Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weary in Well Doing

I have started planning for next school year and felt really tired today. There have been several ways the Lord has called me to help others in the past two months, taking time away from my planning. The books have been arriving and piling up, making me feel discouraged. I prayed for encouragement, and it came in the most special way.

After I spent about an hour planning, I left my room to get a drink and looked across the hall to our "classroom." There was Bruster on the floor with a book, "oohing" and "aahing." I asked him what he was doing. He said, "I found the science book for next year and just couldn't wait." He was already reading the lessons on his own and was excited about the prospect of the study on Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day by Jeannie Fulbright. For the next fifteen minutes or so, he kept pointing out pictures and activities in the text, telling me he could not wait to read more about this or to do that. Then, he said the sweetest thing. "I know we will do all the good stuff, Mom. School is really fun with you."

The Lord is so sweet. His will is so perfect. I was reminded in that moment that my work is not in vain and that it is not all about those lesson plans. Home schooling is the opportunity to disciple our children from birth to adulthood, experiencing the blessings of a close relationship with each of them. May I do as Galatians 6:9 says, and "not grow weary in well doing, for in due season, we will reap, if we faint not."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Murphy's Law

Anything that can go wrong... will, right? That's how it felt around here this week.

First, the right side of the kitchen sink developed a leak. We decided that this was not the worst thing that could happen and we would just use the other side until we could get the leak remedied. This worked... until the left side started leaking too. Then, a tiny pin-hole developed in the spout. Now water was spraying out over the sink onto the counter and floor. But wait... there's more. The dishwasher stopped working and started spewing soapy bubbles. My kitchen was becoming a slip-n-slide. After cleaning up the water mess, I tried to plug in my crock pot and start dinner... no juice. The outlet was as dead as a doornail. I decided to leave the kitchen until the repairMEN could come, so I sat down at the computer to get some work done. Now, the printer would not print. Soon after which, we found out that two walls in our house were in need of repair. With our house for sale, this made me want to scream.

None of this is the worst that could happen, but all of it compounded made me feel ill. I began to worry if our very old house on a very busy street will ever sell. I began to wrestle with the flesh, wanting to control these seemingly out-of-control situations. But instead, I took a quick retreat to my room where I have my quiet time. After time in the Word and in prayer, my frustrations were eased as the Spirit reminded me of what all I do have.

This blog is dedicated to those very things. First, I have the Lord, Jesus Christ, who is my all in all. He has saved me from my sin and called me His own. He has given me a faithful husband who loves me unconditionally. I have the blessing of two sons who are immeasurable in value. I have the joy of being with them everyday, experiencing the Lord at work in their lives. You cannot buy that.

So, the next time Mr. Murphy comes knocking at my door, I pray for the strength to tell him, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:15-17

Writer's Workshop

We love to write. Each day, Monday through Thursday, we devote thirty minutes to the writing process. We always try to be as professional as possible, brainstorming, drafting, editing and re-writing until we decide a project is ready to be published or must die.

At least once per year, each boy completes one project and publishes his story, including illustrations. This year, we submitted their best projects to the Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest hosted by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Bruster wrote a beautiful story about a boy named Jack and a girl named Lucy. While fishing in the Pacific, they are caught in a terrible storm and shipwreck on a magical island. Though he is not fully aware of this, if you read closely and keep in mind that a seven-year-old wrote it, you will see a parallel to the Christian life.

BT wrote about his most special lady... his grandma whom he calls "Nohnie." In real life, Nohnie is paralyzed, the results of polio. In Ben's mind, she is a super-hero who uses her prosthetics and wheelchair for the good of society. He wrote this with the direct intent of honoring his very-grand grandmother.

Each story is posted in a slideshow below.

Learning from Mistakes

At breakfast this morning, we all reminisced about our “early” days in birding… way back in the fall of 2006. As we discussed our favorite moments, I recalled some of the boys first attempts at identifying birds...

One morning while I was washing dishes, BT (6-years-old at the time) came running from the classroom (which is in on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen), yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! I just saw a Scarlet Macaw in the back yard.” I knew it could not be a macaw, but, in case we needed to call the folks at Guinness, I went to the classroom window and took a look. To Ben’s disappointment, it was only a Northern Cardinal.

A few days later, Bruster (5-years-old at the time) yelled, “Mommy! Mommy! I see a Roadrunner.” As we live in Georgia, I was once again very doubtful, but, to be fair, I took a look anyway. Not a roadrunner… a Brown Thrasher (our state bird, btw).

As I told them these stories today, they laughed, and we all recognized how far we have come in two years. I also remembered that I have been meaning to put together a "life list" for them. This is a record that most birders keep to help them remember their sightings. So, from mounds of check lists scattered here and there, I have compiled the following list of birds the boys have successfully identified. It is not as detailed as I would like, as I have omitted when and where the birds were spotted, but it is an accurate list of what they have seen in the last two years.

As I typed this list and saw how long it is, I realized how much little kids can accomplish when we encourage them and give them the grace to learn from their mistakes.

Our Life List since 2006:

American Bittern

American Coot

American Crow

American Goldfinch

American Kestrel

American Redstart

American Robin

American White Pelican

American Woodcock


Bald Eagle

Baltimore Oriole

Bank Swallow

Barn Owl

Barn Swallow

Barred Owl

Belted Kingfisher

Black Vulture

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-headed Vireo

Blue Jay

Blue-winged Teal


Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Brown Pelican

Brown Thrasher

Canada Goose


Cape May Warbler

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Wren

Cedar Waxwing

Cerulean Warbler

Chimney Swift

Chipping Sparrow


Cliff Swallow

Common Grackle

Common Loon

Common Yellowthroat

Cooper's Hawk

Dark-eyed Junco

Double-crested Cormorant

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Wood Peewee

Eurasian Collared-Dove

European Starling

Field Sparrow

Fish Crow

Golden Eagle

Golden-winged Warbler

Grasshopper Sparrow

Gray Catbird

Great Blue Heron

Great-crested Flycatcher

Great Egret

Green Heron

Great Horned Owl

Green-winged Teal

Hairy Woodpecker

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Warbler

House Finch

House Sparrow

Indigo Bunting

Kentucky Warbler


Laughing Gull

Least Flycatcher

Little Blue Heron

Loggerhead Shrike

Louisiana Waterthrush


Mourning Dove

Muscovy Duck

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Cardinal

Northern Flicker

Northern Harrier

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Parula

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Northern Shoveler

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Orchard Oriole



Palm Warbler

Peregrine Falcon

Pied-billed Grebe

Pileated Woodpecker

Pine Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Purple Finch

Purple Martin

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-winged Blackbird

Ring-billed Gull

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Rock Pigeon

Salmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Scarlet Tanager

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Spotted Sandpiper

Summer Tanager

Swan Goose

Tennessee Warbler

Tree Swallow

Tufted Titmouse

Turkey Vulture

Wild Turkey

Wilson's Snipe

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-eyed Vireo

White-throated Sparrow


Wood Duck

Wood Thrush

Worm-eating Warbler

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-crowned Night-heron

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Year for the Birds, Part II

Birding really has become a passion in the Hays Home School. Our boys collect Audubon plush toy birds which contain accurate sound recordings that play when squeezed. I thought these might annoy me at first, but to my surprise, the sixty-something birds in the collection have become a part of the family.
The boys have assigned each bird a name, birth date, husband/wife, and children. They are residents of one of four states in "Birdieland" and hold different responsibilities within the nest. This year we also studied the founding of America, the Constitutional Convention, and the United States Government. In response to their studies, the boys created a "birdie" government for their plush toys, complete with a president, vice president, and members of Congress.
They began by writing a Constitution with a BILL of rights (pun intended). Their Legislative Branch is divided into two houses, the Senest and the Bird House of Representatives. They write "birdie bills" that must be passed by a majority and sent to the President for approval or to be vetoed.
They have held formal elections, even involving the children of our local home school association. They wrote and delivered campaign speeches and organized a mock election for their friends. Their president is a ring-necked pheasant named Pheasy. His slogan.... Pheasy for Prezzy, and he is a Republibird, not a Tweetycrat btw.
The final project was to create a journal of their work. I have posted pictures in a slide show.