Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some more special gifts...

16. Jeb in complete awe over the sunset tonight.
17. An excited, "You pray, mommy, I already have."
18. Caleb riding up on his tricycle, looking at the sunset. Instead of thanking God for the sunset, he thanks God for the food.
19. Jeb did not have a kiss for me, but he had a hug for me "with my name on it".
20. Lora nursing quietly in the dim room, with coos and giggles.

Advent Arrives on Sunday

I am really excited about the arrival of advent on Sunday. This will be the first year that we have celebrated this special time of remembrance and expectation in our home. I have been making preparations for about three weeks now. I have purchased an advent wreath and gathered activities for us to do as a family each day of advent.

We are also making a Jesse tree this year. I plan on finding a small limb with several smaller branches and putting it in a flower pot for our Jesse tree.

We are going to hide small gifts in the living room each night and turn off the lights and let the boys look for them with their flashlights.

My mom purchased a set of proclamation ornaments and we will put one on the tree each night and read the corresponding scripture.

Here is our first week of advent plans:

Saturday: Hide small gift for flashlight/treasure hunt Mark 12:41-44
Proclamation Ornament #1-Son of God

Sunday: Jesse Tree ornament #1 stump with branch Isaiah 11:1
Flashlight Treasure Hunt/Grape Gum Candy John 2:1-10
Lighting of first advent candle: Hope (see below)
Proclamation Ornament #2 Seed of Woman

Monday: Jesse Tree ornament #2-World
Flashlight Treasure Hunt/Smiley Face Matthew 5:1-12
Re-lighting of first advent candle/review
Proclamation Ornament #3 Savior

Tuesday: Jesse Tree Ornament #3-Apple and Snake
Flashlight Treasure Hunt/Cut-Out Fish Luke 5:4-7
Re-lighting of first advent candle/review
Proclamation Ornament #4 Born of a Virgin

Wednesday: Jesse Tree Ornament #4-Ark and Rainbow
Flashlight Treasure Hunt/Birthday Candles Matt. 5:14-16
Re-lighting of first advent candle/review
Proclamation Ornament #5 Born in Bethlehem

Thursday: Jesse Tree Ornament #5-Tent and Camel
Flashlight Treasure Hunt/Small Bell Mark 7:31-37
Re-lighting of first advent candle/review
Proclamation Ornament #6 The Way Prepared

Friday: Jesse Tree Ornament #6-Cradle
Flashlight Treasure Hunt/Goldfish Crackers Matt. 14:13-21
Re-lighting of first advent candle/review
Proclamation ornament #7 Teacher

Saturday: Jesse Tree Ornament #7-Ram
Flashlight Treasure Hunt/Cotton Balls Matt. 8:23-27
Re-lighting of first advent candle/review
Proclamation Ornament #8 Deliverer and Healer

Advent Wreath Devotion: Hope

Read: Isaiah 9:2

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the
shadow of death
a light has dawned."

Luke 1:30-33

"But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

Just as Israel was in darkness and needed a Savior, we are in darkness with our sin and our only hope is Jesus! I want my children to understand the hope we have in Christ with the lighting of the first candle. We have hope because the baby named Jesus was born and grew into the perfect God/man who died for our sins. We also have hope for the future because when we come to know Christ, we are part of his kingdom that will never end.

*I would like to invite another family for supper one night each week during advent to share in our celebration.
*A special thanks to Ambleside Year 0 group for all of the ideas and encouragement on advent!

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Thankful Heart

11. A thunderstorm
12. Chris will be with us all weekend.
13. A shopping date with Chris today.
14. The excitement on the faces of our children when we go to pick them up from their grandparents house.
15. The nice lady in the mall who looks at me pushing Lora in the stroller and Jeb and Caleb walking on each side and says, "You have a beautiful family."

I am so glad I've started thinking about the gifts God gives me each day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


6. Three warm, wiggly bodies waking me before dawn.
7. "Mommy, I love you", in the stillness of the morning.
8. The third day in a row that we have enjoyed a picnic lunch.
9. A much needed nap this afternoon!
10. Rain! Rain! Rain!

Thinking about God's gifts each day is truly a blessing. I am in the midst of planning our activities for observing advent. I have sooo much running through my mind! It's nice to be still and reflect.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gifts, Gifts, Gifts.......

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

I need to do this! I must focus in on the gifts God gives me each day. Lately, I seem to be irritable and have been complaining more than I would like. I need to look for the little reminders of God's love and blessings that he bestows on me daily. If I can focus on the daily gifts my mind will be renewed and my heart refreshed.

1. Little, bright blue eyes looking at me in the early hours of the morning.
2. "Hey, Mommy"; "What son?"; "I love you", he replies for no reason at all.
3. Caleb saying a prayer, thanking God for me, Chris, Lora Kate and Jeb.
4. A refreshing picnic on a beautiful autumn day.
5. Fall leaves-gold, red, yellow, orange

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A System or a Method

Method implies two things-a way to an end, and a step-by-step progress in that way.
A System easier than a Method- A 'system of education' is an alluring fancy;....,because it is pledged to more definite calculable results.

-Charlotte Mason, Home Education pg.8-9

What exactly is the difference between a system and a method? Which one do I need to use in the education of my children at home?

I think the difference between a method and a system as Charlotte Mason refers to them is a little clearer for me since I have a background in the public education system. I taught in a public school kindergarten from 2001-2004. I had as few as 17 students at one time and as many as 21. I was fortunate enough to teach in a school system that was in the top ten in our state in test scores. I say fortunate, because the school system had many resources.

With 21 students in a classroom, using a system is unavoidable. A system looks something like this: I must teach 1... 2... 3.... in this particualar way that I have chosen and mark it off the list as accomplished. I can then quickly access the students for understanding and move on the next item on the list. There is comfort in a system. What I need to do is all layed out in front of me with little boxes for me to check when I am finished.

A method is different in that it gives a goal. My goal is to teach my child to read. The way I go about this goal is left up to my child. If my child cannot move as quickly as I would like I slow to his pace. If a child is learning to read quickly we move ahead building confidence in reading. yet offering challenges. This is what is soooo difficult to do in a classroom. One year I had a kindergarten student reading on a 2nd-3rd grade level. In the same classroom were several non-readers, as well as many reading on a kindergarten level. How in the world do you offer challenges, remediation and teach on grade-level at the same time? I did what I could while working with children in small groups.

Will a system work? Yes, but it doesn't leave much room for children to become passionate about a subject. As soon as this topic has been covered, it's time to move on to the next topic on my checklist.

A method allows children to develop an interest in a particular idea and nourish that idea as much as is needed. A child is making progress toward a set goal, but they way he gets there is more child-directed instead of teacher directed.

I think I would rather my children learn using a method.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Some things that haven't worked...

In our quest for healthier eating, there have been a few changes that I have made that did not work so well for us. When I started reading about traditional food preaparations, I read that grains were sprouted before making breads, etc. Well instead of sprouting my own grain, I bought sprouted grain bread from the health food store. It has never been my favorite, but I can eat it. The boys did not seem to mind the drier taste. I guess it's because we put mayo or mustard on our sandwhiches for a little moisture. Chris cannot stand the sprouted breads. He doesn't eat any condiments on his sandwhich, so I am sure it is rather dry. I have went back to buying the loaves of organic honey wheat or three seed bread. It does make a better sandwhich!

I have tried making bread before. I found a recipe for an artisian loaf of bread made in the oven with my crockpot insert! It was pretty good, but not for sandwhiches. (I need to make some more of that.)

I also have some water Kefir grains that I have tried to keep going. I keep it up for awhile and then I start to worry about the alcohol content. I now its probably not much, but when I'm giving it to the little ones, I wonder.

Things I am trying...

I am still trying to make my own yogurt. I have only tried it once. It did not turn out quite right, but I used it in my baking. I'm going to give it another try. I really want to perfect this since we all love yogurt!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Why? What? and How?

"She (mother) must ask herself seriously, Why must the child learn at all? What should they learn? And How should they learn it? If she take the trouble to find a definite and thoughtful answer to each of these three queries, she will be in a position to direct her child's studies; and will, at the same time be surprised to find that three-fourths of the time and labor ordinarily spent by the child at his lessons is lost time and wasted energy."
-Charlotte Mason, Home Education pg. 171

I have been thinking about these questions a lot lately. Before I begin any schooling with Jeb I wanted to get the answer to these questions in black and white. The answers to these questions will form the foundation for our home school. I hope to get Chris to answer these questions and combine his thoughts with mine.

Since we are called by God to be good stewards of all that he has entrusted to our care, my children should learn because he has blessed them with minds that are capable and hungry for knowledge. I want my children learning all they can in preparation for the purpose and plan God has for their lives.

My children should learn first and foremost about God our Father and his Son Jesus Christ. If they do not learn of God's love for them and Jesus' sacrifice for them, nothing else really matters.
"the knowledge of God is the principal knowledge and the chief end of education."
-Home Education, preface
My children should also learn:
  • to love and care for God's creation (understanding that the created reveals the creator)
  • to read
  • skills to be successful in day to day life (math, investigation, fixing things, the smooth running of a home, communication in writing and speaking, etc.)
  • (boys) to be protectors, providers and Spiritual leaders
  • (girls) to posses a gentle spirit and a servants heart

How? "
We are limited to three educational instruments-the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit and the presentation of living ideas." Home Education, preface

My children can learn many things in the natural home atmosphere. Not only, the day to day workings of a home, but also the qualities of gentleness, kindness, forgiveness, and good communication as it is observed in our lives.

When my children become disciplined in the habits of attentiveness, truthfulness, imagination, remembering, etc. learning will be a joy.

When I present my child with living ideas, a passion for learning will be embraced. I do not want my children to be memorizing useless facts all day long to pass a test. I want my children to be immersed in ideas that they feel passionately about. I do not want my children to memorize historical dates, but to experience what it was like to live in a particular time and place. I want my children to watch a caterpillar change into a butterfly and not just observe drawings in a textbook. I want them to use measurements while building a birdhouse, not just read about them in a math word problem.

Most of all, I see so much potential in my children and I want to be the one that nurtures and encourages. I want to be the one that teaches them to read. I want to be the one that takes them on a field trip. My children's unique learning styles and talents cannot be nurtured to their full potential in a classroom setting. I know because I have taught in a classroom!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

More About Food

Making the commitment to purchase locally grown organic produce can be expensive. Let's face it buying a box of cereal costs 3.00-4.00 dollars. (I'm just guessing, I haven't bought cereal in over a year.) Convenience foods are usually cheap. I could easily feed my family breakfast with a couple of boxes of cereal per week. But I feel the benefit my children receive from eating a healthy breakfast every morning is well worth the extra money. Here's an example of pricing:
  • 1 dozen local free-range eggs- 2.50-3.00 (depending on the farm)

We usually go through 4 dozen eggs per week. My boys eat eggs every morning for breakfast along with fresh fruit, oatmeal, toast, etc. Chris takes 2 boiled eggs for a snack almost daily. Sometimes we have boiled eggs at lunch. I also use several eggs per week for baking.

  • 1 gallon local raw milk-4.00-6.00 (depending on farm)

Milk can be expensive even in the store for regular non-organic milk, so this price is not too off base, but we drink about 18 gallons per month. Milk and water are about all Chris drinks. So milk can run 72.00-90.00 monthly.

  • 1 bag of organic apples from local grocer-5.00

Fruit and veggies in the grocery store tend to be quite a bit more expensive than conventionally grown. I sometimes use the dirty dozen list when purchasing fruits and veggies.

  • 1 free-range organic chicken from local farm-10.00

The chickens are sold buy weight so I paid between 9.00 and 10.00 per chicken. I do feel this is way to expensive, but then I look at and smell a chicken house and I can't purchase the chickens from the store.

  • 1 grass-fed calf 2.16 per pound.

We just purchased a grass-fed calf from my husbands uncle. We had to buy a freezer last year because we ended up with about 300 pounds of meat. This calf, two deer, and 40 chickens last us one year. We eat meat with almost every meal.

  • Joining a CSA cost about 380.00 for a bag of fresh veggies delivered weekly May through Nov.

I may re-think this next year. With the drought we had here in the southeast, I don't feel like I received my monies worth. I may use that money for the farmer's market to supplement what I grow in the garden.

  • 1 quart local raw honey 9.00, 16oz. maple syrup 10.00, 1- 2lb bag sucanant 5.00

Natural sweeteners are one of the most expensive things for me. Granulated sugar is so cheap. I still use a lot of sweeteners when I bake, on pancakes and oatmeal, etc.

So, as you can see purchasing healthier products can be more expensive. I am still looking for ways to save money. I would love any tips! If at any time Chris thought we couldn't afford this anymore I would make some major adjustments. He is very supportive of the way I have chosen to feed our family.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Living by the Spirit

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-25

This passage of scripture has been on my mind the last couple of days. Today, I decided to read it and God used it to convict me. I have not been the most patient mom lately. It's just the little things that seem to add up and before I know it I am becoming irritated with the kids.

Yesterday I was getting everyone ready because we had to make another milk run. I was going to drop the boys off at my grandparents and Lora and I were going grocery shopping. We were already feeling rushed to get out the door, Lora was crying because she needed her nap, Jeb's carseat was giving me fits, Caleb kept trying to close the truck door and before I knew it I was quite irritable.

As soon as I got into the truck (Oh by the way, I had to drive the truck with three carseats, because my van is in the shop) Jeb asked me if I was mad. "Why do you think I'm mad,"
I ask. "Because you did this (blow under his breath)."

O.K. I admit it, I blow under my breath and act irritated if things are not going smoothly. I never really noticed it much until my three year old started pointing it out. Now he always points it out and I always feel like scum when he does.

So, back to the verse. I am supposed to be living by the spirit because Christ lives in me. I need to take the irritating situations as a challenge to exercise my spiritual man because the natural responses that come so easily are wrong! If I am never challenged to become impatient with someone, how will I ever know that I have developed patience? If I am never challenged to react harshly, how will I ever know that I have developed gentleness? If I am never challenged to lose self-control, how will I ever know that I can maintain control? Better yet, how can God refine me if I am never presented with a challenge?

I'm getting on my knees right now and asking God to give me the strength to react with the fruit of the spirit the next time I face a challenging situation.