Friday, May 23, 2008

Special Days

I love the activity of spring...the birds singing, bees buzzing, flowers bursting into bloom, t-ball games, graduations, weddings...I am still so grateful everyday that winter is over that I am enjoying every busy minute of this season!

The kids are having so much fun playing T-ball. They are so cute. We had only signed Bella and Isaac up this year because it is expensive but Ian was asked to join Isaac's team because they were short a few players for a game! He was so excited to get his own green t-shirt and hat and to be a real part of the team. Isaac was so excited for him too. They are both very good hitters. Isaac is displaying great sportsmanship too, he is always paying attention to the other team members and making sure everyone gets a turn. Isabella is doing great too. She and her cousin Hannah are holding their own among the many rowdy boys on their team. They can both swing the bat well and are getting better at fielding the ball too. Most of all, they are all having a blast and that's really all that matters in T-ball.

This weekend was a special one for us. My youngest sister Kimmy graduated from college. I am so proud of her! She's worked really hard, especially the past two years and has really found her passion in life. She has been accepted to a very good Master's program for Art Therapy. I can't even say enough about how amazing she is and what a great Art Therapist she is going to be. My mom had a fabulous party for her and her boyfriend Joe, who also graduated (who I am also proud of). The weather was beautiful and it was just a great day all around. The kids helped me make special cakes for Kimmy and Joe to reflect their majors (art/psychology, and criminal justice). The only bummer for the day was that I forgot my camera and never got a picture of the graduates...

The very next day was another day for being proud! Jason and I took Isabella to the Eric Carle Museum for her award ceremony for the Reading Rainbow Young Writer's Contest. Isabella's Great Aunt Kathy joined us for a delightful lunch and the ceremony. It was so cute! There were 12 winners (3 from each grade k-3) and each person received a Curious George stuffed animal (referred to as a huggable trophy) and a backpack full of prizes including family membership to the Museum, books, a DVD, and a sizable gift card to Barnes and Noble. I think the most exciting thing for Isabella was that her story is hanging in the museum! How cool is that! Isabella looked so beautiful in the dress my mom had gotten for her and I could tell she just felt on top of the world. It's a day we will never forget. If anyone wants to meet at the Museum sometime let us know!

In the midst of all of our special occasions and activities we have still been plugging away at school. Isaac was sick for a few days so we laid low for a while and got a lot of work done at home. We wrapped up our study of Africa with Ancient Egypt and now we are getting ready to finish up the year with some fun things. We've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia the past two weeks. We finished the Magician's Nephew and are almost done with The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. They are such great books. I can't believe I had never read them all as a child. In a way, I'm glad, it's so much fun to experience them for the first time with the kids. We are captivated by them. One afternoon, all three children sat for hours while I read over a hundred pages to them! We are planning to finish up our year over the next few weeks with a unit study of Charlotte's Web. We have something from every subject to study for every chapter. It should be fun, it's one of our favorite books too.

We've been learning by doing a lot lately too. Earlier this week my mom came up and got us motivated in our gardens. I have been thinking over what I wanted to do in the gardens for months but I couldn't make a decision. My mom came and we got down to business. She helped us move things around to make a beautiful shade garden on one side of the yard and planted some perennials on the other. She is such an awesome gardener. She has such a gift to grow the world into a more beautiful place. I think she has passed her gift on to my kids too. They worked so hard in the gardens and were so excited with everything when it was done. We still have lots to do and we're excited to work on it some more this upcoming beautiful Memorial Day weekend.

We also had fun throwing pots the other day! Isabella has a pottery wheel and she and Hannah started some beautiful pieces. Aside from being just plain fun we talked a lot about scriptures that describe God as the Potter and people as the clay, being molded and made into works of art, beautiful in the Creator's eyes. It really got us all thinking about God as the Creator of all things. Isaiah 65:18 says glad and rejoice forever in the things I have created.

Looking forward to the beautiful weather this weekend! Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Monday, May 5, 2008

busy bees

I'm still trying to catch up from having been away for a few days (2 weeks ago!!!). The retreat was incredible! It is so awesome to have 3 days to do nothing but sit at the feet of Jesus (and eat food that I didn't have to prepare or clean up after). I was very refreshed and encouraged by everything I heard and I left praising God for all that He has done in my life in the last year. I just can't say enough about how awesome it was. I had so much fun just being silly and not being responsible for anyone but me! I even poured salt on the table in the restaurant just to play with it!!! I always tell the kids not to do that!! Oh yeah, I was livin' on the wild side lol!! The kids had a blast at my moms and were so happy to have seen some of their friends.

Here's me being silly at the restaurant just because I could!
When we all got home we took a day to relax and then we were off and running again! We went to a homeschool friend's house for "Frog Day" She has a pond in her backyard very graciously invited our whole group to experience the excitement of spring in a frog pond! We collected some frog eggs, saw redback and spotted salamanders, some cool underwater beetles, newts, and a few frogs too. I was very proud of Bella she held the redback salamander and a newt! She's usually a little squeamish about slimy things but she was really excited. She still says worms are gross but newts, salamanders and frogs are cool. She and Isaac learned a lot and have been talking about it ever since. Ian was unfortunately not quite as interested in the delicate natural balance of the pond. He just wanted to slap his net in the mud and stomp around asking (very loudly) why he couldn't catch a frog. Much to my horror he accidentally killed two spotted salamanders (yes, the protected species of large spotted salamanders) with his wild net. I blame myself for not telling him to be more gentle. It was absolutely devastating to see. After confirming that it was indeed and accident and that Ian hadn't even seen the salamanders (alive or dead) I felt a little better that at least he didn't knowingly massacre a protected species... Still I was pretty speechless and felt awful. I don't know if we'll be invited back to Frog Day next year... Hopefully we will because overall it was a wonderful day. Bella and her frog eggs above and holding the redback salamander below

Over the weekend we had a few family fishing outings, we're trying to find a good fishing spot that is easily accessible for a whole family. You would think with all the lakes around here there must be some good fishing...we didn't find it last weekend...we'll keep looking.

Monday should have found us back to work but we decided to keep having fun instead! We went to another homeschool friend's house for Travel Day. This time we traveled "inside the earth." It was really neat. Alison did an amazing job putting together some very yummy and messy crafts that were very educational. What a great combo! I know when we "dig a little deeper" into this topic next year the kids will definitely remember the great experiments and object lessons. The favorites were "mining" chocolate chips out of a cookie, making little edible earths out of Tootsie pops, marshmallows and chocolate and of course the erupting volcano. Big thanks to Nancy who hosted this educational mess!

The rest of the week was filled with lots of other "regular" school activities. Until Friday when we had yet another field trip to a local dairy farm. It was a little stinky but very education and interesting. The kids loved touring the calf barn. One little guy was only 12 days old! Watching the larger cows poop was also very captivating for the group. At the end of the tour we all got bottles of some of the best chocolate milk we have ever had!

Look forward to some T-ball pix in the upcoming blogs and we'll be starting ancient Egypt, if I ever get motivated to pull the lesson together... I'll keep you posted.