Monday, July 30, 2012

Discerning God's Will

It has been over a year since we left South Africa.  Life just looks different.  But, it is exactly where we God wants us to be.

Lately I have had a few people ask, "Do you miss South Africa?" Of course!  I just got done cheering on the South African Gold medalist swimmer  Cameron van der Burgh.  We miss the people and ministry.  I came across a photo of my kitchen on facebook (with other missionaries living there) and was choked up.  In my mind I thought, "that is my kitchen". 

However, I have seen actual signs that God wants us here in little Palmer, Alaska.  I love the friendly but warm town.  Often we run into people from the library to the grocery store.  My children know that a  quick trip for milk is an easy 30 minutes because your bound to connect with others.  My heart aches for the pain that is here as well; from a teenaged mom with twins, child abuse, to the death of a little one year old boy to cancer.  Being close to people hurts as well. 

We still love MISSIONS!
Today, we spent the afternoon with a person that James had the joy of discipling and leading to the Lord.  He is a missionary with Cru!  We welcomed Mark & Alicia Lovejoy and their three amazing boys. It was also a blessing to see Tyler and Laura Gates who work with TransWorld Radio.  They served with us short-term in South Africa.  Thank you Lord for the puppeteers that did an excellent job at the Children's Church on "Jonah and the Call".  We love our church, our friends, and our Lord.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Prepare for SCIENCE!

Last year, I just bought a science kit with the needed supplies.  It was around $100 and I learned a bit. Between a friend and I, our supplies worked half of the time.  The items were cheaply made and easily broken.  This year having some extra time on my hands and less money, I decided to take the knowledge of purchasing a kit to make my own science experimental kit for less money and better supplies.  

He is how you set up a science experimental kit for less money and a little bit of effort.

  1. Print off a list of supplies that come with a prepurchased kit.  They are available free on any sites that sell a kit.
  2. Cross off what you have in your home.
  3. Take the list to local thrift stores or Walmart/grocery store and purchase items
  4. In the kitchen, take a plastic shopping bag and place the items for that week in the bag. 
  5. Measure out items like baking soda, salt, etc into small sandwich ziplocks so that you don't need to put a 20 lbs of flour into the little weekly bag.
  6. Use a sharpie to label the bags with masking tape ie. Week 1, week 2
  7. Place all bags into a science box.

So easy and fun.  

The items that are perishable that must be purchased close to the time of the science week, I make a list and keep it as a shopping list. Since I am in a co-op, we keep to a regular schedule during the year.

Science notebooks
I have used notebook paper that is blinded together, but this year we purchased the spiral bound note booking journals for the colorful anatomy overlays and other fun interactive work.  I will let you know if I go back to a bad of paper next time.

Making your school week easier: Tapestry of Grace Part II

Prepare.  I use the summer time to be ready for the year when time is fleeting. Talking with some of you who read my last post on books think that I am an organizer, but I am NOT.  Actually, I have spent so much time looking for books, that I need to sort them this way to not LOOSE valuable time.

the assembly line for my three children in different learning levels
During my first years of homeschool, I often had the surprise of finding paper all over the place.  Writing assignments, rough drafts, science experiences, worksheets, would show up unexpectedly to my dismay.  It was similar to finding another dirty dish when you think your done cleaning the kitchen. I NEEDED order in my students papers.

The best way for me to organize my children's work is to prepare a working notebook.  Tapestry of  Grace that I use recommends this, but I believe it would be helpful for any program.

Numbered Tabs sold at Tapestry of Grace

I first get a notebook for each of my students.  I really like the numbered tabs to use as a divider for the first quarter (nine weeks). I keep all the weeks work: maps, worksheets, rough drafts, final copies, copy work, under that weeks tab.

Remember if you have a digital version, you will not have a "Loom" cd

    If you have the digital version, you print directly from the computer (no disk required)
  1. Use the Loom or print out the worksheets for your students level for one quarter 1-9
  2. Take the map aids disk or print out the digital version of your maps for each child.  I like keeping the teachers map /answer sheet on the cd so I can glance on it if needed.                                                 
  3. Fill notebooks.  I like to make an assembly line together and have the hole punch and have both the maps and the student activities pages out.  
  4. I like to put the map on the opposite of the geography assignment.

This is how I place the maps on the opposite side of the Geography Assignment on the Student Activities Pages

Don't worry if you don't know what tab to put the pages under.  Y2 means Year 2, W4, means week 4

It is often that I forget about the evaluations that Tapestry of Grace makes.  I learned that if it is not an oral test, it helps to print them out at the beginning of the year. 
  1. Print out each child's evaluations for the quarter.  If an evaluation is a fill in the blank, short answer, matching, I just place them in the week that they are being quizzed on.
  2. If it is an oral test, I keep a separate teachers notebook that is arranged by weeks for all the children.  
During the school year, we just open up the week in the notebook and the children know exactly what is expected from them.  I read to them the Week Introduction for all students.  Then we highlight the books that I want them to read.  We go over the writing assignment.  I use the notebook to put in the rough drafts or final copies under the week.  It makes it easy to find the work samples and my home is a bit of a paper-less mess.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Set Up Tapestry of Grace for the year PART ONE BOOKS

Well, it is how I set up Tapestry of Grace BOOKS.

1) You must purchase Tapestry of Grace.  I am using year 2, so that is the link, but you can do any year at any time.

Tapestry of Grace Year 2 Digital Version

2)  Books...
I know this is the major part.  When I lived in Africa, I just bought all my books because the libraries didn't know what they had and the majority of the time it was chaos.  However, now that I am in USA, I use my books that I have, friends, library, used bookstores, kindle/nook, then I buy some books.  This year I will be buying two books.  Yes!  Just TWO BOOKS.
I begin by printing out the primary resources and alternative resource pages from the Tapestry of Grace pages.

I place them in a notebook that is a TOG year 2 working notebook.

Then I see if I have any books- I put a check if I do on either the primary or Alternate resources.  Or if I don't want a certain book, I cross it out.  *there is only two books that we don't like in the Tapestry books so far (America:ready to us Interdisciplinary Lessons and With Pipe Paddle and Song)

I see if my friends have any books. If they do I put their initial beside the book and gather them prior to the start of school.

Fun part (for me at least), I can search two major library districts and I find if they have first the primary and only the alternate if I am missing a book in the primary resources.
For example:  If I needed for Dialectic Literature book "Almost Home" by Lawton and the library didn't have it, I would look up the alternate resource "The double Life of Pocahontas" by Fritz.  I won't have a worksheet for the alternate but, it would cover the time period or the person I was studying.

I then mark on my TOG book notebook beside the book an initial of the library so that I know where I need to request the book from or put it on hold.  Our library has a 30 day checkout period and a two week hold, so I can request way in advance for the books I need.  One weekly trip is all that is needed.

*Look also for the audio or downloadable e-books as well.  If you child gets a break from reading and can listen to the book.  How fun is that!

Then I go through each week, and see if I have any holes.  The major holes I look for is literature because TOG has great interactive sheets for the specific books.  Then I look if I need any history books that is not covered in the primary or alternate resource. I write in the working notebook my alternate book that I want the children to read.  (Very important or you will not remember that you have a different book and you won't ask your child to read it that week)

 However, if I see that UG has a book on Jamestown, and LG doesn't I will just let my younger daughter listen to some of Max's book.  Second, I then see if there is any other books at the library that will cover the subject.  "You wouldn't want to be a ..." series is fun and they are so new that TOG might not of used them because I have been using TOG for 5 years.

Then I type out a list of the still needed books.  This year I created a spreadsheet of the books and then did a cost of purchasing these books (amazon, Bookstore central). I kept that little list around when I went to second hand stores or garage sales.  I found about 4 or 5 titles for .25 cents a piece!

Now, it is almost time to purchase the needed 23 books.  But read on to find out why Palmer Public Library is the BEST.

AMAZING: This year I had about 23 books that I couldn't find, for LG, UG, and D.  I went and filled out a "book request form" at the local library.  They ordered EVERYONE!

I put my books in order from which week and unit on 4 shelves.  So, Unit 1 first shelf, Unit 2, second shelf, etc.

I also order them by weeks so I won't need to search the house for them. (biggest pain). After the school year is over, I make sure these books are around the home so that the children can re-read them. But, not the current year.

This is getting to long.  Part II will come out later.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chicken Pox... Clean Crawl space

Can you believe this happy, healthy boy has chicken pox?

It all started two nights ago.  Max complained that his back hurt.  Like ouch, ouch.  I said, "drink water and we will see on Monday."  The next day (Sunday) he says his back is hurting him.  He was at his grandparents home and played on the computer for a few hours. So, we all assumed it was sitting still too long.

On Monday morning, I decided I would call and get him a chiropractor appointment.  There was an opening, but after saying goodbye I told her I would double check to see how he was feeling today.  I asked Max, "Hey how is your back today?"
He replied, "Great! I think it was a mosquito bite. I don't need to see the Chiropractor!"

Laughing, I called the Chiropractor back, and told her what Max said.  She laughed and we hung up.

Just being an inquiring mind, I asked Max to show me his mosquito bites.  UGHH!  His back had about 20 welts/blistery looking things that looked exactly like chicken pox.  We confirmed it with a dr. appointment.

The funny thing is that Max didn't even know what a blood pressure was because he hasn't been to a doctor in over 3 years!

He has no symptoms today other than some ugly sores that are itchy.  He says he feels like a time bomb, that will only hurt others but is not too bad for him.  So, we are at home.  I am clearing out the crawl space listening to screwtape letters by C.S. Lewis.  The girls are at grandmas and the home is TOOOO QUIET. We are listening to Jungle Book unabridged on CD while I knit.

I love my little man.  He has done some research to find out all about the chicken pox.  He told me that it has nothing to do with chickens.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A dream come true

Classical music playing, game of Sorry in the living room, bikes spinning, and play-dough creating sundays.  Seven wonderful children enjoying life in my home.

It makes leaving home harder, but what a joy to stay and create (knit), clean, bless others with baking.  Life will need to wait, precious children deserve rest from the hub-bub of life.

Yesterday, when I only had 5 children, we went to reflection Lake and had a small hike (part of my dizziness road to recovery).  It was a blessing to see them interact with God's beautiful creation.  No complaining, just a great way to get away from the Palmer Wind.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mighty Hunter Ella

These two were in my yard, how easy to shoot.  
"So Hunny, I want to shoot a moose.  I am tired of buying hamburger at $4 a lb," declared Ella.  Her humble husband just laughed.  "I see them all the time, I just need to get someone to give me a gun and a license and I will kill it and fill up our freezer."

I am totally serious.  However, as I looked into everything and thankfully, I have many friends who know how to pack meat.  I have researched and read many sites like this one... Hopefully, James will stop laughing and use the axe to break the rib cage (looks tough). James jokingly said I will have my kindle fire open and you tube videos showing how to dress the moose (and that means cutting it up so you can put it into your freezer.  It has nothing to do with clothing.)  See, I am learning.

Second, my dizziness is gone, so I am off to hike.  Thanks for praying.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Best Alaskan Hike Ever!

Kesugi  Ridge Hike in Denali State Park.  Just a mere 2 1/2 hours from my home in Palmer. 
Starting out on a hot day in Alaska at 3:12 pm.  We spent the afternoon visiting the quaint little village of Talkeetna. 
 Carrying all of our food, lodging, etc the first day should of been the hardest.  However, the trail is laid out so smoothly with great switchbacks, it seemed easier than Lazy Mt.
 Goodby trees.  We take our break at the start of the alpine ridge.  Another group of day hikers came just to below where we stopped (ate dinner) and returned for the night.  We were just about 1 hour or so until our camp for the night.
 The Whipples (Diana and Ben) are joining us for the adventure.  I just love the sheet of rain in the background.  It never crossed the ridge that night.
The second morning, we needed to cross a boulder section that Willow was a bit unsure of, but she made it.  She didn't like hearing the rushing water underneath.
Willow would run ahead, chase pika and enjoy the open tundra at least on the first and second day.
One of my favorite times, knitting and listening to Sherlock Holms read by Ben and James.  We had a 2 hour lunch break.  We finally got a glimpse of Denali just durning our time sitting.
lots of little streams to cross

Most of the trails for the first 2 1/2 days was this big open expanse.  You could see for miles and miles.

Getting close to the end of day 2, we found a little lake to camp by after we hiked around the bedroom sized boulders!
Then, she appeared.  Denali is just towering over the other mountain range.  It was our first top showing of her face. Yes it is 11:22 pm.
If you can see, there is a think morning fog.  We couldn't see 1 meter out of our tent in the morning. But, the sun dried it all away and left us with the clearest shot of Denali before we started hiking on Day Three!

It was fun crossing the snow patches and seeing our little mountain to guide us during the morning hike.

We had some dips into a valley crossing a river then back up again.  Still breathtaking!

Watch out Road Runner!

First slide of the hike!
interesting Rock Formations
Enormous trees had been blown over in a terrible wind storm.  It looked like a giant just toppled them over.  It made this section after lunch the hardest.  The ground was swampy so, the boards to walk on was ruined because of so many overthrown trees.  Carrying the backpacks made it extra challenging leaping over the trunks if they didn't have branches.  Oh, I haven't mentioned but it is about 80degrees and Sunny.
After loosing my camera, we made it out of the trees fallen forest.  I also had to pull Willow out of a swampy black pond that wanted to take her and gobble her up.  Thankfully, her pack has a handle and I was able to pull her out.
The silent camp as most were tired and wanting to sleep.
Highest point of the trip, day 4.  Only down from here.

Trying to cool off (did I mention we only hiked in SUN!), I PUT SNOW into my handkerchief and wrapped it around my neck.
We ran out of sunscreen! So we hid from the lunch sun while the boys got us some fresh cold water.
Intersection of the trail heading out of the alpine tundra and into the forest on the way to that lake down to the left called Byers Lake.
See the difference
Cool waterfall we soaked our heads in.
Nice suspension bridge, almost there!

Samatha was waiting for us, for the nice ride to Fairbanks where Diana and I ran a 10k the next day in memory of her brother.  The worse part was the mosquitos during the last hour of the hike into Byers.  They were so thick we were eating them.

James' photos

First night home

2 hour lunch & fresh coffee

Willow on day 3 and 4 didn't chase after too many things and laid down when we stopped.  I am sure she was thinking, when are we getting home?  She loved the tent and was the first to go to sleep at night.  Praise God she didn't aggravate James' asthma.  

our faithful stove on morning day 3

I love kissing Him! 
At the end of the hike, I tried to summarize my walk with the Lord.  We spent some of the mornings reading scripture together, some times journalling, but the continual majesty that was displayed around us made me believe I was delighting in Him constantly.  I loved how Denali just TOWERED over all the other mountains and made it stand out like,"I am God and there is no one like ME!"  I do have an all-powerful and creator God!  Love HIM!