Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Snow

I just love it when the first blanket of snow catches us by surprise. We knew snow was coming but didn't realize it would accumulate. As I write, the kids have played in it twice in the last 12 hours. They can't get enough of it.





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Thanksgiving Snapshots

There are many blessings to count this year. God is good.











Saturday, November 19, 2011


A dear friend recently told me that she put her kids in private school and felt like it was a more "rich" educational environment for her kids than homeschooling. This may be true for some people but I have never felt that our homeschooling has lacked richness. This is partly due to extracurricular activities and library classes and also due to our wonderful homeschool group, Classical Conversations (CC) of Brownsburg, Indiana. I also love the curriculum we are using (more on this later).

Last week I overheard Meredith talking with a friend. She didn't know I was listening but I overheard her tell this friend that she "really liked homeschooling." Some days she will probably like it more than others. And that goes for me too! But one thing is for sure--she loves learning. She is inquisitive and curious and creative. I am very encouraged.

Here are the older kids last Thursday before our end-of-the-year CC meeting / Thanksgiving party:

The pilgrim outfit was made by my mom for my little sister when she was younger. I cut up a t-shirt I got at Michaels and hot-glued beads to make this Indian outfit for Clara. The belt and headdress fasten together with velcro.

Here is Clara's class. She has the best tutor for this age group. Chris is very musical and uses puppets to teach English and Latin memory. The kids love her.

Here Meredith is completing her final project for her human anatomy studies. She has two really great tutors as well, who are both good friends of mine. Meredith has really learned to love both geography and science this semester. She also loves music and playing her little tin whistle.

Here are two girls in Meredith's class:

My friend Rachelle made this awesome turkey.

Serving up the feast:

This is right before I decided it would probably be okay to leave Sophia to help serve the food. The next time I saw her she had abandoned her food and had found a lollipop. She was quite happy about it too.

Here is Clara with her best friend, Eden Rose.

Thanksgiving Decor

Some day I will have elegant Thanksgiving decorations adorning my home. And when that day comes, I will miss having decorations like this laying around the house:

Believe it or not, Sophia "made" this little fellow. I'm sure she had a lot of help from the lady at her nursery class. But she was so proud to give it to me. She pointed at it and smiled so big. She is so funny that way. She loves to scribble on paper and give that to me too. Kevin told me once, "I miss these days already." There are certain moments in time that I wish I could hold onto forever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Previewing Children's Books

Most of the books I read to my kids, I get from reading lists (e.g., Honey for a Child's Heart) and from friends' recommendations.  I order these books from the library online `and they are stacked up and ready to go when I arrive.  But I also like to peruse the children's bookshelves and my kids love picking up books that look interesting to them.  I do not often preview read-aloud books.  Maybe I should do this more.  

There is a Thanksgiving book we have read over the years and love called The Night Before Thanksgiving.  It is a cute story of a family Thanksgiving celebration.  I recommend it!

The other day I saw a book with a similar title, 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving, and picked it up.  I read it to the kids today and half-way through realized it was total animal rights propaganda.  Children steal turkeys from a farmer in order to spare their lives.  (The farmer's name is Mack Nuggett.) At the end of the book, the children were "abounding in love." The children and their families feasted on "veggies with jelly and toast" and everyone was thankful (the turkeys were most)." In other words, it is okay to steal from a farmer who is trying to make a living but how dare you think you are better than a fowel and take the life of a bird for your sustenance! 

My kids took in every word of this book.  I continued reading it but, at the end, we had discussion Iabout the purposes of animals and whether eating animals is something that is wrong or allowed for in the bible and a part of God's plan.  We talked about whether animals are equal with humans or subservient and whether animals have a soul.  We also talked about people like Laura Ingalls who would have never survived a winter in the Big Woods if her pa had not killed animals for food.  

So, maybe I should preview books more.  But, I tend to err on the side of exposing my kids to stuff and then having conversations with them about what is Truth and what is a lie.  I would rather my kids grow up having lots of conversations with their mom about right and wrong, and knowing that their mom is not afraid to confront the lies the world offers, than my kids simply being sheltered.  

My two cents, for what is worth!  What are your thoughts?  

Week six (or so) of pounding the pavement ...

Over the weekend I was able to run on the trail, which is infinitely more enjoyable than running past mailboxes.  Although, sometimes I do tell myself, "You can do it!  You can make it to that third mailbox!" and this is helpful.  

After my run, I sat to look at the naked trees and the dying mums on my back patio.  The gray clouds in the sky blew above me at a hurried pace.  It is definitely November.  I used to think that naked trees were really ugly, but now I think that they have their own stark beauty.  

Starting this running project in the fall has worked out well.  I enjoy running in the cooler weather. I have gone out in the rain a few times and if it is below 45 degrees I bring a scarf along so I can breathe in warmer air.  But at the end of my run, my body is warm and my head has been cleared and I enjoy the wind, and sometimes even the raindrops, on my face.  The world is usually still and peaceful.  This is likely the only time I will have to enjoy the quiet for the rest of the day.  

I haven't decided if it is better to be alone on the trail or to have happy distractions with other passersby.  I do love to people watch.  

Running can be uncomfortable and tiresome while I am doing it.  But after it is done, I feel on top of the world.  It is a tremendous stress reliever.  I feel so good the rest of the day.  I really appreciate the friends who have encouraged me to give it a try.  

I am now on week six of the Couch to 5K plan.  I ran 2 miles in 20 minutes without stopping last week and later this week I will take it up to 2.25 miles in 22 minutes.  Only three more weeks to go until I am done.  Woot!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Peanut Butter Sandwich Timeline (aka Save Time and Money!)

Here is a timeline for you:

Circa 2008--Before Amy had three small kids and homeschooled she used to make fun of people who bought "Uncrustables" frozen peanut butter sandwiches.  "You have got to be kidding me.  How hard is it to whip up a peanut butter sandwich?"

Sept. 2010--She became less judgmental and much more desperate.  She could now see the rationale behind having quick, no-fuss lunch items to throw in a bag.  

Sept. 2011--She could hardly believe it but she bought a box of "Uncrustables" at Target.  "Wow!  This is great," she thought.  Then she discovered that the off-brand is only 50-cents per sandwich at Costco.  "Hmmm.  I think I will stock up."  

Early Oct. 2011--She tasted an "Uncrustable" sandwich and exclaimed, "No wonder my kids like this!  This is like a dessert!  How much sugar is in this thing anyway?"  

Mid-Oct. 2011--A friend tells Amy that you can make your own individually-wrapped peanut butter sandwiches and freeze them for up to a month.  Amy starts doing this and thinks her friend is the most brilliant person she knows!  

Each week on Thursdays we have to be out of the door by 8 a.m. I love how much time the frozen peanut butter sandwich trick saves me.  Packing lunches has become hassle-free. And, when they get old enough to complain about eating peanut butter once a week, then they can start packing their own lunches, right?!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Connecting with Picture Books

There have been a few sweet books (and one funny book) that has helped me to connect with my kids in the past few months. Books are fun. Books are informative. But one of the best things about reading books to kids is that it provides opportunities to connect with them.

After reading You’re All My Favorites (McBratney) to Clara, I think it really helped her understand the truth of a parent loving all their children the same, even though they are all different. She really loved this book and has commented on it numerous times.

Harriet You’ll Drive Me Wild (Fox) made us all smile. Harriet is just one of those kids who makes lots of messes and gets into trouble. Harriet’s mom is one of those moms who is having a hard time dealing with it. This is a sweet story of a mom and daughter who love each other despite their flaws.

How to Clean Your Room in 10 Easy Steps (Huget) is simply the funniest book ever. It totally describes our life! Although it is absolutely hysterical and very true to life, there are a few parts where the young girl is not very respectful. Just a caveat! But we really do love this book.

You are Special (Lucado) is a very touching book that really highlights the truth of self-acceptance. This book helped the kids understand that we are made in God’s image and we should not compare ourselves with other people. God loves us just as we are.

Nothing to Do (Wood) is a wonderful book about making sure to have unstructured time in our lives. The illustrations are great and I think the topic is something that is important because we adults have a tendency to fill up all the hours and not stop to smell the roses. But this is so important. Life goes by too fast. We need to stop and take time to “do nothing.”

Oct. 31

Kevin's family has a fun tradition of going to Brown Co. State Park every Oct. 31. After heating dinner (soup) in the fire place and eating, we all take a hike around the lake with our flashlights. After we get back, we eat dessert. This year I also hid candy all over the shelter and the kids had to take their flashlights and hunt for it. We love this tradition. And the fall colors were still pretty, despite it being so late in the season! It really has been a fabulous fall.





I brought along some hot dogs this year but forgot the roasting forks. I felt like such a pioneer woman. Ha!

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Fall Bonfires

The girls are actually getting helpful when it comes time to get ready for parties! (Meredith will clean and organize the entire basement for me in about two hours. I thought the day would never come!) We have hosted two different multi-family bonfires this year. For an extended family bonfire, we decided to make fall sugar cookies, which are a favorite.


Sophia is thinking: "Hmmm. I need to explore the counter tops more often!"

Um, yes. We dress up a lot around here. Here is Clara, as a bride.

The guys roasting the 'dogs. Fun times!

Zoo Day

Yay for grandmas who take us to the zoo! This was probably one of the best zoo days we have had. The animals were especially active and there were lots of baby animals!



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