The look of the blog

If you've made your way over here lately, you'll see that my blog looks a little different. A few days ago everything that was pretty {all that color! the hydrangea photo! the cute fonts!} disappeared, and I have not been able to recover it, so I've now got a pretty simple look going on.

A new blog design is in the works, and I'm really excited about it, but in the meantime, sorry for all that whiteness you're seeing. :(

Ella's "rag doll"

Ever since we read the Little House books, Ella has wanted to make a "rag doll" like Laura's Charlotte. She has talked about it from time to time, saying things like, "Mommy! I want to make a rag doll just like Charlotte!" or "Mommy! For Audra's birthday, I'm going to make her a rag doll!" But then the idea kind of fizzles.

On Sunday, Ella came with me to the fabric store to find the fabrics for this quilt, and apparently she must have received some fresh inspiration, because she came home full of enthusiasm about making a rag doll.

And then she set about to doing it!

She got white paper and a pencil and started drawing a pattern. Then we cut out the pattern and pinned it to some white fabric. Then we cut out two pieces of that. Then she embroidered a smile and sewed on two carefully selected button eyes. I showed her how to put the pieces right sides together and then I gave her a needle and thread and had her sew her doll together. By Monday night she was stuffing her Charlotte.

I helped her a little bit with each step, but she did most of the work herself. (ie- ALL the sewing, save for some sloppy stitches we discovered when it came time to stuff the doll)and today she did the finishing work. We added hair and Ella made a dress {which is pretty unfinished, but Ella doesn't mind!} For the dress, I let her use the sewing machine because she had already done so much hand stitching.

There were some tears on Ella's part: Her timeline was a little unrealistic and she was hoping for a finished, dressed doll in one day, and she was disappointed in herself for the rushed stitching that made for stuffing coming out of the seams, but I am so pleased that she began with an idea and followed it through all the way to completed {and cute!} product!

Our Copywork jar

This is something new we're trying this year: a Copywork jar.

Here is how it works. Each day for her scheduled Copywork time, Ella will go to the jar and pull out a slip of paper. I've organized it to give her some variety, so that each day of the week she'll be copying from different "genres", for lack of a better word. Here's the schedule I came up with:

Monday (pink paper)= Poetry
Tuesday (yellow paper)= Quotes
Wednesday (blue paper)= Bible verses
Thursday (purple paper)= Look Up...*
Friday (green paper)= Literature and History selections

*On Thursdays I have given her something to physically go and look up. Here are a couple of examples:
-Go to page 23 of the book you are reading and choose a sentence to copy.
-Go to the library basket, choose a book from it, and copy all the words from one page of that book.

Mark and I had a lot of fun choosing the passages for Fridays. We pulled our favorite read-alouds off the shelves and searched for the passages we knew Ella would love to revisit. Here is one of those:
Not until the light began to fade could she move away from the place. Then she ran so fast up the mountain that it was not long before she saw the boughs of the fir trees above the roof, and then the roof itself, and then the whole hut. On the seat beside it sat her grandfather smoking his pipe, and over the hut the old fir trees were rocking and roaring in the evening wind. Heidi ran all the faster, and before the Alm-Uncle could really see who was coming she threw her basket on the ground and hugged him. In her excitement of seeing him again she was unable to say anything, except to keep exclaiming, "Grandfather! Grandfather!"

~Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
Or how about this one?

"Ohh!" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-- quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."

"That you will, dearie, and no mistake" said Mrs Beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."

"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.

"Safe?" said Mr Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

~The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

I love it that Ella will be able to recall particular scenes and the characters she has loved in the good books we've read, as well as the memory of all of us curled up on the couch, reading these books aloud together as a family, and discussing them afterward.

My view this afternoon

{Audra's quilt}

This quilt has been well over a year in the making.
(I guess it's been a busy year?! :))

I've had the quilt top made for several months, but have had such troubles finding the backing and binding fabrics. Granted, I haven't taken too many trips out to look, but... still. Today, though, I scored at the fabric store and found both fabrics, and just like that I'm highly motivated to finish.

Open House: Thursday, September 23

I am wearing... Black knit capris + a plum-colored t-shirt.

I am listening to... Ella, practicing piano. Isaac and Isaias, running through the house hollering and pretending that Audra is chasing them. (Which she's not.)

I am reading... Hm. I'm not really engrossed in a book right now. [Which means everyone should give me a book recommendation, stat.] Reading through the book of John for my quiet times, though.

I am looking forward to... The hot bubble bath I'm going to take later, after I run on the treadmill. (See? One more reason I need a good book. ~sigh~)

Outside my window... Well, the shades are drawn now because it's dark, but I happen to know there's a spider and her web outside the window I'm sitting in front of. We've been watching the spider build her web and Ella catches and tosses a crane fly at it occasionally so we can watch Miss Spider capture it.

I am creating... Nothing whatsoever in the crafting department.

I am praying for... a greater sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

Thankful for... "Nuggles" (snuggles) from my littlest...

From the kitchen...
Tonight's menu: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peas, homemade applesauce, and pumpkin-chocolate-chip muffins for dessert (to celebrate the first day of FALL!)

{Updated to add:} Here's what we did a few minutes later. Usually my girls are a little more active, but for some reason tonight they wanted to both be planted on my lap! Oh. And my apologies for the poor-quality (and dim) video!

Why do Copywork?

In the process of planning and preparing for this coming school year, I re-examined those things that I want to be doing, and remembered all over again why we're doing them to begin with.

Copywork is one of those things.

Here are the reasons we are doing Copywork in our home:

*Copywork allows our children to see proper sentence structure, grammar, and spelling.
*Copywork introduces them to new vocabulary.
*Copywork improves their handwriting.
*Carefully selected copywork gives our children the opportunity to reflect on worthy passages/quotes.

* * *

Here is one of our Copywork selections:
Be the living expression of God's kindness;
kindness in your face,
kindness in your eyes,
kindness in your smile,
kindness in your warm greeting.

~Mother Teresa
I love this. What a wonderful quote for my daughter to meditate on as she copies these words!

Next up: How we're doing it.

Mama Monday

I regularly read Andrea's blog The Flourishing Mother, and am so often encouraged by her posts. She has a wonderful series of Mama Monday posts, where she has thoughtfully interviewed other mothers. It is a great group of women, and I am honored that this week I get to join that group!

If you would like to head over to The Flourishing Mother, you can read my responses to her questions in her Mama Monday post.

{Thank you, sweet Andrea!}

Something I love

When Ella was two, we purchased a dollhouse for her. About a year later, we scored on a HUGE bag of dollhouse furniture and accessories at a garage sale. She spent hours setting up house, playing with the dolls, and acting out little family scenes. I have very fond memories of Mark and Ella, all sprawled out on the floor on their tummies, playing dollhouse together.

The past couple of years it hasn't gotten much use, but I'm glad we kept it. Adelia won't play with anything longer than about 20 seconds, but Audra?

It's her favorite thing.

In the picture above, she had gathered up all the babies she could find and was cramming them into the doll cradle, and singing Jesus Loves Me. Every once in awhile she'd stop singing and say, "Cute. Cute."

Several times a day she walks over to me with a dollhouse bed/chair/couch along with a baby and a mama or daddy doll and wants me to "epp" (help). She wants me to help her tuck them in, just so.

Right now she's saying "Yie down, baby" and putting two babies in a big bed.

A couple minutes ago she had the little dollhouse rocking chair out, had a mama and baby sitting in it (after I helped her get the baby on the mamas "yap" (lap)) and repeatedly said, "Rockabee, baby. Rockabee."

A few minutes before that, she wanted my "epp" once again so that she could set up this little scene, just so:

She was very particular about the mama and daddy being on the SAME chair, with the baby in mama's "yap" and with a blanket laid across their yaps.

I just love this stage~ Audra, at 18 months~ playing house and recognizing a family unit and being a nurturing mama already.

She loves her baby doll, too, and will wrap it up in a blankie and then walk through the house saying "nuggle" (snuggle) or "nigh-night" and pat the baby on the back. Or she'll say "chair, chair", and set her baby in a chair or get out the doll stroller and push the baby around in the stroller.

It's too cute, all of it. And I want to remember it.

Hence, this post.


Verses for a Two-Year-Old

[Caveat: The first verse is our theme verse, so each of the kids is memorizing it. Otherwise I don't think I would have chosen it for a two-year-old. Having said that, I think this will be an easy verse to learn, since we're all learning it together!]

For my little ones, I try to incorporate actions into their memory verses if at all possible. I've tried to note what I envision we'll do (having not yet learned all of these with Adelia) beneath each verse listed. Some of our actions will sort of evolve as we learn each verse, and for some of them I may just make up a little song to sing for it or something.

1. Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

2. Genesis 1:1
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Action: "Genesis 1:1" (Make 1's with pointer fingers), "heavens" (reach your hands way up) and "earth" (touch the ground).

3. Psalm 147:1
Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God!

Action: "Praise the Lord!" (both hands raised, head upturned)

4. Colossians 3:20
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

5. Psalm 118:1
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

Action: "Oh" (touch fingertips together over head, forming an "O" with arms)

6. Proverbs 15:3
A happy heart makes the face cheerful.

Action: point fingers to a HUGE smile on your own face!

7. Luke 18:60
Jesus called the little children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me."

Action: "Let the little children come to me" (beckon/motion imaginary children to come)

8. Isaiah 55:12
All the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Action: Clap hands!

9. Psalm 95:1
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord.

10. Psalm 149:3
Let them praise his name with dancing.

Action: "dancing" (dance if we're on our feet, make dancing motions if we're sitting)

Ten Verses cards

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

Last night I listened to a sermon* by Voddie Bauchman, and he was exhorting parents to have their children read and memorize scripture. He said, "You've got to pour everything in there you can get in there! Get it in there. And when you think you've gotten it in there, just stuff a little bit more."

I laughed out loud at that, and replayed it for Mark, because that is so my motto. :) Just stuff it in. Right now, when our children are literally sponges, when they are able to memorize and retain what they've memorized so easily, we want to pour God's truth into them.

In June, Mark and I each made a list of the top five things we value in terms of homeschooling our children, and "memorizing God's word" made it to the top of both of our lists. We want to stuff it in there. :)

As I set out to select our memory verses this year, I asked God to help me find verses that would suit each of our children. Instead of just choosing several verses that we would all memorize together, I wanted each child to have his or her "own" verses; verses tailored to their individual personalities and/or particular areas of struggle. I began by listing each child's name in my journal and then noting particular patterns of sin I see in them. For one child, these are the words that I initially jotted down: self-control, lies, self-worth, obedience, love. Then I found verses that dealt with those areas.

For instance, one of the verses that child will be memorizing is this one:

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. (Proverbs 12:22)

Then I rounded out their "set" by choosing verses that are specific to that child's interests or personality. One of our boys is very imaginative and is always telling stories. I made sure that some of his verses contained illustrative language:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. they were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen."
(Revelation 7:9-12)

So at this point I had a handful of verses for each child, but I still wasn't sure how to put them all together for our memorization time.

Then I came across this "Ten Verses cards" post of Kendra's, so I shamelessly stole this concept from her.

I wrote out ten verses on a card (actually, it took two cards) for our four oldest children (yes! Adelia (2) gets her own set of verses, too!), and they look like this:

Everyone's verse #1 is our theme verse for the year. That space on the left-hand side is for stickers. When they learn a verse- and can recite it (with reference) to daddy- they get to choose a sticker and stick it next to the verse on their card. I showed them the envelope labeled: "10 Verses Stickers" that is tucked into our memory box. It's amazing to me how motivating stickers are. They were seriously enthused about the prospect of getting to choose a sticker. Kids are so great!

*Sermon link here, if you're interested. (And thank you, Cutzi, for the link!)

Open House: Friday, September 10

I am wearing...
Black yoga-type pants, a black scoop-neck shirt with detailing around the neckline.

I am reading...
A Time for Remembering: The Ruth Bell Graham Story
Beautiful Girlhood
Meet the Austins

I am thinking/pondering...
Oh-so-many things, always. But I've just come from Ann's blog, where she is writing so beautifully about the faces and stories she is encountering in Guatemala on the Compassion bloggers trip. My eyes are still teary as I think of those mothers, afraid for their children. And of course I can't read without wondering where our Isaias would be today, had we not adopted him from Guatemala.

I am praying...
That SO many people will respond and sponsor a Compassion child, for the first time or in addition to those they already have. I used to think it was one small thing we could do, but the more I read about Compassion, the more I know of their heart and ministry, the more letters we receive from our own Compassion children, the more I realize that it is no small thing. For our own Compassion kids, it seems to be "THE" thing, our sponsorship of them. Would you consider sponsoring a child?

Thankful for...
My mom, who offered to take Adelia and Audra for two hours each Friday morning so that I can have uninterrupted school time with my older three. We had such a peaceful, productive, fun morning, I was so much less stressed, and the girls had so much fun with grandma. I am so grateful.

From the kitchen..
Potato chowder keeping warm on the stove, and blueberry muffins to make later.

In the schoolroom...
This morning we learned part of the Apostle's Creed. My plan was to learn the words and then introduce Rich Mullins' song, but decided last night to begin with the song.

If you comment, I'd love to read what your response would be to any of the above!

Memorizing our theme passage

You'd think with a degree in graphic design I could draw... somewhat-ish.

I cannot.

But do you know what? My kids don't care! :)

I am a visual learner, so this is naturally how I teach. And I think all children are very high visual/auditory learners- at least at this age- so often I add pictures and sound to help them learn, especially when it's memory work.

Here's what I've done to help us memorize our theme passage (Romans 12:9-21) for this year: (I'm only showing you the first few picture cards.)

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the LORD.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the LORD. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I haven't drawn pictures on every single card; some cards are words-only. But this way, at least some of the cards offer a visual tie-in to the words we're learning!

What do you do to help your kids memorize Scripture?

Let me take a minute to plug (again!) my FAVORITE resources for Scripture memory:

1. My ABC Bible Verses

If you want to start memorizing Scripture with your kids, this is an excellent resource! Each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding Bible verse and is accompanied by a story to illustrate the scriptural passage. We read this book four years ago, and our kids loved it. They still remember every single one of these verses! I posted more about this book here.

2. Seeds Family Worship. They have five CDs available: Seeds of Courage, Seeds of Faith, Seeds of Praise, Seeds of Purpose and Power of Encouragement. We have all of these and every single person in our home enjoys them! When the kids ask me to put on a CD, I *always* choose one of these; they are just that enjoyable to listen to. (Each of the above links will let you listen to samples of the songs from that particular album.)

Prepped and ready to go!

{on the menu for breakfast: Yogurt Coffee Cake, requested by Ella}

Seriously? We get to do this?

...Eat some coffee cake and drink some tea as we kick off our school year? Yummy fall-scented candles will be lit, and I'll be hearing the happy chatter of my favorite people in the whole world!

Ah... I can't wait!

Memory work box

Our Memory work box is one of my favorite homeschooling tools, and I am so very thankful to Kendra for the idea! This box holds most of what we do for our daily Circle Time* (school we're all doing together).

Last year this is what we worked on:
Mon: verses, catechism
Tues: verses, 10 commandments
Wed: verses, states
Thurs: verses, landmark cards
Fri: verses, art cards
Sat: OT/NT books of the Bible (review)
I upgraded our Memory work box to a larger size this year, and I love it.

(Notice our theme verse, right there in front?)

Here is what lies behind those tabs for our 2010/11 school year:
Monday: Catechism questions
Tuesday: Ten Verses cards (also Kendra's idea. I'll share more about this in my next post.)
Wednesday: Romans 12:9-21, our theme passage
Thursday: Sign Language cards, and I am SO coming back to that topic, in just a minute.
Friday: The Apostle's Creed, and after we memorize that: some Family Rules Mark and I are working on.
Now. The sign language cards: I am super excited about these, so if you'll bear with me I'm going to rant about them for a minute. I wanted so much to have something visual for the kids in our memory work box because of how much they really enjoyed the pictorial Landmark Cards last year, but I couldn't think of anything similar to that for *this* year. I briefly considered doing a Greek or Hebrew alphabet, but I just couldn't really get pumped about that. Then I wondered: "...Maybe I could find some sign language alphabet flash cards..."

Imagine my delight, then, when not only could I find some sign language flash cards, but I found SIGNING TIME flash cards (!), with pictures of Alex and Leah and Hopkins and Rachel on them, no less! Which thrills me to no end because not only do my older kids adore Signing Time (and have for years), but even Adelia (2), is into them. The faces of Alex, Leah and Rachel are pretty beloved around here, so they are going to LOVE these!!! (But shh! It's still a surprise to them, so don't say a word!)

I bought two sets.

I just now remembered that I had planned to post a bit more about our theme passage in this post, but it's late and this is already a long post, so I'll get to that next time.

*The whole concept of Circle Time came from Preschoolers and Peace.

*More about what Circle Time looks like in our home, here. (Or you can just click on the "Circle Time" label on the sidebar and it will bring up any other posts I've noted as Circle Time posts.)

Banana-Oat Smoothie

{adapted from a recipe found in an Everyday Food magazine}
Banana-Oat Smoothie

1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 banana*, cut into thirds
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp honey

Blend until smooth.
Double, triple, or quadruple the recipe as needed! :)

This was a hit when I tried it this morning. Even I liked it, and I am not-so-much a banana lover (unless we're talking banana cake with cream cheese frosting, that is. Or banana bread... those I can do!)

We will definitely be making this one again, and it's such a great recipe because these are ingredients we always have on hand!

*I used frozen bananas, and next time I may add some ice cubes, too. :)

Our theme verse

One of the things I prayed about in terms of school for this coming year is our relationships with one another here at home.

It is paramount to us that the character of our children remains more important than any academic successes they might achieve.

With that in mind, I selected a theme verse for our school year.

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

We will also be memorizing several verses from that chapter in addition to just our theme verse.

I'm going to introduce the year with it (a mini Bible study on the verse), and we'll continue to say it each day together and it will be posted for visibility.

I imagine we'll be referencing it quite a bit, too- in our day-to-day goings on, and talking about ways we can honor one another above ourselves and what that could look like, or what it does look like when we catch someone doing so and can commend them for it! I can't wait! :)