Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage.
-
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A New Unit

Today, we will begin our fifth unit in A World Of Adventure (with Logan) and we will be studying about The Renaissance and Reformation, for History. We will also read some biographies about people who lived during this time period: Sir Isaac Newton, Michelangelo, and Johann Sebastian Bach. In Science, we will learn all about the planets and constellations. Logan and I are both looking forward to this. Him, because he loves anything space-related, and me because I am severely lacking in knowledge on this subject.

Hailey and I continue to read about the colonists and the adventures they had while settling in The New World. We've learned that New York was first called New Amsterdam, as the first settlers came from Holland. When the Duke of York arrived on the shores, planning to attack, the settlers surrendered rather than risk losing a life to the large army the duke had with him. The Duke then decided to name the land after himself, calling it New York. We've also learned about different types of clouds: cirrus, cumulus, cirrus-cumulus, and stratus. Do you know what each one looks like and what kind of weather each brings? You should look it up if you don't. :)

Corbin is enjoying Little Hands to Heaven. I'm really glad we went back to this; I think it will be great for him. We've learned the sound for the letter 'Aa', as well as a finger play to go with it, and he really likes to act it out as I say it. While reading the Bible story yesterday(about God making light) he made a great observation/decision. We had an activity after the story where he was to draw on paper some stars, moon, planets, animals, people, etc. He chose to draw lightning, a tree, and the moon. :) Then, we were to paint over it with thin, black tempera paint. I think the idea was first there was darkness, then the light God created allowed things to be seen. (Kind of how Jesus brings light into the darkness of our life when we ask Him to be a part of it...He sheds light in the darkness, that we might see where changes may need to be made.) When the paint dried, we could 'see' the pictures he drew standing out underneath the paint. Corbin asked me, "Mom, do you know why I didn't draw any people?" I said no, and he said, "Because God didn't make them yet." I was so excited to realize that he truly understood the story and was listening. I love the Bible that goes with this curriculum! It's perfect for his age and ability. Also, last night when I put Corbin to bed, he wanted me to sing a song called As the Dear (that's what we call it anyway). I sing him a song every night but he gets to choose which one. Well, when I finished, he said, "Mom, As the Dear says aaa like A-A-Adam. As the Dear." A-A-Adam is in the finger-play we do. Anyway, my point is, he's making connections with the curriculum and using them in every day life to learn. That's what I love about the HOD products. If you homeschool, or teach Sunday school, you should check out their products. Everything is Christ-centered, the kids learn so much, and they really love it! Look here, http://www.heartofdakota.com/.

Well, we have more learning to do. I hope all of you are learning new things too!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This-n-That

There's not a lot going on this week, besides schooling the kids. We now have about 9 weeks left, and I can't wait! That means we'll be able to move into our new curriculum, Bigger Hearts for His Glory, by Heart of Dakota publishing. It's sitting on the shelf, just waiting for us to pick it up and get started...and it really bugs me that we can't just do it now. But, I realize we need to finish what we're doing for this year, so I'm trying very hard to exhibit some patience and self-control.

I'm just so ready to have a shorter school day...having two completely separate programs is very difficult, at least for me. There's so much reading involved; we love to read, but Mom's voice does give out after a bit! When we start the new curriculum, Logan and Hailey will do History, Science, Art, Music, Bible, Geography, Poetry, and Storytime together. Logan will have some extra reading in Science and History each day. Language Arts, Math, Spelling, Handwriting, and Copywork will be separate because they are at different levels, but they will be using the same publisher for each subject, and will do the same subject at the same time. We will also be using Drawn Into the Heart of Reading, which is a reading program written by the same author (Carrie Austin) for 2nd-8th graders. This program has the children read aloud a portion of the selected literature to the parent/teacher, then work in the student book that comes with it to answer questions about the story, the characters, etc. I am hoping that by switching all the kids to HOD, which makes for a shorter school day, we will be free to pursue afternoon activities, and add other subjects some days, such as Spanish and Typing. Logan would like to take art classes, and I would like them to take piano lessons...so we'll see how that all pans out.

I ended up shelving Little Hearts for His Glory for Corbin, and ordering the pre-school program, Little Hands to Heaven. We're still gonna call it Kindergarten, but this program suits him better. He will work on each letter for five days, using various activities to re-enforce the letter sound and name, he will learn a number a week, and although he knows his basic colors, he will also be practicing color recognition and learning to recognize the color words. We do plan to continue with his reading lessons, even though that's not incorporated into the plans. Our storytime will be from The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes, and I really think we're gonna love it. The stories are short, the scripture reference is given, and there are a couple of questions included as well. The pictures are beautiful....and I'm very excited about using this book to help instill the Christian values we want him to have as he grows. The whole program each day is only supposed to take about 30 minutes, which is better for him at this stage. To find out more about all the HOD programs, visit http://www.heartofdakota.com/. Corbin wants to do school, but does not want to spend a long period of time with it. He does enjoy the Mommy time, as do I, and we always end our time with a book or two. Right now his favorites are Who Wants a Dragon?, Arthur Babysits, and Dazzle the Dinosaur. Of course, he still spends much time building with his Legos, which is very good for fine motor skills. He even follows the picture instructions on many of the manuals he and Logan have kept from their purchases!

The weather here has been very nice lately. We've kept our windows open most days, the kids have been wearing their shorts (Hailey saying it's hot!), and I've been running the AC at night (because I say it's hot!). The cats are overjoyed to be able to sit in the window sills again, and watch the squirrels and birds longingly. I often hear them meowing, and see them swishing their tails back and forth quickly when watching out the window. Oh! to be an outdoor cat....

Karl started in his new department this week. I believe he feels he's going to enjoy it. He is in Product Management right now, trying to learn all he can about that area. I think he's made a great impression on the folks at work so far, and I'm confident it will be the same in this department. He's very professional, good with people, and has a great work ethic. I think his parents may have had something to do with that. :) Grandpa Karl, too! A great legacy to leave....

I am enjoying the freedom of driving again....no more fear of sliding in the snow into another car! At least not until winter....

Seriously, though, that's been tough for me. I don't mind staying home, but I dislike being fearful of something so ordinary as driving. So if you all could keep me in your prayers I would appreciate it. I know, in my head, I need to get back out there and try again. But, my tendency is to stay away from things I am uncomfortable with, and I know I need to work on that. I'll be praying too. For now, I'm loving the sunshine, the flowers, walking to the 'Y' in just my workout clothes...instead of bundled in 3-4 layers. It's nice. We're planning to go to the Lilac Festival in May, and plan a couple of camping trips near the lakes sometime in Spring or Summer. And, when my parents come back to visit, they've agreed to keep the kids while we travel to New York City for 2-3 days. Yeah! I'm excited about that. Karl went for a day last year, right before he moved back home from Maryland, and he can't stop talking about how he wants to go back with me. And it's been something I've always wanted to do!

Well, I'm gonna go for now. I haven't had a lot to add lately. I'll try to post more often as we get out and do more things. Take care.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Learning to ride a bike...

Aaaah, the memories! I recall learning how to ride my bike on our dirt driveway when I was a little girl of about 6. Mom and Dad both took turns pushing me, brushing me off and encouraging me to get back on when I fell, and cheering me on when I got it right.

Hailey has tried to learn to ride her bike in the past, first with training wheels. She did fine, but did not like the way it wobbled back and forth. So, Karl took off the training wheels after a while, and tried to teach her that way. I can still see him running along pushing her from behind and trying to keep her from falling off all at the same time! She decided not to ride her bike for a while after falling off one too many times...

We've been talking about bike riding in the Spring for a few weeks now. I told the kids we'd get our bikes out once the snow melted. Well, there's no more snow, so out the bikes came. The kids have been out playing every day since it's gotten warmer. :) Karl and I love to see them out there playing together. This week, I think it was Wednesday, Karl got home from work a bit earlier than normal. Hailey had already asked about learning to ride her bike earlier in the week. She came in and asked him if he would teach her, and he said yes. She's learning to ride on Logan's bike; his is too small for him and hers is too small for her. Logan will get a new one, and Hailey will get a new one when she's learned how to ride this one well. We will be getting training wheels to put on Hailey's old bike for Corbin; it's pink, but I don't think he'll care as much as he's been asking to "ride the big bike." So...I'm going to share some photos of this weeks lessons. She's really taken to it,

and is proud to say, "I can do it all by myself!"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The time is getting closer...

I just wanted to mention to all of you who read our blog, the time is getting closer when we will be making our decision about whether we stay here, head back to Florida, or go to some other location. Karl doesn't really know much yet about what kind of job will be available, or where. He does have some ideas about what he would like to do. His rotation in International Programs ends on Friday, then he will be learning in a different department for the next 2 months. The 'rotation' is over on August 1, 2008. Please pray for us as we come closer to the end of this year-long temporary assignment. Above all, we want to make sure we are following God's call on our lives; we want to be in His will. We have our own ideas about what the right thing to do would be, we have feelings about what we want; we don't want those ideas and feelings to keep us from hearing from God on this, though. If we have more specific things for you to pray about we will let you all know, and we will be sure to update you when we have made a decision. Thanks so much for all of your thoughts and prayers!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring is in the air!

The beautiful weather and warmer temperatures have the kids outside more and more! They are discovering many new blossoms every day; and just to be outside in the grass...it's wonderful. Karl has been playing football (monkey in the middle when Corbin plays!) with them. They have a blast! It's usually when I am indoors making dinner; Karl will come home, then join them in the yard 'til dinner is ready. By the way, we have a bell my mom and dad gave me for Christmas. Daddy hung it by the back door while he was here in February. Now, I just open the door, ring the bell, and they come running for dinner. I got that idea from my dad's sister, my Aunt Lorraine. When I would stay over in Pensacola with my cousin Karen at my aunt's house, we were all over the neighborhood every day. When Aunt Lorraine wanted us home, she rang a bell she had at her back door. It could be heard all over the neighborhood; all the kids knew for whom it was meant and would let us know if we didn't hear it. It was awesome! And now I'm enjoying the benefits of that simple solution to calling your kids in for dinner. I love it! Thanks, Aunt Lorraine; and thanks Mom and Dad for getting me a bell. They are outside right now; school is over for them for today. We'll leave in a bit for the 'Y', so they are enjoying some outdoors time before we leave.

I'm working on making a new chore chart for our family. For quite a while the kids have had assigned chores they must do each day. Though we've had some issues, and they've lost some privileges and allowance due to chores left undone, it's working fairly well. The chart just needs to be updated with my chores, and placed on one large poster board instead of a separate sheet for each family member. I have always had my own chores, but now they will be written down so I can check them off as I go. I'm hoping to get the chart laminated, or use clear contact paper to cover it myself. Then we can check things off each day as chores get done, and erase it at night for the next day. I hope to have it done by the end of the weekend.

Well, I need to go for now. I have to get things together for our walk to the 'Y', and change. I'll post again soon.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Teaching Assistant

This is one of the things I enjoy about homeschooling; my older kids can help teach the younger ones. I know it would be possible even if we were in public school, but I think we have more time and things occur to me more in this environment! Obviously, they are not teaching things that are very difficult. However, it is a big help to have the younger child read to the older child for practice; or the older ones read to the younger ones for practice as well as for helping to keep the younger ones busy while Mom teaches other children, or prepares lunch, or does other chores. ;)

Today, I had Hailey do flash alphabet cards with Corbin after she finished her independent school work. She told him the letter, the sound, and a sample word: A says aaa as in apple. She did this with each letter of the alphabet, and I did not even tell her what to say; I just asked her to work with him on the letters. :) I also had her read to him. This is good for her because she needs the practice for fluency; it's good for him because he loves to be read to and listening to read-alouds increases language skills. I could have stopped what I was doing, ironing, but I didn't need to because she does this well. Logan has done this for me previously with both Hailey and Corbin, but he was busy with his own work today. So, I was able to get my own chores done and they were still able to do their school work; even Corbin.

I began a different school curriculum with Hailey today. We've been using Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory by Heart of Dakota publishing, for spelling and reading this year. We used it last year, but only made it through the first 14 Units due to focusing very hard on her reading. So, we are now going to finish Units 15-34 before the end of the year. It's just a better fit for her than trying to do the same as Logan for History, Science, Art, and Literature. She will still have the option to listen in on any of his she chooses, but will not be graded on those. She really enjoys their spelling methods, and has done very well. I'm excited to get into the rest of the units with her! We started The Cricket in Times Square today (thanks Jeanine) and after just the first chapter we are eagerly anticipating what will happen next....

It's interesting that we are living in New York, and picking up where we left off last year, we are reading about New York. We learned about how the Dutch came to New York City (they called it New Amsterdam), and the book we chose (we had to choose 1 out of 4 selections, and I chose it before I realized the unit was teaching us about New York) is set in New York. God plans everything, and it is so obvious if you just look for His hand in your life. He knew we would make the decision to move here to New York; He knew I would switch Hailey to BLHFHG at just this time; and He knew that I would begin with this particular unit! I have a book about New York sitting on my shelf, that I have not used yet because I didn't know when to fit it in. Now, it will fit perfectly within these next units, and it will connect with what we are learning! I am so blessed by things like this, that seemingly have no connection, but are in His timing all the same. I can't wait to see what else He has in store for us! Does that mean He knows which house we will buy, and what state (or country) it will be in? I'm glad He does, because I really haven't a clue! :)

Well, we have to head to the 'Y' soon. Karl and I have some working out to do. Gotta build those muscles...I hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Tattoos Together

I just wanted to share a 'bonding' moment Karl and Corbin had this week. Corbin chose to get his free (on Delta) meal from McDonald's on Saturday when we returned...we have not eaten there since moving...and the tattoos were in his Happy Meal. He was so proud to have this in common with his Dad! Karl's been wearing long-sleeved shirts to work all week just so he can keep his tattoo until Corbin's wears off first. He says he's been washing around it in the shower...:)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

In the Land of Narnia

Today, we are watching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe based on the book by C.S. Lewis. We just finished reading The Magician's Nephew this week, and instead of re-reading the second book, we decided to watch the movie. Tonight or tomorrow, we will begin the next book in the series, which is The Horse and His Boy. I realize that these books are all fantastic reads on their own, but I am so glad we are reading them this way. There are things we discovered in the first book (I know they weren't necessarily written in that order!) that help explain some things in the second book; not important to the novel, really, but quite intriguing nonetheless. I am very much a detail person, and I truly enjoy the little non-essential elements in stories, as well as in life! Just ask my dear husband....

We do still have some school left to do; Logan finishing up Math and Hailey with her read-aloud. Corbin; I may do another reading lesson with him. He seems to really enjoy his time with 'just Mommy' and I definitely cherish it; he's growing up so fast, I know he'll be grown before I know it. Just thinking about how much the other two have already grown can get overwhelming! I know it's God's plan for us to raise them for Him, to leave our home some day. Still, I wonder if I'm doing enough. Will they be prepared? Can they face the temptations and make the right choices? I know that sometimes the answer will be no. I pray that I will have taught them enough to understand that they need forgiveness in those instances; from the person offended and God, and that they will be able to learn from their mistakes much better and sooner than I did. I sometimes still take a very long time to learn! But, God is good and faithful to His children. He has always been with me, and has blessed me beyond measure. I'm so very thankful...

I will be attending a meeting with our LEAH group tonight. (that's our homeschool group) They periodically have Chapter Meetings, with a devotional, a student or parent who shares, and speakers on various topics. I'm excited to be going, as I have not attended any but the first one for various reasons. I hope to meet a few people, or at least say hello to some I've met previously. We have met several through the Lego League Logan is involved with, as well as through the ice skating classes Hailey took. We need to have some of them over for dinner so we can get to know them better. Maybe we can do that soon, now that's it's spring. I'll be free to come and go as I please since it won't be snowing. I know, I know...I need to get over that! Maybe it will come with time...and much prayer. :)

I wanted to mention too, we saw the first 'blossom' of the year this week! The kids had gone outside on Tuesday; it had warmed up to about 60 degrees for the day. Hailey soon came running in, saying, "Mommy you have to come outside and see what I found. I have to show you!" I followed her outside, near one of our trees out front, and on the ground amidst the dead leaves, is this bright yellow flower. It had just popped up, and was quite a sight. So, I went back in to get my camera. We'd like to share our discovery with you...it will take some time to transfer the pictures to the computer. So, keep checking back.

Well, the movie is ending, so it's off to do some 'real' school work. Have a great weekend, all!