New Paperbacks!

January 17, 2018

New Paperback Books!

Introducing the paperback versions of The Brown Sheep Prank and A Foundling Furball!  These two short chapter books are parts 2 and 3 in The Devonians (following #1, Daydreamer).

Christina Tart did the illustrations except for Rebeccah’s design of Tawny, the “foundling furball” in book 3.

The Devonians are space castaways who have made their own life on a new planet called “Devonia” in a village named “Covenant.”  Each book follows the adventures of some of the younger colonists.  Daydreamer introduced the Taylor family with their five boys and baby Rose.  The Brown Sheep Prank highlights on the Summers’ family farm because Alena’s family keeps the only herd of Brown-Sheep.  Alena Summers and Joseph Taylor are best friends.  Alena gives readers a tour of her snug little house and you get to see where Alena, her two sisters, and younger brother, Michael, sleep.  In A Foundling Furball, the older of the Taylor and Summers children find a strange orphan animal at their favorite fishing spot!  Matthew Taylor and Janine Summers have a fun way to catch fish using teamwork.   Mr. Summers, Alena’s dad, tells the children stories as he tries to decide what they have to do with this unexpected little creature.

Enter the world of Devonia and be ready for engaging stories of adventure and friendship.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

God Is Everywhere

January 10, 2018

God is Everywhere

We usually talk about movies after watching them.  The girls were discussing a movie while sitting at the “stone table” (what the little girls call the stone bench and table they get to do school at while waiting for the big girls at college) today.

The exchange from this movie being discussed goes generally like this:

“Don’t rob me of my hate…”

“…God has given us a second chance.  Don’t slap His hand away.”

“God? Can’t I ever get away from Him?”

“No.  God is everywhere, even in a kiss…”

And so this story that, as a novel, is a story of bitter vengeance and betrayal becomes morphed for the big screen into a story of forgiveness and God’s mercy.

Jaquline says, “I like how God is everywhere.  The Bible says He’s in the darkest valley and the tallest mountain.  Is God really in a kiss?”

“I think so,” Kimberly pipes up, “God also gives life and love.”

“So if God is in everything, do squirrels get married?” Jillian asked.  (She loves the Landmark Tribe squirrel stories, and in those, the squirrels are married.)

“God is in everything; He created everything,” Jaquline sighed, “but I don’t know if squirrels get married for real.  Dogs don’t but when we are feeling sad, God uses Prim’s and Sheba’s kisses to make us happier.” (Prim and Sheba are our dogs.)

“So God is even in doggie kisses!” laughed Jillian.

I smiled.  The sun that warms us, the air we breathe, the water, plants, animals; each spark of life is a gift from God.  “God is in everything” isn’t just a movie line; it’s real.  Sometimes we try to make God so distant when in reality He’s inside us, touching everything within and around us.  No, we can never get away from Him.  That’s the beauty and mystery of His love.  Why would the God who spoke the universe into existence want to “chase after” each of us?  God is in everything so that everything we see, feel, and love reflects His love for us.  In this way, all of creation sings God’s glory!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

A New Step

January 8, 2018

A New Step

Saturday afternoon we got Christina back from her week-long Civil Air Patrol encampment.

Today, Kimberly, Jaquline, Jillian, and Lucas are doing school at a stone table on the beautiful grounds of our state college waiting for Christina and Rebeccah to finish with their first class.

My younglings are growing up too quickly for me!

The sweet lady in the college bookstore was very helpful and encouraging.  She handed the girls a copy of the eleventh edition of their Biology… I have the seventh at home (from when I went here only a few years ago).  Honestly, I’m so excited for the girls in this next step.  (But I won’t say that to them; I try to make this as normal as possible.  We’ve treated every step in their educational journey as simply another textbook to study.)  I’m very thankful for the awesome opportunities available to students in our county.  (This is a big difference from growing up when home schooling was illegal!)

I’m remembering them at the preschool level (Lucas: counting pinecones and creating stickmen from oak leaves and pine sticks), kindergarten level (Jillian: reading and doing her math problems), and working through book steps like Jaquline and Kimberly. (I “stair-step” arithmetic and language arts in a progression they move through and they get to pick one, two, or three “study books” from history, science, and other subjects.) Then they get through independent learning in preparation for college or vocation. (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, various social studies, upper level literature studies, etc.)  Now, Christina and Rebeccah are at the next step: dual enrollment (college credit classes!).

The nostalgic part of me wants time to slow down.

The logical part of me is thoroughly enjoying each new step each one of my children take.  I love the baby stage, but I get excited when the baby steps up to dress and feed themselves.  I love the learning-independence toddler stage, but I love it when they discover reading!  I love the everything-is-new discovery stage, (I try to keep that going as long as I can) but that is too quickly followed by the totally-independent-learning stage.  Yes, I get a little sad when they complete their lesson goals without my help, but I am proud and excited as they jump ahead of my goals by making and achieving their own personal goals.

I see the goal of my “teaching” job as helping my students learn how to teach themselves.  This means inspiring a lifelong love of learning, challenging them to reach higher and higher personal goals, and instilling core principles like academic integrity and determination.

I’m sure they will do well.  They love to learn and are thriving in their “adult” environment where their fellow students are all serious about their work.  I have to smile because I feel like I’ve accomplished my teaching goal – at least for these students – they are fully independent learners with their eyes on future careers and their lifelong pursuit of knowledge.

Of course, I will never truly stop teaching.  I’ll be asking, “so, how was school?” even when they call me from their university in years to come.  That thought makes me smile again.

“Jaquline,” says Kimberly, “why aren’t you writing?”

Jaquline is sitting at the stone picnic table, her paperwork on a clipboard, smiling and staring at the sky.  She sighs and says dreamily, “I’m doing my school at college!”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Trip Planning

December 28, 2017

Trip Planning

We have to be at a distant location at a specific window of time on a specific day.  Easy enough, right?  Wrong!  Everything in our house is a sporadic adventure! 

Mom: It’s only an hour and two minute drive.

Christina: Then we leave at 8am.

(We are not supposed to arrive at said location until after 11am.)

Mom: Oh, no.  If we leave by 10, we go right by Grandma’s, pick her up, get lost, make 5 potty stops, and still have enough time to get you there.

Christina: Ahhhh! *facepalm*

(I think my teenager loves me.)

Seriously, I have learned a few things about planning trips with toddlers, teenagers, and husbands:

  • Plan to leave at least a half hour before you need to go (this allows for shoes tossed into the pond, a preteen sleepwalking back to bed four times, finishing any last-minute chore like making the list, and misplacing your keys which are already in the running vehicle)
  • Always pack like you will be gone for a week (diapers, wipes, four spare shirts, at least as many pants as diapers, spare shirts for anyone who may be carrying said baby, carrots and apples so you don’t get trapped by fast-food hunger, and 2 or 3 cases of bottled water should do it)
  • Whatever you do, plan 10 minutes extra to turn around (you forgot something you can’t leave home without – like baby’s special blanket, your toddler’s choice toy, your preteen’s library card, your sanity, or your husband’s totally non-standard phone charger)
  • Remember your wallet! (and make sure some toddler didn’t remove your license because he loves to play with mommy’s picture – that will be the day you will be pulled over for a faulty brake light or an oddly rocking vehicle)
  • Count heads (the children, toddler in carseat, hubby, take the dogs back inside, catch toddler who turned into carseat Houdini, now missing two! Oh yeah, hubby is unlocking the door for one who forgot to go potty)
  • Enjoy your 5 minute shopping trip! (or your entire day of travel)

Bonus fact: Music calms savage beasts and makes your vehicle a noisy dance-while-in-seatbelts rocking machine. Maybe DC Talk, Skillet, and Capital Kings are a bit rocky, but everyone dances to Deadmau5 and Disney.  As long as you have your license, roll down the windows, crank up the music, put on shades, and enjoy the ride!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Pictures & Captions 1

December 14, 2017

Some Picture and Captions

Sometimes it’s just fun to look at pictures and make up captions:

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“Unique dirt graffiti” (Drawn on our van rear by Jillian after her first experience of writing the “0” times table.  Plus, there’s the three marks of Arne Saknussemm on the right!)

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“Find the hidden birds” (Rebeccah took this one because a “flock” of birds were in our trees!)

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“Is food ready yet?” (Everyone loves it when this grill is in use!)

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“Roller Dance!” (They use our carport for a roller blade/skate rink.)

 

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“Silly Cousin Games” (Notice Prim covered with the couch blanket?  Anastasia said she was cold & they are playing “Michael Row Your Boat” with the broom as the boat…)

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“Help when Folding Clothes” (This is what happens when imagination runs wild… they said they are wearing “invisible hats.”)

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“Stealing Her Heart” (This was probably the moment when Christina decided to keep Primrose.)

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“Yummy Trees!” (Since Rebeccah was little, our family has called raw broccoli “trees.”  It has always been a favorite vegetable – once it is discovered in the crisper, it usually disappears before dinnertime!)

I’m so thankful for the neat little invention we have called a “camera” because I can capture snapshots of our fun life.  Most of the funniest ones aren’t on film because we are too busy living them.  (Staged funny pictures don’t have the same effect!)  We love to look back at these snapshots and relive the memories with our little stories; it’s neat to hear the story each child has for the pictures!  We all see life from our personal perspective and even among family members the stories will be slightly different since each member has their unique perspective.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Story Release! The Brown-Sheep Prank

December 13, 2017

New Story Release!

There’s a new chapter in the continuing story of the Devonians!  The Devonians are space castaways who have developed a colony on a strange new planet (they name it Devonia).

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The soft-crayon illustration is done by Christina Tart. (She is a published illustrator who wisely takes commission for her work!)

This newest story, The Brown-Sheep Prank, begins the day after the end of Daydreamer. Alena Summers, whose family husbands (takes care of) the village’s herd of Brown-Sheep, is very excited about her second-favorite time – Shearing Day!  (It just so happens, that’s the day covered in the story!)

Alena loves the busy time when all of her neighbors will be gathered at her family’s house, trimming the wool (called Shearing), washing fleeces (a fleece is the wool from one sheep), preparing food (Alena’s job is to assist here), and stacking the finished fleeces in the big barn (this one is shared by the entire village).  The boys and overgrown boys (men) love the table of ready-to-eat food that those on refill duty (Alena and Butterfly) have to keep stocked.

Devonia travels in a longer solar orbit so has the equivalent of 499 Earth days in the Devonian year – so when Alena says “5 years 8 months” it really means “about 7½ Earth years.”  Just a little hint about the world of Devonia!

Now to get an idea of how busy Shearing Day is in Covenant, read this excerpt from “The Brown-Sheep Prank!

Everyone was so busy that Alena had barely stopped moving since Mother had called her away from the Brown-Sheep observation this morning. 

It was nearly lunchtime. 

Alena’s stomach growled. 

“Oh my!” Cried Butterfly in fake shock, “you’d better feed that monster!” 

Alena laughed.  She and Butterfly were on refill duty.  This meant they helped in the kitchen and ran back and forth from the big table refilling the food baskets and bowls.  For Shearing Day, everyone snacked whenever they were hungry from the long table outside.  The unwed boys had brought it over from the meetinghouse before Alena awoke.  She grabbed a carrot stick and quickly ate it.

Alena’s Father and most of the other men plus a few older boys were cutting each Brown-Sheep’s wool close to the skin but taking care not to cut the soft skin.  This was called shearing.  This formed what they called a fleece.  The fleece was the shape of a flat sheep without legs or head.  The Brown-Sheep’s head and legs didn’t have wool like the rest of the body. 

A cluster of two men and three women with a few of the older boys and girls were thoroughly washing each fleece to make sure they would get clean. 

… (continued reading The Brown-Sheep Prank here!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Chilly Hill Fun

December 10, 2017

Chilly Hill Fun

We’re usually busy on the weekends.  Because of an unexpected break, we discovered we could go to the bayfront to watch the boats parade by dressed up in Christmas lights.

So, Mom, sisters, cousin, and brother all gathered into the van (we had to go pick one sister up from her event to join us!) and made our way to the free “nights of lights shuttle” parking area.  This was my first time using this service, and it was fantastic!  We arrived at the bus stop (county health department) about 4:30pm.  The girls played “rock, paper, scissors” and softly sang along to the Christmas songs while Lucas announced the passing of every bus, big truck, and string of Christmas lights; usually adding “we on a bus, Mom!”  We were at the parking garage drop off & did the short walk to the fort to arrive just before 5pm.

At that moment, although it was Florida chilly (low 60s) the wind chill wasn’t too bad.  I kept reminding the girls to put on their jackets (which, like most younglings, they had tried to “forget” both at home and in the van).

Four girls and Lucas rolled down the fort hill (Lucas actually rolled in the flat dirt, much to the entertainment of his older sisters), ran about playing some version of “Tag” with any other child who crossed their path, and periodically bounced to the older girls’ perch on the bayfront wall asking, “are the boats coming yet?”

Kimberly, Jaquline, Jillian, and Anastasia spied a Fire Department boat with red lights and a Police boat with blue lights that appeared to be racing!  They each cheered for their favorite color – blue won.  But the red one stayed right in front of our spot so Lucas yelled “Hi, red fire boat!” almost every time he glanced that way for the next 20 minutes.

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Finally, the boats started to line up.  It was nearly 6pm and the temperature was reading low 40s with 30s wind chill!  The girls were huddled together like ducklings next to mom while Louis turned into an “emperor penguin” wind barrier.

The boats were beautiful!  (I have to get a camera that takes good night pictures!  Everything after dark was blurry.)   The first was a pirate ship!  The cannon from the fort fired three shots!  The girls claimed the pirate boat fired back… they were too cold to duck and cover.  Then came the gingerbread-cookie boats.  Anastasia and Jillian decided they tasted good and began to make chomping noises and say “yummy boat” in deep voices.  By the time the neon purple one circled to the far side, the girls were frigid and when Anastasia said, “can we please go to the warm bus?” Lucas added, “bye bye boats!” and we started back.

We also had to get Christina back to CAP before 8pm!

After the fastest .7 mile family walk with Louis timing (aided by a sturdy double stroller), we boarded the warm bus and sang songs while Jillian and Anastasia goofed off and Lucas reminded everyone about each boat he had seen.

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We got Christina back in time.  Before we got home, only Mom and Rebeccah were still awake.  So we will leave you as we snuggle with the sleepies on the couch and start watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” to end our perfect day!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Enjoy the Journey

November 25, 2017

Enjoy the Journey

The world through the eyes of a 2 year old is amazing.

He spies Daddy cutting strawberries for a pie!  Lucas yells “yeah!  Yummy strawberries!  Red berries!   I eat?” and half of the strawberries destined for pie filling instead fill Lucas’ tummy.

On the way to Grandma’s house, 2 year old boy yells, “Mom! Look!  Big trucks!  One! Two! Three! Four-Five Big Trucks!”  (Everything from his mouth comes in two volumes: mouse-whisper or top-of-the-lungs yell )

Sometimes he helps me to slow down and enjoy the things I often take for granted… like time.  It’s easy to find fun in the chore when you share the wonder of a 2-year-old.  For instance: An attempt to transfer toddler chickens from one pen to another and they excitedly hop-fly off in all directions yelling “FREEDOM!”  Lucas giggle-screams and chases them around.  This turns the frustration into laughter and a lesson on counting as they scurry over to the day pen and wait for us to lift them in where the food is.  “One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight!” Lucas screams it all together as if it was a single word.

Lucas finds wonder and excitement in everything.  From washing dishes (he always wants to help) to being stopped by a train (one-two-three-four-five-six trains!), everything is fun.  Sometimes he helps remind me to enjoy life as it is presented to me.  Goals (finishing the dishes) and plans (getting to the produce market before it closes) are good, but enjoying the journey is just as important.

Stopped in slow traffic turns into “Dance Party in the Car” and the backseat is bouncing to “Pink Shoelaces” and “Rockin Robin” (two favorite oldies).  Lucas spots birds and shouts to tell everyone.  Rebeccah looks in her book and gives their names.  Taking in this special time is part of me slowing down and enjoying the journey.

I hope you join me in enjoying the journey today.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Thanksgiving 2017

November 23, 2017

Today is Thanksgiving.  It is also the day after my fifteenth wedding anniversary.  

I feel amazed by the things God has given me.  

I’m thankful, so very thankful, for all these special gifts:

Thankful for my life.  Thank you Jesus for the gift of another sunrise (or rainy Florida twilight-sunrise).

Thank you for my husband.  As a girl, I dreamed of a boy who would love me and cherish me like most little girls do… the man I have is way better! (God’s reality was far better than anything in my dreams.)  

Thank you for our children.  Christina, who made me a mom; Rebeccah who was caught by both grandmothers; Kimberly, our bouncy sunshine; Jaquline, whom Grandma Honey called “Little Louie Jack”; Jillian, our nature loving discoverer; and Lucas, our thoughtful problem solver.

Thank you for our family.  Our parents (who raised us), siblings (who put up with us), new sisters and brothers (who decided to join our crazy fun families), nieces and nephews (the bonuses for allowing our siblings to live). 

Thank you for others who inspired, encouraged, and befriended us in our journey.  

Thank you for the struggles, accomplishments, heartbreaks, and excitements that have shaped our life into the beautiful, wonderful thing it is.  Together.  I thank you, God, that we are together!

Here’s hoping everyone enjoys their family and friends this day and every day.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Silver Springs

November 10, 2017

The Real Florida

What comes to your mind when you think of Florida?  Sunny beaches, theme parks, high priced T-shirts, Publix supermarkets?

How about alligators, turtles, cypress trees with diameters of fifteen feet, shimmering sunlight streaming through dissolved limestone particles in gushing spring water to give a silver blue tint to the crystal clear water?

This is Silver Springs

As the sign says (it’s the Florida State Parks logo) “the Real Florida!”

History is alive with the mementos of past years when numerous television shows and movies were made in the beautiful surroundings.

Tourists were riding on glass bottom boats in the 1870s – and if you want to feel like you are swimming with the critters without braving the cold springs water, you have to take the glass bottom boat ride!  (And you are safe too; the alligators, turtles, and snakes are outside the boat and your windows have bars!)

The Captain will say “this is 81 feet deep,” and you stare down at magical swirling waters pushing fish up in rising natural roller coasters.  (You can hear them squealing “weeeeeee” as they spiral up from the bottom with their tails wagging behind them.)

If you want to get even closer to the water wildlife, rent a canoe or kayak!  In one of these sleek craft, you can paddle down the beautiful river and feel like you are part of the unscathed beauty of nature.

There is a boardwalk through the swamp where you can get close to the huge trees and look down into the water.  Amazing birds are easy to hear but hard to catch on camera when your assistants are pretending the boardwalk is a drum for feet!

On the magnificent nature walks, you will see gigantic ancient trees and could possibly run into the wild monkey troupe!

(Or you may have your own wannabe monkey riding on you.)

Some of these trees have fallen and create amazing obstacle courses for the more adventurous in your group.  (You can play “don’t step on the ground” and jump from fallen log to fallen log – just be very careful not to fall off!)

Or you can sit at the top of a leaning stump where no one can reach you.  (Unless you are surrounded by wannabe monkeys who race to see who can reach you first!)

The cost to get in is only $2 a person!  It is extra to ride the glass bottom boats or rent a canoe.  This wild, historic destination is a perfect setting for a wedding among the wild flowers and rustic wooden arbor.  Research this gem at www.SilverSprings.com and check out the Real Florida any day of the year!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart