Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yucky 9 year old boy humor

Joshua got in the car from art class on Monday with a mischievous, smug look on his face. For such a quiet little guy he has such an enormous amount of facial expressions that I didn't think too much about it. And then he said, "Mom, it might not be okay." Oh dear. "What might not be okay, darling?" "Well, you might not like my art from class," he replied. "Of course I will", I assure him thinking he is just feeling insecure. "What did you make?" He tries not to grin, not sure if I will see his humor and whispers, "Well, poop...but you can call it cow poop if that will make a difference." "No, no, that won't make a difference, I am sure. What was the assignment?" (I am buying myself time here while I think this over and try to act reasonable.) "Well, we are studying proportions. I thought it would be funny to draw big buildings in a city, a little house, a little airplane, and a big piece of poop. You know, to compare proportions." He shows me the paper, and points to the gigantic display front and center. Oh my. "Well, what did your teacher say? Because really poop and gas are something you boys might laugh about on the playground, I get that, but do you really think you need to bring it into the classroom?" "Oh no Mom. I didn't put any in the classroom. That would be nasty! See, I just drew the poop on the paper. My teacher thought it was weird, but I didn't get in any trouble." Keeping a straight face, I again requested poop and gas not be draw, discussed, shown, bragged about, or in any way displayed in class. Agreement made. Of course, when he showed Andy there was all out laughter and amusement. At the dinner table. Even I had to bite my lip a little.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter fun

Our Friday art project: snow globes

Directions: Hot glue plastic figurines to the inside of the jar lid. (We chose penguins from a "zoob" tube at Hobby Lobby.) Pour distilled water, a couple of drops of glycerin, and glitter inside the jar. Close the jar and shake! (For more fun, use acryllic paint to paint the lids of the jars, if you choose! We liked the metallic lids. But black lids with white polka dots would have been adorable.) Source: Martha Stewart's website

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekend with cousins

Last weekend we had our triplet cousins and Aunt/Uncle over for a night. Uncle Ben wanted to hunt with Andy and a friend, so Aunt Kim and I kept the kids fed and entertained. It was a rainy weekend so between romping in the mud...

They played board games (Apples to Apples), got tickled a lot, played the Wii and watched a movie, built creations, and played with lots of fun, ordinary kid stuff.
**Don't I look fab with my pastey white skin, non-hairdried hair, and '94 Chi Omega sweatshirt on??** We really enjoyed having them over and we are so thankful we live closer (but wish we were even CLOSER)! We love this family and look forward to more trips, field trips, holidays, and weekends together!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mid-year update: The boys (5th and 3rd grades)

The boys are in a class together at a hybrid school 2 days a week. Here's what their days look like on the 3 days/week that they learn at home:
::Breakfast and chores (the boys are great at doing mostly all basic chores around the house now- cleaning windows, making beds, washing dishes, vacuuming, cleaning their bathroom, sweeping, etc.)

::Then they do a list of exercises that Andy created for them. It includes: jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, wheel barrow walks, board twists, knee bends, shoulder presses, and throwing the football. This is part of their "p.e", along with golf lessons(Jackson), bike riding, farm work, basketball team(Joshua), and of course all the free playing. The boys, along with Andy, are going to take karate beginning in March when basketball is over.

::Start our learning day with a devotion/Bible from the Who is God? book (Apologia). This book has been an excellent study of basic theology for us.
::The boys study their spelling words (Abeka), verses (chosen by hybrid school teacher), and poetry (Abeka) while I clean up breakfast dishes, finish my chores, etc.

Stagecoach drawing project

::I teach them their new material for Math (Horizons) and Grammar (BJU Press). (These subjects, along with Spelling, are the only where they are on different levels.) Once I get them started and they begin their practice sheets, I work with Lydie.
::Snack/ rip and roar outside.
::Next we work on creative writing. Their grammar book teaches technical writing. I have loosely used the ideas from the Institute for Excellence in Writing to give an assignment based on our history studies. Every now and then they write in the journals on the subject of their choice. Every Friday they have a finished story and I type it and then they illustrate it. Jack has always been an excellent writer. Joshua has BECOME a great writer this year, too. When I get a chance I will post his recent assignment, a personal narrative. He BLEW MY SOCKS OFF!

Statue of Liberty drawing project
::Next we work on our History/Literature assignment from the Sonlight curriculum. This usually involves reading a short history lesson from a history book, plus a couple of chapters in 2 chapter books (one read aloud by me, the other read independently). Here are the chapter books (along with excerpts from 5 or 6 history books) that they have read so far this year:

Lincoln: A Photobiography
By the Great Horn Spoon!
Shoes for Everyone: Jan Matzeliger
Sing Down the Moon
World Changers: William Wilberforce
Freedom Train
Turn Homeward, Hannalee
The Perilous Road
Caddie Woodlawn
Old Yeller
The Story of Thomas Alva Edison, Inventor
The Great Turkey Walk
The Terrible Wave
Helen Keller
The Great Wheel
The Story of George Washington Carver
Little Britches (currently)
The Wright Brothers (currently)
::Lunch/ rip and roar outside or take a walk
::Next we work on "drilling". I have a thick notebook that contains all of the math, history, science, Bible, songs/hymns, and geography facts that I want them to remember. I divided them into five days. (Monday and Wednesday they are in school, so only math fact drills.)
Monday-Multiplication/Division facts (2s, 3, 4s)
Tuesday- Multiplication/Division facts (5s,6s,7s), Geography songs, Measuring facts with volume and weight, books of the Bible, disciples' names)
Wednesday- Multiplication/Division facts (8s, 9s, 10s)
Thursday- Multiplication/Division facts (11s, 12s), Shurley Grammar chants, capitalization and underlining rules, Measuring facts with time and temperature, presidents, US capitals, prime numbers, emergency procedures
Friday- Subtraction and addition facts, patriotic/history/folk songs, measuring facts with distances, planets, types of matter, types of sentences, address and phone number
::The rest of these topics are taught once or twice a week: Art (I find a weekly project from several art teacher's websites & they take an art class on Mondays), Logic (Perplexors workbooks), Latin (English from the Roots...), Drawing (Draw and Write through History), Music (Music Ace), Composer studies (I create these), and Science (Christian Kids Explore Chemistry).

Q-tip snowflake art project
::We are usually done by 2:00/2:30. It's a full, very challenging load of school work, but they are excelling. They are working hard and up to their full potential (Joshua especially). We all agree that this has been a really wonderful school year!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Half party

Today marks the halfway point of our year! It has been such a great year! I am so PROUD of all the kids have learned, their hard work. And I am thankful for the endless grace of Christ to sustain and encourage me along the way as their Mom/teacher. Just like any other milestone with the kids, the time has felt slow and fast, all at once. I am a big believer in celebrations. I think milestones should be acknowledged with something special. Amidst the day's agenda with a dental appointment, a day of school, cleaning the house, and this little celebration (before 3:00 when our visitors arrived!), my husband asked, "Are you sure you have time for cupcakes?". But I was determined (because I truly felt it a priority), and in the end we had plenty of time. Eighteen weeks of school is worth a little party (even if it means I had to skip mopping the floors!).

So much more to look forward to this year!
Half way party:

Half cupcakes

Half plates

Half-full glasses of lemonade

Monday, January 16, 2012

Homeschool update: Lydie's mid-year kindergarten update

I teach kindergarten to Lydie four days a week, with Wednesday being our day off. On Wednesdays we drop the boys off at their hybrid school and then enjoy 9:00-2:00 together in Birmingham. We usually spend from 9:00-10:30 at Bible study, each with our own friends. We ALWAYS eat lunch out at the restaurant of her choice, sometimes with family (often with Aunt Chelle and Greyce!). Sometimes we visit Nana, especially if she is under the weather or has a doctor's appointment/chemo treatment. Sometimes I have a doctor's appointment and she tags along and charms all the nurses and doctors. But mostly, we shop and eat lunch together for the rest of the day. She loves boutiques, antique markets, and Target as much as I do! Wednesdays are super fun and I can tell they fill up her little love tank (and mine, too!). On the other four days here is what her morning looks like:

::Morning Routine::

Breakfast and chores: Lydie is in charge of emptying the trash cans in around the house and making her bed/cleaning her room. She dresses herself and brushes her teeth. She also clears the breakfast dishes and cleans the table and sometimes floor. Then all the kids do a list of exercises Andy came up with: 30 push-ups, 30 sit-ups, jumping jacks, wheelbarrow walk up the halls, etc.

Devotion and prayer: We read from one of Susan Hunt's children's devotions. We memorized verses the first half of the year. Now we are working on catechism questions.

Fine Motor Skills activity: She plays with pegs, play dough, lacing, beading, puzzles, legos, etc. while I get the boys started on their work.

Calendar time: We review counting to 100 by 1s, 5s, and 10s, shapes, patterns, dates, days of the week, months of the year, her address, phone #, birthday, emergency 911 #, left/right, coins, ordinal numbers, and holidays.

Singing time: We sing 3 or 4 songs from the Wee Sing series. The singing includes dancing and instruments usually. She loves all of the old classics...Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush, If You're Happy and You Know It, etc. She also works on memorizing a short poem at this time.

Extra practice: Each school day I use the dry-erase board with Lydie. I write letters and numbers and she identifies the name (and sound for letters). I write a group of capital letters and lower case letters and she draws a line to match the pair. I make patterns with letters and numbers and she solves riddles. I write three and four letter words for her to sound out and review sight words. Then we do 3 or 4 Brain Quest K cards.

Math: Horizons K worksheet

Phonics and Handwriting: Horizons K or Spectrum Phonics K worksheet
Her signature in September...

and her signature in December.

Reading: Bob books or Starfall readers.

Units (Read-Aloud, Science/History and Art): I read a book aloud, based on a seasonal/history/science theme and we do an art project to go along with it. Sometimes instead of an art project she will ask to just look at an illustration from the book and try to paint or draw it. I love when she does that! Here are a few of her snowy-themed art projects:
Our favorite winter read-alouds this month have been: Max and Mo Make a Snowman, The Biggest, Best Snowman, A Little Bit of Winter, Winter Tale, and A Winter Walk.

Biggest strides:

~Reading three and four letter words much more quickly, still sounding them out, but much more fluently and recognizing some words without having to sound them out.

~In math, she is counting to 100 well, identifies most numbers to 100, very good at patterns and calendar skills, has memorized her phone number and address, is adding, and is beginning to count coins and tell simple time.
~Her handwriting has matured enormously.

Lydie is easy and fun to teach because she is SO enamored with learning! Her enthusiasm makes for a fun morning, which is such a blessing because I expect a lot out of her. I am looking at her school table now, covered in rocks and clay. She studies those rocks from our gravel driveway with a magnifying glass for fun. And the clay mess is from a clay bowl she made and colored "just for decoration". Everyone needs a pretty bowl for their school table, right? She has drawings and ribbons taped everywhere, even on the blinds above her school table. It's so endearing!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bracing myself (Couldn't resist the corny title)

Today we had a consultation for both boys with the orthodontist. Josh is still a little young, and can wait a year or so. But Jackson is ready for braces. He also needs a special appliance for the top of his mouth because he pushes his tongue against his teeth (instead of the roof of his mouth) when he swallows, thus the over bite. This little appliance will retrain his tongue over the course of a couple of years and prevent further damage. Good news: No head gear will be needed!

January 31st is the big day. Unbelievably, when they went over his x-rays with me, they pointed out that he has lost all of his baby teeth! I had no idea! (Sniff, sniff.) So no more "tooth fairy" for him! Good grief, my boy is growing up. If you are wondering how much braces cost these days, leave a comment or send me an email. I don't have the heart to post the amount. It's not comforting. Andy commented, "Oh well. At least the car is paid off." Silver lining. Jack saw the quote and said, "Whoa! Do you really think my teeth are worth THAT amount??" He was probably thinking we could take a couple trips to Disney World instead and he would be just fine with it!

One more funny. The orthodontist asks her patients to fill out a questionnaire before they are called back to see her. One of the questions asked, "How do you feel about getting braces?" My 9 year old, Joshua, answered, "I think braces will improve my future." And to the last question (after a dozen questions about their interests), "Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?", he replied, "No. But thank you for asking." Adorable, huh?

Thursday, January 12, 2012


My last post made me laugh. It was funny for me to think of how many people (my husband included) who would be UTTERLY depressed by using a list to relieve stress! But I take comfort in lists and goals. That's just how I roll. Typical me. I even already used my list for inspiration with the kids this week. Paper snowflakes!
Yesterday in the car my son was feeling exhausted. It took him a while to fall asleep the night before and then he said the loud storms kept him up during the night. Exhaustion for him leads to a very melancholy boy. He was lost in his emotions and deep thought on our 50 minute drive home from classes. At last we reached our driveway, and he muttered, "Mom, would we be alive without hope?" And I responded, "We could live. But not well." It's like living with a miniature C.S. Lewis. I love it. Typical Jack, always questioning and thinking. Always challenging me, in a good way.
Today we took a walk around the farm. The dog was crazy with energy and I wanted to take advantage of a break in the rain. We had such a wonderful time...watching our sticks race down the creek, looking for signs of animals (scat and tracks), splashing in puddles, just meandering. When I take the time to be outside life is so much fuller. So good to enjoy typical, simple, farm pleasures.And lastly, here's typical Lydie, practicing gymnastics in the living room. This happens every night! Usually she practices tumbling, but lately she has been laying out my exercise band and using it as her balance beam. Her first gymnastics meet is coming up soon. Exciting! And now for a typical evening of dinner (which my husband volunteered to make!), clean up, cuddles, struggling to stay awake and connect with my husband, stealing a few minutes to read, and dragging myself into bed to prep for a new day. Typical moments: not grand, but precious nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gray winter

As is customary, I am starting to feel the cold ache of winter. Not that it is really cold around here. But it is gray and rainy. And Christmas is over, as well as our much anticipated trip. I am beginning to feel the sting. These winter blues come like a thief in the night, and I truly believe each year that I have seasonal depression. Isn't that strange?
This year it is really such a help to know that it will certainly not last forever. My life is good and God has ordained my steps. And if I can just focus on this very moment, as well as have a few things planned for future weeks (for those really hard days), I will be just fine. Every summer I make a bucket list for the kids and I. I really THRIVE from June to December! And the bucket list sets us off into fun oblivion, which rolls into an exciting school year, the beautiful fall season, holidays celebrations during Thanksgiving and Christmas...and then January. Blah. I am SO encouraged by those who love January. It gives me hope that one day, or year, I won't dread it so much!
This year I have a plan. I am going to sit here until I have 20 items on my WINTER BUCKET LIST. Here goes...
1. Bonfires, s'mores, and guitar playing. Often.
2. Be Josh's biggest fan at his basketball games this season. Make posters!
3. Hot chocolate and good read-alouds with the kids on cold nights.
4. Make paper snowflakes and hang them from the ceilings!
5. Watch the entire Harry Potter dvd set with Jack and Andy(Jack got it for Christmas!).
6. Continue Wednesday date lunches with Lydie while the boys are in classes. So special!
7. Visit the nursing home with the kids often.
8. Plan our personal garden and order seeds.
9. Teach Toby (our dog) a new trick. Take him on a walk around the farm several times a week.
10. Go on two field trips each month. (Winter months are a perfect time to splurge and take a couple of extra fun days!)
11. Drill our neighbor friend's high school exit exam booklet until he feels confident he can pass. One more chance in March!
12. Go on a date with Andy each month. (This may mean candlelight and wine at home when the kids are asleep).
13. Host friends from Atlanta or new friends at our farm frequently. (Already have two visitors coming in January, and one in February!) Attention Laura Beth: This means YOU and your family!! :)
14. Plan the kids' Valentine party at their hybrid school.
15. Do a fun, winter art project every week with the kids.
16. Take one road trip this winter. Chattanooga, maybe?
17. Visit an art museum, maybe.
18. Have a sewing day all day long one Saturday.
19. Try to go to Women's Bible study with friends every week!
20. Read the Bible and other books every day, even if it means just keeping a book open in the kitchen when I am cooking! Here's what I hope to read this winter in the Bible: Psalms, Proverbs, Acts, Romans, and Galatians. I am also reading The Story, a condensed version of the Bible with the Bible study ladies. (I have been hanging out in the Old Testament too long!) For other reading: Family-Driven Faith, Boyhood and Beyond, Cold Sassy Tree, The Glass Lake, and The Shell Seekers. This list is a good combination of non-fiction, parenting, mystery, and fiction. Should be an interesting challenge to get through the entire list by the time the sunflowers are planted!

I CAN NOT WAIT FOR THE SUNFLOWERS! But until then, winter is looking up! It might seem depressing, but at least this list proves to me that it is NOT boring!! :) I really do have so much for which to be thankful, and so much to look forward to!!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A new year, a new word

I'm a little late, I know. Just a tad. But on New Year's Eve my little girl was curled up in my lap, feverish and vomiting every 20 minutes on cue, in a condo in Colorado. And then 24 hours later, same scenario with the boys. And in the midst of the illness, there came packing and flights home. Then unpacking, nausea of my own, dirty laundry, taking down Christmas lights, fitting in two days of school on Thursday and Friday, and the death of my precious Great Uncle Gene. So here we are on the 7th.

To be honest, I was so busy enjoying, really enjoying, December and our trip out west that the new year came before I gave it a second thought. Normally when Christmas is over, the new year pervades the thoughts of the following 6 days until I am bursting with resolutions and my word and I am good and ready for the ball to drop! Normally, we would be at my best friend's house on New Year's Eve. But this year was different, and good, too! Yes, here we are on the 7th already! (Time, please slow down!!)

Here is my word for 2012 (it's a doozy):


(Greek origin)

::to resound or echo

::to celebrate or initiate

::to repeat another's words or deeds

As I remember "catchesis", I hope to echo, celebrate, and repeat Christ! And the kids chose a word this year, too! Jack's is TRUST, Joshua chose SELF-CONTROL, and Lydie chose LOVE. Funny, because those are not things I think they lack at all!

Words from the past:

Delight (2011)

Peace (2010)

Satisfaction (2009)

Courage (2008)

As for resolutions, I'll need a few more days to stew on those!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Hello Steamboat Springs, Colorado!

Every couple of years my Dad and Aunt take all of us (26 people, including my brother's family and my cousins' families) on a big vacation. In the past we traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2006 and we enjoyed a Caribbean cruise in 2009. For our third trip we left the day after Christmas for an 8 day trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. (We have also been on many trips around the south, too.) This trip was so.much.FUN! As Andy and I are not part of the family business that my Dad, Aunt, cousin, and brother work together for, we feel so blessed and thankful to be included on this trip where my Dad and Aunt pay for us to enjoy such rich experiences. WE ARE SO THANKFUL!! How can we say thank you enough?? Here were some of the highlights: Exquisite suites with an amazing concierge who helped us daily with rentals, reservations, and recommendations. We were spoiled all week both with the accommodations and the fact that we walked across the street and were on the slopes!

A horse-drawn sleigh ride under starlight was beautiful, even if our teeth were chattering!
We loved our dinner on the ranch (after the sleigh ride), complete with music and "roping lessons". Loved seeing the kids and adults dance and play! A day on snow mobiles with the kids was a blast. The views were spectacular! Ski school and private ski lessons for the children were such a gift! My boys went from never skiing to racing down the slopes with their Dad. Seeing them enjoy and excel at a new sport is such a thrill! My little girl learned how to go fast and stop herself quite well on skis. She was fearless, too. We enjoyed several very delicious meals with the whole gang. (Aunts, Uncles, and cousins just around the corner.) New Year's Eve boasted fireworks and skiers zooming down the mountain with torches! (**And Auburn won their bowl game!)For down time...we had lots of time hanging out with cousins and aunts and uncles. I read a very, very good book cover-to-cover on airplanes and during restful moments. We had a quiet day at a movie and shopping with the kids when we needed a break from the slopes. Downtown Steamboat Springs is really fun and quaint! I am trying to be thankful for the stomach bug the kids got on the last couple of days, which was admittedly horrific, but taught me several things as I listened and watched for God. First of all, if you wake up at 5 am and feel a deep sense that your child should not go to ski school, just don't send her!! (I didn't listen and I am convinced this is where the stomach bug was picked up!) Also, I am learning to pray specifically and trust in God's good hand. I prayed for God to please spare us any vomiting on the airplane trips home. One child threw up in the rental car just seconds before we got out at the airport. Another threw up after we arrived in Birmingham at the baggage claim area. But for 8 hours we had no vomiting or upset stomach on either of the airplanes. This was a blessing that really grew my faith! Thank you, Lord!! With six kids (mine and my brother's) who had the stomach bug on the way home, not a single one got sick on the airplanes!! And it was a LONG trip! And, I am EXTREMELY relieved that my Mom was in our suite as well, and did not get the virus. This is quite a miracle as her immune system is so compromised with the chemotherapy! Yay!! Also, beyond those prayers we were blessed with three kids who did not complain about the trip home, even though they were as sick as could be. Wow. It was actually a smooth, easy trip home-by God's grace! Here was my sweet son beside me on the plane, quietly yawning. Poor guy. It is so deeply encouraging to witness God take a rookie farmer and his wife and continue to provide for our family beyond our wildest imaginations! He continues to bless us, and we are so undeserving! I was so worried that my children would "do without" when we moved here. But instead, they have enjoyed blessing after blessing! In fact, somehow they have had more opportunities, which I am sure is God affirming our big leap of faith in moving here. The sweet love and generosity of our family to share their resources with us in order to give us such a once-in-a-lifetime trip together makes us feel so treasured by family and by God! Thank you!! We had such a wonderful week with fun times that will be permanently etched in our memories!

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Ephesians 3: 20-21 (New American Standard version)