Science Can Be Fun

For the last two years I have been a part of a science co-op for my homeschool students. We have dissected frogs, stargazed and pretended to be a pollinator while working our way through the Apologia Science textbooks.
Botany class. by Scottnjensfamily
Each month one of the four moms in our group has a turn to host and teach. Last week was my turn and we were on chapter five of the Apologia Botany book. There were not a lot of experiments in either the notebook or the textbook and the chapter was about fruit, so I decided that we would do a cooking show.
First we reviewed the information and had the students match fruit vocabulary words with the matching fruit. A pumpkin is a pepo, an almond is a drupe, an orange is a hesperidium and so on.
Then we moved on to the real fun. My ten year old picked out a recipe for Mango Salsa which he would prepare using our Blendtec blender. My twelve year old decided to do homemade cranberry sauce which he did Iron Chef style, mixing up the ingredients and then pulling the previously prepared batch out of the fridge to sample.

 Other members of our group prepared mini apple pies, cinnamon apples and an artfully designed fruit tray. Even my little six year old took a turn, with a glassful of home squeezed lemonade which she demonstrated with her adorable face just clearing the top of the counter.
It was a fun day, the best part was gathering around with the happy children sampling their delicious dishes.


Homeschool History Fun

We have had many opportunities through the years to get together with other families for special project days. I realized early on that one of my limitations was getting science experiments, art projects and other hands on work done. It seemed that by the time I got through the reading, writing and arithmetic, not to mention laundry, gardening and home care for my growing family, there was little time left to dissect a cow's eye or create a 3d model of the pyramids.

Enter homeschool co-ops. Since I also rarely had an expansive homeschool budget and really wanted to stay independent from government resources, I usually pulled together a group of moms who I enjoyed being around and we would meet one day a month to do all those projects we had wanted to do but never got around to.

This year I have two fun groups to meet with. One group is all about science. Our family, along with a few other families are meeting to do an Apologia elementary science book. This year's choice is botany and it has been an easy and fun group. Each month a different mom hosts and plans the projects. Simple and fun.

I am also meeting with a couple other moms and their kids for history. When our family lived in El Dorado County we had a little more formal group. We met before the school year started and mapped out projects and categories for the whole year. This year as we study the Middle Ages each of the moms brings one food item from the time period and one project (art, game, notebook, geography).

Ezra's Illuminated Manuscript
The topic for this month was King Arthur. He is not my favorite character, too much magic and immorality in the story, but the activities were sure fun. One family made a delicious kettle of wassail, I brough some yummy gingerbread and another family brought a beef and barley stew. The children made salt dough maps of Great Britain, learned about Illuminated manuscript writing and made a notebook page on the class structure of the Middle Ages.

The other thing I love about our group learning days is the opportunity to do oral reports. This is an important skill in life and business and I want my kids to have the chance to practice speaking in front of people. Add the fact that one of my children struggles with a serious communication difficulty and having a kind crowd to listen is very helpful.

Our group learning days fulfill so many needs in our homeschool, I am thankful we have continued to find families who are willing to learn with us!


Naughty or Neglected?

My seventh child has been a dream baby. He laughs and giggles freely, he has only drawn on the walls a few times and at 3 years old will sit on my lap and listen to me read several story books at a time. Granted, my perception is partly tainted because there is not a younger child to coo over, so things that may have bothered me if he was not the youngest, just don't. Things like his whining at me this morning to draw him an electric eel while I was trying to do Bible time, or getting off his chair when he is supposed to be eating his dinner.


There was a day this week though that didn't go so well. I had to leave early in the morning and was gone for most of the day. My son was also a little sick with a cold and I am sure it affected how happy he felt.

Later that afternoon I was astonished by his behavior. He was pulling down the folded clothes his sister was working on and pulling out the hair of his older brother. Jumpy, obnoxious and irritating were words that could be used to describe this normally very nice little guy.

It made me reflect a bit on some of the other 3 and 4 year olds I know. How much of our children's behavior is personality and how much is a response to their environment? Reading books like Montessori From The Start and the Bible have made me very motivated to keep our home environment calm, but we certainly don't succeed all the time. Still, could it be possible that those children of ours who act up could possibly be looking for attention or some hugs (sensory input) or guidance.

I do realize that some children have special needs that go beyond attention and hugs. I have a child who, when small, could melt down over an itchy tag in her shirt so I am not suggesting that badly behaving children are always the result of parental inattention. Just putting the idea out there that some of these adorable little three year olds are getting a bad rap, when what they are really looking for is a mom who will sit down with them for a few minutes (and make them sit down) and tell them a story or better yet, listen to their stories. Something that, on this particular day, I had failed to do.


Loving The Little Years

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I had seen the book, "Loving The Little Years" by Rachel Jankovic on book lists but hesitated to purchase it for two reasons; reason number one is that I am terribly in love with the little years and realizing sadly that the little ones grow really fast, I haven't wanted to make myself feel more sad about that fact. The other reason is that even though I love the little years, I also realize that my life is much different now than it was when I first joined MOMYS, with 5 young children. Although partly that means that I have much more help with household work, and I can actually take a shower without having to take an infant in the bathroom with me, it has come to also mean that I almost don't qualify for needing encouragement in parenting a bunch of tiny tots.

I did buy it though because there is someone in my life who most certainly does qualify for being in the midst of the "Little Years". That person is my sainted sister Jody. Due to a set of painful and yet God gifted circumstances, her family has been blessed with three small children all around the age of 2. She has trekked down to see me a few times with one of her older children and the three toddlers, and what an adventure she is having! Three adorable little faces to wash, diapers to change and six chubby legs to chase after. And chase we did, because with that many little ones, chances are they are not all going in the same direction.

Rachel Jankovic is a woman who is writing to this situation while right in the midst of the excitement. Her own crew includes twins, an infant and nary an adolescent. Pure little. She is still in the years of sleepless nights and showers which are a luxury of quiet. I wish I had seen her book when I was a young mother. It contains very good advice on parenting a large brood, simple things like not becoming angry over childish mistakes, just because there are so many at once. Finding a balance between being orderly and letting those little ones into the kitchen to help, realizing that their efforts aren't supposed to be perfect, they just need the chance to try. Our little ones are precious gifts and I appreciated Rachel's encouragement to me, my sainted sister, and all moms out there to savor the gift of parenting these little people.


A New School Year

I have spent many hours today preparing paperwork for the private cover school that we use instead of filing our own private school affidavit. Part of this paperwork is a Course of Study for each student.

My oldest student who has struggled with a learning and communication disorder will be in 11th grade (I graduated my first in 2011).  She does have an interest in college though, so I am careful to follow the advice of American Christian Academy to have her subjects line up with state requirements for high school graduates.
As you can see, we are very budget minded in our curriculum choices.

Bible-Studying God's Word, Christian Liberty Press (from a friend)
Math- Pre-Algebra, Teaching Textbooks (borrowed from my sister)
English- American Literature, Abeka Book (I got these from a friend or a used book sale)
English Composition- Institute for Excellence in Writing, Fairy Tales, Myths and Fables. (purchased, composition and math are my daughter's biggest struggles, but I.E.W. has helped a lot.)
History- U.S. History, Carson, A Basic History of the United States (from a friend)
Science- Biology (Apologia, purchased at a used book sale)
P.E.- Running, Pilates
Music- Piano
Electives-Fine Art (beginner drawing at 4H
                Sewing (4H also)

Second student, 10th grade is doing all of the same curriculum as my 11th grader except that he is in Teaching Textbooks Algebra , Bob Jones Spanish 2,IEW Bible Based Writing Lessons, and Martial Arts for P.E. Also, for him, no sewing but he does have a drawing class at 4H.

7th Grade Boy

Bible- Long Story Short, A devotion which I purchased and do with all the children for morning Bible. I love this devotional. He is also copying the book of Proverbs.
Math- Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra. I am doing it with students 1 and 3 so that when they get to Algebra I can actually help them!
English Grammar- Rod and Staff 5
Writing- All Things Fun and Fascinating, (purchased from IEW).
Science-Botany (Apologia, from a friend)
Keyboarding-Mavis Beacon
History- America Land I Love (Abeka Book, used book sale)
Latin- Latin's Not So Tough (borrowed from my sister) I would usually do Spanish instead of Latin because of our ministry in Mexico but this child is interested in a career in science so it makes sense to me to give him some Latin.
P.E. Martial Arts

5th Grade Boy

Pretty much the same as the 7th grade boy except that after re-reading The Trivium Pursuit's information about math and realizing that he is after all, only 9, I am letting him finish Teaching Textbooks Math 5 which he started last year. I am also doing Story of the World Volume 4 with the younger three, and he will supplement with some time-period reading.  My readers don't need to be asked to read, the 9 year old is reading The Lord of the Rings, so although I try to make a book list of books I want them to read, I am not worried about them reading enough.
We will do co-op activities for both our science and history to make those studies more interesting for the children, and to get science experiments done. I find it easier to do projects when I am doing it with another family.

1st Grade Girl

Her history and science are the same as the 7th and 5th graders, tailored to her level.
Math- Miquon, I like Math U See better, but Miquon is cheaper so we did that this year. We do a lot of counting as part of our day.
English- Spell to Write and Read, owned it for years
               Explode the Code, book 1 and 2 (purchased new)
               Classically Cursive- book 1 (purchased new)
               Bob Books, owned for years
My favorite thing I am doing with her this year is reading The Little House on the Prairie series aloud. It has been a happy memory to read these to my children every few years.
She and her younger brother also play dress up and listen to stories, play with play dough and paint. I believe very strongly in young children having enough time to develop their imagination and learn motor skills, subjects not well served with work books.

So far, school is going well, using the I.E.W. writing curriculum and Teaching Textbooks have made a big difference for us.


Thomas Keller on Chores

Emelie took this in Europe, a land of classical beauty.

I have been reading "The Soul of a Chef" by Michael Ruhlman, a book which profiles three prominent chefs and their restaurants. As I was reading about Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame, I was struck by his description of what had driven him to such high standards in both his cooking and his restaurant. He says, "What makes a person strive to do his very best, some innate motivating gene? I don't know....in hindsight, I was very lucky to have been raised by my mother in such an ideal way as to allow me to understand the details of things. A lot of it is based on having to do certain chores around the house. You clean the bathroom, which was my job. There was a way to do it. Everything had to shine. Everything had to be just perfect. Her definition of perfect. Which became my definition of perfect. To this day no matter what I do, it's kind of based on cleaning the bathroom."
He smiled, then laughed and said, "That's kinda funny," and laughed some more.
He goes on to explain some more, "You don't create good habits all of a sudden. They were created somewhere in the beginning."
A meal in France.
This was very meaningful to me, because as a mom, although I have emphasized good basic habits I have often in the name of love, or perhaps personal laziness, allowed my children to slide by in their chores. I want them to feel loved and appreciated, but by not teaching them the proper way to do things and then reinforcing it by inspection, I give them a sense that good enough is okay.

There are many aspects that make a fine human being, and some perfectionists can become difficult to live with, but it is important to find a balance. Offer love and appreciation to your children for their efforts, but also make the effort to teach them to do a job properly and develop good habits. You never know, the bathroom cleaning lessons, may just be the seeds that produce a great chef, brilliant inventor or innovative engineer. Keep on teaching mama, it matters more than you know.
Ella polishing the faucet.

 A link to a bathroom cleaning tutorial by the queen of perfectionism.


Multi-Tasking Subjects

My favorite part of homeschooling is when I gather my children in our comfy school area and do Bible time which is followed by any other teaching on my list for the day. I read to the children, do math drills and spelling tests all from the comfort of a recliner with my coffee close at hand.

One way I pack a little extra learning in is by assigning the children with some copy work or art while I am reading aloud. I have recently started reading Little House in the Big Woods, which the older children have all heard, but the younger ones have been eagerly anticipating. Even Ezra who is 3 sat enthralled as I read about the panther chasing Grandpa's horse in the first few chapters of Big Woods. As I was reading I also gave the children another page to complete in "I Can Do All Things," the art curriculum by Barry Stebbing which we are working through this summer. Some of these art lessons are a bit simplistic for my older children, but it is a nice opportunity for them to mindlessly draw and color while I am reading. The finished products also make great presentation sheets for a thank you note or get well letter.

Homeschooling does involve some tedium. Getting busy boys to sit and concentrate on math lessons or to redo copy work so that it is actually legible can be a drag. However, I can think of few things that are more enjoyable than sitting in a quiet room reading, while surrounded by busy artists who I have had the privilege to nurture from their conception.


Sir Ken Robinson on Education

“We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it's an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”
Ken Robinson

I read this quote in a recent issue of the Costco Connection. The whole article was quite inspiring for this homeschool mom because most of the things he had to say about an educational system that could work, sound so much like what is possible in homeschooling. He talks about personalizing education to the needs of the student, personalizing assessment to how the child learns individually, really every point he made describes what is done in two million homes across America through homeschooling.

As I gear up for a new school year, it is encouraging to know that not only am I following what I believe is best for my children from a Biblical perspective, much research also points to homeschooling as a superior educational system.


Memorizing History

I just spoke at Valley Home Educator's conference on a homeschool history program that is classical, memorable and fun. One of the aspects of history studies that I spoke about is memorization.
I have to admit, most of the memorization we have done has been Bible verses and the occasional poetry selections.
My sister's children have stacks of flash cards that they have worked on memorizing for their Classical Conversations studies, but this has never been my modus operandi.
We have mostly focused on lots of reading aloud, daily Bible, and because we live on property we throw in a good dose of nature study/weeding. You would be surprised at how many interesting creatures you can find when spending a significant amount of time weeding the garden!

weeds among the flowers

A few ways we have squeezed in some memorization has been through songs. Although Neurodevelopmentalists warn against memorizing important facts that need to be recalled frequently to music (think how automatic it is to start singing the "ABC" song in your head when you are trying to figure out which letter comes after Q)we have learned a few facts this way.
singing through the States
My children participated in a patriotic concert this spring that was full of facts that they may not need to recall often, but were fun to learn. They sang their way through the 50 states and all the Presidents, and entertained many moms and dads. I think the highlight for them though was eating up all the jelly beans at the end.


Why Criticize the Duggars?

I have been writing for Home Educating Family Magazine for several months now. I love the layout and the amazing contributors they feature. Authors such as John Piper, Rob Shearer and Karen Andreola are all contributors. It has been exciting to be a part of it.

I was disturbed though by the Audience Soapbox article which was printed in 2012 Issue 1. This column is an opportunity for people to express a viewpoint, so some of the articles have been controversial. This months column was focusing on the Duggars though, and although they may be different from the norm, to criticize a family who are in the throes of raising 19 children just seems unfair. As Christians I think we can examine each other's beliefs but I don't think we should personally attack each other.

Below is my response.
Re. Audience Soapbox 2012 issue 1
Dulce Chale, "They Smile But Do They Laugh"
I was very disturbed by the Audience Soapbox article, "They Smile But Do They Laugh." I picture Home Educating Family to be a magazine that encourages Homeschooling families, even though the encouragement may sometimes be that being imperfect is just a part of life. However, I felt pretty upset to see Dulce Chale gang up on a very prominent homeschool family in her article. The Duggar's get plenty of flack from the secular world for being a super sized family and for sheltering their children, but for a presumably homeschool author to criticise them for having kids who seem too happy is just ludicrous. As well, from a Christian perspective God does ask us to, "serve the Lord with gladness" (Psalm 100) and to "be self controlled" (1Peter 1:13). Although we certainly cannot be happy all the time, why criticise a family for doing their best to follow the the teachings of the Bible? My 14 year old son's comment on reading the article was that perhaps Ms. Chale is not a very happy person herself.
I imagine the author's real issue is with the three ministries that she cites the Duggars as followers of. If that is truly the case, why not give biblical reasons why their philosophy is wrong and give parents real tools for dealing with parenting issues from this other perspective? It seems that people who disagree with the undeniably horrific excesses that some people who follow their teachings have been guilty of, choose to pin those excesses on the fallen human teachers instead of the fallen human parents who implement the teachings. It is kind of like saying that knives kill people. It is not the knife that is guilty but the person wielding it.
Although the author may be able to find examples of families who were abusive in their implementation of these teachings, if a person is off balanced enough that they will abuse a child, they probably would have done it anyway. Perhaps without the teaching that accompanies, regarding never disciplining in anger(TTUAC p.43) and treating your children with respect (TTUAC p.26) the results might have been worse. Although I am not a groupie of the ministries she mentions, I have seen many families benefit from their teaching.
I do understand however, that we humans can tend to excess and because of that I appreciate books such as Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson which remind us as Christian parents to always be reminding our children that God offers forgiveness through Jesus Christ. I don't believe that God is glorified when we allow our children to wallow in every negative emotion that they feel, reading the story of Moses makes it pretty clear what an affront that is to God. On the other hand, we as parents need to be continually offering mercy to our children even as we carefully follow God in teaching them what His word says. If God's word tells us to love, adomonish and train our children it seems that we should do our best to obey. I think this is all that the Duggar's can be considered guilty of.


Cleaning The Boys Room

We try to establish good routines for home care around here. Things like making beds, putting away clothes and generally keeping rooms clean. However for a couple of my younger kids, keeping your room clean can involve stuffing everything in the closet until the day that I come in there, say something like, "What a pigpen, this is disgusting," and start yanking everything out of the closet (I will talk about kind words in a future post.)
This week we had one of those days. The floor had been kept tidy, but the boy's special bins kept getting fuller and fuller until the lid could not be kept on. Add to that the clothes stuffed into the corners of the closet and the shelf which was now containing an assortment of things which needed to be put away.

We decided to get rid of some of the Pla-mobile. The boys helped me sort it so that we didn't have so many peices from broken or lost sets. We also made up a box for the two youngest who had wanted to play with some but were seldom allowed in the boys room. Sorting the Pla mobile allowed for some room in the drawers for the boys special stuff which helped us get rid of the special boxes which were supposed to go under the bed, but usually were halfway out with the lids off, an especial eyesore.
Halfway through the cleaning process, we noticed an awful smell. Boys being boys, I thought one of them had created the smell. Well, one had, jut not in the way I had imagined. My budding scientist had found an intriguing looking birds egg which he had brought in and put in one of the drawers. Of course with everything smashed into the drawer, it had gotten smashed as well. Rotten egg smell added to unwashed sock smell, is a real eye burner, but we got the window open and a candle lit which cleared out the smell quickly.

During the whole process the boys were so excited. "This is awesome" and "You are the best mom" were a couple comments I heard. I made them work on it with me, as well as bringing in the two youngest to help sort toys and be close to me. Even in the midst of stinky chaos, I love being with my kids.
For more ideas on organizing kids rooms, click here


Historical History Studies

I finally found my old Homeschool Blogger blog which I started while we were missionaries in Mexico. As I prepare to speak at the Valley Home Educator Conference on teaching history it was fun to read about one of our history studies.
October 6, 2007 in Uncategorized by By The Sea | 2 comments (edit)

We are studying Early American History this year, and in my quest to save money on curriculum, I did not buy one for history.  I have to admit, I had quite a collection of materials from my 10 years of homeschooling, and I was helped by my sweet friend, Jennifer Steward .

I have so far been reading The Light And The Glory For Children,  A Child's Story of America, (borrowed from Kate ) and Calico Bush, a story of Colonial Maine.  It has been great to read aloud more, do oral and written narration and use my collection of coloring books for coloring pages.  I had been using Story of The World, which I liked, except felt we missed a view of God’s providence in history.  It is important to be discerning, one view of God’s will and work, might not match with another one, (could Jamestown really be called a Christian settlement?) but I don’t want to leave God out of history.

We are having fun, the children drew pictures of Indian homes, built a log cabin out of sticks, and we had a Mayflower day where we ate pea soup and crackers for lunch aboard our boat(the living room rug).

Teaching my children history is one of my favorite reasons to homeschool.


Video Games and Boys

I read this article recently from CNN News and was thankful that we have been able to minimize the role of video games in our family. I understand that for many young men, video games are just a fun outlet for energy, but with so much evidence pointing toward video games as a culprit in undermotivated boys, why even start allowing your boys to play them? In the home we are training the tastes of our children, and in doing so practicing the Dominion Mandate. There are so many interesting and creative things your young men can be doing, things that will develop further skills instead of eroding their energy and self esteem.
Here are a few examples of what my boys do to stay busy.
foosball at the orphanage

Work in the yard.
Draw cartoons
Play Legos
Play Plamobiles
Work with their Dad
Practice Karate
Build forts

Lego creation

oldest son

Pick and eat berries
Make wooden swords and fight with them
Ride bikes
Work for money
Plant a garden
Play on You Cam
Feed the goat
dissecting an owl pellet
Play soccer with orphans in Mexico
Go to the beach
Go to the river
Help a grandparent

Obviously the list can go on and on, but realize that for thousands of years boys grew up just fine without video games, it can still be done.


Summer Goals and Schedules

This summer has been pretty productive so far, we made a doll, hosted a baby shower and planted a big garden. I hoped that we could take it a little slower this summer, we are on a break from 4H and our Apologia science co-op, but there is still so much to do. I sat down this morning after our Bible time and made a list.

Finish preparing for Valley Home Educator conference (I am speaking on teaching history and homeschooling a large family)

Organize next year's school work

                                                                                    Organize school room (this has to be done often)
                                                                                    Finish How Great Thou Art  with the children

                                                                                    Paint the pantry
                                                                                   Go to the beach (again)

All this is in addition to the regular laundry, gardening and finishing up math from last year, but it is amazing how much you can accomplish when you take it day by day. Today so far we did Bible and art, I transplanted a butterfly bush, started home made spaghetti sauce (with onions from the garden) and hung a load of laundry.

However, since the three cups of coffee haven't yet kicked in, I think next on the to do list is take a nap with the three year old.

What are your summer plans?

Cute Ikea Room


Parenting Bucket List

first daughter with her cousins
My sister in law and I had our first babies about a month apart. Eighteen years later, she is the mother of 11, while I am blessed with a scant seven. The major reason for this is that she has more faith than me. You see, I have a bucket list of things that I imagine good moms do. Read the entire Little House on The Prairie series to each child. Sew each daughter a dress. Bake sugar cookies from scratch every holiday and decorate. Commemorate every history time period with a project. The list is really quite long, and now as I get older and the possibilities of having more children diminishes, these must do projects don't seem quite so important, and I wish I had packed in a few more babies and a few less projects.

However, the projects, and what they mean to the children, are still important enough that I was delighted last week when I made steps towards accomplishing another of my "small child" parenting goals. You see, I had always wanted to sew a cloth doll like the one Laura had in Little House on the Prairie. A cloth doll with button eyes which Laura treasured as her one toy.

Then, I became even more inspired when another of my creative sister in laws made matching muslin dolls for her daughters for Christmas. After finding a book on projects for children at the library, my second daughter and I cut out fabric and stitched together the body, legs and arms. The doll then got stuck in a drawer for months as we went through a home remodel. Finally we had a sewing day to help a friend sew a blanket for her expectant child and I took the opportunity to finish the doll. I had a picture from a recent Martha Stewart Living Magazine of folk artist, Jess Brown and her lovely dolls. Mine did not turn out quite like hers but nevertheless, Ella and I are delighted!


Summer Fun

Although I have my 180 days for the school year (about 5 more than the schools in my district do) we kind of just fell into summer break, rather than a big end of the year hurrah. My oldest daughter came home for a few weeks from the camp she works at and we took a break from school to clean up the yard for a baby shower.
 We found pretty pink Chinese lanterns at Michaels, strung pink beads on bracelets to play the, "Don't Say Baby" game, and served pink lemonade and a pink strawberries and cream cake. Yes, the guest of honor is having a girl.

After the baby shower excitement, and in part because a link from Ann Voskamp led me to a series of very organized homes (Beware, after viewing these tidy houses you will not feel comfy until you have organized something), I spent the next free day organizing a few kitchen cupboards. I think the real key is that I also instructed my children that here is where the salt goes and over there is where the vitamins belong. Instructing is so important. We cannot expect what we have not explained.

How did you start your summer holidays?


An Art Exhibit

Today for preschool we read Fancy Nancy Aspiring Artist by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser. My 5 year old daughter and I love reading Fancy Nancy. She is a bit of a drama queen like lots of girls but she is a super creative girl with super parents. This particular story is about her week of creating art with a big art show at the end of the week. It has samples of art by Degas and Monet, two of my favorite artists and each day Nancy creates art inspired by a famous artist.

For our preschool day we read the story and then put together our own art day. The girls and Ezra drew tulips, cut out shapes and pasted a butterfly collage a la Henri Matisse and then had a super time cleaning our display window and taping the pictures to the window.
I love how books can inspire such fun and creative projects with our children. There are few things more lovely than making the world more beautiful with your children.


Spring Blossoms

My husband gave me this poem today, I feel pretty blessed to be married to such an all around wonderful man. I hope you enjoy and feel inspired as you nurture longevity in marriage.

Love is like the summer tree,
full of fruit for all to see.

But oft when winds of fall do blow,
there's nothing on the tree to show
that it will bear the weight of snow.

But the trial of winter cold
gives life to what seems old

Then spring blossoms burst forth in show
though pale beside the love we know.

copyright 2012 Scott Pepito


Of Goals and Schedules

This past Saturday I went to a ladies brunch where Colleen Adams, a missionary wife in Northeastern Canada was speaking. She shared some very practical ideas about goal setting which has been timely as we continue to work on having an orderly home.

One of the most helpful things we have done to keep our home orderly is having some basic good habits that are constantly reinforced. Charlotte Mason said in her book, Home Education, "The more good habits we establish with our little ones, the less we will have to discipline and remediate."

This is so true, if it becomes automatic for our children to get up, make their beds, get dressed and brush their teeth, we will no longer have to take time to discipline them for things that should be a habit.

I am terrible at putting stars on charts and handing out incentives, but I have made simple lists of non-negotiable tasks for each child which makes it easy to redirect a child who I find playing when basic tasks are not completed. Each child's list includes self care, room care, chores and schoolwork so that presumably they can get through the important stuff before they are distracted by the Lego world they are building or the American Kestrel (a bird) which they just discovered sitting in the poplar tree by our fence.

Of course I do spend plenty of time redirecting, but at least now, I can save my brain the effort of thinking about which of the many tasks we have each day that this child should be doing and just say, "Check your list".