Wednesday, September 24, 2014

- Fall Family Fun -

We've just rounded a corner and hit a bit of a slowdown in comparison to our super busy summer.  

On the rare occasion that we were home for part of a weekend over the summer we hermitted and worked on home and yard maintenance that needed to get done. This slow down has been hugely welcomed!  Our most favorite of days are those in which we are able to neglect the to-dos and hit up local festivities!  

For the past couple of years we have enjoyed our local campus' "college days"!  We had fun meeting the school mascot, Norbie...
 jumping in the bouncy house...
 decorating princess crowns...
 and learning yoga (to score some fun blue shades ;)!

We were tempted all morning by the delicious smell of their brat fry, so we enjoyed brats and chili for lunch!  Most fun; however, is having family live so near that we are able to join last minute activities together!  We so love having auntie and uncle and cousin with us; such a gift!

After college days we hit up the local apple orchard. There is something so fun and enchanting about apple orchards.  It was hard to narrow down the pictures as each one shows such personality in each of our girls.
- so bright -

After dinner and baths we broke out Princess Pop-up Game,  aka"Trouble".  We just love Big Miss' reactions to Little Miss' turn taking-ha!  Little Miss ran off every time it wasn't her turn.

Friday, September 12, 2014

- The Gift of Truth in Beauty -

Our little girls love to play dress up ... with as many accessories as they can muster.  They ooooh and ahhhh over anything sparkly, shiny or silky.  They prefer to pick out their own outfits.  They adorn themselves with fancy hair accessories and ask for nails that glitter.  They want sparkly eye powder and "cheek blush" like mommy occasionally wears.

They boldy proclaim, "I'm so beautiful!"

All at once, in response to this seemingly innocent phrase, our parenting hearts both nod in agreement while at the same time lunging for God's truth.

We explain to our precious little girls that they are indeed beautiful, but "it's not because of your twirly dress, your sparkly earrings, your glittering nail polish, or the 7 hair pretties that adorn each of your heads.  It's not even because of your big brown eyes, your thick heads of hair or the delicately scattered freckles that top your nose.  You see, all of those things....the dresses, the princess crowns, the earrings, the nail polish, the hair pretties....those things make you fancy!  It's fun to be fancy and it's okay to dress up and have fun and to feel fancy, but those things do not make you beautiful.  You, sweet girls, are beautiful because God made you! He made you to shine like the stars in the sky.  He made you a heart that is capable; moldable.  It is your heart that makes you beautiful!  When your heart is soft, you are shining radiantly and you are beautiful!

Our dear Big Miss, your heart is full of compassion.  You are giving, sensitive, and empathetic and that makes you beautiful!

Our spunky Little Miss, your heart is full of contagious laughter.  You are helpful and loving and that makes you beautiful!"

Eager to learn, Big Miss and Little Miss listened to our words with care.

We revisit this conversation often, so they know what it means to have a soft heart and to shine like a star.  They also know that a hard heart is an ugly heart.  However, there is comfort in knowing that we can, at anytime, invite the Holy Spirit to help us soften our hearts and restore beauty.  All we have to do is ask and we will be forgiven and made new again.  What a gift!  Most often Big and Little Miss refer to the word fancy to describe their "look".  Though we do still catch them, from time to time, twirling in front of a mirror saying "I'm so beautiful".  We gently remind them, "You are dressed very fancy, but you are beautiful because your heart is full of kindness!" (or any other positive character trait they have recently been displaying)

We pray that knowing God's truth about beauty will continue to be a gift for our girls. 

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.  1 Peter 3:3-4

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.   1 Samuel 16:7

It feels like second nature when commenting on beauty in reference to children to state "what a beautiful dress" or "cute shoes"'!  We do it all that time and while this isn't necessarily super harmful, our words have a very large impact and little ears absorb everything.  We are seeking wisdom to change this habit and instead praise our children's character rather than their outward appearance.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

- Our First Day of Homeschool -

We had a fantastic first day of homeschool!  In some ways it went better than planned and in some ways it didn't go exactly as planned.  We had all been anticipating this day and it was just as fun as we had hoped. We didn't end up following our schedule to a "t" and we didn't get to everything that was planned, but we enjoy the freedom and ability to be flexible with our schedule and to learn at our own pace.

Our current plan is to do "school" Monday through Thursday mornings, leaving Fridays for catch-up or errand running.  We have field trips planned with a local homeschooling group that we area part of, so on those weeks we will move our school day to Friday to accommodate our schedule. 

Speaking of schedule...this is our daily picture routine.  The pieces are laminated and affixed with velcro for easy movement.  The back of the folder is filled with additional pictures that we change out depending on our day.  The girls were really excited about this and enjoyed referencing it throughout our morning.
We wanted to do something fun for our first day so we wrapped school supplies and hid them in our schoolroom for the girls to find!  We were going to do this first thing in the morning on our first day, but The Mr. wanted to be in on the fun too.  The Mr. wants to be very involved in the girls' learning.  He takes every opportunity to teach them about things he enjoys or thinks they would enjoy.  He is always teaching them goofy daddy things like gargling water, but he is also teaching them how to blow bubbles with bubble gum, how to plant and maintain a garden, how certain weather is formed  and the basics of woodworking.  Big Miss really loves to grab a piece of wood, some nails and a hammer and go to it (supervised of course)!  Anyhow, right now The Mr. is working crazy long hours for the next two weeks, including weekends.  He needs to be onsite before the girls wake and until sunset, which means he doesn't get home until after the girls go to bed, so we moved the scavenger hunt to the night before our first day.  It worked out better that way anyways as we were able to start with a more typical looking homeschool morning.

- I spy a present hiding! -

 The Mr. and I each wrote a special letter to the girls in these notebooks! We hope to write letters at the beginning and end of each learning year, for each birthday and whenever we feel we have something special or profound to share with them! Our hope is that one day these notebooks will be a blessing of encouragement for them to take with them when they leave our home.

 School for us takes place in nearly every room of our home.  It takes place  in our yard and in our community.  However, since the girls prefer to share a bedroom at this point we were able to create a "schoolroom" out of Big Miss' old bedroom.  It's such a bright cheery room with a big window so light just pours in on us in the morning!  It felt good this morning to utilize this room and have a dedicated space.  Such joy in discovery has already begun in this space, we can't wait to watch our children blossom and transform into bigger thinkers in our home!

- this is where we hide (store) toys, curriculum and supplies -

We started our day just like any other day, allowing the girls to sleep until their bodies naturally wake...usually before 6am, but sometimes as late as 6:45!  When they wake they snuggle in mommy and daddy's bed for one or two cartoons while mommy and daddy get ready for the day. 

Next we had a special breakfast to celebrate...doughnuts!

While eating breakfast we discussed our "rules"!
Big Miss, being the studious learner she is, took it upon herself to create her own set of rules, which are now proudly hanging on our door.  She told us that her rules say to always be kind!

We jumped on the first day of school photo with a sign bandwagon!  I re-purposed a mirror I had previously purchased at a thrift store for one of the girls birthday parties.  Big Miss wants to be a mommy when she grows up and she also wants to help animals!
- Oh my she looks like a little lady, be still my heart! -
Big Miss suggested we take goofy pics...

- can I get a woot woot! -
Little Miss wants to be a swim teacher when she grows up...she just loved her summer swim instructor!

- this captures her personality so well -
These to adore each other, most of the time, and really dislike being apart.  It is important to us, as their parents, to be able to nurture their sibling relationship.  It was an easy decision for us to keep them together!

It is really important to us that our children's day be immersed in praise and learning about God.  We love their excitement to read the Bible, listen to the Bible on cd, and read our daily "debotional"!

Big Miss just loves playing teacher, she loved every bit of this!  She was also a star student raising her hand and saying "um teacher______" or I'm ready and waiting teacher!  Ha, it was a bit comical and definitely unexpected!

Little Miss did not want to take her backpack off for anything!

The Mrs. spent quite a bit of time preparing these learning binders for the girls.  Praise for the amazing free resources available online!

Oh yeah, meet Mocha!  Dan's coworker found out about Clementine's tragic passing and mentioned that she had rescued three kittens and was looking for homes for all of them.  We decided to take Mocha for a trial day and fell in love.  She is the sweetest most tolerant kitten...tolerant of Little Miss' not so delicate love! Above, the girls are drawing clothes on a body that are supposed to match the was hot and sunny, but they decided snowpants would be much more fun and "propriate" since "we want snow to come tomorrow"!

 "Mommy some pictures really need goofy faces." said in a very serious voice

Lisa Frank still delivers on fun color folders after all these years-The Mrs. was remincising!  The girls were given the option to free play or go outside for recess, but they choose to draw with their new supplies!

Tea party, snack and read aloud all in one!  We love our local library and get all of our read aloud books from it.  We go once a week and come home with no less than twenty books each time!  So grateful the girls love to sit and listen to stories!

We are using Handwriting without Tears for our writing curriculum.  The Mrs. used this when she taught in public school and enjoys it's simplistic, engaging and effective program.

It was fun to ask the girls these questions...

Still reeling in what was such a beautiful day!  We had a leisurely morning, did school from about 8-10:30, brought the van for an oil change and while we were waiting for it to be done had a special lunch out.  Then we went to our favorite park and relished in it's nearly emptiness; in the summer it is always so packed!  Next we came home and the girls napped until 4:30pm...they were exhausted.

Homeschooling is a new lifestyle for our family.  There are times when doubt and insecurity sneak their way in, but we know that at this point in time this lifestyle is a gift for us.  It is a gift that we are grateful to have been called to discover. We have the joyous opportunity to witness our children as they grasp new concepts for the first time.  We are gifted with the ability to tailor our children's education to their individual learning styles and interests.  Our children are gifted with the ability to ask as many questions as they want and to comment and share as much as they want.  We are gifted with time.  Time to simply be with them, love on them and encourage them.  We can't wait to unwrap all that our homeschool journey entails.