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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thanksgiving and Christmas Preparation

I had to get this in before Christmas Day! I have been distracted from my normal duties by a book called Everyday Justice. Not all of the book is totally convincing, but it has launched me into researching how my everyday choices about what and where I buy have impacts on people and the world. Of course, this generality does not sound like a huge revelation, but to sum it up, I didn't realize that many corporate businesses whose products I purchase fail to put forth an effort to assure that their supply chain is free from slavery and child labor. In fact, many when asked about slave and child labor and unfair wages, claim that it is not their responsibility to prevent it or say that it is impossible to regulate because of the way they contract. For example, if I buy chocolate, it is nearly guaranteed some portion of it was grown and harvested by slaves, yet these companies have responded with apathy, token efforts, or have not implemented change in a way that addresses the urgency of the situation. The same can be said of many coffee brands. For a quick read click here. Anyway, I have found this a little shocking and am definitely on a path to different choices. SO, back to Thanksgiving, when I was slightly more naive and innocent...

Making Mr. Eggplant, a Tinsley Thanksgiving tradition...not sure how it got started or why.

Their wagon got filled with produce. It's kind of like a Cornucopia-concept I guess.

I would have put a picture of the meal and family, but I think everyone will thank me for not. Meal pictures always come out strange. I always wonder if I really look that weird eating my food, or is it just the split second that the picture is taken. (I don't really want to know, btw, so don't inform me).

Having a great time with cousin Benjamin. They are only months apart, and each time we get together is more fun than the last.

Playing in the leaves with Grandmama.

After meal soccer game.

Guess the kids didn't get enough to eat at the Thanksgiving meal.

Then we had a big bonfire. Here is the pile before they set it on fire.

The inferno. I have to laugh though, because, Alden and Rhianwen are looking at a picture of the fire on Grandaddy's camera. Do your kids do that? Miss life because they want to see the picture.

Wally, Rhianwen, Alden, Grandaddy and Grandmama all camped out in the backyard in very cold weather. Corwin and Benjamin had a blast playing in the tents beforehand.

Grandmama made "hobos" but not in the fire. We also were glad to spend lots of time with cousin Virginia!

Then it was "Christmas-time" since we'll be at my parents, we let the kids open gifts from Wally's parents so they could see them do it.

Rhianwen looooves her new nightgown and so does Marie-Grace.

The most exciting part of the whole trip was getting to see my new baby niece. (I hope it's ok to post this pic, if not, someone please tell me.) She is just SO precious. Sadly, we couldn't spend much time b/c the boys had nasty colds, so they have yet to meet her.

Then it was back home with a pit-stop for a Christmas tree on the way. (I do want to say to the Filbert people, we miss and love you and aren't shunning you by leaving on Saturdays. We just SO benefit from fully resting on Sunday instead of driving!).

Helping Wally.

Sadly, the tractor pulling the train was not working, so this is just a photo-op.

Finally, back to Christmas reading! One of my favorite quotes is from A Christmas Carol by Dickens: "unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty children conducting themselves as one, but every child was conducting itself like forty". Yes, sounds like my house exactly.

Now, I just proved myself wrong. As seems to be the case for whoever is the youngest child, Corwin's favorite thing was unwrapping all of the ornaments and discovering what each was.

Just look at that branch. 

  Ta da! So many special ornaments from Wally's childhood, mine, and, now, the children's. 

My favorite Christmas tradition, the advent tree. Each day focuses on prophecy or the fufulfillment of Scripture surrounding the birth of Christ, the Messiah, the Rescuer.

Continuing a Sunday nap. They got up from bed, sat in the recliner, and went back to sleep. 

Now, back to finding out what my role is in doing justly and loving mercy as a consumer.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Squinto and the Fight of the Coats

I think this blog is just going to be a hodge-podge of things. Maybe I should call them vignettes and sound witty and arty while at the same time justifying my lack of organization.
I find it so amazing how excited our kids are to pack an Operation Christmas Child box. Even Corwin seemed to understand that these special toys and candies were for another little boy like him. He cheerfully stuffed his box with satisfaction and later carried it to church where he just as enthusiastically threw it into the bin with a big bang. Thankfully there's nothing too fragile in there, although the little on may find his lollipops a bit broken up.

Digging out our "Happy-lantern" as an object lesson to remind us of how our hearts are full of sin that Jesus takes away and replaces with His light.

Corwee has a spinning good time on the "sit-n-spin".

For Thanksgiving we love making "Thankful Tom" and writing on his feathers for what we are thankful each meal. It's wonderful practice for the kids to think outside of the box after they have said the 2 or 3 normal things that they always say. And I love it because, thankfulness becomes bigger when you share it with others.
The kids colored and decorated Thankful Tom. Wally said it looked more like a duck. 

Corwin's favorite: googly eyes. 

More like a disheveled peacock? 

Alden getting creative with the pop beads. He made a car all on his own. I think this is genius, but I'm probably biased. He had to find appropriate pieces for his creation out of something like 300 beads.

In case you thought he wasn't in touch with the feminine arts, he helped Rhianwen beautify her My Little Ponies.

Here he has made a fantastic lego sword. He's getting a kick out of using all of the little cubes he can find to make things. 

Corwin is now in a big-boy bed. He was so excited! He absolutely loves it. At first he didn't want a pillow, but he soon decided to give it a try. I am so thankful for the way he understands what is expected and wants to do it (mostly), the blessings of 2 older siblings I suppose.

With his 2 older siblings playing dress-up. Corwin can put on lots of things on his own. In fact, he can take off lots of things on his own. We get him all geared up to go outside in the cold only to find him half-naked 15 minutes later with his coat and shirt around his waist or, my favorite, I'll hear the door open and shut, walk over to see what it was and find his coat carefully deposited on the floor while he is back out playing.

We decided maybe a duel would make him more submissive, but no. (Just kidding).

In homeschooling news, Alden is reading sentences! He's pretty much amazed me at how quickly he's picked it up. We aren't very far along, but the stuff he does know, he does pretty smoothly. He doesn't seem to throw up mind-blocks like Rhianwen did at that age. I guess he was just ready!

We had a fun unit studying the planets. Any way that I can involve food with the study gets my kids excited, so we made pizza planets to scale.

Here are the beginnings of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.

Jupiter and beginning work on Saturn.

Eating Uranus and Neptune. Now we only have 11 (or 6 depending on if you count the dwarf ones or not) planets in our solar system. Oh wait, we ate them all. Oops.

People ask me how it's going, how long we spend. I've found that homeschooling for us doesn't necessarily fit in a neat little time-slot, and that's the beauty of it. I think any mommy could tell you that their child learns things all of the time without much of her effort and without the child always being aware. So, I can put all kinds of things we've done in my lesson plans even after the fact and call it "school" when really, it's just living life and learning together. Anyway, I do get the necessaries done in the early morning (the more traditional Bible, Math, Reading, Writing, Science). Art, craft, language arts etc. all fall into the science curriculum that we are using. Since it is Kindergarten, history and geography etc. get highlights within the other subjects or when we focus on special holidays. Story-time/read-aloud to them I include on my plan, but to them it is just story-time, the same as we've always done. Then, if we don't have places to go and people to see after rest time, Rhianwen does Spanish, and we do Artist study, Composer study, or a Nature walk. And, as you can see, the pizza planets were made at dinner.

I also am asked what Corwee does during this time. Sometimes he wreaks havoc to our efforts, sometimes he joins in on the activity constructively, sometimes he plays on his own, or comes and sits and plays with me while the kids work, or if I am giving individual instruction to one child, that means Corwin can play with the other child as long as their work is complete. It hasn't been as difficult as I expected (for the most part). Yes there are days when I think I'm going to go insane by 9:30, but we just try to do things a little faster and spend more time at "recess" (called that b/c Rhianwen really wanted recess as a part of school) or have an early lunch.

Buttermilk biscuits here we come. We had a great time making our own butter and buttermilk when we learned about Pilgrim life for Thanksgiving. Ok, I'll admit it, I'm the one who loves food ;0) Funny aside, Rhianwen called Squanto, "Squinto". Thankfully she's got it right now.

And because I don't always keep on top of the laundry:

At the end of the day, the laundry's not done, and the kids are crazy, but it is worth the relational building they get to each other, to me, to the Lord, and to others. Many people wonder about socialization, but studies have found that homeschooled children have a clearer identity of self than children who attend school with their peers. I'm NOT saying that everyone should do what I'm doing, but only that homeschooled children have a full view of their world and their place in it. I just love how there are so many opportunities for the children to interact with people of all ages and levels and abilities and to interact with many concepts. They have a more natural context for discovery. It's not a weakness.

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