Thursday, December 31, 2009

Decade in review :)

It seems incredible that we've not just passed the millenium (gasp, with all our computers still functioning), but are now embarking on the tens.  Am I the only one looking forward to the roaring 20s?

In the past ten years I have:
Had the honor to care for Big Drew's grampa up until his death.
Honored that same Grampa by making little Drew his namesake (middle name).
Faced the loss of every thing we had accumulated due to a hurricane.
Managed to get it all back and then some.
Shaved my head and regretted it.
Wept while my sweet little girl pranced merrily off to school.
Wept while my sweet little boy dragged himself off to school.
Been blessed with my third little surprise and honored another grandfather through another middle name.
Supported my mother through breast cancer and terrible medical care.
Took the plunge and removed Andrew from school.
Learned to love homeschooling.
Taught my youngest phonics and found out that I can teach reading :)
Made so many incredible friends.
Learned how to write a short note, as well as how rewarding it can be.
Joined a new church.
Found out my mil was engaged (WOOHOO).

That's all I've got off the top of my head, what a decade.

How old do I feel?  I'm talking about a decade as if it was summer break.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Our Christmas!

Drew bought me a new connection chord for our camera for Christmas, whoopee!  So, I finally get to post pictures, instead of scans which just did not do anything justice.  I'll post Andrew's Christmas Cantata once I get it edited down to just him.  I know everyone would love to watch 30 minutes of K through 5th graders singing and telling the Christmas story, but I don't have permission from all those parents, so it'll just my my son (of whom I am very proud).

Christmas Eve went really well.  We were at my sister's this year, instead of Mom's and that caused some problems.  I had to leave at 5pm to get to the candle light ceremony at church, so Drew stayed later with the kids.  It's almost an hour drive, so I couldn't run home and change.  I learned a valuable lesson.  Polish food leaves a smell, much like b.o. on one's clothing.  I got to scrunch on stage with others who were desparately trying to breath through their mouths while I whispered, "it's a food smell, really, it's not b.o."  The reading went well, even if I was mortified.

The kids had a wonderful time at Heather's, baking cookies, making ornaments, tracking Santa and all that good stuff.  The next morning was pandemonium, but a nice pandemonium.  Jocelyn was cool about all her presents, I believe the best I got was, "oh, neat."  Andrew tore through like a tornado and to this day some of his presents are still in their boxes.  He did not get everything on his list and has attributed it to being mean to his brother.  I'm not saying anything.  Luke is at that beautiful point in life where every present is seen as...  well...  a gift.  He recieves each one with surprise (for me?!?), opens them with excitement and squeels with joy, no matter the gift.  I think I need to remember how nice it is, how heartwarming, to see someone react with so much surprise and happiness.  That's something I think I should emulate.

I wrote out notes to go with our Christmas cards this year (see my reading blog to understand why).  The response has been really touching.  It's amazing how, telling someone what you really think of them (positive things, of course) can so deeply move them.  I have the most incredible neighbors, I tell everyone about them...  except them, of course.  For some reason, I've let the past 11 years go without a formal thank you, or even letting them know what everyone but them has been told, how important they are to us.  I've gotten so many tearful visits and on one hand it makes me feel guilty, because I should've told them this all along, but on the other I'm so glad to see that one simple little note can convey all I hoped it would.

I've read a ton, if you're looking for a book hop on over there and take a gander.  Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope your New Year bangs in bright!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Fun!

We're having a craft day to make up for the absolute lack of art the rest of this term.

We made some ornaments from cheap plastic beads.  I read about them here.  Since I don't have the chord to connect my camera to the computer, I tried to scan them in, lol.

We also attempted a six sided snowflake ala Donna Young.  We're going to try a few in tin foil, and I'll scan those in as soon as we're done.

Andrew is working on a craft stick manger.  That can't be scanned in, but you can rest assured it will be well done!

Here's a link to some real snowflakes (they won't let you use the pictures though).


I've added some new blogs to our role.  Instead of listing all the books the kids are reading here, they will be reviewing the books on their own blogs!  If you're interested in books for three-year-olds, so far all read-alouds, then go to Luke's Reading Blog, there is also a link just below the picture/title of this blog.  For the eight-year-olds, we offer Andrew's Reading Blog and, for the grown-ups, we have my reading blog.

Enjoy!  I hope you find these useful.  I know they're helping me get narrations out of Andrew.  He doesn't have a post up yet as he is putting a lot of thought into it, but it should be a doozy once he's ready.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Possibly over a foot of snow, and one wonderful neighbor...

We've gotten a TON of snow.  My little dog disappears in its depths, we've had to dig the kids out twice.  Hiding in the house, we hear the engine of something big, I wondered who could be doing construction...  it was my neighbor, on his tractor, clearing our driveway.

What a good day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Augh! It's Friday already and we have to do what?!? It's going to what?!? Through Sunday?!?

Am I the only one that wakes up Friday morning, especially those Fridays that occur before holidays* and think, "OH, NO!"  Fridays used to be TGIF, but here lately they are the impending dead line and a reminder of all I forgot to do that week.  Not to mention that it seems we always have at least two other things to do on Friday, because everyone chooses Friday as the "convenient" day to do things.  In this house, we will refer to Friday as, ONIF (rather than TGIF).  Meaning, Oh No It's Friday.

This week we did manage to accomplish everything I laid out for Andrew.  He read all of his library books by Wednesday and starting digging into some of the books we have around the house.  Big Drew wonders that we ever go to the library, citing the shelves, mountains, and boxes of perfectly good books we have at home.  He simply does not understand the desire for 'fresh' reading material.

We have library time today, which means Luke has craft time and Andrew has "shopping" time (his word for wandering choosing books).  This evening we are going caroling with Cub Scouts and then waiting to see if this monsterous weather pans out.  If anyone is interested, we're expecting anywhere from a few inches to a foot of snow.  Sigh.  I finally have money to buy Christmas presents and it looks like we could be snowed in.  If you think I'm joking, ask any Virginian what happens once the first flake is in view.  It's a zoo out there (buy some t.p. and milk, quick!).

Jocelyn turned 13 this week, she was given the week off from French.

Quick Synopsis of Andrew's Week:
Greek:  Complete Lesson 14 (B)
Latin:  Complete Lesson 12, quiz on Monday! (Grade hinges on quiz)
Reading:  "First Biographies, Benjamin Franklin;"  "The Gift of the Magi;"  As well as all of his and his brother's library books. (A)
Writing:  "The First Fur Tree" and narration; Dictation from "The Gift of the Magi;"  "The Legend of Saint Nicholas" and narration; Dictation from "Miss Manners' Basic Training, Conversation" (A)
Grammar:  Completed through Lesson 42 and OU 4 (A)
Spelling:  Completed Lesson 30 (98%)
Math:  Everything was covered and Andrew is doing some extra work in the measurement books (B)
Science:  We have covered TWO CHAPTERS!  I'm hoping to find time for an experiment this afternoon. (A)
History:  Two chapters left.  I had been planning on doing them both today if we can.(A)

Luke's Week in Review!
Devotions:  We read the story of "The Tower of Babel" and discussed different languages.  For Luke, anything that is not "X" is "Chinese."  He apparently detests English, and believes that we all speak "X."  I tried to figure out how this confusion came about, but it will remain one of the mysteries of toddlerhood.
Math:  We did count some things and read a lovely book with lots of numbers and counting.  At one point, Luke identified the numbers on the car radio and he is getting much better at correctly identifying 1.2.3 as 'one, two, three.'  There was, however, no truly formal work in math this week.  Miquon sat ignored.
Reading:  Two out of three lessons were covered, but something even more exciting happened!  I did as  planned and made the letter and word cards, as well cutting out corresponding pictures.  One letter at a time Luke would glue down the letters, creating the word, sounding it all out and finally (bump ba ba baaaa) match them with a picture.  I made it impossible for me to ruin this, by doing all the work for him, because of all the steps, no matter how much I may have wanted to help, short of taking the letters back and doing it myself I could NOT have taken this over.  If you don't understand what I meant with all that, then you're wonderful, you must never accidentally (and with good intentions) find yourself doing your children's work, as I sometimes catch myself doing.  Luke read.  He read and he comprehended well enough to match the words with pictures.  I am beside myself with delight.  Take that! anyone whom ever said a parents cannot teach reading.
Days of the Week:  We've continued identifying the day and then chanting the days of the week from that day, around to it again (today is Friday, tomorrow is Saturday and then Sunday, Monday, etc), followed up with the standard (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, in regular order).  Sometimes we start with Sunday as the first day of the week, but I'm really unsure as to what order is "correct."  Silly, isn't it?

*I've decided I like "holidays" better than "vacations," as we rarely vacate and holidays just sounds so much warmer and exciting.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What we've accomplished, what had better be accomplished by schools end tomorrow!

I lost the chord that hooks my camera up to the computer :(  Until I find it I can't post any of the videos or pictures that I've taken....

Jocelyn...  nothing on the French front.  It's her birthday week (she's 13 augh!) and she requested a vacation.  Which really means three weeks off, because (against my better judgement) we're taking the next two weeks off.

Andrew has nearly finished Story of the World Vol. 2.  I'm not too worried if we fall a chapter or two short, we can read those over vacation with very little argument.  He has done two weeks worth of science.  Everything else is either on schedule or way ahead.  He finished all of his library books by Wednesday, so for reading for right now, he's in the encyclopedia.  Today, he's reading the entry on Christmas.  Tomorrow, I'll think we'll look up the nativity.  He's enjoyed his writing work from my little Christmas book so much that he's read half the book.  That's great, except it's really narrowing down what I have to use for writing.  We found Latina Christian I Pronunciation CD.  I did not even know we had that!  Neither of us were really impressed with it though, and while I may add some listening time to Tuesdays, I can't imagine using it overly much.

Luke's work is really so...  uneven.  We had done two of the three chapters we aimed for this week, but he still will not read out of OPGtTR.  So, today I wrote and cut out letters for cat, rat, hat, sat, fat, and bat from index cards, using the lined side to regulate letter size.  Then I cut out 'word papers' from construction paper, rectangles just big enough to fit three letters on with a little extra room to frame them.  I searched high and low, but could not find pictures for bat, cat, or rat in any of my magazines.  Unbelievable, I know.  I drew pictures for those three, but cut out pictures for the rest.  Then, I handed Luke one letter at a time and he would identify the letters and say what they stand for.  Next, he would glue them onto a word paper and sound out the word he had created.  After that he would match it to a picture and then glue both onto yet another sheet of paper.  After we'd finished the words I had him read them a second time and he earned a star for each word he read correctly.  Of course, every word got a star, because we would just go back and try again on the ones he had a problem with.  For some reason, he wants to say "fast" instead of "fat"?  I was so proud of him.  I really thought my little project was too hard and something I would end up doing for/with him.  Instead, he did most of the work himself and, except for some assistance with "r" and "s," he did all the sounding out himself too!  With all that, he's done absolutely no math this week.  I'm planning on working on that tomorrow.  We DID cover the tower of Babel, but haven't done anything extra for it.  Luke's spent most of this week playing here and here, and yesterday he took on this project (with a lot of Mom assistance) and created a beautiful snowflake!

Searching for things for Luke to do online I found these sites.  He enjoyed them for a few minutes and I hope you and yours will too!

Mostly Mommy



Fischer Price


Things we MUST do by tomorrow.  Jo, sigh...  just stop growing for a few minutes.  Drew, keep on as he's going.  Luke, math and some more review of the days of the week.

Me, uh every thing else.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


We went over chapter 9, in science in today!  Actually, we read it yesterday, but we did the day two experiment today and (for once) it was a solid success.  We now have raisins dancing away in a bowl on the kitchen counter.  Andrew did a hilarious video of the experiment, but now I can't find the chords to hook the camera up to the computer, so I can't post it.

All the same, yeah us!

I think we're going to do chapter 10 tomorrow, just to try and catch up a little.  After all, we're about seven chapters behind!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Trying to Out Run Christmas Vacation!

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Plans for this the 16th week!

Jocelyn - Back onto the French wagon. We should finish up Lesson 3 this week! Also, she'll be doing lesson 1 in her new to Christ workbook from Church.

Andrew - For devotions, Andrew will continue working in his new to Christ workbook. We'll also be working on memorizing the books of the Bible. I would like to finish the Old Testament this week.
In Latin we'll be working on Lesson 12. The weeks off are going to make it too long between the lesson and the quiz, so I believe we'll take the quizes on Monday and let the vacation start on Tuesday. He took his quiz for Lesson 11 this morning and earned a 91% once I added in a few points for corrections. He loses points for anything less than perfect, so I let him earn a few back by writing the words three times each.
In Greek we're moving through lesson 13 and should be done by Friday. He'll transcribe John 1.5 this week as well.
For reading, Andrew will be reading and narrating First Biographies, Benjamin Franklin today and tomorrow. He'll have his choice of some Christmas stories I've chosen, for the rest of the week. He'll also be reading Falling Up, by Shel Silverstein.
Writing is coming out of A Read-Aloud Family Christmas. It's full of classics and I have not gotten around to reading it to the kids, so I suppose I'll put it to work.
For grammar we'll be doing lessons 41, 42 and Oral Usage lesson 4. Andrew will learn about you understood. More sentence diagramming will happen and we'll tie it all together with that final grammar lesson on the difference between lay and lie, sit and set.
Spelling is finishing at a great spot, except that I'll have to give his test on Monday, while we're on vacation. We are on lesson 30, the review of lessons 25 through 29. The only two words that have proven difficult are throat and group.
Math is going to be busy. Today, Andrew did pages one through three in his new workbook on measurements. This covered simply how to measure. He really enjoyed it, but it is a little behind where he's at. Tomorrow we'll work on 1.2 in his Geometry book. Unfortuneatly, the book is out of print and not available on Amazon, so I can't provide a link. We'll be learning about collinear points and the definition of a triangle. Wednesday, Andrew will complete Skill 7 on improper and mixed fractions. He's going to be converting mixed numbers into improper fractions. Thursday we'll be in Geometry again and discuss the reversibility test and how much information is needed for a good definition. Friday we'll do some more in Challenge Math. I cannot say enough about how much we love this book! We are going to finish up Astronomy. Andrew has four more problems to go in Level 1. If time permits we might try one or two questions from Level 2, but I really have to stop spending all day on math, it's getting rediculous.
In history, we'll be finishing up Story of the World Vol. 2. It's exciting to finally be hitting on American history. The only concern I have is that Andrew seems to have a much longer view of history than I do. It's not necessarily a bad thing, except that he sees the treatment of the South and Middle Americans as just one more people getting conquered and either absorbed or wiped out. It's almost like he's already jaded. I worry that others will find him cold because of this.
Science, we are, we must, we WILL do science this week. For pity's sake, we're on Week 9... 9... augh! Thank goodness we school year round. Hopefully we'll finish Chemistry before we move on to Physics.

Luke - For Bible study, Luke will be learning about the tower of Babel this week. I know that seems strange, given the season, but the Bible he uses equates everything to Jesus and this way we'll keep to normal order. Luke has been a little obsessed over languages lately and this story is very timely for him. I think we'll watch a few of his favorite cartoons in different languages and discuss how we speak English and how all of our languages are the result of Babel.
For reading we're going to continue reviewing his poems and work on lessons 28, 29, and 30. Someone else mentioned using stickers on the Bob Books as a reward for reading them. I am going to start that this week as well. It's amazing how much kids love stickers!
In math we'll continue to play on A-1 through A-3a, as well as everything we've been doing. Until he can make a definite clear connection between 1, one, and * (meaning one object), I don't even want to move on. For now, he's happy tracing the flash cards with his finger and making the numbers with his cuisinaire rods and I see no reason to rush him!

We just recieved Andrew's new workbooks on measurement. That will make four things we're juggling in math. At first Big Drew was not pleased with us using different sources every day for math. He thought it would just make math confusing. However, using three sources for the past few weeks has kept Andrew attention and frustration levels have been at an all time low. Andrew now looks forward to math, let's just hope it doesn't go the way of MEP. A great program, but somehow too redundant for Andrew.

Luke has Nursery Rhyme Literature pockets. I'm hoping to have the first one ready tomorrow for use this week, but haven't added it to my plans since it only came a few hours ago. These look wonderful and they have all the creative little crafts that I just can't seem to come up with.

We're off to outrun the week's end deadline! Wish us God speed!

Friday, December 11, 2009

An attempt to make an Update.....

I forgot all about the Hive updates! Here's a quick post on what we've done this week.

Yesterday, we took the afternoon and had a picnic at George Washington's Birthplace (link is to a virtual tour). At some point in January I was to get up to Ferry Farm and finally, by the spring, Mount Vernon. I think US History is going to be an ongoing theme for us, rather than a specific class. We live in such a history rich area it's a shame to ignore it. When we were on our way out I picked up a copy of "Common Sense." That resulted in an evening of read-alouds and discussion. How wonderful it is to have children I can discuss these things with!


Bible: SHE JOINED OUR CHURCH! It was completely unexpected. I was also hastily dubbed God-mother to her best friend, whose parents don't care if she "finds God," but don't want to have a part of it either. I'm so blessed! Since we're all new to this church and the newbies class just started last Sunday we (Andrew, Jocelyn, Jo's friend, and myself) are all in the same Bible study. I'll have much more next week.

French: Well, we're lingering on lesson 3. I'm not sure why it seems that French is so much harder than Latin or Greek, but we're both having a tough time. Petit a petit, non?


Bible: We've memorized up to "The Song of Solomen" and continue to review the 10 Commandments. Andrew has finished up the first section of his church devotional, what is salvation?

Reading: We read "A Christmas Carol" together. Andrew finished a biography on Abigail Adams and a light reading on Colonial Medicine. Neither have anything to do with what we're studying in history, but he's so interested in this stuff that we've run with it. There were a ton of other books read, but terrible mother that I am, I didn't keep track. This must change! And so it shall! Hopefully!

Spelling: He's finishing up Lesson 29. His quiz, on Monday, for Lesson 28 earned him a 96% (throat and group...... the scourge of mankind!)

Writing: We've been using Colonial Medicine for our writing. Monday he read a bit on the death of George Washington and narrated aloud. I wrote it down and he copied. Wednesday (oops!) I dictated three complex sentences with all sorts of punctuation and some really interesting words and he managed to get nearly every bit absolutely correct! Thursday, he read a passage comparing the life expectancies and health of the colonies and Europe. He narrated and I dictated back, thus excusing myself from having to dictate again today. I really needed today off.

Grammar: We reviewed sentences this week and have continued to diagram sentences with predicate nominatives and adjectives. Drew's not super excited about grammar, but he's picking it up and he doesn't not like it, thank goodness!

Math: Monday, we worked out some great problems finding the circumference of the earth, the circumference of different orbits and distances using sound as a guide. I absolutely LOVE Challenge Math. Tuesday he worked on mixed numbers. This is not easy work at all, but I'm proud to see the progress he's made. The book he's using is another fantastic tool. Wednesday, we learned about defined and undefined terms in geometry. Andrew learned to identify lines, rays, points, and angles as well as notation for each.

Science: Uh... well... we've been thinking about making Chemical Pie, if I only knew what kind of crackers to use! Otherwise, Lady Slacker, as I'm known in many circles, has missed science

History: We are zooming right along! Today we're watching this. And we're planning to read about the reformation and counterreformation this afternoon... of course, it's already afternoon, so maybe "evening" would be a better description.

Greek: Andrew's learned the verb endings for 'him/her' and is now making more interesting sentences. He translated John 1.4 this week.

Latin: Lesson 11, Latina Christiana I, all's well! Ever since my darling husband rendered my car sterio useless we've started singing "Adeste Fideles" everywhere we go. Thus, we're experts at "Adeste Fideles."


Bible: We've read up to the story of Noah and the Flood in his Children's Bible. He sings 'glooooooooooooooooria in excelsis deo' for most of the day now, not by design, but it's sweet.

Reading: Well, he's read a Bob book or two, but as soon as I open his reading book he steadfastly refuses to look inside. So, we're stuck at two letter 'a' words, while he's also reading 'Sam' and 'Mac' in the Bob books. I'm not dropping reading, but I don't think I can get him to use the book anymore. So, I'll read the big book and I think I'll just have him read everything else.

Math: He continues to count, much better since I took the recommendation of the Hive to use stickers as counting tools. He's getting better at matching printed numbers with the correct amounts. We did some Miquon with the cuisinaire rods this week and he's getting much better at identifying rods with numbers and amounts. We've done some parts to whole this week as well.

Have we accomplished anything?

Yes, we've been moving forward, but it seems like a ton of work lately!

Math has been totally restructered. Instead of one book, or set of workbooks, we're feasting upon three. Challenge Math, Fabulous Fraction Stories, and Geometry the Easy Way (this links to a newer version) are our three books. The Challenge Math is really incredible. Who knew a 3rd grader could understand pi? Fabulous Fractions is taking the sting out of fractions. Andrew was getting very frustrated and this is in story format, making it more interesting to him. Geometry the Easy Way is actually for adults, but it does explain things clearly and I'm sure that he'll handle his CAT5s well once we've waded through the first section. It's amazing, but all these things work together well to make math less of a chore and more of something we spend a good deal of happy time on.

Latin is going well. He continues to enjoy Latina Christiana I. We don't have any of the frills, just the workbooks, but we're progressing nicely.

Greek is a little different. Andrew has finished through John 1.4, and is moving on nicely in Hey Andrew! 3, but I'm completely lost. At least I can still sound out the words and I have the teacher's manual, so I still "know" all the answers. Thank God for that!

There really isn't much to say on the English front. First Language Lessons is so easy on me, except for writing out his workbook, and Andrew doesn't seem to feel much of anything about it. Writing with Ease does give me more room for stretching. This week we're using Colonial American Medicine as our resource. He has learned quite a bit from that! For reading, we read "A Christmas Carol" together, and I think we'll move on to "The Cricket by the Hearth." Andrew has finished the biography of Abigail Adams, as well as a few other random books. I rely so much on the generic list from "The Well-Trained Mind" for our library trips, I cannot imagine going to the library without it! I forgot about Spelling, but then there's not much to say. We do a lesson a week, his grades have been great, except for two words, "throat" and "group." It's amazing, every week he spells them differently, every week he says them, spells them out loud and writes them, repeatedly. Next week will be our Review and I'll be glad to be done with them!

Science is at such a sad stand still. I just haven't had the time, ink, or paper to get the lessons done. This puts us two chapters behind, which is just what we needed.

History, however, is looking like triumph! We will complete the "Middle Ages" by Christmas, which means we will be caught up to the history cycle!!! I'm so excited. January, we'll start the "Early Modern Times." I never did get the activity book for the Middle Ages, I'll have to order for later, but I'm hoping to scrape together enough to get the whole kit-and-kaboodle for this next era. I loved having everything for the Ancients and there's been a big hole where the activity book should have been.

Andrew is working through his 'New Life in Christ' booklet from church for devotions. We worked through all 10 Commandments in the fall and now we're memorizing the books of the Bible. It's really incredible how much he's learning, and myself too!

Now for Luke! We've started two-letter words. He can read them... if I can get him to look. Up until we really dug into reading, Luke was happy to do the work. All of a sudden he's looking everywhere, except the book. I'm not worried, he's three and there's plenty of time, but it can get frustrating.

Math is getting easier. We're using Miquon Orange, Cuisenaire Rods, along with various other blocks and flash cards. He's getting much better at identifying numerals, connecting them with a specific number of objects and matching one-to-one.

The hive posted a link to a list of suggestions for what should be accomplished in each grade. Luke has covered nearly every Pre-K requirement, but the ones he hasn't covered are going to be difficult. I think I'm going to make three lap books, not an easy task by far!

One will cover personal information, a lap book of Luke. He needs to be able to identify his name, write his name, know his birthday and address. He's supposed to know his phone number too, but we are without phones, so I guess we get a pass.

The second book will be for things like, empty-full, top-middle-bottom, more-less-the same. That book is getting exciting. I want to use velcro, for m-l-s, magnets for t-m-b, and something like a pouch and beans for e-f. I think he'll love that one!

Finally, I'm going to make one for zips, snaps, buttons, ties, lacing and velcro. For the life of me I cannot find those dolls we had as kids where you had to dress the doll. Zip his jacket, tie his shoes, that sort of thing. The only thing I can find is a purple kangaroo. So, I'm going to try my hand at a lap book with all this stuff incorporated. I included lacing, because it's something he enjoys and must have some impact on fine motor-skills.

I think that's about everything. Links to all the stuff I could find links for and whatever we've got going on in class! I'm going to try to be a better blogger. Now that I've got the generic info down, I'll try to come back and put in some more meat.

Here's to God's blessings, even (or perhaps especially) those that don't seem like blessings on the outset!