Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reading, reading, and more reading!!!

We took a week off from school.  Even though I didn't officially teach lessons from my teacher books, I still had the boys working on different areas of their learning.  They just didn't know it :)  For example, I challenged them to read 20 books for a prize and then picked out a number of books that centered around Thanksgiving.  The boys were so excited to have days of freedom.  To wake up and not have to buckle down and work on school work.  My Mum came into town and spent the morning and evening with us for a day (she spends the afternoons with my grandmother! I'm so thankful she will divide her time between us!) so the boys loved having the free time to be with her!  We crafted place cards for our 2 Thanksgiving dinners and the boys wrote the names on all the cards!

I have been hesitant to blog about homeschooling and where the kiddos are at.  They have struggled each in their own areas and I didn't want to 'out' them, if you know what I mean?  I know I'd hate for other to be blabbing about my short comings.  And while their struggles are a far cry from 'short' comings since they are doing so well and have far exceeded the standards set for public school students, I still have been hesitant to post about it. 

Isaiah was on a reading spree this weekend.  He sat with my Mum and read a bunch of books with her.  I sat back and listened in awe of the leaps and bounds he has grew in his reading journey since we started homeschooling in August.  He is more willing to challenge himself now and is becoming very fluent with his level 1 readers.  I listened as he added inflections in his voice and his reading became quite 'alive'!  I may have cried a bit.  It was so encouraging to hear him read so comfortably with someone else other than myself!  He still loves math, but when I was telling my grandmother that reading came second to math on his 'like' list, he quickly added that he does enjoy reading!  The library found him some easier leveled comic books that he enjoys so much!

T-man started adding 1 before we had Thanksgiving break.  This opened his eyes to a whole new world in math!  He is doing so well with his number recognition!  I don't feel like I am pulling teeth to get him to the table for his math lesson anymore!  He comes very eagerly!  He loves to be challenged and to have new material placed in front of him.  I struggled with knowing how much to push him at the beginning of our school year when he was getting off to a slow start.  I didn't want to discourage him by pushing to far ahead but I also didn't want him to feel not challenged with the material.  I am very thankful that we kept plugging away.  He finds sight words to be incredibly frustrating and I find him sounding out everything he can!  I love to see his passion grow as he learns more and more every day!

Hannah is working on colors and counting.  She loves to color and just needed a fresh box of crayons for her box as she colored the tips right off her current crayons!  She loves to sit on my lap and color while I am teaching the boys!  She is very excited next year to get her very own school books!

The boys are begging to start cursive.  I had ordered the books but mailed them back out of fear that it would be too difficult and now I am regretting it!  I am going to look just a basic cursive book to start them on once the baby gets here and then I will order the cursive book with their curriculum next year.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Edition: Thankful Thursday

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

New International Version (NIV)
 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I am battling some serious tiredness.  I don't feel necessarily sick, just crazy exhausted.  I am in the third tri so I guess it should be expected.  I have just felt really good this pregnancy (minus the sciatic nerve pain and the heartburn).  We are praising God that this pregnancy has been uneventful!  Not that I am known for problematic pregnancies but with Hannah I had numerous ultrasounds because I measured 6 weeks behind and she was unbelievably relaxed in the womb.  I know, shocking.  She is currently running around my house with the boys like a wild chick and never stops talking!  And T, well...he isn't known for his health! :) 

So it is Thursday.  And we have so much to be thankful for.  I have so enjoyed just listening to my children laugh together this week.  Hysterical laughter.  It has been fantastic.  To see them bond together as we succeed and struggle through our school work has been absolutely amazing.  Isaiah is such an encourager.  Earlier this week he told me that I was so good at math!  He stopped his work, to cheer on his brother while he was rocking out his number recognition (through 59!!!!)  And Hannah just so happened to guess a word correctly that he was sounding out and he was so eager to give her a high-5!  Don't worry, all encouragement from him is tossed aside during a round of Mario Kart on the Wii!  He is ruthless with the controller in his hand, beware! :)

I am thankful for a husband who works so hard for us.  Right now he is nearing his robotics team competition so he is putting long hours in at school while still needing to do all of his regular grading and planning.  He has only a few more days before his basketball season starts, for a few weeks he will be pulling double coaching duty...and we will see how his robotics team could go longer!  I am so thankful that he enjoys what he does!  I am thankful that he puts the kids to bed at night while I either go to bed myself, or just crash on the sofa in the quiet for a few minutes.  I am thankful that he will say "How about subs for dinner?" when cooking is nonexistent and he knows I'm tired.  

I am thankful to sit next to two very eager boys who want to read to me!  I am blown away with how well they are doing!  Turner is sounding out everything he possibly can.  He is so driven to read!  Isaiah read some very challenging words today (thunderstorm! seriously! thunderstorm!) He is learning and using so many tools to help with his reading.  I love to sit with him when it is just us in the morning when the younger two are still sleeping and Sam has went off to work and we just read.  His confidence is growing daily as he reads more.  Next week I'm going to throw a reading challenge at him for Thanksgiving break.  Technically we aren't having school, but is there really such a thing when you home school?  Turner started adding 1 this week in math and wow!  He has a new found love for math now!  He loves to be challenged.  This is a side of him I never imagined!  Isaiah loves a challenge, but it makes Turner so passionate!  It also helps that he is getting closer to the work this brother is doing which drives him a bit more!  They work on their writing at the same time each day and then switch their books so the other one can choose the best written letter on the page.  Then get get to pick a sticker to put next to the letter and a sticker for their brother.  They thought this up on their own! 

I am thankful for Hannah and all of her girlie girl-ness.  I was determined to have a tomboy but she is all girl.  I am thankful that I get to experience NaNa-Mommy-Daughter dates!  I love our conversations and the cuddles!  I love how possessive she is of "HER" baby, and of "HER" boys. 

I am thankful that God chose to bless us with another baby!  This little boy totally wasn't planned but God knew exactly what He was doing!  Everyday we get more and more excited to meet him!  I wonder what he will look like?  Will he beat Turner's massive amounts of hair?  Will he be more lean like Isaiah?  I just can't wait to snuggle him!!  To smell him.  I love to feel him react to the kids kisses or a hand to feel him kick.  I feel like I'm learning so much about his personality right now, I can't wait to put a face with it!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday

1 Peter 5:6-7

English Standard Version (ESV)
 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Yesterday was wild.   I have a friend who is experiencing many of the same breathing troubles our T-man experiences.  It brings up a lot of emotions from Sam and I when T had his last hospital stay and he was incredibly sick.  Maybe incredibly is exaggerating, but Sam and I were incredibly worried during our last hospital visit.  More so than any other.  He didn't respond to treatment as easily as he had before, and after watching our bounce off the wall child not move from his hospital bed hooked to oxygen as he slowly battled whatever was going on in his lungs for days...incredibly doesn't feel like it does the experience justice.  I took dinner to my friend yesterday to see her little guy hooked up to this same machine that T was attached too...the beeping of when it got to low...the staring at it for hours hoping to watch the numbers increase...wondering when the next treatment should come.  We are so grateful for the awesome care he received.  We praise God for that. 

My stomach can't help but get all twisted in concern for my friend as she experiences a similar situation.  Just looking back through the pictures that I took of the pulse ox meter and of my sick T-man is enough to make my want can get the idea without me spelling it out right?  It does things to my stomach just looking at the pictures.  I struggle with the last part of this verse, you know...the part that says, "casting all your anxieties on Him..."  Anxiety is a part of my life.  I struggle so often to cast them off to the Lord but then I find myself right there at the cross picking them back up again.  Why do I enjoy the pain of being anxious so much?  To not yield to the precious promise the God gave us?  And T being sick in the hospital how he was, was an experience totally different, totally radical.  But I'm thinking right now of more of the day to day struggles that I CHOOSE to carry.  That I CHOOSE to bare instead of casting them off.  Why do I do that?  Honestly, being so helpless holding my T-man in the hospital I found carrying out this passage much easier than in my day to day life.  I was much more willing to cast that anxiety off on Him because I didn't know what else to do.  I was, we were, helpless.  We needed HIM.  But what about every day life?  When I can, or when I believe, that I have more control.  I need to put this verse into practice in my day to day life, not just when I'm desperate and helpless.

I am thankful that I can cast my anxieties on Him.

I am thankful for men who come together to study God's Word.  It is such a privilege to host men's bible study here!

I am thankful for a husband who will spend his day off rotating our vehicles at the mechanics to have work done that he isn't comfortable to do himself.

I am thankful that my kids have been healthy for 6  months!

I am thankful that God's ways are NOT our ways and He chose to bless our lives with another little boy.  We can't wait for him to join our family.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mom, Teacher, Referee?

We have been busy!  My concerns about my children not getting enough socialization because of homeschooling have been totally unfounded.  We have been having multiple play dates a week with lots of friends.  I have had the privilege to watch my children grow in their relationships with each other as they are constantly working through struggles and rejoicing together as they master a difficult task. 

It is incredibly moving.  It is also quite the growing experience for all of us.  Growth isn't a walk in the park.  It is a painful process of being stretched and refined.  I often think of the pain my oldest would experience growing pain in his legs in the middle of the night.  He would wake up crying and in obvious discomfort.  It was difficult for a Momma to sit back and watch him 'grow' but a necessary process in getting older.

I would argue that a majority of my time homeschooling has not been spent on lesson plans.  It has been spent on fostering a loving caring relationship between my children, or, ahem, referring battles.  That has been the more challenging than any other aspect of homeschooling.  It is more exhausting than worrying about phonics and sums.  In the grand scheme of life, it is far more important than phonics and math.

Some days there is more referring than teaching, and those days are when the growing pains are felt the most.  They make the clearing in the field or the light at the end of the tunnel all the more enjoyable!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Genesis 28:15

English Standard Version (ESV)
15Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

This is the verse the kids and I are memorizing this week for school.  It was God's promise to Jacob..."I will NOT leave you until I have done what I have promised you."  Today I am thankful that I have complete confidence that He will not leave  me!  What a sweet promise as I can get easily overwhelmed with life.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween, or Not?

I have never been a big fan of halloween.  For some reason I never enjoyed dressing up and the make-up made me feel sick to my stomach.  Scents are huge for me, and something about the make up just smelt bad.  I hated the idea of being scared.  Add to that my not very social outgoing personality and knocking on doors requesting candy made me feel very anxious.  My parents loved it!  They would spend the whole day decorating the interior of the house to match the exterior.  The seamstress that my mother is, she would spend the whole month of October sewing my family a complete set of themed costumes.  We picked out a theme where we could all be something of the same group, Flintstones and the Adams Family to name a few!  We lived in the middle of nowhere so our trick or treaters were few but we always went all out!  Our trick or treating was bundling up in our snow gear under costumes that Mum would make a size to big, and driving from house to house since there were no side walks and the houses were to far apart to walk on a dark cold evening.  

As a family (Sam and I), we have always been on the fence with halloween.  To participate, or not?  We struggled with this question in early October.  You can find an article that someone has written to support whatever you want to believe.  You can throw the bible verse around about darkness and resisting evil.  We didn't want to endorse a wicked celebration but we also have a heart for home missions.  We want to be careful to not close ourselves off from our community.  We are constantly checking and making sure that we aren't justifying doing something that God wouldn't approve of by our sinful nature.

The kiddos love to dress up AND they love candy.  So we did it.  I have to admit, I really truly enjoyed it.  I enjoyed walking with the kids to houses and to see their smiles as they skipped back to us after collecting their loot.  I was excited to see them use their manners.  I was thrilled to watch the boys take their younger sister under their wings and to keep her safe walking up and down stairs and from the crazy crowds.  I was pleasantly surprised watching them be totally fearless walking up to costumed adults handing out candy, usually Hannah leading the way!  It was a great family night out with Darth Vader, Batman, and the Princess Butterfly!