Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rocking with Paul

Last Saturday found us south at a Paul Wilbur concert church service. Not boring, sit, squirm and count the minutes till it's over church. I'm talking church. Church like there is a hope of heaven church. Church like He'll be returning on a white cloud and trumpets will roar church. Church like the Lion of Judah lives church. Yeah, Baby!

Paul Wilbur is a worship leader and he projects JOY in leading worship. He interacts with the other musicians and those in the aisle, prays fervently, speaks wisdom, shares life-changing testimony of the Living God. 

Paul doesn't do guitar rifts that leave those listening in the dust, doesn't outperform or out-sing the rest of those jamming, though it's clear that he could. (What is up with "worship leaders" having private little jam fests with "their" band up front, doing antiphonal vocal solos while those in the aisle are left hanging. Seriously.) He leads with a gentle fervor that conveys that God is bigger than all of us and it is with eager anticipation that we wait to see what He will do! Shout to the Lord!

Along with the beautiful music, we were inspired by the work of this music ministry team around the world. He shared stories of being in Cuba and praying with a close family member of Fidel Castro (oh, yeah!) an upcoming worship recording in Germany, and, best of all,  a upcoming performance for the IDF,  making free worship CD's available to any member of the IDF that wants one. 200  Messianic congregations in Israel right now! Boyah, Baby!

Shofars blew, feet danced, voices raised and the Word of the Lord was proclaimed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, KB!!

Today is KB's 21rst birthday. She is our mystery child-  a study in contrasts.

All girl.

I mean,  girly-girl.

And all Wild West.
All country.

And read to go where the action is.

 Don't think for a minute that her quiet demeanor means she's not opinionated or passionate.

Behind her quiet, sweet demeanor, is a wild woman ready to tell the world to repent, vote well, act respectful and use manners!
Any Questions?

She is full of surprises and incredible wit.

Isn't she gorgeous?!

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Child.
God knows the plans that He has for you and they are GOOD!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sabbath Blessings

A few literary snapshots of a wonderful, restful week-end.

Each week at the Adat (Messianic Fellowship) whose service we attended on Saturday morning the assembly prays 2 blessings. The first is for the women in the congregation. Many of the men were wearing tzitzits (prayer shawls) and during the blessing their wives would lean into them while the men covered them with their tzitzit. I saw a couple of men stand over their wives to include daughters and put their tzitzit's over both. Together, the men speak a blessing over the women, acknowledging the good blessing that they (the women) bring in to their lives.. It was no quick and simple prayer. It was a powerful, moving blessing, strengthened by the laying on of a loved one’s hands. These men were claiming sovereignty over what was theirs. It was a beautiful portrait of what men should be; claiming their families, taking authority to pray for and over them. If it sounds patronizing or condescending, then I'm not explaining it right; it was anything but. These men were acting like men. They were claiming leadership and authority over people- their people. They were providing an example to their sons and daughters of servant leadership, humility, corporate prayer, acknowledgement of the blessing of marriage.

The 2nd blessing was for the children. All of the children were invited up front to stand under a canopy. Once they were all assembled the congregation sang, "A Sabbath Prayer," reverently, in harmony. I sat and wept it was so moving. The kids standing there, looking at a group of people who were singing a blessing over them, casting a vision, prayerfully, intentionally, faithfully. This is what it means for a church to take their children seriously; time and intention by the leadership and people of the assembly.
Each week, after the blessing, an elder of the church goes to teach the children. The kids dance, sing and are a taught by a leader of the assembly who consider educating their children one of their vital responsibilities. What a contrast to most church’s where getting Sunday school workers is a heroic effort. A beautiful example of  men standing up and claiming responsibility and authority for what is theirs; the children in their care, the legacy of their community.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer Wind-Down

my life this week…
Had a birthday, a lovely day.
Hot blowing prairie winds this week, the zuchhini are toast. It's kinda of like the summer edition of being on house arrest from sub-zero winter weather. We are reading Little House on the Prairie. Not sure I would have made it as a prairie woman, little bitty house with few windows, summer winds that parch and blast, no readily available lotion (sseriously!) abject isolation...shudder.
It was a week of taking care of bits and pieces and tying up loose ends.
Started reading Lawhead's Bone House. It's not grabbing me.

In our homeschool this week…
Feeche continues to watch the TC DVD's on Shakespeare and I continue to show solidarity by watching with him. The things we do for love. (It's good, really, it just puts me to sleep every.single.time).
Prep for fall; I'm co-teaching art for h.s. (drawing), creative writing for high school and writing for a group of 3/4th graders. I'm gathering guest speakers for the Creative Writing class. So far I have a publisher and a Children's author. It's gonna be fun!
I also finally printed the World Conflicts cards.
We read lots of Little House out loud this week, on the porch, out of the wind, with lotion near-by.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
One day at a time, baby.

My favorite thing this week was…
Last week my favorite thing was that Feeche got to do archery, then ballroom dance and then spend the next day boating with our friends and their church. Then home to a birthday party with more friends and food. His kinda fun. Lots of friends, lots of activity and lots of food.
Oddly my memory card bailed on me, thus I have no awesome pictures to share.

My favorite thing this week is coming up. Tomorrow we're all going south to see Paul Wilbur in concert as a combo birthday present for the 4 in 2 group (4 birthdays in 2 weeks). Added bonus, we are going to see our friend Reb Nate and co. along with Paul and Lynn from Fuller (Yippee!)
I’m grateful for…
This verse:
Proverbs 16:3 ~ Commit to the LORD whatever you do and your plans will succeed.
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
'Photo Booth' wall. WANT    wood stairs with painted risers, white plank walls
This is what I'm hoping my stairs will look like at some point...well, soon. It's just a matter of sanding. Sanding some more and then sanding again. We rented a floor sander for Labor Day week-end, taking the holiday by it's word. It's going to a 3 full days of moving stuff, sanding floors, and being incredibly grateful for my buff husband and son.

Questions/thoughts I have…(I need your help!)
Check out the stairs above. See the kickboard? Ours are a combo of old and new wood, but it's all already the dark espresso color like the picture on the left. I don't want to sand the risers. I do want the treads to be the natural wood color (it's fir and be.a.utiful!). See the picture on the right? We'll have 12" of kickboard on the wall that leads into the living room which has beaucoup espresso stained wood throughout (floorboards, window trim -bay and 3 others, and crown molding) so I can't just paint the 8' of kickboard under the stairs white- can I? And if I do, I can't go back because how will I ever get the dark stain to match the other stain again??
 O.k., so my question is, what color do I do the risers? Will it look too awkward to have dark, espresso color wood, then white risers, then natural wood? Thoughts, opinions, pictures??

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Limited Medium

Indulge me, if you would, in some ramblings. It is, after all, my birthday. As a result I am one year away from kissing the 1/2 century mark. I made it past the  48th year of life, alive (Isn't it odd how, even though my older sister is dead, I am still assessing my life by hers? I made it past how old she was...). I had no idea this time last year that it would be another year of...what; grief, hurt, uncertainty? This year, on a deeper, more personal level, if that's possible, than the year before. How can it be that I can be this old and still be wrapped around the 2 year old that I was, the 8 year old that I was, the person inside that still loved my Daddy and wanted...wanted so much more from what had been, from what wasn't going to be? Dreams die hard and this year has been the death, not only of my Dad, but of dreams that I have harbored for over half my life, maybe even all of it. I've cried, hard, a lot this year. I've been in a fog, slogging through feelings. It hasn't been fun, I haven't liked it. Not one little bit.

I hope to God, I hope, that He is using my dreams - the ones that didn't take, and the hopes I've laid down, my disappointment and even despair, to grow me up. To refine me. To make me more like Him. I've been sick of myself this year and my own raging toddler inside who hasn't gotten her own way and doesn't know what to do with the depths of despair that have threatened my every days. The what I haves. The gift of the present.
I think I'm finally getting over it. Over me. I think I'm finally getting it. It's been a painful lesson. I like the sharing in His joy part of things, but the sharing in His sorrow has been...very difficult.

I came across this lovely quote.

Today, of course. And it sums up well this past year, my life, me; my journey to follow Christ.  We are created for the eternal but we are given the medium of mortality. Getting through life is often, for me at least, a struggle with, against, because of, my own humanity. The medium of mortality limits me, defines me, causes me to suffer, grow, develop, crump, despairr, move on, laugh out loud, hope for more, hope again. God created the medium. God embraced it Himself and is the ultimate portrait. He has hold every one of my tears- our tears. He hears every one of our laughs, rejoices when we find Joy, weeps with us in our despair. And through it all, never sins. He never ridicules, teases, torments, swears, damns others. He embraces the limitations of humanity and holds his hands out, offering hope and living water.

I thirst.
I need what only He can give.
I have no idea what this year will bring. And some days I feel a bit..hesitant. I feel wary.
And yet. The kids are growing and tanned, the house is slowly, slowly, getting more usable, more finished, I feel like I am swimming through clearer water these days instead of slogging through murk. We have had good, dear, kind people in our lives helping us, blessing us, praying for us.. The sun shines every morning. Life, oddly, how very oddly, goes on. And the mystery of death and endings and closure and utter finality fades a little each day.

My husband and my kids celebrated my birthday yesterday, since Mondays are very long days with everybody scattered. Viking Man made breakfast, wired light fixtures, made sweet, funny and endearing comments to me all day long, spent time porch sitting with the family over dinner, and bought me really touching presents. (At the end of the day he went over "the list"and made sure I realized he'd touched on every single "love language."- utterly sweet!). 

I lost my wedding ring one day last year when I was sanding.
He replaced it with a matching set, along with a beautiful necklace.
It is good to have just today to live in. To see where we've been, what storms God has stilled in our lives. To know that He's been in the future and He's made a path for us, if He allows us to be there with Him, this side of eternity. 
Its' good to be loved.

So, thank-you to each one of you who have been my friend the past couple of years, loving me while I have been...engulfed.
You have been God's hands and feet to me and I thank God for you in my every remembrance.

Find more inspiration at Pebble Crossing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Day in the Life at Gracious Heart Homeschool

Just so you know
A day in the life at our house changes by the week, month and season.
My goal is to create a lifestyle of learning. You can read more about it here.) I believe that children are learning all the time. The world is new to them and until we've electronically deadened them or stressed them or whatever'd them, they are eager to learn and grow and develop. I also believe that we need to intentionally cultivate this innate desire to learn and grow because the world, (and lets face it, the enemy of our children's souls) wants them bored, uninterested, unmotivated, complacent and weary ASAP- people with this as their MO are much less of a threat to kingdom issues than those who are active, vibrant, alert and full of Joie de vivre. But I digress....)
We  batch and do many things seasonally. 
 We have a Dad/Husband with a bizarre schedule. His evenings are booked so often he'll be home until mid or late morning and he works from home 2 days a week. If you stop by on a school morning you might just find us on the porch drinking coffee together instead of at the table doing school. That's because mornings often are family times in our home.
We have the additional challenge of living in a 1/2 finished house which we are continually working on and managing our lives around.
Perhaps I am over-explaining but in case there is some new home schooler out there reading this I do it to offer you courage. No matter how unusual your life is or what challenges you face, if you are called to do this work of home educating, there is a way to get it done and done well.

We participate in an Academic Class day one afternoon a week. Between the drive (we live way out of town and often play history or poetry CD's and listen to books on tape) and feeding everybody it's a short morning at home of putting the finishing touches on homework due (my kids hate to be unprepared in front of their friends- love that positive peer pressure).
One other morning a week we participate in an Enrichment Co-op. The kids do chorale, art and a unit-study. Between the drive, feeding everybody, doing our weekly grocery shopping, getting Feeche to ballroom dancing in the evening and socializing, that day is totally out-of pocket and one very well spent.

3 Days 4 School: That leaves us 3 1/4 days of "school" at our house (unless its Lego League week, then we is down to 3) because the week-end is usually chock-full of other living stuff. I'm changing things up a bit this year from the last 2, which have been crisis or just getting over crisis-mode (You can read more about our house fire/re-build in the Tear down To Build Up posts). On the 3 days we're home, we school.

Before first things: Feeche and Dad often go jogging and work-out after getting up at the crack of dawn and having devotions/writing. After their jog, Dad does Karate with the kids.
First things: we are going to be doing Bible reading and VP Bible cards together. Though Feeche is a Jr, very responsible and diligent about his work, and does his own regular devotions as well as a Bible study, I miss gathering together with everybody as we start our day. Plus, he doesn't mind memory work and we haven't done the Bible cards yet. I want to give the Cub and Flower plenty of time to read the cards, and think and talk about them and get into the narrative of the text. We all know a fair amount of ancient culture, archeology, history and Bible at this point and discussions are generally vibrant. Love that. Then we'll go over memory work.
Memory Work: utilizing our trusty wall board (made from a pexi-glass storm window), lap white-boards (made from shower tile), flash card sets we've made (from index cards or using Amy Pak's Homeschooling in the Woods ) and purchased. Memory work areas include Latin, science, poetry, Bible, scripture memory, history, grammar with lots of input from IEW's Linguistic Development Through Poetry and Living Memory. The kids have been doing focused memory work for going on 5 years now. They know how to memorize. They revel in being able to rattle off poems or facts. It’s not always their favorite thing to do, but they get the benefits. Love that.
Skill work (morning): Grammar, Math, and Foreign Language. Grammar is not my dd’s fav and math is not my ds’s fav. It’s work. I get math, I don’t always get grammar. It’s work for me too.
Lunch- usually grab-ur-own (left overs, quesadillas, Ramen, etc). It’s nice to sit down together and touch base, necessitating clearing a spot on the table. (Move over math and grammar).
Content areas (afternoon): history, science, literature. This is the stuff that I love, this is what they love. We are going to be adding to our nature journals this fall, recording the wild-life that is so prevalent in the boon-docks.
Free time: Afternoons also find us taking walks, jumping on the tramp, gardening, making dinner, baking, sitting on the porch (have I mentioned that I love, love, love my porch?) and chatting, especially when KB comes home late afternoon. The notsolittles try to get a movie in now and then or computer time but we limit screen time during the week and they go days without either (we haven’t had T.V. for years). We do allow the X-box out during the deep winter cause we do get house bound and cabin fever but it goes away in March and stays gone till late November. The kids read voraciously and spend hours playing, taking walks, meandering in the fields and having space and time to think and ponder. Love that.

High School: High school is a whole different animal than eled imho because there is a greater need for quiet study and lots of independent work. Our goal is to sit down on Mondays together and go over the work that needs done and check time-frames on work due. Outside accountability for homeschooling high school teaches the kids that due dates aren't suggestions. After we do Bible together, Feeche generally heads for somewhere quiet and gets to work. He’ll have weekly check-ins/homework due with Science, Writing, Medieval history and bi-weekly check-ins with math.

My "maid-servants" work for me daily: the computer, DVD and CD players. History, Latin, Science, writing, etc.

We also have daily chores. The boys start laundry before they come up in the morning (we still have a kids dorm in the basement). The not so littles put away dishes and help me clean the kitchen after breakfast while Feeche does animal care.
Because we live in an area with extreme seasons and we have a large garden we also have seasonal chores. Because we are also involved in an extensive house re-model we have house chores.

Challenges: We live 2 miles past the boon-docks. We schedule our trips in to town, and pack out time in town to the fullest. Which is efficient, but we don't have a lot of social interaction besides each other when we're home (we have NO neighbors) and this leaves the World Wide Web as our link to the outside world.  It's awfully easy to say, "I'll just check this thread and be done in 5 min" and spend the next 2 hours linking and hopping and getting socially connected, ignoring the house, school and the kids. Beginning in September I’m going to be off the computer between x a.m. and x p.m. I haven't decided on the real times yet, cause I want to make it do-able.

Strengths: I like the pressure of a just 3 days a week to get stuff done. We work harder and more efficiently with the schedule more compact. Evenings and week-ends are "free" to do kid stuff, house stuff, and seasonal stuff.

It’s going to be a full year. We’re officially starting school Sept.5 and the books that I ordered on Tuesday are already arriving. We are deep in to discussions about who is taking what at Tutoring Center and who will have what car which day of the week (oy vey, the car/kid shuffle/exchange).

What does a Day in Your Life look like? Be sure and stop over at HOTM and link-up! Not Back to School Blog Hop

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Family & Friends

Happy Birthday, Dear One!!

Today is Feeche's 17th birthday. I love this kid. He is smart and witty, compassionate and funny, rock solid and strong. His feet look like a Feeche's 6 months of the year, even though we live in the far north. He is well read and intellectual, tender and kind and totally sold out to the One True Living God. He looks like his Dad until you meet his Grandpa and then you think, "Clone-boy!"  He has big plans in life but shares them judiciously.
My mil deserves public praise and admiration. She spent days looking for tickets for Feeche's upcoming foray into airline madness looking for just the right connecting flights, airports and price range. She did it, saving me days of worry and anxiety, along with a couple hundred dollars.

Speaking of which, places we're going. Feeche is gonna take a little plane trip to D.C. in a month for TeenPact's Back to DC. It's a week of shaking hands with national government leaders, listening to movers and shakers speak and going to see national monuments. The morning that it ends he'll fly on over to GA to hang out with Wild Man Maj. Stansbury, who runs the Challenge program. From suit and tie one week to BDU's the next. He is jazzed.

I did it. I ordered curriculum. All in one day. It's on it's way. The only thing left is eled math (need Cub to do a placement test) and Lightening Lit student texts. Got a rockin' deal on Rosetta Stone. I'd like everyone to be bi-lingual soon, k?

More Canning. I always wonder if it's worth it but dh and dc's always say "thanks" about a thousand times every time we open something we canned at home. And some of it is almost free food. It sounds like it's been a rough gardening season for lots of folks in our neck of the woods so I don't think we did too bad. The grasshoppers, however,  might drive us to chicken ownership again.

 "The 4 Best Days of Summer" is how our county fair, the longest continuing running fair in the territories, bills itself. As usual we went with our good friends Lori and Cyndi and all of our dc's, along with the M family. The kids shared tickets and fair food and friendship and screams of joy on the zipper. We love you guys!!

Got some very touching responses in response to my article Endure over at HOTM. I'd love to hear your feedback.

What's new in your neck of the woods?

Link up with Jennifer, Sue or at the Hop.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dad School

Dad school includes phys ed (karate, jogging, calisthenics), science generally (and astronomy, cartology, meterology, and anthropology specifically -NOAA is a home-page), theology and Biblical studies, social sciences- all sorts, and lots of other stuff.

What's Dad school look like at your house?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Climbing Parnassus

It's "Student Photo Week" over at the Not Back to School Blog Hop."

I had this great idea of doing a photo montage but my schedule disagreed and settled on a picture of us rocking out instead. 
'Cause it sums up so much of what homeschooling is about.

Homeschooling is an exercise in mountain climbing.
 We probably don't even know it when we start out.
It's revolutionary academically, socially, spiritually and politically.
It's hard work. It will tax you and max you and your children and your family.
You will look for creative solutions to difficult problems you never even considered before.
It will cause you to grow and develop muscles and skills that you never thought you had or would need before.
It will give you a whole new perspective on what you can do, what you don't want to do, the sacrifices you will make, how off the beaten path you live. 
You will frequently be out of breathe, stop to pray, wonder why and maybe cry from blistered fingers or bruised shins.
The view from the top will wow you and take your breathe away.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Help, Courage, Art as Worship

The Help

I went to see The Help last night with KB. It's been a long time since I've gone to an evening movie and paid full price for a ticket. Oy Vey. We sat through a lengthy series of commercials- everything from A- Z. We breathed a sign of relief when they were done, only to be thrust into another series of ads about upcoming movies. We were there to see a PG 13 movie. The ads were....strange at best. A bizarre mix of material that teased and flirted and jumped in head first with material that went beyond a PG 13 rating, material that de-sensitizes the viewer to everything from modesty to singularity. In the midst of it all comes an ad for the next Sherwood Films Production. A bright light in a dark and devious industry. 3 cheers (again) for the Kendrick Bros, Sherwood Baptist Church and courageous men and women of God who are wiling to face giants.

In our Hebraic Fellowship this week it was shared that the gladiatorial games were stopped by a monk. He had the courage and the fortitude, and most likely the foreknowledge that he would die, to go out into the arena and declare, "ENOUGH." Of course, (I write so easily), he was martyred. But, once the deed was done, the crowd dissipated, never to re-group to glorify death so openly and so horrifically.
And that, my friends, brings me finally to The Help. Skeeter's mom gives a beautiful speech on courage and standing up against culturally norms that are wrong, deceitful and evil. Skeeter and Abilene and other brave souls are willing to stand up and declare, "Enough!"

I loved the vindication in the Help. How prejudice is thwarted, or at least addressed. But, I think, it is also a good metaphor for us as Christians. We are surrounded by evil and godless men and women, like Hilly, like ourselves at times, too culturally or familially entrenched to even recognize the dark blemishes of our own souls,  who bully and terrorize and snuff out the light wherever they go. And yet, we are called to confront it, like Abilene is. Not in anger and ugliness, but with humility- "You are a godless woman, Miss. Hilly...aren't you tired? Aren't you tired?" Beautifully played Viola Davis! I hope you win an emmy and kudos in heaven for showing the face of God to us as he looks at our ugliness and pleads with us to give it up.

She leaves us with this profound thought: love our enemies. "But Lord, it is hard." Oh yeah, Sistah, preach that. Especially when they are dressed up and fancy and the world applauds them and we appear as nothing.

Kuddos to Kathryn Stockett for addressing a difficult topic, prejudice,so beautifully, and for addressing the human condition with tenderness and compassion  (and for doing whatever she did to keep the movie so closely tied to the elegance of the book), the Kendrick Bros for staying in the fight in a dark and powerful kingdom, an unnamed monk who saved countless lives from destruction in the games, and countless souls from participating in Godlessness.

Art as worship, life as sacrifice. A blessed Sabbath!

Friday, August 12, 2011


In my life this week…It's been Project-ville around here...

Canning: peaches, grape juice, pickled beets, jam and grape jelly.

Shanty to Chic

Harvesting: It's been a very mediocre gardening year. Lots of regulars just couldn't take the cold wet spring and then the brutish heat. Our big win was the cabbage. We are starting to harvest tomatoes and we've been eating bruschetta nightly *(yum!) but I'm not sure how much they'll be left to make into salsa or bruschetta for the winter. Still waiting on the eggplant and we might (crossing fingers) have some squash at the end of it all.

Shanty shelf: It looks much like the picture here, but I am using different hooks and, of course, am experiencing technical difficulties. I really like it because I used the old bead board siding from the back porch and a scrap piece of birch wood from the kitchen re-build.

Created World Conflict Cards.

In our homeschool this week…
The kids did lots of phys ed (i.e. jumped on the tramp), watched Jane Austen videos, had water balloon fights. Feeche wrote and wrote and wrote for hours. Cub jumped on board and wrote for hours. Flower and I have a nightly date with Laura Ingalls Wilder. We are amazed, no matter how many times we read the series, at how the pioneers carved lives out for themselves with a few hand-tools and lots of perseverance.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Not far to the front yard for evenings around the fire pit. Dusk is getting cooler and coming sooner.
Feeche is going to Back to DC in just over a month, followed by Challenge. We are trying to work out a visit with grandparents and keep it all reasonable as far as time and money goes. He'll be wearing suit and tie in Washington for a week and then BDU's in GA. Whipslash, or teen adrenaline rush.

I’m cooking…
Bruschetta. Summer in a bowl!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
KB is an arteest, don't you agree?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Before & After



Easiest ever grape juice. In quart jar: 1 cup washed and de-stemed grapes, add between 1/3- 1 cup sugar (the more sugar you add, the longer it will keep). Fill to 3/4" of top with hot water. Hot water bath. The longer it sits, the more concentrated it becomes. Dilute to taste.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The concept of "batching" is profound, imho. It's what made Henry Ford famous (it wasn't the car, it was the assembly line, dontcha' know), what Cheryl Lindsey wrote about years ago in the now defunct Gentle Spirit and what Tim Ferris goes on about in The 7HWW.
Batching is effective because set-up and break-down cost as much in terms of time and energy for 1 run as for several. Having worked on the house re-build I can attest to that. Getting set-up well often takes just as much time as whatever actual project we are working on (hence, the lack of pictures for the porch yet- it is still our staging area for all of the wood - working/painting/reclaimation projects we are doing).

Things we are batching:
the aforementioned wood-working projects. Last week-end Viking Man repaired a couple sets of drawers, finished the wall for the lockers on the porch and made 2 screens for porch windows. The kids and I also built cube bookshelves, art clips, a shabby shelf and library cart last week.
Painting projects: 2 many 2 mention. Spray paint is my new best friend. I'm partial to black these days. Cub actually called me obsessed. Hey black is a timeless classic, I'm not obsessed, I'm...passionate. It's easy peasy to line everything up, paint or spray away and then wash all of the brushes at the same time.
School Projects: Getting curriculum decisions made, our school area set-up to be effective, tools created or gathered. HOTM "not back to school blog hop" is great incentive to get things in order. Today I'm making Major World Conflict cards (we're doing world history overview) using Amy Pak's Homeschooling in the Woods CD's and Drew Campbell's Living Memory.
Gardening Projects: Canning, drying and freezing, though we are mainly eating it as we harvest or canning- just not enough freezer space to share. Yesterday KB, Feeche and I canned 30 quarts of grape juice, 2 gal of grape wine, 13 pints of jam/jelly, made a quart of Pesto and prepared 5 lb's of beets for pickling. We got a ton done and we were tired at the end of the day but overall it was easy for a couple of reasons: the kids know how to can (home ec at the Gracious Heart Homestead is fairly comprehensive), they know how to work hard, they are invested in organic, whole food; we don't buy juice 'cause it blows the grocery budget but they all love juice. It helps to get a ton done when you have motivated help : ).
Writing Projects: I have some deadlines coming up; the kids know it and have stuff to do while I'm doing that.
Classes to b taught: fall is fast approaching. I have material gathered and will be setting up time to get it honed and have been mulling. Soon, very soon, I'll be setting aside an afternoon to create a syllabii.

I have found that in order to really get stuff done it's important, for me anyway, to write things down. If I don't write it down I'll forget or get stuff out of order, or only accomplish 1/2 of what I'd planned on. It's also important to gather your supplies before you start. There is nothing more frustrating than to be in the middle of a project and realize that you have to stop and go to the store or that the jam is going to jell in the pot, rather than the jar, becasue you don't have enough lids.

What are you batching these days?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

School Room!

I know I promised pictures of the porch. I am experiencing technical difficulties with those, but hope to get them posted soon. In the mean-time, how 'bout I wow you with pictures of our dining room homeschool room?
from back of kitchen looking into dining room.
It's "School Room Week" at HOTM and I've been getting stuff ready.. But before we go there I just want to take a trip down memory lane. These pictures are of our dining room just last year. This is an improvement from where we started from:
From living room, looking into dining room.

From basement floor, looking up into the dining room. No floor, no wall.
This is the 18' cutaway. You are looking into the dining room from here. Crazy, eh?

 And here it is now, from the living room, looking into the dining room. It's also where the majority of our school work takes place. Yes, we do school on the couch, the porch and outside (I know the tramp will be a new fav place!)  but we start most days at the table and the notsolittles and I spend most mornings in this corner of our world.

 Here's our new library cart, complete with wheels. The space above it is bare now but that's where whatever we use as a white-board will go. I'm considering using one of the old long windows that we replaced. That, or a piece of Plexiglas. The week's memory work will go there.
One of the built in bookshelves in the living room. Each kid will get their own, or a couple. DVD's we use go on one shelf (Latin, TC, etc) and bins to hold the VP and other flash cards.

 The 2nd built in, complete with world map. I'll put the book upright once I get everything here and sorted by kid or subject.

 The newly refurbished buffet now houses art supplies.

 The art clips are on the back side of one of the built ins. I attached them with command strips and we'll put our VP history and Bible cards for the week on them. The basket houses the CD's that we'll be utilizing this year.

As this is, as my friend Shari puts it, "Command Central." The desk is loaded with paper and supplies and our links to the outside world.

Maybe by next year I'll have my dream homeschool area next to the stairs. It's pretty crowded right now 'cause our bed is still there, but this is still the plan. It's just taking a while to realize it...

Oh, and this little number. I'm in love. Haven't created it yet but it's on the project list. Got get a couple of other ideas to knock out first.

Are you ready for the new year? What's your best homeschool room idea?
Don't forget to stop by HOTM to check out more great home school rooms!
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer Crunch

1. Really nailed down our curriculum picks for the year (thanks to HOTM for their yearly "Not back to school blog hop" kick in the pants) along with a shopping list.
2. I also started putting together our memory work for the year. I'm using stuff from Living Memory, MP study guides, IEW's poetry. Since the kids are doing a World History overview I am making my own "major conflicts" flash cards using google images. We'll also be doing both history and bible cards from Veritas Press, poetry level III from IEW, Latin and science. That might be enough.
3. Construction central this week. We finished the art clips, 2nd library cart, cubbie bookshelves and...

4.....TA DA, the porch! I really, really have to figure out how to scan the pictures from the fire so that I can do before and after pics that show the real before (before we ionized, kilzed, bleached, drywalled and otherwise thoroughly sanitized every.stinking  (literally)centimeter  of the place. Otherwise check back tomorrow for pics cause I want to get it put together before I start snapping photos of it.

5. Had a blast at a free Go Fish concert this past Wednesday, complete with Dave the Horn Guy (unbelievable creative)and Denver and the Mile High Orchestra. I'm a bandie and choir nerd from way back and this is my kind of music. Great stuff

The theme of the concert was to bless folks with family friendly free music. Go Fish self describes as "the Christian Wiggles." Whatever. Good clean fun with music that rocks.

6. It's been a Jane themed summer as Flower has been watching Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion as often as I'll let her. She does a GREAT imitation of several of the characters. Once we're done with the Little House series I think we'll take a turn with Jane by book.

7. "The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified. So, the community of the cross is a community of celebration, a Eucharistic community, ceaselessly offering to God through Christ the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving. The Christian life is an unending festival." John Stott
Two instances this week of fellow believers who live in completely different parts of the country who deliberately withdrew the hand of fellowship from a brother or sister in Christ with no explanation, no word, nada. I laugh cynically. Does one forget that we'll be spending eternity together? How will we avoid each other then?
Gossip and offense is more the norm within the church than unending festivities. It's no wonder to me that the body isn't healing, saving, witnessing, delivering. We are so war torn from within, willy-nilly doing damage to each other and the testimony of Christ by our own unwillingness to confront in love, live sacrificially and show gratitude to each other. The church has become a business and as a result we've failed at the business of the cross. Do we have to choose between shallow uninvovlement and burning offense?!
I think often of the line in Narnia when the White Witch goes to Azlan to demand the blood of Edmund,"You have a traitor among you!" Azlan responds, "His offense was not against you." And yet so often people are offended for each other. Maybe it's the years of counseling my husband has done but we are both so keenly aware that there is always more than one side of the story and communication problems are the purview of the enemy. 
It's not comfortable- going to someone and asking them if I've offended them in any way. I've done it a couple of times, far more if you count family members. It is not on my list of fav things to do. On 2 occasions the person I was talking to said something to the effect that, "oh no, everything is just fine." Words are cheap, though, and behaviorally nothing changed. Still the same avoidant behavior, the same lack of connection. It boils down to uunwillingness to do hard things and live ones faith out loud. argh.
So, yeah, I'd like to get to the place of unending festival. Anyone else find the addy? lmk.

P.S. Don't forget to stop by HOTM on Monday!   

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Art Clips

My latest (finished) project.

1 x 2" strip of wood with clothes pins, spray paint everything and glue the pins every several inches (more details at Ana White's site if you need them). The most time consuming part of this project was taking apart the clothes pins and putting them back together again for the painting.
I made one for Feeche, Cub and Flower  but now I'm thinking I should have made one for the VP history cards and one for the VP Bible cards. My big dilemma these days is wall space. We have lots of light in our house, owing to the gazillion windows. Given the length of winter here I am NOT complaining but it does pose a conundrum when looking for places to hang the world map and oddities such as art clips.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer School Shop Class

 Cube bookshelves via Ana White's site. We made 2 - one for Flower's room and one for Cub's. The 2nd one we ended up way off on the measurements and had to basically take it apart 1/2 way through and start over.  Wood glue works great. We had to hammer out the messed up cubbies. 

I was the master plan reader and director. Feeche and I took turns with the drill and Cub and Flower manned the glue and finishing nails.

 Love them.

And here is the 2nd library cart that we made. The first one we built from scraps and it showed. This one was made out of decent lumber. The lumber yard in our small town graciously made the straight cuts for us. I did the corner rounds and handles. The paint was 2 bucks on the mis-mixed rack at UBuildIt but the kids and I decided we actually liked the color. And, it's a nice complement to all of the yellow and browns we have going on. We are going to add wheels to this little baby, and Flower would like to add clouds. The votes still out on that one.

What do you think?