Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sweet Sabbath

my "Jesus Time" cup from a sweet friend in Memphis

"I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of his glories and grace. I will boast of all his kindness to me. Let all who are discouraged take heart. Le us praise the Lord together, and exalt his name...Oh, put God to the test and see how kind he is! See for yourself the way his mercies shower down on all who trust in him....The Lord is close to those whose hearts are breaking; he rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins. The good man does not escape all trouble--he has them too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one."
Psalm 34:1-3, 8, 18, 19

Technical Difficulties

I've been hoping to post some pictures throughout week, but I've had so much trouble getting any picture to upload. Since a picture is better than 1000 words, I've been hesitant to post, but here are a few highlights from the last week.

-Benjamin got to clean out our water tank Friday, and God sent more rain today for our clean and empty tank. For his Language Arts assignment this week, he had to write the instructions for how to do something, so he chose how to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. These cookies happened to be a "jar" recipe, so Benjamin made five jars worth of ingredients and passed them out at staff meeting this week along with his instructions. My favorite part? The last line of his directions: Make sure you wash the dishes and clean up after yourself.
-Olivia continues to play her RV game. Today, she and I began a trip from Davao (in the Phillipines), travelled down to New Zealand, across to Chile, and up to Little Rock, Arkansas. I told her that I thought that it might take a long time, and her reply was "Don't worry, I brought a few snacks!"
-Sarah made playdough for Katherine (including some fruit punch flavored Kool-Aid) one day this week, and they played with it during their special school time together. I wonder if Sarah will specialize in early childhood education when she gets older? Sarah showed Katherine how to roll snakes and use the cookie cutters with the homemade clay.
-We got to help out a little bit with a literacy workshop this week by stuffing folders. I was really proud of my kids as they worked to quickly finish their job.
-Sarah makes tortillas every week for taco night (thanks to all of the taco seasoning we've received in care packages!). This week when she brought me a tortilla fresh from the skillet and I immediately devoured it, a wave of nostalgia overwhelmed me and I was transported back to Casa Bonita in Little Rock. I've seen pictures of me eating there as a very little girl, Aaron and I used to eat there whenever we went to the Cinema 150 on a date, and I've taken orchestras there to eat while we were on field trips. So, this week, I ate at "Casa Honiara" and made plans for a furlough visit to Casa Bonita.

Hopefully, we'll be able to get pictures to post soon. To get ready for National Bubble Gum Day tomorrow, try this website where you can buy a kit to make your own gum or find a store that sells Glee Gum (made with sustainably forested rainforest chicle).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Creative Kids

I think every homeschool mom has days when she wonders if her kids are absorbing information. Lately, I've been convicted about fostering my children's God-given creativity. Creativity usually equals BIG MESS. And here in the Solomon Islands, I'm kinda stingy with our craft supplies. Anyway, as part of our Science we've been reading a wonderful book, "Diary of an Early American Boy". Early in the book, we read about the different kinds of ladders that might have been around in 1805. Nothing terribly exciting. Yesterday at lunch, Benjamin started playing with his food, and just as I was about to reprimand him, he exclaimed, "Look, Mom, I made a ladder like Noah Blake's!" Sure enough, he had carved his carrot into the shape of one of the ladders we had studied three weeks ago. I'm so thankful that my kids don't need lots of glue sticks and construction paper to exercise their creativity. I think they are doing just fine.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We humbly say thank you.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
I Thessalonians 5:11

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mozart!

W. A. Mozart has been one of favorite composers to study. There are so many resources to help kids discover this amazing composer who began writing music when he was only a child!

Classics for Kids has great lesson plans and radio broadcasts to help you learn about Mozart in a fun way. Our children love the days we utilize this tool to help us find out more about a composer.

Here are two of our favorite picture books about Mozart:
Getting to know the World's Greatest Composers: W.A. Mozart by Mike Venezia
Mozart Finds a Melody by Stephen Costanza

We loved watching the opera "The Magic Flute" (with subtitles, of course). To introduce the opera we read some of the picture book versions of the opera first. The kids still sing arias from this opera even though we studied Mozart two years ago. Nobody can imitate the Queen of Night like Sarah!

This computer game will familiarize children with the opera as well. A favorite with our kids, it teaches facts about Mozart and hones listening skills.

Out of the mouths of babes...

From Olivia as she proudly showed me all of the things she arranged on her bed, "Me and Lamey (a stuffed lamb) are taking our RV to the Phillipines. We are taking two other families inside the RV. " I love my creative kids!

Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, January 26th

Outside my window...leaves dripping from early morning rain, fog so thick I can't even see the harbour

I am thinking...that I want to nurture creative children

I am thankful for...friends halfway around the world who jumped on the chance to help us out with Benjamin's glasses (and his custom-ground lenses)

From the learning rooms...Tchaikovsky's ballets, Math - order of operations (Sarah), counting on to add (Olivia), renaming in addition and subtraction (Benjamin), biographies of Elizabeth Blackwell and William Wilberforce, making pin magnets

From the kitchen...hamburgers on the grill to celebrate Australia Day

I am blue cotton dress with flowers

I am creating...from Susan Branch, "Homemaking is the most creative job there is -- we're always making something from nothing! It's cooking, decorating, gardening, arranging and planning -- not to mention child care, which requires a Michelangelo of Creativity -- all true arts."

I am going...hopefully nowhere

I am reading..."Growing Creative Kids" by Dr. Wesley Sharpe

I am hoping...that Katherine will sleep well soon

I am hearing...little feet toddling down the hall

Around the house...a friend coming over to cook dampers (for Australia Day) in our kitchen, what a blessing!

One of my favorite things...snuggling with my kids

A few plans for the rest of the week: celebrating the Chinese New Year and National Puzzle Day

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Broccoli doesn't usually warrant a picture or words of praise, but it is imported here. A big shipment came in last week with fresh onions and oranges and BROCCOLI! So our family has been enjoying the treat of raw broccoli quite a bit this week.

Don't forget to swing by Peggy's and see all of the other daybooks while you are munching on your broccoli!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Snow Day

We have received so much fun snow stuff in the mail (thanks, Mama) that we had to celebrate!
We made "snowcakes" to share with the SITAG kids and staff.

Bonegi Beach

I know it doesn't look like much, but behind us is a huge Japanese ship. The story is that the ship ran aground on purpose to unload its troops and to "encourage" the Japanese to fight well since they wouldn't have a ride home. Aaron and Benjamin snorkeled around this wreck as well as another Japanese ship down the beach a little bit. This is the last of our "Where in Honiara...?" assignments. Now, we can really buckle down and focus on Pijin.
SITAG Brownies
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa (I use a heaping measure)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup nuts
Add ingredients in order. Pour into greased 9 x 13 (we like 11 x 14) pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. We also like to add chocolate chips or other fun stuff, like the Heath bits.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

California Gold Rush

To celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, each of the kids created a scene using the directions we found at Crayola's website (this is one webpage I will be visiting again and again). I have tried and tried to get pictures of Olivia and Benjamin's projects to download, but Sarah's is the only one that will cooperate right now.
You know us, we also have to celebrate with food. So, we also made our favorite brownie recipe from the SITAG cookbook (by far the best plain-jane brownies I have ever tasted - I wonder if a cup of butter has anything to do with it?), and we added Heath bits from a care package for our gold. Then we could search for "gold" while we enjoyed our brownies!

Some of our favorite books about this subject:

"Gold Fever: Tales from the California Gold Rush" by Rosalyn Schanzer (published by National Geographic)

"By the Great Horn Spoon" by Sid Fleischman

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Magnetic Paintings and Ballet

Today, we combined art and science to paint with magnets. The kids had learned that magnets attract iron and steel, so they looked around for small items that would respond to the magnet. Then we poured a little paint on the paper and each child took a turn moving the magnets around underneath the shoebox.

While the paintings were drying, we listened to the "Classics For Kids" show about Tchaikovsky's ballets. Then, we followed up with selections from "A Child's Introduction to Ballet" (a Barnes and Noble moving sale treasure).

After being studious all morning, it was lots of fun to immerse ourselves in the arts for a while!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

WWII Monuments

This morning, we went to visit the American WWII Monument and the Japanese WWII Monument on opposites sides of a valley. Both had amazing views of the harbor, and we could see the site for almost every battle fought on land or at sea (Henderson Air Field is too far away as is Rennell Island). There was a great map at the American Monument, and as we looked over Ironbottom Sound (named for all of the ships sunks in that region) we could imagine the water full of battleships.

The Japanese Monument was sad because it was in such disrepair. A family who lived just below the monument walked up and visited with us a little bit. They said that their village used to be paid to keep the Japanese Monument in good shape, but since they no longer got paid, they no long had the right to look after the monument. A statue had been toppled and there was graffiti on the back of the monument in the picture.

We are so thankful for all of the men and women (past and present) who give of themselves to serve their country.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Inauguration Day
Richard Watson Gilder
On this great day a child of time and fate
On a new path a power doth stand and wait
Tho' heavy-burdened shall his heart rejoice,
Dowered with a nation's faith, an empire's choice.
Who hath no strength, but that the people give,
And in their wills, alone, his will doth live.
On this one day, this, this, is their one man,
The well-beloved, the chief American!
Whose people are his brothers, fathers, sons:
In this his strength, and not a million guns.
Whose power is mightier than the mightiest crown,
Because that soon he lays that power down.
Whose wish, linked to the people's, shall exceed
The force of civic wrong and banded greed.
Whose voice, in friendship or in warning heard
Brings to the nations a free people's word;
And, where the opprest out from the darkness grope,
'T is as the voice of freedom and of hope.
O pray that he may rightly rule the state,
And grow, in truly serving, truly great.

Sous Chef

When I put on my apron to cook the chicken pilau for supper, Katherine begged for an apron to wear, too.

We start 'em early in the Choate house.

Monday, January 19, 2009

National Popcorn Day

Today is National Popcorn Day, and we made our favorite fun recipe to help celebrate. I didn't think we would be able to make our traditional popcorn cake, but just in the last week we have received cashews, M & Ms, and marshmallows in three separate boxes! We were soooo excited.

When you press the "cake" into the pan, it helps to have a realllllly strong person around to smoosh everything down - perfect job for my Benjamin.

If you have a library nearby, check out the books "The Popcorn Book" by Tomie dePaola and "Popcorn at the Palace" by Emily Arnold McCully to read while you munch, or read the following poem aloud to your hungry crew.

A Popcorn Song
Sing a song of popcorn

When the snowstorms rage;

Fifty little round men

Put into a cage.

Shake them till they laugh and leap

Crowding to the top;

Watch them burst their little coats

Pop!! Pop!! Pop!!~

Nancy Byrd Turner

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, January 29th

Outside my window...sunshine and a beautiful sunrise after a rainy day yesterday (it rained so hard that hearing the church service was difficult!)

I am thinking...about my friend Renee in Florida who has a birthday today

I am thankful for...a supportive and encouraging team of colleagues here in the Solomons

From the learning rooms...California Gold Rush, similies, five parts of a friendly letter, multiplying by 1000s, headstands, "Sunflowers" by Van Gogh, Nutcracker Ballet by Tchaikovsky, geography of the routes to California

From the kitchen...popcorn cake

I am wearing...ponytail, red cotton skirt (thanks again, Nancy), white t-shirt, red beaded earrings (thanks, Christine), guessed it...bare feet

I am hems for my rowdy five-year-old's dresses

I am learn Pijin. I REALLY AM!

I am reading..."Through Her Eyes: Perspectives on Life from Christian Women Serving the Muslim World" by Marti Smith - a great read for any woman serving overseas or for anyone wanting to know what life is like for a woman serving overseas

I am hoping...we don't get the stomach virus that is wreaking havoc around SITAG

I am hearing...kumara sizzling in the skillet for breakfast, Katherine's hiccups

Around the house...gobs of laundry hanging on the line and trying to dry after two days of rain, but today is sunny and bright!

One of my favorite things...bathtub fresh babies

A few plans for the rest of the week:
visiting WWII sites around the island of Guadalcanal, cooking lessons with one of the ladies from the island of Malaita

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Sarah pulled another molar this weekend! She likes to keep her loose teeth a surprise until they fall out. Katherine's molars have just finished coming in, and now Sarah is loosing hers.

Surprise in the mail!

Last Spring, one of Sarah's assignments for school was to write a favorite author. We included a self addressed stamped envelope in case the author wanted to write back. Sarah chose to write Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Treehouse Series). In a box we just received from my mother, we found a reply to Sarah's letter! Needless to say, she was very excited. Now we're wondering if Benjamin's author will reply...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Birthday Party - Solomon Island Style

Today, we went to celebrate the 16th birthday of a SITAG kid.

We drove about 40 minutes north of Honiara to a beautiful beach.

While the birthday girl spoke, I looked behind me and Sarah was sorting rocks.

When she had finished, this was the final result (my creative girl - must get it from her Daddy!)

We enjoyed practicing our Pijin and making some more friends. Katherine really did enjoy Queeny and Emma, just not when they pinched her fat cheeks.

Lunch was great, the SITAG family had roasted a pig and veggies overnight in a stone pit. Yummy!
On the way home, we saw a shining black and gold jersey with a big number 7 and "Roethlesburger" emblazoned on the back. Steelers fans are everywhere!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Benjamin Franklin's birthday

Some of our favorite books to enjoy today:

If you aren't crafty (and I can empathize), here's a template to make your own three cornered hat so you can look just like Benjamin Franklin! Although, Benjamin did remind me that Franklin wore a coonskin cap. And here or here you can find even more activities to share with your family.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Botanical Gardens

Today, our orientation to the Solomons including a trip to the Botanical Gardens. It was absolutely lovely!
See the big roots in the picture above? Some of the roots had been trimmed to allow the path to cut through, and root hairs had started to grow again. Pretty amazing!
Anybody know what this is? We think it is some form of parasite, but maybe it's the fruit on some vine?
Queen Katherine enjoying her throne.
We've had several days of rain recently. The trees were still dripping, and the stream was rushing by as we strolled.
I couldn't help but be reminded of Isaiah 55:10-11...

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I send it."

Oh, that Your Word would go forth in the Solomon Islands and produce an abundant harvest.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Take a Missionary to Lunch Day (In honor of Alber Schweitzer's birthday)

Obviously, our perspective on this holiday has changed over the years. I promise you that any of these will be a huge encouragement to missionaries near and far. These suggestions on how to celebrate come from "Every Day a Holiday" by Silvana Clark:

-Celebrate the most obvious way-take a missionary to lunch! Better yet, take their whole family out to lunch or dinner. Call your church or local Christian organizations to see if any missionaries are home on furlough.

-Can't find any missionaries to take to lunch? Put together a "lunch basket" to send to missionaries overseas. Include a variety of items they may not be able to get. Let your children pick out their favorite snack to send to missionary children (suggestion from the Choates - e-mail and ask those missionary children what they are missing)

-We often think of missionaries as people who serve God only in remote third world countries. Show children how they can be missionaries in their own community.

-Ask your church or denomination for the addresses (or e-mail addresses) of missionaries with children close in age to your children. Start a correspondence with them. Ask about their hobbies, daily schedule, and new experiences. Ask how you can pray for them.

-Read a book about Albert Scheweitzer's life.

-Ask a missionary how your family can pray for him or her this coming year. If the missionary is in a third world country, can you help by sending school supplies to his or her children? Find a way to stay in contact with the missionary's family.

-Design a "Getting to Know You" scrapbook. Give family members sheets of paper that will fit in a photo album. Everyone designs several pages with photographs and descriptive captions. Include brochures from your hometown. Compile the scrapbook and send it to a missionary family.

-Along with taking a missionary to lunch, consdier giving missionaries living in the U.S. gift certificates to restaurants. They'll appreciate being able to take their family out to eat on a limited budget. Throw in some gift certificates to McDonald's for fun!

Monday, January 12, 2009

He popped the question (twelve years ago)!

"How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways....
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. "
Twelve years ago today, Aaron asked me to marry him. The funny thing is that our "proposal-versary" was supposed to be January 10th! Aaron had my engagement ring made using a diamond from his mother, and when he went to pick up the ring he found the store had been closed for the day. So, we still enjoyed a fancy date (with me wondering all the while when he was going to get down on one knee). Three days later, Aaron picked up the ring, and he came to my apartment with Yarnell's Rocky Road ice cream in hand. His dad had said to make sure to propose in a romantic way! I was wearing sweats, eating leftovers, and watching "Wheel of Fortune". Aaron said our past had been rocky, we could eat the "Rocky Road" ice cream in the present, and the ring was the rock of our future.
Could I ever have imagined we would be translating Bibles in the Solomon Islands? Nope. Would I say "yes" all over again. You bet. Thanks for twelve amazing years, Aaron. I'm so glad you asked me to join you in this journey of life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Please stop by Peggy's and browse the other Daybooks...

Monday, January 12

Outside my window...a cool rainy morning, it's been raining all night

I am thinking...about how much my tongue sets the attitude of our household and praying Proverbs 16:21, 23, & 24

I am thankful for...a good night's sleep!

From the learning rooms...Katherine fingerpainting for the first time and trying to eat the paint, Sarah writing a story from the perspective of a gold nugget in California in 1849, giggles in PE as we tried knee stands and duck walks inside while rain fell outside, Olivia's proud grinning over a math page well done, Benjamin begging to read ahead & pull another book off the shelf

From the kitchen...eggplant moussaka (eggplant are plentiful and cheap right now)

I am wearing...turquoise ruffly full skirt (thanks, Nancy), white t-shirt, bracelet handcarved and inlaid right here in the Solomon Islands

I am creating...lots of handwritten letters.

I am the botanical gardens on Friday

I am reading..."The Arts and Crafts Busy Book - 365 Art and Craft Activities to Keep Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy" by Trish Kuffner (we are ALL enjoying trying out the suggestions for my wanna-be creative brain)

I am hoping...that those of us who have colds will get better soon.

I am hearing...Tchaikovsky string quartets, the hum of the ceiling fans, and the sound of pages turning

Around the house...laundry flapping on the line on the front porch, washing machine whirring, the last box still waiting to be unpacked

One of my favorite things...when the Pittsburg Steelers win and the smile on my husband's face

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Continue with school and language learning, field trips (Where in Honiara...?) on Wednesday and Friday as we introduce our family to our new colleagues around town and learn more about this beautiful place

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

PE this morning as we practiced our knee stands (readiness for head stands) - Katherine just had to get in on the fun!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things (again)

More of my favorite things...
... the most beautiful pirate you've ever seen...

... big dimples on a boy immersed in "Cliffside", SITAG kids' make-believe city...

... kids singing in the back of the van as we bump down the road...

...Katherine and Mama exploring the rain together.

"Children are a gift from God; they are his reward."
Psalm 127:3

Friday, January 9, 2009

Philatelic Bureau (Pictures by Benjamin)

stamps of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II
Yesterday, the kids and Aaron visited the Philatelic Bureau as part of our "Where in Honiara..." orientation. The history of the Solomon Islands can be traced through its stamps!
stamps commemorating WWII
I stayed home with a fussy Katherine, so Benjamin was our photographer (he's still learning to use his new camera).