Friday, April 29, 2011

Living in a miracle

Psalm 27:13
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

So many days, as I'm wandering through my day, I miss what God is doing.  I'm busy or lost in my own thoughts and fail to see the details that He has orchestrated just for me.  It's not that I don't want to see them, but just that I'm not looking or not listening.  It's a journey - learning to live my life in a way that fully embraces God.  There is just so much more that I have to learn!

Then there are other times when God's hand is visible.  When the details of a prayer are answered.  Sometimes they are answered even if you didn't utter the prayer.  Often it is a sweet reminder that He loves me, knows me and is there for me.

And then there are times that are big.   Times that just leave me speechless.  Times when I marvel at what He has done.  Times when I know that I've just been a part of a miracle.

Last week, was one of those times.

We were on a field trip to a local organic farm.  We split into 3 groups and I was with the group that started off on a hayride.

 We headed across the highway from the place we'd started and were touring a field when it started to rain.  It had been forecasted to be a beautiful, sunny and warm day.  So far it was overcast, cool and now this ... rain.  It wasn't on anyone's list of fun for the day, but it was light and nobody seemed to be minding it.

We stopped to see some rye in the field while the farmer told us about it.

He also told us about the red clover growing amongst the rye.  It helps to add nitrogen back to the soil.  After this learning pit stop, we continued through the field.  We went a bit further and then turned back into the field.  Within a minute, the peaceful scene would change.

My back was to the road, but the gals facing the road yelled and I turned to see a car flipping in the air.   Completely flipping into the air and land in the field.  We yelled at the farmer to alert him to what had happened as he couldn't hear anything above the noise of the tractor.  I called 911.  This was the one scene that we recall with humor.

I explained that we were on a hayride and had just witnessed an accident.  I was asked numerous questions.  How many people are in the car?  I couldn't see because we were in a field on a hay ride.  Could I get close to the vehicle?  No, I'm with 15 young children on a hay ride.

We drove back closer to the accident.  The farmer went to help and returned visibly shaken.  His words then are etched in my mind.

"The vehicle landed where we were stopped just moments before.  If I hadn't taken that detour ..."

This brings back tears just recalling the event.  The car had flipped 2-3 times in the air before landing.  It was really up in the air.

Oh thank you God for the rain that perhaps caused our detour.  Thank you God for moving us from that spot just in the nick of time.  Thank you God for sparing us from what would have most certainly been horrific.

Psalm 32:7
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. 
Psalm 41:1-2
Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life;

The rest of our group on the other side of the highway heard horrible noises - and the farmer's wife and other workers flew from the barns fearful of what they would find.  Fearful that the crunch of metal was the haywagon.  Fearful of finding a nightmare.  Thankfully the driver of the car was able to walk out!  All of us are safe.

From an eyewitness, the driver swerved in the road, over corrected and then hit the ditch.  This sent it flying into the air - turning and turning before coming to a stop at the edge of the field.

It was all many of us could talk about.  God saved our lives.  God protected us.  God was right there in that moment visible to us all.

I know He is always with us, but this time it was just surreal.  Even a week later as many of us gathered today for co-op, we reflected on that moment.  It's hard to explain to someone not there what a profound experience this was for all of us in that wagon.

And lest that not be enough, many of us again today saw God's hand.  While we were roasting marshmallows in a fire pit in my backyard, the winds started rising.  (We were expecting a storm and were prepared to get out of it as soon as need be.)  While we were all around the fire, a tree fell.  Not far from us and in the opposite direction from where we were gathered.  God's hand pushing it away from us.  Protecting us.

Thank you God for protecting all of us.  Thank you for this amazing opportunity to share with our children about your strength and provision and to point to the miracle that happened.

In some ways it is also hard to post this given the devastation that has occurred in our country with the tornadoes.  I know that there are times when horrible things happen.  Far too often.  I know that life often doesn't go the way that we hope or dream or expect.  Life is often not fair.  Even in the midst of hard times though, or maybe especially so, praise for the One who loves us completely is good for our heart and soul and mind.

Lord I praise you for you are powerful and mighty and good.  Thank you Lord for allowing us to see your hand at work in our lives.  Give us eyes to see more clearly the many ways you are moving and working in and around us every day.

In His Mighty Grip,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beyond Co-op: Boxcar Children #1

Oh, what a delightful day!  A fun way to start out new unit on The Boxcar Children!  We had beautiful weather and amazing teachers!  First we entered "the Bakery" to start our learning.

So many fun things to learn about ... wheat, grains, expressions related to bread and more!

A display of various grains and breads.  The children each had either a picture or a word and they went to match up their card with the actual item on the table.

They did pretty well too!

Can you read this list?  It's expressions or saying that relate to bread in some way.  An example is that wealthy people are sometimes referred to as "upper crust".  The story behind this is from several hundred years ago when wealthy people were served just the upper crust of the bread while the bottom of the bread which sometimes burned in the baking was reserved for the servants or poorer people.  

They learned about various grains and the scientific group/family to which they belonged.  Some are actually grasses.  All of this was very interesting to me as I'm learning about grains as we prepare to go gluten free most likely this summer.
A drawing of a piece of wheat and a discussion about it's various parts (and the difference between white and whole-wheat).
Next the children acted out the story - or the first several chapters of it.  They were each selected to act as one of the characters in the book might act.  (Older boys were Henry, younger boys were Benny, etc.)  Below is "Henry" carrying "Benny" at the beginning of the story as they leave the bakery.
Their travels took them all around the yard.
Stopping for some water at the "fountain".
Bread from the bakery.  (This was rice bread - gluten free.  I was not excited about how it tastes and neither were most of the kids.  LOL)

The found a boxcar which was just perfect for sleeping in!
Milk was kept cool in a nearby stream in the "refrigerator" that they made.
The last lesson was on nutrition.  They discussed the food pyramid and the importance of having items from each part of the pyramid.  They were then given things in order to make up a menu for their own restaurant.  What an awesome job they did with it too!  I loved seeing how hard they all worked to come up with menu items and some even listed prices!  They named their restaurants too!
They spread out all over the back yard to think, create and work.

A bountiful snack!  Some of the cookies were gluten free and they were amazing!!!  I was very excited about that possibility!  Thanks Lynn!
They were each given a pocket with the food pyramid on it.  Attached to the pocket was a ring with all of the items that they should be eating in a day.  As someone ordered from the menu, they would place the appropriate item in the pocket.  This allowed them to see how well they did in eating from all of the food groups.  Isn't this neat?!!!
This is a great tool that we'll be able to use again and again!
Thanks Lynn and Adele for an amazing day!  We learned a lot and had a great time too!  I love learning with friends.  


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Field Trip - Oceans and You

One of the downsides to falling behind in blogging is that some of the details just fall out of my mind.  Does this happen to anyone else?  *sigh*  Just too much stuff in there some days and somethings have to move out to make room.  LOL

We planned a field trip last month to learn about oceans.  We had someone coming to teach us and we planned to meet at a park.  Unfortunately, the weather was a little uncooperative.  Thankfully, we were able to get space in our church at the last minute and learn some fun new things.

We split into 2 groups - an older and younger group.  As usual, I hung out with the younger group.  They talked about the world and the oceans in the world.  The teacher covered some basic facts on the ocean with the kids.

They then made "flinkers".  It is an object that is a mix of floating and sinking.  It was about half and half.  (What was the tie-in with this and the ocean theme?  I don't remember.  Can one of you other FIAR gals that was there help me?!)
Its hard to tell in this picture, but this cork is not completely floating or sinking.  Half of it is below the water line.
The kids each worked on making their own flinker.  They used nails and thumb tacks to try to make their cork float - and sink.  What a fun, wet project.  I did have one though that just didn't want to get wet - or participate.  Its hard on some days to figure out just what to do to help him jump in.
The kids were split into 4 groups so that they could learn and have fun together.

They also talked about water displacement and did an experiment with 2 sizes of empty coke bottles which they then filled with water.

Which is heavier?
Which requires more effort - holding up the water bottle or pushing it down into the water?
While we were there, we had to be careful of the painting project going on in the children's area.  This is a peek at the project.  Its finished now and looks so awesome!!!
While waiting for his group, Christopher decided to pitch in and help with the painting!
Making oceans in a bottle.  She had various kids assigned jobs such as adding glitter or food coloring, water or oil.

A group photo!
Now showing off their oceans!
While waiting for the other group, we had space to play and hang out.
The older students learned about pollution and its effects on the ocean.  The first project had to do with an oil spill.  I asked one of mine for details on this and I don't know whether to be encouraged or disappointed that the detail recollection is about as good as mine.  Hmm ... maybe neither of us was paying great attention that day.  I'll add in more details if I can get them from the other participant.

Here are more details from my sweet friend Rebecca (also in the comments, but added here for any who might not read the comments.)

The older kids group worked to contain an oil spill. They were given tools(straws, nylon, hair) and were to make a plan for clean up, not knowing when the spill would happen. Once the "disaster" hit, they scrambled to contain, filter, and protect the "wild life" in the area. Great class and lots of fun!

Various items that have been left in the ocean.  The students had to rank them based on how long they thought it would take each item to decompose.
We did go outside for a bit when the kids (ummm ... boys) needed space to be more active.  They took turns running races along the sidewalk.  My little miss had to get in on the fun too.

Hanging out with a friend is always fun.  Playing ring around the rosy adds laughter to the day!
Another fun day of learning - and adapting when things don't go as planned.  I've learned to relax more when my plans are changed and thats a good thing.  I'm really not in control anyway and it does not good to try to be, kwim?

Hopefully I'll be posting more tomorrow.  Going to try to post daily this week.  We'll see if I can do it!

Hope you are having a great week!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Something new

I'm so behind on things and I apologize for any of you that may have been checking to see if I've posted.  Last week was so very busy with the play - and I will post pictures soon!  Just need to upload them.  It was a wonderful week and I'm just still playing catch up.  Wanting to post a little something fun though.

In February, our Mom's meeting involved travelling to various homes to see another person's "set-up" for homeschooling!  Doesn't that sound like fun?  I loved the opportunity to have a peek at how someone else does school and to hear how she organizes and runs things in her home.  We visited 3 homes.  Part of the fun too came in riding from house to house with each other.  Lots of good time to talk.

A few years ago, I changed our dining room into a school room.  We just weren't using it often as a dining room and it made more sense to change its function.  This thinking outside of the box has been a great change for our family.  What wasn't working as much is the large furniture also in the room housing china, crystal and silver.  As I'm talking with friends, I begin pondering other changes to our room - simplifying it even more and making it more functional for our homeschooling.

After talking, a friend sent me a note letting me know she had found a table that she thought was what I was wanting.  (Simple and plain).  She was right - it was perfect.  So we then prepared to get rid of our current furniture.  Our friends own a store selling furniture so they came to take ours away and also bring the new table.  Here is a peek at our dining room/school room.

This is our room with the table cleared of books - and also before I had wiped down the pad on the table.  (The pad helped keep the table in "pristine" condition.)

 This is the china cabinet.  Perfect for displaying our china, but not really what we need for our family right now.
 The side board with books on it and under it and all around it.  LOL
This is the room mostly cleaned out from our school supplies.  It looks nice, doesn't it?  Too late, the truck was on it's  way. 

I don't think I mentioned, but this beautiful table arrived as a gift!  :-)  Thank you precious friends!  My sweet friend listened to a prompting from God and completely blessed me with this gift!

The room seems so big and empty now without the extra furniture.  I'm really enjoying the space!  I would like to add some more shelves of some sort - especially something to hold a lot of the boxes of projects and things that I use for Eliana and the younger boys.  I'm hoping that perhaps our furniture will sell and we can use the money to put towards some additional storage.  Until then, I have time to ponder what would work best for us.

I'm thankful for the change in our space.  I am hoping to continue to work through our house to simplify our things and make our space more livable for us.  I'm thankful for friends with generous hearts!  I'm thankful for a Father who loves me and provides all that I need and often what I want too!