So you want to become a Pirate?

Ahoy there, scurvy dogs!

This week our reading adventure mingled with a super fun field trip…The Midlands Pirate Festival!

All week our kids were talking pirate speak and daddy sat down to read the littles the very famous How I Became a Pirate by our beloved author David Shannon in which a little boy discovers that as much fun as a pirate might be, it can’t replace mom and dad reading bedtime stories and taking care of basic needs like hygiene. An excellent book that has been well-loved in this house over the years! (I heard there’s a sequel: Pirates Don’t Change Diapers…may need to check that out at our local library!)

We had a great time visiting the festival and partaking in singing, sword fighting, ziplining, belly dancing, turkey-leg eating, and shopping. My kids gave it a thumbs up and an, “Aaarrrggghhhh” for good measure!

Spiritual Weeding

I’ve been meaning to do a post about the act of spiritual weeding for over a year now. The draft has been sitting in my dashboard and occasionally I sit down and try to pen my heart on this issue. It is such a rich discussion and I think of it everytime I am in the garden. Yet whenever I’ve tried to write, the words never come. But then a very dear friend sent me this devotion that says exactly what’s on my heart beautifully.

The Lord is good. It is 5 in the morning and I cannot sleep. I am feeling anxious and I can’t put my finger on why. I read these words and He pierces my soul. Isn’t that just like Him? Leading me gently to just the right words I need. I encourage you to do the same today!

Before weeding.

After weeding.

A few thoughts while weeding my garden about weeding the sin out of our lives.

  • It is never too late.
  • Weeds come out easiest after a good rain when the ground is softened.
  • Sometimes you must hastily chop off the top before even attempting to pull out roots.
  • If you keep up with the task, the roots are easily pulled up, but let it go and the job is an uphill battle.
  • Sometimes you’re not sure it’s a weed or a flower.
  • Sometimes what you thought was a weed turns out to be beautiful and useful.
  • Taking out weeds close to the flowers/vegetables requires patience and care…one must slow down and be careful not to destroy the good plant.
  • Pulling out weed roots closest to flowers/vegetables is easiest because it’s in fertile soil.
  • Even if you can’t get to all the weeds, pulling some is still worthwhile.
  • Sometimes you must destroy the whole garden in order to get to the deep weed roots.
  • If you maintain healthy, fertile soil all weeds can be removed easily.
But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” ~ Matthew 13:25-26


Meet our new roommates….

Squirmy and Fred, our monarch caterpillars

and Dooky (don’t ask!), our salt marsh caterpillar.

I was so excited to finally find some Monarch caterpillars. So looking forward to the exquisite jade green and gold chrysalis they make. By far my favorite caterpillar to keep and feed! Thank you, God, for the abundant amount of milkweed in our backyard fields! Monarch’s food of choice.

Gabe informed me that he thinks the cute furry gray guy is a salt marsh caterpillar (cousin to the woolly bear but non-banded). Good to know.  Can’t wait to find out!

This is our third year keeping caterpillars and it has turned into a tradition that I quite look forward to in August ~ September!

Think we shall be reading this during the school week ~

Monarch Butterfly of Aster Way



Less Screen Time

So I have in my head this great weekly wrap up on the rocks and minerals unit study we are doing right now. (Sorry, you’ll have to check back next week! 😉 But instead I spent much more time doing this…

and this…

and much less time on my computer.

Life is good!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Small Town Hospitality in Swedeburg, Nebraska

This past Sunday I got a true taste of small town life in the country! What to do when someone invites you to a church picnic of a church you’ve never attended? Go, partake, and enjoy small town hospitality! It was a beautiful day. The smell of pulled pork tantalized the senses. And the music took me back to younger days gone by.

Blessing #602 ~ small town hospitality

Thank you Pastor Steve and  Swedeburg Covenant Church for allowing us to worship and celebrate 135 years with you!

Learning the Bible ~ When It’s NOT Boring!!!

Do you ever sit in Sunday School (do they still do that?) and yawn as you listen to the teacher drone on about stories that you’ve hear a million, bijillion times??? Do you ever wonder if there are other stories in the Bible? Stories about cool things and weird things and people God was using in unusual ways? How come we never here of these?

I suspect it’s because the other way is easier in a world full of grownups who have their own agendas other than teaching our kids truth. Sunday morning is about worship and praise bands and ministry teams and powerpoints. Who wants to do kids ministry?

Well, not anymore. Check out The Fabulous Bentley Brothers (from the makers of veggie tales) singing about II Kings:

In fact, there is a whole DVD series for kids about learning what’s really in the Bible. Don’t just memorize the names of the books (although that’s cool too…check this outand this!), know what’s in the Bible. These videos may seem like twaddle to some or just plain silliness but my kids were glued and had retained more in 15 minutes of watching then 2 months of me reading and teaching. You can criticize veggie tales and the culture’s use of T.V. all you want, but clearly these are some people who have a love of God laid on their hearts that is very rare in today’s world!

I will be buying this whole series for my kids. It is fabulous! The best thing since the invention of Peanut Butter and Jelly!

Check out more at

Ode to 16 Years…

A Romantic Ode to the One I Love!!!


You went in to work at six in the morn

just as if this special day had never been born.

No love weekend get-aways to Maine or to Spain…

In fact, dishes are waiting me still in the drain.


It’s been sixteen years since you made me your bride

blushing and gushing with new found pride.

We set up our house and lived out our dream

never guessing the road would be filled to the brim.


You’re not home for an evening of dining in town.

I’m fixing up muffins and quiche for this crowd.

Nothing fancy or special to mark celebration

except leftover icing from breakfast’s sensation.


Pat set us up with a bottle of wine

and some flowers and chocolate on which we can dine.

She’s so sweet with her guilt for you having to work

from the sun’s early rise to your ride home in the dark.


Not very romantic or extremely grand

just holding down the fort with our literal clan.

But this is the secret I’ve learned all these years

of building a life following Jesus who steers…


It is not about lovey dovey instant gratification

but true acts of service that build up our nation.

A family unit that’s solid and built upon rock

serving each need of the person they’ve already got.


Your service of work today peirces my heart

as a true act of love that sets us apart

from the norms of the hustle and bustle filled strife

to something much deeper that cuts like a knife.


300 people tasted and saw it was good

this work that you do as a man always should.

And man that you are, you ignite inside me

a flame that’s not quenched very easily.

I love you! Thank you for 16 wonderful years!

Living Math: Dominoes

My budding learners are loving using Math Lessons for a Living Education book. They enthusiastically complete the worksheets and are ready to move on to the next story. But I’m not ready for them to. I notice that while they complete the sheets correctly they have yet to grasp the concept of true number recognition. How to solve?


Yep…dominoes is a wonderfully simple game to introduce number recognition. And they LOVED it! Just match the correct number of dots with the actual numeral. Sounds simple but for a 3 and 5 year old can be quite challenging. This made a short 15 minute math lesson draw out to an hour of wonderful playtime. This is what I like to see!

Want more of a domino challenge for an older child?

Domino Math Mats (love this!)

Domino Math Worksheets

Domino Math

How was your week in math?

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Read Aloud Thursday: Kevin Henkes

I was invited last week to participate in Amy’s Read Aloud Thursday’s at Hope Is The Word. Time ran away from me but I decided this week I would give it a go. I love reading other’s reviews of books. They are always so helpful in my library selections. So I am excited to share in this endeavor with other mothers who have this same passion for children’s literature.

This week has been a social whirlwind for us. Two playdates, two picnics, swimming, church, lifegroup, grocery shopping, a library trip, and two unexpected social visits left very little time at home. (And my house shows it!) So today was a day to just sit at home and do school. Unfortunately it was hard to just do that. I kept looking around at all that should be done by way of housekeeping and had a hard time just letting it go. But I knew I needed to. These littles needed momma time. So I lit some candles, put on soft jazz, inhaled, relaxed and grabbed some books I knew would put me in the right frame of mind.

Kevin Henkes is one of my all time favorite children’s authors. Today we curled up with Chrysanthemum to start with. His use of repetition is calming and I love that he doesn’t talk down to children. His broad use of vocabulary astounds me every time I read his books. And he knows the children will get it. He doesn’t pander to age range or supposed ability. This is what stretches a child and will do more for a well-rounded language arts curriculum than any vocabulary workbook can!

How can you resist lines like ~

Oh, pish,”said her mother. “They’re just jealous.” 

“And envious and begrudging and discontented and jaundiced,” said her father. 

We read straight through all the Kevin Henkes books we own which also included Chester’s Way, Julius, the Baby of the World, and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. Although I am also especially fond of Owen which is about a little mouse who just can’t give up his blanket. I don’t own it but will if I ever come across it in a library sale!

And, if you haven’t been there yet, go check out his site. Click on Mouse Tales and you can play interactive games to go along with the books. I see an afternoon project coming up!

Sometimes it’s in the little things…

Sometimes life is crazy. I can’t help but look around and feel overwhelmed…overstimulated…overworked. The list goes on. And sometimes I just need to focus. My life this week has been crazy. Good crazy…filled with wonderful people crazy.

When I know my littles need my attention on them and not on the million house tasks I see stacked up around me, I need a way to focus my priority. Some people take it to God in prayer. I admit, I do too…a lot. But sometimes I need something much more tangible…something I can wrap my senses around in order to calm me.

For me that is sense of smell. And I know it is still summer and muggy with temps above normal, but I need fall right now. I need warm apple spice and cinnamon permeating my house. With my comfortable 72 degree air conditioning, I can set aflame scents and close my eyes and pretend a cool fall breeze is caressing me through my pretend open window.

My second tangible is music. My music of choice is Pandora…a place where I get to pick my mood and then let someone else do the job of providing the sound. When I am frazzled and I need peace to wash over me I turn to soft jazz, and Christmas soft jazz at that. There is something cathartic about listening to saxaphones and musical offbeats that takes me back to pre-kid days of walking around Barnes and Nobles with a latte in my hand with a whole night to explore whatever I wanted.

This…oh this is a little slice of heaven. It may not be praise music but the Lord doesn’t mind. All music is His and He created it just for this…to delight our touch us in an inexpressible way like nothing else can. I am wallowing in that today and it feels just right.

Take the $5 Challenge

This showed up in my email today:

I want to eat healthy, local food but I have no time, not much money and no clue how to pull it off. What can I do?” – pretty much everyone

Yes..yes…have heard this SO many times, often from my own mouth. I’ve done A LOT in the past year to actually make this a reality for our family. It isn’t easy. It takes time and thought and research and experimenting. It takes baby steps and small changes. But it can be done.

Things I do to put real (unprocessed), whole, nutritious (preferably local) food on our table:

  • Cook from scratch. Refuse to by boxed despite the temptation. Yes, there may be some questionable meals in the beginning experimenting stages but it does get better! 😉 My biscuits are now (as my hubby would affectionately say!).
  • Make my own bread. This is still touch and go for me. With the amount of work on my plate this one sometimes falls by the wayside.
  • Cook a whole chicken and then turn the bones into broth. This has saved us the most amount of money. A $6 chicken can feed our family 2-3 meals and I get about 8-10 cans (baggies) of broth out out of the deal…an extra $6-10 savings.
  • Use in season vegetables from a local farmer. We sourced one who is selling us produce for $1 per pound. Beat that supermarket!
  • Grow a garden. This one seems like a no-brainer but if you want to actually grow one and NOT waste money check out this book: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 an Acre.
  • Learn to can. Put up food in it’s season while it is the most inexpensive. Sometimes this is as simple as chopping and freezing. Or it can be elaborate as making wonderful preserves or marinara’s.
  • Buy in bulk. No, not the warehouse clubs. I’m talking take that tax refund check, run it down to your local CSA or meat farmer and buy a share when the bulk money is there. Pre-order CSA veggies to be delivered weekly. Bring home 1/2 a cow and freeze it. Order a side of pig and have bacon, chops, ribs for the whole year!
  • Learn to waste nothing. Chopping veggies? Onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and herb ends can go into a freezer baggie and be used when preparing stock. Other veggie/fruit waste can be turned back into rich soil through compost. (Who wants to buy compost?) Fat from your pig you ordered can be turned into lard and put up for the year for delicious biscuits, pie crusts, cookies and for popping popcorn. Kids don’t like bread heels? Chuck them in the freezer until you have enough to make bread pudding or dry them on the counter top and turn into bread crumbs. I even came across a lady who turned her extra chicken feet into stock!!!
  • Source Raw Milk. Still working on this one. But when we do…oh man. That same money spent on not-so-nutritious pasteurized milk can be used on super nutrient dense milk that can also be used to make cream, butter, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, farmer’s cheese, cottage cheese, and cream cheese. This is the largest percentage of where our grocery dollar disappears to so I am excited to try and shave in this particular area.
  • Learn to hunt. This is a new skill my husband will be taking up this fall. Permits are usually low cost and this is a self-sufficiency skill that is a lost art. Possible deer meat for a year? Maybe a turkey? This is meat you can take to the bank.
  • Eat your local weeds. Did you know purslane is a wonderful addition to salads? And it is probably growing right now in your front yard. What about dandelion omelletes? Chicory root coffee? Have fun experimenting and exploring your own back yard. Read: The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
So I decided to take on this $5 Challenge! What is the $5 Challenge you say? Glad you asked. Most fast food value meals are $5 or under. We will be attempting to feed a dinner meal at under $5 a person using only local, real food to show that it can be done for the average family! As Slow Food USA says:
Together, we’re sending a message to our nation’s leaders that too many people live in communities where it’s harder to buy fruit than Froot Loops.”
I will be hosting a dinner party at my house on Saturday, September 17. All (in my local area) friends and family can come and partake. Please R.S.V.P. in comments or via facebook or email by September 10th. I will email you with the time and details. We will be watching the movie Food, Inc. while eating the delicious fare that my chef hubby and I will cook up. I hope much fruitful discussion can take place afterwards. Dessert and coffee will be included. I will be typing up a sheet with a break down of our dinner food costs on the front and local sources of food on the back for all who are interested and will be back here to blog about our yummy meal and discussion highlights within that next week.
And for all those who aren’t in my local area, please visit the $5 Challenge site and sign up to host your own dinner party!

Camping in the front yard…

Sounds like a good idea, right?

Ahhh…memories of my childhood…running around the backyard with friends until 3 in the morning…practical jokes that weren’t so funny to some…eating junk food by the bucketfuls. Glad to pass on the tradition.

The kids were super excited tired and in pajamas, ready for bed by 6:30…amazing! Music by the fire, smores, smoke smell in the hair…what’s not to love? Well…there was this amazingly horrific thunderstorm of doom that ruined it at around 11:30 p.m…right when all the little ones had finally nodded off. Luc woke up in his bed the next morning crying because he wasn’t in the tent anymore. Lucky for mommy, they were all so tired from staying up so late that not a one of them woke up to the storm. Now Ivy…she’s a different story!

Blessing # 601 ~ The ability to allow your kids to stay up late and sleep in late in the middle of the week. School? What school? *Wink!* Just one more reason why we homeschool!   

To Test or Not to Test…Should I Test My Homeschooler?

Many homeschoolers must test due to state regulations.

Many homeschoolers choose to test to track progress and fill in educational gaps.

Many homeschoolers educate at home precisely to avoid testing.

Which is right? As with many hot topics in the homeschooling community, I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer. Our state does not require it (thank goodness!) and I usually fall into the last category. The only testing we have done around here is the Math U See tests that follow at the end of each chapter.  I usually avoid testing like the plague. I grew up taking LOTS of tests (and acing them) only to forget the information the next day.

And I believe our flawed educational system is set up on a system of testing and tracking that ultimately fails our kids. Teachers struggle to fit all the information in that will be required of students taking the tests. There is little time to enjoy exploring subjects deeply. There are no rabbit trails to follow. Most history and science is repeated year after year (albeit at a slightly more complex level) so there are huge gaps of history and science that never get studied at all or are crammed into a short four-year high school level. Most teachers long to explore innovative new ways to teach and interact with their students. Most never get the chance because curriculum is already dictated due to test scores. This is exactly the kind of thinking that made my husband and I originally decide to homeschool in the first place. We remember what school was like and we knew we didn’t want that for our children.

My husband and I recently watched the Waiting for Superman documentary. It was completely fascinating. I agreed with a lot of the flaws and problems that crop up in our education system. Where I choose to part ways is in the solution. Their solution? Longer school days, more days of school, more push for excellence and higher test scores. I was saddened. The worst part was their discussion of tracking and how it automatically shuts out some students (usually of the poorer class) for upper college track learning. It made this out to be a horrible problem. These poor students could end up as…gasp…farmers or in a technical skilled position. Here’s my rub…why is being a farmer bad? Why is being an electrician not as important as being a doctor or lawyer or CEO executive? How could that doctor even function without food in his belly to provide energy unless the farmer provides his food? How could that doctor perform surgery unless an electrician makes sure his lights and equipment have the proper conduits to work? And, my experience has taught me, college isn’t needed for everyone. Working your way up in a company (used to be called apprenticeship) is, in many cases, more valuable to getting where you want in a job then a piece of paper with a completed degree.


This year we chose to test Gabe. Not in an official state-standardized sort of way, but in a more laid-back see-what-you-know sort of way. A couple of years ago I recieved a free copy of Spectrum Grade 4 Test Prep. It is a practice workbook for taking a standardized test. It covers Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science. I was never sure if I was going to use it or not but held onto it anyway.

Why would I subject him to this if I feel so strongly in the other direction? Good question. The answer for me is complex and simple at the same time. In it’s simplest form, we wanted Gabe to have the experience of sitting down and knowing what it was like to take a test. We wanted him to be exposed to the art of having to take a test with all its pressures. I also wanted to know how we, as a homeschool family, stacked up against public education. (This was just for my own personal curiosity.) We’ve covered, for the most part, one full cycle of history including government and he is well-read in science. This, for me, would answer how well he retained some of the information we did study as well as how he would do with the pressure of having to answer questions on information he may have not been exposed to yet.

For instance, he officially has not studied fractions in math (we are doing that in fifth grade based on our curriculum choice) yet I know he’s read of fractions and worked with them in real-life situations. There is a whole test page on fractions in the math section. How will he do with assimulating this new information and making an educated guess?

On a more complex level, this also gives him a glimpse into the life of a public-schooled student. Answering worksheets like this? Standard for the public-schooled student. Worksheets are a daily habit. Multiple-choice tests are a standard, weekly practice. The tediousness of reading a section of text that is, usually, quite boring and then having to “comprehend” that information in the form of questions is status quo for the public-schooled student. Our family has been on a steady diet of living books, not dry text books. Part of me wanted him to have a bit of appreciation for how we do school as opposed to how he could be doing school. And the art of sitting down and just having to complete something no matter how boring or tedious is good for the character. A steady diet of it will kill the love of learning but a good dose every once in a while is good medicine!

That said, this test was hardly stressful. There was no timer. Bathroom breaks were permitted whenever he felt like. He could have a drink sitting next to him as he worked. And I, as the “teacher”, had the privilege of eliminating the crap part of the tests. (Is it really necessary to fill out a page about a personal narrative or answer questions about a bar graph that my second grader could ace or give politically correct answers to philosophies that our family doesn’t adhere to?) We just adjusted the grading to figure percent per area based on questions answered correctly divided by total number of questions.

At first he was excited…something new and different. He quickly changed his tune when he ran into a question he didn’t know because we had never gone over it.  His views on fairness were challenged. This was good fodder for us to discuss the education system and the parts he will eventually have to take part in whether he wants to or not. The experience also allowed us to learn about some heart issues of character that needed to be addressed.

He did excellent in Language Arts and Mathematics. Social Studies was his downfall. This was not because he didn’t necessarily know some of the material (although that played it’s part as we’ve concentrated on chronological history and have not spent a great deal of time on “social studies” of his immediate neighborhood), mainly he just refused to answer some of the questions. When asked he said this was his least favorite subject. I explained on how not answering a question brings down his overall grade and we talked about educated guesses and how to glean new information from the context of surrounding information.

Surprisingly, he also didn’t score as well in science. Which was unexpected for me because he loves science and is always walking around reading science books. Is it certain elementary jargon he’s not familar with? Is it asking questions of scientific topics he’s not really interested in? His interests lie mainly with electricity and chemistry and the elements. Would I be better informed to find out what he does know? I will be contemplating this further as I set up a more Charlotte Mason style test as I know this will give me a more accurate view! Check back for discussion on that!

Now, I am not being honest unless I admit I was a bit afraid of even giving him this test. I knew this was a good thing and would help his father and I evaluate where he is academically, where we feel he should be, and if that is due to testing bias or if there is really a gap in our teaching. But this meant flaying me open for vulnerability. How would I, as teacher, be judged? As I was grading his work my heart was racing and I realized that this test reflected on me as much as him. Or, at least, I felt it did even if it wasn’t suppose to. I had to take it to prayer and ask the Lord to show me what was really important, how I should view the scores, what we should change (if anything) and, most importantly, if this is an experience we will repeat with future children or whether it was even worth our time. Those questions have yet to be answered. But at least I was honest with the pros and cons of the experience. And, if nothing else, it just reaffirmed for me that testing academics is such a narrow view of how your student is progressing. The best part of this experience that I will take away is learning about my son’s heart, not his score!

I should have liked to be asked to say what I knew. They always tried to ask what I did not know. When I would have willingly displayed my knowledge, they sought to expose my ignorance. This sort of treatment had only one result: I did not do well in examinations.” ~ Winston Churchhill

For more discussion and thinking on this hot topic ~

Would love to hear your views on testing in the comments!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In Which Literature Captures Us and We Read Great Classics…

This week has seen a flourish of literature. As we study Mark Twain in the historical sense of post Civil-War and the invention of steamboats and the Mississippi River, we couldn’t very well not read Tom Sawyer! Gabe has been reading it on his own and we listened to parts of it out loud on audio during our table work time. The southern drawl and incorrect grammar has Gabe in stitches and even peeked Lily’s interest. We read two very fantastic living books about Mark Twain and practiced writing biographies. (Good language arts lesson!)

The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry FinnRobert Burleigh

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy)Barbara Kerley

But I realize that literature has been the constant theme for our week. Delilah has been begging me to read Winnie the Pooh’s classic works to her, which I love to indulge. How can you not want to read it aloud? Any book in which every chapter is titled a very long title that always starts with “In which…”, I mean, what’s not to love?

Then there is Lily who randomly, completely out of the blue, brings me the book The Hobbit and asks, “Mom, what’s this book about?” After trying to explain she finally gets it (only because she saw The Lord of Beans veggie tale version) and now wants to read it. We have the whole series in paperback but also have one very nice larger picture version of the Hobbit. I pull this one out and start to read it aloud. Soon I have little people all around me listening and giggling. And I am thinking to myself, “Why have I never read these books? ” Yes, I watched the movie. It was okay (sorry all you die hard fans). But the book…oh wow. How the author just draws you in and hooks you conversationally. Elegant, no-twaddle, writing. A classic because it is just fantastic.

It spurred Gabe’s interest and he took the paperback version to bed (will be borrowing that soon myself) and Lily took the picture version to bed. Both have been reading it independently but I think I will also continue it as a evening family read aloud.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we have really lost the art of language in today’s books. I had such trouble in high school reading classical pieces but I believe it was because I was never exposed as a child to great language. Sure, I learned technical grammar skills and I was an avid reader. But classical language eluded me. It seemed foreign and much too hard to take the time to understand. How much I missed out on!

I remember getting a beautiful copy of Little Women (which I still have) one year for Christmas in junior high. I tried reading it several times. It was only when I allowed myself to read it aloud orally that the language flowed and I started to enjoy it.  How I would’ve enjoyed reading Winnie the Pooh or The Hobbit as a child. I am so glad that it is I, a loving parent, who gets to expose and gently introduce these classics to my children and not some stuffy teacher who has taught the same 5 classics every year for 20 years and has lost the love of why it became a classic in the first place!

What has been your experience with the classics? And how has that shaped how you homeschool?

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Charlotte Mason Grammar ~ Free Language Lessons

Looking for a Charlotte Mason Grammar book that’s gentle yet thorough? Something with substance yet delightful to look at? A book that  you can curl on the couch and read conversationally? Well, then do I have some gems for you!

Today my oldest daughter (7) came to me requesting the grammar books we used to do (from Queen’s Homeschooling). I stopped buying them because she outgrew the phonics book she was using at the time and my eldest son wanted nitty-gritty grammar. We switched to Barron’s Painless Grammar for him (which he loves and reads in his free time…one of his favorite take-to-the-bathroom books) and just allowed her to concentrate on learning how to read fluently. Now she is asking for grammar again and she wants that Victorian feel to her grammar book. She highly enjoys the Charlotte Mason picture study and oral compositions and narrations whereas that part was drudgery for my son.

But as much as I wanted to grant her wish and order a Queen’s book, I’ve made myself a pledge to use what I have and not spend money on more homeschool supplies. Isn’t there a public domain copy of a Charlotte Mason style language lessons book I thought to myself? Yes, yes there was. But only the advanced Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl. The Primary Language Lessons I would have to buy.



    Intermediate Language Lessons, Vol II – Emma Serl

Oh, but what’s this? Primary Language Lessons by another author? Could it be the same? Would it work for us? I was very excited to find this set that covers all of the Grammar stage. I showed my daughter and she was excited and wanted to print it out today. I downloaded it for free, happy with myself for finding a solution when out of the corner of my eye I caught some other titles.                        



 Sheldon’s Primary Language Lessons

Sheldon’s advanced language lessons: Grammar and composition

And I started clicking and reading and getting very excited. Do others know this is out here???? A veritable treasure trove of elegant words and noble ideas and substantial, rare English usage. I feel like I won the homeschool lottery today! My only vice now is coveting the Kindle or iPad…how nice to skip printer and ink and download these 150+page books directly to a tablet for the young student to use. I see this perfect blending of antiquated substance and modern technology! Sigh. Next year maybe!

     Language Lessons: A First Book of English – Wilbur Fisk Gordy, William Edward Mead

Practical Composition and Rhetoric – William Edward Mead, Wilbur Fisk Gordy

I was very excited to see this Practical Composition and Rhetoric. what a perfect carry-over to learn and practice great writing skills…writing skills lost to most of our public school system today. I admit, being a public schooled child, that I will most likely learn as much as my junior high – high school student with this book!



Introductory Language Lessons – Lawton Bryan Evans

Elements of English – Lawton Bryan Evans

I know that sometimes following a more Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum leaves me feeling as if I’m not doing enough…what with shorter lessons, less subjects, less drill and a more gentle approach. Yet looking through these wonderful public domain treasures  left me in awe. We have lost the art of language. In our rush to get better test scores we have left behind words and ideas and language that shaped nations. Sure, we know grammar. Sure, we can diagram a sentence (well, some of us anyway). But can we take that technical knowledge and turn it into ideas and thoughts that capture the spirit and move us forward? I see very little of that these days. And I believe that may be why it is so hard (even for us…gasp…adults) to pick up a classical work and read it. We feel like we are wading through it and I believe it is because that sort of language doesn’t come naturally for us anymore. Reading it feels like going against the grain and leaves us tired and frustrated. How I don’t want that for my children!

Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education.”  ~ Charlotte Mason

P.S. I added all of these wonderful works to my Free Resources Page! Go check it out.

Farm Fresh

The first sweet corn of the year off the farm in Nebraska. Thank you Matt at Melia Valley Gardens!

Oh how lovely…shiny silk threads beckon…come…partake!!!

My kids feasted in happiness, butter dripping down their chins. I literally had to hoard one piece away to save for the hubby when he got home from work.

The rest of our goodies for the week. Farm veggies for the week = $15. Good eatin’!