Saturday, June 28, 2008

End of Baseball Season

Jason's baseball team ( 9 & 10 yr. old, machine-pitch) had a fantastic season, going undefeated in 12 games! Unfortunately, their one "off" night was the first game of the tournament, where they struggled at the bat and wound up losing 9-2. So that was a sad way to end the season. There were a few tears, but the coaches did a great job of encouraging the players, telling them that they had lots to be proud of this season, that it is okay to feel bad when you lose, but that they should be "over it tomorrow", and remembering all the good things about this team and how well they played all season. Very nice guys. :-)
Way to go, River Cats!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Camping in Boone

We just spent 4 days in the mountains, camping at the KOA in Boone while Eric attended his freshman orientation at Appalachian State University. The weather was wonderful - temps in the 70's, maybe low 80's during the day; a few scattered rain showers didn't dampen things very much.

The university does a great, 2-day parents orientation as well, with lots of good information for parents about the university and about the challenges that students face as they start college. But since we went through this same orientation program 2 years ago with Sarah, we only attended the first 2 sessions on Monday, and then opted to spend the rest of the time hanging out with the younger kids, playing frisbee and wiffle ball and hanging out at the campground.

We would have stayed out their longer than 4 days, but Eric had to get back to work at camp, and Jason has his town-league baseball tournament this week. So we took what we could get!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kids at Camp and School Planning

The house has been empty again this week! Three kids were at New Life Camp, and one was at a basketball camp from 9am - 5pm. Me? I spent most of the week with my nose in my Tapestry of Grace Year 2 binders, or sitting at the computer reading online documents in preparation for teaching high school literature & writing in our TOG Co-op. I also priced 2 big boxes of books / curriculum to bring to the Lighthouse Used Curriculum Blow Out Sale on Saturday morning at Homelight Books (our wonderful local homeschool bookstore) !

I adjusted our Daily Routines (chores) list for one fewer "helper" at home this fall. And I printed off some other forms and charts to include as I put together my planner and the kids' notebooks for the new school year. Doesn't seem like much... but it is progress towards an organized start to school two months from now! That is the GOAL, at least.

One of the topics this week on a TOG forum that I read has been about being overwhelmed with teaching high school material, how much to attempt, how to prepare, and being afraid of not doing it right! The best advice given, I think, was just to START! It is too easy to let fear paralyze us and prevent us from even attempting that which appears difficult. If we just take a deep breath and "do the first thing", and then the next thing, and then the next, we may find that the challenge wasn't as tough as it first appeared.

There's a saying that I really like: " God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called!

Another important thing to remember : But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

How's your relationship with the Lord right now? Are you studying your Bible ( not just glancing at it ) every day ? Are you talking daily to God about your fears and frustrations, your hopes and dreams, your disappointments and blessings? If you are feeling anxious and afraid, then start right there.

And I'm preaching to myself!

Here are some New Life Camp photos from Early Week

New Life Campers are serious about carpetball...

and rock/paper/scissors ...

and tire tug of war ...

....and serving others

.... and having fun!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father-Daughter Dance

Last night Mark and the girls went to a Father-Daughter Dance, arranged by our friends Ryan and Eve. A church in Raleigh puts on a dance like this every winter, and Ryan had taken his 2 daughters for a couple of years. But when things got too big and the church decided to limit participants to the members of just a couple of churches, Eve and her girls decided they would just have to plan a dance of their own! So they rented the Youngsville Community Center, sent out invitations, burned some CDs with dance music, and they were ready! This was a dressy affair; everyone brought a dessert to add to the dessert table. ( unfortunately, the platter of cream puffs that Amanda had worked so hard on crashed to the floor as they were leaving the house, so they didn't make it to the table...) There were about 15 dads with their daughters, I think - girls ranged in age from 5 up to 20! Sarah, who loves to go out dancing with her college friends, ended up teaching quite a few dances to the less experienced attendees. Long-stem carnations were provided for each girl, and and one by one, each dad presented one to his daughter(s) while saying a few words about her! Although the air conditioning was set on High, things were pretty warm and sweat was flowing. But the smiles say it all!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Book Adventure

My 9-yr-old is a bit of a reluctant reader. He would much rather have me read to him! So I signed him up on , which is a wonderful FREE site which encourages kids to read by offering short, multiple-choice quizzes on over 7000 different books, for which the kids earn points and prizes! Parents can choose the reading level for which the child can earn his points, and also create prize certificates. For instance, each book read earns 100-150 points. So I created certificates such as : an ice cream cone at DQ for 100 points; a movie from the video store for 200 points; lunch at his favorite fast food place for 200 points; going bowling for 1000 points; going to a Mudcats baseball game for 2000 points. Tonight Jason redeemed 2000 points and he and his dad went to the Mudcats game!
Although he's almost 10, I'm letting Jason earn points for books on the 2nd and 3rd grade reading level, because the important thing right now is volume! I want him eager to read every day, and if I made him read harder books, he'd just get frustrated and stop! The more he reads, the easier it will get, and then I'll push the reading level up a bit, until he has to read books at or above his grade level.
But I'm not in any rush to make him do that. I'm reading aloud great books to him, so he's getting exposed to rich vocabulary, more intricate plot lines, and wonderful stories. Eventually, his ability to read those stories himself will catch up.
Our bedtime read-aloud right now is "Black Stallion", by Walter Farley ( one of my all-time favorite books as a child!) Other books I've read aloud this year were "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH", "Rascal", "Little Britches", "The Silver Chair", Cheaper By the Dozen", and "The Indian in the Cupboard".

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Homeschool Graduation #3

Yesterday was the 6th annual graduation ceremony for our homeschool association and the 3rd celebration of a graduate from Cornerstone Academy, our homeschool. Outside, the temperature hit triple digits, but things were comfortable in the air-conditioned sanctuary for the twenty-one graduating homeschooled seniors and the 300 or so guests. The Lighthouse Homeschool Band played "Pomp & Circumstance" as the grads, clad in black caps & gowns and wearing a rainbow of colored stoles, marched in and took their seats on the stage. Dr. Ladd, our ceremony host, opened with a prayer. A Boy Scout Color Guard carried in the the flag and we all sang the National Anthem, and then began the presentation of diplomas. One by one, each senior met his or her parents at the podium, where the student presented a bouquet of flowers to Mom, and the parents had up to 3 minutes to present their diploma and share words of wisdom, encouragement, and blessing amidst tears and laughter. I had jotted down notes for what I wanted to say, but somehow lost them before our turn at the podium. So I had to "wing it". Not good for an already weepy mom. I noted that Eric was our third graduate, and some things were easier with the third, such as navigating community college dual enrollment, creating high school transcripts, and filling out financial aid paperwork.

But some things never get any easier.

I forgot to tell him how proud I am of him ~ not just of his accomplishments, but of the strong, thoughtful, confident, responsible man he has become. I did tell him that I would miss him next year when he left for college. And challenged him to remember that we are God's hands and feet here in the world, and that wherever he goes, he should look to see where God is at work and then go join Him! I also quoted the words of William Carey, the father of modern missions: Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God!

Then my husband took the microphone. Two years ago, he presented my daughter with a brick at her graduation. Neither she nor I had any idea what that was for! But he explained that it was a brick from our walkway, so that she would have a little piece of home with her, remind her that Jesus was her "rock", and have an opportunity to share her faith with people at college when they asked why she had a brick on her desk! This time, Mark started by explaining that we have a 2 yr old dog ~ a big, strong shepherd/lab mix named Ranger that thinks he is a sled dog, and that Eric walks every night before he goes to bed. Then Mark pulled Ranger's leash out of a bag and presented it to Eric. He said that this was to remind Eric of home and that he would always have a job when he returned ( since walking the dog will become my husband's job since no one else is really strong enough to handle "the beast" ). Also, he is to hang it on his dorm room wall, to cause him to think about who or what is "leading" him...and where... and also to think about who he is leading.

After all the students had received their diplomas, there was a "slice of life" multi-media slide show, set to music by Mark Harris, Chris Rice, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Casting Crowns, of childhood pictures of each graduate. Then the students stood, and at the instruction of Dr. Ladd, turned their tassles from the right to the left, signifying their graduation from one stage of life to the next! The band played a recessional as the graduates marched out to happy cheers and applause! They formed a receiving line in the lobby, which was quickly jam packed with hugging and beaming family members and friends. A reception followed in the church fellowship hall, where a committee of senior mothers had planned a spread which included punch fountains and plates of cookies and pastries. We had decided against sheet cakes or cupcakes, based on previous years' experience, in which too much cake was left over and messy icing made clean up difficult! A half dozen or so juniors served as Junior Marshalls and they, along with a few of their moms, were responsible for serving and clean up.

We got a quick drink of punch, but then gathered our family together, which included Grandpa Tony, Grandma Marge, Aunt Sue, and cousins Chelsea and Michael from Massachusetts, for pictures with Eric in the lobby. I was surprised that the ceremony had only taken an hour and a half! We had anticipated at least a 2 hour ceremony!

We went back home to get ready for the big party that was planned for late that afternoon. My friend, Eve, and her daughters were already at my house, getting the food ready. Thank you! Thank you!! I had made 3 lasagnas and 4 pizzas the day before; meatballs & spaghetti sauce were in the crockpot; bags of sandwich rolls from the grocery bakery were cut and ready; a big bowl of blueberries and cut up strawberries, and another of cut watermelon, were put on on the table. Eve and I finished assembling 2 antipasto platters, which consisted of a bed of shredded lettuce, chopped red onion, and chopped cucumber, topped with an arrangement of artichoke hearts, olives, chopped tomato, sliced pepperoni, rolled salami, rolled ham, rolled turkey, rolled capicola, slices of American and Provolone cheese, peperoncini, and roasted red pepper. My niece and I had made a chocolate brownie trifle - chunks of brownies layered with caramel sauce, toffee bits, chocolate mousse, and whipped cream. Very decadent!! My friend, Colleen, brought over a homemade cheesecake which was to die for! I wasn't sure if there would be too much food, or not enough... but it turned out just right. I had one lasagna left over, about half of the rolls, and one of the antipastos, but everything else was gone! A couple of family friends came by, and then a ton of Eric's friends from camp decended on the house. It was too hot to be outside, so everyone crammed into our not-too-large house, eating, playing Guitar Hero, talking, and laughing. Amanda had covered a tri-fold display board with photos of Eric, from baby to present. That was on a table, along with his yearbook, and people enjoyed looking at that. The last stragglers left the house at about 12:30 am.

A year of planning, a week of heavy duty cleaning and cooking, and it was over in a few hours. I think Eric will have good memories of his high school graduation.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Homeschool Support Group Meeting

Tonight was our monthly Lighthouse meeting. Amy called me yesterday and asked me to share something on the topic of Organization. I think I may have harmed her eardrum when I burst out laughing. HA! I think I was born without the "organized" gene.
However, I must admit that after 25 years of marriage, 23 years of motherhood, and 14 years of homeschooling, I am much more organized than I was before ( at least in some areas ). So, as a work in progress, I agreed to share. I was one of 5 ladies who spoke about different aspects of being organized, and my focus was on Setting Priorities.

Many years ago, I attended a workshop at the NCHE Homeschool Conference on the topic of Setting Priorities. The speaker, a homeschool mom whose name I no longer remember, had quite a few things to say which struck home with me.
One was that for everything I say YES to, there is something that I am saying NO to. She shared her list of What I Do, and What I Don't Do, and encouraged us to make our own lists. So here is mine.

What I Do

Homeschool 2 children ( was 5, but as of graduation on Saturday, I am down to 2 - sniff sniff ) - and I use a curriculum ( Tapestry of Grace) which involves fairly significant teacher prep

Teach in weekly TOG Co-op

Teach Art at my dining room table once a week to my kids and some of their friends

Newsletter Editor for my support group

Chairman of Graduation Committee

Design and print diplomas

Host Tapestry Teas at my home

Help facilitate Saturday morning homeschool discussion groups

Attend monthly Lighthouse meetings

Talk with people about homeschooling

Blog / Facebook - to keep up with family and grown children, and to share our life with others

Check email several times a day

Read daily news & weather online; visit homeschool forums and blogs

Bake Bread

Cook dinner for my family almost every night

Cut coupons, make weekly menu, and grocery shop carefully

Do laundry daily

Read to my youngest every night before bed

Play board games with my kids

Attend almost all of kids' sporting events

Help my husband with Lighthouse Sports

Scorekeeper for daughter's volleyball team

Read books about Christian life and faith, motherhood, history, philosophy... and organization

Attend church weekly

Read Bible daily

Volunteer at Food Pantry once a month

Go out on a date with my husband once or twice a month

Occasionally make greeting cards, usually with my daughter

What I Don't Do

Keep a spotless house

Make my bed every morning ( sorry Eileen)

Spend time painting & decorating

Watch TV

Teach Sunday School

Participate in women's bible studies or women's ministry at church

Go to church on Wednesday night

Go shopping for fun


Workout at the Y

Pay the bills or figure the taxes ( my husband's gift, not mine )

Sew, knit, crochet

Scrapbook ( although I WANT to )

Sing in the choir - although I love it

Go to bed early

Paint, draw, do calligraphy - I will in another season

There are plenty of things I've missed, but you get the picture. I can do all that I do only because I also have decided not to do certain other things. I cannot compare myself to someone else; each of us is unique in our threshhold for activity, and in our God-given gifts and callings. In addition, God has given our families gifts and callings. Some families minister through teaching, some through music, some through hospitality, some through sports, some through physical labor... The things on my WHAT I DO list should reflect my individual and family gifts. The things I DO are my PRIORITIES - whether I say they are or not. My list of priorities will not look just like your list. My priorities should be in line with my own special gifts and callings, and my season of life!

If God has given me children, a husband , and a calling to homeschool --then I have built-in priorities that should take precedence over other good things!

Priorities will change with your Season of Life - Single, married, babies, young children, teens, empty nest.... look at your list and decide if there are things that can/should wait for a later season, so that you have time for other things that can ONLY be done now.

Don't let SATAN steal the time that God has given you to accomplish those things that are your priorities right now. Is your stumbling block the TV? computer? telephone? magazines? crossword puzzles? video games?

PRAY and ask for God's help in determining the priorities for this season of your life.

Kali is Safe

Kali Norris was found this afternoon and is safely back with her family. Please continue to pray for wisdom and healing for the family as they deal with whatever is at the root of Kali's disappearance.

Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and mercy, for protecting Kali and bringing her back home.

Monday, June 2, 2008

It's Quiet Around Here

It is quiet around the house. All the kids are at camp this week - 2 are counselors, one is a CIT, and one is a camper! We drove down there tonight to pick up Jason and take him to his baseball game. His team won, 10-3. Jason is playing great so far this season! Tonight he hit a double and a home run. He played centerfield and 1st base, and caught a short fly at first, and the coach gave him the game ball tonight. So he was a pretty happy kid on the drive back to camp after the game.

I talked to Alex tonight, and it looks like he won't be able to make it home for Eric's graduation on Saturday after all. The Army scheduled a water survival test for Saturday morning, and he isn't allowed to miss it. :-( That makes me very sad...

I've been working hard all day on the closet / shelves in the den - another 2 bags of trash, 3 bags for Goodwill. Still some piles to finish up, and then I can move on to the living room!

Please pray for a young teen from our church, Kali Norris, who has been missing since Friday. No one has seen or heard from her, and everyone is very worried.
Pray for her safety, and that she return home soon!