Thursday, March 31, 2011

Field trip to the SPCA of the Triad

We visited the SPCA of the Triad this past Friday. The facility we visited mainly has rescued animals, cats and dogs, available for adoption. The place was pretty cramped. They can take up to 60 animals at any time and tend to stay full. There are 5 individuals that work there. The lady showing us around said that the staff decides what combinations of animals they can take within that number of 60 (ie. cats, small dogs, big dogs, other animals). They have a vet that works with them. They did have several sick ones or ones recovering from injuries. The lady told us that a typical day started early in the morning when they walked each of the dogs and then fed them. Then she said that they spent a lot of time answering the phone and that was the hard part of their job. When I asked Olivia later what she learned about the lady who worked there, she said, "She talks on the phone a lot!" :) We also learned about the things a cat or dog needs, including food, water, exercise, litter boxes for cats, and the things they need in their cages

They had a cat area. The cats had cages but were allowed to roam pretty freely.

They had a small dog room. In this room was a mother dog with 2 week old puppies (my pictures didn't turn out too well) along with a few other puppies and just some small dogs. There was a dog in the front office who was wearing the "collar of shame" to keep her from licking or chewing at her injuries.
Then there was an area in the back with larger dogs and some runs outside. The larger dogs stay outside most of the day and come into their cages at night. In one of the cages was a dog recovering from an injured leg. He came out for a visit but then once he was back up, Gabe and a few other kids thought he needed some toys. At the end it looked like a toy store in his cage. :)

Gabe and Olivia both were very interested in the animals. Gabe liked the dog toys. Olivia noticed a sign that said dogs should only get 2-3 treats a day or they would become very fat. It showed a couple of pictures of excessively fats dogs. She really took this to heart and said she didn't want Sarah to get fat. We have currently cut back her food somwhat as she was getting overweight. It is Olivia's job to feed and make sure Sarah has water everyday.

Sarah looking all obedient and only looks that way. :) 

The SPCA takes in a lot of kittens in the Spring typically. The lady said they use volunteers (even children) to come and bottle feed all the kittens. Hmm, that might be a fun experience for the kids and I. :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Olivia Dances

Olivia performed a worship ballet a couple of Sundays ago and did a wonderful job! She spent a long time practicing for it and it showed. :) She absolutely loves to dance. Thanks so much to Lauren for the great lessons! Lauren is a young lady in our church that has a talent and a passion for dance and desires to teach that to these little girls. She keeps their focus in the right place. They know they are dancing as an act of worship to the Lord first!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The 3rd day of Spring

Olivia said to me last Tuesday, "Mom, it is the 3rd day of Spring!" I think she likes Spring, don't you? So, we headed out for a walk and to the park to enjoy the day.

Monday, March 28, 2011

#237-263 of the Thousand Endless Gifts

*Gabe's tenderness
*Olivia's desire to reach out to others, to help out, and her flexibility/understanding
*Ezra's strength and "long arms" (coined by his sister)
*a walk to the park
*exploring the backyard
*watching Ezra touch and feel everything with curiosity and joy. hanging on tight to those sticker balls/gumballs.
*birthday banners, special meals
*Olivia's creativity
*Olivia and Gabe able to take on more responsibility
*extra little voices playing in our house, good conversation with friends
*interesting people connections
*running out to browse at the used book store with company
*perservering and finishing
*learning lessons of compassion and flexibility over "book" learning
*a cow hunt
*smiling and greeting strangers
*counting flowers
*the big dogwood blooms in my backyard. the other colors and blooms. the little sprouts in our seed starters.
*friends kept safe
*a cancelled doctor's appt because of a clear eye
*three little girls hugging one another
*in the school room
*holding my daughter. looking her in the eye.
*the way the boys hate to be told no and lessons learned
*hugs after discipline
*carrying them in from the car, heads on my chest
*the clouds like a blanket of covers to keep me "warm" and secure

Last week, I read these words. Ann says, "Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love? That Satan's way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus' way? Why else get angry? Isn't it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me up into the full life I really want? When I choose--and it is a choice--to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of Darkness? Choosing the angry way of Lucifer because I think it is more effective--more expedient--than giving thanks?"  I need to stop and thank God. Focus on God. My children and my home are gifts from God. In that moment. No matter how unlovely and messy the moment is, the surroundings are, or the individuals are. It is in giving thanks that the ugly turns beautiful. This coming week I will audibly give thanks in the moment. I will feel thanks so that it is impossible to feel angry, as she says. I will wrestle with God and beg to see the blessings. I will practice. I will see God.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tree Science

In order to get more sunlight to our garden area, we have decided to take down a couple of large trees in our backyard. The first part of the trunk of tree #1 (a sweet gum that stands about 75ft) is now down. Jeremy showed Olivia the rings inside of the tree, discussing age, rates of growth, and years with more or less rainfall. He pulled back the bark and we looked at the moist layer just inside with the sugar to feed the tree. We also noted the grain of the wood, relating it to the trees strength and flexibility, and then compared the newly felled tree to a piece of dry, rotten tree also in the backyard. Gabe spent his time banging sticks around and Ezra was into feeling (and chewing) the gum balls.

On average, trees grow about 1 inch in circumference per year. This sweet gum is 88 inches around, so it should be about 88 years old.  

This was a piece of the main trunk that was about 60 feet up. When O and Jeremy counted the rings there were about 85, so this part of the tree is that old.

JR peeled off a piece of the bark and showed O the layer beneath that carries food from the leaves down to the roots.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Adventures in My Father's World wrap-up

It is hard to believe we have finished out our year in MFW. This has been a wonderful adventure. Our understanding of the character of Jesus through the study of his names has really. I say our because while this was Olivia's curriculum, I certainly learned a lot along the way. I dare say that Gabe learned some too and Jeremy also learned some as Olivia shared with him what she had learned. A name is so important. And Jesus has many names that help us to understand who he is better, more fully. And when we have a relationship with this Son of God, those names are living and active in our lives. Call on Him and He will answer. Jesus is the Word. Olivia can and does read all the assigned reading from her NIV Reader's Bible now with no problem and she wants to. To see this desire grow in her brings me such great joy! He is the Alpha and Omega. He has you from the Beginning to the End. What a perfect way to wrap up.

We finished our tour through the 50 states. We raced with the builders of the Transcontinental Railroad and read about some immigrants from Sweden and Norway to our country. We learned about the sod house and how those people lived as they worked hard to make a home in the West. I would say the most interesting fact we learned towards the end there was that the Seagull is the state bird of Utah. Yes, that's right. A seagull is the state bird of a landlocked state. :) It seems that they honored the California Gull in 1848. Swarms of crickets were devouring the crops of the early Utah settlers when suddenly huge flocks of gulls appeared in the sky and devoured those crickets. Who knew the seagull could be a hero! We learned the story from this book, which was a fun addition to our curriculum this year. When we studied Washington, we went to the grocery store and counted the varieties of apples. There were 16. We taste-tested most of them and then dried them for snacks later. And for Idaho, we made mashed potatoes that night for dinner. Olivia got to learn how to peel potatoes. :) That is just a bit of what we learned. Just about every state had some interesting information or things to study. Well, maybe except Oklahoma. j/k! :) Olivia had a great time counting and learning facts about the states and can identify many of them on the map.

As a combination of history and science, we read about many inventors of the 1800 and 1900s. This included Alexander Graham Bell and his telephone. That corresponded with her sound science lessons that Jeremy blogged about last week. It seems that Alexander also taught in a deaf/hard of hearing school (the feelings on his work are both good and bad). He was a friend to Ann Sullivan and Helen Keller. She read a book and we watched the movie the Miracle Worker. Did you know that you can find it on You Tube? The version we watched is in 17 parts but nonetheless, it's there. :) There are also many animated video by Nest Entertainment. Olivia has been slowly learning her sign language alphabet. Another inventor we read about were the Wright Brothers and their Flying Machine. We flew paper airplanes and briefly talked about the science of aerodynamics. This was also a good way to review our bird studies from the fall. Scientist and Inventors observe and learn from God's natural creation to do their work.

This week was review week. We reread our history of the American Flag, sang our songs and went back through the history notebook and time line that we have made this year. The last thing she did was to write a letter to President Obama. She asked if he was going to write her back? :)

In addition to the history notebook, she has a notebook with her other subjects. It includes her bible verses from the year, her copywork of those verses, a summary of the art we covered this year, drawings of her science experiments, and drawings of each of the fieldtrips that we have taken. This notebook was a suggestion that came from MFW. These folders will be a great keepsake for Olivia and us to look back on. As for her actual artwork and crafts, we take pictures of each piece. Many of which have been on the blog. It is much easier to keep the memory that way but not have a pile of things to keep. For particular pieces we might send them to someone and Olivia has a board in her room that can display a few.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hiding God's Word in our Hearts, Ps 119:11

The Bible is the most amazing book. It is God's living and active word to us. When we face life, we should face it standing on the word, holding the word, and speaking the word. I do not find memorizing bible verses to be an easy task. But I certainly know how much they come in handy. When my thoughts are spiraling a certain way, speaking and praying bible verses is the most powerful thing I can do. When I am walking through my day and need guidance, the words of God are invaluable.
In my parenting and homeschool journey I have found that children have an amazing capacity for memorization. One thing that is a priority in our home is to have Olivia (and our other children as they become able to) memorize scripture. In the process I have also begun to put a lot of God's word in my heart. Starting about 2 years ago, I had Olivia memorize a bible verse for each of the letters of the alphabet. We continue to add to the list of bible verses. About a year ago, we added the questions and answers of the Children's Catechism from this book. We have also added some character definitions and hebrew names of God to our list of memory work.

We use a notecard box with section tabs to organize our memory work. I got the idea from the Simply Charlotte Mason scripture memory system  and also saw something very similar blogged about at Raising Olives. I like this system a lot. It is manageable. The box sits on our dining table and we do it most every morning at breakfast. There is a tab for daily, even, odd, a tab each for Sun-Sat, and tabs #1-31. So tomorrow we will do the cards in the daily section, the odd, Friday, and the #25 sections.

Ignore the card in the front. That was our orginal bible verse for the letter H. Now we have memorized almost all of the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20. I put it in the front to throw it out. I guess I forgot. ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring is Near!

Olivia throwing the frisbee. This was a bit of an issue to begin with, since Sarah thought it was great fun to pick the frisbee up and run away with it...
Well, it's almost springtime and we had a beautiful couple of days this week. Saturday was so nice that Gabe and Olivia spent most of the day outside, running around in the backyard, throwing the frisbee, having a picnic lunch, and exploring along the fence. They stopped and chatted with our neighbor, Mark, who was busy trying to do some cleanup in his yard. I'm not sure how much work he managed to get done with Olivia constantly asking him questions. :)

Gabe foraging around the fence looking for if there weren't enough already in the yard! :)
This is the time of year I love and wish that it could be weather like this all year round!
Olivia complained that the sun was too bright and so she needed her sunglasses.

Monday, March 21, 2011

#204-236 of my Thousand, Endless Gifts

*the way the sun streams through the clouds and grows. and how the sun appears brighter and more colorful with the thick white and darker clouds looming around it.
*seeing the God given gifts in each of my children. sometimes i find myself frustrated but them but i can also clearly see where God is going to use the positive side to their personalities. and once he grows them and molds them, they will do amazing things.
*my health
*grace moments in a full moon weekend
*how often God repeats himself to me and doesn't threaten to quit
*enjoying an orchestra with Olivia, seeing her excitement, and hearing her commentary (she thought the conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, looked like a strong eyed sheep dog)
*the poetry of God
*that I am equipped with the truth to overcome
*discussing a book with a friend
*the want to. understanding food and my own cravings.
*seeing my need and receiving grace when my tongue whips hard against those I love. and a perfectly timed blogpost to keep me from trying to cover it up. "letting go of sin and clinging to Christ"
*little hands and little feet. touching. holding. loving.
*stopping the cycle of my thoughts that would spiral downward. instead reaching up to the things that are pure, holy, and right.
*piles of dirt
*planting seeds
*watching Olivia draw and hearing her talk about life
*playing with my kids
*coffee with a friend. stacks of books.
*bird songs
*shoulder to shoulder with my hubby
*seeing him work so hard for our home and our family
*stacks of wood
*patterns in nature
*3 temptations-Genesis, the gospels, 1 John.
*the Alpha and the Omega. the many ways God/Jesus has identified himself to us by his names. the richness of the relationship we can have with God.
*watching the kids run and play on the trail through the woods. finding signs of Spring.
*taking flowers and a smile to a friend
*sharing with the kids some fun excitement watching the planes land at the airport
*carrying my children
*coming home
*a pastor who is passionate about the Word and who gives so much to our family
*Olivia worshipping God in dance. leading the way.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Gabe and Ezra have a close connection. They love each other and play well together. Of course, they aren't always happy about sharing but, more often than not, they do well. They are taking their baths together now too. They play and giggle like crazy. They are staying in the same room now. They sleep together at night and recently have started taking their afternoon nap together. For the most part, they sleep well. Actually, I think they both sleep better being together. They seem more comfortable. Jeremy and I enjoy listening to them giggle and "talk" to one another in their room. Gabe is protective of Ezra. So sweet.

Sleeping peacefully...Ezra's hidden over to the right. :) He buries his head when he sleeps.

Ezra looks like he's in prison...hollers like it, too, if you wait to long to get him up. :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Air and Sound Science

Well, I suppose since my career involves sound, it only makes sense that I help Olivia with her Sound Science lessons. :) We talked about sound travelling in waves and how it has to move through a medium like air, water or even the ground. Some of the experiments we did involved seeing how sound waves can cause ripples in a glass of water (a la Jurassic Park), feeling sound vibrate a balloon, hearing how making a string tighter or looser changes the pitch and making an old-fashioned string telephone.

Olivia has been learning about some of the inventors of the 1800s and early 1900s. One of those was Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone. It was certainly a nice connection between history and science.

We also did some air experiments showing the power of wind.

We saw how a sail can make a boat move.
We saw how the air in a balloon can make it shoot across a room.
Even Gabe got into it. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Olivia Loses Two Baby Teeth

Olivia has lost 2 teeth now. She is very proud of this "achievement". The first tooth was truly lost. We think maybe she swallowed it. :) Monday, she lost the second tooth. A few years ago, her Aunt DD knitted her a pillow and sewed a little pocket to the front. She couldn't wait to put her tooth in the pillow for the Tooth Fairy. I asked who the Tooth Fairy was and she said, "Well, that is the person who gives me a prize for my tooth". She said she wanted a ring. :) We told her that Daddy got a quarter for his teeth and Mommy got a dollar (if I remember correctly). We told her that didn't likely equate to a ring but she could save up for one. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Charlotte Mason Co-op

We had a fun time at The Cottage last week. I have really come to enjoy this group. It has worked so well to incorporate Olivia and Gabe into the learning. Our nature study topic was sheep dogs. We talked about those that guard sheep and those that herd sheep. We learned about strong eyed dogs, who use their stare alone to control the sheep. The other type of herd dog is the loose eyed dog that uses more of his body to move the sheep. Some dogs crouch down and some dogs stay standing to work. There are headers (they keep the herd in a group) and heelers (move the herd forward). The kids practiced the different roles with one another. I immediately had the thought that a sheep dog could be a good addition to our family to help me with the kids. ;)

When we read Mountain Born, there was a sheep dog in the story named Rollo. Through that reading we got to learn a lot about the behavior of a sheep dog. This is just another way that I feel like God has really integrated our curriculum in an amazing way.

Right across the street from our home is the a rec center. The local AKC meets there each week. I went and spoke with a women named Holly who owns Border Collies. She agreed to come early one week with a dog of her and talk with the kids and allow them to pet the dog. We then went in and watched the behavior of the other dogs as they practiced for their conformation training. We had a great time. The main idea is to let the kids learn primarily by observing and possibly interacting with the dogs. Gabe was a huge fan of a bulldog. :)

Here are a few other highlights from co-op: Gabe stood up in front of the group along with Olivia and said most of Hickory Dickory Dock. This was his first time to get up in front of the group. It was a good beginning. At home, he loves nursery rhymes and getting involved but tends to be shy in our group meetings. As we sang our Folk Song, "This Land is Your Land", we learned about the Gulf Stream waters. The kids played a game where some of them lined up by twos as the currents and a couple of kids got to be the boat and go both with and against the current. We have added pictures of the Redwood forests and now the arrow showing the path of the Gulf Stream Current to our US map. It is a great reminder to the things we learn as we sing our songs.

Below is a bucket of things I put together to help entertain the "littler" ones:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Seeing with the right perspective brings change for the good.

I am blessed and finding great fruit coming from this slowing down, tasting of life, and giving thanks in all circumstances. I see God. He is constantly at work. All around me. I am grateful! In those moments where he gives and in those where he takes away. I have always loved declaring the truth of the song, Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman. It is healing to sing it out loud. Still I will say...My heart will choose to say...Blessed Be the Name of the Lord. My moment to moment circumstances do not change my ability to sing this and for it to be truth. God's grace is there in the plenty and in the lacking. He doesn't change. It is TRUTH. It has grown me and changed me in an amazing way. (#181-203 of my Thousand Endless Gifts)

*the way the grass is suddenly green
*making tough choices, my beloved to make them with
*not talking too much
*a new perspective on a messy kitchen
*hubby bringing me home several surprises this week
*free resources and books on the internet
*slicing apple rounds, the hidden flowers and stars, all the variety, uniqueness and taste
*a hot dinner in an inviting home
*a tree that didn't land on the house
*friends helping
*a sound machine and sweet sleep
*beautifully spoken word from The Word, my own spoken Word.
*"But, please take special notice of this, especially you who tend to keep God at arm's distance from your emotions. According to Hosea 2:16, God does not want you to return to him and say, "Yes, Sir" and set about your duties. He wants you to come into the wilderness, to listen to him speak tenderly and to respond to him, "My husband." God wants your heart, not just your hands, because if he has your heart he has everything." excerpt from John Piper 1982
*thinking about God's tender touch, a new way for me, not so comfortable
*getting up and trying again
*letting go, accepting the gift of a friend
*visions to change lives- one example, knowing and being challenged by these people
*reading the stories of Abraham and Issac and Esther. again. relevant for right now.
*lent. preparing myself. understanding a little more about sacrifice
*a most amazing book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
*another book (for me first, not directly for my child) that i am not necessarily proud that I had to read but one that I am so grateful to have found. the same goes for these two sermons by S.M. Davis on anger. getting to the heart of the matter, no matter how uncomfortable, and asking forgiveness and beginning to change.
*a quiet, calm word

Friday, March 11, 2011

Serving as a Family

For the last 6 months or so, we've been volunteering with a group called Burrito Bikers. While that may sound like a mexican motorcycle gang, it's actually a group of folks who get together every Saturday morning and hand out breakfast to the homeless folks who gather in Greensboro's Center City Park. Hayes Holderness and his wife started the group by riding their bikes around to the various homeless "camps" around the city and the found that burritos were a great hot breakfast for the people they were serving.

Last year, we were looking for something we could do as a family to help other people out. Rebecca had been driving home from work past Center City Park on the weekends and noticed that there were quite a few homeless folks who gathered in the park. She thought we could do something for them, like hand out coffee. We thought it would be a great way to get the kids exposed to ministering to people who were in need.

The very first time we went down there, we set up on the corner and handed out a couple dozen cups of coffee. We noticed there was another group on the other end of the park and before long, Hayes came over and introduced himself. We found out then that he and his wife had been handing out food down there for nearly a year. As we heard more about his heart and vision for the group, we decided to join up with them and do whatever we could to help. We now go down every other Saturday morning and hand out various foods, from breakfast burritos to crackers and bananas. There are usually about 60 regular folks who show up for food each week.

Once a month, we volunteer to make a full batch of 60 burritos, which takes about 90 eggs, 8 pounds of potatoes, 3 pounds of cheese, 3 pounds of sausage and 3 pounds of onions. It's a whole lot of cooking, but it's a whole lot of fun. The kids love getting involved filling, wrapping and stacking the burritos.

We are so blessed to be a part of this ministry! There are probably close to 30 people who are volunteering with us, whether it's by making food or just being there to hand out what's brought each week. It's been great to get to know some of these guys who come to be fed and to have someone to talk to. If anyone's interested in getting involved, check out the facebook group and the Wiki page. You don't have to be able to cook, just be available to hand out food and coffee to people who really need some TLC.