Monday, March 24, 2008

spring is here?

This week we submerged ourselves in Easter or as we Christians often call it, Resurrection Day. We worked on our Easter lapbook all week. I purchased one from Hands of a Child that gave an overview of the the events starting w/ Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the Donkey and ending with His ascension into heaven. We added to it w/ another one from Homeschoolshare based on the book "The Legend of the Easter Egg" which gave us some great "eggsperiments" and some work on Similes. We also talked about the many symbols of easter and how they relate to the story of the Resurrection.

We had a wonderful time coloring eggs this year. It was so much fun we did it 3 times! They colored them first at Ra'ra's house, then we did it again here with Hannah and Amira and then we did it again here after we used up all the eggs playing games at youth group. They are experts now, we faux painted some, glittered some, tatooed some, dotted some, and of course, dyed them all. Ian showed a surprising amount of patience as he waited for his colors to get rich and bright. Isaac did a great job writing things on his name on his with the clear crayon (no easy task in my opinion) and Isabellas were just stunningly coated with stickers, paint, and glitter. As we colored them we talked about the story of Jesus breaking out of the tomb alive, just like a chick breaks out of an egg. When we were done we used our leftover dye to color some uncooked pasta so we can use it for crafts. The dyes made it very bright and colorful.
The kids were blessed with a little Easter money from some gransparents this week and they decided to put it toward the Webkins they had each been saving for. On Saturday afternoon we took a family trip to the mall and they each picked out a new little friend. They haven't put them down since. Isabella chose a Koala bear and named him Yooka. Isaac chose a little Panda and named him Panda and Ian chose a kitten and named him Red Stripes (even though his stripes are orange, black and white).

On Easter Sunday everyone got dressed in their Sunday best and headed off to church right after a good fall thanks to rarely used dress shoes. I swear that happens every Easter to someone in our family, it was Ian this year, hadn't been dressed 2 minutes and he toppled down the stairs in his stiff little loafers. He recovered quickly and we had a lovely Easter Service. After church we had a nice dinner with The Roaches and the Cartiers. The kids had a really fun egg hunt in the back yard. It was cold, snowy and icy and didn't feel very springy but fun nonetheless.

We filled 100 eggs or so and also hid the Resurrection eggs and one "golden egg" with a $20.00 bill!! Isabella was the lucky one to find the golden egg! After the hunt and organization of candy and change we collected the Resurrection eggs and opened them in order to find the little symbols and scriptures that tell the story of the Resurrection. Amira led the discussion and I was so blessed to see that my kids had been paying very close attention all week as we had studied the story. They knew what each symbol represented and did very well answering the questions.

Easter conveniently happened to be Jason's birthday this year. After racking my brain trying to think of a great cake to make him I settled on a simple cross. It seemed fitting since it was Easter and Jesus is Jasons favorite!

Between snowy egg hunts, Jay's birthday, and not traveling or seeing my family :( it was definetly an Easter unlike any I had experienced. It was a blessed day though and we had a great time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Falling behind already...

Well, I had a feeling I would fall behind. Its characteristic of me, to procrastinate and then decide one night, when it's late and I should be in bed, that I will do everything I have put off for weeks (except clean, I will keep putting that off, that is characteristic of me too, lol).
We've been pretty busy! Two weeks ago my friend Luanne came over to talk to my kids, and a few others who joined us, about her missionary experience in Kitale Kenya. It was so interesting. She did some great things with the kids to help them understand how many children in the world live very differently than we do. She also showed us amazing pictures, told us many stories about the children who go to the preschool that they sponsor and she even brought some wall hangings from their school. The testimony of what God is doing through Luanne's family and the missionary organization that they have started, Africa Connect, is amazing. It is so inspiring to see one family making such a difference for so many children in Africa. Isabella was really touched by the presentation. She prays for the children in Africa often and is always asking if she can give things to Luanne to bring to Africa on her next trip. Yesterday she wanted to collect shoes that she doesn't need (which is most of them) and send them to Africa. She has true understanding of the phrase "every little bit helps" that I hope she never loses.
Here is a picture of Luanne and the kids
These are some of the hangings from the African preschool that they use for teaching the children English words

We spent the rest of that week and this past week studying Kenya. We completed a really neat lapbook based on a book called Masai and I by Virginia Kroll, about a young girl comparing herself to a girl of the Masai culture in Kenya.

We are still working in our big Africa lapbook that will be more of an overview of the whole continent. We'll probably be working on it for another month or so as we study other countries and areas of Africa.

Let's see, some other highlights of the last two weeks...

We hosted a birthday party for Isabella's friend Nova who turned 5. It was a rainbow themed party. We played pin the cloud on the rainbow, took a few swings at a pinata and made tambourines with rainbow streamers. It was a blast.
The kids have been doing swimming lessons for the last 6 weeks. This Friday is our last lesson. Isabella (my little fishy) worked really hard and is becoming a very strong swimmer. Isaac has gotten much more comfortable in the water too. He was rather clingy and nervous the first lesson or two but now he is doing much better and really enjoys being in the pool and is moving around independently with a bubble on.

We hosted a huge St Patrick's Day dinner on Saturday for my family! Cornbeef and Cabbage for 30 people! I couldn't believe they all came all the way to Pittsfield. It was nice to be share our new home. It was a tight fit in our little cape but we had a great time. This is my sister Kimmy and Ian being silly after dinner.The next day we celebrated my niece's 1st Birthday in Monson!!! She is so cute! I just love being an auntie! I made her a cake and I have to post it because I have never made a cake so beautiful. I am still shocked by how good it came out! It took a lot of time but Isabella was very supportive and encouraging :)

From Monson we headed over to Agawam for another birthday party for another niece! Jason's sister's daughter Natalie turned 12. Then it was home to get ready for another week!

This week we are focusing on Easter, of course, and making an Easter lapbook. Bella is really enjoying the lapbooks. I am glad to have a week to focus on our Savior and what he did for us when He died on that cross. I am so grateful that I received God's gift of salvation and to be able to share it with my children is such a blessing. I love watching them grow in Christ. It blows me away how much Bella knows from God's Word and how much she loves to study it. There just aren't words to describe what it is like to see God working so personally in the lives of my children as they are in different stages of understanding Him and seeing how God continues to draw them closer to Him. Just another reason I am so glad to be a homeschooling mom!

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring come quick

I don't really want to spend my second blog complaining about the snow but we really need spring up here!!! It's March 1st and there is still snow in the forecast!! I remember about 7 years ago we had some 90 degree days in March. I'm praying for that.

In show of our faith for spring's soon arrival we went to the mall and picked up a few things to be ready. The boys were so cute flopping awkwardly in their first pairs of flipflops. Ian insisted he liked them even though he whined w/ every step that they were falling off. Bella got a whole new outfit for spring and enjoyed wearing it around the house for the day. Just looking at her made me colder...

That's Isaac's sad face because he can't wear his new shoes outside in the snow

Ian's fat little piggy toes. Still cute enough to kiss

We finally got over the flu this week and got back to work. Isabella is excited to be working on our Africa lapbook. Its our first "double book" so we have a lot of work to do. It will be an overview of Africa and we are also going to do one, a little more specifically about the Masai tribe in Kenya and Tanzania. I am learning so much too. That's another thing I love about homeschooling! I don't remember much apparently so it's like learning it new all over again. I pray that this time I will retain it better.

We spent most of the week trying to get back into the swing of things, since we took Feb vacation last week. We worked a lot on Bella's story for the Reading Rainbow competition. We have done a lot of brainstorming for each aspect of the story. I got an idea sheet off the competition website that helped me a lot in getting her excited to write. She loves, loves, loves to read but not writing. I have been looking for ways to get her interested and to get her creativity flowing and this has helped a lot. Her story is about Humming Wing the humming bird and her adventures in a garden with a feisty kitten and some other friends. It's so cute. I'll post it when it's done.

The end of the week got really hectic as we planned to take the youth group and their friends to the Casting Crowns concert at Umass. Organizing food, rides, and sleeping arrangements for 15 teens had its challenges. The snow on Friday night really threw us for a loop. In the end I didn't get to go because of the snow (I'm a chicken and wouldn't drive) but everyone else had a good time. It gave me time to prepare the house for the girls to stay the night here and for the boys to come back for breakfast. It was a lot of fun. My kids love youth events. They just have so much fun with the "big kids." Isaac loves hanging out w/ teenage girls who coo and giggle about how adorable he is.

Here he is snuggling with Laura and Madison as they play w/ his irristable cowlick

This week my friend LuAnn is coming to talk to the kids about her missionary experiences in Kenya. We are really excited about that. Also going to plan to have a visit with the Aunties at some point. We should probably get started on our St Patrick's Day lapbook too if we want to have it done before the big St Paddy's Day dinner we will have w/ our Irish side of the family.