April 26, 2012

Finally...A Writing Assignment

I was in desperate need of a nap yesterday, so after the kids were done with their lunches, I gave orders for the school kids to watch two short DVDs from the library (bios of Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver) and then write a paragraph about what they learned about one of the men.  Here is Arden's unedited paragraph, which makes me giggle as much as it shows me what we need to work on!

"thomas edison was a very great inventer.  He invented many machines like movies iron ore sorter etc.  He also had a not so big problem, a hearing problem.  As I say a not so big problem, it was'nt a problem at all.  he couldn't hear but that made him concentrate.  also He hired george carver, a black man.  both of them were great inventors, one made food and one made machines."

[I know Arden knows basic capitalization rules...since he printed his assignment, I think his lack of correct capitalization reflects more on his handwriting habits than anything, but there it is!]

April 22, 2012

Kenna's Decision

Over the last few weeks I've been thinking and praying about Kenna's awareness about her need for a Savior.  With Easter coming and going, we had opportunities to talk about WHY Jesus died on the cross.  And Charis had even commented that Kenna was older than Charis herself was when she prayed to ask Jesus into her heart.  Charis recently completed a Child Evangelism Fellowship training course and had asked if she could sometime go through the wordless book presentation with Kenna to see if she was ready.  Of course I told her that was a wonderful idea!

Well, tonight when I was tucking Kenna into bed, I asked her what she learned in Sunday school.  We usually try to discuss that around our lunch table, but today's lunch was pretty chaotic with getting leftovers heated for everyone and whisking Charis out the door for call time for her show, then the rest of the crew out to SEE the show while the little boys and I stayed home to nap.

Anyway, it worked well that we hadn't had that discussion yet!  Kenna told me that she learned about the woman who wiped Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.  Our conversation then went something like this:

"Why did she do that, Kenna?"

"Because she loved Jesus so much."

"That's right.  We can't wash Jesus' feet now because He's in heaven, but we can still show Him that we love Him by loving and serving other people."

"How can we give Jesus stuff?"

"Jesus doesn't need any of our stuff!  He already has everything--but what we CAN give Jesus is our heart!  Someday when you're ready, you can pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart."

"I want to pray now!"

We went back downstairs and told Grandma and Grandpa K, who are here visiting, what was going on, and Charis, who was reading on the couch, went and got her wordless book.  We sat together while Charis went through the pages and made sure Kenna understood everything.  We (Kenna and I) recently had a conversation about the gospel message...in fact, we've had a few of these conversations lately!  Now that I think about it, there was a touching parenting moment recently that I believe God used to prepare Kenna's heart for tonight's decision...I'll write about that in a moment.

Kenna listened to Charis (being just a bit silly now and then, but mostly I think because she was in a hurry to just go ahead and pray!), and then we prayed together.  What a joy to share this moment with her AND her big sister AND her grandparents!  I'm still in awe over how it all came together!

So about a week or so ago I discovered Kenna eating out of Lucan's box of Easter jelly beans.
1.  She did not have permission to be eating candy.
2.  She stole Lucan's candy.
3.  She then lied about eating Lucan's candy, even though the evidence was CLEARLY hard to mistake!

I took her up to her room, and we had a very precious time of conversation.  I felt God impressing on me that this was NOT the time to punish her, even though her actions clearly deserved punishment.  She knew she had done wrong!  She was very tearful and repentant (probably more sorry she got caught, but still, I believe she was indeed sad about her sin!).  I told her that because she had sinned, she deserved to be punished...and the Spirit led me to tell her the good news about how God reaches down with grace and mercy on all of us, who deserve eternal punishment, and instead gave us Jesus, who bore our sins on the cross.  I made it clear that USUALLY, in our house, anyone who disobeyed, stole, and lied would have been disciplined!  But to show her a picture of what God did for us through Jesus, I chose NOT to give Kenna that punishment.

Thankfully, I am pleased to report that she has, to date, refrained from repeating said sinful behavior, and I would like to think that our little talk made an impact on her that helped lead her to tonight's decision.  What a joy and a blessing to lead our little ones to Christ!  Another child joins the kingdom of heaven, and the angels are partying tonight!

April 10, 2012

A Day in the Life--Tuesday

Up bright and early today...heard a child coughing at 3:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep, so I did some work in the kitchen for awhile before making some coffee.  But not just any coffee...Anchor Bay Roasts coffee!  I just have one cup, so I use my cute little French press.  Real cream from real cows and local raw honey make it extra yummy.

It's Tuesday, Bible study day, and I have one more day of homework that I need to finish.  So, after the coffee is ready, I sit on my comfy bed and work.  I keep my planner with me for those wandering "Oh yeah, I need to..." thoughts.

After showering it's time to wake up my little honey bear to nurse.  It still amazes me that I have to wake Zaden up for his breakfast every day!  After he's finished, it's time to make breakfast for the rest of the crew and herd us out the door to church.  We zip along, amazingly leaving the house a bit early.  Good thing, because there's a detour and we have to go out of our way to get there!

These lovely ladies are at my table!  Jackie, the lady to the right of me, is our table leader, with Candie, front right, as her assistant.  A couple of ladies are missing.  I love these women and appreciate their wisdom and insights!  Meanwhile, the older kids are working on independent school assignments while the younger ones are in child care.

Lunch time!  Zaden is so excited to have banana mush!

After some kids have finished wolfing down their food, all who remain at the table are the slow eaters (i.e. the readers), to include myself at times, as it may be the only chance I get to glance at the paper.

While I clean up the lunch mess, Lucan makes a "bee-yoo-tee-ful" tent.  ("Beautiful" is one of his new favorite words.)

Meanwhile, Zaden is having all kinds of fun on the floor!  He's especially happy in this picture, because I just changed a huge poop that resulted in an outfit change as well.  And it was double "doo-ty," since Lucan also had a poopy diaper.  Sigh.  I really need to get that kid potty trained.

After I put the little boys down for their naps, the older kids and I go over their school checklists from the morning.  We check everything except their Story of the U.S.A. workbook, which we'll go over together tomorrow (I hope).  Charis needed help remembering how to figure out the circumference of a circle, but once we reviewed the formula, she was good.  Arden did well with his digraph practice in his phonics book--hooray!  The little bit of instruction I gave him before we left stuck in his brain!

Today was my day to get milk from the farm.  I totally forgot to take a picture while I was actually AT the farm, so these 5 jars will have to suffice.  I also dropped off a couple of stamp club orders when I took Julia's cooler of milk to her.  (We trade off...a milk carpool, if you will.)

 And of course it wouldn't be a very fun day (for the boys) if some kind of video game weren't allowed!  They each turned in "media chips" to play games on my computer.

The older kids spent time playing outside (except for Charis, who stayed inside to knit and read) before dinner.  Don't let this picture fool you--we have been eating most of our meals at the smaller table in the kitchen, where most of the chaos is, but it was easier to eat here because this table was completely clear!  Normally our table area looks like we're trying to eat and do school all at the same time!  I call this dinner Easter, Part Two...leftover pulled pork and squash bake from Sunday, plus steamed green beans and almond flour biscuits.

While I'm cleaning up dinner, I hear Lucan saying, "Here, Baby Zaden...here, Baby Zaden...here, Baby Zaden..."  And when I peek in the family room, I see that Lucan is very kindly handing Zaden every single toy from his toy basket!

My friend Jen H comes over to visit for a bit in the evening, and it is so nice to have another adult to share the evening with!  Before too long the three littles are in bed, the boys are playing in the basement, and Charis is curled up reading on the couch where Jen and I are visiting and making plans for the homeschool convention we'll be attending together next week.  (Charis didn't have rehearsal tonight--the past several Tuesdays she has been at the theater in the evenings.)

Since Jen is here, we forego our read-aloud time, and I shoo everyone to bed shortly after 9:00 so I can get Zaden to nurse one last time before turning in myself.

April 08, 2012

Zaden Update

It's a little late to do Zaden's 6-month update, I suppose!  Here are his stats from his 6-month check-up:

15 lbs, 2 oz (7th percentile)
26.6 in (46th percentile)

Since his weight had been in the 13th percentile during his 4-month check-up, the pediatrician asked us to bring him back in another month for a weight check.  Thankfully, she said we could do it in conjunction with Lucan's 3-year well-child visit; otherwise I may have just blown it off.  I wasn't concerned--Zaden had just started solids literally two days before this check-up, and he was (and is) nursing just fine, usually 5 times a day.

So anyway, we took him back in last week, and his weight is up to 16 lbs, 4 oz, which puts him in the 9th percentile for weight now.  I don't remember how long he is, and unfortunately, they didn't write it down for me this time and my hands were full with the two little ones.  All I heard was that I don't need to bring him back for another weight check!

This is a happy Zaden in the huge high chair that our friend Chris brought over.  I LOVE this thing!  He had definitely outgrown his swing, which was what we were using for feedings before this--rather difficult, since he learned that he could jerk his body and make the swing move, resulting in food being smeared all over his face.  Now I can plunk him in here and let him play with toys while I get his food prepared, and the chair has wheels, so we can easily move it.

The foods Zaden has tried so far include avocados, squash, carrots, parsnips, apples, bananas, and pears.  I've used chicken broth as well as breast milk mixed with the rice cereal; he really seems to enjoy the broth.  I need to puree some green veggies and start him on those; just haven't had time yet.

We're still working on figuring out the sippy cup.  Kenna was sweetly helping him with this tonight, and I managed to snap a picture.  (Yes, it's a pink and purple sippy cup.  It's the only one we currently have with handles!)  I think it's harder for him to figure it out because he hasn't had a bottle at all since he was very, very tiny and the doctor had told us we needed to supplement with formula.  (Thankfully that didn't last long at all!)

As you can see from that picture, he is sitting up very well.  I absolutely LOVE this stage, where the baby can sit up and play with toys in front of him but can't move anywhere yet!  His personality so far seems to be very similar to Arden, who was content to sit on his blanket and let the world come to him rather than Kenna's tendency to take on the world herself.  (I still remember Kenna trying to sit up using her abdomen muscles even from as young as 3-4 months old!  Zaden has no such interest!)

Zaden's preferred sleep position is on his tummy, and I still often find him sucking his thumb when I go to wake him.  I love how he had his ankles crossed in this picture with his little butt sticking up!  He doesn't seem to suck his thumb quite as often, though--only when he's sleepy, like when I wake him and he instinctively knows he's going to be nursing, he'll find his thumb before I sit down.  He still is a champion sleeper, taking 3 naps a day plus sleeping a good 9 or so hours at night.  I am extremely thankful for this!

Overall, Zaden is one of the happiest, easiest, most laid-back little guys I've ever known!  He adores his siblings and rewards them with shrieks of laughter, blown raspberries, and all kinds of fun responses.  He doesn't have any teeth yet.  He recognizes his daddy's voice and gets excited when he can hear Ted on Skype.  We look forward to celebrating Zaden's 9-month birthday by having Daddy HOME...or at least close to it!

Homeschool Update

Urg.  This blog is so far behind now!  It's Easter Sunday, and I find myself having had a 40-minute nap with a bit of time before Zaden's next feeding, so I'll do what I can to update things.  This first post will be an overview of what we've been up to on the homeschool front.

The one thing we've been able to plug away with, even if I personally can't be involved in a school activity, is math.  Thank the good Lord for Math-U-See!  Charis is nearing the end of the the Epsilon book, while Tobin is closing in on finishing the first 1/3 of the same book.  Arden is almost 2/3 of the way through his Delta book.  I feel that I have not interacted all that well with the kids on their math skills, so I can only hope and pray that they are learning well enough on their own with the videos!  Thankfully I have pretty good math skills myself, so I've been able to reinforce some of the things I've seen them struggle with.  Mostly, though, it's just practice, practice, practice!  Kenna is starting to pick up her primer book again to "do school," which is probably a good thing since she just turned 5.  And one of Lucan's very favorite activities is playing with the math blocks--he reminds me so much of Arden at this age!

I am SO grateful that Tobin and Charis are such eager readers!  Not only do they fly through their assigned books for Sonlight, but they have done so much extra reading on their own just from our nearly weekly trips to the library.  I have told Charis that we need to take our suitcase on rollers for her--she loads up on so many books each trip!  Compared to these two, Arden is more of a "reluctant reader," but it's not that he hates reading; when he finds a book about a football player, for example, or a new graphic novel that interests him, he'll curl up and read as well.  But...he thinks his trip to the library is complete when he finds 2 or 3 books, and he definitely would rather be in motion than sitting and reading.

Sadly, our writing assignments have been the most neglected this year.  I'm thankful that Charis, my oldest student, is at least self-motivated to write poems, journal entries, or other creative writing projects on her own.  I plan to have the kids keep detailed journals during our travels this summer so they can keep those to look back on.  I truly wish I could be more on top of things, but I've had to realize that this year some things just had to go, and while I wouldn't have expected writing assignments to be one of those things...they just are.  I sit down now and then and go over things like the "Grammar Gems" and the application activities in the language arts worksheets with them (often doing several weeks' worth in one sitting!), but we certainly aren't doing a very thorough job of that.

And spelling.  Sigh.  I haven't gone over a spelling list with my kids since...well, I don't even remember!  The thing is, my kids are GREAT spellers naturally--even Arden, who reads the least, surprises me by knowing how to spell most words I toss at him.  (Sometimes it's the very simple ones he misses, like "realy" instead of "really.")  So again, I'm giving myself some grace with that and hoping we can catch up once we return to "normal life," which may not be for another year, ha!

At last, something I've kept up with!  This is because the kids all really enjoy Sonlight's core.  My goal for this year was to get through half of our Sonlight curriculum (year 2 of American History), and we are on track to do that!  We are in the middle of week 16--hooray!  So getting through week 18 should be very doable, and maybe--just maybe--we'll keep going.  The time period we're studying is very exciting, with all the inventions and industry and progress.  Yet as we've discovered, human nature doesn't improve just because working conditions do!  So many good opportunities for discussion!  As a nod to the period we've been reading about, the kids and I are enjoying the Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman series checked out from the library.

This is another area I've had to scale back on.  While we are doing fairly well at keeping up with the reading--we're staying with the same week we are on in history--I've set aside the experiments and flat out told Ted that he gets to do those in a "Science Camp" week with the kids when he returns!!  And some of the reading is a bit over the kids' heads, so I breeze through some things on occasion.  Still, progress...little by little.  And they'll be reintroduced to the concepts later down the road, so I'm not terribly concerned.

We're in the middle of reading 1 Samuel, and the kids were working on memorizing Psalm 19.  We got a little derailed, so we'll probably have to go back and review that.  But again...they do a lot of memorizing for AWANA, so...kind of hard to get too uptight about that!  And God has been so gracious at giving us so many life lessons during this deployment!  We find ourselves stopping to pray together so often--for wisdom, for forgiveness, for healing, for provision...really, we're living out Deuteronomy 6:4-9, purely by God's grace and mercy.  I'm so thankful.  More than anything in our curriculum, this deployment has grown the kids AND myself in ways I never would have believed!  Glory to our God!

One might argue that this whole year has been full of extracurriculars, ha!  Cleaning the house and taking care of the baby--home ec, right?!  But, for official activities, the older three continue to enjoy piano lessons weekly.  Our dear piano teacher, Mrs. D, is already so sad at the thought of her three students going away after July!  We are praying God will lead us to another good and godly piano teacher.  I am so grateful for what she has taught the children--Charis is starting to learn improvisation in the hymnal and is doing a fabulous job.  It brings tears to my eyes to hear her!  And while the initial excitement has admittedly worn off a bit for the boys (especially now that the weather has been better), they are still plugging away and doing well.  I think it will be good for them to have an opportunity to perform at the May homeschool meeting.

Charis is in the throes of the spring play, adding another production to her resume, and the boys continue with karate, likely doing another belt test in the next month or so.  And the three attend P.E. classes when the schedule allows.

In addition, Charis has had the opportunity to do a couple of unique classes recently.  Child Evangelism Fellowship, an organization supported by our church missions outreach, offered a 6-week class on evangelism to homeschool students.  Charis has done very well with this; it blessed my heart to see her reaction when I asked her if she was interested in attending the classes.  She has been diligent with learning the Bible verses and practicing sharing the gospel.  I know the Lord will use this in her life to bless others and draw them to His kingdom.  The 6 classes have met for an hour and a half Wednesday mornings at the CEF office downtown, giving the other kids and me the opportunity to explore the Boonshoft Museum or area parks.

Also on Wednesdays Charis has been attending a 6-week American Sign Language class that our friend Jessica is offering--Jessica is a homeschool teenager who lives just down the street, so at least I don't have to drive Charis to that!  So, Wednesdays have been busy--we do AWANA in the evenings as well--but I figure the activities are good and are just for a short season, and hey, this is why we homeschool anyway, right?!

I suppose I could add to Charis's activity roster...she has had a couple of informal knitting lessons from a friend of ours from church and has gotten herself a new hobby!  She has checked out books from the library and always seems to have some kind of knitting project going!  If you'd like to order one of these "knitted babes," let me know, since she's looking for ways to earn extra money!  And that finally wraps up this edition of the Homeschool News. :-)