Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Feliz Navidad

My cousin Juanita Pelota sent this to me this morning, and I just have to share it - I know it is a lame excuse of a blog entry, being that I did not write it myself, but still it is festive and fun and bilingual - something we need around here right now!

T'was the night before Christmas and all through la casa
Not a creature was stirring, only the masa.
Mama making tamales con mucho cuidado
In hopes old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all the hijos, both buenos y malos
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos
Mis hermanos and I went to sleep in our camas
Some in calsones, some in piyamas
Cuando out in the yard I heard un gran grito
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito
And who in the world do you think que era?
El mero mero with his venados estaban afuera
Santa Claus in a sleigh with a big sombrero
I watched as they came, and this little fat hombre
Was shouting and whistling, and calling by nombre
Then standing straight up, with his hands on his pecho,
He flew to the top of our very own techo
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea
Then huffing and puffing, and a little cansado
He picked up a bag that looked so pesado
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos
For none of the hijos had been very malos
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento
As I heard him exclaim and this is verdad,

-author unknown

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Across Time

My very wise teacher friend informed me this morning that titles aren't supposed to come first - that the best titles come once one has finished the work. So, no more sitting waiting on a title for this blogger!

Lots has happened in the 3 weeks since I last posted, and I'll not spell out my daily doings for everyone since we all have full plates. Just weekend trips, day trips, school, parties, etc. We were rear-ended at a stop sign on the way to the State Fair, but thankfully no one was injured and we have a rental while the van is being repaired. So when you don't see a post, no worries!

My thoughts for the moment are spurred by Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober. It is Super Jirafa's biography reading this term, and I am reading it as well. I am truly fascinated. Many times among my homeschool mama friends someone has lammented, "Oh, to have been homeschooled...", and one of the primary reasons is this: I am learning SO much that I missed in school. The history that I once found monotonous, has come to life for me (and my children), and I can't get enough of it!

Reading Abigail Adams' letters written just over 200 years ago, at close to the same age that I am now, really brings tears to my eyes. She was a young wife and mother, schooling her children at home while her husband was away. And she stood with her 7 year old son (the future President John Quincy Adams) overlooking what remained of Charlestown during the Battle at Bunker Hill. I read the news and see scenes from Iraq on CNN. She had it in her backyard. A couple of nights ago I got to talk to one of my childhood friends, and both of our sons talk about joining the military one day. How proud, yet how anxious that makes us!

The part of the book that struck me today is on page 60 (for those of you with kiddos in AO year 4). "As she (Abigail) committed her thoughts to paper, she gained a clearer understanding of her own role as a wife and mother." Wow! That's me on my blog (or in my journal, which hasn't made it's way here quite so much)! I have to add, however, that it is more in the sitting at the feet of others that I learn and grow the most. The point of this revelation is that we are not so different than those who came before us. We can learn so much from them. I look at Abigail and how she pressed forward, remembering the prize set before her, and it encourages me onward as well. Imagine that she wanted John to burn her letters, but he saved them "that they may exhibit to our posterity a kind of picture of the manners, opinions, and principles of these times of perplexity, danger, and distress." Indeed.

My final thought on this topic for today is a similar revelation concerning children. My CM book club recently discussed our children's constant question of, "Is he a good guy or a bad guy?" as we read through our history books. And there is a quote in this biography from Abigail's son Charles, who at age 5 asked his mother, "Mar, who is for us and who against us?". And it struck me again how very much we are like those who came before us, even the children. Across time, that's what they really want to know - who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I'm an Inspiring Personality

I have started this post sans title, hoping the right one will emerge as I type out the story of my thumb. I'm so graceful (not) that I've heard many comments on my condition over the years. But we'll start with this - this is the second time I have almost lost the top of a thumb in the kitchen - the last time was my left thumb (I'm right handed), and my weapon was a knife. It was midnight, the dawn of Christmas Eve, the first time I was cooking a holiday dinner for my family... and we'd ony been married about a year & a half. But the knife went through the nail, I had stitches through the nail... it was a horribly painful, throbbing, bloody mess. The wait in the ER was certain to kill me, I was sure. There was so much blood - couldn't they see that I was dying?? But, alas, I did not. Fast forward - where are we now? - twelve years...

Two weeks ago my inlaws had come up for lunch and to share their pictures, stories (and gifts!) from their recent trip to Switzerland. Yes, they are quite the globe trotters now. Fancy this and fancy that ;o) But I digress. Sr. Smith and Sr. Smith Senior (he he - coudn't resist that one) had run up to grab some bread from the grocery store in the next town. Sra. Smith Senior (hey, I'm liking this now - it sounds very dignified) and I were chatting it up, and I was slicing vegetables. Now, I do this ALL the time. I have this great weapon called a mandoline slicer - it makes perfect slices of whatever I put through it, and all the same exact thickness. If you google mandoline vegetable slicer I'm sure you can find a picture of this modern weaponry designed for the kitchen. Now, a VERY important component to the mandoline is the GUARD. You're supposed to hold the vegetable on the guard and then slice. But I get a little too comfortable with my weaponry (hey, it's been 12 years since my last major slip) and don't always follow the directions... Little Paco had just come through wanting to "help" and I had very carefully shown him the very sharp blade of the mandoline and explained how under no cirmcumstances whatsoever was he to touch this. He took off up the stairs, and I started slicing the Green Bell Pepper. In case you're wondering what we vegetarians eat, this was to be a vegetable and rice stir fry. Almost everything else was done. Bell Pepper was the last thing. Oh, but engrossed in conversation with Sra Smith Senior, I had cut the Bell Pepper in such a way as to make the guard impossible to use. Drat. Well, that's okay. I'll be real careful. So I'm talking and slicing and slicing and talking, and I think, "Yeah, you really ought to be using that guard..." OUCH! There went the end of my right thumb. Yeppers. Through the nail. I realized what I had done and stopped before lopping off the whole tip. Quick pressure. No blood! No pain! This is nice. Can I just pretend this did not happen and finish the stir fry, please? Um, no. It must be dealt with. So Sr. Smith & his dad make it home, Sr. Smith has already determined the very long wait at PrimaCare, and he heads down to Rescue Nurse, my sweet neighbor. Because Sr. and Sra. Smith Senior were prepared with butterfly strips in their first aid kit, Rescue Nurse was able to patch me up in no time. Whew! The rice was made, the vegetables stirred, and Wala! Dinner was saved, and so was my thumb.

The title did emerge! And you're probably thinking, "What in the world does an Inspiring Personality have to do with hurting your thumb?" Well, a lot. Sr. Smith and I had a date Friday night to a homeschool meeting (when he starts a blog he can explain that it was not a date) where we learned about personality types and how knowing about our personality will help us understand ourselves and our family members - thus promoting better relationships. I tend to have these little "accidents" because my personality is not so concerned with the details. That's why I married Sr. Smith ;o) He's probably the reason I went twelve years in between accidents, truth be told.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will

This is Charlotte Mason's Motto for Students, and tomorrow I am going to share it with the boys. Here is the rest:

I am . . . a child of God, a gift to my parents and my country. I'm a person of great value because God made me. (Eph 2:10)

I can . . . do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God has made me able to do everything required of me. (Phil 4:13)

I ought . . . to do my duty to obey God, to submit to my parents and everyone in authority over me, to be of service to others, and to keep myself healthy with proper food and rest so my body is ready to serve. (Mark 12:30-31)

I will . . . resolve to keep a watch over my thoughts and choose what's right even if it's not what I want. (Psalm 119:30-32)

Maybe we'll make a poster and put it on a wall somewhere so we can have it to ponder when we pass it... I just love the empowerment in those 8 words! Our circumstances or feelings do not have to control us - if somehow the younger soup ingredients can learn this earlier than their parents (who, by the way, are still learning...).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Pecos Bill" - by Paco Zapato

This is an oral narration by Paco, of a tall tale he is reading...

Pecos Bill was eating some deer. A pack of coyotes gave him the meat to be friendly. Bill got lost by falling out of his family's wagon. It was 4 weeks before his family knew he was gone because there were more than 12 kids in his family. He was a year old when he got lost. Then he lived with the coyotes.

Total Momsense

Okay, Moms - you have to watch this video at the bottom of my page. Click on the 3rd one, the far right, as the other two are only partial recordings. You gotta watch the whole thing! Unfortunately I can only tag things from YouTube in groups - everything that has my search criteria comes up, so it is impossible to only show one video unless that video has a title that is different than all the others... Oh well! This is just a free, hodge podge kind of operation I'm running anyway ;o)

Okay, we found this the other day (Super Jirafa and I) and got a chuckle. Then he and Sr. Smith heard it on the radio - apparently Anita Renfroe is becoming quite popular! We watched it again this morning and as we were laughing at it I asked Super Jirfa if I sound like that. "No," he said, "That's what moms sound like whose kids go to public school." My mouth is hanging wide open because I think I sound JUST like this!! God's grace must be translating what comes out of my mouth before it hits my childrens' ears, because I feel like I bark orders at them night and day! I think this woman is hysterical, and I know I've heard many of those exact words out of my own mouth, my mother's mouth, and countless friends whose children are public schooled, homeschooled, or not even in school yet! We'll give Super Jirafa some grace to grow up and live a little... but I had to post what he said because it just cracked me up. It made me wonder how we've portrayed public school before him... but also eased my soul a little to know he isn't negatively affected by my sometimes negative comments ;o)

I also added a link to our favorite homeschooling resource, Ambleside Online. Super Jirafa is working really hard trying to finish Year 4 by February, so that he can start Year 5 & finish it before next fall. He really wants to start Junior High next year, so we're letting him. And Paco Zapato is in Year 3. Yesterday he had drawn the coolest ship with vikings on the dry erase board, but of course by the time I went to get my camera he had erased it and was drawing a steamboat... I'll try to get a picture posted if he'll leave anything alone long enough!

Well, off to get the school day started! Columbus and Franklin and DaVinci - Oh my!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Eat at Chili's today!

"100 % of the profits from Chili's today will benefit the Chili's St. Jude Research Hospital being opened in the next few months. This is such a worthwhile organization and one of the leading research hospitals for Children's Cancer. There is so little being done for Children's Cancer research that it is great when these opportunities come along!" quoted from my friend whose precious 4 year old son is battling cancer for the second time. Take a night off from your kitchen, and eat as healthy as you can from the Chili's menu ;o)

My thumb is thankful to be kept away from sharp utensils for the night - I'll write about that & give you all a chuckle (or the heebie jeebies) at my expense later. Suffice to say, all is well thanks to my wonderful nurse neighbor ;o)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Teachable Moments

Well, my day started on the porch as all the best ones do, and I decided I needed to memorize a verse about fatigue just in case I get weary this week while Sr. Smith trots about the country doing something important for internet telephony. I wrote it down, read it several times, tried saying it from memory a couple times & got it. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand" Isaiah 41:10. Then I heard the sound. It wasn't a crash. It wasn't a thud. It was the unmistakable sound of glass spreading about in a thousand directions across the tile floor in the kitchen. And I knew that inside that kitchen was Paco Zapato - sin zapatos nonetheless. I went in, and when I asked if he was okay, he started confessing immediately, "I was playing with my apple. I threw it up there and I almost caught it!" What the apple had landed in instead of Paco's hand was my 2 cup pyrex measuring cup, which was what I heard hit the floor. Sr. Smith came around the corner to check the scene, and I just smiled and quoted Isaiah 41:10. I put barefoot Paco on the stairs and started cleaning up.

Fast forward about 20 minutes. I still wasn't finished on the porch, but Super Jirafa and Hermosa were up and looking for adventure. So they came outside to walk around on the sidewalk. Poor Hermosa - she must have grown in the night, because she had no balance. I don't know exactly how many times she fell down, but she kept getting back up and out there. Until finally Tio brought her to me with a bloody lip and skinned knee. Bless her heart. Needless to say, I'm not looking forward to her "well" check in the morning! Isaiah 41:10...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The First Day of School...

The first day of school was always something that gave me knots in my stomach, both as a student and as a teacher. But not once we started homeschooling four years ago. Being home with my kids during their school years was exactly what I never knew I always wanted. This year was different, though. I was more prepared by far this year - with a great schedule, a list of books I couldn't wait to dive into. And my kids were eyeing the books on the shelves like candy, "Please, can I just read a few pages?" Yet, I was also more anxious. Why? Maybe I'd put everything together so perfectly hoping for a perfect year, and didn't want to be dissappointed? I don't know. But as I sat on the front porch with my Bible, Señor Smith came out on his way to work. He sat down beside me for a moment, and I just started crying. I'm sure he felt full of confidence entrusting the soup ingredients to me and going out to earn our living at that point! But he actually did. And he gave me such encouragement. "You have been doing this for years. Yes, it is hard some days. Yes, we will have struggles. But we aren't doing this for each day to be perfect. There is a long term reward here, and look at how far we've come." I knew I married the right guy ;o) Well, off in Old Red (the truck we bought 12 years ago) he went. And I opened my Bible. Here is what I wrote that morning....

Jesus had a difficult task ahead (that puts it mildly - he was looking at death on a cross), so he prayed. He prayed and asked God to be glorified through him, among other things. He prayed for me, for all believers. Not that we would be taken out of this world, but that we would be protected from the evil one. I am so weary, and feel so anxious starting this school year today. It will be our fifth year - it isn't new to me. I opened my Bible thinking, "God, I bet you are going to speak to me today about my fears regarding school." I almost dared Him to try. And sure enough, I was on John chapter 17. So like you, God. Do I have a cross to bear? Nothing like Jesus' cross. Which gives me some perspective and does help. Do I have a difficult task that God has called me to? Absolutely. But Lord, please glorify yourself through it. I lay out my weak, sinful flesh, and give it to you as clay to mold. Give me a gentle answer when my children disobey or argue. Let our work together bring honor to you. Let me be a light before my children. To model your love and patience and mercy. Let me so show them your love that they see You in me. Love you, Lord.

My First Post!

I'm a little nervous getting this blog started... so many friends have ventured to the cyber-blog world, and I agree with the one who noted it took awhile to share her blog address with others because as it turns out these things end up being so very personal!

So why am I blogging anyway? Well, for one my children are writing more and I wanted to give them a place to share their thoughts outside of our home. And also because I feel like I'm behind the times if I don't - hah! So who knows how much we'll use this, and if anyone will be interested besides the grandparents who want to keep up with us... but perhaps we can be a source of encouragement to others on this journey, as so many others have encouraged us.

I will start by explaining our blog title - La Sopa Smith in Spanish means "Smith Soup". We are a Christan, crunchy-conservative, vegetarian, working on becoming bilingual, homeschooling family, who likes to eat soup. Kind of simple, but if you think of all the different ways you can enjoy soup - all the recipes out there, and especially the ones you create as you go - "soup" is a great way to define us. None of us are biologically related as God has built our family first through marriage, then through adoption. We are all different, although there are lots of similarities between us. But our soup flavor wouldn't be the same without each one of us. It was like God started making this soup in His pot, and it didn't taste just right, so he added another ingredient. And another. And another! And just as a carrot does something wonderful for a soup, think of what would be missing if there was no onion? Or potato? And all the seasonings that go along with it - the life experiences and other family and friends who enrich our soup? So, there we are - Smith Soup. And in Spanish because our goal is to have the whole family speaking Spanish fluently!

Now... my next post will be what I wrote in my prayer/Bible study journal the morning we started school two weeks ago. Which is what propelled me to actually set up a blog in the first place.