Friday, September 12, 2008

Old Things New

A few years ago, we had one of Sr. Smith's (aka Batman's) co-workers & his family over for dinner. Pablo (the friend) gave me a compliment that I just loved the wording of, "You have lots of cool old stuff in your house!" And I appreciated it because I do truly love old stuff - especially if it once belonged to someone I love, or if it connects us to a family member that we never knew but know we would have loved had we had the chance. Like my engagement ring, for instance. It belonged to Sr. Smith's maternal grandmother. I never knew her, but wearing her ring makes me feel like I belong in her family. And this wash stand in the picture above was Pig's. She gave it to me in high school, and it was painted green then. Sr. Smith refinished it for me during our engagement (it gave him something to do - haha!), and now it is in the entry of our home topped with a doilie passed down from my great aunt Nora, an assortment of nature items, a couple of vases, and a new guest book that we recently started keeping (thanks for that idea, Javamom!). But old things also remind me not to be too connected to my "stuff". They remind me how quickly life on earth passes, and how this world will eventually pass away...

Now on to some of my old things...

I have to comment on these nature items... the pressed flowers sitting on this plate are 14 years old. Last week I dug out my old leaf/flower press that I made in graduate school the summer I got married. I was taking a Science in the Elementary School class, and our class made presses & then went out on a nature walk to collect items to press. Jirafa is taking Botany this year, so I pulled out the press for him. When we opened it, I couldn't believe my eyes - it was full of flowers! I picked a few for our nature display, and let him have the rest for his Botany book cover. Very cool.

The final picture here is a little basket of wildlife nests we've found along the way. A wasp nest from Brambleside last summer, a dirt dobber nest from our neighbor, and the last 2 sparrow nests from my hanging plants on the back porch. The other day Paco & I did our outdoor "Autumn cleaning" which included retrieving the last nest. The birds had found some great soft lining this year! I carefully removed it from the plant, and Paco (ever the observant) said, "Look! There's something down there" pointing down in the leaves. Well, sure enough, 3 little eggs had been kicked out of the nest and were sitting whole down below where the nest had been. So we have included them in our display as well.

"You turn winter into spring

You take every living thing

And You breathe Your breath of life into it over and over again

You made the sunrise, day after day after day

But there's a morning coming, when old things will all pass away

And everyone will see You make all things new"

- from "All Things New" by Stephen Curtis Chapman

Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pizzas & Pijamas - Our Back to School Party!

It's back to school on Labor Day! Whoo-hoo! We decided to have our first day today as Sr. Smith would be able to join us. Typically when Daddy has a day off of work we are not doing school, so this just felt like the right way to get started this year.
To kick off our new year, we had a pizza & pijama party in our school room last night. After we ate, I gave each of the kids their new assignment notebooks and we went through them and our new schedule together. They were so excited to read through it all. "Look, Jirafa, a 15 minute break at 10:15!" Okay, so they weren't nearly as excited about the hours of work that preceded and followed the break, but they had fun thinking about what the first day would be like.
I plan to write about the changes I've made to how we work through our day, and new things we're doing this year. But for now I'm just posting about the party and pictures of our school room (aka "the loft"), which has been re-vamped to be more user-friendly. We hope to use it more for our actual work, whereas in the past we've sort of spread out all over the house. Of course, in the winter we'll be snuggled up by the fire :o)
Okay, here are the pictures from our party...
Braces and black olives...! Jirafa is starting year 5

Extra cheese, no sauce, with garlic shake! Paco is starting Year 3.5!

Each boy has his own bin filled with current books; the rest are on the shelf above his bin. Jirafa takes his bin to the large table, while Paco prefers the small table. Grab & go on Wednesdays!

Here's a view of most of the room - Sr. Smith built all those shelves & the window seat (which has four compartments that open for storage).

He's too good to me :o)

If you look to the bottom right hand corner of this picture, you can see the corner of a chair; Jirafa's table is up against that wall w/two chairs. A map of the world hangs above it. To the left you can see some smaller black shelves, those are just from Wal-Mart until Sr. Smith has time to build more shelves; to the left of those shelves is a map of the USA, followed by Doorposts charts on down the hallway (which is where I'm standing with the camera). Hermosa's picture books are on the shelf that faces the rocker where Sr. Smith is sitting, and behind him on the wall is the dry-erase board.

Well, that's a peek into our little world over here. Blessings to everyone starting school, whether at home or another school of your choice. Have a great year!