Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tidbits and Snippets for August 27th


The Home Atmosphere We Crave - Great reminders and encouragement here. (Raising Arrows)

Ashley Madison and Who You Are Online - "One of the great deceptions of the Internet is that it allows us to think there are two parts to us, the part who exists in real time and space, and the part who exists in cyberspace. But... who you really are will eventually find you out. God will not be mocked." (Challies.com)

I Survived Roe vs. Wade - "All of America needs to don sackcloth and ashes. Pray for these mothers; pray for these doctors; pray for every lover of death who clamors for “choice”; pray for every politician with blood-soaked hands; pray for every fornicating man and woman who risks bringing into existence a life that they are unwilling to nurture; for every married couple that wants to have their fun and career, regardless of the consequence to their souls when they reject the natural blessings of their union." (Get Along Home)

Rivalry and Unity: Getting Along With Siblings - "If you have siblings, you probably have rivalry." Why, yes. Yes. We do. (Raising Real Men)

Mama, This Is YOUR Homeschool - Five years in, I still find myself struggling against the beast of homeschool information overload. Good words here. (My Joy-Filled Life)

Dear readers, have a wonderful week!


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Prayer Request, Update


Dear readers, thank you so much to each of you who prayed for my husband's mother as she prepared for her mastectomy!

She came through like a champ. Despite her age and her other health challenges, my MIL left the hospital the following day looking like a million dollars and headed for home. They even stopped for lunch on the way out. What a woman!

The situation afterward was complicated when my husband's grandmother suddenly and unexpectedly took a turn for the worse, health-wise, going from "fine" to "not so good" to "really, really bad" over the course of 72 hours. She died this afternoon.

Due to the fact that my mother-in-law just got home from major surgery, she cannot travel back east for the funeral. This is a great grief for her. However, she has her daughter with her, and that is a big comfort.

We are also grateful for such a mercifully short and easy passing for my husband's grandmother, and we praise the Lord for her beautiful, faithful life. She was an amazing woman and was much loved and very much admired.

It's been quite a week. But we are praising the Lord for His faithfulness in all situations - in death as well as in life.

Thank you so much for your prayers, dear readers!

Tidbits and Snippets for August 15th


Encouragement for the Stressed-Out Bride, or, the Secret to Happy Wedding Planning - This material is just so, so, so good - even if you don't have wedding planning in your near (or far) future. (Like Mother, Like Daughter)

Our Family Deserves the Best of Us (Avoiding a Leftover-ish Generation) - "How and why did we lose sight of the importance of our own families? When did it become “oppressive” to pour out our best on them, but emancipating to pour it out on strangers?" (Generation Cedar)

The Sin of Bathsheba - This is probably the most direct and hardcore post I have ever seen on the topic of modesty. Regardless of differing perspectives, I think each of us can take something away from the author's honest words here. (Pilgrim Ministry)

Forgetfulness - Beautiful. (Ready to Be Offered)

Hoffman Academy - Piano lessons? Online? Free? Mmmm.... Yes, please! We are going to try this with our 9yo. (Hoffman Academy, hat tip to The Modest Mom)

Dear readers, have a wonderful week!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

How Our Homeschool Year Is Going!


Two weeks ago we completed the first third of our 2015-2016 school year. (And we're now five weeks away from the half-way point.) I thought it was time for a quick update!

What's Going Well

History - The history program that we're using is going really well. I promise to update on that soon.

Reading Aloud - We are managing to get 1-2 hours per day in, which is really up my alley. I believe that an awesome education can be found primarily in the hearing and reading of great literature, and it is my desire to get in as much as is humanly possible. My husband is helping the cause by reading to the children at night and listening to audiobooks with them.

Math - Our 9yo is something like a math whiz. I have no problems teaching math to this child. I think I'm going to be in for a rude surprise when I encounter a child who struggles with math (something I hear about often on homeschool forums), because this subject has been so blessedly easy (at least since we moved to Christian Light math!).

Memory work - This year we have started into full-scale memory work, and it is going so well. Children really do having amazing memories. The 9yo puts me to shame. Even the 3yo is picking up a lot of memory work just by listening in! We are memorizing Bible passages, poems, historical documents, and character trait definitions.

Character Work - We are using the free materials at Character First - character definitions and videos. These have been great for both the children and for me (I learn what I need to be teaching!).

Language Arts - While the 9yo isn't crazy about formal English, he's doing well. I don't think it will ever be his specialty, but that's okay! We are using Christian Light English. While it's very good, I'm not as crazy about it as I am their math (which rocks!). In other words, I'm content... but I'd also be open to change for next year. We'll see.


What's Not Going Well (Or Going at All!)

Piano Lessons - Yeah. Still haven't started those. It's both a matter of feet-dragging (I really am not crazy about doing this) and having NO EXTRA TIME.

Catechism - This one has really fallen off the map this year.

Science Experiments - Ditto.

Art Study - Ditto, possibly due to the resounding lack of interest in a certain 9yo. I hope to pick this up again soon.

Arts and Crafts - Never my strong point, and definitely not happening (much) this year. My efforts have really been poured into history and reading aloud, and the extras haven't been emphasized. However, we will be doing some arts and crafts projects with our history curriculum, and hopefully that should take care of this area. (Some mamas hire tutors to teach calculus. I would hire one to do arts and crafts.)

Field Trips - It's been pretty quiet this year with field trips, but our homeschool groups are about to start up for the year and our fall calendar is already filling up. I am in the middle of organizing a field trip for one of our groups!

Spring Cleaning - Spring cleaning was axed in favor of some reorganization projects, but my spatial skills being what they are, those projects are taking months rather than minutes. I think Spring Cleaning is just going to have to wait for next year.


Conclusions

* Homeschool decisions are never final. There are always things to investigate and questions to answer. Here are some of the questions I have begun to formulate regarding the 2016-2017 school year:
  • Is our language arts program working well? Or should I look around?
  • Which piano curriculum should I use?
  • Which science curriculum should we use next year?
  • Should we start Latin? Or Spanish? Or both? And at what grade level?
  • Extracurriculars - Which to pick? How to afford them? How to accomplish this without tearing our family into pieces?

* There is not time enough in any day to do everything that I would like to do. It's not possible. Thus, trade-offs are necessary. This year, science experiments and crafts have been minimized in favor of history studies and read-alouds. Every homeschool will have different trade-offs which will vary by season.

* Again, as I mentioned a few months ago, for the most part, the hard part of homeschooling is not the actual homeschooling. It's managing the babies and toddlers underfoot. It's dealing with relationships, attitudes, discipline issues, character, time management, and (my) self-discipline. It's making the decisions about day-to-day issues, keeping up with the housework, deciding which trade-offs to make and how to make them, and dealing with the million-and-one items on my to-do list.

Speaking of which, dinner dishes call!

Have a wonderful evening, dear friends!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Prayer Request


Hello, dear friends!

My sweet mother-in-law will be undergoing a mastectomy tomorrow morning, following last month's diagnosis of breast cancer. She already has several health challenges, namely rheumatoid arthritis and beginning-stage emphysema, so this will be an extra-big health challenge for her to overcome. If you think of it, we would love extra prayer to support her during this time.

Love to all!

Tidbits and Snippets for August 11th


4 Ways to Reduce Mealtime Chaos - I am working on all of these great suggestions. (The Modest Mom)

Talking to Your Children About Same-Sex "Marriage" - "If you are like me, you may feel like the bottom dropped out of morality on June 26. But the Supreme Court ruling on "same-sex marriage" and the inevitable head-on collision with the Christian worldview is the climax to a steady course our country has been on for decades." (True Woman)
"I have felt the temptation to fear what the future holds for my children. It is overwhelming to consider what could be going on in our country by next year and even more so by the time our youngest children reach adulthood. The toddlers at our dinner table will not remember a day that same-sex relationships did not just visibly exist, but also receive affirmation and celebration from society. But God has not given parents a spirit of fear. God is an ever-present Help in our times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). He is at work in every situation, including what happens in the Supreme Court (Rom. 8:28) 

A Higher Calling Than a Dress - This mother's godly maturity blows me away. I have printed this one off for my notebook so that I can read it often. (Contentment Acres)

Parenting Amidst Mistakes - "Worry and stress are not tools of the Lord. Self-doubt and angst are not part of His call for us. Nothing changes the reality that we are flawed human beings raising flawed human beings." (Brave New Family)
"We can try to do everything right. We can try to be the most educated, the most empowered parents out there. We can do everything we can to avoid the mistakes our parents made, but it won’t change the fact that we are making our own... There is no perfect parent, but there is the parent who is perfecting. And this side of Heaven, that’s as good as we can do." 

How Christians Should Respond to Abortion - "If Jesus was angered by the apostles not allowing the children to be brought to Him, how much more angry must He be that people are massacring God’s blessings in the womb – what should be the safest place on earth for a baby – and then selling their little organs and body parts for profit?" (Full Hands, Full Hearts)
"One day we will all stand before God on the Day of Reckoning. We will have to give an account for our actions, or in some cases, our lack of action. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to stand before the Lord Almighty and have to explain to Him that I was too scared to speak out against the senseless slaughter of His little children."

How to Stay Chic While Expecting - Not my strong point, but it's definitely hers. (Brave New Family)

The Myth of the Perfect Curriculum (And What We Use) - One veteran homeschool mama shares her favorite curriculum picks. (Are They All Yours?!?)


Recipe Corner

Leftover mashed potatoes = this fabulous potato bread.

This Chili Coconut Peanut Chicken was one killer recipe. The family ate like rabid hyenas when I brought it to the table. We served it with rice, sautéed cabbage, and baked sweet potatoes.
(I used this easy recipe for the chili sauce that the recipe required.)


 From the Bookshelf

Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World

Did you know that the banana we eat today (the Cavendish) is a completely different banana than Americans ate 100 years ago (the Gros Michel) - a banana that was so sturdy that it could be tossed into a pick-up truck without so much as the tiniest bruise?

Did you know about the great banana massacre - when one of the large banana companies machine-gunned 3000 protesting banana workers in the 1920s?

Did you know that the banana, and the power plays surrounding it, have contributed greatly to the last 100-or-so years of politics in South America?

I actually picked up this book because I couldn't find anything else to read and figured it couldn't be that bad. I quickly found myself growing more and more interested in the topic. I will never look at a banana the same way again.

This book records the history of the banana, the culture of the banana in human society, and the current crises (stemming from rapidly spreading botanical diseases) facing modern banana agriculture.

Fascinating, educational, entertaining!




The Monogram Murders

I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie, but being that she died five years before I was born, I have never known the thrill of getting "the latest Christie" - until now!

This book, of course, is fan fiction, but it's well done. I had many criticisms, of course, as always will happen in imitation-style literature, but I also was overjoyed to meet my old friend Hercule Poirot again - in top form, and very well-created by the author.

My main criticisms:
1. A bit too long for a true Christie.
2. An overly convoluted and complicated plot, and with too many improbabilities. One example: A rather neurotic woman who devotes herself to living in a graveyard and protecting the grave of two people whom she has never met. Hmm.
3. Anti-Christian themes and character comments. Not only does the vicar's wife (of all people) spend pages making snarky comments about the Bible and historical church doctrines and biblical morals, but the book ignores and/or celebrates the fact that the book's hero is a priest living in adultery.
4. Rather confusing. At the end of the book, I was still cloudy as to who had died, who killed them, and why on earth any of it had happened in the first place.

But again, I loved getting to meet Hercule Poirot again, and the character is well-done.

Thus, my review is mixed - good and bad together. Recommended with reservations.



Humanae Vitae

As I read the forward to this edition, I realized that I had already seen it - and recently! The forward to this edition of Humanae Vitae can be found here - and it's an astounding and highly enlightening read. Definitely click that link and check out the author's analysis - excellent stuff.

Whether you're Catholic or not, this is a great and worthwhile read for anyone and everyone interested in life ethics and the (sorry) history of life ethics in the recent Western world.









What the Bible Says About Child Training   

I just started reading this one and am looking forward to learning more. I very much enjoyed reading the author's wife's book, On the Other Side of the Garden, a number of years ago.














The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child's Life                

I picked this up at our homeschool convention and am enjoying it very much! I love the clear and concise writing style, and the practicality of his tips. I have enjoyed all of Turansky's books that I've read and hope to pick up more of them over coming years.












 The Education of George Washington: How a forgotten book shaped the character of a hero

A light and easy read that also offers a great deal of historical information and perspective. I am enjoying this during our history reading time.













Dear readers, have a wonderful week!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Little o' This, Little o' That


Note: My apologies to all who tried to click on this post yesterday! I had one of those (not infrequent) moments of hitting "publish" and then waking up in the middle of the night (at 3:00 a.m., to be specific) thinking, Good grief, I can't believe I put that out there on the internet. I immediately headed out to the living room and reverted to draft form.

I have since deleted the portion that caused me so much angst. Suffice it to say that it was just a bit overly negative. (It's been a very, very hard week.) Not that we should never share negative things on our blogs - to the contrary. But the section that made me uncomfortable had not been processed long enough in draft form, or developed fully enough to share properly. I have pasted it into another draft, and will (possibly) work on it for the future.

And now, after far more detail than you wanted, here is the rest of that post!

*****


Hi, everyone!

Time for a quick hodge-podge post of what's been going on around here lately.

Unfortunately, I have no memory of anything longer ago than yesterday. Or possibly this morning. (Twenty minutes ago?) Thankfully, I have my pictures to flip through, so I'll try to dredge up some memories for y'all.

(Can you tell that I'm tired? "Why, no," the reader responds politely.)

Ah, yes! Our eldest turned NINE! The birthday that I have been anticipating/dreading for years, if not decades. We are now at the halfway point in raising this child.

Wowza.

Wasn't he just born yesterday, or thereabouts?

He made out like a bandit for this birthday. A bucket of WWII soldiers, a hobbit costume, and a bunch of play weapons. (I love foam swords.) The 3yo was pretty excited about everything as well.






And now for my cake-decorating prowess (hopefully it beats my pie-making skills):



To make the cake, I printed and cut out this coloring page, and then traced it on the cake with a toothpick before icing. The cake (Hershey's Chocolate Cake) was iced with the chocolate icing from the recipe, and I then used plain buttercream frosting for the decorations (the brown was tinted with chocolate, the yellow was tinted with turmeric).

Our next parenting adventure: Moving into pre-teen-hood. Wow, this parenting journey really leaves me breathless. There's always something new.

*****

We also attended our state's homeschool convention, but I will cover that deliciousness in another post.

*****

We hosted a family reunion for one side of our family. Despite my mother-in-law's recent diagnosis of breast cancer, we had a wonderful time and got a lot of great pictures.








*****

My latest deal at Goodwill. Fellow home educators and mothers of boys, if y'all aren't drooling... you should be.


Now, if I could just figure out where to put the bookcases, I'd be set.

As a side note, my annual spring cleaning has been postponed indefinitely while I wallow in angst over furniture arrangement (bookcases among other things).

You see, I can tell when something is vaguely displeasing to my sense of placement and personal comfort, but actually identifying the source of displeasure and, even worse, figuring out something to do about it - well, that is usually beyond me.

But I also know that when my house is cluttered and/or ugly, I very quickly lose the ability even to think straight, let alone be civil or be productive. So I need to work on our home, even if I lack the talent to do so.

My project of the moment is figuring out what furniture to ditch, and which to rearrange. It's a huge, head-ache-y mess that usually leads me in circles.

"Let's see, I want to move the bureau into the girls' room. But I can't do that until I move the bookcases. I can't move the bookcases until I sell the armoire. But I can't sell the armoire until we get rid of the VCR. And... where was I?"

This week, thanks to answered prayer, I finally was able to make one furniture arrangement that pleased both myself and my husband. I feel encouraged - now on to the other ninety-nine decisions that have to be made!

Perhaps I'll post pictures when I'm done! Then you all can think to yourselves, "Wow, she really DOESN'T have any decorating skills."

But you can post nice, encouraging comments anyway.

("Wow, that looks, um, interesting! Very unique! Yes, unique!")


*****

Sometime last week, someone (Someone) FLIPPED A SWITCH with our little girl. She went from rolling aimlessly around the carpet to... scoot, scoot, scoot. In one day. Suddenly, she showed up in the kitchen. In the bedroom. EVERYWHERE. She is on her way.


 
*****
 
The 9yo recently filled up his first memory sheet that we began using this year. We're very proud of him! Now he gets to go out for an ice cream cone with Daddy.




Next time I'm putting 12 spaces on the sheet instead of nine. Otherwise this could get expensive.

*****

In other homeschooling news, I am thrilled to announce that....

(Drumroll, please...)

We have found a history curriculum! I love it. It's working beautifully.

Which history curriculum is it?

I shall keep you all in suspense until I have time to blog about it (which will be so long from now that anyone reading will have forgotten about it entirely).

*****

I'm sure there's more, but... my brain is dead.

Have a wonderful week, dear friends!