Monday, December 31, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ten Two Studios Christmas Countdown

For you paper crafters out there Lisa Volrath still has her Christmas Countdown up at her site . But hurry because she'll take it down soon!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Advent was a busy time for me this year. Truly the picture of a world waiting for a Savior! But today I am celebrating the birth of our Savior and I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening

Take caution as with all youtube videos, but this Robert Frost poem read by the author is something wonderful to share with your children. The illustrations are by Susan Jeffers and from this book.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Reason for the Season

I came across this writing by Charlotte Mason in Volume 5 of her series on education that I think helps to put a parents focus in proper perspective for Christmas. It was very convicting for me and I plan to read and reread it during this season.

Actions do not speak louder than words to a young heart; he must feel it in your touch, see it in your eye, hear it in your tones, or you will never convince child or boy that you love him, though you labour day and night for his good and his pleasure. Perhaps this is the special lesson of Christmas-tide for parents. The Son came––for what else we need not inquire now––to reinstate men by compelling them to believe that they––the poorest shrinking and ashamed souls of them––that they live enfolded in infinite personal love, desiring with desire the response of love for love. And who, like the parent, can help forward this "wonderful redemption"? The boy who knows that his father and his mother love him with measureless patience in his faults, and love him out of them, is not slow to perceive, receive, and understand the dealings of the higher Love.
But why should good parents, more than the rest of us, be expected to exhibit so divine a love? Perhaps because they are better than most of us; anyway, that appears to be their vocation. And that it is possible to fulfil even so high a calling we all know, because we know good mothers and good fathers.
"Parents, love your children," is, probably, an unnecessary counsel to any who read this page; at any rate, it is a presuming one. But let me say to reserved, undemonstrative parents who follow the example of righteous Abraham and rule their households,––Rule none the less, but let your children feel and see and be quite sure that you love them.
We do not suggest endearments in public, which the young folk cannot always abide. But, dear mother, take your big schoolgirl in your arms just once in the holidays, and let her have a good talk, all to your two selves; it will be to her like a meal to a hungry man. For the youths and maidens––remember, they would sell their souls for love; they do it too, and that is the reason of many of the ruined lives we sigh over. Who will break down the partition
between supply and demand in many a home where there are hungry hearts on either side of the wall?

Her admonition to parents is well taken. It is not enough to teach our children the facts of Christmas...the birth of a savior, the plan of our God. We must also speak to their hearts. We must SHOW them the love of Christ first hand as we love them despite their failings and let them know we do, just as God does us. I'll be striving for this through "Him that gives me strength" and I hope that you will too.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Jesse Trees to Help Orphans

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune...

I was told by a local friend about a wonderful family who has managed to share their love of Jesse Trees by turning it into a project to help orphans. Here are the words of the Mom who started this project:

I bought my first one [Jesse Tree] about ten years ago when my first son was just a few months old. We have used it every year and it is our family's favorite Christmas tradition by far. We wrap each ornament like a little package and place them under the tree (we also put the number of the day on them so we will know which one to open). Then each day, one of the kids takes turns opening the ornament and reading the devotion.

Two years ago, my oldest two decided they wanted to sponsor children from World Vision. So I asked them what their plans were to pay for the sponsorship of the kids and they both enthusiastically said, "Let's make Jesse Trees to sell!" So that's why we sell these :-) We make 90% of the ornaments during the summer months to have them ready by fall. 100% of our proceeds goes to the kids they sponsor and if we have any proceeds left over, we use it to buy animals, medicine, food, etc. for other families through World Vision. We are also considering adding on Shaohannah's Hope as an additional foundation to sponsor. It is an organization started by Steven Curtis Chapman and helps fund orphans in China. We LOVE doing this!
...We made 50 sets of ornaments to sell this year. We are very close to meeting the kids' requirements for sponsorship right now and I believe we have sold around 35-38 boxes of ornaments. We have two sets that we sell: one set is $35. This set of ornaments comes premade along with a hardbound book for devotions. Our second set is a "kit" with all of the supplies and instructions needed to make 25 ornaments along with the hardbound book. This set sells for $25. We also have 24" trees if people need them. Some people like to buy the tree; others have trees that they will use from home.

If you would like to contact this family to purchase your own Jesse Tree ornaments and help the orphans they have adopted you can do so by emailing

Green Challenge: Stay married

I found this article in the Washington Post fascinating:

Their paper, published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found that if the divorced couples had stayed together in 2005, the United States would have saved 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water in that year alone.
Married households use energy and water more efficiently than divorced ones because they share these resources -- including lighting and heating -- among more people, said Jianguo Liu, one of the paper's co-authors. Moreover, the divorced households they surveyed between 1998 and 2002 used up more space, occupying between 33 and 95 percent more rooms per person than in married households.
"Hopefully this will inform people about the environmental impact of divorce," Liu said in an interview yesterday. "For a long time we've blamed industries for environmental problems. One thing we've ignored is the household."

Staying's very praiseworthy.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Jesse Tree

We have started a new tradition in our house of a Jesse Tree. This is a tool for teaching, remembering and preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Here is an excellent explanation of a Jesse Tree:

What is a Jesse Tree? Basically it's just an evergreen branch or small tree—sometimes even a bare branch. During the season of Advent biblical symbols are gradually added to the tree, symbols that tell the story of God's redemptive plan for the world and reveal the strong ties between the Old and New Testaments.

For our family we use Ann Voskamp's The Glorious Coming which I blogged about last year. This year I have implemented the ornaments provided in the book to make my own ornaments. I decoupaged them onto a wood cut out I had covered with brown paper.

Then we hang them onto some branches I gathered from my yard.

If you think this is something you'd like to start right away and therefore don't have the time to make ornaments, or if you just want a simpler approach, you can just have your children color ornaments and paste them to a picture of a tree.
Here is a link for more information on Jesse Trees. This link includes devotions or you may even want to write your own. But I urge you to take a look and consider doing your own Jesse Tree with your family.
*Here is another idea that I think would make a great Jesse Tree. The ornaments could be stored in the pockets.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Give Thanks

Freedom of Worship, Norman Rockwell

...Thus to set aside in the autumn of each year a day on which to give thanks to Almighty God for the blessings of life is a wise and reverent custom, long cherished by our people. It is fitting that we should again observe this custom.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thanksgiving Day 1934

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving Moving Images

Well, I've decided I'm on a "media" theme here in the Giving Thanks celebration so I might as well finish of the week with some moving images. that I mentioned before also has moving images. As I warned before not all of it is praiseworthy so be forewarned. However this sweet, simple piece is worthwhile. It's called A Day of Thanksgiving. A family in the 50's faces Thanksgiving without a turkey but focuses on the real meaning of Thanksgiving.

William Bradford by Nest Entertainment does a nice job of dramatizing the pilgrim's story.

And of course the perennial holiday favorite A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving! I loved it as a child and I love sharing it with my children. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving Memory
My mother used to tell us that she wished she could plug us into her brain and we could see the memories she saw. Now that I have my children I know just what she means. In my mind I can go back to far away Thanksgivings with people who no longer walk this earth. I can sit in my grandparents kitchen next to the woodstove stuffed full with my Grandmother's dumplings listening to bluegrass with my Grandfather.

I can walk into my Great Aunt Jane and Great Uncle Red's house so hot from it's own woodfire that the people stuffed in it like sardines in a can were in t shirts sweating. It was a tiny four room house with a bathroom. We'd cram in around the table sitting on the sewing machine stool or whatever we could. My Aunt would hover over the table getting this or that while we all told her to sit and eat. Now that I have a family of my own I realize she just wanted to get us all taken care of so she could sit and eat in peace. I can smell the bread just toasted in the oven for the stuffing. My Great Uncle's stuffing spicy with homesgrown red pepper flakes and sage cooked in the turkey that was roasted in the barbeque he built in the back yard. And then there was the blackberry cobbler. Delicious food, simple but prepared with love by their own hands.

My Great Uncle with that year's turkey

Do I remember the table setting...the silverware...the floral arrangements? Not really. I remember the people though. I can see them so clearly in my mind that it hurts when I realize I can't reach out and hug them anymore. It turns out that after all these years what really mattered were those people, the time we spent together, the laughter and the love. Because those people always loved me. They poured it over me generously without my even asking. I was born into their love and don't remember a moment without it.

I hope one day I'll sit around a table with them again. I hope that when I go to be with Jesus that they'll all be there too, at that great feast. But until then I'll thank God on this Thanksgiving Day for the people he blessed me with.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thanksgiving Audio
Oh boy, another one of my favorite fun things! Listening to audiobooks. There are some really great free audios for kids to listen to out there. My favorite thing to do is burn them onto a cd and play them in the car. Not only do they learn something but it really keeps down the bickering! So here are a few for you to share with your children.

First some Librivox selections:
The New-England Boy’s Song About Thanksgiving Day
by Lydia Maria Child

And for information about colony life:
Richard of Jamestown: A Story of the Virginia Colony
by James Otis is a fascinating site that has links to many forms of media. I unfortunately can't say that it is all praiseworthy. Much of it is decidedly not. If you do visit do so carefully. Going straight to the Old Time Radio area here will be pretty safe. Here are a listing of some of the shows that feature Thanksgiving themes:

Cavalcade of America episode 1 No Turning Back. But there are many other great stories for studying American History in this series.

You Are There is another fantastic program for teaching kids history. A news reporter reporting events of history as they happen. Try the episode The Sailing of the Mayflower. You will have to download all the episodes, but believe me after you try one you'll want to use the rest to supplement your history studies.

Those are really just a few but they will get you started. Spend some time with a cup of tea browsing through the's old time radio page and you'll find others. Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thanksgiving Paperdolls

I love paper dolls as many of you know. So it's only natural that when I decided to post on Thanksgiving related topics this week as a part of the "Giving Thanks" celebration I knew I would do one on Thanksgiving Paper Dolls. So without further adieu, here are some links to the dolls. Have fun!

A family and Maid at thanksgiving dinner circa mid 1800's

You can find a lot of Betsy McCall paperdolls here, but for specifically Thanksgiving related Betsy McCall check here and here

And while these dolls aren't specifically Thanksgiving related, they are historically close (1704) in style to the Pilgrim's. And some of them are boys which are hard to find.

Paperdolls are a fun activity for busy hands during story readings or while your busy preparing that Thanksgiving feast!
In the next week I'm going to be taking part in the "Giving Thanks" celebration over at Kelli's blog There Is No Place Like Home. Kelli also produces the wonderful Seasonal Delights zine that I have blogged about recently. It's a wonderful publication full of goodies and when you subscribe you get even MORE goodies through subscriber only information on the blog. But, I digress....

I decided to take part in this celebration because I, like Kelli, lament the passing of the importance of Thanksgiving as a celebration. I love Thanksgiving for many reasons. Great food and no presents are just two of my reasons. But I also love taking aside a day once a year to thank God for his blessings and providence just as the pilgrims did after their first year in this new land. One of the biggest blessings that they had sought and received in the new land was freedom to worship as they choose. Something we can still thank God is available to us in this country today.

So, as part of my participation I will be sharing materials with you that I use to teach my children about this important holiday and maybe a few other things along the way. I'll TRY to do this daily this week.

First let's talk about books. For almost every holiday at my house I set out a stack of books pertaining to that holiday for my children (and me) to read. Depending on the holiday I'll set out these books either a few days or up to a month ahead of time. For Thanksgiving I set out the books the first of November. Here are a few of my favorite books for this season:

My mother read me this book when I was a child and together we made the recipe for "Grandmother's Cranberry Bread" That appears in the back of the book. I continue this tradition with my own children. This is a sweet simple story of a young girl, her grandmother and her delightful friend Mr. Whiskers and an adventure they have one Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin

The Plymouth Thanksgiving written and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard is one of my most favorite Thanksgiving books. The text is based on information from William Bradford's diary. The illustrations are unique and beautiful. Passenger lists and a cut away picture of the Mayflower are included. If I only read one book at Thanksgiving to my children this would be it.

Things to Make and Do For Thanksgiving by Lorinda Bryan Cauley is a sweet book I picked up at a library book sale. You can buy it on ebay for .71 right now! Yes, 71 CENTS. And worth every penny I might add. There is some text about Thanksgiving and several projects such as how to grow corn, leaf rubbings, a recipe for Pilgrim Pudding, recipes and more. The illustrations are sweet and my children love them.

Kate Waters has written a series of books that are contemporary reenactments of the lives of the Pilgrims, specifically Pilgrim and Native American children. Those are Samuel Eaton's Day, Tapenum's Day, Sarah Morton's Day, and On The Mayflower. The children in the pictures are often real life reenactors who portray these characters (or did). The information is wonderful and it's nice to see real pictures of children doing the activities that children of this time period would have done.

Those these are just a few of the books we enjoy. I've picked up most of mine at library book sales. I encourage you to check them out from your library and if you like them consider purchasing them to add to your preparation to celebrate Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Praiseworthy Book: Homeschooling With A Meek and Quiet Spirit

One of the things most homeschooling mothers hear over and over is "I don't know how you do it. I could never do that." Well, the truth is most of you could do it just as well, if not better than I can! Homeschooling is a big commitment and it's not easy but probably not in the way those who don't homeschool think. I love looking at curriculum. I find it very good brain food to think and ponder what to teach my children and how. To read and talk to others about how and why. I love to buy the books. What is hard is dealing with the day to day commitment of the routine of homeschooling. I used to be a teacher in a public school and it was no different there. Teachers don't always feel like teaching. Just like anyone who goes to a job. You have your good days and your bad days and sometimes you just get through it one step at a time. The difference with homeschooling, as much as I hate to admit it, is these are YOUR children! The little stinkers can push your buttons like no one else can!!!! Well, I have found the perfect antidote for those days when you feel overwhelmed and angry. It's Terri Maxwell's book, "Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit."

This is a book that should be read over and over again in an endless loop. It is very short really and doesn't take long to read. It manages to be both inspiring as well as practical. And Terri knows whereof she speaks. She is the homeschooling mother of eight children and has homeschooled since 1985. She shares openly and transparently about her failures as well as her successes. Terri is known by many as the author of the very popular book Managers of Their Homes but this is no Martha Stewart, perfect with all the answers. This is a woman like you and me who struggles to do the best job she can. Terri shares about the path God lead her on as He taught her how to be a homeschooling mother. The lessons she learned from Him are invaluable. There is also a study guide for groups who wish to study this group together. You can see both at the Maxwell Family's website

Teaching Loyalty

The Fighting Gillises - Norman Rockwell

I have been influenced in my educational philosophy by Charlotte Mason an educator who lived in England and died in 1923. Miss Mason wrote that children are persons with the ability to chose between good and evil and part of the goal of their education is moral teaching. Loyalty is one of the virtues held in esteem by Miss Mason and patriotism is a way of teaching loyalty.

On our trip to the grocery this week there was an older gentleman from the V.F.W. selling poppies as often happens around Veteran's Day. He was a sweet gentle soul and for the change I put in his collection jar he made sure that both my children had poppies (more on the poppies here) and then tried to give me one too. It struck me later that this sweet older gentleman was likely in some pretty scary places as a young man. He may have seen some horrific things during his service to our country. That's why it's called SERVICE. He put aside his own wants and needs to SERVE our country. He was obedient to the call for help. That obedience comes through loyalty.

Thinking on loyalty brought to mind another older gentleman I'm acquainted with. This gentleman is a door greeter at my church. He loves children and when we come through the door he always pretends there is a baby bird in his pocket and pulls it out to show my children. He makes little soft chirping sounds and bends down to show them. As they peer closer and closer he puts the "bird" back in his pocket to keep it safe. It never fails to delight.
In his youth this young man parachuted into Europe over enemy territory during World War II. He got stuck in a tree and considered himself fortunate since another friend who parachuted in with him was shot on the way down. He was captured and put in a prison camp. I've heard him testify that his faith in God was all that got him through those long months. After all these years he still tells the story with a catch in his throat. Yet despite his suffering he loves this country and still dons his cap and salutes the flag on patriotic holidays. That is loyalty.

A wonderful book to help you teach your children about loyalty, obedience and sacrifice is In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae. The illustrations are beautiful and with the text of the poem manage to communicate feelings that are difficult to put into words. The poem was written after a friend of McCrae's was killed in World War I and it urges the reader to remember the sacrifice made by the soldiers. In between the pages of the poem are pages devoted to historical information about John McCrae and World War I.

Take this Veteran's day to tell your children about the soldiers and their families who acted out of obedience to this country by serving in our military. Introduce them to someone you know who served our country. Let them see you thank the Veterans you see for their service. For their loyalty.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reformation Day

Today is the anniversary of Martin Luther's nailing the 95 Theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany in 1517. This bold move started a global tidal wave that would become the Reformation.

To share this information with your children I recommend a book by Paul Maier titled Martin Luther. I really like Paul Maier's books. They explain history and concepts well to older elementary children and the illustrations of this book are beautiful and captivating. You and your child will understand Luther better after reading this book.

Here is some more information about Luther:

"In his preaching and writing, Luther began to emphasize two main points:
justification by faith and the priesthood of all believers.

Justification by faith means that Christians can never earn God's love or forgiveness. All that Christians must do is to accept [have faith in] God ...

The priesthood of all believers means that every Christian has his or her own personal relationship with God, reading the Bible and worshiping in his or her own language, and praying directly to God without anyone's going in between.

So Protestant Christians give thanks to God on this day for the
opportunity to lead lives of faith, instead of lives of fear."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Praiseworthy Book Review: Halloween Is It For Real?

There is quite a debate in some Christian circles about Halloween. I don't want to throw my hat in the ring for that, but I do want to share a fantastic book written from a Christian perspective about Halloween. It's called "Halloween Is It For Real?" It's written by Harold Myra, Chairman and CEO of Christianity Today International in addition to being an author.

Myra started writing a series of books for children based on the "...Are You For Real?" theme back in the seventies. I own several of them and my family really enjoys them. They give children the straight scoop on many "myths" of the holidays we celebrate and talks about how Christians should respond to these holidays.

In "Halloween Are You For Real?" a family talks about the holiday and the parents explain the early pagan origins of Halloween. It goes on to explain how the Church responded to this holiday by creating All Hallows Eve as a way for people to remember their family members and other Christians who have died in a godly way. The book suggests that Halloween can be spent celebrating the hope that those people had in Jesus Christ for their salvation from their sin. There is a discussion about fear and how as Christians we don't need to be afraid because of that relationship.

I highly recommend this book as a tool to teach your children about Halloween and how to see it in a godly light, not participating in evil practices but celebrating our faith. I think this book would be a good starting place for a discussion of salvation and also helpful for children who are scared of the dark. I found it very praiseworthy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Learn Out Loud

I love audio books. We read a lot of books and I can't possibly do all the reading to my children. So I use audio books to give us some variety and me a rest. I have been a long time fan of Librivox but now I'm found something new, Learn Out Loud.

Learn Out Loud provides a list of classic downloadable audiobooks for sale, but they also have several free downloadable audiobooks. The have a wonderful collection of children's audio listed by age. I recently received an email from them with this information on those audio collections:

By far one of the largest collections of free literature to be released for free on MP3 download is the University of South Florida's Lit2Go collection, now available through iTunes U. This treasure trove of free downloadable audio books, poetry, and short stories is aimed at K-12 educators, but most of its resources can be enjoyed by literature listeners of all ages. We've compiled a comprehensive list of what they have to offer for each grade level:
Lit2Go: Audio Files for Kindergarteners:Features Robert Louis Stevenson poems for children, as well as classic nursery rhymes like "Jack and Jill", "Little Bo-Peep", "Hickory Dickory Dock", and "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep".
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 1st Graders:Features more classic poems and fairy tales including Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky", "Fire! Fire! Burn Stick!" from Aesop's Fables, "Humpty Dumpty", "Peter Piper", and "The Twelve Days of Christmas".
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 2nd Graders:Features "The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter, "The Hare and the Hedgehog" by The Brothers Grimm, more Robert Louis Stevenson poems, and an unabridged audio book called The Outdoor Girls in Florida by Laura Lee Hope.
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 3rd Graders:Features a number of Aesop's Fables, "The Ugly Duckling" & "The Emperor's New Clothes" by Hans Christian Anderson, "How the Alphabet Was Made" by Rudyard Kipling, and the audio books Squinty, the Comical Pig by Richard Barnum, The Outdoor Chums on the Gulf; or, Rescuing the Lost Balloonists by Captain Quincy Allen, and Jack Tier, or the Florida Reef by James Fenimore Cooper.
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 4th Graders:Features many more of Aesop's Fables, tales by Beatrix Potter, and the unabridged audio books The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Seven O'Clock Stories by Robert Gordon Anderson, The Tale of Tommy Fox by Arthur Scott Bailey, Whitefoot the Woodmouse by Thornton W. Burgess, and many of Andrew Lang's Fairy Books.
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 5th Graders:Features "Sleeping Beauty" by The Brothers Grimm, even more of Aesop's Fables, tales by Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Brownie Beaver by Arthur Scott Bailey, The Go Ahead Boys and the Racing Motor-Boat by Ross Kay, Curly and Floppy Twistytail the Funny Piggie Boys by Howard R. Garis, The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat by Thornton W. Burgess, Half-Past Seven Stories by Robert Gordon Anderson, Beyond the City by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 6th Graders:Features dozens of short stories including many by Virginia Woolf and Rudyard Kipling. Also features the audio books The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, & The Emerald City of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Famous Stories Every Child Should Know, The Story of Siegfried by James Baldwin, The Light Princess by George MacDonald, The Open Boat by Stephen Crane, A Florida Sketch-Book by Bradford Torrey, Sylvie and Bruno & Sylvie and Bruno Concluded by Lewis Carroll, Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Philosophy and Fun of Algebra by Mary Everest Boole, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Flappers and Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 7th Graders:Features Edgar Allan Poe's most famous short stories, as well as the audio books The Tin Woodman of Oz & Tik-Tok of Oz by L. Frank Baum, The Little Lame Prince by Maria Dinah Mulock Craik, The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 8th Graders:Features poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, short stories by Emily Bronte, more of Edgar Allan Poe's most famous short stories, and the audio books In the Wilds of Florida by W. H. G. Kingston, Logic: Deductive and Inductive by Carveth Read, M.A., The Number Concept: Its Origin and Development by Levi Leonard Conant, Ph. D., The Mystery of Edwin Drood & Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 9th Graders:Features "History" essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, more poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and the audio books Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Wakulla, A Story of Adventure in Florida & Canoemates: A Story of the Florida Reef and Everglades by Kirk Munroe, Florida Trails by Winthrop Packard, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson, A Victorious Union by Oliver Optic, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain, Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Mystery of Cloomber by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 10th Graders:Features the audio books St. Augustine Under Three Flags: Tourist Guide and History, Symbolic Logic by Lewis Carroll, The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, The Professor by Charlotte Bronte, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 11th Graders:Features the audio books The Game of Logic by Lewis Carroll, The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Romance & The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Deductive Logic by George William Joseph Stock, M.A., Lettres Philosophiques by Francois-Marie Arouet, and Beowulf translated by Frances B. Grummere.
Lit2Go: Audio Files for 12th Graders:Features the audio books Physics by Aristotle, Lectures on Ten British Mathematicians of the Nineteenth Century by Alexander MacFarlane, A Short Account of the History of Mathematics by W. W. Rouse Ball, History of Modern Mathematics by David Eugene Smith, Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott, The Flamingo Feather by Kirk Munroe, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, and Spherical Trigonometry by Isaac Todhunter.

I urge you to check out these files today. Listen to them from your computer or copy them onto cd's to listen to in your car or child's room. Very Praiseworthy!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Free Online Magazine

I was recently surfing the Peakmore Academy blog and found a link to Seasonal Delights, a wonderful blog that is offering a free magazine through September 2007. If you've been reading my blog for awhile you know that I love celebrations and heralding the seasons. This blog does just that. And now they have a new magazine called Seasonal Delights that promises to be very, very praiseworthy. The magazine is designed for "young ladies and their mothers." Articles will include letter writing, tea time, recipes, poetry, puzzles, crafts, sewing, nature study and more. I urge you to check it out QUICKLY in order to get your free subscription!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Make it Yourself

I have said here before that I like to make my food from scratch as much as possible. Last night I was able to finally find a way to make a convenience food from scratch that my family likes. In fact they like it better! Taco seasoning. That's right. We eat tacos several times a month and I always have relied on a packet of Taco seasoning. Well, last night I find a recipe on line and altered it for my family and I decided to post it here for those of you who might be looking for something similar.

Taco Seasoning
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1. To prepare the mix: in a jar, combine the chili powder, flour, cumin, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt; screw on lid and shake until completely mixed.
2. To prepare taco meat from the mix: Brown 1 pound of lean ground beef and drain off excess fat (reserving some drippings if desired). Mix with 1 finely chopped onion, 2 tablespoons garlic, a scant 1/4 cup of the seasoning mix and ½ cup water or pan drippings. Cook until the onion is translucent about 10 minutes.

That’s all there is too it. Make a double batch and freeze some for those nights you are in a hurry. I also use this meat as a filling for beef enchiladas.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Meant To Do My Work Today

My friend Terri of Home At Last Farm posted this poem on the Motherculture yahoo group that she and I both belong to. I thought it so aptly described what I fight almost daily! So I would like to post it here for you.

I Meant to Do My Work Today

I meant to do my work today -
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree.
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land
Tossing the grasses to and fro.
And a rainbow held out its shining hand -
So what else could I do but laugh and go?

Richard Le Gallienne (1866-1947)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Free Gifts from The Old Schoolhouse

You know, one of my pet peeves is when someone says you get something free but you have to buy something to get it. That doesn't seem free to me! And I just realized I'm about to do the same thing to you. Okay, you have to purchase a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse magazine to get their free gifts promotion. But this promotion is 25 free gifts with any new 1 year TOS subscription for just $25.00. In the past you have had to purchase a two year subscription but this time it's $25.00 for 4 informative issues of TOS and 25 free gifts valued at almost $400. It's their biggest gift package ever!

If you haven't received TOS before it's full of really great content written by homeschoolers for homeschoolers. There are many practical how to articles along with great inspiration and encouragement. And reviews, and giveaways...I could go on and on!

There is a special limited time offer for renewals to be able to get the same offer. Until Oct. 1, 2007, they are allowing subscribers to renew their subscription for $19.95 and they get the 25 free gifts. This is a huge savings plus the bonus gifts valued at almost $400.

I have a personal reason for sharing the good news about this offer. You see, a few years ago in our first year of homeschooling my husband was laid off. I borrowed most of my curriculum or checked things out of the library. I was given a copy of The Old Schoolhouse and read inside that they provided subscriptions to people in financial need. I emailed them and explained our situation and asked if they could provide a subscription. This was the first year that they did free gifts with two year subscriptions. They wrote me a kind letter back that said not only would they provide me with a subscription, but they had decided to send me the two year subscription with the special gifts as well. It was such a blessing to me at that time. So I recommend this magazine to you whole heartedly with no reservations. It's very praiseworthy!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Good Stewardship

Like many of you, I am concerned with being a good steward of the precious resources God has given us. Because of that I often look for ways to reduce my consumption of consumer goods and resuse things that might normally be waste. Well, I saw this idea on one of my favorite blogs Apartment Therapy: Green. I don't agree with everything they have to say, but I thought this was a fantastic idea. A fence from yard debris. Very praiseworthy indeed.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Something Fun: States Visited

I've just returned from a trip to another state for my brother's wedding. On coming home I saw this fun tool on Visited States. This would be fun to do with your kids and a nice lesson on geography as well. Here is a picture of the traveling in my lifetime:

create your own visited states map

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Free Laminating for Educators!

Laminating is a wonderful thing turning an ephemeral object into something more permanent. My current project is making a paper slip wall timeline for our school. So I was thrilled to learn that Office Max will be offering free laminating for teachers (that includes home educators) now through September 3rd. You can sign up for their Max Perks for Teachers program here but check your store for any proof requirements they may have. So gather your flashcards, charts, or what have you and head to Office Max on Thursdays. For locations check here.

For other information about educator discounts and rewards programs check this page.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Historic Paper Dolls!

I love paper dolls and so does my daughter so you can imagine how excited I got over these Swedish paper dolls. There are dolls from many different periods of history. Something fun to do while we are listening to our Story of the World CD's. I thought some of you might love them too. Check them out along with many other pages of dolls at Kattis Dolls!

We All Scream For Ice Cream!

My father gave me a wonderful birthday present this year. This ice cream maker. I happen to love ice cream and it's been really fun finding recipes and coming up with ideas. And of course my kids (and yes I'm including my husband in that) love it too. We have made ice cream sandwiches, mocha sorbet, and lemon sherbet to name a few. Tonight I made up a recipe which I thought I'd share with you. I was inspired by my husband's favorite ice cream, Ben and Jerry's Funky Munky. Banana Walnut Ice Cream with hot fudge sauce. YUM!

Jill’s Banana Walnut Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
2 cups cream
4 bananas
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
Put 2 cups milk in blender with bananas and sugar and puree. Add cream to mixture then place in ice cream maker and follow maker’s directions. During last five minutes add walnuts.

Makes 2 quarts
You might notice that this recipe is for 2 quarts but my ice cream maker is only 1.5 quart. Yeah, I gave the mixture that wouldn't fit to the kids as milkshakes. They didn't complain. So check the size of your maker and halve the recipe if needed.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Vacation at Home!

This year our family vacation was spent at home. It may sound boring but if your used to a busy life with year round schooling, running kids to lessons and meetings it can be so relaxing to wake up at your leisure in your own bed doing what you like all day. I still cooked and did minimal cleanup but the meals were easy meals and my kids like to cook so we baked too which we don't normally have time to do. My husband and I decided not to tackle any big projects although we did clean out his office in the basement...but that was our choice, not something we had to do. That kind of mindset is very mentally relaxing too. So, if you aren't rich enough to afford the price of gas or plane tickets and hotel rooms I definitely encourage you to consider a vacation at home this year!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Peace Which Passes All Understanding

One of my favorite bloggers and writers is Ann Voskamp. I reviewed her curriculum The Glorious Appearing in December last year. Her blog is like an oasis. Peaceful music plays and the posts are worshipful, insightful and practical.

Today I would like to highlight a particular post on anger management. The posts is for helping children manage their anger, but I believe the information can help anyone. I urge you to check out this post and then look around her blog for others. I'm sure you will want to anyway. It's very praiseworthy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Praiseworthy Recipe: Refrigerator Pickles

A friend was asking what to do with the pickle surplus from her garden. I thought that perhaps others were having the same problem at this time. So I offer a recipe from my childhood. My Great Uncle Red's Refrigerator Pickles. My mother usually had a large gallon jar of these in the refrigerator in the summer and they were so good.

But first, some information on my Great Uncle Red. Red grew up in a pretty dysfunctional family for the time. He grew up without a father and with a preoccupied mother. As I understand it he and his siblings basically cared for themselves. The silver lining to this thundercloud is that Red was a superb cook. His turkey and dressing is legendary in my family. My own personal favorite of his was Blackberry Cobbler. Well, my Great Aunt Jane always made it but it was under his close personal supervision! She always said that she couldn't cook at all when they married and he taught her everything she knew.

There is so much I more I could say about Red. I was fortunate to know him into my adulthood. He is from a generation of men that I'm not sure are even around anymore. He wasn't exactly "warm" but he showed us he loved us by his actions. He made sure all in his family were cared for and provided for.

Well, back to the pickles. Store bought pickles just cannot compare to homemade. And there is nothing like plucking a vegetable from your own garden and eating it. So, if you are like my friend I urge you to use up some of those pickles with this recipe.

Refrigerator Pickles
makes 1 gallon

7 or 8 large cucumbers
6 onions

Slice and layer alternately in a gallon glass jar.

4 cups vinegar
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp turmeric

Mix until dissolved and pour over contents of jar. Let sit for three days in refrigerator before eating.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Paper Crafts at Flickr Monkey!

Flickr Bird
Flickr Bird,
originally uploaded by flickr monkey.
Many of you are trying to find summer activities for children that will keep them occupied and maybe...just maybe even quiet! My children love making paper models. Making models is good for brains and after building several models my daughter started creating her own. There are some good beginner models over at Flickr Monkey. These can be downloaded and printed on regular paper or card stock. You can create mobiles or just playmates. Either way this activity is most praiseworthy!

Praiseworthy Review: Honest Pretzels

My children both love to cook as I do. They started learning early, pulling stools up next to me while I cooked from the time they were toddlers. So I'm always interested in resources that teach them more about cooking. Honest Pretzels is one of three cookbooks written by one of my favorite authors Mollie Katzen. These cookbooks are Pretend Soup (for preschoolers), Salad People (for children 8 and up) and the aforementioned Honest Pretzels (also for 8 and up).

The recipes in this book are in a sort of "story board" fashion. You can see an example of a recipe from Pretend Soup here. The cookbooks are referred to as vegetarian but are not vegan although there are many vegan recipes.

Both my children (9 and 6) love the cookbooks and we all enjoy what has been made from them. My daughter most recently made Button Cupcakes from Honest Pretzels which is a simple vanilla cupcake with a chocolate kiss pushed into the center before baking. Her 6 year old brother helped her with that last part. And they were delicious. As was the Mix in the Pan Chocolate cake she made last week from the same cookbook. So give these books a try. I think you and your children will love them.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
From The Declaration of Independence

To read or hear more check out NPR's page here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Praiseworthy Decor: Chalkboards

I have a large whiteboard in my kitchen. That is the confession of a homeschooler! It's great to hop up and demonstrate a math problem, spell a word out, write a verse to memorize or entertain children. I got my whiteboard through a kind fellow homeschooler on Freecycle. Then I bought a pack of assorted colors of whiteboard markers and we were set!

But, I'll admit I did want a chalkboard. I love the look of a chalkboard and I investigated all kinds of ways to make one. But today I saw what I think is one of the best options. WALLIES® Peel & Stick Chalkboard Removable and repositionable vinyl chalkboard panels. You can get a package of four 9" x 12" panels and chalk included for only 16.99. That's quite a deal! They also come in a variety of colors. If I had one I'd get schoolhouse green. So fun.

Whether you homeschool or not I urge you to consider a whiteboard or chalkboard for your children. Definitely praiseworthy.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

I hope everyone is spending today honoring their Father. We should really do this everyday, but you may have noticed that I enjoy a holiday. There's nothing wrong with a good excuse to celebrate something, and today it's fathers. I didn't realize how important fathers were until I had my first child. I'm so thankful that God has given our family this husband and father.
If you like to scrapbook then you might enjoy checking out Ten Two Studios latest Father's Day countdown. Now go spend some time with Dad!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Image: Salute the Flag by Norman Rockwell

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

She's A Grand Old Flag!

Happy Flag Day everyone! Here's a little about Flag Day from Wikipedia:

In the United States, Flag Day (more formally, National Flag Day), is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened that day by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777.
1916, Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.
Flag Day is not an official
federal holiday, though on June 14, 1937, Pennsylvania became the first (and only) U.S. state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday.

Here are a couple of books in my collection that we will be reading to celebrate this holiday:

The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner - Natalie Miller

This is a Cornerstone of Freedom book. These books are excellent for teaching history to elementary aged children.

The Pledge of Allegiance - Scholastic

This is an excellent book with the correct words to the Pledge (ahem) and lots of facts about the American flag.

You can find more ideas for books and activities for Flag Day here.