Homeschooling TO-DO list

My homeschooling to-do list a couple of months ago looked like this:

-to BUY: nature notebooks, slate/chalk for cursive practice, ABC letters for the boys?

-copywork selections (Bible, poetry, literature, hymns? history?)
-narration plan
-theme verse/passage memory cards
-select picture study artists/paintings
-new memory verses
-prepare timeline cards
-pairing-up plan for older kids/little girls?
-gratitude/thankfulness family plan: each mealtime? around the table, one thing? three?
-nature study ideas?
-classical musicians?
-daily school checklist/schedule
-cursive plan?
-poetry selections?
-Isaias-K work? (*continue Super Star speech)
-Isaac- 1st grade work?
-math lesson plan (daily)
-english lesson plan (2x/week)
As to-do lists always do, this one grew to about three times this size, as I broke down general items into more specific items and added those on there, too.

I've had snippets of time with which to plan for this coming year, and Mark is taking a day off this week for me to finish up. Finishing up in one day would be a miracle, since the big ones, and the not-so-fun ones, in my opinion (Math lesson plan and English lesson plan) are still sitting on that list. But that's okay! I'll get done what I am able to get done and we'll roll with it. :) I imagine we're going to have several kinks to work out of my "schedule" in the first couple of weeks (months!) anyway, with two very busy toddlers in the mix!

We start school next week and I'm going to kick off September by filling you in on all the new things we're doing, so stay tuned.

A worthwhile read for mothers with young children and messy houses

[Oh, that's you? The one with the little noisy ones and the cluttered house? Thought so. Me, too!]

This was just what I needed this morning.

As a matter of fact, I am going to print this out and post it into the front of my journal so that I can read it *frequently*.

Again, head over to Ann's. It's the first letter she posts. The one that begins with the words

Dear Ann,

All of my chicks have left the nest...

You can click on the link above to read it.

And then smile at your own mess and go laugh and play with your children. They are so precious.

Update on our chickens

It has been a long time since I've talked about our backyard chickens. The little chicks we got back in March have all grown up and are beginning to happily lay eggs for us.

Here they all are, all nine of them, with one of their doting farm girls:

{From L to R: Missy, Millie, Della, Honey, Polly, Bawk-Bawk, Lucy, Flora, and Elizabeth.}

Audra is completely unafraid of the chickens, and the picture above is a typical sight. Either that or her toddling after them in the yard, babbling and patting their feathers. She's pretty cute.

Ella is responsible for the care of our chickens. In addition to talking to them, singing to them, and holding/petting them, she feeds them and gives them water, collects their eggs, and lets them out each morning. [Mark cleans the coop, for now, and puts them in for the night during the summer months since they go to bed after Ella does.]

Flora is our only hen left from our initial flock three years ago. It took some serious work to get them all acclimated to one another. I thought we were going to have to get rid of Flora because she was such a bully.

We kept easing her into it. First we put the box of chicks inside of Flora's coop so that while she could hear them and get accustomed to their noises and presence, she didn't have access to them. (The box was covered.) For the next phase we put up chicken wire in the coop, separating it right down the middle. Eventually we removed the wire and then watched very carefully to make sure that they were all doing okay together. Other than a few early squabbles, they seemed to be fine. Flora just kept herself apart from the other birds for the most part, and they kept their distance from her, too. She was a little fierce when they all went into their house to roost at night, but Mark helped a little with the arrangement and it was all going smoothly.

Until the younger birds began laying, that is.

Then Flora began picking on (literally) Honey whenever she sat in the nesting boxes. We had to remove Honey from the flock in order for her to heal, and once she healed up we placed Flora into her own area (think of it as a long time-out) and now we're mulling over what to do. We don't want Flora back in with the other birds if she'll just bully them. I think we're hoping that once they all start laying and get into the groove of it, she'll realize it's a lost cause to keep bullying each of them whenever one is in the nesting box and she'll give up.

Anyway~ it's fun to be getting eggs again, although the eggs themselves are still super tiny.

I maintain that chickens are the easiest pets, ever. They're very tame and gentle with the kids and our kids love them in return. AND they give us fresh eggs, which is of course why we have them.

Oh, and I was so happy this year that I was finally able to get some Buffs, because I've always wanted some. I think Buffs are a pretty bird (as far as chickens go) *and* I had heard they were calm birds, so I thought they'd be perfect for our kids.

Wouldn't you know it, though, but my favorites this year are our black hens. (If I remember right they're Australorps?) They are very docile (moreso even than the Buffs) and I think that's a good quality to have in a backyard chicken.

Okay... I'm done with my chicken ramblings...

Please do chime in on any advice you may have for our Flora-situation, or your favorite breed so far for backyard chickens!


These are powerful words about friendship. Please read them.

Ann's words reminded me all over again about the power of word and deed when relating to women.

It made me grateful for the wonderful women God has woven into my life, and it made me want to treasure them, and to exhibit the same kind of love and faithfulness that Ann's friend showed to her when she made her that promise of friendship.

Summer favorites

I'm interrupting my break to give you some of Ella's favorite picks from her summer reading list, as a follow up to this post, and just in case your girls are desperate for some reading material before school starts back up again. :)

Baby Island (Ella loved this book, which is really fun, because I remember being equally enamored with this book when I was a young girl!)
The Year of Miss Agnes

We own Sydney Taylor's gem All-of-a-Kind Family, but this summer we discovered some other books in the series:
All of a Kind Family Downtown
More All-Of-A-Kind Family
and All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown.

Are you familiar yet with the Sisters In Time series? Ella previously read Sarah's New World: The Mayflower Adventure (1620), but this summer she also read:
Grace and the Bully: Drought on the Frontier (1819)
Rebekah in Danger: Peril at Plymouth Colony (1621)
Emma's Secret: The Cincinnati Epidemic (1832)
and Maggie's Dare: The Great Awakening (1744).

Another great series for girls is the Daughters of the Faith series. Last year we purchased two of these books for Ella (Almost Home and The Tinker's Daughter, which is the story of Mary Bunyan (daughter of John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress.)

This summer she read these books from that same series:
Shadow of His Hand
Ransom's Mark
Courage to Run
and The Captive Princess

I read one of the above books, too. I asked Ella to choose her favorite from the Daughters of the Faith series so that I could read it, and she chose Ransom's Mark, so I can vouch for the quality of this particular book, and all of the books in the series are written by the same author (Wendy Lawton).