Birthday Month – Random Acts of Fun-ness

Still no job for Gary, but God continues to provide for us.

We managed to have quite an interesting month in spite of our forced frugality.

Here are some of the things we did:

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Aaron took Patrick and Anna to see a movie, Rise of the Guardians. They went in style!

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Morgan’s birthday party on New Years Eve. There were lots of fireworks here in Texas for Morgan’s birthday! He was very honored! 🙂 They may have had something to do with New Years Eve, but still we enjoyed them for our celebration of Morgan’s birthday.

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And as usual the birthday party games consisted of video games.

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Teams upstairs and downstairs as usual. Here is the downstairs team – the brothers who are almost exactly 10 years apart in age!

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I like to watch Kim Clement TV. Here I am watching it wearing my mantle from Kim Clement.

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We will Conquer Our Mountain! And go into our Promised Land!

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A gift from Mary, Aaron’s mom. Lots of sentimental value for me. I used to have lots of Snow Buddy ornaments and decorations, but I lost them all when we lost our house. Now I have this wonderful Santa with Snow Buddy music box that Mary gave me because I saw it at her house and mentioned how much I loved Snow Buddies. Thank you so much, Mary!

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Our pretty Christmas decorations. We kept them up through the birthday celebrations.

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Emma got ANOTHER umbrella for her birthday. She dearly loves umbrellas! I went to the mailbox this morning, and the weather was gray. It had rained earlier. Emma came running after me and said, “You need my umbrella!” It wasn’t raining right then, but I bet she wishes it was!

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I had been planning to do a big birthday party for all of the January birthdays (4 of them) at once, but when Emma found out that it was Jan. 8, HER birthday, she wanted a party right then. So we threw together a quick birthday party complete with a present and confetti cake and brownies. I was going to wait until Gary got a new job. As it turns out, it’s a good thing we didn’t wait!

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I think this was from the night we went to Cece’s 21st birthday party.

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Garrett loved his German chocolate birthday cake. Since I had Emma’s party on her birthday, I went ahead and had the twins’ birthday party on their birthday, Jan. 10.

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A hint to help you guess what the object is in my “Can You Guess What This Is?” post here.

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Very random! I just happened to notice this heart in a pan in my sink. I take these little things as signs from God saying that He loves me!

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Emma climbed all the way to the top! She’s the Queen of the Mountain! The kids all love this climber at the park. We went to the park last Saturday, and the temps were in the 70’s. We stayed until after dark as you can see.

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It almost looks like she’s a circus performer in this shot. I think she felt like one!

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The moon was beautiful that night! What a wonderful way to spend a January evening.

Singing Helps Little Ones Learn Without Even Trying!

You Just Can’t Keep Them From Learning!

Shawn kept having the Ay Ay Ay Song going through his head, so he said he wanted to learn the whole thing, so he could really sing it. So I looked up the lyrics and taught him the song. We sang it so much that Emma learned it, too. She came up to me a couple of days later and started singing it to me. I had almost forgotten it, and she helped me to re-learn it, so I decided it was time to get out the video camera. Here’s Emma and Abby, and sometimes Garrett, singing Cielito Lindo.

I had been working with the twins and Kelsey and Morgan on the Books of the New Testament. I taught them a song, and when they learned it perfectly, they knew all of the Books of the New Testament, and they got a prize out of the Treasure Box.

Kelsey quickly learned them all, then Morgan, then Garrett, then Fiona. Little did I know that little ones were listening in and learning them, too. Abby and Emma surprised me one day when they started singing, “Matthew, Mark, Luke, John…” So I decided to record them singing that, too. They got a prize for learning them as well as they have them now. When they get them perfect all by themselves, they will get another prize. They are working on them!

Facilitator of Learning

How do you view yourself as an educator? That’s right. You are an educator, even if your classroom is your living room or your kitchen. I was a public school teacher for five years, and I considered myself an educator. Now I am an educator of my own children in our home. I just happen to be Mom, too! My most important and precious role is as Mom, but I do enjoy teaching and learning with my children, too.

I am able to educate my children more fully here at home than I was ever able to educate the children in my first grade classes at school.

I can influence them and their attitudes and behavior all through the day every day – and sometimes through the night!

But back to my original question – How do you view yourself as an educator?

I view myself as a “facilitator of learning”. This is a concept I learned about in teaching classes I took in college. I liked the idea of gathering resources for students and letting them interact with them and learn and discover a lot on their own. It seemed like a good way for children to learn thoroughly and enjoyably.

I have put these ideas into practice for many years now and have found them to be very effective.

When I first read about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, I saw a correlation between what she called “self-education” and my belief in letting children interact with books, resources, manipulatives, etc. and discover what they could from them. Of course, I guide them as needed in using resources in respectful, appropriate ways, and I stay available to answer questions and to comment on their creations or to help them make connections, but I try to let them do a lot of exploring on their own.

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One of the most vital aspects of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy is that our minds feed on ideas like our bodies feed on food. She taught that we learn mind to mind. She maintained that we should let children interact with “great” minds, as in great authors and inventors and leaders whose thoughts, ideas and stories are found in books. When we give too much information and interrupt their learning by asking too many questions, we interfere with their process of exploring and do more damage than good. By interjecting our own thoughts or trying to direct the child too much, we may turn off the natural curiosity that makes a child want to learn.

I believe the best, most thorough learning occurs when children want to know something, and then they seek to find the answer or experiment to see what will happen. Such learning experiences can be messy at times. As they get older, children will learn a lot more from the books that we provide for them. I believe we should provide a steady diet of good books for them to consume.

Charlotte was very concerned about order and abundant provision of good books. My main concern is abundant provision! I read many good books aloud to all of my children, even the older ones. My oldest son is 22 and still listens to the books that I read during “together school”. I read books about the great heroes of the faith, classics, books by George MacDonald, biographies and historical fiction. It is a great bonding activity for the family as well as feeding the minds of my children with great ideas.

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You can read about Charlotte’s ideas about “self-education” in her book called “A Philosophy of Education” which is Volume 6 of The Original Homeschooling Series, which can be found here at Ambleside Online.

From the introduction on page 16, there is a quote that I like. “The mind can know nothing save what it can produce in the form of an answer to a question put to the mind by itself.” I allow lots of freedom for my children to mull over and think about what we are reading. Sometimes I will initiate a discussion. Sometimes I can’t hold back a comment on a scene or event in a story or an idea that is put forth, but, for the most part, I try to let them digest the material and process it themselves. Many times I use the narrating technique as a way to recap the story from the last time we read, so that they are ready for the new chapter. I have a child tell us what happened the last time we read. I don’t call it narration, but that’s what it is. Narration is another important aspect of the Charlotte Mason method.

Through providing lots of good books and resources (maps, charts, magazines, manipulatives, videos, documentaries, and hands-on activities), I believe that I am providing a means of learning through which my children may learn and assimilate knowledge thoroughly. They will always remember it, because they own it. They have interacted with the knowledge and information themselves and have pursued the answers to their own questions.

Therefore, I see myself as a facilitator of learning. And I love my job!

This post is included in the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival. Go on over there and see all of the wonderful, encouraging posts by other awesome Charlotte Mason enthusiasts.

And it is included in the Beautiful Family Friday Link-Up Holy Spirit-Led Homeschooling

Holy Spirit-Led Homeschooling

We Can Choose Greatness

Nothing is impossible with God! Do we really believe this? Nick Vujicic does. He lives life to the fullest with no arms and no legs.

I don’t ever watch Oprah – ever! But this show offers the truth of the Gospel through Rick Warren and Nick Vujicic.

If you need some encouragement or motivation to try harder or inspiration of any sort, watch this! Watch any YouTube videos that Nick has made, and you will be amazed.