Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sister Support

K was having a rough time with her schoolwork. She was just plain frustrated.

There were tears. And there was a definite desire to just quit.

But she stuck with it.

And while she was working, her sister dropped off some encouraging words:

And then there were smiles.

Go Go Sisters.
Go Go Sisters.
They are the best.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Studying Israel

For our study of Israel, we relied heavily on the Kids of Courage activity book. We slowly worked through it as we discussed stories of children in West Bank and Gaza.

The kids and I had a great time learning about the traditional celebrations of the Jewish People. We particularly enjoyed learning about the celebration of Purim. The kids thought it was a fun celebration.

Once again, the two moms who planned our get together out did themselves in every way!

When we arrived, each child was given a name tag with a Hebrew name and its meaning. The moms chose each name specifically thinking of that child.

My children:

K (age 7) - Orli - "My Light"
T (age 5) - Shira - "Song"
D (age 2) - Gur - "Lion Cub"
*we let little sleeping C go without a nametag

Next we had a guest speaker. The pastor at my friend's church, is a Messianic Jew. He brought a variety of things from his Jewish heritage to share with the children.

He blew on a shofar for them! The trumpet makes an amazing sound. It truly gives me the chills! We talked to the kids about how a trumpet will announce the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus, when He comes again!

We talked about the importance of a prayer shawl as well as a keepah, or yamucca. The Keepah is worn to remind the men that they are under the authority of God.

Once again, each child selected a topic in order to give a presentation to the group. Our presentations this time had a different twist. Each child chose their favorite Old Testament bible character. Both of my girls decided to dress as their character.

K (age 7) chose Deborah, the prophetess. Together, she and I acted out the interaction of Deborah and Barak, the commander of the Israelite army.

Here is Deborah sitting by her palm tree, sharing wisdom with God's people. One day she sent for Barak.

He arrived and she told him that God wants him to go deafeat Sisera. Barak said he would only go if Deborah joins him. The very brave Deborah went with him, but God punished him by giving the honor of killing Sisera to a woman, Jael. (who stabs him through the temple with a tent stake while he is sleeping)

Together, Deborah and Barak praise God for victory!

Next, we have Queen Esther...

I happen to think she is a very beautiful queen! T shared with the group the story of Queen Esther's bravery.

Then we rotated to different stations. The first station was the dreidel game. It was fun to learn how to play. I think the girls loved eating their chocolate coins later!

One of the activities in the Kids of Courage activity book suggested making a lightswitch cover that would remind us to pray for an area in Israel. Everytime we used the light for that room, we could pray that God's light would shine on that area.

The girls really enjoyed making these and they put them on switchplates that night with their daddy!

K wrote, "Pray for West Bank."

T wrote, "There is only one true God."

*NOTE. That day, as I napped on the sofa, K conducted a class for T. She helped her make paper ornaments, complete with a hole and ribbon to hang on the tree. I woke from my nap to find ornaments on our tree that said, "Pray for West Bank" and "Pray for Gaza". Precious! May God conintue to remind us to pray for His people as we use our lightswitches AND every year at Christmastime when I get out these ornaments.

Yes, the boys were around too. Mommy had shown up with NO diaper bag for my littlest guy. I dropped off the girls and dashed off to drive 15 minutes BACK HOME to get it. But we made it and he was fed! Having the littlest guy around makes it tough at times, but I have amazing friends who just pitch right in!

And truly, who could resist just loving all over him?

D loves to eat. He spent time playing in the basement and eating upstairs. He loves the fun and excitment all around, but isnt quite ready to jump in with the gang!

After crafts and games? We danced! We learned a Jewish traditional dance, the Hora. It is done in a circle and the girls enjoyed it!

And then we did what we love...we ate! Just look at this beautiful Hallah bread:

...which we were delighted to dip in honey. OK, so mom liked it in honey, but the girls ate it plain. They were still delighted!

A little hummus, pita, applesauce...even D came running to eat again. Though delighted isn't how he looks...so I gave him a graham cracker.

Another great end to the study of God's people!

Some of our literature picks:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kids of Courage

One of our main family goals this year has been learning to love and pray for God's people all over the world! A valuable resource has been the Kids of Courage website and magazines.

We have used the China, India, and Israel (Gaza and West Bank) activity books during our studies and they have been informative, age appropriate and memorable!

Each downloadable activity book/guide is a little different in its set up, but they share basic similarities. They have a brief history of the country, discussions about religion, stories of persecuted families and children, information about language, and activities to make your study of the country a memorable one.

The stories aren't "easy" to hear, but they are told in an age appropriate manner. The activities are fun and created to help you remember to pray for the persecuted church in that country.

I highly recommend these activity guides! We have made use of them to varying degrees whenever we can. My girls still talk about some of the stories we heard and remind me to pray for the people in these countries.

The books have clearly been an effective tool in achieving our family's goal.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baltimore Museum of Art

If you take some children to the art museum for a family fun activity, then they might want a pencil and paper to draw.

And if you teach those children clay techniques...

then they might ask for some clay.

And if you give those children some clay, then they will surely make some sculptures.

And when you get home, they'll probably take over the playroom with their own art museum.

And if you let them have the playroom, then they might take over the piano with their sculpture garden.

And if you let them create this museum, then they'll lay out some rules for your visit.

As you look at this museum all week, it'll probably inspire some more discussion and creation of art. So these children will probably beg to return to the museum.

And while there, if you let them view some masterpieces...

then they might want to create their own...

But I doubt it will stop there.

Because they might learn how Matisse "painted with paper" as he got older.

And they'll probably want to try their hand at that too.

And the whole lot of it will probably end up in your house, filling your mantle and covering your walls.

And probably framed in the basement.

Then you'll know, without a doubt, that you are raising artists.

(The Baltimore Museum of Art offers FREE kids art activities every Sunday from 2-4 PM. The schedule is is listed with a different topic each week. Admission to the museum is also free. I highly encourage anyone located in the area to take advantage of these amazing programs! You'll see us for Cezanne in April.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


One of the complicated parts of homeschooling at this stage is trying to have one on one teaching time with each of the girls. We used to get time during the first hour of D’s (age 2) nap. Unfortunately he has stopped napping and will only play in his crib for an hour.

This means that I have a choice between using that hour to do school with the girls OR putting the girls down for rest time at the same time so that I can rest. At this point, I need the rest time each day so everyone goes to their room for an hour, preferably when C (age 4 months) is napping as well.

Of course, this means that I lose the ability to do math and reading with the girls without distraction. Math is the subject that it is absolutely necessary for me to have some one on one time with K. T (age 5) requires some one on one attention for math and phonics.

I decided that the solution would be to assign one of them to be D’s playmate while I worked with the other. Then they would switch. In order for this to work, their assignment is to “play with D and KEEP HIM HAPPY”. I had to explain to T that this means that if she is playing with a car and he wants it, then she has to give it to him. Just for this time period each day.

I had no clue what a fun solution this would be! T and D had a great time playing cars together without any arguments. She was so proud that she kept him happy and it was clear that they had fun.

K took it upon herself (since she is just like her mommy) to run a preschool for D while I was teaching T. At the end of my 20 minutes with T, she has helped him make five bookmarks with stickers and they were working on shape puzzles. It was clear that they also had a blast together.

I know that every solution will have bad moments and rough days, but I think this is going to be a good thing. The solution will definitely serve its purpose for me, and I think the kids will grow in their relationships with some special one on one time as well!