Thursday, November 26, 2009


"I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High."

* Psalm 9:1-2 *

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Exciting New Find

Since moving, the Cherubs and I have made a few new Nature Discoveries. Some interesting new trees, a few new birds, and many new wildflowers. We even spied a group of Boars once driving to Boy Scouts.

However, this particular nature sighting we had hoped would be limited to perhaps the National Forest.

DadToCherubs left last evening just after 6pm to take Cherub 2 and Cherub 5 to Horse Club. All 3 hopped in the truck and set out for the meeting, both girls talking and giggling, excited about their meeting.

And what did they spy maybe 50 feet below our driveway, simply walking across the road, and then disappearing into the woods ?


It was not as large as the one pictured above (above photo and below information care of enature), but was indeed a Black Bear.

So when DadToCherubs and the girls returned home, our family shared an impromptu Nature Study.

Family: Ursidae, Bears

Description: In the East, nearly black; in the West, black to cinnamon, with white blaze on chest. A "blue" phase occurs near Yakutat Bay, Alaska, and a nearly white population on Gribble Island, British Columbia, and the neighboring mainland. Snout tan or grizzled; in profile straight or slightly convex. 3 pairs of upper incisors equal in size. Male much larger than female. Ht 3–3' 5" (90–105 cm); L 4' 6"–6' 2"(137–188 cm); T 3–7" (7.7–17.7 cm); HF 9–14 5/8" (23–37 cm); Wt 203–587 lb (92–267 kg).

Endangered Status: The Louisiana Black Bear, a subspecies of the Black Bear, is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as threatened in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Numbers of this bear apparently held steady until European settlement and its attendant population explosion and large-scale habitat alteration. Black Bears were heavily hunted and their woodland habitats were logged and converted to farmland. The Louisiana Black Bear today survives primarily along the Tensas and Atchafalaya River basins in Louisiana, although it wanders farther afield. A recent threat to the Black Bear has been illegal killing and the export of its gall bladders to Asia.

Warning All North American bears can be dangerous in the following situations: when accompanied by cubs, when surprised by the sudden appearance of humans, when approached while feeding, guarding a kill, fishing, hungry, injured, or breeding, and when conditioned to human foods, as has occurred in some Canadian and U.S. parks. Do not feed, approach, or get between a Black Bear and its food or cubs; it will usually flee, but can cause serious injury or even death. Black Bears can run up to 30 miles per hour and can climb trees. Campers must firmly seal up food and place it out of reach. Bears will break into unattended vehicles if they smell food. Most of the negative interactions that take place between Black Bears and humans occur with bears that have diminished fear of humans and are habituated to human foods.

Similar Species: Grizzly Bear is usually larger, and has generally somewhat concave facial profile, muscular hump above shoulder region, longer foreclaws, and outer pair of upper incisors much larger than 2 inner pairs.

Breeding: Mates June–early July; litter of 1–5 (usually 2) young born January–early February; birth weight not much over 7 oz (200 g).

Habitat: In East, primarily forests and swamps; in West, forests and wooded mountains.

Range: Most of Alaska southeastward through Canada to n Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and Maritimes south through New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and Appalachian Mountains to Florida; south on West Coast through n California; Rocky Mountain states to Mexico. Also in Arkansas and southeast Oklahoma.

Discussion: This uniquely North American bear may be seen at any time, day or night. It occupies a range usually of to 10 square miles (20–25 sq km), although sometimes up to 15 square miles (40 sq km). The home range of the male is about double the size of that of the female. The Black Bear typically walks with a shuffling gait, but in its bounding trot it attains surprising speed, with bursts up to 30 mph (50 km/h). A powerful swimmer, it also climbs trees, either for protection or food. Although this animal is in the order Carnivora, most of its diet consists of vegetation, including twigs, buds, leaves, nuts, roots, fruit, corn, berries, and newly sprouted plants. In spring, the bear peels off tree bark to get at the inner, or cambium, layer. It rips open bee trees to feast on honey, honeycombs, bees, and larvae, and will tear apart rotting logs for grubs, beetles, crickets, and ants. A good fisher, the Black Bear often wades in streams or lakes, snagging fish with its jaws or pinning them with a paw. It rounds out its diet with small to medium-size mammals (including the young of deer, Elk, and Moose) or other vertebrates.

In the fall, the bear puts on a good supply of fat, then holes up for the winter in a sheltered place, such as a cave, crevice, hollow tree or log, under the roots of a fallen tree, or in a den that the bear excavates. In the Hudson Bay area, Black Bears will sometimes den in a snowbank. Excrement is never found in the Black Bear's wintering den. The bear stops eating a few days before retiring, but then consumes roughage, such as leaves, pine needles, and bits of its own hair. These pass through the digestive system and form an anal plug, up to 1 foot (30 cm) long, which is voided when the bear emerges in the spring.

Sows mate during their third year, with most producing one tiny cub the first winter, two or three on subsequent breedings. While the mother sleeps in the den, the almost naked newborns nestle into her fur. The mother often lies on her back or side to nurse, but sometimes sits on her haunches, with cubs perched on her lap, much like human infants; they may nurse for about a year. The female Black Bear is not receptive to males while nursing.

This bear is mainly solitary, except briefly during the mating season and when congregating to feed at streams, on large carcasses, and at dumps. Bears are often a problem around open dumps, becoming dangerous as they become habituated to human foods; occasionally people have been killed by them. Hunting Black Bears is a popular sport in some areas, both for the flesh (which must be well cooked because of trichinosis) and the hides, used for rugs. The helmets of Great Britain’s Buckingham Palace guards are made of the Black Bear’s fur.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Happy Anniversary
to my best friend,
my husband.
I will love, honor, and cherish you
for all of the rest of my days.
I love you.
" Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud. It is not rude,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily agered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. . . .

And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hike: Cumberland Trail: Rockcreek Trailhead

Red wildflower blooms.
At the very top ledge of the rocks.
And so near to November's end.
Here we wondered
- a lichen or moss -
with pretty red blooms.
How we wished we had taken a
magnifying glass with us on the hike.
One of several gorgeous waterfalls.
Promise of tomorrow.
A Rhododendron bud.
The countless towering rocks helped
us to put things in perspective.
Hemlocks lined the way on one ridge.
An American Holly (female).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

Under The Golden Apple Tree
is hosting a beautiful
Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival.
So grab a cup of tea or coffee,
and dive into the November 17th Edition .

Monday, November 16, 2009

Raingutter Regatta

We have a champion in our midst !
Cherub 6 came in first place in
the Tiger Scout division of tonight's
Raingutter Regatta Race.
(He really was much more excited than
the above picture shows. HA !)

Cherub 6 and DadToCherubs sanded the boat,
making it smooth clean.

Then DadToCherubs and Cherub 6
painted the S.S. Koala, designed her sail,
and assembled her with tender loving care.
King Arthur rode the waves tonight
on the S.S. Koala.
A grand time was had by all of the boys.
Thank you Mrs. T.F. for organizing
such a fun evening for the younger scouts.
We appreciate all of your efforts !!

Boy Scout Camping 101

Birthday Girl

Cherub 5 celebrated her birthday this
past weekend, amid a lot of fun-chaos
here at Beck's Bounty.
She bought herself a lovely new bike with
generous gifts from her grandparents.
And we bought her a cute
Build-A-Bear Panda,
which we named Freddie.
Happy 10th Birthday, Cherub 5 !!
We love you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Today's is Veteran's Day. A day set aside to honor those who have served our great nation, at home and abroad.

Army. Navy. Air Force. Marines. Coast Guard.

May we never forget their service and their sacrifice, in the name of Freedom. And may God bless America.

"It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it." (Thomas Jefferson)

Star Spangled Banner
by Francis Scott Key

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the Rockets' red glare, the Bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our Flag was still there;

O! say does that star-spangled Banner yet wave,
O'er the Land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,

Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country, shall leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of fight or the gloom of the grave,

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O'er the Land of the Free, and the home of the Brave.

O! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their loved home, and the war's desolation,
blest with victory and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land,
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - "In God is our Trust;"

And the star-spangled Banner in triumph shall wave,
O'er the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

And so as not to have a thousand forests
growing in our yard, we are cleaning up leaves
from the floor of the wooded area of our yard.
Some leaves are moved (via tarp) to our garden spot
and into flower beds.
Autumn's leaves are God's garden fertilizer.
And others are moved (via tarp) to the thicker
woods across the road, where they can
break down and feed the trees.
And some leaves are simply piled high,
in HUGE piles,
for the sole purpose of
jumping and playing in them.
(Eventually, this pile will be moved to the garden spot too,
once the
first layer has settled.)

Sunday, November 08, 2009


We spent yesterday morning doing our school lessons, amid complaints from the Cherubs. And we spent much of yesterday afternoon raking leaves and picking up sticks, in preparation for a Camp Out to be held here next weekend. As we raked and cleaned up, the Cherubs grumbled about the arduous task.

Philippians 2:14-16

"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain."

It was so frustrating for me --- God gifted us with a beautiful day which was perfect for these tasks. It was beautiful -- the yard, strewn with so many rich warm colors that will in turn be used to nourish the soil on which we will grow our summer's bounty. Rakes and wagons were working in harmony with strong backs and able arms. This little piece of land that God gifted to us just a few short months ago, filled to the brim with Autumnal splendor. His Masterpiece, shining in the sunshine, under a clear blue sky.

1 Peter 4:9

"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."

The grumbles of our Cherubs spurred my memory. You see, many years ago when we had only 3 children under 3yo, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed. And it was then that I got into a horrible habit. I too was grumbling about some mundane task set before me ... dishes ... or laundry ... sweeping ... a yard in sore need of attention ... or something. I was complaining and was resentful of most tasks during this time. And it was during one of my grumble sessions that a lovely older lady
(friend) shared a precious bit of wisdom with me which I have carried to this day. She said, "You can set about these tasks with grumbles and complaints. Or you can give them to God, recognizing these jobs as a blessing rather than a curse, because it is in doing these small things with a servants heart, as a wife and mother, that you give Glory to God." She shared with me how, for example, as she scraped leftover food from plates to be washed into the trashcans, she gave Thanks to God for plentiful food enough that scraps were left behind. She praised God for the plates on which it was served, for the kitchen and running clean water with which to clean them. She asked God to strengthen the bodies that consumed the meal while cooking or cleaning up. While doing laundry, she thanked God for the grass stains or garden dirt on the clothing and for the healthy bodies of her family - thankful that they had energy enough to work or play, and that their yard was a safe place in which her children could play. She thanked God for the glorious plot of land which they called their home, and the four walls that protected them from the elements. As she folded or mended the clothing of each member of her family, she prayed specifically for that person, lifting them into Our Father's hands.

At that moment, I was truly humbled. What a brat I had been. I immediately repented. And I have been putting into practice that incredible wisdom, day in and day out, for many years now.

But yesterday, while listening to the grumbles and complaints, it pained my heart. I have tried to pass along that same wisdom to my own children, as it was once given to me. But lately it seems that the lesson has been lost. There is far more grumbling and complaining than giving Him glory. Grumbling and complaining are nearly constant these days.

Jude 1:16

"These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage."

You see, our children have been going through a phase, as all children do. This particular phase seems to have brought about a lack of "remembering". A lack of "thankfulness". And a lot of laziness. The Cherubs have taken on my old habit -- taking all things at face value only, forgetting that all things were created OF God, forgetting that all things can be seen as a blessing or a curse. It seems, of late, that the world is pulling quite hard on our Cherubs, and that in the pulling they have forgotten to Remember .... remember to be thankful .... remember to be gracious .... remember to think of Him .... remember to pray to Him .... remember what it means to have a servant's heart .... remember to give Glory to God in all things.

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I was thinking of all of the blessings God has bestowed on our family ... and, as most mothers can understand, I was particularly concerned about the six Cherubs which God entrusted to us. Where had the pulling overpowered the wisdom ? Did they ever hear the message ? Why were they grumbling -- was the task too much for them, or were their hearts in the wrong place ? And what to do about it all --- isn't that the question of all mothers when things are not going as they should ?

I prayed first a prayer of thanksgiving -- for the honor of raising 6 Cherubs. I prayed for each of their hearts, that they might remember Him in all things. I prayed for their bodies, healthy and strong. I prayed that the "ant" come into their minds ... and that they would rediscover their servant's hearts. I prayed that they would renew their commitment to seeing the blessing rather than a curse. And I prayed for wisdom -- that God would make clear the steps I should
(or should not) take in that redirection. That He would give me the words, if there were any to be spoken.

Matthew 20:1-16

Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.' And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the first last."

This morning I awoke with a renewed sense of peace, a sense of direction, several passages of scripture relating to grumbling, and with this beautiful song by Mark Shultz on my mind.

Remember Me
In a Bible cracked and faded by the years
Remember me
In a santuary filled with silent prayers

And age to age
And heart to heart
Bound by grace and peace
Child of wonder, Child of God
I'll remember you
Remember Me

Remember me
When the color of the sunset fills the sky
Remember me
When you pray and the tears of joy
fall from your eyes


Remember me
When the children leave
their Sunday school with smiles
Remember me
When they're old enough to teach
Old enough to preach
Old enough to leave


Age to age and heart to heart
Child of wonder child of God

Remember me

Age to age and heart to heart
Child of wonder child of God

Thank you Lord, for hearing my cries. Thank you for blessing us, often in spite of ourselves. Please hold our tongues. Guide our steps, Lord, that we might be a light unto the world, and that we might bring Glory to Your Holy Name in all things.

Friday, November 06, 2009

A Chilly Morning

Lamentations 3:21-25 (ESV)

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.

Photos taken in our yard.
November 6, 2009

First Frost

The first, although scattered, Frost for the year.

Pale in her fading bowers the Summer stands,

Like a new Niobe with clasped hands,

Silent above the flowers, her children lost,

Slain by the arrows of the early Frost.

Richard Henry Stoddard [1825 - 1903]

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Extra ! Extra !


The newest edition of the
Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival
is hot off the presses.

Enjoy !

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes

Cherub 3 made delicious
Pumpkin Pancakes this morning for breakfast.
A wonderful Autumn breakfast !!
Yield: Serves 8.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups mashed, cooked pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and sugar. In a large bowl, beat together the pumpkin, eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and blend thoroughly. Pour 1/4 cup batter on a hot greased griddle. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned and bubbles form. Turn and finish cooking on other side. Serve with hot syrup.

Horse'n Around

Born June 9th
(nicknamed Little Miss Fancy Pants by our trainer)
R.G., our Horse Trainer,
working with Sunny
and Estrella

When we moved, we encountered some serious issues with Estrella. Being new and inexperienced horse owners, we apparently were not good "leaders" according to our Momma horse, and so she took over. This resulted in her behaving rather meanly (biting, kicking, ear pinning, herding, running "at" us) toward our family members. At first, we thought it was aggressive behavior.

Our vet of 12 years, concerned for our safety first and foremost, recommended that we find Estrella a new home - fast.

However, we loved her too much to just give up. So we hired a horse trainer that came highly recommended.

This trainer, R.G., came to evaluate our situation. And she explained that because we were not "good lead mares" ourselves, that Estrella had stepped into the role in order to protect herself and her baby.

R.G. has been coming here twice weekly for some time now -- mostly to train the humans more so than Estrella and Sunny. HA !! She has helped us determine the issues with Estrella, and to modify how we work with her to accommodate her fears and reservations so that she can work through them better.

The method of Horse Training that R.G. is teaching us is called Horsemanship By Feel -- there are no whips, no intimidating, and no "respect by fear" that seem to be the norm for horse training. Instead, the training works toward a mutual trust and mutual concern. (The above link is to a website for another professional trainer, who also had a big part in training "our" trainer. the methods are described in this website.)

We have learned so much from R.G., and have begun to build a delightful relationship with both of our horses. This relationship is based on mutual respect and mutual trust. Our horses are flourishing under the guidance of this trainer (esp Sunny, who lovesssss R.G. and is excited on training days to see her arrive !), and all residents of Beck's Bounty are truly enjoying being horse owners and are dedicated horse lovers.

Equestrian Studies --- this was not a planned subject for study this year, but has certainly been a wonderful "elective" addition to our homeschool as well as to our lives. Our Cherubs have learned so much about caring for our horses and about interacting with them. Feeding, brushing, hoof care, leading, and now we are easing into leading them (on a line), and will eventually head into riding. What a blessing !

(Our 4yo Momma. Her name is Spanish for Star)
Grazing in our upper pasture.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

It's That Time Again

We're running a bit later than usual
this year, but finally it's time
to get out the warm woolies.
Swapping shorts for pants,
short sleeves for long,
bathing suits for mittens and gloves.
The days are getting cooler,
the nights are getting colder.
It's nearly time to break out
the tea cups, and begin anew
our traditional warm herbal tea
served during bedtime reading.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner ...
turkey and all the fixings ...
a time when our minds focus on all
of the blessings God has bestowed
on our family and friends.
Our Father has been wonderful
to us ... a new home ...
dear friends old and new ...
good health ... DadToCherub's job ...
He is so good !!
Then it won't be much longer after that before
LET IT SNOW will be uttered nearly daily,
as the Cherubs hope for fluffy white flakes
to cover everything.
Being a bit higher in elevation
at this new house,
perhaps the chances are better now.
The holiday season will blow in like a whirlwind,
as usual, bringing with it visits with dear
family and friends, and all of the beautiful traditions --
baking cookies, decorating the tree,
pondering deeply on the story of Christ's birth,
singing carols, and evenings by the fireplace
sipping warm tea and perhaps a treat while reading
our favorite wintertime books together.
I can hardly wait.