June 23, 2010

Over the River and Through the Woods

I'm writing from Wisconsin, where the kids and I are visiting my folks for a few days. We left by 8:30 a.m. yesterday, which was a miracle in and of itself, considering I wasn't in bed until 12:30 a.m.! God was so good. After a frustrating Monday, a day I had set aside specifically to get READY for the trip (but sadly somehow ended up completely different from the vision I had in mind), I felt God's hand all over our trip on Tuesday. The kids were incredibly good. We did make a stop as soon as I got onto I-70 for Kenna to go potty, but other than that, we only had 3 major stops, all very much planned.

A little over halfway through, we had a picnic lunch at a rest stop, and then we didn't stop until we got on the other side of Chicago, where I treated the kids to ice cream and myself to a latte so I could stay awake for the remainder of the drive. There was hardly any bickering or whining, which probably speaks more to the fact that I let them watch a couple of DVDs from the library than to the wonderful character of the kids, LOL. Seriously, though, they were wonderful, and I was so thankful for a good experience. About the only thing I would have changed if I could was to have Lucan nap more than 20 minutes all day! He was SO tired and over-stimulated by bedtime that we had quite a time getting him to go to sleep in a different bed/room.

But thankfully, once he got to sleep, he slept soundly until 6:30 this morning, which is more than I can say for myself, ha! I shared a bed with Charis, and I will not be doing that again anytime soon, LOL! She is a KICKER! Thank goodness I had the good sense to reserve a cabin at a nearby retreat center for us to sleep at the next 3 nights! Mom and Dad's house is kind of small for our brood. The only bad thing is that Lucan is now used to the crib, having slept there last night and taken two very good naps there today, so tonight may be interesting...but we actually have access to the adjoining room at camp, as no one is in that side, so I think I'll just put his pack-n-play there so he can cry and fuss if he needs to.

I was able to get my 70th P90X workout in this morning! Woohoo! The big kids are out fishing with my dad and my brother, and apparently they have all caught something! Mom was just on the phone with them. They have never been fishing before, so I know they are all going to explode with tales of ones that did and did not get away when they return this evening. Mom said Dad is having as much fun as the kids, as I'm sure he is! I convinced Kenna to stay here and let her watch a movie so that I could get a nap while Lucan was down. I knew she wouldn't stay put to fish, and she would have probably made the experience less than pleasant for the others who were there. She and Lucan are having fun here at Grandma's house anyway.

We'll be here two more days, and then Mom will drive with me back to Ohio. I'll be so glad to have another adult on the drive! It's been good to get away, even if I haven't had a whole lot of down time. I was kind of hoping to work on Lucan's digital baby book that I had intended to create for the grandmas for Mother's Day, but let's just say my free time is pretty limited! This is definitely a working vacation! But it is fun to get away and be with my family. I know the days of having to oversee little ones will not last forever, so I'm enjoying the moments I get to stroke a fussy baby's back or play a game of chess with a boy who would otherwise prefer to be out playing with his friends.

June 15, 2010

Kenna Says...

"Mom, can you pwease cut my fingernails? They're really big."

June 13, 2010

Longaberger Homestead Trip

Last fall Charis and I were supposed to go on a tour of the Longaberger Homestead for her birthday outing, but unfortunately we had the flu and had to cancel. When my consultant sent out the information for her summer trip on June 12, I decided it might be a good time to see if we could finally have our girls' day out. It actually was our only free Saturday of the month, so we got up early and prepared for a day away.

I drove our minivan and had two other ladies as passengers, whom I hadn't met until we got together for the road trip. They were sweet, older ladies, very chatty, so the two-hour ride passed quickly. In fact, it passed so quickly that a policeman pulled me over, ha! I saw him sitting in the median and slowed down (yikes, I WAS going pretty fast), but alas, he pulled out behind me and started flashing his lights. Would you believe this was the FIRST time I had ever been pulled over?! If it had happened a decade or two ago, I'm sure I would have burst into tears, but all I could do was chuckle. I knew I deserved a ticket...I was in a rush to get to the Home Office and meet up with Kay before she left for the Homestead, and we were close to making it on time.

The officer asked where we were headed, and I told him. He asked about our Colorado plates and my Ohio driver's license, so of course I told him we're a military family. He was very kind and polite, and I made sure I responded as respectfully as possible. (After all, I did have my daughter with me plus two strangers, tee hee!) He went back to do his "checking," and obviously I was squeaky clean. So when he came back and let me off with a warning to slow down, I thanked him profusely and made sure my cruise was set for the speed limit from then on! Thank you, Lord, for your mercy passed on to me through the policeman!

The ladies and I all had a good laugh, and off we went. We briefly stopped at the Home Office (a building shaped like a basket) to use the restroom and quickly look around, and then we went on to the Homestead. We met up with Kay and got our name tags, etc., and then we looked around the factory store a little bit. Charis was interested in making a basket, so we signed her up for a 3 p.m. appointment and went to play basket bingo. It was sunny and HOT, and Charis and I huddled under her umbrella for some shade. No wins for us that round, so we checked out the face painting (Charis got her hand painted) and then met the other ladies for our lunch.

Another round of bingo followed, during which Charis actually won! She got to pick out of the kids' prizes and chose a darling Boyd's bear. It was raining by then, so we scurried inside to look around at the shops. I bought two little Americana decorations and spent a whopping $10, LOL. Then we sat in on the first bit of the next bingo round, won nothing, and then scooted over for her basket-making experience. This is her finished basket! Didn't she do great?!

We hadn't realized it, but since this weekend was a special one at Longaberger, because she made a basket, Charis also got to make a wooden flower in J.W.'s Workshop. So we went back across the campus to the workshop only to find that the next available time slot wasn't for a half hour. Perfect time to go get ice cream! We walked around, took some pictures, and enjoyed our ice cream, and then she made her final project before we joined our car mates for the final round of bingo. It was a huge round, with tons of BIG baskets given away, but alas, no one in our group won anything. Still, it was a very fun day, despite the heat, rain, and humidity. The rain was intermittent enough that we really were not out in it very much at all.

We didn't get home until nearly 9 p.m., and Charis was so excited about all the fun she had had that I'm sure she didn't fall asleep for awhile after we tucked her in bed! Not only did she win a bear and make a basket, but she had also gotten a little basket as a door prize from Kay (I got a nice picture frame) and a cute denim bag that our lunch came in. She felt overjoyed with all her new stuff, but making her own basket was definitely the highlight for her.

To see some more pictures, you can go to the Facebook album here.

Summer, Week 1

It seems as if I always want to begin each post with "Wow, time sure is flying!" And while I hate to be repetitive...it really does seem that time is speeding by. Our first week of summer was a fairly good mix of fun and friends, as well as some work. Our fun included a few bike rides, going to a park with a water play area to picnic and play with friends, visiting the library, shopping at the dollar store, and hosting our family community Friday night. I found myself on the floor playing with Lucan, reading and cuddling with Kenna, playing chess with Tobin and Arden, attempting to play badminton with Charis, and standing just out of sight, watching my children at various times, listening to their sweet voices, marveling at how they've grown in 1, 3, 6, 8, or 9 years.

We fumbled our way through Week 1 of the National Bible Bee study, somewhat figuring out how we want to tackle this huge project. I've learned that while Charis is perfectly capable of (and happy with) independent study--she disappears for an hour to a quiet nook and works thoroughly on her 4 pages for the day--Tobin and Arden need a LOT more guidance. We now work through the first two pages together, all three of us, and then I may or may not have them do the rest independently, depending on how focused they seem to be at the time! The Bible memory passages for last week were:

Genesis 1:1-2 (They've all memorized verse 1 in AWANA.)
Genesis 1:26-28
Genesis 2:15-17
Genesis 12:1-3
Exodus 20:3-12

Charis knows them all, Tobin knows most of them, and Arden knows 5. But it's OK! Arden is doing the Timothy track, which means he is "supposed" to learn 100 verses to Charis and Tobin's 250. And honestly? If they don't get through the whole list, why worry? They are learning God's Word! Any of His Truth that they put in their hearts is bonus, I say! After a whole school year of memorizing various Scripture for AWANA, Sonlight, and my own character education emphases, I know they have a great store of truth already hidden in their hearts. The fact that we are intensely studying the book of Colossians as a family is just exciting in and of itself!

Summer is also, in my mind, a perfect time to ORGANIZE this HOUSE!! Last week we tackled the armoire where the boys keep their school supplies. Much trash was collected and disposed of, and we now have LOTS of space. I'm sure that will not last long, LOL. And while I had hoped to also tackle the school desk (which is currently in my room, sigh) and put away our finished Sonlight supplies, that, alas, did not happen. So it remains on the to-do list, along with organizing my closet (namely the Operation Christmas Child supplies that are stacking up in bags). The kids did get their rooms pretty clean, but since I wasn't directly overseeing that work, it probably is not done to my standards, i.e. I'm sure there are still little (and big) pieces of whatever lurking behind dressers and in closets.

Week 2 of Summer begins tomorrow...and ideally, it will come with a bit more structure. I'm not sure I can handle having kids eating breakfast from 7:00 (Kenna) - 10:00 (Charis, my sleeper-inner)! And we MUST continue with at least some math work. Charis's long division skills are fairly precarious, and I want her to keep working on it so she can be confident in knowing that she can do it. But...we do have a full line-up of fun activities, so we'll see how much work actually happens!

June 09, 2010

Simply Summer

Yesterday was an all around good day. I found myself on multiple occasions thinking about how much I truly enjoy being around my kids--while that's a general truth, there are days when I secretly wish I could put them (or me!) on a bus! So days like yesterday really are a gift, when everything "clicks" and I truly feel Spirit-filled. What a blessing! All too often I am me-centered instead of Christ-centered, and my responses are less than "fruity" (Galatians 5:22-23).

We didn't do anything spectacular. The specialness of the day came from interacting with my kids, not feeling pressured by any time constraints, and taking the time to marvel at how God is working in their lives. We spent some sweet moments around the breakfast table discussing and practicing passages for Bible Bee memory work. Then we went off to the library to get our summer reading logs before school let out. Unfortunately, I did not realize that the library hours have been cut and are not really in an intuitive pattern--we were there at 10:30, and it didn't open until noon. Since Lucan had just awakened from an early nap, I hated to pack everyone up and just go back home, so I drove to the Dollar Tree.

It's been a couple of months since we did some shopping for Operation Christmas Child, and the kids are always excited to shop for their one "free" item that I let them pick out. They were so well-behaved, and I truly enjoyed being with them and listening to them interact, pointing out items that a sibling might enjoy, and talking excitedly about what they might do with this or that. We passed a couple of ladies who were talking animatedly and completely ignoring their three children, who were jumping out at people at the end of the aisles and waving flags vigorously, making much noise in the process. I skipped that aisle, and we continued on. All the kids were quietly walking along with me, not grabbing things or fighting (which does happen--don't get me wrong!), and we passed an elderly lady who stopped me and complimented me on the kids' behavior, having just passed the rowdy bunch a couple of aisle back herself.

We finished our shopping, maneuvering our two carts through the check-out line with minimal disturbance, and then we took a vote and decided to go back to the library before going home for lunch.

I actually got a book for me! I plan to read Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas, having watched the movie with Ted over the weekend. The movie, by the way, is very good--if you haven't seen it, rent it or borrow it! The kids did well at the library also, and we happily drove home and looked forward to our reading time in the afternoon.

As Lucan napped and the older kids spread out around the house to enjoy their new books, Kenna sat on my lap and we read for 1/2 hour together. I realized that it had been a long time since I had read more than one book to her at a sitting, and I relished the time to cuddle her and interact with her without feeling rushed to get somewhere. She was so sleepy, but alas, she did not nap. I fear her napping days are just about over! But she ended up helping me make bread and prepare dinner, so at least she wasn't whining or getting into trouble!

After dinner Charis and I went to the PEACH used curriculum sale. I spent a whoppin' $7.50, and I got a lot of great stuff, including quite a bit of free items. Charis took her spending money and found some things she wanted as well. We stopped by Walmart on the way home to get a few things, and then I treated us to drinks at Sonic. It's always fun to treat Charis--she gets so excited over small things and is verbally thankful. She kept exclaiming what a fun girls' night out we were having, and my heart was full after spending time with her, too.

We needed summer; I realize that now. I was getting too caught up in "doing" and not taking enough time for "being."

June 04, 2010

Another Fabulous Year with Sonlight

Wow...today we actually completed Sonlight's Core 2! Did we do everything? Well, no...we didn't even come close to doing ALL the science experiments; there were a number of writing assignments that I opted not to assign; there were a few writing assignments that kids started and never finished; there are some activity sheets that are completely blank; and there is even one book from the Read-Aloud pile that we flat out didn't have time for when it was scheduled. (We plan to read it this summer.) And frankly, I did skip a few (but a very few) of the poems that looked like they would bore the kids (and me).

But, we did get a GREAT overview of world history, picking up from where we left off in Core 1 with the early Middle Ages and continuing through the 20th century. We ignited curiosity about new people, places, eras, and inventions. We had lots of discussions, laughed ourselves silly, and had opportunities to incorporate God's truth and His passion for people into a variety of lessons. We prayed for countries and people groups we had never heard of before, improved our geography and map skills, and memorized a lot of Bible verses, including at least 3 whole chapters in Psalms.

So when I think of Core 2, this is what will come to mind:

Minus, perhaps, Kenna's totally cheesy grin and flash of underwear. Sigh. Guess that picture won't be submitted to Sonlight for them to consider using for next year's catalog cover.

June 02, 2010

Memorial Day Guests

We thoroughly enjoyed getting to visit with Brian and Joy and their kids, Josh, Ian, and Eliana. Ian is just a couple of months older than Charis, and Kenna is a few months older than Eliana. It was a short but good visit, and unfortunately, the only pictures I got on my camera were right as they were leaving! Joy got some on hers when we were at Young's the night before.

June 01, 2010

Summer Adventure

This created quite a stir at our house today! Our family is participating in the National Bible Bee, which means we will be doing an in-depth study of the book of Colossians together. Tobin and Charis are eligible to compete in the local bee at Cedarville University in August--the primary group is ages 7-10. As participants, they received their own Bibles, memory verse cards (250!!), t-shirt, pin, and student notebook. Ted and I each got a parent notebook as well. It looks like there are 5 days' worth of quiet times/study times each week, with a family "bonfire" activity to wrap things up before going on to the next week. With 12 weeks ahead of us, it will be a full summer of study indeed!

The kids are beyond excited. I was a little sad for Arden, who actually cried when he realized he didn't have any materials. I guess I should have paid the reduced rate for him to be a participant, but not a competitor--I didn't realize how much he was going to miss out on! I figured he would be able to share and learn the Bible verses with us, read along with us, and so on--I had no idea the kids were getting all this stuff!! It broke my heart to see him so upset, but he bounced back by the end of the evening. I told him I'm giving tickets for ANYONE who memorizes the Bible verses, and I know he'll earn just as many as Charis and Tobin. :-)

More info to come as we begin this adventure!