Friday, September 30, 2011

Week One in Review

This year I am going to try to document what we're doing week by week, because I thought it would be fun for the kids to look back and see the progress of their learning throughout the year. Chloe and I's week was spent reviewing some of the basic parts of speech, reading two new Veritas readers, and practicing single digit addition (she's learned all her addition 0-9 facts, so we're working on her "rocket" speed of each fact before moving on to subtraction). 

I was nursing Charlie early one morning and Chloe came in with her slate and chalk, announcing that she wanted to teach him how to skip count by five. I love it when we get our work done before the "school" day has even begun... and they don't even realize they're working!

 During snack time, Chloe decided that she was going to read a story to her brothers.

They were quite entertained.
(*Side note... I've had one door on this bank of cabinets in my kitchen for what seems like forever (and realistically has been about four months) because I've been trying to decide if I want glass doors on them or not. I've finally decided: beadboard and no doors. In case ya wondered...)

 Max frequently enjoys sneaking up to his room, changing out of the comfortable shorts and tees that I have dressed him in, and instead donning his "clothes like Daddy." He is a man of style, that's for sure. Right now he is favoring quite a dressy look, with button-down collared shirts tucked in to belted shorts, spiderman light-up sneakers, and a hat. Greg and I's favorite part of this little phase (I should say we are hoping it's a phase) is that he tucks his shirt into his underwear to make sure everyone can see his belt. In doing so, everyone can also see quite a bit of his underwear. If we try to de-nerd him and pull the shirt out, he has a fit and tucks it back in nice and tight.

The boys practiced the letter L and we learned the Bible verse "Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:16)

One of the books Chloe read was a fairy tale called My Clara, and we decided to act it out one night just for fun. I narrated, while she and her brothers acted out the story.

Here's Chloe in her role as the lovely Clara, skipping into the snapdragon patch.

The bird in the story is actually a thrush, but this eagle worked in a pinch :-).

Sam in his role as best supporting actress, the nymph. Greg was super pleased to see his son flitting about in a purple fairy dress, but hey, someone's gotta be the nymph.

It was actually a really fun way of determining reading comprehension in addition to skill. I must say, she has quite a bent for the dramatic arts!

The audience loved it.

"Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way."
Colossians 3:16-17 (The Message)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Beginnings

Dear Chloe, Sam, & Max,

Last year when I began this homeschooling journey I never imagined how much could change in one short year. I had a plan, and it was solid: I would homeschool Chloe for two years while Sam and Max went to preschool. I told many people over and over about how important it was going to be for me to have two full years just homeschooling one child before I took on the task of homeschooling three.

Fast forward 365 or so days, and I am now homeschooling all three of you, while your cooing, kicking, three-month-old brother bounces away in his little seat in the corner.

I wouldn't have believed you if you'd told me then the way it would be now... I may not even have wanted to believe you. But what I hope you'll learn from this letter when you read it some day is that God equips whom He calls. He never promises the journey will be easy, but He promises that He will never call you to do something He knows you can't do, and that He will be with you every step of the way.

Last year I began to feel called to have you two crazy boys at home with Chloe and I. My reaction was very similar to the prayerful reaction I had when I began to feel called to homeschool in the first place:

Ummm, no way. Thanks for considering me capable, but no way. NO. WAY. Obedience matters, but so does my sanity.

As the year progressed though, preschool, which had been intended as a learning experience for you and a "break" for me ended up being more of a burden. It divided our tight little unit of four so often, with you two being dropped off for one learning adventure while Chloe and I raced back home for our own. The house was too quiet without you; I could tell that Chloe missed you, and that you both missed her. Although I loved your sweet teachers, I couldn't help feeling that I would do things differently. Sam, you would practice your L for an hour if we talked and learned about your beloved lions as you wrote the big line down and the little line across. And Max, you could count to 20 with excellence if there was a jelly bean waiting for you at the end of the task! Your teachers didn't know these things about you, and even if they did, they had too many other kids to think about and keep in line to give you that sort of individual attention. There certainly isn't anything wrong with that. Your teachers, like most teachers, loved what they did and poured their hearts into it. But God just kept nudging me.

I have a different path for your family, and I want you to have the courage to take it.

I started praying about it in the way I often like to pray:

God, I am really sensing that You are wanting me to keep the boys home next year. Here's the thing: I really, really don't want to. It will be too hard. They drive me crazy. I won't have the patience. I won't have the time. I won't have the joy. I'm too selfish... I want some time to myself! I know I'm supposed to trust You. But I don't want to do it. There. I prayed about it.

I would go on with my day. And before I knew it, while I was folding little underoos or elbow-deep in dirty dishwater, I would once again feel prompted to pray about keeping the boys home. God just doesn't give up. I am so grateful for that.

In time, an opportunity arose to participate in a classical co-op with other homeschoolers each week, forcing me to make a choice. I couldn't do both preschool and the co-op. By the time this happened, God had slowly, relentlessly replaced my fear with His courage, my doubt with His truth, my worry with His peace, my confusion with His clarity.

All He asked me to do was to trust Him and then get out of His way.

Tuesday, August 16th was our first day of school.

We decided we wanted to start a family tradition and go out to breakfast each year on our first day. You guys picked our favorite, the lovely greasy spoon Chubs.

We all went together and toasted our new beginning over plates of wobbly eggs and pancakes drenched in maple syrup.

Wake up buddy, it's not summer any more!

That day, as I recall, had its good and bad moments, and there have been good days and bad days since. But there is something indescribably special about knowing that we are in this together, our family. Each day we learn and sing and read and argue and forgive together, and I am aware, truly aware, of the abundant blessing God pours out on me when I am willing to trust Him.

I look forward to each and every day that I get to spend with the three of you.

In Him Who keeps you,

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life's A Beach

A typical day on Seabrook...

Blue water, big grins...

and sunshine so bright you've gotta wear shades.

Lazy mornings spent in jammies...

sibling silliness...

Sword fights with Daddy...

Time to read books with uncles and aunties and cousins.

It's cuddles with Nana...

...and adventures with Pop.

It's dune jumping

and impromptu afternoon naps with Daddy.

We wait all year for our seven days at Seabrook, and always find that it was worth the wait.

"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
   let them say among the nations, 'The LORD reigns!'"
1 Chronicles 16:31

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Do you remember

the way it felt

the first time you saw the ocean?

The first time you felt

the sand between your toes?

The first time you jumped into a crashing wave?

The first time you realized how small you are...

... and how big God is?

"Who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth— the Lord is his name."
Amos 9:6

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One of Those Days

This morning, mama was crabby. The sun didn't show up for work. The messes kept multiplying. The boys were getting on each other's nerves. I didn't feel like doing a single thing on my To Do list. Chilly Charlie was not so chilly... the monitor shook with sobs each time I laid him down for a nap. Sam got mad at me and decided to do his snipping practice under the kitchen table.

I felt like flagging down the school bus and shoving all three of them on :-).

SOOO... we went for Fro Yo.

Frozen chocolate deliciousness with crushed Reese Cups, hot fudge, and whip cream to the rescue. It didn't make everything perfect... but it made everything sooooo much better.

Mama said there'd be days like this... and when there's days like this, we'll head for Yum.

Three Months Old!

Charlie, you are three months old and on the move! I had a hard time even getting a good shot of you as you waved your little arms and kicked your chubby little legs this morning.

You are our bright-eyed boy... no more sleeping all day for you! When school is in session you like to be in the front row, kicking away in your bouncy seat. You almost seem to get lonely when you're up in your room by yourself.

We think you're so used to the noise and craziness of your three older siblings that too much quiet makes you sad... you definitely think that Chloe, Max, and Sam hung the moon - especially Chloe. I've always subscribed to the belief that you reap what you sow in relationships, and boy is she reaping the rewards of her sweet devotion to you... she gets the biggest smiles in the family these days!

You are a calm, peaceful, happy little guy, taking the world in stride.

We have taken to calling you "Chilly," because of your sweet spirit. You have filled a hole in our family that we didn't know existed until you came along. You bring us so much joy sweet boy.

"And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him."  Luke 2:40 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Summer Behind the Scenes

It's Labor Day. It's in the mid-sixties and raining, and summer is going, going... just about gone.  Herewith, a few of my favorite summer memories that never made it to the blog.
First day of Kidsfest 2011! Chloe has been waiting for this day for years - finally old enough for Kidsfest!

Meeting her leaders Lena and Leah...

Kidsfest craziness...

 The Ballet at Hartwood. We carpooled this year with Kristi and Anna Lyn and Melissa, Megan and Katie. It was great fun!

Max prepares to go scuba diving in the Bozeks' pool.

This boy loves the water...

...and this one doesn't.

Next year: no more floaties!!

Silly swimming girls.

Leaps of joy with Ryan and Brooke.

 End of the summer pool party at the Sheldons.

Ummm, how many more kids can we fit in this pool?

 Time for the group picture...

Trying to get everyone in the shot while making sure that no one drowns is harder than it looks. 

So long, Summer of 2011. Time for school, sweatshirts, and Steeler games!

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1