Friday, November 28, 2008


Me to Little Man: "Have I told you today how much I love you?"

Little Man: "Yes."

Me: "Oh good. How much?"

Little Man: "As far as the east is from the west."

Me: "That's right! And I will always love you.....

Both of us together: " matter what."

Little Man: "And I love *you* from the lava {in the center of the earth} to God's forehead and back."

I was totally feeling the love after that!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Co-op Closing Program

We finished our 9 week fall session of co-op last Friday! What a great semester we had! In the evening we had our closing program, where each class got to showcase their knowledge and display any projects they worked on during the previous 9 weeks. Closing program always encourages and motivates me, as I see the variety of wonderful experiences students of all ages have had. It makes me so thankful for the privilege of homeschooling!

Here is Little Man's preschool class, singing about seeds that grow (he's in the gray, no hat).

My 2 Zoology classes shared the stage, and those who wanted to had an opportunity to say one thing they learned this session that they didn't know before. I was impressed with all they remembered! Our son L is in front in the white. He had to wear white to portray Jesus in a silent play that his medieval class performed. Since he doesn't own white pants, I was very thankful for his tae kwon do uniform!!

Here is our Zoology display, after most of the projects that had covered the table were already picked up.

Our son G's final project was the bird house he built in Stockade last month. Since the bird house is already hanging on the side of our shed, he brought in a picture of it. For our daughter G's project, she chose to research the black capped chickadee. This was the result of her work ~ she did all the typing herself!

She ended up making 27 beautiful cards in her card making class. Here she is with her two favorites, and the following picture shows them all.

We had a little extra excitement at the end of the evening, when our son C cut the back of his head on the edge of a speaker up on stage. Being a head wound, it bled A LOT and we initially thought we'd have to go the ER for stitches. But after we got home and re-assessed the situation we realized that it was a superficial cut, just the skin, so we snipped a bit of hair out of the way, cleaned the cut, pinched the two sides together and superglued it shut. Yep! You read that right. Superglued it. I found out an amazing thing Friday night from a nurse....superglue is what hospitals use! I thought it was some special glue developed just for skin, but it's just superglue. I woke C once in the night just to be sure he would wake up okay, and the next morning he said he felt "great." We are so thankful it wasn't worse, and that we could save a $50 ER copay.

Now we are off until January, and though we love co-op very much it will be nice to have a break!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


One of the things that made last Wed a hard day is that I found out I have arthritis in my knees. I have suspected it for a while, but it was still hard to hear the Dr say it. I feel like my own personal old age has begun and I am not ready for it. I have had 2 different types of pain in my leg/knees for several years. The one type is probably caused by the way I sit while we are doing school. The explanation made total sense to me and that pain can be alleviated with stretching exercises. The other pain is "early onset" arthritis. My mom has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for a number of years. She has done so with an amazing amount of courage and grace, but it is difficult and has been totally life changing for both she and my dad. My type, so far, is osteo-arthritis which is a different flavor than RA ~ it is not systemic so only the affected joints ache, not the whole body. There is an RA marker that can be detected by blood tests, and mine have been negative for which I am very thankful. But until recently I had not ever considered the possibility of the other type of arthritis, and it has been hard for me to accept.

But....I know that emotions, while real, are not the same as truth. And the truth is that God will help me to learn to live with this and move on and be fine. The truth is that it isn't life threatening. The truth is that God is gracious and faithful and loving and GOOD. With my mind and my will I choose to be thankful, and give my emotions time to catch up.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Mother of all Blow Outs

Little Man had a blow out while at Awana last night. Of course, what baby/toddler doesn't have blow outs now and then, right? But he is nearly 4. And big. And the bigger the boy, the bigger the blow out. He tried to "take care of it" himself and ended up making a bigger mess - on his hands, the chair, the floor, the table, the wall, the toilet (when the leaders finally got him there). It was inside all his clothes, down to his socks, his shoes. EVERYTHING. This hasn't happened in months so I was unprepared. We don't ever take a diaper bag with us anymore.

Needless to say, when I got there and saw it for myself, I realized the two wipes I had swiped from the church nursery weren't going to do a whole lot.

Poor Little Man, he was hysterical. Just sobbing. He was so embarrassed. He just fell onto my shoulder in a wet shaking heap. I was so glad to be his mama and be able to comfort him and start cleaning him up so we could go home and have a warm bath. And I am *so thankful* for his Awana leaders who took it all in stride and had donned rubber gloves and were valiantly making an effort at cleanup when I got there. Thank you Lynn! You are wonderful!

After cleaning him up as best I could, finding some clothes to come home in, and cleaning up the bathroom, it was 8:55 and I could just imagine what the leaders of my other boys' activities were thinking of me, to pick them up so late. My hubby who is usually there facilitating the Truth Project, had stayed at work late last night. But the very patient Sparks leader was kind and understanding and we finally made it home a little after 9:00, where everyone had a small snack and Little Man had a nice bath and went to bed.

Yesterday had been a tough day for me, for many reasons. We had a craft night at MOPS where we stamped some beautiful cards, and that was fun. But I had to slip away during the stamping to go and pray in a quiet place. I had had no quiet all day and my soul was craving it. I poured out my heart to God for a few moments and then sat still, just resting in His presence. It was just what I needed. Then I returned to the MOPS room, made a few gorgeous cards, and a short while later is when one of Little Man's Awana leaders came to get me because, as she whispered to me, "he had a poop accident in his underwear."

As I was cleaning up his blow-out and comforting his little traumatized self, it occurred to me how much like him I am sometimes. Something happens that disappoints, hurts, or upsets me, and while others can be helpful, no-one can comfort me like God can. No-one else can clean up my messes like God can. No-one else knows just what I need like God does. No-one else is willing to get as dirty as necessary in order to meet me right where I am. How thankful I am for the Lord! How grateful I am for His unconditional love! It is too wonderful for me to comprehend, but as I experience it day by day (some days feeling it a little more keenly than others) my heart grows ever more grateful.

"Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Little Man: "Did you know that I'm smarter than you?"

Me: "Is that because you know what you're thinking and I don't?"

Little Man: "Yes."

Me: "What are you thinking right now?"

Little Man: "I'm thinking about camping somewhere different next time."

(He apparently has camping on the brain - this is the second time he's mentioned camping! And I finally figured out that he thinks he knows more than me because I don't know what he's thinking at any given moment. I often wish I did!).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Week in Review

Yes, this would be for last week again. I can't seem to keep current with my weeks!

Peg boarding and mice petting....

More bird watching and tower building.....

Oh yeah, we did school too! :-) In history last week we learned more about the Texas Revolution, including the Alamo, and figures that were important to that effort such as Davy Crockett, William Travis, and Sam Houston. For our lower grammar boys I picked just one or two people to focus on, and one of these was Davy Crockett. Sometimes the books suggested by TOG for lower grammar are still a little too wordy for my boys, so I usually spend a portion of Sunday afternoon at the library looking for books that fit the bill a little better for us. I found a picture book of Davy Crockett that was just perfect (pictures on every page!) and another one about the Alamo that managed to hit all the main points with few words.

Our daughter read more in depth about the Texas Revolution and also focused on other events during Andrew Jackson's second term as president. We spent some time analyzing his presidency and his character qualities, and took a look at how he measured up to the world's definition of a leader versus God's definition of a leader as described in the Bible. Fascinating! We ended the week by watching "The Alamo" (the 60's version with John Wayne) during pizza and movie night on Friday.

In science we learned about all the different types of birds nests there are (many!) and marveled at God's creativity in making so many different types of animals that we are STILL, centuries after creation, learning more about them and discovering new ones!

We continued our regular work in math, grammar, spelling and writing. G and G are working on learning how to write a report. Once they have practiced a little more with the dvd we have, they will be choosing a bird from science to write a report on. Sons G and L are working hard to finish the prepositions unit in grammar and move on to verbs. Son C is coming along with his reading! It's so cute to observe that he really thinks of himself as a reader now. He reads cereal boxes, road signs when we are out driving, virtually anything he sees he tries to read. He is at that stage where he sounds out the first couple letters of a word and then guesses at the rest, but he's learning to be patient and carefully read the whole thing.

Little Man is learning, learning, learning from all his siblings. He is like a sponge! At meal times we are working on poetry memorization, and it is pretty amazing to me (and extremely cute) when Little Man will just spontaneously start reciting poetry that he's heard his older siblings practice umpteen times at the table! He'll even start by saying the title and author. I'll try to video it sometime and put it on here to share with the grandparents. :-)

In other news, the driver's seat of our minivan broke last week. It was going to cost about $1000 to have it fixed, so instead we went to a junkyard and bought a seat from the same make and model vehicle as our minivan. It's not quite the same color, but pretty close. The shop swapped out the seats for us for $100, so that was a blessing! Three of our boys went with daddy to the junkyard to get the seat, and they LOVED the junkyard! They have been asking every day since then, "when are we going back to the junkyard?"

It snowed for the first time this week and I was caught unprepared in the boot department. We tried on all the boots from last year and found that we need to buy 4 new pair. We also need 2 new pair of snow pants. Thankfully we had already done the coat, gloves, and scarf try on and purchased what we needed, so we are all set there. Just one of the joys of living in a 4 season state!

Already this week we have begun learning about Victorian England. Did you know that Queen Victoria was crowned just one year after the tragedy at the Alamo? It's so interesting to put historical events and people from different places together in the same time period of history!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Serious Talk

Last night I told our daughter about homosexuality. It had come up about a month ago, when the children asked to eat at McDonald's and I said I was trying not to eat there right now. Our daughter asked why? And I said "I'll tell you later." (they give company benefits to same sex partners). She asked me a couple more times, but always in the presence of her brothers. So last night on her way to bed, she asked again. It was not convenient, but relationship building seldom is. So we sat down on the couch with my Bible and had a conversation that I wish with all my heart we did not need to have. My husband, bless his sweet heart, heard what was happening and sat on the stairs, out of view, listening and praying the whole time.

It went very well for which I am thankful. I gave her what I thought was an appropriate segue and when we finally got to the part about what homosexuality actually *is*, her reaction was an incredulous, jaw-dropping stare and the words, "well that's just crazy!". It was clearly an unnatural thing to her. It is always so obvious to the innocent.

How grateful I am that God gives us as parents the opportunity to really know each of our children for several years before we need to have conversations like this. Our daughter G was made by God to be very black and white in her thinking (like her mama! I'm afraid she will have a few hard knocks ahead). Dealing with gray issues is difficult for her. She is all about justice and fairness. So as our talk was winding down I could tell that for the purpose of her own understanding, she had put people who struggle with this sin in the "bad" box in her mind, while she remained in the "good" box. We looked at appropriate Scripture and talked for awhile about how ALL of us are sinners, we ALL struggle with sin, but different people struggle with different types of sin. In fact, I told her that the total number of people who struggle with the sin of homosexuality is quite small, while the number of people who struggle with selfishness or pride is very large.

At one point during our conversation, G was sharing how some people chose not to have children, but she did want to marry someday and have children so that "my husband and I can pass on the Good News of Jesus to our children, because that's a main reason that God made families." That blessed my heart to hear!

Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity you gave last night for G and I to have this conversation. I wish that the world were not ruled by sin, but one day it won't be. Until then, help us to shield our children from evil until they are mature enough to handle the knowledge of it. Give us wisdom as we teach and instruct our children about You, Your Truth, and Your perfect ways. Help us to model a Christ-centered marriage for them, so that they have a healthy view of the marriage relationship, of sex, and of your best plan for families. Please keep your hand upon our children's future spouses, wherever they may be right now. Help them to know and love You, and be instructed in Your Truth. Thank you for loving our children even more than we do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

Each year we are privileged to participate in Samaritan's Purse "Operation Christmas Child" Project - where you pack a shoebox full of gifts to a boy or girl who would not otherwise get anything for Christmas or even own anything that is truly "theirs". This year we were doubly blessed to also pack more boxes with items that our MOPS moms had donated. This was a little more challenging than simply shopping for an entire box at once, but it was also more fun!

We started by laying out all the boxes on the couch and sorting through what was already donated and what we still needed to purchase. Every box have a writing tablet and markers or pencils or pens? Check. Every box have socks? Check. Every box have a toothbrush and soap and washcloth? Check. Every box have a brush and/or a comb? Check. Every box have underwear? Check. Then we began distributing the toys according to gender. Our children had so much fun with this! (And a special thank you to those of you who purchased more items to fill these boxes!!)

Son L, caught while putting the soap into little plastic baggies!

C deciding which ball would go in which box.

Once the boxes were packed, we sprinkled hard candy in all the cracks and crevices. As we packed we took turns praying for each of the children who would be receiving these boxes.

We printed off boy/girl labels from the Samaritan's Purse website, and G cut them out and taped them to the tops of the boxes. (Click on the words Samaritan's Purse to go to their website).

Voila! 9 boxes, ready to go who knows where! For a truly inspiring look at one family's Operation Christmas Child project, visit this blog. (In case you can't see the underlined hyperlink, click on the words "this blog").

To help reign in the greed monster, I held up a box after they were packed and asked the children if they could be happy if this was ALL they got for Christmas. No lego sets, no digital camera, no webkinz (all things that are desired by little people in this house). Suddenly, the room got very quiet. I was tempted to "preach" a little more, but my purpose was not to make them feel guilty, but to give the Holy Spirit an opportunity to convict them of greed if they were struggling with it. So I refrained from a long mom speech. How I pray our children will develop hearts of compassion and gratitude! And how we pray that these boxes will be a tangible demonstration of God's love to 9 special little children.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Birds, Birds, and More Birds!

The above picture is rather fuzzy because I was taking it through a screened window, but it shows C's homemade bird feeder with a bird actually sitting on the stick eating! And on the ground under the feeder are several small brown birds eating seed that has fallen on the ground. We were so excited!! This is the first time we have seen a bird actually ON the feeder. This feeder is made from a large juice jug with a bamboo stick stuck through near the bottom and 1/2 inch holes cut on each side about 2 inches above the stick. These size holes are for large seed (sunflower seeds and other large seeds) and attract different birds than small seed does. We now have 3 different types of feeders in our yard: suet, small seed, and large seed. And so far this week we have seen the following birds in our yard: cardinal, blue jay, downy woodpecker, mourning dove, the as yet unidentified brown bird, and even a CRANE!

Today we hung G and L's bird houses on the side of our shed. These are the bird houses they made at their Stockade campout last month. We are very much hoping that some birds will make their nests in them before winter really strikes. I had to cut down a bunch of shrubbery that had grown nearly to the top of the shed before hanging the bird houses, and you can still see a bit of it in the front of the picture. It needed to be done anyway.......:-)

We are just having so much fun learning about birds and observing so many different types of birds in our yard even during cold weather!

Fall Chores

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Week in Review

For this edition of Our Week in Review, I asked each member of the family to share one thing they learned during the week last week, and here is what they said:

Little Man: "I learned about leaves. They change color and fall down in the FALL!"

6 year old C: "I learned that birds can migrate for hundreds of miles."

8 year old L: "I learned how to play continents and islands" (gym class game at co-op).

9 year old G: "I learned that even if birds get blown off course by the wind, they have a homing instinct that helps them get back on course and they can find their way back to their same nest year after year."

11 year old G: "I learned that Madame Curie worked with radioactive material."

Me: "I learned the exact definition of 'filibuster' when researching how the new democratic controlled Senate is not filibuster-proof."

My hubby: "I learned that it takes 8 hours to get a couch."

Daughter G during card making class at co-op, and son C learning about a children's author from Great Britain.

Little Man at co-op preschool (in green sweatshirt), pretending to be a seed.

We found this preying mantis in our yard last week! It was huge! Very, very cool. We thought about freezing it for our insect unit next spring, but decided we needed to let this one live on. To give you an idea how big it was, here it is next to G's foot:

We spent most of Saturday getting a "new" (used) couch from some friends who were getting rid of theirs. It's a nice couch and both ends recline which our children think is AWESOME. We are leaving both couches in our family room until after Christmas, so we have enough seating. Actually, for the first time in over 6 years, we finally have enough seating for each member of our own family without using the floor or laps! I think it makes the family room look a little crowded, but still, we are very very grateful. Thanks Jenny and Orj!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tae Kwon Do Testing!


Here are a couple videos of our children during their yellow stripe testing at Tae Kwon Do last Saturday. There were 4 parts to the testing, and these videos show the "forms" portion of the test. It is a series of steps they have to memorize that makes a pattern on the floor. There is a new form to learn (at least one of them, often more than one) for each belt color.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on the Election

One of my overriding thoughts today is, "I'm so glad it's over!". No more negative campaigning, no more phone calls cluttering our voicemail, no more fliers on our door. Another overriding feeling today is one of extreme disappointment. I am not happy with the outcome. If the election had been about race alone I would be rather happy that an African American had won. I mean, how cool is that???? It is such a significant achievement and I sincerely hope it signals a healing to the black/white tensions plaguing our country for generations. But the election was NOT about race and, almost ironically, I thought of a black man's eloquent words spoken 50 years ago: that men be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Many of us did that. We judged Obama based on the content of his character and found it lacking. I hope he will do some positive things for our country. I am praying for him to do so. But all other issues pale in comparison to the slaughter of millions of innocent children that is coming during the next 4 years. The "working together" rhetoric that both candidates spoke of last night is all well and good, but when you have a president who is actively working to expand abortion and you have others actively working to limit it, I don't see how you can really work together.

Another feeling I have today is one of gratitude for the republic we live in and our constitution that was so carefully crafted by our founding fathers. Last night we experienced the beginning of a radical shift in our government, and it was accomplished peacefully. In January there will be a transfer of power from our current administration to an opposing one, and it will be accomplished peacefully. No violence. No weapons. No military takeover, or coup. No dictator. No fear for our safety or mad scramble to evacuate the country. Wow! How thankful I am for the form of government our founding fathers saw fit to implement. Though I am not happy about the next administration, our system of government is pretty hard to beat.

And the last thought I want to share is that in God's economy, nothing has changed. He is still on the throne. He is still in control. He is still faithful, merciful, gracious, loving, slow to anger, just. He is the SAME. Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall, leaders come and leaders go, economies swing back and forth between being strong and being weak. Through it all, God is the one constant, unchanging truth. How thankful I am for Him! I told the children during our devotions this morning that our hope is not in a man or even in an office. Our hope is IN THE LORD. Then we sang this hymn, and I think it's a fitting way to end this post:

Our hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' Name.
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand!
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trick or Treating - 2008

We did a Wizard of Oz theme for halloween this year. It was very fun!! Our son C was supposed to go as the tornado, but a couple days before he decided that he didn't really like the movie, and in fact was rather terrified of the movie, and was NOT going to be the tornado, no way no how. So we had the scarecrow, the tin man, Dorothy, the lion......and batman! Since it was still light when we set out, we received many positive comments from other parents out with their children. And for those of you wondering, the tin man costume was the most work. :-)

Our Week in Review

This past week we all learned a bit about the presidency of John Quincy Adams. He had a rather frustrating single term with an uncooperative Congress, but as a man he was extremely honest and fair. We also learned about the building of the Erie Canal, which was an amazing engineering feat of its time due to the many locks that were required for barges to navigate the 565 foot difference in height between the western and eastern ends of the canal. Once it was completed, supplies that used to take a month or more to make it to Buffalo now took only a week! We also learned about the deaths of former Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on the same day in 1826. As it happened, they both died on the 50th birthday of our country, July 4th. Even as the country celebrated that day, they mourned the loss of these two great patriots who had served their country so well. Here are some of the books the boys used in their studies this week:

Our daughter learned all of the above, and in addition she began reading about the early history of the great state of Texas! Here are some of the books she used:

In Science we continued learning about birds - how they fly, glide, and soar (and the difference between those terms), and a little bit about migration.

I made more of an effort to spend time with the younger two boys this week - something I am freshly commited to. It is always a precious time with them!

Here is Little Man surrounded by his paint with water artwork! He outgrew his Little Tikes table with this project, so we just spread a sheet on the floor and let him go to town. I think he painted over 20 pictures that day!

Robert McCloskey is one of our favorite children's authors. Here we are enjoying his book "Lentil".

Our sons G and L had to make some kind of castle for their Medieval World class at co-op. G chose to build a lego castle, while L chose to build a castle out of sugar cubes. That was HARD!

Here is the finished product! See the "keep" on the right side of the walled enclosure? The small protrusion on the left side is a well.

How I thank the Lord for the privilege of teaching and learning with my children at home!