Friday, September 28, 2012

Autumn Friday

I spent an hour this afternoon curled up on the couch with my little girl. It's chilly outside, a day that can't seem to decide whether it wants to be gloomy or sunny. We had a few things left to do, but our books beckoned and we couldn't resist. She got lost in Little House on the Prairie. I got lost in Anna Quindlen's Every Last One.

I made tea and cocoa and we sipped our mugs on the couch, sharing the cozy white blanket.

Quiet days are gifts, aren't they?

"Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."
1 Peter 3:3-4

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Great Migration

In our classroom lately we can't seem to get enough science, which is weird.

I never, ever liked science. Earth science, biology, chemistry, physics... b.o.r.i.n.g.

As you might deduce, I wasn't very good at them either. It's hard to be good at something you're not interested in, isn't it?

BUT... this year we're learning about bugs and animals and the classification of living things, and - dare I say it? - it's fascinating stuff. We decided to take a break from our science curriculum this week to return briefly to the study of Sam's beloved wildebeest, so I decided we'd all learn a bit about migration in the process.

If you're looking for some weekend reading to cozy up with, might I suggest some literature on migration? Manatees, elephants, monarch butterflies, pacific salmon, loggerhead turtles, ruby-throated hummingbirds, Canadian geese, gray whales, caribou, and emperor penguins - to name just a few - all migrate for various reasons. It is so interesting to learn about the survival instincts of these animals! I'll leave you with a photo snapped this morning of Sam and his dear wildebeest "Lagoon;" my mom spent hours on the internet trying to find this; as it turns out, not many children want a stuffed wildebeest for their birthday. We adore  our unique little dude.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Nina & The Pinta!

Yesterday we went on a field trip to see historically accurate replicas of two of Columbus' ships, the Nina and the Pinta. Both ships are "floating museums," built to scale and here in Pittsburgh for just a few days before they move on to other stops on their 2012 tour.

Last year the kids studied a bit about Columbus' historical voyage as part of their Classical Conversations memory work. The very first History fact they ever memorized was "In 1492, Columbus made the first of four trips to the Caribbean on three Spanish ships named the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria." We couldn't pass up the chance to see two of them built as they actually were when Columbus and his crew set out for the New World.

Twenty-seven men made up the crew of the Pinta, and they must have been mighty cozy on that ship back in the 15th century. It's amazing to see what people went through and risked in pursuit of knowledge of the world years ago. They lived, ate, and slept on the deck you see us standing on the picture above. "What if it rained?" I asked. The tour guide said they most likely loved it when it rained, because it was their brief chance for fresh water and a shower.

What I thought was a life boat was actually the "ship's boat," the boat they used to get from the ship to the shore when they finally saw land. Interestingly, our tour guide said that there wasn't even a word in 15th century Spanish vocabulary for "swimming." For as much time as many Spaniards spent on the water, they did not know how to swim. If their ship went down, they were expected to go down with it.

No one was allowed to sleep or hang out in the hold back in Columbus' day - that was the place where they stored their food, survival necessities, and animals that they would use to populate the new lands they discovered.

The boys all took a turn trying to pull the windlass down. It wasn't easy!

History is interesting - and fun! - especially when you get to experience it hands-on with your best pals. Columbus Day is going to be a lot more exciting in our classroom this year now that we're armed with the knowledge of what Columbus risked and experienced more than five hundred years ago.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

One Fine Day

Our church hosted a tea this afternoon for all ladies aged five and up, so Chloe and I went with our dear friends the Bozeks.

It was such a sweet time with old friends and new ones.


Tonight, Greg and I are going out for dinner to celebrate 11 years together.

I'm so grateful for God's blessings in my life. Every good and perfect gift - friendship, marriage, children - is from Him.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Third Annual Back to Homeschool Party!

Our Third Annual Back-to-Homeschool Party was Tuesday, August 28th. It has gotten so big that we actually had to move it to a church this year! My friend Denise 's husband is the pastor of a local church, and she graciously allowed us to use their fellowship hall, pavilion, and playground. We had a gorgeous day - 80 degrees and sunny - and everyone had a wonderful time catching up. We ate delicious food, traded curriculum ideas, and shared heartfelt prayer requests.

I first came up with the idea for this gathering three years ago. Chloe was beginning kindergarten, and I wanted her to have the same exciting memories of the first day of school as the school kids did.

Here's a picture from our very first Back to Homeschool Party:

We have made so many wonderful friends in the two years since then! Look how much the kids have grown!

My kindergartener...

is a second grader.

My preschoolers...

are big, bad kindergarteners.
My twinkle in the eye
 is a walking, talking future homeschooler!
 And as for me, that terrified mother who was afraid she was about to make the biggest mistake of her life? I'm surrounded by an incredible community of women who support and encourage and inspire me every day. Friends who have my back, and remind me when I need them to that this hard choice I'm making is worth it.

 In a word? I'm grateful.
"Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older he will remain upon it."

Proverbs 22:6

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What Does God Look Like?

We were driving home from a get together with friends tonight when Sam's little voice piped up from the darkness of the back seat:

"Mom, what does God look like?"

Sam is famous in our family for posing these types of introspective questions. Greg and I have recently struggled through the following:

When I die will Jesus come to get me, or will I have to walk?
Are animals in heaven?
Is the neighbor's dog in heaven?
Is there chocolate in heaven?
Where is heaven?
and the unrelated but equally thought-provoking What do clouds taste like- water or cotton candy?

I told him the truth - I'm not sure what God looks like. "The Bible says that He created us in His image," I said, "so however He looks, I don't think it will be a surprise to us when we see Him. It will be like... coming home. To the place we've always belonged, and have finally gotten to."

Satisfied with my insightful answer off the cuff, we settled once again into silence. Then his little voice piped up again.

"Well, I think He has a long beard, a great smile, and beautiful shoes!"

Ummmm... okay.

Friday, September 14, 2012

First Day of School, Part 2

On our first official morning of school, we made our annual pilgrimage to Chubs Place for pancakes, greasy bacon, and the most delightfully fattening fried potatoes outside of Ireland.

Then Daddy went off to work and the kids and I returned home to embrace our new reality. They had not yet been in the classroom, and were very excited when they ran in and saw their new workspaces.

I'm actually really pleased with the way our desks are working out. It's fun and cozy to sit together and work. We each have our own drawer. The kids' are filled with folders for each subject containing their work for the day, and mine has my to do list, Bible study, and lesson plans.
Here's my exuberant kindergartener... yes, he loves to sit still, as you might imagine. Three times this week we may or may not have done history and reading on the trampoline. The joys of boys, my friends.
I love these peeps. Aren't they a fine lookin' bunch? So glad they're mine.
Two thumbs up for another great school year! Ready or not, it is upon us, and we will rejoice and be glad :-).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

First Day of School!

Our first day of school was Thursday, August 29th. I have been so busy teaching two kindergarteners, one second grader, and chasing after a 15 month old that I've fallen woefully behind in updating the blog. In fact, I still have a few summer posts to get up! Life is very full these days, and I suppose that's a good thing. If my blog posts are not in calendar order, my Type-A self is just going to have to live with that...

Here's the first of a series of posts on our first week of school. Greg and I decided that the kids were ready to ditch the little table and chairs in favor of actual school desks, so we Greg surprised the kids by putting these together the night before their first day of school. Here's how the classroom looked on our first-day-of-school eve:

"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Took the kiddos to see the movie Brave as a special treat when my niece and nephew visited. They loved it and we had lots of fun.

We're reading a book about William Tell called The Apple and the Arrow right now, and it's about archery  so we've been talking quite a bit about Brave this week :-).