Friday, February 13, 2009

Homeschool Mom's Night Out

What a great time we homeschool moms had last night! I am so grateful that God has led me to these encouraging and fun ladies! There were about ten of us last night. We enjoyed soft drinks and tea and coffee (thanks to our wonderful Keurig machine), as well as delicious mexican dip and tortilla chips, mini quiches, crudites, crackers and cheese, brownies, and blueberry bread. While we were eating our refreshments, I couldn't get anyone to sit down, but it was fun just mingling in the kitchen. After eating, we adjourned to the den (pictured below), where the program portion of our evening commenced.

Faith Markle got us started. She is a mom who has homeschooled several children all the way through school; her youngest is a senior this year. Faith has such a gentle spirit and is also wise and knowledgeable. Many of us homeschool moms benefit from this true Titus 2 woman. She had us put our names in a bowl to draw for which mom would share about her family. Sharon LaFreniere spoke, and I was interested to learn that she is originally Canadian and has been in the US for about 13 years. I didn't know that, but I could hear her accent in her "out"s and "about"s as she continued to talk. She and her family enjoy riding their horses. Sharon shared how her family has moved from an unschooling approach to a slightly more conventional route and what curricula she explores. It was so nice to have this sharing time because at co-op, we mothers don't always have the chance to really get to know one another, as we are all teaching a class or volunteering in a class or keeping up with our kids.

After an open sharing time where we had the chance to ask questions or share concerns or celebrations about our homeschool journey, the presentation began. Cindy Blackwell shared her knowledge of the impact gender differences make on learning styles. I was excited about this topic because I have already seen how differently Will and Emily Anne approach learning!

Cindy shared that from birth girls hear better than boys. Therefore, boys prefer teachers who are louder, whereas girls prefer softer-spoken teachers. There are also gender differences in vision. Boys are more attuned to motion, where girls are more attuned to color. I remember several times where I've tried to encourage Will to use more color in his drawings, and I probably looked right over any action that he was trying to portray!

Stress affects boys and girls differently, too. For example, if you scold or fuss at a boy, his heart rate goes up, his adrenaline is increased, and his attentiveness increases. Stress, however, causes girls to shut down. Boys also prefer cave-like atmospheres, which is why you often may find them under the table! Girls prefer warmer environments (74 degrees F is optimal), while boys are more comfortable when it is cooler (59-65 degrees F).

Joanne Ludwick, who has two daughters, made the point that there are learning style differences even among the same gender. We went on to talk about how much more kinesthetic most boys are and that they need to be moving or doing something with their hands as they learn. Faith made the great suggestion of making play-doh letters or cookie dough letters that they can shape into letters and then eat when making the alphabet. I will definitely be trying that with Will!

Julie Watkins then shared my greatest take-away of the evening. She encouraged us to look at the gifts that God has given our children and not to neglect them or to push them to the side to try to fit in all the curriculum or even to try to do what other homeschool families are doing. She stated that God blessed our children with these gifts in order to help Him achieve His purposes, and we should not squelch them in our attempts to get everything done that we think needs to be achieved. Moms also made the point that these gifts help our children to learn. For example, a child who loves to sing will often learn best by making up songs about the subject matter.

After a touching prayer time where we prayed for each other's requests, we ended the night feeling encouraged and renewed. Most of us will see each other today at the homeschool group's
Valentine's skating party.

I hope that you have a great weekend and a meaningful Valentine's Day, realizing that Christ loves us with an unsurpassing love.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight . . . .

Philippians 1:9

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Do You Like to Entertain?

I am hosting my homeschool group's Mom's Night Out tonight. It has been so long since I hosted a shindig. We've had only one other time where we've hosted people other than family, and that was at our first Thanksgiving at this house. We didn't have even all of our furniture moved over then. I think that I've been avoiding having people over because there is still so much that we want to do this house to make it our own, but are waiting because our other house hasn't yet sold (God has blessed us with a great couple who is renting, though!).

I have had so much fun getting ready for tonight, though. Here are a few snapshots of what I've done.

Here is the foyer. The camellias in the front yard were in bloom, so I picked a big bunch and have used them throughout the house. My mom always had camellias when I was growing up, and I love being able to decorate with them. Three bushes had deep rose blooms, and one bush had candy-striped flowers, which were perfect for this close to Valentine's Day! I put a small glass inside a blue-and-white china cachepot and arranged the camellias in the smaller container.

Here is the dining room. I arranged camellias in a silver teapot we received as a wedding present. I don't have china laid out on the table because at Mom's Night Out if you serve as hostess, you provide only drinks. Isn't it nice that others volunteer to bring refreshments and the hostess doesn't have to get the kitchen all dirty?

Here's the little set-up where we'll serve ourselves refreshments. I set out my Nantucket Basket dessert plates and created a vignette with Valentine's candies and my Southern Living plate. I wrote "You are loved!" on it with white board markers and wove Valentine ribbon through it.

Here is the centerpiece for the breakfast table. I just folded a piece of pink and red fabric with hearts and laid a platter on top. Then I took various sized goblets and arranged them over gumdrop hearts and scattered some heart beads left over from one of Emily Anne's craft projects.

Here is a picture of the living room. I've done a good bit in here to try to dress this room up. You can see a before picture here. I mistreated the windows a la the Nester, and the fabric has really helped to warm up the room. I also picked up that big palm in the corner for $11 at my grocery store. I put it in a big cachepot I already had, and it made a tremendous difference in cozying this space.

Here is a shot of another corner that I've filled with a tilt-top table and some forced tulips in another small planter. It's a nice touch of spring.

Whoops! There's the doorbell. I'll let you know in my next post how it goes.