Winter. Sickness. Snow. Cabin fever. This has not been an easy season. Last week, we a little bit extra going on around here as well.

I was supposed to go out with some friends yesterday evening, but then life happened. Mom was sick. The baby was fussy. The kids were wild. Shane had to spend Saturday afternoon at the post office catching up on work. 

I started feeling sorry for myself. Tethered.  Wanting to escape. I had a long whine to my husband about it. 

Then we went dancing.

We bundled all the whiny, moody, muddled children in the car and crashed a VHE event where Civil War re-enactors were teaching Contra dancing. And it was fun. Really fun. (I have always found crashing events I don’t belong at to bring on unique adventures…highly recommend it )The kids left all tired out (except Millie, she found the people and the dancing quite electrifying and was still “not sleepy” late into the night…but that’s another story.).

Raising children is not easy. It’s exhausting. Sometimes I want to run away and hide. “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,” (Heb. 10:39). Sometimes the only way to move forward is to do a little sidestep.  We can’t give up…but we can dance.


On my toes…

She’s eating an onion bulb. I decide not to intervene. She sticks the onion bulb in my mouth in an attempt to share.

Yesterday I took the kids on a co-op field trip to the Creamery in Mt Crawford. I would highly recommend it, though 1 year old Annie gave me a run for my money. “Cow says MOOO!!!” she emphatically declared every time she saw a cow. Oh- but here’s the thing. There are LOTs of cows at the Creamery. LOTS. The lady giving the tour had to contend with a constant litany of “COW goes MOOOO!!!” There were a few cats, so we got a few “CATS!!! Meow! Meow”- just for variety.

Allow me to pause for a moment…I see the onion, but no Annie. . . . .  . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In the kitchen cabinets, causing the rice to rain down upon her. Much easier to clean up then cream of wheat, trust me. Also has taken one bite each out of two large onions. Maybe a stinky food deficiency? Judging by the contents of her diaper, I think not. Night Night Annie! Time for a nap.

Anyway, back to the Creamery. What a great tour! We even got to watch them milk. The end of the tour was a sit down learning time in the store. Surely I could control one small child for 20 minutes while a kind women  teaches a colorful and interesting lesson to a group of 1st-3rd graders. Ya think?

COW says MOO!!!! COW says MOO!!!! COW says MOO!!!! There are a LOT of cow images in the creamery store. A LOT. Trust me. So many things for a squirmy,active toddler to try to escape and touch. Or taste. Or comment on. COW says MOO!!!!

Towards the end of the presentation, I gave up and told the kids to head to the car. I would buy a copious amount of dairy products to make up for the level of disruption we tried not to cause. (If only they sold dairy products at church…never mind) I made a hasty retreat to the cash registers, passing several other eager customers on my way. Purchases rung up, but where O where has my credit card gone? O where, O where can it be? The other parents from the tour are waiting patiently in line behind me as I rifle through my purse and coat pockets. Receipts..check. Gate hinges…check. Stale animal crackers…check.  Hoof trimmers…check. No credit card. I did come up with a few singles, and a peso,  and was able to at lease purchase one item. I was only a few cents short…

(The credit card was in the pocket of my OTHER coat…I found it when I got home)

This is the life…

Two Homeschool Unit Studies and resources: Oceans and Video Games

I’m putting this up so that I can find it again, and in case some of my legwork finding theme activities is beneficial to someone else.

Each day of our theme week begins with a morning meeting that includes devotions, catechism, Latin review, and calender time.

Oceans Unit

Target age: PreK-3rd Grade

An exploration of the seven seas using hands on experiments, projects, and multimedia, and literature.

Day 1: Field Trip

Would have loved for this to be a trip to an aquarium, but time and budget dictated it be a trip to the Pet store and library instead. We loaded up on all the Juvenile Nonfiction related to the Ocean, as well as some children’s literature. We looked at the different kinds of fish at the Pet Store and picked up a Beta Fish. If we would have found the book “A Home for Hermit Crab”, we’d have gotten a hermit crab instead. Kids looked at and discussed the books we found on the ocean

Day 2: Oceans of the World

Movie: Window to the sea (Netflix)


The Little fish Who Cried Wolf

How will we get to the beach?

The sea and I

Science Experiments:

1) Sink or Swim: experiment with household objects. See which sink or float in water

2) Sink or Swim: add 1 cup salt to water. Did the results change? Why? Dicuss

3) Introduce Ocean Light Zones


World Map Puzzle. Name Oceans


O for Ocean coloring page


1) look at print of Hokusai “Great Wave” Briefly discuss tsunamis. Paint bubble wrap with blue finger paint. Use rolling pin to make a print of the painted bubble wrap on poster board. Save for rest of week

2) watercolor landscapes of ocean.


sorting sea glass (smooth glass stones from the craft store) group in 3’s, group in 6’s. Fill out a 3 and 6 multiplication fact grid


Listen to excerpt of Le Mer by Debussy

songs and fingerplays: “A sailor went to sea” and “A big ship sails”

Day 3 Coral Reefs


Mister Seahorse by Eric Carl


Animals that live in the Sea


The Living Sea


Observe external anatomy of Beta Fish. Fish anatomy worksheet

creatures of the Euphotic Zone


Add coral reef to poster board ocean with sponges and stickers

Fish Ex-ray cave paintings( brown paper and chalk)

Sand Art


Clown fish puzzle


Le Mer

1,2,3,4,5 Once I caught a fish alive


Sea glass: group by 2’s and 5’s

Day 4 Dolphins Sharks and Whales


A sea of Sharks from A-Z

The Curious little Dolphin



Animal Planet: appropriate episodes

Some fish are mammals. Talk about mammals, traits.

Sharks are different than many other kinds of fish, cartiledge/not bone

fish classification worksheet

Math: group sea glass by 4’s and 8’s


Listen/Dance to some more of Le Mer


Mattise: using construction paper cutouts to make dolphins, shark, and whale to add to ocean scene

Day 5:  Strange creatures of the deep

Movie: Ted Talks: Oceans, particularly segments on bioluminescence

Finding Nemo

Ripleys Big,Weird and Dangerous Fish

Science: sort fish by their light zone (pics from enchanted learned web site) after sorting may color and glue pics were appropriate in their ocean

Use some pics to illustrate  a food chain


Play dough ocean floors

Invent a strange sea creature


Le mer


Sea glass: group in 7’s


review interesting facts learned this week


Video Game Design Unit (or Intro to programming and design)

age: junior high

goal use some interesting online resources to introduce logic, computer programming, programming language, graphic design and engineering

resources Computer Aided Design- has a free trial, but only available until the end of April – get a big picture view of the concepts and logic behind game design is a free programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations. designed with kids in mind a free 3D programming environment for high school-college- prevents syntax errors , teaches the basics of programming logic/language – Lego draw, an introduction to Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) for kids. Build your lego creations on the computer and try them out before you build. – Another free source CAD program. Build anything you can imagine using computer drafting skills.



The Slackers guide to a Successful Life Part 2:

OR Twenty seven requests for a Cookie does not an emergency make.
Once upon a time, I got a bunch of leadership training that I figured wouldn’t really apply to the slacker mommy life. Guess what? I was wrong. One of the most helpful, non-spiritual pieces of advice I’d ever recieved can be found in this commonly used chart from the book: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Basically, there are 4 quadrants

1) Important and Urgent                                   2) Important /Not Urgent
feeding everyone                                                     Relationship building

keeping the house warm                               planning/dreaming/organizing/creating

sitting at Jesus’ feet and encouraging my kids to do so

3) Urgent/Not important                                 4) Not Urgent/Not important

others minor crises                                                                   facebook

phone calls                                                                    TV, mindless activities

I’d modify it a bit to meet my needs, but it is no coincidence that the father of the family the book “Cheaper by the Dozen” was based on was, in fact, a real life Efficiency Expert. Sometimes the reason stuff doesn’t get done is because we spend all of our time oiling the squeakiest  wheels. Sometimes we waste time, but very often we find ourselves driven by  the urgent rather then our true priorities. Sometimes the dishes can wait while we color with our child. Sometimes an hour dreaming is a better use of time  then playing Candy Crush.

Basically, we want to spend the first fruits of our time in the Important boxes.  If nothing else gets done in a day, I want to accomplish my important and urgent things (everyone’s physical needs/spiritual needs are met), move on the the important not urgent things (other needs are met ) I may throw in some not so important things along the way, and that’s fine- but the important stuff gets priority

One lesson it has taken me a long time to learn as a parent is that entertainment is not a need. Boredom  can seem like a minor crisis to a child, but they are far better off learning to :read a book, collect rocks, color, ride a cardboard box down the stairs, chase chickens, catch slimy critters, and otherwise amuse themselves. I am not doing my children any favors by trying to keep them happy.  In fact, the greatest precursor to happiness in adults is a high level of contentment.  I am not saying that as a homeschooler that I should not be intentional about helping my children get their social needs met. I am not saying that parents shouldn’t take time to do stuff with children, relationship building is VERY important. I am saying that  “I’m bored” isn’t a problem that I, as a parent, need to concern myself with.  My children know where to find the art supplies.

Relationship building could involve working together on common goals. Dreaming together. Talking. Creating. Exercising. Gardening. Chasing goats. Cleaning the kitchen. Folding wash. Serving someone. Anything we do together with open hearts is relationship building.

What about house cleaning? For me, aspects of it can fall in all four categories.  To a degree it goes with meeting kids physical needs-Important and urgent. Having a model showroom house-not all that important. Having clean dishes and clothes- Important.  Making my home as comfortable and useful as I am able–important/not urgent. Making my home impressive to outsiders- not so important to me in this season of life.

Lastly, we can never underestimate the true importance of dreaming.  We live in a society driven to distraction, but we were made for more. Dreaming trains our minds, and focuses our creativity towards it’s true purpose. It pulls us from despair as it seeks new ways through our problems. It empowers us. What is dreaming? It is making goals and coming up with ways to work towards them. it is looking for new solutions to old problems. Sometimes its figuring out how to make lemonade. Dreaming is part of our dominion work, it is the seeing of the garden beneath the thorns and thistles. It is making the vision plain so that we can work toward it.

Stay tuned for part 3 where we’ll learn how to worry , and why the 80/20 rule doesn’t apply to canning or anything involving chemicals

The Slackers Guide to a Succesful Life Part 1


I am a slacker. I am by nature a lazy person. I also get stuff done. I didn’t used to. Just in case there is anyone else who suffers from the same affliction of “just don’t wanna do JACK” that I do, I’d like to share I couple things that it has taken 30 + years to figure out.

1) Set Small goals and work in short increments

A 15 minute Bible study time is better then none at all. It is easier to write 1000 words a day then to set some empheral goal of finnishing a book in a year. Getting the dishes washed by 3pm is better then setting out to clean the kitchen at 9AM and giving up halfway through. I used to want to do great things. Now I do lots of little things that eventually add up.

2) Forget perfection.

I don’t like to clean, but I do it because I love my family. I used to be really stressed out because I felt like there was some really high bar for how the houses of “good mommies” looked and I never met it. I didn’t even know how. I’d get frusterated at the little messes that are just a part of life with kids, especailly on a farm. I realized that I wasn’t working to please my family or God, just trying to measure up to my idea of what other people did. Now I have my routine and do it. If the house looks good or bad at any given moment- that’s just life

3) Get a routine and stick to it.

Don’t let yourself be ruled by stress or drama or fear of others. Come up with a common sense routine and stick to it- no matter what is going on with the rest of the world.

Mine is something like this:

Devotions at 9

Kids school in morning.

Clean kitchen at 3 and after supper

put on 1-2 loads of wash a day.

Excersize with Em 4 days a week

Write 1000 words a day.

Some weeks I never get to mopping the floor. Some weeks a lot of extra stuff gets done. I know though, no matter what, the the dishes and laundry will be caught up, the kids will be physically and spiritually fed, and I will be workingon something that makes me happy. It’s enough.

Stay tuned on more tips how you too can be a successgul slacker…

Today in the Life

Had a slow morning. Right now I am listening to Emily read a Zoology lesson to the girls. We’ve done Bible time, and I’ve helped Emmy with her Shorter Catechism questions for confirmation class. Gracie may still be working on writing out a Bible verse from Isaiah that went with the “true God/true man” question from the Heidelberg. I’ll have to make sure she gets her math done.
I haven’t done spelling with the girls yet. Or had my own devotion time. I haven’t taken my vitamins or written my 1000 words for the day. A stack of dishes is calling me from the kitchen. I’m a little worried about the low temperatures (-20 with wind chill) called for tomorrow night and am trying to figure out how to help our chickens and goats stay warm. I’ve got a lot on the list and need to get moving.
For a moment though, I’ll savor my coffee and the warmth of the stove. I’ll listen to EM read. I’ll hold a child. The kids have eaten, the house is warm. What is important is being accomplished.


How I Met Your Father- A love Story

Today Shane and I celebrate 9 years of marriage.  We were married January 1, 2005

January, 15 years ago, we didn’t know each other. Shane had a house, the mailing business, and assorted room mates. He was able to use his home as a ministry to men who needed a place to stay. Sometimes he lived alone.  January, 15 years ago, I was getting ready to throw up my hands and declare my family situation hopeless. It was pretty messed up. I was working at Good Shepherd with some of Shane’s family members, but I didn’t really know it at them time. I’d never heard of Shane. He’d never heard of me.

13 years ago ,January, I moved to Texas. I never planned on coming back. Shane had stocked up on Y2K supplies the year before. He was still doing the mail business, he had some goats, and he had pretty much come to terms with the fact that he was a lifelong bachelor.

11 years ago, January. I came home. In November of that year, I was with a group of young adults ministering in New Orleans. I met several pagans and Wiccans, psychics, a worshiper of Dianna of Ephesus, and a boy who called himself Puck. Puck was a teenage runaway. His father had been a youth pastor. He dared me to convince him that Christianity was the only way. An epiphany dawned. I knew Jesus, and I knew the work of the Holy Spirit. So did Puck. I did not have to argue this boy into the faith. He belonged to Christ and no kicking against the goads was going to change that. It was just a matter of time. I looked at him and assured him that he was going to be ok. God had not let him go.  And suddenly,  I had to go home, because if God was big enough to straighten Puck out, he was probably big enough to straighten out my family.

I did go home. I left an environment where fiery young men and women were being trained for Christian ministry and went home. I still wanted to get married. There were (seemingly) far more fish in the Gulf of Mexico, where I was, then where I would be going. But I had to go home.

10 years ago, January.  I’d heard there were a couple of single Shank guys left, and that one of them was really into books. I was really into books. I’d come home, but family stuff was still crazy and it wasn’t in my power to change it. Shane’s parents started working part time at the school were I worked. I liked them. I enjoyed getting to know them.  I volunteered to work with his Mom. She asked if I’d marry her son. I said I’d be willing to meet him. I’d gotten an invite to come over for New Year’s Eve, but for some inexplicable reason, went to a prayer conference instead. (Which was ok- the conference was awesome) While I was there I had a dream about a tall thin man in a cowboy hat and blue Suburban. I’d not met Shane yet

I showed up at Shane’s parents church for sunrise service on Easter. Shane was reading and had a hard time getting through the passage in Isaiah without crying. I was intrigued. Over the spring, Shane and I had some really awkward “random” meetings at his parent’s house. Eventually, it got a little less awkward. (Not like the first time when I walked into the room where Shane was and everyone got up and left). We would meet and play card games most Sunday afternoons. We talked about books. We liked a lot of the same authors. We talked about Church History and theology. He seemed like a very polite man who put up with me well but just really wasn’t that interested. That summer, I went to South Africa on a misisons trip. I tried explaining to friends that I was in some weird “arranged courtship”. I decided Shane was just being polite. I would go back one last time to see if he showed any interest. My only excuse is that the Shanks are pretty cool people. Even if Shane hadn’t been there, I would have probably dropped in some Sunday afternoons to play games.

In July, just returning from a cold South African winter, I crashed his brothers wedding. Shane seemed glad to see me, so I kept showing up on Sunday afternoons. I kept moving my chair closer to Shane’s–just to see if this were going anywhere. He didn’t seem to mind. In the fall, he made some vague comments about a Reformation Day service. I showed up. He’d saved me a seat. A couple of weeks later, his grandmother died.  Shane invited me to the funeral. He called several of his relatives, to let them know he was bringing a girl for them to met to the funeral. Many of the people I met that day assumed a was Shane’s “something”.

Four days later, in the middle of November, Shane asked me to marry him. We were married 2 and a half months later, January 1 2005. Despite the short notice, we had over 200 people at our wedding.

Since being married, we’ve had 4 children, adopted one (after being told we probably wouldn’t have any). We’ve had most of my family living with us at one time or another. Seen a lot of the crazy situations straighten out. Done foster care.  We’ve kept eachother warm every night for nine years, save the week Shane went to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.  We’ve enjoyed some good books, played numerous rounds of Canasta. Renovated a house.  Had a phone bank in our laundry room.  Worked on mail jobs in the middle of the night.  I left work to be with the kids, Shane got a job at the Post office. Seen Shane sustained as a Presbyter, and seen him called to lay that down.  Wrestled goats, gotten to know neighbors, survived surgeries and illnesses.   I can’t wait to see what the next nine years bring.






Prayer Dare

I’ve started and stopped this post numerous times. I wanted to write something about the things I’ve learned this past year. My goals for the next one. I have goals. I do. They’re just not all that important.

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness”. I want to do 5K thing. Finish the first draft of my novel. Eat healthy, lose weight. Blog. Be a better Mommy. All groovy, but in comparison- not all that important.

Prayer is important. Prayer changes things. Prayer changes me. The most incredible adventures I’ve ever been on started with prayer. Miracles I’ve seen- prayer. I remember a sweet time of prayer right before an evangelistic event. The hundreds that responded to the alter call were only a shockwave, an aftermath. God had already met with us in prayer.

I remember meeting with a couple of friends in the wee hours of the morning at EMU. We prayed for revival. We found it, but not quite the way we envisioned. We were revived, in fact, seeds were planted in those days that would leave our hearts burning in years to come. I remember the Sunday nights that tarried into Monday mornings. I’ve grown older and wiser since then, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as fervent. I miss that.

I want to pray more this year. I want to really change. Inside change. Not just rearrange the furniture.

You want revival? You want God’s kingdom to come in your heart, your family, your communities or your nation?

Pray with me. I dare you.

Underhill Academy Spring Semester

We started the morning with frothy hot cocoa to celebrate the beginning of our spring semester of school!  Everyday we do Bible, Math, Spelling/Phonics, PE, and Literature/Grammar. Latin is weekly. Zoology and History are on alternate days.

Bible: Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos; Heidelberg Catechism
Math: continuing Saxon 8/7 for Em and Horizons for Gracie and Maggie
Spelling: all working through the Websters Speller
PE: One hour outside as weather permits, riding bikes at the chimneys, preparing soil for gardens, hunting wildflowers, or inside playing the wii if the weather is bad.
History: Em in Landmark History: Appomattox to Moon Landing. Little people doing Geography/Cultures unit study.
Science: Em reading an Elementary Zoology book (Apologia)to little people and helping plan projects and experiments
Phonics: Maggie reading the Speller to me daily and has Dolce sight word flashcards. Gracie reading 1 chapter in Bible to me daily. Millie and Annie watch a few minutes of you tube phonics videos and Millie has papers to do
Literature/Grammar: Gracie doing selected reading in book “What every 3rd grader should know” Em selecting own books to read from an approved list
Latin: one lesson a week from Latin Primer, translating Genesis from Latin to English

Family Project: I am busy printing out fact sheets about various flowering plants and vegetables. Kids are going to research what plants would grow best in various locations and each plan a garden plot (with my help). We will order seeds, start plants in the greenhouse, and work together to turn their gardens into a reality.

Coop: Kids will be in a musical and continuing with PE. Maggie will learn about sign language and community helpers. Gracie and Em will get some more Geography or Cultures

Margarita Religion

I’m sipping water and B vitamins this morning, trying to flush the slightly toxic feeling from my system. I don’t normally drink much at all, it upsets my tummy. This Christmas found myself handing out margarita’s with liberality and joy.

Though we try to dress it up with tinsel and lights, Christmas is a celebration of brokeness. Broken world. God who puts on broken flesh. “This is my body … broken”

So, what does that have to do with this slightly nauseated feeling? Everything.

I saw those pictures we all posted to facebook. The warm glowy perfection of the holiday season. Only, is it really like that? Or is Christmas the time when all the fault lines and hurt rise to the surface. The only time the whole family gets together to judge and fear judgement. Maybe I’m the only descendant of the first parents out there, but I doubt it.

I am a sinner, the child of sinners, the sibling of sinners, but I never learned to be a friend of sinners. I never learned of the one whose yoke was easy and burden is light. Perhaps I’d never forgiven and been forgiven.

We can’t change the past, but there is Someone who can redeem it. I can’t fix people of make them follow my plan for their lives, but there is One who promised the His sheep would hear His voice and follow Him.

So I’m with the guy from the wedding in Cana. The One who turned water to wine. The One who put on our flesh and ate with prostitutes and drank with the IRS. I’m the one in the corner mixing the drinks and saying Come! Come drink with me, come eat with me, come know me in all my foolish brokeness. We don’t have to talk religion. Or politics. Welcome to my life, there’s another guest at the feast, and He throws a much better party then I can.