Giving Thanks Today:
~ Reading Colossians at night for family devotions. My favorite verses so far: Colossians 1:10-14 We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
~ Children kneeling in the yard, searching for the glory of God in the form of caterpillar, frog, toad, katydid, grasshopper.
~ That we have a yard at all is an excellent blessing in itself, and a good-sized one a huge grace.
~ A 13-year-old son willing to do yard work for the elderly from our church, along with a few from his youth class. I told him God would reward him, and besides, an excellent way to meet friend, or later, a wife, is through serving the Lord alongside one another.
~ A dancing, singing, exuberant six year old
~ A husband in tune with people more than tasks (to balance me)
~ Nice librarians this year
~ Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream on hot nights.
~ The Lord's ever-present comfort.
~ A hope and a future
~ Boys growing in grace and obedience
~ Precious time with my children.
~ In times of darkness, a promise of sunshine coming.
~ Sharing Christian stories of His grace and love with my children, to spur them toward moral excellence.
Good Friday to you all. I hope you've had better weather than Northeast Ohio this week. Clouds, rain, thunder, clouds, rain, thunder. Depressing. No sunlight lasting more than an hour or so. I have to wonder how the gardens and the local sweet corn crops will survive. This is the third summer in a row with unfavorable weather.
Mary's storm phobia raged with the thunder and lightning this week. She asks to watch library movies when the skies are dark and scary--she says to get her mind off the scary possibilities (like the roof caving in if lightning strikes one of our huge trees). In order to give her a better option, I canceled our Kindle Unlimited subscription and ordered something produced by Reading Rainbow for the same price per month. It offers expertly narrated books with interactive parts, such as birds that fly through the air when you click on them. Many of the books are non-fiction science picks which my kids love. Recently launched, it's called Skybrary. The cost is $9.99 per month, or less if you order for 6 or 12 months.
Introducing Skybrary by Reading Rainbow:
Synopsis: (May 13, 2015) Los Angeles – Beloved children’s brand Reading Rainbow® today launches SKYBRARY®, the all-new, web--curated children’s books and story-driven educational video field trips, created for kids ages 2-9. Designed to entice and excite children’s natural sense of curiosity about their world, SKYBRARY delivers an adventure-based unlimited book reading and video field trip experience. Built on the foundation of the industry leading educational App launched in 2012 and the Peabody Award-winning television series, SKYBRARY was funded by the record-breaking 2014 Kickstarter campaign. SKYBRARY is a new portal to the world of Reading Rainbow, inviting every child with Internet access -- at home, at school or at the library – to develop a passion for reading and to experience the fun of learning.
Other School News:
We've averaged about 90 minutes to 2 hours of school each day this week. I had the boys write an essay about their ideal summer, and the girls dictated the same to me. I'll share those, plus a new writing resource, and some library books we loved, along with some pictures of the kids' activities this week.
For my part, quite a bit of time was spent gathering 7 bags of items for Goodwill!
First up...the summer essays. I reflected on these and realized these are the things the children do most days, so apparently they're all living their best summer ever. The only missing links are a lake beach trip (30 minutes away), which the weather has yet to allow, and a vacation and camping trip.
Essays About Summer
Paul's Essay (age 11):
My best summer ever would include certain weather, summer projects, and activities. I will write about each separately.
My favorite summer weather would range from 67 degrees to 92 degrees. It would be sunny to partly cloudy, rain once or twice a week, and thunder only once a month. It would never rain or thunder on weekends.
My summer projects would be to write and publish a book, make lots of toys and games, and write a Bible study.
My summer activities would include: having a huge garden, playing sports with my family, playing board games every day. Every Saturday I would either go bowling or go to the beach, depending on the weather.
These things would be included in my best summer ever. What would you include in yours?
Peter's essay still needs an ending, but here it is, unfinished.
Peter's Essay (age 13):
During my best summer ever I would serve God in any way possible, and I would do lots of activities. I would see nature and glorify the God who made me.
In my perfect summer I would see: lots of toads and frogs, newts, bigger salamanders, lots of birds, lots of flowers and butterflies, and turtles. I would catch a giant bullfrog.
My activities would include going on vacation, going camping, going on lots of park trips and fishing trips, going to church, and biking for exercise.
Mary's Best Summer Ever (age 8):
I would spend all my free time in the garden catching grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, grubs, and any kind of insect I find interesting. I would look for toads and frogs and snakes and turtles.
On rainy days I would feed my bugs and hold them. On really pouring days I might watch a library movie or play a game with Paul. I would also make crafts.
On park days I would fish with Peter, play on the swings, catch more insects, and walk around the bushes looking for toads.
At night I would bug my mom to let me catch fireflies or night crawlers every night, no matter how much sleep I get.
Beth's Best Summer Ever (age 6):
On sunny days I would be a princess and practice my princess manners, and my princess dancing and walking. I would play and sew and do hopscotch with Paul, and do stuffed animal crafts.
On rainy days I would make a dress, go out in the rain and take off my shoes and warm my feet in the muddy puddles. I would watch a library movie with Mary and lie down to rest. I would snack on a carrot, my BFF. Or maybe on ice cream.
Pictures From This Week:
Beth continues to create projects and huge messes. This week she mostly stapled papers together to make books, but there were other things too. Above is a box she unfolded and made into a flying jet. She sits on it and puts her hands on the "controls" (the pencils she duct taped onto the cardboard).
She made a Bible book detailing the David and Goliath story.
She made a guitar out of cardboard and a rubber band.
She single-handedly created a disaster out of our house, as you can see in the following three pics from three different areas.
Allowing kids to make messes is very, very important. Their jobs are to discover, invent, create, explore. A childhood full of these things is a rich one. They don't need programs, classes, or a trip to Europe or Disney World. They need time, the most wonderful part of childhood. Time to discover, invent, create, explore. Not a childhood without responsibility, but one that adds it incrementally, while not crowding out the imagination.
Reflecting On My Own Childhood
My upbringing was quite a bit different from my children's. They've lived in one place for ten years, which is unusual in America now. I was born in Germany, lived in England at three years old, and Guam and Sicily later. My dad and stepdad were both in the military.
I was a seventh and eighth grader when we were in Sicily for 14 months. I remember some things about it: the beautiful ocean, the open markets, the weird personal pizzas, served on a dinner plate with peas and sliced boiled eggs and lots of olive oil. There were a lot of pastry shops. There were lewd magazines visible everywhere in the cities, and some of the men were touchy freely and rude with girls.
Many of the Italians wear their clothes for two to three days, producing a body odor they apparently like, but which I personally had trouble with (we Americans are unique, perhaps, in our daily showers and clothing changes--although there is certainly variation in this here). The towns closed down each day for siesta until late afternoon. The nights went late, and some children were served wine with dinner.
I didn't really like traveling all over. My memories are all disjointed and my acquaintances short and sketchy, until my stepfather retired (while I was in high school).
Now, I wouldn't mind traveling for short periods, mostly to see the world's beautiful nature spots and phenomena. Definitely, if we ever have the money (which I pray for) I would go to see each Compassion child.
We haven't seen the raccoon in several weeks, but we have a wild bunny now, chewing parts of the garden.
Mary is my fourth child to get eyeglasses. She's nearsighted like Paul and myself. Here she's observing a tiny water snail.
Peter and Beth looking for creatures in our backyard.
Some of these pictures, including the above frog, were taken as possibly entries for the library's annual photo contest, which Peter and Paul are eligible to enter.
Today they got out a motor from an erector set and tried to use it to make a motorboat, at Mary's request. She started the project and got too frustrated, until the boys mentioned they had a motor in their erector set. Here. they were trying to balance the metal for some reason.
A couple years ago they planted a milkweed plant so we could have more milkweed caterpillars and monarch butterflies. Now, the milkweed plants have multiplied and are slowing taking over the strawberry patch.
I had to buy strawberries today. Our patch seems to be done for the season.
When I downloaded this pic, I asked the kids who took the frog picture at a pond, and they said, "Mommy, that's not a pond. That's behind our air conditioner." (Where they can always find frogs). Last year I told them to put grass sod over this area, but I can see the little rascals dug it up again.
This is a gigantic water balloon.
This spider has babies on its back! My children saw them crawl off, amazingly enough.
Library Books We Enjoyed:
The Mouse and the Meadow
Written and Illustrated by Chad Wallace, published 2014
My Thoughts: The illustrations are so wonderful in this book. We marveled over each one! A sweet story.
by Michael Engler, published Feb, 2015
Synopsis: You never know when a best friend will be delivered to your doorstep. And that s just what happens to Andrew when a mysterious box arrives with a talking stuffed elephant inside! The two friends set off on an adventure, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, crawling through the sun-filled savannahs of Africa, and exploring the deep and dark jungle. It s a wonderful afternoon until Andrew s mommy interrupts. It turns out that the box was delivered to the wrong doorstep. It was actually meant for Louise, the neighbor upstairs. . . ."
by Anita Lobel, published 1967 and 2004
Caldecott Honor artist Anita Lobel tells a powerful story of two brothers who become enemies at war, and their wise mother whose cleverness turns fighting into peace.
A new, full-color edition of the timely and timeless tale Potatoes, Potatoes.
The Princess of 8th Street
by Linas Alsenas, published 2012
This cute and clever picture book proves there’s more to being a princess than just dresses and tea parties.
The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister
by Linda Ravin Lodding, published 2011
Synopsis: Ernestine is in over her head. Monday through Sunday, Ernestine's week is packed with after-school lessons--tuba, knitting, sculpting, water ballet, yoga, yodeling, and karate. Overwhelmed and exhausted, Ernestine decides to take matters into her own hands and heads off to the park with her Nanny where she builds a fort, watches the clouds, and plays all kinds of unstructured and imaginative games. But when a teacher calls Ernestine's mom to report that she has not shown up for yodeling, her parents search everywhere until at last they hear their daughter's laughter coming from the park. Ernestine tells her parents what a wonderful afternoon she's had, and explains her plight, asking, "I like my lessons, but can't I stop some of them?" This saga hilariously captures the dilemma of the modern-day over-scheduled child in riotous color and absurd extremes. A delightful heroine, Ernestine will be sure to put "play" back on everyone's agenda, demonstrating that in today's overscheduled world, everyone needs the joy of play and the simple wonders of childhood.
Math World Telling Time
by Bridget Heos, published March, 2015
New Writing Curriculum Found
Apologia Jump In 2-Book Writing Set
Here is the review by Cathy Duffey (one of her top 102 resources)
Synopsis: Jump In will help your student learn to write persuasive papers, expository essays, descriptions, narration, and poetry. The easy-to-use parent/teacher section includes what to look for in an assignment, how to assign a grade, how to help the student proofread, and a one-year writing program with daily writing prompts designed to be fun and interesting. This two-volume set includes an illustrated student workbook and a teacher’s manual. $40 set
On the blog this week:
Just Say No to Video Games
Causes of Addiction to Video Games, Technology
Around the Web This Week:
You Can't Serve God and Entertainment
Binge-Eating, But Starving
Peaches in Paradise: Why I loved Elisabeth Elliot, by John Piper
Did you know Elisabeth Elliot died this week, at age 88? She declined and became an invalid in the last decade (10-year battle with dementia), and her husband took care of her, along with nursing help. Here is a tribute to her, from a grateful wife and mother: Do the Next Thing: A Mother's Gratitude for Elisabeth Elliot
How was your week? Thank you for being here!