Friday, March 30, 2012

I See Someone Reading...

I see Heather.

I see! I see!

I see Heather reading.

Heather can read.

Heather can read I See Sam.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, a little girl named Heather loved to read her I See Sam books...

Many, many years later, Heather had children of her own, and now they love to read the I See Sam books, too!

I see Ladybug

I see Cowboy

I see Firefly

ALL reading I See Sam books...with a smile!!

Isn't that amazing?? Thirty-eight years and six kids later, the I See Sam books are still a favorite with Heather AND with her kids.

Bubba read them.

Tex read them.

And now Ladybug, Cowboy, and Firefly read them.

Now that's durability!!

This is the reading suitcase.

This is where we keep my old I See Sam readers (set 1) and our other phonics readers.

This is where we now keep Sets 3 and 4 from Academic Success for All Learners which we reviewed this month.

I was so excited when I saw this product listed as a review possibility. 
I had no idea these classic readers were still around!

Before choosing which readers to review, each of the kids completed an online printable assessment using the customizable Learning Guide to determine their placement level. Tex and Ladybug tested for levels three and four, while Firefly is just starting to read and needed my old set of Level One readers (yay!).

Soon after ordering our readers, we received a sturdy box containing levels 3 and 4 in the mail, and we added our new books to our Reading Suitcase.

I typed up a progress chart to keep track of the Ladybug and Cowboy's progress in my binder, and we put the tracking sheets provided by the company for the kids on the fridge.

Several times a week I asked the kids to read a Sam book and write their name on the back cover when they were done. I told them to put a check next to their name if they read the book a second (or third) time and they think that is pretty nifty. Once they are able to read each book well ON THEIR OWN, they add a star to their chart to show their progress. I fill out my chart for my own records.

Ladybug and Cowboy LOVE reading the I See Sam books because they are never intimidated and are able to achieve advancement steadily and without too much trouble. They also work on leveled readers from our shelves or the Bookmobile (typical "Easy Reader" books), but these can really stretch them and sometimes "tire" them out (especially since they usually want to choose ones above their level because of content).

The Sam readers make them "work," but at a steadier, more relaxed pace, with LOTS of reinforcement. Since each of the readers builds upon the previous ones, and adds new words and phonics patterns gradually, as long as the children master the earlier books before moving on, they are sure to be successful...hence the company moniker of Academic Success for All Learners.

Each of the children feels a strong sense of progress as they add more titles to their "done" lists. Ladybug and Cowboy can't wait to finish Set 3 so they can move on to Set 4, which they have already previewed and think looks like fun...two stories per book!

Firefly is loving being "tutored" by Ladybug, and Boo loves to be "read to" by Firefly as she practices her early sight words and phonics.

It's amazing how classics endure. Quality lasts...and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Each set of I See Sam Little Books costs only $30, or you can go all out and purchase a Deluxe Set with the first four full sets of Little Books, teaching materials (instructor's guides, progress charts, etc.), flashcard sets, a Sam (lion) puppet that roars, a coloring book, and shelf organizers for only $160...that's 91 books and all you need to teach through them all!

The instructor's guide helps the teacher know what to do when working with the students each step of the way, and each book includes prompts (such as underlining or symbols that cue teacher responses) that help you use the books interactively with your children. Also, each book contains discussion questions, and certain books (different ones with each set) are assessment books that will help you determine if your child is on track.

There are eight levels/sets of I See Sam Little Books to choose from, ranging from Kindergarten level to level 3.6. You can check out the Scope and Sequence of the books, create your own customizable guide for using and teaching with the I See Sam materials, see a demo copy of one of the books, or watch a video preview of the books.

One set of I See Sam books, just thirty dollars. 

Books that help two generations of kids gain confidence, a sense of accomplishment, and a love for reading, well, that's priceless...

See what others have to say about these fine books at the TOS Homeschool Review Crew blog.


Disclaimer: I received two sets of Little Books to enable me to review them with my kids here on this blog. The experiences and opinions you read about here are my honest impressions about this product. If you have questions about our experiences with this product, please feel free to contact me or comment.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Announcing the Winners of Three Great Christian Family Movies...

Crystal from Logistically Large won The Woodcarver...congratulations!!

Dawn from Guiding Light Homeschool won the movie Three Hearts...congratulations!!

Brenda from My Blessed Homeschool Life won The Mighty Macs...congratulations!!

As soon as you ladies get your mailing addresses to me, I will send off the information and your movies will be in the mail. Maybe they could even arrive in time for a Family Movie Night this weekend...


Home is Where the Heart Is...How Many Extra-Curricular Activities Does Your Family Do?

Home is Where the Heart Is...and where their start is.

When I had just one homeschooler and a toddler (we started homeschooling when Bubba was just out of third grade and Tex was about two), things were a lot different than they are today. First of all, I was younger. Don't laugh. It really does make a difference in some cases! Also, carting two kids hither and yon (only one of whom is in a car seat) is a lot different than lugging around four who are in car seats, and only one who is not. Organizing the learning for five (since Bubba has graduated and is running his own business away from home now) is a LOT different than planning for just one. Also, Hubby was out to sea a lot (meaning 8 months, 6 months, 10 months, and 11 months four years in a row on a submarine), so filling the time with many activities during those early years of homeschooling seemed very important. 

Oh, yes, and we were both "recovering" from the public school system at that point so our learning philosophy and educational needs were different. I had certain ideas from my years being an 8th grade teacher to overcome, and Bubba needed to heal after being in a 3rd grade classroom with a teacher who read only one book with the class in a year, made the kids miss recess every day to practice for the SOLs, and humiliated him publicly for missing one problem out of a hundred math facts problems on a regular basis (yes, I did deal with these issues at the school, but was ignored...God used it as part of His plan to convince my stubborn self that we were to homeschool).

Here's what we used to do...After a day filled with A Beka curriculum books and workbooks (the whole shebang, Teacher's Manuals and all), we'd set out for one or a combination of the following (toddler in tow): Boy Scouts, Awana, Upward Basketball and Softball, Rec Center Soccer, Swimming Lessons, Co-op meetings and classes, Homeschool Support Group meetings, Navy Wife Support Group (I was in charge of this), Wednesday Kids Church (choir, I think, for Bubba...classes for me), random field trips (we used to take Fridays off for field trips which were affordable with only one child to pay for), play dates with friends, library visits, Horticulture Club, 4-H, volunteering with the Master Gardeners at Colonial Williamsburg (in costume), and more...I just can't remember it all. It is a blur. My life was a fast-forward, get it done in a hurry (because there is more to do afterwards) blur. It filled the hours Hubby was gone and worked for Bubba because he really valued "activities," but it would not work now.

Bubba became a farrier after several apprenticeships
and completing farrier school...

These days we have slowed it waaaaay down. I will admit that some of it is due to my increased difficulties with my health (hypothyroid, migraines, etc.), but I have been doing better this last six months and have still have NO desire to go back to my hyper-scheduled ways of the past. Our philosophy of homeschooling has changed since we started home educating over thirteen years ago. We have learned a lot about what we feel is important when educating our children and surprisingly (wink), it has nothing to do with SOL testing (or any other kind of testing, for that matter) or socialization. We find that what we feel we most need to develop in our children is a heart for God, for their families, for others, and for what God wants them to do with their lives. We also find that (especially in the earlier years), we can accomplish the learning of all of those things here in our home...perhaps more effectively than if we spend a lot of time running around a lot pursuing every random interest one of the kids might have. 

Useful and family-oriented activities are extra-curricular...
picking strawberries for jam. Yum!!

I am not trying to knock anyone else's choices to indulge in a lot of sports or other outside activities. For some families and children, that works. For some, it is almost vital. We have friends whose daughter is very gifted musically and loves to sing and act, and she'd languish if she got stuck at home instead of being able to participate in her beloved acting classes, voice and piano lessons, worship team and choir rehearsals, and plays. In fact, we helped her homeschool for a few months last year when her school was damaged by a tornado and the new school schedule made it impossible for her to continue her lessons (she was scheduled for school from 12 pm to 7 pm every night), and that helped her peace of mind (and her mom's) quite a bit (and Tex and I thought it was great fun because she is delightful!). 

Local and free field trips are FUN! Searching for fossils on a beach...

However, I am not a person who believes that EVERY child needs to participate in (choose a few): ballet, gymnastics, swimming, horseback riding, art, piano, band, football, baseball, basketball, debate, student government, 4-H, scouting, musical productions, choir, yearbook, newspaper, FFA, or whatever other myriad of clubs and activities your local community supports.

Girls love playing princess and ballerina...

Yes, I agree. Many little girls love to dance. That is why we put on Tchaikovsky and the little girls dress up in their tutus and dance to the Nutcracker Suite, with their brothers joining in to save the day. We watch a version of the ballet on dvd and then the kids understand what a ballet is and the girls are inspired to do our Ballet with Rochelle dvds for a few weeks before moving on to their next "favorite" thing.

Could I enroll the girls in ballet and let them experiment that way? I suppose I could, but then I'd be asking Tex to babysit every week for those nights for several months, or dragging him, Cowboy, and Boo with me to sit and watch little girls dance for an hour or more every week (and can you imagine keeping the two year old octo-arm tornado boy occupied???!). It would cost us money for fees, outfits, and gas that I don't really need to spend because I can tell you by watching my girls that they are going to love dancing with their husband's at their weddings, but neither one of them is a budding Prima Ballerina...ballet is not where their gifts lie. That is not a way of saying that they can't dance. They both do a very nice job and could probably do well in a ballet class production, but if you watch your kids for long enough (and pay attention to them), you can see what really sparks their interest and makes them light up from inside, like God hooked up that part of them to a lightbulb and you can visibly see the glow around them when they talk about the topic they have set on their hearts.

One of these young men is a future minister, I think...

I have another friend who has four sons. Three of them participate in sports (the other is autistic). There is one who was playing football with the kids after church about three years ago and I remarked to my husband, "That boy is good. He has a talent for sports. I think they will need to develop that at some point." It seems I was right. Apparently, of the three boys, he is the "one." He's the star player on the team, does well in every position, and is humble about it to top that off. I truly believe that pursuing sports for that child is a good idea...I think he can at the very least get a scholarship to college out of it, and perhaps will wind up being a "light" on some college team, be a Recreation Specialist at a YMCA and influence many boys and girls, or maybe head up Upward Football in ten states.

The other boys play well, but it is pretty clear that their giftings lie in other areas. One is a budding pastor or missionary of some sort and needs to be out apprenticing with a pastor, going with him on calls to help people. The other one I am not certain about, but he may follow in his dad's footsteps as a Trooper or something. Does pursuing sports make their chances of doing any of those things harder? Not really, but then again, it's not helping either. Their mom is exhausted with running to many different practices (all different age groups), their Saturdays are spent completely at games, and their autistic brother and little sister spend their time sitting on the sidelines not developing anything (other than patience...and learning to be choosy about their companions, as some of the other participants do not hold the same values as their family). In my opinion, the other sons could better use their energy and time pursuing things other than sports (and it would lift a burden from my tired friend).

Fun and inexpensive field trips together.

I think that homeschooling is wonderful for so many reasons and one of the best is the fact that we can use our time wisely and tailor our children's experiences to suit their personalities and needs in a way many other families cannot. We have uninterrupted time to spend with them (during the day before everyone is exhausted) teaching them the things of the Lord, making sure that they learn to live out their walk every day, not just on Sundays. We are able to be their strongest influence, as well as their biggest and loudest cheerleaders! I can look at Tex and tell you that he is very good with people and loves to be social. We definitely need to find ways to get him out there so he can hone his skills with all types of folks (not just his age peers). That is why my husband spent this last weekend as a chaperone on a trip with the youth group and got to know the youth pastor and the kids better, while Tex got better acquainted with the kids of the several groups (who do things together frequently) and his dad gave him a few pointers on the side for his benefit. In our minds, it is ideal when parents can participate in activities with their kids or serve together doing missions work. Then you are building the family relationship as well as developing the social ones.

Doing missions together by putting together Christmas Child boxes.

We have learned that Tex is very good with computers and technology, so we are seeking experiences to develop that gift. He already cares for all of our home computers. He is going to volunteer at the library this Spring, hopefully with the IT guy. Tex has expressed an interest in both library science and editing, so we will look around our community at the newspaper, Christian radio station, and booksellers to see what opportunities might be available in areas he might enjoy exploring. He participates in a weekly Chess Club that allows him to socialize and develops his critical thinking and logic skills, and we do a homeschool 4-H club which has covered public speaking, air turbines, recycling, and more. He'd like to do the Robotics Club in the future, and has hopes of playing on the homeschool football team one year, but we will see. We can't do it all, and in the meantime, he develops his physical prowess by doing P90X, pull ups and push ups, barn chores, riding his horse (who just had a baby, so no riding for a while!), bowling with his Poppy, and riding his bike around our five mile circle. He has a guitar and a set of dvds to teach him how to play, and if he progresses with that, we will see if he can work with someone on the worship team to go farther. If not, then maybe he might be more interested in running the sound board...we will have to see.

Our Computer Expert...what will he do with his skills?

The Amigos play with each other at home all of the time. They are their own club...but they are not exclusive. Anyone who comes over anytime will be included on the spot! They are outside right now doing a nature hunt (I made a scavenger hunt sheet of about twenty things last week and they are finishing it up today) and "building" a "treehouse" under one of our bus-sized bushes. They are loving doing Awana, which I think is a huge blessing as it helps them master those skills of working in a group, as well as the focus on Bible memorization (boy, does it motivate them!). They are all singing in a small musical on Palm Sunday, and Ladybug attends 4-H with Tex, while I take the others outside to play. It's not a lot, but it seems to be enough. They do not feel they are missing out at all, and neither do I. 
I am giving them riding lessons when we have the opportunity, and my mom is helping me give them piano lessons. If any of them start showing a true gift for music or riding or anything else, we will trust that God will provide us the way (and the energy) to support them in developing their gifts, in the same way he provided a farrier/horse trainer/barn manager mentor for Bubba in Florida when he was interested in doing something with horses. 

How cool is two baby ponies in six-months...
who needs lots of extra-curricular activities?

So, I hope through all of that you were able to see that what we believe about extracurricular activities is that if being very busy with them works for you...then great! If you are happy and your kids are happy, then perhaps that is what you are supposed to do in this season of your life. It was that way for us for a while, and it may be that way again. But for now, we are content to keep our activities minimal, but carefully chosen and prayed over, with the goal of always seeking to do things that develop our children's ability to serve God according to the giftings He has given them, and to develop their hearts...most often (for now) at home.

Another inexpensive local field trip...FREE!!

Yes, sometimes when I hear moms telling of the five amazing things their kids did that week I feel a twinge of guilt over whether I am denying my children a chance to try it all and excel at everything...then I remind myself that my kids DO try an awful lot...they take care of chickens and dogs and horses and a bunny and a cat. They've had two baby ponies born this year in their barn and helped to care for them. They ride their bikes and we go on occasional field trips and we love to do nature walks. We're learning about the constellations and practicing singing "Be Thou My Vision" as a family. The girls are sewing aprons and the boys are making a bird feeder and everyone is helping work on the barn and gardens. We all love to cook and read lots of books. The Bookmobile comes by our house twice a month just to keep our book supply coming! Just because we aren't going outside the home to do most of our "extracurricular" stuff doesn't make what we do less just makes it cheaper and easier to get to!!

We love our Bookmobile. Thank you, Mr. Mike!!

I pray you have a blessed week in all your endeavors.


Read more thoughts on ExtraCurricular Activities
by checking out Tuesday's TOS Homeschool Crew Blog Cruise

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sermon Sunday---Christian: It's Not What You Think

Tex was not feeling up to par on Sunday (he fell and wrenched his knee pretty badly and it was swollen) and we said he could stay home and rest if he watched a sermon while we were gone. When we got back from church he excitedly shared how good the Christian: It's Not What You Think series from Andy Stanley is and asked if we'd watch it so we could talk about it.

Having watched part one so far, I have to agree that this has all the makings of an excellent sermon series, so if you have time this week, it would be worth your while to watch this with your family and have a lively and enlightening conversation about it around the dinner table...Then you can watch parts two and three and see where they take you (I am staying up late to watch part two right now...I can't wait until tomorrow to see it!). Enjoy.

from Andy Stanley of North Point Church 
in Alpharetta, GA

Have a blessed week,

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Action Alert--FREE! Computer Protection

As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, we were asked to review a computer protection downloadable software program called Action Alert. While Hubby already has computer monitoring stuff installed (yeah, I know that's not a very technical term...I am NOT the IT expert at our house) on our computers, I didn't mind the opportunity to try out this program, a "rebirth" of another program you might have heard of called PG Key. After all, you can never be too safe, right?

At our house, we take computer safety seriously, as I am sure you do, too. We routinely check all of the computers not only for viruses, but for access issues. Hubby has firewalls set up, as well as    . We set up our computers in common areas of the house rather than in remote areas, and whenever a computer is being used, I wander around and check up on the users from time to time, to make sure they are on task, as well as only on approved sites. To make that job easier for me to keep up with, I even set up blogs for our kids with links to their school sites and other approved sites (see their sites by clicking on the links on the left sidebar), and I have a website, homeschool-for-free, which we use to organize educational and fun sites the kids like that I have already checked out and approve of. So far, this approach has worked for us. We have had no problems with internet use. The worst problem we have had has been some spam that arrives on this blog or in our email box, and that all gets immediately deleted.

Still, we thought the idea of being able to monitor the kids' activities even more closely was interesting, so we checked out the Action Alert website to see what they have to offer. It seems that Action Alert combines eight internet safety tools (see below) in their FREE downloadable version:

 By upgrading to their Maximum Protection Program for a fee of $29.99, you add mulitple computer protection and make the program fully customizable, plus add social network monitoring. We received the Maximum Protection Plan for our review.

I will be honest right away and tell you a few things. First, Hubby is the IT go-to guy around here (though Tex is fast learning most of his moves), and he was away on a trip for much of this review period. So as far as customizing our didn't get done very well, as I just didn't find the process particularly user-friendly. However, the customer service department WAS very friendly and helpful and they answered my questions quickly and they were easy to get in touch with and to talk to.

Secondly, I have a new laptop. It was a blessing from a friend of Hubby's whom he'd helped out a time or two, after my original laptop's hard drive crashed irreparably. In any case, my new HP laptop was running great before we downloaded Action Alert. Since the download occurred, I have had issues with it running more slowly and seen both Internet Explorer and Google Chrome crash inexplicably. We will probably be uninstalling the program now that this review is done. No hard feelings Action Alert, but there just isn't any other explanation for the problems...

I've also had to add several perfectly innocuous sites I regularly use (homeschool ones) to the "safe" list becuase for some weird reason, the program was blocking access to them. Once I added them to the "good" list, I never had trouble again with accessing them (and while the patient Customer Service rep talked me through the process, it took a chunk out of an already busy day), but it was frustrating, especially since they weren't even close to being questionable sites (one was a frequently used free downloadable printables site).

Lastly, we did get emails that notified us if questionable terms were used in searches, but they didn't always make sense. I got one today when I was using the computer about me typing in the word "kil*ing" and I honestly could not remember typing that in ever...unless I typed something like, "My back is killing me...what do I do?" but I didn't. I think the idea of this feature is a great concept, and would be especially useful if mom and/or dad are often gone (or working at home away from the kids) and have fancy cell phones to get text messages on alerting them of potential problems (the e-mail or text itself allows the parent to shut down the computer remotely when a potential problem is spotted...nice!), but I am always here, I do not have a fancy phone, and I am not on my computer all day to use it to monitor Tex's internet forays. It is easier for me to walk into the living room or dining room and peek over his shoulder. I have popped in unexpectedly before when I thought something a bit off was going on and the worst I've ever caught him doing was wasting time playing some silly game called Plants vs. Zombies...usually he's "wasting time" doing more Khan Academy than he needs to (to put off doing his science), or changing songs on Pandora or Spottify (and he follows our rules for song choices pretty well).

While this product did not suit our family (our little ones are well enough protected by our current protection and my personal monitoring of their activities, and I am just not "plugged in" enough to use this technology efficiently), it might work for yours. Some families are tech savvy enough that getting texts about computer use will help them organize things better. Some families will appreciate being able to set limits on computer usage by using this program. Even other families might already be aware of hidden issues and this program might just be what you need to keep things on track.

If you have a need for an Internet security program, you should check out Action Alert. You can try the FREE! version of the program and see if it works with your computers and your family situation. Then, if it suits you, you can go ahead and buy the Max Protection for a one time fee of under thirty dollars instead of an annual fee...that's a great price, isn't it? [And here's a little hint for you since you read this far...if you want to buy the Maximum Protection Program, click on the link to download the freebie program and when I wrote this it was on special for only $19.99 for the full deal...a savings of 33%!]. Also, remember, if you buy the Max Protection, you have a 30 day money back guarantee if problems turn up, and their customer service was very helpful (they also help you even if you only have the free program).


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Surprise, Baby!

Guess what showed up in our "in box" this morning?
(box stall, that is)...

This adorable baby Quarter Horse.

Dusty is the Palomino on the left.

It seems that Mr. Dusty Gold Bars, Bubba's Quarter Horse gelding, was a bit busy last year before he got "fixed" (we did have him in a separate pasture, it was through the fence, we guess...ugh).

You might have seen a while back that the first of his progeny arrived a mere three days before Hurricane Irene blew in for a visit.

Dusty's Briar Rose (Rosie) is part Shetland pony, part Quarter Horse. You can stop laughing now. Yes, I know it is funny trying to picture a Quarter HORSE and a tiny Shetland PONY, but apparently it happened. We weren't really sure when, but we did figure it out about a month before the due date since Merry started looking a bit pudgier than she usually gets on summer grass. Yeah, pudgy with a baby.

Rosie arrived with no problems one morning in between the horses getting fed and the mid-morning turn out. Tex and I were startled when we saw that there was a baby in that stall that wasn't there before! This is the last update I posted some months ago. She's a lot bigger now, but still cute and friendly as can be.
 This was Rosie today, wondering who the new arrival is
and why she is already as tall as fair!

Lily's pregnancy, on the other hand, was a complete surprise. Kind of like those strange shows on cable where the moms claim they didn't even know they were pregnant until they gave birth...right. Do you ever believe them??

Just the other day, Lily was getting led to the back pasture and Tex and I were chatting saying, "It's too bad Dusty didn't manage to get Lily pregnant before he got gelded. Rosie is so cute. I'll bet Lily's baby would be beautiful. But it's been a year (last March 23rd, to be exact), so I guess we're out of luck." Seriously. I am not making that up. We actually had that conversation just a few days ago. Apparently it went straight from our lips to God's ears.

Lily spent a few days in the back pasture to graze when the weather was nice, and came back in with a quarter-sized wound on her back leg. Who knows what she was up to out there...So we put her in a stall for a few days to treat the injury and keep her still (one I built in six hours as an emergency solution until Hubby could be home over the weekend), and she seemed fine for a few days. Then I noticed yesterday that she wasn't looking so hot. She was acting sort of listless and a looked bit ribby with a slightly poochy belly (one sign of worms). I figured I'd worm her in the morning (I had to pick up a wormer at the feed store) and call the vet if she was looking no better, just in case the leg was worse than it looked to me.

Well, Tex came running in this morning not more than five minutes after he went out. He was yelling, "Mom, come now. Hurry. It's an emergency. Come quick!" I was half-dressed, so I grabbed the first thing I could find, and ran out of my room thinking, "The mare is dead. She died because I didn't call the vet yesterday. Oh no." I hit the landing in a panic and ran for the door, then Tex said, "There's a baby in Lily's stall!!"

What! What did you just say? Stop. Repeat that. A baby? I was dumbfounded (and relieved that nothing was dead). The Amigos were jumping around, yelling excitedly (and loudly) that they wanted to go out and see, too. No way. I sat Ladybug down and told her they all needed to sit on the couch and watch television for a while...anything they wanted (I rarely say that...we do have a nice selection of good videos, though...the worst thing they would find would be Dora the Explorer), and that we would be in as soon as possible and let them have a chance to see the baby horse.

Tex and I ran back outside and sure enough, there was this delightful creature standing in our newly built stall (thank you Hubby and Poppy for doing that last weekend).

The neatest part of the story (other than the surprise baby, which is pretty amazing) is that something unexpected happened last weekend, and we were unable to attend the Teach the Diligently conference as planned, so we stayed home and built two new stalls instead...was that a God-thing or what?? So, if Lily hadn't hurt her leg, she not have had a stall and she might have given birth in the pasture in the middle of a rainstorm...Two incredible examples of God using things that could have been seen as negative for good...Thank you, Lord!!

The baby filly is beautiful. No name yet. Just Pippi for now (short for pipsqueak...until we choose her forever name).

She has her mama's head, and her daddy's coloring. A pretty blaze with a star. No socks. Absolutely precious and miraculous.

She's as sweet as can be, but is having a bit of a time figuring out nursing. Her Mama is a first-timer (maiden) mare and her milk is a bit backed up while they are working things out. Those of you who are nursing mamas can sympathize with Lily's plight. Phillip came over tonight and remembered something he read in a James Herriot book about milking cows with udder problems and got her unclogged a bit better than I had been doing and the baby had a nice meal before lying down.

Everyone was very excited today (well, except maybe for Jake...he's just glad he's a boy and doesn't have to put up with these sorts of unexpected surprises).

It was a BIG surprise. An unexpected blessing. I am very thankful for those happy surprises when they come. God is so good.

Welcome to Blessing Farm, baby Pippi, and Happy Birth-day.


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