" Some days we paint with large bold strokes, like when someone finishes a book report or gets a piece of music ready for performing. Most of our days are softer in color. A little dab here a little dab there, following a rough draft, but allowing ourselves to paint outside the lines when we want too. "
~ Deborah Jean

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Far East and Haiku

These two poems are the result of a wonderful lesson about the Far East in Oak Meadow's World History/Fine Arts curriculum for seventh grade. There were several choices for a project in this lesson, but our seventh grader chose to write two poems in the haiku way. I love them both and wanted to share them with you! She's working on illustrations for each of them so for the sake of  this posting I've included photos from our library.
For more Haiku inspirations visit My Year in Haiku! 

Do you have a child with strong leanings towards writing? How do you encourage them? 

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Heart for Helping Horses

Have you met Murphy? 
There comes a time in every horse lovin' farmgirls life when she has to put her money where her mouth is! That's right! I'm talkn' about little ole me! Finding my way back to horses has been on the forelock, I mean forefront of my mind for a few years now. You can read more about that here.
In the mean time, I've been doing some pokin' around locally looking for a horse rescue that is convenient enough for repeat visits and I found it last weekend not too far from home. 
Darlene Nickerson has a heart for helping horses. She owns and operates Black Feather Horse Rescue in Plymouth, MA. She is clearly a woman of great faith, commitment and drive, but it’s plain to see no one woman can do what she does alone. She never married nor had children. God did not bless her with the life of wife and mother but she's all HEART when it comes to nurturing her horses and other animals at the rescue. 

They are her family. 

She cared for her mother who had Alzheimer’s until she left this earth and her 96 year old father still lives in the house on the property where she runs the rescue and a small trout farm. Although, to hear her tell it she’s just an ordinary woman who is greatly blessed and gets to live with horses everyday.  She has help from volunteers, and horses get adopted too but there's still lots of work to be done! She raises funds with Barn Dances a couple of times a year and that helps with the high costs of running the rescue.

Murphy is her miracle horse. He came to her as a very sick horse after getting an infection in his guttural pouch. I learned that this type of infection leaves 99 percent of most horses unable to ever swallow again. Darlene tirelessly nursed him back to health never doubting for a minute he wouldn't recover. He can eat, chew and swallow all of his food and water now. Apples too!  

With the help of family and friends, Murphy's New Home ( the first of a series of books written about Darlene's EARTH ANGELS for children) has become a reality and is for sale now to raise awareness of the kind of care and funding it takes to keep a horse rescue not just alive but thriving in these often  challenging economic times.

 A second book is in production now about this handsome fella! 

As we visited and fed the horses apple snacks, Darlene shared her vision for the rescue with us. She has a deep belief in the healing power of horses. One of her goals is to eventually partner with Children’s Hospital in Boston so children can come see the horses in person or via  a web cam from the hospital to motivate them to get well enough for an in person visit to the rescue. 

If you're new to volunteering, or just plain shy about giving it a try, start with a passion near and dear to your heart. It just might lead you to a place where your help is much needed! Start in small doses to get the feel of things and in time you'll see just where your talents can be of use.

Here are some ideas for places to help.

  • Food Pantry
  • Church
  • Horse/Animal Rescue
  • Nature Center
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • International Order of the Rainbow Girls
  • Elderly Neighbors
  • Council on aging 
  • Where else? 
Do you have a Heart for Helping Horses too?  Pop on over to Black Feather Horse Rescue and meet Darlene, Murphy, Billy the goat ( I'm not kidding) and the gang. You'll just feel better. I promise! We sure did! 

Read more about Murphy the miracle horse in Darlene Nickerson's words here and get your very own copy of Murphy's New Home. Every little bit helps! 

Till next time,
Deborah Jean 
PS. Two more days to enter my book give away for SUNFLOWER HOUSES by Sharon Lovejoy here!  
The lucky Gardner/winner will be announced January 16th.

Monday, January 10, 2011


 I'm so excited to host the first 
Hands on Homeschool Blog Carnival of 2011!

Step right up! You're in for several inspiring treats today! 
Your first stop is BABY STEPS for some good old fashioned bubble blowing experiments sure to get you in a game playing mood! 

I've needed to remind Monkey that blowing bubbles in the milk isn't good manners recently (amazing, right!), so I was pretty sure he'd like this activity. It didn't disappoint." 

Now you're ready for creating and organizing for a new session

 with Shirley at Home  all the way from South Africa. 

Shirley says," Part of planning for me is decorating a new planner for each school year. In the past I have used a hard-cover A4 book, but this year I wanted something a little different. Something that could accommodate all my planning sheets as well as the numerous craft, cooking and ideas sheets that I fine throughout the year in various magazines etc..." 

How to Make a Winter Sensory Box!  

A sensory box is a container that you can put different items into for stimulating your child’s senses. Its similar to a sensory table, (like you may have seen in your child’s school or day care center). A sensory box can be any size that is convenient for your home, a shoe box works really well. Follow these simple instructions to make a winter themed sensory box for your child!

Carnivals always make me hungry. Time for a cookie!

Let's pop in on Cherylin at Talking to Myself blog ( creator of the Hands on
Homeschooling Carnival) and see whats cookin'!
 "Dear Daughter is deep into her Christmas cookie baking for the baking business she's been operating since she was 9 or 10 years old. "

 Oh, what the heck! We'll play too! 

Check out what the Diorama Diva  made from discarded shoe boxes and other random items saved for when the inspiration to create hits home. 

Marcia of Child in Harmony  shares the joys of  having a birds eye view of her Bird Haven.  

" Our Bird Haven is an inspiration. We learn so much and have fun in the process."

The Five of Us Blog  shares How to Make a Suet Log Feeder

 Last, but not least...

Sarah, from Real Life Blog shares her tried and true easy ways to add Music to your Home Schooling Curriculum even if you're not a musician!

Thanks so much to all the creative hands on home schoolers who entered this carnival and a BIG THANKS to those of you who came along for the ride!  

To submit YOUR hands on homeschooling article for future carnivals  or to host one one on your blog visit this link! 

Happy Creative Homeschooling~


Saturday, January 1, 2011


2011 is here bringing with it a blank canvas and a fresh pallet  for us to paint the rest of this homeschooling year with! Sounds exciting doesn't it?

 I know our two will be reluctant to dust off their books and pick up where we left off...It's always hard to start up again after a long relaxing vacation isn't it?

We'll start slowly, with a review of where we left off and set some new goals for finishing up the year.
Here's where we're headed!
  • Look at each Oak Meadow subject ( and Math)  to see how many lessons there are left to complete.
  • We figured out we have 22 weeks left if we want to be done by June 15th.
  • ( that means two lessons per subject per week to finish!)
  • Discuss goals ours and theirs and plan small steps to get there.
  • Each of our children received a new calendar for Christmas so we'll use those to schedule in  the extras such as sports, Scouts, music and Rainbow Girl meetings and events. 
  • Support their child led interests and offer the much needed nudge and push when motivation begins to lag. 

     And when all else fails our son will just plug in his electric guitar and let it rip!

      Music is always a part of our day to day.

 There's often a tune being played or written in the den.While the music plays ( and if there's a good deal on blueberries) I'll bake a pie...

It's always nice to have something warm and yummy to look forward to at the end of day well spent living and learning together!

Now it's time for pie and watching the snow fall! 

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of planning and over schedule. I find with two teens, it's best to keep it simple, lay things out we want to accomplish for the day and allow for plenty of flexibility. After all, we are homeschooling!

Some days we paint with large bold strokes, like when someone finishes a book report or gets a piece of music ready for performing.  Most of our days are softer in color... a little dab here a little dab there... following a rough draft but allowing ourselves to paint outside the lines when we want too. 

I'm wishing you a smooth re-entry and a creative homeschooling season!

Deborah Jean

 So, how do you PAINT your homeschooling days? To see how other's live their day to day go to Simple Homeschool and read more!

" The light of the world comes mostly from two places, the Sun and the student's lamp"