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August 27, 2008

5 Minute Devotions

This summer we had so much fun doing this devotions book I just had to share it here.

It's great for kids 3-6. Each day features a double page spread devotion with an animal for the day and talks a little about their behavior (I learned some amazing facts I didn't know) and how God made it special.

Then it relates the animal behaviors to ours (we sooo can be like animals, don't you think??).
The devotion includes simple questions for the child to recall what he learned and always ends with a good "why" question and a Bible verse that lead to prayer.

Here's an excerpt...

If you see hippos yawning in a slow moving African river, you might think it is a friendly and lazy animal. But you would be mistaken! Armed with long, razor sharp teeth, the hippo is one of the most dangerous African animals. What makes it so dangerous is its temper....Some people can have nasty tempers like hippos...they hurt others...they use angry words...Why do you think God wants us to control our tempers? What kinds of things make you angry? What can you do with your feelings so that you don't hurt others? Bible Verse: "A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back" Proverbs 29:11 (NLT)

The illustrations are beautiful and comic. We learned about patient penguins, selfish birds, playful otters, busy ants, sensitive bats, caring gorillas, happy cranes, friendly oxpeckers, aardvarks, geese, meerkats and many more.

If you love nature and animals you will enjoy reading this to your little ones. And they will learn so much about the animals and godly character at the same time. Great for morning devotion or circle time.

The older edition is 2 separate volumes with hardcover and spiral bound. The new combined volume is cheaper but so it's the binding.

August 26, 2008

Digging up bones

Last week we did a mini DINOSAURS unit since Caleb has been asking about dinosaurs for some time now. We don't start "school" officially till next week but how can I say to precious boy "well, you will have to wait until I come up with a unit...maybe in a few months"? NO way...that's why I love homeschoolshare!!! There's always something there ready to be used and this time once again... I found what I needed!

Homeschoolshare has a wonderful creation based dinosaur unit with lots of printouts and activity ideas.

Here's some of the things we did from the unit. In addition to reading the stories, we...

Made dinosaurs with play-doh, listened to the Buddy Davis songs (the boys LOVED them), talked about reptiles, read about Behemot in the book of Job, talked about fossils and did some of the dinosaur coloring pages with markers (and that's a very special thing here...I'm not crazy about them using markers yet).

To finish our learning week I got out the Usborne Books' Dinosaur Excavation Kit. This was so much fun for all of us!! The kit includes a big chunk of clays with dinosaur "bones" inside. The boys used the tools included to dig out the bones. This part they did almost all by themselves. It took us about 15 minutes to find all the bones. I must say it was a big mess of gray dust all over the table and their hands and faces...but it was the best way to end our study.

I did have to help with putting the dinosaur together. Here's some pictures...

Breaking the rock


Finding the first bones...is it a hip bone? the skull?

Mr. T-Rex!!

August 25, 2008

our plan for the new school year-GENTLE and FUN

With our recent move and a new baby coming in January my plans for the year have changed a bit. I've decided to go a bit more structured and combining different resources.

Caleb's Kindergarten:

Phonics: Reading Made Easy (started last Spring-2 lessons per week and review)
Penmanship: Handwriting Without Tears K (started last Spring-one line per day)
Math: Horizons Math-Level K (alternate between workbook and manipulatives)

Noah's Preschool:

Before Five in a Row (Caleb will join in some of these)
Kumon Workbooks
Preschool Activity Bags
Handwriting Without Tears (Wood pieces, slate and cards only)

Together:

Lots of read-alouds (too many to mention here)
Bible: Big Truth for Little Children plus Bible time with dad
Spanish vocabulary
Art: A Child's Book of Art, I can Draw Animals, I can Draw People
Science: Science Play! (fun experiments), nature walks, bird watching
Geography: Simple unit studies on their heritage countries (USA, Puerto Rico & Philippines)
Music: 19th century composers (Saint-Saenz, Mendelssohn & Tchaikovsky) and Hal Leonard's Piano Book #1

I think that's it! Sounds like a lot???
School is only 4 days a week for one hour in the morning. In the afternoon we do a "table time" where they are free to choose a hands-on activity to work on (puzzles, play-doh, lacing, coloring, painting, etc.).

We will not cover all subjects everyday...except for Caleb's reading and writing.

August 23, 2008

One year blogging!

My blog is one year old today! I wish I had time to plan a contest or special entry for this day but with our recent move, I'm amazed I can still take time to blog.

Today I want to share this video of the people who put a smile on my face day after day. The Lord has blessed us beyond what we could ever imagine. I'm so thankful for their lives and for the opportunity of being at home with them.

We are so far from perfect and have such a long way to go in our parenting and marriage and still the Lord allows us to see how He is growing us and our children in the knowledge of Him and His ways.

Just a note: dad is reading "A pocket for Corduroy" to the boys, but if you know the story you know that these are not the words. Caleb and Noah know this story very well, which is why they can't stop laughing at Brad's version.

August 21, 2008

Postcards exchange

Earlier this summer I joined the FIAR ladies on a postcards exchange. What a fun learning experience it ended up being for us. We received 45 postcards from all over the US and even a card from Costa Rica!

The boys helped to put stamps on our Chicago cards without really understanding what was to come but once they started receiving mail they were very much into it and asking every day if the mailman had come. This was a great way to introduce my little ones to the names and locations of our states.
We used a wooden United State puzzle to locate the places where the cards where coming from. It was fun to learn little facts about each state! It also made me appreciate the beauty and diversity of our country. We are so blessed to live in America. We will definitely do this again next year!

And now I'm ready to join the Christmas ornament exchange! Have I ever told you what an amazing groups of moms these FIAR ladies are??? Thank you ladies for helping make our homeschooling experience so fun! (now where's that smiley that blows a kiss when you need it?)

August 20, 2008

so how are WE doing?...more answers

I'm taking a few minutes to update on our family since I know some of you are probably still praying that our things arrive here safely...well they did arrive here a week ago! Thank you Lord!

Every thing arrived well and all boxes accounted for. Now the real fun has begun! haha

So far we got about 3 rooms completely unpacked...with 3 more to go. I'm trying to stay calmed in the middle of all the boxes and Brad has been doing great at taking care of our yard. We've all been bitten by fire ants by now and have to deal with the wasps making nests on our front yard.

To me it feels like living in Puerto Rico all over again (minus the chickens running loose on the streets and the rooster waking you up...hehe); we got little frogs and lizards in the yard. The boys are having a blast observing these creatures (free science lab class, right?).

I am definitely in love with our location as well. It borders many towns. We are not far from Houston, Sugar Land and Katy. Just like in Chicago we were so near the city, the lake, the suburbs, etc. Very near us is a forest preserve with trails, playground, soccer fields (where Caleb will be playing this fall, etc.)

The weather has stayed very hot but since the storms passed our way we've been having lower temperatures with rain (that is mid 80's...but it feels so good!). We are enjoying the break for now.

I'm also getting things ready to "start" school after labor day. In a way we never stopped since I feel like we are always learning, always reading, always doing hands-on stuff but we will resume all the "academic" subjects soon. I've been in touch with a support group in the area and I'm looking forward to meet with them at their kick off event next week...it's called the "Not-back to school party"...pretty clever name don't you think?? haha

A few random...GREAT christian station down here. They play Meredith Andrews song "You are not alone" all the time. And I love to hear it since it reminds me of home in Chicago. LOTS of great concerts coming here all the time. People drive very fast, much faster than Chicago. There's no public transportation system here...at least not a reliable one unless you are on downtown Houston, but they have so many freeways and tollways...some of them are so high is almost like being on a roller coaster. The Texas pride is so obvious everywhere...even the freeways have the lone star! Gas is cheaper here!!

I am going to miss the seasons changes from the midwest, the birds, the trees changing, etc. But we are seeing new things here...did you know there's alligators here?? oh and also armadillos..we've seen many of them by now.

Some of you know that Caleb loves birds so I'm working on getting our bird feeders ready for the fall. I explained to him that many of the birds he saw in Chicago will make their way here in the winter. There's also lots of Mockingbirds that come to our yard...did you know they sing at night too??

My pregnancy is going well. I have been feeling some lower back pain (probably related to all the moving and all the hours driving around). I'm trying to stay active walking around with the boys. I have a doctor here now and will be going to her office again on Monday. I'm getting close to 20 weeks now so she wants me to do have an ultrasound in the next couple of weeks. We can't wait to take a peek at the baby and find out if it's a boy or girl! My stomach is big now and I will try to remind Brad to take pictures of me to post here (I'm usually the one taking the pictures).

Finally, we were still looking for a church but it looks like the Lord had other plans for us...once again. We've visited some churches here and met some wonderful, loving people in the past month (can you believe it's been a month??) and we were ready to commit to one congregation.

But last week we received an email from some of old friends who attend Harvest at Rolling Meadows and they told us that there was video clip showed at their campus of Pastor James interviewing this Pastor who is opening a new Harvest church in Houston!!!! Can you believe it?? Now for those of you who don't know Brad and I have been members of Harvest Bible Chapel for the past 5 1/2 years and we feel very strongly about the vision and ministries this church. So of course when he heard this we had to go check it out!

Last Sunday we drove (it's about 30 minutes away) to the Harvest in Northwest Houston and met many people there including the Pastor. It's a new congregation who have been meeting for less than a year, started with 50 people and have seen a fast growth in their attendance. Their first service as a Harvest it's going to take place in 2 weeks and they will already be starting with 2 services...sounds familiar?? Those of you who are Harvest people know all about this.

We are so thrilled and overwhelmed with God's provision for us. One of the hardest things of leaving Chicago was our church family so pray for us that we can seize this opportunity and use our gifts to build up the Lord's body of Harvest Houston.

So...anyone who did not want to move down here because there was no Harvest...now you have no excuse, alright?? ;-)

Brad and I were talking about how every time we are expecting a new child, the Lord moves us to a new Harvest church...with Caleb Rolling Meadows, with Noah-Niles and now with baby #3-Houston....we would love to settle here for a while so hopefully no more babies for some time after this...unless, of course...our church decides to open a church plant on Houston Southwest (which is where we live)!

August 05, 2008

Keeping the boys active and cool

I have to say that the boys are coping with the HOT weather much better than I thought. We do get hot days in Chicago but here we are getting hot weeks and weeks with no breaks in between.

We are now learning that the best time to go outside to play is before 10 am and after 6:30 pm. Every time in between is too hot for them to stay out for more than 5 minutes!!

Since we are still staying with Brad's brother and his family the boys are loving having the company of their dog Buster. So every morning they go outside to play with him in the yard.





If we can drive to our home early in the morning they get to enjoy the yard there too. The previous owners left us a sandbox and a trampoline!!





Our way to the new home is a bit long and tiring for all of us since we've been driving back and forth for many days now to meet installers, delivery guys and do cleaning. On our way there we always take the back roads (services roads), instead of the highways (tolls are so expensive here!!!) and this gives the boys a chance to pass by many ranches, constructions zones, factories and a few very long freight trains!...definitely, more interesting to them than long-empty highways, right???


We also get to enjoy evening playtime at the nearby playground...as long as we don't forget to put on bug repellent! LOL!!

Our subdivision has a pool but due to a little cut Noah has on his eye lid we won't be able to enjoy it until he gets better (he's ok...nothing too serious but he can't get that area too wet for now).

What about indoors??? This part of the day has taken more creativity. It's been difficult to keep up with any type of routine for now (Caleb needs this so much!) and I need to keep my eyes on Noah at almost all times since he loves to explore places and things in the home that are not his belongings.

Thankfully there's TV AND TIVO here! LOL!! So I've been able to record "Little Einstein" for them to watch (their new favorite show). There's also Wii here! The boys are now hooked on it and part of me wishes they have not learned to play video games yet but hey...it has kept my sanity...hehe.

We play lots of board games too. No formal school for now but we are still doing some Kumon workbooks. Caleb is working on "Amazing Mazes" & "Pasting" and Noah is working on "Let's Color 2", "First Book of Mazes" and "Let's Cut".


For our read loud we are using 2 story anthologies that I took from the Sonlight curriculum: "The 2oth Century Children's Book Treasury" & "A Family Treasury of Little Golden Boooks" (I love combining old stories with new ones!). We are also working oral exercises for logic with this book by The Critical Thinking Company: "Can you find me?". Most pages are a bit challenging for Noah but he enjoys it nevertheless and challenging enough for Caleb. Fun and engaging and it's teaching them problem solving. Great resource! I'll probably post a more detailed review of this title.

We've also got a few "Pump it Up" type of places very near us so we've gone there a few times. And we have a huge outlet-type mall less than 20 minutes away from our home (think Gurnee Mills...but much nicer inside...hehe). It's really beautiful and I know once we are moved into our new home we will go here a lot.

I am waiting to tour around Houston (museums, malls, zoo, NASA, etc.) until kids go back to school (one of those nice things about homeschooling is that you can go anywhere, anytime without having to deal with long lines and crowded places).


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Family update and our new home

Well time has passed and I still have not given an update on what's going on down here so here's answers to common questions...

Yes, we closed in our home! Thank you Lord! We were able to close Tuesday after the expected closing day. We were able to postpone our appointment with the movers so Brad had enough time to fly back to Chicago and meet them.

They picked up our things on Thursday of that week (2 weeks ago) and that same day in the afternoon Brad traveled back (driving our van this time) to Houston. His trip went very well considering he was by himself this time.

He rested for one night in Memphis and then was back on the road Friday morning and arrived here in the evening. (A side note from Brad...if you are ever in Memphis...DO NOT stay on West Memphis area!...choose East Memphis....better looking and SAFE...hehe.)

Since then, we've been busy getting appliances, cleaning our home, learning how to drive around, etc. Brad even got to try mowing the lawn for the first time. He did well considering it was 100 degrees outside!

We are still waiting for the movers to arrive with our things. They were basically ignoring our calls for about a week but they finally gave us a deadline of this Wednesday for their delivery so we hope and pray that they show up!

Otherwise...I will be getting to know all the thrift stores in the area very well....haha.

Some have asked to see our home so here's some pictures of God's provision to our family.




Still more answers to come like how are we coping with the weather? what's up with the hurricanes? how are the boys adjusting? when do we get to live in our new home? how does Brad likes his job? Are we still homeschooling? what do we think of Houston now that we are here? how's the church hunt going?

If the storm doesn't cut our internet access I will try to answer these this afternoon.