Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Homeschool Tailor Made

We hold to the philosophy of 'one-year at a time' concerning our children's education. One just never knows what a year will bring as well as how the needs of our children will change from year to year.  I have been homeschooling on and off for 8 years. This year will look a lot different for us as the boys go back to school; so it will just be Sissy and me.  I hold this coming year as a gift; one on one time to pour into my daughter whom is quickly becoming a young woman.  She still thinks that I know some stuff and that I am on her side.  She listens to my advice and doesn't think I've just fallen off from another planet.  That said, I am going to run with this station in life and give it all I've got.  I want to open to her some 'old-fashioned' precepts that the world looks down upon.  I want to reveal to her the difference between feminism and femininity.  I want her to know what propriety looks like and why it is a dying breed.  With all that in mind, the compass pointed towards the Victorian Era, hence, that will be our focus of study .  Here is an overview of the curriculum choices for her 8th grade year of schooling:

*One Girl Can Change the World
*In the Flower of Youth
*Millie's Prayer Projects
*Violet's Hidden Doubts and Devotional Sketchbook
*Preparing My Heart for Advent
*A Young Women's Call to Prayer
*The Lost Art of True Beauty
*True Love
*Before You Meet Prince Charming
*Raising Maidens of Virtue

*The Return of the Daughters
*What is Biblical Femininity?

*The Mystery of History Volume III-this covers the Renaissance, Reformation and Growth of Nations.  I am really excited as this curriculum is for all ages and has lots and lots of hands on projects if you have a crafty learner that is older but still enjoys creating.
*The Timetable of History...this book gives a sweeping glance of what was happening around the world, simultaneously, through history.
*Our Island Story (4 CD's) to listen to in the car.

*Top Story from World Publishing

*Learning Language Arts Through Literature: Gray Book (a Charlotte Mason based curriculum)
*How to Write Clearly
*Vocabulary Vines
*Total Language Plus:  Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre
*In the Hands of a Child- A Christmas Carol
*Themes in Literature Vol 3
*Comprehension Guide Little Women, Veritas Press

Mastering good writing skills is key.  For journaling this year we are going to let her start a private blog to get the creative juices flowing.  She is extremely excited about this idea.
*Anne of Green Gables
*A Christmas Carol
*The Edwardian Lady
*Pride and Prejudice
*Beware, Princess Elizabeth
*Little Women
*The Basket of Flowers
*Sense and Sensibility
*Wuthering Heights
   *Tales from Shakespeare
     *Jane Eyre
     *A Girl of the Lumberlost

This was the initial inspiration for picking this era.  We will both keep a nature journal during our daily romps with the dog.  This particular book is like an art class.  It shows you how to approach sketching and drawing.  
*Keeping a Nature Journal
*Learn Watercolor Pencil Technique
*The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady-I am in love with this book!
*Elegant Writer-Calligraphy
*Pressed Posies Card Kit
*What People Wore- a great reference book
*A Very Victorian Christmas Kit-we gave this to my mom as a Christmas present last year so she and Sissy will do this together.

*Gift of Music:Great Composers and Their Influence

*Maps, Charts, Graphs of The World

*The Art of Argument
*The Fallacy Detective
*Wicked Whodunits
*2 Minute Mysteries
*Mind Benders CD

*Algebra 1 Teaching Textbooks
*Brain Math Vol 1

*Botany Adventure
*Handbook of Nature Study
*Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature
*National Audubon Society Field Guide of Wildflowers

Spanish 1 from Bob Jones University

*Painless Poetry
*Anne's Anthology

Her outside activities will include a sewing class, drama and public speaking, girl's choir, soccer (in the spring) and horseback riding.  Our schedule varies from day to day.  I am working on our lesson plans right now.  We will continue working on her cookbook and mealtime preparations. My girl is such an independent learner.  She focuses and stays on task and accomplished the work before her.  She is a joy to teach!  I pray for a fruitful, life-giving year.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mealtime Moments

  You know how it says in Deuteronomy 11:19, 'Teach them (God's precepts) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  That can be an overwhelming thought to talk about God throughout the day.  We can easily remember to pray before meals and bedtime but what about the rest of the time?  .

I have always envisioned dinner time to be like a Norman Rockwell picture.  Chatting and sharing about our day while enjoying a healthy meal together.

Suffice it to say Norman does not live at my house because our portrait might look a tad bit different then this one.  

In trying to strike the right tone we have usedMealtime Moments from Focus on the Family.It has donned our dinner table for years (you can tell by the stains and crinkled edges).  It is a spiral flip card book that lays out a simple devotional that really crosses the age gap with our kids.  It is layed out as follows:

Mealtime Prayer kicks off the theme.
Appetizer of questions to lead the conversation.
Main Course dives into the lesson.
Table Talk gives application to the main course through discussion questions.
Vitamins and Minerals reference scripture passages.

My husband loves that it is ready to go, no preparation needed, he simply leads the discussion.  You would be surprised by the dynamics that the devotional reveals! We have enjoyed integrating this devotional into our dinner time.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Family Devotions

We have had many great family fun nights over the years.  Spending time together playing and in the Word sticks in their memory more than any other activity that we do together.  It has been challenging as they get older to keep everybody focused and involved.  This week our  pastor has been preaching in 1 Corinthians 13.  I have been studying the passage during my quiet time and came up with the idea of breaking down the love verses into pieces and playing charades.  You have to insert your name for the word love.
We laughed and giggled as we tried to convey our part of the passage.  Sissy caught on quickly; and since she has the passage memorized she was the one to guess most of the verses.  After we finished the game we lined up all the verses in order and read them and talked about which ones come easily to us and which ones we need to work on and pray more about.  Patience was the top pick for me, I can feel the strain of summer's lackadaisical, non-routine, 'come what may' taking its toll!
I love these nights too.  I pray many more to come.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Piano Man

My eldest helped move some furniture today.  He is always willing to be a helping hand, and since he has grown so big and strong he can move things like pianos and heavy desks.  He can not help himself when he is near a piano, any piano, any place, any time!  Hey, when you gotta play you just got to play!!  He was really diggin' this piano, apparently it has tacks on the keys so it makes a 'tink' kind of sound.  What fun!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

An Old Fashioned Girl

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

I have come to love the young country girl Polly who comes to visit her city cousin Fanny.   In very gentle and quiet ways she shows her worldly relatives how to live 1 Corinthians.  This is one of my top favorite stories.  If you have little girls it would make a wonderful read-aloud.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

12 New Things

I love new beginnings, so fresh and open.  Like a Warm Cup of Coffee has spurred on this challenge.  It's like a New Year's Resolution/Bucket List/Things I've been wanting to do.  Progress in noted along the way.  Just the thought of mini goals is inspiring.

September-write little jokes and sweet thoughts in my boys lunch boxes, plan family devotions.
October-dive into the Nature Journal and really focus on sketching with my girl.
November-learn to crochet, need to invite my Aunt over for a session!
December-make some homemade gifts
January-give each of my kids a 'Word' that applies to them and their present journey regularly.  Memorize these verses with them.
February-bless my husband by making his lunch and....focus, focus!!
March-have a Victorian Tea Party
April- learn to sew pajama bottoms, try a new gardening technique
May-plan summer activities with kids
June-plan a neighborhood cook-out
July-read The Count of Monte Cristo, go tubing
August-harvest garden and make goodies to freeze or maybe learn to can

We shall see....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Yes, I love to dance, but this post takes place in the kitchen and my garden.  I always thought salsa was one of those mystery foods, like baby food, like some little elves cook up some deliciousness that is beyond my capabilities.  Alas, not only have I come up with my own recipe, but I have actually grown some of the ingredients in my pitiful little garden!!
I have tweaked this till it is just right.  It makes a big container and lasts till the last bit is gone.

2 cans Original Rotel
28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper (more if you like it hot)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
bunch of cilantro (about 2 cups)
1 lime

Toss it all in your food processor and blitz till smooth.  You can keep this chunkier if you leave out the diced tomatoes and add them after everything else is mixed.  Leave in fridge for an hour so flavors can mingle (its a salsa thang).  You can garnish it with some fresh cut avocados.

Note Worthy

Today I received a sweet letter in the mail from my friend Deb.  It was a note of encouragement and thanks.  The best part was that it was handwritten from her pen.  What a sacred gift in this day of 'techno' everything.
I have a box of precious notes that date way, way back, I've kept them all over the years; and every now and again I will peruse that letterbox to reflect and remember.  The note encouraged me to pass along the gift of snail mail and I wrote 3 notes today to some gals who the Lord put on my heart that needed a little boost.  God's timing is so perfect!  This week I have had a spirit of discouragement about me and, viola', Deb's note shows up to dispel that posture.  Whom can you write a note to today?  I bet you can think of at least one person who could use a dose of letter love!  Be sure to add a little scripture to your note too!  

Job 16:5

But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

2 Thessalonians 2:17

encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today


Friday, August 13, 2010

Blonde Brownies

Why couldn't the blonde double the recipe?
...because the oven doesn't go to 700 degrees!

Add a little sweetness to you day and try this old family recipe (yes, they taste like the ones in Panera).

Blonde Brownies
2 cups flour
1 tspn baking powder
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 tspn baking soda
1 tspn salt
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tspn vanilla
1/3 cup chopped nuts

optional/in addition too: 1/2 cup butterscotch chips, 1/2 cup toffee bits

Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.  Mix sugar and oil, blend in eggs and vanilla, add flour mixture.  Then add chocolate chips and nuts.
Grease 9x13 pan, bake 350 for 30 minutes.  Try to behave and only eat one!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Echoes of Summer

Amidst all the school prep and shopping I just want to linger in the reality that summer is still upon us.  I have enjoyed this summer of surprises and retreats.  Before I launch into planning for the fall I want to reflect on some of the beauty that has surrounded us...
Our butterfly bush has attracted  many Swallowtails and Monarchs this summer.  I have seen 7 at one time on the fragrant bush.
Even leaves have personality among the rest...looks like a crazy drawing on the leaf, but nature did that all on its own.

Tis my favorite flower, the Gerber Daisy.  This is the first summer that I have kept a flower alive through the summer!

Celebrating J's birthday with good friends at the Japanese Steakhouse, oh so yummy!

The girls with their sweethearts!

An attempt at the world's biggest bubble!

Glinda the good witch and her piano man.

Our annual open house for the 4th of July.

Cascade Lake's water tube, I think he went down 1,000 times!

 My big guy with his buds.

Birthday at the race track.  They never tire of going around and around and around, made me dizzy!

Summer birthdays are the best.  Sissy with some of her favorite treasures.

 Siblings together, capturing the moment!

It's not often to grab a snapshot with family you don't see much because everyone lives in different states.

Maybe one day he will be a lifeguard.  He said he wants to be a pediatrician.

Puddle stomping in the rain.  It inspired me to write a poem....

As the rain patters on the window pane
A hush quiets within my spirit, bidding me to listen and be still.
Listen to the soft rain as it whispers when it falls.
On rainy summer nights I feel the Lord's closeness.
My busy thoughts subdue and that still, small Voice I yearn to hear,
Drifts through the billowing curtains, His peace washes over me
Like the rain washes over the thirsty earth.
So my soul longeth after Thee.
His gentleness guards my heart and mind.
I am drawn to sit and worship; listen and pray.
Be still and know that I am God.


Friday, August 6, 2010

The Vinedresser

These are no ordinary pears.  Ten years ago we planted two pear trees in our yard.  We (well Hubby) carefully followed the instructions on planting the fruit trees and they grew and grew.  The only problem has been that year after year they never flowered.
No flower = No fruit.  Until this year!  This year we have 5 pears between the two trees.  I could almost make a tart!

I am reminded of the 15th chapter of John that starts with; "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me....for without Me you can do nothing.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you."

Just like our pear tree that was dormant for a decade we too can find ourselves coasting in our spiritual walk. Notice that God says he is either gonna take away or prune.  I was startled when I read in Psalm 106:15,

"And He gave them their desire, but sent leanness into their soul."

Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!  The fine print at the bottom warns of an empty heart.  Have you ever felt like God can be silent in your life and you are wondering why He isn't showing up and moving in your heart.  I have definitely felt God's extreme absence from my heart.  I have desperately cried out to Him for months and heard not a peep.  Why?  Why can we not find Him when we call sometimes?  Which do I want more, what I want or for my soul to be full?  No question, I want to be phat in that area!    Forget my desires and requests Lord, You always have a better idea or plan for me!  I can do nothing truly worthwhile in my strength, power, or agenda, but when I open my heart and hands to the Lord, abundance fills my soul.  That pruning part can take awhile.  Change takes time.  Things can seem pretty quite while we are growing in new areas of our journey.

My friend Deb recently shared a little about her homeschool journey coming to a screeching halt in the dessert.  What happened?  Wasn't she abiding in God's will by ministering to her children?  Wasn't she in the center of his heart sheperding her quiver?  What do we do when God is silent?

First, I remember that He is a jealous God.

Exodus 34:14 

Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24 

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

He wants us.  He wants 100% of us.  Let that sink in for a moment.  If you are skipping along do'in your thang be sure to check your spiritual barometer and make sure God is right there with ya!  We can find ourselves doing lots of 'good, Christian, servant-minded" actions but unless it is punctuated with God's hand in yours, then it becomes all about you.  
Here is the tricky part, God is very interested in us being still, seeking His face, meditating on His word, fasting, and reflecting on His character.  The second point is that we have to learn to abide in Him.  We want to go and do and God wants us to sit and stay!  Why is that so hard for us?  The devil, for one, LOVES to distract us.  The tyranny of the urgent, the phone, the kids, the to-do list, the.....sigh, you get the point.  What preoccupies your mind?  Lay that before the Lord.  

One last thought is the parable of the persistent widow.  She nagged the judge continually until he gave in to her request.  Jesus tells us to always pray and to not lose heart.  God is long suffering.  Are you really serious about seeking Him?  If you are, you will be relentlous in your quest to know what He wants for you.  Persistence prayer pays!  Why?  Because this jealous God of ours knows then that you are serious about searching for Him with your whole heart.  

I desire for the vinedresser to lavish in my soul.  I want to be clothed & consumed with His love and to align myself with His desires for my life.  Keep pressing on dear one.