June 18, 2011

Closed for the summer...

This past week we finished our school year and reclaimed the kitchen for solely non-educational purposes until the fall.  After ten years of homeschooling, we have found that the kitchen works best for us as command central for our schoolwork.  We read in the living room, we store extra school supplies in various corners of the house, but it’s in our kitchen where the white board hangs at the ready for explaining there, their, and they’re, working out math problems together, and sometimes just drawing silly pictures.  The kitchen offers us a smooth table for writing, bathrooms nearby, a pleasant window view of the birds, squirrels, and the occasional deer in our backyard for those whose eyes and minds are wandering, and hassle-free frequent coffee refills for me.  Crammed into a corner by our table we even have a bookshelf stuffed with our schoolbooks and other educational necessities.
This year’s books are put away now, and the bookshelf sits waiting for its fresh restocking in September, holding only art supplies for fun summer projects on it for now.  Always up for doing a makeover, no matter how small, I seized the opportunity with this end-of-the-school-year gutting to re-do the corner of the kitchen you see pictured here.  I moved a tired, formal, space-stealing china cabinet out of the room and gave my beloved whiteboard a more prominent and easy to see location surrounded by freshly painted picture frames and a knick-knack shelf.  This cheerful corner waits for the beginning of the next school year too, the white board in a rare clean and pristine state.
But this is only June, and we have more than two months to go before the shelf and the white board return to work from their summer hiatus.  I’ve decided to follow their lead and take the summer off here on this blog.  It will sit idly for a time, with old posts available, but with this as its front page until the start of the new school year.
So I leave you now with the immortal words of every teenager who ever signed a yearbook…
Have a great summer!  See you next year!

June 11, 2011

Accounting in four-part harmony...

A week or so ago, my husband took the day off work and we all went out to take care of some errands and have fun together as a family.  In the evening we had our usual Bible study time with the kids.  We’ve been going through the book of Matthew with them recently, and one of our younger kids asked a question about why some of the details of the Lord Jesus’ time on earth were different in the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  This question has come up before, and we’ve explained to them that none of the four books contradict each other; they just give different details in some places and identical in others, all in four different styles and bringing out multiple aspects of our wonderful Lord and what He did for us.  Together they tell the whole story.
At times when this topic has come up we have also given the kids an example to help them understand, pointing out to them that someday they’ll each have a story to tell of growing up in our home.  With some details overlapping and others very individualized, when combined they would tell the whole story of what it’s like to be a Wilbur.  The difference of course is that the Gospels weren’t just written by four men with their own point of view relying on their own memories; we know they were each inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what the Lord wanted us to know.  But the example of our kids recalling their childhood someday seems to help, at least until the next time they ask the same question.
To drive the point home this time, we took it a step further with a little practical exercise the next day.  We had the kids write down a description of what we did the previous day without discussing it with one another first.  Immediately our teenage son knew what we were up to.  I relieved his first concern and assured him that I was not expecting the kind of writing from him that I usually do for school.  He happily played along and wrote a simple chronology of the day, adding his individual observations, knowing what we were attempting to demonstrate to the younger children.  They each wrote theirs too, in their unique voices.

“After I woke up and got showered and had breakfast, I helped Dad on the airplane for a while.  When we were done, we went to a mall in _________.  First we went to Lenscrafters and Mom and Dad got their glasses fixed.  After that, we went into a GameStop and I ended up getting Modern Warfare 2.  Then we went to Sears and looked at tools while Mom and Audra got a bathing suit.  We saw some really huge TVs.  Then after talking it out, we went to Olive Garden.  I got the grilled chicken flatbread, raspberry lemonade, salad, and breadsticks.  No dessert though.  When we got home, I played Modern Warfare 2, did piano, and had a small dinner.  Later in the evening, I studied for a six-chapter test in science and got a 94.  I fell asleep at midnight.” - Scott, 14

“I had Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Then Dad woke up and he worked in the garage with Scott.  I brought an mp3 player, my camera, and a book and two magazines.  First we went to the mall.  Mom and Dad got their glasses fixed.  Audra got a swim suit and Scott got one Call of Duty game.  Then we chose where to eat.  We went with Daniel’s idea, Olive Garden.  They had cream soda but Dad said not to get any so I got Dr. Pepper.  I also got fettuccini alfredo and we had 4 baskets of bread sticks.  Then we went home and I listened to Keith Green.  Then I watched TV and then I had “make your own supper”.  Then we had Bible study and then I went to bed.” - Zach, 8

“We went to the mall and bought a game and fixed glasses.  We went to Olive Garden and I, Zach, and Mom had fettuccini alfredo.  We played outside and I played basketball, and I went near the playground on my bike.” - Daniel, 8

“Daddy stayed home and we went to _________ and I played in the pool and we had lunch at Olive Garden and I got a new bathing suit and I turned the hose on and off and I had a lot of breadsticks and I had pizza and yesterday Dad wrote “catsoup” and I wrote “dumcat” and we made a list of things and I wrote part of a story called “Bitsy in Wonderland” and Zach made a Lego guy out of Lego bricks and finished painting the stools and had a water picnic and what I wrote on my list for my stuff to do is paint, games, kitchen, dollhouse, write stories.” - Audra, 6

I edited out the town we went to for security reasons, and I cleaned up the spelling in the younger kids’ writing for you for clarity reasons, so you wouldn’t have hurdles like "fedacheny allfrado" or "feddachiene alfradoe" to get past.  In writing the four stories of our errands-and-fun day without consulting one another first, the kids accomplished just what we wanted: four versions of the same timeframe working in harmony to tell the whole story.  I won’t trouble you with explanations of things like “catsoup”.  Just as the point came across strongly to my younger kids as they later listened to each other’s account, it likely has to you too. (-Laura, 39)

June 4, 2011

A coordinated effort...


I continued my acrylic painting frenzy this week by giving identical twin kitchen stools a major makeover.  Dull and lifeless before, I chose to liven them up with three main colors: a pinkish red, citrus green and a cheerful yellow, as well as lightened versions of each, but also decided to place them differently on each stool.  If you’re going to do a makeover, don’t be timid.
Adding a little white to each of my three colors, I then brushed the paler version of each color lightly over the legs and rungs to give them the aged and beaten look I enjoy.
A firm believer that everything is prettier with flowers on it, I added these to the seats, but was sure to cover them with several coats of clear acrylic sealer so they will not be worn away with use.  (Yes, that's a Fruit Loop on the floor next to the green-topped stool.  Apparently I was too busy painting to clean well.)
As I looked at my finished product, I couldn’t help but think back to another lively duo in my kitchen a handful of years ago.  They too bore some resemblance to one another while maintaining their individuality, and looked perfectly sweet next to one another.  They are proof positive that adorable pairs don't have to be identical.