Tuesday, August 30, 2011

camping pics continued...

a few more that i passed by when proofing. i had sooo many to proof. over 500. that's a LOT of pics for two days!

upcoming posts: homeschool week rundown; another book review; and another book review; and more camping pics!

Monday, August 29, 2011

soccer girl...

a few camping trip pics....

off in her own little world....

love the character of this photograph....her profile,
strands of hair, beautiful face...

Ella with her cousin, Abigail, watching Abigail's dad in the kayak....

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It was a happy day...

To see my friend, Donna, a few weeks ago. So, so thankful the Lord fashioned that meet up.

Times have changed. Hearts have hurt. Dreams met. New longings created.

The Lord, however, is the same today, always, and forever. This phrase is not a cliche. It's true for me, even when the most difficult of days.

His Love is pure. Faithful. Neverending. Hallelujah- because I am certainly one who has to "end" her day....after tired moments with kids. Hectic household stuff. Unexpected life challenges. Medical issues. In all, He is all we need. I could not do what I do- as a homeschool mom, musician, wife, friend- without this knowledge. I fail soooo, so much. I get fatigued, so so quickly.

But my God- He is my rock! And I pray that for my friends and family....that they will let Him be as well.

Friday, August 26, 2011

First few days of homeschool...

and I have many days to go before I get into a groove, I think. It was much easier last year.

I know that already.

Second grade and Kindergarten. This year is first grade with a boy, haha, and third grade with a girl, whew. The first grader will have to adjust, with fidgeting and tears, the amount of writing I have submitted him too. It's first grade appropriate, and I know his limitations. However, I need to push him a bit. I need him to write a couple sentences on his own each day. Practice his penmanship. Try on his own to spell words..because I KNOW he can because I KNOW my little boy, Philip.

And Ella, we are pushing her thought processes this year. To not rely so much on me for getting her TO the answer (not THE answer, however). I see her struggling a little bit with this but I did push her a little bit already- i.e. in some vocabulary work. And math.

I just announced my kids' shortcomings- ha- but believe me when I say they are indeed bright children. I see Philip as a thinker of all sorts of things. And he REMEMBERS so many details. He catches on quickly. Very quickly!

Ella, she is artistic and sensitive, and can read with a passion. Yay! She is an encourager to Philip. She likes to be independent in many, or most, things. She's a good worker, most of the time, too. And creative. Love that.

So we started our school year Wednesday. Our third day was today. It was nice to have a short week. I threw out my schedule after day one.

I just KNEW that would happen.

I've never EVER been a schedule person. Well, I was trying it. And after one day, I knew, KNOW, it wouldn't work. My family changes things up a lot. I see each days as one that will bring us new ways to accomplish our daily goals. Realistically, my "schedule" would work maybe 9% of the time. Why go through so much work to make a schedule and keep it when the probability of it is quite low, I say!

Our family runs differently- we go to bed later. We co-sleep with the littlest still. We eat mostly chicken and fish. We don't buy pop/soda. We thrive on our time together at home. We think going to the park is going across the street to the school. We go to the other park to play in the creek. We don't have a Wii. :-)

And that's okay. We have so many things that make our family special and unique and thankful. And it works to build our family up and closer together. And if not having a schedule works to fulfill their education, so be it.

I am so thankful to homeschool. I enjoy it, and see my children thrive with this environment!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Colonel's Lady, a review

It's with a grateful heart I can present my review for Laura Frantz's newest work- The Colonel's Lady. I have a grateful heart because my desire to review this book for Revell was so great I had to work hard to get my blog up to par (meaning, I hadn't been posting very much and in order to review I had to be more of a regular blogger!). The day came when my blog was accepted, the book delivered, and my heart delighted.

In fact, I've read this book twice over.

Laura Frantz writes passionately and honestly, with real characters. She portrayed Roxy's life with such emotion and truth because it needed to be told that way. The colonel's life was treated no less. The character development is exceptional. I became invested in each of the characters. It was almost painful, but a good sort of painful. I dare not say too much for I do not want to provide any spoilers, but there was a twist that crushed my heart a bit. However, it fit the story so well, and was necessary, I believe, for filling the story with the grandness and realism it had.

I love to be completely drawn into a book like I was with The Colonel's Lady. I cried within the first several pages, actually. Roxy was already resilient from the very beginning of the book, and had to maintain this throughout- determined, yet always full of feminine charm that was real. She was balanced, and because she was, she helped the Colonel through his worst times. She was an attractive heroine to the reader because of her strength, and also because of her vulnerability. I think we could relate to her.

One of the things about Laura Frantz that I love is her word choice at certain times. In Courting Morrow Little, her previous novel, and still my all-time favorite, I noticed it for the first time. Telling you things at the right time, a different time, to make the story interesting, and to build the story piece by piece. In The Colonel's Lady, she's adept at this, and shows her skill at this craft. I thank God for her willingness to write because my heart and soul has truly been blessed beyond measure!

One other thing I must mention is the setting and all the details she writes into the story. It's flawless, and smooth. Purposeful. I did not have a difficult time creating an image of the fort, or of the characters. I loved how descriptions were made, and characters developed.

These thoughts are my own, and I was given a complimentary copy from Revell for this review.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

why "sweet peripety?"

I have a feeling a lot of people have never heard of the word "peripety." Seriously, I hadn't either until about two years ago! When I heard it, it struck me as a powerful word and it spoke to me on a very spiritual level. Beth Moore uses it in her "Esther" Bible Study to reveal parts of the story of Queen Esther in a very unique way.

The definition of peripety: a sudden and unexpected change of fortune or reverse of circumstances (especially in a literary work); "a peripeteia swiftly turns a routine sequence of events into a story worth telling."

My favorite part is this: a story worth telling. I think that we ALL have a story worth telling. Sometimes the key is understanding, perhaps, when the story seems more visible to us because it can be hard to visualize that as we live our own story. The mundane things of life. The ordinary. Those things can be disheartening if we think of them as a less than what they are. The ordinary can be beautiful. The everyday things the most important and vital to our living story! That's why I like this word- the meaning forces you to look at your life in a different angle. Look deeper into it, at the different events that have taken place. Maybe seeing a particular event as a highlight of your life, or one that has made you stronger as a person, amidst heartache.

I think of different times of my life where the Lord has spoken to me so clearly, and during this particular time of studying Esther, He had done just so. Thinking about how God brought Esther to a certain time, "as such time as this," was absolutely something God would do. He performed a miracle from a simple young girl, and saved His people from slaughter. I most certainly think that God is still the same TODAY and He fulfills His purposes in mighty ways! I felt God comforting me in my walk with Him, as I felt quite the novice as a homeschooler, a mom with young children. I felt God leading me in the quest in finding who I really am at this time of my life, in Him. I felt God's hand as He embraced my mistakes and insufficiency, and His love as he carried me despite them. What profound examples He gives us of His awesome ways of grace in His word! Esther, a simple maiden such as Mary, Bethlehem rather than Jerusalem, fishermen as disciples, the journey of Saul/Paul, David- the man after his own heart who committed adultery and murder, Rahab- a prostitute who delivered spies...the list goes on. Something happened with men and women to help them turn and trust the Lord. A dream, a meeting with Jesus himself, a decision, blindenss, a word from a trusted family member...

It is plain to see that God's journey for us is not the same. Isn't that exciting? He has special care for each one of us. Even when we see no light. Even when it's darkness that is our daily companion. God gets us out of that pit...perhaps not when we want Him too, but he WILL, and maybe not for a long time, but only a brief time, but again...he WILL get us out of that pit!

I chose these two words as a reminder to myself of God's eternal love and his power and grace. It's ALL. We. Need.

Without Him, our story will fall short. Extremely short. With Him, our story WILL be told, guaranteed. I find that thrilling. Special. It brightens my spirit knowing that God loves me for exactly who I am, and that makes me want to live for Him and get to know Him. For I will spend eternity with Him- and I want to go knowing about Him through His word, and through prayer.

If there is true peripeteia in your life, I hope you see it with new eyes, and searching eyes that search only for the Lord. If you don't see an event as such- that's not important. It's the depths of your soul that does- the soul during the mundane, even. During dry times of your life. During rich times of your spirit. A circumstance isn't the deciding force for your spiritual well being. You have that choice whether or not something dramatic is happening! In fact, I see God speaking to me when things are quiet! He's a whisper! To me, He's a still small voice. I know to others, He's a lion! A trumpet sounding! See- that's how understanding God is when it comes to His creation! He recognizes our individual and specific needs before we ask!

My hope and prayer is that the very act of searching for God in your life is something that comes natural to you. That it is a natural way to seek Him and to learn more about Him each day. Do I remember to do this daily? Certainly not, but it's sharing like this that is one way to help me to remember and to strive for that goal of seeking Him and His best for my life!

(totally random but the photograph above shows one of my favorite spots in our house- look at all those wonderful, vintage books!)

she inspires me

to be more than what i am.
to pray more for what she needs to be.
to trust God for what He needs me to be for her.
to have peace that i am for her what she needs me to be already.

i have so much to learn as a mom.
don't we all?
i'm thankful for loving, gracious children.
who aren't perfect and understand their mother isn't either.
we learn together.

we learn together how to be the best family of US for the Lord
it's a daily thing, you know?
we fall, we stumble...but we eventually take some steps forward.
hand in hand, heart with heart...

it's such a blessing to be a part of this family
that God called me to be a part of.
i hope and pray it's always a family
that my children wish to come back to
for whatever they need.

my husband and i are on a great journey of raising these kids...
it's a journey where we lose our patience and forget we have eternal peace in Him...
but it's also a journey where we learn the greatest lessons
we ever have learned and ever will know.

this journey. this journey of here and now.
parenthood, for one. follower of Christ, another.

may she look back at this adventure we are on with her, with loving, grateful thoughts...
stronger, braver, with God by her side. Amen.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Trail Guide to Learning!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, my goodness, I can't describe my excitement for using this, the core curriculum for our next year, starting in a couple weeks! Let me describe what it is. Geography Matters publishes this all-in-one curriculum for 3rd through 5th grade, with supplements available for higher middle school grades. In these two volumes, called Paths of Exploration, there are six units- Columbus, Jamestown, Pilgrim, Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, and the Oregon Trail. After this year, there are TWO more year long packages also, explaining more of our country's founding, etc. If this year goes well, if the curriculum works well with the way we operate our homeschool, if the kids like the lessons enough, we will continue on using the Trail Guide to Learning series.

So, for each of the six units there are 6 lessons split up into a week for each lesson. I do think six weeks for each unit is a little too long for studying ONE thing, although, it really isn't just studying all about Columbus or Jamestown, but the reading lasts that long about that certain subject. Here are a few reasons why this curriculum jumped out at me:

1. All In One: although it is all-in-one, and includes reading, writing, critical thinking, geography, history, art, science, and more, I don't think it is enough in certain areas- such as science. It could be enough for some families, but for us, no. Also, I enjoy so many other books and plans and ideas, I end up adding to this, but it is easy to add to and take away from.

2. The set up of lesson plans: simple, broken down well, appropriate for several grades.

3. The lesson plans themselves: wonderful thinking ideas are encouraged, a natural learning is implemented, and the sequence and rhythm are efficient

4. The series of subjects studied: I feel they are perfect for a third grader and a first grader, to learn together, or review, as in Ella's case.

5. It is loosely based around literature, and living books, which is important in my view of a well rounded education. Here is a VERY quick rough run-down on what we will work on from this particular unit:

The very first week of the first unit, Columbus, we will have begun reading at least two books, become reacquainted with the compass and globe as a review, take an imaginary trip, draw maps, create rug designs, work with a Venn Diagram, draw, and journal- and more! The second week, more map skills are studied, as well as oceans, and the art of labeling on maps, explorer investigation, and lots of sentence skills reviewed. In the third lesson, we study ships, more globe skills and definitions, cloud observation, and dictionary skills. The fourth lesson involves climate map exercises, comparing information, poetry reading, planet study, shading lesson, sun experiment, and antonyms. The fifth lesson, we continue on with some space study, with the sun and star observation, poetry writing, star map making, myths, animal studies, drawing and tracing. The next lesson introduces studies of the moon and and more explorers, and preparing for a presentation. At the end of each unit are enrichment activities, suggested videos or books, and games. A very full unit, indeed!

I think it very interesting that in the second half of this curriculum we will use the Boy Scout Handbook from the beginning of the 1900s! Also, the North American wildlife guide is a beautiful, packed book of information for your child to experience. I found myself constantly pulling the books out for this study. As we begin and go deeper into Paths of Exploration, I will be sure to check back here and relay our thoughts, for as it a newer package out there, it can be hard to get a feel for what it is like for your own family.