Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Blessed Christmas

For Christmas,

Every year is so special in different ways. I am so blessed this day, its all because of Jesus who has turned ashes to beauty in my life, the hope and peace he has brought into my life. He is why we celebrate this day, without him there would be no light in this world and no hope to rest in. Please consider the following words,.... if Jesus never came, I read the following passage today and it was very thought provoking to consider without Christ there would be no Christmas yet so many celebrate it without him as I did for many years. Now that I know my Saviour in a personal way, Christmas has become so much more special than ever before. So I just had to share this. 
This is taken from the Streams in the Desert Daily Devotional
Christ our Consolation
“His name shall be called Emmanuel . . . God with us.” (Matt. 1:23) .
“The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
“There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer,
And a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire
While the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King.”
A few years ago a striking Christmas card was published, with the title, “If Christ had not come.” It was founded upon our Saviour’s words, “If I had not come.” The card represented a clergyman falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.
In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out on the public street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Saviour had disappeared.
A ring at the doorbell, and a messenger asked him to visit a poor dying mother. He hastened with, the weeping child and as he reached the home he sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended at Malachi, and there was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.
Two days afterward he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service, but there was no message of consolation, no word of a glorious resurrection, no open Heaven, but only “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” and one long eternal farewell. He realized at length that “He had not come,” and burst into tears and bitter weeping in his sorrowful dream.
Suddenly he woke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing in his church close by:
“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,
O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.”
Let us be glad and rejoice today, because “He has come.” And let us remember the annunciation of the angel, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11).
“He comes to make His blessing flow, Far as the curse is found.”

May our hearts go out to the people who have no blessed Christmas day. “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and SEND PORTIONS TO THEM


Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Monument

Why am I proud of this picture? I know it sounds weird and why should I be proud of dirty dishes towering over the sink area reaching a height taller than me? Because it represents something, it actually represents an accomplishment of a different kind.
I usually maintain the dishes and other house chores quite well (with children's help too) not perfect by any means but it gets done and that is good, but the week I let them go was also good. It was beginning to get very difficult for me to stop and enjoy things, when there is always a meal to put on the table and fifty other tasks its easy to get too busy. That week it was better to not do and it was a something I needed to be reminded of..... we got to accomplish some special things that I will not forget and the dish tower picture is a reminder,  a monument to what is more important.....
 We were given a turkey to raise, we didn't have a place to put her because the chickens would be all mean and gang up on poor Thanksgiving. She would just free range, that was fine at first until we started stepping in the presents she left behind all over the yard. Also the turkey grew fond of Little G and would spend the whole time She was suposed to be schooling, right next to her on the other side of the glass door. G Girl was completely unable to accomplish any work for she was overcome with the turkey's cuteness and could not concentrate, poor thing.

I didn't want to clean anymore shoes, we needed a solution. Good fences make good turkeys.

Big Brother and I printed off dog house plans and planned to start building the following Monday for school.

It took us about 12 hours to complete, working for 2 or three hours everyday of that school week. We rounded up a bunch of scrap lumber from Daddy's stash to piece it together. Big Brother did all the measuring, I learned how to use a skill saw and cut what he measured. Then neither of us having ever built anything, struggled with it and figured it out together. Starting out with screws went well but we quickly ran out after the floor was put together, so it was one nail at a time after that.
It took much motivation and patience which at times did not sound like motivation or patience at all.
What a special time we had.

When the week was over Hubby got to teach Big B how to shingle the roof
with some extra we had. So not one dime was spent and Thanksgiving got a nice new home.

We built a door and placed a nice fence around it...
And Yes, every night I still find myself shoving that big turkey in the hole to keep her safe, she has yet to ever go in on her own (but I its just for a little longer).  

In the spring he will teach him how to cedar shingle to give it siding.
What were the other kids doing that week you ask? No worries there was industry
going on inside too. Praise was preparing for her first upcoming craft fair and making jewelry like crazy, I would jump in and help with some wire cutting when I came in after building. Little G was painting, reading and also making some earrings of her own to sell.
Little Buddy was mostly "helping" outside with the building project.

We ended that special week with her first craft fair (mine too) that Saturday. She did so well.
If you want to see some of her work she has an Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TrueForgetMeNot
I am so proud of the people my children are becoming. And so thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling. And the refresher course that its okay to drop the textbooks, math and writing assignments.... and the dishes, and the laundry, ...yes, and even the picking up once in a while, in order to gain real life skills and memories that will last our entire lives.
Just spending that time together was such a gift. That was something I was forgetting in the big scheme of things that sometimes-- to not do is needed.
So once again, a bigger version this time, here is my photographic monument to 'not doing' 
and I am proud of it. 
I do have to admit that I took the picture after cleaning the area just a tiny bit, but I wish I hadn't!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Harvest Photos

Here are a few of my favorite photos from this summer and fall.
This is some of what we were doing when I was too busy to update my blog.
delicious strawberry jam making

Our first canning project of the year.

The children took part in a pumpkin growing contest this summer, the seeds were supplied by Johnny's Select Seed Company donated to our local greenhouse for kids to plant. There were several categories, my son won 1st place in judges choice and my daughter won third for smallest pumpkin.
Seamus' surprised face when he won 1st place in the judges choice category


My champion pumpkin growers.

Praise made two beautiful pies out of the award winning pumpkins.

Apple pie filling. yum.

While I was canning apple pie filling, Little G was dilligently making biscuits. This is a Daddy biscuit.

A leopard biscuit
We harvested rosehips at the ocean

Showing Grace how to can rosehip jelly

fun in the kitchen

Hot peppers grown in the garden.

Beautiful cob

corn, corn, and more corn


Last days in the garden:

We carved into the pumpkins when they were tiny, this is my son's that won 1st place.

In the weedy pumpkin patch


Going home with some of our abundance.

My tomatoes that only grew two red tomatoes,... maybe next year. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gallon Guys and Organization

A few homeschooling mommies and I have joined up and created a Homeschool co-op, where we get our kids together twice a week for lessons, doing everything from math to Maine history to Spanish. This was one of the first lessons we did with the younger class "Gallon Guy and Gallon Girl". We were preparing for a field trip to an apple orchard and giving the kids an understanding of measurements.
 My middles really enjoyed seeing how cups, pints, quarts, and gallons fit together. My oldest son was so interested, we got home, he did a study all on his own of other measurements he could find from the largest, a tonne (also known as metric ton, which is 1000 kilograms), 
down to the smallest (the milligram which is 1/1000th of a gram,
or 1/1000th of a quarter of a teaspoon) and everything in between.

 He also decided to add to his Gallon Guy; gills (which are equal to half a cup), and ounces (4 ounces to every gill), and taught his little sister about gills and had her add them to her Gallon Girl. Notice her not-so-circular head? That's because she has a bun. 
 (I used the idea from a website of which I can't find, but do a google search on "Gallon Man" and tons will come up.)

Below is a picture of victory,

My homeschool closet.
This picture was taken a few days ago, after 1 1/2 months of use it still looks relatively the same as the day my husband built the shelves for me and everything was organized before the start of the school year, with the exception for a few loose papers and toys. 
What a hero he is for building those shelves!
Each kid has their own bin (second shelf from the bottom) to hold their everyday work; notebooks, current books they're reading, math books, their own pencil box, and anything else that pertains. Its been really nice to have it in one place. It has been a common occurrence in past years for them simply not to know where they left a certain book, it got pretty frustrating either having to hunt for a long time for the needed book or to have to come up with a replacement until the lost
book was found again, urghh!
They also each have their own three ring binder (on the next shelf up) that I put empty clear sheet protectors into. When the kids complete some notebooking or writing assignment, art, anything we file the paper in the sheet protector, in the section of the binder pertaining to the subject. Because, we don't do much workbook material its a great way to compile a beautiful portfolio of their work for the year. We've done the binders for several years now and the kids still enjoy going back and looking through what they worked on, its kind of like looking through a scrapbook. And its a great way for me to see that we are actually accomplishing things. At the end of the year when I need the most encouragement it really helps to see it all together.
I have a three drawer plastic thing on the bottom shelf for my own use where I can stash papers for filing later, lesson ideas, ect.
 Extra notebooks in one section, crayons and color pencils in a little tote, math manipulatives in a bin, a bin for different card games,... on and on,
and totally not school related; a place for video game controllers.
 I'm so excited to finally have a system to help things run more smoothly.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What I Love About, and How I've Used: "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons"

School has begun again. I am renewed and excited for the year ahead. My littlest one is big enough to start preschool now, I was so excited to be able to take out, once again, one of my favorite learning tools of all time Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
It is a dear old friend, with its worn pages colored on with crayons, taped cover and tea stains.. It has helped me teach my three oldest to read and now we begin again on this journey with my youngest who is eager to be a big boy and loves the one on one time.
 I want to share about the book, how I have used it, and how it has worked for us.
When a friend recommended this book and gave it to me about 6 1/2 years ago, I have to admit my initial excitement died away when I opened it. I was overwhelmed by what seemed to be complex directions inside. So it went on the shelf while I searched for something else. Another friend recommended it and I heard about how So and So, who taught her kids to read...I eventually picked it up and actually read the introduction. It helped me understand that simplicity is the goal for the lessons and what seemed difficult was actually very simple.  So reluctantly, but hopeful I gave it a try.

              When you open up to lesson one you will see that there are red and black letters.  The red is intended to be your words speaking to your child, directions for them to follow throughout the lesson. I my opinion it feels natural and quite comfortable to read them to my child and wait for their response, which should be something like what is written in the black letters. Most of the time the lessons hum along smoothly lasting 10 - 15 minutes. The book begins by teaching letter sounds(completely ignoring names) and using little games like "say it fast", where you say a word vveerrry ssllloowwly. The child then is to repeat the word back to you quickly. And "say it slow", where you say the word slowly again and the child then repeats back as slow as he can focusing on pronouncing each sound and the way they blend together. Each lesson ends with "sounds writing" where the child is given a few letters to copy at first and works up to more each time. The book advances quickly continuously building upon the previous lesson where they begin blending in lesson 3. The first little "story" they read is in lesson 13 consisting of 3 words. Ending with Lesson 100 which is at a 2nd grade reading level, which I will have to admit we have never gotten to (more to come on why).
This is a picture of lesson 16's story at the end of the lesson. All of my kids have spent time coloring pictures at the end of a lesson. My kids have all eagerly started, being excited, and wanting to read.
There has been times however, with all of them, when it seems like they're not getting it or not into it.
With my first, I pushed her on and it really made things worse, she was the only one that would fight with me, sometimes to tears, to finish a lesson.
But, I also want to note that now she, out of the three, loves reading the most and will read for hours at a time on a regular basis. So it worked itself out and the hard work has payed off.

I learned though with the next two, that the pushing was not necessary. With them when the going got rough, I would take those times to take a day off and back up about 5 lessons, sometimes more if it was necessary.  I gave them the breather to review what they had already learned, giving them the confidence to move ahead, and it always worked.  Two steps forward 1 step back we continued through easily until we reached around Lesson 50.

Once we got half way through, around Lesson 50, with all of them, there came a time when I felt it was necessary to begin reading easy readers. It gives them a great foundation to have confidence to read in easy reader book with understanding. I think its necessary to take the break here in their learning to gain the familiarity with regular sight words and regular books. So from there we read mostly beginner readers, increasing with difficulty and going back to simple ones to, once in a  while going back to 100 Easy Lessons to supplement their reading further. 
At the end of each lesson I would have them do the writing the book suggested plus some actual words in the lesson, as they advanced so did the amount of writing that was required by me. I felt the book didn't have them write enough. But this was also because it was used as my whole Language Arts Curriculum until they were fluent readers. So I had to beef up the writing. 
This is how we did it, and like I mentioned before I never actually went through every lesson with them, once we got to around 60-70, they had such a strong start with reading and were enjoying the reading so much, I didn't feel it was necessary to finish the entire 100 Lessons. If this book was called "Teach Your Child to Read in 50 Lessons" I would still use it and be super happy about the excellent foundation laid for my children's education.
My littlest is getting a slightly earlier start in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons than the others. I plan on taking the lessons a little slower and repeating them more often. I already notice the word games in the beginning are helping him to pronounce his words more clearly. He's so happy so get that special school time with mommy like his big sisters and brother get.
 It such a joy to look back and see what we've accomplished on this homeschooling journey. Even though days are hard and long sometimes. Remembering and seeing what we have accomplished help me to look forward to what's ahead. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wild Edibles

My little Gracey is into science, nature, and cooking.
She always has been. The books she choses to read before bed are usually scientific
in nature or maybe a cookbook or some animal story.

When the cattails came up this spring we discovered they were edible.
It began a whole journey of discovering new things, common things you see everyday that you can harvest and eat.

                      The first we had to try was the cattails, we went on youtube and learned
when to harvest them and how to cook them in various ways. We only had to go to halfway down the driveway to get some too! We pulled the cattails up from the base when they were only about 1 -2 feet tall, brought it home peeled, cleaned, and cut them to get the most tender part. We placed them in a buttery skillet and  sauted them till tender. They were very good!

This began a fasination with edible food found in the wild including herbs. She and I found a great website http://www.learningherbs.com/.
We found a huge section with free information including a free herbal ebook.
(Yes I had to give them our email address, but they promise to never share it and I have not recieved anything but informative emails from them, and not too many either.)
after downloading the first book, which is great, we were able to get another ebook free, The Wild Foods Cookbook. Gracey and I made a lot of the recipes below is a picture of dandelion pesto. 
we colected the tiny first leaves of the dandelions.

 A week later when the leaves were a tiny bit bigger we collected them and made a nice side dish of sauted dandelion greens, with lemon and chives.  They have a bit of a bitter after
taste but quite delicious.

The next week when the dandelions were budding but not opened yet we collected the buds to make pickled dandelion buds. These we had to wait a few weeks to try but they are really good and not as bitter, great on salad.

The next picture is of the remains of a double batch of dandelion cookies that Grace made. The remaining cookies were eaten shortly after the picture was taken. 

These are just a few of the wonderful things to be found in the book. Now that the wild roses are in bloom there's rose petal honey and syrup to be made and once the rose hips are out there are recipes for those. Also red clover fritters. Not to mention Seaweed, burdock root and some others.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Family Update for May

The month of May has been very busy and eventful for us:

The biggest news is finally closing on our long awaited house. Such an amazing miracle to get the place that perfectly suits the life we want to establish for such a great price. Truely the Lords hand was in this to provide everything we needed litterally down to the last dollars on closing day.

Homeschool art show at the library, we misplaced all the kids art for the year when we moved. So, we had two weeks of art bootcamp in order to have some things to submit. The week after the art show I found all of the missing art....go figure.

Sean loves to help.
 He totters between being a big boy
and being a baby depending on the day.
Thankfully he remains fully potty trained
even on his baby days. 

Praise has been showing incredible talent in polymer clay sculpture and showed an interest in learning to make jewelry. To continue to encourage her we ordered the appropriate tools and she has been taking online tutorials to learn the techniques. She's made her own little business and I helped her open an Esty shop last month. If you haven't seen her work yet you can go to www.facebook.com/TrueForgetMeNotBoutique to see the amazing job she does.
I had so much fun learning right alongside her that day we recieved her new tools in the mail.

 Jamie has been bringing unplained cedar home from the mill and making fun things, big chuncky benches for outside in the gardens. And more wood to make farm fences and a chicken coop. I'm so excited about it.

 Gracey turned 7 last week and we made her a feast with all her favorite foods; fiddleheads, clams, lobster bisque, corn on the cob and we couldn't forget tater tots.
She recieved another stuffed animal for her birthday, this one is special.

I frequently let Praise choose her own reading asignments for Language Arts. Boy, didn't this mom feel proud when she choose to read out of The Complete Works of Shakespeare.
And she loves it, shes on her second comedy!
and this is why she likes them:
"The characters of Shakespeare's plays are like little strings that he wove together
until they are all in one big knot."

My Garden space. We were super blessed; the day we staked it out a man, we dont know, came over with his tractor and tilled it for us. Hopefully we can get some dry days again so I can go over it a few more times our rototiller before planting. 

The next pictures are of The Boys Club.  The Boys Club is a cool club where Daddy shows the boys how to build things and go on adventures. The girls decided they wanted to join too, they had a vote and still want it to be called the boys club. Every member of the club will get their own hammer for joining. The first project was to build a foot bridge for our brook. 

More pictures of the finished project to come.

After six months of good friends taking care of our puppy, we got her back last weekend.
We are all happy to have her back. Sean is the most excited about this and everything is right with the world again.

Hero husband remodeling the kitchen.

Before                                  and                               After

More changes to come in the kitchen but what a difference. I am enjoying cooking again and even dishes!

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