Sunday, December 21, 2008
"Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.
Round your vermin, mother and child.
Holy infany, tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace."
"O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphal..."
(OK, triumphal could be a word. But it's not.)
Man, I love this kid!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Those of you who know her aren't at all surprised.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
This is a picture of my girls, along with our sweet friends Hannah and Erin, in Beijing this summer. We had such a great time at the Olympics!
Okay, that's not true. But we did get autographs from Nastia Liukin and Carly Patterson yesterday afternoon. Nastia and Carly train at a gym near us, and they were signing autographs in exchange for unwrapped toys. We got to support a toy drive for local kids, and get some cool autographs! Now I just have to figure out what to do with 10 autographed pictures of gymnasts...
Monday, December 1, 2008
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Okay it's not really a secret, but here it is: we don't do "normal school" between Thanksgiving and New Year's. (gasp!)
Instead, we take a break from our regular schoolwork and focus on the birth of Christ for a few weeks. Here are some Christmas links I enjoy: a great Jesse Tree site, another Jesse Tree site with the ornaments, a Christmas unit study, a great Christmas resource list, and some readings for the Twelve Days of Christmas between Dec 24 and the Epiphany (arrival of the wise men).
For math, we will be working on our math facts. Our new girls really need to work on number concepts, and don't have any facts memorized. For the older girls, they are learning new concepts and can certainly brush up on their facts, as well! Baloo will finish up his math book and get ready to move to Alg. II in January.
We will take a break from science & history, but will replace them with more Bible time (which really is history), artists & composers, hymns and Christmas music. There will still be lots of learning taking place, but it will be focused, as much as possible, on the birth of Christ.
We will also be spending lots of time with friends & family, so please stop on by!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Dora: Oh, Mama! I just love you so much!
Jubilee: I love you, too, Baby!
Dora: And I'll always love you!
Jubilee: And I'll always, love you!
Dora: And I'll always obey you!
Dora: Always and always!
Dora: Except ... sometimes ... I won't ...
(We looked at each other, and burst into laughter. At least she's honest!)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Preparing for exams always makes me sit back and think about the past term. I am writing my thoughts here, more for me than for you. But you are welcome to read them.
As I look back across the past 15 weeks, I am excited about the level of independence the younger children have developed this term. I am working part-time in the mornings, and the girls come with me and do their work while I teach Mother's Day Out. This means that they have been doing their written work on their own with very little instruction, a very big step in the right direction. The ability to work independently is a highly desirable trait!
Thoughts on education, aka Why Am I Doing This?:
1. I want my children to learn to think. I do not want to cut information into bite-sized chunks so their education can be easier and more palatable. I do not water-down the material or give it to them in bits-and-pieces. I give them difficult material, books that make them think about life and the world and the Lord who created it all. I want them to wonder, to explore, to ponder and, yes, to THINK!!! I want the children to be able to take hold of their own educations, to fight for them and work for them. I want them to wrestle with their thoughts until they reach clarity. I do not want to spoon-feed their thoughts to them.
This new method of learning/education was very difficult for my new girls at first. They, honestly, were not accustomed to forming their own thoughts with regard to schoolwork. They wanted me to tell them what everything meant, what their projects should look like, etc. Developing independent thought has been a huge step for them. And it has been so much fun to watch! They are learning so much, and so excited about it! I have been very pleased with all of the children's progress this semester. I am excited to see their exam responses.
2. I do not believe each child should be educated in the same manner, either. Each child is an individual, and what works for one, may not work for another. What interests one, may not interest another. Where one struggles, another will thrive, and vice versa. We do not believe in playing the "it's not fair" game, and sometimes intentionally make things "unfair" because we do not believe that what goes to one should automatically go to every other as well. The same goes for education. Each child is a masterpiece, uniquely created by God and given especially to us to raise and love and train to love and fear Him. We do not take that responsibility lightly. We are responsible to the Lord for these children.
3. I do not believe children were made to sit in desks all day. This is why so many of them must be drugged in order to do so. My new girls were 3 of the drugged ones. I have taken them off of said drugs, and they are THRIVING!!! Because they come to Mother's Day Out at the gymnastics center with me, they spend 2 hours of hard play/workout every single day! I believe children need to work out their bodies just as much as their minds. Growing bodies need to move! They need to run and jump and climb and fall. They need to skip and hop and roll and dance. The physical development of my new girls in the past six months has been absolutely amazing.
Reflections on this term:
1. I would like to schedule a Bible time with each of the kids individually. I need to work that in next semester. We did this before we got the new girls, but I haven't yet figured out how to do it with six.
2. We really let our fine arts slip this semester. This was intentional, as I was easing the new girls into homeschooling and easing myself into homeschooling six kids. I let the things slide that I felt comfortable letting slide. We will work on Christmas music in December, then start up our full fine arts schedule again in January. This includes Artist Study, Composer Study, Hymns, Folk Songs and Foreign Language Songs for next term. I will also try to start up Piano Lessons again. I can teach the younger ones myself but would like to get the olders back into lessons outside the home. I would also like to get Baloo back into guitar lessons.
3. It's not just the songs, I have let all of Foreign Language fall by the wayside with the girls. Baloo is taking High School Spanish outside our home, so that's taken care of. The girls sometimes go to Spanish at the gym, where we offer it as part of our Afterschool Program. But we are not usually there on those afternoons. I either need to make a point to be there or I need to get back into doing Foreign Language at home. Or both. We usually do French and Latin, too.
4. Memory Work. The older kids have done a good job keeping up with this, with very little intervention from me. I have only recently gotten the new girls started on this. I need to be sure to schedule specific memory work next term. I have found that the differences in ability and training makes it impossible to memorize the same things all together. I need to think more about how I want this to look next term.
5. I need to be better about getting our scheduled readings done. We did not get as far in our readings as I would have liked. The children have done well reading the books they read on their own, but the ones we read together have not been read on schedule. We really fell behind early in the semester, but have gotten better in recent weeks as we got into our groove. (Translate: "... as I figured out how to homeschool six kids at once.") I think we will be able to stay on target next term. I have discovered that I really need to schedule these times, something I really don't like doing. I like to have a "to-do" list, but not a schedule that tells me I have to do this thing at this time. Too stressful. The Rebel in me immediately thinks,
"Oh yeah, me..."
6. Math Facts - Severely lacking in the new girls. I am going to pause our regular math studies, and work on memorizing math facts instead, at their appropriate levels. Normally we do not stress about memorizing facts, they tend to do it on their own when they recognize the inconvenience of not knowing them. But, because the new girls are a bit older, I don't have time to wait for them to figure this out so we just need to work on them. I also need to work with the new girls on conceptualizing the numbers - they don't seem to understand what a number really is, as it relates to objects. I need to talk to my mom and do some research as to how to make this more concrete for them. We use manipulatives every day, but it's just not clicking yet. For December, we will work on these things. Maybe we will do a page of review each week, as well...
7. We will take some time to study Christmas in December. I'm not sure how much the new girls understand about Christmas and its symbols, and I doubt they know any of the Christmas songs that are so dear to our family. Now that co-op is over, we have a lot more free time and can work on some of these things, as well as catch up on the readings in which we are behind. Then we will start up full swing again in January.
8. Scrapbooking. Most of the children really want to get into scrapbooking. I told them we may be able to do this after Thanksgiving. I have everything I need, I just need to print out the pictures I want. The new girls have never had photo albums of themselves, not even baby books, so this is very important to them. And Lil Yoda's scrapbook is pretty sparse, so it is important to her as well. I need to find a way to make this happen, I think it will be fun to do together.
I'm sure I will have more thoughts on this as we go forward. For now, let me just say...
I love homeschooling.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Mema and Poppie met us for the special day, and they brought roses for everyone! Then, after the hearing was finished (which was about 20 minutes after we entered the courtroom, even though we were fourth on the list), they treated us to breakfast at a local restaurant! Thanks, Mema and Poppie, for making our special day even better!
A special "Thank you" to my sweet friend Janet, who brought cupcakes to the gymnastics gym today, so all of our friends could celebrate with us! Thank you, Sweet Friend!
The pictures below were taken before the hearing - you can tell they are excited but a bit nervous and sleepy! I had to wake them up at 6 to get to court on time. If you know us, then you know this is absolutely unheard of. But, we got to watch a beautiful sunrise as we drove to the courthouse!
Thank you that you bind up, and heal, the broken-hearted. (Isaiah 61:1, Psalm 147:3)
Thank you for giving us children as a heritage and a reward. (Psalm 127:3)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Friday, November 7, 2008
Padme is really growing up. She is a confident, strong young lady who loves the Lord and works hard at all she does. Naturally outgoing and vivacious, she is one of those people that everyone loves, which is why her birthday parties always have so many guests! She is very social and usually invites everyone she's seen in the last year. We have had such fun watching Padme grow up, she is intelligent, joyful and so fun to be with! She is truly beautiful, gorgeous inside and out. Sorry for the late posting, but we wish you a very Happy (late) birthday, sweet Padme. We love you!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Starring (from left to right): Our sweet friend KMe as a medieval princess; Padme as a genie; Angel as a china doll; Wendy as a cat; Dora as a ballet princess; and Lil Yoda as a rock star guitarist. We had a fabulous time trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. Our 3 adoptees had never done anything like this, and Dora just kept saying, "Mama! This is the best night EVER!"
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Everyone got to take turns in the limo. This kept the kids busy during the reception, and they loved it!