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Facebook Page

I’m planning to start sharing interesting links and little snippets of life over on the Stronghaven Facebook page.  If you’re a FB junkie, feel free to join us there.

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Capturing Ideas

Last night Rosie and I read Longfellow’s “The Village Blacksmith” together, which led us to discuss My Man and how much the poem reminded us of him.

Toiling,–rejoicing,–sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

I find myself awed at the power of words.  Awed by the ability of of Longfellow to capture the timeless idea of manly strength within a few short lines.I have seen families where the men have failed at this, when each morning and evening only see tasks not attempted, tasks not begun.  I have known men who spent their youthful energy in avoiding the forge of life rather than facing it head on, but they have not been men on whom I was dependent.

I have been blessed to see this ideal lived in individual ways by my grandfather, my father, my husband, my brothers.  I hope to see it lived someday by my son.  I am grateful for the words of Longfellow; the way he captured this ideal has allowed generations to read and consider it.  Thankful for these words that I can share with my children, words that allow their minds to form a picture of worthy manhood in an age when manliness is often despised or perverted.

This morning we sung Faith of Our Fathers, and I was reminded anew of the obligation of each generation to pass along good and right thoughts, that they be not lost.

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious word!

Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children’s fate
If they, like them, could die for thee!

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

With all that is going on in the world: as Christians are persecuted abroad and Christian ideals are rejected more and more by our society, I want these words sunk deep into the minds of my children.

Ideas are captured in words, learned by the mind, but ultimate touch the soul.

WWW ladydusk

2

Preparing for Winter

It’s time once again for the weekly roundup of homestead happenings.  A cold spell has plagued us for the past week, but we had ample warning that it was coming and were able to prepare.

Zorro has been using his father’s axe to split firewood.  It took him 30 minutes to split his first log, but since then he has only improved.  It’s rather nice to have such a productive outlet for his boundless energy.
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While their brother split firewood, Rosie and Boo gathered straw to stuff the doghouses with.  Katie is pregnant (oops!) and will whelp around the end of November.  It’s been four years since we needed to keep a litter of pups indoors, but I think that’s what the winter will hold for us.

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I finally feel that I have perfected our bread recipe, and the system for making it.  Fresh bread three times a week has been quite a hit around here.  I I think my system just might deserve it’s own blog post.

Bread

Monday night there was quite a commotion when a pick-up rolled at the edge of our ravine.  2 ambulances, 3 Emergency Response trucks and 7 police cars lined our tiny dirt road.  Zorro and I slunk bare-foot through the woods and watched from the darkness, prompting My Man to make some vague remarks about Children of the Corn.  I ignored him, of course.

Big Wreck

This spring a peregrine falcon migrated through and took an inordinate interest in my chickens.  We spent the day outside waving sticks and shouting, and were relieved to find ourselves falcon’ free by the following day.  This event had slipped from my mind, until a looked out our large picture window to see a rooster running for dear life as a falcon dove towards him, pulling up just in time to avoid hitting our greenhouse.  There were two falcons this time, but being autumn our chickens have plenty of sheltering growth to hide under, and it wasn’t many hours before the falcons moved on.  I’ll need to make sure we’re alert to this issue in spring in case they come back through again.

Still, a falcon!  not just one, but two of them!  How cool!  As long as our chickens are safe, I don’t mind taking a day or two so we can observe these splendid birds.

I’ve been finding some interesting photography on my Kindle lately.  What big eyes you have, my dear!

SelfieStuff

See my beautiful colored pens? While I was agonizing over my choices thoughtfully deliberating my options,  My Man swiped up both packages and I ended up not having too choose.  Now I can  feel that snuggly “I am so loved” feeling every time I sit down to plan something or write in my (growing) collection of notebooks.

PresentPlanning

Last but not least, it would appear that some events are generational.  Like playing in massive amounts of fine powder, and looking slightly guilty when caught.

Powder Escapades

embrace-the-ordinarybutton

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Of Logs and Childhood

Last week a neighbor dropped off a load of logs to be cut for the winter, and they were piled on the north side of the house to await the chainsaw.  Normally I’d view them as an eyesore, but this week I have seen them through the eyes of children.

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In the last week those ugly logs have been a pirate ship, a castle, an island.  They have seen unprecedented dangers and seen miraculous rescues.  They have seen hubcaps transformed into shields, princesses saved from dragons, hordes of fish captured with stick and string.  They have been the base of spy operations, an island in the middle of shark infested waters, the hideout for dangerous bandits.  Dolls have been tucked to bed in hidden pockets, weapons have been stashed in handy places, and advancing foes have been met with flags waving defiantly.
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Like most joys in life, this one is fleeting.  Today the children helped to stack the wood their father cut and chopped, and there were a few tears as “favorite” logs were rolled away and beloved boundaries disappeared.  The pile they play on tomorrow will be significantly smaller than the one they played upon this week.

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I have no doubt their imaginations are up to the challenge.

embrace-the-ordinarybutton

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Simple Systems: Hymn Study

Throughout the month of October, Mystie did a splendid series on what she called Simple Home Systems.

I like to turn to systems when I have something I want to happen, but don’t have the brain power to dedicate to it to think it through every time deliberately. Whether it’s what I wear to what’s for dinner to almost any other small but essential responsibility, making it a system is a way to reduce decision fatigue and have more energy to invest where you get better returns on it.

As I contemplated this concept, I realized that the changes which made the greatest difference in our home have usually been Simple Systems.  In my case they generally begin as a Problem, for which I create a Complicated Solution, which leads to More Problems, then finally a Simple Solution.

Take Hymns. Hymns are a big part of our life.  They are a part of our school day, an integral part of family devotions, and an important aspect of church worship.

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Problem

With hymns spread across so much of our lives, we ended up learning new hymns or reviewing old ones, but rarely doing both.  I wanted both consistent learning and consistent review.

Complicated Solution

At first I began printing out hymns and adding them to our Memory Work Binders.  This worked well during our Circle Time, but not so well for family devotions, which usually occurred with several children piled onto their father and a squirming baby in my lap. (Imagine torn page protectors, binders opened and pages spilling everywhere: in short, frequent chaos.)  I began to notice that the versions I printed off of the internet were occasionally different than the versions we sung at church.  Add to this the fact that hymns were rapidly filling up our memory binders and making them difficult to navigate.  A long term system was needed.

Simple Solution

As our Big Purchase for this school year, we ordered four of the hymnals used by our church. These hymnals are kept right beside the Family Bible.

Each morning we begin our Circle Time with two hymns: a hymn we’re learning and a hymn we’re reviewing.

The hymn that we’re currently learning is sung every day until we know it by heart.  When we’ve learned a new hymn, I carefully “highlight” the title in the index.  (I use colored pencil, as an actual highlighter would bleed through the page.)

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The highlighted titles become our review list. We start with A and work our way through the alphabet, singing one highlighted song each day until we get through Z, then going back to A and starting over.  The hymns sung during family devotions are chosen from the highlighted titles, and the hymnals are not only easier to manage than binders, they’re also sturdier.

Simple.  Reliable.  Usable.

4

Biased Reporting: A Breakdown

I saw the headline when a friend posted it on Facebook with the warning that such events would soon be happening all across America.  It had some definite shock value. “School’s Nation of Islam handout paints Founding Fathers as racists”I read.  Even though I homeschool my own children, I do find it disturbing that public school would hand out Islamic literature.  Perhaps it was a critical thinking assignment for high school students.  Curious about the details, I click on through to read the full article.

“The mother of an eight-year-old wants to know why a Tennessee school teacher gave her child a handout from the Nation of Islam that portrayed the presidents on Mount Rushmore as being racists.”

I can understand this.  If my eight-year-old son had been given such a thing, I would want to know a whole lot more about this situation.  Luckily, this mother had Mr. Todd Starnes helping her investigate, and he’s going to tell us what he learned.

By squinting at the picture accompanying the article, you can see that this handout pulled “facts” from the lives of four great men and attempted to define them by it.  But that wasn’t the most disturbing thing.  Sommer Bauer, the mother involved, visited a link she found on this paper and discovered the Nation of Islam Research Group.  She became even more alarmed when her son’s teacher told that her son should not have taken the handout home.

“I was caught off guard,” she told me. “I reassured my son that he needed to feel safe enough to bring anything that the school gave him home to me. Ultimately, while his teachers do care for him, his mother and his father have his absolute number one best interests at heart.”

He knows he needs to bring everything home to me, she said.

Well, our talented Todd Starnes wants to entertain the possibility that this is just an genuine mistake.  Being the bold and upright reporter he is, he investigates Ms. Bauer’s story. He discusses the handout with the school principal, and the principal is disturbed as well.  “It was not an authorized handout,” he insists.

Now a new person is alarmed: Julie West, President of Parents for Truth in Education.  She sums up this disturbing situation briefly.

“We had a teacher who apparently never looked at something, never read something, before it was distributed to a class of third graders,” West said. “In addition, she warned the students not to take it home.”

In the end, our dependable Todd Starnes realizes not everyone will automatically accept his story.  He has some words for them.

But let’s suspend reality for just a moment and say the little boy did take that handout. Regardless, there’s no disputing the fact that it was on the teacher’s desk.

And I do believe the good people of Elizabethton deserve to know how and why a handout from the Nation of Islam ended up on school property.

Obviously, every conservative in the country ought to be furious!

Well, many of them are.  While Fox News may have broken the story, several other sources have picked it up in their righteous anger.  Meanwhile, an elementary school is trying to salvage its reputation.  But you can only find that if you take the trouble to search for their page.

Welcome to Elizabethton City Schools

The following is an email sent to administrators, principals, and teachers regarding the Fox News report.

Dear Folks,
      In response to yesterday’s coverage by Fox News of an occurrence involving a sheet of paper taken home by a third-grade student at Harold McCormick Elementary School, the following is an accurate clarification:  First, when this circumstance was first  brought to my attention yesterday afternoon in a phone message, I immediately called the school Principal and obtained the details.  I then call the individual at Fox back and relayed the specific information I had just gotten.  The Principal quickly had done a thorough investigation and found the following (all of which was given to Fox News, prior to his national news report): 1) the sheet in question was not a hand-out sheet distributed to the students; 2) the sheet had been generated from internet information (on Mount Rushmore for a classroom history lesson) for the purpose of providing background material for a teacher observation; 3) the location of the sheet was on a separate teacher table adjacent to the teacher’s desk; 4) the student (without permission) took the sheet from a “ton” of discarded teacher’s material on that table; then, the student took it home and gave it to the parent.
     I was able late yesterday afternoon to obtain the sheet (via fax) and saw why it was, in fact, discarded by the teacher as material to utilize in her presentation.      Now, the thought that we as public educators would deliberately distribute such material is absolutely absurd!  What was reported (which had been rebutted prior to the airing) was misleading and totally incorrect.  I can only think it was shown for its sensational effect.  Sadly, regardless of any follow-up report, our System has been defamed (possibly permanently). Should you need more information or if you have questions, please call or e-mail me.
                             Ed Alexander

When I finally read what the school had to say, I got mad.  I have come to expect twisted and biased reporting from the left. To find it on Fox News, where supposedly conservative values are respected and truth matters, absolutely infuriates me.

Mr. Starnes “article” constantly referred to the school’s “handout” and left us wondering at the weak arguments used by the school to explain why they would have used this “handout” without intending to support such a viewpoint.

But there is an essential fact left out of this “article” all together: the school  claims it wasn’t a handout.  According to the school, the teacher recognized the unsuitability of the information and declined to use it in his/her classroom.  It wasn’t given to students.  It wasn’t passed around with a note that it was to remain in the classroom so paranoid parents didn’t realize their children were being indoctrinated.  According to the school, it wasn’t used at all.  Period.

This *ought* to make a difference.  Whether you believe the school is lying or the kid is, it still matters.  This is not a case of a school trying to explain away its actions.  This is a case of a school denying such actions all together. This is not a teacher trying to backpedal after getting caught.  This is a teacher categorically denying what he/she is accused of.

It wouldn’t have been difficult for Mr. Starnes to discover more, I think.  Rather than obtaining loaded quotes from an entity (Julie West) far removed from the incident, what about contacting other parents from that class and saying “Hey, did your kids hear about this?”  If Sommer Bauer’s son is the only child who appeared with the “handout”, wouldn’t that weigh heavily in favor of the teacher’s version of events?

We may never know exactly what happened.  I think that the school’s explanation makes the most logical sense, but no matter who is lying Mr. Starnes grossly misrepresented the school’s position in this matter, and he ought to be ashamed.  I hope and pray that the “righteous fury” of conservatives does not cost a good teacher a job.  A teacher who, apparently, had the good sense to consign biased drivel to the appropriate place: the trash.  May we all do the same.

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Sunday School Literature

31 Days of Vintage E-Books

Sunday School Literature

Vintage e-booksThere was a certain class of books published at the end of the 19th Century that was clearly intended to teach children to be good.  Despised by some and revered by others, the majority of these books have been lost but a few have remained.  I like to think that it’s the better ones which have survived.  Some of my favorite works can be found in this genre, though they aren’t yet available online. In many ways this post is a teaser for my Big Project.

In today’s post I have included works by authors whom I enjoy, though I have not read all of the works listed.

Amy Le Feuvre
Teddy’s Button

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Jill’s Red Bag

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Me and Nobbles

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Bulbs and Blossoms

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Probable Sons

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

His Big Opportunity

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Carved Cupboard

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Odd

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Dwell Deep

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Charlotte Marie Tucker (A.L.O.E.)
Hebrew Heroes

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Spanish Cavalier

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Crown of Success

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Mrs. O. F. Walton
Christie’s Old Organ

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Christie, the King’s Servant

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

A Peep Behind the Scenes

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The King’s Cup-Bearer

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Saved At Sea

Project Gutenberg Page

Stephen by Florence Morse Kingsley

Project Gutenberg Page

Hesba Stretton
The Christmas Child

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Alone in London

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Little Meg’s Children

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Harold Bell Wright
That Printer of Udell’s

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Uncrowned King

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Shepherd of the Hills

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

 

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Letters and Diaries

31 Days of Vintage E-Books

Letters and Diaries

Vintage e-books

Letters on an Elk Hunt by Elinore Pruitt Stewart

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Letters of Robert Burns

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Letters of John Keats to His Family and Friends

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Letters to His Children by Theodore Roosevelt

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Letters to His Son by Earl of Philip Dormer Stanhope Chesterfield

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Letters of Amerigo Vespucci

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Letters of Jane Austen

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front, 1914-1915

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Diary of Anna Green Winslow, a Boston School Girl of 1771

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

My Diary in Serbia: April 1, 1915-Nov. 1, 1915

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

A Chambermaid’s Diary by Octave Mirbeau

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

The Journal of Sir Walter Scott

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

The Journals of Lewis and Clark, 1804-1806

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Please notify me of any incorrect or broken links.  Thanks.

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Harvard Classics Fiction

31 Days of Vintage E-Books

Harvard Classics Fiction Selections

Vintage e-books

 

Either I’m losing my touch with the search engines, or Amazon really doesn’t offer free versions of most of these books.  Either way, thank you all for your patience while I waited for a working mouse.  Pasting all of these links from a touch pad just wasn’t going to work.  😀

History of Tom Jones
Henry Fielding

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Unavailable

A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy
Laurance Sterne

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Unavailable

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Guy Mannering
Sir Walter Scott

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Vanity Fair
William Makepeace Thackeray

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

David Copperfield
Charles Dickens

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

The Mill on the Floss
George Elliot

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Rappaccini’s Daughter can be found within this book

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Rip Van Winkle can be found within this book

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

The Purloined Letter, The Fall of the House of Usher and Eleanora can all be found in this book
Edgar Allan Poe

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Tales
Bret Harte

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog

The Man Without A Country
Edward Everett Hale

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Portrait of a Lady:
Henry James
Volume 1

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Volume 2

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Notre-Dame de Paris
Victor Hugo

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Father Goriot
Honore de Balzac

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

The Devil’s Pool
George Sand

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

The Story of a White Blackbird by Alfred de Mussett
Five Short Stories by Alphonse Daudet
Walter Schnaffs’ Adventure and Two Friends, by Guy de Maupassant
Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship
Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Project Gutenberg Page

Kindle Version

The Sorrows of Young Werther
Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

The Banner of the Upright Seven, by Gottfried Keller
The Rider on the White Horse, by Theodor Storm
Trials and Tribulations, by Theodor Fontane
Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Fathers and Children
Ivan Turgenev

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

A House of Gentlefolk
Ivan Turgenev

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Pepita Jimenez
Juan Valera

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

A Happy Boy
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Skipper Worse
Alexander Kielland

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

 

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Presidential Speeches and Writings

31 Days of Vintage E-Books

State of the Union Addresses

Vintage e-books

The progression of our nation’s leadership, as seen through the State of the Union Addresses given by our presidents, is one which I find fascinating.  Enjoy.

State of the Union Addresses

George Washington

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

John Adams

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Thomas Jefferson

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

James Madison

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

James Monroe

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

John Quincy Adams

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Andrew Jackson

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Martin Van Buren

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

John Tyler

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

James K. Polk

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Zachary Taylor

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Millard Fillmore

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Franklin Pierce

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

James Buchanan

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Abraham Lincoln

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Andrew Johnson

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Ulysses S. Grant

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version

Rutherford B. Hayes

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Chester A. Arthur

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Grover Cleveland

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Benjamin Harrison

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

William McKinley

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Theodore Roosevelt

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

William H. Taft

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Not Available

Woodrow Wilson

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version 

Barack Hussein Obama

Project Gutenberg Page
Kindle Version Is Not Available Unless You Pay.  Go Figure.