Around Our House

I looked at Mr. Sweetie’s memory card recently, and found some nice pictures he took out our bay window. These first three pictures show the view from the end of our living room that faces the street we live on. There are three other houses on this short street, which has no exit; we can easily see two of them. The local school is just beyond the buildings at the end of the street, in the third picture.



This is the view out our street, across the highway. A trucking company is based there, and for a few days last month they were fixing this digger. I think they took the tracks off and fixed them, then put them back on. Of course, the activity over there is rather distracting on some school mornings!


A tall tower!


We can see the tops of some of the Paparoa’s over the neighbor’s garage. When they have snow on them, and the early morning sun hits them, the sight is stunningly beautiful!


How do you like that mischievous look on Little Miss’s face?


I found Princess sitting in the washer one evening. She was hiding from her daughter, Grizzly, in the next picture. There is all-out war between the cats a lot of the time now. During the day, Princess disappears; she spends a lot of time at the school.


Doesn’t Grizzly look scary? Princess thinks so—but Goofball is worse; she actually chases her mother.


Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment

Book Review—God Schooling by Julie Polanco

It’s interesting, and encouraging, to read a book about homeschooling occasionally. I found God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn, by Julie Polanco, quite interesting, as well as convicting. I’m still not sure what I’m doing with what I read here, though!
God Schooling book

God Schooling is focused on natural learning, or unschooling. In the author’s experience, using a curriculum destroyed her children’s love of learning and her relationship with them—or at least caused damage in those areas. She admits that there is a place for using a curriculum—but cautions against allowing it to become a religion. Mainly, she encourages parents to seek God about their children’s education and to let the children decide how and what they will learn. All the way through this book, parents are encouraged to share their passions with their children. Involve your children in your life, and let them learn by doing things with you.

One quote, on page 14, that really stood out to me was, “We need to guard our relationships against losing our children to the enemy because of our zealous attitudes about academics.” This was in the context of not offending our children. She also points out here that character development is much, much more important than academic learning.

One chapter that I am still mulling over is the one about motivation. Julie believes that we should neither reward nor punish children for either doing or not doing their lessons. She points out that if we want to learn something we will learn it easily and quickly.

Several chapters are devoted to ideas for teaching various age groups of children. She talks about children under eight and their needs, as well as how their brains develop through those years. The next chapter discusses ages eight through twelve. She encourages having your children do things to serve others, and do meaningful work, either for the family or developing their own business. Then, there is a chapter about teens. One fact I found fascinating, although it wasn’t altogether new, was that, until the 1920s, there was no such thing as today’s teenager—young people of this age were working productively, not hanging around getting in trouble as so many do since child labor was banned in America in 1938. This chapter shares a lot of tips for getting into college from an unschooling childhood. There are many creative ways to put together a high school transcript! Julie shares many examples, in each of these three chapters, from her experiences with her children, to illustrate how God has worked in their lives in the matter of education.

I’ve never totally subscribed to this method of homeschooling; we’ve always used at least a math curriculum and some level of structure for the other subjects as well. However, I have seen my children teach themselves things they wanted to know so I know that what Julie is talking about will work for a lot of things. Esther decided once that she wanted to learn to write. She studied everything she could get her hands on about writing. Recently, Mr. Intellectual, who incidentally loves working through curriculum, was assigned a research report in the writing course he is using. He chose a subject he is passionate about, and has thoroughly enjoyed studying it and writing about his conclusions.

I was definitely challenged by this book, and have realized again that I need to spend much time in prayer for my children and their learning. If you are interesting in homeschooling, God Schooling:How God Intended Children to Learn would be a good book to read. It is encouraging for any parent concerned for his or her children’s future.

Please check out some other reviews of this book by clicking on the image below. Eighty people are reviewing it, so you’ll get quite a range of opinions and viewpoints!

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment


We were very thankful, a few weeks ago, when Mr. Diligence requested baptism. He had committed his life to the Lord over two years ago, and we have been watching him grow in his walk with God since then. We set the date for the baptism for the 4th of August. We were thankful to have a number of friends present for the occasion. One of these friends shared the photos she took so I could share them here—thank you!




Here is a video of the baptism.

Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment


It’s not every day you can actually see your laundry drying before your eyes. I ran outside to grab something, though, and when I glanced at the clothesline I could see a cloud of steam rising. Five minutes later, that effect was gone. In this picture, the haze is steam! It’s a brilliant, sunny day here, now that the morning fog has dissipated. I happen to be home alone for a few hours; Gayle took the boys to Greymouth to watch a friend try out his longline in the ocean at high tide (they’re hoping he catches lots of fish!), and Esther went along to do some shopping. Maybe later today I’ll have time to put together a post about Mr. Diligence’s baptism; for now I’m making granola and soap and working on a batch of beef broth—as well as doing laundry!


Posted in Activities at Home | 4 Comments

June 2018 Pictures

Oops! Here we are in August, and I just realized I haven’t shared the last few miscellaneous photos from June!

When we were in Cheviot in May, a lady we visited gave Little Miss a packet of heart-shaped beads she had bought and saved to give to some little girl. I helped her get them strung one day, and she’s been wearing her bead string around her neck a lot.


I asked Mr. Sweetie one day to get a picture of our cow. The house directly across the road, on the right of the picture, is ours.


For two months I have been taking Esther and Simon to town to practice driving. Esther successfully got her driver license about a month ago, and Simon this week, so we don’t have to do that anymore! One of those days, we drove out on the north breakwater at the mouth of the Grey River. The mountains were so clear that day—it was gorgeous! I zoomed in with my camera, hoping to capture the scene, but this comes nowhere close to showing the real beauty of it. The car in the picture is on the south breakwall.


We see a lot of rainbows here! This was out the bay window in our living room one morning.


I love seeing my boys working with their daddy! This is Simon helping Gayle cut firewood to length.


Mr. Sweetie and Little Miss visiting the cow. Unfortunately, we discovered about the time this picture was taken that she had slipped her calf, and as a result we had to give her up. We don’t have feed for a pet this size. One of those hard things in life….


Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment

Product Review—Timeline of the American Revolution

I have used timeline figures printed by Home School in the Woods for many years. Back in Michigan, I put a butcher-paper timeline all around our living room, up at the ceiling. I wanted to show 6,000 years of world history, with 1 foot per 100 years, so it was 60 feet long. Yes, we had a large living room! As we read books for history, we would put up the stickers we got with pictures on them of the people and events we were studying. I threw that timeline away when we moved, though, because it was getting old and brittle and wasn’t worth transporting overseas. I made a new one out of cloth, and hung it around the top of the hallway in a house we lived in for four years. We added many more timeline figures to that one—but now it’s been packed away for four years because we moved to a very small house and haven’t had room for it since. I do like the idea of timelines, though, so when I got to choose an item to review from Home School in the Woods, I chose the Timeline of the American Revolution from their À La Carte Timelines collection. In our study of American history this year, we haven’t quite made it to the Revolution, so we put the timeline together and we will be referring to it as we work our way through those years. Home School in the Woods

I really like this timeline. It not only has the dates, 1-IMG_4781it also has all the events they drew pictures of printed on the timeline in light gray, so it is very easy to glue the pieces on. I printed it on ordinary paper, trimmed one side of each sheet, and glued the pages together. Then, I accordion-folded it to make it compact. It’s about the length of our kitchen table when it’s spread out. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been having my three youngest boys coloring the four pages of very nice pictures when they have time, and this week, I had them cut out all the pictures. We glued 2-IMG_4789them in place and talked about some of the events as we went. Mr. Sweetie finished the last few pictures this morning, and located some of the people I read about in the story I was reading at the moment, about a Quaker woman in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. I really like this timeline, and the ease of using it. I’m looking forward to trying out more timelines from them in the future.


Home School in the Woods has many other product lines, as well. They specialize in hands-on history projects in various formats, many of which look quite fascinating to me. They have just released a new product which sounds fun, Project Passport: Ancient Rome, which completes their Project Passport World History Study. I have a feeling my boys wouldn’t enjoy a project like this, but maybe someday Little Miss will and I’ll get the chance to try it out myself! The lapbooks look like a good way to organize what children are learning from history, as well. If you need something to make learning history more fun, definitely check out this company. They have some great products! Hands-on-History, Project Passport, À La Carte Timelines and Time Travelers {Home School in the Woods Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment

Pancake Rocks

We can’t take visitors to Gore Bay now—but we have Pancake Rocks only an hour’s drive away! When some friends came to visit us a couple of weeks ago, we took them to the famous place with its amazing layers of rocks stacked up like pancakes.

Do you see who is driving? Gayle and I rarely drive anymore!


We were standing on this bridge, telling our friend the story of how one time Simon lured people to stand here long enough to get them wet when the blowhole beside it erupted. She said, “If only we could see it blow just once—” and it did! We had thought there wouldn’t be any action that day, since the sea was so calm. There were several eruptions in a row, and then it was quiet again—what a gift, though!






We ate lunch at the visitor’s centre, where there were hardly any people. We enjoyed the peace and quiet, and the beautiful sunshine! Mr. Imagination and his friend reconnected quickly and were inseparable for the whole weekend—so cute! Here, they are playing in a tiny grove of palm trees.


I’m afraid you might see more pictures of Pancake Rocks—just like you used to see a lot of Gore Bay! If you come to visit, we’ll take you there and you can see it in person.

Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment

Product Review—Northwest Treasures

Many members of our family are quite interested in geology, especially in the context of Creation and the Flood. When I had the opportunity to sign up to review a course offered by Northwest Treasures, several of us thought it would be useful. There are six video classes in Geology and Apologetics, the course we chose, and each class lasts from 10 to 20 minutes. Each of them is a lecture by Patrick Nurre, illustrated with a slideshow of photographs and quotes. Only four of us ended up watching the entire series—Gayle and I, Esther, and Mr. Intellectual. Simon watched for awhile, and Mr. Imagination was in and out through several of them (a delay tactic to avoid bedtime!), but the other boys were not interested and we didn’t require them to watch. Geology and Apologetics Course

Lesson One, Knowing the Scriptures in the Secular Geological Age, gives an introduction to what apologetics is. The Greek word Apologia, from which the word Apologetics comes, is defined, and Mr. Nurre talks about why we need apologetics. The foundation we must lay is to know the Scriptures thoroughly. We appreciated this encouragement, and took the time to read the list of Scripture references he gave in the middle of the talk, but we also believe, as a result of personal experience, that knowledge of the Bible alone is not enough in this particular area. We also need to have real facts from the physical world around us in order to be convinced of the authenticity and truthfulness of the Bible.

Lesson Two, Clarifying the Conflict Between Science and the Bible, explores and defines philosophy, history, and science, and their relationship. We have found these definitions useful already as we discuss various topics.

Lesson Three is titled The Genealogies and Chronologies of Genesis, Are They Accurate and Reliable? Genesis 5 gives a record of the names and lifespans of the 11 patriarchs from Adam to Noah’s sons. It begins with talking about the book, the record of Adam’s family. Mr. Nurre points out that because there is no place in the genealogy for a gap, we can trust the age of the earth as shown in Genesis rather than modern scientists’ statement that the earth is 4.6 billion years old.

Lesson Four talks about Evolutionary Gaps in the Fossil Record, How Serious Are They? Mr. Nurre asks, “Is uniformitarianism science?” One little gem that stood out to us is that rocks are dated based on dates assigned in the 1800s, nearly 100 years before radiometric dating was developed. He also points out the “abundant lack” of transitional forms of fossil animals.

Lesson Five is titled Dinosaur-to-Bird Evolution, the Story that Never Seems to Die. Mr. Nurre discusses Archeopteryx quite a lot. He shows two chronologies purporting to show the evolution of birds—and inserts the dates assigned to these fossils by geologists. The result is fascinating, and shows that these chronologies are a pure fabrication! This was by far our favorite lesson, and as we discussed it, we came to the conclusion that the reason we liked it so well was that he told us where the chronologies he showed came from. The lack of citations or a bibliography in the other lessons made them a lot less meaningful to us.

Lesson Six, Time and Chronology in the Secular Geological Age, shows how the geologic column was developed. I found it fascinating that the rock layers we all know about were named for the geographical locations in which they were found. They were not found stacked up, as the charts show; rather, because of the “need” for proving evolution, and as a result of the development of the evolutionary theory the layers were stacked up based on the fossils found in them.

Each of these lessons ends with four questions for discussion. We didn’t find the questions particularly helpful, because we were already discussing the lessons in some depth. They could be good springboards, however.

Taking the Mystery Out of Geology is a 20-minute bonus video that was included with our review. This is a very informative introduction to geology, and includes definitions of 13 terms used in geology, starting with Science and History. This video points out that geology is the foundation of what we believe about origins and about the earth. It is also done in slideshow format, with Patrick Nurre talking throughout. Take the Mystery out of Geology Online Course

We were disappointed by these lessons, and didn’t feel like they were what we expected. The trailer promised that this course would help us to resolve conflicts and defend our faith. As long as someone already believes that the Bible is true, the information in this series will encourage them and help to shore up their faith, but if we are trying to convince unbelievers or skeptics of the truth of the Bible, the information given here will not be of much help. We have had a number of encounters with unbelievers recently who consider the Bible to be merely a mythical story. Gayle, himself, has been confused in the past about which is true—modern science or the Bible. Because of his experience, and the people he has talked to recently, he feels that we really need evidence from the physical world, not merely from the Bible, to help prove our faith. There is a lot of evidence that has surfaced in recent years that backs up the Bible, which will go a long way toward convincing unbelievers. Some of this was presented in the course, but not enough to be very helpful to us.

I appreciated that the Bible is upheld as the standard of truth. However, as Esther pointed out, no hard proof of the Bible’s trustworthiness was presented; she felt like we were being told to blindly believe it. Also, as I mentioned above, the lack of citations detracted from the information that was presented. If we can’t confirm the facts given, how can we be sure they are true? So, as much as I want to love this course, I can’t truthfully say I do. It could potentially be very good, but we didn’t find it either very interesting or helpful. That may be our problem, since we have spent a lot of time already studying geology and palaeontology; I’m sure some people would get a lot out of this course. On the other hand, some of the other courses offered by Northwest Treasures look helpful. Rock Identification Made Easy looks especially useful; my little ones often ask me what type of rock they have, but I don’t know enough about rocks to answer!

Online Geology Classes{Northwest Treasures Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment

Book Review: Love, Honor and Virtue

Warning: This post may make some people as uncomfortable to read as I was when writing it. I have read a number of blog posts over the past few years on Raising Real Men. They have always been encouraging and convicting. With so many boys in our house, I need help to teach them in the way they should go. Because of all these boys, and some struggles we have faced with them already, I was eager to review Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality, from Great Waters Press. I was not disappointed in this book. It is very helpful to me as a mother, and I hope it will be a helpful tool in discipling our boys. I have started to read it aloud to the older three boys after the younger ones are in bed on Sunday nights, and they seemed to appreciate what they have heard so far, although I still haven’t decided if I’m going to read them the chapter that tells the details about human reproduction!

I hardly know where to start. This is a great book! Hal and Melanie don’t pull any punches—they tell it like it is. They begin by establishing the fact that God created sex and He also created gender. He made you a boy or a girl from conception (you don’t decide at some point what you are), and He created marriage. One point I really liked in the introduction was that in the Bible there are two stages of life—childhood and adulthood. Young men are just that—men—even though they are young. They face men’s temptations. Love Honor and Virtue by Hal and Melanie Young

In chapter two, the authors describe the physical changes that occur in both boys and girls as they go through puberty, and, briefly but in enough detail to satisfy children’s curiosity, how sex works—but then they go on to describe how a baby develops, is born, and how the mother’s body works to nourish the new life, before and after birth. These details are included to impress on young men how the sexual act is not just about a moment of pleasure; rather, there are far-reaching consequences when it is indulged in outside of marriage.

There is a fairly thorough discussion about how God calls us to purity, leaving no room for allowing even lustful thoughts in our minds. Lust is defined, and so is pornography. The authors point out many reasons, both from the Christian and the secular perspective, why pornography is very damaging. Sexting and masturbation are also covered in some depth.

Now, what is a young man to do with all these things he has to face, and battle against? There is an entire chapter devoted to fighting temptation! Yes, this is a hard battle to win, and the authors acknowledge that, but victory is possible, and they give many tips to help a young man who is struggling. Actually, the points they give would help anyone in any battle. And what if when you fall? There is a chapter which deals with that, too! When you begin fighting against sin in your life, there will be times that you give in to temptation and fall into sin again. Don’t give up! Turn to God in repentance, and start over again. This chapter is very encouraging.

The last chapter gives many pointers about how to find the mate God has for you. The authors’ story of how they met and married is also included—what a great story! I definitely want my daughters, as well as my sons, to read this chapter.

I really appreciate this book. Anyone who has sons approaching their teen years should read it. I am thankful that this book has come into our family at this time, although I’ll admit the subject is very uncomfortable to read and talk about. However, I also know that we need to discuss these issues, for the sake of our sons and their futures. When problems are brought out into the open, they can be dealt with, and Love, Honor and Virtue is a great tool to help us, as parents who feel like we’re floundering, to help our young men. Another book from the same authors, which I would also love to read, is No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens With Grace and Hope. This looks very helpful, as well; sometimes I think I don’t know how to parent my older children, and most of the time I’m sure I am totally clueless!

Love, Honor, and Virtue  AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

Posted in Activities at Home | 1 Comment

Beef and Noodle Soup

A few days ago when Simon came home from work, he noticed a big pot of beef broth simmering on the stove. That reminded him of the bread soup we used to have at special church meetings, so he put a slice of bread in a bowl and ladled some broth over it. A second slice followed, and a third…. Then he remembered beef and noodles. That sounded so good to him that he dug the noodle maker out of storage and made a batch of noodles that very evening! So, tonight’s menu was beef and noodle soup. After we ate, Esther requested that I post the recipe on here so she can find it. I would never have thought about writing up such a simple recipe, but maybe someone else will be interested, as well.


To make the noodles, mix flour and egg. Simon said he used 3 cups of white flour and 5 eggs. They are small eggs, so it would be a good idea to start with fewer. Just add eggs and flour as needed until you have a stiff, but uniform dough. Then, roll it out. It’s easiest if you have a noodle maker to roll it thin and cut it into noodles, but a rolling pin and knife will work. Sorry, I don’t have any pictures—I didn’t think about writing about making them! After the noodles are cut, hang them on a clothes horse to dry, or lay them in a single layer on baking sheets or a clean cloth laid over a spare bed. Let them dry for a day or so, and then put in an airtight container. Or, you can skip all that and buy egg noodles! The homemade ones taste better, though.

I put about a kilogram (two pounds) of stew beef into the crockpot this morning and covered it with a couple of quarts of water, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and turned it on high. This afternoon, I poured all that into my soup pot and broke up the meat, then added another 2 1/2 quarts of beef broth and brought it to a boil.  When it was boiling, I added the noodles and another couple of teaspoons of salt, and simmered about 10 minutes until the noodles were cooked. Then, we enjoyed the delicious meal! Most of the children added extra salt and pepper.

Posted in Activities at Home | Tagged | Leave a comment