Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Today the kids and I went to a Halloween party at Yvette's house and had a lot of fun! There were around 10 to 15 kids there, and each mom was responsible for coming up with one activity for the kids to do. By the time the day was over, they had decorated fall cookies with icing and sprinkles, bobbed for apples, made a Halloween candy necklace, and carved jack-o-lanterns while listening to a story about the way God cleans out our insides so His light can shine in us. Fun day!

Tonight, however, is the biggie. As a rule, we don't take our kids trick-or-treating. I wish I could say it's because I don't want to flirt with anything that is in any way connected to evil, but the truth is, we don't take our kids trick-or-treating because I end up feeling judged by other Christians for doing it! (Honestly, is it that bad to dress them up as ballerinas or angels and let someone put candy in their buckets?) So this year, I'm breaking out of my mold, refusing to give in to Christian peer pressure, allowing my convictions to come from the Holy Spirit rather than other people . . . yeah, yeah, yeah . . . long story short, we're going trick-or-treating!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Silly Millie

When I was picking up last night, this is what I found in Millie's closet:

So I called her back to her room and very gently asked her, "Millie, when Mommy tells you to put your shoes and socks away at night, have you been putting them here?"


"They don't go here, Sweetie. Your socks go in the hamper."

So this is what I found when I went to do a load of laundry this morning:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dd Dinosaur

Today we finished our Dd Dinosaur unit. This unit was loads of fun! I mean, c'mon, what kid doesn't like dinosaurs?!

We started off our unit by reading several non-fiction books about dinosaurs. Books we got from the library. The public library. Books that mention the awful, dreaded "e" word. "You mean you taught your child about evolution?!" Of course I did! How else is she going to know how to defend it if she doesn't know it's out there?! But I also have to add that we read a remarkable book written by John Morris and Ken Hamm called What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs, which did a most excellent job of presenting the science in the context of the Scriptures, which is exactly the way I'm convinced God wants it to be done. Okay. . . thanks for letting me borrow your soap box. You can have it back now.

So what exactly did I teach Hannah during our dinosaur unit? Well, we looked at Genesis 1:20-26, first of all, to see exactly when God made these creatures. Then we looked at pictures of all different kinds of dinosaurs to get an idea of the creativity He displayed when he made them! We talked about the environments they lived in, the kinds of food they may have eaten, whether they flew or walked, etc. We also spent some time talking about paleontology, which really piqued Hannah's interest.

We spent a lot of time studying the bodies of the dinosaurs to see what unique traits they had. Some of them had bony plates; others had pointed tails; still others had sharp spiny bones protruding from their heads or their backs. After we looked at all of the details, Hannah chose her favorite dinosaurs and we drew pictures of them. Correction: After we looked at all of the details, Hannah chose her favorite dinosaurs and started drawing pictures of them but whined so much about how she hates to draw that I finally handed her the Play-Doh and told her to start sculpting them so that I could finish the drawing part in peace. Here are a few pictures of our finished projects.

This is a Tyrannosaurus. Hannah drew the picture and sculpted the dinosaur completely on her own!

This is a Rhamphorhynchus. (Say that three times quickly!) Hannah drew the picture, and I sculpted the body.

This is a Plesiosaurus. I was quite proud of Hannah for noticing that he must have lived in the water because he has flippers like a sea turtle. I drew this one, and Hannah sculpted it.

And this is a Styracosaurus. I drew it, and we sculpted it together.

We spent some time talking about the fossils paleontologists have found and how they put them together like a puzzle to see what the dinosaurs might have looked like when they were alive. We went outside and measured 110 feet, which is the length of the Ultrasaurus, one of the longest dinosaurs. She really, really, really loved this activity because (1) she got to play with Greg's tape measure, which she thoroughly enjoys for some odd reason, and (2) she was able to understand its mammoth size when she could see that its tail was at one end of her driveway and its head was almost to her neighbor's house.

Hannah's special words to remember this week were "Big and small, God made them all." (Again, no picture of Hannah wearing the badge. I'll have to work on that! But here's a picture of the badge so you can see what it looks like.)

Her curriculum is focusing pretty heavily right now on God as Creator, which thrills me to no end. As we go through our units throughout the rest of Kindergarten, it's so important for her to understand that everything we study was created by God. Not to mention the fact that there's no better way to understand your own worth than to realize that you were created! You're not just some random accident; you're not here by chance. Somebody loved you enough to form you in your mother's womb! I pray that Hannah and Camille will understand that, and even more that that knowledge will give their lives purpose.

Praising the Author of Life,

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Unexpected answer to prayer

This afternoon, Hannah went outside to play for awhile. After a few minutes, she came back inside, yelling, "Mom, look what Mrs. Donna gave me!" She had gone to visit our new next door neighbors, and in her hands she held a stack of books, coloring books, and school boxes filled with crayons.

"She gave those to you?" I asked.


"Gave them to you to keep, or gave them to you to play with while you were over there?"

"Gave them to me to keep!"

Confident that Hannah had misunderstood, we walked next door to clear things up and return the stolen goods. Sure enough, Hannah knew what she was talking about. (Why do I always seem to doubt her???)

Anyway, after we determined that she really had intended for Hannah to keep the armful of treasures, Donna said, "So you homeschool her?"

Gulp. Almost immediately, my palms began to sweat, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and the wings of a million butterflies simultaneously began to flutter inside my stomach.

"I do." I heard the words calmly and confidently come out of my mouth, but they didn't match the emotions in my heart. My heart was crying out to her, "Please, please don't judge me!" Oftentimes I feel the need to justify our decision to homeschool, but this time I didn't. In fact, I didn't say anything else. And neither did she. There was just silence.

I was trying to guess what thoughts might be going through her head. Maybe she was imagining how terribly "unsocialized" Hannah would be from not being in a room full of 20 other 5-year-olds five days a week. Maybe she was wondering if I was planning on doing this "forever." Maybe she was thinking that I was arrogant for assuming I was better qualified to teach my child than someone "with proper training," or even worse that we were in a cult or were child abusers. The silence was killing me.

Then she said, "I did, too."

"What?!" I asked, shocked.

"I did, too. I pulled my son out when he was in 3rd grade and homeschooled him all the way through graduation."

So this is how God answered my prayer! That house was vacant for over a year, and I prayed the entire time that God would send a family with young children to live there. "And God," I pleaded with Him, "I'd really love it if you could make it a homeschool family so my kids can play with their kids during the day!" But then Donna and Jay moved in, empty nest and all. "Thanks a lot, God," I thought, disappointed. "Glad to know you got my back on that one." But today, it all made sense.

I thought I knew exactly what I needed, but God knew so much better. He knew I didn't need a peer to "figure it all out" with, but rather a mentor who had already walked this path before me and could be a voice of wisdom and experience. Someone who could offer a sympathetic and understanding shoulder to cry on when I have a rotten day. Someone who could be encouraging and supportive and say, "You're doing great. Keep it up!"

I thought I knew. But He knew best.

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~Psalm 139

Praising God that He does know our hearts, even better than we do!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A daughter's first love

Greg had a game tonight, so it was just the girls and me at bedtime. When it was my turn to pray, I spent a couple of minutes praying for the girls' future husands. After I finished praying, Hannah said, "When I grow up, I'm gonna marry Daddy."

Sorry, Hannah-Boo! Daddy's taken! But I pray you find someone just like him! Someone who loves the Lord and seeks to walk in His ways. Someone who loves his family and is a wonderful leader. Someone who has an amazing work ethic and is always willing to help others. Someone who is so amazingly strong and yet such a gentle giant. Someone who is courteous, trustworthy, respectful, considerate, and tenderhearted.

Daddy's taken, Sweetie; but if that's who you have your eyes on, then you're looking at a wonderful model!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Uu Us

Today we finished our Uu Us unit. This was primarily a study about the five senses, but we expanded it a little bit to include information about the muscular system and the skeletal system because Hannah has been asking lots of questions lately about how our bodies move, why they don't just fall over like rubber bands, etc. Plus we have some friends with a fantastic The Magic School Bus: Human Body DVD that they were willing to part with for the week.

Usually Day 1 of each unit is when I share new information with Hannah from non-fiction books, encyclopedias, magazines, or whatever other resources we can get our hands on. For this unit, however, I only shared information about the muscular and skeletal systems on Day 1. For the remaining five days, I shared information about one of the five senses each day.

On the second day of our unit, we talked about hearing. We read a chapter from one of her books that explained how our ears are actually feeling vibrations when we hear noises. Then we played a game where we took turns blindfolding each other, and the person who wasn't blindfolded would make a noise and ask the blindfolded person to identify it. It surprised me that Hannah was so surprised to learn how many sounds she could identify without the use of her sight. We talked about how people who can't see rely on their hearing a lot more than those of us who can see.

The next day we studied smell. We read a chapter in one of her books about smell, and then I blindfolded Hannah again to see what objects she could recognize by scent alone. She recognized cinnamon and an orange, but couldn't quite place pepper or an onion. I thought about going to the trash can and grabbing one of Millie's poopie diapers but decided that just would have been mean. I am confident, however, that she would have guessed it right away!

On the fourth day, we studied sight. As we read through our chapter, Hannah thought it was pretty funny that our eyes actually see images upside down and our brains have to flip them over for us! After we read, I blindfolded Hannah again (picking up on a theme here?) and had her draw a picture without looking. She chose to draw an apple (kind of her "thing" right now). Then I took the blindfold off and had her draw the same thing again on a different piece of paper so she could see how much better her drawing was when she could see her pencil and paper.

On the fifth day, we talked about taste. We learned that there are different types of taste buds and each type is located on a different part of the tongue. For example, our bitter taste buds are located at the back of our tongue; our salty taste buds are on the sides toward the back; our sour taste buds are on the sides toward the front; and our sweet taste buds are right smack dab in the front and center. (Doesn't that explain a lot?!) After we read our chapter, it was time to take out the ol' blindfold and play another game. I had Hannah taste a sample of four different flavors of pureed baby food. (I chose pureed because I wanted her only to rely on her sense of taste, not her sense of touch.) She was able to identify applesauce and bananas, but she didn't guess green beans (shocking because it seems like we eat them every day) or broccoli (although she was able to tell me that it tasted and smelled really gross). This opened up a discussion about how our sense of taste is heavily impacted by our sense of smell, which is why our food sometimes tastes different when we have a stuffy nose.

Finally, today we talked about our sense of touch. We read our chapter and learned that we have different kinds of nerves all over our bodies. Some nerves sense pain; others sense hot or cold, soft or hard, smooth or rough, etc. We also discussed that the nerves are more sensitive in certain parts of your body, such as your fingertips. After we finished reading, I got a lunch bag and filled it with several smaller toys from the play room to see if Hannah could identify them by reaching her hand into the bag and feeling them, and she guessed every one correctly! I know she "got it" when we talked about different nerves having different jobs because when she scraped her leg this afternoon, she ran inside with a huge smile on her face and proudly reported, "Mom, my pain nerves are hurting right now!" It was really quite comical!

Hannah's special words to remember this week were "God made us WONDERFUL!" (I didn't get a picture of her wearing her badge this week, but this is what it looks like.)

We spent a lot of time focusing on the simple but essential truth that God created us. We read The Luckiest One of All by Bill Peet, which is basically a book about being content with who you are. (A little boy doesn't like being himself and wishes he could be a bird and fly. Then on the next page, the bird doesn't like being a bird and wishes he could be a different animal, and so on.) After we read the story, Hannah retold it, only she changed it so that each character explained why he was grateful for being the type of animal he was.

I pray these girls always value themselves as children created in the image of their heavenly Father!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs

Now that Hannah is reading more fluently, she has begun to write a lot more. Here are a couple of the signs I've found around the house lately.

This is a sign she made for her ATM machine, which, just for the record, works fine:

And here are her two bug keepers with their homemade signs:

Just in case you can't read them, the sign on her ATM machine reads "Out of Order," and the signs on the bug keepers read "No Peple Alawd." I suppose the responsible thing to do would be to add a little spelling into our school day, but instead I'm just smiling and thinking, "Now, how cute is that?!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

With friends like that...

We all know the ending to the famous saying: "With friends like that . . . who needs enemies?!" Well, today—because of the generous act of a very dear friend—I'm officially changing it. The saying in our house is now "With friends like that . . . you just have to thank God for bringing them into your life!"

Last Wednesday night at church, a good friend asked, "How are you?" Typical question. And my typical response would be, "I'm good. How are you?" But last Wednesday I wasn't good. I was overwhelmed from getting things together for insurance adjusters, frustrated from planning hurricane repairs, and burnt out from raising two children on my own in the midst of football season. So I poured my heart out to my friend. Her quick solution was for me to bring the kids over to her house so she could take care of them while I had some time alone.

Now, that might not sound like such a big deal. After all, moms take care of each other's kids all the time, right? But you have to understand that this friend already has her own children, and she homeschools, and she just got back from China two weeks ago with her third child. Yeah. And she's offering to help me out? WOW! So today Carrie-Who-Homeschools-and-Just-Got-Back-from-China-with-her-Third-Baby took care of my kids for four hours while I went home and enjoyed the quiet.

I have to confess, my desire was to come home and drink a cup of coffee while watching Dr. Phil and Oprah, then to spend the rest of my time searching for the end of the internet, which I still have not found, despite my best efforts. But I had things that really needed to be done. I made a trip to the library to apologize for (1) the tantrum a my 2-year-old threw while we were there last week, and (2) the tantrum her mother threw when confronted by the librarian. (Oops!)

Then I came back to the house. Oh, the house. The messy, neglected, desperately-in-need-of-attention house. I told Carrie I'd post these pictures so she could see what a service she did by keeping my kids, and I told my friend Yvette that I'd post these pictures so she could see that—oh, yes—my house most definitely does get messy. Really messy.

Here are before and after shots of the living room from two different angles:

And here's the kitchen:

This is the bathroom we have been using until our master bath is repaired:

And, finally, the desk:

(Yeah, that one will have to wait until another day.)

So there you have it. I don't keep a perfectly clean house all the time; I just know how to scramble at the last minute when someone calls and says they're on their way over. :o)

Carrie, thank you for keeping the kids for me! And thank you for cooking dinner for us so I could use my time however I chose! There are lots of reasons why I think you're an amazing friend, but right now today is pretty high up on my list!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tt Turtle

Today we finished our Tt Turtle unit.

We started off our unit by reading several non-fiction books about turtles. Hannah was most interested in finding out what turtles like to eat and what type of habitat you should build for one if you plan on having one as a pet. (Apparently she's planning on becoming a proud turtle owner sometime soon???) She was shocked to learn that turtles are hatched from eggs, as she thought eggs were reserved for birds alone; and she was equally shocked to learn that some turtles can be up to six feet long! We read a book that discussed several different types of turtles (both land and sea) and how big they generally grow to be, so we got Daddy's tape measure and compared their lengths. One fact that surprised both of us was that turtles can live to be 175 years or older. No wonder they're so wrinkly!

Throughout the week, we made a turtle out of paper plates, played a game where I would name a certain type of animal and she would show me how that animal moves; and memorized a poem called "The Little Turtle" by Vachel Lindsay. (Actually, she already had it memorized because it was one of her favorite Barney songs when she was younger.)

Hannah's special words to remember this week were "I will not give up; I will persevere."

We spent time talking about the importance of persevering in our faith, and we read Aesop's The Hare and the Tortoise; Watty Piper's The Little Engine That Could; and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow, both by Virginia Lee Burton.

Our curriculum suggested that we have Hannah help us with a project that would require perseverance so she could practice what she had learned, and I immediately knew the perfect project: trying on all of last year's winter clothes to see what still fit and what she had outgrown, which always seems to be a struggle in our house! Before we began, I explained to Hannah what we were going to do and told her that I needed her to be a turtle and persevere until we had tried on everything. Apparently I should rule out a career as a motivational speaker because she decided she was ready to quit about 10 minutes into the project. I reminded her that if a turtle got tired and quit when he was in the middle of the road, he would get run over and die! I told her that I knew she could be like a turtle and persevere! Sure enough, she not only finished going through her clothes but encouraged Millie to try on her winter clothes, as well!

So for now I'm delighted to have this week's special words as my new "secret weapon," but somehow I have a sneaky suspicion that it won't be long before Hannah realizes she can use them against me when I stop in the middle of a project! Then again, maybe that's how we train them that iron sharpens iron!