Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"My cup runneth over" today...

Hubby was off today and took the girls on a daddy date, so I had the opportunity for a relaxing time with the boys. I purchased a "Read and Learn with Classic Stories Grade 1" published by McGraw-Hill over the weekend for $3 at a yardsale. There are six classic stories all with several pages of follow up fun worksheets for each story.

G7 is just coming out of 1st grade. He is doing well reading words in isolation, but has struggled with reading fluently. I have been certain that he just needs practice, but have yet to be very successful in including reading practice in our day. Instead, we have been quite bogged down by just surviving the end of the school year. Penmanship and spelling words and even family reading was on the schedule, but reading practice was not. Well, praise God that schedule is now fulfilled and no longer in operation!

I thought I might show my yardsale find to G7 and encourage him to read the first story. I was actually expecting it to be a little painful, as each of the stories are about 35 pages long. Plus, these are not the "one sentence per page" picture books. Each page has about a paragraph of text. Nonetheless, to say that I was "pleasantly surprised" by how well he did is an extreme understatement!

He read through the entire story without stopping or complaining. He actually sped through it quite quickly, reading words that I never would have imagined he could read without my help. And best of all, he loved it! After nearly 20 minutes of reading, he actually asked if he could read the next story! I encouraged him to do some of the worksheets first, which he skipped to the table to do and then completed 7 of them.

It is my goal for this upcoming school year to be the year when my children learn to love the written word. How grateful I am that I am already seeing it! Truly God is going before me preparing my children's hearts and minds. I thought about titling this blog "Success is Sweet", but couldn't. The success is not mine. It belongs solely to my seven year old and the One who created him. I have been blessed to be a part of it! Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Awards Day


Today was Awards Day for G7 and A6 at the cottage school we've been they've been attending this year. G7 received the "Marvelous Mathematician" Award and A6 received the "Super Helper" Award. Both very appropriate, I thought :-)!


DH took this picture, though since he wasn't actually in any of the pictures, I have no evidence of him being there. However, for once, I do have evidence that I was there.


Here's the whole crew!

Silly kids at Awards Day

They insisted on a "silly" picture.

We even had a "nature study" moment as the kids discovered a small frog outside the building. E4 is my bravest...I was certain it would jump on his head if he got any closer.


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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oh, the possibilities of Summer...

For the last four years, our children have been enrolled in a classical cottage school. They would 'go to school' two days a week, and I would homeschool them the other three. It has been a great experience for the kids and I truly believe God used this program to give me the courage to homeschool, when I was so unsure about it in the beginning. But I am also very excited about our new adventure of homeschooling on our own starting...well, now.

At least, I had planned to start in the fall. But then became so excited about teaching them 'my way' (not using pre-planned lessons that someone else has given me) that I've even planned out an entire summer unit study. Not to mention, I keep coming across more and more things I want to add to next year's curriculum. This is probably not so uncommon for homeschoolers, especially one who is so new to lesson planning...but I'm starting to wonder if I'm setting myself up for more than just failure...disaster maybe!

Our school year has literally just ended. Tomorrow our kids will attend awards day, which will finalize the school year. I thought I would find relief waiting for me since I would no longer be overwhelmed with the day's schoolwork. Instead, I am finding that I feel unproductive and overwhelmed by all the things I could do with my free time. I had planned to wait a week before starting our Summer unit study, but I could get a head start now since we are bound to fall behind when the baby comes (in less than two weeks). I could spend my time on lesson planning for the fall. I could clean...lol, oh that was a good one! I could just relax and rest and enjoy my kids outside the realm of structured learning...I used to be able to do this, so why does it seem so hard now? Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Official Lapbookers

Well, I guess it's official now that the glue is dry....we are lapbookers. The kids are coloring their first minibooks as I type. I think I'll wait to post pictures until the actual lapbooks are complete.

We are using In The Hands of a Child's Dental Health Lapbook. You can find it at the following link: http://www.handsofachild.com/shop/Search.aspx?k=Dental+Health

I really wanted to try lapbooking and I've been looking for a way to teach the kids about proper dental hygiene. I simply don't have time to hover over each and every one of them as they brush their teeth every morning and evening, so I felt it was really time for them to "own" this all themselves. I figured if they could learn the how and why of taking care of their teeth in a hands on way, that maybe it would actually stick with them while they're brushing.

HOAC's lapbook is really exactly what I was looking for. Though I have to admit, it was harder for my littlest ones (ages 4 and 2) than I expected. I knew they would have a hard time grasping some of the concepts, but the time it takes for them to cut and paste is quite a lot as well. I may have to find a way to simplify their minibooks with less complex cuts. Not letting them make their own lapbooks seems out of the question, because they are all so excited about it.

I did find it necessary to add some picture books to the lesson plans as well because of the kids' young ages. I just hosted an Usborne book party and got a TON of free books, so I used Usborne's First Encyclopedia of the Human Body and Going to the Dentist. After reading these to them, I presented the first lesson and they each made their vocabulary booklets.

I think I made the event more stressful than it needed to be, but I am pretty certain that only has to do with my constant level of stress now that I am within only about three weeks of D-Day (due day). I did enjoy listening to this little discussion...

"What if the President sees our lapbooks?" A6

"I hope he doesn't because my lines aren't cut very straight." G7

This conversation took place after I stressed the importance of making these projects the best they can be because we will display them for people to see. I'm not sure who gave them the impression that we run in social circles with the president! Pin It Now!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Our first attempts at Nature Journaling

It was about two weeks ago and the temperature was just right. I just so happened to be energetic enough to get the kids out of their "homeschool uniforms" (pajamas) and dressed to go outside. This was the perfect day to make our first attempt at nature journaling. So I rounded up baggies of colored pencils, a big blanket, and C.S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy. I read as they drew and even though none of us have quite grasped the concept yet, I think these entries were well worth documenting...

G7 drew an "Oak Tree" and "A Flower and a Tree and a crow", though he is quick to point out that he didn't actually see the crow, he just heard it.

Aubrey's Nature Journal

I loved A6's title of "Wishes" for her dandilion picture.

Eli's Nature Journal

Who needs reality when you have an imagination? E4 draws a volcano.

Haleigh's Nature Journal

And H2 sees and draws "Jesus" in our back yard. :-) Pin It Now!

Romans 8:38

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I remember the first time I read this verse. I thought it was so beautiful and powerful that I wrote it down on a piece of paper and stuck it on the side of the refrigerator so that I could look at it everyday. Last year was a trying year for our family... a refining year. We are still quite in the midst of it, so I have recently written down several verses on index cards to remind me of the truth (despite our circumstances). This verse is the one I happen to be looking at today.

For I... There are 3 verses that I have highlighted and have written down in Chapter 8 of Romans. It helps to look back all the way to v. 18 to see what Paul is talking about. "I consider that our present sufferings aren't worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." I won't even pretend to have any knowledge of the sufferings that Paul is talking about here. Who can truly begin to imagine what the 1st century Christians had to endure as a result of their faith. But what I can't pass by, is how relevant this scripture is to us all in every day and age. We live in a sin ravaged world and all are suffering in some way, big or small. In v. 28 Paul goes on to say "And we know that for all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Another beautiful promise, especially for those of us who are beginning to grow weary of our circumstances. But it still does not compare with the beauty of this final verse 38, the climax of the chapter.

am convinced... The Webster's Dictionary defines convinced as "to believe without doubt".

that neither death nor life... I am currently in the middle of a fascinating fiction series by Francine Rivers ( the Mark of the Lion series). It is set in Roman times immediately following the destruction of Jerusalem. One of the characters is a Christian named Hadassah who was taken prisoner and made a slave. Her greatest struggle in the first book, A Voice in the Wind , is her struggle with fear. She is desperately afraid not only to share her faith, but that if the time ever came that she must choose between proclaiming Christ and facing death or denying Him that she would fail God. Her greatest fears are realized when she is put in that exact position and what she finds is that she is able to proclaim Christ not because of any courage of her own, but because in God's mercy he provides her with all of the courage that she needs.

neither angels nor demons... This reminds me of possibly my favorite verse, 1 John 4:4, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."

neither the present or the future... And here the verse gets very personal for me. I have been blessed in so many ways...a hardworking and loving husband, beautiful and healthy children, a giving family, provision for my every basic need...but when I think back over the past twelve months and particularly the financial situation we are currently in, I just want to crawl back under the covers. 2007 was a "one thing after the other" year. A friend of mine recently tried to reassure me by saying "There's a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train." However, I have to admit that I'm still not so sure there aren't a few more trains coming before the end of my tunnel. But this verse is a wonderful reminder, that no matter what my present or future holds, I cannot be separated from the love of God.

nor any powers... What other powers are there? Political, governments, religions, riches.

neither height nor depth... What is your position in life? Is is a high position: Are you famous, wealthy, and well respected? Is it a low position: Are you alone in life, no money, no job, no hope? Christ loves you no matter your status.

nor anything else in all creation... What keeps me from communing with God? Time, busyness, laziness, selfishness. T.V., kids, "just one more hour" of sleep. Sin.

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. What love is this? A sacrificial love, an unconditional love, an unending love. A love like no other. A love that fills to overflowing. A love that gives peace and hope. The love of Christ. Pin It Now!


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