birds, boys, and some blooms

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We all have days sometimes, where we wake up just needing a lift. Every day, really, we need the lift that out morning quiet time can provide. Yesterday, I was distractedly trying to focus on my own personal quiet time, with the knowledge that three little boys were tromping outside in the field, doing something. I often allow them to go out individually, or with me, for a morning nature walk, and I think these times are invaluable for what they observe, but to have all three out there together? I just wondered how much nature they’d be observing, and how much chattering would be taking place. However, with a few peeks outside to be sure they were at least walking and not running, I prayed a prayer that the Lord would lead them to focus on the beauties of His creation and take something back that would stay with them. Then, I left it with Him.

Soon, I heard chatter outside in the front flower garden, then three big smiles poked through the door, complete with handfuls of a whole variety of wild and cultivated flowers. The boys were so excited to share all of their treasures from nature, and I inwardly thanked God that He had indeed impressed them with the beauty of His works. And, as a side benefit, I was truly encouraged and uplifted by the pretty flowers. 🙂

Later in the afternoon, while doing some outside work, Action A almost stepped on the first of the Chickadee fledglings that had just launched. We all dropped everything to watch for awhile, as Mama Chickadee worked so hard to try to woo her other stubborn and scared babies out of the house. Nothing doing. She must have worked for several hours, taking a seed or worm in, teasing them with it, then quickly hopping out to the big outside world. We never did see any babies come out, but I could see three more in the nest, plus the two or three that had been brave enough to try their wings and fly. I’m so glad that we got to witness the almost first flights of those little babies. We’d been watching for weeks as the parents made their nest in the bird house that Daddy and Action A made, then for a good week, we’ve witnessed the Mama and Daddy feeding the little babies. So faithfully–seemingly every ten minutes or so for what appeared to us to be all day, those parents faithfully brought worms, seeds, and other goodies. I thought it was a good parenting lesson in patience and care.

We’ve really been blessed this year with the bird families. The Chickadee family right outside of the dining room window, the Eastern Bluebirds outside across from the kitchen window, two ugly/cute little fledgling Tufted Titmouse babies, and yesterday we discovered a family-in-the-making of Northern Mockingbirds right outside the front door. The boys noticed the nest first, with only one egg in it. We thought it had been abandoned. Just for fun, a couple of days later, we looked again–this time there were four eggs! I took a picture yesterday morning, and by the afternoon, the eggs had been rearranged, then rearranged again this morning. Well, this afternoon when we looked, the “different” egg–we’re assuming it’s a Cowbird’s egg–had been pitched out somewhere. We looked and looked, but never did see the other egg on the ground anywhere. That Mama Mockingbird must have a good kicking foot! So, we are keeping track on what happens in that nest. Daddy was actually going to cut down that tree yesterday, until we discovered the eggs in the nest. It can wait until the babies have grown! The Mama is almost never at the nest–she is very cautious about coming and going. I tried for a long time this morning to just get a picture of her in her nest, but she stayed away and made a very circuitous route in coming back just to peek in on the eggs. We caught her briefly sitting on the eggs this afternoon, but she quickly vanished when we opened the door.

We are very excited to be able to see so many bird families. We are learning a lot just by observing them, and it is very sweet to see how the parents care so faithfully, and differently, for their young.

We homeschool–Really?

Whew!

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I am finally taking the time to write a few words about life with the Little A’s…stealing the time is more like it!

I don’t know about how most homeschool families operate, but our lives seem to just be filling up with all kinds of new activities and opportunities for learning and service, that have changed our routine multiple times during this last month or so.   I asked Action A today this question that stems from a sign that my mom used to have hanging up in our home–it goes something like this, “If I’m a stay-at-home-Mom, why am I always in the car?”  That’s what I feel like lately about our homeschooling–why are we never at home to homeschool?    It’s hard to pass up opportunities…so we have tried to squeeze in more than usual recently.  Honestly, they’ve mostly been for the good of the family, but even so, when we end up being away from the home for too many trips, some areas do suffer.

Laundry–you kind of have to be home in order to get this done.  General house-cleaning too, although I think that we tend to make more messes while we’re here all day than when we’re gone!   Just have to make sure not to leave in a frenzy, or we are greeted with the same chaos when we return home.  😉  But, I think the main area that suffers when we run around too much is our sense of peace/normalcy/routine.  I used to notice it mostly in myself–when we would be gone too much, I’d never feel like I had any time just to think and relax, which we all do need.  But, recently I’m also sensing this in our boys.  They love the adventure of going new places and doing new things, but they also kind of like to have the satisfaction of knowing what is expected of them, then being able to conquer those tasks and have free time for themselves when they have finished.

Our eldest has vocalized this mostly–I personally think that he’s growing up a little, and is coming to see what kinds of things are important to him (and I’m thrilled that home is one of those things).   If he doesn’t get time to ride his bike and just unwind, he seems to feel stressed and out of sorts.    Action A, who used to drag his feet at anything school-related, has finally figured out that digging in to get the job done really does have rewards.  So, now, he normally tries to get through the subjects that he can do independently, so he has some free time.    Little Acorn is slowly coming to this reality, and Ambulance Man still just likes to play…

But, we have had some fun away from home.  We went North to see a family-run maple syrup operation–the weather didn’t exactly cooperate with our limited schedule, and we didn’t’ get to see the system in operation, but we still did have a lot of fun as a family!  Daddy, the Banana Man doesn’t often get to join in on the school-related outings, and we really took this trip as a family vacation.   The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a very different world from what we’re used to down in the sloppy-South for Winter.  They had feet of snow, not centimeters, and it stuck around long enough to build snowmen and play in.  Our boys had never seen so much snow, and it’s been a long time since I have seen that much–not since North Dakota days!   What good memories we made while sledding, snowmobiling, and just playing in the Winterland.  And sampling the maple sap multiple times just for fun!  🙂  Yum!

At this point of the blog post, I saved it, then typed a whole lot more, but as technology sometimes goes, with me, anyway, it was lost.  ;-(   Since I don’t feel much like re-typing it, I will just say that there are some pictures of some other fun things we’ve done here recently.

A trip to the zoo and science center was a lot of fun, and I think the part that the boys liked best was not the zoo animals but the room where they had opportunity to dress up like veterinarians.  They had a blast pretending they were doing surgery on the stuffed bears.   Just goes to show that you never know what will be the most fun and memorable!

Some time, I might add a post about our camping trip in the Smokies…it’s always an adventure with us, it seems!

Copy work for Mom

Many people have their children do copy work for various reasons; I could list many. But, in my opinion, one if the best reasons to require copy verse is to engage the hands with the mind in the process of learning some worthwhile passage of writing.

Here is my personal copy work that I copied into my prayer journal tonight.

-Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Self-denial means to rule the spirit when passion is seeking for the mastery; to resist the temptation to censure and to speak faultfinding words; to have patience with the child that is dull and whose conduct is grievous and trying; to stand at the post of duty when others may fail; to lift responsibilities wherever and whenever you can, not for the purpose of applause, not for policy, but for the sake of the Master, who has given you a work to be done with unwavering fidelity; when you might praise yourself, to keep silent and let other lips praise you. Self-denial is to do good to others where inclination would lead you to serve and please yourself. Although your fellow men may never appreciate your efforts or give you credit for them, yet you are to work on. – {4T 521.2

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Que bueno

We’re studying a little about the Mexican culture here lately. We are having fun trying out a few traditional Mexican things.

The first experiment we did was a crafty one–a pinata! (I can’t figure out how to make the little squiggly thing over the n in pinata, so …) Action A had a birthday, so this was a great time to try this out and invite a few amigos. We made two attempts at the pinata, which we decided to make look like a hornets’ nest. I don’t mind the boys whacking something like that, as long as there are no bees, but I felt funny about hanging up an animal shape for them to hit! 😉 That project proved to be rather time-consuming, with me up adding more layers of paper late into the night before the birthday. It turned out cute, but was still kind of damp when we played with it, so it didn’t really last as long as it could have.

I wasn’t taking into account that our guests were Mexican, but they quickly educated me on the “real” way to do a pinata. They don’t just hang them on a string and let the kids hit–No way! That would be too easy! They have someone with a rope, which holds the pinata, and their job is to bob the pinata up and down to make it more difficult for the whacker. That was fun, and I will say that it probably saved the pinata so that more boys could have a turn. We placed kind of non-traditional goodies inside–pencils, bookmarks, healthier treats, and little raisin boxes, along with little flower bulbs to plant–we don’t do a lot of candy here, but all of the boys still seemed delighted with their treats.

Most of our learning has been more low-key. We did have a Mexican picnic today, with tortillas that the boys and I made ourselves. They were yummy, especially as a dessert with honey! Yum! Refried beans and rice, avacados, salad, and cilantro for some (not me–yuck!), plus the tortillas made for a delicious lunch.

Before lunch, we spent some time making traditional tissue paper flowers. That was also fun, and someone has a birthday near Cinco de Mayo, so she will be the recipient of our artwork for the day. 🙂

How could I forget, but I almost did, about making an adobe house out of our local red clay and straw! I don’t know what I was thinking to suggest that! It was quite the messy project–squishy, red mud all over everything! Just what boys LOVE! And moms groan about! But that was fun too, and I was reminded of the Hebrew people being forces to make bricks without straw! I don’t have a picture of this project!
Learning is fun, and we are certainly having a good time learning about the Mexican ways.

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