Monday, September 26, 2011

reap to sow

Every time I come across a great book, my first instinct (after diving into its pages) is to share it with others. It's the beauty of turning the solitary into something shared in community.

So when I came across, "The Power of a Positive Mom," by Karol Ladd,* I thought it would be fun to share it here. Around that same time, Courtney issued an invitation on her blog to share an book or experiences of working on faith and motherhood and her to join me on hosting this discussion. (So excited to partnering with her!)

Beginning October 10, we'll take two chapters each week and share what spoke to our hearts and we hope you will join us in this discussion (more details on those particulars to follow). That is my first hope ... to deepen the connections within the online community. My second hope is that God will use this book to help strengthen us on this journey of motherhood and I love how Karol turns us to His Word to strengthen hers.

Which leads me to the name of this coming together to share and discuss: Reap to Sow.

Usually, we see this written the other way around...the Scriptures I searched out also have it in order of sowing to reaping. Yet, the concept of reaping, then sowing, stuck with me.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I cannot sow what has not been reaped. To sow into my children, I first need to reap, glean, drink from the Fount, the principles, fruits and LOVE from the Lord. Within His Word, in praying to Him and the wisdom He bestowed upon others, I can reap a harvest, be fed, then feed.

If you would like to join us, please find a copy of the book and dig in. Check back here the week of October 3 for details on how we will share what we glean from the pages.

(*see Disclosure page on the right side bar)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

homeschool journal

what we did:
  • began our look at Australian animals in earnest - up this week was the kangaroo, koala and platypus
  • took some time out on Thursday to enjoy the sunshine and reconnect with nature
  • Brianna went square-dancing with her dad - nothing like combining fine arts and geometry all into one lesson ;)

if there is a mud puddle, a boy will find it and run through it...several times (he also was *this close* to tasting it
 On pretending to be koalas...

To accompany our study of animals, I create a simple table in Word and printed out a number of blank copies. After we study the animals, Brie and Reese fill it out and add it to their binders. Lately, the three biggies have been asking every day what animal we're going to study next and are disappointed on the days (even the weekend!) when we don't do a science unit. 
 so excited about:
  • finding this website after reading the book "Kersplaypus"* - love that many of their books have a unit study style teacher's activities. This is an excellent resource, especially for elementary school-aged children - just click on a the picture of the book's front cover and you'll be directed to page with more info on the book, plus teacher's activities, related website links and more. 
other links if you're studying animals with your children:

I'm currently reading "Boys Should be Boys"* by Meg Meeker, M.D. Growing up with sisters and more girl than boy cousins, the world of boys (up until having three of my own) was a foreign land to me. So I'm still learning that much of what my sons do and what they are attracted to are things which God naturally predispositioned them to enjoy.

Case in point: This week Luke did an admirable impression of a machine gun this week although a) he's never heard one in "real" life and b) I don't think he's watched anything with that type of weaponry. And Ben, at a much younger age, was imitating airplane sounds while making a toy plane fly.  Seriously. Brianna never, ever made those sounds as a little girl, nor does she seem inclined to attempt it now. And if I tried to make those same sounds, I would fail miserably at it. Which is probably a good thing, since I'm a girl and all. ;)

And the whole gun thing itself and turning AN-Y-THING into a weapon completely stymied me. Thankfully, I'm learning, by experience, and through this book, that this is a good thing. In the book, Dr. Meeker shares that boys play at war, in part, to shape their moral code and need to act out good overcoming evil.(She does distinguish, though, that there is a big difference between boy playing at war in their imaginations and living that out through video games.)

So, as much as my mother/girl self still cringes at the idea of shooting and killing, I am able to breathe a little easier now and not worry that all this war play means my boys are destined to be men of violence and destruction. I just need to trust that God created them as He wanted and trust that He will guide my husband and I in how to train them in the way He wants them to go.

Linking up with:
The Homeschool Mother's Journal

(*see Disclosure page on the right side bar)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

an apple-sized bit(e) of history

 On a recent trip to the library, Brianna picked out a few picture books; among them was "Golden Delicious, A Cinderella Apple Story" by Anna Egan Smucker.* 

Judging the book by the cover (and title), I thought this was going to be a twist on the classic Cinderella story, but somehow featuring an apple. Turns out, it was. Sort of.

We discovered this story is steeped in reality and chronicles how the "Golden Delicious" apples came to be and it turns out the companies which brought these apples to market still exists today. (You can check out the Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co. here.)

Before reading this story, I stayed away from eating the red "delicious" brand of apples, as I didn't find they lived up to their name. I'm more inclined to enjoy the sour notes of a Mac, Empire or Granny Smith. So I was a little skeptical about whether I would like the Golden Delicious. But after reading this appley tale, it was hard to resist placing them at the top of our shopping list. In fact, the very next day I purchased a few and am happy to day they lived up to their fame. Perhaps their flavor was partly enhanced by knowing the generation of apples we bit into were direct descendants of the first Golden Delicious tree in West Virgina (the book explains more about the ins and outs of apple cultivation).

Last year, I took the kids apple picking for the very first time and hope to repeat the experience again this year. If you've never picked your own fruit and want to find a place near you that allows this very locavore experience, check out

(*see Disclosure page on the right side bar)

Monday, September 19, 2011

so grateful...

...for the rain which fell today. Holding us inside, renewing evening togetherness which summer's late hours tend to disrupt.

Though I love the longer (and usually sunnier days) of summer, they create a new challenge as our children have grown older - exactly when to call them in to bedtime. Dave and I both recall the agony of having to go to bed while the sun, and our friends, stayed out to play. So it is sometimes with reluctance that we call our kidlets into bed while their friends are still out, enjoying the romance and fun only warm summer evenings can bring.

Yet in these days, I miss the togetherness which comes with fall and winter. Evenings made for reading together, sometimes watching a movie or playing a game of "monster" which is a particular favorite of our gang.

Tonight was a taste of what will become the norm in the hibernation months. Dave was at a council meeting, but the kids and I played a few rounds of "What Time is it Mr. Wolf," and "Hide-and-Seek," read some books and wrapped it up with usual bedtime routine of prayers and attending to personal hygiene. Not that the evening was completely without tears. There were plenty of those. And by the end I was ready for the quiet stillness and calm that comes when four little bodies are tucked soundly in their beds. But I am profoundly grateful for this evening and I thank You, Lord, for the gift you brought our way. And may I remember this come March when cabin fever is at its pitch.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

homeschool journal

this week we:
fail of the week:
  • Since their Dad is running for office as a councilperson in the ward of our city, the kids will get a personal look at US politics and government. As part of campaigning, I was going to have the kids help make shirts for themselves using the freezer paper method. I had each of them help design the logo for the front of the shirt, but after it took 2 hours to cut and paint the designs for my husband's shirt (getting arm and finger cramps in my arms and fingers in the process), I decided it might be going a little overboard to do the same for four additional shirts. So I may resort to the iron-on transfer method, which is as exciting, but takes a lot less time!
moments to savor:
  • Luke putting his arm around Ben at "snack time" - a time we all look forward to during the school mornings!
  • teaching Brie and Reese how to play "Mastermind" while Luke and Ben went with Dave on some errands
  • the three biggies having a sleepover in Brie's room and trooping downstairs in "born order" the next morning while holding the backs of one another's shirts - a happy gang knitted closer together by the adventure of an in-home sleepover
  • working with Dave on the details of his campaign kickoff
seeking homeschooling advice on:Language Arts curriculum - I purchased Learning Language Arts through Literature this year because it is one of the few comprehensive LA curriculum's that I've come across. After piece-mealing everything last year, I wanted something that told me what to do day-by-day. And LLATL does that which is wonderful. But I feel like it might be a little too easy (I need to supplement the grammar and spelling portions because LLATL doesn't go deep enough) or maybe I'm looking for something that involves fun projects based on books we read. Any suggestions out there on language arts curriculum's which lay out your lessons and are comprehensive? Or good writing/reading programs which also spell out the lessons and incorporate fun, hands-on or exploratory projects?

linking up with:

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

gift idea geared for a guy

Today is my Dad's birthday and every year I struggle to come up with creative, personal ideas for him (and my husband and other male family members when gift-giving is called for). After some serious thinking and praying here's what I came up with (we celebrated Sunday, so this won't be giving away any surprises ;)):

I call it the "Ticket to Ride" gift package (and could be adapted for any sport or theme).

Gift package details:
  • 1 container of my special trail mix recipe contained in a cracker jar I found at Target
  • 1 personalized white t-shirt intended for use on a bike ride*
  • 1 gift card to tie up the theme - the gift card is an invitation for my Dad to go on a bike ride with my husband and I
  • 1 galvanized metal container (garage sale find!) - I considered adding a ribbon or burlap wrapping but decided it was more appealing to have the contents visible

* To make the T-shirt, I bought a plain white one (at Target) and designed the message using MS Word. The bike graphic was from MS Office Clip Art. I printed the design on freezer paper (available online or in stores), and used an exacto knife to cut out the image (this was an idea I've come across on several blogs including Made and Finding My Feet). After applying the freezer paper to the T-shirt, I filled in the design with black fabric paint, let it dry, ironed the image to set the paint and voila!

Find some more great ideas at Kojo Designs Fun Friday Finds.

Monday, September 12, 2011

giveaway results & scripture snapshot

The winner of the giveaway for a copy of "The Power of a Positive Mom" by Karol Ladd is:
Michelle said...
My kids are too young for team sports yet but I think a lot of the same principles can be used in my everday. This looks like a great book.
For everyone else...If you are interested in participating in the book discussion Courtney and I are starting on October 10 for this book, visit this link (and keep checking back here for upcoming details on the discussion - we finally have a name for this thing!)

 One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 139 - one of my sisters showed it to me when I was in the early days of my faith and pregnant with Brianna (our first child). After our mid-term ultrasound, one of the results showed an abnormality that might be an indication of a bigger problem. Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing.

Though the knitting together of us is probably among the most recognizable part of this Scripture, I wanted to share another verse which is equally dear to me:

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. (Psalm 139: 17-18a)

I'm linking up with the Scripture and a Snapshot @ Katie Lloyd Photography

Friday, September 9, 2011

this week in homeschooling

***Remember to enter the giveaway for a copy of "The Power of a Positive Mom." Go to this post to enter (giveaway details at the bottom).***
 highlights of the week:
  • the kids were excited to start back at their Missionettes and Royal Rangers classes
  • Dave fixed the CD player in our car which had been broken for years (he discovered a penny in there which is something we had suspected happened. Hmmm...I wonder how that got in there?)
  • going to our favorite county fair on Labor Day
Ben LOVED the carosel

Jack (my nephew) gave this year's fair a thumb's up

Ben and Luke practicing their driving skills

Reese enjoying the "yo-yo" swing ride
  what we worked on:
  • reading our breakfast devotionals from the book, "10-minute Timeouts for You and Your Kids"
  • our 3D large-scale map of Australia (see this post for how we did a similar one on Mexico)
  • math drills
  • finished listening to "Where the Red Fern Grows" and started listening to "Bless This Mouse"
    our map of Australia
what I need to work on:
  • more patience and grace
behind the bullets:
Last year I tried doing devotions after breakfast and before we started school, but sometimes it was hard to get the kids to settle down and listen- especially with Ben and Luke being in the very wiggley phase.. This year I decided to try it while we eat breakfast and it's worked much better. I also feel more relaxed during devotionals because I'm not watching the clock as much and worrying about devotions pushing back the rest of our school time.

I love doing these large-scale maps with the kids - at least the painting part. I ended up shooing them away from the table for the gluing portion after the temptation to play with the glue and rip the tissue paper became too much for the three biggies (Ben was napping). I also discovered thin tissue paper doesn't stand up to the watery glue solution - if you try this, use a thicker piece of tissue paper.

We started Horizons math for the first time this year and with it comes drill work - something I failed to recognize the importance of in the past two years. I've made a couple of games out of it to keep the interest up for Brie and am grateful that already it's helping along her addition and multiplication skills.

I put a lot of pressure on myself during the school year - making sure we get a good amount of school work and hours in each day. Which causes me to have shorter patience with occurrences that come with the territory of having young children - like multiple spills of water and cereal a day and purposeful tipping over of chairs. I think I need to pray more earnestly that I would be able to rest in God's grace so that I may extend that and a whole lot more patience to my children.

Linking up with: The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

the power of a positive mom

 ***Remember to enter the giveaway for a copy of "The Power of a Positive Mom." Go to this post to enter (giveaway details at the bottom).***

There is something I've noticed about being a mom - my days are often filled with correction. This probably should not be such a surprise as the Bible points out this is part of our job description as parents. But I often find myself correcting from a negative standpoint..."don't do that," "stop that," "you can't [fill in the blank]," and the short, simple and well-worn, "no" "no" and "no."

Spending so much time in the negative depletes my ability to focus on the positive. So when I stumbled upon Karol Ladd's, "The Power of a Positive Mom," I knew it was a book I wanted to add to my reading list. As I began to read through the chapters, I appreciated Karol's format of ending each chapter with Scripture to look up and a way to put the principle she presented into action.

And it dawned on me this would be heaps more fun with to do with friends.

So beginning on Monday, October 10, Courtney from A Work in Progress and I will be hosting a book discussion on "The Power of a Positive Mom." We'll continue to share more details over the coming weeks about how the discussion will work.

And one final thought...
As I read Courtney's post from yesterday, I realized that was the image I wanted to encourage me through motherhood...helping my children learn the rules of the game, equipping them with the skills needed to play and then cheering them on from the sidelines, letting them make mistakes, work through challenges and experience the victory that comes by following God's Word.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

an introduction and a giveway

Hi everyone!
I'd like to introduce you to Courtney from A Work in Progress. I found Courtney's site a few months back after reading a post she did for (in)courage. Courtney and I are teaming up to do an online book discussion through our blogs on the book, "The Power of a Positive Mom" by Karol Ladd.

I'll share more on that tomorrow and throughout the week, but for now I want to save this space for Courtney and a piece she wrote for me to post and it ties into the theme of this book. After being encouraged by her words, check out the details of the giveaway. I hope you will enter and come back to learn more about what we'll be doing with the book in the upcoming months.

And now...Courtney...

A Soccer Mom Experience

He didn’t hesitate; he jumped right in to play soccer with the big boys. He ran, chased the ball, and kicked. He was part of the amoeba-like mass, until suddenly, he broke free and made a beeline for the goal. He had his eye on the prize and he guided the ball straight toward the net. The kids yelled, and his teammates called his name . . . but it wasn’t to cheer him on. He was going the wrong way.

They hollered and exclaimed, but he did not stop. He scored, and the other team cheered. As my son looked around, another boy came up behind him and pushed him hard. “What are you doing?!?” he said with disgust. My boy didn’t answer. He hung his head as he realized his mistake.

The coach rushed over. This was only a summer camp practice—no need to take it so seriously. He gave my son a high five, “You scored a goal!” He told the other campers to relax. My boy was the youngest, after all, and the only one who hadn’t played soccer before. The players dispersed. My son stood still.

I wanted to run out on the field, swoop him up, and head for home.

But I didn’t. I just watched and cringed. I watched and felt sick, because I wanted to protect him from the uncomfortable emotions of shame and disappointment, but I knew that I shouldn’t. I knew that I couldn’t. I knew that I would do more harm, cause greater embarrassment, if I interfered.

So I stood still. I gave him a big smile and a thumbs up when he looked my way. I said, “You can do it!” as he ran back to the game. I said that for him and for me. He can try again and I can let go. I don’t like it, but I know that this mothering job sometimes requires that I let my children learn through experience. I cannot always shelter them, stop mistakes, or prevent heartache, but I can trust that the ultimate outcome will be okay.

How? I have to trust God more. It has been fairly easy for me to trust God with my life. But trusting him with my children? That requires more. That has forced me to dig deeper and search harder. That leaves me clinging to verses like,

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33, and

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22.

The funny thing is, I didn’t go looking for those verses or think about the depth of my faith until I saw my son experience such a minor hurt on the soccer field. It was small, a mere blip on the radar screen of life, but it shook me. (God works like that, you know?) That incident helped me see that when it comes to my children, I am standing in shallow, stagnant waters of faith. I am at the beginning of the long “letting go” phase (they are no longer babies, they are venturing out into the world), and it is going to require a strong belief in God’s goodness and plans for them—no mater what.

I’m not swimming in deep faith waters yet, but I can see them in the distance. I’m aware that I need to get there. And it is all because my son kicked the ball the wrong way and some kid pushed him. It was a teeny, tiny experience, which God used to open my eyes. I suppose that adults need to learn through experience, too.

Have you ever had to watch your child get her feelings hurt or learn a tough lesson? How did you handle it? Where are you in the journey of trusting God with your child? 

 And now for the giveaway:
 Courtney and I each are giving away one copy of "The Power of a Positive Mom" by Karol Ladd. To enter, simply leave on a comment on this post and tell me when it's hardest for you to remain positive as a parent or share a tip on how to stay positive in the tough moments. You can also hop over to Courtney's blog and leave a comment there (she'll give you the details on where to enter and this means you have two chances to win!). You have until this coming Saturday, September 10, 5 p.m. to enter. Winners will be announced on Monday, September 12. And please join us tomorrow when we announce details on the book discussion. (Oh, and you can check out the book here if you'd like more of a sneak peek).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

this week in homeschooling...

This week in homeschooling, we:
  • started a new language arts curriculum (Learning Language Arts Through Literature)
  • started our unit study on Australia
  • acquired many mosquito bites on a nature walk
  •  (mostly) kept up with our home economics classes, i.e. chores ;)
  •  looked forward to every car ride so we could hear more of "Where the Red Fern Grows" (a book on tape from our local library)  
 What I learned:
  • to let go...Reese does not like copywork and the battle is not worth it (such a hard lesson for me!)
  • mid-morning snack time is a good thing
 Where I can use some help:
  •  having activities for Ben to do when he wants attention from me and resorts to getting into mischief - I'd love some advice and wisdom from those of you who've been in those trenches before!
The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Behind the bullet points:
Our first full week back and things were going swimmingly the first four days - Ben was content to play by himself or with Luke (and NOT get into the usual mischief of dumping out buckets, tipping over chairs, climbing bookshelves) and Brie was focused, motivated and getting her work done in record time - a big change over last year. Reese was more of a challenge but I know we'll get there - I just need to do some more praying.

Friday was another matter - it was like a flashback to the end of the school year where we were all in desperate need of vacation. Brie and Reese were both resistant to doing their work and Ben was doing his best to get my attention. I'm thanking God that we have a three-day weekend ahead of us and praying that we are all refreshed and ready to tackle our work on Tuesday.

A video to share:
As part of starting our Australia unit, we listened to the Australian national anthem. I was excited to find the version of it from the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics - for some reason, it was a highlight for me and has stuck with me these 10+ years. The anthem starts about 2+ minutes into the clip. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

a moment

I used to think I would remember every sweet/touching/funny/absurd moments with my children - not every moment of their lives, just the ones where, at the time, I say to myself, "I'll always remember this."

...since I don't have a picture of the cards...
Eight years in and I realize I've forgotten more than I've remembered. (sheepish grin) Which is probably a blessing in many cases.

But, there are times where I really do not want to forget, which is part of this blog's purpose. Once such moment was yesterday...

Brianna and Reese were looking forward all summer to the return of their Missionettes and Royal Rangers classes. Reese decided to make cards for his leaders yesterday to express his gratitude. On one he wrote:

"I am so glad Royal Rangers is back." Love, Reese

on another a simple,

"I love you."

And, my personal, tugs-at-my-heart favorite:

"I am a happy man."