Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Science Journals

We use Apologia's science texts for junior high and high school. Instead of following the traditional approach of memorizing bits of information for a test (and consequently forgetting it later most of the time), the kids make notebook pages. I feel like this encourages better retention and every time they sit down with their notebook they invariably flip through previous work, naturally reviewing what has been covered before.
Many times when I have displayed these notebooks parents react with a sense of awe and become overwhelmed with the idea that their children could never produce something so artistic and neat. It really is not that complicated. If you study these pages, you will see that stencils and colored paper are really the key. They sketch the diagrams in the book and occasionally, when a diagram is complex, just make copies. Then they cut it out and mount it on a piece of colored paper, give it a title with the stencils, and maybe add a written narration or some sentences copied directly from the text and Voila! they have a completed page.
I buy hardcover sketch books from Hobby Lobby or Michael's but a three ring binder with page protectors works nicely too. Even a sewn composition book can be used.
These first three pages are from General Science:

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Underground History of American Education

I had this book by John Taylor Gatto on my wish list of items to buy. I had put it off since the book was going to cost me around forty-two dollars with shipping. I am glad I hesitated because, thanks to Spunky , I found that you can read it here online for free (or print it, which is what I'm doing). Spunky has lots more links and information so check out her blog!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday Night

We have a very close church fellowship and besides Sunday morning, we get together every Friday night. We all bring our dinners and have a pot luck at a family's house. (I mean the same family's house every week, Bless Their Souls!) With all of the children there can sometimes be 70 - 80 people, maybe more. Often more than just our church members come. We have folks from other churches, some that don't attend church and even a local pastor and his family. We love the diversity! We have been blessed to find a church that does not insist on unity on every doctrine.
My kids love this time. They call it -- Friday Night as in "Are we having Friday Night tonight?" Or "Is so-and-so coming to Friday Night?", "Do you think I'll be well enough to go to Friday Night?" You get the picture.
After dinner the men and women separate and have Bible study, well we call it Bible Study but sometimes we just share what's going on in our lives and pray together. The kids around twelve and under play together outside all evening. The house is situated in the middle of one hundred acres. The driveway is 7/10ths of a mile long and paved so they love to ride bikes and scooters and pull wagons up and down it.
Well, it's off to Friday Night. If any of y'all are ever in the neighborhood, stop by and enjoy the chaos, er, I mean fellowship! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Our Favorite Anti-TV Poem

From the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The most important thing we’ve learned,
As far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER let
Them near your television set-
Or, better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until there hypnotized by it,
Until there absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes we know it keeps them still
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink-
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
‘All right!’ you’ll cry ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY . . . USED . . . TO . . . READ! They’d
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens and whales
And treasure isles and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled ores,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and -
Just How the Camel Got His Hump,
And How The Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole -
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something good to read.
And once they start - oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
**Tom did most of the typing of this post, but we were accidentally signed in under my name. She plans to print this out, frame it and hang it in her room. (That is, if she can find any room amist all of her BOOKS!)


We recently had a conversation with children on the topic of what we listen to and watch. We are a pretty conservative family when it comes to music and tv/movies. Though I have come across others who are more so (we don't object to fantasy or war), in our circles we mostly fall on the most conservative side. Some of our children had been with some friends and listened to some music that made one of our daughters uncomfortable. She asked our advice on how to deal with it graciously and this spurred the conversation. Two of the girls were defending the song as harmless and "no big deal". After some talk about it, with some rising passions involved (mostly on my part), we planned a Bible study for that evening. We told the girls that we were going to bring scriptures that supported our point of view and they were welcome to do the same, even at a later date.
First, we printed off the song and others by the same artist. We read these aloud in order to judge the content better. It was amazing to see the effect of reading the words instead of having them mixed in with distracting music. Opinions began to change pretty quickly. I have often wondered what the effect would be of reading the words to the songs we listen to or movies we watch from the pulpit. Would we judge things differently in that setting?
Here are the scriptures we have found helpful in evaluating our standards. Even after reading these, we realize that not everyone, not even our grown children, will agree on the specifics of what holds up under this light. However, we hope there is agreement on where the light is to be found.
But examine everything carefully;
hold fast to that which is good;
abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thes. 5: 21 - 22
I love definitions because they help to clarify the meanings of a passage. Here's a few from an online concordance. These are definitions of the Greek words in the above verse.
examine - to test, prove, scrutinize, to approve, deem worthy of
good - beautiful by reason on purity of heart and life, excellent, commendable, admirable, excellent in nature and characteristics, praiseworthy, affecting the mind agreeably, morally good, noble
form - external or outward appearance, figure, shape, kind
And we liked verse 23 of the same passage:
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly
and I pray God your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved
blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These are the rest of the verses we discussed that evening:
Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Romans 12:9
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes:
I hate the work of them that turn aside;
it shall not cleave to me.
Psalm 101:3
Philippians 4:8 lists the things we are to think on. Things that are
true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.
For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty;
only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh,
but by love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13
Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse:
he who guards himself will be far from them.
Proverbs 22:5
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.
1 John 2:6
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light,
and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
1 John 2:10
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it,
do not cease to pray for you,
and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will
in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,
to please Him in all things,
being fruitful in every good work,
and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Col. 1:9 - 10
Pay close attention to yourself and your teaching;
persevere in these things;
for as you do this you will insure salvation
both for yourself and for those who hear you.
1 Tim. 4:16
There is a lot to think about in these passages. Of course, some will argue that we have to live in this world and can not protect ourselves from seeing any evil. Of course, that is true. But I'm talking about what we choose to entertain ourselves with. This is about the choices we make. What do we want to fill our minds with?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What We Are Reading

For pleasure, not school books
To see what we are reading for school see AmblesideOnline Years 3, 6 & 7
MamaLion -
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (I'm reading this because it's Tom's favorite book)
Future Men by Douglas Wilson
Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Landmark biography of Mary, Queen of Scots
A Defense of Virginia and the South by R.L. Dabney
AdventureQueen -
C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves
PearlKeeper -
(to TheLittlestPrincess) Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill
To Kill A Mockingbird
Tom -
The Thief Lord by Corneila Funke
BLOCHhead -
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
SmokyBear -
Magic Treehouse Books (not my idea of great literature but at least the boys are finally reading for pleasure!)
audio tape of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Tigger -
also Magic Treehouse books & Huck Finn
TheLittlestPrincess -
audio of Clara Barton from the Childhood of Famous Americans series
A Treasury of Children's Literature, edited by Armand Eisen - over & over
Update: She asked me for a poem before she went to bed tonight and we finished Poems to Read to the Very Young and then read her favorites over again. Her favorites are MICE by Rose Fyleman, FURRY BEAR by A.A. Milne and WOOLY BLANKET by Kate Cox Goddard.
All girls, including MamaLion -
So Much More by the Botkin sisters
MamaLion with 4 youngers -
The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis

Tea Time

Adventure Queen and I had a private tea time this afternoon, which is quite an accomplishment in a household of ten people. I put this little table in the corner of my bedroom for just such a purpose. The main part of our house is the Great Room which is all open and contains the living room, kitchen and dining room. So a nice, cozy, PRIVATE place was needed for that necessary one on one time. This area has also served nicely as a quiet place for the boys to read aloud to me. And I have plans for a nice candlelit dinner with Mr. Potts here too!
Today, we had cucumber & cream cheese sandwhiches and chai tea. It was the first time we used the tea set I bought at Mount Vernon this past fall.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What kind of Light Are We?

***Argh! Blogger is not posting the spaces that I originally included in my posts. Sorry for the inconvenience while I try to figure out what the problem is.
"Let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Matthew 5:16
The girls and I were discussing this verse this morning while reading So Much More by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin. The objective of our lights should be to bring glory to our Father. We are admonished in the verse before not to hide our light under a bushel. Still further before this verse, it says we are the light of the world and a city on a hill cannot be hidden. Many people struggle with this. They are worried about offending others and making them uncomfortable. Especially these days, when it is considered "intolerant" to hold the standard Christian views. Most Christians are aware of how the cry for tolerance is often a double standard because everything but Christianity is tolerated, therefore, many in our day tiptoe around fearful of incurring the wrath of our society.
But I began thinking of this verse from a little different perspective. I was not born with a personality that overly concerns itself over offending others. I was raised with a certain Yankee pride in a side of my family in being a quick-witted in-your-face type of person. Always having the comeback that left someone speechless was admired. I still remember some of my "greatest moments" when I stumped some other equally (or even more) quick-witted people. They have been trophies in my mind, even taken down and polished from time to time.
Instead of being tempted to hide my light under a bushel, I can be more like Mr. Potts' two-million-candle-power spotlight shining right in your face. Trust me, it's hot. It doesn't feel good. And it's blinding. At least when you are in the dark, your eyes have a chance of adjusting to the darkness and you are able to recognize a light off in the distance and you know which way to go. When you have a spotlight shining in your face, nothing can remedy the situation. You try to shut your eyes as tightly as possible but even that doesn't bring relief. You start screaming for it to stop. You prefer remaining in the darkness.
Here's a quote from So Much More:
"...though God looks primarily on the inside, people can only see the outside. Is God's grace capable of turning rebellious, defiant heart into a gentle and quiet heart? Do we show people the magnitude of God's grace by showing how our crude, unrefined behavior becomes gentle and quiet? Or do we give the world a reason to think that God is limited in His power because He was unable to make our behavior (and so, of course, our hearts) conformed to His model for womanhood? We blaspheme God's grace by continuing to act like "ourselves". We glorify God's grace by overcoming stubborn pride and becoming gradually sanctified."
It's hard to let your 'self' be changed. We love ourselves and are afraid to part with something that seems to be so much a part of us. What will we be without it? Will we be dull and lifeless? Jesus promised something more:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
John 12:24
I've been praying for God to help me be a soft, cozy kind of light. When I walk over our hill at night and see the house softly lit, I get a warm feeling of home. I stand back and admire it from afar. I am not afraid to draw near. I know inside is safe and warm. That is the kind of light I want to be.

Persistence Pays Off

We finally found it! Snow, that is. We drove up into the mountains to find plenty of the wonderful white stuff. After being disappointed last week, and especially after driving an hour away to purchase 9 sleds at Target, it was rewarding to find the object of our pursuit. It was a little nerve racking driving the 15 passenger van up and down the mountains when the only other vehicles to be seen were ones equipped with four wheel drive. We made it though and found a secluded little spot to sled. Mr. Potts built a nice little fire that helped dry wet mittens.
We also were able to enjoy the sights of our beautiful Smoky Mountains covered in snow. Sometimes I think we take for granted the exceptional beauty we have around us and a nice little change, like fall colors or snow, jolts us back into the reality of the wonder of God's creation.
Unfortunately, my camera battery died so I didn't get many pictures.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Recipe for Showing Your Children Love

  • Say more positive things than negative ones.
  • Remember to laugh with them and enjoy their company.
  • Do little sweet things that say I love you (ie. notes, little gifts, etc.).
  • Say "I love you" and give hugs.
  • Remember to be kind and gentle even when correction is necessary.
  • Don't let anything get in the way of them feeling your love.

Oven temp: pleasantly warm Time: 24/7 Serves: all

Monday, January 09, 2006


Being two boys in a houseful of girls is not always easy. Along with five sisters comes the constant influx of "friends". For two young boys who already feel outnumbered, this can be a bit much at times. I know in future years they will surely enjoy all of this feminine company. But for now, they count their blessings that God saw fit to provide them with a plentiful supply of male cousins.
We spent Sunday driving in the mountains in search of snow. Turns out we just missed it. Two days ago our sleds would have found plenty of fodder but a warm day melted it all away. Instead, a fifteen passenger van loaded with boys was just about as much fun. Thankfully, we drove two vehicles and the older females had a respite from the chaos! We are also thankful for two dads who were able to handle all that energy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Restored to White!!!

Here is a close up. Isn't it gorgeous!!!
Several weeks ago MamaLion got out her wedding dress and each of us four older girls tried it on. Sadly, mice got into it a couple years ago and it became very stained in spots and the whole dress turned an ugly yellowish color. MamaLion and DaddyPots were discussing how much of a bummer it was that they had not stored it in better places. While they were expressing regrets on not taking better care of the dress, each girl modeled for Mom and Dad. I kept thinking the whole time that there must be some way to restore it back to white. When it came to my turn to try it on everyone agreed that it fit me the best. It was a slightly to large on two of the girls and slightly snug on the other so I being medium ended up being closer to Mom's size. In one more year I will be the same age as she was when she got married, 19 years ago, to our beloved DaddyPotts.Here is the dress, looking like new. :)
The dress was left on the floor in my sister's room. As I walked by the room that night and saw that once beautiful Wedding Dress all crumpled, yellow and forlorn, I resolved that I was going to find a way to make it beautiful again. This is something that represents nearly 20 years of a marriage made in heaven. This marriage has lasted through trials and tears, through sunshine and joyful days, through thick and thin and still is bound together in Love and centered on Christ. My mother wore pure white on that day years ago and, through all that the dress represents now, I knew it deserved to be made clean again!

After several phone calls to different places, I found a place that I believed would do a good job. When MamaLion was gone I drove to town and dropped it off. Mom never knew it was gone until today when I brought it home. She was so delighted at the surprise and I was thrilled to make her so happy!!! I am taking it tomorrow to be professionally wrapped and ready to be displayed in a large and lovely box.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

A brave friend had us over to her house for a New Year's Party along with about twelve other families, our church plus a few others. When I say families, I mean f-a-m-i-l-i-e-s! Minimum number of children three and maximum ten, with children's spouses and children's children starting to appear also! Once again, there was tons of food (these holidays are a little rough on the waistlines!) and games.

Everyone was supposed to dress up as a literary character, preferably one from a book read during the last year. You had to come with a clue and give that clue to everyone and let them guess who you were.

TheLittlestPrincess wasn't hard to figure out:

AdventureQueen and her uncle went as Uncle Tom and Topsy from Uncle Tom's Cabin.

My sister's three boys went as Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Little John. Friar Tuck actually had a special haircut for the occasion and had it all buzzed off the next day.

It became so crowded that I forgot to get pictures of the other children. And me with my new digital camera too! Argh! The boys went as Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. They were so cute in their dirty overalls and straw hats. PearlKeeper and her fiancee went as Freckles and Angel from Gene Stratton Porter's book, Freckles. The other girls went as Jane Austen's Emma and Rowena from Ivanhoe. There were many other characters there too.

The best part of the evening was when our church treasurer called us all out onto the front deck and told us all we had just paid off the debt on our new church property. He then lit the note on fire while we all cheered! Now we can start putting our money into a much needed building! Yippee!

We are thankful for this past year and look forward to the new one. Happy New Year to everyone!