January 30, 2014

Over Halfway--A Celebration Meal!

Last week we finished our unit study of India using Sonlight's Eastern Hemisphere core. That took us over halfway through the 36 weeks of this curriculum, and since we had "been" in India for quite a long time, we decided a celebration was in order. I had the kids pick a project from the "Choose Your Own Adventure" section of their Eastern Hemisphere notebook pages (we have only done those with the countries we spent more than a week or two on!) to present to the family at the end of the unit.

Charis memorized the first 8 stanzas (translated into English) of a poem by a famous Indian author. Tobin chose to research the Indus Valley civilization and present a report. And Arden decided (after scratching a research project on kites) that cooking was a FANTASTIC option!

It worked out well that Ted was off work on Monday, so we had our big meal at lunchtime since Tobin was going to attend his first Boy Scout meeting with Ted in the evening. It turned out sooooo yummy! We made Chicken Tandoori (recipe from a Sonlight cookbook) and naan (same cookbook), plus hummus for dipping the bread in as well as Indian Potatoes from a recipe I just searched for online. Everything was fabulous! We will definitely make these dishes again!

January 12, 2014

Preparing Parachutes

A friend of mine told me last year about a neat outreach opportunity through Voice of the Martyrs. She and her family had ordered a pack containing material and instructions for putting together 10 parachutes that would then be used to drop Bibles and Christian literature over dangerous, terrorist-controlled territory in Colombia. I tucked the info in the back of my mind, thinking it would be a great project for our family to do sometime.

It wasn't until a number of months later that I actually put in an order for a parachute kit. I'm embarrassed to say that it was even months after THAT before we finally sat down to do the project!

But I'm pleased to report that IT IS FINISHED! At least, one pack of 10 parachutes has been assembled and shipped off to VOM. Woohoo! I thought I'd write about our experience in case other families or groups might like to try this as well.

The kits are $35. There is a DVD clip, approximately 25 minutes or so, taken from a full-length documentary. We watched the DVD first, and even though it warned that it may not be appropriate for children, we saw nothing graphic that made us concerned about Kenna, our almost 7-year-old, who was the youngest one watching. (We're thinking maybe the warning stems from images from the full-length movie?) Anyway, it gave a good overview of why VOM does this project to begin with as well as some insight into the success they have with people coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We're looking forward to receiving a copy of the full-length documentary that is promised to those who return a box...then we can see the rest of the story!

After the video, we were ready to begin. We put Grandma, a math teacher who was here for Christmas, to work helping us measure and draw 34" circles onto the fabric provided. Rhonda and Ted worked on that while Tobin, Arden, and Kenna measured and cut ribbon into 9-foot segments. Each parachute needed 3 ribbons. After the circles were drawn, we had to mark the centers and 6 dots around the edges, so that the ribbons could be attached forming 6 equal sections.

Now it was time for Charis's expertise! She set up her sewing machine and sewed the ribbon to the parachutes. Kenna and I pinned the ribbons down for her. The kits did include fabric glue, but we decided it was better to sew the ribbons on rather than have to wait overnight for the drying process.

As it turned out, the project took portions of a few days' worth of work.  It could have been done in one setting, I'm sure, if we had started earlier in the day and either had more pins (we could only pin 2 parachutes at a time and had to keep going back and forth to wait for Charis to finish with more!) or else used the glue and set the parachutes all over the place to dry.

Next the boys wrote Spanish phrases on the parachutes ("Friendship Plan" and "God Loves You") as we were directed, then tied the ends of the ribbon to the bags where the Bibles, etc., will be placed. We packaged all 10 completed parachutes into the original box and mailed it off last week.  Hooray!

Oh, I should note that VOM does ask for a $5 donation per parachute to cover the cost of the supplies and transportation, so be aware of that if you choose to do this project.

Christmas Day 2013

Sigh. I'm rarin' to post about some different things for the new year, but I realized I never did chronicle our Christmas Day! Just so I can remember a few things whenever I get around to making the digital scrapbook, here's a quick rundown of our special day...

As has become the tradition--out of necessity since we nearly always seem to have a mess-maker toddling about the house--Ted and I brought out the presents and stuffed stockings after the kids were in bed on Christmas Eve (considerably later than we would have liked, due to the service we attended, but it was worth it!). I think it's probably one of their favorite things, to come downstairs Christmas morning and see how "magically" everything has appeared, even though we don't do Santa.

The littler three kiddos had plasma cars waiting for them under the tree, so of course they began to break those in immediately! We passed out stockings and opened the goodies inside first. Zaden promptly began a breakfast of chocolate--I think he mowed through every single piece that was in his stocking before we realized what was happening! We got each of the kids (minus Seanin) a new Veggie Tales DVD; it had been awhile, so there were a number that hadn't yet made it to our collection. (As an aside these didn't cost us any "real" money; we purchased them on Amazon, where we use our Discover cashback bonus for nearly everything we purchase. Woohoo for "free" stuff!)

Then, while the kids started watching one of the new DVDs, Ted and I got breakfast ready. I think we made sausage and eggs and fruit salad, but my mind is already going blank, lol.

After that, we gathered around the cleared-off table with our two copies of The Advent Book and read through all 25 pages. Then Ted led us through the Lord's Supper, since the book ends with John 3:16 and allows a great opportunity to remind ourselves why we celebrate Christmas. I loved having communion together, our first time to do so on Christmas Day, but I think we should do it every year!

The kids made their usual "cozy spots" in the family room, and once we were all settled, the girls passed out the gifts. Amazingly, we were able to take turns this year! We thought the younger boys would have a hard time waiting, but Lucan did a very good job...of course, it helped that he got engrossed in playing with each new item he unwrapped, lol. And Zaden was so excited by it all he just went along with the flow.

It was a wonderful, wonderful time! The gifts were all well-received and so special. Charis knitted teddy bears for all her siblings, socks for me and Ted (with a note to Ted that she WILL make him socks but needs to measure his feet first!), and a phone cozy for Grandma J. She also crocheted a blanket for Grandma. She has been a busy gal! The boys received a lot of books in series they both enjoy (hooray for the thrift store!) and of course Legos. One of our favorite family gifts is the What's in the Bible? DVDs that we ordered. We've been meaning to check out Phil Vischer's new project, and I'm so glad we did! They are excellent!

The kids enjoyed their gifts for awhile until we were ready for our big meal (ham, homemade macaroni and cheese, modified green bean casserole, homemade yeast rolls, and pistachio salad). We stuffed ourselves and spent the rest of the day enjoying games, reading, napping...at some point we got out Jesus's birthday cake and had that. And in the evening we watched a new movie (Despicable Me 2) and ate popcorn made with the new popper Ted and the kids got for me.  At some point we finished off our advent calendar, too, but I can't remember when in the day's events that came, lol.

All in all, it was a wonderful, blessed day, and we were so grateful to be able to share it with Rhonda!