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.

Ambleside Online Texas Conference

There have been many narrations given about the Amblesdie Conference. You can read all about it here. It's been fun to read about everyone's experiences and what they came away with. I'll add my two cents to the stash....

Someone has already mentioned their surprise at how different each of the advisory members were from each other. Believe it or not, this fact was actually the best part of the conference for me. The reason their differences mean so much to me is that it was obvious that they loved and respected each other, and that is not so easy to find these days. Many people look for “like-minded” families to be with, and while I can appreciate that desire/need, I appreciate even more when people learn to put the important things first and put away all of the little (and big) doctrinal differences that often interfere with real relationships.

It was obvious that none of the advisory women were attempting to encourage anyone to “be just like them”. Each of them went out of her way to try to uplift those in attendance, to encourage them and meet them right where they were. They did everything they could to release people from the bondages that they so often put themselves under and gave “permission” for them to do what works for their own families. They each tried to show that they were not perfect, not some object to be put on a pedestal and admired from afar but just mothers who loved their children and are willing to lay their lives down for them, no matter how imperfect the offering is.

Sure, there were highlights for me: Leslie taking me back to the first PUO days when there were only about 20 of us, Donna-Jean as Charlotte Mason, Wendi’s comparison between the real Heidi and an abridged “that’s-a-wicked-book-Mommy” version, Lynn’s “Wickham at 2:00” statement, Karen’s advice to “put the big rocks in first” and many more that have already been mentioned by others. But what struck me in a more profound way was that all around me, Kingdom-work was going on. Everywhere from young girls serving others with cheerful hearts and all the behind the scenes work that makes a conference like this successful to very shy people getting up in front of everyone and giving of themselves when it’s not easy. And all of this to promote a service that is freely given, with nothing taken in return for all of the countless hours poured into not just creating it, but maintaining it too.

I saw and experienced love.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

ffjjddkk ffrr jjuu ffrrjjuu ...Etc.

Wow! I'm so excited about this family blog. I love to write, especially when I know that it will be read, and I'm pretty much a looser when it comes to typing.... SO.... now I have great incentive to write therefore I will get lots of typing practice!!! The main reason for my looserness is that I rarely tortured myself by spending countless, dull hours on our typing program. Oh I was dutiful at first but typing..... aa;; ssll ddkk ffjj ..... Etc. for so long turns my brain to mush and makes me grouchy, especially when my eyeballs start going in circles and my behind starts melting into the chair. It's never made sense to me but my sister, PearlKeeper, never seemed to have these symptoms. She would merrily type away at those nonsense words making better scores all the time. CONGRATULATIONS! you typed ... ffjjddkk ffrr jjuu ffrrjjuu ... etc. at 56 word per minute. This seemed to make her happy, in a very discontented way, and she would try again to beat her own score. "Well," I thought "she can have her fun and be the best typist in all of typedom. It's all good to me... I'm going to write in my journal." Anyway I am excited for this typing practice. It makes me put some thought into my writing. People can actually read it!!! I pray it makes you, o reader, smile, laugh, cry or at least helps you to have a true understanding of the thoughts that I attempt to convey to you. I must go now. MamaLion needs my help and she is telling me that I'm taking too long. I know what she is thinking since it has been stated to me more than once "If only you would practice like your sister." :)
Till next time!!!!!!!