Monday, September 29, 2008

Please Pray for Noah

I don't know how many of my regular readers have ever clicked on the "Noah" link farther down in my right sidebar, but he is a precious little just turned 2 year old that we have been praying for for quite a while. He is very, very sick right now, with a strong infection that abx have not been able to knock out of his system yet. They suspect that the infection is in his central line, through which he receives all his nutrition and hydration. But if they pull it they would have to wait until the infection cleared before inserting a new one, and Noah cannot receive nutrition through IV, only through a central line. He would basically be fasting. For most adults a few days of fasting would not be a big deal, but for a young child and especially one with a mitochondrial disease, it is quite serious. They are debating this option now. If you feel led, please click on his link which will take you directly to his mom Kate's blog, read more about his situation, and pray for him. He has been quite sick before, and had a few close calls, but he has never been as sick as he is now. Thank you, friends.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bye Bye Paci

All of our children have been very attached to their pacifier. At some point while they were all 3, they threw paci away and began sleeping without it. Last night, Little Man decided that this was the day! We had a little "ceremony" (which you'll see in the video) where he put his paci away and opened a gift from Grandma B and Grandpa Dean. Grandma, completely understanding how hard it is to be 3 and learn to live without your paci, has given each of the children a new something to sleep with when they threw their paci away. (thank you Grandma and Grandpa!)
~
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!!)

video

Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Day of Co-op, 2008!

Here we are, all packed up to go to co-op yesterday!
We have lots of new families at co-op this year, and LOTS of high school classes being taught for credit. It has a different feel, and yet is wonderfully familiar at the same time. We had a super day!
~
Little Man is in the preschool program all morning (3 hours).
~
Son C has a five in a row class (based on the Five In A Row homeschool curriculum, so named because you spend five days in a row reading a good children's book and doing activities based on that book), Zoology 1 for 5-young 8 year olds (taught by me), and a class on native americans.
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Son L is taking a class called "Surviving the Medieval World", Zoology 1 (with his brother C), and a gym class.
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Son G is also in the Medieval World class with his brother L, plus a class on native americans for upper elementary students, and Zoology 1 for older 8-12 year olds (taught by me).
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Daughter G has a card making class, a teach with movies class, and Zoology 1 with her brother G. Her teach with movies class will be watching two movies this session and then discussing them in class. I'll tell more about that class in another post.
~
It was so fun to see old friends and make new ones, and to begin interesting and fun new classes. I am going to love my Zoology classes! We are using the same book for both age groups, but what we do in class will be vastly different depending on age. It was a great first day!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nature Walk

The glue on the front of our nature journals wasn't even dry, when we donned our moccasins and set out on a neighborhood expedition. Here are the young explorers. Son L even wore his indian tunic from last Halloween. If you look closely you can see that Little Man's moccasins are about 5 sizes too big, but it was the smallest sized kit they had, so he gets to grow into them!


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.

We only walked for about a quarter mile but it took an hour! We saw, among other things.....a really big nest in a tree (not sure if it was a bird's nest or a squirrel's nest), a very large cricket (which several people drew), a baby cricket, a dead worm (fried on the sidewalk, but still interesting!), various berries, leaves, sticks, and rocks, and a beautiful butterfly!
~
As we walked we talked about how Lewis and Clark had to take quick notes or collect items while they were traveling, so that each night when they made camp they could write a detailed description of what they had found. They had to write by campfire or lantern light of course, and with a quill pen dipped in ink! Having tried writing with a quill pen and learning how difficult it is, all of us could appreciate the amazing sketches that Lewis and Clark both made in the margins of their journals. It was a wonderful afternoon of learning, "naturally"!
~
Thank you, Lord, for the amazing world you've made for us to explore and subdue. We praise You, the Creator, and thank you for the variety of creation you've given us. Help us to be observant and always curious, and help us to care well for the earth and its inhabitants.

Making Nature Journals

Even though Lewis and Clark is so last week, we couldn't quite let go of the expedition! We decided to make authentic nature journals so that we could go on our very own expedition around our neighborhood, looking for new and unusual objects in nature. I'm not sure these are actually authentic, but they are about as authentic as we could make them! No staples or tape, and they had to be covered with some type of deerskin looking fabric to make them "waterproof". Here is the finished product:


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.

After sliding them together so that all the original fold lines matched up, we opened up the pages and had a nice little book with no staples or tape!



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!

We did glue the muslin to the covers of our journals, because we didn't think to sew the muslin to our covers first before assembling the book.
~
Muslin: $1.00
Deer looking fabric: $3.50
The experience of making our own nature journals: Priceless!
~
In my next post I will share about the nature walk we took with our new journals!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Great Song

With all the economic turmoil lately, the Lord reminded me of this song. It is a wonderful song because it applies to any of us, in any situation, and it's TRUE. Really, no matter what you're facing, this is the bottom line. It's worth the 4 minutes to listen (I thought the graphics were a little odd - if they annoy you, try to ignore them!).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Overheard.....

As I was tucking in 6 year old C, I explained that since the brother he shares a room with was out with daddy, I would leave his door open, but he was NOT to get out of bed unless he had to go potty.

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?"

Oh great!

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?"

And later......

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

Sick

Hab any of you tried to read outloud with a cobpletely stuffed up nose? It's hard! So I gave up and we did all our other work today. This is one of those days I'b so glad I didn't have to go out and face the public! Praying I feel much metter tomorrow so we can tackle our reading. Ugh.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our Week in Review (and more about TOG)

Last week was packed full, both with extra-curricular "stuff", and with topics we covered in school. We could have spent a lot more time on this week, but alas, time to move on! Before we move on, here is a look back at what we did this past week.

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:

Meanwhile, our 6 year old son C and I had fun reading these next two books, both of them full of colorful pictures and descriptive text. Perfect for his level! In fact, they were so interesting that the older siblings had to come over and listen and look too!


Way back last Christmas my parents gave our family this Lewis and Clark game, and being the teacher I am, I put it away until we got to this time period!! I brought this game out this week and we had such fun learning to play it! It's a really fun board game that captures much of the adventure of the expedition through the trading of beads for either a keelboat card, a canoe card, a moccasin card (for walking) or a horse card ~ these were the modes of transportation utilized during the journey, and there were sections on the game board that could only be used if you had the right card first. Then there were encounters with grizzlies, wintering over in forts along the way, trivia questions to answer, and many more things that made it fun and interesting. We really enjoyed this game. Thanks mom and dad!



Our hands on activity this week was super fun. We made moccasins!! Our daughter G made hers first, and then was able to help anyone else who needed help. It gave us a lot of respect for the indians, who sewed with bone needles and thread made from animal sinew. Even Little Man made some, and he actually did much of the work himself! We purchased these moccasin kits from the Corps of Rediscovery website.


Despite some challenges, it was a very good week and we all learned something new! How thankful I am for the privilege to teach my children at home and learn along with them. Happy learning everyone!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Another Boy, Another Buzz Cut

Both C and Little Man fell in love with brother L's buzz cut. But mommy told Little Man that in our family you have to be 5 to get a buzz cut!! (Aack!! Can somebody tell this kid to slow down with his growing up??)Since C met this criteria, he was allowed! We decided to save the ten bucks and daddy did it at home.

Before


During



After (with a sinkful of cut hair to prove it)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Martial Arts Question

Is it okay to let boys "fight" girls? If it's okay for younger children of opposite gender to fight each other, at what age does it stop being okay? I know that most martial arts studios teach respect for others as a key value, but in competition (which is a long way off for us) your hands, arms and feet actually connect to the other person's body and have physical contact, and of course you want to win so you're going to try to exploit your opponent's weaknesses no matter if your opponent is a boy or a girl. Is this okay? Does the principle of protecting girls that we are trying to teach our boys get lost in there somewhere?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First MOPS night

Tonight was our first night back at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). It was so fun to see all the returning moms again and to meet several new ones! We have 6 new moms registered so far for our evening MOPS, which is nearly one fourth of our total number. I love, love, love MOPS. I love the great food, the instant connection with mothers who can understand potty training woes, and (for lack of a better word) the energy in the room from all these women who are mostly much younger than myself! We have four, yes FOUR pregnant moms in our group (so far!), so we are definitely growing! I love reaching out to others with God's love and being encouraged by others in my parenting.

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.

Why?

Why must tae kwon do uniforms be white??

Monday, September 15, 2008

Buzz Cut

Our son L decided this morning that he wanted a buzz cut. He talked of nothing else all morning. His bangs have been really bothering him for a long time and since he is easily distracted by the feel of fabrics or threads or hair or lots of things (!), we went to get him a haircut this evening.

Before

During




After

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday to my beautiful, gentle, wise,
God-loving, discerning, lovely and fun mother!
You are the best mom in the world and I love you
with all my heart!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tweaking the Schedule

We are not yet in a good rhythm for this school year. We are getting there, but I am still having to make adjustments to make sure that each of the children has the time they need with me to do those subjects together that require actual teaching, such as latin and grammar and spelling, and for our 6 year old son C, learning to read. Math and handwriting and phonics workbooks are all independent work. Bible and poetry memorization we do together during breakfast. History and science we do together in the afternoons during Little Man's nap time. But last week there was not a single day where we finished before dinner time. This was exhausting for me! The children had breaks throughout the day, and we all took a lunch recess, but it took me that long to cycle through everyone. Of course tae kwon do got thrown into the mix, and we sometimes carted some schoolwork along to the do-jang to do while waiting!

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

Middle School Youth Group Decision

We decided to let our 6th grade daughter participate in the middle school youth group and we are both very comfortable with this decision. Thank the Lord! I still have some concerns, but I trust the leadership and I believe that they will work as partners with us in the training and raising of our daughter. After going to a couple parent meetings and letting our daughter go to a few activities over the summer, I am confident that it can be a positive influence in her life without encroaching on our family time and our family unity. If that changes along the way, we will make adjustments.

Thank you to those of you who have prayed for us!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Our Week in Review

Actually, here are the last two weeks in review. Our biggest new news is that the 4 older children have all started Tae Kwon Do! They love it and we are excited about all the positive benefits we are already beginning to see. For our son with SPD especially, anytime he can do physical activities that cause him to cross the midline (opposite hand/opposite foot) it helps his brain organize information. Their classes are in the late afternoon, after school work is completed. BIG motivation to get their work done!




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!

These are Napoleon flapbooks that the 4 older children made after we read a book about Napoleon. I asked each of them to write what they remembered, and for the 6 year old he told me what he remembered and I wrote for him. This shows our daughter G's closed book on the left, and our son G's open book on the right. Daughter G drew a map of Europe behind Napoleon to illustrate his thirst for power and conquest.


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.


I will admit, I am exhausted. This week in particular was VERY full. But I am also filled with thanks to God for His daily strength, for the privilege of teaching my children at home, and for all He supplies in order for me to do the work He has called me to, not only at home but also in MOPS and co-op. He is good!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Overheard....

Little Man, during tucking in last night: "Mommy, do you still love me when you spank me?"

Me: "Of course, I always love you."

Little Man: "why?"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Overheard.....

3 year old Little Man, at bedtime last night while being tucked in: "Mommy, sometimes (brother) C does what satan wants."

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

Yeeeeee-Hawwwwwww!!!!!!!!!

Football Season starts Today!!!!!!!

Homeschool Encouragement (part 12)

My previous post (Debunking some Homeschool Myths) may have comforted veteran homeschoolers with the knowledge that they are not alone, but it also may have freaked out some new homeschoolers (what??! I'm going to be exhausted all the time and have to serve frozen waffles for dinner?). So on the flip side, here are some of the things I love about homeschooling and some of the ways it has blessed me.

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

Debunking some homeschool myths (part 11)

As with any subculture of our society , there are many stereotypes and perceptions about homeschoolers that are floating around out there in the general population. Some of them are rather funny (we all wear denim jumpers and braided hair and have large families) while others are of a more serious nature (we all have the patience of Job). Homeschoolers themselves are not immune from falling for some of these misperceptions. We all think that some other homeschool mom "has it all together" and if we could only be like her, we'd be all set. You know the mom I mean, the homeschool version of the Proverbs 31 woman.


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.


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The reality of our chosen lifestyle and the day to day of our family dynamic is sometimes hard. But consider this encouragement from God's Word:

"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

First Day of School, 2008

We had a great first day of school! It started a bit differently than in years past, with a trip to the orthopedic surgeon where more xrays were taken of my pinkie finger. It was determined that the bone is healing properly, my splint was removed, and I was given the green light to do my own "therapy" at home with a check back in two weeks. Whoooo-Hoooo!

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.






After the children were in bed, hubby and I carefully baked these maps. We transferred the wax paper to cookie sheets, 2 to a sheet. We had to guess on the right amount of time to leave them in, so we started with 9 minutes and then kept checking them every couple minutes until they were done. I also set the oven to 300 rather than 350 so the thin parts wouldn't burn.
Here we are, happily frosting sections of our maps! A couple of the kids chose to frost the great plains with yellow frosting, and we had to go over the rivers again with blue frosting because the cookie had baked up around the licorice strips. We also added the great lakes at this time.




Even 3 year old Little Man made one!

6 year old C with his map:

Eating Lake Superior!


9 year old G with his map:


8 year old L with his map:



And 11 year old G with her map:


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.
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This week will be half days for us, with just history and math for everyone, and a couple odds and ends of subjects for each of the children (latin for daugher G, cursive handwriting for son G, a special history on CD thing for son L to listen to, and learning to read with son C). Next week we start with "everything."
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It was a great first day!