Saturday, December 29, 2007

Time Well Spent

As the Christmas song says "Spending time together with the family Sharing lots of Love a Happiness". That's how I've been spending my time, though I managed to sneak in quite a bit of reading time too.

I am loving Lynn Austin's Series Chronicles of the Kings. I've finished book one, God's and Kings, book two, Song of Redemption, and I'm almost done book three, The Strength of His Hands. I started keeping a reading journaling with short outlines of each chapter and quotes that spoke to me in some way or another, but I gave up with the chapter outlines in the third book. I may share some of my thoughts later when my notes are near me.

I've also started Economics in One Lesson. The first couple of chapters are really short so I whizzed through them and I have to say that I am enjoying it so far. I'm also taking notes on that that I may share later.

Most of my time, however, has been spent with the family. My parents and my sister and her husband were all here for Christmas with us and we so enjoyed having them all here. Thanks to their generousity we were able to purchase a wii system for the children and we've all been having so much fun with it.

As the new year looms closer my thoughts are starting to turn towards planning for it. I've been working on personal plans, housekeeping plans, and homeschooling plans. Most of the planning is happening in my head right now but hopefully it will makes it's way out onto paper soon. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Christmas Promise

Thanks to the Teaching Mom's Advent calendar, I recently discovered the painter, Thomas Kinkade. Shortly there after, I was browsing the shelves of our library and noticed the name Thomas Kinkade as an author on the spine of a book. Upon closer inspection I discovered that this was the very same Thomas Kinkade! I was amazed! I liked what I saw of him as an artist and I decided to see what I thought of him as an author, so I checked the book, A Christmas Promise, out.

When I discover a new author I like to do some research about the author before, or while, reading the book. I googled Thomas Kinkade and I was shocked to discover that there was a big controversy surrounding Thomas Kinkade. I didn't save the sites and I can't find them now. I didn't know whether to believe them or not but they definitely colored my thoughts on reading the book. I wasn't sure if I wanted to or not, but decided to anyway.

A Christmas Promise is one book in a series of books co-authored with Katherine Spencer. It is a nice light holiday read. I particularly liked a portion in the last chapter of the book. The minister, Ben is speaking, in the Christmas service, about the spirit of Christmas. I'm going to quote a good portion of that section.

"But what is the spirit of Christmas, really? Anticipation...and disappointment? Expensive, jaw-dropping gifts that overwhelm us? Disillusionment when we don't find that pony and plain blindness to the pile of gifts we do receive? Fretting over our endless to-do lists and gifts, wondering if we've gotten the right size and color, if we've spent too little or too much? Feeling tired and empty before the party has even begun? That's the prevailing spirit for some of us, I know."..."we each received a gift that never disappoins, a gift that always fits, a gift that embodies the true spirit of Christmas - the very essence of the first Christmas. 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in HIm should not perish, but have everlasting life.'...And through His love, we are connected to the world and given power to love and forgive other. That, to me, is the true spirit of this season, the spirit we need to draw upon and put into action the whole year through. Think of the shepherds, guarding their flocks in the fields that dark night Jesus was born. And the sixe men, how they heard of the birth and followed the star, believing the Scriptures had finally been realized. THat is the spirit of Christmas, too. Great expectations that God's pormise would be fulfilled. In the middle of the dark night, they went forward on faith, following a star, trusting and believing they would be led to the right place. THat is the true spirit of Christmas, too, I think. To look up at thte stars and see God's love and to keep moving forward on fiath. That's what it means to me to keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts every day."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Winter Reading Challenge

A while back Kathleen posted a Winter Reading Challenge on her blog. She says "There aren't many rules: just list the books you plan (or would like) to read during the months of December, January, and February." I've been eyeing this for a while and I finally decided to take the challenge.

I love to read, but I haven't read an actual whole book for quite a while - since litte one was born probably, and she turned 2 last month. Isn't that terrible! I just haven't found the time to read, but lately I've been feeling the need to read again. Part of the reason for that is reading about all the great books different people have been talking about on their blogs. I love reading about what they are reading but I'm feeling the need to do some of my own reading now. :)

I read through the lists that other people in the challenge have posted and wondered if I should actually join it or not. Some people plan on doing an awful lot of reading, and some pretty heavy reading at that. I'm not going to be nearly as ambitious. Here's my humble list so far, though it may grow as time goes by.

A Christmas Promise by Thomas Kinkade - I actually finished reading this one yesterday. :)
God's and Kings by Lynn Austin - I have this one and I'm hoping to do more in this series
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt - heard about this one from this post
Volume 1: Home Education by Charlotte Mason
Volume 6: A Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason

You'll notice those last three are actually online reading, not in-hand book reading.

There are more I'd like to add but I don't want to be too ambitious. This may end up being more than I can handle, but it's what I'm going to aim for. Thanks for the challenge, Kathleen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ack!!! I can't get control of it!!

I have to find a way to tame the beast of my starred items list in my google reader. It continues to grow longer faster than it grows shorter. Did that make any sense? Let me explain. I'm trying to shorten my list of starred items by dealing with them and getting them off the list, but while I'm doing that I'm also keeping up with reading the blogs in my google reader and I keep adding more items to my starred items list, and I seem to be adding more than I am taking away!

A major factor in this problem is that my computer time has greatly reduced recently. I've taken the additional responsibility of babysitting 2 little ones so computer time in the day time is all but gone, then my little one is so happy to have me to herself once the two little ones go home that I can't bear to push her aside for the computer, and at night I'm so bushed from my busy days that I often end up just going to bed with her, leaving me with little to no computer time in the day.

Of course, it also doesn't help that I keep finding and adding new blogs to my google reader. I'm going to have to get a handle on that soon or I'm not going to have time to read everything, let alone respond to anything.

Okay, here goes another attempt to shorten my starred items list. Rather than just unstar the items I like to comment on them here on my blog so that I can always find them again without too much trouble.

I love this poem that Cindy posted in her post "Little Grains of Sand":
"Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean,
And the beauteous land."

The last paragraph of her post sums up the whole thing quite nicely and I plan on taking her advice.
"If you have something that you want your children to assimilate like poetry or scripture or music or Shakespeare, forget the grand schemes, forget what the Konos mom is doing down the street, start giving that thing one or two minutes of your time daily and watch the years roll by."
It reminds me of a little saying that we learned in our early days of homeschooling and is often repeated to this day:
"Work by the yard is hard,
But work by the inch is a cinch."

JacciM's post "Injured Eyeballs and Cheering for our Children" is another post I want to be able to come back to. There's so much in this post that challenges me and makes me say ouch. Here are some quotes:
"Miss Mason is saying that we harm the child's sense of right and wrong when we let him get by with sloppy and half-hearted work. I would say that, at best, we lose an opportunity to train the child to value hard work carefully done."
"The line is drawn with these words: "No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly".... You need to know your children and their abilities as individuals. Regardless of whether a child tends to be a slow learner or is leaps and bounds beyond her peers, the standard is in relation to that particular child's own abilities. This does not mean that we keep things easy for our children so that they are guaranteed success. No, we are to challenge our child with the highest level of work that he can still do perfectly."
"We are on their team, on the same side. We ought to be cheering for them!...She says if the day's work is less than perfect have him do it again. Matter-of-factly, not with a sigh and a reproving look of disappointment, just matter-of-factly."
I'm afraid I am much too good at sighing and giving reproving looks. Be sure to go read her whole post - it's very challenging.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cleaning Starred Items again

JacciM is another one that often makes it to my starred items list in my Google Reader. I was particularly challenge by her post "Encouraging Excellence Without Making Little Perfectionists". I used to be a perfectionist and in my attemept to avoid my children carrying the burden of being perfectionists I went too far and failed to encourage them in excellence. I wish I had read Jacci's post many, many years ago.

Here are some quotes from her posts that outline the main points of her post. I post them here as a reminder to me. Be sure the check out her whole post to really get all that she says about this - it's well worth the read.

"How, then, can we communicate high goals to our children without setting them (and ourselves) up to be completely high-strung perfectionists? I think a great deal of the success lies in understanding at least four things."

"Firstly, it's important to understand that we are completely fallible creatures with finite resources and abilities. In other words, we can't do it all as perfectly as it can be done, we can only do it as perfectly as we can do it. We can't do more than we can do."

"The second helpful thing to understand is that when we react negatively to doing something imperfectly, it is usually stemming from a heart of pride."

"Thirdly, I would think that a great deal of perfectionism in children is directly linked to their parent's emotional reactions to imperfection...You can effectively encourage a child to do better without pressuring him to do so. It requires patience, time, and restraint, but it can be done."

"Lastly, (and this one is especially pertinent to our relationships with our children) we need to see our actions as separate from our intrinsic worth...Children must, from the first, learn that our love for them is because of who they are as our children, not because of what they do...When they produce faulty or careless work, they must know that we are dissatisfied with the work, not with them. And we must leave them with the hope that they can do that work better."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Myth of the Unsocialized Home Schooler

Some days I wish that the myth of the unsocialized home schooler wasn't a myth. Today was one of those days. The myth says that homeschooled students are social misfits that have no friends and struggle with relationships, especially peer relationships. Today I lost my DD to her schooled friends. They had a snow day and she was drove crazy with calls from them to come out and enjoy the day with her. After negotiating with me that she would still get her school work for today done I finally let her go. It would have been so much easier if the myth were true and she had no friends and would have happily spent the day in educational endeavors. But alas, she is a social butterful with so many friends it's ridiculous. She finds the myth quite hilarious.

After she spent the morning with her friends we quickly took some time to check out the info for today on the advent calendar. We found the history behind the Christmas Carol "O Holy Night" to be quite intriquing. Did you know that is was the first song to make it's way over the airwaves? That's just one fascinating fact we learned about it. We also were quite intriqued with checking out microscopic photos of snowflakes and learning more about how snowflakes were made. DD couldn't wait to get back out with her friends and share with them the interesting things she had learned.

Cleaning up my starred items

Every since I discovered it, I have been thoroughly enjoying google reader. Only problem is that I've come across so many great blog posts that I want to refer back to or take more time to think about that my starred items lists is way too long. I need to get a handle on it or it's going to drive me crazy, so tonight I am going through the list in hopes of dealing with some and thus making the list shorter.

I am loving Jeannie Fulbright's blog. I have a lot of her posts on my starred items list. One of these is her post Steps to Self Learning. It is packed full of wonderful stuff and well worth the read. Here are some quotes from it that stood out to me.

"The first step to moving toward self learning is to carefully select curricula that is especially suited for self education. This means that the course can be used by the student alone once they have grasped how it should be done. You see, once your child has learned to read (a teacher is often needed full time for this accomplishment) they are ready to read to learn."

"When you are first starting the process of self learning, you will gradually ease your children into the material."

"Much is accomplished by reading. I use narration to ensure their retention of the material they have read. If they complain that they don't know what to do or don't understand, I ask for a narration of the text they read. If they don't know...they were not reading attentively and I have them reread it. Usually, this fixes the problem"

"There are some subjects that need more oversight than others during different phases of a child's academic development."

"When you are teaching new skills and new concepts, you want to oversee the process and make sure there is a level of mastery before you leave the child on their own. Leaving a child on their own too early will result in frustration for the child and a lack of progress, as well overseeing subjects that don't need a lot of oversight."

"There are three exceptions to this progression from learning to read to reading to learn." This paragraph goes on to explain what those exceptions are.

As I said, the whole post is well worth the read. These quotes just give a small indication of what it is all about.

I need to water and fertilize

I am deeply challenged by a quote from a post I just read. Lysa TerKeurst's post for today has this quote in it "The Grass isn't greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water and fertilize it."

The post reminds me how important it is for me to put a conscious effort into making my marriage all it can be. I'm afraid I fail at that all too often and I start thinking that there may be greener pastures. I need to start taking better care of the pasture I am in so that it is the greenest pasture and I have no need to look elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Change of plans

I found a site that I like even better than the one I posted about in my first plans for December post. This site has an advent calendar loaded with information and activities for every day. One of the features they have is a song of the day, which was one of the things I wanted to do. At first I wasn't planning on using their actual calendar. I was just going to use their list of songs and maybe their around the world feature. We started yesterday doing that but then today I decided to check out the features on the calendar for today, and we're hooked. :)

Yesterday we learned about the Christmas carol "Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel". I didn't realize it but that song is one of the ones DD is singing with the choir in the canata this year. We also read and discussed some Russian folk tales about their Snow Maiden. From this site we learned that it's not too early to go Christmas tree hunting. We like to have a real tree and I've been putting DD off saying it's too early to get it yet, but according to this site it's okay if the tree is properly taken care of so the next nice day we are going tree hunting.

Today we enjoyed reading and discussing the scripture passages and we reminisced about the year we did a Jesse tree. We tried to check out the devotional by Elizabeth Eliot but couldn't get the link to work. We did have a little discussion of who Elizabeth Elliot was. We also spent some time admiring the beautiful artwork of Thomas Kinkade. We also learned some history of the carol "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" and also the history of Christmas tree lights.

Along with the learning and fun from following the online advent calendar, we have our own little advent activites that we came up with on our own and are implementing this year for the first time. One of them we planned and prepared after Christmas last year but I had forgotten all about it until DD reminded me on Sunday.

I am a jigsaw puzzle fanatic and one of my favortie Christmas presents is a new jigsaw puzzle to work on. Last year I came up with the idea of using a jigsaw puzzle for an advent activity. After Christmas DD and I found a Christmas themed puzzle to use for it. We put it together and then took it apart one section at a time and bagged the peices of each section in separate bags. We had a 500 peice puzzle and we wanted 25 bags so we put about 20 peices in each bag. We stored the bags in the puzzle box and packed it away for this year. Every day we take out a bag and put together the peices that are in it. We store our puzzle on a Roll-o-puzz and pack it away every day. We are really enjoying doing it and wishing we had a bigger puzzle so we may try to find a bigger one to prepare for next year.

Another thing we've decided to do is to make some kind of cookie or food item every day. Monday we made gingerbread cookies. They were a big hit and were gone before today ws through. We're going to have to make them again and try to store some away this time. Today we made Nan H's special snowballs which are made with a german chocolate cake mix, coconut, and graham wafer crumbs. They're yummy! We got two ice cream containers from the batch and I have one ice cream container of them store away hoping nobody finds them for a while. Today we discussed possibly taking pictures of the cookies and making special recipe cards of them to be used as an advent idea for next year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


While reading today's devotional, "Is My Jesus Enough?", at Proverbs 31 Ministries I was reminded of a couple of Bible verses that resounded in my heart today. Habakkuk 3:17 and 18 says "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." This is one of those passages that I want to take some time to chew on. I may even try using it as a guide to write my own declaration of my faith in God, but I wanted to take a minute to share it now in case I forget to dig deeper into it. Maybe writing it here will help me remember to do it.


...That's about all I can say about this post by Kim. Kim is doing a Bible study, based on Martha Peace's "The Excellent Wife", with some ladies at her church and on her blog she sometimes shares some of what they are covering. In this post she lists some of the signs of bitterness and talks about how harboring bitterness can affect our marriage. I really need to spend some time pondering and praying about this. I could say "That's me" to most of the list. Ouch.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Plans for December

Found this site: and plan on using it in December. It has a list of Christmas songs, carols, and poems. I had already told DD that we were going to have some fun in December. One of the things I was thinking about doing ws picking a Christmas/Winter song a day. We would search the web for different versions of the song and discuss them and choose a favortie to keep. I've also been thinking about doing some Christmas/Winter Poems. This is a start to my planning for the month.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Reading Adventures

Just came across the is post about reading and had to share it. It's long, but well worth the read. One of my reasons for wanting to homeschool was so that the kids would learn to love reading and would see that reading wasn't just for school. I'm afraid I didn't do a very good job with that though. How I wish I could turn time back and start again. Hopefully, however, they will each remember the great times we had reading and discussing books together, because we really did have some great times doing that.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Goals and Methods of Home Education

A post in a Homeschool Blog Carnival lead me to an article on Learning How to Learn, the Goal of Self Teaching. Reading that article lead me to check out more thoroughly the site is was on and I was pleased to find a series of posts on the author's Educational Philosophy. You can get to the whole series by following the links from this first one. Lots to think about there.

Reviving this slumbering blog

It's been over a year ago since I last posted to this blog, much longer than Willa's lapse but something she said started me thinking about restarting this blog. I love to write, always have. I once dreamed of having a career that involved writing somehow. Then I went through a spell of hardly writing at all but I just couldn't stay away from it. I need to write - not because I have anything great to say, but just because I find it so helpful to me. So, here I am starting this blog up again after a great time of slumber.

I have not, however, been silent in the time of slumber for this blog. I have been blogging in other places. I discovered the world of scrapbooking and started a scrapbooking blog back in September of 2006. If you're interested you can check it out here. I'm not sure how long it will be around, though, because the site that hosts it is going through some changes. The posts are mostly about my scrapping creations but there are some posts that are simply jabberings about life and starting in February 2007 I felt the need to incorporate some daily devotional posts in there. These devotional posts ended up being nothing more than scripture postings after a while. When I got word that the site that hosted that blog may be shutting down I started another scrapping blog. I moved my main scrapping posts over to my new blog and I've been writing there since October 2007. You can check it out here if you like. That one has been strictly for scrapping stuff and I've been feeling the need to either incorporate more life stuff into that one or revive this one.

I finally decided today to revive this blog. I debated moving some of the devotional posts from my old site over here but I've decided not to bother. There was nothing earth shattering there anyway, just as there is not likely to be anything earth shattering here. Doesn't matter. This is for me. A place for me to jabber about my life and things that catch my interest outside of scrapping. Anybody that wants to listen in is welcome, and if you do drop by I'd love for you to say hi.