Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dad is Home!!!!!

My dear and wonderful husband has returned from his deployment and is presently home for his 30-day leave. We have been enjoying his company for the last week. For the initial three days he stayed at a hotel allowing him to reintegrate into the family at his own pace and also to allow for individualized time with him. Maceo, Bishop, and I each got one day and one evening with Dad at the hotel. The boys were giddy with excitement to be spending time alone with Dad. Following those three days Herb has bought a car (he sold his Jeep to Christian last summer before he deployed), grilled several times (we have had beef brisket, pork ribs, hamburgers, chicken thighs and drumsticks, and at least 3 packages of hot dogs), played Star Wars Battlefront II with Bishop, played football with the boys, has given the boys much-needed haircuts, dined at Lambert's, and has visited the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and has gone bowling. It is such a blessing to have him home with us. Welcome home Dad!!!

Bishop driving NASCAR at the Sports Hall of Fame (above)
Maceo doing the driving (below)

Note the hairstyles above and then take a look at the boys with their haircuts. This is the one surefire way to know that Dad is home!

(Dad has now been home for two weeks. Sorry for the delay in posting. It is difficult to blog at the speed of life).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Beginnings (aka. the school year begins)

I love this time of year. It feels fresh and new. I know that the natural world is preparing for hibernation, for the survival of the harsher winter months. But this weather gives us a reprieve from the hotter summer months, it is so refreshing. And the activities surrounding this time of year change as well. The lazy (or not so lazy, if you read my previous post) days of summer are over and the more structured time of the academic year is upon us. Even this feels new and refreshing for me. I am sure that feeling has to do with memories of my childhood preparations for beginning a new school year: the exciting anticipation (and trepidation) that came with starting a new grade, with a new teacher and the potential of making new friends; the process of picking out new clothes and school supplies; and new pencils to be sharpened and brightly colored crayons lined up perfectly in their box. Everything was new and fresh and full of potential.

I recently began to ponder whether my younger two children would have similar memories to look back upon, whether they would have similar associations regarding this season. We have developed a lifestyle of learning in which learning is just woven naturally into all that we do as a family. We have always had some sort of formal lessons but there has always been a lot of flexibility and room for spontaneity. It has often been difficult to discern exactly when the "school" year ends and when it begins again. This year I decided to be clear and set a date. The date chosen was the day after labor day (a little old school, don't you think?). The week prior to this I took advantage of the back-to-school specials and bought school supplies and a couple of new outfits. I did have the boys help me with the clothes shopping. They were hesitant at first but, in the end, really seemed to enjoy determining their own style. On labor day we said goodbye to summer by going swimming at the public pool, dining in our backyard and roasting marshmallows for s'mores over the fire pit. The following day the boys donned their new clothes and the school year began!

School began with them attending a homeschool group at the local YMCA. At this group they play P.E. style games in the gym, go rock climbing and swimming. After their group I took them to the park for a picnic (complete with a back-to-school snack) and to begin our study of clouds. Also, while at the park, I had them change into another new outfit and we took "school" pictures to send to the family. I have not done this before but I have found that I miss the regular documentation of change that school photos provide (my oldest two children attended public school through elementary and middle school). It was such a delightful day and a magical way to start the school year. I do hope to make much of it an annual tradition.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Summer Summary

We consider Labor Day to be the final day of summer and, accordingly, we begin formal lessons on the day after Labor Day. As a way of sharing with others and reviewing for our own sake the activities and accomplishments of the summer I am writing a summary of these summer events (and if all goes well I will be including pictures). I acknowledge that it might turn out to be a rather lengthy post but I believe that it will do our family good to see where we have been and what we have done. It might also serve as a way for others to get to know us better.

Library programs attended - up to 5 (Maceo/5; Bishop/4). At the library they created coffee art, learned how to do improv, and learned more about ligers, reptiles, and vultures. Just an interesting tidbit of info: When vultures feast on carcasses they eat until they are entirely stuffed thus inhibiting their ability to fly. This leaves them vulnerable to attack by predators. They defend themselves against these predators by projecting vomit on them. This also empties their stomach allowing them to take to the skies. Fascinating!

Reading Programs participated in - 2. Both Maceo and Bishop participated in the reading programs offered by Barnes and Nobles and our local library. It is through these programs that the boys were able to acquire (for free) 3 of the Percy Jackson and the Olympian books that delighted us throughout most of the summer. We logged more than 100 hours of reading together.

Drama Camps attended - 3. Maceo attended a week-long drama camp at a local church and had a blast making new friends. He also attended 2 sessions of summer institute at our community theatre and each session culminated in a full-fledged production. He was a town crier in Cinderella Kids! and the father wolf in Jungle Book Kids!. Delightful!

Vaction Bible Schools attended - up to 5 different ones were attended at least in part. Some highlights include: one church set up Roman marketplace complete with costumes, marketplace booths, Roman-era projects, and the apostle Paul preaching. Another church ended their VBS with a fireworks show produced by some congregants who have an established business doing such shows. It was fabulous!

Fireworks displays attended - (speaking of, fireworks) 4. Fabulous summer fun!

Zoo programs attended - 2. We discovered that our local zoo offered educational programs at the zoo itself. Bishop participated in 11 hours of activities learning more about the animals and how a zoo operates. Among other things, he was able to speak to various zookeepers and feed the warthogs.

Trips to the fair - 2. Much to my delight Maceo and Bishop decided to enter some items in the fair. Much to their delight they won some ribbons and took home some cash. Also, this was the first year that they were big enough to ride any ride that they desired. Maceo only did the bumper cars. Bishop discovered he loved rides with a little bit of speed. However, he mostly rode the water ride - approximately 24 times.

Auditions attended - 2. Maceo auditioned for Alice in Wonderland Jr at our local community theatre and was cast as a creature and a royal cardsmen. (He is at rehearsal even now as I type). Keegan auditioned for a locally produced independent film and was cast. Some film shooting has taken place. No other details for now.

College credits acquired - 6. Christian studied for and took two CLEP tests, American History 1 and 2. He passed with flying colors and is now studying for the two Western Civilization CLEPS.

Jobs attained - 1. The employment search was arduous but Keegan is now employed as a receptionist at a day spa and salon just down the road.

Birthdays celebrated - 2. I turned 42 and Maceo turned 10.

Husbands who have returned from Iraq - more than I can possibly count, but 1 that is particularly meaningful to this family. DH returned to the United States on August and we look forward to seeing him for his one month block leave.

Other activities include: Keegan organized a creek clean-up that Christian and I, among others participated in; trips to the zoo and Wild Animal Safari; Keegan acquired a new agent and participated in a fashion show; bowling; celebrated the one-room school house at a local farmstead; Maceo and Bishop were on the church float for the 4th of July parade; ceramic painting and glass fusing at a local art studio; the Yugioh Ancient Prophecy sneak peek and Maceo and Bishop's first tournament; swimming at the YMCA and at the community pools; free art day at a local art center; fun in the fountain at the park; family art night at the YMCA; visiting the history museum; harvesting countless tomatoes, serranos, and bell peppers; etc., etc., etc.

I do believe that we accomplished a bit this summer. That is good to know!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Finally Taking the Plunge

So, here I am, finally taking the plunge into the blogosphere. For about five years my husband has attempted to persuade me to write a blog. However, I hesitated because I was intimidated by the process due to the fact that I am largely computer illiterate and because I was uncertain as to what I would write about. But now I have been inspired. In regards to the first matter I was inspired by my 10 year old son who figured out how to begin a blog and add posts, pictures, and you tube videos completely unassisted. The process seemed fairly self-explanatory and if I had any difficulties I could call on my son for a little help. In regards to the second concern, inspiration came from all the bloggers out there. There is such a wide variety of blogs available and I follow many different types - those with urban homesteads, those that discuss politics, those that homeschool and those that simply chronicle the life of a family. With those as inspiration I begin. So, what is the purpose of my blog?
1) To chronicle the life of my family thus allowing me to share daily happenings with family and friends and any others who might be interested. Doing this would also allow our family to reflect back upon our lives much in the same way that journals and scrapbooks do.
2) To clarify my thoughts, prioritize my ideas and to provide some accountability for myself. The process of determining what to write about, to include in my posts, will help me determine what is most important to me. It will sharpen my focus, encourage a more defined vision. I am also hoping that by committing my ideas and plans to print I will be even more motivated to follow through with them. I am a well-intentioned, ambitious at heart, person but often fall incredibly short. Voicing my thoughts and plans to others and believing that someone may be interested in the outcome will encourage me to follow through.
3) To provide inspiration for others. I have been so incredibly inspired by all those bloggers who have shared their lives with me. Is it possible that I could inspire someone?