Wrapping up November


Reflecting back on November, there is really so very much to be thankful for.
Mainly coffee.


I kid.

Kinsley has done very well on her prednisolone course, and amazingly, we’ve stayed essentially healthy.


We have seen the tender hand of our God relentlessly working on a situation which we have prayed about for ten years.


And as always (but even more obviously to us this last month) He has provided in extravagant and surprising ways.


Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23


Joy Dare Blog


Nature Study – The Oppossum

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Nature study is an area that consistently suffers in our schooling, even though I was determined not to let it slide.

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So when the Xplor magazine showed up and peaked Kinsley’s interest in opossums, I decided to roll with it, mostly to assuage the guilty feeling of failure.

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The Handbook of Nature Study didn’t have anything on the opossum (Did I miss it? Are they not blessed with these chicken eatin’ varmints across the pond??) so we turned to youtube. Where we basically got distracted by cute possum videos for 45 minutes. I suffer from shiny object syndrome.

(I actually kind of feel like that mama possum sometimes.)

We learned that baby opossums are about the size of a kidney bean when they are born and that an entire litter can fit in a teaspoon. The gestation period is only 13 days, and they nurse without stopping for two solid months. They are the only marsupials in the US. Fascinating!

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Then we sketched us some ‘possum (this is acceptable grammar when discussing a possum, I believe).

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Then Kinsley read to us from The Adventures of Unc’ Billy Possum.

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She is quite the expressive reader!

I am motivated to do better at nature study again. For now.

Joy Dare :: 3 Gifts Ice Cold

I have NOT really been looking forward to being thankful for anything cold as ice. Cold is not really my thing. In fact, this first gift of cold comes to you courtesy of Dan. I was snuggled up with a fuzzy-sleeper-clad baby under three blankets and a down comforter.

Winter Morning Beauty

photo credit – Astro Bob

This morning it was cold. This I can personally attest to. Apparently it was under 20* when Dan headed out to work. But the sky was clear and according to Dan the crescent moon was gorgeous and there were three planets all in a row.

I am sure if getting up early in the frigid cold is your kind of thing, you would have loved it. I am thankful that my husband gets up and goes to work to provide for the family who is all snuggly and warm in bed.


When we did get out of bed this morning, the children and I enjoyed the sight of thousands of tiny diamonds sparkling on everything. A picture really can’t do it justice!

Sonic Ice


A good friend of mine told us about Sonic Ice, which has been a life saver for teething babies, children with sore throats, and lazy mamas who don’t make ice in trays OR unload children from a van to buy ice from a service station. We just pull through the drive through, ask for a bag of ice, fork over a buck-seventy and that’s all there is to it. Handy-dandy.

Cool Touch Kleenex


I accidentally grabbed a box of these Kleenex the last time I made an emergency kleenex run, and boy, were they a treat for the nose!

This post ended up being quite commercial in the end!

Joy Dare :: 3 Gifts Ugly Beautiful

My mom has an explanation of what Ann Voskamp meant by Ugly Beautiful posted on her blog, but since I had taken the photos for this Joy Dare before I read that, mine aren’t exactly the same idea, but that’s okay, we were thankful for these things today!


We raked leaves from the front yard yesterday (or at least Dan did, while the rest of us sort of offered some form of moral support) and the kids and I were talking about how the dead leaves sort of fit the idea of Ugly Beautiful in several different ways.

Kinsley brought me the piece of evergreen which had come from a shrub in our yard and said “Can you believe that this is really, truly golden?? It’s so pretty!” She was right, though I probably never would have even noticed that little dead twig as beautiful.


Our chalkboard and the never ending to-do lists are both Ugly Beautiful. Where would we be without either? 😉


Can you see the grubby little hand prints? We have lots of those. If I forget that they shouldn’t be there, then they are actually kind of charming and beautiful. At least that’s what I will tell myself when I contemplate adding “window washing” to mo to do list.

Joy Dare :: A Gift Hung, Held, Heard

A Gift Hung


My black and white crayon art was a birthday gift from my super talented brother Jacob. I asked if he could pull of an Ansel Adams feel, and he sure did! It’s one of my most favorite pieces of art.

A Gift Held


I had to include Gillian here, since she makes certain that she is the main thing I find myself holding. That’s okay though, she’s pretty cute!

A Gift Heard


When we snagged our bird-songs clock from a neighbors yard sale, I was thrilled that both the kids and I could learn some of the bird calls in such an easy way. Unfortunately, I neglected to make sure that it was accurate, and after several months of me calling the name of each bird at the top of the hour, Dan pointed out that the clock must be set wrong, and I realized that we had learned all the wrong songs to all the wrong birds. Oh well. We’ll get around to bird songs someday.

Joy Dare :: 3 Gifts Shining

Three Gifts Shining. Hmmm. So close to Three Gifts Bright.

Kinsley thought about this assignment and suggested the moon.


“Oh, is it pretty tonight?” I asked her.

“Well, it’s actually pretty EVERY night.”

Right. The moon is certainly something to be thankful for!


We love our aquarium which was a gift from Mom and Dad when we moved into this bigger house. We all find it to be very relaxing, and soothing. One certain child finds it to be a good antidote to sleepless nights.


And the fish are shiny, right?


Our twinkly fairy lights. I am very thankful for them. They are not only cozy to look at, but they have saved me many a stubbed toe and cracked shin as I stumble about the house running various errands for various children who apparently have more pressing things to do at night than sleep.


When I asked Dan what shining things he was thankful for, he immediately thought of my ring. “It’s the shiniest thing I have ever bought!”

I am very thankful for it, too. I am thankful for the wonderful guy who was old fashioned enough to ask my parents for my hand in marriage. I am thankful for the beautiful August evening nine years ago when he presented me with this ring in the middle of a field of tall grass waving gently in the breeze.

I am thankful that I seem to be able to wear my rings again, since every once in a while my body decides to rebel against them and I develop a terribly itchy rash that persists until I take the rings off my finger and put them away for a while.

And I am thankful for all the blessings that have come after the above shiny object was installed on my finger!


Joy Dare :: 3 Gifts Bright

I said I’d try to participate in the Joy Dare, but I never claimed that I would be on time, right?


Each morning I have been asking the kids to think about whatever the Joy Dare is, and share any ideas that they get. Yesterday Sophie thought about it for a few seconds, and then slammed her purse up and onto the table with a huge grin, sending crayons flying hither and yon. Her glittery purple purse was a birthday present from her Aunt Anna, Uncle Matt and all her girl cousins who understand so well what a girly-girl needs the most.

Later in the day, Kinsley came to me and said “You know how Sophie thinks we should be grateful for that purse? Well, I just don’t know if that’s really the kind of thing to be thankful for, since it’s only a purse…” Oh child, that is exactly the kind of thing to be thankful for!

It made me thrilled that we are doing this together as a family, and especially that we began this journey in the month of December. How wonderful it is to recognize and name our blessings!


Okay, I cheated. Two Brights for the price of one. We luf Gillian’s little bright pink squeaker shoes. They are so fun, and bright, and cheery and squeaky, and I always know where the Baby Girl is when she has ’em on. And she loves to wear them, which is somewhat new and exotic for Gilli. And the lights! There are so many bright Christmas lights everywhere that I couldn’t resist sneaking one picture in. Also another view of the cuteness that is Gillian, who happens to be a pretty bright little person herself. Okay, so it was three Brights for the price of one. Who’s counting anyway?


Isn’t that a beautiful bright blue aquarium? We love fish, and aquariums – they are just so peaceful. At Bass Pro Shop, we sat and watched the fish tank for the longest time, and found it so restful and soothing!

Cats are connoisseurs of comfort…

Says James Herriot. And if anyone should know, it would be James Herriot.


So, we ended up with a cat. We named her Meredith. She caught many mice and all was good.

What has surprised me is how perfect Meredith has been for our little family.


The children have really bought into another James Herriot thought: “I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love…”


Some days we have to outlaw holding Meredith, because after a while she takes on the persona of a frog that has been held too long and too lovingly by a three year old boy. Not that that ever happens here. But even on Non-Holding Days, Meredith still wants to be with the children. I think she loves them!


Dan and I have been thinking a lot about our approach to education over this next year, and I have been browsing back through my Charlotte Mason books. She viewed children as “thinking, feeling human beings, as spirits to be kindled and not as vessels to be filled”.

Attaining this enlightenment happens through the relationships that we form and the influences that we experience in our lives. Our ideal “curriculum” provides our children with something to love, something to do, something to think about. While there are many different things that will fit each of these goals, and while it will vary greatly from family to family and from time to time, Meredith sure does make a nice “curriculum”` for us right now!

When April Comes






When April comes with softly shining eyes,
And daffodils bound in her wind-blown hair,
Oh, she will coax all clouds from out the skies,
And every day will bring some sweet surprise,–
The swallows will come swinging through the air
When April comes!

When April comes with tender smile and tear,
Dear dandelions will gild the common ways,
And at the break of morning we will hear
The piping of the robins crystal clear–
While bobolinks will whistle through the days,
When April comes!

When April comes, the world so wise and old,
Will half forget that it is worn and grey;
Winter will seem but as a tale long told–
Its bitter winds with all its frost and cold
Will be the by-gone things of yesterday,
When April comes!
Virna Shear

caring for a cat


The kids have insisted on keeping Meredith in the best of health. They check on her just before bed, the moment they wake up, and about every three minutes in between. Kinsley has decided that we should even keep records. Unfortunately for me, some of these records include graphic descriptions of her daily kills. Fortunately for you, I did not photograph that part of her chart.

(See how often I tell the kids “Wash your hands, that cat probably has worms!”)