Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A little belated...

But full of love for her none-the-less! My baby turned five on October 29th. Life is going too fast.

Isn't she a a bug of cuteness? We think so. :+)


Friday, October 26, 2007

Christmas Finds

Well, it has been a few days since posting and that would be because we have had a wild week of sickness. Ick City! I *think* we are coming out of it. I sincerely hope so! God was gracious to us in that we did not have a terrible time of it, but there was a barking cough scare this AM that turned out to be croup. Who knew a seven year-old could get croup? Always something new to learn! :+) Praise God for health!

The rest of this entry cannot be read by anyone with my last name. :+)

That means you, Hannah and Abigail! :+)

Read no further or be sad sad sad come Christmas morning. :+)

Our family has for years made books a big part of our Christmas. Each child usually gets a stack of books as their own along with another gift for fun and a full stocking. I loved stockings as a child so this is something I do because I just love it.

It has gotten harder and harder to find books that are both interesting to the children, well written, and of solid moral fiber. I know that not all the books we read will have a Christian theme, and that is fine. There are so many more books without a Christian theme available than there are *with* them that I wanted to focus as much on that as I could this year. I think (at least I hope anyway) that I have succeeded. The books below are in no particular child order - they were just the ones lucky enough to be purchased--and now stashed away for Christmas morning. Feel free to share your thoughts!

52162: Adara Adara
By Beatrice Gormley

Adara has always longed to do the things that well-brought-up girls of her time are not supposed to do. She wants to learn to read and write--like men. And she wants the freedom to travel--like men--outside the boundaries of her sheltered life. One day she awakens to a blast of trumpets as the Israelites and Arameans battle just outside the safety of her village walls. Curious, Adara sneaks out to see the battle. Little does she know that this will be her last day of freedom for a very long time. Sold into slavery, Adara becomes a servant to General Namaan and his family and begins a remarkable journey of self-discovery, healing, and redemption--a journey that, in the end, faces her with the hardest decision of her life. For ages 9 and up.

4464X: The Treasure of Pelican Cove The Treasure of Pelican Cove
By Milly Howard

Besides Granny and Hiram, a small dog named Blackie is the best friend Jimmy has at Land's End. Hiram tells a fascinating story about a pirate called Pegleg, and before long everyone is scrambling for hidden treasure. But then there's trouble. Blackie mysteriously disappears and Jimmy is determined to find him. He discovers that Blackie's trail crosses another treasure hunter's trail. What does the man want with Blackie? Will the trail lead to treasure or danger? Ages 7-9

208116: Regina Silsby's Secret War Regina Silsby's Secret War
By Thomas J. Brodeur

Not until she reached the back gate of her father's garden did she slow her pace. Through the shrubbery she bustled and climbed the woodpile to her window. Thrusting up the sash, she tumbled through the opening, gathered up her bed sheet ladder, and banged down the pane once more. After arranging the curtains she tugged off her wig and mask. "Well, that's that," she said with a smile. "indeed?" came a voice from behind her.

Pre-Revolution Boston walks a tightrope. Will the townsfolk continue to appease the king of England, or preserve the freedoms he is bringing more and more under siege? Regina Silsby seems to have taken up arms in defense of freedom. But how can that be? She has been dead for thirty years. 248 pages, paperback. From Journey Forth.

227454: Regina Silsby's Phantom Militia Regina Silsby's Phantom Militia
By Thomas J. Brodeur

The British army's worst nightmare becomes a reality when rumors spread that the legendary ghost Regina Silsby has return to defend pre-Revolution Boston. And the situation grows even more grim for the redcoats when they begin to believe that she is not alone this time. Even the brash Major Cauldon gets nervous as he sees his ranks thinning under this well-coordinated, and apparently well-connected menace. Young adult readers will thrill at the daring feats and foibles in this magnificent sequel to Regina Silsby's Secret War. Softcover, 280 pages.

421438: Martyr of the Catacombs: A Tale of Ancient Rome Martyr of the Catacombs: A Tale of Ancient Rome
By Anonymous

This classic work describes the factual persecution that early Christians experienced as they lived out their lives in the catacombs beneath Rome. While the characters depicted are fictional, the work follows the historical sequence of Roman persecutions and accurately portrays the brutality and cruelty that early believers suffered.

0848343: The Lost Prince The Lost Prince
By Peggy Downing

Segra longs to find her parents, who have been missing since Exitorn's revolution against Emperor Immane. Brill has promised to help her, but he also wants to search for the lost prince of Exitorn. As they journey across Exitorn and beyond its borders, they encounter robbers, shipwreck, and a greedy king. But, thanks to Segra, a beautiful meladora bird named Stargull comes to their aid. This sequel to Brill of Exitorn is recommended for ages 7 to 9.

0847363: Brill of Exitorn Brill of Exitorn
By Peggy Downing

Brill's adventure in the palace of Exitorn begins when he's chosen for a high position in the governmet. Forced to leave his mother and their little farm in Grebing, Brill journeys to Palatial Island where he will serve the royal family as a companion to selfish Emprince Grossder. Brill discovers that he must keep the Emprince entertained at all times or risk being thrown to the dinogaters. This prequel to The Lost Prince is recommended for ages 7 to 9.

5765: The Tanglewoods' Secret The Tanglewoods' Secret
By Patricia St. John

In a struggle to learn to overcome her fiery temper and selfish spirit, Ruth is led to the discovery of a very important Shepherd who can and does teach her how to be good. The story contains beautiful and uplifting examples of what can happen when we let ourselves be found by Him.

628686: The Princess and the Kiss The Princess and the Kiss
By Jennie Bishop

A loving king and queen present their daughter with a gift from God--her first kiss--to keep or to give away. The wise girl waits for the man who is worthy of her precious gift. Where is he and how will she ever find him? The surprising answer in this marvelous parable will touch the heart of parent and child alike.

The Princess and the Kiss beautifully portrays the ageless message that "love ... comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Timothy 1:5 NIV). Recommended for all ages, especially ages 6 and up.

170793: The Squire and the Scroll: A Tale of the Rewards of a Pure Heart The Squire and the Scroll: A Tale of the Rewards of a Pure Heart
By Jennie Bishop

Little girls worldwide have embraced Jennie Bishop's best-selling morality tale The Princess and the Kiss--and ever since its publication, parents have been clamoring for a companion book for boys. Here's the answer! This captivating adventure follows a young squire who travels a long, dangerous road beside his brave knight on a quest for their king. The action builds until the final face-off with the monstrous, evil dragon. Only then does the Squire learn of the secret beyond the cave that ends in a joyous celebration for the entire kingdom.

Children will gain valuable insight as they learn, along with the young squire, what it means to face the dangers of temptation, and what it takes to guard one's heart from all that is impure. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

690781: The Lightlings The Lightlings
By R.C. Sproul, illustrated by Justin Gerard

In The Lightlings, Dr. R.C. Sproul weaves an allegorical tale that captures the essence of the biblical story of redemption in a manner that will fascinate and delight children. A race of tiny beings known as lightlings represent humanity as they pass through all the stages of the biblical drama--creation, fall, and redemption. In the end, children will understand why some people fear light more than darkness, but why they need never fear darkness again. With richly detailed illustrations by Justin Gerard, this picture book also has discussion questions and Scripture references that will help parents guide children into the deeper meaning of the story. Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

56334: The True Princess The True Princess
By Angela Elwell Hunt, illustrated by Diana Magnuson

Once upon a time, a king embarked on a journey. Before he left, he hid his precious daughter in a bakery shop. She soon discovered that life outside the castle was different. Would she learn to care for others? A wonderful tale about a child who realized that a true princess serves her people and God. Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

37019X: The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow
By Allen French

After Hiarandi is unjustly slain, his sixteen-year-old son Rolf is made outlaw by the same murderous neighbors. Rolf flees Iceland with his faithful cousin Frodi, only to be enslaved in the Orkneys by proud Grani. However, when the marauding baresarks arrive, master and slave alike must fight for their lives-and Rolf is the only man who can string the mighty Viking bow. Allen French's tale of Iceland told in the classic saga form, is an exciting story of Christian versus pagan values, forgiveness versus pride. The way Rolf comes to terms with his enemies in the face of injustice creates a suspenseful, thought-provoking book dificult to put down. By the author of "The Red Keep". Ages 10 and up.

200043: The Escape: The Adventures of Three Huguenot Children Fleeing Persecution The Escape: The Adventures of Three Huguenot Children Fleeing Persecution
By A. VanderJagt

A tale of the Huguenots in 1685-1695, for readers age 12-99, this tells of a family who endures tough times. The mother dies, early in the story, and the father is banished to a slave galley for life on a war ship. In spite of threats and punishment, 16-year-old John and his 10-year-old sister Manette, refuse to give up the faith they have been taught.

40991: The Tinker's Daughter: A Story Based on the Life of Mary Bunyan The Tinker's Daughter: A Story Based on the Life of Mary Bunyan
By Wendy Lawton

John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim's Progress, mentions only one of his six children in his memoirs--Mary. Born blind in 1650, her story still intrigues us nearly 350 years later. When her father was imprisioned for unlawful preaching, it was 10-year-old Mary who traveled the streets of Bedford each day, bringing soup to her father in prison. Mary developed a fierce determination for independence, after spending years proving that she was not hindered by her blindness. Only when she admited the she needed help did she turn to the Lord; the Source of all strength.

0843481: Bracken Trilogy #1: The Bridge Bracken Trilogy #1: The Bridge
By Jeri Massi

Princess Rosalynn is pretty, spoiled, and childish. She gives no thought to the men and women that protect her father's throne. Then one day, invaders from the enormous kingdom across the river storm across the Bridge and conquer the royal castle. Alone and in danger, Rosalynn sets out on foot to find her father. Driven by fear, she finds the Bridge and crosses it. In the enemy kingdom, she meets an unexpected friend--a woman who has discovered a secret way to save Rosalynn's kingdom. Together Rosalynn and the wise woman face enemy soldiers, wicked outlaws, and the wilds of the river on their quest to save her tiny kingdom. Their goal is the Bridge itself and the secret that it holds.

45262: Priceless Jewel at the Well: The Diary of Rebekah's Nursemaid Priceless Jewel at the Well: The Diary of Rebekah's Nursemaid
By Anne Tyra Adams

Eleven-year-old- Alisah goes to live with Rebekah to aid her aging nurse, Deborah, and raise money to support her family. Through Deborah's stories, Alisah learns of Rebekah's generous spirit and faithful love and records the details in her diary. She writes about Rebekah at the well, her travels with Isaac, and the struggle between Jacob and Esau for Isaac's blessing. Young girls will enjoy this beautiful story of following God's will, learning from mistakes, and loving completely. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

45262: Tom Watkins' Mistake Tom Watkins' Mistake
By Emma Leslie

Tom Watkins' Mistake realistically illustrates common temptations encountered by young people today. In a day of situation ethics, this relevant story speaks volumes. A brother and sister, enticed by material gain, forfeit their good reputation. A little boy realizes that true character is built by always telling the truth.

45262: Tom Watkins' Mistake Saved By Love
By Emma Leslie

Elfie is streetwise, rebellious, and a liar. She is convinced that nobody could love her because her sin is too great. She meets Susie who finally convinces her that no sin is too great for God.

Whew! In my searching and purchasing I discovered that it was *less* expensive to buy from Christian Book and pay shipping than it was to buy from Amazon with free shipping. The prices at Christian Book were just so much better. (Even *without* the coupon code I am giving you below! They were just that much better!) And here is that coupon code. I am not sure it still works, but in case you are in the buying mood, here it is: 251442AA

If you try to use it and it no longer works, please let me know. I will take if off this post. :+)

I love finding treasures! Don't you? What have you found so far in your Christmas hunt?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Favorite Hymn and CD

When we first sang the hymn, "Of the Father's Love Begotten," at church I had absolutely no idea how to sing it! The notes were much too difficult for me to sing - at least on first try! It stuck with me though, because of the words. I just love the words:

Of the Father’s Love Begotten

1. Of the Father's love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.

2. Oh, that birth forever blessed
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race,
And the Babe, the world's Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face
Evermore and evermore.

3. O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him
And extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore.

4. This is He whom Heaven-taught singers
Sang of old with one accord;
Whom the Scriptures of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word.
Now He shines, the Long-expected;
Let creation praise its Lord
Evermore and evermore.

5. Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore.

I liked the way this version sounded so much that I bought the whole album. (The album is only $10--not the $100 version I linked to above--but you can listen to the whole song at the link and I just love it. The album has the beautiful version with a bunch of absolutely gorgeous songs as well. :+)

Do you have a favorite hymn or album? I love finding new (to me at least) music that feeds my soul.

Oh, and I will get to that Christmas post soon. Too tired tonight! :+) I did get to review a really lovley book, First Snow in the Woods. They also sent along the *cutest* little plush fawns! My little girls will love them. :+) The photographs in this book are so beautiful. It is one of those books that you will return to again and again.

I wrote in my review, "As the fawn witnesses the changes his mother shares, “All things change. All creatures must prepare to follow their heartsong.” I like this way of putting it. I believe that it is God that places that heartsong in all His creatures – that He is the one that gifts His creatures with those “distant memories.” Even though the book does not state this implicitly, it is evident in all His creation and the book displays this well." I love that even books that are not expressly Christian still give glory to the Creator. I was very happy to review it and happy to recommend it.

Do you have any new-to-you Christmas or winter-oriented books? Or fall books for that matter since we have only just begun! I look forward to hearing your favorites.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So Much Goodness!

Well, there are just too many things going on and so much kindness - I just have to share it. I had a lovely birthday, thank you all for your comments! It was a *very* nice day topped off with my lovely friend, Jo, sending me the prettiest gorgeous roses, as well as Kathi, bringing over the nicest tray of cheese, hummus, and crackers, wine, chocolate covered coffee beans, dark chocolate and grapes. It was a lovely tray and the fellowship was sweet. There were so many roses they were in three places in my house! I felt so special!

AND my dear husband gave me a $50 gift card for Bath and Body Works and I have been enjoying their Lavender and Vanilla lotion as well as a whole bunch of deliciously smelling fall and Christmasy candles. YUM! My house has never smelled so good. :+)

AND then on Friday night my husband and two dear girlfriends planned a COMPLETE and TOTAL surprise party for me with all my dearest local girl friends. I was absolutely stunned. I turned white and got all shakey and teary! My goodness, what a wonderful special marvelous night. Thank you *SO* much, Mark, Heather, Grace, Diane, Anne, Tammy, Nancy, Tamara, and Kathi! I felt so honored and loved--you made my year! Your gifts of love and laughter help make my life the treasured blessing that it is.

AND then my curriculum arrived! My Mystery of History is in the house! We began it today and boy, I already love it! It starts out with an intro/overview to a section of lessons and then with what they term a "pretest." It is not supposed to be used as a test and we had a great time discussing the questions and seeing who knew the answers. It is a creative way to get their minds working towards the lesson and it worked for all of us. :+) The curriculum is written an a very friendly and engaging way and I love the author's manner towards her intended audience. What a blessing. We are going to do the Wall of Fame Timeline and the Memory Cards. By the end of this year I may be 100% hooked on MOH. :+) I am finally excited about what we are using and the children are too.

AND then I was given a bunch of beautiful clothing for my birthday and some birthday money to select a few choice items for myself, and some very pretty new brown shoes. Some of the items are still on their way and I am giddy when the mail guy or UPS comes. LOL I love new clothes. I don't often buy them, but they sure are fun when I get them. :+)

AND then I went Christmas shopping for the children. I have been spending hours pouring over certain things for them and I will list those in another entry when I have proper time to link to all the goodies I found. I also want to give them a heads up that they are not to read the next entry on pain of death! LOL OR, they will be seriously disappointed come Christmas morning. :+)

AND it has been super fallish in weather and I have been enjoying those candles so much and enjoying the rainyish weather and the lovely air that comes with it and have been enjoying life. I feel so very blessed--so much so!

SO, that is all for now. But that is *so* much, isn't it? :+) God is SO good to me.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Celebrating Life

I have been given the gift of life--37 years today. I just want to thank my Savior for those years and pray for many more. :+) I also wanted to share with you the joys of my life. Since I cannot put a picture of God here, you will just have to understand that He is first. :+)

Here is the best man alive, my husband Mark.



Here are the best children in the world:



And even our dog, Annie.



And our sweet psychotic kitties, Pip and Caspian:


For all these and so very much more,

I am just incredibly thankful today.

It is indeed a very Happy Birthday to me. :+)

Monday, October 08, 2007

I school therefore I file...

So today I filed my Private School Affidavit with the State of California. It is fairly easy to homeschool here, and I am grateful for that. It is not easy to *homeschool* necessarily (grin) but it is easy to get yourself established as a homeschooler. I have heard of the many state-mandated hoops that other families must go through outside of CA so I am grateful for our system.

I sort of dread filing the Affidavit though, and I don't really even know why. I think I just dislike having to have anything to do with the state. I guess I just believe that we ought to have the right as parents to school our children without involving the state, or notifying them, at all. They don't feel that way though so in order to obey the law, we file the affidavit. Have you California ladies filed yours yet?

What about you other state mamas - what hoops do you have to jump through?

We have having a better week - starting out right and jumping in.
Total Language Plus is going well and we are enjoying it very much. Do you ever find that what you think your children might not like, they end up really liking? I was not sure if all the different worksheets that are inside TLP were overkill or if they helped the children. They have Vocabulary, Grammar, Dictation (which I use as Copywork), Spelling, and Reading Comprehension. I was thinking that it was overkill. I spoke my thoughts and the children almost drowned me out with protest. :+) They really enjoy the worksheets because a) they are done in a pretty interesting and engaging manner, and b) they really help them learn the words they are studying. The vocabulary and spelling words are the same so they study them from many angles. Abigail had some difficult words last week and she aced her spelling test. I was very happy (and so was she!)

We have been using
Lamp and Quill for Bible study for the last nine or ten weeks now and there are many thoughts rumbling through my mind about it. I love the focused study on the sections and subjects and that it is systematic study. We are studying the days of creation and have been all over the Bible--not just in Genesis. I like that she makes us think, asks questions that don't always have one answer. (And then of course, there are the questions that do.) :+) I like that I am studying the same things with my children, but I have limited it to the oldest three. Currently the two youngest are with us listening and coloring, but the questions we are discussing are often really over their heads.

Their books are not like ours, and are, of course, on a more simplified level. This study is so so good for children who can really comprehend it, but I have been less impressed by the usability of the younger levels--at least within the scope of family Bible study time. This is not because the quality of the materials is any less, but more because it is very difficult to teach this subject to so many different levels at once. It really is not possible to teach the same material to a 13 year-old and a 5 year-old, at the same time, and have it be meaningful to both.

So, I am not 100% sure if I will continue to use the study with my younger ones, but I am 100% sure I will be using it with my older ones. If all I had was younger ones I would consider it, but I would also want to see samples of the questions to see if my children could really do the assignments. There are several that are quite over my seven year-old's head and her book is designed for a child her age and even a bit younger. At this point I have ordered the
The Child's Story Bible for my two little ones and we will enjoy reading that together. I will likely continue using the First Catechism with all of them too. (Search here under that title for a hardcopy and here for an online resource.)  

I would be interested in hearing how it is going from any of you who are using Lamp and Quill with younger aged children alone. Since that is not my situation, I would really like to know how it is working with your family. I think if I used it at a separate time with my little ones it might work better here. I may consider that and give it a "go" as well.

So what are you using that is new this year and how has it been working so far for your family? What are your "must have" products for this year? :+)

May your week be a blessed one.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Middle Mark

Yes, we are half way through the fall birthday bonanza. My wonderful husband of fifteen years is turning 38 today. Happy Birthday, love! You are precious and wonderful and we ALL appreciate you!

We have two more birthdays left until we have a family break. We group our birthdays here (fall and spring) and we didn't even plan that! We plan to head out to dinner and a movie tonight. I hope you enjoy your own evening! :+)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New Doings and Thinkings

Well, here we were all healthy and wise for lunch, eating my homemade hummus with whole grain crackers and cucumbers and red bell pepper for dipping, and what do I go and do this afternoon? I made chocolate cookies. I mean I have a serious fat tooth. No, not a sweet tooth, but a fat tooth. I love butter. It is just so bad, but I do. I so rarely make cookies that my children were utterly gleeful that they would actually get to eat them after I made them. LOL I guess I am not the picture of home baking bliss.  :+)


I am super excited. I just had an email from Maggie Hogan (www.BrightIdeasPress.com) and I am going to be blogging my Mystery of History experience. I have never used this program, but have heard untold positive things about it. I was using The Story of the Ancient World, but it was not covering all the things I wanted it to cover. Its subtitle is "A Revised and Expanded Edition of 'The Story of the Chosen People'" and I did not realize that when I bought it. I was looking for a blended version of Bible history along with ancient history and this is just not it. Sooooo, we will begin again at the beginning with MOH. :+) Yippie!


I have been reading one of the most fascinating books, The Curate of Glaston, by George MacDonald. It is actually three books under one binding. The Curate of Glaston, The Lady's Confession, and The Baron's Apprenticeship. MacDonald is mostly known today for his books for children, The Princess and the Goblin, and the sequel, The Princess and Curdie. This is a whole different animal and a very engaging story. There have been so many quotable portions that I have been hard-pressed to share only the few I will below. I hope you enjoy them. You can expect more to come!

"There are those, like George, who believe men will be happy to learn there is no God. To them I say, preach it then, and prosper in proportion to its truth. No; that from my pen would be a curse. Do not preach it until you have searched all the expanse of the universe, lest what you should consider a truth should turn out to be false and there should be after all somewhere, somehow, a living God, a Truth indeed who has created and governs the universe. You may be convinced there is no God such as this or that in whom men imagine they believe. But you cannot be convinced there is no God."

"I began, but did not that night get even through the first chapter of Matthew. Conscientiously I read every word of the genealogy. But when I came to the twenty-first verse and read, 'Thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from their sins,' I fell on my knees. No system of theology had come between me and a common-sense reading of the book. I did not for a moment imagine that to be saved from my sins meant to be saved from the punishment of them. My sinfulness remained clear to my eyes, and my sins too. I hated them, yet could not free myself from them. They were in me and of me, and how was I to get rid of them? But here was news of one who came to deliver me from that in me which was bad."

"Ah, Mr. Wingfold, what if, after all the discoveries are made, all the theories are set up and pulled down--what if, after all this, the strongest weapon a man can wield is prayer to the one who made him!"

"To tell you all that followed, if I could recall it in order, would take hours. Suffice it to say that from that moment on I became a student, a disciple. Before long there came to me also the two same questions you asked: How do I know there is a God at all? and How am I to konw that such a man as Jesus ever lived? I could answer neither. But in the meantime I was reading the story--was drawn to the Man, and was trying to understand his being, and character, and the principles of his life and action. To sum it all up, not many months had passed before I had forgotten to seek an answer to either question: they were in fact no longer questions. I had seen the man Jesus Christ, and in him had known the Father of him and of me."

"My dear sir, no conviction can be got--or if it could be got, would be of any lasting value--through that dealer in secondhand goods, the intellect. If by it we could prove there is a God, it would be of small avail indeed. We must see him and know him. And I know of no other way of knowing that there is a God but that which reveals what he is--and that way is Jesus Christ as he revealed himself on earth, and as he is revealed afresh to every heart that seeks to know the truth about him."