Friday, September 30, 2011


How do you describe what it feels to be loved by someone who faces your faults daily, who loves you despite being less than stellar. I created a slide show of my husband, yes my husband- filled with pictures of him and the kids and him and me. Where do the years go and how is it that you see your life on a slide show and the grace and hand of God is so evident it does nothing short of bringing you to a river a tears.

I cannot believe we have been together for 13.5 years and survived so much. Stronger. In love. Fighting. We are fighting for a calling higher than us, higher than we can understand. Ben understands me.....I cannot say that about too many people. I can freak out and cry and he is practical, logical and full of wisdom. How did God know I needed someone like him? To think that Ben was hand picked for me, and I for him, by God, is too much for my heart sometimes. My heart is heavy with love and admiration that God, in his infinite wisdom, would use Ben and I to perfect our love for eachother and in turn mirror that love of Christ for us.

Falling, falling, falling flat on our faces...over and over failing, getting up over and over, trying again and again. Marriage IS NOT EASY. Marriage is HARD WORK. Marriage is WORTH IT. I have a best friend, his name is Benjamin. I have someone who can make me laugh until I cry- his name is Benjamin.

Did I ask for life's circumstances to cloud our laughter, no, but we laugh in the rain, and we laugh in the storms, and we laugh in the rainbows....because, if we stop laughing, we stop loving....if we stop holding in the hard times, we will never be able to hold in the good times. If we give up during the gut wrenching moments, we will never be able to give in the "butterflies in the stomach" moments.

Praise be to God for His grace and mercies are new every morning....great is thy faithfulness! God is faithful. He is woven in our marriage, He is our umbrella of protection, under His wings we find refuge. I can't help but brag on my husband, not because he is perfect but because he is faithful. I can't help but feel overwhelmed by my role as his wife, not because I am perfect, but am weak and made perfect in my weakness. Praise be to God.

Wives, do not give up, fight the good fight. We are our husband's advocates, encouragers and supporters when there are none. Never cut down my husband, because I have his back and will fight you back. Thank you God for Benjamin, for the ability to learn and grow together- bless us with many, many years in love- this will happen through your strength- never our own. Our strength is feeble....we need you. May our marriage be a testimony of your grace and love for us. Mold us. Here is our lump of clay.

Why Do I Do the Things I Naught?

I am having a moment....kind of a downer moment to be honest. I can tell this is the moment where I need to pray because I am allowing circumstantial things to overwhelm me. Some of the things are not even that huge, to be honest- most are not but I am the prime example of allowing one issue to be used as teh shovel to go around and gather every other nook and cranny issue, insecurity or fault and pile it altogether to form a party.

God, please help me to be the kind of wife and mama that you desire for me. I pray that we would look to the future with expectancy and hope and not with fear or insecurity. When life does not seem to go as planned I pray our faith in you would grow stronger. Take all of my insecurities and fears and replace them with your confidence, a kind of strong, quiet confidence that does not fear the future. But that is full of strength and dignity. Take all of my flaws and transform them- through the renewing of my mind.

God give me authenticity, patience and grace. I feel like I'm floundering at times, give me stability.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our Mayflower Voyage!!!

We are having a blast this week learning about the Pilgrims! Yesterday, we read " For The Light and Glory" about the Pilgrims struggles in Holland, the failed voyage of the Speedwell as well as their voyage on the Mayflower. I have NEVER heard any of these stories! I cannot believe that I consistently, through college, had an A+ in History and so much of the Christian aspects of history were left out or completely omitted. Not under my watch baby.

We are reading a book called " Don't Know Much About Pilgrims". This is a really good read for the kids and points out really interesting facts. For example, " The Pilgrims said prayer after prayer. The sailors said anything but prayers." The kids packed very strategically and into a very small bag the items that they were to take on their maiden voyage. Included was the Bible, a hatchet and sword, some clothes, a lantern and some food. I think they packed pretty well. Austen asked if they kids brought toys- great question! I told him that they probably did not bring many toys, if any at all, due to the limited space and the practicality of bringing only things that served a direct purpose.

Jayden read Psalm 27 while we sat in the lower level of our " Mayflower".  One of my favorite verses from Pslam 27: 13-14

    I remain confident of this:
   I will see the goodness of the LORD
   in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
   be strong and take heart
   and wait for the LORD.
 We then sang some psalms, worshipped God together, then I turned the lights off and we listened to the crashing of the waves, the rain hitting the side of the ship, babies crying, goats bleating, pigs snorting, people getting seasick and the ship rocking.

The kids were dressed in Pilgrim garb ( probably more reminiscent of the Puritan clothing that we all came to associate with Pilgrims), but nevertheless, they looked pretty cute. We talked about trusting God even when life seems very uncertain or scary.

All three kids than slept on the floor of the Mayflower as we sailed through the Atlantic Ocean. Finally, after much prayer someone yelled , " Land Ho!" and expectantly, we peered out to see a vast coastline with low lying beach shrub and our new home that we would call Plymouth.

Finally, Ben has a copy of all our our nations historical documents, one being the Mayflower Compact. We read about the importance of this and I was simply fascinated by it. Our country was actually founded on Godly principals, According to the book, " The Light and the Glory"- this was the first time in all of history that a group of people came together and used the bible as their source on which to draw up their laws and regulations- The Mayflower Compact.

We also completed both boys math, language arts, Spanish and Bible today- what a great day. Now to enjoy some hot apple crisp. Mmm, love me some fall time.

Unassisted Play

Last night Ben and I had the kids go outside to play. The weather is still reaching over 100 during the day so cabin fever has set in and is going crazy right now. We have some large pieces of cardboard boxes that have been broken down and slowly making their way into the recycling, some dirt and some trees in our backyard. The kids, armed with, simply put, only their imaginations headed out to explore.

After about 15 minutes, I peered outside and they were all engaged in a very intense game of throwing " knives and tomahawks" at their target. The goal was to pierce the target ( the cardboard) and thus making a point. We had so much fun watching them take on characters, " Caila ( Riah), Shirley ( Austen, haha), and Doomer ( Jayden). They played this game for over an hour and then again, bright and early in the six o' clock morn.

Free, unassisted play. Imaginative, creative, resourceful play. Play on babies, play on!

never to do anything, without being dressed to the "t"

My Grandma

So last night, or early this morning, whichever way you want to look at it I had a dream about my Grandma. To understand my Grandma, let me just take a minute to describe my feelings and memories of her: soft skin, caring, loving, sometimes happy, sometimes not, huge farm, picking raspberries in the summer, long walks along country roads listening to cicadas, eating cheez curls, the smell of her blankets in between comfort and moth balls, her smile, having her read stories to me, measuring me for new dresses, always sewing, sewing some more, making sure I always had a hat on, even when I didn't feel it was cold enough, playing endless games of hot potato when my brother and I had a horrible case of chicken pox, spaghettios, graham crackers with jelly, vitamins, always giving vitamin, practical, a saver, a giver, my friend.

I had a dream last night that woke me up sobbing. I was pushing my Grandma ( who is 83, almost 84 and not on a single prescription) through the halls of an assisted living place. My Grandma, in real life, is very independent, has had knee surgeries but successfully lives life on her own. I kept saying, " Have you been outside, can I take you outside?" and then as we were walking along the balcony of this multi story building her wheelchair slipped and I was unable to pull her away from danger alone and I kept calling out for help...finally, someone came to assist. In my dream, for whatever reason, she was not able to help herself.

Then, when we made it to a safe spot, I picked her up and carried her in both arms and kept telling her over and over, " thank you, thank you, I love you, I love you". There were kids running in and out of the elevator and we let them go down first. It was almost as if it was their season and my Grandma's was about to pass. I kept saying how I would never want to be a child again, that wisdom gained is worth more than any years of youthfulness- and how true those words are.

I cannot imagine the day when I find that my Grandma has passed on from this life, onto her heavenly home- my heart is so heavy today, but I will tell you- she has invested so much life into me, has given me so much that my heart is overflowed with the special bond you will only find between a grandma and a granddaughter, this is not the " I see you once a year and I'm good" this is , " you invested in me when I was young, now let me invest in you while you are old". I love you Grandma- thank you for always believing in me and loving me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wrapping Up Jamestown

What a busy day today. The boys had bible quiz, we all had church, then Awanas tonight and we threw in some school this afternoon. After taking a 45 minute hiatus from life, I went upstairs with newspaper, pretend feathers and face paint. We made Indian headdresses as well as adorned them with symbolic paint of their choosing. Jayden was "Raccoon Claw" and Austen was "Mewolf". I have these three bamboo sticks that I purchased at Target awhile ago and just have not gotten around to buying a large decorative vase to put them in so we used them as a tepee today. Yes, we know that the Indians in Jamestown did NOT live in tepees but limited means means creative solutions.

The boys really enjoyed getting into character and we traded beads back and forth. I pretended to be the settlers from Jamestown and their yellow beads symbolized the gold. I kept trying to cheat them out and trade my blue beads for four of their gold beads- because, as we learned, gold had no intrinsic value to the Indians. We discussed was this kind or honorable of the settlers and how would we feel if someone tried to take advantage of us.

Next, we played uno, in a circle, and if I won I was able to keep all of their yellow beads. I won twice. Finally, we read a couple of books on John Smith and talked about Pocahontas and her role in saving John Smith's life and the good relations between the Indians and the settlers as long as Smith was around. I feel so sad knowing that the Indians were so giving and wanting, for the most part, good relations with the settlers ....and yet, so many were greedy, selfish and had no respect for the Indian's way of life.

A few days ago, we were able to watch a live blacksmith demonstration and explanation on how to forge metal into useful objects, ie: tools and weapons. Jayden practiced forging metal into a knife. Austen had a chance to do it but completely froze up and made his hands go limp the minute I tried to put the protective gloves on him. Then, a spark few past him and , infront of everyone, he started screaming. Quite a memorable moment. Then, later that same day, Jay was able to participate in an archery class. Both of these were very cool as we were learning about Indians and how they hunted with arrows, the findings of arrowheads in Jamestown and then lastly, the blacksmiths within Jamestown and the important role that they played in creating tools and weapons for the settlers. Love how God ties in our lessons to practical applications- always!

Finally, tomorrow we are beginning our three week study on the Pilgrims in Plymouth but we should be receiving a great package of resources from the park ranger at Jamestown in Virginia. Wow, I was so excited to call and talk to the ranger there. He was so helpful and so willing to help with our study. We will definitely come back to Jamestown and do some more activities once our package arrives. I also ordered some travel brochures from Plymouth to be delivered this week as well. The best I can do since we live so far from both locations....also, the park ranger is sending us two Virginia post cards. Yeah!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lord Help Me To Remember.....

to not rush, to enjoy, to breathe, to smile, to laugh, to instruct, to train, to pray, to love, to nurture, to hug, to kiss, to give grace, to be patient, to be gentle, to be soft spoken, to be consistent, to repeat.

A Penny and a Car

The other night when Austen crashed into the corner of the wall and received a huge bump and small gash on his forehead, my other son Jayden wanted to bless him. As Austen slept, Jayden snuck a penny under his pillow as a surprise for him when he awoke the next morning.

Jayden's entire thought process blessed me, his compassion, his heart and his love for Austen. Anyways, Austen was elated to find a penny under his pillow and carried it around with him all day yesterday and today. With his penny in his pocket, he looks up at me with his huge blue eyes and husky voice asking, " Momma, do you think we could go to the store today so I could buy something with my penny?" Now, you and I both know that there is nothing in the store that costs a penny. The days of "penny candy" washed away with poodle skirts. However, Austen doesn't know this and I hadn't the heart to break it to him that there would be no item priced at $.01.

So, with a humongous grocery list that spanned five stores in hand, the boys and I took off. Austen clutched his penny and his eyes danced with excitement at what he could possibly purchase, on his own. We collected the few groceries at Walmart that were on the "Walmart list" and headed to the toy aisle.

You need to understand something about my kids. They are not beggars and they look at the toys and talk about them in the sweetest sense that you want to buy the store for them, only you don't. Austen stood there, penny in one hand, clutched and viewing all the many toys that his eyes could behold. Quietly, peering.  The average price on a hot wheels car is $1.07 and just a fyi, these cars cost $0.98 five years ago. Anyways, he found the "perfect" car and asked if I could get it down for him.

I picked it off the hook, handed it to him and the smile on his face almost brought tears to my eyes. " C'mon Jay, let's go check out". We pulled into the checkout lane and as it was time to pay I said, " Austen, can you give the cashier your penny?" He hands her his penny with the most proud and satisfied look on his face. I pay the rest of the amount, over 100x, what he was able to pay, knowing full well he would never have been able to afford this without my help. We happily leave Walmart.

As I stepped out of the sliding doors the Holy Spirit spoke to me in a a way that brought me to instant tears, He said, " This is what I do for you, my daughter. You may only have a penny but I multiply it 100x....I am able to use your limited resources, trust me." This word was spoken so soft and gentle to my spirit, I said, with tears running down my cheeks, " Austen, hold my hand" and as he did, I saw me in him and God in me.

We may only have a penny to raise our children with, God will give us 100x over to provide for our children. We may only have a penny worth of emotional strength to make it through the day, God will take that penny's worth and multiply it in ways that are, in any other sense, impossible. " Nothing is impossible with God"

Life's been a little busy lately, dare I say even a little stressful, $400 electric bills don't help either. Maybe I've been lacking on the faith issue and maybe, just maybe, God knows my heart, insecurities and fears even better than I care to admit. So, God I give you my penny, it's all I have, I want to hang onto it because its valuable to me, but allow me to release my grip on it...,my son understood, he KNEW, that I would only give him good things, there was no fear about the cost of the car or how it would work out to purchase it. No. All I cared about was his joy and his face, so You look at my face and desire to fulfill me with you joy. Give me the faith and trust of a child. God, here is my penny. Released.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Day in Jamestown...Hmmm

Ok, I will begin this with what we did today. We read a few more books on Jamestown and began to read a book on Pocahontas but needed to stop because Hannah refused to stop screeching and pulling on pages. The boys went outside to build wattle and daub ( mud) walls just as the colonist did for their homes and buildings inside the fort. We drove stakes ( small sticks) into the ground, intertwined vines ( fresh off the tree leaf twigs) in between the stakes and formed mud around the structure to dry and harden.

The boys worked pretty hard on their wall, washed up outside and came in to go upstairs and start recreating the Jamestown fort. We first tried to use legos but were having a very hard time forming a triangle point on the green building mat so we switched to lincoln logs. This worked fairly well,  they created a fort and set up their Indians and Cavaliers and workmen. The boys pretended to have a battle of gunfire and arrows and enjoyed this for awhile. Finally, this afternoon, we worked on math.

Ok, now I will fill in the gaps. Today was honestly a very frustrating day. Hannah was into everything. I felt that nothing was getting done to the level that I had expected it to. My plan for sitting and reading turned into a disaster as books were falling off the couch, Hannah was all over, drooling over everything and screeching. Austen kept zoning out, Moriah was being a complete " Ramona" and Jay was fine.

When we were outside building our walls, Austen kept asking me over and over if there were ants outside, and if they were going to climb up their see my son's opinion of ants see this post nature walk turns deadly. Then, when the boys went upstairs they kept coming down over and over because " so and so was not helping, they weren't sure how to do it....". I had imagined them upstairs for hours playing and creating this fort. Darn you expectations. THEN, our lincoln logs kept falling over, Hannah again, crept upstairs and tried to be the jolly green giant and overtake the poor Indians and Colonists. Then, after it was all over, Moriah destroyed the entire fort. The icing on the cake.

To say that I felt quite defeated today was for sure. It was just a frustrating day. I want everyday to move seamless and smooth and that is an unrealistic expectation, I want Moriah to be a "big helper" everyday and that is unrealistic. Finally, tonight, the kids were told to go upstairs to brush teeth.....we hear run,laugh,run,laugh, upstairs and Austen caught a corner with his forehead, huge bump, huge gash that by God's grace did not break open and averting a trip to the Urgent Care and huge screams. Ok, breathe, God give me grace right now because more than anything I feel angry for their disobedience. Needless to say, I am thankful they are in bed. Tomorrow is a busy day with a blacksmith field trip, art co op and an archery class..... oh, and Jay had an origami class tonight so Hannah and I hung out at Target while she tried to eat my new pumpkin spice candle and then later, spilled an entire sippy cup of milk over my newly mopped floor.

Anyone else ever have days like mine? More than anything I want to down an iced mocha with whip....more than anything....but since we have no coffee and I am too tired to go out , I"ll settle for crackers and iced water instead. Here's to a new day tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Things to Remeber Today

*Jayden forgetting what he was saying and me saying, " was it about school, dinner???..." and then Austen pipes up " chocolate trees?"
*Riah refusing to be called Riah ....only "Cubbie" will do
*Riah calling Hannah " Breann" and telling me that is her name now.
*Jayden sneaking up behind me and jumping out and literally scaring me half to death
*At dinner, a couple of nights ago, sitting next to Jayden and him waving a spinach leaf next to me and said , " I'm fanning you"
*Making the kids eat the most horrid vegetable soup ever known to man, Ben coming home, trying the soup and silently dumping it out and stating with a smile, " I can't believe you are making them eat this"- it was that BAD!
*Hannah waving her arms and clapping excitedly when she saw Riah dancing through the door window and saying over and over ," Isa, isa" ( for sister, sister!)
*Jayden, crying hysterically at our bedroom door tonight because he is the "only nocturnal person alive" and he wanted to fall asleep
*Moriah, who peed the bed the other night, climbing in for a nap yesterday and wiggling all around in her warm, sweet smelling, fresh laundered sheets and bedspread and saying, " its so warm and cozy, I love cozy"
*Coming into Riah's bedroom with every single item pulled out of every single drawer and her entire closet pulled apart and seeing Austen's sheepish face when asked if he was apart of this mess- answer, yes.
*Moriah waking up at night, having to go potty and then as I carry her back to bed she rests her head on my shoulder and pats my back gently.
* Hannah situating herself directly under her high chair with a stone serious face on eating dried morsels.
* Listening to Hannah sing in a high pitched, angelic voice
* Asking Jayden what 5+1 is and him stating, " I don't know, my brain is hurting me now"
* Austen sounding out words and saying, " I hope Hanns doesn't find us in our secret hiding spot" as Hannah rounds the bend of the living room to the dining room and smiling
* Hannah walking around last night with access coupon paper stuck all over her feet- out of control, impulsive.
* Riah wearing only her big girl pants and her cubbie vest this morning

Post Card Exchange- please help!

We are knocking down states but we are still in need of plenty- there are some people out there who committed to send, so the state may actually be covered but I don't want to cross it off until we receive the post card. If you are interested in being apart of our exchange please see this post post card exchange  to find out if we received your state's or not. If you want to participate we will send you a post card as well, private message me to exchange addresses. Thank you again for your help and enriching lives with fun, geography activities!


just a proud new "cubbie"

Austen's is a sand storm in the desert
Jay's is a jungle with a sunset
Today was an incredibly busy day but we accomplished almost everything that was on my list so I feel pretty satisfied. I am beginning a new study on art and the different types of art. This study will take us through the next few months and I hope that kids walk away with a fun, new awareness of art and how to create and look into a painting, sculpture or drawing with new perspective.

To begin with we are studying Impressionist artists, more specifically Monet. I looked and researched who to begin with a I love his artwork so I figured this would be a good starting point. We observed his painting, " Garden at Sainte-Adresse" and I threw out some questions like, what are the people doing, what type of weather is it, what season, is it windy, sunny, how can you tell......? I really enjoyed watching the boys look at the details of the painting and explain where they came up with the answers to their observations.

After looking at the picture and talking about his technique a little bit, we decided to paint "en plein air". The boys picked a habitat that they would like to be standing or sitting in while painting and went to work. They first sketched with lines their surroundings and then, using the pointillism technique they painted. Pointillism is when an artist paints pictures using thousands of tiny dots of color.

At first, Jayden and Austen were not thrilled about being told how to paint. I explained to them that although they were free to decide what to paint, the purpose of this exercise was to explore different techniques therefore, following directions was imperative. After they saw how much fun it was to mix colors, dab their cotton swabs in the paint and create a beautiful scene, they enjoyed the challenge very much.

We listened to colonial music while we painted and now, I just need to hang my corkboard up so I can display their work. Their math and language arts took all morning because we needed to do two lessons each. Also, we read more on Jamestown, the workman vs Cavaliers and colored and discussed who was more suited for life in the colony.

Finally, I read a narrative of the "Starving Time" where colonists ate the leather from their shoes to try and stay alive. The verse, Proverbs 20:4 " The lazy man does not plow in season, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing."- the early colonists pretty much lived out this verse. Since the main goal for many of the Virginia Company was to find gold and other precious metals, they wasted so much of their time searching and not preparing for the cold,harsh winter that was at hand. I am learning so much and probably way more pumped about this topic than they ever will be :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Books I Read

If you ever want to get into someone's brain, just ask them the types of books they enjoy reading and why. I wouldn't call myself extreme, but I think , sometimes, I am heading there. I just finished a book entitled, " All Alone Together"- Why we expect more from technology and less from ourselves by Tuttle.

This book was very fascinating and very disturbing. The author has written two other books prior to this one, the first in the 80s when computers and humans first began interacting, the 90s when America Online took off and so did chat rooms, and then finally now.

I am not going to go through the whole book, it was long and full of statistics and studies but I enjoy these types of read. Anyways, the basis of the book was this:

We provide our children with electronic/robotic/battery operated games, dolls, animals, etc and what studies are finding is there is now a huge disconnect with the emotional attachment of the "Gen Net" kids to real life objects and humans. The Internet world, facebook, myspace, chatlourette, etc all allow us to objectify, isolate and create worlds that will look and feel how we want to control them. Dolls that talk, cry, pee, poo, and shut down if they are thrown or shaken do not actually teach that abuse is wrong, ironically it teaches that there is no consequential effects from shaking the baby. The baby simply shuts down. However, if you shake or throw a real baby, you could kill them, cause swelling in their brain, paralysis, and the list goes on. There is no simply shutting down.

Killing someone on a video game removes your emotional and moral attachment in your brain and you understand that this is not real life. However, again, studies are finding that this is bleeding off into real life. Whether intended or not intended. Our children are growing up with less and less attachment to their parents, friends, and people. Making fun of someone over facebook is easier and harsher because there is not another actual human being standing next to you. Men and women are absorbing themselves in avatar related games, second life and Internet games that seek to bring about feelings of community ( and these feelings are felt in the moment) but studies conclude that once the game is over, the participant is left feeling even more depleted for human intimacy and interaction and goes back to the game for another "fix".

This book was very interesting and I highly recommend it. All of the studies that I alluded to are documented in the book. There are parts of it I do not agree with in the intro, ie: evolution. However, overall, I felt that it was compelling and further motivates me ( as you all know my stance on toys, games, childhood) to keep on going on. I could careless what is popular or fad or "cutting edge". Generations are becoming lost due to our ability to "plug in" to inanimate objects and "disconnect" from human, face to face interaction.

Colonial America

We are on to a Brave New World. I came across a notebook I had started for Jayden when we briefly studied the different explorers. Wow, I really wish we had a working printer- what cool pictures of people and things I had found. If anyone would like to buy us a printer, feel free :) We just received an out of control summer electric bill ( with the air at 82) and I am just over the heat. Anyways! Had I been a pilgrim, as we learned today, we would have had to deal with a whole "gaggle" of other issues, so thank you God for expensive air conditioning.

Our ant farm arrived yesterday but we will be without ants for a few more weeks, or atleast until the temperature drops to below 85 degrees. So maybe, just maybe by November they will arrive. We delved into plenty and I mean plenty of Colonial America books this morning. I love history! I pray that my kids will pick up on this passion as well and that I will aid in the making of it come alive for them. Today, however, my only goal was to play a lot of games ( accomplished) and read a LOT( also accomplished).

One of the books we read was all the foul and disgusting parts of being a colonist. I knew the kids, especially the boys would enjoy this one. To be honest, it was fascinating! We talked about their outhouses, dumping chamber pots in the streets ( and that the kids had the responsibility of this job), that they lived in dark 20x20 one room homes that smelled of stew, smoke and sweat. Sounds accommodating, doesn't it :)

This is what I LOVE about reading real books. The kids are not simply asked to read one paragraph about the colonist lives but rather, we have over 30 books ( we will NOT read all of them) on Indians and their point of view, Jamestown, Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower, Squanto, Pilgrims, hardships, their homes, the first Thanksgiving, well as our activities and field trips so that this learning experiences literally jumps off the page at them and becomes memorable. This is my prayer, atleast.

One book we read was called, "Little Wolf". It is a story about a young Indian and how their way of life was changed dramatically by the white man. It is a level three easy read so it made this very sad and complex issue very easy to understand, especially for Jayden. My goal in teaching history is not only to show the great things but also the unfair and hurtful things that humans inflict on other humans.

As I write our lesson plans for the next week, focusing on Jamestown, some of our activities include: discussing the Cavalier's clothing vs the workmen' clothing, drawing a picture of each and then watercoloring them, eating gruel, writing a newspaper article of life in Jamestown, making a wattle and daub wall and dressing like Indians and Pilgrims.

I decided not to wait until November to finish off our responsibility unit because then I would find myself competing with other patrons at the library for books on Pilgrims, Indians, Thanksgiving, etc. I would rather have all the books to myself and not have to return them early because " this book as been requested by another patron."

Here's to looking forward to six more great weeks of Settlers, Indians, History and Learning! " Land Ho!"

Autumn Mornings

 Cool Mornings.Red.Orange.Brown. Sweet Syrup. Soft, browned waffles. laughter. silly talk. no rushing around. Autumn in New England. Cinnamon. Maple Brown Sugar. Smells. Fall.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nature Walk Takes a Deadly Turn

not Riah's foot ( my camera was charging) courtesy of
Ahh yes, the cool weather beckoned us to start our nature journaling bright and early, at around 6:30 am. This was a perfect time period for us because we needed to observe some ants at work. We stepped outside and it was so pleasant. The air was cool, refreshing and everything was quiet. The kids and I took off and quietly kept our eyes on the ground looking for any sign of ants or their colonies. Per one book we've been reading, there are 7,000,000 ants per every 1 insect so I was pretty confident we would find some.

Oh did we ever! There were some black ants busy searching for food and moving it back to the nest. All four of us crouched down and observed. After awhile, I took the tip of my pen and gently pressed it into one of the holes. Black ants everywhere came rushing out, ready to fight. It was really interesting to watch the work ethic that the ants had, no matter the perpetrator. After observing this for a time, we set off again.

Not more than a minute later Austen and Moriah started screaming bloody murder, jumping around and flailing. We had come upon a red ant nest and they were EVERYWHERE! The quiet, still morning was literally shattered by screams of terror. Did I mention that both of my children that were being attacked are also horribly afraid of ants in general ( I was trying to debunk that fear for them, no such luck). I set about slapping their legs and whipping their sandals off to shake out any evil ants. The red ants are ruthless, simply ruthless. The kids kept screaming and screaming and jumping and dancing, anything to get those ants out of the crevices of their poor toes and I kept slapping and slapping. I felt so bad for them. Finally, after much beating, the kids and the ants, we were ant free and both had little welts all over their feet :(

We quickly walked away from THOSE ants and almost abandoned our nature walk when I tried one more time to revive our "quiet, peaceful, morning" walk. Finally, from a distance, we viewed a large ant hill and hypothesized what the ants might be doing, since we had no desire to actually get closer to watch.

I ended up carrying Riah on my back, her baby stroller bumping against my knees and as we rounded the neighborhood we stood still and listened and watched, in an ant free zone. Let me just say, forget the ants. We listened to chickadees fluttering and tweeting, two large birds that appeared to be geese flying overhead and sprinklers turning on. The kids than, right on the sidewalk, squatted down and recorded their sightings in their journal. Moriah drew a picture of a bird in the journal.  My favorite, all time favorite moment was when Austen sat down and tapped his chin, looked into the sky and said, " I saw 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 birds ( wrote those down in his journal) and 2 flying ostriches." I couldn't help bust our laughing. We walked home, on the opposite side of the sidewalk past the treacherous valley of red ants. When we arrived back to the home front, Ben was up ( the poor guy has been deathly sick lately) and I told him about the two flying ostriches, we were laughing so hard we could hardly breathe. Love you Austen!

Later today, we listened again to "High Hopes" and the " Ants Go Marching". We also read about the Grebe and the Woodcock and how they display responsibility. If you have never researched or read about these birds, I highly recommend it. We used Character Sketches. I also read a chapter from 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith.

Tomorrow we will finish up our ant study by making ants on the log and learning more about the various jobs within the ant colony and reading some more books. I am very excited about next week's topic as we will delve into history for six weeks to round out the rest of our unit.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nature Study

Now that the weather is slowly cooling off, I am so excited to get away from the house and into nature more. The kids and I are going to being an ongoing nature study. I checked out some pretty incredible books from the library that discuss bird types, fish, tracks, animal sounds, trees, etc that every child should know. I am excited to start hiking again, observing, listening, writing in our nature journals and breathing fresh air! I found this book:
and love how it was first, written in 1956 and second how it pushes us past our squeamish feelings towards bugs and allows kids to dive in and learn and observe and natural little scientists.

Thank you God for autumn!

He's Got High Hopes

Yep, and so do we! We really laughed learning this song today. We listened to a few different versions with Frank Sinatra and some kids, an old character on Sesame Street and a strange digital ant singing in a high pitched voice. All I know is I have " high apple pie in the sky hopes" for this lesson. Just say it, "nerd". Funny, I did not even know that this was a real song; it just reminded me of The Goofy Movie, when I was a little girl.

Anyways, we sang the "Ants Go Marching" and Hannah about leaped out of her pants getting so excited for this song. It was so funny :) Aesop has a fable entitled, " The Ant and the Grasshopper". This was read and then dramatized by Jay and Austen. I was very proud of Austen, he actively participated as the "ants" instead of sporting a sour look. This is something I have been praying about a LOT lately!

The boys than wrote/dictated their own fable. Jayden's was about a lazy ant, a hardworking ant and a praying mantis who, in the end, devours the lazy ant. Austen's was a more "round robin" approach. I began the story of a cow eating grass in the pasture and a mouse scurrying around getting ready for winter. Again, he did very well with articulating and telling a story- two of the goals I have for Austen this year.

The Life and Times of the AntWe read Proverbs 6:6-9 and discussed as well as worked on memorizing this passage of scripture. Also, we read a bunch of Ant books today and discussed the four senses that they have, how they are used, the different types of ants in the colony, how a colony is formed ( did you know the queen ant mates with male ants in the air and then they all die, except the queen who flies down, rubs her wings off and then begins laying eggs-rough life guys). Also, we observed a cross section of an ant nest and the different chambers and finally the boys drew pictures of an ant from memory, then studied a labeled ant's body for 1 minute and did their best to recreate it accurately.

Austen was able to remember the thorax, abdomen and head. Jayden drew these three circles on top of the ants head and I asked what those were and he said, "its simple eyes" and sure enough, that is what they are called because they only detect lightness and darkness.

Tomorrow, we will observe an ant hill, make some observations and conclusions and hopefully, HOPEFULLY our ant farm will arrive tomorrow!

Monday, September 12, 2011

In a Nut Shell

crazy dream. woken up whispers. early wake up call from baby. toddler pooing her pants that are sequestered in her dance tights and leotard ( so much for planning ahead). spills. too many questions. laughing. a special, homemade colored box by a special five year old. Cries from a 3 year old because she " can't kiss me when I am laying down". sweet cheek kisses. soft hugs. cool wind. sweet jolly ranchers. new candle burning. soppy wet diaper hanging off. Tumbling and toddling toddler. spilled fish food. broken light bulb. messy kitchen. early morning start tomorrow. early to bed tonight. babbling. laughing. family.

The Ants Go Marching One by One - Hoorah

Yes, we began our study on ants today. Was it as invigorating as I had imagined. No. To be honest, thinking back to our reading I am so grossed out. My stomach is churning.

Our day started off slow. We had some friends come over this morning, which was nice and they all played for a couple of hours. I then scurried us to Riah's dance where I highly encouraged her to be a good helper as the last time she was pumped about dance and then decided to cry the entire time. She did great!  We arrived home, after lunch, I put the kids down and needed a few moments to collect myself. I was feeling rushed, imagine that. Earlier, I had 15 minutes to spare before Riahs' dance so I dropped the van off at walmart for an oil change and decided to load the kids up in the double stroller and literally, almost, sprint to her dance class which was about 1/2 mile away. Puffing and panting and sweating profusely, we arrived- hence my note of " she did great" - I really wasn't sure with our grand entrance, how she would acclimate.

Anyways, there was just a lot going on today, but we made it, I prayed and then went upstairs to find the boys playing quietly and reading on their bed. We read a bunch of ant books and learned some interesting tidbits today. First off, drum roll please, ants take care of aphids because they enjoy the aphids sugary poo- yes you heard it hear. Sounds lovely after lunch, doesn't it. Also, like the bees, male ants job is simply to mate. All the workers are female! Ben thought this sounded great, ha!

We went over the life cycle of the ant: egg-larvae ( gross looking worms)- pupae-ant. I had some other high aspirations on my white board for today but those will wait until tomorrow. Honestly, it was one of those days. We worked on language arts and math and then the kids played National Geographic.

Dinner went well, grilled chicken, smoked almonds, spinach, diced onion and carrots and poppy seed dressing. Light and refreshing. Finally, reading the Bible before bed, we were discussing in Proverbs 6:6 the verse, " consider the ant...." and asked the boys, what can we learn from the ants?? Jayden said, that they like to eat poo.....I was looking for something a little more in depth, but thank you. The best part about tonight, the wind picked up and I stepped outside- it was a chilly 82 and it felt chilly! Praise God for cooling temperatures at night and in the morning!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Ok, so today started off prepared and planned. We headed to a Pet Expo to recap our last four weeks of pet studies in responsibility. The kids and I all packed lunches, wrote out directions and actually understood them and changed a very disgusting diaper before walking out the door.

Every child had water ( a big deal in our family) and our audio book, Winn Dixie, was working mighty fine in my cd player and added to our themed day. I've never read this book before but it is a very good read/ listen! Anyways, we head into Phoenix- driving along, singing a song and score, I find the location!

I see hoards and hoards of people piling out of their cars and parking in the main parking lot and many in the off shoot parking lots to save a couple of bucks. I decide to pay more and park closer because I"m by myself, downtown and would prefer to make things as easy on myself as possible. As I am driving up I notice that the signs on all the booths say " cash only". When do I ever have cash on me, I mutter in my brain. I text Ben to see if he knows of any good locations to stop at as my choices are slim in this part of the hood. He does not sooo, I ask the friendly man at the "off shoot" booth and he gives me a couple of choices. Ok..... heading off deeper into the ghetto now.

Never fear, within two minutes I landed and secured my ATM withdrawal of $20 and headed back to the Pet Expo. I pull up, pay, and park in amazing first available spot only to realize I have not parked someone in and now need to back up and maneuver my way around this wild group of "mean" looking trucks. Ok, did it, with my mad car skill to thank. We parked and I unloaded everyone, put the girls in the double strollers, placed our lunchbags designed with Cars 2 and Disney princesses in the basket of the stroller and took off. 

There was an excitement in the air that I had never felt before. People were pumped so I became more pumped. Jay asked me, " Where do we go?" I said, " If you don't ever know, just follow the people in front of you" So...that is what we did. As we got closer I see men walking around everywhere. Many of them looked quite burly and I kept thinking, " wow, this pet expo is bringing them out from all corners of the world".

I stood in line and when I reached the front a man gave me a $1 off coupon to a gun show. "Ok," I thought sarcastically. "Why do I need this?" I verified that 12 and under were free and the lady at the booth stated , "yes". Then, she stated my ticket price would be $15. Umm, excuse me? I tried to explain to her that I just looked online today and it stated $6 but she said that I would need a ticket to enter and then I could talk to the promoters about the price difference...sooo, I had to go back to the ATM machine, thankfully this one was located next to the booth and withdrawal another $20 because now I only had $13 in cash. The man standing next to me was a little scary and he had a huge gun on his belt. Seriously dude, this is a pet show.

I get back in line, with the four children, and pay, receive my ticket and then make it down the ramp with my double stroller, four children and a very cute outfit on, mind you. As we are being herded into this area to give up our tickets, the energy in the room is heavy with testosterone. Men everywhere toting rifles and guns, huge signs stating " NO LOADED GUNS ALLOWED" . I could not believe how much police presence was at the pet expo and it was almost time for the reptile show. I hoped we would have enough time to talk to the promoters and then see the reptiles.

A large woman is yelling, " open up your gun cases, I need to see your guns fully unloaded before you leave!". Man after man after man unloading their cases and doing whatever they do with their rifles and shot guns to show that they were empty. This is insane, why is the NRA sponsoring the pet show. I was very hot at this point, and finally, after moving from a huge group funneled into a single line, I gave the workers my ticket and asked where the promoter was located. They directed me and I wheeled the five of us over there. " Umm, excuse me, is this the pet expo?" - the woman just looked at me, the kids, and the stroller and said, " oh honey, you are at the Gun Show"- What!?!? How did I end up here???! Then it dawned on me, I was seriously the only one with a baby in this place, let alone a stroller, almost the only estrogen and the only one without a gun on my waist or a rifle across my shoulders. This is insane!!!Get us out of here!!!

The lady was so friendly, brought us to someone who refunded our money and directed us to a little building on the south side of the parking lot that was, indeed, the pet expo. We just walked out of there, saying goodbye to our pro-gun fans and pushed the stroller across a huge asphalt, 110 degree parking lot.

Finally, towards the end we found our reptile show. Jay was able to hold a python and then Austen held a slink with a blue tongue and Jay held a bearded dragon. The Bearded Dragon then peed boatloads all over Jayden as well as the floor, drenching him with dragon urine. He received a free reptile shirt and now I need to wash his shirt that apparently has nature's worst urine smell on it. Overall, we had a great day and I laughed the entire time thinking of how insane it truly was.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Jelly Bellies

I"m writing this because it will make only sense to me and the members of my family. Jelly Bellies mean something to us around here. I picked some up for our special day tomorrow and was reminded at how quickly life can take over and the small, meaningless items to most people can create a feeling of uniqueness of relationship and family in another. I am thankful for jelly bellies, for what they symbolize to my sweet, sweet family. Here's to juicy fruit dances in our happy mouths for years to come!

Snips and Snails and Beaver Tails- That's What Little Boys Are Made Of

What an interesting, but for the most part, fun week! Today the kids were able to enjoy an hour at a splash pad, we grabbed some lunch and I was able to get a great workout in. We stopped at the library to check out 14 more books, I think our total is almost to 100 now in our home and yes, we do read most of them! After arriving home and having a very quiet "quiet" time I had my devotional time and then went up and spent some time with two of my favorite buddies. The three of us layed spread out on their floor reading library books and talking. Just having their sweet little bodies next to mine, Jay rubbing my back, was very precious.

Then, transitioning to the end of our beaver week, we went downstairs and began our last two activities. For the life of me, I could not find faux fur or atleast faux fur I would be willing to spend money on. So, I started searching the Internet for an alternative fun idea and found one: Beaver Tails!  You can find the recipe here, beaver tail pastries. Apparently, this fried pastry is made in the shape of a beaver tail and is very popular in Ontario, Canada. For the second time this week, we found ourselves kneading dough and have gotten quite good at this. As the dough was sitting and rising, the boys and I went out back and collected various size sticks and twigs to create a beaver lodge.

Unfortunately, one of the pavers I was standing on slipped down and I caught my entire arm on a block wall and now have a very bruised tricep with some pretty amazing looking scraps. What was I doing so high up?   Yes, I was jiggling tree branches from the vacant neighbors home to see if any would come off. Ahh, the sacrifices.

We then poured water over the dry ground so we could create mud and the boys stayed outside for quite some time building together. The end result was a pretty cool looking lodge. They are able to tell me most of the facts we learned this week as well as why beavers are responsible. One disturbing fact we learned this week, however, is that our friendly otter is actually a predator of the beaver. . You horrid animal, leave those poor, non stop teeth growing, wood gnawing, forest friends ALONE!

The boys started watching 101 Dalmatians ( which we checked out the classic book this week to begin reading- yeah!) and I finished the beaver tails because it involved heat and oil- not a responsibility I'm ready to hand over. They turned out so stickin' cute! The kids each molded their own and ate their own doused in sugar and cinnamon.

What a great day and tomorrow we have a super fun event planned. Will I take pictures and blog about it, of course- this is, of course, my journal of our adventurous education!