Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Couples & Singles

Saturday night Mark & I attended the Lighthouse Couples Dinner.  Out of 200+ families in our homeschool group, only 10 signed up for this dinner, and 8 actually made it.  Pretty small turnout, and all but two of the couples are part of the group's leadership.  But we had a blast!  We met at a church, and had a Southern -theme buffet, with each of us bringing part of the meal. I brought sausage gravy & biscuits, and banana pudding.  There was pulled pork, chicken stew, fried chicken, corn pudding, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, pecan pie, molasses stack cake, chocolate cake, and boiled peanuts.
Everything was delicious - not bad for a group of mostly northern and left-coast transplants!  My friend, Jennifer,  decorated the tables with an Autumn theme -wishful thinking with the outside temps still in the 90's.  After dinner, she had each couple pick an index card out of a stack in her hand. Each card had a different question written on it, and we went around the room, and each person had to answer the question that they or their spouse had picked.  A couple of questions were serious or sentimental. But others led to some pretty hilarious stories.  A wife was compared to Balaam's donkey.  A husband has fantasies about joining a militia. A couple once went 4-wheeling all dressed up to go out to dinner, and ended up getting their car stuck hanging over the edge of a sandpit.  We were all laughing so hard we were practically crying.  Even though the group was small, it was a great night of fellowship and just plain fun.  For me, it was therapeutic. I realized that I don't laugh like that enough.

While planning for this Couples Dinner, which has been a tradition for the past couple of years, the Lighthouse leaders started talking about the single parents in our group. A few recent conversations as well as a series of posts on Spice-line, the local homeschool yahoogroup, had highlighted the fact that single parent homeschoolers often feel left out of support group and church activities. So in a couple of weeks we are having a Breakfast especially for single parent homeschoolers or those whose spouses are deployed or who travel frequently.  The purpose is to
#1 - make them feel welcome in the group,
#2 - help them to connect with each other so they can share experiences, and
#3- share with the Lighthouse leadership any special needs they have.
We have wondered if there is a need for free or reduced membership fees, for help with carpooling or child care for working moms who would like their kids to be able to participate in actiivities. But we are really only guessing until we can talk in person.  We identified at least 9 families we know of, and a couple more with traveling spouses have contacted us. They all seem very excited about the idea, so I think we have hit upon something.

I'll let you know how it went.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Websites for Homeschool Activities

Sarah has been hard at work on websites the past few weeks.  In addition to her photography site, she also redesigned the Lighthouse Sports website and the Carolina Capital Homeschool Prom website.  New websites for Victoria Station Cafe and the town of Putnam are in the works as well.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sarah's photography website

My daughter Sarah, a recent college graduate with a degree in photography, has updated her photography website. I think her work is stunning... and I'm not biased at all!!! haha
Anyway, you can see for yourself here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Mentor Groups

Our support group started offering Mentor Groups this fall , and so far, they are quite successful.   The key, I think, is using the Home Education 101 manual, by Vicki Bentley.  Right now we have 3 groups meeting and another about to get started, with an experienced homeschool mom hosting 4-6 new homeschool moms at her home for eight sessions, approximately every other week. ( each mentor has set up her own schedule ) . The manual provides the outline of topics, and is full of information that the mentor can read through and then add her own experiences, suggestions, and comments. So all the mentor groups are covering the same topics and the newbies are getting a solid foundation of information.  The topics in the manual include Setting Goals, Choosing Curriculum, Setting Priorities & Making a Schedule, Record Keeping, lesson planning,  Teaching & Learning Styles,  Household organization, Testing.  There is a companion parent workbook, which contains most of the content of the Mentor manual with blank space to write in notes, but the ladies in my group have opted to simply bring their own notebooks and take notes.  Our support group purchased 3 copies of the Mentor Manual for mentors to share, but if you are a veteran homeschooler who finds yourself serving often as "mentor", it would be worth owning a copy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Turning a Corner

As we're finally getting into gear for this school year, I'm noticing some differences already... a change.   My youngest in now 12 years old and doing mostly 7th grade work. His reading has been coming along slowly - rather typical for my kids - and up to now I have done the bulk of the reading for his school aloud.  Last year I started pushing him a little harder and giving him increasing amounts to read himself, to start building up his "tolerance".  His fluency and understanding are there, but he gets tired easily when he reads. This year, he is reading even more on his own ( and there is a LOT of reading with Tapestry of Grace ) .  In addition, I am using a variation of the work box system - with file folders instead of shoeboxes - to lay out his work for the day, and he is working through it pretty independently. I start off the day with reading aloud, and get him started on this or that, but in general, I am free to do .... other things, like fold laundry, work on the computer, clean the kitchen.   This is a totally new thing for me. I have been homeschooling 16 years, and the entire time there has always been a younger child that needed me to work with them for the bulk of their school day.   Now we are at the end of the line, and he is gaining independence, which is the goal... but its working me out of a job.

I keep going to check on him, to see if he needs me. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hey! Let's Go to the Beach!

It is great living close enough to both the beach and the mountains to just wake up in the morning and say, "Let's go!", and do a spontaneous day trip!  That's sort of what we did Sunday, except that we decided the night before.  We hadn't gotten to the beach all summer, and the weather this past weekend was delightful - finally, a break from that oppressive triple H weather (hazy, hot, humid) !  We packed up a lunch, scrounged up some buckets and shovels from the garage, loaded the car, and headed off!  Great way to officially end "Summer".  I even got in the water! 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Birthday Surprises

What an amazing birthday weekend!  I am just overwhelmed with gratitude for the wonderful friends God has put into my life and the gift of an amazing, loving,  family.
Last Saturday was my 50th birthday, and also my 28th wedding anniversary!  Moving from the 40's to the big 5-0  is a little tough ---  as I have been reminded on a couple of occasions, I have now lived half a century!  And this is a decade of moving into a very different season of life!  In the next 10 years, all our children will be grown and we'll be "empty nesters" and no longer homeschooling!  My kids will be getting married and starting families of their own - and possibly moving far away. gulp.  ( I'm praying they'll decide NC is the best place in the world to live!)  So anyway, I haven't been too excited about this birthday.

Since Mark turns 50 on Tuesday, 3 days after me, our kids offered to take US out to dinner, their treat.   That's pretty nice.  So Mark said that he wanted to take me out for our anniversary on Friday night, nothing fancy, but just the two of us.  Okay, that sounded good too.   It meant missing Amanda's volleyball game against Franklin Academy -  she's a SENIOR and I hate missing any of my kids' games, and especially her last one against F.A.  But hey.... it's my anniversary!   So Mark and I decided on the The Cheesecake Factory and got ready to go out, and then he said he had to get on one phone call for work before we left ( this happens all the time... nothing unusual about that ).  Amanda was at her v'ball game, Sarah had taken J to his baseball practice.  Mark was in the bedroom on the phone, and I was sitting at the computer in the living room, when I hear the kitchen door open . "Sarah must have come back to get a book or something", I thought.  But then I saw my 3 friends, Eve, Eileen, and Carla tiptoeing through my kitchen!  huh????????   They didn't see me, so I said, "hey there", and Eileen swoooooped down and grabbed my arm and said,  " YOU ARE COMING WITH US!"  I was flabbergasted.

"What???  Wait!!!  I can't!!!!  "

Now these 3 friends are the moms of Amanda's 3 besties, and the girls are big-time into "kidnapping" each other for surprise outings!  So I was being Kidnapped, but all I could think was, " But we're going out to dinner!  Mark isn't going to be happy with this!!!"  Then, of course, my dear hubby came out of the bedroom smiling and gave us money for dinner, saying, "Have good time!"   He's just the best.  That's all I can say.

So my girlfriends and I had a fantastic dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, sitting outside on the patio on a beautiful night, talking and laughing until midnight!  The poor busboy was starting to hover.

Eric came home from college for the weekend, and Saturday evening we all got ready to go out for our family celebration dinner.  But as we went to get in the car, out whips 2 blindfolds, and Mark and I are sent to the backseat of the van.

Uh oh.

It is sometimes hard to tell when the car is moving and when it is standing still when you cannot see. About 10 minutes later, after driving down a long gravel road/drive ( and now we have a pretty good idea where we are ) ,  we get out of the van, are instructed to take off our blindfolds - and SURPRISE!   We are at our friends, the Nemitzes, house and there are about 100 friends wishing us Happy Birthday & Happy Anniversary!  Awwwwwww.   

Hot dogs & hamburgers, salads and all the fixin's,  a beautiful 3 tier cake - half wedding/ half birthday -  made by Miss Morgan Craig, cheesecake ( Mark's favorite) and Boston Cream Pie ( my favorite). The Nemitzes have a huge yard that slopes down from the street, and is PERFECT for Slip N Slide!!  Water and baby shampoo on big plastic sheeting makes for really fast sliding!  It was so fun to watch - the kids had a blast and the adults had a blast watching them have a blast.

There were a LOT of candles when it was time for dessert.  My  50 plus Mark's 50 - if they had added the 28 for the anniversary we would have needed a bonfire permit.
The kids had put together a scrapbook, asking family and friends to submit a page with pictures and messages to us.  It is sooooooooo amazing and of course, brings tears to my eyes.  And then they made a slide show of pictures of us - from our first date to our Senior Prom, to our wedding, to new babies, and moves to different states and 5 kids!

My kids are wonderful, amazing, terrific, and a huge huge huge blessing in my life.   And now I'm sorry for reading Amanda the riot act after Co-op on Friday, for not being prepared and not paying attention.... I didn't know she'd been up until about 4 am every night getting stuff done for the party, plus trying to do school work, plus painting Jason's bedroom ( her gift to him for his birthday last week).  Guess I'll have to cut her some slack for a few days so she can rest up.  And Sarah, who has been stressing over getting packed and ready to leave for CT tomorrow - where she's living for the next 4 months.  Hmm... no wonder she's been stressed. 

And Alex, we so missed you, but we enjoyed the phone call.  TX is just too far away!!  ( oh, I sound like MY mom there )

One more story..... as we were driving home from the party, we saw that the van was VERRRRRRRY low on gas.  As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember mentioning it to someone about 2 days ago,  before they took the van somewhere, that they needed to put gas in the car.  Well, here we are, driving up Holden Rd, knowing that Sheetz is just ahead, and as we head up the last hill.... the car stalls.  No kidding.  WE RAN OUT OF GAS.  We had enough momentum to get over the crest of the hill and literally coast into the Sheetz parking lot and right up to the gas pump!!! ( not quite that easily, since the power steering and power breaks  don't work when the engine quits)
So, thank you, Jesus for that!!!!

Just a great story to end a great birthday. 

**pictures are coming!! once again, I need Amanda's camera, and the battery is dead.... blah