Saturday, November 27, 2010

Time for Dickens!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Virginia and the Cowboy Way

Each of the Justus children love the singing cowboys; Virginia loves to sit and watch Roy Rogers and Dale Evans movies with Daddy on Sunday afternoons. She was very excited to have her picture taken with these singing cowboys: Woody Paul, "Too Slim", Ranger Doug and Joey, "the Cow Polka King."

After the concert we toured the Boothe Museum of Western Art. They have a fabulous collection of western art.  Before the concert, we attended the "Cowboy Days" activities outside the museum, including a reenactment of the Gunfight at the OK Corral. The action was described by an historian of the era as the actors displayed first, in slow motion, and then in "real time," the gunfight. James Martin loved hearing about all the people involved and the circumstances that led up to the confrontation.

All of this would tickle my parents and grandfathers for certain.  Moma and Daddy always loved Marty Robbins and his ballads about the Old West. Moma told me that when she was a little girl, she would watch the movies on Saturdays at the theater. Pawpaw would read a western every night before going to sleep, and I remember Grandaddy watching westerns on TV. They would all be pleased that the Justus children are growing up with their old friends--Marty, Roy and Dale, Marshall Dillon and the Cartwrights.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Schoolhouse to Your's!

Some Thoughts Going into the Thanksgiving Break

We are all excited about having some time off from school. This has been the busiest semester of my teaching experience (two new preps). We have spent many an evening at school after supper. This is not a complaint. I am so grateful to have a job that I truly love, and one that allows maximum time with our family. The homeschool program in which the children are enrolled is marvelous, but very demanding, almost exhaustive. I understand why--to meet the SACS requirements in distance learning is very difficult.  The positive side of this is that the kids are learning not only thier subjects, but that all-important work-ethic. Moreover, they have to be somewhat self-disciplined to work steadily each day.  Many of my students are "hares" rather than tortoises. They procrastinate and wait to the last minute to study or complete assignments with sometimes disatrous results.  I feel like circumstances force me into that position from time to time, but the fault is really my own. My time management skills definitely need some work.
With our break this week, I hope that we can all sit down together to catch our collective breath and re-prioritize our lives.  What is important? What is MOST important? Each day is a gift from the Lord, and I want to be a better steward of these gifts.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Our trips to Church take us about 30 minutes each way.  On Sunday mornings, we listen to Bill Mack's "Sunday Social" and "Classic Cowboy Corral" with Ranger Doug.  But Sunday nights are a little different. We are currently listening to Sir Walter Scott's 1818 classic tale of Medieval chilvary, Ivanhoe. We are listening to a dramatic reading by the British actor, David Warner.  The presentation is not dramatized as such, but his reading is very dramatic.  His reading makes this story even more enthralling.
Maybe after we are finished listening (and this will take several trips to and from Church), we can watch the movie with Robert Taylor and Joan Fontaine and Elizabeth Taylor and Rebecca.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Adams Chronicles

One of Dad's favorite mini-series was produced by PBS in 1976 (remember the "Bicentennial Minute" too?) called The Adams Chronicles. A while back, it was released on DVD in the wake of the popular  HBO mini-series about our great second President.  We started watching this tonight after Church, and everyone really loves it! I am glad the kids like history as much as Michael and I do.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reading Together Charles M. Sheldon's Classic

This very hectic semester has been given a little bit of stability through our reading together of favorite books and stories.  We read Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" as we do every year.  We are getting ready to take out our Dickens pretty soon as the Christmas season approaches.  A couple of times, the boys and I hiave started Sheldon's In His Steps.  I have had a strong sense that we need to pull this beloved title out again, this time including Ima Virginia.  Perhaps the Lord wishes to speak to us throught this meaningful work of fiction--I am looking forward to seeing what He has for us to learn.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Magistra et Discipuli

We were able to visit so many historic sites and museums on this vacation, We are  going to count them as at least one day of school! (179 to go!)  We must complete 180 days of instruction, and that may include some field trips (we would not abuse that privilege). We visited memorials for Presidents McKinley, William Henry Harrison and Harding. We went to the Creation Museum and to the First Ladies Historic Site.  We had a great time!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

School Days!

Well, "Back-to-School" time is almost here! I am so excited.  We are going to be doing some different things this year, and Mom has lots of new material to teach.  John Thomas will be taking Latin I at the College.  James Martin will have some really interesting electives, and Virginia will have her favorite teacher for several subjects in her DVD lessons.  They are each participating in the A Beka SACS-accredited program. 

This year, we want to increase our reading a bit (me included!) and decrease the TV a lot.  Our school books are scheduled to arrive Monday and I will be working on organizing lessons by Tuesday.  We are all so grateful to be able to do this another year.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Corbin, KY--"Where It All Began"

One of our favorite stops is always the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin, KY. This restaurant in Corbin was the original home of KFC. Inside, they keep a little museum with mementos from those earlier days. As you can see, KFC makes children grow tall!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

. . . whatsoever things . . .

I have wanted to post for some time on one of our blogs my feelings about reading and book choices offered children today.  Years ago, before the idea of homeschooling ever entered our minds, my husband and I ran into a really telling situation at a used book store.  I was browsing through the children's section and overheard a conversation between two school teachers. They were buying all the Goosebump story books they could. The shelves were full of classics (and I'm not talking about Don Quixote, but wonderful children's authors like Robert McCloskey).  Unfortunately, I could not hold my tongue and made a comment about their choices. They were incensed, of course, but the only reply they could muster was something to the effect, "well, does it matter as long as they are reading?" Oh dear. Yes, it does matter what our children are reading.

We have stayed away from the Harry Potter and Twilight books. These series deal with sorcery, witchcraft, vampires and a host of other ungodly creatures and topics. If you visit a large retail book store, look at the teen books--they are all about vampires (no Lucy Maud Montgomery anywhere) and sexuality.  The covers are horrific and often extremely  suggestive.  Yes, it does matter what our children are reading.

We are viewed as odd by many close to us, but that is really ok. Michael and I are responsible for guiding our children's choices until they can make those choices themselves.  I am proud of what they read: the boys read the classics: yes, John Thomas is  reading Don Quixote, and will then begin Dickens' The Pickwick Papers. We have read Mark Twain, Dickens, and Robert Louis Stevenson classics together, and independently, they have read so many classic works of children's literature. Virginia loves Catherine Marshall and Carolyn Keene! She has read everything by Mrs. Marshall she can find, and also loves the classic Nancy Drew stories. She is working her way through the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace.
Yes, it does matter what our children are reading.

Scripture, as always, states this best:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

Sunday, June 13, 2010


For some time, the boys and I have read books aloud together. This is apart from some of our other reading projects.  Together we have read, In His Steps, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," "Rip van Winkle," A Christmas Carol, and The Prince and the Pauper. Now, we are working on Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped. The tremendous adventures of young David Balfour carry us away to faraway places and put us in the presence of some rather frightening pirates and scoundrels.  (Oh yes, we also read Treasure Island). The boys really seem to be getting into the pirate life--I love hearing them read with their "pirate accents." We are also reading a biography of Stevenson and some of his beautiful poetry.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Back to School--In June?

Yes! Back to School, at least for John Thomas.  Today marks the official beginning of his collegiate career. He will be taking a class in World History this summer and Latin I in the fall. He will be continuing his A Beka  homeschooling program for two more years, but he will also pick up a couple of courses and earn college credit early.  Many high schools offer dual-enrollment courses whereby high school students can get a "jump-start" on their college education while still at home. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The GHEA Conference

Every summer for the past five years, our family has loaded up in the MMHF (we call our van the "Mobile Mental Health Facility) and attended the Georgia Home Educators Association Conference.  There are always interesting speakers and lots and lots of book vendors.  Our favorite book sellers are Beacon Books, a Mennonite Company that sells the wonderful Rod and Staff homeschool materials. We also enjoy seeing our friends from A Beka, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Prussia. We are part of the A Beka SACS-accredited program, and I can't say enough about that program.  It is marvelous. Rod and Staff materials supplement our curriculum (and they have the most beautiful coloring books for Mom).

Anyway, this conference is one of the kids' favorite things to do each year. Pictured here with the boys is their friend, Ricky. I think that Ricky is out of school now, but he always comes to spend time with the Justus Brothers.  They play their Redemption card game and chess. I wish we had a picture of their trading card notebooks all spread out on the table. This year, they spent time with another friend named Clayton. I wish we had a picture of Clayton. He is a fine young gentlemen as well. 

Of course, this fine photo was taken by Ima Virginia, our resident camera and blog expert.  She enjoyed herself as well.  She enjoys tagging along with them, and they seem to not mind very much. : D

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Mission Work Monday

Hi! James Martin here. Yesterday, I went with my dad to Habersham County to help fill buckets. What do I fill the buckets with? Food. It's to help the people in Haiti who had suffered because of the earthquake. With my dad's help, I put in a bucket black beans, rice, peanut butter, sugar, and cooking oil. (I don't see how rice and peanut butter go together exactly, but that's ok) After we filled it, it weighed 30 pounds! We took it out to the van and my dad visited with a sick member of our church. Then we drove over to the church where the buckets are dropped off. We counted all the buckets (including ours) and there was a whopping 174 buckets! I felt good for doing that. It shows that Christians on the homefront can serve and do missions too.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Friends from the Past

I so appreciate the fact that the kids enjoy the old TV shows Michael and I watched when were growing up.  One of my favorites was "Flipper."  I liked it not only because of the "star" of the show, but also because it was set in Florida.

As I type this, Virginia is in the living room now, curled up with Lottie, with "Flipper" on the DVD player. I wish they would put out more of the episodes; only Season 1 is available now. 

Do any of you remember "Gentle Ben" with Dennis Weaver and Clint Howard? Or how about this wonderful, but obscure title, "My World and Welcome to It"? This program starred William Windom and was based on characters created by James Thurber. I think it is due to come out, but I don't know exactly when.

What are some of your old favorite TV shows? Don't you miss these days of better tv?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Musical Week

This has been a good week to hear good music!  Thursday night, we went to the White County Historical Society's monthly meeting; there we heard the Yonah Brass Ensemble. They played some wonderful pieces, beginning with the Star Spangled Banner and ending with a rousing rendention of Dixie. (Beginning with one national anthem and ending with another).  Then, Friday evening, John Thomas was asked to participate in a recital at a Church in Sautee. We were able to hear not only beautiful piano music, but some violin players and voice students as well. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Best Snow Day Ever!

We have had such a great day today.  We woke up to a beautiful snowy day. We were expecting snow but not until later in the day.  Dad found out that all of his classes were canceled.  We were all able to do some things we wanted to do--I was able to clean off my desk and begin a new Bible study.  Virginia was able to "visit" with one of her on-line friends. James Martin sat and watched True Grit (one of his very favorite movies) and John Thomas read and worked on a few things for school. 
For supper we had delicious Stouffer's lasagna and salad.  For dessert, Dad made us a huge bowl of snow cream.
As if this wans't wonderful enough, we played their Richard Scarry game they had received for Christmas.  The children have always loved Richard Scarry, and I don't think they will ever outgrow these great little characters.  Daddy joined us and we had a blast with the game. 
Later, Virginia worked on her cross stitch while the boys and I had a Richard Scarry coloring party.  She had "Flipper" on in the background--the great show from the 60's. 
You can see why we think this was the "Best Snow Day Ever!"

Friday, February 26, 2010

Classical Music

In our homeschool, we love classical music. We thought you might like the beautiful piece by Beethoven.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Speaking of Eleanor Estes . . .

Many years ago, I think when I was in third grade, I read this story in one of our reading book collections of stories.  I found it again a while back and bought it for Virginia.  We have just found a book of writing activities to go along with this beautiful story,  I can't wait to start it with her this week.

Well, we have finished another of the Moffat books by Eleanor Estes.  We have completed The Moffats, The Moffat Museum, and now, Rufus M.  We'll get to The Middle Moffat before too long.  These lovely stories are set in the New England town of Cranbury, and detail the everyday lives of the Moffat family.    World War I is in the background, and we learn of rationing, oleo, mailing cards to soldiers and the Armistice.  However, these stories are mainly about the joys of childhood--joys in everyday life. The chapters are longer than many chapter books written today and there are no deep meanings and lessons about life other than the love of family and the extraordinary fun in ordinary things!
We have read these books and others like them (Homer Price, for example) aloud for years now.  Please be encouraged to read to and with your children even after they are past the Dr. Seuss books!