Sunday, July 27, 2008

Silent Good Nights

I'm having some "mom time" today....which isn't as glamorous as it could be. I'm installing wire shelves in the boys' closest and printing out Lively Latin. The boys 'n daddy are at the running store and swimming at daddy's work.

As I listen to the endless drone of the printer, I was reminded of how quiet it is without the boys here. Which reminded me of how much I love Dave to take them for the day. Which reminded me of how important dads are. (Yes, there is a train to my thoughts!)

A few months ago, we were having trouble getting Levi to go down for bed quietly. I would read, pray and throw him in bed or bunny hop to bed with him (his choice), cuddle him up in blankies, make sure water was there, yada yada yada. The Usual. Then -- turn out the light.


After closing his door we'd often begin to hear him curtly scream, "No!" He was determined to not go to sleep.

After my repeated, futile attempts to calm Levi down or provide some physical discipline, etc., Dave stepped in. [Cue the "sound-of-the-heavens-opening-up."]

Dave wisely began to talk calmly to Levi every night for about a week to "practice" saying "Night mommy/ daddy" pleasantly after we would say these final words to him. The would practice in the rocking chair, practice when daddy tucked him in, and "practice" again at the door. Like magic, it worked! Dave transferred the technique to me, and Levi and I did pretty good most nights.

It was just as I was sitting here, in the relative quiet that I realized how wonderful putting Levi down has been for the past....I don't even know. Isn't that funny? It drove me out of my mind for so long that Levi would scream at me, but now that he doesn't, I can't recall when he stopped? We just crave calm in our lives. Well, I do at least.

Thank you, Lord, for my wise husband and for pleasant, silent good nights.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Last Days of Summer = What I Still Have to Finish Up

Updated 7/28/08....

I cannot, cannot, canNOT believe August starts this Friday. July -- as usual -- has flown by. It has been quite rainy here for the last week (and looks to be the same this coming week), so I need to do a better job of getting us out of the house for some fun inside (or else I might go crazy!). I'm thinking of printing off some of the free coupons to our local bowling center and going there one day, looking for a paint-your-own-pottery place another...stuff like that.

However, I do need to find some time to re-devote to getting ready for school. I am thinking the potential public humiliation of not completing this tasks will motivate me some. So mom, Leslie (Hi!), and anyone else who swings on by, please hold me to these tasks to be completed:

  1. Email my friend Katie and find out her make-ahead-and-freeze muffin recipe. I'd love to have something like this on hand for healthy snacks and breakfasts. Done - awaiting a yummy reply.
  2. Re-visit our Goals Page from last year-- spend some time praying about it and revising our goals for the new year. I won Evaluating for Excellence in an Ebay auction and can't wait for it to arrive. I will hold off on this until I can read and study it. I'm really looking at this from the Big Picture standpoint. Going back to our reasons and goals in homeschooling and seeing that what we do helps us to move in the direction we've set out. I'd like to know that each subject is helping us get closer to our goals. Need to pray more.
  3. Compose a new learning contract for Ben. Focus: responsibility, diligence. Write out these definitions for him. Look through Plants Grown Up for some biblical assistance.
  4. Administer the placement test for CLE's language arts. I'm waiting for this in the mail, but as I've gone ahead and printed out Lively Latin and have seen all the grammar in there, I'm considering not doing any grammar this year...story developing.
  5. Look through the remaining Readers from Core 3; I'm considering purchasing CLE's Reading program to begin some more critical reading skills for him. I'm just not satified with the questions posed for the Readers (in general, as I haven't read through the questions in books we haven't gotten to yet).
  6. Download and print out Lively Latin. Enter Lively Latin into HST and schedule daily (4 times per week). Plan to finish it by March or so. Lessons 3-7 have been entered into HST. The entire 300 page book has been printed. Oh, my aching printer.
  7. Purchase Wordly Wise 3000 book 4.
  8. Oh, yea, finish cleaning the school room. I've really been putting this off (like all summer) but I really need to do it to freshen my brain. I feel like my brain won't have all the cobwebs removed until I've tidied the school room, gotten the new curtains in place for it, and just finished it all around. Only a slight amount of progress made in this realm.

I know there are more things I need, but I'll just keep adding/ crossing off as I accomplish things. Wow, as I look at the list, there are more "big project" things than I thought. I still have quite a few big decisions to make about curriculum for Ben. Luke, on the other hand, is all set. Everything that is specific to him is all planned out (a month of assignments has already been printed out and in my planner book!), and the Fine Arts courses that he and Ben complete together are already scheduled and in HST for the first month or more.

I've also already broken our school year into quarters:

August 25 - October 24
October 27 - January 16
January 19 - March 20
March 30 - May 29

Each quarter is 9 weeks and I've planned a week of for spring break (I have a secret mission to try to get Dave to take a Spring Break with us and go somewhere for it. It doesn't have to be a big deal, but I would like us to get away and do something fun).

Although we do not have to adhere to a minimum number of school days in my state I do try to keep 180 days a minimum number of school days for us. Most subjects will be scheduled just 4 times per week, but Friday will be catch up day in case we've got appointments and "life" happening. We will have our co-op gym class in the fall, so we'll have the morning to work through the last bits to finish up our week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Photo Tag

I don't usually make or have time to follow up on being tagged, but this was just too fun. My friend Jessica tagged me, and I was so intrigued by what I might find and create using photos to describe some of my likes that I couldn't resist.

(1) Name: Alane
(2) Favorite Food: Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas
(3) Name of High School: [keepin' it private]
(4) Favorite Color: Blue
(5) Celebrity Crush: None, but I like Steven Curtis Chapman's music
(6) Favorite Drink: Strawberry Margarita [however, I haven't had one in about 4 years....the heat today is making me think of one, though]
(7) Dream Vacation: Kauai, Hawaii
(8) Favorite Dessert: Tiramisu
(9) What do you want to be when you grown up? Well-loved and respected mother and grandmother
(10) Favorite thing in the world? God and family
(11) One word to describe you: Intelligent
(12) Flickr name: ? [I can't remember -- I use photobucket to deposit my pictures!]

So, if you are reading this, please complete on your blog and send me a link in my comments. I'd love to "see" who you are! Here’s what you will need to do:

A. Type your answers to the questions below into Flickr Search
B. Using only the first page of results, select an image
C. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s Mosaic Maker

Here are your questions:
What is your first name?
What is your favorite food?
What is the name of the high school you attended?
What is your favorite color?
Who is your celebrity crush? ( I don't have a celebrity crush, so I chose someone I like)
What is your favorite drink?
What is your dream vacation?
What is your favorite dessert?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What do you love most in life?
What is ONE word you would use to describe yourself?
What is your Flickr name?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rainy Day

It rained nearly every minute of the day today -- nothing hard, just a steady mist of rain to water my garden. But despite the rain, the boys had a great, great, great day -- one I'm writing about so I don't forget.

Sometime last week, maybe at VBS, Luke made a puppet out of a lunch sack. Levi, lover of all things puppet-ish, saw it and wanted one, too. So Luke took the reins of Big Brotherhood and helped him to make a couple. Armed with two puppets ("My muppets," Levi often calls them), the decide to put on a puppet show. Ben springs to action to grab bar stools and blankets to set up a makeshift stage. Animals fly down to the stairs for an audience. Tickets are crafted by Ben for the performance ("Ages," it says on the tickets, "9-41."). Finally the show starts. It is supposed to be the Knights of the Round Table. All Ben and I hear is feet being positioned on the green Little Tikes chairs behind the curtain, giggles, and the rustle of paper bags. "This is more of a comedy show than a puppet show," Ben quips. He's right -- we're all laughing at the prospect of a 2 and 5 year old putting on a show for us. They are having a blast back there.

The shows ended (there were two shows today-- one was a "joust") when Levi fell off the green chair into the blanket/curtain, which caused one of the bar stools to fall nearly on his head. I screamed, Levi cried and we all stiffled laughs.

I just loved how the boys all worked together to do something fun. It was a great morning.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


The boys had some semi-private swim lessons with a couple other families at the beginning of July. It was great! Ben got more confidence to try diving and refining his strokes. Luke is swimming with more confidence and Levi actually let someone other than Daddy or me hold him in the water. Don't these water races look like fun?

We also went strawberry picking in July -- a few weeks later than usual because of all the rain we had this spring. But, the berries were wonderful and I tried my hand at making freezer preserves. As soon as our jar of store-bought preserves is gone, we'll defrost some and give it a try.

Our garden. We're all amazed that anything grows. Thank you God for the rain, because I often times forget to water (just went out a few minutes ago and gave everybody a drink). We have tasted summer -- sweet cherry tomatoes off the vine -- as well as zucchini (something only eaten in breads and when surrepticiously mixed into hamburger, chili and meat sauce.This specimen grew to about 16 inches long. I was actually going to let him keep growing, but learned that you are supposed to pick zucchini when they are about 4-6 inches long otherwise you risk having thick skinned zucchini, which is apparently not as tastly. This guy ended up in zucchini bread, and he has a couple more cousins that will be grated so they can be added into other meat meals.

Shh! don't tell the boys!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Why Dandelions?

You might remember from this post, that I was thinking quite literally about harvesting when I first got in queue to have Darcy wave her fairy blogmother wand in my direction. Then, bunchs of dandelions burst into my head -- months before they had burst forth from our front, back and side yard, and I found them in jeans pockets, the cup holder of my car and the little vase from Grandma P. I love the smile, the joy and the love that accompany these bouquets from my boys. They are more beautiful than roses.

So, I rolled with the dandelion theme, and quicky remembered a Five Iron Frenzy tape that my dh had purchased for me when Ben was a baby because we loved the Dandelion song. If you've never heard it before, I did find the lyrics:

In a field of yellow flowers,underneath the sun,
bluest eyes that spark with lightning,boy with shoes undone.
He is young, so full of hope,reveling in tiny dreams,
filling up, his arms with flowers,right for giving any queen.

Running to her beaming bright,while cradling his prize.
A flickering of yellow light,within his mother's eyes.
She holds them to her heart,keeping them where they'll be safe,
clasped within her very marrow,dandelions in a vase.

She sees love, where anyone else would see weeds.
all hope is found.Here is everything he needs.

Fathomless your endless mercy,weight I could not lift.
Where do I fit in this puzzle,what good are these gifts?

Not a martyr, or a saint,scarcely can I struggle through.
All that I have ever wanted,was to give my best to you.
Lord, search my heart,create in me something clean.
You see flowers in these weeds.
Gently lifting hands to heaven,softened by the sweetest hush,
a Father sings over his children,loving them so very much.
More than words could warrant, deeper than the darkest blue,
more than sacrifice could merit,Lord, I give my heart to you.

What a great metaphor for the journey I am on as I homeschool my boys. Homeschooling is as much about discipling them as it is about being discipled myself.

So, click back again to watch the story unfold. I know I'm sure looking forward to seeing where God takes us.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jesus Loves Me

Did you know there is a second verse to this favorite song?

I love Jesus, does He know?
Have I ever told Him so?
Jesus loves to hear me say
That I love Him every day.

Yes, I love Jesus
Yes, I love Jesus
Yes, I love Jesus
In prayer I tell Him so.

Does anyone else know alternate verses?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Our 2008-2009 Curriculum and Resources

For Fourth Grade

US History through 1900s -- Sonlight Core 3's history, read alouds and readers; utilize TOG units to flesh out Civil War, reparations, industrial revolution through 1900s

Geography -- mapping according to Sonlight Core 3 & TOG; puzzle maps; Scrambled States; learn capitals of all the states; Seterra free computer game

Language Arts:

Math -- Singapore Math 3b and 4A. We progress at Ben's pace. We'll also use CWP (still have CWP 2 to work through), IP and perhaps EP books. I have some Keys to Fractions to use when we get to that point.

Foreign Language: Continue with Lively Latin

Bible -- Sing the Word vol. 3 for verse memorization. Bible studies will include: Choosing Obedience, Prayer Adventures for Boys and Girls, and Boy, Have I Got Problems (inductive Bible study of James by Kay Arthur). Daily Bible reading/ devotional

Science: Physics -- Real Science for Kids: Level 1- Physics and Developing Critical Thinking through Science

Fine Arts:

  • Visual Arts: How to Teach Art to Children & appreciation books at library.
  • Performance Arts: continue piano lessons; Stories of the Great Composers I; go to a concert & play

Critical Thinking Skills -- Building Thinking Skills 2


Phonics --

  • Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons through lesson 70; Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading (this is what I did with Ben; if it works, great. If not, I will consider other options)
  • Explode the Code online
  • All About Spelling level 1

Handwriting -- Reason for Handwriting & copywork (dictation as it is introduced in AAS)

Bible -- Read Bible daily and daily quiet time (10 minutes); Leading Little ones to God; Parables for Kids

History -- Luke will listen in to Ben's

Science -- new & totally exciting! Yesterday's Classics nature books by Clara Dillingham Pierson. Farmyard animals, pond animals, night animals, forest and meadow animals. I'm also going to purchase Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study. Well try nature journals and color pictures of the animals we learn about. Luke will use this to practice narration. We're going green for science!

Critical Thinking Skills books

  • DEL 3 & 4- anticipate finishing Jan. 10, 09
  • Visual Perceptual Skill building book 2- begin after DEL finished
  • Beginning Thinking Skills-look to see where we left off last spring

Fine Arts

  • Visual Arts: How to Teach Art to Children
  • Performance arts: same music appreciation as Ben; plays and a concert

Update on Luke's planning: I've decided to start his handwriting, math, 100EZ lessons and science reading as well as finishing of DEL 3 in the first month or so of school; He'll be listening in on additional history, read alouds and science as well as doing art and music appreciation with Ben. I've taken out all the pages he needs for the first four weeks, printed out our schedules for this period of time, and have it already in my planning notebook. It feels so good to have this all done!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Chew on this

As an idea, curriculum stems from the Latin word for race course referring to the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow and mature in becoming adults.
I sometimes forget that the curriculum for my children goes way beyond book learning, but rather encompasses their whole being -- heart, mind, soul and strength. I know there have been periods of our schooling (probably more than I want to admit to) when Book Learning was paramount to anything. Hey, it is easier to gauge if a child is getting math than tackle issues of character and spirit. I need to focus on the big picture more often:
Matthew 6:19 NIV
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
I pray constantly that God will cover over my errors and mistakes with my kids; that in the mess I often make, God will make it all work out for my children's benefit.

Dancing Fingers

A couple Sundays ago, we had our Adventureland (Sunday school) kids come up to the front of the church to sing one of their kid-sized worship songs. I didn't realize at the time, but this was also the first Sunday that the fall Kers would be in Adventureland -- oops! They don't know the song. Luke is standing in front (next to a couple other just-moved-up, equally cluess little girls) with hands in pockets, while the rest of the 1st through 5th graders are walking like Egyptians, shaking their hands, and doing all sorts of other crazy movements to this worship song.

The congregation is really enjoying the newbies non-movement. They are all laughing. Out loud. At my boy.

Luke and The Girls stood there, half smiling, like stone. Not knowing a word.

Someone after church asked Luke why he wasn't dancing to the song. He countered them saying, "My fingers were dancing in my pockets."

Sweet, sweet, sweet boy.