Friday, January 14, 2011

{This Moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

The birds in the common area behind our house that provide us with such entertainment.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christmas Knits, part 2

You have my apologies for a dark-ish pic, but our days have been overcast since before Christmas. I was hoping some sun would peak out last week and afford us good photography, but no such luck!

This sweater was Ender's choice. When he asked me to make him a sweater back in August I told him I wanted him to pick everything about it. He went with this pretty blue Cascade, and stuck very clearly to one edict: Don't make it tight.

See, Ender is very particular about texture. Tags, stray strings, or any little bit out of place screams at him, and that makes the fit of clothes very important. I was a bit worried at first about choosing this wool, but he held it quite a lot, rubbed it on his cheek and carried it around. When he had no complaints I proceeded, half prepared for the possibility of frogging after a fitting if he thought it was scratchy at all.

The only complaint at that first fit? Too tight. So I cast a bit bigger using Elizabeth Zimmermann's percentage system and this is our result. I planned it to be a little extra long in sleeves and body to maybe also work for next fall since he attaches to the clothes I make for him so firmly, and he declares it to be a perfect fit. I think it will actually be a perfect fit *next fall* but he's pretty happy with how it is now, and that's good enough for me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


For over two months now Ezra has asked again and again if he could be the silverware sorter now.

"Am I big enough NOW?" he would ask.

He had watched his brother for a long time and really wanted that job- I don't really understand why it appeals to him so much, but who am I to argue with a little boy asking for another chore to do? Over Christmas break Ender learned how to empty the full dishwasher and that gave Ezra his longed-for promotion to chief silverware sorter.

Oh, how exciting that first week was! With new things to learn his excitement and energy bubbled over every time I called him to help in the kitchen.

And now? The silverware sorting excitement seems to have lost its sparkle.

Planning and starting a new habit is so easy isn't it? It's the keeping up each day that causes problems. It's the days that I realize I've failed that get to me- I missed a step in establishing my new morning routine, I missed my mid-day time in the Word... and the perfectionist in me is ready to toss it out and declare a start over- back to day 1 so that I can have a perfectly marked off list.

Wow- talk about missing the point.

I have to fight that part of my brain every day, that part of me that says again and again:

Less than perfect isn't good enough

 "You should just give up"

 Forward progress isn't achievement

If you don't enjoy doing this each time it's not worth it

Discipline doesn't mean as much as accomplishment....

And I pray for God to keep that beautiful word GRACE impressed upon my heart when my ugly insides are trying to crowd out His truth.

Forward progress is all we have- God works in us, each day, each moment, working our souls over to bring us to a place of repentence and forgiveness, mercy and grace, but we are not completed in this life. We read in Philippians 3 last week the words Paul wrote:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14, NKJV)

To think that Paul, after all of His work for Christ, to spread the gospel, to preach, to share, to grow churches, had still not been made complete in Christ? He was still a work in progress, still being made complete in Christ.

So I will work daily in my relationship with Christ. To be one step closer to completion, but to fight that little voice screaming "imperfect!" all the time. He asks me to walk with Him, to press forward despite my flawed steps, my weak strides.

But I keep walking, held up in His grace.


Ann Voskamp invites us to write about habits this week. You can join her at A Holy Experience.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day

Ezra woke up around 4 a.m. yesterday and while I was helping him back to bed he noticed the lightness outside the window and sure enough- snow!

He smiled and said, "Tomorrow is going to be the most wonderful day!"

We woke up yesterday to about 2 inches of snow already on the ground (about when I took this photo) and by the end of the day we totalled to 6 inches. Add another inch overnight and we have PILES of snow around here!

*Sledding counts as school, right?*

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Day with Us

Jamie invited us to write about a day in our homeschool life, so we thought we'd share.

Our homeschool includes Ender, a 5-year-old kindergartner, Ezra, a 3-year-old who wishes quite desperately to be in kindergarten like his brother, and a combination of me, my husband and my mom working together on these days.

As you can already tell, our schedule is a bit less traditional than many homeschoolers. I work full time as does my husband, but I am fortunate to be self-employed as a music teacher. I was able to work this year's lesson schedule to leave our mornings and weekends open. I am considered the primary homeschooling parent in our family, partly because I take care of the planning, but also because I am with the boys for the main component of our homeschooling day: the mornings.

While we value parts of a few different styles, Ender's Kindergarten year has been a fun mix of Charlotte Mason, Project Based Learning and some good old free time to explore. I "planned" our year
around a few things:

Always have a chapter book going

Leave room for their ideas

Do the basics every day and do them well- these include memorizing, reading, writing, and math.

Early Morning

Our mornings start early, primarily because Ezra wakes early. He is up between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. every morning no matter what so I try to rise ahead of him to get a shower in and have a bit of time to pray and read while it's quiet. Once Ezra is up we eat breakfast together, then he gets dressed and helps me with a few things around the house.

Ender joins us around 8, eats breakfast and gets dressed. We go upstairs and they brush teeth together before we head into the school room (also upstairs) together.

Learning Together

We start our learning together on the floor in a sort of modified circle time. Ezra listens in while Ender and I talk about days of the week and check the calendar. Next we work through our daily basics starting with reviewing memory work. Currently we have one longer Scripture passage or poem we work on all month long that Brian and I choose for our family, and then Ender also memorizes 1 or 2 verses each week for Sparks. We review these verses using the method described at Simply Charlotte Mason.

We read together next and each select a book. The book I choose is usually on a topic I'd like to introduce or something related to the season. Sometimes they really take to a topic and it leads to days and days of projects and discussion, and sometimes we talk about it just that day and move on to something else the next. 

We spend the next 30 minutes working on our other basics: 10 minute short lessons on reading, writing and math. Ender reads aloud to me for either 5 pages (since he's 5 years old and that connection makes sense to him) or 10 minutes, whichever comes first.

Next we spend 10 minutes on hand writing. The only thing that is consistent every day is that he must write his full name every day. Some days he asks how to spell words he's interested in and I just keep an eye on his formation, about twice a week we use copy work, and about twice a week he does a few pages in Explode the Code. I keep this part short too, no more than 10 minutes.

I present a new math lesson to Ender most Mondays and then we work together on the skill through the week. I don't push ahead unless he's ready, but if he asks for a new lesson before the next Monday I let him move on as long as he's confident in the current lesson. This is mostly manipulatives, except for about 3 times a month where I have him practice writing a few numbers.

And where is Ezra during all this?

Chances are good that he's making *something*. Ezra got the artistic streak from me and spends this time working at his own little table coloring, painting, cutting, gluing, or whatever it is that he's interested in.

Project Time

After we get our basics in, Ender is ready to start making things too. We call this part of the morning project time. Sometimes they work together on a craft, sometimes they are off chasing their own ideas. Lately Ender can be found pouring over lego diagrams and following the directions to the letter (he's such a black-and-white thinker!) Ezra has been building a lot lately as well, but he can easily spend an entire morning at the craft table making things.

Me? I'm usually in the rocking chair working on my own project (knitting) and making notes about what the boys are up to.

We take a break mid-morning for a snack and a chore or two and then head back to a group project. We've been learning about the continents over the last few months- the people who live there, the animals, the kind of land and weather- and that has been really fun, but the boys think up projects that become our family project as well. Sometimes a little question leads us to looking up books on our library website, spending time online looking at pictures of animals or looking up the answer to a question or we take advantage of Netflix streaming and watch a video about something we're interested in.

Afternoon & Evening

At 11:45 it's time for lunch and to get ready for the afternoon. I start teaching between 12:45 and 1 p.m. Monday-Friday, so my mom picks the boys up around 12:30 to head over to her house to play. My mom retired from teaching at a Montessori school in 2008, and her house is a fabulous place for the grand kids! My boys have the advantage of hanging out with her until their daddy (Brian) finishes work around 5:30 p.m. They meet up to go home with him and Brian takes care of the evening hours. The boys play while he makes dinner, and after dinner Brian manages the brushing of teeth, baths, asking Ender to read to him for 10 more minutes and the evening read aloud. I teach away during these hours in my studio.

I'm finished teaching in time to be a part of the evening read aloud and bed time routine most nights, but two nights a week I'm either teaching or in rehearsal until 9 p.m. and Brian handles those evenings.
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