Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That seeing the solar eclipse this morning was really neat! We were at about 80% totality and had a pair of glasses that we all shared. We actually watched it in the Starbucks parking lot near us. Bookworm was working that day at Starbucks and had arranged to take her break during the best part so she could see too. I was surprised that we were not alone - there were about ten other people with glasses and viewing boxes and a few of the Starbucks employees came out to see also.

What I'm reading: At the moment, nothing. I am previewing some of the science that Dasher is doing and that is honestly all I am reading right now.

What we're learning: We started school today!! I know, this is early for us. But we had finished all of our summer fun things, had all of the school supplies ready, and the girls said yes, so it was a go. Except for our co-op classes, we started all other subjects today.

What I'm watching: We have been watching Monk episodes with the girls lately. That guy is so interesting. Like some people I know......

What's cooking: This week I am making Chicken Thai Curry, Lemon Honey Chicken, grilled chicken with zucchini gratin and a Caesar salad, and a Chicken Cobb Salad.

What I'm creating: I am helping Dasher come up with some fun preschool activities for her new job. She is going to be helping out with young children at a Classical Conversations in our town once a week, and is planning out things to do with them.

What we did this last weekend: We did some serious organizing in the garage on Saturday. It is amazing how living in a small home keeps you from filling it too full and purging every now and then. We went to church on Sunday and heard our associate pastor's sermon - our church was recently blessed with his addition. Then that afternoon we had our last church picnic of the summer.

What I'm looking forward to: Over the next two weeks our year schedule is going to all start, music lessons, a new Bible study, jobs for the younger two, 4-H, and college for Bookworm. Not too busy, but all very profitable.

A picture to share: 

~Starbucks treats on our first day of school and I only have two now!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Church Camping Trip 2017

Another church camping trip is in the books.

This year the three older ones went up a day earlier while My Sweetie and I enjoyed another night in our nice comfy bed. We came up the second day with N. We actually got up in the morning, so we did have all day to hang out with friends.

That afternoon all headed down to the lake in the back of my friend's truck.

We immediately headed across the dam to the bridge. We are totally out of our drought now, so there was plenty of water, which meant plenty of jumping.

All of the kids jumped many times- we old folk decided to take a year off. But we did send the Go Pro up and then down, with Mr. Lego.

Nutsy had a blast. She lost count of how many times she jumped, and was flinging herself off from the top railing.

After watching for a bit, I swam across the lake with two of my friends. It is a work out, but feels so good to swim that far.

We got back and met up with the bridge jumpers. Nutsy loves hiking so a few of us walked a ways around the lake.

Back to camp and volleyball.

There are over 100 people here from our church. A few of us share meals which makes it super easy. Tonight we had taco salad and margaritas.

These sweeties did the dishes.

Once it got dark a bunch of us decided to walk down to see the moon on the lake.

And then we broke out the games.

And sweet treats.

The kids were all tent camping it, but we slept in style:

This is actually a great idea. We blow up a air mattress, crack the windows, and climb in. It is pretty comfortable, and while we heard complaints from fellow campers about crazy, lunatic crows that started squawking at 5 am, we heard nothing.

Mornings in the woods is beautiful.

Here was our communal breakfast:

We do try to eat well when we are camping.

We had our morning devotions next. Our church has recently been blessed with an associate pastor, and he led our morning singing and Bible time.

He spoke about self control and humility, things we as God's people, need to be diligent in.

Back to the lake today.

We call this The Rocky Beach. Why? The thing is covered in rocks, obviously. Thankfully because of high water, we didn't have to walk too far to get to the actual water.

Hanging out with our peeps.

I floated for a bit with these ladies.

Then my swimming buddy from the day before and I swam the other direction, away from the bridge. It was in more open water and  when we were about halfway there we realized we were pretty invisible to any boats in the area. We splashed quite a bit so they could see us and then swam as fast as we could, without hyperventilating, to get to the other side. Once we hit the shore we picked up the trail we had walked the day before and made it back to the beach.

Tonight I broke out my appetizers.

Dinner was roasted tri tip, pasta salad, potato salad, garlic bread, and my caprese salad.

Good food with lovely people.

Tonight was our talent show.

There were quite a few skits with lots of laughs.

And then we had our communal dessert - all things sweet inside of ice cream cones and then wrapped in foil and warmed in the fire. And then the kids ran around on a sugar high for a couple of hours.

Glow stick time.

We only brought cell phones and the Go Pro to take photos with and with some experimenting, figured out how to take some cool shots with the glow sticks.

About half the campers walked down to the lake - the Perseid Meteor shower was going on so we got to see a few shooting stars.

And then another late night playing games.

Our one hitch of the trip was that our car battery did die - it wasn't because of an open door or anything, it was just old. We got it jumped and got home safely.

We had such a great time! I am so thankful for this group of brothers and sisters that we are blessed to spend time with. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My Week In Words and Images

 This week, my thoughts and images.

We are a biking family. When the weather is good on a Saturday, we hit the bike trails in our town, with whatever kids are around. Our town is really cool, and actually has over 90 trail miles. Many of these go under busy roads using biking tunnels, so that you can literally go through the town without crossing a street. And they weave through beautiful green spaces and you really do forget you are in a town.

These sisters. When they were babies and we would put them down for the night, almost every night one would crawl into the others bed. We gave up when they were three and four years old and they slept in the same bed for years. Today they are best friends, tell me they complete each others' sentences, and share lots of things together. There are moments of strife to be sure, but I am thankful for these two sisters.

My morning swim. This year, I have devoted four days a week to swimming laps with My Sweetie at our community pool. We swim for about 45 minutes and I am happy to say, I have improved my technique and my lap time. This is great exercise, and I am thankful that I have the means to do this.

Indian food for dinner. I love cooking ethnic food, and have fun experimenting in the kitchen. Below you see Indian Butter Chicken, Southern Indian Vegetable Stir Fry, and chapati. Cooking each night for our family saves us so much money and I love serving those I love in this way.

These sweet girls at our church's fellowship meal. First, I love fellowshipping with my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is a beautiful time to encourage one another, and be faithful in the means of grace. Second, I love the friendship that these girls have. Nutsy and her friend met when they were only two years old and have been besties ever since. I am so thankful for the deep relationships within our church body and the growth our family has experienced because of it.

Sunday afternoons. These times are special to me. Some days we have people over from church but other days it is just our family. We might play a game, eat yummy food, talk, and maybe watch a movie. Which is what we did this last Sunday. We ate munchies, played Dutch Blitz for a while, and then introduced our kids to another Hitchcock movie, North By Northwest.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Stages of Bedtime

Years and years ago, when I was young, we had four little kids.  Bedtimes were ritualistic, and we did certain things most every night.

Around 7:30ish we would sound the alarm, and herd them up the stairs. If they were super dirty from who-knows-what or we couldn't remember the last bath, it was bath time.

The nine year old boy was pretty self sufficient, but the girls at six, five, and fourteen months got their teeth brushed and flossed by dad. (Little known fact - he loves cleaning teeth and has his own set of picks for his own teeth.)

We would all gather in one of the bedrooms, and if it was early enough we would read a little from a read aloud book.

Then as part of our family ritual, we would all yell, "BIG HUGS!!!!!" and with My Sweetie on one side and me on the other, have a massive family hug. We would pray a short prayer and then into bed.

We were pretty strict about this - they had had a drink of water, used the bathroom, were not starving from dinner - so when we said get in bed, it was get in bed.

At that point My Sweetie and I had some time to ourselves. Sometimes we followed them pretty quickly to our own bed, other times we had great conversations, or watched a DVD.

Fast forward ten years.

Around 8:30-9ish, our house is very different.

My Sweetie and I tend to head up the stairs to our room for TV and maybe a long talk around this time. Where are the kids? Well, the now 20 year old young man works until 10 pm three nights a week. The girls are sometimes spread out - the seventeen year old might have a late shift and not be home until 9, the sixteen and twelve year old are reading or watching something. Sometimes, (like last night, which made me think to write this) My Sweetie and I were in bed at our normal 10:30ish time and we are telling the older kids to be quiet and get in their rooms so that we could get to sleep.

My, times have changed.

No more BIG HUGS!!!!  No more putting  their onesie pajamas on. No more sitting on the toilet seat while watching them during their baths to make sure they don't drown. And My Sweetie hasn't seen the inside of their mouths in years.

Dinner as a family has changed as well. I can count on one hand the number of times we have had dinner all together in the last two weeks - Last night Nutsy had a sleepover, tonight Dasher and Nutsy are gone to Auntie's house and Mr. Lego works, and tomorrow night Bookworm has a late shift.

We do have other fun things we do in the evenings - the last couple of years we have been on a Dutch Blitz craze and when we play it in the evenings it gets pretty intense around here.

Once in a great while My Sweetie will do some fun gaming with the kiddos.

We also have lots of conversations. Once a younger mom asked me what one of the major differences is with older kids. I really feel that your role as a parent almost changes. Instead of being their complete authority, you kind of become their coach. And what does a coach do? Encourages. Gently admonishes. Talks. AND LISTENS. Parenting young kiddos is physically exhausting at times, while parenting older ones can be emotionally and mentally exhausting.

But oh so worth it.

I have such good memories of when my kids were young, and yet I am encouraged that we are still making memories and 'rituals' today. Cherish wherever age range you are in with your kids. Time moves fast.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

{Homeschool Product Review} ~ Heirloom Audio Productions

Ever heard of G.A. Henty? Well recently I was given the opportunity to review an audio book dramatization of his book In the Reign of Terror. Heirloom Audio Productions has done a great job of making this classic story come alive for listeners of all ages.

Heirloom Audio Productions

What It Is:

G.A. Henty wrote In the Reign of Terror in 1888. The story follows a young English man Harry, who travels to France to live with a French noble family in the 1780's. He moves in with them and is exposed to the nobility of France. But there is unrest in the land, as the lower class is uprising and rebelling against the crown. Harry is caught in the middle of this turmoil and watches as the family he has grown to love is ripped apart by the French Revolution. The family ends up in different parts of France as the children try to escape from their homeland and into England. Throughout the story there are instances of bravery, near death experiences, love, and adventure.

Heirloom Audio Productions has taken this intriguing story and dramatized it with some of the very best in the industry. Brian Blessed, John Rys-Davies, and Cathy Sara are a few of the well known names listed in the cast. Not only is the acting superb, but the musical score by John Campbell is also very well done. Some of the scenes in this story can get a little intense, but this Heirloom Audio does a great job of creating a scene with just the right amount of drama.

In the Reign of Terror

Another bonus that Heirloom Audio provided me with was access to the Live Adventure Club Online which has lots of downloads to go with this audio CD. Looking over the downloads, there was a lot to get excited over. There is the original book in e-book form to download. The  entire soundtrack is available to download, plus a printable cast poster. There is a desktop wallpaper download, and finally the full official script to download as well.

But the meat of the downloads is the Study Guide. This is a 43 page document that was easy to download. Each track of the CD has its very own page with three sections:

  • The Listening Well - these are questions related to the material that was just listened to.
  • The Thinking Further - these questions are more thought questions, and ask your child to draw conclusions from actions in the book
  • The Defining Words - this is simply a list of vocabulary words to look up

The tracks are divided into anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes, so it is a good stopping place to stop the CD and have a question/answer time with your child.

There are also snippets of facts throughout the Study Guide - these are called "Expand Your Learning" and includes more information on fashion, the Deceleration Rights of Man and the Citizen (France's deceleration of human rights) health and medicine, the guillotine, French cuisine and many more.

How We Used This and What We Thought:

At the beginning of July we had a few hour-long car trips with all of our 4-H state fair responsibilities. This was the perfect time to dive into this classic book. We listened all of the way through the story within the first couple of weeks.

After the fair I re-visited the CD with my youngest. I downloaded the Study Guide and decided we would use it as we listened to the story in review. At the end of every track we stopped the CD and went through some of the questions that were in the guide. I really liked the questions, especially The Thinking Further questions. For example there is a character in the story that pretends that he does not speak English very well when speaking with Harry. Using the discussion questions we talked about how sometimes people might be tempted to lie about their abilities to make a friend not feel so bad. I had her write out a few of the vocabulary words, some of which included haughtiness, drawing room, peculiar, and bourgeoisie. I loved how these words challenged her and helped he to understand the story even better.

Heirloom Audio Productions is unabashedly Christian, and this really comes out in the Study Guide. This is reflected in many of the questions and at the end of the guide, there are a couple of Bible Study on resistance to tyranny and manliness.

So I really liked both aspects of this product. The CD's by themselves are a wonderful addition to your audio library. And adding the study guide brings depth to the story, and extends the learning process. I loved having questions right there at my fingertips that I could use to confirm that my child was grasping the story. The Guide can be used for your child to print out and use to fill a notebook up with answers and vocabulary words, or it can simply give you verbal questions that you the parent can ask your child.

Other members of The Homeschool Crew reviewed this audio CD and study guide, check out what they thought by clicking below.

In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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