Saturday, November 20, 2010

Night Out at the Theater

On Thursday night Chloe and her daddy went on a date to the theater.  This was our second performance this fall of the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater. This performance was The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.

This was the two of them getting ready for their date.

 They had a wonderful time together.  Mommy gets to go with Chloe to the next one!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chloe's Zoo Class

This week we headed back to the Pittsburgh Zoo for another great homeschool class. This time Chloe learned all about how different animals use their five senses.  We were excited because we finally had a nice, sunny day! Usually every zoo class it happens to be cold and rainy, so the weather was a special treat and I brought the boys along so that we could enjoy the zoo while Chloe was in her class. 

Chloe had an up close and personal visit with a snake, an owl, and a fox named Hailey. She also was able to see lots of the other animals, her favorite of which was the baby elephant enjoying an afternoon snack of fruits and vegetables.

The boys and I spent some quality time watching lions, elephants, giraffes, sharks, penguins, and fish of every size and color that you could imagine. Our friend Elizabeth was a real trooper and spent the afternoon with us rather than curled up in the aquarium reading her book, which is where I would have been if I were her :-). It was so nice to get to enjoy the zoo with her!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month... Honoring our Nation's Heroes

On November 11th, 1918, the Allied nations of World War I and Germany declared an armistice, a temporary cessation of some of the most brutal fighting the world had ever known in order that peace terms could be considered. After four years of bloodshed, a ceasefire was declared on the Western Front and America rejoiced. A year later, on November 11th, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11th to be Armistice Day:

"To us in America, the reflections of armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations." 

Throughout the country business would be suspended for a two minute period beginning at 11 A.M., as the nation remembered the lives sacrificed in what is still often called The Great War - numbers estimated by some to be nearly twenty million. Twenty million husbands, fathers, sons, innocent women and children and grandparents. In 1938, November 11 was officially declared a legal holiday honoring veterans of World War I, and "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'"

In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress -- at the urging of the veterans service organizations -- amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

About two weeks ago we started talking to Chloe about what it means to be a veteran, and by extension, what it means to be an American. We're quite a patriotic family, so our kids have known the Pledge of Allegiance, My Country 'Tis of Thee, and America the Beautiful since they could recite the alphabet, but it occurred to us that they didn't have much of an understanding of the true blessing of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Did you know, for example, that in Germany it is illegal to homeschool? In Iran, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea there is no religious freedom? These wonderful freedoms we enjoy were achieved and protected at great cost, and because of great personal sacrifice. We want our children to understand in time the great privilege of being an American, and the importance of honoring those who have bravely served so that we may live this life. We wrote a few special letters, made a few sweet treats, and practiced what we wanted to say...

We didn't need to travel far to find our heroes. They're living all around us.

My Dad served in the Marine Corps. He played the trumpet and did reconnaissance at Pearl Harbor. It was hard, often back-breaking work, he was a long way from home, and he was really just a boy - the age when most boys in our community today are gleefully heading off to college to go to fraternity parties and goof around for four years.

My Dad is the most honorable, hard-working, humble man I have ever known. In many ways I think his years spent serving his country helped shape him into the father and role model he has always been for my sisters and I.

Unless it's raining or snowing, there is never a time when the American flag is not flying at my parents' house.

Ken Carlson is a true local hero... and he also happens to be the father of a dear friend of mine. He grew up in a little town in Pennsylvania with dreams of attending The United States Military Academy at West Point... about 12,000 people apply to West Point every year; between 1150 and 1200 get in. Ken was one of few who was good enough to be accepted, and he went on to serve his country in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, and then in the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation until he retired.

Every year Ken speaks at our church on Memorial Day, and it is one of my favorite services all year. It's a time when our church family takes a morning to honor our local veterans and reflect on the freedoms that have been bought at such a high price for us, both as Americans and as followers of Christ. It's a chance to consider my life, my ambitions, and the way I'm spending my time. How am I honoring those Americans who have sacrificed for me? How am I honoring Christ?

Who are your heroes? Have you thanked them? If you have five extra minutes, check out this link:

It's a beautiful song and video.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chloe's Artistic Debut

Our little artist celebrated her debut a few Sundays ago after completing her first art class at a local gallery called Impressions in Art. We were so impressed! We're used to seeing coloring book pages of brightly hued princesses and paintings of rainbows. Chloe took us over to her two works, pointed to the first one and announced, "This is my landscape." It was amazing! The pictures below don't even do it justice.

Chloe's landscape is below number 22, and her flower is above it.

Aunt Cici and Nana and Pop came to Chloe's art show and were so proud of her!

Chloe and her teacher, Mrs. R., show off her work. We love Mrs. R. and are blessed to go to church with her too!


What I loved most about this art class was that even at six, she really learned artistic techniques, rather than just doing crafts. She had a wonderful time and we're looking forward to starting up again in the Spring!

"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Ephesians 2:10

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Mommy, can we please go have learning time?"

I was behind this morning. There were two dozen chocolate cupcakes to bake and ice for Max & Sam's birthday celebration at preschool. Four beds to be made. Whites to wash. Colors to dry. Towels to fold. A powder room toilet that needed a generous scrubbing after a few days of abuse from two silly, mischievous little boys. I'd risen early, but early wasn't good enough today. The clock on the kitchen stove clicked away the minutes of the morning as I bustled about, focused only on my To Do list.  And then I heard Chloe's little voice from the playroom.

"Mommy, can we please go have learning time?"

Normally by this point in the morning we'd already had our family circle time down in the classroom, time spent doing the Pledge, the calendar, prayer time, hymn time, and a little story time. I'd pushed it off this morning, and finally between making bed #3 and bed #4, had decided to eliminate it altogether in lieu of the beckoning To Do list. 

One day won't hurt. 

But when I heard Chloe's request, and saw on her face that one of the most important parts of her morning seemed to be missing, I stopped in my tracks and rejoiced.

There are lots of reasons that Greg and I decided to homeschool, too many for a bulleted list. One of the primary ones, though, was our strong desire to instill within our children a true love of learning. How does it happen, we wondered, that endlessly curious, creative, innovative children get on that school bus eager to learn, counting down the days until kindergarten and first grade, and evolve (often quickly) into bored, frustrated, grumpy kids for whom school is a chore and learning is something to merely endure until the bell rings?

Sure, I know it doesn't happen with every kid. There are certainly exceptions to the rule. But in our estimation (especially as we considered our own educational paths), it happens more often than it doesn't. And what a crime that is! Albert Einstein once said,  "It is, in fact, nothing short a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom."

I don't claim to be the perfect teacher, and I'm sure days will come when the kids simply don't feel like doing the work they have to do that day. But I am so grateful that I will be with them in those moments, encouraging them to find the joy in what they're doing and tweaking things here and there to meet each one of them where they're at. 

Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each. -- Plato

Wordless Wednesday

This Moment...

"Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee..."
(from "Take My Life" by Chris Tomlin)

Special thanks to super photographer and friend Elizabeth for capturing these sweet images of Chloe at dance class :-).