Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Strawberry Picking

The Fam went strawberry picking and had a great time! :) We picked two baskets worth of beautiful strawberries and I'm sure the kids ate at least that many...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Slavin' Away in the Kitchen

Gabe has been spending a lot of his play time in the kitchen! He likes to cook for us all. He serves up a wide variety of delicious meals and treats.

Friday, May 20, 2011

First Steps and Just About 1

Well I wasn't quick enough to catch his first step on camera. But here are some photos from the same night. He took his first step and stood up several times without holding on Tuesday the 17th. He was motivated by a cracker I was holding in my hand that he really wanted. ;) Hmm, I guess there is no question that he loves his food. He will be ONE on Sunday! He is a sweet heart, a charmer, and he is impatient and gets really mad sometimes. He has no trouble keeping up with his siblings. I thank God for this little boy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Welcome to North Carolina Max and Vivi Dunlap!

My SIL, her hubby, and my twin niece and nephew arrived this week. It has been wonderful getting to be with them. It is funny. We have talked via skype some and of course now pictures are so prominent (facebook, blogs, etc) that I didn't quite feel like it was the first time I was getting to really meet them. But nothing is a substitute for being able to hold them, talk to them, and get them to smile.

The Cousins have really enjoyed playing with one another so far. Gabe is really sweet to them, giving them kisses and toys. Olivia gets them both smiling. She says that Vivi is her favorite. (She would love a sister.) Ezra mainly plays quietly alongside them. Both Olivia and Gabe try to help with giving them bottles.

Now if my other niece and nephew and their parents would hurry up and join us!!! :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Funny Faces

Okay, so these pictures aren't the best but they do capture some personality! :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

#418-449 of the Thousand Endless Gifts

*the security and assurance i feel with my man, at home
*meeting my neice and nephew in person for the first time
*working together
*being protected
*the way he is steady, calm
*the unexpected weather-sunshine; able to play outdoors; energy for long days
*easy meals
*homeschool support; those who want to teach and learn along with you
*strawberries, strawberries, and more strawberries; red juice all over, the scent, the taste
*a deep heart conversation, waiting; in time He will reveal and give wisdom
*the END (fulfillment, the climax, the full extent, the revealing, the goal, the embodiment)
*how hard he works, see it wear on him but seeing him push through
*getting a glimpse, having faith, trying to understand but waiting
*Daddy helping with math for a little while
*family in town!
*the calm after i take control, wishing it had happened sooner but learning the lesson at the moment, stopping to count, changing my thoughts
*a mother's day test
*quiet time at home
*a reminder of true fear, a call to trust the One with the plan, a message of courage
*long to do list, things always coming up, taking our Sabbath anyway--in body and heart
*my pastor's family
*cards and flowers that make me smile
*smiling big, from face to heart
*gentle breeze, patterns of light, beautiful weather
*the new morning routine
*trying to get up early to pray, catching myself falling asleep but knowing God hears me and will help train me
*when you read something, ponder it, live it, wait and find it sinking in
*looking ahead to his brokeness, he gave thanks (eucharisteo), he anticipated thanks, not fear or worry or any of those other things that we so easily get into; and if i keep giving thanks then i will become like him--i want to anticipate thanks
*being the mom
*desiring to understand true wisdom, allowing my brain to be reworked, not giving up even though its tough and i'm tired
*hugging a friend
*joyful children piling in and out of a van to visit, laugh and smile
*the hospitality of friends, excited voices eating and playing together--not being able to see what they are doing, hearing them talk comfortably, having to push to leave, planning some future fun

Saturday, May 14, 2011

3 Clean Little Ones

O how we love them! They look pretty cooperative and happy don't they? :) Ha, what you don't see in a picture is all the moments just before and just after. BUT, we love them dearly nonetheless!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Term Final-FUN

We had our final Cottage meeting for this term. This past term, our focus has been on O Be Careful Little Eyes for bible song, farm animals for nature study, self-control for habit, Aaron Copland for composer study, This Land is Your Land for folk song, and Grandma Moses for picture study. And we have a time of poetry recitation or reading.

This time the focus was on chickens. We met at one of our families homes. Thank you Lacey! :) They have had chickens for about 3 years. Right now, they have three. They have a chicken tractor that they move around their yard. I has the area below for the chickens to roam and the coop on top. There were three nests with doors that we could peak in and a roost for them to sleep. The kids to observe the chickens in their pen and a couple of them sat to lay eggs while we were there. The chickens are familiar enough to their family and one allowed 6 year old Naomi to pick it up for the kids to touch and really get a good look at. We learned that they are omnivores. They will eat just about anything they are given access too. They also are quite picky about their food and will eat their own eggs if they do not feel their diet is up to par. :) We saw this first hand. They lay about every 27 hours. We got a good look at their feet and learned that they scratch for their food. The Grims use a nipple system to water their chickens so we got a look at that. We also learned that there were recently a couple more chickens in this group but they believe 2 were eaten by raccoons and 1 was back up with 6 eggs inside and had to be put down. The other common predator of chickens is snakes. The chickens had golf balls in their nest to trick any predators that might come looking for eggs. We also learned about pecking order among chickens. When a new chicken is introduced they peck at it until peck order is established. We also looked at some of the differents eggs comparing color and size. Then we broke open an egg and took a look at the parts. Of course, we gave the kids a chance to sit and draw in their nature journals. Olivia was not sure about touching the chicken at first but then did well. Gabe spent a lot of time watching them. Of course the kids got up every 15 minutes or so to check to see if an egg had been laid.

some fun I made for the little ones. they are little chicks. these turned out to be a hit for all.

For This Land is Your Land, we talked about the NY Islands. We looked at some pictures, discussed a big city versus the relatively quiet backyard that we were in, and looked at the geography on the map. We talked about Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We learned that it operated from Jan 1, 1892 to 1954, processing 12 million immigrant steamship passengers. According to the statistics on the Ellis Island website, 40% of Americans can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island.

Playing "habit" games, requiring selfcontrol.

We looked at Grandma Moses painting, 4th of July. It seemed very appropriate as we approached summer. I have been really amazed as the kids observation and memory skills have really improved over the term. When we do picture study, we have the kids look close at the picture until they feel like they can see it with their mind's eye. Then they turn over the picture. Then we go around the circle and ask each of the kids to tell us what they remembered. Even some of our 2-3 year olds like to join in.

This time around, Olivia read a poem that she chose. We did not put the time into working on memorizing it to recite ahead of time. That was my fault. I just plain forgot. But we worked on her reading aloud skills and having her enuciate clearly. According to CM methods, this is the foundation for public speaking among other things. Gabe was off in his own world at this point. He stuck around for most of the schedule but the beautiful outdoors of Lacey's backyard had called his attention away. I let him roam and do his thing. He wasn't interrupting and much of the time he does sit well for us. At home we have been reciting together nursery rhyms and he enjoys them a lot. :)

The families in this group have been a great support. I am grateful to God for the community. I am continuing to learn so much from them all. The learning is planned and intentional but is natural and flexible all at the same time. I am blessed by all the friends and families that God has caused me to cross paths with, especially in this parenting and homeschool journey. I can see his hand at work and know that he has used each and every one of them.

Some More Thoughts on Education

In the last 8 months, the writings of Charlotte Mason have really influenced my view of education and therefore influenced the approach I have been using. I have also spent time on the websites and in the books of those who have interpreted her writings and applied them. I think you should read them yourself because they are wonderful, but I thought I would put down a few more quotes from her that I have read recently. Well, these are actually quotes and notes from the summaries of her works. I admit that I have not read the originals as of yet (she is was British and wrote her philosophy on education books from 1886-1923) but I do know there is likely no real substitute for them.

I have already shared some of them here.

From Volume 3:
Every child is born edowed with the facilities and intelligence he needs; it isn't the job of education to provide him that. Education should help him apply wisdom and make relations between ideas.
Education should be relational. Knowledge that a child acquires himself through his living experiences will mean infinitely more to him than facts from a book that has no relevance to his life that he can recognize.
Children are motivated to godliness by example.
Education is an atmosphere, a life and a discipline. These three must work together.
The question is not how much the student has learned, but how much they care.
Children have a God-given internal makeup and we must respect the persons God made them.
Children have a natural appetite for knowledge and that is all the motivation they need. That appetite is destroyed by too much explaining instead of leaving the child to reflect, too many lectures without letting the child extract some knowledge for himself, textbooks that reduce living ideas to dry facts, and using competition and ambition as motives to learn.
Education comes by real things (hands on) and living books. It creats delight and stretches a childs ability in an enjoyable way.
Through reading, they learn to write, and through developing the habit of reading comes readers.
We don't just want to teach a kid to think (a child can't think with an empty mind) but to give him inspiring ideas to think about.

From Volume 6:
The mind needs ideas. And it needs them regularly, like meals. Ideas that affect character. Ideas that the mind spends time reflecting on.
Real Education is spiritual, it feeds the inner soul.
Children in the earliest grades should hear wonderful literature and narrate. Education starts with hearing well-written language and big words in context.
We should not create an artificial environment for children but we should use the opportunities in the environment he already lives in to educate. Children learn from real things in the real world.
Give them lots of living books. Children need books written in high quality literature. When their own mind has done the work of sorting, prioritizing, sequencing and articulating knowledge from a well-written book, then they will really be learning.
Teach a child to be attentive so they get it the first time. A lesson needs not to be repeated. Children naturally have good focus of attention, but allowing a second reading makes them lazy and weakens their ability to pay attention the first time.
The child's mind is not a blank slate, or a bucket to be filled. It is a living thing and needs knowledge to grow. As the stomach was designed to digest food, the mind is designed to digest knowledge and needs no special training or exercise to make it ready to learn.
Since one does not really "own" knowledge until he can express it, children are required to narrate, or tell back (or write down), what they read or heard.
We teach children that all truths are God's truthss, and that secular subjects are just as divine as religious ones. Children don't go back and forth between two worlds when they focus on God and then their school subjects; there is unity among both because both are of God, and whatever children study or do, God is with them.

The main impression I got is to think of children as persons deserving respect. When we teach we should teach with that in mind. God has blessed them with so much ability already and He is the ultimate, forever teacher. We should trust that he he made each child unique and special, has equipped them and will never give up on them. My job as teacher is to help in that process. Additionally, I got that education is a lifestyle and should come naturally with all of life. For the early years especially, although this applies even to my education now, learning good habits is essential. CM was such a wise women. You would never know that she had no children of her own flesh but she did train so many children as though they were her own. And what a legacy she has left behind. There is so much for me to learn from her. Some day I will read these works in their original form. :)

I have heard some criticism that Charlotte's philosophy is not biblical. I would disagree with that and encourage you to read more if you are interested. The foundation of my approach as a homeschool mom is on the bible and in prayer. I want to give my kids a biblical worldview, a love of learning, spend most of my time on things that matter to the whole person, and do my best to lead my children to the Lord, that they may one day know him personally, be changed and change lives in his name. This is an ever growing journey that I am on. I am now spending time seeking to do the right thing and how most to honor God in our home and school. My journey is not the same as many of my other friends or people I know. But God is faithful to lead and help me. I will post more as I continue to seek out the path before me. I write all of this mainly as a record.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Giving Thanks for Failure

When we fail or others fail us in life it is hard, but it is a blessing too. We have a longing that only God can fill. He designed us with that longing. And failure has to happen. It points us to God. We can't find it in ourselves, others or circumstances. When I lament that I can't be everything someone dear to me needs or that things have really changed or my mouth gets me into trouble or I lack selfcontrol, it is easy to get bogged down with the failure. But there is a greater plan. Only ONE can not fail. I want to see that ONE and I want others to see that ONE. I can't shield my children from this. I don't want to. I want them to see Christ. I must fail for that ONE to be strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9--"And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

So in this world, there will be struggle and yet there is blessing in the struggle. Stop and begin to number them. It will lead to the ONE who does no fail.

#385-417 of the Thousand Endless Gifts
*smiling, changing my face to change my heart
*stopping to enjoy the things they discover
*her confidence building
*praying and worshipping together in the car, a turning point
*being brought to tears with some sweet women of God as we study the Bible
*listening to the kids chatter with friends
*a friend's couch
*a coffee shop and conversation, 3 hours that seemed like 30minutes!
*knowing that i have to fail sometimes, God's plan
*demonstrating sweet love, true patience
*multiple hugs and kisses
*speaking truth when i want to build a wall
*an email from a spiritual mentor--a reminder not to give up
*excitement over learning--seeing it make sense to them
*Olivia's journal entry about God
*games of hide and seek
*Gabe trying to do right, remembering my job is to train
*holding both boys
*discussion/debate, him not backing down, looking for the truth
*stopping to see how hard they are trying
*teachers/leaders at BSF
*"Relationships cost. It’s not that you aren’t going to blow it. It is what you do with it, when you do." Ann Voskamp
*finding the positive expression and motivation
*seeing God's provision
*a mirror of truth
*thinking of what God thinks of me, knowing his assessment of me matters, not mine of him
*practicing thanks in the moments
*that God wants to comfort me, and would teach me to comfort, even when it feels so foreign
*getting up early to pray, weak prayers that God still hears
*struggling to sit quiet, He waits, a slow training
*just what he talked about being on sale at the grocery store
*Gabe wanting out of the stroller
*climbing rocks, jumping-1 2 3, sticks, leaves, small rocks

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Open Farm Day

On Sunday afternoon, we visited Rising Meadow Farm and Goat Lady Dairy. These are local working family farms. They were very hospitable and it was a lovely afternoon.

look close, there is an egg in there

There were some fun extras on the farm. Truth be told, I am not sure who this lovely couple were. It was a husband and wife that each had a wheel and were each helping the kids throw pots.

If you are local, the farms offer meat and wool, and goat cheese, respectively. There was also a demonstration on sustainable farming at Goat Lady Dairy.