Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rejoice With Us!!

Today we received our first "real" paycheck in 10 months!!!!!

Thank you Lord!

Movie Night - Pollyanna

For our movie night last Friday we watched the 1960 version of Pollyanna, starring Hayley Mills. The book Pollyanna was a suggested read aloud recently in our Tapestry of Grace year 4 studies, but we have other books being read aloud right now and just didn't have time to read it. So we watched the movie instead. It had been years since I'd seen this and I forgot how good it is! Absolutely nothing objectionable, and Hayley Mills nails Pollyanna's attitude of always looking on the bright side of any circumstance. Jane Wyman does a great job portraying someone who manipulates and controls nicely. Afterward I used Pollyanna's character to demonstrate another example of an archetype. Our daughter G learned that word last spring while reading Hound of the Baskervilles ~ how Sherlock Holmes became the archetype for all future detectives. So we had a good little literary discussion thrown in there too.

Our 7 and 4 year olds were slightly scared during a scene when Pollyanna and an orphan boy she befriends creep onto the property of a crochity old man who has a reputation for making children disappear into his cellar, never to be seen again. This was largely due to the music creating a suspenseful mood. It lasted only briefly, as Hayley disarms the man with her dazzling smile and sincere fascination with items in his house. And later, this man............well, I don't want to give it away. He does a great thing. :-)

This movie was a winner with everyone, even the boys who at first thought they wouldn't enjoy an entire movie with a girl as the main character.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Update on our House

After several phone calls, a complete listing of our income and expenses, and talking to various people who work for our lender, it appears that we have only one option for keeping our home and that is to add about $45 to our monthly mortgage payment for the life of the loan.

While we are thankful to have any option other than foreclosure, we are less than thrilled with this plan. By the end of our loan we will have paid several thousand more dollars to our lender than we would have originally, and since we are still waiting to receive my husband's first paycheck from his new job, we don't know how our monthly cash flow is going to shake out and if we can even afford to tack on $45 more dollars every month. It sounds doable, but we just don't know. Until we have a realistic picture of our new income we are not sure how tight we are going to have to be.

Our request for forbearance, which we made the first week of June, was apparently a dead end. We learned last week that they don't even consider forbearance until a borrower is at least 4 months behind in payments (what????) and that the way they do forbearance is to require payment of the missed months at the end of the forbearance period rather than tacking them on to the end of the loan. For instance, if we had a forbearance for the 6 months between June and December, we would have to pay all 6 months worth of mortgage payments in December. Does that make sense to you?? If someone is having a hard time paying, how on earth are they going to come up with such a large amount of cash?

Our lender is very happy that we qualify for this "assistance" and quite pleased with themselves that they are "willing to work with us." I told my husband that this is not my idea of assistance, nor my definition of what it means to work with someone on a difficult problem. "Working with" implies to me a give and take, back and forth, discussing what each party is willing to sacrifice. Of course, big corporations don't work that way. They are probably thrilled that instead of losing money through foreclosure of our home, they are going to end up making MORE off us! (sorry, my cynic is showing)

So. We ARE thankful that foreclosure can be avoided. But it's a struggle right now to have the right attitude toward our lender. And after coming through 9 months of unemployment, this month has actually been the hardest of all, financially! No paycheck til the end of the month, but no income from unemployment since my husband is working. God has been very gracious and has seen us through (He always does). First paycheck is only 2 days away! Who-hoo!!! But my frame of reference for hearing this news about our mortgage was not the best.

Lord God, you are holy and worthy and unchanging and completely unaffected by the economy. Thank you for being who You are. Please forgive me for my bad attitudes, my lack of trust, and my weakness to worry. Thank you so much for helping us this month, meeting each of our needs. Thank you that we can stay in our home. Please help us as we adjust to a steady income again. Help us to be prudent and wise and careful and generous. Help us to afford this extra monthly expense. Help me to have the right attitude toward our lender, and help me to be the peaceful and spirit filled wife that my husband needs me to be. May You be glorified in this, Father. I love you, Amen.

C is for Cupcake and Caterpillar

I love our young 5's class at co-op! It is so fun for me to teach a kindergarten type class again. Kindergarten was the first level I ever taught in public school, but it was years ago. Since then I have enjoyed teaching kindergarten to my own children at home, but it is fun to do some things in a group. This week we learned about the "c-c-c" sound.

We drew the letter "c" in the air, on each other's backs, and in sand.

Then we practiced writing it with actual pencils!

We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and made our own caterpillars just like the one in the book. We used special Eric Carle-ish paper (made by Klutz). He would paint tissue paper to add various colors and textures to it, and then cut out or tear the shapes he wanted to use and arrange them into a collage type picture. (Unfortunately I do not see this paper on the Klutz website. I bought it at Barnes and Noble 8 years ago).

We made c-c-cupcakes.

And decorated them with the letter "c" on top. I didn't have all the ingredients for making my own frosting and couldn't afford to buy any, so we just used what decorations I had on hand and the kids loved it! I mean, have you ever got to put smarties on top of a cupcake?

It was a fun morning and I do so love these children! Our older children had another great IEW writing class. Each of our 3 older ones are really enjoying this class and each is "taking off" with writing at their own speed. I am very pleased with how well they are able to formulate their ideas of what to write, and how to include the proper "dress-ups". My friend Sally is doing a wonderful job with this class! Having class time on Friday to learn new concepts and get assignments helps provide structure to our writing time throughout the following week.

We are really nailing the writing this year, and having a fun time focusing on the younger ones also. Exactly what our purposes were for forming this co-op! I am so thankful!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lesson 74

We are using How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons right now with our 7 year old son C, who is in second grade. We started with lesson 1 a year ago and have been leisurely working our way through the book. This book uses a rather ingenious method of including words in the story that the child would not be able to sound out phonetically. They put the letters the child can sound out in large type, and the "silent" letters that are there just for spelling purposes in small type. They also put lines over the vowels when they are to make their long sound. For example, the word "teach" would look like teach, with a line over the "e". So the child gets used to seeing the correct spelling of more advanced words, but is still able to read them by sounding out.

Today we got to lesson 74.

Lesson 74 is when they stop using different sized type and print the words of each story exactly as they would appear in a regular book. None of the helpful cues from lessons 1-73. It's the big league! Son C was very excited about this lesson and did a great job reading the story! He eagerly asked me to videotape it and put it on my blog so his Washington grandparents could hear him reading. :-)

So here is C, reading some of lesson 74 (I started videotaping about halfway in).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Little Man's Soccer Debut!!

So as I mentioned previously, Little Man is participating in peewee soccer this fall. This is a short clip from his first game. Peewee games are so fun to watch! The players just look so teeny tiny compared to the older kids, and their field is so much shorter. Our older children kept saying they looked like little wind up toys playing on a toy field. It's hard to tell in the video because I couldn't zoom in, but Little Man is almost always the one on the far right. About 45 seconds in, he's the one who eventually lays on the grass, and when you hear people laughing, they would be laughing at him. :-)

Here he is warming up with his teammates before the start of the game (which they won by the way!). He is in the lower right corner.

Not to be outdone by Little Man's cuteness, sons G and L had their first game also! It was L's first game ever, since he has not played before this fall. They both did a great job! Here is first L and then G:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

B is for Blueberry, and Our Week in Review

We had a very busy, interrupted, but still good week in school. We only had 3 1/2 full days of school due to my need to prepare for REAL moms, but we managed to cram a week's worth of work into those 3 1/2 days!

In science we began reading about whales. There are lots and lots of different kinds! Of course, all the different whales can be basically categorized into two types, toothed whales and baleen whales. The boys made whales out of modeling clay for their ocean boxes. Modeling clay is nice to work with because it never dries out and you don't have to bake it. You just shape it and voila! And if curious little fingers happen to touch your creations, they can easily be reshaped (not that that has ever happened here!) :-) Modeling clay is also very inexpensive and usually comes in a pack with a variety of colors. Here is son G's orca whale. He chose to show him "breaching".

This is L's blue whale, also breaching.

This is C's blue whale, "logging" (floating at the surface and swimming very slowly so that he looks somewhat like a log on the water). The blue "wave" looking thing near the whale's eye is a stream of water vapor he's blowing out of his blowhole.

This is Little Man's humpback whale (one of the baleen variety), made by daughter G. He is breaching, turning over and about to hit the water with his back. You can see blue waves splashing at the surface just above his tail.

In history this week we learned more about World War I, its major battles and some of the new weapons used during this war. It was only about 40 years removed from the Civil War, and yet totally different tactics were required due to new weapons technology. Airplanes and blimps were used for the first time during WWI, also submarines, machine guns, and poison gas. The boys were/are quite fascinated with it. They worked more in their lapbooks and really enjoyed our reading. We had a wonderful discussion with daddy at the dinner table one night about the causes of the war, and I was pleased (and slightly surprised) to hear how much G, age 10, understood about the alliances in Europe at that time.

For grammar this week we all played preposition bingo several times. The older 3 played with preposition game boards, and the younger two played with capital letter game boards. I would call out a preposition AND a letter of the alphabet, and everyone looked at their game boards to see if they had that one. If they did, they covered it with a chocolate chip. When we had a winner, everyone got to eat the chocolate chips off their game boards! As you can imagine, a very fun and popular game!

In co-op on Friday, my young 5's class learned all about the letter "B". We read Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey ~ one of my favorite children's books! Then we dropped blueberries into a tin pail to see if they made the sound in the book: kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk. They did!

We learned how to write the letter "B", and we colored things that began with that sound. Here Little Man is coloring his bear.

Then we made blueberry muffins. Yum!

They turned out very well, and were a delicious snack for us. Lastly, we read this big book of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? which was a holdover from my public school teaching days. We took the fasteners off and mixed up the pages and put them back in the right order. By the end, I think everyone knew the entire book by heart!

It was a good week, despite our busyness, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach my children at home! I LOVE our co-op! I love spending so much time with Little Man and C on Friday mornings, doing things especially geared for them. I love that our older children are learning systematically to write well. I'm just so glad God led us to do this co-op this year.

Friday, September 18, 2009

REAL moms

Two nights ago we had our first REAL moms (formerly MOPS) meeting of the year. It is a really huge part of my life but I realized that I have rarely blogged about it. I have been in MOPS off and on for 12 years, the last 5 of which have been in leadership. It has become my primary means of ministry outside my own home. I am really passionate about this ministry, enabling tired and weary mothers of young ones to connect with each other, to realize they are not alone, to realize that they still MATTER as a woman and not just a mom, and that they need the peace and love and joy that only Jesus can give. I have seen some amazing things happen during my years in MOPS. Hard things. Happy things. God things.

This summer, both our morning and evening MOPS programs made the decision to end our relationship with MOPS Int'l and run the same program, with a different name, under the sponsorship of our own church. The primary reason is that it saves our moms money, and everyone is feeling the financial pinch these days. MOPS Int'l is a fantastic organization and I have been forever impacted by their ministry in my life. But there is a time for everything under the sun, and this was the time for change.

Our new name is REAL moms. Isn't that a great name? I am very excited about our year. The women (about half returning and half new) chattered away like old friends within minutes, and there was a buzz of talking, laughter, and energy just filling our room on Wed. What a great first night! It was tons of work for all of us to get ready, and alot of work for me personally on the very first night, but after this my job gets easier as we have speakers virtually every meeting and they handle the bulk of our time together.

I think God is just amazing. His plans are intricate and incredible and impossible to dream up on my own. I wouldn't have put this group of women together in a hundred years, but He did. And it is good. Many of the moms work outside the home full time. A few more work part time. A couple are single moms. Several are adoptive moms. Some are quite young (young enough, literally, to be my daughters!) and some are.....not so young. :-) Some have children still all in diapers. Some have not had to change a diaper in many years. Some know and love Jesus. Some don't know what it means to have a personal relationship with the God of the universe. But they choose to come, and they choose to relate, and they choose to stay. God is good!

Lord, I offer my work in REAL moms as an offering of worship to you, for you are worthy, and awesome and amazing. Thank you that you love each woman who comes so very much, and want to show her your love. Thank you for bringing such a varied and interesting group of women together. Please knit our hearts together, and help us to build safety and trust. Give us the opportunity to build on that trust by sharing your love and truth with the women who do not yet know you. And sustain each woman in your grace, as they have need. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of such an awesome thing you are doing. I love you, Lord.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm So Mad I'll.......

Today during C and Little Man's time together, they were very excited to make words on the fridge with these letter magnets. I smiled as I watched them skip up the stairs, and imagined son C feeling very important as he imparted his knowledge of phonics and blending to Little Man. What words would he come up with? What would they decide to write?

Imagine my surprise when I came upstairs about 15 minutes later to find this:

Truly a proud mama moment.

At least they remembered the period!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happiness Is......

Hooray for football season!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A is for Apple

This morning was the first meeting of our new homeschool co-op. We have 4 families, 14 children, divided into a young 5's class and an IEW writing class for the 4th, 5th, and 7th graders. We are taking turns meeting in each other's homes, and this month the co-op is meeting at our house. We had a blast! I am the teacher of the young 5's class this month, and today we learned all about the letter "A".

We made applesauce.

And painted with apples.

We had recess!

And learned how to write the letter A.

Little Man and his BFF checked out the writing class through the kitty door.

And our two littlest ones, ages 2 and 3, participated at their own special table.

Meanwhile, down in the schoolroom, the writing class watched a lesson on dvd and then began working on their own key word outlines.

It was a very fun and productive morning. Though we miss the people at our old (much bigger) co-op, we are going to love our new co-op!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Our Week in Review

My husband thrived during his first week at his new job, and we survived our first full week of school!!

We are still adjusting to the new routine, necessitated by my husband's new work schedule, but we are adjusting with thankful hearts. I am so grateful for God's infinite love and patience. I am so thankful for the new job! I am so thankful it's forcing us to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. I am so thankful I can be busy with the task of educating our children. I am so thankful for our house. In fact, I am totally in love with our house right now! I want to buy it things and do nice things for it, and spend quality time with it. Though it has lots of little things that need fixing, only one tub/shower for our family of 7, and many nooks and crannies that need a thorough cleaning, I have a fresh appreciation for these walls that we call home. Among the many lessons I learned during these last 9 months is this: Our house is just a house. Ultimately it is nothing special. What makes it special is the people in it. And it doesn't belong to us. It belongs to God. He graciously allowed us to live in it the last 8 years, and apparently it is His plan that we live in it longer. I AM SO THANKFUL FOR IT!

It is such a joy to see my husband working again. It has really changed the tone of our home. I can't explain it, but it's tangible. He has purpose. He has some where to go after he wakes up. He is making a contribution, earning his own way, and providing for his family. It is such a happy thing!

So, while we were busy adjusting to the new job and being thankful for our home, the children were busy finding their school groove. Some found it quickly. Others, not so much. :-) Here is Little Man spending time with his sissy. I have scheduled Little Man to have some one to one time with each of his siblings during the school day. They all love this time and look forward to it! I'm not sure the anticipation is because of Little Man's sparkling personality, or the fact that his activities are all fun and games. Maybe both.

The 3 middle boys are pictured here working on their history lapbooks. They cut out a little flapbook and wrote about Henry Ford and the making of the Model T ~ the car that changed America. SO MUCH happened in the first decade of the 1900's! Wow. Our daughter read about the presidencies of Roosevelt and Taft. Son G read about the Titanic. Younger boys and I read about the Wright Brothers and their amazing flyer, and the building of the Panama Canal. We all read about Henry Ford, and also about Amy Carmichael, missionary to India.

In science, the boys and I began reading about ocean creatures. We are going to LOVE this book! During the summer I made science notebooks for the 3 middle boys, combining free notebooking pages from Jeannie Fulbright's website (author of our textbook), with free lapbook elements from homeschool share. I am so glad I was able to do this ahead of time! The boys loved seeing their notebooks, with the same covers as our science textbook (color copies - yay!), and they all enthusiastically began working in them. Oh, may that enthusiasm continue!

C's notebook.

G's notebook.

L's notebook.

Meanwhile, our daughter began her science study with the Apologia General Science book. It is divided into 16 modules. Our goal is to finish one module every 2 weeks. We read the first several pages together and then did the first experiment, which was to prove the existence of atoms. Many homeschoolers, including me, approach experiments with a fair bit of dread, because there is nothing worse than building up your child's expectations only to have the experiment fail for some reason. I am happy to report that this experiment worked exactly as it was supposed to! It was actually very cool.

As previously mentioned, we read this book about the building of the Panama Canal. A true engineering marvel and extraordinary accomplishment, which includes a set of locks at either end of the canal.

Then I remembered that we had this toy from Discovery Toys called "Waterworks" out in the shed. Oh my, what fun! It has a set of locks on it too, so we put it together and happily played Panama Canal all afternoon.

We even got little lego men to be the sailors. And homemade boats out of tin foil so we'd have enough for everyone.

Little Man is pumping water into the upper lock. Son G's hand is on the upper lock, a good 8 inches above the rest of the waterway.

In this picture the green boat is in the upper lock and G is pumping water into the next lock so the boat can pass through.

I'm so glad when some toy we already have can tie in so well with school!

I am so thankful for a good first full week, for my husband's job, for our home, and most of all for God's love and faithfulness. That sums up our week, and pretty much my whole outlook right now!