Thursday, June 27, 2013

School Room Remodel Means a Bucket of Crafts for the Kids!

Have I mentioned that we are making over our school room this summer?????  It is so exciting, but even for a room that's only about 6x8 feet, it is a lot of work. Because first I had to pack it all up and move it out.  This room is essentially our storage area for books, art supplies, and it's our coat closet too. 

Check it out. Really messy and desperately in need of order and ya know, a hint of intellect and style. 

So I took all this stuff out. Now it's crowding out the dining room and some of it is in the basement. 
While cleaning it out, I felt like a teacher on the last day of school.  I always loved the last day of school, for many reasons.  But one of them was all the nifty stuff my teacher would give away as she cleaned out her school room. Stickers, workbooks, paper, books.... I came home with my backpack loaded up on that last day before summer! 
 I have tons of odds and ends, things we've saved as potential craft supplies, and things that never got put away properly.  I had this large pink foot locker hanging around and decided to throw these odds and ends inside.  Voila!  It's our Rainy Day bucket.  Or, our I'm Bored bucket.  Or, our Just-Put-It-Back-When-You're-Done  Bucket.
There is some cool stuff in here, and that's the only rule.  Do whatever you want with it, just put everything back when you're done.
Pipe cleaners, pom-poms, beads, buttons, foam, clothes pins, clay, sand, canvases, even a button-making kit. 
Kids love the freedom to create.  They love when nothing is off limits.  And that's what I love about this bucket too.
Again, just clean it up when you're done!
This morning, Brown-Eyed Girl made a cool pipe cleaner snake with googly eyes on a pom pom head. He was coiled around a mini teddy bear statue that had once been destined for a homemade snowglobe.  But she discovered something was missing from the Giant Free-For-All Bucket.
Glue dots.
A crafters best friend.  Now that we've added a box, I guess they will last perhaps a week.  The girl goes wild with glue dots.

Here's a little craft we made last weekened, as we are in the early stages of preparing to go to Disney World in October.  I found this really cute Pinterest idea for a Disney Bank and was all set to finally use my Cricut I got for Christmas, but those Pinterest finds.... over rated!  They were each content to choose their favorite Disney character, print off a picture, wrap a jar in patterned paper and stick on the character print.  We are using the Dave Ramsey money series for kids this summer, so they are each learning to save some of their allowance in their bank, but they are also earning money by reading.   Fact is, they are going to get money from Mom and Dad for Disney anyway.... we're just making them work for it :)

Can you believe June is almost over?  The new school year is just around the corner!!!!

I know, I'm a sicko.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

An 8th Birthday and a Day at the Beach

We celebrated a special birthday last week, that of our dear Brown-Eyed Girl.  I have to admit I haven't been "on the ball" with birthdays and party planning this year.  But we still make it special.  I took the kids out for the day, our first stop at Dunkin Donuts, by request of the birthday girl.

The highlight of our trip out was picking out a fish tank and all the accessories needed for it, because the one thing BEG really wanted was a fish.  We've had a few betas in the past, but having kitties plus a fish is a bad combo, especially if you don't have a tank with a lid.  Since we still have kitties, we got a secure tank and Benjamin Beta the Third joined our family.  He seems to enjoy his bubbling tank with the LED lights that change color.

Daddy brought our girl home a bouquet of rainbow flowers.

The cousins came over to celebrate.  We had a candlelight dinner with music and silly straws set on the table.

The following day the grandparents came for her party. Nana made an adorable owl cake, complete with owlets. 

Brown-Eyed Girl was tickled to get the specific things she had requested- a wheelchair for her American Girl and the Lego Friends treehouse.

Monday we went to the ocean with our very close friends who will not be so close in distance anymore.  The Susens have moved to Florida by now, so we spent their last day in Maine together at the beach. It was overcast and a not as warm as the 78 degrees that had been promised, but the kids never care.  There are so many treasures to be found.

They built a little fort of driftwood and made quite a to-do about keeping the seagulls away.

Mister was thrilled to find a mostly intact dead crab.

The tide went out and we were able to do lots of beachcombing and walk across the shore to an island.

We found a seastar and razor clam, lots of crabs and several interesting shells.

When we returned from our walk across to the island, we found our picnic spot pillaged by seagulls!

They had torn into our bags and demolished whatever they could get their beaks on.  They peeled one banana and got at half of another.

They tore open the bottom of a chip bag since they couldn't get the clip off.

They even tore a square shaped hole into my beach bag.  Nasty critters. But it was all part of the memory making.

These are the moments we'll remember, the little things that really aren't so little.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Each Year Is a Gift

Our most recent family photo, taken by a dear friend at my in-laws 40th anniversary party.
Trying to write this post about our homeschool year is difficult.  For many of the same reasons that accomplishing anything as a homeschooling mom is difficult. My children, well, they are always here.

I make myself a cup of coffee and take it and my laptop onto the deck to enjoy the breeze and sunshine.  I nestle into the comfy patio chair and start to unwind.  I don't get very far.  Brown-Eyed-Girl comes outside and slinks into the chair opposite me, asking coyly if I've gotten her any birthday presents yet.  Her birthday is tomorrow, so that sly little smile tells me she knows I have.  She asks for a hint.

Mister quickly follows, his mouth stuffed full of the sandwich I just made him.  He climbs onto the deck rails and crawls around it on all fours.  He and Brown-Eyed-Girl get into a (loving) argument over flip-flops.

Petite is inside and has just discovered I'm outside.  That everyone is outside.  And she's not happy about it.  She's crying now and I ask Mister to check on her and see if she wants to come out.  She  needs to go potty and though she's able to do it on her own, predictably she would prefer to have help.  So I set my laptop aside and go in to help her.  I put her shoes on and we both go onto the deck.  She almost immediately takes her shoes off again when she discovers the pool has some water in it.  I really don't care that she's not wearing a bathing suit and is about to get soaked.  So long as she is content and I'm able to sit for a few moments, even if I'm frequently disturbed.

Being home with my three children all day is a precious gift, one I often take for granted.  Because it is the norm of my life, it doesn't always or often feel like a gift. Gifts are for special occasions.  Birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day, anniversaries.  They're not for every day, not the kind wrapped in perfectly elegant paper with curly ribbon and a flourishing bow and something expensive inside.  But isn't it true that often the best gifts are the no-special-occasion gifts?  The ones you don't expect.

Being home with my children all day is full of gifts I didn't expect.  Observing Petite's growing talent for drawing and the exact moment when she began adding eyes and mouths and arms and legs to her objects.  Having heart-to-heart talks with Brown-Eyed-Girl.  Seeing my son's attitude change from "I can't do it" to "I can do it by myself" (in math of all subjects!).  Their very presence here with me is so special.  As popular as homeschooling has become- even in the secular community- it still takes many by surprise when they meet someone who is doing it.  It's just so normal and accepted to put your children on a bus everyday.  The thought has never crossed the minds of many that there is another way to educate your children- yourself.  For me, right now, it would be the strangest thing in the world to say goodbye to my children each morning and not see them again til dinner time.  Even the challenges of being together all day are gifts.

The interruptions.  Bickering.  Exhaustion. Lack of "me-time".  The worries and fears that I'm failing my children.  These are gifts because they keep me ever-dependent on the Lord.  They keep me "in my place", reminding me that I'm not any more patient, loving, or superior to the mothers of the public-schooled children.  I am a sinner and nothing has revealed this more than motherhood and the added bonus and blessing of home educating.

This school  year, 2012-13, was one of our best ever.  I loved our curriculum, My Father's World, and we'll be using it again next year.  This is the year my two oldest children asked Jesus to forgive their sins and be a part of their lives.  We simply enjoyed learning about each different country.  We met another special and wonderful family on a homeschool field trip and the second half of our year wasn't nearly so lonely as the first year and a half of being in our new home.  I continue to develop my own philosophy of educating my children. My personal education continues in so many respects, another unexpected gift of homeschooling.

Home education truly excites me. I am passionate about it.  When I wonder what God's call on my life is, He often reminds me that this is it!  I love to talk about it, help others who are considering it ( or already in the throws of it!), and I love to do it.  I try to be ever-mindful that this is not the call of God on all Christians, so I pray that if you're reading this and you don't home educate, you feel no condemnation, just my passion and joy for what I'm called to do.  Whatever you're called to do, do it with all your might!

This morning as I read my Bible, the account of King David taking an unauthorized census and the ensuing judgement, this verse spoke to me.  David said "I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord that cost me nothing" (2 Samuel 24:24)  We no longer sacrifice animals to atone for our sins, but the Lord desires that each of us be a living sacrifice.  Alive, but dead.  I have found such life as a result of the death-to-self required to be a mom.  I can't imagine a better life. I really can't.

Lord, thank you! Thank you so much for six amazing years of teaching my children at home.  It has been such a good gift to me.  You knew just what I needed to die to myself and just what I needed to truly live.  Please, bless this family, and cause all your goodness to go before us, that we may truly know You.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Our First Days of Summer!

It's June and it is officially summer for us even though the world technically waits til June 20th or 21st (I can never remember which day it is).  A heat wave moved in after days and days of rain, which seemed appropriate.  We were finally able to have our end-of-the-year egg hunt with our homeschool group.

The kids met a toad.

Petite started the egg hunt well, but I confess she was quite cranky the day of the hunt.

The kids examine their loot.

Because of the heat, the sprinkler came out for several days.  On one day, when the cousins were visiting, we also got sprinkles from heaven.  Here is my niece hiding under the table... although she was already wet :)

We've already checked a few things off our summer bucket list, including going out for ice cream. Though it's highly likely this is one event we'll repeat often this summer!

Another thing on our list (suggested by Brown Eyed Girl) was going to yard sales.  Petite found two new Minnie Mouse's for just 25 cents each.

And we made our first trip to the beach!  Saturday was a scorcher and the kids begged me to take them, though I knew the water would be like ice.   Everyone was happy to cool off.

And I'll never understand why they enjoy it so much, but they buried each other in the sand.

And thankfully washed off before we returned home.

As I uploaded these photos, I remembered that I need to do my end-of-the-school-year wrap up post.  May was such a busy month.   Things are starting to wind down. We just had a wonderful 40th anniversary party for Josh's parents on Sunday and we have a few birthdays ahead, but I'm hoping my thoughts will get pulled together soon to give me closure on our school year. For now, we're taking a much needed breath of fresh, summer air.