Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rifles For Watie Book Report

Written by the Science Guy, 14.

Book: Rifles for Watie, by Harold Keith

Published 1957 by Harper Collins, Newberry Award Winner

Rifles for Watie is the story about Jeff Bussey, a young man from Kansas and his life during the Civil War.  It tells how he joins the army and struggles against the enemy, hunger, fear, cruel officers, utter exhaustion, and his deep feelings for family, friends, and the people he has come to know throughout his journey, on both sides of the war.

After an attack on his house in which his father was almost killed, Jeff becomes determined to aid the war effort.  He quickly leaves and joins up with the Union Army, but is unfortunately put under the cruel and tyrannical command of Captain Asa Clardy.  After trekking hundreds of miles by day and night his regiment finally meets the enemy and gets their first taste of battle.  Much to Jeffs dissappoinment he is sent off to find an officer somewhere back in the ranks and misses out on his share of the battle.  Later, as he rushes to meet the returning soldiers, he finds that many of his friends have been shot to death and many others are horribly injured.

Over the next couple of years his regiment marches hundreds of miles more and fights battles.  Also Jeff gets to know what it is like to be a soldier in the infantry, a gunner in a battery of artillery, a trooper in the calvalry, and eventually a scout who is sent to spy behind enemy lines.

During his first mission he becomes lost and is accidentally drafted into the Rebel Army.  He is warmly cared for by the Rebels and finds that they are not monsters but loving people who are fighting for what they believe in.  Jeff makes many close friends in the Rebel Army and in the South.  He eventually discovers a secret plot against the Union Army.  Should he return to the Union?  Jeff is from the Union, the Union told him that these, his Rebel friends, are the enemy.  But the Rebels have loved him whereas the officers in the Union starved him and treated him harsh and unkindly.  Jeff struggles as his heart is torn between the two sides.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Corn Tortilla Chicken Lasagna

I’ve made this twice now, and while it is a bit time consuming to put together, it makes two 9×13 dishes and is so delicious it’s worth it.

For your consideration and enjoyment!

Corn Tortilla Chicken Lasagna
  • 36 corn tortillas
  • 6 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast (about 3 lbs.)
  • 4 cups pinto beans
  • Three 16 oz. jars of your favorite salsa (I use La Victoria: one mild red, one mild green, and one medium red — use what you like. )
  • 4 cups sour cream
  • 15 oz. can ripe olives, sliced
  • 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
Prepare two 9×13 in. baking dishes with non-stick spray and arrange 6 tortillas in each dish; then top tortillas with 1 cup chicken, 2/3 cup pinto beans, 1 cup salsa, about 9 evenly spaced dollops of sour cream, 1/2  cup Jack and 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese.  Repeat layers two more times, adding the sliced olives to the third layer before adding the cheeses.
Cover dishes and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and sides are bubbly.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Makes two, 12-15 serving casseroles.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Something New!

We have a few new things happening in our schooling this year –

The first is our schedule, which I was very fearful of last week (see HERE), but that fear has turned to rejoicing  in the LORD with a full heart!  We are out of the home every day of the week and so the children must have all of their schoolwork done before Noon on most days.  A week ago, I would have thought this was impossible — but nothing is impossible with Jesus Christ!

Our next new thing is that Science Guy started a Biology class this week, using the Apologia Biology text.  He finished Physical Science in the nick of time – doing tests 14, 15 and 16 near the end of last week.   (he had finished the text and experiments, just forgot to take the tests.  A minor detail, apparently.  ;-) The first class went well and he has completed all of his homework for the next one. 

While we’re on the subject of science and Apologia, I’ll mention that The Badger started General Science this week, too.   This is a small part of my praise ~~~  My younger son, who just turned 13 — I was debating whether to start him in this or not.  I even asked older son his opinion — he knows the text, he knows the work that is required — how do you think he will do if he starts this?  We were both of the same opinion, that he is capable of it, but it may be a bit much reading for him.  Well, I dropped it for the time being and thought maybe we’ll come back to it in a few months and see at that time.  Younger son, who didn’t know that any of this was going on, came to me not even 15 minutes later and asked if he could start General Science.  Can you picture the stunned look on my face?  Can you see the LORD smiling?    Yes, dear, of course you can do General Science if you’d like to.  :-)   ~~~

Also daughter, Little Tipua, is almost finished with her science, so we looked and decided that she and the Badger will be doing Apologia Exploring Creation with Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day together.  I think we’ll do this Monday/Wednesday while Science Guy is in Biology, and Friday our fun day.  And since Tipua enjoys science, and namely Sonlight science, I will be getting Sonlight Science 2 for her to do herself.
That’s it.  Nothing else is new because we love what we’re doing and there’s no reason to change!  So here’s a quick run down of our curriculum:
  • Bible – we read the Bible, King James Version.  Daring, I know, but why read someone else’s thoughts on what the Bible says when you can go to the source, the author and finisher of our faith?  We also use Christian Manhood
  • Reading – we use Pathway and Christian Light Readers.  Sometimes with, sometimes without the accompanying workbooks.  They are nice, wholesome stories that the children will read and inevitably say "That was a good story, Mom."  Both are available for K-8th grade.
  • Math – Math-U-See has been our choice for the past three (or has it been four?) years and will continue to be.
  • Spelling – Spell to Write and Read.  We don’t use all of it, but it is a thorough program and easily adaptable to our needs.  I do more with one child and less with another, as is appropriate for the individual.
  •  English – Shurley English, Homeschool Edition.  We only do this three or four times a month, but it builds such a great, solid foundation that we refer to it frequently when doing other assignments.
  • History – This is our variety!  Some favorites that we go back and forth between – one year this and the next year that – are Sonlight, we’re doing Eastern Hemisphere (5) this year, daughter has done Intro to World Cultures (K).  Beautiful Feet is a favorite.  We’ve done Early Am. History, Elementary and Upper Elementary, the History of Science, US and World History, History of Classical Music and Science Guy will soon be starting Medeival History.  Then, a wonderful unit study that I HAVE to recommend is Prepare and Pray.  If I had discovered this when the boys were younger — Oh!  the fun we would have had!!  Now we do it in pieces, a unit here and a unit there as a break from regular school and for some summer fun.
I’m sure there’s more, but I have to go!

Click HERE to see what others are doing!

This post was originally published @ as an assignment from Homeschool Memoirs 2008-2009

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Our Homeschool Routine

I almost didn’t want to post on this one since we cannot follow a schedule – at least not a specific time slot schedule.  We’ve tried it before and the children didn’t like it, couldn’t understand why they had to stop in the middle of something and move on to the next thing, and it all reminded me a bit too much like the conditioning ring of the school bell.   I visited a few other HM members, though, and saw that they didn’t have schedules either.   So, okay, maybe I can do this.

Our Homeschooling Routine is as follows:  (Very Loosely!)
  • I try to get up an hour or two before the children do so that I can have my quiet time in the morning
  • Between 7 and 8 a.m. I wake up the children.  They usually have 30-45 minutes to wake up, shower/dress, and have breakfast before I call them to the table to get started on their work.
  • During the course of the day they work on Math, Handwriting, Science, Reading, & Bible.
  • At some point during the morning, we’ll all sit on the couch together and do our Bible reading, memorization, & singing followed by our History read-alouds.
  • Break for lunch and chores
  • In the afternoon, continue with their schooling
  • Sometimes we’ll have more reading in the afternoons, but not too often because I tend to fall asleep if I sit on the couch after lunch!!
  • One day a week I’ll do spelling with each child (2s+1d), and an English lesson with my sons
  • When they’ve done work in each area of their assignment sheet for the day, then they are free to do what they like, get started on afternoon pick-up (before Dad gets home), or work on something extra.
This is all how it has been.  Starting next week everything will be different and I’m not sure what we’re going to do about it. 

Can I take a moment to whine?  Just a little?  I’ll do it softly, I promise.   See, here’s how it all works out: 
  1. For the summer, friends and I started gathering for a P.E. day for our older sons.  Since we were meeting anyway, we decided to go ahead and do a Bible study together.   I thought it was only going to be for the summer, but now it isn’t and so that is one afternoon of my week not at home. Tuesday.
  2. Older son is taking a Biology class this year and for some reason it is meeting twice a week for an hour and half.  Can’t it meet once a week for three hours??  Two afternoons of my week not at home.  Monday/Wednesday.
  3. Because of Biology, we had to chage the day of our piano lessons.  I guess I was not clear with the teacher and when she was making up her fall schedule, she scheduled us for Thursday.  Now a fourth afternoon that I am not at home.
  4. I’ve been wanting to do something with daughter for some time now, even trying over a year ago to get a small needleworking group together for mothers and daughters.  Well, guess what?  Another mom is getting one together, and it looks like it is actually going to happen.   It IS only an hour, and it IS fairly close to home, but it IS on Friday – the last day of the week that I had free.
So, if this is what our year is actually going to look like, then we will be doing schoolwork only in the morning hours.   (just had a dramatic demonstration of this on the chalkboard – Monday after 12:00 – GONE.  Tuesday after 12:00 – GONE.  Wednesday after 12:00 – GONE.  Thursday after 12:00 – GONE.  Friday after 12:00 GONE.)

If anyone wants to offer some advice, hints, tips, suggestions, sanity savers, etc. please DO!!

Otherwise it looks like we’ll all be starting our day EARLY!

This post was originally published @ as an assignment from Homeschool Memoirs 2008-2009

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How Much Did You Say?

We journeyed over the hill to our County Library’s Annual Book Giveaway today.

We missed last year due to our vacation, so the children wanted to be sure and go this time.

Well, it was worth the trip.  I found quite a few worthwhile books both for school and personal reading, as well as a few books for friends on particular subjects that I know they are studying or interested in.

The biggest prize of the day, for Science Guy, was a set of Science Encyclopedias.  A 20 volume set, brand new — they look like they’ve never been touched.  For Free

He wanted to impress Dad so we looked up how much the set was worth if we had purchased it.

Are you ready?

I wasn’t.

Here goes -

The McGraw Hill Science and Technology Encyclopedia
McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology by McGraw-Hill: Book Cover

can be purchased through Barnes & for $3,000.00!!!


Double Wow!

Okay — Triple WOW!

He’s enjoying them even more now, knowing how much they are worth -

And I’m feeling pleasantly frugal.

This post was originally published @

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our Homeschooling Agenda

This week’s assignment is to share what our plan is for the 2008-2009 school year, what curriculums are we using, what ages am I teaching, etc.

I have to start of by saying that I love planning!  My very favorite part of homeschooling (other than those wonderful moments when you see that light in the children’s eyes that they get it, they learned. they’re really enjoying what they are doing) is to sit down with my computer and a stack of books and plot out subjects and pages and days and weeks.   I started with a weekly assignment sheet that I found at and modified it to fit our needs.  I’ve been using it, or something very like it, for several years now.  This year I’ve moved away from putting days or dates on their assignment sheets (because it was discouraging to them and to myself when we would seemingly be a day or several days behind because no school was done as a result of something that came up – an unexpected visit, a needed appointment, some work that needed doing, etc.)  So now I’ve modified our assignment sheet once again and simply put 7-10 days worth of assignments onto their sheet and they check things off as they finish them.  This is less stressful for both them and me and if they are enjoying a subject, such as science, they are free to go ahead and do the next lesson or two and stick with the concept being taught / explored; or they’ll choose to do their entire math lesson in one day instead of spread out over 3 or 4 days.  It gives all of us a little more freedom to stop when we need to or to move ahead when the desire is there — and when they’ve finished their assignments, I make a new one!

Now as far as curriculum goes, we’ve always used a little of this and a little of that.  Before I tell you what we’re using I feel a need to to share something.  A word of caution, if you will.  For years I gathered catalogs and look them over 20  times or more and made lists of wants and Need To Get!, etc.  A few years ago I finally realized that all those catalogs were doing was making me discontented and covetous!  I thought of all the time I had wasted pouring over and over those pages when I could have been making cookies for my family, or reading to my children, or kissing my husband, or studying the Word of God.  I remembered all the covetous thoughts I had about wanting this or that since it was New! and sounded like it was just what we needed to spice up our homeschooling!   I was dissatisfied with the purchases I had made, discontent that we didn’t have to money to get MORE, and generally obsessed with something I couldn’t have.  I had looked at and wanted those things for so long that it was hard to remember sometimes what I already had and what I didn’t – - because some of those things had become so real to me, after staring at them in the catalog long enough it almost seemed like I had seen it on my shelf.  Thankfully, our LORD is full of grace and mercy and he allowed me to wake up to all of this.  Now, after homeschooling for 9+ years, I know what works for us and I know the companies that carry what we need.  If I receive any catalogs in the mail, they go immediately into the garbage can.  I have now taken full control and WHEN we are in need of something new or the next level then I go to the source and get WHAT we need, nothing more.   I cannot tell you the peace that has resulted from this change.  I can now relax and focus on teaching and spending time with my children.  I can enjoy and get the most out of the curriculum that I’ve chosen.  I can rest in the LORD knowing that he provides all of my needs and that he doeth all things well.
Now, finally!! — I’ll share with you what  each of my children does:  (I should also tell you really quick that we don’t do grade levels, as in "I’m in 4th grade".  The children have always done the work that they are capable of doing whether it is a grade level behind or two grades ahead.  The only exception to this is that, for practical reasons, The Science Guy is now entering high school.)

Mr. Science Guy, soon to be 15, is obviously very interested in science. 
  • He is finishing up Apologia’s Physical Science – Module 15 –  and will be starting a Homeschool class of Apologia Biology in September. 
  • He’s on Lesson 17 of Math-U-See Algebra 1. 
  • For History, he is coming to the end of a Civil War study by Beautiful Feet – he really enjoyed reading Rifles For Watie and is now reading The Red Badge of Courage to be followed by a few books on Robert E. Lee as well as several DVD’s about the Civil War that we checked out from the library which includes Ken Burns excellent series.  He’s also doing an ongoing study of the History of Classical Music, also by Beautiful Feet.  Right now he is reading a biography on J. S. Bach.  As a group we are using Sonlight 5 Eastern Hemisphere.  We are in curently in Japan. 
  • As part of Sonlight 5 Bible, both boys are using Remembering God’s Awesome Acts
  • For spelling, he’s on list T6 in Spell To Write And Read. 
  • For handwriting practice he does journal entries on topics of his own choosing, with occasional suggestions from me. 
  • English is Shurley English 4 which Science Guy and younger brother, The Badger, are doing together.  
  • He takes piano lessons and has recently started 60 min. lessons so each day he must practice a minimum of 60 minutes, which usually isn’t  a problem because he enjoys it so much.  
  • Science Guy is also loosely using the four year curriculum Listen My Son which we are mostly using as a framework, for Scripture memorization, and as a reading list.
The Badger, 13, is interested in anything animal – but NOT insects!!  ;-)
  • For History the Badger is doing Sonlight 5 Eastern Hemisphere and all of the reading that goes along with that.
  • As part of Sonlight 5 Bible, both boys are using Remembering God’s Awesome Acts
  • The Badger also chose Sonlight for his Science this year and is doing Science 4, Electricity, Magnetism and Astronomy.
  • For reading, he usually goes back and forth between the Christian Light Publication  readers and the Pathway Readers with their accompanying Light Units/workbooks.  He was shown some summer mercy this year, though, and allowed to do his current reader without the workbook.  He is grateful for this and is having a very nice time reading Building Our Lives which he will finish before we go on vacation in October.  His next book will be either CLP‘s  Bridges Beyond or Open Windows, with the Light Unit workbooks which I just love because it covers so many different areas of not only reading comprehension, a Bible memory verse which acocmpanies the story, but vocabulary and english/parts of speech and sentence structure that helps reinforce what he’s learning or learned in Shurley English.
  • English is Shurley English 4 which The Badger and older brother Science Guy are doing together.
  • Handwriting for right now are his choice of verses copied from the Bible until I can order one of the great Copywork Booklets from Queen Homeschool Supply that he’s used before and really liked.  He also is required to write in his journal at least once a week.
  • Math is Math-U-See’s Epsilon that he recently started.
  • Spelling is Spell To Write And Read, he’s on list N5.
  • Piano lessons for the Badger are 30 minutes, which requires at least 30 minutes a day of practicing.  Sometimes this was very hit and miss so we instituted the policy that since the money to pay for lessons comes from Daddy working, then if you don’t practice you need to pay.  So for every day they don’t practice, they must put $1.50 into our savings can.
Last is my little Tipua, age 10.  She’s 10 – do I need to say more? – and loves all things DOGS!!
  • Tipua loves to read and has been reading a good selection of books lately that include short and easy dog stories along with more involved books like Little Miriam of Galilee and The King’s Daughter.
  • For History, she participates with us as we do our read-alouds and activities for Sonlight 5 Eastern Hemisphere.
  • Her handwriting Tipua is finishing the memory verses that were included in Sonlight K Bible, Sing the Word From A to Z.   She writes the verse every day for a week and when she can recite the Scripture with book/chapter/verse, then she moves on to the next one.  The songs on the tape, which usually are not the entire verse, have made it easy for her to recall the verses, which she writes and memorizes in their entirety.  She’s also started copying the book of Genesis into a composition notebook and has finished 5 chapters so far.
  • For her Science, she gets the best of all worlds.  She does her own Sonlight Science K (her brothers both enjoy watching her DVD with her) and then she watches each of them do their science and hear their explanations of why this or that happened.  The blessing of teaching many together!
  • Tipua’s only recently started Spelling, but she enjoys it and asks for it a lot!  She also uses Spell To Write and Read and is on list H1.
  • She has been whizzing through math lately and only a few months ago started Math-U-See’s Beta which she is almost finished with.  Luckily – or thanks to good planning – I already have Gamma ready and waiting for her!
  • For reading, Tipua is in the CLP reader Helping Hands that she does with the Light Units.  Now that she’s been doing it for a while, she knows what to do and almost does it herself – even going so far as to scratch out the particulars of phonics which are included at this level that we don’t do because they teach the traditional way instead of how she is learning the phonograms and sounds through SWR.
  • On her own, she is also reading through the Pathway Reader Climbing Higher  just because she wants to!  :-)
  • My Tipua also takes lessons – she actually couldn’t wait to because she so wanted to be doing what both of her brothers were! – and so needs to practice 30 minutes a day. 
In addition to this, we have a time of reading the Bible together at least once a day, sometimes two.  (Morning or Morning and Afternoon).  During this time we read a chapter or two from our current book, Acts right now, work on any memorization, recite the books of the Bible, sing some favorite hymns and occasionally learn a new one.  When we are having a particularly hard day, we also take the time to sit down in a circle and everyone has to say one thing that they really enjoy or appreciate about the others.  It really works! 

That is the basic framework of our school year.  We school almost year’round with breaks as we need them for vacations, family needs, volunteering opportunities, or just because!

My scripture for this week’s assignment is:
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:   Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.   For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:  So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.   For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  Isaiah 55:6-12

Click on the Icon above to see more homeschooling agendas!

This post originally published @ for Homeschool Memoirs 2008-2009

Thursday, August 21, 2008

All About Me!

About me?  Really?  Okay – here goes.

I’m a happy-to-be-40-something wife to DH and Mom to four incredible blessings.   I keep busy trying my best to be a Home Keeper/Manager, with everything smoothly running so that we’re able to focus on the important things and not get bogged down by a lack of socks or an empty jug of orange juice.  In my free time (LOL!!!) you’ll find me stamping cards to send or give away to friends, sewing clothing for my daughter and others, or working on my latest crochet project – which could be potholders, a baby afghan, or a blue-ribbon winning afghan for the County Fair.  I’m also slowly ridding my home of hot-spots that attract clutter like an electro-magnet, and cleaning out an overcrowded, mouse-infested garage.  Yuck!!

My DH is a busy Vice-President of his local union who is on top of all the minute details at work but can’t remember anything at home.  How does that work?  ;-)

My children are not so little children anymore.  The firstborn, the Angel, is 23 and has Angelman Syndrome, which, if you are not familiar with it, essentially makes him a 6 foot tall toddler who loves hugs and kisses and snuggles.  We made the very difficult decision 7 years ago to place him in a care home very near to us when he was taller and stronger than I and seeing to his very demanding physical needs was more than I was physically able to do.  Our second son, the Science Guy, is 14 and loves, guess?? , science!  He reads and reads and loves all the technical details of atoms and protons and how gravity works and that time moves faster in space and, and, and .  .  .  He’s currently finishing up a study on the Civil War and looking forward to starting a study on Mediaval times, as well as an ongoing reading/listening list of the history of Classical Music.  Our third son, the Badger, is 12.95/13ths and loves all things animal and is slowly working his way through the Boy Scout handbook.  He’s a fighter with a very tender side, and when he repents you can easily see that it is from the depths of his heart.   Our fourth child and only daughter, Tipua (tee-pOO-ah),  is a 10 years old and a joy.  She’s funny and quick and brightens everything.  Plus, she loves being my helper and all around side-kick.  Her nickname is just something that came to us one day as she was acting silly – and is a reflection of our enjoyment and interest in India.  We’ve homeschooled from the very beginning and can’t imagine doing anything else.  And yes, we are homeschooling through High School, and maybe even college!

We spend our days homeschooling and homeworking and training in the nurture and admonition of the LORD, which is really the hardest part, isn’t it?  Daily I must be that example of denying self, loving service, and following Christ.


This was our 2006 Christmas photo – a favorite!

This post originally published @ as an introduction for Homeschool Memoirs 2008-2009

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

End of Summer Sweetness


Here’s a bit of summer sweetness – a dress for Miss M’s daughter, Little Miss K.

Made in a soft pink seersucker, with cap sleeves and just-right pockets.  I added a little swirl stitching to the top of the pocket edge, and finished the bottom hem with a scalloped stitch.  And once again, I altered the pattern so that the bodice is completely lined and no seams are exposed.  I also did french seams on the skirt.

This post originally published @

Sweet Apron Set


I occasionally sew for others, and this is a set of aprons ordered by Miss M for she and her daughter.  I love the little petit four fabric.  I think they turned out very well!



They are all folded up, with the little matching doll apron on top.

I’ve also made an apron for my wonderful Sister-In-Law – but mailed it before I could take a picture.  Here’s the fabric I used, a lovely lavendar watercolor  –


This post originally published @

Friday, August 1, 2008


I’m trying to lose some weight. 

I need to lose a lot, but I just have a small goal for myself right now so that it doesn’t seem completely out of reach.  As always, the first day was hard, but the last few have been fairly easy.  I’m drinking well, not snacking at all, and have only had smaller,  regular meals.  Yet the scale stays the same,




There’s one part of my brain that is rebelling (doesn’t it always!) and saying "How could you NOT be losing weight?  You were eating this, and that, and that and, oh yeah, that, too.  The numbers on the scale should be moving a lot faster!"   The logical side of my brain says that "You’re doing really well in controlling your eating and changing your focus  away from food.  Don’t worry about the numbers, you’re just at a plateau and if you keep doing what you’re doing, then soon enough the scale will show that.  Keep up the good work!"  I know that’s true.  It’s just .  .  . 


This post originally published @

A Good, Productive Homeschooling Day OR Wow! Sometimes this really DOES work!!

The day started early for me, which is how all of the really good days begin. 

I read in Hebrews a bit, checked my e-mail, and then woke up my youngest son, H, who wanted to get up early and look around at the on-line Scout Shop.  While he was waking I went and got honest-to-goodness dressed!  I got H set up at the computer and then figured that since he’s up I might as well wake up his older brother, J, too.  I started the never-ending-vortex blessed chore of laundry for the day, and then made up a new school schedule for the baby girl, only daughter R, by which time her radar had gone off and she, too, was awake for the day.

Breakfast, consisting of  incredibly not healthy left-over pizza, was finished by 8:15 am and our school day was started.  They all automatically started on their math without me even saying anything, so I let them have at it!  Who am I to interrupt the flow?  Well, I did interrupt to show the boys the new style assignment sheet that I made for R and asked if they would like one.  J said sure but H said that he’d rather have the old kind.  Yep.  He’s my traditionalist!  We’re all happily sitting at the table, busily engaged in our own endeavors – me especially happy because they are working without me asking =-O and because I get to do assignment sheets!!  If I had to pick a very favorite part of homeschooling, it would hands down be planning!  I could spend days mapping out the whole year, and even if only half of it ever came to fruition, I’d still be good.

While assigning, I notice that H hasn’t been assigned any specific reading (he’s just had free reading for the last month) and so I give him the next Pathways Reader — with the bad news that since I don’t have the workbook for this, he’ll just have to settle for reading the book alone without any workbook pages.  Visibly ecstatic, delighted, Trying his hardest to control his emotions, he tells me "That’s all right, Mom."  (I really don’t have the workbook but I was also having a little bit of summertime pity on this younger son who does not enjoy workbooks – not all workbooks, mind you, just the ones that ask him really hard questions like "What do YOU think?")  He quickly finishes his math and settles on the couch almost gleefully to enjoy his new workbook-free reader. 

By  the time I finish with the assignment sheets, they are done with their math and reading, respectively, so we gather on the couch for our time together.  We read Proverbs 31, sung Saviour Like a Shepherd (chosen by R) and A Mighty Fortress (chosen by J), then they each played their favorite song that they’re currently practicing on the piano.  Afterwards, we had a discussion about what schoolwork will be brought along when we vacation at the beach in October.  If you’re interested, J will bring Biology, Math, and the books he is reading for US History and History of Classical Music;  H will bring Math, Science and his reading; R said right off "Math!" followed by her piano books, which they all will take since the house we are renting has a piano.  We’ll also bring the books that she and I are reading and projects we’re working on as part of Training Our Daughters To Be Keepers At Home.

Now that that’s all settled, for the time being anyhow, Onward Ho!  H sits down to do his science and J settles in to start a biography on J.S.Bach.  I’m on the laptop at the table deciding if I should purchase the workbooks H will need now, or wait a few weeks, and then trying to guage how quickly R will finish Beta (Math) and will need the student books for Gamma.  Meanwhile, R is next to me and has done the Before stuff in her workbook and is now reading the story.  When she’s finished reading, we go through the questions together and she is delighted to be able to tell me all the things that happened in the story.  By the way, I decided that I can wait on all the curriculum — but I really do need to get busy and order Biology for J so that he’s ready to go when the class starts in September.  During this time, J and I also have a discussion of his next, last (sob!) four years of school and the pace he wants to set for himself as far as his math and science books go.  (These are really good to have every now and then because they get him motivated to focus and see his goal.)

11:45 am means an early lunch for us.  They have 45 minutes before we sit down to read again.
After lunch, we settle on the couch again, this time to read our Eastern Hemisphere history/social studies together.  Two chapters of Born in the Year of Courage, then we watch a DVD on Japanese history.  Because of a discussion we get into, we re-watch part of yesterday’s DVD about the Samurai Swords and how they are made in order to verify a point.   R takes her turn of practicing the piano, H heads to the bedroom to do Spanish, and J sits down to write in his journal.  I crochet while R practices, and fold laundry, offering tips and a soothing voice when needed. 

The day goes by and soon it’s time for dinner.  R and I put on our aprons and head to the kitchen.  I’ve already started some Foccacia bread, on the dough cycle in the bread machine, so she starts cooking the onions and sausage while I go to the pantry for the rest of our ingredients.  She unloads  the dishwasher while I cut tomatoes into our sauce and start the water for the pasta.  Simmer, boil, stir, test, grate cheese, drain, mix, bake, and bake again.  Dinner is on the table and is delicious.  Husband says it is the best batch of Foccacia we’ve had yet!  I always use the same recipe, so maybe his tastebuds were just really hungry for it!

Dinner is all cleaned up - the boys pitched in and helped R, who is currently on dinner duty.  We decide to go for a walk.  Even Husband comes!  On the way back, J gathers some newspapers from the recycling bins that have been set out for our pick-up tomorrow.  He shreds them for worm bedding.  Yes, he’s a Vermiculturist!  After doing a last load of laundry for the day, I settle on the couch to crochet some more.  R settles in next to me and builds with the Klutz Castle cards.  J & H are busy at the table sorting the papers, then shredding them in preparation for his worms.

The call for "Bed!" is made, finally.  Everyone cleans up what they were doing, including me, and the house looks great and ready for a new day tomorrow!

Now I have to add one thing: neither of the boys practiced the piano today, which means they will each have to put $1.50 into our Evangelizing Can tomorrow.   Since Daddy works hard and pays for their lessons, it is their responsibility to practice.  If they don’t then they have to pay for the time they missed.  Also, our can used to just be for mad money, but now we’ve all agreed that we’re going to use the money we collect in it to buy tracts to hand out to people, to share with those in need, and to help support national pastors through Gospel Link.

Everyone went to bed happily, after a full day of work and plans and purpose.

What more can I ask?

He hath done all things well.  Mark 7:37

This post originally published @

Sunday, July 27, 2008

BFS #18: Youthful Dreams

"I thought this week we could write something fun or just take a look back at our lives and what we wanted to do when we were so young!"

Hey, I just did this a few weeks ago at our Bible Study group.  That just makes it easy, I guess.

My earliest memory of what I wanted to do/be when I was a grown-up was when I was eight  or nine years old.  I knew that when I grew up I wanted to have three of four boys and then a little girl at the end. 

When I was a teenager, I loved my high school Physiology class and so had visions of study and research in this field.

When I was grown-up, I became a Mommy and EVERYTHING changed!

Now, I am a homeschooling mother of four — three boys and one little girl.  I never imagined that I would homeschool — I had never even heard of homeschooling until my sister-in-law started to homeschool my niece.   Now I cannot imagine any other way to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the LORD than to teach them at home and instruct them when they rise up, and when they lay down, and as we walk by the way. 

What a wonderful, graceful, and merciful God we have!

To see others dreams @ Blogger Friend School, click HERE.

This post originally published @

BFS #16: Shopping Spree


"This week you are given $1000 PRETEND online spending money! The rules are simple for this assignment. Using ANY online store…write out a shopping list of what you would buy!  You can even post pictures of the items.  These things should be things for YOURself ONLY!"

Wow!  I started to do this assignment, really I did.  But as I was thinking of what I might buy with $1,000, the thought kept coming into my head of how much stuff we have that we need to get rid of!  Truly, I am blessed beyond measure and instead of buying new things, I need to be a good steward of what I already have; which really means that I need to quit hoarding so many things for "some day" and start cleaning out so that my home is an organized place of peace, and not taken over with clutter and junk that constantly needs servicing.  I want a home that serves me, not me serve IT!

So, no shopping spree here.  How about a selling spree?  What if I could sel all of my extra stuff and donate the money to Gospel Link for the support of National Pastors!  Now, that would be a Blessing!!

To see what others did for their Shopping Spree @ Blogger Friend School, click HERE.

This post originally published @

BFS #15: Button Tales

This assignment is to tell about our buttons.  I don’t have any sad or funny stories about my button collection, just the buttons and the very sweet way that I got them.

I actually have a pretty good size collection of buttons, although I collected none of them myself.  They were all a gift from two older ladies in the church. 

One of them, Miss Bea who had been a widow for many years, was cleaning out her house in order to move into a retirement center.  She was having a yard sale, "Come, come over," she said.  So we went.  As I recall my daughter got a sweet handmade cloth rabbit with an apron, I got some kitchen utensils and a purple Pyrex casserole dish, and the boys got a few games.  We stayed to chat and help, and after a bit Miss Bea asks if I sew.  Of course I do.  So she immediately gets up and heads over to a pile — reaching out, she brought forth a large parmesan cheese container filled with buttons.  "Then would you like these?"  All shapes and sizes of buttons are in there, and the best part is that she said some of the buttons were her mothers’ buttons.  Of course I gladly accepted this gift, given with graciousness and joy and received with honor and thanksgiving.   When I got home and looked through the jar, I marveled at the resourcefulness and thrift of the women who clipped buttons and snaps off of old, worn clothing while thinking ahead to the day when a few pennies would be saved by using them again.  Several of the larger buttons still had cloth attached to them and I sat and imagined the elegant or utilitarian coat that at one time held these buttons.  Did the hand that fastened this button do so getting ready for church one Sunday morning just after reaching out and fixing a stray hair or two from a child’s head?   The life and stories that the buttons could tell were endless.

The second set of buttons I received were from Miss Betty, another widow who no longer sewed, in two tins, very old, and full to the brim.

I have all of these in their original containers still, because I think that the containers add so much to their story and their charm.  One day, when I am blessed with inquisitive grandchildren, I may put them all in a large jar to be viewed and sorted and counted and enjoyed.  But I’ll remember to tell about Miss Bea and Miss Betty, and their mothers and their families from which all these treasures came.

For more Button Tales at Blogger Friend School, click HERE.

This post originally published @

Let Everything That Hath Breath Praise The Lord

These past few weeks we have been regularly reading the Bible together, the children and I.  Proverbs in the morning, Old Testament history during school, reading through Galatians & Ephesians one chapter at a time in the afternoons, as well as a character study a few times a week.   

Also, with the setting up of our new bookcases, I was able to get some great little books out of my room and on the new shelves where the children can have easy access to them.   One of those little books is called Little Pillows, or Good Night Thoughts for Little Ones.  Its an old reprint from Keepers of the Faith and DS3 has been reading it, one very small story at a time, before going to sleep at night.

The story tonight started with the verse I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions.  Isaiah 43:25
After he had read, he called me in to pray with him.  As I was sitting at his side, asking him what he would like to pray about, the  LORD spoke to my heart and I knew that he was going to ask about being saved.   We had such a great conversation, my sweet sunshine boy and I, late at night, in the dark, with quiet and stillness surrounding us.  And then we prayed.  His child-like voice spoke words that were coming from his heart as tears flowed from his eyes.  I prayed and cried, and then he prayed more. 

Now I am rejoicing that my dear son desires the LORD Jesus Christ as his Saviour, desires to have his sins blotted out and his life made new, desires to obey and serve.

Join with me in my rejoicing, and also join with me in prayer for this child, who at 12 is starting on a new path.  Pray that his feet would be firmly established in following Christ, that his heart would be well-watered with the Word and this seed would grow deep, strong roots, and that is ears would be quick to listen and his feet quick to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking within him.

This post originally published @

BFS #14: Love Letter To Jesus

BFS 14 - 2

Jesus, Lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly; While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest stillis high; Hide me, O my Savior hide, till the storm of life is past; Safe into the haven guide, O receive my soul at last.
Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee; Leave, O leave my not alone, still support and comfort me; All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring; Cover my defensless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find; Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind; Just and holy is Thy name, I am all unrighteousness; Vile and full of sin I am, Thou are full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin; Let the healing streams abound, make and keep me pure within;  Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee; Spring Thou up within my heart, rise to all eternity.

Jesus, Lover of My Soul, written by Charles Wesley

For more Blogger Friend School, click HERE.

This post originally published @

BFS # 13: Meet My Bible

This assignment is about my Bible.  Or more particularly:
  1. How old is your Bible?    My current Bible is only about three years old.
  2. Why did you chose this Bible?     It is a King James Version which I chose specifically after doing much reading about the different Bible versions.   I will no longer use any other kind of Bible.
  3. Do you highlight/mark passages in your Bible?      Yes, I highlight and marks passages in my Bible.  I used to have a friend who said she never wrote in hers, that it was a book and she was taught to never write in books – but for me the Bible  the Word of God, living and active.  Just as the Holy Spirit continually opens my eyes to new understanding in its’ pages, that discovery is recorded in those same pages.
  4. If so, what is your system for marking passages?       At different times I will do word studies and so will go through and mark similar/applicable passages in the same color.  For example, every verse that mentions wisdom is underlined in blue.  A word study that I did on desire and its synonyms covet, lust, imagination, and delight, are marked with differing symbols in red and orange.
  5. Do you have notebooks to record things?     No, I do not use a notebook.
  6. If so, how many and what do you record?   See above.   
  7. Where is your favorite spot to read your Bible?     I most like to READ it, no matter where that may be.  Probably my most cherished time is in bed at night – I meditate on the scriptures and a hymn from my hymnbook before going to sleep.  Another favorite would be in the early morning snuggled in the corner of the couch while I read and look out my window.
  8. Are there any special thoughts about your Bible you want to share?   Special thoughts?  Only that I wish I read it more and listened more to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in my heart to obey it.  More, I want more of it.  More of its truth, more of its peace, more of Christ.  And to impart that desire for more into my children so that they seek it as gold and find the treasure within to the saving of their souls.   
For more responses to this assignment from Blogger Friend School, visit HERE.

This post was originally published @

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Developing Individuality in Children

"Keeping in mind that individuality is inborn within each person, how then do we develop individuality in our children?  One of the most important benefits of minimal socialization outside of the home is daily opportunity for the child to explore and develop the gifts within himself.  Daily, uninterrupted grace-based routine at home cannot be surpassed for a quality educational environment which has been arranged for individual family members.  The frequent complaint of boredom usually results from children who do not spend enough time at home with purpose and direction.
Parents need to be careful to provide many creative, stimulating outlets for the children so that their lives truly become centered in the home.  Deception enters in when we think we are denying our children’s needs by remaining at home, but when, on the contrary, a pattern of indulgence has been allowed to take root.  It is healthy for preadolescent children to remain in a happy, purposeful, environment that does not continually experience disruption.  In this way they become strong in who they are and have the opportunity to acquire purpose at a young age."
Taken from The Science, Art, and Tools of Learning by Marilyn Howshall

How true have I found this to be in our own homeschooling experience and what can I do to foster this in my children?
I know that when we have a plan for the day and when each child has an interest or an activity they are pursuing on their own, they are more content and our home is peaceful.   Purpose and direction really seem to be key here. 
"Parents need to be careful to provide many creative, stimulating outlets for the children so that their lives truly become centered in the home. "  When I first read that I thought she was speaking of stimulating outlets OUTSIDE the home – speaking against activities outside of the home.  But, yes, when I re-read I understood that she was reinforcing the idea that our children need to be creative and stimulated at home in order for them to desire being at home and that there is value in the home for them.   I can so see the other side of this – if the child is only creative or stimulated or challenged – feels a purpose – outside of the home, whether as part of a class or an organized sport, a friendship or project, then he returns to the home where there is only an empty routine of school books and chores, how much will he desire to leave the home once again to return to that excitement of discovery or direction that the outside activity offered him?   This child will grow to be the man or woman who constantly seeks to be out of the home for one reason or another, still seeking after that feeling that only comes when they are out and busy.  Instead, how much better is it when we find our fulfillment inside of the home;  where home is seen as providing purpose and direction, and then the things we do outside of the home, whether as service projects or ministry or fellowship, are all an overflowing from what is happening inside of the home instead of a substitute for being home.
How much I need the LORD’s direction in seeing each of my children as individuals and encouraging them in each of their unique ways and interests; allowing them the freedom to grow in their own way, within the safety, security, structure of our home.

This was originally posted @ on July 26, 2008