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.