Saturday, August 30, 2008

Over the past year, I've been introduced to Cindy Rushton, a homeschool mother of two, as well as a speaker and writer on all things homeschool. She is passionate about encouraging women to be everything that God has called them to be as wives and mothers. Every time I visit her website, I am so blessed, challenged and encouraged!

This week, she asked this question of those visiting her website: What ONE thing could you do that could change EVERYTHING? I hardly had to think at all . . . something came to my mind almost immediately, probably because God's been talking to me about one particular change I need to make, and the ramifications that it would have in our home life.

The one thing that God has been speaking to me about is getting up earlier in the morning . . . so that I can do the things I need to do before my little ones are up. (Of course, this means I need to get to bed earlier as well -- which is another "one thing"!) When my kids and I get up at the same time, I find that I'm more distracted and our day often gets off to a rockier start -- I'm trying to fix breakfast, check email, have a quiet time, iron a shirt for Brent . . . it just doesn't go well for us. (Brent is often amazed by my ability to multitask, but even I have my limits!

I read once that as mommies, we are the thermostats of our homes, so we set the atmosphere or climate. I want to make sure I am in the right frame of mind -- physically, mentally, emotionally and especially spiritually -- to be the wife that my husband needs and the mommy that my kids need, and that's best accomplished when I am up early enough to adequately prepare for what God has for me that particular day!

So . . . I've put it out there . . . I need to get up earlier in the morning! Feel free to ask me how that's going, and if you have any tips or encouragement for me along the way, you can pass that along as well!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Building sampans

That's right . . . Lael and Jaden built boats today called sampans. A sampan is a traditional Chinese riverboat -- the word sampan literally means "three planks". While we were reading The Story of Ping this week, we noticed the many different types of boats pictured on the Yangtze River and decided to read more. In the past, many Chinese people lived on boats, and some still do today.

Anyway, here is what a real sampan looks like:

Here is Lael decorating her sampan's roof
(yes, we know that authentic sampans are not so colorful,
but as far as we're concerned, they should be!)

Jaden carefully colored the base of his sampan,

which was built with Model Magic and craft sticks.

And here are the finished products . . . Lael proudly displays her sampan!
Do you see her boat's "wise eyes"?
And Jaden worked equally hard on his creation,
making sure to handle it very carefully!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Worship redefined . . .

So I started reading Extravagant Worship by Darlene Zschech last week . . . it will probably take me a while to get through it simply because I really want God to speak to me as I read it. I already have a passion for worship and leading others in worship. This summer I began leading worship at our church, and I've realized that it's sometimes a battle. The devil isn't happy when God's people praise and worship Him!

Anyway, back to the book . . . I've only read part of the first chapter, but here are a couple of quotes that jumped out to me:

Our worship pleases the Lord. There is real strength when believers bring a corporate offering of praise to God in the church. I love the sense of storming heaven with our praise when we unify in faith. I love when we, the body of Christ, can just BE together in His magnificent presence.

The Lord enjoys the diversity of sincere worship when expressed through His Spirit and in truth. Worship should be a way of life, with many facets of expression. The insistence that there is only one way to worship God has often left the body of Christ confused, fragmented and frustrated.

Extravagant worship grabs God's attention. . . . Throughout the stories in the Bible, whenever someone demonstrated extravagant worship, God reacted with extravagant blessing. It's cause and effect. Extravagant worship brings extravagant results. What makes worship extravagant? It must cost us something!

Definitely food for thought and something I intend to keep pondering in the days to come!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our day of Olympic fun!

We are halfway through our unit on the Olympics and China. Our focus thus far has been the Olympics; the next two weeks will be spent learning about China. Yesterday we had all kinds of fun! After school, we headed off to a local Chinese buffet for lunch . . . yummy! I thought it would be fun to try using chopsticks while we were there -- something Lael and Jaden have never tried before. Well . . . they LOVED it! All four of us actually ate our entire meals using only chopsticks (and fingers - for things like egg rolls)!

Jaden actually caught on quicker than the rest of us!
(Although he had a rather unique grip on his chopsticks at times.)
Lael enjoyed using her chopsticks, but made sure we knew
that she didn't want to use them for dessert (ice cream)!
Even Daddy played along! Mommy and Daddy realized that
we would eat a lot more slowly if we used chopsticks all the time.
Hmmm . . . maybe we should give that some more thought!
Lael and Jaden both tried a lot of different kinds of Chinese food that they hadn't previously . . . I guess eating with chopsticks makes you more adventurous!
In the evening, we had planned to kick back and watch some of the Olympics coverage. So the kids and I made a special treat to enjoy -- a cake decorated to look like the Olympic flag! (I can't take credit for this one -- I got the idea from Candace's blog . . . she's a fellow homeschooler with Five In a Row, the curriculum that we use. Anyway, during our school time, the kids helped me make the cake.
Then after supper we iced it . . .
Next came the fun part . . . adding M&Ms that are colored the same colors as the Olympic rings on the flag. Our local grocery store has a place where you can pick what colors of M&Ms you want from about 20 or 25 different colors.
Mommy drew the rings lightly with a toothpick in the icing,
and then we placed the M&Ms accordingly.
And here's the finished product! What do you think?

Oh, and by the way, it was delicious! We love learning at our house!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our new poll!

Okay, we need your help once again! As part of our unit on the Olympics, we are conducting a poll to find out what Olympic sport is your favorite to watch. Here are the options:



You can also choose OTHER -- and vote for a sport not listed above.

How to vote? It's easy . . . just post a comment on this blog entry with your vote. (If you have trouble leaving a comment, you can also send me an email.) Please note that your comment may not appear immediately as I preview all comments to my blog before posting them.

So get your votes in (one vote per family member, please) by WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20TH AT 11:59 PM! I will post the results in a subsequent blog post! Thanks for your help!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The week ahead . . .

It's week two of the 2008-2009 school year and week 2 of our Olympics unit! So, what's on tap for the week? Well, we are reading a book that I'm really excited about . . .

It's called Wilma Unlimited, and it's the story of Wilma Rudolph, an Olympic track and field medalist from the 1960 summer games. What makes her story especially relevant to us is that she was a preemie too! She also contracted polio at the age of 4 and doctors didn't believe she'd ever walk again. I'm looking forward to sharing this story with Lael and Jaden as we talk about perseverance and reaching for our goals (great "beginning of the year" story, I think). Our memory verse ties in well; it's Philippians 4:13 -- "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

We are also beginning our history curriculum this week -- it's called History for Little Pilgrims, and it's a one-year overview of history from creation to Christ's return. It will be a gentle introduction to history for my little pilgrims, and will begin to establish a framework for better understanding that history is the story of God's interaction with mankind.

Jaden will be adding to his alphabet notebook as he works on the letter B (last week was the letter F) and he will continue with his phonics book Get Ready for the Code. For math, he will be using Funtastic Frogs to introduce early math concepts such as counting, patterns, sorting, addition and subtraction. He also really enjoys playing with pattern blocks -- he's really good at figuring out what blocks he needs to make different shapes.

Lael is continuing on in Explode the Code 4 for phonics and will be reviewing money in math. She will also be learning about biographies as we read some about famous Olympians as well as missionaries to China like Eric Liddell and Hudson Taylor.

Oh, and a fun thing . . . tomorrow night we are going to hear America's oldest civilian concert band, and it's right in our own back yard! (You can find out more here if you want!) We saw them last year and really enjoyed it . . . I'm sure tomorrow night will be great!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Opening ceremonies

The first week of school was a joy for both teacher and students! We are establishing good habits of completing before-school responsibilities and are so enjoying our study of the Olympics so far!

The culmination of the first week was to watch the Opening Ceremonies last night . . . we spread blankets out on the floor and had special snacks to eat. We really enjoyed the artistry and beauty of the beginning of the ceremony. Unfortunately, by the time the Parade of Nations started, both kids had fallen asleep! Oh, well . . . there's always next Olympics! (By that time, Lael will be almost 12 and Jaden will be 8 -- oh, my!)

One thing that Brent and I were impressed with was the countries that we had never heard of! I was also burdened as I saw so many countries where the citizens are not free to worship the one true God. Both Brent and I commented that we were stirred to pray more for the nations of the world -- that doors would be opened for the gospel to be proclaimed freely.

The words of this song sum up my thoughts on this:

We speak to nations -- be opened
We speak to nations -- fall on your knees
We speak to nations -- the Kingdom is coming near to you
We speak to strongholds -- be broken
Powers of darkness -- you have to flee
We speak to nations -- the Kingdom is coming near to you
We speak to you -- be free!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The 2008-09 school year has begun!

We started school today . . . finally! Lael especially has been asking for school for weeks now! (And we only took 5 weeks off this summer . . . can you tell why I love homeschooling?!) So this morning when they came down for breakfast, they were greeted with their GodSeekers Academy notebooks -- which had our theme Scripture passage, school rules, the Pledge of Allegiance and their memory verses for August in it. Needless to say, they were so excited!

They were so excited that they:
  • ate breakfast quickly
  • got dressed
  • brushed their teeth
  • made their beds
  • tidied up their bedrooms

all by 8:30 AM! (Then they were waiting on Mommy!)

Here we are on the front porch for the official "first day of school" picture!
All in all, we had a GREAT first day! We are beginning the year with a unit on the Olympics and China! We read this book by B.G. Hennessy this morning and can't wait to watch the opening ceremonies on Friday night!
Jaden is starting preschool this year and is not wasting any time! Can you figure out what the letter of the week is? He did a great job today -- phonics, math and learning about the Olympics! I have decided to incorporate a new element for Lael in language arts . . . copywork. Every day she will copy something -- a Bible verse we are memorizing, a quote from a book, a song or hymn. It allows her to really focus on good literature and absorb it more deeply than if she simply read it in a book. It's also good handwriting practice!
Another first-day-of-school task for Lael was to do a reading assessment. I'm so amazed at how well she reads . . . she can basically pick up anything and read it! She easily reads at a mid-second grade level; I have a feeling that I will be busy keeping her challenged in her reading this year! She is reading Stuart Little independently right now -- during quiet time in the afternoon she reads at least two chapters and then shares with me her favorite parts.
Lael and Jaden used their Funtastic Frogs to see what 100 looks like! Each log holds 10 little frogs, so they filled 10 logs and then practiced counting by 10s . . . whoever said math is boring didn't get to hang out at the GodSeekers Academy!
Thanks for visiting us on the first day of school . . . please stop back often and let us know what you think of our adventure!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cool video!

I saw this video today and it really spoke to me! I've heard the song before, and the expressive worship that went along with it was just beautiful! I hope you enjoy it! (Just make sure you pause the finetunes player in the right-hand column first.)