Tuesday, November 29, 2011

After Thanksgiving

The day after Thanksgiving my husband's laptop died a rather dramatic death. It was used extensively by the entire family so its loss is really felt. Without it my husband cannot work from home (which he did a few days every month), and the two oldest boys will now have to share one computer for an online class they are in.

It is possible that an experienced repair person may be able to fix it at a reasonable price, but that involves taking a chip off the motherboard, and we run the risk of ruining the motherboard in the process. For those of you not familiar with motherboards, that would be bad.

Perhaps we will be able to replace it after Christmas. I would love for my husband to have a new laptop. His was five years old, which in laptop years is about 100. But in the meantime, we are down a computer. And you know what????

I am thankful.

I am thankful we have two desktops that we can use. Both of them are old, and one of them is so old it will not support our online classes, but it does most other things reasonably well (I'm blogging on it!).

I am thankful my husband had the most amazing attitude about it. No ranting or raving at all. No visible, outward discouragement. Not even a heavy sigh. "It's just a thing," he said.

I am thankful that in the grand scheme of things, a broken laptop is not even a blip.

I am thankful that God has been so faithful. We've had a lot of things break in the past few months, but by God's grace they have all been fixed or replaced.

I'm thankful God is showing me that gratitude is a year round perspective. It doesn't have to stop after Thanksgiving. I'm grateful there are still so many other things to be thankful for!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thursday's Thankful Things

How appropriate that Thanksgiving is on a Thursday!

I was too busy living Thursday to post on Thursday, but here are a few of the many things I am thankful for...

Traditions. Some are more elaborate than others, while some are very simple. One simple one we have is eating cinnamon rolls and oranges while watching the parade on TV every Thanksgiving morning. When son C exclaimed on Wednesday, "Oh, I can't wait for the parade and cinnamon rolls tomorrow!" it reminded me how important these little traditions are to our children, and how they are like stitches in the fabric that is our family life.

Our children. Each one made so miraculously by God. Each one so special and unique.

I'm thankful they are old enough to help, and that they enjoy helping!

I'm thankful for cran-raspberry pie, and all the other good food that God has so abundantly given us. I'm thankful I could offer a table full of deliciousness to our guests.

Family. Some near, some far. Each person's placement in our family circle was intentional and not an accident. Each one has a specific role in my life, and I am thankful that God uses us to bless, challenge, and encourage one another.

So thankful for the opportunity to see our great-niece! We rarely get to see her, so it was a special treat.

For our house. Our dining room. The lovely drapes that my friend Susan made me. Our sturdy oak table that continues to seat and serve so many. The beautiful cross stitch of the Lord's Prayer on the wall behind me in this picture, that was a wedding present from my beloved grandparents. These are all just things, but they are meaningful to me.

I'm thankful for each opportunity we have to do things together as a family that does not involve electronics! :-)

So thankful for music. And laughter! The children laughed so much while playing ~ what a beautiful sound!

So thankful for my husband. He balances me so well, is generous and not a complainer, plus he's really cute. ;-)

Especially thankful that God is, and that He is who He says He is.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Our Week In Review

We continued our studies of the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration this week. We looked at lots and lots of art, and also read about many different explorers and the new routes or landforms they discovered. What an incredible time that must have been! Fear of the unknown began to be replaced by an overwhelming motivation to know what lay "beyond" ~ beyond the sea, and also beyond the known science of the time. It is truly amazing to contemplate all that God allowed man to learn/discover/invent/accomplish during that time period. Our boys have been drawing caravels and their own clever inventions all week!

What was different about this week:

Our two oldest children entered their first writing contest! We mailed off their essays early in the week, and will find out the results sometime in mid December. There is prize money for the top four essays in each of three age categories, as determined by their panel of judges. The prize money was great motivation! But aside from the possibility of winning money, I think it is a great experience, and I am glad for this learning opportunity. It turned out that daughter G and son G were in the same age bracket, so they were competing against each other! ;-)

Something else new this week was that son C began keyboarding! He is slowly learning how to type and how to place his hands correctly. He is highly motivated to begin typing the papers he is writing in writing class, rather than writing the final draft in cursive by hand, so he was super excited to start this new daily activity.

What worked well this week:

We had such a wonderful lesson one day that combined what we are learning in history with what we are learning in Bible. Our amazing history curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, has such comprehensive teacher's notes for each week. They give excellent background information on all the major themes and people covered each week, as well as how the trends of the time line up with Scripture. I especially appreciate how TOG looks at history through the lens of a biblical worldview, and since we are learning about worldviews in our Bible class, I was excited to do this lesson, following the teacher's notes in my history binder.

All of our children were present for this lesson, though the 9 and 6 year old were busy coloring a picture of an explorer's ship during our discussion. First of all we defined the term "humanism", which was prevalent as a movement during the renaissance. This is not exactly the secular humanism that we have today, but similar in some ways. We looked up the verses that you see on the whiteboard, and talked about the Romans 1 view of man and the Psalm 8 view of man. Which is the correct view of man, if viewed through the lens of Truth (Truth being God's Word)? The three older children all copied these notes into their history binder.

Which view of man was characterized by the Southern (Italian) Renaissance?

In two weeks we will be learning about the Northern Renaissance, and will compare and contrast how the Renaissance in the northern countries differed from the Renaissance that took place in Italy.

Great, great stuff, and such a great discussion! So helpful in teaching us discernment. One of the things I am thankful for during this Thanksgiving season is Tapestry of Grace!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pizza Party!

Last night we had some friends over and had a pizza party! We built our own individual pizzas, which was a first for our friends.

So many toppings.... what to choose, what to choose???

Daughter G always loads hers up with everything!

Son C's pizza face even had mushroom teeth!

After eating we did some art,

and watched "Tangled".

It was a fun time!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday's Thankful Things

Today I am thankful for....

My children. So thankful that they respond to us as their proper, God-given authority. They have their moments, of course, but they are characterized by obedience, and that is something I do not take for granted. That is all due to God's grace, not superior parenting on our part!!

Heat! So thankful for our lovely, working, safe furnace.

My husband's job. Thankful for God's provision through his employment.

My wonderful friends. I have the BEST friends. No, really, mine are the best.

The freedom to homeschool, and the amazing privilege it is.


We were watching a movie the other night that included a love story as part of the plot, and there was inevitably a kiss. Our boys were making choking noises and shielding their eyes, which made me laugh!

Son C: "Mommy, why are you laughing?"

Me: "Well, you're just acting so funny about this kiss. You've seen me and daddy kiss thousands of times and you don't do that when we kiss."

Son G: "Yeah, but you don't chew each other's mouths off!"

Son C: "The victims of these kisses always look like they are getting their faces chewed off!"

Really? Victims?

I predict they'll change their tune in another ten years or so (and please don't tell me it's less time than that! Let me have my dream.) And, in case you're wondering, the movie was "The Man from Snowy River" and the kiss was not very steamy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Strep test was negative. "Just" a virus.....

Third time in three months.

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Out with the Old, In with the New!

This is not going to seem very exciting to most of you, but is a huge answer to prayer and relief to us, and me in particular, and since this is my blog, I'm going to write about it! :-)

My husband has been employed now for eight months. In that time we have had to pay thousands (yes, thousands) of dollars to the water department for huge water bills. It is one of the things that has made our "catching up" so difficult, and has been incredibly stressful. During the time that my husband was unemployed our old hot water tank developed a leak, but it took us several months to figure it out. At first we thought it was a leak around the window from a bad rainstorm, but caulking that did not solve the problem. Then we thought it was the flange around our furnace vent on the top of the roof, but the furnace people came and made sure that seal was tight and we still had leakage on our basement floor. Finally we realized it was the hot water tank.

It is pretty hard to pay a huge water bill every month and save money for a new hot water tank, and just seeing the little trickle on our basement floor that led to the drain made me sick to my stomach. It was literally like pouring money down the drain.

But, finally, this was the month!!!

Our old hot water tank was taken to the curb where it was happily picked up by the metal recycle guy.

And our new tank was carefully carried in.

It was expertly installed by my husband and my dear friend Sally's husband.

It doesn't leak gas or water (both good things!) and is giving us lovely hot water whenever we want it, and no water at all when we don't. Lord willing, this will be the end of our exorbitant water bills!

I am thankful!

Thank you to our dear friends who helped make this possible, and thank you to the anonymous person who managed to pass along to us some cash at church last Sunday! I don't know how this person (or people) are finding out exactly when we need money, but we are humbled and grateful and choosing to see it as a lovely, undeserved gift from God!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

So Thankful

Okay, it's not Thursday, but I can't wait four days to share this!

Many of you know that I have struggled with plantar fasciitis for many years. About a year and a half ago it flared up really badly and I walked with a limp, experienced pain with every step, and simply didn't do a lot of things that required me to stand or walk. It really impacted my life in lots of little ways.

Last spring I had several weeks of physical therapy, got fitted for orthotics, and was taught an exercise regimen that I have (mostly) kept up with fairly well.


Our church is doing a special handbell choir for Christmas, and I was asked to join. I have always admired handbell choirs and secretly wished I could do that someday. We had our first rehearsal this afternoon and I STOOD FOR TWO HOURS STRAIGHT AND FELT NO PAIN!!!!!

A few short months ago it would have been unthinkable for me to even consider it. I was standing there, counting the notes and trying to be "on time" with my bells, and at the same time just rejoicing and thanking God that I even could be standing there, counting the notes.

I am so thankful!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I LOVE our Bible Curriculum!!

We are going through Book 1 of the "What We Believe" series by Apologia Press, called "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?" This is a four book biblical worldview series, geared for ages 6 to 14. Since our youngest is 6, and our oldest is 14, I thought perhaps it would be a perfect time to start this series together, and it has been wonderful. Love, love, love it.

I am loving the opportunity to systematically take our children through a course that teaches what worldviews are, what it means to have a biblical worldview, and how building our lives on the Rock of God's truth as opposed to the shifting sands of whatever seems good at the moment, is the best foundation for life.

There is an accompanying coloring book (which our two youngest use) and an accompanying spiral bound notebook (which our three oldest use) which give us the opportunity to interact with the material and write down (or color a picture of) what we are learning.

This is a little flapbook one of the boys made, with one page each, illustrating the seven ways to build our lives on the Rock of God's truth.

Then we talked about six ways to build our lives on sand. The older three copied these into their notebooks.

During each lesson there is a fun, hands on demonstration of one of the concepts presented. We had fun doing this optical illusion activity ~ to demonstrate that what we see with our eyes is not always the "truth". There was a fish bowl taped to one side of the pencil, and a fish taped to the other side. When we twisted the pencil between our hands really fast, it looked as if the fish was IN the fishbowl, when in fact it wasn't.

This is designed to be used a minimum of three days a week, which is how often we use it.

For my homeschooling friends who may have heard of the controversy surrounding this series in particular, I would encourage you to do your own research, pray, and then determine whether or not this would be a good fit for your family. And if you've never heard of the controversy, it basically centered on the fact that Dr. Jay Wile, author of the popular science series used by many homeschoolers, left Apologia (the company) because he couldn't agree with some of the doctrine taught in this worldview series, and the fact that his name had become virtually synonymous with Apologia led many people to assume that he endorsed every product published by Apologia Press, when in fact he did not.

Last summer my husband and I did copious amounts of reading on this issue, and read many reviews of the series (it is brand new, this is its first school year). We read Jay Wile's blog from back when he resigned from Apologia and every single comment. This information, coupled with prayer, allowed us to feel very comfortable teaching our children from this series, using it as the framework within which to disciple them as the Lord leads us. I am so thankful for the Lord's leading in this decision, as I am loving the book and the discussions that we are having as a result of it. Just another example of how we can trust God with every decision!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday's Thankful Things

Today I am thankful for....

My crockpot.

Our wonderful, lovely, beautiful, working furnace!

A soft bed to sleep in, with plenty of warm blankets (can you tell it got really cold today?!?).

The elder board at church, who collectively pray and trust God and are willing to make hard decisions for the future of our church even though at times that makes them unpopular.

My parents.

The fact that I have had more than one completely foot pain free day this week! If you had seen me eight months ago, wincing with each step, you would know how huge that is!

Our honest auto repair shop (even though we had yet another unexpectedly large repair this week!)


Sad Day

Yesterday was a sad day in our home.

For me personally, I was sad because someone I love died. Someone who encouraged me as a young adult, and was in many ways like a second mom to me. The rest of my family didn't know her so they weren't affected too much, but I had a hard time going through the motions yesterday, and I cried a lot.

Our three older children came home from youth groups (middle school and high school) last night all in tears. Our senior high youth pastor resigned, and our middle school youth pastor is temporarily moving up to cover his responsibilities, while our college pastor will take over the middle school. Our high school daughter was sad because she "only had 3 months with him" and our two middle school boys were sad because they love their middle school pastor and don't want to "lose him to the high school." Everyone was crying.

We sat and cried together. Then we talked. Everyone had a chance to share how they felt. We talked about change, and how hard that is sometimes. We want things to stay the way we like them. It was probably the first of many such talks. My heart hurts for all the kids who are hurting today, or maybe confused. I didn't want to be too "preachy" at such an emotional time, but I reminded the kids that God is always in control. This didn't surprise Him, He knew it was coming, and He has a plan for their youth group(s) and for them.

I am so grateful we still have children at home! Parenting is hard work, but every time I speak truth to my children, I hear it too. Even on the sad days, God is still God. And He is good.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Red Bread

Yes, you read that right!

For a couple weeks now, Little Man has been asking for red bread. He even put a sign on my mixer that asked for red bread, complete with the word "please" and lots of smiley faces. :-) So today was the day!

I mixed up a batch of bread dough, and we added red food coloring to one fourth of it.

It came out more marbled than truly red, but Little Man was happy, and that's all that mattered to me!

He had a red bread sandwich today, and declared it good!

I love doing things with my Little Man!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Leonardo da Vinci's Flying Machine - Finished!

Little Man, with help from his big sister, put the rope on our model of Leonardo's flying machine. Once that was done, it was finished!

Knotting so carefully.... look at that concentration!

Pulling on the little model man's arms and legs makes the wings flap down.....

and up!

Fun to make, and intriguing to think of all that Leonardo might have thought about.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Our Week In Review

We had a great week of school last week! We left the Middle Ages and moved on to the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Age of Exploration. I have been preparing for this unit in particular for quite some time, because the Reformation is such an important time period for us as believers, and this is the only time our daughter will go through this unit at the high school level. I feel a tremendous responsibility to cover this material well.

As a "hook" to reel in the children's interest, I put this Leonardo da Vinci treasure box on the school table, and it was waiting for the children on Monday morning. I have had this for literally years, waiting for the time when we'd go through Year 2 at a time that my children were old enough to do the activities themselves, and this is that time!

They immediately began putting together a small model of Leonardo's flying machine, based on his sketches.

Everyone did a part of it. Very cool to see it coming together! We talked about why it probably wouldn't have worked (too heavy to get off the ground), and what could be done to improve on Leonardo's design.

As many movements do, the Renaissance began slowly and quietly about one hundred years before Leonardo's birth. We learned about Petrarch, the father of humanism, who is credited by many as the one whose ideas sparked the Renaissance. He was a writer and poet who emphasized human potential and human achievement. We talked about this from a biblical perspective. More on that later. In the field of painting, Giotto is considered the first truly "renaissance" artist. We looked at a variety of his work in different art books.

This is a great little book we checked out from the library!

Leonardo studied mathematical concepts extensively, particularly proportion and ratio, and applied what he learned to his art. He also illustrated at least one mathematician's book; among his illustrations were these polyhedra. Sons G and L copied the shapes using small marshmallows and toothpicks. They had a lot of fun building these!

They finished with an octahedron (8 sided figure), an icosahedron (20 sided figure) and a rhombicuboctahedron (26 sided figure). See if you can say that fast three times!

What worked well this week:

A few years ago I bought lots of scholastic paperback book/cassette tape sets at a garage sale for cheap. Now that we finally have a place for this (yay!), Little Man began to listen to one story a day. He has loved this!

His time with his older brother C is continuing to work really well, also. Every day they look forward to doing an activity together. Some of the activities we had this week were: dot to dot markers,

a variety of lace ups,

and some homemade file folder games.