Mid-year Morning Time Review

[morning time schedule from our first week of school]
Today is Mark’s day off, which means he does school with the kids, and I get to leave the house and have time away all by myself.  As I was getting ready to go, he was reading to them from the Bible-- a long portion, covering the Easter Story.  I made myself breakfast and lingered a bit in the kitchen, listening to their questions and discussion.  It was so hard for me not to sit down and participate. I truly love our morning times together. 

This is week 21 of our 36-week school year, and I was thinking recently how on any given day, we may only do a little bit, one verse of a hymn, one poem, one verse from the Bible, etc.... but that a little bit each day adds up to a whole lot.  Here's a list of the material we’ve covered during our morning times together throughout these first 21 weeks:
*I've marked review items with a star

A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Great is Thy Faithfulness
How Great Thou Art
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
Blessed Assurance

Scripture memorized:
Psalm 19*
Psalm 33:5*
Psalm 105
Proverbs 15:28
Proverbs 18:21
Luke 2:1-20
Luke 6:45

Other memory work:
Books of the Old Testament*
Family Ways

Poems memorized:
If (Rudyard Kipling)
Nine o’clock Bell* (Eleanor Farjeon)
The Mist and All (Dixie Willson)
Who Has Seen the Wind?* (Christina Rossetti)
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening (Robert Frost)
The Eagle* (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
February Twilight (Sara Teasdale)
The Children’s Hour* (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
The Lake Isle of Innisfree (William Butler Yeats)
Written in March* (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Picture Study:
George Seurat (5 works of art)
Claude Monet (several works; he's one of my favorites!)
...and we spent a couple of weeks reviewing previous years’ artists

Composer Study:
Sergei Rachmaninoff (6 works)
Johannes Brahms (6 works)

The Taming of the Shrew (we also watched a video of this one)
A Winter’s Tale
King Lear
...using either Lamb or Nesbit
We also read this book aloud: Shakespeare: His Work and His World

Marcus Crassus
(This was our first foray into Plutarch, using Anne White’s study guide, and the kids-- especially my boys-- have really enjoyed the readings and discussion.)

Pagoo (read-aloud)
Nature Study
various experiments

-some readings from Home Geography (Long)

Map Work:
-freehand drawings of the continents & oceans
-13 colonies
-Europe (spanning several weeks)

-drawing lessons using this book: Drawing Textbook
-various nature study drawings
-still-life drawings: setting up objects on the ottoman in the center of the living room and everyone circles around with their sketch books and draws what they see
-our own painted reproductions of our favorites from Monet & Seurat

-lessons from Simply Grammar & First Language Lessons (skipping around those books, where we needed brushing up)
-a smattering of Grammar Worksheets from this site.
-(Most of our grammar is learned through reading and dictation.)

*This post contains affiliate links

From the pages of my journal

Approximately every six months I come to the final pages of my journal and need a new one. I always look forward to getting a new journal ready.  I take time to look back through the pages of my last journal and note some lessons or verses God has given me and then I plaster that first page with the truths God has been speaking to my heart.

{first page of my new journal}
{second page in: a prayer list}
{another page: listing things I'm grateful for}

For these next several months, my prayer focuses are these: (see photo #2)

Monday- for me, as a wife, mama, teacher, homemaker. for passion, love for Jesus, "5 things", devotion, discipline, humility
Tuesday- for Mark, as husband, father, provider, leader, employee, lover of God
Wednesday- for my girls (really anything that is on my heart regarding each of them)
Thursday- for my boys
Friday- for friends and family (extended) needs
Saturday- for our neighbors, the lost, our Compassion kids, missionaries
Sunday- our church

Quiet Time Thoughts: WHY Spend Time with Jesus? (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1, you can read that HERE.

The second passage that I love is also in the Psalms, from Psalm 19:

7  The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8  The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9  The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure
and altogether righteous.
10  They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
11  By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
(~from Psalm 19: 7-11)

As I read this passage, I am reminded afresh of all the benefits there are to being in God's word.  His law is perfect, and it will revive my soul (v 7).  His statues are trustworthy, and will give me wisdom (v 7).  His precepts are right, and will bring joy to my heart (v 8).  His commands will give light to my eyes (v 8).  His words are sure and righteous, they are precious.  Through God's word I am warned (v 11), and there is great reward for me when I keep His laws (v 11).

I am challenged by this thought: If I really believe the truths stated in those verses (and I do!) then: am I living as if they are true?  If those are really the benefits I am promised-- a revived soul, wisdom, joy, light, guidance and reward-- (!)--  um, hello!  I need those things; every single day I need those things-- than what am I doing with my attention directed elsewhere?  

Too often I get distracted by the stuff of this world.  I live as if I can find those benefits elsewhere-- that my soul can be revived while I relax in the evening watching a show, or when Mark has a day off.  I live like wisdom can be found in this article or that blog post or the book sitting on my shelf.  I live like joy can be found through new clothes or new curriculum or the praise of others.

That's all a big fat lie.

Those benefits are found in God.


And those gifts are mine for the taking: His words are right before me in the pages of my Bible. I want to soak them up.  I want to read this truth.  I want to study it, know it, meditate on it, memorize it, sing it, and talk about it.  My prayer is that I will be wholeheartedly devoted to Him; that I would have an undivided heart.  I want to use my time wisely and give my attention to the things that are honoring to Him.

Quiet Time Thoughts: WHY Spend Time with Jesus? (Part 1)

Recently I was asked to be on a panel of other women to share about my quiet times to a group of other (mostly younger) moms.

I shared, and it all went by so fast.  I came away feeling a bit unsettled about it, just because it felt so incomplete.  I answered the questions, and I was able to share about what I do- how I journal and pray, how I will often write out Scripture in the pages of my journal, etc.... and how there is grace for seasons where times with Jesus are less frequent than others, and that often with little children it can be hard.

But there is so much more to it than just that.  I wished later that I had taken the time to share the heart behind it; the WHY of why I try to spend time with Jesus each day.

There are two passages in the Bible that express my heart on this topic.  First, in Psalm 1:

IMG_2500Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields it's fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

I love that.  I'm such a visual girl, that the image there of the tree planted by streams of water, yielding fruit- is such a powerful image to me.  A tree.  A beautiful, thriving, flourishing tree.  With leaves that do not wither.  That is what I want, friends.  I want to be a TREE, planted by streams of water, yielding fruit. 

In the margin of my Bible, next to Psalm 1, is this note, from July 2004: "I'm feeling such a desire to be in the word- to know it, to soak it up."  When I wrote that, Ella was 4 and Isaac was 2, and we were in the process of adopting internationally.  I didn't have a lot of time then, and I most definitely have less time now.

John Piper has said, "Any truly spiritual action; any desire for Jesus is an amazing work of the Spirit.  You can't even say 'Jesus is LORD' apart from the Spirit.

The desire to study or read the Bible is not always there, and yet I pray for it, I continue to ask God for a hunger to be in His word, to love Him more, to know Him more, and He has been so faithful over the years to provide that, and to continue to bring me to a place of seeking Him.  And when I can see the fruit of those prayers; when I do have the want-to?  THAT is an amazing work of God's Spirit within me, and I recognize it as such. 

Geography | Map Work

I was thinking the other day that it's been a long time since I've done any homeschooling posts, which is sort of strange because it's pretty much ALL WE DO around here.  ;)  I think I shy away from these types of posts because it always seems to take so long to type it all out and explain everything and add the proper links and such.

But then last week I reminded myself that it doesn't have to be complicated.  I can just share one thing, occasionally, that we do; that has worked for us, and show you or tell you briefly about it.  So today here's one thing we do:

We keep it pretty simple.  Last week I printed out these two maps of Europe, one blank (without labels), and one with labels.  I didn't want to overwhelm my kids, so I asked them to focus on just some of the countries of Europe.  To make that easier, I highlighted the portion of the map I wanted them to study with a yellow colored pencil.  Then I gave them each a copy of the labelled map to study for about 5 minutes, asking them to pay attention to the bodies of water and the countries (but not necessarily spelling everything correctly).  Then I took those from them and handed them each a copy of the blank map, and had them fill in what they could remember.

For my oldest, who is already pretty familiar with all of these, I encouraged her to do the capitals along with the countries, and for my youngest (7), I wrote a number on each highlighted country and then asked her fill in the numbers on her blank map, while looking at the labelled map.  Then she practiced writing the names of the countries in the blank space below the map. I had given her the option of not doing it at all-- (which my other little one eagerly took!)-- but she wanted to do what hte big kids were doing so that's how we made it work for her.  :)

Sometimes, too, I will ask them questions without a map in front of them.  For example, If you were standing in Germany and facing west, what country(ies) would be next to you?  What body of water would be closest to you?

We will keep reviewing the countries we've learned, and tag on more each time until they're familiar with them, then tackle the capitals and then eventually move on to another continent.  I remembered the other day that I have tracing paper, too, so I will likely have them do some tracing from a map at some point to become familiar with the shapes, and will encourage them try to tackle them freehand, too. 

I'd love to hear what you do for map work in your home and school if you'd like to share!

In Which I Drizzle Balsamic Reduction on Everything

I really like food in general, and some foods I love, such as guacamole dip.  Other such foods I will always love?  Burritos, chips, ice cream, bread, berries in the summertime, lemon bars, sweet potatoes, crunchy apples in the fall, cheeses, eggs for breakfast, salads.  That may sum it up, actually.  I'm pretty sure I could be perfectly happy always eating the things from that short list.  I would also be quite LARGE eating only those things, but aside from that, I do think I could be perfectly happy.

And then there are seasons where I go through a phase of loving One Thing, and I will eat that One Thing all the time.   Like the year I ate this little concoction constantly.  It was my favorite thing.  (So much so that I sort of panicked if I ran out of any of those ingredients.) But that was a few years ago, and it is no longer my thing.  (I passed that obsession on to my friend Michelle, who is still eating it and ranting and raving about it to me every chance she gets. ;)) 

Right now my One Thing is balsamic reduction.  And I'm drizzling it over everything.
IMG_2489This photo right here was my dinner: Spinach, roasted sweet potatoes, homemade croutons (from homemade bread), ground turkey (bacon would have been far better, but we were out) and sliced almonds.  And then I dumped balsamic reduction over the top of it all.  (I also drizzled a bit of honey.  And sprinkled some feta.)  SO yummy.

This morning, for breakfast, I roasted sweet potatoes and onions, made some homemade croutons, fried an egg,  and drizzled balsamic reduction over the top of it all.

For lunch today we had open-faced cheese sandwiches, and I spooned out some balsamic reduction onto my plate so that I could mop up my cheesy bread in all of that goodness.

So so delicious.  For those of you who are missing out on this: Heat 3-4 cups of balsamic vinegar and 1 T of sugar or honey over medium heat until it reduces by half and is syrupy in consistency.  Put it in a covered jar and keep it in your fridge and then drizzle it over everything.

You're welcome.

Now you can list your favorite foods in the comments-- you know, the ones you would be perfectly happy eating always.  :)

IMG_2491PS: Tonight (after I'd written this post), I went to Trader Joe's and noticed these Coconut Strips on the shelf.  I briefly looked at them and then passed them by until some woman came along and reached across me to grab several bags of them to stick in her cart.  Clearly I needed to take a second look.  (I do love coconut, afterall.)  So I bought a bag.  Then I sampled them on the way home and told Mark the second I walked in the door that had I known they were going to be so good, I might have purchased SEVENTEEN bags of them, because: YUM.  (Don't worry.  I will refrain from dipping these in the balsamic reduction.) 

Five snippets from my ordinary life

1. The other night I was asleep by 9:30 and slept till 5:30.  I was awake briefly and then went back to sleep until 8:15.
(This NEVER happens.)
(It is entirely possible that it's been since ELEMENTARY SCHOOL since I've gotten this much sleep.)
(I am not exaggerating.)
(I am still in shock.)

One of my issues is that if I wake up during the night for any reason (a child with nightmares, a husband who might possibly snore sometimes a very tiny bit, (Doesn't that make it sound so nice?)), my mind flips on and then I cannot go back to sleep.

So, a normal night's sleep for me is that I go to sleep very very late (say, 12:00), and then I wake up in the 3 or 4 o'clock hour and cannot go back to sleep for the life of me.  Sometimes I will doze back off to sleep after tossing and turning and trying for hours, so I may tag on another hour or so, but...  I average about 4-5 hours of sleep a night.  It's crazy, I know.  (Am I the only one with this problem?)  Sometimes I just get up and just embrace the fact that I'm awake. (Mark found me in the kitchen baking bread at 4:30 in the morning a couple of weeks ago.)  Most of the time I'll journal or read until I feel sleepy again.

That was a LOT of sleep, and I consider it a huge gift. 

2.  I am halfway through the book Oliver Twist.  I've always wanted to read it and have owned it for years but have just never delved into it.  (The only other thing I'd ever read by Dickens was A Christmas Carol, which, honestly- I do not love, and which, most likely, is what made me hesitate on reading anything else of his.)  Until now.   And--- I love it.   The language and the characters are so rich, and it makes me love Dickens and want to read more.  Dickens delights me with the longest, most detailed sentences, and I am now ever so fond of him.

3.  Ella and I have been so blessed to go to a couple of concerts together lately.  Recently we saw Sara Groves and also Rend Collective!  Loved them BOTH.

4.  Have I told you about this recipe for French Bread Rolls?  If I haven't, it's only because I've been too busy baking them.  If you want an easy roll recipe, use this one.  They turn out beautifully and your family will thank you.  I promise.  And then beg you to make them again.


5.  Springtime is showing itself all around our house-- our camellia is blooming, our flowering trees are blooming, tulips are coming up in the gardens and some of our other annuals, the grass is growing and green, the birds are happily singing, and I am thoroughly excited about it.  I am longing for warmth and sunshine, and more outside time as a result of those two things.  As much as I love our cozy little home with our crackling fire, I cannot WAIT for warmer weather.