Archive for February, 2011

Hair By Gracelyn

Eliana sat so patiently and Gracelyn did this entirely by herself.  She says that she wants to be a hairstylist when she grows up and with this creativity, she may just make a great one!

By the way, those bangs that only go 3/4 of the way across…those are courtesy of Gracelyn from another time that she decided to play hairdresser with her sister!!!



Happy Love Day!

“My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15 : 12-13

Weekly Wrap-Ups

I’ve fallen behind in my homeschool weekly wrap-ups, so this is a quick recap of the past three weeks or so.

Art Classes – most of the kids have been taking art classes on Tuesday mornings.  Each week there is a different project and they incorporate learning in as well, either about an artist and their style or technique or about social studies or science.  Their favourite one by far was the African Masks.  This one made by Sedaya impressed the instructors and I was blown away:

Gracelyn (who loves art) also took a 4 week sketching class on Fridays and really enjoyed that.

Drama – Eliana and Sedaya took two drama classes, one on Musical Theatre and one on Movement in Theatre.  Combining their love for dance, singing, and drama made the Musical Theatre one a favourite for them and true to form, my dramatic divas gave quite a performance at the end!!!

Cross Country Skiing – Jonah, Gracelyn, Josiah, and Elijah have all been taking cross country ski lessons.  This is the first year that our community has offered them to homeschoolers and the two hours of fresh air and exercise ensures that they sleep soundly those nights!

Swimming – Jonah completed the last level of swimming last session, so he isn’t taking lessons this time, but Eliana is now old enough that she can go and she is thrilled!  She could hardly sleep for a week before swimming started.  She has been watching her older siblings go off to their lessons for years and she could hardly wait for her turn!  The added bonus of course is that my mom usually takes them to their swimming lessons and to the one hour free swim after lessons, so getting to spend time with Gramma only makes it that much better!  Gracelyn, Josiah, Elijah, and Eliana are all taking lessons and on Early Dismissal days, Mackenzie has been joining them for the free swim afterwards.

“School” – With all those activities and Jonah’s hockey, it’s a wonder that we get any actual work done, but we have managed to.  We have worked our way up to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the Story of the World, started a new devotion book, and have been learning about money.  The three 8/9 year olds are using workbooks called Canadian Money.  Jonah is working on Daily Grams, spelling, devotions, Math, writing activities, a novel study, and a Map book.  Josiah is also working his way through a Daily Grams book.  We are all still doing a fair bit of memory work…a poem, quotes, and scripture verses.

Blind Taste Test – I saw this bottle of a new version of Pepsi called Pepsi Throwback and I decided to set up a blind taste test to see which I preferred.  I let Jonah and Mackenzie do it with me too just for fun.  The younger kids all wanted to play too, but I’m pretty strict about letting them drink colas, so instead, I made them a blind taste test using water from the tap and water from the water cooler.  It was just for fun, but it gave us the chance to discuss blind studies, placebos, how expectations affect results, and marketing.

To read weekly wrap-ups of other families and get great ideas, go to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Princess and the Frog Party

For Sedaya’s sixth birthday party, she wanted a Princess and the Frog celebration.  Here are some highlights:

For step-by-step instructions on how to make the frog cupcakes, click here.

Unfortunately, on the day of the party, the roads were terrible, so we had a lot of no-shows, but Sedaya still felt like the princess she is and that’s the important part.

If you want ideas for having your own Princess and the Frog party, I have written out details here.


Stuck in the “Waiting Place”

A few weeks ago, I had my day planned down to the minute.  I showered, got dressed, checked my e-mails, made sure the kids were fed, helped one of my daughters pack a snack, did another daughter’s hair, loaded up the van with stuff and kids, and headed out.  I dropped my oldest daughter, Gracelyn off at her art class and remembered to exchange numbers with another of the moms like we had planned.  I then had a two hour window before I had to return to pick her up.  I wanted to get as many errands done as I could.  I returned library books, took the trunk full of cans to the bottle depot, rented a movie, stopped to get gum for my second oldest son because his younger siblings had taken the gum he had bought himself, gassed up the van, and got in the line to go through the car wash.  Where I live, the winter weather has been all over the place and the salt they use on the roads to make them less slippery is hard on vehicles.  I only had this one day that I could wash the van because it was set to go into a deep freeze again the next day.  When I got into that lineup at the car wash, there was more than half an hour before I had to pick my oldest son Mackenzie up at school just a minute away from there and then ten minutes to get back to Gracelyn’s art class after that, which is exactly what the drive would take me.  I wasn’t worried at all about the time.

Ten minutes later, the line had moved very little and I was starting to get worried.  I looked for a way out of the line, but could see none.  There were cars in front of me and trucks behind me and on either side of me, curbs, which would normally not be hard to get over, but they were covered in snowbanks between five and six feet high.  There was no way I could get out of there.  When twenty minutes had passed and I was still not even at the front, I had to rethink my original plan.  It seemed obvious that there was no way I would be able to pick Gracelyn up on time.  Mackenzie has taken a cell phone with him that day, as he was writing finals and finishing early, so I texted him that I would be late and knew that he had a safe place to wait for me.  Then I called my husband, who works not too far from the building that the art class was in and asked if he could please pick her up.  After explaining my situation, he gladly fetched her and later dropped her off at my next stop.  In the end, my van got washed, Mackenzie got picked up, as did Gracelyn.  It all worked out.

But as I sat there in that lineup, completely stuck, in a situation that was not in my control, I got to thinking about the ways that this paralleled life at times.  There are times in our lives when we are in a situation where we are essentially stuck.  Sometimes, this situation is one that a choice that we made got us into, just as my decision to enter the car wash in the first place had put me in that position.  Other times, we are stuck due to circumstances that we did not initiate.  Whatever the case is, being held hostage against your will is not an enviable spot to be in.

There are of course times in life when we may feel stuck, but by making choices and changes, we can determine our own fate and get out of the situation we are in.  What I was thinking about are the times when no choice we make or change we initiate will get us out of what we find ourselves in.

For some, it may be a chronic illness that they find themselves having to cope with or the fallout of the choices of a family member of close friend that create the unenviable circumstance.  The aging of parents, the death of a loved one, unemployment, or even being a student are circumstances that can make people feel “stuck”.

In Dr. Seuss’ book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”, he talks about this as being the “waiting place”.   He calls it “a most useless place”.  About this, Dr. Seuss and I will have to disagree.  I think that in the waiting place, a lot can be learnt, character can strengthen, and relationships can transform.

One of the times in my life when I felt stuck was during our last adoption when we were waiting for years.  In that case, we had made the initial choice (choosing to adopt) that had put us there, but everything after that was beyond our control.  We were stuck in waiting mode for nearly three years and our lives were in limbo, unable to move forward until that piece of our family was complete.  More recently, when Gracelyn was very ill for eight months, we were again stuck.  All of our choices were coloured by the not knowing from day to day what would happen.  We were unable to plan even one day ahead and were stranded in a life that we could not escape from.  Both of those were scary times and the feeling of not having any control was awful.

For me, my faith got me through those times and others in my life when I have been in the waiting place, when I cannot turn left or right and have snow banks on either side of me.  When there is a giant SUV in front of me and a truck near my bumper behind and I am just stuck, it has been knowing that God is in control even when I am not that has made it possible for me to try to find the blessings even in the waiting place.  One song that I found comforting during our adoption wait is called “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller.

The only thing we have control over when we are in those places in life when we are stuck in a circumstance we would not choose and cannot get away from, is our attitude.  Waiting can teach us about patience.  It can uncover an inner strength that we did not know we possessed.  It can build in us persistence and it can reveal the relationships that are true.  Waiting can be a gift in itself.