Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Friday

I am not a shopper ! Actually, I have never really been a shopper. I prefer to go in, get "it", and leave. I do not enjoy wandering in stores, looking for "deals"; and I am not a window-shopper. Goodness, I don't even read the sale ads in the newspaper beyond the occassional Grocery Store ad. HA !! DadToCherub's friends and coworkers just do not believe that he is married to a non-shopper woman, however. (HA !) If they only knew ... I not only hate to shop ... I do not even like to shop online, even while sipping yummy coffee and comfy in my PJs plus slippers. I just do NOT like to shop ... period.
That being said .... I have not shopped on Black Friday in many years. Actually I have only gone shopping on THAT day once before (6 years ago). I was pregnant with Cherub 6, and due in mid-December. So, like all good "nesters", I wanted to get all of the Christmas to-do list finished so that I did not have to worry about it later in December ...should we encounter a problem, or a time-crunch (which we WOULD have experienced, had we waited. Cherub 6 was born on December 18th, one and a half "miserable" weeks late !). DadToCherubs and I went out together on that Black Friday -- and it was TRULY AWFUL --- really really SUPER awful !! We still talk about it, with near-horror in our voices .... (hee hee hee)
Back to the present .... after a lovely Thanksgiving Holiday here at home with my parents and DadToCherub's father ...I was feeling brave, a bit inspired, and was filled with a "let's get this part over with so we can enjoy the holiday season" spirit (only felt so strongly by a true NON-shopper !) .... and did I mention that I was feeling VERY BRAVE ???
So, without much planning other than my basic "need to get a gift for so-and-so list", I decided to venture out on Black Friday to get at least some Christmas Shopping done. I decided to start out at 11am, rather than venture out any earlier. I hoped that most of the "Christmas Crazies" in search of those elusive "deals" would be a bit more sedate by the later morning hours.
Toys R Us was a mad house ... crowds in every isle .... the store itself resembling a war-zone, with toys strewn all over the floors, parents wandering blurry-eyed through the isles. But I got through it, finding everything I was looking for.
When I left Toys R Us after waiting in a long line and finally checking out, I noticed more than a few pitiful-faced Dads and Grandads sitting on the benches, looking timid and stunned --- shopping is generally not a man's favorite activity, so I can only guess that Black Friday shopping is certainly not something they look forward to. (HA !)

Hobby Lobby was a mass of inspired crafters searching for supplies, and was also full of Christmas-decoration shoppers. Yet, desite the crowds, it was rather calm. The check out lines were pretty civilized considering the sheer number of people waiting in them.

Barnes & Noble was wonderful !!! Busy, but not crowded. The clerks were very helpful, and were pleasant. I did manage to find quite a few lovely gifts there, and of course soothed my weary self with a nice Peppermint Mocha Coffee (with whipped cream !) and a giant sugar cookie with red sprinkles. The coffee and cookie were JUST what I needed. (as always - right ?!?!)
Next, I stopped at a large Christian bookstore (Lifeway) . Here the "spirit of Christ" was conspicuously missing in all of the grabbing, snide remarks, elbowing, and "shopping". Christian music was literally BLARING over the loudspeakers -- it was anything BUT restful at that volume !! The clerks were stressed, but even so, they should have been polite and helpful. Yet, they were certainly NOT polite or helpful !! I will say that "this" was one of the most unpleasant times of my whole day (said in retrospect) and I will not be visiting any Christian bookstores for holiday shopping again. Instead I will handle that part of my shopping online in the years to come. Who would have thought ... a store likely full of professing-Christians ... the spirit of Christmas .... hummmmmmmmmmmmm.
After that delightful experience (not !), I stopped here and there at a few "small" shops. These were calm and "sane", renewing and soothing my spirit for what was to come. (HA !)

Next, I drove to an offical "shopping center". Not a mall, mind you, but a collection of stores in one "shopping park". I could see WalMart in the distance -- with droves and droves of people coming and going. Needless to say, I did NOT go there ... you could not have DRAGGED me into WalMart.
OHHHHH MYYYYYY !! The crowds -- the drivers -- the lack of parking. This shopping area was not the best idea I had all day, but I parked and decided that I was " goin' in ". HA !
At this point, I parked, and sat in my car while debating just going home. While sitting, I looked through my list, realizing that I was almost finished .... so decided to stick to shopping for just a little while longer. I looked back at the crowds, and debated a little more ... eventually summoning up the courage to get out of the car and head for the stores. Hummmmmmm.
Super Target was MUCH more daunting than any store I had been in earlier, considering the sheer size of it. The walls seemed almost alive, ebbing and flowing with all of the activity. By comparison, even Toys R Us was calmer. Long lines, a very crowded Electronics area, clothing strewn into the isles, clerks rushing in every direction, children have sword-fights with tubes of wrapping paper, babies crying, temper-tantrums from tots kicking and screaming in the isles, desparate calls from store personnel blaring over the loud-speakers ... but the Toy section was absolutely INSANE !! Shopping carts, adults with walkie-talkies, people trying to talk on cell-phones, crazed shoppers throwing "elbows" to make people move, more children throwing temper tantrums over "NO" responses from parents, and wayyyyy too many toys that made all sort of obnoxious noises. YIKES !!
Nope, Target was NOT fun. I got the few things on my list that HAD to come from there ... and headed to the registers, only to wait an hour in line. Can you believe that only half of the registers were "open" ... on Black Friday ... can you imagine ?!?! (That store manager did not plan very well !)
I survived ... but it was NOT a place for the timid, nor those with heart trouble !
Yet I continued to persevere. BRAVERY is a funny thing ... but it was waning.

My last stop was Old Navy .... and it was #3 of the worst stores, second only to Target (#2) and Lifeway Christian Store (#1). Crowds, buggies, people bickering, children screaming and crying, fitting rooms full of impatient people insisting that they wore sizes other than "matching" to their body sizes, clerks stressed to the max ... and a line for the register that took over an hour to get through. But .... I finished shopping in there .... finally .... personally vowing not to go back to Old Navy until next spring. HA !
When I arrived back at my car,
I was finished. Literally !
I had finished shopping, and was also physically spent !
What an absolutely exhausting day !!
I managed to purchase every single thing on my list for our immediate family. Yahoo !!
On my list are just a few small "very specific" things that I will buy closer to home before sending them "north" to extended family. So, there is only a small handful of gifts remain un-purchased.
I survived .... with my wits about me (despite being a bit shell-shocked) .... my body intact with without injury (but there were several close-calls) ... and I can still "face" myself in the mirror because my dignity remained intact. HA !! I even had money left over. (This fact alone would be yet another shock for DadToCherub's friends and coworkers - ha ! But they would never believe him. HA !)
If the stores look this bad during a TOUGH ECONOMIC YEAR ... I cannot imagine what a GOOD ECONOMIC YEAR would be like. YIKES !! I am curious to see the "Black Friday Numbers" come on the news Monday .... to see if retailers end up having a good year, or if they have the bad year that forecasters predicted. I wonder .......
I am, however, still curious how people manage to keep any Christmas Spirit at all when they are in the stores from midnight to midnight on Black Friday, bickering over "deals" and "steals", living out those "wild tales" that we read about in the newspapers on Saturday and Sunday.
Glad it's not me.
And if you are one of "those" type people I saw in the stores on Saturday ... please cross us off your gift-giving list. We certainly do not want it nor need it badly enough that you should sacrifice your dignity, heart, soul, body, and mind.
Yikes !
Happy Holidays !!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


A Thanksgiving Prayer
Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank thee for this place in which we dwell,
for the love that unites us,
for the peace accorded to us this day,
for the health, for the food, and the
bright skies that make our lives delightful,
for our friends in all parts of the earth.
Give us courage, gaiety, and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends, soften us to our enemies.
Bless us, if may be, in all our innocent endeavors.
If may not, give us the strength to
encounter that which is to come.
May we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation,
temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune
loyal and loving to one another.
As the clay to the potter,
as the windmill to the wind,
as the children of their sire,
we beseech of Thee this help and mercy
for Christ’s sake.
~~ Robert Louis Stevenson
We Thank Thee
For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
For blue of stream and blue of sky;
For pleasant shade of branches high;
For fragrant air and cooling breeze;For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
~~Ralph Waldo Emerson 1871
Oh, the Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord,
For giving me the things I need:
The sun, the rain and the appleseed:The Lord is good to me.
~~ by John Chapman, aka "Johnny Appleseed" 1792
The Pilgrim Fathers
O God, beneath Thy guiding hand
Our exiled fathers crossed the sea;
And when they trod the wintry strand,
With prayer and psalm they worshipped Thee.
Thou heard'st, well pleased, the song, the prayer:
Thy blessing came; and still its power
Shall onward through all ages bear
The memory of that holy hour.

Laws, freedom, truth, and faith in God
Came with those exiles o'er the waves;
And where their pilgrim feet have trod,
The God they trusted guards their graves.

And here Thy name, O, God of love,
Their children's children shall adore,
Till these eternal hills remove,
And spring adorns the earth no more.
~~ Leonard Bacon, 1861
a passage taken from Harvest Hymn
Whoever fails, Thou dost not fail;
Whoever sleeps, Thou dost not sleep;
With fattening shower, and fostering gale,
They mercy brings the time to reap;
Man marks each season and its sign,
And sows the seed and plants the tree,
But form, growth, fullness, all are Thine,
--Lord of the harvest, praise to Thee!

O God! it is a pleasant thing
To see the precious grain expand,
And the broad hands of Plenty fling
Her golden largess o'er the land;
To see the fruitage swell and glow,
And bow with wealth the parent tree;
To see the purple vintage flow
--Lord of abundance, praise to Thee!

Praise for the glorious harvest days,
And all the blessings that we share;
For the unbounded sunlight praise
And for the free and vital air;
Praise for the faith that looks above;
The hope of immortality;
For life, health, virtue, truth and love,
Maker and Giver, praise to Thee!
~~ John Critchley Prince, 1838


Thanksgiving was first celebrated by the settlers at Plymouth in the Massachusetts colony in 1621 under the leadership of Governor William Bradford. Washington and Madison each issued a Thanksgiving proclamation once during their Presidencies. It was not until 1863, however, when Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation that the holiday was established as a national annual event, occurring on the last Thursday of November. The first observance of the national holiday came one week after the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg. The language of the proclamation is beautiful and marked by a rare felicity of expression.
* *
"The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful providence of almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.
OCTOBER 3, 1863"

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Am Blessed ....

... to have a loving husband and a best friend, rolled into one.
... to have a husband who has come to know Our Lord through the years, right along with me.
... to have a husband who enjoys playing board games at home with the family for anniversary "dates" just as much as romantic outings.
... to have a husband who taught me how to change diapers and care for our firstborn, because he had a lot more experience than I did.
... to have a husband who never hesitated to change diapers, give baths, and pick up toys, for all those years when the children were younger.
... to have a husband who prefers flannel sheets and PJs, as do I.
... to have a husband who always meets me (or beats me to it even) at the bedside of a crying sick child, in the middle of the night. And who very often sends me back to bed, and who spends a sleepless night giving comfort only a Dad can. (He has always said that I take the day shift, while he takes the night shift.)
... to have a husband who adores me, and reminds me that he adores me many times every day.

... to have a husband who agrees that sharing a late night dessert is more romantic than weekends for two.
... to have a husband who really never was a cat person, but who loves our cats because I do.
... to have a husband who does not care for the outdoors, but who is often found muddy and with a shovel or tiller in his hand, in the name of "helping" me with my outdoor projects.
... to have a husband who says I look beautiful wearing my overalls, hair a mess, and mud streaks on my face (gardening days).
... to have a husband who took more than a share of those "sleepless nights" when our babies would not sleep, and I often found him snuggled with the babe in his arms, sound asleep on the couch or the rocker, so the baby did not wake me.
... to have a husband who goes with the flow, even at high tide and during tsumai's. (HA !)
... to have a husband who is dedicated to our family, working very hard to provide.
... to have a husband who has been ever-so patient with my quirks through the years (and there are many quirks).
... to have a husband who never ends a phone call without saying I LOVE YOU.
... to have a husband who was patient when I was learning to cook, and who always asked for seconds (even when the neighborhood opossum refused my hand-outs).
... to have a husband who never let's me go to bed mad, and who always kisses me good night.
... to have a husband who is always supportive of his "creative" wife's grand plans.
... to have a husband who chooses to work from home just so that he can be here with his wife and children more.
... to have a husband who always stops what he is doing whenever the children or I need him.
... to have a husband who speaks his mind freely with complete truth.
... to have a husband with whom I have more in common that anyone else I have ever met.
... to have a husband who decided to take over all of the laundry duties when I hurt my back last winter, and who insists it will only hurt me if he returns this job to me.
... to have a husband who just smiles while he keeps my techonology (tv, dvd player, laptop) up and running, because I am a technology-dummy and am forever messing something up.
... to have a husband who is never intimidated by others, nor swayed by the "fads".
... to have a husband who loves each of our children unconditionally.
... to have a husband who loves me, often in spite of myself.

God blessed me beyond measure years ago ....
and November 23rd was our 15th wedding anniversary.
Thank you Lord !!
And, thank you DadToCherubs for loving me !!
I love you more with every passing day !!

Household Projects

(above) -- This is the Front Entry (hallway) BEFORE the painting.
It is hard to tell from this photo, but it was a faded dingy water-tank green color.
(We had already stripped off the wallpaper border when this photo was taken.)
(above) The front Hallway AFTER ...
We painted the walls a medium tan,
a few shades darker than the light tan woodwork.
(white woodwork and big families are not a good combination - HA !)
We think it turned out lovely ! The darker warmer color on the walls
really "shows off" the beautiful woodwork in this old Pre-Civil War house.
Then we finally put up some photos.
The hallway looks much "warmer" and "cozier"
for such a large space (20x70 -- this hallway is HUGE !).
Oh, and the black cabinet houses our Nature Collection --
snake skins, butterflies, bugs, plants, bird nests, and other "finds".
We bought new light fixtures for the hallway, to update it
a bit more. But between traveling and working really hard,
DadToCherubs simply has not had time to get them installed yet.
The mantel decorated for Autumn,
and the first fire of the season in the woodstove.
This big old house is finally starting to look like OUR home.
It has taken us a year and a half to feel inspired .. to claim it as our own.
(after losing our home in March 2007 to a housefire)
It's funny how healing from those events happens -- a little bit at a time.
God's timing .... God's healing. We are so blessed !
Our next projects will be painting the girls bedroom, the master bedroom & bath, and then finally the living room, school room, and dining room.
First we have to strip off all of the wallpaper borders (and wallpaper in the dining room),
so that will keep us busy for a few weeks.
But we will be sure to post BEFORE and AFTER photos of each project.
Stay tuned .......

We Have A Dilema

Here Birdie, Birdie ....


(above) Our resident Diva --- Daisy.
(above) Yes - that IS a full grown Great Pyrenees asleep in a rather small chair. She was tired, after tromping over notebooks and swiping pencils from the students who were hard at work.

(above) -- the DogSchooling Students of Beck's Bounty.

The Diva-Daisy, resting, after her lessons were finished.

It is funny -- not too many years ago, we focused on
"what to do with toddlers during school time ?".
These days, we work around our dogs instead. HA !

When the Grands Came To Visit

Earlier this month, my grandparents (great grandparents to the 6 Cherubs) came from Pennsylvania to visit us in Tennessee.

Here is a photo of Pop, out for one of his many walks with Cherub 6. He loves to go for walks .... Pop and Cherub 6 ! After his walks, Pop enjoyed petting the dogs and cats, and feeding the chickens. Whenever there were animals around, Pop was all smiles. Here is Grammy with Cherub 5, playing tic-tac-toe ont he wipe-off board. It is a shame that the laughing and giggling cannot be "heard" in the photo.
Here is Pop, telling stories of his experiences in Germany, during World War 2. The Cherubs were in awe during the stories --- there is something incredible when you hear these stories first hand, from the man who experienced them. What a history lesson !!
One evening we went bowling. We had a grand time, laughing and laughing. DadToCherubs won the first game, and Pop won the second game. I have never seen Pop laugh so much ... at himself and everyone else too.
Grammy enjoyed sitting in the kitchen, with a warm mug of herbal tea, just "visiting". We tried to do this every evening after dinner -- the girls and I so enjoyed talking together and hearing Grammy's stories.
Below is Pop and Grammy ... Grammy in the rocker, which was one of her favorite spots, and Pop strolling around while the children were busy with their schoolwork. They seemed a bit skeptical about homeschooling, and were fascinated with the lessons the children were doing. We did scale back a bit, to allow more time for visiting, just focusing on core academics. But I think in the end, Grammy & Pop were impressed that school CAN be done successfully at home.
It so happened that the Grands were here on November 11th ... Veterans Day. We drove to the VFW to attend a lovely Memorial Service, followed by a luncheon of soups and sandwiches. Below is a photo of Pop visiting with another WW2 veteran who had also been in Germany with a different unit.
Tthe VFW arranged for a lovely "fly over" during the Memorial Service.

Here are Grammy & Pop, surrounded by various Cherubs, while we waited for the Memorial Service to begin.

One afternoon we visited the library. Grammy loves to read, and was able to pick a nice book from our library's Large Print section. She read the 300+ page book in 1 1/2 days --- WOW !!
We all really enjoyed the Grand's visit, and hope that they can come back again soon. We were honored to have them with us in Tennessee, and hope to have the priviledge again !

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Further We Go On Our Homeschool Journey ...

... the more I am convinced that Charlotte Mason was a brilliant woman beyond her years.
Often I stand in awe of the education that her methods, layed down so many years ago (1800's) for parents and student-teachers, have brought to our children, and to our family. She has enriched our lives beyond measure. God blessed us richly that day, so long ago, when I stumbled upon the book series by Charlotte Mason. Our lives were forever changed ....
To buy Miss Mason's Original Homeschooling Series, click here:
To read Miss Mason's Original Homeschooling Series FREE online, click here:
BEWARE: If you read these books, your life as a parent or as a homeschooling parent will never be the same !
Our favorite Charlotte Mason style studies concern Nature; specifically our Nature Journals. These "lessons" have provided such a beautiful foundation for our advanced science studies, while also improving our lives in the Natural world around us. We are all Observers, in awe of Our Father in Heaven who created this Masterpiece - our natural world. It is wonderful to go on a walk with the children, listening to them identify flowers, trees, plants, and animals as if they were each old friends. Even while preparing our season's firewood, we heard them naming the trees that the logs originally came from -- by identifying the bark and remnant leaves. They truly adore being outside; it is all play to them. When happening upon a new discovery (bug, leaf, or otherwise), they race inside for our collection of identification guides or the magnifying glass, eager to know what "it" is. And next, they gather the art supplies and their Nature Journals -- all in the name of "fun".
In addition to a inspiring a genuine love of the outdoors for our family, Miss Mason's methods have added a "feast" to our other studies. By Miss Mason's suggestions, we have yearly endeavored into studies of Shakespeare, Plutarch, Poetry, Artists, and Composers. We have also been blessed to read an incredible variety of Living Books on many diverse subjects (science, natural science, history, art, music, literature, poetry, and so much more).
Add to this banquet the ever-useful habits of Copywork and Narration; narration creates a "relationship" with the study, thus increasing the lesson's imprint on the memory. Narration feeds the mind, and organizes the thoughts. Copywork also helps with memory, and teaches the student "language arts" such as spelling, grammar, and composition.
Miss Mason also advocated large amounts of free time in the out-of-doors; every single day. She encouraged free play, when the students could put to good use their studies as well as explore the world around them. After years of this "free time" and a rich education, it is a delight to see our children "acting out" scenes from books, or using their time in nature walks, or begging to explore a museum. Our children have truly benefitted from a lot of unstructured time through the years, although I will admit that I doubted this "suggestion" from Miss Mason long ago. After considerable prayer, I finally heeded God's instruction, deciding to follow her advice whole-heartedly, and so the children's "childhoods" have been full of wonder, awe, and learning. Today our older children are reaping the benefits that Miss Mason promised .... they are bright, intelligent, creative individuals who enjoy good books, can "learn" on their own, and who have devoted their lives to God. And what an adventure it has been !
I am embarassed to say that when we began Miss Mason's methods, I was doubtful and quite unsure. Her methods are not "ordinary", that's for sure ! I am not doubtful nor unsure today. I am thankful for the blessings that Miss Mason's methods have brought to our lives, and I am thankful to God for focusing my mind on these methods of education despite my timidity.
Miss Mason's suggestions have indeed enriched our hearts, broadened our educational horizons, and have fed our minds with a wonderful variety of studies; both the students and the parent-teachers have benefited from her methods and suggestions.
It is funny to see every once in a while, "professionals" from today's world taking notice of the benefits of such studies and practices .... they sometimes publicly state that some of these methods (such as nature study and outside exploration) DO work and DO benefit students in countless ways. I only wish they too would read Miss Mason's book series and instrduce just some of her methods in our public schools .... our schools, the teachers, and the students would never be the same. Look at these articles:
Please enjoy these (below) quotes from Miss Mason herself, from commonly used Charlotte-Mason-style resources, and also a few quotes from those who use her methods in their homeschools.
"Nature study does not start out with the classification given in books, but in the end it builds up in the child's mind a classification which is based on fundamental knowledge; it is a classification like that evolved by the first naturalists, because it is built on careful personal observations of both form and life. (Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study, page 6)
"We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things." (Charlotte Mason)
“There is no part of a child's education more important than that he should lay - by his own observation - a wide basis of facts towards scientific knowledge in the future." (Charlotte Mason)
"Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life." (Charlotte Mason)
"Charlotte Mason said that science should increase and feed our wonder and delight in the world around us. It should spark our admiration, both at the wonder of creation and the skill and wisdom of the Creator. It should put us on a first name basis, so to speak, with the natural world, which means we must know the names of the inhabitants and their surroundings, and it should introduce us to the laws that order our universe as well as the methods used to make scientific discoveries.

Charlotte Mason wanted students to have a broad base in topics such as botany, astronomy, and physiology, although her curriculum for the younger grades used mostly books on animals and other natural science, in addition to their own observations and collections. Most importantly, science was to be taught as something wonderful in itself, beginning with a sense of reverence for God's world, rather than starting by tearing things apart. Science should lead to a knowledge of the properties of substances and of the forces in the world around us. This must be first-hand knowledge of the things and forces; not simply knowing about them. It must be obtained by personal experience. Some science teachers today note that their students don't "get" higher-level science concepts because they don't have the childhood experience of being outside doing things like collecting tadpoles, watching butterflies, skipping stones, seeing plants sprout from seeds - they have no sensory experience on which to "hang" those concepts. CM thought that a child's foundation of first-hand experience should naturally lead to scientific methods of thinking, accurate observation, careful comparison of results, and the formulation of general principles. It should introduce children to a world of absorbing interests that will enlist their sympathy or arouse their enthusiasm, a world of mystery that fascinates with promise of discovery and fuller knowledge, a world of wonder and beauty that we cannot explain, but in which we walk reverently with uncovered head." (quoted from Ambleside Online FAQ)
“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature diary is a source of delight to a child. Every day's walk gives him something to enter...” (Charlotte Mason)
"In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mothers first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air." (Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series)
“Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life.” (Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series)
"The miserable thing about the childish recollections of most persons is that they are blurred, distorted... and the reason is not that the old scenes are forgotten but that they were never fully seen." (Charlotte Mason)
“To know a plant by its gesture and habitat, its time and its flowering and fruiting; a bird by its flight and song and its time of coming and going; to know when, year after year, you may come upon a redstart and the pied fly-catcher means a good deal of interested observation and at any rate, the material for science. The children keep a dated record of what they see in their nature notebooks, which are left to their own management and are not corrected.” (Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series)
When in the open at a botanical garden, field or some other such place, this is Charlotte Mason’s advice: The children must be happy all the time so as not to miss the freedom of being in the open. They must be uninterrupted for as much time possible to "take in what they can of the beauty of the earth and heavens...wherein to wonder and grow."
The mother is to impart, during these nature study observations, kernels of knowledge or as Charlotte so eloquently puts it: "to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers."
"I venture to suggest what not is practicable in any household, but what's seems to me absolutely best for children...a journey of twenty minutes and a luncheon in a basket will make a day in the country possible to most town dwellers: and if one day why not many and even every suitable day?" (Charlotte Mason)
“Let [children] once get touch (sic) with nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through his life.” (Charlotte Mason; Home Education, pg. 61)
“We must assist the child to educate himself on Nature’s lines, and we must take care not to supplant and crowd out Nature and her methods with that which we call education. Object-lessons should be incidental; and this is where the family enjoys a great advantage over the school. The child who finds that wonderful and beautiful object, a “paper” wasp’s nest…has his lesson on the spot from father or mother.” (Charlotte Mason; Parents and Children, pg. 182)
“… It is unnecessary in the family to give an exhaustive examination to every object…” (Charlotte Mason; Parents and Children, pg. 183)
“The unobservant person states that an object is light, and considers that he has stated an ultimate fact. The observant person makes the same statement, but has in his mind a relative scale, and his judgment is of more value be- cause he compares, silently, with a series of substances to which this is relatively light.” (Charlotte Mason; Parents and Children, pg. 183)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Kind Of Board Game Are You ?

You are an incredibly creative and resourceful person.
You're able to dig deep and think outside the box to get things done.
You are a non linear thinker.
You don't like following directions.
You draw your inspiration from the strangest places sometimes.
You're constantly inspired.
So, what kind of board game are YOU ?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Forgotten 500

This book is a MUST READ, whether for sheer entertainment, curiousity, or even included in a study of World War 2.
Young and old alike will be held breathless as they too anxiously await the rescue of 500 downed airmen who are hidden in the mountains of Yugoslavia amoung peasant villages, while the occupying Germans are coming closer and closer. Through these stories the reader will experience the constant hunger of the airmen, the devastation, the happiness, the sorrow, and the immense fear. Your legs and feet will ache as you read of their seemingly pointless marches, from village to village .... and you will likely shed tears as the nearly-impossible rescue begins.
You will be breathless, unable to wait to see what happens next !
This book is a compilation of the personal stories of a few of those downed airmen ...stories which have remained unheard by much of the world for far too long.
Charlotte Mason long ago said that history is best learned not with textbooks but rather through the personal stories of those who "lived" the story. She called books like this one, "Living Books".
Enjoy !

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Birthday

Above: (I have not been able to get blogger to upload my photos in the proper sequence this morning. Sorry.) Cherub 5 with her best friend, Priscilla, skiing at Gatlinburg last January. Priscilla is now away at college, and a day never passes without Cherub 5 praying for Pris. And we are so blessed that this young lady has been such a wonderful friend to our Cherub 5.

Saturday was Cherub 5's 9th birthday !!
It hardly seems possible that she is 9yo already !!
For her birthday, she asked to get her ears pierced. She chose purple stones, of course !

The purple streaks in her hair are left over from soccer season (the temporary color was not as "temporary" as we had hoped.) She insists that these purple streaks make her run faster, and we assume she is right because it is rare when another player can catch her as she takes the ball down the field to score. Here (below) is a photo of Cherub 5 (in her lucky pink skort), doing what she loves most .... playing soccer. She is quite the frontline player, scoring many goals in almost every game.

Here is Cherub 5 (yellow shirt) in 2006, wading in Lake Oconee in Georgia, while visiting Dumma & GranMickey at their lake house. Second only to soccer, swimming is Cherub 5's favorite thing to do. She wants to live in a warm climate someday, where she can swim year round. Cherub 5 has been swimming well since before she was 2yo, and hopes to swim on the local swim team next year. But then in this warm climate, she will also have to travel to cooler places so that she can enjoy her third favorite thing to do --- skiing !! She loves to ski, and zips down the slopes with ease, and is often heard shrieking with joy as she goes by.

Above: Cherub 5's Christmas 2007 photo. See how the dress has glitter all over it ? All things glittery and shimmery are WONDERFUL to Cherub 5. Glitter, sequins, flash and dazzle -- that's our Cherub 5 !!
Below: Here is Cherub 5 with her big sister, Cherub 2, in their 2006 Christmas photo.

I remember being pregnant with Cherub 5, and it was during those long monthes that Cherub 2 prayed every single day that God would bless her with a sister. Cherub 2 wanted to name her baby sister Flower, and had a lot of grand plans for their future together.
Well, God did give Cherub 2 that baby sister that she prayed for. It is funny though -- Cherub 2 has always been so gentle and loving and lady-like .... and Cherub 5 has been a spitfire since the day she was born, always bold and living life to the fullest, as fast as she can. They are polar opposites, and yet are extrememly devoted to one another in this household of mostly boys.
These days, Cherub 5 is becoming a bit gentler, a bit more compassionate, and a tiny bit more refined. But she is still a spitfire, and is by far the boldest member of our family. Everything she touches and everything she does is filled to the brim with the spirit of this little POWERHOUSE in blond curls that looks, truly, like a Cherub.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Prayer From History

Disturb us Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us Lord, when
With the abundance of things we posses
We have lost our thirst for the water of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery
Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope and love.
Sir Francis Drake, 1577

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Honoring Those Who Serve Our Great Nation

We are a very patriotic family, full of Veterans. And today, we salute all of those who came before us, and those who will serve in the future.
MomToCherubs - U.S. Navy, Hospital Corps.
DadToCherubs - U.S. Navy, Hospital Corps & National Guard, Medic.
Sister of MomToCherubs - U.S. Navy, Hospital Corps.
Brother of DadToCherubs - U.S. Marine Corps - Desert Shield & Desert Storm.
Father of DadToCherubs - U.S. Marine Corps; Korean Conflict.
Stepfather of MomToCherubs - U.S. Navy.
Father of MomToCherubs - U.S. Coast Guard.
Maternal Grandfather of MomToCherubs - U.S. Army.
Grandfather of MomToCherubs - U.S. Army; World War 2: Battle of the Bulge.
May God Bless America, and may God bless our troops who have fought and continue to fight in the name of Freedom.
For those who are currently serving this great nation, we say THANK YOU !!
We are honored to have our great-grandparents (my grandparents) here from PA, visiting with us in TN this week. On Tuesday we attended a lovely Memorial Service and luncheon at the VFW for Veteran's Day. My grandfather (WW2 vet) shed many tears yesterday, remembering those harrowing days as he fought and was injured during the Battle of the Bulge. He also talked a lot about those who made the ultimate sacrifice and did not make it home again. It is an honor to hear his stories; his personal journey through those dark days.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations & Prayers

Beck's Bounty would like to congratulate
President-Elect Barak Obama on
this Historic achievement.
He was elected last evening and will serve as
the 44th President of the United States of America.
We are patriots, and as such
we will now rally behind our new
President and his administration.
We will continue to pray for this season
in our nation's history.
And we would like to thank Senator John McCain
and Governor Sarah Palin
for their genuine love of this great nation
and for their public-displays of faith in
Our Almighty Father.
We continue to share their
inspiring vision for the United States,
and will pray that their vision is someday realized.
We admire their "good fight" throughout the campaign.
We will pray for their bright futures as they
continue to be treasured servants of this
One Nation, Under God
With liberty, and justice
for all.
May God Almighty Bless America !

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Studying Current Events

We try to spend some time each week studying Current Events in our county, state, nation, and in the world. However, our study of Current Events has been dominated by the Presidential Election so far this year.

There have been many TEACHABLE MOMENTS, indeed !!
And this morning, our family voted with sample ballots.

Why ?

To finish our study of An American Election, of course. This Election had provided an amazing educational opportunity -- the stark contrasts between the candidates, all of the press coverage, and of course the ability to 'fact-check" and scan the extraordinary amount of information available online.

It all started long long ago ... before the Primary Races.
We made a list of all of the candidates (and all of their respective parties), and then assembled lists of "the issues" and where each candidate "stood".
After the Primary Elections, we made a new list of "the issues" for each of the main candiates (Republican and Democrat only, just for simplicity).
One for John McCain / Sarah Palin and the other for Barak Obama / Joe Biden.
We watched all of the debates, with our lists in hand. We watched the candidates speaking from all over the country whenever we could. We scrutinized press releases and scoured the candidates websites. And we read through the party Platforms for both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
And slowly, our WHERE (candidate's name) STANDS ON THE ISSUES lists filled in with lots of information.

We focused on the main issues, and tried to avoid the smearing and grandstanding. (Needless to say, it was difficult to do !)
DadToCherubs and I did our very best to be unbiased in discussing politics with the children. (this was NOT as easy as I had thought it would be !) We did not want the children to feel pressured to stand "there" because their parents stand "there". We wanted the children to use their own hearts and minds to decide which team they felt was the BEST choice for our nation ... to feel free to use their voice when casting their vote.
DadToCherubs and I went to vote when the Early Voting began in our state. At the Courthouse, I obtained a Voter Registration Form and a Sample Ballot, along with a few other brochures about Elections and Voting. (Tax dollars spent well .... all in the name of education, right ?!?!)
I made voided copies of the Voter Registration forms, and of the sample Ballots.
Several weeks ago, each of the children "registered" to vote by filling out the proper form -- filling out forms seems so simple, but it is a valuable skill that we do not get to practice very often as homeschoolers.
While we filled out these forms, we discussed voter registration -- where and how a person can register to vote, who can vote, who cannot vote, voter fraud, why it is important to vote, and more.
We continued filling out our Issues Lists .... waiting until the last minute to gather all of the best information in order to be sure we (as individuals) are voting for THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE JOB.
And this morning, at 8am sharp, every member of our family was able to cast their vote (using a copy of the sample ballot) ....
To conclude our study, just before dinner this evening, DadToCherubs play the role of Election Commissioner. He will count every vote, and will declare the winner (for our household).
Then, during dinner, each child will be presenting the REASON they cast their particular vote -- citing the one issue that meant the MOST to them as a "voter" and where each candidate "stood" on that issue. And finally they will speak about why they chose the candidate they voted for.
After dinner, we are going to sit down together and watch as some of the polls close and votes begin to be counted.
And we will pray .... that God will bless our great nation with THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE JOB.

* * * * * * * *
UPDATE 7:45pm -- Our family votes were counted. We had 7 votes for McCain/Palin and 1 vote for Obama/Biden. And now we are going to PRAY, and then we are going to settle in to watch the race (while trying not to chew our nails).

Monday, November 03, 2008

On Election Day

Your vote is your voice !
Speak up ... cast your vote.
To follow the Election Results, check Fox News'
Lord God of all creation,
You rule and judge all nations,
You scatter the arrogant of mind and heart,
You cast down rulers from their thrones and raise up the lowly.
Today we elect those who will serve in our government:
the voices that call us to go this way or that way are confusing,
the signs of these times that we must discern are tragic and unjust,
the culture of death that afflicts all people is powerful.
Open our eyes to see your Reign in history,
our hearts to share your love with all people,
our ears to hear the cry of the widow, the orphan, and the stranger among us.
Send your Holy Spirit upon the people of this land:
Teach us to make wise and prudent decisions.
Increase our faith and hope.
Help us to live the Gospel we profess.
May all who are elected this day:
do justice,
love goodness,
and walk humbly before You and all people.
We ask for these blessings,
confident in your providence through all time.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Clocks And Smoke Detectors

Tonight's the night .... to change the clocks .... Fall BACK .... so don't forget to turn your clocks back one hour tonight when you head to bed. (And be sure to enjoy that extra hour of sleep too !)

It is also HIGHLY recommended that you replace the batteries in all of your Smoke Detectors tonight too , whether they need it or not. You are supposed to do this with Daylight Savings Time changes, so that you do not forget. You will sleep even better tonight knowing that your Smoke Detectors are "ready" should they be needed !

The Baby ...

Cherub 6 (who will be 6yo in December) informed me just a few days ago that he has his FIRST loose tooth.
Did I mention that he is the baby of the family ??
The conversation went like this ...
Mommy, very sincerely:
You do know that when you lose your first tooth, Mommy will cry, right ?
Cherub 6, after pondering a bit:
Why are you gonna cry ? The big kids said it doesn't hurt.
Mommy said:
Because you JUST finished getting all of your baby teeth.
Very puzzled, Cherub 6 replied most ernestly:
Oh no. I've had these teeth for a long time now.