Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stick Family

This is a really cool site.

I created this stick family for us ~ I haven't actually ordered them because they are a bit out of budget right now. But wouldn't that be cute on the back window of the van?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


We carved pumpkins this morning. This is an annual tradition that the kids look forward to! We have never done the "triangle eyes and toothy smile" jack-o-lanterns. Rather, we carve designs that we either print off the internet or that I draw myself. We use the little saws that come in the pumpkin carving kits you can buy at just about any store this time of year. We transfer the designs to the pumpkins by following the outline with a pushpin. Its really easy, and the results are wonderful!

Simba the Lion and Musical Notes

Monday, October 29, 2007

What we do for Halloween

Last year I hosted a "Fear Not Party" on Halloween night for my youngest and a bunch of his friends. It was a great success, and we would have had another this year, except that Halloween falls on Wednesday. Here in the Bible Belt, that is church night, and most of the kids who would have come for the party have church activities that night. Our own church is having a carnival this year, instead of the usual week-long dramatic presentation called "AnchorSoul" that has been our church's tradition for about 8 years. So we are going to the carnival, and will maybe have another Fear Not Party next year. We will carve our pumpkins tomorrow, and work on putting together a fun costume to wear on Wednesday. There are no other children living in our neighborhood, except for one girl next door who we rarely see, so I don't normally get anyone coming to my door on Halloween. I do have a bag or two of candy in reserve, just in case. I'll turn on the lights and string some white lights on the front porch and put out the friendly pumpkins and mums. No scary spooky creepy things here.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

Sunday, October 28, 2007

On Prayer

Go read this insightful post on prayer by Jeff Estes on Our Quiverfull. Jeff and his wife, Kate, are the homeschool parents of 7 children and owners of Hands and Hearts, a company that sells history kits, notebooking supplies, books, toys, and other hands-on materials for Charlotte Mason, classical, and notebooking homeschoolers. They also have a 1-year-old little boy, Noah, who is seriously ill.

Here is part of Jeff's post:

I believe it was C.S. Lewis who once said, “I do not pray to change the mind of God. I pray because prayer changes me.” Does a God who knows everything, is all powerful, and already knows the future need me to pray for the same thing over and over in order to help Him figure out what is the best thing for my life and the life of Noah (or any of my children, for that matter)? I don’t think so. No, what God has shown Kate and I is that we need to pray because it keeps us in a closer relationship to Him than if we didn’t pray at all. We need to pray because it is important to remember who it is that provides all our needs. We need to pray because prayer - the very act of talking to God - the effort it takes to consciously think about Him – thinking about who He is and how He wants to relate to us – CHANGES US!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Papier Mache Mummy Case

I mentioned several weeks ago that we were making a papier mache mummy case as a project for our Ancient Egyptian studies ~ but I never posted a picture. Jason was very proud of this one. It turned out great, and wasn't hard to do. We used a balloon and bunched up newspapers, secured with masking tape, to make the basic form of the body, then wrapped it all with strips of newspaper dipped into a flour & water paste. We did 2 layers, for strength. When it was dry, we drew the basic features with a black Sharpie, then painted with acrylic paints. We went back over some of the outlines with Sharpie again later. We used pictures in our Ancient Egyptian books for inspiration for design and colors, etc.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Volleyball Finale

It has been a busy few days... Saturday was the NCHE State Homeschool Volleyball Tournament, which was held at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem this year. There were were 4 teams in the JV division this year, and Amanda's team ended up with the 1st place trophy!! They played the best they have all season, and it was so exciting to see them do well, especially since we didn't come into the tournament with high expectations. ( well, Amanda was convinced they were going to win, but the rest of us were skeptical ). This is the 3rd year in a row that our JV team has won 1st place in the tournament.


Then last night was Awards Night, held at Coach Kollar's church fellowship hall. Everyone brought dessert and drinks to share. I spent the last couple of days printing out certificates for all the girls and coaches, and getting frames for team pictures for the coach and assistant coaches. Coach TJ spoke, applauding the JV and Varsity girls for their hard work and perseverance, and mostly for their character and their love for their teammates and even for opponents. A neighboring county started a homeschool team this year, and even though those girls had never played volleyball before, they had to compete at the varsity level because of their ages. Our varsity team embraced them and gave them lots of encouragement, staying after a game to practice with them and give them tips, and ended up playing against them in the consolation game at the tournament. That team was our biggest cheering section throughout the whole day ( aside from our own girls/ families), because our girls had been so nice to them. Anyway, I just had to brag on them a little.

Katie, Amanda, Leigh Ann, Melanie, and Wilson

Emily, Kara, Sierra, Katie, Amanda, Cheri, Makenzie, and Wilson

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why did we have a Seder?

I was thinking that it might be good to explain a little more about the Jewish Seder ceremony which was part of our Unit Celebration on Friday night ( see previous post ), and why we as Christians would see importance in it! First of all, the very fact that Jesus Christ was a Jew and celebrated these festivals during his life on earth is reason to explore them more deeply. But beyond that, 1 Corinthians 5:7 says " For Christ our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." What does that mean? To understand how Christ is the Passover lamb, we must understand the Jewish Passover celebration.

Passover is the oldest and most important religious festival in Judaism, and celebrates the deliverance of the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, from slavery in Egypt, and their establishment as a nation of people. The festival of Passover is a 7-day celebration that begins at sunset of the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan (read about the Jewish calendar here) - which falls in March or April.

Unlike the most Holy days of Christianity that are observed in Church, since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70 Passover has been celebrated in the home with family and friends as they eat a meal together. It is customary to invite guests to share the Seder meal, especially newcomers to the community. The actual Seder meal in most Jewish homes is an elaborate feast, with food, games for the children, and plenty of time to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. It is not unusual for a Seder to last three to four hours.
The Seder involves everyone present since they all have a Haggadah (Heb: "telling," the printed order of service, reading, and songs) and are called to share in reading and singing the story. While the father or grandfather is usually the leader of the service, others have roles as well. The mother of the home lights the festival candles that signal the beginning of Passover, the youngest child asks the four questions, the children help eliminate all
Chametz, leaven, from the house, search for the hidden Afikomen (a symbolic piece of Matzah, unleavened bread) and open the door for Elijah, the parents or the grandparents tell the story of the exodus, and various others are designated to read or lead certain portions of the service.
Passover is really more than a festival. It is an elaborate teaching experience, especially for the children, intended to call people to their identity as the People of God. By using all of the senses, the Passover Seder tells the story of God’s grace in history and calls the participants to experience and share in the story as their own story. Passover becomes more than simply a service or a time; it becomes a way to confess faith in the One who has acted in history, and for Jews expresses the hope that He will continue to act in bringing deliverance to all people everywhere.

(from Introduction to a Christian Seder )

This teaching aspect is very significant, and I'm afraid it is something we Christians do not take seriously enough. Every year, in the context of family togetherness and celebration, the essence of the Jewish faith and identity is repeated over and over to the next generation.
THIS is who we are. THIS is what God did. THIS is why we celebrate - to remember!

How often do our families gather together, and the grandparents and parents take the time to diligently teach our children what it means to be a Christian, why we celebrate Christmas and Easter and Pentecost and the Fourth of July and
Thanksgiving ( the GOD reasons!), the reasons why we DON'T celebrate Halloween in the same way as others in our community, what amazing things God has done for His people and through His people? It is so important to be deliberate in teaching and passing on our faith and values to our children, and not just hope that they "catch it" from living in our homes.

Up until the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the central focus of the Passover was a perfect and unblemished lamb which each family sacrificed and ate as part of a sacred meal. In the book of Exodus, we read the Lord's commandment to the Israelites to mark the lintel and doorframes of their homes with the blood of this sacrificed lamb, to protect them from the 10th plague against Egypt, the death of the firstborn sons. Death would "pass over" the homes of the Israelites, which were marked by the blood of the lamb. Jesus Christ is God's first born son, perfect and without blemish. In God's perfect timing, Jesus became the sacrificial lamb, arrested and put to death during Passover.

John in his gospel noted that Jesus died at the same time that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple (see John 19:14) and that like the Passover lambs, none of his bones were broken (the others being crucified had their leg bones broken by the Romans—John 19:32, 33, 36). The idea behind all this was that just as the Israelites were redeemed from Egyptian slavery by an unblemished lamb, now men could be freed from slavery to sin by the Messiah, the Lamb of God.

(from Passover - Why is this night different since Y'shua observed it? )

Death (eternal separation from God) passes over those who are marked by the blood of Jesus, meaning those who in their hearts have accepted him as their Saviour. The Israelites were not "automatically" spared from the judgement on the first born. They had to actively obey God by slaughtering that lamb and putting the blood on the doorframes of their homes. Likewise, Jesus's death doesn't "automatically" provide salvation for all people. We must do our part - actively proclaim him as our Lord and Saviour, and submit our lives to the authority of God. An interesting fact ~ if you act out the putting of blood on the lintel ( top ) of the door, and then the 2 sides of the doorframe as the Israelites did, you create a picture of the Cross.

You can read about more symbols of Christ in the Passover Seder here in "A Jewish Believer's Passover"

More info:

I LOVE homeschooling. I would never have learned these things except for the opportunity to delve deeply into history and into God's Word with my children. Homeschooling is as much an education for parents as it is for children!


Friday, October 19, 2007

TOG Unit Celebration

Tonight was our TOG Unit 1 Celebration, which was a Seder meal It was led by our new friend, Mr. Mel Walters, who came to talk about the Jewish Sabbath with our Co-op a couple of weeks ago. He and his wife, Joanne, are missionaries with the International Board of Jewish Missions. A few families in our Co-op couldn't be there tonight, but we still had about 65 people squeezed around 6 tables ~ with very little wiggle room! Most tables had 2 families assigned to them, and those families decided among themselves who would bring the Seder elements - hard-boiled eggs, celery, matzah, charoset, horseradish, parsley, grape juice. They also brought dinner for their own table. Pot roast was a popular choice tonight, but K.S. made a matzah pizza for her boys. I brought pot roast (cooked all day in my crock pot), oven roasted potatoes and carrots with fresh rosemary, salad, and Jewish Apple Cake for dessert. Mr. Walters led the Seder, describing the various parts of the ceremony and pointing out the Christian symbols present in this ancient Jewish festival. The kids dressed in costumes, representing the different cultures we studied in Unit 1 - Ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, and Hebrews. They also displayed their crafts and projects, so the dads and grandparents present could enjoy their work.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fun at the NC State Fair

The aliens have landed!

Jason had to pitch right-handed this year

Jim the potter is in the Village of Yesteryear every year, and discusses the importance of community involvement with the arts with everyone who stops to watch him throw his pots!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Slim Goodbody

Jason and I went on a field trip this morning with our friends, the Donahues, to see the Slim Goodbody "Bodyology" show at Fletcher Auditorium in downtown Raleigh. It was really well done - "Slim Goodbody" sang, danced, narrated, and otherwise exhorted the audience to take care of our amazing bodies. The show highlighted the various sytems of the body and how they work, using snappy tunes and hand motions and audience participation to grab the attention of the room full of elementary school children.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Full House

Alex and Sarah are both home for a long weekend, as their respective colleges are out for fall break. Bekah, my "adopted" daughter ( Sarah's good friend, whose parents live overseas ) is also here, so we have a full house! The washing machine has been going non-stop since last night, and we've gone through a bag of tortilla chips, 2 gallons of milk, 1 gallon of chocolate ice cream, and a bag of peanut butter chips. I love it!

Fortunately, Lowes Foods ran triple coupons from Wednesday thru today, and I've made 3 trips to the store, with 20 coupons each time ( the limit ). That enabled me to stock up on a few things, although the store was already low or out of several items by the time I got there at 8:00 AM Wednesday morning. I'm trying to be more consistent with my couponing. Some weeks I just don't have time to clip and sort, and then I get behind ~ but it is a great way to save on the grocery bill. The secret is to save your coupons for when an item is on sale ~ then you maximize your savings. Also, if you are blessed like we are to have grocery stores that regularly offer double coupons ( take off double the value of each coupon ) then you can really do well with coupons. When I started using coupons about a year and a half ago, I signed up for The Grocery Game, an online service that tells you which coupons to use at your local store(s) each week for the best buys. Now I am on a yahoogroup for NC called Smartspending, where people share info about deals at the various grocery stores each week. If you don't live in NC, there is also a national Smartspending group.

Jason had another x-ray of his broken arm on Monday. The doctor said it looked fine, but he re-cast the arm because he felt the first cast was too loose. So now Jason is working on filling the new one with signatures. He has to go back in 3 weeks for the next x-ray, and the doctors will decide then whether he can have the cast taken off. It really hasn't slowed him down at all. Yesterday when I went to pick him up from Nathan's house, I arrived just in time to see him getting tackled in a backyard football game with his 2 friends.

The weekend is pretty full. Mark is coaching boys varsity and girls middle school practices tomorrow morning. Then Jason has a soccer game. Sarah and her friends are trying to persuade Alex to go with them to the NC State Fair tomorrow afternoon. The Fair starts today, and we generally take a day off and go every year as a family. But the college kids have to squeeze in their day at the Fair while they can ~ I refuse to battle the weekend crowds!
Tomorrow night we are going to Ken's Korny Corn Maze, in Garner, with several other Lighthouse families. Then Sunday is a day of rest - I HOPE!

We have been studying the books of Exodus and Leviticus these past couple of weeks in our ancient history studies. God was pretty serious about the Sabbath, and I'm getting convicted that we are not honoring that commandment very well, just by going to church and taking a nap. Sunday ( or the Sabbath ) is supposed to be a day set aside, a day to recover and reconnect and rejuvenate, a day to set aside the normal hustle and bustle of our busy lives, a day to focus on family and relationships and fellowship with God and with one another. I don't think I am doing that very well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


How many times a day do you search for something on the internet, using a search engine such as Google or Yahoo? Wouldn't it be great if you could help support a good cause at the same time? Well, you can, by using GoodSearch!
GoodSearch donates 50% of their earnings to participating charities and non-profit organizations designated by their users! When you go to the main search page, you type in the name of the group you want to support ( or use their search feature ). You can support the same group every time you use GoodSearch, or choose a different group every time. It is up to you!
Groups receive approximately 1 cent for every search. Our homeschool association is now signed up, so you can help support Lighthouse, including Lighthouse Sports, by choosing Lighthouse Christian Homeschool Association - Youngsville, when you do a GoodSearch!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Transcript Workshop

This morning my friend Tammy and I facilitated a Transcript Boot Camp workshop at Homelight Books, our local homeschool book store. Transcript Boot Camp is a 4-hour seminar on DVD which covers things such as creating a transcript, keeping records, assigning grades, computing grade point averages, etc. Today we only watched the first 2 hours, and we'll watch the rest in a couple of months! We originally planned to do the whole seminar in one day, but several people asked that we break it up so that they weren't gone from their families the whole day and also because it is a LOT of information to absorb! I think it worked out well. Tammy and I had brought several sample transcripts, from our kids and a couple of our friends, so everyone had a chance to see a "real" final transcript, all done.

Since this was a morning event, we decided to bring some muffins, juice, and coffee. When I was at the grocery store yesterday, I picked up a box of blueberry muffin mix off the shelf and looked at it ~ it would be quick to whip up and would probably taste okay. But I couldn't do it! Muffins are so darn easy to make, and homemade muffins wouldn't have ingredients in them that I can't pronounce! So I bought a bag of frozen wild blueberries instead, and came home and pulled out my favorite blueberry muffin recipe.


1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1-2 Tbl orange juice

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper or silicone liners. In lg. bowl, combine rolled oats and orange juice; stir well. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, oil, and egg to rolled oat mixture. Mix well. Stir in blueberries. Fill prepared muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and cool on rack. When still slightly warm, sift confectioners sugar into a small bowl; add juice until it makes a thin glaze that will pour off a spoon. Drizzle glaze over the tops of the slightly warm muffins.

The Voice of Truth

I love this song! I read the words to this song as part of my devotion at our homeschool support group meeting the other night. As homeschoolers, it is easy to start listening to the negative "voices" that surround us, telling us that we are weird, that we are not qualified to teach our own children, that we will ruin these kids and they'll never be able to get along in the "real world", and on and on and on. Sometimes these voices come from family members, sometimes from the media, sometimes from friends or neighbors or church members, sometimes from our own feelings. Homeschooling takes place in the middle of life, which tends to be messy. Cars and appliances break down, kids get sick, roofs leak, siblings don't always get along, babies fuss, meals need to be made, nerves get frazzled. The local school, with that smiling teacher and her well-planned lessons in her sun-shiny classroom filled with every imaginable teaching tool and bright, eager students, starts calling our name. In our weakness, we let doubt and anxiety and fear and frustration creep in, but these things do not come from the Lord. They are from the Deceiver, who would like nothing better than for us to abandon our plans to instill godliness and character and moral values in our children along with academic excellence. And the reason they creep in is that we take our eyes off of Jesus, as Peter did when he stepped out of the boat onto the water, walking toward Jesus' outstretched hand. As soon as he looked around him at the wind and the waves, he lost heart and started to sink. ( Matthew 14 ) If the Lord calls us, won't He give us what we need to do whatever it is? I have seen God provide for us many times over the years, and I am watching in awe now, as God is demonstrating His power and provision in my friend Eileen's life in miraculous ways! It isn't because we have things all together or have any special abilities. It is because God chooses to work through weak, imperfect human beings, for His Glory!!

"My grace is sufficient for you , for my power is made perfect in weakness..." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Friday, October 5, 2007

Learning About Shabbat

Today in TOG Co-op we had two delightful guest speakers. Mel & Joanne Walters are missionaries with the International Board of Jewish Missions ( and homeschool grandparents ). The came to share with us the significance of the Jewish Sabbath, or Shabbat, as part of our Tapestry of Grace week 7 study of the Mosaic Covenant and the Ten Commandments. The kids got to taste challah ( bread ) and drink grape juice, learned a phrase or two in Hebrew ( Shalom aleichem ~ peace be to you ), smelled the sweet spices in the spice box, and each received a widows mite ( coin ). The Walters did a wonderful job of conveying the lasting traditions and the strength of family that are part of this Jewish celebration.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Like Mother Hubbard, my Cupboards are Bare!

You may have noticed that I added a weekly menu to my sidebar. I need to get back to planning my meals ahead of time. Well, that will have to be NEXT week's menu, because here it is Wednesday, and I have yet to go grocery shopping this week ~ so I haven't made anything on that menu!! agh

Between volleyball games, basketball tryouts, baby shower, graduation meeting, Lighthouse meeting, car trouble, ..... I just haven't been able to fit in more than a quick dash to the store to get a few items each day. Good thing there is a grocery store 1 mile from my house. As soon as I can catch my breath, I AM going to go through my coupons, make a decent list, and go for a real shopping trip. I'm ready for some GOOD meals; not just thrown together quick ones, eaten on the fly.

Okay, time to regroup.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Graduation Planning Meeting

Tonight was the first planning meeting for the Lighthouse Christian Homeschool Association 2008 graduation ceremony! I coordinated tonight's meeting, which drew 17 families. I think there might be another 1 or 2 people who didn't make it tonight. That's a good size group for a support group graduation ceremony! I went over the basics of the Lighthouse graduation ceremony, and we watched parts of the 2006 Graduation DVD, so everyone could see what the ceremony is like.
In essence, this is what we covered:
  1. Graduation is the 1st Saturday of June ( June 7, 2008) at 2:00 PM
  2. Ceremony length is 1 1/2 - 2 hours long
  3. Graduate attire is black caps and gowns, with tassles and stoles of different colors, as chosen by each grad
  4. Processional and recessional are played by the Lighthouse Homeschool Band
  5. Diplomas are the responsibility of the parent, and they may create their own, or order from one of several different sources
  6. Parents present the diploma to their own son or daughter, and have 2-3 minutes for remarks
  7. Each graduate presents his/her mother with a single rose
  8. Power Point slide show features 6-8 pictures of each grad - a "slice of life"
  9. Simple reception follows the ceremony in the church fellowship hall

Other things we touched on were the Senior Picture Day at Winn Portrait Studio, to be scheduled for this fall; Group photo day, usually held in the spring; additional social events throughout the year for the graduating seniors; yearbook senior pages; programs, and invitations. A suggestion was made that perhaps we could videotape the seniors, one at a time, giving a short message to their families, moms, etc., and play it at the beginning of the ceremony.

Baby Shower

Yesterday was the baby shower for my friend Eileen, who will soon be bringing home 3 children from Ethiopia. The weather was gorgeous, so Theresa set things up on her spacious front porch and yard. Check out Eileen's blog to see a group photo of all the ladies and young ladies present. Eileen, Jerry, & Ellie will bring this photo with them when they travel to Africa , and give it to the birth mother, a 20-yr-old woman who is dying of AIDS. They want her to know how many people are waiting back here in NC to welcome her children , to love them and watch out for them. The excitement and joy here on this end is matched by the pain and sorrow in another life on the other side of the world.