Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekly Wrap: Beginning and Ending with Art

Weekly Wrap-Up

Thankfully this week was a bit slower paced than earlier in the month. While it is still a bit over-scheduled, for now it's working. Although, I anticipate greater cuts to our outside activities next semester to allow more "downtime" in our week.

My oldest finally did his assignment.

Monday morning we were home! Yeah! We started the afternoon at our bi-monthly drawing class. I posted about this earlier this week (Why My Boys Take Art Lessons).

I also run a 4-H club and Monday was our first meeting of the new year. We finished wrapping up the year, talking about what this is going to be like and figured out what we would do this year for club projects. Not all 4-H clubs are animal focused. Ours is made up of kids from age five to fifteen with a couple of 2-3 year olds tossed in for good measure (younger siblings). All the kids involved are also homeschooled.

Last year we only met once a month. This year we are going to try meeting twice a month. The first meeting will be an arts & crafts project designed to both get our younger crew more involved as well as create projects to enter in to the fairs.

Our second monthly meeting will focus on our bigger club projects - GPS/GIS and Adventure & Challenge. I have some fun ideas for those but I don't want to tell anyone about them just yet.

Monday evenings find my youngest son at karate class and I go to my Zumba class. It's a great way to end the day in my opinion.

Tuesday is our crazy-busy-out-of-the-house-most-of-the-day day. Phew! That's about how I finish every Tuesday. We begin at 7:30 as we all head out the door as soon as my little charge arrives (I babysit a two year old boy). We drive 20 minutes to the next town over and drop my oldest son off at his weekly Adult Education class he's taking.

It's called College Transitions and it's designed to help people get ready for community college for the most part. They have a two hour math class, technology class, English Lit class, and a study skills/time management/test prep class. I think he's liking it but math is kicking his proverbial behind.

The rest of the boys and I then have an hour to kill in town until my youngest and middle son have swim lessons. This week I had a few errands to run so we did those and then headed to the college where the lessons are held.

I both love and hate swim lessons. I love that my boys are learning to swim really well right now (I do not). I hate sitting pool side for two hours while they have lessons - while wrangling a two year old. The way the schedule was set up this year, my youngest has class for 40 minutes, then all the lower level students have class for 30 minutes, and then my middle son has class for 40 minutes. It makes for a very long morning.

My two boys during lessons earlier this year when they had lessons at the same time.

However, this week we tried something new. I bought a day pass to the gym and, with his mom's permission, put the two year old into a play group that is designed so that Mom's can work out for an hour. I then plugged in some tunes and walked the indoor track for an hour. I could see him as I made my rounds. I could also see in to the pool area where I left my middle son to work on his schoolwork while my youngest had his lesson. This only left us an hour to fill with a squirming toddler. Overall he does really well, but it is hot in there!

We then head home where Mr. T (the 2 year old) goes immediately down for a much needed nap. The boys finish up whatever schoolwork they didn't get done before leaving or while at the pool. We only have 3-1/2 hours at home though before once again loading up in the truck. I take my middle son to his martial arts class and head back to pick up my oldest from his class.

I then bring the oldest and youngest home and head back to the dojo to pick up the middle one. I sometimes meet Mr. T's mom in town while picking up my oldest to drop him off. If she's unable to meet me, I drop him with his dad after picking up my son from karate.

Typically I then am home for about an hour before heading out to Bible study. This week we didn't have study so my hubby and I went on a date. Much needed.

Wednesday was a blissful day at home for the most part. We start the day with music lessons. My middle son is taking piano lessons much to his consternation. He's been playing for four years and I intend for him to play for at least four more. He'd like to quit immediately. I feel it's important for him to continue so he will continue. My youngest son has also been playing piano for four years. He just started taking violin lessons last month as well. I have a feeling, based on what his teacher has told me, that he may like that one better.

Wednesday evening we're again back at the dojo. Each boy has lessons twice a week but the schedule was changed a few months ago so they are there on different days of the week. This means I'm at the dojo Monday through Thursday.

Thursday typically means another early start for our family. Although, this week I started even earlier by heading to the gym at 5:30am for a weight training class called BodyPump. It's a group exercise class that uses low weights but high reps. Today (Friday) I'm feeling it and I've typically been going once or twice a week for the last month but my schedule got in my way so this was my first time going in a week. Ow!

My oldest also usually attends a math lab for his College Transitions class from 8-10am. Thankfully it was cancelled this week. I was thankful because my three boys and my nephew have a tutor for Spanish twice a month. We meet at her apartment. Class starts at 10am which means on Thursdays I usually have two hours to kill in town. Today we were just able to head in to class.

My sister and I usually walk around town with our toddlers in tow, well, we push them in stroller. However, we've been in the middle of a Nor'ester of rain and wind. Instead we opted to go shopping. We hit the thrift store in town and did a quick run through Wal-Mart.

For the last four weeks and for a few more, I've been attending a Titus 2 Bible study on Thursday evenings. It's been really excellent and I'm glad I can make the time to go.

Friday usually means we are home. However, this week we had a field trip. We headed to the Colby College Art Museum for a tour. We did a 30 minute tour of the contemporary art area. I'm always amazed at what people consider art.

Pieces of acrylic with gray colored edges and pops of colors behind it. 
It reminds me of lichen growing on tree. Not sure if that is what the artist had in mind or not.

We did see some amazing works of art as well by some very well known artists such as Georgia O'Keefe.

But one of the biggest reason I had scheduled the tour was to see the Bernard Langlais exhibit. This tour deserves its own post which I'll do another day.

We then headed to church for play practice. The two younger boys have parts in a rendition of A Christmas Carol put on by a group of homeschooling students. My middle son is playing Bob Cratchitt and my youngest the "Poulterer." They are really enjoying themselves and I'm glad they have the chance to not only see plays but to now be in one.

So a busy but full week yet again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why My Boys Take Art Lessons

This past Monday at art class.

Last year a local homeschooling mom began coordinating twice monthly drawing lessons for homeschooling kids. The art teacher also happens to be our music teacher. He comes to our home every week and teaches my two younger boys piano and my youngest son violin. 

I love the fact that we can now attend art lessons just ten minutes from our home. For the past four or five years I was driving 30 minutes (before our move) to almost an hour (after our move) for my boys to attend twice monthly art classes. I called those lessons "messy art" as they were mostly pottery, painting, and just generally messy stuff. And the mess wasn't in my house! I thought it was important though, so I took the time to bring them. They loved those classes. This fall our messy art classes didn't fit in to our schedule.
My youngest working on a perspective drawing. 
He has a sample beside him from the teacher and he is working to recreate it.

Now none of my boys have an innate talent for art. By that I mean, without constant practice and instruction, I doubt any of them would be artists. However, since my oldest was just 8, I have used every opportunity I could to expose them to art and have them learn from others. I have no talent for drawing myself either, but I have to wonder if constant practice would have helped develop it to an extent where I could do something with it.

I vividly remember the first time I met Barry Stebbing from How Great Thou Art almost ten years ago. A homeschool mom had invited him to our area to do one of his three day art intensives. I only enrolled my then eight year old son and didn't plan for my four year old or two year old to participate. I knew the classes would be fast paced and it would be hard to keep up - especially for an active and highly distractable four year old!

However, he said something about his philosophy on learning art. Essentially it is this, "Art is a discipline. God has given all of us, to one degree or another, abilities in art that should be nurtured." That resonated with me and I was determined to make sure my children had every opportunity we could to explore art and what they could do in that discipline. 
My middle kiddo drawing a Bioncle. 

Today I realized that while the twice monthly drawing lessons are great, I need to make sure to give them time to be creative at home as well. So on their school checklist just today I added "Art. Draw something using what you learned in class this week. Fill the page. Use color. Date it." And here is what they did:

My youngest drew a Minecraft character. No surprise there.

My middle son drew airplanes. Again. Not surprised at all.

My oldest son hasn't completed this assignment yet (no surprise either) so I pulled this one from his sketchbook. 

It was great today as my middle son had completed his drawing while our teacher was here for music lessons (yes, he comes to our house every week for music lessons) and he was able to give some constructive feedback on how to make the drawing better. 

Overall the time and investment over the years in exposing my boys to drawing in particular and art in general has been well worth it. I would encourage you to invest time in things that your children may not show an innate talent for because you never know what talent God has hidden in them just waiting for the right time to shine. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Maine History

The State of Maine requires homeschoolers teach Maine history at some point between grades 6-12. Although, homeschoolers who are educating under "Option 2" or "Recognized for Attendance Purposes Private Schools" (RAPPS) are just required to teach it at some point. I am the administrator for a RAPPS school here in Maine and the above photo is some of the students who are enrolled. Each family teaches their own children in their own home, but being part of a RAPPS allows us to avoid some of the paperwork required of "Option 1" students. That's just a bit of background. 

I have found that field trips within the state do an extremely good job of helping students learn Maine history. They realize that it's not just dry information but it helps put real faces and artifacts to the stories they hear. 

This past Friday I put together a field trip with another friend who runs a different RAPPS school. I coordinated a day in Brunswick. We split in to four groups (two at two different locations) and then switched. My group started at the Joshua Chamberlain House. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside the house. 

Joshua Chamberlain was a famous solider in the Civil War. The home we toured was the house he lived in while working at Bowdoin College as well as when he was Governor of the state. 

The history of the home was fascinating.  It was originally in a different spot and was only 1-1/2 stories tall. However, when Chamberlain became President of Bowdoin College, he had the home lifted up (11 feet!) and an entirely new first floor built. This is what we toured. 

We were able to go in to his office. It had some original items that he had while he was a solider. Many of the items were recreations but there were some originals. I always find this part fascinating since it's so neat to think about the people using the items. 

Our tour here lasted about 45 minutes. Once it was done, we all walked down the street (about a 1/4 mile) to the Skolfield-Whittier House. Both houses are managed by the Pejepscot Historical Society.

I actually found this house more fascinating then Joshua Chamberlain's. The home was built by two brothers. Each lived on one side (semi-detached). There were four brothers total and the other two brothers had homes beside this one. If you can see the fence behind my boys in the photo above, it surrounds all four houses marking them as families. 

The Skolfield-Whittier families were the only ones to ever occupy this home until the historical society bought it. The amazing thing was that they never threw anything out! Coupled with the fact that it looks as if they all just up and left for vacation yesterday and left their front door open, and it's a unique look at how families lived in the late 1800s. 

I found it interesting in that I grew up in a home of the same era. There was a wonderful cast iron cooking stove in the kitchen. My kitchen had a similar styled one, although my parents did purchase it for our house. It was not original. I also grew up with a hot water tank attached to the wood stove. In fact, until I was in high school, we did not have hot running water in the summer time. The only time we had hot water was when the wood stove was in use. So in the summer time we had to heat water on our electric stove and take sponge baths and wash our hair over the tub. I loved it when my parents had oil heat put in! This home also had a very large water tank attached to the cook stove in the kitchen. 

This house was simply amazing to wander through. I have to admit that oftentimes I set up these field trips for the parents more for the kids. They are just excuses for us to go out and enjoy some of these venues. At least, I'm sure that's what my kids think. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. What's your favorite time of day? Why? Typically I love the evenings when everyone else has gone to bed and it's just me still up. It's quiet and peaceful. However, I started getting up super early in the morning to head to the gym before my day begins with kiddos. I wouldn't want to get crazy and say 4:30am is my favorite time of day, but it is just as quiet and peaceful. 

2. Waffle iron, toaster, coffee maker, mixer, blender...which small appliance would you say most needs replacing in your house? I'm actually pretty good on all of these things. I don't actually own a waffle iron though so I guess I should pick that.

3. It's National Grouch Day (October 15)...what's something that makes you feel grouchy? That's a loaded question! Unfortunately, I can get quite grouchy quite often for no reason. Just ask my hubby. He'll tell you the truth of that statement! If I'm really grouchy, it's a combination of a few things including lack of sleep and a busy schedule. I'm working on that though. A low blood sugar also makes me super grouchy. I just need to eat to fix that one though.

4. Ever been to Canada? Is that a country you'd like to visit? According to Trip Advisor, the top ten best destinations in Canada are-Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Victoria, Calgary, Niagara on the Lake, Niagara Falls, Whistler, and Halifax. Which city would you most like to see? Last year my hubby and I took a week long vacation to Canada for our 20th wedding anniversary. We started in Quebec City, took an an afternoon in Montreal, time in Toronto and we ended our week at Niagara Falls. It was fantastic. We both agree that Quebec City was our favorite and we'd love to go back some day.

I'd love to go to PEI and Halifax. I love Anne of Green Gables.

Anniversary dinner in the 360 Restaurant in the CN Tower in Toronto

5. What was your favorite food (or one of your favorites) when you were a child? Is that still a favorite? Pizza but it wasn't a favorite until I was about 10. And yes, I still do like it! In fact, I had pizza for lunch just today.

6. Do you cry easily? Yes and no. I seem to tear up more easily but I rarely have a good breakdown crying session. 

7. Have you started your (gasp!) Christmas shopping? If so when, and how much? If not, when will you even begin thinking about it? I actually have! This is early for me as I don't typically start until November and I've even been known to wait until December. This year I have most of the gifts already bought for my younger nieces and nephews. I am heading out shopping at the end of the month and will probably get some things for my immediate family. I have a few miscellaneous things for my boys but not anything big yet. I like that by doing it early I'm able to be more thoughtful in my gift buying.

8. Insert your own random thought here. I contribute to another blog called Dear Daughter. It's a "Titus 2" blog set up to help encourage younger woman. I'm really enjoying writing articles for it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

{DVD Review} A Long Way Off by Word Films

A Long Way Off is a modern retelling of the story of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11-32. The parable shares the story of two sons. One insists on taking his inheritance from his father early and going off to live the life he wants, turning his back on his family. The second son stays at home and continues to help his father. The first son ends up squandering all of his money and soon finds himself working for a farmer and eyeing the pig slops since he was so hungry. It's at that point that he decides to go home and at least work for his father for free. His father is so happy to see him he throws a party. The son who stayed home becomes jealous of all his father is doing for the son who has returned. His father tells him that all he has withheld nothing from him but that they must celebrate since the prodigal son had been dead and is now alive.

This movie does an excellent job retelling the parable set in modern times. The lead character, Jake, works on the family farm. He is tired of following his father's rules and working with his brother, Seth, so he asks his father for his inheritance early so that he can try life on his own terms. Surprisingly his father agrees to his terms and Jake heads to the city. He soon finds himself living a life full of what he thinks he wants - a high rise condo, a nice car, expensive watches, and money just rolling in from investments.

However, the bottom drops out of his world when the investments he made fail. He soon finds himself on the wrong side of a local mobster and running for his life. He is now eating of trash cans and sleeping on the streets. He is challenged to return to the home he has and he does so, not thinking he will have a good reception. Just like the story in the Bible says though, his father is thrilled to see him.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I think it would be an excellent family night movie and could start some great discussion with your family. You can see a trailer of the movie below.

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