May 10, 2010

  • Multitude Monday: One Thousand Gifts

    I have for several months now been quietly enjoying the beautiful words of Ann Voskamp over at Holy Experience.  She is a gifted writer who speaks to this mama’s heart.  She has inspired me so much that I have decided to join her gratitude community and begin counting 1000 gifts from God for which I am grateful.

    1. the weight my little man’s head on my shoulder as we talk about what he learned today
    2. the happy sound of my little one’s feet upstairs
    3. the heat of fevered skin that says what my little one cannot say, “Mama, I don’t feel well.”
    4. medicine droppers
    5. my strong little man who is willing to hold his brother’s hands while mama dispenses the yucky medicine
    6. tulips in my windowsill
    7. the empty blue shell of a robin’s egg
    8. a cloudless blue sky
    9. the smell of freshly cut grass
    10. the warmth of the sun on my face
    11. small town emergency rooms
    12. friendly, supportive doctors
    13. nature journal scrawled with primitive drawings of the wonders little man saw outside
    14. cuddles and hugs for no reason
    15. little man learning independently
    16. soft quilts stitched together with a grandmother’s love for her grandsons
    17. the convenience of over-the-counter cold medicine
    18. snow on Mother’s Day (“…give thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thess. 5:18)
    19. my little man wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day
    20. my little one learning to sit and take his medicine like a big boy
    21. blooms in the trees
    22. a finished handwriting assignment
    23. piano music soothing the stresses of the day
    24. requests for mayonnaise sandwiches (yuck! lol) from a little mouth that once could not speak
    25. loving words exchanged with soldier husband on the other side of the world

    holy experience

April 13, 2010

  • Science Experiment: Looking at batteries by Sebastian, age 8

    What Did We Use?
    We used three 1.5V batteries, 2 pieces of plastic covered wire, 3.5 volt bulb in bulb holder, scissors, adhesive tape.

    What Did We Do?
    We taped the wire to the flat side of the battery.  Attach the other end of the wire to the bulb holder.  We attached the other wire to the bulb holder.  We touched the wire to the button side of the battery.

    What Happened?
    The bulb lit up.

    What Did We Learn?
    We learned batteries make electricity.

April 9, 2010

  • Goals for the Upcoming School Year

    Goals for Sebastian:

    • Improve spelling
    • Begin formal grammar
      • This is one area for which I have found Sonlight’s curriculum to be inadequate.  While I understand the philosophy behind their method, Sebastian doesn’t seem to be getting it using their “natural approach.”  We’ll be using Sonlight’s language arts but only as a supplement to a more formal English grammar curriculum (Rod & Staff or First Language Lessons).
    • Memory work 
      • While Sonlight does schedule Bible memorization, I have to be honest and say that I have been really slack in requiring it.  I do think memorization is important however, so I’ll be making a more concerted effort to include it this year.  I will also be adding in some other poems and speeches as well as memorization in science, history, and latin.
    • Read for fun
      • While there are lots of books here for Sebastian to read and he does frequently look through books and magazines, he’s not the kind of kid who just picks up a book and starts reading it cover to cover.  Other than the assigned readers for school and some short picture books, he hasn’t really learned to read for fun.  So, starting this year he will have an assigned reading time 30 minutes per day where he will have to read a book of his choice.  I will record these books as he finishes them and as an incentive, he will be rewarded for every ten he reads.
    • Read to himself
      • Up until now Sebastian’s daily reading assignment has been read aloud to me.  Beginning this year, I will have him read to himself, then either write a narration (plot summary) of what he read, or answer comprehension questions to show he did the reading.  Once a week, I will have him read orally to practice fluency.
    • Learn to write well
      • I think this is another area where Sonlight is weak.  While there are some good creative writing assignments and dictation, I think there is not enough structure to the program.  I will be using another program that more directly teaches how to write well (Institute for Excellence in Writing, Writing with Ease, or Writing Strands).
    • Make a language notebook
    • Continue to learn new math concepts and improve math skills
    • Learn early American history
    • Complete weekly history projects
    • Study the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution
    • Make a history notebook
    • Learn New York state history
      • Make a separate New York state history notebook
    • Study the New York state constitution
    • Study various areas of science
      • Make a science notebook
      • Do an experiment each week and create an experiment page
      • Go for a nature walk (outdoor observation) each week and create a nature notebook page
    • Begin learning Latin
    • Participate in weekly picture study of famous works of art
    • Study art history from Renaissance to Modern
    • Begin learning to draw
    • Learn to appreciate classical music
    • Begin learning piano
    • Work daily on handicrafts
    • Complete daily household chores

    Goals for Xander:

    • Read, read, read
    • READ!
    • Listen to books being read
    • Learn to print letters and numbers
    • Learn to add and subtract
    • Participate in science experiments and nature walks
    • Participate in picture study and creative art
    • Work daily on handicrafts
    • Complete daily household chores

April 5, 2010

April 2, 2010

  • Living Richly

    I’m 30 years old and as I look at my life, it’s “the best of times and the worst of times.” 

    The best: 

    • We’re still (mostly) happily married 7 years later.
    • We have two (mostly) happy and healthy boys.
    • We live (mostly) debt-free (all that’s left is the mortgage).
    • I’m able to stay home with my kids and home educate them. 

    The worst: 

    • The war that has kept my husband away from home for over half our marriage and most of our children’s lives.
    • The economy.
    • My recurring bouts with depression and anxiety.
    • Battling hoarding and squalor in my life every. single. day.

    So as I look at my life, I try to see past the difficulties and see how good we really have it.  Sometimes though, it’s easy to get caught up in the mundane tasks of life.  It’s easy to get stuck in a rut where all I can see is the mess around me and in front of me and behind me.  It feels like trying to swim in quicksand.  I know I’m starting to get depressed when the routine starts to feel more like a burden than a blessing.

    And I know that for the past couple of weeks I’ve been in that rut.  I recognized it, and I immediately started thinking of what I could do to change it.  Instead of asking myself, “Why is life so hard?” “Why am I so unhappy?” I asked myself an entirely different question:  “What have I been neglecting?”  Because the truth is that life hasn’t changed all that much.  Things haven’t gotten any harder to do.  But if you neglect something long enough it starts screaming to be done and that can lead to feeling overwhelmed and out of control and overburdened and depressed.

    So what had I been neglecting?  Well, I had to start with the simple things.

    “Did I shower this morning?”  Being a stay-at-home mom who also home schools, there have been many days where I literally forgot to take a shower.  I don’t have to leave the house every day and we often get up and start school in our jammies, so, it’s easy for me to neglect my self-care.  Sometimes taking a shower, shaving my legs, and brushing my hair and teeth is all it takes to smooth the edges off of a rough day.

    “Do I have clean clothes to wear?”  This is another one that catches up with me.  When I’m digging in the bottom of the drawer to find something to wear, usually something old or ill-fitting, it’s depressing.  So for me, it’s important to recognize that if this is happening I need to take a day and just do laundry to wash all those things that I love to wear.  Oh, and then I need to wear them!  Also, I find that I don’t buy clothes as often for myself as I do for my children, so if my wardrobe is starting to look stained/holey or just old then I know I need to take the time and money and treat myself to something new.

    “Have I been following my home-keeping routines?”  Invariably if I’m depressed, the answer to this question is a big fat NO.  Now, whether the disordered house is a symptom of the disordered mind, or whether the disordered house leads to the disordered mind, I really can’t say.  It’s rather like the chicken and the egg.  It’s a moot point.  They’re both here now.  So what do I do about it?  Well, it helps me to revisit my routines and pinpoint which ones have fallen by the wayside.  I don’t care who you are, a sink full of dirty dishes is DEPRESSING!  So I pick one thing and I do it.  I vacuum the floor or wash the dishes and I do the best job I can do.  Then I sit back and re-evaluate my mood.  I’m always happier having it clean than I was when it was dirty.  Having a dirty home is doubly depressing.  First, it’s depressing to live in clutter and filth.  It really is.  Second, it’s depressing to have a mountain of work ahead of you.  By cleaning just one thing, you’ve gotten rid of some of the filth and reduced the total amount of work to do.  It’s instant stress-relief.  The important thing is to not look at how much there is left to do, instead sit back and enjoy the feeling of having accomplished the task and let that feeling motivate you to do more.

    So these are the sorts of questions I’ve been asking myself to help me get out of the rut.  And as I’ve thought about the answers to the questions, and the solutions to the problem, I’ve realized that part of my problem is that for most of my life I’ve lived poorly.

    Living Poorly:

    When most people imagine squalorous living conditions, their minds immediately turn to people in poverty.  They often assume that people who live in squalor must be poor, uneducated, and just “not know any better.”  For me, that’s not true at all.  For most of my life I’ve either lived in squalor or I’ve been fighting it.  I am a messy person.  I was a messy kid.  I have shelves full of books on how to clean.  I have bookmarks of multiple how-to-clean websites.  But when it comes down to it, my natural inclination is toward messiness.  It has never mattered how much money we had or didn’t have.  That wasn’t a factor at all. 

    So if our wealth, or lack-thereof, isn’t at issue, why do I struggle with squalor?  I think it has to do with my own self-worth.  For most of my life I’ve seen myself as somehow “less” than everyone else.  I often feel unworthy.  Even when I’ve been praised I’ve felt it was undeserved.  I don’t often compare myself to others, but when I look at myself I tend to think, “I’m not good enough.”  This is what I mean by “living poorly.”  Because I tend to see myself as less valuable, less worthy, undeserving, I also tend to live like it.  My family may or may not be poor by today’s financial standards, but I have lived most of my life poorly.

    Living Richly:

    What I want is to live richly!  It is going to take a lot of effort on my part to shift my way of thinking, but I believe that it’s important if I ever want to truly be free of burdensome, depressing living conditions.  I have to change the repeating messages in mind.  I need to believe that I am worthy.  I need to believe that I am deserving.  I need to believe that I’m good enough, strong enough, capable enough.  I need to believe that I deserve better than to live in filth and clutter.  I need to believe that I deserve to be pampered with a hot shower and clean clothes.  These are things that most people take for granted that they deserve, and yet, here I am struggling with them.  Why?  It must be because somewhere deep down inside I don’t believe I deserve any better.  That is what I want to work to change over the coming weeks and months.

    Living richly isn’t about how much money you have or how much you spend.  Living richly is about loving yourself enough to take care of yourself.  Living richly is embracing your life as something that God has given to you because He loves you and He has a purpose for you.  Living richly is believing that if God says you’re worthy, then who are you to question Him?  Living richly is being a good steward.  Living richly is caring for your husband and your children.  Living richly is looking at all those people who you think are better than you for whatever reason and telling yourself that they are not.  Other people are not better, they are just different.  Living richly means recognizing that you are where you are because of the choices you’ve made.  Life isn’t something that happens to you, it’s a series of choices.  Living richly means recognizing that the choices you make today effect the life you’ll have tomorrow.  Living richly means to stop coveting the life that others lead, and find ways you can create the life you want for yourself.  Living richly means to stop living in the dreamland of “someday” and to start living the very best life you can today!


September 13, 2009

  • Week In Review, Week in Preview

    Week In Review (things I accomplished this week in no particular order):

    • visited a church for children’s worship Tuesday night
    • visited a church for Sunday school and worship Sunday morning
    • contacted the Cub Scout leader about joining
    • ordered a book on carpentry for Sebastian
    • signed the boys up for the next kid’s building workshop at Lowe’s
    • finished our study of Vikings
    • picked up some lanterns and a candy bowl for Halloween at the dollar store (among other things)
    • bought some inexpensive (less than $5 each) pc games for the kids at Game Stop
    • ate lunch out at the Chinese buffet
    • took the boys to the big park on the military base
    • submitted my Angel Food Ministries order
    • began reading Don Quixote
    • continued reading A Thomas Jefferson Education
    • hurt my back picking up Xander during church
    • cleaned and organized the kitchen
    • made another huge dent in Mt. Washmore
    • went to the grocery store

    Week in Preview (things I’m planning for the coming week):

    • taking the boys back to children’s worship Tuesday night
    • beginning study of the middle ages
    • visiting the church we’re going to for children’s worship for Sunday services
    • picking up Angel Food on Saturday
    • beginning Sebastian’s carpentry unit with the Dangerous Book for Boys
    • continuing to read Don Quixote
    • continuing to read A Thomas Jefferson Education
    • cleaning and organizing the bathrooms
    • continuing to chip away at Mt. Washmore
    • plugging away at Sonlight Core 2, Week 8

    Have a blessed week!

September 9, 2009

  • Wednesday, September 9, 2009


    It’s been a busy year.  We’ve moved to a new state, purchased our first house, started a new school year with new regulations.  But every anxiety has been turned to good.  All the worries have worked themselves out and I can look back now and see how God’s hand was in it all along. 

    We’ve completed Week 6 of our homeschool curriculum.  My first quarter report will be due in just 2.5 weeks.  I’m so proud of Sebastian and how much he’s learned already.  And proud of Xander too, for following along and learning what he can.  He’s like a little sponge.  And I’m proud of me, for learning to be a better wife, mom, teacher, and housekeeper.  Not good… just better.  Always striving to be better.

    I hope everyone has been having a wonderful year.  I will try to update my blog more often.  No promises, just goals. 

    God bless you all,


January 14, 2009

  • Wednesday’s Did-Its
    Made breakfast: Oatmeal
    Taught homeschool:

    • Music:  Watched youtube videos of Carnival of Animals by Saint-Saens
    • P.E.:  PraiseMoves
    • Bible:  The Brazen Serpent; Keys for Kids devotion
    • Math:  Review 2
    • Language Arts:  Copywork

    Tuesday’s homeschool:

    • Language Arts:  Handwriting
    • Reading:  The Battle of Jericho
    • Literature:  Homer Price
    • History:  Sumerian civilization, Akkad, The Tower of Babel
    • Science:  Butterflies; experimenting with water; weather forecasting
    • Art:  Picture study of a painting… will add name later; creative art

January 12, 2009

  • Monday’s Did-Its
    Made breakfast:  Oatmeal and peanut butter sandwiches
    Taught homeschool:

    • P.E.:  PraiseMoves
    • Bible:  Keys for Kids, “The Awesomeness of God”; Afraid of Giants
    • Math:  Review 1
    • Language Arts:  Copywork

    I didn’t make a “did-it” list for Friday, so I will just write what we did for school here.

    Friday’s Did-Its
    Taught homeschool:

    • Reading:  The Twelve Spies
    • Literature:  Homer Price
    • History:  Noah’s Ark
    • Geography:  Music and dancing
    • Science:  Floods and deserts; Medicine in Mesopotamia
    • Art:  The Oddie Children by Sir William Beechey; creative art
    • Music:  Carnival of Animals narrated by Bernstein

January 8, 2009

  • Thursday’s Did-It List
    Got dressed
    Made breakfast:  cold cereal w/milk
    Played music for the kids and watched them dance
    Taught homeschool:

    • Music:  Contemporary music; Peter and the Wolf: identifying instruments by sound w/ characters from story; looked up musical instruments on the internet for pictures and to listen to samples of each one
    • P.E.:  Chicken Fat Exercise; Dance party to the Gummy Bear song (twice! lol)
    • Bible:  Keys for Kids devotion:  Obey and be Safe; “Aaron and Miriam Complain”
    • Math:  Ordinal numbers; subtraction practice
    • Language Arts:  Copywork & handwriting

    Made lunch:  Ravioli w/ parmesan & fruit
    Checked the oil level