Saturday, May 28, 2011

Some will sow . . .

. . . some will water, some will weed, some will stake, but it is God that gives the increase. That is my own paraphrase from 1 Corinthians chapter 3. God used Paul to give us some wonderful word pictures, and this is one of my favorites.

This year, we discussed these lessons as we did, indeed, sow our seeds - literally. As a part of our science lessons early this spring, we started our own bedding plants for the first time.

Not only did we plant the seeds in good, healthy soil, we kept them moist until they sprouted. And then we watched over them, making sure they received enough light (but not too much), and enough water (but not too much).

We also celebrated when we measured their growth. All the while, we were amazed and astonished at what a wonderful God we serve, Who can take a tiny speck of a seed and bring life up out of the ground.

It was an exciting day when we were able to transplant pepper plants, and tomato plants, and watermelons, zucchini, cantelopes, sunflowers, sweet william and alyssum into our gardens.

And then we were able to plant the rest of our seeds - the ones that prefer being sown directly into the garden bed, like green beans and cucumbers. Everyone pitched in and worked together.

Mom hoed the trench and then the rows were marked with the twine-and-stick method. It's amazing how we lose track of where we planted what, so this is an essential step in the process. The kiddos then planted the seed. We have a tried and true method for spacing. It's called the heel-toe-heel method. You drop a seed at the beginning of the row, place your heel just in front of it, drop a seed at your toe, place the heel of your other foot in front of that one, drop another seed, etc, etc, etc.

We had some cool days leading up to our regular planting season, so as soon as it warmed up, we were out in the garden. But, boy did it warm up! I think it went from 50 degrees one day, to 90 the next! It was quite a shock to our systems. But Bekah was happy to be our water girl, offering a refreshing drink to anyone showing a drop of sweat on their brow. Or, at least, anyone who had not yet had a drink in the last 5 minutes. She took her job VERY seriously!

I had not realized until I started this post, that I don't have a photo of our entire young garden yet. I'll have to do something about that, as I'm hoping and praying that our severe weather and storms are now over, and I expect we'll be out and about much more this coming week. So, be watching for garden updates and pictures.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Going Back in Time

Learning, Schooling, Education, whatever you want to call it, comes in all shapes and forms around here. One of our favorite activities this year was a Living History Museum.

A 16 year old homeschooled girl in our area took this project on with the help of her mother and 13 year old sister. She asked all participants to research the life of an important person in history, and then to bring that person to life for our family and friends. They were to prepare a display of some type, and step into their 'hero's' shoes for the evening.

What a great opportunity for my younger guys! History, Reading, Speech, Language, Writing, Art, Woodshop, HomeEc, Science, Geography - these are just some of the subjects we covered while preparing for this big assignment.

Esther chose to portray a lady named Frances Grayson (wife of Andrew Jackson Grayson, naturalist and artist).

She and her husband and small son traveled west on the Oregon Trail to California, with the Donner/Reed party. But, before the Donners chose to travel their infamous shortcut, the Graysons chose to stay the course and arrived in Sacramento safely before winter. Esther dressed in authentic mid-1850's clothing, and gathered a few items that may have traveled west with her, and displayed a copy of one of her husband's sketches.

Gabriel stepped (very easily, I might add) into the shoes of inventor Eli Whitney.

Yes, the man that brought us the cotton gin, but more importantly, the man who first began mass producing interchangeable parts for firearms. As Eli Whitney, he enjoyed explaining how he came up with the idea that if you could make all parts the same, you could manufacturing and repairing guns would be more efficient and more cost-effective. Gabe especially enjoyed drawing up blueprints of many of his ideas.

Noah Webster was the obvious choice for our Mr. Noah.

He took it very seriously, and devoured every book he could find at our local library concerning Mr. Webster. Already a good reader, his research inspired him and helped him see how our words are such very important tools.

One last minute addition was Mr Webster's wife. Our little Rebekah decided that she would like to join in after all (once she realized how much fun everyone was having!) and her big brother Noah came to the rescue! He remembered that Mrs. Noah Webster's wife's name was Rebecca, and so he said 'you can be my wife'. Perfect!

On the evening of our presentation, there were 15 or so different people in history portrayed by some very talented and creative homeschooled children, ranging in ages from 6 to 16. Let me see, who else was gathered together with us that night? People from our frontier like Lewis & Clark, Daniel Boone, Annie Oakley. Figures from the War Between the States such as Clara Barton and Stonewall Jackson. Spiritual heroes like Amy Carmichael and Mother Theresa. Even more modern day figures such as a lady photographer and a woman percussionist. Oh, and don't forget Jane Austen and Mary Cassat! I'm sure I've left someone out, but that gives you a little glimpse of who we were rubbing shoulders one night earlier this spring.

It was a lot of work, but a wonderful experience. So much so, that on the way home that night, my 4 pupils were already trying to decide who they would be portraying next year. That brought a big smile and a contented sigh to this totally exhausted mother. OK, and some raised eye-brows, because I was totally NOT ready to think about next year yet.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Graduation Day

Mother's Day weekend was extra special this year.

We traveled to the big city to watch our oldest graduate with a degree in Civil Engineering, Magna Cum Laude.

The ceremony was held in the basketball stadium and there were over 400 graduates (from the Engineering College alone). No one had up close and personal seats, except for faculty, so we were thankful for the large screen set up so that we could actually see him cross the stage and shaking the hand of the college Dean. It was a proud moment for all of us, a special gift for his Mom, who invested all those years schooling and training (and often falling short of the mark - Praise God for HIS wonderful grace!).

We've always known we had smart kids, but Brent has worked very hard to reach his goal. God has great things in store for him.

My 3 engineers:
my dad, my son, my husband - they are all great men!

And here you see Brent and his women (wife Melissa, and little sisters Bekah & Esther):

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Smart Puppy

If you think schooling your children at home is an amazing feat, I have something even more amazing to show you:

Our resident 9 month old collie puppy, Solo, takes his reading lessons very seriously.

And so does his 4 year old teacher.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Treasure Hunter

That's what I call Luke these days. In the last couple of months, he has come across the most amazing things. Just look at some of his latest treasures -

This arrowhead is absolutely perfect! A friend of ours came out with his 2 sons not long ago, and joined Mike, Luke and Gabe hunting arrowheads. They scoured the bridge bottoms behind our house. They found many pieces, a few almost-intact arrowheads. But, Luke brought home the grand prize. They also brought home bunches of little chips of rock, little slivers, that had come off in the process of making the tools/arrowheads. You could almost see the people of long ago, gathering near the creek, making these sharp points in order to provide food for the family, clothing to wear, etc. We know that at some time in history, Indians have lived on this land, because we have found some evidence here and there through the years, like bits and pieces of arrowheads. I think this one is the best of them all. Very Cool Indeed!

And then, recently, we purchased a piece of property nearby. Once the previous owner had cleared out, Dad and the kids went exploring and searching, to see what was left behind. See what Luke brought home?

A 25-gallon fish aquarium! He tested to see if it would hold water (very important, don't you think?), scrubbed it clean, and now . . .

it is on display, ready and waiting for new residents. How many fish will a 25-gallon tank hold? I don't know yet, but WAY more than that dinky little 5-gallon tank we used to have set up (which we used to think was kind big, by the way).

And now, for the piece d' resistance (I have no idea if I spelled this correctly, but blogger didn't flag it as a spelling mistake - just read it with a french accent please)!

my 18 year old son now has wheels! And dreams, lol.

A '59 Chevy Apache. He won't be traveling very far in this classic just yet, but once he hauls it out of the pasture and gets it into the garage, he'll be hitting the road in no time. Well, maybe it will take some time, but he's already making plans and researching what it'll take to get this thing running.

It inspires me, the way Luke can look at a cast-off object and be able to envision potential, usefulness, and new life. He loves rolling up his shirt sleeves and applying elbow grease along with his creativity and imagination to bring something all worn out back into service.

It makes me think of our Creator - I'm so thankful that He was willing to send His Son to the cross and to take each of us in our imperfect bodies with sinful hearts and make them new again.

"Therefore,if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become now."
2 Corinthians 5:17

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