Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Night Stop

Outside my window... the moonlight dances on the snow. The icicles reflect the streetlight and I just want to soak it all in.

I am thinking...that having a quiet life is a good thing. My life seems to be getting quieter.

I am thankful for...count them;
  • little boys that are not too big to tackle, to pile in a heap and tickle
  • a husband who will pick up the dish towel and clean up that mess
  • a kind gymnastics instructor
  • a camera that takes wonderful photos, and that I can learn into it
  • a little boy who emptied his pocket of his whole-entire-earned-$2.oo to the Salvation Army man
  • the quiet comfort of the library, rows and rows of books
  • seasons
  • a dinner with a woman not too different than I
  • friends coming to lunch tomorrow
  • grapefruit

From the learning rooms...December is Simple School (thanks Christian). We do some academic work each day and some fun, still more December chores.

From the kitchen...nothing much.

I am wearing...contentment.

I am creating...lists of December things. Organization in our home.

I am going...to move our school to the basement. I have to create a space first.

I am reading...to the boys...a Jesus Advent Celebration, Little House on the Prairie, Story of the World and for me, Sacred Marriage & some gardening books.

I am hoping...to paint, to plant, to purge, to settle.

I am hearing...a quiet, sleeping home.

Around the house...legos, pillows, Santas and twinkle lights. Clean bathrooms and piles of things I don't know where to put. Did I mention that my so-handy-husband has enlarged our bedroom? It now has lovely Eastern morning light. Nevermind the dust...

One of my favorite things...slowing down to see people. To see them.

A few plans for the rest of the week: school, tidying, a lunch date, warming weather-for I'm driving SW this weekend to see my grandfather.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent & a free Jesus Advent Book

Tomorrow, friends, is the beginning of Advent. Advent, waiting for the coming of Christ.

My desire for this December is to keep the peace (mine, mostly) and also to really impart the meaning of Christmas to our boys while celebrating in the normal snowman, Santa, jolly, traditional fashion.

So I've been searching high and low for an applicable way for our family to go through advent.

Today it just fell into my in box.

I've just printed out my copy of "A Jesus Advent Calendar" by Ann Voskamp and Nancy Rodden. I'd like to recommend this book to you also.

Click over to Ann's page, where you can download your free copy of the Advent book.

Each day's discussion has Bible text, a devotional meant to be understood and enjoyed by the whole family, an application (action point) for each day & color print of an ornament, meant for your family's own Jesse Tree.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

A squirrel, birdies, & graces

He's as happy as can be, enjoying the challenge of getting the seed out of my feeder. Though my intent is to draw in the birds, the boys and I truly enjoy the antics of this Fox Squirrel in our yard. There are several that run back and forth on the power lines over our back yard, safe from the lusty jaws of our dog. I have watched these squirrels sit on a stump or fence post and shake their long tails at the dog. I believe that this is a challenge, or maybe even a tease. "Come and get me, go ahead!" They seem to say to Juneau. Taunting little monkeys, they are.

Here you can see he's perched on our feeder, he squirrels down and pulls out the seed for a little morning snack. Fox Squirrels can grow up to 27 inches, their tail is 13 of those 27". They're one of the largest species of squirrels. I have also learned that they tend to mate in December and have babies in February, so we'll be watching for the rituals and signs of nests.

So many people think squirrels are pesky, my husband is not too far from that. Perhaps I can create an affection for them through our studies so he won't develop too much of a desire to rid our yard of them. They can be a bit pesky.
Back to the birds....I set feeders out in the yard and was disappointed to notice that only the squirrels were interested. Then I had a duh moment. I was chatting on the phone upstairs, looking out the windows and saw 5 or 6 birds up in the Sycamores. These are Northern Flicker Woodpeckers, they were poking around under the bark finding bug and spider snacks. I had the epiphany, we have mature trees in our yard....the birds already have home and food here.
Male Northern Flicker.
He is so large, and fun to watch as he pulls pieces of bark away from the tree to find bugs.
Females to match him.

And so this made me realize that there were, indeed, many sparrows living in our line of Cedars, I scooped up a some seed and planted it on the ground next to the Cedars. In no time at all the happy birds discovered the food.
A Dark Eyed Junco (or is it an Oregon Junco?)

...and it got me thinking about Our God, how He loves to pour grace-gifts on us for us to find, gifts to fill both tummy and spirit.

Let's dine friends, on God's Grace in our lives...

Counting God's Blessings...
  1. Snow Days
  2. Teeny buds on my Christmas Cactus
  3. A warm Fire
  4. Blog-Inspiration; Ann, Barb, Angie
  5. Construction (my bedroom is larger today!)
  6. A kind husband to a wife with a cold
  7. Alka-Seltzer
  8. "Come and snuggle me, Mama" at bedtime
  9. Another year to read those 'young' reader books
  10. A whole world in our backyard

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Familiar Places

What a treat to be able to share with you that we have a familiar place. You know, that little place you tend to visit or revisit if you're out for a walk or a little Outdoor Hour. This week we were challenged to visit that familiar place to let our little ones explore and observe the differences that November brings.

I didn't expect Winter.

We have been in this house for two short months, and already we have seen our familiar spot in Summer, Autumn and now we've had a full dose of winter, dumped over top of Autumn.

So we headed out to our familiar spot, with a few layers of clothing, hats, mittens & sleds or disks. The boys flew down the hill that they usually run up to see the river. Then they ran back up. The boys played in the untouched snow until they could go no more. At last they turned around and saw it, our spot in the river.
I overheard conversations:
Where are all the leaves? They're covered by the snow.
Now that the leaves are gone we can see the river so well!
The river isn't frozen, even with all of this snow!
The rocks are hard to see in the snow, but easier to walk on.

Later in the week:
The river is still NOT frozen... :)
Did I ever tell you that we belive Juneau is 60% Husky, 40% Lab? He hates water, but loves, loves, loves the snow.
Do you remember the photos of our Sycamores a week ago? After a windstorm and now the snow, the leaves are gone and have been replaced with white. What a wonderful Thanksgiving we get to have!
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

November 25....& the 26th (Happy Birthday Joe)

Giving Thanks....

For a new home, and a family who will share my Thanksgiving day and dinner with.
For cozy corners in our own home, and an old favorite quilt, and other old favorite things.

For little boys, whose eyes sparkle all the same amber-brown as their daddy. All the same.

A precocious five year old.

A darling and mischievous nearly 7 year old.

And my Thanksgiving baby boy, who'll be 9 tomorrow. Happy birthday sweet boy, my writer and reader, dreamer and snuggler. Wrestling and running and happy and boy. Happy Birthday Joe.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pinecone P.S.

Should you peek at the post below, and think "That would be fun! Let's do that little Woodies craft!" First, hop on over to Barb's blog and consider taking part in her Outdoor Hour Challenge. This very week the study is Pinecones.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Woodsies

A little hard work for some little boys is a good, good thing. I find that it keeps them content.
The results sometime give way to plain old fun. (Do you see two faces in there?)

We walked up and down the streets with a basket in search of treasure.

Basket of booty for boys! We tossed it all out on the table, I grabbed my glue gun and googly eyes. (I make it sound so easy...I had to go to the craft store to get the eyes, mine are packed away somewhere. I found my glue gun in my hubby's workshop. It's never that easy)

Introducing: The Woodsies
below is hockey-playing Woodsy

Nate's little Woodsie family

Eli, minus a shirt. Yes, I KNOW it's November. I know it's cold. I know they should always have shirts on...but they say they're hot! Good grief, here I am in my long johns...I have to stay on top of the shirt thing or they disappear. My boys!!
This trio Joey crafted are an American Indian family, complete with teeny rock papoose.

Our craft/keep your boys happy, interested and busy time is only complete with a little nature dance.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


He is old. He has had a long and wonderful life. This is a comfort, I suppose, knowing he'll soon slip away into Our Father's hands. "There is no sting in it." I tell my husband. But tears come anyway, no sting but an ache in my heart, my grandpa is dying.

I see him kneeling to offer the deer an apple, he kept apples just for feeding the deer that wandered through his yard on the river.

I see him with our Christmas stockings on his feet, laughing and taunting us in our anticipation of finding treasure in those same stockings.

I hear his singing to me, he has a lovely voice, could have been Bing Crosby, I always thought.

Grandpa was a playful one. I was with him when I caught my first fish. He took me on walks and he saw me when I was there with him. He never overlooked me.

Tonight I toss around sadness that I didn't know him better. I didn't hear more of his story. Laced with guilt, I think on him and that I should have had more time with him. I don't like it that I feel guilty, but there it is. I regret that I didn't have more of HIS STORY to go on, to know him, to hear who he was and why he is that man.

He will be gone soon, his life is slipping away. I wonder about my sweet Grandma, she is not ready for him to be gone. I wonder what it's like when the reality hits a woman, that her husband-of-a-lifetime will be gone soon. I pray her heart will slip into this truth, that it won't knock her down.

Stumbling around, I try and learn to be sad. My heart doesn't like it. I want to swallow this apple-sized lump in my throat and tell myself something that makes the hurt go away. But sad is good. It's important. It's part of my story. So I'll clunk through today, wear my sad heart quietly and just be. The apple can stay there in my throat until the flood comes.

I will miss my grandpa.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Autumn Outdoor Hour

The boys and I hit the river again for our Outdoor Hour with Barb. This week we were challenged to observe both the weather and the change of the seasons. We bundled up in our warmest and packed up some hot chocolate & sketch books and headed down.

The boys are so content just to go to the river, they didn't need to have a task or challenge. I kept them close long enough for us to make some observations.

Eli's took notice immediately, and saw that the sun was hidden by the fog and clouds. Fog was an item of great interest. When we looked it up: While fog is a type of a cloud, the term "fog" is typically distinguished from the more generic term "cloud" in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated locally (such as from a nearby body of water, like a lake or the ocean, or from nearby moist ground or marshes)

Summer or Autumn, rocks abound & are treasures for our pockets

We've discussed how the fog hovers over the river oftentimes in the morning and burns off as the sun rises.

We observed that the leaves in the trees are thinning and the rocks were covered, and that they make the gravel more comfortable to sit on.
The day's stats: 9:00 a.m Nov 5
47.8 degrees
Wind blows off the river, to the West
Dew on the rocks near the river, from the fog?

I printed out a simple weather chart, and contemplated investing in a barometer and rain & wind gauges. I know my husband will love these things. I plan to post the weather chart by the back door, with hopes that the boys will take readings as frequently as they like. (Thanks Barb, for this inspiration!)

Hot Chocolate, mugs abandoned

The boys stayed at our beach spot long enough to get warmed by hot drinks and visit, then they were off to explore. I crept up to the river trail where I could catch a view, reading from The Handbook of Nature Study about weather and the historical development of the study & prediction of.

Summer/ Autumn Contrast: Green tree leaves are now golden, yellow and brown ground leaves. The air is cooler, when the sun is out it's warm but not hot. We haven't been here long enough to notice where the sun is rising...that will come. Autumn has fewer bugs, snakes, critters but we still hear the birds in the nearby trees. The air smells wet.

Dandelions revisited; we didn't find a single blooming dandy, but many have gone to seed.

Before Eli blew these seeds off, I heard him whisper "God, I wish for sisters. Amen" Too cute!

Perhaps our favorite season monitor so far, the Sycamores in our yard. Beauties!! When we got home, the boys added treasure to our nature collection & sat down to nature journals to sketch. I regurgitated what I read in the Handbook, we discussed the chapter more.
What little boys are made of.
These little ones, the joy of my heart!

Boys' Noise School Report

October has been a settling month for our family. The last couple of weeks started to feel like new normal, I think we all welcomed that.

Elijah, as I've shared, has been working on his early reading skills. He accomplished the wonderful milestone of reading his first words this month. I'm thrilled for him, he's thrilled!

In Math Eli is practicing writing numbers, reading analog time, calendar, knowing coin value and doing some small adding with those coins. He has been doing some simple addition as well.

For reading we are working through Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, for fun we pick through the "Bob" books and other library books.

First Grade

Nate has also taken a huge step in his reading journey. He had been fighting through reading work for a good year. It's been work for him. But this month we seemed to have broken the dam, and he's really successfully sounding out words, and sometimes just blurting them out. I'm so pleased with Nate's hard work, and grateful for the process. This is a good reminder that sometimes waiting for these milestones is all you can do....wait. But the wait works.

For Math, Nate is working through Saxon 1. It seems to be a little daunting for him so he works through a lesson every other day, the other days he works math worksheets. He is working on subtraction and addition. We also are working on the calendar, money math and telling time.

In Reading, Nate reads the level 2 Bob books, and we're also working phonics with the 100 easy lessons. I'm thrilled at his progress this year.

Third Grade
Joey is speeding through Saxon 6/5. We just hit long division, he's begun fractions and been perfecting multiplication this month.

This year Joey is taking a class, Essentials of the English Language. In this class we're studying grammar, spelling, and writing. Joey edits a paragraph each work, and has memorized the 112 possible parts of a sentence. Sounds daunting, eh? We're doing some sentence diagramming as well. I say we....yes, we. ;) For writing he's been creating keyword outlines, then rewriting paragraphs using important things such as quality adjectives, strong verbs and clinchers. Joey will take this class for the next 3 years, by the time he enters 6th grade he should be able to impress anyone with his knowledge and familiarity of the English language.

Essentials is part of Classical Conversations.


I read, which is most certainly a favorite activity here, daily from numerous books. We finished Farmer Boy of the Little House series this month. This very nearly brought me to tears, I found I was quite attached to Almanzo and his family and farm of integrity. So we march on into Little House on the Prairie. I'm also reading from Story of the World Vol. II; the Middle Ages. Highlights have been Robin Hood, (of course!) Charlemagne, & Muhammed. I'm also reading from various science books to the boys, we're studying the solar system. For Bible we're reading out of the book of Luke.

For Classical Conversations this year we are learning about the Middle Ages in History. Math is the same each year, memorizing the multiples of all numbers up to 15, and in English we're memorizing Pronouns, etc. Latin is latin, and Geography is Europe & Asia. In Science we've been studying the solar system and other natural sciences.

For example, one History sentence we have memorized: After the church split into Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, William the Conqueror defeated King Harold of England in 1066 and started Feudalism.

We are also memorizing scripture to recite at Awana, doing our occasional Nature Study and sketchy Tuesday, as well as Lego Challenges (see the side bar for links).

We have had walks to the river and park, a trip to the Pumpkin Patch. The boys have started gymnastic classes that they love and we've done a few fall crafts.

Ambitions for Next Month

I've been working hard to figure out how to get in a little more fun. For November we're going to label Fridays "Unschool Friday" 'cause I've always envied those unschooling households just a little but know that I need a little structure in life to actually get something done too. So Friday's you'll find us out and about, playing games or crafting--doing fun school things that don't fit into our other days.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Maizy Pumpkin Squash: Cast Your Vote over on the Right!!

(This one is for you, Karyn, my friend. Karyn, who has great confidence in my photography skills, says that I could find something great to photograph even in a decrepit end-of-season pumpkin patch)
Our annual trip to the Pumpkin Patch was a hoot. Of course it always helps when a) we go on a cloudy, cool October afternoon and b) that afternoon is a weekday when all the rest of the kiddos are sitting at school so we can have the bounce house to ourselves for a good hour. Or should I say...the boys can have it & I can sit and chat with my mama, uninterrupted for a bit. ...and then get up off my laurels to chase me some boys in the corn maize that's full of old corn...these boys, who weren't bothered by the cold, spent more time husking than cruising. Fine by me.

Then we were off to a quiet hay ride out to the pumpkin patch. We already had pumpkins at home and I didn't want to pay a gazillion $/pound so we just looked over all the neato varieties there and I spent time day dreaming about just what kind of pumpkins we'd be harvesting next year. You just watch. :) So take a good look in the photo above and see if you can find my littlest pumpkin, he's in there! If you click on the image you should be able to find him for sure.

Since we didn't need to find a pumpkin to buy and we had time until our hay ride left the station, we decided on a hunt for the ugliest/ most rotten pumpkin. Please take time to vote for the grossest pumpkin, in your humble opinions. The boys would like to know.

Nate's pumpkin is nicely adorned with some late in the season rot, with a bonus bug habitat inside.

Joey's specimen is a beautiful, ovalish puddle of goo, mold and slime-seeds. Last but not least, Eli's squash is just that. Squashed. Moldy and oozing, a beauty!

Don't forget to vote. Children's votes count for two!! There is an easy vote box on the side bar to the right. :) Happy Weekend!