Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Photo Credit:

Nancy Lennon's granddaughter,

but goodness, I can't think of her name.

Madeline gets excited whenever I tell her we're going to church. She enjoys her time in the nursery with many people who love her, teachers and young friends alike. On Sunday mornings, Ms. Lyndsi comes in and gives them a lesson with a few songs, a very simple Bible story, and a sweet art project, and of course, a snack. The little ones line up against the wall and sit surprisingly still. Madeline seems to listen and mouths the words to some of the songs.
This little (ADORABLE) girl is one of Madeline's best friends. She takes great care of Madeline and is very concerned if Madeline gets upset.

She also taught her to do this, but hey, at least I don't have to chase around pacifiers!

The main Wednesday night friends.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pioneer Woman is My Best Friend (or Worst Enemy)

I made these

when my brother and sister-in-law were here.

I knew they would appreciate Pioneer Woman's Knock-You-Naked Brownies* as much as I would, so that was the perfect time to try them out.

Chewy chocolatey carmely oozing goodness. Mmmm

Seriously, try them!

*Yes, that's the name, and no, they did not quite fulfill that part of the hype, but so close! :)

I'm trying to ignore the Milky Way Cake recipe because, you know, it has 11 Milky Ways in it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Salute You

Photo Credit: Debbie Caddell
We were honored to sing as a family during one of the patriotic selections at this year's musical. The song was entitled "I Salute You," and while we only had a few lines, they expressed our heart-felt appreciation for the sacrifice made by our servicemen and women. During the song, the different branches of the military are honored. Immediately following "our" song, one of the local high school drum lines precedes the Fire Department's Honor Guard, and then all the veterans and active duty servicemen and women come to the stage to be honored. It is a proud moment to see around 100 servicepersons flood the stage, and sobering to see that many of this group, though a symbol of our nation's strength, need help up the stage. We may not have them for long, but we were honored to sing our thanks to them.

By the way, the older girls did a great job with no stage fright, so they must have gotten that from their Daddy! I held Madeline, and while she fussed a bit from being so close to the band and brass, she calmed down pretty quickly with some soothing from Mama before our part. When we sang, she mouthed the words along with us, in time, and with some correct word formations, too! :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

{This Moment} Posing

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Olivia came up to me and said, softly and sweetly, "Wherever I go, I'll still love you." (I can hear the collective "Awwwwww.")

Since it was rainy one day, I let the girls watch Disney's Pocahontas (as a tale and not a history lesson, by the way, since there was a tsk heard 'round the world), and Olivia was singing "Savages, savages" in her own way: "Samwiches, samwiches..."

While looking through a bowl of shells collected from a Florida beach: "Mom, was this one made in China?"

Part of her bedtime prayer: "Help us to have a fun day tomorrow. Help it to be the right size of warm, no cold and no hot. Nevermind, I want it to be hot so that [?? Mama doesn't remember why!]."

Monday, June 20, 2011

An Ode to Family

Okay, perhaps it's not exactly an ode...but I bet I had you going there for a minute. My brother and his family were on their way back to South Dakota last week and we got to spend a whole day with them. As you can see from this series of shots, Jordan was in vacation mode. Picture-taking wasn't evidently on his list of priorities, so he kept being silly and lengthening the time between pictures and eating those incredible pork chops Glen grilled.

I'll cut him a little slack though, because he also was in the act-like-Daddy mode. He banged our front door into submission (after our home-health company left it open in a wind storm, while we were gone) and replaced a faucet we've been trying to get to for a long time.

My lovely sister-in-law, her much, and desperately wish she lived closer! (Does it say something about me that all my sisters-in-law moved so far away? They are currently in South Dakota, Alaska, and Virgina. You can't get too much further apart and be in the same country....unless I move to Florida! :)

Kayla and I took off for The Pointy Pencil here in town to shop for stuff she can't get in South Dakota. What fun! I entered notes into my phone for things I had wanted and were cheaper there than I had thought they would be. (Es, it's reloacated downtown and it is beautiful! They have crafts anytime of the day for the kids, and a play area that would be a dream school room!)

And the kids...Brianna, 5 (6 weeks younger than our Olivia); Daniel, almost 3 (2 weeks older than our Madeline); and Alyssa, 16 months (?)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daddy's Bible

The Bible I will take to church with me today was held in my father's hands. It was a gift from my mother in 1973 and it is soft with age and love. Her tiny script marks the flyleaf, and I wonder if her matching Bible was a gift from him?

Later Bibles belonging to Daddy are very marked and full of notes, but this one only has a few marked passages and a few sermon outlines scrawled on so-small pieces of paper. It always amazed me how he could preach such beautiful sermons off of a scrap of paper, just a few words jotted down.

I read these words last night, and my first thoughts were of the Bible of Daddy's I treasure.

A Book I have - a friend gave -
Whose Pencil - here and there -
Had notched the place that pleased Him -
At Rest - His fingers are -

Now - when I read - I read not -
For interrupting Tears -
Obliterate the Etchings
Too Costly for Repairs.

~~Emily Dickinson, c. 1862

Happy Father's Day in Heaven. Are you with your father around the Father's throne?

Daddy's photography

Friday, June 17, 2011

{This Moment} Reading in Bed: Favorite Time of Day

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Visit SouleMama for more moments

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We loved every minute of having my brother Jordan, his wife Kayla, and their three children with us on their way back to South Dakota. I'm not sure if the cousins got to everything on Carli's list, but they did enjoy the beautiful weather while playing in the back yard, riding bikes, visiting the Nature Center and Jackson-Morrow Park, and eating ice cream.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The List

Carli and Olivia are anxiously awaiting the arrivial of their cousins from South Dakota, Breanna, Daniel, and Alyssa. Mind you, they will be here only one day on their way back West, but here is a list of activities Carli has compiled for their day (complete with her spelling/caps, etc):

  1. Look at books

  2. Eat Breckfest

  3. Littlest Pet shop

  4. color

  5. play school

  6. play ball out side

  7. play house

  8. ride bikes

  9. eat lunch

  10. Big suprise

  11. pick out are favret roks

  12. take a rest

  13. play the piano

Sounds like they are going to have a jolly good time! :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

{This Moment} Backyard Sunshine

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo [make that three for this week!] - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Visit SouleMama for more Moments

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Reading

I've been known to say I hope there are libraries in the heaven (maybe the new earth, at least?), and while that may be a little shallow, it's a very honest sentiment. So many books, so little time, as the saying goes. I usually have several going at one time so that I have one for whatever mood I'm in. I always have one in my purse along with my Kindle, too.

By the way, it may sound like I sit around eating bon-bons (don't say it, please!) and read all day long, but the truth is I really don't get to read that much, for all the same reasons every other wife/mother/home-educator/ chief cook and bottle washer/part-time transcriptionist doesn't get to read much. In the summer, I do have a tad bit more time, and most of that time is eaten up with reading homeschooling material that will help us on our journey. I "read" a lot of my books by MP3 player, but it has to be really engaging and not require a lot of cogitating. I love to go to bed with a book, or sit up reading in the living room, but goodness, I'm asleep in 30 seconds flat most nights.

This week Glen was in Washington, D.C., and one night, around midnight, I finally crawled into bed with my book. The girls were sleeping all around me (two on the floor, one on the bed), as is our custom when Glen is gone, but I turned on the light and settled in anyway. I actually made it to the end of a chapter, but I must have fallen asleep rolling over to turn off the lamp for I awoke to my alarm at 6:00, the lamp blazing and the book tucked in by my pillow.

That being said, and since I love to see what's books are hanging out on the nightstands or coffee tables or in the baskets of others, I thought I'd share my current stack. (I'd share my up-next list, but it is entirely too long and would take me the rest of the year to get a fourth of the way through, if that.)

  • Desiring God--John Piper

  • The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind--Bernard Nathanson

  • Organized Simplicity--Tsh Oxenreider

  • A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning--Karen Andreola

  • Home Education--Charlotte Mason, Kindle

  • Ginger Pye--Eleanor Estes, with the children

  • The Count of Monte Cristo--Alexander Dumas (Kindle)

  • The Autobiography of Mark Twain--Mark Twain (MP3)

  • The Passage--Justin Cronin

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bedtime Prayers

There is something special about praying with my children at the end of a long day. Even when the day has brought stress or talking back or petty squabbles or Mommy's impatience, praying together breaks through the frustration and brings lots of hugs and kisses besides.

Oh, and giggles supressed by this Mama. Olivia's five-year-old prayers are simply funny, even when they're not meant to be. Carli is becoming very expressive and grown-up sounding, but every once in a while, something slips in there that reminds me that she really is just a little girl still.

Like tonight...along with praying for Daddy's safe travel home tomorrow and that we'd have a good time at church tomorrow, praising Jesus, and that we'd have a safe night of sleep, she also prayed that there wouldn't be any spider bites or spiders crawling over her. Between the two of them, Carli and Olivia pray this prayer a lot, and we've not really had that major of a problem with spiders. Ah well. Olivia also prayed that there would be no tornado sirens tonight, and that "our hearts would be ok, and that my friend Lizzie would be ok, and that everybody would be ok, even Katie Davis."

ST and GI

Madeline has been learning to sign colors in speech therapy for a while now, but Mommy and Carli and Olivia are making a concerted effort to teach her to label colors herself. In this video she is signing red per request and working on throwing at the same time. I still have to stabilize her to get her to use two hands easily. Otherwise, she props belly on the floor or on her legs to keep her balance, but by that point it can barely be called sitting.

We visited Dr. Schaefer today, Madeline's gastroenterologist. Dr. Shaefer was very pleased with Madeline's weight gain and progress. She is up to 23 lbs! For now we're leaving the g-tube in, though we don't use it unless she is sick (really not that often at all these days!). It certainly comes in handy when she does get sick and the Nissen (procedure in which the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus to prevent reflux from getting into her lungs) doesn't allow her to relieve any pressure at all on her stomach.

Oh, by the way, while we were there, not only did Olivia ask the doctor for a piece of paper and a pencil, she also asked her, "Am I beautiful?" Ah, such wonderful moments! For the record, I don't do well with having all three kids in a doctor's office. I'm fine until the doctor actually walks in and tries to carry on a conversation with me. I can't concentrate on the doctor and the kids who, even when they are being very well behaved, seem, talkative in such close quarters.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Besides soaking up the sunshine...

...we are continually learning, albeit at a more leisurely pace! This past week we:

:: found mosquito larvae in our backyard sand table left open unintentionally

:: visited the library just for fun (as opposed to a change of scenery for school work). Carli was thrilled to use the big kid's computers, since she was only 37 days away from turning 8. There is a kaleidoscope art program on the those particular computers, and she has fun creating new designs.

:: discovered Dance Mat Typing, hosted by a funny goat with an accent and sunglasses. Did I mention it's free? Carli practiced the home row this week.

:: watched "Alaskan Wild." The kids are fascinated by all things Alaska, probably because they have beloved cousins there. Anything with Alaskan wildlife and they're glued. Carli never fails to say, "Mom, remember when we saw the whale tail when we were on the boat in Alaska?" This particular documentary had footage of seals, salmon, whales (oh dear, I don't remember which ones), Kodiak bears, wolves, foxes, and more.

:: started learning the books of the Bible with this really incredible set my mom has had for years. Story goes that in children's meeting in our church in Ashville, New York, the entire row of 2-year-olds, including my dear brother Jordan, learned the books of the Bible, both reciting them and putting them on the board in the correct order. Evidently those few minutes Mom took every week, supposedly just for the older kids, did abundantly more than she could have imagined for the young kids too. I know I would have only been four or five, but I never had to learn them again!

:: Played ABSeas (Olivia) and Unjumbled (Carli) and Life

:: Played at Cool Creek Park and visited the Nature Center there. Definitely want to go back to walk the trails!

:: Discovered a beautiful (HUGE) moth outside of our window of our hotel. Gene Stratton Porter would have been proud of Carli's enthusiasm. Alas, when I reviewed Carli's pictures of it, she didn't get any of it with its wings flat, so we haven't been able to classify it.

:: Watched a groundhog waddle across our yard and climb the fence to head on down to the creek.

:: Lots of bike-riding this summer, playing with neighborhood friends, and splashing about in a kiddie pool

::Taken bike rides and walks. Carli came up with a game during one of our walks, called "Guess My Number." She had no idea that I would be able to come up with her number so quickly by using greater than, less than; place value; even and odd numbers; and rounding. She did pretty well herself when the tables were turned.

:: Swimming at a hotel pool. Carli and Livy are newly-minted self-taught swimmers, getting braver by the swim.

Some of the books we enjoyed are:
::Night Running by Elisa Carbone (This was a hold over from our Underground Railroad study)
::Red Wagon by Renata Liwska
::Abe Lincoln Crosses the Creek: A Tall Thin Tale Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend
by Deborah Hopkinson
::Pinkalicious and Purplicious by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann (Two of Olivia's favorites)
::The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola (a new favorite author of ours)
::Roxaboxen by Barbara Cooney
::My Pony by Susan Jeffers
::The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola
::The Birdhouse by Cynthia Rylant (another favorite author)
::Skylark, sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia McLaughlin
::Started Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes. The chapters are kind of long, but the girls are begging me to continue at the end of each chapter! I'd never read this book, but I have seen it on so many reading lists, and we have found it absolutely delightful!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nailed to the Cross

Some of you may be memorizing Colossians along with Ann Voskamp this year. I can't begin to put into words how this has changed me. Even in the first chapter and a half, there are so many verses that I've just read over and haven't really taken up as my own, but once they are tucked into my heart, they begin to pervade my thoughts and encourage me throughout long days or in situations out of my control.

This past week we memorized Colossians 2:13 and 14.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

God's sacrifice is incomprehensible to me, and there is nothing I can do to earn it. All I can offer Him is a grateful heart and the broken pieces of of my life that only He can make into the beautiful mosaic of His grace.

Of course, these verses immediately bring to mind the haunting hymn entiteld "It is Well with My Soul."

My sin--Oh the bliss of this glorious thought!--

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to His cross

And I bear it no more.

Praise the Lord,

Praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Breakdown of Year 2 (and pics for the bored)

For those of you who are weary in well-doing because of listening to me ramble on about homeschooling, buck up! I'll be back to regularly-scheduled programming soon, or when I feel like it! Ha! But to pacify you for a while, here are a few pics of the view from where I sat while I typed the majority of this post!

Madeline taking notes on her sisters' progress

Olivia's favorite new trick is swimming under water,
or at least the best she can with the floaties I make her wear! :)

Not too bad for nary a swim lesson and only a few pool visits per year!

With the help of some lovely people on the Yahoo! discussion board, I have chosen Year 2 to start with Ambleside Online. Carli's Math, Reading, Spelling, etc, will still be Grade 3 level, but if we started in Year 3, we would be missing part of a couple key books in the history cycle.

Ambleside takes a lot of books a little bit at a time, almost to the point that I can imagine my girls saying, "Just one more chapter, Mom! Puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeeze?" I think the short, varied lessons will be fun and keep our interest very well.

This year we will have daily instruction in Bible, math, penmanship/copywork, phonics as needed, and possibly Spanish, and weekly instruction in nature study, art and art appreciation, music appreciation and composer study.

History for Year 2 covers A.D. 1000 to the Middle Ages, and we will be utilizing these classic books:
::An Island Story by H.E. Marshall
::This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall
::A Child's History of the World by Virgil Hillyer (Go HERE for an explanation on the use of this book)

For History Tales and/or Biography:
::Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
::The Little Duke by Charlotte Yonge
::Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley

For Geography we will read Holling C. Holling's books, Tree in the Trail and Seabird, practicing our map skills along with it.

During Natural History/Science, I am looking forward to delving into Anna Botsford Comstock's The Handbook of Nature Study. Carli really enjoys working on her nature journal, though we didn't take as many nature walks as I would have liked. There is an Outdoor Hour Challenge in which we may be able to participate. We will also enjoy Holling C. Holling's Pagoo, and The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess.

We won't have heavy phonics instruction this year, but for Reading practice, I found delightful readers on Google Books, called Reading-Literature by Treadwell and Free. I plan to print them out and make them special. I absolutely love them, and will probably use them for Livy too, once she is reading.

We will study the Poetry of Walter de la Mare, Eugene Field, James Whitcombe Riley, and Christina Rosetti. Our Artist Studies will include Jean Honore Fragonard and Norman Rockwell, as well as one other, yet to be determined. Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bartok and Hindermith will round out our Composer Studies.

And Literature! My favorite! We have already read a few of the Little House on the Prairie books listed for year two, but between this and the Free-Reading List, we will have plenty to read through the three terms.

::Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
::Pilgrim's Progress Book 1 (Christian's Journey) by John Bunyan (original language)
::Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty, selections.
::Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
::The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
::Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (original language)

Additional Books for Free Reading
Heidi by Joanna Spyri
A Wonder Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales
Pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri D'Aulaire
Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
Chanticleer and the Fox - Barbara Cooney's is one version
Along Came A Dog by Meindert De Jong
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

For more information on about Ambleside Online or to figure out what in the world I'm thinking, go HERE.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Guest Post

I am truly honored that my Aunt Pam asked me to write a guest post for her lovely blog, A Sheltering Tree. If you feel so inclinded you can read here about Sheltering Families with Special Needs.

Ambleside Online

So what in the world is Ambleside Online? Here's the welcome on the site:

Welcome to Ambleside Online, a free homeschool curriculum designed to be as close as possible to the curriculum that Charlotte Mason used in her own private and correspondence schools. Our goal is to be true to Charlotte Mason's high literary standards. Ambleside Online uses the highest quality books and costs no more than the cost of texts. The curriculum uses as many free online books as possible, and there is no cost to use this information or join the support group.

As I said in the previous post, Ambleside Online provides the curriculum for History, Literature, Geography, Poetry, Composer and Artist Studies, Music Appreciation, Natural History/Science, and Free Reading Lists, as well as a lot of support with their online discussion boards.

One thing that is a little different with Ambleside Online is that it is set up as three terms rather than two semesters. The terms are September-November, January-March, and April-June. We will see if we like it, but if not, it will be easy to go back to our normal schedule next year. I do love the idea of having a month-long holiday in December to concentrate more on the celebration of Christ's birth. It's always too busy, and that might just be the ticket to allowing us to slow and drink in the beauty of the season. There is enough leeway in the terms to give us a few short breaks and still meet Indiana's requirement of 180 days.

So we're excited! I'm grateful for the extra month this summer to get ready for the first term. I'm still researching gentle math introductions for Kindergarten, and then I think I'll be set with K curriculum. I would love to get the first term's completely ready to go by September...notebooking pages, a daily schedule, and more.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grade 3 Curriculum (2011/2012)

I feel like ordering, "Drumroll, please!" I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my dear sister-in-law, Esther, knows exactly what I mean when I say that I have lived and breathed homeschool research in this last week. To be honest, as much as I look forward to the end of the school year, a big part of that is because I enjoy working on the upcoming year.

This year I have double the fun with Olivia moving on to Kindergarten next year. And an added challenge...try to do it for a LOT less money (more on that at another date). Last year I spent around $400 for just Carli. This year? Carli's comes to $167 or so. Still working on Olivia's.

Ok, so here we go! I think I'll just list everything this time, and explain more about the whys and wherefores and give links another time.

:: Year 2 History, Geography, Literature, Readers, Artist and Composer Studies, Poetry, Music
Appreciation, Natural History/Science, Free Reading List--Ambleside Online.
::Math--Teaching Textbooks 3
::Language--finish Primary Language Lessons
::Penmanship/Copywork--Pictures in Cursive
::Spelling--The Modern Speller (a classic) and customized spelling lists
:: Art--ARTistic Pursuits
::Foreign Language--Looking into free Spanish lessons in town at our local teacher's shop.

The free curriculum at Ambleside Online has been a treasure-trove discovery for me. I love Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education (that's right! More on that later), and Ambleside Online bases it's whole curriculum on her principles. It will be an intense and exciting year. I have much learning and growing to do as a mother and a teacher, but I've seen the start of it this past year as we started our journey down this road.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Carli's Photography

I'm trying to think of a suitable introduction to this post, but it eludes me. At any one time when I download pics and videos, I find dozens of photographs and video clips. I think I need to have her start chronicling some of her school work on video because she can be quite the little teacher. She just needs a steadier hand! :)