Thursday, September 21, 2017

Snap Joy :: 4

I went down to the river to pray, and think, and write. I sat beside the sugar maple we planted a few years ago, which is now beginning to be big enough for shade and friendship. A delicious breeze was blowing, bringing all the smells of a fully ripened summer with it. I've always wanted to live beside a river. And now here I am.

This week's snap:

#3: Cattail snoozing in the sun


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Snap Joy :: 3

This week's picture:

#3: A Study in Red
(Taken in Great-Great Aunt Verna's kitchen)


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Snap Joy :: 2

Snap Joy is simply capturing an everyday moment of delight.

We spent an afternoon at the beach this week with Poppa and Grandma Jill. It was one of those sparkly blue afternoons, not too hot, and perfect for the warm shallow water of low tide on the south shore. The whole family was in the water together. I love how everything is so "big" and wonderful to the littlest among us.

Here is this weeks' snap:

#2: "You Are My Sunshine"


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Snap Joy :: 1

Have you ever felt it?

The depressive dullness of one day after another? Nothing is going drastically wrong, but nothing seems to be wonderfully right either?

It's a dreariness that seems to drain the life out of you, dribble by dribble.

And it pulls you down and drags you inward, till you are convinced the sun just isn't shining anymore. Not in your world.

Oh, but it is.

And those may be real feelings, those gloomy meanderings of the mind, but they're not the whole truth.

Look up.

If you look for joy, it's there.

I've felt the discouragement, and I'm tired of it. Here's how I'm fighting back. By snapping joy.

That's all. One picture a week of something that brings me joy. I don't even have to create a moment. Just notice one. By faith, believe it is there to be captured.

How do I know it's there? Because of a promise. Two of them actually.

"In Thy presence is fullness of joy." 
(Psalm 16:11)

"Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." 
(Matthew 28:20)

As long as Jesus is with us, joy can be found.

Oh snap.

Let this thought be burned in my mind's eye. Let this thought eclipse the others and forever change the way I look at my world and the people in it.

And, as the poet Hopkins reminds us, "Christ plays in ten thousand places," so joy can be found in the most surprising of ways or ordinary of days.

Snap joy. Simple.

Here is this week's snap:

#1: "Lovely in Limbs Not His"


Here is the full poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells 
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's 
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; 
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; 
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, 
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came. 

I say móre: the just man justices; 
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces; 
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is — 
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places, 
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his 
To the Father through the features of men's faces. 


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Grade 1 Booklist Recap

Look at the smile on this one! 

I stacked up some of the books we read this past year for grade 1, and Arden came over and immediately put her arms around the pile. 

It's not an exhaustive stack, and we didn't read every book in its entirety, but it gives a good idea of what we covered this year. Looking back, we had our ups and downs, but overall the year was a success. We read and loved many books together!

Here are some highlights of the list...

A Child's Garden of Verses
When We Were Very Young
Now We Are Six
A Child's Book of Poems

Aesop's Fables
Just So Stories
The Blue Fairy Book
East O' the Sun, West O' the Moon

Charlotte's Web
The Velveteen Rabbit
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Farmer Boy

Fifty Famous Stories Retold
Canadian Wonder Tales
Leif the Lucky


Natural History/Nature Study:
James Herriot Treasury for Children
The Burgess Bird Book
Out of School and Into Nature
The Handbook of Nature Study
A Rock is Lively
Salmon Creek

Audio Books:
A Little Princess
Pippi Longstocking
Peter Pan
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Anne of Green Gables

And now we're looking forward to making a new stack for grade 2! 


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Home Education as the Hearth

With any practical endeavour, it helps me to have some kind of image which gives meaning to the work at hand. And the no-small-task of home education is no exception. It’s such a big job, with so many facets. I can easily become overwhelmed by details. I can easily become discouraged by comparison. I can easily lose sight of the vision that was ignited in my heart, for my family. 

The image of a hearth is not new for me, as the title of my blog suggests. But I have only recently begun to apply it to the area of home education. I’m currently in a season of evaluating what we’ve done so far, and looking ahead to how we will move forward. But before I can get into the practical elements of planning, I’m taking some time to sketch out the big picture again. 

And I’m picturing home education like a hearth. These are some thoughts that are helping me envision the kind of learning life I want to kindle in our home. 

~ Gathering ~

The hearth is a place of gathering. 
The flame draws us to itself, and to each other. 
It’s a place of coming close and reconnecting.
The hearth is a communal place, and room must be made for all of us. 
This is the beautiful power of fire. We are brought together by something bigger than any one of us. We draw up to a flame that has burned for century upon century. We are in good company. 

The hearth says, you are not alone. 

~ Warmth ~

The hearth is a place of warmth. 
It takes the chill out of the air. It thaws icy attitudes. It melts stubborn ways. It softens hard edges.
In the warmth we can relax, and be ourselves. 
The hearth is a comfortable place, and a comforting place. 
Here we receive rest for our weariness, and balm for the chapped places of life. 
Here we curl up and know that it is well with our souls. 

The hearth says, you are at home.

~ Cheer ~

The hearth is a cheery place. 
Fire dances and flickers and crackles and sings. 
The hearth is a place for kindling joy and sparking delight. 
It’s a merry place. (Hobbits and badgers most welcome.) 
It's a place for laughter and cocoa and tales of adventure. 
Fire revives us, reminds us to lift up our heads and lighten our hearts. 

The hearth says, you can kick up your heels. 

~ Sustenance ~

The hearth is a place of sustenance.
It is over the fire that the tea kettle whistles and the stone soup simmers. 
It is over the fire that the raw ingredients of the day are brought together into something that is nourishing for all. 
It is deep under the coals that soul food is baked, steady and stick-to-your-ribs. 
It’s a place to partake, to share the bread and wine. 

The hearth says, you have everything you need. 

~ Light ~

The hearth is a place of light.
By the glow of fire, we see things as they are meant to be seen. 
We see truth. We see living ideas. 
Something in us becomes illuminated. Inspiration flashes and ignites creativity, passion, wonder. 
At the hearth our torches are lit, torches which we will carry out to the corners of our world and light our varied paths. 

The hearth says, you were made for discovery.

~ Invitation ~

The hearth is a place of invitation. 
First, we gather as family. 
And the circle expands to friends, neighbours, and others we know and love.
The fire is always bright enough for more. The circle extends to those for whom our windows glow as beacons in the night. 
It is not ours to hide under a bushel, but to blaze as a signal on a hill, summoning hope and signalling home. 

The hearth says, you are always welcome. 

This is the image I want to keep burning in my mind's eye as we forge ahead into our next chapter of home education. 

* image: By the Hearth, 1894, by Philip Eustace Stretton


Friday, June 23, 2017

The Benefits of Our Outdoor Life Challenge

This is the first year that Jack's apple tree has had blossoms! Very exciting!

It's been quite a few weeks that we've been out of our usual routine. Between getting ready for a 19 day family road trip, the trip itself, getting back to life as normal, friends coming to stay for a few days, and just the usual chaos of homeschooling with three little kids, life has been anything but routine! 

Have I forgotten the Outdoor Life Challenge? No, but it has morphed into a different form. I haven't been keeping logs and tallies, but we have been prioritizing time outside. And June is a glorious month to be outside! As the weather gets warmer and lovelier, we are in and out of the house in a way that doesn't make sense to track. Without our usual schedule, we haven't been doing much for formal nature study. 

But the Great Outdoors has become an extension of our everyday living now. The grass is warm and thick beneath our toes. The swings, the hammock, the front porch swing, all beckon us out. Flowers are popping out everywhere. There are a dozen shades of green to revel in. 

The garden path

In some ways, the Challenge wasn't everything I had hoped it to be. We didn't do as much nature journalling as I would have liked. I started a sort of "Calendar of Firsts" for myself, but then we were away for so long. I didn't get to try out all of the Charlotte Mason methods I had wanted to. 

But we made progress! And we'll keep going. And even with things going the way they did, I can still the results of the intention and effort we put into spending more time outdoors. 

Here's what I've seen:

1. Heightened Observation

This spider lives just outside our dining room window

My kids are more apt to take notice of what is around them. They are more tuned in to nature's details. They are becoming more observant. 

This really stood out to me on our trip to Ontario. One day we went for a walk in the suburbs of Ajax, looking for a park. Though our walk was on the concrete sidewalks, we stopped many times because the kids were busy observing things along the way. They wanted to smell a lilac bush. They wanted to figure out which nearby plant the seeds on the sidewalk had come from. They kept picking up tiny bits of nature to inspect more closely. They even remembered our way home based on the flowers they saw growing in people's front gardens. 

Observation is the key to nature study. It all starts with pausing to pay attention. To really look at something. And I can see this quality increasing in the kids as we've made nature study part of our lives. 

2. Delight in the Small Things

A dandelion seed

A monarch butterfly. A tiny white flower we've never seen before. Quartz hiding in a rock. First blossoms on our pear trees. The quivering gills of a sunfish up close and personal in our hands. 

These seemingly insignificant details have brought real joy into our lives. I love the excitement in my kids' eyes when they run to me with some new discovery. The natural outcome of heightened observation is heightened delight.

When we learn to look we learn to love. 

Knowledge is only part of the picture. Wonder, respect, delight - these are what colour in the bare sketch of "facts" and bring our relationship with the outdoor world to life. 

3. A New Normal

In her own front porch swing

I love it when one of the kids says, "We should put this in our nature journal," or, "Let's get out the bird book," or, "Let's look at this under the microscope." (My 7 year old asked for a pocket microscope for her birthday!) I love that they are becoming familiar with some of these tools for exploring nature. 

I love it when going outside is so much a part of our daily rhythm that they stop fighting it.

I love that the flowers and feathered creatures of our yard are becoming familiar friends. 

I love that my daughter, who is working on a puzzle at the table right now, just remarked, "Oh, there's a seagull out there," when she heard a bird call off in the distance. 

Are we doing this perfectly? No. Could we be doing more? Yes. Do we have a lot to learn? Oh yes

But I can see it happening before my eyes, and it's exciting. 

Our relationship with the outdoor world is becoming stronger and deeper. Nature is getting under our skin and becoming part of who we are. 

It's a process for sure. The best we can do is start where we are and keep going! I hope no one feels discouraged if you haven't got your family into the Great Outdoors as much as you would like. Just keep at it, and I know you'll see the fruit! 

This Challenge has no grades, no prizes, and no losers. Every small win counts. Every minute adds up to those golden hours. I'm hoping to take the progress we've made so far and keep building. Keep wondering. Keep growing. 

Happy Outdoorsing!

~ Lindsey

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Outdoor Life Challenge Interrupted!

Our regularly scheduled program has been interrupted! Family vacations have a way of doing that. :)

I have a Week 6 log written down, but I don't have access to the pictures I wanted to post with it. I'm not even sure what "week" it is now. We're going to explore the area and see what happens. I don't think I'll be able to post pictures for awhile. 

We're not "doing school" but we've got our curiosity and some nice weather. Oh, and nature notebooks! I couldn't resist bringing those! Just in case...

Happy outdoorsing, wherever you are!

~ Lindsey

Monday, May 22, 2017

One big Suburban, three little kids, and over 3600 km...

We're gearing up for a road trip around here! Yes, over 3600 km of driving, round trip. With three kids. Gulp.

This baby has 3 bench seats and 9 seatbelts.

It will be the first time our family has undertaken such an adventure! 

I have many memories of road trips as a kid. If we wanted to go anywhere from our small town in the NWT, we had to drive quite a distance. (It was three hours to the nearest town, with a fire tower and an outhouse in between.) I know Dad always eagerly anticipated the first Tim Horton's, a mere ten hours into the drive. Back in those days, I remember sleeping on the floor of the backseat, or stretched out in the back of the wood panelled station wagon. I remember the tragedy of being stuck in the middle seat between two sisters who complained you were in their space! I remember my legs going numb after sitting still for so long. I remember getting out at various provincial and territorial borders to take a picture with the big welcome signs. I remember stopping to take pictures at the world's largest Nickel(!) and Canada Goose(!) conveniently situated in the middle of nowhere, aka northern Ontario. Fun times indeed! 

And just how did we pass the time, in the bygone days before in-car DVD players and various mobile devices? 

I remember reading books, at least until I got queasy. I remember trying to sleep in awkward positions, jolted out of slumber by some pothole with drool leaking out the side of my mouth. I remember playing Punchbuggy and I Spy and seeing who could spot the most license plates from different provinces or states. And I remember a lot of just staring out the window. I don't suppose kids do much of that these days.

But I think what I liked best was the music and audio books we played in ye ole cassette player. I don't remember all the albums now, but I remember singing along! We liked to sing as a family. (Sometimes Dad would even play the harmonica that we kept handily in the glove compartment. While driving. The only thing was he tended to exceed the speed limit just a tad while doing so . . .) I have vague recollections of Agatha Christie and James Herriot audio books too, borrowed from our local library. 

Our twenty year old "new" to us Suburban doesn't have a DVD player, or even a CD player! We're letting our kids have the "vintage" car experience with a classic tape player and roll down windows. But we've got a $3 piece of technology that looks like a cassette tape with a cord that plugs into a "modern" device. So one thing I'm definitely doing for this trip is loading up on some of our favourite music and audio books. It's certainly a lot easier with digital files! 

What's on our list for this road trip? Here are a few I'm adding to our road trip playlist:

Music & Musical Stories:

  • Maestro Classics - Including our favourites Peter and the Wolf and The Carnival of the Animals. We got the whole set at the start of the school year! These have been great. We've used some for our composer study, and the rest we listen to just for fun.
    • Right now you can get some of these albums as part of the Build Your Bundle sale! Carnival of the Animals is included in Elementary Bundle #1, which also has my Advent devotional, Abraham's Advent! (Thanks for using my affiliate link!) 
The BIGGEST Homeschool Sale of the Year!

  • Classical Kids - Mr. Bach Comes to Call and Beethoven Lives Upstairs (We just got these second hand, and I haven't listened to them since I was a kid. I'm excited to introduce them to my kids.) 

Audio Books:

  • James Herriot Treasury for Children ~ narrated by Jim Dale (AO Y1 booklist)
  • Winnie-the-Pooh ~ narrated by Bernard Cribbins (AO Y1 free read)
  • Peter Pan ~ narrated by Jim Dale (AO Y1 free read)
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz ~ narrated by Anne Hathaway
  • A Little Princess ~ narrated by Justine Eyre
  • Anne of Green Gables ~ narrated by Karen Savage (free from Libravox)
  • Teddy's Button and Sir Malcolm and the Missing Prince ~ from Lamplighter Theatre

So with all of that loaded up on the iPad, and a few of my mix tapes from the 90's, we should have lots for our listening pleasure. 


Interested in the Build Your Bundle sale? It's live today! If you're in the market for digital, printable or online curriculum, now is a great chance to get some amazing deals!

If you'd like to try Maestro Classic's Carnival of the Animals (and my own Abraham's Advent!) it's part of this bundle here:

Elementary Bundle #1 - Save 86%!

Or you can browse all the bundles and see what you can get for up to 96% off. (If you end up purchasing using one of my links, you are supporting a fellow homeschooler! Thank you!)

The BIGGEST Homeschool Sale of the Year - ends 5/30/17

~ Lindsey

Friday, May 19, 2017

A bit of homeschool excitement ~ and a Build Your Bundle giveaway!

I'm just popping online this morning to share something that is exciting in my world. Have you ever heard of the Build Your Bundle sale? It's a great way to get all kinds of digital homeschool curriculum at discounted prices. 

Enter to Win ALL 20 Bundles - Over $4,000 Value!

The thing is, little ol' me has a product in the sale this year!! I feel like such a tiny fish in the big sea of the online homeschool world, but there you go. (My main writing blog is Red Letters, if you'd like to have a look.) 

This year's sale starts on Monday, and I've had a sneak peek at the bundles. There are some great deals, so if you're a homeschooler you may want to check it out! 

Also, if you click through to the Build Your Bundle site using one of my links here, I will get a little more back in my pocket if you end up making a purchase. I'm not big on sales pitches, but I thought I'd mention it in case someone would like to take advantage of the sale and support a fellow homeschooler. :) 

This weekend there's a pre-sale giveaway happening too! There's a chance to win all 20 bundles, and also a coupon toward your purchase. 

For more information on the sale and what it's all about, just click on the link below.

Enter to Win ALL 20 Bundles - Over $4,000 Value!

You can get your coupon now, and the sale starts on Monday!

I'm not familiar with all of the curriculum, but here are a few of the contributors whose products we've used and enjoyed in our home:

We got the whole set of these albums at the beginning of the school year and have been enjoying the music and stories. Our favourites include Peter and the Wolf and Carnival of the Animals. We used a few of these with our composer study this year. It's a fun way to introduce and increase classical music in your family. Great for anyone, not just homeschoolers!

We've used Reading Lessons Through Literature for the phonics aspect of our reading lessons. It's a comprehensive yet uncomplicated program that fits in well with a Charlotte Mason approach. 

There are some lovely fine arts series put together for you here. If you're looking for ideas for your next Charlotte Mason artist study, this is a great resource.

Perhaps there's a deal on that will be just right for you. :)

~ Lindsey

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