Friday, December 29, 2006

Zoology 2

This week we were set to begin our study of "swimming creatures" with Apologia's Zoology 2 book. I printed off all of the notebook pages yesterday and got each boys notebook all ready. They designed and colored the cover to their notebooks. How cool is it that a young man from church offered to take SmokeyBear and whoever else wanted to go to Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg today!!! Mr. Potts and Tigger went along too. What great inspiration as we begin this study. Isn't it great when something unplanned comes together like that?! And in addition we are going to have an opportunity to spend some time on the Florida coast in January and again, when we will probably be at the end of our study, in September to the South Carolina coast. Maybe I'll even make use of my new watercolors while studying marine life and attempt to discover some deeply hidden talent that seems so abundant in my children.
I love life science - just don't force me to learn about electricity, magnets, sound, inertia or anything like that. Yuk. Mr. Potts can handle that department.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

How One Thing Leads to Another

I recently ordered the CD from Sound Word and the children and I re-listened to Ranald Macaulay speak at the Charlotte Mason conference this past summer. When I heard Mr. Macaulay speak at the conference and then later, when he sat at my table during breakfast, I was touched in a deep way. Something in his person, not just in what he said. It has been hard to put into words. There was something gentle but confrontational about him. He just seemed the type of person with whom I could spend many comfortable and interesting hours.
Listening again to this lecture led us to investigate L'Abri, an organization that Ranald Macaulay's in-laws Francis and Edith Schaeffer started, though I don't recall him ever mentioning it. I just knew there was that connection. And the lady I went to the conference with mentioned her stays at some of the L'Abri locations and said that what I admired in Ranald was commonly found in the people of L'Abri. Now, our older daughters are planning on having some involvement with L'Abri this winter and we are all excited to see where this will lead.
I ordered some of the books that were suggested reading for those coming to stay at L'Abri and one of those is L'Abri by Edith Schaeffer. I'm about two thirds of the way through it, trying to finish it quickly so the girls can have a chance to read it too. I am really struck with the ordinariness of their experience. Ordinary when one is experiencing Christianity that is. I like that she talks about the common daily tasks and life's hardships as well as the 'spiritual' experiences of the many people they have touched. So far, this is one of the quotes I like best.
"It hasn't been, nor is it, a life of any kind of 'ease', but it has been tremendously exciting to see the reality of communication with God, and to see the reality of His replies, His answers, in the realm of material things, and in the realm of the minds and hearts of human beings."
Isn't that a good description of life with God? It is a description I can definitely relate to. This book inspires one to pray and trust God for answers, and to remember that sometimes the answers are a series of seemingly small or insignificant connections. And sometimes when it looks like something is going wrong, it is exactly going right in the providence of God. We don't always see the connectivity until we look backwards. As Edith says in this book several times, "Luck? Chance? Coincidence?" I don't think so.
I think when I finish L'Abri, I will read another one of her books that I already have, called What Is A Family? while I wait for the girls to read the titles on the suggested reading list. Then I'll steal them too.

"The Best Christmas Ever!!!"

SmokyBear has been wanting a German shepherd for quite a while. We told him he would have to save at least half of the money needed to buy one before we would look. As Christmas drew near he was very close to having enough. My mom called about an ad in the paper by someone selling puppies and one of the girls and I snuck out to check them out. We ended up putting a deposit on an adorable female puppy and the owners agreed to hold her until Christmas. The cost would be shared between us, his uncle who drew his name and SmokyBear's own savings.
Then the money SmokyBear had began to tempt him to buy other things. He began to waver on his decision to buy a dog that was that was so expensive. I had a talk with him and explained that he would have this dog for many years most likely and he would be glad in the long run if he bought the dog he really wanted. And I told him he would have many more opportunities over the next few years to earn more money working for his dad after school. He agreed and became very excited about looking for his dog. I told him we would have to wait until after the holidays to talk about it any more.
Christmas morning came and the puppy was in a pet cage in our van, parked out of sight up near my parents' house where we were staying. That night we made our plan of how we would give the puppy to him. When his turn came, his uncle began looking under the tree for Smokybear's present, asking my sister where the "other" present was since he didn't see it under the tree. She replied that it must still be in their van and I volunteered to go get it.
As I was coming down the stairs I called, "I found it!" The whole way walking down the stairs with the puppy in my arms, SmokyBear was looking down at the floor. He didn't look up until I was right next to him. My sister caught the exact moment on the camera.
He cried out, "What??? Oh my gosh! Is it...?" There were tears in his eyes. In his own words he was "freaked out". I think he was in a state of shock.
He was not able to contain his smile, which is very uncharacteristic of him.

He even crawled into the cage, since the puppy was not allowed on the carpet, so he could be with her while the others continued to open their gifts.
There is just something about a boy and a dog. It has been wonderful to watch him take care of her. The responsibility for all of her care falls on him. He even gets up with her several times a night to take her potty and he hasn't complained a bit. She really is a wonderful puppy. She already comes when you call her and fetches the ball. Everyone is in love with her. He named her Tinsel.
According to him it was the best Christmas ever. What he can't understand yet is that watching him with this dog is the best Christmas present for me too.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Baby Joseph

More pictures of Baby Joseph as promised....

And for the grande finale, a picture with one of his "big" sisters

Our Christmas Tea Time

Our Christmas tea was planned for 2:30 on Thursday. Our invitations extended to The Cousins and some cousins of The Cousins. We bought some special Christmas teas: Sugarplum something-or-other, Gingerbread Spice, Candy Cane Lane and Nutcracker Sweet. I tried to set these aside so they would be new for the tea party, but with the Christmas lights and carols earlier in the week I just couldn't resist bringing out the holiday tea. Thankfully, we still had quite a bit left. I made the sugar cookies with some help from TheLittlestPrincess and then gave each child a plate of cookies to decorate. They did a beautiful job, though some, for artistic purposes, went a little overboard with the icing. :)
We brought out the new Christmas table cloth, lit the candles and set the table. Each of the children had to bring a Christmas poem to read. These were printed off of the computer and then each one was decorated. Though I made attempts to keep it sophisticated and civilized, bursts of rhythmic clapping were led by The Aunt after each poem was read. She knows how to keep it fun for the boys. God did not make a mistake giving her a 5:2 ratio of boys and me a 5:2 ratio of girls.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

11 Year Old Phenomenon

I saw this site and I was totally in shock. This 11 year old girl has to be the most amazing artist of all time! She's also using it to glorify God, and wow, it's incredible! I wish I was more like her. Every one of her paintings has very deep symbolism. She also writes a lot of poetry that describes some of what they mean. You can read more about it and check out her site here.

Forgiving vs. Forgetting

Sometimes people equate forgiving with forgetting and they assume if you don't forget the problem or sin and act like it never happened then you truly have not forgiven. I have pondered this quite a bit, especially after the comments on Day of Atonement post, and here are some of my thoughts on the issue.

Many scriptures come to mind that instruct us on what our heart attitudes and behavior should be towards others, and most of us accept that Christianity requires believers to walk in love and forgiveness. Like this one:

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:31-32

Beating people over the head with their past faults or sins is not love and if we remember to treat people the way we would want to be treated, our behavior would be self-regulated. But there are also many scriptures that instruct us to not associate with certain kinds of people. Proverbs is full of warnings: do not even go near the door of the adulterous woman, "a companion of fools will suffer harm", and many others. First Corinthians chapter five instructs us not to associate with immoral "so-called" brothers. Jesus had many harsh things to say to people from time to time and we know it was not because he lacked forgiveness. I do not believe these verses contradict each other but that both can be mutually acted out.

Another example of this principle can be seen in 1 Samuel in the story of David, the man with a heart after God. David flees from Saul after learning of Saul's intentions. He even removes his parents out of the country to keep them safe until he says what God will do for him. Saul pursues David in order to kill him. Several incidents occur where Saul seems to repent and acknowledges David is in the right. David does not run and embrace Saul, forgetting all that has happened and returning home with him. Instead he keeps away. It is not because he is bitter and angry and harboring unforgiveness. It is reasonable to suppose that he just did not trust Saul and did not believe it was God's will to place himself at risk. Verbal repentance does not mandate restored trust. When he finally hears of Saul's death, he genuinely mourns. After all danger is past, he inquires of the Lord and returns.

The principle of forgiveness is clear - the forgiveness we receive is directly correlated with the forgiveness we give. But there is not black and white line that helps us to know when it is time to forget and trust. Sometimes all we can do is trust the Lord and pray for wisdom and mercy. One thing is clear, we must not let ourselves be driven by anger, bitterness or vengeance. We each must examine our own hearts and works (Galatians 6:4a) and continue to seek after God and His ways.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Such A Glowing Review

AdventureQueen is applying for a job as camp counselor this summer. One of the letters of recommendation must come from a friend. So she asked her best friend to write one. Tonight we received this hilarious reply in our email box. (Thanks for a good laugh, Rachel!) We especially like this part: "I have never seen her do anything wild or crazy." Yeah, right. That reminds me, I need to tell the story of her punching her uncle in the face recently. That's a little crazy, even if he did request it.
To whom it may concern,
I have been asked by the applicant (Adventure Queen) to provide a letter of recommendation as to her character and spiritual well being, so that you can consider whether or not she has the attributes necessary for placement as a counselor at xxxxxx.
I will begin by saying that I have known AdventureQueen for nearly fourteen years, and consider her to be one of my best friends. Do not think, however, that this will bias my opinion of her in any way. I am fully capable of taking a step back and viewing her life as a whole. By doing this I will present you with an accurate and non-prejudice record of her actions. Having established this as fact, I would like to introduce to you, the AdventureQueen that I know.
For being a mere nineteen years of age, AdventureQueen has shown herself to be a most mature and wise person. She is the perfect picture of everything that a young woman should be. Her wonderful personality is the perfect mix of love, joy, peace, kindness, selflessness, strength, helpfulness, happiness, intelligence, and brilliance. I have yet to find anyone else that I know who has attained such a perfect combination. She has the most wonderful artistic talents and tastes, which she shares with all of those around her. The extent of her sweet tempered personality can not be set, it reaches out to everyone she comes into contact with. And yet, in all this she manages to never be overbearing or intimidating. The shyest child quickly warms to her, and the most adverse soon realizes that she only wants what is best for them.
Her sense of humor is immaculate. The crude and crass jokes of today are impossible to utter in her presence. She inspires only pure and good things. I have never seen her do anything wild or crazy. Where others girls would trip into goofiness and silliness, (perhaps from staying up too late?) she is the immovable column of strength and stability. Do not think, however, that this would cause her to be priggish or stuffy. Indeed, it is quite to the contrary. She is a delight to be with, and every moment spent with her is spent in enjoyment. She never thinks of herself, merely of others. And the delight that she has in serving them only adds to her other perfections. Indeed, the more I contemplate of her character, the more I am certain that I would in no way change it. What need is there to alter what cannot be improved upon?
Having shown you thus, like an open book, the life and doings of AdventureQueeen, I would ask that you deeply consider taking her for part of your summer staff. There is nothing that I would not trust her to do. She is fully capable of anything that you would require of her, and is therefore, perhaps, already set a notch above the others. Do not hesitate to put your faith in her. She will not disappoint your expectations!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Measure of Success

Congratulations to our PearlKeeper on her ACT score of 25! This was her first time taking any standardized test because I've never been a fan of standardized testing, mainly because I don't believe it is always an accurate measure of scholastic aptitude.
The especially rewarding news for this history-and-literature-loving-homeschooling mama is that she scored 33 on the English section. This comes from almost no formal English lessons, but instead copying, dictation and narrating and hours and hours of reading a wide variety of books. Of course, she has always been an extraordinary student so I'm sure she would have done well no matter which method we used, but still it is evidence to most people that these methods do work. And sadly, when it comes down to credibility, it seems that test scores are what carry the weight.
She plans to take the test again in the next few months and in the meantime work on her science score and also try to bring up her math score. And she wants to take the writing part next time too. I expect she'll do even better because she only spent a short amount of time studying before she took it the first time. Next fall she is thinking of applying to a nearby university while continuing to pursue her artistic endeavors, both in college and professionally.

A New Branch of Shadybrook Acres

Kezzi has started her own blog here. Go on over and check it out. Leave a comment or two while you are there. She'll be thrilled to have you stop by for a visit.

Our State Geograpy Study

We have just begun our study of United States geography. One great tool we recently bought was Name That State game. We are using this along with the book It Happened In America: True Stories From the Fifty States. We are going to use information from this book to add our own homemade cards to the Name That State game so we will review information we have learned and make the game more challenging. Each of the Shadybrook scholars will be required to know how to spell each of the states and capitols. I also found this website for recipes from each state. The Alaskan Salmon Bake with Pecan Crunch Coating was very good. Our next experiment will be Alabama Chocolate Pecan Jumbo Christmas Fudge Pie. I'm normally not much of a hand-on type of teacher but I'm making an exception in this case!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

He's Here!

Here is a picture of the happy mother snuggled down in bed with Joseph Peter, who is only a couple of hours old. He weighs in at 7 lbs. 8 oz and measures 20 3/4 inches long. His little eyes are already dark and he has a little bit of dark hair.
PearlKeeper and I went over about 2pm and played cards with Lori between her contractions. The midwife broke her water around 6:30 and the baby was born by 9:30. She had a difficult time pushing him out since he was posterior and had his arm wrapped around his chest and stuck under his chin. The midwife worked very hard too. We were all relieved to see him enter the world and take his first breath.
My niece and nephews came over for a quick peek at their new little brother before they went back to my house and went to bed down for the night. The only one missing was baby Sarah because she was already asleep at my house. It was a beautiful sight to see their delighted faces as they looked on the newest addition to the family.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Grandmother's Hope Chest Series

PearlKeeper is about to begin work illustrating the fourth book in the Grandmother's Hope Chest series. If any of our friends would like copies of any of the first three books to give as Christmas presents, you can check with us because PearlKeeper still has quite a few copies left and some kits. She would be glad to sell you signed copies. I also noticed they are becoming available through amazon. We are very excited for her to continue this work. Our own LittlestPrincess will be the model for Lucie.

The New Nephew is Almost Here!

My sister is about to go into labor any time. The midwife just checked her this morning and she's almost to 4cm with the head down in a good position. A few days ago she was almost at a 2, the head was high and his little hand was on his head. We are really excited and relieved that everything is looking so promising for a fairly quick and uncomplicated birth. PearlKeeper and I will be there awaiting the little guy's first entrance into the world and we can't wait!!! I'll post the news and pictures as soon as I can.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Flowers From Friends

Flowers for PearlKeeper from our dear friends in Missouri. We thought they would like to see how pretty their gift turned out to be. We only wish we could create a scratch and sniff picture. They smell so good!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Christmas Parade

Here is a picture of some of the girls waiting in the cold to see the Christmas parade. Afterwards we went shopping and a girl stopped them to ask if they were triplets. They thought up a funny routine they could go through next time that would leave the poor inquirer thoroughly confused or else leave him with serious reinforcement of the idea of "dumb blondes".
Stranger: Are you all triplets?
1st daughter: Yeah, we are.
2nd daughter: We are? Are you sure?
1st daughter: Yes, remember last year we shared the same birthday cake?
3rd daughter: No, that was the year before. Last year we all had our own.
2nd daughter: Yes, we definitely are.
1st daughter: Wait a minute. No. Let's ask Mom.
Then the routine continues where I act confused over the issue saying I did have quite a few children close together, but I did not remember giving birth to three babies all at the same time. And on and on. You see how silly things can get.

TheLittlestPrincess and Tigger were on the float for the crisis pregnancy center, where AdventureQueen volunteers. I tried to get a good picture but I was too self-conscious to keep walking along with the float.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Nativity Story

Since our church is now an hour away, some of our sunday afternoons are spent wandering around town waiting to go to an evening service. To kill time, we went to see the nativity story. It was really incredible. That was actually the first time I ever cried over a movie. It didn't seem like the kind of movie that many people would get emotional over, but it just hit me funny. It wasn't near as sad as some movies I've seen, so I don't really know why. I cried at the part when Jesus was born, but the whole thing was moving. I really recommend anyone seeing it. It was accurate to the story and there wasn't a whole lot added. It also wasn't as violent as it might could've been, so that was good. The whole thing just really made you feel for the people in it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

History Performance in March

For those of you who might be interested, we have a History:My Deliverer performance scheduled for March 16-18th. Of course, we'd love to have our out-of-town friends and family come. I'm sure we could find a way to put any and all of you up.

It's been quite a while since we've performed this so we are all excited to have it up and running again. The kids have all improved so much over the last year and a half, I can't wait to see the new show!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with more food than I have ever seen in one house! It was the longest I have ever seen everyone stay and hang out together. I couldn't begin to list all of the food. Since I'm not much of a traditional Thanksgiving food lover, I really appreciated my niece's husband making some of his family's favorites, like beef tenderloin with horseradish sauce! The girls got involved in a fun poker game with their cousins and we could barely drag them away. It was a lot of fun and everything was perfect.
The hosts invited a neat family from South Africa and I had a nice time talking to them. They had never celebrated Thanksgiving and had only seen it celebrated on films so they felt like they were on a movie set. Since they were considering homeschooling, I got my fix by giving my views on that and encouraging them with all of the wonderful benefits of home life. My kids say it gives me more of a rush than coffee does.
The day after we went to a exotic animal drive thru ranch where the animals come up and eat out of the purchased buckets of feed. Ostriches, emu, pot-bellied pigs, water buffalo and other various types of deer and cattle-like animals were everywhere. Some of them were a little aggressive. Others were quite gentle but slobbered all over the truck windows and sides. We had about ten people in the back of the pick-up truck but I stayed out-of-reach inside the cab. TheLittlestPrincess loves animals but was a little intimidated when an emu poked his head inside at her and she decided to keep her hand on the button that rolls the window up.
Saturday Mr. Potts and I went for a walk down to the creek and relaxed on the sandy bank. We saw many signs of deer and some raccoon tracks. It was a beautiful day.
Our stay was so nice that even my two home bodies, Bookworm and LittlestPrincess, were not ready to come home.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bedtime is Getting Way Out of Hand Around Here

I hear what sounds like a hen-party going on downstairs when the girls are supposed to be getting ready for bed - shrieks of laughter, music, banging doors- so I go down to put the muscle on them. Gone are the days of throwing fits and loosing my temper about the lack of promptness to obey or the condition of the basement. I try to muster it up but instead I start laughing at them and end up flopping on someone's bed and before you know it I'm a accomplice to the crime. I know I should be tough, but I just can't do it once I set foot in the party zone. They are just too funny now and it's just too much doggone fun down there! Heaven help us.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Good Point

Don't you love it when you find that someone has put your feelings on a matter (a pet peeve to be more specific) into perfect words and saves you the trouble of fumbling around trying to make some feeble attempt at expressing yourself? Well that's how I feel about this post at the Common Room: Imaginary Numbers, Real Children .
A couple of quotes to give you a taste:
"Do you think parents should have the right not to education their children? If you're a homeschooler you have heard that question or some variation on it from somebody advocating greater restrictions on homeschoolers. Often it will be accompanied with a sort of backhanded compliment something like this, "I know you'll educate your children, but what about the parents who won't?"
"Those who are truly concerned about uneducated children should focus their attention on the institutions producing the largest number of illiterate children- public schools."
There's lots more in between these two quotes. Go read the rest.

Wild Berry Fun

The boys (Smokeybear, Tigger, and their three cousins) and the Littlestprincess all built a few tepees on top of our hill. These have provided great entertainment for the last few days and I have seen them out the window every afternoon dashing back and forth. Smiling to myself, I can clearly remember the times I spent my afternoon happily playing indians on the hill with my sisters.
This particulair afternoon I had finished my school and was (weird as it sounds) not in the mood to read and was wishing I still got the same enjoyment out of playing indians. Well ,I decided it wouldn't hurt to see what they were up to so I donned a coat and set off for the top of the hill. When I got there they were all gathered in a circle and cracking up. They called to me and I came over.
I looked a little closer and I saw that Smokeybear had a stick and was mashing it up and down in a container and it was making a sick squelching noise. I looked into the container and it was a mass of purple globiness. They had squished up some berries and were delighted with it. I couldn't help but get involved and immediately started suggesting more ingredients. They added leaves, water, more berries, charcoal from the fire, and water. This was our lovely result.
They ended up showing me their teepees and I was brought back to the times when it was a hill with girls running back and forth making pies with wild berries and mud. It's too bad we have to grow up! :)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Christians and Public Schools

Several years back when Dr. James Dobson recommended Christians make a mass exodus out of the public school systems, I remember thinking, "Finally, he's seen the light!" I hoped with such an influential man standing against the agenda of the liberals in America's public schools, that many parents would wake up and realize things are much worse than when they were in school.
Talking with my mother the other night, it was interesting to compare her school experiences with mine and then take into consideration what is going on today. The downfall is obvious. There's enough information this topic to choke a horse, with evidence that should make any true Christian cringe and cry out to God for our nation. I live in a small town in the South (Remember the Bible Belt?) and I've heard enough stories from locals, let alone news stories from across the nation, that make me willing to go to war to keep my children from those kinds of experiences.
Here's a couple of posts on the topic with enough links to keep you busy reading for a while: Spunky's post and Biblical Womanhood And if you really feel ambitious check out John Taylor Gatto's site and read among other things the online copy of Underground History of American Education.
This is serious business folks and our children are the battleground.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Baby Sarah

Our niece, Baby Sarah, turned 1 last month. She's growing fast. But we do not despair! We are only weeks away from another baby, a nephew this time! Now we will have two to fight over. The past week or so she's been learning to walk.
Here she is with one of her cousins, who happens to be her most adoring fan!

Tommy's First Speaker

Pieces Suitable for Little Boys to Recite
Baby Is A Sailor
Baby is a sailor boy,
Swing, cradle, swing;
Sailing is the sailor's joy,
Swing, cradle, swing.
Snowy sails and precious freight,
Swing, cradle, swing.
Baby's captain, mother's mate,
Swing, cradle, swing.
Bird's Nests
If ever I see,
On bush or tree,
Young birds in a pretty nest,
I must not, in play,
Steal the young birds away,
To grieve their mother's breast.
My mother, I know,
Would sorrow so,
Should I be stolen away;
So I'll speak to the birds,
In my softest words,
Nor hurt them in my play.
Boys Wanted
Boys of spirit, boys of will,
Boys of muscle, brain and power,
Fit to cope with anything,-
These are wanted every hour.
Not the weak and whining drones,
Who all troubles magnify;
Not the watchword of "I can't,"
But the nobler one, "I'll try."
Do whate'er you have to do
With a true and earnest zeal;
Bend your sinews to the task,
"Put your shoulder to the wheel."
Though your duty may be hard,
Look not on it as an ill;
If it be an honest task,
Do it wil an honest will.
In the workshop, on the farm,
At the desk, where'er you be,
From your future efforts, boys,
Comes a nation's destiny.
Did Not Pass
For Many a Good Boy
"So, John, I hear you did not pass;
You were the lowest in your class,
Got not a prize of merit,
But grumbling now is no avail;
Just tell me how you came to fail,
With all your sense and spirit?"
"Well, sir, I missed, 'mong other things,
The list of Egypt's shepherd kings
(I wonder who does know it.)
An error of three years I made
In dating England's first crusade;
And, as I am no poet,
"I got Euripides all wrong,
And could not write a Latin song;
And as for Roman history,
With Hun and Vandal, Goth and Gaul
And Gibbon's weary 'Rise and Fall',
"Twas all a hopeless mystery.
"But, father, do not fear or sigh
If 'Cram' does proudly pass me by,
And pedagogues ignore me;
I've common sense, I've will and health,
I'll win my way to honest wealth;
The world is all before me.
"And though I'll never be a Grecian,
Know Roman laws or art Phoenician,
Or sing of love and beauty,
I'll plow, or build, or sail, or trade,
And you need never be afraid
But that I'll do my duty."
-Mary E. Burnett

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Science Labs

In the early years of homeschooling I used to buy fun looking science curriculum with pre-packaged supplies to do all of the accompanying experiments. They looked like so much fun but for some reason I never had the heart to do the labs. I would always put it off, preferring more literary science books. Being the junkie that I am, I accumulated all kinds of experiment books and supplies, thinking surely this time I would make myself do it. The girls were never very interested either. Finally the boys came along. They have been begging for years to do "experiments". I tried to dangle a carrot in front of them by saying, "As soon as you can read well enough, you can experiment until your heart is content!"
Well, that day has come. Today I gave them time to play with our science experiment books and oodles of science supplies. They had a grand time. Setting it all out for them like a great buffet and letting them help themselves to hours of fun worked wonderfully. I think we will have a new cold-rainy-day activity for the winter days ahead! For an extra bonus, next time I'll have to invite their cousins over to join in the fun.
This is the series that seemed to be the most popular one of the day.

Cool Composition Books

Hop on over to Bona Vita Rusticand Est and check out Tim's Mom's handmade composition books here and here. I love this idea! We usually use store-bought composition notebooks but one thing I don't like is how many pages are in them. We never fill one up before the end of the year and so they get put on the shelf half full because we all like a new one for the new school year. These can be made much smaller and therefore better suited to be used in a topical way. I can't wait to run to Staples today for supplies!

Friday, November 03, 2006


These puppies, along with another litter mate, showed up at Mr. Pott's business and of course, they just had to be brought home. We found out they belonged to the neighbors across the road and they let us keep these two. The first one is Tigger's and the second one belongs to TheLittlestPrincess.
This brings our total of dogs up to four. I've lost track of how many cats we have. I think the cat population is finally under control with all of the females spayed now. Needless to say, we never even see mice. SmokeyBear is begging for a German shepherd puppy so I'm suspecting when he earns some of the money, we will be adding one more dog to the mix.
Five dogs and 8 or so cats may seem outrageous to some but with seven kids and twenty-six acres it doesn't seem so bad, especially since only the westie and two of the cats are allowed in the house. (I have had to be firm with my crazy mother who has tried to talk me into making our huge Great Pyrenees a house dog! I can't imagine!) The indoor cats go in and out and don't even have or need a litter box. They actually meow at us and run to the door like a dog when they need to go out. Sometimes they just sit patiently by the door and wait until someone goes out.
We lived in town in a smallish house when I was a kid so one dog and one cat were the maximum amount of pets allowed. I remembered longing for a German Shepherd or Siberian Husky when I was a young. I wanted to raise and train it myself. I even checked out books on dog training from the library and put the methods to practice on a twelve year old cocker spaniel. Of course the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" was recited to me during the beginning of my attempts. We had to guard the door when we went in and out to prevent her from dashing out and disappearing down the street and she had to be put out on a chain to go potty. If you tried to walk her on the leash, she would pull as hard as possible, dragging you down the street the entire way. She went from that to being able to walk down the street without a leash, heeling at my side, stopping and sitting when I stopped. I trained her to be able to stay in one place until I walked away and called her to me then she would come immediately in front of me and sit. I never got to practice training the dog of my dreams.
After I was married, I actually did buy a Siberian Husky, but after having children to love and train, I just didn't have the desire to put all of that effort into a dog. Instead he just seemed like a hassle and when my babies were crawling around on the floor picking up pieces of dog hair, I was not happy. Having a flea on my baby did it for me. I didn't want indoor dogs with babies any more. When he disappeared one day, I was actually relieved.
Experiencing such intense longing as a child makes it really hard for me to say no to my children when it comes to pets, especially now that we don't have any babies or toddlers. Mr. Potts is no help. He grew up with such unusual pets as a baby raccoon and a squirrel among other things - and they did not live out in the country. Hopefully, my younger children won't know about this post so they won't try harder to exploit this weakness. :)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Take the Time to Enjoy Life and Your Children

"The women - they were even more incomprehensible. They spent the long hours behind screened doors and windows (**my note: More like glass doors and windows thanks to the modern convenience of air conditioning. How many ever even have the windows open to feel the fresh air?), washing the same dishes and sweeping the same floors day after day. They, too, never raised their eyes to the blue sky outside, nor even to the crimson roses that peeped in at the window. They seemed rather to be looking always for dirt, yet not pleased when they found it - especially if it had been tracked in on the heel of a small boy's shoe!"
----from Just David
Fellow mothers, let us not be like this description! This reminded me of the Free Pass that comes once a month (which was today) in the daily email digest from Julie at , which I've posted here for your encouragement:
Skip your other commitments today and play games or take a field trip or go on a hike or have a picnic or paint a bedroom or dance like a teenager to your favorite CDs....
Games: Any game will do. You can check out a list of language games on Brave Writer: http://bravewriter. com/BWL/bwlgames .html
Field trips:
Art museum
Children's museum
Local guitar shop or music store (just walk around trying out instruments)Movie theater (see something funny on the big screen in the middle of the day; buy popcorn)
Farmer's Market
Coffee House for hot chocolate and muffins (bring along cards or checkers to play)
Get outside:
Go on a hike
Go to the beach (if you are lucky enough to have one, be sure to go often! I miss the ocean....)
Take the dog to a new park
Paint the deck
Visit a botanical gardens
If it is rainy and cold, or you are snowed in, or your car broke down, here's what to do if you choose to stay home:
Play cards
Light a fire and roast marshmallows
Drink hot chocolate
Make an indoor picnic with blankets and little sandwiches
Play video games on the computer or X Box, Game Cube, whatever you have
Paint something - windows, paper, votive candle holders, old chairs
Make brownies (they smell good)
And dance. :)
Your free pass comes once a month, so be sure to use it! :)

Tommy's First Speaker

Pieces Suitable for Little Boys to Recite
In alphabetical order
A Boy's Dream
Nine grenadiers with bayonets on their guns;
Nine bakers' baskets with hot cross buns;
Nine brown elephants standing in a row;
Nine new velocipedes - good ones to go;
Nine Kinckerbocker suits with buttons all complete;
Nine pairs of skates with straps for the feet;
Nine little drummer boys beating on their drums;
Nine fat Aldermen sitting on their thumbs;
Nine times running-I dreamt it all plain.
With bread and cheese for supper I could dream it all again.
A Little Boy
Where have they gone to- the little boys,
With natural manners and natural joys?
Who cherish their youth-at least till they're ten,
And wait for their manhood ere playing at men?
Little old men in plenty I find,
Boorish in manners and sensual in mind:
Who express great contempt for "only a girl,"
Spending hours on a mustache too honest to curl.
Little old beaux with gloves and a cane,
Aping their elders, their manners, their mien;
Little old fops, incipient dudes,
Who already suffer from "states" and "moods."
Once, in the beautiful long ago,
There were little boys I used to know,
Kind in their manners, real boys in their play,
Who whistled and frolicked the livelong day.
Who liked the girls because they were "mates"-
Girls who ran races and climbed high gates-
Who never said, "Oh, only girls, don't you know?"
Or "this is the fashion," or this is the "go."
Oh, where are these dear little gentlemen now?
Could I find one I'd give him a bow:
I would place on his forehead a crown of pure gold,
And a gem-hilted sword in his right hand to hold.
I would place him then on a beautiful throne,
And call all the children their king to own.
A Manly, Loving Boy
He walks beside his mother,
And looks up in her face
With a glow of loving, joyous pride
And a truly royal grace;
He proudly waits upon her-
Would shield her without fear,
The boy who loves his mother well,
Her little cavalier.
To see no tears of sorrow
Upon her loving cheek,
To gain her sweet approving smile,
To hear her softly speak-
Ah, what in all this wide, wide world
Could be to him so dear,
The boys who loves his mother well,
Her little cavalier?
Look for that boy in the future
Among the good and true;
All blessings on the upward way
His feet shall still pursue!
Of robed and crowned and sceptered kings
He stands the royal peer,
The boy who loves his mother well,
Her noble cavalier.
An Old Hen
An old hen sat on turtle's eggs,
And she hatched out goslings three;
Two were turkeys with slender legs,
And one was a bumble bee.
"Very odd children for such a mother!"
Said all the hens to one another.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tommy's First Speaker for Little Boys and Girls

I bought this old (1885) little volume of poetry for children from the DHM from the Common Room. In case there are others looking for copywork, dictation or recitation pieces for their boys, I thought I'd share the poems here on our blog.
(**Update: I mistakenly thought these first few poems were from the "suitable for little boys" section but actually the first one is for little girls and the others are for both boys and girls. I will continue on with this project by posting the boys' poems first, then the girls', then the mixed ones. Sorry for the confusion.)
Each week I'll try to remember to post a few. I'm notorious for not finishing projects that I start because I forget about them but if I leave this little book by my computer, hopefully it will force me to think about it. If you print them out each week, you will eventually have the whole little volume yourself. Enjoy!
How Babies Grow
Baby wee, baby wee!
What does little baby see?
All among her pillows lying,
Never fretful, never crying;
Caper and crow, caper and crow!
That's the way that babies grow!
Baby fair, baby fair!
Rosy cheeks and curly hair,
Al among her pillows playing,
Little chubby hands displaying;
Caper and crow, caper and crow!
That's the way that babies grow!
"I Can" and "I Can't"
"I Can't" is a sluggard, too lazy to work,
From duty he shrinks, every task he will shirk;
No bread on his board, and no meal in his bag,
His house is a ruin, his coat is a rag.
"I Can" is a worker; he tills the broad fields,
And digs from the earth all the wealth that it yields;
The hum of his spindles begins with the light,
And the fires of his forges are blazing all night.
The Chickens
Said the first little chicken,
With a queer little squirm,
"I wish I could find
A fat little worm."
Said the next little chicken,
With an odd little shrug,
"I wish I could find
A fat little slug."
Said the third little chicken,
With a sharp little squeal,
"I wish I could find
Some nice yellow meal."
Said the fourth little chicken,
With a small sigh of grief,
"I wish I could find
A little green leaf."
Said the fifth little chicken,
With a faint little moan,
"I wish I could find
A wee gravel stone."
"Now, see here," said the mother,
From the green garden patch,
"If you want any breakfast,
Just come here and scratch."
God's Mark On All Things
There's not a leaf within the bower,
There's not a bird upon the tree,
There's not a dew-drop on the flower,
But bears the impress, Lord, of Thee.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

What I've Been Reading

Several titles by Randy Alcorn of Eternal Perspectives Ministries. So far I've completed Deadline, Safely Home and The Ishbane Conspiracy. I just started Dominion. They are the kind of books you just want to buy a thousand copies and pass them out to everyone you know. They are great reading for older teens and adults, providing a way to learn about things that you don't want to have to experience yourself in order to gain the benefits of understanding the issues.
The girls started reading them too. I gave Ishbane Conspiracy to Adventure Queen a day or two ago and she stayed up last night to finish it, telling me that everyone who has children should read it. When I looked up the website to post the link above, I saw a quote from someone saying exactly the same thing - that it should be required reading for every parent. Tom is finishing Deadline and has been raving to me of all she has learned about current social issues. I believe she is working on a post about it so I won't steal her thunder here.
Tom also is reading The Purity Principle and she said she would like to buy many copies to hand out to young people. It's small and easy to read and she felt like it made the case for staying pure very well using concrete examples from real people's lives.
The kids will probably be posting more about their thoughts on these books but I just couldn't wait to tell y'all to order these! You won't be sorry!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


We had a special gathering of women at our church Monday night and the topic was The Longing to be Beautiful. I think it was the best talk on beauty that I had ever heard. The speaker was a woman who has been through some hard things in her life and among them the diagnosis of epilepsy in her 3yo son, his death by the time he was four in a car accident (while she was on her way to church) and breast cancer. She had lost all of her hair and had to have her breasts removed. This caused her to really seek the Lord on what He thinks about beauty.
The first Scripture she shared was a very popular one when addressing the subject, but it had much more meaning coming from our speaker.
"Your adornment must not be merely external - braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God."
After sharing more Scriptures and personal testimony we spent some time in small group discussion at our table of about 8 women. Among the eight was one woman who had to wear a wig, another who had anorexia and another who had plastic sugery to eliminate 200lbs of weight but still struggled greatly with too much body fat. It was amazing to see these women open up the private details of their lives. My only complaint was that our time was cut short because it would have been nice to pray for some of them individually.
This event was instigated for the women of the church but I was so glad I brought my daughters, even though they were the only young people. They split us up at different tables, which was great because they all had plenty of opportunity to talk to other women. I am really looking forward to getting to know so many "beautiful" women. When we were driving home that night and discussing the message, BLOCHhead said the teenage girls need to hear that probably more than the women did. Desegregation is something we hope to encourage more because young girls sure could benefit from hearing the testimonies of older women! I was blessed to see how open they were to the girls coming. One lady who was in charge of a coming event for adults told us we all needed to come even though it was supposed to be for adults only. She said with a sly smile, "Well, if you show up, we won't be able to turn you away!" How nice and beautiful!
I'll close with the piece our speaker closed with.
Our Daily Bread "For His Eyes Only"
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see a lovely reflection? A handsome face" Or do you see a plain or unattractive countenance? We want to give those who behold us what my friend called an aesthetic blessing. But what about the beauty of holiness? Are others blessed by the beauty that flows through us from Christ?
A distinguished Bible scholar of the 19th century, J.B. Lightfoot, was described by one of his devoted students as "startlingly ugly: a stout little man with a grotesque figure and a squint." But that same student also said that Lightfoot ws "the best man I have ever encountered, and I say this deliberately after the experience of many years. In a day or two...his face appeared the most beautiful and lovable thing imaginable.
When Stephen was brought before the Jewish council for interrogation, "they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke" (Acts 6:10). As he was begin accused, they "saw his face as the face of an angel" (v. 15). By God's transforming grace, we too can have a daily beauty in our lives. As we walk prayerfully in the Spirit, our faces increasingly reflect the beauty of Jesus. -- Vernon C. Grounds

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


The dearest spot of earth to me
Is home, sweet home,
The fairy land I've longed to see
Is home, sweet home,
There how charm'ed the sense of hearing,
There where hearts are so endearing
All the world is not so cheering
As home, sweet home.
I've taught my heart the way to prize,
My home, sweet home,
I've learned to look with lover's eyes
On home, sweet home,
There where vows are truly plighted,
There where hearts are so united
All the world besides I've slighted
For home sweet home.
By W.T. Wrighton
Everywhere I may go in this life and everywhere I've been I find that no place is or could be more dear to me than my home. All the friends I have and all the friends I will have, none could possibly mean as much to me as my family.
Our house is not especially beautiful, there are books that sometimes litter the couches and shoes by the door and peace is not always present; brothers running through the house and sometimes barging into my room to ask for help with this or wanting to show me a new toy. But I would not give up the special time of helping a little brother (and yes even when its a inconvenient time) or talking with my sisters or reading together on a rainy day for anything the world has to offer!
I find that many people I've talked to have expressed regret that they did not spend enough time with a sister or brother in there childhood or that they wasted to much their time having "fun" in the world rather than being content at home. I have never heard anyone say that they did not have enough freedom as a teenager or they wished they had more "fun" while growing up.
I know that one day I will have to make my own decisions about how I spend my time but that time is not now and in the meantime I am enjoying my time and making memories that will last me all my life and will bring more joy to me than any momentary pleasure.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rainy Day Read Aloud

A beautiful sight to a homeschooling mom's heart: all of the children voluntarily gathered around for a cozy time of reading together during their free time on a rainy day.

Encouragement to Face the Giants

We are all really enjoying our new church, especially the sermons, which have been very uplifting and encouraging. Yesterday we were gone all day. Since our church is an hour away and we wanted to go to a smaller meeting in the evening, we found ways to keep busy in between times. We went to the local mall, had lunch, and then caught a movie - and wow what a movie!
Facing the Giants was the most inspirational movie we have ever seen. After receiving an email raving about the movie from a local couple that hosts a Bible study for young people in our area, we decided to give it a try. We are not a huge movie-going family, mostly because we like to avoid watching trash, which is Hollywood's most often served item. But Facing the Giants was a real treat. Most of us cried as well as laughed many times throughout the film. The theme was trusting God through the hard times and not giving up. It was especially what the Doctor ordered for us right now.
I've been thinking lately of how many of us have hardships in our life of some kind or another. Whether it's relationships, finances, health or whatever, no one is immune from them. Sometimes counting your blessings is vital to your mental health. Have you ever been around someone who finds a way to see a blessing in any situation? Or can always find a reason to be thankful by thinking of others who are worse off? Those kind of people always make me marvel and I am so thankful for the reminders their outlook brings. I thank God he gave me a sister with exactly that gift!
Another source of encouragement for me has been books I have been reading by Randy Alcorn. So far I've read Deadline, Safely Home and I'm almost finished with The Ishbane Conspiracy. What wake up calls! These are really good books for older teenagers and adults. They really inspire you to see the big picture of this life.
God has been so good to give us encouragement from so many places right now. Weekly it has been a battle between good and bad. We get fueled with His Word and the fellowship of His saints and we feel very strong and then some news of some false rumor or something someone has said comes floating our way and I am tempted to loose my peace. The temptation to defend my family is very great (especially since I feel very capable of doing so), and sometimes thoughts of wanting to retaliate surface. For the most part, we are attempting to let it go, though occasionally we find it necessary to address something, especially when it is damaging to our children, but even they are having to learn the same lessons we are right now. Our kids have been a wonder to watch. They are really growing in their faith and I'm seeing a maturity that maybe only trials can bring. We often encourage each other with Scripture verses and songs. Through it all our family has been growing closer and stronger. God has sent us much in the way of encouragement to trust Him and have patience to wait on Him. We appreciate any prayers on our behalf for strength to do just that.
"Consider it all joy, my brethern, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

Thursday, October 19, 2006

And a Few More For Good Measure

BlochHead did this copy of a Thomas Kincade picture with watercolor pencils. She hung it in her bedroom above her drawing table, even though I begged her for it!.
Even Tom tries her hand at painting when her fantasy reading inspires her to do so. She's a bit burned out on clay figures but I keep trying to encourage her not to quit.
Here's a few more by PearlKeeper. This next one is a sketch from a book she hopes to do illustrating the Lady of Shallot. These next two were done using one of Lee Hammond's drawing books.

Excuse Me While I Show Off My Daughter's Talent

PearlKeeper drew this picture of Adventure Queen from the photograph (below) when she was 4 months old. She is currently working on building up her portfolio and I was so thrilled to see this recent addition that I just had to post it! When she brought me the drawing I knew instantly that it was my first baby, who is now almost 19, and my heart went, "Awww!"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ahh, The Memories...

TheLittlestPrincess is now the last of our children to use the tried-and-true Math It and Cuisenaire rods. I bought these about fourteen years ago. All of the other six used the Addit board when they were younger. It has been a joy teaching her because she gets it the first time it is explained and then practices with glee, dragging the set out to show anyone who will watch her do the drill.

Yesterday she read a little booklet to me and then decided to copy the entire thing into her copybook over the last two days with an accompanying color illustration.

God must have known this old homeschooling mom needed a caboose with some get up and go!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Through Difficult Times

Sometimes going through hard times we can tend to look at our hurt or wound and become overwhelmed with it, focusing only on the pain of it. But this verse explains to a degree what I've been learning recently: That the Lord can use wounds to cleanse us, make us stronger, and teach us to trust in Him completely.

"The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so [do] stripes the inward parts of the belly."
Proverbs 20:30

Another verse that relates:

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience."

James 1:2-3

The Lord's Heart is to heal the wound and we just have to be patient and be obedient to His ways while we trust Him to bring it to pass.

"Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun,
And the light of the sun will be sevenfold,
As the light of seven days,
In the day that the Lord binds up the bruise of His people
And heals the stroke of their wound."

Isaiah 30:26