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Thursday, August 20, 2015

On Living Books

When setting out to make our lesson plans for the year, I always find myself faced with two choices.  The choice to choose the often times cheaper text book model of education or to spend more and buy tons of living books.  I always choose the books.  
Living books can be thought of in this way- books that are narrative in form.  Books that are engaging to the emotions, making the reader want to know more.  A book that, long after being put down, continues to stay with the reader, making recollection and comprehension easier.  
Doing school this way can sometimes be cumbersome.  Reading for hours to the children is tiring for all of us.  On somedays, I'll be honest, it seems like a chore.  Especially early on in the year when we've gotten out of the habit of sitting still and listening, it can feel extra hard.  However, I never regret learning alongside my children in this way.  Because even though it feels hard sometimes, for the most part, it is very enjoyable.  
This year as I was wrestling with whether I was going to buy a history curriculum or just go with books again (why do I wrestle with it yearly?  I always know what I'm going to choose in the end!) I was struck with the notion that I needed to know why I was drawn to living books in the first place.  It is a time consuming way of learning, so it needed to be more than just because I like books!  Which I do, by the way.  I really like books!  Two things hit me.  First?  Moonpie will be 12 this year.  TWELVE!  Next year will begin her self guided studies.  This is my last year to sit beside her and read her history out loud to her.  Next year she will be doing much of it on her own.  I decided right at that moment that I was going to soak in this last year with her.  I will read to my heart's content and force her to love every minute of it!  My second reason was less selfish on my part.  It was remembering the heart of literature based education.
One of my goals in homeschooling our children is to equip them to be life long learners.  Much of my job is teaching them how to learn, not just what to learn.  When I sit and think about how I learn now as an adult, it boils down to two ways- reading about it or watching a video.  If I want to know about the constitution of an herb, I read a book about it.  If I want to know how to knit, I watch a video on YouTube.  With that thinking in mind, it makes more sense for me to teach out of living books rather than textbooks.  We opt for books because I want them to have this tool of learning engraved into them after they leave my home!  I feel like it would almost be like me teaching them to ride tricycles their whole lives, and then when they leave me I hand them a unicycle and a thumbs up.  Sure, they will eventually figure it out on their own.  They may even grow to love the unicycle and become expert unicyclists!  But if I know from the beginning that they will be needing to know how to ride a unicycle, why not start that training when they are at home where they can safely fall?
Much of what I believe about education I learned from Charlotte Mason.  I love what she says here about books:

"Our business is to give him mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential.  Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure, but we know where to procure it; for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books; we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving." 

And her thoughts here:

For the children? They must grow up upon the best . . . There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told. Let Blake's 'Songs of Innocence' represent their standard in poetry DeFoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will demand literature--that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life. 

I agree with these ideas whole-heartedly.  I also believe that learning is a whole life venture.  That our children learn, whether they are at home learners, or are learning at school, by example, by time spent, by what is poured into them.  Here are Ms. Mason's thoughts on this:

Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin,and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child's inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food. 


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Shop Update!

I have been so amazed by how well my little etsy shop has done.  This month I have made more than probably the first four months all together!  It's sweet friends and family, and the wonderful folks I have met through this blog and Instagram that have cheered me on and supported me, and I am so thankful.

Bumber's Bumblings

As a way to say thanks I am teaming up with Amber (a friend that I met through Instagram!) as a part of her Valentine's Day market picks.  Go check out what she has listed and support some small businesses this year!

Using the coupon code: BEMINE you can receive 20% off any order over $10!  If you've been waiting to try something, now is the perfect time to do it!

My top sellers right now are my facial cleansing oils.  As a matter of fact, I'm adding a new blend for dry/acne prone skin this week!  Check out the shop to see what else is going on over there!

Monday, January 27, 2014

moonpie is 10

This morning Birdy was up before I thought she should be.  It was still so dark out that I couldn't imagine starting my day.  I scooped her out of her crib and sat with her in the rocker to try to soothe her back to sleep.  Her cold little cheek found the warm spot in my neck and made a home right there.  You mamas know what I mean.  It's the best.
As I rocked my youngest daughter I watched my oldest turn in her bed and I couldn't help but marvel at time.  This day marks her tenth birthday.  But wasn't it only yesterday I was sitting in the dark rocking her sweet self to sleep?  Singing to her over and over "mama loves, and daddy loves, and everybody loves little baby...".  And really, for that matter, wasn't it just a few years back that I was celebrating my tenth birthday?  How can it be that I am a mother of a ten year old?

Gosh- I love her.  I love her creativity.  I love how funny she is.  I love how considerate she is.  I love that she still wants me to lay next to her in bed every night and rub her back and whisper about our day and the pony she will one day have.

She is my girl.  My girl that is quickly approaching womanhood.  She is my treasure and I'm going to continue soaking up every beautiful day that I have with her.  

Even the hard days are beautiful.  That's what being a mama for ten years has taught me.  

Happy birthday Moonpie!  I hope your year is rich in adventure and love!

Monday, January 20, 2014

put an egg on it

Ok, I know.  Back in August I promised a multi-part series on chicken care.  And then I got bored...or something.  I'm not quite sure.  But lookee here!  I have a beautiful new blog design to show off!  So in honor of that and in the spirit of new beginnings, I am offering a giveaway for a great new cookbook that features eggs!

Put An Egg On It: 70 Delicious Dishes that Deserve a Sunny Topping, by Lara Ferroni.  Every single recipe features eggs!  Everything from pizza, to soup, to lasagna, to the more common taco, this book covers it.  On the menu this week is a posole with pork and poached eggs!

The nice people at Sasquatch Books sent me a copy, and they'd like to send a copy to one of you too! Leave a comment telling me about your favorite egg dish and your email address (just in case you're the winner!). A random winner will be chosen on Friday morning. Good luck! You really want this book, trust me!

This contest has been closed!  Thanks for playing along.  The winner has been notified.

photo credit:  john.  Right after the magic hour of sunset, and more around the dark hour of dusk.

ps:  do you like my new blog design?  The gracious Danielle Burkleo is the creative genius behind it. Check out her work!  I highly recommend working with her!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

keeping chickens- part 1

I am so ready for fall.  August in Texas is brutal.  We all become hermits and hunker down in our houses.  It's just too hot to be outside!

This week I lost a chicken to the heat.  And one to a hawk.  We are down to three hens, so naturally, we are thinking towards getting some new layers this fall.  Which then reminded me that I have been asked several times to write a little about getting chickens and I have continually failed to do so!  But today I am carpe diem-ing the subject and getting it done!

If you are thinking about getting chickens for the first time, and live in a warm climate, the fall is a great time to do so.  You can get your chicks soon and have them at a decent size before the cold sets in.  If you would rather not care for chickens over winter just yet, then by all means, spend this time researching and preparing a coop and wait until spring.

Blackberry, our first australorp

 Some questions to get you started are:

1.  What are the laws and regulations in my area?  We live in a small, rural town with very relaxed rules about keeping livestock.  We can have as many chickens as we darn well please.  Goats?  Yes!  Donkeys?  Why not?  Emus?  But of course!  Pigs?  Now you're pushing it.
To find out our regulations, I called the county extension office.  

2.  How do you want to keep your chickens?  Do you want them to free range, or would you prefer to have them contained in a chicken tractor that gets moved to fresh grass daily.  There are pros and cons to both.  We have done both methods.  Free ranging means they get the grass and bugs they need daily.  They are able to wander and find shade when they need it, and take dust baths where ever they please! I love having my hens free range!  I miss them when we keep them in their tractor.  However, if you have an open garden, they will eat it.  I mean it!  I lost all of my squash plants to my chickens in one day this summer!  They will also poop all over the free earth.  Actually, they won't poop all over.  They seem to prefer pooping right on the porch, where your baby likes to play.  So yeah.  That's a con.  You also risk them being targeted as prey.  Like I said earlier, we lost a chicken this week to a hawk.  If you are in a neighborhood you have to consider cats and dogs as well.

If you keep them in a chicken tractor, they are out of your hair. They are pooping in properly defined areas.  They will be properly protected from predators all day.  But you have to factor in the daily move.  And you miss out on the ambiance of it all.
Poop vs. Ambiance.  

3.  Which breeds would you prefer?  Might I make one tiny plea here?  Please consider heritage breeds.  They are delightful, and in some cases endangered.  They are beautiful and unique.  They may not lay 14 times a day (ok, that's an exaggeration- no chicken lays 14 eggs a day...yet), but they have virtue and beauty, and there is something pretty special about raising an animal that your great, great grandmother could have raised!  If you are a backyard chicken keeper, or plan on interacting with your chickens daily regardless of yard size, the breeds I recommend are australorps, barred rocks, and auracanas.  They are all friendly and docile.  They are curious and hilarious!  They also lay very regularly.  Now, these are my preferences, anyone you ask will have their own.

4. How will you procure your chicks?  I have both ordered chicks through the mail and purchased some at my local feed store.  Either way is fine.  One more request (man- I'm pushy!) I would make is that if you are planning on ordering chicks through the mail, please order from a nearby hatchery.  I prefer Ideal Hatchery here in central Texas.  You likely will have one closer to you.  McMurray is a reputable hatchery as well.  Or maybe you don't want to start with chicks, but rather laying hens, how will you find them?

If you've made it this far and you're still thinking you would like to move ahead with your search, then now is the time to research!  My personal favorite part of anything!  The resources I recommend are:


Also Backyard Chickens is a great website with forums on all sorts of subjects!  

I'm going to stop here.  This is enough to get you thinking about for the weekend.  I will earnestly try to actually finish this series next week!  Next up will be chick care.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

summer of the goat

As I'm sitting here typing, my back door is open and I can hear my son directing his friend that lives two doors over where to launch an egg into our backyard.  Ahh, summer.  Summer (and Instagram) have swallowed this blog whole.  But today felt like a good day to yarn a story.

 I think I've mentioned here a time or two over the years that I have wanted goats. This summer we decided that the time was right, and we added two goats to the backyard mini-farm!  They are elf eared, mini La Manchas. One is in milk right now and one is pregnant.  They are sisters that have never been separated, and they are sweet, sweet!

La Manchas are a dairy breed that have pretty high butter fat content as far as goat milk goes.  And even though they are minis, we are getting about three quarts a day from our little milker!

I think we have finally blossomed under the responsibility of being goat owners.  Milking is a lot of commitment!  And I knew this going in.  I really did!  But I am slow to warm up to change, and I spent the first two weeks of them being here feeling a little resentful.  Because all of the sudden, we couldn't hit the road at a moments notice and run to Austin for the night.  We can't even go to dinner out of town!  Being the kind of person I am, the "don'ttellmewhattodo" kind of person that I am, I struggled with this.  I felt like the goats were being really bossy, forcing me to be home at 7 to milk!  All the while, knowing that I was being ridiculous!  

We are over that hump now (or I am over it, no one else in the family really struggled with that!).  Now I am just enjoying them!  I love milking and having all the milk on hand I could ever need for cheese experiments, yogurt, etc.  (speaking of which, next on the list is goat cheese cake-yum!!!). 

Goats are a lot more work than we have experienced animal wise.  They like interaction.  They like to eat...a lot.  They get weird illnesses.
They offer us sustenance and companionship.
We're all a little crazy about them!

Monday, June 24, 2013

etsy shop open!

Well, I up and did it, y'all.  I opened an Etsy shop!

I would love for you to head on over and check it out.

There are lots of fun things like salves for bug bites, dry patches, and eczema.  An ear ache oil (pictured with Birdy up there- she loves her ear oil!) and fancy face oils.  If you've been wanting to try out the oil cleansing method for your face, but you don't want to mix your own, I have three that I have been working on for weeks now.  I am very proud of the quality of the oils and the blends I have come up with.  My hope is that they are a blessing to others.

I promise my blog won't be a commercial everyday about the shop!  But it is what I am up to these days and I'm happy to be able to share it with you here!