Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Yesterday one of our boys insulted another one pretty badly with some choice words. Not swear words, but very belittling. This has happened before, so obviously the original consequence (loss of computer time) was not "painful" enough to stop him from doing it again. We realized the consequence needed to be more closely tied to the offense. So we borrowed an idea from Lisa Whelchel's book Creative Correction.

My husband set this up before he went to work, and I supervised throughout the day. We gave nails and a hammer to this boy and told him to nail 25 nails into this board. Just like the nails were "hurting" the wood, words hurt people. I allowed him a couple of short breaks, but this took him nearly two hours.

Then we had him take all the nails back out, one by one. This was actually much harder than putting them in, and my husband had to help him finish after he got home from work (or he would probably STILL be working on it!). We showed him the damaged wood, and told him that even when he apologizes for hurtful words, the wounds remain behind. You can never take words "back" as if they had never been spoken. They leave a mark on the hearer.

It was a pretty powerful visual. In addition to spending hours on this project, he had to do all his regular school work too. He had no play time ~ his entire day was spent nailing the wood and doing school work. Only God knows his heart, and knows if he has truly learned this lesson, but we pray he has (and I'm very grateful to Lisa Whelchel for this idea!).

Psalm 141:3 ~ Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Friday, March 25, 2011


10 year old L, during lunch, with all his siblings present: "Mommy, do Little Man and C know about s*x yet?"

And this is a cute one, but about a serious subject:

During devotions at co-op this morning, Little Man requested prayer for the people of Japan, and that "the nuclear power point won't explode." (he's been watching his older siblings make power point presentations for virtual co-op!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


is the number of emails that downloaded this morning, after having my computer out of commission for 6 days.


is the number I've deleted so far.


is the number of truly worthwhile messages I might have accidentally deleted or overlooked during the last week, while I was using my husband's laptop.

If you sent me a message and haven't received a reply, please send again! I promise not to be too happy with the delete key. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Update on Foot Pain

I started seeing a physical therapist last week for my plantar fascitiis, and so far I have had two workouts with her. Yes, they are workouts! My pain is already significantly lessened and I am hopeful this will provide long term answers for me! It is absolutely fascinating, just fascinating to learn how the hip, knee, ankle and foot are connected and meant to work together. I am learning so much.

One of the things I learned today is that there are three mechanisms in the body that are intended to work together to support the arches in our feet, and if any one of them (or all three) are out of whack, it can cause fallen arches which leads to foot/heel pain. Since I have lived with the pain for so long, it is impossible to tell which mechanism originally caused it, so my PT is treating all three mechanisms at once. Which means three times the stretches and exercises. Each stretch and exercise has a specific purpose, and correct form is key. I was at PT for over two hours this afternoon, and worked up quite a sweat!

The three mechanisms we are working on are, my hips (yes, hips! who knew???), ankles, and the muscles and fascia in my foot itself. Currently my foot and ankle are taped with special tape made just for plantar fascitiis, holding my bones in correct position, and when the PT finished taping and I walked around, I literally cried with relief. My pain was instantly cut in half!

So. I am hopeful. Encouraged. Motivated. Thankful, sooo thankful for medical insurance!

Our Week in Review - Classical Greece, part 2

Before I tell you about our history studies, I just have to share this picture from Little Man's Bible Journal..... it has a story behind it, which I find hilarious!

We are reading through Psalms and Proverbs right now, reading the chapter from each book that corresponds to each day's date. So on March 16 we read Psalm 16 and Proverbs 16. The Proverbs are so interesting to read with the children.... each verse can be its own picture and I never know what they will choose to illustrate in their Bible journals. It is pretty amazing to look through them after class and see how they have chosen to illustrate some small gem of wisdom.

Little Man, of his own accord, chose to illustrate Proverbs 16:31, which reads, "Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life." When he showed me this picture afterward, he said, "this is you, mommy. Your gray hair is like a crown. I think when your dye grows out this time, you should leave your hair gray and wear it like this." Hahaha! In addition to my lovely hair, I got a kick out of my pointy b**bs! I love that Little Man so much. He makes me smile.

We spent last week continuing our study of the classical period of Ancient Greece. We learned about some of the Greeks who made significant discoveries or advances in math, science, and philosophy. Fortunately for anyone with young children studying famous dead Greeks, there is a whole series of books about Greek mathematicians, scientisits, and astronomers, that are well written and very fun to read. A couple of our favorites last week were this book about Pythagoras, who developed several math formulas still in use today:

...and this one about Erasthosthenes (AIR-a-TOS-the-neez) who figured out a way to measure the circumference of the earth. Later it was realized that he came to within 200 miles of the actual distance around! Not bad!

We worked in our history notebooks last week, catching up on some explanation of architecture...

...and writing down some interesting facts we learned about other aspects of Greek life. We LOVE the lapbooks that Tapestry of Grace sells ~ what a great way for the boys to narrate back to me (and/or write down) what they have internalized from our reading!

In other news, our third grader, C, learned the difference between linear measure and the area of a square or rectangle! I guess this was appropriate since we learned about Greek mathematicians all week. At first it was hard for him to visualize, so I got the brainstorm to show him the difference between a ruler and a lego building board. That did it. He got it!

It was a great week of learning, and we are almost done with the Greeks! Very soon we will have our unit celebration and be on to the Romans!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Sad to miss my friend's wedding in England. Happy to view it via skype. Happy to know that my parents and sisters were there. Sad that I was not. So happy for my friend! Happy to go to a homeschool book fair and look at materials. Overwhelmed at making a high school plan for our daughter. Peaceful knowing that God has a plan for her and for our home school. Frustrated there was not the cash enough (today) to buy more of what we needed for next year. Happy that the money will be available for these purchases before September. Happy to have the family I have, and the life I have, here. Sad to miss so many moments with my family of origin. Thankful for my husband, and for his new job. Frustrated already at his long work hours. Missing my (miscarried) babies. Thankful for the five sweet children who are here.

Happy, sad, thankful, frustrated, overwhelmed, peaceful, nostalgic, regretful. So many emotions in one day......

Friday, March 18, 2011


We were driving with the windows down yesterday, and daughter G was not happy that her hair was being blown. 8 year old son C observed, "girls and hair have a certain kind of relationship with one another."

So true!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Outside Recess!!!!

Without snow gear!!


Goodbye Boots!

Hello roller blades!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Week in Review - Classical Greece

Warning: this is a long post with lots of pictures! I have fallen out of the habit of posting "our week in review" posts, so this is a combination of the last two weeks. I hope to get back in the habit because it's really encouraging to be reminded of all we did accomplish, and also a great way to share our every day school days with loved ones both near and far.

We have been studying the Classical period of Greece recently. The Archaic period (the time of Odysseus, Achilles, the Trojan War, etc) happened several hundred years before the Classical period, but the Classical period is what most people think of when they think of Ancient Greece. It's been fun to study this culture again, adding to the information we gained when we learned about the Archaic period.

I was shocked to realize that the "golden age" of Greece only lasted 47 years!! The culture itself lasted much longer and had far reaching influence on other nations and people groups, even up to the present day, but the "golden age" itself, when the culture was at its height, was very short. I don't remember ever learning that! (I love continuing to learn!)

Another amazing thing for us to learn was how the ancient Israelites, Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks were all tied together. The Israelites were conquered by the Babylonians (leading to the dispursion, or diaspora, of Jews to all other parts of the Middle East). A young man named Daniel was among those Jews sent to Babylon in exile, and he is of course the same Daniel we read about in the Bible, whose friends were thrown into the fiery furnace and miraculously saved by the Lord, who could interpret dreams and who ended up in the lion's den when he was much older (and also survived!).

The Babylonians were very shortly afterward conquered by the Persians (here is where the story of Queen Esther fits in), and the Persians became so great and powerful they decided to try and conquer the Greeks. A series of battles between the Greeks and Persians (known as the Persian Wars) ended with Persia's defeat, stopping the expansion of that empire into Europe. Then there was the "golden age" of Greece, when there was relative peace and the people had time and energy to devote to the development of the arts and sciences. Then followed the Peloponnesian War, between Sparta and Athens, which Sparta won and which began the gradual decline of Greece's greatness. All of this occurred within a span of just 165 years!! This was a huge history puzzle piece that got put in place for me, personally, during our studies.

Last week for virtual co-op, both daughter G and son G had the opportunity to make short power point presentations to share in class, covering an aspect of Greek history. Daughter G, being in virtual co-op for three years now, has made several power points. But it was son G's first time. I am so thrilled for the opportunity our children have to learn these skills early and have years to practice them. He really enjoyed it! He did his presentation on the Peloponnesian War. Here he is making it:

We discussed together (all five children) the similarities and differences between the city-states of Athens and Sparta, and made Venn diagrams to illustrate what we discussed. The ability to compare is another skill I am so thrilled to teach our children early. Everyone made a Venn diagram.....

.....even our kindergartner, Little Man! He drew a picture illustrating something unique to Sparta, something unique to Athens, and something they both shared. Then he dictated to me what they were, and I wrote for him. Click on the picture if you want to see it larger.

Despite the fact that our schoolroom makeover is far from done, it has been functioning very well for us this year. I am so thankful to have more space in which to spread out! At the back of the room we have a small table which is our "extra activities" table. I put some Greek activities on it, and then put a note in each of the children's workboxes to spend time at the activities table.

Many of the activities came from this kit: The Ancient Greece Treasure Chest.

Over the course of the last two weeks, here are some of the activities the children have worked on: (trojan horse is from the Archaic period of Greece, and doesn't belong with our Classical studies, but we made him anyway!)

They each wrote their name in Greek letters, and then stamped a Greek pattern around the edges of their paper.

They also made pictures of a Greek amphora (vase) from a template I had, and decorated them with Greek looking designs and pictures.

Such great practice for Little Man in fine motor skills!

We learned that Athens was the birthplace of democracy ~ government by the people. They instituted a council, and any citizen could serve on the council multiple times during his lifetime (of course, only male non-slaves could be citizens). To vote someone off the council required a certain number of "ostrakons" cast. An ostrakon was a broken piece of pottery, on which a name had been scratched. Many ostrakons have been found by archeologists. We get our word "ostracize" from this word! We decided to make our own ostrakons. I broke up a couple of flower pots to get us started, and that was actually kind-of fun!

The children painted them black.

When the paint was dry, they used a nail to scratch out a name in Greek letters, using this letter wheel from the Ancient Greek Treasure Chest (letter wheel showed roman sounds and their corresponding greek letter).

We ended up with five ostrakons voting Obama out of office! (click on picture to enlarge and see the writing better)

This week we are learning about some specific advances in math, science and philosophy made by the Greeks. We will have another Greek meal this Friday, rather than our usual pizza, and then next week we learn about Alexander the Great conquering the Greeks! (can't believe we are almost up to the time of Christ!)

Friday, March 11, 2011

So Burdened for Japan....

My heart is so heavy for the people of Japan. I do not watch/listen/read the news in the mornings, usually, but I did learn this morning of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and can hardly comprehend it. Some of you may not know that I lived and worked in Japan for 2.5 years, a long time ago (pre-marriage). I absolutely fell in love with the country and the people. Most of my friends are located southwest of Sendai and Tokyo, so I am fairly confident of their safety. But I have some missionary friends who live in or near Sendai who I am praying for. And though I did not know most of those affected personally, my heart is heavy for all of them.

Japanese people are very connected to one another, in ways that Americans find hard to fully comprehend. They have a strong national identity, and very deep ties to their own history and ancestry. When one part of the country suffers, truly they all do.

When I have time, I'll dig out some old photos of my time in Japan, scan, and post them. It was a wonderful chapter in my life!

Please, please keep the Japanese people in your prayers.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I know that Spring is coming because.....

....we saw our first robin today!!!!


FIAR Co-op - Papa Piccolo, Part 2

After once again reading Papa Piccolo together and talking about the story, the children made their own gondolas out of paper! In the story, the two little baby stray cats that Papa Piccolo ends up adopting, unwittingly go for a long gondola ride and are "lost" for a day. We talked about how in Venice, the canals serve as streets and there are boats of all types traversing the waterways.

Papa Piccolo was served scraps of all kinds, and of course loved fish! For our snack, the bravest of the children tried sardines on crackers. A few of them were not willing, and we didn't force them, but 3 of the 5 at least tasted!

Sally's boys couldn't get enough!

Sally gathered all the stuffed animal cats she had in the house, and the children acted out the story. Super cute!

We really enjoyed this book. It was a fun, fun morning!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

FIAR Co-op - Papa Piccolo, Part 1

This is a really, really sweet book about an independent alley cat in Venice, Italy who becomes a papa cat quite by accident. The pictures are colorful and detailed; just by looking at them we were able to learn a lot about Italy!

We looked at some pictures of Italian art, and talked about primary and secondary colors. Sally, who was the FIAR teacher that day, gave the children a paper palette and the three primary colors. They then mixed each primary color with the one next to it to create a new color. It doesn't matter how many times you tell a child what will happen, nothing beats actually doing it with your own hands and seeing it with your own eyes!

The colors mixed quite nicely, don't you think?!

After this the children had fun painting pictures of whatever they wanted. They painted for a long time!

Then we made spaghetti noodles for snack! (which turned out to be our lunch)