Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Recycling Christmas Packaging

We put two trees up every year, a big one in the living room, and a skinny one in the dining room.  I started taking down the big one yesterday--early for me to do this before New Year's, but I was ready. I may be crazy, but I decided to leave the skinny one up for awhile, to bring a little winter into the house.  We hardly ever get snow, so I themed this tree with snow, snowmen, and nature decorations.  I love having a little bit of sparkle in this unused corner.

I am notorious for saving every scrap from the Christmas wrappings, and I will reuse as many parts of them as I can.  Leftover tissue paper is great for wrapping fragile ornaments, and sturdy boxes and cookie tins make nice storage for fragile ornaments or sets with little pieces, like our tiny nativity.  Not only will everything be cushioned and organized inside the larger storage boxes, but unpacking will be easier when we pull them back out next year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Photo {Brothers}

Big brother patiently passes his wisdom on to his little brother--
loading songs onto his new ipod for him and showing him how to use it.
There is a six year age difference between them, and I cherish moments like this.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Photo: Prayer for This House

Prayer for This House
-Louis Untermeyer

May nothing evil cross this door,
And may ill-fortune never pry
About these windows; may the roar
And rains go by.

Strengthened by faith, the rafters will
Withstand the battering of the storm.
This hearth, though all the  world grow chill
Will keep you warm.

Peace shall walk softly through these rooms,
Touching your lips with holy wine,
Till every casual corner  blooms
Into a shrine.

Laughter shall drown the raucous shout
And, though the sheltering walls are thin,
May they be strong to keep hate out
And hold love in.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our Reading List

We've breezed through our read-alouds, so I've been working on a list for the new year.  We just finished The Hobbit and The Cay and are halfway through The House of Sixty Fathers.  They are all such good books, I'm trying to find some more that will be just as good.  Honey for a Child's Heart and Honey for a Teen's Heart are two of my go-to resources for finding titles worthy of spending time with.  I also peruse curriculum catalogs for their book lists.  The downside to using Sonlight curriculum and Beautiful Feet books for all these years is that it feels like we've already read all the great books!

Friday, December 14, 2012

On the fourteenth day of Christmas...

The boys made Christmas cards using ink pads and markers, with some inspiration from Ed Emberley's Fingerprint Drawing Book.  They used some ideas from the book and came up with some ideas of their own.  My dilemma is that I want to keep all of the cards for myself!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mountain Dew, Pizza, and The Scarlet Letter

My friend and I have discovered the secret to getting teens excited about reading and discovering great literature--pizza (lots of it) and snacks.  Our homeschool literature discussion group meets once a month for a literature discussion and once a month for an activity or field trip related to the book of the month, and our discussion meetings are motivated by teen-friendly food.  Give a guy  a slice of pizza, and he will sit back and ponder themes and literary devices.

Our current book selection is The Scarlet Letter.  We met this month for our Christmas party, a Christmas ornament exchange, and an introduction to the book.  Some of the teens are reading the No Fear version of the book to help them understand the language, and some are reading annotated versions.  This is the most difficult book we've done so far, but the teens are already interested and engaged in the story. Our group has been meeting for eleven months, and we have a regular core group of six teens, with a couple of stragglers who attend once in a while.  We have read and discussed fourteen novels, with related short stories, and poetry, and the teens are seeing connections and understanding literary references the more we read.  The teens are also building friendships and camaraderie as they delve into the classics together.

(affiliate link)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hello Monday {Sharing}

Hello Monday is our place to welcome a brand new week and reflect on the old one. 

Hello tired (good tired)
We spent our day packing toys for the Salvation Army Toy Drive.  In our area, bags are being packed by volunteers all week at our convention center.  There were hundreds of bags waiting to be filled, and my boys managed to do eighteen.

Hello sharing
The boys each spent thoughtful time picking out items for the children they were "shopping" for.  It was so sweet to watch them make careful selections based on each child's wishes.  Even though some specific items wished for weren't available, the boys tried to choose things that fit the same theme or interests.  We were given lists with each child's name and age, and my boys would say, "I've got to find a baby doll for Shiya," or "Oscar likes Spiderman."  These kids are very real, and this had such an impact on my kids.

Hello blessings (counting them)
My favorite part of the day--the boys all thanked me for taking them to pack toys, and they all said it was fun and they want to go back to do it again :)

{Linking up with Lisa Leonard for Hello Monday}

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nature Study Through Living Books: The Fox Diaries

   My son saw a fox the other day and was curious to learn more about them:  Are they in the dog family?  Are they all the same color?  What do they eat?  I pulled  The Fox Diaries by Valarie Budayr of Jump Into a Book from our bookshelf so we could learn more about foxes and answer some of his questions.  The book chronicles the antics of a fox family that lives in her front yard.  Written as a diary, the book features Valarie's photographs of the momma fox and her kits as they play, learn, and explore.

The funny fox kits play tag and hide and seek as they practice their hunting skills, and the photographs in the book really showcase their movements and activities nicely.  It feels like you are watching them from your window.  Part nature journal, part field guide, The Fox Diaries also includes a glossary, fact section, and list of resources for further study.  We felt like we'd been on a field trip after reading it, and the boys were ready to draw some foxes in their own nature journals.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On the sixth day of Christmas...

My three wise men were instructed to make an ornament using materials they could find around the house, and they used their ingenuity to each come up with a different idea:

PEACE!  Using twigs and floral wire.

A tiny deck of cards to spell out
 Manger, Eve, Reindeer, Reindeer, Yule log
Candy cane, Ho ho ho, Reindeer, Icicles, Star, Tree, Manger, Angel, Star

And a God's Eye using sticks and leftover yarn.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On the fourth day of Christmas...

{Naughty or Nice?}

Step One:  Build a fort.

Step Two:  Require memorization of a different password each day for a week and require your little brother to remember the correct one for entry.

Shhh!  Poor J-man.  I think he'd better start studying:

1. Mall Security
2. The leprechaun is in motion
3. 004780592313040135912
4. Chip has a brand new bag
5. Yeti
6. Get a haircut
7. Iguana in the room

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hello Monday {Merry}

Hello Monday is our place to welcome a brand new week and reflect on the old one. 

Hello to Christmas around our house. The boys helped with decorating this year, making their Lego houses into a festive Christmas village.

Hello to creating a holiday atmosphere, even though our crazy weather feels like springtime. We've had windows open to let in the warm breeze, and it sure doesn't look like the boys will get a white Christmas.

Hello to plugging away at schoolwork, but making time for fun and crafting along the way. The boys are making ornaments and cards.

{Linking up with Lisa Leonard for Hello Monday}

Sunday, December 2, 2012

On the second day of Christmas...

   Today we started the Advent Reading Plan from The Voice.  This free download has suggested Scripture readings each day beginning four Sundays before Christmas and going all the way through Christmas Eve. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

On the first day of Christmas...

   I made this advent calendar for the boys a few years ago, and I've done different things with it each year.  One year, I filled it with strips of paper that gave the boys instructions for something to do.  One year, I put trinkets and candy in the drawers.  The challenge is that the drawers are small, and it's difficult to find things that are tiny enough to fit inside x3.  The boys all told me that their favorite thing was having a "task" each day, so I'm doing a mixture of things to make, things to do, places to go, etc.  

   To kick off the month, today's task was to decorate a gingerbread house.  They all worked together for a large part of the afternoon, designing and planning and getting each decoration just where they wanted it.  

The countdown has begun!