Thursday, September 29, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
I have been having a private struggle with something. I have only told 4 people, one of whom is my husband, about this struggle. Today, while in Church, I was able to witness a tender mercy of my very own.
Struggles are never easy- even if we are faithful. When struggles are deeply personal, and stir old feelings, they can be painful and difficult to handle. As much as I write in blogs, I am a pretty private person, and I don't generally share the pains that are closest to my heart. I do, however, reach out to friends that I feel would offer helpful insight or uplifting council during these times. During this struggle I have often turned to scriptures like, Psalm 34:19 which says, A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. The scriptures have brought me comfort, but could not solve my problem.
In my struggle, I reached out to a dear friend of mine, and she wisely offered comfort, and added that she would seek helpful suggestions on my behalf. She talked to me a week later, with some very wonderful ideas on how to solve my issue. Trying them, however, I was met with failure. Frustrated and in need of help, I turned to another friend- this time looking for a way to (in essence) run away from my problem. My friend offered basic truths- this was not a problem I could run from consequence free, but she offered to help me nonetheless. Feeling backed into a corner (running away was not a good option) I reached out to my third friend. This friend lives in Utah, and is very very very very very very very busy. I wrote to her, and while I waited for her response I kept searching my scriptures, journaling my innermost thoughts and feelings, and praying for help.
A few days later I had a beautiful dream. I woke from the dream with a clear understanding of what needed to be done. However, my heart was still heavy. Just in time I received a response from my Utah friend. Her message was so beautifully and truthfully simple, and it came with a movie recommendation** (bonus!). I picked up the movie, had a home-date with Kurt, and felt much better about my decision.
Enter tender mercy (as if I hadn't already been given so many!). This Sunday I went to Church, and right after our Sacrament Meeting I was asked to meet with our Bishop. His words were EXACTLY what I needed to hear. His kindness, and his loving concern were EXACTLY what I needed, and were miraculously spoken on the topic closest to my heart! At one point, I started crying, and I apologized for him having to meet with me- but I expressed gratitude- surely one of my friends had called him on my behalf and had told him of my problem, because everything he said spoke to my deep inner struggle! He looked confused for a moment, and then smiled- no one had called him, he simply followed his prompting, exactly when he felt the time was right, and the topics of discussion were what he felt impressed to say. AMAZING.
My heart is full, and my head clear. As beautiful as all of these helps have been, I do understand that none of these things could have happened without my willingness to try and work things out for myself. Knocking, and asking for Heavenly help, had to come from my desire for assistance and not from a desire to sit in my personal emotional puddle (don't get me wrong, I wanted to do that! I wanted to sit, tell the world about my issue, and complain until everyone felt sorry for me... but, where would that have gotten me?). To my children- please learn from this- you must knock!
What was most amazing about this experience was that the perfect words from my Bishop only came after I had decided to do what was right. The Bishop's holy words were Heavenly confirmation that I had done the right thing, and my faithfulness was rewarded with a beautiful blessing. And, my decision to do what was right only came after study and council. There was some beautiful work done here, and I am very thankful for it. I am thankful for my friends, who offered help when I needed it, and offered prayers on my behalf. I am thankful for my Bishop, and his wonderful use of his Priesthood and position. I am so thankful for Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ- and the magnificent work they do in our lives each day!
** The movie was 17 Miracles and was totally amazing. It was a very humbling reminder that whatever struggle I am going through is pretty small compared to what many others have suffered. It was relevant to my personal struggle, so it spoke even louder to my heart- but it is definitely a movie I would suggest anyone see!
Kurt has this "thing" for keeping egg cartons. I have no idea why he does it, none at all. He didn't do it before we homeschooled, but for whatever reason he is obsessed with keeping them now! Because of this, I have a basket full of egg cartons! Knowing that Kurt wanted me to use them creatively, I googled "egg carton art" and found hundreds of ideas! Our first activity was egg carton caterpillars! An egg carton, cut in half, and painted! All we needed was an egg carton (check, thanks Kurt!), a few pipe cleaners (got em!), and googly eyes (have those too!!!). Add some paint- and voila! Art!!!
*Carter is Indiana Jones today. This art project was not a part of the k12 art curriculum, we decided to do this in addition to Carter's art lessons (current lessons, are "moods of lines")
Since attending Sean's birthday, Harrison has talked endlessly about birthdays. Being around a pretty good deal of young children, I can say this behavior is one of my FAVORITE things about this age group! Kids this age seem obsessed with birthdays! They want to talk about ages, themes, cakes, and gifts! Harrison has settled on a "Hello Kitty, Star Wars Lightsaber, Toy Story Birthday!" He has told everyone from grocery store clerks to kids he meets at the park about it! One thing that has not changed, is what he wanted as a gift.....
For almost 9 months Harrison has wanted a puppy. I am not sure if I wrote about it, but at one point he and Carter had a lengthy discussion on the subject:
Harrison announced, "Guess what, Mom?! Santa is gonna bring me a puppy!!!"
My response was, "Um... uh... what?!"
Carter chimed in, "Harrison, that's silly, Santa doesn't bring puppies!!!"
Harrison glared at Carter, "Yes he does!!!!"
Carter continued to try and use logic, "Harrison, puppies are dogs. Santa doesn't bring dogs, he brings boxes. You can't put dogs in boxes- they'd have no air!"
Harrison folded his arms and firmly protested, "Yes he does- he is bringing me a WHITE PUPPY NAMED BEST FRIEND BONE!"
Carter and I both gave a heavy sigh, and dropped the subject...
Kurt tried to reason with Harrison. I tried to bribe him. No matter what we did, he INSISTED he was going to ask Santa for his white dog, named "Best Friend Bone" (Bone, for short). He told Cameron all about Bone, he told EVERYONE all about Bone. It was crazy! Finally, accepting there would probably be a "Bone" in our future, Kurt and I took the boys to a few local puppy stores* to see what Harrison was interested in, and to see how we would act around a dog (he is terrified of all dogs, we couldn't understand why he would want to own one if he was to afraid to touch one!). *I am firmly against "Puppy Stores" and would NEVER willingly buy any animal from one. However- we wanted to expose Harrison to as many puppies as possible, so we used the stores in our experiment.
Harrison picked a puppy. The woman put Harrison and I inside a small enclosure, and brought the puppy. The puppy didn't care about us at all, it just ran around like crazy. Harrison didn't seem interested. Harrison picked a second puppy. This puppy was PERFECT. The puppy loved Harrison, played with him, and enjoyed being with all of us. As anti-puppy farm as I am, I was SO ready to take him home (it was a VERY good thing Kurt was there to stop me! The price on said puppy was $1900! And this perfect white french bulldog would have been well worth it!). We left the store, feeling defeated- yeah, there would be a puppy in our future... sooooo, what do we do about our cat, trying to get Santa to deliver the puppy without the kids knowing before hand, vets, registration, walking said dog, etc? Not 10 minutes later Carter's eyes were practically swollen shut- his nose was running like a faucet on high, and he was itching like crazy. Carter is allergic to dogs!?! YEAH!!!! Kurt and I thought we had it made! We talked to Harrison, who (seeing Carter look so miserable) promptly agreed that a puppy was a bad idea. Before Kurt and I could finish our huge sigh of relief Harrison cheerfully exclaimed, "That's okay! Now I can have my birdie!!!" AHHHHH!!!
For about two years Harrison has wanted a bird. I have NEVER heard good things about birds (other than seeing SUPER cute videos of my friend Melissa's birds- but those are special parrots that are worth thousands of dollars each!), and we had hoped that Harrison's obsession with birds would eventually die off (which it did, when he decided on a dog instead). GREAT... SUPER....
We tried to talk him out of it. I tried to bribe him with Star Wars Legos of all kinds- but once we had hit the $400 mark and still had not sparked his interest, I knew we were in trouble. I tried to bribe him with vacations (Disney!? Don't you want to go to Disneyland!?), with costumes (how about 3 new Star Wars costumes AND a Buzz Lightyear costume!?), and with movies (Smurfs, Rio, and Cars 2?!?!?)... nothing. Harrison was dead set on owning a bird. Reluctantly, I took him to the pet store to browse around. With any luck, he would back down once he was forced to see how lame they were... right?
I was wrong. Soooooo wrong. I had been thinking that in order to have a bird that would allow Harrison to handle it, we would need an expensive parrot. WRONG! I was thinking that a bird would squawk and keep us up all night. WRONG! I was thinking a bird would drive my cat insane. WRONG! I was thinking a bird would bite, peck, and hate my kids. WRONG!!!!
Harrison found it. The perfect bird. A blue parakeet. He fell in love the moment he saw her! (oops, him... the kids are insisting it is a him.) The bird was very young, already had clipped wings, and was in great health. The bird had just arrived at the pet store (literally, just taken out of the box), and was very cute. Talking to the salespeople was very enlightening- they made it sound like owning a bird wouldn't be so bad. They actually giggled at a few of my concerns, and set the record straight. So, a few weeks before his birthday (because we didn't want some OTHER family adopting "Blue Angry Bird") we gained a new addition to our little family. I set up the cage, necessities, and toys (all totaling LESS than a single Star Wars Lego set would have been- for which Kurt was thankful!) and we introduced "Blue Angry Bird" to her (I mean, HIS) home. A quick text to my friend, Melissa, for some tips (give the bird time to adjust to new surroundings, don't handle her for a few days!), and we were good to go.
Blue has settled in nicely. Blue now enjoys being held by everyone in our family (wash hands before and after, boys!) and Amelie (my kitty) is uninterested in her. Blue enjoys having her belly stroked, perching on our fingers, and being talked to. In fact, if she hears the boys playing downstairs away from her for too long, she whistles until they come up and tell her hello =p! The boys are being SO GOOD about respecting Blue's desires and if she whistles to them, they are attentive- but if they are handling her and she flies to her own cage, they leave her alone. Blue is interested in Amelie, and has tried to get her to play... at least that is what we think she is doing- we have caught Blue waving bits of fabric around the outside of her cage in an attempt to engage Amelie in play... Amelie, however, just sits and stares- a mixture of annoyance and anger at the nerve of a bird to even look at her. Thank goodness for owning a wimpy kitty, lol! If Amelie is in the room (which is rare, as Amelie doesn't like children and avoids their bedrooms) Blue clings to the side of the cage nearest the cat and follows her. Crazy bird! It wouldn't be the first time one of the boys' pets has harassed my cat- the kids' dwarf hamster, Bob (you know, the one who moved to "Disneyland" *nudge*) loved to chase Amelie around the room- seeing the cat from from that tiny hamster ball was so funny! Amelie must have missed the lessons on the Animal Food Chain. (Speaking of- Amelie enjoys watching Discovery Channel shows about cats- and it is not uncommon for her to try and attack Kurt during or after the shows- in an attempt to be ferocious. So funny!!!! She never attacks him any other time- so we know it is the shows! Moral- be careful what your children (regardless of species!) are watching!!!) Blue loves her cage, and if we bring her out and she gets bored with us, she will flutter back inside. Harrison talks to her often, and it is very adorable to see him bond. Carter is excellent with her, and tells her things like, "Hello Blue! You are so beautiful! You have beautiful feathers, and feet, and eyes- I love you!" in a soothing voice. It is so sweet!!! Blue is quiet at night, and doesn't disrupt our sleep at all. Bringing her into our family was a good decision =)
Happy Birthday, Harrison!!!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
One of my favorite things about being a mother, is seeing my children grow and learn. This year, rather than choosing Sean's birthday gifts myself, the boys asked if they could pick out Sean's toys instead. Taking the kids to the toy store, letting them browse around trying to find what they felt Sean would love most, was such a neat experience! They both ended up picking some kind of transformer-ish looking lego-ish animal-ish robot-ish thing- one in red, one in yellow. The kids were SO THRILLED to get them! I was so proud when the boys did not ask for additional toys (for themselves), but instead kept trying to fill our basket with more toys for Sean! I ended up having to limit our children, their generosity literally overflowing. I asked them each to pick a single toy, and with glad hearts they thoughtfully made their selections. They couldn't wait to give their gifts!
Kurt's gift to Sean was a little red shirt with Lightning McQueen on the front. My gift to Sean is not yet finished, but hopefully will be finished soon! I am crocheting him a simple blanket made with yarn that Sean picked out with me =) It is red and yellow (I didn't realize until this moment that my boys had picked those SAME colors! They weren't with me when Sean picked out the yarn! Sean told me yellow and red were his favorite colors- how funny is that?), and nearly completed. Sean picked very soft yarn, and my hope is that my little blanket will remind him that I miss him!
When it came time to wrap Sean's gifts I ended up putting packing material over them, and letting the boys (Carter, Harrison, AND Kurt!) decorate the plain paper. They LOVED it! Each person enjoyed decorating in his own special and unique way- and they proudly brought their gifts to our favorite little Seaners =)
As the years have passed, I have found myself literally in tears over how blessed we are. I am so fortunate to have my children, and I am so grateful for Sean. I love Sean so much, and I am extremely thankful for my growing friendship with his mother- her gentle peace and her dedication to her son are truly a beautiful thing! My children still insist we keep a chair at the table for Sean- and it sits there, every day, every meal, empty- for him. The love my boys have for him is so touching, and it is so strong! I am thankful for the time we have gotten to spend getting to know Sean, he is a remarkable little boy!
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Harrison loves the bounce slides!
Carter enjoys his time on the bounce rides!
Thursday, September 8, 2011
"You homeschool? So, what do you DO exactly?"
Allow me to share!
We get up (whenever we feel like it!), have breakfast (always a cooked breakfast! MMmm!), and we have "homeroom." In our homeroom we do calendar activities and talk about the plan for the day.
- We view a large monthly calendar, find today's date, and mark the date with a star.
- We discuss what day today is, what month we are in, the season, the year, the weather- we track all of these on large and colorful dry erase boards.
- We discuss any events occurring that day. (Field trip? Teacher meetings? Soccer? Dentist?)
- We track and count how many days we have been in school, and keep 1 Popsicle stick per day- grouping the sticks in groups of 10 (and eventually 50, 100, etc).
- I list the subjects we will be working on- and I allow the children to choose their order. Carter picks his subject first, and (after breakfast) we make our way to the computer.
School. Now what?
We use the k12 online virtual classroom for Carter. This method is unique because it is homeschooling, but with the State of Nevada in charge of setting the standards and curriculum. Do NOT make the mistake of thinking that because the curriculum is set that I get to sit back and let the computer teach my son. Carter is in "school" for AT LEAST 4 hours per day. That is 4 hours of me sitting next to him and working with him directly. 4 hours of 1-on-1 attention. Harrison gets preschool work from a variety of sources, and he works for about 30-60 minutes a day.
Carter's Current Subjects:
Math (his favorite core subject- he ALWAYS starts the day with math! He can read, write, and recognize all numbers through 100 (and further, if you let him keep going!) categorize <,>,= numbers through 100, count by 5s ,10s, and 2s to over 100, and he can tell analog clock time. He adores math!) **Our curriculum did not help him understand the concept of numbers in relation to one another. Rather, another homeschooling mommy friend of mine gave me a new way of explaining numbers, and Carter picked that up and ran with it. RECESS TIME!
Phonics- generally his second chosen subject. I was terrified that k12 focused so heavily on phonics. TERRIFIED! Carter hated phonics when he was taught parts of it last year, and he preferred (still does) to learn words by flash-card. He doesn't feel like sounding things out- he wants to know them right now! His love of the flash-card style of learning has left him miles ahead when it comes to "sight words" (words that children are expected to memorize and know by sight) but had left him (and therefore, me) terrified of phonics. However, the k12 phonics program is AWESOME. Phonics feels more like a game than anything else! Carter works with a variety of tools, from magnets to finger-exercises, to help him practice phonics. Daily spelling, reading, handwriting practice, and dictation are also covered. MORE RECESS!
Language Arts generally comes third. I really like the way that Language Arts is taught by k12. Carter and I generally read a story (or poem), and then do some fun exercises about various parts or concepts of the story. One of the lessons was on a poem about caterpillars and Carter made a beautiful hanging butterfly with various observations about caterpillars and butterflies written on it. One of the lessons was on facial expressions and feelings represented found in Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. These activities are very challenging for Carter, because he has such a difficult time with auditory instruction. However, the fun in creating the unique visual aids makes it enjoyable to him! Sentence composition, grammar, and punctuation are also covered in Language Arts lessons.
Math, Phonics, and Language Arts are Carter's core classes and are taught daily. The rest of the subjects, listed below, are rotated throughout the week.
Music time! Carter ADORES music lessons! There are fun song sheets, videos, and CDs. We use props to help illustrate various lessons- and many of them are full of games too! These lessons are SO much fun, that Carter usually asks to repeat them when Daddy comes home! The music is fun, simple, and corresponds to actions/props/games of some kind- so Carter enjoys getting to move his body to the music!
Science!!! This is Mom's favorite subject! Carter enjoys the hands-on learning. Learning about the scientific method and its applications are so fun! Carter will tell you how it is better to measure with a (metric) ruler than with guesses/body parts/random objects. K12 teaches the metric system (which I appreciate!!!).
History! Carter can currently tell you there are 7 continents on Earth. He can show you each of the poles (and tell you which is which!), tell you the directions on a Compass Rose, and explain various geographical features on Earth (from desert to peninsula!). Carter's class took a field trip to the Art Museum and saw the exhibit on mummies and Egypt- how neat! Carter keeps a special adventure book full of the things he has been exploring- he is allowed to either write about a lesson, or draw a picture explaining it. Thus, he is explaining what he learned, and the material is absorbed better.
Art! Carter enjoys art (although not as much as Harrison!). Carter learns about different kinds of art (sculpture vs painting, portrait vs self-portrait) and then creates art of his own. He enjoys using the different materials that k12 provides, and seeing the difference that the various mediums create! Oil pastels are different than colored pencils, and paint is much different than crayon! Carter's art program allows him a lot of choice in his assignments, which encourages his creativity!
Study Island! A computer program with printable tests, worksheets, and games. The program allows Carter yet another way to get practice learning math and language skills. Carter really enjoys this, and I have had to postpone his Study Island sessions until all of his other work is done!
... and that is just Carter's school day. Harrison and Mom have to fit school in there too! (And let's not forget meals, cleaning, and errands!) So we are pretty busy! It is wonderful. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to have such a hands-on experience in my children's education. I am amazed at their minds, and the progress that I get to see them make! I am in love with the looks on their faces when they finally grasp a complicated concept. Such a beautiful thing!!!