Monday, January 30, 2012

Rallying the Troops

So, tonight I took the kids to a political rally.  It definitely isn't their first but may have left more of a lasting impression than any other.

The rally was for Peter's previous boss Speaker Kirk Adams who is running for US Congress.  So, this was a candidate that our kids had met on several occasions and recognized. 
They went to rallies for Len Munsil (also a former boss of Peter's) when he was running for Arizona Governor but that was several years ago.

Here is a picture of Kirk Adams and his lovely wife JaNae.

  Vice President Dan Quayle and Congressman Ben Quayle were also there.  

The kids were fascinated by the fact that they were looking at a former vice-president from when Peter and I were kids and that Congressman Ben Quayle was a child when his dad was vice-president.  

But, at this rally, I think they were just as amazed by the fun family atmosphere.  It was like a carnival.

Wesley had this nice lady make him a doggie with a leash.

This is another way to get your kids involved in the current elections.  Find a local rally for a candidate that you support and take the whole family.

If you missed the previous posts on getting kids involved in the election process you can click on the "learning through the elections" link in the labels to the right of this post.

Now to follow up with the kids about what makes a good candidate and how to choose who will get your vote.
I will also have my older three kids write a report on the event...civics, the writing process, and handwriting all in one:)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In LOVE with reading

February is "In LOVE with Reading" month in our home...and school.

Quite a few years ago, a homeschool mom shared with me how she would combine reading with their Valentine's Day celebration. I love to celebrate and I love to read so...what could be better than celebrating reading?  I took her idea, re-arranged it, added a few things, and made it our own tradition.

Here is how we celebrate reading in February.

Prep:  I paint a tree trunk on a poster board and cut out lots of little hearts.

I am obviously no artist, but my kids don't know that...yet...haha!

The Plan: For every book that a child reads, they get to write the name of that book on a heart and tape it to the tree.  We set a goal of reading for the month and then choose a reward.  I like to make it a combined reading goal to cultivate unity:) This year I am making the hearts go along with our color coding (blue, green, pink, yellow, orange, and red).  This way, the kids can easily find the books that they have added to our "tree".  I also let the older kids read a book to the little ones and put up a heart for them.  The idea is to read as much as possible for the whole month.  I'm not so concerned with the reading level...just want them to fall in love with reading!

Here is a picture of our reading tree in progress.  We have a goal of 200 books for the month of February.  This has truly inspired them to read...even my one who struggles.
This is the tree after the first week of the month.

Here it is after the second week of the month.

On Valentine's Day:  I read to them a short history lesson on St. Valentine and we discuss his life.  Then we have a day off of "regular" school and they get to read all morning.  They choose what book and where they want to read.  It's fun to see all the places that they come up with.  

Here are a few of their favorite reading spots that I found as I looked back through some of my pictures.

On the trampoline out back...

Under Peter's desk...

On the couch...

In bed...just before falling asleep...
In the hallway...
On the couch with Daddy...
On the couch with the baby...

In the wagon...
 And so many other places.

Later that day, I take the kids to Bookmans or Half-Priced-Books and they each get to pick out a new book.  Some years we will cook a special dinner together and decorate...some years we will go to a favorite restaurant.  During our family time just before bed, we will read 1 Corinthians 13 and discuss what love truly means.

Even after February 14th, we continue to read, read, read...until the end of the month.  The kids always reach their goal.  Maybe that says more about the prize at the end than it does their love of reading...haha.  But the goals are to cultivate a love for reading, give them a feeling of success, and foster family unity not to crack the whip and make them read. 

This year the kids choose a day trip to visit some friends that we rarely get to see.  (I sure hope they make it this year!) 

What things do you do to cultivate a love for reading in your home? 

Where are your kid's favorite reading spots?

A Child's Perspective

I decided to invite a special guest to post on my blog today.  I may have a guest posting from time to time but I am especially proud of this one.  
Nathan recently spent a day with Peter at the Arizona State Capitol learning what his dad really does all day.  Here is his report:

My Day at the Arizona
State Capitol

First, Dad and I drove to the capitol.  We listened to music while we were driving.  
When I got there, I met the security guard.  Next, we had a meeting with Mr. Court.  We saw things that his dad carved like an elephant cane.  After that, we had some coffee and I did some school work.  

Then, we had a meeting with the Speaker at 11:00. 

 Then, I had a good lunch with Dad at a Vietnamese restaurant.  
 After lunch, Dad made some calls and I did more school work.  
Then, we watched the caucus on a little TV in his office.  Then, I met Mr. Victor, Dad's boss.  After this, I added some papers to my book that the Speaker gave me.  The last thing we did was another meeting.  I had fun.

Who knew that being Counsel for the Majority could be so easy..haha.  I really love the child's viewpoint.  He was way more interested in the carved items in an office than the conversation that took place.

Writing an article is a great follow-up to any field-trip.  They really love to pretend to be reporters, jot down notes and take pictures, and then write a news story about their day...or what really goes on in the capitol...haha.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Tale of Three Branches

Our field-trip to all three branches of government in Arizona. 
We started off the field-trip by going to the governor's office.  The governor wasn't there but the kids were able to go into her conference room and see where she has meetings, addresses the media, and signs many bills into law.  Here are a few pictures of the kids enjoying this first branch of our state government.  

I later asked the kids if they knew what office would represent the governor's office on the federal level and Nathan immediately responded with the president's office.  Pretty great for a ten year old!

Brennan is pretty sure that he could deliver the Governor's speeches for her.

Yes, Seth is picking his nose.  But, with six kids, you have to take the picture where most of the kids look good.  Haha!

The Governor's conference table.  
(Some of these pictures are blurry as I was trying to go without the flash to get a brighter shot of the whole room.)

Seth just had NO respect...haha.

Next, we walked over to the Arizona Supreme Court building to get a look at the second branch of government...judicial.  
Here we are with my parents in one of the courtrooms.

We were also able to have our picture taken with Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch.

Next, we walked over to the House of Representatives to learn about the third branch of government...legislative.  We went onto the floor of the House...where laws are made...well bills are passed anyway.

If you are wanting to get your kids more involved in this very political climate, I would suggest a trip to your state capitol.  Even before teaching about the elections, take them down and let them see what these "elected officials" actually do.  And, it's nice for them to realize that the government officials are people...just like them.  Maybe you have a future legislator, judge, or governor right in your very own home!

More to come on ways to involve your kids in the election process and use it as a learning experience.

Most state capitols will do tours, just call and set it up. 
Also, most states have a gallery in their house and senate where you can sit and watch the voting and discussion.  Online viewing is available in many states as well.

It's always fun for me to listen to my kids playing "government" at home.  "Mr. Speaker, I would like to explain my vote." or "I'd like to call this meeting to order."  In a waiting room the other day, I heard them all swearing off being a lawyer and wanting to be a judge instead.  HA!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Family involvement in politics

It is about this time every four years that everyone has an opinion about who would be the best next president for our nation.  It is even more pronounced in recent election cycles with all of the social media out there.  I definitely have my opinion too...but I won't share it in this blog.  I encourage each of you to seek the Lord for which candidate He would have you support....and then get involved!

Get involved in local and state politics.  We so badly need individuals of high morals and integrity to help lead our states and nation.  

Being this time in the election cycle, I thought I would share a few pictures of how we have been involved over the years.  Of course, this has, for many years now, been a part of Peter's job.  But, we chose that because we wanted to be involved.  

We began our life together in Virginia and while there, took the time to soak up all the history and politics that we could.  We were able to be at George W Bush's first inauguration.  We had no children back then and we stood in the freezing cold misty weather to be there live.  Here are a few pictures that I snapped that many years ago.

Love this Texas flag being waved.

Even after having kids, we have stayed involved in politics and campaigns.

Here is a picture of Nathan and Brennan on election day many years ago.

And, here is a picture of our older three kids at one of the many marriage amendment rallies that were a part of our lives for a time.

I don't think that Abby has any memory of this rally:)

Here are a few pictures from the campaign trail a few years later.  I wanted our children to be as involved as possible from the start.  They may not remember much from those early years but it has been a huge part of shaping who they are becoming.

We did quite a bit of traveling that year speaking all over the state of did many others helping with the campaign.  It was a busy season...especially with four little ones and a fifth on the way.  But, I wouldn't trade the life learning. 

Here are a few other political pictures of our family from more recent years.

Truly, my kids know more about how our government runs than I did at their age...maybe than I did in college:)

Watch for a post coming soon about ways to involve your kids in the election process and use it as a learning experience.