February 25, 2010

"Picksburgh in Pitchers"

On our way!

The snow!

Oscar Michael!

This is the Great Gram (in from Omaha, NE)
with six of her seven great grandchildren.

There would have been more, but I managed to delete all of my Pittsburgh pictures while trying to delete older pictures from my full memory card. Colin saved the day by telling me they could be recovered, if I didn't use the card until I got home. As you can see, he recovered them! We had a great time with the other grandparents too, but I couldn't photo document our trips to swim, sled, Chuck E Cheese, and Chick Fil A!

February 13, 2010

In His Presence, There Is Fullness of Joy

Today we fly out to Pittsburgh, hurray!

But quickly I've turned to worry to "comfort" me: Brian woke up at 3:30 & this will mess with his nap schedule; I currently have a seat assignment and Elizabeth does not; I have a painful lump on my forehead from hitting it yesterday on the playground. So, as I sat complaining to the Lord this morning, He reminded me to be thankful, that He is in control, and that in His presence there is fullness of joy. That line is a different translation of part of verse 11 below. Worry was not actually comforting me (surprise, surprise!), worry only works me into a tizzy. But the Word, God Himself, now HE comforts, convicts, forgives, sustains, encourages, protects, loves, and gives us all that we need in each moment.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus." That is what this tired mommy needed this morning and will endeavor, with the Spirit's help, to remember in those less-than-they-way-I-want-it-to-be moments throughout the day!

This psalm is so beautiful in the ears of a believer that I will let it speak for itself.

Psalm 16

A miktam of David.

1 Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.

2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing."

3 As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.

4 The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.

5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.

8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,

10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

February 11, 2010

Elizabeth's Educational Endeavors

Today Elizabeth and I started working on an alphabet collage of sorts, an idea that came to me last week that I've been very excited about doing. Thankfully, E found it quite fun, searching for letters in magazines and pasting them onto the paper. She took capital and I the lower case; but we helped each other as needed. J was particularly challenging to find in larger than 10 or 12pt font. We made it half way through and will finish up tomorrow. Here are a couple of pictures of the work in progress.

This week we began reading picture books about Presidents' Day, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. Yesterday when E was playing independently, she built the White House you see below. The president (a stuffed lion, chosen because his mane reminded her of Washington's hair style) is sleeping inside. The flag was a project earlier in the year, but she had me write on it: Presidents' Day is coming. Please meet the President in Washington, D.C. at the White House. You may also note her medieval secret service men, guarding the place.

This morning, she made soup while we played outside. It had snow, twigs, leaves, and pine needles, which were, of course, different kinds of herbs and spices. She was quite into this self-created activity, stirring and mashing it with a push-handle from one of the cars on the playground. It was almost like she was hosting her own cooking show.

"Cuddling" with Dad

Nothing like a nice, calm snuggle with your kids after a long, hard day at work.

February 9, 2010

Psalm 1

Picture of Tree - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.com

1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

This is what comes to mind when I do the 'tree pose' on WiiFit yoga. How merciful is the Lord to even call His people righteous and instill in us the desire to know and meditate on His Word?! "Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song."

February 6, 2010

Brian en vivo!

This post is ALL videos!!!

Look out, he might getcha!

He loves trains, but trains can be frustrating!

He's gotten really good with a spoon.

He's learning to pray at meals.

He jumps.

He can pretend sleep.

His dance moves can be beat!
(Well, maybe they can,
but not at our house.)

Seeing the older videos makes me want to bring back the shag. No haircuts for Brian for a while!

February 5, 2010

What's It Worth to You?

I was thinking this morning about how wonderful it is to have a the internet and blogger to use for free! Seriously, it's so cool. I know that advertisers do their job to allow us the privilege. But it got me to wondering how much I'd be willing to pay (per month) to maintain a blog, if free were no longer an option.

I haven't settled on what I think is reasonable, yet. What do you think? Cast your vote in the poll on the right! If you're on facebook and want to cast a vote go here: http://pressingonwithgreathope.blogspot.com

Times Together

This week Brian has been sick: cough, fever, runny nose, etc. He seems to be improving slightly day by day, but we've been inside most of the week. Yesterday we had to go to the library, and with his joyous noises in the car as he looked out the window, you would have thought he was a newly released prisoner!

The kids have been making the most of the inside time.


They exchanged the truth of God for a lie,
and worshiped and served created things
rather than the Creator—
who is forever praised.
Romans 1:25

Two days ago, while thinking about homeschooling during my evening dish washing, I was reflecting on recent moments of being fearful of Colin dying, because I'd have to work and it would mean the end of homeschooling. Not only would the kids and I have to grieve the loss of our favorite man, we'd also have to adjust to being in school for the first time. (Clearly the former would be the most painful, but this is what has gone through my mind recently.)

Then, the verse above came to mind. In those moments of fear, I move from being grateful to God for giving us this precious year, to worshiping the gift - teaching my kids at home. How subtle the idolatry is, worshiping homeschooling instead of the God who's allowing me to homeschool during this season. Close call in my heart of hearts. Spirit, thank you for snapping me out of it! (I'm sure I'll need to be rescued from myself again sometime soon, so please stay close!) Our pastor once defined idolatry as taking a good thing and making it the ultimate thing. This definition is so perfect.

Are there wonderful gifts God has given you that you are making "ultimate things"? Do you find idolatry sneaking in when you're not expecting it? How does the Spirit whisper to you in temptation, fear, and doubt? How have you been encouraged by the presence of God lately, (perhaps even in your sin)?

We are fickle; God is faithful. We waffle; God is constant. We sin & repent; God forgives. His love endures forever.

Later in Romans, Paul says this:
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-25
Thank you, Lord, for sending our Rescuer!*

*If you're unfamiliar with God's rescue plan, please ask. I'd love to share it with you.

February 3, 2010

Martina's Back!

Martina and her family returned from Chile this past weekend, after being gone for over a month!

Now our playgroup is back to normal: Martina, Clara, Sonya, Bjarney, and Elizabeth. Brian has lots of big sisters!

February 2, 2010

My Favorite Trio

Dad's been busy these days, but working at home allows him some fun times with the kids between work sessions. Elizabeth and Colin have (almost) nightly Wii gaming time together and Brian tries to squeeze in a cuddle with dad whenever he can, even if dad's just taking a bathroom break. These kids love their daddy!

Thanks for being available, Colin, even during such an intense time! You have no idea what a delight it is for me to see you love the kids and the kids love you back. (Your Wife loves you too!)

The Half-Way Point, Part 2

If you read the previous post, you know a little about the structure of our first half year of homeschooling. The short summary of how I feel about it: I LOVE HOMESCHOOLING!* Never does a day go by that I am not happy that Elizabeth is home this year. Truly the Lord brought us to this place. If you've been following my story for a while, you know that I never imagined that homeschooling would be part of my life. (I taught public school for two years, for goodness sake!) And here we are and here my desires are being fulfilled in ways I never expected!

So, that is the short story - that I'm glad we're homeschoooling. We will continue for the near future, and I can (sometimes!) imagine sticking it out for the long haul. The long story is that, while I'm excited about it, there are still doubts, fears, and complications that come up for me and every homeschooling parent. I think the most important thing that needs to happen before beginning is to know why you're homeschooling. The reasons will look different for different families, but the underlying commitment must be there. Without solid ground to build on, you'll quickly crumble when the going gets tough, you are filled with doubts, or you begin to compare your life to those around you who have made the choice to send their kids to school. Choosing to homeschool means you are saying 'no' to some things, but the same can be said about sending your children to school. For every 'yes' we give in this life, we're also implying 1,000 'nos" and vice-versa, right?

My advice: Think through your child's education, research the options, discuss with your spouse, pray together, and make a decision for the year. (Yes, for the year, you don't have to homeschool K-12 just because you start in Kindergarten. Nor do your kids have to be in school all 13 years, they could spend some time in the middle at home. And further, your decision could be different for each child. You know them best!)

There have been many unforeseen and delightful benefits of homeschooling:
  • The kids still get to be together and deepen their relationship, even though they're four years apart.
  • Elizabeth is learning what it takes to make a house run, e.g. the laundry doesn't 'magically' get done while she's at school.
  • I know what she's learning and can draw connections wherever we are (store, library, car, etc.)
  • Elizabeth can work at her pace, whatever that pace is. And together we can finish a project in one day or eight, whatever is needed.
  • Colin and I talk a lot about our kids' educations and dream about what and how we'd love to teach them, trips we'd like to take together, the flexibility that homeschooling offers. These conversations energize both of us and strengthen our marriage.

There are "I don't knows" that sometimes trip me up:
  • I don't really know how E is doing in comparison to other kids her age, which is (truthfully) good for me, because I tend too much toward comparison and competition. But it also ushers in some doubts; how do I know she's "on track." That leads me to a more philosophical question: What is the point of education? Do we simply want to make sure that all kids of a certain age can do exactly the same thing? Or do we want to instill a love of learning and equip kids to explore and discover for their own sakes? When I remember that one of our primary family goals is to maintain Elizabeth's interest in learning and to instill in her the confidence that she can learn ... then those doubts are quieted, and I'm refocused till the next doubt cycle.
  • I don't know what my life would be like if E were in school. I do imagine that my house would be much cleaner (I could get to those things during Brian's nap times) and I'd be in better shape. But given our motivations to homeschool in conjunction with the unexpected benefits we've experienced, those things are not as important ... once I get my mind refocused on our goals.
  • I don't always know how I'm supposed to feel or act when I'm with friends who are talking about what's going on at school. Sometimes I'm jealous that I can't participate or don't have faces for the names they're mentioning. Other times I'm excited for them about what their kids are doing or learning. It reminds me of the Scripture that says to rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Just looked it up, Romans 12:15) Throughout all of life we'll find ourselves in places where other people are doing things we can't or aren't doing, other people's kids will advance in arenas our children are not gifted, friends and family will endure trials at different times, and all of these things give us opportunity to practice loving our neighbor by delighting or sorrowing along with them. I am not always very good at this (I tend toward judgmentalism, jealousy, and discontentment too easily), but God is working on me and I'm thankful for it!
The best advice I got or read before beginning, that I'd like to pass along to you:
  1. Have concrete reasons why you're homeschooling. Then you're ready to give a simple, non-judgmental answer when people (or you children!) ask about your choice. And, then you've got your base-line convictions to fall back on during a bad day or bad week.
  2. Don't go crazy over-buying materials and over-planning, you're likely to end up having spent too much and stressing out yourself and your family. It's always easy to add more later.
  3. If you try something and after a while it's not really working, let it go and try something different. Keep an eye on how your child is responding to your methods, the curriculum, the topics, etc. Is reading frustrating every, single, day? You may be pushing too hard. Is your child bored by worksheets? Bust out some beans and pennies to practice math.
  4. Get to know your children's librarian and take advantage of their knowledge!

I'm annoyed with the lack of structure in this post, but I also want to publish it so I can move on to other posts. So, here it is, in all of it's disorganized glory! Have a wonderful Tuesday.

*I have known homeschoolers who can leave a person feeling like a terrible parent or terrible Christian if you're not homeschooling your kids. Please know that I NEVER want to leave you feeling that way. I share my experiences because I do love what I see happening in our family this year. But I am sure that God led us on this path and that He will also guide the steps of your family; for some that will lead to homeschool, for others private school, for others public school.