Tag Archives: homeschool

Final Post

Who needs T.V. when you can watch him all day?

Who needs T.V. when you can watch him all day?


First, I just want to let you all know that this is our last post. The end of this school year also marks the end of our 2-year experiment with having the internet in the house and we’ve decided we can live without it. We also got permission from our landlord to move the T.V. into the attic! The condo we are renting came furnished and while everything else in it has been a huge money-saving blessing, the T.V. has not. Up until our move here we had never had one in our home and while it initially felt like a fun vacation-style perk we’ve been here long enough now that it’s time to get back our principles, so out it goes!
Putting the Bird Blog to bed...under Oma's State Birds Quilt.

Putting the Bird Blog to bed…under Oma’s State Birds Quilt.


Tuesday was Recitation Day which we held via Skype with the grandparents. We were also videoing at the same time and I was so overwhelmed with all these new fangled technologies as well as running the ceremony and trying to keep Gideon from eating the State Reports that I completely forgot to take any pictures! Any way, here is the run down of our program which the boys performed beautifully:

Opening Prayer by Titus “Lord, Teach a Child to Pray”
Apostles Creed by Joel (I know this is usually reserved for church services but the fact is that EVERY other thing we learn hinges on these important truths)
Key Note Address by Mom (transcript at bottom of this post)
Favorite Bird Hymns by All
“I Come to The Garden Alone”
“On the Wings of a Dove”
“Joyful, Joyful” (accompanied by Titus on piano)
Memory Verses A-Z by All
Favorite Bird Poems
“The Eagle” by Titus
“The Puffin” by All
“The Muffin” by Sam
State Report Presentations
“Alaska” by Sam
“Hawaii” by Nate
“Florida” by Joel
“Louisiana” by Titus
Closing Songs/Prayers
“The Heaven Bells Ring” an original composition by Joel
“The Doxology” sung in Hawaiian by Nate
Thank You, Lord” closing prayer by Nate
“The Queen’s Prayer” sung in Hawaiian by Titus

Sam and his home-made glow-in-the-dark Alaska state flag

Sam and his home-made glow-in-the-dark Alaska state flag


Happy Summer to everyone! I hope it’s glorious. We will be spending ours once again at Hartland Christian Camp which is in wonderfully close proximity to both sets of grandparents. So here’s to priceless time with friends and family! Cheers!
Hope some of your summer looks just like this....

Hope some of your summer looks just like this….


Oh, and here’s the transcript from my Key-Note speech:

“Mom, you’d be amazed at all the stuff I’m learning when you’re not looking.” So said my 10-year-old about half way through this school year. As humbling as those words might be to a teacher, they’re true. You couldn’t stop a child from learning stuff even if you tried. No matter what you do, or don’t do, a healthy brain cannot help itself from converting sensory data into knowledge of some kind. That’s just what our bodies are wired to do.

This year, more than ever I’ve been learning that my role as a teacher is less about filling their little minds with facts and more about filling their little hearts with delight. Delight is what gives all knowledge its meaning. It’s what makes facts relevant to a child’s life. Delight affirms that something is worth the knowing.

Psalm 111:2 says, “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.” What we call “doing school” is really just delighting in the works of the Lord together. My job is to plant that seed of delight in God’s works and nurture it and give them the tools necessary for studying that which they are delighting in. The germ of that seed, it’s most essential part, is the fear of the Lord. Psalm 111 closes with “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who practice it have a good understanding.”

This verse is why all our school days start with prayer, and hymn singing, scripture reading and verse memorization. Sometimes, our school days end with that too, because that’s all we get around to!
My carefully drawn out plans for our days don’t always come to fruition but what’s exciting about being a “delight-directed” teacher is all the unexpected fruit! It took me a while to adjust to the miraculous fact that while I might be planting apple-seeds my little trees are producing oranges! But at least they’re producing fruit, even if it is their own unique variety!

For example, given our daily delighting in music (my apple seed) I was more than a little disappointed that Joel didn’t want to take piano lessons this year (my coveted apple), but then he goes and surprises us all by composing his own music (a beautiful, plump, juicy orange). Here’s another: when it came time to transfer all the little state facts the boys had put on notecards into a proper report (apple), Titus balked and decided to write an epic poem about his state bird instead (orange) (Click here to read). Or Sam who couldn’t quite squint his eye enough to see this year’s Blood Moon we were observing through the telescope (apple) and instead ran inside and drew this beautiful picture of what he could see instead (orange). And sweet Nathan who at the beginning of the year seemed to be going backwards in his reading skills (apple) so I just put it on the back burner and he threw himself into math with a fervor (orange). Then at the end of the year he starts reading like he’s been working on it everyday for months. It was like picking peaches in the dead of winter!

In conclusion, as a teacher, I’m ever learning. Learning to not just love apples, and to expect them at some artificially appointed season. But to rejoice in oranges and pears
and bananas and each in their own good time. My students themselves are some of the Lord’s great works and studying them has become my greatest delight.

Like we all didn't see THAT coming!

Like we all didn’t see THAT coming!

Regattas and Run-aways

A Verse Hid In Our Hearts To access all of this year’s bird-themed memory verses A-Z click here.
A Hymn To Impart To access all of this year’s Bird-themed hymns click here.
A Sweet Little Prayer To access all of this year’s bird-themed prayers click here.
A Poem to Share To access all of this year’s bird-themed poetry click here.
How Our Week Was Spent
We had our first regatta. All the canoe clubs on the island were there and our club got 2nd place. We race in the specials because we’re the youngest and we got medals. There were big waves but we weren’t scared. Only Mom was scared. We get to have another race this weekend (by Titus, Joel, and Nate).

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Teacher’s Two-Cents
Run-aways

Run-aways


Yesterday, my five-year-old asked me if he could run away from home…”just for a little bit…like an hour and 60 minutes?” And could I please pack him a snack and could he bring a knife in case of bad guys? Running away from home has been a great topic of intrigue around here ever since my older two boys read the “My Side of the Mountain” series. Not wanting to squelch this little attempt at manhood I gave him permission and suggested a few more things he might want to bring, including another brother, which was fine with him, and could he please wait until morning. He was all packed and ready to go right after breakfast so after a quick prayer and a kiss at the door they were off and “running away.” My two little men. And their snacks. And a very small knife. Very ill-prepared indeed for any real-world excursion but prepared enough for whatever bit of adventuring they had in mind for this morning. Someday they really will be leaving our nest and I suppose it’s little experiences like this one that will prepare them, and me, for the inevitable. The planning, and packing, and prayer, this playing at independence, gives us all a little practice for the real thing. Kind of like the canoe race. A whole lot of fanfare for a very short paddle and they were all cheered wildly back to shore. But that’s just play. Many centuries ago some young men left their mothers at the door and got into a great double-hulled canoe and started paddling. Over a thousand miles later they set eyes on an island and the story of Hawaii was born. Someday, my boys too, will be paddling out in search of their own story and when they do I want their going to be just as it was today; well prepared, with my blessing, and wrapped in the security of knowing they’re never too far to come back in.
Praying before the Paddle, "In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord."

Praying before the Paddle, “In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

May Daze

April might have been full of Birthday fun but May is the icing on the cake. Here are just some of the events we’ve been celebrating the past few weeks.
Piano Recital
Our neighbor, Linda, hosted one more piano recital for the boys before heading back to the mainland for the summer. She had Nate and Titus play their own original compositions and then gave us a beautiful rendition of Joel’s piece, “The People of the Lord.”

"The People of the Lord" by Joel

“The People of the Lord” by Joel


May meant it was time to go up to the local coffee shop that had been displaying Titus’s artwork for a month and bring his masterpieces back home. He sold quite a few but here are some of my favorite florals that have found a place on our own walls.

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May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii and one of my new favorite holidays. All the schools have special programs where the children dress up in their Aloha wear and sing songs about Hawaii. At Tom’s school everyone brings leis to put on the cross. We had our own little program with music and a special lunch of Spam Musubi.
may day
That night was Tom’s school play which was probably the funniest one he’s ever done but Gideon looked quite bored already waiting for it to start and then slept through most of it. Must not be a big theater guy.
bored baby
Saturday was the Kentucky Derby which calls for it’s own little celebration. We started listening to the Triple Crown races years ago on the radio and this was only the second time we actually got to watch one on television and I have to say, the radio broadcast is much more exciting. Anyway, I donned my fancy hat and we read over all the entries in the newspaper and then picked horses to put a quarter on. Nate’s horse actually won and I don’t know who had the bigger smile, he or the jockey. We all ate like horses (apples, carrots, and oatmeal cookies). Next time we’ve gotta add “Haystacks” to the menu.

5/5 is Boys Day which is a Japanese holiday that the Hawaiians have adopted. This year was especially fun because we got to hang 5 carp fish out on the lanai (1 for each boy in the family). Last year we turned it into a very multi-cultural affair but this year we kept it Japanese. Sei’s mom gave us all a sushi lesson and we got to make our own rolls. Mine ended up looking like a big Japanese burrito which I thought was the perfect nod to a certain Mexican holiday of the same day. Boys Day + Cinco de Mayo = Cinco de Macho! We also had a Kendama contest which earned them a nickel a trick (in keeping with our 5 theme). Then they all dove into the pool to search for the $5.55 I had scattered along the bottom. Finders keepers! We finished with some blue Mochi and gummi fish for dessert and thanked the Lord for the gift of boys!

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Mother’s Day Eve we had a family over that we had never met before for a picnic dinner on the beach. Nothing like the bond of Christ for making instant friendships. While the grown-ups talked ministry, homeschooling, and life away from family in a far-off-land, the kids set stuff on fire.
kids and fire
And finally, it was Mother’s Day. Nothing like throwing half-a-dozen parties right before The Big Day to show your boys how to do it right! And boy, did they! I woke up to roses and waffles (apparently we now have a waffle iron!) and coffee in my bed. And the baby miraculously NOT in my bed! We took Shirley, one of our dear, older neighbors, to church with us and she won the prizes for most children (8), most grandchildren (22), and oldest mother (89). I got the prize for youngest mother. Now that says something about the age dynamic of a congregation when the YOUNGEST mother is in her late 30’s and the next runner up was in her 50’s!
oldest and youngest mothers
A delicious lunch followed and then it was off to the nursing home for our monthly service with the residents there. Oh my friends, there were a whole lot of lonely mamas in that room. I have to tell you about one in particular who never used to come to the services but was always slumped in her wheelchair near the entrance. Her eyes would be closed but she would mumble like she was awake and we would always greet her and hold her hand but there would never be a response until one of us would say “Loretta, we’ve brought the baby for you to see” and then she would look up and smile and start speaking clearly. Praise God, the last two times we have been there Loretta has been at the service and we just park the baby in his stroller right next to her and she strokes his hands and feet as she sings the old, familiar hymns with us and reads along with the scripture reading and participates in every way. It’s amazing what just the presence of a little one can do. More than any words we can offer or gifts we can bring, a child can bring comfort and hope and healing to a lonely soul. Seeing God use my children in that way is the best Mother’s Day gift I could ask for.
Those are Gideon's toes at the bottom of the picture waiting for a tickle from Loretta

Those are Gideon’s toes at the bottom of the picture waiting for a tickle from Loretta


This week we are in the middle of Hawaii State standardized testing. There’s nothing like pages of little bubbles and #2 pencils to bring us all back down to earth.

and Z is for…

A Verse Hid in Our HeartsZ is for
“Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!” Isaiah 40:9

A Hymn to Impart“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”

How Our Week Was Spent
We did an experiment with different amounts of water in glasses and we banged on them with spoons and it sounded like bells. Then we drank all the water (Sam, 5).
experiment
That experiment showed that crickets chirp higher than grasshoppers because their wings are shorter. Also they are like thermometers because if you count how many times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds and then add 40 you get what the temperature is (Joel, 8 1/2).
hikers
Our neighbors took me and Joel and Dad on a hike down to Kealekekua Bay. It was hot and there were lots of grasshoppers on the trail. We went snorkeling and saw some neat fish. There’s a monument there in remembrance of Captain Cook who was killed by the natives. It is on British soil so we basically hiked all the way to Great Britain (Titus, 9).
monument
I found an injured Saffron Finch on our Lanai. I carried it downstairs and everyone got to pet it. Then after we left it alone a little while I scared it and it flew away (Nate, 7).

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Teacher’s Two-Cents
This week’s blog was way late in getting posted so all this stuff happened several weeks ago. And since then there has been oodles of exciting stuff going on around here. So much that even though we’ve made it to the end of the alphabet we’ll have to blog a couple more times to get it all in. We’re all done with most of our school work at this point and are just focusing on math, spelling and our state reports till the end of the month. Plus we have standardized testing next week. Yikes!
So Happy Mother’s Day to everyone, especially the Omas, who Tom and I are proud and thankful to say are the two best moms in the whole, wide world. In fact the only thing better than having them for mothers is knowing our boys get them as grandmas. We love you, Omas! And as Gideon’s onesie proudly proclaims…
My Oma loves me

Y is for…

A Verse Hid in Our HeartsY is for
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.” Exodus 19:4,5

A Hymn to Impart“The God of Abraham Praise”

How Our Week Was Spent
My brother, Nate, is an excellent piano player and swimmer and reader. And he loves snorkeling. He is a skillful hockey player
and he can run very fast and now that he is 7 he is better at all of those things. Happy Birthday, Nathan! (Joel, 8 1/2).

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As Samuel grows up, I have noticed that he’s learning more and more amazing skills, including all sorts of things, like riding a skateboard, catching a ball, swimming, running, playing tennis, and a countless number of activities. The thing that I think stands out among all of those things is his love for his younger brother, Gideon. Every morning I see him lying in Mom and Dad’s bed hugging him and sometimes even singing him a song. Happy Birthday, Sam! Hope you enjoy being 5! (Titus, 10).

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Teacher’s Two-Cents
To Our Neighbors,
It’s the week after the party and two little boys are still basking in the glow of cupcakes and presents and a fun time with friends. And even though they may not realize it now, someday they are going to figure out that the real magic of the evening was in the people that were gathered together on their behalf. We are so blessed to live in this beautiful place surrounded by neighbors who care so much about our boys.
So this thank you is not just for taking time out of your day to celebrate and for the good food and gifts and even for indulging a proud mama by participating in some corny games. This thank you is for each of you who have provided meals, given lessons, offered rides, doled out treats, played games, babysat, repaired scooters, hosted hot-dog roasts and recitals, told stories, led hikes, been lifeguards, lit paths, chased bike thieves, cheered rink-side and at races, shared sunsets tolerated all our noise, looked out for, spoken kind words, saved recyclables and pennies, and even delivered newspapers morning after morning folded with the comics in front right where little eyes can find them. You are more than just good neighbors, you are OHANA.
The hardest part about moving to Hawaii was leaving the most wonderful family in the world behind. Thank you for filling that void and showing true ALOHA to five little boys and their eternally grateful parents. God bless you all. Tom and Julie.
The Birthday Boys

The Birthday Boys

X is for…

A Verse Hid in Our HeartsX is for
“eXcept the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it.” Psalm 127:1

A Hymn to Impart“God Will Take Care of You”

How Our Week Was Spent
I ran in a race with Nate and I passed all the big kids and Nate got first place and I got fourth. Ti and Joel had to swim in the ocean for their race and we all got medals and shirts and big pretzels (by Sam, almost 5!).
race day
Teacher’s Two-Cents
I know our verse technically doesn’t start with an X, nor does it contain any bird references. But it does sort of mention nests and is therefore the subject of the next post in our series. The entire Psalm speaks to my heart as a mother. Even though this condo in Hawaii wasn’t anywhere close to my choice of nesting locations I knew that if this was where He was leading us I would never be happy anywhere else. I might have found us the perfect little farmhouse in the country but it would have been me building that nest and not the Lord and my labors in the home would have been in vain. Now, that isn’t to say that even in this nest of God’s own choosing I don’t often feel that my labors are quite in vain. Because I do. Everyday. The tornado that is this crazy, boy-filled life seems to follow directly in the path of my cleaning. No sooner is the floor swept then it is covered in crumbs again. The laundry basket is filled just as quickly as it is emptied. An endless cycle of books and toys grace every surface. And just as I put away the last of the dishes the sink is filled again. Keeping house does indeed seem a labor in vain but I have to remember that making a home isn’t quite the same thing as just keeping house. And the home the Lord has provided for us here is serving as the perfect incubator to prepare all my little chicks for a life of service to our Lord.
The second part of verse 1 really gets me because I am a late-night worrier. But the Psalmist says “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” My children are my little city and no amount of sleepless anxiety will keep them safe. Their Heavenly Watchman has them entirely in his keeping. Verse 2 says that the Lord “gives to His beloved sleep.” Now, I must admit I have called that statement into question many a time with a baby in the house but eventually sleep does come and no amount of “anxious toil” will bring it any faster. Then there are verses 3-5 which end the Psalm with, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” I have no idea what the future holds but all my arrows are aimed in that direction and the Lord will guide them from this nest to their intended target. All my worry and anxious toil will not get them there any faster or any closer to the bulls-eye.

"Quiver Full"  an oil-on-canvas by Titus

“Quiver Full” an oil-on-canvas by Titus


Here’s a little poem I made up to end our little “nesting series.”

God bless this nest
and all this mess
that seems to spring up from the floor.
I just went through-
twas only a minute or two-
and it wasn’t here before.
But little hands
and little feet
get busy in a jiffy
and turn to shambles
through playful rambles
what had just been looking spiffy.

W is for…

A Verse Hid in Our HeartW is for
“What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” Luke 13:18,19

A Hymn to Impart“Sunshine in My Soul”

How Our Week Was Spent
If you see a bee working with flowers, it’s probably a drone. It has been told by a scout bee about the flowers and has been sent to collect pollen. The scout bee does a special dance that tells the drone where the flower is (Titus, 10).

The Drones on their treasure hunt.

The Drones on their treasure hunt.


Our Mom hid treasures outside and we took turns being scout bees and doing circular or waggle dances and everyone else had to figure out where to go to find the treasures (Nate, almost 7!).
Mad Hungry Worker Bees digging into their Creamed Honey

Mad Hungry Worker Bees digging into their Creamed Honey


Also our Opa sent us a movie about Starling dances. A flock of a quarter-million birds will do a dance called murmurations all together (Joel, 8 1/2).

Teacher’s Two-Cents
And what is our little kingdom like? To what shall I compare it? It is like a little castle set in a fishbowl. Just like a city on a hill cannot be hidden, neither can a family with 5 active little boys, especially in a third floor corner condo with floor-to-ceiling walls of glass. Yes, we are a small kingdom in a fishbowl. While the condo succeeds in it’s design to take maximum advantage of the beautiful views of the mountains, golf course, lush gardens and even a bit of ocean, it also succeeds in giving everyone else a view IN. Plus, living in a tropical climate where everything is kept wide open to let those coveted trade winds cool things down means that everyone can HEAR what’s going on in our little kingdom as well. And in a neighborhood made up almost exclusively of snowbirds and vacationers our big, boisterous family is certainly an anomaly. There are a few other families with one or two kids each but of course, those kids are in school all day. Except for weeks like this last one when they were all on spring break, only their mommies and daddies still had to work, so our little castle was full to the brim! A couple even did school with us! Curious neighbors really got an eye-full then! “What’s she doing now? Starting a day-care or something?” Thankfully, we have some of the best and dearest and most accommodating neighbors in the world who would rather spoil our boys rotten than ever complain about the extra noise. It took me a while to realize that fact. When we first moved here I was going overboard trying to keep everyone as quiet and unassuming as possible but gradually it dawned on me that these children are a gift to so many of these lonely, older people around us. They are a bright light in a dimming world of age. I was working so hard at keeping that light under a basket, when God wanted it out on it’s stand! Why else would he have put us up here in this fishbowl but to give light to everyone else in the complex? “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
What the neighbors might see on any given day on our lanai.  Just lettin' our little lights shine!

What the neighbors might see on any given day on our lanai. Just lettin’ our little lights shine!