Friday, March 31, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Four Soccer Games and a 5K

I haven't posted a picture of this cutie in a while, so here you go!  She's almost fourteen months old, can you believe it?

Last Saturday was almost crazy-busy, but we did it!  I ran the 5K, all of it!  After a quick shower, we started on our four soccer games which took the whole day.  We all got a little too much sun except Rachel with whom we are always careful, and we were exhausted when the evening rolled around.  But it was a good day for everyone.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • the finish line of the 5K!
  • sleeping late.  As a reward for running the 5K, I took the week off from jogging which let me sleep late.  :)
  • a quiet week at home except for soccer practice.
  • a day off from school.  Yesterday, Sarah Beth and Rachel weren't feeling well, so we took the day off from school.
  • reading (un)Natural Mom by Hettie Brittz.  When I read the chapter about the Boxwood Mother, I felt like the author had followed me around for a week taking notes before she wrote it.  :)  I'll tell you more about this book next week in my monthly review of the books that I've read.
  • tutoring Essentials on Wednesday.  Our tutor was not there for CC this week, so I was asked to step in to tutor the afternoon class for the older students which includes writing instruction, parsing sentences, and a little bit of math.  It was the first time I've done this, but I look forward to tutoring the whole class next year!
Tomorrow we have more soccer games, but they're early -- which is good and bad.  We'll get them over with early (and be less likely to burn!), but we have to get out of the door early.  Other than that, we've got a quiet weekend at home which will be lovely.

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to Homeschool with Five Children -- No More, No Less

Before I get started, I want to be clear that I do not feel like a homeschool expert.  Yes, I started homeschooling Sarah Beth six years ago, but she's only in the fifth grade now.  There are many people with tons more experience.  However, I am the most experienced homeschooling mother in our CC group; the other families either have younger children or have recently started homeschooling, and they ask my opinions sometimes.

I thought it might be helpful to write about what we do and why, in case you need a few ideas or some encouragement.
  1. Be as quick as possible.  Did you gasp when you read that?  :)  With a baby, however, I've got to get school done as quickly as possible or she explodes.  I absolutely cannot teach school while holding Hannah (if you've tried teaching while holding a baby, you understand), and I don't like her wandering around without supervision.  Right now, I put her in the exersaucer for school time, and if I keep us on track, we finish about when she's ready to get out.  Also, Rachel (7) and Mary (5) can't take too much school, and I'll be honest, I can't either.  :)
  2. Keep it simple.  I'll be honest with you, we don't do projects very often -- like never.  Often they're too messy especially with four children wanting to participate, and they always take more time than I feel like I have.  
  3. Do as much as possible with all the children.  Things like science, history, and geography can be done with all children no matter how old they are.  That's one of the many reasons I love Classical Conversations; we can do all of these subjects together as a family which means less prep work and time.  
  4. Don't waste time.  I feel like I'm on a time crunch, and we need to get done as much as possible in as little time as possible.  So we don't do worksheets.  I have to admit that when I heard a CC trainer say this, too, I felt justified and not alone anymore.  :)  When I extrapolate science and history, I just read excerpts from books to my children.  They don't fill in blanks on worksheets or write papers on it.  (Remember, my children are still fairly young.)  The big thing is that they memorize their CC grammar, and if they get that, I'm good.  They'll get explanations, etc., later in their schooling.
The biggest question I get, however, is how I keep the younger ones occupied while I teach the older ones.  I'll answer that question next week.  :)

What tips do you have for homeschooling five (or more -- or fewer) children?

Friday, March 24, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: My Mother

My mother came into town last week, and we had so much fun running around town with her.  If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that my mother keeps us busier than we're used to while she is here.  But we enjoy it, and we get a lot done.  Most importantly, we love spending the time with her.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Haircuts.  It's just easier to take all of my children to get haircuts at the same time, especially if I have a couple of extra hands to help deal with Hannah.  We took care of this chore while my mother was here.
  • A clean garage!  My mother can't seem to stand our dirty, messy garage, so she usually (but not always) ropes the children into helping her clean it out.  Then she rewards them with a milkshake or something, and it's all good!
  • A clean car.  She also tackled my car, cleaning it out and getting it washed.  
  • An unexpected visit.  I received a surprise text Sunday evening from a friend we haven't seen in a while.  She wanted to know if we wanted to meet her and her children and go hiking Monday morning.  Of course!  We always enjoy spending time with friends!
  • New books.  I bought a couple of collections of abridged classic books at my Usborne Books party.  While I hoped that Daniel would read and enjoy them, I had no idea he would dive into them as quickly as he did.  He read Huckleberry Finn and then started Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I wasn't sure about these books when I bought them, but now I'm so happy I did!
  • I got a letter in the mail!  All of my children (except Hannah) have pen pals, so I've been a little jealous of their getting real, live mail.  But Wednesday it was my turn!
We did not enjoy taking my mother back to the airport.  :(  We even tried to think of some ways to keep her here, but it just wouldn't work.  However, we are a little bit, just a little bit, glad to get back to our relatively quiet routine.  :)

Tomorrow, I run my first 5K of the year!  And we have four soccer games.  Yes, four.  Sarah Beth has a double-header.  It's going to be a busy, busy day!

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Honor the Sabbath to Keep it Holy -- Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the Sabbath, things we should avoid.  Today I will tackle the question, "What can we do, then?"

First of all, remember that the Sabbath Day is supposed to holy, that is, set apart.  You should do things on this day that you don't do the other days, especially things that honor and please God.

First of all, you should attend church.  As Hebrews 10:25 says, we should not forsake meeting together, as some people do.  God wants us to worship Him corporately in church, and Sunday is the only day we can do that.  Yes, I understand that some churches have meetings on Wednesday evenings, but it's not a worship service.  It's not church.

Skipping church to spend time with your family, I don't think God appreciates that.

Of course, there are some times that you just can't make it to church, like when you have a sick child. God understands that.  When you're traveling, it's hard to make it to church, too.  I'm talking about normal Sundays.

Here are a few other things that you can do on Sunday:
  • Spending time with family.  I try to play games with my children on Sunday because I enjoy spending time with them, and we don't usually have time for games during the week.
  • Hobbies.  I don't see any problem with things like reading and knitting, as long as it's something that you enjoy and doesn't feel like work.
  • Napping.  Other than attending church, is there anything better to do on a day of rest?  :)
Now I'll be honest with you.  I do tend to a little bit of work on Sundays in order to start my week off nicely without a lot of work left over from Sunday.  After cleaning up after supper, I may start a load of laundry or make sure the kitchen is good and straight, just so that these things aren't hanging over my head all night and so I don't have to deal with them first thing on Monday morning.  A head start, so to speak.  But I don't do much; generally, it takes me about half an hour and it comes after I've spent most of the day resting and honoring the Sabbath.

What kinds of things do you avoid on Sunday?  What do you like to do?

Friday, March 17, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: My Christmas Present!

I have the best husband!  When he asked me what I wanted for Christmas back in November, I thought about it for a while and then asked him to take the kids camping.  Since he's taken them before, I wasn't asking for something he might not want to do.  Hannah and I would stay home, and I would get a vacation!  I wasn't in a hurry for my gift, so John took them this past weekend to Caprock Canyon State Park.

They had a great time!  They hiked a lot, and there were some challenging trails as you can see in the pictures.  But it was cold!  They managed, however, and now my children have great memories with their father.

What did I do?  Well, it took me two days to get to the point where I could look around and think, "I don't really have anything to do" which is what I was going for!  I did some cleaning and straightening the first couple of days, and then enjoyed my clean house for the rest of the weekend.  I also hosted an Usborne Books party Friday night.  It was the first time I've hosted any kind of party, and while it was small, we all had a great time.

To top it all off, my mother came into town on Tuesday, and we're having a wonderful time with her!

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Lisa from the Pennington Point wrote this post about finding joy when unexpected (bad) things happen.  (Remember my word for the year?  Joy!)  I love her daily goal so much that I wrote it down and posted it on my refrigerator.  "My goal today is to glorify God and further His kingdom through my children."  
  • Shopping.  My mother took us shopping one morning, and we had so much fun picking out new clothes.  While I do buy new clothes for my children -- when they need them, we don't usually go shopping like this.  We all enjoyed the time.
  • Swimming.  My mother and I took the kids swimming one morning, and they had a great time.
  • Time off from school!  With Mom here, I'm declaring it spring break!
We don't have anything planned this weekend.  It's spring break in our county, so there aren't any soccer games this weekend.  A quiet weekend at home?  Not likely with my mother here!  :)

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

By the way, happy St. Patrick's Day!  If you don't know why we should celebrate it, check out this post.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Book Review: When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner, Illustrated by David Catrow

When God Made You tells children that they are uniquely made by God, for a special reason.  Children are told that God made them with a specific purpose, a role that He created them to fill.  The illustrations are eye-catching and colorful, as you can see from the front of the book.

I appreciate the message in this book.  God does create each person on purpose with specific gifts and talents for him to use, and He expects us to use our talents for His glory even when we are children.  This book is very encouraging and esteem-building, and I like that.  I like the message in this book and most of the pictures.  Some of them are a little strange, but children would enjoy them.  :)

I want to thank Blogging for Books for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Why We Should Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

We celebrated with these cupcakes a few years ago; maybe we should again this year.  :)

What does St. Patrick's Day mean to you?  When I was growing up, I just thought it meant wearing green so you didn't get pinched.  But then I read How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill, and my thinking changed.

Patrick was kidnapped as a young man and taken to Ireland where he was basically a slave.  He remembered the Christian teaching he had received back when he lived in England and turned to Christ.

After he made his way back home, his heart became burdened by the unsaved Irish, so he returned there to tell them about Christ.  Many believed.

Then the Western Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire) collapsed, and masses of barbarians streamed through Europe, looting and pillaging.  They destroyed all the civilization they could find, including monasteries which were the centers for learning at that time, not just Christianity.  Europe which had been Christian was now mostly pagan.

So the Irish sent missionaries to Europe to lead the people back to God.

Instead of  How the Irish Saved Civilization,  maybe it should be "How Patrick Saved Civilization."

What stands out the most in this story is how God used one man in a mighty way to save Christianity.  One man is such a small thing, but God often works through just one man in this way.  Isn't it wonderful?

Can you think of other times in history when God used just one man?  What about David when he killed Goliath?  After that battle the Israelites never had a serious problem with the Philistines again, although there were a few small battles.  What about Abraham Lincoln?  As much as I think he was a horrible president, God used him to keep the United States together so that the Allies could defeat Hitler's Germany.

One man.  Such a small thing, but in the hands of a mighty God, well, almost anything is possible!  That's why we should celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: Cherish by Gary Thomas

Cherish.  What a great word!  Wouldn't we all loved to be cherished in our marriages?  Gary Thomas took that one little word and wrote a whole book about it:  what it means to cherish, how to actually cherish your spouse, and even how to make yourself more cherish-able (is that a word?).  There is a ton of practical information in this book that will help you improve your marriage -- that is, if you follow his advice.

I have read a couple of books by Gary Thomas, and when I had the chance to review this one, I jumped at it.  His books are always filled with great information pertaining to marriage.  And who's marriage can't use at least a little improvement?  :)  I loved this book with its advice for cherishing one's spouse, and I can't recommend it enough!

I want to thank BookLook Bloggers for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Honor the Sabbath to Keep it Holy -- Part 1

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.  In it you shall do no work:  you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Exodus 20:8-11
What does the fourth commandment mean to you?  Have you thought much about it?  I have thought about it for a while and considered writing these posts for just as long.  Here are my thoughts about the Sabbath which we celebrate on Sunday.  I'm certainly no expert on the Sabbath; these are just my thoughts, and you can and should take them with a grain of salt.

We all know that we shouldn't work on Sunday, but exactly what does that mean?  I think we can agree that cleaning the entire house or doing all of the laundry qualifies as work.  But what about things like reading books, cooking a nice Sunday dinner, or knitting?  Then there are things like preparing simple meals and cleaning up afterwards.  And what if there's a sick child and there's an emergency load of laundry?  What about these situations?

I've divided these things up into four categories:
  1. Unnecessary work.  I put things like cleaning the entire house in this category because we should refrain from this type of work on Sunday.  Why?  It's not necessary, and God commands us to rest on the Sabbath.  And cleaning the entire house certainly is not restful!
  2. Gray areas.  You may enjoy cooking a gourmet Sunday dinner for your family even though it sounds like work to me.  So I try not to cook much on Sunday.  You may not enjoy things like knitting; since it's work for you, you should refrain.  But I enjoy knitting and reading, so I do those things.  That's why I call this category the "gray area."  
  3. Necessary work.  Even making a simple meal for your family is work, and the dishes need to be done afterwords, and that is work.  I don't think that God intends for our families to go hungry on Sunday, so I think preparing meals and cleaning up afterwards is necessary and therefore permitted.  
  4. "Ox in a ditch" work.  This type of work isn't necessary most Sundays, but sometimes an emergency happens.  There's an accident that has to be cleaned up, or there's a sick child who makes it necessary to do some laundry.  Our "ox is in a ditch," and I think God doesn't mind this type of work, either.  
What about going out to eat or shopping on Sunday?  I think that falls into not having your servants work.  No, those employees are not your servants, but you do require them to work when you show up to eat or shop.  It's more honoring to God when we stay home on Sunday, and do our eating out and shopping on other days.

What are your thoughts about the Sabbath?  Do you treat it differently than the other six days of the week?

Next week, I plan to tackle the question, "If we can't do any work, what can we do?  What should we do?"

Friday, March 3, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Texas Independence Day

Yesterday was Texas Independence Day, and we enjoyed learning about that time period at the Stephen F. Austin statue outside of Angleton.  There were different stations where my children had a chance to try making butter, learn about firearms and doctoring, hear about cooking over an open fire, and so much more!  Daniel and Hannah enjoyed the cannons the most; Hannah couldn't stop giggling after they shot it!  Mary enjoyed the sewing, Sarah Beth the rope-making, and Rachel a game with sticks and a hoop.  My favorite was learning how to spin wool into yarn.  Maybe when I have fewer children at home and theoretically more time, I can get a spinning wheel.  :)  As you can see, we had a great time and learned a lot.  Unfortunately, Hannah was a little fussy, so I wasn't able to get many pictures.  :(  Oh, well!

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • dinner with friends.  We were invited to some friends' house last Saturday evening, and we always enjoy spending time with them.  They have children whose ages are close to ours, so they have a great time playing with them, too.
  • running.  Okay, I don't really enjoy running, but I've felt really good this week while jogging.  My 5K is at the end of the month, but I feel ready for it now.  :)
  • meeting friends yesterday.  It was much more fun with friends!
  • Sonic half-priced milkshakes on Wednesday.
Other than three soccer games on Saturday, we have a quiet day planned which will be nice!  

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Reading

One of my goals for February was to read and review the four books I had or was expecting.  I got three of them done, and they made up the bulk of my reading for the month.

Here's what I read:
  • The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee.  Yes, I read this again as there was an online book club with the author on Facebook.  I picked up a few more tricks during this read, too, for maximizing my happiness in my year of joy.  
  • Against the Tide:  The Valor of Margaret Wilson by Hope Irvin Marston.  This fictionalized retelling of the story of Margaret Wilson gives a wonderful look into what life was like for the Covenanters during the reign of Charles II when they were persecuted, tortured, and martyred for their faith.  The heroine was only eighteen when she was killed for her faith, and the book doesn't have anything graphic in it, so I had Sarah Beth (10) read it.  She enjoyed it, but I could tell that it started her thinking which was my goal.  Knowing that people have been and are tortured and killed for their faith is something our children should know.
  • King's Blood by Jill Williamson.  You can read my review of this exciting fantasy here.
  • The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn.  You can read my review here.
  • The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green.  You can read my review of this historical fiction of the founding of Louisiana here.
What have you read lately?