"....Your children shall be like olive plants all around your table." Psalm 128:3

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Banty Strikes Again!

Hi friends,

Some of you may remember my post from a couple of years ago about Banty, our surrogate chicken. 
Banty is our sweet-natured little Bantam hen.

Bantam chickens are known for their setting/hatching capabilities, and she is no exception: she hatched very large 4 turkey eggs for us, and later, hatched some eggs from other chickens. But she never seemed interested in hatching her own eggs.

Well, last summer, she finally did it: she had her very own clutch of eggs to hatch  - 11 of them to be exact. The eggs were so small, not much bigger than a ping-pong ball. We wondered if all the eggs would hatch or only some of them. But given Banty's track record, we were confident that most of the eggs would hatch.

We waited and waited. The children checked on her several times aday to see if any had hatched.
Finally, the big day arrived and we were thrilled to see this when we checked on her that afternoon...
..10 of the eleven eggs had hatched! And they were smallest chicks we had ever seen!
 Banty was so proud of her babies and gathered them under her wings whenever we got too close - she was very protective of them. 

Seeing that reminded me of the Lord Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37 : "...How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."

 When they were old enough, Banty took her chicks out into the yard to teach them how to free range.
See how proudly she is strutting around, showing off her babies?  ;)

They grew fast and are now excellent foragers, eating all types of insects. They especially like grazing in the barn yard. Here they are now, all grown-up and beautiful.
I love the variety of colors.
There are 8 hens and 2 roosters. Notice the two roosters on either side of the flock, standing guard.  ;)

Since these chicks were born in the summer, their egg-laying cycle began in the dead of winter, as in the first of the year. But we collected the eggs, and were thankful for fresh eggs, even though they were so small. Then, a little later, 2 of the hens disappeared. We  looked everywhere, but couldn't find them.

Until Asher discovered this..
"Banty the Second", as the children call her (because she could pass for her mama's twin), is on 12 eggs! She was in the hatch-out coop all the time. We had been looking everywhere but there.

And a few days later, we found this..
another of Banty's offspring (named "Hoodie" because of her rust-colored hood) on 9 eggs! She has made her nest under the lean-to next to the shed...amidst the mowers, bikes, and dirtbikes. And on a nest of gravels!
Hopefully, the nest is lined with some soft grass.
If all - or even most - of these eggs hatch, we will be inundated with Bantam chickens. And what in the world will we do with all those tiny baby chicks in the middle of winter?

Why, bring them inside near the woodstove , of course, where they will be nice and warm.  :)

Stay tuned, friends...I will let you know when the "big day" arrives. 

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Learning By Hand - A Flexi Rack

When life happened and I dropped some things by the wayside concerning the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy,  handicrafts also got put on the back burner. We missed that aspect so much, as it is one of our (many) favorite things about the CM education. 

So along with keeping,  we are getting back into handicrafts as well.

Miss Mason placed much importance on children doing handicrafts. However, her idea of handicrafts might be a bit different than today's idea. Most people think of a craft as  something simple and quick. Not so with Miss Mason: she believed that the end product should be useful and she said that children should not "be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, and the like."

Handicrafts teach life skills, hand-eye coordination, and it also helps the children see the fruit from working on a project over a period of time, and the satisfaction of completing it.

Now, how did Miss Mason believe that handicrafts should be taught?

Well, first of all, she said that we, as parents, should teach the children "slowly and carefully what they are to do."

The children should be expected to give their best effort, and that "Slipshod work should not be allowed."

And the handicrafts should challenge the children, but not be above - or below - their level: "The children's work should be kept well within their compass."

(All quotes taken from Volume 1, pages 315 and 316 of the Charlotte Mason Series.)

Having said all that, I was so excited to find out about the Learning By Hand link-up with Amy Jo, where I am sharing this post. I am looking forward to reading about other families' handicrafts and getting new ideas for ours.  :)

So here is the first handicraft I want to share..I needed a some type of holder for my Flexi Clips, and my dh, being the carpenter/furniture builder that he is, came up with a great idea for a wall-mounted rack.  He asked how long it should be and how many pegs I needed on it. Then he and the children got to work. They measured, sawed, drilled, glued, sanded, stained, and finished. (Sorry I don't have photos or instructions; this project went together quickly and before I realized it, it was finished.)

This is how it turned out..

They installed the pegs at an angle so the Flexis wouldn't slide off.  :)

I absolutely love the rack. It's perfect; there is plenty of room for all my Lilla Rose items - even the hair sticks, which I store on top.  :)

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might...."
~Ecclesiastes 9:10

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

From My Commonplace

 While reading Pilgrim's Progress to Mimi (yr2), I have been jotting down quotes in my commonplace - and many of them at that. 

I "read" the book (if you could call it that) some years ago - silently. To myself. When I could easily scan over the words without really thinking about them. 

 Not so with reading aloud. Reading aloud forces me to slow down and listen every single word. No rushing through it. It also makes for great discussion with Mimi. And even though she is only 7 years old, she has (of her own volition, mind you) started her own commonplace book. Yes, I know that she is a little young for keeping, according to CM standards, but I am encouraged by her willingness to start her own keeping.  So keep she will.  :)

(Since I was doing very little keeping last year until I decided to begin keeping again
I feel as if I "missed" so many things during those readings. So I am planning on re-reading the first part of the book).
There are so many wonderful thoughts in this book; I could easily fill my commonplace to the brim!  :)

Here is what I wrote in my commonplace from last week's reading..

"For to tell you the truth, I love Him, because  I was by Him eased of my burden.."

Which reminds me of Psalm 55:22, "Cast your burden on the Lord,
                                                              And He shall sustain you."

Sharing with Dawn.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Commitment to Keeping

Hi everyone,

In my last post I mentioned how, in our early days of implementing the CM philosophy, we did just about everything we could to completely immerse ourselves in it. And we did.
 Oh, how wonderful and exciting those days were: children eager and willing to learn; a mom who was ecstatic about the living books that her children were devouring.
And, early on, I realized that her principles weren't just for "school"; they were a lifestyle. 

Then, some time later....life happened. In other words, we got busier..and busier, and, well..you know. Things got dropped by the wayside.Life began, once again, to go by at break-neck speed and things got dropped by the wayside. 
 And one of the things that got dropped was the wonderful concept of keeping, or as some call it, having a commonplace book.  I had kept a quote book for years, but over the past couple of years, it had sadly been collecting dust on the top shelf of my baker's rack.

I consider myself the queen of sticky notes, and you would think that jotting things down in a notebook would come easy for me. Not so. I started using the excuse that I didn't have time to jot down what I gleaned from reading. But back up a bit...I didn't take time to read much, either. I decided that reading (other than my morning devotional) could wait til my 5 younger children had grown and flown. *gasp*

But then, December rolled around, and I began reading Brandy's awesome series. (Did I mention that this was an awesome series?) That was all it took to encourage me to get back to notebooking again.  

My dear friend, Silvia, was a big encouragement to me to get back to it, too.

But you can't notebook without reading, right? And I don't have time to read! There are clothes to wash, dishes to do, goats to milk and feed, eggs to gather, and list goes on forever. I don't have time to read!  Wrong. With encouragement from some of the ladies at the AO Forum, I am making time for myself each afternoon, for rest and relaxation which usually translates into reading. And whenever I am reading, I have my commonplace book and a pen close at hand to write down what I want to remember.

I was so excited to get back into keeping, I went out and bought my oldest 3 children commonplace books to keep their quotes in, too. I wanted my excitement to be contagious. And it was! They are following my lead.... although they maybe not quite as eager as I am to write down the things that jump out at them, they are still jotting down quotes here and there during their readings. It's a start, right?  I want keeping to become a habit -  a permanent one. I don't want it dropped for lack of time, or  some other excuse. I want it integrated into our home - into our lives.

Besides our commonplace books, we are also doing more nature journaling and sketching. We don't do the Book of Centuries: we use a century wall chart, which we are getting back to, as well. 

And by the way, keeping is an integral part of the CM philosophy. By the way, Miss Mason encouraged and required it of her students. 

We also started a bird list, documenting all the bird species we see. And when spring arrives, and plants comes back to life,  we will begin a plant list, too.  (Jeanne had an excellent article about keeping bird and plants lists.)

But back to the lovely art of keeping... what is the benefit and value of writing things down, such as quotes?

There is an excellent article here that explains it much better than I could.  
And another here.

Since last month, I have been enjoying writing in my commonplace book. Then Celeste announces a Keeping Company link-up at her blog. The first one is this week.   How wonderful!  :)  Once a month, other moms will visit Celeste and share what they and their children have been doing in their notebooks. I am hoping this will provide some accountability for me and that sharing what we are doing will be an encouragement to other families.

I also plan to share (on this blog) what we are doing in our commonplace books, nature journals, etc.

So join us as we delve back into some of the CM principles that we have, regretfully,  neglected. It's going to be a wonderful journey-again.  :)

"Keep a commonplace book for passages that strike you particularly." 
PNEU Program, 1922

Happy homeschooling!

Sharing this post with Celeste

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sketch Tuesdays

Happy Wednesday, friends.

We began our journey of homeschooling implementing the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education in 2011.

And in those early days, I came across Barbara's site mentioning Sketch Tuesday. Here's how it worked: Barbara would give a sketch prompt for that particular Tuesday, for example: sketch something that begins with the letter B. Ready, set, sketch! Then you could photograph your sketches and send them to her to post on her site.

And in those early days, we participated. Not actually sending in our sketches to be posted on her site, but just sketching at home. My line of thinking was that the sketching would encourage my then-reluctant nature sketchers to take more interest in their Nature journals. It worked. :) 

But as time worn on, and life got busier, it got dropped by the wayside. And last year, especially from May - December,  I was dealing with so much stuff, and doing what I called "treading water". In other words, getting the basics taken care and that's it. No extras at all. None.

In December, I decided that some re-evaluating of our school days was in order. It seemed to me that Sketch Tuesdays weren't the only things that got dropped. I knew that I needed to tweak our schedule, and revive the things I had so enjoyed (and the children enjoyed, too!) when we first began our CM journey. And just to clarify: I am not so foolish as to believe that I can do all that's listed in the AO curriculum;  it is a very rich curriculum to say the least. And at this point in my life, I am learning that doing all of it is simply not possible right now. But I wanted to re-establish some of what gave us so much joy way back when.

So I did what always do when I want to remember something: I made a list. (Sticky notes are my best friend, btw.  lol) 

At the top of my list was Sketch Tuesday. It was definitely something I wanted to bring back.

When I first mentioned it to the children, they said, "We remember that from when we first started the Charlotte Mason method!" And they love it - just like they did in the early days.  :)

(I make up my own prompts, but you can follow Barbara's prompts, if you want to.)

I wanted to share some of Sketch Tuesday fun with you..if any of you would like to join in the fun.  :)

Our first Sketch Tuesday prompt was to sketch an ornament on the Christmas tree.
They sketched glass ornaments and tongue-depressor snowmen.  :)

The 2nd prompt was sketch something in a pharmacy.

They sketched medicine bottles, jewelry, and light sabers. (Why yes, our pharmacy does sell light sabers!  :) )

The third prompt was given yesterday: sketch something that begins with the letter X. I thought I was giving them something challenging to sketch, but they came up with X words immediately and began to sketch.
Ian (on the left) sketched and x-ray machine and a xylophone. Asher (on the right) sketched Xanadu.  

Mimi (on the left) sketched a xylophone. Aaron (on the left) sketched a xylophone and a pirate map with "X marks the spot".  :)

Natty sketched a very colorful xylophone, too.  :)

Happy homeschooling!  :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

And the Winner is.....

Good Monday morning, friends,

Today is the day!
The Flexi winner has been chosen!

I wrote each of the names of the participants on a piece of paper, folded them up, and put them in a hat.

Mimi "stirred up" the names before hubby picked one. :)

He reached in, grabbed one, 

And the winner is (insert drumroll)..

Congratulations, Kelly!
Your Flexi is on its way!

Thanks for participating, everyone, and stay tuned... I will be having another Flexi giveaway in the spring.  :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

One Day at a Time

I found the thoughts expressed in this poem to be appropriate for the beginning of a new year.

One Day at a Time

One day at a time, with its failures and fears,
With its hurts and mistakes, with its weakness and tears,
With its portion of pain and its burden of care;
One day at a time we must meet and must bear.

One day at a time to be patient and strong,
To be calm under trial and sweet under wrong;
Then its toiling shall pass and its sorrow shall cease;
It shall darken and die, and the night shall bring peace.

One day at a time, and the day is His day;
He hath numbered its hours, though they haste or delay.
His grace is sufficient; we walk not alone;
As the day, so the strength that He giveth His own.

~ Annie Johnson Flint

If you have never heard of the amazing faith-filled life of Annie Johnson Flint, please go here.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a link to her other poems.