April 30, 2006


A lot of things get passed around on email, but these just made me laugh. I thought I'd share in case you haven't seen them either. :-)

Answers given by elementary school age children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She is the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your Mom?
1. My Mom has always been my Mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did Mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your Mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?
1. Moms work at work & work at home, & dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your Mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your Mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on her back.

April 27, 2006

Encouragement for Today

A lady from my home school group posted this link to a very encouraging devotional. I thought it was so good and wanted to pass it on. It definitely speaks to the struggles I've been experiencing lately as a mom and manager of our home. I hope this can encourage other moms out there as well.

Through the Eyes of a 2-Year-Old

Last night at dinner Arden was peering through the tines of his fork. I remember doing that to be silly in junior high--we'd say, "You're in jail!" as we looked through the metal "bars" at someone else.

Arden wasn't putting anyone in jail, though. :-) He looked at Ted and started giggling, then said, "Daddy, I peeked you!"

April 22, 2006

New Sonlight Catalog!

I've been waiting literally weeks, and I finally got my hands on the new Sonlight catalog on Thursday. I've been devouring it page by page. Last year I read through the main articles and sort of skimmed the various offerings, but my focus was primarily on the pre-kindergarten core, which is what we purchased to use for Charis' kindergarten year (it's good for ages 4-6).

Well, this time around I am reading EVERY page! I am more impressed than ever by this company. I've read quite a few books that are included in the various cores, but I'm amazed at how many quality books I have NOT read. Me, an English major! I have to hand it to Sonlight for finding the best literature out there. This afternoon I finished reading about the high school cores, and I can hardly wait to do them with our kids! I know, I need to relax and enjoy the stage we're at, but it just seems like the cores get better and better! This only reinforces my determination to home school our kids all the way through high school. That was NOT in my plans when I first considered home schooling, but I feel my calling to do this has stretched to include every year I am blessed to have my children living in our house. If God wants us to do otherwise, I'm sure He will make that clear in His perfect timing.

In the meantime, I am loving this! I'm probably as excited about this catalog as I will be when the new Stampin' Up! catalog comes out in July, and that's really saying something! ;-) I look forward to ordering the next core for Charis' 1st grade year. I'll post more about that when the time comes.

For now, though, let the record show that my curriculum hunt is officially over. Last year I became a curriculum junkie, collecting as many catalogs as I could and highlighting and bookmarking and making notes for what we'd be doing further down the road. A detailed examination of ALL of Sonlight's cores convinces me that I need look no further. It's a perfect fit for our family, and I'm so thankful to finally feel that freedom to stop looking elsewhere! We will continue to use Math-U-See, which isn't carried by Sonlight, but as for language arts and science, plus of course the wonderful cores with Bible, history, and literature, we're going to stick with Sonlight.

That sound you heard in the background is my husband cheering heartily. :-) I think I scared him with the piles of catalogs I collected over the past year!

Go Me!

This past week has been a pretty good one for me as far as exercise goes. I had run 3 miles in 30 minutes on Wednesday, April 12, which for me was quite amazing. On Monday I did some toning, Tuesday I jogged on the treadmill 2.6 miles, and Thursday Sarah and I ran, with my total distance being about 3 miles. I decided to get up early this morning to run farther, thinking maybe I could hit 4 miles. Sarah and I missed each other but met up as she was on her way home, so I turned and went with her. I'm glad we met up, because it made time pass more quickly and actually energized me to keep going after she stopped. I arrived home more than an hour after I had left!

Later in the morning I went to get groceries, and on the way home I decided to drive my route to see exactly how far I had gone. Are you ready for this?!

I jogged 5.2 miles!!!! Oh, my! That is by far the farthest I have ever run in one day. My body will probably not be as excited tomorrow when I have to have help getting out of bed, but right now I'm kind of on a high. Who would have thought I could go so far?! Maybe I can do a 10K after all...


Tobin found the Parent-Partner name tag I wear when I'm helping in a pre-school classroom at church. He asked what it was.

"That's my nametag to wear when I help at church," I said.

"Does it say 'Mama?'" he asked. :-)

April 19, 2006

A Productive Morning

This week has been a pretty good one so far! On Monday we had a good school time, then went to a friend's house for a potlunch lunch with the moms from my MOPS table. Yesterday's "big outing" was a walk to the park with our friends Sarah and her kids just before dinner. I also enjoyed visiting with two long-distance friends on the phone. I don't really like to talk on the phone all that often...it seems when I am on the phone, my kids decide to behave like wild hellions. However, they did very well yesterday while I talked with my very pregnant friend Megan (has the baby arrived yet, Megan?!), and then I got to chat with Monica in the afternoon while Arden was napping.

Today has gone so well, though not entirely according to our normal schedule. No matter; I love that we have this flexibility! I didn't wake as early as I would have liked, but I did manage to finish my quiet time before Tobin came downstairs at 6:30 a.m. I couldn't blame him for his early wake time when I realized what the problem was--he had a splinter in his hand that he said he got last night during our small group meeting! Poor guy! Maybe he didn't realize it was there. He certainly never complained about it last night. Anyway, after our little "surgery" this morning, he was much happier and settled himself down to color while I worked on some writing. Arden joined us soon after that and kept busy with some puzzles, so I was able to finish the Day Three quiet time for the Commission study. Woohoo! Only two more days' worth of quiet times, and I am FINISHED!

We spent an hour and a half at the breakfast table this morning!! In addition to our usual Bible story, AWANA verse review, and home school verse review, we ended up having a long conversation based on a newspaper article I had read as the kids finished up their cereal. A man in our city grabbed a 7-year-old girl who was on her way to the bus stop and shoved her into his car. She screamed like everything and attracted the attention of a lady who was passing, who then followed the man in her car. He realized she was not going to stop following him, so he stopped and pushed the girl back out of the car and sped off. Praise the Lord the girl was unharmed--I can only imagine how thankful her parents were that the woman had stopped to help.

Well, with this on my mind, I again began talking with the kids about strangers and so on. We've had discussions like this before, but you can never drive the point home too much, I don't think! Charis was so sweet and earnest, telling me that if she saw someone trying to take a child, she would go up to him and say, "You let him go! I'm going to call the police!" Her words were brave, but her little body was trembling just thinking about this scary topic! Of course we then discussed that the best thing to do is NOT to talk to the bad person trying to take a child, but to RUN screaming for Mom or Dad or any other trusted adult! We "rehearsed" various scenarios, and I do think Tobin and Charis get it. Charis expressed some reservations about kicking someone, knowing that that is unkind. But I quickly dispelled those thoughts, telling her that there is definitely an appropriate time to kick, punch, and scream, and we are certainly not going to be upset if she does those things to try to prevent someone from taking her. It's a scary thing to even think about, but I was glad for the opportunity to talk with them about it again in the safety of our home. I assured both Charis and Tobin (and Arden, too, but I'm not sure if he was listening...he was too busy stuffing his little cheeks with cereal) that we don't need to live in fear, because God and His angels are watching over us, but that we do need to be careful and safe.

Whew! I couldn't believe that it was already 9:30 a.m. by the time we finished all this discussion! The morning just flew by. I did our Sonlight reading while the kids finished munching cereal--they kept deciding they were still hungry. :-) I put the boys in room/play time after that so Charis and I could do some of her schoolwork. She did lesson 10 in her math book, a handwriting practice page, 2 pages in her Developing the Early Learner workbook, and some phonics dictation. She's been learning about the suffix -y, and today we practiced spelling words with the short vowel sound and one consonant. She remembered to double the consonants at the end and spelled bunny, fuzzy, kitty, and penny correctly.

Then we went out to the garage, where the kids rode bikes/scooters around while I jogged 1 3/4 miles on the treadmill. Then I mowed the front and back yards, which took a grand total of about 10 minutes. I love living in Las Vegas! The kids continued to play well while I fixed lunch, and then it was time for me to shower. I let the kids watch a Magic School Bus DVD that we got from the library, and they learned about ant hills and bee hives while I showered and then vacuumed the upstairs. Yay! It was filthy up there! I tend to neglect that area because it's usually not seen if people drop by the house. ;-)

Arden went right down for his nap. We have a new nap routine around here. Since Arden began his escape routine again recently, I started lying down in Tobin's bed so I could keep an eye on him. He usually falls asleep within 15-20 minutes at the most. During the time he's nodding off, I usually doze myself, and it's surprisingly refreshing to at least be able to rest my body, even if I don't get fully asleep. Meanwhile Tobin fell asleep in our bed with no problems--hallelujah! I haven't been making him nap every day, instead letting him occasionally take a stack of books/magazines to bed to read while a timer goes for 60 minutes. Then he can get up and play, as long as he is QUIET during his REST TIME! We did that yesterday, and he did pretty well, but since he was up so early today, and we had small group last night and AWANA tonight, meaning later bed times, I told him he must nap today, and he was amazingly agreeable!

Now Charis is painting in her paint-with-water book while I catch up on some computer work. I feel good about what we've accomplished so far today and am feeling so thankful to be a stay-at-home mom!

April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

Wow...in some ways it doesn't even feel like Easter. Even though I don't think Ted and I have ever attended a sunrise service together, for some reason I still associate sunrise services with Easter Sunday. (Mom and Dad, I'll never forget those years that we drove to Flagpole Hill for the early morning services!) And since the church we are currently attending is geared primarily for outreach to the unique Las Vegas community, the songs we sang this morning did not include "Up From the Grave He Arose" and "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today," my favorite Easter hymns. Still, it has been a very good time of celebration!

We began early last week with our Bible story time. I flipped through our Bible story book to see how close we were to the Easter story sequence and was delighted to find that if we read 2 stories each morning instead of our usual one, we would reach the Resurrection story on Sunday! So all week we were discussing the stories of Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Jesus praying in the garden, etc.

Then last night we did our annual tradition of making Easter Story Cookies. We've made these the past 3 years now, and the kids absolutely love making them. This year Charis and Tobin really understood what was going on, and I think they "got" much more of the symbolism, which was exciting to see. This year also the part about Jesus drinking vinegar really hit home, since both Charis and Tobin (but especially Tobin!) have been exposed to "whining medicine" in the past!

While I was beating the egg whites and sugar, a process that takes 12-15 minutes, Ted hid the Resurrection Eggs for the kids. He read the stories of 6 of the 12 eggs' contents, and we'll finish the other 6 stories tonight before bedtime.

We did do Easter baskets for the kids. They had actually gotten the baskets a few weeks ago--we did an egg hunt with the moms from my MOPS table this past Monday at a park, so I had gotten them when I was out shopping with the kids earlier in order to save a trip to the store. I got metal buckets for Charis and Tobin so that they can use them year-round and a basket with sports balls on it for Arden, so that he can use it to store his ball collection. I picked up some little treats from the party store a few days ago: paint-with-water books, coloring books for the boys and a "princess school set" for Charis (including zipper pencil bag, eraser, sharpener, and ruler), egg-shaped sidewalk chalk, a water gun, and of course a chocolate Easter bunny. That was it! A grand total of maybe $5 per kid! We aren't ones to spend big money on our kids on occasions like this. I guess that's because we see other parents knocking themselves out on birthdays or whatever, when their kids are 1, 2, or 3 years old, and we think...how can they top that?! We're all about the home parties and keeping things simple yet special! The kids got enough candy at the egg hunt on Monday, and I didn't feel obligated to get more! But I figured a little chocolate bunny would be appropriate. :-)

We read the story of Jesus' resurrection during breakfast as we munched our traditional Sunday-morning whole-wheat pancakes with strawberries. (Ted is a WONDERFUL breakfast cook!!!) Then it was off to church in our Easter outfits!

And just as a side note...you'll probably notice that Tobin's expressions are a bit silly in these pictures! We discovered that ALL of the shots we took included a slightly different yet consistently silly grin on his face, thereby assuring us that yes, he is indeed Ted's son and is therefore prone to helping create "geek pictures!" ;-)

Happy Birthday, Tobin!

Time to catch up on our blog!

Tobin's 4th birthday was on Thursday, April 13. After Ted got home from work, our family went to Peter Piper Pizza for dinner (kind of a Chuck E. Cheese sort of place, only a bit smaller and with better pizza!). The kids had a great time climbing in the play area and playing a few little games. Ted and I liked it because the pizza was yummy and, since it was a weeknight, it was not very crowded at all! This picture of Tobin and Ted is one of the best shots of the evening. :-)

Then we went to Dairy Queen for some (very overpriced) ice cream. It was such a nice evening that we sat outside in the courtyard area and had Tobin open his presents there. He got:

* A very fun book, How I Became a Pirate, from Uncle Joel and Auntie Sarah
* An "owl space" (outer space) book and giant floor puzzle from Grandma J
* A starter set of Wedgits from Uncle Clint and Auntie Ski (This toy has almost been more fun for Daddy than for Tobin!!)
* A Slinky from Arden
* A Spiderman bop bag from Charis

Grandma K said she sent a package, but it hasn't arrived yet. (Mom...we'll let you know when it gets here!)

Then we came home, where the gift from Mom and Dad was waiting--a Spiderman scooter! This was a HUGE hit with all the kids, and they took turns scooting around on the tile, playing with Wedgits, the slinky, and the bop bag while waiting for their turn. Now I suppose we'll want to get scooters for Charis and Arden as well! But as Tobin's bike has a flat tire, and Arden is nearly big enough to pedal the tricycle, Tobin did need a new "vehicle!"

So that was it for Tobin's actual birthday. Then, today, we joined our friends Ken and Sarah and their kiddos and Sarah's parents for an Easter dinner. Sarah made a Thomas the Tank Engine cake which turned out very cute (and was quite tasty as well!). She put 4 candles on the side with Tobin's name and 3 candles on the side with T.J.'s name, and they blew them out at the same time. The boys exchanged gifts. Taran got a bop bag, slinky, and puzzle from our family, and Tobin got a NEW set of crayons, Spiderman stickers, Spiderman folder, paper for coloring, and a Stealth plane. Tobin immediately broke out the crayons and started coloring pictures for everyone present, including Sarah's parents! (He had been grounded from crayons the past 3 days because I caught him coloring on the metal arm of the futon, so I believe he was going through withdrawal!)

So, all in all, it was a wonderful birthday! Thank you to our family members who sent packages to help Tobin feel so special, and a special thanks to Sarah for the cake and for including us in the birthday festivities this weekend!

April 12, 2006

I Win!

I've discovered that a little healthy competition works wonders in getting my children to scoot along! Lately they've been racing to see who can get upstairs to brush their teeth first or who can get buckled up in the van first. We try to make it seem as if everyone is a winner, which is probably why this story even happened in the first place.

We were rushing to leave the house to get to MOPS on Monday, and as usual the kids wanted to race to see who could get buckled up first. Charis can completely buckle herself up, and Tobin can do the top portion of his straps. I still have to do everything for Arden. Here's how the winners announced themselves:

Charis, who was completely buckled first: "I win of the girls!"

Tobin, who finished a close second: "I win of the boys!"

Arden, waiting happily while I buckled him up: "I win of the Ardens!"

April 11, 2006

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

I wish I could say that the title of this post is what we hear around here. Unfortunately, we've been dealing with a lying issue of late. I just posted a glowing report on Tobin, since his birthday is just around the corner, but to let people know our life is far from perfect, here's a balance to that. Surprisingly, though, the culprit here is Charis, our normally rule-following, people-pleasing daughter. She knows what the standards are around here, and she knows what the Bible says on a lot of issues, including lying. But for some reason (yeah, I know, it's that ugly sin nature!) she has chosen to give in to the temptation to lie.

It's happened probably 6-8 times within the past month, enough to make Ted and me feel rather alarmed at this trend. Two of those occasions involved other children, meaning that Charis lied about them intending to get them in trouble. One was her friend Hannah, and the other was Tobin. In both instances, from a human standpoint, I can somewhat understand the motivation behind the lie--she was hurt (emotionally with her friend, physically with Tobin) and I think wanted to retaliate in some way. At the same time, I was utterly shocked to see my daughter behave in this manner. Since I had caught her in other lies before these particular occasions, it was easier to accept the fact that yes, she did lie, and now it was time to deal with the situation. Had I not caught her in other lies before, I may have easily believed Charis' story and assumed the other children were at fault. Now I know better!

The other lies involved situations that are again easy to understand--for example, she lied about doing a task, knowing that she would get in trouble for not having done it. What stumps me is why she didn't seem to grasp the fact that lying would only make her situation worse!

Last week was particularly bad, with 2 lies on Monday and 2 on Wednesday. The last lie on Wednesday was the one involving Tobin, and I prayed out loud in front of the children that God would give me wisdom to discern who was telling the truth. I praise God that the truth became very clear; it was Charis who lied. I discussed with her the fact that it becomes so much harder for Mommy and Daddy to believe her when we've heard her lie so many times. That, along with the prayer time and punishment that followed, may have helped the message sink in. I'm pleased to report that Charis has not, to my knowledge, told a lie in nearly a week. I have, however, caught her telling the truth! :-) I've asked her specific questions on occasion to give her the opportunity to choose truth over a lie, and when she told the truth (even at risk of getting herself into trouble), I took the time to praise her and encourage her to continue to stand in the way of truth, because that's what GOD wants from us.

I hope and pray that we've nipped this in the bud, because though this is a problem that may seem innocuous now (to her, anyway--not to her parents!), it can definitely lead to even worse character issues down the road.

One thing I'm grateful for: my daughter is a terrible liar! She has no concept of being sneaky--yet! It has been ridiculously easy to catch her in these lies, and I am so thankful for that. I don't want this to get to the point where cunning deceit enters the picture and makes it more difficult for me to discern what is really happening.

I had planned to post more details about our dilemma awhile ago, hoping to get some good advice from other parents! Thankfully we seem to be doing much better; however, if you have any ideas, any creative ways to approach this that will help her (and our other kids) grasp how important it is to tell the truth, even if it means getting in trouble...please feel free to leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!

Four Years Ago...

...I was waiting not-so-patiently for my baby Tobin to arrive! This was his due date, but he didn't make his appearance until 2 days later. I can hardly believe he's almost 4 years old! Since his birthday is on a weekday, we are having a low-key family celebration that evening, going out for burgers and ice cream and, depending on the time and weather, possibly letting him open his family presents at a park.

On Sunday, we are getting together with our friends Ken and Sarah and their 3 little ones. Since their youngest, a boy, turns 3 the week after Tobin's birthday, we decided to do a joint birthday party. How great is that?! Sarah is going to make a Thomas the Tank Engine cake, and we will provide the balloons. I think I'm getting the better end of the deal! ;-) I can stamp a card, but I can't decorate a cake! We'll enjoy an Easter "lupper" (lunch/supper!) together with Sarah's folks and then have our little party. I'm so looking forward to it and am glad that it won't be a huge deal. Of course, it will be a big deal to Tobin and Taran, but I'm relieved that I didn't get myself into planning a huge shindig on an already-busy weekend.

Since we're talking about Tobin, I'll take some time to focus on him in a little update. He is still begging for school time every day, so it's a good thing I've built his "school time" into our schedule! He's usually up bright and early (along with Arden) and has such a zest for everything we do. He is on the verge of learning to read, I think, having learned all his letter sounds and recognizing a few sight words as well. He still adores the starfall.com web site and is discovering the little letter games. I let him play on the site quite often. Our computer is in the family room, right next to the kitchen, so that I can help him navigate if need be.

He also enjoys working from time to time in the Math-U-See Primer book. I had Charis do 3 out of the 6 practice pages for each lesson so that I could have Tobin come back through the book and make use of it as well. It starts with such basic concepts that I felt comfortable letting Tobin start, and he is getting familiar with the math blocks plus getting practice with writing numbers, which is what he needs most right now. I suspect he'll grasp the math concepts much more quickly than he'll be able to communicate in writing! He's still quite young and isn't as adept with writing as Charis was at 4 years of age, but he's definitely sharp.

While Tobin is still enjoying puzzles, his current love is coloring. This is good for those fine motor skills, and he's always proudly showing me his latest work of art. He's also starting to draw things on his own as well, some of which are just so adorable they make me giggle (though I try to wait until he's not around!), with the googly-circle eyes and funny-looking bodies. It's fun to have two kids bringing me artwork now!

Tobin's napping is more consistent at this time than Arden's, since our youngest is falling back into the nasty habit of climbing out of his crib at inappropriate times. We've discovered that Tobin really enjoys napping with Mommy, so it's been nice to catch a few naps myself, and it's great to know that he'll be sacked out when I wake up! I don't yet trust Arden to stay put, and I know I wouldn't be able to fall asleep with him, so I guess we'll have to wait to try that tactic out on Arden!

Another obsession for Tobin is Spiderman (or sometimes Batman or Superman, but Spiderman is the favorite). With that in mind, we got him a couple of Spidey items for his birthday. You'll have to wait to find out what they are...it's a surprise. ;-) The Spiderman thing is amusing to me, since really, Tobin has no idea who he is or what he does! But he enjoys walking around saying, "I'm SPIDERMAN!!"

I've seen Tobin mature a lot over this past year. He is still an energetic, loud little boy, but I love hearing his tender expressions of sympathy when a sibling gets hurt--and even more, I love that he's not always the one causing the pain! His Sunday school and AWANA teachers tell us often that he is polite and well-behaved, to which we say, "Whew! Thank you, Lord!"

I look forward to sharing some birthday stories after this weekend! I have other stuff to blog about, but it probably won't happen today.

April 07, 2006

School Update

We have now finished our third quarter of Charis' kindergarten year--only 9 weeks left of our Sonlight curriculum! I thought I would take a few moments to share how things have been going.

Bible--We continue to read our Bible stories during breakfast time. It seems to work the best for our family. We also review the kids' AWANA verses plus the home school verse of the week (taken from Right Choices).

Math--Charis is nearly 1/3 of the way through the Math-U-See Alpha book, having finished the Primer around the New Year (I forget exactly when!). Her latest lesson is adding with 9. The concept is taught in a fun way...the 9 wants very much to be a 10, and so he vacuums a unit away from the group being added to 9. Thus, 9 + 7 becomes (insert vacuuming noise here) 10 + 6, or 6 units and 1 ten, which is of course 16. She's doing pretty well with this, the first brand-new concept as of yet, since the book has primarily been reviewing concepts from the Primer (which is fine with me!). We decided to have me do the lessons and practice pages with her, and then Ted can oversee her tests so that he can keep up with what she's doing and be a little more involved.

Phonics--We are enjoying Phonics Pathways, or at least, I am! Though the reading exercises are well below her reading level--we just finished 2-letter consonant blends at the end of words, such as "lamp" and "best"--what I love are the "eye-robics" approach and the fact that she is grasping spelling without much effort! After nearly every lesson we do short dictation exercises. I choose either random words or else short sentences, and she writes them out with no help from me on the spelling. I've been amazed at how quickly she is picking things up...should I expect less from the daughter of an English teacher?!

Reading--Charis loves picking out level 2-3 readers from the library and would spend all day in her room reading if I would let her. Sometimes she is gracious enough to read to her brothers, and sometimes she reads to Mom and Dad. Her vocabulary is growing!

Literature--Lots and lots of great stories from our Sonlight collection!

History--We just started the Usborne book Then and Now (a part of our Sonlight package), which has already been a hit.

Science--We haven't really done much official science lately, though we did finish Usborne's What's Under the Sea? (another Sonlight item) a few weeks ago, and it continues to be a favorite. We did spend a lot of time over the last week picking weeds in our yard and examining ladybugs up close and personal, and we even invited one to live in a jar in our kitchen for a couple of days before letting her go. (All ladybugs around here are females! :-)

Guess that's about it! We're still having fun for the most part, though I have experienced some attitude issues here and there...I'll blog about some particular things later.

Sonlight Moment

The home school curriculum that we use, Sonlight, has a great forum for its customers. Lots of users post what we lovingly refer to as "Sonlight Moments," perhaps moments when kids suddenly get something, or incorporate their learning into their pretend games, etc. Basically they are moments that make you happy that you're home schooling, and happy (for us) that Sonlight has provided such great opportunities for us to spend time with our kids.

I posted our own recent Sonlight moment as a thank-you to Sonlight and thought I'd share here.

"Dear Sonlight,

While I'm waiting for my new catalog, I thought I would share this precious story with you. My 4 yo son was saying the blessing before breakfast a few days ago. He usually lets his older sister or me do breakfast prayers, as he prefers to say prayers at night. When he does, he thanks God for all the fun things we've done during the day. So when he began the morning prayer, it went something like this:

Tobin: "Dear God, thank you for this day, and, um...Mommy, what are we going to do today?"

Me, whispering: "School." (We didn't have anything else planned, and I was caught a little off guard!)

Tobin: "And thank you, God, that we get to do Sonlight reading. AMEN!"

My heart was so blessed by this prayer! Our pre-K core was purchased primarily for my daughter, but my sons adore cuddling on the couch and reading with us as well. I'm so thrilled that Tobin has benefited so much from SL and look forward to doing this core with him and his little brother again next year!

Thank you for providing such a wonderful curriculum!"-

April 04, 2006

Yay! A Good Day!

Whew! We had a very good but very full morning. School went perfectly this morning, and I got us all on task for chores as well. I began by telling the kids that from now on I will expect them to be dressed and have beds made either right before or right after breakfast. Tobin always changes immediately after waking, and he's pleased as punch that he can make his own bed now. Charis opted to eat breakfast in her jammies but it worked perfectly for her to change and make her bed while I got Arden settled in room time. I set a timer for 40 minutes for Tobin, giving him 5 minutes to clean the play area before his school time, and set a timer for Charis and me downstairs for 45 minutes. During that time we did a new math lesson (adding with 9!), a handwriting practice page (second to last page in her book!), and phonics (reading exercise followed by dictation, which I let her do on the white board for the first time, and I had to make her quit because she was having too much fun!).

Then Charis went to play in Arden's room, and I re-set the timer for 20 minutes for Tobin's school time. He did two pages in his Rod & Staff pre-school workbook, and then we did "Zac the Rat" and a couple of reading games on starfall.com. I let him keep playing on it while I went upstairs to put my contacts in, do a ponytail, and get my shoes and socks. Then I helped Arden and Charis clean the boys' room, which was pretty much trashed, but they did a good job, and we were soon on the couch reading Sonlight stories.

After that we went out to the front yard, and I took some sacks next door and pulled weeds for our neighbors! Their front yard is all rocks with one lone tree, but TONS of weeds! (I filled two paper grocery sacks plus one plastic sack!) I decided it would be a good opportunity to put Sunday's sermon on kindness into action, and I had talked to the kids about how we could help our neighbors, as the mom and dad both work and their one son is in day care (where she works, I believe).

I totally did not expect their garage door to open and the husband to come out while I was working!! I think he must have just woke up, because it didn't seem to phase him that I was hunched over his front yard with a weed in my hand! I said, "We're just pulling a few weeds for you, if that's all right!"

He mumbled, "Sure," grabbed the newspaper, and went back inside...I'm not sure he will even remember seeing me out there!! I almost quit then, feeling very silly, but I kept at it. The kids helped by bringing more sacks and entertaining me as they looked for ladybugs, but then they abandoned me to go play in the garage. I was at it for an hour and 15 minutes and finally got every weed pulled!! I took the opportunity to pray for their family while I was working. I don't know if anything will come of it, but I hope it was a blessing to them--they have surely received some kind of letter from the HOA with as bad as their yard was. Some of those weeds were 2 feet tall!!! I don't know why, but I just felt like the Lord laid it on my heart to do that for them, and it was a good lesson for me in sacrificial giving. I also hope it was a good lesson for the kids, even though they played practically the whole time. We prayed for the family when we thanked God for our lunch.

After we ate, we put sun block on and headed out again for a walk. We went on our usual route, and Charis and Tobin got pretty tired. I guess we need to go more regularly...it's been awhile since we've gone, and I think they "lost" a bit kind of like I "lost" a lot after not running for awhile! The wind kicked up towards the end and was blowing dust, so that was not fun. But we had a good story time together when we got home and cooled off, and Arden went right to bed. I let Tobin stay up to color, and I told him I would take a nap with him when I finished some work on the computer. He enjoys that, and it helps us both get some rest. Would you believe he and I slept for 2 hours?! I woke him and Arden up, the kids enjoyed some fruit snacks, and now they are playing quietly in the school room. Tobin was begging for me to read one of his favorite stories, "The Tub People," so I will quit here and go do just that!

Oh, Boy...

Why is it that every time I commit to working on writing the Bible study for Commission, I get slammed?! Yesterday the boys woke at 6 a.m. and never did go back to sleep, but they were the least of the problems of the day. I had to practically drag Charis out of bed at 8:15, wanting to get us on our school schedule and keep us on task for the day. I gave her 2 things she had to do before breakfast (which I am trying to make sure get done every day before breakfast): dress for the day and make her bed. I went to my room to dress myself and make our own bed, and she was downstairs before me. I asked if she had made her bed, and she said yes. We did our Bible stories and so on, and then when I was getting Arden settled for room time, I noticed her door was shut. I decided to just peek in, and sure enough, her bed looked exactly the same as it had when I left her room earlier. So I had to deal with two issues: disobedience and lying. We made it through that and had a pretty good school time. Because we had taken about 15-20 minutes to deal with the sin issues, I decided to skip the extra math practice sheet and just have her do her math test with Ted in the evening.

Meanwhile, my friend Sarah emailed to ask if we wanted to meet them at the park or else come over to her house. We ended up going to their house for lunch (I took cantaloupe and cookies) and had a good time...until Hannah had a major meltdown and Sarah had to deal with her own issues! I felt so bad for Sarah, but I didn't just want to ditch her and pick up our kids and head home. So I pushed Taran and Arden on the swings and played with the others in the backyard while Sarah tried to deal with Hannah.

We left shortly after that, and overall our exit went all right, though Charis did have a moment when she got "The Look" on her face when I told her to get off the swing. We got home, and she had 2 pairs of shoes in the van to bring in, which she did. She left her socks, however, so I asked her to please come get them and put them in the laundry basket. She went back to the van, crawled in, and came out, but as she came back in the house, where I was waiting for both her and Arden, she put her hands behind her back and wouldn't let me see them.

I asked, "Do you have your socks?" She nodded with a weird smile on her face. I told her to put them in the laundry basket, and she shuffled past me and waved her hands over the basket, but I could tell she hadn't put anything in. I looked inside, no socks. I asked her where her socks were. She wouldn't answer. I went back to the van and didn't see them where they were to begin with, so I told her, "All right, if you're being silly and have them in your shirt or shorts, that's a fine trick, but now it's time to obey Mommy." She didn't say anything, and I could tell by looking at her that they weren't on her person. I told her to get her socks, wherever they were. She crawled back in the van and reached behind Arden's seat (by the sliding door) and got the socks. She had come all the way out to the van, crawled inside, gotten her socks, only to wad them up and hide them!!! Why in the world didn't she just pick them up and put them in the laundry basket like I asked?! She expended the exact same amount of energy in disobeying as she would have if she had just obeyed! So, once again, we went up to her room and dealt with the disobedience/lying issue. I grounded her to her room for the whole afternoon.

It's so much simpler (both for her and for me) just to obey in the first place, rather than disobey and then lie about it afterwards. I talked to her about the fact that her sin would always find her out, that I ask God to help me know when she lies, and that even if I don't know right away that she has lied, God knows, and chances are I will find out, too.

Sigh. It's depressing and discouraging to have to deal with all these things, and I might add that I only got a grand total of 3 paragraphs written on the Commission study yesterday morning! Guess I need to pray up a bit more before I can work on this without all the spiritual attack!

April 01, 2006

Family Day

This Saturday was the first time in a long while that we were together all day! Between snowboarding trips and birthday parties, it seems we've been running in all directions for so long on the weekends. It was nice to have a day to sleep in...

Oh, wait. Did I say, "sleep in?!" Oh, no! We will have none of that! Our family day began at 6 a.m. with Tobin screaming to be let out of his room!! The boys' antics got out of control last night, so we shut their door. There is a safety cover on the door knob so they can't get out, and that usually makes them settle down to sleep. Unfortunately, it also makes for a difficult start to the next morning if they wake before we do! So much for getting some extra sleep. The boys have been waking early more often than not lately, so we're hoping that the time change tonight will benefit us greatly.

Charis slept through the ruckus, waking around 8:00. The boys managed to play semi-quietly while Ted and I did our quiet times, and then we began breakfast. Charis joined us while Ted showered, and we did our Bible story and memory verse review as is our usual breakfast custom. Then Ted "took over" watching the kids, who played together quite nicely all in all, while I retreated to my stamp room to prepare projects for my April demos. What fun! I even did a two-page scrapbook spread to show, the first scrapbook pages I have done since maybe early January! They also used up all the pictures I have available to scrap, aside from the ones that will go in our D.C. album. Guess we need to start sorting through our 16 months' worth of pictures that are ready to be printed! Our "to be developed" file is huge...

After my work time we polished off some leftovers for lunch, then drove to base for the third day in a row. Thursday I had a doctor's appointment, and Friday we met Ted for a BBQ lunch with his squadron.

I'll take a moment to brag about my hubby here...he was selected as the Flight Commander of the quarter (Jan-Mar) from his squadron!! He just found out yesterday. We also found out earlier in the month that he made the majors' list, so he'll be Major J sometime in the next year. We'll find out next month I believe exactly when his pin-on date will be. He got a pretty good line number, so we'll see.

Anyway, we drove to the base theater, which had an afternoon showing of Curious George. Kids 6 and under are free, and adults were only $3.50, making this possibly the cheapest outing we've been on in a long time, not counting the free events we try to take in! This was the boys' first time in a movie theater. Charis went last summer with Ted to see a re-showing of Jonah (the Veggie Tales version) for a kids' summer promotion at our theater in Maryland, but that's been it. We're pretty protective when it comes to movies and our kids. The reviews I had read of Curious George made it sound quite harmless, and it did end up being entirely appropriate for our whole family. The only thing that bugged me was that the man in the yellow hat was searching for a giant idol in the jungle. If they had referred to it as a statue, no biggie, but the idol thing got a bit old. My kids know what idols are from their Bible stories, though, so we did have a little discussion about it on the way home. Other than that, it was a fun movie, and it kept everyone's attention, which was good. We had two major popcorn spills, and I was afraid that Arden might become captivated by trying to rescue the morsels on the floor if he got bored with the movie, but that did not happen, thankfully.

The movie began at 1 p.m., so by the time we got home it was definitely well into nap time. I was tempted to skip nap time altogether, but Ted insisted the kids should lie down at least a little while. I decided to try napping in bed with Tobin (who naps on our bed), and we actually both fell fast asleep within minutes! Ted woke everyone up at 4:30, and I made a simple dinner of soup and sandwiches.

After we had cleaned up dinner, Charis asked to make number cookies. She had spotted the set that Grandma K gave her for her 5th birthday--we had never used them, and I couldn't think of a reason to say no! So all 5 of us gathered around the island in the kitchen and whipped up a batch of sugar cookie dough. Then the kids took turns cutting (or pounding, depending on which kid you're imagining) numbers and shapes. We have a nice assortment of numerals 0-9, plus a delicious collection of triangles, pentagons, hexagons, circles, and stars. Only one square made it to the cookie sheet.

While we were waiting for the dough to be ready to roll out (it had to sit in the freezer for 15 minutes), I decided to see how tall the kids are, thinking they could eat their height. Charis is 42", Tobin is 40", and Arden is 36 1/2". Wow! It's been a long time since we measured them. I wish I had a growth chart for them, but it's not been something I've made a huge priority.

After the first batch came out and we tasted our first cookies, Ted began bath time with the kids while I continued baking and cleaning. Then it was time for stories, prayers, and singing, and now the kids are in bed. Ted just finished his book, so I'll close here and spend some time with him.