Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas School - Day 3

Our verse today is Genesis 3:4 and led to great discussion. We discussed that perfect world that God created, which we discussed yesterday and then we talked about the lie Satan brought into it. I asked the kids if Eve dropped dead the moment she ate it (no) and then asked if that made God a liar. I loved the discussion the kids carried out from here. Even the four year old was able to explain what God meant when He said they would die. We talked about the fact that Satan's lie sounded almost like the truth. I asked them if they could think of any other lies Satan tells to us today. My six year old said he lies and says that we should do anything we want. I asked what happens when we do that and she said that sometimes people get hurt or can have their feelings hurt. Wow. I need to stop and listen to my kids more. I spend so much time lecturing and not enough time listening...they are much smarter than I give them credit for.

Christmas School - Day Two

aWe studied the history of the Christmas Card - one of our favorite Christmas School days. This one might be more fun if studied in the second week of Christmas, after the Christmas Cards start rolling in. But this allows us to make lots of Christmas cards in time to send them out. It's also a great day to pose for pictures and order Christmas cards online.

We spend hours cutting and gluing and creating Christmas Cards. I'm amazed the kids don't get tired of it. We keep the Christmas Music going - jazz! and the hot apple cider flowing and the day just slips by us. We were also supposed to study England and the history of Christmas traditions in the UK, but we never made it that far. We'll get to it eventually.

Jesse Tree Day 2 - we put up the first Jesse Tree ornament. Our verse was Genesis 1:1 and colored a tiny picture of the earth. So many different things could be done here and one day I'll get brave enough to make ornaments instead of drawing them on gift-tags. It would be fun to find one of those small globe keychains to hang.

We wrapped up the school day by delivering our first cards to grandparents. I love our family and am so glad they live near!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas School - Jesse Tree Day One

With such a busy season, we've tried to fit school into the month of December, but it is never productive. There are so many extra things that I want to stop and take time for and it always felt as if we were rushing. A few years ago, we began doing Christmas School and it has been a success.

Each day, we begin school, but our regular devotion time after breakfast is exchanged for Jesse Tree devotions. We've used devotion books written just for this, but our favorite is to just read the verses and talk about them. I enjoy discussing things with my kids. Jesse Tree celebrations are generally done every day of Advent, but we choose to make it part of our weekday-only, Christmas School studies.

On the first day of the Jesse Tree, there is much excitement over finding the perfect branch. The boys scour the yard and bring in samples to lay out on the table. We hold them up to the wall one by one and decide which looks the best. In all my Jesse Tree studies, I've never seen another branch decorated sideways, but it's how we've always done it and we just like it that way. Perhaps we chose horizontally on the wall because we never seem to have an available surface to put a vertical tree onto. Who can remember? It's tradition now and there's no changing it.

The boys do copywork after devotions and this is replaced with Jesse Tree copywork. Today's verse is Isaiah 11:1. I am only making them 3 days at a time at the moment, but if you would like a copy of them as they come, leave a comment with your email address and I'll send them to you. As I make them, I'm creating them in cursive, cursive-dashed, print, and print-dashed for the Kindergarten age. Please specify which version you would like.

We hang no ornaments today, but much to-do is made of hanging the Jesse Tree. This year, the boys spied a brush pile and a friend delivered a huge Jesse Tree branch. It is much bigger than any we've used before, but it is so pretty that we couldn't pass it up.

We are going through our Advent Calendar out of order so that we can be a day or two ahead of anyone else using it, in the hopes we can catch errors before we confuse anyone's celebrations. Today we studied The Nutcracker and the country of Russia. The kids watched the Nutcracker Ballet and then built a nutcracker out of a pr*ngles can. The original instructions said to use felt and such, but we stuck with construction paper. We glued on three bands paper, using a paintbrush to spread the glue finely. Pink for his face, green for his shirt, and blue for his pants. The boys put rubber bands around the paper to keep it attached while it dried. For the shoes, a plain band of black would work, but we trimmed it to have two rounded bumps in the front to be the tops of his shoes. We used hot-glue to make the ribbon stick to his shirt and for the arms made out of rolled paper. Regular glue attached the yarn hair and the boys attached a hat to the lid of the can. They cut out and glued facial features onto the pink paper. For the mouth, they cut out a square of white and then drew in red gums with a red Sharpie marker to separate teeth shapes.

They want to fill it with nuts and give it to friends. I'm so proud of their work, I selfishly want to keep it!

The boys also discovered a huge brush pile of greenery while hunting for their branch and have been decorating the porch with it. Let's hope it doesn't turn brown! I love this small town that we live in. I love neighbors calling and smiling over the two boys they watched riding their bikes down the street with their backs laden with branches. No one wonders too hard anymore what they might be up to, they just chuckle at those Harrison it again.

Monday, November 30, 2009


We have celebrated Advent with the kids since they were born. For the last few years, Daddy has had to work evenings and it's made things more complicated. We've tried lighting candles at lunchtime, but it just didn't feel as special. The sparkling of candlelight in the evenings certainly adds to the charm. But more than that, we were in the middle of a day....busy, distracted. This year, Daddy is back to day shift (hooray!) and we all stop what we're doing at 8:00 every night to cuddle on to the couch while Daddy reads the Advent story. When the story is finished, the two older children take turns lighting and blowing out the candles. We leave the candles lighted for our Advent bible verses and prayer.

We wrap up the night with sharing our high's and low's of the day. Then we pray and head to bed. I love Advent traditions.

This year, we've launched our website, sharing Advent ideas and traditions from around the world. It's the Advent Idea Box and contains lots of free goodies. Please take a gander and tell me what you think! I'll be journaling our activities as time allows here on the blog.

We're also gathering ideas from the Online Christmas Party at Squidoo. Head on over for many more ideas!

Why Wildwood?

I once held the same hesitation found in Rat’s innocent statement. My children were very young and I couldn’t even imagine an existence that didn’t include spit-up and diapers. Then I heard someone say something that sounded so cold and hard, but which eventually developed into a new parenting philosophy for me: “Our job as parents is to get them ready to move out of the house.” Everyone else was urging me to cherish these moments….why would someone make it a goal to get rid of them?!? The statement wouldn’t leave me. I kept mulling it over and eventually realized the truth to it. It is my responsibility as a Christian parent to prepare my children to one day leave home as adults, fully capable of standing on their own feet and leaving their own mark on the world. It may seem like a simple thing, but my perspective changed with that “Aha!” moment. I began to see past the meltdowns and the sippy cups.

The lesson rings even more true for me today than it did then. The toddler I had then is now on the verge of being a teenager and others have joined our family. As my oldest leaves his childhood, I see how quickly those years have flown (just as everyone said they would) and realize how quickly our last years with him will also fly. My husband and I joke that if the next 12 years fly as fast as the last 12 years, we could be grandparents next week….it sure feels that way. My years for influencing his character and integrity are fast flying. As the trees begin to thin in his wildwood days, it is my job to slowly let go of his hand, finger by finger, until I am walking alongside him. Soon, he’ll reach the clearing and be walking on his own. I know he will be ready to face the wide world and he knows that home is always there for him and welcome for visits.

Seeing firsthand how quickly childhood flies past has influenced my perspective with my younger children. Someday, all of my children will enter the wide world. I want them to be ready. I want them to look back on family and childhood with cherished memories and lessons that stay with them their whole lives.

Our homeschool philosophy has most definitely been affected by this perspective change. Workbooks were tossed. Notebooks were picked up in their place to journal our adventures in learning. Bible studies stopped being another subject picked up and became a foundation for our days. Our faith influences who we are and everything we do. This cannot be summed up in a 15 minute “lesson”. It must infiltrate our conversation. I am learning to stop assuming they understand why I do what I do. It is vital that I explain how my beliefs influence my decisions on a day-to-day basis. Discipline is incomplete if I do not discuss heart-issues. Our lessons are still challenging, but they are challenging with a purpose and I make sure my children understand that purpose. I want them equipped for whatever calling God places on their lives. It is my responsibility to give them the tools. I cannot make them learn, but I can give them the tools for learning. I can share my enthusiasm for learning and excitement for their future; I can trust God to lead them and pray that they follow.