Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Harvest Moon

Wow! Can I just tell you about our day today? What an amazing day for Nature Study for this family!
By Helen Allingham (1848 - 1926)
(The Bridgeman Art Library, Object 283763)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

First, I woke up this morning and checked the weather only to discover that there was going to be a Harvest Moon tonight! Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. One reason that it is so special is because the full moonrise that time of year, happens about 30 minutes earlier than normal. This was especially helpful back in the days before electric lights and farmers relied on the extra moonlight to help bring in their harvests. Here is a very interesting read on the Harvest Moon.

Then, as we were gathered around the breakfast table reading our Bible reading for the day, my husband just happened to notice an interesting creature crawling around in a dish. No, it wasn't in his cereal bowl. :)  Last week, the kids and I had gathered some quite magnificent looking acorns. Now, I had heard that "things" can "hatch" out of acorns, so instead of letting the children play with them around the house, they were displayed in my favorite leaf shaped dish on the table along with some other nature finds. I hoped this dish would help contain any unexpected visitors and to my delight, it did! (They didn't hatch with wings and couldn't crawl up the sides.) What are they??? I finished the Bible reading and discussion...then quickly ran to the computer to look up "white grub with brown face in an acorn" and lo and behold: It is an Acorn Weevil! Amazing! It gets even can actually see what we saw!! Check out this video:

(By the way, all the acorns and baby weevils are contained in a ziploc bag for now as my oldest daughter was too creeped by letting them roam freely around in the dish. And, for those interested, 8 larvae have crawled out so far!...I also just learned from a friend that they make good bait for fishing.)

Finally, this afternoon, I took the kids to visit my Dad at his work at a local resort. We were treated to a golf cart ride around the property. Everyone always enjoys this, but at the end of the ride, Dad and I both had bugs flying at us. The next thing I knew, I had an ant crawling in my shirt! Yikes! Minutes later, we began noticing masses of flying ants around different ant holes. They were everywhere friends! Then, we looked up and the masses of flying ants were taking to the skies! It was unbelievable! Everywhere we looked, there were huge masses of flying ants. What was going on?

The first chance I had when I got home (because I don't own a smart phone :)  I again searched the Internet for "masses of flying ants.  I'm very thankful that my Internet worked today. :)  Well, it turns out that we were witnessing the "Nuptial Flight" of the ants. Need I say more? You can quickly figure out what the Nuptial Flight is by reading the linked article from Wikipedia.

OK. Are you not in awe of how amazing our Creator is?!  Wow!
Thank you Nature Study! Now to make a date with my Nature Journal...

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I've been thinking about this poem all day:

Refugee in America
There are words like Freedom
Sweet and wonderful to say.
On my heart-strings freedom sings
All day every day.

There are words like Liberty
That almost make me cry.
If you had known what I knew
You would know why.

--Langston Hughes

Various thoughts flooded my mind as I read this.

Sad thoughts that the Freedom and Liberty he found in America often seem to be in jeopardy.

Indescribable thoughts of how this relates to my life as a follower of Christ. Even though my freedoms seem threatened at times, the freedom and liberty that are mine in Christ can never be taken away. I have a hope and a future.

Finally, as we are about to begin another year of homeschool, I can't help but relate these thoughts of freedom and liberty to the beauty found in Charlotte Mason's Methods (to learn more specifics, click here, here, or here).

I went to public school. For me, this was not such a bad experience as some have; yet, there are still things I will never forget and wish for my children to learn in a different way. Still, even in the home setting, a family could make "school" still too much like "school" with rigid structure and cold atmosphere and mind numbing books. I recently got to see in real life some of those homeschool curriculums of which I've heard stories. It made me feel stressed just looking at these huge stacks of textbooks.  I've also been making a big effort to once again purge our home of "twaddle" (Mason's word to describe books with oversimplified language which has the end result of shutting down the mind's creative thinking process).

Mason's methods and principles have brought so much life into our home. Our minds are nourished and challenged with ideas. My whole family ends up being fed a feast from which each fills his plate with the nourishment needed. It truly is a living education, and more than that, it is a way to live.  Charlotte's method may have seemed "new" in her day and often seem "new" compared to many of today's methods of education, however, the Solomon tells us that there is nothing new under the sun (Eccles. 1:9-10). And the more I think of it, many of her methods of teaching reflect the way that Jesus taught his disciples and interacted with those He met.
          He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
          He came that we could enjoy abundant life (John 10:10).
          For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

I'm so thankful that the Lord has led our family to this beautiful method of learning and living. Maybe you are interested in Mason's method; if so, I encourage you to dive in and research it. However, maybe you rejoice in the curriculum your family has found, if so, then I rejoice with you. I think because I've felt burdened by the yoke of slavery under the curriculums and methods that other families hold in high esteem, I understand and am extremely grateful for the fact that the Lord leads each family to what is right for them. I am so thankful for the freedom we have to choose differently! For me and my family, this method brings abundant life and joy and freedom. Why wouldn't I use it? :)  And again, Langston's words ring in my mind, "If you had known what I knew, you would know why."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Joy of Folding Laundry

We all have our own feelings about things like dishes, vacuuming, dusting, and laundry (folding/putting away). I'm not going to get into all of that right now. I wanted to share one reason why I like to fold laundry with the hope that it would be an encouragement to you and perhaps spur you on to love and good deeds. :)

Years ago I came across this bookmark published by Navigators that shared 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Kids.  I also happened to find a blog post on praying for your children that had this prayer calendar from Inspired to Action. The calendar was adapted with permission from Bob Hostetler, the man who wrote the bookmark. So, after a while of realizing that I needed to figure out a way that I could actually USE this calendar instead of just keeping it nicely folded in my Bible, I decided to type it up large enough so that I could read it while it was hanging on the wall. I made it pretty to look at and taped it on the basement walls and washer which aren't always pretty to look at. Then as I pull clothes out of the dryer to fold I pick a prayer and begin praying it for each person (whoever "owns" the item I am folding...even myself). :) Anyway, I don't always have time to enjoy folding laundry, but making laundry folding time a time of more concentrated and intentional prayer has been no less than a delight. So click through on the links above and get your own calendars and start praying! Here are some photos to inspire you. :)


And this is who I'm praying for: 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

multitude monday

...continuing my Multitude Monday list with pictures...

432. our sweet little girl turning 8...we took her to Paint-It Pottery and she painted the plate in the picture

434. boys, rocks, water, dinosaur rain boots...continuing our nature study

435. little girls exploring every nook and cranny

436. Daddy working hard to provide for his family

437. surprise faces

438. Silly faces

438. irresistible faces...(I think big sister was walking around with the camera :) and got those three shots)
438. the pictures that little kids take (I didn't post them all...I wanted to spare you from pictures of the TV, VCR closeups, toys, and random other things they find to take blurry pictures of. :)

439. her first night in her new big girl bed that Daddy built her

440. new beds! sisters sharing a room...I'll share more pictures when they are completed.

441. story time with big sister

442. a reason to make a "welcome baby" card

443. a fun niece to make a fun birthday card for

444. a sweet little girl to make a sweet birthday card for

445. Selah having fun in her new "big girl" bed! Can you believe it...milestones of taking down the baby bed and putting her into a toddler bed!!

446. baby teeth :)

447. big eyes

448. baby curls

449. little boys
 450. scripture to meditate on: 
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
 and before you were born, I consecrated you...Jeremiah 1:5

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

This week, holy week, I've been trying read and meditate on scriptures that focus on Jesus's last week before his crucifixion. Today, something else caught my eye as I turned the pages of my Bible, but in every way it so perfectly relates to this week, Jesus's purpose in coming and dying, and to thoughts I've been sharing and discussing with friends lately.

Luke 14:25-33 are verses that are probably familiar to most of us. Let me try to share a bit of this, and some of Matthew Henry's commentary on these verses, along with some interesting points that Bob Burney made on these verses at a marriage conference I recently attended.

  Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father 
and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters,
 yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

 Matthew Henry states, "Christ's disciples must be willing to forsake that which was very dear, rather than forsake their interest in Christ. He is not sincere, he will not be constant and persevering unless he loves Christ better than anything in this world--even his own life.Man can look on houses and lands with contempt, but every good man loves his relatives; and yet if he becomes a disciple of Christ, he must comparatively hate them. Not that their persons must be in any degree hated, but our comfort and satisfaction in them must be lost and swallowed up in our love for Christ. When our duty to our parents comes into competition with our evident duty to Christ, we must give Christ the preference. Every man loves his own life, no man ever yet hated it; and we cannot be Christ's disciples if we do not love him better than our own lives." (than our SELF). 

Simply said: If you put anyone above me, you can not be my disciple. 

Luke 14:27 Whoever does not 
bear his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Bob Burney commented on this and said that we as Christians often focus on this phrase "bear our cross" too much. We forget that crosses weren't meant to be carried around, they were made for crucifixion. Crosses are meant to die on, not carry around. We need to deny our selves, die to our selves daily (Luke 9:23) and follow Christ. 

Luke 14:33 So therefore, any one of you who does not 
renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. 
Bob went on to say the obvious: A crucified (dead) person has no rights. 

Why can't I remember that with every breath? Die to myself. My SELF is so strong...and so must be denied, crucified. When, I die to myself, just as Jesus did, I give up my rights and am able to truly love others as He loved me, and serve others as he served. It kind of goes in a circle:

Die to self:  love one another as Christ loved us:  serve others  (repeat)

Well, I don't know if that makes any sense. It made sense to me this morning when I was struggling with dying to myself and giving up my rights. When we die to ourselves and give up our rights, and truly let the Lord reign on the throne of our hearts, then we will begin to bear fruit. 
John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat 
falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone;
 but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Here are some good verses to remind us about dying to ourselves. 

Here is an excellent sermon by John Piper on "As I Have Loved You, Love One Another". It fits right in with Holy Week readings too. (if you read this whole post and couldn't follow my train of thinking, then at least listen to this sermon, it will make it up to you)...really this is a good message that spurred me to dig into certain scriptures for myself as it shed light on things I had previously misunderstood. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Resurrection Garden

Have you seen this idea for an "Easter Garden"?
Plant an Easter Garden!  Using potting soil, a tiny buried flower pot for the tomb, shade grass seed, and crosses we made from twigs.  Sprinkle grass seed generously on top of dirt, keep moistened using a spray water bottle.  Spritz it several times a day. Set it in a warm sunny location.  Sprouts in 7-10 days so plan ahead. On Good Friday, put a little lego Jesus inside and slide rock to seal tomb.  On Sunday the tomb is EMPTY! He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Plant an Easter Garden! Using potting soil, a tiny buried flower pot for the tomb, shade grass seed, and crosses we made from twigs. Sprinkle grass seed generously on top of dirt, keep moistened using a spray water bottle. Spritz it several times a day. Set it in a warm sunny location. Sprouts in 7-10 days so plan ahead. On Good Friday, put a little lego Jesus inside and slide rock to seal tomb. On Sunday the tomb is EMPTY! He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

I kept seeing it all over Pinterest. Then, Ann Voskamp published a post about creating a Grace Garden. I really wanted to do this, but of course I waited until almost the last minute. :)  We were sort of having a rough day and we needed something to get us back on track, so I packed the kids into the van and we ran to Wal-Mart. The Lord helped me find some very inexpensive plants, a small terra cotta pot, a bag of potting soil for $.97. I couldn't figure out what to do for the pot. They didn't seem to have the right shape basket or pot or anything for what I wanted to do AND in the price range I needed to be in. So I decided to use one of the cocoa liners and put it in one of the plastic liners that you are supposed to set your pots in to catch the water that drains out of the bottom, both of these cost under a dollar! So, I think I maybe spent a total of $12.00 on this project. When we got home, the kids gathered up some stones. We still need to find a large one to cover the opening of the "tomb".

We plan to follow the ideas that Ann outlines and on Friday we will shape a caterpillar out of clay and wrap it in cloth. Then on Sunday only the cloth will be left behind and a butterfly (new life) will be in the garden.
The kids have this all figured out: I will get the cloth, Lucy is going to make the butterfly, Jude is going to shape the caterpillar, and Mayme is going to make the puppy (out of play dough)...don't ask me how the puppy relates, she just insisted. :) Tyson said the puppy will remind us how faithful Jesus is. Also, we have a stone hidden in the garden, and on Sunday we will reveal it. Lucy wrote the word "grace" on it and we will be reminded of God's grace in giving us new life.

Once we had our garden in place on the table, there was no way we could fit our candle wreath. Instead, I took one of the add on sections that holds 8 candles. This worked perfectly to represent the days Palm Sunday to Easter. We'll light a candle each day until Friday when everything went dark at noon as Jesus died on the cross. I don't know what to do about Saturday...I guess nothing, just wait and remember. Sunday we will light them again and celebrate the resurrection and grace and new life.

I'm really excited about this. I hope it becomes a new tradition in our home. A constant visual reminder during the most important week in our Christian faith.


My little "helper" with a banana bread crumb face. 

Just having some fun with some new editing options on Picasa. :)

Today, I made the three crosses out of some sticks in the yard. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nature Study

Well, we just returned home from our first successful Nature Study Group outings! Yeah! It was SO much fun. Charlotte Mason strongly encouraged nature study. She wanted the children to learn to observe nature and really see what was around them. She wanted them to form relationships with nature. It has been said that nature can be a friend to us in such a way that we can never feel alone if we've developed a relationship with the world around this. I believe this is true because you can't truly see the world around you and not be reminded of our great God! He reveals himself to us in so many ways through His creation. There is so much to see and discover about God through nature. I could go on and on about this, but I won't right now because soon I need to go and make lunch for my little clan. I wanted to form a group though because I need help getting myself away from these four walls and out into nature on a regular basis even though I know how much I need the "re-creation" God gives us through being in His creation.

We met on the river walk this morning. The kids immediately began a game of "Pooh Sticks". If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, you've never read or watched Winnie the Pooh. :) anyway the began collecting sticks, throwing them off one side of the bridge and watching them come out the other side, seeing which would come first and watching where it would be carried off to. For the sake of formality, I had a plan to start the group with prayer and a Bible verse, but the kids didn't need to be instructed of what to do in any way. Nature study is natural to them. We had such a delightful time. What a joy it was to watch them run along the river path exploring and playing together. They had so much fun and only interrupted their exuberant play to show us or tell us about some amazing discovery that they made.

I tried to not interrupt them too much, except with an occasional gentle directing towards something neat that I had discovered or with a necessary word of caution. I really wanted them to find something that interested them to draw in their nature journals, but I didn't want to force it, so I held myself back from suggestions. Then right at the end, they suggested that they had better draw something for their journals. Lucy chose an interesting gall. The kids came running to us with it and described it as the world's biggest peanut, I think. A gall is an abnormal outgrowth on a plant caused by a fungus or insect or parasite, etc. After looking at the plant more closely while she drew it, I wondered if it was goldenrod. Sure enough, there is such a thing as Goldenrod Gall cause by the Goldenrod Gall Fly. Needless to say, I am very excited (perhaps more so than the children are) and I can't wait for our next nature study group.

Here is a quick plan that I have for our next Nature Study group to make things easier on me preparation wise since we plan to do this about twice a month. I want to have a designated back-pack that I can just add a few last minute supplies to and go. I plan to pack it with several items that will be designated just to this bag:
-diapers and wipes (for Selah)
-colored pencils
-extra paper
-field guides
-magnifying glass
-ziploc baggies (a friend's suggestion for interesting finds to take home)
-a container (for interesting bugs/creatures to take home)
-first aid kit, just in case
-kid sized blanket or towel
Then at the last minute, I can throw in a water bottle, snacks, a camera, and our nature journals if we wish to bring them that day.

There is also this little portable flower press that would be fun to make with the kids and keep with us.

Now the fun part, here are some pictures for you:

Rune of Riches
Florence Converse

I have a golden ball
A big, bright, shining one,
Pure gold; and it is all
Mine. - It is the sun.

I have a silver ball,
A white and glistening stone
That other people call
The moon; - my very own!

The jewel things that prick
My cushion's soft blue cover
Are mine, - my stars, thick, thick,
Scattered the sky all over.

And everything's that mine
Is yours, and yours, and yours, -
The shimmer and the shine!-
Let's lock our wealth outdoors!