In my life this week:
It's Friday, ending four days of school this week. The last of the typing lessons and math lessons are done, and at least my part of school is also complete, so the computer appears to be mine for a time before I start dinner.
As I type, the dryer screeches horribly. It's been three weeks now we've handled this unwelcome noise. Did I mention we do 3-4 loads a day?
Sometimes I feebly shout, "Thank you, God, for the squeak in my life!", and it will stop squeaking for the duration of the cycle. More often this does not work, and only a ball-bearing replacement operation will get us entirely out of our misery. But since this is an older, used dryer, we will probably just get a new, older, used dryer.
I wish I could say the dryer is it around here for broken things, but that would be wishful thinking. My husband hates two things with every fiber of his being: grocery shopping and home repairs. If we could afford new things, this wouldn't be a problem. Some of you, whose husbands love to tinker, are possibly driven a little crazy by him constantly tearing up the house to make "improvements". I sympathize with your plight, too.
Instead of crying about brokenness in its many forms (OCD currently being the worst form of brokenness around here) I look for the symbolism. Every day throughout the day, I'm on a hunt for symbolism. My reservoir of strength and long-suffering is vast, as long as I see purpose. God truly does order our lives down to the minute details, and that means everything has purpose. He doesn't order abuse, crime, disease, or disorders, but he uses them. We may want happiness most of all, but God wants us refined most of all. We're in training as Christians, and we cannot fail; the Lord promises to finish the work he started in us.
And He grieves with us. We can't ever forget that part...that we have Jesus...Immanuel...God-With-Us. If Christmas does nothing else for the long-time Believer, let it highlight that one word...Immanuel.
In Our Homeschool This Week:
We started back up the day after Christmas. With ADHD in the mix it's best to keep things routine. All four children are making steady progress, but what's true about mothering is true about homeschooling: The days are long but the years are short.
The days are really long.
You've probably noticed that we don't do learning activities in our homeschool that appear neat and innovative. The truth is, the kids do all those things in their free time. I remember reading on Sonlight's website that if you like a bunch of hands-on projects, Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum is not for you. They believe, like I do, that kids will do all the hands-on learning on their own. Learning through play is natural for children, and we need not micromanage their inventions and experiments. Our part is to stay out of the way, and encourage them by not complaining about their messes. We must give them room and license to discover, and not take up their precious time with busy work.
We're still reading John Piper's Advent resource. Peter said, the first time I picked it up after Christmas, "But it's not Christmas anymore." Husband and I both responded, "Every day is Christmas."
The boys are reading Water Sky, by Jean Craighead George. Ms. George has written many books, usually centered around nature (she was raised in a family of naturalists). Julie of the Wolves won her a Newbery Medal, and My Side of the Mountain won her a Newbery Honor. Her author page at Scholastic is here.
Water Sky, strangely, has a grade-level equivalent of 7.2, but a Lexile of 730, which is quite low. The discrepancy must speak about the emotional concepts being more difficult to comprehend than the vocabulary itself. Definitely one for parents to pre-read. So far, Peter's a big fan of this book, but that might change with the sad ending. One thing I've noticed about authors who take their craft seriously? They don't always go for the ending the reader wants. Good endings sell, but they don't always speak something valid about the human condition.
I didn't care for the publisher synopsis of this book, so I'm using a synopsis left on Sonlight's site by a 13-year-old homeschool boy. You can find it here.
“Water Sky” by Jean Craighead George allows readers to picture the life of a foreigner trying to prove himself as a real and true Eskimo. This story takes place in Barrow, Alaska, where a boy named Lincoln Noah Stonewright comes to Alaska to find his long lost Uncle Jack who came to Alaska two years before and was never heard from again. With the help of Vincent Ologak, Kusiq, Little Owl and many others, Lincoln must try to prove himself worthy by trying to kill a whale. But it is not an easy task; many Eskimos despise foreigners and Lincoln goes through a hard time, constantly facing dangers at every turn -like Tigluk, who vowed to kill Lincoln and destroy his life. This is a book of struggles, hardship, adventure, suspense, friendship, sorrow and danger. In my opinion, this is one of my favourite books among my homeschooling readers. I am truly fascinated by how the author expresses the lifestyle of the Eskimos through her experiences in Alaska. This book not only has an exciting storyline but also contains a lot of factual information that can give readers an insight into the lives of the Eskimos. I am mind-boggled by how Eskimos can make use of every part of an animal or a natural resource. They never waste any part of anything they kill nor pollute the environment. This is a truly awesome book and I recommend this book, especially to young people. BY: NOAH LEE 13.
In early elementary news: Mary, first grade, is moving right along, and showing real strength in spelling. Her reading is going well, but I've found I have to push her to gain fluency. She encounters new words every sentence now, and after she sounds them out, she takes this momentary mental break, as though there's a period after every word. Her word-attack skills are developed enough now that I think this breaking is a habit, more than a necessity. I purposely try to move her along, not allowing her to indulge in these "breaks". The slower the fluency, the harder it is for them to make inferences or mental predictions about what the next word will likely be, eventually affecting their comprehension.
Beth just turned five and I'm trying to work with her more consistently. She is sounding out her first words, and I noticed right away that she's less a phonetic reader than her sister, and more a big-picture reader, using different cues (not just picture cues) to attack the text up front. I started her in the kindergarten readers that come with the Sing Spell Read Write K-1 combo curriculum.
One more thing about Mary, first grade: She's a methodical reader, and that has tested my resolve to let each child develop as God created them. I prayed, I believed, I waited, and I think we're now moving away from the hard part of beginning reading.
Paul is a whiz at math and loves it, but Peter and Mary struggle with it. I predict Beth won't have any difficulty with it. She seems to be a natural, like Paul. Teaching Textbooks will work for all my children and that pleases me exceedingly, because those two guys are great teachers. They still only have material starting at 3rd grade, probably because the young ones need hands-on materials.
What I'm grateful for:
~ Lots of new snow to delight the children. It's been too cold to be out this week, but this weekend the temperatures will be better for play and snowman-building.
~ Encouraging friends
~ Loving husband
~ A friend coming to teach us to knit
~ Lots of brokenness to refine our characters and straighten our Christian walks.
~ The molasses cookies Peter made
~ Baked Potato Soup (Keep meaning to type that recipe here, but no time today.)
Time to start the chicken and rice. My children absolutely love plain brown rice, cooked 45 minutes in water, butter and a bit of salt. They even fight over the leftovers and enjoy them for snack time. So funny. I told them some people eat the leftovers with milk and raisins and brown sugar, but they haven't warmed up to that idea yet.
Quote to Share: How about a whole Psalm? An amazing Psalm.
1Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
2Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
3Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
4All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing the praises of your name.”a
5Come and see what God has done,
his awesome deeds for mankind!
6He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him.
7He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.
8Praise our God, all peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
9he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
10For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
11You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
12You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
13I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you—
14vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.
15I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats.
16Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
17I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
18If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
19but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
20Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
Have a blessed weekend, friends.