Sunday, August 30, 2009
This morning I found myself in the 3s and 4s room at Sunday School. Alone because my husband was at home in bed (I'll get to that in a moment). I was in the 3s and 4s room by myself because I made a rash deal with a friend. We'll be on vacation on Sunday in a couple of weeks (if my husband is not still in bed, but like I said, I'll get to that in a moment) when we are supposed to be teaching our K-2nd grade class. Since I'm such a great volunteer, I decided to get a replacement instead of leaving the leaders hanging. So I traded weeks with a friend whose gifts obviously differ from mine greatly.
I know I've mentioned before that I am not a little kid person. I've never felt more strongly about this than I did this morning. There were only 9 of them. I've had 27 high school students in one class before. I even had one high school student who came in sporting his house arrest ankle thingy. But these were 3 and 4-year-olds.
It took a good 15 mintues to get them all sitting at their little mini-table. Once I would get two of them sitting and turn to round up the other 7, the two would escape. I finally got them all seated and tried the ol' "Let me see your listening ears" thing that works beautifully with my kindergarteners. Blank stares. And lots of fidgets. And noise. I passed out paper to dutifully complete the Bible lesson. They were supposed to draw stick figure disciples, but before the words "stick" and "figures" could escape my mouth, most of them had already scribbled all over the paper. I tried in vain to get them to flip the paper over for the stick figures. More scribbles. I told the Bible story very loudly to myself. Then broke out the Goldfish. Magic. Quiet for a few minutes.
Until the potty breaks began. I sent the first one in to the bathroom. A few minutes passed, and then I heard, "Will you help meee???!" I went in to the bathroom. "Can you wipe me?" "Can't you wipe yourself?" I asked, while my head voice said, Please, oh please, can't you wipe yourself?? "But it's poo-poo!" Oh. No. Not. Poo. Poo.
OK, confession time. In my whole life, I have only ever changed one poo poo diaper that was not my own kids'. With other people's kids, I don't do poo poo. I can't do poo poo. PLEASE don't make me do poo poo. It was indeed poo poo. I gritted my teeth, took a deep breath, tried to only look well enough to wipe and went in.
I made it. Then the same kid came up to me a little later on. "I have a booger." Are you kidding me??! I handed her a Kleenex. She stared at me blankly. I wiped her nose.
NOW do you see why I chose to go into secondary education? Please, please don't ever make me wear the 3s and 4s hat again.
The other hat I tried to squeeze into today is that of the Real Wife. You know, the wife that provides healthy meals everyday for her family? My husband is in bed. Flat out due to a herniated disk which has almost completely debilitated him. If you'll remember, he's the cook in the family. Really, I can cook, and I do cook when he's traveling. But to provide meals for him too? Well, mac and cheese just doesn't cut it for him. It's a little intimidating to cook for him. There I said it. There's nothing else about my sweet, wonderful husband that intimidates me but that.
So I've been planning meals for the week, always thinking in the back of my head that his brother may show up for dinner tomorrow night. Which is even more intimidating. I may cook gourmet pizza a la Little Caesars just to get out of it. I'm hoping and praying his back feels better soon so that I can hang the Real Wife Hat up. And so we can go on our planned Florida vacation. Oh, and so he's not in so much pain anymore either.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I had plans to make Honey Cake and Lentil Soup as well. In fact, I had my husband, otherwise known as The Chef, prepare an entire ham just so I would have a ham bone with which to flavor my Lentil Soup...all the while knowing that not a single member of my family but me even likes Lentil Soup. That would make a lot of sense, me making a whole pot of soup for JUST ME. So...the Honey Cake? Well, it's on the back burner (pardon the pun), and the Lentil Soup is OUT.
I still needed some food to photograph because the nasty McDonald's nuggets I encouraged my children to wolf down this evening on our way to church were not very photogenic. Well. It just so happens that I discovered this awesome site the other night. Top Secret Recipes! Like Copy Kat Recipes on steroids (there is a nominal fee attached to some Top Secret Recipes). I still have much perusing to do on the site, but I chose my two favorites: Bonefish Grill's Bang Bang Shrimp and Chili's Chocolate Molten Lava Cake.
Obviously, The Chef was called upon to throw the shrimp dish together, which he did with pleasure because cooking is a hobby to him. OK, so I kinda get that because baking is one of my hobbies. And that is why I took on the Chocolate Molten Lava Cake. And, hey, it does sorta go along with our week's studies because the kids learned what molten means from the goldsmithing in The Golden Goblet. I digress.
Anyway. The Bang Bang Shrimp couldn't have been more delicious-er. Very authentic too. And the Lava Cakes were awesome as well.
I have already been plotting how we can easily sneak the Chocolate Molten Lava Cake into our upcoming studies of Ancient Rome because, hello, Mt. Vesuvius is a famous volcano. Of course, I'll have to figure out how to match it with our next unit on Ancient Greece. Well, duh. Baklava has the word "lava" right in it. Works for me.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
When your 9-year-old daughter needs a pair of white sandals to match her Sunday best and her white sandals look they've been through a war, save money by loaning her your white sandals. And pray that her feet don't grow any bigger so you can share shoes forever.
Note: In case you missed it, she's only NINE. And it's not like I wear women's size Small by any means!
Friday, August 21, 2009
I have focused on two main things this week: Michael and fine-tuning the school year to make it run as smoothly as possible. We just finished up our third week of school, and it is always about this time (and several times throughout the year; let's see...there's mid-year when I start tiring of the curriculum, there's springtime when I just want school to be over...) that I begin to see with clarity what is and is not going to work for the school year.
The one thing that is still driving me crazy and that I am trying to remedy is the amount of activity that goes on while I am trying to work one-on-one with someone. I have my schedule set up so that three children are supposed to be completing independent work at different stations or centers. My stations are Spanish on the computer, Reading Corner, and Critical Thinking activities. The last station is Independent School Work. Theoretically, it is supposed to function thusly: Let's say I'm working with Michael. Alex should be in Reading Corner, and Jacob should be doing Spanish on the computer. Audrey, well, she can color or sort colored bears or practice her writing; she's usually pretty cooperative. What's happening is Jacob is finishing his Spanish in about 10 minutes (which is about how long each lesson is), and I still have an hour to go with Michael (I'll get to him in a minute). And when Jacob is done, he's climbing the walls.
While I still have lots of brainstorming, planning, and implementing to do, this weekend, I'm going to make a master list of activity choices for when each station is complete. One such activity will be "reading to Audrey." I figure I kill at least 3 birds with one stone on that one: sibling interaction for Audrey, literature for Audrey, reading practice for whoever is reading to her. If I ever get my act together, I intend to create a Box O'Fun from which the children may extract activities of one variety or another. Learning activities. Of course.
So that's still a work in progress. As is Michael. I mentioned last week that I've begun to feel some concern for Michael's progress. Upon recommendation from a friend, I have torn through the findings and suggestions of Dianne Craft for the struggling learner. Haven't spent any money yet on her products, but I likely will in the end. In the meantime--baby steps--I've implemented some of her phonics and spelling procedures. In addition, I am working more one-on-one with Michael, holding his hand, so to speak.
For the others, after I have met one-on-one with them and it is time for Independent Work, I hand them their books, their assignment sheet, and they go off to some corner of the house and complete their work. For Michael, I hand him one book with one verbal instruction to finish the one task and then report back to me. Sometimes I even break up one page into several stages and check-ins with me. In Math, for example, he tends to lose focus, and I'll get it turned in with only half of the page completed. So we break that up in to smaller chunks with check-ins after he's completed each little bit. It's working very well; in fact, after we did it this way the first time, Michael asked, "When I do independent work tomorrow, can we do it the same way?"
So it's definitely helping. This extra time with him, though, has forced me to re-evaluate the schedule and make a few tweaks here and there. The "check-ins" too take some getting used to because the added interruptions...well, they interrupt. But it's totally worth it if it will help him succeed.
I was so proud of the kids--and especially of Michael--tonight. Michael's reading assignment today included a short play which is an adaptation of a Native American tale. After we read the first half of the play together, he begged me to read the rest. Then, before I knew it, he was making paper bag puppets of the coyote, crow, and various other critters from the play. He and Jacob fashioned signs for the big puppet show and hung them throughout the house. It was then I suggested that I make copies of the play so that we could all read a part. Initially, Michael was a little put out; he assumed I would narrate the whole thing (translation: he could escape reading). But he quickly warmed up to the idea and begged to have the lead part, even after I warned that it would mean the most reading. The girls dressed up in fancy dresses for the show, and there was popcorn and assigned seating and the whole she-bang. It's rewarding to see him reading.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I steal into your rooms tonight, a small smile toying at my lips as I remember our earlier conversation today: In The Golden Goblet, Ranofer "stole" across the courtyard. I asked if that meant he was able to physically pick up the courtyard and take it somewhere. You all giggled.
This is a nightly ritual. When you were babies, I would stand over your crib, sometimes for several minutes, watching, marveling at who you were. Now I check your coverings...3 of you rarely have the covering you need, 1 of you wraps himself up like a mummy, and I fear suffocation in spite of the summer air conditioning.
Sometimes I still linger, memorizing your sweet, sleeping faces, thoughts of the day replaying in my mind. I revisit the fun moments of the day, the moments of smiles and hugs and meaningful interaction. Then my mind travels to those not-so-bright moments, moments where I grew impatient, moments when I absent-mindedly brushed you aside, losing a potentially precious moment forever.
These thoughts always give me pause. I long to have back some of these unsavory moments to re-work them. Knowing I can't, though, I allow dreams of tomorrow to flitter across the screen of my mind. And I pray, pray for wisdom in bringing up these precious children, pray for sweet and encouraging words to be my default tomorrow.
Your soft expressions bring a smile to my face, and I feel pride and an overwhelming sense of love for you. I turn and softly close the door so you are not awakened by the hall light or a playful feline. I turn toward the peaceful quietness of the evening, content to be right where I am at this very moment.
He jumps right in because He knows exactly what I'm talking about. "Patience and trust. Remember?"
"But I've been patient. And I've been trusting," I whine.
"You're not being trusting right now. Remember Jeremiah 29:11?"
"I know, but..."
"But I've been praying. And I just finished my second week at Bright Futures. I thought we had a deal."
"I don't make deals."
"I know. Not an official deal, but I just kinda thought..."
"You can't earn the things you want. I will provide all that you need."
The family that looked at our house on Saturday was indeed the perfect family for this house. Unfortunately, the school system was not a perfect fit for them. I can't say I blame them...
It was a lot of work.
But here they are. Perhaps I'll add more to the list as names come to me.
The Movie Meme: (please list
Favorite Comedy Film:
Fletch and Fletch Lives
Dumb and Dumber
The Wedding Singer
Just Friends (Ryan Reynolds)
Meet the Fockers 1 and 2
50 First Dates (Reese Witherspoon)
Gods Must be Crazy 1 & 2
Favorite Romance Film:
The Princess Bride
Just Like Heaven (Reese Witherspoon)
Some Kind of Wonderful
When Harry Met Sally
Favorite Sci-Fi Movie:
**I'm not a big sci-fi movie buff, but I must have a thing for Will Smith because here goes:**
Men in Black
**And speaking of Will Smith, I still get FREAKED OUT when I think about the Dark Seekers in I Am Legend**
Favorite Animated Movie:
Shrek 1, 2, 3
Toy Story 1 & 2
Favorite Disaster Movie:
(Note: Knowing with Nicolas Cage looks great, but it's dumb!)
**OK, and war is disastrous, right? The mini-series Band of Brothers is AWESOME!!**
Favorite Christmas Movie:
Elf (our Christmas tradition)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Four Christmases (Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughan)
Favorite Horror Movie:
**Not a big fan of horror movies...life is stressful enough! **
Nightmare on Elm Street 1
Nightmare on Elm Street 2
Nightmare on Elm Street 3
The 3 Hannibal movies (beginning with Silence of the Lambs)
Movies With Music:
**Don't hate me...I hate musicals. And I know this will make you totally incredulous: never seen Grease! I know, that's an American icon or something, but I was living in Africa when it was big. I was blissfully ignorant. So...I'm going to go with movies with the best soundtrack:**
The Lost Boys
Flashdance (thanks for the reminder, Crossview!)
Favorite Book to Movie:
The Chronicles of Narnia series
The Jason Bourne series
**And...I haven't seen this yet, but it's on our Blockbuster queue, and I know I'll love it because the kids and I have been listening to it on tape, and I was thinking, Wow! This would make a great movie! and I looked it up, and there it was!!....**
Indian in the Cupboard
To Kill a Mockingbird
Romeo & Juliet
Pride and Prejudice
Favorite Chick Flick:
Some Kind of Wonderful
When Harry Met Sally
Sweet Home Alabama
Movie You Could Watch Ad Nauseum:
**Used to also be Top Gun, but then Tommy boy got so weird and all, that it's left a bad taste in my mouth.**
Worst Movie of All Time:
My sincerest apologies...
**Conclusions: I didn't know it, but I am a HUGE Reese Witherspoon fan! And...I did know this: I'm totally stuck in the '80s!!**
Oh, and while I'm here, I have to give a shout-out to TeacherMommy at Diapers and Dragons. She awarded me with the Queen of Allll Things award. (Thanks, TeacherMommy!)
Here are the rules:
1. List 7 things that make you awesome.
2. Pass the award onto 7 bloggers that you love.
3. Tag those bloggers to let them know they are now Queens too (and link back to the Queen who tagged you).
So, here's how I'm playing:
1. I was narcissistic enough on one of my You Capture assignments, so I shall defer to that post.
2. I am not tagging anyone because, well, I'm too lazy. However, I will say that all
two of my fans are Queens in my eyes (well, except for Arby; he's definitely not a queen). So...if you want the award, just take it!
3. Link me, don't link me...
Monday, August 17, 2009
That windy day?
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
So I'll just start with a little progress report on the homeschool front. We're already about to enter week 3!! How time zooms by...Mark and I were talking just a few weeks ago about how, when we were growing up, 3 months--a trimester like we would spend at boarding school--seemed like an ETERNITY. Now 3 months speeds by so fast, it's hard to collect our thoughts. I digress....Homeschool. Three weeks. Progress report:
Learning Adventures is going great. I really like the curriculum. Of course, I'm tweaking it a bit, but what else would you expect me to do? In history, we're studying Ancient Egypt, and we're completing Evan Moor's history pocket to go along with it. We also attempted a model Nile River, but I made the mistake of making the river out of clay rather than the aluminum foil I used years ago when we first did this (the younger ones don't remember; thus, we are doing it again). I guess I probably used the wrong kind of clay because it got all gooey after we flooded the Nile. No surprise; Art and I do not get along. We have also watched a couple of National Geographic or Discovery DVD's I got a la Blockbuster on the pyramids and the Nile River. Amazing DVDs! Watching the Nile River one just gave me a complete feeling of awe at the beauty and wonder of the world God has created.
For science, we are working on a desert notebook and have done a couple of experiments to go along with. One was melting chocolate under white paper versus black paper. And we currently have water-filled jars sitting in the sun, one adorned with aluminum foil, to examine the complexities of evaporation.
One challenge I've come across the first two weeks of school--and any easy one to address--is finding enough fun things for Audrey to do while I'm working with the others. There are plenty of preschool activity "stations" I can set up for her; it's just a matter of my taking the time to do so.
My biggest challenge this year has been Michael. I have, up until now, always chalked his difficulties with academics up to the fact that he is a young boy. But this year, now that he is in third grade, I'm beginning to suspect there may be underlying problems. This week I have been spending extra time with him. With the other two, I can just explain new concepts, give them their books, and away they go. I have discovered with Michael that I must help him with most, if not all, of his work. This means I end up spending about 3 times as long with him as the others, which presents another problem. I don't want them to think he's receiving special treatment. Well, actually he is, but I don't want them to think they aren't receiving special treatment. I suppose I need to get a quiet moment with each of them and just explain that Michael needs extra help and to be supportive. It's the be supportive part I'm worried about. In the heat of an argument when one boy is trying to hurt the other, I don't want this to be used against him. Of course, such disrespect would merit discipline, but the damage will already have been done. I've heard many people talk about vision therapy, which may be something Michael needs. The problem is that it is not covered by insurance and costs a few thousand dollars, dollars we don't have at the moment.
Which reminds me. We went to the orthodontist on Wednesday. Two need jaw extenders. One, if not two will need braces after said jaw extenders. Our first visit was free. There will be no more free visits.
We had a wonderful visit from our potential home buyers today. They came without a realtor, and we had a lovely, casual visit with them. They seemed to really like the house, so we shall see. They seem like the perfect family for our home--two teenage boys; this is the perfect house for a family of four. My mother-in-law told me she was praying just this morning that we'd have a buyer soon. If this is the family, her prayers were answered within hours!
One way or the other, I feel complete peace about our house. We would love to be able to get on with the next phase of our lives. But perhaps the next phase of our lives is right here. Our pastor preached on finances some time ago. We were impacted by the message series and felt a desire to simplify things. Selling this house would help us simplify, and we hope God will honor that desire. On the other hand, perhaps He will simply honor our attitude of change by having us stay here.
I think I've mentioned before that I don't have a complete handle on this discerning-God's-will-for-my-life thing. But I'm learning. And that patience and trust thing? Thankfully, I'm feeling a lot of both.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
"9, 8, 7, and 3."
Yes, I suppose I do, though certainly not as full as many of my friends who have 4 and growing! My babies are all fairly energetic, but my two boys especially are always in Motion.
Last week we followed our blueberry expedition with a trip to Toccoa Falls. The path to the falls and the giant rocks surrounding the falls all afforded many opportunities for Motion:
A few weeks ago, I asked the Lord what He was trying to teach me through this whole sell-the-house thing. Because, you know, we've had the house on the market for a year and a half, and NOTHING has happened. And, you know, I'm not the most patient person in the world. I very clearly heard His answer: patience and trust. Since then, I have felt covered in peace about the situation.
Speaking of the situation, I personally spoke with a potential buyer just this morning. With plans to transplant from New Jersey, the family will likely come see the house this weekend or early next week. A really nice family. Two teenage boys (who would love the pool). Former homeschoolers. After I hung up with the lady, I started to feel that familiar panicky feeling as I surveyed the recent tornadic action here within the house. But I remembered those words--patience and trust--and continued the kids' schooling.
Michael's reading today happened to be about a missionary family to China. When John and Isobel Kuhn first arrived in China, worry began to creep into Isobel's heart. She was worried about getting her piano to the Lisu people to whom she would minister through music. She worried about the treacherous trail that lead to her new "home", which was nothing more than a gloomy little hut. As the worry began to well up in her heart, she clearly heard God say to her, "Trust Me."
What a great reinforcement through a third grade reader! I am wallowing in patience and trust right now. Will I rush through the house like a madwoman with my Lysol and Windex? Maybe, but it needs a good cleaning anyway; but...I won't freak out if I can't get to everything. I have four children; anyone should understand this. Will I ask my sweet husband to cut the 3-foot tall weeds growing in the yard of the abandoned house at the entrance of our street? No...and not because he broke the blade of the lawn mower on the weeds the last time I made such a request, but because my God is a great God, and if it is in His plan to sell this house, it will sell regardless of what the neighbors' homes look like.
No worry this time. No freaking out. No high-pitched maniacal orders issued to the kids to GET IN THERE AND CLEAN NOW!!! (OK, so I did make them clean up their rooms this afternoon, but it's their chore AND it was impossible to walk into any of them!!) No deals with God, although I can't help but giggle a little when I think of the Deal I tried to make with God...and the fact that I just taught my first class at Bright Futures Academy this week. (God does have a sense of humor; I've seen it many times.) I will not freak out with impatience waiting to hear from these buyers after they visit, and I will not freak out if they decide on something else.
Patience and trust. That's what it's all about.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
So, yes, I was nervous as we glided down the carpool lane of the interstate on our way to Way-Faraway-Other-Side-of-Atlanta listening to Bank's Indian in the Cupboard on CD. But the moment I stepped into the Bright Futures house, I felt completely at ease. Some of the middle school and high school kids greeted me warmly, and I enjoyed mingling with them while they ate their breakfast. (Btw, Gail, who runs BF with her husband, amazingly puts out 3 healthy meals a day for these kids!)
After breakfast and a devotional, the middle and high schoolers separated, and I went upstairs with my 4: 1 Freshman, 1 Sophomore, and 2 Seniors. What a fun, honest, genuine, great group of teenagers! One activity I did was a brainstorming questionnaire on which they listed 3 possible answers to 18 questions or prompts, prompts like "People who have influenced you" and "Places you want to visit" and "Mistakes you've made and the lesson you learned." They were all very open about sharing these, and we had a great time listening to each other's thoughts in this way. I had an hour and a half with them, which this morning I had worried would drag on, but it flashed right by, and I soon found myself waving good-bye until next week.
As for my own children, I wish I could say they were little angels. Not quite on the angelic level, but fairly well-behaved all the same. There was a bit of a problem with completing their schoolwork. And the problem was not on my part. They had ample time to complete it and a perfect space in which to work. But left unattended...well, it is something we will work on!
Monday, August 10, 2009
When she came to the latter term, she pointed to the arrow that directed attention to the bear's behind and asked, "What do I write here? Inappropriate?"
(Edit: So I'm reading this now, and it's probably a little unclear. Since I keep this blog for the sake of charting my little human being's adorable moments, I want to clarify so that when I am old and senile, I will have complete understanding. Audrey actually said the word "inappropriate". I did not use the italicized word "inappropriate" to replace any other term she might have used. And the blank that pointed to the bear's butt was for the word "fur". Not that a bear does not have fur covering his entire body, but anyway the arrow pointed to his butt. OK. All cleared up now. Oh, and I guess the reason she chose the word "inappropriate" is because we are always addressing her wild compensity for blurting out body parts at inappropriate times.)
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Audrey was so cute as we walked beside Little Sal on a daily walk up blueberry hill. Each time we would get to the part where Little Sal would start tramping behind the mama bear and Little Bear would start tramping behind Sal's momma, her eyes would twinkle, and she would say, "Uh oh! They're all mixed up!"
She also loved acting the book out everyday. She would Kerplink! Kerplank! Kerplunk! three blueberries in her little metal cup, then Kerplunk! one more, and then eat all 4 of them. A very simple math lesson found in that.
And then for the finale of the week...blueberry picking.