We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Feast of St Andrew

Advent must be near....

Because today is the Feast of Saint Andrew!  We won't do much more than read about this saint's life, enjoy our scones, and put up his icon on the family altar.  If I had a Scottish flag handy, I'd hang that to commemorate our Scottish heritage, and St Andrew's patronage of Scotland.

Remembering the saints doesn't have to be complicated.  If you have a book of saints' stories for kids, that is great, but you can also look up biographical information on the web.  Search around for some ideas about traditional foods for the Saint's day...or from the Saint's homeland...or from a country for which the Saint is associated now.  (Andrew was not from Scotland!)  Do a web search for children's or family activities for the Saint's day, and you'll usually find plenty of ideas to get your started.  

Better to start simply than go overboard and be burned out.  That's happened to me.  And don't try to do EVERY Saint - just start with the major feasts (apostles, generally), or those that might have a special place in your family (a child's name, for example).

I often find Catholic Culture to be very helpful.  They have a calendar of saints that has just about all the information you could possibly need!  Just skip anything that isn't appropriate to your faith tradition, of course.

Have a blessed Feast of Saint Andrew.  Is he also the patron saint of errand-running moms?  I sure hope so, because that is what I'll be spending his feast day doing!

Good morning, Zeke

Kalliope enjoying some morning drawing while we do morning session.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Up the highway and through the traffic to Farmor's house we went...

Farmor lives just outside Fredericksburg, VA (about an hour south of Washington, DC).  The leaves were mostly off the trees, but the weather was crisp.  Perfect Thanksgiving weather!

Our Thanksgiving table.

I love old homes.  My husband's childhood home began life as two log cabins in the late 18th century.  The two log cabin rooms are still in use, now with added modern amenities, like electricity. 

An evening by the fire...and the books.   With wine, of course.

Artemesia got to meet a very friendly squirrel while we were in D.C. for the day.

Helpful blog for Anglican Families

Just want to take a moment to direct you to a new-to-me blog.  It is a church blog, but is specifically written to support their families and kids...and they are Anglican!

Saint Pete's Kids (a blog of Saint Peter's Anglican Church in Birmingham, AL)

The blog owner contacted me recently to ask if she could publish an old Advent essay on their website.  (Could they?  OF COURSE!)  You can read it there if you there, if you wish, or on my blog just by searching.  It is one of my favorites:  The Advent That Almost Wasn't

Be sure to poke around their website and check out their resources.  And leave a comment to say "Hi!"

And it is time to start getting ready for Advent, isn't it?  You know Advent always brings out my blogging....  :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

20 years well-celebrated

With the start of school and several family birthdays, the celebration of our 20th anniversary had to wait a few weeks.  That wait ended this past weekend when Erik and I traveled to the northwestern-most corner of North Carolina for a weekend trip.

Here are some photos from our trip to West Jefferson and the surrounding areas:

Enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Black Jack Restaurant.  Really great hamburgers! 
I wish I could remember the  name of the beer -- a double IPA, I think.
Very casual - and we enjoyed a long conversation with the owner who is originally from Romania.

After lunch, we found the first of two "Church of the Frescoes": St Mary's Episcopal Church.  These frescoes were painted by Ben Long and are quite famous in NC and beyond. 

The interior of the church.  I wish I could convey the beauty of this small intimate church.  The interior is entirely covered in wood and the scent of incense has deeply-penetrated this wood.  Very simple, but truly beautiful.

A small statue of Mary.

The central fresco behind the altar.

The next morning we visited the West Jefferson Farmer's Market to purchase the makings for our dinner.  Eggplant, tomatoes, and steak.  We also picked up some lovely goat cheese and crisp apples.

I really wanted a pie, but we resisted.

Afterwards we took a trip to the Ashe Cheese Factory.  These cows (there are three) are the milk containers for the factory.  The local high school shop class added the cow heads and legs as a class project.

It rained.  See that driveway going up the mountain just beyond the bridge?  Yea, that is the driveway to the cabin.  We had to leave the car on the far side of the bridge and tiptoe across the bridge.  Thankfully, the water receeded quickly and we had no trouble getting over the bridge later in the day.

A vist to the New River Winery (good wines!!) provided unexpected entertainment.  This local band, The Worthless Son-in-Laws, fought off the yellow jackets while giving us a fun show.  And shouldn't it be "The Worthless SonS-in-Law"?

What a lovely ramshackle set of buildings.  

West Jefferson doesn't let a fire hydrant go un-decorated.

Friday, September 7, 2012

running down my perfectionism

ASICS GT 2170 Women's Running shoes in "Storm".  On my computer screen they look electric pink, but are really more of a purple/violet.  I just LOVE them!  It is strange that I'd be so excited about a pair of running shoes, because I have always disliked sweating in general, and running in particular.  However, that has changed significantly in the past few months.

It all began back in mid-June when the Arkan-Sass 5 came for a visit.  Arkan-Sass Auntie is VERY FIT.  She exercises regularly - and seriously.  Tennis, Zumba, Elliptical, etc.  So, why I thought I could ever keep up with her when my exercise routine has been basically limited to brisk walking for years, I have no idea.  I was determined that whatever she was doing for exercise, I'd try, too.

When she told me she wanted to start running, I almost cried.  But I decided to at least give it a try.

The first day was pathetic!  And the second.  And the third.  You get the idea.

That was 12 weeks ago, and I'm still running.  A Auntie was using the "Couch 2 5k" program, so I've continued that.  I'd love to run a 5k, but really my ultimate goal is to be able to go out and run a few miles several times a week.  (In the meantime, she has completed the program, and run her 5k...with a personal best time of 28 minutes and 7 seconds!  I had to slow down my training due to slight injury - nothing major, just what one would expect when you haven't seriously exercised in years.)

If someone had told me, even in May, that I'd be on my way to becoming a runner, I really would not have believed it possible!  I'm an unlikely candidate with back and knee aches - not to mention being extremely out of shape.  But the small victories provided by C25k have been a real encouragement!  I highly recommend the program.

You can get a cheap app for iPhone or Android to guide you through the program.  Very helpful!  We tried timing the interval ourselves the first day and it was tricky; whereas, the app keeps the time and uses voice cues to let you know when to run or walk.  It also will play music from your playlists.

Of course this much activity combined with closely watching what I eat, initially using Weight Watchers, has shed a lot of fat.  A Auntie suggested the MyFitnessPal app and website as a great tool for keeping track of food.  After using it for about 2 months, I agree.

The other thing that has made all the difference?  Having a running partner.  At first it was Arkan-Sass Auntie, but once they went home I had to run a few times by myself.  It was OK, but Erik decided to run with me and that is a great help!  We get to chat a little bit and he encourages me...and has good suggestions!  And he always has something positive to say - even on my most discouraging days.

For people who are long-time runners, I know this is not exciting news, but for me it is almost revolutionary.

But there is something more, only a little more, I want to say about this new routine: it has taught me a great lesson, the lesson of "small victories".  As a perfectionist, the small victories have more often seemed to expose the greater failures.  Or at least as a perfectionist, that is all I could see.

That first day we ran, I felt like a real failure.  I was purple-faced, felt like vomiting and my muscles were burning.  How would I ever be ready to run again in 2 days?  How would I ever make it 3 miles (3.1 miles = 5k)?  How?

At this point I could focus on what I couldn't do (run with ease, and look good while doing it) or I could focus on what I did do.  I had FINISHED the run!

Still, my muscles were so sore by our next run day, I just couldn't imagine running.  But A Auntie encouraged me to just give it a try.  She promised that once the muscles got warmed up and the endorphins started flowing, I'd feel fine.  And she was right.  Amazingly, it was even a *little* bit easier than the first day.  And the third day was a little bit easier than the second.

Each week I've looked at the length of time (it increases each week) and thought, "I just don't think I can make it."  Yet, somehow (almost) each week I have.  And on those weeks I didn't quite make the new goal, I celebrated the fact that I was STILL running.  My pace was improving.  My cardiovascular was stronger...and I was still getting up 3 days a week to hit the pavement.  That is one of the beauties of programs like C25K:  it helps you to see progress in little increments...and pushes you just enough to meet new goals.  It gives you small victories.

I've learned to look for the small victories.  In fact, I set them up for myself.  When I'm running up a particularly hard hill instead of looking at the top I look for small "milestones" along the way (rocks, cracks, signs, mailboxes).  Literally, repeating in my mind, "Just get to the second mailbox, just get to the second mailbox."  And then, "Just get to that spot of sun, just get to that spot of sun."  You get the point.   

I can make it to the top of that hill, now!

Homeschooling is a lot like this.  I've got to look at the small victories of each day and praise those. While it is good to have a big goal in mind, it is the small victories that give me the encouragement to keep going.  The child who struggles in math has a successful day - Victory!  The slow reader who finally reads a whole story on her own - Victory!  The preschooler who finally remembers it is 3, 4, FIVE, 6 - Victory!  Rather than focusing on the three previous bad math days.  Or thinking that the slow reader will NEVER get past level 2 readers.  Or being frustrated that the preschooler is still forgetting that it is 7, EIGHT, 9, 10.

Recently I read a funny quote about running.  A man was in a running store comparing shoes to help improve his speed and performance.  The "pro" helping him said to him, "The best way to improve your running is just to move your feet."  Don't get hung up on finding the perfect pair of shoes (or curriculum), the perfect training plan (or teacher's planning pages), the perfect course (or co-op), just MOVE YOUR FEET.....


Monday, September 3, 2012

Our Morning Session - the trial run month

As I mentioned in a previous post, we have begun doing a Cindy-inspired "Morning Session".  She gave a wonderful talk at CiRCE about how Morning Time, as she calls it, has impacted her homeschool.  If you are looking for suggestions on CiRCE talks to purchase, this is definitely one!  (Hers is called "The Long Haul" and is about 1/3 up from the bottom of the list. These are only $3 each for a download!)

Being one to always make huge complicated plans that are then too difficult to institute, I chose this time to start small and grow our Morning Session over the year.  It may not grow much beyond what we have currently scheduled, we'll see.

I expect, but don't force, everyone to join us. The girls are eager to listen and participate.  They bring something to do at the table (we do this part of school at our kitchen table).  The boys?  Not so much.  But they have obliged me.  I've even enticed them both to participate a little bit.  Since I am breaking them in to this, I let them look at their email while I read.  We read the "older" stuff first and then I release them to go get started on their other work (that is Cindy's suggestion).

So, we've begun and it has gone well...for the most part.  There have been a few days the boys slept in instead of getting up to join us.  They've balked a bit at having to join us (not seeing the 'point' in it).  The girls LOVE our Morning Session.

Most of the selections I've chosen are inspired by Ambleside Online  and Cindy's Morning Time blog, so I take no credit.  You can get wonderful ideas from both of those sources.

Here's a screen shot of our schedule.  We haven't completed a day with all of these accomplished, yet.  But we are getting to most of them each day.

Wednesday is our CC day, so no Morning Session then.  After having done this for about 3 weeks, I'm ready to tweak a few things.  And I've yet to find the Ancient Hymns I want to start using.

Any one out there doing any type of Morning Time?  I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Our summer in photos...

 As promised... some photos starting with a late April wedding...

My "baby" brother and his new wife!  Married in a lovely, quick outdoor ceremony at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront (our hometown).  

And then one of us turned a year older...

Athos turned SIXTEEN!  We had a low-key campfire party with smores, watermelon, sodas and LOTS of glow in the dark sticks.

Athos and his favorite girl.  We embarrassed him by having a little family celebration before the party with cake and an out-of-tune rendition of "Happy Birthday".

Then in mid-June our dear friends from Arkansas came to visit...we'll just call them the Arkan-sass 5.  They aren't originally from Arkansas, just ended up there recently.  The kids are more like cousins, in fact the adults all go by "Aunt" and "Uncle"....and really we are a lot like family, only no baggage.  LOL!  Erik and I met Arkan-sass Uncle through college friends...and then we all spent lots of time together in our early married days in the Wash., DC area.  We try to see them once a year or so.   

Artemisia at the Shakespeare on The Green  show (The Tempest - Athos was working crew for this show).

The two youngest from our families.  Quite a few years apart (he's 10, she's 3), but they sure do enjoy each other's company!

And then, FINALLY, it was time for the beach!  We rented a house on Topsail Island, NC. 

Our walkway to the beach.  

Lots of silliness and giggles on the porch under a beautiful beach sunset.

Arkan-sass Auntie with her eldest and youngest.

Arkan-sass Auntie and I goofing around in the kitchen.  

Most of the gang goofing around while our tie-dye shirts dried.  Yes, we tie dyed!  It was a blast!

And we feasted!  This must have been fajita (beef and shrimp) night.  Oh, my the BEST fajita dry rub ever!  Arkan-sass Auntie and Uncle put cinnamon in theirs along with the typical hispanic spices.

And more feasting!  Among these two families, the dads love to cook, too!  That makes the moms quite happy.

Awww...aren't they cute? 

Athos and Arkan-sass eldest.  These two are barely a year apart and good friends.

Artemisia showing us her surfing moves.

Kalliope and Arkan-sass middle enjoyed a lot of playtime this year.

We've shared early marriage, early parenthood, and now we share teen woes and wonders.  We are both so glad our husbands met!

A proud daddy and his best girl.  These two are thick as thieves.  

Faramir looking a little lobstery.  He's almost as pink as the sunset behind him.

There was a LOT of testosterone this year.  

The younger kids collected these beautiful grey-blue, ocean-washed stones.  I've got buckets full looking for a good craft project.

 One of us got to celebrate his beginning the journey to adulthood with a men-only beach evening culminating in a very impressive sword gift.

The last day we took some photos of our crazy group...

The girls being "pirate-y"

The boys being "Captain Morgan-y"

The whole Pirate Crew

And the original pirates

The older boys designed the iron-on that we put on everyone's tie-dye shirts.  ('92 is when all the adults started  hanging out.)
 It was so sad to see them go!  We had a wonderful two weeks, which felt longer in a REALLY GOOD way.

Before we knew it, we were celebrating Independence Day.  We kept it low-key this year.  The boys and I made a run to South Carolina for some fireworks and put on our own mini-show in the cul-de-sac with our next-door neighbors.

Artemisia was brave with the sparklers!

Not bad for back-yard fireworks, huh?

Kalliope and her "twin" next door - they are just weeks apart in age and awfully cute together.