Educational Philosophy


I have been doing some thinking.   Over the next few weeks, or however long it takes, I plan to include some posts on our family’s philosophy of education.  I think that this is important for us, but also for others who may be interested in what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it.

I am not an educational expert.   I am just a mom who is interested in seeing our boys grow up to be real men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.

Consider this thought:

–The greatest want of the world is the want of men,–men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.–Education, p. 57.

This goal is high.  No educational formula or philosophy can accomplish this for us.   To have a high aim is good, but in our own strength alone, we will still fail of achieving the mark.  We need more than the goal, then;  we need help to carry through what we desire.  We need prayer.

This thought, from the book Education, probably sums up in a nutshell what our goals for education should consider.

Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is need of a broader scope, a higher aim. True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come.  Education, p. 13

I believe that although we have a direction in mind of where we want to go with our family, we are learning all of the time.  We may have to update and revise our philosophy as we learn more.

So far, some books that have shaped where I want to go  are:

Education, by Ellen White

Home Grown Kids, by Raymond and Dorothy Moore

Better Late Than Early, by Raymond and Dorothy Moore

The Moores performed research in the 1970s and 80s, most of it on how children learn and what factors contribute to success and failure in learning.    Their books provide a wealth of information, both for the parent/teacher, as well as those wishing to see documentation of what they found when studying children in many different school, home, and daycare settings.    I think that the most important thing that I took away from the books that I read by the Moores was the counsel to wait for formal schooling until the child is ready, at which point they will learn much more rapidly than before they are physically, emotionally, or mentally ready.

The Moore website has information and curriculum, and quite a few articles on education as well.  For those interested in the books that Dr. Raymond Moore wrote, and his research, this information can be found on the website.

I took the following description of how the Moore Formula works from their website.  For me, it makes sense as a very practical way to ensure that we are educating our children for a life of service to God and to others.

Moore Formula
How to teach with low stress, low cost, high success and behavior

If you doubt student or teacher burnout or your own ability, join in any Moore seminar or read The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, (The Handbook). It’s not mostly from intellectual or spiritual problems, as some suggest, but from wrong habit or method. We help you avoid or cure fear, frustration, boredom, stress, pain, despair, heavy expense. Teaching should be mostly fun: relaxing, healing, inexpensive, low-stress yet successful like Tom Edison, Abe Lincoln and Christ.

After 55 years of teaching teachers and students, and managing education at all levels, we give you here and in The Handbook secrets of all the ages to avoid or cure burnout and failure, to bring success beyond normal hopes. To our knowledge, we have no failures! Even drill can be fun. Allow for individual differences, follow the principled and balanced Moore Formula, and your normal children will excel in head, hand, heart, and health, proven as it is by history, research and common sense.

1) Study from a few minutes to several hours a day, depending on the child’s maturity.
2) Manual work at least as much as study.
3) Home and/or community service an hour or so a day. Focus on kids’ interests and needs; be an example in consistency, curiosity, and patience. Live with them! Worry less about tests; we’ll help you there. With the Moore Formula, if you are loving and can read, write, count, and speak clearly, you are a master teacher.

Moores’ free-exploring curricula are largely self-teaching: Math-It, Winston Grammar, etc. Use fewer workbooks and textbooks. Generally parents are the best teachers for their children. The Smithsonian Institution’s study of twenty world-class geniuses stressed three factors: 1) warm, loving, educationally responsive parents and other adults; 2) scant association outside the family, and 3) a great deal of creative freedom under parental guidance to explore their ideas, drilling as necessary. These ingredients for genius are a mixture of head, hand, heart, and health. Mixed in with balance, and your sound example, they bring out great characters and personalities. So we encourage you to unite 1) study, 2) work (and entrepreneurship) with 3) home and community service.

First, don’t subject your children to formal, scheduled study before age 8 to 10 or 12, whether they can read or not. To any who differ, as their evidence let them read Better Late Than Early (BLTE) or School Can Wait (SCW). In addition to our basic research at Stanford and the University of Colorado Medical School, we analyzed over 8000 studies of children’s senses, brain, cognition, socialization, etc., and are certain that no replicable evidence exists for rushing children into formal study at home or school before 8 or 10.

Read and sing and play with your children from birth. Read to them several times a day, and they will learn to read in their own time-as early as 3 or 4, but usually later, some as late as 14. Late readers are no more likely to be retarded or disabled than early ones. They often become the best readers of all-with undamaged vision and acute hearing, more adult-like reasoning (cognition) levels, mature brain structure and less blocking of creative interests. Yet late readers are often falsely thought to be in need of remedial help. If you have any doubts about your youngster, have specialists check vision and hearing; possibly see a neurologist. If there are no problems, relax.

If your children are early readers, 15 or 20 minutes at a time is enough for children under ages 8 to 10. They can use a kitchen timer. Then take an hour or two for distant vision play. They can first use crayons or chalk on large paper or blackboards before developing finer muscle coordination required for pencils or detailed drawing or sewing. More on this in BLTE, SCW, and Home Grown Kids (HGK). For ultimate assurance you may want to enroll in the Moore Academy-a low-stress, low-cost, high achievement program that leads homeschooling everywhere. The program for high school students provides them with a transcript and/or diploma if desired.

When your children seem ready, play oral games with phonics, numbers, etc., but authorities from Columbia to Cal-Berkeley say avoid study pressures until they are at least 8 to 12. At that time a few minutes a day may be all that is necessary for the drill or practice in basics they need. Just as important-or more so-is to identify their interests such as bugs, gardening, cooking or baking, astronomy, cars, sewing, cottage industries, economics, history or politics.

Whatever their interests, open the door wide to knowledge. Don’t give them mostly textbooks/workbooks nor try to keep ahead of them; let them do original reading along the lines of their interests and watch them grow! A child’s motivation is more educationally productive than the most skilled teaching. And let them sample old standardized tests or manuals to lose fear of testing.

Instead of toys, give them tools (kitchen, shop, yard or desk), encyclopedias, magazines; use libraries, etc. Don’t be shocked at their interests, even if they are guns or motorcycles! From these they can learn chemistry and physics (internal combustion motors), economics, math, history, geography, languages, cultures and manual skills (at local repair shops or in home businesses). Girls are usually a year or so ahead of boys, at least until late teens.

The “antennae” sprouting from the brains of most students are blocked by mass-education’s cookie-cutter substitutes for life that destroy creativity. Kids come out uniform-sized cookies, or sausages. Better to learn history realistically by reading biographies rather than textbooks. Let creative interests expand to other learning. As they mature, they teach themselves, learn at their own initiative-as few now do!

Constructive, skill-building, entrepreneurial work builds children’s self-confidence, creativity, and self-control, and does it more quickly. It is the most dramatic and consistent cure for behavior and personality problems. If you give children authority to manage your home to the extent that they can accept responsibility, they mature rapidly and naturally. Make them officers in your home industries. There is no more certain key to happy home education-or other schooling-regardless of institutional level. We’ve seen no one fail, rebel, or burn out.

Begin small. Start your children to work when they start to walk. Add freedom as they accept responsibility. No cash allowances! Let them earn their way, helping you make or grow and sell cookies, muffins, bread, wooden toys, vegetables, or service lawns, baby-sit, etc. By 6 or 8, many can run businesses. See Minding Your Own Business (MYOB) for more than 400 cottage industries. Do comparison shopping: apples/oranges, Grapenuts/Sugar Pops, etc. (nutrition, frugality, and math lessons). Let your kids use your checking account to pay your bills. The bank corrects their “math papers.”

This begins at home and neighborhood with daily/weekly visits to needy neighbors, nursing homes, pediatric wards or other community or personal service. It makes self-centered kids self-less and moderates any tendency their businesses bring toward materialism. Family, community and church provide fruitful ways of building great-hearted children. Some schools now use service as a wholesome activity. Children with bouquets of wild flowers or crayon drawings are usually welcomed in nursing homes even when they are too young to be allowed to visit in pediatric wards.

This is the Golden Rule in practice. Our children once had a secret society (“SOS”-for Service Over Self) that specialized in secret good deeds for the aged, poor, sick, or handicapped-like washing or repairing a car, chair, or washing machine, or painting fences, shoveling snow, or weeding gardens. Great fun!

Some ask why more families don’t follow this Formula. Most parents are uncomfortable with the unconventional ideas. They teach as they were taught, unaware that such methods are responsible for many of today’s school problems. So they pay heavily for books which tie them, and their children down and burn them out. To them, we as professionals say, “It took us awhile to believe too.” Certified teachers often have the hardest times. Moore students average near the top in student achievement, sociability, and behavior and at low stress and cost. Carefully read The Handbook and view the professional HGK video, read MYOB, then Home Made Health, Home Built Discipline and BLTE. You will have both security and joy!

GENTLE WARNING: Properly done, home education offers low-stress, low-cost, and high achievement and sociability from a balance of study, work, and service. Few curricula do this!
Insist on proven research and experience. Patiently study methods and materials before you send your check or credit card number to anyone. Question closely all testers, lecturers, and entrepreneurs. Insist they prove their quality. Homeschool leaders like those in pro-life and anti-porn fall into two groups: 1) Selfless laymen and professionals and officials who sacrifice money and time to elevate homeschooling to new heights; and 2) A few lacking professional background or ethics, or both, who urge stressful, costly school-at-home materials, programs, or services on unwary parents who then burn out and come to loathe homeschool. Some fought homeschooling until the 1980’s. Some authors, editors, and speakers know little of research, and persuasively misuse Scripture to convey an image of a bigoted Christ to secular friends. They are homeschools’ most divisive influence. For your sake and for your friends’ sake, study to know the difference.

STUDY (Daily)
Warm responsive parents who know their children’s interests. Drill to develop their phonics, writing, and math when the children are ready in senses, brain, and reasoning. More association with you than with peers.

Encourage them to freely explore their ideas with few restrictions by workbooks and school methods, reaching out as interests expand.

WORK (Daily)
Children combine household chores (from the time they learn to walk) with home industries in which they share management. They learn math, etc. by earning money and accounting for it.

They also become well and positively socialized as they buy and sell. And they build character as they work and serve.

(On a regular basis at variable times)

Service begins at home and in the neighborhood, with daily or weekly visits to nursing homes, pediatric wards or other ventures in community or personal service.

NOTE: The time you devote to study, work, or service should depend upon children’s maturity and interests. Teens are easiest of all with Moores’ Formula.

This is the formula.  I am currently part of  a Yahoo group centered around the Moore Formula of education.  It’s a good place to find others who are trying to educate by the Moore Method.  I “met” a lady on our group a few years ago, who has now schooled her two boys all the way through high school by following the recommendations of the Moores, and she reports that her sons are doing well in their chosen fields of college study.  She sings the praises of having allowed her sons to learn at their own pace and at their own interest levels.

I believe that our children can expect to have success too, and that we can help them.   Part of that is learning how.


Buckwheat-Ginger Cookies (Vegan and Gluten-free)

The other day my eldest son, Action A, asked me a question.  “Mommy, why don’t you ever make cookies?”

Me:  “Huh?  I don’t know; I guess I just never think about it.”

Honestly, when I began to think about it, he was right.  I haven’t made any cookies in a long time, and the reason is pretty simple–I often am at a loss for what to make in the way of baked goods, since for him, we do gluten-free cooking and baking.   And vegan.   Many of my attempts at baking have been a reasonably good success (meaning my family eats them, and seems to like them), but cookies are a little tricky to make gluten-free/vegan.  They typically taste dry to me.  I generally stick to no-bake creations, like balls you can make with peanut butter and honey and carob powder.   But, cookies?   That got me thinking…

I would classify our family as a low-budget gluten free family.  Meaning, I don’t often splurge for the high-dollar specialty flours.  I have, by trial and error, gotten into kind of a system of making baked goods with a combination of rice flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour, and corn flour, all of which we grind ourselves in the grain attachment of our Vita-mix blender.   We eat GF out of necessity, and buy bulk foods out of necessity too, since our crew are heavy eaters!  So, we usually buy a 50-lb bag of rice, millet, popcorn, and a 25-lb bag of buckwheat.   This supply will last us for several months.   I’ve found that by grinding the grains ourselves, we can eat quite well, and we don’t have to pay so much, because eating GF can get to be pretty pricey with all of the specialty items.

But back to the cookie story…

I started to look through what ingredients I had on hand and what recipes I could come up with.  A friend of mine just loaned me a copy of the Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, so I thumbed through that book and came across the recipe that I decided to try.

images allergy

Buckwheat Ginger Cookies

2/3 cup agave nectar or honey

1/3 cup Spectrum Spread or canola oil

1 1/2 Tbs fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups white buckwheat flour

3/4 cups unroasted buckwheat groats

1/3 cup tapioca starch flour or arrowroot (I actually used non-GMO cornstarch)

3/4 tsp baking soda (I subbed Featherweight baking powder as I didn’t have soda.  It worked fine.)

3/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the agave nectar or honey, spread or oil, ginger, and water in a blender and process for 3 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.  Add the honey mixture and mix just until combined.

Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until light brown and firm.  Remove to tacks to cool.   Serve immediately or store in a paper bag.


Now my notes:   I used some organic sugar in place of some of the honey, and added a little water to compensate.  The batter, when made according to the above recipe, was kind of runny.  I placed a couple of spoons on the cookie sheet and they spread out fairly thin.  So, I added probably a half-cup more of flour to thicken the batter.  The cookies made with the runny batter turned out more crispy, while the other ones were more soft and cake-like.  In retrospect, I would probably have just let them spread out and not have added the extra flour.  It just depends on how you like your cookies–soft or crispy.

The buckwheat groats are pictures in the measuring cup above.  They can be bought bulk at any health food store.  Adding them whole to the recipe was unusual for me.  But, they added a pleasant crunch, sort of like nuts.  We liked the texture they created.    It should be noted that there are two kinds of buckwheat groats available–the unroasted, and Kasha, which is toasted groats.  The Kasha gives a very strong roasted flavor that some people like.  This recipe uses the unroasted groats, which are milder in flavor and lighter in color.   I personally like the unroasted ones;  they make good biscuits, too.

The general consensus was five votes for this recipe.  We all liked the cookies, and I will make these again.  They are only mildly gingery.  I am actually not a huge ginger fan, but I think that they could use a bit more the next time.

With a glass of cold soymilk or almond milk, these really hit the spot!  And I’m hoping that my Mommy ratings will improve…


Helping Hands


Service Day

In our home, we try to follow the Moore Formula for education.  Briefly, this entails balancing work/study/service in approximately equal amounts.    It also involves delaying formal academics until developmental readiness is demonstrated.    But, I’d like to mainly focus on the above balance of the school time.

We have all boys, so I figured out pretty early on in our schooling journey that they simply could not be forced to sit for long periods at the table doing any kind of activity.  Even “fun” stuff (what I thought would be fun) drove our eldest to restlessness and a need to get outside.   School like I learned in had to be scrapped for a new approach, and one that more realistically addressed the needs of a very restless boy.    More on that in a later post.

I like the idea of balancing the education.  Another recommendation I try to keep in mind is to give equal time for book work and practical work.  While our boys are still fairly young, we can combine the work and service into one area, usually.  Doing jobs at home really is service for the family, so it kind of kills two birds with one stone.  We normally have a rotating list of jobs that has to be done before “school” time, or should I say, “table time” with the books.  This includes simple tasks, such as sweeping, laundry, vacuuming, making beds, etc.  If the boys are done early, it’s nice for them to also go outside for a few minutes  before they sit down.  Getting done early doesn’t often happen, though.  So many distractions…

We also do active service jobs around the home in the afternoon.  Yard patrol behind the dogs, bringing in wood for the wood stove is a daily job currently, and just whatever we can think of that would be useful.  It’s fun to involve Dad if he’s here, too.   He’s been doing some wood chipping here lately, so the boys enjoy loading up the mulch in their dump trucks and dumping it.  We still need to work on getting it around the roses, and not on them!   But, we’re learning!

That said, I found myself wondering what kinds of service projects we could do that would actually be serving someone else.  Serving at home is important, but I don’t want to just make that all, because it’s kind of self-focused.   The problem is, that I couldn’t think of anything that would really be a fit for us.  With three rambunctious boys who bounce energy off each other like negative electrons, the thought of tackling any kind of project seemed daunting for me.  I had visions of our service activity turning into a wildly fun activity, but involving quite a bit of boy-control, and then, who would we be helping that way?   I really couldn’t come up with anything, so I just let the idea go for the time.

Then, Grandpa had the idea of involving one boy at a time with some work he volunteers with, which is food distribution at our church’s community service center.   That has actually worked out quite well so far.  One boy with one grandpa is a good ratio.  They get to see how the good baskets are put together, and the job that our boys get to do is to help push the carts and open the doors for the people.  Not a big job, but a doorkeeper can be a very important job.  The boys really look forward to helping Grandpa, because they like him so much.  And the work is fun.

Since we have to wait for the two or so hours for whichever boy is helping to get done, I was hit with the idea of looking for a project that the other two boys and I could do during that time.    Just to see what they would need at our local nursing home, we stopped in today.  I spoke with the activity director, and she said that she thought that two homeschoolers and a mom could possibly be a big help to their activity program.  That was an open door, maybe.  Today, the activity was making butter, and she said if we wanted to we could stay and help.  Why not?

The boys, (Action A and Little Acorn) at first, were uncharacteristically shy.  They handed us water bottles filled with cream and told us to shake.  So we shook!  And shook and shook.  And talked to the residents, and shook some more.  When the residents tired of shaking, we shook two.  And traded, shook,  and talked.  Little Acorn warmed up more readily than Action A, but they both seemed to relax the more we shook.  We shook those bottles for over an hour before any butter started to form.  It was neat to see the churning process happen, since we’d never tried that before.  But I think that the interaction between the young and the old is good for both.

 In all honesty, the boys were kind of scared to go into the nursing home and interact with elderly people that they did not know, and I knew that it would not be in their comfort zone.   It’s probably not in too many people’s comfort zone, really.  But, that is the service:   helping because there’s a need, and not because it’s our favorite thing.   But, I felt good when we left, because when the activity director said good-bye, she said that she would see us again, instead of the “maybe” she gave us when we first arrived.   And, as we headed out to the van, the boys both expressed that they did have fun, although their arms were tired from all that shaking!

Disclaimer–In sharing this, and anything else I share about our lives, I do not do it to toot our own horns.  We are struggling to learn the best way to learn, and anything that we come across that has been successful for us, I share so that maybe someone else will try something new too.    Anyone who knows us, knows that we are a very ordinary family.  No super homeschoolers here, just regular people who sometimes find something worth sharing!    🙂

Mother’s Influence


I wanted to share a few gems that I found that have reminded me about how important our work as mothers is. I found so many that have encouraged me. Just a few…

“Next to God, the mother’s power for good is the strongest known on earth.”  1

“The tenderest earthly tie is that between the mother and her child.  The child is more readily impressed by the  life and example of the mother than by that of the father, for a stronger and more tender bond of union unites them.  2

“The mother’s influence never ceases.  As she looks upon her little ones growing up around her, well may she ask, what is the great object of their education?  Is it to be admired and flattered by the world?  Is it to imitate and practice the fashions existing in this age?  The only safe course of training is for parents to teach their children obedience to themselves, which is the first lesson toward teaching them the higher law,–the claims which God has upon them.

It is impossible to estimate the power of a praying mother’s influence.  3

These were just a few excerpts from larger works that have served to inspire me again to do the work that really, only I can do.  That is quite sobering to me, yet liberating too, in the sense that, I don’t have to wait for anyone else to do for my boys what I can do.  God would not have given me these three particular boys unless He knew that, along with His help, I could be a right influence for them.    This does not exclude the father’s work; it’s just that we as mothers need to remember that sometimes we expect our husbands to be more like what we should be.   Both roles are very important.   But, knowing that our influence as a mother can be more tender and close than anyone else, it should really bring us to our knees!  When I read that, I realized how important it is for me to stay focused on what God wants me to do in the lives of my boys.  We only have the children with us for a short time period, and if I let myself get distracted by everything that comes along demanding my attention, I will wake up one day and be sorry.  Practically, for me, that means passing by some activities that seem innocent enough, but that take my time away, and my mind away from my family and our goal to raise the boys for eternity.

Another promise that gives me hope is knowing that my only hope is in God.  I have to ask for help, though.  The promise that is at the top of my blog is a promise that I cling to.  And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.  Isaiah 54:13.

I listened to a talk this week, and although I couldn’t find the exact quote to cite, it stuck with me.  “As goes the mother, so goes the home. ”  If I want to have a peaceful home, it has to start with me!

Lord, help me!

1.  Good Health, March, 1880

2.  Testimonies for the Church, Vol 2, p 536

3.   Good Health, July, 1880

Tennessee Snow Day

Here’s the dilemma that home-schooled families face:  when we get a good snow fall, which is a rare thing where we live, and all county schools in our area get to stay home and play, what do the home-schoolers do?  We’re already at “school”, so there’s no danger of the inclement weather.  After all, we can have school any day of the week, any time, whatever the weather.

We just decided to seize the day this time, and called a snow day for ourselves.  Why not?  We haven’t had snow here in forever, and who knows when we’ll have more.

Here are just a few random shots from our play out doors.  Our boys don’t generally pick up the regular snow toys–it’s dollies (hand trucks), bicycles, brooms, and dump trucks around here.   The dogs had just as much fun romping and frolicking in the snow–and chomping their share of the stuff too!

We did try the maple syrup snow candy, the Little House in the Big Woods way, and did not end up with the same kinds of crystals that we did from just the jug in the fridge.  We boiled the syrup to thicken slightly, then drizzled it over the snow.  What we ended up with was some that crystallized into hard, brittle candy, and some that was softer, and melted in your mouth, like maple sugar, only harder and chewier.  All of it was quite yummy and no one refused it just because it didn’t turn out like the surprise candy we “made”.    As a side note, because we’re perpetual learners, we couldn’t resist the temptation to look at the different crystals under the microscope.  The sugary ones looked very amber-colored and sparkly (sp), basically like miniature versions of the huge crystals from the jug.  It’s fun to learn and see how things work.  We shared our first creations with some other friends who also home school, and they were impressed.  True to the learning attitude they possess, they asked lots of questions about how we made the candy.  So, now, another family has a little research project to figure out, and I’m sure that the rewards for their labor will be just as sweet…

Day of Delight

If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath; from doing thy pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honor Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:  Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob, thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.  –Isaiah 58:13, 14

Day is dying.  Shadows are lengthening.  The snow is fading, and we are snug inside.

The boys are quietly putting together an animal puzzle, singing softly.

The work is done, the house as clean as it will get this week.  🙂

In fact, all work is put aside for another time.

Time for candles.

Time for family stories.

Time for God.

Time for rest.

Sabbath is here.

Serendipity–a sweet surprise


noun ˌser-ən-ˈdi-pə-tē

Definition of SERENDIPITY
: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this

We had a sweet surprise yesterday!  A Science lesson, unplanned.  A serendipity!

It happened innocently enough.  We had corn bread muffins, and my sweet tooth kicked in and asked for maple syrup.  Mmmm…we don’t often indulge with maple syrup on corn bread, but we did have some left from some friends whose family operates a maple syrup business in the Upper Peninsula of MI.  Since we try very hard to dole out the pure syrup sparingly, we have had the big bottle in the fridge for probably two years!  Just an inch or less remained on the bottom, and we noticed that much of the syrup had solidified.

Everyone begged for some “ice”.  But the chunks were too big to come out!  So, Banana Man Dad busted up the chunks and we poured the rest of the syrup into a smaller jar.  Then, we all got a piece!

At first, we were consumed in the yumminess of the maple candy we had accidentally made, but then we noticed the crystals!  The pictures really don’t do them justice, but we found all sizes of perfectly-shaped crystals.  I thought they were just beautiful!  I tried and tried to take a good shot, but you can’t see the shapes too well.  But I was struck with the fact that even in very ordinary items, like food, we see God’s amazing handiwork.  He could have left our world all boring and plain, but, no–He scatters diamonds in the sky and sprinkles our food with gemstones!

So incredible!

If you want to make your own, you can follow our plan, and leave your syrup in the fridge for a couple of years, or you can accelerate the process by boiling the syrup, then pouring it, hot, onto ice or snow.  So I’ve heard, anyway.  Since we have just been showered, or should I say, dumped on, with about five inches of snow, we might just have to try the latter method.  Laura Ingalls-style–maple sugar candy!


I was thinking today about goals and direction.  It is easy for me to lose my direction and just get sucked into the daily repetition, until I wonder where I’m going at all!

So, I’ve decided to make some goals.  Personal goals mostly, but some school/family goals too.   I wanted to share a couple.  I think that me writing them down and “publishing” them, so to speak, will help to keep them before me.

I think that the more people you share your goals with, the more likely you are to keep pushing on to reach them.   And making yourself accountable to others, especially family members, can help, although your family tends to nag you a bit more.  🙂  I still remember when I told my boys that I wanted to meet the goal of getting to bed at a certain time every night.  I made a little incentive prize for myself too, for seven nights of success.  Every night for a long time (and it did take me a long time to get seven consecutive “wins”), the boys reminded me, and every morning, they eagerly checked my chart to see if I had placed a sticker on the date.    And when I did it, the boys were truly more excited for me than I was for myself, because I had won the prize!   We need to tap into this support!  And, parents, are we as excited to see our children succeed at their trials as they are at ours?  Something to consider…

So…goals I am working on currently:

1)  To improve at my piano playing, and to work at it five days each week.  This won’t be too hard–improvement, that is, because I’ve spent years of letting that skill go rusty.  I see no reason why I can’t improve and work on two hymns a week.  My parents had me take piano lessons when I was young, and I quit on a whim, and never took it up again.  😦  I was told that I would regret it, and I do, but at the time I let teen-age emotions rule.    If I can even do 15-20 minutes a day, I believe that I can eventually master some songs.  No one is too old to learn!  Check out this link:

2)  Memorize more scripture  This is a rather vague goal, but I am making it a personal as well as a family and school goal.    The boys and I have started with the book of James.  Action A has already memorized 23 verses of the first chapter, and I am struggling to keep up with him.  Little Acorn is plugging away as well, and Ambulance Man is trying, although since he’s not reading so much yet, he’s at a disadvantage.  Maybe I should say that I’m at the disadvantage, since it’s kind of up to me to make sure that he gets the verses.  Actually, it just hit me that me helping Ambulance Man could really be more advantageous to me if I let it.  Why not let working with him serve as review time for me?  You never really lose when you take time to teach others…

Banana Man and I were really impressed by a talk that we listened to recently about the history of scripture memorization.   For many years, people just expected that their children would learn scripture, and they did.  And it helped them.  Consider the ancient Hebrew families, who had their children memorize whole chapters from Deuteronomy as soon as they could speak!  And the members of the early Christian church, as well as Jesus, our example.  How did he learn to fight against the enemy?  “It is written”–always!   At his mother’s knee, when He was a child–Jesus learned the scriptures.    And of course, the Waldensian Christians of the early centuries.  Those parents knew that a martyr’s death awaited many of them, and that their Bibles would very likely be burned or taken away.  So they taught the children to learn whole books of the Bible, and when the Bibles were burned and the parents gone, the children could still come together and rewrite the Bible from their memories.

You can listen to the talk here:  I highly recommend listening,

And, if you think that memorizing the Bible is too hard (and it is hard work), let yourself be inspired by this promise:

“Parents as well as children will receive benefit from this study.  Let the more important passages of Scripture connected with the lesson be committed to memory, not as a task, but as a privilege.  Though at first the Memory be defective, it will gain strength by exercise, so that after a time you will delight thus to treasure up the words of truth.”  –Child Guidance, page 511

And, memorization is another thing that you’re never too old to do!  In fact, the more you learn, the sharper your brain will become!  In the talk linked above, the presenter spoke of a lady in her 90’s who felt like her memory was slipping.  So, she decided to start memorizing the Bible.  She memorized the whole book of Revelation!  So, any of us who are younger than her really have no excuse, do we?

Well, naturally, I have other goals as well.  But, these are two that I want to focus on for now, and the order that I placed them in does not equal order of importance.

More thoughts later…

Random Thoughts–feeling in the bloggy mood again!


I have been very quiet for the last month or more on this blog!    Holiday celebrations may have taken a little attention away, but as I reflect back, I find that mostly sickness has stolen most of my attention for way too long!  Seems like ever since before Thanksgiving, someone in this house has been either coming down with something, or trying to get over it, with the latter taking most of the time!  I am pleased to report that currently, everyone in this house is bug-free, and how good it feels to have everyone back in the land of health!

We do take our health for granted, don’t we?  Every day now when I wake up and don’t have to think about a sore throat, headache, or anything hurting, it’s kind of refreshing!

So, with the holidays behind and the new year ahead, we have launched into another school semester!  We got off to a good start, trying to catch up a little after being so sick for so long, and then, just when we had gotten into a pretty good routine, we decided to take a little break.  Not from learning, just from “schooly” school.

We participated for a couple of days in Pigeon Forge’s Wilderness Wildlife Week, to have a chance to learn in different ways.   They have some neat classes for adults and kids, but our boys mostly enjoyed the classes especially for kids.  We did a class about bear biologists, where the kids got to act out how they would track, tag, and examine hibernating bears and their cubs.  The kids measured, weighed, tranquilized, examined, and recorded many observations about the bears.  I found that they were very engaged in this kind of learning–very hands-on.

We attended several other wilderness classes and I think the other favorites were the old-time mountain instrument demos.  Action A (and Grandpa) got to try their hands at the wash-tub bass, and we all got to try to play the washboard.   Kind of interesting “instruments”.   One musician gave our boys an impromptu lesson in playing the autoharp, and another showed them the basics of banjo-picking.  Of all the classes we attended, these hands-on lessons really “taught” more than the formal lectures.  I know this, because the day after, Action A casually told me that playing the banjo is as easy as 1-2-3 steps, and with these, you can play hundreds of songs.  Exactly what the musician told him.  When there’s an interest, the info will be retained!

And I’m constantly learning about how my boys learn.  It reminds me of a quote about Christianity I once read that I really like.  “Preach the gospel at all times; use words when necessary.”    I have adapted it to fit learning, especially home-learning.  Learn at all times; use books when necessary.  You never stop learning, especially when you’re a boy, but trying to stuff learning into them through lectures and overuse of books does tend to make a couple of my boys tune out.   I’m glad that we “tuned in” this week, and that Grandpa, Daddy, and some other homeschooling friends got to have fun while learning.