Thursday, August 29, 2013

Father's Joy

My youngest daughter turned 12 on Wednesday.

Abigail's requests:

Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls

Lunch: Chicken Piccata
Supper: Red Beans and Rice

She will also celebrate with homemade pizza and cake and ice-cream on Friday when family and friends are able to join us.  She didn't want to wait till then for her gifts from her siblings or parents.  So after attending Wednesday evening service, she opened her stack of gifts.

From Sam:

From Hannah, Ellie, and Nathan:

From Dad and Mom:

She was quite confused with our gift of push pins.  Why would we just give her those? But when I handed her the bulletin board she had written on her wish list, those push pins made more sense.

Happy 12th Birthday Abigail!

P.S. Thanks to Hannah for the great pictures (minus the cinnamon roll one I took with my iPad)!

Rhythm of Days

We are in the middle of our second week of our new school year.  Overall it has gone quite well.  The theme is fresh and new and keeps us moving.

In the past I have always planned an overall outline for each subject so I know what to teach next and where we are headed.  Math is the easiest, because generally, it is simply the next lesson.  Although I do have to take care to speed up and skip lessons not necessary to the particular child's learning needs or slow down and do more work for a certain skill.  But that can't be really planned ahead of time.  History, though, is one that is relatively easy to do an overall plan.  I teach it on a four year cycle and use lists and curriculum to help me set up what topics I plan to cover in the year.  Other subjects, like grammar or writing, Latin or geography, need to only be divided into how many days each week I want the kids to study that subject and then figure out how much of the book should be done each time in order to finish in the year.

But I really want this year to go well. Therefore, I did a lot more planning than I have done in a long time.  I planned what I wanted to do in each subject each week.  No, not for the whole year.  I'm enough of a veteran to know that never works and only disappoints and discourages.  Instead I simply planned for about four weeks.  I decided that was enough time to give me a good gauge of how things were going.  Was that too much?  Not enough?  Did we get it all done?  Did we feel overwhelmed?  It also meant that I would not have to plan weekly, which would get tiring real fast. And if the plans were useful, then it would give motivation to plan when completed with the first weeks!

But, I did not even stop there!  My "wonder-homeschool-mom" hat was apparently still on and I obliged my son who begged for an actual schedule.  He likes to know what time he should be doing a certain subject.  I have hesitated to use a schedule in the past few years because they never seemed to work.  I think that is because I had to try to juggle five kids' education. This year, though, I only have three to primarily educate so we are going to try once again.

I found this schedule on-line (detailed directions on how this homeschool mom creates the schedule are found here), and since it is laid out in the way my brain thinks, I made one just like it for my family.  Well, David set it up, two actually.  One for Nathan, Abby, and Sam, and a second one for Hannah and Ellie.  Then I worked on fitting the pieces of our day into time slots, printed them, and hung them on the door.  We will have to make a few adjustments but, for a first attempt, it has worked well.

Summer weather has arrived the last two weeks.  Sunny, hot and humid.  There are two good things about that arriving as we begin our year.  One, we like to be inside where it is cool.  Two, the kids like going to the pool.  What great motivation to get their work done in order to enjoy swimming in the late afternoon and early evening! I don't mind soaking up the sun's rays while enjoying a book.

Last week I had Hannah and Ellie here to help me.  I was constantly having them do this load of laundry or fix lunch, or wash the dishes or even some windows all while I was teaching their younger siblings.  But not this week.  This week they began their college classes.  They leave each morning, lunch in hand, and return home in the afternoon, sometimes only enough time to change clothes and head to their job.  What a change it is to have them both gone during the day.  It is fun to hear all about their day and their classes when they get home.

Keeping up with this new schedule and working hard to have a successful year is exhausting.  We all are quite ready to lay our heads upon our pillows in the evening.  I think it will get better as the year goes along and the rhythm of days becomes natural.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Latin Makes All Things Epic

This time of year is filled with back to school sales, preparations, cryings, and rejoicings.  Many times I stumble across themes that teachers or schools cut out and display boldly and prominently on their bulletin boards, in their hallways, or rooms.

Homeschoolers, of which I am a part, don't necessarily do this, even though we participate in the back to school sales, preparations, cryings, and rejoicings.  But last year, I did come up with a theme for our year.  I failed in the art display since I didn't display it at all anywhere, but I did repeat it over and over again to the family.

"Listen to Learn and Learn to Listen"

Not bad eh?  It was a favorite saying of my dad's. Since he has been enjoying his heavenly rest for thirteen years, he hasn't been able to pass it along to his dear grandchildren.  But I remembered it and knew how much his grandchildren needed to be reminded of it daily.

And like most brick and mortar schools the theme worked well for awhile.

But it is a new year!  New preparations!  New Mottos!

Because the members of this family have a tendency to put off till later any job, my one-word theme came to mind on more than one occasion.  I thought it was a brilliant theme for our year.  I shared it with the family the other night.


Hannah commented it should be in Latin, Dad concurred and uttered, "Nunc."  Ellie then repeated the Latin phrase learned her very first year of Latin in Prima Latina, "Nunc aut Numquam."  We all realized that my one word theme, which was brilliant, is now epic thanks to Latin.  I might even cut-it out and display it prominently in several rooms.  But most assuredly I will loudly repeat it each time a child responds, "I'll do it later."

"Nunc aut Numquam"

Friday, August 02, 2013

Come Stare With Me

I finished my china hutch.  I love it.  I absolutely love it.  I sit and stare at it and smile.  It turned out just as I had hoped.

David and I bought this hutch his fourth year of seminary.  David's brother Mark had decided to follow David and Paul, another brother, to the seminary.  (If you need to keep count, David was a fourth year, Paul was on vicarage, and Mark was a first year). Mark and Beth had two little girls and had to sell their home and find a new one in Ft. Wayne.  They had no room for their dining room hutch.  We said we would buy it from them.

I always liked this hutch and it has served me well for many years.

But in this current parsonage, it just didn't quite work.  The floors in the dining room are hardwood, the room dividers, and the trim are all wood, the table and chairs are wood.  It was just too much wood.  Last fall while at camp, I had asked my friend Amy if she thought my hutch would look good painted.  She told me absolutely and that she knew which paint I should use.

It took me till July to work up the nerve to buy Annie Sloan's paint, but I am so glad I did.  First I used it to paint my porch.  Then this week, it was tackling, finally, my china hutch.

I took off all the hardware, set up a table in the living room, topped it with the top of the hutch, strew the drawers all over the dining room table and floor, turned on Issues, etc. on demand and began painting.

Martin and Katie kept watch.
Annie Sloan chalk paint is easy to use.  No sanding or priming needed, just start painting!  And it sticks to most surfaces - even metal.  That made the daunting task of painting a china hutch not as scary, and even kind of fun!

After everything was painted I used Annie Sloan's wax to help harden the paint.  This was another scary step to me, but once I started, it was quite easy!

I bought one of her brushes too and would recommend you do the same.

After waxing everything, and giving the the base a second coat of wax, I let it dry overnight and then buffed the entire piece.  I also took all the hardware and spray painted them a matte black.

Finally, after a week of walking around all the pieces scattered in the dining room and living room, David and I put it all back together.

This morning I put all the china back inside.

The color seems different because of the lighting.  The ones with the china were taken during the day, while the ones of it empty were taken at night with the lights on.  Either way, I love it.  I absolutely love this color - arles.  Come on over, I'll make some coffee or tea and we'll sit and stare at it together.