The Land of Boys

Learning to live in a house full of testosterone

Archive for the month “March, 2010”

Botany Lessons

This year the younger two Gilliland boys are learning Botany. Bleh… Of all sciences, I think Botany is my least favorite.  I took Physics in high school to get out  of Botany. Now I’m teaching it. Strange, huh? I am not what you would call “green thumbed”.  At all. Every time I have gotten a houseplant, it dies. Once, at a store I suggested to Mark getting a fern because it was pretty. He said, “Well, once we get it home it won’t be pretty anymore. It will just die.” (he was probably right, by the way!)

So now I am in the midst of teaching on a subject that I have no experience in, no interest in, and no real desire to be teaching. Despite all that, I have been fascinated by a few things I have learned.

We started a light hut this fall. For anyone who might be wondering a light hut is just a foil-lined box with a light bulb attached to the top. We bought peat moss and seeds with the intention of planting a kitchen herb garden and some lavender to make into homemade soap to give as Christmas gifts. Then Fall allergies hit. Mark was sick, not just with allergies. If you have peat moss under a light bulb, it dries out quickly. If you have a mom run ragged by everyone and their ailments, she forgets to water the plants. If you forget to water the plants, they die. So when the dust settled and everyone was feeling better, we tried again. This time they were destroyed by the box being lifted up and dropped by an unnamed cutie.  We gave up until recently. We got a new, bigger box. We got more seeds, these for some pretty flowers to put in our very neglected flower beds. New moss, new light bulb, everything is all new.  So we planted out seeds almost a week ago. Several of them have sprouted already. It is amazing to see how the plants are sprouting at different times. They were all planted the same day. Some are just shooting up more quickly than others.


These moonflowers came from the same seed pouch and were planted all the same day, at the same time, yet each seed is sprouting at a slightly time than the others. It makes me think of my kids. They were born of the same parents. They have all been raised pretty much the same, yet they each have their own distinct personalities. Nathaniel is very serious. He likes to know the technical side of everything. Going to the mailbox, he stops at the end of the driveway, looks both ways and crosses, gets the mail, looks again, and comes back. He is sensibly modest. In a dressing room, he goes in, shuts the door and tries on his clothes, gets redressed, and comes out. Benjamin is the cut up. Everything has to be funny. Even things that are very not funny he tries to make into a joke. He does not take many things serious enough. He goes to the mail box and if he remembers someone might be looking, he looks one or two ways, crosses the street, then comes back while looking at the mail. (Wherein he gets scolded for not looking before crossing the road on the way back.) He is extremely immodest. He has been known to strut through the living room in just a towel when we have company. (He’ll say “it’s just _________. They don’t care!” I think he’d say that if we had a queen or something as a guest) In a dressing room, he goes in and starts undressing before the door is shut. He’ll kick his shoes off and they might or might not end up in the dressing room hallway. Samuel is somehow different from both of them. He is very sweet. He always looks to the rosie side of things. He is funny without trying to tell jokes. He is cautious, almost to a fault. Going to the mailbox, he stops at the end of the driveway, looks both ways, looks both ways again, sometimes looks a third time, holds my hand and crosses. (He’d probably look more times, but I tell him to stop, that we have looked enough) On the way back we have to look multiple times, too. He is very modest. When he takes  a bath, he bathes himself, but I still wash his hair. He does not want me in the bathroom when he is undressing or getting in the tub. He keeps himself covered when he walks from the bathroom to his room. In a dressing room, he shuts the door, checks the lock, jiggles it to be sure, then tries it again, just for good measure. He was trying on several things one day so I wanted to go in to help him. I had to promise not look while he was changing. Benjamin tried on a shirt that did not fit that day. He came to Samuel’s door (shirtless, of course) and tried to walk in. Samuel said”It’s a good thing that lock is there. Benj would have just barged right in and me in just my pants!” My little sproutlings are all very different.

Another thing has been a spiritual lesson.  Yesterday the weather was beautiful. I started getting the weeds out of the flower bed. (or weed bed as we call it) I was shocked by the roots of some of the weeds.  They went so deep. They were so strong and stable. It was hard work to get the roots out. However, I know what will happen if I do not get the roots. I have cleaned this flower bed out before. Just cutting the tops off of the weeds, getting part of the roots does no good. The weeds spring right back up. It is only digging very deeply and removing the entire root that gets the ugliness out so the beauty can thrive. As tough as the weed roots are, however, the flower roots are that much delicate. Some flowers have roots that almost look like hair. Some flowers have delicate stem that if they are broken or damaged, the whole plant dies. It is much harder to keep beautiful flowers alive than to keep weeds alive. I have never watered or fertilized the weeds, but they keep thriving. Last year we had a few zinnias and a sunflower in our flower bed. They had to be watered frequently or they wilted. It took work to keep them growing. I kept trying to kill the weeds, but they kept coming back. No work on them, no special attention. I see a pattern in  my life. The things that have beauty, value and goodness take work. Those are the things that I have to put forth effort to accomplish. However, there are things in my life that I don’t have to work on that if left to themselves would grow out of control and consume and overpower any good and beautiful thing that might try to be there.  Just like the weeds left unchecked  can choke the beauty out of a  garden, sin left unchecked can choke the beauty out of  a believer’s life.

Lord, please help me to dig deep and remove the roots of my sinful behaviors. Help me to cultivate the beautiful things that bring You glory.


Another Reason To Love Tapestry of Grace

Wow. This is huge. Five very lucky people are going to win a HUGE prize from Tapestry of Grace. The prize???? All Four year plans of TOG in digital format!!! Not just the units, but the supplements to go along!!! This is amazing! If you are a TOG user or have thought about it this is your chance!! To enter click here. You do have to set up an account with Lampstand Press (which is free and you do not have to accept unwanted e-mails or anything).  To enter you have to “purchase” a free ticket. That is all. They will draw from five categories: 1.)People who have purchased 4 Redesigned Year-Plans; 2.) People who have purchased 3; 3.) People who have purchased 2; 4.) People who have purchased 1; 5.) people who have never purchased anything from them.

This is awesome! Good luck to everyone who enters!!!

Why I LOVE Tapestry of Grace

Spring is here. For some people that means pulling shorts and flip flops out of the dark closet where they have been hiding. For some it means allergies are about to attack. For homeschoolers it means time to evaluate what has worked or not worked in their schooling and plan for next year. I know that every homeschool family has their (*ahem, strong) feelings about what is best. Here’s mine.

Tapestry of Grace is to me the most wonderful homeschool curriculum on the market. It brings our whole family together, studying the same subject at once. It incorporates history, geography, literature, art, worldview, church history,  and philosophy (high school) in one neat package. The teacher’s manuals are huge! Each of the four units needed for one year needs a 2-3 inch binder.  Inside that teacher’s manual is a world of information. Each unit is broken down into weekly segments. Inside each week you can find a reading list, student activity pages, suggested hands-on crafts, vocabulary word lists, teacher’s notes, fine arts lessons, and the Pageant of Philosophy( a skit to help  high schoolers).

You might be saying to yourself “What’s so special about all that?”  Let me tell you- everything! The readings lists for each year are hefty. I printed off next year’s list. It is four pages long! We have a lot of those books already. (whew!) I was showing Mark the list recently. His face went pale, his voice got shaky and he weakly muttered, “You mean we need all those books?!?!?” (what I was showing him was the fact that we already had a lot of them!) One of the beauties of TOG is that you have a book list, but that doesn’t mean you have to read every book on the list. They are divided into history, core (meaning the most important); history, in-depth ( for those who want to get more out of their studies than just the bare minimal facts), some weeks there is a suggested read aloud here; literature; arts and activities; worldview, and writing. You can choose to do or not do any of the suggested reading. We like to go for the whole she-bang because we are kind of nerdy. (As a matter of fact Benjamin likes to read all of his books, plus all of Samuel’s. He’d probably read Nathaniel’s too, if I let him but we need to save something for next go around!)

I love how TOG is divided into different stages, not just grades. There is Lower Grammar (K-3), Upper Grammar (3-6), Dialectic (5-8) and Rhetoric (9-12).  I love how they take into consideration that some kids are more or less advanced than others and plan accordingly. Benjamin and Samuel could have both been in Lower Grammar this year, but Benjamin, being the voracious reader that he is, would have been very bored. Each stage takes into consideration maturity levels and what a child is likely to be able to handle. During our studies of the Assyrians, for example, Benjamin and Samuel learned they were mean. Nathaniel learned about some of the mean things they did.  Benjamin and Samuel are not ready to hear about those things. The people who chose the books for the reading lists take everything into consideration. They even give a warning in the teacher’s manual if illustrations are scary, or if the text on a page has something bad, or nudity is pictured. (do they make any Greek or Roman books without pictures of naked statues?) So far we have not come across anything that we found objectionable, and we (maybe I should say *I*) are (am) kind of prudish.

So, now that I have talked about the mechanics of TOG, let me get to the heart of the matter. What really, really makes me all ga-ga over homeschool curriculum: their way of bringing God’s glory in everything. Every time period we have studied, every culture within that time frame is looked at through the lens of a Christian worldview. We are seeing how God raised up kingdoms and empires only to bring them crashing down for not serving Him. We are seeing how the Israelites were preserved time and time again. We are learning how God put everything in place to make the world ready to receive her Savior. We will learn later in the year how He spread His word throughout the land. Not only are my kids gaining loads of head knowledge, they are gaining heart knowledge. To some people that may not mean much, but to our family that is the more important knowledge. That is one of the main reasons we started homeschooling. Yes, we want them to be prepared to be successful adults when they are out and about in the world. We just feel that it is more important to be successful when they face the next world.

Pharaoh Samuel

Pharaoh Samuel



Benjamin's sandals he made

Nathaniel and his Greek ship made of duct tape

Hamantashen for Purim

Two kings and a Haman (boo!)


You Are Loved

We were younger then, you and me, full of dreams, weren’t we?
I went my way, you went yours, where did you go, dear?
Someone said you had left the life we lived together then
This is my way of reaching out ‘cause I remember…

This is what I want to say to you
If I had one chance to speak to your heart-
“You are loved
More than you could ever know.”
This is what I want to say to you
If I had one chance to tell you something-
“You are loved
More than you can imagine.”

If I told you would you believe, the narrow road, I did not leave
If I told you would you understand that I’ve found truth
Are you jaded? Are you hurting now? How I wish that I could tell
Where your heart’s at…can you see? Mine has found – home

Not sure if I’ve, made it clear enough
It’s not my love I sing about
Everybody asks, “Is God good?”
I believe, He is
In fact I know, He is

This is what I want to say to you
If I had one chance to speak to your heart-
“You are loved
More than you could ever know,”
This is what I want to say to you
If I had one chance to tell you something-
“You are loved
More than you can imagine.”
Imagine, imagine, imagine…

~Rebecca St James

Cheap Books Make Me Smile :D

I have a shopping  addiction. It is a strange one, perhaps, to some. Most women like to shop for shoes, clothes, etc… Me, I don’t care for that stuff. My fix comes from books. You can keep your malls and boutiques. Just leave me a space in the bookstore.

I especially love children’s books. I could spend hours in a bookstore just looking at illustrations and reading fairly simple texts. My favorite novels (besides some written by Charles Dickens) are written for children-Narnia, Eragon, Rifles for Watie and The Hobbit. So, I guess you figure out we have a lot of children’s books floating around. (hey, they are not all for me; we do have three kids)

As a result, Tapestry of Grace is the perfect homeschool curriculum choice for our family.  The boys are reading really great literature. The only problem is, our local library doesn’t really cater to the classical type literature for kids. Seriously, Nathaniel wanted a biography of Stonewall Jackson. They did not have one. They had celebrities, not historical figures. So getting all our fabulous books from them is a no-go.  We have been building a home library for the boys since they were born. Thankfully for each year of Tapestry we already have some books. The others, however, have to be purchased. Which can get expensive.

While perusing the world of fellow bloggers, I came across Homeschool Library Builder. Can I just say that this may very well be my new favorite website? They sell new and used books for a fraction of the price of bookstores and most online book sellers. Not only that, but you can earn points to earn FREE BOOKS just by buying books!!!!! How exciting is that?!?!?!?!? As if that is not enough, you can also do a search by curriculum (Ambleside, Beautiful Feet, Five in a Row, Heart of Dakota, Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, Veritas Press) to help you find your books more easily.  If you sign up, you can even help me earn points by telling them I sent you there. (my user name is mrsrevmeg) I was skeptical about what the books would look like, would they have any weird smells, would someone else’s account really get credited. I was very pleasantly surprised. I had to look at my invoice to remember which books had been used. They all were in awesome, like new condition. I received a handwritten note that thanked me for my order and said they credited the other person’s account. Wow. That is not something you get from most places.

Even if you are not a homeschooler and are just a regular book-lover, you should check this site out. They have soooo many books at such great prices.

Post Navigation