Sunday, October 11, 2015

Celebrating Autumn


By Edgar Guest

Days are gettin' shorter an' the air a keener snap;
Apples now are droppin' into Mother Nature's lap;
The mist at dusk is risin' over valley, marsh an' fen
An' it's just as plain as sunshine, winter's comin' on again.

The turkeys now are struttin' round the old farmhouse once more;
They are done with all their nestin', and their hatchin' days are o'er;
Now the farmer's cuttin' fodder for the silo towerin' high
An' he's frettin' an' complainin' 'cause the corn's a bit too dry.

But the air is mighty peaceful an' the scene is good to see,
An' there's somethin' in October that stirs deep inside o' me;
An' I just can't help believin' in a God above us, when
Everything is ripe for harvest an the frost is back again.

By Edgar Guest

Apples on the table an' the grate-fire blazin' high,
Oh, I'm sure the whole world hasn't any happier man than I;
The Mother sittin' mendin' little stockin's, toe an' knee,
An' tellin' all that's happened through the busy day to me:
Oh, I don't know how to say it, but these cosy autumn nights
Seem to glow with true contentment an' a thousand real delights.

The dog sprawled out before me knows that huntin' days are here,
'Cause he dreams and seems to whimper that a flock o' quail are near;
An' the children playin' checkers till it's time to go to bed,
Callin' me to settle questions whether black is beatin' red;
Oh, these nights are filled with gladness, an' I puff my pipe an' smile,
An' tell myself the struggle an' the work are both worth while.

The flames are full o' pictures that keep dancin' to an' fro,
Bringin' back the scenes o' gladness o' the happy long ago,
An' the whole wide world is silent an' I tell myself just this--
That within these walls I cherish, there is all my world there is!
Can I keep the love abiding in these hearts so close to me,
An' the laughter of these evenings, I shall gain life's victory.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fall is Here!

Fall is here!  I love this time of year... the crisp air, the cooler breeze, the chilly mornings, the cozy evenings, the beauty of the foliage around the area.  The only thing I'm not too keen on is that it signals the coming of winter, which is sometimes a little hard for me, even after 20 years.  As I've said before, you can take the girl out of Southern California, but you can't take all of So Cal out of the girl. : )
   We are attempting to get into a rhythm for our school schedule, but as usual we find that a bit of a challenge. My oldest dd has only 2 years of formal homeschool left, and I know how fast those years fly, and there is still so much I want to tell her and share with her and pour into her heart.  I realize that technically that role doesn't end abruptly upon formal graduation, but I also know that things do "change" and the teaching role we have as parents definitely changes.
    So I looked at the crazy busy schedule looming before us this year, and realized that not only did it gobble up so much of our precious time at home together, but I had literally overbooked myself to the point of having to admit that we just couldn't do it all.  So after much prayer and soul searching and reevaluating, I dropped some things, (even some worthy things!), rearranged others, consolidated some and regrouped on the home front to allow more time to be ... home. (There's a concept!)
   Even with those adjustments, we are still busier than I'd prefer, but at least we have a little wiggle room for the unexpected and a slightly emptier calendar each week, which translates to more time available to accomplish our educational and family goals.  At least that's the plan. : )
    I'm thankful to the Lord for His faithful guidance as we seek His face and His plan for our families.  Sometimes I get so busy with my own agenda and schedule that I find it difficult to hear His voice.  But as I a slow down, and wait upon Him, He always comes through, leading us, guiding us, teaching us. It's not always the answer I am hoping for, and it's not always in my preferred timing, but as I follow His lead, I'm reassured by the peace that replaces the stress.
   Anyone relate?  I pray you are getting into a comfortable schedule that meets the needs of your family.  And I encourage you to reevaluate if necessary and be prepared to change directions or clear your schedule or hunker down and plow full speed ahead... just be obedient in whatever the Lord is guiding you to do.

Monday, July 27, 2015

TESTING WITH FLO (Family Learning Organization)

Testing can be a stressful event each year, especially if you have children with learning disabilities or special needs or delays. I wanted to be sure everyone is aware of the WA state testing option called an Assessment, (as opposed to a standardized test). By the way, this option is not only for those students with special needs. I have known many families who prefer to satisfy state testing requirements using this option with all of their children, regardless of learning styles or challenges. Also, FLO provides standardized testing as well. So if you or your children prefer not to test in a group setting, it’s good to know there are other options.

Here are a few links to their site: - assessments general testing info.

467-2552 - You may also contact them directly with questions and for more information.

Below is an article from a homeschool mom, who has used FLO’s testing services and has much insight. I appreciate her sharing her experience with us, as I know it will be helpful as you make decisions for testing your children this year.


Each year about this time many homeschoolers participate in annual review
of their children. In most situations a standardized test is used to
measure the individual child. Most parents are familiar with the process
and comfortable in evaluating the results for their own children. There are
various reasons that a standardized test is not the best evaluation tool and
Washington State home based education laws allow for a testing alternative.
Parents can opt for an educational assessment by a certified teacher.

When the time came for compliance with our developmentally disabled child,
I was initially hesitant to participate because a teacher would be looking
over my shoulder. Like many I realized that I was being evaluated, not my
child, and I was fearful, even though I had homeschooled for years. I am
however a big proponent of our family friendly law and it was my desire to
comply that propelled the process.

While I cannot speak for all organizations, I can give a full
recommendation for Family Learning Organization. I first met FLO in 1996 at
an informational seminar on homeschooling at the local library. Over the
years I have utilized the testing service and have received great
encouragement with any question I had. Although I was leery of assessments,
my good experiences gave me confidence to work with them

There are two types of assessments that are offered: a checklist style
(great for those with fairly standard grade skills) and a freestyle
assessment with general areas. Both come complete with materials
(worksheets to fill in) and instructions with suggestions. Each was
developed primarily for Washington State, so the eleven required subjects
are listed in an easy to use form.

We have used the freestyle form which has space after each subject heading
for the parent to write a brief description of the child's progress in each
subject over the past year. The form does not ask for anything more than is
required by state law. The form could be filled out in about a half an
hour. The results were returned very quickly.

The best part is that this is a homeschool supportive assessment. There is
no sense of judgment or measurement of failure, it is not overly intrusive.
The verification form that is returned has a place for comments and teacher
confirmation. Although it reads a little clinical, FLO has worked to
produce a law abiding way to help fulfill state requirements without
interfering with the rights of parents. In the years that I have used the
assessment service, only one corrective comment was made—to my spelling

I encourage every homeschooling family to comply with our friendly
supportive law, including the yearly evaluations. I am happy to recommend
FLO for either testing or assessments.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


    Enjoy this beautiful song and be thankful for the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

Titus, Comrade of the Cross - A Review

   Our family has been reading this beautiful, Lamplighter Publishing book as a history supplement, and it happened to fit right in with the Easter season, which was more than fitting.  Titus, Comrade of the Cross, by Florence Kingsley, is an excellent choice of literature to go along with your history studies, or to read together for the Easter season, or just to add to your Must Read list.  This is my third time through the book, and honestly, I'm moved every single time.  It really should not be missed. 
    I don't want to give away some of the special and surprising relationships in the story, so I'll keep the review of the characters a bit vague.  The story is set during the time of Jesus' ministry and centers around a young man, Titus, who is kidnapped as a boy, and encounters many struggles as he is raised by a cruel father. The people of the Bible come to "life" as we encounter many familiar names from the Bible, including the Pharisees, disciples, and especially Jesus.
     The story is beautiful and sad at the same time, and while it is often listed for younger children, I would use caution and suggest it more for ages 12 and up and recommend reading it together as a family, as there is much to discuss along the way.  It is more than appropriate reading for teens as well, both girls and guys, and they would also benefit from reading as a read-aloud.  It isn't graphic, but there are themes of abuse, violence, and heartbreak, along with redemption, forgiveness and love! 
  This story was written for and won a contest in the late 1800's, and the goal was to write a story that would set a child's heart on fire for Christ.  She succeeded! One small "caution" is that it is written in rather formal, older English, so don't let the "hithers and thithers" distract you.  After a short time, you actually appreciate the language and it adds to the "you are there" reading experience.  Don't wait for Easter to pick up this title.  It should be added to every family's Must Read list.

And you won't want to miss the sequel, Stephen, Soldier of the Cross, also written by Florence M. Kingsley.  She once again writes a moving, historical fiction account of life during the time of Christ.  With all the garbage out there being offered as reading material for our children, I gobble up titles such as these that are such worthy reading.    I appreciate Lamplighter Publishing putting out these wonderful titles.  They have many other excellent titles available, such as Teddy's Button, The Basket of Flowers, Hedge of Thorns and more.  They also offer lists especially recommended for boys or girls.  These are beautiful books to add to your library,

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Notgrass Company

The Notgrass Company is the home school ministry and curriculum offered by Ray and Charlene Notgrass and family.  I have been reading their articles for years and have appreciated their strong Christian worldview and heart of ministry to the home school community. Their specialty is history and government for middle school and high school, but these courses include Bible and literature as well. 
  They also offer an economics course and more. Check out their website and materials at the link above and you can request a catalog. 

Exploring World History is a one-year high school course that teaches students to understand history from the perspective of faith in God and respect for His Word. In addition to reading the history narrative about events, issues, and people from around the world and across the centuries, students read the words of people who made history in original documents, speeches, poems, and stories. They also read classic literature that helps bring to life the time periods they are studying. A variety of writing assignments and hands-on project ideas help students engage in what they are learning. The updated 2014 edition features hundreds of color illustrations and photographs. In addition to a thorough survey of Western Civilization, it offers expanded coverage of Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

One thing that sets this curriculum apart for the high school option is that world history is covered in one year. Many popular curriculum options spend several years/volumes getting through world history. And while I love some of those materials, sometimes there just isn’t enough time left to spend doing that. Since my dd is doing “10th grade” this year, I am very interested in this one year World History course. I started doing the math and realized that if I take another 3 years to finish world history, we won’t get to the other subjects that are important to me.

Another element that caught my attention is that this course is actually 3 courses in 1. It contains a complete book list (which happens to contain many books I already have listed on my must read list) along with literary analysis and writing assignments. I struggle to find worthy writing assignments, and after looking through this book, I appreciated the assignments in this curriculum. A lot. And by having the reading list incorporated into the curriculum, I believe we will have more accountability for completing the reading. I like that too.  (Note: They include one title in particular (The Giver) that I would skip and supplement something different.)  If you keep track of things like “credits”, this course is worth 3 credits… history, literature and Bible. That’s because the third component to the course is a Bible study.

I also like the fact that I can follow up this world history course with their American history course (also covered in one year… and also has an excellent book list and literary analysis and Bible component), followed finally by government and economics which are one semester courses.

Finally, something that I really appreciate about this course, is that it was just updated in 2014, so it addresses world and American history up through our current administration. So much has happened in the last 6 years, both at home and abroad, that I like the fact that current events will be addressed in our curriculum from a Christian worldview.    

The one pause is that it’s a bit pricey at first glance - $99.00. But when you see that it is two beautiful volumes, as well as a few other supplemental books of original writings, student book and answer keys, includes built in literature guides, and the content is so full that it is really 3 subjects in 1, the cost is quite justifiable.
So to summarize, I have been very pleased with our decision to use this course this year because it covers world history in one year, it is actually more than one course, it incorporates a book list that I like, it has writing assignments and literature guides that I think are worthy, it contains a lot of Bible and Christian worldview, and it is up to date politically and historically.  Cathy Duffy offers her review here .

 Quick mention... they also offer resources for middle school that look great as well.

Children are Dogs, Teenagers are Cats

   I won't say much about this post.  If you have or have had a teen, you will "get it".  If you don't get it yet, you will. : )

   So, for all those moms who are grieving the loss of their "dog", start enjoying your "cat".

Children are Dogs, Teenagers are Cats
  By Unknown

“I just realized that while children are dogs—loyal and affectionate—teenagers are cats.
It’s so easy to be a dog owner. You feed it, train it, boss it around.  It puts its head on your knee and gazes at you as if you were a Rembrandt painting. It bounds indoors with enthusiasm when you call it.
Then, around age 13, your adoring puppy turns into a big old cat. When you tell it to come inside, it looks amazed, as if wondering who died and made you emperor.
Instead of dogging your footsteps, it disappears. You won’t see it again until it gets hungry…then it pauses on its sprint through the kitchen long enough to turn up its nose at whatever you’re serving, swishing its tail and giving you an aggrieved look until you break out the tuna again.
When you reach out to ruffle its head in that old affectionate gesture, it twists away from you, then gives you a blank stare as if it is trying to remember where it has seen you before.
You, not realizing your dog is now a cat, think something must be desperately wrong with it. It seems so antisocial, so distant, sort of depressed. It won’t go on family outings. Since you’re the one who raised it, taught it to fetch, stay and sit on command, you assume you did something wrong. Flooded with guilt and fear, you redouble your efforts to make your pet behave.
Only now you’re dealing with a cat, so everything that worked before now has the opposite result. Call it, and it runs away. Tell it to sit, and it jumps on the counter. The more you go toward it, wringing your hands, the more it moves away.
Instead of continuing to act like a dog owner, you must learn to behave like a cat owner. Put a dish of food near the door and let it come to you. But remember that a cat needs your help and affection too. Sit still and it will come, seeking that warm, comforting lap it has not entirely forgotten. Be there to open the door for it.
One day your grown up child will walk into the kitchen, give you a big kiss and say,
“You’ve been on your feet all day. Let me get those dishes for you.” Then, you’ll realize your cat is a dog again.”