Friday, October 31, 2008

Weekly wrap up -- October 31

I have not written much about our homeschooling recently. Not because nothing is happening, quite the contrary. We have had very full, productive weeks, with generally good attitudes. Maybe I fear messing up a good thing? Not really. It has just seemed so wonderfully, ordinary. Not boring ordinary. Not plain ordinary. Just, special, regular progress, little light-bulb moments, everything checked off, academic growth, connections across curriculum ordinary. The way I love school to happen. We have settled into a wonderful routine and I found this new meme that has motivated me to jot down some of these ordinary events and see how others’ weeks go.

Our week always begins with Sunday night prep time. I print out the weekly assignment sheets which include math, reading, Language Arts, and Handwriting and include places to check off daily time spent on typing, copywork, music lessons, and silent reading. The back of the sheet has their weekly Ambleside Online readings which cover history, science, and other various subjects. We are currently on week 10 of our school year (ds in year 6, dd in year 4, dd in year 2 and dd and ds tagging along in year 0, or whatever piques their interest).


This morning we had our one out of the ordinary event for the week (we get a quiet week, yeah!) Blake had an orthodontist appointment, fortunately. Fortunately, because on Sunday our dog jumped up and bit the corner off his retainer while it rested on the table after lunch. Fortunately, it is still wearable and caused no other damage. Phew.

From the orthodontist we went to the library and got more audio books because we have devoured these recently. Everytime we have to drive somewhere, we listen to a book. Right now we are listening to Charlotte’s Web (an interesting rendition, read by the author, E.B. White -- his Boston (?) accent surprised me for some reason) when my husband is not with us, and Number the Stars when he is. We always keep two books going at a time so he doesn’t miss out on “his” book. It has worked well. We go through the ones without him much more quickly, but we still get to enjoy books with him as well.

Monday afternoon we head to our co-op, which we have just started participating in this year. I originally wanted to check out the ballet class for our three girls, and somehow ended up teaching the drama class as well. God must have been in that, because I have enjoyed it immensely and was not remotely seeking the opportunity. The girls love ballet and this week I got to sit in on the younger class as a facilitator and was very impressed with the way the teacher pushed the girls to do their best and kept the class challenging, yet fun and positive.

Three weeks until our first drama performance . . . lots of work to do there. Lots of progress made, but lots still to do.

We headed home and quick picked some of the last vegetables from our garden before the big freeze comes through. The last of the tomatoes, dill, beets, carrots, etc. until next year.


Tuesdays and Thursdays generally find us at home getting a LOT of school done. We probably do about 2/3 of our academics for the week on those days for a variety of reasons.

Due to our success at getting things done we have added back in some more read aloud time a couple days a week. During our extended Bible time we read a portion from a biography on George Muller which my kids are really enjoying. He lived such a dynamic life of faith. A great book to evaluate the "stuff" in our lives and the depth of our trust in God's provision in our lives. Without intention, this has been an interesting read during this financially absorbed time in our nation's history.

In the afternoons I read a bit out of Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott which we have also enjoyed. We are just getting situated in this book, but have enjoyed it so far. We had an interesting conversation about justifying ourselves. In the book Jack and Jill get in a terrible sledding accident because Jill wanted to go down a dangerous path. Jack chivalrously declines placing blame. My 11 yo son, very black and white kind of guy, couldn't understand. He should just speak the truth, not take any part of the blame, except that he should have talked her out of it.

We talked about Christ's sacrifice for us. Did He squabble about who was to blame? Does he taunt us with the pain we "caused" Him? Although Blake couldn't think of a good logical, argument in return, I could tell he was not convinced that Jack handled that in the best way. I'm glad a have 7 more years with him. He's bright and witty, but sometimes a little heavy on the truth over the spirit (sounds like me, I guess).


For Bible time right now we are starting a study of the fruit of the spirit. This month we are focusing on love with a different verse each week and a new passage to read each day. This week we are memorizing I John 4:7,8 and reading a chapter in I John each day. The whole book doesn't speak of love, but it is a recurring topic so I figured we would just read the whole thing.

After a productive morning we grabbed a quick sandwich lunch and headed out to a homeschool gym and swim class. While the older kids are in class I spend some time visiting and some time doing preschool activities with my little guys. They always beg to do school, especially Brooke, but I try to keep it very low key still. We have a lot of fun with it and lots of learning happens in the process.

Then soccer practice and AWANA. With all the driving we finished Charlotte's Web, and started Where the Red Fern Grows. Those are our busy days, but soccer wraps up this week, so things will be somewhat better for a while here.


Another day at home with lots accomplished.

Figured I would do some baking since I would be around to baby sit the oven. Baked some pumpkins and purreed the innards for pumpkin butter, bread, and pie. Also made a quick loaf of bread. Amazing all that can fit in those few transition minutes here and there throughout the day.

Blake has started a blog and uses that for some of his typing and creative writing practice. It is great to have something that he enjoys working on that I don't need to hound him about. Of course, it is all about sports. What more could you expect from an 11 year old boy?

Paige is working through Saxon 6/5 and did a great job connecting fractions, decimals, and percents. Sometimes she absolutely amazes me with how well she grasps things. It doesn't come as naturally for her as for Blake, but she has lots of determination that more than makes up for it.


We wrapped up the lingering academics: dictation quiz, final reading, math and English lessons, I John, and got the school room tidied up for the weekend. After lunch and cleaning we headed to Best Buy to play video games and to McDonald's for ice cream. A great end to a productive week.

Light bulb moments:

- Algebra -- reducing complex terms with exponents. Sometimes I don't know if I'm more surprised that I understand this stuff, or that Blake does . . .

- Faith -- borrowing in subtraction. She aced it the first time through! I'm sure there will still be some questions, but after a 10 minute lesson she did 10 problems and got them all right.

Favorite moments of the week:

- Watching Brooke play drums like a wildwoman.

- Feeling God at work in my heart to overwhelmingly love my kids as I teach them

Challenges faced:

- Math not carefully done. It is so hard when I know kids know a concept, but they don't slow down enough to get it right on paper. Always a process, always growing, always character growth mixed in with the academics.

- Potty training (ugh, don't even get me started!)

Favorite passages in our books :

- It Couldn't Just Happen -- Carbon 14 dating. Amazing to me that a fourth grader can begin to grasp this.

- George Muller -- His wife was an amazing woman. Sold all her belongings that made their house a home and went along with him telling the church they didn't need to pay him. Faith in her husband and faith in God. Amazing. I wish she had a diary lying around that I could peek into.

Now, we face a busy weekend with the wrap up to the soccer season, a couple family gatherings and helping out at church, not to mention prepping for another full week of school and activities.

I'm glad I get an extra hour this weekend, how about you?

Friday reward

The past few weeks we have enjoyed some smooth, productive weeks academically speaking. We have still enjoyed our share of bumps in the road and attitudes along the way, but I just need to rave a bit about our new found secret for these smooth, easy days.

Bribery definitely works.

As I mentioned at the start of this "experiment," we now offer a weekly reward for all students completing their school work by a certain time on Friday, and then we can finish our school week with something fun. So far, I have not had to hold back a reward from anyone. I have even increased the number of subjects that we cover on a more regular basis because their motivation keeps them trucking along so they can finish the school week a little early.

Faith and Brooke jammin' together.

This afternoon we will head to the local Best Buy as long as our morning goes close to planned. My son requested this to play the video games there. The girls were not quite on board with that idea, so we will also swing by McDonald's for sundaes for a double reward. I'll have to post pictures after our trip. (I actually remembered to bring my camera, and snag a couple shots of our Friday Reward!)

Sweet success!

This addition to our homeschool plan has helped to keep our gears in forward motion each day and create a more positive atmosphere. We constantly encourage each other to get a little more done, and use our time a little more efficiently to continually work closer to the goal. Some days still accomplish more than others, but overall we have gotten far more done each week than we did a month ago, with much better attitudes to boot!

We have only scratched the surface of reward ideas . . . ice cream, popcorn balls, snow cones, picnics, donuts, the dollar store, video game time, play dates. Half the fun is choosing the reward at the beginning of the week.

They are already plotting for next week.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs - Field Trips

One of the joys of homeschooling is taking learning on the road. So often we get to leave our regular booksbehind for a few hours or a whole day and learn in 3-D.

We have enjoyed:

children's museums,


forest preserves,

science museums,


shop tours (grocery stores and yarn making from wool),

fire departments,

and touch a truck days.

When more of my kids were younger we visited the zoo frequently and we learned so much in the process. I never realized how much educational information the zoo offered. We read the signs, took the 'quizzes' along the trails, and watched the animals interacting. I never knew that trips to the zoo could be so educational. I realized why as I watched the other field trip groups at the zoo. Groups of 10-20 kids often passed us by with an adult or two at the front and back with everyone paying more attention to their fellow classmates or just staying in line than what the zoo actually had to offer.

I also realized, that it was rather easy not to take advantage of all the benefits of a zoo trip myself. I did enjoy just going to the zoo to relax, be outside and spend time together, but we could get so much out of the time as well. Also, as their teacher I know what they are studying in each of their subjects and how anything that we might come across might relate to their studies.

Unfortunately, I need to work harder to keep the balance here at times. When we enjoyed a family trip to Starved Rock recently I realized that the fort display and information in their visitor's center on beaver trapping fit in well with my 4th grade daughter's history studies I drew her in. She said, "I thought this was a day off school." Um, yeah. So much for that "love of learning" theory . . . My second grader on the other hand can't get enough, and wants to read every sign and pour over every artifact on display.

So, while my favorite field trips are the museums, zoos, state parks, and factory tours, in the name of balance I had to ask my kids for their input.

Blake said his favorite was the arena football game.

Paige's favorite was the local arcade/fun center.

Faith's was anything.

I do have to say that while their favorites aren't really ones that I call "field trips" they did have a connection to our schooling. Many, many places offer incentive programs for kids and give freebies in return for reading or other academic activities.

We have earned tickets to baseball games and football games, water park admissions, tokens for arcades, free donuts, kids meals, admission to Great America, pizza, and many other goodies for time spent reading and earning good grades. I definitely want my kids to enjoy reading, but some need that extra nudge to get their nose in a book more often. And, those that do read willingly, why not benefit even more from that time well spent.

I would definitely encourage you to ask around and look for reading incentive programs. The worst they can do is say, "no," but you might be surprised at the rewards available for time spent reading. And, in the process you just might discover your child's favorite "field trip."

For other's favorite field trips, feel free to peruse the Homeschool Memoirs Meme for the week.

Praising God

Surrendering all. One hundred percent. Every minute of every day.

. . . starts anew each morning. A few days ago I began reading 5 chapters in Psalms as part of my quiet time. I read them out loud in almost an interactive conversation with my Lord. I worship my way through those chapters and carry them into my day.

Today I praised through chapter 16:

. . . in thee do I put my trust.

. . . Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;

. . . The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

. . . The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

. . .I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

. . .I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

. . .Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

. . . Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Lord God, please walk with me today. Directing all of my steps. Controlling all of my thoughts. Infusing all of my words. You are my everything!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Crazy hair

Just a quickie . . .

If you are ever having to prep someone's hair for a crazy hair night (or day), pipe cleaners can add a fun twist to the final result.

I divided her hair into five sections with pony tail holders. Then I braided pipe cleaners into her hair, one in each strand (three per braid). Then the hair is moldable into curls or scrunches or zigzags or whatever your heart desires.

I should have taken a picture of my other daughter. She left hers sticking straight out for another interesting look.

Warning: getting them out takes about as long as putting them in -- about 20 minutes per child. Worth it, in our estimation.

Wigs and sprays are easier, but this was definitely unique.

Monday, October 27, 2008

God's unsearchable love

One of the exercises I love to include in my quiet time involves worshiping God through the alphabet. As today my focus hovered around God's love, I created my alphabet to further describe and marvel in His love. I added more words to some letters as they came to mind through my review of yesterday's sermon notes and rereading of I John.

God's love is . . .

A wesome, authentic, active, available

B oundless, breathtaking

C rystal pure, Comforting

D evoted, Deep

E ternal, for Everyone, Endless

F atherly, Faithful

G lorious, Generous

H eavenly

I ncomprehensible, Inspiring

J ust

K ind-hearted

L imitless

M ighty

N ever-ending

O mniscient (and still He loves!), others' focused

P raiseworthy, Pure, Perfect

Q uiet

R edeeming

S acrificial, Saving, Sheltering

T owering, True, Timeless, Transforming

U nlimited

V ictorious

W ashing

Y ours

Z ealous.

In all His awesomeness, His love extends to me. So precious.

I also thought today that God's love leads me through a spiritual circle of life.

As I know God, I love Him more. As I love Him, I love His creation more. As I love His creation, I know them more. As I know His creation, I learn more about Him. And so continues my circle of life.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Verse of the week -- John 4:24

Incorporating both spirit and truth, emotion and sincerity, words and deeds, duty and joy.

I have recently been challenged to the core of my being to reevaluate the depth of my faith, and the sincerity of my love. I easily wear my faith on my sleeve. It pops into my conversation continually. I talk freely of my love for God and family.

But, how deep does it go? How much do I feel the words that I so confidently speak?

Once again, God is a step ahead. Preparing the chapters in the Bible I had planned to read. Choosing the pages in books that I worked my way toward. Orchestrating the sermons my pastor brought before the congregation. It seems it was all designed just for me and this current issue I wrestle through.

In the Bible . . . I read the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus told her in John 4:24, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." People err on both ends here. Some compromise truth for too much "spirit" and others leave out the spirit and pound out the truth. We need both, in balance.

In my reading . . . in Satisfy my Thirsty Soul, Linda Dillow challenges our personal worship experience. We need to take that time to worship, to praise Him, to completely open our hearts to Him, for our spirit to join as one with Him (I Corinthians 6:17). My worship sometimes lacks passion, emotion, depth. It is often more of an intellectual experience than a moving, spiritual one. I am seeking balance in this area.

In my church . . . we have looked at love and how it must grow in our lives. If I am a follower of God, love will flow naturally from the core of my being. As selfless love takes control of my thoughts and actions, His Spirit will overflow driving me to praise and action. Love is complex. It is action, duty, consistency, but also passion, depth, emotion, sacrifice. I need to seek the whole package in my life. I have just started a study of the Fruit of the Spirit with my kids, so this will continue to come up through our Bible time. We will read through I John together this week.

Some fall easily into too much Spirit, not checked with truth. We need both in our worship of God. We must have solid doctrine, a clear and growing understanding of who He is, and also a passion, hunger and thirst that drives us to Him constantly with an overflowing heart.

I have some more thoughts on how that will work in my life in the weeks to come, but that will have to wait. For now, I mull over His words . . . Spirit and Truth.

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

~John 4:24~

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Voting thoughts and motivation

Early voting is already in progress, and election day crouches right around the corner. This video challenged me to continue to prayerfully consider my decision. I pray for our country in regards to this upcoming election, but more than that I pray for revival. Whoever wins this election will only play a small role in the course of history. Whoever rules people's individual lives will play a much greater role both in our country and around the world.

After spending quite a bit of time yesterday praying about this, I then read in Micah 3 this morning:
9Now hear this, heads of the house of Jacob
And rulers of the house of Israel,
Who abhor justice
And twist everything that is straight,

10Who build Zion with bloodshed
And Jerusalem with violent injustice.

11Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe,
Her priests instruct for a price
And her prophets divine for money
Yet they lean on the LORD saying,
"Is not the LORD in our midst?
Calamity will not come upon us."

12Therefore, on account of you
Zion will be plowed as a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins,
And the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest.

So many of these phrases felt like our country today. Twisting everything that is straight seems to be a political certainty in Washington and around the country. And how often do we hear people presume that we are safe because God is on our side. "God bless America" has become an overused phrase, especially since 9-11. What right do we have to even say that? Our country is in a sorry state of affairs morally, and we still think we remotely deserve His blessing?!? I pray for change . . . in our hearts.

It seems that at this point the direction taken, especially by McCain this time around, is not "vote for me," but rather "don't vote for him." Although Obama's borderline (or not so borderline) socialist perspective does not agree with my freedom loving self, what are my options? So often elections fall to that proverbial "lesser of two evils." Is there another way?

Now I must contemplate. Do I do something different? I want to vote for someone that I really want as president, and yet also someone that might really have a shot at winning. I don't know that a candidate like that exists. Do I again chalk up my vote as making a statement?

I would like to see third parties rise to real contention in the vote. Based on what I have read, I could heartily support the Constitutional Party. They have even gotten their presidential candidate on the ballot in many states. If you get the right channels you might be able to watch the third party candidates debate tonight, read this article for more information on that.

Without serious, individual change I think we could very well see America turn into a plowed field, a heap of ruins, a high forest. While I think about the election, I also think about what I am doing at a personal level to help my fellow Americans physically and to change the landscape of this country spiritually.

Never rest, never grow weary. O God, strengthen my hands!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs - 10 timely facts

We all have little quirks that make us unique, Stories, backgrounds, perspectives, appearances, habits, roles, and situations. This week for Homeschool Memoirs we are to share at least 10 of these individualities. I have shared some of these through different tags in the past.

1. Out of 7 girls trying out for cheerleading at my high school, 6 would make it. I was the one that didn’t (this is always a great excuse to not be the cheerleading coach at the schools I have worked at). People don’t ask twice when they hear that.

2. I lived on an island in the Bahamas for a year

3. I like to learn foreign languages, or at least parts of them. I can say, “I don’t speak _____” in at least 5 different languages. And can say various words and phrases in 10 languages (English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Hungarian, sign language, German, Japanese, Chinese, Telegu)

4. I am the fifth of seven kids, named in alphabetical order (Aileen, Beth, Cindy, Dave, Erin, Flynn, and Grant)

5. I have taught everything from preschool through high school in a traditional school setting.

6. I like to eat just about everything except cherry pie, ginger, and cranberry sauce

7. My husband delivered our fourth child in the front seat of the car, in the 7-11 parking lot four blocks from the hospital. To hear that whole story, check out this post.

8. I teach a homeschool drama class

9. I have a hard time saying 'no' to homeschool and ministry opportunities

10. Nutrition and health are of high importance to me

And, a few bonus facts:

- I enjoy folding laundry and filing paperwork

- I have never pierced any part of my body (including my ears)

- Missions is a passion of mine

- I love to read

- I enjoy running for exercise 3-4 days a week

- I would love to write a book some day

- I am the only brown haired person in my house. My husband and four of our kids are blond, one of our kids is a red-head, even our dog is blond!

- Being a wife and mom is more incredible than I ever imagined growing up

I'm sure I could add more, but I better get to breakfast. I'll probably be adding to this list mentally all day . . . I'll have to update later.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mentoring moments - Proverbs 31

As I continue to meet weekly with Paige, my 9 year old daughter, I find it amazing to see God already at work in her tender heart.

Her favorite memory in recent weeks? Helping a friend at AWANA learn her verses.

Her insight into Proverbs 31? The chief quality in a wife should be God's righteousness.

Amazing the perception she already has into the things of God. She has challenged me, and encouraged me. Something I hadn't necessarily expected from her through these times together.

Sometimes mentoring is delightful, relaxing, motivational. And, sometimes, it is hard and tear-jerking, demanding diligence.

After a time of sweet conversation this weekend we then faced a struggle. Paige generally has a wonderful servant's heart. However, she really dislikes emptying the dishwasher. I saw her attitude bubbling beneath the surface as her eyes spoke, loud and clear, what her words did not. I gave her a gentle reminder to keep her emotions in check. She tried, for a while. As the task dragged on, she clearly needed an "adjustment."

I called her into another room and we talked a bit. Our recent conversation of Proverbs 31 came into play. I prayed with her. I then challenged her that she needed to confess her sin. That word seems so weighted it was almost hard to say. She balked at it, too. Sin? Isn't that a little harsh?

We talked about how complaining doesn't just come out of our mouth. Scripture clearly tells us to do all things without grumbling and complaining. Although her actions were obedient, her attitude resisted. So, if anything against God's will or not honoring to Him is sin, her attitude was sin, right? Oh, yeah. She saw it. A bit unwillingly, but as the Holy Spirit worked in her heart I saw her melt in tears of confession. I held her as she prayed for the forgiveness that God so freely promises to us in I John 1:9.

Restoration is so sweet. Growing together is priceless. Words can't even express fully what we experienced together there. As I commit to mentoring her as a daughter and as a growing young lady I can't let these opportunities to pass. She needs me alone on Saturday mornings and she needs me present and committed to her every moment in between as well.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Homemade Larabars

A few years ago as I wandered the aisles of Whole Foods, I received a sample of an energy bar. I have generally stayed away from these types of foods as they contain all kinds of unusual ingredients that I am skeptical of consuming.

This one was different. This was a Larabar. I had never heard of it before, but have become well acquainted with it since.

With less than 6 ingredients they have created a number of combinations that offer a great protein pick me up with just the right blend of sweetness in a portable package. At prices ranging from $1.25 to $1.75 per bar I did not indulge in these very often.

However, now I have realized that I can recreate these in my own kitchen, at least pretty close. One of the great things about them having such simple ingredients is that I have all those things in my kitchen or can find them easily at the grocery store.

Pecan pie had quickly become my favorite. The ingredients? Pecans and Dates.

I pulled out my juicer and went to work. I got some dates:

. . . and some pecans:

Then I simply ran them through my juicer twice, in about equal quantities of each. You could do this in any other kitchen appliance that is suitable for grinding nuts. This just happens to be what I have on hand.

After they are thoroughly crushed and blended I put them into cupcake liners that I then throw in a bag or other container and store in my fridge until I need a quick power snack.

Larabar has all kinds of other simple flavors and list their ingredients online. If you have a dehydrator you could possibly be more adventurous with the apple and banana which I have not attempted. I am eyeing that chocolate coconut one though, I might just try that next time.

For about a quarter I get these great, healthy treats that seem to energize me at any time throughout the day.

For more frugal tips, head over to Frugal Friday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Verse of the week -- I Corinthians 5:7-8

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Over 130 years ago Robert Lowry penned the moving words to the hymn, Nothing but the Blood. In more recent years, Matt Redman placed these words in a new context in his song by the same name. This song stirred me this morning in church:

Your blood speaks a better word
Than all the empty claims I've heard upon this earth
Speaks righteousness for me
And stands in my defense
it's Your blood

What can wash away our sins?
What can make us whole again?
Nothing but the blood
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

What can wash us pure as snow?
Welcomed as the friends of God
Nothing but Your blood
Nothing but Your blood King Jesus

Your cross testifies in grace
Tells of the Father's heart to make a way for us
Now boldly we approach
Not by earthly confidence
It's only Your blood


We thank You for the blood
We thank You for the blood

We praise You for the blood
We praise You for the blood

Nothing but Your blood
Nothing but Your blood King Jesus

I then found this powerful article from the late 1800's by R.A. Torrey that talks about the power of the blood. In it he said, "We must know the power of the blood if we are to know the power of God. Our knowing experimentally the power of the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the power of prayer, is dependent upon our knowing the power of the blood of Christ." Do I really know the power of the blood in my daily experience?

As I struggle with my sinful nature, and sometimes my apparent apathy for removing it, I was challenged by the power of the blood. Challenged to acknowledge the power of the work of Christ on the cross. Challenged to daily keep pressing on in great gratitude for all He has done for me. I Corinthians 5:7-8 say, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

Paul is especially talking about removing sinfulness from the church as a whole, but I took this personally. Christ offered himself as my passover lamb. His righteousness will stand in my place and I will be found worthy only because of His work.

What can I ever do to show appreciation for that? Nothing will come close to expressing my thanks. However, I can daily work to express my thanks by purging out the "old leaven." Not letting that sinfulness remain in my life unchallenged. Was His blood powerful enough to change everything about me? Absolutely. I need to continually open my life to that sincerity and truth and let Him change me, completely. My pastor brought up this verse as well and as I focused on the power of the blood it spoke to me, "And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies himself just as He is pure." (I John 3:3) As I mediate on His purity I will become more pure as well.

Nothing but the blood of my Jesus has power like that.

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

~I Corinthians 5:7-8~

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs - The ______ Family

This week, I almost passed on my assignment from the homeschool memoirs, but then I woke up in the middle of the night last night with some inspiration and decided to flesh it out today. With a little help from a cool rhyming site I found, I came with a passable product.

So, without further ado, my own take on the ever famous Homeschool Family song:

We’re math whizzes and readers

We hope to raise some leaders

We even build bird feeders

Dad, five kids and me

We use some Charlotte Mason

And eclectic education

They think it’s a plantation

Dad, five kids and me




We school on the computer

Or help out like a tutor

Soon fighting off the suitors

Dad, five kids and me

We spend time all together

No matter what the weather

Identifying feathers

Dad, five kids and me

Leave the school bus waiting

‘Cuz Classrooms are sedating

Homeschool climbs the ratings

For Dad, five kids and me!

Okay, that was more fun than I thought it would be. Go check out some more!

Encouragement from Psalm 37

My kids and I sat and read through Psalm 37 at the prodding of Generation Cedar near the close of our school day today and our follow up conversation was amazingly brief. Partly because my kids don't worry about the economy, although they are pretty aware of what is going on since we talk about it a bit. Partly because the Psalm repeats its message in so many different ways and terms that you can't really miss what it has to say. Don't worry, live lives of righteous obedience, rest in Him, and God will take care of the rest.

I'm not generally a worrier. Throughout our marriage we have been through some financially tough times and have seen God provide in miraculous ways. Just the right amount and just when we absolutely needed it. We learned first hand that, "A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked." (verse 16)

Verse 21, "The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth," also challenged me as I realize that a lot of "wicked" (and non-wicked) will find themselves in desperate situations and I need to show mercy and give generously, not judge them for getting themselves into the scrape they are in, which might not even be the case.

God is my help, my strength, my deliverer, my salvation! Regardless of what we experience in the breath of time that is this life I know my eternal reward in heaven awaits paid for by the precious blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

God gives abundant hope and stability

And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the LORD is his treasure. ~Isaiah 33:6 (a verse of the week from a while back)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Verse of the week -- Matthew 11:28-30

Where do I find my rest and encouragement?

- in a clean house
- God-fearing children
- a happy husband
- the "perfect" schedule

The problem in finding rest in any of those, as honoring to God as some of them may be, is that they are all temporal, and generally external.

Perfect, true rest starts from within me, as God transforms my heart and alters my outlook and thinking. It does not build on external circumstances or accomplishments.

God calls us constantly to come to Him for peace and rest. Interestingly, rest does not necessarily mean the absence of work. Our souls can rest even while our bodies remain at work. Matthew 11:28-30 says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Such comfort in those words.

These verses came to mind again as I read in You Matter More than You Think about the often quoted story of Mary and Martha. As overwhelmed housewives we often relate more to Martha as she hurried about taking care of the tasks of hospitality while "lazy" Mary sat doing "nothing." Leslie Parrott sums this up in Martha's focus on doing loving things rather than being a loving person. She really should have parked herself at Jesus' feet. Although her tasks may have been God honoring, her heart caused her not to honor God.

I pondered this more . . . Luke 10:42 Jesus told Mary that "only one thing is necessary." Only one thing.

Martha hurried while Mary humbled herself.
Martha rushed while Mary learned
Martha bustled while Mary bowed

Martha worked while Mary worshiped.

Mary didn't sit because she needed to. She sat because God was her priority.

How often do I sit? Not because I need "me" time, but simply because God is my priority?

As Christians, our sole focus is God. Parrott wrapped up with this powerful statement, "Our inherent inclination to nurture can cause us to mistake selflessness for love." Wow, is that me. How often do I chalk up my service as love when it is really duty driven selflessness? True love keeps God the priority and all else falls into place. If I remain under His yoke my work will be joyful, easy, light. I have to consciously do that though.

Put away the checklist, and take on His rest. What a promise!

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

~Matther 11:28-30~

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sunday recipes

Sundays are special days in our home. We generally spend the day together worshiping and serving at church, relaxing at home, enjoying the great outdoors, and eating great meals together.

I have often read of the importance of traditions and our Sundays are full of them.

For our morning meal we enjoy smoothies and cinnamon rolls. My breadmaker helps me with the cinnamon rolls so I don't have to get up at four in the morning to prepare this special treat.

The day before I put the following in (this is equivalent to a two pound loaf, and is the same recipe I use for my bread):

- 4 cups white wheat flour
- 11 ounces water and 2 Tbsp whey or yogurt
- 4 Tbsp ground flax
- 2 Tbsp honey (optional)

Flour, water and whey combined

I let my machine mix those ingredients together and then I pour the yeast (2 1/4 tsp) on top, being careful to place the yeast in a hollowed out pocket dusted with flour on top of the dough.

yeast sitting on top of the soaking flour

I set it to the dough setting with the timer to finish up around when I plan to get up in the morning.
Ready to go!

In the morning I dump it on the counter. I have found that shaping it into a rectangle before rolling makes the finished product more the shape I was looking for.

I roll it out into about a 10 inch by 20 inch rectangle. The rectangle gets buttered with about 3-4 tablespoons of butter and sprinkled generously with cinnamon (I don't measure, I just sprinkle it right on).

Sprinkle 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sucanat evenly on top of that.

Roll up from the long edge, pinch the edge to seal, and then slice at one inch intervals.

I place 10 in a pan for that week and the rest into the freezer for another week. (more on freezing dough, here).

I let that rise for 45-60 minutes, until about doubled in size.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes and drizzle with a powdered sugar icing.

The finished product! Or, finishing the product . . .

They always start our Sunday off in a memorable way.

After church we enjoy a big family meal with rolls, salad, fruit, potatoes, a cooked vegetable, and either turkey or pot roast.

Here is my Pot Roast plan:

The night before I put into my crock pot (this varies a bit depending on what I have on hand):

6 cups water
5 potatoes (some white, some sweet)
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 celery stalks
1/2 onion quartered
2 1/2-3 1/2 pound roast (we love arm roasts right now)

I let this cook on low all night long. I have to put it somewhere the smell won't reach my bedroom, otherwise I keep waking up to it. It smells delicious, but I need my sleep!

Before leaving for church I add in 1/2 pound carrots and 1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen).

When we get home from church I bake the rolls and pull out the salad and we are ready to eat. This has been a wonderful, and really easy meal for Sunday afternoons.

When we have eaten what we need for lunch I remove any vegetables left behind, add in a couple peppercinis and let it simmer in the crock pot the rest of the afternoon. I then store it in the fridge for hot beef sandwiches some day later in the week.

Just a few more recipes and you will know all of my "secrets." Cooking always will take time, but I like to keep it as simple, healthful, and delicious as possible.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Heart of the Matter Meme - School Spot

Heart of the Matter meme this week asks us to share our school spaces. I'm happy to do so . . .

As we have had the opportunity to spread out a bit, for the first time ever we have an actual homeschool room. I absolutely love it and we spend the bulk of our school days in this room.

We have a beautiful view into the nearby woods and often enjoy a fresh breeze through the windows when the weather cooperates (not this morning). This also serves as our reading nook with easy access to all our books and I keep our library bag in between the two couches as well. I love this little area.

Most of our schooling takes place in the main part of the room where we have our craft supplies, our school supplies (in the closet), a computer, and lots of table space. The littles usually make a mess on the floor while we get our academics done and we try to always clean up before lunch and at the end of day.

The walls still seem bare and I plan to get something up . . . more maps, art?, etc. I haven't gotten far in that though, other than thinking that I want to think about it more.

I know we are quite spoiled with all this space as I have lived with a small spot in the kitchen for so long. We are thoroughly enjoying this area where we can all work together and focus on school in a space set up just for that.

As we blog our way through the school year, Homeschool Memoirs also asked that we share our school spaces.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Works for me Wednesday - or Friday . . .


My first real works-for-me Wednesday post! I thought of something inspiring a while ago in regards to exercise, and found out there was no WFMW carnival that week. After two months, I finally have another inspiration to share!

Some days homeschooling drags, a bit unmotivated. Sometimes we hit a tough spell and attitudes droop. Overall, I absolutely love homeschooling, and the vast majority of days you could not pay my children to consider a traditional school. However, there are those days.

Last week I struck an interesting motivational tool, but had to wait a week to share to make sure that it worked, and it did!

On Monday we were actually having a really good school day and I realized that we could finish our school work for the week early if we kept clipping along at that pace. So, I bribed, I mean, offered some incentive to my kids to keep plugging along.

If we could finish all our school work by noon on Friday we would pack a picnic lunch (complete with basket and blanket) and head to a park for some play time. WOW!!!! The whole week, while not perfect, had this air of anticipation about it. They enjoyed their studies even more than usual and worked diligently to complete their assignments.

This is, however, so non-Charlotte Mason. She says the accomplishment should be reward in itself, and I generally agree. However, that enthusiasm was hard not to enjoy, and could definitely not be ignored.

So, this week on Monday we chose our reward for a week well worked. After lunch on Friday, if all school work is done we will have snow cones and caramel corn! They have to work extra hard because we will be gone most of the day Thursday at the apple orchard, but they put in enough effort today to make up for it already. I know we will do it, and they are already discussing next week's reward, even while encouraging each other to reach this week's.

And, letting them choose the reward (with my approval, of course), saves me the effort of trying to come up with the incentives, too. This is totally a win-win situation!

Mentoring moments - sometimes just talking

Saturday we awoke to week three of our set time together, just my 9 year old daughter and me.

We read through the second chapter of Beautiful Girlhood together.

Quick side note . . . I just searched for my Beautiful Girlhood link to put in there, and came across a free copy of it online! I'm sure this is slightly different than the one that was recently revised and published by Karen Andreola, but from what I understand her revisions were minimal (as they rightly should be to such a dynamic work), so this online text should be wonderful. Looking at it briefly, it looks very similar to the one I have and use. (Sorry, Jen, I didn't know . . .) So, if you are looking to get started, or want to read it through, now you can see it online.

The companion guide is obviously not available in this format and I highly recommend it, but you could always make up your own questions and tasks to correspond to the chapters.

Anyway, after we read the chapter we just talked. Paige is still very much a child. I think when I start this time with Faith at nine years of age it will look very different. She just has a greater interest in her adult life already. For Paige I kind of wonder if we will walk through this now as an introduction and again in a couple years. Right now we focus more on the "you are still a child" parts of the book and enjoying her carefree days than the maturing parts. I love that this book encourages them to be kids still, to enjoy their youth, while protecting their character from bad habits.

Our conversation over our steaming cups of tea traversed many rabbit trails this week. School plans, marriage, kids, siblings, homeschooling (this was an interesting time as she shrinks a bit from the thought of homeschooling her own kids some day -- so we talked about why we chose that path and the other options available, and how even more dismal the scene may appear in 20 years . . .), church involvement, women's roles in society, etc.

A rich time of friendship building. The more I know her the more I love her.

This has also motivated me to spend more intentional individual time with my other kids. Right now my time with Faith is meal prep time. She loves to cook and is getting good at helping out. Not every night, but at least a couple nights a week she spends that half hour with me in the kitchen talking about everything under the sun while we prepare the evening meal together.

It is absolutely incredible the different persons and personalities that God has melded into our family.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Through the eyes of a child . . .

Nathan always keeps us laughing.

Today he said the following:
Mom, Brooke's not sharing the garbage.

Hmmmm, what's the appropriate response to that?

Earlier today Charles asked him what he usually does while I teach drama and he said, "I go with missing persons."

Her name is actually Mrs. Parsons, but I could see how he would get confused.

Verse of the week -- Deuteronomy 32:46-47

At significant milestones in history men's words stand out, hold greater meaning. Words spoken around these momentous occasions deserve a second look and offer great teaching and inspiration.

Tom Paine said after the Declaration of Independence signing: "These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their county; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny like hell is not easily conquered yet we have this consolation with us, the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value."

Early in our nation's history, 1779, Samuel Adams said, "A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."

Generals before battles, coaches before championships, political leaders during challenging days, and parents during weddings and graduations all offer significant words of insight, motivation, and encouragement that often carry implications outside of the immediate context.

The words in Deuteronomy carry this added weight. As the people of Israel sat poised on the edge of the promised land, after 40 years of wandering through the desert experiencing God's sifting and refining, they now prepared to step into this land and take it as their own. Throughout the chapter Moses shares the history of Israel in song including the promises of God that they can stand on in the future.

Then, he concludes with these words in chapter 32 verses 46 and beginning of 47, "And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life. . ."

As I look to claim the week ahead for Jesus Christ I take these words to heart. Thet hold the pep talk I need to walk tall, to fight strong, to love sincerely, to serve humbly, to stand firm.

God has done great things in my life that I can look back on and gain strength from. His Word overflows with promises that can lift me up in times of discouragement. I have a lifetime of wisdom to continually pass on to my children, intentionally, consistently.

This is not a waste of time, not a "vain thing," this is my life. Implications both in this world and the one to come hang in the balance.

God isn't something to be passed over lightly, kept in a box, even just enjoyed every morning. My day should be walked in His footsteps and built on His convictions. My life should find its anchor so deep in Him that when anything pushes against me all that comes flying out of me is Him. Any contact that people have with me should reflect Him. The strength in my life should be His.

This brings me great encouragement because I know I don't fight my battle or carry out my agenda. I set about to accomplish His. And all He calls me to do, He strengthens me to do as well (and gives me enough time to accomplish it).

As I set about to successfully claim this week for Him, I hold His banner high, knowing I walk in His strength alone.

And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life . . .

~Deuteronomy 32:46-47~

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Menu Planning Monday -- healthy additions

Working to break my mild addiction to bread, I am “low-carbing” it for a few weeks. So, here are the alternatives and breadless options that I brought to the table each meal as my family generally ate our “typical” (read: every week by the law of the Medes and Persians) menu. (so, this is what I actually ate this past week)


Breakfast: Yogurt, blueberries, honey, ground flax

Lunch: Baby romaine lettuce with feta, avocado, hard boiled egg, and beans (I made the beans and many of my kids ended up eating them instead of sandwiches – left over taco shells from a party, beans, and cheese melted on top, they ate it up!)

To make the beans I soaked 1 pound dry beans overnight. Drained, rinsed, and added water to fill crock pot ¾ of way. Added 3 cloves garlic, crushed, 1 scant Tbsp salt, and a sprinkling of chili seasoning. Cook on high for 4 hours

Afternoon snack: nuts

Dinner: more kidney beans and lots of salad


Today was pumpkin day, finally got around to cooking those little treasures from our garden.

Breakfast: More yogurt, berries, honey and flax for breakfast

Snack: extra pumpkin puree with pumpkin pie spice, pecans, cranberries stirred in -- yummy!

Lunch: cut up pineapple, salad

Snack: Roasted pumpkin seeds, Pumpkin muffins

Dinner: Burger without bun and a salad


Breakfast: grapefruit

Lunch: Baby romaine lettuce with feta, avocado, hard boiled egg, and beans (I love this salad, I ate it for one or two meals almost everyday this week)

Dinner: everyone had spaghetti, I just poured my sauce over spinach leaves instead of pasta. This week I bought a spaghetti squash for the base.


Breakfast: While making eggs I decided to throw mine in a hollowed tomato. This was delicious! Just slice top off tomato, scoop out seeds, crack in your egg. I also threw in a couple fresh basil leaves, some Spike natural seasoning, and Parmesan cheese. Tent with foil and bake about 20 minutes in a muffin tin. I made a second one I loved it so much!

Lunch: Baby romaine lettuce with feta, avocado, chicken, and beans

Dinner: Salad


Breakfast: somehow I forgot to eat . . .

Lunch we had a picnic and I brought my favorite salad along for the ride.

Dinner: I made mac and cheese and ground beef for everyone else. I put the ground beef on top of my lettuce with some tomatoes, a little cheese and sprinkled on some chili powder and cumin. Came out like a taco salad. My 4 year old tried it and had seconds she loved it so much (me, too)

I cannot stick to a healthier plan that requires too much time or leaves me hungry. Eating mostly fruit and salad (with added protein) has been amazingly satisfying and I feel great. I cheated a bit over the weekend as we were away from home more than anticipated welcoming a new nephew into our family (yeah!) I look forward to another week of wonderful salads and lots of fresh fruit and yogurt. A couple more weeks and I might start bringing some grains back into my diet, but for now I have not missed them too much (surprise!)

For more menu plans check out Menu Planning Monday.