Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Finding God in a Name

     Do you have a name and theme verse for your homeschool? For years I’ve been pursuing a Biblically strong spiritual name to reflect our goals in homeschooling. Indecisively, I gave up the venture. Then last spring the idea resurfaced. Ordering books from a new company asking for our school name, I once again took up the challenge. This time I presented some ideas to dh and the children, who unanimously disagreed with my ideas…and unanimously agreed with each other. Our school, they decided, had to be named after me. Flabbergasted, I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting their school named "Laurie Academy." They clarified that it should have something to do with my screen name, lahbluebonnet. Hence, we came up with Bluebonnet Ridge Academy.

     Isn’t that an inviting name for a school? Can’t you just imagine a one-room school house in a field of bluebonnets, amongst the live oaks near a rippling brook? Actually, in a semblance of having that flavor, we do have oak trees planted in the last 7 years that are now getting taller than our house. We do have a steep hill in our backyard, perfect for growing bluebonnets. I used to have lots of bluebonnets back there, but I aggressively weeded them out one summer. Although I’ve scattered seeds in the autumn, dry weather and thick mulch has not allowed them opportunity to grow. So this year I am determined to get more seeds, move the mulch and water them myself. Hopefully, our home will look like Bluebonnet Ridge Academy next spring.

     Often my neglect in the outdoor garden is a result of my work in the garden of my children’s hearts. (Homeschooling takes a lot of time doesn’t it?) More important than any external appearance, is the planting, watering, nourishing and weeding that I am doing in my children. I am often humbled by the beautiful fruit I see in my children’s lives. Before gardening with them, I must go to the Master Gardener myself. Coming to the garden early each morning to be in His presence nourishes my own soul, so that I can hopefully be His servant throughout the day. Sometimes, the early morning is not available. How wonderful is our God, to be available throughout the day, at any time, to enter His presence. Especially with babies and toddlers, I did not know how I’d find the time. So I’d ask God to provide a quiet time with Him sometime in the day. Amazingly, He always provided a few minutes here or a few minutes there; it was I who was not always faithful to take advantage of those opportunities.

     Ultimately, my children are safe in God’s hands. He is always there. I cannot be. My job is to follow God’s leading, to provide for them, to teach them in the way they should go, to love them and nourish them. I pray Luke 2:52 over them daily, praying over each aspect of their lives: mental, physical, spiritual and social. I lay our needs at the feet of Jesus, and ask for wisdom which direction we go whether it be curriculum, what to teach in morning devotions, how to train a weak spot in their lives, how to point them to God, how to choose friends… When I don’t do these things, I am weak, and everything falls apart. Only with God first do we find direction. Then I approach my husband with the things the Lord has impressed me with. Amazingly, because I sought God my heart is changed from what I first thought, and when I present to my husband, sometimes his heart has changed too. God works in powerful ways.

     Though I may have been indecisive over the years in regard to our school name, I feel the Lord has consistently impressed me with our theme verse: Philippians 2:14-18. "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life-in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing."

     No complaining or arguing…that’s a good reminder for children…hmmmm, me too! I’ve never been good as a teacher establishing educational goals. What if my goal is too low for that child? My personal goal has been to guide and lead a child to reach for the highest star…so I’ve always found this verse fascinating. Before having my own children, I worked with many students of mixed abilities and it was sheer joy to see them improve over the year. My own children were diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder and received special services until age 3, when they were to be moved to special ed classes in public school. The specialists insisted my children would always struggle and I should never homeschool, only the public school could provide. Well I taught in public school for 6 years and I know what happens to special ed kids, bless their hearts. Our pediatrician, Dr. Habel, was the only one who even suggested that I homeschool. It was like he already knew. I took that encouragement and ran…like Paul mentioned. I am running the race, homeschooling my children, looking to God for guidance. And I am sure you would not be surprised to hear that they have far surpassed anything I saw in the public schools for special ed kids.

     In the last week, stars make me laugh as well. Last week a friend of mine visited, who is new to Texas and she commented that she sees stars everywhere! She even found them all over our schoolroom! I laughed and said there are 3 more in a shopping bag. I haven’t hung them in the schoolroom yet because they are buried under the autumn purchases, the unit celebration purchases, and the new bathroom remodel purchases! So how neat, bluebonnets and lone stars are our theme! And they are visual reminders to us of where God is taking us! Trusting Him for an abundant harvest in the work we put into our children…


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lessons from a Pumpkin

This weekend we did our traditional pumpkin carving. Assimilating an assortment of various Bible lessons in the past, the children have researched a collection of verses to tell a story with the pumpkin, prompted by a take-home activity paper they brought home from Sunday School.

The yucky sticky pulp represents sin. Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."



Heart shaped eyes, to see God’s love. Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."



A cross shaped nose, to remind us that Jesus died for our sins. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."



Fish shaped mouth (there are two of the Christian fish symbols…the tails are in the middle…ds drew them on for me to carve). These are to remind us to tell others the gospel story. Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."



Bible shaped ears, to remind us to listen to God’s Word and to apply it to our lives. Romans 10:17 "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."



Then we put a candle inside the pumpkin to enjoy a lovely glow. This reminds us of Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."



Finally, we clean off the pumpkin seeds, dry them and fry them. While munching on the seeds, we are reminded that we as Christians are to bear fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Think I Can, I Think I Can, Choo-Choo Quilt and Bedroom


Here is the third quilt I have ever made. My son has grown up adoring trains.  I looked in vain for the perfect train pattern to quilt.  Finally, I made my own design.  This is machine appliqued and quilted so it can take lots of using and washing!



Close up...



I got my inspiration from the walls I had painted a few years earlier. It's very simply painted, not professional by any means, but fun and whimsical for a child. My son, who loved trains when he was a toddler, got trains puffing their way through the Colorado Rockies!  This was my very first wall mural.  I was originally inspired to do this when I saw Matt and Sheri, from Room by Room, do this on HGTV.  They did a race car mural in a boy's room and Sheri showed how she used a children's book for inspiration.  For my son's walls, I used pictures from Colorado from our vacation, and train pictures from children's books.  I used his foam block set to trace basic shapes in pencil on the wall and I painted over that. That is the snow covered Pikes Peak behind the bulletin board.



I sewed a simple valence over his window...



In each corner on each side of his bed I painted tunnels.  Going in...



Coming out...



I painted trains on his pillow case and sheets.  I found an iron-on template and painted that.  You can see the border of the pillow here.  I painted the purple mountain majesties over his bed...



His choo choo knick knack and tropy wall.  The railroad crossing sign is a growth chart...



My husband built the shelf in the photo above.  He made an engine coming out and caboose going in.  Here's the engine coming out...



And here's the caboose going in...



Goodbye! Chug-chug-chug-chug, chug-chug-chug...whoo-whoo!

Monday, October 22, 2007

From My San Antonio, Texas Garden Summer 2007

The first wintery blast of the season arrived last night. Here's a look at a few hardy blooms that survived the blast:

Blue Plumbago...



An antique rose...



And yet another antique rose...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Duffel Bags

I decided to make duffel bags for the kids for our trip to Colorado. They were wonderful. They are colorful, durable, roomy, easy to haul around, and most fabulous, they are easy to squish into nooks and crannies of the van! Tigger likes it too!



The next photo shows how I made this. I bought 54" wide decorator fabric (because it's wide and easy to find durable fabric) on sale, in a pattern each of my kids like. For my son, there was nothing boyish to be found, so I bought a solid navy blue and painted the baseballs on.I sewed it so that the wide part opens. It hooks up with velcro that I sewed on. Done!



Time for another trip...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Happy Birthday on the Landa Park Express!

Sunday was my son's 12th birthday!  We have a tradition of taking him to Landa Park in New Braunfels, Texas for his birthday. (By the way, the elementary school where I student taught is in view of the park.) DS grew up loving trains, and this park has a wonderful train ride around the lovely park.  DH told the train conductor it was ds's birthday and he got a free ride!  When he grows up, he'd love to get a job as the train conductor here!



After a picnic lunch and train ride, we headed for the springs.  There aren't a lot of springs in TX.  But in central Texas, an ancient earthquake left huge changes.  Numerous springs from Austin to San Antonio pump water from an aquifer.  This is how we get our water supply, so we watch the aquifer levels daily.  During drought, I have seen these springs dried up.  Heavy rains this summer has caused the springs to flow in abundance this year.  These are the Comal Springs.  They become a stream, emptying into a small lake, which then becomes the Comal River.  At this juncture of the springs, the earthquake left miles to the gulf coast to our south, called the Blackland Prairie.  To our immediate north begins the Hill Country.



Look how crystal clear the water is...


Looking towards the springs...



Further upstream looking towards the springs...



Looking upstream....

 

We usually have a science lesson here, talking about the springs and their formation.  I wasn't even thinking of doing that, since I was so busy taking pictures.  But ds started asking me about specific details, pointing to the diagrams on the signboards.  I told him I have tons of material on the subject at home that we could incorporate into his science lessons.  He's excited about that!  See the paddleboat out there on the lake?



We all got on the same paddle boat and the guys did the paddling.  I had to work at not falling out while I tried to keep my balance and take pictures (I have only 1 balance nerve because of previous head surgery....makes life interesting at times!)

Can anyone identify this fruit????



Turtles sunbathing...



Another sunbather....



Fine feathered friends coming to greet us...



The train...


You can see the play area in the spring fed pool where the water is a constant 68-72 degrees year round...


The first hill of the hill country up ahead...


Impermeable limestone is solid limestone, like in our backyard.  No water from our backyard can seep into the aquifer, even though our house sits on top of the aquifer.

This is permeable limestone that makes up the ground in the recharge zone.  When it rains, water drips through those cracks where it is purified by the time it reaches the underground aquifer.


The lake becomes a river again...you can see the water spilling over the banks...


Looking at the edge of the park at the dam...


Further down river, families often tube....something we've not done yet!  This is the Comal River, the shortest river in Texas.


Giant oak...bet you never thought Texas had trees and water!  I don't know how many people I've met who thought that all of Texas looked like the cowboy movies! 

  

Friday, October 12, 2007

Flying W Ranch

Update: On June 26, 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed this lovely and fun place.  Please read through this post to see what was lost, then check the link below to see and possibly help the rebuilding effort.  Thanks! 
We decided to save the Flying W Ranch for the last bang of our summer vacation! This would be our third opportunity to visit. Before the cowboy dinner starts, we have about an hour to check out the town. There are lots of cute shops and we usually find something neat to take home. We got a few CD's to take home. 

Then we enjoy a cowboy dinner, followed by family friendly entertainment.

Here is the parking lot with cowboys to show us where to park…



Here is the Summer House (it's that dark tunnel up ahead)….this is an important place…remember this for later…



Pretty flowers…



Not sure what this one is…



Trying to obey the sign…



Peaceful spot…



They must be proud of their beef…



Christian bookstore…



Pre-dinner sample of homemade biscuit and honey…



Chapel…



I’ve been looking for them…



Cooking up some grub…



Pretty flowers…

 

On the way to the train ride, we followed a lady up the hill telling her granddaughter "NO" she was "NOT" going to climb 50 stairs to the top of the mountain (dh and I were telling our kids the same thing; our thighs were still burning from Seven Falls that morning-lol). We had to laugh and while waiting in line for the train, told her about Seven Falls. She decided to skip that spot...too many stairs! We also told her about Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey and she was extremely interested in taking their granddaughter there. In the meantime, ds kept talking her ears off. She finally asked if my daughter ever gets a chance to speak! The first time we came to Flying W, a lady asked if I had a screw in ds’s back to wind him up!

Well, finally our turn for the train ride. We go through a tunnel…



And oh no, the sign says, "Watch for Train Robbers!"



Could that be one of those rascally varmints standing against the red rock up ahead?



No, that’s just dh. He said a lot of people came by thinking he was one of the train robbers as part of an act. Then he’d smile at them and then they thought he was one of the Wranglers and asked for directions.



Oh, those must be the train robbers…



Another sign…remember the Summer House in the parking lot????



During dinner a neat Christian family sat next to me and we had a wonderful time talking. She used to sew for one of the cute shops in Old Colorado City we had been to the day before.

After dinner the show started. The night was getting nippy. ime to put on my brand new jacket to keep me warm under the stars and funny entertainment and cowboy music. What a way to end our vacation!