Sunday, August 31, 2008

On September 1st

Tomorrow is September 1st -- and it will be our first day of (home) school here at Beck's Bounty.

In previous years we started in early August, but with DadToCherubs and I having grown up in NewEngland where school used to start on the first Monday following Labor Day, August just felt "wrong' (to us). So this year we decided to begin on September 1st, not realizing it was Labor Day. The children were thrilled with a few more weeks of "summer". Then we realized that September 1st was Labor Day .... and after a discussion, we all agreed to stick with our September 1st plan, despite the "holiday", so that we can have some "breaks"this winter for extended holidays, traveling, skiing, and some great field trips out-of-town PLUS still finish up in the early spring. (This is yet another beautiful part of homeschooling - making your own schedule !)
Tonight, I cannot help feeling VERY blessed. To be able to be at home with my children, to be able to see them grow and learn, to be able to be for my family what God called me to be, to have these wonderful supplies at our disposal, to be married to a loving and supportive "homeschool Dad" .... and to be able to watch them "take off" .... it reminds me of a butterfly taking flight from the hands of a child. Ahhhh - the wonder of it all !! Seeing the "light bulb moments" --- reading the first word ever, understanding a math lesson, making a connection with history or a scientific discovery. It is impossible for me to truly describe these things with mere words .... so the butterfly has become a symbol in my heart and mind.

Our books arrived some time ago, and have been on the shelves almost calling our names .... READ ME .... READ ME ... READ ME. (HA !) Tomorrow, at long last, we will finally begin to "dive in". Even our reluctant reader has been eyeing the titles on the shelves .... (definately a good "sign")
Tomorrow we will begin Reading "those" books. They will not taunt and tempt us anymore. (HA !) Reading is a love we share as a family ... we share a genuine love of good books ... good "living" books (as Charlotte Mason called them). So, the BOOKS are a "treat", so we do not see the world's "sad sullen faces" at the mention of school. We see smiles -- school means the children get to dive into those things we planned together so long ago. When we mention school at our house, we see the smiles of Adventurers !!

We are beginning some new things this year -- we will be using Year 1 of Tapestry of Grace (Ancient History) --- a new math program for everyone (Math U See) -- new science programs (Biology for Cherub 1, General Science for Cherub 2 and Cherub 3) -- we have a really neat Nature Program planned this year (Kamana Naturalist Studies) --- and so much more. (Can you tell we are all excited ?!?!)

Cherub 6 will begin his first "offical" school year tomorrow in Kindergarten (it almost makes me want to cry. My babyyyy is growing up ! ) .... and Cherub 1 will begin his first High School year ....

Please pray for us as we begin this adventure .... living and learning together for the 2008-2009 school year here at Beck's Bounty.

A New Tool

DadToCherubs surprised me with a new laptop !! And it is just in time for our new school year too.

And he has prepared my old laptop for use by the children for school this year. YAHOO !! This will allow 2 children to use the computer at the same time. They use the computer for Math DVDs, Science CD-Roms, for MS Word (writing skills), and for "very filtered" research. Having 2 computers available will save us all some time, and will eliminate some of the frustration for the bigger kids.

My new laptop has Microsoft Vista on it - WOW !! There is going to be some "adjustment" after years of using XP. So far it is working out just fine, and I "might" even like it better ?!?! It seems to make more sense to be in the way that it is set up. One of the best features on the new laptop is that it has a much bigger screen ... easy on my tired eyes, and also much better for showing the children things online (maps, photos, etc) for history and science studies. And it has a much much bigger hard drive, so I should not run out of room for quite some time. (Apparently I was close to "maximum" on my other laptop.)

DadToCherubs !!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Guess Who's Ten ?

HINT 1: The little "round faced" guy in the red shirt on the right (photo 1 from 2000) ....
HINT 2: The little "wavy-haired" guy in the Old Navy shirt on the left (photo 2 from 2000) ...

HINT 3: The boy who has always loved to build ... and destroy (photo above from 2006) ...
HINT 4: The 3rd child from the left, in the gray shirt, waiting NOT-SO-PATIENTLY to ski at Cataloochee in 2007 .....
HINT 5: And here he is tonight, on his 10th birthday, all smiles, anxiously waiting to dig into the chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate icecream he asked for ....
ANSWER: Today's birthday boy is Cherub 4 of course !! He turned 10yo today. He was our first child born in Tennessee, which gives him the honor of being the first "official" Southern Beck. And he is the Chief of Beck's Destruction Company, because he is forever taking something apart (that usually cannot be repaired). And, believe it or not, he is also one of our MOST sensative children ... he always has love from that deep deep heart to give.


What's Been Goin' On ??

If you can believe it, THAT time is here again --- Soccer Season. Cherub 5 is playing U-10. And the most shocking parts of all -- first, we have only 1 child playing this season -- and second, neither MomToCherubs nor DadToCherubs are coaching ANY teams this season. WOOOO HOOOO !!

Today was Cherub 5's first practice. Her coach is a great guy that we have coached "against" for the last 4+ seasons. He teaches the girls that soccer is fun, focuses a lot of attention on skills, and has fantastic sportsmanship.

So, today, for the first time, I sat on the sidelines in my chair and "watched" Cherub 5 at practice. It is quite a change from coaching ! I must say that I am very much looking forward to watching her PLAY the games (which start in 2 weeks) .... after coaching her for 6 (or was it 7 ?) seasons and having her score multiple goals in every single game, I have never actually SEEN her score a single goal because I was busy coaching the whole team. I am looking forward to focusing my attention on MY child this season.

We drained the pool last weekend (in preparation for starting school September 1st, and soccer starting, and other "activities" that we do in the fall), and just as soon as it dries (thanks to Fay, not yet) out we will put it away for next year. The children had a grand time playing in the water as it drained.
Remnant clouds of Tropical Storm Fay rolling in .... before we got all of the wonderful rain. And it is "haying" time on the farm so there are tractors, tractors, tractors everywhere.
During Fay's "visit", Bella took many liberties -- sleeping most of the time in the school room. Or so SHE said, she was guarding the school books so that none were misplaced. (Rather tough to "guard" with your eyes closed and while snoring though, isn't it ?!?! HA !)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Welcome To Tennessee, Fay !

Tropical Storm Fay has been "visiting" Florida (and we are praying for all of those with damages and flooding) ....
And most of Tennessee has not had any rain in over 6 weeks.

Rumor has it that Fay "should" be stopping by for a day or so, beginning this evening .... possibly bringing us 2-4" of rain with her as a gift ... along with cooler temps. (the high today is supposed to be only 80)

So, on behalf of my parched garden and my very-dry flowers, I wanted to say ...



DadToCherubs went to Bristol this past weekend for the Nascar races. He left Friday morning, and came home on Sunday afternoon.
And because he is such a great Dad / Husband ... the children and I conspired to surprise him.

This (below) has been his office since we moved into this house in March 2007. (Actually this photo was taken after I had started priming the room -- I forgot to take an actual "before" photo). What is tough to see here are the fluffy clouds on the dingy baby blue upper walls, and the dingy white wainscotting. Oh, and the Ballerina cows on the walls --- it was not exactly a "manly" space. He works from home, so he spends A LOT of time in his office. Yet he never complained about it at all.

Approximately 5 minutes after DadToCherubs left for Bristol, the children and I headed to the paint store.

We patched holes, removed the glow-in-the-dark stars from the ceiling (from previous tenants ?) and then primed the room twice (all oil paint on the woodwork, and years of "wear & tear" on the walls).

Next we painted the trim, doors, and wainscotting a nice light tan to match the woodwork and wainscotting in the rest of the house. It took 2 coats.

And then we coated the walls twice in a deep blue gray paint, in a flat finish ... we chose these in hopes of giving DadToCherub's eyes a break when he is working in there every night (he works with the computer, on the nightshift).

Here (above) is the room ALMOST finished ....

And finally, we reassembled his room, cleaned his office furniture, hung the curtains, and then put some of his awards and personal things on the walls like his Bristol poster from last year's race and all of his Nascar ticket stubs.
So, we hid when DadToCherubs arrived home ... and since the house was quiet, he went to his office to put his suitcase away and to check his email ... and from my hiding spot I heard "WOW !! THIS IS INCREDIBLE."

So, in the tradition of those commercials ...

$26 in primer

$70 in paint

Surprising a wonderful man with a freshly painted "man's" office


Every time he goes in there, I see him just looking around .... he is so pleased and keeps saying THANK YOU, THANK YOU over and over again.

Awww ... how cute ?!?!

Baby Marmie
(short for Marmalade)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

From The National Aquarium In Baltimore, MD

Baltimore, MD is home to Michael & Katie -- the phenominal swimmers who brought home the Gold from the Olympics in Bejing. And being from Maryland, well, I just had to pass this along.


<< Hi all –

Our video production team worked with the dolphin trainers on a very cute congratulatory video to Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff.

Check it out over the weekend and pass it along!


Jen Bloomer
Media Relations Manager
The National Aquarium in Baltimore
501 East Pratt Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
O: 410-576-3860
C: 410-591-4035

Media: Sign up at to receive a periodic e-mail digest of the quirky stories, photo opportunities, animal activities, events, promotions and conservation projects in our weird aquatic world. >>

Special Prayer Request

Please pray for our dear young friend, Pris,
this weekend and in the coming weeks.
On Friday she left for college.
She will be away from home for the first time, and
will be exploring all that her new college has to offer.

We love you Pris !!

(January 2008 photo of Cherub 5 with her very favorite friend, Pris)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And the Winner is ....

There was a battle just a bit before 11am today .... Bee Versus Face .....

(above: a photo of Cherub 4 taken just a few days ago -- on a normal day)

Cherub 4 got stung on the lip .... and had lots of Benedryl and ice at home because the swelling began almost instantly ... a trip to the ER, where upon arrival his eyes were swollen shut and the bridge of his nose could not be seen at all) .... several injections and monitoring in the ER ....

These last two (above) photos were taken 3 hours AFTER he got stung .... and almost 2 hours after the ER injections ....

So, I think it is safe to declare the victor in this battle ....

The Bee won !!

Oh, and in the future we will be carrying Benedryl everywhere along with a BeeSting kit. He is definately allergeic !

** A special Thank You to those we called to request Urgent Prayer for Cherub 4 !! God is so good !!

UPDATE Sat 8/23 Cherub 4's face is almost normal again. He is still taking the Prednisone and the Benedryl 2x daily, and his face only has 25% of the swelling remaining. He is thrilled to finally be allowed outside to play again ... and is steering clear of any and all bees. THANK YOU FOR PRAYING FOR HIM !

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Planning At Beck's Bounty

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am a LIST person ... I LIKE to write lots of things down, I NEED to research (a lot), and that I take great joy in checking things off my lists. And they also know that I tend to be overly organized in some areas of my life (which is merely a result of years of over-compensating on my part, honestly), and am also nearly consumed by total chaos (my true "natural" state) in other (most) areas of my life.

That being said, as a homeschool Mom and a mother of 6 very-busy Cherubs, planning for "school" is my nemesis. I HATE LESSON PLANNING. Well, I like the "idea" part a whole lot, and I love the lists and the buying part (books only - I hate to "shop" for most everything else), but the reality of putting it all into an organized user-friendly "item by item" format, well .... the "formatting" nearly kills me every year. (This being the direct result of my "Natural" state, mentioned above. HA !)

My planning always begins with handwritten notes gathered in piles (this year I kept them scribbled in a steno-style notebook in an effort to be "more" organized - and it worked very well for me). I keep making these lists throughout the school year, planning "as we go" for the next year. My lists and notes are about resources, project ideas, curriculums I want to check out, recommended titles, websites of interest, interesting topics, rabbit-trail ideas, academic needs, and lots of other things.

Then in the spring, when we have finished our school year, those lists are organized and compiled into a Word document (above screenshot). I do this in order to be Organized (which also gives the appearance of being Hyper organized, which is NOT a true picture - HA !). Then, as I weed through the notes and lists to consolidate the information, I can figure out exactly WHAT we need, WHEN we need to do it, and HOW we are going to accomplish it. (and leftover notes are kept as "ideas" for more consideration, or things for next year, etc)

In late June, the Book Shopping begins, at the Conferences and (mostly) online.

Next, the books and resources arrive and are put away on the shelves (My bookshelves are very organized thanks to a lovely friend. Thank you MamaLion !).

And now ... the REAL planning begins !

I begin entering our resources and plans into the Simply Charlotte Mason Organizer.

**There is a great free demo on the site in case you want to check it out too ! **

If you have read my blog for a while now, you will know that we first used this Organizer last year, and that in our family's opinion it is the best $99 we have EVER spent on Homeschooling !! (This $99 is the once-annual fee . There is a monthly fee that you can opt for too - check the link above for details. BTW - there is also a free 30 day trial.) It has saved us (yes, all of us) soooooo much time and energy and has spared all of us (not just me) a whole lot of frustration as well as stress !! It keeps our "plan" organized day to day, week to week, month to month, all year long. It keeps a great record of what we have accomplished, and what we have yet-to-do. According to the children (and Mom & Dad agree), the best part is that it provides a very specific daily TO DO list for each of the children. Every morning of our school year just before breakfast, I print out everyone's Daily Assignments. BTW - you do not HAVE to print - you can just use it "a la computer" if you prefer. We just prefer printing because we have a whole housefull of "box checkers". HA ! Then the children work through the list throughout the day (even Dad does school if I have to be away from home, because there is a specific list !). With their lists in hand, each child knows exactly what the assignments are for each subject, along with any other to-do's on their list (notebook pages, narrations, read alouds, etc).

** SideNote: Because this planner is web-based, I can access our plans from any internet-connected computer. After losing our paper and harddrive records in a housefire in March 2007, this is a BIG plus (no more lost records !). Also this is a great help on trips to the library when I find a great book or when I hear of a museum exhibit. I can quickly check our plans to see when it would be approriate to use / visit (or if it is a duplicate of something we already have planned) -- I have done this many times with our history studies in particular. We can also access our plans when we travel, when we take "school on the road" (only we do not "print" them on the road - we just use them online).

Back to HOW DO I PLAN -
I sign into the SCM Organizer, and go to the BOOK FINDER to search the files for each of the resources I want to use, or I enter my own resource (usually the Title, Author, Chapter Titles or Lesson names - -BTW, the more detailed the entry, the better the Daily To-Do lists work out) ...

Then, when I have found the Resource, or have entered the Resource, I click SAVE AND SCHEDULE. Next, I select which child / children this resource is to be used for. And for each child, I choose a Subject Heading (history, math, science, etc), and a date to begin using this resource (first day of school, January 1st, to be used "with" another resource, or even "following" directly after another resource), and which day or days of the week we wish to use this resource. On this screen I also choose what I want the child to do with that resource (read independently, read and narrate, read together, picture study, complete, etc). There is also an optional NotePad for each day and also an optional NotePad for each subject, where you can add notes for that particular day or for that particular assignment.

(above) This is a screenshot of part of our FAMILY listing -- FAMILY means that these are things we all do together, such as Nature Study, Art Appreciation, Music Study, Shakespeare, and other subjects. Each child has a Name Specific listing too for their individual plans.

When all of the resources are entered for each child (or the family), I check them off (one at a time, BoxChecker-style) on my WORD list (the very first screenshot of this entry), and slowly I make my way down the list until everything is "planned" and "entered".

At this point, I go through the Resources for each child, one by one, and try to determine whether or not I have overloaded a certain child on a certain day in a certain subject area --- I try to spread subjects and assignments evenly throughout the week. I edit the days and order of resources in the SCHEDULER portion of the Organizer to make it fit our family and to make it work well for each of the children. (BTW - when I used written plans and Excel spreadsheets for planning, I had a major tendency to overload days without realizing it, so this part of the organizer works out SUPER for me !)
This (above) is a screenshot of our FAMILY listing (partial) ... Memory Work (a daily occurance), Kamana One (book to be used on Fridays, chapter by chapter).

Now --- at the end of all of this writing and "entering", my WHOLE YEAR is planned. TA DA !!

* Of course I CAN plan a bit at a time, a week at a time, a month at a time, or even a quarter at a time. The SCM Organizer allows also. Personally, however, I prefer to have the planning finished before we begin our year (and the plans can still be tinkered with at any time, if need be). I used to plan for weeks and weeks in the summer, and then would fine-tune plans on Sunday evenings, writing or typing out item-by-item lists. Now I plan for approximately a few days in the spring (assembling lists and orders), 1 week in the summer (entering all the information and plans). My Sunday evenings are FREE to be with my family. YAHOO !! This "planning time" was a major improvement for me, for my husband, and for our family. I also really like that there is a clear "big picture", so I can focus on the learning NOW rather than what we might do next, and also we make great progress because no one is waiting for Mom to figure out what comes next. My husband likes the clear daily list (so clear and simple that he can do school well without me if necessary), the "record keeping" feature that shows all Finished work for the week / month / year per child, and he also likes the "big picture" all mapped out for the year. All of these are the result of our using the SCM Organizer.

How does this planning "LOOK" as part of our school ?

When we start school (September 1st this year) I will print out everyone's assignment sheets for Monday, September 1st, before breakfast. In the morning immediately following breakfast, we will do our Monday "Family" work (together - Prayer, Bible, Memory Work, Artist Study, ...), and then afterwards everyone will work their way down their own list (for independent and non-independent subjects). I will float from child to child, big kids to little kids, working on "teaching" or helping with questions or problems. This gives everyone the opportunity to work on their school work, and also to have the teacher-time they need if and when they need it. This also allows me to plan timeslots to work with each child, teaching math lessons or working with beginner readers or working on science labs / experiments without having another child "waiting" for me or "waiting" for their next assignment. (This is time I lost a lot of in previous years, before we started using this planner.)

Then, at the end of the day I will meet with each child (they let me know when they are completely finished. A diligent child is finished much sooner than one who dilly-dallies. And in our family, this lesson was / is best learned by the child's own experience. Free time and priviledges in the afternoons and evenings hinge on Diligence.). During this Daily Meeting, the child and I (or occasionally it's Dad instead) will go over assignments on the list (together) for Math, Grammar, and other such subjects to "check" them. I then re-teach as needed (usually math), and the child will make the necessary corrections immediately. Any oral narrations are done at this time as well. Together, we review / correct / discuss every assignment. The children LOVE this 1:1 time, and look forward to the feedback (Everyone loves Affirmation and Praise for a job well done !). In addition to Diligence, this part of our day also encourages Accountability and Responsibility (Habit Training a la Charlotte Mason herself). When we have reviewed each assignment, (another great SCM Organizer feature) I sign into the Organizer (with the child next to me, and their "checked" list in hand), and click on that specific child's Daily Assignments. I "check" one of two boxes for each of that day's assignments -- WORKED ON or FINISHED. "Worked On" means that the child worked on this assignment, but is not finished with it yet -- so that same assignment will show up exactly the same on the next appropriate day's list. "Finished" means that the child completed the assignment -- so on the next appropriate day the next assignment for that resource (or the next resource if the entire resource is finished) will be on the list.


Today's list says Lesson 5 (math) ... if we check WORKED ON, then Lesson 5 will be on tomorrow's to-do list (math is a daily subject) ... but if we check FINISHED, then Lesson 6 will appear on tomorrow's list. This works well with subjects like Math and Science with specific lessons, but also works well with books (Chapter 1, Chapter 2) and for curriculum lists (Week 1 History Readings, Week 2 History Readings, etc).

Another example is Literature, which is done daily. The child is currently reading through the Anne of Green Gables series --- Book 1 is ANNE OF GREEN GABLES and has 38 chapters, and so the BOOK, and the CHAPTER will show up on Today's assignment sheet for this child. They read the assigned chapter (#5), so we click FINISHED. Tomorrow Chapter #6 will show up on the assignment sheet. And when the child has read all of the chapters, when we click FINISHED for Chapter 38 ... the following day Book 2 ANNE OF AVONLEA will show up with Chapter 1 assigned ---- this is assuming all of the chapters and such are listed for each book, and that I have scheduled Book 2 to follow Book 1. (BTW - there are A LOT of books and resources already listed in the Book Finder so it is best to search for them first -- this prevents you from having to enter in 38 chapters of a book that is already listed.)

And the last example is to be used with "curriculum" that is spelled out day-by-day or week-by-week. (THESE ENTRIES ARE MADE USING COPYRIGHTED INFORMATION SO ARE NOT MADE "PUBLIC" by SCM - YOU WILL HAVE TO ENTER THESE REOURCES YOURSELF. You can obviously use PUBLIC resources found in the BookFinder. You can also view and use resources that you enter that are not "Public" due to copyright restrictions. Information is stored in a web database. SCM periodically reviews all "new" resources that are added, and makes those public that are appropriate and legal for Public use. This protects the copyrights of curriculum-specific plans and their creators.) So --- say your curriculum includes History and Literature. You can enter DAY 1 assignments, to be followed by DAY 2, and so on. Or you can enter WEEK 1 assignments, followed by WEEK 2. Since these "resources" are solely for your family's use and are only used by your family, you can specify these plans to suit YOUR needs. So Week 1 assignments show up on Monday, and you click FINISHED at the end of Monday. Next Monday, Week 2 assignments will show up. (Hopefully that makes sense. You do have to be a bit creative when using the SCM Organizer for these types of resources.)

Oh - I almost forgot to share another fantastic feature !! (It seems I am sharing my experiences with the SCM Organizer AND how I plan our homeschool year - although for us they are a "pair"). If we have a sick day, a family emergency, or take an unscheduled field trip .... there is no "re-planning" or "moving" "rolling forward" or "shuffling" of assignments !! Let's say we miss a Friday because we have the flu (which happens in our house many times per winter). Well, THIS Friday's "to do" list (math, history, science, Chapter 5 of the current literature book, etc) will appear NEXT Friday because it is the "next" thing to do. All Fridays lessons after that will slide forward because the program is not "date" driven. YIPPEEEE !! After years of re-working lesson plans because we were sick, fell behind, raced down a rabbit trail, or went on an unexpected trip, this is FABULOUS ! And after more than a few episodes of "double up" work to get caught up with the plans (so as NOT to re-work them -- sometimes I am a mean mother, huh ?), the children are pleased with this feature too. This also allows "missed" lessons to slide forward --- suppose you are doing only Math, Spelling, and Grammar today because of a doctors appointment. You will check "worked on" or "finished" for those subjects, and those subjects left untouched / unchecked will "slide forward" to the next assigned day for that subject. VOILA ! (I am quite sure that I have fewer headaches just from this feature alone. HA !)

Again, back to HOW DO I PLAN -

Essentially our Homeschool Lesson Plans are completed for the WHOLE YEAR. However, during our break at Christmas Time, I will tinker with the plans a bit based on our actual "experience" and "progress" --- adding resources, subtracting resources, changing assigned days, or altering things according to each child's progress. (This takes 30 minutes at the most, to tinker with everyone's plans.)

After all of the planning and box checking is finished, I give my printer a MAJOR workout. I print lists of Memory Work, Poems, Math Facts, Art Appreciation prints, notebooking pages, blank maps, and more. And these go into the Hanging File Drawer of my desk (which is in the school room) or into specific notebooks. I do this because it is easier to look in a file for something needed (a map to follow a geography reading or lesson), rather than to hunt for it (online, in books, and sometimes not being about to find it - ARG !) and use it or print it. For our family, this hunting many times means we do not DO whatever it is at all, getting lost or frustrated along the "rabbit trail". Memory Work, Songs, Poems go into a MEMORY WORK folder with "prongs", ready to be used every morning from Day 1 to the end of school, with pages for each week / month / season. After years of trying to find "new" Memory Work, and forgetting to find it until it was too late, this has been a BIG help.

The last part of our Planning for our school year -- the children's notebooks and our school supplies get set up, the school bookshelves are checked to be sure everything is where it belongs -- and with the notebooks we set up the dividers, add paper, sharpen the pencils .... (you know the drill).

TODAY: I am running a bit behind this year because our garden has kept us VERY busy (and I have been procrastinating a bit too). At this point, I have JUST finished entering all of our resources and every child's plans into the SCM Organizer. And our supplies are almost ready (history notebooks left to be set up). I have to finish assembling our Memory Work for the second half of the year and do a bit more printing (maps, lists, and more). These last tasks should all be finished by Monday.

Then ... we will finish harvesting in the garden (and will plant our fall garden) ... take some trips to the lake ... do some swimming ... visit some friends ... and enjoy the last bit of summer ... until September 1st, which is our first day of school for the 2008-2009 year.

P.S. After reading through this post, I felt it VERY necessary to say ... I promise that I am NOT an employee of Simply Charlotte Mason, and I promise that I do not receive any benefits of any kind for the promotion of the SCM Organizer or any of SCM's products. I am, very simply, a VERY satisfied customer, and a MUCH better homeschool Mom, as a result of using Simply Charlotte Mason's Organizer. I PROMISE !! And so, for the Charlotte Mason BLOG CARNIVAL PLANNING BASH I just had to share MY methods of planning ... organizer and all.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Parental Rights

Please take the time to check out this website.
It is really important that as many people as possible
join this campaign by signing their petition. brings together everyone
who agrees that the vital role of parents in the
lives of children should not be undermined
by government action or policy.
I'm standing with them and you should too!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Invitation To Hear VOICE OF MARTYRS Representative

In 1997, Christians in an area of Pakistan were falsely accused of tearing the pages of the Koran and throwing them into a mosque. Thousands of Muslims were incited to riot against the Christians living in two villages in that area. The villages were burned and the believers were violated and suffered at the hands of the Muslims. Pastor Masih was one of the leading pastors in the area. By God's grace his life was spared. Later God provided an opportunity for him and his family to flee to America.

Pastor Masih has a deep love for the Body of Christ and especially persecuted Christians around the world. He shares of God's continual faithfulness, God's love for all people and the miraculous hand of God during the days of his ministry in Pakistan.

You are invited to hear Pastor Masih on August 18th and 19th at 7:00 PM. He will be speaking at Rogers Creek Baptist Church.

If you need directions or more information, let me know.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Agenda For Next Week

This weekend is being spent brainstorming .... preparing to plan our next school year.
And while brainstorming, I have been making lots of lists -- lists of books, lists of assignments, lists of skills, lists of memory work, lists of songs, lists of projects, lists of papers, lists of poems, lists of potential fieldtrips, and lists of lists of lists.
So I will continue making lists until I have nearly everything "mapped" out for the year for each of our 6 students.
At some point next week (hopefully Mon or Tues) I will head to the library to peek through the shelves, for books that we will need and want through the year (to ensure there is something we can use there for various things).
And after the library, I will go through the books we bought, making notes, dividing up reading assignments, setting up timing for projects and assignments, and more ....
And finally, toward the end of the week, I will sit down with LOTS of coffee and all of my lists, and I will enter all of the information into my favorite organizer (found at ).
** I will post more specifics about our plans and the organizer next weekend.
I will mull it all over through next weekend, and on Monday (Aug 18) I will fine-tune the plans I put into the organizer.
Then, we will be READY for school ... supplies, books, plans ... to start school on September 1st.

Friday, August 08, 2008

We're Almost Ready

It's Back-To-School time across America .... for all sorts of students, including here at Beck's Bounty. We homeschool, of course, but some aspects of Back-To-School are universal, it seems.
In May I assembled a list of what we wanted and needed for our next school year. And I ordered our Math curriculum and our Tapestry of Grace curriculum.

Then I spent most of June and July ordering books ... and more books. Finally, our books have all arrived, and are organized on our school room shelves. (Ordering the books - this is the FUN part of our preparations for a new year.)

And so the Supply List began ....

And the dread loomed .... supplies .... SUPPLIES .... and that means s-h-o-p-p-i-n-g ... and even worse, it means shopping while the stores are usually crowded with other shoppers. UGGG !! (Have I mentioned that I do NOT like to shop, unless it is for books. HA !)
So, last evening, a moment of bravery struck, along with a wish to just get-it-over-with .... so I donned my bravest outfit (HA ! Not really.) and headed out with a list ....

I braved the crowds, who were all searching franticly for specially colored folders and specific sized rulers, and 12 packs of crayons. The isles were filled with parents hunting for very specialized items that were listed on their child's class supply list from their school (convienently located in assorted bins throughout the stores).

I will say that I am sooooo thankful not to have to endure those searches for very specific items. I have "binder" on my list. And I buy one that will serve our needs, so searching for the needle-in-the-haystack is unecessary. The quality and size matter -- not the color or brand.

I will say that I was shocked, again, at the condition of the isles of school supplies -- parents (I cannot say "adults") just rake through the supplies and trample over whatever falls on the floor. What a disaster the rows were !

I overheard parents discussing having to supply their child's classes with cleaning supplies and paper towels, chalk, hand sanitizer, kleenex, bandaids, file folders for recordkeeping .... I do not recall those items ever being on my school supply lists as a child. We needed 2 notebooks, 3 folders, crayons, and pencils, and other REAL school supplies. The "operational" parts of the classrooms and school were on the school's to-do list. Hummmmmmm ....

Since we school at home, the operational parts of school are part of our home .... shewwwwwww. (wiping my brow, thankful not to have to buy all of that.)

I finally gathered my supplies -- pencils, printer paper, printer cartridges, cardstock paper, binders, pens, crayons, letter tiles, page protectors, sketching pencils, erasers, Prisma colored pencils, glue stix, markers, dividers, and a whole lot of notebook paper. TA DA !!
I waited in line for nearly 30 minutes, while various concerned school-shopping-parents commented that I had forgotten bandaids or paper towels ... and they took turns complaining abotu their school suppy lists, their schools, the teachers, and more. When asked where my children went to school, I explained several times that we homeschool so I did not need those things nor have those issues. A few parents said ... I have thought about doing that ... it HAS to be better than all that public school has going on ... and it HAS to be better that "this" (pointing at their lists and carts of school supplies).

Quietly, I thanked God for the blessing of being able to homeschool ... for those reasons, and for so many more.

Shopping was finished -- HOORAY !! I arrived home late last evening, tired, but thrilled to be finished.

I made a quick trip today to Staples to drop off some work for the Copy center to do today, and to get a few last items that I wanted ....

And now ... I AM FINISHED .... shopping that is.

Now I just have to get our school room in order, and my lesson plans finished for the year, but I still have lots of time for that. (we are starting school September 1st).

For now, I will sit back and smile, knowing that I do not have to SHOP again for a while now. (Did I mention that I hate to shop, except in the bookstore ?!?!)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Old Farmer

A Department of Water representative stopped at a farm and talked with an Old farmer. He told the farmer, 'I need to inspect your farm for your Water allocation.'

The old farmer said, 'OK, but don't go in that field over there.'

The Water representative said, 'Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me.

"See this card? This card means I am allowed to go WHEREVER I WANT on ANY agricultural land.

"No questions asked or answered. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand?'

The old farmer nodded politely and went about his farm chores.

Later, the Old farmer heard loud screams and saw the Water Rep running for the fence and close behind was the farmer's huge-horned prize bull.

The bull was gaining on the Water Rep. with every step. The Rep was clearly terrified, so the old farmer immediately threw down his tools, ran to the fence and shouted out.....

"Your card! Your card! Show him your card!"

Concerning Plastic Bags

Please be sure to check this link .... scroll down to read the whole thing.

We keep saying that we need to purchase shopping bags to minimize our use of these plastic sacks .... well, we WILL be getting those shopping bags this week now for THIS week's grocery shopping.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

To Every Thing There Is A Season

As we plan our fall garden, preserve the bountiful harvest that Our Father provided, gather our firewood for the upcoming winter, and prepare for our new school year .... we are reminded ....

Ecclesiastes 3
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

It's Carnival Time

The Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is so beautiful this time.
Jamie did a great job of pulling it together.
I know you will enjoy reading it.

Check it out here: Life and Love in Rose Cottage

Cindy at On Our Journey Westward will be hosting a special "back to school" themed edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival on August 19th.

For submissions to this special edition, we would love for you to answer any of the following questions:

1. How do you tailor CM to your family? Plans for the year that are a little out of the ordinary are welcome.

2. Reviews of CM sorts of products or links to products you are going to try this year.

3. Organization tips for CM topics like picture study, nature study, narrations, or anything else.

4. How do you pick your books for the year? Is everyone following closely to the Ambleside Online suggestions?

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Charlotte Mason blog carnival using our: carnival submission form

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Nature Study

Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) was such a wise woman to recommend Nature Study for children. She had an eye for Our Father's Creation, and a heart for sharing her appreciation of the world God created. And she passed them both on, through her teachings and through her books, inspiring countless parents and children all over the world even now.

According to Miss Mason, every child has an innate interest in nature, but it is the parents' responsibility to encourage it. Otherwise it will be lost as the child matures into adulthood.

I encouraged this "interest" for years and years, and in these past few years the children have nearly completely taken it upon themselves to experience and explore nature with very little leading from me. I often find them observing, and then see them get out the nature guide books and resources to learn more, completely on their own. It is not uncommon to find photos on the digital camera, rough sketches around the house on scrap papers, and noses pressed into the Nature Guides. And in Nature Notebooks I find finished sketches, and sometimes passages of scripture, poems, pieces of song lyrics, and even quotes from books.

Even DadtoCherubs has taken photos (with his phone - wouldn't CM be impressed !) of things he sees as he is driving around our area -- a hawk on the side of the road, a turtle crossing the road, a flock of strange birds on a pond, to name a few. And on a few occassions he has had his desk covered with Nature Guides, searching for an identification. DadtoCherubs has said he wishes his own education had included Nature Studies.

It is such a blessing to see our children seek such beauty on their own, motivated by their own observations, their own curiousity ... and then to see them reach their own educated conclusions. That is most certainly a True Education !! (Thank you Miss Mason for drawing our attention to God's amazing creation in such a fantastic way !)

It seems that too many children today learn of nature in a classroom with a textbook, yet fail to even notice all that the out-of-doors has to offer. Miss Mason called it an evil "that children get their knowledge of natural history, like all their knowledge, at second hand."

Instead, Charlotte Mason advised children learn of nature first hand with extended personal experiences. She suggested time outdoors everyday regardless of the weather. And on pleasant days, her recommendation was for four to six hours each day to be spent in the fresh air OUTSIDE !

"Never be within doors when you can rightly be without."
(Charlotte Mason)

Cherub 6 discovered this HUGE Praying Mantis while checking the rose bushes for new blooms. (in the center of the photo - with tail end facing nearly straight up and the head end facing nearly straight down.) Cherub 1 certainly had his GOOD EYES working .... and did a great job with the camera too, esp for being just 5yo.
Last evening, the children discovered this GIANT slug. It measured over 5" long, but every time we got clsoe to it, it would being to "squish up" to move. We have never seen a slug this big before.

And lastly, Cherub 4 spent quite some time watching this large Swallowtail Butterfly go from blossom to blossom on one of our Butterfly Bushes. He took 20+ photos of it. After taking the photos, he shared all of his observations with us before bedtime.

Thank you Lord for ALL that you created !