Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day of the New Job!!

Today was my husband's first day at his new job. It went well. Lots of sitting around waiting for his security codes, the right software for his work computer, etc. Like first days often are in his line of work. But he got PAID to sit around and wait!! Thank you, Lord. He thinks he is going to like the work and the people. The environment is rather "union" in practice. Starting at 7:15 each morning, taking breaks at specified times, ending at 4:00 each day. Period. No flexibility with the hours.

Are you laughing yet?

If you know us, you know we are pretty big night owls. In order to be there at 7:15 this morning, my husband had to leave the house at 6:15. Which meant getting up at 5:30. Which meant going to bed at 10:30 last night. A complete paradigm shift for us! In an effort to support him, I intend to keep the same schedule. Once we make the adjustment, I think I am going to LOVE this imposed schedule! God has a sense of humor, and He also knows what is BEST for us. And He chose THIS job for my husband. Hmmm........ :-)

I got tons of stuff done in a quiet house this morning. Thank you Lord.

My husband made it to soccer practice where he is an assistant coach, no problem. Thank you Lord.

And he was home for dinner on time and we sat down together as a family. Thank you Lord.

THANK-YOU for his job!!

(now don't call me or expect an email response after 10:00 P.M.) ;-)

First Day of School - 2009

Truth be told, our first day of school wasn't all that great. In a perfect world we wouldn't have started when we did. My time was still quite divided with a couple of big projects I wasn't finished with and my head wasn't totally in gear with school, but we had to start when my husband was available for our first-day-of-school tradition - going out to eat for breakfast! Since we had last eaten at Denny's they changed their menu and the one thing two of our boys had their heart set on was no longer offered. Shortly before this picture was taken, they were both in tears! One of them said, "I thought this was supposed to be fun."


Aren't so many moments like that? Less than perfect. Yet they are moments in time, capturing memories, together as a family. So, start we did. The bad morning was largely redeemed by our afternoon activity ~ once again making cookie dough maps of the United States! (Detailed directions for how we make, bake and decorate cookie dough maps is here. ) Our history curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, always suggests a salt dough or cookie dough map at the beginning of the year to review geographical terms, and it has become something our family looks forward to each year!

About to pour on yellow sprinkles for the desert regions (a new and improved feature since last year!).

A little too much 'great lakes' on the mouth.....

These ones smooshed out alot more than last year's versions, but they tasted just as good! And after two years in a row we REALLY know where the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri Rivers are!

(well, everyone but Little Man, whose Mississippi River looks like a straight dash from Canada to the Gulf!)

Lastly we read a few pages of our science book for this year, "Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day" and then made our ocean boxes. We will add clay ocean creatures to these boxes all year long.

See the little sea sponge in each ocean box below?

And so our first day came to an end. We took Tuesday off so I could finish up some other projects, had school Wednesday, took Thursday off to go to a writing class with Andrew Pudewa of IEW, and had school Friday. And this is a whole new week with my head more in the game! Despite our shaky start, I am so thankful for the privilege of learning with my children at home. I'm thankful I can be busy educating my children and not having to be busy working elsewhere. I'm thankful to still have a home! God is indeed very good.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

See our new schoolroom!

We have had an extremely busy week and I have had no time to blog. It's weird to go a whole week without posting! I have been working hard on a couple of MOPS projects, and we tried to rescue an injured bunny we found in our yard ~ it died after 3 days :-( because of course we found it on Friday afternoon and it didn't live long enough for us to take it to a bunny rehaber on Monday. But by far the biggest task of the last week was moving our primary school location from our kitchen down to the basement.

In reality, we school all over the house. But we have done most of our work for the last 8 years in the kitchen. I love schooling in the kitchen because it is the hub of our home. But we ran out of room to store all our school STUFF. We ended up with piles of books, papers, and projects all over the counters and floor. And that did not make mama happy.

We have been living in limbo for most of this last school year, not knowing where we'd be in September. Now that my husband has a job (yay!!) here we could finally make plans and an investment of time and energy into making our homeschool function more efficiently. And that meant moving to the basement. This is phase 1 of a long term plan. Next summer we hope to knock out a basement wall and increase the size of our schoolroom, but for now even though it is less than spacious, it is pure joy to have a place for everything and everything in its place! I confess that after getting the room organized I have spent a fair amount of time sitting on the couch soaking up the aura! Weird, I know. But I'm okay with that. :-)

All the children were quite excited about the "new" room. Little Man helped daddy screw in some shelves (2 narrow shelves and 4 supports = $14 total at IKEA). And see the bottom of the clock in the upper right corner? $1.99. That's my kind of clock!

This is the view from the foot of the basement stairs. Yes, that couch has a hide-a-bed. No, it is never going back upstairs as long as we live in this house! (according to my husband)

Our toy room used to occupy the entire finished side of the basement, and now it gets just a small space behind the couch (just enough room to sit on the floor and build with legos). So that's a downside.

Just past the far arm of the couch is this little corner. We use the tv for watching math and writing dvd's.

These are our non-Tapestry books, arranged by reading level. See the color coded dots on the edge of the top two shelves? The upper shelf contains books for my accomplished readers, the second shelf contains books for our emerging reader, and the third shelf down contains books for me to read outloud to all the children.

At the bottom of the bookcase is room for two of the children's "cubbies". We use the workbox system for our daily schoolwork, but they each need a place to put the little extras or things they just really want to keep. These fabric drawers were something we already had, in each child's assigned color, so we just moved them down to the schoolroom.

The other 3 children have their cubbies in this larger bookcase (red, light green, dark blue). This is an Expedit bookcase, also from IKEA, which we already had downstairs.

Here is the whole bookcase. This holds all of our Tapestry of Grace books. The top shelf is year 4 (the 1900's) which we are doing this year. Next shelf down is year 3, and so on.

This is an insert with 2 drawers that fits into one of the sections of the Expedit bookcase. Perfect for our paper and colored pencils/crayons!

Little Man's math activity today was counting and placing "seeds" (kidney beans) onto watermelon cards.

Here is the back wall of our schoolroom. This is the wall we hope to knock out next summer. We have about 9 feet behind it that is storage right now, plus about 3 feet of width under the stairs. The bookcase under the whiteboard is our old "school cubbie unit" that lived for years under our kitchen window. Each of the children had a cubbie for their work. Now it holds most of MY stuff ~ the books on top are either books we use frequently or reference books.

And here is the short little wall separating the room from the stairs. These are the shelves that Little Man helped with. The small red mailbox on the bottom shelf is still being used to deliver messages to the family. It has new life since getting a place of prominence that is easily reached by everyone! Underneath the shelves you can see one child's workboxes.

And here we are working so happily on math this morning! ;-)

It is not my "dream" schoolroom, but it is working very well for us and I am so very thankful to have it!! And my kitchen is now.... just a kitchen!

More on our first day of school later......

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's always the little things, isn't it?

Or more accurately, it's quite often the little things. My little things this week were preceeded by a big thing. During our time in WA we were given a large sum of money by a dear and well loved relative (she was dear and well loved before she gave us the money!). This enabled us to pay off 2 months of our back mortgage payments, pay another large bill that was overdue, and have a little left over. When we got the news of my husband's job offer, after we whooped and hollered and did several happy dances, I went out and bought some flowers to celebrate.

Now you may think that buying flowers is rather a strange way to celebrate a new job. Not buying flowers was one of my personal hardships this spring and summer. I love flowers and I love flowering up my front porch and using it as my own personal retreat. I typically spend quite a bit of time during the summer on my porch. This year I just could not buy any flowers. I did buy seeds for the vegetable garden, but that was it. We needed to eat more than I needed my personal retreat on the porch, but my soul really missed it. So it was with great joy that I headed off to the flower store where I bought two large pots of mixed flowers at halfprice (because it is, after all, nearing the end of summer and fall mums will be out soon!) and set them on my porch.

This one is just a transplanted "lamb's ear" from another place in my yard......

...but this one, oh! Does it not make you happy just looking at it?!

And happy little people enjoying the porch is even better!

The other small thing I did was go to Sam's Club and buy, which is something I have not done for 9 months. That also made me very happy. :-)

Thanks be to God for the big and small things!

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Husband Got a Job Today!!!!

After almost 9 very long and trying months, my husband was offered a job today!

We are beyond thrilled and humbled, and just very, very excited.

We also have mixed emotions, because a "yes" to us also means that today several others are hearing "no". In many ways this trial changed us. We have learned to depend on the Lord in new ways, we have been stripped of so many of our dependencies and facades. We have been broken in order to be remade. And I want to be remade into something new and different. I don't want to go back to the old me. Will having a job cause me to depend less on the Lord and more on my husband's paycheck? That tendency will be so hard to resist. Lord, help me.

But under and over and around it all, we are profoundly grateful to our loving God. Rejoice with us!

Father God, thank you for this amazing display of your provision today. We are so very grateful to You for all You have done for us! Please help us to keep our eyes fixed on you, even during the good times of employment, when it *appears* that we don't need You as much. Lord, we know that is a lie. We utterly and completely depend on You for everything. Keep us close to You and help us to walk in step with Your Spirit. We are so humbled that out of all the jobs my husband could have gotten these last 9 months, You chose THIS one for him. Make him a blessing to those around him in his place of work. Use this job in his life, to continue molding him into the man You want him to be. Thank you for your direction and your love and the grace You give to live each day. We love you, Amen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The last of our vacation pictures

Well, we are already going full steam ahead with our regular life here, but before time got away from me I wanted to post the rest of our vacation pics. Warning, there are alot!! When I look at the pictures I miss my extended family so much, but I also realize how much fun we had. It was a true vacation ~ fun outings and also lots of lazy hanging out time. I hardly thought of school, MOPS, or bills the entire time we were there!

Before we left, our daughter G was shopping for an mp3 player to use on the airplane. She had saved her money for 2 years and decided this was what she wanted to spend most of it on. The exact one we wanted was not available at our Walmart, but we called out to Bellingham and found it there! So as soon as we arrived, she and I headed to Walmart so she could make this important purchase. It was really cute and an exciting milestone for her.

Fun at the lake.

My mom (on the right) with one of her dearest friends. Aren't these women beautiful?

Two other beautiful women ~ my 19 year old nieces.

Little Man, slipping and sliding!

All the cousins on my side of the family. Our 5, my sister Gayle's 4, and my sister Debbie's 2.

My honey and his 2 brothers in law.

My sister Debbie is a very accomplished pianist. This scene, in my parent's living room, is a very familiar one to us. From the time she could first play, Debbie could often be found at the piano. We had a wonderful time of family worship around this piano one night.

Sandwich hug! Little Man saying goodbye to his Aunt Debbie and his cousin Liz. :-(

My niece Liz with her two aunties.

Hanging out at my sister Gayle's house....son G with his cousin Tim. They bonded like twins. :-)

Hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's. This is the house I grew up in. I LOVE this house.

When I was in college (living at home, commuting to a local university) my parents added a deck to the back of the house with a gazebo and lovely flowerbeds around it. I just love the gazebo! Gazing at the world from the flower filled gazebo always fills me with peace. It's just a little slice of heaven. Plus it's really cute. :-)

One evening we went to an all-comer's track meet. It was just what it sounds like, anyone could come and run. They ran the 50 meter dash, 100, 200, 800 and the mile for children 3 and under on up to senior citizens. Our children had never officially raced before, so this was a new experience. It was really fun! I unfortunately did not get a picture of Little Man running (and winning!) his first race, but here he is with his grandpa, going off to watch one.

Here is son C, running for all he's worth! (he's last, in the red shorts)

The three boys in the very middle of this pack are our sons G and L, and their cousin Tim. It was fun to see them all race against each other! (they came in half a stride behind each other, just boom, boom, boom)

Our daughter G, taking off (in the pink shorts).

Coming back from the races on Uncle Greg's shoulders.

Watching the sun set over Bellingham Bay. Going.....



This is my best friend from childhood, with her grown daughter. We had a mother/daughter lunch one day. So fun to catch up! She is also the sister of my brother in law Greg, so we're almost kindof related. ;-)

Another evening we had a girls night out (dinner and pottery painting)

while the guys had a boys night in (watching "Wipe Out" on tv and then eating watermelon while Uncle Greg read an exciting book outloud).

With one of my "golden" friends, Carmen. We have been close friends for 28 years!! (aack! am I that old????)

Cousins eating at the park.

Little Man with his cousin Elijah.

And our daughter G with her Grandpa Dean.

Another highlight for me was getting to visit with this dear couple. He was my pastor when I was an infant, in fact, he is the one who dedicated me to the Lord when I was less than 6 months old. He later became my pastor again when he moved to Bellingham for my middle school and part of my high school years. And years later when I married and had my own daughter, we flew to WA and had a private baby dedication ceremony in my parents home, where he dedicated our little baby G to the Lord. He is a dear man and very special to me. Visiting with he and his wife was just wonderful, and they were thrilled to meet all of our children (though son C's head is cut off, way down low. He was there!).

These pictures can't really convey what a wonderful time we had, but I hope they give a taste of the joys and blessings of this vacation. We are so thankful to the Lord for allowing us this special oasis during our desert journey of unemployment! He is so good!