Tuesday, April 1, 2008

November 2007

I can’t believe we are coming up on Thanksgiving so quickly… doesn’t help that it’s early this year, the time is just flying. We are enjoying homeschooling, for the most part, though I’ve certainly noticed the decrease in my “personal time” (what was that, anyway?!) Still, as busy as it feels, we are enjoying being able to set our own schedule. Today we took a break right in the middle of our “school day” to go to two grocery stores (when they weren’t busy) and take advantage of good turkey sales. I now have FOUR turkeys in my freezer! I love turkey any time of year.

Wrapping up outdoor soccer, although it is followed by indoor soccer, has freed up quite a bit of time, as indoor has no practices (they just don’t have enough field time.) The kids just show up for an hour once a week, play their little hearts out, connect with their buddies, and then we go back home. And we stay warm and dry! What’s not to love!

Did I mention in the last letter that our TV broke? I have had an urge to ‘go TV-less’ since our last TV broke (in 2003) but we were given another by my generous parents. Oddly, over the last couple of years that TV would occasionally quit working. The kids would look alarmed and start conspiring about how much a new one would cost and how they could buy one… which I would always veto. Every time this happened (probably 5 or 6 times at least) I told them to pray about it, and if God wanted us to have a TV then somehow He would take care of it. Wouldn’t you know, it would start working again, a few days later?!

Well… until now. Go figure. Now that we’re homeschooling, it REALLY broke, complete with odd noises. Kerry took it outside, put the boys up high on ladders, with safety goggles on, and let them drop big rocks on the TV until it imploded! Weird sound! You would probably be surprised how thick the glass is on a TV screen. They had a lot of fun bashing up the old TV. (I highly recommend a book called “The Plug-In Drug”!)

The boys had a lot of fun for Halloween. Our church put on a “Pumpkin Bash” for the first time… LOTS more fun (for the adults) than trudging around in the dark, and LOTS of ‘carnival’ games, activities, and candy for the kids. We have a family “policy” that we don’t buy costumes for Halloween (partly because I object to joining THAT retail feeding frenzy and partly because I want the kids to create their own) but I will let them buy “accessories” – a cowboy hat, a sword, or something they might play with again. Wyatt was a pirate, Gunnar was a cowboy, and Tate – the Civil War buff – was a Union Soldier (Infantry).

Homeschooling keeps me on my toes. The boys really love science, especially if it fizzes, bubbles, or explodes. We have been studying animals too – mostly ones we can catch and watch, but we did snakes last week and that was ONLY from books! Ever since the boys saw the photo of the cobra on our friends’ patio (they are missionaries in Zambia) they have been very diligent to pray for their safety!

We have been studying Egypt in history. The boys decided to do a skit showing how to make a mummy. Gunnar volunteered to be the mummy! Tate was the narrator and Wyatt was the priest. Tate first explained what the Egyptians believed about the afterlife (they believed their heart would be weighed against the feather of truth). Then they explained how it was done. Wyatt had made a big cardboard dagger and pretended to rip Gunnar’s side open (boys are SO gruesome!) and had prepared balloon “organs” to remove that were hidden under a sheet! It was pretty funny! Gunnar did a good job of holding still and not giggling - dead people NEVER giggle! Wyatt did a good job of acting each thing out with quite a bit of drama. And Tate did a good job of reading through a lot of information. After Thanksgiving we will be learning about Ancient Greece.

I’ve been trying to incorporate lots of field trips, which I think the boys covered pretty well. We’ve been to apple and pumpkin farms, to the Theater for a play (“From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”, which we read first), to the newspaper, and the police and fire stations. Our next door neighbor, Bea, came over a couple days ago and asked if the boys would like to come over one morning early in December and make Gingerbread Men for homeschool. They’re funny boys – none of them care for eating gingerbread, but are excited about making and decorating them!

We’ve also been going up to the local school once a week for a sign language lesson. Tate is still entitled to receive services from the district, and this seemed like a great way to benefit all of us! Guess who is the quickest learner… Gunnar!

Last week was oriented around Tate’s birthday. His constant level of anticipation has been unbelievable. Of course, he wanted a Civil War birthday party, which was a bit of a challenge. As you might imagine, there is rather a lack of party-themed Civil War items! (Not a big seller at Target?!)

I have to tell a little Gunnar story. He has begun AWANA – a church club that emphasizes Scripture memory. It's probably loosely based on scouting - the kids earn and wear uniforms, and then earn patches and other awards to display on their uniforms, mostly through Scripture memory, but there are other activities as well. AWANA has been around for many many years. In my personal opinion the program works best with younger kids, who think the uniforms are cool and are motivated by plastic "crowns" (pins) and plastic "jewels". Wyatt and Tate did very well in the Kind - 2nd grade club, but "burned out" very quickly as they got older.

Well, now Gunnar is finally old enough to go to AWANA. He is SO VERY EXCITED!!!!! On Wednesday evening he was ready to go a good half hour early. We reviewed his memory verses and got his little Sparky vest on. As we were walking out to the van he said, "Mom! I have Bible Stories at home. I go to Sunday School. And now I go to AWANA. So I am TOTALLY going to learn about God!!!" (As if that were a body of knowledge that he could acquire in one year!) Still, I encouraged him that his attitude brings joy to God, and to his parents =0)

Here’s the update from the boys, and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us =0)

How’s things doing? Right here, it’s gone well. My soccer season was great, for us! One thing I liked, is when I won! There were two kids on my team that were some of my best friends – the boys were named Ivan and Lincoln. I like the practices and the games and everything about soccer. My team was called Eagle Sharks because some of us voted “eagles” and some of us voted “sharks”.

Home schooling is very fun! I get to do alphabet dot-to-dots and practicin’ reading. And I like math too! Lately we’ve been reading the Bible and we’ve gotten to the part where the Israelites were goin’ out of Egypt… I mean they’re OUT of Egypt! Up at school we do sign language class. (You do know that Tate is partly deaf.)

Our first field trip was the apple orchard. Then the pumpkin patch. Then we went to a place where they made newspapers. Then, lets see… we went to a play. After that we went to the police station and after that we went to the fire station! I believe my favorite was the fire station.

A PTO day is when school is off. In other words, there’s no school that day. (Personal Time Off, in mom-speak.) On a PTO day we play and do fun stuff and sometimes we go to my grandpa and grandma’s house.

I do AWANA! It’s very fun. We play games and memorize verses. I have friends at AWANA, like Levi and Juliann and a boy named Joey. He’s nice. Mostly we play games with balls.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Love Gunnar

My season of outdoor soccer is done. My team, the Extreme, has had a successful outdoor season and is starting indoor. Which, by the way, is just as fun as outdoor! In indoor soccer the field is a lot smaller and the goals are smaller too, but there’s no “out of bounds” so the game goes very FAST! My opinion is that you get more exercise doing indoor than outdoor because you have to run a lot more and it’s always warm and that means you don’t get cold and tired as quickly.

In homeschool I am doing some geometry in my math. We finished our chicken mummy and made him a decorated sarcophagus. We made a smelly purple die out of cabbage and tried to tie-dye some shirts with it, but it didn’t work very well. It must be hard to invent dye that does not fade in one wash! I like to read Calvin and Hobbes in my free time.

Once in awhile my mom lets us have a PTO day (PTO is a personal time off day, no school… just play, when it’s not a weekend.) On PTO days we mostly make lego creations and have lots of fun! Sometimes on PTO days we go to our grandpa and grandma’s house and we usually play (inside this time of year) and watch TV some of the time. We stay until about dinner time.

We’ve been doing quite a few field trips. So far my favorite field trip was to the pumpkin farm. We chose a pumpkin and went in a corn maze! Gunnar almost got lost. Well, he did, but we found him.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!
From, “me” (Wyatt)

I had a great birthday with two parties! One for kids and one for family. We had fun at my kid party playing lots of fun games, like “Battlefield Bombarders” and “Underground RailRoad Race”! Jonathan, Cameron, Tyler, Justin, Jacob, Josh, Ben, and Isaac all came. My family party was fun. Most of my relatives were there. The party was for me and grandma, because her birthday is right before mine. I got lots of cool stuff!

I just finished playing outdoor soccer and started playing indoor. It’s really fun! I have two big games tomorrow. Outdoor soccer is different because sometimes it rains or sometimes it’s sunny. But at indoor soccer it never rains. The game is faster because the ball can’t go out of bounds too easily. (It’s only out of bounds if it goes up really high and hits the top of the nets, or the lights.) It feels like I run more. Also, in outdoor I almost always play defense, but in indoor, I play all over!

We have fun field trips in homeschool. My favorite field trips were going to police and fire station. We got to learn a bunch of stuff, get trading cards, see inside a police car and a fire truck and an ambulance, and see what is in and on fire trucks and police cars! School is fun because of history. We have been studying the Israelites lately. They were God’s chosen people. We’ve gotten quite far into studying Egypt, up to when the Israelites came out of Egypt. We also studied the Phoenicians. They were famous for blowing glass and stinky purple dye they made from snails. We tried to make dye, but it all just washed out. It was stinky, though!

Happy Thanksgiving!
From, Tate

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