Sunday, December 26, 2010

Oh Me of Little Faith (when it comes to snow at Christmastime) -- posted by Momma

Like I said in a previous post, when Bill lost his job in November, the children brainstormed on a variety of ways to celebrate Christmas in lieu of presents. Some of their ideas were delightful such as: cooking together, learning new songs together, playing games, etc. One of their ideas that stood out to me was their prayer for snow, so they could play in it for a Christmas treat.

Being a Columbia native, I had never witnessed snow at Christmas (appears the last time was in 1887), and I was hesitant to encourage the prayer they started over a month ago for fear they would be additionally disappointed on top of our circumstances. They have prayed for snow before to no avail, nevertheless they were especially excited to ask for it for Christmas. So excited that George had trouble sleeping Christmas night, and was found roaming around at 4am looking out the windows for snow.

Imagine the momma's heart in me wanting to prevent my children's further disappointment.

Okay, now imagine my surprise to wake up to a blanket of snow this morning... AND IT'S STILL FALLING!

Needless to say, my rosy-cheeked boys have been dancing the Happy Snow Dance since 6am.

Oh, thank you, Lord, you never cease to amaze us!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Freedom in Christ -- posted by Momma

Yesterday we went to the cemetery to decorate the graves in Florence. Momma and I used to tease each other about this Christmas and Easter tradition, because I didn't want to be in bondage to doing it once she passed away. (She threatened to haunt me if I didn't!) We didn't mind going with her twice a year, because it was important to her, but I'm not one to visit graves. I don't feel closer to the deceased being near their grave... THEY AREN'T IN THERE! I feel closer to Webb, or better said, I can enjoy his memory better, by producing a few tears in my eyes, squinching them up and gazing at the Christmas tree. He would sit in front of the tree producing his homemade kaleidoscope for hours. He also loved to sit by the fire waiting for the flame to fade so he could blow on it and (presto!) make fire. Oh how proud he was when it would flame up! He would get dizzy drunk trying to blow to life a dead fire.

As for Ma, I enjoy Christmas memories of her better when, for example, I make Lula's dressing. Every year I would forget how to make it and call Ma, and every year she would forget as well and have me call Lula. Thank heavens we wrote it down before Lula passed.

Momma insisted on making Christmas dinner to the very end. In fact, she had Will wheel her out that last Christmas to do a couple of things even though she was bedridden. That doesn't mean she was always successful. A couple of years before she died she made cornbread. When she took it out of the oven, it was literally flatter than a pancake! She hadn't used self-rising corn meal, and had forgotten to add leavening. I'll never forget the look on her face when she pulled it out the oven. We laughed so hard we wept! In fact, she had me shellac it and tote it to the beauty shop to share the laughs.

Anyway, we'd go to Florence twice a year, stop by Cain's BBQ to eat, and Bill would buy a little stockpile of BBQ for the freezer. That reminds me of Daddy, whose grave I saw just once at his funeral. I'd rather remember him teaching Sarah Grace how to make his coleslaw (for said BBQ) shortly before he passed away. Oh how proud he was to show her how to meticulously cut each little strip of cabbage just so.

I know many people take comfort in visiting graveyards and that's okay. If any of my children wanted to visit Hank's grave, I'd gladly indulge them. What I wouldn't indulge is them writing notes to him or speaking to him. God calls that necromancy and it's a sin. It never ceases to amaze me when Protestants get all over Roman Catholics for talking to the saints, and then turn around and write a letter to dead Papa on his flower arrangement.

I know we have to renew our minds to the Word of God to keep from slipping into some of that hyper-sentimental stuff that is so not spiritual. If we were having meetings in accordance with the Apostle Paul's instructions, we would avoid some of these childish things. 1 Corinthians 14:26 26How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. We would each have the opportunity to share something like how the Lord stopped me from talking to Momma in her casket.

This week I had a pang of sadness because I wouldn't be buying a toy Hess truck after a 21 year tradition. I bought them for most of the boys at some point, but Webb took them over straight away. He loved those trucks, and each one was a hit. I actually toyed with the idea of buying one and giving it to charity as some kind of tribute to Webb. With us being late on some of our payments, and not buying our other children presents, does that make sense? Well, I think it does if you're a drama queen, and believe me, my grief has tried to take me there many times, but the Lord just says, "Really?," and I snap out of it. That kind of sappy stuff does not glorify him. Over-sentimentality can be a counterfeit for true spirituality. That's why I loathe Christian bookstores with all their trinkets and fads and junk. I used to love all that "Footprints in the Sand" stuff.

Don't get me wrong, the Lord is wonderfully sentimental. I love that he saves my tears in a bottle and keeps my prayers recorded in his book. He calls me by a nickname and will one day give me a new name written in a white stone before the wedding feast of the lamb, where he says he will serve US! I wonder how I could possibly let him serve me? He also says he won't drink wine again until that day when he enjoys it with his bride, the church. Oh, he's sentimental and "romantic," alright, but that kind of intimacy is reserved for his bride. Before I got the new birth, I was just outside of the intimacy to hear his voice and walk with him. I loved him, but I only knew of him. I didn't actually hear him and know him, so I entertained notions that weren't true in my desire to follow him.

Anyway, for the graves, I found pretty little sprays that were slightly frosted with greenery, red berries, and dainty pine cones for 60% off. I already had a roll of elegant sheer gold ribbon with that exact motif, which went together perfectly, so I made, as usual, the thirteen needed... only to get there and realize Ma and Webb made it FIFTEEN NEEDED! No, I did not short Ma and Webb. I shorted one of the older graves of some poor soul who was a Waring by marriage, and a Confederate soldier who was on an entirely different row. I was so disgusted with myself that Bill insisted he drive back today (3 hours round trip), to place two more. I appreciated the offer, but honest to God, that is the silliest thing ever. Think about it. None of those dead people know about or are enjoying those pretty little sprays. In fact, there are no live people who go to those graves to enjoy those pretty little sprays. Momma can try to haunt me all she wants, but Bill is NOT making that stupid trip again on Christmas eve. There's your freedom in Christ.

Yesterday Bill and I reveled in our freedom of sharing about our financial situation and telling of the Lord's mighty hand, not that we ever want to poor mouth, but with the new birth comes freedom from secrets and clandestine living. Like our lives, our checkbook is an open book. We'd show anyone who wanted to see where we've been and where we are. (By the way, for necessary clarification, when I said Bill had no problem incurring credit card debt, it should be known that he didn't enjoy it, he simply allowed it. Furthermore, I will reiterate that he never once borrowed money from my father, which was a false accusation made against him.)

It's that freedom that is worthy of celebration... freedom from sin, freedom from shame, freedom from secrets, freedom from silly traditions and unscriptural practices, freedom from melodramatic sentimentality, freedom from trying to impress, freedom from pride of life, freedom from houses and cars and things and all the world... freedom to be, as the Lord says, a slave to righteousness! Isn't that just awesome? Isn't that the funniest thing ever to have the freedom to be a slave? Oh, Lord, that tickles me so.

I should get on with the precooking, but I also wanted to mention a couple of things I forgot in my last post. One, Mrs. Sarah treated us to cookbooks on British cuisine (didn't know there was such a thing, eh? I'm kidding.) And since one of the things we wanted to do together was cook, that worked out perfectly! We also have sources for British staples, condiments, meats, etc., so maybe we can learn a homey meal for Billy before he comes back in the next couple or three months. And two, I got sidetracked off of Billy before I declared that I love him to pieces... so, I do declare.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Peculiar People -- posted by Momma

Back in the 90's when the Lord had us pull the children out of school and teach them at home, I had no idea a million other families in the US were doing the exact same thing. We didn't have the Internet back then, so it was stunning to later realize we were part of a widespread revival. And even though we now have access to information about spiritual movements, I'm still flabbergasted to find that after the Lord has taught us and stirred our hearts on a certain subject, others have evidently been taught and stirred on the same matter... many others.

I always knew I should be a stay-at-home mom and Sarah Grace should be trained likewise by being a stay-at-home daughter. I knew even as a little girl that when I grew up I should trust the Lord with my conceptions. The Bible teaches that children are gifts from God, and to try to "control" that would be to suggest that the Lord doesn't know how to give good gifts, and that he can't be trusted with his timing. So really, these things were no-brainers even before I got the new birth.

What did surprise me was to see so many Christians simultaneously embracing practices such as:

1) a return to Biblical courtship (for lack of a better term) as opposed to modern dating

2) fathers apprenticing their sons, and sons resisting the trend of getting a college degree for the degree's sake

3) an increased interest in nutrition with wholesome home-cooked meals, made from local organic or home-grown produce and freshly ground grains (I'm pretty sure that buying our wheat mill happened after we were all interconnected, though. That would be just too weird.)

4) a revival of homemaking skills along with a return to gender-specific roles

5) a resurgence of home births

6) a return to Biblical home churches as opposed to the monstrosities of the denominations. (We posted a video series several posts back teaching the Biblical model for house meetings. The Lord has been opening our eyes for years to the "traditions of men" that have usurped the Biblical practice of house meetings. We've been having home church for ages, not realizing we were following the proper model all along!)

7) eschewing television and other forms of mass market entertainment (although we still own a TV)

Anyway, off the top of my head, those are some of the major counter-culture changes the Lord has led us into. I'm posting the following essay because I just marvel whenever we read about or meet people who have been drawn to the same lifestyle changes we have. I read this article and thought... gah.

Top 10 Mistakes of Homeschoolers by Jonathan Lindvall

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Awesome -- posted by Mom

But don't try this at home... meaning our home. (And that includes you, James.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Assignment Addendum 11/6 -- posted by Mom

Here are a couple of more assignments for the upperclassmen. They're interviews with Dr. Thomas E. Woods, Jr., and I think John should be included in watching these, so one of you should let him sit in with you.

I'll warn you that the first one has annoying music throughout the thing, but the interview is only 26 minutes long so you'll survive.

Friday, November 5, 2010

For The Young Guns 11/5 -- posted by Mother Dear

For the Upperclassmen 11/5 -- posted by Momma

Here is the Fear the Boom and Bust video I told you about. It is 7mins 33secs and you may watch it now if you don't have time to watch the video below it which is The Making of the Keynes-Hayek Rap: Economic Theory Meets Popular Culture.

Fear the Boom and Bust is in the "making of" video so I would suggest you just go ahead and invest 46mins 53secs in the second video. If you absolutely do not have time today, at least watch the first one so you know what we are talking about. I really don't want you to lose what Daddy was telling you this morning, so make it a priority.

It's been a long time since we put together Will's economics course (Sarah didn't take it), but we had a bundle of books which included Economics in One Lesson Henry Hazlitt. Y'all need to look around for these books (I can't find them), but I bet they're all together. I wish I could remember all the titles, but I can't. I just talked to Dad and he is going to give it some thought and put together another course if we can't find them. It's my guess he'll have Hayek's The Road to Serfdom and something by Thomas Sowell. He stated that he didn't want to overwhelm y'all, so fear not little flock. Besides, Spence doesn't have enough time for an over-the-top college level course.

Anyway, here are the videos. The first one if you're short on time, but you are required to watch the second one before the weekend is out.

I went over to and I found some lectures for high school students so I'll pass it on to your father. Economics for High School Students

I was surprised to find so many lectures by Thomas J. DiLorenzo. Do you remember meeting him in Abbeville when he gave a lecture on his book, The Real Lincoln, and we had some signed for Christmas presents? Thomas J. DiLorenzo Author Archives

Here are the last of your short stories. Answer all the questions and vocabulary, etc., in the student companion, but you don't have to write out the answers to those stupid "thinking" questions, although you should be able to discuss them if we can find one worthy for discussion.

To Build a Fire -- Jack London

The Gift of the Magi -- O Henry

The Carriage-Lamps -- Stephen Crane

God Sees The Truth But Waits -- Leo Tolstoy

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow -- Washington Irving

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bible Time

Here's the sermon we listened to for Bible time:

Holiness by Leonard Ravenhill

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport of Homeschooling -- posted by Momma

Maybe y'all noticed when, a few entries back, I posted some of the boys' lessons here on the blog. We decided to use the blog as a hub for assignments and points of interest so that I wouldn't have the confusion of delivering the information in so many different directions. Besides, the children like to know what their siblings are studying. With the older boys working, this seemed to be an easy way for the family to check out what all's going on, as well as a way for Bill to keep up with us while he's traveling.

We'll see how it works. Perhaps we won't like being in a fish bowl since golly, our mass of readers the tens of ya will be able to peek behind the mysterious veil of home education and into our Academy of Home Scholars enclosed, remodeled garage.*

I was hesitant to do it this way since I thought it might seem strange, and besides, I'm not particularly bowled over by some of the things we study. Originally I was impressed with how the children could get a "world" class education reading The Great Books while dangling from oak trees (Sarah's favorite place to read was from a branch that stretched out over the pond). But the longer I walk with the Lord, the more dull the world becomes with all its great literature, fantastic art, awesome science, intriguing politics, blah, blah, blah.

Even though I died to this stupid world years ago, I still wanted the children to be well-versed in its "great accomplishments" (sarcasm intended) if for no other reason than to prevent them from being the "dummies at the dinner party," so to speak. Of course, while they read the world's colossal minds such as Plato, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Karl Marx, Stephen Hawking, et al, we use the Word of God to expose these foolish ones for the blind guides that they are. Still, it seems like such a waste of time when we could be digging deeper and deeper into the Word of God to uncover those gold nuggets that have eternal value.

I guess I shouldn't complain too much since yesterday and today we were able to thoroughly enjoy Bible time and didn't break up until after 10:30am. That puts them hustling to get their math and house/farm chores done before lunch time, but fortunately, both days it has rained, so they just extended their school day since they couldn't play outside anyway. They confessed to me that they like long school days when it rains. They especially like it in cold weather when they gather round the fire and sip hot chocolate and read or listen to lectures.

Anyway, I wrote all this to explain why there will be entries with school assignments listed... only I got a little sidetracked.

* Can you tell I'm all excited to learn the "strike through" html?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

For Our Upperclassmen 10/25 -- posted by Momma

Here are your short stories. Do the vocabulary recognition, vocabulary exercises, reading assignment, comprehension and recall questions in the student companion. Be prepared to discuss the critical thinking and bonus questions, but don't bother to write those down.

The Lady or The Tiger -- Frank Stockton

Rip Van Winkle -- Washington Irving

Hop-Frog -- Edgar Allan Poe

The Fight -- Augustus Baldwin Longstreet

Here are a few other things I want y'all to read in preparation for discussion:

Listen to this audio clip of Mark Steyn's acceptance speech he gave when he received the Free Press Society's journalistic prize, the Sappho Award. The sound quality isn't great, especially in the beginning when he is being introduced, but suffer through it-- it's worth it.

While you're at it, watch this clip:

Please read these short articles on the NPR firing of Juan Williams. Keep in mind that Juan Williams is a liberal. First, watch the clip that got him fired from NPR:

Also, hear what Juan Williams has to say about the firing:

The articles:

Michelle Malkin Free the Taxpayers: Defund State-Sponsored Media

Rich Lowry The Closing of NPR’s Mind

The Editors Let NPR Pay Its Own Way

Here's an article I want y'all to read on the European budget cuts. More on this later:

Jonah Goldberg
Fools Rush In Where Europe Rushes Out

Have you seen this yet?

I love this first Mark Lowry version of Mary, did you know? because I like the vocals better than the second version, but I love the cello and Spanish guitar in the second one. So, I posted them both.

Also, don't forget to keep up with The Man in the Iron Mask student companion. Even though it is a family read-aloud, it still counts for hs literature.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Billy's London Town -- posted by John

Yesterday, Billy went to the Natural History Museum in London to see the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year special exhibit. Here's a picture he took of the museum when he arrived:

And you won't believe the rest of the building!

Of course, he couldn't take pictures of the exhibition, but we looked at the online gallery. The photographs are really cool.

This is the winner of the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year. He got chiggers from lying on the ground to get this shot:

This is the winner of the Veolia Environnement Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year:

Here's the link to the junior awards. They are fantastic and inspiring!

There was a South Carolinian photographer, too!

You can look at this YouTube video of Mac Stone's photography in Francis Beidler Forest. It is amazing!

After Billy visited the Natural History Museum, he went to the National Gallery. He also took a picture of Trafalgar Square. You can see Nelson's Column, and Big Ben in the distance:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Romans 7 -- posted by Momma

We're at the chapters around and including Romans 7 in our Bible reading and I had such a rush describing to the children and Billy about the day I had my eureka on that chapter.

Chapter 7
is the one where Paul laments his unredeemed state by describing how he is sold under sin and can't do the good things he wants to do, but rather does the very things he doesn't want to do. Only, it is written in the present tense, which would suggest to the ignorant that he was in that state while he was writing it.

At the time, I wasn't really aware of the literary technique of "flashback" or "literary/historical present tense," but I was surely a victim of it (or should I say beneficiary). Actually, I was familiar with it in secular writing, but it never occurred to me that that's what was happening in Romans chapter 7. I'd read it hundreds of times, at a minimum, and each time I would nod and agree with Paul and groan about my ever-present sin nature that prevented me from being able to completely obey the Lord. I wasn't in gross sin at that time, but nevertheless I knew I wasn't completely minding the Lord. And before I was enlightened, the Lord had me well convinced that I was indeed still a miserable sinner, i.e., "O wretched man that I am!" This literary technique is used to help the reader closely identify with the writing in a "you are there" sort of way.

That's right where the Lord wanted me so he could show me that I was still sold under sin, not yet converted into a NEW creation where "old things pass away and all things become new." It was same ol' same ol' even though I had prayed "the sinner's prayer" and had been baptized. I wasn't yet able to "go and sin no more" like he commanded. I knew I wasn't walking "even as Christ walked." Oh, I knew all the commands to holiness, and I also knew it didn't say try to be holy, it said "be ye holy." I didn't understand that in order to be holy without trying took resurrection power, even though the Bible repeatedly tells us that our righteousness doesn't count for diddly.

By and by I grew to love the Lord so much that forgiveness for sins just wasn't enough for me, and I would pour out my frustration to the Lord that I didn't want to sin against him, ever. I got so sick of sinning, that the day came when I told him that if living in this body of death with a sin nature was all I had to look forward to in this life, then I would rather he take me out, because I surely knew I would be free from sinning against him in heaven. EUREKA! That was the day I chose the Lord over my own life and died to sin. That was the day the Lord opened my eyes to many scriptures that I was incapable of understanding before. It was the perfect storm of scriptures, life situations, and my despair about my Adamic nature that brought me to the new birth.

As most literature students are aware, context is important, but with the Bible, I somehow managed to pluck Romans chapter 7 out from being sandwiched between chapters 6 and 8 which describe our victory over sinning. At the time, I didn't realize that living like chapter 7 put me in contradiction to chapters 6&8. Chapter 7 is the life of the hypocrite, not a child of God. Paul plainly states in the beginning of Romans 8 verse 1 "There is therefore NOW no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (emphasis mine)

Paul clearly shows the difference between then (unredeemed) and NOW (born-again). I say clearly, but truth is, it is only clear to those who really want to see it. It wasn't until I wanted to mind the Lord more than I wanted my next breath that I could understand those verses that seemed to contradict the possibility of walking in newness of life.

I knew that each time I sinned against God, I may as well have bowed down before Satan, his great enemy, and kissed his feet. Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? I got to where I couldn't bear the slightest sin. I would go watery inside in guilt and shame, and each day brought deeper self-hatred. Yes, self-hatred is necessary for the new birth.

For me, 1 John especially kept me tripped up until I was brought to the new birth. 1 John 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" seemed to contradict I John 3:9 "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." But once again, I read 1 John 1:8 as a verse unto itself without reading it in the context of chapter 1, much less the whole book. 1 John 1:8 is addressing all those who deny we are born with a sin nature. Many preach that we are born without a sin nature. The very next verse (9) states that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." In just another two verses John goes on in chapter 2 to explain "1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:" Notice it says if any man sin. He's talking about the natural man, not saints, the sanctified, those redeemed by God.

Oh, how the Lord opened my eyes and made simple the many things that had confounded me for years. It was like a light switch had been turned on that day.

And yet even as I write this I know that the only ones who will really understand it are like the scribe in Mark 12:

28And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?

29And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

30And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

31And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

32And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:

33And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

34And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Married Life Scene From "Up!" -- posted by Momma

I'm just posting this to make Will cry like a girl.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sharpshooters! -- posted by John

Sunday afternoon, Mom, Dad, a few of my brothers and I, had target practice with our guns and bows. Actually, Dad supervised and kept Macy from getting in the way.

I had been looking forward to my mom and me having a contest. When Mom was a girl, one of her hobbies was marksmanship and she is very good. She first learned to shoot a BB gun from her granddaddy and later her father taught her to shoot shotguns. He also bought her a skeet thrower when she was a teenager. I hope it is still somewhere in Ma's stuff because I would love to try to hit clay pigeons with the shotguns! We only shoot stationary targets at home and the rifle range. She thinks it was like this one, except it didn't have a seat like that:

The contest Mom and I had was two rounds. The first round was whoever could shoot down the most cans in ten shots. The second round was whoever got the most shots closest to the bull's eye on the target with twenty shots. It was a great competition because Mom and I tied. She won the first round, and I won the second round.

Saturday, when Mom was familiarizing herself with the gun (since she hadn't shot in a while), she took down a can with her first shot, and continued to blow them away. Everybody in the family kept telling me I was going to lose because Mom is the best shot in the house. They were trying to prepare me for disappointment.

One funny thing that happened was when Mom missed several shots in a row and we realized she had forgotten that she had put her glasses on her head!

Since Mom hit the bull's eye twice, and I didn't hit it any, I thought she had won the second competition as well, but then she explained to me that our competition was whoever hit the most shots within and closest to the bull's eye. I barely beat her so it's not like I rubbed it in. Besides, I wouldn't be obnoxious about beating my mother... maybe James, but never Momma.

George got a compound bow for his birthday on September 28. James helped him learn how to use it and George just keeps getting better all the time. (James had just gotten home from work and had stripped off his work shirt, that's why he had on an undershirt in the pictures.) We take special care to stick to safety procedures when shooting compound bows because they can be very dangerous since they increase the power of the bow well beyond arm strength.

Anyway, Sunday afternoon was so much fun that we might do it again this weekend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Minerals -- posted by John, George, and Richard

The purpose of this science experiment was to learn about the properties of different minerals. The minerals were Hematite, Magnetite, Calcite, Quartz, and Talc.

Minerals are inorganic. That means they come from nonliving sources. Also, minerals exist in one phase of matter, and that is a solid.

Another thing about minerals is that they have a certain crystal shape, and you can see that under a magnifying glass or a microscope. We had the salt out so we could see that it has a repeating pattern of cubes.

We pretended to be geologists and we put each mineral on a card and did some testing.

First, we did a streak test on a piece of tile to determine if the mineral was dark or light. Then, we did a hardness test to see if the mineral was hard or soft. We scratched the mineral with a #3 pencil, then a fingernail, a coin (which happened to be a Chinese coin for the fun of it), and an iron nail. If none of these scratched it, we tested if the mineral could scratch the glass.

Another test we did was to determine if the mineral was magnetic, and we bet you can tell from the names which one was! The Magnetite looked hairy with all the magnetic pieces sticking out.

The last test we performed was the test to see if the minerals could make a gas. We placed the minerals in a centimeter of vinegar and watched the Calcite make big bubbles of carbon dioxide.

Notice all those balloons in the slide show? Mom and Sarah got those for Billy's birthday since his parents came here to the "Land of the Free" on holiday, and Billy was at home without them on his birthday. They got stars because Billy likes looking at the sky. Spencer's birthday was the next day (9/22), so we tied them around his chair. Then we tied them around George's chair on his birthday (9/28). If they can make it until tomorrow, we'll tie them around Richard's chair and those balloons will do quadruple duty! There were also about six regular helium balloons, but they only lasted the first day. It sure did make a spectacular display for Billy's birthday video conference though.

Steyn on Johnny Mercer (part 2) -- posted by Momma

We so loved this two-part tribute to the music of Johnny Mercer. Unfortunately with the three older boys working, we hardly ever have the opportunity to study a subject all together anymore.

After listening to this, Will (22) got nostalgic and requested that we all do a novel read-aloud on the deck (like the good ol' days) now that the weather has cooled off. Everyone excitedly agreed.

It's times like these that, despite all the criticism I got for homeschooling, I know it was the right thing for our family. The older children have each told me they will never forget all the wonderful things we did and learned together, and they've never felt like they missed out on anything by not going to private or government schools.

Here's part 1 in case you missed it:

Part 2:

Dumbest Generation? -- posted by Momma

A few weeks ago I had a wake-up call when Sarah Grace went to write a personal note and her handwriting looked, well, like shards of letters. Even though we value a lovely "hand," especially for women (and Grandmom and Aunt Mary's are practically perfect), Sarah's once delicate script had taken an edge, so to speak. She realized she was so out of practice with her handwriting, that her hand had "frozen up," and she had lost it! She's practicing now, but other than thank-you notes, there is hardly ever the occasion for her to write the old-fashioned way.

That's such a let-down for me because one of my favorite things as a young woman was my stationery wardrobe. I used to get in so much trouble with my mother for all the money I spent on paper! I just love the feel of fine paper and all the latest/greatest in unique cards. Unfortunately, my handwriting looks like that of a third grader, but it's not for lack of trying! Oh how I would practice, but nevertheless I think I was prevented by the sheer size of my Shaquille O'Neal hands. Still though, that never stopped me from indulging in the best of Crane.

After reading this article, I checked to make sure everybody here can perfectly write in cursive, tie their shoes, zip their jackets, use a can opener, catch a bus, plunge a toilet, unjam the garbage disposal, etc. God forbid that the children of the homeschooling sanctimommy lack in any skill. I'm kidding, I did recently find out that a couple of the little boys (no name release) didn't know their birth date or how to spell their middle name. Whoa. And oops.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Steyn on Johnny Mercer part 1

We've always meant to post our favorite homeschooling experiences, but regretfully, we haven't consistently made the effort. This morning the family thoroughly enjoyed part 1 of Mark Steyn's audio presentation on Johnny Mercer.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cheeky Monkey -- posted by Richard

My birthday is October 8 and Billy sent me a card too, but I couldn't wait to open it since George opened his. Billy calls me Cheeky Monkey. I make riddles for Billy but he doesn't get them yet. I like talking to Billy when Sarah is on AOL or Skype with him. We are buddies.



My Very Special Birthday Card -- posted by George

On September 28, I had my tenth birthday and I got a card from Billy who lives in England. The card is really cool, and I love it! It has Indiana Jones on it and Indiana Jones uses a bullwhip like me. Dr. Indiana Jones is the reason I got a bullwhip. The card is like no other card I've seen before.



Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Three Phases of Matter -- posted by John, George, and Richard

We did some science experiments to show the different phases of matter (solid, liquid, gas), by using different materials to create each phase.

First, we put seltzer water in a jar and dropped raisins in it. The raisins were heavy and went to the bottom of the jar, but the gas bubbles from the seltzer water attached to the bottom of the raisins and lifted them to the top of the water. Once the gas bubbles popped and dispersed into the air, the raisins sank to the bottom again. Then they collected gas bubbles and did it all over again. They continued to go up and down and up and down even while we were doing the other experiments.

The next experiment we did was to add vinegar to a bottle with baking soda in it. When the liquid vinegar and the solid baking soda are combined, they make carbon dioxide. When we quickly put the balloon on the bottle, it captured the air that had been displaced by the carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air.

In the next experiment we put a fizz tablet in a jar of water. The fizz tablet contains citric acid and baking soda. The water causes the citric acid and the baking soda to combine and it makes a gas. We watched the gas bubbles float to the top of the water and escape into the air.

After mixing liquids and solids to make gas, we then mixed solid and liquids to make something really fun. So much fun that we were joined by the older boys: Will, Spencer, and James. And they loved it!

This was the most exciting experiment by far, even though it was simple. All you do is add 1 tablespoon of water to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. It makes a substance that behaves like both a liquid and a solid!

We poured it in our hands as a liquid, and then when we squeezed it, it became a solid. If we just held the solid in our hands, it turned back into a liquid! We all played with it for a long time.

In the last experiment we combined two liquids and a solid to make slime. We combined Borax, water, and glue, plus three drops of food coloring. At first, it was liquid-y and could be played with like slime. Then, when it was poured into James's hand, and he kneaded it and squeezed it for about 5 minutes, it became a solid and he rolled it into a ball! It was a very bouncy ball! Mom said when it quits raining, she'll let us make more slime and balls, but that should be an outside project.





This is the bouncy ball with its little buddy:


This is Little Buddy's little buddy:



Friday, September 17, 2010

Earth is Our Favorite Planet -- posted by John, George, and Richard

To answer your question, Mr. Billy, even though Earth is obbo (Billyism) our favorite planet, because it is God's masterpiece and where he sent his only begotten son to be born and die and come back to life, we also like Pluto because it is so little and lost its status. Saturn is special for its rings. George and John like Jupiter because it is the largest. John made that one on the model. He also made Saturn. Richard made Pluto, the Sun, and Neptune. George made Uranus, Mercury, Venus, and Mars. James made Earth for us because he's good at painting. Earth is the center of the Universe.

Olé -- posted by Momma

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Our Solar System -- posted by Richard, John, and George

This is the model we made of our solar system. It's obviously not to scale, and you'll see why when you watch the Bill Nye video.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Where's M. Night Shyamalan When You Need Him -- posted by Sarah Grace

Recently, Mr Billy and I had been talking about our first Bibles, and today I went in my room to pull mine out. It's a light pink children's Bible, and I received it for my birthday when I turned eight. Today as I flipped through it, I noticed some hot pink highlighter marks. There was only one chapter highlighted, and it was Psalm 103. I have no memory of doing that, and I didn't take much notice of it at the time because I was too tickled with taking a picture to show Billy the pink highlighting eight-year-old Sally drew in her pink Bible, as I knew he'd get a kick out of it.

Later, Mom read Psalm 103, since she had seen I had highlighted it. She came to me in the kitchen with tears in her eyes--

It was the very Psalm I chose to read during my eulogy for Webb.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fun Find -- posted by Sarah Grace

This is what I found when correcting Richard's math book....

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Beyond Twitterpated -- posted by Mom

The song I sang to the top of my lungs on the way home from meeting Bill the first time:

I would regularly sing this to Bill before we were married. Have you no pride, girl.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Check Out Our Ink -- posted by Mom

We've had the pleasure of making friends with the self-proclaimed cool people at the pool. And courtesy of Eli, the coolest of pool people, we got "tats" like them! Of course as all mistakes in life should be, ours are washable.

Sarah's is a string of snakes linked together, and should have been applied to the bottom of her foot, since Jesus gave us the power to tread on serpents. Mine says "True Love" because the cool pool people love Bill's and my affection for each other. Jason said we remind him of the old couple in Titanic who peacefully get in bed together as the ship is going down. I love that so much! At first, I missed the sentiment because I got hung up on the "old couple" part but he convinced me we were like the old couple, not an old couple. So, we made up.

Unfortunately Eli's packet of tattoos weren't designed to be wholesome, but he was so good to search for the least offensive ones to offer the children. He also warned them to never get a real one. What a great Uncle Eli he is becoming!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Me Swimming -- posted by John

Here I am swimming about a month ago. Dad taught me and he said I am even better now and all I have to do is work on my stamina. Next time we go to the pool, I'll get him to video me again because I'm faster now.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pool Time -- posted by Momma

Notice Will's Capture the Flag battle wounds:

Yesterday I took the kids to the pool (Bill usually does that after work but he was going out of town), and I had several wonderful things happen to me.

First of all, every time we go to the pool the little boys want to take their schoolwork with them. They actually don't want to break away from their lessons to go! Usually John has a book he doesn't want to put down; Richard is into creative writing and he carries his pencil and story pages, which are rippled and smell of chlorine; George is into his math, and he's whipping through his book at a breakneck speed. That speaks well to the success of our homeschool, don't you think? My goal has always been to instill a love of learning in them, not just pour information in for the sake of obtaining knowledge. At least for me, information never stuck that way.

Another benefit of homeschooling is that typically children who aren't age-segregated throughout their entire schooling are much more likely to socialize comfortably with a greater variety of ages. We've noticed in mixed family social situations that the traditionally schooled kids tend to congregate together by age, and then pull away from the main group. Homeschoolers tend to prefer staying in the family groups. Yesterday I watched Will thoroughly enjoy playing catch with a toddler at the pool. In fact, he preferred to ooh and aah with him even when a rough and tumble game of Capture the Flag was on. I just loved watching it. And I'm always blessed by how well they get along with, and thoroughly enjoy, the elderly.

But the best thing to happen to me at the pool was when Bill came from his office, pulled a chair right up to mine, came forehead to forehead with me while he took my hands in his and held them to his chest. You see, he was leaving for a night in Tennessee on business, and he was already homesick. He stayed with me much too long, putting him in Chattanooga at nearly midnight, but he just couldn't pull away. We smooched a little and he lamented having to leave. As he left, I walked him to the gate and gave him a goodbye smooch-a-roo. Shortly thereafter, one of the twenty-something fellas at the pool made it a point to come over to our table all excited about how he saw us kissing and that we looked sooo in love and how awesome it was to see! Don't get me wrong, we weren't making out or anything, just sorry we had to be apart. I wonder if that young man was amazed that such old folks could still have it goin' on.

I also wonder what that fella would say if he knew Bill texted me a couple of hours later, and then emailed me when he arrived at his hotel. I got a wake-up call this morning with him telling me he made himself dream about me last night. How does he do that? I don't know-- I'm just glad he does!