Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer Bucket List

Things we want to do before summer kicks the bucket:
~MOVE TO THE FARM! (But first sell our house!)
~Learn two new card games
~Buy a new board game
~Play at the water park
~Trip to the beach
~Get the trolley tour of down town
~Climb a nearby mountain
~Read 150 books (total for all 4 readers in our family)
~Play in the water fountains downtown
~See an outdoor movie at the park
~Go to a free summer morning movie in the theatre
~Camp out in the back yard (or the family room if the mosquitoes are awful)
~Take 2 friends to VBS
~Visit the local nursing home a couple of times each month with home-made gifts
~Ride bikes together
~Have friends over to swim in our pool
~Catch fish in the creek at the farm
~Continue our morning prayer/devotion routine. Every day at His feet!!
~Race dunebuggies at the farm
~Subscribe to Netflix Instant Streaming
~Earn our green belt in karate (boys)
~Catch fireflies and use them for night lights
~Have a slumber party
~Play mini golf
~Have a picnic by the water
~Buy a new Wii game
~Go to Wednesday nights at the park (Live music)
~Make rootbeer floats
~Pick blueberries at the local farm with friends
~Continue with our garden
~Jaybird and Mommy hope to have a special trip here to celebrate J's birthday in July.
~Visit grandparents
~Ballet camp for Lydie
~Use the canoe at the lake
~Spend every Tuesday night with friends (that's for Mommy!)
~Take that sewing class Andy bought me for Christmas
~Date each other (kids & parents) on Fridays
~Finish reading our last 8 history stories
~Write to grandparents
~Celebrate the end of the history book with dinner at Medieval Times restaurant
~Buy a telescope and look at the stars at the farm
~Giving GLORY to God together!
I am SO excited about this new season! This is a fun list and really none of it is a must. These are all just wishes. Frankly, we need free time to learn and play at our leisure SO badly! Yay SUMMER! Praise God for His wonderful design.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Welcome summer!" party

We opened our pool last weekend just in time to have friends over. The people in our small group from church (both adults and children) have been a huge blessing for our family this year. Not only are they our closest friends, but they are our prayer warriors as well. We love them dearly.

We were very excited about hosting the 5 families that we love so much at our house for a "welcome summer" party. I didn't get very many pictures. Only a few of the kids swimming. But it was a fun night. Andy's smoked chicken and homemade bbq sauce were big hits!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer Book Lists

For me:
Coop (Perry)
When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling (Sproul)
The Guernsey and Literary Potato Peel Pie Society (Shaffer and Barrows)
Mere Christianity (again) (Lewis)
This Heavy Silence (Mazzarella)
A Glass Castle: A Memoir (Walls)
Teach Them Diligently (Priolo)
Pride and Prejudice (again) (Austen)
+ lots of magazines with good recipes and decorating ideas

For the bookworm (Jaybird, age 9):

The Story of Rolf
Charlie and the Glass Elevator
James and the Giant Peach (again)
Because of Winn Dixie
The Great Brain
The Wind and the Willows
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilted Planet
The Red Balloon
+ dozens and dozens of library books weekly
We have 2 more days of school. Tomorrow we are going to make a "summer bucket list". Can't wait! Happy summer!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In the Spotlight

Three big events for the boys this week:

Josh receives his Bible at church as a recognition of first grade completion.

Jaybird was in his spring play. He got to play the villain, so that was very exciting for him! His favorite part was lifting his head up to the sky like a wolf and letting out an evil, "Bwaaaa, hahaha!" laugh. The boys both received their orange belt in karate. We are so proud of their progress!

These are good times!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thoughts on prayer

Prayer, prayer, prayer! God might as well write it across a billboard in our front yard. I have heard people talk about it at every turn lately! I decided it might be time to listen and hear what He wants me to do.

No one can ever pray enough. Dwight Moody commented that (paraphrasing) besides the sheer glory of Christ, he believes he will be most surprised in heaven at how he made so little use of the power of prayer. (He habitually prayed for 2 hours every morning, and then throughout the day.) I could never achieve any level of "faithfulness" on this earth that would make me worthy of God's love and acceptance. This is certainly not about earning his good graces. That was all accomplished by Jesus on my behalf. But now as a believer, I have come to believe that prayer is essential for peace in this life. And somehow, mysteriously, God's providence includes answering our petitions. In my life, I can know about God just fine apart from prayer. But I can have no vital, living relationship without prayer. And I want to know and glorify Him more than anything else.

*Some verses regarding prayer:
I Thes. 5:16-18-James 5:16-Ephesians 6:18-Phil. 4:6-7

Our pastor preached on our unwillingness to pray, specifically for the lost. We are not only to pray for those handful that cross our own paths, but for those around the world. Jesus says to pray, "Thy kingdom come" first and foremost (before our daily bread, even!).

So the kids and I extended our breakfast time this morning around the table and came up with a new system. If God has been moving you to pray as well, maybe you will find something useful, too. We chose seven topics for prayer, one for each day. I took some time explaining to the children that we are to pray continually. We should talk to our Father through out the day about everything. These 7 topics are people/events that we want to make sure we do not forget. They are certainly not supposed to replace a habit of praying "without ceasing". We decided to spend a little time after breakfast each morning for "the seven". Ours were:

SUNDAY- Church leaders
~including our pastor, staff, elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers

~we have a little world map and will write their names across all six continents that they span(we know no one who lives in Antarctica!?!)

TUESDAY- "Things on the news"- World issues
~currently Haiti victims, oil spill, flood victims in Nashville, tornado victims in Oklahoma, No*th Korea, Ir*q/Afgha*istan wars (the list could go on and on)

WEDNESDAY- Government leaders
~excellent sight here with pictures of national government officials (we have to find pictures of our own state officials since we do not live in California)

THURSDAY- Unbelievers

~our own personal friends

~this site has an unreached people group a day to lift up in prayer

FRIDAY- Family

~extended family's needs/salvation


~first, for the needs of our small groups whom we have given a commitment to being in pray for (Home Fellowship Group at church, Sunday school small groups, teenage discipleship groups, homeschool support group)

Because my thoughts are always drifting towards the salvation of my children, their needs, and my husband's as well, I do not have them on the list. We tend to find time plenty of time to pray for our needs! Here is a daily prayer list of spiritual blessings for my children that I keep on the frig and use frequently.One other thought...The importance of forgiveness before prayer was brought up to me this weekend. (Mark 11:25) Not only does forgiveness unlock God's work in our lives, but it destroys bitterness. And bitterness defiles all those around us. God inhabits the praises of His people, and the Enemy flees when we praise Him. What a way to start the day with the kids!

"How can one family affect anything? One person battling away to put selfish interests aside, to put other people before himself or herself, even for a fraction of the time, day by day, how could that help? ...One family and the children of that family can do marvelous things to affect the world or devastating things to destroy it." Edith Schaefer, What is a Family

"I have held many things in my hands and lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands that I still possess." ~Martin Luther

Monday, May 17, 2010

Renewed, excited, babbling

This past weekend Andy and I took the kids all day Friday and Saturday to the Alabama Christian Homeschool conference. I loved the beautiful location, which was at a camp in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. And we were blessed to be with Andy's brother and his family, as they are preparing to homeschool for the first time in the fall. I found that for once, I actually came home with a peace about what I am doing. In years past, I have felt completely overwhelmed, uptight, and even unsure after these types of events. The curriculum fairs are full of hundreds of choices. The speakers can be quite challenging. And the task before me can seem insurmountable. But this year was different. Maybe I am just growing into this role as homeschooling Mom. Or maybe, quite possibly, it was the AMAZING speakers, including Jeanie Fullbright, whom I heard in five different sessions over the course of a day and a half! Or it might be that I basically knew what I wanted to use for next year.

My big area of doubt for next year was our math curriculum. I was determined to make a choice over the course of the weekend because I figured it would be easiest to figure it out with all of the books right there in front of me. I hate trying to pick something based on the one sample from a website! So after a day of bouncing around thoughts, I wrote down the things that I have observed with my reluctant mathematician (J), and determined from that list the 6 MUST-HAVES for our choice. Even though there were some fabulous choices, and one that I personally would have enjoyed more, I was able to choose what will be best for my son.

My list for him included:
Visual worksheets for practice (lots of color, absolutely not in black and white)
Hands-on lesson plans (uses manipulatives)
Short (30 minutes or less) lessons & easy for me to prepare
Drilling of math facts, not just skip counting
Spiral approach (lots of review)
And our pick:
Horizons math We are making several changes next year. But another big one is that we are adding the Institute for Excellence in Writing curriculum for my oldest son. I have always heard that this writing curriculum is top notch. But frankly, it just looked too complicated to learn to teach. The author of the curriculum was at the conference. After hearing him speak and spending a lot of time with the representative at his booth I am confident that it will be much easier than I imagined. And we felt very convicted that it would be a mistake to not buy this set for our oldest son who seems to have a future in writing. We also reasoned that most children, no matter the field, need a strong foundation in at least technical writing, if not creative writing. I hope it was a good investment! I am SO excited about our study of explorers and founding fathers next year through My Father's World. There is SO much to read and do in regards to this time period. And this summer will be fun because our last history time period leaves off before the Renaissance, so we will study the Renaissance and Reformation this summer in order to be ready for explorers in the fall. The Renaissance/Reformation is my favorite time period, so it should be good times. We will kick-off our study by going to the Georgia Renaissance festival in June. Oh, and I am so ready for Botany next year! We are going to be on a farm, for Pete's sake. What subject could be more fun? There will be plenty of time for hands-on experiments! And I think that out of all the areas of science, I am the most ignorant about botany. (And that's pretty bad!) So we should learn a lot together!

Lastly, I am VERY excited about the encouragement I found in pressing forward with our prayer/devotion time together. I heard again and again that the spiritual growth, time together with God learning from His word and praying, the times we stop everything to work on character issues- this is the part of our "lifestyle" that is the most rewarding. I know it has been for me, personally. And towards the end of the school year it is so easy just to press forward and overlook all the real issues with a simple of goal of GETTING DONE! I was so very convicted to take a breath, look around, and enjoy. To stop and put our pursuit of God as our top priority again. I am thanking God for the encouragement I found. It is vital for me in continuing this difficult, busy, but beautiful calling!

"Education is part and parcel of religion and every other enthusiastic teacher knows that he is obeying the precept, -"feed my lambs"-feed with all those things that are good and wholesome for the spirit of man; and before all and including all, with the knowledge of God."

~Charlotte Mason

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Plans for 2010-2011

Because May and June are the months to find great deals at used curriculum sales, I have spent the past 2 weeks evaluating and researching our curriculum choices for next year. I am very excited about our choices:


J: Horizons 4

T: Horizons 2

*We are leaving Saxon!


J: Abeka Language 4

Abeka Spelling, Vocab., & Poetry 4

Veritas Press reading books and comprehension guides, grade 5

How to Report on Books, gr. 3-4

Institute of Excellence in Writing

T: Abeka Language 3

Abeka Spelling, Vocab., & Poetry 3

Veritas Press grade 3

How to Report on Books, gr. 1-2

Journal writing


Follow My Father's World lesson plans for the Explorers through 1815 series


Biology and Botany using the texts and projects from:

The World of Animals:Answers in Genesis

Exploring God's World through Botany (Apologia)

Art/Art History

Draw & Write bk. 4

God and the History of Art


Intro. to Schubert, Mendelssohn, & Chopin (My Father's World plans)

Then Sings My Soul hymns


Various texts and living books from the Exploration to 1815 series of My Father's World

Mystery of History, vol. 3


Bible reading and catechism/memory verses

Boy, Have I Got Problems! study of James devotion


J: Lively Latin

T: Songschool Latin


J: Mind Benders A1

T: Mind Benders beginners 2


Learn the locations of the 50 States (Geography songs and maps/ excerpts from Cantering the Country)

Learn the location of the 53 Asian countries (Geography songs and maps)

Review European countries, all continents, all oceans

Scholastic Maps workbooks gr.3 & 4

Pre-K (Lydie)

Horizons Pre-K

Before Five in a Row

I have no idea how my schedule will look! I have no idea how I will fit it all in! But these are the curriculum choices that I feel like we should be doing so, Lord willing, we will get it all done. (Next year may be a 12 month school year! Or, we may have a 5 hour school day as opposed to 4!) My choices are a combination of classical, Charlotte Mason, and unit studies. Some say they can't be combined, but I beg to differ!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lydie's first dance recital

What a night! It wasn't her dancing that was so memorable. Although, she did remember the steps very well, especially considering she is a year or two younger than the other kids in her class. The dancing was great! But what was unforgettable was her stage presence. There wasn't ONE SPECK of fear in her eyes. In fact, I think she actually giggled out loud. Our girl loves the stage. Afterwards she said, "Did you see me up there so high? I loved the lights. I loved it, Mommy!"

It was so surreal to be the Mommy in the audience and not the dancer on the stage. At first there was a pang of sadness. But it didn't last long. What a strange, but wonderful bonding experience to share a love for performing with my daughter. Thank you, God, for three kids that make the experiences of my life so deep and rich!

PS Mimi and Papa, the last picture is of Lydie's reaction when she listened to Mimi's recorded voice that came with her flowers. She loved that message and the flowers. She listens to the message every day and smiles!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Encouragement: Mother's Day

As usual, my husband gave me a special day. It involved church, a french restaurant, a nap, and a picnic dinner with a family movie. All my favorites. In essence, it was a big day of rest. They each made the sweetest cards, and I received flowers that proved they know me well. (white basket, yellow flowers, sweet message) Today I woke up feeling celebrated and honored. What a way to start a week!
I love the gift of words. So, not surprisingly, one of the most touching parts of my day involved them. While we were waiting on lunch, the kids went around the table and named three things they love about Mom. We do this little activity on birthdays, too. Our answers change year to year and it's so, so encouraging. I don't think they ever said I was fun or creative until this year. That was interesting to me. Kids are so forgiving and gracious.
For 2010, here are the three things my kids love about me:
J : ~I love that you make art.
~You have fun with us.
~You are sweet to us.
T: ~I like that you are creative, too. I like your art.
~You are fun.
~You take good care of me.
L: ~ You teach us lots of things.
~ You are sweet.
And here are three from me to my Mom:
~You are very determined once you make up your mind to accomplish something.
~You are incredibly patient with all of us.
~You spent my entire childhood giving endlessly of yourself. Thank you!!
And for my Mother-in-law:
~You are a very good listener and encourager.
~You are forgiving and empathetic.
~You have the gift of hospitality and we thank you so much for hosting us so many times!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Whew, made it!

I have had an exhausting week. My normal rest has alluded me due to a waking Lydie (which is very rare, so I shouldn't complain), a hard-to-put-down-book, and frenzied thoughts. I do not do well without rest, especially when I have become so accustomed to the right amount of sleep. I get a little lost and wander around in a daze. Or worse, I panic. Andy traveled four of the five school days last week for work. But now he's back, thank the Lord. When he's not around I do not function properly either.

On Friday morning, after another almost sleepless night, I trudged out of bed. Defeated. I said to myself, "I absolutely can not home school any more." Before breakfast I had already imagined the daily one-hour trek I was willing to take when we move to the farm to get the kids to the school of my choice. Christian, classical, small. Case-closed. I had just told my friend yesterday how much I love home schooling. But no matter, today was different. I. WAS. DONE.

Then our morning turned around. In my sleepiness I had nothing to say, no complete sentences to form. So I listened. I listened to J rattle off his list of books that he wants, mostly pertaining to things in history that he wants to explore deeper. I listened to my three children laughing and playing together in the other room while I got dressed. My girl told me with arms wrapped around my neck and lips two centimeters from my ear that "when you are a Grand mommy and I am a Mommy we will call you Pretty Pumpkin". And over lunch the children decided to talk about grown-up times and tell me again of all their hopes and dreams. Toot added that I should be "an artist when I grow up". They have no idea that these are the days of my adulthood. We're just coasting along together, dreaming and learning.

I can't do it. I can't walk away from this home school lifestyle, from all this time together. Sometimes trying to balance house work, being a help mate to Andy, bills, and the stresses of living in a broken world- they all seem just impossible to juggle with the full time job of educator- at home, with no time alone, or "benefits". On the bad days I think I might be insane and regret all that I have taken on. I think one day I might wonder if I might have been able to be a better Mom with more time alone to regroup. I think about how if they were in a classroom they wouldn't still be waiting on their teacher to get the day started at 9:30. (On those days we have a sick day. Like Friday.)

But deep down I feel called. I can rest in that truth. God's guidance is certain and steady. He will equip me. And because this is what He has chosen, I see good results. On most days I am fulfilled, albeit exhausted and sometimes ready to quit. Isn't everyone? I need to continue to be realistic with my expectations. Following Christ, developing lasting relationships, sacrificing to make His name great (beginning here at home)-will often times lead me to physical discomfort. It's not always pretty and certainly not easy. It's an endless cycle of getting a little too independent and then coming back to the same question, "What do I expect from this life of mine?" And then my mind leaves that question and thinks ahead to heaven.

"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy."
Matthew 6:20
PS Lizzie, if you are reading this post, you made my day on Friday. Your reaction to the painting made my heart leap. It felt so, so good to do something for someone out from under this roof that I knew would make a lasting impression. You are such a joy to have as a friend! Giving you my gift was the highlight of my day!!

Thursday, May 06, 2010


In January I wrote 10 things that I wanted to be my focus for the year. I meant to evaluate how things were going once a month on this blog. Oh well. I have been praying and reflecting through out the days, though.

#1-Be a good steward of my body.
~Much improvement this month. Stay the course.
#2-Rely on God's word and prayer first thing.
~I absolutely do not do this first thing. But I rely more and more on Him.
#3-Mentor and be mentored.
~Mentoring, yes. My sweet friend that agreed to mentor me is still waiting on a coffee date. Time to call Michele!
#4-Spend more time alone with Andy.
~Yes, but can always use even more time with my best friend.
#5-Spend more time outside.
~No. But very much looking forward to this during the summer.
#6-Do more science. Flex when there are teachable moments.
~Yes. We have finally begun to enjoy science. And I think I am flexing more and more.
#7-Continue with artistic outlets.
~Yes! Praise God I have had time to paint two pieces just this month. Writing a lot!
#8-Spend regular time with friends alone.
~No. Did well with this in the winter. What happened this spring? Again, ready for summer!
#9-Read for pleasure daily.
~Yes. I have absolutely found my love for reading again. On my 9th book for the year, which is good for me since I struggle with keeping my eyes open at night!
#10-Host people in our home more often.
~We have hosted some, but would love to more.

Sure does help to see this written out. I know exactly what areas need focus and prayer. Also I can see that the spring is a time to extend grace to myself and realize some things I love must be put on hold. Summer will be a whole new season.

"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else."
~Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

When hard-headed comes in handy

When I was a preschooler my brother played Little League. I was part of the little sister club that hung around the ball field and snuck Hubba Bubba and made mud pies. Any way, one of the mom's nicknamed me "Hard-headed" and my Mom never let me forget. It should come as no surprise that history has repeated itself. Here is our little Hard-headed at work:

She begins with sticker #1 of 1,000. She is determined to have a pretty jewelry box.

Still truckin' along.

And a day and a half after purchase, here she is. I helped her with a portion of it. But I would guess 2/3 of the 1,000 stickers were stuck with her precious, chubby, stubborn fingers.

Determined? Stubborn? Either way, came in handy this week! ALL things can be used for good or harm. I can think of about a million things God can use a strong-willed Lydie to do (besides occasionally test my patience). May this be the first of many!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

School highlights from April

I was dragging a little in April. We had no field trips (this is our first month ever without any). But looking back, we did learn a lot together.
We usually do an art project on Monday just for fun. But we only did this one this month. It is a fun window decoration made from paper towels and watered down watercolors.

In science we are loving our astronomy experiments! Learning about lava on Venus, as well as making a model of Olympus Mons from Mars. The guys added their own Martians on their Mars model.
Our artist this month was Monet and we studied his paintings of his lily pond. We read some fabulous books. My favorite was Linnea in Monet's Garden (Schactner).

We learned to draw Viking ships as we studied stories of their influence in Europe during the Middle Ages.

Other highlights were learning about Johannes Brahms, drilling multiplication facts (and seeing results), J wrote his first research paper on Walt Disney, we read lots and lots of fairy tales from Faerie Gold: Treasures from the Land of Enchantment (Ranelda Mack Hunsicker and Kathryn Lindskoog), and we have almost finished learning the names and locations of the European countries. Other than that, just plugging along in phonics, math, reading, spelling, grammar, Latin, etc. Only 4 more weeks of school left!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Glimpses of His work in their hearts (grace and humor)

From Jaybird at the dinner table: "Mom, I am just sitting here thinking about how much I love this family." (GUSH)

Prayers of Lydie's: "Happy Father's day, God. I hope it's a good one."
Conversation with Lydie: "Mommy, do we wake up when we die?" I explain heaven again, and how she will love it and really want to be there, but most people don't go there until they are old. She says, "I think I'm scared, but maybe not so much. Haven't we been there before?"
I love J for noticing that his new Nintendo magazine had pictures of animated girls that were inappropriately dressed and pointing it out to me. I love even more that he asked to tear out the pages on the way to our church group before showing it to his friends because "he didn't want Will and Wesley looking at things like that".
This morning Lydie's Sunday school teacher asked her what her favorite thing was about her Mommy. According to her teacher, her quick response was, "My Mommy is never boring!!"