Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Unexpected Delights

I love it when God surprises and delights my heart.  I don't know why I'm surprised by this as I know how I love to delight my children.  Its fun to meet a desire that they may not have even expressed or knew they wanted.  I know that God loves doing that for us too.  I wonder how often I may miss His efforts on my behalf. 

Just tonight as I was outside I noticed the sweet smell of honeysuckle and the sounds of birds in the trees.  It was fresh and clean and reminded me of being a child.  Isn't funny how so many memories are tied to smell?  

I was looking through some old blog posts tonight and seeing pictures of college visits 3 years ago as Christopher was trying to decide where to go.  Such a big decision.  One we prayed about often.  I also often prayed for his roommate.  Having worked in housing (and lived in the residence halls for my job), I remembered how important a good roommate could be!  I wanted that for Christopher.  

After posting Christopher's decision to go to State, I received an email from another homeschooling mom whose son was going to State.  We corresponded and then the guys started talking and they decided to room together.  I was excited about that!  We met in August and really hit it off.

That was the unexpected part.  It wasn't that I didn't expect to like his roommate's family - it was more that I hadn't even considered that God could have a plan for our families beyond the guys rooming together.  And when we enjoyed each other and liked hanging out - and then planned to get together again, it just struck me that when I prayed, God answered.  His answer though was so much bigger than anything that I asked for.  And it both surprised and delighted me.  Still does!

Joe's family was up visiting family locally and we were blessed to have them stay with us for several days!  We had a blast together!  Sure wish we lived closer together!  We mostly hung out around the house.  We talked, played games, played outside and just had fun.  

One day we went to Defy Gravity.  That place is so much fun!!!  As always we had a blast.  Its not an easy place in which to take photos, but I tried getting some of each of the kids heading into the ball pit.  Some doing flips and others just jumping in!

Thanks to Candace at http://www.mercyisnew.com for showing me how to do the collage photos!  So easy and fun at Picmonkey!  

We also celebrated Eliana's heart day!  Its been 6 years since our sweet girl had her heart surgery.  She is lively and happy and brings such sweetness to our days.  (She can also be a stinker too in case you think its all happy times.  LOL )

This was another time that God answered prayers in ways that were unexpected.  He showed me so much more of Himself than I  had known before.  He knew that my heart needed work and He sent a precious little girl to join our family to help mend my broken one.  I didn't see the blessings right away, but He was patient and taught me step by step (and continues to do so!).

We visited Moonberries for a sweet treat!  I love that they have gluten free options!  Its a safe and easy place that we all enjoy!

It was a gorgeous day and it was fun that Roger was able to join us too!

I'm thankful for family and friends that God has placed in my life.  He continues to teach me and bless me in ways sweet and unexpected.

Praying that you would see God's hand at work in sweet ways in your life too!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Before FIAR co-op: Jesse Bear

What a delightful book!  This is one of my favorites.  I have sweet memories of reading this book and doing fun activities with all of my children from it.  This was the book for this month's Before Five in a Row co-op.  We started with reading the book.  

One of the details that we noticed in the book was the butterfly.  The children then looked at a picture of many butterflies to try to identify the one in the book.  
We then looked at different seasons.  We talked about the weather and temperatures typical in each season and what you would wear.
The children loved taking turns dressing the bear!  (And adding in the weather elements.)
We also talked about good health and eating nutritious food.  This plate is a great visual of eating the right amounts of each type of food.  In using pretend food, the children were able to try to identify which category the food belonged to and put it in the correct spot on the plate.
This activity was the one that I think they liked best of all.  They were each given 2 pieces of paper.  One with bears to color and the second with squares listing the corresponding colors.
They each were given a baggie of gummy bears to divide up on their squares.
Then they colored the bears and counted how many they had in each color.
Of course, their favorite part was making the bears disappear!
Snack time included pears, carrots, dip and cheese sticks.
The last activity was this cute craft.  It was very hands-on though and so I didn't get many pictures.  The bear was made from grocery bags (2) and then cut out.  We punched holes in the bear so that he/she could be stitched up.  They were then able to decorate the bear with fabric, glitter, sequins, pompons and more!  As is typical, Eliana did not want to do much in the group so we brought ours home to finish here.
Meanwhile the boys met to discuss another chapter in The Mad Scientist Club book.  This chapter told a story about a missing pilot who had parachuted from a plane.  Everyone was out searching for him and the Mad Scientists had their own plan to reach  him.  They used science in figuring out with available information where they thought he might have landed and then set off.  It involved climbing some mountainous areas and crossing a river.  Joshua built this river scene from clay.

They ended up in an abandoned mine/quarry.  Daniel made his scene from legos.  Its in several parts.  The first is one of the boys radioing from a big tree to the rest of the group.

Crossing the river and one of the boys (Dinky) falling in.

Dinky warming himself by the fire.  Notice his shirt is off so that it can dry.

Part of the group finding the ripped parachute.
At the top of the quarry and seeing the pilot down below.
Overhead view of the pilot with some of the legos removed from the scene above.
Love the detail that he puts into his Lego creations!

We had a fun morning with our friends and as always are thankful for the opportunity to learn and have fun with them.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Work and play outside

We have been working to various degrees on preparing for a science fair.  We are doing this as part of our Beyond FIAR co-op this year.  This is the first time that my students have done this and they were excited about it.  Its been fun (and a lot of work too!).  

Daniel chose to do a baking soda  volcano.  He wanted to see if more vinegar or baking soda would make it more explosive.   

 In order to figure this out, we conducted tests.   
 Lots of tests.
While we were experimenting, Eliana decided to join us.

 She loved this one too!  It is hard to resist a volcano.

 Eliana enjoyed the experience more fully than some.

While we were working on volcanos, the rest of the guys were working on the yard and getting it looking nice.  Lots to be done, but it does look great now.  (Will have to post an updated picture soon.)  
 In all, Daniel did about 25 experiments (23 in one day that we recorded).
 Liked the looks of this one!

We have had some gorgeous spring weather this year.  Along with some really cold days too!  One warm Sunday, Christopher brought two friends home from church to have lunch and then we spent time playing outside.  We went to a nearby park.  Eliana started running as soon as she got out of the van to get to the playground.  
 While she was at the park, the older kids enjoyed frisbee.

 Never one to miss any fun, she finds people willing to play with her wherever she goes.  :-)
 Two beautiful gals - Rebecca and Emily.
So thankful for days like this.  Days to relax and play, days to work and have fun.  Days to enjoy the people we love.  Thank you God for these blessings!

With love

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Field Trip: Titanic Exhibit

We visited the Titanic Exhibit that is on display at the NC Science museum in Raleigh.  We went there once a number of years ago - but its been awhile and we were looking forward to seeing it again!

 A fun display for photo ops.
 George serves as a stand-in.  lol
 We were there on the 101st anniversary of when it was sailing.  It was wild and sobering to think that on this very day people were on this ship so many years ago, happy and enjoying the beauty of the vessel.
 There were no photos allowed in the exhibit so I don't have much to show you.  We were each given a ticket when we entered the exhibit.

 It was the ticket of an actual passenger on the ship.  The ticket listed the name, age and a little bit about the person.

It was interesting to all of us to find out more about "our person".  Most of us survived, but not all in our family.  Eliana had the card of the "oldest living Titanic survivor" who just died in 2009.

Some of the people in the exhibit were wonderfully helpful and informative and others seemed a bit stressed by the crowds.  One of the silliest comments I've ever heard in an educational setting happened this day.  Near the beginning of the exhibit there was a bottleneck of people waiting to get in.  (And nobody was complaining about the wait, we were all just waiting.)  I then heard one of the docents say to the other that the delay was  because "they are all stopping to read the information.  We are going to have to get them to stop reading the signs".  Seriously?!  lol

Thankfully the design and flow of the exhibit was much improved from this point on so that we could stop and read and enjoy learning more.  There are artifacts and photographs from the ship.  There is also a large iceberg that you can put your hand on to get an idea of how cold the water was that night.

It is an informative and sobering exhibit.  I do recommend it if you are in the area.  I highly recommend going in the afternoon.  It was quite busy in the morning and very quiet in the afternoon.

After touring, we went outside to have a picnic lunch.  There were so many groups there that day.  We decided that the next time we went back to the museum that it should be in the afternoon when it really cleared out.

I bought two books about the Titanic since the boys seemed really interested.  They poured over these books when we got home too!  Love it when a new book is really enjoyed!

We decided to go back in and explore the newest area of the science museum.  Another photo op with the Titanic exhibit.

 This new area is fabulous.  Very colorful and lots of things to explore.  Loved all of the hands-on exhibits.
 There was more to see than we had time for that day.  It will be fun to return on another day.
 Thankful for these resources in our backyard!  We are so fortunate!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beyond FIAR co-op: Neil Armstrong #2

For our second meeting while covering the book Neil Armstrong, we covered chapters 4-6.  The topics chosen from these chapters were knots and map skills.  We have found that it has worked well for our group to have two moms teaching each co-op and each mom takes a topic to develop.  Sometimes it works to just tackle one larger one as well.  

So our morning started with knots.  Everyone got a rope, though it looks like someone wasn't sure of that in this photo.  LOL

 They took time to practice making several different kinds of knots.
 For some this was familiar and for others it was new.
 This is a stopper knot.  Its the one that I learned (and remembered) from that morning.  I really like the way that it looks - all neat and tidy.  :-)
 I love hands-on learning and so does this group.
 Lots of interest in this activity - and that was without knowing what lay ahead of them too!
 They focused on 3 different knots and this was one of them.  I think it is the square knot.  (They did learn more than this though.)
 Love seeing little Eliana trying to tie a knot too!
 Now it was time to put their new found knowledge to the test!
 They divided into 3 teams for a relay race.
 The name of a knot was called out and each person on the team - one at a time raced down to tie on the knot.
 Any knots that weren't correct were taken off so that it could be tried again.
 And if you weren't sure, you could get some help from a teammate.
 What a fun way to practice knots!
 These are some of the books that were used.
 Next we moved onto map making.
 After some discussion, every had a turn at making their own map.
 Its always neat to see the differences in each person's projects!
 Some were  embellished.
 Some added lots of color.
 All were creative and unique.
 Some were from favorite stories.
 We celebrated a birthday during our snack time.  What a fun way to spend a special day - with lots of friends.

Another fun morning of learning.  Homeschooling with Beyond Five in a Row is so much fun!