Friday, June 28, 2013

Homeschool and Mother's Journal, June 28

In my life this week:
Our pastor came over on Tuesday night to make us members of the church--something which had to be done for me to work as a children's ministry coordinator. Prior to the meeting we had to take a spiritual gifts inventory and read through the church constitution and statement of faith.

We had such a pleasant time with this young man! At 35 years old, he's the most down-to-earth pastor we've ever had. Most of the congregation is at least 35 or older, so at times that must feel strange to him, but he does a wonderful job.

The first six years in Ohio we had salesman-personality pastors. You know the ones--good with people, but often disingenuous. They say all the right things at the right times, keeping a persona going that's more confident than humble, more calculated than natural.

Our young pastor is so refreshing in comparison. No, he doesn't stand by the door and shake everyone's hand as they leave; that isn't his personality.

It feels wonderful to have finally found a church home here, after leaving a jewel of a church behind in California, which outside of its mega-church size, we really loved.

My husband will help with hospital visits and possibly, in the future, do some pastoral counseling. This is even a pastor who lets other Bible-scholar types preach occasionally, which could mean a thrilling opportunity for my husband, who went to Bible college and a year of seminary. (Pastor gets a lot of sudden kidney stones, for one thing.)

In our homeschool this week:
We do half-days from June to August (followed by 6 weeks off--but they read 5 days a week year round). Half-day means the boys read a novel for 30 minutes, read the Bible, and then alternate between reading another half-hour of non-fiction in science or history. Math is 2-3 times a week, and writing is daily, alternating between dictation and narration. We're short on art samples so ahead of our August 5th portfolio appointment, I'm having them do more art.

Both boys are still reading Johnny Tremain, a revolutionary war novel by Esther Forbes. I happen to think it's a well-written, thoughtful novel, but both boys have complained about it at times.

Some interesting information about this author: She was a historian, not a novelist, and she had dyslexia. She rarely spelled a word the same way twice, and she used dashes as her only punctuation. Apparently quite stubborn, she refused to clean up her copy for editors. The novel persevered through these obstacles, as well as another big one: it was released during World War II.

I find the writing genius, with the character development particularly strong, but the boys don't like her detail-oriented writing style, which makes the novel move slower than it might. I'm making them persevere and I think in the end they'll admit this is excellent literature.

A few months ago we checked out a Kit American Girl movie about the Great Depression. It was outstanding, as are most of the American girl characters and stories. Peter liked these characters in particular, so when he recently stumbled upon a couple Kit American Girl Mysteries, he checked them out. Of course he was sort of embarrassed about it, but I assured him they were fine for boys too.

Many a mom has wished the wholesome American Girl series could be followed up by a similar series for boys, but nothing yet as far as I know. The Kit series has plenty of boys in it, thank goodness.

When a book's main character is a girl, I always tell my sons that reading about wholesome girls helps them recognize wholesomeness--knowledge they'll need when they're ready for courtship.

Two library finds are thrilling my Karl Rove-clone, statistician son: The New Big Book of America, and the Smithsonian Children's Encyclopedia of American History. 9-year-old Paul sits down with these books and keeps saying, "All of this is so interesting!"

Publisher Synopsis: Bright, lively, and informative, this state-by-state guide to America was designed for children ages 9 to 12. Each state is represented by a colorful topographical map accompanied by illustrations and text of the famous people, places, and events that have shaped its history. This comprehensive volume provides a well-rounded look at the United States in a format that's appealing and easy to use.

Front Cover

Publisher Synopsis: Current events discussions are now an integral learning tool in classrooms across the country. With its up-to-the-moment content and engaging style, this major reference book is an essential resource for helping children relate today's news to the events of the past. Focusing on the who, what, when, where, and how, with stunning pictures and a cutting-edge visual style, DK's Children's Encyclopedia of American History is published in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution to present a completely unique survey of the story of America. Featuring more than 1,000 photographs, plus maps, charts, and profiles of famous Americans, the design of the book has been painstakingly considered to pull in even the most reluctant reader.

Things my Paul loves beyond measure are maps and charts and diagrams and statistics. How he can get lost in those! 

In honor of Independence Day, I checked out five Lynne Cheney picture books (Vice President Dick Cheney's wife). She happens to be an acclaimed novelist who loves America. No matter your opinion of her husband, know that she's a wonderful writer with a heart for her country and its children. All product descriptions below are from

We The People: The Story of Our Constitution, by Lynne Cheney

We the People: The Story of Our Constitution   -     
        By: Lynne Cheney

Product Description: Though the Revolution was over, the troubles of this new nation were far from over. The states were squabbling, the country could not pay its bills, and in Massachusetts farmers had taken up arms against the government. Would this new country even survive? Delegates from across the country--including George Washington, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin--gathered in Philadelphia in May 1787. Over the course of the summer, they created a new framework for governing: the Constitution of the United States. Their efforts turned a shaky alliance of states into a nation that would prosper and grow powerful, drawing its strength for centuries to come from "We the people" and inspiring hope for freedom around the world. Recommended for ages 7 to 10.

America: A Patriotic Primer, by Lynne Cheney

America: A Patriotic Primer   -     
        By: Lynne Cheney
Product description: "L is for Lincoln, M is for Madison." Teach your kids the ABCs of American history with this "stars and stripes" book. Lynne Cheney---wife of the vice president---reinforces the godly values, ideals, people, and events that make our country great. Features delightful illustrations and explanatory notes. Ages 4 to 8. 40 pages, hardcover from Simon & Schuster.

Our Fifty States: A Family Adventure Across America, by Lynne Cheney

Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America   -     
        By: Lynne Cheney
        Illustrated By: Robin Preiss Glasser

Product Description:
An endless path of whimsical illustrations will keep kids' (and adults'!) eyes glued to the pages. Following the adventures of a family and their dog around each of the fifty states, they begin in Massachusetts (where the Pilgrims landed) and finish in Hawaii (our newest state), visiting all the major famous sites, people, symbols, and events along the way! With tons of tiny illustrations and captions highlighting the unique features of each state that together comprise America! 72 pages, hardcover.

When George Washington Crossed the Delaware, by Lynne Cheney

When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots  -     
        By: Lynne Cheney

Product DescriptionThis boldly illustrated book captures the danger and bravado of Washington's crossing of the Delaware. Written by vice president's wife Lynne Cheney as a Christmas time story, quotes from revolutionary leaders (with accompanying end notes) and stirring prose bring Washington's story of Continental triumph to life. 40 pages, hardcover with dust jacket and reinforced binding. Ages 4-8.

A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women, by Lynne Cheney

A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women   -     
        By: Lynne Cheney

Product Description: Lynne Cheney and Robin Preiss Glasser collaborated on America: A Patriotic Primer, which captured the imagination of American children and became a national best-seller. Now they turn their hands to A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women and bring the great women of American history to life. Filled to the brim with words and pictures that celebrate the remarkable (although often unmarked) achievements of American women, this is a book to relish and to read again and again.

Mothers, daughters, schoolchildren, generations of families -- everyone -- will take Abigail Adam's words to heart and "remember the ladies" once they read the stories of these astonishing, astounding, amazing American women.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing:
We might head to a local lake beach this weekend, weather permitting. Lake swimming is my children's favorite summer outing, besides the county fair. For my part, I try not to obsess about the dangers of lake swimming, but it's hard when stories about brain-eating amoebas float around. The water shouldn't be over 80 degrees yet, however, so we're probably okay this weekend. We'll invite our friend Dean along; it's hard to keep an eye on four children in the water, by ourselves.

We've been to the Tuesday young learners library program, entailing story time, movement, and story-related craft, and we've been to our twice-monthly speech appointment for the three younger ones.

Why three speech kids in the same family, you ask? I think our tongues are too large. Seriously. The speech teacher thinks this is a possibility as well. If I don't slow down, I easily sound like I have marbles in my mouth when I speak.

My Favorite Things This Week:.
Reading to my kids, the pleasant meeting with the pastor, playing baseball in the backyard with my children, and watching my 4-year-old daughter dance around skillfully, as if an accomplished ballerina. Music and dancing are her favorites, though I don't know if dancing is the best thing for her arthritic knees and left ankle. Her body sure moves with an uncommon grace.

My Kiddos Favorite Things This Week:

Mary, age 6: Catching fireflies, going to my library program, learning to ride without training wheels.

The no-training wheels happened last week, but I was too busy blogging for Compassion (covering their Nicaragua trip for my readers) to do a mother's journal. A neighbor boy with a head for mechanics took off my daughter's training wheels. No one asked me my opinion about this, but that is typical when it comes to the kids' bikes. They try to do all their own bike mechanics, with this 9-year-old neighbor's help. I would have said yes, since of course at 6 she is ready--we just hadn't thought about it and she hadn't asked.

By the time I was done with the lunch dishes, she rode pretty well. By dinner she was a champ! Not on the street yet though, as the back tire promptly went out soon after she learned. We're on the hunt for a 14-inch tire. (It's always something with kids' bikes, isn't it? Our bikes are older so there's some problem almost weekly).

Paul, age 9: Inventing a battleship game with paper and then playing it with my brother; catching fireflies and looking at history books.

Peter, age 11: Catching fireflies, tending to the garden, watching an African cats DVD, playing baseball with Mommy.

Beth, age 4: All the music and dancing, playing with my dolls and my books.

Things I'm Working On:
I'm doing the main teaching for preschool VBS in two weeks, and I don't have my materials yet! Organizational skills aren't the strong point at the church we go to for AWANA and VBS (not our home church). I will be very busy, obviously, the night before each teaching is due; with preschoolers you can never be too well prepared.

I'm trying to work out what combination of exercise tapes and walking I can put together to make up a consistent exercise routine, with homemade weights thrown in. I have a Richard Simmons and something that looks like it was put out by Shape magazine--both from the thrift store so not current, and both never used by me yet.

I'm Cooking:
For dinner this week:
taco bake
shepherd's pie
sloppy turkey joes
omelets, cafe potatoes, and fresh-frozen mixed berries
crockpot whole chicken
grilled chicken
Little Caesar's Pizza (Tuesday, so I could clean the house ahead of Pastor's visit)

I'm Grateful For:
My children's interests and passions, their love and fellowship, the opportunity to disciple them, my husband's hard work and love for his family, good books, our Compassion children's letters, our church family

I'm Praying For:
My children and family, my own heart growth, our neighbors, our Compassion children and their families, my friends and their children, money for a new Internet router. The living-area computer I write on at night while everyone sleeps is completely unreliable as far as the signal goes. The signal originates from the master bedroom, where of course my husband is sleeping when I have time to write.

Getting a new, $500 computer back in February, which we badly needed, did nothing to help our speed and reliability problem. I pass many a frustrated hour with my computer situation, chanting I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me...including handling frustration over poor equipment, gracefully. We have a $29 a month Internet service (no cable or land phone), which is the lowest broadband speed. But that shouldn't result in the wireless signal going out so frequently. We've tried other things, and now we need to replace the router.

Sorry to bore you with all that....

Quote or Link to Share:

Another poem by my favorite poet, Edgar Guest. Have a wonderful weekend, friends! And now it's your turn: What neat things did you enjoy this week?


It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ’preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.

Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ‘em up t’ women good, an’ men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
With anything they ever used—they’ve grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumbmarks on the door.

Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’ when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
O’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.

Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ’come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes’ t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.

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Beth said...

I am thrilled that you have found a church and are giving opportunities to serve. I like your half-day school that sounds like a great way to continue in the summer. We are wrapping up our stay at the lake.

Christine said...

Thank you, Beth! Are you off to England now?

Kim said...

We also found Johnny Tremain very slow at times. You are right in thinking it is well worth sticking with it though! I will re-read it next year with my other son and I look forward to it. I enjoyed reading your journal:)