Archive | April 2013

MDs, NPs, Nurse Practitioners, Doctor Dad…..What’s a Mama to do?

The Lord always is good. For whatever reason this winter has been a season full of doctor visits for our family. (Good-bye, tax return.sigh.but thank you, Lord, that we had it!)

It started out with our daughter’s eczema flaring up. I tried our usual remedies and lots of new ones but was still not able to get it under control. It was spreading, itchy, red and really starting to upset her.

We have had a visit or two to the dermatologist earlier in our parenting career. Pretty much went like this, here’s some steroid medicine, no, we don’t really look into what causes eczema, give us $500.00, good-bye! Oh, and you could add some bleach to the bath water. Really?…..Ummm, no, thanks!

So around Thanksgiving time I decided to take her to see a Naturopathic Physician. She does muscle testing. Not sure how that works but we’ll take her word for it! She finds that my daughter is sensitive to all sorts of foods! Dairy, eggs, artificial dyes and flavorings, add this to the fact that she already has Celiac Disease, which requires a strict gluten free diet. She is already without an ounce of fat and she started losing weight. She was very careful to follow the doctors instructions but even after a couple months things weren’t clearing up! In fact, they seemed to be getting worse.

We decided to try a different Naturopathic Physician. He is really kind and seems to have a lot of knowledge. He listened to us and didn’t even look at her skin much. He loaded us up with vitamins and herbal/homeopathic supplements.  We saw him a few times and still things were not getting better.

Finally one night my daughter came into our bedroom after the other kids are sleeping. The rash had spread onto her face and neck and everyone commented on it. She started sobbing and telling Blue- eyes and me how she is struggling so much. She tells us that she prays everyday that God will heal her and it just doesn’t seem like He hears her. She says that we keep telling her it will be ok and we’ll get it figured out but when? Our hearts are breaking for her. After she goes back to bed Blue- eyes goes into her room and prays for her until she falls asleep.

Next morning, you know it, I am on a mission. In desperation I decide to bring her to the dermatologist. First I call and they say they don’t have an opening for almost a month. Oh no! But wait there actually is a cancellation for later that day. Can we make it? Yes! Luckily Blue-eyes is working in the same area as the dermatologist so he meets us there and takes the other kids to lunch while I bring her to her appointment.

By this time I am freaked out that my daughter actually has some horrible rare skin disorder. The doctor comes in and checks out her skin and makes his diagnosis in about five minutes. Just plain old eczema with a raging staph infection in it. What?! I guess all of our bodies have staph present and sometimes it can infect open cuts. Once staph is present, the skin cannot heal. Because she was scratching, mostly in her sleep, the skin would get new small openings and the infection would spread.

Now, I cannot even tell you the last time anyone at this house was on an antibiotic but we went and filled our prescription and literally, within 48 hours, it was like a miracle taking place! The dermatologist was completely right. Her rash is gone except a little bit of normal looking eczema on her elbows and wrists. She says that the verse that says that “God will not give us more than we are able to bear” has been made alive to her because she seriously could bear it no more and right then God allowed her to be healed. Thank you, Father, for being faithful to my girl!

Then I felt bad for not taking her there sooner but I was doing what I thought was best. Too bad that neither of those naturopathic doctors picked up on that! The word says that God refines us through trials, my daughter and I have talked a lot about what we can learn from this season, compassion, long suffering, and trusting God even when it FEELS like He’s not listening. But I keep telling her that her skin is going to be radiantly healthy and beautiful after all those supplements she’s been taking!

In between times my oldest son had two mishaps that perhaps could have used stitches. Had it not been for doctor Dad, he would have been hauled in both times. One of the many things I love about Blue-eyes, his ability to remain as calm as a cucumber in any situation. Then, one more mishap that was even too much for Doctor Dad, so off he went to the E.R. where he got 11 stitches put in his cheek. Thankfully, in every one of those situations, Blue-eyes happened to be here. When my kid is bleeding profusely I get a little (or a lot) freaked out.

Then most recently, my smaller son had a huge swollen lymph node under his chin. Because I know that swollen lymph nodes can be sign of the dreaded C word. We decide to bring him to the pediatrician. He was pretty excited because this is a rarity at our house. We do not bring our kids to well child visits because we don’t vaccinate and if they are eating, happy and growing I see no reason at all to go.

Because my son had not been seen at this clinic before there was a lot of paper work. Why does it matter if we are Hispanic or white? The receptionist said it is because of grants they get from the government. Hmmm….I still don’t see why it matters. Then I get to the other paper work and I started feeling a little annoyed. What does whether or not we have guns in our home have to do with my doctor visit? And who would check the box that says “yes” and then check the “no” box for the next question. Are they locked up? And what would happen if you did?

After reading through a few more I decided that since the government was not paying for my child’s visit I was not obligated to answer any more questions (Yay! For a while I am free to pay for my own child’s doctor visit.  What a novelty ) .  I was already feeling grumpy when we went back to our room. Then I got grumpier, all over the exam room walls there was propaganda about vaccines and other ways to keep your child “safe”.

I was feeling defensive and grumpy before the doctor even came in. Then she came in and funny thing, she reminded me so much of one of my favorite nieces. She was young and as sweet as could be. She told me the lymph node was swollen because of a small infection on his chapped lips and it’s common for kids to get swollen lymph nodes on their necks and faces. Use Neo-sporin for a few days and it should be fine. (It worked.) She gave me couple of prescriptions for his seasonal allergies, which I definitely won’t be using.

All of my defensiveness fell away and we ended up having a nice visit. she gave me some tips about NPs. She said to beware if they are selling supplements because that can be where they make a lot of their money. She said she has seen some kids on a lot of unnecessary supplements. Good advice, I thought.

I had to laugh at myself a little on the way home. And wonder at the way it all worked out. If someone is well they don’t need a doctor. Pregnancy is not a sickness and home is the safest, healthiest place for the healthy delivery of a healthy baby. But a sick baby needs a doctor. I think well child visits are a scam. Maybe to make us quite sure that we can’t afford to pay for our families own health care. Who knows!?

What is a mama to do? Well, I can tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to feed my family lots of healthy food, let them get lots of fresh air and sunshine. I’m going to call doctor dad if anyone is bleeding more than a little. And I’m going to trust the Lord to lead us each step of the way as we care for His heritage. “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Psalm 127:3

Oh, and our daughter, the other night before prayers Blue-eyes was tickling her feet and she was laughing and laughing. Just laughing her thirteen year old head off. I was listening in from the other room and my heart was so full of praise! Later he asked me,”How long has it been since she laughed like that?” It’s been a few months! Oh, praise the Lord that “He restores the years (or months) that the locusts have eaten”!

“His mercies are new every morning and His compassions they fail not!”

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Homeschooling Boys Part 4, Sit Down, Little Son

“A boy’s will is the wind’s will and the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts…….” Longfellow

blog 038I hope you have enjoyed reading this series of blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Now, hopefully, I will be able to figure out how to print them off so I can include them in my son’s school records for this year.

While the previous posts have described the heart and soul of my son’s education, this post is all about what has provided the structure and therefore it is of no less importance.  Although, I must say, on his part, less exciting and certainly requiring more self discipline.  I will not be including the literature based curricula that we have used for history, geography, and science because they are not considered “school” by my kids, too much fun. They go along with the second part of this series, Homeschooling Boys Part 2, For the Love of a Story. 

Here is an entry from his history notebook from last year entitled “Leif becomes a Christian”. I love the bright glow covering everything!

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Another history notebook entry.

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We work on all of our literature based curricula in the afternoons or evenings and I do not feel the need to keep to a schedule with any of them.  We do what works out each day and they are thought of as a treat for sure! On library, field trip or homeschool group days our time is limited so we are likely to skip them.

Because we pretty much have either a pregnant mama or a nursing baby at all times at our house, our school day needs to be very relaxed. I do not try to start each morning at a certain time or be too rigid in any way. No one here thrives on stress, especially me! On the other hand, our days are full of routine. I think it provides kids with a great deal of security when they know what to expect from their days.

So, loosely, this is what our mornings look like. The school bus stops right outside our house at 8:00, that’s kind of the signal for the kids that it’s time to get up. A few of them are in bed reading.  They get up, do their “morning chores”, come down for breakfast, and then choose another small job to help get the kitchen and breakfast area cleaned up. The boys then go outside to take care of Willy and the chickens.

I try to start each day out with God’s word. Thankfully, our church has an excellent Sunday school. (If any of our kid’s current or former Sunday school teachers are reading this, please know how much we appreciate you!) The thing I like the most about it is that it doesn’t turn God’s word into “twaddle” (a Charlotte Mason term) and cutesy songs, but rather gently feeds the kids “the sincere milk of the word”.  Kids often understand the things of God much more readily that we give them credit for!

I have just used the kids Sunday school lessons then as the structure for their individual Bible time each morning.  Kindergarten through second grade they memorize Bible verses and the commandments. Each morning they copy their memory work into their journals and when they are very young that is pretty much all I require of them for handwriting.  The girls seem to enjoy writing at a younger age.  But for the boys that’s about all they can handle.

Now that my oldest son is in third grade he also has Sunday school paperwork. He reads or I have read to him a couple assigned chapters and then he has ten or so questions to answer. This has been a wonderful way to get my kids into the word each day. He works on a couple questions a day. I make sure he writes the answers in complete sentences. I also have him read the story out of the Bible story book to increase his understanding.  He is also studying and memorizing sections of Luther’s Catechism.

Afterwards he usually moves on to math. We use Math.U.See. I was able to attend a work shop put on by the company a few years ago when we made the switch and it just makes a lot of sense. Plus, each lesson is on DVD so I really don’t need to teach it.  Now that my oldest daughter is learning algebra I’m really thankful for this! They have tailored the curriculum to the SAT but not to the yearly grade exams. So typically a child using Math.U.See might not score well on standardized testing in the elementary years but will score exceptionally well later on.  I love the way it teaches the different concepts and all of my kids like math now! I also like the fact that it doesn’t go by “grade” level, leaving everyone more comfortable to work at their own pace.

Everyday he reads a little aloud to me but I try to never weary him. When he was still sounding out most words I would have him read one page then I would read one. Taking turns gives them a break and keeps the story interesting. While unlocking the written word with your child is amazing and exciting, it can also become tedious, for us and them! Just remember that they learn line upon line, precept upon precept. Even just sounding out a few words a day is practice and practice means progress!  Even now that he is reading a lot on his own I’ll have him read aloud to me. I think it is an important skill to be able to read aloud with confidence.  Right now he is reading My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, and is loving it!

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Although I wasn’t planning to, this year I have also added Spell to Write and Read to his formal studies.  He and his brother were busy writing war stories this fall and I could see that he needed more spelling knowledge. blog 033I have been using this curriculum with his sisters for the last couple years and I have learned so much! So many of the mysteries of the written English language now make sense to us! For example, ch says /k/ when the word is of Greek origin and /sh/ when the word is French. Why the silent k in knock etc.? Because it is “the ghost of a forgotten sound”,  in old and middle English the k was actually pronounced and the spelling of the word never changed. Cool! There is so much more, too! Probably next year he will join his sisters in their study of the Greek and Latin roots in the English language and Spell to Write and Read compliments that perfectly! I was able to attend a workshop  with the curriculum’s  creator, Wanda Sanseri a few years ago. If you look into this curriculum it seems a little over whelming but it is well worth pursuing. I use it in a self modified version that has worked really well for our family.

His war story is several pages long. One day he said,”Mom, how come our stories sound like a kid wrote them instead of like a real story?” Hmm……Well, for one thing kids did write them! It opened up a discussion about adjectives and interesting sentences structure! He took it to heart, too. Later on in his story he wrote, “We grabbed guns and knives and ran to the army trucks and zoomed off through the woods to the battle field.” Not too bad!

He is growing up though! The other day he was reading something about the Civil War and he came up to me looking very serious. “Mom,”he said, ” I used to think it would be kind of fun to have a war here but I didn’t know war was so terrible. I’m going to pray that we never have a war here!”

Growing in wisdom, growing in grace. I ‘m looking forward to watching the rest of the story unfold! And like Mary, the mother of my Lord, and every other mama, truly I am blessed among women!

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In closing I wanted to share this poem that I found!

God made a world out of his dreams,

Of magic mountains, oceans, and streams,

Prairies and plains and wooded land.

Then paused and thought,”I need someone to stand,

On top of the mountains, to conquer the seas,

Explore the plains and climb the trees.

Someone to start out small and grow,

Sturdy and strong like a tree” and so

He created boys, full of spirit and fun

To explore and conquer, to romp and run

With dirty faces, and banged up chins

With courageous hearts and boyish grins.

And when he’d completed the task he’d begun

Surely He said,”That’s a job well done!”

Author unknown

Homeschooling Boys Part 3….. Of a Puppy Dog and the Great Outdoors

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Around the time our oldest son turned six we got a puppy. An adorable golden retriever. We named him Willy. I had no idea the commitment we were making! In the back of my mind I thought if it didn’t work out we could just pass on our beautiful puppy. But, no, our boys took to that little dog like they had a new brother. I could see that short of tearing my son’s heart out of his body, this dog was here to stay. And it wasn’t just puppy love either. My oldest son has prayed for Willy every night,”God, help me to be a good boy and help Willy to be a good puppy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”  Or quite on accident, without even noticing, he sometimes says, “God, help me to be a good puppy and Willy to be a good boy.” I’m sure God gets it all straightened out. They are constant companions. Roaming the hillside and the wood. Blond tail wagging, cameo, bows and hunting packs, disappearing into the tall grasses. They tell me that he is really good at hide and seek.  And they are pretty sure he is a Christian because he just seems …good.

My boys spend about an hour each morning at their “school work”. (The last part of this series will explain what that’s all about. Homeschooling Boys Part 4, Sit Down Little Son, which I will be posting soon) The rest of their day is mostly spent outdoors. Their backpacks hold field guides for identifying fora and fauna, water bottles and apples. First aid kits, journals and pencils, who knows what else. They are always ready for adventure!

They have picked me hundreds of wild flowers, discovered an old orchard with apple and plum trees, saved injured birds and baby bunnies (Bad, Willy!). They have found nests and watched deer from a short distance. They have watched rabbits scurry down holes and listened to countless bird’s songs.

They have found cool rocks and bones. Once they came back with armfuls of elk bones and tried to reassemble the skeleton. They have caught frogs and lizards. Found beautiful bird egg shells. They come home rosy cheeked and sparkly eyed, running down the hill with Willy loping along side of them. Rubber boots and rain coats, bare backed and sweaty, winter hats and mittens, but always happy.

They have made tree stands and forts and craftily hidden shelters. They have built dams on the creek. They have dug big holes with shovels, for what? Who knows! But it has kept them occupied for days. Building their muscles, teaching them the satisfaction of being a man, with rhythm and grit, getting the job done.

Lots of times their Dad or I have hiked around for the afternoon, sworn to secrecy, being shown their favorite spots, secret hideouts and cool discoveries.

They have built carts for Willy to pull, book cases for their sister’s birthdays, and whittled wooden spoons. They know how to take apart bicycles and put them back together again. My oldest son can put air in tires using the air compressor. His Dad taught him how to pump gas. He loves to open jars for me or carry heavy boxes. He is only nine and he actually has more grit than I do……but the other day I proved to him that I can still beat him at arm wrestling. He was surprised and disappointed. It won’t be long…….

Our back yard has been Jamestown reenacted for days at a time, Roanoke, Plymouth, Indian villages and Viking camps. Our swing-set has sailed the seven seas countless times over. Sometimes through storms so fierce that the poor pilgrims girls underneath have almost shed real tears. But, the brave sea captain and the sea monkey perched upon the up most mast have weathered the storm again and again.  Our deck has been a biplane dropping Bibles behind the iron curtain.  Our garage has been transformed into a well thought out and organized Nature Museum.

All of these things have been conceived and carried out on their own accord, without suggestion or prompting from us. We have never had a TV or any video games at our house. I don’t think my kids are different than anyone else’s but, sadly, I do think they are of a dwindling breed of children who’s minds and imaginations have been allowed to form completely naturally. We live in a “safety” obsessed society. Some parents would rather their kids sat in front of the TV or played computer games where they are safe and clean and in sight. Perhaps they are physically safe, but what about the far more important safety of their souls and spirits? I suppose since we no longer trust God with the timely creation of our children, we can’t fully trust that their number of days and breath of life is in his hands either.

I can see that my oldest son has matured here lately. He feels funny now if the neighbor lady catches him in a game of pretend. The complete abandon and freedom of early childhood is escaping him. That’s  the way it is and how I love this little man child that the Lord has given me! How thankful I am that the happy, carefree, golden hours of childhood were not kept from him! How quickly time goes! Never again except in those early years does the world feel so fresh and wonderful, so innocent and limitless.

Nearly every day of this guy’s life his Dad has read the scriptures to him and prayed for him. Every night he has been thoroughly kissed and hugged and put to bed under the blessing of the God of heaven and earth. Every day he has roamed happy and free the earth that God has created. Without grown ups always there to tell him what he should think and observe and look at. And he is “growing strong and vigorous like a plant”.

I am glad that this will lay the foundation of his life and education. Who knows what God might have in store for his life but I know this, if he knows Jesus Christ and understands that the word of God is a light unto his path and a lamp unto his way, if he learns how to love the people around him well, he will know happiness. I ask God to bless him with this richness.

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 Every Child

Edna Casler Joll

Every child should know a hill,

And the clean joy of running down it’s long slope

With the wind in his hair.

He should know a tree-

The comfort of it’s cool lap of shade,

And the supple strength of it’s arms

Balancing him between earth and sky

So he is the creature of both.

He should know bits of singing water-

The strange mysteries of it’s depths,

And the sweet grasses that border it.

Every child should know some scrap

Of uninterrupted sky, to shout against;

And have one star, dependable

 and bright

For wishing on.

……Homeschooling Boys Part 2 For the Love of a Story

When my little son turned 5 or 6 I could see that he would not enjoy sitting down to seat work and hand writing like his older sisters had. I had read enough about the development of little boys to agree with others who had observed that the traditional way of teaching the early elementary years of school is stacked against boys. Their fine motor skills are often more immature than those of their female peers. It is more difficult for them to sit still. This can lead to over diagnosis of ADD/ADHD and other learning troubles.

I did not in anyway want to make education distasteful to him.  Around this time I started to really think about my philosophy of education. What are my goals in providing my kids with an education? With babies and preschoolers, as well as school aged children to care for I need to use all of my resources wisely. Every amount of energy, time and attention I invest must be with the best of my ability in shaping their soul and character.

The end result of this searching and wondering was a total reshaping of our homeschool. “As a stream can rise no higher than it’s source, so it is probable that no educational effort can rise higher than the whole scheme of thought which gives it birth….” (Charlotte Mason) And what are the thoughts and lofty aspirations that are giving birth to the education of my precious children?

Upon the wall of our home I have written a quote by James Stephen which reads, “I have learned, that the head does not hear anything until the heart has listened, and what the heart understands today the head will know tomorrow.” I believe this is true. And what better way to reach the heart of my boy than through books?

Wonderful, beautiful books, full of adventure and good, noble characters! Books who’s authors can help to teach and shape the souls of my kids. Whole and living books, written with passion, about every subject imaginable! In this way I can put my kids under the teaching of great minds of men and women from the past and present. What a shame when the early formative years of children’s lives are allowed to be wasted with foolish and violent media! Parents, carefully guard the hearts and minds of your young children! What we feed into our hearts and minds is what will come out! What a charge God has given us in protecting these precious ones!

I had read of a school of thought that says that given the ideal atmosphere and proper foundation children will learn to read just like they learn to talk and walk. Without much stress or effort on their part, it will naturally happen. Prayerfully and purposefully I set out to try to create that atmosphere in my home.

From the time my kids are very young I will put my finger under the words as I read them a story. I teach them that letters make sounds and that the sounds blended together make words. (And I let them watch The Letter Factory, a lot!) I tell them how wonderful and important it is to be able to read. I tell them how God chose to communicate himself to us through the written word. It is through reading that we can be sure not to be fooled by the erroneous teachings of men, by “studying the scriptures daily to see whether these things are so”, like they did in the early church.

We have read so many books! Most importantly, the Book of Books, the Bible. The source of all goodness and truth. We like the Arthur Maxwell Bible Story series. They are not “dumbed down” like some we have tried. He is an excellent story teller. We use the King James Version Bible. I think it is good for the minds of kids to read the Old English writing. Ours have had no problem reading through short verses even with their earliest reading skills.

After a lot of study and prayer I felt that the best way to engage my son in “the gentle art of learning” would be to set some things on the back burner for a few years. Things like grammar, spelling, and hand writing. Instead I wanted to capture his heart and mind.

Our family has sat spell bound and breathless, we have had tears in our eyes and on our cheeks, we have laughed until our tummies hurt reading stories, real and fictional, about people in far away times and places. People in all sorts of situations, who were strong and brave and good. People who had such faith that many beautiful stories have come out of horrible darkness. They will never forget these historical things because they have felt them in their hearts.

My oldest son is nine and a half. I have wondered sometimes if I have been doing the right thing. Even earlier this winter he was still sounding out a lot of words and not really reading silently very often for his own pleasure. But, lo, and behold! Along comes The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (in an abridged version, 200 pages). He has seen the Christian Youth Theater performance and loved it. He can’t convince me to read the book right then, and literally, over night my son turns into a book worm!

He finishes Robin Hood in a couple of days and is on to Ivanhoe (abridged as well). But this book actually has him teary eyed and then jubilant, when he finds out his hero craftily escaped the fire! I now know the story line of Ivanhoe. He has been coming to me for one book after another. Right now he is reading Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry.

I am so happy that everything has come full circle and he is laughing and crying over his books. It was a little long in coming but it has been completely stress free on his part as well as mine. His little brother told me the other day,”He is kind of boring now, all he wants to do is read!”

A couple of weeks ago our oldest son also told his Dad that all the other kids in his Sunday School class know how to write in cursive and he would like to learn too. Sure, Son! Out come the cursive hand writing books and he is diligently practicing his hand writing on his own accord.

I don’t regret for a minute the relaxed approach that we have taken. Read more about this in Homeschooling Boys Part 3, Of a Puppy Dog and the Great Outdoors, which I will be posting sometime soon.

There are too many good books to list but here are some that our family, and specifically our boys,  have found to be the cream of the crop!

Beautiful Feet Books Early American History, this is a fabulous literature, notebooking based curriculum, I just cannot even say enough good about it! All of the books that they have chosen are wonderful.

Treasures of the Snow and The Star of Light by Patricia St.John

The Little Pilgrim’s Progress adapted from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

The Laura Ingalls Wilder books

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne

Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachian

The Sign of the Beaver, The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray

The Butterfly, Pink and Say, January’s Sparrow by Patricia Polacco

Number the Stars by Lois Lowery

“……..Sons Vigorous and Tall as Growing Plants” Part 1

The other night it rained all night long. The sun shone bright the next morning and I sat on my front porch with a cup of coffee.  My boys were up, dressed in their cameo, BB guns slung over their shoulders. Up to greet the day…..I watch them go, up the hill, through the fresh green springtime that sparkles like jewels around them. The dog’s tail wags. They are happy. Half way up they stop suddenly, they spin around, guns drawn. Imaginary lassos  twirl wildly, a few minutes later the trouble is over and they calmly continue on their way. They are too far away for me to make out their words. It’s like I am watching a silent film, one which captures the wholesome goodness of little boys.

But, alas, I am a writer. This moment has captured my heart and my mind. Everything else is forgotten and with teary eyes and a full heart I watch my boys meander their way up the hill to the woods beyond and out of sight. And I love them.

I have folders and notebooks and journals full of writings. Moments of time, when my heart is so full that it hurts, and lest I cease living I must write it down. From the tender new love of a wife, until now, scattered around, my heart is written on paper.

And so I sit with the sun on my face and I think about my sons. They are mysterious to me, I don’t try to understand them completely because they are little men in the makings. I leave that to Blue eyes. I hope they will grow up to be good men like their Father. I hope they will love the Lord and walk according to His word.

I don’t try to make them be “safe” and clean because I want them to be strong and vigorous like a tree. I hope they grow up and learn how to pray for and love a woman. I hope they love babies. I hope they will find purpose and pleasure in working hard and providing for those they love.

My oldest son turned nine last fall. He is finishing up his early elementary education. His father and I have taught him at home and we are so very happy with the fruit we are seeing!  Before he started school, his two older sisters were educated with a curriculum in a box, very much “school at home” type of thing. When it came time for us to begin his formal education, though, my heart was led in a different direction.

In celebration of his completion of third grade I thought it would be fun to do a series of blogs on my thoughts on educating my sons. I hope you will be inspired over the next couple of weeks as I share some of my heart and wisdom I have gleaned as I have endeavored to raise these guys in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

“For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10Image

“Teach us to Number Our Days That We May Apply Our Hearts Unto Wisdom”

“Though we travel the world over to find beautiful, we must carry it within us or we find it not.” Emerson

We begin our day with a leisurely morning visit to the nursery……………….

Image“I had slept and dreamed that life was duty,

But waked to find that life was beauty….”

ImageFish pond

Image“Standing, with reluctant feet, where the brook and river meet…….”

‘Maidenhood’ Longfellow


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Decisions, decisions………….

Image“Time for a little something,” thought Pooh.

Sampling raw local honey.

ImageLittle legs resting.

“God has such a splendid way

Of tempting beauty out of clay,

And from the scattered dust that sleep

Summoned men who laugh and weep.”

Louise Ayres Garnett

ImageWe can’t wait to wear our gardening gloves!

ImageO, the possibilities!

“Here is my description of a truly happy land……….

Sons vigorous and tall as growing plants……..”

ImageIsabelle’s garden decor made from a broken tea cup.

ImageGreen bean tepee, this is after he trimmed the branches about 1/3 of the way down……hmmmm, what was he imagining?

“One of the best things in the world is to be a boy; it requires no experience but needs some practice to be a good one.”

Charles Dudley Warner

…………our day ends by drawing the plans and making pretty things for our gardens. We also plant garlic. Twelve new bulbs from one old one. It should be ready to harvest in September, or you can eat it green during the summer, for a milder taste.

Schooling in the Springtime

ImageI don’t know about you but when the lovely spring weather comes, the sky is blue and the sun is shining, I have the hardest time staying inside to do school work. This year I am happy to say we have been able to mix the two~ sun shine and school!

As usual inspiration hit me in the form of a book, just a random gardening book given to the kids by a neighbor. Kids in the Garden by Elizabeth McCorquodale. It has some cool projects and lots of information about starting and maintaining a garden.

A few weeks ago Blue eyes and I watched http://www.backtoedenfilm.com ,along with our kids who were interested, which turned out to be most of the older ones. We are so inspired about our gardens now and excited to see what God will bless us with, even in our small neighborhood lot.

On an especially nice day we were browsing through Kids in the Garden and came across directions for making compost. Perfect! Off we ventured into the forest, my favorite place to be on sun dappled afternoons, to scoop up a couple five gallon pails of “browns”, decaying leaves, pine needles etc. Boys and shovels go so well together!

We built a bin and layered our browns and greens(uncooked fruits and vegi scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, yard clippings, egg shells etc.), added lots of worms and a few shovelfuls of dirt and we are hoping to have nice rich compost to add to our gardens in as little as eight weeks. How cool is that?

We love to use the note-booking approach. This is a casual narration style of learning that works well for us. At our house it looks like this: every one gets their notebook, we’ll use History for an example, and sits down on the living-room floor. Our “crayon box”, colored pencils and other art supplies go in the middle. I read books aloud and they may do what ever they choose in their notebook as long as it goes with what we are reading about. Little ones draw pictures that are labeled and dated, with help if need be, older kids take notes and draw.

Simple but more powerful, than perhaps it sounds. My kids have been very proud of their History notebooks. They have shared them with my mom when she has come to visit and I love to hear them tell her about the pictures. They really internalize what they are able to take in and then put back out in the way that comes naturally to them.

Since our History notebooks are very thick I told them to turn them upside down and backwards and start a Science Notebook on that end. Ta~da! Without spending any money or time a large part of our spring time homeschool has been born and we are all very excited!

Now when the outside is calling to us, our school day can just be transferred out the door! Our math lessons can be done in the morning and our reading in the late afternoon. Our handwriting, reading, science, and art can easily be accomplished through any number of these spring projects. Especially when we are recording each step in our notebooks!

Watch Back to Eden film and discuss content

Research GMOs and arificial fertalizers/herbacides what are the pros and cons of using them

Stir our compost and check out what is happening in there, add water if necessary

Plan our gardens, each child has been given a space to cultivate and grow, because I want our harvest to be useful to our household menu I gave them some ideas to choose from. Their choices are as follows:

the boys: vines, sugar snap peas, green beans, butternut squash, sugar pumpkins, zucchini, climbing cucumbers. What fun to build a tepee for the vines to cover! We are hoping to grow enough green beans to can some as well!

The girls are paired an older with a younger and have chosen to do salsa garden and a salad garden for fresh eating.

Visit our local green house to purchase seeds or vegi starts (This green house/ gardening center is so cool, by the way, that sometimes Blue eyes and I will get a Starbucks and wander around there for a Saturday morning date!)

Work in our gardens………watch our seeds sprout, record their growth, draw the sprouts, blossoms and mature fruit in our science notebooks

Research the concept of “earthing” Why does it make sense?

Visit the Back to Eden garden, which happens to be just a couple hours from our house!

Read The Secret Garden

Purchase butterfly and lady bug larva and observe the life cycle (if you’ve never done this before you need to try it! All of us but especially our 3 and 5 year old daughters will love it this year! You can order them online and have them shipped to you, complete with a hanging home and directions.) 

and every other cool thing we think of!!!

Just today my oldest daughter was looking on Pinterest for ideas for plant labels, and other neat stuff for her garden. Every once in awhile our three year old will say to her,”Your my sister and remember we are sharing a garden?” She also told her she wanted to plant seeds and chocolate chips! So cute and bonding for them. They are planning to buy matching gardening gloves at the gardening center.

We are well under way. Our notebooks are filling up with poems about the smell of the forest, drawings, and a variety of other writings. New gardening books came home with us from the library this week. I have a feeling that we will have a very nice spring session of schooling!

I am so thankful again in this season that my days are spent with my children, living, learning, loving, worshiping together. Meandering through life together, as the Lord leads us. Not bound and stifled by any outside forces. Truly the Lord is good to give us the freedom and ability to educate or children at home!

If any other ideas came to mind, please share!