Wednesday, September 30, 2009

W is for...

Wednesday! Well, not only that, but for Old World Wisconsin, too! Remember how last week we were on break from school? Well, I planned some fun family activities to build great memories and just plain enjoy our time off. We kicked off the week with a visit to a friend. Then on Tuesday, I took the girls to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. {You can sign up for Movie Time emails here for Classic Cinemas and automatically earn yourself a free popcorn coupon. Obviously, you should wait to sign up until you're prepared to use the coupon.} Our BIG outing of the week was to Old World Wisconsin. We packed a picnic lunch and the weather was perfectly lovely for a day outside. It was so much more than a museum. I guess I would classify it as 'living history'; one of the biggest ones in the world at 576 acres. There were animals roaming about the various houses, people tending gardens, a teacher in the schoolhouse, and characters just going about daily chores. This place was great for all ages. The Husband was really excited to go and I'd have to admit that I was too. I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Some of these cast iron stoves were actually lit, so the people 'living' in the house would warn you, in case you had little ones in your group. A lady had just taken some soda bread out of one of the ovens, just as we had arrived.


Can you tell that I was totally mesmerized by the General Store? I mean...fabric...buttons...yarn!

The girls helping take the wash off the line.

My grandma has a treadle sewing machine just like this one.

I was almost expecting things in the 'exhibits' to be fake, call it "museum mentality". I actually squeezed one of these tomatoes just to be sure.

Check out that cheeeesey smile! I just couldn't help myself to a few little comments here and there. We all loved our week break. I can't wait to plan some fun things for the next one!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Life Lessons from the Veggies

While driving home from a friend's house the other night, our family began to break into song. This happens more than you might think around here, especially with worship songs and tunes on Christian radio. The girls started it and the parents just kinda jumped right in. It's a tune from a Veggie video called, "Where is God when I'm scared?" The part that we belted out was the chorus of song, which went like this:

God is bigger than the Boogie Man.
He's bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on TV.
Oh, God is bigger than the Boogie Man
And He's watching out for you and me.

I turned to the Husband and said, God is bigger than death {meaning Olivia's} and bigger than unemployment. After a moment of quiet I asked, Could it really be that simple? The Husband said, I think it really is THAT simple. Maybe that's what 'faith like a child' is all about. That we just take what our Father tells us and believe it 100%.

The next morning, Sunday, Hubs went for a run and after coming home said that he had a song stuck in his head the entire time. What song? God is bigger than the Boogie Man....

So, if you were a singing vegetable, how would YOUR song go? "God is bigger than _________."

Trusting the Truth that God is Bigger,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Five Weeks Already?

My creatively developed schedule for this year allows for "5 weeks On and 1 week Off" of school. I think I love it. Last Friday marked the last day of the first 5 week stretch. We are planning some fun field trips for this week and I will be pre-planning for the next five weeks. Here's a look back at what & how things are working for us!

Curriculum: Little Hands to Heaven

Bible/History: So far we have studied the Creation Story, Noah, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Sarah, Joseph.

Letters: A-D with all sorts of different actitivies, both fine and gross motor skills. We have learned a weekly rhyme/fingerplay that corresponds to each letter sound and incorporates the current Bible story. Each week we make a large letter on the carpet with blue painter's tape. Makes for a great visual and opportunities for lots of creative play: walking on the letter, walking a stuffed animal on the letter, trying to 'feel' the letter with our feet while our eyes are closed, placing wooden blocks on the letter to cover it up, plus just the constant visual of the letter we are studying. This is a great idea for any-kind-of-schooler for letter recognition!

Numbers: 1-5

Nature: As a means of learning through God's Creation, we are incorporating nature walks into our week and everyday life. We have added several pages to our nature journal, looked up different kinds of birds and flowers online and have caught several spiders to keep as temporary 'pets'. We keep these pets in little glass jars and the most exciting part for the kids is when they spin webs inside the jars. Creepy, I know.

Curriculum: Adventures in My Father's World

Bible: The Hubs is handling the Bible section. They are studying a different 'name' of Jesus each week and are making a Names of Jesus poster. There is also a memory verse that goes along with each week and the two of them have been looking up lots of different Bible verses (Sword Drill!) and discussing them. This has been a really great way to get Dad involved in schooling and a practical way that he can demonstrate his spiritual leadership of our family.

History: Pilgrims. Again. I balked at this fact when I decided to switch curriculum, but find it working out more pleasantly than I thought. I think being a year older, Tatiana can learn at a deeper level and since the subject matter is somewhat familiar, she can focus on more specifics. We've also started a U.S. Notebook, which will be filled with various pages pertaining to U.S. History, including a brief study page on each of the 50 States. So far it has a few patriotic songs and some copywork/picture pages based on what we've been reading.

Book Basket: We love the book basket! This is just a collection of library books pertaining to our History topic. Tatiana looks through the books for 15 minutes a day. As long as she is reading them, she can pick and choose any one in the basket. The best part is that our the writers of our Christian curriculum have already pre-read all of the recommended books and they are listed in the appendix. I reserve all the ones I want online through our library system and just go pick them up when ready. This would be a great addition to any-kind-of-schooler's day, for supplemental parent-approved reading time!

Handwriting: We are using Pictures in Cursive by Queen Homeschool and really love it. Each group of lessons is actually a picture study of a fine piece of artwork. I love the idea that Tatiana is being exposed to great art and that it is integrated with the cursive lessons, as opposed to just writing something unrelated like "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog".

Spelling: We are using Spelling Wisdom. She learns to identify 'trouble' words and these become her spelling words. Each lesson is a quote, virtue, or piece of good literature. Tatiana learns to spell the words through a serious of specific steps and the 'test' is actually a dictation of the lesson. Again, I love that the words are within the context of a good value, instead of just random words. It's a reminder to me to discuss some of these virtues and what they mean for our everyday lives

Read-Aloud: Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Bulla

Independent Reading: So far, Tatiana has polished off Kit Kitteredge: An American Girl, Mystery in the Theatre: An American Girl Mystery, and a biography of Helen Keller. She has just started on a book called Hannah.

Math: We are still plugging along with Singapore Math. I have thought about switching many times, but have been unsure whether the curriculum is the problem or whether it's just a weak spot for this particular child. I've come to the conclusion that I think it's a little of both. I am supplementing with flash card, fun workbooks pertaining to the exact skill being learned (multiplication/division) and the biggest change so far has been my/our attitudes. We are playing lots of games to MAKE MATH FUN. I think if it's not such a drag for Tati then it won't be one for me either. I've found ideas for dice games, math bingo games, and more.

Science: We've had some intro lessons one What Science Is and What Scientist Do and right now are focusing on constellations and His Creation of the universe. I highly recommend the book Constellations for Every Kid by Janice Van Cleave. I find it very extraordinary for parental learning as well as for children loaded with great activities to make star-gazing doable for the everyday kid. I hope to squeeze in some of these activities this week, as the kiddos will be able to stay up later since we won't have our normal school schedule during the days.

And I can't neglect to leave my little guy out. He's what makes me want to pull my hair out our school days challenging!

Phew! Thanks for humoring my school days recap!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quatro Meses

It has been four long months.
Four months...
...since Olivia left us....
...of snuggling and sleeping with a baby blanket, instead of with a baby...
...of painful memories...
...of trying to put back together the pieces of all that has been broken...
...since the miracle we hoped for was lost...
...of longing for Heaven like never before...
...of spoiling our other three children on earth...
...of trying to make sense of that which just can't be understood...
...of sleepless nights and tear-stained pillows...
...of wondering what Olivia's legacy will be...
...of running to God and running away from Him...
...of imagining how things could've turned out differently...
...of dreaming of how Olivia looks in her Heavenly body...
...of missing the joy of another daughter.
Oh, Olivia. Mommy still cries great big tears for you. How I selfishly wish you were here.  It seems like forever since I felt your little fluttery kicks. My heart still aches to have you near and hold you in my arms. Will our family ever feel complete while we are seperated by eternity? Will my heart ever feel whole again? I miss you, sweet baby girl. I miss you something awful.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Gathering

I just finished reading another novel. I guess I might officially be considered a bookworm. I read The Memory Keeper's Daughter; a book about a choice a man made which altered the course of his life and many of the lives around him.

The year was 1964. A surgeon and his wife were pregnant with their first child. There was a snowstorm and no time to make it to the hospital. The baby, a son, was delivered in his medical office by the surgeon and his nurse. They used gas to make laboring women unconscious in those days. There was a second baby. Unexpected twins. But something wasn't quite right. A daughter. With Down's Syndrome. This father made a choice. To send the baby to an institution. Not totally uncommon in those days. It was all in the nurse's hands now. He was trying to spare his wife some grief, but he didn't realize the ripple effect that his choice would create. 

I won't divulge any more to you, in case you decide to read it. I guess it was particularly moving for me because I could relate to the way that some of the characters behaved because of their grief. Near the beginning of the book I found myself wondering if I could continue reading it. It was as if the author was explaining the innermost workings of grief that I didn't want displayed in writing for all the world to read. One of the lines the author uses, when referring to the choice the surgeon makes at the time of delivery, is that it was "the moment around which all others would gather". I think I read and reread that line many times. That just makes a world of sense to me. It's almost as if that powerful life moment is magnetic; everything happening beyond that time drawn in around it. I wonder if that is what Olivia's life and death will be for me. A defining moment. A lens through which I view everything else that happens from this point forward. A moment around which all would others will gather. It has irreversibly shaped me, for sure. But then I got to thinking about another moment.

The year was 1993. A fifteen year old girl sits in the middle of simple church somewhere over-the-border in Mexico. She is on a missions trip, planning to evangelize and help with house building in the barrios. She knew God and thought she was going to Heaven. After all, she was a 'good' girl and had heard about Jesus. Why wouldn't He let her in? At one of their first nightly sessions, a pastor and a musician gave an altar call. If you choose to believe in Him, give your life over to Him, and to live for Him, please come forward. Every other student in attendance flocked to the front in reply. Every single one. But not this girl. She somehow understood the gravity of the moment, the seriousness of this decision, one that would change her life forever and seal her eternal destination. She wasn't moved by emotion, but sat in deep contemplation, counting the cost of what this decision would mean. Finally, after many tears and much thought and prayer, she went forward. I believe, in that moment, the angels sang a little louder. A moment around which all others would gather.

Two completely different moments. That second one making the first one more bearable. Both, I believe, meant for the same purpose. To draw me to Jesus.