The Adventures of Tally-Ho

Tally Ho spread 1_smWhile my husband was alive, we came up with a great idea to write a story based on the wonder of raising our kids in the country.  It seemed so right, like an apostolate. We knew we had been blessed in a mighty way, and that God had guided us to our little home and helped us to learn the amazing skills needed to garden and manage a mini-farm.  John took to homesteading like a fish to water.  Other homeschool dads used to call him “Our Amish Paul Bunyan.” So, it felt natural to share our joy and success with others. I wrote stories based on what we did every day: meals, working our little garden, nurturing nature, loving kids…loving God. John was going to create the illustrations since he had a wonderful knack for drawing.  Except he couldn’t.  Leukemia intervened, and that success was put off…forever it seemed.

After he passed away, I felt tugged to see our project through to completion.  But how? God has ways. I’m not sure if John was whispering in anyone’s ear, but somehow or another I met up with a wonderful illustrator who knew exactly what we had imagined. She put her talents to work, and the story unfolded better than I had imagined. It’s been published under the title: The Adventures of Tally-Ho. Tally-Ho was what John called our fourth daughter because she loved to gallop around the house on her imaginary horse. How we used to laugh about that.  What a wonder imagination brings to life!

As I state in the dedication to the story, John’s love made the stories true.  His vision is what made our real-life family possible.  As I contemplate the finished product, I wonder what God will do with this little book.  Surely, He has a plan. I very much doubt that it has anything to do with making money.  I pray it has something to do with loving families.

So Tally-Ho, like a new kid on the block, is finding its way in the world. I pray that it will be a light and joy to souls.  Perhaps it will be a vision of what might be…a hope, a dream, a longing that yearns to be fulfilled. Real dreams don’t die…they grow.

I think John would agree.

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind

Historical Fiction


Ishtar’s Redemption

Neb the Great

Georgios I—Hidden Heritage

Georgios II—A Chosen People

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings

Living the Adventure

sunsetAs the hot sun beats down upon us, lush 9 foot corn stalks breathe out their earthy, green scent, and humongous humidity make me wonder if rural Illinois should be called the biggest-corn-growing-jungle-of-the-world, I am trying to wrap my mind around the fact that a new school year and all of winter’s thrills stands just before us.  We best be ready.

This year I will have one in college, three in high school, and four kids in grades 7th through 2nd. I’ll also be taking some classes myself. Might as well live the adventure.  As my husband would say each time he took the boys out for a driving lesson, “No guts, no glory.” Not the advice I would give, but I knew what he meant.  He certainly lived to the fullest extent possible before death took him where I cannot yet follow.

I am looking forward to the challenges of teaching various grade levels, encouraging my eldest to maintain his A average in college, helping my second son discover which university he would like to attend and what degree he might like to pursue.  I love teaching reading to young minds just awakening to the power of the written word.  I am inspired by the beauty of art and it’s application in the home. My spirits rise when my kids practice their musical instruments, and we all learn from history, attempting to come to some greater understanding of our present times.  Even basic math and its cousin Algebra encourage our brain cells onto feats of learning, discovering new wonders of our world.

I am grateful for all that God has placed within my reach to love, admire, and assist.  I can be of service and I can grow, nourished by the reality that much of life is what we make of it.  Trials, challenges, and tribulations will always be a part of the human experience, but I am most content when I face them with a spirit of love and hope.

There is much to grieve in this world and through prayer we can be reconciled to our sorrows.  Yet sorrows and our weakest selves must not define us. There is an adventure in living, no matter how hot the sun or how encroaching the vegetation.  Truly, living the adventure means seeing the quest in our own lives.


The Adventures of Tally-Ho

Tally Ho spread 1_sm

The Adventures of Tally-Ho written by A.K. Frailey, author of The Road Goes Ever On – A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings, The Deliverance Trilogy and Georgios I & Geogios II, and Illustrated by Chris deShazo owner of Spectrum Graphics Studio, is due out this autumn.  The cover reveal is coming soon…

What little girls love: faith, family, fun, little critters, and adventure!

Wholesome family-farm adventures, big brothers, helpful sisters, kittens and a lively possum…A great read aloud for the whole family. Gorgeous illustrations!

Grandma & Grandpas will love this holiday gift – a book to enjoy the whole year through!

Mom’s and Dads looking for something to share with their little ones?  Here’s a wholesome family story including home-school adventures, delicious home-cooked meals, humorous treks through the woods, and family prayer time  – all reflecting a sincere love of nature… A great read-aloud!

Attention: Big brothers and sisters! A wonderful way to spend an afternoon with the family.

Celebrate the extraordinary-ordinary of faith-filled family fun!

Raising kids – God’s way – with nature’s wisdom. Stewardship & love for life: The Adventures of Tally-Ho.

The Adventures of Tally-Ho really began when my 4th daughter ran into the kitchen yelling “Tally-Ho!”  She was having a wonderful adventure on an imaginary horse and my husband and I just smiled at each other in reflection of her joy. As we discussed the kids’ wonderful imaginations growing up on our mini-farm in rural Illinois, we considered how different their lives have been from our own. We had both been raised in cities, far from the natural wonders our children encounter on a daily basis. As my daughter came through again, encouraging her horse onto more  adventures, it occurred to us that we could share a bit of what our kids experience through a story with illustrations to match. I was the writer of the family, so I set to work on a basic story line while my husband began to work on sketches.

But as sometimes happens even with the best of dreams, our plans were thwarted when my husband was diagnosed with Leukemia.  We endured a four year battle with cancer before he died.  For some time I could not pick up the threads of our Tally-Ho project, but then I encountered a wonderful artist, Chris deSharzo of Spectrum Graphics Studios, who could grace the story with the same zest for life that John had known. I prayed about it and after sensing a rightness about moving on, the project was picked up.  And so, The Adventures of Tally-Ho has been given a second chance.

The grace of my husband’s life reflected a sincere love for all of humanity especially in children and nature.  May that same love be offered to you through The Adventures of Tally-Ho.


Catholic Mother

March 2014 sunriseI once heard someone say: “My grandparents could trust society to support their morals – today we are undermined at every step.”

I know the feeling.  After teaching, volunteering, and getting to know the culture at large, my husband and I decided to home school, move out to the country, and try to give our kids a sane start in life. That being said, our kids must deal successfully with our society and culture at some point. Ignorance is not bliss. If they aren’t well formed in the intimacy of family, they won’t have much to add to the public forum.

Here a few salient points I have learned as a Catholic mother after 19+ years of raising kids.

1) Presence is more important than presents.  Time and attention will cover a multitude of ills. When little kids want things or act up, it is often an attempt to fill a vacant place inside. Being together, talking things out, reading stories together (you read the higher level ones – they “read” the picture books) and working, playing & praying side by side brings light to the deepest, darkest places of the soul.

2) Discipline is not supposed to mean losing control in a screaming fit. Discipline means good habits endorsed by routine.  It is easier to get kids to bed on time if you have a consistent pattern: Wash up, brush teeth, story time, prayer time, into bed.  It is easier to get kids to come when called, if you actually do what you say you are going to do and not keep them waiting. Set the example by being self disciplined in your own food, entertainment and other choices.

3) Food matters.  Lousy food choices help make cranky kids. Fun food is fun but it should be a reward, not an everyday experience. Kids like what is familiar. Though none of my kids love spinach, they do love other vegetables, fruits, stews, salads, and whole wheat bread (especially if they are a part of the process – working in a garden and helping in the kitchen.) Meal time does not necessarily mean fancy food; simple, healthy food is sane food. 

4) Everyone has a part to play. I can’t imagine our home without each of the kids.  Not only would I miss their individual personalities, but they each contribute something special to the whole. #1 son happens to be very muscular – he does all the impossible jobs that make me realize that God made men differently.  # 2 son is gifted with animals and helps take care of the menagerie.  My eldest daughter is an outstanding student who helps everyone in scholastic need.  I could go on – but you get the point.  Emphasize the positive and make sure everyone contributes to the common good. 

5) Your kids will grow up and meet new people, read books you never read, listen to new music, learn new ideas, and become exposed to a culture at odds with itself.  Keep involved without demanding that they share everything with you. (For example: Ask what they think about the book they are reading rather than just asking what they are reading.) If they are going down a dangerous road, tell them. But remember, young adults will ultimately make their own decisions and their souls are between them and God. Let them know that you trust their good sense but if you are disappointed in their behavior, be honest.  You can love your kids through anything, but respect is earned. 

6) Finally, pray often and rely on the goodness of God, the holy saints, the guardian angels and those holy souls in purgatory (perhaps grandparents, friends and relatives) who really do care and will pray – if only you ask them.  God will not force Himself on us or our children.  He likes to be invited into our lives, hearts, and souls.

7) When things look dark and terrible, never give up.  The cross is the gateway to Paradise.

Spring Time Faith

Garden 2015 May 4Setting aside the fact that the one and only time I ever consider entering politics is under the inauspicious dream of ending the tyranny of our biannual time-change, I do look forward to seasonal changes.  God knows us so well. Humanity needs change, yet we also need consistency.  Somehow our Creator manages to address these concerns through the seasons which occur regularly yet are never mundane.

For us home-schooling families living in rural environments, this means the springtime transition from indoor intellectual pursuits toward outdoor occupations. Instead of heating with wood fires, classroom schoolwork, literary pursuits, research projects & indoor games, we have open windows, gardens, fruit trees, chicks, and outdoor fix-it lists. There is something so sane about going outdoors.  Smelling the rich, damp earth as it awakens and seeing the tiny, fragile buds push their way through last year’s death into this year’s new life draw out a thousand parables which never need to be spoken out-loud – just noticed.

While I tremble at the state of our 18 trillion dollar debt, our entangled international affairs, the forces of evil rising toward our children’s future, still I can stand on our good, firm earth and know that despite those terrors which disturb my soul – yet I know that God still believes in us.  God has given us spring one more time and that fills my heart with relief and gladness.  Let us not fail to notice this great good and thank Him. By ingratitude we tend to lose those gifts which brings out the best in us.

The Angels of Abbey Creek

The Angels of Abbey CreekI like reading children’s books to my kids and we have recently enjoyed many a cozy afternoon reading through: The Little House stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Wind in the Willows by Kennneth Grahame, Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt, Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery, The Borrowers series by Mary Norton, The Black Fox of Lorne by Marguerite De Angeli, and Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray and several biographies of famous people including: Benjamin Franklin, Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth of Hungry, and Pope Pius the X.  Now, I get to include a charming children’s book by an author I just met, virtually anyway, over the internet.  As Sue lives in Australia and I live in the U.S., our meeting was one of those serendipitous joys of the modern world.  We both love to write books and read great stories.  Here is hers:

The Angels of Abbey Creek is a children’s story set in present day Australia.  They are a large Catholic family doing all the things that families do together – celebrating the New Year, Mother’s day, going camping, going to church, having fun and disasters together and making the best of each situation. I especially enjoyed reading how plans were made and how things rarely worked out as expected.  Parents can readily agree that Sue Elvis knows what adventure is in store for unwitting parents as they take kids out into the world with the highest of hopes only to find themselves struggling to maintain their sanity and dignity. Yet the Angel family, with their unconquerable love and unfailing desire to make the best of things do what we all wish we could – keep trying till things get better.

Being set in Australia lent a flavor to the story which I really enjoyed.  I liked reading about their hikes into the bush and the unique foods and traditions that have developed in the “World Down Under”.  As a Catholic, I could readily relate to the religious traditions that make Catholicism uniquely wonderful, but a reader who had even a passing familiarity with faith and family would find plenty to relate to.  The characters are real and the events life-like.  Things don’t always go perfectly in real life or in story life either and there is something to be gained from a humble and loving approach to life’s up and downs.  The family members may not be celestial angels but there is great hope  that they may one day become saints. The Angels of Abbey Creek is a fun story to read aloud and share with children with lots of interesting discussion points.  Thanks Sue!

Available on Amazon:



Home, School, Life

loaves of breadWe home-school, but I would say that we respond to the vocational call of home-living also. It is not just about educating my kids in math, science, and literature though those things are invaluable but also about participating in life so that everything we do educates our hearts, souls, and minds. Home, school, and life all blend together in a harmony of existence where one does not end and the other begins.

Case in point, Saturday I usually catch up on the “household duties” of cleaning, organizing, baking, and banking which tend to get pushed aside when we focus on the text books, experiments, papers, tests, etc. during the week. But that hardly means that no one is “learning” on the weekends.  I made bread this morning and after trying a whole wheat recipe that made better bricks than bread, I made some needed changes.  My two eldest daughters and I like to experiment with bread recipes and as one worked on a sweet bread of her own invention, I worked on making a better loaf of wheat bread.  We discuss and compare as we sample.  It works out well.  The younger kids all seem to enjoy the process. Especially with butter and jam. A home-moment that does more than educates the mind, it nourished the body and soul.

Another example: one son has been  working on a story which he would like to publish some day.  He reads various how to “write-the-best-novel-ever” books and we go over his work after school hours.  When he has something nicely polished, he’ll read it to the family audience and get reactions. Again, an educational situation which is also a social event, a family highlight, and a personal growth opportunity.

There are all sorts of opportunities to take an ordinary home and turn it into a family centered, be-the-best-you-can-be, springboard for growth and joy. If it happens to be educational – so much the better.