Thursday, May 29, 2008

Doing the Happy Dance

Yep.  That's what this mom is doing.....the Happy Dance! 
My sweetie and I are going to Charleston, SC all by ourselves.  Remember last post I said we were on Plan B.  Well, we ended up on like Plan D or E.....maybe F or G.  But, ahh, at last, we found THE place.  The place that we both liked the looks of and the location and the atmosphere.  We will actually be staying across the harbor in Mount Pleasant, but the hotel is right on the harbor, with a marina out front, a sandy beach ~no swimming, but sand to stick your toes in, overlooking huge amounts of water!  There are chairs and swings out on the beach, low lit at night.  And, we can take the shuttle over to Charleston to the historic district and shops.  I'm just too excited.  It quickly became obvious that one of the things I had my heart set on as we were looking for somewhere to go was water.  Big water.  I love the rivers and streams we have here, but nothing does my spirit good like looking out over big water~~calm lakes, the ocean, or a harbor.  Did I mention how excited I am?  Just the two of us, big water, and sand!  I will miss my girls, but.......did I mention how excited I am?
I'm also happily looking forward to August when the whole family will be going to the Gulf Coast, FL.  We have a 3 bedroom townhouse right on the gulf.....nothing but sand between my door and the water. 
I guess I'm going through "big water and sand" withdrawals.  We didn't go to the beach last year. However, I did remember as I was typing that I did get an hour on the water and some sand to wiggle my toes in when we went to Jamestown in Oct.

I love to go new places and see new sites, but there's just something about the sand and water (most especially the gulf) that draws me and ministers to me.  That was the best hour of the whole trip to me.  : )  I guess I have it pretty bad.  
Doin' the Happy Dance

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Looking Back~Looking Forward

Weekend before last I attended a women's conference at Johnson Bible College.  Betsy had asked me to go to be on a "panel" of 4 veteran homeschool moms to answer questions in the Home Learning Class.  It was a neat experience.  I got there on Friday afternoon, and we had one class, supper, listened to the conference speaker and music, then an ice cream social.  The next morning after breakfast, we had 2 classes before hearing the speaker again. 
  Our Home Learning class was really interesting.  We had women across the page.  There was a teacher with no children yet, who wants to homeschool when she does have them,  young homeschool moms, one mom about to pull her teens out of ps, one who wanted to supplement her daughter's ps education, but left knowing she needed to take her out, and several grandmothers.  I was surprised at how many teachers/former teachers were there, considering we had small groups.  We did have one grandmother/high school grammar teacher who was there to learn all she could in order to use against her daughter-in-law who is homeschooling her daughter.  She was blunt and adamant that she didn't like homeschooling, did not have an open mind to it, and she wanted to prevent her daughter-in-law from ruining her granddaughters life.  She was in tears at one point.  She was horrified that.....get this ladies.....she does school work with her on the couch!  I really felt sorry for this lady.  She was completely horrified at this, and asked how on earth her grandaughter would ever learn to sit at a desk if this is what her irresponsible DIL did.  She was very critical of the lady, and continually called her undisciplined.  I lay awake for a long time that night praying for this grandmother.  I also feel like this young mom is doomed.  Unless the Lord changes her heart, this grandmother is going to make sure this child is back in ps.  We all talked to her, but I don't think anyone made any head-way.  She said she was praying about it all, but you can tell she thinks she knows God's will. 
Besides that, though, I met some neat ladies, and had the opportunity to talk to a couple one~on~one.  I really enjoyed the music group that night, which was surprising to me.  If some of you remember, I am not particularly that in to music.  I like praise and worship, and soft insturmental, but I'm not in to concerts too much.  I really liked these girls.  They had pure, beautiful voices, and a wonderful range.  I even bought Ashley one of their cds.  This is an article that talks about one of their performances, but also talks about their music.  And this is a link to one of their cds. 
We are going this afternoon to have our family picture made for our church directory.  I'm really hoping these come out decent, so I can order one.  We haven't had an in-studio family picture made since Marissa was about 3~~that's pre-Daniella (and she's 7!).  Yesterday, I had to go buy Daniella a top to wear....LOL....I actually bought 3, trying to get something to match everyone else.  It's hard to match 6 people, without clashing!  I wasn't sure if I was going to have to send James out last minute this morning to buy himself a shirt, but I think we're good.  Now if the smiles will cooperate this afternoon! 
Briana is super busy this week with practices for her recital this weekend.  They are working on their production numbers~~still learning dances less than a week before the recital.  Tomorrow night is the AWANA family picnic, and misc. other appts. this week.  Best of all, James and I are planning a little get-away next week.  Someone will be here staying with the girls, and we're  We couldn't find an opening (that we could afford) where we originally wanted to go, so we're working on plan B.  I'll keep you posted. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beautiful, Fun, Learning Days

I hope everyone is getting out and enjoying their spring.  We can't believe how cool it has been here this May!  Normally in May we have hot days~high 80's.  Then it cools back off for a while in June.  This May it has been so pleasant in the days, and quite chilly a lot of mornings.  It's been wonderful weather to get out and enjoy activities without being hot. 
  We haven't done very much in the way of formal "school" the last couple of weeks, except a couple of days of math, Bible time, and lots of reading.  Here are a few highlights~
~All 6 of us went to the zoo.  This is the first time the big girls have been in several years. It was almost empty, and, again, a beautiful, perfect temperature and day.  The zoo has a Monarch exhibit right now, and we all loved it.  The screen pavillion was *filled* with Monarchs.  The elephants were having a ball that day~dancing and being funny.  One was stealing the other's hay, and that one was raking his all up trying to keep the first one away from it.   The "hay stealer" also grabbed onto his ear with his truck; pulled his ear around over his face, then walked backwards in circles for several minutes.  We read and saw that day that each elephant has it's own personality. 

~All 6 of us played miniature golf.  The little girls are getting quite good these days.  They've really learned to slow down and aim.  It won't be long until Marissa is giving us a run for our money.  In fact, she was only 8 strokes over the winner (ME!!  : )  )  She would have been even closer, except toward the end for about 2 holes, she had a cramp in her side or something, and she really bombed out on those 2 holes. 
~They got to pet a foal and watch it nurse.  THAT made their day.

~Went to the aquarium for a class on pollution.  Saw the "Babies" exhibit, went through the shark tunnel (got a glimpse of the ellusive sea turtle, Sally), and got to touch the sting rays. 
~Played baseball with our homeschool group
~Went to Dollywood for about 2 1/2 hours yesterday after baseball.  Experienced thankfulness that the approximately 400+ kids at the front gate were about to board their yellow buses to *leave*!!  
~Have been observing (not necessarily by choice) the cicadas that are taking over.  "Those are ugly creatures", as she shivers.   Have seen one coming out of it's shell, and have discovered they have big red eyes.  Have been "enjoying" their loud songs.  Today, we researched and found some neat facts about them.
~Watched the men from the water dept. hook up the meter to hook us to city water, and helped dad hook up the pipes.  (We've stalled as long as possible going off of the well, but the water has gotten really bad, even with laser filters, etc.)
~Made, painted, and weighted cars for the AWANA Grande Prix.  Marissa's car won 3rd for Best Design in the older kids. 
~I got 3 free puzzles (Scramble Squares) from Betsy this weekend, and they are *such* a challenge.  Marissa and I had to cheat a little to find a starting piece.  James conquered his without help, but it took probably close to 2 hours. 
~And, as always, have had some great learning conversations about geography, history, science, math, God, and life.
And, I had my own 24 hour learning and get-away experience this weekend that I'll share about later. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And Now She's Eleven

It's amazing to me that my little girl turned eleven today! 

Last Saturday we took her with 2 of her friends and Daniella to Wacky Bear.
Trying to choose the perfect bear

There were so many "oooohs" and "ohhhhhhs" over all of the little clothes.

Coming to life

This is a good friend of Marissa's.  They play together a good bit.  She's only a year and a half younger than Marissa.  She's just very petite.  Marissa is actually very small compared to most kids her age.  Another friend below in the blue soccer shirt, is also smaller than Marissa, and she is 9 months older than Marissa. 
They love their bears~meet Bubbles and Morgan.

A successful shopping excursion~4 bears and a dinosaur, not to mention several outfits that the girls bought themselves. 

The extra little girl on the right end is a sibling that came along.  No, Daniella is not that tall (on the left).  She's sitting on the window ledge~hence no feet below the bag.  Can you see all of the photographers reflected in the window? 
We left Wacky Bear and went to a small park close by.  It was a beautiful sunny day, great temp with a breeze, and the park is right on the river. 
Playing tag.  The two facing this way are on base. 

Yes, the bears went to the playground, too!

Taking a rest

What we're resting from

A great time was had by all, and it was a happy day for the birthday girl.
Today the family is going to play putt-putt (mom has 4 free passes!) I have a strawberry freezer cake made (her favorite that she has every year), and I'm making one of her favorite meals for dinner. 
Happy Birthday Marissa

Thursday, May 8, 2008

How Moms Worship

I struggled for a couple of years with my ministry.  Most of this occured after we left the home church setting and returned to a "traditional" church.  Some of it occured as I read about other homeschool moms.  It took a long time of prayer, my sweet husband's encouragement, and the encouragement of a couple of other ladies in my life~one here on blogger; one in my church~for me to accept that God is pleased with my ministry of motherhood being my main ministry at this point in my life.  You, see, I knew that in my heart.  I knew that this is what He called me to, but I let other people and their perceived expectations make me think I was falling short because I am not a Sunday School teacher, choir teacher, committee member, etc.  This is not to criticize those who are, but to encourage some out there not to do those things out of others' expectations, guilt, or confused thinking.  Of course I pray for others and encourage others as the Lord gives me opportunity, but without a doubt, discipling the 4 girls that God gave me is my ministry.  I have finally reached the point in the last year that I do not feel guilty, and I do not have to be concerned about the judgements of others. 
I hope Julie doesn't mind.  I stole this great video off of her blog.  Listen, and let the words minister to your heart, especially if you have young children who need you every waking minute. 

Happy Mother's Day

Monday, May 5, 2008


Ellen at ellenfunlearning asked if I'd like to join in her Homeschool Hi-Lights.  If you've never seen Ellen's blog, you have to check it out.  She has the most ideas, at least in one spot.  Fun ideas.  If you are a relaxed homeschooler, or if you need a fun activity to go along with a study, just a break from the regular routine, or something good to fill some summer hours, be sure to go by Ellen's for inspiration.
I'm not sure I'm together enough to keep up with this weekly, but I'm excited to share with you today!  We happened to have had a great week last week, filled with quite a few hi-lights.  Here are a few.
~We're working on the American Revolution study (History Through the Ages).  Marissa enjoys history anyway, but this week was just fun.  One of the projects we made this week was a board game driving home the impact of the taxes the British govt. was imposing on the colonies.  She loved it~we played it 4 times, and it had it's desired effect.  She commented several times about how hard the taxes were on the colonists and how she could understand how they felt.
~About 2 weeks ago, the little girls found a caterpillar dangling from their fort.  They watched and photographed him over the next few days as he formed his chrysilis.  They've babied that little thing.   Saturday they went out to check, and the Red Spotted Purple butterfly had just emerged and was drying his wings.  They were proud mamas! 
~The taxes game I talked about required 2's and 3's multiplication.  My math hating daughter(!), who was doing well with it, had a reluctant "ah-ha" moment. LOL.  She said, "You know.  You're right.  Having your mulitiplication memorized does make things a lot easier.  I have to admit it."  (Said while hanging her head, saying it reluctantly, but yet with a smirk on her face.)
~My history & art loving, math hating, 10 year old daughter : )  has also never enjoyed writing.  Umm.. that's mild.  I stopped trying to make her write anything creative a long time ago.  All of our writing is done in lapbooks, AWANA book, and her own list making.  You cannot imagine my excitement this week as she has sat at the computer typing out a creative writing story all on her on; no prodding from me.  AND, it's quite good.  She's only shared excerpts with me so far, but they are really good~mature phrases that you can tell she has picked up from her reading. 
And, not necessarily a homeschooling highlight, but a highlight none the less, espcecially for Briana~

It's a 2005 Saturn Ion with only 30,000 miles.  She has been sharing Ashley's car, but since she will be going to college this fall, we wanted her to have a dependable, low mileage car.  She will be coming home many weekends.  I prayed the Lord would help us find just that, but much lower priced than everything we'd found so far, and if "possible" that he'd also give her one she really liked.  Not only did he meet the parents' needs and give her one she liked, it's the exact color she has been wishing for the last year.