August 2017 Pictures

The kitchen table broke one day, so Simon and Mr. Diligence fixed it for us. I’m sure glad Mr. Diligence has learned to fix things, too, since Simon is no longer here!


Princess likes to try out all sorts of new places to sleep in.


She also wants in the house all the time. She can walk along the ledge outside the living room window, and she begs to come in that way.


Her favorite place to spend the day is on top of our refrigerator in the laundry room. One day, she was rolling around trying to get attention from the boys and fell off!


Mr. Imagination making toast for his breakfast on top the stove.


Little Miss showing off her ponytails.


A dear friend sent these flowers to me! I was bringing the cow home one evening when a truck turned onto our road. I kept the cow off the road, and wasn’t paying much attention to the truck, but it went slower and slower so I finally looked. The driver, a man who had been a neighbor at one house we lived in, was holding out these flowers to me! So beautiful. Thank you, dear friend!


One Sunday at church, a girl who loves Little Miss decorated her with these pansies, so I asked the girl if she would take some pictures for me.


These are place we frequently find the cats. Bandit wants a soft, warm spot. Princess wants to be on something, and the computer, when it’s open, is a favorite. If I close it she’ll find some other place. She loves to curl up on a sheet of paper!


Our beef cattle. The two black ones will soon be going to the works. The white one was our calf last year.


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Product Review—Let’s Go Geography

I’ve always felt like geography was the weakest subject in our homeschooling. I’ve tried various ways of incorporating map work into our school days, but everything I tried was hated. Finally, I just hung a world map from the bulletin board beside the chair I sit in to read aloud, and when I think of it I’ll point out the location of the story we’re reading. When Let’s Go Geography came available for review, I decided it looked like something we could really use. Because it was described as being good for approximately grades K-4, I decided to have Mr. Sweetie and Mr. Imagination use it. No one older wanted to, anyway. Let's Go Geography

Each week, we get to study a different country. The first two weeks were actually regions of the United States, first the Northeastern States, and then Hawaii. After that, we spent a few days with Canada, and then Haiti and Nicaragua. We’re going to Belize on our next adventure. My little boys are loving this course! Especially, Mr. Imagination cheers when I say it’s time for geography. A few days ago, we were reading a biography in the evening and it mentioned that the person had gone to Hawaii. I didn’t even know Mr. Imagination was listening, but he got quite excited and pointed to Hawaii on the world map, telling everyone that we had studied it! That was fun to see. And just look at the list of places we get to “go” in the future! (Do you see what the last one for Year 1 is?) Let's Go Geography

Each lesson has a lot of variety. It’s set up so you can spend five days per lesson, so one section of the lesson each day of the week. We ended up doing each lesson in only 2-3 days, and skipping a few days each week. It’s just hard to fit something like that in every single day. We did the map work and colored, cut out and glued the flags one day. Another day, we listened to the national anthem from the country and watched the YouTube videos linked to in the lesson, and then each boy dictated to me what he remembered about the country and I wrote it on a notebooking page for him. Sometime later, either that day or another day, they each colored a picture of something from the country. Little Miss always had to have a coloring page, too, and she usually wanted a map to scribble on as well! There are crafts given for each lesson, but we never did any of them. They would have been fun, but we didn’t have the needed supplies on hand. It’s not that they are hard to find, but just things that we don’t keep, such as white and red plastic disposable cups to make into a lighthouse, or paper lunch bags to make into a puppet. I keep hoping we’ll come across a craft that we have the supplies for. 19-IMG_3249

Built into the year’s study of geography are three review lessons, one after each two continents have been studied. This review lesson looks like fun! I know my boys are going to love matching flags with the correct countries, and we’ll spend some time learning about latitude and longitude as part of the first review lesson. There are also some pages to match pictures with the country in which they were taken.

Here is Mr. Sweetie with some of his pages.


And this is Mr. Imagination, with some of his pages!



We’re saving all our pages, and at the end of the year I’m planning to have someone drill holes in them so I can sew the books together. Then, each of the boys will have his own book of world geography. When years 2 and 3 are available, I will probably buy them; this is a program we have really enjoyed. All you need to use it is an internet connection and a printer! I am trying to get a few books from the library with more pictures of the countries we’re studying, but our local libraries are pretty small. This is when we’re glad for YouTube and someone who has taken the time to find links for us! Let’s Go Geography {Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

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School Days

We spend a lot of time at the kitchen table in the mornings, doing lessons.


The day Mr. Sweetie learned about borrowing when subtracting, we got out the Base 10 blocks to illustrate what was happening. As soon as I was done with them, Mr. Imagination and Little Miss started playing with them—no wonder I sometimes have trouble finding all the pieces I need!

Mr. Intellectual loves building towers with the blocks, then taking a video of the tower collapsing.

Mr. Diligence is required to spend some time reading something—whatever he wants to—every morning. He’s been reading the Circle C books lately, and really enjoying them. He read the entire Circle C Beginnings series, and now he’s reading the two Circle C Steppingstones books that have been published.


Mr. Imagination isn’t officially doing school yet. He’s quite capable, but he doesn’t want to most of the time. He’s just 5, so I’m not pushing yet—but some days he does things like this! He wrote the numbers to 28, just for fun.


Little Miss spent a lot of time one morning sorting this tiny animals by color. Sometimes she sorts them by kind of animal, or just stands them up. They came inside a Mancala game someone bought at a secondhand shop, and they have been played with a lot more than the game!


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Spring is here! Some days sure don’t feel like it, but more days are warm than a month ago, and the grass is growing.

The first garden work was done in mid-August. Simon took the rotary hoe (rototiller) through part of the garden, after I showed him what needed done. It broke after he got some done, though, so he tore it apart and took one part to a local man to get a replacement shaft made. We picked up the finished piece the day I took Simon to Christchurch to get his Learner’s Licence; that night, Simon and Mr. Diligence stayed up till midnight putting the rotary hoe back together. He felt like he had to do it because he was leaving home a couple of days later and wouldn’t have another chance!


This is the lemon tree right outside my kitchen window. So beautiful!


Esther babysat the day I took Simon to Christchurch. She sent the boys outside for a break at one point during school. They started wrestling, and Little Miss was telling them to stop!


When it didn’t work to order them to stop, she tried to manually separate them!


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Solar System

We are working our way through Exploring Creation with Astronomy this year, and a few weeks ago we laid out a scale model of distances in the solar system. We were all blown away by the vastness of our solar system!homeschool-curriculum

We followed the directions on this page, but instead of merely putting slips of paper on the ground we taped them to fence posts. That made them easier to see.14-IMG_3234

We started at the edge of our yard by the paddock and headed toward the road at first. When we got to the road before we got to Neptune, we realized we had to go the other direction! So, we started over again at the hedge by the road. This first picture shows the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter is in the creek.


Here is Saturn, and the boys are heading to where Uranus should be.


Looking back from Uranus to the sun—see those tiny white spots between the house and the bush, right in front of the hedge? Assuming the sun is the size of a dime, these are the distances!


Now, the boys are at the Kuiper Belt (I’m assuming that’s where Pluto is; it’s no longer considered a planet, but we haven’t gotten to the chapter about that area yet.) Can you see my boys? They are barely visible in front of that shed, past the fence and the bathtub. I took this picture from Uranus.


I couldn’t believe these distances! So incredible. Then, a day or two later, we came across a video we had watched before, but it was well worth watching again, about the size of the solar system. Watch this and see how someone else portrayed it.

To Scale: The Solar System from Wylie Overstreet on Vimeo.

We also came across this video, the day we started the chapter on Saturn. My boys found it fascinating!

One thing I’m getting from this study is how amazing our God is! The planets are just incredible. So different from each other, and so incredible. I really appreciated the chapter on Earth, which showed so many ways our planet is perfectly suited for life—but none of the others are. The vast distances in space are awe-inspiring, too; if God’s creation is so vast—what about Him?

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Mr. Inventor turned 16 a month ago! How time flies. I remember so clearly the loooong week of waiting after his due date before he finally arrived, on the hottest day that summer (I’m positive it was the hottest, anyway!). He was my shortest labor to that point, and I remember being slightly in shock that it was over so quickly. And now, since he is 16 and has moved away from home to begin a new job, I’ll start calling him by name on here, Simon. One less nickname to remember to use!

We all went together to buy him a tap and die set, which he had been wanting for a couple of years, for his birthday. It didn’t come in time, so Mr. Diligence went to town and bought a box of ice cream and some cones. He worked hard to make the biggest stack of ice cream possible on top of the cone, and then put it in the freezer. After we ate dinner, Simon asked, jokingly, “When am I going to get my chocolate ice cream cone?” Mr. Diligence had been teasing him that we were plotting to get him chocolate ice cream. Was Simon ever surprised when he was presented with this cone! Even though he shared a bit with his little sister, it took him two sittings to get through it.


He was very pleased with his tap and die set when it came!


And for those of you who are wondering, he is working for a mechanic, planning to start an apprenticeship with him after a 3-month trial period to make sure he wants to do it. He is living with the family, a lovely Christian family with eight children, about 4 hours from us across the mountains, on the West Coast.

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Back Home Again!

Yes, I know we’ve been home in New Zealand for around six weeks now. It has taken me awhile to get caught up on posting on here. I like to keep things in chronological order, because that’s just the way I am, so here we go.

This was our first evening home. We landed in Christchurch around 9:30 am, so got home around noon. We unloaded the van and I cooked lunch; in the afternoon I unpacked all the suitcases and plastic totes we had packed with books, fabric, and other treasures we brought home. We sure enjoyed the warmth of the house; a friend had come early that morning and started both fires for us. It was quite chilly outside, since it was still midwinter. We were used to the heat of midsummer in Ohio, of course, so the warm house was especially welcome. By evening, what with the difficulty sleeping sitting up on the airplane the night before, and the eight-hour time difference between the Eastern time zone of the United States and our time here, these boys fell asleep waiting for supper to be ready. We tried to wake them up to eat, but finally gave up and carried the two younger ones to bed. Mr. Diligence stayed all night on the couch. Little Miss wasn’t asleep, but she was imitating her brothers!


A couple of mornings after we got home, we were treated to a visit from this pair of Paradise Ducks in our yard!


Our first Sunday home, we went to church in Kaikoura, enjoying thoroughly the beautiful mountains. Some us us found out how much we had missed the mountains and the sea while we were gone!


Little Miss was delighted to finally get to wear this dress, which a great-aunt had given her. Because of the long sleeves, I saved it to wear here, where it’s colder, rather than in Ohio where it was so hot.


The cats were happy to be home. We picked them up on our way home from the airport, and they obviously remembered this place. We wondered if they would run away, but they were happy here right away. Esther was amused when she saw this scene one afternoon.


This was our second Sunday home; we went to Waikari for church. It poured for a couple of hours, but the skies started to clear as we left, and then we saw this brilliant double rainbow!


Looking back the other direction, this is what we saw.


We greatly enjoyed our trip to America, but there is no place like home, and no place like New Zealand!

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One Last Adventure in America

We left Ohio to come home to New Zealand on the 24th of July. Our flight didn’t leave until evening, so we had the entire morning to finish packing—and we needed it! We had our baggage allowance pretty much maxed out, with nine pieces of checked luggage (only two weren’t big enough to pack 50 pounds into), nine carry-ons and nine personal bags. Air New Zealand has a limit of 15 pounds for a carry-on, so we had to weigh all of those, too. It took the morning to juggle things from bag to bag to get the weights right, and when we finally finished, we packed everything into the van and went to a local business to weigh them on their postage scale, since I don’t totally trust bathroom scales. Thankfully, we were fine with everything, and the job was finished by lunchtime. We ate lunch, then packed our sandwiches for the evening into our backpacks, to eat while we waited for the first plane in Cincinnati. We knew Air New Zealand would feed us—but that would be after takeoff in Houston at 10:00 at night!

I took a quick picture of everyone, just in case I needed to know, for some reason, what they were wearing on the trip. Here is Mr. Intellectual, ready to go home!


We were actually running just a little early, so my father-in-law directed us along a back route that ran beside the Ohio River. We enjoyed seeing this barge going downriver, but then he had another surprise.


He remembered the Anderson Ferry which runs across the river between Ohio and Kentucky. This ferry has been running since 1817—that’s 200 years now! He asked someone if it was easy to get to the airport from the ferry, and she said it was, so he paid the $5 fee and we got to cross on a ferry instead of a bridge! This was my first time ever to ride a ferry. We all enjoyed the quick crossing; it couldn’t have taken more than about five minutes.



In no time, it seemed, we were driving off the boat into Kentucky, where the friendly woman who had assured us that it was easy to get to the airport led us right there; she said she had to go there herself. We really enjoyed this one last adventure before going home!

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Creation Museum

On our last weekend in Ohio, we went to the Creation Museum. We had been there twice before, but the children really wanted to go again. My nephew who lives in Ohio was turning six that weekend, and he wanted to go, and my sister who lives in Michigan had a birthday that weekend as well, so she and my mom came to Ohio for the weekend. Gayle’s mother and sister, and his brother and his family, also decided to go, so we had a group of around 25 people! We were thankful for people who had guest passes that they allowed us to use to get in. As always, the museum was fascinating.

We spent the morning touring the botanical gardens and the petting zoo. It was very hot and humid, but the gardens were gorgeous.


One of our nieces discussing a huge dinosaur with my mom.


Mr. Diligence with my sister.


Black-eyed Susans always make me think of my dad. They were one of his favorite flowers. He claimed it was because he knew what they were!


There was papyrus growing in the bog garden. I had never seen it before, but recognized it from pictures. Fun to see it for real!


The koi pond was beautiful.


My brother had an extra leash for their wandering toddler, so we put it on Little Miss for awhile.


The Garden of Eden.


The result of the Fall—death.


Life after the Fall—hard work, thorns and thistles to contend with.


Methuselah talked to us about life just before the Flood.


This dinosaur moved and roared!


A diorama depicting people trying to escape from the rising Flood waters.


Praising God after the Flood.


One fascinating room, new since our last visit, held an amazing collection of insects!


Just before we left, Mr. Sweetie and Mr. Intellectual got to hold a snake.


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Book Review—Will Not See


About the Book

Book title: Will Not See
Author: Chautona Havig
Release date: August 29, 2017
Genre: Christian Fiction / contemporary / suspense (light)

My Thoughts:

Whew, what a book! Most of the time anymore, I am able to exercise self-discipline with books, and put them down when I need to get on with helping someone with school, or cooking a meal, or whatever needs to be done. This one, though— I was almost glad that I needed to be resting, recuperating from recent trauma, when Will Not See came in to be reviewed! I literally read it in one day. Not quite one session, because I had to stop for meals and reading to the children and a few other things, but I devoured the last half of the book in one go.

Imagine waking up in a motel room, not knowing who you are. The identification in her purse said she was Victoria Jeffries—but where did she live? What did she do for a living? Who did she know? Victoria had no clue. She could not remember anything at all.

Enter Ella Weeks—main character in None So Blind. She had experienced much the same loss of memory less than a year earlier. After going to the hospital to talk to Victoria, she helped the young woman go back home and provided support as she tried to figure out her life. But when strange, menacing men started coming around and threatening Vikki, as she soon became known, how could the women deal with that? What were the men wanting, anyway? What had Vikki been into before this happened?

Will Not See is quite different from None So Blind. Besides the story of the memory loss, and having to rebuild her life, Vikki’s story has a crime mystery woven in. That’s why I couldn’t put it down: I had to find out if she would be all right or not. As always in Chautona’s books, though, I found gems that I loved. One was a quote from Ella’s husband, “But remember Who is really in control. All our little attempts to make everything go to our plans are illusions we give ourselves when we take our eyes off the Lord.

Bottom line? I thoroughly enjoyed Will Not See, and will probably read it again soon—more slowly, to get more out of it, and I can hardly wait for the third book in the series. Somehow, we have to get to the bottom of what is causing these losses of memory—is it a strange virus, a drug that the victims have somehow inadvertently taken, or some weird scientist’s experiment, or something else altogether? I want to know!

WARNING: Prostitution is mentioned a few times, in passing, and Vikki was raped as a young girl. There is nothing explicit.

The Author’s Synopsis:

When Vikki Jeffries wakes up in a Rockland hotel with no idea of who she is  and why she can’t remember…well, anything, the Rockland medical community begins to take a closer look at what may have happened to cause a second case of inexplicable amnesia. But for Vikki, this is more than a medical anomaly. It’s her life. What is she doing in Rockland, thousands of miles away from her home in Apache Junction, Arizona? Who is she? Why is no one looking for her? Or are they?

The secrets of a past she’s discovering she doesn’t want to know lay locked away in a memory that refuses to acknowledge their existence.

When Brandon Marana finds his neighbor struggling to open her front door, his quiet life becomes a race to protect Vikki and himself from people who are determined to find her. He’s falling in love with her–but he shouldn’t. He’s a Christian. She’s not. But the more she depends on him to know who she is and learn why these things keep happening to her, the stronger those ties become.

About the Author:

Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert with her husbnd and five of her nine children.  Through her novels, she hopes to encourage Christians in their walk with Jesus.

Guest post from Chautona Havig:

The circle of death swirls on the screen and it shifts. The bank balance appears, and with it, my heart sinks. It’s been a tough few months, financially. The bottom line proves it.

My reaction? Inhale. Exhale. “Okay, now we know the worst. We can do something about it.”

My husband, on the other hand, suffers a definite blow. Kevin might not sleep that night. Instead, he’ll mull over what we could have done differently, how we can make changes, if he’s a failure at this thing called life. He’ll pray—for hours.

They say ignorance is bliss. And sometimes, that’s true. It’s also a personality thing, I think. I tend to be a “let me have your worst”kind of gal. But when the negative arrives, I also tend to want to shield Kevin from it all. I don’t know how he can worry so much. He can’t fathom how I can turn it off.

But sometimes those personality things go deeper—into what can be serious faults. It has been said, “There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.”

Or, in the words of Jeremiah, “Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.”

What does this have to do with not seeing?

As I work on the Sight Unseen series, one recurring theme happens, of course. Memory loss—the removal of all insight into one’s past. You can hear who you were, be informed of what you did and why others think you did it, but you can’t know your own self the way you once did. It’s a fresh slate, and it can be a good thing in some respects.

Those around you can now see the difference between habits and personality traits—true dislikes and those conditioned by life. What might have been a fear once could be gone if the cause of that fear is blotted out.

But even for these fictional characters, truth doesn’t change. In None So Blind,Ella takes her memory loss and uses it as an opportunity to reinvent herself,if you will. And you know what? If you asked her family about it, they’d tell you that it fits her personality. That take-charge, gotta get ’er done attitude Dani may have used in different ways, but both “manifestations”of the woman had those qualities. Sure, Ella’s was tempered by recent experience, but not much.

Vikki Jeffries, is almost the antithesis of Ella in that respect.

The past is in the past. It scares her. Is it because she doesn’t know it? Because she’s frightened by the unknown? We don’t know. But what we do know is anything associated with that past, even the few very personal items she finds, she rejects. It’s as if ignorance of them will protect her from them. Where Ella runs to face her problems, Vikki runs from them.

But despite those differences, I find it interesting that both women did the same thing, basically—just at different times.

Before her “episode,”Ella chose to blind herself to her faults. She knew them. Lived with them daily, but couldn’t face or address them. So, she “refused to see.”

Vikki—we don’t know. But I think the story shows that she couldn’t blind herself to truth before her episode. As much as she might have ached to, she just couldn’t. Now that the opportunity is here, however, she grasps it and if she insists on squeezing her eyes shut indefinitely, it may cost her everything—her life. Her soul.

Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is true.”

They say ignorance is bliss. Well, “they”also say, “Truth hurts.”And sometimes it does. But so do the consequences of that ignorance. I guess the next time the bank balance dips low, I won’tbe handling the fallout alone. Then again, one can always pray that it doesn’t dip low! I think we’ll start there.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

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