Monday, April 30, 2007

Home Again

We are home after a fun time in Missouri. Pris and Kezzi especially had a grand time hanging out with the young people there. I spent lots of time with the young people too, hanging out and sitting down for meals and snacks with them. What a nice (and fun!) group of kids. Too bad they live so far away.

I bought quite a few things at the fair. I met the new owners of Lifetime Books and Gifts, Gus and Shirley Solis, and what a delightful and beautiful family they are. Shirley is so warm and friendly you immediately feel like you have always known her. She allowed Priscilla to move up from the basement, where she was not seeing much traffic, to share a little of their space. Priscilla immediately started selling more books. We listened to a couple of Shirley's workshops on the way home and Kezzi asked for copies to put in her hope chest. They were very good. Priscilla was a part of a panel of homeschool graduates that held a question and answer type of workshop. She did a great job, as did all of the graduates, and I was very proud of her.

On the way home I pondered an idea for a summer routine and decided to come home and try an experiment. You can read about it here on the Shadybrook daily blog.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Going on the Road

Today Priscilla, Kezzi and I are leaving for Springfield, Missouri. We will be at the SHEM curriculum fair where Pris will have a table selling the Grandmother's Hope Chest series that she has illustrated. So stop in and say hi if you happen to be there.

We are really looking forward to this trip. Our very dear friends are putting us up and I'm sure we will be having a grand time rushing in and out of the house and all getting ready with one bathroom!! My kids always love to go to Missouri and spend time with their friends and their friends' friends. I love it too.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Granny is My Hero Too.

I made Granny's Carnitas Burritos today. Make. Eat. Enough said.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekend Happenings

Ford, the boys and I spent Saturday building a chicken yard onto our chicken house. It was fun working together and swinging the hammer a little. We had chickens years ago but since then the fencing had fallen apart and the weeds had grown up so high you couldn't even see the chicken house. So it's almost ready now for a new batch of hens. We just have to finish tacking up the fencing and I'm going to repaint the little building. It looks so cute and farm-y.

Saturday evening a couple of young men from church joined us for dinner. For extra chaos, we invited my sister and her family to come over too. We had a lot of fun talking, laughing and playing games. These young men did the polite thing and offered to leave at a reasonable time but we were all enjoying ourselves so we reassured them we are late night people and they stayed pretty late. Luckily our church has a third service that doesn't start until 12:30 so we can all sleep in when we need to.

Tonight Candace and Priscilla came home from a meeting at church and both of them have decided to go on a mission trip in the fall. Priscilla is planning to go to Kenya and Candace to Spain. In Kenya Priscilla's group will travel around from village to village telling the gospel story with a story cloth, which they will leave in each village. Using art to tell a story is right up her alley. Spain is not so receptive to missionaries so Candace's group will be doing more one on one talking to people on the streeets, passing out water, Bibles and DVD's that tell the story of Jesus. Candace is so good at meeting people and talking to strangers so this sounds perfect for her too. I'm so excited for them and so glad they are taking advantage of this time in their lives to experience new things and places.

We have a busy next couple of days. The girls and I are cooking for a women's gathering at church Tuesday night. Normally a group of ladies share the cooking chore but we thought it would be fun to give them a break and do the cooking ourselves. We will prepare enough for fifty but there will probably be less than that. After all fifty is only five times more than a normal dinner for us to make. We always enjoy these meetings and we're looking forward to serving.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Our Studies

So far our nature studies with the Kamana program are going quite well. I did decide to slow the pace down a bit and really give them time to absorb the new awareness activity so we most likely will not finish the first part of the book in the prescribed 12 days. And I realized there is no way we could do both Kamana and the Moon Journals at the same time so once again, the moon journals are taking a back seat, hopefully to be picked up later.

I am very pleased with the interest the kids have in the Kamana program. We have had to filter through the Native American thanking Grandmother Moon stuff, and instead we thank our Creator for His creation and read what God' view of nature is, but learning about a different worldview has been interesting too. Last night on the way home from church, the girls were talking about everything they have to look forward to and Hope mentioned the Kamana studies and said she was excited to have this to do during the summer.
Today at lunch Luke was describing a pair of goldfinches that he had watched bathing in the creek and Hope told of a pair of cardinals that visits near her secret spot each day. Kezzi came in telling about a red-tailed hawk that flew over while crying out. These were just a few of the observations that were discussed over lunch. Abel told of a yellow-jacket that landed on him and left some "spit" and how he had smelled it and that it had a strange smell. I highly doubt he would have thought to smell it had it not been for that idea being presented in our Kamana studies.

One of the recent activities we did was thinking about where we were and what it looked like from a bird's eye view and drawing a map of that. Everyone has seemed to really enjoy making these maps and I have seen many extras lying around the house.

Sometimes I am plagued with things we do not do and I know there are others who do so much more. We have never been successful with a foreign language, for example. Many "great" books are way above us and we can't manage to muster up enough interest to tackle them still. Spelling...ugh...we are making progress, but ugh.

But when I think of my kids' day today, how in addition to all of this great nature study some of them sat crowded around the book of Greek myths while listening to a wonderful audio version, how they heard a true story about a boy who grew up with Cherokee grandparents in the mountains, how they learned a little about one of these great United States and heard Solomon's prayers as he dedicated the great temple to God, that they can go out and enjoy the beautiful sunshine while they read a good book and write about the thoughts that that book inspires, that they have time in the afternoon and evening to dwell on what they are learning in addition to time spent fellowshipping with family and friends, I am very thankful for the opportunity to have them learning at home. The good times still outweigh the bad.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Tasting the Fruit

As we've been working through our naturalist training with the Kamana program, I'm pleased to see connections with Charlotte Mason's methods and the fruit they bring. It is easy to see how the children have already been trained to pay attention to detail since we've been doing nature journals for many years now. Drawing the local flora and fauna of the region demands attention to detail. Field guides are some of the first books they begin to use for themselves, before they can even read well. Not only nature study but picture study and narration have also provided training in attention.

When you read about these methods and begin practicing them, it takes faith. Often you think, "Can it be that simple?" Can we just read good books and talk about them? Will hanging up pictures by different artists and spending 5-10 minutes looking at the detail every so often really do anything? Will playing the music of great composers and maybe occasionally reading a short biography lead to a love of great music? Can scientific knowledge be gained by just going for a walk and finding something to draw in your nature notebook? These truly are seeds and by planting the habits, watering and pulling out the weeds, they will grow. There will be fruit.

The fruit is opening your eighteen year old daughter's cd case and seeing Vivaldi and Brahms CD's among the other music. The fruit is when your sixteen year old says she wants to get up extra early to go to spend time at her special place in the woods or when she asks for a great man of history's autobiography to read outside of "school time". The fruit is when your nineteen year old wants to study writing and yes, she may still need some help with the mechanics but she has so much to say and she says it with style.

It's always easy, for me at least, to see the mistakes I have made or the bad habits I have allowed to go unchecked. So it's really rewarding to have those times when you look back and see things that you've done right, things that bear good fruit. It's good to jot down those realizations in a journal somewhere so you can look back on them during the times when it you feel hopelessly discouraged and it seems everything is going wrong.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ok, So I've Got a Ways to Go

We are all enjoying our new studies with the Kamana program. The first few lessons have been about encouraging Awareness, which I am in great need of. I am not the most observant person, to put it mildly.

Once I walked up onto my mother's front porch and entered her house. She asked, "Do you like my new porch furniture?" Er, new porch furniture? There was furniture out there? Sure enough, beautiful WHITE wicker porch furniture with pretty floral cushions. How could I miss those? This really slapped me in the face. I'm too quick and intent on what I'm doing or thinking to notice much. Not good. Especially when it comes to wanting to know more about nature, not to mention people.

Another little example. Yesterday we were up at the lake. Instead of being my usual lazy self and staying on the beach with my World magazine or a book catalog, I got up and slowly starting walking down the beach looking for THINGS. I was so proud of myself because I found a string of amphibian eggs and some small mammal tracks up near the water. I noticed the black skippers flying around. Fun. The boys and Annalise had joined me. Luke pointed out a HUGE toad nestled in a little spot right on the water's edge. How had I missed that? Well, it did look a lot like a leaf if you didn't look directly at it. We stopped and looked at a little area where Luke thought might have fish and they saw one. I saw a very large one beyond where they were looking and when I pointed it out they were amazed at it's size. I was amazed that I had been the one to see it.

So, I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself noticing different plants around the lake. I had spent the drive up noticing the wildflowers that we already knew the names of and even stopped to look closely at one I had never seen before. I looked it up in the Reader's Digest Field Guide that I had brought with me and found it was a dwarf blue flag - so cute! We continued our walk around the lake, realizing this walk may not have been the smartest thing since no one was around and this was very near the location of a bear attack last year when a girl just Annalise's age was killed. We started making contingency plans just in case. We made it back close to the beach when I saw a beautiful bank of violets. I sat down to examine them closer with my field guide. I swept one large red ant off of my leg and in the back of my mind, I wondered if maybe I was near an anthill. Then Annalise tells me there is a bug on my back, another ant. I figure I better stand up and look around. There I was sitting smack dab on top of an anthill while I was trying to the learn the difference between violet species. I did identify this Arrowleaf Violet. And at least I didn't get bit (or do they sting?) by the ants.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Thank You From the Becks

The Becks have posted a thank you on their blog with a picture of the farm house they are living in here. Stop on over for a visit.