Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Invisible Tornado

This is what I want to know. I'm demanding a logical answer, so if I have any friends out there who are feeling logical (is that an oxymoron?) right now please feel free to respond with an answer that's going to make me sit back and say "Oh, that's why..."

My house has been hit by a tornado. Did I say tornado? I meant a tornado, hurricane and a three year old tsunami. But this is what I don't understand. HOW could my house look like thiswhen we haven't even been HOME.
We were in Portland for three days.
Then my in-laws came to visit (they stayed at a hotel far from the triple-storm effect) for 7 days. In those 7 days we were gone most of the time.
Two days later we went camping, for three days,
and yesterday we were invited to an excellent day at the local historic and nature museum...
that brings us to today.

I even took the time today (as I've been challenged to do some hard things) to assign each of my boys one bathroom to LEARN to clean with me. I snuggled up my boys to spend extra time with them first thing today. I've started on the mountain of laundry, helped to clean three bathrooms, successfully put my five year old on a bike minus training wheels for the first time all over (running next to him to be sure I could catch a crash), and now I'm typing this blog...and my house somehow looks worse.

Sometimes when people stare at me in the grocery with my three little storms circling around my cart they wonder aloud how I get my shopping done. "Simple, " I answer. "they are a tornado. As long as they don't touch down, they just keep moving and do no harm." I have to keep them moving. But at home...today...ohhh.

I'm going to go vacuum up some toys.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Climbing Mind: nature's poet

This weeks challenge goes as following:

Choose something you can see at home, a favorite part of nature. Then sketch a picture of it, realistic or abstract. Then, after thinking on that piece of God's nature, take some time and put words to it....poetry about this favorite of yours.

ALL kids can be little poets, help your little child with adjectives and colorful words to describe that object and the way they feel about it or how they appreciate it.

Bigger kids can study different kinds of rhythmic or random poetry, Haiku or work on imagery. A good english lesson. This is also a good opportunity to pick up a poetry book and read through other verse about nature.


Also, if you've been following along and haven't posted photos of your challenge, please feel free to link up in this post so we can see your challenges, past or present.

Eli Says...

"I grew my muscles while we were camping this weekend."

Don't I know it. Isn't that what camping is for? :)

Photos will follow...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our Climbing Minds and catching up

I thought that I'd finally present you with a couple pictures of the boys' work in their challenges from the last two weeks. Life is finally starting to feel normal again, I'm getting caught up! But wait! I just found a list of names for which I'm supposed to write Thank You's...I'm really late! Better late than never.

Anyhow,maybe these will inspire you to join us in our Monday Climbing Mind challenges. It's a fun project for us around here.

These are photos of Joey's comics....

And the boys did a couple of store activities this week, Nate made a rock stand and sold rocks...plain old rocks on the sidewalk for 3 cents each. We live in a neighborhood full of older folks who were happy to entertain Nathan by ooohing and ahhing over his rocks. Nate LOVES rocks and so it was a treat to discuss colors and textures for him.

Eli and Nate also set up a vet on my bed too this week. I love hearing them interact like little adults and seeing their compassion for the animals.

Hard Things

So I want to point out to you a book that I've shared on my sidebar. It's a book I learned about through the homeschool circles somewhere.

Do Hard Things is a book written by teenage twins, for teens. I would, however, encourage you to read this book if you will have teens one day, or even to apply to yourself. I am still reading it and will be happy to share when I'm done. The theme of the book is that there are few, and mostly poor expectations of teens in our society.

I couldn't agree more.

Even more, I'm challenged that I have poor expectations of myself. I do NOT like to do hard things. I did not realize how little I try and learn new things, how much I whine when I'm forced to do something that's hard, rather than knowing I can do it and take it on with grace and ease.

This applies well to my life all the time and this week.

I have taken on the task of finances at our house. I used to do this all the time, back when I was a single girl, but when I started having babies Ralph immediately took this task over and has been juggling it since. I've known for awhile that he's wanted me to take over...but have hesitated to take over this daunting task that has evolved from the simple balancing of the checkbook and sending out checks each week to (of course) online payments, automatic transfers and electronic checks.

Hard things, for this woman to learn.

I'm taking it on.

Now I'm thinking too on how I can challenge my sweet little ones to do the hard things. So many people spend summer thinking of things to try and keep the little ones busy...why not challenge them? Give them tasks, jobs, projects that challenge them.

That being said, I recommend the book. :)

Some photos to fill in the blanks of our month;

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why my husband is the best dad on the blog

I think my husband is incredible. He's an incredible husband, a kind dad and instinctively the perfect dad for this little crew of boys. I'm getting to appreciate that more each passing year. If you do the math, I really need him around. I'm a girl. These are boys. There are some things he just knows what do do with them that I really don't.

My husband....
initiates wrestling,
entertains (but appropriates) boy-talk (boogers and the like),
gives each boy individual attention,
always takes one little guy with him when he runs errands,
lets a boy fiddle around in his office at 5 a.m. when dad is working and mom is...still asleep where she should be,
takes time and snuggles the boys at bedtime,
is perceptive to the boys' personalities, needs and patterns,
loves being with his family,
builds his life and goals around family,
is appropriately manly when playing with the boys and appropriately gentle when they get their knees or feelings hurt,
worked for hours to level the ground to put the swimming pool on so it would be just right for them,
plays games with the boys when they want to and he doesn't,
is careful to guard their eyes and little hearts,
lets me sleep in on most Saturdays even though he always wakes before me during the week,
is anxious to spend time with me in the evenings after the kids are in bed,
does the dishes after dinner without complaint,
is available for interruption when he's working to help the boys out.

My husband is wonderful, so wonderful.

These thoughts brought to you by the happiest-wife-on-the-blog

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Climbing Mind: setting up shoppe

To the kids:

Your challenge this week is to build a store. Inside, outside...groceries or a lemonade stand. The sky is the limit! Set up your store, take some photos and then play awhile.

Some tools you can use:

price stickers (or masking tape)
calculator or cash register
can you make a shopping cart?

Have Fun!

To the parents:

Younger kids can choose toys to 'sell' in their own store. Maybe you can play with them awhile, talking about where to find the cheese in the store or practice bagging their purchases. They'll probably carry them around all day in a bag.

This is a good opportunity to show your bigger kids a little simple math and pricing. Again, talk about where you'll find the eggs in the store, or a book or sandwich bags. Practice a little adding the items too.

Challenge even older kids by having them count change back to you. Have them draw up pretend checks and write them up. Or of course let them set up a lemonade stand. I've come to realize that my 3, 5 and 7 year olds can do almost all of the work alone and they love make the posters and standing out there all afternoon even if they only bring in a quarter.

Please remember never to leave your kids out by the street alone. Mommies, grab a book, a chair, buy yourself a lemonade and sit back and listen to your kids call out "LemonADDDEE for Sale!!!"

To Submit Your Entry:

When you have photos to share, post it to your blog. Then add your name and url to Mr. Linky below sometime before next Monday. This gives your child a full week to polish their project and submit it. Be sure to surf through the other entries with your child. This will inspire them and encourage them in what they're learning.

Air? Please? A dull moment?...

I think this has been my longest...fun...week in a long, long time.

Sunday we packed up the car and drove to Portland for a Classical Conversations teaching practicum. I took in more information than I have since college, I'm certain in those three days. Our classes were from three to nine at night (I'm not sure who scheduled that) so the mornings were spent in the hotel pool. We also got in a visit with my nephew and sister at a beautiful park there. It was really fun. Needless to say, the kids were up waaay past their bedtimes every night and so we came home (at 10 pm) on our very last little leg. The boys were fantastic there. They all had a class to go to. Nate does not like to be away from us at all, he cried until Ralph fanagled and slipped him into class with Joey. For the rest of the 6 hour classes he did great and was happy to be with big kids. Eli, on the other hand didn't love being in his class (I think it was a bit chaotic) so he sat with Ralph and I for most of our classes. I was impressed at how well he sat. I also have some fun drawings of his own to share with you someday soon.

So we got home, tired....and we have company!! Now company has been nothing but pleasure...eating out, swimming, hiking and the like---my in-laws drove up from Northern California to join us for a week of vacationing. They're staying at Eagle Crest so we've gotten to swim at the pool there, Ralph and his dad have played a little golf too. We went out for dinner (got a sitter) to the Blacksmith in Bend...the best steak that's ever crossed my lips. We hiked yesterday in Bend and then went to dinner. Today is Father's Day so we'll plan to BBQ here, I'm glad we'll be able to just be home for five minutes.

So we've yet to launch in to the bored summer mode. Right now I'm looking forward to that but frankly I can't find it on my calendar.

One day I'll update you all with some photos too. :) Have a wonderful father's day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Climbing Mind: absolutely comic

To the kids:

Your challenge this week is to create a comic. The topic and storyline are yours to create, one detail I'd like you to add somewhere is an ice cream truck.

If you'd like to print out a template you can go to this site and choose your format and print out as many sheets as you like. I came across this great tool last week, something I hope you kids can use all summer long.

Have Fun!

To the parents:

Younger kids can be encouraged to draw a picture in each box. You can ask them to tell you about the pictures and make notes if you'd like. Pictures alone are excellent. Do talk about storyline if you like too.

This is a good opportunity to show your bigger kids where quotation marks go when writing the text, or practice "bubbling" the text. You can print out this great example page of faces to create expression on the faces of the characters.

Challenge even older kids by creating a comic book of 2 or more pages of progressive storyline.

To Submit Your Entry:

When you have your child's finished product, scan it or even take a photo and post it to you blog. Then add your name and url to Mr. Linky below. This gives your child a full week to polish their project and submit it. Be sure to surf through the other entries with your child. This will inspire them and encourage them in what they're learning.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Climbing Mind

Welcome to The Climbing Mind! This is our first week of fun summer not-school for kiddos.

Each week I'll be posting a challenge for your little and big ones. These challenges are meant to work for most any age group, so please tailor them to fit the interest and development of your child.

Some contests will have prizes, and kids can view works from other kids online too. Each week will have a featured child, and I'll share what that child did the week prior.

There are really no rules to this meme. Kids can work alone or in groups, parents are encouraged to inspire or lightly direct but to keep their hands-off...your kids will learn and gain confidence in doing it without the management of mama. You will be amazed at what they can do!

So sit back and enjoy your summer, but don't let those little minds get quiet. Read to them, and let their mind climb.

Watch for the first challenge Monday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More Homeschool Links

I've continued on with my great collection of useful links for all things pertaining to homeschool, and will add these links to it today.

The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers is a download you can print out or read online if you like.

Echo In Celebration~ A call to Home-Centered Education
by Leigh Bortins is another download to read...

And remember to check out my favorite sketch blog.... this home school mama assigns the kids a subject to sketch every week then presents all the sketches in a slide show for them to view. It's inspirational seeing other kids' sketches and painless for me (a bonus). Best of all I get my boys practicing drawing. These are sketches the boys did on subject of Buttons;

Science Museums is a fun site for any family, any time of year. There will be long summer days in August when it's too hot to be out and "nothing to do...."

This site, Donna Young has a plethora of homeschool resource from info for beginners to calendars and teaching tips.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Tootin' my own horn....

If I don't, who will?

I ran my longest run tonight.....7.2 miles. I'm no marathon runner at this point in life, just a maintenance runner, longing for a longer life.

But this is the funny part.

As I was running my normal route, I felt a misquito on my leg. Like any normal human I stopped to swat it off, only to see it replaced by five or six more blood sucking bugs. Then I remembered that those school grounds have a serious skeeter problem, so I did the logical thing, started running. Fast.

Not fast enough. I glanced behind me and there had to be at least 30 'squitos hard on my tail. They wanted blood. So I ran faster. I ran faster for a good quarter mile, knowing that if I stopped I couldn't swat them all off me and wondering how far squitos can fly before they get tired.

At least a quarter of a mile. Are you kidding me? Because yes, I did run 7 miles but I can only run at light speed for about a quarter of a mile. I was pooped. At last I stopped ready to swat. By then there were only a few misquitos left.

It was pretty awful. And pretty funny.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

the authentic side

I'm sitting in a quiet house all alone. All alone because all four of my favorite guys are outside having an ice fight...tucking ice chips in each others' clothing is hysterical for them. Each time I look out I see that some little boy has shed yet another piece of clothing because "it's wet." I think they may be on to something- there is only one place to put ice now...in the skivies BUT WAIT!! Who wants ice in your unders???

I love Saturdays. I've been thinking about the next season coming....the beautiful, playful, less-than-home-school-structured days of summer. If you didn't already know this about me I tend to get a little unraveled when big transition is on the calendar. Next week is the last day of school so I've been thinking ahead about what life will look like and I've decided that it can just look like Saturdays all in a row.

That's not to say we plan to be stagnant all summer. My self-assignment for next week is to make book lists for us for the summer. We'll be making regular trips to the library to participate in their reading program. We'll continue on with our weekly sketch challenges that are just plain fun. Also, I'm going to host a reading, drawing and writing contest over the summer so of course the boys will do that. Watch for that to join in!!

Our last camping trip was great. Probably my favorite part about camping is the great amount of relaxing and playing I do, and how little "work" and busyness I participate in. Seems like quiet and calm is a resounding theme in my life right now. Do you know what I mean? Do you ever have times when you hear God speaking something to you and it's confirmed in sacred echos all around you? Over and over you know just want God is asking of you because you hear it in your Bible Study, from a friend, a movie, a book...

The sacred Echo I'm hearing now more than ever;

*be still

**be quiet and find your confidence in Me

***live quietly, do your job

When we're camping life is so still, so quiet. Well, quiet as it can be with three boisterous boys. I have decided to do my best to bring that home. I oscillate between being too busy with a full, full calendar-- and being quiet. I'm going to try and keep a quiet summer.

Wide Margins. I heard it said that it's wise to leave wide margins.

Life has been like this for me:


I feel my heart rate going up already.

For the summer:







You get the idea? Wide margins....room to breathe and play and pray and read in between.

What is God stirring in you in these days?

*Psalm 46:10 (New International Version)

10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

**Isaiah 30:15 (The Message)

God Takes the Time to Do Everything Right
15-17God, the Master, The Holy of Israel,
has this solemn counsel:
"Your salvation requires you to turn back to me
and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
in complete dependence on me—
The very thing
you've been unwilling to do

***1 Thessalonians 4:11 (New International Version)

11Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you

Monday, June 1, 2009

Coos Bay Camping Trip


3 nights stayed in Roseburg
3 nights at Sunset State Park

5 miles family-hiked
too many photos- 321 to be exact
Greatest Adventure: Picnic with Family and "the beach" (according to Nate)
Coolest finds: Spider's Nest and Daddy Long Legs, Huge pool of urchins and Jellyfish in Tidepool (No spidy photos for you K)
Traditions: S'mores, tossing pine cones in fire.
Lesson Learned: Take a crockpot camping! It was wonderful to have the meal mostly done after all that play!
Ambitions: This was our first attempt at a 'life on the road' trip. Ralph worked his normal hours (he telecommutes and can do so at the local library or coffee house with wi fi) and the boys and I pressed on with school. Our days were minimal, math and language arts out of text and much literature about the ocean, coast, tides, sea critters. We also got a National Geographic coastal field guide from the library here and this was a huge asset. As we poked around in tidepools Joe would read to us all, teaching about limpets, urchins and sea stars. Invaluable. The hikes provided lots of conversation about the plants and trees in the temprate rainforest. We've been talking about habitat so this was a fun part of our discussion. The high desert is so completely different.

We finally made it to the beach! Group hug!!

We finally made it to the beach. Naptime.
Our first hike out to Shore Park & Gardens
Elijah Jonathan=Peach
Tree climber Joe
Nate too!

First Tide Pools, ahh heaven for little boys a captive sea window for little eyes.
Underwater pool
Early Morning Tide Pool explorers
I never get tired of those sticky anenomes. When you touch them they 'grab' your finger. Eli showed us that if you squeeze a closed one it squirts like a sprinkler.
Sea Star
Joey's find; sea star complete with rocky bottom
Tide pools below the cliffs. It was beautiful!
Turning around to the other side of the cliffs, I was amazed at the rock walls. I love the Oregon Coast. It's all so unique.
Back at Sunset Beach. Diggin' boys never tire...until it's called 'work.'
Nathan back at the campsite... Eli has dubbed them "smarshmallows" and it stuck...no pun intended.
A new day hike, complete with millipede (thanks to the identification by our insect pro, Makita) :)

More to come....