Saturday, June 29, 2013

Brushes and Buckets!

Summer School 'round here has included some brushes and 5 gallons buckets!
The scaffolding has been up for a few days and we've been painting. We are sunburned and tuckered and paint dripped but the house is looking pretty spiffy. Well, some of it is. it gets worse before it gets better, right?

25 feet from ground level.
It's a great day for "UP" (with a nod to the good Dr. Seuss)
 Feeche spent several hours perched there today, getting the attic dormer scraped and primed.
Of course, he had to climb the scaffolding hand over hand, on the outside, to get there. Show off!
And just in case we forgot we were were Prairie dwellers, the wind blew strong and hard, with clear, clear skies. Not sure if we're sunburned or windburned. Can you spot the Feeche under the attic eaves?

The 10 and 13 year old scraped, painted, cleaned, worked, laughed and joked right along with the rest of us. Flower would like a trip to the beach, and Cub would like the largest Lego set known to boy-kind in appreciation for their labor.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Spin Cycle (haven't we been here before?)

I keep thinking I'll write a post on "Summer School" but I haven't found the time yet. This week has speeded by at the speed of sound and my list just grows longer. A couple of kids did Rosetta Stone and listened to Horatius at the Bridge. Feeche and Cub practiced King Lear lines and everyone is reading something. Other than that it's been lots of tramp jumping, Walton watching, art whatevering, sorting, never ending house projecting kind of summer.

Unloaded a couple more bins of books on one of my favorite fellow bibliophiles, Lori (God bless you, Sistah!). Garage sale coming up (yes, I HATE having them) but we still have tons of stuff to off-load and it costs money drive it to town to donate, so there you have it. Next Friday and Saturday.  If you are in the area- stop by and get some cool barn junque, books, furniture, china and anything else I can get past the rest of the family for cheap.

We've also been getting some inquiries on the house, though we haven't advertised yet; which is great and a bit intimidating since we are in the midst of 2 major projects...
(This is Cub acting weird- he's 13, what can I say? Well, this: he is doing an amazing job priming!)
Such as finishing trim and scraping/priming the house. We are taking the bottom's up method to the house as we have ladders NOW and not scaffolding. So we are scraping and then priming by section. Dr. Dh was an officer in the USAF when the motto was "Adapt, Improvise and Overcome" and we have made it our own. We are getting lots of folks driving by reeealll slow. I'm sure they think we are the crazy folks down by the rivah.

Feeche has been working 2 jobs and just garnered a 50% wage increase at one- woot! Which is great for his bank account but leaves my work crew a bit thin. Since he's been out of pocket so much, Cub has been the main ladder man for scraping, priming (see pic above), bin hauling and overall on-call boy. So thankful for kids who know how to work and do so with willing spirits.
Let them eat cake! Actually, I've always thought of cake as a mere vehicle for icing, but lately the only cake anyone 'round here eats is black bean cake (on the menu tonight- with coconut oil, flax seed and honey- delish!).
The Giving Tree Cake
But, as a lit nerd, I had to post this: Cakes inspired by books!
The Giving Tree is one of my fav kid lit picks. And check out the frosting to cake ratio! love it.

Cause we live in the land of the Libertarian out here in the Territories

Check out my latest reviews:
Lilly Lapp books
See the Light
The Simplified Pantry
College Prep Genius
Coming Up: Pickaboo Yearbooks; Dig It; Teen Programming; Molly, the Coupon Coach ; Bible Study for All Ages


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Goodbye, Old Friend

April 1999- June 18, 2013
My Dad bought us Diamond a few months after my Mom died, for all of the August birthdays. She loved the kids and our babies; they would snuggle against her tummy or jump up and down on all 80 lbs of her and she would just lick them and sigh with contentment. She was a Japanese/American Akita mix, with luxuriant fur, a loving disposition and a mind of her own. She was a protective, loving, sweet natured, strong willed bear of a dog. She was the best companion a family could want.
Our family was richer because she was our pooch. Rest well, dear friend. We love you.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lilly Lapp Books- TOS Review

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Baker Publishing Group generously offered the first 2 books in the Lilly Lapp series to review:
Cover Art Cover Art
We were going to read these books as read-alouds. That didn't happen. We read one chapter together and then Flower took off with them, leaving me to go searching for them to write this review. Flower would wake up in the morning and read in her room till I called her down, take them upstairs near bed-time and read in her room until I turned off the light and sit on the porch, surrounded by her stuffed animals and read, read, read. She has spent the past couple of weeks regaling me with excerpts from the books, asking about various things she's reading, and letting me know that she might consider being Amish when she's older. Did she love these books? Yes, she did! Do I? Absolutely!
I tell you all of this because, while Flower loves to read, she hasn't jumped into chapter books on her own much. While she was initially overwhelmed by the page numbers of both (261 and 276 pages) once she was engaged in the story, page numbers didn't matter and she flew through both in a matter of weeks.
Each chapter was a different story, but the overall sense of the book was a comprehensive view of Lilly's life growing up as an Amish girl in modern America. Here's a Flower's take:
"I liked the characters. My favorite character would be the cow, Jenny. She said stuff through her eyes, and Lilly loved the cow. She was part of the family. Same with the dog. Jenny would get in to mischief and then act like nothing happened.
Lilly's very likable, and she's funny and loves animals. She kind of reminded me of myself. The funniest story was about her billy-goat (in the 2nd book) and Lilly gets stuck on the horns, she's panicking and the goat is trying to toss her around. The mom bursts out laughing at her and Lilly is like- why is she laughing?!"
These are delightful book that show a real slice of American life from the perspective of a Plain person. We'll be purchasing Books 3 and 4 in the series as soon as they hit the shelves. For a fun peek at what Lilly's life is like, check out The Adventures of Lilly Lapp and for more good reading, check out the authors blog: A Joyful Chaos.

Both books are available as paperback or ebook for $12.99 and are appropriate for upper elementary (though they'd be a great read-aloud for youngers and a great resource for those doing research at any age!).

Content -excellent
Presentation -excellent
Organization -excellent
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Sunday, June 16, 2013


If you are looking to soak in good words this summer, consider reading Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead. I loved Lawhead's retelling of the Rhi Bran y Hud  (Robin Hood) so much that Feeche gave me Byzantium for Christmas a couple of years back. But the text was small and every time I started it, I just couldn't overcome the eye strain. Drama camp found me book free for the week and a few pages into it and I didn't notice the font size.

A delightful romp through Medieval history as only Lawhead can dish it. The readers follows the life of a Brother Aidan as he makes pilgrimage to, of all places, Byzantium, to deliver the beautiful book of Kells to the emporer. Along the way, he and his little band of brothers have one grand adventure after another, culminating in a crisis of faith and purpose for the good Bro. He is confronted with intrigue, betrayal and faith masquerading as politics; Sheiks, torture, Sea Wolves and more.

What made this such a good read? Lawhead is not only a imitable historian, but a master of description and characterization. There were no simplistic people or places in this book. The author covers a lot of territory but does justice to time and places in a way that helps the reader to understand the complexity of life in 900 A.D. This is a book about journey; journey to a place in time, but also a journey of faith, and what owning a faith of meaning costs and ultimately means. A beautiful book (and at over 800 pages, my chunkster for the year)- highly recommended. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Time Schedule

An absolutely terrific article from my fellow earth mother, artist, therapist friend, Nancy.
Love this Pope for so many reasons. This is just one more.
I was out of pocket  a lot this week, which means my black board filled in for me. This rocking one, that Feeche and I made together. The list included Rosetta Stone, listening to Horatius at the Bridge, Adventus, Computer Programming, reading, daily jobs, scraping and priming the house. We're definitely on summer schedule and the kids have had plenty of time to do what they do, but we are still getting stuff done.

So: the house- Trim work; check. House scraping; check; Attic purging; check. We took 4 carloads to our friends garage sale last week and came back with 1 + a few extras and lots of cash. Love that. We're planning on doing another one here in 2 weeks so if you are looking for cool barn junque, antique windows, etc. be sure to show up!

Our crazy diet expands as we are now buying hormone free meat. Store bought chicken makes me nauseous. The smell of it cooking, and cooked just make me sick. Same with eggs. I can't stand them. But I'm married to a man, and have borne some kids, that are meat eaters. When they don't get it, they die (well, sort-of. Reality is that it's better for everyone if they eat meat). The organic chicken actually tastes like chicken (vs. rubber) has the chicken smell I remember from Grandma's house and is not nausea inducing. Yes, it costs more. Short term. Another front end-load investment.
On an on-line discussion about how to Get Things Done, someone asked to see my 5x7 cards. Here they are, in all of their end-of-semester glory. Pretty used, bruised, and battered.
The codes are TB (text book), WB (workbook) DVD, TC (Tutoring Center), Comp (Computer Program), MP3, RA (Read-Aloud), CD, MW (Memory work)
The areas are math, science, history, English, art.
You can vaguely tell that it's not fancy or complicated. It's just a simple, straightforward way to keep track of what needs done.
You can also vaguely see things crossed out. The kids take great delight in completion. A job well done (and finished : ), is a good feeling!
Reading the Bible Narcissistically. Great reading from Tullian Tchividjian.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Scraping Fools

We've got ourselves a little summer project going on....
In between practicing lines for King Lear (Shakespeare Camp, coming up!)  we are purging all of the nooks and crannies of extraneous stuff and scraping the house.
Between the old wood, the old paint and the dust my allergies have held council and are suing for divorce.
Can anyone say, every morning headache?
I think we will soon out distance the safety of our ladders- going to scaffolding soon.
Mom's rule #1 of house painting: No falls or broken anything.
Take a good look at how bad it is, 'cause in no time at all, it's gonna be gorgeous!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tickle My Ears Gospel

About 2/3 of the way into this, Jordan gives a powerful message. Check it out!

Springtime - Jordan Elias

 Love the imagery- especially reminds me of The Lady of the Green Girtle, from The Silver Chari. Great stuff.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Drama Camp Week!

This week was Drama Camp (year 14!). We've participated for years and look forward to it each spring! The eled kids practiced Monday through Thursday, with performances on Thursday evening, followed by an ice-cream social. The Jr. and Sr. High schoolers practiced Monday through Friday with performances on Saturday morning, followed by cookies.

Each afternoon found the kids walking to the local park, where Moms and kids picnicked and schemed of ways to draw out the days. We arrived home late each afternoon, to a messy kitchen and tired kids.

Yet we still found time to read (imagine that?) Flower finished up the first of the Lilly Lapp books and loved them. When she wasn't reading or practicing her lines, she was busy relaying events of Lilly's life to me. This is a delightful series and I can't wait to review it soon! Cub is still buried in the land of hobbits and fairy folk. I put aside Dallas Willard this week to read Stephen Lawhead's Byzantium (full review to come). Total lit love!
It rained and poured so we didn't get much done on the scrapping this week but Dr. Dh is going at the trim like mad. And if it sounds like he's been at it forever, let me 'splain. The trim on the 2nd floor includes trimming out 10 door ways and frames (including closets, attic and bathroom), 8 windows and floor trim on 800 square feet. We kept with the original craftsman style, meaning there is corner round and finish trim around every scrap of 4" or 8" trim. Some of it is at an angle. And it's all hand hammered. It includes hundreds of yards of trim (we would know, we hand stained every inch of it) and is exacting work. Not every one could do it, or do it well. Though my dh might be slow on some things, he is exactingly fastidious and if it looks like it's done by a skilled craftsman at the end of the day, it's 'cause it is. Does my husband rock? Um, yeah. Just a lot.

It's been a blast being part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew this year. I've had the privilege to test drive some brilliant products, met some amazing homeschooling families around the web and the world and learned more about social media. I hope you read and enjoy the curriculum reviews here at GG, but did you know that I only review a small smackling of the actual products reviewed by the Crew each year? Check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog and don't miss a single one!
The kids and I watched Rise of the Guardians last week.I have to say, I thought it was very clever. I'm a story loving fool and I'm always intrigued by new stories that take time tested folk-tales, myths and legends and turn them on their heads a bit. That's exactly what this one did. Clever writing, a tattooed Santa and Hugh Jackman as a boomerang slinging jack-rabbit.  Plus the graphics were great, the boogie man believable but not too creepy and a decent message.What's not to love?
Speaking of rocking husbands we celebrated out 28th wedding anniversary on Friday, the 7th (which is also the day we were married). You know, I get frequent comments on this blog, from friends both near and far. In the past couple of weeks I've received comments that range from "your (meaning my) family is so perfect" (to which I both groan and laugh - seriously, that was laughter, not hysteria!) to something so mean I won't repeat it here. We are neither so good, or so ugly, as described. We are this: a man and a woman, who share one faith in a Risen Christ (as Lamott so aptly describes, "our beautiful, brown-eyed Savior), trying to be obedient to our Lord and Savior in a fallen world, amongst fallen people (including ourselves). It's not easy. It's not always rewarding. At times it's incredibly painful and so worrisome it makes me want to crawl under the covers with hard liquor. We have and do make mistakes, mis-understand and are fallible. But we are faithful, as much as we know how to be. To each other, to Jesus Christ, to our family, and to those tasks and ministries that we've been called. We have discovered that faithfulness; to faith, scripture or each other, is not always highly valued. And in this day and age of shifting meaning and every man and woman for themselves, perhaps even less so.
I truly believe that the person that you decide to marry is the second most important decision that a person will ever make. And frankly, despite my husband's big nose, irritating ability for exactitude and intensity, I'm supremely grateful that we had the good sense to marry each other. Because when all else is lost, he sees the art in me, and I see the art in him. Which is rare and wonderful gift.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Motherboard Books- TOS Review

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We recently had the chance to review Let's Make a Web Page, created by the owner of Motherboard Books, Phyllis Wheeler. Her vision for her company is simple: “ computer literacy in every homeschool. ” While we are techno-savvy enough to make our way around the inter-net and a bit more, we aren't computer geeks by any means. That being said, I'm always on the look-out for resources to hand my kids so that they can make their way around the Internet with more aplomb than me.

This program is just the ticket. While it is geared for kids aged 8-12, I had all 3 kids at home use it, despite the fact that their ages range from 10-18.  Feeche (18), went through the entire course in one sitting, Cub (13) took a couple of days, Flower (10)  was a bit more reticent about the course, but went through it with no problem. The program consists of a 60-page ebook and encourages fun and exploration. In addition, there are safety tips included for parents. It's great for kids (or adults) of all ages who want to have more mastery on-line, and for a mere $19.95, it's affordable enough for about everyone.

The course is as straightforward as the price and includes the following chapters:

Table of Contents: Introduction for Parents
Lesson 1: An Interview
Lesson 2: Download and Set Up the Program
Lesson 3: Add Text
Lesson 4: Make a Table
Lesson 5: Add Photo
Lesson 6: From the Internet, Add Animations
Lesson 7: Browser Check, Backgrounds, Photos
Lesson 8: Sound
Lesson 9: Links
Lesson 10: Post Your Work
Appendix: How to Upload to the Internet

We appreciated the ease of use with this course, the relaxed writing style and the affordability. It utilizes a free software from Coffee Cup, so once you purchase the course and download the free software, it's just a matter of sitting down and following the directions.

One of the major bonuses about this course, from my point of view, was the fact that the kids can work independently; it is just that easy to use. Honestly, I look for curriculum like this: effective, inexpensive, muli-age and grade, and something the kids can use independently. It's not that I don't like working with them, it's that the skills that they will need to know go way beyond my scope and ability. And because computer skills are a must have in today's world, you owe it to yourself to check this one out and see if it's a good fit for your family's needs.

Motherboard Books offer several other products, including a free internet scavenger hunt. If you really want to inspire your kids to computer creativity, have them check out Motherboard's gallery.  I was impressed to see kids as young as age 9 featured! I also want to draw your attention to the Motherboard Blog (cause we're blog lovers, right?!) as well as the tutorials. You'll be glad to know that this product comes with a satsifaction guarantee, as well as support if needed. What's to lose? Motheboard books is a gentle introduction to creating a web-page, even without previous computer knowledge.

Content -excellent
Presentation -excellent
Organization -excellent


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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Drama Camp 2013!

Another year of Drama Camp!
Flower was a little old lady in a re-telling of an old fairy tale; "Finn McCool."
Cub was E.Z. Bucks in "Queen of the Silent Scream, " an incredibly fun mystery caper.
(My pics came out terrible so I'm borrowing some from Ana!)

This is the 14th year of drama camp, started in a back-yard, now including about 80 kids, 3 eled plays and 3 Jr. and Sr. High school plays, with paid directors. Many of these kids also participate in our yearly Shakespeare Camp and annual Tantara Festival of One Act Plays. Good stuff, eh?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Becoming a Disciple of Jesus

To become a disciple of Jesus is to accept now that inversion of human distinctions that will sooner or later be forced upon everyone by the irresistible reality of his kingdom How must we think of him to see the inversion from our present viewpoint? We must, simply, accept that he is the best and smartest man who ever lived in this world, that he is even now “The prince of the kings of the earth” (Rev 1:5). Then we heartily join his cosmic conspiracy to overcome evil with good.

Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy