Friday, 27 June 2014

Blogging through the Alphabet {illness, imps, imperfections and iMovie}

Well, this week has been interesting.  We are still waiting for the "axe to fall" on the other 7 children, in the chickenpox department.  Every day we have random inspections, to see if any spots have appeared.  Possibly, just possibly, I think some may be appearing today!  I really just want this whole thing done and dusted, and the suspense is about killing me! *grin*  Did you know how many little, random spots and blemishes children have? Many, I tell you.  Not helped at all by my next subject.

My imp.  Simeon.

Another trying week with my rambunctious 2 year old.  I think, having been ill, he has had  an enormous amount of energy returned, which he is putting into making mischief.  He is constantly getting into things, and also has developed a liking for screaming when he doesn't get his own way.  Children have uncanny knack for wanting their own way.  It's why we are told, as parents, that we need to "train up a child".  They need to learn that it's not the right way to behave, and they can't always get their own way. It's a tiring job, raising children, I can tell you.  Mostly, on our part, determined by the amount of effort we put into being consistent and attentive in our duties.  Not as much as I ought to, so often, I fear.  I see my imperfections REGULARLY as a parent, and bemoan my selfish, and sinful, and lazy heart, that doesn't do as much as I ought to.  I pray that the Lord would help me to be more of what I should be.

My imperfections were made manifest yesterday, all sparked by my aforementioned imp.

I was busily trying to get the dinner out, as well as getting ready for some Church folks coming round to plan for Holiday Bible Club.  My prideful heart felt I MUST make something home-baked, or I wouldn't be the hostess they were expecting.  I was sure I would have criticism for only giving out shop bought treats.  How silly.  How sinful of my heart.

Well, Simeon soon put an old proverb into practice in my life.

Yes, my friends - pride goeth before..

destruction.





Not a fall.  That's a misquote.

Destruction, and a fall, is what happened.

My brownie mix, which had everything done, other than the flour stirred in, was sitting on the counter.  I was busy doing some other, more vital, jobs, when Simeon knocked my bowl - tipping out a good lot of the mix, and nearly all the flour, onto the floor.




Yes.  That's a brownie splat.  The children were all seeing "pictures" in it - "Ooooh, I can see a face" - "I can see a duck" - I was seeing a mess which I couldn't clear up because dinner needed to be served.

*Sigh*

Thankfully, my husband and son blessed me immensely by clearing it up after dinner, whilst I did other things that needed my attention.  It was no small job, and I am very grateful!

My biggest sigh was over my own pride.  Had I just focussed on one thing - caring for my family's immediate needs - instead of worrying about what others may say or think, then it would not have happened.  I wanted  to give the visitors what I thought was best - my own cooking. Ouch. How awful does that sound, actually typed out in words?

I deserved destruction.

However, in an effort to prevent waste, the mixture that wasn't tipped out was adapted, and cooked, and it was entirely edible (or so I was told by those who could eat it - not me, it has sugar and gluten and other things I don't eat!).

When will I learn?

My imperfections - my sinful heart - are ever before me. I am SO glad for God's love and mercy in my life.  Sadly, I wasn't so merciful on my son. He needed to learn, yes, but I was so angry.  My heart is not perfect, like my heavenly Father. Simeon had been told to stay out, and to stop touching things, and he didn't.  Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth.  That's why we need to train our children, too. Simply, because we love them.  It could have been worse than mixture tipped on the floor.  It could have been a hot oven touched, or knives causing harm, by his disobedience.  I really hope he learns soon.  That, or my patience needs to be improved faster.

I humbly listen to my own words, and I pray I learn, too.

I will finish with my "iMovie" point.





My friend kindly introduced my children to an app, called iMovie.  You can do all sorts of fun things with it, and the children have used it for educational purposes, in the last two weeks.  I really cannot rate it highly enough, for usability, and inventiveness.  It encourages children to use their creativity in producing short films.  They can do it as  "trailer" type setting, or just in a free form way.  The first was a "trailer", outlining the science they were doing that day.  The second was a "dramatic production" of a scene from the life of Solomon (being studied in our Tapestry of Grace work, this week - it was an assignment to incorporate the whole family).

I gave the children feedback on it all, but I think it's a great first attempt at a dramatic adaptation! I can't wait to see what else they can do in the future.

Without further ado, I shall share their "movies" with you!



                                      



As ever, I'm linking up with Ben and Me.  Check out some of the other bloggers, and see what "I" they have shared.



Ben and Me

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tapestry on a Tuesday {Spotlight on Geography}

I thought it may be worthwhile to do a mini-series, of sorts, about the different elements involved in Tapestry of Grace. Don't be put off if you don't use TOG (Tapestry of Grace), there will be lots of helpful information in there which would be useful to any home educating parent.

The main areas covered in the curriculum are

History

Geography

Literature

Writing

Arts & Activities

It would be logical to begin with History, but I had my geography books out yesterday, when I was putting together my Unit 3 Workbooks, so I took a few pictures of those to begin with that.

Where to start? Lets start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...

 (Singing a line from The Sound of Music in my head, now...and so are you, now - SORRY!)

At the beginning of every new year of TOG, there is always a general overview of world geography.  It suggests that you make sure the student knows the major continents, oceans and  landforms.  It also covers the major geographical terms, and suggests that your children learn or review these.

When we are covering these more general topics, we use some readily available atlases.

Our favourites are these....


My general point of view is that you cannot beat a good Usborne title! They are extremely thorough, and very child-captivating in structure and style.




We also, recently, added this to our collection, suggested by a fellow TOGster (TOG "sister").  It covers the major definitions of geographical terms, and bar a few odd ones, all the ones suggested in the TOG "terms to learn" list.


They are accompanied by fun illustrations, which would suit young and older alike!


The wonderful thing about TOG, is that they have maps provided for you to use. The programme is called MapAids.  Obviously, you have to pay for them, but they are well worth the cost! It's a one off cost - once you buy them, you have them forever. You can purchase them per Unit, or per Year, with the usual benefit of it being cheaper to purchase a full year at once. You can also purchase them already printed, ready punched (for 3-ring binders).  Although more convenient, these are less helpful for larger families, where it's perhaps more cost-effective to print your own for each child, as, and when, you need them. It's also not so handy as the digital edition, for those like me, who would have enormous shipping costs for anything that is a "hard" copy.  You don't even need to be a TOG user to use these maps!  You can purchase them through the Tapestry of Grace website, or direct from KnowledgeQuest, but they don't have all the updated ones available there. You could certainly get a taste for them, and see if it wets your appetite to look into TOG further!  Obviously, it's best if you have the WHOLE curriculum, in order to experience the maps in the way they were intended....

Having a map provided, for nearly every week - sometimes more than one -  is just amazingly convenient. They are high quality, and produced by Knowledge Quest, who are industry experts in educational maps. They are mostly black and white, with a very little pale colouring (not heavy on the ink!), on the way through.  I print nearly everything on "fast draft" and it still looks super.

The maps cleverly take you on a journey around the globe, throughout the four year cycle, alongside the curriculum, to explore the geographical areas covered within each week of the curriculum.  Every continent is traversed, as your children label major cities, highways, rivers, oceans, and other points of interest along the way.  Shading and labelling are the two main ways that this is done.  It truly brings history to life, as you begin to understand the man made and natural boundaries, obstacles and expansions, as cultures advance, grow or decline.

There is also the option to do a Transparency Overlay project, where the child uses transparencies and permanent pens to fill in information on a continuing theme, showing changes over time.  I think this sounds like a great thing to do, but it's not an area we have ventured into yet, despite my enthusiasm at the start of the year. I need a willing student, first!

If you want to see more about overlays, visit THIS blog post, by my friend, Pam.


(You can see that more detail has been added in the second image, with another transparency layer added on top of the previous one/s.  This one is based on the subject of the states which were involved in the American War of Independence - or, as they call it, the Revolutionary War!)


 TOG suggests various different resources for your child to refer to, when filling out their maps.  They vary throughout the years, depending on the period of history covered.  Sometimes the information may be in the books listed as general references books, or they may be books specifically relating to geography and maps.

These are a few we having been using, so far, in Year 1, specific to mapwork.



This first one is a top little reference book, for any Bible scholar.  Not only is it available as a pocket edition, but it's packed to the gunwales with Biblical references and factual information relating to the maps. This information helps you to grasp a better understanding of Bible events, and where they took place in relation to each other.  


This book is suitable for younger, grammar level students, or for any age group.  These next two are recommended for older students, and my Dialectic aged child is currently using them.

The Kregel Bible Atlas sits somewhere between the more simple Bible Atlas and Companion, and the Holman Bible Atlas.  It has factual information, accompanied by maps, drawings and photographs. Whilst the Bible Atlas and Companion deals with Bible references, the Holman and the Kregel delve into other events happening at the same time as Bible events, giving you a bigger picture of what was happening in the world. 




Next, we currently use Journey Through the Bible.  The emphasis of this is more of a "fill in the gaps" from a cultural and historical standing, as you travel through Bible events.  For each Bible event it provides you with scriptural references, a narrative of information relating to those passages, and pictures and maps to go along with it. 

 For example,  in the page shown below, the story of the sun standing still at Aijalon is covered.  There is Biblical reference of Joshua 10:1-28, information about the battle and who and what was involved, illustrations of possible weapons that would have been used, and a map outlining the battle strategy which was implemented, as well as a photo of what the valley looks like today.  It's all very useful information, and very easy to follow.





   
This final book is also an invaluable title for any Christian home, but is specifically suggested for Rhetoric level students.  It's a larger, "meatier" book, with far more written information than the one above.  The maps are more detailed, and varied, and it also includes charts with timelines, as well as 3D maps and photos of current day locations connected to the historical information.  These allow you to grasp the majesty and beauty of many Bible land locations, not fully grasped when reading the scriptures.  Although this final one is suggested for Rhetoric students, it is a useful reference tool for any child and level.




Above and below are examples of  a 3D map, and a timeline list.




Another tremendously helpful tool in MapAids, are.. the TEACHER maps! Yes, there are reference maps, to allow you to see what the student should have filled in on their maps.  For the first four years, I would end up printing this map off if we struggled to find all the details we were supposed to be filling in.  It took me four years, but I came up with a nifty solution.  Given my love for binding, I printed off the entire year of teacher maps, and bound them together as our "Teacher Maps" reference book! When things get really tricky - and only if we REALLLLLY can't find the information elsewhere - it becomes our reference for filling in final details. In essence, it's simply using another "atlas", in a slightly cheating way, but as it's like "copywork" for maps, it's still a valuable tool in our homeschool setting.  It's better to have the maps filled in fully by simply "copying", than to not fill in the detail at all.  FINDING the answer for yourself is ALWAYS a great way to learn, but needs must, at times!

It looks just like our Student Workbooks, but is labelled according to which Year the maps are for, and that it is the Teacher's book.  It lives with my  TOG files, rather than on the shelf with the other atlases, and is only given when a child requests it, upon exhausting all other means of finding the answers.

Meanie teacher...

I was about to wind this thing up, when I remembered something else, which we haven't done in a LONNNNNNG time, but is immensely fun (though rather messy.... hence explanation of the length of time since we last did it. *aherm*)  It's making a SALT DOUGH MAP! You mix up a batch of salt dough, and recreate a geographical feature, or region, relating to your studies.  It helps the child grasp the topography of the area, as it's in 3D, as well as the flora and fauna, as your paint it according to the ground cover, and geographical features, of the region. I particularly remember doing on of Italy, and I can still remember where the mountainous regions are in that region!  If your child is very hands-on, then this method of learning geography will be RIGHT up their street.


This is one of Italy, which we did at the start of Year 2, first time around.


This is the children doing one of an imaginary island, containing major geographical features. I must have not taken a photo of the finished product, though! Sorry!

Alternatively, if you have a sweet tooth, a COOKIE DOUGH map may be your ticket.

Geography + a sweet treat = why, yes please!



(Image kindly donated by my TOGster, Pam. Find more about making these yummy maps in her blog post here.)


(This one is from another TOGster, Tricia. Read more about it on her log post here.)

Another clever one which Trica did, was PIZZA DOUGH maps! Yes, the food theme carries on with great aplomb!



I think I have covered all the bases for Geography, but if I think of anything else, or one of my TOGsters lets me know I missed anything, I will come back and amend the post.

I hope this has been useful to you, whether you already use TOG, are thinking about it, or just if you need a few ideas for geography in your own setting.

I'm linking up with Lisa, over at Tales of a Homeschool Family, if you want to see other posts from TOG users.

 talesofahomeschoolfamily
                                                           

Monday, 23 June 2014

Sitting at Jesus' feet {stop being a mother and be a daughter}

Imagine a scene.

You are in a home, where visitors are in attendance.  Naturally, the hostess wants to do her best to provide and care for her guests.  There is food to prepare.  Drinks to offer.  Clearing up to be done.

It's a good thing to be hospitable.  It's a wonderful thing to be willing to care for others.

Imagine a sister, instead of busying herself with domestic duties, sitting.  Sitting at the feet of her Master, the Great Teacher, listening to His words of wisdom and blessing.

No bustling about serving, which was a normal, and right thing to do.

Sitting.

Listening.

Learning.

Martha (yes, you know who I am talking about), was cross.  She was possibly fuming.  Here she was, busy serving, and Mary was SITTING.

SITTING.

Did she not care about the job they had to do?   Did she not think that serving was important?

It was right to look after guests, and she was just listening.

Resting, whilst Martha was busy.

The thing is, I was thinking about this in a new light today.

Work is good.  Work is important. It's right to be take care of others, and be busy.

It's wrong to have a bad attitude about it.  That, I knew already.

What I saw afresh today was to do with my spiritual walk, versus my day to day life - more specifically as a mother.

We have got a mountain of jobs that are forever calling our name.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Tidying.  Mending.  Caring.  Teaching.

A seemingly endless list of things.

It's oh so easy to neglect "that better part".  It's so easy to place pressure upon ourselves to think that the practical somehow trumps the spiritual.

"But, we have a responsibility to do X, Y and Z...."  we cry out.

My thought for today?

Should that responsibility ever trump the importance of drawing near to Jesus?

Our quiet time can so easily get pushed to the side, because "We have a duty to care for our family, which God gave us".

Perhaps we may think, "I can't possibly ignore my children so I can read my Bible".


No, no, NO, my soul.


"This ONE thing is needful."

This "One thing" - it's not the "Not being cumbered about" part.

It's the sitting and learning at Jesus' feet part.

Mothers have a vital role in a family.  We have the task of training up our children in the things of Christ.  If we are not making spiritual progress, by sitting and learning "at the feet of Jesus", then how can we function in our role as teacher of our children? If we are not first growing in Christ, and desperately soaking up all we can learn of Christ, then we can't impart that knowledge to our children.  We can't apply it to our lives, to make us a more godly example to them.

We don't need to get up before the children, or stay up until the small hours, trying to stay awake and read our Bibles.  What better example can we be to our children, than to have them SEE us read the scriptures!? Not just doing it because it's the only chance we get, but to do it intentionally - for them to see the importance God's Word has in your life.

Reading books that teach us.  Not just ear ticklers, that make everything sweet and simple.  Deep and meaningful literature, that makes us think, and challenges to  understand God better.

Listening to sermons. The world has addled our brains, and listening to God's Word being preached, other than on Sunday in church, seems to be a drudge and a chore.  I challenge my own heart first, here.  It's far easier to choose to listen to an audiobook, or watch a DVD, than to listen to sermon.  It's been a while since I listened to a sermon online, and due to the children being either ill, or potentially contagious, we stayed home from church today.  The sermon was SO challenging.  It was what made me think of this topic at all.  The challenge to "Come up hither".  To aim upwards to being in communion with the Lord and learning of Him.

It wasn't just a sermon for pastors.

Or Office bearers.

Or Sunday School teachers.

Or husbands.

We are all called to "come up" and get to know the Lord better.  To be more like Jesus.  To grow in our spiritual lives. We are His children -  daughters of the king.  That relationship comes above being a mother, or a wife.

It's not going to happen mystically and mysteriously, by some supernatural incident, with no input from us.

WE are required "come up".  WE need to take action.

There are few ways we can get closer to the Lord, and all of them require some action from us.

WE need to open our Bibles.

WE need to expose ourselves to good and faithful teaching - in books or in sermons.

It's not going to happen without effort.

And, it's THIS one thing that's needful

Parenting is right and good, but we can so easily become "cumbered about".  Spending more time searching for ways to make our life more manageable, beautiful, profitable and successful, than we do searching for God's voice to speak to us through His Word.

I heard a very visual analogy today.  Our Christian life is never one that stands still.  We cannot say we are spiritually at a certain point, and have no need to go forward, and that we won't go backwards.  We are either going up, or down.

My mind sprang to someone riding a bike up a hill.  You put in effort, and you go up.  You stop, and you don't stay still.  You will start heading back down the hill!

We cannot be mothers who stop spiritually "pedalling", because we think we have something else that is more important. So busy serving, that we are not actually serving the right master at all. Stressing, and causing exhaustion, over the temporal, and neglecting the spiritual.

We won't just stand still.

We won't just "stop going up".

Slowly, but surely, we'll start to roll backwards, to the detriment of our own life, and the lives of those around us.

NOTHING is more important than making sure that our spiritual life is healthy, and we are growing in our knowledge of Christ.

When Mary sat, she had to stop what she was doing, and rest.  As wives, mums, and women in general, we are so busy DOING, and can be so consumed with it all.  Putting learning about Jesus, above everything else, means a self-imposed sitting, and resting.  If nothing else, the break would do us a physical good.  More than that, we will be blessed, refreshed, and built up spiritually, which will make us more able to get back up and "do".

This week, I need to get into the Word more -  a daughter of the King, wanting to be more in tune with listening out for the voice of her Heavenly Father, as I seek for ways to grow more like Him.  Setting aside the "mother" hat, and basking in the role of "daughter".  Sitting.  Resting.

Making choices that allow me to pedal upwards, and not roll backwards.

Choosing that one thing that is needful.

Sitting at Jesus' feet.




“One thing is needful” -
Life crowds in;
Cumbered about,
Serving Him.
Busy and doing -
Priorities dim.
Make me to sit,
Oh, this I plead,
At Thy feet, Lord Jesus.

“One thing is needful”
Clamouring voice
Of many “things” –
I neglect to rejoice
In Christ my Saviour.
Surrender, by choice.
Make me to sit,
Oh, this I plead,
At Thy feet, Lord Jesus.


“One thing is needful”,
THIS all I need; 
Shut out the world -
On His Word feed.
Seeking Him only
My way to lead.
Make me to sit,
Oh, this I plead,
At Thy feet, Lord Jesus.

“One thing is needful” -
Good, better, best.
Choosing pursuits
Puts our life to the test.
Burdens aside,
On His bosom to rest.
Make me to sit,
Oh, this I plead,
At Thy feet, Lord Jesus.


“One thing is needful”
All else can’t take
That precious time.
Progress we must make,
In our sweet union.
Passion awake.
Make me to sit,
Oh, this I plead,

At Thy feet, Lord Jesus.
C.Cordle 







Photobucket

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

When interesting things are actually predators {guarding our marriages}

Last week, my older boys were out helping me in the garden one evening.  As boys tend to do, they got distracted by something interesting (other than tidying the garden!)

Quick, Mum, come here and see what I have found", said Josh.

"It's an amazing, red beetle!"




(I think we have better pictures, once we've uploaded from the camera..)


Right enough, there were three, fascinating looking, red beetles, on my lily plant.  So very distinctive, and colourful.  We had never seen anything quite like them. We went and got the camera, and spent some time trying to take the best picture we could.  When we were done, we walked away, thinking nothing else of it.

Thankfully, Grandma was in the house the next day, and we told her all about these fascinating, red beetles.

"Were they on your lilies?", she enquired.

"Yes, why?"

"You need to kill them!!! They are lily beetles, and they will destroy your lilies!"

OH!

Off we went, toot sweet, and I picked all three off, and squished them, without a qualm.

Lilies are my favourite flower. I truly love them. I love their beautiful shape and colour, and I LOVE their scent.  As much as we found the bugs interesting, the flowers mattered more.

A truth hit home to me, as I thought about those lily beetles.

Our marriages are like those lilies.

 Precious, beautiful, sweetly scented.

They should require tenderness and attention to keep them healthy.

Sometimes, however, intriguing, fascinating and deceptively beautiful things can come along - things that we consider to be important if you look at them in the wrong light.

They can be as seemingly innocuous as immersing yourself in fiction.   It could be repeated opportunities to spend time with your friends, over spending time with your husband.  It could be reading or seeking worldly, and ungodly advice about marriage.  It could be indulging in an unhealthy lifestyle.  It could be the belief that keeping silent on issues is actually the beauty of submission. Spending a lot of time online.  Pandering to your children, and giving them more attention than your husband. Having men who are close friends.

So many things, which are dangerous in a marriage, can seem harmless at first glance.

On closer inspection, they will destroy our marriage - one "bite" at a time.

God has given us our husbands - they are a gift.  We promise, at marriage to be faithful to each other. It should be our earnest desire to build our marriages, and not tear them down.  It doesn't always happen in the obvious, extreme ways.

Immersing yourself in fiction can lead to comparing your husband to the fictional, perfect men in the books, and giving you a false standard which you can easily start comparing against.  Reading isn't bad - not reading sensibly, is.

Spending more time with your friends, than with your husband, takes you away from the one person we should feel closest to on this earth, and can give opportunities to stray from our marriage vows. It can make us more likely to start griping and complaining to others, or just simply leave our husbands lonely.  Friends are good - friends in unequal measure with husbands, is not good.

Seeking advice about our marriages from a source that seems to be wise, but is not founded upon the Word of God, can be dangerous.  Opinions based on worldly standards will not be the same, invariably, from the standards we find in scripture. Godly advice is good, ungodly advice is harmful.

An unhealthy lifestyle can cause a multitude of health issues, which can ultimately eat away at our marriages.  Too many cakes and "treats", which may taste amazing and satisfy for a time,  can damage hormone levels, energy levels, and other organ functions.  It can make us more likely to suffer from depression.  All these things can put a strain on intimacy, and also our emotions in a marriage.  Eating treats and being moderate in our indulgences is lovely, lacking self control is bad.

The belief that a wife has no entitlement to share her point of view, or enter into discussion with her husband, is completely un-scriptural, and can be very damaging.  We are all created equal before God.  Our perspective and wisdom on matters can be very helpful in a marriage, whilst still being submissive, in an entirely Biblical manner.  It doesn't mean we are forceful or belligerent about out opinions, or that we sulk if we don't get out own way all the time. It doesn't mean we can't express things, though, and any man who doesn't allow that of his wife, probably doesn't understand his role as head of the home. Sitting silently, all the time, means your husband doesn't know how you are thinking on matters, and the bitterness that could creep up in your heart, because you think you shouldn't ever say anything, can cripple a marriage.    Being silent when you have said your part, or not arguing and nagging is good - thinking you have no right to ever voice an opinion is bad.

Being online can be a very valuable tool.  There are many opportunities to read things that are beneficial, and find things to help us be a better woman.  However, if it takes you away from your duties, causing you to neglect your home, and your husband, then it can quickly become destructive instead of edifying.  I would rather you didn't read my blog, if it is keeping you from doing what you SHOULD be doing! Husbands will get riled rather quickly, if they continually come home to find a wife on the web, instead of a wife with her life under control!  Being disciplined about our internet usage, and gleaning wisdom from our time is good - spending all day there is bad.

Our children are another gift from God.  The Bible tells us that quite clearly.  However, the world we live in is trying to place their wants and wishes ahead of anything else in life.  They are being encouraged to be egocentric and selfish, and if we pander to that - giving them more attention and effort, than we do our marriages - then it can be devastating.  Husbands can see if they are being shoved to the side.  If we don't nurture our marriage, then we cannot fully nurture our children.  Yes, they are VERY important, and we do well to carefully raise our children, but never to the neglect of our marriages.  If our marriage breaks down, our children will be harmed - without a doubt.  Children are a precious, precious thing - but putting them above everything else is almost idolatrous, and bad.

I know that people will say that you can have a platonic friendship with a man, and it won't cause any harm. I don't agree. We tread on very dangerous ground if we think that nurturing a friendship with a man, other than a husband, is going to end anywhere other than disaster.  You have to ask yourself WHY you think it's something you need.  I'm not talking about having friends, who are a couple.  I'm talking seeing a man, on your own, other than your husband.  You are opening yourself, and the other person, up to emotions and situations where your marriage vows could be compromised severely.  It's just not healthy. Having men who can counsel you and your husband, together, and be friends as a couple, is good.  Seeking to spend time alone with other men, is bad.

I could add endless more.  It all comes down to wisely examining everything we do, and making sure it will build up our marriage and not tear it down.  Don't start excusing your own situation, and trying to make exceptions of things you KNOW deep down could be harmful.  Be ever wise, and prayerfully consider, whether what you do is good, better and best.

Oh, and don't be a woose.  I know some people, had they found out that they had red beetles on their lilies, would have told their husband, and hoped THEY sorted it out.  It may never get done, for whatever reason, and your lilies would be devoured.

Our marriages are the same.  If you can see issues arising, which are in YOUR power to sort out - DO IT! Don't start looking to what you think your husband should or shouldn't be doing, or say "once he sorts out X, Y or Z, then I'll see  to my problems". NO NO NO!  We are only ever accountable for OURSELVES!

Today, I am going to prayerfully look at my marriage, and see if there are any predators that need to be squashed - I can already think of some, that would try and creepy crawl their way in.



" Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion (red, lily beetle!), walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: "
II Peter 5:8

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Tots on a Tuesday {fun ways to count and learn numbers}

I realised, recently, that a couple of my little ones didn't quite have their number recognition sorted.  The older child was understanding certain maths concepts, but not able to recognise the number in the sum!

So, I set out to find some fun and interesting ways to tie up number recognition, with counting.

I conventiently viisted The Range, just as I was about to set out doing these activities, and I picked up a few items that would be helpful.  These are all things that you could find in other places - not necessarily the identical item, but similar, and still able to function the same way.

So, what were they?

Rainbow pom poms, wooden numbers and clothes pins with hearts on the end!






The heart pegs, I numbered from 1-20, with a Sharpie, on the heart end.  There are loads of things you could do with them, but I decided to grab some items I had in the house, and use them to do some counting. I got the tu of "children's" buttons (not my nice ones!), and got them to first put the numbers in order, then to count out the correct number of buttons into each section in the egg carton! They had a lot of fun doing this!

You could easily find similar, small, wooden pegs in a craft store, or even a hardware store! I have found similar ones in Poundland before.


(Keeping it real - this is what happened when Simeon got the buttons!)



Then, we got to using out wooden numbers and our pom poms. Now, when you want to use any item to count to ten, and want to have the exact number of items to do so, it's helpful to know you need 55 items... my pack had 50! Not to self - buy more pom poms!)


 I just love rainbow things, so these were a real find! As I say, I *MUST* buy some more!  Once again, though, you could use any pom poms, or any other manipulative, like buttons, counters, and such like.

Another activity we did, which I don't have a picture of right now, is having them draw around the wooden numbers, then draw items matching that number - 1 bee, 2 flowers, etc etc. A year ago, Abi wouldn't have enjoyed doing that, but she enjoys drawing much more now. Elijah? He would draw until the cows came home! You could use these numbers for kinesthetic tracing, getting them to trace the number with their finger on the actual number, or inside the shape once they have drawn it.  That all reinforces, in their brain, how to form the number.


We did another couple of activities, with some items we already had.  First off, we used some printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  I think I may have shared them before, or perhaps the alphabet ones?


You can easily find these wooden, geometric shapes, in online stores such as Amazon.  I have a set of them.  I also have a set of shapes, very similar, in our Spielgaben set (which is something I plan to tell you about very soon!).  I have these printed out for 0-20, but we just focussed on the 1-10.


Taking great care to do it precisely!




It's funny how older children appear when the younger ones are having fun!!

One final thing I also want to share, is building numbers from Duplo.


As I have mentioned before, it's nice to be able to use toys, to make education more fun!



Once again, mess, just out of shot! 

There are absolutely endless ways to work with numbers - we did more than I have shared today, and I can share that another time!

If you have any fun ways you have worked with numbers and counting, please link up or share in the comments below.  



TheJoyfulKeeper
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Monday, 16 June 2014

God's perfect ways {when Monday brings a surprise....}

I have been having a really enjoyable couple of weeks, and had been looking forward to some busy, but exciting, days ahead.

Then, this morning happened.

It all started so well. Up in good time, lovely time spent doing my devotions, soaking up God's Word, then breakfast.

Then, I changed Simeon's nappy and got him stripped off to dress.

That little red spot on his derrière, which I had noticed a few days ago, seemed to not be the only spot any more.

No.

Definitely not alone.

Lots of spots around that area, up to his chest, in his elbow, around his ear, in his scalp....

Yup....

Spot-tastic..

Looks like we have finally succumbed to chickenpox, in the Cordle Household!

Quite frankly, I'm surprised it's taken this long to hit, but here it seems to be! So far, Simeon is happy enough, but they are a bit itchy. Once I get the chance, I will nip out and get some of the soothing gels I have had suggested to me (Witch hazel, and aloe vera), and also give him a bath with oats in a muslin bag.  Oh, and get some Piriton, and brufen for any children who also get it, who feel ill with it.

Sports day will have to be missed out on next week (sad faces, ALL around.... ) and our trip we were going to have to a lovely National Trust property.

I have the potential to have 8 very miserable children, and it could take weeks to affect them all.

Church will have to be missed.

It all has the potential to be a misery-inducing scenario.

I'm not going to let the devil beat me! My devotions, and many recent sermons I have heard, have all talked about the devil, and how he wants to attack me, and bring me down.

I'M NOT GOING TO LET HIM!!!!

My God is a great God.  He's a good God.  He is a God who plans my life perfectly.

If HE says we are to have chickenpox, and throw all my "plans" in a spin, then that's the way it is.  It's my joy to cheerfully accept these providences, as PERFECT.

Thinking about 8 miserable children has the potential to be rather daunting.  But, do you know what?

"As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. 
 For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? 
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect." 

Psalm 18:30-32  

"Buckler"  = my protector, and "gird" - to surround me.

God is there to protect me from those "down" feelings, and to surround me with HIS strength. All I need to do is

"call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies."
(verse 3)


I just need to ASK Him, and He will give me all I need.  Saving me from the enemies of doubt, depression, impatience, fatigue and frustration.

What sweet peace and assurance! I don't need to worry about these days ahead - the trial that is pretty certain to come -  because I can rely on His strength and protection. He will give me all I need. I need to keep my eyes up, and look to Him, and not at my own weakness. I need to not worry about the non-essentials, and just focus on being a lovely, caring, protecting, and helping Mummy.

Maybe you face a trial this week?  Maybe things could all blow up into a potentially overwhelming situation?

God is our protector and strength. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!




Friday, 13 June 2014

Blogging through the Alphabet {Gifts...}

My  post this week is sort of simple. Partly because I was a great, galloping galoot. I got my weeks wrong, and now have my "H" post ready for next week.

Doh!



Ben and Me



I was thinking about something to do with "G", and I was feeling rather frantic, because I have such a busy day, and much to do before it ends.

What came to my mind was GIFTS.

There are so many days in my life that I seem to just be so busy DOING. It's part of being a wife and mother, and especially part of being a mother who also educates at home.  Some nights I go to bed with my head in a whirl, from just doing the next thing.

However, it just struck me, as I listen to some children doing chores, some playing, and watching the two smallest playing together on the floor, I have been given SO much in life.

GOD is the giver, and He gives so generously.




I have my salvation, first and foremost. God gave His Son, so that my sins could be forgiven.  I currently have a baby dress, stained with red dye. She chewed my new bracelet, and the colour has gone onto her NEW white dress. I have tried so many stain removers, and it hasn't come out yet. It's not going to be easy. It's the same with the greatest gift. Our sin, dyed deep in our life, was a stain we couldn't remove ourselves.  Sinner, bound for an eternity in hell, without God. Yet, Jesus came, shed His blood, I repented of my sins, and my sins are GONE! Cleansed, forgiven - my sins blotted out.  "Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool".

I have my family. Those I was born amongst, and those who have been added. All such a blessing - a gift from God.  They are all such a joy and encouragement to me - every single one of them.

I have my friends - friends in the flesh, who I love to be with, and share fellowship with - who encourage ME.  Friends online, who have also blessed me beyond measure - they are all a gift, from God.

I have an amazing home, which was provided in a truly amazing way, by an amazing God.

I have everything I need - food, clothing, and many extras which I don't really "need", but are such a help to me.

The thing is, these are the OBVIOUS gifts.  Life is more than the big things.  The things that stare you in the face every day.

I so often MISS the gifts, because I am so busy with life. I have been trying to slow down, and enjoy them.  Take the opportunities, and appreciate them as gifts from God.

Those moments when I am tired in the daytime - I remember that the gift of Tabitha is what makes me feel like that. The gift of my children, needing me to care for them and help them.  The gift of my husband who needs my loving care and attention.  All gifts.

Those moments where I have tidying up to do, EVERYWHERE.  I turn, and more mess has appeared.  Why?  Gifts.  God GAVE me the children that made the mess.  Many people have yearned for a child at all, and would gladly have the mess, just because it would mean they had a child to make it.  Messes come from a gift.

Moments when my head is in a twist from the endless questions, requests, squabbles, and general noise.  I stop and give thanks for the gift.  The gift of children who have a brain that functions enough to think, to ask questions, to have needs that I must fulfil, to have voices to squabble and make noise, and that I have functioning ears to hear them.

Times when I am a little overwhelmed with children climbing on me, and I am trying to get work done.  These little ones (and bigger ones) are a GIFT.  It's a gift that I can do the jobs - that I live somewhere that I have so many things to fill my time. The children, who seem to "bother" me at times, are only seeking out my love and attention, which they deserve as a gift from me.

The list is endless.

Tabitha learning to sit up.

The lovely flowers and beautiful scents in my garden.

The sound of the children playing together.

The birds singing in the sunshine.

The bounty of tasty food we enjoy.

It's all gifts.

God has GIVEN us richly all things to enjoy.

All these things that give us pleasure in our lives, and in our hearts. They're a gift.

Every good and every perfect gift is from above.

God.  The giver.

If HE can give me so much, how can I give any less.

I need to take more time to just enjoy these precious gifts, and give of my own time and efforts to those around me.  Blessing others whenever I can, instead of pleasing myself.

We sang a hymn at the weekend, which is one of my favourites. I think I may have quoted it before?  "When all thy mercies, O my God, My rising soul surveys"?

 There are other verses, not in our hymnbook, which reflect the truth of God as the giver.

O how shall words with equal warmth
The gratitude declare,
That glows within my ravished heart?
But thou canst read it there.

Thy bounteous hand with worldly bliss
Hath made my cup run o’er;
And, in a kind and faithful Friend,
Hath doubled all my store.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the last a cheerful heart
That tastes those gifts with joy.


Oh, I most certainly taste these gifts with joy. My heart is full.


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Weary in well doing {don't give up}

Have you ever been out with your children, and you hear a little voice saying

"Mummy, can we go home, my legs hurt!"???

We were out just the other day, and I heard it, for the umpteenth time in my life.

Probably the gazillionth, actually.  (You don't know what gazillions are? Shame on you...)

It's a lot.

I don't know about you, but I end up turning into someone like a cross between a middle-aged sergeant major and a motivational speaker.

"Come on now, you need to just keep going. I can't walk for you, and you have no choice but to walk.  You CAN do it. You are SOOOO strong, and I just KNOW you will get there, and your legs won't fall off in the process. Come on - be brave."

Then ensues some kind of fun marching song, such as

"Left, left, left, right, left. I left my wife and forty-two kids in a starving condition without any gingerbread. Left, left, left, right left"

(Weird, right? I learnt it 24 years ago, from some lovely American friends, whilst marching around some random backstreets of a long-forgotten English town...the name of the town I forget, the people I will NEVER forget!)

The rhyme lives on, as it gets recited to my weary, pained-leg children, at various stages of their lives.

The thing is, I can totally relate to their plight.

There are many, many days where I feel weary.  Weary, for a variety of reasons.

We can feel physically weary.  Right now, that's a battle for me.  I have a weaning aged child (ooooh, glad I mentioned that - off to adjust my Tesco delivery order...right, done now!)  Tabitha is waking more than normal, because she is getting hungrier, I think. She's over 7 months, and I reckon, despite her rather chubby appearance, I think she needs some more solid food. Lack of sleep, albeit she feeds quickly, and I get back to sleep quickly, makes me feel weary in the daytime.


(A smiling face like that melts thoughts of a disturbed night away - until something happens to test your patience, and you remember you ARE tired...)


We can feel weary emotionally.  If we have a lot going on around us - perhaps problems within a family, or in Church, or even amongst friends.  Children, and the various stages they pass through, can create an emotional fatigue. Each stage has its own challenges, emotionally.  As a spouse, we can have emotions that go up and down, depending on the season of life we are in.  As  WOMEN, we are very emotional beings, as God has created us to be that way. It can be truly exhausting.

We can feel weary spiritually.  The devil wants to attack us, on every front.  Last weekend, at our service of thanksgiving, we were reminded of the devil, and his wiles.  We need to be ready to fight, and fighting is exceedingly tiring. The devil is always attacking, so we are always fighting weariness on that front. He attacks our marriages, our families, our choices, our minds.

We can especially feel weariness setting in, whilst doing what God wants us to do.  God leads us all down different paths. Not two of us share the same situations - and that includes within a marriage, never mind the wider circle of acquaintances. Our home life, raising our children, making decisions on a day-to-day basis, fighting for our marriages.  All seeking God's ways.  There are times when we just feel like throwing in the towel, because the Spiritual life is not easy. We are doing exactly what God wants us to do, and yet it's HARD. Doing the right thing is often a difficult path to walk.

We are promised no less, however.  On top of that, we are told NOT to grow weary, in well doing.

There's a reason for it, and it is such a joyous prospect.

So long as we are doing what we should first.

Sowing the spiritual, and not to the flesh.  Pleasing God, not men. Seeking first the Kingdom of God, not the dominion of earthly things. God first, ever and always.

THEN, that joyous prospect - in due season WE SHALL REAP, if we faint not.

DON'T GIVE UP, dear sister.  Whatever God has called you to, don't faint.  All that effort you are putting in, to serve the Lord faithfully, will reap harvest in time.  We will see why the labour was necessary - maybe not today, or tomorrow, next month, or year - maybe only when our race is run.


The Lord will renew our strength. (Isaiah 40:31)

The Lord will give grace and glory. (Psalm 84:11)

The Lord will give you peace. (Psalm 29:11)

The Lord will deliver us in troubled times.  (Psalm 41:1)


We will reap.


Don't give up.





Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Tots on a Tuesday {fun way to learn about shape and size}

I love it when my friends are an inspiration!  I had a post lined up for today, but my friend posted a picture on Facebook recently, with an idea that inspired a fun activity.  You know who you are, and thank you in advance!

This is a fun idea, which can be adapted in loads of different ways, to have a lot of fun and learn at the same time.

It involves a few, easily availble, household items.  Empty tubes and containers, and sellotape.  That's it!

Let me show you some pictures, to give you the idea.




We taped two empty containers onto the back of the door, both with each end "open". I chopped the bottom off a drinks carton, and cut the bottom off a Pringles tube.  They each had a similar sized "top", but different sized "bottoms".





Next, they got different little items, which I found around the house - toys and small objects of various origins - and they tried putting them down each "tube".



We popped a little bowl underneath each tube, to catch the objects in.   Simeon really loved this! He got so excited every time something fell down into the bowl below! 




As you can see here, they worked out, by trial and error, which items could fit down each tube! Elijah, on the most part, carefully eyed up each object, and correctly worked out which tube the item could fit down, ut some objects threw him, if they were unusually shaped!



Here are the results of their fun!

They really, truly, had a whole lot of fun doing this, and you can use anything you can lay your hands on, for the tubes, and for the objects you put down.

You can also make it as simple, or as "complicated" as you like. You can just give a very small child bigger, safe, items, and let them put them down there for a fun, hand-eye co-ordination activity.  Simeon participted more in this way.  He thought it was all GREAT fun! An even younger child could still easily accomplish this.  Just give them bigger tubes, at their height. 

An older child you can give a whole variety of tubes, with curves, angles and different shapes and sizes, and ask them first to guess if the object will go down, and ask them why they think that.  Then, get them to test their hypothesis.  It's getting them to think through reasoning, even at a young age. 

Other objects you could use are the inside of kitchen towel, toilet paper, tubes from foil and cling film, empty milk cartons, empty squash bottles, empty baking ingredient tins, and many more things, I'm sure!

You can stick them anywhere that tolerates tape being applied - doors, sides of bookcases and cupboards in the kitchen, to name a few. 

Between the tubes you can use, the places you can do it, and the items you can send down the tubes, you can have LOADS of fun with small people with this activity!

Needless to say, remember not to leave a small child with items which are a choking hazard. 

Have fun, and please share if you do try it for yourself! 



TheJoyfulKeeper
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Friday, 6 June 2014

Blogging through the alphabet {Family, Friends, Fellowship, Faithfulness and Fires}

Ben and Me




This week has been, and will be, a full one. (Hence the quietness on the bloggy front....)

We have done school work, been to our homeschool co-op, and had my parents for a visit.

Or, as Abi said "When will Grandpa and Grandma be here for the sleepover"!!

I love it when they come to see us. They live about an hour and 45 minutes away, so not close enough for very frequent visits in either direction. We hadn't seen them since the New Year, so it was a joy to have them here. I had a couple of shopping trips out with my Mum, which was lovely. I was able to leave some children at home with Grandpa, AND I had Grandma to help ME! If you don't have children, you won't quite understand why that is meaningful. If you have lots of children, you WILL! Having lots of children is wonderful, but it does rather restrict you from having "normal" shopping trips.

Today, we had co-op.  The children learnt about different elements relating to the Great Fire of London. It's a fascinating event, and I learnt many new things in our lessons yesterday.

We had older children writing diary entries, like Samuel Pepys, we had everyone baking apple cakes, as a nod to the fire starting in a bakery, on Pudding Lane, and we had arts and crafts relating to period costume, and about the fire of London.

That was too fun NOT to share with you, so here it is..


Abi's



Elijah's



Simeon's




Susie's


My lovely SIL, Anna, led the activity, and the children had a lot of fun - and I spent a lot of time telling Simeon not to wear the paint! You begin by painting the paper like fire, then you cut out an outline of a skyline, on the black paper, and stick it over the painted page. Simple, but very effective!  I have to say, Anna also did a good job of teaching the children about the fire, because my 7 year old was busily telling me all about it on the way home!

I was responsible for teaching some scripture to the children, so I will share it with you, as it was interesting to make a connection between the Fire of London, and a Proverb!

I will begin by telling you how they managed to extinguish the Fire of London.  Due to the wooden houses being so close together, the fire had been spreading uncontrollably for 4 days. It was devised that if they set explosives and blew up a whole section of houses, the fire would lose its fuel source - the wooden houses, and could be stopped from progressing, before it got to the stockpile of explosives stored at at the tower of London. SO, that's what they did, and it worked! I didn't know that until the other night.  Then, I tried to finalise which verse to teach, searching the word "fire" and found THIS.


 "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth."
Proverbs 26:20 


Now, how perfect is THAT verse?? Did you even know it was in the Bible?  I didn't!

It illustrated an important truth, PERFECTLY.

I talked to the children about talebearing, and what it is. Not telling lies, as my children keep thinking it means, but spreading things about others, just to cause trouble. Telling me what another sibling has done, just knowing it will get them in trouble, and make themselves look better. It can also be further applied to spreading gossip, or telling people things it's not your place to tell them. Bearing a "tale".  We ALL fall prey to being unwise about how we use our words.  Just like the fire of London, if we are mean, and talebear about others - spreading word of another's failings or sins - telling people things it's not our place to tell them - spreading information for the wrong motives - it causes strife. We cause problems, feelings of sadness and contention, by unwisely passing word around that we have no place to share.

As I told the children, there ARE times when it's important to share information - if a child is doing something dangerous, hurtful, or damaging, I NEED to know about it, to deal with it. That's different. Also, similarly, as Christian adults, it's important to pass on certain information, if needed.  Calling out false teaching, speaking to another parent about a child who is being hurtful, or speaking privately to a person in authority about sinful practice you have found.

So many other things, however, are just people not thinking, before they speak. As James says, the tongue is like a little spark of fire, that can spread and cause a LOT of damage, if used unwisely.  I truly felt my own heart needed the teaching, as much as the children's did!

This weekend heralds my "friends and fellowship" part of "F".

It's our Annual Service of Thanksgiving, in our Church.  Rather than having a "Pastor's Anniversary", we turn the emphasis upon the Lord, and what He has done for us - giving Him thanks for another year of blessing and encouragement. God is good, and we have much to be thankful for in our small fellowship. We have people who work together, and who love the Lord.  They are such an encouragement, so often, to us.  We have seen growth and change, including a youth meeting which has been really well attended (in our small Church regard!).  God has kept us and blessed us as a family - we have had a new baby, and our children are all healthy and well.  We have an amazing home, and wonderful family and friends.

People will join together tomorrow, to thank the Lord for His goodness, and hear God's Word being preached. Our good friend, Oliver Baker, will be preaching Saturday, and Sunday. The bonus is that Robert is blessed, as he gets a Sunday with a break from preaching, and is taught, instead. Extra bonus - he often sits beside me, in the "pews", which is rare!

We have many friends coming and going through our home, over the weekend, which is also a joy. I will have 31 for lunch on Saturday! Fun times!

Now, I must go - I have baking to do for after tomorrow's service - hey, that's FOOD! Another "F"! Maybe I should get around to sharing some of my favourite recipes at some point?

I trust you all have a blessed weekend, and I will try and get some more posts out next week, subject to how busy I am having fellowship with visiting friends!