Friday, April 4, 2014

Homeschool and Mother's Journal Apr. 4

In my life this week:

We took a couple day of spring break this week, doing only one or two school tasks. Taking a whole week throws chronic disorders and behavior off kilter and it just isn't worth it. Plus, I like the flexibility of taking a day here or there off, as needed, throughout the year, as opposed to scheduled vacations.

Spring temperatures arrived, causing my 10-year-old's tree pollen allergies to kick into high gear. His main symptom, besides the usual cold-like symptoms, is a ferocious itch in both eyes, barely touched by antihistamine eye drops coupled with an oral antihistamine syrup. This is his third year dealing with this and it affects everything--mood, sleep, productivity.

Along with my other son, who is dealing with a very troubling mental health issue, the ten-year-old questions why God would want him to be so miserable. What is the purpose, he asks? Where is God's healing power? They've heard my husband pray about my migraines for as long as they can remember, so they already know God doesn't always heal, but when it's your own personal issue and suffering in front of you, these questions have to be wrestled with.

I can only pray desperate mother-prayers, and share the appropriate verses related to thorns in the flesh, and talk about my own experiences and how God applies his grace to me daily. Every person wrestles with these heady issues at some point, and in a way I feel fortunate that the boys are learning early how hard the Christian walk is, and how much faith and Scripture it takes to finish the race well.

Ultimately, we have to decide we will still love God just as much, regardless of our new and unrelieved suffering. I think that is how God's glory shines through our weaknesses; it's in deciding that we still love Him wildly and in displaying that love for all to see. The Lord gets the glory for our courage and our ever-faithful God-love. He gives us stamina and the strength to praise His Holy Name.

That's not to say my heart isn't breaking for both my boys this week.This has been a hard month, is all I can say. Our new dog, Rudy, is providing divine comfort, even licking tears at times. He's a saint.

In Our Homeschool:

The boys are reading the same books as shared last week. They are plugging along, despite their woes, always enjoying their reading list for the most part. Ali and the Golden Eagle--part of the Middle East studies in Sonlight Core F--is an exciting book and they both get lost in it.

Overview of Ali and the Golden Eagle:
An American working in Saudi Arabia befriends a boy from a remote village and helps him train an eagle to hunt.

My Mary, age 7, is gaining a lot of independence in her reading this month, which has been thrilling. Her strengths are emerging strongly this year. When I read a passage from classic literature from Writing With Ease Level 1, she can narrate it back with an uncanny accuracy to the text.

Writing with Ease Level One Workbook   -     By: Susan Wise Bauer

I sit there in awe of her easy, animated retellings. Even the boys are amazed when they're at the table with us. She has always memorized her favorite books word for word, so this shouldn't come as a surprise to me. She's a strong auditory learner, for sure (ease with AWANA verses supports this). I see her gaining confidence daily in all aspects of school.

Beth, age 5, likes to sit in on the story passages as well and try her hand at oral narration. I can't praise Susan Wise Bauer's writing curriculum enough; it's my favorite part of the day because of the quality and breadth of literature she chose to include. Children of all ages will fall in love with books and stories using this curriculum.

I'm also still enjoying teaching first grade math via Saxon Math 1. It's just excellent. I will definitely continue to use Saxon for second grade, but will then move my girls into Teaching Textbooks, which starts at third grade.

We finished the book of Daniel in our morning devotions and began the book of Hebrews, which will be followed by James. We follow this prayer schedule, which I wrote a while back. The children and I also pray immediate prayers and requests each day.

Trade Books to Share

All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan (author of Sarah Plain and Tall)

Publishers Weekly
MacLachlan's characteristically resonant language and Wimmer's majestic paintings affectingly celebrate the natural world and the family. Told in the voice of a child who lives on a farm with his parents and grandparents, the author's poetic narrative opens on the day of the boy's birth, when his grandmother holds him up to the open window, ``So that what I heard first was the wind. / What I saw first were all the places to love: / The valley, / The river falling down over rocks, / The hilltop where the blueberries grew.'' The child introduces readers to the spots that each person in his family loves best: for his mother it is the hilltop where the sky is ``an arm's length away''; for his grandfather, the dark, cool barn ``Where else, he says, can the soft sound of cows chewing / Make all the difference in the world?''. Only after the birth of his sister does the boy reveal his favorite place of all: the marsh ``Where ducklings follow their mother / Like tiny tumbles of leaves.'' Whether focusing on a single, aging turtle or depicting a sweeping panorama, Wimmer's Train Song ; Flight paintings beautifully convey the splendor of nature, as well as the deep affection binding three generations. This inspired pairing of words and art is a timeless, uplifting portrait of rural family life. All ages.

This book is a breath of fresh to savor and read over and over. Patricia MacLachlan is so talented and the paintings by Mike Wimmer are breathtaking.


Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story From the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine

Henry's Freedom Box

Henry Brown doesn't know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves' birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday — his first day of freedom
A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom by a Jane Addams Peace Award-winning author and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist.

This true story shows a triumphant ending for Henry Brown, but apparently he was never reconciled with his wife and children, who were sold before he successfully escaped via a shipping crate. The bravery and courage in the midst of horrible heartbreak never fails to amaze me as I read more and more stories of the Underground Railroad. What slaves endured in our country is beyond comprehension, especially those in the hands of evil masters. This is an outstanding living history book for all ages.


Dangerous Crossing: The Revolutionary Voyage of John Quincy Adams by Stephen Krensky

Dangerous Crossing: The Revolutionary Voyage of John Quincy Adams

Overview: In February 1778, at the height of the Revolutionary War, the American representative from Massachusetts, John Adams, is sent on a secret mission to France. It is dangerous to cross the Atlantic in winter, but the situation is desperate-the colonies need France's help against the British army. Adams is accompanied by his ten-year-old son, Johnny. Together, father and son must weather an angry ocean, perilous sea battles, and other dangers to help the colonies achieve freedom.
Vivid illustrations and a fast-paced narrative bring to life this little-told story of a character-defining event in the lives of two future presidents.

Excellent writing here, displaying how leadership is born. Another wonderful living history book for grades second and above.


Rutherford B. Who Was He? by Marilyn Singer

Rutherford B., Who Was He?

New in 2013 Forty-three men with forty-three passions, but with one thing in common: a presidential place in America’s history.

With her gift for unforgettable rhythm and innovative rhyme, Marilyn Singer brings the presidents of the United States to life—from Washington to Obama—and contextualizes them in their time. Illustrations by John Hendrix are full of hilarious wit and refined exuberance, and backmatter enriches the experience with short biographies, quotes by each president, and more.

A fun way to learn American history! The poems are short, brilliant, and powerful. A must-have living history book for second grade and above.


The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark by Carmen Agra Deedy

The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark

Overview: For centuries, the Star of David was a symbol of Jewish pride. But during World War II, Nazis used the star to segregate and terrorize the Jewish people. Except in Denmark. When Nazi soldiers occupied his country, King Christian X of Denmark committed himself to keeping all Danes safe from harm. The bravery of the Danes and their king during that dangerous time has inspired many legends. The most enduring is the legend of the yellow star, which symbolizes the loyalty and fearless spirit of the king and his people. The result is a powerful and dignified story of heroic justice, a story for all people and all times.

This is a beautiful story and a beautiful book. Although it is legend, it's true that the Danish people did more to protect its Jewish citizens than any other nation affected by the Holocaust. Few died in comparison. I recommend this book as a poignant, inspiring living history book for ages first grade and above. An author's note at the back of the book distinguishes legend from truth. The spirit of the story is true, in my opinion.


Our Seasons by Grace Lin and Ranida T. McKneally

Our Seasons

Children's Literature - Laura Ruttig
Outstanding illustrations, combined with an unusual mixture of texts, create a fascinating fusion of styles in this wonderful multicultural picture book. Depictions of seasonal fun mix with scientific explanations for the weather presented, as four friends Ki-Ki, Owen, Lily, and Kevin, dance through the pages. Lin's graceful illustrations highlight the flow of the wind, and her use of brightly colorful shapes with clear, dark outlines convey a peaceful, yet playful tone. A fluid sense of motion also fills the drawings. Written for a dual audience of older and younger kids, the text contains a combination of expressive haiku that are perfect for reading aloud with longer, scientific sidebars that convey information on weather phenomenon. For example, one paragraph next to a depiction of the children building a snowman explains why cheeks turn red in the cold, while the haiku on the page captures the mood of the moment: "Owen's cheeks turn red / From the cold lipstick kisses / Given by the wind" (14). Science and art blend beautifully to make this an exceptional picture book.

I couldn't agree more with the glowing review above. This is one to keep! Excellent living science book for a wide range of ages.

Gratitude Journal

~ The sweet taste of progress in our studies.

~ God's Holy Word, which comforts, trains, and renews.

~ Our new dog, Rudy, who is just what the Lord ordered.

~ Cuddly children who never fail to renew my spirit.

~ An end to winter temperatures, we think. (I won't mention the deep rain puddles all over the yard, making doggy paw cleaning quite the chore.)

~ Lots of wonderful books to enjoy, all inspired by the human spirit and God's glorious creation. Three of my children want to write children's books someday, and Paul wants to write homeschool curriculum similar to Sonlight's. Books have power...far greater than the power of a teacher to impart wonder. Wholesome, classic books are the best teachers for any child.

~ My son Peter's entrepreneurship. He wrote a flyer for his own dog-walking business...$3 for a half hour. I am so proud of him, even though it will mean husband or me accompanying him at first, until we grow to trust the clients and dogs. We have a quiet neighborhood, thank goodness.

~ The richness of sibling relationships. What a God-sent blessing they are.

~ A gentle, strong, steadfast husband.

~ Compassion  children who expand my heart and my family and whose letters bring me joy.

~ Online friends to pray and share burdens with. Thank you. You are special.

More on gratitude in yesterday's Thankful Thursday post.

Verses to Share

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Psalms 121:1-2“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Thank you for reading and how was your week, friends?

So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?


Tesha Papik said...

We did not take as spring break either. I agree a coupel of days here and there are better than a week! We have eight weeks of school to go and I am looking forward to a summer break so I can do some mommy projects:) Love the recipes you shared I will give them a try! said...

For us school ended on Friday for the Easter holidays. This morning my parents came and took the children to stay with them for a week. I am so glad of the break. It gives my husband and I the chance to go house-hunting and to make more time for my dear mother-in-law, who is grieving the loss of her husband and trying to cope with dementia. I also want to (slowly) do some more decluttering, especially in my son's room. He hates anyone going in his room but it smells of teenage boy in there so I'm going to have to go in while he's away. He nearly had a tantrum because his grandad wouldn't let him take all six of his radios with him in the car... but grandad eventually relented. My husband was cross, because as soon as you give our son an inch he runs not just one mile but ten. Such is autism. But I don't have to worry about that for a whole week ;-)

Christine said...

Sandi, enjoy your break and extra time with hubby!