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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

TPA Convention this weekend

This Friday/Saturday is the TPA Homeschooling Convention in Wichita. Just a reminder that I'll be one of the booth hostesses for Tapestry of Grace. I hope you'll pause a minute at my booth to say "hi"!

I will also have information and applications for The Wichita Truth Treasure Hunters, a new TOG co-op for families studying Year 4 (the 20th Century), if you would like one.

The Wichita Truth Treasure Hunters (a TOG co-op) will meet about twice a month from late August to April in west Wichita. Team up with other Tapestry families for a richer experience in your home studies.

Group Activities
Salt-dough maps
Crafts and models
Dress-up days (dress like the era we’re studying!)
Movie nights (The Sound of Music, Shirley Temple, 1950s television, Apollo 13)
Literature and history discussions

Writing assignment readings
Roaring 20s Radio Play
Poetry readings
Book Reports

Field Trips
Aviation Museum
Dockum Sit-In Memorial
Indian Restaurant

Quarterly Unit Celebrations
Invite family and friends
Oral Presentations
Celebration Themes
Unit 1:The First 30 Years
Unit 2: World War II USO night
Unit 3: Themed 1950’s party
Unit 4: Middle Eastern culture night

Off-Label Imaginations, Part II

Last night I pressed "play" on the boys' CD player to start off "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" for their nighttime story (they usually nod off to a favorite audiobook.) The volume was WAY, WAY up! I quickly turned it down, assuming that two-year-old Tobias was to blame.

To my surprise, Hope told me, "Sorry, Mom, [the boom-box stereo] was our ship's control panel. Remember, we were playing that this room was our ship this morning?"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Literature-inspired breakfast.
Can you guess what children's book inspired her to request Pop-Eyes for breakfast?

Hope is reading What a Year, by Tomie De Paola, one of the "26 Fairmount Avenue" books that De Paola wrote about his childhood. Check the biography section of your library.

(Our "eyes" are heart-shaped because that cookie-cutter is available.)

Off-Label Imaginations

Yesterday our Monopoly game was strewn all across the living room floor. Lane was lining up all the Community Chest cards next to a long row of the Chance! cards. He was reading each card, as best as he could, and asking me about the little guy on the card. "Mom, why is he carrying the ship? Look! This is the ship!" and he thrust the card in my face to be sure that I didn't miss his point.

We played Monopoly together the other day and Lane did a great job of following the rules with me for about 30 minutes. Then, he grew tired of the game and his sisters took over our places. But Lane came back with the chess men. In an instant he was lining up chess men across the Monopoly board for some sort of war.

Today the chess men have joined his army men in a grand battle of good against evil.

Our kids have the most fun playing with games, toys, and household objects in ways they were never intended.

The vacuum extension tube? Spyglass one day, trumpet the next.
Wire stackable bins for the closet? Outfitted with a small pillow and blankets and in use as a doll sofa.
Tongue depressors from the craft drawer? Taped into small cross and used as swords or knives.
Brand-new swimming goggles? Goggles for keeping the dust out as my son speeds across the African plain catching rhinos (riding in a truck that turned upside-right is actually our school desk chair).
Frisbees? Filled with grass clippings and serving as dinner plates for my daughters as they camp on their way West.
Family room couch? The Millennium Falcon one day, ocean-going vessel the next.

What have your kids dreamed up out of everyday objects?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day, 2008

Three years later, our trip to Tallgrass Prairie Preserve:

Cresting the hill and seeing the big barn at the old ranch in the Flint Hills
Earning Junior Ranger badges
Running around a 130 year old Kansas limestone barn
Picnicking in the corner of the barn (lightning threatened)
Hiking a muddy mile to the one-room-schoolhouse
Posing for mom's camera
Running through the prairie trail--more mud!
Dashing around the grounds of the 1880s ranch house (and pretending it is Cair Paravel)
Driving to a nearby rural community to look for a playground and finding an amazing static display of a tank and helicopter
Reading the plaque of veteran's names
Finding another small town for a picnic dinner of cold chicken and crisp apples
Driving into Wichita as severe storms rolled in
Amazing memories with cousins, Aunt J., Aunt L. and Uncle D., and Grandma and Grandpa.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day, Three Years Ago

Three years ago on Memorial Day we took a day trip to Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. We are planning to reprise the trip tomorrow, Memorial Day three years later.

The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, as locals know, is a wonderfully old cattle ranch in the Kansas Flint Hills. The huge limestone barn is open for exploration and the historic ranch house offers free tours. A hike down the hill and across the creek leads to an old one room school. There will be a school teacher present tomorrow, as there was three years ago, giving kids a taste of the one-room school experience.

This sort of thing is great fun for Edwards Academy kids, who knew about Almanzo and Laura and Mary almost before they could talk. They've been listening to audiobooks of these stories for years and by now they pretty much have them committed to memory.

This year we'll be bringing one more Edwards Academy kid along. Three years ago when we hiked the hills at Tallgrass, it was only a few days after I knew I was pregnant.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It is great to be eight!

Psalm 138:8
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Psalm 139:15-16
My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Happy Birthday Hope!
Happy Birthday Sydney!
Dad and I are so proud of you. Every year a little bit more of God's purpose for you is revealed to us. It is exciting to see you growing into lovely young ladies and it is exciting to see a little more clearly each year what God has in store for your lives.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I consider myself somewhat new to the blogging scene and only last week figured out what was meant by "meme" and "tagging" someone. And now it has happened to me.

In honor of my Aussie blogging kindred spirit, Sharon at Equip Academy, here's my movie meme response:

1. One movie that made you laugh
Big Business. It is silly and ridiculous but has some fun lines: "You know, it's one of them surveys!" My husband doesn't appreciate the humor of this one, so I haven't seen it in years. Who knows, maybe I wouldn't even like it these days. I'm sure I couldn't show it to my kids anytime soon.

2. One movie that made you cry
Anne of Green Gables. Just the other day my girls watched this movie. It seems like every time I see Gilbert gently brush Anne's hair away from her cheek and tenderly call her "Carrots" my eyes well up with tears and my throat tightens. I read these books over and over as a kid and love the first movie (being a literature loyalist, I never could accept the significant plot changes they made in the sequels).

3. One movie you loved when you were a child
Star Wars. My dad taped it when it was on t.v. back when VCR remote controls had long cables attached to the box. He "paused" out most of the commercials, but didn't get it turned back on in time after one commercial break. So, for most of my life I had no idea how Luke met Hans Solo. "Where'd this scene come from?" was pretty much my reaction when I finally saw a full version.

4. One movie you've seen more than once
The Sound of Music and White Christmas, for starters.

5. One movie you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it
When Harry Met Sally. I wasn't embarrassed to admit it ten years ago, but I've grown up quite a bit since then and was too embarrassed to answer this for #4, above. So here it is.

6. One movie you hated
The Piano. I saw it with a friend in college. We should have walked out, but were probably too young and embarrassed to do something that sensible. It was shocking for me and horrible.

7. One movie that scared you
The Raiders of the Lost Ark. I saw this at a tender age and was not ready for it. Now I razz my dad about taking me. Mom was gone for the weekend and dad figured it would be a fun outing. I was terrified. Now, of course, it is hilarious.

8. One movie that bored you
Citizen Kane. Isn't this supposedly a great classic? I didn't get it. I usually love classic films, but not this one.

9. One movie that made you happy
The Man From Snowy River "...And I'll be back for whatever else is mine." Mr. Edwards gave me this DVD recently. I'm a hopeless romantic and love happy, wholesome endings. This one fits the bill.

10. One movie that made you miserable
I guess I steer clear of miserable movies, since I'm drawing a blank here.

11. One movie you weren't brave enough to see
The Passion of the Christ. Mr. Edwards and I plan to watch it soon, since we completed the study of Matthew recently in BSF. When this movie was released I was pregnant and knew it would be difficult to see. I think now I am ready to handle it, especially if we watch the DVD at home and have the pause button handy.

12. One movie character you've fallen in love with
I'm in love with Mr. Darcy, but mostly because of the book, rather than the movie. The latest version (2005) is undeniably great (the DVD is on my shelf), but the BBC mini-series is definitely worth the time. After you read the book, of course. Since I am so proud to be "Mrs. Edwards" I especially love this exchange at the end of the 2005 film:

Elizabeth Bennet: No, you may only call me "Mrs. Darcy" when you are completely, perfectly and incandescently happy.
Mr. Darcy: And how are you this evening... Mrs. Darcy? Mrs. Darcy... Mrs. Darcy... Mrs. Darcy!

13. The last movie you saw
We've caught on to Mid-Somer Murders, which is actually a British television series, but the episodes are feature-length. They are available from Netflix.

14. The next movie you hope to see
Prince Caspian We hoped to take our daughters, but with my experience (see #7 above) and after reading reviews, I think we will wait for the DVD (and handy fast forward button for when our kids holler, "Skip it!!").

I'm embarrassed how long it took me to create this post. Yikes. I think Mr. Edwards is wondering when I'm going to close the MacBook and return to reality!

Thanks for the fun movie memories, Sharon! Renita: feel like weighing in? Consider yourself tagged!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oh, Susanna! Part II

Here are a couple of more parenting tips from Susanna Wesley's letter to her grown son John:

That no child should ever be chid or beat twice for the same fault; and that, if they amended, they should never be upbraided with it afterwards.

That every signal act of obedience, especially when it crossed upon their own inclinations, should be always commended and frequently rewarded, according to the merits of the case.

That if ever any child performed an act of obedience, or did anything with an intention to please, though the performance was not well, yet the obedience and intention should be kindly accepted; and the child with sweetness directed how to do better for the future.

Yesterday I had occasion to correct my son for reacting in anger to his siblings and neighbor friends when things didn't go his way as he played outside. After I gave him a stern talking-to about the way he should be acting, he tearfully told me, "But Mom, I can't! I don't know how!"

What an honest answer! We see that our sin is wrong, but we can't figure out how to stop. Praise be to God that I can tell my son, "You're right. You can't. At least not by yourself." How hopeless it would be if we didn't have the promise of Jesus' righteousness.

We had a little talk about calling on Jesus to help him have self-control and ended by praying together. I know exactly how he feels, for I struggle with the same problem, as did Paul.

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Romans 7:15 (ESV)

I love Susanna Wesley's reminders to watch for acts of obedience in our children, especially when it crossed their own inclinations, and be sure to reward and praise that action.

How do you encourage your children when you spot their victory over sinful behavior?

Image of Susanna Wesley from the following website: John Wesley: Holiness of Heart and Life,
Click here to read my previous post: Oh, Susanna! which includes some other excerpts from Susanna Wesley's letter to John Wesley.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Streptococcus pneumoniae (CDC/Wikipedia)

Last Tuesday evening, after BSF, my husband told me he felt strange.
"Strange how?"
"I don't know exactly. Sick."

He took some aspirin and went to bed. I woke up in the night because Tobias called me and before I got to sleep again I heard Mr. Edwards humming. He never hums. My first reaction was to shake him out of the dream and tell him to go back to sleep. Except that he wasn't dreaming and he wasn't sleeping. He was not well and not himself at all. This was about 2:20 a.m. By three o'clock I was riding in the ambulance's passenger seat and Mr. Edwards was receiving oxygen and an i.v. in the back.

It took about four hours to get through the E.R. process of labs and x-rays to learn that he had pneumonia. Presumably (I don't know what they cultured) something like the strep bacteria pictured here had taken up residence in both of his lungs. After a day and a half in the hospital receiving oxygen and antibiotics, he was released.

I'm grateful for microbiology and antibiotics. It was only about 150 years ago that people thought Louis Pasteur was out of his mind to believe that something too small to see could cause people to be so gravely ill. Who knew that a few weeks after Edwards Academy students Hope and Sydney wrote about germ theory they would see their father proving the value of scientific research!

The antibiotics are working and Mr. Edwards is on the mend, although he is completely wiped out and exhausted. We are still puzzled about where or how he caught pneumonia.

Model of Herod's Temple (Wikipedia)

For a few hours Wednesday morning, I had no idea what the outcome of this would be. In some ways, a middle-of-the-night ambulance call is something that I have a particular fear of. I was surprised how calm I felt throughout the experience.

After BSF Tuesday night, my husband and I talked about the lecture he heard and what I heard Monday night. We discussed together some of the things that struck us from the week's Bible study and the BSF discussion time. That evening we talked about the veil in the Temple tearing from top to bottom at the time of the crucifixion. The veil separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was as thick as a man's hand. When God tore that veil, He opened His throne room to all who come in the Name of Jesus.

It was a signal to all that the old covenant was replaced with the new covenant: Jesus Christ.

When Mr. Edwards and I talked about what God did for us that day, we both shook our heads in amazement. Studying Matthew through BSF brought us back to the crucifixion and God opened our eyes to appreciate again the grace and mercy of our Savior.

My dad, bleary-eyed at 3:30 a.m. brought me coffee to the E.R. and my Bible. In the hours of waiting I worked on my BSF lesson and read about the Resurrection. Holding my husband's hand and sitting next to him reading about the empty tomb, I felt courage and calmness.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Year 4 Arrived

My Tapestry of Grace Year 4 order arrived!
I can't wait to start planning!

Our kids will learn about Teddy Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Billy Sunday, the Wright Brothers, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Fanny Crosby, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Eric Liddell, Warren Harding, Charles Lindbergh, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt. That's just in the first nine weeks!

Over the course of the year...
Lane will be making a Draw and Caption book about 20th Century Presidents, another about the Space Race, and he will learn the cluster and describe technique in the second half of the year.

Sydney and Hope will write a roaring 20's radio play, practice narrative and expository writing, make a photo essay on inventions, write a realistic story, and spend six weeks studying poetry.

For literature studies we're going to read Homer Price, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Balto and the Great Race, James Herriot's Treasury for Children, The Lily Cupboard, Charlotte's Web (for the nth time!), The Story About Ping, Pippi in the South Seas, Runaway Ralph ... and that's just getting started.

We'll meet heroes of the faith, heroes of world wars, villains and thugs, economic hardship and triumph, and even throw in some fashion studies. It promises to be another amazing journey through time, guided by Tapestry of Grace.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Field Day

I'm very thankful for our home school group. The biggest benefit of homeschooling groups seems to be the way they provide kids with a group identity. I think one important element in successfully homeschooling over the long term is finding a way for our kids to feel that they are a part of something. Thanks again to all the moms who worked together to make Field Day so fun.

This year our group had its first annual Field Day. Rainy weather loomed but it didn't rain on our parade, so-to-speak. With an Olympic theme, we had six events: softball shotput, basketball, Frisbee discus, balance beam, long jump, and 50 yard dash.

Our kids competed against a set standard so that everyone could earn a gold, silver, or bronze in every event. They rotated through events in nation-teams according to age. The pictures show our older three standing with their teams. (Lane with his hands on his hips; Syndey on the left, Hope three from the left.)

I had the privilege of serving as the Field Day coordinator, which meant I got to give the devotional. What a perfect time to remember Eric Liddell! In our opening ceremonies I briefly told the kids about Liddell's famous stand for God in the 1924 Olympics, in which he did not run in his best event because it was scheduled on Sunday. His principled stand was and remains an amazing witness to Jesus. But perhaps an even greater Kingdom impact was made by Liddell in his missionary service to China. He died there during World War II.

Liddell's life story reminds me of another missionary, Jim Eliot. Jim Eliot famously said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." I reminded the kids that while it is good to compete hard for a worthy goal, none of our medals will last. Far better that we give up the temporal to gain the eternal.

How do we do that? Trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and live our life for His Kingdom.

We press on.

* Eric Liddell found himself in a Japanese prison camp during World War II. Another prisoner, Langdon Gilkey, wrote a book about his experience in the same camp. Eric Liddell is not a central character in Gilkey's book, but his book stands alone for its examination of human nature. Find out more about the book Shantung Compound.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oh, Susanna!

Clothes in!

Our son Tobias (whose name means "The LORD is good") is doing me a service. He is refining my character and smoothing off my rough edges.

He began the day with a nosebleed. The trouble is, nosebleeds alarm him and he resists the whole process of stopping the bleeding. Crying and fighting, the blood only flows thinner.

Later, I walked through the kitchen with a laundry basket in hand, not noticing a cup of ice water left in the middle of the walkway. Not noticing it, that is, until I kicked it across the room.

At lunchtime, when I was fixing the macaroni and cheese, I took a moment to move the laundry over to the dryer and start a new load. I partly filled our front loader then left to check the bedrooms for things to add to the load.

On my way back, I stopped to check the macaroni. Around the corner I heard Toby say, "Clothes in, Mommy! Clothes in!" Popping my head around the corner, I saw him proudly stuffing clothes in the washer. My smile turned to a frown, however, when I realized what he was doing.

You see, I'm in the middle of emptying the boys' closet, washing it all, and sorting the clean clothes as they come out of the dryer. Out-of-season and too-small items are folded and go straight into a laundry basket, destined for the storage room. This basket was full of neatly folded clothes.

Toby was busy cramming these clothes into the washer.

When Toby frustrates me, I think of famous mothers who mothered amazing boys. Ida Eisenhower. Ruth Graham. Susanna Wesley.

Susanna Wesley (1670-1742) had nineteen children--ten survived, including Charles and John Wesley. She was married to a minister and they lived on a small income, facing many trials (including the death of nine children). Susanna believed that it was her duty before God to educate her children. (See Susanna Wesley: The Complete Writings, p. 368.)

Some of her wisdom regarding her home schooling methods (from Susanna Wesley: The Complete Writings, p. 370ff):

"In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will, and bring them to an obedient temper...For by neglecting timely correction, they will contract a stubbornness [and obstinacy] which is hardly ever [after] conquered...In the esteem of the world they pass for kind and indulgent whom I call cruel parents, who permit their children to get habits which they know must be afterwards broken."

Her children "were quickly made to understand they might have nothing they cried for, and instructed to speak handsomely for what they wanted."

"None were taught to read till five years old, exept Kezzy, in whose case I was overruled; and she was more years learning than any of the rest had been months. The way of teaching was this. The day before a child began to learn, the house was set in order, everyone's work appointed them, and a charge given that none should come into the room from nine till twelve, or from two till five; which, you know, were our school hours. One day was allowed the child wherein to learn its letters, and each of them did in that time know all its letters, great and small, except Molly and Nancy, who were a day and a half before they knew them perfectly; for which I then thought them very dull; but since I have observed how long many children are learning the hornbook, I have changed my opinion."

"There was no such thing as loud talking or playing allowed of; but everyone was kept close to their business for the six hours of school; and it is almost incredible what a child may be taught in a quarter of a year by a vigorous application, if it have but a tolerable capacity and good health."

I have a long way to go!

Remembering Susanna Wesley's example encourages and inspires me greatly. Home schooling is experiencing a renaissance in our time, but I often forget that I am not as cutting edge as I might imagine. There are amazing women who have blazed the trail for me both in the last 25 years as well as over 250 years ago. I have so much to learn!

Image of Susanna Wesley from the following website: John Wesley: Holiness of Heart and Life,

Wrapping Up, Part II

This is our last week of official school. (Although we have several summertime goals in math, Zoology, and reading). Overheard at lunch today:

Mom: If you could live in any time and place that we have studied in history, what would it be?

Sydney (nearly 8 yo): I can't remember the time exactly, but I'd like to live when the ladies were all dressed up all the time and wore the pretty hoop skirts and fancy dresses.
Mom: Before the Civil War?
Sydney: Yes, and during the Civil War.

Lane (5 yo): I know! Lewis and Clark!!
Mom: Would you go with them on the expedition?
Lane: Yes. But I forget the year. What year was that?
Mom: 1803
Hope: During Jefferson's time.

Mom: What about you, Hope?
Hope (nearly 8): I would live in the White House during President Lincoln's time.
Sydney: I thought of another one! In England during Queen Victoria's reign.
Mom: Oh! That's a good idea.
Hope: I would like to be on the throne in England!

Tobias (2 yo): Leeeeeela!
Mom: What?
Tobias: Leela!
Mom: Oh, you mean-
Tobias: --Burt Dow!
Mom: Yes, Burt Dow's sister Leela?
Tobias: Eating!
Mom: Yes, Burt was eating the breakfast she made, wasn't he?

(I wasn't kidding about my boys loving Burt Dow: Deep Water Man! In fact, not only have we recorded poetry, we've recorded Burt Dow for even greater, more frequent enjoyment!)
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