Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How We Start Our School Day with Devotions

     As many other homeschoolers do, we start our day with the salute to the flags (American and Texan) and then devotions. This has been the most fun to our day…spiritually rewarding, interesting and fun! We’ve been known to get so immersed in our Bible study, that we forget the time and realize we should be in the middle of math!

    When my children were toddlers, my son was very sick and we did not go to church anymore. I bought the Betty Lukens flannelgraph set and proceeded to use that to teach Bible stories to my children. I’d start with the first story of the Old Testament, gradually working our way through the Bible, trying to work in the Christmas and Easter story seasonally. Of course, Noah’s Ark was one of our first stories. While Noah and his family were rocking around with the animals on stormy seas, I spent time on that point. We talked about how we got scared during thunderstorms and tornado warnings (at the time we lived in the middle of tornado alley). We talked about how Noah and his family must have felt. We talked about how God had not abandoned them. God used that story, and a small German print of an angel helping 2 children safely cross a bridge during a storm, to teach my 3yod to trust God during a storm. Our nighttime wakings to calm our children during storms had ended.

     In the last couple of years, I put away the flannelgraph, since I felt my children were ready for more meat. They get excellent Bible teaching at our church, and they were ready for this next step. About that time, we began a classical study of Ancient History which included reading nearly the entire Bible. I let my 10yo son and 12 yo daughter listen to an audio Bible as they read along. As we read about the different ancient cultures in the Bible, along with God's truths, we studied more deeply about each of those cultures, while also reading literature, art projects, map work and science projects about those same cultures. We also watched Ray Vander Laan videos about the Bible. Learning everything in context allowed our understanding of the Bible to exploded.
As we progress through history from the Middle Ages to the present, I plan to pick one of Paul’s letters in the apparent order that he wrote them to the various churches. So far we have studied Galatians, I and II Thessalonians, James and I Corinthians. Sometimes we spend time on one verse and other times we take a quick survey through a chapter, depending on how the Spirit leads us. 14yod had just completed James in her Sunday School class when we started James, but to her surprise, there were some new points that I had been taught over the years that were new to her. In turn, she shared some of her excellent notes on what she had been taught in class. She asked if she could write notes on the white board to share some of what Mr. K had taught in James. That was a thrill to have dd teach/share during our devotions.

     When newletters from various missionaries come through the e-mail, I save them for our devotions. Yesterday morning we got a tour through Thessalonika from a missionary couple, whom my children got to meet a year ago. The missionary influence is huge in our church, so my children are used to that. But to have been invited to share a dinner as this missionary couple were passing through our town last year, was novel to our children.

     We always end with a hymn. Last year when we did the Ancients, I pulled Scripture and a weekly hymn that would point us to what God had to say in view of the week’s study of the culture. For example, when learning about the blood-letting Mayans, we studied verses about the necessity of the blood of Christ to save us from our sins. That was followed by a hymn, such as "Are You Washed in the Blood?" I had always taken verses and hymns on Christ shedding His blood for granted. Juxtaposing Christ’s work with the Mayans’ pointless blood-letting, allowed me to see Christ’s effective work for me in a more meaningful way.

     This year, since we have been studying Church history, we have been pulling out hymns from the Middle Ages to learn. Some we already knew, we just didn’t realize the origins! We are using Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories by Robert J. Morgan. In glancing ahead, I have seen that it doesn’t tell the entire story of the poignant hymn, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Nevertheless, this book lists the hymns sequentially so that is a good starting off point, which can lead to further research.

     Now that Christmas is nearing, we are using a book I purchased a couple of years ago, Come Let Us Adore Him: Stories Behind the Most Cherished Christmas Hymns by Robert J. Morgan…These are also listed sequentially. We started yesterday and I am turning it into a guessing game. If the song is known, I think I’ll read the story behind it and then play the notes and have them name that tune! Today’s tune was unknown, but I knew they could figure out the composer. I gave the year and then played the tune. We talked about how it’s not a familiar tune. Nevertheless ds noted there were elements to the tune that reminded him of "A Mighty Fortress is our God" and guessed Martin Luther! Correct!
Later note: In 2009 while studying the 20th century, we watched Chariots of Fire, about Eric Liddell to refused to run in the 1924 Paris Olympics on a Sunday.  He later became a missionary to China, during which time the Japanese invaded and he became imprisoned. Liddell died shortly before liberation. While in China, he wrote a devotional which was first published about the time of the release of Chariots of Fire. I found that book and we used it as a devotional for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Master Bathroom Remodel

My husband finished remodeling our bathroom! 

Panning around with my camera, here's the shower that he tiled. He also installed new bronze shower hardware...

Here's the shower curtain.  I was going to buy some sheets to make this, but decided to special order it ready made.  I am shocked at how short it is!  Hmmmmm, one of these days I think I'll drive dh nuts and sew a little black gingham below the toile!  oo-la-la  ;)

 DH didn't want typical bathroom rugs...so I found these chenille rugs.  They are so soft and cozy on the bare feet!

See the bathroom scale in the upper right corner of the picture above?  DH wanted a new bathroom scale, one that talks!  Well, I didn't find one of those...but this one should keep him busy...it displays not only weight, but also...well, the instructions don't make any sense to me...what does the box say?  Let's see, it also measures body water!  And it even has an athlete mode for highly fit individuals.  It also has a terrific memory, storing data for up to 6 people!  DH and DS had sooooo much fun setting it up!  

He also retiled the floor.

Here's the vanity. There used to be one giant wall mirror, but we had no medicine cabinets. There are now medicine cabinets behind each mirror.  He put up the new lighting, changing out the old hollywood lights. Also, we always had this long countertop, but only one sink. We now have one sink. Then my husband painted the cabinet and put on new bronze hardware. Also we put in the new granite looking countertop, which is actually laminate. 

Here's the new cabinet he built for me. I thought this would be a good place for extra storage in pretty containters.  It was unused space before. I changed my mind on a lot of stuff to put here.  This will be a work in progress. 

Monday, November 19, 2007

Coat of Arms, Bow and Arrow and more projects for the Middle Ages

My 12 year old son made a coat of arms, shown below. We did a lot of research on-line, without much definitive direction. I suggested to my son that he divide the shield into fourths, with one set of opposite corners representing his father's surname and the other set of opposite corners representing my maiden name. I've heard that my husband's last name is Irish and means fisherman, so I suggested shamrocks and fish in whatever style my son deemed best, based on his research of looking at other coat of arms.  My family name is German and extremely complicated.  My dad told me that it was actually longer at one time and is now simplified.  That is funny, because my maiden name was a never ending source of frustration because no one can spell it or pronounce it! I told my son to create his own symbols for the rest of the crest.

My son wanted to be Robin Hood and had strong ideas about the costume. He let me make his clothing and hat. He insisted on boots that we can't afford for rapidly growing feet, so he made the boots himself. I thought it would be impossible but here they are! (Future note: He later wore these with different military costumes (and here) and looked pretty good! Then he told one of the Colonial Williamsburg shoemakers how he made them and they said that is basically how they make some versions of boots too, then they got a pair to show him!)
He also insisted on a bow and arrow which he made. When we studied Texas history we had learned how the Native Americans of Northeast Texas were master craftsmen of bows because of the bois de arc wood. Their prized bows made them traders throughout the land. My son really wanted some bois de arc wood but I told him we couldn't source any from San Antonio. He settled on a certain twig from my crepe myrtle and created his own bow and arrow, which he is wearing. 

I read in some Medieval Feast scripts that the participants collected food for the poor. I have no idea how historically accurate that is, but it is certainly a nice touch in memory of all the poor people Robin Hood tried to help.  This is especially nice when done near Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Medieval Feast Dialectic History Presentation

In our study of the Middle Ages we relived adventures of famous men such as King Arthur, Robin Hood and Marco Polo.  We learned about St. Patrick, Charlemagne, and the murder of Thomas A Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Our imaginations soared with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Beowulf, and Canterbury Tales.  We imagined ourselves in other lands while learning about Camelot, the search for the Holy Grail, and the broken note of the Trumpeter of Krakow.  These are the books that transported us to another time...

 Here are some of the art projects.  At the bottom of the window sill, are the salt dough maps of Europe. In between is 12yos stained glass of a fish.  In the middle of the window are the illuminated manuscripts.

Here is the coat of arms 12yos made.  The shamrocks and fish are apparently accurate for our family name. My family name is German and extremely complicated. My dad told me that it was actually longer at one time and is now simplified. That is funny, because my maiden name was a never ending source of frustration because no one can spell it or pronounce it! So ds made up his own symbols for the rest of the crest.

Here is the stained glass I helped 14yod make out of black poster board and tissue paper.  She chose flowers from Colorado:  columbine, Indian paintbrush, and black eyed susan.

Here is the table...

Lady C....

Ye olde pardoned outlaw Robin Hood (he will be the surveyor of ceremonies...)  He made the boots himself and got them done in the nick of time!  He also made a bow and arrow which are under his cloak...

The kids found more books that we had read. Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known that we read a lot of books!

The royal family...

Our guests finally arrived and because their name is German, I put "von" between Dad's first and last name to be more authentic, and the surveyor announced they were from the Holy Roman Empire.  DS had the best time blowing the horn...

Then dd did a history of Thanksgiving, which goes back to the High Middle Ages.  She also read a prayer of thanksgiving.  She also read the manners of the times which brought many laughs.Then she collected food for the poor...

Then began the wassail ceremony where we learned the derivatin of the word (Anglo Saxon "weshal" for "to be in good health"), sang "Here we go a'wassailing" and gave many "Wassail, wassail!  Drink to your health!"  Here's what was left of the wassail after the first round of drinks!

Then we had the presentation of the salt, where dd put the saltcellar before the king (her dad, he's not one to dress up).  Then she explained the significance in rank with the salt...to be above the salt is to have high rank, whereas the others below the salt...Here's the saltcellar...

Then we had the upper crust ceremony.  I cut the bread in half horizontally and presented the upper crust to our guests while dd explained the significance....honored ones are the upper crust.

Then dd passed around the aquamanile, which was full of water, herbs, rose petals, and orange rinds for us to wash our hands.  DS then came around with a towel...

Then we had the presentation of the soup of fungi and leek in pumpkin shell.  Then we had  the presentation of the salad.  (A medieval feast is about entertainment and presentations, not so much the eating...)  Then we had the presentation of roasted peacock...

Then we had the presentation of ye olde exotic and rare sauces and garnishes.  Here's everything...

After eating, we began the entertainment.  My kids were not interested in learning juggling, acrobats, or other feats of entertainment, so I had them read a selection of their papers, all 5 paragraph essays.  They do the same writing assignments, so we picked one of each topic on the Middle Ages, and then decided who would read which. They took turns and I finally had to read for dd, who was recovering from a sore throat.  DD read a paper on St. Patrick, then ds read his on Charlemagne, then I read dd's on King Alfred, then ds read his on Codes of Chivalry, then dd read hers on Marco Polo.   

Then it was time for the presentation of Castle Pie.  DS made the grand announcement with his trumpet, dd brought it to the table, then we read "Sing a song of sixpence..."  Then dd had me present the pie.  We look as though we are praying for this to work! Are ye ready?

I lifted the crust and lo and behold what was in there but...

singing and moving birds! I was trying to discreetly tuck the aluminum foil under the crust earlier in the day and they are motion activated and would keep chirping every time I touched the crust. I didn't want dh to know about these. It was a big surprise of course, but he's also been eyeing them in one of our favorite shopping towns. I could never think of a use for them until the idea of this pie came up! Now that it was time for them to sing, I had to wave my hands to get them going! The other birds are marzipan that I had made for us to eat.  I had meant for the kids to make these but they got sick this week, leaving me to do a lot of cooking! Thankfully, they were well enough to do the feast!

After dessert, we sang some hymns written during the Middle Ages. DD read a brief history then we'd sing. She only got through the first one then needed me to read the rest while she drank soothing wassail!  We sang "Be Thou My Vision", "All Glory, Laud and Honor" and "All Creatures of Our God and King". DS got the birds to chirp during the last hymn.

Finally ds closed with a final trumpet call and announced,

"Farewell, farewell to one and all

Tis time to leave this festive hall

Remember this day, the one true Son

He is the Christ, the Risen One

And as you leave be merry and bright

Remember to spread God's glorious light!" 

Next week our history studies begin the Renaissance and Reformation.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Son the Shoemaker

DS has been insistent that his Robin Hood character have boots.  At Jo Ann we found leather looking material in the clearance bin.  So we bought it.  I only had one idea of how to make an idea of a boot.  DS wanted the real McCoy!  There is no way I  can fathom trying to make real boots for him! I have enough with everything else to help the kids pull off this Medieval Feast!  I told ds that in the real world, apprentices work for years to learn to make boots.  Undaunted, he undertook the project on his own, after a few ideas from me.  This way he is happy because now he understands the difficulties that lie in making boots, yet they'll be made to his level of acceptance! 

Here is my young determined shoemaker.  Where does he get this drive to do the impossible???? 

Monday, November 5, 2007

Enchanted Rock with the Awana Club

Saturday we drove out to the hill country to climb up the batholith of an old volcano with the teens in my 14yod Awana Club. Called Enchanted Rock by the Indians and early settlers because of strange spooky noises at night, we now know this is merely a result of this granite hill cooling off at night after  daytime heating. Although this hill that we climbed is a mere 1825' above sea level, it is a sharp ascent with a steep, immediate, thigh-burning 300' elevation climb. 

The Indians used this hill as a vantage point...

Finally, the view from the top...

We had to climb down a little bit on the other side to get to the caves under these rocks. The teens spent quite a bit of time climbing and exploring...

These huge lizards were playing all over the rocks too...

Finally, heading down to a hiking trail...

After a picnic the group played tag football.  12yos intensely dislikes football.  But when he found out I played a little flag football in jr. high PE, he couldn't be outdone by Mom.  So he played.  I like how the Awana leader of the teen game time (who led the football playing that day) includes everyone.  Even 12yos got a few moments to carry the ball and play quarterback and kick the ball.  He never gets to do that in the lower club!