Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blog Post of the Week....

I have to do better...
It WAS a very busy week.
Tim was away, in Kentucky, whooping it up with all those amazing Kentuckians.
The boys and I kept busy with trips to the pool, and preparing for school to start.

Brendan, John and I are reading "The Last of the Mohicans" for American Literature, and I have to say, it is quite a challenging read. The language is very complex, and we are spending a lot of time researching not just vocabulary, but references to ideas, traditions and styles that are completely foreign to our modern ways. I was not ready to jump into something quite so heady, just as we are getting into the school year, but I am actually really glad that we started it when we hadn't started any of our other school work.
One very helpful tool that I am using is the Google Book version, which has a lot of tools for highlighting and note-taking within the text. I love being able to stop and look at definitions and articles on the words and concepts that we find.

I am also preparing our Homeschool Tracker, binders, files and other resources for the year. Where would I be without technology?

Tuesday was a big day for Techbrick Robotics. Paul's team got it's mission. It's a weather-disaster theme. It looks like it will be a lot of fun.
All the Teckbrick Teams. That's a LOT of kids!

Brendan is starting First Tech-Challenge. This is a High School level program, and it is pretty sophisticated. The kids get into higher level programming, they produce a presentation, and they build true robots, not the Mindstorm version of the younger team. I am going to have Brendan do this for Science this year. I think it will be very good for him all around, and I will also have him work through John's Engineering book from last year.

John is doing Biology, because he is in his Junior year, and we need to get that done, so he can take Chemistry next year. I will probably have him take that at the college.

The Wednesday and Thursday were really just workdays. More school prep, and I went to see Fr Henry, who is still in the transition period of moving into his new place.
We set up his ipad, and worked on his closet, getting it all organized.

Friday Brendan, Paul, Mark Andrews, Lilly and I went up to Philadelphia to the Franklin Institute to use our last day of membership. The kids had a great time. Lilly has never been there and she was curious about everything. We played in the kids' area, solved a trainwreck mystery, and she was just such a little chatterbox through it all.
Lilly Loved Mark....

The Heart....

Lilly learned a lot!

And did a little wheelchair racing...

She was very proud that she could lift herself,

But was not terribly enthused about having her picture taken with /Ben.

Today I have worked some more on school, and we have to get back to the Mohicans, but we took time out to go to the pool and soak up a little more warmth before the weather gets chilly. I can't believe it's the last weekend.....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

TORCH is Twenty!!

Wow. Yesterday was the twentieth reunion for our TORCH Homeschool support group.
What a wonderful day it was!
So many friends showed up. Some from many years ago, and some brand new members.
The Weber's have been doing these picnics every year, and we all look forward to it as one of the high points of the Summer, and a sign that another school year will soon begin.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday:

Dan and Michael Schmidt

The Book Table- a great place to find great deals (free!)

What a treat to see Thomas and Herlinda Crimmons!

A few of our newest members!

A gunfight is always a bit hit!

TORCH Dads....

 Games in the front yard.....
 Food in the back....
And the Blessings continue....

Here is a little "Reunion" video of where we have been....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What's For Dinner?

Or maybe a more contemporary question would be, "What's dinner?"

Last year I tried really hard to scale back the evenings that I need to be out of the house, for work or meetings, to the point where I wasn't working at all. The meetings are sometimes unavoidable, but they are fewer. My reason for this was that I was feeling called to get the family back together around the dinner table as many nights per week as possible. I have been following this blog, and what Fr Leo says just makes so much sense. I thought about how little time we have left before the boys have jobs, go off to college and have families of their own. I figured out the number of chances to eat dinner as a family, and I could see them passing far too quickly.
So, I decided that I would make a real meal at least five days a week. It is mostly successful.

However, the rest of the world isn't getting on board, and it's the world we live in.
I asked a class of kids that I was teaching about eating meals as a family. I was trying to help them see the relationship between meals that we eat as a family, and the Mass as a time to gather as the family of God. I was shocked when only about three out of the 25 kids that were there could remember the last time the whole family sat down at the table together. Some of them said, "Thanksgiving".

What's the big deal, really?
Sports and other activities are important to families. Moms and dads are pressed for time and something has to give.
One thing that is for sure, family life as a whole has become something to be managed.
It used to be much easier when there were fewer roles for each member of the family to fulfill, fewer activities to be managed, and more hours at home in the evenings.

It would seem that a homeschooling family would have a much easier time making family time at home work. Stay-at-home moms are at home, right? Don't they spend the day with the kids, in the kitchen, working on yummy recipes and filling the fridge with wholesome dinner ingredients?
Well....yes and no.
I do try to limit our out-of-the-house activities during the school day. But as for staying home, well that's getting tougher and tougher. The dinner hour appears to be prime time for sports, lessons and other things that don't happen at school. Most of the kids activities happen at around 6:30. Tim gets home around 5:30, so we are slamming down dinner to get everyone out the door to Robotics, Piano, practice, or Bible Study.
Not really the quality time that I would like, but better than nothing.
I don't know the answer. These kids are all into some really great stuff.
We don't want to stop those things, because they are home all day, and they need to be with other kids and adults.
I guess I will just keep doing what I am doing and try to come up with something to keep bringing them back.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

These Kids Love to Dance!

Tonight we had yet another youth dance at Good Shepherd and we took everybody!
There was a Civil War era dance first, which the kids really love, and it's not just our youth group either! We have kids coming from all over to do the reels and waltzes. Brendan and Paul got in on a few, and Lilly even gave it a shot! She did a bit of her own thing too.
After the Civil War dances, the kids got to Swing dance. John has been swing dancing for a few years now and he likes it a lot!
It was a great Summer evening thing to do, and we are counting down the days, as they are getting short.
We have to cram as much into these days as possible!

The Virginia Reel

One of the girls was a Japanese exchange student.


Lilly dancing the Musical Ladies dance.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Down Memory Lane....

I have been spending a lot of time lately converting all the old family video DVDs, from when the girls were little, to electronic files that I can store in my external drive. I need to get them into a format that is easy to store and won't deteriorate.
It has been so good seeing all the people that I miss so much! Hearing Mom's voice, and seeing her with her family, is such a treat! It's not sad, because those were the times and places that God had put us in to learn to love and walk for a time. Now we are in different times and places, but I still feel a strong connection to those people, times and places that have gone before. They were God's garden for making us the people that we are. We have grown and blossomed,  and sometimes been pruned, so that we are able to produce the fruit that we are called to.
I hope that I can be that kind of person for the people whose lives that I touch.
Here is a link to the play list, I hope: