Pump Day Special: Easter Dresses!

Welcome to “Pump Day”, where one day a week we homeschool in heels and talk about all things girlie!

……

Pump_Day_2What an appropriate way to celebrate both ‘Pump Day’ and Easter! Let’s talk Easter dresses!

Here in Southern California, we don’t really ‘do’ Easter Dresses. Oh, sure; you’ll see little girls in cute Easter outfits, some with adorable hats to match. We might even force our boys to dress a little nicer. But, us grown ladies, not so much.

I am beginning to wonder if this isn’t more of a southern thing. Easter dresses conjure images of women wearing flowery dresses, complete with hats and gloves, all attending the local Baptist church. After which, they generally have a church picnic and festivities for the family.

In our neck of the woods, if you wear a pretty blouse and sandals, you are dressed for Easter. We don’t have picnics; we BBQ or cook a ham at home with family.

CG_Easter_logo

I like the idea of Easter dresses though. My husband says this is because I like tradition and ceremony; apparently this is ‘a girl thing’. Sometimes I wish I lived in the south, where I wouldn’t stand out in my peach dress and gloves. (Not that I own such things, but I can dream.)

Knee-length, tea dresses would be perfect for Easter. Pair this with an adorable fastener (I find these intriguing and wish I were brave enough to wear one) and heeled sandals; you are ready to celebrate Easter in style.

Alas, I live in the land of palm trees. So, I will have to settle on linen slacks and a teal blouse. Of course, I could start a trend and actually buy a dress! Perhaps if a few of us started things off, the rest of the crowd would join in?

Question: To hat or not to hat, on Easter? Thoughts…

Easter Flashback

Easter, several years back, with my mother. (My son was not born yet.)

As always… While fashion is fun, we should always remember:

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – I Peter 3:3-4

Easter Fun: Books

CG_Easter_logoJoin us this week, as we explore memorable and edifying ways to celebrate Easter. We encourage you to take some of the ideas you find and make them your own. Feel free to share your thoughts on each of these projects and join in the fun!

……

Some people will tell you that coffee is the stuff of life. Personally, I think it’s books. Our home is filled to the brim, with more shuffling being done by the minute to fit more. Books are invaluable!

Naturally, this would mean that a large part of our Easter festivities include books. Each year, I usually try to snag a book or two add to our collection. I have specific guidelines for picking our books however; they need to be Biblically based. We aren’t telling stories about fuzzy chicks and bunny rabbits here. (Those aren’t bad necessarily, but I only have so much time and resource. We prefer to choose books that refer to the true meaning of Resurrection week.)

We thought it would be fun comparing notes on awesome Easter story books. We’ll share a few of our favorites and you guys share some of yours!

Easter BooksThe Bible - Yup! The first, and most important, book we read during Easter week is our Bible. The story couldn’t be told more concisely or more accurately than here. Always make this the first stop!

The Legend of the Easter Egg - In this story, two young children learn how an Easter egg tells the story of Christ’s death and resurrection. Great illustrations and charmingly told, this was a great addition to our collection.

The Parable of the Lily - A young lady mistakenly tosses out an ‘ugly root’, only to find that inside was the hidden beauty of an Easter lily. This story was a beautiful reminder of Christ’s death and resurrection.

The Easter Story - This one is pretty self-explanatory. In this book, we are given a summation of the true Easter story for little ears to understand and relate to. It was perfect for our children when they were preschoolers.

Easter Books #2

Hop - No; this is not the book a certain movie was based on. This is a unique creation, written by my oldest daughter! In Hop, the Easter bunny learns he is not the ‘reason for the season’! Hop learns what Easter truly stands for and comes to accept Christ and His amazing gift. (On a personal note: I am very proud of this little book! My daughter did a spectacular job with the illustrations and the heart of the story is very touching.)

Your turn! Chime in and share your favorite Easter stories with us. We always like picking up a good book!

Easter Fun: Resurrection Eggs

CG_Easter_logoJoin us this week, as we explore memorable and edifying ways to celebrate Easter. We encourage you to take some of the ideas you find and make them your own. Feel free to share your thoughts on each of these projects and join in the fun!

……

There’s nothing like an egg hunt. We adults have fun hiding them in the most obscure of places and the kiddos enjoy the hunt. What makes an egg hunt even more memorable? When it has a purpose!

Each year, for as long as I can remember, we have unearthed our special box of eggs reserved only for Easter; Resurrection Eggs. Twelve, little ovum filled with objects to help better understand the resurrection story; our kids’ eyes light up the minute they spy the box.

Resurrection Eggs

When our children were especially little, we would hide the eggs and the kids would find them. Now, we take turns hiding and finding; alternating between all the kiddos and us adults. After the initial finding, we sit down to go through the resurrection story and remind our children of the importance of this holy week.

 

Each night, for eight days straight, we go through this tradition. We hide, we find, and we retell the story. Each night we make a point of finding new aspects of the story to bring forth, new insight for the children to glean.

The Resurrection Eggs kit comes with a handy booklet to help direct your family through the retelling of the resurrection story. You are led through each of the various, colored eggs and given verses to read through as well. Unbeknownst to most of us, in the back of the book is an additional list of ideas for you to work with! If your family has outgrown those initial twelve eggs, several more are suggested for you to create together. Each additional egg adds more detail to the story and further develops the resurrection story.

Resurrection Eggs (close-up)I think our family is just about ready to advance to the next step! Easter week has just begun and this would be a lovely project to work on together. Let’s see how many more ‘Resurrection Eggs’ we can add to our collection.

If you could only add five additional ‘Resurrection Eggs’ to the collection, which would you choose? Why do you think they are the most significant?

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” – John 11:25

Easter Week Begins!

Aside from Christmas, Easter is the most significant holiday for Christians. This is more than just an opportunity collect eggs, wear cute bunny ears, and hoard candy; Easter is amazing, redeeming grace.

Unlike most of the other kids in our neighborhood, this marks the beginning of our Easter vacation. For our family, this is a time to put aside outside responsibilities and simply focus on the true meaning of this holy week. From this Sunday till next, we will focus on all things Easter.

Join us this coming week as we focus on the true meaning of this special holiday. We hope to share some of our favorite games, activities, crafts, and recipes which all point towards Christ and His love for us.

It is our desire to use this week not only for encouraging our family, but to learn from yours! Share with us your favorite Easter traditions and memories.

……

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Easter week. While this event might be dismissed as common knowledge, I think it would be a mistake to not review its significance with our family.

In all four of the gospels, this event is retold. We are given a picture of Jesus entering Jerusalem, riding a lowly donkey while the peoples around Him proclaim His glory and honor.

What is so incredible about this moment? Several things, in fact! One, Jesus rode on a donkey. Why a donkey and not a horse? Historically, a donkey would have signified peace. Christ had not come to demolish this city or to destroy it; He had come to bring peace and to restore peace between mankind and God. Second, the people laid down palm branches. While some consider this an honor (and it was), interestingly, palms were also a symbol of eternal life and often used in funeral processions.

Each year, beginning with Palm Sunday, we remind our children of this beautiful story. Christ came to bring peace between us and God. He came to die, to pay for our sin, and to provide us with eternal life. He came with humility, with love, and with grace.

The Easter Story

Always looking for practical ways to teach our children, over the years we’ve picked various ways to review this incredible story. We’ve watched videos and read books about Palm Sunday. One year, we picked palm branches from out front and reenacted the story! Our favorite song to sing is, “Hosanna to the King!” from a classic Donut Man video.

As this week quickly approaches, we are once again looking forward to digging in even deeper and discovering more truths from God’s Word. While we won’t be doing any ‘formal learning’, I know there is much to be taught and many things to learn. This is going to be an exciting, wonderful week!

Does your family have a favorite story you read on Palm Sunday? Share it with us; we’d love to read it, too!

On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed [is] the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. – John 12:12-15

It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

I found this to be an awesome, spiritual encouragement from a recent newsletter through our PSP. With permission of our principal, I pray you are blessed by these words…

Have you ever noticed that trials seem to happen in waves? It often seems to me that we experience spiritual challenges in groups. Usually the first trial comes along and we begin well in the weathering process. Pray over it, remember the promises that God has given us, and can usually keep our hopes up. Then the next trial comes along, usually while the first is still going on. We start out well again, but as the third, fourth, or even further along, 5th or 6th trials come, we become consumed with the difficulties, and can tend to lose our focus. Our view of God becomes obscured and the light grows a little dim. If we stay like that, our world can become quite dark, sometimes literally overnight.

I recently had the chance to revisit a story that most of us are probably familiar with, the story of a widow who had just lost her son. In Luke’s account of the gospel, he shares with us the account of the widow of Nain. Take a moment to read the account in Luke 7:11-17.

As I read the passage, I struggled to find a link between it and another passage regarding John the Baptist in prison. Trying to find a connection between two Sunday school lessons for different age groups is always rewarding for me. Golden nuggets come to light that I may have missed if I wasn’t comparing several passages with each other.

Often we read without taking the time to really and truly put ourselves in the story. As I tried to imagine what the widow was experiencing, the picture started to become a little clearer. In our preset time, a widow may not have as hard a time of things as back then. Many women have careers and, with a few changes, can still be self-sufficient with the loss of a spouse.

At the time this was penned, that was not true. A woman who had lost her husband was in great distress. Her children took on the duty of caring for Mom as she became older herself. This woman had basically lost all help. First her husband, and then her son, her only son, was also removed from her life.

Whatever property she may have had would probably revert to the next closest male relative of her husband, and she would be left to try to cobble together some form of income and sustenance at a later time in life.

Sure, at the moment, during the funeral procession, there were lots of people around her, and I am sure that some would have tried to help her; but late at night, when she went home, who would be there then? She surely felt alone, without hope, and utterly overwhelmed by her current situation. It was at that moment that Jesus came by. It says that He had compassion on her. She was stricken with grief, He said, “Do not weep.”

He could have made a great show of it, waited for the man to be buried and had the stone rolled away; but instead, he touched the coffin… causing the procession to stop. Then He simply speaks and everything changes. It says that the young man sat up and began to speak and that Jesus then presented him to his mother. In the middle of the hurricane of her life, His voice brought life, hope, peace and joy. She didn’t need a major display later down the road, she needed Him now, and He knew it, and met her at the time and place, and in the way that she needed Him most.

Later in the same chapter, when John sends messengers to Him asking basically “did I get it all wrong?” Jesus sends back the response…”the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them…”

John asks should I look for another and Jesus lists out the works that He had been doing, basically reaffirming that no one but God could do what he had been seeing and hearing about.

The same is true for us today. We don’t need big ostentatious displays of God’s power, shown on national TV for the entire world to see; we just need to hear His voice. Right where we are, in the midst of our darkest times, the Light of His presence eases our fears, worries, and doubts. The sound of His voice calms our hearts just as it calmed the stormy seas 2,000 years ago.

Scripture tells us that He had compassion upon the widow. Do we think He loves us any less, or lacks the tender heart toward us that He displayed that day toward a poor woman in great need, or toward His servant John? Of course not!

The very first words of our text say, “Now it happened.” Does God ever do anything by chance? He knew when to arrive, what to do, how to speak to her, and what she needed long before the funeral procession began its march, and He came on time. When we find ourselves in the midst of the darkness, may we look for the light of his presence, we will find Him. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He can’t. He loves us too much.

Investing in the Future

I could see the excitement in her eyes. She had found herself a gem and was about to launch into a full-scale attempt at convincing me we needed this investment. I calmly waiting for her to begin, listened carefully, and decided perhaps it was time to invest in the future.

As home educators, we generally consider a wide variety of resources ‘learning material’. We purchase text books, reading books, rulers, pencils, microscopes, and more. We stock our cupboards full of art supplies and handy helps, which make our jobs easier and our kids lives more fun. None of these things is wrong; in fact, if you didn’t do this, I would be a little concerned. I just wonder if we haven’t overlooked a few additional areas of investment.

When was the last time we dug out our pans to teach our children how to bake? When was the last time we bought candy molds to teach our children the art of being chocolatiers? Have you ever played with fondant? Do our children know how to sew, crochet, or knit? Are our kiddos interested in learning how to cross-stitch, play croquet, or shoot a bow and arrow?

Cookie Decorating #11

To some, these items might all seem frivolous. After all, they aren’t essential to a standard learning experience. But one has to ask, why not?! Why aren’t these areas of learning a natural part of our children’s year?

Our family has recently decided to let a few of our ‘outside responsibilities’ go to the way side and purposefully invest in a few of these interests.

The children are all growing up. They each are expressing interest in various creative endeavors and we, as their parents, are doing our best to make this happen. New baking pans are miraculously popping up in our cupboards, candy molds are finding their way into our shopping carts, sewing kits have been created, and research is being done for group activities.

Some of our investments are going to be a bit more pricey, but they are well worth it. Anything which will help our children better discover their gifts and further the path the Lord lays before them, is a must.

What is the most unusual investment you’ve made for your children’s education?

Buttons and Bows

Welcome to “Pump Day”, where one day a week we homeschool in heels and talk about all things girlie!

……

Pump_Day_2You know you’re starting to climb up in years when all of a sudden age becomes a factor in your fashion routine. Slowly, things become a little too young-looking for someone of your maturity. At what age do certain styles automatically become a “no-no”; forcing you to adopt a more sensible wardrobe? Bows are one of these gray areas of fashion, in my humble opinion.

Once thought of as something little girls wear in their hair, bows are popping up all over the place. Purses, dresses, and even nails are sporting all manner of bow; from the hardly noticeable to the extremely large. Which brings up some interesting questions…

At what age do we outgrow bows? Are bows ageless; being only a matter of how you wear them and not whether one should?

Robin in a Bow

Personally, I like bows. They remind me of innocence and all things feminine. I find them adorable on shoes, captivating on handbags, and simply marvelous in hair. I would wear them more often, but I wonder how long this will be considered ‘acceptable’. At what point will I look as if I am trying to be young, instead of just being young?

I would like to think a beautiful bow is timeless. Given the right circumstance and design, a beautiful bow could carry a lady throughout her lifetime. Bows, like pearls, ought to be ageless and classy.

Chime In: Do you wear bows? How do you wear them best?

As always… While fashion is fun, we should always remember:

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – I Peter 3:3-4

 

It Was an Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny, Weeny…

… microorganism! (laughing) What better way to wrap up our official learning year than with some microscope fun? We’ve studied the microscope BEFORE, but this go ’round we thought we’d try a few new tricks.

Our PSP has several microscopes which are available for use. To my surprise, and pleasure, they often go unused. This means we get our pick of the lot, with no due date! For the second year in a row, we are borrowing one of these high-end tools and making the most of our time.

Last year saw us going through a multitude of prepared slides which were available for our use. There were several sets of handy-dandy slides, making the study of the human body and plant life that much easier.

Microscope #1

This year, we are taking things up a notch and borrowing a slide making kit. We have a good supply of slides, slide covers, and several dyes; all of which will be put to good use.

We are very much looking forward to several weeks of discovery and experimentation. This is going to be so much fun!

Should you be in the market for a microscope, you might consider Microscope.com for purchase. They seem to be fairly reasonable and have several versions to choose from. If you would prefer to rent, you might try Microscopes and More. Just looking for some fun microscope ideas or helps? Head over to A2Z Homeschooling; there is a wealth of information ready to be used.

Seasoned, experienced scientists… which slide would you recommend we make first?

Counsel of the Holy

The principal of our PSP, and a personal friend of our family, recently shared this devotion with our group. With his permission, I want to share it with all of you. I pray you are blessed.

……

I was recently in a discussion with a young man who had, as we all have at one point or another, lost his sense of direction, and found himself needing a spiritual course correction. As our conversation progressed, he asked how he had gotten off course. I have at times asked the same question.

In truth, I have never met a person who woke up one morning and determined that they would back-slide that day, and I have yet to ask myself how I could deliberately sabotage my walk with Christ; but if we are not careful, we can easily find ourselves compromising in one area or another, which leads to a slippery slope in our daily walk. I believe that just like sheep happily munch on the grass with no attention to where they are going and can find themselves far from the flock, if we are not frequently checking ourselves, our hearts, and our sources of input, we can find ourselves having moved in a direction we didn’t see coming beforehand.

Psalm 1 states: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;”

I believe that a progression is shown in this verse. It begins with ungodly counsel, and ends with far worse. It also shows how our walks with God can be slowly over time eroded and changed. It begins with who and what we listen to, the counsel of the ungodly. This is done as we walk along. What do we listen to, who do we take advice from, and what is our focus in life?

I am very glad that we chose to home school our children. There is a trend amongst traditional public school kids which is also somewhat mirrored in private school kids; namely they go to their peers for advice and counsel. This is disturbing to me, and should be to most parents. If my 13 yr. old is struggling with an issue, I really don’t want him soliciting counsel from someone else as clueless as he. Most kids in public school that I talk with speak in monosyllables when talking with an adult. Perhaps this is due to spending hours at a time herded with a bunch of same-aged classmates, but if asking for help, the shepherd would be a better choice than another sheep. Of course there are always exceptions, but home schooled kids tend to be more willing to talk with adults than their public-schooled counterparts.

Read with Me

From whom do we solicit advice? Scripture admonishes us throughout to seek wisdom. That is usually found in those who are at least beyond the current stage of life we find ourselves in. Solomon’s son Rehoboam chose to listen to those his own age, ignored the advice of those older and more experienced than he, and the nation of Israel was split as a result; hardly what he planned all along, I am sure.

The next step in the backward progression is to stand in the path of sinners. We listen to ungodly counsel as we walk, then suddenly we stop walking and stand still. While we are not admonished in Scripture to avoid catching our breath, or to seek shade for a few moments to cool off, our relationship with God is described as a walk, a journey that requires forward motion. The Israelites spent 40 years meandering around in the desert when they could have taken about 12 days. How much heartache could we avoid if we maintain our focus and don’t go off on side trips? The longer we stay in one place, the easier it is to forget which direction we were going in before we stopped.

The next stop in our downward spiral is to sit. Whenever we stop moving forward and stand still, it becomes easier to sit down and stop moving altogether. Just as a sheep taking a nap is separated from the flock that keeps moving, so we too can find ourselves in a place where we don’t want to be simply because we were never supposed to camp there in the first place.

We can hardly blame Jesus if we walk with Him, sit down when we aren’t supposed to, take a short cat-nap, and then wonder where He is and how we lost sight of Him. We are encouraged to stick close to Him for that very reason.

The next verse gives us the alternate and more desirable option. If the downward spiral begins with ungodly counsel, the living, vibrant, productive walk begins with the counsel of the Holy One. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

If I want to be fruitful, then taking in constant nourishment is the only way to be healthy. Eating once a week is a poor way to maintain health, but eating good food regularly is going to help us maintain a healthy body. The word used is delight: “His delight is in the law of the Lord” (emphasis mine). When we truly pay attention regularly to what God would counsel us to do, it becomes a delight to walk with Him. His words become refreshing, satisfying, and pleasant to hear and heed. It follows up with a description of a tree planted in the best place, near and constantly nurtured with food and water for growth.

If I wait for Him to stop, letting Him choose the choicest most refreshing rest stops available, I become a growing, green, fruit-bearing tree in His garden, rather than a spent, dried-out, withered tree that couldn’t produce fruit. I would rather be used as a source of fruit, shade, and rest for others as I walk with Him. That being the case, I need to be constantly filled and fed by Him, not only taking in His counsel, but meditating on it, mulling it over in my mind, and making it the counsel I not only hear, but heed.  As Peter put it so well, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68)

Happy Trails….

It’s SAT Time, Part Two!

SAT: Day OneThere was a slightly different reaction this time; the nervous edge which permeated her behavior the day before was not present today. It seems the tough subjects were out-of-the-way and it might be smooth sailing from this point on. Oh yeah; another day of SAT’s!

The second session of her assessment testing is finished and over with. I think we are both breathing a sigh of relief. She doesn’t like the pressure she puts on herself and I don’t like to watch her melt into a puddle of grief. (Okay, it’s not that bad, but sometimes it feels that way.)

I think we both learned a few valuable lessons this time, which we hadn’t last year. A new year; a new set of learning curves.

Be Prepared to Be Silent; A Lot! - During the testing session, a lot of the students noted how even the smallest sounds could be heard. This added pressure on the kids to be extremely quiet, even when simply shifting papers. The slightest of noises could cause the room to stop what they were doing and find the culprit disturbing the peace. The kids had to learn to be extremely careful about the smallest things, taking others into consideration.

Bring a Quiet Calculator - Aren’t all calculators built the same? Um; no! It seems the ones with plastic keys are especially noisy and the ones with paper feeds, just don’t bother. Next year, our students need to invest in a few rubber-keyed calculators to help keep the peace in that especially quiet room.

No Questions; Period! - Once the initial instructions for the test are given, no questions are to be asked. Part of the test is understanding what the question is asking, not just finding the correct answer. Some of our kids had to learn this the hard way.

Overall, I think most of our kids did pretty well. They always think they did poorly and are pleasantly surprised at how well they performed. I’m sure this year will be no different. I hope they took away a few life lessons from this experience and took a few more steps towards preparing themselves for future academic assessment.

What lessons have you and your children learned from test taking?