Friday, February 29, 2008

Art Time with Pastels

Priscilla had some rare free time today to draw with the kids. Even Kezzi got in on the action. The three younger kids had never used pastels before. The boys' attention span is short at the end of the school day but I figure a little time is better than none. Luke never gives me permission to post anything of his, but here is some work from the other kids.

This one is by Kezzi. She always amazes me when I watch her at work. She is very quick, confident and bold with her strokes.

Annalise did this picture of flowers and then had me help her find the section in a poetry book about flowers. She voluntarily copied this stanza of the poem. Pris copied the last two lines for her.

Pris did this rendition of Mary Poppins, inspired by the fact that it is the book she is currently reading aloud to Annalise.

It's interesting that the boys always hurry through art time and dash outside as soon as possible. We did wrangle Abel down long enough to get this picture out of him.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kamana Studies

I'm still really enjoying our Kamana nature studies. I'm still really impressed over how helpful it is for someone like me who is does not notice detail naturally. Today we talked about frogs and chose one from our area to record information about using the Reader's Digest North American Field Guide. The way it walked me through the process caused me to notice a lot of details about frogs that I had never noticed before. Then it had us choose other species in our area that look similar and note the differences. It also suggested listening to a recording of frog calls. Fortunately, we had bought a frog card for our Birdsong Identiflyer last fall and we were able to listen to the calls of the species we had chosen. Here is my page from the day's work (you can click on it to enlarge): We've done nature studies for at least fifteen years now but this course has given them more depth and direction. I've always wanted to dig deeper but wasn't sure how. We only have a couple of sections to go in Kamana One. Kamana Two has already been ordered and I am really looking forward to using it over the next year. I'm hoping to be able to continue on through all four levels.

**A little addition: This afternoon Luke took our birdcall gadget outside, patiently sat still with it and kept pressing the sparrow call. He said 5 or 6 sparrows came close to him. How cool is that? I love nature study!

What I Came Home To

Right before we left on our trip to Missouri, my oven died. When I came home, Ford had already bought and installed a new stove as a surprise. The boys helped him and they even cleaned under and behind it before they put it in. In addition they cleaned the house (even mopped the floor) and had candles burning. Wasn't that sweet?

I had mentioned how nice a smooth top range would be because I could actually keep it clean but I was a little worried about being able to can on it this summer. The sales clerk reassured him it could handle the canner. We'll see, because I plan to give it quite a work out this year.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Searching For Sandhill Cranes

Last Wednesday after breakfast, our read aloud time and math, I announced that everyone needed to pack their nature journals and supplies and that we were leaving by 10:30. We loaded everyone up and headed out in search of sandhill cranes. I knew they came through every year but I had forgotten until I saw a couple of flocks heading toward the wildlife refuge in a nearby town.

We arrived at the refuge pictured above and to our disappointment we only saw Canada geese. As we took turns with the binoculars and munched on some snacks, we saw a few small groups of cranes fly over and continue out of sight. Just when we were about to give up and pack it up, a small group came in and we were able to watch them land. Then a couple of wildlife resource agents came up. After giving us a bunch of literature, they told us of a nearby town where there were lots more cranes. So we packed up and headed out.

We were greatly rewarded with the next location. There were many large flocks of sandhill cranes and we even saw an endangered whooping crane among them. We made a bit of a menace of ourselves stopping in the middle of the highway and peering through our binoculars even though we tried to keep one child looking out for traffic headed our way.

It was too cold to draw in our nature journals outside, so we came home and spent the rest of the afternoon drawing, writing and then I read aloud from our new book, The Animal Dialogues.

This is one thing I love about homeschooling - the freedom to take advantage of learning opportunities at the spur of the moment. As much as I love books, I also love going and seeing and learning from real things.

Our Surprise Visit

Yesterday the girls and I got back from visiting our friends in Missouri. Their oldest daughter, Rachel, who is just a little older than Candace, was having a bridal shower. Her maid-of-honor was giving the bridal shower and called us with the great idea of having us come as a surprise. It was not easy. I'm terrible at keeping secrets. I had to avoid calling my friend for weeks in fear of messing everything up. This was especially hard because she had recently had her second back surgery and I was being a lousy friend by not calling to check up on her. Worse, I didn't even mention the upcoming shower in a reply to an email but instead just alluded to the fact that we couldn't come by mentioning Kezzi and Priscilla's new jobs and how excited we were to see them at the wedding.

We arrived Friday evening and stayed with the family of the maid-of-honor. It was difficult to arrive in town and not go directly to our friends' house. We knew we were giving up a precious evening in order to fulfill the surprise. It ended up all being good. We had a wonderful time at our hosts' home. We sat around the big kitchen table, played games her mom and I did a little crocheting. We even had fun all cramming in the bathroom getting ready for the shower. It was really nice having one-on-one time with another family when we usually just see them at group events. Their 17yo son even got up early and made homemade pancakes for us all!

Next we slunk around town trying to avoid running into our friends. We arrived at the home where the shower was being given just in time to get our vehicle hid in the garage. They arrived minutes after we did. We all ran to the couch and just sat there trying to look casual. One of their daughters came in and stood there in utter shock. We hushed her while we all gave her hugs and kept her captive in the room until the rest of them came in. It was worth it all to see the looks on their faces when they came in the room. There were tears and hugs and some of us were shaking with excitement.

It was a beautiful shower with lots of good food and great gifts. It was wonderful to see old friends and catch up with them.

We went home with our friends and had a nice, relaxing evening just hanging out. It was such a blessing to get to see Rachel and Collin together now that they were free to express their feelings for each other. Rachel had waited patiently for several years, trusting in the Lord and her parents' guidance. Collin had spent years visiting with her family and participating in activities together. They spent years practicing self-control and being extremetly careful in their behavoir towards each other. I have never seen any two people behave so honorably. He had also spent a long time in correspondence with Rachel's father about her before Rachel even knew about it. In fact she didn't know about it until after Collin had arrived at their house one evening to propose and then her parents presented her with a stack of printed emails that documented it all. That was the way Rachel had wanted things to go. Her parents knew how she felt about Collin so there was never any question about Rachel's wishes. She really didn't want to go through giving her heart too early or to the wrong person. They have truly honored God through this process and it will be exciting to see the blessings unfold in their marriage.

Driving home made me a little sad that we had moved away, even though I love it here in Tennessee. I always come home appreciating the group of kids there and feeling a little sad that we don't have a large group like that here. It's always so encouraging for my kids to get to spend some time there and know that they are not alone in the world. There they are not weird. It's perfectly normal in this group for young people to be pursuing a walk with the Lord and submitting to Him in all areas of life. There it is not anything extraordinary for a young man to approach a girl's father in order to pursue her for the purpose of marriage. It's not unusual for those kids to honor their parents and trust that their parents have their best interest at heart. And they find blessings abounding as a reward. I really want to thank them all for the wonderful light they are.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Wounded Feathered Friend

This week a little sparrow hit our picture window. We heard the smack and looked out to see him sprawled out on the heat pump. Abel rescued him and we brought him inside. He was placed inside a wire cage in hopes that he was just stunned and with a little time would recover. He did. Within the hour he was hopping around so we released him outdoors. He flew to a nearby tree and stayed there a long time. Eventually he was gone. We checked around the base of the tree to make sure he didn't keel over and die and he was not there. So we think we helped restore him to health. Otherwise, he probably would have been dinner for one of our cats.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


It seems we are on the verge of more changes. It's exciting and a bit sad at the same time. Priscilla and Kezzi have just been hired for waitressing jobs at local restaurants (only now they call the position - server). That means they will be gone from home a lot more. I'm very excited for them and love to hear the stories of things that happen.

Three of my friends and I went to Kezzi's workplace and had her serve us tonight. She looked so cute in her uniform. I'm so proud of her because even after only one week, she has already been recognized as a Christian and has had several opportunities to share her beliefs. I'm most thankful that being around so much worldliness has not tempted her so far, but has only helped to strengthen her resolve to hold her standards. Amazingly, so far she has only encountered encouragement from others about holding to those standards, even from those who live far beneath them. She is getting lots of experience with those who live very different lives. I'm proud that she does not have a holier-than-thou attitude but instead can be friendly and loving even admist different lifestyles. We will be continuing to pray that she will do well. She knows if it becomes too much for her, there are other options.

Priscilla just started yesterday. (She looks cute in her uniform too.) Her boss was amazing. Even though she is 19, her boss gave her his card and told her if her dad wanted to know what kind of boss she had he was welcome to call him. I was amazed that he had that much respect for her father's position in her life, a rare thing these days. And he told her that no profanity was allowed at his restaurant. Quite a different story than at the restaurant Kezzi is working at. Maybe if Kezzi ends up wanting to leave, Pris will be able to put a good word in for her where she is. So as I said, Pris just started. She's planning on working as much as possible over the next six months in order to earn enough money for college next fall. So far she has received about 2/3 of what she needs in scholarships. The last 1/3 is still pretty hefty but we are hoping that between us we can come up with it. She may be able to transfer to a different branch of this restaurant and continue working part-time while she goes to school so she can continue to have some income.

Candace and Michael came to visit last weekend. Michael called a couple of weeks ago with plans to surprise Candace by bringing her here Friday night. She thought they were surprising us but we knew all along. Right before they arrived, we turned off all of the lights and hid in the library. Uncle Kenny and Aunt Lori came over to hide too. She ran all through the house looking for someone and then finally took a peek into the newly built library when we all scared her half to death by yelling surprise. Michael brought all of his sound equipment and they set it up on the deck Saturday. The girls had a blast singing and playing music all day. I was worried about bothering the neighbors but I was outnumbered.

Candace is vowing to come once a month because she is getting too homesick for everyone. She woke up Saturday morning and was in the hallway talking to Annalise and Candace had big tears in her eyes while she noted the changes in Annalise. This brought me to tears. It's strange to be happy and sad at the same time. I'm happy that Candace has the life she has wanted and I'm thrilled that she loves and misses us so much. I'm sad that the kids will not have the same daily life together. But I do know they will make sure to continue to be close and share many special times together. I knew these changes were inevitable.

Every night the girls come home and we sit around and hear stories from the day. A little change from the bedtime stories we used to have but at least we still have that time together.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Most Precious of Gifts

"May we remember as parents that we are his children, and that he is about the business of changing our hearts, of repairing our ruins, of remaking us. And though he has not finished with us, he has placed in our care his children. May he in his grace keep our hearts aflame for these children. May he give us minds like steel traps that we would never be distracted, that we would not forsake our calling. May he, the great Steward, make us faithful stewards of children, the most precious gifts, of which is the kingdom of God."

RC Sproul, Jr.