Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Clarity of God's Word

I recently took a trip to the shores of Lake Erie to visit some of my husband’s family and enjoy a day or two of sand under my feet. I love (LOVE) to take photos and scrapbook them so I had my big Nikon DSLR with me, as well as my camera phone, to capture shots. Since I’m normally trying to keep up with four kids while I’m out and about, it’s been rare of late that I even pull out my big camera and take it anywhere. I am usually a strictly iPhone girl because of size and convenience, so I was really enjoying playing with the good camera as we were out on the beach and taking advantage of getting some close ups of my munchkins...

You can read the rest over on the Jelly Telly blog!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Looking for Light

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I’ve recently become acquainted (and enamored) with a new-to-me blog called Pink Ronnie. I discovered her through Project Life earlier this year and have enjoyed a peek into her scrapbooking process and style.

One of the things that I have admired about her photos is her constant search for light and shadow in her home. It’s inspired me to look around my room for some fresh perspective on our home.

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We have lived here now for a little over two years and while I still am so thankful and grateful for this beautiful home we have, some of the newness is wearing off and I’m forgetting to be as thankful as I once was. There are dings in door facings and scuffs on baseboards. The school room is the hottest room in the house during the summer which is somewhat frustrating as it’s where we spend most of our time.

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However, in the grand scheme of these, the inconveniences are SO MINOR. We have plenty of room, clean water, a roof over our head that doesn’t leak and the blessings could go on.

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Sometimes a little refocusing is in order. I’m thankful for this lesson that is working on my heart.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Project Life ::: April 22-28, 2013

Today we had an unheard of Saturday. One where absolutely NOTHING was on the calendar. Fabulous. It has been a day of getting things done around here. T has been doing some home maintenance kinds of things, and I’ve made a quick run out for produce and ice cream (a.k.a. necessities!) Otherwise, we’ve been working on projects and just enjoying the day as a family! To that end, I managed to get the journaling finished on THREE PL weeks. Yahoo. : ) I’m only sharing one of them on the blog. The other two were both weeks that wrapped up tons of end of the year activities and programs and I just didn’t have the stamina to mess with photographing and writing a post about those two weeks. I may share a few highlights later, but today, it’s all about April.
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On the left:
  • I made a title card from the digi Kraft kit because I needed a spot to put this great picture of a cow!
  • N1 reading at someone’s soccer game.
  • a great night at softball where she got one of the game balls
  • another shot at another soccer practice
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In the journaling card slots there is a picture of the boy at a softball (lots of game and practice shots in this week!) and one that is a screen shot from my phone after run.
On this side we have:
  • a field trip documented
  • a boy playing peek-a-boo
  • the one photo from a party for my parents’ birthday (complete with photobombing nephew)
  • T and the boy out for a daddy-date for pizza
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I needed a place to put my journaling for the our field trip to Hatcher Dairy so I used one of Splendid Fiins flips digi journaling cards. I forgot I had these, but it worked great to get some extra writing in!
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Martha Stewart file labels seem to make it in almost every layout.
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Super simple and so glad to see another one in the books.
Kits used:
Project Life is a product and a system created by Becky Higgins and available on Amazon.com, DigitalProjectLife.com, and many major craft retailers. It can be anything you want it to be. You can view all my posts about Project Life here. I'm always happy to answer questions about how Project Life works for me, if you have any.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gearing Up for School with Lapbooks ::: a Review

It is hard to believe that two weeks from today we will start our 4th year of homeschooling … I still feel like such a novice at this! We are planning on starting the first full week of August, and then we will add in Classical Conversations at the end of the month. Gives us a few weeks to get our feet wet with home and new fall routines before adding in our outside classes!

This year, I’m hoping to do a much better job of working with the girls on our CC memory work. Last year – to be true – we were flying by the seat of our pants as first year CC-ers and tutor. We never got into a great routine of reviewing the material other than in the car, and then, it would be just certain subjects like the timeline song over and over and over again. And review? We were doing good just to KEEP UP.

That’s why, when Karen Gill from Wisdom and Righteousness offered to send me the complete set of her Cycle 2 Lapbooks in exchange for a review I jumped at the chance! These are set up so that you can do them in the traditional file folder format or in a binder. We are going to go with a three prong folder for our books and then review them in six week increments. If needed, then I can also move pages around so that they are grouped by subject if there is a particular area someone needs practice in.

Please note these are not a substitution for the Foundations book that you purchase as part of CC – in fact, without it, you will be hard pressed to complete the lapbooks because there are a lot of blanks to fill in.

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Her lapbook elements are very well done. Almost a little on the complicated side in my opinion, coming from someone who has mostly done the free lapbooks from Homeschool Share. However, she gives very details instruction on how to assemble the parts which I appreciated and gives recommendations of what type of paper she suggests for different parts. I ended up just making mine with regular copy paper and will have some gluing to do to assemble some of the parts back to back.

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For my up and coming fourth grader, who I am highly suggesting work towards memory master this coming year (mastery/memorization of all seven CC subjects), I think she will be able to take this resource and fly with it. I’ll probably need to give a little guidance on the assembly of some of the parts, but overall, I think she can manage most of it independently. For my rising second grader, I think she will need more help assembling her lapbook and even cutting out some of the more complicated pieces. (However, cutting out the parts is one of the things I mind the least – put on a movie in the evening and sit down with my scissors and I can get it knocked out in no time flat). : ) As for my third student, I will mostly likely NOT use this lapbook with B. While she is moving on to 1st grade this year, she is not reading or writing well enough to put together one of these lapbooks (I can give more details on this if asked), so she I will continue to do all of her memory work orally – with lots of signing, singing, and movement!

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Thank you so much to Karen for shooting a copy of these lapbooks my way! They are going to be a GREAT resource for my older girls this coming year and I’m looking forward on working with them to put these together.

I received a copy of the complete Cycle 2 memory lapbooks for the purpose of this review – no other compensation was given. These are my honest thoughts on these lapbooks and am happy to answer any further questions on them if there is something you are interested in knowing about.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Lunch and prereading a book for the oldest.

While on our vacation last week, I caught sight of a book laying on one of the tables: Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. My cousin-in-law’s sweet 4th grader told me that she had read this last year in school and it was so good. Always on the lookout for books for N1 (or new authors to explore), I ordered a copy on Amazon to check out.

Breadcrumbs is a modern retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen. (This is a fairy tale that I was unfamiliar with but I got the gist of it thanks to a quick read-up on it via Wikipedia.) Jack and Hazel are best friends. In Hazel’s small world of divorced parents and as a new 5th grader in the local public school, Jack is her only friend. The relationship is severed when Jack gets a piece of glass from a broken enchanted mirror in his eye and it hardens his heart to Hazel. Hazel can’t understand what has happened, and when Jack mysteriously disappears, she goes in search of him. Hazel has to find her way through an enchanted forest, discerning who she can trust and who isn’t safe, as she searches for her friend. Based on the little that I know of the original story, I found this a clever modern retelling that I found well done.

I’ve recently been listening, learning, and thinking about the importance of reading fairy tales to my munchkins. Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things tipped me off to a talk by Andrew Pudewa (of Institute for Excellence in Writing) on Fairy Tales and the Moral Imagination that was excellent (and worth the few dollars for the download). I won’t due justice to the talk, but one of the things that I pulled away was the danger in modern literature in taking those characters that are considered universally evil, and making them the hero or good guy in the story. In doing this, it blurs the lines between good and evil – everything is gray because any character can be good or evil when in reality (and in Scripture which is what my reality is based on) there IS a definite black and white / good and evil in the world. In traditional fairy tales, the good character is ALWAYS good, and evil bad guy is ALWAYS evil and these stories reinforce that truth and that it is noble to fight for good at all times. This is a picture of what we see in the Bible and what I want and need to be constantly reinforcing with my kids.

That tangent to explain that I liked this story. There was a clear evil that Jack had to be rescued from and it was through Hazel’s love for him that this was accomplished. I don’t know that I would hand this off to the minimum age recommended on the book cover (8-12). It seems like it would be better understood and discussed by an older age (10 and up), depending on the maturity of the child.

If you are interested in some more reading on fairy tales and the benefits to reading them to your children some links to pass on:

- Sarah blogs about this so much better than I could in this post and this one and I highly recommend them to you.

- Carrie (at Reading to Know) talking on it here, here and here.

- Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Childis on my TBR list and was the free book at this year’s Classical Conversations practicum.

- T is reading A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind right now and I hope to steal it off his stack soon.

Affiliate Amazon links scattered throughout. : )0

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Read-Aloud Thursday ::: Little Threads by Elizabeth Prentiss

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We became acquainted with Lamplighter Books at a recent homeschooling conference we attended. Lamplighter is a Christian publishing company whose goal is to “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord, by building Christ-like character one story at a time.” The founder, Mark Hamby, has searched out wonderful old, character driven tales that were out of print and republished them in beautiful hardbound books. They are trying to make these stories available both in print and in audio theater versions and we have been enjoying listening and reading them!

The girls and I recently finished one as our afternoon read-aloud – Little Threads by Elizabeth Prentiss. If that name rings a bell, it should! Mrs. Prentiss is also the author of the well-known Stepping Heavenward: One Woman's Journey to Godliness. This is a children’s tale which she wrote in the 1863 when she was about 45 years old and the mother of three young children. This book was written with the intent to be used as a tool for children to learn obedience and I have to say that this mama learned a few things from it as well.

The story is built around the lives of two little girls. One named Tangle Thread – a girl with an unruly and disobedient disposition, and Golden Thread – one who tried her best to be obedient and think of others over herself. Tangle Thread was the daughter of a godly woman who was well-to-do, and she caused her mother much grief with her behavior and selfishness. Golden Thread, by contrast, was the child of a very poor washer woman, and the bright spot in her day. The paths of the two girls eventually cross changes the courses of both their lives.

I loved the wonderful message within these pages. There was no tiptoeing around the message that our goal is to try to become more Christ-like in our behavior and Tangle Thread’s mother never gave up (though she did grow weary) in teaching and training her daughter:

“…she loved her child too well to do this [give up in training her because the task was hard]; and she loved God too well not to try to do the work He had given her to do in the best possible manner, leaving it to Him to make that work hard or easy as He thought best. (p.38-39).

“What to do next for her child she knew not, but God saw her grief and pain, and heard her prayers. He put new courage and patience in her heart.She said to herself: ‘I have a very hard task to perform. I must teach this child obedience, but I see that this cannot be done at once. I must go on day after day, trusting in God to lead me every step of the way. I must pray more, I must love her more, I must be more gentle and tender, but I must have her obedience.” (p.102)

While my girls enjoyed the tale about the two girls, there were definitely some encouraging (and direct!) words for me in here. Parenting is my God-given, first priority, and it’s so easy to put other things in front of that and overlook areas where I need to be staying top of my children in their character development. I spend more time being focused on doing and going and just-get-your-work-done aspects of parenting, instead of being slow and intentional and focusing on the character and habits they are developing behind it all. This book was a wonderful reminder of some of those things!

Linking up with Amy for Read-Aloud Thursday!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Wind in the Willows ::: A Reading to Know Bookclub Post

We were traveling hither and yon last week and I missed being able to post a link to the Reading to Know bookclub for July. T and N2 traveled to Guatemala for nine days to serve on a mission trip…

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While I traveled north to Ohio to visit T’s family and spend a couple days on the cool shores of Lake Erie. : )
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Hopefully more pics soon of BOTH trips.

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Anyway, this month, we are reading Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and I’m hosting! : ) The intro post went live last week on Carrie’s blog and you can catch up here.

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Hope you can join us!