Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Youth Group Quandary

My husband and I visited the middle school youth group tonight. Our daughter will be eligible to begin attending this June, which in and of itself is pretty shocking, but that's another post. We are not ones to send her off to youth group just because that's the thing you do when your kids reach that age. And yes, we have checked out every group at church that she's ever participated in. Even the nursery! So at least we're consistent. We are all for fun and games, as long as there is a purpose to them and as long as that purpose fits in with our family's values.

Anyway, it was interesting! And FUN. Very high energy. There were some things I didn't really care for, one thing I strongly didn't care for, and some things that I really liked. It was insightful to see the children of friends of mine at church that I normally only see in passing, interacting with their peers.

Our middle school youth pastor told us that the middle school youth group has 3 parts to it: Wed nights which are specifically designed for kids in public schools to bring their friends to (christian or not), Sunday mornings where older students teach younger students (training the older ones in leadership), and Sunday evenings where each grade and gender can participate in a small group for Bible study and accountability. These are led by adults. We plan to visit on Wed night several more times, and also on Sunday morning. I'm not sure about the appropriateness of visiting a small group, but I have a much better idea what those are about anyway.

Honestly, while I was observing tonight I had a hard time envisioning our daughter in that setting, but it could partly be that "I can't believe my sweet innocent little girl is old enough for this already!" thing that moms go through. It would definitely be outside her comfort zone, but that is not always bad. In fact, often it is good! The 8th graders just look soooooo much older than the 6th graders. And much bigger. Yikes.

So, we are praying for wisdom and trusting the Lord to guide us. It's such a comfort to know that He loves our daughter even more than we do!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Out of Sync Day

Today was just a little "off" all day long. I struggled with balance today. And I was not a very good mom. I had to do a few MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) things this morning, then we picked our van up from the shop. Then came lunch, and occupational therapy for one of our sons. By the time we were all settled together to do school it was the middle of the afternoon. My kids thrive on routine. And today had no routine. So we all kindof floundered.

How do I demonstrate the importance of service to others without shortchanging my own family? Maybe it's more in my attitude than in my actions. I didn't have the best attitude today. Another factor is that despite the fact that homeschooling allows us to be flexible with our schedule, there is such a thing as being too flexible. Or maybe it was just my attitude again.

On the upside, we figured out a way to pay for our van repair that did not involve a credit card. God is good!

As Scarlett O'Hara would say, "tomorrow is.......another day!"

Colonial Times Unit Celebration!!

Last Friday evening we had our unit celebration to mark the end of our studies of the colonial time period. Grandma and Grandpa came over, as well as two families that are good friends of ours. We had a low-key but very fun time.

We had a display table showing some of the things we made during this unit, as well as some of the books we enjoyed reading. There were also several little items we had purchased in Jamestown/Williamsburg last September when we were there during homeschooling week. Then each of the older 4 children shared about some aspect of colonial times and then we ate some colonial desserts (two kinds of cookies made without white sugar - which was very precious in those days and used only for company - and popcorn, which the colonists learned how to make from the indians).

Here are some shots of our display table.



The harpsichord pictured here was something our daughter fell in love with while we were in Williamsburg on vacation last fall. It was the "poor man's piano" during colonial times. We secretly bought her one and saved it for a Christmas gift. While our guests were getting their dessert, our daughter serenaded everyone with lovely harpsichord music!


Our 5 year old son C talked about some of the games colonial children would play. Here he is demonstrating how to play nine pins, the forerunner of our game of bowling.


Our 7 year old son L explained the difference between the flintlock gun and the matchlock gun. He had a picture of each, and was talking about them in this picture.

Our 8 year old son G talked about houses in colonial times. He explained how the early colonists made mud daub houses (we had 4 of them on our display table, made out of shoe boxes with popsicle sticks glued along the sides, painted brown, and grass glued on top for the roofs), and then how they began using bricks. He had several pictures from our trip to Jamestown which he shared.

Our 10 year old daughter G gave a speech on "the starving time" in the Jamestown colony, the winter of 1609-1610. This represented a lot of hard work on her part, as this speech was her writing assignment for several weeks. We started with choosing a topic, then learned how to do research, then wrote out the speech, edited it, rewrote it, and practiced it. Since this was her first speech and I knew she'd be writing/giving others in the future, I gave her the option of not using notecards and instead basically memorizing the speech so that she could give good eye contact to her audience. She gladly chose this option, as the notecards seemed intimidating to her. I was really proud of her, as she was able to look up most of the time, and she even spoke with feeling! (hard for a reserved person to do in front of lots of people)



This last picture shows "pieces of eight" which we purchased in Williamsburg last fall. The colonists were not allowed (by British law) to mint their own money, so they used coins from other countries which they would cut in pieces to represent smaller denominations of money. Eventually the coins were cut into 8 pieces, which is where we get our phrase "two bits" (which equals 25 cents). Isn't that cool to know it dates back to colonial times?!

We had a great time, and have already begun our next unit which deals with the revolutionary war. We love Tapestry of Grace!

Monday, January 28, 2008

I got a webkinz!!!

Our 7 year old son is totally into webkinz now. Huge. Big. He only has one (some of his friends have more than 20) but he takes it with him EVERYWHERE he goes, and loves to play the games at webkinz.com. So he decided that I would love one too, and since my birthday is coming up the end of February, he began saving his money and planning to buy me one.

Well, he couldn't wait until February. That money was just burning a hole in his pocket! So he and my hubby went out on Saturday and purchased one, and he gave it to me yesterday after church. It's a beagle dog and it's really cute! I did not discourage him from spending this money on me ($13) but instead am tickled that he wants to share his favorite thing with his mom.

I named the dog Maxi. I realized later that it sounds like a feminine product, but that was not my reason for naming it so! So if any of my friends have their own webkin also, let me know your username and I'll put you on my friends list! :-)


Friday, January 25, 2008

Dare I say it??

If I say that potty training is going well, does that jinx it??

Little man stayed dry ALL DAY yesterday! Yes, even through nap. He wore the same pull-up all day and was able to just keep it on for bed. And today he was dry all afternoon and evening. I think he would've been dry all morning too except I was teaching classes at co-op and couldn't take him at the right times.

Not to mention the 45 minutes we sat on the shoulder of the highway waiting for my knight in shining armor to come rescue us when our van began smoking (no, not cigarettes) on the way to co-op this morning. That was a long wait for a little man who hadn't "gone" yet today.

So the good news is that our little man is doing GREAT with potty training so far. I am so ready for an easy one.

The bad news is that our van is in the shop and we have no idea how to pay for a repair right now. If it had happened next Friday that would have been so much more convenient. Why didn't the van ask me first???

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Colonial Lapbooks are finished!!

The colonial lapbooks are finished! The older 3 children did a great job on them. For those of you who may not know, lapbooks are "books" made out of file folders with small fold-it booklets glued inside. Each smaller fold-it will have some specific information in it on what the children have learned on a certain topic. This has been a wonderful way for our kids to "show what they know" and for me to use as an evaluation tool as well (how much they are retaining). We typically make one or two fold-its per week and then put them all together in the file folder at the very end of each unit.

The fold-its for these lapbooks were primarily taken from the colonial lapbook CD that Knowledge Box Central sells. But we didn't use all the ones included on the CD and we made up a few of our own. We went through a few super busy weeks where we made no fold-its, so our finished products are just one full file folder in size, with half a file folder cut and taped along one side to make a large fold out page. In other words, a total of 3 pages.

It would be over-kill to show pictures of every child's lapbook, so I've included detailed photos of just our oldest child's lapbook. She is very particular in how she likes things, so she put all the fold-its in where she wanted them, even if they weren't in chronological order. :-) She is 10 years old and in the fifth grade. I required her to fill every page of every fold-it with as much information as she could fit on it. Our 8 year old had to write at least two sentences on each fold-it, and our 7 year old had to write just one. If there was more than one sentence worth of pertinent information, I did the rest of the writing for him.

Here is her cover, finished except for the coloring.


When you open it up, you see the flap of the extra page on the right side.

Here it is with the extra flap opened up, so you can see all 3 pages of fold-its.

On the first page she has a colonial quilt, a map labeling the 13 colonies, a picture of a ship with the names of the 3 ships who brought the original colonists to Jamestown written on its sail, and a "who were the Puritans?" fold-it.

This is the quilt fold-it, opened up.



And the map fold-it, opened up. It shows the northern colonies, middle colonies, and southern colonies in different colors.



This is the 3rd page, the extra fold out page. It has a colonial jobs matching game, and 2 of our home-made flap books, one describing each of the middle colonies and the other describing each of the southern colonies.



This is the matching game up close, with the cards showing.


And this shows two pages of her middle colonies flap book, one on New York (on the top) and the other on New Jersey (on the bottom).

Here is the middle, or second page of the lapbook. It has a fold-it on William Penn, a small fold-it telling where the first Pilgrims landed, a Pocahontas flap book, and our third home-made flapbook on the northern colonies.

Here is the Pocahontas flap book opened up. She wrote out Pocahontas's life story in the form of a cartoon strip, so there are small numbers written above the text in certain places that correspond to one of the boxed pictures on the bottom of the flap. There are 3 pages to this flap-book and each one is chock full! This was a project totally self-directed and which she loved.

And last but not least, here is a page from our 7 year old's flap-book on the southern colonies. It illustrates our rule of thumb for one sentence of his writing, and the rest written by me.

I am so glad these are DONE! They are fun to look at and are great tools for remembering all we have studied since September. They will be proudly on display at our unit celebration tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Good Day!

Today we finished reading the book of Mark. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment, as it is the first ENTIRE book of the Bible I have read outloud to our kids. Now just 65 to go and they will have "read" the whole Bible! Seriously, I don't think anything else we have done so far in our homeschooling journey has given me quite this sense of accomplishment and contentment. I am so thankful for God's inspiration last summer when I was wondering what Bible curriculum to use this year, to just read the Bible. Now I am praying about which book to read next.

The last few chapters of Mark, as in all the gospels, detail Jesus' arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. As I was reading in Mark 14 about Jesus' arrest, our son G was anticipating the part when Peter takes his sword and cuts off the ear of a servant of the high priest, and then Jesus puts it back on. He had heard that detail in Sunday School and kept saying to his younger brother C, "you are gonna love this part!" Well, when we got to that part, it did not say that Jesus put his ear back on. Our son G was quite mystified as to why that detail was not in there. So I had a chance to explain that all 4 gospels give an account of the same events from a slightly different perspective, so to get the big picture we really have to read them all. So we did! We read about Jesus' arrest in all 4 gospels, and we discovered that the book of John is the only place where the healing of the ear is mentioned. I was glad for this brief exposure to the idea of comparative study. It was a wonderful teachable moment!!

Here is a recent page from the older 4 kids' bible journals. I love how each one is different, yet they pull from the text the important things they want to draw. This first one shows Jesus' arrest. It is 5 year old C's journal, but is mostly drawn by me.

This image of Jesus' trial before Pilate is in 10 year old G's journal. I love her use of perspective in this picture!

8 year old G depicted Jesus being taken off the cross and buried by Joseph of Arimathea. You can see Joseph inside the tomb in the lower part of the picture, holding a torch. Jesus's body is wrapped in cloths and lying on a stone shelf inside the tomb. He drew rock outcroppings on the side of the hill to make it look like a skull (since Golgotha means "the place of the skull").

Finally, 7 year old L drew Jesus' resurrection just today! Here the angel is announcing to the women who have come to put spices on Jesus' body that Jesus is not here, He has risen!

I pray fervently that the truth of God's Word would take root in their hearts and minds and completely captivate them.
After the momentous morning of finishing Mark, we did move on to other subjects. In history we have finished our study of colonial times and are about to move on to the Revolutionary War. Before doing that however, we are planning a unit celebration for this Friday evening. Whoo-Hooo!!! It will be a fun time of remembering what we have learned, and sharing snippets of colonial life with a few of our friends. We are so excited. Today we put the finishing touches on our colonial "lapbooks" we have been making. Each of the older 4 children tried their hand at writing with a quill pen. It's much harder than it looks. These quill pen writings were later glued inside their lapbooks and will be on display this Friday at our celebration.




Monday, January 21, 2008

Laid Back Sunday

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity." ~ Psalm 133:1

I love this picture! The 4 boys were all playing with K'nex after lunch on Sunday with no arguing, no fighting over pieces, no loudness of any kind. They were sharing so nicely, I decided to snap a picture to remind me of our goal. :-)

My hubby stayed home from church with a fever and body chills/aches, and when we got home he was still sleeping. My plan was to watch the NFL divisional championship games in front of a nice roaring fire, and keep the children entertained downstairs so that hubby could sleep. But I could not manage to get a nice fire going without smoking out the whole house. Every once in a while, on windy days, we have this problem. I ended up having to put the smoldering logs outside on the cement patio, and then we bundled up together on the couch while we waited for the embers to go out so I could close the flue! It was c-c-c-c-c-c-old! Fortunately my boys were in a snuggling mood. When hubby woke up we moved this snuggle fest up to our bedroom and watched the games up there where it was much warmer! The boys went to bed before the Giants/Packers game was over and they all told me to tell them who won as soon as they woke up today. Perhaps I will get one or two football fans out of this family yet.

L with his K'nex movie camera on tripod.

C woke up this morning at 4:00 and never went back to sleep. Several of us have headaches and lethargy today. I think there is a virus that very much wants to move in. Hubby is feeling a bit better today though, and I'm hoping the rest of us can fight this virus off.

Friday Co-op

We are back at our homeschool co-op for winter session, and have had 2 weeks of it so far. The children all seem to like their classes, and I am impressed and thankful for what they are learning there that we don't cover at home. For instance, I don't do any grammar with our kindergartener, but at co-op he's in a "grammar rock" class based on the schoolhouse rock dvd's. He comes home each week so excited about nouns and verbs, and singing the little jingles from the dvd. Who knew that 5 year old's could love grammar?!

8 year old G's favorite class is another science one called "Light and Prisms". He loves anything resembling science!

Our oldest is in a ceramics class which she loves, and also continued in a class called "Kids of Courage" where they learn about christian children who live in countries openly hostile to christianity. She participates in great discussions in that class, and is learning a bit about other religions of the world and what distinguishes christianity from all others. This class is based on the "Kids of Courage" magazine that is put out by Voice of the Martyrs. I highly recommend this magazine. You can sign up to receive it here.

I am teaching two classes, a drawing class for older kids and a music and movement class for younger children. In my drawing class I have 2 fifth graders, a sixth grader, and 2 eighth graders. They all want to be there and it is a joy to teach them! I have 12 wiggly younger ones in my music and movement class, and we are having a lot of fun doing activities that teach about body awareness, eye-hand coordination, teamwork, and lots of sensory experiences. As I am continuing to learn about sensory processing disorder I am incorporating some of what I learn into this class, and trying to give all the children a rich sensory "diet". It's really fun, and two of my boys are in this class with me.

Fridays are tiring, but worth it. Co-op is a such a huge blessing to our family.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Learning to Read!

video

Just had to shoot a few seconds of C trying to sound out words from a new library book! I love how his big brother helps him. Be sure to turn the volume up. When this starts he is in the process of sounding out the word "went".

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fun Kindergarten Day!

Yesterday our 5 year old son C had an especially fun day in kindergarten. First, we did his dictation/writing/reading on his aquadoodle mat instead of his little white board. For some reason this made it EXTRA fun! :-) He is coming along really well in his reading of cvc words (consonant/vowel/consonant) and he now knows the sight word "the" very well.
It was also his day for a bible lesson with his older sister. Last year I enlisted her help for teaching an age appropriate bible lesson to C once a week. This has been such good training for her (she prepares it all on her own) and has helped strengthen the brother-sister bond between them as well. Yesterday the lesson was on the Israelites exodus from Egypt. Big sister read the lesson to him and then did a "suitcase" craft. They glued pictures of clothing and other items to take on a long journey onto a construction paper suitcase. Then he proudly carried this "suitcase" with him as they journeyed around the house! Big sister uses the book pictured below to prepare his lessons, which I bought at our local Family Christian Store.
I'm so thankful for the good days when C has lots of fun in school!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Book Review

Recently a friend gave me a book to read called Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe. I thought, hmmm, this title sounds interesting but I really don't think I am believing lies. It was a thin book, would be an easy read, so I picked it up last weekend and started in. Finished it the next day! It was quite compelling, and I had to agree that I have, at one time or another, believed every lie in the book.

I highly recommend this book for all my homeschooling friends, and for my non-homeschooling friends it might be interesting and show you ways to encourage your homeschooling friends. You can find the book here.

The Lord, in His mercy and longsuffering, is helping me to be "real". I truly want to be. It has been harder for me to be real to my non-homeschooling friends than to my fellow homeschoolers. I think this is because I know that fellow hs'ers can understand completely what we go through, both the highs and the lows, whereas if I share about a really bad day with my non-hs'ing friends, they are more likely to tell me to just put my kids in school! (This has actually happened to me by the way. If you have heard about a bad day we've had and have not said this to me, you are not the friends I am talking about!). That is not what I need to hear. It minimizes the commitment we have made to home educate, and ignores the fact that classroom teachers also have really bad days. What do you say to them, "just stay home"?

I'm glad I read this book. Thank you Amy, for passing it along to me! The homeschool cartoons scattered throughout the book gave my hubby and I quite a chuckle too. I give it two thumbs up!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday

My husband and I had a great time celebrating our anniversary over the weekend. We had a weekend-not-away, which means we went out Friday afternoon/evening, came home to sleep, and went out again for the day on Saturday. My wonderful mother-in-law came both days to stay with our children. She is the best and our kids love her! (thank you Grandma Reen!!) My wonderful hubby let me sleep in on Saturday morning by getting up with the kids and doing breakfast duty. That almost never happens. I slept until 11:00!

We saw the movie Charlie Wilson's War which is sortof an odd choice for an anniversary, and one which I can't in good conscience actually recommend since it's rated R (for hottub nudity, really bad language, and some scenes of violence) but which I will admit we really enjoyed! It was fascinating to learn more about the war in Afghanistan in the mid to late 80's. I felt ashamed at how little I was aware of it even at the time. Charlie Wilson was a congressman from TX who virtually singlehandedly brought an end to this conflict by orchestrating and funding a covert CIA operation. It was all the more fascinating because it's true (or rather, based on a true story). Lots of food for thought. My husband and I had several great conversations about it afterwards.

We also had fun spending about 2 hours at a large "everything for your home" store where we lounged in some very comfortable recliners and watched a huge flat panel TV that we could never afford. We picked out all kinds of stuff for when money is no object! :-) It was lighthearted, and relaxing, and fun.

So anyhoo.....why does it always have to be so hard to get back to normal life?

Our SPD child had a very hard day today. I am worn out, and also sad for him. Our oldest shed some tears when she was not done with her work by 5:00. Though she really wanted to pass the blame she knew it was her own fault and that knowledge was really hard for her to accept. I calmly listened and offered her suggestions for keeping distractions to a minimum (like working in her room at times, etc). Then I told her she had to finish. To her credit, she did, with no whining. I pray today's lesson won't need to be repeated any time soon. It's so hard to grow up. I hurt for my children when they go through hard times, yet I know they need these times to grow and learn and mature. And I know their "hard times" will get harder as they get older, so it's better if they can practice responding now.

Sigh.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Us!!!!!


To my husband, my lover, my best friend:


Sixteen years ago today we became husband and wife. We had no idea what we were getting in for. And that's probably a good thing! :-) But even if I'd known, I would have still married you. I loved you then and couldn't imagine loving you more. I love you now and know that I will continue to love you more and more. We did not know what our future would hold, and now, 16 years into that future, I agree with God's assessment that "it was good." Whatever the future holds from here on out, I'm glad we're journeying together. I'm looking forward to our "weekend-not-away". You are my favorite person to spend time with!!

Happy Anniversary honey!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Longing......

Why is the gate in the doorway? To keep a little new walker out? To keep a pet in? No......



To keep those who have no more "watching time" from watching their sister play a computer game! Who knew baby gates had so many uses ??? Even though they can't watch, they can listen. And imagine. And dream.

There are days when I wish my biggest problem in life was not getting to watch someone else play a computer game.

Thursday's Thankful Things

I'm thankful I had a suspicious mole removed from my hand. It turned out to be pre - pre - melanoma. I have to watch and make sure another mole does not begin to return, and we should be okay. Otherwise I have to have a little surgery and have all the pigmentation in that area removed.

I'm thankful for an hour of alone time with our youngest last night while everyone else was at Awana. He didn't take a nap yesterday (ugh!) and needed some mommy time and an early bedtime. It was precious!

I'm thankful for the OT clinic we are involved with now, and for all the resources at my disposal for helping our child with SPD.

I'm thankful our tree has been taken down and all the needles vacuumed up. Our family room now seems twice as big!

I'm thankful for my friends.

I'm thankful for my family.

I'm thankful for two cars that are paid for and run reasonably well. Now that it's 2008 they are both officially in their second decade of life, but so far so good. Hopefully they won't experience much teenage rebellion!

I'm thankful for a day we can go outside today.

I'm thankful God loves me no matter what.

I'm thankful we homeschool.

I'm so thankful for God's word!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Some thoughts on having a Special Needs Child

I'm not completely comfortable with this title, but I decided to use it anyway and just define it differently. :-)

What do you think of when you hear those words "special needs"? Being in the homeschool community, I hear them alot. Many of my homeschooling friends have children with special challenges that make learning difficult. I have always understood this phrase to mean needs that fall outside the loose perimeters of what "most" children need in order to learn and thrive. In thinking more about it though, don't we all have special needs in one way or another?

Four of our children are currently being schooled, with a 3 year old coming up quickly. In our little classroom of 5, it is easy to see how they all learn differently. Some are visual learners and some are auditory learners. One is a kinesthetic learner. Some like to move (need to move) while trying to memorize things, some like music or other background noise, some prefer total silence. Some work best on the floor, some at the table. You get the point. This is their "ideal" - what they need in order to learn best (which is one reason I love homeschooling so much! - the opportunity to provide for each of their special needs). So in a sense, each of my children has special needs. Needs that are uniquely theirs. Needs that perhaps only I know. Needs that God has appointed me to meet, or to find others who can meet them.

Recently one of our children was identified as having Sensory Processing Disorder (also called Sensory Integration Dysfunction), which is difficulty processing information received through the senses. It encompasses a wide range of behaviors and reactions that vary greatly from child to child, so it often goes undiagnosed and is also frequently misunderstood by observers. I am still a novice and learning much, but it has been fascinating to learn a bit more about how the brain functions, how messages are sent and received, and how a traffic jam in the brain can cause such confusion, fear, and low self esteem in children who struggle with SPD.

When this became evident I went through a wide range of emotions. Guilt (how could I not have seen this earlier?), fear (how will this affect their future?), regret (if only we had entered the Early On program when they were evaluated at 10 months old, if only we had started therapy earlier), even some anger and of course feeling overwhelmed with all the new information and what it would mean for our unique situation.

By God's grace we are through all of that and are in pro-active mode now. We were able to begin occupational therapy and listening therapy for this child almost immediately. We found a wonderful OT clinic very close to our home. Several months ago, long before I ever knew I would be needing their expertise, God had given me some new friends who have already been down this road! We can so clearly see ways in which God has prepared us for this, and even more, how He has prepared THIS for US.

Our child with SPD did experience some trauma at birth (which is one cause of SPD) that God could have prevented. In His wisdom and sovereignty He did not. Struggling with this disorder is part of who God made our child to be. We do not view it as something wrong to be fixed, but as something to learn to thrive with. It has negative aspects that must be overcome, but what a training ground for learning coping skills! And what a wonderful way to help develop a heart of compassion for others! I know that others may view it as a "special need". And truthfully, there are some pretty big ramifications for both our homeschool and our parenting. But in one sense we view this as a "special gift." What an opportunity for our child (and us) to learn more of God's grace!

Heavenly Father, thank you that You were with us before, are with us now, and will be with us in the future. Through all the unknowns, the uncertainties, and the changes You are there. Thank you for leading us down this path. Help us to help our child the best we can. Keep your loving hand upon them. Remember they are but a child. Please lead gently. Thank you for each of our precious children and for each of their special, unique needs. What a privilege it is to be the one to meet them! Give grace where we are lacking, and cover our mistakes with your mercy. May you receive glory for this journey we are on, and through the life of our child whom we place, again, in Your hands. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Back to School

We started back to school today after a wonderful 3 week break. It was a great day for some! Not so great for others. Remember our new computer rules? It was hilarious today to hear them negotiating with each other...."are you going to play Webkinz today? If you are then I want to watch, but if you're going to play something else I want to save my watching time for later." Computer time worked very well today with no arguing. Yay! Of course it was reserved for only after all school work was done. That's pretty strong motivation for some around here.

In other exciting news, 5 year old C won a foosball game against 8 year old G! Go C!!!

It was warm enough to go outside today and we all took about a 45 minute walk after lunch. It was GREAT to get outside for a bit. The boys found several notched sticks that will make great slingshots or stands for cooking over a fireplace pit.

During our Christmas break A decided he wanted to start sitting on the potty. So that has become a several times a day thing. Every once in a while he actually goes, but mostly he likes to sit there for about 2 seconds and then say, "I want to try again later." Today he actually stayed dry during his entire nap!!!! So I was sure he really had to go when he got up. Despite 15 minutes of story time with his sissy while he sat there, the potty remained dry. Oh well. I have promised myself not to stress out about it. He'll learn sometime before he goes off to college! And I really, really, really love and appreciate my daughter!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Computer Rules

We got a new computer game for Christmas, "Battle for Middle Earth, 2" which is based on the Lord of the Rings movies. We have checked out version 1 from the library many times, so this type of game is not at all new to our kids. I loved the movies, but I have been less then enamored with my sweet, young children playing the game. There is no blood or gore, but the objective is to win battles and that involves lots of killing. My husband says it is more about strategy than violence. This is one of those disagreements where I have chosen to submit to my husband and trust that he knows best.

Partly because it was a new game, and partly because of the addictive nature of computer games, our children began to obsess about this game. I mean not-able-to-sleep, planning-my-next-move-when-it's-my-turn-again, don't-want-to-play-with-anything-else kind of obsessed. Not only were they obsessed, they all wanted to watch everyone else's turn. So the older 3, who have been limited to 2 hours a week of computer time, were now having 6 hours each in front of the computer instead of 2. This troubled me. Greatly. I prayed about it and my husband and I talked.

We decided to take a week off from this particular game, and to limit the children's watching to one hour per week. They may still play two hours per week, but they can only watch others play for one hour total. And THEY need to be responsible for keeping track of this hour (though I will keep an eye on it at first to make sure they are assuming responsibility for this). This way their developing eyes are only sitting in front of a blinking monitor for 3 hours a week instead of 6.

Our children were amazingly receptive to this plan. When we explained the reasons behind it, they seemed to buy into it completely. This was a great encouragement to me for the importance of explaining "why". I think this will become even more important as our children get older. I am so thankful they are now at ages that we can begin to reason with them. And I am loving not having to deal with this game for a week!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

We had a wonderful start to 2008 because my dad and a good friend were visiting us from out of state. We had such a wonderful time with them!! We did go to a historical museum one day, but mostly hung out at home and soaked up every moment together. Here are me and my dad watching the bowl games on New Year's Day. I love football, and have good memories of watching it with my dad on Sunday afternoons when I was little. It was really great to watch the games with another football lover!

My friend Marcie, who lives in England, made us an english dessert one night called "Sticky Toffee Pudding." It was fabulous!! She was a great help in the kitchen and I have to say that was really delightful! I'm not used to finding the dishes done by someone else. It's something I managed to get used to really quickly. :-)


Grandpa and his grandson G at the historical museum.


Our children had not seen Aunt Marcie for 3 years, but they warmed up to her very quickly. C cuddled with her while watching a new video one of them got for Christmas, VeggieTales "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's".

Playing "Sneaks" together. Fun game!!

Notice this snowman's feet.

Our son A with his cousin Cody.


With Marcie's help we were able to finish our traditional Christmas puzzle in record time. And despite 8 little cousins running around and accidentally destroying the puzzle numerous times, we are only missing one piece!


Dad and Marcie left tonight. I am sad. But I'm happy for my mom who has been a little bit lonely. And I'm grateful for 5 days with my loved ones!