Monday, January 30, 2012

Our December part 2-homeschool skating party

This summer, we were invited to join a homeschool group in our town. I was so excited because all of last year, while I had a lot of online homeschooling friends, I didn't have any in-real-life friends who homeschooled. The group has been such a blessing!

We get together with the about once a month, sometimes more, to let the kids play or to go on a field trip. It's a lot of fun for the kids and also for me. It's nice to get to talk to other moms once in a while.

My kids' favorite thing we've done with the group, so far has been roller skating. We've gone a few times over the last few months and the kids really enjoy it. I've been really surprised at how quickly they've learned (and that no one has broken anything yet).

In December, our group decided to do our Christmas party at the skating rink. The kids got to skate, play games, and eat cupcakes. Then, we played dirty santa for our ornament exchange. The kids were so cute! Some of them had pretty good strategy for ending up with the ornament they wanted. A couple of sisters worked it out so that they each had the ornament the other wanted and then they traded after the game was over.

Landon loves to visit the snack bar. Since our group has the place all to ourselves, the snack guy always makes us fresh popcorn. Yum!

Sierra's little friend loaned her some knee and elbow pads. They just made her even cuter!
It's dark out on the skating rink, so this is as close as I could get to a picture of them actually skating.
I love our group's shirts. The group name is "Tranformers for Christ." The verse is Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

We had a great time at the party! Can't wait to do it again soon!

Our balloon solar system

This year we are all doing Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy together (Dakota is also doing Exploring Creation with Physical Science on her own). I'd been wanting to get this book since last year and finally was able to get it (thanks to birthday money and a sale at Mardel) at the beginning of January. We're only on lesson 2 so far, but we're all really enjoying it.

Today, we backed up to the end of lesson 1 and did the balloon solar system model. We had so much fun with it! The book suggested that you use markers and construction paper to decorate the planets, but I decided to keep it simple. I mainly wanted them to learn the order and to get an idea of just how big the planets were in relation to one another.

Our first step was to blow up the balloons. This was Landon and Sierra's favorite part.

The book gave instructions on how big to make each balloon so that the sizes would be relative. Pluto was only 1/2 inch diameter while Jupiter and Saturn were over 25 inches.

We attached ribbons to the tops of the balloons and hung them from the ceiling in order. Dakota is the tallest of the four, so she got the job of hanging them.
Here they are showing off their creation. Landon wanted to "hold up the sun." Dakota put her hand around the "Earth" and said, "Look, I've got the whole world in my hand." The one Cheyenne is holding (and Sierra is helping with) is Jupiter.
While we were working, this song popped into my head and it's been stuck there ever since. Anyone else remember it?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What I learned at church today...

Our church's theme for 2012 is AMPED, which means: to be energetic; excited; to make larger or stronger, increase or extend; to develop more fully
(definition from the pastor's notes)

In January, we have been learning about different areas of our lives where we need to be AMPED.

This week, we talked about being AMPED in our giving.

I've struggled with tithing for a long time. It's hard enough to make ends meet already. Taking 10% of my income and giving it away seems crazy when I'm barely able to pay my bills with 100%. How in the world would I be able to make it with 10% less? It just doesn't make sense.

It used to make me angry to sit and listen to a pastor talk about tithing when I knew that I had little to nothing in the bank and several little mouths to feed. How dare he ask me to give him MY money! I've heard over and over people say, "The 90% can do so much more with God's help than you could ever do with 100% on your own." But mathematically, that doesn't make sense. 90% is less than 100%, so how could 90% possibly go farther?

But then, I realized something. Tithing is not about giving money to the pastor or to the church, it's about giving to God. AND, it's not my money at all, but God's money. He is the one who provided the job and the paycheck. He is the one who has given us the ability to work. All he asks in return is that the first 10% be given back to Him.

Over the course of our marriage, Daniel and I have sometimes tithed on what we've earned and sometimes we haven't. There have been times when the logic and math of the checking account has overridden our faith in God to provide what we need and we have chosen not to tithe. Other times, we have stepped out in faith and given even when it didn't make sense to do so. I can honestly say that the times we have stepped out and brought our tithe, God has supplied everything we needed. It doesn't make sense. It isn't logical. But it is the truth.

For the past 6 months or so, Daniel and I have been faithfully tithing on everything we receive by giving to our local church. Sometimes it is a little scary when I look ahead at the bills that are soon due and start subtracting them from the balance of the bank account. My brain will tell me that we can't afford it this week or maybe we should just do half this time. But I have faith that God will provide and He ALWAYS does. We are not millionaires. We haven't won the lottery. But, God has provided for our needs. Here are a few examples-

-a month or so ago, Landon lost his only pair of glasses. We were able to not only replace them but we had enough to get two pair so he would have a back-up. On top of that, we were still able to go and enjoy a trip to Tulsa for my birthday. (the very next day, Dakota found the missing glasses in the backyard. God has a sense of humor! Ha!)

-a couple of weeks ago, we needed to replace two tires on our van. We replaced 3 of them before our trip to Disney World and the 4th one was finally worn completely out. One of the others we had replaced before was separating. We were able to get them both replaced at the same time. All our bills were paid AND we had two brand new tires. Around here, that is a BIG deal.

Both of those needs were met with only 90% of our income! I truly believe that it is because we give that we were blessed with having what we needed when we needed it.

A passage I loved from today's sermon is Malachi 3:10-12 (New Living Translation)
"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies."

If you don't already, I encourage you to take the step in faith and bring your tithe to God. The passage above says "Try it! Put me to the test!" Give to God and see what He blesses you.

Our pastor issued a challenge today for everyone in our congregation to commit to tithing for the next 90 days. Join us in the challenge! I know you'll be glad you did.

Don't you think Landon looks handsome in his new glasses? God is good!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Our December-part 1 Green Belt Rank Test

One of the big events in December was when Dakota and Cheyenne had their third rank test for Tae Kwon Do. Their first test was for the rank of orange belt, which took about three months of training to earn. The second was for a green stripe on their orange belt. It took another six months. This test was for the rank of green belt and took an additional six months of training beyond their green stripe test.

For the test, all the students of the school (dojan in Korean) are allowed to dress in their uniforms and line up in front of Grandmaster Hwang, including the Tiger and Dragon classes. Sierra and Landon enjoy it because after the test, Mr. Hwang will write their name in Korean on their belt or uniform.

Here's Sierra warming up before the warm-up. :)
One part of the test was demonstrating forms for Mr. Hwang. Each advancement in rank requires mastery of new, more difficult forms.

They also had to show mastery of new self-defense techniques.
Both girls advanced to green belt. I'm so proud of them. It takes a lot of work and dedication to earn a green belt. They are in class 3-4 days each week and practice at home as well. When they test next time, it will be for a purple stripe on their green belt. It will most likely take a year or more to prepare for that test.

I love Cheyenne's face in this picture. She has good reason to be proud of herself.

It is an honor to have the Grandmaster present for the rank tests. Landon is always one of the first in line to get his belt signed.
Tae Kwon Do has been so good for my kids! It's about so much more than just learning to punch and kick. I can't wait until I can post pictures of their black belt tests!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mr. Gappy

Monday night, I left Daniel home in charge of Landon and Sierra while I took Dakota and Cheyenne to Tae Kwon Do. When I left, both of the children were in one piece, but when I came home I found this (he took it himself)
Here's one I took.
I'm trying to be okay with this. It just makes me a little sad that Landon and Sierra are old enough to lose their top front teeth. Kids' looks change so much when their adult teeth come in. There is a little part of me, though, that kinda hopes the other one comes out before the new tooth grows in, though. I think he would look adorable missing his two front teeth!

For now, both of Sierra's front teeth are still holding on pretty tight. I'm glad because I don't think I could handle both at the same time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Getting back to the dance

The past couple of months have been a bit "off" at our house. I can't really put my finger on what the difference has been, but we just haven't been ourselves lately. I'd like to blame it on the busyness of the holiday season but I don't think that's all of it. Mostly, we've just been in a funk. We've been going through the motions and getting through each day but that's about it. And so, I haven't really felt I had much to share here.

But yesterday, I decided I've had enough of this funk. We are going to get back to enjoying each and enjoying life. Here are some of the steps we are going to take to get back in our "groove."

#1-get back to eating together. 99% of the time, our family eats dinner together. But breakfast and lunch have become a different story. At breakfast, each person's been eating whenever they get ready and whatever they can find. This just doesn't get our day started off right. So I am determined that on weekdays we are going to eat breakfast together. I may or may not make something everyday but even cereal is better together. The same goes for lunch. Even on sandwich day, we will be eating together.

#2-get back into a school routine. Last year, I had a boxed curriculum that told me what to do and when. The first curriculum I bought this year required so much extra planning and tweaking from me to make it work for us that it really affected our routine. I found myself spending so much time on planning and researching that I didn't have much time left for actually doing the work. Last month, I bought some new materials and I think they are really going to help us get back into the swing of things.

#3-eat dinner earlier. The past 6 months or so, it seems our dinner time has gotten later and later. There are a couple of reasons for this-Daniel's work schedule and the kids' Tae Kwon Do classes. It's always been important to our family that we eat dinner together, so we try to wait for Daniel to come home before we eat in the evening. With his work schedule right now, he doesn't get home until around 8:00 most nights. That itself wouldn't be too bad if I was able to have dinner ready to eat when he came home, but I can't do that. The kids TKD classes most evenings are over around 8:00 as well and then it's a half-hour drive home. This puts me starting dinner around 8:30 and us eating sometime after 9:00. This is not good for us in a lot of ways. So, as much as I hate to do it, the kids and I are going to have to start eating before we leave the house in the evening. Not only will it be better for us, physically, to eat earlier, it will also mean we have some down time in the evening before the kids go to bed.

Okay, I feel better already. We're also going to be cutting back the amount of time we spend online, so I should be getting up from here and getting something done. It's just about time to start our schoolwork.

Before I go, here are a few pictures from the last couple of months.

We went to visit the replicas of the Nina and the Pinta when they sailed near Muskogee. Very cool!

We went to a Thanksgiving party with our homeschool group.

We made a Thankful tree to put on our front window.
We learned about birds.
And I almost burned down the house.
And that about covers November.

December pictures to come later.

It's good to be back!