Sunday, July 29, 2012

Daybook: The "I've gotta do something to redeem the time while spending hours watching the Olympics" Edition

Outside my window:: Sunny and 79.  Welcome relief after a couple of days of 90+ weather this past week.  Thankfully, the super-hot streaks only seems to last for a couple days at time before we get a bit of a reprieve.

Listening to:: French commentary on the Olympic women's judo competition.  I do kind of like the fact that I can justify TV watching by the fact that it is all in French, and therefore "homework". =)

Giving Thanks:: For improved communication in our family ever since Dan and I decided we needed to do whatever it took to ensure we got a weekly 'date night' (generally a date night at home for us, but whatever works!)  ~  For encouraging signs of progress in the French language - most recently a French lady at church telling me that I spoke really well and didn't make very many errors, after a conversation lasting around 15 minutes. ~  Sparks of spiritual interest in the kids.

Pondering:: We said goodbye to some friends around 2 weeks ago as they left France for their assignment in Africa.  And in about a month we'll say goodbye to another missionary family that we've gotten to know really well.  Neither of these families will be serving in the same part of Africa as we are, so it's not terribly likely we'll cross paths with them again soon.  One of the really hard parts of missionary life for me is the constant goodbyes.  Sometimes it makes it really hard for me to want to invest in relationships at all...especially right now since we are in a sort of temporary/transitional place this year.   I asked a friend from the missions committee of one of our supporting churches back in the States to pray for me about this, and she shared some really helpful and encouraging thoughts with me:
"I learned something from one of the leaders at a youth retreat years ago.  He reminded me to enjoy the moments I’m with people because sometimes our paths cross ever so briefly.  I’m reminded of that by your email and by our recent trip to Michigan.  We met many friends of our “adopted” daughter and her husband.  We were blessed by the time we spent with them.  We will probably never see them again, yet our lives are richer for the brief time we spent together."

 Yes, my life is richer for the time we've spent here, for the relationships - however 'short-term' - we've been able to form.  I am also reminded of the necessity of "staying in today" and making the most of the opportunities the Lord brings across my path each day.  And perhaps most importantly that I serve a God who promises to go with me wherever I go (Joshua 1:9, Psalm 139) - something I can always count on no matter what else happens.

Living the Educational Life:: You can check out what the kids have been up to here in the new "What We've Learned" category.  Finally, I think I've found a method of school record-keeping I can keep up with! =)   My French studies are plugging along as well, although with the summer 'vacances', most of my outside-of-school speaking/practice opportunties have dried up for the moment.  Hoping in the fall these will pick up again, and in the meantime I'm trying to make time to read French books, watch French TV, and occasionally study up on French grammar.  Slowly, it's getting easier.

Preparing in the Kitchen:: Not much.  Even our friend Mr Sourdough is laying dormant in the back of the fridge right now.  Needed to scale back to the very basics for awhile.  That all said, however, I am considering a grain-free experiment in the near future.  On verra.  (French for "we will see!")

Following These Links::  I finally broke down and got a Pinterest account.  I avoided this for a long time because I felt like I didn't need anymore online distractions.  However, all my bookmarked articles were getting out of control, so I got on Pinterest as means of keeping them organized.  And it's working.  And it really hasn't been a distraction.  So, win-win.  All that to say that I think I will retire this category and encourage you to follow me over there if you are interested in the following my links. =)

Finding Rhythm:: Making the point to have a weekly date night is helping a lot, if for no other reason that we have now a specific point every week to ensure that communication is happening.  Otherwise, last month was struggle.  Here's hoping our new schedule for August better facilitates rhythm!!

Kiddos this Week:: Michelle wrote her own story in the style of Aesop's Fables this afternoon, which she wanted me to narrate to her.  Unfortunately she erased it before I had a chance to read it, which therefore made it difficult to tell her about it....   James asked me this week when he "could have a big Bible like Michelle's".  The motivation to read is mounting...   Elizabeth?  Oh my, where to begin with her.   Let's just say she keeps us on our toes. =)

Praying:: For daily strength to stay motivated in this task of language learning.  For wisdom to respond to the needs of my family, and to know how to encourage my husband, for whom French study is proving much more challenging than it has been for me.  That I would know my Savior more intimately every day.

Planning the Week Ahead:: Ask me again in 24 hours.  We'll have our new schedule then, so then I might be able to figure out just what the plan for the week might be!!

Capturing a Moment:: The kids and I actually managed to pull off taking Dan's birthday cake to school as a surprise!  He really had no idea we were coming until we showed up. =)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Tree Study

While we've been keeping an eye on it regularly since January, we finally took some time on our last 'project day' to update our nature journals with our summer tree observations.  (You can see our winter/spring observations here.)  Back in April, Michelle predicted that "our tree would still get more leaves."  She was right!

Here it is in its summer glory:

A few of her other observations: The leaves were bigger...very big! (Not quite 6 inches.)  They were light green before, but now they are dark green.  I was right that the tree would get more leaves.  The summer leaf is not fuzzy, it is smooth.

Back in the spring, we had hypothesized that our tree was a sycamore maple.  But after carefully observing the shape of the mature leaf, we decided that it is more likely a silver maple.  You can check out some pictures of sycamore maples here and silver maples here if you want to check it out and see what you think for yourself. =)

Busily making journal entries
Michelle also wrote another stanza for her poem, "My Tree in All the Seasons" to describe her summer tree:
Darker, Darker, Bigger Leaves
Lots more of them, too
Hot sun keeps the tree warm and nice.

Donc, voila!  We'll check back in with our tree in the fall.  In the meantime, we've been working through Barb's summer photo challenge and growing sunflowers in pots on our [extremely narrow] balcony, and hope to be able to share those with you soon!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What We've Learned 16 July 2012

A few highlights of the past learning week in our home...

Michelle, Age 6-1/2:
1. We did cursive Z.
2. We started All About Spelling Level 2.
3. I read to Mom from More Busy Times
4. We made Very Cherry Cornbread, from my Clubhouse Jr. Magazine

Reading from More Busy Times.  Michelle has really taken off in her reading and I can hardly keep her in books!

James, Age 4:
1. We did sticks - we made a table, a chair, a tree, house, a broom, and a little design.
2. We did coloring and counting in my math book (MEP Reception Level - the activity with sticks above came from this book also. This is a great intro to math for 4-5 year olds who aren't ready for a workbook-based curriculum yet!)
3. We read Petit Ours Brun Joue Dans La Sable.  (Little Brown Bear Plays in the Sand)
Copying patterns and colors with sticks - a favorite school activity last week.
 Hope you've had a good learning week as well!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What We've Learned 5 July 2012

A few things we've learned in the past week:

Michelle, age 6-1/2
1. We learned about Debussy.  He makes music like Monet's paintings.
2. We read the middle part of "Les Trois Petits Cochons".
3. We read the legend about Frederick Barbarossa going to sleep in a mountain in Germany after he died, and later a shepherd found him, but it was probably just a dream.  (from 30 More Famous Stories)
4. We are learning how to do word problems in Math.

Michelle wanted to show you her cursive book.  We are starting to write real words!

James, age 4
I did some work with mom. 
1. We did letters E and R.  
2, We used sticks for counting.  
3. We read Jack and Jill together.
James showing off his sandpaper e and r
Hope you've had a lovely learning week in your home too!