Monday, December 31, 2007

Top Ten Highlights from 2007

1. My husband got a new job with a new work schedule (getting every other Friday off).
2. We’ve been volunteering/serving with ISI (International Students, Inc.) and hosting game nights for the international students from a local university.
3. My brother finally received his green card and was able to come to America after waiting for over 10 years.
4. We had a fabulous 5 day vacation at Sunriver in Bend.
5. My husband and I celebrated our 16th anniversary and our "Half-a-Billion Second" Anniversary!
6. My daughter won a Playstation 2 from, 2 $100 Barnes & Noble gift cards from, and $10 gift certificate to the Old Schoolhouse Store & publication on their next year’s Father’s Day issue from a Tribute to My Dad writing contest.
7. My middle son won a Haiku contest.
8. My youngest son won 1st prize (a sweater valued at $39.98) at a local Barnes & Noble’s guessing contest and 1st prize ($25 Target gift card) on a coloring contest.
9. I was chosen as a feature blogger of the week here at HSB.
10. We started using cell phones and DSL.

We thank the Lord for another year full of blessings and grace.  We’re excitedly looking forward to a new year of living for God and serving Him.  Have a blessed and refreshing year because of Him!  One year closer to the Lord’s coming!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Surprises

We had a white Christmas!  The snow was a very nice surprise.  I don’t know if my kids were more excited about the snow or about the presents :) .

Another surprise is not so nice.  I got Strep throat (just found out today).  However, I am so thankful that I was well enough on Monday to have a wonderful Christmas Eve with my family and others at my mother-in-law’s house.  I kept feeling weaker and totally exhausted by the end of the day (started to have high fever).  The Lord gave me enough strength to enjoy Christmas with my family at home yesterday with lots of bedrest in between.  Today, my throat hurts so bad that I can hardly talk.  Swallowing causes me excruciating pain.  I got antibiotics now so I should be getting better soon.  I am so glad that CHRISTmas is all about CHRIST.  We can rejoice at our Savior’s birth and His redemption even when unpleasant surprises may come our way.  

Because of my extremely painful sorethroat, I have been mute most of the time today.  That’s a blessing in disguise :) .  I listen more and I take time to think more before I speak (actually write down on paper).  My kids quickly learn to read Mom’s mind and Mom’s sign language :) .  They sweetly take care of me and pray for me.  My daughter is such a big help.  She has taken care of me and her brothers all day long.  It was so precious to find her reading the Bible and a devotional book to her brothers on the couch.  My husband has also been pampering me and taking care of everything for me.  I am truly blessed!  

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CHRISTmas Memory

Janne at Janne’s Jabberwocky is having a contest which is part of  the HomeschoolEstore’s 12 Blogs of Christmas Promotion.  Since I already posted about one of my favorite CHRISTmas memories, I will just repost it here :) .

 When my daughter was 8 years old, she made this card at Christmastime.
Inside she wrote, "Thank You for giving us the Bible.  I am glad You came to die for my sins.  Thank You so much.  Thank You for always answering my prayers.  Thank You for giving me loving, caring Christian parents.  Thank You for all the wonderful things You’ve given me.  Thank You for all Your love for me."  On the back of the card, she drew (in pencil) a picture of Jesus on the cross.  I just love how she poured her heart into that special card for Jesus!  Very precious to me :) .

Monday, December 17, 2007

Getting to Know You/Me (The 12 Blogs of Christmas contest entry)

1. How many children do you have / homeschool?
    I have 3 precious blessings and I am blessed to be able to homeschool all of them.
2. How long have you been homeschooling?
    I have been homeschooling for over 9 years.
3. Have they always been homeschooled, or did they ever go to public/private school?
    My younger two boys have always been homeschooled.  My oldest girl went to (half-day)kindergarten and a few months of the second grade at a public school.    
4. Do you plan on homeschooling until graduation?
    Yes, Lord willing.
5. Do you belong to a co-op?
6. Do you school all year long, or use some other schedule?
    We take every other Friday off (because that’s when my husband is off).  We also take holiday breaks and summer break (about 2 months). 
7. Do you use textbooks only, or do you like to supplement with other materials?
   We use variety of resources including tons of great, wholesome books, Christian textbooks, unit studies, games, computer softwares, and internet.
8. Are field trips included in your school plans, or are they just family time?
    My husband almost always goes on field trips with us so they are family time, too :) .  
9. Do you and your kids do crafty stuff together for school time?
    We do crafty stuff occasionally; my kids are not really into crafts.
10. Would you consider everyday household life stuff ‘home ec’?
       Yes, absolutely.  Life skills are very important.
11. Do you have any advice for new homeschoolers?
       Please click here to see the answer (my top ten tips).
12. Do you have advice for homeschoolers with little ones under foot?
       Save a special box filled with educational toys, games, and favorite toys for your little ones and bring it out only during school time.  The older kids can take turns reading or playing with little ones.  Cuddle and read to your little ones whenever you get a chance.

P.S. If you would like to enter this contest, please visit Just Some Stuff for details. 

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Christmas Post and the Christmas Love

Last night, we went to a nearby church to see "The Christmas Post," a musical comedy based on illustrations of Norman Rockwell, written by Deborah Craig-Claar and Robert Sterling.  We enjoyed it.  We had lots of laughs :) .  A friend and her boys were in the play and they did a great job.  After the play, I picked up a free handout near the door that is thought-provoking.  It is a Christmas version of the Love chapter:-
             If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.
          If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.
          If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
          If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on CHRIST, I have missed the point.
          Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
          Love sets aside the decorating to kiss your loved one.
          Love is kind, though harried and tired.
          Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
          Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
          Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
          Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
          Love never fails.

After all, the CHRISTmas story is a love story: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)  Because of God’s love for us…sinners, Jesus came… Jesus died…Jesus rose…and Jesus will return. A love story that never ends! The greatest redeeming love that the world would ever know!  Let us all share His love with everyone this CHRISTmas and throughout the years.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Let's Celebrate!

Tiany is hosting Holiday Open House 2007.  This is a fun opportunity to make friends and share ideas.  I’m so glad you stop by here.   Welcome!  Please make yourself at home and enjoy a peek into our life during Christmastime :) .  Please join us in celebrating Christ’s birth!  Relax and rejoice!
On Friday, our family went to a Christmas tree farm nearby.Our hunting-for-the perfect Christmas tree journey lasted for about 2 hours.  We finally did find a perfect tree (all 5 of us voted "yes") :) .The kids excitedly helped put our ornaments on the tree.  Ornaments we use either represent the true meaning of Christmas or are meaningful family keepsakes (eg. ones that the kids have made, ones that are custom-made for the kids mostly given by their grandma, ones that have the kids’ pictures, etc.)

We have cherished our family traditions.  Please click here and here to read a few of them.  Every year…a few days before Christmas, we make yummy goodies and then give them to our neighbors.  We also enjoy going to see an annual play, "Scrooge" at a local church.  Another tradition we started a few years ago is caroling in our neighborhood with some other homeschooling families.  After we finish singing, we hand them some candy canes and a special tiny "goodie bag."  The items in the tiny ziploc bag include an eraser, a penny, a marble, a rubber band, a string, and a chocolate Kiss or Hug.  On the front of the bag, I staple a piece of paper with the following message:
An eraser to make all your troubles disappear
A penny so you are never broke
A marble in case you’ve lost all of yours
A rubber band to stretch yourself beyond your limit 
A string to tie things together when everything is falling apart
A Kiss (or Hug) to remind you that JESUS cares
    and He can take care of all the above
All you ever need in life is JESUS CHRIST!
               ~Merry CHRISTmas~  

Every year we also bring out this Christmas in Bethlehem pop-up advent calendar (you can open each day’s flap/window and see a picture related to events/people/places surrounding Christ’s birth).In our homeschool, this month we have been studying the names of Jesus using EasyFunSchool’s The Names of Jesus Unit Study, singing and learning about Christmas hymns, their writers, and the relevant Scriptures using O Come, All Ye Faithful (Hymns of Adoration and Joy to Celebrate His Birth) by Joni Eareckson Tada, John MacArthur, Robert & Bobbie Wolgemuth, praying for people in different countries using Christmas Around the World map & info. from a Compassion International magazine.  We are also using Eleanor Zweigle’s Advent Study from Miiko Gibson’s website and The ABC’s of Advent by Lorna Anema & Natalie Thomas.  We will be starting the Jesse tree this week using Roots and Relations by Christian Cottage Schools.

Some of the books that we like to read during Christmastime are as follows:
- Christ in Christmas (A Family Advent Celebration) by James C. Dobson, Charles R. Swindoll, James Montgomery Boice, R.C. Sproul
- The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier, illustrated by Francisco Ordaz
- One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham, illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson
- A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz
- The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado (and his daughters), illustrated by Liz Bonham
- Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus! by Greg Holder and Diane Stortz, illustrated by Terri Steiger
- Christmas in My Heart (compiled & edited by Joe Wheeler)
- Rock-A-Bye Christmas by Marjorie Ainsborough Decker
- The Christmas Pea Coat by Richard H. Schneider, illustrated by Higgins Bond
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss.
We strive to keep Christ as the Center of our home and our lives everyday, not just at Christmastime.  We are forever grateful for Jesus!  As you recapture the wonder of our Redeemer’s birth, may you be reminded of His amazing grace and be refreshed by His awesome love.  Rejoice…rejoice…Immanuel…God with us!  Have a Christ-centered Christmas, everyone! 

P.S. If you have any doubts/questions about Christmas tree, gift-giving, Santa, Dec. 25th issues, please click on my post titled, "Is Christmas Christian?"  By the way, some years we don’t do a Christmas tree.  It’s not deemed necessary for celebrating Christ’s birth.  We don’t do Santa, either (our kids know about St. Nicholas but we celebrate Christ’s birth, not St. Nicholas’ birth).  Regarding gifts, we emphasize the giving part, not the getting part :) .  Dec. 25th is just as good as any other day to celebrate our Lord and Savior’s birth :) .  Everyday is a gift from God; each day is the day that the Lord has made.  The point is this: are we making room in our heart for Jesus or is our heart too crowded by shopping frenzy, things to do, goodies to bake, gifts to make/wrap, etc.?  Stay "Mary" (& merry); don’t turn into "Martha" during this most wonderful time of the year :) !