31 August 2010

I Hope You Dance

So I started to think back about my post last week, Why we love him so. If daddy being home during the week is such a gift to us, does that mean the days without him are not? Of course, not. I began to wonder what God wanted me to learn on the days when daddy was out of town and the girls and I were on our own. I used to dread even just one day without Morgan. There's something so comforting about knowing that your man is home. Today, I can say that I'm much more prepared to go at it alone than I used to be. It definitely helps when I have activities planned and things like school work to keep us busy. Last week, I had a breakthrough moment while Morgan was gone one night. One of those "ah-ha" moments that I wanted to share.

Have you ever been so heck-bent on being a good mom that in the process, you forgot what it was like, just to be you? I'm talking about the God-given, special parts that are unique to only you. The parts that God absolutely wants us to share with our kids, too! For me, I find that the hardest part about being a good parent is "being what we wish our children to be." Everyday, it seems I fall short in some way. On the days when Morgan was gone, my short comings appeared to be more visible. I didn't like that.

I typically tried to be very structured and purposeful on the days when he was gone. My purpose was to get through the day without too much drama. Unfortunately, I'm referring here to "mommy drama." Things always seemed a bit more stressed when our family wasn't whole. Along with stress comes shorter words, a shorter fuse, and just an overall sense of survival, rather than peace and enjoyment.

One thing that's helped quite a bit in our house lately is music. Whenever we have any down time, I turn on some worship tunes as background music. It helps to keep us all in a light and good mood. Last week, I took it a step further. One night when daddy was gone, I cranked up the volume and turned on some of our favorite dance tunes (i.e. Toby Mac). The girls were finishing their dinner but mommy was already dancing in the kitchen. And I'm not talking about that half-hearted little dance we all do when we hear a catchy tune. I'm talking about an all out, uninhibited, "I don't care who's watching" kind of dance. The kind of dancing that moves your soul.

Background: Dance was a very big part of my life growing up. Ever since I was little, dance/cheer/song made up much of my younger years. I danced and cheered my way through the first two years of college before finally hanging it up to focus on my studies. In addition, while we were dating, Morgan and I used to go out dancing with friends almost every weekend. Such FUN times! For me, dancing is the one thing that makes both my heart and spirit soar. It brings me great joy and a feeling of confidence and freedom.

Back to the kitchen... I was lost in my dancing and having a GRAND time. My girls were watching of course and soon, they asked if they could be excused to GET UP and DANCE, too! That's when it happened... the DANCE PARTY in the kitchen began and we lost ourselves in the music for a short while. Soon after, the "ah-ha" moment followed...

Yes, God wants me to be a good teacher, disciplinarian, shepherd, and mom. He also wants me to share with my children the unique parts that make up "me" the person and woman. The parts that make me laugh and smile and bring out great abandonment. God designed each one of us moms to be the perfect match for our kids. He already knew all of our weaknesses yet He still chose us! Amazing!

When Morgan called that night, the first thing the girls told him was, "Daddy, we had a DANCE PARTY and you missed it!" And then it hit me... these are the kind of precious memories that I want my girls to remember. Long after the manners are learned and the sharing is mastered, I want my kids to know not just the mother in me but the real "me." The woman who loves to dance and shake her booty in the kitchen. The one who can have fun on "the spur of the moment." The one who can lose herself (if even just for a little while), to something bigger and greater than herself, her schedule, her chores, or her lists.

Perhaps daddy needed to be gone in order for mommy to "hear" the music again?

Whether it's dance, playing an instrument, crafting, bowling, or horseback riding... whatever that thing is that brings out the heart and soul in you- make sure your children see you doing just that. Hopefully, it's something they can participate in as well. Not because we want them to turn out like us, but because we want them to see what it truly means to live in the moment and be delighted by the simplest of life's joys.

“Dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is another.”
~ Author Unknown

"Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who did not hear the music." ~ Angela Monet

30 August 2010

Balloon Ride & Beach

The Great Park Balloon.

Morgan surveying the safety before boarding.

Here we go!

On top of the world!

Friends.

Cool pic.

Grace having fun running from waves.

Summer beach babes.

Quick family photo.

Me and Grace.

Daddy & Faith.

Faith having a blast!

Sisters!

My sandy little beach bum.

Their seaweed creation.

This was the finale to her seaweed dance.

Enjoying their ice cream treats!

Sharing the goodness.

The Great Park Ballooon is one of the largest tethered helium balloons and the first of its kind here in the U.S. It's a FREE, 8 minute ride up to an altitude of 400 feet. We met some friends at the OC Great Park and after visiting a bit, we all went our seperate ways to enjoy the rest of the day. We ended up going to Laguna Beach and spending what could have been our very last beach day of the summer. Boo-hoo! Thankfully, the sun was out when we got there and stayed out all day. What a spectacular day in Laguna! The weather was beautiful and the kids had so much fun playing in the water. They just kept saying,
"I love the ocean!"


27 August 2010

Faith

"Faith, Do-Eun-na, sis, honey."

She is clever.
She is industrious.
She remembers EVERYTHING.
She holds me accountable.
At 4, she has already figured out my greatest weakness and has kindly asked me to work on it!
She likes new adventures.
She is assertive.
She can duplicate things easily once she's shown how to do something.
She likes to learn.
She can be a little picky when it comes to food.
She is insatiable.
She can be relentless.
She is good at negotiating.
She is well rounded.
She enjoys making up worship songs and singing them at the top of her lungs!
She wants to be in a band when she grows up.
She's the kind of person who needs to try things for herself.
She is wise beyond her years.
She's a good communicator.
She loves to read, draw and build.
She enjoys being challenged.
She doesn't need to sleep with any stuffed animals.
She can be self absorbed at times.
She taught herself how to tie a bow.
She's a plotter and a planner.
She comes up with some great ideas.
Her favorite thing to do with me is bake.
She has the best dimples ever!

She is named appropriately for her strong presence and mark on this world. She keeps this mama on her toes! I am so grateful for the privilege of raising her. She is a blessing and a joy to our lives and I have no doubt that she will one day make an impact for her generation. She's the type of person who may very well learn some lessons the hard way but that's just the way she is.
I used to know a girl who was very much like her and she turned out OK, much to her parents' worry. :)

Here she is doing one of her favorite things, Entertaining Us!

Grace

"Grace, Gracie, Gracie-poo, Do-Hee-ya, sis, honey-pie."

She gives the best hugs.
She is compassionate towards others.
She is sweet beyond words.
Her name perfectly suits her in every way.
She is quite happy being the "baby" and "younger" sister.
She told me that she doesn't want to grow up too fast.
She loves, loves, loves music.
Her best friend is Faith.
She doesn't like to be without her sis.
Her beloved froggy is always close by.
She's always looking out for and thinking about her sister.
She's generous and gives Faith what she wants, even when it's not deserved.
She's good with her letters and counting.
She loves to get up and dance!
She loves soup, just like her mama.
She tells me she loves me several times a day, for no particular reason at all.
She is marvelously content.
She lives in the present and doesn't concern herself with much else.
She's an excellent prayer warrior.
She dreams of getting married and being a mommy someday.
She's a cuddle bug.
She is her daddy's little girl.
She cracks herself up.
She marches to the beat of her own drum and is completely joyful doing it.
She can get easily spooked.
She makes my heart melt.
She's very trusting and easy going.
She loves pink and anything girlie.
She is my gift from God and a daily reminder that His grace was unexpected and undeserved, yet it is the very thing that saved me.

My Grace, in all her PINK and sparkly girlie glory.
Oh, how you bless me so!

house band

Entertaining AND adorable.

25 August 2010

Sonlight

We are so excited about our new homeschool curriculum! Funny, I never thought those words would ever come out of my mouth. Ha! Obviously, I'm so excited that I had to blog about it. Here's the low-down, in detail (it's quite lengthy)...

Aside from our once a week co-op (Tuesdays), I'll be using Sonlight for the rest of my days with the girls. I first heard about Sonlight about a year ago through my good friend, Hailey. Since then, I've been putting off the task of looking for another curriculum. Why? Because the one we use now for our co-op is fine until Kindergarten. Truthfully, there are so many curriculum choices out there for homeschooling families nowadays; it can get a little overwhelming if you let it. Here's what became my "un-official" strategy-- and when I say un-official, what I really mean is that I had no strategy at all. In my "no hurry" approach,
I waited to hear what other moms were doing, what they liked, what they didn't like, and what worked for them. My original goal was to plan out lessons for each day, using our existing co-op curriculum. Thankfully, although we used the same curriculum last year, there are still plenty of options and activities to choose from. I was completely fine with notion of repeating some of them.

The only thing I wasn't looking forward to about that process... all the pre-planning that's involved each week/day. A couple of weeks ago, before I started the daunting task of planning the girls' lessons, I was prompted by initiative and curiosity (and I'd like to think, the Holy Spirit), to investigate Sonlight's website. Once I read about their educational philosophy and goals,
I was hooked! Talk about fantastic timing, too! I hadn't planned a single lesson.

Before I got too ahead of myself, I asked Morgan to do his own research and tell me what he thought. Later that day, we both agreed that this "new way of learning" would be a great place to start with our girls and we didn't need to wait until they reached Kindergarten to begin. Sonlight, compared to other curriculums is considered to be "luxury" in price. Since we're a pretty frugal family and we weren't planning on buying a new curriculum this year anyway, we quickly checked on Ebay to look for any marked-down curriculum. SCORE! We found the one we wanted for about $100 cheaper than we would've paid retail. Granted it is a few years old now but we didn't mind. All the books are practially the same as this year's edition anyway and the teacher's guide was also included!

Here's the main reason why we chose Sonlight...

Unlike most curriculum's out there, Sonlight is a literature-based, liberal arts, Christian worldview approach to home education (Hello.... I have a minor in English and Literature was one of my favorite subjects so this is right up my alley!). Sonlight's "secret" really comes down to this: they believe that most children respond more positively to great literature than they do to textbooks (I know I sure do!). Books, quality books, can distill the wisdom of an entire life into the span of a few pages. They can feed us with spiritual insight beyond imagination. Whether written by Christians or non- Christians, great books help us to develop critical thinking skills. They cause us to question the validity of our own values and beliefs in light of the author's perspective. These benefits of great literature have inspired Sonlight to build their curriculum on quality books that present content in a highly engaging fashion. Once a good book grabs the child's attention, the educational process becomes relatively painless— because the child will actually want to read!

One of the best experiences and memories I have of this summer is the time I spent reading and visiting our local library with the girls. We checked out about 10 books at a time and enjoyed looking for new treasures every two weeks. We probably read over 50 new books as well as a few chapter books this summer. Reading with my girls is definitely one of my favorite bonding experiences with them so it was quite easy for me to fall in love with the idea of making great literature the core of our homeschool curriculum. An additional selling point for me? All the lessons and books are pre-planned! Ok, that's huge. This saves me precious time. Time that I'd rather be reading with or connecting with my children. I also love the fact that Sonlight helps me engage my kids in a deep conversation. It forces me to talk WITH them and not AT them. Basically, it's a new, "non-traditional" way of learning. Something most of us are not accustomed to.

Why am I writing this post in detail? 1. Because I'm so excited that this works for us! It's a great match for our family. 2. I hope to encourage others who love to read and are looking for a hs curriculum. Sonlight does not claim to be a "one size fits all." In fact, they also list in their free catalog, 27 reasons to buy or NOT to buy Sonlight. As far as the cost, it's still much cheaper than sending our kids to private school (which btw, we wouldn't do, even if we had the excess money). I love that I can buy one curriculum and use it for both my girls. It's like getting 2 for 1!

We have no idea how long we will use Sonlight but for right now, it's such an excellent fit. On our official "box day" we were so excited that we completed 2 days worth of material. The girls loved it!

Some other reasons why Sonlight works for us...
*we can curl up on the couch or go to the park to read aloud to do school.
*it is a Christian curriculum that isn't afraid to challenge your assumptions by raising controversial issues.
*we can learn about cultures and history from all over the world, not just North America.
*it creates precious bonding time and moments where I can engage my children. Priceless!
*
Daddy can easily pick up where mommy left off!
*I love the fact that we are building a family library with great books to treasure and read over and over again.

Checking out all their new books on Box Day!


Reading is FUN!

Lastly, "Sonlight aims to create within students a genuine inquisitive spirit and love of learning more than to teach them a specific set of facts that their peers may learn in another curriculum or school environment. Far better, to lack a few facts and love to learn than to have "all the right information" and hate the learning process." So true. I wish I was taught this way!

As mom, we know our kids best. Sonlight may not be for everyone but that's the beauty of homeschooling isn't it? Every family looks different and that's perfectly ok.

24 August 2010

Week 3 School

Hooray for Pre-K!

Saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

3 things she's thankful for: her family, butterflies and the sun.

Working on English and writing skills.

Grace, hard at work.

Decorated their pencil boxes.

Story time- this was the best I could do to fit us all in.

Viv & Grace.

Look at that concentration! Working on fine motor skills.

Faith making her Emergency Phone Number necklace.

Viv's all done with hers.

They all have their daddy's cell phone # on them.

My adorable students.

Dog pile!

It's becoming a school tradition.

Lunch time: homemade mac & cheese- yum!

Princess Vivien.

All done!

"May I have more please?"

Faith washing her own dishes.

Math- counting to 50.

So proud of Grace for getting the SuperStar Student Award today!

It was my week to teach our co-op today and the day went as well as I could have hoped for! The kids have all grown so much throughout the summer and it was fun to see their development from last year. Funny, they are much more grounded at the ripe age of 4. :)

Our main activity and story today revolved around the concept of "The Lost Get Found." We talked about the lost sheep and how Jesus left the rest of His flock, just to find that one lost sheep and how He will never leave us or forsake us. We also talked about getting lost in crowded public places like amusements parks, fairs, parades, etc. We made our emergency phone number necklaces and then we role played the situation and went over how to ask someone for help.

The kids had homemade mac and cheese, nectarines, and carrots for lunch. Everyone enjoyed it and not a bite was left on their plates. Viv & Grace even asked for seconds. Gotta love the nutritious and delicious meals during co-op!

So far, I think I'll enjoy teaching more this year. I've learned to be less hurried,
I take my time, I'm easier on myself, and I'm learning to enjoy and be present in the moment. Like today, I thought I'd have plenty of time to get through my lesson plan but we ended up with one last science project that we didn't get to complete. Oh well, next time. We sure had a blast though! Thank you, LORD for little victories!

*Here's a short video from today's worship time.*

video

Week 2 School

Science project- blowing bubbles in water.

Blowing bubbles in milk.

The kids made sponge balls and got to play with them outside.

Just a few pictures from Shannon's week of teaching co-op. I love the fact that they can make something and then immediately afterwards, go and play with it. In this case, it was a nice way to cool off on a HOT day.

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