December 27, 2009

Powerful words

A friend forwarded this link to me and I thought it was tremendous.  Absolutely worth sharing.


December 21, 2009

How shall you live?

I wrote about the new book I'm using for my devotional time with the Lord - in addition to my Bible of course. :-)
This morning I spent a glorious hour sitting at the feet of my Lord - figuratively of course, but there is another blog I've been reading that talks about our study time being spent at Jesus' feet as Mary did, instead of being distracted by busy-ness as Martha was... but I digress.
This morning I got up with Steve and had coffee and enjoyed the peace and quiet of a house full of sleeping children while I did my study time. I worked on chapter 3 of my book Faith of our Fathers and it was really amazing.  This chapter focused on the fact that we can not live separate from what we TRULY believe.  That is not to say that we can't make statements about our beliefs and then negate them with actions - that happens ALL the time.  Our government is FULL of people who do this constantly.  Our jobs, stores, churches and homes are full of people who do this regularly.
Be that as it may, it does not negate the fact that what we LIVE is actually showing the truth of what we believe - regardless of what our mouths may say.  And prime example of this is the person who says they are "pro-life" and then votes to support any bills or funding or whatever - that allows abortion.  There is a disconnect between the words and the actions, and we've all heard our parents tell us that actions speak much louder than words.
This is truth at its most basic level.  You live what you believe - your actions are truth more than your words.
I have often told my children a saying that I believe is valid: "Right is right, even if no one is doing it.  Wrong is wrong, even if EVERYONE is doing it."
We must live out our faith and our belief daily. This is how we are called to live in scripture. We are commanded to do what is right, live at peace (as much as it depends on us), love our neighbor better than ourselves.
In this season of Christmas, it is often easy to give or help others because our hearts are full of the "spirit" of Christmas - however, the real Spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus, our Lord.  He is with us all the time - not just in December.  He has called us to follow Him daily - not just when their are holly decorations.  We are to strive to live our talk - our claim to belong to Jesus - every day of the year.  When we are sick, when we are tired, when we are cranky, when the kids are cranky, when we are at the grocery store or the beach, when we are stressed out, when we are on vacation, when we are entertaining family/friends and when we are struggling - every moment, every breath belongs to the one who paid such an immeasurable price for us.  We are not our own, and we should live to show the world that we are thankful, joyful and overflowing with the love of the Savior.
I know there are days when I just plain don't feel like it, and those days when it seems easier.  God knows this about me, and He meets me where I am.  When I pray and tell Him that I'm sorry for blowing it again - He forgives.  When I ask Him to help me, give me strength, bite my tongue or loosen my tongue, give me courage, or even just put someone in my path that needs a smile - He does.
More and more often I pray that the Lord will show me some small way to be useful for His kingdom, for His purpose, and to bring glory only to Him.  That is why I'm here.  It isn't about me.  It's about living a life that reflects Him and shows His love and provides all praise and honor only for Him who is worthy.
This year I am feeling such joy and peace.  More than I ever have before during this time of year. I feel loved, valued and very blessed.  I pray that each person on the planet will find Jesus and feel His amazing gift of grace & mercy that brings forgiveness and peace.

December 17, 2009

New Study

This week I finished one devotional study titled How Do You Walk the Walk you Talk? and have begun another called Faith of our Fathers.  They are different style books, but I am sure God will use both to grow me according to His plan.
The first was a very practical, verse section study of Ephesians that addresses the obvious questions of how to live what we believe in a practical way.  What we ARE to do and what we are NOT to do as Christians.  It brought out a few things I hadn't considered before, but as I am seeking to live my faith in earnest and sincerity, it was very appropriate.  It was not a list of 'do this' - but more an outline of things we are to strive for in our walk day-to-day.  Challenging.
This new study is going to really stretch my brain.  Looking at the Nicene Creed and why it is important and foundational in Christian life.  I have only just finished the first chapter and questions, but am really seeing that this will be an excellent study for filling a need I've been feeling for more theology/doctrine.
I know that a lot of people shy away from discussing theology/doctrine because they feel that it causes division, but it is a necessary part of faith.  What you believe must be defined and that definition is your theology/doctrine.
I have been a Christian since I was a child, but have never really studying theology or doctrine in a specific and orderly way.  That is neglectful on my part and I'm am working to learn what I can as God allows the time and materials.  Doing my daily study time with the kids - which includes a devotional based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism - has been a step in that direction.  If I can learn along side the kids, it is a blessing for us all.  God is very gracious to want us to grow and learn - regardless of our age.  He meets us where we are... and I am thankful.

December 15, 2009

Busy time

I have been keeping busy.  Of course we have the normal life stuff of schooling, bible study, cooking, cleaning and laundry.
But we had our first snow-day last week on Wednesday that turned out to be such an amazing blessing to me.  All of us were home.  Steve worked from home and A's college classes were all canceled - so we were home together.
The younger kids worked for a while and then I released them to play with their big brother in the snow.  They all had so much fun!  The built a giant snowman in the yard and named him "Big Joe".  The three of them labored for a long while and though he didn't last long (it rained overnight after the snow), I did capture a photo.  If you were level with him - he was taller than our fence.  This photo was taken from up on the porch near the house.

While the kids were busy in the yard, I was busy sewing.  I had some, - okay, I have LOTS - of Christmas fabric in my stash.  So on a whim I decided to whip up some Christmas curtains for the dining room windows.  They are not fancy, but I think they are fun.

I've also managed to finish a quickie Christmas quilt that I started after Thanksgiving.  I had purchased a package of 30 different squares from Keepsake Quilting and just sashed them with a  lovely snowflake fabric.  It is backed in a soft red/green plaid fleece that makes it just right for snuggling on the couch with a book.  J is making good use of it so far.

 
We even managed to get the tree all decorated and are now ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior next week with family and friends. Now if I could just manage to get the Christmas cards mailed out this week....


December 8, 2009

Awesome Christmas Song

I heard this song for the first time last year and this year was thrilled to find a CD from the group who released it "Downhere".  The song is called How Many Kings and I find it really makes a great point if you listen carefully to the words.
This isn't the greatest clip - but it was all I could find at the moment. I hope it blesses someone.

December 5, 2009

Puella, Filia, Femina

I think it was very appropriate that our Latin lesson this week should include the words for "girl, daughter, woman".  Yesterday was J's 12th birthday!  She is moving from a girl to a woman, though she will forever remain a daughter. :-)
She had a marvelous day.  By planning ahead - and showing a level of maturity and work ethic which made her mother proud - she had only a Latin lesson and piano practice to do for school work on Friday. We had our normal home school swim time at the Y and she and B with their friend N & K, had the pool all to themselves for an hour.  It was very nice.
After a quick lunch at our newly opened Burger King - not something we do very often anymore - we did a quick errand and then on to her Keepers at Home class-time with her friends for more Christmas Card creativity.  We brought brownies to share and they all had a grand time.  She has decided she really enjoys this rubber stamping and heat embossing and would like to start acquiring some of her own supplies.  She has made some beautiful cards to share with family and friends for Christmas this year.

For dinner she chose CJ's (formerly Cactus Jack's) in Manchester.  We have not been eating out as much as we have in the past, so it made it a special treat to be able to go out to celebrate her birthday.  She opened gifts before the meal and a woman from the table next to us offered to take a family photo - not terribly flattering - but it's unusual for us ALL to be in a photo together.

Her favorite gift was her most meaningful one.  Steve & I bought her a purity ring to wear.  She helped to choose it after our 'girl's weekend' away -  significant because she had made some important decisions about how she wants to live in obedience to Christ.  It is very lovely and she is so proud and happy to wear it.


It was a marvelous day.  I am a blessed femina with my darling filia who brings me great joy!

December 1, 2009

December!

December 1st!  Woohoo!  I have a love/not-quite-like relationship with the month of December as I've gotten older.  I love it - it's Christmastime!  I love it - my daughter has a birthday in just a few days! Not-quite-like... shopping! Wrapping! Cleaning! Planning!
Well... it isn't that I don't like to shop generally - well, ok, I don't really like it that much.   The really hard part for me is that I am one of those people who really wants the gift to be special, personal, have meaning, etc.  I am not one of those that can just buy a gift card and be good.  Add to it that my Mom's birthday is Christmas Day, and my daughter has her birthday just 3 weeks before Christmas.  Makes for lots of shopping that requires major thought and planning - and at this point in the year, I don't always have the brain cell firing for that much creativity.  But I am trying!
I am also trying to "get Christmas feeling" flowing in my heart.  I am listening to Christmas music on XM radio, I am sewing on a Christmas quilt, Steve and I began hanging outdoor lights over the weekend, and I am working up to the big "drag out all the decorations and put up the tree" day.
One big difference that has become more noticeable is that we are working to focus more on the true meaning of this special time.  That God gave the world the ultimate gift - Jesus - to die for our sins and save us for eternity.  God is definitely no slouch in the meaningful gift department!  Daily now I find myself looking at things, even the small things, as gifts from above.  Gifts I don't deserve, though that is part of the definition of a gift anyway, but gifts for which I am thankful.
How often does something small happen and we just pass it by without offering a prayer of thanksgiving.  You found a good parking spot.  The store had just one more gallon of the kind of milk you prefer to buy.  The doctor's office had an opening the same day you called - at a time that was convenient!  You found part of your school curriculum for next year - for a song.  A friend you haven't heard from in a while sent an email.  You heard a message preached that touched you.  Your children cleaned the kitchen without being asked. (Yes - that happened here yesterday!) 
All these are reasons to praise God for his bountiful blessings.  Each breath I draw is a gift.  Each day I have to do laundry, go grocery shopping, sweep up the dog hair.... all are blessings in disguise.  We have clothes to wear, I have a washer/dryer that work and we can pay the bills to keep everything running, we have food to eat and can afford to buy more,  we have two crazy dogs that we love, that keep us company and love us.  I suppose it's all about perspective.
Back to my "not-quite-like" list... if I change my perspective.... hmmm.... I have a home to clean, I have people I love to share Christmas with and a chance to bring them joy, we have the means for some gift giving, I have a brain to use!  See!  Blessings!
Thank you Lord.

November 25, 2009

Many Reasons to Give Thanks

Psalm 69:30 I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

There are so many reasons for me to give thanks... when I attempt to count my blessings, I invariably lose myself in the warmth of God's great love for me and my family.
I have an amazing family.  Yes, I know I am a bit biased on the subject, and we are not perfect by any means, but I think they are all pretty terrific. 
My parents are supportive and loving.  Doting grandparents who would try to move the stars for the kids if there was a need.  They have given me a great example of a loving marriage and caring parenting to carry forward.
My husband... well... it's hard to know where to begin when talking about Steve.  He is one of the smartest men I know, he makes me laugh, is a great Dad and loving, caring husband.  He has been gifted by God with discernment that can be disconcerting at times, but is always direct and kind.  He is firm in his beliefs without reservation or apology.  He is a fantastic role model and teacher.  Strong athletically and intellectually.  He even likes my cat! :-)
My children... I have three at home now.  
A is our oldest boy, in his first year of college classes locally.  As many young men his age, he has his amazing heights of maturity and then those days where...well... we will just say "those days".  He is kind, helpful, strong and driven when his interest is piqued. I know that God has great plans for his life and we are all waiting on the Lord to reveal those plans.
J is our beautiful daughter on the brink of young-woman-hood.  She is smart, funny and loving.  She loves to read, loves animals and at the moment even loves math (crazy baby is enjoying learning Algebra!). God has also given her the gift of music through playing the piano.  J is very helpful and is learning where God has gifted her for service to others.  Her passions run deep, her heart is soft, her convictions very strong.  There is not a part of her that is swayed easily to change if she cannot be shown that the Lord requires such change.  Now she is embarking on the journey of becoming a godly young woman who seeks to please God and find His purpose for her life.
B is my baby... though he really doesn't like it when I call him that anymore.  He is a decade from baby-hood now and won't let Mom forget.  He is my warrior knight.  Willing to slay dragons and bad guys, as long as they don't masquerade as a spider in the bathroom.  He is working diligently to memorize scripture and hide God's word in his heart.  B has inherited his Daddy's logical mind and is often astonishing in his abilities in those areas that require that particular talent.  He also loves to read and his battlefield tactics in the computer animated world of historical warfare are stunning.  Athletic endevours are a growing interest and he has exhibited some natural talent there, though it is secondary to his God given musical gift with the piano. 

This has turned into a post of just my family - I love them all so dearly and could talk about them forever. They are the beginning of my song of Thanksgiving to the Lord as each is a gift and a blessing from above in my life.  My prayer is always that I remember to thank the Lord for every good thing in my life, and even for those things that are not so good at the moment, but that I know ultimately will be used for His glory.


Happy Thanksgiving!

November 20, 2009

A Weekend Away

Today I am taking J and we are going away for the weekend.  We will have some special mother-daughter time at a nice resort up north.
Her birthday is next Friday - my baby girl will be 12!  ACK!  How did time pass so quickly!?
Seems I can remember holding her as a newborn and marveling at how beautiful she was and being so thankful that God had blessed Steve & I with such an amazing gift.  *sniff*  Now she has grown into a smart & beautiful young lady - growing in God's grace.  I am very proud of her.
I have gotten some wonderful God-honoring materials to go through with her this weekend - for the "big talk".  I also had gotten a special Mother-Daughter bible study book Raising Maidens of Virtue to use with her and we will start that on Sunday morning before we come home. It is from the wonderful people at Vision Forum - they have SUCH great stuff!  I have a very large number of things marked in their new catalog for my 'wish list'.
Steve and the boys will man the fort at home.  B has his 2nd indoor soccer game this weekend and I think they may even get to help a family member move on Sunday.  Sounds like 'guy stuff' to me. :-)

November 11, 2009

A Journey

Life is a journey and education is a big part of that journey. At least these statements are true for me. I am only 6 months from turning 40, a milestone in my head, but not a big deal really. The journey continues and gets more interesting as each day passes.
I love to read and have since I was a child. At one point I read a lot of fiction, now the fiction is less and is sprinkled among the reading I do relating to home schooling or study relating to my faith in Christ. This past year I have been doing a tremendous amount of reading in an attempt to be better equipped in my role as a Christian wife, mother, and teacher for my children. It is an awesome responsibility, one I take seriously and strive to do well.
Proverbs 12:4 says; A wife of noble character is her husband's crown,but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.  Pretty heavy if you take it seriously.  I've always known there was much in scripture that directs a woman on her role as wife/mother, but this year I have been working to study these passages and apply them more diligently in my life.  It has been a journey - a difficult one some days, but generally it has all been very positive and I feel like I am working to glorify the Lord in all I do - which is, of course, my ultimate goal.
Being a good wife isn't something you "do" on any given day, but more of a lifestyle & mindset.  I've read a lot of articles written by Nancy Wilson this year and found them very helpful and encouraging.  Her blog is http://femina.reformedblogs.com/ and you can link to some of her books - excellent reading!
Elizabeth George has a great Bible study & book called A Woman After God's Own Heart that I had gone through with a dear friend several years ago and at the time - found a lot of guilt.  Today I can say that my heart wasn't where it should have been at the time I read it and that was the reason for the guilt.  Guilt doesn't come from God.  Conviction of sin comes though the Holy Spirit, but that conviction should lead to repentance and forgiveness.  I'm sure when I go through that study again, it will be a completely different experience.
My heart now is focused on the high calling of being Steve's wife and the mother (and teacher) of our children.  Our culture doesn't generally see these things as particularly noble or worthwhile and that is so sad. Women who would otherwise joyfully embrace these roles are ridiculed and marginalized.  It is my hope that someday God will be able to use me somehow to encourage other women in their roles as wives and mothers - becoming what is known in Christian circles as a Titus 2 Woman.  One who mentors younger women in following biblical principles in their homes.
Something important I learned recently is that there is a big difference between "principles" and "methods".  Christian principles are the things we are given in the Bible from the Lord and we are to apply in our lives.  The methods by which we apply these things can vary widely and one method is not more "holy" than another.  It is important when we are seeking to encourage others, that we don't present our methods as principles.  Scripture is Scripture and everything else is interpretation and application and edification.

In addition to learning more about how to better carry out my roles, I have also been doing a lot of reading about education - mostly theory/style/method type reading.  I have become increasingly drawn to the Classical Method espoused in the Well-Trained Mind.
Home schooling allows us to find things that work best for our children and their individual learning styles.  It also allows us to fine-tune what we believe are the truly important parts of education and focus on those things.  Every education has gaps or holes - regardless of the methods used or location of instruction.  The key difference with home education is who makes the decisions about the gaps.  As parents, we have the freedom to decide what & how our children learn.  Will they learn Latin & Greek roots or simply study the standard spelling list for a given grade?  Will they read great literature whole or simply excerpts from that literature in a textbook? Will they use primary sources for studying history or only a synthesized version of events written from one point of view?  Should they move along with a subject at their own pace or are they required to follow some rigid time-table for progress because of an arbitrary standard?
What does it mean to be truly 'educated'?  This question is vital as it drives all the other questions.  A person's individual definition of 'education' even changes as you learn more, read more and experience more life.  I am not nearly as educated as I would like to be.  This does not necessarily mean I must attend a class someplace or that I must read some specific list of books.  It means to me that God is not finished with me yet.
There is so much in His world that I have yet to absorb.  I just pray that I can filter it appropriately and learn the lessons that I need to live according to His will for my life. That I can stay on the path He has marked for me - since He is perfect and I am not, I would be foolish to pretend to have a better plan that the one He has for me.

November 5, 2009

A new favorite

Steve sent me a link to this song a while back and I instantly loved it. Now the album is released and I can't wait to get it for our collection. God has certainly blessed His servants with the ability to touch hearts.

November 4, 2009

Testing some photo stuff

Trying to figure out some new photo stuff... testing it out with pictures of our pets.




This flattened pile of fur is Grace - our very spoiled cat. This is her preferred position, next would be eating, meowing at one of us and then 'making bread' on someone's chest.



This is Molly - our 'cranky old lady' - she is an equally spoiled pet. Coonhound mix, 9 years old, also in her preferred position. 2/3rds of our pets like to sleep more than anything.


This is Piper - our newest addition. She is an enormous yellow lab (between 90-100lbs) and pictured here waiting for someone to pick up her favorite ball where she has dropped it off the deck. She is HIGHLY motivated by a red kong ball - it is her favorite thing.


This is Piper in her 2nd favorite activity. Yes, that is a stainless steel dog bowl in her mouth. She LOVES to chase the bowl in the snow - because the ball gets lost underneath while the bowl will slide along the top and is easy to find. It also makes a highly annoying clang-clang-clang sound on the deck as she bangs it around repeatedly.


November 2, 2009

Learning Something New

I learned something new! This morning I learned how to download free templates for my blog! I also learned how to tweak them to make them work for my purposes. How exciting!
Ok... maybe not for anyone but me...but that is alright because it's my blog.

October 26, 2009

Husband of the year

This weekend I had a serious bout of exhaustion hit me like a ton of bricks. My very loving husband told me to rest and he would handle our very busy Saturday life. He did more than manage - the man was amazing!
On Saturday both of the kids had soccer games and B was supposed to bring snack for his team. I had planned to make chocolate chip cookies for him to share. So much for that plan. I told Steve to just go buy some at the store... but he thought of a better idea.

He and the kids baked home-made chocolate chip cookies from scratch! Listening to him with them in the kitchen was a hoot - they were so funny trying to decipher my recipe, find ingredients, and run the mixer. They did an awesome job! The cookies were a huge hit with not just B's team, but J's as well.
He also took care of making sure they cleaned up the kitchen, everyone was fed, and even entertained my parents when they came for a short visit.
Truly a man among men is my beloved. :-)
I have often said that I am a very spoiled wife and this just is one more proof.
Steve is not always a very vocal person or even terribly demonstrative about a lot of things, but he always makes me feel very loved. I think it is the simple things in life that show the true measure of devotion a person has for another. We have been married for more than 13 years now and each day I truly know how he cares for me. He thinks of our family above everything. He always makes me feel that my contributions here at home and with schooling the kids are valuable to him. He trusts me more than anyone I have ever known. These are things that can't be measured by anyone else, but I can feel the weight and depth of his love. I believe God sent him into my life at a time when I needed him most and together we have grown a love, a family and a life together that will endure as long as God gives us days here together.
How is that for a mushy Monday blog post? :-)

October 21, 2009

Shopping Trip

Today is Wednesday and my parents came up to visit this afternoon. My Dad is on vacation and has been enjoying the time off. He loves any excuse to come up to see us and we are so blessed to have a great relationship with my folks.
Dad stayed here at the house with the kids and dogs and Mom & I ventured out to do a bit of shopping. I was specifically looking for pants & a shirt for B for church - he has outgrown so much this year - and I needed a belt for me. We went down to Kohl's and had great success. I even managed to find another bath towel for our master bathroom (way on sale) in the color to match exactly what we have already.
B got 2 new pairs of dress pants (blue & black) and I found a gorgeous dark green, fine-wale corduroy, button down shirt for him. Mom got him a nice blue/green/black plaid button down. Everything fits him perfectly and I don't even need to hem the pants - he really has grown a lot this year!
Mom bought me 3 new tops - 2 beautiful crushed neck turtle neck shirts (one in a pumpkin color and the other gray) and a simply stunning muted coffee colored sweater with little pearlized buttons at the lower arm. She spoils me and I appreciate it very much. We are trying hard to not spend any extra money and it was a nice treat to get some new things for the fall/winter. She said it was payment for dog-sitting, but I know it's just that she loves me. :-)
J didn't suffer today either as we managed to find her an LLBean fleece lined hoodie that she has been wanting for months now at the outlet store. It fits her nicely and is so pretty in chocolate brown.
I also managed to find a punched leather belt for myself. I really needed it and it made me happy to find a nice one. At the beginning off August I started seriously praying the God would help me with the motivation and drive to get serious about exercising and eating better. He really is so faithful! My goal was to lose 20lbs by Christmas and to date I have managed to shed 13 pounds. I am so thrilled with how I feel. I am eating better and exercising pretty regularly. I've been dealing with a phantom hip injury, so have been just walking and cycling, no running - but that really isn't my thing anyway.
Steve has been very supportive and encouraging of my efforts, even setting up his bike trainer in the basement for me so I can ride when the weather is bad. He is so good to me, I am truly blessed to have him as my husband.
We had a good schooling morning and did our first Latin lesson today. The kids and I are all very excited about this opportunity to learn something new together.
It has been a very good day and I am very thankful that the Lord continues to smile on us.

October 18, 2009

A mostly pleasant ramble

We managed to get through our first cold of the season. Lots of rest and fluids are a good thing... and a few good books to read while curled up with a blanket help as well.
We finished up our first quarter though there are a few loose ends to tie up. I need to finish some grading work for J's literature program. She just finished reading Tom Sawyer and I need to go through the last of the comprehension questions with her. She is working through Lightning Literature & Composition (7) from Hewitt. I like it so far and she seems to be enjoying it. She had actually gone ahead and read most of the novels over the summer for fun, so I am anticipating that it will be a fairly smooth year in that area for her - we shall see.
I am very blessed in that both of the younger kids truly love to read, which makes most everything in life easier to learn. Truly a gift from God. They read across a pretty wide area of interests and share books between them to discuss, etc. Now J has started enjoying books that I have read and loved so we can discuss them also.
Tomorrow starts our official 2nd quarter - at least that is the plan - we shall see as Ben has developed a stomach virus. We are supposed to begin our study of Latin!
Last week was mildly productive in my creative endeavors. I managed to get the kids art projects framed and hung up on the wall just outside the kitchen. They add a splash of color I think.

I also managed to get a little bit of sewing in over the last few days. We've been dog sitting and it suddenly got colder than expected - we actually had SNOW on Oct. 16th here! So I made a dog coat for our guest. Also, J wanted a new hat for her soccer game on Sat. morning - so I whipped this up before the game for her.



Yesterday afternoon Steve invited me to join him with the dogs and take a nice mini-hike in our local nature preserve. It was a gorgeous fall day and the leaves were crunchy under foot. B didn't feel well and dragged along with us, but we didn't realize at that point that he was getting sick. The dogs enjoyed the ramble immensely - lots of things to sniff & smell out in the woods!

Today is Sunday and Steve will take J to church after he returns from his first run. He had wanted to do a long run today, but the weather may not cooperate. He will try to do 2 runs to get in his time/miles around church.

Our small furry house guest is supposed to go home today, which means getting back to normal - well, as normal as it gets around here. :0)

October 12, 2009

Sick Day

Well we have fallen to the first cold of the season here. Started over the weekend with J spiking a temperature on Sat morning. No soccer game for her. B was fine, so he played a good game at noon and then in the late afternoon he and I went to visit family while Dad played nurse-maid for J.

News from the extended family is not good financially and job wise. I spent a good deal of time offering prayers of thanksgiving this weekend for God's mercy on our family and protection of Steve's job this year. Soon he might be the only one among his brothers who is gainfully employed. So much for the dear leader and his 'stimulus' plan. HA! But that is another rant...

B fell to the cold on Sunday and spent all day in bed or on the couch. As of last night I have begun to share the love and the germs. I have a sore throat and this morning have declared today to be a 'sick day'

I rescheduled the kids piano lessons to later in the week. We are all planning to stay in pjs today, I'm doing laundry and we'll have a quiet day at home. Not a terribly exciting post... but some days, life is not terribly exciting. Actually, quiet days at home are my favorite - not when we are sick of course, but I love my home and like to be here.

Off to make a nice cup of cocoa for the kids and some tea for me.

October 9, 2009

TGIF

Like anyone else, there are some weeks when I am really glad it is finally Friday.
This week has not been especially hectic or overly taxing in any specific way, it just seems to have been a really LONG week.
We have gotten all of our scheduled work done for the week and even finished our first real art project from our new curriculum "Exploring Art Media".




These are our 'color combination samplers' The point of this project was to learn all the vocabulary of color combinations in art production from "monochromatic", "analogous' & "complimentary" to the more basic "Cool" & "Warm". We had to start with just a pencil outline that we created of anything we wanted to doodle and fill the entire page with shapes to be colored. Then we had to divide the paper into 7 sections and fill them in accordingly for each of the color combinations. It took us DAYS to finish it all, but we were all pretty impressed with the final results. Mostly we used the Prismacolor Scholar level colored pencils which were definitely worth spending the extra money for last year! They are just gorgeous colors and go down so nicely on the heavy drawing paper.

Today we also had the nice surprise of a shipment arriving by mail. It was the package containing our Latina Christiana Level 1 curriculum. Yes, we are going to make the plunge and begin to study Latin. Jess and I are really looking forward to it and Ben is slowly warming to the idea.
I have been mulling the idea of Latin for a while now. I've read a bit off and on about the educational theory of "Classical Education" and while it's a bit late to jump completely on that band wagon, there are parts of it that I'd really like to incorporate with the kids. Most recently I've been seeing/hearing/reading more about how the study of Latin impacts children as they learn other languages and the benefits of it as related to standardized testing (such as the SAT and ACT). After praying about it for a while, I stumbled across a woman selling EXACTLY what I wanted (including the 2nd student book I'd need) for an amazing price. I emailed her and poof! We are looking at starting Latin! Woohoo! I had originally planned to wait until January, but we'll see if we can actually wait that long. Next week finishes our first quarter, so starting after that is not out of the question.
For right now, I have a bit more grading to finish up (we had lots of quizzes this week) and then I need to give one of the dogs a bath and think about starting dinner as well. We should be all home for dinner tonight - I love that part of our family life.

October 8, 2009

Explaining Granite Bridge

We have been formally home educating our children for a long while. We had dabbled with it when Alec was in the 2nd grade (keep in mind he is now in his first year of college!). But jumped in with both feet when Jess was ready to start formal schooling - (read when the town said she was ready for first grade at age 5 because we were dumb enough to ask them to test her)!
Anyway - this school year is our EIGHTH year of home schooling! Wow time flies!

Granite Bridge Academy is born:
Back quite a few years ago, I had the brilliant idea of officially naming our home school. I wanted to have a name to put on report cards, high school transcripts and diplomas when the time came. I also had seen it a few places on the web where people had smart or interesting names for their home schools to answer critics about whether home education could possibly be 'real' school. Now to be honest, a name doesn't mean much in the scope of anything. But I liked the idea nonetheless.

So I set about coming up with something clever, or so I thought. Lots of families just use their last name but that didn't curl my toes. There were several out there with a faith based theme, which I really liked, since we do this because we truly believe God wants us to do this. However I didn't have any inspiration around that type of name either. One day I was driving along and saw a sign someplace and it hit me! Not the sign, but a name. We live in NH, which is the "Granite State" and how do we get to the future except by traveling a path and often over a bridge when adversity (or a river) gets in our way. So thus... Granite Bridge Academy was born.
I felt so pleased with myself and my husband very lovingly gave me his standard "yes dear, whatever you like dear" when I shared my excitement about our school name. He even let me order an embosser with our new name on it. When it arrived I promptly and proudly embossed all the covers of every workbook the kids had for the year!
It hasn't really changed anything, but I like our school name. It feels right for our family. We are truly striving to give our children a rock solid foundation through their faith in Christ and our educational efforts with them.


When Alec applied to college, I liked having a school name at the top of his transcript. And when we gave him his diploma - it looked pretty snazzy there too.

October 5, 2009

Monday, Monday

The day started slowly here. Both of the kids slept in and our school day didn't really get rolling until about 9. One of the perks of being home schoolers. :-)
Once everyone had breakfast and brushed teeth, we settled into our spots in the living room to do our morning Bible time. This is new for us this year and we are all really enjoying our morning ritual. The kids do their individual devotions/quiet time in their bedrooms before breakfast most days, and then we have our time together.
I had purchased a beautiful set of books last year called Balancing the Sword and we're working our way through the New Testament this year with volume 1. The books are a massive series of questions based on scripture. We read a chapter aloud (as of this morning we were up to Luke 5) and then there are 4-7 questions, (mostly fill-in the blank type), that the kids answer. The theory here is that you can't really understand what the Bible means until you know what the Bible says. So we read, sharing our study notes from our Bibles as appropriate, talk about the passages, etc. and answer our questions. Then we move to our other new study book for this year Training Hearts, Teaching Minds which is a devotion type book based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
The kids both have memory work as part of another book series we are using from Keepers of the Faith, and so far this year have memorized all 66 books of the Bible in order (both Old & New Testaments) and are just about done with memorizing the original 10 Commandments passage from Deuteronomy. We work on these things before and after our reading time. I have been very pleased to see how seriously they are taking their study and seem to be enjoying it. We often get the chance to talk about the lessons from their individual devotion books as well.
Monday is our piano lesson day - both kids have been taking lessons for a few years now - so we were busy getting things done before it was time to head off to lessons. During their lesson hour, we finished up the English grammar lessons and I got to do my walking time (40 minutes today!).
After we got home, we finished up with reading our history lesson on the Maya, tomorrow we will do the activity to go along with the lesson.

We are using Mystery of History Vol. 2 this year and really are learning a TON already. It covers the time period from the Early Church (Acts 2) up through the Middle Ages.
Last year we'd done MOH 1 which covered Creation to the Resurrection.
I really love this history curriculum as it shows all of world history at the same time as important Christian specific history (Bible events & the early church). We do a lot of reading, historical fiction of the same time periods as well as extra resource reading.

I like to say that by the time I get these 2 graduated, I will have the education I should have had the first time through! I really love home schooling! :-)

October 4, 2009

Sunday Morning Musings

Sunday is sometimes my favorite day.
Today is not a normal Sunday though. Steve had a team race this morning, so I am having my coffee alone at my desk and listening to the kids playing downstairs. We will all begin getting ready for church pretty soon, but for now it's a quiet time to let my thoughts ramble.
I've read some of the news, but it is generally annoying so I didn't bother to read very much. No sense in starting the Lord's Day stressed out by the stupidity of the world in general and our government in particular.
Church is at 10:30 this morning. We are members of Riverside Christian Church (http://www.riversidechristian.com/) here in town, and are generally very happy with our church life/family. It is non-denominational which basically means it is not affiliated with any specific religious denomination, the idea being a Christian church is as it was in Acts chapter 2. I love the fact that it is a friendly, welcoming place without a lot of the judgmental glances you would normally find in a church in New England.
For whatever reason, it has been assessed (and probably rightly so) that NE is spiritually 'dead' compared to lots of other places in the country. It is a sad commentary for the place that once had faith as a cornerstone of daily life. But we muddle on, doing our best to live out our faith each day as God provides opportunity.
In the last 6 months or so, God has been working on me a LOT in the area of my responsibility as a parent to raise my children according to the biblical mandate from Ephesians 6 to "... bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
The other passage that has been coming up repeatedly is Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. a]"> Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Given the culture around us, neither of these scriptures is an easy mandate to fulfill. We home school as part of what we feel God has laid on us as our responsibility. We try to live consistent lives in accordance to what we believe.
Christians are NOT perfect, but we are thankful for the grace and mercy of God that allows us to be certain of forgiveness. Living in New England, it isn't easy to be conservative and Christian. We are surrounded by liberal mindset and action - even our once conservative NH has fallen to social and fiscal liberalism. It is sad and could be depressing if we didn't have our faith. Knowing that nothing in life happens that has not been sifted through the fingers of God and will ultimately bring glory to Him in the end, gives us hope.

October 3, 2009

Day at Deerfield Fair

Yesterday we spend most of the day at the Deerfield Fair. It is an annual event in our family and we always have a great time.
Lots of eating of things that are not really good for you and lots of laughing with family and friends. Sounds like a great day to me!
After dealing with major traffic in the first 10 miles of the trip from home, the rest of the day seemed like a breeze! The weather was great - cool, partly sunny - and we met up with some family friends and enjoyed a lot of fun.
The kids love to see the animals and even got to see a newly born baby calf in the dairy barn.
They missed actually seeing the birth by about 30 minutes or so and Jess was disappointed - she thought it would have made a marvelous biology lesson. The rest of us were glad to have missed it.

Steve took this photo just after we arrived at the fair and met up with our friends.

I had a really terrific day and felt so very blessed to have been able to share the time with everyone.

October 1, 2009

October Beginnings

Well, here it is October 1st.
I find it truly amazing how time seems to accelerate as my children grow older. Though I suppose that means I am growing older as well, I don't really always FEEL that change in myself. It's easy to spot in my kids as they reach new milestones, learn new skills, get closer to being eye level with me and become more interesting people.
We are well into our 8th year of homeschooling now and I think this will be a good year. I have just 2 at home to school now, ages 10 and almost 12, we are working on 5th grade and 7th. The oldest has moved on to college - Wow... that makes me sound old!
Our methods have changed and grown over the years - we've come a long way since Kindergarten!We are not easy to pigeon-hole, I suppose most homeschoolers are not. Generally we find what works best for each child, is interesting, covers what we need/want for the year and dive into the learning. Sometimes we find after a while that we need to make adjustments - such as last year when we changed our English curriculum in January. It was a good change, we managed to complete the books in July and started fresh with the next ones this year.
Children grow quickly and their skill sets change. Their learning styles develop over time and sometimes what worked great with one child will flop for the next. Flexibility is important. Trusting yourself to know when to make a change - with God's guidance - is vital.
I consider myself one of the leading experts on my own children and believe that regardless of what small mistakes I make along the journey - God will use me to prepare these young people for the purposes He has for their lives. It is a high calling, an awesome responsibility. There are days when it terrifies me - I don't want to screw this up! But I have confidence that God is faithful and will provide exactly what we need to follow the path (or bridge) He has marked for us to travel.
I am thankful that I am not the one who is really in charge!

September 30, 2009

Jumping In

I've made the leap. This is the beginning of my blog. YIKES!
Ok...maybe it isn't so scary. We shall see.