Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Irene Walking

It's a short video, but you have be quick with this kid. It seems like now that she's figured it out, she's on the go everywhere.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bathtime Fun

Is there anything cuter than little ones in the bath? I don't think so..
They were so cute playing with the bubbles and talking to each other. This was Irene's first experience with bubbles and she was fascinated.

 These two just love to splash and play in the bath. They will stay for a long time. And unlike the boys, the bathroom floor won't be covered in water when they finish.  

But the fun isn't restricted to the bath.... if there's something around that Irene can climb into or onto, she'll be there.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Hanukkah!

It's the time of year again when we celebrate for 8 days just how great God is and the wondrous things he does for us! The festival itself is to celebrate the rededication of the Temple after it was defiled by the Greeks around 165 B.C. We also use it as a reminder that we are to a light to the world and the light that shines through us is our Messiah Yeshua. It's a joyful time that we try to fill with as much fun and laughter as we can. To celebrate, we have a tradition of doing a different activity each night/day of the festival. 
 We started off the holiday with a Hanukkah game night at VoB
 The kids decorated big cookies
 Played foosball
 and the Dreidel Game. 

 Another day, we made donuts.  


 (seriously, that's the sound she makes. just like in the movie. :)
 On another day, we played games like Latke Bingo, Go Fish and Quirkle
And on yet another day, they made crafts.

For Shabbat, I tried my hand at making a Hannukiah (Menorah) Challah, Not too bad for a first attempt. :) 
It certainly made for a beautiful Shabbat Dinner.

We also got to go play at Hagan Stone Park, have a visit from both my and Rebecca's parents, ride through the neighborhoods looking at lights and the kids got a quite a few fun presents from us as well as both sets of Grandparents. There's no question that if you ask the kids what their favorite holiday is, they'll tell you Hanukkah!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Olivia's Holiday Recital

Olivia had another recital today and she did wonderfully! As a dad, I'm anxious for her whenever these things come around. I really want her to do well because I know how hard she's practiced. This time, we picked a version of My Dreidel that was pretty tough for her. It was fairly long and had a key change in it that took her a while to master. I really can't express how proud I am of her and how well she's been doing with her lessons and practicing. 

Afterwards, There were the usual collection of cookies and since it was a nice day, we took them outside to eat. Nana and Pop-pop came to support Olivia and gave her some beautiful flowers and a candy cane. :)

  After their cookies, they burned off some of that excess energy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Women's Only 5K 2014

Rebecca stepped up again this year to run the Women's Only 5K. She signed up for the Women's Running School and trained hard every week for 4 months. She did it two years ago and finished it in 34:46.

 This year they ran the race much later in the year and the weather was FREEZING! Still, she ran it in 35:07  and came in 371st overall and 57th in her age class. We are so proud of the hard work she put in and seeing it through!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Goodbye, Keith. You will be missed.

A few weeks back, I got word that a close family friend had died. In truth, Keith Collins was more than a friend; he was family. I was, and still am, proud to call him "Uncle Keith". I was blessed to spend a summer with him and my Aunt Kathi in Mississippi between my junior and senior years in high school. At that time, Keith ran a roofing business and he put myself and my cousin, Matt, to work. Let me tell you: putting a tin roof on a house in Mississippi in the summer is no picnic. It gave me a healthy respect for the job Keith and others like him do. But he wasn't all about working. He was quick to make a joke, loved to have a good time with friends and family. He loved gardening and was fiercely protective of his bird feeders. He used to keep a pellet gun by the back door to pick off squirrels that were foolish enough to try pilfering from them. 

About 16 years ago, Keith suffered a massive stroke and heart attack. They left him mostly paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. While he was physically incapacitated, the times that we were able to get together left me no doubt that he had retained his sharp wit and good humor.

I am grateful that Olivia had the chance to meet him. She was only 3, but she was instantly fascinated by Keith. 

When I heard that there was going to be a gathering in Mississippi to honor Keith and his memory, I, of course, wanted to go, but with Rebecca's work schedule, it was  (I thought) impossible in the time frame necessary. Well, as usual, I underestimated my wife. In a matter of days, she managed to arrange for other folks to watch the kids so I could go. While I knew I was only going to have about 12 hours, I also knew it would be worth it to be able to be there with Kathi and the rest of the family.  I dropped the boys off at her parents' house in Waxhaw on Friday and left from there at 3am Saturday morning. I drove straight through to Brandon, MS and got there right at noon, which was earlier than I expected. I realized as I pulled in that it had been 23 years since I'd been there. It brought back so many good memories. I remembered Keith putting me to work on the very first full day I was there digging a stump out of the back yard. I remembered Matt and I trying to burn a nest of fire ants out of the front yard with a can of gas and nearly setting the entire lawn on fire. I was suddenly very glad I had come.

The real gathering didn't start until 6 or 7 that evening, so there were a few hours for the family to catch up on things. My Aunt Mary Jane and Uncle Joe from MD had made the drive down. My sister came down from Nashville and Kathi's children, John and Amy, were there, too. We spent the afternoon watching college football and sharing memories of Keith. 

Later that evening, friends started arriving. There were quite a lot of people there, which was a wonderful testimony to the lives Keith had touched in his too-short time here. 

Everyone had a wonderful time and I know that Aunt Kathi was greatly blessed by all the people who showed up. I am very grateful to my fabulous wife for her hard work in arranging things so I could be there on such short notice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

These Pajamas were made for...

Walking! Well, maybe not really walking, but she did take her first real steps tonight! :)

 We were hanging out in the hallway and she just stood up and went for it. 

 She does tend to get over excited and lead with her head, tho. 
 But when she takes her time, she can take 2 or 3 steps in a row.

 But then things turned silly. 

 And then the siblings had to get in on the act. Of course, they can already walk, but they wanted their pictures taken, too. :)

It only a matter of time now....

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Olivia's Summer Term

From a history standpoint, her studies became much more focused now that we are entering the time of the Renaissance and Reformation. We spent a great deal of time studying the Medici family which was instrumental in the Renaissance. We were amazed at just how far their power and influence reached. They had two popes elected from their family. They were responsible for sponsoring such artists as Michelangelo, Botticelli, and DaVinci. We then spent quite a long time looking at these artists' works and learning just how influential their work was on the rest of the artistic world.

As for the Reformation, we spent several weeks each on Erasmus and Wycliffe. While we were aware of each of those men, I, in particular, had no idea who they really were and why they were important. Erasmus was referred to "The Man Who Laid the Egg that Luther hatched" because it was his writings on the Church's doctrines and practices that birthed the ideas in Luther's mind that he later gave life to when he started the Reformation. Erasmus also made the first side-by side translation of the New Testament from Ancient Greek into Latin. Later, men like Luther would use Erasmus's Greek translation to create their own Bibles in the native tongues of their respective countries, which greatly increased the common man's access to the Scriptures. We also read the story, The Beggar's Bible, which was about John Wycliffe. Wycliffe created an English translation of the Bible which spread far and wide throughout England, much to the dismay of the Church. He also put forth the idea of preaching directly to the common man in his own language without all the pomp and ceremony and Latin of the traditional Mass. His writings, which were highly critical of the Pope and Church Doctrine and practices at that time. Those writings eventually led to his being branded a heretic and  his excommunication from the Church. Interestingly enough, some of the Popes that these reforms were aimed at were from the Medici Family! Olivia really liked what she heard about Wycliffe and his teachings. She thought it was great that he wanted everyone to be able to read the Bible. We will continue to study more about the Reformation and some of its major characters in the next term.

In Geography, we focused mainly on Christopher Columbus while also reading from Around the World in a Hundred Years, bringing in other important explorers from that same time frame like Vasco De Gama, Henry the Navigator and Bartholomew Diaz. An additional read aloud was Christopher Columbus: Adventurer of Faith and Courage. She is reading through a book called The World of Columbus and Sons throughout this whole school year which puts together all these major figures of history from different areas of the world that were alive during the time of Columbus.
Along with the explorers, she does a map drill each week, which is really helping her learn where countries, oceans, seas and other landmarks are. She has Europe pretty much mastered (even all those teeny middle-Europe countries that seem to change every year) and is getting started on Asia.

For Math, she worked through some Kumon books to reinforce concepts she had learned in the spring. They also expanded on the basic concepts of multiplication and division, adding longer problems and introducing her to remainders. This is a becoming a bit of a struggle for her. She says she doesn't like math because it is hard and she just can't seem to get it in her head.

In Science, she finished the Apologia Astronomy and moved on to The Queen's Homeschool Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, which is a health and body curriculum. In particular, so far we focused on the five senses. This science is all about self-discovery as she is very much in charge of working through it on her own. The plan is to use the researched based Queen's human body curriculum and then followup with Apologia as we progress through the body. Olivia is really enjoying science. As a read-aloud at the table, we're reading The Storybook of Science which is filled with some fascinating subjects. It's all set around "Uncle Paul" who teaches his nieces and nephews to be curious about everything and then explains in great detail about the myriad things they ask. 

Because we were studying the Renaissance, we started working on the Artistic Pursuits art lessons with everyone. We posted pictures of some of their earlier work, but here's some more. It's really neat to see them trying so hard to do the work like the instructions tell them to. 
Gabe's self-portraits
 Olivia's self-portraits
 Layering oil pastels (Olivia)
 Watercolors (Gabe)
Texture (Ezra)