Monday, August 31, 2009

Time Away

We've just returned from our annual August trek to the Island. We have three guys in our family that have a birthday within a week or so of each other, one of them being our son Isaac. It was a great time of catching up and remembering.

As you'll see above my header picture has changed. Same location different picture, and different time of year. The cliff in the picture is where we released the ashes of our son Jonah, who would now be seven years old. I visit that cliff each time I return to the Island. It is absolutely beautiful and peaceful. It is one way of remembering, acknowledging and embracing Jonah's life and the grace that it brought us.

I am finishing up school organizing this week, as well as, having my two nieces visit for a few days.

I leave you with a sunset I enjoyed from my time on the Island. My soul finds such peace and refreshing in the solitude and beauty of nature.

The city just doesn't cut it for me!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Plan, Plan, Plan

The official start to our school is in roughly two weeks. I look forward to the traditional breakfast out the first day of school. It usually is the holiday so daddy is home and we all go together. Then we come home and have our annual school supply treasure hunt. This year we have much less to buy for some reason. Maybe because we didn't do as much formal school this past year. My kids sure learned many other valuable lessons outside of academics last year. The biggest being a baby brother and another being gone 12-14 hours a day. He worked at home up to then so they were pretty bummed about that. Journey also learned how to clean the bathrooms and make lunch last year. All very valuable skills in my opinion.

Every year until this one I have spent HOURS planning our year out in great detail. Part of that is my personality and partly because I wanted to make sure they were getting all they needed in an education. This year, well, not so much. I am planning some. The more I do this the more I am learning to relax and take it not so seriously. Okay, now I know your thinking I am going down the wrong road here but give me a few more sentences to explain myself.

One of my best friends said to me the other day (Hi, if your reading!) that I am overly diligent. We're pretty honest with each other and I think we could all use a friend like that. Anyway, at first I thought wait a I'm not. Then as I thought about it, yes I am. Being diligent is a good quality but being over diligent is like watering a dead plant. A dead plant doesn't need attention so move on to what does. I can plan all I want and should but really being prepared is about consistent training and being present with them. I also tend to have great expectations when I over invest. Not a good thing in most cases. So I have a plan for this next year for both my kids. But more then anything I have priorities. Something will inevitably come up this year and change what lesson we are on for a particular week. We will have to rearrange things which is okay. The last 4 years of this thing called homeschooling has taught me to stick to the priorities and not so much the plan.

This years priority is my son Isaac. We are facing many challenges only many fronts. So when all gets crazy this is where I will camp out. It is impossible to do it all, everyday with all your children, every year. If that is your expectation I'm pretty sure you will be disappointed. Now bare in mind that I am not going to send my 9 year old to the neighbours and leave the baby in his crib all day :o) in order to focus on Isaac. We will work toward the goals we've set out but I'm not pushing my son into a meltdown to get history done with my nine year old. Peace will carry much more value now and in the future then will knowing what year WW II started.

I am learning more and more that home educating isn't so much about ALL that they learn. It is more about learning how to learn, how to think and how to love God with all their hearts. They have a life time to learn whatever they want but they are only with me being guided and trained for a short while. May God give me the wisdom and grace as I endeavor to do that this year. Simplicity and not being militant mom pushing the schedule goes along way to help create opportunities for learning that you'd never find in a textbook.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Food For Thought

In my reading this morning over at Challies Dot Com he posted a quote from John N. Oswalt’s The Bible Among the Myths.

"I question whether we can talk about 'development' of any sort apart from the unique biblical perspective. Does 'the historical process' teach us about development or progress? Certainly we can look back over the past ten millennia and see certain signs of increased technical competence. We have moved from hunter-gatherers using sharpened stones as tools to bureaucrats communicating around the world electronically in seconds.

But is that progress? Or is it merely change? What is the goal toward which human society is tending? Or are we too, like our 10,000 year-old forbears, only wishing to survive as long as possible with a maximum of comfort, pleasure, and security? In fact, the idea of progress is dependent on the idea that our Creator has a goal for us, outside of ourselves, toward which we humans were made to progress and against which our progress can be measured. Give up that truth, and 'progress' becomes a chimera."

Such a clear focused definition of what progress should be. Advancement of any kind is based on the Creators goal and plans for our lives, country, community and nation. I love how he points out it is a goal outside of ourselves. I find that outside myself part a daily battle in my small corner of the universe. The measurement must be HIS big picture not my own assessment distorted by my feelings and present circumstances.

There so much more to this related to our culture and the "progress" of society as a whole. Are we really progressing or just making ourselves happy and fat.

What are your thoughts on this?

I must admit I had to look up the word "chimera".
I had not clue what it meant :o) Now this word girl has one more in her arsenal.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mobility Begun!

I put Eli in the middle of the kitchen floor and

went into the other room for 2 minutes. This

is what I came back too.

The chase is on!

This is his new favorite thing to do. Push his bum up and stand on all fours (and his head). I personally think he is teasing me by showing me he could just get up and walk. But alas, he is sticking to his nature of being nice to his mama and doing one thing at a time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Homeschool Year

This year marks year five home educating my children. I was reminiscing the other day of Journey being in pigtails snuggling up to me while reading Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader 1. She loved to then go draw a picture and narrate back to me. She was a natural word girl. The reading started at 4.5 years and took off shortly after five. You would find this little petite five year old curled up in the corner with a book far beyond her years. I remember her reading Homer Price at just 6 years old and laughing while reading. She totally got the humor. These are precious memories and what fun we had and still do. She continues to be my word girl, running for the dictionary when we can't spell something or know the meaning. She has on her own initiative created a vocabulary book and personal animal encyclopedia compiling all the different things she reads about animals.

I used to think it was the method I used or maybe that I was just smart (ha!). Though I think different methods do help different children, ultimately she is this way because she was wired and created this way. She loves words, language, writing and reading with a passion. It's beautiful to me because I am the same way. I also love it because personality wise she is so much like my husband and she look likes him too. It's such a treasure that we have in common.

Well, along comes child number two. All my grandiose ideas about my homeschooling capabilities went out the window. Isaac is the polar opposite of Journey. All boy, of coarse! Isaac needs to see it, touch it and feel it or it just doesn't compute. This is how he was wired and created to be. I am still on a learning curve to teach him the basics. Added to all this is the ADHD and struggle to pay attention, and to auditorily process his world. Words are strange to him, though he loves stories it's not the words he grasps but the pictures he forms in his head. I anticipate reading fluently is a ways off for him. Part of his struggle is simply coming to the table of learning willingly. The ADHD makes even trying to focus frustrating which then he compensates for by acting out. So much of teaching him right now is to manage himself, not mastering language. As long as this is his greatest need it is where we will strive to grow. Reading will come but self control and character are built from the foundation. They are the building blocks to learning and education in my opinion.

So I embark on year five of teaching my children at home. It is mixed with joy and intimidation. On many levels I am clueless. I am not the crafty, spontaneous hands on mom who loves a good messy craft. I don't think along the lines of hands on and pictures. I think in words for the most part. This is stretching for me. If I am honest, I am not going into this year gung-ho. I think the big yellow school bus looks appealing. This week my kids are in a soccer camp for 3 hours everyday. I keep thinking, this must be what it feels like to send your kids to school everyday. I get to think, process without one hundred questions....without TONS of noise. The baby and I get to hang out and do baby stuff. The laundry is caught up, the dishes are done, I read a book......and on goes the mental gymnastics. The temptation is HUGE for me to throw in the towel and pursue this ease in my life. This up coming year will not be easy as we learn how to learn together, all being so different. It might even get down right ugly some days.

Fortunately my assurance isn't in my method or Susan Wise Bauer's (though I love her method!). It is in the fact that God has called us to teach our children, on every level, in our home. So though I feel intimidated and completely out of my comfort zone, I know that the path I am on is the right path for our family. I am fully convinced this is where he has placed me for His glory and my good.

God will supply all that I need for life and godliness. He is faithful and able when I am not.

And homeschooling is life on hyper drive some days, especially around here!

(Want to be clear that I don't think putting a child in public or private school is wrong...simply not what we are called to do with our kids at this time)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Six Years Old

August 13th marked the sixth birthday of my big boy. You are the goof and jokester of the family. Passionately pursuing what ever your interest may be. Dinosaurs and insects are the current focus and have been for over a year. You know so many details about the different kinds of bugs. It's fascinating to watch you pour over books to learn more about your favorite creatures even though you can't read yet.

Your love of nature and the outdoors keeps the rest of us healthy. If you can be outside you will be. I long one day to see you have fields to roam to your hearts content. To fill your treasure box with all the things you'll find on your outings.

I so enjoy your loud belly laugh that gets us all going. Your love of cooking and baking. It's helpful that you like to cook considering how you like to eat!

Though this year has been full of change and growth for you and us as your parents. You truly are a gift from God.

Happy Birthday Isaac!

The Many Faces of Six

New Tinkertoy Set Creations

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Love Rod and Staff!

It's not everyone's cup of tea. Honestly I wasn't sold on it till recently. I even recall giving away some of the very books I just purchased this year. I wasn't into the bible workbook thing. My nine year old daughter loves their Bible reading and workbooks. She is doing them over the summer for fun. She is absorbing so much Bible understanding. As she gets more and more familiar with the knowledge of the Bible the discussions on theology and the living relationship are so much easier. We are also using their grade 4 Language this year as recommended in the Well Trained Mind. Last year our language was all literature based and this year I want something more rigorous.

The real love for me this year is their Grade 1 Reading and Phonics Program. I taught my oldest to read with library books, literature and a few readers. She was reading at 4 1/2 easily. She is very left brained, orderly and responsible. This year I am teaching a very different learner to read. He is a very right brained, spatial, picture based, hands on learner who is on move. He needs short fun lessons. At first I was a skeptic about R&S for reading, thinking it was just another workbook. I have discovered that it uses whole language and phonics combined. Some thing my memory based learner needs in order to read. The straight phonics just doesn't click with him. I also love the discussion all based around a biblical theme. It also has cut and paste activities that go with each lesson. If he can use his hands he will learn! I just discovered today they use a Blending Slide. The consonant is at the top where you then slide down with your finger and collide into the vowel to make two letter blends. This is right up his alley. Colliding anything including letters is a favorite.

I haven't actually used it so I could be all excited for nothing. Still in the planning stage for next year but wanted to share as I make my plans. I love finding something that I think will work for a particular child. That's our job after all. To train and teach them on every level. I'm grateful for how R&S is serving my family in doing that.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Peek in My Window - 8-9-09

What's happening today?

Outside it is raining which is a relief to me. After the super hot weather a week ago I am ready for a bit of cool. We started our fall routine this morning. I always start easing into the new routines and changes the last month of summer. Aaron took the kids for the entire day this weekend to give me time to get my planning done. I don't have everything planned for the fall but have a "plan" to get it all done. There are many changes happening to our schooling days in light of a completely different learner this year. I can't believe this is starting our 5th year of home educating our children.

Eli has taken to screaming when no one is paying attention to him. I totally forgot about that stage. It seems I have forgotten most stages. None the less, I am enjoying him so much. I am also relishing the tender relationship my oldest and youngest are developing. Today, I found Journey on the floor snuggled up to Eli as he drank his goat milk bottle. She was just talking away to him stroking his hair. Those are the moments I don't want to ever forget. Eli adores his big sister. Every time she enters the room he lights up with a huge smile. This will come in handy when he has soccer practice in 7 years and she has a drivers license...I'm thinking ahead.

I also joined a ladies gym last weekend to get started back to my fitness goals. It is literally not even one minute away by car. My plan is to go in the evenings 2x per week and once on the weekends.

Oh, and we are being over run by dinosaurs and monster trucks but that's nothing new.

On My Mind
Mostly thinking about the upcoming school year and Isaac's ADHD and attention struggles.

I have been thinking about many of the bad habits I have formed over the summer in trying to deal with some of the stress we've faced related to Isaac's struggles. I started caving for lack of a better term into entertainment like movies and online shows. I have cut myself off for two weeks to break the bad habit. Funny how I went from to much blogging/Internet time too movies. Can you tell I was trying to avoid some things in my life?

Also thinking about how much to share and not share here about the ADHD and it's effects. It is such a huge part of my everyday existence yet I am reluctant to share.

That the 31st marks 12 years of marriage for us.

I'm Reading

The book of James

The Complete Guide to ADHD by R. Barkley

Children The Challenge by Rudolf Dreikurs (not recommending it...just started reading)

House of Orphans by Helen Dunmore
(just picked up from library and finished chapter 1...if you know something I don't know let me know)

The Secret of the Swamp by Piet Prins (read aloud with kids)

I'm Making

A pictorial routine chart for Isaac. Aaron (my live in artist) hand drew many of the pictures which I just love. He made a few of them very "Isaac" like. For example, including bugs on the outside play card. Isaac's favorite hobby this summer has been killing the wasps in our backyard by hand. Some things you just let go of as a mother :o)

I'm Listening

To stories from the kids quiet times humming in the background and the click of my keyboard.

I am also into an old Watermark CD called All Things New.

I Am Grateful for

Aaron's job

My Psychical Strength
My blood pressure was 96/52 today. My bum may be big but it's healthy!
I have a very close friend who's body doesn't work as it should. I am humbled daily by her godly attitude about it.

My three kids who are a gift even on the worst days. And this summer there has been some bad days.... trust me!

I am in Faith for

This upcoming school year. Knowing God has a plan in light of all my weakness' and struggles we face. He has all the wisdom I need all I need do is ask.

The Gospel In Today

I deserve nothing and look what I have!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Ten Months Today

We have the tradition in our family of taking a picture of our children every month in the same chair until they are 24 months old. It's lots of fun to compare all three kids at the same age. Eli is the boy version of his big sister at this age.

Today Eli John was plopped in the chair for his monthly photo except he would not sit still. He has become the squirmiest on the move little boy. I am not sure I got a decent still picture of him but adorable non the less.

He has cut four teeth this past month almost simultaneously. Poor guy has been a trooper. Even though he was a bit grumpy (and rightly so) during the day he continued to sleep at night.

Each time I put him on the floor I fully expect him to simply crawl away. He does every other move but actually put out his hand and go forward. Once he figures that out there is no turning back. My 9 year old has already offered her baby chasing a price of course :o)

Still amazed that this little miracle has graced our life and feel so grateful to watch him grow up.

Catch me if you can!

Can't miss the red hair.

The pudgy fingers get me every time.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

TWIG Basket

Awhile ago I read of someone making a basket for her quiet times. The idea struck a cord with me for many reasons. The idea of having all I needed to spend some time with God in one accessible place appealed to me. Being a mom of small children I don't often do this in the same place or at the same time. Though I plan for both it doesn't always work out that way. Add to this my husbands ever changing schedule and the only consistent part of times with God is the need to have them :o)

So I went out and bought myself a cute little basket, on sale of course. It is a long rectangle which I find helpful for keeping books, journal and bible. The round baskets won't carry much due to their shape. I keep my bible and journal along with different color pens in the basket. I have some basic bible helps in there and my disc man with a few CD'S. I also include one book I am trying to work my way through. I choose a book related to Titus 2 and/or the cross. Though I read many Christian books I find it is essential that I am reading in the two previous areas. When I have time I read that particular book after my bible reading. So far I have been in the same book by Elizabeth George since January. Obviously an indicator of how often I have extra time for reading.

I named it my "TWIG" basket, which stands for Time With God", because these times are often no where near a quiet time. Many mornings I am reading and praying with a chattering baby at my side or a very energetic loud 5 yr old or both. There are times they wake me so early I simply wait till nap time.

I do find that now that I have my TWIG basket, with all I need to meet with God I actually do it more often. I love how I simply need to pick up the basket and head for the living room, bedroom or even the bathroom to get started. My kids even know what I am doing when they see the basket.

I have also created a way to keep me on track with praying for my family and others. More on that next time.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Berry Blue Weekend

We made our annual trek to our local berry farm.

Yummy spray free blueberries. There is nothing like them. I love freezing them and having them year round for smoothies.

The funny part this year.....our berries (20lbs worth)
weigh the same as our baby :o)

The raspberries didn't fair to well on the trip home.