Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Modern Art

Mr. Honey's First Work. He calls it "Organized Chaos".

Think it'll pass muster at one-a these yer art exxybishuns?

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Muffin

Twelve years ago, the Lord saw fit to bless Mr. Honey and I (mere infants ourselves) with an enchanting bundle of joy.

Charmed by her curious ways, we allowed her freedom to explore her environment~ and scrambled for babyproofing supplies.

Twice a big sister...

she embraced her new friends with love and wonder.

Our little Muffin is growing up~

She's twelve years old today. Happy birthday, Triss!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Little Boo

Nine years ago today, we were blessed with a sweet baby...

She admired big sister in all things....
and when little sister arrived she was ready to share...

Our little Boo, our shining star...

She is nine years old today.
We love you, sweet girl!

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Lovely Books, the Duty-of-the-Day, and One of the Reasons I Do What I Do.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

His Yoke

Come unto me,
all ye that labor and are heavy laden,
And I will give thee rest.
Take my yoke upon you
And learn of me;
For I am meek and lowly in heart:
And ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy,
And my burden is light.

--Matthew 11:28-30

Yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144:15b

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I have a love-hate relationship with lists. And it's not a healthy relationship.

I am either a slave to my lists or in rebellion against them. It has been rebellion for Quite Some Time, except where the kids' schooling and a few absolutely necessary adult-responsibility items are concerned. But the tide is beginning to turn in favor of The Lists again. And since they are slave drivers and I the slave, I am afraid. I don't want to turn back into the woman who is constantly rehearsing her lists in her head or referring to them every five minutes so she doesn't leave anything out. I want to have time for hugs and checking out the butterfly that just landed on the screen-- without adding them to the list.

I agree with my friend Queen Shenaynay, that lists are a good tool. How to tame them and keep them in their place? Plan your work and work your plan, Mr. Honey says. I think in addition, I will work on my flexibility, adaptability and discern-ability.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


A loving heart is the truest wisdom. -- Charles Dickens

The Wit at Breakfast

As we sat down to breakfast this morning, Triss noticed the music playing on the stereo.

"Oh, Aaron Copland," she said.

"No," said I, ever the teacher. "This is 'Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns'. 'Simple Gifts' is a folksong, not a song Aaron Copland wrote. He did an arrangement of the tune in 'Appalachian Spring', but it is an old Shaker song."

"You know who the Shakers were, don't you?" asked Daddy (aka Mr. Honey). "They were the Eskimos before they learned to make fur coats."

Ba-dum bum.

He thought that up All By Himself.

Before his morning coffee, even.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sun and Moon

Tonight we learned that the sun is around 400 times larger than the moon. And the sun is around 400 times further away from earth than the moon. This is why total eclipses of the sun are possible.

Nowhere else in the solar system is this true. There are over 150 moons in our solar system, but not one other looks similar in size to the sun from the parent planet.

This is not amazing coincidence. It is evidence. Evidence of a Creator.

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse..."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Taking Ownership

Around a month ago I adapted a chore rotation chart that I found at Large Family Logistics and gave the children daily responsibilities in several areas of the house. I then began the task of hovering to ensure the kids get the work done at least some of the time. After a month, although they are not yet getting things done without reminders, I am encouraged by signs like this one (taped to the wall above the kitchen trash can):

Please mak shr you put the trash in the bag not the can. -- Mariel.

(And no, I just can't take it down. She is just going to have to see those misspelled words because I receive a blessing every time I look at it!)

[Update, 9/13/06: I showed the sign to Mr. Honey and he was reminded of the M & M's slogan: "Melts in your mouth, not in your hands!"]

Monday, September 11, 2006

Never Forget

"Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends." --John 15:13

When I think of September 11th, I remember two things the most. I remember that so many people were willing to give their lives to save or protect others, and I remember that the entire United States Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol building and sang "God bless America."

My prayer today is that the Lord would comfort and support those who grieve on this day of remembrance; that the children of America would be taught to be honest, courageous individuals willing to defend our unalienable rights-- patriots in a thinking sense and not jingoists; that the Lord would send statesmen and not politicians to lead us; that our military and others fighting for freedom in foreign lands would come home triumphant; and that none would use liberty as an occasion to sin.

Donna-Jean is planning to post something about September 11th each day this week.

Here is a series of essays written to educators after 9/11.

And the complete text of President Bush's State of the Union address eleven days after 9/11.

Here is a speech he gave five days ago which details some of the progress the U.S. has made in the last five years.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


A friend gave us a copy of _Homeschool Family Fitness_ by Bruce Whitney, Ph.D., a few weeks ago, which I greatly appreciate because we have relied on the recreation department for P.E. thus far, and this year it does not look like we will take any classes. I am impressed with this curriculum. It is easy for a non-P.E. person to follow, and includes a lot of information, including labs and worksheets you can print out for the kids.

We began our lessons in this book a couple of weeks ago. There was a test at the beginning, in which, among other things, we were to do as many push-ups as we could, up to ten. I am very out of shape. I could not even do one push-up.

But this week I did eight! We have attempted push-ups every day for two weeks and now I can do them. Not so my chin touches the floor, but I am using my arms and nothing else to push myself up.

Mariel could do ten right off-- ten boy push-ups. The rest of us have done the tamer girl push-ups. Maybe in a few weeks we will be able to do the boy push-ups too.

Every midmorning we do our exercises-- roll ups, push ups, kangaroo jumps and flying; and then we move on to the game or exercise of the week. Last week was soccer. The older girls have played soccer before, so we had a lot of fun stealing the ball away from each other. The week before that we did walking, running and jumping exercises. I never realized there were so many different ways to walk, run and jump.

I've got to go now and buy some 3/8 " sash rope for our P.E. class tomorrow. This week it's jumping rope. Fun!


Faith is the brightest evidence of things beyond our sight;
It pierces through the veil of sense and dwells in heavenly light.

It sets times past in present view, brings distant prospects home
Of things a thousand years ago or thousand years to come.

By faith we know the worlds were made by God's almighty Word;
Abram to unknown countries led, by faith obeyed the Lord.

He sought a city fair and high, built by th'eternal hands,
And faith assures us, tho' we die, that heav'nly building stands.

--Isaac Watts 1674-1748

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Jungle of Wonders

Oh, please go read this beautiful post written by a young friend.

Teaching Reading

There has been some discussion about teaching reading on a list I subscribe to lately. I have taught two of my children to read and am in the process of teaching a third. My oldest, Triss, basically taught herself to read at age four. My middle girl, Mariel, now almost nine, had struggles at first (mainly because I insisted she learn phonetically, which just didn't click with her). I am now teaching Cornflower, who is almost six, and am combining "words as ideas" with phonics and sight words. These three different girls have shown me that there is more to reading than decoding and phonemes, although those things certainly come into play. I was phonics all the way when we started homeschooling, but have refined my position gradually through study and experience.

The discussion on-list has been very interesting, although possibly intimidating for those facing the task of teaching reading for the first time. I offer what I am doing with my younger two girls as a kind of "here's what we do at our house" for someone starting out. As you read this please keep in mind that it is only our experience, and your family's situation may be different. It is probably necessary to state here that we are very much a reading household-- Mr. Honey and I are both avid readers, and reading aloud to our kids has been one of our favorite activities ever since our first child was born. So each child received a lot of exposure to print media before beginning formal reading instruction.

Here is what I am doing with Cornflower:

1. The first thing I did (last year) was teach her the primary sounds of all the letters, using a phonics program. If a letter had more than one primary sound, I matter-of-factly mentioned the secondary sound so it wouldn't be so surprising later.

2. This year, we have begun to read through the McGuffey primer. The beginning of each lesson has a list of new words appearing in that lesson. She focuses on each word and I tell her what they are. She applies some of her knowledge of phonics to the words so it makes sense that they sound the way they do (ie., she knows 'h' makes the 'h' sound, so she can tell that 'hat' is going to have the 'h' sound at the beginning of it). If she doesn't clue in herself, I just say the word slowly, giving her the first sound, and if she still doesn't get it, I give her the whole word. She repeats it. After we have gone over the word list, we read the little story-lesson. There is a picture that illustrates each lesson. I help her over any words she is unsure of. I do not encourage guessing, but application of the phonics and sight words she knows already, and I just give her the words she doesn't know, especially the words that include phonemes she is not yet aware of. She has learned the 'th'and 'sh' sounds in this way without me having to go over them in her phonics book. It is more of an intuitive way of learning than having it all spelled out-- words previously internalized help her to reason that since 'the' has that funny 'th' sound, the word spelled t-h-a-t has that funny 'th' sound too.

3. After she is done with the McGuffey lesson, we get out her container of words. This container (I use a plastic lidded tupperware container, divided into three sections) has words from each previous lesson, as well as the names of family members, and other words she has come across in life and enjoyed and wanted written down for use. I write the words with a Sharpie on construction paper and cut them out. (A note about font: I use both the print 'a' and the ball-and-stick 'a' indiscriminantly when writing out her words, because she will have to know how to read that funny print 'a' at some point, so I figure it is easier to add it matter-of-factly at the beginning. Same with the funny print 'g'.) We add her new words to her container and then she decides what sentences she wants to make with her words. We look together for the words that will make up the sentences. She has accumulated so many words now that this week we divided her words into sections of the container: nouns, verbs, and other words. I explained that nouns are people, places and things, and that verbs are actions-- what is done. We left all non-nouns and non-verbs in their own category. I also put periods in when she began to want to make paragraphs instead of just sentences, so she could divide the sentences with proper punctuation, simply explaining that just as we separate sentences with a pause when speaking, we put a period between sentences when writing. When she begins to list things in her sentences, I will add commas as well.

4. She has a phonics book, as I mentioned before. This book is taking us systematically through the phonics of the English language, providing her with clues to decoding new words. The program we use teaches that each letter has a personality and interacts with or relates to the other letters in specific ways. Some would find this program too cute, but it works for us. My almost 12yo and almost 9yo still talk about how "Clever C acts so s-s-silly around a vowel that is a girl." However, I am not married to this program. I alter it to suit us and do not use the spelling and handwriting portion at all. I don't know how far I will take Cornflower through this curriculum-- I plan to stop when she is reading fluently.

5. I read aloud with her sitting next to me or on my lap. Sometimes we buddy read, sometimes I read with my finger under the words, and sometimes I just read while she attempts to track on her own. She will sometimes stop me and point to a word and say it to see if she is right.

It is so exciting to watch kids learn to read. I have been thrilled as each of my children began to enjoy books. Now I will detail what I am doing with my almost 9yodd, Mariel. It consists of spelling, copywork, independent reading and Mom reading aloud as well.

1. Spelling. I give her a list of ten words I have chosen from the McGuffey speller each week. The first week of school I taught her how to look the words up in the dictionary. This provides her with a little interaction with the word, giving a reason to think of the order of the letters, etc. It also helps her verify that her definition of the word is correct. After looking it up, she studies the word until she can see it spelled correctly in her mind with her eyes closed. She then looks away from her spelling list and writes the word, glancing back at the list to see if she is right. If she is right, she is allowed to cross it off and go on to the next letter, which she treats in the same way. At the end of the week I give her a spelling test. Any missed words go on next week's list, as well as any words I notice her misspelling in other places (notes, etc.). It is a well-known rule of our house that if you aren't sure how to spell a word you ought to ask, and if someone asks, they ought to be told unless they are taking a spelling test. In this way we prevent misspelled words from becoming imprinted as possible correct spellings in the brain. This has increased her awareness of words as having separate letters which must be placed in a certain order to be recognized accurately. This is important for Mariel, as she learned to read by sight/whole word and only learned phonics after she was already reading. Phonics just did not click with her the other way.

2. Copywork. I give her a sentence or two to copy and expect it to be written in good penmanship, with proper punctuation and spelling. She chooses the sentence from a jar filled with slips of paper on which are quotes (from literature, the Bible, and poetry) that I have typed up, printed and cut out. She is far enough along in penmanship that I do not have to model good penmanship by writing it out longhand like I do for Cornflower, who is only copying letters at this point. I thought about having Mariel identify parts of speech in her copywork as well, but since she already knows nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs from playing Mad Libs with her older sister, it just doesn't seem necessary for another year.

3. She has a few schoolbooks she reads on her own, and then comes to me to narrate orally. I monitor her comprehension, among other things, through these books. If she is having trouble with comprehension on a book, we read it together for a reading or two and then I give it back to her to see if her comprehension has improved.

4. We are also reading some books she is not yet able to comprehend through silent reading. I read these aloud and then she narrates orally, sometimes drawing a diagram, especially if the book is on science or nature. Each of the kids have their own poet to study each term, and Mariel reads her poet's works out loud to us as well. Occasionally I will read her selection first and then she reads it. If she has trouble with inflection I repeat the line properly and she copies me.

5. Last year she read out loud to me more than she does this year. I think I need to reinstitute this practice, using the McGuffey readers since we have them. I believe this would aid her in comprehension of the more difficult schoolbooks she is reading independently.

6. We have quite a few books at home and she reads a lot for fun. If she didn't do this, I suppose I would insist on thirty minutes of reading each day, sitting with her if she found it tedious, or perhaps switching her book until we found one she enjoyed reading for fun.

That's how we do it at our house. I have only taught my own children to read, and certainly do not have a wide range of experience, but this is what I have found works for us.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Five Things

Javamom posted this meme on her blog. I did indeed learn a few things about her and her family. I have not been full of posts lately, so I decided to participate with her.

5 things in my freezer:

1. Fruit for smoothies

2. Lots. Of. Pollock. (Thanks, Kristie! I managed to get them detached and into meal-sized portions.

3. Triss' laptop battery

4. Plastic blue ice containers for Mr. Honey's lunches

5. Preground Columbian coffee and Bolivian coffee beans

5 things in my closet:

1. Clothes that are organized, yay! (this was a project a couple of weeks ago)

2. Mr. Honey's desk and at-home work area (he cleverly fixed up a desk using a door he got at the home improvement store)

3. My hoopskirt

4. All of our sheets and pillowcases

5. Boxes of pictures dating from1994 to the present (a scrapbooker I'm not)

5 things in my car:

1. a boxed set of cheesy Landoll fairy tale picture books (5yo Cornflower loves these and is very attached to them. She bought them with her own money at a garage sale. I have been wanting to sneak them out for months, but my conscience is holding me back. A little twaddle never hurt anyone.)

2. Bags of stuff I need to take to the resale shop

3. Our American Angels CD

4. A set of tape recordings of sermons we heard at the last church meeting we attended

5. Cornflower's pink straw purse

5 things in my purse:

1. My keys

2. My Dave Ramsey envelope system

3. A coupon for bruschetta

4. A grocery list

5. Three lipsticks, the girls' lipgloss/perfume combination stick and a plethora of writing instruments. No wonder I can't ever find a pencil in our house!

5 things in my wallet:

1. Eleven grocery store reward cards (egads.)

2. Eight library cards to four different libraries

3. Three teacher discount cards (Barnes and Noble, Half-Price Books and an old homeschool co-op id card)

4. An expired membership card to the Heard Museum

5. A current membership card to the Dallas Zoo

Five things on my computer desk:

1. A Happy Anniversary card from my grandparents

2. My pitchpipe

3. a book of stamps (Crops of the Americas)

4. _The Kid Who Named Pluto and the Stories of Other Extraordinary Young People in Science_ by Marc McCutcheon

5. Part One of the Orion's Gate "Pilgrim's Progress" audio CDs

People I tag:

I'll follow my friend's lead on this. Participate if you want to. It was fun and diverted my attention awhile from various serious news topics I was pondering ad infinitum. (Sometimes I just think too much.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

Today we celebrate the man who, with the Lord's help, makes our life of literature, music, art and nature possible~ Mr. Honey.

And we celebrate the ability to work-- the habits slowly ingraining themselves into my children: laundry, dishes, tidying up. Little by little, bit by bit, made easier by a song and a kind word.

We celebrate the work of our parents and grandparents, who sacrificed for us and raised us up to enjoy life and work for others. And the work of our Lord, which is finished and complete, lacking nothing.

A little Labor Day history. I find it interesting to note that the reason Labor Day in the U.S. is not on May 1 (as it is in some other countries) is because President Cleveland, while wanting to honor workers, did not want to strengthen the socialist movement in the United States.

And some Walt Whitman:

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics-- each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam;
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat-- the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench-- the hatter singing as he stands;
The woodcutter's song-- the ploughboy's, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother-- or of the young wife at work-- or of the girl sewing or washing-- each singing what belongs to her and none else;
The day what belongs to the day-- at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths, their strong, melodious songs.

For more of Mr. Whitman, see the Carol of Occupations.

Here at home, Fanfare for the Common Man plays (along with other Copland favorites) and we rejoice in a day spent with Daddy. We are off to eat spareribs with the grandparents and revel in free time, as rain falls on our thirsty land.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises with healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining to cheer it after rain.

Oh, had I wings, I would fly away and be at rest,
And I'd praise God in His bright abode!

In holy contemplation, we sweetly then pursue
The theme of God's salvation, and find it ever new;
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say
E'en let the unknown morrow bring with it what it may.

Oh, had I wings, I would fly away and be at rest,
And I'd praise God in His bright abode!

It can bring with it nothing but He will bear us through
Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe His people too;
Beneath the spreading heaven no creature but is fed;
And He who feeds the ravens will give his children bread.

Oh, had I wings, I would fly away and be at rest,
And I'd praise God in His bright abode!

Tho' vine nor fig tree neither their wonted fruit shall bear,
Though all the field should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there,
Yet God the same abiding, His strength shall tune my voice;
For while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.

Oh, had I wings, I would fly away and be at rest,
And I'd praise God in His bright abode!

--William Cowper, 1731-1800 (1779)

Mary Bennett and Mr. Collins

Triss and I are reading _Pride and Prejudice_ together. We have gotten as far as the ball at Netherfield. I was looking over the ol' blog tonight, when it suddenly occurred to me that sometimes my writing reads as ridiculous as the speeches of Mr. Collins and Mary Bennett. (LOL!) Purely unintentional, I assure you. I will attempt in future to be more natural and less longwinded in my figuring-out-of-things. :o) Yeah, we'll see how that goes.

Ah well, we all have to be something in this life. At least Mr. Collins and Mary Bennett are amusing.