Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poetry by Joey

"I've tried my hardest,
I've done my best.
And now it's time to do the rest."

-Joey, 7 years old.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Camping Trip #1: Prinville Reservoir

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's late...

I'm tired, but I've been working on this material I'm going to teach Saturday at the conference and it's been a dream.

I'm grateful for the chance to teach, for I learn.

I'm in awe of the changing seasons, again.

I'm thankful for my home and my sweet family.

I'm in love with my amazing husband, whom I had a wonderful camping weekend with.

I'm in touch with so many friends because of the internet.

I'm longing for simplicity.

I'm happy for my week ahead.

I'm praying for a friend whose mother will have a double mastectomy tomorrow.

I'm challenged to get in the Word daily again, I've been out of the habit and that draws on me.

I'm so, so blessed, friends. Tell me about why you're blessed.

On my list...

of things to do, soon! I don't have to have 7 kids to make this one work out well for me. Like pancakes? Check this smart mama out.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hands-On Learning

I found this article at Simply Charlotte Mason and wanted to record it for my own reference. I think all these points are excellent reminders, as I get into the more academic studies it's easy to put off the vital (hands-on time) in effort to care for the necessary (book studies). So I'll post this article here, I hope you are as inspired as I've been. Perhaps as I do my lesson plan for the month I'll use this as a sort of guideline/checklist to remind myself of the to get these things in.

Go to Simply Charlotte Mason to download a free copy of Masterly Inactivity for a little read there. I like to print these off and read them the old-fashioned way, on paper.

The Winter months pose a challenge, while we do get outside from time to time our Nature Journals just sit on a shelf. When we're outside it's simply too cold to linger. I'd like to do better with this next Winter, perhaps work harder at drawing the birds indoors and even studying indoor plant life, the use of herbs and natural remedies or the like. I'd welcome your ideas...bringing Nature indoors.

Hands On Learning

Many people equate living books with the Charlotte Mason method. And that's well and good. Living books are a big part of her approach, as we've discussed during recent posts. But a Charlotte Mason education is not based just on books; it is also based on "things." Charlotte believed that up close and personal hands-on experiences were also necessary for children to really learn. She specifically mentioned five "things" that we need to make sure we include in our children's curriculum.
  1. Natural Obstacles

    We should provide natural obstacles to challenge our children physically. Charlotte encouraged us to get our children physically active with "climbing, swimming, walking, etc."

  2. Material to Work In

    Handicrafts play an important role in helping our children form relations with the world around them. We need to give them opportunities to work with "wood, leather, clay, etc."

  3. Natural Objects in situ

    Notice how that word "situ" looks like "situation." Charlotte made sure that the children had regular time outdoors to observe objects of nature, "birds, plants, streams, stones, etc.," in their natural environment, or situation. Nature study is an important aspect of a Charlotte Mason education.

    "For the first five or six years of his life, everything, especially everything in action, is an object of intelligent curiosity to the child—the street or the field is a panorama of delight, the shepherd's dog, the baker's cart, the man with the barrow, are full of vivid interest. He has a thousand questions to ask, he wants to know about everything; he has, in fact, an inordinate appetite for knowledge. We soon cure all that: we occupy him with books instead of things; we evoke other desires in place of the desire to know; and we succeed in bringing up the unobservant man (and more unobservant woman) who discerns no difference between an elm, a poplar and a lime tree, and misses very much of the joy of living" (Vol. 2, pp. 181, 182).

  4. Objects of Art

    Children in Charlotte's schools were given opportunity to appreciate and express art. They had picture study and drawing lessons, time to experiment with mixing paints and sketching with charcoal, encouragement to draw both what they imagined and what they saw. Let's give our children the same.

  5. Scientific Apparatus

    Charlotte listed specifically the stethoscope, thermometer, microscope, and magnifying glass. While she encouraged us to use these apparatus, she also explained that we should be careful to use them to confirm or expand on an idea, not to replace the emotion-touching, imagination-stirring idea itself.

So as you make plans for next week, next month, or nexPost Optionst year, be sure to include both books and things. These types of hands-on learning experiences will add variety and enjoyment to your days, and they will play a vital role in helping your child form those relations that lead to real knowledge.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I still remember when Scooter was a brand new baby, I was so infatuated with him (of course). I was out somewhere when a white-haired gentleman stopped to peek at Scoot. He marveled at him a minute, then said "Seems like he's the first child that was ever born, doesn't it?" I knew just what he meant. This little child, my brand new first baby was the most precious thing in the entire world, and I couldn't imagine how anything or anyone so important could ever have existed.

I felt the same way with my next two babes. Just like it was the first time anyone so wonderful could have happened.

That was a wonderful feeling. In the years following, however, I have come to be incredibly grateful for those women who have gone before me & the fact that I am not doing this for the first time, alone. I am especially grateful for those women who are in my life in one way or another, teaching me how to love & teach my children, how to be the mom I want to be.

"Older women likewise are to be.... teaching what is good so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children..." Titus 2:3-4

Some fabulous blogs that I've discovered, as well as some great conversation I've had with my older (and very experienced) sister lately have culminated into me thinking of helping my boys to be mindful, thoughtful of others in life.

Oftentimes I ask one of my boys to do this or that, not taking time to mention the why...and usually it has to do with consideration of others and thoughtfullness. I subscribe to a wonderful blog, and Barb has been doing a little series about instilling good habits, a CM teaching. Here are some of Barb's own ideas of implementing thoughtfulness in her children;
  • All four children share a bathroom and I know they could each show more thoughtfulness in how they leave the bathroom when they are finished in the morning and also in the amount of time they each spend in the bathroom getting their day going
  • Encouraging the children to spend one on one time with each other, especially the older ones with a younger one
  • Thoughtful words are always nice to hear between the children, tone of voice is everything
This leads me to think about how I can help my boys think about being thoughtful toward others, and the consequences of not doing so. I want the boys to see the reason's behind being mindful of others, not just see a rule to be kept or broken.

Adversely, the child who is unaware of the consequences for other of his own actions is driven only by fear or reward of "What will happen to me?" This child is not mindful of others around, and leads to a heart that sees only rules and consequences.

Just food for thought...

"Thoughtfulness's job is simply to make everyday life more pleasant and comfortable for others, even when those others are only the pets that we feed and care for, or our dog who likes to be played with and taken for walks, or our horse that needs not only food and care but encouragement from a friendly touch and word. Our family and friends, both rich and poor, provide lots of opportunities to be thoughtful. A thoughtful person might be described as courteous, kind, accommodating or considerate. His thoughtfulness is shown in a kind word, or by knowing when not to speak, or by his manner, his attention, what he says, or what he does."
Charlotte Mason in Modern English, volume one, page 99-100

Contentment; Part 2

You might remember that a couple of weeks ago I was talking about discontentment, and my journey toward contentment. We're doing a neat book study at Bible Study right now, Cultivating Contentment by the ladies of Women of Faith. It's been a good part of my learning in this area. I am learning. Hopefully it's not just the learning of the mind, but learning of the heart.

These days I'm feeling quite content with our house. Spring finally sprung (at least for this week) and in spite of Eli's deadly fear of bees (or anything with wings) the boys have turned the backyard into a playroom adding serious space to our house. Along with that I love my house and am feeling happy to be there in the spring sunlight.

Have you ever read the book of Ecclesiastes? It's all about contentment. It's all about that empty place in your life that longs for something but can't be filled.

And what do I try and fill that space with? Friends, things, food, I even look to my evening (after-the-kids-are-in-bed-time) to fill me up. But alas, nothing fills.

I know my heart was made to long, to ache sometimes over something that's missing.
"God has made everything beautiful for it's own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart" Ecc 3:11

I have long been aware of the aching, and even the fact that I'm just missing my Father. Missing my Saviour and longing for the day that I get to see Him again.

And do I'm on this journey, and take much comfort that the Wisest man that ever lived, Solomon knew just what I feel and he had much advice for those of us that are discontent.

"Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don't have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless; it is like chasing the wind." Ecc 6:9

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Homeschool works-for-me: house work/ projects

If you've been a home school mom for more than 12 minutes, you've come to realize that things are different for us as homemakers and keepers. I was given a nugget of wisdom early on in this journey of ours that the home that hosts little ones ( and bigger ones too) is NOT a perfectly crisp, tidy home. It's a well lived in home.

(Now if you are thinking about homeschooling, keep reading. This is a how to, not meant to scare you off)

This year I have puzzled over this thought; "How on earth am I ever going to spring clean?"

Well, I mulled it over and over, and at last I came to a fly lady inspired solution; 15 minutes at a time, my friend.

Okay, so not literally 15 minutes, but little bites. So I did this. I made a (mental) list of all the spring cleaning things and organizing projects I wanted to do. I know I would be overwhelmed if I left this in list form, so I took each task and assigned them to a week on my calendar. One week I worked on organizing and cleaning out the pantry. The next week I took on the task of checking out all my smoke alarms (and yes, it took me all week because I procrastinated) . Last week I scrubbed out and organized ALL of the cupboards in the kitchen (big sigh of relief here) and this week I'm going to attack my linen closet. The game for me...I don't look at the following weeks' task. This gives me something to work toward, call me strange but I look forward to the next task.

In the meantime I keep up my normal (fly lady) routine of hitting one normal cleaning thing a day. Mondays I vacuum the house, Tuesdays I do bathrooms, Wednesdays I get the idea. I also keep getting more help from the boys, this is really helping me out. I use them as often as I can and because they earn their allowance this way they're willing hands & hearts (most of the time.)

Oh, and I do not love Tuesdays.

When cleaning out an area, work as long as time (or family) permits and then return to the project when you're able. Get two paper bags, one for trash and one for give-away then don't hesitate to let go of things unless you love them or you use them. This is all Fly Lady inspired, I get no credit except that I've been able to let go of an enormous amount of stuff.

Don't forget to involve your kiddos if they're interested or if you can use the help. Sometimes this is nice to do alone. Your little ones need to learn what it takes to keep a home nice, their spouses will thank you one day.

ie: Joey cleaned out the car the other day. Afterward, we all climbed into the car, one of the boys had a granola bar. Joey said "Make sure you give the wrapper to mom. I just cleaned the car and I don't want to do it again!" Aha!

I figure my house will sparkle in exactly 15ish years when my youngest son moves out and I'm sure right now that's NOT a good thing. In the meantime I'm happy to do the work and organizing as I can.

For some notes on home school planning, check out this article at A High and Noble Calling

Monday, April 20, 2009

Seriously Monday (Weekend Pics)

I'm taking time out today to make another entry for the Simple Woman's Daybook. Read more about her here.

Outside my window... tulips are pushing their way up out of the earth, the sun is singing and it's a happy, happy place
I am thinking...happy thoughts. Sun is good for me.
I am thankful for... not to be redundant, but..the sun. From the learning rooms...we're just getting started today, kids are counting down the days 'til summer. But we're studying plants/roots/seeds in science, Greek Mythology in History, adverbs in LA, units of measurement in math...I'm studying curriculum for next year. :)
From the kitchen...I almost forgot! That keeps happening! I think we're having Chili & cornbread, I'm going to get on that right this moment!
I am wearing... yoga pants, a t
I am creating...a photo album of a blog
I am procrastinate on a trip to Walmart by improvising
I am reading...Cultivating Contentment, Education Is, and Masterly Inactivity
I am hoping...for a good week for a weary friend
I am hearing...boys wrestling in the living room and Ralph cutting the grass out front for the first time in 2009.
Around the house...laundry, need to vacuum, beach towels and boys in swim trunks
One of my favorite things...waking up with the sunlight streaming in through our curtins and a house that I love...yes, I said love. I'll share more of my contentment journey soon.
A few plans for the rest of the week: haircut, worship practice, choir for kids, school, dentist appts, mailing a package, gearing up to go camping.
Here are a few picture thoughts I am sharing...

These are a 'snapshot' of our weekend...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lovin' Literature: Paddle to the Sea

I love it when fellow blogger share books that they're enjoying for themselves or their little ones. I would love to share with you some *living books that we're discovering, as we discover. I hope you'll find these interesting, maybe good gifts or books to check out at the library.

I want to share a favorite book of ours with you:

Paddle to the Sea
by Holling C. Holling

Paddle to the Sea is a story about a small wooden canoe that a child makes and sets to sea. The book tracks the canoe's journey, going through stream to beaver dam, by river to lake and ocean. I have loved this book for all the nature studies and industry the canoe 'observes' as it travels. This is a good family read, provides a lot of platforms for discussion.

What is a living book?

The books Living Books Curriculum uses are considered “living” according to Charlotte Mason. That is, the books “warm the imagination,” nurture thinking, and communicate knowledge mind-to-mind. Children require books that are living in order to develop to their fullest capacity. The high quality of thought expressed in great literature breeds like thought in the child. When the books are many, varied, and living, the child is able to adopt the ideas in them just as a plant takes nutrients from the soil.

“For this reason we owe it to every child to put him (or her) in communication with great minds that he may get at great thoughts…and the only vital method of education appears to be that children should read worthy books, many worthy books.” Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, p. 12.d

Definition taken from Living Books Curriculum

Friday, April 17, 2009

Shout out to Spelling City

I want to share with you a website, Spelling City, that has been a huge help to me and huge fun for the boys. This site allows you to enter the spelling words you're working on currently, it throws them in some magic machine that allows the kids to play games using these very words to reinforce the spelling aspect....hang man, crossword puzzles, word searches.

I really hope you'll try this site too, it's making spelling fun for Joey and helping Nate to learn sight words in a new and fun way. Whether you're home schooling or helping your kids study their own spelling lists from school.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yes, ANOTHER blog

I have started yet another blog and I'd like to invite you in. Sharing the Journey is a members-only, confidential blog, to be used strictly for tracking healthy eating habits, excersize and weight loss. Just check in when you like; set a goal, make a plan for the week...share with us what's working, your progress and your struggles.

This is strictly a place to record progress, get encouraged, work on our goals together. Join up if you want to journey with us.

How to sign up? Drop me a comment or an email at with your email address, I'll send you an invitation to join the blog as a writer. Join us!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Brand New Monday

On my bedside table:
my bible
Masterly Inactivity
The Beach House

On my TV
CyberChase (kid time) Last night we rented Slumdog Millionaire It was really good.

On the menu for tonight:
Hmmm, guess I should figure that out

On my To Do List:
spring clean the kitchen (no small task)
get my haircut
finish baby blanket and ship a package
complete and ship another package
Simplify, slow down, enjoy the days

New Recipe I tried last week:
Fabulous Easter Ham. Ralph did the glaze...ginger snaps, bourbon and mustard. mmm.

In the craft basket:
Blankets are progressing, still.

Looking forward to:

going out with a friend for her birthday, maybe getting a camper, more spring weather, seeing my almost 2 nephew in a little while.

Homemaking Tip for this week:

use a used dryer sheet to scrub dishes with burned on sugar or what not.

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):

This is my favorite. I love the way Amy brags on her family, the way she oozes love for them. :) Thanks Amy, it's contagious!

Favorite photo from last week:

Lesson learned the past few days:

Kids are happier if you keep them productively busy. Especially if they are bored or arguing it's good to grab one and have them help out. They can do an amazing level of work if you let them and cheer them on.

My sweet Critter made smoothies at lunch all by himself today
. It helped me out immensely AND made him so big and proud and capable. A two year old can empty the drier, a three year old can empty the dishwasher. A four year old can pair up socks and anyone can help take out the trash. Vacuum, window washing, clearing the table, pulling weeds... many hands make light work.

3Let not yours be the merely external adorning with elaborateb]"> interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes;

4But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Learning Contentment

Recently I read a couple of posts that really resonated with me. Both of these posts hit on something I think about all the time in my blogging, my desire to be authentic. While most of you who read this are dear friends, obviously one has to be cautious before airing her dirty laundry. At

However, I also have no desire to lead you all to believe that I'm always happy, optimistic, carefree and content. If you've spent any time with me at all you might be chuckling right now because I am just not always these things. I want to be real.

The truth is that like most people that are made of skin, heart, bones and soul I have my good days and bad ones, good attitudes and rotten ones.

So today I'll share a little of the rotten-ness.


I'm really struggling with it. It seems to be a theme in my life that God is addressing, and when it shows up in more than two places in my life ie; conversations, Bible Study, in my book , and in my brain and heart, I know well enough by now to look up at the One who made me and ask for help.

What are you doing in me God? Can you fix, tomorrow? (speaking of discontent...)

So the deal is this; I'm discontent with the size of our house. I KNOW, I know, we have a 2000 square foot house, the most house we've ever had! And I could go on and on about how small it gets when we're all at home, which is all the time (I home school and Ralph works from home) but I'll just mention it and go on. I don' t want to make excuses.

Let me tell you too that I LOVE our home. It's beautiful. I LOVE our neighborhood. I have canyon access and run there, our neighbors are friendly. My kitchen works well for me, I love the tile in my bathroom, I love the windows in our home, I am pretty content to school right at my kitchen table which is the most logical place. I love my family so much, and I love it that we all stay home together. All that being said, I'm somehow discontent.

(I'm not even going to tell you have miserably yucky I feel about being discontent about the size of my home in a day when others around me are foreclosing and trying desperately to sell their homes. We just won't go there. Needless to say, I feel pathetic.)

But I'm not wanting to talk about all that. I'll get over this discontent, eventually. I want to address the discontentment in general.

Phillipians 4:11
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

I'm not there. I want to be.

Ironically, the Bible Study we started last week at church is on the very subject. So I already know God is wanting to do a new thing in me. Maybe I'll even update you along this path with me.

Phillipians 4:12
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Notice in both of the scriptures I quoted, it speaks of "learning to be content." This concept makes me very, very happy. It makes me happy because I know that contentment isn't a built in character trait that only some have. It's something to be attained. Truthfully, I have only met one person in my lifetime that appeared to have learned contentment. So, we have hope friends! (unless of course you're perfectly content)

1 Timothy 6:8
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

God has clearly mapped out for us what it is to be content, and what the benefits are. So now, I just have to get on the bus. I think the beginning of that journey for me looks like a whole lot of thankfulness, and pursuiting my identity in Christ.

Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Knowing that our gracious, loving God cares for us and intends to meet each of our needs in ways we can't even fathom is essential. If we don't KNOW our God, know how much He wants to be all we need, we just can't attain contentment. And I have a great hope, a great promise...

Jeremiah 29:11 says;
I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

John Adams Elder
c. 1880s
Oil on canvas
Virginia Historical Society

Friday, April 10, 2009

Home school Links

I wanted to compile (for your use and mine) some useful sites for schooling and fun. If you have some suggestions, please share!! This is a work in progress


Spelling City
Fun Brain

Lapbooks ~ credit goes to Jenny, thanks!
Home School Share
Lapbook Ladies This is a good place to start, good explanation.
Lapbook Lessons
Lapbook Squidoo

Charlotte Mason (Living Books)
Simply Charlotte Mason
Ambleside Online

Writers Block

Daily Writing Prompts

Book Nook
Guys Read
Reading Schedules ~ how to
Veritas Press ~book suggestions
Sonlight ~ more book ideas
Ambleside Online ~ yet more
Five in A Row ~ books
Total Language Plus

Field Trips
Field Trip Log

Mom Stuff
Masterly Inactivity~ Print off a free ebook
Education Is~ A free ebook

Monday, April 6, 2009

Welcome Baby Boy

My sweet, dear friend had her first baby last night.

What a sweet, sweet baby...isn't he amazing? I can almost smell that sweet baby smell and feel those soft little cheeks.

Great job, God! You always make such beautiful babies!

Monica, you're going to make the most tender and loving mother...and I know Aaron will be a fun and wise father. You guys are blessed!

Congratulations!! Welcome, baby boy!

I didn't have permission to share this info so I left his name out. :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

High Desert Fun~ a forgotten post