Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday Evening

We spent the evening at one of our favorite playplaces!

The hooting and hollering our children made at this self-propelled merry go round attracted other children. First just a couple came....

....then more joined in!

It was a fun, fun evening. I am such a do-er by nature, and there is always a long list of things to be done, that I have to force myself to just "be" and have fun. Last night was like that. Very relaxing. I love my family!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Exercise Accountability Update

I worked out 4 times last week!! Yes, count 'em. FOUR. Whoo-hoo!!! I only walked twice though. The other two times were heavy duty gardening sessions ~ the kind where you turn over a shovel full of dirt, whack it numerous times to break it up, sprinkle on some sand and peat moss from heavy bags in order to amend the soil, and then stir it all up (ie, turn over numerous more times) before crouching to plant seeds. I did this for 3 hours each, two days in a row, and I'm still discovering muscles in my arms that I didn't know I had. So I'm counting it as strength training.

I do hope to actually walk 5 times this week. I haven't made it to 5 times yet, but I'm determined to keep trying!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Fun

Enjoying homemade popsicles.

How many big kids can you fit into a kiddie pool?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy 7th Birthday!!!!!!

Last Saturday was our son C's 7th birthday. We had a family fun day to celebrate! We started out at a local sprayscape where everyone had much fun.

Here's the birthday boy (on the left) with his brother L.

Then we went putt putt golfing! Someone had given us a gift certificate to this place a few weeks ago, and we thought C's birthday would be the perfect day to go. We were right! It was really fun! Little Man pretty much just chased the ball across the green at each hole. :-)

The whole family (except for me, since I was behind the camera) is in this picture!

Then we came home to open presents. Bibleman Board Game from his Washington grandparents! (this is being played as I type)

And what could this be???

His very own first "real" Bible! He had wanted one for a while, and it was so fun to see his excitement. It is a VeggieTales Bible, which means that interspersed throughout the Scriptures there are short veggie tale comic pages to read. I was personally not thrilled about that, but my husband gave it a thumbs up and it has turned out to be the perfect choice for C. He quite proudly carried it to church on Sunday.

Opening...... skates!! And new clothes from his other grandparents! (my mother in law can always come through with fun clothes ~ thanks mom!)

C wanted a triangle cake with red frosting and gummy worms/gummy insects on top. So that is what he got!

Happy Birthday to our tender hearted, sweet spirited, fun loving 7 year old!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day to the Wonderful Father of my Children!

To my dear husband:

How thankful I am that you are my husband and the father of our children! You are a wonderful dad. It blesses me beyond measure to see you with our children. You have always been a great father to them, but I am especially thankful for how sensitive you have been to their needs and fears during this period of unemployment. With your own set of things to worry about, you have been able to set that aside in order to listen to and respond to them in ways that have, I believe, helped to grow their faith and helped them to be able to trust God in their childlike ways during this time. I love you with all my heart, and I will always love you no matter what.

The children shared at dinner what they appreciate about their dad, and here is what they said:

Daughter G: I appreciate that you work hard for us, protect us, and would do anything for us.

Son G: I like that you wrestle with us and that you're funny. And I like doing building projects together with you.

Son L: I like that you wrestle with us and that you're funny, and that sometimes you are serious.

Son C: I also like the wrestling and I like that you make me laugh and that you teach us things.

Little Man: I like that you wrestle with us (once the first boy said this, it was a recurring theme!!) and that you are funny.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Another Bend in the Road

Our family loves road trips. We love being together in the van, having funny and sometimes revealing conversations, listening to music and Adventures in Odyssey CD's for hours on end. There are so many interesting things to see from the car window, especially if we take back roads. When we are planning a big road trip we always try to map out our traveling days so we know how far we have to go each day and where we are going to sleep each night before moving on. Despite this planning we have been surprised many times by detours caused by construction, or a backup which delayed us. Though the experience of these detours and delays hasn't always been enjoyable, they certainly make the road trip more interesting! And never once have we failed to arrive at our destination.

So it is with our unemployment journey. The experience of being unemployed or underemployed has not always been very pleasant, but the journey itself has been rich in many ways. And I'm so glad God sees our destination and is guiding us there, aren't you?

We learned of another bend in the road earlier this week when my husband was told he was being laid off from his part time temp job due to a cash flow crunch. Friday was his last day. The company hopes to hire him back after the 4th of July but that remains to be seen, and since the job was not paying all our bills anyway we are thankful for this opportunity hubby will have to spend more time looking for a full time job. God saw this coming and was not at all surprised by it. In fact, He allowed it. He is not done sifting us, or refining us, or driving us to our destination (whatever metaphor you want to use). He is God, who loves us and knows exactly what we need in order to be made more Christ-like. And I am not God, and I don't know what we need (even though often I think I do!).

From an earthly perspective this is a really bad thing. But from a heavenly perspective this is not even a blip. And by God's grace I am completely at peace. It has taken months for God to chip through my defenses, my fears and priorities, and my need for control, but I am completely at peace with God being in charge of this journey. Finally, I can acknowledge that He is the One driving (and really mean it) and I can sit back and enjoy the scenery and the detours that He navigates us through. For those of you who have been praying for me since writing this post, thank you! God is answering those prayers abundantly.

My husband has already updated and re-posted his resume on, and has had several responses. He has an interview next Tuesday for a local job, and he has applied for one out of state at a company that looks like it would be a good fit for him. Our first choice is still to stay here, but we are willing to go wherever God takes us. We are not the drivers, remember?!

Please continue to pray with us for a full time job that can fully support our family, for God to lead and direct us clearly, and for continued peace as we trust Him with the details of this road trip. Thank you friends!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Year End Homeschool Celebration

Tapestry of Grace strongly encourages the holding of a "unit celebration" at the end of each 9 week unit of study throughout the year. This is a great idea for a number of reasons such as, a unit celebration is like a period (or exclamation point!) that marks a certain period of study as being DONE. In this way it is a powerful mental tool. It also helps remind the children of all the things they learned, made or did while studying that time period, and it tends to be the thing children will remember later when asked the inevitable question, "what did you learn in school this year?".

Well, I was not good this year about holding unit celebrations, so instead we decided to have a big celebration at the end of the year for all 4 units we covered. We invited 3 other homeschool families to join us (none of whom use Tapestry), as well as my husband's parents, and each of the children were encouraged to present something to the audience. It was a great evening of fun, encouragement, and inspiraton!

We displayed the Impressionist Art projects we made the last day of school.

And some of the books we used during the year.

Each of our 4 older children worked on state notebooks this year, adding information and coloring the state bird and flower for each state in the order they were added to the Union. Here is the stack of 4 state notebooks, with a few flapbooks in the front (one on Napoleon Bonaparte and the other on Andrew Carnegie).

And here is the first North Carolina page in our son G's state notebook. I got these state pages from Notebooking Pages, and they worked beautifully this year!

We also displayed many of the hands on projects we worked on throughout the year, which I have highlighted on my blog before. Here are the moccasins and nature journals we made when we studied Lewis and Clark.

And the covered wagons we made when we learned about westward expansion.

Here is our replica of the Monitor, made from a soy milk container! Its turret has 2 guns (see the black dots?) and rotates! (smaller can is inside the big one, and the big one turns around the smaller one)

Here are the shields we made when we learned about the European colonization of Africa.

And here are most of the children, ready to begin! There were a couple of younger ones you can't see that were playing in their own special area in the very back. And the dads and the grandparents were not yet seated.

My friend Sally helped her 2 year old sing the alphabet song. He did a great job and it was the cutest thing ever!!!

Her 5 year old sang us the story of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?" by Eric Carle while holding up each animal he had colored.

Her 9 year old daughter read a story she'd written using Institute for Excellence in Writing.

And her 12 year old also read a story he'd written using IEW. They both did a super job!

My friend Angela's 9 year old daughter read us a page from her "All About Me" book.

While her 5 year old daughter showed us the alphabet book she made during her preschool year.

Each of our children chose to dress up in some costume representing figures from the 1800's. Our Little Man dressed up as an Indian. He recited a poem from the poetry book we have memorized from all year, Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization. I didn't upload a video of it, but here are the words to his poem:

Ooey Gooey was a worm, a mighty worm was he
He stepped upon the railroad track, the train he did not see!
Ooey, Gooey! (said while rubbing hands together)

Our son C also dressed up as an American Indian. He recited the poem, "The Vulture" by Hilaire Belloc.

Our son L, trying to look like a manly cowboy here and therefore not smiling, recited "Swan and Goose" by William Ellery Leonard.

Son G, dressed as a Union soldier from the Civil War, recited "Jonathon Bing" by Beatrice Curtis Brown. He also read a report he'd written on Stonewall Jackson. You can barely see a bit of gray sticking out from behind his left shoulder. This was his bedroll, strapped to his back! And you can see the tip of his gun leaning up against the table next to him.

Our daughter G chose to wear a hawaiian costume. We learned about the attempt to annex Hawaii as a U.S. territory in 1893, but President Grover Cleveland felt that since Hawaii still had a queen (Queen Liliuokalani, the last queen of Hawaii) it was a sovereign nation and should not be annexed. It eventually was annexed 5 years later, but as you know, did not become a state until many years later. G recited "Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably" by Hilaire Belloc. A fun poem! And she also read a report she'd written on Ulysses S. Grant.

Finally, we had the pleasure of hearing Teddy Roosevelt (aka my husband) recite "Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Lord Tennyson. If you are not familiar with that poem, it was written about a specific and tragic charge that British troops made to capture French guns during the Crimean War.

When presentations were finished, we enjoyed desserts and some 1800's period food. We had pineapple to represent Hawaii, corn to represent the Indians and the fields that escaped slaves would hide in as they fled from their slave masters.

Hard tack to represent what people ate on the way west, and also what soldiers ate during the Civil War, and tomatoes which were introduced to our country from France by Thomas Jefferson. Not pictured, ham lunch meat to represent Virginia Ham!

It was a very fun evening, and everyone enjoyed seeing and hearing what the others had learned. I encourage other homeschoolers to consider doing unit celebrations or a year end celebration ~ it can be done beautifully and elaborately such as my friend Laurie does, or simply and cheaply such as we did, but either way it is a great way to look back and thank God for all that you accomplished during the year!