Friday, May 22, 2009

Spring Break

We homeschool year round. Some people think that means we don't ever get a break. Really we do. The great thing about homeschooling year round is that we can take breaks whenever we need to, or just because we want to. Another great thing about homeschooling year round is that we're never really out of our groove. Not that we don't get out of our groove sometimes when we're in the midst of homeschooling, but it's much easier to get back into to the groove either way.

Right now we're taking a mini-vacation of sorts. What that means for yesterday and today is that I'm not really concerned with how much school we get done (we do seem to get a little done no matter what...the day we go without some kind of learning would be a strange one indeed!), but right now I'm more concerned with cleaning and organizing. The basement is in pretty bad shape right now. I actually took pictures so I could have before and after. I should have taken pictures yesterday, because my Dad came down and helped me drain the waterbed in our basement and hauled off the old couch and chair that was in the basement (they were my parents when they first got married...oh, yeah, they were 70's orange and green, ba-by!). Before I took pictures today, I did a lot of picking up, throwing away, and sweeping.

My Dad also brought me a lovely gift from my husband. My dear Hubby bought me those cool library shelves with glass fronts that lift up and slide in. They are from his work, so they are metal, but I don't care. I actually like it, because metal is much harder to damage, at least in my mind. I am thrilled to pieces! Since I was a little girl, I've wanted my own library. I thought at one point I might become a librarian. I just love books that much. The librarian dream kind of died out, but not the "my own library" dream. I already have a truck load of books, so I just needed the proper shelves to store them on. I will post pictures when that project is complete.

So, while I clean and organize and throw things away, the kids are having all sorts of fun. I'll get them in on the cleaning and organizing eventually. I check on them often (especially when they get quiet). They love to put on swimsuits and turn the bathroom into their own personal water park (they call it a steam room, because they get the water hot and the mirror steams up). If I was fast enough thinking earlier, I would've got a great picture when I checked in on them. I'm okay with "steam room", as long as they clean up afterwards, and there is no water leaking into the basement before they clean up (yes, that has happened). They also get to watch videos when there'd usually be no-TV-time.

Next I need to do some measuring and figuring, because the kids and I really like the idea of moving our bedrooms downstairs and the classroom, playroom, and office area upstairs. I have to have detailed plans to present to the husband. I am dying for my Mom to have chance to come down and lend me her eye. She's so good at re-designing with things you already have.

Since I titled this Spring Break, I can't help but add what I just thought of about traditional Spring Break from my own public school and college. I never understood why we'd have Spring Break at the coldest point of Spring! We'd be off school and want to go swimming and all that sort of stuff, but the weather was too stinking cold. The only great thing about Spring Break for me was when my cousin and I would take turns spending a couple of nights at each other's houses that week. We wrote the most fun stories together, enjoyed the same books, and just had a great time. I got to talk to that dear cousin today (while I was sorting laundry) and I'll get to see her on Sunday at our Uncle's Wedding Shower! Yea, for grown-up Spring Breaks!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day

I know Mother's Day was yesterday, but I decided to write a bit about it anyway. My Hubby and kids made big plans for me. When Thomas got home from his tennis tournament on Saturday, he took the kids and I shopping, so he could buy me a new pair of blue jeans (my one request).

On Saturday night, they made me a strawberry cake (with a little bit of help from me). My six year old son decorated it all by himself, while Ellie and I were getting ready for bed. I had already put together the bag and tip for adding icing decoration. Wyatt spread white frosting on the cake, then put strawberry frosting in the bag and added a heart on top and the intials W and M. Ellie then got to add an E and a T, to complete the family initials.

While we were eating cake, the kids gave speeches. Ellie's was all about how she wanted to love, honor and respect me; she even quoted in the Bible about "Honor your father and mother...". Wyatt's was all about how he wanted to decorated the cake, by himself, with the heart on it, because he loves me so much. That was priceless.

After cake, they took turns giving me five dollar bills until I had forty-five dollars. Then I got to go downstairs and order the book: Beauty by God, by Shelly Ballestero. I got to listen to her talk at the A Woman Inspired online womens conference, and I've been thinking about her book ever since.

That was not the end though! Sunday, I had to work at my part-time job. When I got home, they had all made me cards, gave me Dove chocolate, and took me to my Mom's house. Our whole little extended family was there: Mom, Dad, my brother, my sister, her hubby, and her two little girls. We even got to see one of my aunts and uncles for a few minutes. I also got fireworks shot off for me. They were just bottle rockets, but that was all part of their big plan for my Special Mother's Day.

Thomas asked me later if they out did their selves this Mother's Day. I told them, "No, it was wonderful." I don't remember a better Mother's Day.

P.S.: I used the rest of my money to buy four fruit roll up trays for my dehydrator and a Pollyanna book (I love the Disney movie, but I've never actually read the book!).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chuck Black and The Knights of Arrethtrae

I was really excited to pick up the next book in The Knights of Arrethtrae Series by Chuck Black on Friday of the Homeschool Conference. I won the first book, Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione, from The Heart of the Matter. My kids loved the book, especially Ellie. Wyatt listened in on most of the book, he wasn't interested at first, but then wouldn't let us read the book without him!

I don't believe I realized at the time that Chuck Black's original series, The Kingdom Series, was written as an allegory to the Bible, with not magic, mysticism, or wizardry and the Knights of Arrethtrae belong to the same world and kingdom of the Kingdom Series books! I love the fact that there is no magic, etc.! Now I want to read that whole series!

The stories are all set in the days of knights, ladies, and castles. My dear daughter thought those days were all made up, imaginary, but she was thrilled and delighted to find out that knights, ladies, and castles all existed in history...even if these stories are made up. Oh, and how wonderful an imagination God has given to Chuck Black. We are transported to the Kingdom of Arrathtrae when reading these books. I have the worst time putting them down. Sometimes I sneak and read pages ahead without the children.
Ellie wanted to read the book the night I brought it home, but we had to wait a couple of days before starting it. We had another book we needed to finish first. I think we took maybe a week to make it all the way through the new book, Sir Bentley and the Battle of Holbrook Court.

So, my big surprise was that author, Chuck Black, his wife, and two of their kids were there at the conference! I didn't spot them until Saturday. I'm betting their booth was completely surrounded on Friday when I passed by. They allowed us to take their picture, and a picture of their cool booth, complete with a knights armor and chain mail! I wish I would've had my books for him to autograph!

We got to hear about one of his daughter's music (Emily was not with them in Kansas City), which is featured on the audio books, which are complete audio dramas! Hmm...Christmas presents to myself? I would let the kids listen, too. Miss Emily Black has a cd of her music (separate from the soundtrack to the audio books); the music from the audio books can be purchased on a sound track.
If you haven't discovered Chuck Black for yourself, check out his website! Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart came out May 1st. That's next on my list to buy.

My New Friend...Nancy Bjorkman

I was so thrilled to learn that Nancy Bjorkman was going to be at the Homeschool Conference again this year. She was listed under her store, Heppner's Legacy, instead of her name. If my friend Colleen had not been researching to try and get her to speak at the local Mini-conference next year, we would not have even realized that she was speaking!

That would've been a tragedy! I was marking all the workshops on Math, because that has been my greatest challenge with Ellie this year. I want her to think Math is fun again... at last check, she hated Math. I was not going planning on going the the Heppner's Legacy one because there was another workshop at the same time that Colleen and I were planning to go to. When we realized that was Nancy though, we changed our plans.

We sat in the front row. We were incredulous that some of the helpers did not realize this was Nancy Bjorkman, and this was her classroom! We volunteered to help with anything she needed help with. We were huge fans! She doesn't like being put on a pedestal though, so we were promoted? to friends!

We took pictures with our new friend.

She has opened up a whole new world of Math to me. I still need to do some laminating and organizing of the games I bought. I need to put my baggy of dice in my purse. I already gave my children the cool dice in their favorite colors (green and orange). I am even excited about Math, which is a big deal, since I was never a big fan of Math myself. You can purchase Nancy's Math Game's Galore! on her store's website.

Thanks again, Nancy!

The Familyman at the Homeschool Conference

I can hardly believe it's been over three weeks since the Homeschool Conference and it has taken me all this time to get my pictures downloaded and have some time to blog!

I'll start with Todd Wilson, aka The Familyman of Familyman Ministries. I missed him my first year at the conference and I was so sad when I realized that he was there and I didn't get to see him, or even stop at the Familyman booth. I read one of his books, Lies Homeschooling Mom's Believe, with the ladies at The Heart of the Matter. They used his book for their first devotional study. Ever since then, I'm all about "being real", as Todd says. I got him to autograph that book, my new one, and the one I bought for my husband. Then I went back before the weekend was over and picked up his Homeschooling Comics Calendar for next year; which is really cool, filled with things to do (like homeschool ideas) each day!

The two sessions I got to go to of his were packed! The evening one was called "Dream Big". I have really thought a lot about this session in the past three weeks. Todd talked about "Dream Killers" and "Dream Fanners". He used the story of David and Goliath from the Bible. He reminded us all that God is big enough to kill the dumb dreams, and we really need to support and maybe not always encourage what we think are the dumb dreams, but not be a Dream Killer. He used a couple of examples. One example was a college kid who wanted to be a writer; another man heard the boy talking and just kept telling him why being a writer just wouldn't work out. Todd eventually had the chance to encourage the college kid, but the other guy was really killing his spirit. The other example he used is when one of his son's came to him and said that when he grew up, he wanted to own a cruise ship. Well, as he said, he could've told him all the reasons why that was a bad idea, but instead, he just said something like "Oh, that'd be so much fun! You could take me for rides all over the ocean." Of course, his son hasn't spoken about owning a cruise ship for years. But his son still tells him his dreams, because he didn't try to kill that one.

I think of all the times that I have been a Dream Killer... to my husband, probably to my children at times, and even definitely to myself. I have been much more careful to be a Dream Fanner since I heard Todd speak. I'm even trying to fan my own dreams.

The other session I got to attend of Todd's was based on his book (which I bought): How To Be a Great Wife Even Though You Homeschool. This session had women sitting in the isles, behind Todd on the floor, and standing in the doorway! Good thing the Fire Marshall wasn't there...I'm not sure we would've passed inspection. A lot of the things he told us, I'd heard before, though Todd has a way of making things incredibly hilarious! He gave us ladies a lot to think about and implement in being good wives, even though we homeschool. The number one on the list is to put our husbands before our homeschooling. I'm not one of those "we have to have a date every weekend" people, but I really try to make sure that I make sure my Hubby knows that he is number one. I have to admit though, I'm not always the best at that.

My friend, Colleen, and I chased Todd down to get a photo. I'm still so disappointed that I didn't get a photo of Marilyn Rockett, that I wasn't going to the opportunity to get some photos of some of my favorite authors and speakers at the conference. Todd told us that we needed to "Get a life," because we wanted to photo of him. I should've told him then that I was enjoying not having a life for the weekend. I would soon enough go home and have my life back...and lots of catching up to do for leaving the kiddos home with Daddy for two days straight. I commented on his blog to let him know that I got my life back soon enough!

So, here's the picture:

I thoroughly appreciate Todd's family for sharing him with all of us. He has a way with words. He has a wonderful way of making you laugh and think all at the same time.