Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Are Those Things?

So, for most of her very short life, EG has not worn shoes. And if she has, it has been flip-flops (what did we ever do before flip-flops?) It really only presents a problem when we are going into someplace and I have to carry her. Which I would anyway because it is a whole lot easier then trying to keep track of her.

The other day we went somewhere and she had to have shoes on. When she does where shoes and because they are usually flip-flops, she tends to take them off where ever we are. This time, though, where ever we were going (I just can't seem to remember), I needed for her to keep them on. So, I decided to put tennis shoes and socks on her.

As I was trying to get them on her, she was getting kind of impatient. She wasn't really sure what was going on. I mean she knew they were shoes and all, but they just felt so weird on her feet. So confining I guess.

When she stood up to walk, she looked so awkward. She would pick up her foot and try to shake her shoe off. I explained that she needed to leave them on. Watching her walk was hysterical. She would take over exaggerated steps. And almost trip over her own feet.

This was all about a week ago. She hasn't worn shoes since. Thank heavens we live in a climate where shoes are optional about 9 months out of the year . . .

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Love Boop This Much

His birthday is Thursday. It is so hard for me to believe that he will be six. My baby boy is going to be six.

At night when I tuck him in, he covers his face so I cannot give him a good night kiss. But, I persist and always win. He acts all offended and then tells me to try again! But I can tell, on his face, that he deep down in his heart, wants me to tuck him and kiss him good night.

He is my early riser. He is usually up way before seven. He joins me on the couch for quiet time and will usually go back to sleep until I am out of the shower. Because he is the only one up we take advantage of our time together. He looks forward to us doing his quiet time and then immediately after, he wants to have a reading lesson. Then if time permits we read a fun book together. He is usually done with school by 7:30AM. And he loves that! (I wish all of my students were so motivated!)

Grandma is coming tonight and will take him out for lunch tomorrow. He will go to soccer with daddy on Thursday and hopefully get a haircut. School will be closed for the day in honor of his birth. We will have a family birthday party on Thursday night and Boop's best friend will be there. (And will get to spend the night.)

I am so excited to celebrate his birthday. I hope he has a wonderful day . . .

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Love Nature Girl This Much

Nature Girl has magic fingers. She excels in giving back rubs, massages and head rubs for daddy.

I woke up this morning with a neck and backache and it hasn't gone away.

Finally, I laid down on the floor and had NG do her thing. Oh my word is really all I can say.

She offered to do my feet as well but we needed to get back to business (math.)

I don't know how she developed the skill. Or if it is just a gift. But, I am very, very thankful she has it.

It is going on my 1000 Gifts list today . . .

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Things I Have Learned From a Dishwasher

Or, how about, things I have learned about life from NOT having a dishwasher.

Today will be day number 11, I think, without a dishwasher. (After 2 who can keep track.) Our 15 year old dishwasher gave out almost two weeks ago. At the end, I was running it twice, hoping, just hoping, the dishes would come out clean. To no avail. I had to give up my valiant fight.

The next day we bought a new one, with a promise from the store it would be delivered and installed in 7 days. They told the truth. It was delivered in 7 days, it just happened to be the wrong one.

When the right one was delivered yesterday (a week later), none to soon I might add, the store forgot to schedule an installment crew. So, my much needed dishwasher is now sitting in the garage. Hubby had to work yesterday and is working all day and evening today. So, nothing will be done until tomorrow.

I don't know what is worse, waiting on it to arrive. Or, knowing it is here and in the garage!?! Hubby accused me, jokingly of course, of putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher in the garage, hoping they would get washed. ;)

I have learned some very valuable things, though, being dishwasherless:

It isn't necessarily a necessity.

It is a WONDERFUL convenience that I am eternally grateful for.

It is time consuming washing dishes three times a day for at least 5 peeps.

You don't need as many place settings when you are always washing dishes. And, the dishes are always clean.

It is a great time to "check out" of life. It is a chore that needs to be done, yet, it is a very thoughtless process. I took the time, while washing dishes to mentally take a break. (One unexpected blessing.)

I get dishpans hands very easily. Dishgloves were on sale BOGO at the grocery store. (Yet another unexpected blessing.)

My hubby does dishes differently than I do. (Don't be too jealous, he only tried to do them once. Have I mentioned he has other very redeeming qualities though?)

Through the whole "wrong dishwasher, forgot to reschedule installer" thing, my children were able to witness my example of showing people kindness and patience and understanding while I was really wanting to emphatically explain to them how really tired I was of doing dishes.

Little Mama and Boop truly have servant's hearts. LM always offered (and I accepted a couple times) to do the dishes. And Boop, balked at, but ended up enjoying, drying them.

Even though I have learned some very valuable things about myself and my family, be sure that my bedtime prayers will include a small plea to ensure that no problems occur tomorrow with the jubilant expectation of the installation of my brand new dishwasher.

If there are any hiccups with tomorrow's installation, you all just might hear me scream. I am kidding, of course. Sort of . . .

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

1000 Gifts

Which is totally stolen from A Holy Experience blog. And if you have never read anything by Ann Voskamp, I encourage you to do so. I consider her way more "spiritual" then me, so it is sometimes hard for me to read and understand what she writes. But others say it is just her writing style, which can be somewhat "difficult" to comprehend.

Anyway, she has had a number of struggles in her life and has written a book called One Thousand Gifts. I will be honest, I have not read it. Yet. But, I know many people who have. And I had dinner with one such person about a month ago. She told me that the book got its beginning (if I understood correctly) because she, Ann Voskamp, was struggling with life and decided decided to find out if she could come up with 1000 things she was thankful for. And a book came out of it. (Obviously very general sketch here.)

The woman I was talking with said that she started a similar list in her own home. She placed it somewhere where she could see it daily. And she keeps adding to it, as thankful things come along. And then, if she is having a hard day, she looks at the list and it helps to remind her of things she is thankful for.

I loved, loved, loved the idea. So I stole, stole, stole the idea. I am not a thankful person by nature. What I mean is, I have to remind myself to give thanks. Constantly. And I usually forget. (Although, when I do stop to think about it, it is not very hard for me to find things to be thankful for.)

So, I took some of my pretty cardmaking paper and some stamps and made a 1000 Gifts list and hung it on the side of our pantry, in the kitchen. And, as I think of things to be thankful for or if something happens that makes me smile, I add it to the list.

Some of the things I have added, that I am thankful for are: the Cross, the faith my hubby has in me, books, EG in pigtails, and the big girls dancing. When I start feeling grumpy, I try to remember to look at the list and something on there will usually change my thought process. Or, at least make me smile.

Just recently I received an email from a blog called Proverbs 31. The post was about how our thoughts have wheels. My thoughts take me somewhere. I need to be careful what I think about because those thoughts will either take me to a good place or a bad place. Which usually causes me to act/react in certain ways.

I can see this sooooo prevalently in my life. If something gets me down or annoys me, my actions follow suit real quick. But it is hard to control what rolls around in my brain. Especially when something annoys me! But I hate, hate, hate how something that is stuck in my brain can make me react in an unfavorable way to the life that is going on around me.

As with many things in life, it is all about choice. Some choices are easier to make then others. I know that if I just choose to be thankful, my attitude will change. God says in the bible "a merry heart makes a cheerful countenance." And the list is a way to help me to choose to have a merry heart.

I don't know if I will make it to 1000 anytime soon. But, when I look up at my beginning list, I can't help but have just a little change of heart . . .

Friday, September 16, 2011

Constitution Celebration

The whole crew in front of the Capitol

In the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol

Benjamin Franklin

Patrick Henry

James and Dolley Madison

Special presentation by highschoolers who just happened to be homeschool kids and they had won the State History Fair
Lincoln/Douglas Debates

Yesterday was a busy, but good day. We had book club in the morning and heard reports from about 10 kids on Harriet Beecher Stowe. I love every one's different perspectives. This year we have boys in our club so it is cool to hear their thoughts too!

Then we had a science experiment about smooth muscles and our intestines. It involved nylons, a lump of clay and squeezing. It was a great visual, once again, on how our body works. Specifically how food moves through our bodies. Thanks K and D for making that possible!

Next was lunch and a little socializing and then off to the Old Capitol for a presentation celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. The presentation was geared toward middle and highschoolers but we brought the whole crew, ages 5-10.

We are studying Early American History so this fit right in. I am sure the kids didn't get as much out of it as I did, but I know they heard some things that we have talked about and they heard some names and events that we will be getting to. (My favorite was Dolley Madison and the Lincoln/Douglas debate.)

Anyway, the above pictures of the event were taken by my friend (which I have copied from Facebook.) Thanks K for always having your camera handy . . . !

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Work in Progress: Salt Map of Egypt

One of my goals for the last two years has been to find a curriculum that teaches World History and Biblical History together. Instead of two separate subjects. I have asked questions, I have reviewed books, I have gotten advice. But, nothing floated my boat. It was never exactly what I was looking for. (Mostly because I was never really sure what I was looking for.)

Then some how I stumbled on a Bible/History/Geography curriculum from Simply Charlotte Mason. The guide is called Genesis through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt. It is a family study handbook that incorporates chapters in the bible and living books that flesh out biblical and corresponding world history.

It recommends some really great, age appropriate, living books and great hands on activities to help visualize the time and place in history. We are four weeks into the study and I am really, really pleased with what the kids are learning (and myself.)

For the moment, it is just what I am looking for . . .

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mommy Moment

Today, while reading Plutarch's Lives with NG, we were going over the discussion questions at the end of our reading section. The section of Publicola we read was about how Brutus had to kill his own sons because of their treachery. (They had plotted to kill him so the Roman king could take leadership away from the Consuls.)

One of the discussion questions had us look up the verses in 2 Samuel, where David had to make a similar choice with his own son Absalom. As I was reading the question to NG, she said "I was thinking about David and Absalom while you were reading the story."

I was taken aback. There are so many times through out the day that I wonder if connections are being made in each child's brain. For the most part, on the outside, it doesn't seem that way. (So I question our methods.) And then NG goes ahead and makes a statement that just blows my mind.

We went ahead and read the verses together and then took a little bit to discuss David and Brutus' dilemma. They had to make choices that gravely affected their personal lives for the sake of many, many others. We discussed what each thought was right and what we would do in that situation.

When we finished our discussion I told her how great I thought it was to discuss that stuff with her. (I was a proud mama.) It made me feel like maybe, just maybe, we are on the right track. Reaping some of the benefits of our schooling. I immediately thanked God for that little blessing and answer to pray I have been looking for. . .

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ice Cream Social

About 2 months ago, I got a wild hair to have an Ice Cream Social with all of our cul-de-sac neighbors. (Well, not so much a wild hair, I stole the idea from a friend.) Anyway, I did up, what I thought to be some really cute invites and went about knocking on neighbors doors to invite them.

We also included our LifeGroup from church and a handful of neighbors we have known for a long time. We bought tons of ice cream (way too much), some sprinkles and whipped cream (which we forgot to put out), bananas and nuts for sundaes and cups and root beer and coke for floats.

We gathered in our living room, with some of the kids outside, and just had a really nice time either getting to know each other or getting to know each other better. It didn't turn out exactly how I thought it would (nothing ever does) but there was still a big bunch of people here and it was a great way to bring in fall and celebrate the start of a brand new school year.

I didn't take any pictures because, honestly, I forgot. I guess I was too busy chit chatting away. But, the picture of EG, after the get together, about sums it up . . .

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Science, Part 2

Our very first science experiment this year was to mummify an apple. I had the kids guess what would happen over the week that the apples just sat. They did pretty good in guessing. None of them would touch the mummified apple when the experiment was over. Can't say as I blame them. I touched it though, and was surprised how soft it was. It was kind of cool to see how the baking powder mixture kept the one apple from rotting.

Our most recent experiment involved an egg, a small contain, masking tape and some water. The egg is our brain, the container is our skull and the water is the fluid between the brain and skull. We took an egg, placed it in a small Tupperware container and dropped it on the ground. It smashed.

Then we took another egg, placed it in the same container but filled it with water and taped it shut. And then dropped it. It did not crack.

The whole experiment was to show us the importance of the fluid around the brain and how God designed it just to protect our brain from slamming into our skull when we hit our head. Which happens a lot around here.

It was a great visual example of the workings of our body . . .

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Weird Science

What can you make out of two boxes of yellow jello, peanut M&Ms, Nerds, chocolate sprinkles and Skittles??

Why a cell, of course! This year, by far, the kids' favorite subject is Science. We are working through an awesome book on anatomy and physiology. It is a lot of information that the kids have never heard before. And, neither have I!

Skittles (lysosomes), M&Ms (mitochondria), Nerds (ribosomes), tubular cake sprinkles (centrioles)

We still do a lot of reading but the kids also have a really great notebook/journal that goes along with the book. It has a number of great activities and lots of space to write notes or draw pictures about what they remember or find interesting.

But, the best part, hands down, has been the experiments and the "Try This" parts of the book. This is just one of the experiments we have done so far. (More to follow.) As much as I would like to say that the kids' favorite part of this experiment was seeing how a cell "looks", in all reality, the totally enjoyed eating it . . .

Monday, September 5, 2011

School According to Daddy

I have a confession about the perception I have had of hubby and school. I confess that I felt there was a lack of involvement on his part. And there were days that I felt kind of bad about that. For a lot of different reasons.

It has only recently come to my attention, that it is not a lack of involvement on his part, but an absolute, positive confidence on his part of my ability to teach our children. He doesn't feel the need to be involved with the day to day because he has total faith in me! (But he did share that when he sees the wheels starting to falling off, he does try to step in, just a little bit.)

I have been going to him a little more this year. Just for perspective. Timely words of wisdom. All of which he is very good at. I even asked him what, if anything, he wanted to make sure I covered.

Anyway, one thing, which I forget to realize is, he does teach them and is very involved. But, just in a very different way. He teaches them to garden, to fix things, about nature and animals (see snake in above pictures) and the outdoors. He teaches them about cars and appliances (again, see above picture, trying to fix the dishwasher) and money. He does this all without formally schooling them. Which I sorely neglect to consider most days.

He doesn't have to sit down at a table or read for an hour. He goes out to mow the lawn and work in the yard and the kids go with him. He takes the time to explain things and show them things and they learn. He putts around in the garage, he works with wood and fixes all kinds of things, for everyone, and they learn to work with their hands and to serve others.

He cooks and lets them cut veggies. He looks something up on the Internet and lets them look and listen. He gets up on the roof and cleans the dryer vent and explains why. He goes to work to serve and protect and comes home with stories that most people never hear. And he explains how the outside world looks. (Great life lessons there by the way.)

So, all the while I have been wondering why I "teach" all by myself, there has been a wonderful faith in me as a mom and teacher and a lot of learning going on by another teacher in our home. I am not real sure why it has taken me this long to figure it out. And, I am embarrassed to even confess it. But, I am really working on being more thankful for the things I don't readily see . . .

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Typical Conversation

(Which I had yesterday.) When someone finds out I homeschool:

New Neighbor: I understand you homeschool.

Me: Yes, yes we do. We really enjoy it (most days). I don't miss a thing that is going on in their lives (good and bad).

New Neighbor: Do you have to get some type of degree in order to educate your children?

Me: Nope. Apparently our state thinks that being the parent is qualification enough. (Said with big grin.)

New Neighbor: What about college?

Me: Well, you can actually enroll your 16 year old at the local community college. And they receive college credit. So, by the time they are 18 they might have an AA degree. Also, did you know that Harvard actually would like homeschoolers to apply. They have found out that they are really good students and know how to learn.

New Neighbor: Oh, I don't think I would have had the patience for that.

Me: Ha, ha. (Even bigger smile) Trust me, I don't. Just ask them (pointing to the kids sliding down the water slide.) But, it has given me and them a great opportunity for personal growth in that area.

We chit chat a little more and the subject is changed. But, for the most part, that is how the conversations go when you talk with someone who has never met a homeschooler before. It is hard for me to restrain myself because I am so passionate about what I do.

Part of me just wants to get the word out that homeschooling is a viable choice for education in any family. And God has more than qualified me, the parent, to educate my children. If for no other reason, He has blessed me with them and made me ultimately responsible for their care, growth and education. Because I am their parent, no one is going to love them and want the best for them, more than I do. . .

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nature Study

Overgrown road to the creek.

Catching butterflies. Gulf Frittilaries.

During the fall, this sign in very visible.

Huge Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Deer track.

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you have seen pictures from our Nature Study that we do, at a local creek, during school. I usually post the pictures and write a little something and then print off each post to put in the kids Science Notebook.

We had taken a little bit of a break during the summer. It was way too hot for us (me) to go out and observe nature. So, I think it has been at least two months since we have been out there. As we drove in, I asked the kids to look at what had changed since we last were there. And, boy, it was not hard to miss.

The creek was over grown with green! The dirt road was narrow. We could hardly see the yellow bridge sign. The little creek was rushing (one of my favorite sounds.) And it was just teaming with wild life! And one of the things the kids noticed is that there were way more birds this time.

Not only were there birds, there were butterflies, bugs and obviously deer based on the prints we found. It was alive with life! When we pulled in the deer flies kept following the car. The butterflies swirled around us and the greenery was reaching out to grab us. It was summer nature at its finest!

The kids saw caterpillars and wild summer flowers blooming. The noticed the places that they were able to walk before, but couldn't now because it was so over grown. The noticed the bees gathering pollen. And the many Gulf Frittilaries (which can be mistaken for Monarchs) who didn't seem at all afraid of humans. They kids even got to see a big yellow swallowtail.

It was kind of hot, but glad we were able to see nature in it summer finest. . . .

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Amazing Grace Race

Last night was a treat for the whole family. The girls have been practising really hard for the last couple of weeks to perform the Amazing Grace Race, our children's choir musical.

In the beginning both girls had expressed an interest in having speaking parts. I wholeheartedly encouraged them to do so. I knew they could do it. Especially Little Mama. I think she has a gift for drama!

Anyway, they both got speaking parts and they had to sing about 5 different songs with the whole choir. We had been listening to the CD for days and days and days. We listened to it so often, that both the little guys knew most of the lines. Especially Boop. I almost asked if he could be in it because he knew so many of the lines!

Anyway, last night was the performance. And, I have to say, one of my most favorite parts about being a mom, is watching my children perform. And what makes it extra special is when their performance is part of their worshipping and learning about God.

Each girl had a handful of lines and Little Mama got to do a little acting. She did great. And I was so proud of her. Both girls sang and spoke with smiles on their faces! Oh my little angels!!

A real treat for the rest of us to watch . . .