Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Easter is Coming!

Easter is right around the corner, on April 12th. As a culture, we spend much time, money, and energy on the celebration of Christ's birth, but very little on celebrating the Resurrection! Sometimes this holiday "sneaks up on me".... But God instituted holidays ( holy days ) for his chosen people as a way of remembering God's mercy and provision, as a time for teaching the younger generations, as a time of setting aside the normal activities to focus on something greater and more eternally significant!

How does your family celebrate Easter? How do you focus on glorifying the Lord at this time of year?

How do you decorate? When someone walks into your home, do they know that you are celebrating the amazing miracle of Jesus's death and resurrection?


What traditions are important to your family?

We have always done Easter baskets for our kids. Why? Tradition.  

I like giving gifts to my children, just as our heavenly Father likes giving good gifts to us, His children.  
I try to always include something that points to them Jesus - Christian jewelry, devotional books or Christian story books, scripture bookmarks -  as well as fun items that celebrate life and family - bubbles, kites, candy, frisbees, coloring books, art supplies, gardening tools! 

We also decorate eggs - another family tradition!  The egg is a symbol of new life. Another eggy activity that my children have enjoyed is Ressurection Eggs, which are colored plastic eggs filled with items symbolizing the Easter story. 


On some years, we have done elements of the Passover meal on Thursday night, or a Christian Seder, and talked about the significance to the Jewish people, and the Christian symbolism of those same elements.

We often watch a Christian family movie on Friday night - The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Robe, Ben Hur.

Resurrection Cookies or Resurrection Rolls are a fun tradition to do with your kids.

Take out whatever storybooks you have that center on Jesus's life or on the Easter story. ( if you don't have any, you might want to start your collection this year ). I have a couple of book stands and I set the books out on the coffee table for the week or two before Easter, to be read one at a time over the days leading up to the holiday. The same with any Easter DVDs / videos - Veggie Tales Easter Carol, The Passion of Christ, etc

I have a garden flag that has a cross and Easter lily - that goes out in the yard.

Especially when my kids were younger ( note to self: don't forget I still have a 10-yr-old ) we set aside some time to do a short Easter unit study
Easter Promise  

The Teaching Home Easter Unit Study


Okay, this helped me get the wheels turning. Time to dig out the Easter tablecloth, hang up the flag, buy some Easter lilies, and start sprucing things up for the holiday!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sick Week

This was a low-key week, with one child sick in bed with a fever. Sickness is a rarity around here, and having one who is actually bedridden even rarer...
No science class, no soccer practice, no piano lesson, no art class... I felt bad for my little guy, but actually enjoyed the slow pace this week. I am such a homebody! I love being at home and not having to run here and there. ahhh

Good news is that after a visit to the doctor on Thursday and a prescription for an antibiotic, the fever has gone and he has perked up quite a bit. He stayed home from Co-op today with dad, and will miss a soccer game tomorrow - if the weather even allows for a game -but it looks like we should be back to normal in a day or two.

Hopefully, we can keep everyone else healthy, and not pass this thing around.
I think I'll go drink a glass of Emergen-C!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Art Class: Tropical Birds

In art class this week, the boys painted tropical birds. We started by tracing, then drawing the same bird they had traced, and then drawing the bird again on watercolor paper and painting it with watercolor mixed with a gloss medium (Mod Podge Gloss). This makes a bright, glossy color that is very pretty when it dries! I put some drops of water on the tray of Crayola watercolors and let it sit for about 10 minutes, to soften up the colors a bit. Then I put a teaspoon or two of Mod Podge on a little styrofoam plate and the boys added a couple of brushfuls of watercolor paint and mixed it up. We did that for each color they wanted to use.

TOG Co-op Blessing

Our TOG Co-op is in the final stretch for the school year, starting Week 30 out of 36 weeks total. There are 15 families in our Co-op this year, and most of the moms met together on Thursday night to talk about what has gone well and what we might want to change as we start planning for next year. As my friend, Eve, said, this is probably the most opinionated group of women we know, but we love each other and work together SO well ( most of the time ).... it is such a "God thing". We spent about 20 minutes in prayer before we started the meeting, which was very sweet and uplifting - and we all said, "Why don't we do this more often?" Eve had sent everyone a questionnaire ahead of time, and as we went through the questions, we could see the various personalities and needs in our group pointing us toward a balance between strict expectations and grace, as each family tries to be true to their individual style as a family, their unique challenges and situations, and the rigors of this curriculum coupled with the demands of an academically-oriented Co-op. It isn't always easy, especially for those families with children spanning a big age range. But I think most of us agreed that being in the Co-op was definitely worth the sacrifices, which include having to go at a quicker pace than we might like and having to condense our school week to free up the time for Co-op on Fridays. ( a couple are still weighing the cost vs benefit ) :-) One obvious thing is that God has placed our group together to serve one another. The list of challenges faced these past 2 years by these 15 families is daunting - two families have adopted little children from Ethiopia, 1 family has faced the diagnosis & treatment of a serious illness in their 4 year old, 2 of the moms have lost their fathers this year, one dad has endured a couple of surgeries this year, ond dad has been deployed with the National Guard and will be heading to Iraq soon, my son left for Iraq, one mom struggles with a progressively debilitating illness .... and that doesn't add in financial struggles, tenuous job situations, college kids, church responsibilities, minor illnesses and injuries, etc. We have mobilized more than once to provide meals, help with child care, offer transportation, share resources, and in other ways provide emotional, physical, and spiritual support for one another. This is what being in a support group or Co-op is all about. The academic stuff is gravy.
Good gravy. :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March Madness

After returning from Liberty last weekend, Amanda ended up being sick for a couple of days and I was under the weather, but not actually sick. Good thing - there is no TIME for Mama to be sick.

Jason's town rec league basketball team had their tournament this week, and Jason's team won their first game on Monday, and then fought a tough battle against the 1st place team on Wednesday, actually leading at the half, falling behind by 10 points in the 3rd quarter, and then making a surge to come within 2 points at the end. So now basketball season IS over - well, after the MS Boys team party this afternoon, and the JV Girls team party on Tuesday.... oh, and packing away 100 uniforms and all the equipment in my garage...did I say over? Never mind certain members of my family are glued to the TV watching NCAA college basketball tournament games and checking their brackets daily ( hourly ) - can you say "MARCH MADNESS"?

Go Duke!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Liberty Tourney - Great Homeschool Basketball!

We just spent 4 days up in Lynchburg, VA at Liberty University, the site of the 2009 HSPN East Coast Homeschool Basketball Championships.

This is the 3rd year the Lighthouse varsity teams have competed in this tournament, which included 52 homeschool middle school, JV, and Varsity teams from VA, NC, SC, GA, TN, NY, MD, and TX. The teams were divided into pools of 4 teams, who played against each other the first two days. Then the teams were remixed, and grouped with others of similar ability for the final 2 games, to decide the champions of each bracket. Most games were played on the six courts at Liberty U's LaHaye Recreation Center. There is a LOT of energy and a LOT of noise when 5 or 6 basketball games are being played simultaneously on adjacent courts!!

The high school gym at Liberty Christian Academy, which sits right next door to the University, was the venue for one of our varsity girls' games, and the boys got to play their final game at Liberty's Vine Center stadium. They loved that!

Part of the fun was a 3-point contest for various age groups, and Jason won 1st place in the Under 11 category, with six 3-pointers in 60 seconds.

Things were pretty busy since Mark was coaching and Amanda was scorekeeper for the Varsity Boys team and Amanda was playing with the Varsity Girls, so we were hopping from court to court from morning til night.

But it was a lot of fun for the kids to stay together at the hotel, go out to eat, and just hang out for a few days.

The Lighthouse Eagles Varsity Girls won their first 3 games and ended up in the top bracket, finishing 4th out of the 14 girls teams at the tournament. The Eagles Varsity Boys struggled in their early games against some strong teams and ended up in the bottom bracket, but they pulled through and won their last 2 games to take home a pretty nice trophy!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Homeschool Help : Favorite Printables

The weekly question over at Heart of the Matter is "what are your favorite printables and why?"

I do use printables from the internet quite often in my homeschool, and also for help with home management. Here are some of my favorites:

Enchanted Learning
I LOVE this site, and pay the $20 annual fee to get access to the entire site without ads. There are tons of great worksheets, coloring pages, booklets, craft instructions, etc, which I use with my elementary kids, and even thru middle school. There is a lot you can use that is free, too.

Free Printable Flashcard Maker
There are several sites online where you can create your own flashcards and either study them online, print them out, or download to a "portable media device". Flash My Brain and Study Stack are two that I looked at, and I might try them out sometime. But for now, I like this one that is free, simple to use, and no-frills. I use it just about every week to make flashcards for our TOG and Latin vocabulary words.

Donna Young
DonnaYoung.org has some great forms that you can print off to help with your homeschool and household planning - calendars, planners, timeline forms, etc. There are also math drill sheets, vocabulary lists, science lab report forms, and things like that. You have to search around. My favorite sections are the Household Planner and Homeschool Planner sections.

Love to Learn Place
This site has some awesome book report forms for levels Kindergarten thru Grade 6, which are progressive in that each level builds upon the skills learned in the previous levels. Your child first fills out the form to complete his report, and then graduates to writing without the form, but using the same format. There is a lot of other helpful information and printable pdf files for different school subjects. It is also presented from a Christian perspective.

Notebooking Pages
This site has tons of beautiful free notebooking pages and other great homeschooling helps. You could spend all day browsing through here. Check out the "Sowing Seeds of Character" Habit Training Cards. I use the biography notebooking pages often, but have grand plans to incorporate many more of the pages I have found here.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lighthouse Basketball Awards Night

Last night was the Lighthouse Basketball Awards Night, held at the fellowship hall of Richland Creek Community Church. As always, it was a sweet night of fellowship as all five of this year's Lighthouse teams gathered, along with their families, to be recognized for their effort and achievement this season.
Each family brought a dessert and an
appetizer / finger food, and Lighthouse Sports provided the drinks, paper products, and decorations! After everyone had gotten through the food line ( and that was a LOOOONG line!), the program began with a time of appreciation for our wonderful, volunteer coaches! It was interesting this year that only one of the five Lighthouse head coaches actually was the parent of a player. The others were friends, a former player, and a dad who coached his middle son for the past few years and is now hanging around until his youngest son is old enough to play!! (hmmm, wonder who that is....) Then each coach got to call up his/her players, give them their certificates, and tell a little bit about their contribution to their team this season. The 10 seniors - 6 girls and 4 guys - each received the Senior Plaque which is a tradition with Lighthouse Sports.

After the middle school boys and JV girls both had players who gave a short speech and presentation to their coaches, the Varsity Boys could be seen huddling at their table around a napkin, jotting down some heartfelt sentiments about THEIR coach. haha Way to go, guys! You almost drew a tear from the one coach who is "not in touch with his feelings"...

The season is not quite over. Next week, the Varsity Boys and Varsity Girls, along with 48 other homeschool basketball teams, head to Lynchburg, VA to compete in the HSPN East Coast Homeschool Basketball Championships at Liberty University.

One more time....

Update on Iraq # 2

Contrast this picture with the ones I posted earlier this week. It is a picture Alex took a couple of weeks ago of a sandstorm in Kuwait. He said he went outside and it was a normal day. He went back inside for a couple of hours to work, came outside, and it looked like this!

I got to talk to Alex this afternoon on Skype, which is just so cool. You just need a camera and microphone on your computer, and you can see each other as you talk! And it is free. It was pretty late there, almost 1:00 am , but he said he isn't getting a whole lot of sleep because he works and then has meetings until about 10 PM, and then he goes to the gym to work out for an hour or two. He gets to bed around 1 AM and then gets up at 5 or 5:30 AM. He just moved into a room in a trailer this week, so he now has internet connection for his computer. In a month or so his unit will be moved to a different building on base, which he said is a lot farther away from everything - food, the gym, PX, his work, etc. - and he'll need to take a bus to get back and forth.

He said things are pretty quiet there - not too exciting.

I said, "GOOD!!!!!"

If you are a friend and would like Alex's mailing address in Iraq, let me know. Sorry, but I won't be sending the address to people I don't know.

Monday, March 2, 2009

In Like a Lion....

A March snowstorm is very unusual for North Carolina. It is supposed to be 75 degrees by Saturday, so this won't be around long... but it sure is pretty.

a message to Alex in Iraq, from his little sister :-)