"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

Monday, April 28, 2014

God's Smuggler: Book Sharing Monday

God's Smuggler was one of our book club picks.  We have always read a steady stream of missionary books.  They are not only great books for mission work but for history and geography as well.  God's Smuggler quickly became one of our favourite missionary reads.  This book had such an impact on us.  The book is based on Brother Andrew's life of smuggling Bibles into Communist countries and bringing encouragement to the Christians who were struggling to live a life of faith behind the iron curtain.

From a boy he dreamed of being a spy, fighting in wars, believing it would be glorious existence.  When he was in his late teens he fought in the Dutch East Indie War and found the harsh realities of war were far more reaching and damaging then he ever thought.  After he was injured in the war he came home to figure out what to do with his life.  At this point he was not a Christian but God placed people in his life to bring him the truth and after a while he embraced the Lord with all his heart.  The change in him was incredible and he had a deep desire to bring encouragement and Bibles to those who led their life behind the iron curtain.

What impacted us most was how strong his faith truly was.  Answers to pray were astounding in the face of great danger and odds, God provided in miraculous ways.  The book was full of accounts in this respect.  We were often stunned by the way God answered and the faith of these people who answered God's call on their life to mission work in the communist countries.

Brother Andrew and his wife are still alive and have founded Open Doors, a mission dedicated to providing Bibles and missionaries to countries who so desperately need help.

I am pleased to say that this book was a huge hit in book club.   I received an email from one family in particular who expressed that the book impacted their entire family as they read it aloud together.  I was so pleased to hear this.

We would highly recommend this as a mission read.

God's Smuggler, one of our favourite book club picks!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up: Learn to Run

It's been a fast paced week and we managed to get in all the essentials, as well as concentrate on some physical fitness!  The finer weather has now arrived in our area so we are hitting the track for some running and took out the bikes for some riding!

Learn to Run
My older two have set some goals for themselves in terms of running.  Heather would like to run a 10K this year and Graham a 5K (will be his first running experience).  All the kiddos have asked to participate in a colour run.  So I need to look into that.  I injured my foot a couple of times last year and hadn't hit the track in quite some time.  We started all over with a couch to 5K training app I have on my phone.  It's a nice app and was free, you can even add music to it, if you like. :)  We made it out a three times this week and although it challenged my son, he hung in there.  My youngest (7 yrs) rode along side us on her bike, ran or walked depending on what she felt like doing at the time!  It's been challenging to find the time but well worth the effort; lots of fun and memories made as we preserver together!  There is a home school track and field meet held a few hours from our city that I plan on taking the kids to next year.  They have all shown some interest in doing more activities like this.  We'll take the year to research the various track and field sports so they can decide what they'd like to do.   I'd like to start practising the sports with them throughout the year.

Book Club Books
We've been concentrating on our books for book club this past week.  I run a junior division with 11 children; ages 6 - 11.  And a friend of mine runs a Senior Book Club, which my eldest daughter attends.  The junior book is called:  A Wrinkle in Time & the Senior's are reading the classic: Little Women.  My daughter is struggling to read Little Women, she finds it very slow paced, but she's hanging in there.  It certainly isn't one of her favourites!  The younger ones and I are throughly enjoying A Wrinkle in Time.  I will be writing about our book club next month when I do a Book Club Monday post!  :)

That's pretty much it for the week!  Just keeping up with all the regular studies!

A little bit of picture fun at the park!

Me and the kiddos! :D

We are linked up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap!  Have a look and share your own!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Keeping the Pace

I took the kiddos out for a run yesterday.  The older two have set some running goals for themselves.  One would like to run a 10K this year and the other his first 5K.  Admirable goals, and this Mom needs the exercise too.  It was a gorgeous day, beautiful weather to run in.  Just the perfect amount of breeze and coolness! :)

We set out in the afternoon on our bikes and headed to the track.  Wednesday's are always a busy day and I have trouble trying to fit everything in but I knew they needed it and I did too.  What happened I will remember for the rest of my days.

I have had two injuries in the last year to the same foot, so hadn't been running on it for quite some time.  My stamina is gone....  Plus my son has never trained for a race so we needed to start over again anyway! I have to work up to running a 5K in the 33 minutes I was accustomed to doing it in.  We started the From Couch to 5K running app I have on my phone.  I was struggling to do the running portion of the program but was still pulling off the jog.  Heather commented that it was hard to run at the jog pace for her.  Not wanting to slow her down, I picked up the pace a bit but was struggling to maintain it.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw her watching me.  She smiled and said to me: "It's okay Mom, I can run at your pace, that you're even doing this with us means so much." Tears stung my eyes, and I know she didn't realise what she'd said.  I started talking about how the Bible talks about running the race.  My son pipes up and says: "oh wow, what race mom?"  I know he's got his mind on the running of an actual race and I chuckle repeating the verse for him found in Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."  Oh right!, he says. I explained to them that they are like the cloud of witnesses running with me and that Heather's comment to keep pace with me during this time impacted me in the spiritual realm too.  We need that encouragement, someone to keep pace with us through life, the storms, the hard things, the joy, the sorrows.  I go on to talk about how the Bible talks about not looking to the right or left but to the prize before us.  I was surprised when my son suddenly veered off course, running far off to our right.  I wonder what he's doing, then he runs back to us and says: "I get it Mom, when you run to the right or left you can't finish the race."  wow.  He actually did that without any prompting on my part.  I am astounded and more tears prick the backs of my eyes.  "Yes, son, that's exactly it, and we are to look to the author and perfecter of our faith (Christ), with our prize being the eternal life we inherit."  They got it, these kids - get it. We talked about the sin and the cares of this world, how they press in on us and steal our joy and hope.  We talked about how the race is hard and you want to quit but the more you run the stronger you get.  So many parallels to drive home the point.

I felt the Holy Spirit move yesterday afternoon and knew those moments were well spent.  I sometimes wonder if the teaching I am doing gets through, the kids fight, they struggle, I want to loose my mind sometimes; feeling like a broken record.....  Then these moments arrive and I am astounded.  God's word never changes, His touch heals and brings truth, it doesn't return void.  I pray my kids will remember this, that they will hold tight to this truth even in the darkest of moments when hope feels far off and life threatens to cave in.  I pray that I will always encourage and keep pace beside them, remind them who they are and that they are loved and held by a mighty God.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Sharing Monday: The Burgess Bird Book by Thornton W. Burgess

The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess

I attended a Charlotte Mason Meeting a few months back, where I heard about this book.  After reading through some reviews and pondering it for a bit, I purchased a copy.   It has been around for a number of years now, being put back into print as a timeless classic.  

It has fast become one of my six years old's favourite read a louds!  The beloved Peter Rabbit is the main character in these stories, with an insatiable curiosity to meet and understand all the types of birds he can! Jenny Wren is eager to help with her vast array of knowledge about all things feathery!  :)  The stories about these feathered friends of ours are delightful and engaging.  They capture and hold a child's attention while at the same time teaching them about a bird's habitat, eating, nesting habits and the like.  My older children (ages 12 & 11), eagerly listen in too, often asking me to wait just a moment so they can join in the fun.

There are black and white illustrations throughout, and although they are pleasant, I will often use my bird book to look up additional information.  That way the kids are able to see the wonderful assortment of colours bird life has to contribute to this world of ours!  The kids enjoy sketching and painting out the bird they have heard about at that reading.  

We love talking about wild life around here, and in particular bird life.  We enjoy feeding the birds at the wild life centres and nature habitats.  In November, we had the opportunity to go camping up north, where we were able to feed the chickadee and nuthatchers.  The kids absolutely loved doing this.  All of us had a great time observing the various types of birds.  Nuthatchers, cardinals, blue jays, screech owls, and woodpeckers adorned the trees and we were able to get a close look at them.   Such a great time!

I would highly recommend this book to help develop a love of birds.  A half hour of readings; a tea for me and snacks for the kiddos and we are wrapped up in a world of wonder with our feathery friends! :)

My son, feeding a chickadee at the park.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Hard Moments & the Ones that Follow

My son took up violin this year.  He's shown some natural ability with it; catching on quickly.  I am amazed at how far he's come in such a short amount of time.

The other afternoon, I reminded him to practise and he gave me some grief.  That's nothing new, he struggles with doing things cheerfully.  This combined with the fact that I needed to get dinner on and attend to a few other things, made me miss what was really going on.  He continued to complain and I hollered from the kitchen to stop the complaining and just start practising.  Which he did.  I knew he was struggling with the bad attitude but the next thing I knew he was packing everything up and declaring himself done with the violin - forever.  He's said this a few times.  Emotions ran high, mine, his.  I sent him to his room to calm down.  I gave myself a time out and while making dinner I thought and prayed.

 He's my child that requires a lot, and that's okay.  I am thankful to homeschool him.  He needs that one on one with me to learn in the ways that will bring him success, to ensure that he is learning the way HE learns and not just subject to the mercy of a certain teaching style or restrictive field of learning.  He needs so much more then that.  I sigh as I think about him.  And I know right then what he needs from me.  He needs me to slow it down and be present with him.  I can't give him a lot to learn on his own; just yet. Some day, but not now.  He needs hands on, tactile stimulation and the presence of someone to encourage. This requires more out put from me as a parent as an educator.  It means: not being in a rush.  It means: being there.   I ask the Lord for help and patience and I pull my son into my arms. I ask him: "What do you need from me to help you with your violin practise?"  He looks at me and I can see the relief pour over him.  He tells me he needs help to read the notes, to have me sit and listen and watch.  *sigh*  It would be nice to send him off to do it on his own while I do something else but it's not what he needs so we'll do things differently.  I tell my kiddo, he's amazing, that I am so happy God gave him to me and that I won't let him quit violin because he has a natural ability with it. I tell him we're a team and I will walk along side him.  He hugs me, one of those soul hugs. :) So this week I slowed it all down, I carved out the time, I rearranged the day, and I do all the things I know he needs.  This is different from a nonessential want, he NEEDS this.  I helped him get the notes and fingering right even though I am not 100% certain what I am doing but we laughed together and learned together anyway.  I gave him encouragement when he struggled and clapped when he succeeded. And I noticed that he eagerly picks up his violin the next time I asked him to practise.   Before we know it, he has that piece down.  This kid is amazing.  I know it's these moments that matter the most. The hard ones when you wish it could be easy but know it matters the most because it's hard and you know it's the change that will make the difference. The moments after this are so sweet because it's reaped the reward of the harvest of change.

I don't always figure it out right away and I know I mess things up.  I hope, in me, they see a human touched by God's grace, walking, falling and getting back up.  :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Sharing Monday: Do Hard Things

Do Hard Things was the book Heather did for her book club in March.  She is in the Senior Club now.  I, personally, can not say enough good things about this book.  But I asked Heather to write this up as she read through it and discussed it with her peers.  She absolutely loved this book.


Do Hard Things is written by two young boys, Alex and Brett Harris.  They saw the need for young people to step up out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to: do hard things!!!  They began by setting up a blog and then wrote a book to inspire teens all over not to be complacent in their teen years but to use it as on opportunity to develop character.  They gave examples of teens who 'did hard things' by doing chores with great attitudes to groups of teenagers who organized community events. 

I am one of those teens who have been inspired 'to do hard things'.  I have made out some lists and taken their suggestions to begin my teen years in this way.  I feel challenged.  The book is a very good read and I believe people of all ages, even adults, should read and put these suggestions into action.  


I am so pleased she enjoyed this book.  She has challenged me to read it and I have committed to doing so. But I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed her chatting/sharing with me about this book as she read through it.  She would like to follow this book up with Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are. She is highly motivated and I would like to give her every opportunity to excel in this area!  She has been visiting their blog: The Rebelution and enjoys reading through their posts.  She has also made a list of the things she would like to accomplish at this time.  So proud of her for taking up this challenge! :)  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Getting back to blogging

It's been a while since I have enjoyed writing on my blog!  I have been going through some rough patches, but I hope to get back to some regular blog posts now.

I struggled a lot to relax on our holiday in September, which is highly unusual for me!   And since I came back from holiday I have struggled with bouts of insomnia that were quite severe at times.  I think that sort of developed into some anxiety issues and it isn't easy to think well when one is so tired! :)  My Gran passed away in November, which I found difficult to deal with.  And I have been having some tremors for a while now in my hands and some internal tremors that contributed to my anxiety.  I turned a corner a couple of weeks ago, that I give God the glory for!  I wrote a blog post about it on my personal blog  Anchor of the Soul. 

I go to the Doctor's this week, and I am hoping for a referral to a neurologist, so I can get some answers for the tremors.  There are indications that it is likely Familial Tremors (also known as Essential Tremors), as my family history indicates this.  Getting the ball rolling on this has been difficult, but I have a peace about it now that I previously did not have.

So, all this to say, I am starting to feel better about getting back to doing some things I had once loved doing.  And I am thankful for God's leading in this.  In many ways I have felt like I have been in a desert this past little bit. Here for my kids and my husband, of course, but the lack of sleep hasn't been easy to deal with!   I am sleeping a lot better now, and my anxiety has left me.

So, I will be blogging here a bit more.  Not a ton, I am going to start off slowly with Book Sharing Monday and Weekly Wrap Up.  Looking forward to sharing about our school journey a bit more as this is a great passion of ours! :)