12/30/13

A Weekend at the Hospital

It was Saturday morning. I had been rushing to finish up school, prepare for the three birthdays in December and shop for Christmas. We had a new stove being delivered and so Scott asked me to take our just turned 11 year old son to a karate tournament to help support his studio.
I am very happy that my children are learning Sho Shou Kung Fu, it takes care of P.E. and self defense requirements as well as being good therapy for my learning disabled child. However, I don't like fighting. When my brother would pull out the boxing gloves at a family get together and let the preteen boys go at it,  I was often the most vehement protester. I don't want my children to get hurt and I don't want someone else's child hurt at the hands of my child.
Flash back to Saturday morning, in order to help out my husband who was waiting for the stove I took my son, leaving behind loads of household chores for what I hoped was a short day at the tournament.

                               

When we got there and saw all the people I started to realize it would be a longer day than I realized. My son finally got his turn in the ring and was holding his own until his third fight. This child was clearly more advanced and several times took my son to the mat. During the third intense grapple when my son was determined not to go down, something went wrong. Suddenly my son was lying on the mat with his leg twisted crookedly over his other leg, moaning in pain. I ran to the mat and tried to comfort him as the medical personnel on site assessed him. As soon as they mentioned a break and that we would need an ambulance I called 911. At that point my emotions were a mixture of rage that my son had gotten hurt and grief that he was in such intense pain. It was his femur, a bone that, when broken results in pain that is said to be more intense than childbirth.
The paramedics arrived and turned my sons uniform into rags as they cut it off him to prepare for traction. All through these moments I was trying to be calming, hoping he wouldn't pass out from the pain. When they pulled his leg straight he initially cried out but then settled down as the pain eased. 

                                     

We then hurried off to the ambulance where we agonizingly bumped over country roads to the nearest hospital. The sweet nursed brought ice water and prayed for us, but the incompetent doctor pulled the traction off, letting my son's leg jolt painfully back into its crooked position. The ambulance drivers once again replaced the traction and we headed back into the ambulance to drive another hour to the nearest children's hospital. 

                                  

My son brightened up a bit when his karate coach showed up with a second place medal. I, on the other hand found it small consolation for the pain my son was going through, from the initial break, to the IM Nail surgery where a metal rod was inserted through the bone. Even the subsequent week at home was painful, a task as minor as getting off the couch to use the restroom was an excruciating ordeal.

                          

Although this was not the first medical emergency I had gone through with a child, it was certainly the worst. The whole experience has melded together in my head as a long string of misery.
However there were several moments where the hand of God was clearly seen, moments which gave me strength to keep moving forward.
The surprise of gentle, praying nurses. The coach who skillfully distracted my son during the third traction transition, the sweet friends who brought us dinner and filled our hospital room with prayers, and the sweet friends, family and neighbors who brought blessed distractions during our first days home.
The most surprising blessing was seeing my son respond so graciously to such an incredible trial. This precious boy has given me more than a few days of frustration, fighting me over math lessons or provoking fights with his two younger siblings. Having a few quiet days with him in the hospital and seeing him respond so sweetly to the misery he was going through gave me an enormous boost of love and respect for this child, and although this was a horrific experience for me, my trust in God has not wavered. He is our only hope, every good thing comes from Him,  and I know that all He does is good.

James 5:10-11 KJV
[10] Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. [11] Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

11/21/13

Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Unit Study




This is a very busy season for us and our history studies do not coincide with the landing of the Pilgrims in America. Even so, I love highlighting the reason why we celebrate Thanksgiving and the attitude of some of the original settlers of our country, so I set aside a day to focus on the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. 


Chilly Little Pilgrim Boys
                         


The first part of our day involved pretending our living room rug was the Mayflower while I read stories such as On The Mayflower by Kate Waters, with beautiful photographs by Russ Kendall. We also read N.C. Wyeth's Pilgrims, pausing when they got to Plymouth Harbor to interject Samuel Eaton's Day, also by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall. A few days prior we had read Sarah Morton's Day, so we had the Pilgrim's pretty well covered in picture book form. While on the rug-ship the children also composed letters or journal entries in the words of their Pilgrim counterparts.

The Captain
                     

The children enjoyed reading the Bible, singing a Psalm and acting out the eventful journey, especially dramatic events such as a storm. Once the Pilgrims had landed in our stories, we left the rug and did a few crafts.

Intent On His Project
I found some adorable handprint turkeys on Pinterest, and since this was our quick and easy version, we made our turkeys out of construction paper that we had in the house. Unfortunately we were out of yellow, so our feet are a little pale. The example below, was obviously done by our little girl, as seen by the heart embellishments. We added some words describing things we were thankful for to the feathers, and voila, it was an easy handprint-thankfulness turkey.




Since we were also reading about Squanto and the other Native Americans who the Pilgrims encountered we then moved onto making Indian feather headbands. I used the scraps from the turkey project for the feathers and the kids stapled and made their own designs. Ella also took some scrap paper to make a corn cob.

                               

After all the crafting fun and clean up we ate our pottage, which was leftover vegetable beef soup that I had made in the crock pot last night, and then rewarmed this morning with a cup of lentils added.



                                                    
Our celebrations were fun and easy, and when lunch was over, and the clean up done, I sent the children out to play Indians in the bright sunshine. It was a nice break for them from bookwork and a memorable reminder of the life experiences of some of the first settlers to our country.

11/19/13

Science Fun With Apologia Swimming Creatures

Tomorrow is our co-op day for science and this year we are studying Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day, written by Jeannie Fulbright and published by Apologia. Our group gets together once a month, and we also have several children who do experiments from General Science together, as well as a couple high school students who are working their way through Chemistry. Because we only meet once a month, we generally cram the elementary science reading and note booking into the two weeks before our meeting date. This leaves the other two weeks a month to spend time on the art history that we are currently studying.

I usually read the science chapter aloud while my 6 and 10 year olds work in their notebooks, and my 4 year old colors a picture from his sister's notebook. We have purchased the companion notebooks the last few years, and although they have lots of great activities, there are almost too many.  I often end up frustrated with all the blank pages, or pushing my young students to do more writing than is necessary. I haven't resolved this issue yet but one idea would be just to pull out the pages I want and put them in sheet protectors in a three ring binder. Certainly less overwhelming than forcing my students to complete every activity.


We have been using the Junior Notebook for my 6 year old and both she and her younger brother enjoy the lovely coloring pages. Today, we read about fishes, labeled the different types of fins on the pre- drawn fish in their notebook, and then planned out our experiments for tomorrow. We will also be making tiny clay sea creatures for our ocean boxes tomorrow which has been one of my children's favorite activities so far. This has been a fun and creative way of remembering all the different types of sea creatures.

In the last three years of doing Apologia's elementary science we have had lots of fun learning about science and expanding our science vocabulary. Jeannie has done a wonderful job of writing an engaging curriculum that is easy to use and yet does a thorough job of introducing children to the amazing world that God has created.

Linking up with Welcome Home Wednesdays

11/2/13

Busyness is the Enemy of Loveliness



I recently had an article published in Above Rubies  magazine which described three areas to work on to develop a lovely home environment. I described walking into our home and being greeted by lovely scents, shining windows and a refreshing beverage, and on a bad day merely having to shut the laundry room door to hide the stacks of dirty laundry.

The lovely shelf with toys for little ones.

This was a hard week for my ideals however. We had an out of town wedding over the weekend, several out of town guests over the last few weeks, and the usual round of school, ballet, karate, Awana and music lessons.  By Wednesday night when my posh aunt who inspired my renewed commitment to clean windows was set to arrive, the loveliness meter was a little low. 
You see, if I have a choice between a lovely house, or reading aloud to my children and doing projects with them, I will always choose the children. Usually it all balances out because we can quickly jump in together and polish the windows, put away the clean laundry and wipe the bathrooms. 

By Wednesday night, the main living areas were still living up to the ideal, but the laundry stack in my bathroom had gotten to twice the height of the basket and my closet looked like a bomb had gone off. 
When we are constantly running out the door to a new activity, it is very hard to keep up with basic good habits. Tidy rooms, clean bathrooms, and organized drawers soon become a thing of the past.
This is one reason why I believe so strongly in a family vision. It is an important safeguard against being over committed. 

My bathroom vanity after running out the door too many times.

Sometimes, we cannot avoid busyness and so we must flex in some area. For me, this might mean quickly mopping the floors after the kids are in bed so that school and family time aren't interrupted. It also might mean letting my closet be less than ideal, and keeping the door tightly closed. Our surroundings need constant care, and teaching our children to care for their surroundings is an important way that we care for them. However, in a busy season, my priorities of time with God, family time and then housework remain fixed. There is nothing noble about a messy house, but if the messy house is a result of caring for sick children or helping with a family emergency, it may just be a necessary evil. 

A little tidier.

Now, off to tackle my closet and work on getting the laundry under control. How wonderful to have a full day at home!

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Linking up with






10/12/13

Children in Church

As I was sitting in church on a recent Sunday with a wiggly four year old on my lap, a snuggly six year old next to me and my other five offspring seated nearby I had a brief moment of wondering why I put myself through this extra work. Our last church was family integrated and there was no other option but to keep the children with us, so I was used to the parenting in the pew lifestyle. It was different in this new church. Keeping my kids in church when I am pretty much the only one doing it,  seems like an odd choice. There are sweet people in the nearby classrooms who would love to relieve me of my children for a few hours while I listen to the sermon.
As I listened to the sermon and monitored the children's wiggles I thought about the reasons why I continue to keep my kids with me.

Napping in church
1. It gives me another opportunity to see if they respect what I have to say, will they actually listen to me when I ask them to sit quietly or will they defy me?

2. It gives them an opportunity to see adults worshipping God, it seems like the kids who sit with their peers end up being less comfortable singing or even lifting up holy hands to the Lord, I don't want my children inhibited in this way.

3. It gives them an opportunity to grow in knowledge. Instead of a short 5 minute Bible story and then a
half hour of talking veggies, my children have the opportunity to hear whole chapters of the Bible read and explained.

Although I don't think it is erroneous for parents to put their children in class, especially homeschool parents who are theoretically spending plenty of time parenting their own children, it was good for me to reiterate to myself why I was going through the extra effort of teaching these children to sit still in big church when it might be an easier option to send them to class. Amazingly, at the end of today's service, my four year old, who seemed to be quite distracted during the service, turned to me and said, "I love God". Can you imagine what the big people sermon was about? The love of God.

Church, it is not just for adults.




10/5/13

Baking Day with Preschoolers

I have been homeschooling and parenting for long years now and have read stacks of books on creating an ideal learning environment. Through my years of studying I have collected a cupboard full of lovely learning resources for my younger students. Wooden puzzles, objects for sorting, lacing shapes and pattern puzzles are all options which my young children can choose to occupy themselves with during school time. Even with all these activities available, my preschool son has had a difficult time settling himself down to creative work lately.  I came to the realization that maybe what he wanted was something real to do. The puzzles and worksheets are fun but sometimes what our kids want is real work. I was finally reminded of that and so we pulled out the wheat grinder and got down to business.

I                       


Between carefully measuring grain into the jar and cleaning up the spilled flour the youngsters were kept busy and happy for quite some time. Even though the work was not directly educational, they were developing their fine and large motor skills as they worked along with me making sourdough bread.

                                    

The flour ended up all over the floor, a small price to pay for such happy and busy children. The littlest spent many minutes cleaning up without a single request from me.

                                     


While my little guy was cleaning up the spilled flour his older sister was conducting dish duty.

With great concentration she scrubbed each dish, and although a few of them were quietly placed in the dishwasher or re-rinsed when she was out of sight, her diligent efforts and self confidence as she contributed to the family chores were a joy to see.


                                       



 As the dishes were washed and the floor cleaned my machine whirred along mixing up a nice batch of sourdough bread. We later enjoyed a delicious, warm roll slathered in melted butter as a reward for our labors. For the children though, the best reward was the joy they felt in being a helping part of the life of the home. Small children thrive on meaningful work in a joyful environment. Although it is always easy to provide the work, the patient and joyful attitude is what makes the learning fun.

                                    

9/17/13

The 2013/2014 Curriculum Plan

I love seeing what other moms are using for curriculum. I can get into a rut of using what we have on hand or have always used. If it is working, it is not worth changing, but it is nice to know what is out there so I can evaluate whether I have the best fit for each child.

I don't have individual Bible for each child this year. My husband has assigned Bible readings for each day and we copy the verse that stands out to us. We also spend the first hour of our school day in worship and Bible reading. We are finishing Long Story Short which we have loved, reading the daily passages and looking for the next Bible curriculum. My second daughter is also in a Kay Arthur study group on the book of Revelation.

I also haven't listed reading selections. The older three are voracious readers, and with the next 3 I am assigning special books that they have not yet read. I usually assign books that go along with the history curriculum for the year but since this year is a special focus on art history, we are changing that routine a bit by just filling in some of the books that are important to us.

This year's plan for our family,

4 yr old (boy)

Explode The Code- Get Set for The Code

Handwriting Without Tears, Letters and Numbers For Me

Little Giant Steps-a wonderful multi sensory math program for preschool

Lots of good picture books, and listening in on our Bible, science and art studies.

SWR phonogram flash cards

Playing with puzzles, coloring, play dough and other fine motor skill activities

Swimming, going to the park, and other large motor skill activities

Calendar time, crafts and Bible verse memorization


6 yr old  (girl)

Math U See Beta

Explode The Code 41/2

Spelling Power Book A-freebie busywork for days I don't get to spelling

Handwriting Without Tears, Cursive Success

Reading-Rod and Staff Readers only, BJU Heritage Studies 1

Apologia Elementary Science- Swimming Creatures with Jr Notebook

How Great Thou Art-Barry Stebbing

Drawing With Children-Mona Brookes

Mommy It's a Renoir

English For The Thoughtful Child

Spell To Write and Read

10 yr old (boy)

Teaching Textbooks Grade 6 Math

Daily Grams, Grade 6 (We started with Rod and Staff Grammar Grade 5 but it was not working with him)

IEW Writing, Finishing All Things Fun and Fascinating and then picking another book by them.

Handwriting Without Tears, Can Do Cursive

SWR Spelling

Apologia Elementary Science, Swimming Creatures

How Great Thou Art

Abeka World History

Various Literature Selections, He just finished Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis and will start Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson next.


13 yr old (boy)

Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1

Rod and Staff Grammar (gr. 6)

IEW writing

Apologia General Science

Understanding the Times (Worldview's)

Latin's Not So Tough

15 yr old (boy)

This year he is taking three classes at a local Jr. College. He goes twice a week with an older sister who is graduated.

Algebra 1 (Jr. College)

Elementary Music Theory (Jr. College)

Political Science, Constitution (Jr. College)

Apologia Chemistry (home)

Bob Jones Spanish 2 (home)




18 yr old (girl)

For our second daughter who has learning difficulties we chose to use a charter school this year. She just turned 18 (today) and we wanted to get the testing done and possible diagnosis before she graduates. We have done lots of private testing and therapy but wanted her to have the opportunity to go on to college or get work with the adaptations she may need. There is a lot of pressure in the charter to pass the high school exit exam, because of this, the charter has added lots of work. We are in line for private tutoring and testing for special needs so when that comes through it may prove to have been worth the hassle.

Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1

Holt Grammar 6 (charter, 12th grade grammar)

Holt Literature

ELA workbook (for exit exam)

Math workbook (for exit exam)

Abeka Health


The oldest children go to martial arts twice a week which helps with covering physical education. The 6 year old does ballet, I wanted her to learn to be graceful before she learned how to gouge someones eye out.

We also have the oldest 6 children in piano, voice or guitar lessons. However, I am terrible about enforcing music practice so our progress, until they start practicing on their own is slow.  Thankfully, several of them want to learn, and take the time to practice.

I am sure I have forgotten something, I was up till midnight making a birthday banner, baking a paleo pumpkin breakfast cake, consulting with my daughter on her anthropology homework and washing my husband's jeans. Life with little ones and college students is very busy, but very fun and fulfilling.

Happy Homeschooling!

9/3/13

An Extra Busy School Day

This is the beginning of a completely different school year for us. I have 6 students this year and to my great joy, after nearly a year of being mostly gone with work and Bible School, my oldest daughter is home to go to college as well. Today was a really big day for all my students. My 19 and 15 year old offspring left at 6:15 am for their first day of college. Meanwhile my second daughter was at her volunteer job this morning while I did school with the youngest four. In between reading aloud, checking school work and cajoling the four year old to pick up the Duplos he had scattered throughout the school area, I made a batch of paleo pumpkin bread and tidied the house for our upcoming visit from my daughter's educational specialist.

For our second daughter I am using a charter school this year, which is a big leap in a different direction for me. I have consistently resisted government oversight in my schoolroom. I don't want to burden my kids with tests when they could be designing amazing projects or immersing themselves in quality literature, but with my second daughter nearly 18 and nearly out of school, I decided it was finally time to seek a label for her learning difficulties, mainly so she could get some extra help if she chooses to go to college.
Busy Students

We spent an hour with the E.S., going over forms and talking about the tests, yes, tests that my lovely girl would have to pass to get a diploma, while the younger four quietly played with Lego's. We then rushed out the door to speech therapy where we sat for an hour reading books and playing games until big sister was done. After a quick stop at Trader Joe's we hurried to relieve a friend of her children for a special night out and then home to get the lowdown on the older students' first day at school. I perused the stacks of assignments my children would be required to hand in this month, put away the groceries and then headed to the park with a combined total of 6 children under 12.

The Baby

It was a day that highlighted lots of changes. The biggest change is the realization that my older children are not going to be quite as available to work on family projects and help with little ones while they are busy working to finish their education. These older ones have been a big help, and for a few years now I have had built in babysitters for doctor's appointments, quick shopping trips and even the occasional pedicure. Having to adjust back to an earlier time when I only had young children and had to take them on every appointment and errand I was doing is a good way of also realizing that I need to develop some better sitting skills in the young ones.  Raising children who can both manage a home and handle a challenging class is a manageable feat, but it may have to happen in separate seasons.

8/22/13

Getting the Schoolroom Ready

Time to organize!
This summer while I was busy canning peach jam and taking a mission trip to Mexico, or even just swimming with the kids, the schoolroom slowly got more and more disorganized. We had the son of a friend staying with us, so our schoolroom became his bedroom, and we quickly got through our Bible in the morning and then in the evening when I might have reshelved the books and sorted the papers, he was in there on his air bed trying to get some rest after a long day at work.

School was waiting to be started though, and so finally the weekend came when I got down to business at putting away last years accomplishments, making out the report cards and getting the school area ready for the new year. I love having a variety of resources available for my children, but it can be difficult to keep it all contained. It is so important to have a good learning environment for kids, one that is both lovely and comprehensive in scope. Clearly, our schoolroom was not very lovely with all the books lying there waiting to be put in their places!

Our shelves are organized by subject, one for arts and crafts, another one for history resources, and another for science. I also have a shelf of teacher books and resources, not pretty I am sad to say, but necessary for homeschooling. I also like to have easy access for my children to markers, colored pencils and stick glue. In this way they can put together creative notebook pages, or quickly make a card without having to ask me for supplies which they have learned to use.

Teaching kids to put stuff where it goes never ends as you can see from the first photo. If you want an area to stay neat, and it really should stay neat if you want to be able to focus in it, you have to constantly reinforce where things go, and make sure the place where stuff goes is easy to access.

a bit tidier
 School at home can be so much fun, but one important aspect is taking the time to prepare your home to be a place where children can focus on their work, find supplies, and do the research they need to do to be well prepared young people. Organization isn't just about having a nice looking room, it is also teaching our children good mental sequencing skills and making our homes more functional places to learn.

hard at work

 Click here for a favorite blog and A view of a well organized school room.

7/22/13

Eight Great Resources for Parents of Special Needs Kids





A lending library, family directory and discussion board are just a few of many resources here for families with special kids

Home School Legal Defense Association has counsel at their web site for parents of special needs children

Sharon Hensley has 28 years of experience counseling home school families with special needs kids. Her ministry includes book sales, a private umbrella school and counseling.

Help with Learning Neuroeducational Consulting is dedicated to helping children and adults reach their full God given potential.
They provide testing and a home program of activities to help children with a variety of disabilities.

#5 Homeschooling The Challenging Child
This book by Christine Field is one of my favorites for home schooling special kids. Full of practical advice, checklists and resource lists.

#6 Too Wise To Be Mistaken, Too Good To Be Unkind
Cathy Steere writes a memoir about helping her autistic son. It includes a good resource list as well as an overview of the neurodevelopment approach.

#7 The Out of Sync Child
Carol Stock Kranowitz writes this wonderful book which includes many exercises to help children overcome sensory difficulties. It includes helpful checklists.

#8 Healing The New Childhood Epidemics 
Kenneth Bock’s fascinating book which links autism, asthma, ADHD and allergies to toxins that children are exposed to. I especially appreciated the information about the impact food allergies have on learning as well as the nutritional information.

7/16/13

A Big Botany Field Trip

We have used the Apologia Exploring Creation With Botany textbook with our science co-op over the past school year and learned so much about Kingdom Plantae (that's fancy for plants). 

Soaring Beauties


To cap off our amazing year of exploring the world of green growing things we took a field trip, and since one of the last chapters in the book is about gymnosperms, otherwise known as coniferophyta (see all the big words we learned from our Botany Textbook!) we decided to head to the mountains to find some trees.

It just so happens that we live within driving distance of not just any conifers, but of some of the oldest and tallest growing things on the planet, the Giant Sequoias. We loaded up our van with our friends, our nature journals, and our picnic lunch and started the trek to see these towering trees.



This particular park had a lovely boardwalk that meandered under these soaring beauties and we moms had a lovely stroll with our little ones while the older students hurried ahead to see what mysteries were around the next bend.
Under the Big Trees
It was a beautiful day, enjoying God's magnificent handiwork both in our surroundings, and in the company of good friends. A little time spent nature journaling and enjoying lunch under the trees was the grand finale to a wonderful year of botany.

Happy Hiker

6/14/13

A List Of Favorite Resources


We have read a few important books on homeschooling which have helped to develop our philosophy of education. We also have some favorite books and publishers that help us to reinforce our educational goals. Although we don't agree with every word in these books, and we hope you use your brain and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as you apply what you learn, they have been helpful to us.

Parent Education

A Charlotte Mason Companion

Homeschooling Methods

Loving The Little Years

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully-Ruth Beechick

Montessori From The Start and Montessori in the Classroom-Lillard, Jessen

Endangered Minds-Jane Healy

Teaching The Trivium

Shepherding a Child's Heart-Tripp

Managers of Their Homes-Maxwell

Families Where Grace is in Place

Underground History of American Education-John Taylor Gatto

Audio teaching by Norm Wakefield, S.M. Davis

No Greater Joy, Vol. 1-3, Michael and Debbie Pearl
Giving an oral presentation.

Curriculum

Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready-Oberlander

Handwriting Without Tears

Spell To Write and Read

Apologia Science

Mommy It's a Renoir

Mystery of History

Five in a Row

Math U See

Teaching Textbooks Math

Our schooling has encouraged a love for other countries and cultures.

6/8/13

Developing a Family Vision

Conference season has shifted into high gear and as I prepare to speak this year I can see that one of the recurring themes of my sessions is having a family vision that is written down.

Enjoying the fruit of our land.


With so many choices as homeschool families it is essential that you know what the driving values of your family are. Having written down a vision statement way back before the turn of this century, we have been able to resist the temptation to jump into every available activity and focus on the ones that work towards the fulfillment of our goals as a family.

One of our friends at NiƱos De Fe orphanage in Mexico.

 For us, that involves projects that promote simple living, time with family, and Isaiah 58 ministry.  Although some of our implementation has changed through the years, the core values have remained consistent and have been essential in keeping us focused, even when it meant missing out on the fun of following the vision of another family.
Simple family fun.

Although our overriding goal as a family is knowing God and reflecting Him to others, having specific ways to accomplish that and writing them down has been a big blessing to our family.

Below I have included a PDF of a document that we used to build vision as a family. If you would like some ideas on filling it out, feel free to comment and I will try to answer your questions.
image.png
Click here for a Family Vision Document

5/27/13

Swim Lessons for Little Ones

Having a backyard pool has been a huge blessing to our family. Aside from saving us money on summer outings and air conditioning, it has also added lots of good physical activity for my children.
Although my youngest son spent so much time in the pool last summer that at three, he was swimming across the pool, we still wanted to see him refine his budding skills this year.




We were fortunate to have a local connection who could give swimming lessons. She is a coach for the young swimmers on our local swim team and has been training as a swimmer for several years. She really knew how to pass her skills on to my young children without any pressure, they had fun and learned better skills at the same time.




Even my older children were excited about the lessons. She was able to give them some valuable tips for becoming faster, more efficient swimmers. This was a great five day stint of P.E. for our family, and since that class is not my strong point I really get excited when I can find valid things to write down for P.E. Weeding the garden, sadly, does not look that great on a high school transcript for Physical Education Class. Swimming in the family pool is one option that we have found to work well for our family at the present time.



4/29/13

Writing With Emotion

The different writing styles of boys and girls.


Today my children asked for one of their favorite writing projects, the story exchange. Basically to do a story exchange, each child starts a story and then after a certain time period we pass the story on to the person next to them. Each child then adds on to that story and so on until each child has added something to their sibling's story. 


This was my 6 year old daughter's first time to do this activity and she found it very distressing. She kept trying to add stories about happy princesses and little girls eating chocolate and then her brothers would take their turn on her story and add trolls and orks and goat headed men who discover that the pretty princess was actually Medusa. Needless to say, what has been a favorite writing activity was not well received by my sweet little girl.  She ended up sprawled across her bed with tears pouring from her eyes. 

Although I still think it is a good writing exercise, I may have to wait a few years, or break the groups into a boys group and a girls group. The boys want to write about adventure and excitement, while we ladies would rather write sweet stories with happy endings.  This is just one more example of how differently boys and girls learn when given the opportunity to express their God given design.

Adventure loving son.
Distressed princess.

4/26/13

Family Vacation with a Purpose

For over 12 years now we have been combining family vacations with family mission trips. When I was pregnant with our 4th, we took a week to go to Mexico and help some missionaries there and our life was forever changed. Since that trip, we have made an effort to be either living in or visiting Mexico for mission work.


some of my guys


 About 8 years ago, we moved to Mexico and lived there for nearly 4 years, helping an orphanage and doing building projects to help local churches and friends. Now when we go on our biannual trips to Mexico, instead of feeling like a mission trip, it is more like an exciting vacation to see our friends.

We recently made the big drive down, making sure to stop at one of the beautiful 
 Southern California beaches on our way down.
the beach!
As we drove through the border into Mexico our 12 passenger van was flagged and we were given a semi thorough search. At one time, being pulled over to try and maneuver the laws of  Mexico might have made us nervous, but now it is just an expected annoyance.


After crossing the border we made the long trip down a dirt road to the home we lived in during our last few years there. We were warmly greeted by our friends who are living there now, a family who lives off the grid with very little in the way of modern conveniences, such as water and electricity.
The view from the east road, over the hill is the ocean.


Our time in Mexico is always busy. Visiting the orphanage and trying to remember the names of all the children, feeling sad about the ones who have left and trying to meet the new little ones, is always a highlight of our time in Mexico. 
some of our friends at the orphanage

Our other favorite part is seeing dear friends and trying to communicate with them in our fading Spanish. We have been so blessed by our times in Mexico. Something that seemed so frightening back when we first started going down is now like a visit to see family. There are some inconveniences to be sure (we stay off the grid and not at the Marriott), but we are blessed to have the privilege of being in relationship with Christians south of the border.
Visiting with friends over Pollo Asada