Monday, September 20, 2010

There are some good things on T.V.

My family has two shows on television that we really love to watch together.  Every week that either of these shows run, my husband keeps a close eye on the DVR to make sure nothing messes up the recording.  It is like we are waiting to check in with the Roloff Family and the Duggar Family.  If you had told me years ago that I would feel so much love and concern for TV personalities who don't even know me, I would've thought you were crazy.

I just absolutely love watching the way the Roloffs handle their challenges together as well as the way they celebrate life together.  The father, Matt Roloff, is a Little Person (dwarf) who dreams big.  He has been through a lot of adversity in life, but has used his tender heart and huge vision to come out stronger and more appreciative of every blessing that comes his way.  His wife, Amy, is the anchor of the family.  While Matt stands on the stern of the ship with his telescope to his eye, scanning the horizon for uncharted territory, Amy keeps things on an even keel.  Her dedication to her family is an inspiration.  The best part is, they don't hide who their True Anchor is.  I particularly love watching how Amy deals with her twenty year old boys.  We have been watching since they were 14 or 15, I think, and it has been precious to see their relationships evolve over the years.  My boys love watching the brothers interact.  My Dad loves watching and saying, "Now that is just some beautiful country up there, I'll tell you what."  And as it is filmed in Oregon, it really is something to behold every Autumn.

I do think that many people have heard of the amazing Duggar Family and their 19 beautiful children.  My boys will replay episodes of the show "19 Kids and Counting" over and over.  There is just so much wholesome goodness packed into this show.  Such a strong Christian testimony.  So much love.  The children have become so dear to us!  Each of them has their own personality and their own strengths, yet all of them are so full of character and joy!

I am so glad that I found these two gems on T.V. that I wouldn't want anyone to miss them!  They are on TLC or Discovery on Mondays for the Roloffs, Little People, Big World and Tuesdays for 19 Kids and Counting.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Harvesting Seeds

Tonight, after dinner, the boys and I went outside to harvest some of the seeds from our summer crops that are winding down.  Maybe the word "crops" was a little industrial for our backyard garden.  But when you really see how many seeds you get from one plant, a gardener can dream of the possibilities.

We had one courageous volunteer sunflower plant that grew tall and proud.  It rose about 7 feet high in the same spot that I had planted its momma two years ago.   It bloomed in about 10 different places.  Striking brown and gold blooms opening once a week or so and lasting over two months total.  I took a few of the biggest of the spent blooms from that plant today and investigated to see what kinds of seed possibilities we had.  My Noah and I pulled at least 50 -100 from a half dollar sized flower head.  Then, I took the biggest one and was digging laboriously under the pollen to see what it would hold, when my Zak (who is the real green thumb around here), took the flower, banged it a few times, and hundreds of small black sunflower seeds went in a big pile on the table.  Alrighty then.

I have been gardening for several years now, learning a little at a time, but I have never been organized enough to remember to harvest, save and replant very many of my seeds for the next season.  But now that the boys are taking an interest and it is a hobby that we enjoy together, I am able to expand a little bit.  So I was just amazed at the amount of seeds that come from each bit of fruit and flower.

When I think of how God designed the whole process, I am humbled.  If indeed I can sow just one sunflower and from that beautiful plant get a return of at least a thousand seeds, how much more fruitful has God made His children?  What is the potential of each fruit God has produced in my life, that after that bloom has been spent and I have moved on, will years later find its way onto some rich soil and spring to new life!  What a privilege it is to be a branch on the True Vine and to hold His fruit aloft. 

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up".  Galatians 6:9

Homeschool Tip #2

Dixon Ticonderoga pencils.  I don't mess around with any other type of pencil, unless I get them free.  They may cost a little more, but they don't break as often.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Day of School!

Today was our first official day of school!  What an amazing blessing to gather around the table with my boys and break open the books.

My toddler was just not "feeling it", though.  He is no fan of all of our noses being stuck in the books for hours.  He is used to brothers being unable to resist a good game of hide and go seek, or wrestling or horseback riding on our wood floor.  Bless his sweet heart.  He even tried to settle for some "Hee-Vee".  But no one would have been interested in school if even so much as Brainy Baby or Letter Factory came on.  And he has about 15 minutes worth of interest in any "toys".  Like my oldest, he is definitely a more interactive guy.  I have taken most of the kids' toys out of the house a few times and nobody really noticed.  They would all much rather play with each other.  Or destroy, unravel, unfold or free things from drawers.  And yet, I love my boys and wouldn't trade them for a housekeeper or anything else in all the world.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I Heart My Co-op

Today was the Teacher's Luncheon/Back to School Meeting for my homeschool PSP co-op.  We just refer to it as Friday School.  The opportunity to teach here came along at a time when I was homeschooling without a formal support group.  God was the only support we needed, but He provided hands, feet and hearts to reach out to us and show us His love at a time when only He knew how much we would need it!

It has been such a rich, rewarding experience!  I teach 4th grade, which is California History.  The boys go to their classes and afterward, there is often fellowship at a nearby park.  The friendships we have made are absolute treasures, precious stones on this uncharted journey.

The director asked each of us to share a Mighty Act of God that we had experienced recently in our lives.  As each teacher went through the work of God on their life and heart this summer, I was so moved!  He is still moving mountains on behalf of His children!  What is a Might Act God has done in your life recently?

"Let each generation tell its children of Your mighty acts; let them proclaim Your power."  Psalm 145:4

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One of my favorite homeschool tips #1

If you love using index cards for flashcards and most importantly memory verses, but don't like picking them up from all over the house, under the beds and on the porch, you have got to try the spiral bound version.

I first found out about the benefits of these babies when Beth Moore assigned them to her siestas on the Scripture Memory Team.  I tried a case of loose bound cards that I could stick here and there, but once I graduated to these dealie-bobs, I never looked back.

I even bought some for my boys to help with their sight words.  And I have to report, no more oatmeal-smeared-under-the-chair-leg styled index cards.  We are all about business, now.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Curriculum for the 2010-2011 School Year

Today I finally put in the order for the bulk of our homeschool curriculum.  After much deliberation, scouring ebay for deals, and trying to find free shipping, I placed some orders.

And the winners are:

For my Kindergartener:
Bible:  The Beginner's Bible, Seeds Family Worship and some of the materials from Raising Rock Stars.
Logic: Bambino Luk puzzles, dot to dot, mazes, puzzles, memory, etc.
Math:  Horizons K, hopefully some Cuisennaire Rods as funding becomes available
Reading:  Hooked on Phonics (This is one of the few programs that focuses on word families by word endings.  Many reading programs focus on initial blends.  HOP has been a major blessing for us and the one we keep going back to.)
Electives:  Spanish through our co-op.  We want to try Kinderbach for music.

For my First Grader:
Bible: The Beginner's Bible, Seeds Family Worship and some of the materials from Raising Rock Stars.

Logic:  LUK Puzzles, Metaforms, Animal Logic, Soduku Puzzles, Checkers, Card Games
Math:  Horizons 1
Reading:  Phonics Pathways, Abeka Reader, Primary Phonics Readers
Language Arts:  Language Lessons for Little Ones (I am not a Classical or Charlotte Mason kinda gal, but he is definitely that kinda learner.)
Latin:  Prima Latina
Spanish:  Power-glide Spanish by Alpha Omega
History:  Story of the World (I prefer the Mystery of History Series for its Christ centered focus, but this is what they are teaching in the co-op, so I hope to purchase the corresponding MOH to do on our own.)
Science:  Considering God's Creation
Art:  I am saving up to purchase "How Great Thou Art"  by Barry Stebbing.  My two oldest did a class with him live last year and it was the bomb diggity.
Music:  Go Kinderbach.

My Fourth Grader:
Bible:  Balancing the Sword, Precept Studies for Children by Kay Arthur
Math:  Teaching Textbooks
Reading:  BJU, Reading to Learn by Christian Light Education
Language Arts:  Growing with Grammar
Spanish:  Power-glide
Latin:  Prima Latina
History:  Story of the World, Mystery of History
Science:  Considering God's Creation

Seems like a whole lotta stuff going on, but when you have four boys 8 and under, it really helps to have lots of short lessons to keep them engaged.  Really helps.

I am also thinking of using Galloping the Globe or Expedition Earth (by confessionsofahomeschooler).  But this should keep us busy and out of trouble for now.

If you ever post photos to Twitter

This just in from the John Tesh radio show:  If you ever use your smartphone to post pictures on the web, there is something you need to know:

People can find the exact location the picture was taken.

Yikes!  Makes you want to think twice about posting pictures from your kids' school play, or your son's soccer game, doesn't it?

Smartphones automatically "geotag" the pictures that you take and store that information for you.  The only problem is that others who know how this function works can also find out this information.

There are ways to disable this function of your phone.

Here is a link to a website that tells how geotagging works and how to make sure your pictures are safe.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Awesome Vacay!

What an amazing time we had on our vacation!  I was a little worried about taking the boys to Vegas.  They are getting a little older, and lets just say that Vegas is a destination that can inspire some deep conversations.  And I always try to make sure that God is the #1 invited Guest on our vacations.  But when I invited him to Vegas, I kind of paused.  Will You really come with us, even there, my LORD?

Psalm 139:8
If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.

What an amazing God we serve!  From the smooth ride there, to the room upgrade at the hotel, to the blessed time in the pool with my babies, I felt like I was travelling on the arm of THE VIP. 

We stayed at Mandalay Bay.  My husband was there for his yearly Fantasy Football Draft.  He and his buds get together every year, rent a boardroom, and do a live draft for their teams.  It is serious business and they look forward to it all year.  So we decided to make it a family event this year.  

Mandalay Bay has an unbelievably cool pool.  Their are actually 11 pools including a lazy river and a wave pool.  Our favorite was the little lagoon connected to the wave pool that had a 1.5 foot deep area for my toddler.  He ran and dove from one end of that little lagoon to the other and back again countless times, screaming a little battle cry all the while. 

My eight year old swam in the wave pool by himself checking in every three waves, while my four and six year old wandered over to the four foot side of the little lagoon we were in.  It could not have been a better set up for maximum fun.

My Mom came along as "The Nanny" and thoroughly enjoyed the 3 day stretch with the boys.  When we dropped her off, she was utterly exhausted, but had a smile on her face.  Which is the best way to end a vacation!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer is here!

Yes, you read that right.  It is August 23rd and I am just starting to get in the groove of summer.  Here in Southern California we have had an unbelievably mild summer.  It truly did feel like spring was lasting forever!  Yeah!  But now we've got the air conditioners cranking, we are all cranky, and I went out and watered my grass this evening-even though we hardly ever water our grass.  But I wanted to be in the cool mist while the house was hot and stuffy.  I wanted to see my oldest turn the corner on his way back from a walk with the neighbor family as it started to get dark.  I wanted to take in the smell that grass has only during the hot days of summer.

I have to take in the summer groove quickly, because I also sent the boys' registration paperwork in for their homeschool satellite program today.  I mailed in the syllabus for the class I will be teaching.  I mailed in the boys' "Course of Curriculum" paperwork.  I perused the "Back to School Bargains" inserts.  I need to cling to the pace of summer a little longer.  Maybe I should commit to sprinkling a little more of the relaxed summer attitude throughout the school year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Humble Pie

I blew it today, not once, but several times.

I yelled at my Dad, who happened to be helping me at the time. He made a joke and I thought he was serious and I flew off the handle. Really off the handle. Telling him I was sorry just didn't seem like enough after that.

Then I yelled at the kids. All of them. When I find myself yelling at all of them, I know it must be something wrong with me-not anything they've done.

I prayed, confessed, apologized to the kids.

And then for my encore performance, I let my husband have it in front of my dear Mother in Law.

If God had not redeemed the day with an outstanding time swimming at the neighbors pool and a fabulous time at my Nephew's birthday party (in between the screaming at Hubs), then I think the verbal diatribes would've been totally discouraging.

But, as mad as I am at myself, God is good and He forgives. And He redeems not only us (which would be enough in itself), but He also redeems bad situations, even the situations we get ourselves into. Thank you my LORD, for Your tender mercy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lemonade Stand

Did you ever open up a Lemonade stand in front of your house as a child? I cannot tell you how much fun we have had with the boys' lemonade stand. We have done it a couple of times and it is such a great way to visit with the neighbors! Most of the business, however, came from teenagers driving by or walking/biking/skateboarding down our street. They were so sweet and encouraging. My Big Boy even sold some of our lemons. And some of the tomatoes out of our backyard garden. Way to go, my little entrepeneur!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gearing Up For Back to School

It is that time of year when "Back to School" is on every parents mind. The relaxing days of summer are beginning to wane and the urge to organize our closets, backpacks and lunch pails is growing stronger.

For our family, we have some "New Songs" opening up this year. We have gone to a homeschool PSP (previously known as an ISP) co-op once a week (where I also teach to defray some of the costs). This year, out of sheer craziness and lots of prayer to temper such craziness, I have decided we definitely need to add a co-op one more day a week. This one is not the PSP/ISP type. Rather, it is a smaller, mom led actual cooperative where we all teach once a month or so. Each of the children will have Science, History and Spanish. I couldn't resist. Plus, I had heard that there were some amazing families involved.

That leaves me only 3 days a week to school the kids. Now, of course, they will be doing all sorts of good learning and socializing the other two days, but I have some skillz I want to make sure to hit with my kindergartener and my first grader. Like reading and writing. So I am going to have to put a little thought into this.

And into packing lunches. Thought into the lunches. Yes. Hmmm. Organize the closets. Yes, figure out the clothes situation. Find matching shoes. Clean out the car.

I must go now. Before I get my unorganized summer self prematurely into Back to School mode.

"Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy." Psalm 33:3

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Patron of the Books

Homeschooling is great! And it doesn't have to be expensive. Especially if you make good use of your local library.

However, my husband is no longer buying it-the inexpensive part. Does anyone else feel the need to check out 40+ of the neatest books, like I do? I come home, presenting them to each of my children as gifts. There are "ooohs" and "ahhhhs" and "which one did you get?" remarks flying all over the place. I just love it. It is good stuff, and it is free.

That is until 3 weeks later when I realize that the books are just a tad bit overdue. Do you know what 40 books x 15 cents a day x 3 days is? It is a good homeschool math calculation to know, I tell ya.

Now times that by 4 times a year. You are starting to see my point, right? That one day, they may just have to name a wing of our local library after me. I could just be one of their biggest donors.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Here we are....

Welcome to my blog! I hope I come up with something entertaining, valuable, or insightful to share.

I have had a little side obsession with reading other people's blogs for awhile, now. My dear friend started one when she moved out of state and I would check daily to see if her little girl had donned any new hair bows or her baby boy's toothy grin was filling in. I didn't realize that soon I would add to my list. First, I read a blog of someone I had recently met to check up on a missions trip she had taken. I read her blog, written like a diary, and fell in love with this dear soul. I got to know her in a way that I wouldn't have if it weren't for the good ol' internets. Slowly I began to find that I was drawn to read the updates on these "cyber friends" more than the headlines on "Yahoo News". I mean, who cares about what Paris Hilton is doing when Pioneer Woman is on her cookbook tour?!

So, here it is. My offering back to those, who like me, can fall in love with a soul they've never met, once they find out that they share some of the same weird qualities, laugh over the same jokes, and seek answers to some of the same questions.

Yes, it is time for me to stop lurking and come out of my shell.