Saturday, November 27, 2010

Right now...

We just finished reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We loved it. It was especially interesting to use the Internet to research activities mentioned in the book that we weren't familiar with (like carding wool and using bobsleds to haul timber through the snow). I am still new with the practice of narration, and would like to grow in my creativity in narration avenues. It always amazes me how much the boys recall of a story though - even N (who's 4) follows the stories well and pipes in on our discussions, which are often at dinner time with Daddy.

We've been having fun with geography: using Ann Voskamp's A Child's Geography: Explore His Earth and HM Hillyer's A Child's Geography of the World. We've also been using Geography Songs by Audio Memory starting with the Continents and Oceans song. I've printed off world maps and we've coloured them for the different continents and oceans, and the boys labelled them too. I really love geography - it gives us a framework in which to place so many things that we hear or read about.
I'm using Hillyer's book as a read-aloud as the boys colour in and discover maps. I've skipped over sections (only 2 chapters in so far) either because the sections were too outdated, or because he speaks of the formation of the earth as happening over millions of years, missing out on the beautiful majesty of the Creator. But I do like how Hillyer approaches geography as an adventure. I am looking forward to more.

We have been enjoying Jesus: A to Z by Yvonne Riley. I created a little booklet for us to interact with the book - and spur discussion. It has often led to wonderful little conversations on Who Jesus is and what He has done for us. It is such seemingly small and simple things that I hope will take deep root in the boys' hearts and bear good fruit for my Lord.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vikings - Part 1

Vikings are what they're 'into' right now. So we've gotten books from the library - and one book had some great ideas for making things, as well as interesting information on Viking life.
(Technology in the Time of the Vikings by Peter Hicks) We adapted the ideas from Mr. Hicks' book and that's what this post is about.

Viking shields: the boys planned their own designs on paper. We googled 'Viking shield images' to give them some ideas and then off they went.
Then we cut out a circle of cardboard from our old moving boxes.
Next we cut out strips of cardboard (from another old moving box) to look like wooden slats. And trimmed them so that they matched the shield circle.

Then we used a hot glue gun to stick it all together. (**Note: if I was to do this again - I would attach the handles at this point by cutting slits in the back circle of cardboard, sliding the ends of the handles through and glueing them to the front; using either strips of webbing or strips of cardboard. The 'slats' would be glued over the ends of the handles creating strong handles)

Painting time! The boys enjoyed painting the shields to their designs with their colours. We discovered that the centre of a Viking shield features a 'boss', which is a metal disc. We created ours by glueing together circles of cardboard in decreasing diameters, so we ended up with a raised disc that we covered in aluminium foil. For fun, we made designs with hot glue on the cardboard disc before we covered it with foil so that when pressed the foil on it had raised areas.
Finally, we glued (with hot glue again) the finished 'boss' to the shield. And presto! The boys were off on another adventure.

An anchor

This is one of my all-time favourites.

"Parents, your children are children of the Kingdom, the Kingdom of God in heaven! Hold and love and train them for God alone. From God alone is your hope and your help. Seek it in much prayer. Accept it in childlike faith, believing that you will receive what you ask. Yield yourself to God, denying self, not allowing self any say in the guidance of your life or home. Yield yourself to God, keeping an ear open every hour to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, who alone can work in us the laws and powers of the Kingdom."

Andrew Murray
Raising Your Children for Christ

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mother vs. Drill Sergeant

I am missing something. Too often I feel like a drill sergeant rather than a mother. Maybe it's easier.
A mother needs to stop, to care, to guide - a drill sergeant barks orders and metes out discipline for infractions.
A mother needs wisdom from the Father - a drill sergeant makes sure the rules are obeyed.
A mother smiles - a drill sergeant glowers.
A mother patiently sows seeds of life into hearts - a drill sergeant, well, drills.
A mother recognizes that seeds take a long time to grow a good harvest - a drill sergeant is concerned about the outward, the now.
A mother needs to live by the Spirit from whom comes life - a drill sergeant lives by the law.
A mother gives - a drill sergeant demands
A mother conforms herself to the One who laid His life down - a drill sergeant requires recruits to conform to his standards, his schedule.

Lord, help me this day to seek to love, train, teach my children by Your Spirit - and not by the law, not by the flesh, not for my own convenience.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mache Mayhem

Paper mache. I thought to myself this will be a fun light-hearted project to end the week. That was before we began. Twenty minutes later, on the third batch of flour/water mix and up to my elbows in slowly crusting floury paste, my mood was also getting crackly.

Part of me wanted to laugh - at the oozing mess, at the boy who didn't want to touch the slimy stuff, at the giant pileup of mache on another boy's balloon (oops, a little more supervision and instruction, Mum), at the 'is this the right way to do this' thoughts running around in my head, at the whole thing. Another part of me wanted the project done so I could tick an imaginary box off in my head "Project complete". I pushed a little too hard, helped a little too much, sighed at least once too often; the desire to 'achieve' something won out over the moment.

After cleaning up the mess, I sat down and read this blog post at "At the Well". Ah yes. That's what it is all about - being remade into His likeness. In the midst of chaos, mess, and slippery pieces of gooey paper. Yet again, my Lord reminds me to slow down and to measure achievement differently.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Today was one of those 'slower than molasses in winter' days. Those are the days when two pages of maths can take all day. An opportunity to grow in patience and grace for me. At one point today I sought refuge on the kitchen floor, head between my knees: "Father, please help. Give me the wisdom, the patience to walk through this with the boys."

Such days bring me a conundrum (oh how I love that word): I want my boys to love to learn, to be diligent and hardworking in whatever is before them, I do not want to nag, nor do I want to use only entertaining items for learning. Yet sometimes these desires feel antagonistic toward each other. Hmmm... The first three of those things most parents would want for their kids - but some might disagree with me about the fourth. My reasoning behind such is that we all encounter situations and tasks in life that are not enjoyable in themselves but are necessary (washing dishes at least twice a day, picking up dog poo, reminding the boys to put away the obstacle course of shoes in the doorway for the fourth time that day... and more). These are the things which can be burdens or blessings simply by the attitude we take as we do them. I long for my boys to learn the power of this choice early in their lives, so that they might shoulder responsibility with joy and strength.

I was talking to my eldest about the power of his attitude this morning. Sometimes I wonder how much goes in or if my words are like the static from a non-broadcasting radio station.
But I am called to be a seed sower - frail and faulting as I am. So I sow seeds. Seeds of truth: "Consider it pure joy..." Joy is not a feeling, but a choice, an attitude. Seeds of hope: "Any of you who lacks wisdom should ask God..." Seeds of faith: "Seek and you shall find. Ask and you shall receive..." And you know, I think as I sow these seeds to the boys my own heart is fed.
May the Holy Spirit water and grow the good seeds planted today.

PS. If you want to share how you deal with such 'molasses' days - I would love to hear it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I am going to use this blog as a blank slate. We are homeschooling our boys (now 7, 6, and 4) and I'll be using this blog to ponder our journey. Bits and pieces shall all end up here, I'm sure.

Organization. Not one of my strong suits. Here is our most recent attempt at a weekly schedule. I have to remind myself that this will always be a work in progress.

With the ages the boys are now, I am wanting to cover the basics. And as I don't have a fluent read-aloner yet, most of the learning is centred around my assistance. We are starting our day with the Word of God: Jesus A to Z by Yvonne Riley or a psalm. Then we cover maths (Maths-U-See), and speed maths (rolling dice and the boys add the numbers: as many as they can do in 2 minutes: they have fun trying to beat their earlier score: for Nate (4) we leave one die on either 1 or 2); handwriting, right now we're doing some worksheets to help them form their letters consistently, and we did a Bible copywork book (which the boys loved!); Reading, which we're using AlphaPhonics and sight-word cards (some on the iPod), and phonic games.
Reading aloud is one of my favourite parts, so I won't skip that one. Last week we read The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. One I picked up at the library that we absolutely loved was The Railway Children by E. Nesbitt.

I am working to incorporate a 'focus' of the day: something like Mondays: Geography, Tuesday: History, Wednesday: Nature Study, etc. Hmmm... We'll see. At least this is a beginning.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Friday, September 17, 2010

The boys and I have re-discovered Pippi Longstocking. I loved her as a child, I think I love her even more as an adult.

I think she would welcome Jesus with all of her heart and usher him in for pancakes. He wouldn't blink at Horse on the verandah or Mr Nillson dangling from the kitchen beams. He would smile at her upfrontness and her blunders. She would grow sweeter and less self-consumed in His company. He would understand her eagerness to see her father again. For He knew that feeling too.

So you see, there is something about Pippi that I love - there is a freedom and freshness in her that reminds me that He came to me to set me free. Free from sin and self. Free to serve and live.

I'd like to take a page out of Pippi's book and learn to enjoy each day as a gift. A gift from my Father.

(and if you aren't a Pippi-enthusiast - Villa Villekula is the house where Pippi is waiting for her father who has been lost at sea. His last words to her as he was swept off their boat was "See you at Villa Villekula!")