Monday, March 26, 2012

how God blesses my garden

if i lacked the faith to even begin the act of trying to understand how God intervenes in the little things, would my faith grow at all?

would my children learn from the best of my ability?

would i trust Him in other things? the seemingly "more meaningful" things?

i think not.

if i ignored how He orchestrates finding WORDS to compliment my own thinking throughout the day, as i struggle and then breathe with a newness the air of understanding, how WOULD my garden grow?

would my children see the fruit? would they even see the seeds being planted? how would they learn to water them? shade them? sun them? give them the proper attention?

if i, myself, remain cold, distant, inattentive to the beauty of HIM around me, how will God bless my garden. can He, despite me? would He, despite me? what if i tried my best, would He even then? DOES He?

i will, then, try my best, despite what happens, and allow my heart and soul to wander to discover what He needs me to discover to share with those other little, searching, learning human beings in my garden.

my children.

they know, for a fact, that at the used bookstore, it was no accident that there were books there, once again, that mommy was looking for. Quite a blessing. For real- a dozen books that she had on her list? Ones that, quite possibly, are not on ANY one modern reader's list?

and one, today, a vintage science book...quite confidently displayed sweet, entertaining and wonderful truth in its narrative about beavers. of all things. beavers. and what are we reading during our reading aloud time? The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, and more specifically- the chapters concerning the beavers. And then, how about the mini-art lesson and nature study today- on beavers.

Hmm.

The homeschool mother did NOT plan that and also did NOT expect that.

do you see God and his wonderful Hand in that? in this journey of ours, i have seen it so, so much. it has made this journey what it is for my children, and husband, and i. it is a journey towards a fruitfulness and fulfillment through God, in every step of the way, despite our own downfalls, negativity at times, fatigue, and stubbornness. the beauty, truth and virtue DO surpass all these things, because of HIM, and Him alone.

Praising Him tonight, AMY.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

marking this Tuesday as...

the day Ella first worked on long division.

the day that classical music is ruling the evening ears

a night of eggs for dinner

when i did some book sorting

got lots of books in the mail

a night to see a friend

happy to hear the joyful shouts of my children outside through the open windows

the day i felt "off" but am settling into the evening better

being brilliant with sunshine

a hopeful beginning to the rest of the week....

and..

a journal excerpt from my Ella:

I am like a joyful mustang.
Philip is like a full spirited Arabian.
Will David is a faithful quarter horse.
Mommy is a beautiful Friesian.
Daddy is like a Standardbred.


I ESPECIALLY appreciate Philip's description. AND WD's. Makes me giggle! Ella may put this on her blog- yes she has a blog now! If not, you read it here! Ha! If you'd like to peek at her blog- Horse Writing. She'd love a visit!

Monday, March 19, 2012

A treat for me 'tis a cup of warmth...



take a pair of these mugs
add froth
or sweet Chai tea

i am loving it all.
and a mug with a dress form?
(and one to spare to give to a secret someone i've chosen later on?- priceless)






oh, i'm there. (you should be too!)

thank you, dayspring, than you, dayspring!



and beside my now antique piano,
to the right, on the wall....




a reminder that i am loved, a reminder to my family,
they are loved
by the One who truly matters...

i have loved having these items in my home, as precious, and personal, tools to remind me...and for me to remind OTHERS, in turn. HE loves us so- may we never forget!

Thank you, Dayspring, for the opportunity to review these lovely products in exchange for some old-fashioned honesty! :)



Saturday, March 17, 2012

You're Already Amazing! (a book review)


Women feel enormous pressure to be perfect. To have the perfect body, to be a perfect woman, to have the perfect career, and to have the perfect attitude. All the time. Under all that pressure and all those expectations are women carrying burdens they were never meant to carry and suppressing the dreams they were always meant to live. In You're Already Amazing, popular blogger and co-founder of (in)courage helps women understand and embrace the fact that they don't need to do more, be more, and have more--because they're already amazing just the way God created them to be. As a licensed counselor and certified life coach, Holley knows what readers need to hear. Like a heart-to-heart talk over coffee, reading this joy-filled book encourages women to forget the lies and expectations the world feeds them, instead believing that God made them for a purpose and that he loves them right now, at this moment, and always. Holley takes readers on a journey of the heart to discover their strengths and embrace all God created them to be.

This book was truly a delight. I would say, whole-heartedly, it would be a book for women ages teen and up, in any point on their spiritual journey. It's interactive and personal. Honest and refreshing. Loving and encouraging. I love how Holley, the author, "talks" through her writing, as if she were right beside you. The book contains plenty of opportunity to focus on yourself and your faith, your heart and your heart for what God wants you to be. It's a book not for self-gratifying thoughts but more like a precious, sweet tool for breaking free of our own stereotypes, self-doubt, and longings- into something the Lord can only give us. Divine love for us!

This is a keeper. It is a gem for our women in our culture in our world today!

Thank you, Baker Publishing/Revell for the complimentary copy in return for an honest review!

this time of year-


is the same the past three years. I peruse homeschool curriculum, either to supplement our last couple months before our "official year" ends. Or, to come up with a light, summer school plan. Or, lastly, for the next school year. You'd think one would wait until their year was over...well, no, not me. It takes a huge amount of my mental energy to do all this. My personal writing is untouchable at the moment, and that is okay. I am planning my kids' future, and for me, it is more important to research for THAT than write my book. Soon, I hope, however, I will be able to concentrate once again on my book(s). I've missed my characters, but with spring and warmer weather in the air, it makes it even more difficult to get that writing done.

What I wanted top post about this morning is a certain book I bought LAST year with the intent Ella would go through the book then. Well, that did NOT happen. All is okay, for I've decided both Philip and Ella will do this certain book THIS summer, along with a couple others, for a Bible Study. I seem to be unable to plan in particular Bible Study time during the school year- although they do have personal devotion time. It's a struggle area, a weakness in my brain when I plan our day. I am not a terribly organized person- I admit. I like to fly into the day being ready to change, implement something else. I think on my feet a lot. I HATE totally scheduled days because I cannot mentally handle them, deal them out, implement them. I CANNOT. I gave up scheduling because of ME, not them, and have prayed ever since my kids don't suffer from that certain weakness. Anyways, I'm rabbit trailing...

About the book- It is by Kay Arthur and Janna Arndt. God's Amazing Creation. It is a series of books, and I'd like to focus on the ones that take you through all of Genesis. I do believe there is at least three books, then, to do that. I ordered an extra copy of God's Amazing Creation so each Philip and Ella have one. I've ordered two each of the next two, so I can get an idea to create a "framework" of scheduling. HA. I can't completely do an airtight schedule, but I do like to plan in my head somewhat. Don't get the wrong idea!

Several things I love about these books. And why we will use them.

I have a degree in anthropology. I LOVE archaeology. THIS book contains ALL I LOVE. The first chapter- The Dig Site. Second- The Excavation Begins. And so forth are the title of the study guide. Starting this in a couple months will be perfect to even have a simulation dig of "stuff" outside. And my little tag along, Will David, is at a great age to enjoy the activity as well. Another reason I love these books- they are kid friendly (and adult friendly). Easy to follow, not too difficult to use, but not TOO easy. They will make a child THINK. The size is not a "normal" book size. It's a bit wider, with room to write in your answers aplenty. It's not terribly thick and it's easy to lay flat with a little bit of nudging. Therefore, easy for kids to handle and take with them if we are camping, outside, whatever. We will NOT be sitting at the table filling them out! Ah, I love summer!

We will use these Bible Study books because we are going to listen to the audio for Mystery of History Volume 1, with discusses ancient times AND early/beginning Bible times. Stories of well-known Bible men/women/events will be discussed in MOH, and also mentioned throughout the studies of Genesis in the books. I was so excited when I first received the copy of the study book because I found it to include some academics. I'll give you a few examples. On page 42, there's an explanation about verbs, and then the next couple pages have you looking for the action verbs of God via a code. FUN! Educational! They will be reviewing VERBS for goodness sakes in the Bible Study! On page 26 or so, there is the mention of pronouns, and synonyms. Directions follow to mark on a verse worksheet those certain words! FUN! Educational! In a Bible Study! Another part of the study reviews the 5 W's. Another, DNA. Still another, names of rocks. Not too mention worldviews, naturalists, themes of archaeology, and lots of vocabulary, even Hebrew!

This book is AMAZING, and I feel God leading me to use it this summer. I do not feel badly we didn't use it yet- for some reason, the Lord put me on pause with it. Now, two of my children will glean much over the summer about his Word. It will take the place of any other writing/grammar study we would do. It provides critical thinking, puzzle solving, personal review, cause to use proper grammar, and writing skills. I haven't seen the next two books I've ordered yet, only a little sample online, but I am anticipating much the same- a little educational spirit within them!

One more word before I end my post. I am not sure how much we will get through. I'd LIKE to get through a chapter in a day, three days a week. Starting in late May or late June. The kids will need a little break before the start of summer school.

So excited to begin our adventure with the books' explorers, children Max and Molly, and their archaeologist Uncle Jack! HEHE!

Friday, March 16, 2012

days at the creek

spent hiking, trailing, climbing...


waiting, practicing patience, sitting prettily.....
playing, splashing, just doing....

we had a day off with Daddy at a state park. brought a picnic lunch. had merry times. ended it with exploration. slides. swings. creek play. trekking up hills. eating ice cream. what a blessing it was this week to enjoy a day of gorgeous weather- as a family!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Love's Sacred Song, a review



Standing in the massive shadow of his famous father, young king Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, wisdom and folly. In the uncertain world of alliances and treachery, Solomon longs for peace and a love that is true and pure--a love that can be his cornerstone.
A shepherdess in the northern city of Shunem, Arielah remembers the first time she laid eyes on Solomon in Jerusalem when she was just seven years old. Since then she has known that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her father, a leader of their tribe, secures a promise from King Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams may come true.
But how can this simple shepherdess live as part of Solomon's harem? Can Solomon set aside his distractions to give himself completely to just one woman? Or will he let duty, deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?
Mesu Andrews expertly weaves the words of the Song of Solomon into this touching story of the power of love. Readers will be transported from the glowing fields of Shunem to the gleaming city of Jerusalem as they experience this rich and textured novel from a master storyteller.


If you take a Bible Story, say Solomon, and weave throughout his brilliant, beautiful story a woman who is even more beautiful and breathtaking, you may come close to a book as touching as Mesu Andrews' Love's Sacred Song. Or not...for she has, in my opinion, produced a new pedestal for books weaving fiction with Biblical stories. I was awestruck by the richness in this book- in the scenery, characters, actions. I felt I KNEW Solomon, and I KNEW this young woman who stole his heart. I applaud the author for her exceptional ideas- it is a novel rich with history, rich with love, and rich with redemption and mercy. Even more, what a challenge it would be to write about all of Solomon's wives- I could not imagine. Such a different time, different culture, and I feel Andrews was honest and tender in writing about this specific journey of love between Solomon and Arielah.

I could not recommend this enough- no matter what genre you prefer, this book should fit its way into your bookshelf! Be ready for it to tug at your heart strings- a very emotional journey!

Thank you for Baker Publishing/Revell for the review copy in exchange for an original review!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Math...

Our math journey....

In first grade, Ella worked with Singapore Math.

UGH. That had not been a good fit at all for her, or me. I had read up on it, and it had been on the top of so many lists. However, it must have been bad timing for her. Nonetheless, she did average with math on the ITBS test. I was content with that because it was ONLY first grade.

Second grade, I changed it up to Abeka math.

Eh. Fair. I thought it awfully cluttered, to be completely honest, especially when compared to Singapore. I did not like the same old thing, day after day, either. At the end of the year, I knew we HAD to work on math, as it was Ella's weakest subject. I knew she was "average" and had learned, but things had not clicked.

Time to make another change for Grade Three.

SO I did...to Teaching Textbooks 3. Now, some would have said, put her in TT4, as some believe it to be behind grade level. I did not find it to be the case as I compared everything, and thought, if I was mistaken, WHO CARES. I figured we had a good year to make a good change, try it because it was different and more interactive for her.

Guess what?! It has worked! My daughter has LOVED doing math this year. Even when I say, here are some math pages from your Saxon 3 math or our challenge word problems from Singapore, which I decided to filter into our studies. Also, to reinforce things, I employed my father to run through challenge problems with my children once a week, or every other week. I have seen Ella make much progress. I am excited. My heart wants more for her...I want her to excel in math, not just make it, and understand it. But excel. Perhaps that's not the right idea as the homeschooling mom, but...I will continue to pray and push when I feel it right. I know she has so much MORE potential. I see her love for learning every day. And it grows, and grows.

So, as I am already in the thinking mode for next year's curriculum, I have ordered this:





I LOVE it. Ella loved the look of the sample of the DIVE cd. I am encouraged, and she is. She understands how we are wanting to make math a positive, but challenging, experience for her. As we finish up Third Grade, I will also maintain a summer math program for her, involving extra math practice and iPad apps revolving around her weak areas or just to reinforce what she's learned so we don't forget. Our year more than likely will finish up at the end of May. Can you believe that is two and a half months? I hope my ramblings have helped someone. It is not easy to decided on your books! It is sometimes, very much a trial and error process! I think that listening to your child, and being observant to how he/she learns and what they struggle with is key to overall excess in your homeschooling.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

the new editions have arrived....



Ella is using a literature guide from Progeny Press while reading The Secret Garden...and I have one for Anne of Green Garden, but we may use that next year. I would like to get through the guide for Farmer Boy before school ends, and Sarah, Plain and Tall as well. So, that said...Anne of Green Gables with its sweet pink hardcover is MINE for the first reading! The other books in this series of beautiful editions are well-known, including Black Beauty. Ella's Easter basket may contain that one, with the lovely horses adorning the front! I am THRILLED to have a daughter who loves to read. She is currently curled up beside the fire at my parents' house. One of their cats, Bear, is curled up beside HER. Adorable photo.

Monday, March 5, 2012

the time has come








for some warmer weather photos. these are some of my favorites from the past couple weeks....




Saturday, March 3, 2012

Heart's Safe Passage, a review!


It's 1813 and all Phoebe Lee wants out of life is to practice midwifery in Loudon County, Virginia. When Belinda, her pregnant sister-in-law, presses Phoebe to accompany her onto a British privateer in order to cross the Atlantic and save her husband from an English prison, Phoebe tries to refuse, then finds herself kidnapped.

Captain Rafe Docherty is a man in search of revenge. His ship is no place for women, but he needs Belinda in order to obtain information about the man who destroyed his family and his life. Between Belinda's whining and Phoebe's hostility, Rafe can't help but wonder if he made the right choice.
When it becomes apparent there is an enemy among them on the ship, the stakes are raised. Will they reach the English shore in time? Can love and forgiveness overcome vengeance?

Book 2 in The Midwives series, Heart's Safe Passage is a stirring tale of love, intrigue, and adventure on the high seas. Readers will feel the salt spray and the rolling waves as they journey with Laurie Alice Eakes's vivid characters on the treacherous path toward redemption.

This book BEGINS with so much excitement! I must say I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed this read as secrets were spilled, challenged, and forgiven. The author has firmly rooted a Christian theme in this book, which comes through especially in the life of Rafe. The setting of the book- out in the sea- is so much FUN! It read brilliantly, every word coming together just right. As much as I enjoyed the first of the Midwives series, I enjoyed this one even more. The heroine, Phoebe, was so very capable, resilient, and lovely. It was quite exciting to see how she and Rafe interacted through the course of the story.

I received this free review copy in return for an honest review from Baker Publishing Group.