Friday, September 26, 2008

Forest Festival

Apparently Grandma and Grandpa recovered from our 10 days of living together because they invited the girls and me back for a trip to the Forest Festival. So today we all loaded up in Grandpa's truck and headed to Lufkin. No one knew exactly what to expect because we had never been before, but it was lots of fun!

When we first got there, Hannah spotted a Home Depot booth with ready-to-assemble projects for kids. She decided to build a bird house because she just finished studying birds, then she came back later to build a tool box for Daddy.

This guy was amazing! He took a chunk of tree trunk and, using only a chainsaw, turned it into a turtle. Might not be the most useful talent, but impressive all the same.

Hannah had fun jumping on the moonwalk and sliding on the slide, but we couldn't get Millie to do it. (She's a little like her Mama . . . not an adventurous bone in her body!)

While Hannah jumped, Grandma helped Millie make a butterfly. Then Hannah came and made one, too.

At first, Millie refused to ride any rides, but she finally mustered up enough courage to try one. She loved it, of course; and I tried my hardest not to give her the "I-told-you-so" talk when she got off.

The petting zoo had typical animals like goats and cows, but it also had more exotic animals like camels and zebras. (Maybe not exotic like panda bears or aardvarks, but definitely not something we see a lot of in our neck of the woods!)

The kids never get tired of petting animals, so we stayed...and stayed...and stayed...and stayed. (You get the idea.) By the time we made it over to the alligator show area, it was already full; so we decided just to head home.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure if the kids were more tired or if the adults were! But I do know that everyone has one year to recover, and then we're going back to catch that alligator show!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nn Nest

Today we finished our Nn Nest unit. We know that God's timing is always perfect, and He demonstrated that for us this week when we found two birds' nests in our yard while cleaning up post-Ike debris! They were both empty, but I scooped them up anyway so Hannah could examine them (sorry, Steph!) and see how they were constructed.

We started off our week by talking about a variety of animals and their habitats. We discussed cold climates, warm climates, mountains, rainforests, jungles, swamps, deserts, meadows, ponds, holes, caves, trees, and so on. We made cards with pictures of several types of animals and several habitats, then played Go Fish to match the animals with their habitats.

Later, we focused on birds and their nests. We talked about the different materials birds use to build their nests (such as small twigs, pine needles, and leaves) and the materials they use to insulate them (such as human hair and mud). We were shocked (and a little disgusted) to learn that there are even birds that use spit and dung to make their nests! (Yeah, you read that right.) We decided that living in a house made of poop would really stink! (Sorry...couldn't resist.)

I think the thing that impressed us the most, however, was learning that not all birds build the same type of nest, but every bird is born knowing how to make its particular type of nest. By the time they build their first nest, they haven't seen a mom or dad make one to model the process for them; they just know how it's done. (How evolutionists can explain that is far beyond me.)

In addition to the animal habitat cards, Hannah had four other activities for this unit. Her first activity was making five cards that each depicted one stage in a bird's life (egg, baby in a nest, flying away, building its own nest, and laying eggs). Her second activity was making a picture of a bird's nest in a tree, which was lots of fun! She painted the trunk with brown paint; used torn up pieces of green paper for the leaves; and used raffia, yarn, and pine needles for the nest. Then she drew a picture of a bird on construction paper and glued it onto the nest.

For her third project, we read A House Is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman, and Hannah wrote her own (much smaller!) version of that book. This was sooooo much fun! We made a huge list of all kinds of houses (a cereal box is a house for cereal, a purse is a house for keys, etc.), and chose the ones that rhymed to make her book. Then I wrote the words on each page and helped her assemble it so she could do the illustrations.

And our final project for this unit was to attempt to build an actual bird's nest. We gathered all of our materials, grabbed our two model nests, and went up into the fort part of Hannah's swing set to start building. We soon decided it's a good thing God creates baby birds knowing how to do this because it's a lot harder than it looks! (And we even cheated by using Spanish moss, which I just knew would make it quick and easy!)

We put our finished product in one of our Azalea bushes just in case a homeless bird that's too lazy to build its own nest flies by, but so far we haven't had any takers.

Hannah's special words to remember this week were "God takes good care of me."

We spent time talking about how God protects us just like a mother bird shelters her babies under her wing, and we also talked about the place Jesus is preparing for us in heaven right now. This was fascinating to Hannah and led to some pretty deep questions and rich discussion about what heaven might/might not be like. I'm pretty sure that Hannah has heard the message of salvation at least 1,000 times between our conversations at home and what she has learned at BSF, church, AWANA, and Vacation Bible School; but there was definitely something different in her eyes when we talked about it today while she was initiating the questions.

Giving God the glory,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

There must be some misunderstanding

Yesterday we got word from a couple of our neighbors that our electricity is back on, so we decided to head back to our house and let Grandma and Grandpa restore peace and order to their home. (Thanks for putting up with us for so long, Mom and Dad!)

On the way home, we were listening to a song called "One Basket" by Rob Evans (aka the Donut Man), who is quite possibly the most talented person in children's ministry today. Anyway, these are the actual lyrics to the song we were listening to:

One basket,
Two fish and
Five loaves of barley bread.

Here are the lyrics as my 5-year-old understood them:

One basket,
Two fish and
Five loaves of garlic bread.

I couldn't help but giggle as I pictured Jesus and the Twelve sitting on a mountainside with this enormous crowd eating garlic bread and slurping spaghetti noodles. Out of the mouths of babes!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Trip to the zoo

Today we decided to get away for a while and take the kids to the zoo. Every time we go, they're able to make it a little farther before they start getting tired, and this time they lasted all the way through the Africa exhibit and didn't start getting tired until we got to the monkey house. Hannah did perk up when we got to the snake house, though.

As always, the girls' favorite parts of the trip were the train ride, which I somehow ended up not getting a picture of, and the park area, which I also somehow ended up not getting a picture of. (Feel free to vote for me at Kidding.) Anyway, here are a few pics from our zoo day:

As much fun as the kids had on our zoo day today, I think it was actually Greg who enjoyed it the most. Usually when he goes to the zoo, it's in 90-plus degree weather. This was a real treat for him, and it was a real treat for us to have him there with us!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I think I'm hooked

Let me just start this post off by saying that if you're not a homeschooling mom, a member of my family, or a really close friend, you'll probably find this post incredibly boring. Aw, heck, who am I kidding? Even if you are a homeschooling mom, a member of my family, or a really close friend, there's still a really good chance that this post will bore you to tears, so you have my permission to completely skip it and not feel the least bit guilty about doing so.

Last week I found what could easily be my new addiction. Better than Dancing with the Stars, you ask? I think so. Better than blogging? Quite possibly. Better than . . . Mexican food? Well, now, let's not be unrealistic! But it is something really neat; it's lapbooking.

Last week, Hannah and I made our very first lapbook as part of her apple unit. I was very interested in it and wanted to try it out, but I was amazed at how much fun we had putting the whole thing together!

The front of Hannah's lapbook has four sections.

The first section is a list of Apple Facts that we compiled from various books we read. The second section is Parts of an Apple. When you lift the flap, you see a diagram of an apple. I wrote the name of each part as Hannah identified it to me. The third section is Varieties of Apples. In this pocket there are six cards that each contain information about a different type of apple. And finally, there is a Life Cycle section. When you open this section, you find six cards which each contain a small picture that illustrates the different stages in the development of an apple tree. Hannah has had a lot of fun putting these cards in the right order.

When you open up the cover, you find the second "page" of the lapbook.

This page basically has two parts. The first part is three questions that Hannah came up with about apples, and the second part is three interesting facts she wanted to share. Here is a list of the questions she chose:

Q How do apples grow?
A They grow on trees. They need water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide.

Q How do apples get from the orchards to the market?
A Tractors take them to a plant. They are prepared with machines, then trucks drive them to the market.

Q How do apples get picked off of trees?
A They are hand picked by people because machines will bruise them.

And here is a list of the facts she chose:

Did you know... when apples get to the plant, special machines core then, peel them, and bake them so they can become special snacks?

Did you know... apples start out as flowers? The flowers are pink at first, then they turn white. If you look at the bottom of an apple, you can still see part of the flower!

Did you know... that it is very important to wash apples and all other fruit before you eat it? If you don't wash it, you could become very sick!

When you lift the Johnny Appleseed flap, you come to the third and final page in our lapbook, which is about—obviously—Johnny Appleseed.

This page has six sections. The first section is a brief biography of John Chapman.

The second section is the Johnny Appleseed Grace. When you lift the flap, you see the Johnny Appleseed Grace at the top of the page. (The Lord is good to me / And so I thank the Lord / For giving me / The things I need / The sun, the rain, and the appleseed / The Lord is good to me.) Than Hannah made a list of things for which she is thankful, which included apple seeds, that God is so great, Bible stories, that Jesus will come in peace, Grandma & Grandpa and MeeMaw & Kimpaw, Mom & Dad and Millie, and for the things God gave me because they're a gift! (Hmmm...apparently she found her halo and dusted off the cobwebs just before answering that question. It's not always like that, I assure you!) Finally, we glued 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus) to the bottom.

The third section is a Fact or Fiction activity. When you open this part, there are three pockets. In the middle pocket there are eight pieces of paper, each with a statement about John Chapman. If the statement is true, we put it in the Fact pocket on the left; if it's false, we put it in the Fiction pocket on the right.

The fourth section is called Kindness and Stewardship. When you lift the flap, there are three mini-booklets underneath (one for Plants, one for Animals, and one for People). Inside each booklet, we wrote how John exhibited good stewardship or kindness in that particular area of his life. In the Plants booklet, we wrote, "John Chapman planted orchards from apple seeds. He used every part of the apple to make apple pie, apple cider, apple vinegar, apple butter, and to plant apple trees." In the Animals booklet, we wrote, "John would NOT kill animals. He would not even carry a knife or gun." And in our People booklet, we wrote, "He gave apple trees to pioneer families. He told children stories from the Bible and stories about his adventures. He warned settlers of a British attack. He was a friend of Indians."

The fifth section has a picture of Johnny Appleseed; and when you open it up, you find four flaps that each list a part of his body (on his head, on his body, in his hands, on his feet). When you lift those flaps, you read our description of what you would find on that part of his body (a mush-pot, sackcloth shirts, apple seeds, nothing).

And the final section is Johnny Appleseed's Travels. When you open it up, you find a map of the United States of America with those states that Johnny Appleseed visited colored in.

The one drawback to this project is that it was very time-consuming. (And I even printed out most of our activities from this web site, so the majority of the work was already done for me!) Still, it really was a fun experience and such a creative, interactive way for her to go back and revisit something we've already studied anytime she feels like it!

All right . . . if you're still with me, I'm sure your eyelids are pretty heavy, so go get yourself a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Well blow me down!

Yep, apparently Ike watched some Popeye before he made his way through a very large portion of the state of Texas because he blew things down all over the place!

We went back home today to assess the damage. Everything looked pretty good until we got to our master bedroom and found a tree had come through the ceiling in 4 different places! There was water everywhere, and there was already a very musty, mildewy, nasty stench.

After checking everything out, we decided that Ike must have gone to the Amelia Bedelia School of Home Design.

When we mentioned wanting a roof garden, we pictured something like this:

But this is what Ike had in mind:

We thought it would be great to have a trellis to sit under, but we pictured something like this:

This is what Ike delivered:

Relationships with neighbors are important, so we thought maybe a bridge to connect our yard with our backyard neighbor's would be nice. This is what we pictured:

This is what we got:

We also thought an arbor to connect our yard to our next door neighbor's yard might seem welcoming. We envisioned something along these lines:

But, of course, Ike chose to work with what was available, so this is what we ended up with:

We knew a skylight in the patio—something like this—would be a great addition:

But this is what Ike chose to fashion for us instead:

The kids said they wanted a pond to fish in:

But they never dreamed it would mean giving up the swimming pool!

We thought a fireplace insert like this would be nice:

But instead, Ike chose to insert something into the other end of the fireplace:

As for the inside, we knew we needed to do a better job of "bringing the outdoors in," as they say. We thought this could be accomplished by adding a few plants:

But Ike said it was a waste to only use plants when you could use trees instead:

And finally, we thought an indoor waterfall would give us just the ambience we were looking for. We pictured something like this:

But, as always, Ike had something a little different in mind:

Here is the "little house in the big woods" we bought 9 years ago.

Two hurricanes later, it's basically just a "little house."

And yet we remain completely confident that God is with us in the midst of this and that He is in control! We know that He is our provider. He gave us this house nine years ago, and we are confident that He will see us through all of the repairs that need to be made to it now. We know that He is our protector. Obviously he gave our family a safe place to stay during the storm, but He has also protected our hearts. After two hurricanes, we are more convinced than ever that it is for our own good that God tells us not to store up treasures on earth! He knows they're only temporary, and He doesn't want us to be heartbroken when something happens to them! We were created to glorify God—not the things of this world—and there is an indescribable peace that comes from doing just that. And finally, we know that God loves children! The first picture is Hannah's swing set after Rita came through in 2005, and the second one is the girls' swing set after Ike came through. Call me corny, but every time I sing "Jesus Loves the Little Children" these days, this is what I picture in my head!

Confident that God is our Jehovah-Jireh,