"Mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them." ~Charlotte Mason

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Eve Eve service

One of our pastors spoke today about the meaning of Christmas (okay this was no surprise since it's Christmas Eve-Eve). Instead of the traditional Birth of Christ passage from Luke 2, Dr. David McKinley taught from Hebrews 12:1-2. (This was the 2nd in a 3 part series):

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NIV)

I have read this passage many times, yet today I gleaned new truths from it. Have you ever been caught in tangly weeds? We get them down by the lake in the summer, long vines with thorns on them. If you accidentally walk through them, you're stuck! Escaping requires precision and patience, or you end up quite scratched and frustrated!

Do I really throw off the things that hinder, and/or the sin that so easily entangles? Sometimes, honestly, it is easier to just remain entangled. Even when I do escape it, I don't know that I really throw it off. Sometimes it's more like I sneak away when I think it's not looking. Actually throwing something off, especially if it's tangled and thorny, implies a violent action. And sometimes I just don't want to put in the effort. But I need to be leaning on Christ, and allowing his Holy Spirit inside of me to do the work. I guess I just...lose focus.

Also, I was reminded that the only race I have to worry about is the one that is marked out for me. And I am to run it with perserverance. Endurance. Excellence. I think I am really missing the mark here... I have always been like Aesop's hare of Tortoise infamy, I run quickly ahead, then lie on the side of the road and take a nap. That's not how a race is run. Every runner knows you are supposed to establish a steady rhythm, a pace, and stick to it. I am praying for a steady pace.

Dr. McKinley taught at length about what it means that Jesus is the author (originator, founder) and perfecter (finisher) of our faith. Our faith comes from Christ - it originates with him. But also it is he who completes our faith. Without Christ, our faith is imperfect, unfinished. Through Christ we are complete. The Greek word used in the text for "perfecter" is totelestai meaning paid in full. This was a common term used in the marketplace when a transaction of goods occurred. Through Christ, our sins are paid in full, because "for the joy set before him [he] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." In fact, the same word, totelestai, is what Christ said when he died. It is often translated, "It is finished" but it could also be translated, "Paid in full."

I pray you realize, this Christmas, that Christ has stamped "Paid in full" on your life, washing away your sins and opening up the gates of heaven for you. All you need do is accept this free gift of salvation, turn from your sins and follow Him. Your life will never be the same.

Because Christ has paid it all,
1. I have nothing to complain about this Christmas. (Nothing - I really messed up here!)
2. I need not compare myself with those around me.
3. I cannot improve upon what Christ has done for me.

Dr. McKinley closed with this "Christmas song," which isn't a Christmas carol at all, but a familiar hymn, "Jesus Paid It All":

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.


And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.


Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.


When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.


And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Clay Christmas Ornaments

I recently received the below recipe for Clay Christmas Ornaments from a friend in our homeschool group, and decided we would make them today. Here is the conversation that followed:
ME: Guess what, girls! We are going to use the oven to make some special Christmas decorations today!

LIL YODA: Ooh! Mommy! We should make the Decoration of Independence!

...We haven't actually reached that point in history, we have only gotten as far as Captain John Smith, so I let it slide. She must have learned the term from watching National Treasure the other night. ;)


We had a lot of fun making these ornaments. This recipe made about 10 ornaments. I must warn you that this is a very long, all day sort of project. After prepping the "batter" we spent about 1 1/2 hours shaping the ornaments, then baked them, cooled them, and spent another hour, at least, painting them. Then they had to dry. Then the varnish and more drying time. Then we flipped them, varnished the back, and waited again. We started about 10 this morning and finished about 6 this evening. (OK we played a lot in between but you get the picture! The point is that this project took over my kitchen for the whole day - just thought I'd warn you.) The results were definitely worth it though!

Here's the recipe, from http://www.teachartathome.com/ :

Christmas Clay Ornaments

Supplies:

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
water
tempera paints, various colors
paintbrush
clear nail polish, polyurethane or liquid floorwax for glazing
yarn or ribbon

1. Mix together the flour, salt and enough water to make a smooth, soft dough that is not sticky. (If it is sticky, add a little bit more flour).

2. You can either add tempera paints to the clay to create various colors or wait until after the ornaments are hard to paint them. (Creating colored clay is better for younger children who can't paint well).

3. Be sure to create a hole as your last step using a small paintbrush handle.

4. Bake ornaments on a baking sheet that has been dusted with flour for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, or until hard but not heavily browned.

5. If you used white dough only, paint with tempera paints when cooled.

6. When the paint is dry, brush with one of the following glazing mediums to make it shiny: clear nail polish, polyurethane varnish or liquid floor wax. (This step works well wiht the colored dough, but it may cause paints to run if painted after baked. That is only the case, however, if the glazing medium is put on too heavily or brushed a lot). Allow to dry thoroughly. Turn over and glaze the back too. Allow to dry.

7. String with a loop of yarn or ribbon for hanging.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quote Party

Our Charlotte Mason book club hosted a party tonight, and we were each to bring a bookmark or ornament displaying a Charlotte Mason quote. This was a fun, new and inexpensive way to do a Christmas party, and we all enjoyed our monthly Starbucks and CM discussion.

I have included some of the quotes below. You'll notice the blatant disregard for proper bibliographical formatting, and complete lack of specific book & page number references. Tough. If you need the reference, Google it.

The quote I brought, on a little pink bookmark:
"All beautiful and noble possibilities are present in everyone."

The quote I received, inside a cookie-cutter Christmas ornament:
"Nourish a child daily with loving, right, and noble ideas...which may bear fruit in his life."

Several chose the "CM Motto":
"I am . . . a child of God, a gift to my parents and my country. I'm a person of great value because God made me.
I can . . . do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God has made me able to do everything required of me.
I ought . . . to do my duty to obey God, to submit to my parents and everyone in authority over me, to be of service to others, and to keep myself healthy with proper food and rest so my body is ready to serve.
I will . . . resolve to keep a watch over my thoughts and choose what's right even if it's not what I want."

A few of my favorite CM quotes, way too long for a bookmark:
"The idea that vivifies teaching. . . is that 'Education is a Science of Relations;' by which phrase we mean that children come into the world with a natural [appetite] for, and affinity with, all the material of knowledge; for interest in the heroic past and in the age of myths; for a desire to know about everything that moves and lives; about strange places and strange peoples; for a wish to handle material and to make; a desire to run and ride and row and do whatever the law of gravitation permits. Therefore. . . we endeavor that he shall have relations of pleasure and intimacy established with as many possible of the interests proper to him; not learning a slight or incomplete smattering about this or that subject, but plunging into vital knowledge, with a great field before him which in all his life he will not be able to explore. In this conception we get that 'touch of emotion' which vivifies knowledge, for it is probably that we feel only as we are brought into our proper vital relations."

"The child's mind is not a blank slate, or a bucket to be filled. It is a living thing and needs knowledge to grow. As the stomach was designed to digest food, the mind is designed to digest knowledge and needs no special training or exercises to make it ready to learn."

"'Thou hast set my feet in a large room' should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking -- the strain would be too great -- but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest... The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?"

Update: I forgot my favorite one, but found it in Javamom's review of our evening:
"Mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them."

Friday, November 30, 2007

From Lil Yoda's Exam

Lil Yoda performed very well on her exams this term. Below is the poem by William Blake that she memorized.



The Little Lamb

Little lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead?
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, wooly bright.
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice.
Little lamb, who made thee?
Does thou know who made thee?

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee.
Little lamb, I’ll tell thee.
He is called by thy name
For he calls himself a lamb.
He is meek and he is mild
For he became a little child.
I a child and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little lamb, God bless thee.Little lamb, God bless thee.



And her narration on William Shakespeare:

William Shakespeare wrote lots of plays. He lived at the time of Queen Elizabeth. The old plays were boring but these plays had more talent, like A Midsummer Night’s Dream or The Taming of the Shrew or Romeo and Juliet. Not all of those have happy endings.

Like in Romeo and Juliet. Romeo died because he thought that Juliet had died but it was just poison, and the poison that Juliet had dranken only lasted for a little while, so that the other person that she was supposed to marry would think she died and then she could marry Romeo. But Romeo thought she died and he actually died. So Juliet killed herself.

Shakespeare performed his plays at the Globe Theater. There was a secret trap door on the stage so that the people could appear from nowhere. And there was a secret trap door up on top so that the people could be flying.

Shakespeare was born in the 15s [1500s], somewhere. He lived in Europe.

The people that were performing onstage at the Globe Theater sometimes said, “Hello,” three times. But the people that weren’t onstage didn’t know why. They said, “Hello,” three times because there were three places there. The people with cushions had to pay three pennies, the people with no cushions had to pay two pennies, and the people with no seat had to pay one penny to get in. But it’s not like that nowadays. Nowadays we like to sit around and listen to the plays, and laugh at an inside theater. The Globe Theater had no top, so therefore it was an outside theater. So they couldn’t perform when it was rainy or when it was snowing or when there was a thunderstorm.

From Padme's Term Exams

We completed our Term Exams Thanksgiving week. I thought I'd post a couple of excerpts here. The exam is several pages long, and Padme did a fantastic job! I am always amazed at how much detail the kids are able to retain, based on Charlotte Mason's education methods. We use the http://www.amblesideonline.org/ curriculum.



The poem Padme memorized, by William Blake:



Piping down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee
On a cloud I saw a child
And he, laughing, said to me,

“Pipe a song about a lamb.”
So I piped with merry cheer.
“Piper, pipe that song again!”
So I piped. He wept to hear.

“Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read,”So he vanished from my sight,
And I plucked a hollow reed.

And I made a rural pen
And I stained the water clear
And I wrote my happy songs,
Every child may joy to hear.



And her narration on Christopher Columbus:

There was once upon a time a boy named Christopher Columbus. He believed the world was round and not flat. To prove that he was right, he decided to go west into the water, around the world, and come to the eastern land of India.

So he went to Portugal because he knew they were fond of finding new places, but the king would not listen to him. The king sent, secretly, his own party of ships to go and try this out.

So Christopher Columbus went to Spain, right next to Portugal. But they were in a war and could not listen to him right now. So he just waited. And then he decided to go back to Spain. Hearing that their war was over, he went back. This time the king and queen loved the idea, and gave him three small ships that were easy to find. But the crew? Not so easy! Nobody wanted to go out into the so-called deathly waters! So his crew ended up being criminals, murderers, people who have been in prison! Their choice was either to go sailing with Columbus or to go to prison. And they chose sailing.

But instead of finding India, he found Haiti, which is an island off the coast of America. He thought this was India, because the people didn’t look like Chinese people. They looked different, so he thought they were Indians.

Then he went back home and everybody started going there, and nobody thought he was important anymore. So Columbus held a meeting and he told the servant to bring them some eggs. When the eggs were brought, Columbus said, “All of you try to make this egg stand up.” Everyone tried, but none of them could.

Finally, it was Columbus’ turn. He quickly took the bottom of the egg and smashed it gently on the table so that the bottom was flat and it stood up perfectly. Everyone thought how easy that was, and that they could have done that. And Columbus said, “Of course, now that I have shown you!”

And then everybody hung their heads, because they knew what this was attached to.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

End of Semester Projects

Below are some of our End of Semester projects for our co-op. We also had a program Friday night, and Baloo danced a swing number (throwing his aunt/dance partner all over the place!), Padme did a dance and cheer with her Cheers and Cartwheels class, and both girls performed in a rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream. What a fun night!
This is Lil Yoda's project on California, and her project on Canine Heroes.













These are Padme's igloo and her painting of the Sego lily, the state flower of Utah.









Knowing the will of God

I much enjoyed our sermon on Sunday. Our pastor, Jack Graham, discussed the ever-present question: How do I know the will of God? His main point was that "the Holy Spirit leads us to know and do the will of God confidently, every day." I will attempt to summarize his message.

We know we are to follow Christ & listen for God's voice through the Holy Spirit, but how do we hear God's voice? Pastor Graham said we can hear God's voice through His Word, and by walking with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 says, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Oh, how I do desire to keep in step with the Spirit! It's just that my feet are so clumsy and slow...

The Will Of God sometimes seems so elusive, the unicorn that we chase after but can never catch. We wonder, daily, a million things...

Should I buy that new car? Take that job in Atlanta? Marry that man? Let my kids see that movie? Stay home sick today? Vaccinate my children? Buy a dog?

And on and on, ad infinitum. Dr. Graham gave 3 tips that he uses every day:

1. Offer your life to Christ each day. Even if you did it years ago, you should daily surrender and yield your life to Christ. Recognize the Lord's presence & reign in you. (Romans 12:1, Matthew 6:33)

2. Open your heart each day to new possibilities. God's will may not be what you expected. (Proverbs 4:18)

3. Obey the will of God that you know, and wait on the rest. Sometimes you must obey, and perfect, the step you are on, before you can move to the next one. He gave an illustration that apparently there is always much discussion in golf over which shot is the most important - the long drive or the putt. When reporters asked Jack Nicklaus what was the most important shot in golf, his reply was, "The next one!" This certainly applies to our lives. We may not know what God wants us to do next week, but we do know what we are to do in the next five minutes. Sometimes we must just do what we know for now, and wait for the rest to be revealed.

Here he reminded us that, if you fail, you should repent and move on!

Pastor Graham also gave us 10 ways to test every decision. I think these are golden!

1. Is it in accord with the moral will of God? (1 Thess. 4:3)
2. Is it in harmony with the commands, the truths and the principles of God's Word?
3. Have I sought Godly advice? (Proverbs 15:22, Romans 12:2)
4. Does it help me fulfill the Great Commandment (Matthew 22: 37-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in my life?
5. How will it affect my immediate relationships?
6. Will the ultimate outcome of my decision bring glory to God?
7. Will the result of my decision be in keeping with my priorities?
8. What is my motivation?
9. Am I totally committed to whatever, whenever, however God leads me?
10. Do I have true peace in this decision? (Note: Sometimes faith is required & we may not have total peace, yet we still have true peace.)

I love my church!! And I thank God that his mercies are new every morning...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Words of the Day

It seems I really do learn something new every day. Below are two words I learned today while listening to my children playing outside:

1) Acornia - n. An acorn anomaly in which two acorn tops are stuck together end to end. Commonly used as an instrument by Webkinz.

2) Yorkie Strider - n. A breed of horse known to be very fast. Breed standards include blondish-brown hair, brown eyes, a yellow torso and black rump that suspiciously resembles a Bumblebees soccer uniform.

This is what Charlotte Mason meant by masterly inactivity.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Lil Yoda's Special Day

Praise be to God!!! Lil Yoda was baptized today, as a testimony to her acceptance of Christ as her savior over a year ago. She has wanted to be baptized for quite some time, so we are glad she was able to do so today.

Thank you to all of our friends and family who came to make this day special for Lil Yoda. Having you all there meant a great deal to her.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for offering salvation as a free gift to all who would turn from their sins and follow you. I pray your blessings upon this, our youngest child, as she makes this first public profession of her faith in you. I pray it would be the first step in a life of obedience to you. Thank you for sharing her with us.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Back from Colorado!


I haven't posted in a couple of weeks because we took a vacation to Colorado. My parents went with us, and we had a fabulous time! Here are a few pictures.

We enjoyed our outings - horseback riding through the mountains, a visit to the local wildlife park and a trip to Durango, including a store with a huge teepee out front and an elk ranch (elk jerky - yum!!) & Mesa Verde, the ruins of ancient Indian cliff dwellings - but we actually never had to leave the condos! There was plenty to do right there at "home" - from just enjoying the beauty of the mountains and the lake to feeding (& chasing) the geese and ducks. (Canadian geese, Padme informed me. And mallards.) And more!

We played golf and miniature golf at the condos, took several craft classes and yoga at the condos, the guys worked out and we went swimming in the local rec center. We never made it to the hot springs right there in Pagosa Springs. Maybe next time. But we had our own personal gynormous (Lil Yoda's word) jacuzzi on the first floor of our 3 bedroom condo! We love our timeshare!!!

The "cliff dwellings" seen above are villages actually built into the sides of cliffs by the Indians of Mesa Verde 1,000 years ago. They have been deserted for hundreds of years, no one knows why. The architecture was truly amazing! I highly recommend a visit if you are ever near the Durango area.

We are back on schedule now, and in the swing of regular life again! We have a pretty busy couple of weeks coming up with co-0p coming to a close for the semester.

We rushed back from CO, arriving home at 3:30 am last Thursday night/Friday morning, so Padme could cheer in our co-op's homecoming football game Friday afternoon. She did a fantastic job!

Then we had a homecoming dance that night, for which King Louie was the deejay (the teenagers love him) and Jubilee chaperoned. The girls were at a birthday party so we all had a busy day and were exhausted all weekend! In fact, we are still recovering and are excited about the extra hour of sleep tomorrow night! We had a wonderful vacation and are so thankful for the opportunity to rest and enjoy the beauty of God's creation.

...and I think to myself...what a wonderful world!

Why don't I live in Colorado? There's just something relaxing about waking up to see mountains every morning. A reminder that there is something bigger than you, I suppose. If you live there, I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Padme is 9!!!


Padme's 9th birthday was Sunday. We had a wonderful weekend with family and friends, including a birthday party at the horse ranch where they used to take riding lessons. It was a beautiful day at Four Fillies Farm!





The blonde transformation is courtesy of the Hannah Montana wig given to her by her sweet brother. :)

We are so blessed to have Padme in our family. She is inquisitive and quick-witted, friendly and caring, and she keeps us all on our toes! The Lord has gifted her in so many ways, and we so enjoy watching her grow into a beautiful, kind-hearted young lady who loves the Lord. We are so thankful God chose to give Padme to us, and we enjoy each year with her more than the last.
Happy birthday, sweetheart!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sharkarosa Ranch

We had a fabulous field trip today to Sharkarosa Ranch's homeschool days. We enjoyed petting various wild animals, a bounce house and train ride, and a safety class by the local Sheriff's office. We learned about animal tracks and wildflowers as well. The weather was absolutely perfect and the girls and I had such a nice time together. I hope you enjoy these pictures.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Personality Insights

We went to a wonderful seminar this weekend that explained the different personality types. We have done these assessments before, and I am always eager to reassess & see how I have (or haven't) grown.

Basically, all people are split into 4 basic personality types. Most people are a blend of several different types, and most people can change as their environment demands. That's okay - that's what Christ did!

The two questions to ask are :
1) Are you more outgoing or more reserved? (Dh likes better the question, Do you tell (outgoing) or do you ask (reserved)?)
2) Are you more task-oriented or more people oriented?

From these 2 questions, you have 4 different categories of personalities:

1) D- Outgoing & task oriented
2) I- Outgoing & people oriented
3) S-Reserved & people oriented
4) C-Reserved & task oriented

Thus, the DISC method.

Here's what we discovered:

King Louie is a D/IS personality. This means he is primarily a Driver, Doer, Dominant type. Secondly he is Inspiring and thirdly he is Supportive, Sensitive and Stable. Actually his I & S were almost equal. This is not particularly surprising.

Jubilee is an ID/S personality. My I (have fun, be the star) ranks just below my D (take control, conquer the world). I was excited that I showed some S (sensitive, care about people) this time. I had none last time I did this assessment, about 3 years ago, and have been praying I would have more mercy and be better able to show love to people.

Eragon tested as an S/IC personality. So mainly he is stable and easy to please. Secondly he is fun-loving and thirdly he likes order. I thought his secondary trait would be D, but I have been told that a frustrated S often appears as a D. S's like everyone to be happy, they like to maintain the peace & the status quo. When that doesn't happen, they sometimes get frustrated & D-ish symptoms come out (i.e. being bossy & yelling). Still, he is a teller, not an asker, so I don't know whether the assessment was entirely accurate here. I am betting his were all pretty close together - haven't seen his graph yet.

Padme tested as an S/IC as well. I think this is pretty accurate of her. She does like stability and tends to be sensitive (that's the S). She is a performer (that's the I) and also likes things in order (that's the C). The graph shows her S as "very high" and her I & C even with each other, and above average. What's interesting about this report is that it shows your basic tendencies (listed here) and how you adapt to your environment. According to this, Padme easily pulls up her D, and just as easily pulls down her I and C when needed. I think this is very true. She can be quite bossy when she thinks she's right, she is level headed and pulls out of fun if it's too risky, and she has probably learned to live with disorder because she lives in my house.

Lil Yoda tested an S/C. She actually tested a very high S, and her D, I and C were all almost even, and pretty average. She tends to push her I way up as needed in her environment, and pulls her D and C down. Her S always stays up. That's good, I think. That tells me she always cares about people, no matter the situation. I think this accurately describes Lil Yoda. She really does care about people, and is very resistant to change.

This has been an enlightening assessment, overall. I do think the younger 2 may still be a bit young to test accurately, but still the insight is helpful.

Besides helping you understand yourself, the kids' assessments also provided help for the parents and teachers. The teen assessment also included career recommendations. Very cool.

Tonight we go to bed understanding each other better. :) Very very cool.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Motivation

Our piano teacher (go Mr. Truk!) informed us today that the kids will have a recital in March.

On a $70-$90,000 (at least) Steinway piano.

{{What?!?!?!? Does he have any idea what my Bundles of Joy could do to a $90,000 piano? I learned long ago never to underestimate my children, especially that One. But I digress.......}}

As for the Littluns, they were semi-impressed with the recital idea (sort of a vague concept, you understand) but when he started talking money, they began to get excited! They are already planning what they want to play.

Now this is a good teacher. Motivation is often the key, isn't it?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Productivity

We had a very productive day. We finished our schoolwork. I did the laundry and cleaned up the house. (The kids used to do all of our laundry & housework, but I have discovered this year that I have more time than they, so I have taken over).

My favorite part was that we all spent about an hour playing with Lil Yoda's Disney karaoke machine. Well, it's not really a full-blown machine. It's actually a souped-up microphone that has all the karaoke stuff programmed into it. You can just plug it into your regular tv and go!

Daddy was home trying to work but came to join in the fun when he heard (and couldn't escape) our singing and laughter. We have a regular karaoke machine as well, but this Disney one allows you to change your voice. It does a deep & scratchy "dragon" voice that sounds like Ursula the Sea Witch, a deep horse voice that sounds like Barry White, a medium but-still-not-yours voice, and a tiny mouse voice. We had such a great time; I'm glad Lil Yoda dug this out of the garage.

Lil Yoda and I fixed a wonderful dinner together using one of the recipes she learned in her cooking class: Tex Mex Tarts. Padme saw us bustling about the kitchen and came to help out as well. We love to cook together! I have posted the recipe below.

After dinner we watched tv (this is an out of the ordinary Treat) and read The Last Battle, the final installment of the Narnia books. This was a very tense episode, when Tash comes to Narnia and Cair Paravel has been taken by the Carlormenes. I could have kept reading until I came to a more warm-and-fuzzy part of the story, but I know the doubt and tension of the delay will only add to their enjoyment when the story comes to its victorious conclusion!

I put the girls to bed and we sang and laughed and prayed. Their spirits lightened again by the power of the Almighty God, they sang themselves to sleep.

I didn't accomplish many of the things on my List today. I have much work to do still, and it is midnight already. I have papers to grade and lessons to prepare for co-op. I have research to do for the coming week. I'd like to take a bath.

But I had a very productive day.

I hope you all enjoyed an equally wonderful day. I love my job.

Here's the recipe:

TEX MEX TARTS

1 Roll of Fillo Bread (2 come in a pack but we only used one)
Taco Meat
Beans
Rice
Sour Cream
Shredded Cheese
Salsa
And Whatever Else You Want As Garnish!

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare taco meat and rice according to package directions. Warm beans over the stove.

Unroll the Fillo bread onto a cutting board. Carefully peel off 5 layers of Fillo & set the rest aside. Using a pizza cutter, cut the Fillo bread into 8 pieces (Lil Yoda says the are supposed to be Pop-Tart sized).

Get out a muffin tin. Each of the 8 sections of 5 Fillo bread pieces will be placed in a muffin tin to make a cup, but Lil Yoda says you can't just lay them in all together. You have to separate the pieces and lay each of the 5 pieces into the muffin tin individually, overlapping one another in sort of a star pattern, so that it will look prettier.

Once you have 8 cups of your muffin tin filled (with 5 pieces of Fillo each) you can peel off 5 more Fillo sheets and repeat the process. We filled 4 muffin tins with just that one roll of Fillo.

Sidenote: We don't have four muffin tins. However we have 2 muffin tins and 2 heart-shaped muffin tins so we used those. The heart shaped ones really ended up being too small but oh well...

Another Sidenote: At this point, Mom apparently did not look very busy, as the girls were doing the Fillo work. Lil Yoda therefore informed Mom that, "We are supposed to be cleaning the kitchen as we go, so you can go ahead and sweep the floor, wipe the counters and wash out the sink...stuff like that." Apparently this is what they do in her Cooking Class, so I dutifully begin to clean up.

Once you have all of your muffin tins filled, bake them at 350 for 5 minutes. When they are finished, take them out and display them on a pretty platter. Or, in our case, a cutesy beach platter because that's the one the girls picked.

Yell for everyone else to come eat dinner. After no response, yell again. If still no response, send the short people to get the others and tell them it is Dinner Time. As you wait for everyone else to come, let the Littluns put a pretty tablecloth on the table. And candles, if you have time.

When they arrive (at our house this is at least five minutes later and the food threatens to be too cold) let everyone fill their own Fillo cups with Taco meat, beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa and rice.

Enjoy!!!

A Sleepy Day

for the pets at least...



Diego



and Mary (in the Groovy Girls house).

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Send Bibles

View this video about the persecuted church around the world. Go to www.wildershow.com and click on Send Bibles to help.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Challenge vs. Frustration

In education, a fine line exists between challenging a child and frustrating a child. The only way to find the balance is to truly know the child.

In one of our co-op classes, I co-teach a class with 23 students. Ten or so are freshmen, five or so sophomores and juniors, and one senior. With such diversity, we have such a difficult task finding assignments that are challenging to all, yet not frustrating to any.

Is this possible?

Isn't this why we homeschool to begin with, so we can tailor our learning to the specifications, the bent, of the child? I suppose the best solution is to modify the workload.

In a co-op setting, just as in a school setting, we release some of our rights, our control, over our children's education. This is one of those instances.

If only we had more time, more hours in the day, or at least more hours of class time, we could do so much better. But a co-op is truly a partnership between parent and teacher. We just have to pray God will give the parents the wisdom to see what their own children need, and provide as He always does.

How did Laura Ingalls Wilder do it?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Locks of Love

I am mailing hair. No joke. I am physically putting hair in the mail and sending it to someone.

Why, you ask?

For the second time in their short lives, my little girls are donating their hair to Locks of Love. This summer we cut around 15 inches each off of their hair, and we are sending it to Locks of Love so they can use it to make wigs for children with cancer.

I love the joy with which children give. A joyful heart truly is good medicine.

Little Lamb of God

Little lamb of God,
Little lamb of God,
Little lamb of God.

You were born a lamb
And I was born a child.
He was both.
We are blessed.

Little lamb of God
Do you know how blessed you are?
To be a lamb is great.
To be a lamb is great.

~~Posted by Lil Yoda

Ode to Cocoa



We're on our way up a narrow path,
Only taking our living things with us.

One of our belongings has raced ahead of us
And reached the gate before we did
And started a new life up in heaven.

Though we miss her very much
We know she will no longer suffer
On the graveled road that leads there!

(This poem is based on my dog Cocoa who died on Sept 17, 2007 and was born on Dec 7, 1997, almost ten when she died.)

~~Posted by Padme

Refreshing

This week were blessed to babysit for my lifelong friend's 3 & 5 yo children. We had such a wonderful day doing preschool activities, playing dress-up, playing cars & planes, working puzzles and cooking in the pretend kitchen.

This is such a fun age. Those of you with preschoolers, enjoy them! There will soon come a day when all problems can not be solved with a popsicle, and kissing it no longer makes it better. These are precious years and they pass so quickly.

What a refreshing day! Thank to my dear friend for sharing your sweet little blessings with us!



Monday, September 17, 2007

Co-op classes

We love our co-op. We get together with the 100 families who are our closest friends (ok so I don't know some of them) once a week and exchange teaching skills. I teach what I'm good at, and others teach what they are good at, and the kids get all the benefit. We have really developed some good friendships there, and we look so forward to our 10 weeks in the fall and 10 weeks in the spring! We are going on Week 3.

Here is a list of what my kids are taking at co-op this year:

My eldest is in 9th grade this year so he has no fun classes, only credit classes:

Chemistry (he has already taken Biology and IPC/General Science - 2-3 hours homework each week)
American Government (2-3 hours homework each week)
Precepts (this is a Bible study class with 2-3 hours of homework each week)
Humanities (multi-credit class that combines History, Lit, Art & Music Appreciation - 8-10 hours of homework each week)

Padme, 3rd grade:
Traveling the American Road (taught by her Grandma)
Shake It Up Shakespeare (taught by her sweet Momma)
Make It Medieval (a crafts class - last week she came home with a flag)
Cheers & Cartwheels
Extreme Weather (again taught by Grandma)

Lil Yoda, 2nd grade:
Traveling the American Road
Shake It Up Shakespeare
Fun With Cooking (if you knew her you would not be surprised)
Once Upon a Story
Extreme Weather

I teach Humanities with 2 other ladies, and I also teach the Shakespeare class (1st-3rd grade) and a Movies As Literature class called Thumbs Up (9th-12th grade). Plus I get to help with preschool, which is the highlight of the whole day.

All of this makes for a very fun, very exhausting day. But also fun. And exhausting.

Of course we do many other subjects at home, that are not part of co-op. We follow the Ambleside Online curriculum, although we have deviated somewhat to avoid overlap with subjects covered at co-op. Our at-home subjects include Bible, English, handwriting, math, critical thinking, character study, art, artist & composer studies, home economics, hymns, folk songs, nature study, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian and whatever else sounds really fun. We do a lot of reading around our house.

Admittedly, homeschooling is a lot of work. But it's also a lot of fun. Besides, what better things do I have to do for the next 10 years?

Pets

A thread running through a yahoo group I'm on is asking us to talk about our pets. I thought you guys might also want to know what other craziness exists in our home, besides the adorable Littluns.

We are, in fact, downsizing in the pet department. My rule is that all kids get to stay, but pets have to tow the line if they want to stay. I run a pretty tight ship - in the pet department anyway. Sometimes I don't even give three strikes before they're out.

First, you will all be glad to know that we got rid of Ashley Bonnie, the dog who tried to eat my daughter's face last winter.





We loved that dog but you have to draw the line somewhere. (That is a story for another post. I learned a lot of valuable information about dog bites. After the fact, of course. And she didn't really try to eat her face, she actually bit her on the lip, but it's all the same to me!) Too bad. Other than that incident, she was the best dog we ever had.

OK, so we replaced that dog with another, but the new dog weighs about 60 pounds less so, the way I see it, we're still ahead. More on that later...

Our cocker spaniel, Cocoa Evangeline, turned out not to be lake material. She kept getting burrs the size of quarters in her long fur, and she loved to find dead fish and roll in them. Why are dogs so weird?




When the burrs were so bad that her ear was folded in half and stuck together, I started looking for other options. My mother-in-law adopted Cocoa earlier this summer, and she loves being part of their family. Plus, we still get to visit. She also was a weird dog - she had an obsession with our fish tank, and would sit for hours and watch the fish swim. Apparently she now obsesses over their guinea pig, so she's happy.


We gave away our adorable lop-eared bunny a couple of years ago to a sweet friend, before he got really huge. (The bunny, not the friend. The friend is a girl. And not huge).

Of course, we immediately replaced the Little Bunny Boo-Boo with 2 kittens (who turned into cats, it's true, but honeslty you hardly ever see them so, if you count by Hours They Are In The Way, they barely count at all).

Finally, our lion fish has some barbaric tendencies and keeps killing the other fish with his poisonous barbs. I think he's killed about 12. As of yesterday he is now King of the Hill. We really thought we were safe as long as we got fish who were too big for his mouth. Turns out he kills just for fun. Sicko. He even killed the shrimp & tried to eat it. He couldn't get the shrimp to fit so its claws are hanging out of his mouth. He eventually spit it out because, duh, it has an exoskeleton! Fish are so dumb.

So...that leaves us with 2 dogs (Beau Antonio, a 140 pound lab and Diego Alejandro Frisco Pasado Laredo, a 4 pound chihuahua, guess who's in charge?), 2 cats (Mary Kate and Jackie, but you'll probably never see them if you come over) and 1, read it again, 1 fish (Aslan, who the kids have decided is actually a Devil fish and needs a new name. Aslan seemed to fit because he's a lion fish but that was before we knew him).

Imho, you can't really count all the critters that my kids are forever coming home with, or the snake I killed in the garage last week (btw an axe works way better than a shovel - why do they always tell you to get a shovel?) because they aren't pets. They're more like experiments.

I keep trying to get dh to let me buy one of my dear friend's shih tzu pups, but he says we have to charge admission if we get anymore pets. Ooh, but now that the fish are depleted maybe he'd reconsider...

I really need help.
Update: We just received word that Cocoa died today. Apparently she started getting sick and just died. She was nearly 10, not terribly old for a small dog. We will miss this sweet little dog! For all her quirks (she had plenty) she really was a sweet girl...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Three Detectives

Three Little Detectives. Left to right: Detective F-Meier (Lil Yoda), Detective E-Meier (Padme) and Detective S-Meier (KMe).

Never leave children unsupervised around makeup.

Here's the video introduction:

video

Where do they come up with this stuff?

Safety Town

I must tell you about an exciting field trip we went on this week. A nearby city has built a huge complex called Safety Town. In the main building are classrooms, a fire engine & wall of fire tools, etc. (and of course a gift shop where we dropped $20 for Safety Town t-shirts). Outside is a complete, miniature town designed to teach the kids about safety issues.



From their website:

"The complex consists of an 8,000 square foot Educational Facility alongside a miniature outdoor town which has 24 buildings, created on a 5/8th scale, that represents area businesses and homebuilders. Intermingled with the buildings are paved and marked streets, complete with working traffic signals, a railroad crossing and a toll booth."


Each year, the public school kids (and other school groups for miles around) visit safety town, and learn about different things. We went to the third grade class about Bicycle Safety. After class, the kids got to ride bikes (provided) through safety town! It was really a lot of fun. Other classes offered at Safety Town include 9-1-1 and Emergency Safety (Kindergarten), Motor Vehicle, School Bus and Pedestrian Safety (this is the first grade class, and they get to ride Jeeps around Safety Town), Fire Safety (second grade - the kids are in a "house" that starts smoking and they go through various situations to learn what to do in case of fire) & Burn Prevention, Severe Weather and Disaster Preparedness (fourth grade) and Internet Safety and Personal Information Awareness (fifth grade). This place, apparently the first one like it in the US, is so cool!

Regrettably, I forgot to bring my camera. These pictures are from the Safety Town website later. But you get the picture. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No Honking

As witnessed at dinner this evening:

-------------------
LIL YODA (upon discovering that the plate of rolls was at the other end of the table from where she was seated):

Momma, you can't just honk all of the rolls!

JUBILEE: Do you mean "hog" all of the rolls? You know, like a hog, who would eat them all?
-------------------

Upon realizing her mistake, Lil Yoda and the whole Clan burst into laughter.

Kids are so fun.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Beautiful Centaurs




This picture was based on my creative thinking and my friend KMe. It makes me feel happy because I love horses, and this is a picture of two female centaurs.

Posted by Padme

Remembering 9/11


We are flying the American flag today in honor of Patriot Day. It is difficult to teach the horrors of 9/11 to children. How do you put such things into words? How do you explain terrorist? They do not even understand hate, much less hate raised to such a degree.
Yet I want them to know, to understand as much as they can, and to be part of the rebuilding process. Thus, we have been looking at pictures and talking about the tragedies of 9/11, and praying for the families that suffered the loss of a love done, and for the strength of our nation. And we will pray for those who don't know Christ, whose hearts are filled with hate instead of the love He offers.

A Child Talks of God

Accountability request: I have attempted a couple of blogs in the past, but never seem to find the time to keep them up and, alas! they find their way onto the list of Things I Intend To Do Someday.

Well, someday is now. Er, again...

Anyway, this blog is entirely different, because this blog was inspired by my sweet youngest daughter, Lil Yoda, who wrote a poem about God and wanted to share it with the world. So here it is:


I love God so much.
He was the one who took the evil
And put them in prison.
He was the one who amazed the Israelites
And turned them back to Him.
He was the one who calls Himself a Lamb.
He died for us.
He L-O-V-E loves us.

He was the Preacher/Pastor/Teacher.
Some people still think He is too old
To do things He used to do.
But he is not.
He made all of us.
He loves us.

He made the animals.
He loves US.

Have joy.

Blog Title

First, I'd like to give credit where credit is due. The name of this blog, Spilled Laughter, comes from the lyrics of one of my favorite Rich Mullins songs, Calling Out Your Name:

Well the moon moved past Nebraska
And spilled laughter on them cold Dakota Hills
And angels danced on Jacob's stairs
Yeah, they danced on Jacob's stairs
There is this silence in the Badlands
And over Kansas the whole universe was stilled
By the whisper of a prayer
The whisper of a prayer

And the single hawk bursts into flight
And in the east the whole horizon is in flames
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

I can feel the earth tremble
Beneath the rumbling of the buffalo hooves
And the fury in the pheasant's wings
And there's fury in a pheasant's wings

It tells me the Lord is in His temple
And there is still a faith that can make the mountains move
And a love that can make the heavens ring
And I've seen love make heaven ring

Where the sacred rivers meet
Beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the plains
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

From the place where morning gathers
You can look sometimes forever 'til you see
What time may never know
What time may never know

How the Lord takes by its corners this old world
And shakes us forward and shakes us free
To run wild with the hope
To run wild with the hope

The hope that this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
And I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

Calling out His name from my little corner of America...