Sunday, June 28, 2009

end of the school year

I have way to much to blog about. I will try to be brief but you can just stop reading if you want when I end up not being brief because I tend to be wordy.

We have officially wrapped up our TLC school year but not without many fun and exciting things to do before and since!

Let's see, thinking waaaaay back to the beginning of June (my how time has flown this month!) I must tell you about Isabella's participation in a homeschool choir. She and some other local homeschoolers sang patriotic songs at a local church for a group of senior citizens. Bella's piano teacher Amy pulled the group together and taught the kids the songs. They were wonderful! We sang again at a local nursing home. She and Amy's daughter Leah did a little duet of My Country Tis of Thee. So beautiful! I was so proud of her and we both agreed it was such a blessing to be able to bless others just by singing songs!

We had some friends come visit that week too! Bella's best friend from kindergarten and her family moved to Atlanta last winter and we were so excited to see them while they were up for a wedding. It was so great to see Bella and Jema together again, it was as if they hadn't been apart at all, just picked up where they left off. That's how it often is with those special friends that you don't get to see a lot. Thanks again for coming Jana, Jema, Mara and Jama! We miss you and hope we'll see you again soon!
As you may remember, we have enjoyed raising Monarch caterpillars in the late summer and early fall. Last year in the fall we found a caterpillar for a black swallowtail. It made it's pupa and we saved it all winter in the garage. We have been watching it daily this spring, wondering if it would actually hatch and it did!!! We were so excited. We didn't have it for long before it took off into the wild blue yonder but we got to snap a few pictures before it took off!

We had a really special day the week before school got out when our friend LuAnn came to talk to the TLC about her trip to Africa. It was so touching to see the pictures of all of the children there. I can't really explain the amazing work that God is doing there through this family and the work that they have started without taking pages and pages. Suffice it to say, God is good and we are blessed to be a part of what is going on through prayer and by supporting our missionary friends. We had drawn the kids in Africa some pictures and LuAnn brought us pictures that they made for us in return! The kids were so blessed. This experience has been so enriching for them. They have a true love for these kids in Africa. I love this connection and can't wait to see what God does with it.

One afternoon the kids, without being asked, the kids decided to clean out the toy shed. They call it the Pipsqueaks club house. I was totally amazed at the job they did organizing and cleaning up! It was so amazing and totally blog worthy. They have kept it clean now for a few weeks, putting everything where it goes every afternoon. I am amazed and very appreciative. One less thing on my to do list!

The night before our last day of school we did our TLC Academy presentation and dinner. We had it at the church and the kids recited their Bible memory verses, sang Jesus loves me in English and Spanish and sang the 50 states of the USA. They each also received the TLC Academy Godly Character Award. I picked two of the Godly character traits that we had studied this year for each child, for an area where they excelled or worked really hard. Isabella's award was for Responsibility and Patience, Hannah's was for Creativity and Obedience, Nova's was for Tenderheartedness and Generosity, Isaac's was Diligence and Initiative, Ian's was Self Control and Honesty, and Mika's was for Forgiveness and Loyalty. It was so much fun and they did a great job! They surprised me with lots of cards and flowers! It was a great night. After a lovely dinner together all of the kids came back to my house for a TLC Academy sleep over! The next day was the last day of school and Bella's birthday. We spent the morning doing string games that the kids have learned. The have all gotten pretty good at it. They can do "Jacob's Ladder" so fast and Hannah and Bella are getting very good at Cat's Cradle. We had a great day. We've had such a great year! I might have gotten a little melancholy that it was over but I was simply too busy that day!

That evening Isabella had her dress rehearsal for her recital and my mom, dad, sister Angela and niece Madi all came up to watch her rehearsal and join us for a special birthday dinner. It made Bella's day so special. I can't believe my baby is 8 and I am so happy that she had such a wonderful birthday!

OK, so now school is out for summer but since homeschooling is obviously just a natural extension of our lives we are really never "done". We have started our summer reading and are studying an area of science each week of the summer. This week is anatomy...Ian wants to dissect something. I'll let you know how that goes if we get to it. We went to the Berkshire Museum last week and saw the really cool frog exhibit. We also got our vegetable garden in (finally) all except the popcorn plants but they are ready to go in tomorrow. We also found mosquito larvae growing in Ian's fish bowl so we are watching that life cycle unfold (we moved them out of the fishbowl and out to the deck since we certainly don't want pet mosquitoes). We also picked 31 pounds of strawberries last week and froze and canned them all. We can't wait for cherries, raspberries and blueberries so we can do the same with them! So, as you can see we're always learning, whether we are "doing school" or not!

Jason had knee surgery last week, he is doing good and we are so grateful to have him at home from work while he recovers! We are looking forward to enjoying the hazy lazy days of summer (if they ever get here!) doing some fishing, going to support our local collegiate baseball team, and just being together as a family! I can't believe it's almost July already!!!! This summer is going by waaaay to fast. We're going to do our best to slow down and enjoy it!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bella is eight!!!!

Bella's birthday was 2 days ago! In the midst of last day of school activities, recitals, father's day and her birthday I found a moment to reflect...
Here is how fast 8 years goes by...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Professional Development

We've been way too busy to blog! It has been so nice to be outside enjoying the beautiful New England spring. We've also been working hard to finish out our school year. Just 3 weeks to go! This past month flew by. Jason has gone back to work and is on "light duty." He finally had an MRI and found out that his cartilage is torn and he is having a consultation with a surgeon on Wednesday. He's been limping around for almost 2 months now and I'm hoping that surgery will be quick and successful so he can be his active self again. Fortunately, he's still able to go fishing which is, of course, a favorite past time of our family. If we don't go every few days, the boys just pester us until we do. On this particular fishing trip they did more exploring and munching snacks than fishing but it was a delightful day!

We started a bunch of seedlings. The kids each won their own pack of tomato seeds from their entries in the Reading Rainbow story contest so we planted those and some other tomatoes, cukes, peas, lettuce, basil, and a few flowers. I also have some sunflowers, squash, pumpkins and beans that I have to get in the ground this week. We have very limited sun in most of our yard so we have to be creative about where we plant our veggies. Most people have shrubs and flowers in their front yard, I will have veggies. It may not look "landscaped" but it will be productive. I am looking forward to preserving, canning and freezing as much fresh produce as I can this summer to keep us stocked for the winter. We already harvested some of our rhubarb and I was going to make jam but we used it all in rhubarb strawberry bars and a rhubarb apple crisp recipe that Bella created entirely herself. It was quite delicious! I was impressed with her ability to understand measurements of each different ingredient. She has learned a lot from baking with her mommy for 7 years!

We have been working diligently on our states, we have done a brief overview of most of the US now, 3 more regions to go. They all know the 50 states by name now and can sing them very well. They also have a pretty good grasp of where each state is. I have been looking for a puzzle of the US where each state is a piece but I haven't come across what I am looking for. If anyone knows where I can get one like that, let me know.
One beautiful day last week we took our learning outside. I was amazed at how much we learned with a sprinkler and some sidewalk chalk. It was a perfect 85 degree art lesson. We saw the effect water had on our dry chalk drawings, then experimented with drawing on wet pavement with dry chalk, then we experimented with wet chalk on dry pavement. Then we found that we could make a paste and use it for body paint. The kids painted themselves as Native American Warriors. I gave them each a warrior name and after they solemnly passed through the sprinkler in our warrior ceremony, they were ready for battle and went to reclaim teepee city from the enemy. It was a terrific day!

I was blessed to be able to take a little retreat away from everything last week. I usually go away to Maryland in the spring to a church retreat for pastor's wives but it didn't work out this year. Instead, I got to go to Cape Cod with Amira!! It was the most amazing time. Knowing New England, we had resigned ourselves to some chilly days on the coast but had decided that cold beach was better than no beach. God, however, in His amazing grace, saw it fit to bless us with a beautiful hot sunny day on the beach on Memorial Day despite what the forecast was calling for. It was so hot we went swimming in the ocean! I can't tell you what a gift that was to us both. The whole vacation was unbelievably peaceful and rejuvenating. Walks on the beach, exploring tide pools, wonderful company, lots of yummy seafood and best of all uninterrupted time to study God's Word, pray and work on the Bible curriculum I am writing. It was all of the teacher's professional development days I had neglected to take during the year rolled into one week and very very profitable for everyone. I am so grateful to God for the time that He provided, I can't even put it into words.

Don't I look so happy to be on the beach :)

A panoramic view of Seagull Beach.

One of my beach creations...not much to take pictures of w/o the kids around :)

Me and Amira, she got a tan, I did not, but I didn't get burnt either though so I was happy about that.
Back to reality now, but it's a better reality because the fire within me to seek God deeply is burning bright and strong, fanned by the time I had away with Him. It is my daily prayer now, that I won't allow it to be slowly extinguished by the mundane again. After having some time to reflect while I was on my little sabbatical I am living in awe of the depth of God's Word and how applicable it is to my life, from minor details to huge life decisions, how God has used it to guide me and my family, to comfort, to exhort, to rebuke. I can truly attest that Jesus is the Bread of Life, He certainly nourishes my soul and the more I consume, the more I am fulfilled. It was great to have a little "time out" to reflect on all that He has done in my life and to know that the work that He started in me, He will see through to completion.