Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday Art Class

We had Art Class yesterday afternoon. This week, I did two lessons from Artistic Pursuits, K-3, Book 1 for the boys' class. Now, these boys are 4th -5th graders, but the K-3 book has fun projects that introduce art concepts, so as in many situations when you homeschool - just disregard the grade designation on the book if it fits your purposes!!! We talked about FORM as opposed to SHAPE, and created 3-D paper sculptures of animals. Note to self - make a sample of such projects before class! We started out using construction paper, but it was too flimsy for this project, so we had to discard the creations halfway through and start over with colored card stock, which worked much better. We did use construction paper for the details, though. For the second project, we talked about IMAGINATION, and they drew a place they would like to go. They sketched first with pencil, then colored with watercolor crayons, which dissolve into paint when a wet paintbrush is stroked over the colors on the paper.

For the girls, I did a lesson on LINE from the Artistic Pursuits Senior High Book. I am going to move down to the Junior High Book, again because I think it gives more foundation in technique, but I had to order that book and it only just arrived. But the girls learned a bit about line and practiced making different kinds of lines with their HB and 4B drawing pencils. They did 10 min. sketches of interesting objects, and then tried their hand at self-portrait line drawings from a photograph. This was a little more difficult for them, I think because they want themselves to lood good! And they couldn't quite get it to look the way they wanted. But overall, they did a really good job and hopefully will see lots of improvement in their drawing skills over time. It will be interesting to compare drawings done now with ones done a year from now. ( hopefully they'll like the changes they see! )

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekend This & That

Lighthouse played against the Durham homeschool teams in basketball yesterday, and Eric's varsity team won. Jason also had a rec. league game, but alas, his team did not come out on top. You win some, you lose some...

This afternoon Eric and Alex both had their "senior pictures" taken by a photographer friend of ours. Eric is a senior in high school; Alex isn't technically a senior in college anymore, but we didn't get around to getting his picture done before graduation. They shot the photos outside in a few different locations in downtown WF... by the railroad tracks, in an empty lot, against the backdrop of old brick and carved wooden doorways. I can't wait to see them. I think there will be some great shots, which will mean DECISIONS for me. AGH!

I am still on a basically liquid diet. I did have homemade macaroni & cheese for dinner tonight, since it is nice and soft. That felt okay going down. Otherwise, I have been surviving on Slimfast shakes, chocolate pudding, applesauce, and mashed potatoes since Wednesday. Boooorrrriiiiiiing.

Sarah was home for the weekend, which was a nice surprise! She will be home next weekend too. She wants to spend time with her big brother before he heads off for the Army...

Alex has been looking for a car - his first car - and has found one he thinks he wants to buy. It is a 2006 Honda Civic Si, and he brought it home from the dealer today so he can have our mechanic look it over before he makes up his mind. It is sharp looking. I'll post a picture if he buys it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Filling a Pail or Lighting a Fire?

*updated 7/20/16

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
- William Butler Yeats

I heard Chris Davis give a talk based on this quote many years ago at the NCHE Homeschool Conference, and have loved it ever since. For 13 years I have been attempting to "light a fire" in my children, to foster a life-long love for learning, to prod them toward an independent mode of learning not dependent upon a textbook or instructor. I believe that education is something that we pursue, not something that is "done to us". I can't "educate" my children, but I can provide them with materials and information and experiences to help them acquire knowledge and wisdom in their life journey!

Education that "lights a fire" is a lifestyle. We do use curriculum and some textbooks and occasional instructors in this process. But this type of education doesn't fit neatly into a box of 9am -3pm, 180 days a year, for 12 years ( more if you add on "higher education" ) If so, what exactly is happening in those remaining hours, days, and years? Rather every hour of every day is an "educational" experience. We are always learning something, aren't we? We might be learning about life in ancient Egypt, how to play a musical instrument, how to clean a bathroom, how to treat another person with compassion, how to prepare a nutritious meal, or how to give up something we want for the benefit of the whole family. I so appreciate the flexibility I have as a homeschooler to let our daily schedule and our curriculum and our activities fit us as a family.

Education that "lights a fire" addresses the whole person. During our children's "school years", we want to help them acquire certain skills and knowledge in order to be prepared not only for the adult world of work, but also for marriage and parenthood and service to the Lord. 

As parents, we have the opportunity and responsibility to determine what we want our children to know and experience before leaving home. Some of those things may be determined by their goal of college, since they will have to meet entrance requirements for any institution they wish to attend. Other requirements might involve developing a biblical worldview, learning certain life skills, exposure to the arts, and participating in community service and missions. 

Education that "lights a fire" is personalized. Each of my children has unique abilities and giftings given by God, and I want to help them discover those gifts and develop them as best we are able. Those gifts may be academic, they may be social, they may be musical, they may be mechanical, they may be physical, etc. This is partly why, to my husband's chagrin, I cannot just buy one set of curriculum for 12 years and expect each of my five children to plow through it. Children have different learning styles and different needs, so an approach that is helpful for one might not be best for the next child. 

We have used a mish mash of curriculums over the years -  Five in a Row,  Prairie Primer, KONOS, Tapestry of Grace, to name just a few -  and I've used different math, grammar, writing materials for each child. While one child had lots of art and music, another had lots of computer and P.E. 

A bucket sits passively and waits to be filled. And once filled, no more can be added. A fire, once kindled, burns for as long as there is fuel. Hopefully that will be for as long as we live! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I had another endoscopy this morning, to follow up on the one done in the hospital before Thanksgiving when I had an ulcer in my esophagus. Since that time, I have been on Prevacid to reduce acid in my stomach, and I have not had any more episodes of spasms or any other symptoms. The procedure went fine this morning, but apparently the tube caused a small tear in the esophagus, so I have quite a sore throat right now. I have to be on a liquid/soft food diet for 7 days, plus take a whole armful of meds! I really hate that the doctor comes and talks to you and gives all these instructions when you are just waking up from anesthesia! I was so groggy, I hardly remember what he said. Mark was there, and he didn't WRITE anything down ( he's a guy ) but remembers... kind of.....what the instructions were. GEESH. So he's off right now to get my 5 prescriptions filled. I expect the doctor's office will be calling in the next day or so to follow up, and then I can ask again what I'm supposed to do. I know the doc said he wanted to see me again in ____ weeks - Mark says maybe 6, maybe 3?


College Bound

Eric got good news yesterday! He has been accepted at Appalachian State University for the fall. Yeah! Sarah is excited that he'll be there at school with her.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A little snow, a little basketball...

Yesterday we had TOG Co-op in the morning. We just finished Week 20 of Yr.1, in which we read about the Divided Kingdom, meaning Judah and Israel, and learned about the various kings and prophets during that time period - Jeroboam, Ahab, Asa, Elijah, Elisha, etc. I am learning so much! Oh yeah, the kids are too.

Last night the Lighthouse basketball teams played at Crossroads Christian School for their Homecoming. Our varsity boys played hard and fought back from a couple of deficits to keep it a very close game, but ended up losing by 3 points. Eric is taking a lot more outside shots this year, and hit a couple of 3-pointers. He wasn't feeling well though, having caught the bug that I had earlier this week - headache, cough, achy...

The weather forecast for today was a possible winter storm with 2"-4" of snow possible - that's a major snow event for this part of the country! But the storm apparently tracked east of us, and we got a day of badly needed rain, which didn't turn to snow until late this afternoon and has left only a dusting on the ground here. Temps tonight are supposed to be in the 20's and not rise much above freezing tomorrow, so the roads might be pretty slick from all the frozen moisture. We'll evaluate going to church in the morning!

Since we weren't getting snow, the Lighthouse vs. Raleigh Hawks basketball games went on as scheduled! The Hawks are the other homeschool basketball team in the Raleigh area, and are somewhat of a rival. They always have a great team, and sometimes blow us out of the water. The game was at 11:30 this morning, and after only 13 hours rest between games, our boys were a bit tired! Also, Eric hardly slept last night and was feeling lousy. But the Eagles came out strong and were hitting their baskets and playing great basketball. It didn't hurt that the Hawks' players were struggling with their shooting during the first half, either. We were ahead at halftime (quite unexpected), but the Hawks started hitting their shots and our guys just ran out of steam toward the end of the game, so at the end we lost by about 20 points. ( I can't remember the exact score ).

Jason's rec league game followed Eric's game, so we drove the short distance between gyms and watched the 9-10 yr olds. Jason got 2 baskets and a couple of assists, and his team won. Hooray. He was very happy!

And to top it off, DUKE won their game against Clemson tonight, and UNC lost to Maryland! Ahhh, a fine end to a pretty good day.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Adding Art

I began an art curriculum yesterday that has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time. It is one of those things that I have been meaning to get to...but just never made a real priority. And we know what happens to things in a busy homeschool mom's life that are not high priority!

Well, I was art major in college ~ I truly do believe that exposure to and experience in the arts is an important part of a good education. We have dabbled on and off in various artistic projects, but not with any kind of systematic instruction. So finally, the lightbulb went on and I realized that in order for this to happen, I needed - ACCOUNTABILITY. Therefore, I called a couple of friends and offered a free art class to their kids, so that I would be sure to do it with my own!! On Wednesday afternoons, I am holding 2 back-to-back art classes at my kitchen table, one for Jason and a couple of his friends, and one for Amanda and a friend. I'm using ARTISTIC PURSUITS, which incorporates art history with plenty of creative projects that build a basic art "vocabulary", as well as giving instruction in technique and using a variety of media ( the tools used to create art, such as pencil, ink, charcoal, watercolor, clay, etc.). Yesterday the boys learned about SHAPE by creating cut-paper collages of their house and yard, and also sketched small compositions of wooden building blocks. The girls worked on a series of 5 min. pencil sketches of some objects sitting on the table, learning about SPACE and orientation ( landscape vs. portrait ), and then spent 45 min. sketching from a photograph, to work on observing detail.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

They Chose Me

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
-James 1:27 (NIV)

learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.
-Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)

But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
-Luke 18:16-17 (NIV)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Catch Up! and Scottish Wedding

Wow! I have been running like crazy and haven't had a chance to post in a while. Let me try to bring you up to the present...

Sarah and Bekah both went back to college on Tuesday, so things are a little bit quieter around here.

Alex is a "Gold Bar" at NC State, meaning the Army has him working with the Recruiter in ROTC until he leaves in Feb. He is still car shopping, so Mark has been driving him back and forth to State, which is somewhat on the way to work for him...

Amanda hurt her foot playing basketball a few weeks ago. Her left foot has been tender along the side, but really didn't bother her unless she was actually running/jumping. But the pain during games has progressively been getting worse, so I took her to the doctor this week. They did x-rays and then sent her to see an orthopedist, who said he couldn't see any fracture, so she is in a "boot" for the next 3 weeks.

Mark and I went on a little getaway to Sarasota, FL last weekend, where we attended the wedding of a former co-worker of his. Mark had been looking forward to "warming his bones" on the beach, but the temperatures plunged all along the East Coast the day we arrived, and the temps were a bit chilly - 50's and 60's - on our first 2 days there! Things warmed up to the 70's on Saturday, so we took a nice long walk along the beach on beautiful Siesta Key in the morning, and then headed to the wedding that afternoon. Although we lived in S. Florida for 6 years early in our marriage, we never did make it over to the Gulf Coast! Sarasota was crowded but pretty.

The wedding was a lot of fun. The bride and groom met while working on assignment for Lenovo in China. Angela had lived in Raleigh prior to that, and had grown up in PA, but her parents were originally from the UK. James is from Scotland ( and that is where the couple now makes their home ) and his mother lives in Australia. So guests were from all over the world - everywhere BUT Florida! There were quite a few kilts, and the brogue was thick! One very unique thing they did was to invite the Scottish Folk Dance Club of Sarasota to come and teach Scottish dancing to the guests at the reception. It was rather like American Square Dancing, and a lot of fun!

Getting away for a few days is a great thing to do for your marriage! The younger kids stayed with friends and the older ones held the fort at home.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Natural Fash Wash for Acne

I just whipped up a batch of this face wash to send back to college with Sarah. A friend gave me the recipe last year when Sarah was experiencing a nasty acne breakout during her first months at college. She noticed significant improvement after using this for a few weeks, and has been using it regularly ever since. I found all the ingredients either in the natural/health foods section of the grocery store or at the local drug store.
* Note * some people are sensitive to tea tree oil and experience redness/burning, so you could remove that ingredient if necessary

Natural Acne Face Wash

Mix together in a blender:
2 cups castile soap
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon teatree oil
1 teaspoon lavender oil
1/3 cup aloe vera gel
¼ cup vitamin E oil
½ cup coconut oil ( melt first )
1 cup glycerin

Store in a bottle; if it separates, shake it up again. Use quarter size dab puddle to wash face 2-3 times a day; leave on face for at least 15 minutes before rinsing off

Here are some notes I found on the properties of the individual ingredients:

Castille - Originally used to refer to soap made from olive oil in the Castile region of Spain, the term is used rather loosely today to refer to vegetable soaps ranging from 0% to 100% Olive Oil.

Olive Oil - Olea europaea - used extensively in skincare for centuries, high in monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant and a superior moisturizer, used to nourish and protect the skin and to combat the effects of aging, draws moisture to the skin while allowing normal skin functions to take place, one of the very best oils for natural skin care; recent research has shown that olive oil possesses oleocanthal - a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-aging compound and pain killer

Tea Tree Oil - Tea tree oil is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree oil is purported to have antiseptic properties, and has been used traditionally to prevent and treat infections.
Tea tree oil should be avoided orally, as reports of toxicity after oral ingestion have been published
Tea tree oil contains consituents called terpenoids, which have been found to have antiseptic and antifungal activity.
A single-blind randomized trial by the Department of Dermatology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia compared the effectiveness and tolerance of 5% tea tree oil gel with 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion in 124 people with mild to moderate acne. People in both groups had a significant reduction in inflamed and non-inflammed acne lesions (open and closed comedones) over the three month period, although tea tree oil was less effective than benzoyl peroxide. Although the tea tree oil took longer to work initially, there were fewer side effects with tea tree oil. In the benzoyl peroxide group, 79 percent of people had side effects including itching, stinging, burning, and dryness. Researchers noted that there were far less side effects in the tea tree oil group.

Lavender oil— Lavender is a must for any regenerative skin care product. Its medicinal properties have been highly appreciated since Roman Times. Due to its cytophylactic, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, it has that perfect balancing effect on the skin.

Aloe Vera - Aloe barbadensis - native Texas succulent, often called "The Miracle Plant", soothing, emollient, antibacterial, heals skin irritations, burns, and wounds, promotes new skin growth, moisturizes, protects, and counters the effects of aging; A concentration derived from one of the oldest medicinal plants known. It has remarkable healing properties that can draw and hold oxygen to the skin. It is known to soothe and protect the skin.

Vitamin E - tocopherols - A powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps protect against damage from UV rays. It also helps to moisturize the skin and promote healthy, radiant looking skin.; Vitamin E — Vitamin E is one of the most powerful natural antioxidants and acts as a preservative of skin tissues as well as of natural skincare products.

Coconut Oil - Cocus nucifera - emollient and healing, used in soaps to produce a big fluffy lather;: Derived from the coconut fruit it is used as an emollient to smooth and lubricate the skin. Rich in saponins, it is excellent for soap making because it produces a rich, creamy lather.

Glycerine is a clear, colourless, odourless syrupy liquid with a sweet and warmish taste. It is obtained by hydrolysis of fats and oils of either vegetable or animal origin. It is considered soothing, laxative and antispetic and to some extent, nutritious and dissolves readily in water and alcohol. It has a history of use as a flavouring agent in medicines and is used in herbal medicine for its preservative properties and to extract medicinal compounds from herbs.
Used in cosmetics for its humectant (water attracting and holding) and skin soothing properties.
Glycerin has been the standard against which all humectants are measured. Until now no other humectant drew in as much moisture from the air as glycerin
Glycerin is a byproduct of soap manufacturing. When fats/oils (triglycerides) are combined with Sodium Hydroxide, the end product is soap and glycerin. Glycerin is an excellent emollient and moisturizer.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What Might this New Year Bring?

The year 2008 - what might it bring? For some reason, I have the feeling that this year will bring some big changes for the Herbert family. I'm not sure what exactly, but the Lord has been bringing a number of things to my attention - repeatedly - to the point of consuming my thoughts at times. Mark and I will be spending a few days away together as we travel to a friend's wedding, so there should be opportunity to hash through some of these things. ( oh, he loves it when I get on fire about things like this - HA!)

Some obvious changes in 2008 will be Alex leaving in February for his service in the Army. Although he has been away at college for 4 1/2 years already, he has still been close by, and we saw him on a regular basis. This will be different.
Also in 2008, Eric will leave for college. So three of my five kids will be out of the house! Just typing that makes my stomach tighten and my eyes get misty. Am I nuts? How often do I see parents doing the "happy dance" at the prospect of their children finally being grown and gone from the home, so that now they can get on with THEIR lives?!!! I am SO not there. Now, don't get me wrong. I am happy to see my children grow into wonderful, interesting, happy, competent adults. I enjoy them immensely. But there is a sadness deep in my core at the prospect of our home becoming "empty" of children. Well, this is one of those areas the Lord is whispering to me about...

I have always been interested in health and nutrition, but have frankly been lazy in making permanent changes in the way I eat or how I feed my family. I do use whole grains ( whole wheat bread, brown rice ) and make home-cooked meals and limit sweets and processed foods. But my recent health challenges and some symptoms my family has been experiencing are prompting me to do more. I am seriously considering starting to bake our own breads with freshly milled flour. I am taking a hard look at the chemicals I use in our home each week. I am reading and educating myself on the use of herbs and natural supplements to treat minor ailments. It would be wonderful to see this year bring improvement in the wellness of my family.

I am not going to make any "resolutions" this New Years Day. This has not been a successful thing in the past ~ a list of "should do's" to make me feel guilty when they don't become reality. Instead, I am trying to be open to the Lord's leading in various areas of my life, and willing to take a step here or there toward growth and change. Family, health, worship, travel, teaching, serving, discipling ....I look forward with anticipation to what the new year will bring, and delight in the day the Lord has given me today.

May God bless you richly in 2008.