Saturday, December 3, 2016

Our Week In Review

 I so love our history curriculum, Tapestry of Grace!   It is designed to be a four year cycle, and each year covers a specified amount of time beginning at creation and going all the way up to modern times.  In the fall of 2015 we began Year 2, which is the most packed year plan of the four.  It covers history from the fall of the Roman Empire (around 400 A.D.) to the presidency of John Adams (around 1800).  A LOT happened in the world during those 1400 years!  We got bogged down about halfway through the year last year and never finished.  So, as I have previously mentioned, we just picked up this fall where we had left off and kept going.

My high school boys have a very full plate of other classes this year, and we have done history as the "spine" of our school for many years, so my husband and I felt that they just did not need to do history as "full" as Tapestry is designed to do.  It is an amazing curriculum, but we moms need to be careful to control it, and not let it control us.  So this year I have essentially been cutting and changing each week's reading to make it a big lighter and more manageable for my kids.  I have been looking at the week's scheduled reading and accompanying questions, and separating out the various threads or themes and giving one to each of the boys.  They each have less work to do, but when we have our history discussion all together, each of them ends up learning from the others and I usually add a few comments to help them see how it all fits together.

This past week two of our boys worked on this:

(I changed the title, the reading, and the questions, so I am not sharing proprietary information from Tapestry of Grace by posting this photo!)  :)

Another of our boys read about the colonies that were chartered after the monarchy was re-established in England (hence they are called the "Restoration Colonies"), while Little Man worked on a comparison chart of four different Indian tribes.

I have found our discussions to be richer this year because each boy has in depth information on a single topic to share with the rest of us, rather than coming to discussion with several questions not answered because the workload was overwhelming.

This flexibility is one of the many things I love about Tapestry!

We did our usual math, grammar, science, and homework for various co-op classes (logic, economics, Latin).  I am so blessed to have our three high school boys in the English class I teach at our co-op. We are currently reading and annotating the novel My Name is Asher Lev, about an Orthodox Jewish boy who has an extraordinary artistic talent, and how his exercise of that talent creates conflict within his family and within his Jewish community.  It is fascinating and I am really enjoying the discussions we are having in class.

The highlight of my week was the fun date my husband and I went on to his new company's Christmas dinner/party.  It was super classy, at a beautiful venue, with amazingly delicious food.  SO THANKFUL he has a job!!

Christmas Tree!

When daughter G was home for Thanksgiving last weekend we took that opportunity to get and decorate our tree.  I always love this!

Each of the children now have quite a collection of their own personal ornaments to put on the tree.

Daughter H...

Daughter G...

Son G...

Son L....

Son C....

And Little Man.

One of my treasured ornaments from a dear friend!

This picture freaks me out a little bit....look how tall Little Man is getting!

I didn't want ALL the lights to be in the family room, so put some in our dining room, too.

The finished tree!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Giving Thanks

"I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you."  ~ Philippians 1:3

Thanksgiving Breakfast

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you..."  ~ Colossians 1:3

"We always thank God for all of you, remembering you constantly in our prayers."  ~ I Thessalonians 1:2

"We must always thank God for you.."  ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:3

Little Man stroking his uncle's head! 

My mother in law had ALL of her children around her this Thanksgiving! 

The balancing game - totally made up and spontaneous!

God is so good - this year Thanksgiving came at the perfect time for me, personally.  While I have always been extremely thankful for my family, this year I have been struggling to be thankful for our current family dynamic.  Our adoption story is not, on the surface, wonderful or beautiful.  I know that in God's economy it is absolutely miraculous, but here in my economy, in my home, on a day to day basis, it is hard and messy and ugly and painful.  Daughter H is a very angry person, and while she has valid reasons for feeling angry, she doesn't yet know how to handle her anger and it often erupts onto me and various members of the family.  Each of the boys responds to her anger differently (daughter G being away at college means she deals with this the least now), and therefore our family dynamic is much different than it used to be, and different than I thought it would be at this stage.  

Most of the time all of my physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental energy is required for the here and now of daily life, and there is a large part of me that has been reluctant to spend time "looking back" for fear it would make me discontent with "now."  So I have just not allowed myself the time to grieve what used to be.  I did that this week, before Thanksgiving.  Just let myself feel all the sadness that has been hidden in my heart for a long time.  The regret.  The longing for things to be different.  

When Thanksgiving morning came, I woke up at 8 to get the turkey in the oven, and I felt refreshed. Cleansed.  Ready.

Holidays are complicated for us since daughter H joined our family. So many emotions are churned to the surface for her, and those emotions often bleed out to the rest of us.  I won't say it was "easy" to navigate this Thanksgiving, but it was easiER.  

Daughter H's emotional baggage will always be part of the backdrop of our lives, and helping our other children navigate it will be a full time job for the foreseeable future, but she and her baggage are part of God's plan for our family.  Our dynamic is meant to include her.  It is hard and messy and painful and amazing and mysterious and beautiful.

I am thankful. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Our Week in Review

This is a bit of a photo dump, as it includes highlights from the last three weeks.  We were thrilled to have daughter G home from  college for fall break, and she brought her room-mate with her!  We had a fun and delightful weekend together.  While she was home we did our annual family tradition of painting little pumpkins for Halloween.

Daughter G is in the house!!

Her room-mate (in red shirt) is a sweet heart.

The finished pumpkins!  Don't we have a great variety?

Little Man did an impromptu science experiment when he found a caterpillar in the folds of some corn leaves, when shucking corn on the cob for supper one night.  He asked if he could create a habitat for the caterpillar and watch it turn into a chrysalis and then a butterfly.  We weren't sure if it was a butterfly caterpillar or some other type, but we were excited for Little Man to try.  In fact, in the pumpkin photo above you can see his caterpillar habitat in the jar behind the pumpkins.  He put fresh leaves in the jar each day for the caterpillar to eat, and we tried a variety of other food scraps as well.  We put water on a cotton ball for it to drink.  Not sure it ever used that, but we wanted to cover all our bases!

I wasn't sure what was going to happen to this little caterpillar, but lo and behold, after about three weeks it turned into a chrysalis!  And then one day about a week later we suddenly realized there was a little moth in the jar!  It successfully "hatched in captivity!"

Little Man watched it for another day and then let it free in our back yard.

Sons G and L, with another friend, have formed a band, and they practice in our music room every week.  So here it is, getting used!!  I love that our music room gets used so much.

We have been having such lovely fall weather.....this has been a common sight the last couple of weeks!

On November 11 we went to our local Veterans Day Memorial Service.  We were the only school aged kids there, since it was during the day.  I am so glad for the flexibility of homeschooling!

And last but not least, we packed an Operation Christmas Child shoe box this week.  Other years we have been able to pack more, but I'm thankful that we could do ONE this year!  One box is all it takes to make one child somewhere in the world supremely happy.  (our main gift was a deflated soccer ball and a ball pump).

We finished reading The Sign of the Beaver and started The Witch of Blackbird Pond this week.  The usual math and science and grammar and composition happened.   In history we are wrapping up our study of the origins of the original thirteen colonies and about to begin the lead up to the Revolutionary War.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pre Holiday House Keeping

We interrupt this homeschooling blog to bring you pictures of my most recent deep cleaning and organizing project...our living/dining room!

Once again I neglected to take a "before" picture, so these pics may not be very impressive to you.  They represent hours and hours of de-cluttering, deep cleaning, and rearranging, and I am happy and grateful for how it all turned out!

We had a lovely old library table in the corner of our dining room, an antique piece which is very special to me, but which has a large flat surface to collect lots and lots of things.  I wanted to reclaim the dining room and make it look like an actual dining room, so this lovely antique library table became my desk in our schoolroom and our dining room instantly felt about twice as big!  We did still need to keep one computer in this room, so I bought a 2' wide table for $22.  It takes up very little space and has no big flat surface to collect junk.  Happy!

The china hutch pictured here, another special piece of furniture to me, used to be flat against the wall but I moved it to the corner.  In the process of moving it I dusted every dish and tea cup on it, remembering the history of each one and basking in the glow of some special memories.

The adjoining living room is currently used as a music room, but I re-positioned the drum kit to make a better seating area in the corner.  We finally hung the new stuff above this couch.  Little Man helped me arrange and hang it.  He was really helpful with this whole project!

I told my husband we have to have lots of people over RIGHT NOW before it gets messy and cluttered again!  haha

This room makes me smile, and that is happy.  With us mamas it's always the little things, isn't it?  

Now, something I learned in the course of this may be better to tell your college aged daughter about the changes before she comes home for the weekend and discovers them on her own, because it's no longer "the way it's been all my life!" and that can throw her off just a bit. :)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Our Week in Review

Four mornings a week we start our day with me reading a book aloud to all the boys.  I did a lot of evaluation and praying over our school year while on vacation this summer, in order to be intentional this year with those things that we deem most important.  Reading outloud is one of them.  In just a few short years we won't be able to do that anymore, so we have built it into our school day this year by putting it as the very first "official" thing after breakfast and devotions!

This week we finished Huguenot Garden, about a Christian family in France during the time of Protestant persecution, and started William Bradford Pilgrim Boy.   I love, love, love this time together with my boys, and they love it too.  Even the senior secretly enjoys it, but don't tell him I told you. ;)

Then we head to the schoolroom and do our "Morning Routine," which consists of these 5 things. The vocabulary word is a greek or latin root, and we learn all the derivatives that have since come from that root word.  The boys take turns leading morning routine.

This week Little Man and I worked on writing a report from multiple sources.  He is learning how to make an outline from each source and then "fuse" them into one outline he can use from which to write a rough draft.  He is doing GREAT.  I love being his writing teacher!

Son L is learning Latin for his high school foreign language, and the homework is quite intense.  He translates, memorizes vocabulary words, and does the exercises in his textbook nearly every day (for a class that meets in person twice a week).

He is also learning physics at home with me and his dad this year.  This was an experiment that taught velocity using an inclined plane.

And this was prepping some play dough to hold a pencil at an angle in order to measure vector.

When I was in high school I worked my hiney off (well, not really...I wish!) in physics.  It was hard for me to grasp, partly because math had not been my strong suit during those years, but in spite of how hard it was I absolutely loved it.  I am determined to re-learn it this year along with son L, so this was one morning's work for me....reading his physics textbook and intermittently watching a helpful video on the Khan Academy website.

In history this week we learned about the British colony at Jamestown, Virginia.  Ever since we visited there as a family it has held a special place in my heart!  Sons G and L studied the colony in depth, son C learned about Galileo's life and discoveries, and Little Man compared the lifestyles of the Jamestown colonists with those of the Powhatan Indians.  This afternoon we had a history discussion all together where everyone shared what they had learned with everyone else.

In spite of some challenges it was a good week of learning, and I am thankful!