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!