August 31, 2009

The Four Seasons

We were listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons while I did the dishes and E played. I asked her if she knew the four seasons. She said, "Spring ... Summer ... Fall, and ... (more pause) ... Christmas!"

I asked if she knew what season Christmas is in, and she quickly answered "Winter." But one can tell what the highlight of her winter is!

August 29, 2009

Strep Throat

This morning, after calling the doctor to see if I should go in, I went to Emergency to have a strep test. While we were in Pittsburgh, my nephew was diagnosed with it, so after a 1.5 day, worsening sore throat I needed to have it checked out. Thankfully it's Saturday and rainy: Colin was free to watch the kids and the ER was very empty. I only paid for 1 hr of parking. Nice.

As a bonus for having strep for the first time in decades, I'm taking my first Z-pack. So that's kinda cool.

Right now I'm going between freezing and feeling really hot. It's so strange to have a legitimate illness. It's been a while.

Please pray that no one else gets it! I'll be home today and tomorrow to avoid infecting anyone else. Things could spread fast in our community....

Considering Homeschooling? Here's a Good Read.

Over our vacation in Pittsburgh (post to follow!), I read a book called Homeschooling Methods: Seasoned Advice on Learning Styles edited by Paul and Gena Suarez.

I highly recommend it if you're thinking about homeschooling and want an overview of several different methods. The book is written for Christian parents - which I learned only after requesting it from the library. Each chapter has two to three articles by proponents of the style, describing the method and its advantages. The reader is left to compare the styles and decide what's best for his/her family. The only thing missing from the book is a final summary chapter written by the editors. It ends too abruptly for my taste.

I got some new ideas from a few of the styles that I'll mix together throughout this year. I think we may morph into an eclectic homeschooling family. But time will tell. School starts a week from Tuesday! Though, as many a homeschooler will tell you, if you have kids at home, you're homeschooling.

August 20, 2009

Old Sturbridge Village

Monday morning we met up with the Grosh family for a morning at Old Sturbridge Village. It had been quite a while since we'd gotten to see them. Tom was on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship my first two years at CMU. I'm eternally grateful for the time the Groshes spent with us as college students, their love for God, and their example to us. They have four girls: 9, 9, 4, and 1. (The two 9s are not a mistake, they're twins.) Brian and Lily, the youngest, were born only 6 days apart! Elizabeth LOVED being able to pal around with the older girls and I enjoyed catching up with Tom and Theresa and being with their wonderful kids.

A straw bed.
They don't make 'em like they used to...thank goodness!

Hula Hooping in the 1800s?

No, it's a trundle hoop!
You got it, Elizabeth.
Learning about how goods were weighed out at the store.

Jumping rope outside the school house.

Eden and Brian.
She stayed close to Brian and me and invited us to her house!

The Potter

One of two calves, born just a couple weeks ago.
Brian kept barking at it.
He's never seen anything else on a leash!

The sheep, that baa quite loudly.

Theresa and Eden waiting for lunch.

Ellen and Elizabeth fishing!

Hayley was there too.

Lily in action!

Ellen, Hayley, and Elizabeth exploring the buildings.

Lunch break!

This is the only picture I have of Tom;
he's shrouded in dust there to the left of the horses.

The girls: Hayley, Elizabeth, Ellen, Eden.
(And Theresa behind the pole. Sorry Theresa!)

Time to pump some water!

And last but not least, to try on some period dresses
and curtsy.

Groshes, thanks for suggesting that we meet you at OSV. It was great to see you!

August 19, 2009

Rough and Tumble

Brian looks like this tonight:

He fell yesterday and cracked the left side of his forehead on the asphalt and did the same again this afternoon in the center of his head. He really wants to run, but his upper body gets going a little faster than his chubby legs can carry him ... and over he goes!

As you can see, he's taking it pretty hard! What are we going to do with this boy?!

(Grandparents, this post is mostly for you, so you're not too alarmed when you see him this weekend!)

August 18, 2009

It's hot, but ladies...

... let's be thankful that we live in the age of the washing machine.

(These women were doing a clothes washing demonstration yesterday at Old Sturbridge Village in heat almost like today's. They were earning their pay for sure!)

August 17, 2009

Brian: a video profile

Name: Brian Thomas
Sex: Male
Age: 14 months old
Likes: laughing, splashing, playing ball, riding on cars

August 16, 2009

School Days

The school year is quickly approaching. On September 8, Elizabeth will begin Kindergarten. It will be different than I ever imagined, because we will be schooling at home. There will be no big send off, no bus ride, no new teacher, no new friends to get to know. But it will still be a big day. Our baby girl will be starting school! And I will be her teacher!!

Naturally, my head is spinning with ideas and excitement - and fear, sometimes ... no, a lot of the time! - about the year ahead. I'm a detailed oriented person, which is great for thinking about what a school day might look like, but not for planning overarching goals and things. I'm working on it and am grateful for Rebecca Rupp's book Home Learning Year by Year that will help to keep me on track. Though, primarily, I'm thankful that in my moments of internal panic, God reminds me that He is with me and will be with us day by day. We're confident in our decision, but it does mean work and facing inadequacies. You know how you can think yourself crazy, though, when you're feeling tired and overwhelmed?

Elizabeth and I took a trip to Staples (thanks to a tip from Libby!) to get some materials for school. I always loved the new crayons, pencils, paper, etc. that signaled the beginning of a school year. Of course, by the end of September the crayons were broken, the notebooks were bent at the edges, and the pencils had been chewed. (Yes, I chewed my pencils.) But the new beginning always thrilled me. New beginnings still have that effect on me.

I wanted to get E some "fat" pencils like what we used in elementary school. Ours I recall being blue. After looking around, I hadn't seen any. But then, there they were, beaming at me from the wall of writing implements.

The icing on the cake is that they're my favorite brand of pencil. If you're not familiar with the beauty of writing with a Ticonderoga pencil, you haven't lived. (I exaggerate, but I do love their pencils!)

We also picked up some lined "learning to write" paper, sight word flash cards, (I was going to make my own, but for $4 I was willing to buy them when I saw them), a large wipe off calendar, a math work book, and a little journal for E. She was enthusiastic about getting school supplies. Of course, I wanted to buy way more; they had lots of cool stickers, workbooks, folders, etc. I'm glad my husband is in graduate school and I had to control myself. I'd rather spend that money on memberships to museums and zoos anyway! In fact, I'm thinking about joining the Pittsburgh Zoo when we're back visiting, especially if they have reciprocity with zoos here.

As you can see, my thoughts are all over the place. But I've been reminded several times that we'll only have to take it one day at a time. Things I'm thankful for:
  • Other friends who are homeschooling, novice and experienced, to whom I can direct question and from whom I can steal ideas!
  • Colin and I are of one mind in this decision and that we have different areas of expertise.
  • Elizabeth is excited about homeschooling!
  • Parents who are supportive, so we don't have to try to convince them. (Thanks, you four!)
  • Where we live: there are so many kids, Elizabeth will have lots of neighbors to play with after school hours.
  • The Holy Spirit, for keeping me from freaking out and getting me into this situation in the first place. :)
Any pearls of wisdom you experienced homeschoolers would like to share as we embark on the journey? Please feel free to comment.

August 15, 2009

Grandma and Grandpa

Last weekend my folks came for a quick visit, arriving Friday morning and departing Sunday evening. We had a great time visiting with them! Friday we left Colin home and headed up to Salem Willows Park after Brian's morning nap. If you're in the area and you can go up for a visit, I highly recommend it. There are rides for little ones, arcades for older kids and adults, yummy treats, and beaches. It's delightful and beautiful! I didn't get any great pictures this time, but it was as beautiful as I'd remembered it.

That evening we took advantage of "Hot Grill Night" here at our complex. The Executive Committee gets the coals going and anyone can bring their meat and cook it. This happens every Friday night Memorial Day to Labor Day. We enjoyed introducing neighbors to my parents. And I have no pictures of said interactions.

Saturday we went to the Museum of Science, parking at the Cambridge Side Galleria. The hotel where my parents were staying was in between, so we got to swing by and see it too. The Hotel Marlowe, an interesting place with lots of leopard print and the Declaration of Independence on the room curtains. They "Hotwired" it and got a great deal for Boston in August. The fountain below is in front of the Galleria. The video is in the kids discovery center at the museum. (Anyone know how to make it rotate? It's rotated in our photo program, but uploads sideways.)

In the afternoon, my dad, Elizabeth, and I went for a swim at a free local pool . That evening we went to "the moose restaurant," Bugaboo Creek Steak House. They have a lot of animal heads and antlers on the walls, like a lodge. But some of them are fake and animated, talking now and then throughout the evening. There's also a talking pine tree when you first walk in. It's a funny place, and the food is good. (Except the steak tips. they're terrible.) And if you have a birthday meal there, apparently a large moose puppet sings happy birthday to you (last photo.)

No pictures from Sunday: church, lunch, took it easy while Brian napped. Am I forgetting anything?

Thanks for visiting mommy and papa/grandma and grandpa! We're so glad that you came and that we share these memories together.

August 12, 2009

Back to Joshua

A while ago, I posted some of my thoughts on my recent study of the book of Joshua. I left you hanging with the truth that God is holy. I have not contemplated it enough myself, but the Lord is gently working this reality into my thinking. For that, I am grateful. And I apologize for taking so long to follow up, this post has been long in the making.

Some comments on how I've been studying Joshua: I've now finished reading through Joshua section by section using the commentary I purchased by James Mongtomery Boice. It is excellent. (Made only slightly more excellent by the fact that I learned today that he grew up in McKeesport, outside Pittsburgh! But I digress....)

So this has been my method of study:
  1. read through a book of the Bible chapter by chapter
  2. read through it again with a companion commentary
  3. work through a Bible study on the book
Currently I'm into #3, using a Life Changes study guide. It's got lots of questions, plenty of additional questions you can read/think about, definitions of Bible terms, and many helpful Bible study tips throughout. I've gotten through a few studies and appreciate it's thoroughness and desire to lead the reader to understand the text, learn about who God is, and apply the Word to life.

Now, where did we leave off last?

Ah yes, God is holy.

He is holy, holy, holy. And this is serious business. This holy God calls people to Himself, guides them, protects them, and keeps them. God made promises to Abraham that he kept and fulfilled in the days of Joshua. But in the process, He also called them to obedience. This holy God cannot be in the presence of sin, He is too holy.

This brings me to the second major thing that has been impressed upon my heart, soul, and mind through the book of Joshua: God's Word is of utmost importance to the believer. The "B-I-B-L-E" really does need to be "the book for me." All of life needs to be lived out of and in response to the Word of God. I don't understand how to do this, but I think that's because I make it too complicated. I want to live on some ethereal, super-spiritual plane that doesn't have much connection with reality. The bottom line is that to live by faith, the Christian must live in obedience to to Word of God. Through the hearing and doing of the Word, we are transformed.

My shortcomings with respect to the Scriptures are many. I don't think about them or treat them as living and active (Hebrews 4:12), therefore I rarely go to the Bible when life is good, to praise and thank God, or when life is tough, to seek His counsel and lean on Him. I don't meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:1-2), therefore when I do find myself in need of wisdom, there's not much Scripture in my heart for the Spirit to use to instruct, comfort, guide or give me hope. I often let my mind wander during Scripture readings on Sunday mornings ... or give a silent cheer in my heart when the passage is short. (Seriously people, if there is a woman in need of God's grace, I'm she!)

Being in Joshua has encouraged me not to take The Good Book so lightly. In conjunction with teaching about 10 Commandments to Kindergarten and First Graders this summer, I'm so very thankful to have been forced to think about the place of God's Word in my life, and in the life of all believers. When Jesus sums up the commandments, He puts them in two categories, and I'll leave you with these verses on which to meditate until next time.
Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; love your neighbor as yourself." - Matthew 22:37-39
Today, by God's grace, because of the blood of Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, may you too find some time to get into God's Word and consider its place in your life. And may you be surprised at the good that comes of it!

August 6, 2009

Stone Zoo: two thumbs up!

There are two zoos in the Boston area. One is south of the city and the other north. Many find it quite strange that such a big and popular tourist city doesn't have a large, impressive zoo. But, so it is. The two zoos are quite different from one another in size, collection, and landscape. And after visiting the Stone Zoo again yesterday, I've decided it is definitely my favorite of the two. Here's why:

It's very wooded - plenty of shade
It's small - easy for kids to walk the whole place.
Some shots of the landscaping.

They don't have the "big" animals, but they do have an interesting collection.
Below: mini-goats, wolves, bald eagle, porcupines, flamingos, owl.
Can you spot the baby flamingos?

Now they have some new exhibits: bears and monkeys.
I only got pictures of the bears, but how cool?!
They walk up right in front of you;
and they're only three, so they're very playful.

You can also pack up a lunch or snacks
and find a table in the shade to dine and enjoy the surrounding wildlife.
These tables overlook a small pond, home to ducks and turtles.
(And the monkeys are swinging off to the right!)

The last plus for us, is that from where we live it's closer than the Frankin Park Zoo and has an adequate parking lot.

As a mom of small children, Stone Zoo gets my stamp of approval for it's walk-ability, beauty, and interesting, fun animal variety. Of course, there's more to it than I've posted here, so you'll have to go check it out for yourself! (If you live in the area and have a library card, check to see if your local library has discounted passes.)