Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cottage Weekend!

We had another wonderful weekend at the family cottage ~ we were there with several other relatives, so that was fun.  The cottage is directly across a road that runs right by a river, so we typically go down to the dock mid to late morning with a cooler of food for lunch and then spend the rest of the day on the dock!

Some older teenage boys were visiting the cottage next door to ours (owned by relatives, so we are over there a lot too), and one of them gave daughter G a jetski ride.  I politely grilled him before setting out, and had another opportunity to "let go" a bit when he took off down the river with my baby!  There were lots of teenagers next door, and it was a new experience for her to be included in a group setting like that with people she doesn't know well. 

 Uncle Brian horsing around with Little Man.  We coordinated our weekend up to be there with Uncle Brian (who owns all the cool watercraft.... yes, we know how to plan!)


Our beautiful daughter!

Son C.  This is a typical "clearness" of the river water. 

Handsome son L.

Son G knee boarding.....

and kayaking!!!
Son L kayaking.

This picture illustrates something I love about going to the cottage.  Our children are growing up knowing their second cousins well!  Little Man and his cousin K have been meeting at the cottage a couple or more times every summer for their entire lives, and they are great friends.  It is a wonderful thing to have such a fun meeting spot!  For that I am very grateful.

Monday, July 30, 2012

We went to the cottage this past weekend....

and this is what I brought back with me!

Stupid, stupid mommy, forgot to put sunscreen on herself!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Central Command

I have been getting an astonishing amount of school prep done for this fall.  Astonishing compared to last summer, when I got virtually nothing done ahead of time (extenuating circumstances).  So thankful for the time this summer to get ready!  It makes such a difference in my outlook and anticipation of the year.  This is my "central command" for school prepping.  I have been focusing on our history/geography studies, as that provides the backbone for everything else we do.

On the chair you can see a tall stack of books with green dots on the spines.  Those are our new books for this go round through Year 3 of Tapestry of Grace (19th century).  Last time we went through Year 3 we did not have a high schooler, so this time we needed the high school level books.  I was able to purchase a good portion of them used.  Woot!  The green dots signify that these are Year 3 books, and on the dot is written what learning level the book is for, and which unit during the year it is used.  The large green binder is my Tapestry Unit 1 teacher book, and as I "dotted" all the new books, I went through the binder and marked the books that we own (many!) and the books that I will have to get from the library.

Under my reading glasses is a weekly planning book that I made myself.  It is not a planner in the sense that we could use it to write in all our assignments for every subject, it is simply a tool to help me plan out each Tapestry week.  What books will each of my children be reading for literature that week?  The ones Tapestry recommends, or a substitution?  What will each child's writing assignment be?  What hands on activities will we do, or movies will we watch that coincide with our history studies?  Is there a president to add to our Presidents Books that week?  New states added to the union?  Are there any "extra" things that we already own that would be fun to fit in that week?  I printed off 36 copies of this single sheet planner and took them to FedEx/Kinko's to be spiral bound.  I have been happily filling in things for all 36 weeks, but focusing on the first 9 weeks of the year (unit 1).

We belong to a Tapestry virtual co-op,  and as it happens this year our very-end-of-summer vacation will cause us to miss the first three weeks of class.  I had to think through how to handle that ~ whether or not to require reading/schoolwork while on vacation (no), how to get the children up to speed on the flow of history up to the point where we will jump in (Story of the World audio cd's while driving), and how to handle our first week of school, which will be week 5 of unit 1.  By God's grace I have a plan in place that I think is doable for us, given the fact that we'll be getting home and jumping right in at full speed with tired, travel-weary bodies and minds.

Long time readers will know that we love, love, love Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and have used it for our writing curriculum for many years.  For the first time this year we are not using a new IEW product as the spine to our writing, but I am creating my own writing assignments for each child the IEW "way", using topics from our history studies as the content for each assignment.  We will be writing on topics that we read about and discussed the week before, allowing us to follow the read-discuss-write sequence that Tapestry so strongly recommends.  I am so excited about this!!  It has been really fun for me to go through each child's books and ponder the best writing assignment at their level that will bring everything together in their minds (Lord willing!), and help develop the way they think about key ideas. 


At least at this moment. ;-)

I love making plans, and I love even more seeing them bear fruit in my children's minds and hearts.  To disciple one's children, and see first hand the character development as it is happening, is such an incredible privilege.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Life is Hard....but God is good

I told the children about the Aurora CO theater shootings tonight at dinner.  Little Man's first reaction was, "I'm never going to a movie theater again!" which led to a good discussion about fear ~ should we live in fear?  Should we not live in fear?  If not, why?  Son G brought it back to our worldview studies this past year, and said that since God was sovereign and in control, we could trust Him with our lives.

Son L's first reaction was to say, "we should pray for those people."  So we did.  Actually he did.  He led us in a wonderful, heartfelt prayer for the families of those who died, and for those wounded and those who were okay but were there and probably traumatized by the event.  It was sweet and sincere and touched me deeply.

This was tragic and horrible and evil.  But in spite of it, there are already at least two good things coming out of it in the lives of our children.

Life is hard, but God is good.

Here are two other blog posts about the shooting that will impact you if you read them.  One is written from a wife/mom who was there with her two teenaged daughters, and one is written by a friend of one of the girls who was shot (and lived).  Both very well written and amazing!  I encourage you to read them!



Sunday, July 22, 2012

It's Official!!!

Son L, age 12, has surpassed daughter G, age 15, in height!

She will no longer ever be the tallest child.

We measured L last night and he has grown nearly half an inch just in the last six weeks.  No wonder he is always eating and sleeping!  He is pretty happy to have the title of "tallest", and G is pretty okay with it.

It won't be long before he passes me!  I predict before Christmas. :/

Friday, July 20, 2012

Our Week in Review

I had such a great week!  It was the perfect blend of play and productivity.  LOVE when that happens!

We enjoyed a fun afternoon swimming with these sweet little friends:

Got a lot of printing done for this upcoming year of school.  All the timeline figures for the entire year, all the maps for Unit 1 of history (9 weeks).  Made, printed, and bound my very own school weekly planner thingie.  That's its official name. ;-)  Planned when to read these lovely gems that I purchased used from another homeschool mom who has just graduated her last child!  sniff, sniff

A couple months ago I went to a warehouse book giveaway and brought all these gems home for free!   The bottom five were all brand new, still in their shrink wrap (all Jane Austen books, except for Crime and Punishment), and will be read by our high schooler.  The top two are literature books for son C to read this year (fifth grade).

Our 10th grader's chemistry book came in the mail.  It looks pretty daunting.  I will be reading/learning it along with her, so it will stretch me!

Also got the half bath cleaned.  Yay!  (votemom, you can use it now)
Load of stuff by the door taken to Salvation Army.  Double yay!!
Bag of clothes sold to a consignment store.  Triple yay!!!
Read outloud to all the children for 30 minutes every day.  Quadruple yay!!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bedroom Makeover Complete!

We finished putting the bedroom back together literally minutes before going to pick up son G from his mission trip, but we got it DONE!  Here are the promised before/after pics.  I am being vulnerable here and showing you how incredibly messy it was before.  This would be due to several months of the boys "cleaning" it themselves without enough direction and help from mom.  I think I am just as happy about it being NEAT as I am about it being repainted!  And they are highly motivated now to keep it clean, so we shall see....

BEFORE ~ bed was red.  Rug was beige.  Night stand was cluttered with stuff.  Chair rail molding and primary colored border I put on myself when I was hugely prego with baby #4 (which was son C ~ got it done immediately before being put on bedrest with him as I recall!  If I ever talk about putting wallpaper or a border up again, somebody please threaten me with bodily harm!).  These boys have a knack for covering every horizontal surface with S.T.U.F.F. so the whole first day we spent just clearing surfaces and emptying the room.

AFTER ~ walls are green.  Bed is spray painted brown.  We left the hardwood floor and just put a small area rug by the bed to look like grass.  "Curtain" is a strand of plastic plant - boys love how it fits their jungle-ish decor now, but it will be super easy to change in the future!  Nightstand has storage so (hopefully) less clutter on top.

BEFORE ~ messy desk corner.

AFTER ~ cleared off desk!  I love how crisp and clean the room looks with the solid green walls.  This corner shows the two different shades of green we used.  Wall on left is a bit lighter than the wall on the right.  Two walls are light, two are dark.  This was a compromise, as the boys wanted the darker color and the parents wanted the lighter color.

BEFORE ~ cluttered book case corner.

AFTER ~ cleared out book case corner!  The boys need to do a second pass through these shelves and find more items to bless the Salvation Army with.  They were able to fill two bags completely on their own though, with no input from me - progress!  Yay!

BEFORE ~ closet that didn't work well.  The previous owners had tried to make the closet space functional, with two rods on the right side (one high, one low), one rod high on the left, and built in shelves down the middle.  Without room for dressers, one boy used the middle shelves for clothes, and we put a plastic drawer tower in there on the left for the other boy (the space was way too narrow for a dresser - trust me, I looked!).  Neither place worked well for clothes and they were constantly spilling out onto the floor.

AFTER ~ this may be my very favorite thing about this room!  Doesn't the closet look ORGANIZED??!  We took out the bottom right rod and bought matching wire drawers that fit the clothes perfectly.  We may get sliding panel doors to hide the closet eventually, but I actually like to see how organized it is, and it's easy for the boys to get things in and out!

We have a couple pictures left to hang, but otherwise the room is DONE, and the boys love it so much they are hanging out there constantly!  And I have a huge sense of accomplishment in getting this project checked off my to do list. :0)

Friday, July 13, 2012

It is good to be the mom....

The mom gets texts from the children who are away!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Making Progress on the Room Makeover!

Today is day 3 of the bedroom makeover, and we're nearing completion!  Yesterday son C finished scraping off the wallpaper border.  He worked alongside me nearly all day and was such a trooper!  I'm so thankful he is such a good, hard worker.

Also yesterday I got the first coat on two walls (pictured), and this morning put the second coat on, so two walls are DONE!

Today we are working on the other two walls, which are a slightly different shade of green.  First coat is drying as I type, and trim is nearly done.  So cool to see it taking shape beneath our hands!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mission Trip!

Our son G left today for his first ever mission trip.  It is a week long trip, doing heavy work projects for a small christian camp.  I am super excited for him to have this experience ~ bonding with the other boys (and a few girls!), working as a team, learning spiritual lessons from real life, and working hard for the benefit of others.

It is his first time to be away from us for a significant amount of time, and I have to say, it feels different for this mama to send a boy off than it has to send our girl off.  Not really easier or harder exactly, but definitely different.  He just texted me (at 11:00 p.m.!) and my heart is happy and content to have heard from him.

Daughter G also left this morning to spend 5 days at the family cottage, so we are down to three children for the week.  And you know what we're going to be doing??  PAINTING a bedroom that was promised last year!  I'm praying for both of the children that are away, for those that are here, and that all of us will have a productive and bonding week.

I took a bunch of "before" pics of the bedroom, and will, Lord willing, post "after" pics the end of the week!  I know I always say that, but this time I really will.  (I hope, I hope)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Transparency Map Project

Our history curriculum comes with a wonderful set of maps to learn geography right along with history.  For rhetoric (high school) students they suggest using transparency overlays for the mapwork, rather than straight paper maps, and we chose to do this with our daughter G this past year.  It was something she really enjoyed, making geography more "artsy" for her, and therefore probably sticking better in her memory!

Here is a set of pictures showing how the transparency maps work.  These are from this past spring, as we learned about the Revolutionary War.  First she started with a base map that was printed onto cardstock.  It had boundary lines for the colonies already printed on it, as well as some geographical features such as mountains and major rivers.  She added nothing to this base map (sometimes the base maps are more sparse and I have her add a few features directly to the cardstock base map first).

This particular set of map overlays spanned two weeks.  The first week she did two overlays, and the second week just one.  The first overlay showed the northern, middle, and southern colonies (in different colors).

Later that week, the second overlay showed early battles of the Revolutionary War. Those won by the Americans are shown in blue, while those won by the British are shown in red.  Place names (of the battles) are also labeled.

The following week our daughter added this third overlay to show the later battles of the war.  She lined up all the info in the "key" so that no writing would be on top of the writing from a previous overlay (click on photos to see larger).

When looking at the whole thing, as long as the transparencies are lined up, it is not confusing at all, but a wonderful visual representation of dates, places, and battles that she learned about!

We have found that not all weeks lend themselves well to a transparency project; on those weeks our daughter does paper maps like everyone else.  But whenever possible (I do try to look ahead and plan for it) the transparency maps are a fun way for her to do map making!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Birthday America!


How grateful I am for your birth.

More than two hundred years later it is hard for us to imagine how difficult your birth must have been, but as I try to put myself in the colonists' shoes, I feel an overwhelming sense of awe and gratitude.

Daughter G with her TX cousin!

It is not a small thing to separate from a homeland and create a new one.  It was not done lightly.  And the ensuing war was horrific, as wars are.

My brother in law and father in law.


My mother in law and sister in law.

But the right to be heard and represented was felt so deeply and desired so strongly.  After years of tyranny at the hands of British kings, the colonists had had enough.

Me and my father in law, sweating it out by the river!

And they were willing to lay down their lives if necessary, for the right to be included in the governing process.

 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins.

Thank you, founding fathers, for your vision and perseverance.  Thank you, God, for keeping your hand on our small nation when it was so new, and so assaulted by bigger, more powerful governments.  Thank you, servicemen and women, for continuing to guard our liberties and our heritage of freedom.  God, forgive us for thinking we could govern ourselves.  How desperately we need you!  

"If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14.