Monday, September 23, 2013

I have decided that I hate smart phones.  They are huge time suckers, make people feel obligated to respond/be connected to others 24/7, tempt people with irresponsible web surfing/downloading, and did I mention they are huge time suckers?

Of course, what I really hate is the individual user's immaturity and lack of self control, and the fact that our culture convinces young teens that they need smart phones.  I know there is nothing inherently wrong with the smart phone itself.  But let me just live in my little delusional world and be mad at smart phones for awhile, okay?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Soccer, soccer, and more soccer!

Fall soccer season is in full swing.  This fall all four of our boys are in soccer ~ and yes, you guessed it, each one of them is on a different team with a different schedule.  Yes, CRAZY!  This upcoming week alone we have 10 different soccer events, either games or practices.

BUT.... in spite of the craziness, I am really thankful for these soccer teams.  Our two oldest boys, 14 and 13, had aged out of the small christian soccer league we had participated in for many years, and needed a new place to land.  They are now playing recreational soccer on our city league, and are rubbing shoulders with lots of different boys from different backgrounds, learning to function well as a team, and having an opportunity to be lights for Jesus.  They are also learning how to be competitive but gracious in both winning and losing, which can be a tricky balance.  And I am of the strong opinion that growing teen boys need to do hard physical activity on a regular basis.  Here is son G, in the black, at his first game:

And son L at his first game yesterday.  The field was big and he was always playing on the far side of it, so I wasn't able to get a shot of him actually playing, but he played well!  Their team won a hard-fought victory against a team they have had a rivalry with for a long time (apparently), so it was extra sweet.

Our younger boys, 11 and 8, are still playing in the christian league, where my husband is a coach.  Here is my hubby cheering on one of his players as he was running onto the field before the first game! 

For the first time we have to "divide and conquer".  We can't all watch every game.  But the benefits of soccer outweigh the craziness of this schedule..... I think. :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Our Week in Review

This week we finished up our three week study of World War I.  We learned how, sadly, the peace terms at the end of World War I laid the groundwork for World War II, in spite of the fact that President Wilson had wanted it to be the war that ended all wars.  What a tragic thing war is, and what a complicated thing peace can be!

Son C, reading history while munching on popcorn.

I am being very intentional this year about including Little Man in our history studies.  Last year was so full of "life lessons" that some of his schooling, namely history, was sorely neglected.  He gleaned quite a bit from his older siblings studies' and the conversations we would have as a family, but I really want to do a better job this year of reading books and doing activities at his level that help make history come alive for him.  During these weeks that we've been learning about World War I, he and I have been reading through this book:

What a great book for elementary students!  Among other things we learned how WWI experienced so much trench warfare, and what daily life was like for soldiers in the trenches.  I have a fresh perspective on that phrase ("in the trenches") after reading about how horrible the conditions were for the soldiers who lived, slept, ate, waited, and agonized in those muddy pits.  Little Man and I made a trench warfare scene out of clay to help illustrate what we'd learned.

We learned about the front lines (closest to the enemy), the support/supply lines, and the reserve lines farthest back.  These three types of lines were connected by "communicating trenches" or by tunnels.  Food was brought forward for the men in the front lines to eat.  They had trench bakeries and kitchens, and trench hospitals.  It was usually very loud in and near the trenches from all the shelling and firing going on.  Men in the front lines had to listen to the groans of the wounded up in "no man's land" ~ the area between the facing front lines of both sides.  No wonder so many of the men who survived came home completely shell shocked. 

God gave me a fabulous idea for daughter H's history studies this year.  So much of the 20th century was about war.  And war is depressing to learn about after awhile.  Especially when you see through the lens of hind sight how man did not learn the lessons he should have learned from each conflict.  So rather than studying the wars in depth I am having daughter H read biographies of individual people that lived during each conflict, and the difference they made while living in horrific times.  Right now she is reading With Daring Faith, a biography of Amy Carmichael, missionary to India.  What an amazing, faith building story Amy's life is!  When we talk about our weekly history topics as a family, daughter H can bring a whole new perspective to our conversation.  I am so grateful for God's wisdom and faithfulness to give me insight as I planned our school year.  He is so good!

In other subjects, Little Man has started formal grammar this year.  We use a curriculum called Easy Grammar, and at the beginning of each level they have the student memorize a list of prepositions.  Prepositions are useful to know, as they are the first word in a prepositional phrase, and the subject and verb of a sentence will never be found inside of a prepositional phrase.  Little Man absolutely loves grammar.  It makes my heart sing that he is so in love with something that most other children strongly dislike (in other words, he doesn't know he is "supposed" to dislike it!).  One day each week he and son C and I play "prepositional bingo" with chocolate chips as place holders.  The first one to get bingo (or in this case, yell out "prepositions!") gets 5 extra chocolate chips and then we get to eat all the ones on our bingo sheet.  Hmmm, could this be why Little Man loves grammar so much?


Son C has learned well (and Little Man is just beginning to learn) how to cross out the prepositional phrases in sentences in order to find the subject and the verb.

We had our first day of co-op this past week, too!  Our first class is at 9:30 a.m., and our last class ends at 5:00 p.m., with various hours off for each of the children throughout the day.  This picture was taken after we got home and everyone was tired from the long day, but we did have a great first day!  The children loved most of their classes, and I absolutely loved the two that I am teaching, especially high school English.  Even though it will be a lot of work to prepare for each week, it will be a wonderful outlet for me and another way to use my God-given gift of teaching.  I am so thankful!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

When Little Man gets the camera......

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

First Day of School ~ 2013

We started school on August 21 this year, a little earlier than any of us wanted to start, but start we did!  We talked a bit about what we would be learning in Year 4 of Tapestry of Grace (the 20th century), and then we made our traditional cookie dough maps!  We made them of Europe this time, as we would soon be learning about World War I.  For more information on how we make our cookie dough maps, go here.

It's rather tricky to form dough into the shape of Europe, but the children did a wonderful job.

Daughter G laboriously separated green and red sprinkles in order to use different colors for the Allies and the Central Powers on her map.

Daughter H adding chocolate chip mountains.

The maps puffed up during baking, but still look good don't you think?  Daughter H's:

Son L's:

Son C's:

Son G's (before baking):

Daugher G's, also before baking:

And Little Man's:

We ate about a third of our maps afterward, and ate the rest over the next few days.  We had an awesome time making and eating Europe!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Be Creative

I vividly remember one evening as a teenager when I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.  There were leftover spaghetti noodles, and leftover sauce, but only one available tupperware container.  We didn't normally mix the two so I was stymied how to store them.  When I asked my mom what to do, she said two words to me, "be creative."

I'm sure she had no idea how much those two little words would impact my life! 

Over the years her admonishment to "be creative" has given me the freedom to do things a little differently.  To think outside the box.  To find ways to get the job done, even if I didn't have all the typical "tools."  Perfection was no longer the goal.  My solution could be different....atypical.... creative!

I thought of the spaghetti storage incident recently, as I was frantically trying to get one new wall in the schoolroom painted to match the rest of the room.  It was the school room side of a bedroom wall we had put up just this summer.  It was late at night and we needed to use the room the next day.  After painting two other rooms the preceding week I was ready to just be done with painting, but I set my face to the task of painting one more time.  It had to be done.  I was ready to whip this thing out.

Then I realized that I didn't have a clean paint tray.  I had recently used our last disposable tray to paint H's bedroom turquoise.  What to do?  I could go to the large 24 hour super store or I could wait until the next day.  Or.... I could be creative and make a third option!

I chose to "be creative."

This is exactly what I did with the spaghetti all those years ago, too!  I layered them in the one tupperware, with saran wrap between.  For the paint job, I covered the turquoise encrusted tray with plastic drop cloth, poured in the red paint, and started in.

The wall got painted.  Bookshelves got put back in place.  We used the school room the next morning.... with pleasure.

Thanks, mom, for your words of wisdom to me all those years ago.  They were probably spoken casually, in the moment, and you probably don't even remember saying them.  But for some reason that was a teachable moment for me.  God used those words to begin teaching me a very important truth. Aside from moral issues, there really isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to do things.  Each person does things in their own way, and that's okay.  It's what makes us each "creative."  What a powerful thing for a teen to learn!  I also began to learn that I could figure things out on my own.  I didn't need to be told how to do every. single. thing.

I need to remember that, and live it, as I help teach my own children how to live and work and function effectively in a family.  Can I let go of "my" way of washing the dishes?  If the children don't fold their clothes the way I would, does that really matter?  They may have a different system for cleaning the bathroom than I do, but if the bathroom is clean in the end, isn't that the goal?

Help me, Lord, to let my children be creative, even as my mom let me be creative.  Help me to remember that my children need permission to figure things out for themselves.  Help me to let them go, bit by bit, as they approach adulthood.   Help me to let them