Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday

It is Thursday!  I pray that we have thankful hearts throughout the whole week, and just not on Sunday or Thursday.

1.  I am thankful that we live in the same town as my grandmother!  And that she just stops by to take the kiddos over to McDonald's for sundaes!  It is SO special to them!

2.  I am thankful for the example the Proverbs 31 woman sets.

3.  I am thankful that my husband could make my washer work until we can afford another one!

4.  I am thankful that I get to feel Striker multiple times a day...a sweet little reminder of the gift that God gave us with this little one!

5.  I'm thankful that Sam is a rock solid man in the Lord.  He has a serious yearning for the Scriptures and an awesome desire to become more like Christ.  He challenges me everyday to become more like our Heavenly Father.

A little homeschooling...

Shopping at the store! 
 We are working on coins in our math curriculum, so I set up a little grocery store and gave the kids coins (It also helped T to realize he does indeed need to learn his numbers!) so they could go shopping. It was fun!

Celery before
Red and Blue Celery!
The tubes found in the stem that carry the water from the roots to the leaves!

 We are totally loving the AIG God's Design for Life series.  My kids are learning so much and they are asking wonderful DEEP questions.  Sam has been stumped by one even!  This week we learned about stem structure and so we watched red and blue dyed water travel from the base to the top of celery by tubes the tubes in the stem.

I am constantly blown away with what they are learning. Their brains are soaking up so much information.  Every morning we go through the states and capitals (which totally confusing Isaiah, when you ask him what the capital of California is he will say C instead of Sacramento!) and it is working! I will hear the boys singing the songs as they play!  The info is going in, now just to help them organize it!  Isaiah is finding the 5 and 6 addition and subtraction families a bit of a struggle, which for him is probably more 'average' but he is having to work to commit those facts to memory!  He is also doing so well in reading.  He is reading books that 2 months ago I thought he wouldn't be able to sit down and read alone for another year!  He still loathes reading, and I'm praying there will be a day when he will WANT to just pick up a book and read it.  He is still new to this reading thing so I'm praying that as time goes along, his confidence will grow and he'll be comfortable to just pick up a book and read.

The boys are exact opposites! T struggles in math (mainly number recognition!) and is excelling in reading.  He knows all the sounds of the alphabet and for the last two week we have been adding constants to vowels and working on blend ladders.  Yesterday we added a constant at the end of the blend to make a word.  BAM! He read a word.  His smile was SO radiant.  So so so radiant when he realized what just happened!

Do you know what is just awesome?  Watching my children read from the bible themselves!  I've been encouraging (especially Isaiah!) to open their bibles every morning during our bible time and look for familiar words (for T) and to actually read a verse!  Seeing their noses tucked away in their bibles can bring this Momma to tears!  This morning I watched the boys work with Hannah girl on her color flashcards and Isaiah flip through T's number flashcards with him.  Isaiah loved helping his siblings!  I love to watch their relationships grow.  Plus, we have been able to play with friends every day this week! 

I am struggling to find balance.  Next week T has a pulmnologist appointment which is likely take us away the whole day, but I have everything figured out so test days fall on certain days (Thursday and Friday) so it just fits nicely...and after next week it won't fit so nicely!  God is working in my heart on balance.  It is OK to miss a day here and there.  And I am very capable of adjusting the lesson plans.  So I just need to stop worrying!  I was getting to relaxed about bedtime and this made for some not very happy kiddos to start school time at 8:30am!  We are getting back to a nice routine at bedtime, it is hard since Sam has been having many late days.  I have also been focusing on Proverbs 31 and going through a study by Elizabeth George during my morning quiet time and then I wrap it up during our afternoon down time.  It has been wonderful and driving me towards being the godly woman I so desire to be!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Proverbs 31

Let me just start by saying, I'm not there.  Not even close.  I am not a Proverbs 31 woman.  However, I do greatly desire and aspire to be like the woman described in Proverbs 31.  I can't do this without Christ and without His Word.  You will see more posts on this long never-ending journey for me.  This is the first of many!

Proverbs 31:11-12

New King James Version (NKJV)
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
      So he will have no lack of gain.
       12 She does him good and not evil
      All the days of her life.

I confess that I have mocked this chapter of Scripture when I felt threatened that I couldn't attain the perfection of this woman.  I confess that I stood by and watched others mock her.  This left me very heartbroken.  God convicted me of this, and showed me the Holiness of HIS WORD.  It is NOT to be mocked!

So, here I am today...An imperfect wife, mom, and woman.  I desire to bring God glory with my life and I want to have the desire to strive for holiness.  I want to surround my life with others that are striving after the same goal of holiness.  I can't do it alone, I can't do it with human help...I can only come a smidgen closer to holiness with Christ.  This is a constant yielding to Christ and what He is doing in my heart.  Always changing me, pushing me on to the goal that He has laid out for me.  I pray that I will always say at the end of the year when I reflect back "Wow! What a year of growing!"  I pray that I will still say those words as I approach my last year on this earth as I continually prepare for my heavenly home. 

God made me a girl.  A woman.  Even though I want to be different from Eve, I am just like her and I would've urged my husband to take the same bite for fruit that I knew was forbidden for me to eat.  Because of this sin, I am made to be submissive to my husband.  Deep breath, I did just write the big S word...submit.  We all hate it, why?!?!  Well, because it means we are denying ourselves the basic right (worldly right, I might add) of leadership that our flesh so desires. 

I struggled with submission early on in our marriage.  I am a head strong nothing is going to stop me I will conquer the world kinda gal.  College bound with dreams of a teaching career, so self satisfying!  Submission was never in my vocabulary.  Having not given my life to Christ until after meeting my husband, I was a young Christian with so much to learn.  I still ask him what he saw in me early on to think I was a suitable helpmeet, because I certainly wasn't on track to be a godly submissive wife.  I felt that (oh this pains me so to write now!) Sam's task in life was to make me happy, to make sure all my needs were met...until his last dying day.  I was a woman, hear me roar!  Maybe I did, but reflecting back I do not sense a servants heart.  I rarely cooked, and cleaning was nearly non-existent.  I put my needs far above his, and I would stoop to public husband bashing when I got the chance.

Then, God forced me to look at Proverbs 31.  I resisted.  I mocked that woman.  I mocked God's Word.  I joked with others that I was a proverbs 32 woman, because well, Proverbs 31 was not attainable.  Oh Lord, forgive me!!  There was a woman that God placed in my life who had such a thirst for the Scripture, even in her retirement, and she was not afraid to speak the truth to me.  The cold hard truth, the truth that we often run from.  She really challenged me to look at God's Word, His truths for my life.  This was an area where I really struggled, marriage and submission.  Submitting myself to the needs of someone else is always tough to do. 

There is great joy in submitting and serving my husband.  No no, I bet you are picturing Sam as this male who just sits around the house and watches while I do the housework.  Not so.  While you will never ever spy him doing dishes, you will see him folding laundry or running the vacuum cleaner.  He is a night owl, so it is always a treat when I wake up to find that he blessed me by doing a household chore for me late in the night!  We have found such joy in serving each other as we focus on Christ as the center of our marriage.  Joy in submitting.  Joy in serving.  Joy in dying to myself.  In my heart transformation in my marriage I am also having a heart transformation in my walk with Christ.  I challenge you to read through Proverbs 31.  Pray that God will open your heart, take away the bitterness that you may feel...and just find joy in serving. 

(to be continued...)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thankful Thursday ... only on Friday... :)

Yesterday was crazy.  The end of our lovely 'honeymoon' of homeschooling, the first day where giving up sounded like an option in my mind.  And this morning when I read my friends "Thankful Thursday" list, I knew writing one myself would put my heart/mind in the right place.

1.  I am thankful for summer days when my husband doesn't have to work.  Contrary to popular beliefs that school teacher do nothing....he has worked 10 hour days at school this week only to come home and put in another 3-5 hours of grading/planning.  We miss him.  But these long days make me praise God that he has summers off!

2.  I am thankful for a photographer friend who took awesome pictures of my kids this week!

3. Forgiveness. Renewed friendships.  A repentant heart (mine).

4.  That I am able to home school kids.  That I even have the option to teach them about God in a free country when there are so many other Christians who can't even utter the Word of the Lord without being put to death.

5.  For a husband who sees me as a precious child of God, and treats me as so.  Even when I am so undeserving.  I am blown away that he loves me so much.

6.  Listening to my kids store precious biblical truths in their hearts!

7.  WOL Campground...because at least once a week Sam and I talk about our excitement to return next year!!!!  It is the best family vacation ... but we don't really see it as a vacation since we are learning so much about Christ during that week that our brains are overflowing when we come home!

8.  Friends that God has put in my life along our many stops along the way.  I'm so sad that we have moved and have left many wonderful friends behind, but what a huge rock they have been in my pursuit for God!

9.  It's Friday, and that means we get to hang out with my parents at some point this weekend and there is something so comforting about their house for me!

10.  God's sweet promise found in Scripture when facing trials.  1 Peter 1:6-7 "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,"

11. For Christ Tomlin's song "Our God is Greater" that has been played no fewer than 23 times a day at my house this past week!

And I could keep going but our school day is waiting to start! :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A week in review, kind of.

Where in the world did a week go?!?!

I must admit that I'm starting to feel more scatter brained these days.  Forgetting things that I said we were going to do that day.  Worrying about getting the kids outside to play enough.  I am trying to not forget things, but schooling and housework fill my brain and things just fall out.  As the boys say, "It just can't help it."  That is my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Sam is back to work and crazy busy.  I miss having him home more, I miss his companionship even more.  It is Wednesday morning and I'm craving the weekend with him.  I am so blessed that God chose me to be his helpmeet, even though I feel like a very unfavorable choice!

What is going well?  Bible time in the morning.  I love it.  We have been focusing on creation which has been awesome!  We are also working on memory verses during that time.  I like that we can play worship music during our lessons (don't fret, I turn it off if I think it is distracting the kiddos or if they request it off!)...I love that God is the center of our day.  I like that I could have Monday and Tuesday of this week as review days for Turner.  I feel like he needed the time to really cement in the material he has learned thus far.  I love that when Isaiah said today at the end of Phonics, "Can I write a story?" we could!  His first story!!  It was a simple three sentence story, but he did it all by himself.  I chose to walk away from the dining room table and let him figure out the spelling of some of the more difficult words himself.  He did a wonderful job! Then, we took the story over to Daddy at work!  I love how randomly throughout the day Turner will go through the vowel sounds to review them!  I love the flexibility and that Isaiah said to me this week, "Mom, can I really go to the bathroom whenever I want without asking?"  And at breakfast yesterday morning he asked if we could take a day off and go visit Aunt Tara because we haven't seen her or Uncle Scott in over a month :(  I enjoy reading to/with the kids in the afternoons, we are almost done with Mr. Popper's Penguins!

What isn't going so well...  I'm a hard nosed work driven teacher, drill sergeant anyone?  I need to back off a bit and give more breaks, allow for more playtime.  When I get in the teaching mode, there is no stopping me.  I need to lighten up a bit.  This is a tough one, I'm seeing a lot, I mean A LOT, of my negative qualities in my children's behaviors as we spend more time together.  It is a negative because it is hard for ME.  Because God is revealing impurities in my heart.  But necessary.  I feel like they don't get out of the house enough.  Every decent day we walk to the playground, but I still feel like it isn't enough.  We only had football once last week and once this week, so I feel like they are craving more play time with others.  Maybe it is just me putting that feeling on them? Who knows!  Our weekends are filled with family and cousins to play with, so I hope it is just me that is worried.  Incorporating more art into our day.  It IS messy, and my house is already messy.  I'm sure this will get better as winter carries on and our time outside is less and less. 

I want to make sure I'm embracing our day and keep it God-focused, God-centered.  It can be tough when I have my agenda that I think needs to be fulfilled!  I want to foster more friendship between my children and to yell less.  Yes, believe it or not, I yell.  Sometimes I even get frustrated.  I know, you are surprised!  I still love homeschooling.  I wouldn't trade these 'not so well's' for sending my kids to school any day.  I'm surprised at the changes in my heart.  And I praise God for that.  I am so thankful that through teaching my own children God is changing my heart.

Did I mention Isaiah wants to learn cursive?  I shouldn't have mailed the cursive book back to A Beka this summer! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why homeschooling?

Well I'm glad you asked.

Or not.  Since it puts me in the 'other' corner, the one that gets funky stares when I grocery shop with 3 kids at 1pm when it is clearly still school hours.

Or when my kids say they are homeschooled the person then looks at me with the "Oh those POOR kids" look.

And the world tells me I am failing them, and part of me wants to run and enroll them back in public school.

Or the look I get because "What about 'you' time?"

I will totally admit that I get caught up in it all...and sometimes I even do feel guilty about homeschooling.  I voiced it to my Dad last night as we watched the kiddos play on the playground.  The guilt about making sure that they get enough socialization with other children, you know so they aren't 'those poor kids'.  When school started I mourned the loss of my 'me time' as I read the status' on facebook of Mommies sending their kids off.  I'll admit that a very small part of me missed the excitement of it.  Do I need to even mention that my reffing skills have greatly improved since the children are home all day, together.  Together, all day.  Right?  Yea. 

All that stuff?  Is NOTHING in comparison to the bond that I see growing between me and then between each other.  As we work together through lessons and as they work together through struggles, the growth is overwhelming.  I told Sam this weekend that I was just overwhelmed with homeschooling.  He got this look of terror on his face...overwhelmed?  I had to explain that my overwhelming feelings were extremely positive.  It was (IS!) more of an emotional overwhelming than being overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed.  Watching them grow and develop, being an active part in their learning is amazing.  There is a door that has been opened in our communication together that I/we didn't experience at all last year.  The time I actually spend with the kids, quality time, is in abundance.  We sit and read together and during nap time they love it when I make the rounds and lay with each one of them in each of their beds talking and reading individually with them.  The conversations we have together are so touching.  They feel more open to verbalize their fears with me and the amount of affection they are showing to me and each other can be, at times, over the top!  So sweet!!  It just feels right. 

So why?  It just feels right.  There is so much more than just schooling in our day.  There is a day filled with love with Christ at the center.

Yes, melodramatic? Probably, I hope so.  I wasN'T an emotional person but God has been working in my heart.  To soften me, to make me a more loving and forgiving person.  So, here I am...embracing the melodramatic! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

I really do look forward to Monday's when I can sit down with the kiddos and open the lesson book again.  Isaiah's reading is just growing by leaps and bounds.  His confidence is exploding.  I can see him processing the one and two vowel rules as he goes through a sentence.  Right now we are working on his confidence with distinguishing between the long and short vowel sounds.  He no longer needs me sitting right next to him, and he is no longer painfully sounding out every single word in every sentence.  He is developing a rhythm in his reading and it just makes my heart want to burst!  He has reading homework every night that he is supposed to do with someone other than me.  On Friday he read with my Mum, tonight he will read with Daddy!  His math skillzzzzz are sick, in a very good way! ;) 

Turner will have his first assessment today or tomorrow.  He struggles.  I feel his struggle.  I have to keep reminding myself that he is just in Kindergarten, that it isn't such a big deal.  I pulled out another work book for him to work on while Isaiah is working on his reading lesson to re-enforce what he is learning during his lessons.  A Beka would like me to 'grade' him, and I'm just not ok with that.  He is still feeling this homeschooling thing out.  He honestly just doesn't care about academics.  I went to scan some reproducible worksheets from a book I have, and my scanner died :(  We are working on the vowels and number recognition. 

Right now I have jelly canning jars lined up in my kitchen with beans in them to see (or I guess, "PROVE" since we know what they need to grow!) which one contains the perfect environment to grow in.  The kids are loving science. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Test!

T reading while Isaiah works on Math after his morning of lessons!

Isaiah started Story Problems yesterday!

Hannah is such a trooper!  It is tough for her while the boys get one on one instruction.  She has a 'letters' book that she pulls out and we work on!
So tomorrow is Isaiah's first test!  He has his math test in the morning.  I have complete confidence in his ability to ROCK it.  He is great at math, he loves it.  He flies through his 1-5 addition family flashcards (makes his Daddy SO proud!)  We end the day with math, so he ends on quite the high.  Turner is working on number recognition 1-8...academics aren't as important to T so it is a bit of a struggle. 

Isaiah's reading is exceeding my expectations every day!!!  Yesterday he was able to read a simply sentence to me!  It was so wonderful to sit and rejoice with him over his accomplishment!  It is so encouraging to see him apply what he is learning in reading to environmental print.  Pure BLISS!!  Today I challenged him by reading some 4-letter words that have 2 constants in them (ie. lamp, dump, etc)  He is also working on the long vowel sounds and the one/two vowel rules.  He is working on special combos like -ck -ay and the sounds -e -o and -y make at the end of short words.  When you throw it all together and then apply it to reading you can see his brain working to know when to apply certain rules to what word.  Turner is working on Aa, Ee, Ii, and Uu.  Isaiah's first phonics test is on Friday.  I think he will do fine, but this isn't a strong area (for either of us!) so of course I'm naturally nervous for him.  I do expect he will rock it!

We have also decided to ditch the Story of the World Ancient Egypt right now.  We will see about adding it back in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The kids weren't enjoying it, and neither were we.  We are focusing on the A Beka 1 history book "My America and My World" and with that we are learning the States and Capitals songs.  A lot LESS stress for everyone!  They are LOVING the AIG God's Design for Life science!  Wonderful stuff and I'm amazed at what they kids are absorbing.  We are also working through Creation for our bible time, with memory verses. 

So school, well according to my kids "REAL" school, started this week.  It IS a big deal in our home since my husband is a teacher, so there is no avoiding it with the kiddos.  And yes, I totally missed the excitement with the kiddos this year.  Sam moved with his class so he'll have the same group of students, so the hype wasn't there for him also.  I celebrated with the kids by having not our first day of school sundaes at McDonald's.  Can I be perfectly honest?  I'll admit it, there are things that I miss not sending my kids to public school.  Like, drum roll please, free babysitting.  I have a baby doctors appointment next week and taking 3 kids isn't 'fun'...  Also, I knew homeschooling was going to be more of a financial burden since we buy our own curriculum, but we go through more toilet paper and eat a lot more food.  I imagine our electricity bill will be higher since we need more light to work on these rainy days.  This afternoon I trekked to the grocery store with three kids instead of one, it was more of a challenge.  These are all small adjustments that I am happy to make, but still...they are adjustments.  However, I do love the fact that my dinning room looks more like a classroom rather than a place meant just for family eating!! 

I also can't toss the responsibility of educating my children off on someone else.  I feel that weight.  For them to grow and develop and to be on target, and at the end of the day there is no one else to blame but me.  The weight of having social adjusted children is there, especially when I have such social children.  Last night was the first flag football practice for the boys, and they loved it! 

Lots of emotions swirling around in my head this week for the first week of 'real' school...and the reality of our very real 3rd week of homeschooling! :) 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

No School!

Isaiah loathes writing...really hates.  He said to me this week, "Mom, I'm going to do my writing first to get it over even though it makes my stomach hurt."  I was so proud of him for being responsible and sticking it through.

Poor T-man is battling some crazy allergies this week :(  I feel his pain, but he is plugging through with his school work.  :(
We are taking a "No School" day to play with friends that we haven't seen all summer!  We are all excited!!!!  This week went well.  T and I are battling crazy allergies, so we both are feeling a bit foggy.  Sam started back to school yesterday and so now it is just the kiddos and I for the day. 

I am seriously blown away with how much I am enjoying our days together learning.  I can't imagine it any other way!  The kids bounce between LOVING homeschooling and missing public school.  I wish I could explain it better, they don't want to give up homeschooling but they miss the traditional school in many ways.  The boys start flag football tomorrow evening so I hope that will help as they get out and are part of a 'team'.  I will admit that I have that annoying voice in my head, "Make sure your kids are socialized."  My kids are so naturally social.  They don't hide in a corner when kids come to the playground that they don't know.  They are go getters, make friends and get a game started that everyone on the playground can be playing.  I don't want that trait to be squashed!  Yesterday watching them play with everyone at the playground was so awesome! 

This morning we did our usual morning routine, alphabet work, scripture memorization, poem reading, map work, and flashcards but we are taking the rest of the day off!  I'm going to start doing a calendar corner routine too, more for Hannah but the boys will benefit also.  I am going to do weather, patterning, and probably some counting (skip).  I'll add this into our morning routine.  With Sam in his school routine, we should be able to fall into ours quickly. 

We have been finishing up with our core work by lunch time and saving the history (T/Th) and science (M/W/F) for the afternoons.  This week I started reading a chapter book to the kids during quiet time before I send them off with their own age appropriate reading material.  We started Mr. Popper's Penguins.  My thought behind this is to expose the kids to a longer sentence structure and more in depth story lines, hopefully to improve their writing.  This has been a challenge for the kids to just sit back and close their eyes and imagine what they are hearing instead of looking at pictures.  If I were to do this parenting thing over, I'd start reading chapter books when they were much younger!

I am so thankful that Sam is so encouraging and actively involved in this journey!  (I know I know, he SHOULD be...but I was prepared for him to leave it all up to me.)  He has been teaching the science part of our curriculum (YAY AiG God's Design for Life series!!) and has been helping me with our history (Story of the World).  We aren't loving SOTW, not hating but not loving it.  And he is a HUGE creation buff and his knowledge of it blows me away, so I have enjoyed us sitting down together going over the next chapter and discussing it!  Last night he ran to the grocery store since we are all out of the basic staples, and he came home with wonderful lunch ideas for us!  Just the idea that he knew we'd all be here for lunch together and bought us all things we'd enjoy rocks my world!  I am so blessed, so so so blessed. 

Next week is another 4 day week, we are taking Monday off.  Next Friday starts Isaiah's weekly phonics tests so I've been doing some prep with him on that to help alleviate some of the anxiety.  Today he rocked his reading flashcards, I was so proud of him.  He has worked so incredibly hard in his reading and has still struggled.  I have always been a slow reader and was always behind multiple grade levels so I have many flashbacks of struggling while helping him.  He rocked his flashcards today!!!!!!!!  I think the one on one is really working for him, plus I KNOW what he is being taught so I am able to review with him all day.  It is working out so well.  Our whole day is centered around what they are learning during our mornings, much more than when they were in public school.  Since I know what they are being taught (me = teacher), I can capitalize on the teachable moments all throughout the day!