Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm O.K. You're O.k. Even When We're Not.

Crosswalk had an interesting article today on teens who lie, cheat and steal and yet feel good about themselves. Morality 101 secular style.
I have a friend whose upper eled son can barely read. He is functionally illiterate, yet when she tries to coach him and correct him he tells her, "Stop! You are making me feel bad about myself." Education makes way for feeling. Frankly, I would hope that if my kids couldn't read, they'd feel a sense of remorse, feel "bad" - long enough, anyway to get their heiny's in gear and learn. Of course, some kids have more hurdles than others and in those cases coping and compensation skills are needed. I don't count whining about how ya feel as an adequate one, but then they don't call me PaxRoMomma for nothing.

On a message board this week, in response to a question about world religions, many of the respondents stated that they weren't as interested in the "Truth" (capital "T") of what they worshipped as they were in how it made them feel. Frankly, I'd rather know and worship a Living God who by His ruach creates and loves, who is fearsome and Holy than play religion with a dead rock god that is impotent. Truth and honesty over comfort and feel good any day, baby.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

WW: Snow Art Calvin style

This started as a lovely snowman, created by dd's 1 & 3, complete with carrot nose and stick arms. The deer, however, cheeky fellows and felines that they are, ate the nose right off that night, a common occurance where we live. Dd 2 went out to "fix" the noseless creature next day. This is the result. Can you tell the influence of a certain comic in our home? We love you, Bill Watterson!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Art of Math

Paul Lockhart write on math education:

"By concentrating on what, and leaving out why, mathematics is reduced to an empty shell. The art is not in the “truth” but in the explanation, the argument. It is the argument itself which gives the truth its context, and determines what is really being said and meant. Mathematics is the art of explanation. If you deny students the opportunity to engage in this activity— to pose their own problems, make their own conjectures and discoveries, to be wrong, to be creatively frustrated, to have an inspiration, and to cobble together their own explanations and proofs— you deny them mathematics itself."

This sounds so similar to what Joan Cotter, the developer of Right Start Math, says regarding the how math is taught in Asia. There it is considered normal to make mistakes, to get the wrong answer and to struggle as you learn. The process is just as important, probably more so, than the outcome. puts the U.S.'s ability to teach math effectively in sad perspective.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

52 Book in 2009 - Book 1 Down.

I had considered doing the 9/9/9 reading challenge (9 books in 9 different categories in 09') but decided that at more than 1 book a week either washing dishes, cooking or the kids would suffer.

Plan 2- 52 books in 09. Knowing myself as a reader -think addict- I keep telling myself, and the concerned good Doctor who checks in on me once or twice after 11 p.m., that I can stop after just this paragraph or one more chapter. We both know better. So, in hopes of fulfilling my obligations this year I'm starting early and limiting myself to a book a week.

Since we're on school vacation- 'round here anyway-I read a book yesterday, Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez. The author describes post Taliban Afghanistan as the country works towards some semblance of modernity. Sex trafficking is common, the enslavement and brutalization of women is a way of life. There's a lot of raunch. I mean it's irl but disturbing because it's so foreign and sickening and sad.

The woman writing the book starts a beauty school in Kabul and her goal is to give women there a trade by which they can purchase the most basic necessities, food, dignity, perhaps respect.

I read Afghanistan by Michener way back in high school and was struck by how hidden women were. Apparently that is still mostly the case. We read Bruchko many years ago, too, and what struck me most as the villagers encountered the One True Living God is how the lives of the women changed. The men began to care for them, to love them, to nourish them, physically with food, and emotionally with love. The Sacred Romance. How He changes things. I hurt for those sisters who disappear figuratively, and sometimes literally; hidden behind burkas, and governments and men who are creepy and savage, and at times by other women who are creepy and savage, too.

Kabul Beauty School is a good read. My take-away is so much gratitude for the opportunities I have as a woman- education, a husband who loves me, joy at the births of my sons and my daughters, choices. A renewed sense of purpose as I pray for those who lives are more desperate and harsh. A deeper vision for the importance and value of education. Relief that my life contains hope and joy on a daily basis.
I was going to delve right into 3 Cups of Tea- set, interestingly enough, in about the same location and with the same theme of the importance of education but I need a breather. I'm off to try to wrest one of Feche boy's Lawhead books away from him.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

WR: Christmas Rocks.

The party continued yesterday as we celebrated Miss. R's birthday with more food and presents. I was going to make a truffle but opted instead for individual parfaits. Chocolate cake, pudding, whipped cream and fresh blueberries. Perfect. Christmas Day here was lovely. Good food, great presents, calls to family, a movie to share and books to look forward to. Yep, just right.
It was the year of the hat this Christmas. I found a perfect "Miss Dashwood" hat for KB (o.k., she found it and thankfully it was still there when I went back for it!) Feche-boy has been asking for a felt hat like Dad's for awhile. Aunt M sent Cub a black cowboy hat from NM and KB bought Flower a crocheted hat in TN this summer, complete with yellow flower!
KB, Viking Man and Jennifer Knapp.

Cool jewels from 10K Villages.

Christmas morning breakfast is served. Scalloped stuffed 'shrooms, quiche, sausage balls, KB's yummy orange and cranberry scones, fresh fruit, Miss R's delicious pumpkin rolls, grape juice from Feche-boy's grapes grown this summer.

Best gifts of the season. The beautiful leather bound Hebrew Bible Miss R gave to Viking Man. Feche-boy's dark brown felt hat-he is so darn cute! Cub received Star War transformers-nuff' said. He's a happy, happy boy! Extended Viking Fam sent lots of socks (hey, it's the little things- THANKS!) Miss R found some amazing oil based hand creme by L'Occitane that she gave to both KB and I love, love, love it! I can wear it without an allergic reaction and it works! Did I mention I love it? The girls bought me new cheater glasses with a granny chain that is BLING city! and Viking Man outdid himself!
Books were given, which is a given in our home. My motto: If you have 2 loaves of bread, sell one and buy a lily- or a book. I'm partial to both! Lots of Stephen Lawhead for Miss R and Feche Boy. KB received, Kabul Beauty School - an interesting and funky look at an expat living in Afghanistan. I was the happy recipient of 3 Cups of Tea, Living Memory and The Homeschooler's Book of Lists - woohooo! And have high hopes of finagling Pendragon from Miss R before she returns to school, taking her book with her.

Just New Years Eve and 2 more birthdays to go before the official Winter Party Season is over at our house. Hope you & yours are finding JOY this season!

Friday, December 26, 2008

HOAC- International Geography Review

I recently had the opportunity to review Hands Of A Child (HOAC) International Geography Pack. I like lapbooking, and notebooking in general as a homeschooling tool and HOAC packs specifically because the activities and booklets are ready to use.

The International Geography pack's Table of Contents includes the Science of Geography, the Five Themes of Geography, Studying the Earth, Branches of Geography, Globes, Time Zones, Maps, Types of Geography, The Physical World, Wildlife, Density & Distribution, Careers in Geography, Making a Living, a Vocabulary List and an Activity List. There are sixty-four vocabulary words listed along with twenty-one different activities. The Bibliography includes seven books and two web-site references. There are an additional twenty-one activities to do for the "Lapbook a Country" section, which covers the five themes of geography for any country you choose to study.

As far as geography goes, the HOAC pack does a great job of introducing the student to the basics of geography. I think that this pack, like other lapbooks, vary in effectiveness depending on the goals of the class. If you are using them simply as a general overview of a subject, they are stand-alone. If, however, you want to delve into a subject and use them as a both guide and reinforcement than you'll need to do some additional planning. For instance, for the vocabulary, I would set up a schedule of words to be learned (i.e. memorized) each week and make flashcards. Secondly, I would dedicate an area with old magazines to be cut up, maps, globes and atlas' to be referenced. I would also have some additional Geography texts around to beef up the activities along with some puzzels. I am totally sold on the country puzzels that Timberdoodle sells- worth every penny! Lastly, we would have spent more time reading biographies of ancient geographers and it would have been handy for HOAC to recommend some.

I used the on-line version of the pack this time (in the past, I've had the comb bound copy) and while it is good to be able to pick and choose which pages you might want to print, I found it (as a visual person myself) difficult to keep track of where I was at and found myself frequently running back upstairs to print off another page (we used it for 3 kids at once). We also found one of the booklets difficult to make and never could figure it out. We improvised, which is easy to do, and no one knows the difference.

My boys, especially, loved having permission to spend lots of time delving into Old National Geographics to find pictures for the various activities and it reinforced their love for maps, directions and all things geographic. This is definitely a class for upper elementary students (3rd -6th grade) and even Jr. and Sr. Highers with some additional planning. and a great way to introduce your students to the wonders of the geography. What would be really fun would be to use the study pack in a group and have a Geography Fair at the end of the year with displays, food, and costumes!

You can find more great lapbooking resources at the Hands of A Child website here. Don't forget to check out the quarterly freebie- a great reason to check HOAC web-site regularly!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Dear Miss. R!

Our oldest is 22 today. She is our elf child. If you knew her, you'd understand immediately. We have other elf children that follow, but she is the original.

Can I just take a moment and do the Mommy Brag thing? Our oldest is intelligent, kind, good, Godly, funny, entertaining, creative, gifted, outgoing, passionate, loving, and hard headed.

She has traveled all over the United States, to South America and Europe, learned a couple of different languages, has friends all over the world, worked at an orphanage for several months, crafted and created out of everything from forks and bread to paint and clay, read 1000's of books, written at least 100's of pages, talked for years, and had people laughing on more than one continent. Her first semester in college this past fall she earned a 3.8 G.P.A. while working 20 hours a week and making time to meet lots of people, knit (!) and watch several season episodes of T.V. shows

Her plans are to go overseas full time as a missionary to an unreached people group that is disenfranchised from the world, lies, cheats and steals to eat, participates in sex trafficking and is almost 100% illiterate. Knowing what we do about this people group we are glad that "hard headedness" is on the list of character qualities above.

This is the child that used to drive me crazy over the daily "I lost my (insert subject book here) so I guess I can't do (insert school subject here). " Who would "go to the bathroom" with a chapter book and emerge later having read 1/2 of it, who kept asking at age 3 and 4 when we were "going to have our family" (imagine her surprise as it grew!) and who has always been smart and verbal and adorable. Who wore skirts or dresses until we moved from CA to OH when she was 8 and who came back from Ecuador wearing make-up and with a clear vision of what God had called her to.

It's been a joy and a privilege to watch this beautiful young woman grow up.

Happy Birthday, Sweetie. I love you!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Real World Education

I just read this article on the state of liberal arts in universities today. It's an interesting juxtaposition to this article on the University of Chicago's co-ed dorm room policy.
The 2 Million Minutes project is another interesting perspective on education in America, as well as in India and China:

I read yesterday, again, about a situation where a family whose kids are teased mercilessly at school (who knows why, maybe they are too short, skinny, wide, political, or blue) but they continue to participate in government education in order to ensure that their kids are able to participate in the "real world." Well, if the situation wasn't so sad, I'd laugh till I choked. "Real world?" I've been hearing that from people, well meaning and not, for years. Like my world, my life are fake? Come on over and I'll dish up a logic class, or 2.

Real world. My oldest can and has taken her self 1/2 way around the world and back, alone, on a couple of different occasions, learned 3 languages, received a 3.8 her first semester of college, all while working 20 hours a week. We are criticized regularly because our kids won't be able to "make it in the real world." After visiting a state U where the basic dorm decor includes how to save your roomie from alcohol posioning, how to report a date rape, and how to recognize your common everyday venereal disease, my kids are thinking our little bubble of "fake" life-complete with laughter, respect for self and others, real academic learning -is not a bad deal.

Really, what it boils down to for most folks is that we don't buy in to their definition of conventional. We don't intentionally pursue wealth or physical comfort. Our real world consists of other values which they would rather deny the existence of.

Sigh. American Education, whose initial purpose was to create literacy in the broadest sense of the word as well as wise citizens making way for co-ed dorm rooms, a student led initiative at the U. of Chicago, anyway. Real world, up close and a little too personal.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

WR: The End of the Semester is in Sight!

This week we focused up on finishing some things.
ETC 3: 1 lesson to go, done by tomorrow. On lesson 76 in AlphaPhonics. My plan to have Flower reading by early spring is well on its way to completion. I love teaching my kids to read. I truly do.
Traditional Logic I: One lesson to completion, done by Monday.
Christian Studies I: Completed earlier this month. Received II in the mail, will start in Jan.
Tiner's Science Planet Earth: KB is reading it with Cub. They'll be done before the 1rst and that will be the 3rd science book Cub has completed this year.
Grammar of Poetry: We slowed down in order to give one of the co-op students a chance to catch up. We'll be done by the end of January at which time we'll start Logos' Shakespeare study.
Writing: Feche Boy and KB continue to write daily. KB contributes to her blog regularly and Feche continues to work on his story, complete with maps.
Math: Cub continues to do 2 math lessons a day in Horizons and both KB and Feche continue to move forward in math. I'm putting off starting Flower formally in math though she is doing simple addition on her own daily, along with counting everything in sight and mazes.
Geography: We were given the opportunity to use HOAC International Geography pack in exchange for a review, which is forthcoming; still deciding if our country study will be on Israel or Czechoslovakia (where the play is set). The littles and I continue to use the geo puzzles that I purchased from Timberdoodle last year. I'm learning a lot. So are they.
Memory Work: We'll finish Isaiah 9 next week. Other than that we are taking a break from memory work with the exception of play parts. It's nice to have a breather to focus on content areas. Don't forget to check out Dr. Andrew Campbell's newly published book on memory. Review below!
WWII Unit Study: In conjunction with the One Act Play. Learning lots. It's not pretty.
Art- KB continues to do collages, drawing and photography. The collages are so cool, 3-D and contain great metaphor. The boys are still drawing tho not as much with the co-op class on hold. The littles really enjoyed the craft day we had for our last co-op day of the year. Lots of mess, glitter and fun = )!

Drama practice has begun in earnest and the play includes chant, dance, and poetry recitation. Both KB and Feche Boy will be stretched, but it's not more than they can handle. Cub has a token part - he is a natural.
The 5th Annual Winter Warm-Up, the annual homeschooling Mom's retreat that we put together each year is under way from a planning pov. Former Mrs. SD will be our main guest speaker and we have a location as well as favors. Scheduled for early Feb.
TeenPact is moving ahead in South Dakota. Dates are February 23-27 and I am getting more inquires weekly. It's a great hands-on government program. Check it out

College Woman was loaned a Star Gate season and we've been indulging in afternoon viewing...the littles have been getting lots of computer time as a result- "new" fav game for them is Roller Coaster Tycoon and Sim Safari. Tomorrow will be play practice, purchasing the last couple of Christmas gifts and grocery shopping as another blizzard is around the corner. We are hoping no car windows get blown off this round. The plan for the week-end is to cocoon. Viking Man has graded over 100 papers in the past 3 weeks for the on-line class he's been teaching and looking forward to a well-deserved rest and some holiday fun. It's been cold enough that the river is frozen solid and we have to take our annual "walk on the river, freeze your heiney off annual adventure" if the weather cooperates. Our beautiful Akita pooch LOVES the cold and usually pulls the littles on the sled but they are bigger and she is older so maybe we'll just all walk together this year.

It's been a good semester. Wishing all of my homeschooling pals a JOYOUS and restful Merry Christmas and winter break!!

Memory Work Companion Now Available

From Paula's blog over at
I am pleased to announce that Drew's new memory work book is now available. He is the author of The Latin-Centered Curriculum, the book that has truly revolutionized our homeschool. I plan to place my order this week.

Here is some information regarding the content of the book from Drew himself.

My Memory Work book, Living Memory, is now available! This is the book mentioned in LCC2.Here's the description:Tantum scimus quantum memoria retinemus: We only know as much as we retain by memory. While progressive reformers denigrate "rote memorization," classical educators from Quintilian to St. ThomasAquinas have always known that memory work is an essential part of acomplete education. Now you can give your students the benefits of classical memorytraining with Living Memory. This comprehensive K-12 resource for memorization, copywork, and dictation can be used with any classical curriculum or as a handy reference for home or school. With this pick-up-and-teach book your students can master:* proverbs, maxims, and famous sayings in English, Latin, and Greek* dozens of beloved English poems, from Mother Goose to Shakespeare* stirring historical speeches from Cicero to Churchill* more than 60 English hymns and carols plus traditional hymns inLatin and Greek* prayers, psalms, and Bible memory verses in English, Latin, and Greek* important geography and history facts* favorite American folk songs* essential arithmetic facts and mathematical formulas* key science facts* a succinct English grammar "catechism" for students of Latin* fundamental Latin and Greek grammar forms.

Dr. Andrew Campbell's introduction draws on both ancient memory techniques and modern research to explain the importance of memory ineducation. He explains how to integrate memory work into your existing curriculum and how to use four key skills to assure success in memorytraining. Please free free to spread the word so we can support Drew in his latest endeavor.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

99 Things To Do.

I saw this meme over at Harmony Art Mom's (Barb) blog and thought it looked like fun. So, grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and learn a bit more about me.The items I have done/experienced are in green...

1. Started your own blog. (Duh!)
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (does high school count? Marching, symphonic and jazz)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world. Both. When we lived in CA they always had great resident discounts.
8. Climbed a mountain - several. High Unitas, UT. One month back-packing trip.
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a my car with no one around! I did sing in several choirs in h.s. = )
11. Bungee jumped...NO WAY!
12. Visited Paris. Nope, but I've been to Athens.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. I think I did a couple of years ago. It was horrible.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables. Yep.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train - all the way to Yugoslavia back when it was under communist control.
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked - back in the day....
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb and a kid goat
26. Gone skinny dipping...going way back now.
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (many!)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise - does the ferry from NY to Long Island count?
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. Some day...
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person..on my list of things to see!
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David...not yet!
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight in FL and Puerto Rico.
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris - but I have been to the top of the Eiffel Tower at Kings Island = )
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (many times!)
55. Been in a movie - but watched a couple being filmed.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching - we didn't see any.
63. Got flowers for no reason (many times! )
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter - but I've flown in a bi-plane over the coast of California
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone -2
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book- not yet
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (never again)
83. Walked in Jerusalem - hope to.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper - not of me. One I took.
85. Read the entire Bible - many times
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee that you know a bit more about me, I wanna know more about you! So, copy this and paste it on your blog, answer the questions, and then leave me a comment so I can read it!

WW: Holiday Happenings

I told the kids to get their feet out of the way so that I could get a pic of our dining room tree with all of our home-made ornaments. I've been adding cards as they arrive. My sister always sends beautiful hand-made ones that truly are like ornaments. Of course, they all stuck their feet INTO the picture!
And one with their smiling faces....

Miss. Flower after the kids Christmas program at church. The decorations are beautiful, as is our girl!

We have 9 foot ceiling's throughout our house. Viking Man is convinced that they are meant to be filled with Christmas tree each year! Our yearly foray to the Christmas tree farm includes a tape measure so that we can get the largest possible tree- isn't it lovely?

Our country porch, all decked out for the season.

More porch decor. Evergreens, baby's breath that we grew this summer and a decoration from my s-i-l's wedding 15 years ago. Time flies!
Some of my mom's china tea-cups. KB added a holiday touch.

This is love. 5 siblings, lots of candy and 1 Ginger-Bread house. Our kids might all end up as professional negotiators. They are all creative, opinionated and darn cute (see picture below) yet we only provided them with 1 house to decorate...(honestly, I don't create situations like this on purpose!), they each took an area....

and went to work. It came out very...unique = ). Hot chocolate and oatmeal butterscotch cookies were also enjoyed! I hope the holiday season is warming your hearts and homes as well!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Animal or God breathed?

Slave traders believed blacks to be animals. Nazis believed Jews to be animals. Atheists consider humans animals driven by animal instincts, destined to live and die by pre-determined factors. If we are evolved animals than there is no need of god. We live out our pre-determined DNA programming, die and become nothing.

All animals die. Does it matter, then by what method we do so? By our own hand, an abortionists, or a violent dictator?
Is the manner in which we live important? What we believe, how we spend our time? If we are simply animals, than those urges which define us should be listened to, followed, cultivated, admired. But then why do we say that Hitler was brutal? Why does Stalin illicit hatred? Why do we cringe at Pol Pot's extermination of 1/5 of the Cambodian population in 4 short years? Weren't they simply following their animal urges to control and dominate lesser animals? Shouldn't we revere these men, rather than decry them? The weak simply died in response to strength, much like a zebra when felled by a lion. Do we rescue the zebra from the lion for it's weakness or do we applaud the lion for it's cunning wit? It's all a matter of preference, of what's sexy or popular or "evolved." Capricious responses to a callous world.
If, however, we are created by the One True Living God, all is changed, whether we acknowledge it or not. Truth is Truth, after all, despite recognition. The Creator declares, "Choose Life." Before you this day is set life or death. Choose Life. This demands a belief in purpose, a belief in destiny, a belief in sovereignty- though perhaps, not our own. Those who have died purposelessly and in response to animalistic brutalit have left behind unfulfilled destinies. Destinies lost.


image of God
born of God's breath
vessel of divine Love
after his likeness
dwelling of God
capacity for the infinite
eternally known
chosen of God
home of the Infinite Majesty
abiding in the Son
called from eternity
life in the Lord
temple of the Holy Spirit
branch of Christ
receptacle of the Most High
wellspring of Living Water
heir of the kingdom
the glory of God
abode of the Trinity.
God sings this litany
eternally in his Word.
This is who you are.

a litany of the person - anonymous trappist monk

Friday, December 12, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

This is my 100th post. It's been a blast. I still can't figure out the cool link thingamabob, but I have successfully uploaded a video.
Watched Schindler's List this week in prep for the One Act Play set during WWII. It's still a sad, sad movie. Only 1000 Jews survived in Poland after the war. The descendant's that Schindler saved numbered over 6,000. One life, granting the gift of life to so many others. Gives one pause.
Another stat on WWII- only 1/4 of all Jews in Europe survived the war. I find that to be a staggering number. 6 million Jews exterminated. To date, over 45 million babies aborted since 1974. Stalin killed 40 million. Funny how we consider Hitler and Stalin such monsters.
Miss R is home from college. She had an awesome first semester, is full of stories and exploits. The littles are thrilled she's home. Thrilled. She toured the south on her way north east due to weather but after a long day flying and waiting, she made it home.
Viking Man's Bible Study is good. Really good. Read, observe, interpret, apply. It is amazing how MUCH detail there is- how FULL each passage is. We rarely get more than a chapter done an week.

Weekly Report- we focused on math and phonics for the littles, Logic, math and Omnibus for the middles. We started memorizing Isaiah 9, but didn't get that far. Rachel has been spending lots of time reading out loud to the kids. We are going to the Pettigrew Museum today for a field trip. I have a feeling school is going to be this-n-that for the next couple of weeks.
2 reads this week: The Shack and I'm currently reading Preaching to a Post-Modern World, by Albert Mohler. I loved The Shack. It's thought provoking, even if you don't agree with all of the author's conclusions. Preachings main premise is that we need to read the scripture and preach from that, we don't need all of the bells and whistles of media or music that so often accompany a church service. I'm looking forward to reading what's next but already have some disagreements with what's being said.
Our local bank teller asked, "Are you done yet (with Christmas shopping)." Having been blessed with more children than budget we spend more time on presents than money, so this is an interesting comment in our opinion. The focus is on stuff, as if shopping were the point. We love presents, we love to watch our kids open presents, we love to shower those we love with LOTS. But, we have found that oftentimes, less is more. More kids = less disposable income, but I'll take my kids over stuff any day. More time with them = less time to work, but I'll take knowing them over giving them things. Priorities. Life speeds by quickly. Like Schindler, I hope mine are in the right place at the right time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Decor

Fun holiday links from over at SimpleMom -have I mentioned it's a great site? See for yourself...

How to Hang a Wreath :: Nesting Place
The Most Wonderful Christmas Garland Ever :: also Nesting Place
Simple Holiday Decorating :: Blissfully Domestic
Reinventing What You Have for Seasonal Decorating :: HomeGoods (written by Melissa of The Inspired Room)
5 Minute Holiday Decorating Ideas :: Real Simple
Holiday Curb Appeal :: Cottage Living
1-Day Christmas Makeover :: Better Homes and Gardens
How to Make a 3D Paper Snowflake :: Persipacious
Paper Snowflakes :: Instructables
All Christmas :: Flickr
Christmas Project archives :: ReadyMade
Mammoth List of Festive Tutorials :: Whip Up

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WW: Welcome Home

After a long day getting re-routed, turned back, landing, refueling, re-re-routing, College Woman finally made it home! Woohoo!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Shack

Saturday was a lazy, cozy day here (all except for Viking Man who worked hard all week-end teaching on-line) and the kids and I continued to decorate, play and read. My book du jour; The Shack. 3 words, I loved it. It spoke to me these things-

God is near, His Son is real, the Spirit whispers wind words, life.
God loves perfectly despite tragedy, loss, disappointment, or crisis.
His Son Jesus walked the earth creating redemption
for the proud and independent race of Adam.
The Spirit lives among us.
He is especially fond of me.
He is especially fond of you.
He treasures us.
Together, those of us who seek Him through His beloved Son Jesus Christ,
will feast in the land of the Living.

Friday, December 5, 2008

WR: Loose Ends

This week I focused on loose ends. College Women blows into town on Monday and I'm sure that school as usual won't be.
Christian Studies I: We finished. We plan to start CS II in January, complete that by March and finish out the year with CS III.
ETC 3- Flower is almost finished. She is still hung up on long vowel sounds but we have that lesson in AlphaPhonics on Monday so I'm hoping that that solidifies it for her. Once she's done with ETC 3 we'll wait until Jan to start 4. She's on lesson 70 in AP- I'm so pleased with how well she is doing.
Math -Cub is doing 2 lessons a day in math. What a great switch to go to Horizons. I see how the concepts he learned in Right Start were good but the lack of structure and the intensive hands on was slogging us both down.
Traditional Logic I -we'll be done with this month and start II in January.
KB is 1/2 way through IEW"s Rhetoric so is taking a break until Jan.
Grammar of Poetry -we'll finish this this semester. We are going to start Logos' Shakespeare in January and finish the semester with a play. The kids have done such a great job. Poetry rocks.
IEW's Poetry- we've taken a break with IEW's picks and have been learning holiday poems. This week's pick was "A Christmas Carol" by G.K.Chestertown. It is touching and beautiful. Cub insists it's "Catholic" because Mary is mentioned every stanza and the Christ-child's hair is referred to as "fire" -which he has interpreted as blond. I think we'll do a search on Chesterton- wasn't he Catholic? - it never ceases to amaze me how kids make connections.

Play practice starts today along with a study on WWII. It involves dance as well- we'll all be stretched! Lots of poetry recitation invovled so it fits in really nicely with the Poetry and presentation that we've done as a group this semseter. The littles are in a Christmas presentation at church. The music is lovely and fun.

Seasonal Fun- This Saturday the girls and I are making Christmas paper crafts, and we have several other "Christmasy" things to do this month, a gingerbread house, a trip to the Pettigrew Museum, creating a creche and making cards for deployed soldiers.

We are getting ready for the Winter Warm-Up- our winter retreat for homeschool mom's -it's in February but the details always take several weeks. Former Mrs. SD will be our guest speaker- our theme this year is "Beauty."
TeenPact is in 2 short months and we are going to do a couple of fund raisers. Looks like we are going to have an awesome group this year! If you're in the area and need a rockin' place for your teen to go in February, lmk!

My blogging buddy, Jennifer's Lost, has a terrific blog on halving your stuff. Go visit! You'll be inspired!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Defining Self

I have always appreciated the verse in Habbukuk that states, "Write the vision, make it plain." I am a writer, I like to envision, this is a "natural" thing for me to do. Ofter I get caught up in the activity of writing "it" down, even when it is not mine to own. I recently was quite enthused to consider the 9/9/9 reading challenge. Upon reflection I won't be participating. It's not that I'm not a reader, or don't see the value in guided reading. It's that I know myself enough to know that when I am caught up in a book the things that are in my hand to do are neglected. There is so much I want to do, yet I find myself, more and more, longing to do the things I'm called to do with care and skill and passion and excellence. I am middle-aged enough to fully realize that time is a commodity of which I have less and less of. So, I continue to go back to the simple things, the things close to home, the seemingly mundane and unobtrusive, the small. Knowing that women the world over and throughout the ages have done the same. Home-keeping, training children, reading, praying. Finding joy and surprise when the vision expands to include a new purpose or ministry or friend, or the revitalization of a friendship or ministry that seemed depleted or frayed. Breathing gratitude for this season, this time and place when we are at peace, we prosper, and we have choices.
The Vision is simple. What do I have in my hand? How do I steward these resources. Write the vision. Make it plain.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Great Give-Away.

Simple Mom is a great sites with excellent ideas for simplifying life, productivity in the home, getting finances in shape, enjoying the beauty in the every day, and so much more.
Simple Mom currently has a give-away. A really great one. Gorgeous family-inspired jewelry. Go check it out!

WW: Wild America

Cub & Flower have been enjoying Kumon's Paper Craft books- lots of fun to cut, paste, glue and PLAY with! I don't think Mr. Gorilla had his morning latte!
The beautiful Percheron's at the Christmas Tree Farm.
Starry, starry night. Planets actually. Our camera didn't do the conjunction justice.
All photos courtesy of KB.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh Tannenbaum

The day after Thanksgiving marks the official start of the Christmas season in our household. Viking Man is all about Christmas and his mood is infectious. Again this year, we went to our local tree cutting outfit and spent time in the freezing cold contemplating, rejecting and finally deciding on the perfect tree. Once the important decision was made, the girls headed back to the car to thaw while the men cut down the tree. At the warming hut we were greeted by hot cider, candy canes, ponies to pet, turkeys to ruffle and a sleigh ride courtesy of 2 noble Percheron's. Just beautiful!

Back home, we drank hot chocolate, listened to Christmas music, decorated trees and put up garland. This old house was made for the season.

We had our first Advent reading tonight. We are going through a Jesse Tree Devotional this year and started, again, Tabitha's Travels. The littles are still on round 1 of the series, though the older kids have heard it before.

It usually gets down to serious winter here after Thanksgiving but the house is winterized and we have wood stacked. I would taunt, "bring it on" but winter is my least favorite season; I get cold in the fall and stay cold till bout' the end of planting season. I am all about mild winters and look forward to spring thaw, weather wimp that I am.
We still have a few weeks of co-op to go, we'll start play practice this week and we pick up College Woman from the airport in 8 days. I was going to try to fit in a lap-book on Christmas symbols but I think I'm running out of December. Are you getting ready for Christmas yet? What do your school plans look like?

Friday, November 28, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

Joining Jennifer over at Conversion Diary for Quick Takes again....head on over and check it out (link in blog roll).
1. Our Thanksgiving was relaxing and mellow. The big food hits were KB's orange and cranberry scones -oh yea- and homemade Baklava. The scones will be revisited this a.m. with tea at breakfast but the baklava was savored and polished off with relish last evening. I believe a new tradition has been birthed.
2. A disturbing day for India yesterday. Disturbing is such a clean word. It doesn't do the horror and damage justice. A grievous day for India. A day of death and mourning.
3. Read an awesome article this week on "genius," -I am going to figure out how to link things so that you can read it too- just probably not today : ) It distills world class excellence down to 10,000 hours, or roughly 10 years of investment of time, effort and passion. I've been reflecting on it a lot this week. What is it that I want to pour my time, energy into? How do I want to guide and direct the kids? What do I want to be really good at, focus on and excel at? What about you? What are you passionate about? What does the world need that you have to offer, that no one else can provide? What if we don't live 10 more years, what would be worth the investment even then?
4. We are getting a live tree this year and going out on Sunday to cut it down. Our annual Christmas decorating begins this week-end. Woohoo! The house is so clean it would sparkle if it could. Popcorn, hot chocolate, Charlie Brown's Xmas CD playing in the background (courtesy of our friends, Laura and Bruce-see what you started?) and decorating! Sorry you'll miss it Miss. R but we took a vote and we decided that we wanted Xmas "up" for the whole season. We are saving the Gingerbread house for when you get here - arntcha' happy? : )
5. CAIR, the Council on American Islamic RelationsMuslims wins lawsuit for 'fasting' and 'prayers' on the job. Chad Groening - OneNewsNow - 11/26/2008 5:00:00 AM
"An Arab-Christian woman and critic of Islam says it is unfortunate that Islamic intimidation is forcing American companies to give Muslims special privileges not afforded to other groups.
Under a settlement of a federal religious discrimination lawsuit, up to 100 Somali Muslims who are current or former workers of a St. Cloud, Minnesota, meatpacking plant will receive a total of $365,000. The U.S. Equal Employment Commission filed suit against Gold'n Plump, Inc., and the Work Connection, Inc., an employment agency which handled some hiring for the plant. Under the settlement, Goldn' Plump agreed to pay $215,000 to workers who were terminated for taking prayer breaks, and Work Connection will pay $150,000 to workers who were asked to sign a form acknowledging that they might be required to handle pork, which many Muslims consider unclean."
Lots of thoughts on that one but that would change the quick take format....
6. KB, Flower and I are venturing out into town for the U.S' busiest shopping day of the year. I am not a shopper, stores are not my thing. KB has a gift card and coupons -this love.
7. China buys up Citigroup's assets. A comic we enjoy has his marionette say about Asia, "We have all your money." Someone is laughing all the way to the bank.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Do not get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up,
for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.
- Galatians 6:9

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Scent of Celebration.

"For we are to be the fragrance of Christ." ~2 Corinthians 2:15

God's fragrance has been a theme for me of late. I have been pondering how often I don't wear a lovely fragrance that beguiles, beckons, invites. It's the common that I wear, the dishwater soaked apron, full of worries and cares. My Gram used to have aprons that were just to wear for special times, to be lovely. They acknowledged the sacrifice and hard work that goes into living but added a touch of beauty and joy to the everyday. I get so caught up in the weary-work and the what-isn't that I often just soak in that. I fail to embrace the sweet smell of what is:

My husband, full of youth and vigor,
intelligence and wit and love for me.
My 5 blessings called children that I look at with wonder,
knowing that they will stand longer and stronger than I ever could.
My extended family, that has supported and loved us,
through thick, thin and disagreement.
Our little house on the Prarie that is full books and charm and living.
My friends from years past and present,
who have challenged me, loved me, encouraged me,
mentored me, disagreed with me, called me friend.
The present, the what's to come.
The Hope of Heaven.

Again, I look down and see that I have feet of clay knowing that I am a person of Destiny-as are you- called to soar with wings like eagles. When I wear the fragrance of Christ my feet become unstuck and I take flight.

The Word of the Lord to me today is beautiful fragrance;
the aroma of Thanksgiving,
the scent of Celebration.

Join me over at Seedlings in Stone and L.L.'s grand Thanksgiving Celebration --- you're invited too! She's got the cider on... care to join the feast of posts? See you over there....)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

WW: This N' That

Feche-boy has been our #1 fire keeper during the day. He brings the wood in, feeds the furnace diligently and keeps us all warm. Of course, I don't think that he minds the frequent visits outside to get wood. He truly is part Feche (get the books, they are awesome, The Wilderking series.) Cub pitched in this week to help clean out both refrigerators. Please disregard the mess around him and focus on the boy. Isn't he a cutie = )?
Miss. Flower lost her 2nd tooth this week. This time, all on her own (the 1rst tooth had a little help from a bro).
Honestly, I am going to duct tape KB to a chair to get a picture of her soon. She has been so busy taking them that I haven't gotten any of her lately.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Easy as Pie Homemade Yogurt

A cheap and easy recipe during a week of cooking expense (at least for those of us in America). Gather your ingredients, a heavy bottomed pan, clean jars, clean towel, whisk or spoon.
4 cups liquid milk. 3 Tablespoons powdered milk. 3 Tablespoons cornstarch. Sprinkle the powdered ingredients over the liquid milk in a heavy bottom pan. Whisk. Heat to scalding. Scald for 3 minutes. It's important not to let the milk boil.

From busy cooks
Scald means to heat a liquid, usually a dairy product, in a saucepan until it almost boils.
Remove from heat and let cool until you can stick your finger into the milk without burning your finger (not very scientific but it works when you don't have a thermometer). You want the mixture to be warm enough to incubate the live active cultures that you are about to add but not hot enough to kill them.
Add 2 Tablespoons of yogurt with live active cultures to your milk mixture and stir well. This can be from the supermarket or from your last batch of yogurt. If you shop for yogurt, make sure that it says on the label, "live active cultures."
Pour the yogurt mix into a jar. I use a canning jar. Wrap up like a baby and let it rest. I usually get at least a quart of yogurt from the recipe, but sometimes more, so I like to have a clean quart and pint jar handy, then put tin-foil over top, sit on a potholder and wrap up in a towel to incubate.
Check in a couple of hours. You should have a creamy, lovely yogurt that is as firm as store-bought. The longer you let the yogurt incubate, the tarter it will be.
We eat yogurt almost daily with granola, but it is also good as a sour cream substitute and I use it to make delicious wholewheat/oatmeal pancakes. Enjoy!

The original recipe was posted by Camy over at TWTM boards. Her blog is full of great homemaking tips and ideas. (

Friday, November 21, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

I have been enjoying Jennifer's posts over at Conversion Diary. Friday's are 7 Quick Takes, and it's a great wrap-up for the week. Pop over and check it out!
Have had a long-time dear friend on my mind and dashed off a quick email. She has a lumpectomy scheduled soon with a fam hx of cancer. Please pray for Laura and her fam. We love them.
Had a great time with KB this week planning, decorating, looking at recipes. Why do we always end up with the same menu? I look for new recipes and new dishes but they seem either weird or cost a fortune. I think we'll make Baklava this year for desert-yet another revision to the posted Menu.
Went on a field trip today to a Fire Engine Factory. So very, very cool. The kids had a blast, the parents had a blast. The tour guide was funny and informative and let the kids climb all over the engines in the display room for 1/2 hour with lights flashing.
Scored at the thrift store this week. Boys jeans in great shape for dirt cheap, books by 2 of my fav authors and 3 videos- Galaxy Quest, One Night with a King & Schindler's List. We are doing a high school One Act at the end of January and our play is on a WWII Czech Concentration Camp along with a unit study. This will fit in so very well. Cool thing is that the Morgan's lead a "Holocaust to Hope" tour and take communion at the selection point, redeeming the holocaust. It was a powerful to hear Janet tell of their adventures at the camps and what God
is doing last Friday during our visit with them. (
Howie Morgan's teaching tapes continue to bless and challenge us. Good stuff. Really good stuff. The teaching exposes my immaturity and convicts me. Not a combo I go looking for on my own but I do appreciate growing up and the freedom that affords.
A friend owns the "How Shall We Then Live" DVD by Francis Shaeffer and she is loaning it to me! Woohoo. I had wanted KB and Feche-Boy to see this. I'm thrilled.
Discovered a "Jesus Stocking" - went back to link the blog and "lost it" -if it is your idea, lmk and I'll link-ya! "A Jesus stocking is…just that. A Christmas stocking made for Jesus. It hangs in a place of prominence throughout Advent, and each day the family writes on pieces of paper things they are grateful for. Into the stocking they go, along with good deeds, and corporal or spiritual works of mercy performed during Advent as gifts for Jesus. What a great idea, and a very simple way to remember the reason for our joy!"

WR: Quarterly Review

Memory Work We've been working hard on VP cards, the Foundations review and poetry. Christian Studies I is about complete and the kids and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. All of the kids have done an awesome job memorizing, understanding, map work and drawing (the temple, etc). It has been this quarters big winner.

Latin, however, I have gotten too lax on. This is going to be an area that we work on next week because it will be light in other areas, and then make a priority as the next quarter gets under way. Flower is bored with Prima Latina, it is way over her head. My only requirement for her is that she sit and listen to it, but even that is a stretch for her.

U.S. Geography has been on the upswing because everyone has an individual map and I quiz them as they i.d a state or capital. We did get the U.S. "sound-off" from Logos and have started working through that. I wish that we had done the capitals/states in state alpha order as a more systematic way to memorize them. Another minor detail gripe about Foundations. The Geography puzzles from Timberdoodle continue to be a big hit with the littles. Flower loves them.

Science & Math, KB began reading with Cub, which they are both enjoying. He is on the second book in the "Exploring Earth" series by Tiner, which are all good. He finished RightStart B and I had a coupon for the Xian bookstore so he transitioned right into Horizons 2, book 2. I realized that we need to do more math drill in adding and subtracting with double digits and multiplication. He knows skip counting through 15's but hasn't figured out that this can help him with multiplying. This is his slight hold-up and he gets frustrated having to stop and figure it out.
ScheduleFeche-boy needs a daily work chart in order to stay on-task. I am going to put one together this week-end so that he can check items off on his own. We've gotten bogged down on Confessions and he is bored. I need to focus with him and get him into the next book. He has been reading like a mad-man from our history section and just picked up Eragon. He and KB continue to plow through Logic & Math- Dad continues to Tutor a couple of days a week, and everyone is doing some great drawing. I quite being diligent about using my lesson plan book and I am feeling much more scattered. There are a lot of details this year. I work much better having just a few big projects to tackle.

Sr. High KB continues to work through IEW's Rhetoric program. Can't say enough good things about it. We haven't even started Artistic Pursuits, though she has been doing some amazing drawings, paper crafting and photography of late.
Extra Curricular We also worked on the campaign this fall, visited the One Room Schoolhouse, did several read-alouds, watched Stein's Expelled and Lou Giglio's Indescribable and today we will go to a Fire Engine cool is that?

Overall, it's been a good quarter. I need to get back to my lesson plan book, create a check-off chart for each student, get deliberate about Latin.