Friday, March 30, 2007

Socializing in the Sun

It seems that the number one concern of outsiders about homeschoolers is the lack of socialization. Well, my family is going to make sure we don't fall behind on socialization. I had the great idea of going to the beach again today. This time we invited 2 other families to join us. We woke up this morning and had the thickest gray clouds in the sky and the wind was blowing so hard. It really looked like it was going to rain, but weatherbug said 78 degrees and sunny.

We decided to go ahead and meet at the duck park/beach and have our picnic. The weather turned out to be really nice. It stayed overcast for a while, then the sun broke through. The girls even got to swim in the bay for a while. They played in the sand and followed the ducks around. One of my friends brought a delicious red velvet cake to celebrate my birthday a little early (my birthday is Sunday). She's always so thoughtful and a wonderful cook! I had such a nice time! I like getting together with my friends as much as my girls do.

By the way, one of my friends just received a fabulous cook book that I plan to purchase. Check it out: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook ISBN-0307-23672-2

Monday, March 26, 2007

History Museum

Today was field trip time again. This time we visited a local history museum. The children were divided into groups. The younger children had an "abbreviated" tour. Each group participated in a scavenger hunt. The older children wrote out answers to questions while the younger children circled pictures on a paper. The first part of the tour was the early people-1813. It talked about the Indians in Mobile and which countries first settled there. Next was growth and transition 1813-1887. This section explained slave trading. Third was the renewal gallery 1887-1945. Here they saw pictures of the streets and cars, learned about WWI and the making of a local tunnel. Finally the end was progress and promise 1813-1887. This was about he Civil Rights movement, schools and pollution that threatened the area.

All groups got to visit the Discovery Room for hands on play. They also did an art project. The older children made and wrote with quill pens. The younger ones did quilt squares made from scraps of fabric glued onto paper.

This was such an educational field trip. I hope to go back again to read everything. We came home with lots of good history books from the gift shop. I can't wait to start reading them.

Homemade Bird Feeders

The girls and I saw this in a Family Fun magazine. We finally got around to making them today. You toast a piece of bread and cut it out with a cookie cutter. Spread peanut butter on both sides then dip it into bird seed. We punched a hole in the center with a screwdriver and tied them with string to the trees. I can't wait till morning to see our little friends enjoying their special treat.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Beach Babies

I just had to share these pictures. Friday was so beautiful. The girls and I couldn't resist sneaking down to the beach for a few hours. The water was ICE cold! The girls didn't seem to care, but I stayed high and dry in the sand.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bats on a boat ride???

I know that sounds crazy, but it's true! Now that the weather is getting warmer we like to take the boat out to go water skiing. The water is still cold (at least to me) so we wear wet suits. I absolutely love to water ski and will go any time. Yesterday afternoon we all loaded up and went out for a quick trip. We had a great time-except for one major wreck that I had. My daughter said I did 2 front handsprings and a somersault! She said I looked really good doing it. LOL! Thankfully I didn't get hurt.

We decided to come in right at sunset. One of my girls was pointing out bats in the sky. Her daddy had told her about them on a previous trip. I wasn't even aware that we had bats on the river. Right after she mentioned this, 2 bats flew right into my lap! I was wrapped in a towel and that's where they landed. I'm not kidding. It took me a minute to realize what had happened, then Mary and I jumped up and started screaming! My husband thought we were crazy. I started to shake the towel and one flew off. The second one eventually got loose and flew away.

Today I looked up bats on the internet to learn more about them. I didn't realize that they are the only "true" flying mammals. It was very unusual for them to fly into me because they have really good vision and they also use sound echos to help guide them. I'm not sure how they ended up in my lap. I certainly won't forget that boat ride for a while!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring is HERE!!!

Happy Spring! If you didn't remember, today is the first day of spring. I think this may be my favorite season. The girls and I celebrated with a picnic in the yard. The weather was perfect, 73 degrees, sunny with a slight breeze.

Next we worked on our nature journal. Today we read from the Comstock Handbook about the Chickadee. What a sweet bird. While the 2 older girls were coloring their pictures of the bird, Emma (3) said, "Look Mom, a hawk." I looked up and guess what-she was right! I guess it is true that children absorb so much of what goes on around them. Later we read from Poor Richard and Abigail Adams. The girls complained when I told them it was time to put up the books and come in to start dinner.

What a perfect day. It really reminds me of the type of stories in Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola. Too bad every day can't be this perfect. Then again we probably wouldn't appreciate them as much. Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Aboriginal Art

Today we went on a field trip to a local museum. We had such a good time! The tour started with a very talented Australian man singing and talking about "everything Australian". He told us about the animals-kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles, etc. The didgeridoo music was the most fun. He even did a little sing-a-long.

Next we had a brief art tour. Some contemporary abstract art and some sculptures of wood and some pottery. Then we moved on to the really fun part-the art room. In this room, they were able to recreate Aboriginal art work. They did a border on one sheet of paper. On another colored sheet of paper they did an x-ray drawing of an animal. The art teacher had several examples of animals they could use, or they could come up with one of their own. I enjoyed doing this for my 3 year old. I was hoping she'd choose the simple crab, but instead she insisted on the turtle.

Of course no field trip would be complete without food. There was a beautiful large gazebo/pavilion outside the museum right next to a small pond. We spread out our picnic there. It was a great day-even the rain held off until we got home.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Girls' Day

Some days it doesn't take much to motivate my girls to get their school work completed. Today it was a phone call from an "old buddy" inviting us to lunch at her house. She even took the girls' sandwich orders over the phone so they would be ready when we arrived!
We've known this family since the girls were about 4 years old. They live only 20 minutes away, but we never seem to have the time to just sit and visit. Today we made time. The girls plowed through school while I did the chores. Then we took off! We had so much fun eating strawberries, sipping sweet tea and catching up. The girls had a picnic outside, rode horses, played dress-up and games while we moms looked at pictures, exchanged curriculum ideas and just caught up on each other's lives. Once again I've vowed to not let so much time lapse between visits. Life is too short to miss out on days like today.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Story Starters

Recently a friend introduced me and my girls to Story Starters by Karen Andreola. It's a fabulous book! " A story starter suspends a student in the middle of a predicament. He is then faced with the question, "What happens next?" This is his cue to expand and embellish the story however he wants. He learns to write freely, with imagination and zest-and with far more boldness than he may be accustomed to. To spark even more curiousity, each story is illustrated with one or more engaging 19th century pictures."

We decided to let our four oldest girls do this together. They were given their first Story Starter about a week before Valentine's Day. Then we all got together on Valentine's Day for the readings. I think the moms enjoyed hearing the stories more than the girls! They were all so good and so incredibly different.

Today we met at the park for a picnic lunch and the second reading. Once again the girls surprised us with their vivid imaginations and creative writing. Even my reluctant writer is beginning to get excited about writing these stories. I plan on keeping all of the stories and compiling a little book when they're finished. It's nice when learning can be so much fun-and even nicer when you can share it with friends.

Digging in the Dirt

Yesterday was one of those days when I really doubted if I actually could homeschool my children. Everything seemed to go wrong. No one could remember anything they'd done last week. Somehow, we managed to get through it. Then I decided we'd take a break. It's not even officially spring yet and the weather is gorgeous here in the south. The sun is shining, it's about 70 degrees and the azaleas are blooming like crazy. I thought it was time for us girls to get out and dig in the dirt!
We made a trip to the store and bought all kinds of plants-heather, petunias, caladiums, etc. Then we came home and prepared our bed. I planted the bigger plants, then I let Mary and Grace decide where to plant the smaller ones. Emma just dug wherever she wanted to! LOL! Finally we finished the bed and even 2 hanging baskets-one with petunias and one (inside) with succulents.
It felt so good to just dig and plant and dream of how pretty it will be in a few weeks. We were all in much better spirits when we finished. I think we need to take more days off to just dig in the dirt!

Friday, March 2, 2007

The Gift of Time...

About 10 years ago I had a huge eye opening experience. My grandmother, who I loved dearly, had been taken to the hospital. My brother called to let me know and I mistakenly heard him say she had just died. I rushed with my husband and infant daughter to the hospital. All the time I was thinking about how I had not spent enough time with her lately and how I had been short with her, etc. When we arrived at the hospital I realized I had misunderstood. My brother said she "almost died". I knew at that moment that God had given me a second chance-more time with my dear Granny to truly appreciate her. I spent the next 3 years of her life visiting with her, loving her and sharing my daughters with her. When she passed away, I was there with her. I didn't regret a moment.

About a year ago we befriended a new family in our neighborhood. They're a wonderful group of 5 children who are truly dears! The year has flown by with playdates, nature studies, slumber parties and tea parties. It has been a wonderful year. I never knew 2 families could mesh in the way ours have. They told us about a month ago they needed to move back home temporarily to take care of some improvements on their previous home which is up for sale. I was surprised, rather shocked, that I took this news so hard. I was utterly depressed. My girls felt the same way. Well, week after week has gone by and there's always a reason why this family can't get moved back. Something keeps happening to prevent the move back to Georgia. I have to admit that we are thrilled every time we go by their house and see their car there.

Just today we met at the park for a picnic. The children had a fabulous time! They shared food, ran and played together. What a sweet time they had together making memories. Tonight as I reflected on the day the memories of my Granny came back. I know once again God has given me a gift of time. More precious time to spend with our friends. What a great God He is to give us little gifts, even when we probably don't deserve them.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Love Letters from God

A friend recently told me of a Bible study she had with her girls ages 10 and 12. She told them that everytime they saw something beautiful or special to think of it as a personal love letter from God. One night the 10 year old was in bed and called her mom into the room. As the mother walked in to the completely dark room, she looked where her daughter was lying in bed and she was bathed in moonlight. It was as if a spotlight was shining only on her. Then the little girl quietly said, "Look mom, a love letter from God."
I thought that was the sweetest thing and really took it to heart. So many days go by that I get so caught up in the details of daily life that I don't notice God all around me.
Last week we went on a family vacation to Colorado. It was so gorgeous there. The girls were delighted with all the snow. The closest thing we have to snow in the deep south is the white sand at the beach! While in the mountains, I tried to remember to take time to soak up all the beauty. It's amazing that when you open your eyes and look you'll find God's love letters everywhere.