Friday, March 30, 2012

An Ordinary Week

*1*
A heat shield protects the second stage of SpaceX's planned fully reusable rocket during its re-entry through Earth's atmosphere.

For fun, my geeky husband gathers his geeky kids around and spends beaucoup time looking at astronomy and weather sites. This weeks AHA! had to do with re-usable rockets. Pretty awesome stuff. Science at our house is a bit unconventional, but effective. Nothing like Dad spending time explaining things in living color and sharing his love of technology with the kids to make science come alive.

*2*
School this week consisted of  the regular suspects. Cub is needed help with Latin memory work, so we spent a fair amount of time quizzing him. Greek, same thing.
Both he and Flower are almost done with Book 1of Learn Math Fast. Flower is at that point where she can do long division just fine, with double digits in the divisor and everything, tyvm, but she has forgotten had to multiply with  multiple digits.
We dug Quarter Mile math out today and that is going to be a regular suspect again.
Flower has also started reading on her own, for fun. Julie's Wolf Pack has been her pick this week and she had a lot of fun telling everyone at dinner about the antics of the wolves.
Feeche is working hard to get stuff done before the end of May. As it is he'll be gone for a week in April, and once late may hits, he'll be traveling and going to camps.
WWS is cruising along and my small class is on week #17.

*2*
Read Vanishing Acts by Piccolt about a kid kidnapped by her own father.  I did not like this one. Dark and depressing, with decadent and evil jail scenes and again, an ending that left me going, "what...?". I do really like her first person perspective on each character. That is very compelling, despite other issues I have with her writting.

 
Also reading Silas by Francine Rivers. I went through a serious Rivers phase about a decade ago (she wrote The Mark of the Lion series, as well as The Sin Eater. The Sin Eater was made into a movie, which is also very good). Silas is a book of "encouragement" and it is that. Truly lovely writing about the early church, through the eyes of Silas.

*3*
The rhubarb is up and unfurling it's leaves. The asparagus is tentatively making it's way above ground, raspberry leaves are appearing, the strawberries are greening and our 2 flowering trees/bushes are budding. Definitely spring. Spinach and lettuce are coming up, too.

*5*
Looking at catalogs and schedules for next year and have started planning. I want to get a couple of good kids magazines. What do you recommend? Have you started planning for school next year? What are your extra-curriculars going to be?

*6*
The work on the bathroom is going slow. Dh had to take apart and re-build an area where the sliding shower door will be. Now it needs re-taped, mudded, and the uber expensive shower sealant painted on. Everything takes longer than you think it will.

*7*
Seriously.

How was your week?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wind Retaliation

Creative Friend Dorian, husband of  Shakespearean directress extraordinaire, suggested we re-purpose our no longer jump-able tramp:

Pinned Image
From Pinterest. I tried to find the source, to no avail.

The down-side of something like this, especially if it was outfitted with books, is that one would be tempted to live there.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Blustery Day or 2


Great Plains = High Winds.


The wind was so strong that it torqued the frame and blew the tramp to the edge of the yard. Our tall evergreens caught it but we were afraid that the force of the wind against the tramp was going to break the top off of the trees.

\

Just another spring day 'round here. True confessions: tears were shed by certain mid-sized children when they discovered the tramp in this condition. Everyone here LOVES the trampoline; for jumping,star gazing, picnics, playing (the rim is totally compromised). But, Dad to the rescue, he thinks that the old tramp rim (the mat melted in the fire) is the same size.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dystopian Bliss On-Screen- The Hunger Games


The Hunger Games

KB, Feeche and I went to see Hunger Games last night. Feeche and I have read the series, which I reviewed here , here.  and here. It's always a toss up about books being made into movies- I generally follow the adage that movies won't be as good as their book, but there is always the exception; the Borne Trilogy comes to mind. So, I'm not wholly committed to that line of thought. Good thing, too because I thought Hunger Games delivered at the theaters just as well as on paper. The characters were believable, the plot well developed and the horror of the Games was communicated, without being gratuitously creepy or violent. Honestly, I thought the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman was far more distrubing than the Hunger Games movie. Creepy on screen.

I don't often delve in to dystopian lit, I'm melancholy enough all by myself, tyvm.  But I did  enjoy this series. First, I think it's a plausible premise. Secondly, I think we are already offering up our children on the alter of fun, entitlement and self satisfaction, both individually and as a culture. Third, I think we are fast becoming a shallow and frivolous society. As KB said, the capital reminded her veddy, veddy much of Cosmetology School. And, like Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, there were no kids in the capital, except the tributes and the 2 hellions fighting with a sword (how ironic that the little boy stabs at the girl-chivalry is dead). A culture of excess and frippery rather than generativity and legacy. I mean Effie, really. Lives are at stake and she is worried about her reputation. People are commodities. Maybe excess and frippery lead to mass sociopathy. Probably.

Sure, the movie missed some details. But it kept the main stuff, including good character development. Snow is perfectly creepy, Cinna compassionate, Gale gorgeous and Peeta...good and solid and committed to decency in the face of violating evil. Great stuff to discuss with an older teen.

Final thoughts; the best man won imho, and I don't think she just settled for him either. Love is more than the wow factor (though that's a great place to start and return to) and I appreciate how Collins didn't offer up an easy solution to Peeta or Gale. Real life isn't about easy solutions or always getting what we think we want.

That's my .02 worth. What did you think?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Porch Season

*1*
Spring heralds the beginning of  Porch Season around here.  We live in an almost 90 year old 4 x 4 farmhouse, with an enclosed front porch. It faces south with 3 walls of windows. The wood floors are painted such a deep green it's almost blue and the walls linen. We have chimes and couches and plants on it. One whole wall is cubbies, built to match our kitchen cabinets with 3 very deep drawers that form a bench. It's also the staging place for the re-build projects we have going on, or I'd post pictures. Soon. Someday soon.
Anyway, we spend hours and hours and hours on our porch. Reading, reading out loud, eating dinner, talking, napping, thinking. It's a great place, our porch. From the vantage point of the porch we have seen 'coons, woodchucks, skunks, deer and all manner of bird life. In the summer you can hear the chuck-chuck, chucking of pheasants in the evening and hear the river rushing when it's full. It is now officially porch season.

*2*
School this week: Math, Science, Grammar, Writing, Greek and Latin, Pre-law, Copywriting. Think we covered it all. We also got a few more chapters of History of the Medieval World read out loud and continued memorizing the orange VP cards (the Middle Ages). After going through them the kids are all taking 2-3 to read and then I'm quizzing them on what they've read. While VP is clearly reformed, and we are not, they are such a terrific resource. Flower finished memorizing The Captain's Daughter and started in on The Charge of the Light Brigade. The boys continue to love their Landry Academy on-line classes. Pre-law is gearing up for  mock trial. It's gonna be good.
Our homeschooling friend M.B.H. won the state spelling bee last week and she is on her way to Washington!! Woohoo! Way to go Miss. M!!

*3*
Reading this week- the boys revisited Artemis Fowl (I have mixed feelings about Artemis). Flower and I are taking turns reading AG's Samantha series to each other. Feeche is still wading through King's On Writing. I have been knocking off Piccoult books: House Rules (loved the first person pov explanation of Asperger's Syndrome), and this week Plain Truth. I also finished Potok's Davita's Harp. Beautiful and touching, like most of his work. You can read my review here. I'm also, chapter by chapter, making my way through Petersen's The Pastor. It's a bunch of essays about his pastoral formation. He's a great word-smither, but some times I get the same feeling I did while reading Niequist's book, Bittersweet. Great word-crafting without a whole lot of point to what he's saying.
*4*
thehouseofwindows.com
The upstairs bathroom has taken first place spot on "things that need to get done asap." It is now drywalled with special water proof drywall stuff, and the corner bead is on the window (glass cubes- very cool), and two shampoo wells my very amazing husband designed. Next up is a mesh, then water proofing stuff, etc. We also have life-size pieces of paper ready to finalize the design. We are thinking 2 stripes of clear glass beads (to match the block windows) with the 12" square tile on a diagonal. Thanking God that my husband is not only smart and funny (despite the punning), but is also incredibly creative and loves working with his hands.


*5*

We are already making plans for late spring and summer. Feeche will be traveling again and his first round of flying the friendly skies takes place next month. Challenge,  directed by our friend, A.F. Maj (ret.) Bruce Stansbury, is something you should think about if you have a teen boy who loves adventure and physical challenge. TeenPact National Convention is also on the calendar. In May we'll all venture south to attend Miss. R's graduation. Booyah!

*6*
KB received her official acceptance letter to DWU's R.N. program. She is thrilled. She'll be graduating the very beginning of May from the cosmetology program she's been in since last March, is glad she'll have a few months between programs and is ready for next things!
*7*
One of my very favorite prayers; the Prayer of St. Patrick. With gratitude, I bind unto myself today, each and every day, the strong Name of the Trinity.
I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
*
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.
Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Davita's Harp


Davita's Harp

Potok is one of my very favorite authors.I'm not sure how I made it to my 40's without discovering him but I found The Chosen at a thrift shop a few years ago. It is one of those "must read" books. Since then, I've read several of his others. Potok's brilliance is showcased in his writing on the World Wars and the Jewish pov.
Davita's Harp is one of his best. He interweaves politics and religion, and how they are treated the same in a modern/post-modern world, and just what that means when things get rough. Communism, fascism, Judaism, Christianity and atheism are all touched on here; as both political, and faith constructs.

Illana is the protagonist, left to the mercy of her parent's Communist radicalism, following their own brushes with brutality at the hands of Capitalism and Christianity. This story is about her search for truth and redemption in a world that seems to have gone  mad. Her parents will and do anything for their political cause, believing that they are ushering a new world utopia, until it finally results in the death of her father, at which time Illana suffers a nervous breakdown. She is nursed back to health by her Christian aunt and finds her place in the world through her Jewish roots.  The ending is sweet, despite a major disappointment in Illana's life, showcasing the theme of the book, which is that one moment/one situation can determine the course of your life.

This book discusses Franco's war with Spain, the alliance Stalin and Hitler make and how faith, or the lack thereof can either led one to complete and utter despair, or bring one back from the brink of it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sorting

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy in the past 2 weeks. My Grandma has finally been filling in the blanks about her life. She had a colorful and difficult past.  She has spent her life avoiding these stories, protecting us from the horrific details of them and worked hard to create something good and lasting. Now, her husband and children are both dead, she lives in a house that is tumbling down and she is ready to go to sleep in her rocker and wake up with those she loves and misses. Her legacy is one of someone who wasn’t going to be defeated, who was going to fight and win. I have just as much respect as I’ve always had for Gram, but in a way I am a little stunned. The legacies of my family include violence, abuse, divorce, alcoholism and carnality. Which is no different than a whole lot of other folks but it’s a far cry from the stoic German farmer home-made noodles and spick-and-span clean of my paternal grandparent’s.  All but the stoic part; that part’s the same. Gram’s sister didn’t fare as well- ended up being an alcoholic for decades and divorcee over and over and over, and Grandma always chalked it up to her being “weak.” Talking with Gram is like reading an Ingalls Wilder book. Tragedy was dismissed, tears were shameful, you moved on or died; literally or figuratively.

Seems like were in the age of entitlement these days. I personally know 2 ministries that have been “stolen” from the founders. The board of directors decided that the person who started the thing from the ground up, who developed the materials, created the connections, laid the foundation, were no longer useful and made political decisions to oust them from their positions. Both have gone on to other things, but both ministries are fundamentally changed- pedantic and corporate. I had a year’s worth of homeschooling articles stolen by a ministry; one who talks about “building the homeschooling community.” I’m past being mad and angry and betrayed about it and just feel a real sense of disgust. Seems we live in a time of “I want, therefore I take.”  These ministries are creating a legacy, yes they are. Echo’s of “whoa to you…” resound in my head.
One of my older dd’s came home yesterday after another encounter with a homeschooling family in her place of work/schooling. She was embarrassed by them. It’s not been the first time homeschoolers have been there, or that she’s been embarrassed by them. This fits with comments our other dd has made about homeschoolers. How she doesn’t want anyone to know she is one. They are back-ward and weird. Not in a good way. Not in a way that is fragrant and beautiful, like spring flowers. But in a way that draws negative attention to them, in a way that creates distrust. Her comments are that they are rude to her and others. I don’t think this is what is meant by being in the world but not of it.
My mom’s been dead for over a decade. Did I mention that my Grandma called me last week? She wasn’t doing so well. As in her mental acuity is declining.  She called me, very angry, very insulting, very personal, very deliberately telling me that she wants left alone. Some of the things she said, not grounded in reality, had to do with things that happened/ were said when my Mom was alive; well over a decade ago; mischief making from the grave. Our legacies out last us. They can build up or tear down; ourselves and others.
The past couple of years I have struggled, really, truly struggled with purpose; as in, what is the point. The house fire was not devastating but the act of throwing away so much was fundamentally changing. Watching half of my family of origin being buried and listening to people talk about their lives objectively has been fundamentally changing. Listening to my Grandma and watching her make decisions that are not healthy, but are surely independent is concerning and sad. And yet, I totally understand what and why she is doing what she is. I totally get it. She wants to die the way that she lived. Because that's how she survived devastating circumstances. Her legacy is one of survival; not succumbing to evil; standing firm. Above all, standing. And maybe that's the point.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bitterness & Maturity

Here is my big take-away for the week:
 It is easy to be bitter.
Yes, it is.
I discovered this week that a person I had blessed had stolen from me. I was ignored by someone I reached out to and needed to hear back from. I was turned on and called bitter, ugly things by someone I love and cherish. It was a hard week.
Yes, it was.
We've had a long season of instances where we can show example after example of being ripped off, taken from, spoken badly about, reviled. And through all of that I will confess, I have been grieved and, just to honest, really, really torqued. I did not (once again) handle myself with patience and longsuffering this week. I gave vent to my anger and my disappointment. I was immature. And, I probably wished out loud that the person/people who have taken what is not theirs would have to pay, the people who ignored would feel the hurt and the helplessness, the person who lashed out  with ugly, hurtful words and insults would listen to what I had to say. Yeah, I gave way to my self. I wanted to hurt back. At the very least I wanted to close off, be superior, be above being touched; be the kind of person who has my ducks in a row and doesn't give generously, doesn't reach out, doesn't respond with transparency. I wanted to be one of those Christians who looks good and do little; gets the points, without the pain.

My husband and I talked this morning about bitterness. He is hurt and angry too, which is rare for him. He has considered making a  phone call, setting the record straight. But in the end, what will it help? Not much. So we have a decision to make. We can demand our "rights," which are clear and many. Or we can move on. I believe wholeheartedly that there are times when we are called to demand the rightness of a situation; justice is a defining theme in our lives. But, I also believe that we are often called to allow our work, our stuff, our characters to be taken and used. Sometimes we are compensated, often we are not. Sometimes we are thanked and blessed, often we are not. I just want, c'mon Lord, seriously, the well-formed maturity.
I heard Romans 12:1 yesterday. And it struck me. Giving up my rights in all three of these instances was just what Romans 12:1 was talking about.

Place Your Life Before God
 1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I need my attention fixed on God. I want Him to bring out the best in me. And that means that I have to walk away from the easy- the bitterness; for my own sake. In order to find well-formed maturity.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

And the Winner IS....

Thanks to everyone who participated in the
Picture
We have been loving it. My 12 yo told another adult this week that "math was fun again." I don't think everything needs to be fun but it sure make my job easier when they aren't kicking and screaming over something we do every day!

So, without further ado, the winner of the K-8th grade program is:

Jennifer Rugh!!

Congratulations, Jennifer!

Thanks to EVERYBODY who contacted the publisher and signed up to win! If you didn't win, don't despair. I will be reviewing Apologia's Complete Physics DVD program in a week or two, with 1 program to give away to a Golden Grasses reader.

Wishing you all a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Recess Rules

*1*
Flower's latest art series. Origami cats and dogs.
School this week was math, Anatomy and Phys, Latin/Greek, pre-law, Poetry, reading, read-alouds (not so much) and lots of fresh air. In fact, recess kinda ruled this week (true confessions). I am a serious homeschooler, but there's one thing you must understand. I am a serious must hang outdoors kind a girl, too. Especially if the sun is shining and it's over freezing. And we had coffee with Cyndi. We talked about all sorts of academic things. Like composting. And mental illness.
 Cyndi rocks. Ruth does, too. So do my kids. And my husband. Does it matter if we got school done this week?
We had a small family crisis and recess was just what was needed.
*2*
It's been unseasonably warm. March is usually our snowiest month (I know  because I used to be State Co for TeenPact and planning a state-wide week-long retreat for high schoolers across a state such as ours with fierce winters was/is no small feat). And yet, there is no snow. Au contrair, it is the 2nd day in a row we have taken our walk in short sleeves and Capri's. Not that I'm complaining but we are already kissing a drought. I have so seriously crossed over to even know that. I live in farm country, ya'll. To celebrate I planted Spinach and Lettuce today. The earth is warm, the sun is shining and even if it does get colder I'll just throw a cover over it. We'll be eating fresh greens in a couple of weeks. Bring it on, baby!

*3*
My Sister's Keeper

Taking a break from Sayers I picked up My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Piccoult. I haven't read anything else by her but she is either loved or hated on one of my on-line reading groups so I figured she was worth a shot. Good writing, nice character development, the theme was a hard look at the question, "does the good of the one out-weigh the good of the many." It was an interesting, fictional look at the life of a designer baby, created to save her sister from a rare form of leukemia with secondary love story thrown in to boot. The love story could have been cheesy (o.k., it was) but it worked because of a surprise element.  Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective. A good read from a family system's pov. and included a surprise ending. The denouement was not believable and that detracted from the first 390 pages; I thought it weakened an otherwise good story. Overall, not bad, easy summer time reading.

*4*

Finished my 3rd Potato Chip scarf. This one in peach for KB. Time to move on to another pattern. I'm thinking socks. Not sure if I still own 4 needles in 1 size.
 I have boat-loads of yarn from Gram's. We went to visit her 2 weeks ago. She is not doing so well. All prayers appreciated.

*5*
The Trampoline has been THEBIGDEAL this week since Dad helped set it up on Sunday. Cub and Flower have wanted to spend every spare minute (and even some ear marked for other things, like school) JuMpInG. They've jumped so much and for so long that their muscles ache and their knees are skinned. Simple pleasures.

*6*
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Today is THE last day to sign up for the Learn Math Fast K-8th System. If you haven't yet, you can HERE. The publisher will be drawing the winning name at 9 p.m. PST this FRIDAY and I'll be announcing the winner on Saturday morning. Thanks for all of the wonderful sign-ups, great comments and enthusiasm!!
 Ya'll ROCK!
In other GREAT news I have the next curriculum review/give-away lined up. I'll be reviewing Apologia's Complete Physics DVD program in April and the publisher has agreed to have one ready to give-away to 1 Golden Grasses reader! Stay tuned for more details!

*7*
Laugh of the week.
 Pinned Image

Find more geek humor 


How was your week?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thinking Summer

It's been unseasonably warm. So much so that the kids talked Viking Man into putting up the tramp for them yesterday, despite work notes and bathroom tiling to do and to plan. The kids have spent HOURS since then  soaking in sun and

bounce
bounce,
bouncing.  
We are already planning summer events and camps, I'm thinking that the next 6 months are going to blow by, the calendar is getting crowded and we're still in spring. That being said, I've been having a blast making a bucket list for the notsolittles. I'm not sure how I'm going to format it - I've seen everything from framed lists with "tickets" to actual buckets with activities written on clothespins along the rim (toss in the bucket once you've completed the item- I don't think that will work as some stuff will be on-going). So far I have the following Headings:

Crafts
Activities at Home
Activities Off-site
Food/ Drinks
Travel
EDU
(code 4 educational).

I'm taking a break from academics this summer (with the exception of finishing up WWS and maybe The History of the Horse unit study) so we are pushing hard to finish everything in the next several weeks. Feeche is going to be hard pressed to get 'er done. For him, it's a choice between taking advantage of opportunities that have presented themselves NOW and working on through June.

My big goal for the bucket list is to put everything together as much as possible, with supplies and materials so that once we finish co-op, class day, and Landry Academy we are free to play. Well, that and work on the house, garden and tear down sheds. You know, p.l.a.y. while still doing the seasonal stuff that demands being done.

My BIG IDEA places have been my Pinterest boards, Family Fun web-site, Martha Stewart web-site, and misc. stuff we just haven't gotten too lately. We are also planning a trip in May for Miss R's graduation (WOOT!!) , and while we have lots of visitings to do, we also plan to do lots of sightseeing.

I'm also putting together a Morning Math Calendar for my 2 mid/late el-ed'ers. I'm having a some technical difficulties with this 'cause most of the A.M. Calendar stuff is for early eled, but I'm working it. When I get it done, I'll tell ya all about it.

Dont' forget to sign up for the entire, fabulous Learn Math Fast System k-8th HEREThe give-away ENDS this Friday!

What are you up to?

Hip Homeschool Moms Button

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Sightings on the Prairie

A field of snow that shimmered and flapped and was discovered to be a huge flock of Snow Geese. Just beautiful!
Canadian Geese flying so low over head that I can hear their wings beating as KB and I chat in the front yard, returning from a walk.

71 degrees, with cold wind blowing so hard it necessitates a jacket..

The river, full and deep on  one side of the bridge and fast and full of rapids on the other.

The kids outside, rambling over hills and acres, returning home full of sun and wind and mud.

Grilling out cancelled due to wind.

Lettuce and spinach seeds purchased for cold framing with hopes of spring greens.

The hope of summer. 

Then & Now Musings

I've devoted a lot of brain power the past couple of weeks to my Grandmother. She is 95 and still lives at home. KB, Feeche and I went to see her last week-end. Obviously a lot has changed in her life, house, and circumstances from when I was a child. Anyway, I've been talking to folks in the Chicago area a lot more than I normally do and, you know, that have a distinct sound. I talked to a gentleman from there today and his inflections reminded me very much of my Uncle Hank. I went all nostalgic on myself, kind of like I did a few times last week-end in Chicago. The what was vs. the what is. The sweet memories and love and warmth of family and place that is no longer. My life has always seemed a bit out of order to me, mainly 'cause it hasn't followed my plan. But the fact that I'm grieving my Grandparent's home and thier significance in my life after I've grieved my parents home and place in my life, seems...odd. Out of order. Like, don't parents die after grandparents. Seriously. And why, seriously, why, as Flower puts it, is everyone in my family dropping like flies. Gram has been more than just Grandma in my life. She has been....strong and uncompromising and courageous. She has been my role-model on so many levels.

Gram has been sharing more stories, including all of the "hush-hush" ones (of which there are many, and significant ones at that) more and more. I'm honored by the telling. Saddened by how horrifically brutal her life has been, amazed at the beauty and redemption she found despite devastating circumstances, proud of the good life she and my Grandpa eventually made for themselves and their two orpaned children. It is a love comes softly story and more than one person has told me I need to write it.

Gram told us many stories last week-end of Mom and Uncle Hank and Grandpa and would always say, "Those were good times." And my own memories of thier house growing up, the love there, the gifts and warmth- they were good times. Good memories. I have in my mind's eye a picture of thier living room. It is clean and warm and full of rugs and books. There is the fragrant smell of pipe smoke, the sound of a baseball game going in the living room, the yellow butterscotch candies glowing like gems on the consol by the rocking chair. Gram's knitting, smelling like her, and her cups of coffee, always half full and somehow always warm. I am loved there, and considered and accepted. And Gram and Uncle Hank and Grandpa are there, smiling and only slightly irritated when we walk in front of the baseball game for the umpteenth time. Good, kind people that were full of joy at our presence.

Gram says she wants to sit down in her rocking chair, go to sleep and die. When she wakes, the people that she loves, the people that loved her will be waiting. Grandpa, Hank and Mom, Dad and Sue and her Momma and Sister and Brothers. She's always said she'll live to be 110 and maybe she will but I've never heard her talk about dying before.

I am praying that God gives me wisdom beyond myself to show this woman whom I have loved and respected my whole life honor and care.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring; Sort of.


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Find more geek humor here. Miss. R, this pins for u!

Doesn't this just sum life up?!

*2*
School this week was a grind. Just being honest, ya'll. The weather was warm, then obnoxiously windy, then bitingly cold. We were all fighting a head cold thang and Flower had a sprained wrist. Not to mention coming off of 2 nights of sleeplessness and a 20 hour drive to and from the Windy City. Anyway, we got math done, and writing. Cub and Feeche got most of their homework done on time and that's about it. Nothing inspiring or earth shattering.
One more week to sign up for the Learn Math Fast System Give-Away.  

Here's how.

*3*
Gram loaded me down with skeins of yarn and there's more where those came from. She bought out her friend's knit shop back when she closed it in the 20th century. I think all of my pattern books bought it in the fire so if anybody has links to free sock or easy vest patterns, lmk, k?

*4*
Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries)
I'm reading Whose Body? It's obviously one of Sayer's earlier Lord Peter Wimsey's- you can tell. She doesn't have his mannerisms or speech patterns quite nailed down. He's too flippant and cavalier, without the subtle, brilliant humor of some of the later books. Wimsey has been reminding me of someone and I finally figured out who it was. Sir Percival Blacney of the Scarlett Pimpernel, most resplendently played by Anthony Andrews.
'The Scarlet Pimpernel'

*5*
We heard back from the bank about re-financing and they don't mind so much about the trim and the closets not being finished but they won't approve it without the 2nd floor bathroom being done. We have less than a month to tile the surround. Which sounds like a lot of time if you don't count the pesky day job, the 2nd on-line class that will be starting and my  husband's overly involved taxes. No problem. We love stress and deadlines. It's what we live for. Yeah, we seek it out. It's what we do.
The good news is that the house assessed for a whole lot. A happy thought in the midst of more strident doing.

*6*
The visit to my Grandma's was very distressing. I won't bore you with the details- unless you catch me unawares and ask how I am and I'm too distraught to catch myself- then I'll probably unload the whole thing on you. Other than that I won't bore you. Suffice it to say she is getting older by the minute, stubborn and independent, still living at home at 95, the primary care-taker for her 94 yo boyfriend, 4 dogs and 2 cats. Yeah.  

*7*
KB, Feeche and I jammed with Todd Agnew and Casting Crowns on the way home. We had an interesting discussion about the reality of Narnia. It's not that we believe in it; much. It's that we believe in the mystical, magical part of a faith in Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit. If you are missing that, you are left with...well, form and not enough substance; religion; legalism; church with no life, dry bones. Even with it, life can be a vacuum, sucking the bejeebees right out of me you.

"To know you is to ache for more than the ordinary,
to know you is to look beyond the temporary,
to know you is believing that you will be enough."

Daily faith walking- life is far more mystical than it appears, what we do see is chronos, not kairos, and God has our back. Check.


Learn Math Fast System k-8th Give-Away

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We are still enjoying the Learn Math Fast System. Flower (age 9) did double digit long division this week and multiplying tens by hundreds. Cub has started in on multiplying decimals. This is always where he's shorted out in previous programs. Honestly, the explanations are simple. There are great graphics. The author focuses on one concept at a time.

Read my complete review here and don't forget to sign up for the entire K-8th Grade Program GIVE-AWAY!!

Find more great give aways here:
Giveaway Day

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lord Peter Wimsey read-athon

I am deep into it with Lord Peter Wimsey. For those of you who don't know, Wimsey is a well off  younger brother of the Duke of Denver, financially secure, curiously quirky and a brilliant crime solver.Created by Dorothy Sayers, master wordsmith, devoted Christian intellectual and quick wit each mystery is fun, fun, fun. Sayers captures the culture of the era beautifully (the 32 murder mysteries take place between 1921 and 1941 in England), creating settings and scenes that evoke a by-gone era. Her characters are rich, real and intriguing. Her plots compelling. Dorothy L. Sayers is recognized as one of the greatest mystery writers of the 20th century and it's no wonder. The mystery is just the dish on which she serves up faith, intellect and breathtakingly beautiful word crafting.
 
I've read 4 in the past several days. They are just that good (plus we took a road trip, so I had lots of good reading time).

The best by far was The 9 Tailors. This is one of the most exquisite books I've ever read. The setting is Fenland in northern Anglia, the plot surrounds a mystery turned murder and the support staff includes a bevy of bells. The book is an unusual look at the world of campanology, or "Change Ringing" - which is the art of ringing a set of tuned bells in a series of mathematical patterns called "changes". The theme is justice. And while the book doesn't focus so much on Lord Peter as on the plot, I found it delightful. Sayers is a master of her craft and some of her paragraphs were breath takingly beautiful.

I finished the book on the way home from Chicago, after a difficult visit with my Grandma and the ending of this book caught me by the throat. I was actually crying for Will, tearful as I described the plot to Feeche and KB and tearful at the harsh judgement dealt by Sayers towards both criminal and faithful husband.

This was so totally me:
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From weheartit
Sometimes it's easier to cry over people who aren't real than the very real ones who hold our hearts in their hands and the difficult circumstances we are faced with, eh?

Strong Poison was the first book I read. It's an interesting look at women's issues and social reform in the last century.

Next up was The Unpleasantness at the Bellanona Club. What I'm loving about these books is how Sayers captures the time and place so beautifully- much like Austen. This book is about a Men's Club in stalwart England, good old military boys and how greed will make people do and say the craziest things.

Unnatural Death- isanother greed as motive plot. Miss. Climpson and Mr. Murble show up to assist Parker and Wimsey as they work to formulate a case, knowing who the murderer is, that will stand up in court.

The strength of these tales is in the command of language that Sayers exhibits; it is full of tropes, thousand dollar words and Latin. Her ability to write dialog; by turns funny, surprising and thought provoking. I have another book in hand, Whose Body, and I'm looking forward to another delightful couple of hours with my new favorite author, Sayers, and the beguiling Lord Peter.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lisa Nehring

Feeche, KB and I are making our way to the Windy City this week-end to visit my 95 yo Gram. She is still living at home, the primary care-taker of her 93 yo boyfriend and a menagerie of cats and dogs.We were talking last week and  she recounted that her first encounter with a telephone, about the time that she was 8 years old, was terrifying; disembodied voices speaking to you through a black box. She has seen a lot of change in her life-time, seen a lot of hard times, worked to be the change.



Despite all of that she has been a giving tree for so very many people.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spring Break-ish

Landry Academy is on spring break this week and then Tutoring Center was cancelled due to inclement weather. Cub and Feeche were struggling with some kind of virus and it seemed like a good time to call for Spring Break, planned for or not. We still spent hours reading and got through Section III of the History of the Medieval World. It's been a great overview.


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We are making our way through Learn Math Fast, Book I. I am loving it. The lessons are straight-forward and simple, presenting complex concepts with simplicity. Be sure to read the review and sign-up for the give-away here.

The week's read-aloud was Minn of the Mississippi. We've been Holling C. Holling fans for years. We had a great time on Google Earth checking out the locations in the story.

YouTube has been providing us with hours of science fun in the form of Bill Nye, MSB and the Periodic Table song. The kids have blasted through Biology 101 (after watching Chem 101 with Feeche) and were thrilled at all of the fascinating and disgusting science facts presented. Flower's co-op class outdid itself last week by doing a cow's heart dissection. While other kids were excusing themselves from thr room Flower was perched over her teacher's shoulder asking to touch it.

Dorothy Sayers and the Lord Peter Wimsey detective series have occupied my free time. Rich, colorful language, a brilliant snap-shot of a time and a place, intriguing plots, characters to love.

It finally decided to be winter around her. Blowing wind, sheets of ice, snow, complete with lightening and thunder.

How was your week?

Thursday, March 1, 2012