Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

What a busy weekend we just finished!  We had so many events and activities over this Memorial Day weekend that as I reflect, it really represented a lifestyle of learning.  That's what I want for our little family.  I want the children, and Daddy and I, to be constantly learning and not even know it.  It's my heart's desire for us to be bonded together in learning and worshipping and serving.  Today, the Lord showed me that that is just what occurred this weekend.


On Saturday, we went "Yard Saling."  This is a favorite activity at the Lydell house during the Summer months.  We all jump into the car with water bottles loaded and tour Perry County, PA looking for people who have displayed the treasures for sale on their front lawns.  In some areas of the country these are called Tag Sales, but here in PA we call them Yard Sales.


This time we approached our Yard Saling with the boys a little differently.  We gave them each $5 and said, when it's spent, you're finished!  They had to budget and really decide if something was important to buy.  Walker T., our youngest, bought many little things with his money.  It was a math lesson at each stop and he would list what he spent and add the total and then subtract that from the $5 he was given originally to get a balance.  McLane, our oldest, waited for just the right purchase and he got a large lego set for $5.  He was thrilled and has been building new lego sets all weekend.  His lesson was in really waiting for something worth purchasing.  He passed by several yard sales before finding exactly what he wanted.


After our adventures in yard saling, we went to the little town of Eshcol, PA for their Memorial Day parade on Saturday afternoon.  The boys marched in the parade, as all children are encouraged to do, and were given a wreath to place on a veteran's grave at one of the two cemetary's that serve as the beginning and end of the parade.  Todd, my loving husband, ate his weight in homemade ham and bean soup and the boys got candy from the firetrucks and ambulances in the parade.  It's a wonderful life lesson for the boys to acknowledge the service of our veteran's in such a way.  I love this parade, it is a truly Norman Rockwell-type bit of Americana.  I feel as though we are stepping back in time to a period in which I wish we really lived.


Saturday night, the youth of our church went bowling.  The boys bowled on the "bumper lanes" and had a terrific time.  I saw bowling as Physical Education and am now wondering if we should fit bowling into our schedule a little more regularly.  Maybe we could find a few homeschool families and bowl during the day on a regular basis!


One other event that affected our weekend is the purchase of a new vehicle.  We learned in the past week that Todd's truck's transmission is on it's last legs.  We are now "car shopping."  We've decided to get a larger vehicle for the family, hopefully a van, and Todd will take the little Mercury Tracer that we've been driving as his work vehicle.  On Sunday, we drove all over two counties to every used car dealer we could find.  We continued our trek on Monday.  The boys learned about mileage, and BIG numbers.  They looked at vehicles with us and compared pros and cons about each potential vehicle.  They learned about reading the car sticker signs and finding the best vehicle for the money we have available.  And they learned patience!  For they had to endure a lot of stopping and walking around the used car lots, plus a lot of driving.


After all the car shopping, we treated the entire family to several hours at the local pool.  The water was a little chilly, but especially refreshing when you spent a little time in the 85 degree sun-shiny day.  The boys swam for two and a half hours.  They only exited the pool long enough to say, "Mommy, watch this!"  They really exercised their seven and nine-year-old bodies.


Last night, after a light supper of chicken salad pitas, everyone was ready for a rest. The boys took a one-hour bath, and watched Sesamee Street in our bed, while munching popcorn.  I can't think of a more relaxing end to a busy, but educational weekend.


I hope your Memorial Day was just as special.  And if you a veteran or current member of our nation's armed services, THANK YOU.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


We were just finishing breakfast today when it happened.  We heard the slight rumble first.  I turned in my chair and said, "They're here!"  Suddenly there was screaming and squealing!  The excavation man was driving a large Caterpillar backhoe down our driveway and into the yard.  My two little boys who are 7 and 9 were beside themselves.  They were hugging and jumping up and down and cheering.  It was a very intense moment for them.


A few minutes later, the man walked back down the driveway and drove a smaller front loader toward the house.  With this he began pushing all the stones into a great big pile in the driveway.  My guys were smashed against the back door peering at this beast as it moved piles of stone.


Then came the costumes.  I'm not sure what provoked it, but the boys felt the need to dress as soldiers.  They dug into their dress-up supply and came out with their rifles, camoflauge and helmets.  I looked into our little 4 foot by 4 foot mudroom and saw they had positioned one of the kitchen chairs at the door.  They were set for the day.


What is it about boys and large vehicles?  Especially large vehicles with buckets and shovels on them?  This little adventure in landscaping has brought such joy to two little seven and nine-year-old hearts.  I am bursting with joy myself!


Of course, those piles of stone and dirt in the yard are magnetic.  McLane is just DYING to get on top of the largest stone pile.  I can see that it is very very difficult to resist this temptation.  Maybe we'll have a little Phys. Ed. session later playing king of the hill.


I called my husband and said, "I think formal learning may be done for the day!"  There's no way to get them back at the table when such adventure is happening in the yard.  And there's the bottom line for guys, it's adventure.  They love it.  They crave it.  They need it.  Whether it's playing on a softball team, like Daddy does, so that they can have the adventure of competition.  Or it might be hiking in an unknown path, where there could be adventure at every turn.  They need it.  I don't understand it, when I just need some quiet in my day, or some thread with which to crochet.  I don't need adventure.  But they do.  These little balls of manhood with which God has entrusted me need adventure.  If I don't allow them to have it, they will find it elsewhere.  I want them to find it here, where there is safety and security on which to fall.  I want them to be able to come home from their adventures and tell their Dad and me all about it.  And even though I don't love or crave it, I want to be part of some of their adventures.  I don't want to miss a single one, whether it's just in the telling, or if I actually have to take part.  I want to experience their adventures with them and always be able to measure them against what God's plan for their life, and His plan for their spiritual growth is.


He has set adventure in the hearts of my little men.  I am grateful for it, even if I don't understand it.  I know it all has to do with the plans He's made for their fantastic lives.  Now there's a real adventure, watching my little guys grow up and fulfill all that God has planned for them.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Memory Verses

My nine-year-old was two years old when he began learning scripture.  I'm not kidding.  He was two.  I had decided to memorize Psalm 91 just for myself when my baby was toddling around.  Every morning over our breakfast together, I would read and recite the verses in this Psalm.  Then throughout the day, I would quote as much as I could back to myself.


It was nearly Thanksgiving when I was either dusting or vacuuming the dining room and trying to remember my Psalm.  I was stuck and kept repeating the same verse, trying to get my brain to remember the next one.  My little McLane, who was playing nearby began quoting the next verse for me.  I was thunderstruck!  I looked down at him and said, "What did you say?"  He, very easily, began to recite Psalm 91.


It was never my intent to fill his little heart with scripture.  I was learning myself.  I had never placed a lot of importance on scripture memorization.  I had a few random verses in my heart from childhood, but mostly as I grew-up I memorized enough to get the prize or reward being offered and then forgot it.


At two, however, my little guy began his adventure with scripture memorization.  By the time he was five, we had at least 25 verses memorized.  There was never any pushing, we would just recite the verse over breakfast.  Sometimes we would say them as we were playing or later in the day, but mostly we only recited them at breakfast.  And he learned them...oh my how he learned them.  His brother is just as quick to learn scripture as well.  And they both memorized their poetry in the same fasion, quickly and accurately.  We learn poetry the same way, we recite it each morning over breakfast.


Last year, our church began a plan of scripture memory.  One verse or a series of verses is listed in the weekly bulletin and every Sunday we recite the verses as a church.  The children must quote the verses from memory to one particular couple in the church.  If they've memorized each verse at the end of six months, they receive a prize in June.  If they memorize all the verses for the year, they receive a much larger prize in January.  Last year, our Walker T. was the youngest child to receive recognition for memorizing all the verses.  I'm sure some must think I drill and drill the boys, but I don't.  We quote them over breakfast...that's it!


Since the church began it's scripture memory program, I've set aside our own verses.  BUT I just read about Simply Charlotte Mason's plan for scripture memory.  Check it out here:  http://simplycharlottemason.com/progress/index.php/cm-time-savers/scripture-memory-system/

I'm going to be dusting off our old list of memory verses and begining a new program with our new school year.  I'm so excited to be planning a full program of heart-hiding.


Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11


These are the verses that we memorized during the fist several years of their young lives.  Maybe they would be a good starting place for you!

Genesis 1:1

Exodus 20:12

Psalm 19:14

Psalm 23

Psalm 91

Psalm 100:4

Psalm 139:14

Proverbs 3:5-6

Matthew 5:37

Matthew 6:9-13

Matthew 7:12

Mark 16:6

Luke 2:7

Luke 10:27

John 3:16-17

John 4:14

Philippians 2:14-16

Philippians 4:8

Colossians 3:20

I John 4:18

I Corinthians 14:40

I Corinthians 10:31

Philippinas 4:13

Thursday, May 18, 2006

homemade breadcrumbs and my favorite chicken recipe

There is a bag of bread ends and crusts in my freezer.  Well, actually there isn't a bag of bread ends in my freezer any more.  I made bread crumbs.  You see, my boys won't eat the ends of the bread unless it's from a loaf of italian or french bread.  They are also not crazy about the crusts, but we do make them eat the bread crust most of the time.  So, when the bread gets down to the ends or we cut the crusts off a sandwich, I throw them into the plastic bag in the freezer.


Today I retrieved the bag from the freezer and threw the pieces into the food processor.  Voila!  Bread crumbs.


This may seem silly, but just the process of saving the bread and making my own bread crumbs makes me feel like a Proverbs 31 women.  Yes, breadcrumbs may not cost all that much when purchased from the market, but these breadcrumbs are made beacause I love my family and I love the job God has given me to care for them.


Because we eat mostly whole weat or multi-grain bread, our bread crumbs are full of fiber and nutrition.  There's even ground nuts from the seed bread that we eat! These are power-packed bread crumbs!  So this afternoon after grinding out a big bucket of bread crumbs, I used them in my favorite chicken recipe.  My mom made chicken breasts supreme for us.  It was my birthday supper a few times when I still lived at home.  This is a great dish for company, or make your family just as special as company and make it just for them.  I thought you might like the recipe, so here goes!


Chicken Breast Supreme


6 split chicken breast halves, skin and bones removed



2 C. sour cream

1/4 C lemon juice

4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

4 tsp. celery seed

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tsp paprika

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp. salt


additional ingredients

1 3/4 C. dry bread crumbs

1/2 C. butter

1/2 C shortening


Mix marinade in a large bowl and place chicken in marinade.  Make sure chicken is well-coated.  Allow chicken to marinate over night.  When ready to serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove chicken from sour cream, roll in crumbs, coating evenly.  Arrange in single layer in large shallow baking dish.  Melt butter and shortening in small saucepan.  Spoon half over chicken.  Bake uncovered 45 min.  Spoon rest of butter mixture over chicken.  Bake 10-15 min. longer until tender & crispy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Placemat learning

As I was setting the table for supper this afternoon a lightbulb lit up over my head.  I'm always looking to sneak education into our days.  Recently I picked up a geography songs tape at a used curriculum sale.  When we're doing chores in the morning, we listen to the geography songs.  The boys are learning the names of countries, states, capitals, oceans, and lots of other geographical terms and they don't even know they're learning them!


But that's not why the light bulb lit.  Over the weekend, I picked up a copy of Debi Pearl's CD "Best Homeschooling Ideas."  She mentioned placing a clear plastic table cloth on the kitchen table and putting maps and posters under it.  I've had a map on our table under a plastic cloth for months, but last night, I added a few brochures listing state facts about PA.  This sparked a great conversation with Daddy about the state insect, tree, and mammal last night at supper.


I was reminiscing about that great idea when I was setting the table and my mind reeled back to the stack of placemats stuffed in the drawer under my table cloths.  The night before, we had dug out a few cloth placemats printed with pictures of vintage guns.  The boys were interested in the guns and which were "the best."  We even got out a ruler to measure each rifle's stock to see which was longest and therefore most accurate.  I was planning to put the solar system placemat we had in our stash under our plastic table cloth since we're planning a solar system/astronomy study this summer.  AND THEN IT HIT ME...give each person a different placemat and let the learning begin!


This may seem like a very obvious technique to you, but to me it was revelation.  So, McLane, our 9 year-old son, had a baseball placemat.  Walker T., who is seven, had the solar system placemat.  Todd, my darling of thirteen years, had a complete world map.  And I had the US states and capitals.


When supper began, I asked Todd to tell me the capital of Washington state.  That started the evening's festivities.  Throughout the course of the supper hour, everyone was regaling the family with trivia from their placemat.  Guessing games were aplenty!  It was a very fun time, but also very educational.  If you were a fly on the wall you would have heard, "Daddy, do you know where to place your fingers if you want to throw a curveball?"  "Daddy, do you know which planet is the closest to the sun?"  "What are the two lines parallel to the equator?"  "What's the capital of Vermont?"


So, now our table is adorned with a small stack of placemats.  I'm going to be watching for many more learning placemats at yard sales, thrift stores, and discounters.  I may even try my hand at making a few of my own using clear contact paper.  The learning will continue at every family meal showing all of us that ours is a lifestyle of learning.  I'll have to find a beautiful basket as their holder on the kitchen table.  I love any excuse to get a cute new basket!

Monday, May 8, 2006

Book Recommendations: Old Middle Ages texts

While digging through my history books looking for books to use for our study of the Middle Ages next school year, I found two wonderful books.  I'm sure that I purchased them at a used book sale because they are both very old, but they are VERY wonderful and I want to share them with you.


The first book is an elementary text book called Adventures in Old World History by Hattie L. Hawley.  It is full of pictures, maps, and stories.  The text is written to a middle elementary student.  At the end of each chapter there are  pronunciation drills for new words; activity suggestions; additional reading; and a type of quiz.  In the activities, there is always suggestions of notebook pages to add to your history notebook.  I was so tickled to find this book among my stash.


The next book is actually one of the recommended books in Adventures in Old World History.  This book is called History Stories from Other Lands Tales from Far and Near Book 1.  I was so excited when I saw it recommended in the first book.  I couldn't believe I had it!  I really felt like God was affirming our study.  This book "History Stories" is a series of stories geared to elementary aged children and is fully illustrated, even with some color plates!


If you find these gems at a used book sale, snatch them up.  You'll be happy!

The Box in the Corner of the Living Room

It's that time of year in Pennsylvania.  Yes, it's Spring, buth that's not it.  No, it's the end of the school year, and time for planning the beginning of another year!  In PA, we have to be evaluated by a state licensed teacher.  We also have to give a portfolio showing the student's progress to our school district along with the report from our evaluation.  This marks the end of our school year.


It is also time for the curriculum fair which, in our little home, marks a time to plan for the coming school year.  So right now, instead of trying to find an evaluator (yes, I'm late) and pulling together our portfolio, I'm excitedly planning for next year.  I thought that this year, I would go to our curriculum fair with all my plans intact.  So, I sat down and talked with my two guys about what to study in 2006-2007.


Several weeks ago, as I was looking at our accomplishments over the year, I realized that I didn't give the boys anything to love this year.  Maybe that's not totally true.  We read the Chronicles of Narnia, which they loved.  They've made costumes and many, many swords to use while they re-enact the books.  But we didn't focus in on one time period in our history study, or one subject in our science study.  I didn't feel as though I gave them a subject or a study to really love and grab for their own.  This lead me to think that I needed to focus on one time period for our history study, and one area of science.


When I approached my 7 and 9 year old boys about picking a subject for history and science study for next year, they quickly agreed on what they wanted to study.  For history, we will study the Middle Ages.  For Science, we are spending the year on astronomy.


With these two subjects in mind, I spent a few afternoons sifting through the books in my book room.  I filled a large paper box full of books collected at used book stores, yard sales, and discounters.  My box overflowed with Midieval Times and Astronomy.


Last night I made a sheet with three columns for each study.  I listed the book titles in the first column.  In the second column, I listed the subjects that book would cover, like art, science, history, english, etc...  The third column was for notes and page numbers.  Some of the history books cover many time periods and I listed just the page numbers pertaining to the Middle Ages.


From my time spent charting our books I determined which books could be used for the spine of our studies.  These books will guide the rest of the study and the others will be used to support the spine.


So, now, there is a box of books in the corner of the living room.  For two little boys that box may as well be alive!  They are ready to dive right in and study Robin Hood, King Arthur, constellations, knights and castles, and the solar system.  They eagerly watched me sort through the books yesterday and this morning started asking, "When can we start reading Robin Hood, Mommy?"


Every little homeschool should have a box of books in the corner if it makes their students so eager to study something new!  Who knew that it didn't take a fancy electronic gadget, or even a piece of furniture like a bookshelf.  All you need is a cardboard box full of books to ignite a new fire for next year.