Friday, January 13, 2012

Blogging Break...

...we've officially entered the "I'm not sure if my head is still on straight" phase of moving preparations, so I will be taking a blogging break for the next couple of weeks.   See you back on this space on the other side!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Some Goals and Intentions for 2012

I've finally had time to sit down and articulate some of the things I would like to work on in our family during this coming year.   It's a rather long list, and I may not get to all of them this year.  And that's OK!  Accomplishing at least some of these things will be good.   And I figure better than having them swirl around in my head driving me crazy. =)  So, in no particular order, here they are:

- Work on specific areas of habit/character training. (I have them listed in my personal record, but would rather not publically elaborate on my children's faults.  I mean, you wouldn't like it if I wrote about your faults on my public blog, now would you?!)
- Establish helping with cooking as part of our chore routine.
- Establish a dinner clean-up job for each person as part of our chore routine. (We already do this at breakfast and lunch.)
- Re-establish weekly or biweekly family activity nights.

- Continue to read about whole foods diets and preparation and incorporate those things that I feel will be beneficial to our family into my cooking practice.
- Increase protein content and decrease carbs in our breakfast and snacks.
- Plan ahead for meals on Sundays.

- Incorporate some form of strengthening and conditioning exercise into my routine.
- Establish some computer usage boundaries.

- Keep better records (hence, this blog)
- Do nature study more regularly.

- Brainstorm (and implement!) specific ways that I can support Dan in the issues he struggles with.
- Be more intentional and united in our parenting and family disucssions.

- Study Scriptures and pray daily over areas of sin that are a struggle for me.  (I know what these are!)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Education is....Part Three

Final Installment in a series on our Philosophy of Education.
Education is a life... 
"By “life,” Charlotte wanted to remind us that “all the thought we offer to our
children shall be living though; no mere dry summaries of facts will do" (Vol. 2, p. 277). And the methods that Charlotte used presented each subject's material as living ideas. Here is where reading, writing, and arithmetic come in, along with all the other school subjects. But notice two important points: first, they are presented as living thoughts; and second, those school subjects occupy only one-third of the big picture of education."

So, finally we come to the academics. As a former school teacher, I love planning out the academic program that we will follow for a given year. It's easy for me to spend a lot of time on this, actually, at the expense of atmosphere and discipline at times! So, I appreciate the reminder that academics really only occupy one-third of the big picture. I also love many of the academic methods that Charlotte used in her schools. Among these are:
- the use of living books and excellent literature
- the use of narration or "telling back" in place of workbooks and comprehension questions
- short, focused lessons
- the development of the powers of observation through nature study.

Here is another mom's take on what she loves about Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education.  I could echo many of her reasons, especially #10.
Much has been written already on Charlotte's methods, so I will refer you to the Charlotte Mason Resources page in the sidebar if you'd like to know more.

So there you have it...our philsophy of education in a nutshell. In the weeks to come, I hope to use this space to share with you how we are living these things out in our home.

Quotations taken from Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life, a free e-book available from Simply Charlotte Mason.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Daybook: The 'My-House-Is-Full-of-Boxes' Edition

:: outside my window's dark because it is already evening.  Finally had a cold snap this week (it was 15 F one morning this week!), but back up to 65 today.

:: listening to in the bath.  Funny, that often seems to be the time of day I get a moment to blog...

:: giving thanks for Kindle.  I love how many books I have in one compact place that I can take anywhere with me without taking up any luggage space!

:: pondering... I've been reading Joshua in my quiet time, and have noticed that everytime God sends them off to conquer some new people group He reminds them to be strong and courageous because He is with them.   Very timely and appropriate for us as we head off to something new in a couple of weeks.

:: living the educational life ...We're doing a bit of light school and it went well this past week.  (You can see that post here.)  I want to get our new timeline together to start using this week.  We shall see. 

:: preparing in the kitchen .... Looking for new crockpot recipes.  I am planning to buy a crockpot as soon as we get to France because I think it will be key to our survival, especially on the days when I am the one gone at langauge school all afternoon.  Anyone have a favorite recipe to share?

:: creating by hand ... The kids are really into making "books" right now...if that counts.  Not a lot of creative craftiness going on around here these days...

:: following these links ...Seems like everywhere I read online these days people are talking about their goals and intentions for the year.   A few inspiring examples were here, here, and here.  I have a few ideas of things I would like to work on this coming year swirling around in my head, but need to find some time to get them down in writing.  I don't do well with ideas just swirling around in my head...

:: turning pages ...  We got magazines in the mail this week: World and Homeschooling Today.  I love getting magazines in the mail.

:: finding rhythm ... This week was a little better than last, but it still needs some work.  And probably needs to start with me spending a little less time on the computer....

:: keeping house ... We've culled the ginormous list of Shipment Stuff down to less than 20 items still needed.  Today I bought a whole bunch of kitchen stuff at Target.  Made me wonder what the checker-lady must have been thinking!

:: kiddos this week ... Michelle and James spent a significant portion of the afternoon playing with the pile of plastic Target bags.  Most notable: sleeping bags out of the extra large ones and swimsuits out of the standard size ones.  Who needs toys when you've got plastic bags?!

:: praying ... For grace and patience and strength as we face many transitions in the weeks ahead.

:: planning the week ahead ...  Finish buying/ordering the last few items on the list, so we can pack the shipment stuff and send it over to the shipping office.  Writing: emails, Annual Report, thank you notes.  Find some time to get my goals for the year out on a piece of paper.   Intentionally connect with each child everyday.  French Study everyday.  I'd like to try and finish Rosetta Stone Level 2 before we start our official classes next month.

:: capturing a few moments ...I was serious when I said that my house is full of boxes...
...I promise we won't send Elizabeth to Africa in the slow boat. =)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Week in Review: 6 January 2012

After about 2 weeks off over the holidays, we got back to "school" this week - albeit a very light week.  With Dan doing training at the hangar this week and so many other things needing to get done in preparation for our move in a couple of weeks, we only did a few essential subjects that took around 30 minutes or so each morning (not counting the Bible and reading time that is part of our normal daily routine regardless of whether or not school is in session).    Here's what we did:

- Scripture Memory: We are continuing to work through the section of The Catechism for Young Children about The Lord's Prayer (Questions 105-121) - memorizing the questions, answers, and a go-along Bible Verse for each, in addition to reviewing verses learned in the past. 
- Hymns: We are reviewing and adding the second verses to many of the hymns we learned last year.
- Bible Reading: We are reading from the book of Mark.

Opening "Circle Time"  (Read more about the concept of Circle Time here.)
Daily Readings:
 - Poetry: The Llama that Has No Pajama
 - Arnold Lobel's Fables (so Michelle can gain practice in the art of narration: telling back what she has read or had read aloud to her.)
 - God's World News: Early Edition

Calendar Time:  We started using doing our calendar time in French!  So, we are learning important vocabulary such as the days of the week, months of the year, seasons, weather words, and counting.  As we gain profiency in these, we will add in a vocabulary "theme" for the month to learn more words and phrases.  We are singing a little song to the tune of Mary had a Little Lamb to learn the days of the week which is now stuck in everyone's head.  I suppose this is a good thing (it was the point, right?) but starting to get a little bit annoying.  What did I start?!

Michelle adding the day's weather to the weather chart.

Table Time
This week we focused on just two subjects: Math (reviewing sums to 5 and starting sums to 6) and Cursive.   Michelle LOVES doing cursive and is doing amazingly well.

We started working on the "My Year in France" scrapbook we will continue throughout this coming year by coloring and pasting in a French flag.  

What the Littles Did
Top picks this week were playdough, coloring, and stickers!

Family Reading
- Picture Book Highlights: Obadiah the Bold by Brinton Turkle, a couple Anatole books by Eve Titus, Eloise Wilkin Stories
- Michelle's Reading: Michelle is reading aloud to me from More Days Go By, the third (and final) first-grade level Pathway reader.  We are on track to finish before we leave for France!  She is doing really well with these and is now reading full "chapters" (4-5 pages) in one sitting.
- Bedtime read-aloud: The Thomas the Tank Engine Collection.  This was James' Christmas present, but the whole family (including Papa!!) is enjoying it.

Some Goals and Plans for the Coming Week
- This week I'd like to add a couple more foundational pages to our France scrapbook as well as the framework events to our history timeline [if I have enough time to get it organized this weekend].
- I think we will also add spelling back into our Table Time.
- Michelle has requested that we do a nature walk sometime soon.

For more details about the specific curriculum resources we are using, please visit the Goals and Curriculum link at the top of the sidebar.

Hope you had a good week too!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Best Books of 2011

I have been working through the 2011 Reflection Questions from Simple Mom in bits and pieces over the last few days.  One of the questions was about the best books you read in 2011.  Thought I'd share those here.  So, in no particular order, here you go:

Radical by David Platt
This book was given to us as a gift, and I have to admit I was skeptical at first.  I kind of thought "We're already missionaries, so I don't need to read this."  So, for awhile I didn't.  Dan picked it up eventually and read it and then handed it to me and said "you should read this".  So, I did.  Let's just say it was convicting, and one of the things God used to move us on towards our new ministry assignment.

What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp
This is probably one of the better marriage books I've read, and I've read quite a few.  I appreciated that rather than giving surface fixes (you should have date nights more often, etc) it got to the root of the problems in a marriage.  Most personally convicting to me was selfishness: in order to have a better marriage, I need to die to myself.   Maybe it's not rocket science, but it was what I needed to hear.

Christy by Catherine Marshall
This was a re-read actually, although it had been many years.  Found it in a box that had been in storage.  Wonderful story, with some wonderful insights that spoke to me as we, like Christy, will be stepping out of our comfort zone into a new ministry.

Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
I've already read this one twice, and will probably read it again every year as long as there are littles living in my home.   "What did you Expect?" spoke to me where I was at in my marriage, and this one spoke to me where I was at in my parenting.

Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
Another wonderful novel.  Once I got into this one I had a hard time putting it down because I wanted so badly to know how everything would turn out.

When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper
Another great read about Charlotte Mason education that re-inspired me.  While written from the perspecive of those working in schools, there is much here for the home educator as well.  And actually, as a former school teacher, I found it very interesting to think through how Charlotte Mason's methods could be used in the classroom setting as well.

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
This is the parenting book I wish I had read in the beginning!   I love how he goes beyond just administering consequences, but really helping the child understand the motives behind their actions and their need for a Savior.   He spells out what this looks like at various stages of development as well.  A very thoughtful gift from my Aunt Sandi.

Cycling Home from Siberia by Rob Lilwell
Fascinating travel memoir.   Highly reccommended if you have interest at all in geography or biographies.  I happen to enjoy both.

The Betsy-Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace
I'm planning to read the first 4 Betsy-Tacy (Betsy as a little girl) books to Bethany as read-alouds this coming year, but loved reading the later 6 books (Betsy from 9th grade through her marriage) for myself.  Fun, sweet stories full of the things Betsy learns about herself as she grows up.   (I will admit I still have a passion for reading children's literature!  One of the best parts of homeschooling for me...)

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Education is....Part Two

Part Two in a series on our Philsophy of Education.

Education is a discipline...
"By “discipline,” Charlotte emphasized the importance of training our children in good habits—habits that will serve them well as they grow. In fact, she likened good habits to railroad tracks that parents lay down and upon which the child may travel with ease into his adult life. Good habits are a powerful influence on our children and must play an important part in their education. “It rests with [the parent] to consider well the tracks over which the child should travel with profit and pleasure” (Vol. 1, p.109)."

This next area refers to intentionally disciplining our children and training them in Christian character. Just like building a positive atmosphere, I contend that this is the responsibility of all parents, regardless of what method of education is used. But once again, I appreciate Charlotte's
recognition that this development of good character habits is an important part of the overall education of a child. It reminds me that it is, more than that...VITAL to set aside the to-do list to address important discipline and character issues. All of the facts and knowledge in the world mean little if my children have not developed responsibility, self-control, love for God, and love for other.

Part Three Coming Up: Education is a Life

Quotations taken from Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life, a free e-book available from Simply Charlotte Mason.