesis (using the Bible and Omnibus I) and is far enough into Exodus now for us to do some fun books with the younger ones. I'm really looking forward to moving into Exodus and bringing in some Egypt study. We will probably take the next few weeks to work on Ancient Egypt... I'm excited! Now to find a source that will teach me how to pronounce Egyptian words and names...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pictures!





































I took the kiddos outside to get a few pics. Getting the mums for the front porch got me in the mood, I guess. I took the two with the mums. Sydney took the other ones a little later that day. I love her creativity! She has discovered a new hobby, and takes pictures just about every day now. She's even put a sign on her bedroom door reading "Posey's Photography Studio". She set up her bedroom like a studio, with backdrops and everything. It's so fun to see her ideas and artistic style. And aren't my sweeties just so cute?!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

All-of-a-Kind Family





We finished the first book in Sydney Taylor's series for the second time. We had read the first couple books in the series years ago, and were ready to go back to the turn of the century again. This is a great book about a Jewish family living in New York City. We loved getting a peak into a lifestyle so full of tradition and love. Those are some of our favorite things! This book holds the attention of the young ones and the older kids. It's a hit with everyone here. I recommend this wonderful series to everyone!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Poor little baby!

There are those times when unexpected little hiccups take over normal life for a while. The last 10 days has been one of those times for me. In addition to several spur-of-the-moment extra things that popped up and needed any free moment I could afford, the baby decided to go on a nursing strike. I won't go into the details of what all that entails, but trust me, if you haven't ever experienced it, it's hard to relate to. It is very different from weaning, and definitely a trying time. Tessa and I have adjusted, and settled into a routine that seems to be our new normal. Phew! It was not easy, but after jumping through some time-consuming hoops and experiencing an emotional (for both of us) roller coaster, we have returned to normal life again.

With all the drama that was going on through the crazy days of the "strike" that was accompanied by about 10 other out of the ordinary interruptions, I was determined to stay as much on our school schedule as possible. I'm very proud of the kids for keeping their responsibilities up. And I'm happy that I could keep up reasonably well with the normal schedule, considering how lax I have been in past years when life's curve balls came our way. I don't fault myself for being able to keep a relaxed schedule at other times. It worked for us. The kids have always tested well, read a lot, and kept busy with fairly educational activities. I've never apologized for not being consumed by keeping up with a rigid routine. But, as I've said in past posts, keeping a good schedule this semester is important to me. It's a grand task that we've taken on. It is something we are meant to do this year. Who knows what future years hold for us, in our educational evolution. But for now, we are to be faithful in what God has for us to do this semester. Thank you, Lord, for the grace that You send my way through the little difficulties that life presents. And yes, even though it seemed earth-shaking at the moment, I am thankful that my trials as of late have been very small ones. I am truly blessed of God!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Longing for Eden

When I'm on vacation, after a while, I long for home. When I've been home for a while, I long for a vacation. Why is it that we always want what we don't have?

I have always thought of myself as an idealist. My expectations are so high, and I hold strongly to a picture in my head of what kind of wife and mother I want to be and what I want for my children. But in our studies last week, we read about the longing within God's children to return to Eden. Since He created us for Eden, we have been longing for the perfect beauty and communion with our Creator since the fall.

In the craziness of a vacation, I searched out a mothers' nursing station at the amusement park this past weekend. With kids screaming and music blasting I reached the country porch of the "baby depot" area in the park. The pretty wreath on the door of the little log cabin was a preview of the peace and serenity I would find inside. Once I stepped in, the noisy sounds of the rides and people faded as I heard the sweet calming music playing in the room. It was decorated with antique and classic toys, classic children's picture books, and wicker and wood furniture, mostly rocking chairs. There wasn't another soul in sight. There was just peace and quiet and a beautiful atmosphere. It was like I had stepped from one world into another. For the solitude-loving, atmosphere-craving person that I am this was a very welcoming contrast to the action-packed amusement park. The hills and heat from outside made sitting in a rocking chair in an air conditioned room a respite for my tired feet and overheated body. And now to top it all off, I got to spend some quiet moments focused on my babbling and cooing little dumpling, Tessa. It's so much easier to appreciate those sweet blue eyes and dimpled smile away from the hectic crowd. I had found an Eden in the middle of a theme park. I suppose to some, my kids in particular, the rides and loud music would be Eden. But this oasis of peacefulness and quiet was a haven to me. It made me long for my quiet place at home; it made me long for beauty and calm; it made me long to be engulfed in a heavenly peace.

I will continue to try to create spaces in my life that are filled with lovely things. I will continue to "create" my own type of Eden. I will try to seek God in quiet moments, play beautiful music, read inspiring books, and make my home a haven. I will keep my high ideals and strive for the perfect homeschooling day, the perfect reaction to every sibling squabble, the perfect words to say when those teachable moments arise, the perfect smiles for my husband, the perfectly clean and ordered home, the perfect cooking and baking of healthy life-giving foods, etc. These are ideals, not reality. But now I understand why my ideals are so high, and not necessarily realistic. My ideals should be very high! The Creator of the universe has placed within me a longing for perfect communion and beauty!

I fail again and again. I fall so short. I sometimes find myself frustrated at my reactions to the children's bickering. Many days I forget to thank my husband for the hard work he does to provide for us. I don't bake my own bread and don't always make our meals from scratch. I understand so well what Paul said in Romans...

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:15-25)


I find myself struggling the way that all men have struggled and will until the Lord returns. I long for Eden. I strive toward high ideals. I fail, but do not lose hope. I am thankful that through my Lord and His Spirit, I am rescued from failure. I remain an idealist and keep my longings close. And I allow His grace to cover my imperfections. Thanks be to God for His shed blood that provides the redemption and mercy I need to be the wife and mother He has made me to long to be. Thank you, God, for placing within me a longing to be with You and like You!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

No "back to school" goodbyes here

I'm writing this while on a min-vacation for the long holiday weekend. We've been busy visiting amusement parks and magic shows. It's funny how I often find myself philosophizing when we go out of town. There's something about going away that changes my perspective, or just makes me notice things I may not have been thinking about had we just stayed home doing our normal routine.

While waiting in line for Macy, 3, to have her turn on the little kiddie choo-choo train, another mom saw me lift the baby up out of the stroller. The mother commented on how precious Tessa was and how seeing her made her wish her children could be babies again. Her kids looked like they were probably 5 and 6. I agreed with her that babies are so sweet and it's hard to turn off that part of you as a woman that wants to be holding a baby. She didn't realize I had older kids since my kids were off riding roller coasters, so she proceeded to let me know that when she spends time with her kids, it doesn't make her want ANOTHER baby. What she meant was that she doesn't like her kids now that they are bigger, not sweet any more, and just fight all the time. She explained that she just wishes that they hadn't grown. I smiled, trying not to be unfriendly. I said something to the affect that vacations make for some trying moments for siblings and I had just said to my kids an hour ago to remember to keep loving each other.

We always visit a church if we're away from home on a Sunday. We were able to attend a neat church here on vacation that we really enjoyed. The pastor made the typical comment about how all the parents must be happy since the kids are back in school. I'm not faulting the pastor. It's a rare pastor who doesn't mention the typical cliche at back to school time. Hearing it the day after I talked to the lady in line, though, made me pause and think about this culture's tendency to dislike children.

Don't get me wrong... I feel the need for a day off every now and then just as much as the next homeschool mom. In fact, my hubby and I have made it part of our routine to try to go out on a nice long date once a week if at all possible. But it's so hard for me to relate to some of the comments people make about their children. It makes me sad when parents (who have chosen to have children in their lives) don't seem to like their children. Of course, this is not to say that everyone who sends their kids to school think that their children are nuisances. I certainly know better than that. I just question the ones who feel the need to whoop, holler, and do a jig on the first day of school every year.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Read-alouds



Today, we finished reading Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater. This was our first read aloud of the year. I thought it would be fun to cater our first book of the year to Andrew, my 8 year old. It was a nice, light and fun way to start the year. There's nothing like a good animal story to get everyone smiling. In fact, we practically had to pick ourselves up off the floor at one point, because we were laughing so hard.

We have had many different seasons in our 8 years of homeschooling. Sometimes our read-alouds have gotten pushed aside. And other times the only thing we accomplished was reading. I'm happy to say that I have made it a priority to schedule plenty of read-aloud time this year. Of course that's not including our Truthquest History books we're reading together, character and Bible stories, and any other devotional books we read. Along with those, we can't pass up these great family bonding books full of lovable characters who become part of our family. There are so many great choices that I don't think we'll ever get to them all. It's like I've heard a fellow homeschool mom say, "so many books, so little time".

Monday, August 25, 2008

In my SPARE time!

As if starting a blog isn't enough of an addition to my "hobbies in my spare time" list, I have been trying to update and improve my social networking. Oof! I may have had 4 friends on facebook before this weekend. But family members are joining and inviting me, so I must be part of the crowd, right? And after looking at their profile pages and seeing the huge networks of friends that they have developed, I found it quite necessary to search for old friends and familiar names. I don't want to be the one poor sad person whose friends list doesn't even fill the "top five favorite friends" spot. Embarrassing. Really though, who would have thought when we were kids that it would be so easy to find people we have lost touch with? It's just amazing!

So now my myspace is updated for those family members and friends who do it that way; my facebook is filling quickly with familiar faces; and I'm starting to remember again to turn on my yahoo!messenger in the morning after neglecting it all last week as I was consumed with the new school schedule. And by the way, facebook does definitely seem to be gaining the upper hand in the social networking war, for those who may not know. I have determined not to Twitter, though! I homeschooling mom can go only so far...

So, if you do any of those things, look me up. And maybe between reading Anne of Green Gables, helping with math problems, and fixing lunch we can write on each others' walls and send each other bumper stickers. Is that kind of like what my mom said they used to do back in the day? She said that the ladies would have a great time talking and visiting as they hung their clothes to dry in their yards.

Friday, August 22, 2008






After a summer full of relaxing and doing mindless activities (I know, a shameful way for a homeschool family to spend their summer... we'll do better next year), it only took a day of structure and learning to awaken creativity. I could barely drag my son away from his cray-pas to get him to go to bed; and my daughter had designed three outfits for her Build-a-Bear collection. Our little learner (3 year old) was awestruck by her new Melissa & Doug puzzles and was glued to them all day. She even took Magnetic Dress-Up Maggie Leigh to bed with her! Of course, my big boy was busy reading some Henty.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Our first few days of school have been wonderful. The usual real-life interruptions have been as abundant as ever. BUT!... Having a detailed schedule to keep us striving towards order makes the world of difference. I must say, the thing that I always thought would be tedious and overbearing is actually freeing. Our schedule is our servant, not our master, but it's a schedule nonetheless. And I expect it to make our year a very successful one. The children even love it!

We have started going through Genesis using Omnibus I and various Old Testament study guides and books. It has been an incredible way to start the year. As the Omnibus book points out, we can only fully understand history (and the present, for that matter) if we have an understanding of our origin and the ongoing struggle that remains. It has reminded me of what I read in R.C. Sproul Jr.'s When You Rise Up. He says of Genesis 3:14-15, "Here God declares solemn war against the serpent through one born of a woman, but also promises to change the hearts of his elect, such that they would hate the serpent. This great battle is the setting of history, and therefore the setting of our lives. If we are his, we are at war, and that affects everything." Starting in Genesis has been such a wonderful way to get perspective on our history lessons, bible lessons, character studies, worldview, and even the little ins and outs of our days.

I hope to post about some cute stories from our week later today or tomorrow. I'll also be posting soon about Teaching Textbooks.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Education reform comedy

Here's a humorous clip from a British TV show on education reform... pretty funny and insightful...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLDb2V86Ei0

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lamplighter

We have several books from the Lamplighter collection. These are excellent books, worthy of being read over and over again. They are beautifully reprinted books that were originally written in the 17th, 18th, 19th, & 20th centuries. I just can't say enough about how much we enjoy these inspiring stories. So, from time to time, I plan on including some quotes from some of this wonderful Christian literature.

Here is a quote from Rosa of Linden Castle by Christoph Von Schmid,

(Of Matilda, Rosa's mother) Her first object was to make her child acquainted with the character and goodness of God, and to awaken and call forth in her tender heart a sincere regard and filial affection towards her heavenly Father. An ardent admirer of the works of nature, her own mind was often led through nature up to nature's God. From the windows of her parlor in the castle, there was a most delightful prospect; here she frequently sat with her needlework, and with delight and feelings of reverence towards the Creator of all, gazed upon the majestic glaciers as they sparkled in the sunbeams, upon the vine-clad hills, the blooming vales, and the meandering streams. From these she took occasion to direct the attention of her daughter to the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of God.

On one occasion, a beautiful summer's morning, she awoke Rosa very early, saying, "Rosa, my dear, come and see how beautifully and majestically the sun rises; behold those golden-tinged clouds, and those silvered mountains of our church in the village, as it rises amidst the tall linden trees with which it is surrounded. The happy husbandmen, refreshed by sleep, are hurrying to the labors of the day. There the whistling shepherd's boy is driving his flocks to the grassy hills- there the mowers are cutting the sweet-smelling grass- there the yellow grain-fields are waving ready for the sickle- everywhere we see the wisdom and goodness of our God. How great, how incomprehensible, and how good, must He not be, who looks upon all his creatures with benevolence and compassion; who provides alike for the poor peasant who lives in his straw-thatched cottage, and for us who dwell in a castle; who created this earth and fitted for the abode of man; who giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater, and who has also made provision for our salvation, that when we leave this world we may live with him in heaven for ever." Rosa was deeply impressed with what her mother said, and involuntarily folding her hands, exclaimed, "Oh! how good and great art Thou who hast made all things for our good."

To see the Lamplighter Rare Colelctor's Series...

http://www.lamplighterpublishing.com/


Monday, August 11, 2008

1 more week

I can't believe we just have a week until our first official day of school. Of course, I'm one of those moms who feels like even though we took a summer break, we were still learning. But as far as a structured day and checklists are concerned, we're only a week away. I feel like I spent more time "planning" during this last month than I ever have during a break, I've got so much to finish up this week. Wouldn't you know that my first day of the "I'm down to the wire now" week would be consumed with a 3 year old's fever and earache and a scooting baby who is trying to figure out how not to keep rolling over into hard furniture which bumps that precious little head? So, no last minute school preparations for me today. Hopefully everyone will rest well tonight, so we can start fresh tomorrow.

This year will be organized by a schedule on the wall, lining out each person's duties and times to accomplish them. The kids will also have checklists I made on Excel. They get a sheet for each week that shows their daily chores and school subjects. After they have checked the boxes under each weekday, they will give it to me to file for my records and get a clean checklist for the next week. I have also been recording every chapter book they have ever read, so I will continue to do that.

This week I'm supposed to make a list of all the books that I want them to read this year. I already have stacks of books ready to list, so I just need to get it organized. The bulk of their books will coordinate with our history lessons. There are also some good fun ones and inspirational books, too. I had also planned on getting our timeline ready this week. I got one of those huge paper rolls that you use on craft tables to use as our timeline. We have done a Konos timeline before and have used The Timechart History of the World, which is an incredible book fold-out timeline. I would like to do something this year that we can write on ourselves. If it works like I hope it will, we will continue to use it from this time forward. I've got to back-track everything we've studied so far and plot that before we start on this year's history. OK, maybe that won't get done in time. It may stay a work in progress for a couple more weeks. And lastly, I've got to finish organizing my third grader's binder that will house all of his phonics, copywork, handwriting, and spelling.

My 3 year old's favorite book at the moment is The Little Engine That Could, so at moments like these, it's automatic for my mind to say... I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tea with Grandma


My girls went to Grandma's annual "Tea with the Grandma" today. Yes, my mother is one of those inspiring, Godly women who speaks with grace, lives the renewed life, and has many tea parties. Someday I want to grow up to be like my mom! Each year, for many years now, she has had a summer tea with all of her granddaughters and her mom, their great-grandmother, too. This year two more little ones joined the group since they are now 3 years old, which is official big girl tea party age. In a world full of dysfunction and broken relationships, it fills my heart with gratefulness when I realize what a blessing a godly heritage is!

To be able to be trained up in the feminine way by not only your mother, but Grandmother and Great Grandmother is so precious. I want my girls to love being girls! God made us so distinctly different from our male counterparts. And that difference is something worth noticing and celebrating. Each girl was dressed in her Sunday best today, walking to the table like little ladies after posing for a few pictures. Looking our very feminine best, getting all dressed up, and doing lovely things is so satisfying. God created us to love beautiful things.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

My mother takes such care to make every sandwich, cookie, and bread with spread perfect for serving. And then she models how to serve, by caring for each of their needs at the table. Isn't pouring tea for someone you love a wonderful act of service? I know there are far more impacting ways to serve. But hostessing with your best china, in your best dress, sharing your best recipes is a beautiful picture of feminine service with grace and love. My girls may not realize until they are well into their adult years, what a treasure they had that as little girls, their grandmas had them for tea.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kids' classes this year...

3rd Grade:
Ten Things to Do with Your Child Before Age Ten from Teaching the Trivium by the Bluedorns http://www.triviumpursuit.com/articles/ten_to_do_before_ten.php
Horizons Math
Truthquest History
Worldview by Brannon Howse
Bible
Character and Manners (Everyday Graces, Little Book of Manners for Boys, Tiger and Tom Character Classics, A Hive of Busy Bees, Ten Boys Who Made a Difference)
Rosetta Stone Spanish (maybe, we'll see how it goes)
Art Appreciation (various books and Dover art print cards)
Choir at Ecclesia Prep School
Suzuki Piano lessons
Guitar lessons
First Tee golf program

6th Grade:
Math (Teaching Textbooks)
Truthquest History
Worldview by Brannon Howse
Bible
A Reason for Handwriting
Language/English (Warriners)
Observing God's World Science (ABeka)
Creative Writing
Rosetta Stone Spanish
Manners and Character (Everyday Graces, How to Be a Lady)
Art Appreciation (various books and Dover art print cards)
Choir at Ecclesia Prep School
Suzuki Piano lessons

8th Grade:
Algebra (Teaching Textbooks)
Truthquest History and Ominbus I
Worldview by Brannon Howse
Bible
Language/English (Warriners)
Rosetta Stone Spanish
Apologia Physical Science
Into and Intermediate Logic (Nance)
More Logic (The Fallacy Detective, The Thinking Toolbox, The Art of Argument)
Character (Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle, Boyhood and Beyond by Bob Schultz)
Consumer Math/Stewardship (Money Matters for Teens by Larry Burkett)
Art Appreciation (various books)
Choir at Ecclesia Prep School
Guitar lessons
First Tee golf

Monday, August 4, 2008

History Lesson Plans

I finished my lesson plans for this year's history. Phew! This will be the first year that we won't all be covering the same time period. It will be a little more challenging, but I am excited about the way this will cater to each of their interests and needs. My 8th grade boy will be delving into the Old Testament times and ancient Egypt and Greece. My 6th grade girl will do Old Testament with us, listen in on some of the age appropriate parts of the Egypt and Greece topics, and she will be reviewing the American history that she has studied the last several years by reading historical fiction. After many years of studying American History using the Truthquest study guides, she is very interested in diving further into the time periods that interest her. And my 3rd grade boy will be doing the Old Testament, listening in on a small amount of the Egypt and Greece, and working on the American History that he is still in the middle of with Truthquest.

Here are our reading lists to go with History (and Western Civ) this year:

8th grade:

Curriculum: Truthquest History Guide Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece
Omnibus I Biblical and Classical Civilizations
Diana Waring's True Tales Ancient Civilizations and the Bible audio
Genesis
A Child's History of Art (Hillyer)
Janson History of Art
A Child's History of the World (Hillyer)
Shadow Hawk (Norton)
Cat of Bubastes (Henty)
Cleopatra (Stanley)
Exodus
Tirzah (Travis)
The Golden Goblet (McGraw)
Till We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis)
Hittite Warrior (Williamson)
First & Second Samuel
First & Second Kings
God King (Williamson)
The Chronicles of Narnia series (Lewis) he's read most of these already
The Heroes (Kingsley)
A Wonder Book (Hawthorne)
By Jove! (Macrone)
The Iliad (Homer)
The Odyssey (Homer)
portions of Last Days of Socrates
portions of Invitation to the Classics
portions of The Works of Flavius Josephus

6th grade:

Curriculum: Truthquest History Guide Ancient Egypt and Greece
Historical fiction books

The Victor Journey through the Bible as a source book
A Child's History of the World (Hillyer)
A Child's History of Art (Hillyer)
Janson's History of Art
Cleopatra (Stanley)
Tirzah (Travis)
Genesis
Exodus
God King (Williamson)
The Golden Goblet (McGraw)
d'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths
Aesop's Fables
many resource books and historical encyclopedias on Egypt and Greece
Martha of California (Otis)
Almost Home Daughters of the Faith Series (Lawton)
The Tinker's Daughter DotFS (Lawton)
The Christian Heritage Series The Salem Years books 1-6 (Rue)
Attack in the Rye Grass Trailblazer Books (Whitman)

3rd grade:

Curriculum: Truthquest History Guide American History

The Victor Journey through the Bible as a source book
A Child's History of the World (Hillyer)
A Child's History of Art (Hillyer)
Janson's History of Art
Cleopatra (Stanley)
Tirzah (Travis)
God King (Williamson)
The Golden Goblet (McGraw)
d'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths
Aesop's Fables
many resource books and historical encyclopedias on Egypt and Greece
The Dragon and the Garden (Wilson)
In the Time of Noah (Wilson)
The True Story of Noah's Ark (Dooley) incredible illustrations!
Exodus (Wildsmith)
Joseph (Wildsmith)
Journey through Bible Lands Candle Discovery Series
Living in Bible Times Candle Discovery Series ** these interactive books will be enjoyed by all
King Midas and the Golden Touch (Perkins)
The Landing of the Pilgrims (Daugherty)
Stories of the Pilgrims (Pumphrey)
The Pilgrims of Plimoth (Sewall)
Squanto: Friend of the Pilgrims (Bulla)
A Child's Day(Kalman & Everts)
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving (Grace & Bruchac)
The First Thanksgiving Reader (Jackson)
Sarah Morton's Day (Waters)
If You Lived in Colonial Times (McGovern)
If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days (Brenner)
(some books will be read aloud by mom)

Like I said... phew!






Sunday, August 3, 2008

Such a newb!


OK, I'm really a newbie when it comes to blogging. The post from Saturday was titled Sundays! That's because I pulled up a post screen yesterday, and then wrote it today. So it looks like I wrote it yesterday. Like I said, you'll have to be patient with me... I'm doing good to have blog now in the first place.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sundays

I'm not sure if I've got the whole Sabbath thing down the way we're supposed to. I've studied it some, but haven't come to a real life application of how to make my sabbath truly what it was intended to be. But Sundays are certainly a day of renewal to me. I lay the last week's triumphs and failures to rest and prepare for another week of ministry to my family. Most of my concentration during worship goes to rededicating myself to ministering. I reset my mind's eye toward the serious job I have as a servant to the precious family God has given me. Thank the Lord for His mercy and grace that is called on as I feel for His guidance through my weeks!

Sundays are the days that I do my lesson planning for the week to come. A very big part of that planning is of our devotions, bible lessons, and character talks and stories. Even though it's still summer break, I find myself going through my mind and spirit in search of real life lessons to be shared this week. It would be great if I could just spout out great spiritual truths spontaneously as we go through our week. For the most part, I don't truly plan those teachable moments. But if I do not take time each week to ponder what God is working on in my heart and the hearts of my children, I can find myself floundering and missing opportunities that present themselves in the week to come. I must merge a discipleship plan with that still small voice to be the best Jesus that I can be to my little disciples.

The tools I have used over the years to help me with these lessons for my children are Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M. Schoolland, For Instruction in Righteousness by Pam Forster, Our 24 Family Ways by Clay and Sally Clarkson, Choice Stories for Children selected by Ernest Lloyd, Millers books by Mildred A. Martin, A Hive of Busy Bees by Effie Williams, Christian Worldview for Children by Brannon Howse, various Bible Story books, and the Bible.

As far as the spontaneous part of these lessons, I am working on mastering the art of the "help a mom out here please, God" prayer. I am convinced 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is addressing homeschool moms when it says to pray without ceasing. Ha ha! One thing I know for sure though, is that God sure is faithful to give me direction when I ask for it. I can't tell you how many times I've shot up a prayer and God has supplied me with the right words for the situation. That is a necessity when you have 100 questions a day coming at you from eager little observers. And once again... thank you Lord for watching down in grace!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Blackberry Cobbler


This has been my first year to have a garden, thanks to my wonderful father-in-law. He came and helped to get it all set it up for me. Aside from my weeding skills, which could stand some improvement, it has been a great experience. I've learned a lot and look forward to an even better harvest next year. We had a great spring harvest with fresh spinach and lettuce every day. Then, we went on to enjoy squash, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes. And now, we are still up to our elbows in tomatoes. These last several weeks have been filled with zucchini bread, tomato sandwiches and lots of freezing the squash and tomatoes. At the same time, my husband and kids have been picking blackberries off of our land about every third day, expecting a yummy cobbler in return. I found the BEST cobbler recipe...
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Blackberry-Cobbler-2/Detail.aspx and I don't think we will ever be satisfied with any other cobbler! It is a winner.

I believe the blackberries are gone now. But the yellow squash, tomatoes, and okra show no signs of slowing down. I show signs of slowing down, though. Ha! Harvesting just went from fun to another chore. But I am so happy that I will be able to pull stewed tomatoes out of the freezer all winter long. I have loved having a garden.



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Countdown!

I'm usually very flexible about when we plan to start back to our normal school-year routine in the fall. Not this year. This school year I'm going to be more scheduled than ever. We will start on August 18 at exactly 8:30 a.m. after a yummy breakfast of baked oatmeal, fruit, and cheese. Yes, I have that planned already. Actually, I've already written out our daily schedules, Managers of Their Home style, including wake up times, chore lists, lesson times, breaks, etc.... Eek! This is something I 've always been very resistant to in the past. The thought of watching the clock all day and sticking to a pre-planned schedule made me cringe. Those who know me well can attest to the fact that I am all about enjoying the benefits of homeschooling, including sleeping in, eating whenever we feel like it, moving slow on days we're tired, and doing extra on days we have more energy. I've always been very relaxed with our days. But we've always met our educational goals. Last year I thought it was fairly scheduled to try to have to-do lists checked off by such and such time. I have loved the freedom in that. So, this year it will be a grand experiment in self-discipline to stick to a regimented, posted-on-the-wall schedule.

Now, I wouldn't impose anything on our homeschool experience that I didn't think was right for us. And this is definitely a let's try it and see kind of thing. I am convinced that it's time to at least give this a shot, though. Having three kids doing pretty big stuff now (3rd, 6th, and 8th grades) with an active 3 year old and a still-nursing, but scooting all over the place 8 month old necessitates becoming more organized. Hopefully, this will reduce the kind of stress that comes from everyone needing my help at the same time. It will also be good for the routine-craving 3 year old we've got skipping around looking for what to do next. It will help us all with our focus and staying on our toes. Who knows, maybe we'll far exceed our expectations because of being even more organized. There is no doubt that we will allow for those interruptions that life presents. I'm sure there will be plenty of exceptions made in the schedule in our very real-life home. But at least we will be aware of where we are, what we've done, and what's yet to do.

We're getting close to this new scheduled life ahead of us. I'm going to start adding in a little more organization to our day bits at a time during the next 18 days. I think we'll need some transition time to go from the lazy days of summer to a strict daily routine. Here we go! Start the countdown.

If you'd like to see an example of the type of schedule we're going to be using, follow this link to see their scheduling book...
http://http://www.titus2.com/ecommerce/products/prod_listing.php/1100

A free printable schedule...
http://www.titus2.com/m-schedule1.htm

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Introduction

Welcome to my blog! I'll be "thinking out loud" by journaling my thoughts here. I'm just learning the ropes of blogging, so be patient with me please. I'll be real and just share the daily ins and outs of being married to one of the most incredible men in the world and being a homeschool mom to my five super-kids. We've got plenty of homeschool stories to share. And I've always got something on my mind to talk about as I search for nuggets of wisdom from God, mentors, friends, books, teachers, and of course, the world wide web... LOL



Looking forward to blogging...
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