Thursday, December 26, 2013

Joy

"Is she always that happy?"

"Yes, always!  She really is."

Spending the entire day with family yesterday, this made my eyes water a little more than anything else. There's something to be said for being full of His Joy.  It's even better when people start to notice.

May your 2014 be so full of Joy that people start to look at you funny.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jump

I made a plan!  I'm not always the most organized, so when I have a plan and actually do the work to stick to it, well, that's something!

So today, I had a plan.  I had been adding items to my "final shopping trip before Christmas" list for a couple days now.  My hubby has the van for an away-from-the-office work trip today.  But that didn't matter, because my parents' car is just sitting here, taking up space in my driveway while they're taking pictures of turtles off on some faraway island.

So, list in hand, I corralled the kids and told them to grab a book because we were going to be out for a while.  (I had a few stores to visit, after all.)  We went out, unlocked the car, and figured out where we all wanted to sit (this is a big deal when you're eight and nine, apparently.)  I got in and turned the key.  The lights lit up.  And then they didn't.

And there was silence, save for the wind whipping around outside the car.

I turned the key again.

Lights.  No action.

"Well, kids, looks like we're not going out right now."

"Can we watch Elf when we get back inside?"
"Yeah, that's my favourite Christmas movie because it's so funny."

"Sure."

We'll jump-start the battery later.  The list will wait.  It's suddenly a lazy day around here.  I can't say that I mind too much.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Three Months

It's December. School children have been released from their classes and are at home anxiously anticipating the arrival of the present-bearer of that home, whoever that might be. It seems to be the time for folks to start asking me this one question: “So, now that you're a few months into it, what do you think of homeschooling? Do you still like it? Are you still happy with that decision?”

I always answer with an exuberant, “Yes! We all love it! The kids love it; I love it; it's just a good thing all around.”

Let me elaborate though.
Three months in...

The Pros

The three kids get along better than they ever have before. They have so much extra time in the afternoons now that they've been forced to play together and work through their problems. With Mom-Intervention and without.

With so much time on their hands, the kids are getting really creative in their play time. The two youngest love making up stories with all their stuffed animals and Schleich figures. Sometimes they're on a big train-ride and other times they're running a vet clinic. The older one, with any extra people added in, loves to design with his Legos and K'Nex. It's really cool to see what kind of stuff these guys come up with, given enough free time.

My kids love to read. All of them! The boys are racing through a 600 page novel right now to see which one can finish first, while my girl is enjoying an adventure/fantasy series about a boy who finds a whole world underground. I love that they read first thing in the morning, while we're out driving around, and at night before falling asleep. They read before, but only because they had to. Now they love books!

I have met some amazing families, with whom we have so much in common. It's really encouraging to see so many great families in one place!

I am learning so much that I had forgotten from my school days. (Yeah, I have a bad memory!)

My kids are able to zip through some work (Math) while we take longer in other work that doesn't come as easily (Science.) My youngest has nearly finished his first year of math and is a couple weeks away from starting on the book that his sister is doing.

I love seeing how the different subjects blend together so easily... Especially Science, History, and Geography. It's so easy to start on one topic and go to the next and so on.

Having the kids at home all day really is a great thing for teaching them chores and self-care. They're learning to make lunch on the stove, clean up after themselves, and be more responsible in personal grooming.

The Cons

I can only think of two things that I've really found to be problems.

The first was just so unexpected that it sneaked up on me and punched me in the face... I have no idea how to Christmas shop for my kids! I've chatted with other homeschool moms who have given me some great ideas for next year, but really, I just have fight the crowds like every working mother this year. Ugh. The ease of being a Stay-at-Home-Mom is no longer accessible when it comes to any kind of shopping.

The second thing is something that no one ever really talks about. I am lonely. You would think that with three other people around me all the time, and a network of homeschool moms who I see once a week, I would feel surrounded by people. And I am. But I can't just pick up and go visit a friend when we're missing each other, like I used to. And with how scheduled we were these last couple months (my fault, I'm not doing that again any time soon) it's hard to have a clean-enough house to invite friends over through the afternoons when we are free. I don't have the daily bell time chats that I used to have with other moms on the schoolyard.

So, that is that. I do not regret this decision at all. The kids love it and are so glad that we're doing it. I'm amazed at the opportunities available to us... From a great Arts group to a Lego Robotics League to a crazy fun Gym Day, we have a huge range of options for extra learning. We just need to pace ourselves and keep at it.

We are so blessed.

Making "cells" with Jello and different candies



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I feel like giving something away!!!

'Tis the season, right?

The kids have had fun checking the mailbox and looking at the cards we get from different people.  New friends, childhood friends, family, neighbours...  We love opening Christmas cards.  I got one in the mail yesterday that seems to have put a permanent smile on my face.

Well, before it makes you smile, I should explain.

I've been a fan of a company called Elegantees for a year or two now.  Their mission is to provide work (and ultimately to donate profits) to rescue women from sex trafficking.  

As conversations are started around the proverbial water-cooler (Truth be told, I don't think there really is a proverb about a water-cooler, but you get the idea)...  Anyway, as conversations are started that cause me to think about what I am supporting with my money, I got to thinking that it would be good to make more ethically-purposeful purchases.

Wait, don't think that I'm saying that I am able to change all of my spending habits to suddenly not purchase anything made through slave-trade.  I still buy a lot of things that are likely produced or manufactured by unethical means.  BUT instead of feeling overwhelmed at it all, I decided to start making a difference, one purchase at a time. The fair-trade coffee that I buy now is the same price as most other coffee on the shelf. That was an easy switch.

Clothes...  Most people wear them.  It's winter here.  I'd find myself a much bluer colour if I didn't have some clothes around here.

So, when I came across Elegantees, I was ecstatic.  Their prices are so reasonable; their fashions are really cute; and the clothes are downright comfortable!  This is the kind of company I'd love to support.

And I have!

I've probably annoyed my friends with links and coupon codes and ads for free shipping for this company, but when I love something this much, I just can't help it.  Occasionally, friends will ask where I got a cute shirt and I always beam when I tell them, "Elegantees!"

Let me share my purchases with you so far...


So back to yesterday, I got a Christmas card in my mail box, hand-addressed, in festive green and red, with a lovely message inside.  I smiled and my eyes may have misted over at the obvious thought that went into this. (Hand-addressed?  Different coloured printing?)  And then, what looked like a business card fell out.  It was... Well, look:


They gave me a $10 gift card, just to say thank you for being so supportive of their business.  I could probably get a clearance shirt from their website for about the amount on the card, but I'd rather share it with someone else who may not have had the money or inclination to try something from Elegantees.

So, I'm offering one $10 Gift Card code to the Elegantees online store.  This card code has no expiration date, so you can take your time browsing.

Anyway, if you'd like a chance to win, please Like my Facebook page, Wanda Whoopie-Cushion, and Like the Elegantees Facebook page, and then leave a comment on the Wanda Whoopie-Cushion page letting me know that you've done so.  If you don't have Facebook, that's okay, just leave a comment here letting me know that you don't.  (If you just leave a comment, though, you're on the hook though for contacting me if I draw your name.)  I will select one winner from all the people who have commented through the Wanda Whoopie-Cushion Facebook page (or on this blog post, if you're unable to do it through Facebook.)

One entry per person.
The winner can live wherever they want.  But, as with most things, shipping costs from their store will be higher outside the U.S.
Contest closes on December 31, 2013 at 11:59 pm.
I'll draw a random winner on January 1, 2014, announcing the winner on my blog and contacting the winner through Facebook (or you can contact me if you're not on Facebook.)

**A winner has been announced and contacted.  Thank you to everyone who joined the contest.**

In the meantime, feel free to share this contest with others, and then click over to browse the Elegantees shop.  You may find a cute tee for someone special.

*I have not been paid for any kind of endorsement.  I'm just giving this Gift Card code away because I want to share the awesomeness with everyone.  The Elegantees team was happy to hear about it though.*

A Thinly Veiled Compliment

I was outside just a few minutes ago, getting my daughter to take some pictures of me (for a very exciting giveaway that I can't tell you about yet.)

She looked at the display screen,which was focused on me, and said, matter-of-fact-ly, "You look fatter than usual in here, Mom."

Ahhh...  I do love that girl.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beyond Reason


Back in "the day," when I pretended I might one day have a career, I received a Bachelor's degree in English. I know, it's hard to tell some days as you're reading this blog, but it's true.

15 years later, I am finally doing what I always dreamed of...  Editing!  A friend has written a book and is kindly (and oh-so-patiently) waiting for me to finish reading it and making suggestions for revisions.  I'm about half way through.

(And there was much rejoicing.  Yaaaaay.)

Anyway, as you may have guessed, I'm a bit rusty when it comes to proper AP Style grammar and all that. What's changed?  What are the rules about commas and quotation marks?  Are there exceptions?  And how many tenses are there in the English language?  Good grief!

So, I've been looking up a lot of these questions.  Online.  [Gasp]  There are a few websites that seem to be quite accurate and thorough in their grammatical explanations.  Occasionally though, I just can't find an answer on one of those sites.  So I go exploring.

Today, while looking for rules on the proper use of "half" vs "half of," I read a comment from someone who seemed quite knowledgeable.  Except that one of his sentences began with "The reason is because..."

I remember learning early on that I should never say "The reason is because..."  The reason for this is that the proper way to say it is "The reason is that..."  See what I did there?

(I'm slyly winking at how clever I am.  Can't see me?  Hmm... I'll work on my sly winking for future editions of "So I Think I'm an Editor.")

All that to say, I found the blunder of this grammar genius amusing.  And I'm back to digging up an answer to "half" vs "half of."  The reason is that I just can't trust this The-Reason-is-Because Guy to lead me down the right path.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

As You Wish

I found this list the other day.  I like it.  I've tried to memorize it, but sometimes I get the items mixed up.  So I'm thinking I should just put it up on a wall somewhere.

Anyway, as I think about this list, I realized that I'm really good at some of the stuff on this list.  For example, I've got a pretty bad memory, so I'm pretty good at forgetting the transgressions of others against me.  But then there are other things on the list that I need to keep working on.  The more I want someone to know that I love them, the more I need to make an effort to do these things.

Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love is not proud.
Love does not dishonor others.
Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrong.
Love does not delight in evil.
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.

Love never fails. 

Go ahead and print it out if you want.  I don't think God will mind.  Don't get stuck in the tedium of reading it.  Read each sentence and really think about it.  I'm planning to take the next couple weeks to do that.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Some days

Some days it's nice to feel useful...  like I'm making a difference in my kids' lives, like I'm helping friends in need.

Some days it's just nice to eat brownies.



I'm going to schedule "eat brownies" into my week next week.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hallelujah

My nine year old girl has been listening to the YouTube video of the Hallelujah Chorus flash mob, performed at the mall down the road from us.
(You can click on the video below to watch it...)




I asked her how many times she was going to listen to it.

"I just don't ever want to stop listening to it!"

I know how you feel, Sweetie.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Screech go the brakes

You've probably heard this joke before:
Q: What goes "Vroom, Screech, Vroom, Screech, Vroom, Screech!"
A: A blonde going through a flashing red light.


I thought maybe the answer today was "Wanda."

As I was driving around town today, ferrying kids back and forth, traversing from one side of the city to the other and then doing all that again (carefully avoiding, that second time through, the awful traffic jam that construction caused), I realized that I should have some kind of sticker on my van...


I love my kids and I love running them around to different events.  I love the chance to help out a friend by giving her kids a ride home.  I love hanging out with my niece.  Next time, I'll just plan for it not to all happen at the same time.

Gotta go.  Kids have to get to their mid-week Kids Club at the church down the road and hubby needs a ride home soon.

Vroom!


~


p.s.  A while back a friend kept saying, "Boom goes the dynamite."

A my insistent questioning, he explained that it had its origins on SportsCenter (or something like that) and I echoed back my understanding by saying, "Kinda like 'Screech goes the train?'"

He laughed and said, "Yeah, kind of like that...  But not."  So now when someone says, "Boom!" I always think "Screech!"

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How you doin'?

The kids and I read recently that you can actually make yourself feel better by smiling.  Your emotions are that closely tied to your facial muscles.  We tried it.  It's true.

It's been my goal for a couple years now to get cashiers to smile.  If I'm out with my hubby, I'll challenge him to make the cashier smile before saying good-bye.  He sometimes does some pretty goofy things to get that smile, but he goes for it.

I was telling someone about this recently, over the internet.  As I typed it out I thought, "What's the best way to wrap this up?"

I started typing:  "It's my goal for them to be happy once I leave."  Wait, it's not that I want to make them so miserable that they're glad I'm gone.

I tried again: "It's my goal for them to be happy after they check me out."  Ha ha ha!!!  That's not what I meant either.  



Oh well.  I may not be gooderer at this word-putting-together-thing than you, but I hope I made you smile nonetheless.

Monday, November 25, 2013

3 and...

The girl is using some "Free Time" on the piano today.

(The kids get 10 minutes of free time for every song passed.  This means they get a one day reprieve from practicing a new assigned song.  In theory, it motivates them to pass a song and not mess around.)

So my girl leafed through the piano books and found some Christmas carols.  She opened up The First Noel and starting plunking out notes.

Me: What's your time signature?

She: Um...  3/4.

Me: So you need to count, "3 and 1 and 2 and 3 and 1 and 2 and..."

She, with a look of amazement on her face:  How did you know that it started on 3???

Me (obviously joking):  Because I'm amazing.

May they continue to be amazed at my "vast knowledge" for at least another couple months before they find out I'm a fraud, totally faking this appearance of knowing anything.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The song of my people

The oldest, at the piano:  Mom, tell me a song to play.

Me:  Uh...  Play me the song of my people.

Oldest:  What?

Me: The song of my people...

Girl:  Don't you know it?  "The hills are aliiiiiive, with the sound of muuuu-sic!"

She knows me so well.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Geography, according to a 7 year old

Discussing homophones with the 7 year old today...

Me: So can you use the word "to" in a sentence?"

He: Let's go... *thinking* Let's see, where's Michigan?  Let's go there!  Or Ohighway or somewhere like that.  Do they still live in Ohighway, Mom?

Me:  Who?  Do you mean...

He:  Like Uncle Eli and Aunt Mags and the rest of their family?

Me:  Yes, they still live in Ohio.

He:  We should go to Ohighway too then.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lest We Forget

I have always known November 11 to be "Remembrance Day," as does the rest of the British Commonwealth.  My American friends and family know it as "Veteran's Day."  Whatever you call it, November 11 is the day we remember soldiers who have died for our freedom.

Traditionally, in school, kids will hear a story from a soldier (probably recorded and played back) about their experience in World War I.  After that the entire school would recite/say the poem "In Flanders Fields" together, and we would have a moment of silence to remember soldiers who have died in the line of duty.

Today, I wanted my children to understand what World War I was about.  I wanted to understand what World War I was about.  I barely knew anything about it.

We read, we clicked, we researched.

Finally, after 30-some years of roaming this earth, I know why World War I was started, what they were fighting about, who fought on which side, how many Canadians were involved, and who the Canadian Prime Minister was throughout the war.  I knew none of that before today.

Today, the kids and I figured that about 6 out of 10 able-bodied men between the age of 18 and 45 went off to fight in WWI.  We went through a list of 10 men that age within our circle of friends and family and imagined if 6 of them had to go fight in a war for several years.  We didn't want to think about that happening to us and the men we knew and loved.

When I said "lest we forget" in the past, I didn't know what there was to forget.  Today I do.  Today, I appreciate what those men and those families sacrificed for the greater good of much of the world.  Today I know.


(If you don't know, please take a few minutes to look it up.  There are lots of sites that can fill you in on what happened and why.  It gets down to this:  One man from one country assassinated another man from another country.  The second country declared war and then little by little, others came to join in.  Read up on it.  Find out what really happened.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Early Morning Family Players

My youngest two, this morning:

Girl : Hey Squirrel, watcha doing?

Girl : Hey Squirrel!  Are ya sleeping?

Girl : Hey, SQUIRREL!  Are you using your tail as a blanket?

Boy: Maybe he can't answer.  Or maybe he's dead.

Girl : I guess you're sleeping.  Or maybe laying down on that branch.

Boy: Yep, he might be dead.  Maybe he's been dead for four days.  There's only one way to find out.

Girl : How?

Boy: Well two ways.  You can go out there and try to scare him off.

*Indiscernible mumbling and discussion.  I'm fairly certain the second way was never discussed.*

[The older boy enters the scene]

Girl : Don't touch a dead bird!  You can get infectionated!


Older Boy: I touched a dead bird once and I'm okay.

Girl : Don't!  You can get infectionated!

Older Boy: Well I did.  It was at school during science.

Girl : Well I still wouldn't do it.

Boy: What if your favourite animal was a bird?

Girl: I still wouldn't touch it!

Boy: What if you had gloves on?

Girl : I still wouldn't touch it.


[Beat]

[Beat]


[Beat]

[Rustling of breakfast dishes and cereal boxes]



End Scene.



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rabbit Trail Learning

Yesterday our gym class involved raking three yards and two driveways, for a total of 9 fully-packed leaf bags.
Our gym class score-board.
This morning we read Acts 19.  When we got to verse 10, we talked about the province of Asia, looked it up on a map of the first century A.D., and decided to write into our calendar for the day to "look up how Asia went from such a small province to such a big continent."  We finished reading Acts 19 (which took a lot longer than usual since we had lots to talk about from that chapter) and moved on to Asia.

When we started reading about Asia, we realized that it was in the northeast part of the world, which led us to talking about Japan and their flag, representing the "land of the rising sun."  We looked up other flags of Asia and the next hour and 15 minutes were devoted to each researching different countries in Asia.  The kids took that time to look up interesting facts about their country, find it on a map, and draw the flag.

After analyzing and comparing each other's countries of choice, we moved on to history, which was about Hammurabi and his code of laws. We decided to make our own code for our family.  The kids had some great ideas!
Our kid-created Family Code.  Subject to revision by the governing body

Since we really weren't following any schedule of learning today, we decided to look up some words from the books we've been reading, since we weren't all sure what they meant.  Maybe tomorrow we can compare notes and figure out how in the world these words can be used in sentences.

As I type, the kids are finishing up their independent work (piano, math, reading, knocking over and cleaning up basil plants, etc.) and all I can hear is loud singing.  In French.  They have their songs from "Jubal", our music and drama co-op, stuck in their heads.

Quelle est cette odeur agréable, bergers, qui ravit tous nos sens?
S'exhale t'il rien de semblable au milieu des fleurs du printemps?
Quelle est cette odeur agréable bergers, qui ravit tous nos sens?

I expect to hear "Still, Still, Still" or "Here We Come a-Wassailing" any moment now.

It's been a full day.  I'm so glad to have been part of it.  And I'm really looking forward to sitting back and putting my feet up after dinner.  Which involves leftovers.  That means I don't have to cook.  Yes!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Truth in advertising

The youngest, on commercials:

"I like the Toyota ones."

Why?

"'Cause they're always about cars."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Snippets

We've been pretty busy, enjoying and living life, and I just haven't made time to write.  So, here are a few quick thoughts for now:

1.  I've got two out of three kids who are playing with Legos and singing Mulan's "A Girl Worth Fighting For" at the top of their lungs, with dramatic vibrato.  I love having them home so they can have these moments.

2.  Disemboweled Gourds, Costumes, and Candy Day is two days away.  I've got the candy but we're still working on costumes, and our gourds are woefully intact.  Tomorrow.  We'll work on it all tomorrow.

3.  Three dentist appointments and four optometrist appointments in four business days means not much school gets done.

4.  Mastermind Toys offers a teacher discount.  They do not include Home Educators on that discount.  And now I know.

5.  It's always good to have extended family around, even if you only get bits and pieces of them.  (My parents are trying to buy a new-to-them car, so they have been car shopping these last few days while staying here.)

6.  I am continually reminded to be in prayer for marriages around the world.  Life works so much better when we stick to God's plan for our lives.

7.  My youngest loves singing "Roarin'...  Roarin'...  Roarin' like a lion" over and over.  I just love that he's actually enjoying singing anything.

8. My youngest is on page 126 of a 497 page book.  Most of the time, it's nearly impossible to get him to read.  But, in the last week, he has read 1/4 of Eragon, by Christopher Paolini.  I thank my nephew for introducing our family to this book, and another nephew for letting us borrow the movie.  It's exciting to see my seven (nearly eight) year old enjoying such a book.

9.  The history and science books will not read themselves.  So, I'm off to read with the kids.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Darth Pharaoh

I taught Sunday School this morning.  We're doing a series of lessons on Moses and the Israelites.  This week was all about the escape from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea.  I found a craft to go with the story...  It was simple, but a great visual to help the kids remember the story.  The plan was that I would read through the story, we would make our craft, and then I would read through the story again as the kids manipulated Lego characters over the parted waters of the Red Sea.
Except that I remembered that I wanted the Lego figures about two minutes after we left our house.  So I called the cousins from the road and asked if we could borrow theirs.

An hour later I opened the bag that they brought and saw about 30 mini-figures: Yoda, C-3PO, R2-D2, Jar Jar, Han, Leia, Lando, Storm-Troopers, Luke, Darth, Clones, Rebels...  They were all Star Wars figures!

We went through and read the story.  Next we made our craft.  Then I got out our Star Wars heroes and villains and proceeded to retell the story of Pharaoh and Moses and the Israelites and the Red Sea.

The Israelites enter the parted waters as the Egyptians follow closely behind them.

Moses-Yoda leads the Israelites through the parted waters.
Somehow we ended up with Yoda holding up his arms as Luke and a Rebel pilot finished crossing and Darth Vader and his ilk drowned in the papery curves of the Red Sea.  It was very dramatic.

The Egyptian Storm Troopers get crushed under the waves as the Red Sea closes back up

We improvised and it made for a memorable story.  And a good time was had by all.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

More on driving

I sat at a red light this afternoon, looking at the white Toyota in front of me, waiting for its brake lights to go dim.  The alien sticker on the top left of the rear window told me this driver was probably in their 20s or 30s. The skull sticker on the bottom left of the rear window told me that this driver probably didn't care too much about following a pesky thing like the speed limit.

The red light blinked off and the green light turned on.  Anticipating a speedy departure by the car in front of me, I took my foot off the brake and began to inch forward.  The white car hadn't moved.  The driver appeared to be looking just away from center. Eventually, the car in the oncoming left lane decided to go ahead and turn.  The white Toyota eased forward and accelerated...

... to 40 kph in a 50 kph zone.  (That's about 25 mph in a 30 mph, for my American friends.)  We continued at this very legal (but slower than expected) pace until we reached the next traffic light, which was once again red.

The red light blinked off and the green light turned on.  Once again anticipating a speedy departure by the car in front of me, I took my foot off the brake and began to inch forward.  Once again, the white car hadn't moved.

I peered into the front seat of that car to see if I could figure out what was going on.  Was it an older driver? Was there something wrong?  Eventually, the white Toyota moved forward and accelerated to about 42 kph.

I was starting to get frustrated, trying to hold off some road rage.  Whoever was driving this white Toyota, they were clearly not paying attention.

The next light was red.  The driver turned the blinker on to move into the left turn lane.  I eased my way by, turning my head to see who was driving and what they were doing.

The young 20-something in the driver's seat was engrossed in looking at her cell phone.  I would assume she was texting someone but she might have been updating her Facebook status or looking for a good restaurant nearby.

Please, pay attention when you are driving.  I recently read that up to 80% of accidents nowadays are caused by some form of distracted driving.  Please don't risk being the cause of one of them.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Similies

I just handed my youngest his freshly laundered fleece blanket.  I saw him snuggled on the carpet with it over his head.

"Does that feel nice, buddy?"

"It feels like warm pizza!"

To quote my husband (whose similes are suspect), "That's a homeschool simile!"

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Apologies and Anatomy

Our white board at the end of lunch today

(I can see that this will one day make me laugh.  I'm hoping that, a few years from now, it will also encourage my children to see how far they've come.)

Last night I read a really good article about bullying.  I lamented to a friend that parents just don't care enough to get involved in their kids' lives to head off bullying.

And then, this afternoon my daughter told me that her brother called her "Poo-Face," as he often does when they're playing at the park (news to me), and told her and the older brother that he hates them.  Great.  My child is a bully.  Apparently you really can't get away from it, even in your own home.  But, the difference is that I care enough about both the bullied child and the bullying child to correct this right away.

This, of course, lead to a lengthy conversation.  The youngest cried guilty tears, certain he was going to be punished.  I did not punish him as he expected, instead telling him that I would rather talk about what he had done, trying to change his behaviour, than punish him and let him do it again.

The consequence of his actions was that he had to write (and then read) sincere letters of apology to his brother and sister.

I guided him in his composition.  I figured it was a great way to reinforce the anatomy lesson from earlier in the day.

I now present an apology from my youngest:

Sister I'm sorry
for calling you a name
and saying I hate you.
The thuruth (sic) is your
face is made of epithelial tissue
and I love you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Begging for Candy

Well, it's that time of year again...  Candy-begging season.  I haven't entirely broken my children of this habit, and it seems that being away from public school has not deterred them from their interest in dressing in costume and accosting the neighbours, demanding candy.  At least they're reasonable enough to wait until the day that most other kids participate in this same activity to start knocking on doors.


About ten days ago my husband bought a 90 count bag of Halloween candy.  It was gone before the week was done.  The ferocity with which we devoured that candy has me wondering what we'll do to handle the tonnes of candy I anticipate being hauled in on October 31.  To manage the previously purchased Halloween candy, I used it to bribe the kids.  Actually, it was the youngest's idea.

"Mom, maybe we could do like at Family Camp and get a candy every time we say a memory verse!"

I thought the little one was onto something.  "Sure!  That's a great idea!"

So the kids could earn one candy per day by reciting the memory verse.  The elder two children dutifully earned their piece of candy while it lasted.  The youngest, the one whose idea it was to do this, went without candy for three days.  He stubbornly refused to memorize the verse and recite it back, probably to make me miserable. Because he didn't get candy.  And that would make me miserable.  At least you would think so if you were seven.

So I ate his candy.

Anyway, I'm thinking that we'll do that this year.  The kids can earn up to two pieces of candy a day by memorizing and reciting back to me verses from the Bible.  So, I have these so far.  I'd love to hear your favourites so I can add them to the list.

John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Proverbs 3:5,6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:11
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Friday, October 4, 2013

21

I'm reading Daniel 10 tonight.

Daniel prayed and fasted, waiting for a response from God.  The response came from an angel.  But it came three weeks after Daniel started praying. The delay had nothing to do with Daniel's heart, or his ability to fast, or God's desire to answer.  The reason for the delay was that spiritual warfare prevented the messenger from getting to Daniel.  The prayer had been heard and the answer dispatched immediately.

1) Daniel kept praying, even though there was no answer.  He knew that God was faithful to answer him eventually.

2) Daniel continued his fast until he saw answer to his prayer.

3) The messenger/angel that came to Daniel did not have a lot of support from the other angels, saying specifically that only Michael supported him in his struggle against other spiritual beings.

4) The appearance and voice of the angel caused Daniel to fall into a deep sleep.

5) Daniel did not have the strength to receive the answer from the angel.  He had to be strengthened by the words of the angel before he could receive the answer to prayer from the angel.

6) 21 Days...  The angel wrestled against demonic powers for 21 days in order to deliver the message to Daniel.

I find the whole story fascinating.  I'm sure as I think on it and read it again, I'll find more to chew on.

But in the meantime, I'm just in awe at what happens behind the scenes as we pray for God's power to be unleashed in our lives.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pre-Music

This morning I had a little pre-orchestra going upstairs.  The Girl is on Day Two of ukulele lessons; the younger Boy is on Day Two of trumpet lessons, and the oldest Boy has been perfecting (and I use that word loosely) his pitch on violin.  It sounded like a zoo in Hawaii in my house today!

I was able to capture a bit of stealth video before they realized the camera was rolling.  (I can't get the video embedded right now, so you'll have to click the link to see it.)  I plan to fully enjoy the fullness of this video, justifying it by saying that they'll enjoy seeing it years down the road.  I think the boys will enjoy seeing that they were obsessed with Star Wars at this age.

The girl was getting frustrated that she couldn't play a certain chord.  She had just learned it and 30 seconds later couldn't play it.  I wouldn't say that tenacity is her strongest character trait.  She came to me and said, "I want to learn the violin instead of the ukulele."

"No.  The violin will be harder.  Don't give up on the ukulele yet."

"Well then I want to learn the trumpet."

"No"

"Trombone?  Then I can go *insert slide playing motion by frantic 9-year-old*"

"Uh, no.  Don't give up.  You can get it.  You just have to keep trying.  I still have a hard time with lots chords on the guitar."

Three minutes later she was playing the problem-chord.

It's a music day today.  I have to laugh at the exuberance with which they are making noise ("pre-music.")  In another hour or so we'll head off to meet with other homeschoolers for group learning.

This is my kind of day.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Road Rage

I used to be an angry driver.  I would get mad at people when they did dumb things as they were driving.  I'd exclaim, as someone pulled in front of me unexpectedly, "Oh my goodness!  Would you use your brain when you're driving?" or some such silliness.  

Eventually I realized that they can't hear me.  (Ya...  That took a little longer than it should have.)  And all my yelling did was make me more upset.  So I've tried to stop that.  Now I just take a deep breath and smile when someone cuts me off.  If I'm especially saintly that day, I'll pray for them to have a good day.

Tonight, I backed out of my Walmart parking spot.  (There are so many things wrong with that statement.  I didn't pull through the spot like I usually do because I didn't want either of the car doors in that tight spot to bang my van. And I was lazy enough to pull in instead of backing in...  I nearly always back in.  It's easier in the long run. And Walmart?  Really, Wanda. Really?  Yes, I tried other stores but they didn't have Sour Skittles, and I needed Sour Skittles.  And WALMART didn't even have them!  But I digress.)

So tonight I backed out of my Walmart parking spot.  As always, I double-checked for traffic before I started, and then I backed up slowly, just in case someone was coming that I couldn't yet see.  I'd moved maybe two feet out when a car came screaming around the corner of that lane in the lot.  The driver leaned into his horn to express his displeasure at my occupying the space into which he was about to careen.  I braked.  He went by.  Another car went by.  The latter car sat behind my van waiting for the first car to turn out of our lane.  Eventually I resumed my departure from the spot.

I briefly felt my blood pressure rise... and then the next track came on in my van's stereo.  And I had to smile and get over it.  Because you can't help but smile when Ecce Gratum from "Carmina Burana" comes on.


And all was right in my world again.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A morning of reading and playing

We learned about the early Sumerians today (circa 2300 B.C.)  As the kids listened, they built Lego ziggurats. The oldest eagerly searched for images of ziggurats so the kids had an idea of what to build.


... And I just sat and read for 1.5 hours this morning.  Hey, all I need is bon-bons and I'm a stereotypical stay-at-home mom.  ;-)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Four weeks under our belts

Well, September just flew by!  We've joined up with a few different groups and are settling into some fun activities.

One of the kids is spending a few hours a week with a First Lego League (FLL) Robotics team. They are analyzing problems, strategizing to find solutions, and working together to maximize the strengths of each team member to accomplish a common goal.  I was the parent helper this week for the team meeting and got to see this group of highly intelligent 8-12 year old kids working together.  I was so impressed.  The parent-coach gave direction here and there, mostly suggestions with occasional reminders of what the goals for that session were, and the kids went off and worked on their part of the project.  This is going to be such a great experience for my oldest.  He is still timid about inserting his thoughts and opinions into the group discussion, but with a smaller set of students, he's much more likely to learn and be encouraged along the way.  We would never have had this kind of opportunity in our previous school setting.

A few days ago the two oldest and I went to see The Merchant of Venice in Stratford.  To prepare the kids (and myself) for this play (which is written in 400 year-old English) we read the summary from Tales From Shakespeare (by Charles and Mary Lamb.)  This summary was written 200 years ago, so it was still difficult for the kids to understand.  As the three kids and I read through it together, I would stop and explain, line by line at times, what the story was about.  We got about half way through the summary and the youngest begged me to continue.  He was mesmerized by the story!  This is the same boy who whines when I ask him to read anything other than a comic strip. We read the rest of the summary and prepared ourselves for the play (which we knew we wouldn't totally understand.)  During the play I kept my eye on the kids...  They were squirmy and appeared bored at times.  On the way home I asked if they liked it at all.  "Yah!  I liked it."  Did you guys understand which part of the story was happening when?  "Yep, I just watched what they were doing and remember the story that you read to us."

What fun! 

The kids begged to join the Hot Cocoa Club at the library.  They each bring a mug and sit and listen as one of the library employees reads to them.  They're reading The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis.  My reluctant reader has been reading on in our copy here at home.  He wants to know what happens and just can't wait till next week to find out!

As for other reading, my 11 year-old read through Eragon by Christopher Paolini and is now reading Book Two in that series, Eldest.  My 9 year-old has finally started reading about Ramona Quimby and has fallen in love with her family.  My 7 year-old has a hard time putting down The Magician's Nephew.  He took it out while we were running around town to do some shopping yesterday.  I think the trick with that one is to get him started by reading the first chapter or two together - just enough to make him realize that there really might be an interesting story in there.

So, while we're doing lots of book learning, we're also having some hands-on learning along the way.  We have more time to read, more time to join different activities, and more time to learn new things.  (I didn't mention yet that the oldest wants to learn violin.  He's found a website to teach him techniques and notes, and then his father refines those at the end of the day.)

We're all still loving it, one month in to the process.  Remind me next time to tell you about music and drama, gym days, and the youngest's proposed trumpet lessons.

Yes, the trumpet should be interesting.  I'll catch you up on that another time.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hakuna Matata

Since taking more responsibility for my children's education, I've worried (on and off) about whether they'll get an adequate education.  I know that they will, but I still let this seed of doubt creep in.  This past week, I started taking stock of what they would be learning at school and what they have learned at home.  While the content isn't exactly the same, I'd say the quantity has increased.

I didn't really realize how much we were already doing until I had a conversation a couple nights ago with a high school teacher.  When she heard what we had chosen for our family she was supportive but curious. "So what subjects are they doing right now?" she asked.

I started listing the books I had purchased.  "French, Math, History, Science, English..."  And then I considered the other stuff we're involved in.  "Piano, Gym Days, Music/Drama...  Oh, and the oldest is doing a robotics Lego league, he's learning violin, and he's learning how to do real Bible study, with a topical index and concordance. And all three kids still have to read at least 30 minutes each day and get their chores done."

When I finally stopped listing the activities we're planning to be involved in, I saw how much they're really going to learn this year.  All that and we usually have time for a board game in the late afternoon.

This week, the oldest is taking a day off to go to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) with his cousin, and the older two will be joining some other students on a trip to Stratford to see The Merchant of Venice (which they'll be studying this year in Drama.)  How fun is that?

I'm having a blast so far.  We've got three weeks under our belt and we're getting into a rhythm.  Of course all that will change with the start of new programs to get involved in, but we'll take everything in stride.

So - No need to worry, Wanda.  As your hubby says, "Give your head a shake."  The kids are learning and having fun, and they're seeing things they wouldn't have had a chance to see otherwise. Just enjoy this ride as long as you're on it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How Wanda Got Her Groove Back

Before this Fall I had so much spare time on my hands, it was embarrassing.  I puttered around the house, looking for dust to wipe and cookies to bake, running out to the library to find books to read, and popping onto my computer to catch up on Words With Friends more times than I could count.  I was bored and lazy. I did enjoy taking some extra time to read and research several interesting Bible topics, but that did not take up the majority of my time.  From 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, I was unfettered, a roaming soul in the abyss of "daytime."

I still manage to find time to do everything mentioned above, but the majority of my time is now spent with my kids: chatting, reading, helping, cutting, advising, prepping, photo-copying, cuddling, cooking, interpreting, and marking.  I mentioned to my hubby tonight that I cannot ever remember being this non-stop busy through the day.  I managed to find an hour to read this afternoon, between the end of school-time (our science experiment is sitting on the bookshelf, waiting to be followed up on in a week) and dinner time.  It was wonderful!  I read a couple pages and then fell asleep!

Tonight I sat down after dinner and sewed.  It had been too long since I had a chance to sew.  I didn't make a whole lot, just some "Magic Bags" to sell at a Mom to Mom Sale this weekend, but it felt good to get in there and make something.

I like being busy!  Who knew???  I guess good old Solomon was right.  It is good to find satisfaction from your work!  (That's at the end of Ecclesiastes 5.)  I feel useful.  I feel like I'm finally having the kind of impact I wanted to have on my children.

We have interesting discussions throughout the day.  We talk about life and living and things that matter for eternity.  Yes, we talk about Math and History and Science and English and French, too...  But regardles of the subject, we're talking!  All day long, there's constant conversation.  Sure, there are moments of quiet, but the conversation doesn't stop.  It just kinds of ebbs and flows.

I'm just starting out in this new way of doings things, and I realize that I have a lot to figure out, but I feel like I've finally found my groove. This just feels right!

Weighing scientific discoveries with faith

Grandpa had hundreds of books, many of them quite old.  A few years ago, I selected a few boxes of them to have in my library when Grandma was down-sizing.  One of the books was called Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif.

I had read the book as a teenager, though what compelled me to read it remains a mystery to this day.  I loved reading but hated Biology and Chemistry.  (Physics was all right, but that may be because I really liked my high school physics teacher...  And he let us get extra credit, so I ended the year with a 104%. But I digress...)  I think I must have been bored that summer, so I sifted through Grandpa's musty old books and picked that one up.  Now that I think about it, it was about the only book that had any modern colour on it. All the other books were brown or brownish green or brownish burgundy or brownish blue.  You get the idea.

So I read it a few times.  It has now been around 20 years since I last read it.  It sits on my bookshelf, but I have not read it again yet.

The kids and I have started a science study of Anatomy and Physiology.  Yesterday we talked about the Ancient Egyptians and Hebrews, and the fact that the Egyptians had some scientific theories, while the Hebrews simply followed the laws given to them by God.  I told the kids that we would learn, later in our studies, that Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovered the physical presence of germs in the 1600s.  (Hey, he was one of the main scientists in the aforementioned book.  I just might like this science class that I'm teaching!)  We marveled at the fact that God was already teaching the Hebrews proper hand-washing and medical quarantining well before the presence of germs was ever considered.  Other cultures of that time considered illnesses to come from their angry gods, but the Hebrews, in their scientific ignorance, were already healthier as a result of the faithful following of the rules given to them by the one true God.

Imagine there was no God.  How could the Hebrews have known to wash their hands before and after so many different activities?  No one knew about germs until the 1600s...  Why would it make sense for some guy on a power trip to make up a set of rules 5000 years ago that made no sense to the people of that time and made them all look strange to other cultures?  How would they have known to quarantine someone with a rash until the rash cleared up?  How would they have known how to treat rashes and other skin diseases?  (See this handy flow chart so you can diagnose like a Hebrew doctor-priest: http://thewholedangthing.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/lev-13.jpg)  This is the kind of stuff you just can't make up.


Image source FMSReporter.org

As the kids and I discussed this, we realized that it takes a lot more faith to believe that there is no God. When you start studying the human body, its design, and the way it works, it's really hard to believe that this all just randomly happened.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Good Cause (and some happy kids)

My kids are very excited for next weekend to get here.  I signed up to do a vendor fair.  I pay a certain amount to have a table and I can sell whatever I bring in.  I had originally planned to just sell Cinnamon Rolls, Chocolate Pecan Turtle Cookies, and cupcakes, but then my kids started thinking of other things to sell. Before I knew it, they were making little pendants to put on earrings.  I knew the quality of their work wasn't necessarily going to get them a place on the shelf at Tiffany's, so I suggested they put their talents to a good cause.

So, anyone interested in helping out Open Arms Mission (help for those needing food and clothes) or Elisha House (help for those in a crisis pregnancy situation), both Welland charities, please come show my kids how much you care!  We'll be selling these earrings and many more for $7 a pair.  All profits will go directly back to the two charities mentioned above.


So, September 21, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, please come find us at Great Lakes Christian High School (GLCHS, 4875 King St, Beamsville).  Admission is free, you'll make my kids happy, and you'll be supporting a few great causes (including GLCHS!)

These have not yet been made into earrings.  They will be!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Reflection

(Sorry for all the links.  You don't have to click on them all.  But they're there if you're bored.)

There's been a lot of talk lately about modesty and the way we present ourselves to others.  This kind of talk will generally cause a person to look at themselves and evaluate their appearance.  If you have not read any of the latest blogs/news items about modesty and lack thereof, I can point you to plenty of them:

Hall Family - FYI
Secret Keeper Girl
Let Miley be a lesson to you

My friend even chimed in to say, "Hey, let's hold guys responsible here, too!"

But there was another discussion that caught my eye.  I have a pretty good handle on modesty and presenting a proper body image.  Some might disagree with my choices, but I think I'm pretty good at making informed choices about apparel and appearance.

My problem is that I get my value, my sense of self-worth, from people.  I've written about it before.  Yet here I am, writing about it again?  Why?  Because it's a continuous struggle for me.

This world puts so much value in being beautiful.  Inside and out.  But really, ultimately, does beauty matter? Beauty is so subjective, even inner beauty.  One person may find a Harley enthusiast to have more inner beauty than a nun.  It's just so subjective.

marriage blog that I follow recently posted about letting your spouse's high opinion of you and complimentary words towards you be your mirror instead of letting the world or your own skewed self-esteem guide your thinking.  It was so lovely to read these words from a wife (a beautiful woman, inside and out) who has always doubted her beauty.  She has learned to let her husband be her mirror.  I am, truly, happy for her that she can find this in her husband.  She encouraged other wives reading the blog to look to their husbands for that same affirmation.

And that's where I felt that heavy knot in my chest.

My husband is a wonderful man.  He works hard every day at work and comes home frustrated when he sees others slacking off.  He opens up the Bible most nights after dinner and reads a chapter or two with the family.  He takes us all out to the big field behind our house and quarterbacks for our two, sorry two-man football teams.  He leads worship on Sundays and has the whole family singing around the piano between Sundays.  He plays with the kids, tucks them in, takes out the garbage, kisses my neck when I have my hands in the dishwater...  He really is Superman.  The one teeny tiny thing that I get hung up on?  He doesn't naturally compliment me.  Asking him to compliment me is like hammering a square peg into a round hole.  It just doesn't work.

All that to say that it's really not a good idea to use my husband as a mirror.  He shows his love to me by doing, not by saying.  But as much as he loves me, he is still an imperfect person, living in an imperfect world, with a very imperfect wife.  (When I put it that way, it's a wonder anyone manages to live with anyone else for any period of time!) My problem is not with my husband.  My problem is with myself.  I tend to put my value in how others see me.   Even the person who loves me most, who pledged his LIFE to me, will fail me, and I him.  I cannot look to him for fulfillment or value.

The day this photo was taken, my dad told me that I was beautiful.  Twice.  He doesn't often use that specific word to describe me, so it was a very touching thing to hear him say.  And later, it really hit me how nice it was to hear those words.  But my father is still an imperfect person and he will let me down.  He doesn't know my innermost thoughts and cannot tell me just what I need to hear, just when I need to hear it.

Superman and I, photo taken by my father the day he complimented me.  Twice..  

And that brings me back to where I always end up.  Sometimes it takes me a day, sometimes a couple weeks.  But I know, deep inside, where things that you really know are just stuck, that God treasures me.  I am His specially created daughter.  He gave me my unique gifts and talents.  My quirky personality sprung from a seed God planted.  And He put the desire in me to be loved and cherished.  He put it there to draw me back to Him, as He's the only one who can quench that thirst.

So when I feel this pull, I need to let it remind me that God is loving me and cherishing me, and whispering words of love to me.  I just need to go to Him to hear them.  No pounding to get them out.  No square peg and round hole.  Just a desire that was placed in me and a Father waiting to fill it.

Psalm 62:5-8

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Beware the Fractions

The boys wanted pancakes this morning, but the recipe I have is way too big for us four.  We wanted 10 pancakes, not 20.  So the youngest mixed while the oldest cut the measurements in half.  He had no idea that these are real life word problems, following the same format as his math book.

Q1.  Bubba is making pancakes and needs only half a recipe of pancake batter.  Convert the following measurements to half a recipe.

3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
6 tbsp oil
2 tsp vanilla

Once you're done the math, combine the dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients.  Add 1-2 tbsp more milk to thin out pancakes to desired consistency.  Fry in hot oil.

Great team-building exercise.  These two don't always collaborate well.



They poured some maple syrup on these and I gave them an A!  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Why learn?

I'm reading the first few pages of our History book and came across this idea.  I love the phrase and plan to expound on it through the year.  In the meantime, I think I will print one of these to put up around the house. Which do you like best?

Images are taken from my father's photo albums.  If you want to see more of his work, you can befriend him on Facebook and "Like" his page, Vern Hibbard Photography.



I like the idea that as we learn, we can see the hand of God in the big things and the little things.  The more we find out about the world around us, the more we see His design.  And as we gain knowledge and confidence in that knowledge, it helps us share with others.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I'm loving it!

Noteworthy items from our first week...

My youngest, who likes to be snuggled up and cozy, has proclaimed, at least three different times, that he wasn't allowed to have the hood of his sweatshirt up at school.  He is obviously ecstatic that he can do his math with the hood up now.


We have always valued family time.  Now the kids can get their home responsibilities (chores, piano practice, reading) done through the day and we can enjoy more family fun (hikes, bikes, board/card games, etc.) after supper with Dad.

I made a peach cobbler with my daughter yesterday.  It took twice as long as when I make it on my own, but she was involved in every step of the process.  Since we made it at 2:00 in the afternoon, I was able to take more time with her and explain the ins and outs of each step of the process (blanching peaches, baking powder vs baking soda, selecting a baking dish, how to measure properly.)

The oldest helped me pick out a bookshelf, which is where we now keep our school books.  Once we got the box of planks home, he volunteered to put it together.  With minimal supervision, he took that pile of planks and turned it into a useful piece of furniture.


Free binders - reused from Hubby's work

All three kids helped me figure out the best deal on a few items of produce yesterday.  Should we get the loose grapes that are $0.88/lb or the fancy box of 2.5 lb of grapes that costs $5.97?  Which head of lettuce is the best deal?  (We weighed the green lettuce and realized that it weighs more than the package of three romaine hearts, for half the price.)  And the blueberries...  Should I buy one pint for $1.50 or two pints for $3.97?

Instead of singing Oh Canada each morning, we're reading a chapter or two in the Bible.  As we finished reading about the seven letters to seven churches in Revelation this morning, I closed the Bible and said, "Okay kids, let's get moving.  We need to be out the door in 30 minutes."  The oldest, the quiet one, the one least likely to "make waves" said, "But we haven't prayed yet."

Real life.  Being comfortable in our environment.  Taking time to explore.  Having the freedom to speed up or slow down as needed.  Knowing what's important.   -   Four days in, I'm loving this.  And I think they are, too!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2013/2014 School Kick Off

I've been trying to figure out what special thing to do to mark each new school year.  I'm hoping to get a video of the kids talking about the year ahead, but I've decided that a beach day when the weather is nice is a great way to kick off the new school year.  So, we had a class trip this afternoon, part gym class, part science.  A good time was had by all.  Happy 2013/2014 School Year everyone!


Eternity in our hearts

Warning: Homeschool update ahead.

We are on Day Two of homeschooling.  Yesterday we went to the Farmer's Market and impressed a few people with our basic math skills. (3 bars of fudge for $10?  Oh, that's $3.33 each.)  We also got to tell several people (including a mom from our old school) why our kids weren't sitting in classrooms for the day. Overall it was a great experience with really positive feedback from those within our community.

We were on vacation last week, getting home on Labour Day, so I hadn't been home to get lessons ready. So our first day of school was rather abbreviated. We started by picking up where our family left off in Genesis.  The kids devoured their math books, as I figured they would, then got back into piano practicing.  We also created outlines of our vacation, remembering as many details as we could so we could write it all down through the remainder of the week.  With two trips out to stores (field trip!  Math, home economics, social studies) and a trip to Dad's work, we didn't do much else.

This will be a favorite activity for the kids - math!

Fractions with Legos?  Yes please!

Today, we started as we mean to go on.  We decided to read something else from the Bible so we could still enjoy reading Genesis with Dad at the end of the day.  The youngest begged for Revelation as our book of choice since he's been enjoying the pictures of it from his Action Bible.  So we read Rev 1-2:11.

As we read that last verse, Rev 2:11, about the second death, the youngest said, "I'm kind of scared of this part."  It was a great launching point for our discussion.  I asked why he was scared and he explained that the second death was scary to think about.  We talked about how it's only scary for those who are not following Jesus, who haven't committed their lives to him as Christians.  I reiterated (for the gazillionth time) the story of God and man, from Genesis to Revelation, from the Fall to the Day of Judgment, and how God's plan has always been for us have a beautiful, sinless life where we can be God's friend.  I told them once more that we need to repent of our sins, ask God for forgiveness, and be baptized to show people we've decided to follow Jesus.

That caused a moment of silence as the kids thought and then one of the kids asked when I was baptized. I thought for a brief moment and realized that yesterday was a pretty big day for me.  I was baptized on September 3, 1989.  We did the math and realized that yesterday was my 24 year birthday of being a Christian.  That puts me at 2/3 of my life spent following Jesus.  We all had fun figuring out the math there.

All this to say that I'm really enjoying the chance to sit down and read the Bible as part of our time together. We do have these discussions when Dad is home as well, but I see more opportunities for them now as we make a concerted effort to learn together throughout the day.

I'm looking forward to seeing the fruits of homeschooling.  This is such an exciting experience to be starting!