Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Daily Challenges

I am a little discouraged today. Daily life is (still) really challenging. We are VERY thankful for God's faithfulness to us during my husband's unemployment, and VERY thankful that he now has a job. God has been so gracious, and our friends, family, and church family have been so supportive. Truly, the blessings have been, and continue to be, rich and many. But the reality is that my husband getting a job was not the "end" of our journey.

Since his employment:

We have gone around and around in circles with our lender over how to pay back what we owe on our mortgage. We think it's getting worked out and then something changes. That is all still up in the air and we are uncertain about our future in this house.

Our furnace broke beyond repair and we are still in the process of figuring out how to pay for a new one.

Our dishwasher stopped working. Well, it works, but the door that holds the soap in doesn't latch shut so the soap all spills out right away and the dishes don't get clean. Since I was having to re-wash them all anyway, I just stopped using the dishwasher. This means that there are ALWAYS dirty dishes cluttering my kitchen. Always. There usually were some before, but now the piles are bigger.

The broiler in our oven stopped working and now I fear the oven may be going as well. Last Friday it took twice as long for our homemade pizzas to cook, meaning we didn't eat until 7:30! It's hard to plan dinner time when I don't know what time dinner will actually be done.

My dryer is working inefficiently. I am having to dry each load twice.

The struts on my husband's vehicle desperately need to be replaced. He nearly goes airborne over small bumps and something (the tailpipe?) is constantly being hit against the pavement.

We have a set of bad water valves that makes for constant dripping outside, causing our water bill to be high. We thought we'd fixed it ourselves, but it didn't "take".

None of these things is a terribly big deal, but happening all at the same time is a little overwhelming, and the fact that so many appliances are on the fritz makes my daily life at home more challenging. Please pray that my husband and I can keep our eyes on Jesus, that our actions and responses to these problems will glorify the Lord, and that He will help us prioritize what is most important to have fixed first (and provide the funds!). Also, please pray that I would not whine about the appliances but do the extra work with a cheerful heart. I know this would be a great example to my children and a great encouragement to my husband. I just don't feel that cheerful about it. Lord, please give me the grace to choose joy.

Col 3:23 ~ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

Phil 4:13 ~ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

James 1:2 ~ Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverence.

James 1:12 ~ Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.

John 14:1 ~ Do not let your hearts be troubled.

2 Cor 4:17, 18 ~ For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Col 3:1, 2 ~ Set your hearts on things above.....set your minds on things above, and not on earthly things.

Amen, Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

G is for Games

At co-op last Friday Angela read us some books about games. We talked about playing fair, and taking turns (both veeeery important concepts for the young 5's!). Then we played some games!

First we played a matching game called "Brain Surgery". The children had to reach in to a plastic head and try to feel with their fingers the shape that would match a little card they'd been given. This was a huge hit!

Charades was also a big hit. The children acted out different animals. Here is a dinosaur (stomping and roaring).

And a tiger.

We learned how to write the letter "G".

And we ended with a snack of grapes and graham crackers!

Let's hear it for "G"!! (I'm sortof partial to that letter since I have two children whose name begins with G). :-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our Week in Review

We finished our 9th week of school on Friday! Can't believe we are already through all of Year 4, unit 1 of Tapestry of Grace. We are taking a week off from our history studies, and will begin unit 2 a week from tomorrow. We had hoped to have a unit celebration this week, but instead are using it to finish reading a few books and wrap up some hands on projects. Hopefully we'll have a unit celebration later, or combine a couple units into one celebration. We are in the 1920's right now, building up to the stock market crash of '29 and the beginning of the Great Depression. I am really looking forward to going through this with the children, drawing parallels and also pointing out differences between the lives of people then and people today.

In our Bible time we are currently reading through John. We are up to chapter 7 (we go slow!). Here is Little Man's picture of Jesus walking on water! See the boat next to him? I think it's pretty good! Little Man has developed a great love of drawing and coloring, much like his older brother G (with whom he shares a room). It's so fun to see him at work.

He added Peter to the picture, when Peter tried to walk to Jesus but got scared of the waves and began to sink.

I have been praying about ways to increase sibling love and bonds with each other, and God gave me a brainstorm last week. During our morning prayer time I had each of the children pray for the person on their left, so everyone was praying outloud for another member of the family. It was incredibly encouraging to see what a difference that made in our home throughout the day! Prayer works!!

We painted pumpkins this week, an annual fall tradition in our home. The children have lots of fun planning what designs or faces to put on their pumpkins.

We did our usual work in math and spelling and grammar and reading and science. Here is Little Man doing preschool math ~ counting out 10 animal crackers on each plate!

Our 3 soccer boys had their last regular game of fall season. It was freeeeeeeeezing on Saturday! (almost, but not quite, literally) This picture was taken during Little Man's game. During the older boys' game later in the day, we got to sit through a steady rain as well. :-) Our older boys have one more game on Monday night with a team that is not in our league, and after that we are D.O.N.E. None too soon.

We are still awaiting our new mortgage payment paperwork, and therefore also waiting to order our new furnace. We have been staying warm even without a furnace, due to space heaters and our fireplace, and for that we are very grateful. God is good!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday's Thankful Things

Over the weekend we developed a very bad leak in one of our tires. On Monday evening I had to fill the tire immediately before leaving for a soccer game, and then pump it up again with a portable compressor after the game before heading home, and then stop at a gas station to fill it up when we were halfway home. That shows you how quickly the air was leaking out. Yesterday I filled the tire up and drove directly to the tire shop, where it was nearly flat by the time I got there. Because my incredibly handsome and smart and forward thinking (and did I already say handsome?) husband bought tire insurance for all 4 tires last summer, even though we only actually purchased one brand new one, we were able to get a new tire for FREE!! Thank you, Lord.

Our home equity line of credit was able to be successfully transferred to a traditional loan before its maturity date this month. Since we were not in a position to pay it off at maturity, we could have potentially lost our home over this. Thank you, Lord.

We had a really good day of school yesterday, despite doing writing at the tire store, and reading in the copy room at church where I was making copies of things for REAL moms. Thank you, Lord.

Soccer season is almost over!! Thank you, Lord.

Our 10 and 9 year old boys have really LOVED soccer this fall and it has helped them in ways that I did not expect. Thank you, Lord.

We have been staying nice and warm even without a furnace. Thank you, Lord.

Our 13 year old minivan is still running. Thank you, Lord.

My husband has a job. Thank you, Lord.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." ~ Galatians 6:9

I have been struggling lately with knowing what to write on my blog. This is not because there is nothing going on to blog about, because there is. It is also not because I haven't taken pictures, because I have (long time readers, you know how I love to post pics!). We have been exceptionally busy with soccer season (3 playing this fall) and all of "life", but I have been going through the motions almost automatically while my heart and mind have been far, far away.

I have not been entirely sure what I was feeling, so therefore not able to describe it to others. But I finally realized where my heart and mind have been.

They have been grieving for my country.

Every day, literally, I receive emails urging me to call my Congressmen or the White House switchboard about some freedom that is being threatened by proposed legislation. Some of them I have called on. All of them I have prayed for. It requires a tremendous amount of energy to stay abreast of all the changes that are in the wind right now for our country. And all of them, without exception, are changes that will limit our freedom of speech, our freedom of choice, and even our freedom to vote for change. It is overwhelming. And it is sad.

In our homeschool we study history on a 4 year cycle with Tapestry of Grace, each time through learning at an ever deeper level. Last year we studied Year 3 - the 1800's, this year we are working through Year 4 - the 1900's. Our studies include many countries and world events, but there is a thread of U.S. history that runs throughout years 2, 3 and 4. It has been so fascinating to learn about people and events that merged together to shape the country we live in. How the Constitution was written, how the founding fathers wrestled with each article in it. How people in different regions lived, what daily life was like, the tension between states rights and a strong federal government, how technology changed our culture. How we emerged as a world power and how our relationships with other nations necessarily took on more significance. All of these things are fresh in my mind. I have gained a tremendous appreciation for how our nation was actually formed and what the founders intended when they labored through its birth. I have grown to love and be grateful for my country in deeper, more purposeful ways than ever before.

So it has been very, very sad for me to realize that while I am busy learning to cook with beans and homeschooling my children and chauffeuring them to soccer, the freedoms our founding fathers worked so hard to give us, and that countless men and women have given their lives to preserve, are quietly and systematically being stripped away.

It is not my intent in this post to bash President Obama or the Democrats as a group. I know and admire several Democrats, and they are not the enemy. Nor is it my intent to question the motives of those proposing "bad" legislation. I do, in personal moments, sometimes question this, but in the public forum of this blog that is not my intent. I am still, possibly naiively, willing to assume that they love our country too, just that their views on the best course of action are different than mine.

It is my intention to share from my heart how our current course saddens me and causes me to grieve that what was gained at such a high cost can be endangered so easily. It is also my intent in this post to encourage those of you who may also be concerned to do your own research, know the facts, and then act on the information if you feel led to do so.

Please consider the following:

The so called "hate crimes" verbage which the Senate attached to the defense authorization bill and which is probably being voted on today, would give courts an open door to prosecute preachers who publicly read God's own words about homosexuality from the Bible. This bill would also make pedophiles a protected class under federal law. But because it is attached to the defense authorization bill, which funds our military, those congressmen voting against it would be vilified for not supporting our troops.

The healthcare reform bill(s) being considered are just bad bills. If you read the House version (HR3200 - I have read parts - it's over 1,000 pages long) I think you will agree that it is just plain bad and just plain EXPENSIVE! I don't understand how any politician from any party could vote for it in its present form. Here are just a few of its problems (read more here):

It would mandate that a political appointee would decide which benefits (treatments/practitioners/drugs) were or were not essential for you as a patient (section 122).

It would set up a Healthcare Insurance Exchange (commonly referred to now as simply "the exchange") to establish federal control over the definition, amount, and type of insurance options available and to eliminate a free and thriving market in health insurance (section 201).

It would coerce physicians into participating (section 223), and also coerce employers and employees to participate or be taxed (sections 312-313).

It would control the amount that physicians can be paid for their services (sections 1121-1122) and would use private medical records for surveys and research without patient or physician consent (section 1401).

Private insurers would be taxed in order to fund a new "Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research", which tax would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums (sections 4375-4377).

And then there's the U.N. Climate Treaty which will be discussed in Copenhagen this December. According to this article today in the New York Times, it appears doubtful that the United States will be ready to sign a Climate Treaty this year (which is VERY good news!) but the talks will continue and its time will come. If the U.S. signs such a treaty and it is ratified, by our own law it supercedes the authority of our constitution. The President would essentially be ceding U.S. Sovereignty in order to "protect the planet". It would not be able to be undone. There would be no do-overs. How could anyone willingly sign away the rights that so many fought and debated and wrote and labored to give us?

Because U.N. treaties trump our constitution, the signing of any U.N. treaty of course bodes ill for the United States. This means that even though the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child may have been intended as a tool to protect and provide for children around the world affected by poverty and abuse every day, it is also something to fight and pray against. Can you imagine being sued by your underage child because you did something perceived as "against their best interest?" Because its language can be interpreted too broadly, and because it would supercede all federal and state laws regarding children that are currently on the books, it is a bad law. Read more about it here.

All information listed above is true and accurate and current to the best of my ability, but I am not a political or law expert, and I don't even usually write controversial posts. So please research and read and find out more for yourselves.

Freedom is precious. It is worth fighting for. I am sad and weary, but I am not ignorant and I am not beaten. It is worth every minute spent in prayer, and every phone call made to a congressman, and every vote for a person who pledges to govern according to the constitution, to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy for our children and grand-children. None of my readers are founding fathers, and probaby very few have been in the armed forces. But we are currently in a battle every bit as real as the ones fought in debate and in arms by those who came before us. Like them, let it be said of us, we did not give up. We did not back down. We did not "grow weary of doing good".

Monday, October 19, 2009

F is for Fire Station

Last week in co-op our young 5's class learned about the letter "F". We learned that F is for fire station, firefighter, fire hat, and fire truck! Leaving the older kids at the house (with an adult) to work on their writing, we walked across the street to a fire station for a tour.

The young 5's class in front of the EMS vehicle.

Firefighter Mike let us take turns sitting inside the fire truck, and pushing the air brakes to hear the "whoosh" sound. It was quite a stretch for some of our children!

Can't. Quite. Reach.

Our son C, because he was the oldest at 7 years, also got to turn on the lights and flip a few more switches. Very cool!

Seeing all the bandaids and equipment on the EMS truck.

After a thorough looking over of all the vehicles, we also got a tour of the fire station itself. Us moms learned alot! We found my friend Sally's house on the huge wall sized map of the city ~ every single address within the city is on that map. They actually received a medical emergency call while we were there, so 2 of the men set out in the EMS vehicle with their lights and siren going, followed by 2 more men in a firetruck. I had asked previously why we always see a firetruck and EMS vehicle traveling together, and was quite surprised at the answer. Can you guess?

Because obesity is such a problem in America now, very often it is impossible for just 2 men to lift the person with the emergency onto the gurney, so they need more bodies. Also, the firetruck carries all the equipment that a small town ER would have, so it can assist the ambulance with supplies as well. Kindof sad about the obesity thing, isn't it? (I sucked in my stomach while he was telling us this answer!)

Before we left, Fireman Mike let us try on a "real" helmet.

Yours truly even got a turn. That helmet was very, very HEAVY.

Back at the house, we learned that "F" can also stand for fish, flower, fall, furnace, fly, and.....

....fruit! Angela brought plastic knives and let the kiddies have at it with soft fruit. They had so much fun! It was another wonderful day at co-op.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


As all the children were coloring and I was reading about women getting the right to vote in 1920:

Little Man: "So you can vote mommy?"

Me: "Yes, I can!"

Little Man: "But that means you'll be the President-Mommy!"


Last night at the dinner table:

Daddy: "Who can tell me the name of the Treaty that officially ended World War I? It starts with v-v-v."

Son L, after wildly raising his hand: "The Treaty of Various Places???"

(betcha haven't heard of that one, have you?!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Our Week in Review

Or perhaps I should call this one "my" week in review.

I was in a bit of a funk last week. We were exceptionally busy, with something every single night. Twice we had different events happening concurrently in two different locations. REAL moms on Wed night. Furnace shopping. Soccer games in the rain and in the dark. We were so happy to get a real paycheck that we were a bit too vigorous in paying outstanding bills, leaving me with not enough grocery money to get us easily to the next paycheck. So I was trying to figure out dinners I could make with ingredients on hand, that were also easy to eat in the van or at a soccer game. Ugh. I was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the week.

After seeing my husband off to work while it was still dark, I twice went back to bed and slept until the children woke me. I needed that little release so I'm choosing not to feel guilty about it, but it did mean school was less organized last week and more on the fly. One of the few things that sometimes gets me down about homeschooling is that so much depends on the mom/teacher. My children are not going to be organized without me. The younger ones are not going to stay on task without me. Rarely do things get done without me saying that they need to get done. So when I'm not on my game, they're not either.

On the other hand, I love that homeschooling is not just what we do between 9 and 3. It's our lifestyle. It naturally ebbs and flows. Last week it ebbed. Maybe this week it will flow!

One day last week I sent C and Little Man upstairs with a math game involving marbles, which they happily played together for nearly an hour. After a while I realized it had been rather quiet so I went to check on them and found this:

C is feeling confident enough in his reading to begin reading to Little Man!!! What a blessing. Moments like this make it all worthwhile. And I would have missed this if they were both away at institutional school. I am so thankful that the homeschool lifestyle is forgiving of "funk" weeks. I am so thankful that God loves our children more than we do, and that He allows them to thrive in spite of and in the midst of life circumstances that are not always ideal.

I'm so glad He loves me.

Dear Lord, thank you for loving me even when I'm tired and grumpy and cold and whiney. I don't know why you love me so much, but I know you do. And it changes everything for me. Help me to redeem the time this week. To be faithful in homeschooling, as you have called me to be. Help me to put the children above myself, and to balance discipline with mercy as I parent and teach. Thank you that the tasks you have given me are not too great for your strength. I depend on You, oh Lord. Thank you for being so dependable. I love you. Amen.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

E is for Egg

This week in co-op we learned about the letter "E". My friend Angela, whose turn it is to teach the young 5's this month, read some books about eggs. They did a neat experiment where they rolled an egg to see that since it's not perfectly round it doesn't roll away from you like a ball, but since it's oval it is designed by God to roll back around to you (or its nest). They also cracked a raw egg and found all its parts.

And then they colored boiled eggs!

It rained all day and we couldn't have recess outside, so we had recess INSIDE!

Meanwhile, down in Sally's schoolroom, the IEW writer's class took turns sharing their work from last week while everyone listened respectfully and then clapped.

This shows more of the schoolroom. My friend Sally has a beautiful, spacious schoolroom in her walkout basement. Lots of light and very comfortable!

The students all shared their final paragraphs from units 1 and 2 of IEW (making a key word outline and re-writing the paragraph from their outlines) and then during class we watched a lesson on dvd about how to write a story based on the story sequence chart (unit 3 of IEW). I love this story writing model! It breaks a story down into its parts so it ties in with literature very, very well. We are learning to identify the characters, the setting of the story, the problem or conflict of the story, the climax point of the story, and the resolution. We will spend the rest of October on this unit and then move on to another unit for November (when it will be my turn to teach the IEW writers class).