Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Little Man was very excited about his new stuffed dog, but when he was actually tucked into bed, it dawned on him that the going away of paci was meant to be permanent. He cried so hard! I confess, I was ready to cave, but my dear sweet husband assured Little Man that he could be a big, brave boy and hug his new stuffed animal whenever he missed paci. He fell asleep clutching that poor dog so tightly, it was really sweet and funny and a little sad. A bit bittersweet for mommy. No-one in the house is in pullups during the day anymore (yay!) and no-one has a paci. I thought this day would never come, but now that it's here.........mixed emotions.
(And if the pajamas that Little Man is wearing look slightly feminine, it's because they are hand me downs from his big sister, which he very proudly wore ALL DAY yesterday!!)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
This is daughter G's nature journal after we returned home. She found lots to draw and write about!
Son G trying a bark rubbing.
Son C painstakingly drawing the leaf that is lying next to his journal.
First we prepared our paper. We got about 5 or 6 sheets of plain white paper (from our printer) and folded them all in half, then set one aside. We cut slits in the rest of the pages, directly on the fold line, about 1.5-2 inches in on each end. The one sheet we had set aside got a long slit cut right in the middle along the fold, not all the way to the edges. Then we loosely folded the other pages the long way (a "hotdog" fold for those of you who do lapbooks) and slid them into the one paper with the long slit in the middle.
Then we laid our paper on top of a slightly larger piece of fabric which was brown and soft on the outside, to simulate deerskin.
We folded the edges of the fabric over the front and back page of our paper book and began sewing. We had to be careful to cut short slits in the fabric right at the spine so that we could fold it over and sew it to both the back page and the front page.
Then it was time to embellish our covers. We choose leaves from the yard and laid the leaves on a piece of paper put on top of a piece of wood. The paper was there just to prevent the wood from staining. Then we covered the leaves with a small square of muslin, taped the muslin down so it wouldn't move, and began pounding the muslin with a rock in order to transfer the colored "juice" from the leaf onto the muslin. This took patience but looked just great when finished!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
C: "what if I need to ask you something really bad?"
Me: "If you want to ask me something really bad, you need to ask right now."
(I should have seen it coming)
C, settling in: "well mommy, I was wondering how is it possible that God was never built? Or born? I mean, how can He always be?"
So started a very sweet 25 minute conversation, just he and I. It's not often that I get to tuck him in without his bunkmate. We talked about how volcanoes are made, among other things. Here are more snippets of the conversation about God:
C: "Before God made anything, there was just black. Black that goes on and on and on and on until it bumps into more black."
Me: "Well actually, in Genesis the Bible tells us that before God started creating there was just void. Void means empty."
C, clearly incredulous!: "I can't imagine what nothing looks like! I mean, if God hasn't made black yet, and there's no white or grey, or any colors. What does nothing look like?"
C: "do you know who I'm most thankful for mommy? God! I love Him so much and I want to make him happy, but it's very, very hard."
Me: "yes sweetie, it is hard, but God can help us do what is right."
C, ignoring me and still thinking about how hard it is: "it's the hardest thing in the world.........."
How thankful I am for this boy! How thankful I am for the chance to see into his heart and mind, and know some of his deep thoughts. Thank you, Father, that C is already asking such excellent questions. Please show Yourself to him in ways that he can understand. Help us to give him the right image of You. And help him to do what is right, and to "make You happy." Thank you for being bigger and higher and greater than our humanness can understand. I love you, Lord.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The highlight of the week for all of us was learning about the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804. It was truly amazing in so many respects. The Louisiana Purchase was arguably the biggest land deal of all time, with the U.S. paying what amounted to just 4 cents per acre with a total land acquisition that instantly doubled the size of our country! And the Lewis and Clark Expedition (or Corps of Discovery as they came to be known) was truly remarkable in the scope of its scientific mandate, and in the fact that they covered about 7,000 miles in 2.5 years, through sometimes hostile Indian territory and dangerous conditions, yet they only lost one member of their expedition (in the early months of their trip, apparently from appendicitis).
Our Tapestry of Grace curriculum suggests many wonderful books for each student's level in each week of study. I love that it is laid out so well and so thoroughly. It really cuts down on my planning time! We do, however, sometimes find books that we enjoy as much or more than the ToG recommended one, and this past week we have been enjoying one of these surprise finds as a read aloud. It is the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition as told through the eyes of Lewis's dog, Seaman.
For many years we used another history curriculum, Sonlight, which is also based on great literature and which we loved. But each of their "cores" (a set package of books for any given year) are only appropriate for about a 3 year age spread, so we were faced with the prospect of having to do two or three cores at the same time. And none of them lined up perfectly so that we could all be studying the same time period of history. This was our main motivation in looking for something else, and we are so glad we found Tapestry! During this past week with Tapestry, all of our children were learning about Lewis and Clark with books that were appropriate for their level. We worked on a big craft project all together, talking about what we were learning as we worked. I LOVE this aspect of Tapestry! It allows each of our children to flourish at their own level, yet brings us all together as a family.
Tapestry is divided into 4 levels, lower grammar (lower elementary grades), upper grammar (upper elementary grades), dialectic (middle school) and rhetoric (high school). Our 6 and 8 year old sons are in the lower grammar level together (though at vastly different levels in their reading ability!!), our 9 year old son is in upper grammar, and our 11 year old daughter is a new dialectic student this year. Her workload has been significantly increased over last year, but she has really risen to the challenge and I have been so pleased and so proud of her for the way she has taken ownership of her work! It has been a relatively smooth transition for her from elementary school to middle school!
Every Friday afternoon she and I have a school meeting and plan her work for the upcoming week. She fills out her assignment chart for the new week (all subjects) and can begin her reading over the weekend if she chooses. In addition to learning about the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition, at the dialectic level she also learned more about Jefferson's presidency, and about how presidents are elected and the 12th amendment which was passed during this time period. It was alot to cover in one week! Here are some of the books she read from this past week:
Our 9 year old son G has also experienced an increase in workload and expectation this year, and he is also doing well keeping up with his reading. He and I read this book together this past week, alternating paragraphs. This way we could discuss as we went, and I could make sure he understood the themes we were reading about.
Recently he has also enjoyed reading about Robert Fulton (inventor of the steam boat), and Noah Blake (a young man from the early 1800's who kept a diary). This last book took him a long time to read through, as it was chock full of drawings and diagrams of things Noah made for use on the family farm, and our son G is all about engineering and creating and inventing! He loved both of these books! We also enjoyed listening to a Your Story Hour CD on the life of Eli Whitney, who is best known for inventing the cotton gin, but whose biggest contribution to the industrial revolution was his idea of making standardized parts for things that could be interchangeable.
For the first time ever in his school career, our 8 year old son L started reading his own book silently (not outloud with me). He has really enjoyed that this past week! And it was a wonderful moment for me to realize we were finally at the point where he could read on his own and completely "get" it. Yay!! Thank you Lord! This is the book L has been enjoying this week:
Saturday, September 20, 2008
After (with a sinkful of cut hair to prove it)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I was a little nervous as this was my first night as the coordinator. But I think my part went well. It was such a team effort, and everyone did their job SO well. I am really looking forward to a great year.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I think I need to make some changes.
We started this year with a new plan. It involved working with our oldest for an hour or so right after breakfast, while our son G did his reading and the other 3 played in the toyroom. Then once daughter G was going with her daily work, I would work with son G while son L did his auditory processing therapy and the younger two watched a 30 minute Bible video. Then when son G was going on all his work, I would work with son L while the younger two did a preschool activity in the family room. Finally I would get to son C (the 6 year old who is learning to read) and work with just him, and then have some time with Little Man reading together before naptime. You get the idea.
Sounded so good in my head and it even looks good on paper! You should see my nice color coded chart! But it is not working out quite as well as I'd planned, and I'm not sure why.
Every homeschool parent I know ends up tweaking their schedule once school actually starts, and this year for us is no exception. I feel like I barely get time with Little Man, and sometimes the 6 year old isn't getting his reading lesson until the middle of the afternoon when he is tired and not at his best. Son L began to feel entitled to his morning play time and complained when I changed things up a little this week in an effort to cycle through everyone sooner. This HAS worked very well for our daughter, who gets time alone with me first thing when we are both fresh, and then she has the whole rest of the day to accomplish her work and she knows exactly what she is to do.
So now I get to figure out how to keep what's good about this schedule and re-do what's not working. Pray for me!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Thank you to those of you who have prayed for us!
Friday, September 12, 2008
One of our new acquisitions for Little Man this year was this set of alphabet magnets that are magnetized along their entire backside so that they leave an impression of the letter on a Magnadoodle. This was a big hit!! I got them from Rainbow Resource.
Found time to can 12 quarts of peaches. Wish it were more!
Little Man learning the concept of more/less. "Do 3 chicks weigh more or less than 2 pigs?" (great little dollar store find!)
Our son L doing math and auditory processing therapy at the same time.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Me: "Well, sometimes we all do things that satan wants, when we give in to temptation. Do you know what that's called?"
Little Man: "no".
Me: "That's called sin."
Little Man, repeating that word slowly, clearly thinking: "sin."
And then, "and when we do things that God wants it's called......"
(staring off in the distance for several moments and thinking)
"......I don't know what that's called."
Me: "that's called obedience."
Little Man: "yeah, obedience!".
(A few minutes later in the same conversation)
Little Man: "Mommy, when is God going to be finished making His really big house up in the sky?"
Me: "I don't know sweetie, but when it's done it's going to be awesome."
Little Man: "Yeah, it's going to be really BIG because once I saw a really big cloud."
Sunday, September 7, 2008
1. I love, love, love spending so much time with my children! Not only are they (usually) a blessing to me, but I can more easily see those areas that we need to work on. I see lots of subtleties in the way they relate to their siblings that I would miss if they were gone all day, and I know so much more specifically how to pray for them.
2. I love, love, love learning along with my children!! Absolutely love it! This past week I started learning latin. Who knew that a 46 year old could tackle latin and love it? It's going to be challenging, but I figure that my brain cells need the challenge probably more than my daughter's brain cells do. :-)
3. Since we have homeschooled from the beginning and added to our family twice since our oldest started school, I have so enjoyed watching the older children be home to love on the new babies and develop relationships with their younger siblings. Precious, precious snapshot memories for me.
4. I love that we can still do school if someone is a little bit sick. We miss very few days and I believe that we actually school much more than our public school counterparts.
5. I love that we have flexibility to our schedule and can take school on the road, to the library, to the Dr's office, even to Sam's Club!
6. Homeschooling has shown me my own weaknesses, and how much I need to depend on the Lord. It has grown my faith tremendously, as I've watched God work in my life and the lives of our children throughout this adventure so far.
7. We have opportunities to serve others during the day, to focus on "life skills" (code words for spending a day furiously cleaning the house or going grocery shopping!), to cook together, to go on fun field trips, or to surprise daddy with a fun picnic lunch at work.
8. When I am sick, I do not need to go out of the house ALL DAY LONG! No dropping off or picking up at school, no need to be presentable for anyone but my own family. I can wear my pajamas all day and direct their schooling from the couch. Or we can just do video school that day!
9. Homeschooling has made my hubby and I work together as partners in the education of our children. He trusts me to think through curriculum choices, and what programs and activities would be best for each of our children, and I trust him to carefully weigh the options I present to him and to take our decisions to the Lord in prayer together. I love that we are a team!
10. We have no waiting in line to go out for recess, no waiting for everyone to catch up before we can move on to something else, and we don't have to move on too quickly before everyone has "gotton" it. We get so much more accomplished each day and we can go at our own pace!
11. I have lots of helpers when I make those frozen waffles. :-)
12. I have met many of my favorite people through homeschooling. There are some awesome, awesome homeschoolers out there who willingly share their experience and wisdom with others!
13. We are able to take some extra curricular classes during the day when most others are in school.
14. We have been able to take field trips and family vacations at times when venues are less crowded.
15. It has provided me with AMPLE opportunities to practice my gifts and strengths (organization and administration are among them, though if you were to glance inside my house at any given time you may not think I am very organized!). Nothing I have ever done has given me as much pleasure and reward as homeschooling.
To any new readers and/or new homeschoolers......you will be happy to know that we have not had frozen waffles for dinner in well over a month. Even with my broken finger! Last week we had two very wonderful and exceptionally healthy dinners (the rest were average, but at least they were not frozen waffles). Some days I am quite full of energy and feel like the energizer bunny all day long. Some days I do exercise (with the children usually), and most of the time I am able to give my hubby some undivided attention without distraction. The homeschooling lifestyle is hard because it is so constant, but it is also very, very good.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
She is up at dawn (or before) to exercise and spend an hour reading her Bible and praying. She makes healthy lunches for her husband to take to work. She is always freshly showered and makeuped (is that a word?) and greets the children each morning with a lovely smile and encouraging words. Her home is always clean and even her closets are organized. She is always prepared for school with awesome lesson plans and her children always love to do their schoolwork and are always obedient. They study latin, read voraciously, take violin lessons and advanced math, and still manage to be finished with school by noon, after which they are free to pursue their own interests (such as starting their own business at age 13). She prepares delicious, nutritious dinners each night that are served on a beautifully set table and right on time. To top it all off, she has enough energy left at the end of the day to be frisky with her husband, who is tremendously content and always feels blessed to be married to her.
Well, I am not this woman.
And this may come as a newsflash to some of you, but I have never met this woman and I do not believe that she exists! There are times that I desperately cling to this ideal, and there are parts of this woman that I relate to, but the truth of the matter is that no-one has it all together as we like to think they do. No-one.
Here are some of my realities, shared in the sincere hope that it makes some of you feel better! :-)
1. I do not rise early. By early I mean seldom before 7:00 and often not until 8:00. Some days I only get up then because it's time to wake the kids, and sometimes they wake me up first!
2. My exercise is sporadic. I know I should work out regularly, but I don't.
3. Despite my best laid plans, sometimes dinner is frozen waffles. Served on paper plates.
4. I do bake our bread, except during times when our life is very busy or there's too much stuff on the counter to use my mixer, or I have a splint on my finger. We've been in a spell like that for the last 3 months.
5. I am not always a motivated homeschool mom and therefore need outside accountability. This year I am teaching science at co-op so that I will have to do it!
6. Sometimes we don't finish schoolwork until dinnertime. Or after.
7. Sometimes we finish schoolwork by early afternoon but the character issues take all day and wear. me. out.
8. My husband rarely gets home before 7:30 p.m. and we have precious little family time other than weekends.
9. There are many nights when my husband and I both fall into bed exhausted and are asleep almost as soon as our heads hit our pillows. Forget frisky. We're talking catatonic.
10. Some days my personal devotions consist of popcorn prayers and a 2 minute devotional read while in the bathroom.
11. I haven't dusted our living room since Easter.
12. I love our homeschool lifestyle, but there are days when I get very discouraged and feel like a failure as a teacher and a mom.
"In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances...... I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation........ I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (Jesus said). Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.....for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
How I thank God for His daily strength and grace! Despite the reality of having no shower some days, and my 3 year old potty training Little Man peeing through three outfits before lunch, these days are among the sweetest of my life, and I wouldn't trade them for the world!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Then we went out for breakfast, a first day of school tradition we started several years ago.
After that, daddy went to work and the rest of us went home to finish decorating the cookie dough maps we had baked the night before. For the last two years we have made salt dough maps on the first day of school, but this year I decided we should make cookie dough maps and eat them later! What a big hit! Here we are the night before, shaping the dough into the shape of the United States. The purpose of these maps was to review the major landforms and regions of our country, so we focused on making mountains in the right places, a flat area for the great plains, space for the great lakes, and the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri rivers. We shaped them on wax paper, which was laid on top of an 8.5" x 11" paper map of the U.S. We decided we could put the licorice strip rivers and green sprinkles (for wooded regions) and chocolate chips for mountains on before baking, but the icing would have to come later. Also before baking we carefully added a star shaped sprinkle for Washington, D.C.
Even 3 year old Little Man made one!
After these pictures were taken, everyone got to eat ONE THIRD of the United States!!!! Wow! That was a LOT of cookie. Then we had booktime for about an hour, where the older two read their TOG assigned reading and I read picture books to the younger 3. After Little Man was down for his nap, we read about Napoleon for a short time and then went outside to play. Today they will each write a few sentences in a small homemade flapbook about Napoleon ~ what they remember from our reading.