Saturday, July 31, 2010


And then.

Dwayne has trained Norah to scratch his back from her earliest days. And, now Norah is helping teach Avril to scratch his back, too.

and then I like to compare my pictures, to see how quickly my kids have grown. This serves to remind me how quickly time flies, how what seem like insignificant minutes add up to hours, days, years.

For what is your life? It is a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. James 4:14

Friday, July 30, 2010

Norah just finished her first week ever at Vacation Bible School. The theme was Saddle Ridge Ranch. She had the time of her life! Our church did a magnificent job. I think the rumor was there were somewhere around five hundred kids participating.

Norah was given a CD with all the music on it. We are listening to it when we are in the Jeep and she and I are both singing the songs to ourselves throughout the day. Some of the songs are fun like Tumbleweed. Some are tear-jerking such as Like Jesus. I think my particular favorite is God Cares.
Below is a short clip of Norah (as much as I could get before my old camera went dead), standing in between her two of her best friends, actually, at the final assembly for the whole family on Friday evening. She's singing part of the song Who He Says I Am.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I found some "lost" photos of our camping trip on my cell phone.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I was working in the kitchen after lunch and turned around to see this.
My pride and joy can't even be expressed in words.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I love our dining room table. It's the center of our home. It's big, solid, useful, simply beautiful.

I know some people fret about dents. I used to, but I've come to think that you may actually be able to mark the quality of your life by the authentic marks you manage to put on your furniture, especially your tables. That's why I love this picture. My husband is resting his full weight in the heel of one hand and then slicing through pie dough straight to my table top with a rolling blade in the other hand.

I know people will spend extra money to purchase dining room tables that only look like they've been used in this way. When I first got married, I was attracted to the tables that had this "distressed look" about them. The ones I wanted most came new from the store with pre-made scratches and dents and edges already worn. But, we couldn't afford those tables. I had to settle for one with a then flawless top.

But, I gave myself a challenge. I bought a table we could afford that I really liked that I thought would last through the years and then made it my ambition to really live on it. So, now I am deliberate to bake apple pies every year and practice handwriting with my little one every day and throw out flour to kneed some dough every so often and that way I can (and do) take pride in every little scratch because I know every little one only adds to the richness I've shared with my family around that center of our home.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Since we went berry picking,
we have been reading Blueberries for Sal everyday.

And we've been baking blueberry everything.

Blueberry buckle...

Blueberry muffins...

More blueberry buckle...

And blueberry pies.

"It's a nice way to live, Just taking what Nature is willing to give."

-From the poem Blueberries by Robert Frost

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Zaner-Bloser, the company that makes Norah's handwriting program, allows you to print practice paper for student levels K through 8th off their website.

Just click this link and it will take you to the web page shown in the photo above. Then click "Get started." That will open the window that you see in the photo below.

There are options for grade level, cursive or manuscript, color or black and white, etc. on the left. On the right, there are templates for the various kinds of pages one may want, depending on the subject: handwriting, spelling, vocabulary, etc.

You can just print out a blank page or type in your own words and then print them out. Or, you can do both and that makes customized copy work and matching practice paper like you see below.

This site saves me the trouble of writing out Norah's copy work like I had to do before. Writing it out wasn't a big deal when it was only one or two sentences, but now her copy work is getting longer and longer and I am more likely I am to mess it up somewhere in the middle, so I will probably use this site more and more in the coming weeks.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

If I find something that I like online, I usually bookmark the page so I can go back to it easily. But, sometimes I forget the bookmark is even there. Weeks or months later, when I open my bookmarks folder, I am always pleasantly surprised.

As of today, here's a list of what I have bookmarked. I thought you all may like some of this stuff, too.

A free online home school curriculum

Free audio downloads of classic books like Alice in Wonderland and Treasure Island, etc.

A free online library with other classic titles like Peter Pan and Emma, etc.

This website has tons of science experiments to try.

I'd like Norah to do this program. It's local and supposed to be top-notch, but I am not sure I want her making friends with "tree-huggers." (I wish you could hear my laughter. I am totally kidding, of course).

I'd like to make matching dresses like this for the girls one warm-enough holiday, maybe next Easter or more likely... next July 4th.

A great explanation of the workbox system. This works for alot of homeschooling moms, especially those who have several kids to coordinate at once.

Great website for art projects to do with kids.

I want to read this book to Norah. I don't remember the details of the story, but I think my mom read it to us when we were kids and I think I remember loving it.

I want buy one of these kits next spring/ summer. It's too hard to find caterpillars in the wild and even when we do, the ones we find end up turning into ugly moths, not beautiful butterflies.

You can use this program to record your voice digitally on your computer and then make a CD.

I am going to buy this book.

I need to decide what kind of time line or book of time I am going use for next year. I'm still trying to figure out what will work best for us.

This website has free clipart of scenes in history that many homeschoolers print and use on their time lines.

The full text of Anna Botsford Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study.

Beautiful samples of nature journals.

Christmas after Christmas I keep meaning to make and decorate gingerbread men with Norah, but I always forget.

I thought I'd try to make these potatoes.

Can I make a public confession? I don't know how to make potato salad. I know it's appalling and for a woman my age!!! Gasp! I consider myself a great cook (Am I allowed to consider myself a great anything?) I mean, if you ask my husband why he loves me, "You're a great cook" is one of his top five reasons, but I still haven't learned how to make potato salad. Or, I should say, I haven't found a recipe to call my very own.

Fresh lemonade?! Yeah right! I think I had time to do this once. Just pass over the County Time mix, please.

I want to make/cook these with Norah.

You can save oh so much money on groceries by buying and roasting a whole chicken.

You can also make your own chicken stock. But please note that I never use the chickens that I roast myself to make stock. I tried using them a few times and the stock I came up with wasn't very flavorful and it was too, too, too fatty. Yes, I know stock is supposed to be fatty... but just trust me, this stock actually had too much fat. I only use the grocery stores' rotisserie chickens that I buy already roasted to make my own stock. Those chickens produce a much darker, rich flavorful broth... much more like the broth you buy in cans, only better.

This chart tells you how long your condiments will keep.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"We want to develop inquiring minds and perceptive senses,
not just children who are storehouses of information."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I was watering my flowers very early one morning. The spray from my water hose must have disturbed a moth sleeping on the underside of one of the leaves. I saw the moth fly up into the air over the blossoms and then fuss around disorderly for a few moments, like it was angry at me for waking it up.

With some difficulty, I tried to kept track of it's flight pattern. My head bobbled for a few moments, until the moth landed on the knuckle of my right hand, the hand I was using to hold the water hose. I probably wouldn't have even felt it there, had it not been for the fact that I was looking for it.

Quickly, I switched the water hose to my left hand and lifted my right one toward to the sky, almost by reflex, meaning to direct the moth away from me safely, in the way it wanted to go. But, as I held my hand up, waiting, waiting, the moth didn't take off. Instead, it crawled to the center of my hand and stayed there. I brought my palm closer to my face so that I could look at it square in the eye for at least a moment before it saw me and flew away. And, it saw me. But, it didn't fly away.

As I watched it, it seemed to watch me. But, the closer I looked I saw that the moth was also preoccupied. It's straw-like mouth was moving over my palm, sucking the water out from in between the creases in my skin. I didn't feel any of this, but it made me uneasy to see it's hose flopping all over my hand. I controlled the urge to shake it off my hand, however, and kept as still as possible, not wanting to disturb it and then regret a second later that I caused it to fly away.

To my amazement, the moth stayed and stayed and drank and drank. I knew that my hand was covered in what to me was only a light layer of water because I had been using the water hose and I wondered at how this could be enough water to allow a moth to drink so heartily. The sun reflected off the water on my hand then and I could see that the space where the moth's mouth had been was perfectly dry while the area around the moth's feet was still wet. The moth seemed to realize this as soon as I did, so it lumbered forward a steps, like it was difficult to move while it's hose was still unrolled. The moth stayed in the new spot until it was dry, too, and then it moved again and drank again and repeated this until my palm was completely dry.

While this was going on, I tried not to blink so I wouldn't miss one second of it. But, then I realized that my mouth was gaping wide open and considered that this might not be the best posture to take when a moth or any insect for that matter is two inches in front of your face. So, I closed my mouth and moved my palm a little away from my face, but only a very little. I tried not to lower my arm even though it had begun to hurt by this point.

Once my hand was dry, I was sure the moth would realize it wasn't a leaf and fly away, but it didn't. As I held my hand up to the light, the moth seemed to take a moment, take in his surroundings, take another look at me and note to itself that it was satisfied. So, instead of moving on, it crawled to the backside of my hand and stretch it's wings flat against the back of my first finger. I turned my hand to get the moth back into the light so that I could see it better, but the moth noticed this and scurried a little further down my finger and flattened it's wings again. That's when I realized that it wanted to be in the shade. A moth would want to be in the shade if it was planning to rest, of course, and the backside of my finger was much darker than the front, so I realized he was planning to settle there for the duration.

At this point, I was torn. I didn't want to make him move since he was so determined to stay and since he was paying me a compliment by feeling at ease on my hand. But, I also didn't want to let him get settled and then have to disturb him again when I would have to put down the water hose and move on to something else, which I was bound to have to do any minute. Unfortunately, I couldn't just stand there to let a moth rest on me all day. So, I turned my hand toward the light again and this time blew as hard as I dared, not wanting to hurt him, but wanting to set him to flight. He looked at me with what seemed to be annoyance. He wouldn't go. He scurried back under my hand. I turned my hand again and this time blew a little harder. He finally took the hint and took off.

I went back to watering my flowers then. But, I felt magical and special, a little like a kid and a lot like Cinderella. If I could have carried I tune, I just might have started singing. But, I didn't want to ruin the moment for myself and since I am tone deaf, singing out loud usually ruins any moment for me.

I was thankful to God. It seemed like the curse of sin was lifted for a few moments and the moth and I enjoyed a fellowship, of sorts, for at least a few moments. The thought occurred to me that this must have happened all day long in Eden. Eve was probably free to experience God's creation "hands on" all the time. She might have been able to walk up and take handfuls of a lion's mane like it was a big kitten or something. I just smiled to myself and pondered that and watered my flowers. But, Avril's cries interrupted my thoughts then and I had to put my hose down, shut the water off and hurry back to earth.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Too much have we emphasized drawing as an art; it may be an art, to the artist, but if he is not an artist, he still has a right to draw if it pleases him to do so. We might as well declare a child should not speak unless he puts words into poetry, as to declare that he should not draw because his drawings are not artistic."

The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

Monday, July 19, 2010

When Norah's math book introduced "solving for the unknown," she didn't get it right away. She saw the plus sign and the two numbers, so out of habit, she would just add the numbers together and write the answer in whatever empty spot there was.

This meant she was just "going through the motions" and obviously didn't recognize the significance of the equals sign in the problem or what it was supposed to mean.

She is gifted in language, so I explained to her that the math sentence now says "Nine plus two equals seven" and I asked her, "Is nine plus two the same as seven?"

To this, she said, "Oh. Yeah. Right!" with a giggle and erased the nine.

But, she still had to figure out the number she needed to make the two sides equal. She could do this problem and others like it using her blocks all day long, but no matter how many times she got it right with her blocks, the concept never seemed to move from the blocks to her head.

But, I knew she could do this in her head. I knew she did this kind of math all the time with her friends...

I got the candy basket out.



"If your friend had seven pieces of candy and you had two and I told you that you could have the same amount as your friend, how many mo..."


And that was it. Problem solved.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We took a "field trip" to Boston's Public Garden last week.

Views of the city all around.

We got there right at lunch time and we were all starving,
so we started our day with a picnic under this perfect tree.

The branches grew down and then out, rather than up and out
and they reached all the way to the ground.

It was a cozy spot for a picnic and the branches in front were trimmed
to show the view of the swan boats going by.

Avril loved the ham salad.

Ham salad on biscuits.

Followed by blueberry buckle made with the fresh berries we picked just a few days before. It was the perfect picnic.

After lunch, Dwayne read Make Way for Ducklings out loud.

Then Norah fed the ducks our leftovers while we sat
and enjoyed the shade and the gentle breezes.

We visited Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings on their way to the pond.

Then we headed back to the swan boats for a ride.

Duck island and a different view of the willow tree Norah stood under to feed the ducks.

A duck cleans her feathers on the shore of the island.

I heard the people we passed using the titles "Mr." and "Mrs." before the word "Mallard." So, we weren't the only ones in love with the story.

A real mother duck and her babies followed along side our boat.
Too bad we didn't have any peanuts to throw their way.

It was the perfect afternoon for naps.

I thought this guy would have made a humorous park statue.

The statue of George Washington.

The bench from Good Will Hunting.

The Ether Monument, shown in the background of the illustrations in Make Way for Ducklings.

We walked over to the Frog Pond on The Boston Common and let the girls cool off in the warm water before we headed home.

It was a beautiful day. I'm thankful for the memories we made and captured in these photos.

As I was trying to describe the visit to someone else and what it meant to us after having read the books we did together, I told them that I felt like I had finally discovered the soul or essence of the home school experience that Dwayne and I want to produce for our children.

With God's blessing on our efforts, I hope the lessons we teach the girls, the stories we read to them, will all come to life like they did on this day.