Friday, September 19, 2014

Little House in the Big Woods: Chapter 2

Chapter 2:

Chapter two is only twenty pages long and yet it kept us learning and researching, making crafts and creating in the kitchen all week long! We've had great fun.

This week in our Prairie time we read how Ma allowed the girls to use her thimble and make drawings on their frosted windows. We don't have frosted winters in September, so I gave them blue construction paper, white paint and my thimble.

We read all about Laura and Mary's chores. They made their beds every morning and helped Ma clean and dry the breakfast dishes.  Ma also had a special chore for each day:

"Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday."

We discussed our daily and weekly jobs and compared them to Laura's.

(This was my five-year-old's list of chores).

Next we read how Ma and the girls churned the milk into butter.
We made butter too! 
Each child had their own butter container to "churn." 
We wrote about it and entitled it, "I Made Butter!"

This is a little book listing all the steps Laura took in order to make butter.
(We discovered that it was more difficult to make butter in Laura's day then ours!)

Now, it says that when all their work was done that Ma allowed the girls to play with their paper dolls- so, when we were finished with all our work, I let them play with paper dolls too!

 Here's the paper 'little house"- I had it laminated.

Then we sat down and cut out Pa, Ma, and Laura paper dolls!

And there were times when all the work was done, that Laura and Mary played with their real dolls. Laura had a corn-cob doll, but we made corn-husk dolls and played with them!

At the end of the day, when Pa came home at night from trapping, he would play the fiddle. I rented this CD from the local library and as my children worked on their next project for their Lapbook, we listened to fiddle music.

The little guys made Pa's fiddle and my older children wrote a reflection or journal entry comparing how Laura felt when her Pa played the fiddle as to how they feel when their daddy plays the guitar.

The chapter ends with Pa telling a story about how a panther chased his grandfather. 
We checked out books on wild cats, researched, and then wrote up all we discovered on the panther.

 I can not believe how much the children and I are learning! It feels like with every word Laura Ingals Wilder writes there is something new for the children to engage in. I am so grateful for the time together to learn so much!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Home Schooling and Lap Books!

This year I have decided to break away from my norm in the way I home-school. My norm has been to use the same curriculum. Yes, the same curriculum each year, for the past ten years. I now know the teacher's guides very well, the student books, the projects and all book reports required. And honestly, that makes me feel comfortable and safe. For instance, when I don't feel well or life throws me a curve ball, my home-school life does not go down the winding path with it. My children and I can keep going because we know what is expected. (Remember, I can't call in sick and hire a substitute teacher when I'm too sick to make it in to work. School life must go on). I have used the curriculum for each of my six children and have little to complain about, but this year I finally decided to find out what was really in my heart to teach my children and just go for it.

Back in January, I sat back and thought about what I loved to teach, that is, when I taught in the New York City Public Schools. Yes, I loved being an elementary school teacher and teaching all the basics, but what I spent hours upon hours creating were my Centers. I would come up with a theme, or subject, that they needed to learn about or what I thought would interest my students and then begin to create math, science, reading, art, and listening centers around that theme. I created butterfly and Dinosaur units. Seasonal units like, Thanksgiving and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. units. Nursery Rhymes unit to Dental Care units. I loved taking something the children needed to learn and making it fun.

As a homeschooling mom of six, I have never created Centers for my own kids. It was hard enough to grasp five different grades, make lesson plans and teach each day. My heart fluttered a little too wildly at the thought of adding Centers into the mix. But for years I couldn't deny the ache in my heart to do what made my heart soar so many years ago. Then I came across the, Prairie Primer. I wanted to use the "Prairie Primer" or "Little House" Book series as the backbone to teach my children not only great literature, but history, geography, science, handwriting, vocabulary, faith, and art, but was too afraid of the change it would bring to our home-school life. Each year before ordering the curriculum, I'd ponder, "Is this the year?" and inevitably I would decide, "No."  (I don't jump into major change easily). But I spent this past year researching ways to teach the Little House series as a curriculum that would be challenging to my young and older children and have found I am not the only one who thinks the book series is a great venue for learning.

 I could not abandon my orginial curriculum completely. We are still using the Language and Math curriculum appropriate for each of their age levels, but the other subjects will be covered through the Prairie Primer. I have gathered so many wonderful books to help me in this new venture of teaching. One fantastic idea I came across was using Lapbooks. (A wonderful resource is, Homeschool Share).

Each child will create their very own lap book on, The Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingals Wilder. We will read one chapter a week and in that week add the lessons learned to our Lap Books. At the end of the week they can present their Lap book or lessons to the family at dinner time, giving them an opportunity to express what they have learned in a public speaking forum.

Here we are working hard on our lapbooks.

On the first day we learned how Pa hunted deer, smoked it in the smoke house, and preserved it for the winter. So, I surprised them with the closest thing I could find...beef jerky! They loved snack time!

The next day we learned how Pa slaughtered their pig and how Ma made, "Cracklings." I had to do something, right? I bought Pork Rinds! They thought snack was a hit!

Pa had given Laura and Mary the pig's bladder to play with...ummm I mean, Pa blew up the pig's bladder like a balloon, tied a string around the top to seal it closed and then allowed the girls to play with it. I, on the other hand, did not want to deal with a pig's bladder, so, we made origami balloons instead!

"Pa caught a fish a big as Laura!"
My two youngest drew, and painted a fish as big as my daughter.

Here is one of the Lapbooks that we are working on.

Here is the smoke-house that Pa used to smoke the venison.
We used, as Pa did, real leather for the hinges.

And cut pieces of leather, to resemble the meat, 
and 'hung' it in the smoke house.

Mary had a doll named Nettie and Laura a corn-cob doll named Susan. My older children wrote a reflection about it and my younger ones drew pictures of the two dolls.

We added more animals to the animal flap book we found on-line. We added: muskrat, otter and mink.

Here we made a collection of leaves as our Vocabulary center, a pocket for our 'pig's bladder' balloon, and log house using pop sickle sticks. (The house was painted gray because Laura said that the log house looked gray after they coated all the logs with mud. Also, we cut the roof opened and placed pictures of all the harvest foods that were stored in the attic).

And lastly, a map of the United States of America. We found where we live and where Laura lives. I hope to color in more states as we read about all the places Laura traveled to.

Each of my oldest three children chose a topic to research. One studied different types of traps Pa used and how they worked. One studied how to catch fish with a net and finally one child studied harvest season. They each had to write a report on their findings and present it to the family.

Our first week done! We learned A-LOT! 
My older children have a reflection writing time, research reports, vocabulary lists to study, and crafts to work on. My younger children are learning right along side the older ones. And we are all studying the Word of God together. This week we looked up Scriptures on family and the Ten Commandments. I am feeling at peace and excited about this year of learning!

I am hoping to complete one book a semester and possibly opening my home up for friend's to join us! I'll add more photos as we create new things! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

"Go Me!"

A friend posted this on facebook. I had to copy it and share...

"Go US!" 

There was a time in my life when I was sewing dresses, making amazing birthday parties for my children, keeping up house, and heading up ministries, but that time appears to be long gone.

Now, I am proud of myself when I have completed a day of home school, fed my family, and the house is fairly clean. (And I might not have gotten a shower that day!) 'Go Me!' 

My life has always looked different than my friends and that used to bother me. I used to want to fit in, and be accepted by my peers. But no matter what I did or tried, I never really did. I also remember a time when I felt incomplete, or unworthy, a sloth basically, if I did not accomplish something great each week. It was rough for me to look back at the end of the day and see that I had only changed fifteen diapers, fed babies, cleaned up after them and made dinner. It felt so useless. Very, not important. So, I made myself get busier. I taught myself how to sew. I made dollhouses. I began baking wonderful creations. I was the director of Vacation Bible School. I basically made myself exhausted, but somehow I felt better about myself.

I am now done with all that striving. Done with trying to 'fit in.' 

The phrase, 'Go me!' totally cracks me up, but I am at a place in my life where, "Go me!" is a totally serious phrase. I am living my life as the Lord is calling me, as best as I can. I don't know that I perfectly hear Him or His will each day, but I am really trying my best-so, 'Go me!' 

God is calling us each to walk with Him and I'm seeing that we're not all on the same path. He has made each one of us different- with different talents, abilities, strengthens, and weaknesses. (Romans 12:4-5) He knows what is best for us and our families.

I am so content with waking up, teaching my children, cooking, cleaning and going to bed. I feel totally satisfied with my life. There is no more trying to prove to myself, or others, that I've done a lot today. I've learned it doesn't matter if I do a lot or a little as long as I've heard the Lord's voice telling me which direction to go and obey it. The satisfaction I feel now is that I'm in His will.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, this Scripture:

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Unmerited, Undeserved Favor

I've shared a story, "He Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills,' not too long ago. It is an article about how I had prayed for a leather couch set for my home and how the Lord provided it. Sounds simple, and actually it is rather simple for God, who owns everything, to give away a leather couch set, but for me it was much more complex.

The God of the universe heard my prayer. My silly, little prayer for a couch set for my family. I prayed and then surrendered the thought because I even realized how absurd my prayer was when their are missionaries, the lost, and the dying around the world who need God's hope.

I let it go...
I moved on...
I didn't pray for the leather seats again.
Two days later the Lord spoke to my heart. "Today you'll find your couches." I still cry thinking about it. Why me? Why does He love me? I've never known such love before knowing my God.

Fast forward to this summer. My daughters are getting bigger and their room seems to be getting smaller. The girls and I realized that we needed to do some purging, but when all was said and done, still the room was small. Then I had an epiphany! Why not get rid of the two dressers in the room and somehow get one large, tall dresser for them to share. My girls loved the idea. I told them to begin to pray.

Monday morning my daughter said, "Mom, today is the day." We drove just a few blocks and sitting there waiting for us was the dresser.

I cried.
What else does one do when the Lord Himself presents you with an answer to prayer? How else do you respond to the awe and amazement to such a loving God?

With much excitement, squeals and bubbling over of emotions, we got to work. Cleaning out drawers, purging more clothes, cleaning the new drawers and setting up the girls room. My daughters and I are still in shock and one of my boys each day has commented on how much God loves us. BUT if that wasn't enough love from God, He decided to go even further.

Two days later, after the house was settling down, I realized that some of the drawers looked a bit empty. The girls have grown, and we have given away the clothes that were too small, but there was not much left for them to wear! Shopping day was upon us. I told the children that we could only get a few things each. Our first stop was to our local thrift store. We walked around the store and found some great deals.

We stood in a long line of customers, and as my turn in line came up, I gathered my items and put them on the counter. The cashier, with tears in her eyes, looked at me and tried to hand me money. I  was so confused. I explained that it wasn't my money, but still she reached over the counter and tried to place it in my hands. I tried to refuse again, but she said, "The gentleman before you in line told me to tell you that he wants to pay for your things today." The children and I looked up and around and could not find him. I looked out to the parking lot and there was no one there. I looked back at the cashier and began to cry. She smiled and just began to ring up my items. The children were bouncing up and down, and yet all I could do was cry. Tears streamed from my eyes.

"Why, Lord, do you love me so?"

When the total came, a lady who was in an aisle looking for clothes for herself, came up and handed the cashier a coupon for 25% off my total bill of sale. I didn't ask her. I hadn't even noticed her before she came up to us. Then, I saw the red digital amount come up on the screen of the cash register and it was the exact amount of money the man gave to me...

What do you do when the God of the universe pours out His love on you?
I'll tell you...
You tell the world about Him.
It has nothing to do with me. It's not my prayers. It's not a strong faith. It's simply my God, my Father, who adores His daughter. He loves me for no other reason, than the fact that I am His and He wants to bless me.
HE is Good!
He is Love!
HE is my Daddy! and I love Him so! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Fears, Corrie ten Boom's Strength

One day as I laid on my bed, curled up with a book, written by Corrie ten Boom, tears began to stream from my eyes and dampen my pillow. I could not stop reading and the tears would not stop flowing.

"I could feel Betsie's bony hand touching my face. It was pitch-black in Barracks 28 where seven hundred other prisoners were asleep. Each day hundreds of women died and their bodies were fed to the ovens. Betsie had grown so weak, and we both knew that death was always moments away.

"Are you awake, Corrie?" her weak voice sounded so far away.
"Yes, you wakened me."
" I had to. I need to tell you what God has said to me."

"...God showed me, " Bestsie said, "that after the war we must give to the Germans that which they now try to take away from us: our love for Jesus."

Bestsie's breath was coming in short gasps. She was so weak, her body wasted away until there was nothing but her thin skin stretched over brittle bones. "Oh, Betsie," I exclaimed, "you mean if we live we will have to return to Germany?"

Betsie patted my hand..."Corrie, there is so much bitterness. We must tell them that the Holy Spirit will fill their hearts with God's love."  (Tramp for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom: page 39)

The tears filled my eyes so that I could no longer read. As I put the book down, wiped my tears, I cried out to God, "I'm too afraid to go alone." I was not crying because Corrie and her sister Betsie were in Ravensbruck, Concentration Camp during World War II. My eyes did not create tears of amazement over Betsie's unconditional love for God and even her tormentors. I cried because I knew that as Betsie said those words to Corrie, they believed they were both going to live and travel together sharing the love of Jesus with the world. But Betsie died a few days after she spoke her God given vision to Corrie. Corrie lived. She was freed from the concentration camp. She returned home to an empty house, reminded that her family was killed by the Germans in the camp. She took hold of Betsie's vision and traveled the world alone for thirty years humbly sharing the precious love of Jesus with anyone who would listen.

I cried because I couldn't do it. I laid there thinking how afraid I would be to be all alone.
No father. No sisters. No home.
Only Jesus and a vision.
Could I obey?

"Now my father was dead. Only my Heavenly Father remained. I ran my hand over the door, letting my fingers explore the cracks. It was no longer my hiding place. Others lived here now, and the world was my classroom, and my only security came in knowing that underneath were the Everlasting Arms. How thankful I was for my Heavenly Father's strong hand around mine." (Tramp for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom: page 32)

"Thank you, Jesus, that I am alive," I said,
In my heart I heard Him reply, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:30).
I stayed there for long minutes as the hands on the face of the cathedral tower pealed forth once again, this time with the sounds of Luther's famous hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." I listened and heard myself singing the hymn, not in Dutch, but in German: "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott."
"How like You, Lord, "I half-chuckled, "that You would remind me of Your grace by letting me hear a German hymn."
A policeman passed, looked at me, and spoke a friendly word.
I said, "Good-night, Policeman. A mighty fortress is our God. "
I was free."   (Tramp for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom: page 33)

I cried thinking about Corrie going home to Holland to see her empty childhood home. Her father, sister and relatives all dead. She was alone. Alone for the first time in her life. Alone with a vision planted in her heart by her sister who was no longer with her. I cried thinking about how sad, lonely, afraid she must have been, and yet, she moved. And yet, she stirred. And yet, she obeyed.

My own fears have crippled me many, many times. I think, "There is no way I could have traveled the world alone especially when Bestie's dream had been the two of them side by side sharing the Gospel." People have told me how brave they think I am. People have told me that I am a woman who can do anything I set my mind to. I have even been told how courageous I am. But I just laugh. I am afraid of my own shadow! The only times, and I mean the absolute only times, that I have forged through my forest of fears and completed a task was simply because I was convinced that God had asked me to do it. Without God I am nothing. Without God I can accomplish nothing.

I cried thinking, "What if God asked me to travel and spread the Word of God and His love to the nations all by myself?" I really do believe I would obey, but I know too that the fear would be so terribly great and I hated to even think of it. I know God wants me to think  about my fears, put them before Him and deal with them. He may never ask me to travel alone, to speak to large crowds, to love my tormentors, but He wants me ready to if He should ask.

Dear Lord,
My life is in your hands. Make me as clay to be shaped by the Potter. Form me, and change my heart to be ready to follow you and obey you no matter what fears I may have. Deal with my fears. Reveal them and may your perfect love drive them far from my heart. Build in me a stronger faith, a stronger trust in who you are, My Father-A Mighty Fortress. I love you, Jesus.
Your girl,