Friday, September 26, 2008

Van Gogh

Van Gogh was our first artist studied this year. We are spending 2-3 weeks on each artist looking through books about their paintings. Then on a following week they are trying to re-create their version of one of the artists paitings. Here are my 4 youngest kids attempts at some of Van Gogh's famous works.

This is my 5 year old son's version of Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

Here is Natania's version of Starry Night, she is 10 years old.

Another version of Starry Night done by my almost 13 year old daughter, Arianna.

This is Van Gogh's portrait of Dr. Felix Rey 1889. I'm not sure why she picked such a hard picture to try to re-create but she did a great in job. In my humble opinion. Annaliese is only 8 years old.

Here are a few sentences from the kids narration pages.

Van Gogh shot himself because he was so depressed because of Paul Gaugin leaving him. He got so angry that he cut off part of his ear. by Annaliese.

Van Gogh was a great artist. He started out painting with dark colors and made alot of dark and sad paintings. Van Gogh used oil paints. Van Gogh shot himself and died two days later. My favorite paintings by Van Gogh are Starry Night and Sunflowers. by Arianna

Vincent Van Gogh was a famous painter. He had one brother. Vincent went to Paris to paint. He invited Paul Gaugin to paint with him but they had a big fight and Paul left. He was very angry that he cut part of his ear off. Vincent never got over this. When he painted it was so thick that he would run out of paint, so he had to stop buying food. And he was not healthy. Vincent shot himself and he died two days later. by Natania

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs: #6 Summer Photo Essay

Well, we really didn't get much in as far as summer vacations or great summer photos. We had a family emergency type trip back in April so our vacation went that way. But I did catch a few photos here and there.

You can find more by checking out old posts under "children."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

BFS Assignment "It keeps going, and going, and going"

Oh, this assignment is so easy. The truth be told I don't keep up with the energizer bunny. I fall down and don't get up. I've come to realize that I only have so many "organizational genes" in me. I'm very good, usually, at keeping my thoughts and ideas organized for school. Which is quite an accomplishment since I am juggling varying curriculums at the same time. I think I am a curriculum "junkie". As far as "it keeps going, and going, and going" I feel that way about the dirty dishes that pile up, the laundry, the continual list of things that need Mom's attention. I do have my children help out but schedules can be hectic so we are always behind. I don't let it bother me much. I'm a pastor's wife so it bothers me more when a parishioner comes knocking (and off course it is on the day the place is a wreck or I just got out of bed or both). I figure that a true friend doesn't come to see how well you keep the house, she comes to visit you and your family. My moto is "I'm doing all I can right now." School is the main priority, there will be plenty of time for me to have a "perfect" house or a "perfect" system when the kids have all graduated. There it's easy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Missionary Friends

A little over a week ago, we had a nice visit with some seminary friends whose first call was to Africa. They have been there two years planting new churches and baptizing new members. They May family - Jay, Tina, Maggie, Tristan, Sarai, Sophi, and new baby Jonas spent about 3 days with us. On one of those days we went to Apple River Park and North Park playground.

Micah really enjoyed playing with Tristan, they were like best buds. The girls had so much fun play with their girls or helping to take care of the little ones. Our kids a few days later even said "it's no fun here now that the May's are gone." The reality we live in right now, unfortunately.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Something New

The assignment for the week from Homeschool Memoirs is to share something new that we added to our school this year. We added several new things this year. The kids have been enjoying art through Artistic Pursuits We've only done a few lessons but we are getting our feet wet, the more challenging stuff comes later. We also have been trying to stick to a schedule of learning about great artists. We did Van Gogh so far for about two weeks. I will be posting more on that in different post with some pics.

New this year also is A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers by Craig and Hogan. I found it at This is a year long unit study about composers that includes listening selections, map and timeline work, a biography to read aloud and a question/answer page to go with the bio, plus a coloring page for youngsters. So far we have enjoyed this, although we aren't far along. I've decided to take two years to complete this verses just the one year schedule. It opens with some history of music during different time periods in history plus a section on music within the liturgical church which I just loved. So I think we will spend some extra time here because we are Lutheran and love our liturgy. I plan to also add a little bit about the orchestra and the instruments that make up the orchestra so they have a little more background knowledge before delving into Vilvaldi's Four Seasons.

Finding What Works

Blogger Friend School Assignment - Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz

Assignment: This would be a good week to tell about your worst struggles with a lifestyle of homeschooling. Tell about something you’ve struggled with and how God’s mercies gave us the strength to get past it. Also, share any curriculum/homeschool methods that have been a relief to you, i.e., a particular Teacher’s Manual or Homeschooling method that’s been easier for your family. Talk about how you felt when the burden was lifted and Oh, What a Relief it is!

This wasn't as easy of an assignment as the others for me. My mind went in so many different directions with this. First I have a constant struggle with keeping up with the laundry and household stuff, but I'd probably have that problem regardless of homeschooling. I'm not a neat freak and someone once told me that "crafty people" which I am are people who can work among chaos or clutter. Then a few years later, a very Godly woman, Tammis, told me that she has the same problem and now referrs to "clutter" as her "organization system".. This was a relief to me to know first that it could just be part of my crafty nature and second that other women struggle this way too.

I found in the beginning of homeschooling that I really didn't know what I was doing. I was so worried about academics, the kids falling behind, the pressure of having them keep up with public school mentality really clouded my approach and I wasn't very patient or understanding. I was so worried about those things that it never occurred to me that maybe my child really didn't understand something, maybe he or she was not trying to be obstinant on purpose. Again, some Godly women who had been homeschooling longer gave me some good advice on how to relax and enjoy the freedoms found in homeschooling. They shared with me how some kids don't grasp certain things until their brains are a little more mature. This was a huge sigh of relief for me.

When I had failed in these things I could pick up again the next day and start fresh. These two verses came to mind for this Lametations 2:22-23 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. And also, Psalm 46:5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

Since then a few curriculum choices have also added some relief. One of those is Teaching Textbooks. This is helping my oldest daughter with algebra because she is weak in math. The program provides a "tutor" for her with a phone number for additional help should she need it. We also just this year started using their 5th grade level also with Natania. It is helping to keep her interest because it is all done by a computer lesson and a workbook. Plus, it frees up my time to work with my younger two Micah and Annaliese.

In addition to this, we have been using Tapestry of Grace for 3 years now. It covers the grade range of K-12 plus mom. I'm finding that I don't have to juggle so many different time periods of history like I was doing in previous years. I was finding that I couldn't keep up with it all and facing burn out. They have a huge on-line support system that helps too.

We still have our struggles each year but now they are mostly with finding the time to fit everything into our daily schedule, figuring out how to juggle outside activities, and still trying to keep up with the never ending laundry pile that goes with a family of 7.

Friday, September 5, 2008

BFS assignment "Oh What A Feeling"

Our assignment this week was to write about our feelings related to homeschooling, triumphs and failures, and over all emotions. For me when I first started this journey I did alot of things wrong. I sought advice but not from the right people. I didn't spend alot of time researching homeschooling and the different methods. I regret that now. I was excited and overwhelmed at the same time. I enjoyed using curriculumn like Five in a Row to read good, quality literature to my kids. That is one of the things I can say that I did do right. I'm not sure in the first few years if there were many others.

If I could do it over...I would've read those books on different methods. I would've taken a more Charlotte Mason approach to our learning. I wouldn't have pushed math or english until they were say maybe 8 or 9 years old.

Now that I am a little older and wiser in this area, I've changed my philosophies some. I try to remain calm so that no one, including mom, breaks down into tears. We do incorporate nature journals, even a little bit helps. I found it more enjoyable for the kids if we use the gentle, Charlotte Mason way of learning about great works of art and great composers. I try not to worry so much about their "academics" but to focus more on what kind of memory am I creating for my children. Is it negetive or positive for them?

I want them to look back on it as a good experience. A time where we enjoyed spending the days together learning about new things. A chance to build strong bonds between myself and my children leaving them knowing that there is nothing I wouldn't do for them.

Now after about 10-11 years of homeschooling I finally feel like I get it. We eagerly await our new books and packages as they continue to arrive even after the school year gets started.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Yes, yes we have a routine too. I spend several weeks working on an excel spread sheet listing who will do what and when. It helps to give me a general idea of how our day will go. I like knowing that Monday afternoons are for music appreciation and Wednesday afternoons are for art class. At least it gives us a goal for each week as we set out to accomplish everything on the "schedule".

Mind you though, life happens, just like the other day when my son spent 6 hrs in the ER room, having tests, and waiting to see the surgeon to determine if he needed his appendix removed. Of course all this happened on a school day, well actually it was Labor Day, so that'll teach me to not take holiday when they are on the calendar. So that afternoon the older kids worked as much as the could helping each other and working independently. But it wasn't how I envisioned our day going. Miraculously his white blood cell count came down overnight, the abdominal pain went away, and he was back to normal, for now. They did tell us to watch him because it could return and then he would need the surgery.

Now that we escaped that crisis we are back to our regular routine until the next time "life happens."

As far as the listing prayer requests for our family - the biggest one is needing to move to a bigger town with lots of homeschool opportunties. We are so rural right now and it is really starting to bother my older girls who would like some kind of "social" life, even just a few friends to invite over. That is my biggest request right now. I'd like to see my kids happy again.