Thursday, September 5, 2013

The mountains are calling...

...and I must go.  -John Muir

We spent Labor Day in the Shenandoah National Park.  The park is one of my favorite places that I have been and we are so fortunate to have it a short drive away!

A while back I purchased a book for the kids called Scavenger Hike Adventures.  It takes good family day hikes and turns them into a scavenger hunt!  We had only done one of the hikes so far and the kids asked to do another.

We hiked Hawksbill Summit (the highest point in the Shenandoah National Park) via the Appalachian Trail and the Salamander Trail.  It was great.  The kids loved it! They did 2.9 miles with no problem, very little complaining and so much fun and laughter!  It was wonderful!

Here are some photos of our day.

Yellow Leprose Lichen (chrystothrix candelaris, aka Spray Paint Lichen) 

Eden practices the skill of rock stacking.

Very cool tree on the hike.

Two deer followed us for a while. No zoom used on this photo. They were really that close.

Mountain Laurel tunnel. I can't help but think about how lovely this would be when the Laurel is blooming.

This hike had several nice overlooks.

Snacking at Hawksbill Summit.

Looks like he might slip off the mountain. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

I Don't Hate it Yet

Two weeks in and I am still enjoying homeschooling.  We had a really bad day last Wednesday so we quit and went outside.  The kids (especially my TypeA who has to do everything as it is supposed to be done) wanted to finish later in the day so we did, but if we didn't, that would have been okay. 

Eden has already memorized a poem (Rain by Robert Louis Stevenson) and the first half of the Lord's Prayer. Her reading is improving and she is learning to write cursive. She is working on narrating stories we read and I am looking forward to this discipline helping her communication skills!

Theo is working on writing letters and numbers and counting to 50. He is so motivated and finishes his work so fast that I run out of work for him to do! I need to figure out what to do with him!  

This week we continued our nature study with the study of trees.  We learned about growth rings.  Once again the kids seemed to love it and the crafts we did to compliment the study.  Here are some photos from our tree study.

The girls have short attention spans when we are outside. Theo's is shorter.

Growth rings in the log pile.

Growth rings in the lumber pile.

We made cedar magnets for the fridge.

Painted magnets.

We used white crayon to draw growth rings in our nature journals, then we painted over them.
The crayon acted as a resist.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Today Felt...

...rushed and lazy.

We started school 45 minutes early this morning so we could get a jump on our day.  We had a checkup appointment for our dog, Amos, and the new kitten, Mittens.  We got through most of our planned items, but skipped out on our nature hike (on the schedule every day).

Mittens sleeping off her stressful vet visit.
I thought we'd walk when we came home, but it was rainy and dreary and we ended up just hanging around reading books and I let the kids watch a movie. Theo chose to watch it like this:

How Theo watches a movie.
 So, it felt like we ran around this morning and wasted the rest of the day. We'll do a proper, non-rushed day of school tomorrow.

Saturday, I took a planning morning.  I hope to do this each month.  I planned out the next 3 weeks of school and I think doing it this way will work out well for me.  We'll see!

My school planner.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Week One

Week one at Hunter's Grove Academy went pretty well, in my opinion.  I learned a few things about planning that I will implement when I plan out the next 4 weeks.  I did only the first week to start as I knew I'd likely figure some things out once we got going.

Tomorrow I will be planning the next month and I am actually excited about it!  This is such a switch in attitude for me and I am grateful that I have finally gotten to the place where I "feel the love" for this decision to keep the kids home this year.  I have bathed my attitude in prayer and it has been a huge internal struggle with my inner brat (she stomped around for a while saying "I DON'T WANNA'!").  Praise the Lord for bringing me to this place!

Wednesday, Eden started piano lessons.  We were given an old piano that belonged to a family member.  It has been fun to bang around on it even though it makes me cringe it is so out of tune (the tuning guy is coming soon)!  Eden picked out Twinkle Twinkle with my mom's help and she hasn't been able to walk past the piano without sitting down in front of it since we got it.  I have been playing around a little bit, too, though I can only pick out the right hand (thanks to 6 years of clarinet).

Monday, August 12, 2013

First Day of School 2013

We started school at Hunter's Grove Academy today!  Eden is doing Ambleside Online Year 1 and Theo is doing Pre K.  Much of the AO curriculum follows a one room schoolhouse approach where all ages participate in the lesson.  Eden and Theo will do separate lessons in reading, writing and math, but  Theo is joining Eden in Art, Music and Nature Study and will follow along in some Literature and History.

I decided to plan out one week and see how it would go before I set out to plan the rest of the month. I learned a lot today. I think the kids learned something, too!

Some friends joined us today for Nature Study. We made leaf prints, did blind contour sketches of the fifth largest white oak in the state of Virginia and learned about oak trees.
Eden doing copy work. 

Theo working on tracing.

Eden sketching leaves in her nature journal.

Evelyn (our friend) learning how to make leaf prints.

Sketching red oak leaves.

Not an oak leaf, Theo!

Our leaf prints drying on the line.

Cousin's Camp 2013- Giants in The Land!

2013 Cousin's Camp was a wonderful success!  The theme was Giant's in the Land.  We learned about George Washington who was a giant in character (and over 6 feet tall at a time when most men were not so tall).  We also learned about David and Goliath.

Here are some photos that capture some of what we got to do this year at Cousin's Camp!

We pounded flowers.

We dyed t-shirts.

We camped out.

We made meat pies and cooked them in dutch ovens.

We fought with water balloons and also played capture the flag.

We climbed trees.

We climbed trees a lot.

My mom (aka Cousin Becky) is a rock star! She is the mastermind behind our cousin's camp and she makes it better each year. So many people come together to make it a success and a big THANK YOU is in order!  What a great family I have!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The News vs. Joy

Joy is
1. a deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment
2. something causing such a feeling; a source of happiness
3. an outward show of pleasure or delight; rejoicing

I've been working on cultivating JOY in my life.  Why "cultivating"?  Well, much like my weedy fallow garden (except for the pea bed which still has no sprouts) I need to plant and tend the particular things I want to grow in my life.

What!!  You mean my joy isn't contingent upon my circumstance? Well, it can be, but it doesn't have to be. It doesn't have to be.

I stopped watching the news.

When the elementary school shooting happened last winter, I couldn't watch. I was so stressed and overwhelmed by my own personal life. The stress of making family work when you are together for less that 1 hour per day was weighing on me. I wanted to remain joyful. I wanted to lack nothing.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 

So I chose to not watch. I chose to not read the articles, I stayed off Facebook, I wouldn't view the images.

I turned off the news.

This was a decision made out of the human need to shut off that which overwhelms our spirit. The interesting thing, though, was that while others were walking around in a daze, not understanding the world in which we live, I was able to avoid that feeling and was able to continue to tap the source of my joy. My own circumstances may not be as overwhelming as I think when I stop fighting other's battles and worrying about trials that haven't been given to me.

Now, I am not saying that we shouldn't care for those who are in the midst of trials, love them, help them if it is in our power. The Bible is clear, we are to help those in need.

But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? I John 3:17 

Is knowing about specific sins and people's personal trials all over the world, in radical media form, in real time something we are meant to know? I would suggest that it is not. I would argue that our human psyche is not capable of knowing it all and remaining healthy. All of the scripture I could find on helping others seemed to indicate face to face help. In community. Seeing a need. Filling it.

Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to seek out tragedy, obsess over it, fret about it, alter our lives to accommodate what our fragile psyches are telling us.

We are instructed to count our own trials for joy.

I have been literally counting them, the trials. I have been writing them down and praising God for them and there is joy there. I have been looking for ways to see a brother in need and fill that need. To bear burdens of friends, family and those I "do life" with. There are enough trials there to keep me busy.  I have kept away from sensational news stories. I am healthier for it. I can access the Grace being poured out on my own life and family when I am not burdened by the emotions surrounding literally everyone else's tragedy or struggle.

So, I challenge you to 3 things:

  1. Turn off the news for 1 week (or one month). See if has any effect on your heart and mind.
  2. Count your trials for joy. Write down those things that are painful, and hard. Thank God for them and for how He will use them for His glory. Don't just praise Him in the storm, praise Him for the storm!
  3. Read Anne Voskamp's book  One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.