Friday, November 16, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 16

Oh my word, today was lovely! God gave us a chilly but sunny fall day to enjoy as a family. Hubby took off work today, because we had some prep work to do at church in the children's room before we give it a new coat of paint tomorrow. We took all the kids with us, and it ended up being a very great family day!

I was so thankful for the time we all spent together working in that room, pitching in where each could, looking toward a common goal. Even the baby was able to help hold my scissors and tape until I needed it. It was awesome to look around and see all six of us taping up the walls, laying paper on the floor, and each taking a turn at priming the wall. If we had not all pitched in, we would be nowhere near as far as we are. Now, tomorrow morning, we can walk in with the group of team members who have agreed to help paint, and we can immediately start rolling the walls. YAY! Very thankful!

And I was thankful that all four of my kids went outside and helped me pick up pecans while Brient was working on the room. I told the little ones that it was like hunting for Easter eggs, so that made it a really fun game. Because of the help of all four of them, we have plenty of pecans to put in our freezer for the next year. In the Deep South, you only get these golden gems once a year, so I always try to stock my freezer. And I was very thankful that I was given permission to pick up pecans at the church! Very thankful!!

And at this very moment, I am thankful for a warm house and a comfy bed, because my back is KILLING ME after picking up pecans for about two hours!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 15

Today was pretty much a carry over from yesterday. A day that I just wanted to stay in bed with my head under the covers. I am weary. Very weary. Life has me completely spent, empty. It's not just one thing that has me feeling this way. It's everything - all at once! So today, I'm looking for joy and being thankful in the little things, because, seriously, there is no big thing today.

Where to start... I made more homemade hot chocolate with my kids this morning to enjoy while we read history again. I absolutely love that time of the day! All my kids are around the table (except the baby who goes to play while we read, because she's bored with history), and we all are spending that thirty minutes or so together. Love being with them!

Britches and I worked together on her new micro-business of making and selling beeswax candles. She has been working hard to clean out and melt down some wax that my sweet friend, Amy, gave her, and today we finished the cleaning process. I had the chance to talk to her about how cleaning and purifying the wax was a lot like how God works with us. He keeps pouring us through the filter to get out more impurities. And even when we look pretty good, God looks at us closer and sees that there is still more sin and self that needs to be filtered out of our hearts. And when He finishes with us, we, like the wax, are a beautiful color, are smooth and lovely, and are now USEABLE! I am very thankful for God moments that I have with each of my kids to share with them about Almighty God and His great love for them. A love that takes the time to search their hearts, try them, and see that there is no unclean thing in them. No, none of us will ever get to the point of perfection until we reach heaven, but I'm so thankful that God never gives up on making us more like His Son, Jesus Christ. Very thankful for that!

It was a beautiful, crisp fall day in the Deep South, and I was thankful that my two middle kids were able to get outside and play for awhile. They love being outside, and they were having fun making a leaf pile.

I am thankful for the few moments I had to just sit in the recliner with my youngest and play a memory game on my tablet. She's getting so big (just turned four) and so smart.

And I'm thankful I had some time today to sit and sink myself into a good book that I recently downloaded for FREE (thankful for that!), Hope for the Weary Mom. It has been exactly what I needed right now in my life. It's more like a devotional book than just a reading book, and I have gotten so much out of it. I'm thankful to know I'm not the only person in this world struggling with weariness.

And in just a little while, I will be thankful for the gluten free biscuit recipe that I found a few weeks ago as I sink my teeth into some comfort food loaded with some homemade pear butter or jelly - maybe two biscuits so I can have both! Eating a gluten free diet STINKS, and there are days I just want to throw my hands up and be done. But since this isn't exactly a "diet" that I'm just doing to lose weight or something, I actually have to stick with it. Unless, of course, I want to end up sick for the next week. So I am very thankful for the recipes I have found that actually TASTE GOOD, because, really, not all of them are worth more than going in the TRASH!

So that's my day. Being thankful in the little things over here. And praying for a better day tomorrow.

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 14

Today has been a stretch for me trying to figure out what I'm thankful for. It's been "one of those days" in life that I just wish I could go back to bed and forget the whole day - or, in this case, the whole week. Grrrr..... But since it's Wednesday and I went to church, I still have something for which to be thankful.

I know I've already said this before, but I must say it again. I am so thankful God has called us to this new church to serve these people. We have only been there for a few months, but already I love them. I am thankful for a pastor who preaches right to my heart EVERY SINGLE TIME HE SPEAKS! It's amazing to me how God works like that through that guy. AMAZING! I'm thankful that I still live in a country (at least for now) where I am free to go to church and worship my God. Truly, it is a privilege that many do not have.

And I was thankful for the hot chocolate that my kids and I shared while reading history this morning. That always lifts my mood, and it's such a sweet time around the table with them. Don't know what I would do in this life without them - yes, all four of them (even the baby).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 13

Today, I am thankful for our library. We went to the weekly craft and activity time today, and all the kids had a blast. The library is a place we have gone since my oldest were just babies, and we always love it!

Ms. Betty B. is our most favorite librarian in the whole world, and, since we have seen her for so many years now, we have adopted her as part of our family.

I love the fact that we can get all the school books we could ever need from that place, and I don't have to pay a dime - unless, of course, I am late returning, which does happen occasionally. If I had to PAY for all the school books we get from that place, well, let's just say I wouldn't be able to homeschool.

And today, I was thankful that a sweet friend happened to be at the library at the same time, and I got to have a lovely chat with her. I don't get to see her often enough, so that was a treat!

 Little Sister just loves picking out books every week!

 My Little Man isn't so little anymore. ~sniff, sniff~

Baby Girl with her good friend and her new doll. 

Yes, I have an older girl, but she was over in the teen section and didn't get her picture made. The fact that she was in the TEEN section is sad enough, because that means she's BIG! NOOOO! OK, enough of that. These are the things today for which I'm thankful.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Days 10, 11, and 12

This weekend was crazy busy getting ready for ministry on Sunday morning. I was juggling more things than my mind could even remember. I was glad I had the good sense God gave me to WRITE ALL OF IT DOWN! If I hadn't kept a list to check off as I finished each thing, I never would have gotten it all done. So, needless to say, blogging was not on my list of "to-do's". So where did we leave off? Ahh, yes - days 10 and 11, and today.

Saturday, I spent the whole day non-stop moving. I was getting ready for Baby Girl's fourth birthday party with her two sets of grandparents, and her best friend, Little Sister. I am thrilled beyond words that she thinks of Little Sister as her best friend! And they really ARE! I was also cleaning house for said birthday party, which is a never ending event around here. (Probably why I hate it so much! IT NEVER ENDS!) And I also kept moving on getting my things ready for church. I stayed moving from morning until my head hit the pillow. But in the midst of all that going and going and going, I was still thinking of how thankful I am. I was thankful God granted me the ENERGY to do all of those things non-stop.

For many months now, I have had some physical issues that have caused me to be completely run down. And I don't just mean a little tired here and there. I mean like I can hardly pull myself out of the bed I am so exhausted! Add that to my never ending gut issues, and I have just been good for nothing on some days. Nearly every afternoon, you will find me curled up in the recliner or on my couch, because, if I don't catch at least a short nap, I just can't function for the rest of the day - literally. And some days, I have had to take two naps. I totally don't have time for this, but I have finally given in to it and realized that, if I didn't rest, I really would be no good for anything! So Saturday, when I was completely full of energy, and when I was able to keep going and getting things done that I haven't had the energy to do, I was very thankful! God filled me with HIS strength to accomplish the things He set before me, and I was so thankful for that!

And Sunday, I had many, many things for which to be thankful. Church, of course. I love what I do, and I love the new church God has called us to serve. Every Sunday I am reminded how thankful I am that God chose ME to join in his work. I was thankful for that check-off list that I had made the day before that kept me going through the morning! I was thankful for a new team member who stepped into the children's room (I am pretty sure for the first time) to help me out with a quick skit! As I talked to all my workers, I was reminded how VERY THANKFUL for each of them I am, because, without them, I couldn't do what I do! And I was thankful for a date to town with my hubby after church to go to Lowe's and buy paint. Next Saturday, we will be joining forces with several of our volunteers and giving our children's and toddler room an updated look. Thankful for paint and the date with Brient!

Today begins our last week of homeschooling before we take a Thanksgiving break. I was VERY thankful for that fact! And I'm thankful for each of my kids who I get to stay home with and enjoy each day. I'm so thankful God allows me that privilege. I'm thankful for all three of my sweet girls and my very sweet boy. God knew Brient and I needed each one of them.

So I think that catches me up. Are you participating in The Gratitude Project? Share with me some things for which you are thankful!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 9

Today, I am thankful for time with my family. I love the fact that, nearly every night, we sit down together at supper and share some laughs over our meal. And tonight after supper, we all piled up in the living room together to watch "Herbie Rides Again" as our family movie.

I love seeing my son and Little Sister snuggled up close to each other while they watched. Not everyone can say that their kids actually LIKE being together, much less snuggling during a movie. But all four of my kids love being together and loving on each other, and that makes me so happy. That is a direct result of our homeschooling and the fact that they have to be together a lot and are REQUIRED to learn to work together and get along. The fruit of that - they love being together.

And I got to snuggle up next to my hubby in the recliner, which is always one of my favorite things to do. I am very thankful for that time.

Time with my family is a really special thing to me. My husband works all over the place and isn't always home in the evenings. When he's on call, he often works the weekend. So when we have time together as a family, I am always very aware of what a gift that time is. And I am seriously thankful for that time.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 8

Here in the Deep South, it is a gorgeous day! The weather has been in the upper 50's with the sun shining. BEAUTIFUL! Today, I'm thankful for the fact that I am able to stay home with and homeschool my kids. If they went to school, and if I worked outside the home, we would miss out on days like this by having to sit inside looking at walls and artificial lighting.

As it is, my kids were out the door by 11:00AM and down in our woods playing and enjoying the day. Oh yes, we did math, spelling, and history before they took off. But for the rest of the day, they have been immersing themselves in delight directed science and nature studies. They have been soaking up the sunshine and fresh air, and enjoying the fall day that God has blessed us with.

On another note, I am glad to be able to stay home, because today I have just felt icky sicky. Fall allergies are catching up with me and I feel it all over. Sore throat, achy, coughing - the works. I am thankful that I no longer have to drag myself up to an office and muster up the strength to stick it out through the day (as I have done many times before I had kids)when I'd really rather be in bed. I'm thankful that, as my kids were enjoying time outside, I was able to rest on the couch and let my body heal itself.

 And lastly, I'm thankful that my husband was able to work from home today. Usually, he's driving all over the northern part of our state. But today was a rare treat for me. He needed to do some work on the computer, so he's been sitting in the living room working all day. It's been great to be able to pop in and talk to him in between schooling the kids, bring him breakfast and lunch without him grabbing it and running out the door, and just having him close today. Very thankful for that.

 Have you been keeping up with The Gratitude Project? What things are you thankful for this day? There are so many things all around us for which to be grateful. All you need to do is open your eyes and look around. God truly does give good gifts to His children.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 7

It's the day after the big election. For today, I am thankful for my freedom to VOTE! Some people get so upset with the things the government does, and they do nothing about it. Voting is our way to SAY what we think/believe/want for our country and family. Not every country has this freedom. And in truth, I fear that, if things don't change or if God doesn't come back soon, this may very well be one of the last times our country sees this freedom. I was very saddened to see who won the election. Not that I was really excited for the "other guy" to win, either. Personally, I don't think either of them were "worth their salt". But the majority of our country has spoken, very loudly, about the direction they wish for us to go. As I sit back and reflect on that fact, I am thankful for something else. I am thankful that God is STILL God. He wasn't surprised by the results of last night's election. He wasn't sitting up in Heaven looking down going, "Wait a minute! That wasn't supposed to happen!" He is fully aware of the things going on, and He is STILL in control! And I am thankful that I know the end of the story. Yes, I realize the times in our world are very scary and uncertain. I realize our leaders are not all they should be. But this I know: The Bible says clearly that these things must come to pass before the return of Christ. God isn't surprised by these events. He already knows they are coming. He is ready for them. We should be, too. It has been prophesied in God's written word, which means it WILL happen. I can rejoice in the fact that, the sooner prophesy is fulfilled, the sooner we will be taken to Heaven, our real home, to live forever with an Almighty God. And that, my friends, is something really worth my thanks!

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 6

I'm a little behind over here. What can I say? We had a fun filled day yesterday with Baby Girl, and then I was too caught up in the election last night to stop to blog. Time to catch up. Day 6 - I am thankful for my Baby Girl! Yesterday was her birthday, and I just couldn't believe she is now FOUR! She was so funny walking around telling me all day that she was four and a big girl. I totally used that to my advantage! "Big girls who are four eat all their food on their plate." "Big girls who are four buckle their own seat belts." "Big girls who are four don't whine." She had the best day going around telling her brother and sisters that she was now a big girl. My house was filled with more laughter from her than it has been in a long time. She giggled over EVERYTHING! I just sat back and soaked up the sound of her laughter, because, really, it was wonderful. Her smile made my heart sing. And her laughter was music to my ears. Most days, she is a cantankerous little thing who is never happy with what she is given but always wants more or different. But not yesterday. She was just thrilled to be having her birthday, which she has been waiting for since April when Little Sister had HER birthday. We celebrated with a family birthday party of just the six of us last night. As she opened her few presents, she smiled from ear to ear and hugged each thing tight. Then she ran to each of us and gave the biggest, sweetest hugs and thanks. It melted my heart. Baby Girl is a handful to say the least. Some days she wears me slap out! But I am so thankful that God knew we needed her! I am so thankful He blessed our house with her spirit and energy. And I am thankful for the things God teaches me daily (sometimes hourly) through raising this little stinker! She is such a sweetie, and I love her so much!
(She doesn't take a picture without winking.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 5

Today the kids and I cleaned the house. Since I have no carpet in my house, it doesn't take long to get dust bunnies all over my house. And they seem to multiply overnight! One thing in this life I really hate to do is clean house. HATE IT!! I feel like there are just so many other things in life that I could be doing and actually ENJOYING, like schooling my kids, being in my garden, planning children's church stuff, or even getting a root canal! All of those would be better than stirring up the dust storm that always comes when I sweep. But I am reminded, in the midst of all that dust and laundry and dishes, just how thankful I am. I am thankful I have a house to clean. I am thankful God has given us a place to lay our heads each night out of the cold and rain and whatever. I am thankful that I have all those floors to sweep, because that means we LIVE in our house and enjoy life. That means I have kids who love playing outside in our woods and always forget to take their shoes off when they come in. It means I have a husband who leaves for work every day to provide for us, and comes in with dirt on his shoes. I am thankful for the roof over our heads and the pillows under our heads. I am thankful that my house is always noisy (for better or worse!), because that means we talk to each other and enjoy being together. It means I have 2 little ones who like to play together and drag their toys out all over that floor I just swept. I am thankful for the mountain of laundry, because that means we have been blessed with clothes to wear, most of which are hand-me-downs from great people that God has sent our way. And I am thankful for the sink full of dishes (and counter full), because that means we have enough food to eat and thus we have dishes to wash. God has blessed our family beyond measure. As much as I still hate cleaning - HATE IT! - I am seriously so very thankful for this house to clean. Oh, and one more thing. I'm thankful that God has given me four little helpers who make the job a little quicker and a little more enjoyable.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 4

Today is Sunday. So what am I thankful for today?? Well church, of course!! I LOVE going to God's house on Sunday mornings. For as long as I can remember, Sunday mornings have been a part of my life. But this day, I have more reason to be thankful. A few months ago, God called Brient and I to a new church. We had been serving at a church just up the road from us for the last several years, and God told us He had a new assignment for us. So in September of this year, we moved to our new church and began work. I am so thankful God allows us to join Him in His work. The older I get, the more I realize that, as Paul said, in me there is no good thing. I am constantly amazed at the fact that He chooses to use ME in His plans. For that, I am thankful. I am so thankful that the pastor at this church saw something in me that I didn't even see in myself. He hired me as the children's pastor, and began immediately investing in my growth in that role. I am thankful for his support and encouragement. I am thankful that he is pushing me to go beyond what I have done up to this point. I am thankful for the vision that he has for this children's ministry. There are about 20 volunteers working under me, and I can't even begin to say how thankful I am for each and every one of them!! So many children's ministers talk of how hard it is to find volunteers, but in coming to this church, there were already volunteers in place. These people want to see the Kingdom of God grow through kids! They are excited, happy to be there, eager to do whatever it takes to reach kids, and FAITHFUL! There are really no words to say how thankful I am for there hard work and commitment! I am THRILLED to be able to work with them and better equip them for ministry to kids! Beyond words thankful!! And today, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to sing in the praise band. They were short quite a few people today, so they asked if I would help out. It has been over a year since I have sung in church. There are some great people who sing up there, and I was honored and humbled that they even asked me to join them. Church. I am so thankful for the body of Christ. And since God called us to a new place, I am so thankful that He is allowing us to serve at such with such a great body. "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." ~Hebrews 10:25

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 3

First, I would just like to say that these are NOT in order of importance, except for day 1! This year, I am just going with what I am thankful for each day, and not trying to simply go through my list according to the people or things most important to me. Today was our annual Thanksgiving Fall Fun Day for our local homeschool group. This is only the second year our family has gone, but it has been lots of fun! Our group met at the park for a meal together and some fun games and fellowship. As I drove into the park, I was met with rows of the most beautifully colored fall trees, and I was reminded of my thankfulness of God's colors all around me. He could have chosen to make the world blank and boring, but instead, He chose to use the brightest, most beautiful colors for all of his creation. I LOVE COLOR!! When we walked up to the group, my kids and I were met with some of the greatest friends we could ask for. There are mom's who are in the same "boat" as me, and it is so amazing to be able to just talk to them and realize I am not alone. There are some great ladies who have the same "food" issues as me, and it is great to be able to swap recipes and talk about all things food and health. And there are some great homeschool girls and boys who are very much like my own, and know what it's like to be "different" by not attending public school. They are sweet, respectful, and still KIDS who love to play with friends. I was reminded of how very thankful I am that God put these people in our lives. Homeschooling is a day in, day out, never ending way of life, and it's one we would not trade for anything. But I am so thankful that God has allowed us to go through this journey with other great families who are living this calling through thick and thin. We don't see these people every week, but when we do, it's as if we have never been apart. We are able to pick up right where we left off. I am so thankful for these ladies, and I don't know what I would do without them!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 2

When I sit down and really think about it, there are so many things for which I am thankful, it's just hard to pick one for each day. Choices, choices... Today, I am thankful for music. Any of you who have read my blog for awhile or know me personally have heard me say before that music is the key to my soul. It speaks things that my heart wants to say but can't quite find the words. It is the means by which I celebrate the good things in life, and the way I cry out to God when I am lost in this world. When mountains stand before me, I use music to praise my God for the way He will deliver me. I cannot even begin to name all the songs that have spoken the words of my heart even in the last few weeks. But here is one that I want to share with you. It is something that has been in the very front of my mind every single day lately. It is something that the devil tries to cause me to doubt, but my God tells me is TRUTH! My past does not define me. It does not determine my future. I am redeemed. Period.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Gratitude Project 2012 - Day 1

Today is November 1, 2012. This marks the third year that I have participated in The Gratitude Project. If you haven't heard of it before today, go right now and check out the details. I blogged about it two years ago here.

I seriously had to think about whether or not I was going to do The Gratitude Project this year. Things have been so crazy at my house, and honestly, I have just not been feeling very "grateful." There is stress in my life in every area imaginable, and some days it's all I can do to look beyond those stresses. I have had no time or desire to write in months, and I knew if I committed to this, it would mean writing daily. But as I thought about all those things, I realized that this is EXACTLY the time that I need to be focusing on those things for which I am grateful. In this life, it can be so easy to look only at the things that will bring you down. But the Bible says in Colossians 3:2...

"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."

So again this year I will be taking the challenge to be intentionally grateful for the things God has placed in my life, those things He has taken out of my life, the people He allows me to live life with, and all other good things that are from Him.

Today, on this first day of November, I am reminded how great is my God. I serve a BIG God who loves me just the way I am. He meets me in my weakness, and covers me with His great grace. When I think about the "self" I am, I am left in amazement that my God would even choose to love me, let alone use me for His service. I am humbled to be a part of His work. I am so grateful for my God's saving grace. I am so grateful for second chances (and third and fourth). I am so grateful for forgiveness and redemption. And I am so grateful that my God loves me enough not to leave me as I am, but continues to sift all the sinfulness from my heart so I can become more like His perfect Son, Jesus. For those things, I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Beautiful (Almost) Spring Day

Today is February 23, 2012. It's supposed to be winter, at least according to the calendar. But here in the Deep South, the weather has been looking more and more like spring! I cannot tell you how THRILLED I am about that fact! Spring is my favorite season. Thankfully, this winter hasn't been as cold and wet and yucky as most, but we have instead had lots of really pleasant days in which to get outside. Today is one of those days.

We worked on school for a little while this morning, but the outside was just calling us. So around 10:30, I sent everyone outside to get some sunshine. I did bring a little of our school work outside with us, but mostly, I just let nature be their teacher today. And what did they learn from nature? Well....

Britches has been working nearly every day outside with Little Man's magnifying glass. She has been trying so hard to get a fire going with just the magnifying glass and the sun. She's had quite a few good flames going, too, but they go out pretty quickly. So today, she grabbed the magnifying glass and decided on a new experiment. She decided she was going to boil water in an acorn top. Why? I have no idea. It just seemed to her like a great thing to do.

I really thought it was quite funny that she was even attempting this. She had been sitting there for awhile letting it "boil" and decided to check it. Yep, she said it was getting hot. She sat there a little while longer holding the magnifying glass over the water, and then she asked if I wanted to see how hot it was. Sure, why not. I stuck my finger in it, and - OUCH!! That was HOT! She didn't tell me it was THAT hot! Or maybe she did and I just figured she was exaggerating. But it was piping hot! She even got little bubbles to form at the bottom of the acorn top and you could hear it sizzling. She was so excited. Yep, that's the kind of thing that excites her. Then she got another brilliant idea.
She decided that, if she could boil water, maybe she could make a grape turn into a raisin. She took off into the kitchen to find a grape. Well, she didn't exactly turn it into a raisin. I told her that raisins are slow dried so as not to BURN! But she sat there finding great excitement in cooking/burning that grape! (And I just have to say, burnt grapes STINK!)

And what were the others doing during all this "excitement"? Well, they weren't doing any scientific experimenting. But they were doing some clever engineering. AND they were working TOGETHER without even fighting! YAY for that! They went and found some rope and a skateboard and, well... take a look. 
Yep, they made themselves a swing. Never mind the fact that we have THREE swings on our jungle gym! Of course THOSE are no fun! It's WAY more fun to build your own! So they found some rope and a latch thingy, and they engineered themselves a swing. Those two played for the longest time, taking turns and sharing and doing it together and, oh my goodness it was GREAT! They had a blast! 

Our (almost) spring day has turned out really great! And the day isn't even over yet. I've done some planting of seeds and just enjoyed the beautiful day of SUNSHINE! I'm so thankful today that it isn't cloudy or rainy or cold. I tell Brient regularly that I'd really prefer to never move up north, because I would go absolutely CRAZY with such long, cold, dreary winters. I'm not that crazy about snow. So for today, I am enjoying what God has given us. And we are enjoying it while it lasts, because, in the Deep South, it can change in a moments notice. 

Do you ever head outside with your homeschool? What do you enjoy most about it? How do you allow God to teach your kids through nature? If you don't ever find yourself enjoying the great outdoors, give it a try. Head outside and enjoy God's creation!

Monday, February 20, 2012

LEGO School - Code breaker

 At the beginning of this school year, I decided that the "theme" of our year would be LEGO's. My son LOVES LEGO's, so this was mainly for him. But my girls enjoy playing with them just as much as he. We started off the year well, but the last few months have been lacking a little in the area of our LEGO fun. I have just had quite a bit going on and it really hasn't even crossed my mind to include it in our day. But today, I put it on our school day schedule, and the kids were THRILLED! So we brought everything to the table, and they were ready for the challenge of the day.

I started out by telling them that, for today, they were spies. The enemy had cracked all their codes, and they needed a new way to communicate. Their mission: To create a new code using LEGO bricks, and then to write a secret message with their LEGO's. They were thrilled at the challenge ahead of them! They are all really into spy stuff anyway, so this was right up their alley! Here is what they came up with.

Little Sister wanted to know if she was going to do school with the older ones. Well of course she was!! This was definitely something she could get in on. No, she didn't have to make a whole code or write something with LEGO's. She is just starting to read, so that would not have been fun for her. But, I did tell her I wanted her to take each kind of LEGO, place it on her page, draw a picture of it with her crayon, and then label it with one letter of the alphabet. I wrote all the letters on a separate sheet of paper for her to look at, so she would remember all of them. Yes, she knows all her letters, but when you're trying to remember them for something like that, sometimes little ones tend to forget some. She did exactly what I told her, and this is what she ended up with. She got about half way through the alphabet before getting tired of it. So she worked on writing her letters, matching bricks to letters, and following directions.

Little Man went for more of a graph form, so he could more easily see what bricks were to be which letter. This is his code.

I sneaked a peak at Britches while she was working. She is my more detail oriented kid, and everything has to be just right with her. She found her ruler, and before I realized it, she had a really detailed grid with all of her colors neatly labeled. She even went so far as to include capital AND lowercase letters in her code. She always goes above and beyond what I ask of her. 

So that was our LEGO school for the day - code making and code breaking. Can you figure out their code words? 

Have you done any really cool LEGO challenges with your kids? If so, tell me about them. I'd love to try out YOUR ideas! And if you have never done "LEGO school" with your kids, I encourage you to give it a try. You will be amazed at the things your kids will learn from a simple "toy" such as LEGO bricks!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Little Sister's School Day

There are days - many days - that I question whether or not I am doing enough with my five year old. She's the third of four, and, though I try really hard to avoid this, I find myself gearing my time toward teaching my oldest two. They are, after all, the ones "in school", right? Not really, but that's how many of my days end up. So on days when Little Sister really shows out, I am completely thrilled. 

On this particular day, I was doing school with the older two, and had sent her to play. She came to me and asked if she could have the markers to write on my white board. My husband mounted it low enough where she and Baby Girl could reach it and draw on it. (I'm still waiting on the day when the marker "accidentally" gets all over my wall!) I handed her the markers, told her to keep it on the white board, and left her to herself while I went back to the "real school" with the others. When we finished what we were working on, I turned around to see how she was doing (and to make sure I didn't have marker all over my wall!), and this is what she showed me. 

She put all the markers together to make a pointer stick, so she could teach me what she had drawn. She said, "The red is all the blood in my body, and these black things are viruses that make you sick."

Then she went to the picture she drew of her whole body and began to tell me about it. "These are all the muscles in my body. They are all over, even in my legs."

Wow! I was impressed! I have to tell you at this point, I have no idea where she learned that. No clue! I know I didn't teach it to her. But she had certainly learned enough about the human body to know those things, to be able to draw them, and then to be able to teach me what she knew. So where did she learn that? Hmmm...

One thing I have always made certain to do in our homeschooling is to be sure my kids are watching QUALITY television. My kids don't watch useless cartoons that have no point or meaning. Most of their video games and computer games revolve around some form of teaching. So where did she learn about the human body? My guess is that she learned it from PBS Kids. Our TV pretty much stays on PBS, and it is amazing the amount of learning they get from that quality programing. And when she wants to get on the computer to play games, she goes to PBS Kids to play and learn.

After she "taught" me what she knew, I decided it was time for some fun with Mrs. Frizzle! I LOVE The Magic Schoolbus! LOVE IT! So we went to the library and checked out the DVD that had all three human body episodes on it. She came home and watched them, and she learned about the heart and circulatory system, the digestive system, and the muscular system.

After all her "learning", she told me, "Mama, now I can be a doctor, because I know all about the body." Pretty cool!

So if you, too, are wondering if you are doing enough with your kids, younger or older, I would say to you - relax. If you are facilitating an environment that promotes learning at all time, including their free play time, your kids are learning plenty. They are learning way more than you realize.

Have a suggestion for some creative learning? Something that your kids do that doesn't scream "SCHOOL" to them? Something they find fun and is still educational at the same time? Share your ideas! I would love to hear how you make life your school.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Check it out!

A few weeks ago, I had a sweet, dear friend e-mail me to say she really missed my "voice" on my blog. ~sigh~ She is such sweetness! I just love my Juliann! But I got thinking that maybe a few others of you have wondered where I have gone. (Hey, one can hope! STOP LAUGHING!)

After Christmas, I always slow down. Winter for me is like the summer break that most of you enjoy. It's a time when I stop all the running and craziness, and I just SIT DOWN! And by that time in the year, I seriously need it!

But another thing I do after Christmas is get ready for a few weeks of focused time with God. After the first of the year (when my brain is on slow down mode), I spend some specific time in prayer and fasting, seeking God for the things He would have me do in the year to come in every area of my life. It's also my time to get refilled and resharpened for the ministry to which I have been called.

God has shown me so many amazing things this year! I actually sat down the other night and wrote them all out in list form, just because it helps me to get a clearer picture that way, instead of trying to sort through the jumbled up MESS in my head! I seriously couldn't believe all the many things I wrote down on that list. I was floored when I saw all the ways God had worked on my behalf, and when I looked at all the things He has taught me over these last few weeks. But there is one thing specifically that He told me to do that I have been working on, which is why I have been absent for so long.

Most of you who regularly follow my blog know that I have a heart and a passion for children's ministry. Never thought I'd say that, but amazingly enough, God can change even the most stubborn heart! Anyways, now that Brient and I have been doing this for several years now, I just have such a desire to show other small, growing churches how important children's ministry is. The bigger churches "get it", but it seems like many of the smaller churches are stuck in the past where the thinking was that, if the kids are quiet in church, that's all that matters. They aren't old enough to understand the things of God and not important enough to worry with giving them something on their level that they CAN understand. I seriously want to change that!

So one of the things God told me to do to kick-start that effort was to start a new website. Yep! I have a new website!! YAY! I have spent the last several weeks on it, because, quite frankly, Wordpress is nothing like Blogger, so it has taken me a little time to get used to the new format. I seriously like the ease of my blog right here, but I needed something more for the website. So I am working through it, and hoping it all turns out looking good in the end. ANYWAYS.... Go check out my new website called The Children's Pastor. Just remember as you are looking, it is a work in progress. Bear with me. I still have quite a few posts to write and add to the site before it's right. And check back often, because I am pretty sure it will not stay the same. It's not in my nature to keep things the same for too long. (That drives my husband CRAZY!)

And if you are on Facebook, be sure to go "like" my page - The Children's Pastor. You lovely friends here who read my blog have always been so great and supportive. So I have another favor to ask. After you go "like" my Facebook page, would you consider sharing it on your Facebook? And if you know of small churches who are in need of some help, I would greatly appreciate you sending them to our website.

Oh and one more thing. I am also looking for a few small clients who might need a website built. If you know of a person or small business who is in the market for that, please point them my direction.

So that is where I have been. In prayer and fasting, and building a website. I will be back here regularly. I'm certainly not quitting my blog here! But from this point out, I will be putting all my devotionals and children's ministry posts on The Children's Pastor, and all of our homeschooling adventures, my homeschool curriculum reviews, and all things homeschool will be here.

So head on over and go check out the new website. Then jump on Facebook long enough to "like" the page and maybe post it to your wall. And then go send some of your friends our way!

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~Dr. Suess