Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Unexpected Blessings

Summer is winding down and we've been finishing it off and attempting to stay cool with "mint-tea slushies." 

Five "family size" decaf tea bags, 1/2 cup sugar, steep in 1 quart boiling water for five minutes, mix with 3 quarts cold water. Throw some ice in the Rival snow cone maker...pour tea over crushed ice, add a sprig of mint, snipped fresh from the garden. Bam. A southern staple that's sure to make your taste-buds tingle.

Any ideas what arrived in this box? 

That would be curriculum for the Little Man.

He's going through the Sing, Spell, Read, Write Preschool Kit. And in case you can't tell, he's pretty stinkin' pumped about it. 

We started school this past Monday, but I wanted to make it special. My Mom always made the first day of school super special. She'd cover our bedroom door and the walls of the hallway with signs saying "Happy First Day of School!" They'd be plastered with Bible verses and quotes and happy doodles. She always prepared a fabulous breakfast! And our lunches were nothing short of explosions of creativity. Peanut butter and m&m sandwiches, yogurt, pickles, all our favs...notes tucked beneath a piece of fruit, or sometimes something sweet scribbled on a napkin. Mama always added sparkle to what would have been an ordinary lunchmorning, school day.

In an attempt to do something similar, Sunday night after we put Little Bit to bed, the rest of us gathered 'round the table for cookie ice cream sandwiches and a little surprise. (Thank you slice and bake cookies and the last two scoops of vanilla ice cream!-Wrapped and tucked in the freezer for the perfect moment.) 

Actually, it was all a surprise. They thought they were being sent to bed.

The children each got their VERY OWN alarm clock! And they were so funny. I've never seen anyone quite so excited about an alarm clock.

We had talked it up a little. As I thought through this homeschool year, what worked and didn't work last year, my fears looking into an entire year, schooling two with a two year old thrown in the mix - and I don't know why, though I've had SO MANY encourage us in this, those few who have looked me in the eyes and told me we can't do it - well, those comments tend to stick with me longer than all that encouragement. Sad. I know. It just cuts and when I look at all that must be done... I know I cannot do it. Not in my flesh. Suffice it to say - I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Undeniably called, but a little scared. How to make it all work and not lose my mind?!

 We decided to revamp our mornings - and hold the children more responsible. The goal: wake to their own alarm at 7am, make their beds, dress, fix their hair, bring their dirty clothes downstairs, make their own breakfast, load their dirty dishes in the dishwasher...and be in their seats, ready to go by 8am. 

Well...Monday morning, they came downstairs at 5am! A little alarm clock fluke. We've since learned it's not so accurate. (It'll be going back.) So we re-set the alarm. At 7am I could hear the pitter patter of little feet above my head. At 7:05 I heard a chorus of "are we tardy?" By 7:30, my babies were ready to begin. 7:30!! Oh my. That is early. And so we began.

Yesterday they were ready to by 7:15, this morning it was 7:20. We begin by checking off chores, followed by reading scripture aloud, a time of prayer, working on scripture memory, and then catechism. By 8 we're jumping into math. Little Man participates in the lessons - he counts coins in his coin cup, he practices his left and right, he and Sister count to 100 every morning, and just from hearing me drill Sister, he's picking up a few doubles facts...while Sister cranks out her written math work, Little Man labors on his worksheets.

Before 9 we are starting Sing, Spell, Read, and Write. Sister completes her worksheets while Little Man carries on with his. I've given him a few art projects (that are related to his worksheets) to keep his hands busy. Sister is about a month away from completing the SSR&W first grade that time we'll introduce new curriculum and revamp the schedule.

Once Sister completes her worksheets, we do a grammar lesson. That puts us at about 9:30. God has so blessed us with Little Bit's love of sleep! She typically sleeps until 9 and will then play happily until 9:30...which means she is up in time to cuddle in my arms while Sister reads aloud to us. 

Next Sister works on her handwriting...which, until she completes her birthday thank you notes, takes the form of thank you notes. Uh-huh. 

If there is any lag time - when I'm busy with Little Man or say, moving a load of clothes from the washer to the dryer, Sister has an Explode the Code workbook to keep her occupied. I've circled the pages she's to complete over the course of the week. (She also works on this for "homework.")

Once that is finished, we retire to the library where I read aloud to the children and they each get ONE can of play-doh. It keeps their hands busy. (Note the addition of library sconces and some trim...The Engineer is one talented's looking GORGEOUS!!!)

I decided to start the year by reading Mr. Popper's Penguins during our read aloud time. Reading this has made me realize that, should Mrs. Popper be an actual person, her long suffering with her husband's penguins would encourage me very much regarding our beloved Warrior. (I smile.)

We started the book on Monday. We have five pages left. It's Wednesday. We've all been slightly addicted. Even Little Bit.

Perhaps I should say especially Little Bit. 

There you have it...the unexpected blessings of alarm clocks and rising early, of a late sleeping baby...of homeschooling...of children. We are so thankful.

And fyi...I am still ellipticating on average 4-5 mornings a week. I don't think the scale reads any different. I think of Song of Solomon 7:2 where Solomon says, "...your waist is a mound of wheat..." Yep, that about sums it up.

Happy day to you.


  1. Your mint tea slushie sounds delish! So, so happy and rejoicing with you at how the Lord has abundantly blessed the start of your school year!

  2. LOVED reading your post! Davis is going to his first year of preschool a couple days a week this year. What a great idea to make the first day of school so special! So glad I read this before his first day of school. :)

  3. Y'all have got it going on! I can't believe anyone would tell you you can't do it. I think you can do anything! I'm gonna be wanting some of that tea around lunch time tomorrow :)

  4. I love this post! Especially about your schedule- it seems like we have difficulty in that area. Their enthusiasm is such a blessing! Mine have not been very excited about starting back- but you have inspired me to make it a little more exciting for them!

  5. It sounds like you have it all down! It's so great to see your little ones so excited about learning. HOpefully they keep that joy their entire lives!

    Had to smile at your Song of Solomon bit - I've always tee-heed a bit over some of those comparisons over the years. Perhaps, though, it was a good thing to be told that your teeth look like sheep...

  6. This was so encouraging to me as I'm in the middle of colicky newborn phase while trying to figure out how I'm going to start school in 2 weeks with the older two. I feel so incapable. Completely identify with the great way you phrased it: "undeniably called, but a little scared." Clinging on to the reminder "God doesn't call the equipped; He equips the called." You are a great encouragement to me today (along with some great ideas). Thanks for this post!

  7. At what hour do you ellipticate?

    That is my problem!

  8. Sigh... Mr. Popper's Penguins, what a perfect summer read! I making a mental note to start that one with Little Brother asap.

    You have such a joyful, humble way of both giving thanks and glorifying God in your triumphs (and trials). This post just made me smile and blessed my heart. Unexpected blessings, indeed... aren't they the theme of our lives?!

    9:00 a.m. -- Seriously? Wow! Does she nap in the afternoon or go strong all. day. long?!

  9. Loved this post. I am a dork teacher, and loved hearing about your lesson plans, the first day of school, and the excitement that comes with the beginning of school. When I taught second grade, I used to read Mr. Popper's Penguins to my class. Such a fun book! Girl, don't doubt yourself. Remember Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."