Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My Deliverer

But I am poor and needy,
yet the Lord thinketh upon me;
Thou art my help and my deliverer;
make no tarrying, O my God.
Psalm 40:17

PearlKeeper created this picture, inscribed it with the accompanying Bible verse, and gave it to her dance instructors in memory of their last production History: My Deliverer for a Christmas gift. This is an illustration of the dance they did to Rich Mullins' My Deliverer.

Here are quite a few professional photos that were taken of the show.

We are so blessed that God has used this production to touch lives. They are getting many requests to come perform, some even from across the country. We are also blessed to have studio owners/professional dance instructors who have a vision for using dance to reach people for God. I would have never thought my daughters would be dancers but this studio's vision and commitment to modesty has opened the door for the children to minister in this way.

In the past, I would be too humble to invite strangers to come to a dance recital but this last production was different. The message was so powerful and the kids were incredible!! They made the stories come alive, not only with their professionalism, but their heart to worship. During the last show, the people could barely contain themselves. It was as if they were trying their best to stay in their seats. Several times many would stand and lift their hands in worship.

Pertinent scripture verses were read between numbers with great background music from the soundtrack of The Passion. There were so many beautiful and touching numbers beginning with My Deliverer when we see the Israelites in bondage waiting for their Deliverer. Jesus' birth, his childhood, the miracles in You Raise Me Up, especially when he raises the girl from the dead (I can't tell you how many times that one made me cry, even in practice!). The garden of Gethsemene when the powers of darkness battle Jesus' spirit and the crucifixion to Third Day's Thief!!! The climax is Arise My Love (we call it the stick dance) when Jesus comes out after he's risen from the tomb. The professional lighting, the live singers, the fog was incredible! But it didn't end there -- there was the Day of Pentecost to Third Day's Consuming Fire and ending with The Days of Elijah as the grand finale with the whole cast.

I wish all of you could see it!!

Please pray for the studio as it pursues fund raising. The shows are very expensive to do with the lighting and crew needed. The family running the studio does not make a profit. They try to keep the dance lessons affordable because most of their clients are students in homeschooling families, who are living off of the income of one parent. Many of the families have more than one child taking lessons. They are not doing this to make money, but to follow God in their vision for taking back the arts.

BLOCHhead's First Felt Dolls

First Annual Lazy Day

If you had walked up to our front door or screenroom door yesterday you would have found this notice:

Enter at Your Own Risk:
December 27, 2005
Is hereby declared
We can not be responsible
for the condition of said house or the
inhabitants thereof.
Inhabitants may be found playing games, drinking hot
chocolate or just sitting around talking and laughing.
No work is allowed, including washing dishes or picking up
anything until after 4pm.
First there were puzzles and games...
Then we made snacks and watched movies - the newer version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory & Muppet's Treasure Island...

Here's evidence of how LAZY everyone was. So all in all, I'd say the day was a success!

Monday, December 26, 2005

This Year's Handmade Christmas Gifts

I received a new digital camera from my dear Mr. Potts, who drew my name in the present exchange. Boy did I luck out! He said it felt like cheating to draw his own wife's name. No, it's not handmade but it is the means of posting these wonderful pictures!

I drew BLOCHhead's name this Christmas. Well, actually, I cheated and never put her name into the drawing because I wanted to bless her this year. I wanted to give her the hope chest I had as a girl and fill it with several handmade items along with some other special purchases.

While I was crocheting this afghan, I had not mentioned who it was for, when BLOCHhead said, "Oh, I love this! It looks like the ocean. You should give this to me!" I was so excited she liked it. I just murmured something unintelligible and kept working.

I made two of these doilies to add to her hope chest. This was one of the few times I have worked with this kind of thread and one of those tiny needles. I was discouraged to see many finished items like this at Hobby Lobby for a dollar or two. But at least she will always remember I made them by hand.

Here are a couple of the of dishcloths from the stack I made.

AdventureQueen made this afghan for her uncle. I was very proud of her work because this kind of fuzzy yarn is difficult to work with.

I made this afghan for Grandpa but Tigger earned the money for the yarn. I don't know why looks like it is misshapen in this photo. He got a matching scarf also. This yarn was very light and soft.

As you can see, we've been quite busy recently. I also crocheted at baby blanket and bonnet for baby Sarah and a handful of scarves. I bought some camouflage yarn this year and have been making scarves for the boys to match their camo-overalls. A neighbor boy was admiring them one day so he got one too and I'm almost finished with the last one for a cousin.

All of the girls have been crocheting too. Some evenings we will all be sitting around the living room with our yarn and hooks. PearlKeeper has begun her first baby afghan to add to her hope chest. It's been such a pleasure to pass this art on.

My Own Little Corner of the World

I love this cozy chair, right next to the fireplace. This is where I read, crochet and drink my coffee.

Since I love natural lighting, this is the best place to sit. In this chair, I can have enought light to read in the morning when the rest of the room is still too dark. The kids make fun of me because I hate artificial lights. I can often be found wandering the house in the last moments of twilight, trying to squeeze every last minute out of the day by waiting as long as possible before turning on the lights.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

These are my sister's children and mine with Grandma and Grandpa, who are quite the troopers to invite all of us into their home for over twenty four hours straight!! We had lots of food and fun. Everyone is home tonight feeling very blessed!

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us at Shadybrook Acres!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

The girls baked some goodies to pass out to a few of our neighbors and went out yesterday morning to deliver them. Among the goodies were pumpkin bread, sugar cookies, both white and chocolate fudge and white chip walnut cookies. The peppermint candies were a failure of sorts and didn't make the cut.

One sweet old lady told them they had "purty teeth" and admonished them to take care of them while they had 'em. Gotta love livin' in the country!

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Third Book is Out!

For those of you who don't already know, PearlKeeper is illustrating the twelve book series, Grandmother's Hope Chest. The Button Jar, the third book in the series is now in print. You can go to the author's website, Hope Chest Legacy, and order all three books and many other adorable and useful items for your young maidens. (I love the cute sewing tins!! ) Vision Forum also carries the first two books and I'm sure will add the third by the time the next catalog goes out.
Here is our own PearlKeeper at a Young Authors Conference last spring signing books for some young girls. There were two authors and two illustrators chosen for the conference and PearlKeeper was one of the illustrators. After the conference we had a nice luncheon with the other author/illustrators, one of them being Valerie Tripp, author of the many of the American Girl books. This was very exciting and it almost landed her a job illustrating for Ms. Tripp but in the end it was decided that PearlKeeper's style did not exactly fit the new book Ms. Tripp had in mind.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Paper Nativity Scene

The kids are busy coloring and cutting out this cute nativity scene. Someone on the Ambleside email list posted this link. I know it's last minute but I thought some of you might still be able to squeeze it in.

Update: Here's the finished product:

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Old Books

I had saved this quote and found it floating in the stack of papers that sit by my computer awaiting the sorting process. Thankfully, I now have this blog so I have somewhere to put these miscellaneous thoughts and quotes!

"There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books....Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old....

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones....

We all need books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period.

And that means the old books. We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century....lies where we have never suspected it...None of us can fully escape this blindness...The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books."

C. S. Lewis

This puts me in mind of the "politically correct" version of history that our young people are being force fed today. When you read the words of George Washington, Columbus and even Abraham Lincoln you get a different picture than what is currently being set forth. For example, with the Civil War you may not realize that there is such a complexity of issues if you don't read the old books. There is an adage that "the victors write the history books" and the other side is not easily discovered if you don't dig back into the past. Whether you end up agreeing with one side or the other is not as important as realizing there was another side that has arguments worth considering.

Also, this thought hit home when writing this post on virtuous maidens. If you only read modern books you will not discover the "blindness" of our modern mindset. You could easily assume that the dating-and-rejection-of-fatherly-protection way of thinking is the way it always has been. You will not realize the inroads that have been made by feminism and the destruction that has come along with them if you don't read the old books.

Even very popular Christian leaders promote modern ideas, maybe unwittingly, by advising parents to just be patient, it is normal for teenagers to withdraw and find their own way in the world. They say to just give them unconditional love and they will come back. Just like the terrible two's doctrine. Parents are taught to expect tantrums and utter selfishness from their toddlers. Many find it astonishing that small children can be taught to sit still for hours and quietly entertain themselves...they think the idea of Children's Church is a new one. Those of us who have rejected these new ideas know how rare we must be when we go into public and are consistently stopped and praised for our children's behavior. The elderly often speak to us as if we take them back to another time when it was common for children to NOT be running through the restaurant. On the other hand, we are met with a shocked "how do you do it?" attitude from the younger set. Once my sister took her family out to eat and had their meal paid for by an older couple who were strangers that had observed their well-behaved family. More than infusing me with pride, it made me sad that we were so noticeable. I felt sure in older times we would have been considered nothing remarkable.

All of these thoughts and many, many more become evident when you read the old books.

Recommended Reading For Boys

The Common Room has a post listing good books for boys. I have relied on the Headmistress for years for book recommendations and have always been so grateful for her help. She has been one of the few I could turn to who had children older than mine. Thanks to them, my children have not had to be the guinea pigs every time.

To her list, we will add a few more titles that our boys have really enjoyed:

Pinocchio - the original version, NOT Disney's
Peter Pan - ditto above
books by Patricia St. John - get the older unabridged versions
Where the Red Fern Grows
The Princess and the Goblin (don't let the title fool you!)
The Story of Dr. Doolittle

If we think of any others, we will add an update later.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Phonics, Shmonics

TheLittlestPrincess is very resistant to phonics lessons. When any mother of a 5yo tells me this, I advise them to wait until the child is a bit older. I've taught six children to read and they were all ready at different times. Sometimes they are just not ready. Don't force it. There's plenty of time...yada, yada, yada.

Well, this is not the case with our little scholar. She insists on reading. She just doesn't have time to learn her phonograms and the rules about "when two vowels go walking, the first does the talking." I try to casually slip in these little lessons in when possible, but she's not interested in vowels. She is, however, very interested in words. She has been copying words for years already. Once when we were out of town, visiting a relative's church that was meeting in a gym, I looked down and saw that she had copied 'Visitors' and 'Home' from the scoreboard onto the empty spaces of the church bulletin along with her brothers' names and other miscellaneous words she could find.

Tonight, even after two days of fever and only doing better now because of the advil she had 3 hours ago, she was just pestering her father with, "What does N-E- (holding up 3 fingers in the shape of a W - she keeps forgetting the name of this letter) and this say?"

"It says new."

"Read it to me Daddy", as she leans the Reader's Digest book America The Beautiful toward him.

"Although New England is the smallest regional division of the nation..." he reads then grins and says, "Honey, this is a hard book for you."

"I know Daddy, but I can read some words in it."

"Why don't you get an easier book."

"Ok. Mom, can I get my green book?"

Three days ago I took down an old Rod & Staff reader (the green book) that her sisters read when they were little and she is on lesson 23 already and at this very moment is begging her dad to come and listen to her read some more. She wants us near to help her with new words as she comes across them, and she is doing a good job at remembering those words. When we try to give a little phonics instruction along the way, she politely, but with a distinct air of indifference, nods her head.

It's not looking like I am going to get to "teach" her to read. She is not supposed to be able to read 'about' yet. She has never been taught that word and doesn't she realize that I haven't taught her -ou- yet? Where are those flashcards, anyway? I don't think she knows that I have boatloads of reading instruction materials tucked away in bins just waiting for her.

One of our older daughters did something similar to this. She did have some phonics basics but took off on her own by sitting on the couch and calling out the spelling of any word she didn't know but at least she started doing that with the children's picture books, not Reader's Digest America the Beautiful! It's been quite a while since those days, and four children since then who have made teaching reading a hard job requiring large doses of coffee and chocolate to make it through. Maybe this time, God wants to demonstrate His sense of humor. Just when I think I've got this teaching thing down, He gives me a child who doesn't need it!

For years my mother has been snickering and saying, "This one is going to give you a run for your money!" I guess I should have paid a little more attention to that little gleam in her eye each time she made this statement. Grandparents enjoy this kind of thing a little too much!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

God's Wife

Funny conversation overheard during kitchen clean up tonight:

5yoLittlestPrincess: "Mary was God's wife, right?"

SmokeyBear: "No, Mary wasn't God's wife. Mary was Jesus' Mom."

LittlestPrincess: "Well, who is God's wife? Everyone has to have a wife or husband!"

BLOCHhead: "All Christians are like God's wife."

LittlestPrincess, with horror: "Even boys???!!"

BLOCHhead, sheepishly: "Yeah. It's kinda weird, isn't it?"

Monday, December 12, 2005

Our Christmas Plans

Another thing I love about where I live is that if you go out the front door, cross the field, take a short walk through the woods down an old logging road and you will come to Grandma & Grandpa's house! (Aren't my kids SO blessed!) Grandma is always close by to ooh and ahh right when you need her to, like when TheLittlestPrincess got her ears pierced a few weeks ago, and Grandpa is always passing out the jelly beans and giving baseball pointers.

How to celebrate Christmas has never been a solid issue around our house. I grew up celebrating it, Mr.Potts' family didn't...druids and all that. So we didn't get a tree, then we did (there was that time we cut down 3 puny trees from the woods and tied them together because we were too cheap to buy one..ha), then we didn't, now we are thinking of getting one again. We're sporadic like that sometimes. Not at all proper to the poor relatives, I know. A short article in World magazine got me thinking it over again. And then there is the DHM's post over at The Common Room and you can find quite a trail from there to many other variations on how Christians celebrate the holiday. One may demand that it be about all about Jesus' birth and another may insist on not connecting that event to it at all. We are too lazy to research the matter for ourselves, or maybe we just don't care enough. So we ride every wind of Christmas doctrine. And this year, the prevailing wind seems to be in favor of celebrating.

Anyway...over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go...because that is where we celebrate Christmas. My sister's family and mine come to Grandma's house on Christmas eve packed with jamas and all twelve grandchildren, ready to spend the night. We dress up and take family pictures. Each of the three families bring a favorite meal and we have a marvelous spread! We cook so much so we don't have to the next day, instead we eat all of the yummy leftovers, except for Grandpa's meatballs which never last that long. :(

After we get the kids to bed, we get out the ancient stockings and fill them with goodies. The adults stay up late laughing and talking and drinking coffee and hot chocolate. The kids sleep in the basement where it is quite dark so we don't have to worry about being awakened too early by excited children.

To combat the insanity that would result if we all tried to by each person a present, we draw names so we each have one person to focus on. It is supposed to be a secret but I get so many requests for present ideas I always figure it all out. So, we get up and one at a time starting with the youngest, and open presents. With eighteen people, this makes the gift giving last quite a while because we all enjoy watching other people get their gifts. This year I know Mr. Potts got me and I hear rumor it's a fantastic present??? Though of course, I wouldn't dream of manipulating it out of the children.

After presents comes the stockings. Then we eat breakfast. The rest of the day we lay around (1/2 the time in our pajamas) and play games and do whatever we feel like. We don't have any incredible traditions, we just love to hang out together. Usually Christmas Day eve rolls around and we are still there. Some have even been known to stay a second night.

We are so excited about the gifts we are giving this year. Can't wait to post pictures when it's safe to let the secrets out! Now if we could just get some snow!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Sisters - Does It Get Any Better Than This?

One thing I love about where I live is that if you walk out our screenroom door and up a little rise in the land and then through a path in the woods you emerge in the backyard of my beloved sister and her family. We have spent many days on each other's porches watching the kids swim or play in a sandbox. We can run over and borrow whatever we need, even if the other is not at home. We hug and correct each other's children, eat each other's food and enjoy ourselves so much we almost feel guilty.

Mr. Potts and I have been known to be waiting in their house for them to get home so we can play games, laugh, brew coffee, sit and talk or...did I mention laugh? They have even spent the night at our house (remember we just live next door) on a number of occasions because we sat up too late and everyone was too tired to lug the kids out to the van. Sometimes after both of our families arrive home late after our Friday night Bible study's with our church group, the phone rings and we hear, "Wanna come over? Bring the salsa!"

Our husbands love each other like brothers. When we bought a new microscope years ago, they spent days searching for unusual things to look at and became especially fascinated with the eyes of insects. Even further back, when they tried a new kind of pepper we grew in the garden (habenero) and almost quit breathing after each popping one in their mouths, they spent the rest of the evening cutting warning and poison labels off of anything they could find and gluing them on the outside of a jar, which contained more peppers. They love to sit around and brainstorm problems or discuss inventions.

Our children run joyously to greet each other, even though they see each other nearly every day. When we get back from out-of-town, even if it's just a few days, they beg and plead to run over and say hello. Mine say, "Remember when they first moved here almost four years ago, you said we'd probably get sick of each other? Well, we still haven't!"

We even share each other with other friends. Instead of getting jealous, we rejoice with each other. Her friends, even though I may not spend much or any time with them, get an automatic place in my heart. When I moved away, she took over being there for my best friend and then they became close. I never felt intimidated. It was like having more of me to spread around.

Of course, things are not always perfect. We have offended each other from time to time. The children have quarreled. We have all been defensive parents. But like a big, cozy blanket on a cold, wintry day, love covers over all of those things.

In this season of being thankful and gift giving, I wanted to acknowledge that my sister and her family are one of God's greatest gifts to me. Her love is always there and I couldn't imagine life without it.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Narnia, More Than a Story!!!

Well, I got to see The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe!!! I was there the second it turned to a new day on December 9th of 2005 at 12:00 am. I arrived in my PJs and slippers as did several of my friends. This was a momentous occasion for me! I have been in love with Narnia since I was a little girl and I have read the series 9 times which is far to few if you ask me. I plan on reading them again ASAP.

When I was a lot younger I used to tell my family that someone needed to make movies of Narnia and very soon MamaLion found that someone had. We rented three of them. I hated them all!!! I wanted to throw rotten veggies and darts at the TV because they gave such a lousy, lame, loser attempt at doing Narnia justice.

Narnia, to me, seems so much more then a story or a fantasy. I feel like I've lived there and been a part of something so much bigger and more important than me and when I am jolted back to earth I see things in a much bigger way then ever before.

The future hinges on what is done now and every battle that rages inside us is so important to our Lion of Judah. Just like Peter who could not have victory over the powers of darkness even with all of Narnia at his side. Only along side his perfect King could his efforts have power behind them and the powers of evil became too weak to stand against them. It is just so with Our God.

There's a bigger picture and we don't have to see it to believe it. One knows that when darkness fights so desperately that there must be so much to lose and therefore much for us to gain. There will be battles and they must be fought!!!

This movie that I saw last night did the book so much justice. I believe I held my breath through the whole movie and watched with glittery-eyed amazement as I discovered Narnia with the children, betrayed those whom I loved and through misery, pain and hopelessness was rescued in shame and found cleansing forgiveness with Edmund.

I felt unworthy and too small to lead something as important as the armies of Aslan, yet still found courage to do what was asked of me, and I lead many men into what seemed a hopeless battle along side Peter.

I cried when I saw the darkest sides of evil with Susan and Lucy as they watched their great King die in shame for they, their brothers and all of Narna, and buried my face in Aslan's fur and wet him with my tears then felt the power and joy that flowed when death could not conquer Him!!!

I lived as a queen in Narnia then found, when I stumbled back to earth, that I was only a girl again with a new and greater perspective on life!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Math Games

We recently purchased this math games kit and we are loving it! It has over 300 games with everything you need plus very clear instructions, which this mathematically-challenged mom needs desperately. The chapters are set up sequentially and within each chapter you will find it begins with the easiest level and progressively moves upward. It is very easy to find to find the game you need to enforce a particular concept or skill, making it a great addition to any math program. The kids love taking a break from worksheets and playing these games. Here are the chapter headings:


This would make a great Christmas gift for any family.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

More on Handling Misunderstanding

It was very interesting that only hours after I typed the last post, Seeking Understanding, I was once again confronted with a situation of being misjudged. I should not get angry because I have done my share of misjudging situations. Even still, it is hard to quell that sense of injustice that rises up within me. Once again I went through the range of emotions from trying to harden myself off from caring to wanting to give up. Even after I had just typed that last entry! Luckily I had that fresh in my mind and it began working within me to bring good fruit.

After doing my best to calm myself and find the peace of God again I was looking for through my list of copywork verses for the children's schoolwork. I found myself in 1 Peter and some very familiar verses ministered to me once again.

"For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. " (1 Peter 2:19 - 20)

Then in 1 Peter 4:8 -

"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins."
God must feel I need to practice this until I get it right the first time and these principles become my first response! I pray that won't take many more times!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Seeking Understanding

"...We are all very anxious to be understood, and it is very hard not to be. But there is one thing much more necessary."

"What is that, Grandmother?"

"To understand other people."

"Yes, Grandmother, I must be fair - for if I'm not fair to other people, I'm not worth being understood myself. I see..."

From The Princess and the Goblin by George Macdonald

I was reading this to the boys today and this passage struck me. So much of the source of my grief in life has come from my pain at being misunderstood. When I was younger I tried not to care what other people thought (It's their problem!) then when that didn't work, I would decide to withdraw and just not open up any more. Neither option works when you desire to really take part in the life of the Kingdom of God.

Experience has taught me to be more careful, less hasty, and maturity has taken away some of that need to always have a say in the matter, to always prove my "rightness". These things have helped. But this passage hit me in a fresh way. To make it one's objective to understand others, to put that obective before your own need to be understood. Hmmm. I detect much food for thought here. I shall have to reflect on this further with a hot cup of tea, a cozy blanket and a fire in the fireplace.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Virtuous Maiden, Who Can Find?

One of our favorite literary characters that demonstrates virtuous girlhood is Patience Heatherstone in The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat, first published in 1847.

Here's our favorite excerpt from a conversation between Patience and Edward, a young man who is in love with her. They have just had a small dispute between them.

"It is I who am in fault, Patience," replied Edward. "I have been dreaming for a long while, pleased with my dreams, and forgetting that they were dreams, and not likely to be realized. I must now speak plainly. I love you, Patience - love you so much that to part from you would be misery; to know that my love was rejected, as bitter as death. That is the truth, and I can conceal it no longer. Now I admit you have a right to be angry."

"I see no cause for anger, Edward, " replied Patience. "I have not thought of you but as a friend and benefactor; it would have been wrong to have done otherwise. I am but a young person, and must be guided by my father. I would not offend him by disobedience. I thank you for your good opinion of me, and yet I wish you had not said what you have. "

Imagine a young girl of today saying this to a young man who had just declared his ardent love for her. Then imagine this young man actually having his conscience pricked about declaring his love to this young maiden without speaking to her father first. This happens a few sentences on into the story:

"Here comes my father, Edward," said Patience.

(Edward) "Surely I have done wrong, for I feel afraid to meet him."

It is comforting to know that the seemingly radical stand we are taking in the approach of how we plan to give our daughters in marriage is not historically radical at all, but at one time was quite the normal procedure. This idea of daughters belonging to their fathers is to be found in quite a bit of old literature, including the Bible. Feminists will gnash their teeth at the idea, of course, but when we consider where their ideas have led us, we do not give their concerns any merit.

It is sad to realize how foreign these ideas have become to modern people. We plan to do our part in reintroducing these ideas to our culture. The divorce rate being what it is, we can not help think that it only makes sense to consider other alternatives, especially alternatives from times past when the state of marriage was not in such jeopardy.

For My people have forgotten Me,
They burn incense to worthlessness
And they have stumbled from their ways,
From the ancient paths,
To walk on bypaths,
Not on a highway...
Jeremiah 18:15

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Look At Those Cheeks!!!

This is our cute little niece/cousin, Sarah, who is almost two months old now! We are all taking a part in "spoiling" her by taking turns running next door to hold her. Already she hates to be put down. I was lucky she was happy while I put her down to take these pictures! She loves to be snuggled and we are all only too happy to oblige.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

History Reading

Here is Marvin Olasky's (of World Magazine) high school history reading list. We had many of these titles already and ordered the rest through amazon's used book service.

Now I'm just hoping for a long, cold winter!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Good or Bad?

We often depend on literature for moral lessons and examples of different kinds of character traits. Young children always want to know "Is he the good guy or the bad guy?" and it is sometimes hard for them to comprehend that people can do good things and bad things and it's not often possible to sort them into neat "good or bad" categories.

Last summer while we were reading English history in H.E. Marshall's An Island Story, the boys were constantly wanting to know who were the good guys. When issues arose between the English and the French they would ask, "Who are we going for?" I had to tell them that both their father and I had strong ties to England (my paternal grandmother came over on the boat on her 8th birthday) but that parts of my family were French (my maternal grandmother's maiden name was LaFleur). Discovering that there is an obvious family connection between their father's side of the family and a certain character in the King Arthur story, combined with the fact that An Island Story is written from the English perspective, they were happy to settle the question. They were going for the English.

One day riding in the truck, TheLittlestPrincess, who is now the proud age of five, asked, "Mom, was Abraham Lincoln a bad president?". She then informed me that Tigger said he was. I tried to explain to her that Abraham Lincoln did some things we don't agree with and sometimes gets credit that he doesn't deserve. She patiently listened to my examples and when I was finished said, "Yeah, but is he bad or good?"

I know partly this way of thinking is due to immaturity and as they grow they will see that this is not always a simple question to answer. I hope they will come to see that a benefit to studying people in history is realizing, as Charlotte Mason so eloquently says,

"...we know there is a great deal to be said on both sides of every question and are saved from crudities in opinion and rashness in action."

Seek and Ye Shall Find

We have been very thankful to Vision Forum for much encouragement over the years. This picture was taken at their Father/Daughter Retreat last spring.

AdventureQueen graduated, turned 18 this year and was struggling with pressure to go the accepted route for young women which included either college or career but most importantly - independence. It was amazing to her that even complete strangers would make it their business to question her about her plans for the future. With all of the many voices, even those of trusted Christian friends, it was difficult for her to find peace. Much of that lack of peace was her parents' fault. We had been sending her mixed signals about life as an "adult". Sometimes our parenting goes on automatic pilot and we say the things we either grew up hearing or repeat what we have heard from the world. Often we are guilty of reactionary parenting. We get on our knees in times of perceived crisis instead of seeking God for His ways and thoughts ahead of time. Of this, we repent and hope and pray to do better in the future.

After getting our answers through prayer and lots of time talking together, we looked to see if Vision Forum had any materials to strengthen us in our resolve and we found this book - So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God. Here's the first paragraph from the book:

"The world is a mess and it's our fault. This is one of the most important things our father has taught us over the years. It sounds hard, but sometimes we need to hear hard truths. God has given principles for all people to live by. Christians are suposed to know exactly what these principles are and live by them, setting the example and upholding the standard. Yet Christians can be some of the most careless and ungrateful and forgetful people. We Christians can be responsible for leading the culture either away from God's design or toward it. Our father has taught us to confess our errors and admit our mistakes. We truly have been a part of the problem, because we have been careless with the standard."

This book is written by two young girls, aged 17 and 19, with additions by fourteen other young women. We have just begun to read it together and so far, it has been a godsend. Here's the last paragraph of the first chapter, which I have a hard time reading without tears:

"Feminists will say we're weak, but after struggling with feminism ourselves, we realize that being a woman of God will take more of our strength than trying to be anything else. It will require the courage and conviction of a martyr. This is not a book for the weak-hearted or peer-dependant."

This brings me to tears because I'm sad that it is so hard for young people these days. They face so many obstacles. But on the other hand, I'm excited because the ones that overcome will be strong in God and ready to be put to good use by Him.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

View From My Computer Desk

The woods are so beautiful this time of year! I feel so blessed to have this gorgeous view while I sit at my computer. The leaves are not even at their peak yet but I'm trying to enjoy every minute because I know before too long they will all be gone and the trees will be settling in for their winter rest. Although I hate to see the woods so bare, I know that without the seemingly dead time of winter the other seasons wouldn't be appreciated as much. I'm so glad to live in a region where the seasons are so different!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Aren't They Cute!

Here's one of our grown-up kittens (I know that makes her a cat but we have a strange identification method.) and Wallace, my brother's puppy. Wallace is growing like a weed and has begun to endear himself to the family. He wasn't popular at first, especially when he was using the kittens as chew toys. But he's settling in now and finding other things to chew. Like the seat of a folding chair someone left on the deck. Then Grandma brought him over a sack full of chew toys that her dog had outgrown. Order has been restored.

Now, about our identification method. Many of our cats never really get names. They may be officially named at some point but I can never remember what they are and the kids are changing them too often so they are referred to as the older-orange-girl-kitten, orange-and-white-boy-kitten, etc. It's getting to be somewhat of a hassle though, so I may round the kids up and get some real names established. However, when the kids come up with a name for a cat like 'Smoochie Poochie' and it actually sticks, it makes me think I'd be better off with the color and gender identification method.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Favorite pets

This was one of SmokeyBear's favorite critter-finds this year. This snake was his daily companion. He even bought a small mouse at the pet store in order to offer the snake something to eat. We were very entertained to see the snake and the mouse be friendly with each other. The mouse actually made its bed in the middle of the coiled up snake and they slept together. I think they worked out a plan together, for in the morning great holes were chewed in the cage and both had escaped. Since then he has found several smaller snakes but none near the size of this one. While the smaller snakes make lovely live ornamental bracelets, they are not as impressive as his long lost friend. SmokeyBear is fortunate his mother does not have a snake phobia.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Narration on Henry the Eighth

From chapter 64 of An Island Story, which you can read here. Remember narration, as Charlotte Mason advocated, is the practice of telling back what one remembers after a single reading. This is 9yo Tigger's composition as dictated to me without any help or prompting. Try this: read the chapter only once, close the book and write out what you remember. You may be surprised and how difficult narrating is! ****************************************************
Henry the Eighth

He had a wife called Catherine and he got tired of her and she fell at his feet saying, "Please don't send me away. I don't want to go somewhere else." He still sent her away. Then he married Anne Boelyn. He told the Church to not look upon the Pope any more. He was the head of the Church and the State. All of the people that still looked upon the Pope, he put them in jail and then cut off their heads. And anyone who looked upon Martin Luther, he cut off their heads and burned them. Then he soon got tired of Anne Boelyn and he put her in prison and cut off her head.

So he married Jane and he loved her a lot. And she died and he didn't marry anybody else for two years. Then he saw a picture of Catherine and he thought she was very beautiful. So he sent for her and when he saw her, she wasn't pretty. She was very ugly and clumsy. He gave her large sums of money to go away and she did. She wanted to keep her head on her shoulders. Before he married her this guy told him to marry her and he cut off his head.

Then he married a fifth lady. Then he found out she was very evil but he was eviler but he didn't realize that. So he put her in jail and cut off her head and put a bunch of her friends in jail and cut off their heads. Then he married the sixth lady and her name was Catherine. She wanted to keep her head on her shoulders and Henry the Eighth almost cut off her head because she didn't quite agree with him. Catherine liked being called Queen of England.

The country soon rebelled against him. So England got a lot of men together.

And then he took all of the Bibles and put them each one in every church and tied them up.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Upcoming Performances of HISTORY: My Deliverer

For all of our friends and family who might like to attend the performance of HISTORY: My Deliverer, which is the life of Christ in dance and drama. Featuring contemporary Christian music and live singers. The following are the dates of upcoming shows which PearlKeeper and BLOCHhead will be performing in:

  • November 10 11am and 7pm
  • November 11 & 12 7pm
  • November 13 2:30pm
If anyone would like to come to town for the show, I'm sure we can find room for you to stay with us, extended family or church members.

This has been an extremely powerful performance! Many people have been pleasantly surprised at how well done and professional it is. Several parts have received standing ovations. We would love for you to come!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Travel Journal

September 5th, 2005
Here we are in Washington, DC after a long trip from Tennessee yesterday! We arrived late last night at a nice family campground right outside the city where we plan on staying for the week. Today, we went to Mount Vernon, the home of our first president, George Washington. It was a beautiful place set on a rolling hilltop overlooking the Potomac River. We sat for awhile on that hill in front of the house looking out at the river and I could just imagine George Washington doing the same over 200 years ago. He'd be experiencing the same things I was: the cool breeze, the view, the contentment in knowing that he lived in a beautiful, free nation.

Then this evening we drove to Annapolis Harbor, where we saw the U.S. Naval Academy and hundreds of boats!! We could feel the Labor Day holiday in he air as we moored around the docks along with many young people out celebrating their day free from work. It was a lovely evening and dusk was gathering as we climbed into a tour boat to take an evening tour. Beneath us, the water was shimmering and reflecting the multi-colored sky. People from the other boats waved as we passed by and though we could hardly see them anymore, we waved back. I guess the peacefulness of the evening made us sleepy because me and my seven brothers and sisters were all fast asleep when we pulled back into our campsite.

September 6, 2005
Today we took a trip via the subway into downtown Washington DC. We walked out of the station, still dazzled by the thrill of our first subway ride, and looked around us at our nation's capital. We had never realized before how very beautiful the sight was. Each intricately structured building and historic monument provided a pattern so perfect that it made me wish I could soar up like a bird to look down and take it all in at once.

After lunch, we went into the National Gallery of Art. Taking our time, we walked through each exhibit slowly. There were couches dispersed through multiple rooms and on some there were students lounging with notebooks studying paintings that apprarently had fancied them. My mom, sisters, and I walked through quietly studying each painting closely and marveling at the pure talent these artists possessed. With each painting, I longed to become like these artists and touch hearts with beautiful pictures for the world to understand and admire.

September 7, 2005
We went back downtown today to just stroll around and see the monuments up close. We went first to the Washington Monument. Even when we saw it far off, it was breathtaking but that was nothing compared to standing right next to it. If you had good balance you could look up and watch I seeming to sway back and forth while the clouds about it would circle 'round and form a sort of crown on its pointed top. We picnicked in the shadow of the monument and then made our way down the long winding sidewalk to the Lincoln Memorial. There we rested and read the inscriptions on the walls with the face of Abraham Lincoln looking sternly down at us. Turning around and walking back down the steps we could see the reflecting pool with the Washington Monument reflected right in the center of the water. Ducks were swimming in the pool and people were standing along the pathway resting or taking in the sights around them. The scene provided a one-point perspective of the pool, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol Building forming one line and getting smaller as they went.

September 8, 2005
Leaving at 9:00 A.M. we took a long trip to Williamsburg, Virginia today. It was a four hour drive to the Colonial town but the boring trip was forgotten as we began to walk around. We strolled at our own pace and walked in and out of small shops that had been built to function just as they would have in the Colonial era. Around us, people were dressed as if they had just walked out of the 1600s. One woman as even carrying a baby boy dressed in a white blouse and britches. The shop we stayed in longest was the apothecary shop where they displayed medicines and remedies from the 1600s. When we walked in, we saw endless rows of old bottles and jars lining the shelves. There was a soapy, sweet smell in the air and a smiling lady in a mobcap behind the counter. She was there to prescribe some sort of medicine or herb for whatever ailed you, in Colonial days, that is. But today, she was there to answer all our questions about sickness in the 17th century. We walked in and out of many places including the shoemaker, gunsmith, milliner, silversmith, and blacksmith. Every shop had its own special smell and feel. By the time we were ready to go back, each was convinced that he was born in the wrong time period and longing for the olden days again.

September 9, 2005
Our last day was spent at the beautiful Baltimore Harbor. We arrived around 2:00 P.M., parked, and began to walk. The first thing that struck us was that, like Annapolis, there were hundreds of sailboats and yachts in the water and tied to the docks. On one huge yacht, a family lounged on lawn chairs drinking lemonade and waving back to people who called hello. We walked in a half-circle around a small inlet area passing by tall skyscrapers and crowds of people. Once, we passed a man who was playing the guitar, a drum set and a harmonica all at once. Small kids jumped up and down to the beat of the music around him while grown-ups dropped money in his bucket. Continuing on after watching for a while, we also passed a few anchored old ships and even an old submarine that could be explored with tickets. But we were hungry for dinner by this point so we circled back to find a place to eat. The rest of the evening was spent at the Rusty Scupper eating delicious seafood and enjoying the incredible view of Baltimore Harbor from our table.

A Copycat of Olive Garden's Hot Artichoke & Spinach Dip

This recipe is SO good! Many people think it is better than Olive Garden's. I have used it many a time to bribe friends and family. We like it with tortilla chips. Be prepared: it never lasts long!

Add hot wings (I just follow the recipe on the RedHot sauce bottle) and you have a feast of flavors fit for any football or evening get-together!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Welcome Sarah Faith!

Our new little niece/cousin was born at 8:35 October 10, 2005. She weighs 7 lbs. 3 oz. and is almost 20 inches long.

After a night of mild labor, things started picking up around 6am. After an hour in the hot tub everything began moving quickly. My sister did an amazing job! And our beloved friend and midwife did a stupendous job; what would we do without her?

She made her debut into the world on Grandpa's favorite leather LazyBoy chair (which was protected of course)! She knows how to arrive in style!

So far, she has been the most peaceful , content baby and is already sucking her fingers. Her sister and brothers couldn't be more pleased!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Life Out of Death

About two weeks ago, I received word that my grandmother was probably dying. My sister, my oldest daughter and I left within a hour of the news and drove all night to Michigan to try to see her one last time. She was a phenomenal woman and I plan to write a post just about her soon. But something very exciting came out of the trip and I know she would have preferred for his news to take precedence over her own story.

Even though we didn't make it in time to see Grandma, we had a wonderful opportunity to see one of my younger brothers, Judah. He asked to come home with us for a visit, feeling that he had a real need in his life and feeling that coming home with us would set him on the path to filling that need. The ten hour trip home never seemed so fast! We talked the whole way, laughing at family stories and also serious conversations about life with God and the Body of Christ. We did take one break from talking to play a Jeremy Camp CD for him and he couldn't hold back the tears any longer.

It just so happened that our church was in the middle of our Feast of Tabernacles celebration which means we were camping out and having meetings every night. This is always a very special time of year for us but this year Judah being with us made it extra special. The first night home Judah asked for prayer and surrounded by many caring people, he was moved to tears of repentance. The second night he announced he wanted to rededicate his life to God and the third night he asked to be baptized in the creek on our church property!

Since then he's made a trip to his home state to tie up loose ends and now he is living with us and planning on starting a new business with my brother-in-law. He is teaching AdventureQueen how to play the guitar and they are having special times talking and worshipping together.

There is so much to this story but I want to share about the meaning of his name. I have always been told Judah means praise. I wanted to research a little further so I consulted my Strong's Concordance and here's what I found:

  • (Judah) Yehuwdah comes from a primary root Yadah which means literally to use (ie. hold out) the hand; especially to revere or worship with extended hands
I was amazed because I had already loaded these pictures onto this post before I looked this up!

I am so thrilled to have been a part of all of this and so thankful to have my brother with us!!!!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Good Quote Does The Heart Good

" is the proof of God, and forgiveness is the proof of love."

From Levi's Will by W. Dale Cramer

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Separation of Church and State - HA!

Just wandering around Washington DC gives ample evidence against the modern notion that the Founders advocated the current interpretation of separation of church and state. Someone needs to create a book and a video documentation of all of these sort of references!

Just one example is the Thomas Jefferson Building (of all places), which is part of the Library of Congress.

Not only is there a statue of Moses and St. Paul among other prominent figures that decorate the circular Main Reading Room, there are these quotes along the top of the walls:

  • Above the figure of History: "One God, One Law, One Element, And One Far-Off Divine Element, To Which The Whole Creation Moves." from In Memoriam by Tennyson

This struck me so strongly that I grabbed my little blank book which I had just purchased at the National Gallery of Art and copied it down. I plan to read Tennyson's poems in the collection of In Memoriam. From what little I have researched, I have already found some interesting things.

  • Above the figure of Religion: "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" from Micah 6:8

  • Above the figure of Science: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork." from Psalms 19:1
I find this quote above the science figure to be extremely ironic, being that our nation currently forbids the teaching in it's government schools of God as the creator, let alone that the natural world shows His glory and handiwork! How can a people be so deceived? By the old adage that goes something like - Repeat a lie often enough and eventually it will be believed. When will the American people wake up to all of the inconsistencies of our modern American worldview???

It puts me in mind of Proverbs 22:28, "Do not move the ancient landmark which your fathers have set." With all of the push for separation of church and state, I can not help but worry over these ancient landmarks. Surely they will be next in the line of fire to remove all references of our heritage from the land. I pray that God has raised up the home school movement in order to combat this foolishness. May we be diligent to teach our children the truth!

Speaking of Pigeons

Believe it or not, this little pigeon was the object of our visit to the American History Museum. While reading about Cher Ami and then seeing The Lost Battalion when we were studying World War I last year, we found out he was in the Smithsonian and we knew we had to see him.

Nature Study in D.C.

A highlight of the trip for SmokeyBear was feeding the pigeons. As we tromped through museums he kept asking, "When can we go feed the pigeons? You promised we would!" To his delight, they were so tame he was able to catch several of them.

We lugged our cooler-on-wheels around DC to save money on food. This second day we plopped down in the Mall and had our lunch. Somehow a peach managed to escape our picnic area and this squirrel had a feast. Tom was able to get close enough to him to gently take the peach from him and then offer it back. The squirrel gently took it back and resumed eating! The squirrel encounter was called to halt when MamaLion saw what was going on because she didn't want to rush anyone to the hospital with a squirrel bite!

Les Grand Vacances

The Big Vacation! This has been my favorite phrase from our French program Le Francais Facile (The Easy French). For some reason, I found particular pleasure reciting this phrase around the house while planning our long-awaited trip to Washington DC. For the last year and a half, the whole family has been putting money in the designated vacation tin. The last few months, Mr. Potts gave extra incentive by promising to match any funds put in by the children. A good friend of ours, who grew up in the DC area, gave us a suggested list of places to visit. We looked over the list, visited a few websites, and came up with our goals of places to see in the week of our sojourning.

The kids were amazing, especially the younger ones! We did so much walking! The band-aids in our first aid kit came in handy to cover the blisters on our feet. Even the boys begged to go to bed each night!

We visited Mount Vernon, The Mall, various monuments and museums, the Capital Building, The Library of Congress, Annapolis and the Naval Academy, Arlington, Baltimore Harbor and Williamsburg and drove by VMI and Scotchtown. Even though we were up at the crack of dawn, we still did not even make a dent in everything we wanted to do. We wished we had more time to spend at each place, not to mention the many, many other places we wanted to see. Our comfort came with promising ourselves that we would come back some other time.

Learning to ride the Metro was interesting. Fortunately, the first time we boarded it was almost empty with the exception of some kind of security officer. We didn't even know where to get off and how we would know where to get off until we asked his advice. That evening was quite a different story! When we boarded to come home there was standing room only. It was still uneventful and quiet until a young man standing in the aisle started rapping a song with foul language and lyrics about blowing people up. Everyone around us looked unconcerned so we tried to remain composed. We breathed a sigh of relief when he got off. The second day, we were beginning to get the hang of how the system worked and felt much more confident.

Grandma & Grandpa joined us on the 2nd day and spent the rest of the week with us. It was especially nice to have them with us since they have been away all summer. I grinned as I watched the oldest girls scramble to walk beside Grandpa and discuss history and current events. It was nice having someone with us who had experienced more of our nation's history and could lend first hand accounts. The girls also enjoyed visiting with Grandma in the camp bath house and making fun of how fast I am while they all took their sweet time getting ready for the day. After so much observation of their mother all week, they have decided I have A.D.D. Thank God, I was raised in an age before labeling and ritalin!!

We will be posting more pictures and accounts of our travels over the next few weeks.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Beware Of Fuzz Balls!!!

Once a week I read and discuss BlochHead's science with her. Just as we had finished she changed the subject and started telling me a short story made long. I can't quite remember who it was about but I do remember that the science we had been discussing was definitely more interesting. Until BlochHead started choking. She stopped in mid sentence and began coughing and sputtering as tears squeezed out of her eyes. "What's wrong!?" I asked in dismay. "I w-was choking on a fuzz ball." She replied as soon as she was recovered enough to speak. Both of us burst out laughing simultaneously as she pulled the hazardous fuzz ball out of her mouth.

While I was reading she had pulled off a little piece our crocheted blanket and had been chewing on it. I can just imagine new and more outrageous warnings coming with each new blanket. WARNING! Choking hazard. Small parts, keep away from blonds, block heads and children under the age of thirteen!!! Soon they will be coming out with child proof blankets. :)

Imitating Momma

When I think of little girls dressing up like Mama strings of pearls, high-heeled shoes, a feather boa and powder puffs come to mind. Well, erase that picture. This is my littlest girl's idea of dressing up like me. What is it they say? Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Hmmm.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Beethoven's Success

Hello all! I haven't posted anything yet and I keep trying and trying to think of something REALLY GOOD to write about. But I soon figured out that that was my problem. Why should it have to be something REALLY GOOD? Sometimes, the simplest things can give you so much pleasure and they don't always qualify as really good.

Yesterday, I was sitting at the dining room table drawing (beginning illustrating my 3rd book in the series) with a Beethoven CD playing in the kitchen and I just decided to relish the moment. I had just been in a car with eight little boy cousins and brothers so the peacefulness was lovely!! (LOL) I guess it was just one of those moments that hit you and you feel so overwhelmingly happy and thankful for everything. I just wish I could live constantly in that state!! :)

This was posted by PearlKeeper, even though she signed in under my name.

Feast of Tabernacles

Our Feast of Tabernacle's is coming up soon!! Our church celebrates it once a year. We all camp out for a week on our churches property, eat dinner together every night, have meetings every night, and stay up too late arouned the fire talking. Every year the kids' excitement rises higher than the last. Now they are talking and planning over it a month ahead of time. We draw names before the feast and we buy a gift for that person. I know everyone looks forward to it more than Christmas or any other holiday.

Tom's Hope Chest

Tom turned 15 yesterday. We went to the unfinished furniture store and picked out a hope chest and she choose a whitewash stain. When we get it finished we'll post a picture of it.

Here's a quote from a book I read recently:

"Any piece of furniture, I don't care how beautiful it is, has got to be lived with, and kicked about, and rubbed down, and mistreated by servants, and repolished, and knocked around and dusted and sat on or slept in or eaten off of before it develops its real character..."
From So Big by Edna Ferber

It's comforting to know that ALL of the furniture at our house has very well developed character.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Where the Red Fern Grows

A first-person narration of Where the Red Fern Grows - Chapter One

At one point of his life, a boy is infected with a certain kind of puppy love. Not the kind for the girl across the street. The real kind, that has four little paws and a wiggly tail and a wet tongue that licks his face. Most boys are happy with any dog they're given, if it's a nice and loyal one. But it wasn't that way for me. I had a certain kind of breed that I just had to have and that particular kind was not cheap. I wanted hounds and not just any kind of hound, I wanted coon hounds and two of them. I told my pa. I could tell he wanted to help, but just didn't have the money. After that, I just couldn't bare the thought of not having those coon hounds. I started loosing sleep and not eating much because of it. Ma and Pa started worrying but there was nothing they could do. I was determined.

Note from MamaLion: Narration is the process of retelling after one reading (with no peeking back at the book). We much prefer this method over the standard answer-the-questions-at-the-end-of-the-chapter way of doing things. We believe narration encourages superior attention, retention, thinking, writing and communication skills. To read more about it look here. This was written by a 12 year old.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

How Do You Get It All Done??

Many people think it is complex to schedule a school year using Ambleside Online (AO). For some reason, the website overwhelms people and they don't know where to start. Maybe it's just simple for me because I've made so many schedules! And I've watched Ambleside grow from the beginning stages. At any rate, I wanted to share what the basic schedule looks like, or at least the basic components. I am a visual person and, for me, the less clutter, the better.

Ambleside's Year 1, if I remember correctly, averages only 1 reading a day to cover the booklist in one school year. Years 2 - 6 require an average of 2 readings a day. Ambleside books include history, science, natural history, geography and literature.

Here are the basic components using Year 3 as an example (I hope I'm not leaving anything out!):

Daily Table work -

Daily Readings-
Foreign language (audio)
AO Reading #1
AO Reading #2
(if the child is not reading well enough yet to read some of the AO books themselves, then add another reading period here where the child reads something on his own level)

Weekly Subjects (these can be done together as a family)-
Nature Study
Book of Centuries

There are many ways to mix this up and every family has different preferences. Charlotte Mason recommended mixing up the subjects so you are not doing the same type of thing back to back. For example, we wouldn't do all of our table work at one time and then sit down for all of the readings at once. The key is to alternate activites so the child's brain doesn't get tired with the same kind of activity. If you vary the kinds of work being done, you can continue working with a freshness of mind for much longer than you might expect.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Homeschool Conference Makes Front Page

along with ShadyBrook Acres' own PearlKeeper.

Here's a link to a front page article in the Jackson Sun.

She Swims!!!

We have an important announcement:
The last of our seven children can now swim!!

A few years ago some friends who run a pool store called us and said they had someone who didn't want their pool, which included a large deck, and they wanted to give it away to whoever would come and disassemble it. So we took on the huge project and now we have a nice, big pool. It has been a big blessing but also a big worry since we had a toddler to be concerned about. Even now the water is well above her head.

This year she surprised us with first swimming under water and then, last weekend while out of town at a hotel pool where she could touch the bottom, she succeeded staying on top of the water for the first time. We were so excited! And so were her sisters, who could be seen jumping up and down and cheering in the fifth story hotel window. The nice thing about being the youngest of seven children is that every thing you do is met with fanfare.

Five Squirmy Kittens

The mama to these kittens followed SmokeyBear home one day. Even though she was very ugly, I was entreated to keep her based on other merits and she has turned out to be truly the sweetest cat we've ever had. All of our cats have names officially but most often they are referred to as "the gray & white cat", "the boy kitten", etc. just as our vehicles are referred to as "the white van", "the green van" and "Dad's truck". For some reason, this mother cat is the only one whose name has stuck and she has the most ridiculous name: Smoochie Poochie. SmokeyBear made it up. Don't ask me where it came from. I have no earthly idea.

Smoochie Poochie absolutely loves being a mama. As soon as the first three of the five kittens were born, she began purring while they climbed all over her, and then she wrapped her arms (I know, cats don't have arms) around them and looked like she wanted to say, "I'm so glad to be a mama again!"

This time we have two calicos, two that are black and white, and one lone orange kitten.

After her first litter of three kittens, I had planned on getting her to the vet to prevent any more but I wasn't quick enough. I learned that cats have babies three times a year, not twice as I had supposed! Well, perhaps I'll have better luck this next time.

5th Anniversary of Charlotte Mason Meetings

This past Monday we celebrated the fifth anniversary of our monthly Charlotte Mason meetings. All of these years we have been meeting once a month at our local library on the third Monday of every month at 7pm.

Every month we take turns bringing snacks, and when it's my turn you can usually find a bag of doritos and some m&m's strewn across the table. But this month two of the ladies really out did themselves. There were white tablecloths, candles, a beautiful watermelon basket, and lots of other pretty and yummy treats. In the center, was this gorgeous bouquet of flowers for me! Thank you ladies!! And thank you to all of the ladies who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to gather together and come to both give and receive encouragement. You are all truly a spectacular group of women and I'm excited to see the fruit of your lives!!

After getting our food, we spent the evening telling about the conferences some of us had been to this month. Three of us told about the Ambleside Conference in Texas and what particulars impacted us the most. Then I had the privilege of sharing about the state conference we had been to the weekend before where leaders from Home School Legal Defense spoke. These men are the "veterans of the homeschool wars". It was very interesting hearing their perspective and one got a sense of being in the presence of pilgrims of some sort.

Mike Smith, president of HSLDA, shared this list of tendencies for free nations and spiritual movements from his talk, Proclaim Liberty, and warned us against loosing what has been paid for so dearly by others.

  • From bondage to spiritual faith;
  • From spiritual faith to great courage;
  • From courage to liberty;
  • From liberty to abundance;
  • From abundance to complacency;
  • From complacency to apathy;
  • From apathy to dependence;
  • From dependence back into bondage.
We are obviously in the stage of great abundance, so complacency is what we need to be on the look out for. May we all be diligent to guard our freedoms and not take them for granted!

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Official First Day of School

We had the whole family get up early on this past Monday in order to have a First-Day-of-School-Talk. Amazingly enough, AdventureQueen woke Mr. Potts and I up at 7am and we stumbled into the living room to find 6 children already awake and waiting for us. A recent homeschooling conference hosted by our state organization, Home School Legal Defense Association and Generation Joshua inspired us to make sure our children realized the importance of their education and that was the purpose of our morning pep talk. This conference served as a good reminder of what our goals and expectations were when we began homeschooling, something we talked about many times when our older children were growing up but seem to have taken for granted too often with our younger set. Mr. Potts was especially valuable in giving his encouragement to our sons to appreciate their education and to work hard.

We introduced Beethoven's (our term's composer) Symphany #5 while getting our breakfast. Then we dove into our new schedules. Tom is using Ambleside's Year 7, BLOCHhead is using Year 6, and SmokeyBear and Tigger are finishing up some of Year 2 and then planning on using Year 3. We had a great day and I believe everyone had stimulating reading. As someone recently quoted, "The test of a good children's book is if it can be read without pain by an adult!" I confirm that my children have a feast of good books waiting for them when I gaze at their school shelves and find myself wanting to read every one of the titles! Thanks Ambleside Advisory for all of your great work!!

Our afternoon activities consisted of an unexpected hand-on science lab: the birth of five new kittens! We'll be posting pictures soon. Then the three younger children and I enjoyed P.E. in the pool. Afterwards they picked tomatoes and made a homemade waterslide out of an old pool wall.

How can anyone think homemaking and homeschooling isn't the most rewarding job on earth! Life doesn't get much better than this!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A 20th Century Inventor

One day while studying 20th century history, we were discussing inventors. I asked each of the girls to choose a biography of an inventor to read and then give an oral report. Many options were considered and each child made their choice. Then the 4 year old jumps up and says,

"Mama, I'm going to do an inventor too. I choose Winnie-the-Pooh!"

Well, there was the unsuccessful attempt at a honey-extracting method...but wait, there was the umbrella-boat, The Brain of Pooh. That was surprisingly inventive. Ok, maybe Pooh does qualify. For a 4 year old, anyway.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Eleven Boys And A Lake

The mountain lake was empty when we first arrived, a quiet, peaceful scene. With most of the area's children back in school, there were only 2 women sunbathing on the beach. But boys have a way of changing things. Before long there were wrestlings, dunkings, chicken fights and salamander catchings! And oh my, what a din! Between the 4 of us, we brought eleven boys. What else did we expect??

At our house, where the girls outnumber the boys, 5 to 2, there are two young boys who bask in this kind of opportunity. We are thankful for other strong young men who love to play hard and their wonderful mommas who go to the trouble of packing and unpacking (not to mention dealing with all that sand) for a few hours in the sun and water!

We count ourselves blessed to have such friends!

The Minnipins

Mom just gave me a stack of books for free reading this year. After I read them, I get to keep them for my own! The first on the stack was The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall. I started it yesterday and I can't put it down. I'm almost finished with it!

It is about little people called Minnipins, who are trapped in a large valley with mountains all around and no way out. The Minnipins all dress the same, they paint their houses the same white with green doors, and are neat and tidy. But four Minnipins are different from the rest and they are outlawed for it. They find out that there are enemies getting ready to attack their village and it's up to them to save the rest of the Minnipins.

Here are a couple quotes I really liked.

"If you don't look for trouble, how can you know it's there?"

"When you say what you think, be sure to think what you say."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Attack of the Potts!!!

Every morning it happens. I could rehearse it in my sleep. "Kids", MamaLion says the night before, "You have to be upstairs by 7:00."

"All right", we all say in a tone that is less than cheerful. It's funny how many answer and how few actually hear her. It's also interesting that we have so many defective alarms in our house. Maybe its all Walmart's fault. Whoever is fully responsible for the case of the sleeping children we shall never know and there seems to be no solution to the problem. Morning rolls around, 7:00 chimes in, then 7:05 then 7:15........What happens next is inevitable . MamaLion gets mad "Run for cover!!!" (but don't run for the covers, it only makes things worse!) Then there are the excuses, followed by grouchy children which makes for a dreadful day. So the cycle continues, until one day when Daddy Potts has a rather noisy idea!!!........

I wake up 10 min. before 7:00 and decide to get a shower. I smile to myself. I am the only one up so there will be no competition for the shower. I creep very quietly into the bathroom, careful not to waken any possible rivals. Success! Minutes later, while drying my hair, I think to myself "Hmmm, everyone must still be asleep." It's the one time when one can enjoy peace and quiet in a house of nine pe.........Clang! Clang!! Crash!!! Bang!!!! Bam!!!!! Bash!!!!!! "GOOD MORNING GIRLS!" declares Daddy Potts in a cheerful but thundery voice. "TIME TO GET UP!" He shouts with a wicked, gleam in his eye as he continues to make a tremendous racket with his very large spoon and an even bigger pot. "GOOD MORNING DADDY POTTS", I laughed as I came out of the bathroom. "Good Morning", he yelled back, as a trail of miserable groans erupted from the bedrooms. "THERE WILL BE ANOTHER ROUND OF ENTERTAINMENT IN TWO MINUTES", Potts boomed, as he tramped noisily up the stairs.

There was no need for any more "entertainment". I guess his performance was just too much for them. Everyone hurried upstairs. None to happy, I might add. Potts and I grinned. Maybe they were just jealous of his talents. I wasn't actually grinning, I confess, it was more of a smirk. I was indulging in some extremely pleasurable thoughts. Revenge of the best kind. Seven eager children got up bright and early the next morning fully armed with pots and pans, crept, on silent feet, into the bedroom and surrounded our sleeping Daddy's bed. With stifled giggles we nodded to each other... chaos erupted as we yelled "GOOD MORNING DAD!!!" And the three younger ones jumped crazily on the bed!!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Tom's Cute Clay Creations

Here's one of the many clay figurines, inspired by Willow People, Tom has made. They are even cute from the back! She made several for some special folks that you can see here, here, and here. And one more here. I'm not sure she's forgiven me for giving her only 4 days to make 7 sets!! All I can say is, Money Talks.

We almost crossed paths in the middle of the night when she didn't finish until 3:30am and I got up to go to Texas at 4am and found all seven packages on the table, wrapped and ready to go. What a daughter!!

Poetic Narration on Albert Marrin's Stalin

A Child of Hell

A child of hell was born to man
Akin to mud
He would follow Satan's dream
With hellish laughter his eyes would gleam
For he'd make all demons scream
For love of blood

He ruled the land of Russia
With only death
He had no heart at all
Starved his people, made them crawl
Made them cannibals, else they fall
With dying breath

He never let his people
Vote or choose
For only he knew what was right
And disagree if you might
But you'd die because he'd fight
For his views

Who was this living terror
With ready gun?
Stalin was his horrid name
He mocked God and held no shame
And tortured Christians for a game
He thought was fun

In torrents fell a river
Of Heaven's tears
And the earth, it cringed and quivered
And begged to be delivered
From this man of blood, it shivered,
Through these years


Our nature-loving SmokeyBear grew these sunflowers in his own part of the garden. He had a watermelon plant too, but Mr. Potts didn't notice it while passing through on the lawn mower... oops! Well, SmokeyBear learned a valuable lesson about keeping your plants weeded. And he couldn't get too upset since a couple of weeks before, thinking he was doing such a good job weed-eating, he chopped down my newly transplanted, carefully babied, Black-eyed Susans that should be blooming around the deck about now...sniff, sniff.

Wonderful Plastic Crates

It doesn't take much to thrill me, I admit. When I came home from Staples excited about my new gray plastic crates, I got that "There she goes again!" look from my children. There is just something about organizing books, making schedules, buying new school supplies that gets the blood moving and I get excited. Even one of my daughter's friends, who was over last night, noticed the gleam in my eye as I quietly transferred books from the library to these nifty cubicles in my room. Now I have our official "school books" upstairs and organized by years and we are ready to start school next week.