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


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!