Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A letter to myself in 25 years when the kids are parents and I wonder if they've lost their fool minds when I look at their calendars

Dear Nana Renee,
This week has been possibly the busiest this summer. (Preceded by the busiest weekend of the summer.) We've had very fun "swim dates" with friends every day. One of those included helping my friend with some decorating decisions which was oh-so-fun!! The other was an equally exciting "reunion" with an old friend. I hosted the moms from our homeschool group last night. We prayed, shared, filled our calendars, and chatted until almost midnight! Today we spent a fun-filled, energy-zapping, 7 hours at a water park with two amazing families. And all this while recovering from an 8-hour cleaning fest, an open house, a day trip across state lines, and a bowling fiesta last weekend. Ah, the good, full, summer life of a mom with three kids.

Right now I am WIPED. I think my bones are aching. I am praying for the energy to get myself together to sell our junk at a church flea market this weekend. I won't say how far behind I am on that task because I know my sister-in-law and mother-in-law will give me grief. Our booths are adjoining and I have a suspicion that neither of them have waited until the last 24 hours to get their stuff gathered, cleaned, and priced. (They are both much more do-ahead types than I am. Praise God for them! I think ahead, but just don't do-ahead.)

I am going to bed feeling one of my very favorite emotions- completely exhausted from too much fun. I adore that feeling. I think I'll be feeling it a lot for the next few days. So, Mom/Nana, 50-something, stuck-in-her-quiet-ways, Renee-Aren't the kids darling? Don't ever forget how crazy and wonderful your life was today! And while you're at it, go give your daughter and daughters-in-law a hug and a kiss (and a hand)-and give wrinkled-wonderfully aged Andy a smooch.

Pictured above: Snippets from the last 7 (looney) days (The kids love to play in that wool hat. Strange?!?)

"We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and a mystery."
~H. G. Wells

Monday, July 26, 2010

Good ol' Charlie Brown

We recently rented the "This is America, Charlie Brown" movie from Netflix. It is a MARVELOUS, fun introduction to American history. Why didn't we join Netflix sooner? The Wii Instant Streaming is just wonderful, too! Last week we read about the Forbidden City in China and rented a documentary for enrichment. I think this resource will be a very useful tool for homeschooling!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Homeschool Plans for 4rth, 2nd, and Pre-K

For the boys (4rth and 2nd grades)

Writing (used across the curriculum):

::Institute for Excellence in Writing

~20 minutes every day

Lesson plans:

(My Father's World)

::include pages to read, art and drama activities, timeline suggestions, tests, notebook pages, coloring pages, and more

History books:

Instead of one textbook, My Father's World uses many books.

::George Washington's World, In God We Trust, Building a City on a Hill, American Pioneers and Patriots, The Last 500 Years, Exploring American History, and The Story of the World

~30 minutes every day, more or less

Fun stuff to memorize:

::The United States of America: A State-By-State Guide & Presidents flashcards

~10 minutes each day

Read alouds to enhance history:

::List from My Father's World

~1 1/2 hours per week

Geography to enhance history:

::Writing a State Report/ Success with Maps/US Map memory

~30 minutes every week

Book basket time:

::15 minutes per day to independently read extra books that relate to history or science

Bible: ::Boy, Have I Got Problems (study of the book of James)

::Memorizing the entire book of James together
::Memorizing hymns from Then Sings My Soul

~30 minutes every day


:: Biology (The World of Animals) &

::Botany (Exploring Creation with Botany & Green Thumbs)

~30 minutes most days

Art history & drawing

::God and the History of Art & Draw and Write Through History

~30 minutes- 1 hour per week

Other arts

~Boys are going to a "Art projects to compliment history" class at the local parks/rec center. I was thrilled to find the class and they are going to be following the same time period in history!

~We're studying three composers by listening to cds. (forgot to take a pic!)

~Using Music Ace along with beginning piano books to teach the kids piano.


::Home-made book list for each boy combining suggestions from Ambleside and Veritas Press. Reading approximately one chapter book ever two weeks. Then they will compose a book report from one of these books (How to Report on Books & 50 Book Report Ideas) ~20-30 minutes every day

Grammar, Spelling, and Poetry

::Abeka Grammar, Poetry, & Spelling/ Grammar songs

~45 minutes every day


::SongSchool Latin and Latin for Children

~15 minutes, 2x a week

Math and Logic

::Horizons 4 &2/ Mind Benders puzzles
~Math 45 minutes every day/ Logic 10 minutes a week


~Boys are taking a homeschool pe class, plus tennis.

~Lydie is taking ballet/tap again this year.

For Lydie (pre-K)

::Horizons Preschool books and Before Five in a Row literature and activities

~1-2 hours per day/ 3 days per week

Funny thing

It's a funny thing how God answers prayer. Yesterday I prayed that God would allow me to see the beauty all around me. I thought I was praying that I would stop and admire His creation in the midst of a busy week. You know, stop and smell the roses. But He had something else in mind.
After I dropped the kids off at their respective camps, I planned to make a quick run to the store and then spend the rest of the morning doing what this week was set aside for, the reason I am missing VBS- school planning. Well, as I ran into the house to drop off my cold and frozen items I realized the usual 10 pound weight on my arm was missing. WHERE WAS MY PURSE? Panic. I had just filled it with the weekly cash to buy groceries, get the boys' haircuts, etc. Where ever it was, a whopping $200 in cash was inside for the taking! Oh no! I tried to retrace my steps, but ran out of time because it was time to pick up Lydie. After that I had exactly 30 minutes to get across town to the boys. Then I noticed the low gas light was on in the car. I wondered how long that's been blinking? That blasted star symbol was on, meaning I had less than 5 miles to go before I would be walking. But wait, I had no wallet. I let myself imagine the nightmare of identity theft for about 30 seconds and then decided I would allow none of those imaginary fears to paralyze me. I needed to get moving!
Okay, so I had my three year old (who needed to go potty and was hungry for a snack), I had my car, but I had no money or phone. I decided to borrow a phone and call my best friend...but what's her number? I had no idea. I don't even know my Mom's number by heart. It's all in the phone, in the purse, lost. We stopped and prayed. There were 20 minutes now until VBS was over. I was just not going to make it. I mentally retraced my steps again. Ah, yes. I figured out where I left the purse. When I unloaded the groceries I was too busy praying for my husband who was working outside in the heat, plus relishing the plot in my current book to remember to grab it! I made a mental note to go easier on the kids when they daydream.
We went back to Wal-mart and there it was in Customer Service! Praise God! And with all the cash in tow!! I texted Lizzie (with now 10 minutes to make a 20 minute drive and get gas and let Lydie go teetee). The text said, "I need ur help." She called. She picked up the boys. She rescued. He rescues. Praise be to God.
The morning was a disappointment. I missed my school planning time, which made me feel a little guilty because it is, after all, the reason I am not helping with VBS. It was crazy and felt fruitless. But on the other hand, all was recovered. I saw God come through again. The boys were laughing and giggling when I picked them up, glad to have 20 extra minutes with friends. The purse was recovered. The car did NOT run out of gas. Lydie made it to the potty.
It doesn't always end that neatly, but when it does I feel inclined to enjoy it! Amazing friend, faithful God, precious children, thankful heart. I see the beauty. All's well that ends well.

"Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian."
~G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Open my eyes

Lord, give me eyes to see the beauty and boundless gifts all around me today! Thank you!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lazy week

We had the most relaxing, wonderful week with my Mom last week. She left my Dad with Lein Cuisines and snuck over to our house for a fun week. She treated us to lots of meals and good times. We talked so much that I was worn out at night. She even talked to me over the hair dryer in the mornings. I love her so much! We had big fun. I was lazy, big time. And the boys were thrilled to give up their room to her and camp out on the pull-out sofa with Lydie all week.
This week is another story. While the kids are at VBS and ballet camp, I have to play catch-up. (I wrote a to-do list with what looks to be about 50 things to do this week, not including getting my lesson plans ready for school!) It's time to get out of summer mode and gear up for fall! But at the same time, there's still a few weeks to finish up the bucket list! This may very well be the best summer EVER!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Garden goodness

We have about 50 tomatoes that will all turn red at once! We're going to can stewed tomatoes and spaghetti sauce for the winter. And then gobble down the rest.

Andy's harvesting lots of green veggies from his garden lately, along with a bunch of mushrooms. It's so exciting and gratifying to eat food grown from your own yard!! (Except for the mushrooms. I think mushrooms taste like dirt and feel like Styrofoam.) I'm thinking of selling jars of pickles with my other stuff at my mother-in-law's church flea market in a couple of weeks. Would that be weird? We have cucumbers out the ying-yang and some thing's gotta give!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Trolley tour

A bottle tree!
We are trying to knock off the last few things on our summer bucket list. This list was a great idea. It's been a fun summer! Jackson and I loved the trolley ride. Josh and Lydie behaved very well, but could have been just as entertained doing a number of other things (like swimming or just staying home and playing :) ). J and I love history and enjoyed the tour guide very much. It wasn't quite as interesting as the Savannah trolley tour, but much more meaningful since we were hearing about our own town. Isn't the trolley station the most darling thing?

Friday, July 09, 2010


Last night I felt like I was up all night praying. The past couple of weeks I have prayed boldly for three things to happen by today. Two were very likely, one was a stretch. Seemed liked dozens of times a day I laid these requests, among others, before the Lord.

I woke up this morning to get my answers from God. No, no, and no! He can always answer with a "Yes!" in the future. But for today he granted zero for three. I told the Lord last night that I knew He could do anything, but if He chose not to allow these three things to happen right now I would trust Him. I told him I would remember with thanksgiving all of the ways He has blessed me and close my eyes and plunge headlong into those wonderful memories like a bed of feathers. And that's what I am trying to do now. I am trying to look beyond today and remember all the yesterdays that He has said, "Yes! Yes! Yes!". Those times are faith builders for sure. What a steady feeling it is to ask and receive, but more than that, to have the same desires as God. That's one of the main reasons I love this blog. It's a scrapbook of our story and it's a beautiful one because of Jesus-even in hard times. I can look back and see His loving kindness.
"The Lord sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves."
~Dwight L. Moody

"When such as I cast out remorse so great a sweetness flows into the breast..."
~W. B. Yeats

More feathers for the pile from this week:
::4 free meals and drinks on Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A::
::A pretty night to play at the creek and park::

"Lord, make me see thy glory in every place."


Thursday, July 08, 2010

To the top

We decided at 6:00 the other night to climb the ~little~ mountain in an adjoining town. (Andy says in the northwest it would be called a "hill".) It was a fairly steep 2-mile hike up and then 2 miles back down. When we arrived we had an hour and fifteen minutes before the park closed at 8:00. We were really excited that we made it in time. But we didn't enjoy feeling rushed.

Truthfully, I did NOT enjoy hiking at the end of the day. It was hard! After a day of being busy around the house and with the kids, I realized it was just not the fun I had imagined. But I think it would be a great, quick hike, and just the right amount of challenge for our kids if done at the right time of day before we are all tired.
The scenery was wonderful!
"The soft blue sky did never melt
Into his heart; he never felt
The witchery of the soft blue sky!"

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Summer art #5

We decided to find some library books on Georgia O'Keeffe at the library. Then the kids used a pencil to draw a flower that would touch all four sides of their paper (this was their goal, any way). I traced it with a Sharpie. Then they used water colors to paint them. I got the idea from this blog.

The results were beautiful and the project was fun! I had these 99 cent frames from IKEA that have been collecting dust for years. We decided to frame the pictures and put them in the small hallway between the kids' rooms. Perfect!