Monday, April 25, 2011

1000 Gifts


38. My favorite color, green.
What? I can't imagine why would you have thought it was blue. : )

39. Our woods in the spring.

40. Rainy days.

41. New birth. Outside. For a family in our church. Through Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

42. My favorite Bible passage, 1 Peter 1: 3-9. Perfect for Easter!


43. Favorite Good Friday and Easter hymns.

44. Memories of singing Up from the Grave He Arose with the kids when they were little. They would start out crouched in little balls, slowly rise, then march around the room for the fast part.

45. The fellowship brunch our church has every year after the Easter morning service.

46. A husband who does a very good job of hiding Easter baskets.

47. Grace's face covered with chocolate bunny.


48. Heartwarming comments from my blog friends, especially from my last post. Love you!

49. The blog friend who is also an IRL friend and was my homeschool mentor. Happy Birthday, Melanie!

50. Blooming tulips that Marc and Grace planted last fall (see last post).

51. The smell of fresh-baked cinnamon bread, this time without the mess.

Friday, April 22, 2011

remembering and imagining


Spring is so busy that the days all seem to run together, so yesterday I was trying to remember the date and I realized it was the anniversary of the end of my mom's battle with brain cancer. I can't believe it's already been six years since she died, although it really is true that time heals. I still think of my mom every day, but it's more in an imagining kind of way.

She would have loved the ages the kids are at now. Mom loved hearing about all the activities, and she loved doing stuff with my kids. I'm reminded of that every day as I do dishes and see the little bunny she and Anna made out of shells, and I imagine what projects we'd have decorating our house.


A couple of nights ago when Grace got her costume for her upcoming ballet performance, I imagined how thrilled Mom would have been. I can imagine how proud she'd be hearing Ryne play the piano. Since all three kids love to draw, I can imagine how she'd spend hours drawing with them. Not necessarily teaching them, just having fun drawing together and comparing pictures. That's what she did with me when I was a kid.

I can imagine our frequent phone conversations. I'd tell how frustrating it is that my thirteen-year-old keeps taking things out of my bathroom, and I imagine her laughing and reminding me that I did the same thing to her, only I called it "borrowing."

I often imagine how Mom would have reacted to our decision to homeschool. My mom was an art teacher in public schools for many years, and toward the end of her career she grew increasingly frustrated with the public school system. She loved that Anna was going to a Christian school and frequently marveled at how much Anna was learning in Kindergarten and 1st grade. As a teacher she had seen some bad examples of homeschooling, so it is possible she would not have supported Marc and me in our decision to homeschool, but I think she would have eventually come around. My dad says she probably would have moved right in with us and taken over the art instruction and anything else I'd let her do. I can't count how many days I wish I had Mom here to help me in this journey.

The heart can heal in six years, but the memory can also fade. Grace was just a baby when Mom passed, so she doesn't remember her. Anna and Ryne have just a handful of memories. Even Mom's writing is fading from a picture she made for Anna's baby room that is now hanging in Grace's room.


And it's not just Mom I imagine. Yesterday was also the birthday of Marc's dad, who passed away just two weeks after my mom died. Every summer, I imagine him driving a boat on Tablerock Lake, pulling my kids behind in a tube. I imagine him at the table playing cards with us, the Cub's game playing in the background, except this time it's Anna beating us all. I imagine how proud he would have been to know that it's his alma mater that tops Anna's list of colleges she'd like to attend. I imagine Ryne or Grace telling Grandpa his mustache tickles.

Imagining what could have been is easier than imagining what is. So when I realized yesterday was April 21st the song "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe came to my mind. I may find comfort in the make-believe type imagining, but my true comfort is in Christ. I have hope in an eternal life that is beyond imagination.

(if you're in reader or email mode you might have to click here to see the video)

May you have a blessed Easter weekend, reflecting on His grace and mercy and looking forward to "an inheritance that can never, perish, spoil or fade -- kept in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Field Trip: One Room School

My poor mother-in-law has had to wait far too long for this post. She and a friend worked very hard to sew an outfit for Grace to wear on a field trip to a one room school, and I promised pictures. The trip actually took place on April 1, so I'm a little behind. Grace had been looking forward to this field trip since Christmas when we went with Grandma to pick out the fabric for her dress. Almost daily for three months she would ask me if it was almost time to visit the schoolhouse.

Ryne was less eager about the trip. He and Anna had been four years ago, so he kind of had that "been there, done that" attitude. When he developed a bad cold and fever a couple of nights before the event, I wondered if he wasn't secretly happy about missing the trip. So Ryne stayed home with Marc, while Grace and I went back in time to the year 1889.

The white schoolhouse, brick church, and cemetery are rich in history. The present two story school was built in 1879, but a smaller school was on the site even during the Civil War. Our schoolmarm told us that it was common for parades of soldiers to pass in front of the school, so the children would stand outside for sometimes up to an hour as the soldiers passed by. Even though in 1889 the school had grown to two stories (younger children were upstairs, older children downstairs), they currently have it set up as just one classroom on the main floor, using the upstairs for park rangers.
Our day began with the children playing outside until the schoolmarm rang the bell and had them line up outside the building. The morning was spent practicing the 3 R's, including oral reading from McGuffey Readers. A geography lesson was next, using a period map of the United States. All morning I was struck by how easy it was for the schoolmarm to juggle all these different children of different ages. How can it be so simple for her when I have trouble juggling two or three children at home? : )
The teacher also explained what classroom discipline was like back then. Because none of the students would volunteer, a mom modeled a dunce cap for us. In the picture below, the girl with the pink dress was demonstrating how some disobedient students would have been required to stand with their nose pressed in a circle drawn on the blackboard!
Then it was time for lunch and recess. Grace brought a lunch of cold fried chicken, biscuit, and an apple. Children filled their enamel or tin cups from the common water bucket. For recess they played games like Red Rover or Drop the Hankie (similar to Duck, Duck Goose). Some kids also played with wooden hoops and several girls just picked flowers.

The afternoon hours included touring the cemetery and church, singing songs, poetry recitation, and a spelling bee.
I'm so thankful for places like this that let you really experience history. I'm sure this will be something Grace remembers all her life.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Busy Times and Convention Finds

I think spring would be my favorite season if it weren't for the busyness that comes with it. We're surrounded with blooming trees, but there's hardly a moment to enjoy them.

Take yesterday for example:

5:00 a.m. Wake up and take care of last minute details.

7:15 a.m. Drop off glazed amaretto almond cheesecake for school auction at neighbors house and drive the morning carpool for school.

8:15 a.m. Arrive at homeschool convention. Spend too much money.

5:25 p.m. Leave homeschool convention.

5:45 p.m. Arrive at school spaghetti dinner and dessert auction just in time to serve my first volunteer shift.

6:45 p.m. Stew over the news that my cheesecake only earned the school $37. Was it worth sacrificing homeschooling on Thursday? Marc who has had my cheesecake many times kindly said he would have bid $100 for it. But this year we let the kids pool together their own money and decide together what they would bid on. They are now the proud owners of a pirate ship cake. Sorry, my pictures are terrible!


8:15 p.m. Ryne and I drive home in the van with the pirate ship and 82 olive oil bottles that had been used for centerpieces. The noise of the bottles clanging together was unbelievable. I've agreed to store these bottles until next year's dinner, so maybe before then I can find a way to soundproof them!

8:30 p.m. Home at last! Realize I haven't been to the bathroom since 5:00 a.m. (sorry, TMI).

9:00 p.m. Kids try out their pirate ship cake. I get scolded for saying it looks like there's a drunken sailor aboard. He must have fallen over on the drive home.


10:00 p.m. I crash harder than the drunken sailor.

And then I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to make lunch and pack for Anna's track meet today. I didn't attend the track meet because Grace is going to a birthday party, so after Marc and Anna left I went back to bed and slept another three hours. {Ahhhhhhhh}

I know I'm preaching to the choir. We're all this busy this time of the year. So let's change the subject and talk about what I bought at the convention yesterday. It will give you a little peak at our academic plans for next year.

My first stop was at one of my favorite vendors, Miller Pads & Papers. I bought a stack of these list pads for a dollar each. I found some similar pads last fall in the dollar section of Target and they have worked great for planning each child's day and pairing with our workboxes. Maybe I should blog about that sometime. I like the pads at Millers better though because they have more lines and are wider. I also bought a couple of small paint trays.


Next I stopped by the Rod & Staff booth to pick up the test and worksheet books for Ryne. It wasn't until later that I realized that we probably already have the tests and worksheets on our shelf because Anna never used them. I had bought all her curriculum for 6th grade before we decided to send her to away-school for 6th grade. Oh well, I guess we'll just save a set for Grace. Good thing it wasn't an expensive mistake.


Next, was a stop at the Institute for Excellence in Writing booth to pick up some writing lessons to go along with our history plans for next year. I traded quite a few emails about IEW with Dawn this year and hope these writing lessons work out as well for us as they have for her boys.


I also bought a couple of IEW's portable walls so the kids have easy access to all the writing models and word lists. Since we'll be using a history timeline next year, we will have limited bulletin board space, so these walls should work out perfect.


Here's the other side of the portable wall.


So far so good. Besides the small purchase at Millers I've made no impulse buys and have only bought things on my shopping list. But then I wandered into the Zeezok Publishing booth. They are best known for republishing the Opal Wheeler composer stories. We are scheduled to finish the series this school year, so next year I planned to take a break from composer studies and focus more on artist studies and actual art instruction. But those plans are all up in the air now that I discovered Zeezok has republished four new Opal Wheeler volumes! There are now two Tchaikovsky volumes, one for Wagner, and one for Paganini. Can you hear the pitter patter of my heart?


As we've been going through the Opal Wheeler series, I often thought I should create a composer timeline. But at the Rainbow Resource booth I found a composer timeline placemat that I will just pin up instead. Saves me a lot of work, but it was still another impulse buy.


The next item was on my shopping list and Rainbow had the best deal. Next year we're going to try to incorporate the Classical Conversations style of geography instruction (perhaps another future blog post), so I need some good maps for tracing. Uncle Josh's Outline Maps were highly recommended on The Well Trained Mind forums.


I did buy a few things for myself too. Last year I bought the first book of this family's modern day homesteading journey and loved it. The writing isn't always the highest quality, but the story is wonderful. So I planned to pick up the second book this year. I think I bought it at the Light of Faith Resources booth. If you're wondering why I'm reading homesteading books when I don't even have a garden, your guess is as good as mine! But I love reading books and blogs on this subject.


On the same shelving display as the Castleberry book was this catchy title. I know nothing about this book, but it's written by three siblings in a style that I think my kids might relate well to. I'll let you know if it was a worthwhile impulse buy.


One of the vendors was a local used book seller and I was excited to find a copy of one of my favorite books, The Heaven Tree Trilogy. I had previously read a copy from the library, and wanted to someday have a copy of my own. It's a great mom book to read before your study of the Middle Ages, so maybe I'll read it again summer 2012.


There were other purchases that didn't get photographed. I found a neat little field guide of the 115 most common birds in my state at the Rainbow booth. I also purchased all our Math U See products we'll need for next year. And a large portion of my budget went to renewing all the association memberships. We have four different memberships, which seems a little excessive, but each group serves a different purpose and has been beneficial. Oh, and I did go to a few presentations too. ; )

Have you been or are you planning on going to a homeschool convention this year? Do you have as much trouble as I do with impulse buying?