Friday, December 13, 2013

Homeschool Hebrew

I have four happy girls now that I've finally relented and let them learn Hebrew.  We have now firmly entered into the wacky camp of what makes no sense in homeschooling.  As most of you know, I'm a traditional homeschooler, checking all the boxes and making sure all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed.  It it's useful and practical, we study it.  While I love the Hebrew language and studied it many years ago, it hardly makes the most sense for girls with a Mandarin background living in a country that increasingly speaks Spanish.  But they have BEGGED me for quite some time, and Jenny finally made the plea that she wanted to read the Bible in Hebrew. (OT)  How could I say "no" to that?! :)

So I got out my dusty old books and flashcards and brushed up a bit on my own abilities.  Unfortunately, the pace of adult books doesn't quite fit for young children, so we're awaiting our children's books for reading and writing.  In the meantime, they're doing a pretty good job on print letters:

and have even learned a few words.  The "Hu is he," "He is she," and "Me is who," doesn't really seem to stump them, but it will be fun to see my English learners find out that "Dog is fish."  :)  Print is painful in Hebrew, and I can't wait to move on to cursive script which will be much easier for them.  Sarah writes her name in Hebrew on all her papers now and is quite proud of herself.   We'll see how long their interest lasts...



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thankfulness and Need

I love that Thanksgiving precedes Christmas as we take time to realize our blessings in a purposeful way.  Every year we make a "Thankful Tree," that we fill with leaves of written blessings.  It's hard to compare our Salvation to "sparkly clothes," but they're right there on the tree together.  Jesus is the author of all our blessings - a job, and education, a family - and even sparkly clothes. :)

Maybe it's all the cooking in the cool fall weather, but my girls seem to grow out of everything they own about this time.  So we've been shopping the sales for warm winter dresses, jackets, and shoes.  Thankfully, a good friend with good taste gives us bags of clothes every year, so we only have to buy what's missing. :) Grandma loves to come along as she knows our girls will always agree to join her for fast food.  (unlike Grandpa)

Our local shopping area is decorated with lights and is fun to walk around at night.  Big brothers join us  for pizza in between exams.  It's so fun to have the entire family together and hubby likes the male companionship. :)

We persuaded a policeman to take our picture together as someone is always missing from our pictures.

With all these blessings, it's easy to get lost in every day life and forget about so many who are missing the greatest gift of all - a family.   Much is made about medical and education opportunities, activities and material things for our children, but what all children really need is to know that they are loved and not forgotten.  That their hopes and dreams matter to someone.  That someone cares when they are challenged with homework, make the wrong choices, or get hurt on the playground.  That their shoes are too small.  That they are needed and wanted.

That without them, the crucial job of gravy making won't get done. :)

With the increase in older children on the waiting lists, the harsh reality of how many children age out each month hits home.  Our heart breaks for each and every one that we hear about - and there are many more whose names we never know.  But broken hearts aren't enough, and the magnitude of the problem calls for great prayer.  Prayer that God will raise up more willing hearts, that more resources will be available to those who are called to help, and that cultural conditions will improve so that families can stay together and continue to parent their children - both here and abroad.  That we would readjust our considerations of what is truly important and lean more on the provision of God rather than ourselves.  That we would have the heart of Christ and see as He sees.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fall Odds and Ends

Trying to homeschool four children on many different levels (due to English learning issues, etc.) has been a challenge.  The days slip by so that Saturday is here before we know it, and sometimes it feels like drinking out of a fire hose.  When everyone learns easily - the days are easy.  But when everyone struggles with a math concept - on the same day - it can be challenging and frustrating.  So I haven't had much time to blog as any downtime is spent on fun activities, cooking and cleaning, or just peaceful reading.  My morning time in the scriptures has become essential as it is a living Word - full of power - and the source for all my direction and energy.  So what have we been up to?

Ice Skating outside in SC was interesting:  the skates don't "cut" the Pam or whatever slick stuff is sprayed on the plastic surface of the ice rink - so I counted myself blessed that we only had one bruised tailbone when we left.  Disney Princesses was fun only because Sarah and Jenny were in awe of their first "show" - as they likely will be when we attend our first ballets in the coming weeks.

We spent quite a bit of time at the beach in the afternoons this fall.  When school is in and the tourists depart, we have it almost all to ourselves.  It's peaceful and restful - once you're packed and on your way - and a great way to end a busy school day.

We've had plenty of fun homeschool projects which requires constant shopping lists and running to the store for components to make things like earthquake proof structures above and edible cells below.

The writers of our curriculum clearly favor sweets - and we create our own additions such as gummy worms to the edible pudding and cookie soil below.

Katie had a birthday and Jenny showed how creative she's become by "exercising her imagination" - something we learned from Ben Carson's biographical movie, Gifted Hands.  It took me a moment, but if you look at the gift she made, you'll see it's George Washington (on a dollar bill) sailing the Delaware in his (origami) boat.  This is the same child who had zero imagination when she came home.

So she WAS paying attention in US History.... :)

The highlight of our fall was when Sarah decided to make Jesus the Lord of her life.  For those who know this little powerhouse of a girl,  this is not an easy thing.  She is confident, strong, capable, and bright - and not often in need of a Savior from anything.  But God clearly grabbed her attention and drew her to Him - and she asked to pray with me in tears one day.  I thank God for our Bible lessons (from BJU Press) that help me to disciple my children in a consistent way.

There have been some frustrations along the way this year - trying to address everyone's immediate academic needs on a daily basis - and I am trusting that God will give me the strength and wisdom I need to meet them.  But seeing my children grow in their knowledge of Christ and His Word is a blessing that can't be measured.  Providing them with stories of beauty and sacrifice in the lives of such as Eric Liddel, Mary Slessor, C.T. Studd, David Livingstone and more is worth the momentary struggles with long division or percentages.

Our prayer is that we will learn to live a life that abandons self and looks to the needs of others - near and far.  Not an easy thing to accomplish in our very materialistic, "busy," and self centered culture.  God is faithful to work in our lives and change us into His image when we seek him - we are counting on that.



And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Favorite Summer Reading

We’ve found so many wonderful books this summer and thought we’d share with anyone interested.   We read many books with character building themes, but also some books with foreign cultural context – giving our girls a peek into the lives of children around the world – both modern and historical.  Some are just silly – while others address weightier issues.  We found books suitable for ESOL readers - more mature themes with an easy reading level.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Read alouds for 2nd -6th graders:

The Year of Miss Agnes: The story of a dedicated Alaskan teacher and her students.

Yang the Youngest and his Terrible Ear: The story of a Chinese family of musicians whose youngest boy would rather play baseball, and his best friend who would rather play the violin.  A terrific story for anyone who ever had unique interests within their family.

Caddie Woodlawn:  Hilarious stories of a family in early America. Most memorable line:  “Obadiah Jones had met his Waterloo,” when a new teacher comes to town!

The Little Princess:  Great story/movie about a girl who wonders if she’d still be a nice girl without her wealth.

Esperanza Rising:  The story of a wealthy Mexican girl who loses her father and riches and travels to the United States for a new life.  A sober look at the migrant worker’s living conditions.  I used the audio book as it was rather long.

The YWAM missionary biographies – BUY THE ENTIRE SET!!!  We read Amy Carmichael and Hudson Taylor.  Life changing stories!

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (book):  picture book of Vivaldi’s work with orphans – includes a Cd.

ANY of the Journeyforth books found on the BJU Press Website.  There are so many and they are all excellent.  My kids’ all time favorites are the books of the Arby Jenkins series.  These are rarely found in libraries – but are a worthwhile investment – especially for boys.

Emerging readers:
Mercy Watson series:  SILLY early reading books for emerging readers -1st grade-2nd

Lady Lollipop/Clever Lollipop:  the story of how a clever pig is able to reform a spoiled princess. 

Kelsey Green the Reading Queen:  Super reader Kelsey Green learns some character lessons during a reading contest.

Reggie:  Story of a boy who finds a cool mouse toy attached to a balloon and his struggle with conscience to return it to its owner.

Series:  Cam Jansen, Clementine, and Ivy Bean.

Younger readers: 7-10
The Year of the Panda:

The story of a boy and his father who care for an orphaned Panda.

Yang the Third Youngest and Her Impossible Family:  Another story about the Yang family and cultural challenges for new immigrants.

White Fur Flying:  The story of a family who rescues dogs and helps heal the heart of a troubled boy.

The Trailblazer series:  Young reader missionary bios written within a fictional context.  Exciting and fun!  Hard to find – and cheapest via kindle. ALL my kids like these.  Their favorites so far:  The Hidden Jewel, Flight of the Fugitives, Imprisoned in the Golden City.

Lumber Camp Library:  Great historical fiction for young readers.  Ruby learns to read and in turn teaches the lumberjacks.

Series: The Boxcar Children

Older Elementary

The House of Sixty Fathers:  I loved this story about a young Chinese boy and his pet pig during the Japanese invasion of China in WWII.  After his family narrowly escapes from their village, he is accidentally swept back down the river into Japanese held territory.  He must evade the soldiers on his way back - along with hungry inhabitants who want his pig.  He helps an American airman, wounded during a plane crash, and the two travel dangerously together.  Thrilling story!

Black Beauty:  the Classic

Series: The Penderwicks

Middle School (or good readers)

Daughter of a Thousand Pieces of Gold:  The story of a young Chinese girl whose family dies in a flood and her journey through mistreatment by a village enemy, the orphanage, and eventually to a new family through adoption.  My 5th grader enjoyed this.

A Single Shard:  I loved this story!  The life of an orphaned Korean boy who is cared for by crippled “Crane Man” under a bridge.  It tells how the boy meets disaster, makes restitution, and learns the value of integrity along the way.

Homeless Bird:  Story of a Brahmin girl who is married off at 13 years old to a dying boy.  She becomes an early widow and finds herself on her own in the city where widows are taken to for abandonment.  Chance meetings give this story a better ending than the reality for most – a gentle look for middle school girls.

Red Scarf Girl:  True story of a young Chinese girl who weathers the difficult times of the Cultural Revolution in China.  Must read for all.

Mary, Bloody Mary(Carolyn Meyers):  Engaging story of Queen Mary’s childhood and subsequent rise to the throne.  My middle schooler is currently engrossed by this story and can’t wait to read the rest of Carolyn Meyers’ books.  This child typically avoids historical fiction!

And our favorite Middle School Classics:
Tom Sawyer
Oliver Twist
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Journey to the Center of the Earth
The Hobbit
C.T. Studd (YWAM series)
Lottie Moon (YWAM series)

Best wishes for good reading! 



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Persian "Golf" and more Maine Adventures...

There are many misunderstandings with kids who are new to a language - especially in subjects like history where new words are many.   I often explain new concepts like "irrigation" and "civilization," but somehow missed the chance to explain what a "gulf" was.  So when studying the geography of the Middle East, Sarah naturally thought I was pointing out the place that Abraham and the rest of the Sumerians played GOLF!  Hence her scrapbook page for today's lesson on the Fertile Crescent.  This one's a keeper...

We've started doing a little bit of school here in Maine, but will start the bulk of it when we return to SC.  There are unique opportunities for learning up north - things we don't typically hear about at home.  Recently we went to a library presentation on North American bears.  This shows the size of a Brown Bear compared to a boy.

 The presentation was very "hands on." The kids got to assemble a real bear skeleton - each group doing a portion.  It was very clever!

 Here is the proud crew in front of the reassembled bear.  We've also had time to see agriculture in action - our local blueberry and raspberry farm has been very helpful.

We learned about and rode in a Model A Ford at the Baptist Church Raspberry Festival

And we haven't neglected the Arts!  The girls have been to two plays with Nana - "Mary Poppins," and "The Velveteen Rabbit" were terrific, and the girls posed with the actors and got their autographs. :)

We've had a wonderful time starting school as the weather grows cooler.  The girls still ski and tube, but it's a little too cold for mom - even with a wetsuit.  Maybe I can get up the courage - but I'm a Carolina girl at heart.  I can't wait to post about our summer reading and some of the wonderful books we've discovered at our little Maine library.  There are so many interesting books to go with our study of World History and Geography this year!  

It's still warm enough for soft serve at Fast Eddies - and we're enjoying our Tubby's Ice Cream as well.   We're having a wonderful summer and resting in the slower pace of a small town.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Skiing and Tubing on the Lake

We had a ball with 12 kiddos out on the lake today. It takes a LOT of equipment to get that many kids kayaking, skiing, tubing, and swimming!

Thankfully, my neighbors share!  We've had two boats and 3 families worth of gear going back and forth - and everyone has fulfilled their "need for speed" this week. :)  First we had the skiers - Mom (me) and Rachel went up together for the first time and we had so much fun!  At 50 years old,  I can still get up on one ski - woohoo!  I have to beat my neighbor Jean's record of doing it at 62 years old - so I've got a ways to go. :)  Next, Webb and Rachel skied together - too cute!

After a small fall, Rachel was back in the game.  They had a spectacular wipeout together at the dock - wish I'd had the camera ready!

Jenny and Katie tried again - but they're not quite strong enough yet.  Both of them and Sarah did 100 situps and 15 pushups in an effort to build strength afterwards - these girls want to ski!

Next came the tubers as the lake became a little rough for skiing later in the day.  First up: Webb, Rachel, Jenny, and Harris - and they had a WILD ride on a rough lake.

Next up: Scott, Sarah Kelly, "Hotdog" Katie, and Drew:

What fun!  The wind picked up and the weather was gorgeous.  Sarah Kelly and Rachel found the perfect spots to read.  More on what we've been reading in a future post!

It just doesn't get any better than this.  Except that we're hitting the China Buffet - perfect end to a strenuous and fun day. :)

***REALITY CHECK**  ~ Kids clogged and overflowed the toilet just before we left for the buffet - we're cleaning up and then eating PB&J's instead. :(  We live in a fallen world....hope the toilets don't clog in heaven.

Blessings, Kim

“It is His joy that remains in us that makes our joy full.” ~ A. B. Simpson