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Archive for August, 2013

Back to School Collage

The Prairie Family began our 2013-2014 school year last week.  Yes, I know, it’s kind of early.  That’s OK–we were ready.  I like getting a good early start on the year so that we can take days off from time-to-time to work on projects or just to maintain our sanity!  🙂

So, what’s new for Brookside Christian School?  Well, there are several things.  First of all, I just formalized our ensemble practices as an official slot in our time schedule.  We’ve been rehearsing together regularly for quite awhile, but it was not a planned part of our day.  Now it is right on our schedule, so that should help things flow a a little more realistically as far as getting all of the classes finished is concerned.

Another positive change has been a re-arranged classroom.  Most of our school tv’s now are the nice flat-screens, so it was time to get rid of our big, bulky tv stands.  Instead, we put up shelves on the wall for the tv’s and scooted the desks up under the shelves.  Then we scooted the dividers, and the result was opening up a large part of the room!  Wow–I really didn’t realize what a difference it would make.  Here is a picture of our nice, open main classroom:

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Ahhh….breathing room!  LOL!  Of course, John and Brock are still in the adjoining room, and that works well too.

So, what’s new with the kids??  So glad you asked!

John is in 11th grade.  Wow, can you believe it?!  He has a full load of classes, for sure.  He’s taking Life Management, Geometry, Language 11, Spanish 2, Chemistry, and U.S. History.  He wasn’t too crazy about the idea of taking Spanish 2.  He didn’t really enjoy Spanish 1 last year, but after doing some internet research, he discovered that having two years of a foreign language is important to some colleges.  So, he was wise and signed up for Spanish 2 to keep his options open.  John is also breaking new ground for the Prairie Family this year in that he signed up to take choir at the local college.  I think that will be a great opportunity for him to branch out a little–we’ll see how that goes.  If all goes well, he may take some summer courses or something.

Brock is in 9th grade and has changed so much over the last few months.  He is so funny–so very, very funny!  He has such a wonderful sense of humor and keeps us laughing all day long!  He, like John, has a full load of classes.  He decided to go back to playing the piano this year, which makes me happy!  🙂  He took lessons when he was little, but he just didn’t enjoy it that much.  So, after he reached level 3, I gave him the option to keep going or to set it aside.  He chose at that time to continue the violin, but not pursue the piano, and that was fine.  His interest in music has really increased over the past year or so, though.  So, I told him that if he ever decides to go further in music at some point in his life, he’d really wish he could play the piano.  I told him I would not force him or beg, but that if he decided to give piano another chance, I’d help him out.  Over the summer he sat down and plunked away and surprised himself at how much he remembers and actually how easy it is now that he is older.  So, he said that once school started, he’d like to try lessons again.  He has, and he is doing just great!

Cosette is in 7th grade, which means that she has begun A Beka Academy P. E.  The older boys always chose to use the exercise bike for that class, but Cosette wanted to try a different approach.  She really wanted to do an exercise video program. so I got her Leslie Sansone’s Ultimate 5 Day Walk Plan.  She has been using it for a couple of weeks now and really seems to like it.

Luke is in 6th grade.  He is very excited to be an official member of our string ensemble for the first time this year.  His skills on the violin have reached a level where he can play some of our music, and he has looked forward to that for a long time.  This Sunday he will be playing in the church’s instrumental ensemble with us, and we all agree that he is doing a great job!

Kara is in 4th grade, which in A Beka Academy means it is Kansas Notebook time.  This is scheduled in the middle of the year and falls roughly in January and February for us.  We had a few work days while we were waiting for our videos to arrive, so Kara and I just went ahead and got a head start on that Kansas history project.  Once we got started, we have just kept working on it.  In fact, it looks like we are just going to see it through to the end!  Having that finished will be a great help later on in the school year.  Kara is also taking trumpet lessons this year.  Helping her practice for those lessons has been a challenge since I don’t play it!  It did cause me to dig out my clarinet, though.  Since the trumpet and the clarinet are both b-flat instruments, they can play the same music.  Although I can’t help Kara much on how to play the trumpet, I can play with her on my clarinet and at least give her a pitch to match.  So, after practicing her piano lesson each day, she and I play trumpet/clarinet duets.  🙂 One day, probably sooner than I think, Kara will be ready to play in our church ensemble as well.

So, our school year is under way.  Sometimes my blogging gets spotty as we go through these school months, but I will try to keep up as time allows.

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After spending the summer leading a Patch the Pirate club, I have grown to really love and respect Ron Hamilton. His music is spiritually uplifting and deep.  This song is one of his newest.  He recently lost his son, and this video was made shortly after that tragic event.  Although the video has some technical problems (the sound doesn’t quite match the video), it shows the peace and strength that Christ gives to those who love Him.  True faith makes a difference.  My Hope is Jesus:

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This is another video of Brock being silly with Behemoth. It is an outtake–he really didn’t do this for the show!

Reaching the last song…..finally!  🙂

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In an earlier entry, I posted that this summer our church decided to have a Patch the Pirate music/drama club instead of a traditional VBS.  Basically, we took the regular Patch Club materials, added some crafts, games, and puppets and held a summer kids’ club that had a lot of the same features of a VBS along with good Biblical content and musical training.

All in all, the club went pretty well.  Our biggest problem was scheduling.  There is just so much for families to do in the summer that it is nearly impossible to find a time to hold something like this without creating scheduling conflicts.  Too early in the summer conflicts with baseball games; later in the summer conflicts with the fair and vacations.  We opted to go for the later weeks, and really the first four weeks worked pretty well, and we had a pretty steady attendance.  The last two weeks really fell off, though, because of the fair and vacations.  So, maybe next year if we decide to do the same type of format we ought to focus on four good weeks instead of six with kids missing the last two sessions.  We have time to think about all of that.

The Prairie Family kids were great to help with the club.  We had puppet rehearsals every day for several weeks, and they kept good attitudes through it all.  John helped play the piano, and all of the kids helped with set-up/tear down which was no small thing!  The boys also helped run the technology, and we learned a lot in that area as far as hooking up sound and projection systems.  That is good stuff to know in many situations, so that was certainly not wasted practice!

The last night of our club is our traditional time for our country-church-style fun.  Where else can kids launch water balloons with a giant slingshot across the parking lot and hit the neighboring grain elevator?!  🙂  We also got a new water rocket bottle launcher that worked incredibly well–much better than any home-made version we had used in the past.  So, I guess we have another crazy tradition starting!

So, it was a good summer.  The club was a lot of work, but it was worth it.  Fortunately, we ended it just in time.  You see, the puppet stages were made out of the boys’ school desks.  Those desks stayed at the church all summer.  They came home with us after the last meeting on Wednesday, and we started school on Thursday morning.  Yep, the summer is officially over for the Prairie Family!  More to come…..

 

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The kids have wanted to enter items at the county fair for several years.  I have been hesitant to let them do so because I didn’t want to deal with hurt feelings, hyper-competitiveness, etc.  Early in the summer, the girls again began to talk about entering items at the fair, so I gave my usual speeches.  You know how they go:  “I guess I really wouldn’t mind taking things to the fair as long as you understand that ribbons are simply judges’ opinions.  If you are happy with your projects, then that’s all that matters.  I don’t want you getting discouraged because you may not get the ribbon you think you deserve.  I also don’t want you to brag if your project gets a better ribbon than someone else’s.  That’s just not right, and if that happens, we won’t do it again.”  And so on….  The girls assured me that they understood all of these things, so I decided to give it a try this year.

So, the girls picked out some of their favorite crafts from the past year to enter.  Then the week before the fair, Cosette started working on a painted star craft just for fun.  The more she worked on it, the more she liked it, and she thought she might like to take it to the fair too.  Well, she painted the front, but didn’t finish it for several days.  I kept reminding her that she’d need to finish it or she wouldn’t be able to take it to the fair.  “Don’t worry, Mom.  I’ll finish it on time.  I’ll work on it later!”  It sat, and sat, and sat, until the morning that the entries were to be taken to the fair.  I told her that I guessed the star would have to stay at home.  She thought she could still finish it, though, and got busy painting it.

I told her that I didn’t think it would have time to dry.  After all, the star base is a soft cardboard.  Using watercolor paints just soaked that cardboard!  The whole thing was absolutely soggy!  She kept painting, though.  The star was so wet that when we picked it up by the hanger, the star tore!  I told her that it really was just too late to get that star into the fair, but again she assured me that it would all be ok.  She’d fix it up with hot glue and set it on an air vent to dry.  By noon that day, the star was dry enough to attach the bling, so she looked through what I had on hand, and we ran the star along with our other entries to the fair.

On the way to the fair, I again reminded Cosette not to be too disappointed about ribbons–especially on the star that was thrown together at the last minute.  I told her and Kara both that there is no way to predict how these things will be judged, and they said they understood that, and really just wanted the fun of seeing their projects at the fair.  So, we filled out the entries, left the projects, and went on our way.

The next day was the fair parade.  The girls were on the library’s float, and we were to pick them up at the fair after the parade.  When I went to the building to meet them, Kara came up to me and said that they had found their projects in the display cabinets, but that they really didn’t understand the ribbons.  “Oh, no, here it goes….”  I thought!  Kara went on to say that her lampshade and Cosette’s key chains both had blue ribbons, but that Cosette’s star was in a separate case with a purple ribbon on it.  They didn’t know what a purple ribbon was!  I couldn’t believe it until I saw it for myself:  yes, Cosette’s star that I almost did not let her enter won Grand Champion!

Needless to say, the girls were very pleased with their entries.  I did remind them that even though the star got a good ribbon, putting projects together at the very last minute is really not the best plan for making fair entries.  I told them that really these things should be planned and put together with great care, and they both agreed that they will work on things throughout the year that we can enter in next year’s fair.  Brock has also expressed interest in entering something, and, who knows?  Maybe I’ll even put something out there.  Of course, there will be the usual speeches about not getting too ribbon-focused, etc., etc.,!

Fair Collage

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Parade Collage

The girls have ridden on our library’s float in the fair parade for several years in a row.  This year’s parade theme was Blue Jeans and Country Dreams, and it was a wonderful parade.  It is usually very, very hot on the prairie by the end of July, but this year, it was cool and that brought out a lot of entries and spectators.  I don’t remember a county fair parade that has been as long as this one was.  It lasted well over an hour, and it was just a lot of fun.

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