Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Birth Day!

Fourteen years ago today, a mother was born.  The birth of a mother is an event that's marked in the heart, not on the calendar.  It's a milestone that is secondary to the birth of the child and over time, it's not celebrated on the day it occurred but on a random day in May. 

I began this day thinking about that morning fourteen years ago.  The baby we had yet to meet was 12 days late.  We drove to the hospital, stopping at McD's on the way for breakfast.  I knew hospital policy was not going to allow me to eat and I wanted a sausage biscuit and cup of coffee to prepare me for the day ahead.  Before dinner on her birthday, I was holding my beautiful baby girl and I'd become a new person. 

I believe my change to mother began at some point during delivery and has continued each minute through the present one. I don't think developing as a mother is a smooth and seamless process.  Motherhood seems to occur in fits and starts.  Sometimes, I'm developing mother skills.  Other times, I'm just surviving and praying for bedtime.  Today, I was celebrating.

I put up pink crepe paper, baked a fabulous chocolate cake, iced it with pink butter cream frosting and stuffed a flock of gift bags with books and the one, most desirable gift, an iPod Touch.  I sang "Happy Birthday" several times, to her and to me.  This is our birth day.  It's one we will always share because on this day we were born to each other.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Catching Air

This week we began our physical science lessons.  Our first week focused on reviewing the scientific method and learning more about air.  As always, I have a boat load of library books and we've spent considerable time reading.  We also found experiments in the books that seemed interesting and tried a couple.  Here are some pictures of our efforts.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Weekly Recap 8/23-8/27

I'm afraid to post how well this week has gone.  I know it's only our first full week of school and there is no telling what the rest of this year will bring but this week TOTALLY ROCKED!  We had so much fun doing history and science.  Check out our monk's meal and our air experiments!  We've read a ton of Aesop's fables with the youngers.  M6 even included a moral on The Tale of the Three Little Kittens today in grammar.  I'm enjoying Beowulf with H11 like I never did when I read it in high school.  She likes it too!  H11 also found interest in the calligraphy books I checked out to go along with our history lessons.  She spent quite a bit of her free time today learning how to write in a new way. 

Everyone settled in and found their groove so quickly.  Even the hurdles were easily jumped.  S8 saw the front of the Song School Latin book and dug in his heels.  He's a child that is easy beyond belief so I knew I'd better come up with a plan b quickly and not push this.  He hates to sing and I just hadn't thought it through very well when I picked this curriculum for M6 and S8 to share.  M6 loves, loves, loves that monkey and the songs so it was a great pick for her.  Latina Christiana is on it's way for S8.  He's pleased.  He already likes the name of the program.

Our other switch this week was from Phonics Pathways to Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.  M6 has hated Phonics Pathways since we left the single letter pages.  There are just too many words per page and it overwhelms her.  She throws up her hands in defeat before she sounds the first word and she's not fooled when I cover parts of the page.  She knows the words are still lurking there, waiting to be read.  We'd tried Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading before Phonics Pathways and the verdict then was, "You are talking too much, Mommie."  I've cut back on the talking and she's much happier with the amount of time and number of words per lesson.  We'll see how long this works.

Algebra, French and Band at the high school
Community Bible Study - The Acts of the Apostles
Analytical Grammar - Unit 1
Writing Strands 5 - Lesson 5
HOTMW - Chapters 1-5
TMW - Lecture 1
Physical Science - Scientific Method and Air
First Form Latin - Unit 1 Lesson 1

Community Bible Study - The Acts of the Apostles
Reading together - Beowulf
Analytical Grammar - Unit 1
Writing - Writing Strands 4 - Lesson 10
Math - review of multiplication facts 0-12
History - SOTW2 Ch 3
Physical Science - Scientific Method & Air
First Form Latin - Unit 1 Lesson 1
Music - Flute

Community Bible Study - The Acts of the Apostles
Reading together - Aesop's Fables
Writing - Writing Through History
R&S Grammar 3 - Lessons 6-9
Math - review of multiplication facts 0-12
History - SOTW2 Ch 3
Physical Science - Scientific Method & Air
Latina Christiana - on it's way
Music - violin

Community Bible Study - early ed. program
Reading together - Aesop's Fables
OPGTTR - through Lesson 27
First Language Lessons - #71-74
Abeka - Writing Lessons 4-7
Math - addition
History - SOTW2 Ch 3
Physical Science - Scientific Method & Air
Song School Latin - Ch 1

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Meal for Monks

We are studying the Middle Ages and early Renaissance this year.  In Story of the World 2, one of the activities for Chapter 3 Christianity Comes to Britain is the preparation of a monk's supper.  My children enjoy history so much and I love to foster that sense of connection for them.  Today, preparing Lentil Soup and baking bread gave us time to talk more about what it must have been like during the Middle Ages and time to share with each other.  

H11 loves to create and being in the kitchen feeds her creative spirit in more ways than one.

M6 likes to get her hands messy so this is the perfect activity for her.

S8's interest doesn't extend to cooking but he likes the idea of illumination in writing so he's writing a story about good verses evil and pulling out all the stops by making the writing really fancy.

All in all, I think we were successful in making a meal fit for monks.

Still on Hold

In the last month we've been hurrying up to wait.  We are on week three of our wait and I have to admit, I'm sick of being on  hold.  A month ago we began planning for a move and major lifestyle change.  We were excited and energized.  We set wheels in motion, cancelled some plans, rearranged commitments, began to dream and then...nothing.  Three weeks later still more nothing.

We have been trying to use the time to focus and to pray for guidance, for wisdom, for peace.  Over the last week we've pretty much been praying for any news.  No news is no longer good news and we are ready to move forward or back but just to move.

With a home full of children and their various activities, my idea of waiting may seem pretty active.  We are still doing school.  We are still involved in and signing up for additional activities.  We are still making plans for this place in the future.  We say things like, "Next month we'll ..."  or "At Christmas time, we'll ...." and those sentences include people and places that can be found only in our current location.

The leisure of waiting has enabled time for cleaning out and paring down.  I've got four more boxes ready to be moved out of the house.  After we go through the summer clothes, the load will be even lighter.  I love the idea of streamlining, of only having what is necessary instead of what is present.  I no longer have four full file cabinet drawers.  I think I might only have one very full drawer if I put it all together.  There's a chance the file cabinet itself might be the next big item to be moved out of the house.  I think the red chair may go with it and perhaps a bed, and futon.  I'm sure there are several sets of towels and sheets that are no longer necessary.  It's amazing all that we have and how little is really necessary.

And so, I pass my waiting time by emersing myself in the everyday.  By paying attention to the blessings and the plenty, I destract myself from the desires and hopes of the future.  It's not a bad place to be really.  Full of hope and promise. Savoring the moments that make each day rich.  Maybe being on hold isn't such a bad place to be.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our First Day of School Tea Party

The tradition of the First Day of School Tea Party began as a distraction for me and a way of focusing on when my children would be home instead of waiting endlessly in misery.  K13 was in public school from kindergarten through seventh grade so there were a lot of first days that I endured by sending my children off and then planning and preparing for their return.  M6 will be the only one not to ride the bus home on the first day of school and find a special tea party waiting for her. 

We've stopped riding the bus to school but we have continued the celebration.  Because we start school when we choose, we can also pick which day we have the tea party.  This year we had it on the first day that everyone was home doing school.  Another change in the ritual is the number of cooks.  Now, everyone is here to help in the preparation.  It's no longer my menu or my sole responsibility.  I must admit, I'd rather have the company than the control.  This year H11 made her world famous deviled eggs.  S8 ran to and from the composter to keep the counters cleared and the cooks happy.  M5 and K13 set the table and Dad made it home just in time to eat, as usual.

Happy First Day of School, everyone!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekly Recap 8/16-8/20

We started our school year this week.   We spent Monday and Tuesday running errands, going out to lunch, playing outside and watching movies.  They were relaxing days and got us ready to begin our school year.  Because we homeschool and don't have to start on the same day as the public schools, we decided to start on Wednesday. You can check out our first day of school pictures if you like.

Wednesday was K13's first day of high school. This year she'll be taking three classes at the local high school: French, Band and Algebra. She's also decided to participate in the marching band. It's an activity that she's really enjoyed so far. K13 and I haven't started any of our homeschool classes, other than Bible, because of our abbreviated schedule this week.

Thursday was M's birthday (yes, more pictures) so we only went to the first day of our Community Bible Study on Thursday.  No school on birthdays!  (I love being able to make these rules.)..

Friday we tackled another day of homeschool while K13 went back for her second day of high school.  She's on an every other day schedule so it keeps things interesting for us when managing schedules and activities.
H11's favorite activity this week was writing. Writing Strands is such a great fit for her.

S8 enjoyed getting back into history this week.  He loves the stories.  He especially enjoys the stories about wars and fighting.   He can't wait to learn more about the Vikings.  Here he's illustrating the story of Beowulf that we read in SOTW2. 
M6 enjoyed being funny with her phonics this week.  Teaching her is going to be quite a challenge because "I don't feel like..." is one of her favorite expressions.

Algebra, French and Band at the high school
Community Bible Study - The Acts of the Apostles

Analytical Grammar - Lesson 1 Exercises 1&2
Writing - Writing Strands 4 - #4
Math - review of multiplication facts 0-12
History - SOTW2 Ch 1 & 2
Physical Science -
Music - Flute

Writing - Writing Through History
R&S Grammar 3 - Lessons 1-5
Math - review of multiplication facts 0-12
History - SOTW2 Ch 1&2
Physical Science -
Music - violin

Phonics Pathways
First Language Lessons - #67-68
Math - addition
History - SOTW2 Ch 1 & 2

Physical Science -

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Birthday!

M5 is now M6!!

Lunch at her favorite Mexican restaurant. 

She's been waiting all year for this!

Happy Birthday to you!

Sleep tight sweet birthday princess.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday and NOT Back to School: Student Photo Week




 K13 starting high school.  H11 starting 6th grade.  S8 starting 3rd grade.  M5 continuing K/1st grade.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Measure of Worship

My family chose to attend a different church today.  We are members of a church that we all enjoy but on this last lazy Sunday before the start of school we were all happy with a change of pace and a shorter drive.  The green in me was happy to only drive three miles rather than twenty.  The Presbyterian in me wasn't so happy with the change in worship style and expectations.   All of me survived and even learned a bit from stepping out in worship.

First, I learned that worship is different things to different people.  Yes, I did know this.  It was interesting to really think about what I enjoy and realize what, to me, is worshipful. 

Music is worshipful.  Whether it comes from an organ, piano, flute, violin, guitar or drums, dare I even say clanging cymbals?  I find music that praises God to be worshipful.  Words are worshipful when set to music.  Whether the words are on a big screen or in a hymnal, words that praise God and acknowledge God's creation, power and mercy are worshipful. 

Prayer is worshipful.  I love the act of praying communally, silently and listening to others pray.  I find the moments of silence to be a gift.  I find the sharing of concerns and blessings to be part of what makes church a place of community for me.  Knowing that we are all praying for the same things at the same time is worshipful.

Sharing scripture and a message is worshipful.  Digging into God's word and realizing, once again, that it speaks to me is such a humbling and filling experience.  Hearing the same message with new ears or a new message with an open heart is worshipful.  Knowing that God wants me to know more and come closer is worshipful.

The things that I don't find worshipful are more varied but not really surprising.  Announcements and offering are not worshipful, even when they are set to music.  Another thing that I have a hard time finding worshipful is communion and that's kind of crazy because it should be the most worshipful of all. 

Today at the church we attended the communion was the drive-through variety.  Cruise up the aisle, grab your bread and your grape juice and cruise on back to your seat to enjoy the holy meal.   I've never experienced drive-through communion with these nifty to-go sets but I'm sure there are many who receive their communion in this manner without a second thought.  I've also experienced communion passed through the aisles while everyone sits and waits, praying that no one will drop a tray of cups or a plate of bread while it's being passed.  Especially praying that none of my family members drop the trays.  Intinction is a bit like the drive-through communion but someone actually presents the bread and cup to you.  I find intinction to be a bit more personal than the drive-through method though it tends to be a bit messier.   I think it's the activity required and my tendancy to focus on what's happening around me rather than on God that makes communion less than worshipful for me.

I found myself wondering today why we don't celebrate communion during a meal, like Jesus and the disciples did.  Communion by communing.  It seems logical and biblical.  I'm going to give that more thought but it just seems to strike the right chord.  What's better than sharing a great meal with friends and family, talking, laughing, really being together and blessing each other?  Then completing the communion with believers by communing with God.  Sharing a moment that calls God in and makes God part of all the good you've been given.  That sounds like the perfect exercise in worship to me.  Where can I find a church that worships like that?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Birth Days

My sister had her first child a few days ago.  My youngest daughter and my oldest daughter will be celebrating their birthdays in the next two weeks.  All these birthdays have made me think more about what a birth day means to me, as a mother.

I spent part of this morning shopping with my youngest daughter for her birthday party.  She's planning a pajama party.  Pizza, movies, manicures and a sleepover with her friends.  We bought Hello Kitty plates, cups, napkins, invitations, pink balloons, crepe paper, a pinata and candy.   We made a guest list then we filled out and delivered the invitations.

For my daughter, her birthday is all about being the special one.  It's her opportunity to make requests and order the world just the way she likes it.   For me, birthdays are a time to remember.  They are an opportunity to reflect over the past year and all the years before.  They are the day that I focus on one child and our time together.  Each of my children has a birth story that is as unique as they are.  I love that our celebrations now reflect their unique likes, dislikes and interests.  I love sharing a day that is all about them.

I'm certain my children have little understanding about what makes a birthday a truly special day.  It would be impossible to explain how birthdays belong to me more than they belong to them.  They can't understand how becoming a mother to each of them has changed me.  Someday they may be parents and then they will know what a birthday is about.  Until then, we'll share these special days on their terms.  Complete with pink balloons and chocolate cake.  A celebration of the life we share.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekly Recap 8/9-8/13

It's amazing how quickly this summer has gone.  We've had a week of vacation at the beach, two weeks with a child at camp, a week with grandparents visiting, two weeks with two girls away at visiting grandparents, a week of vacation bible school, a month of Dad out of town and a week of Mom out of town.  In the last two weeks alone we've visited with two aunts and three cousins at the Indianapolis zoo, traveled to and from West Virginia, put Grandpap on a plane to be with Grandmomma and our newest cousin in California, picked two daughters up in Iowa, visiting with more aunts, uncles and cousins there.  It's been a busy summer and we've all enjoyed it so much.

Next week we'll begin school again.  The children have spent the last few days stock piling sleepovers and time with friends.  It's too bad we can't really save all the friendship and fun up for the lean days of fall.  I've spent this week finalizing plans and getting weekly assignments down on paper.  I've ordered our first month of books from the library.  As of noon today, the librarians were aware that school is starting again soon.  I was down to nine books on my account.  With today's order, I've got over 200 books on my account.  By Tuesday, they will all be ready to pick up and cart home.  I love my library!  I've made the last minute adjustments, chosen which critical thinking skill books to use, organized my shelves and tidied my binder.  As far as planning goes, we are in great shape. 

I'm not sure how next week will play out. The public schools here begin on Tuesday.  I hate to start school on the first day of publis school.  It seems like that should be a day of declaring our independence from someone else's schedule.  Thursday is M5's birthday.  We don't have school on birthdays.  Those are family holidays.  Maybe a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule will work.  Maybe just a Wednesday, Friday schedule.  The best part?  We get to decide. And whatever we decide will be just right for us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beginning Again

I ventured upstairs to our learning center this afternoon for the first time in a few weeks.  The bottom four stairs were stacked with books and papers.  All the things we've gathered around the house but have been too lazy or hurried to put away were waiting for a ride to the top.  On the top step, there was a mouse trap that my youngest daughter told me she was building.  I didn't pay enough attention and as a result there is a jar of peanut butter in the trash and I'm sure that somewhere in our house are some very well-fed mice.  The mice have been well fed for awhile and are probably not happy that I removed their buffet.  I really need to learn to pay better attention when my children say things like, "Mom, we are going to make a trap for the mouse."

After cleaning up the mouse trap and carrying all the stragglers up the stairs, I spent some time organizing the shelves for the beginning of our school year.  I'm not done but it feels great to have gotten a start.  Considering the fact that school is scheduled to start in a few days, I probably need to do more than start. 

I also spent some time putting together a weekly schedule for the year.  I didn't fill in every subject for every child.  Last year I planned out each little thing.  This year I know that for several of our subjects I don't have to plan every little thing.  We can start with lesson 1 and work our way to lesson 140 without making a grand plan.  We just do what comes next.  It's nice to know how that works and that it does work.  Since, K13 will begin high school this year, I've spent a lot more time writing plans and creating a syllabus for each class.  I want to be ready.  I want to be sure she's ready for whatever future she chooses. 

I don't have a definite start date for school.  I know that K13 will begin her classes at the high school on Wednesday.  I know that we all start Community Bible Study on Thursday.  I know that we'll be celebrating a birthday next Thursday and Friday.  I suppose we'll work school in between the fun things we have planned.  Isn't that one of the luxuries of home school?

I find myself excited about the new year and a bit fearful.  Latin didn't go so well last year.  This year we are trying it again with all four children.  M5 has made it clear that she only wants to do school that is fun.  I know it won't all be fun but it still needs to be done.  S8 can't wait to learn about the middle ages.  Knights and vikings are sure to become a passion for him.  H11 is a hard one to peg.  She can be a joy or a terror and very often is both in the same day.  I pray she finds something to love in our studies this year. 

I pray for all of us.  I pray that we will be blessings to each other and to those around us.  I pray that we will learn and grow.  I pray that we will glorify God.  I pray we will make it through each day with kindness and compassion.  I pray we will ask for forgiveness and forgive with grace.  I pray.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(Not) Back-to-School: School Room Week

Not Back to School Blog Hop

We are so blessed to have a dedicated education center in our home.  These pictures were taken after it was cleaned and organized at the end of the school year last spring.  No, it doesn't normally look like this.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Not Just Any Ice Cream

We are home, not a decision has been made but we did find that ice cream that I predicted.  It's good to accomplish something even when everything else is still up in the air.  The ice cream came from an unexpected source, one of our favorite places in the Parkersburg area, Holl's.

For those of you that haven't had the pleasure of experiencing Holl's you just need to know that it is a chocolate lovers paradise.  It's set up  like a jewelry store displaying each chocolate in a loving and delicious way.  It's the first and only chocolate store I've ever seen give chocolate the staging and respect it deserves.   Chocolate is truly showcased at Holl's in a way that sets in apart.  Not just the display but the chocolate and filling combinations.  There is no fluff here, no mallow, no artificle colors or flavors.  Chocolate, milk, dark and white, and the very best fruit, caramel, and for some, nuts are the only ingredients necessary.

If you are fortunate enough to visit Holl's during strawberry season (true strawberry season, not trucked in strawberry season) then the chocolate dipped strawberries are to die for.  They must be eaten relatively quickly.  I personally prefer not taking them out of the parking lot but one can wait up to two hours, if possessing incredible will power.

If you miss strawberry season, it's possible to find many other outstanding favorites and spend more than $50 on chocolate in less than 15 minutes.  Trust me, I've done it.  However, the point of this story wasn't to wax poetic about chocolate or sing the praises of Holl's, it was to tell you about finding the ice cream.

We pulled up to Holl's this afternoon and were intrigued by the sign hanging on the front claiming gourmet ice cream bars.  We love ice cream and have had some excellent ice cream.  Our local favorite is Graeter's and I doubt you can find better ice cream anywhere on the planet.  I must admit I was sceptical about gourmet ice cream bars.  I scored my $50 worth of chocolate and was preparing to leave when my beautiful children asked in their most angelic voices if they might please, have an ice cream bar.  Being their mother's children they, of course, requested chocolate.  Being a chocolate loving mother I could not refuse their precious request.  Out of the store we came with two gourmet chocolate ice cream bars and I must admit that they were delicious.  Chocolate chocolate chocolate, cold and creamy, on a stick.  Heavenly.  Score another one for Holl's.

As I said earlier, we are still waiting at the crossroads.  No changes to report yet but lots of possibilities.  And delicious ice cream.  I am blessed in so many ways and those ice cream bars are my reminder to pay attention to the blessings even when I'm not sure what's coming next.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


It seems that life has come to a crossroad again.  I love the possibility of a crossroad but the actual decision making can be a problem.  I remember in high school when my best friend and I would go out driving on a weekend.  We'd take enough money for ice cream and a quarter to flip when we got to a crossroad and couldn't decide which way to go.  Often we ended up nowhere, sometimes we got lost but we had each other.  We always laughed and laughed.  We always found ice cream.

As a grown-up, a quarter usually isn't part of my decision making process.  Especially when the decision involves moving or changing jobs or selling/buying houses or uprooting children or anything like that.  I've got a different best friend with me for this journey.  A quarter seems kind of irresponsible so instead we make lists and drink wine and pray and talk.  We dream through possibilities and trouble shoot potential problems.  We pray for ourselves, for the children, for the people that will be affected by our choices, for the future whatever it may be.

We may return from our journey this weekend without any real changes to prepare for.  Reaching the crossroad, we may decide to stay on the current path and not to make a turn.  We may decide to take a very different turn and that would change so many things.  Whatever we choose, we will do it together and we will probably find ice cream somewhere along the way.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

(Not) Back to School Blog Hop: Curriculum Week

Not Back to School Blog Hop

I've decided to join the "Not Back to School Blog Hop" at Heart of the Matter {Online} .  I'm excited about sharing what I'm doing for the coming year with people who might appreciate it.  I've also spent a lot of time preparing for homeschooling my oldest dd through high school.  I'm praying I've prepared well.  If you want to check out all of the plans in detail, click on the links under curriculum in the right hand column.

As a quick recap:
DD5:  Phonics Pathways, Math on the Level, Abeka writing, Story of the World 2, Physical Science, Song School Latin
DS8:  Rod & Staff 3, Writing Strands 2, Spelling Power, Math on the Level,  Story of the World 2, Physical Science, Song School Latin, Violin
DD11:  Analytical Grammar, Writing Strands 4, Spelling Power, Math on the Level, Life of Fred Fractions & Decimals, Story of the World 2, Physical Science, First Form Latin, Flute
DD13:  Analytical Grammar, Writing Strands 5, Elements of Style, A Rule Book for Arguments, History of the Medieval World, Physical Science, First Form Latin, French, Clarinet

We are planning to get started on August 17.  Of course, plans can always change.