Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Morning on the Homestead

It has been a busy few weeks, and today is the same.  I feel guilty taking time to type anything, but I feel more guilty for not posting two Saturdays in a row!

Last weekend was Grace Camp Meeting at Rockport Baptist Church. All the sermons are available at the website and through  It was too incredible to get into a blog post - besides great sermons (11 total) there were times of corporate prayer, lots of food (all the meals), lots of fellowship time for kids and adults....and it was all free, supported by the folks at the church.  I got to help make lunch and dinner lasagna for 200 people, which was a blast.  I was absolutely exhausted when the weekend (Thursday night through Sunday afternoon) was over, but am already looking forward to next year.

Other than that...wrapping up our science co-op, only two more weeks.  Looking forward to May - we have a camping trip with a few other families planned, our first homeschool Park Day of the year, and our homeschool group Family Night.  Speaking of homeschooling, I asked the boys to give me some ideas of things they would like to learn about.  Monday we are spending the day studying the History of Superheroes.  I have some very cool ideas as far as a timeline for when they appeared, comparisons to our superheroes and those of Greek, Roman and Norse mythology, etc.  Can you guess - we are eagerly anticipating the new Avengers movie coming out next month!  And we had a few boys over for a "small" version of airsoft war this week.

This week is busy, with trips to St. Louis University Medical School for a program on the ear, nose, eye and throat, followed by a dissection of a cow eye in their lab.  Then our regular science class, guitar class, small group fellowship, chess club, and taking the younger boys to see Suessical with some other kids.

Yes, I do think it is important to be home.  Yes, I do think this is part of homeschooling.  No, we don't run around every week.  Yes, it is difficult to balance the interests of four very different boys.    Yes, I am exhausted at times and think I may over-estimate how much energy I have.  No, I would not change our lives for anything in the world!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Morning on the Homestead: All Quiet, So Far....

Good morning, all! After a fairly busy week, it is nice to be laidback, with the day wide open to possibilities!  It is almost 9 a.m., and we still have some folks abed here.  It is very wet out, and overcast, and the prediction is for more rain to come.  A good day to hunker down in the house, get some projects done, maybe do a bit of reading.

Have you ever had a book that you are having a terrible time getting through?  I am right now.  Usually, if it doesn't grab me, I ditch it.  But, I have been reading Knowing God, by J.I. Packer for a few months, and I am only halfway through it. 

 I started off all gung-ho, but when it started getting hard I started losing interest.  It really isn't a difficult book, but it isn't one you can read in bed, either.  It pretty much requires you sit upright to read, and a highlighter is helpful, too.  My excuse - I have been busy lately, and when I finally get a chance at lunch or in the evening to read for relaxation, I want something lighter, that I can read a couple pages and put down again.  Oh well, soon I won't have to read a science textbook in the evenings, so I will have more time to devote to some serious study.

Speaking of science, our class went very well this week.  We only have four more classes, then we are done until September.  One of the moms told me that she has "Science Party" marked on her calendar on May 9 (our last day).  I told everyone we'd grill some dogs and have a little party at the end of the class.  Her daughter told her that should say, "Science Day of Mourning" because she enjoys it so much.  THAT made me feel good!  I know the kids seem to enjoy it, especially the experiments and the hanging out with friends, but I really thought they'd be glad to see it end.  I am divided - on one hand, I am tired of reading science at night and ready to have some more down time in my schedule, but on the other, I really do enjoy having them here.  I have given serious consideration to doing something short, like an eight-week creative writing class, over the summer, but I think I'd better not.  I owe it to Nevin to have my days not SO scheduled for a while, so that we can take some trips, etc. without it having to be So, a big ordeal or a nightmare of fitting stuff into small windows of time.  He is really a "get up and go" sort of person,  where I am a "plan it out and have an agenda" type.  Sometimes this works really well and we balance each other out, other times.....we just learn and grow together.

So, what else is my hair cut this week (you know your life is kinda dull when that makes it to the blog!).  I got about 4" cut off the length, and I feel so much better,  It is still should-length.  It had gotten so long that all I could do was twist it up in a bun, and that look was getting a little old. Also went out to eat a few times (like...3!), went to Ladies' Discipleship, did the usual Wednesday mayhem of science-guitar lessons-cgroup.  Thursday night we had our family portrait done, and yesterday was our last homeschool roller skating of the school year.  Next month Park Days start up, through August.

Next week is already shaping up into a busy week, with lots of fun stuff, and then Thursday - Sunday is Grace Camp Meeting at Rockport Baptist Church, where we are members.  Thursday evening, all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning is preaching, meals, times of fellowship in between.  It is a great time of renewal.

And that is it.  I will try to post some pictures of the kittens later today, they are getting huge, with their eyes open, starting to walk around on their own.  Until then, you all have a blessed weekend and I will catch up to you soon!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Planner, A Planner, I need a Planner!

I really like planners.  I mean, I REALLY like them.  I am in a conundrum this year about what to use, though.  Maybe if I talk it through here, someone can tell me what to do.

I run my school year from July 1-June 30, so I would just as soon have my planner do the same.  This past year I used the On The Go planner from Home Educating Family.  I like it, it is a good size for me and has just about everything I want, though I also has a lot of stuff I don't use.  What I don't like - it has a week-view, not a day view.  I want a full page for each day.  The year before I used The Well Planned Day, also from Home Educating Family.  This one is big, too big for my purse and is definitely more than I need.  It incorporates the homeschool planning in the mom planning and that doesn't work for me.  It had almost enough room for their school stuff, but then the page did not have MY to-do list on it.  So I ended up cramming that at the bottom of their stuff.  It also had a ton of "filler" articles about homeschooling.

So, both of those are out for this year.

What I have used in the past, and what I want to use again is the Franklin Covey Classic.  I love the layout of two pages for each day - I can put my to-do list on one side, and all my notes from Bible study, sermon notes, prayer requests, WHATEVER on the right hand side.  I also buy the blank lined pages and set up separate sections for homeschool notes, book notes, menu planning, etc. that I want to keep all together.  It has a two page layout for each month, so I can see a whole month at a time, which is very helpful.  I have a tendency to look at one day and say, "Nothing going on, sure I can attend (fill in the blank) event!" without looking to see that I had something going every other day that week and I have now (completely) overwhelmed myself.
Classic Original Ring-bound Daily Planner Refill - Jul 2012 - Jun 2013

So, with this perfect planner, what is the problem?  Are you ready for this?  They do not make a slim, light binder.  I'd be happy with even a couple paper covers and some rings (there is an idea for a do-it-yourself project).  They are all big and professional.  I have one that was given to me almost 20 years ago.  It is still in great shape.  But it is like carrying a study Bible around.  Since I already HAVE a study Bible, that is a lot of stuff to drag around on Sunday! There have been many years that I have spent $$$ on all the refills, and then not used it because I don't like the bulky binder.

But I think I have given myself a thought already.....what if.....I only kept a quarter (3 months) at a time with me, and what if I did make a front and back cover out of heavy-duty paper, punched holes to line up with the Franklin Covey pages and put metal jump rings in (which I have a ton of, from various beading projects).  Then as I finished a month it could go back into the big, heavy binder and a new month could go in my personal binder.  When I wore out the covers, I could make more.

I think I may be on to something here.  I think I will work on this Saturday and see how it goes.  I will post my results, one way or the other.

Well, thanks for listening!  Just talking this out with you really helped - you all are so brilliant!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday on the Homestead: Easter

We have had a pretty good week here, but one where almost NOTHING went according to my carefully laid out plans!

Monday we took a day off school (our Spring Break has been in bits and pieces, as needed this year) and did yard work.  Our yard is very, very rocky.  Over the years, more rocks have come to the surface, and last year when we built the shop we really uncovered a lot.  We have also managed to kill whatever lawn we had.  So, this year we are starting over with new topsoil.  But first, someone had to pick up all the rocks from the front yard.  This calls for unskilled labor, ie, me and the boys.  We filled three or four buckets on the tractor.  First we did the whole yard, then Nevin took the tractor and scraped up the top layer of the ground, then we went back out and picked up all the rocks he turned up.  So, the yard was all ready for the truckloads of topsoil that were to arrive, we had seed and straw, ready to go. 

While we were waiting, we also cleaned out all the flower beds and I planted 13 egg cartons of Purple Coneflowers, from seeds I harvested last year, and Nevin shovelled about half of the 5,000 pounds of horse manure we hauled into the garden.

Waiting, waiting.  Truck doesn't come.
Rain starts.  Rains for two days on the bare yard. So, now it is Saturday, a beautiful day to be doing some yard work, and we still don't have topsoil.  Maybe Monday.....

Thursday I went to the funeral of Miss Ann, who I spoke of in a previous post.  It was so sad to see her go, and I am trying to think of her joy in Heaven, as opposed to my sorrow over her being gone.  I think of my friend Debi, who is constantly in my mind and on my heart.  She was so close to her momma, and I know the loss of both of her parents in about five years is a tremendous blow.  No matter how old we get, no one  wants to be an orphan. 

Friday we had our family Easter, as we had some relatives in from out of town.  Really had a good time, lots of food (I got to bring desserts, my favorite!), the kids have more candy than Halloween. It was so nice just to have time to enjoy each others' company and fellowship.

And of course, there are pictures:

Every year we do an egg hunt, and Tony and Ben hide eggs for the younger kids.  Tony is in his element, hiding the eggs, laying down the rules for engagement

I was not so crazy about seeing Henry climb up on a retaining wall to the get the eggs off of the roof. Who thought of that, anyway??

Our cousins from Texas brought a pinata!  Mr. Bunny (and friend Nevin) lookin' good, before the carnage begins.

The kids took turns, blindfolded, giving it whacks with a bat, and a few pieces of candy would gently fall to the ground.  Finally, Tony had had enough of this and got a broomstick and took that bunny out.  Note that the trunk is still hanging in the air, while the legs are in the lower right corner, next to the car.  I had never heard of an Easter pinata, but this is one tradition I really liked!

And now, the ham is eaten,desserts are almost gone, and kids are still sleeping off their candy-induced comas.  Later today we will take some time to go further in our Bible study of the Resurrection.  We are using the Resurrection Eggs this year, and we did the first four yesterday, so I'd like to go through the rest today, leaving the last (the empty tomb) for tomorrow morning.  Today, take some time to think of Christ's sacrifice.  Rejoice in the risen Savior, who takes away the sins of all who believe.  The perfect lamb, who paid a price that we could never pay, who saved us.  We, who were dead in our sins and trespasses, the LORD was so kind as to save.  

"Up from the grave He arose, With a might triumph o'er his foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose!  He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!"

Monday, April 2, 2012

Going Home

Today, a great lady has gone home to be with the LORD.

Alice Ann Adams, "Miss Ann" was my first adult Sunday School teacher.  When I was 24, in 1989, I moved back to Festus and moved in with my grandmother.  One of the rules was that I had to go to church with her.  I had not, at that time, been to church in close to ten years.  I had attended regularly as a child with my parents, but once I began to get involved with "youth group".....let's just say my eyes were opened and I had better things to do.

Anyway, so fast-forward to 1989.  I was not saved (I don't care what anyone says, truly regenerate people do NOT deliberately skip church for ten years), but having walked an aisle and been dunked as a child, I thought I was.  And I found myself in complete alien territory - the Adult 2 Sunday School Department.

I walked in and it was WAY obvious that I did not belong there.  Most of the women in the department just ignored me.  But Miss Ann grabbed me and next thing you know I was in the Adult 2 Ladies Class, taught by none other than......Miss Ann.  She was the pastor's wife, had daughters of her own, and she was nobody's pushover.  One of the young women, Andrea, became my dear friend.  So suddenly, this heathen had a pastor's wife and a Christian mama of 3 (or maybe 4, or maybe pregnant with #4 at the time) taking care of her.

After a few years, and thankfully after the LORD had saved me, I met Nevin, and her husband Brother Richard married us in due course.

Side story - Miss Ann had developed dementia over the last few years.  Last year I sat next to her at a wedding reception and she told me at least five times how wonderful it was that Nevin was coming to church now and actively involved.  I just kept agreeing, and was so happy that she remembered THAT, and not when Nevin did not go to church!

Back to the story.  After a while I bounced around churches a bit, but always maintained a connection to her.  When I came back to that church she and Andrea were there to welcome  me with open arms. Another woman then became my Sunday School teacher, Mary Kathryn Henson.  I began to grow and be discipled by these ladies, and the other ladies in my class who sucked us into this crazy homeschool life.

Andrea died of colorectal cancer in August of 2002, at the age of 38.  Mary Kathryn died of cancer in October of 2002.  And today, Miss Ann has gone on home.  The last few years she has had dementia, and this world has grown increasingly difficult for her.  She has been blessed by a family that loves her, and especially her daughter Debi.  Debi rearranged her life, and took care of her mother, even adding a room addition to her home and moving her in with her and her family.  Which consists of her, a husband, 7 or 8 children still at home (out of 10), a farm, and a concrete flatwork company.  So, today, she got to go home.  She gets to see Brother Richard again, who she has missed so much.  And she gets to see Jesus, who she has loved for so long.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reading Log for March, 2012

This month I discovered a new favorite author - Janice Holt Giles.  Her books are mainly American/Historical Fiction.  I can't believe I had never heard of her before!  She deals with strong characters, the people who created this nation.  So far I have read three, and all of them deal with members of the Fowler family.  These are not a "family series" like John Jake's The Kent Family Chronicles.  They are heavy on historical background, but very focused on a particular person time period.

First, and most famous is Hannah Fowler, which I gave a solid 5 out of 5.  This takes place in Kentucky, during the time of the American Revolution, and follows a strong woman named Hannah Fowler as she and her husband Tice build a new life in the wilderness.

Next is The Believers, also a 5.  Hannah's daughter Rebecca and her husband become involved in the Shaker movement of the early 1800s.  The story of a woman who is trapped in a cult-religion by her husband, and how she tries to live and honor her commitment to her marriage.

I think I have skipped a few in chronology, I am reading them as I find them on Bookmooch and Paperbackswap, or getting them loaned to me.  The Great Adventure takes place in the American West, at the end of the Mountain Man era, and follows Joe Fowler (Hannah's grandson) who is a beaver trapper.  Joe has a Utah Indian woman named Betsy that is his "squaw" and it was very interesting to learn how these relationships worked, and see the dignity of the woman Betsy.

Other books this month include Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne (4) as a read aloud to the younger boys, and the psychological thriller Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (4).  THIS was a page turner.  As the result of an injury, Christine has amnesia.  Every night when she goes to bed she loses her memory of the day.  Each morning she wakes up thinking she is a child or young woman.  She does not know she is 47, or recognize her husband, or have any clue of who she is.  Every day her husband Ben tells her who he is, that she had an accident, etc.  Christine has been approached by a doctor who wants to write a paper about her, and she begins to write about each day in a journal.  Every morning he calls her and tells her who he is, and where to find the journal.  Each day, as she reads, she begins to remember, and things don't add up.  Sure, there were some pretty obvious holes in the plot, but it was still a fun, fast-paced thriller.  No gratuitous violence, more use of the "f" word than necessary and a few sexual parts that I didn't think were necessary.

Other than that, still moving along in a Bible study, Bible reading plan, Knowing God by J.I. Packer and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with the older boys.