Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What We Have Been Doing

Here is what Russ and I have been doing this past week:

          Organizing:  Russ the garage and me the homeschool room/craft area

Working:  Russ for Dr. Murray and me beginning orientation as a PRN therapist at Spectrum Health.  Russ has also been doing quite a bit of preaching, both services at the Kalamazoo OPC the last two weeks, and this coming week he will be at a URC  in the morning and at the nursing home in the afternoon.   The state track meet is also this coming Saturday.  The boys will go with Russ to help him coach Makayla in the long jump.

New uniform--black scrub
Tending:  Our little garden boxes:  Strawberries, tomatoes, peas, lettuce/spinach/peppers, and beans. We were able to harvest lots of lettuce and our first strawberries (only 1-2 right now, but lots more to come!)

Caleb:  Really, really wishing that school was over for the year, finishing up final projects, and thinking ahead to final exams.

Nicolas:  Finishing up schoolwork, reading, and putzing around with his Lego ship

Making new sails that are not "pirate" ones

Creating a new captain or king's quarters.

Anna:  Reading, playing piano, playing Wizard

Lydia:  Ditto Anna and watching the house finch nest.  She is the first with any updates on hatching, feeding, or even, I hate to add, pooping.

Seth:  Playing with neighbors, reluctantly reading, whining for his sisters to play with him, begging to play on Caleb's Ipod.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Regional Track Meet 2012

I was never needed as an assistant coach--Nicolas had it covered.

The tent was not only good for cold and wind, it was great for keeping out the hot sun!

1600m PRs!

Getting off the legs right before the open 800m

Another PR in the open 800m

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wrapping Things Up

1.  Our homeschool year officially ended last Friday with our study of Alexander the Great.  We enjoyed watching a video about his life, battles, and, of course, his horse Bucephalus.   We look forward to picking up with the Romans next year and working our way through to the Reformation.   Seth finished up the week with a unit on the Grouchy Ladybug.  Most of the focus was on learning about telling time, but we also took time to study insects and some of the other animals mentioned in the book.  Nicolas is finishing up some writing assignments and his math book.  Seth and the girls continue to do math facts and reading every day.  Eventually we plan to get started on our keyboarding/typing program, but right now we are enjoying a bit of a break.

2.  Russ also finished up his classes for the year last Friday.  I can't believe that two school years have already come and gone in Grand Rapids and that he is officially half-way through his seminary studies.  Russ plans to work 30+ hours/week for Dr. Murray this summer, doing research and helping revise some of his courses. 

3.  Monday night the kids and I wrapped up our year in the BSF children's program.   I really wondered if I would be able to swing being a leader and homeschooling this year, but found that after a rough month I was able to find a routine and thoroughly enjoy leadership.  I was blessed in many ways:  by the extra study of God's Word for lesson preparation, by the fellowship of many godly women, and by building relationships with the middle/high school students in Level 4/5.   I still have leader's fellowship on Saturday morning and sharing night on Monday night, but the children's program is officially done.

4.  Track is also winding down for the year.   The regional track meet (like districts) is on Friday night.  I don't imagine any of the team will move on to the state meet at this point, but that is okay.   Coaching track definitely was a challenge in many ways, but Russ and I both enjoyed being around track and field again, interacting with high school students (most of the time), and being involved in Caleb's school.  I know I enjoyed watching Russ and Caleb interact as coach/athlete and father/son at the same time.    The younger four kids were complete troopers about the entire season.   If the layout of the track facility was conducive to allowing the kids room to run around, the kids could entertain themselves the entire night without difficulty.  If the the layout of the track required them to sit in the bleachers, well, then the night would drag on a little.   Since we had many cold track meets we were thankful for the little tent the kids had to protect them from the wind and keep them warm.

5.  Caleb ended his spring season with the St. Cecilia Philharmonic on Saturday night with an awesome concert.  I thought the acoustics in the old concert hall were great and the music was wonderful.  He has his school orchestra concert tonight.  He is playing the same Phantom of the Opera piece that he played with St. Cecilia so it will be fun to compare.  I can't imagine that it will sound better on a gym stage, but you never know!  He auditioned Tuesday night for next season's Grand Rapids Youth Symphony.  He was not happy with how the audition went, but with his perfectionist tendencies that is not surprising.  He will find out the results of the audition sometime near the end of June.

7.  Nicolas plays his last soccer game for the spring season on Saturday.  He loves soccer and will miss his Tuesday night practices.  We'll have to get the ball gloves out more often now.  He loves baseball too!

6.  I am saying good-bye to my time away from physical therapy (almost two years!) as I have officially been hired by Spectrum Health Continuing Care to work in the sub-acute facility less than a mile from our home.   I was hired as a PRN or casual PT and have no minimum hours that I need to work.  Next Monday and Tuesday I will jump through all the orientation hoops and then plan to work from 1-3:00 the rest of that week and the next to really get a handle on how things work in the department before going on my own on Saturdays.   Evidently, weekends are staffed primarily by PRN therapists, so it is good to know the ropes working with the full-time staff before working with the other "clueless ones" on the weekends.   Russ can do most (all?) of his work for Dr. Murray at home this summer if I work other days during the week.

One other reflection to wrap up this post.  I was privileged to host a homeschool mom's coffee last evening for about 8-9 moms.   We had a wonderful time of fellowship, encouragement, and sharing of ideas.  Most of the ladies attend the Free Reformed Church, but I also invited two seminary wives who do not currently have the support of a homeschool group--Nicoline from South Africa and Sarah from England.   I opened our gathering with prayer and then read a short article written by a homeschool mom who was giving advice on how to properly reflect back on a homeschool year.    "Homeschool mamas can really beat themselves up," the author writes.  She encouraged homeschool moms, "Instead of red-inking the entire content of your year, pause to think of 2-3 ways you know that God was honored and praised in your year...then celebrate the beauty of your homeschool year."   I was amazed at how much this little article echoed the sentiments of all the ladies present--I thought I was the only one with a stick.   We all agreed with the author that it is a privilege to "labor with Christ in nurturing, training, and teaching your children."   I think many of these thoughts are true for all moms whether they homeschool or not.   So we labor on with God's help...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

 Mother's Prayer:
All Gracious, grant to those who bear
A mother's charge, the strength and light,
To lead the steps that own their care
In ways of Love and Truth and Right.

So grateful to have been able to spend this Mother's Day with my mom in Grand Rapids!  Mom and Dad flew out for a quick weekend and were able to catch Caleb's track meet (another PR in the 800m!), Nicolas' soccer game, and Caleb's concert with the St. Cecilia Philharmonic Orchestra.  My cousin Grant also stayed with us for the weekend as he was in Grand Rapids to attend a wedding.  On Sunday Sydney and her housemate at Calvin College, Jenna,  joined us for dinner, taking a break before studying for finals.  We had such a wonderfully fun weekend!

Monday, May 7, 2012

"Charlie Needs a Cloak"

The week we read this book Seth reviewed Psalm 23 (we learned it earlier this year with the big kids) and talked about the Good Shepherd.    He learned some new vocabulary words such as loom, dye, carding, and spinning.  He also learned the names of the sheep family:  ram, ewe, and lamb.   Some of the other activities that we did you can find here.  One we particularly had fun with was dying pieces of cloth different colors in onion juice, beet juice, grape juice, and red cabbage.

He continues to work on math facts and reading.   I also started to dictate simple sentences to him to work on spelling, capitalizing first word and not the rest, and ending the sentence with punctuation.  He seemed to pick this up pretty well (maybe not the spelling) because when I came to the kitchen to see how he was doing on his work the other day, I found him gone and his paper setting on the counter with this note on the bottom:  "Seth ses i do not went tu ckulr his pickshr."  There you have it!  You just write your teacher a note on the bottom of the paper stating how you feel and then take off and do what you want!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett

We drew our own armadillo from instruction on Jan Brett's website

This was a fun book and the unit study had lots of great ideas.  Once again you can find the activities here.   Each day we tried to pick a topic to study from the book, so one day it was all about ranching and vocabulary words associated with that:  rodeo, cattle-drive, branding, lariat, chaps, steer, etc.  Another day we learned about armadillos, and still another day about the state of Texas--state bird, state flower, where located, etc.  We watched a little bit of a rodeo on a YouTube video, and also watched one on an armadillo and cattle branding.   Here are a few other activities:

His own "custom-made" cowboy boots.

Colored and put together a horse for the cowboy. 

Sewed our own bandana pillow.  I taught Seth how to sew a simple running stitch.  Attention span for this activity:  2 minutes tops.  Anna, however, enjoyed learning to sew and helped me finish the pillow. 

Seth has now decided he would like to be a cowboy when he grows up.  He wanted to make sure, though, that cowboys married and had children because he really wants to be a dad, too. 

Homeschool Weeks 32 and 33

We studied the story of Esther in week 32.  At the end of the week we read how the Jews celebrate Purim and made our own three-cornered hat-shaped cookies (hamantaschen) to enjoy.   Week 33 we read Nehemiah and learned about the rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall and how the people repented and reinstated the feast days after Ezra read the law. 

 For the corresponding history lessons we looked at the Greek/Persian Wars including the Battle of Marathon.  This brought us into the Golden Age of Greece under the great Athenian leader, Pericles.  We took time this week to learn about what life was like in ancient Athens during this time.  This included Greek pottery, drama, architecture, origin of the Olympics, science and philosophy.  The girls filled out lap book pages on the Olympics, Socrates, Aristotle, different types of Greek columns, and various aspects of life in Greece at this time:  homes, clothing, entertainment, etc.    Nicolas went one step further when studying philosophy and read about Epicureanism and few excerpts from Aristotle in the Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett.

The girls finished their unit on Charlotte's Web and we all finished memorizing Isaiah 40:21-31.  We will just review it next week.  We are still picking away at Greek root words and will review them all again next week and have a little quiz to finish out the year. 

Hamantaschen Cookies
We had our own Olympics by "competing" in the discus and long jump and running.  We passed on wrestling and the javelin throw.  I see one boy who has been standing at his dad's shoulder during track practice for weeks now and has learned a little bit about field event technique just by listening to him.    I think the only thing Seth picked up in the whole Olympic study was that they competed naked:)  Glad he decided to keep his clothes on.

My camera was off and by the time I got it turned on, the runners were by me.    Oh, well, they are cute from the behind too!

Anna drew her own picture on these Greek "vases" and painted them in "black relief" and "red relief".   Part of the project included mixing your own colors using only primary colors.  Her black looks more blue on this picture, but from a distance it does look darker.

The finished Fable posters (order is Nicolas, Lydia, and then Anna).  You may need to click on them to see a larger picture in order to read the moral of the fable and to see Lydia's four fables better.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I Think These are My Kids...

Home school isn't all serious work.  We found the bag of googly eyes for Seth's armadillo and, well, had lots of giggles.  Maybe if we had found eyes of the same size...

Without glasses...?

Or with?