Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Busy, busy, busy

It's been a ghost town here at Holland Happenings! We are fully in the swing of the 2013-2014 school year and we are staying busy! We are already 13 weeks into our school year! It's flying this year. Everyone is doing well with their school and so far attitudes have been great too! Jonathan has finished a full phonics program and has now moved on to emerging readers and I'm so happy with his progress. He has struggled a great deal with learning how to read which is completely unlike my first two boys. Jonathan and I both have had a learning curve with this reading thing!  
She can make me crazier than all three boys put together  - and yet she can have me laughing and crying tears of joy within 10 seconds. This girls is a truly a bundle of joy. She can hold her own with the boys and can play soldier games like none other - but she is as girly as they come and tenderhearted to boot. She is quick to challenge me when she doesn't what to do what I ask, but is just as quick to say how sorry she is for how she acted. I'm so blessed that she is mine.

This is a normal day at my house, folks.

I'm so thankful. 

This is just a bonus picture...because she's just so darn cute.

We've had a busy couple of months. School is intense this year in the amount of time required of me. It's good, though. It's so very good. I do have days that I wish that I did not have to teach - and we have plenty of days when attitudes are not the best. I struggle with my own attitude on days like that and I have urges to chase the school bus down, so that someone else can assign them their dreaded work. All that said - when my attitude is as it should be - I am always so grateful that my children are at home with me.  They are the blessings ... I am the blessed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Martin's first deer

(Written by Rich)
Martin has gone with me on several deer hunting trips over the past three seasons. This year, for  his 11th birthday, I got him a Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic Youth model in 7mm-08. I put a Redfield scope on it, and we made several trips to the range over the summer.

Martin is a very good shot. He is patient, takes his time, and only pulls the trigger when the sights are on target (exactly on target). Our last trip to the range was this past Tuesday, and his final three-shot group of the night at 100 yards could be covered with a nickel.

Rifle season opened today, and since I wasn't sure of the weather (the forecast had changed several times over the past 48 hours, but it looked like it might rain), I picked a box stand we have in the woods on one of the properties we hunt. The stand sits along what used to be a logging road, but is no longer used for vehicle traffic. The area is covered with tall grass, and sits just about 40 yards from a creek where the deer are known to bed and travel. The deer often pass by the stand as they are coming and going from their home base to other parts of the property.

Sunrise was at 7:16, which meant legal shooting hours started at 6:46. We got up early, ate breakfast in the truck during the 40 minute ride to the property. Once we got there, we parked about a half mile from the stand and walked in. By the time we were settled in the stand, it was 6:00.

About 6:30 it started getting light enough to see, so I was busy looking around for deer. Last year I caught a buck at about that same time coming up out of the creek, so I expected to see deer moving before it was legal to shoot. All of a sudden, I hear very heavy breathing coming from about 2 feet away. I looked over, and Martin was leaning back against the wall of the stand, head tilted back and mouth wide open - sound asleep. I poked my finger into his chest (which startled him a bit), and said, "What are you doing?" 
"I'm very tired," he said. 
I said, "Do you want to go home and sleep?" 

By 7:15 I was starting to think that we wouldn't see anything this morning, and that we were likely in for a long day. But just as soon as I had that thought, I heard a rifle shot from the neighbor's property. That told me that the deer were on their feet moving around.

At about 7:30 I was staring intently down the lane where I expected the deer to come out. I happened to glance over to a different spot, and there were two deer there! It is a narrow lane only about 60 yards long, with woods all around it. The stand was the only thing in between the deer and the creek bed where they were surely headed. I didn't know it, but earlier in the week, one of the other guys put a bunch of corn out in that spot, and the two young bucks had stopped for a quick snack.

I said to Martin, "There are some deer right there." The once dreary-eyed, barely awake boy jumped to life. "Where?!?" He could barely contain himself.

He stood up and got the rifle ready. We had spent enough time at the range, and talking about it, that I didn't need to worry about the gun. I knew that he knew what to do. So, I was able to concentrate on the deer.

He was so excited that he literally could not stand still and could not hold the rifle still. I made him slow down and calm down. I kept making him take deep breaths to relax. He was so excited, and at one point he said, "Daddy, can you please help me stand still?"

The coolest part about it before he took the shot was that the two bucks started sparring with one another. One pawed at the ground ... the other approached with his head down. They locked antlers and pushed each other around just a bit. This was obviously just "practice," but it was really neat to watch.

Martin managed to calm down enough to be looking through the scope and talking about which one he was going to shoot. Several minutes went by, and I kept saying, "Whenever you are ready and comfortable with the shot, go ahead and take it." I said it several times.

As the deer turned, moved, and shifted position, Martin knew that he had to wait for a good broadside shot. One of them moved close to the woods and was not really in a good spot any more, so that narrowed things down real quick. Martin took aim at the remaining buck and was getting ready. The safety clicked off, and the buck began to walk toward the woods. I thought we were going to miss our chance. I said, "Martin, it has to be now."

I let out a short, sharp bleat, trying to get the buck to stop ... and it worked. He picked his head right up, looked our way, and stood perfectly still.

I said, "Right now, Martin."


The buck arched his back, jumped straight up, kicked his legs out behind him, and disappeared into the woods.

Martin looked at me with the widest eyes I have ever seen! He could barely contain himself, and if I hadn't stopped him, he would have jumped down from the stand and ran over to that spot right then.

I was a little concerned, because I couldn't tell where the deer was hit. By his reaction, I suspected it was good, but because I wasn't sure, we sat still and quiet for several minutes. It was dead quiet, and after not too long, I couldn't contain myself, so we climbed down.

We crept quietly the 60 yards or so until we got to the spot where he was standing when Martin took the shot. I was really nervous, because I didn't see any blood at all. But I did see a very clear path into the woods that the buck surely ran down. If the buck was just wounded, I didn't want to go after him too soon and end up losing him. I told Martin to stand still, and I headed down the path just to see what I could see.

I didn't take three steps before I saw him laying there! He didn't make it 25 yards, and by then, I could see a good blood trail that we could have followed, if it had been necessary.

I was so relieved! I said, "Martin, there he is!" And the celebration began. There were hugs, shouts, and high-fives aplenty; and I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a tear or two.

It turns out that Martin had made a perfect shot ... right in the lower 1/3 of the chest, just behind the front leg. (You can barely see it in the picture, below.)

We had planned on hunting all day, but since the primary objective had been accomplished, we stopped at a local diner for breakfast and headed home.

Later on, Martin was talking about the experience with his two younger brothers. At one point, Aaron said, "Martin, you look taller."

I think he is.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"little" moments

My sweet girl feel asleep on the way to the restaurant on my birthday. She stayed asleep when Rich pulled her out of her carseat. She's getting so big. We cherish the times when she falls asleep like this - it's a "little" moment. She is growing up so quickly! We are so blessed by her sweet and happy spirit!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Treasured Friends

We have lived in North Carolina for over 10 years now. It's hard to believe it's been that long. We all love it here and can't imagine living anywhere else. We love our home, our yard, our neighborhood, our church, and our friends. One of the main ministries of our church is the Small Group Ministry. It took us a while, but we found a small group within our church that has been an excellent fit for Rich and myself, but also for our children. Once a week, we gather with our small group, share a meal at a home of one of the families, study our Bibles, have accountability, and prayer. Our children experience community and fellowship with the other children in the group. 
The idea behind the small group ministry is to "do life" with  your small group. On this particular day, we all gathered together on Labor Day and went swimming and cooked out. It can take a long time to develop relationships within the church. It requires a commitment to seek out those relationships and time to develop them to the point at which it's comfortable to seek out prayer and counsel for whatever it is that is going on in your everyday life. 

We are so thankful for our small group. We love the people in our small group and are continually blessed by them as we share our lives with them. Our entire family looks forward to going to small group each week. Years ago, after we were first married we were a part of a small group ministry and  Rich began a small group ministry at the church that he pastored. We have missed this ministry so much over the years! Our children are blessed by the friendships they are forming. 

I am not only thankful for the relationships that I see my children forming  - both within our church at large - and with the other people (both young and old) in our small group, but I am also thankful for the women in the small group who have become my dear friends. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Aaron's Baptism

We gathered as a church at Falls Lake to worship the Lord through song, prayer, and baptism. It was a beautiful day! Aaron prayed to receive Jesus as his savior about two years ago, and it has been an on-going conversation since then. He has been asking and desiring to be baptized for the past year. He wrote down his testimony of faith and trust in Jesus and why he wanted to be baptized. He bravely got up in front of a large crowd from our church that had gathered together and he read what he had written down. Rich also spoke to the church about Aaron's journey in coming to know and trust in Christ as his Savior. 

My heart was already overflowing to hear my child child publicly profess his faith in Jesus! Then our church family walked to the waters of Falls lake and gathered on the shore to witness Rich baptize our son Aaron. 

It was a glorious moment to observe the symbolism of being buried in baptism and raised to new life in Christ. We have great hope in Christ!

Our family and church family rejoice with Aaron on his new found life in Christ. God is good and greatly to be praised!

Hands on Learning

Aaron is reading about the Desert in Science, and he came up with this fabulous version of a cactus! I was so impressed with it. He used air dry clay and tooth picks. 

In History, Aaron is learning about Egyptian hieroglyphics.  He used air dry clay to carve his own hieroglyphic. Aaron is a very independent student. He reads through his curriculum guide and easily follows the instructions and often has the projects done before I can even explain them to him. His independence is an enormous blessing to me since I have the younger two that need a great deal more attention from me.
He loves 4th grade. So far he is enjoying the content a great deal more than what we did last year in  3rd grade. I am so happy about that because it causes him to have a much better attitude!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Curriculum Choices for 1st grade and Pre-K

I have thrown Rosalie into our crazy homeschooling schedule this year for several reasons. First, she is able to identify all of the letters both capital and lowercase, she is able to write most of them, and she is so enthusiastic about being a student in the Holland School! Secondly, it's easier for me to include her than to hold her off for one more year. Thirdly, by starting her now, I am able to combine her with Jonathan on History, Bible, Science, and other activities making it easier for me to implement our family schedule. So, we are calling it Pre-K and getting this show on the road. If at any point she shows signs of not being able to keep up with the work, we will slow it way down and re-evaluate. She will be doing the orange Handwriting Without Tears workbook, Singapore earlybird Mathematics, and a couple of Rod and Staff workbooks that will help her with her fine motor skills. (tracing, cutting, pasting, etc.)

Jonathan will be doing the yellow Handwriting Without Tears workbook,  Singapore Primary Mathematics Textbooks and Workbooks 1A and 1B, and a couple of Rod and Staff workbooks that will continue to work on his fine motor skills.

I am using the Heart of Dakota's Little Hearts for His Glory curriculum guide this year with both Jonathan and Rosalie. So, they are combined on all the history, science, Bible, and read a-louds. However, as you saw above, they have different levels of handwriting, reading, and math.  
History -
History for Little Pilgrims, 101 Favorite Bible Stories, History Stories for Children
Science - The World God Made
Bible - The children work on a memory verse each week and have Devotions scheduled throughout the week using Devotions for the Children's Hour
Reading - The Reading Lesson pictured above is the reading curriculum that they are both using, however Jonathan is almost finished with the book while Rosalie is just starting. Once Jonathan finishes The Reading Lesson he will begin reading a large set of emerging readers so that he can continue to practice his reading skills. I did not take a picture of those readers. Even though he hasn't finished The Reading Lesson, he has already started reading the first book in the Emerging Readers set. You may have noticed that the Heart of Dakota Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory is also pictured above. I am using that guide to follow the hands on math plans, the light grammar plans, and the spelling plans with Jonathan. As much as he has struggled in learning how to read, I am surprised at how much he LOVES spelling!

My highest priority for Kindergarten and 1st grade is not reading, writing, or math, it is teaching the children how to listen well to read a-louds, and be able to retell/narrate back to me what they heard. This is a pretty difficult skill to learn! Rosalie is not getting the gentle introduction to it that the others got since I have combined her with Jonathan, however, she is getting the idea from listening to Jonathan retell the readings back to me. She is going to learn a lot from him this year. She is already a pretty good listener and probably doesn't need as gentle an introduction to it that Jonathan needed. I started slowly with Jonathan using books that were smaller and had pictures, and eventually ended the year reading chapter books to him ... and he was able to narrate back to me in excellent detail. I love having the two of them together this year. They are already used to doing everything together anyway that it seems perfectly natural for them to do school together too.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Curriculum Choices for 4th grade

I am finally ready to start posting about curriculum choices for the 2013-2014 school year! I am going to start with the choices that I made for Aaron's 4th grade year. First, I use Heart of Dakota. Within Heart of Dakota, there are lots of choices that we can make to tailor it to each specific child's needs. The Basics are as follows:
Math:  Singapore Math 4A and 4B
English: Rod and Staff Grammar English 4, Building With Diligence
Dictation: Level 4
Poetry/Creative Writing: Poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson with Creative Writing Assignments once each week that correspond to the poem of the week.
Commonplace Book: This is a composition book in which he copies scriptures, quotes, and poetry

This is a daily schedule checklist that we follow each day. It's nice to be able to check things off as we go.

In the appendix of each Heart of Dakota guide is several levels of dictation. I copied Level 4 and put the pages in page protectors and placed them in his basics binder for easier access.

Another very talented Heart of Dakota Mom made some wonderful poetry notebooking pages that have each of the creative writing assignments included as well as the poems. It is so convenient! I printed the file out and put them in his basics notebook for easy access.

Vocabulary:  Another HOD Mom made these wonderful vocabulary sheets and I printed a bunch of them out and he has Vocabulary that words that he has to look up, define, write a synonym and antonym, write a sentence using the word, and draw a picture. He does vocabulary once each week and the words are almost always words from his History readings.

Bible: We will be studying and memorizing several passages from the book of Psalms this year. I was also able to print these wonderful Bible cards that another Mom provided, so that he can easily study the scripture and memorize them each week.

Science: One Small Square: Arctic Tundra, One Small Square: Cactus Desert, The Great Dinosaur Mystery, Find the Constellations, One Small Square: Coral Reef, Columbus, Leonardo da Vinci, Pasteur's Fight Against Microbes, and Albert Einstein
Science is completely independent this year. He reads a specific portion from one of his books, and then has a notebooking assignment, an experiement, or an oral narration that he has to complete. Again, I was able to download some wonderful notebooking pages that another HOD Mom put together and provided for other Mom's. This year I printed them on card stock and we are so happy with how they turned out! A couple of the pages are pictured below:

In the above picture, is the Preparing Hearts for His Gory guide book, and the History Spine. This curriculum is biblically centered and history based. Even the Science corresponds well with what we are doing with History. The history books we will read together this year are:
A Child's History of the World, Life in the Great Ice Age, Hero Tales, and Grandpa's Box
I prefer to wait until around the 4th grade to study Ancient History because of the difficult topics that come with early civilization. I absolutely loved reading these books with Martin and am already enjoying it again with Aaron. Along with reading about History, Aaron has history notebooking assignments, oral narration, projects, and written narration.

Independent History: This is new this year. The books above are more books about history that will enhance and dig a little deeper than his main history spine. He reads all of these books independently and completes notebooking assignments along with reading them.

You thought we were done with history?? Not quite! These are the History read a-loud storytime titles. We will read some of these together and he will read some of these independently. They are meant to be read aloud - and I will try to do that, but it depends on the time. The books in this set are meant to bring each of the time periods that we study - alive. They are mostly composed of historical fiction books. So, the reader gains an excellent idea of what was going on during that time period - but the actual story is fiction. They are all excellent books!

Music:  For music this year, Aaron will be learning the Clarinet. I started teaching him a few weeks ago and he has already taken off with it. It seems to come very easily to him. He will be taking beginner band twice a week with CCHbands.

The curriculum guide is written to complete 5 days worth of work in 4 days keeping the 5th day open for co-ops, appointments, and field trips. So far, Aaron has been getting all of his work done within the 4 days. However, we always have the option of finishing any work that we don't get done on the 5th day.

I have been using Heart of Dakota for 4 years now and I love it more every year.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Age Appropriate Chores

One of the reasons that our last school year was hard for me - was  because I was so overwhelmed with the insurmountable to do list that I had each and every day. So many of my hours each day are spent schooling the children. Now that all of them are doing school, I spend a dedicated 5 hours of school each day, going back and forth between the 4 children. So, I developed a chore chart with age appropriate chores for each child. I put the chore chart in a clear dry eraser folder, so that after the children complete the chore they can check it off the list.

They all seem to be a little like me in that they enjoy checking things off the list.
It has already made a huge difference in how our day goes. I don't feel as rushed to get everything done nor do I feel as tired. The children are learning important life skills and responsibility. Win-Win.  So far, they are all responding well to the new responsibility - even though the list may seem extensive the chores are spread out throughout the entire weeks, so it never takes them very long to complete each task. With 4 people helping out around the house it sure does make my day easier!

They have a list of chores to complete each day with some of those repeating and others are once or twice a week type chores.

The age appropriate chores are as follows:

Rosalie - (4 years)  make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, brush hair, clean room, clear table after supper, clean table, set table, clean under bed, tidy up the shoe shelf in the garage, clean baseboards

Jonathan - (6 years) - make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, sweep floor in kitchen and living room, unload dishwasher, clean baseboards, put laundry away, set table, collect and empty trash cans on trash day, clear table

Aaron - (8 years) make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, clean the trash can, load dishes in dishwasher after lunch, load dishes in dishwasher after supper, unload dishwasher, wipe down toilets, wipe down bathroom counters, collect and organize recycle bin and take to the curb on trash day, laundry - wash Rosalie's and his clothes, put them in dryer, fold, and put away, dust end tables and piano, vacuum as needed

Martin - (11 years) - make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, unload dishwasher, wipe down toilets, wipe down counters in bathrooms, check trash daily and take out as needed, mop floor, load lunch and supper dishes in the dishwasher, laundry - (his and Jonathan's) wash, dry, fold, and put away, vacuum the living room rug, vacuum the couch and under the couch, vacuum the stairs, vacuum other carpeted rooms,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jonathan - August 2013

What can I possibly say about this kid that could even come close to describing him accurately?
He's strong willed
Must be in control
Longs to be in charge
Understands on a deep level that he has parameters and that he must obey
But struggles on a deep level with not being in charge of those parameters

He is the child that I will put in time out and tell him that his time out does not start until he stops crying. He understands that completely, but doesn't want to stop crying because I suggested it and he wants to be in charge of when he stops crying. He finally stops crying. I tell him time out is beginning now. I let a few minutes go by and tell him that he can get out of time out. He stays in time out. Why? Because he wants to be in charge of when he gets out of time out. He wants that to be his decision.I love this boy to the moon and back. He has so much spirit. He has some amazing God given, very natural leadership skills that I pray will be used for His glory. I pray that Jonathan will devote his life to following after the Lord as fervently as he plays his soldier games right now. As long as Jonathan will submit to God's leadership, I believe that Jonathan will one day get to be that leader that he longs to be... one day he will get to be in charge like he wants to be. I tell him all the time that in order for him to be an excellent leader then he needs to learn how to be an excellent follower. 

I have to share some pictures that I took of my Jonathan that so perfectly captures what I tried to describe above:

I don't want to have my picture taken!

Come on Jonathan, just smile so we can get this over with!! Can you see that he is putting his fingers on his mouth to keep himself from smiling? Crazy kid!

Not going to smile! (he was still trying hard not to smile) So, I gave up. I told him to forget about it and that we would just work on our lessons.

After about an hour...once he had done most of his lessons for the day. He picked up the sign and told me that he was ready to have his picture taken. (his decision - not mine)

Wow. I could use an instruction manuel for this child ... anyone have one?

Monday, August 12, 2013

The First Day of the 2013-2014 School Year

We started our school year on Monday, August 6, 2013.
Rosalie started Pre-K. She is doing history, science, Bible, art, and music with Jonathan and she does handwriting, reading, and math on her own. She LOVES doing school with the big kids!

Aaron started 4th grade! He is enjoying all of the independence that comes with 4th grade and is doing a great job with it so far. We start school at 7:50 each morning. We have devotions and prayer for 10 minutes and then Martin and Aaron work on Science and Music from 8:00 - 9:00. Martin practices trumpet while Aaron does his Science independently. Aaron practices clarinet while Martin does his Science independently. (I don't think that I mentioned that Aaron is playing the clarinet now!! I taught him some fundamentals to get him going and he has taken off with it! He will be in the beginner band this year) While they are doing Science and Music, I work with Rosalie and Jonathan on all of their lessons. 

Jonathan started the 1st grade. He is doing really well so far! He has already finished about 30% of his first grade math book since we worked on it over the summer. He really enjoys math and I am trying to capitalize on that! His reading has come a long way and he is discovering now that he can read other books than just his reading curriculum book. So, I expect that it will really take off in the next year. He has a much better attitude about it this year, which makes it so much easier on me! He is adapting well to having Rosalie with him during his lessons, although sometimes he gets frustrated that she is so quick to answer the questions. I have to be super diligent about saying the name of the child that I want to answer the question. I do not desire for their to be any sort of competition between those two.  
Martin started the 6th grade! (he was not at all interested in having his picture taken) I have a middle schooler! It's so hard to believe.  He and I both are excited about the content of his curriculum this year. He will be studying the time period of history from the Resurrection to the Reformation. So far, we are both enjoying the history so much! We have an excellent routine and schedule going this year that has contributed to one of the best first week of school I have ever had. I was way too unstructured for my liking and my personality last year. So, I have tightened things up a great deal and we are being very careful to follow the schedule and stay on task. It's working out well for all of us. A new thing that I have instituted this year is that they all have to be out of bed and downstairs by 7:00AM. They have 50 minutes to eat breakfast, get dressed, and brush their teeth. School starts at 7:50 and they are not permitted to be late. Rigid? Perhaps. However, at some point these kiddos need to understand that the rest of the world operates by a clock and that being on time is an absolute necessary skill to have. So, Martin sets the alarm and they all wake up and start their day. Rich and I drink our coffee together and we all get an early start to the day. Perfection. 

Our first day of the school year celebration included a dinner of roasted hot dogs, potato chips, and S'mores. FUN! 

We are all glad to be back in the school routine. No doubt we will have good days and bad days, but so far we have all enjoyed the structure that we were lacking last year. I am checklist kind of a girl - and I am in a very happy place when we are all checking off our lists!

I plan to put up posts very soon on what each child is doing and my curriculum choices for the year. I will also be sharing about our new chore system. I am thrilled at how productive we are all being and the excellent training in life skills the children are gaining!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oh Yes I Did!

Last week, Rich went out of town for a few days. I had some errands that I had to run, so we were out all afternoon before we had to go to our church small group that night. I told the children that I would take them somewhere for supper and that it would be the silliest supper they have ever had. I told them that it was so silly that they were going to want to take my temperature when we got there.

I took them to SweetFrog Yogurt shop and we had frozen yogurt for supper. Yes. I did that. Crazy. I know! Sometimes you just gotta have dessert for supper. So, we did.

We are having a fun summer.

Not ready for it to end.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Go Play Outside Now

We love this place! It's called Go Play Outside Now and we had so much fun! We went with a group of good friends and had a blast! 

They have a beach area with pools of water and tons of water guns and barriers for fun water gun battles. They have 2 big slides and they hook one of the slides up with water and make an incredibly fun water slide!

Rosalie wouldn't go down the waterside, but she had fun going down the slide without the water.

The chickens came begging for some lunch.

They also have a huge area set up for laser tag. They had so much fun playing laser tag! 

If you haven't had the chance to visit this great place. You'll have to make your way down there. We were there for more than 5 hours and my children still didn't want to leave when it was time to go!