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Preview: Shadybrook Acres

Shadybrook Acres

A homeschooling family of nine moves into the blogging neighborhood, thankful for a little space to run and play and call our own...

Updated: 2018-03-05T17:49:29.240-05:00


What's In Our Read Aloud Basket


I've been getting some homeschooling questions lately and I thought it might be helpful to post pictures of what is in our read aloud basket right now. We don't read from all of these every day but we usually read from three or four of them each day. The kids each have their own personal reading from different books in addition to our read alouds. The personal reading is also from a variety of subjects such as geography, history, science and literature. Most of the kids read from two separate books a day. I have a basket next to my chair that contains the following books:Using real books instead of dry, boring textbooks is one of the reasons I love homeschooling![...]

Two New Hobbies


I figure with each child that leaves home I should come up with a new hobby. This year it's medicinal herbs. So far The Complete Book of Herbs has been the most helpful along with this medicinal herb course from Sweet Hollow Farm.

I'm not growing any vegetables this year because of last year's bug invasion. The squash bugs annihilated anything that grew on a vine and the Mexican bean beetles destroyed my bean crop. So, I'm hope that by not planting the foods they like they will all starve to death and I'll sick my chickens on the ones that insist on living.

Instead, I'm adding more herbs to the garden, specifically medicinal herbs. We've added horehound, English thyme, bee balm, catnip, purple sage, purple coneflower, quite a bit of lavender and also some stevia. We'll also be watching the fields for passionflower, muellin, red clover and honeysuckle. I have lots of little brown bottles, 1/2 gallon mason jars, various tins, bees wax, and vodka (for tinctures) all ready for the summer harvest. Already some horehound was gathered, made into a syrup and used for Annalise's cough.

The other fun project around here is artisan bread. With this great book, it's so easy and fun. So far we've tried the boule, light whole wheat, 100% whole wheat and olive oil dough. This morning I made the sundried-tomato and parmesan bread with the light whole wheat dough and I'm taking it to the church potluck. This kids are constantly oohing and aahing. And it really does just take 5 minutes.

(image) So next time you come for a visit, expect to smell some earthy herbal potions along with the fresh baked bread!



(image) Meet our new Great Pyrenees puppy, Jack. His name on the papers will be Stonewall Jackson because we are hoping he will be a stone wall around the property, keeping stray dogs away from our chickens. He's already a moose at eight weeks!

(image) The first day, Pal would not let him come near but now they sleep close together. I can not find Pal's papers but I know we got him when Luke was about four years old. Luke will be sixteen this summer so Pal has got to be about twelve years old. We figured it was time to get a new protector raised up because Pal has not been up to his job lately. He has been such an awesome dog for so many years that we wanted our new dog to meet him and hopefully Jack will realize that he has big shoes to fill.

We have only had Jack a week but he is already so attached to us. He sticks very close to the front porch and sometimes whines at the door for us to come out and be with him. The boys sleep with him every night. When I go out and sit down on the porch, he climbs up in my lap like a little lap dog. This ought to be interesting in a few more weeks when he is quite a bit bigger!

Picture Problems


Sorry about the pictures below...I don't know how to fix it. If you click on each one you will see the whole photo.

A Few Photos from Priscilla's Wedding


(image) The new Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Bell

(image) And her new family....the Marines...
(image) All of us from left to right: Annalise, Kezzi, Hope, Abel, Nathan, Priscilla, me, Ford, Candace and Luke.
(image) And the hardest moment of all...saying goodbye. They will live about nine hours away near Camp LeJeune, NC.

Priscilla's Shower


Just a few shots from Priscilla's bridal shower. We had over 50 people here!

She was blessed with many nice gifts...and some that were a little too embarrassing to post pictures of.

Candace passed out toilet paper and divided everyone into teams. The goal was to make a wedding dress. Immediately there was lots of talking and laughing. It was Priscilla's job to choose the winner. Here's the final dresses:(image) (image)
And the winner....

Pris was also thrilled to see some of her college friends, whom she will miss very much.


Coffee Shop School


When Kezzi was still in school, I used to take Hope and Kezzi to the coffee shop once a week. I would buy them a drink of their choice and we would work on writing and grammar there. I have recently resurrected the practice with Luke and Abel. It's something special I like to do with the older kids just to change the environment and hopefully find some new inspiration. This past week we had to take Annalise with us because no one else was home, but normally it will just be the boys and me.

(image) Luke prefers to use the computer for his writing and most of the time Abel still likes his good ol' composition notebook.
(image) Their favorite drinks are the frappes...caramel with lots of whipped cream.

Meditations in Psalms


Recently I have begun reading through Psalms in my personal morning time. As I read I am looking for a verse or two to carry with me through the day, giving me something good to dwell on. I'm looking for ways to fulfill Philippians 4:8, which is about dwelling on things that are true, lovely, pure, etc.

Today's verse is Psalm 13:5-6:

"But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me."

Today I will not focus on the hard things I have been through or the things I may be worried about. Instead I will think about all of the ways He has dealt bountifully with me. This may not be too difficult today because things are going relatively well at the moment. But I will store this up for the harder days, which I know are bound to come back around in the endless cycle of life on earth.

Other Studies


The time of day I enjoy most is our Morning Time studies. I have drawn the inspiration to spend this extended time together from Cindy at Morning Time Moms. It's the first thing we do every morning.The kids come upstairs with sleepy faces and grab their favorite blanket while they snuggle down in their spot. I begin with Bible reading. Right now we are reading through the life of David with occasional diversions into topical studies such as this past week's lesson on love and "walking in the manner worthy of our calling". After Bible we read a poem a day from Poetry For a Lifetime. At this point everyone jumps up to grab a quick breakfast and then they bring their food back into the living room and settle in for the next reading. Usually we read some historical fiction or something from the time period we are studying, which happens to be World War I right now. Our current read aloud is Falcons of France. Other weekly and bi-weekly additions are History readings (20th Century) and Picture Study (Winslow Homer's prints have been gracing our refrigerator lately).After Morning Time everyone dives into their own work in math, writing and various readings. I'm going to list the things that I feel have been worth while pursuits this year.Write Shop. I had my doubts about this since I've never been a fan of formal writing programs but I really felt the boys needed some direction. It's been just the thing they needed. They often embark on the assignments with gusto and have been very proud of their work. I see their confidence in writing improving. The other day Abel drew some imaginary creature and decided to write his own "field guide" entry to go along with it, all on his own free time. He said, "Mom, since I've been doing Write Shop I'm not afraid of writing! I know just how I want to do this!" I think it's helped that we've been co-oping with my sister and her boys. Even though it may try our patience to get through the week's initial lesson due to unnecessary silliness, it's worth the results. Hope has decided to join in too so I just ordered her own student notebook.Hands On Equations. I'm calling this pre-algebra. Annalise and Abel have been doing this along with other math work. Doing algebra with 'things' is awesome. I hope it will help them when they get to a regular algebra course. Key to...series. This is a great set of workbooks that save us tons of time by not having to copy the problems down. We've used the fraction, decimals and percents books and I actually think I finally have a handle on these topics. TruthQuest History. I have been a long-time fan of TruthQuest, even raising money and buying guides for our local library. This year we have been using the guide for 1865-Present. I am resisting the pressure to hurry through and instead we will most likely take two years to go through it all. This is one time period I really want the kids to have a good grasp on since it merges right into current events. I always make notes in mine of other resources I find, especially films. Introduction to philosophy through Sophie's World. Hope read this this year. It has sparked a lot of thinking and led to an interest in philosophy. She even wrote a monologue based on this book, which she performed at the AMTC competition this year. Focus on biographies. Each of the kids has read quite a few biographies this year. I tried to give them each books on their level and that has contributed greatly to our history discussions. They have read biographies on Stonewall Jackson, Lee, Lincoln, Booker T. Washington (autobiography), George Washington Carver, Geronimo, Teddy Roosevelt, Louisa May Alcott, Helen Keller and Joseph Stalin so far. Authors/series we like are Albert Marrin, the Sower series, Landmark series and Childhood of Famous Americans (for Annalise). Graphic Forens[...]

Our Latest Art Project


(image) Last week we did a project out of our Usborne's Art Treasury. This is inspired by and artist name Kadinsky. This first one is mine. I wasn't too happy with how light my backgrounds turned out. But it was fun and that's the important thing.

This one was done by 8 year old cousin John, who came over to do the project with us.

(image) This is Hope's.

(image) And this one was done by Candace. She was visiting and we talked her into joining us. We knew hers would take an unusual twist.

(image) And last but not least, here's the one done by Annalise, who is 9 years old now.

Hope's Songs


Here's what Hope's been up to: Hope's Music Myspace

My Eye of the Hurricane


It's been a mighty long time since I have written anything here, or written much of anything anywhere. Even my journals have been untouched. I don't know why. Family members and a few friends whined and complained and I still couldn't make myself blog. Then so much time went by, I wondered how I could catch up with all that has gone on. It all started when blogger was giving me trouble with my pictures. I became so disgusted I gave up. So tonight I came to give it another try. And it worked. So, I figured now was as good a time as any to jump back in.

Here's the first picture I was able to upload. It was taken just last week on the Big Island of Hawaii.
(image) My sister, her husband, Ford and I were able to take a dream trip and get away all by ourselves. I took this picture when we were driving back to the resort one evening. The sun was shining on the water and it looked like liquid gold. Absolutely a stunning place!

I call it the eye of the hurricane trip because so much has gone on and is scheduled to go on, but that made this time all the more sweet. Kezzi got married November 20th, the next week was Thanksgiving, then Hope's dress rehersal for AMTC (a talent competition organization she is working with) then the trip to Hawaii. On this side of the eye there is Christmas, a trip to Orlando January third for the talent competition which lasts eight days and then home to plan Priscilla's wedding, which at first looked like it might be February 6th but now looks like I will get a little more breathing room as it is being planned for March 6th. Whew!

Soon I'll have three daughters married. Three son-in-laws. In just over two years so much has changed. I've decided I like it and I think I've finally learned to go with the flow.

So hopefully, if I can rouse myself from this long slumber, I'll start catching up on the recent events and some current ones too.

Get This Book!!


Wow! Am I happy about this book!!! For a couple of years now we have been enjoying the use of Wilderness Awareness School's Kamana program. We did Kamana I together and Hope is finishing up Kamana II. I have been telling others about it but those courses are expensive and not many people are willing to invest that kind of money in a nature study course. Now there is this book which sells for about $25 and it is perfect for a homeschooling family. It's one of those resources that I wish I could buy for everyone. I'm going to be using it extensively in our nature study class this year.

The first half of the book is the Mentor's Manual and you will find information about thirteen methods of connecting with nature. They call them the Core Routines of Nature Connection. And the Book of Nature chapter has information about the eight sections of study which are in the Kamana II program. The second half is an activity guide with all kinds of games and activities. I can't even believe they were able to put all of this great stuff in one book!!

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, which I am also reading, writes the forward to this book. If you read Louv's book you will understand the importance of reclaiming the days when kids played outside and Coyote's Guide will be an invaluable resource to get kids interesting in the outdoors.

So check it out. Get the kids off the computer and away from the tv and video games! You may even be inspired to start your own little nature study club!
You can buy it here on amazon or here from Wilderness Awareness School, where you can see 14 pages from the book including the table of contents.

Going Through the Fire


Ok, so I'm giving up on pictures. Every time over the last month or so when I have tried to load a picture for a post, it won't work. So I will have to go picture-less for the time being and just use words. That might be hard work because my heart has been so full lately and I have not been able to form all of it into words very easily.

One major event in our lives has been the burning down of our business while we were on vacation last Friday. We were just finishing up a trip to Colorado, stopping in Springfield, MO to visit some friends when we got a call from the local sheriff telling us our building was on fire. We left and drove home immediately. The fire had started in the stovepipe of one of the woodstoves. It was 4:00 and two guys were at work, my brother-in-law and my son-in-law. They were using the stove to heat a room in order to dry some letters for a sign. By the time they realized there was a problem one whole room was on fire and it spread unbelieveably fast. Within minutes smoke was coming out of the far end of the building. They were able to save a large piece of equipment and the computers from the office. The shop was a total loss but thankfully the office was spared and only had smoke damage so all of our paperwork and records are safe. It was a metal building. We had no idea it could burn like that. We were told there were 14 fire trucks on the scene and that the firefighters were saying it was the hottest fire they had ever seen.

The good news is we had insurance and the check for the building is already on the way. Enough of the contents were covered so we should be able to replace enough to get up and running again. Even payroll is covered for a while. So hopefully it will all be taken care of. Ford has done amazingly well through it all. Almost immediately after the phone call he kept saying that God can turn it into a blessing. I was just glad that everyone was ok.

A couple of days into our vacation, I had received a call from a friend who found out her breast cancer is back, this time in her sternum. So with that weighing on my heart, loosing STUFF seemed to pale in comparison. They are going through a much greater fire than we are.

A make-shift shop has been set up in my sister's carport, which was quickly closed in by the guys. The office is in one of her bedrooms. Even Grandma and Grandpa have been working their tails off helping with painting, pressure washing and whatever needed to be done. Tonight was the first night since Saturday that we didn't all eat dinner together. It's a good thing we all like to be together! That was one thing I kept thinking on the drive home: we are all in this together. I'm just glad we still have each other to be in it with.

The funny thing is, the friend who I just mentioned, her husband runs a construction company and they build the metal buildings like ours. And they have been slow on work. So hopefully we can get him to rebuild our shop and bless them too.

Kids In Church


Shadybrook Acres readers and most who know me will not be surprised as I step onto this soap box once again. Today I received this book from Paperback Swap. I ordered it hoping it would be something I could hand to parents instead of subjecting them to another one of my usual rants. I read it today at lunch and posted a recommendation in my facebook status. (image) Then as I checked my blogline account, I saw a great blogpost by Granny on the same topic. You can read it here.

The book arrived after just yesterday when Annalise looked around church and then whispered to me, "Mom, there is only one other kid in church today besides us." Of course, she has grown up hearing us talk about this issue, but she seems genuinely amazed that other children don't enjoy the adult service. As we walked into the bathroom after the meeting, she said, "Wow! Has it been an hour already? I can't believe it's over!" I told her it had been more than an hour and that if it went fast for her it must mean she enjoyed and understood it. After all, our pastor is working his way through Genesis, which I think is one of the best books to start kids on experiencing the Bible for themselves.

Something I hope others will consider....

Enjoying the Little Girl Years Again


Annalise's main pastime is still books. Every night we still have to clean off loads of books and little stuffed animals off her bed so she can go to sleep. Having had four girls who great enjoyed books and then two boys who would rather be playing outside and now even working than reading books, it is nice to have the comfort of having one last little girl who loves books. This week I turned her on to the Your Story Hour tape series that the girls loved so much. I can't tell you how many times over the years as I have read aloud some history book or biography the girls have said, "Oh, I know about him/her/that from the Story Hour tapes!" We've had a pretty rainy week and Annalise has been glued to her tape player listening to these. She likes to come find me and tell me all about each one. Then we remembered we also had this book on audio tape. I was in the middle of reading it to her at bedtime, but she quickly grabbed up our copy along with the tapes and was happily listening and following along in the book.This is the book she is currently reading to herself. She loves this series which she calls The Bonnie Books. Priscilla has already read the four books in this series to her but now she is working through them on her own. She has a cute little framed picture of Bonnie on her nightstand that Priscilla drew for her when she first read them to her a couple of years ago. This is the series that Priscilla is currently working through with her now. She saves this for times when Priscilla comes home. She has even taken it with her when we have gone up to see Priscilla at school. Pris will find a quiet corner at the college and the two of them with cozy up together for one chapter. Last night Pris came home and Annalise was downstairs. I had Pris sneak into Annalise's bedroom and get settled in Annalise's bed with a book. Then I called Annalise up and told her that she needed to leave the boys alone and go spend some time in her own room. She moaned that there was nothing to do in there. I said, "I'm sure you'll find something." Then she opened the door and saw Pris in there! It was so cute! She knows how to cash in on the big sisters. This book is the one Hope is currently reading to her though not nearly as diligently as Priscilla read to her when she was home. Annalise usually is sure to rope one of us into bedtime reading no matter how late it is. All these do not include the books she is reading for 'school', which currently include a Childhood of Famous Americans biography, James Baldwin's 50 Famous Stories and Among the Night People. Nor do they include the books I am reading aloud to everyone for Morning Read Alouds and History. You would imagine that having so many books/stories going on at once would be confusing, but she doesn't have any trouble with that. In fact, she probably has more going than even listed here. These are just the ones I know about. Isn't life with books grand! [...]

A Wrinkle In Time


The kids just watched A Wrinkle in Time and now I'm reading the book to Luke, Abel and Annalise. When Mrs. Whatsit is flying the children over a group of creatures singing a song that the children can not understand, Charles and Mrs. Whatsit work at translating for them. In the movie Charles replies, "It's about joy." That is it. Joy.

In chapter four in the book, the song is extensively quoted. "Throughout her entire body Meg felt a pulse of joy such as she had never known before." Disney fails to mention the source of the joy. The song's words? Isaiah 42:10-12.

Quoted directly from the book:

"Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift their voice; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord!"

Interesting that Madeleine L'Engle used those words, which express giving glory to the Lord, as the source of unspeakable joy. I think I'm going to really enjoy this series.

My Last Words


If I was on my death bed and was able to speak one last thing to my children, it would be this. I pray that it resounds in their heads forever. Take an hour to listen.

Shocking Message from Paul Washer

It's really sad when the gospel is considered shocking.



One of my friends sent me a button on facebook that said this:

Sarcasm - the body's natural defense against stupid.

I thought of this button while reading Wendell Berry this week. He was writing about political packages "that are almost irresistible-expensive, of course, but rare." Package #2 is Preservation of Human Resources.

"Despite world-record advances in automation, robotification, and other 'labor saving' technologies, it is assumed that almost every human being may, at least in the Future, turn out to be useful for something, just like the members of other endangered species. Sometimes, after all, the Economy still requires a 'human component'. At such times, human resources are called 'human components' and are highly esteemed in that capacity as long as their usefulness lasts. Therefore, don't quit taking care of human resources yet. See that the schools are run as ideal orphanages or as ideal jails. Provide preschool and pre-preschool. Also postschool. Keep the children in institutions and away from home as much as possible (my note - and when they must be at home keep them loaded with "homework") - remember that their parents wanted children only because other people have them, and are much too busy to raise them. Only the government cares. Move the children around a lot while they're young, for this provides many opportunities for socialization. Show them a lot of TV, for TV is educational. Teach them about computers, for computers still require a 'human component.' Teach them the three S's: Sex can be Scientific and Safe. When the children grow up, try to keep them busy. Try to see that they become addicted only to legal substances. That's about it."

You see my friend sent me that button because she knows me. And anyone who knows me and knows Wendell Berry's writings would know to recommend them to me because we are kindred spirits.

A Quilt for Annalise


From this:


To this:

To this:

(image) And finally, this:


Copywork from Great Art


This week we tried the Sketch Tuesday assignment at Harmony Art Mom blog, which was to copy a portion of a painting by Henri Rousseau. Everyone chose to copy the blue flowers, except Hope. Hope didn't quite have time to finish hers but I am posting a copy of it here anyway. I liked this idea of copying part of a painting and we look forward to using this idea more in the future. If you haven't checked out her blog, you are missing out! There are lots of great ideas there.


Winter Weeds


Today our little co-op met at our house for some winter nature study. Our focus today was winter weeds. I read the chapter from Discover Nature in Winter before everyone arrived and briefly shared a few interesting points with the children. Next we headed out to the field to gather specimens. I was amazed at the variety! Even though we did not identify each find, it was fun gathering and drawing them.

The biggest hit was this mullein stalk!

(image) I love to see the moms participating!


And even the littlest ones getting in on the action.


(image) I never knew a vase of winter weeds could provide so much interest and pleasure.

Shrinking Again


Well, just like the years when the babies kept coming in fairly rapid sucession, now they are leaving at about the same rate.

Kezzi moved out this week so now we only have four at home! It's hard to believe. After trying and trying to get a job in our small town, Kezzi decided to move to the city where she has lots of contacts and potential to start working somewhere else besides her dad's shop. She has been in and out so much over the last few months that I am hoping it won't really feel that different. I'm trying to look on the bright side as much as possible. I figure I should give denial a chance. :)

The good news is that Michael and Candace have moved to a little rental house three miles from us. They were three hours away so we really excited about this move. They came at a time when a lot was going on. With the death of my brother and trying to make decisions about what Kezzi needed to do, we have been very involved with other things. As everything settles down we should get to spend quite a bit of time doing fun things together. Candace and I were just making plans today to enjoy even the simple pleasures, like cooking and grocery shopping, together. If she gets lonely during the day, she may even buzz over to help with some homeschooling projects.

In less than three months Priscilla will be home for the summer.

So they come and go. It's just the way the new lifestyle goes now. I'm learning to adjust more quickly than I did at first and I'm even learning to enjoy the adventure.



This is a thought provoking article. Please go read it.

The Year I Learned to Love Winter


This time of year is full of people longing for spring. This is the first February in my life that does not find me anxious for spring. In fact, I am a little sad to see winter go.

A funny thing happened to me this year, I have learned to love winter.

There is no other season when a book, a hot cup of coffee and a blanket are so inviting. It is much easier to hold my kids' attention when the warm, sunny outdoors is not calling to them. They tend to ask for one more chapter more often in the winter. This is something I have always loved about the season, but it has never been enough to outweigh spring fever.

I think the key this year has been learning to love the outdoors in winter. I have learned to love going for walks in the crisp air. I found out that with a hat, gloves and maybe layers, I can be very comfortable outdoors so I am not deprived of fresh air. The leaves are all gone and it is easier to see things that are normally hidden. There is not so much going on in nature that is vying for my attention out there on my walks but there is still plenty to notice. It is quieter outside with most people holed up indoors. The garden does not need to be weeded. The lawn does not need to be mowed. Even though many things may look dead, they are not. They are simply resting. I've learned to enjoy that restful look.

This view of our field is one of my favorite winter scenes.
Update: I meant to give credit to the Handbook of Nature Study blog for being a big part of inspiring me to notice the great outdoors this winter. Thanks Barb!