Thursday, July 30, 2009

School Planning

Josh: "Caution! It's almost time to start school!"

By Jove, I think I've about Got it!

I have been plugging away at school planning here and there throughout the summer. After a few recent "all-nighters" (meaning 2-3AM at the VERY latest), I am feeling fairly comfortable with beginning our next school year.

As I struggle with how to articulate what I've done, I am feeling as though I will not be able to communicate this very clearly. I have not done anything complicated; in fact, everything I have done has been in order to simplify and STREAMLINE!

My planning system is broken into three major parts (and then some other things...) First of all, there is the CRATE. This is the major guts of my planning. I have a manila folder for each week. Inside each folder, I have a sheet for each day. On the sheet for each day, I have listed each subject and then left a space for each child under the subjects. I typed out my sheet according to the general order in which we do school.

I do NOT have each line filled out for the whole school year... I wish! I DO have history, Literature (read aloud books), and geography filled in. I have also made note of special writing assignments which will go along with history. Behind each day's sheet, I have placed any hand-outs, quizzes, or History Pockets we will be using for the day. For example, behind each Monday sheet, there is a drill page for the girls' Latin words.

For a moment, I will back up and fill you in on how the crate came into being...

I began my planning with history and literature. I put 36 manila folders on the dining room table, and then I spread out the books (both individual reads and read-alouds) and Veritas Press cards among the folders. *I don't have ALL of their individual reads planned for the whole year, because I like to allow room for library choices and other things. There are some individual reads, however, that go along with the time period we will be studying, and I wanted to be sure we read them at the right time of year.

Next (in order to preserve sanity and finally cut the clutter off the table), I broke the books down into assigned reading portions and wrote them on the assignment sheets in the folders. This allowed the books to return to their spot in our school area. I had previously made copies of the History pockets for each child, so I spread them out through the file folders. I added in our geograpy sheets, Latin drill pages, IEW writing assignments, and anything else that needed to be filed.

In addition to the CRATE, I also have my giant TEACHER NOTEBOOK.

I mentioned that I did not have each day filled out for the year. In the teacher notebook, I have dividers for each subject. Behind the dividers, I have placed a syllabus (without dates... just a list of the order of lessons) for each class. This is so that when I do my late Sunday PM prep. (or sometimes early Monday AM), I can pull out my folder for the week and fill in the assignments. Each day I slip the assignment sheet from the file folder into the front of the teacher notebook.

School in our home is never a perfectly ordered event. I am usually fielding questions about assignments as I am working with other children. I try to head this off as much as possible; nevertheless, it happens. Keeping this detailed daily sheet handy keeps interruptions to a minimum!

Also located in the TEACHER NOTEBOOK is all of our memory work. Each day after Bible, we spend about 15-20 minutes reviewing things from years past and the current year. I have a divider section for each subject that we cover during memory time: Bible verses, catechism, Science, Latin, Art, and History. Behind each divider is stored any information that we will review through the year. For example, behind the art divider I have pictures of famous paintings and their artists. I have a copy of the Latin prayers and declension chants behind the Latin divider, etc.

This evening I spent about an hour doing something a little over the top for my memory work section, but I trust that it will save me a great deal of "rummaging time" as we progress through the school year.

I made a cumulative review master sheet. A what?? I just made a list of our memory subjects, and then I went ahead and broke down our material into which information would be reviewed on which days. Soooo... Now I know that on Monday of week 3, we will review Bible verses 1,2; Catechism questions 40-45; Latin verb chants; science fact sheet 3; History facts 28-30; Renaissance painters, etc.

The third and final major part of my planning are the INDEPENDENT NOTEBOOKS. I made these for the oldest three... Josh won't be doing too much independently this year. In the evening when I am preparing for the next day, I will fill out a sheet for each child and place it open on their desks. This notebook details for them any work which should be able to be completed without assistance. I will write their journal topic, Bible passage to read, current memory verse, math, spelling, grammar, Independent reading, and home ec. assignments.

Keeping on track with school during cross country season has been a challenge for me in the past. Hopefully, taking most of the guesswork and last minute planning away will enable us to "Keep on Truckin'," both in school AND on the cross country course! :)

The final thing I did different for this year was create a "special work" notebook. Instead of filing stuff and figuring out what to do with it at the end of the school year, I am planning on putting "keeper" papers and assignments into the notebook from the start.

It should save me time at the end of the school year, AND Scott will be able to check out their work easily.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pushing buttons

This is a verse from a hymn we sang this morning- I wish I could be this expressive; I will just have to allow the hymn writers to do it for me:

Mine is the sin, but Thine the righteousness;
Mine is the guilt, but Thine the cleansing blood!
Here is my robe, my refuge and my peace-
Thy blood, Thy righteousness, O Lord my God!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Looking Unto Jesus

For many years before I became a Christian, I was very diligent in the area of morality and religion.

As the Lord was bringing me to the end of self and showing me that I was not who I fancied myself to be, different people would encourage me to, "Look to Christ."

This always seemed like great advice, but there was one problem. I didn't really understand what people meant when they told me that! Looking back, I realize that the problem was with my spiritual understanding, not with their explanations.

I can still vividly remember the day when I was reading about Moses lifting up the pole with the serpent in the wilderness. The people who looked at it, believing they were healed, were healed! I was not suffering from a snake bite, but my problem was just as fatal. It was a lifetime of good works, done in vain, done for the wrong reasons, done without love and gratitude for Christ.

That afternoon, the Lord made everything clear to me... It was like things went from black and white to technicolor! I understood (finally) what it meant to look to Christ... Look to Him and be healed! Look to Him for righteousness, Look to Him and not ourselves, Look to Him and not the world, Look to Him and be saved!!!

My good friend Misty gave me a little pamphlet for my birthday. It is about 3"x4" and only 27 pages long, and it is titled, "Looking unto Jesus: Hebrews 12:2." It is a WONDERFUL help in thinking about what it means to "Look to Christ." (Especially when we remember that we not only look to Christ initially for salvation, but CONTINUALLY!)

The first sentence of the pamphlet is " 'Looking unto Jesus' (Heb. 12:2) Only three words, but in those three words is the whole secret of life."

The pamphlet is broken up into short little paragraphs with Looking unto Jesus as the first phrase of each. For example, Looking unto Jesus... in the Scriptures, Crucified, Who gives repentance, and at nothing else, and not at our creeds, etc.

It is very helpful, and it is written by the man who wrote the following hymn: (A little long, but WORTH the read!)

Oh, the bitter shame and sorrow,
That a time could ever be,
When I let the saviour's pity
Plead in vain, and proudly answered:
'All of self, and none of Thee.'

Yet He found me: I beheld Him
Bleeding on the accursed tree,
Heard Him pray: 'Forgive them, Father,'
And my wistful heart said faintly:
'Some of self, and some of Thee.'

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and ah! so patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered:
'Less of self, and more of Thee.'

Higher than the highest heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered;
Grant me now my supplication:
"None of self, and all of Thee."

Theodore Monod, 1874

Monday, July 6, 2009

Florida Part 2

This trip was quite different than the last few times we have been to Florida. For the first time, we went on vacation with no diapers, no nappers, and no pacifiers! In fact, we have even gone above and beyond that milestone and arrived at the milestone of being able to say, "y'all get ready for bed," or "come make your breakfast!" In addition, we have reached the milestone of having four independent swimmers who discovered a love for kayaking!

Uncle John has two kayaks, and we brought down Uncle Billy's two kayaks also. All week long, the four were constantly in use by all of the kids. After the first day or so, they were granted permission to head up-river as far as they wanted to go!

Well, everyone but Josh... He still needed a chaperone. Not because he was incapable of kayaking... rather, he was a little too fond of mischief and tumping people over! In this picture, you can just see his little wheels turning... the one below shows the aftermath! :)
William and Sarah most enjoyed the independence and fun of kayaking. They heavily relied on their cousins Garrett and Mattie to show them the ropes (and frequently come to their rescue!)
Garrett, Will, and Sarah heading out on an excursion
Sarah, Garrett, and Will returning safely

Hannah and Mattie enjoyed the kayaks also; I am not sure why I do not have pictures of them. Hannah was a bit less adventurous than the others, but she really enjoyed fishing off the dock. Here she is, kissing her fish!

One afternoon we were hanging out under the pole barn and discussing placing pennies on train tracks. Scott told them that he tried many times as a child but never found his pennies afterward. Aunt Lisa donated about 30 cents, and the kids painted them all with bright colors... so they could be found in the gravel! We carried them up the hill to the railroad tracks, and the kids spaced them out on the rail... and then added some extra paint on the pennies and rails for good measure.
TAH-DAH! We actually found most of the pennies and were amazed that all of our paint was gone! Uncle John drilled holes into them, and the everyone made necklaces.

Mattie, Hannah, and Sarah show off their treasure

On our last day, we had a full day of sunshine! We were the last family to leave, so Scott, Kevin, and I took our kids and Garrett and Mattie to the "Jumping Trees." We kayaked downstream just a little way... two or three per kayak.... and made our first stop at the really high jumping tree. Someone has nailed boards up the side of this tree, and people climb up it and swing off into the river. You can see straight to the bottom below, and it is about 60 feet deep!

Scott led out, followed by Kevin. First kid to jump? No brainer... the 5 year old, of course. The stick was a little big to hold on to, so we moved on to the second jumping tree after everyone had taken their first turn.
Garrett taking the plunge

Will got a little nervous climbing the steps...
There goes Kevin
Watch out for the big daddy!
Fearless Josh!

The second jumping tree was much more kid-friendly. Mama was definitely much less nervous! The kids kept a steady loop of climbing up and jumping off going for quite a while...

Sarah jumping

Way to go, Hannah!
Pausing for a group shot- From the bottom: Hannah, Will, Mattie, Sarah, Garrett, Josh

After we left the second jumping tree, we paddled back upstream, past Uncle John's dock, past Uncle Billy's dock, and all the way to the top of the river. We got to see turtles, fish, and some huge elephant ears! Most interestingly, we got to see a sunken glass-bottomed boat from years and years ago! (I am telling you, this water is clear... the boat is on the bottom of the river!)

Here's a picture of Will at the top of the river
When we got back, everyone was pooped and needing a break. We took it easy for a little while, and then the girls and I went into town to do a little shopping with Aunt Connie. I had seen a yarn store, "The Stitch Niche" and a neat older home doubling as a gift shop. Hannah found some handkerchiefs for a friend of hers, and I found a neat antique tin full of old buttons. After one more dinner and a little more visiting, we headed back to Jack's to pack up and get ready to hit the road the next day.

Thanks, everyone for such a wonderful, relaxing vacation! We love y'all!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

practical gifts

My husband is not romantic, and his gift giving reflects his personality.

Please understand, this is not a complaint. In fact, many years ago, I decided that a certain young man was not for me on account of his mushy-ness...

I can appreciate a good, practical gift. Our first Christmas together, Scott bought me a weight belt (for exercising) and a tackle box for all of my sewing supplies. Some of you might be groaning... I was thrilled!

Now, the shotgun I received for Christmas the next year might have been over-kill, but I know that his intentions were good.

Why in the world am I writing about what I got for Christmas eleven years ago?

Well, today I got to make bread again for the first time in MONTHS! I had been out of wheat for a long time, and I finally got 3 buckets of wheat berries! As I was turning on my wheat grinder, I was thanking the Lord for such a kind husband. Several years ago, Scott used our tax refund to get me a Nutrimill and a Bosch mixer so that I could start making homemade bread for our family.

As I made bread today, I reminisced about some of the gifts he has given me. The shotgun is probably the one we will laugh at for many more years to come.

My sewing machine was a Christmas present about eight years ago... Scott was working part time to save, but I was under the impression that he was just helping a friend. It was a very sweet and thoughtful gift. I love to sew, but my old machine was a hand-me-down with bobbin issues.

Last year for our birthdays and anniversary, Scott gave me the gift of a cross country trail around our property. We spent many hours hacking and bushwacking around the place to make a 3 mile course.

This year for my birthday, he is going to build me a sewing table! I have room upstairs where I can keep my machines out for access, but they have been on a card table for the last year. This is not ideal when sewing, because the whole table bounces up and down when you sew with any speed!

As I thought about my husband who gives such practical gifts, I couldn't help but think of Christ, the Bridegroom and the gifts he gives us, as His bride.

Christ is also a very practical gift giver. It is said that our basic needs are food, shelter, and clothing. Christ is kind to provide all of these... without cost!

Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." (Jn 6:35)

The Psalms say, "For you have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy,"

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it, and they are safe,"

and "The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times, you people; Pour out your hearts before him; God is a refuge for us."

Clothing... this is my favorite to think about... Our own garments are stained with sin, and nothing more than rags. God, through the work of Christ, does not leave us in these filthy things!

"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation. He has covered me with the robe of righteousness..." (Is. 61:10)


Scott and I have referred to ourselves as the "Delinquent Duleys," because we have missed the last two family weddings. I wanted to make wedding gifts, so I decided to make aprons... no big surprise to many of you!

This was one of the wedding gifts- Katie and Brian got married almost a year ago. I have been wanting to try this pattern for a long time!

One thing leads to another, and then I thought that I would make one for Scott's sister also, since she was turning 40 last week. Then, I also wanted to make a gift for Scott's new aunt that we would be meeting... etc. Before I knew it, I had a 7 apron project going on.
Scott's sister, Stefanie- Happy 40th birthday!

Why don't I think of these great ideas a little bit sooner? Or is it that I just chronically wait until the last minute to start a project? Who knows... Anyway, a few all nighters, and Voila, aprons!
Happy Early Birthday, Grandmama Sharon! We love you!

An apron post has been ruminating around in between my ears for a while, and this seemed like a good opportunity to put pen to paper... or fingers to keyboard, I suppose.
Aunt Connie modeling the "Basic Bib." Happy Whatever!

Why do I give aprons as gifts? Why do I wear aprons when I cook and do house chores? Why am I particularly drawn to aprons from the thirties, forties, and fifties?
Aunt Lisa in her apron- It was so nice to finally meet you! Thanks for hosting us all!

The answer to all of these questions primarily stems from sentimental reasons. In my mind, aprons are a symbol of an ideal (I stress ideal, because I realize that my view of reality comes from my imagination and black and white TV shows!)

An apron represents warmth, love, and contentment.

In addition, aprons truly serve a very practical purpose. They give a fabri-holic an opportunity to do something with bright, fun fabrics that would not necessarily make cute dresses! Aprons also provide a much better place for wiping hands than the seat of my pants or skirt! (My mom would be so proud... I'm learning!) Here's the best one yet... recently I discovered the trick of tucking your dishtowel in your apron string, thus keeping it handy all over the kitchen! (I never was adept at balancing it on my shoulder like my mom, although I have tried and tried- she is the true kitchen cleaning pro!)

So, if you have ever received an apron from me, please know this: I am not covertly trying to snare you into bonds of domestic slavery... I just want to share the joy and hope that sweet memories will be created! :)

I received the following in an email several months ago. You might have gotten the forward also, but it was something I wanted to save, because I can relate to the experiences of the author, both with my grandmother and also for myself!

The principle use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few. It was easier to wash aprons than dresses, and they used less material. Along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields for dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that "old-time apron" that served so many purposes.

Family Reunion

Imagine a place where Josh and Scott Duley are NOT the loudest ones in the room...

Hard to fathom?

There is only one such place where I witness this phenomenon... Duley family reunions!

Last week we got to go to Dunnellon, Florida for the '09 Duley Family Reunion. We left New Albany, made a quick overnight stop at Scott's mom's to pick up Sarah, and then headed across the panhandle and down to the Rainbow River.

The Rainbow River is not just any river. Scott's family lives right on the river, near the head spring, and the water is actually clear! Not just slightly brown... I mean really clear... as in, you can see the little fish swimming by and the rocks or seaweed on the bottom! There are houses all along one side of the river, but the opposing side has remained undeveloped. This provides a peaceful view of trees with Spanish moss, roosting birds, and even an occasional alligator!
the kids floating from Uncle Billy's dock down to Uncle John's

We arrived Friday afternoon, and the kids went straight to the river. They had not seen their cousins for three years, but you would never have known it! They all picked right up and did great all week long! We got to meet Scott's new Aunt Lisa and Scott's cousin Katie's husband Brian. (We had previously met Morgan's wife, Emily, but this was the first time to meet her as Mrs. Duley!) After introductions, visited for a while and then all had dinner together. We were all glad to get to see Scott's grandparents as well. Here are the kids with PawPaw George and Granny Sue.
Scott's cousin Becca did a lot of planning and organizing for this week. She coordinated with everyone a meal schedule; Each family was responsible for dinner one night. This worked out great, and it was nice to share a meal together each evening. Take one wild guess what I fixed... Mexican, of course! :) Thanks for all your work, Becca!

On Saturday we had the official family reunion. Aunt Connie had all sorts of crafts and things for the kids to do... even with little medals to give as awards! They painted tote bags, colored pictures, and played some games.
Hannah, Lauren (Stef's daughter) and Sarah doing crafts
Sarah, Josh, Will, Hannah, Lauren, and Mattie (Becca's daughter) with their awards... Scott's
brother Brian is in the background with his graduation award!

Remember, we ARE Duleys... I know you will not be shocked to know that the kids' games turned into arm wrestling and noodle wars... would you have expected anything less? Josh and Garret (Becca's son) arm wrestling

The adults kept it more on the mild side and played many rounds of Corn Hole.

Along with celebrating being together as a family, we also celebrated Scott's sister Stefanie's 40th birthday and Scott's brother Brian's recent high school graduation.
Katie cutting the cake after we all sang for Stef

Our host for the week was Scott's cousin, Jack, and his daughter Avery. Jack lives right across the road, and it was so nice to have a quiet place to put WORN OUT kids to bed each night. Jack's house kind of became the fun place to stay, and it was a hubub of cousin slumber parties. It was not a big deal, because the kids were all so pooped from the river that they went to sleep without any fuss!
Scott, Kevin, and Jack

I enjoyed going over and putting the kids to bed while Scott stayed to visit, because it meant I got a little quiet time all to myself each evening... in a house with TV channels! What a treat! Laughably, I got sucked into a show called "Clean House." I let the kids watch a few episodes with me, and we planned this big slumber party with popcorn and M&Ms for the season finale. Unfortunately, the people getting their house cleaned were not very hospitable, and their language was quite foul... we had to cut the slumber party a little short. Oh well, the kids didn't mind... they had gotten the popcorn and M&Ms! :)

Sunday morning we visited Springs Presbyterian Church in Dunnellon. We appreciated the God-centered worship service and the kindness of the members. It was interesting to find out that the church has worked with Palmer House Children's homes in the past, and they have just helped start a similar one in their own area. Some of the members had even been to Tupelo!
As we visited with the pastor and explained why we were in town, he said that he knew two of Scott's uncles. After a moment's pause, he remarked, "You sure look like a Duley." Can you see any family resemblance?

Uncle John, Bobby, Uncle Billy, Scott, PawPaw George

On Monday and for the rest of the week, we had lazy mornings (it was rainy), and then we spent the afternoons on the river and playing. As I am writing this post and adding pictures, I am realizing how self-cenntered I was in my photography. There are quite a few Duleys that did not make it into pictures! I am sorry! I am going to post some river fun pictures next....

Sewing Camp

The boys had their week at Nana's house at the beginning of the summer. The girls got to take turns having individual weeks at Nana's house in order to work on sewing skills!

Hannah got the first turn (which is why she had to miss Ben's party), and Sarah got the second week. It is so nice to only be 51/2 hours away from Kay. Meeting in Meridian (halfway point) is not bad at all... much easier than the 12 hour distance we had to drive from Kentucky!
Hannah working on her first nightgown (above) and modeling her second (below)

Hannah made two nightgowns and worked on a skirt together with Kay. They also made a few trips to the beach and one trip to the BEAD SHACK, where they got to learn about beading.

Sarah was excited about sewing, although definitely more excited about going to Build a Bear with Nana and then going to Cafe Du Monde for dessert (I have no idea how to spell ben-yays). She finished one nightgown before we arrived to pick her up on our way to Florida.

Sarah working on and modeling her nightgown

What a way for our family to begin a vacation... a stop-over at Nana and Papa John's house! I don't know of anyone on the planet that can cook shrimp as well as John Guillot. There is nothing finer than a Shrimp Po Boy, dressed, and I mean nothing! (A shrimp po boy is a DELICIOUS sandwich made with chewy french bread, lots of fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato, and a little mayo.)

Just as an aside... dressed refers to the condiments on the sandwich. One time Hannah or Sarah requested a shrimp po boy, but asked if they could have theirs naked! :)

We enjoyed our evening with Kay and John, and then we hit the road early Friday morning. Dunnellon, Florida, the Mississippi Duleys are heading your way!