Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Parellel Societies. Threat or the Essence of Freedom?

Homeschoolers in Germany have been having a tough time for the past several years, as anyone who follows international news would know. Currently a family is seeking asylum in the U.S. so that they can pursue the freedom to parent their children, rather than have the state do it for them in ways that they find reprehensible. Hey, I thought the E.U. was all for multi-culturalism? This shows just how far that goes. The U.N. Rights of the Child is determined to take the right to parent our children from each and every one of us. I'm standing on the rights of the U.S. Constitution and Liberty. Hopefully, enough lawmakers will do the same so that we can continue to live free.


The old Prussian system lives on. It's the view that if Christians are allowed to homeschool then the Muslims will be allowed to do the same thing. The German gov is scared, because the rise of the EurAbia phenomenon. It is a real fear, they are losing their society to the Muslims due to thir own short sightedness (their own birth control) and they can't make exceptions for the Christians.
As the article stated, homeschooling (and in this case, Christianity) does create a parallel society. If a state sees this as a problem, it follows logically the persecution will shortly follow, if it isn't already here. Anti-semitism is also on the rise in Europe because of this problem. Jews are also seen as a parallel society and this, combined with latent Islamic anti-Semistism, encourages the marginal and impulsive to act out in reprehensible ways.
If America doesn't grant this family asylum is will show that we continue to be short sighted about what is happening globally; we will be betraying our own legacy.

No Change. Advocacy for a Culture of Death Continues...

100 days of an anti-life president.

Notre Dame has invited President Barak Obama, not only the most pro-abortion President in history, but a guy who tells us that his administration will “make scientific decisions based on facts and not ideology.”

You can read more about the Notre Dame-Obama controversy here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Leadership Institute

Over 30 youth from 4 states spent two days in intensive training sessions this past week-end with expectional trainers from the Leadership Institute on topics ranging from forming new political organizations to the role of youth in local and national campaigns.
Future leaders with RPI Chairman Matt Strawn
"Leadership Bootcamp" started at 8:30 a.m. and lasted until 11:30 p.m. with homework assigned and began again at 9 the next morning. Future statesmen and women learned about the nature of politics, fund raising, leadership i.d. and training, lit layout, media and public relations and so much more. Fun group projects, Q & A, and a Crisis Management situation rounded out the experience. Guest speakers included Iowa Senator Grassley and RPI Chairman Matt Strawn. The kids were exhausted, filled a notebook, had the energy to swim before getting in the car, bragged about how they survived and surprisingly stayed awake and yapped & laughed the entire 5 hour ride home. Thanks again to our good friends at TeenPact for the full-ride scholarship (www.teenpact.com) and for the Leadership Institute for the great food and lodging, excellent presenters and challenging curriculum that had us all thinking about politics and our involvement in a whole new way.
Find out more at: The Leadership Institute.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Part of Spring Are You?

You Are Chirping Birds
You are a very caring person. You especially feel for innocent beings, like animals and children.
You are keyed in to the world and very peaceful. You believe that everyone is connected.

You remain focused and in the moment. You are not easily distracted.
You have a good memory, especially for things that you hear. You listen carefully.
http://www.blogger.com/%3Ca%20href= Part of Spring Are You?

Friday, March 27, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

My brain has been full up with thoughts about the books I've been reading (see previous posts this week). The Promise is every bit as brilliant as The Chosen, both by Chaim Potok. My next read of his is scheduled for this week-end; My name is Asher Lev. Have I ever mentioned that I'm the theme queen? Give me a color, style, author and I'm all over it. Fav authors: C.S. Lewis, F.Rivers, T.Dekker, S.Lawhead, and so many children's authors I can't even begin to name them all, but come on over and we can go through my bookshelves together, cause next to reading great books, I love to talk about them and turn others on to them. It's not an addiction, really.
Discovered a phrase that felt so right in how it summed up our lives (quoting Potok from The Promise): "the tiny, twilight in-between life we've carved out for ourselves." I could list all of the oxymoron's that our lives consist of, but what's the point? We just simply "don't fit in" anywhere.
School this week consisted of memory work, Bible, Math, Writing, Latin, Logic, Shakespeare and SexEd (see #7). Frankly, spring feve hit pretty hard. We had some odd nights of going to bed way too late. It was o.k. I read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and realized that we aren't doing enough just for fun stuff.
I am taking KB and Feche-boy and a couple of other high schoolers to a Leadership Institute training program this week-end. Thanks to our friends at TeenPact the week-end is paid for. We are looking forward to seeing friends from WI, learning a lot, meeting an Iowa Senator, being challenged, clarifying the vision.
Bought "Wee Sing" America tonight. We had such a fun time listening to the songs and quotes in the car on the way home. Our children's pastor in NM used to direct the kids in 3 plays a year. One of them was a tribute to America and had over 50 kids in it. We made costumes and sets and the kids loved it. So many of the songs were familiar, the notsolittles knew many of the quotes, and surprisingly many of the songs. Why is folk music so comforting? Food for the soul. I bought it for the notsolittles so they'd have something new and fun while we're gone but KB wants to sneak it along with us and jam to "I've Been Working on the RailRoad" and "Big John Henry Died with a Hammer in His Hand!"
True confessions, I also bought the notsolittles another VeggieTales. I had a coupon and a full customer card so it cost me some change. They were both beaming. Did I mention we're themers? Ask any of us to quote any Veggie Tale and we can do it, songs, voices, scenes. Hey, what could be healthier than a bunch of Veggies?
Viking Man and the boys have been listening to Dave Ramsey together. They drove home together and Viking Man greeted me with one of three "non-sexual hugs a day" that Ramsey suggests. You know that Dr. Viking Man makes our bread and butter counseling and he was chortling the entire time. Cub looked on with interest and then, just to clarify, asked what "non-sexual" meant. You should have seen his sincere, angelic face as he posed his query. Bright blue eyes, blond hair, the picture of innocence. Snort. Flower chimes in with some words of wisdom, which are probably best left out of this post. Suffice it to say that anyone who thinks homeschoolers don't get sex-ed in their curriculum needs to come chat with our kids!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Night & Day

I've been reading "Night" by Elie Wiesel. He survived Auschwitz, Dachau and living hell. His writing is beautiful, powerful, troubling. He was transported to the camps at the end of the war. His village truly believed that the Russian army was coming, the war was ending (which it was) and that things would settle back to "normal." The Fascists took over the government, and while the Hungarian Jews knew what Fascism was they consoled themselves by saying it was just a change in administration. Days later they were transported, 80 to a cattle car, nailed in with little food or water and no sanitation facilities to a concentration camp, where they watched babies being tumbled into flames, burned alive. People in eastern Europe had not heard of Auschwitz, did not believe that it was real when they heard rumors of crazy places. It was simply too fantastical, maniacal and evil to be a real thing. Who would think that there was a movement. backed by what used to be decent people, designed specifically to rid the world of a race?
KB reads Cub science and they just read how in the 20's there was a movement to create federal parks of places like Yosemite. The problem was that people in the east didn't believe that such fantastical places could exist. Photography to the rescue; the national park system was born.
I read The Chosen and The Promise and am struck by the new ways of thinking and understanding that were being introduced, the cultural shifts that were happening: symbolic logic and historical criticism, psychoanalysis, World Wars, existentialism.
As I've been reading The Promise I am struck by the character that survives the holocaust, comes to America and becomes a fundamentalist, defending violently the "old ways" of thinking and believing. Historical Criticism is a threat to Truth, putting any kind of learning before the study of Talmud is a display of wrong priorities. The remnant must be protected, the truth salvaged, the struggle made sense of. The horror must be defined in terms of faith, blind trust in the Master of the Universe is the thread that anchors him to reality.
Heard yesterday of an adult talking with a graduating senior who could not identify the significance of the year 1776. The adult gave lots of clues but the graduating senior remained oblivious to the fact that in 1776 the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, in order to form a new nation. A nation founded on liberty and justice. A world changing event. Complete ignorance.
Seems like we are in another time of huge cultural upheaval, with post modernism at the helm. If nothing is significant, or it's significance changes from moment to moment, if meaning is prescribed by whomever than the birth of nations founded on liberty and justice mean little. What, after all is justice and liberty? If cruelty is simply my understanding, rather than an understood event or behavior, than guns in school aren't a threat, unless I think of them as such; the annihilation of people groups is probably overstated. Strong adjectives and quality verbs become simply drama instead of adding depth and meaning. Photography, once the measure of reality has computer enhancement and photo shop at its disposal. Truth becomes....what I see, feel, believe now?
I'm tired of winter, tired of "stuff," tired of memory work, tired of the mice in the house. Same old same old. But Viking Man keeps going back to the Mission. We are raising our kids with love and logic, lots of hugs, a clear understanding of the value of adjectives and verbs, a cultural heritage that takes the Master of the Universe as One who loves us, calls us by name, has a plan, despite cruelty, blandness, bills and boredom. There is meaning beyond ourselves.

"TRUTH is not yours to invent or create. It is outside you. It is real and objective and firm. One day you will hear it. It comes to you, and sooner or later you will bow to it."

Miss Piggle Wiggle

...and on a lighter note. Our read-alouds lately have been "fluff" rather than following the history for the year. I am, once again, relying on and very, very thankful for the audio CD's of Story of the World. Susan Wise Bauer has done us all a favor in writing the books and Jim Wiess in reading them aloud. Don't even hesitate for one minute- just go buy them. You will learn more world history than you ever knew before. Your will be amazed at what your children understand. It is money well spent. Ad over....

We are (thankfully = ) done with the entire "Littles" series and have moved on to Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. My notsolittles, and even Feche-boy sat last night with knowing smiles on their faces as they listened to the struggles of families who can't control their young. When I asked them what Festal's problem was (the main character of the chapter) they concluded that he was spoiled, that his parents gave him too much and that he needed a good spanking. Secretly I think that they were relived that no spankings came, just several weeks of healthy living on the farm with Miss Piggle Wiggle. A fun read and great pictures by Maurice Sendak.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Apathetic Insularity

From Ryan Sayre Patrico over at First Things: "The news is dreadful: According to the Census, since 2006 we have been living in a republic where, for the first time in the history of the republic, Americans drink more bottled water than we drank beer.
Why is this important? It’s important because beer is a socially oriented beverage, and bottled water is a privately oriented one. . . . Read the rest at Front Porch Republic."

In other news the sport of bowling has more followers but fewer people playing in leagues.Viking Man has been saying for years that people are getting more technologically intelligent and less able to successfully navigate relationships.
Something to think about.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Studium, Studii

I almost lost the Latin card I was using as a bookmark for The Promise. Luckily, it was still in the study, on top of a phone book and under miscellaneous papers. It said this:

studium, i

study, student, studious, studio
And on the back the definition:

enthusiasm, zeal, learning.

Apropos. The books was about that.

A quote from chapter 15, when Reuven is going in for his ordination exam, "Rev. Gershenson smiled behind his gray beard and in a soft voice asked me a question having to do with a point of law found in the Yoeh Deah, which is a medieval work on Jewish law and which I was required to know together with the Talmud tractate Chullin and any other tractate of my choice. I was also required to know the various important commentaries on these works. I was required to know it all by heart. No other kind of knowing was recognized."
Impressive. Most impressive.

Studium, Part II

...I read the above and realized that I stopped writing abruptly, even though my thought process continued on. There was a discussion on a board this a.m. about teaching kids to think and a poster commented that public school required memory work. Not from my experience. If that were the case, why are multiple choice tests and T/F test, group projects, narrative recounts considered the test of true education these days? What impressed me with the above quote was that a lot of the young men described in the book were not only studying for the rigorous ordination exam but were also involved in getting advanced degrees in philosophy, mathematics, medicine, psychology; in other words, degrees that require rhetoric skills. These were people who could learn, think and excel.

I always felt hindered by my lack of knowing how to learn. What I did learn, up until several years ago, I did by intuiting, and, perhaps I am naturally an intuitive learner. But, if one is not sure how one gains knowledge and understanding one can never be sure if they can learn a new thing. Learning is a gamble, not a certainty. As a result, there was always hesitancy and insecurity. And if one believes that knowledge, understanding and wisdom are all part of the process on a continuum than the hope of ever reaching wisdom becomes almost an impossibility.

Books like The Chosen and The Promise and The Long Winter offer hope that learning and true education are simply the result of hard work, discipline and vision. Something that we can all attain.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Perfect Day; Latin, Friends & Children and a Good Book

I listened to a Veritas Press tape on teaching grammar stage Latin yesterday. I was getting so excited about the progress that we'd (read I) had been making and was seeing that yes, it is doable. I/We can learn it. We are making progress. My perfectionism kicked in and I began doubting. There are still resources we need to buy, time and discipline to invest in the study of. I got over myself and went to buy poster-board. I am going to make chant-charts and we are going to incorporate some of the chants. We are also going to learn simple things; the colors, animal names, etc. Cub is always frustrated that he doesn't already "know" and I found myself struggling with that yesterday. It is o.k. and natural for things to take time.

Yesterday we met some friends at the Science Center for the Ag Expo, ate a free lunch, spent hours at the Science Center and came home to almost 70 degree weather. Viking Man and Feche boy went on a walk and saw 2 beavers, 2 muskrats in the river and a wounded gull in the field. We ate a lovely meal, including strawberry salad! around the table, the house was clean, the doors open, the weather beautiful, everyone healthy. Loveliness. And then I read a book = ). Did I mention perfection?

My new fav author, Chaim Potok has me completely mesmerized by The Promise. I will be done with it soon and eager to share. As a Marriage & Family Therapist, it is fascinating to read about the advent of schizophrenic treatment, which is what the field of Marriage & Family Therapy is founded on. As a conservative Christian, it is fascinating to see how he describes the post War Jewish communities in American after 75% of the European Jews were slaughtered. It is rich. It is deep. It is timely. It expresses for me....I'll wait and write more of that later.

Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, March 20, 2009

WR: A Full Week

Diligentia ditat; our Latin phrase for the last couple of days, meaning "Diligence enriches." I've been thinking a lot about this lately. For one, Cub has been developing an educational philosophy of his own and we've been having many discussions about the importance of memory work, focus and getting work done in a timely manner. Again, I am drawn back to why I love the classical model, because of the different stages of learning: grammar, logic and rhetoric. No matter how old we are we can tackle a subject, with no shame, at the grammar stage. I've been learning English Grammar along with my kids, using a number of different tools. I especially like Living Memory's Grammar Catechism. It is about 10 pages of definition done in a call and response format (like a catechism would be). Feche-boy has been commenting on how much easier Latin has become. Viking Man (a successful Greek scholar from seminary) and I (a casualty of seminary Greek) have been discussing our lack of understanding of rudimentary grammar terms, such as what an Ablative declension is. Frankly, until last year I didn't' know the difference between a declension and a conjugation. Happily, now I do.
I've been mulling over how creativity flows from diligence and knowing. So often in our culture we are encouraged to be creative before we have any of the tools needed to create with. Kids who don't read are encouraged to write creatively. Poetry is taught long before the kids have the verbage or form to set the tune to. Creativity forced from randomness creates chaos, disorder, disunity. And that leads me back to govenrment schools and an earlier discussion about the purpose of them, but I digree. This is supposed to be "Quick Takes."
Still thinking about The Chosen. It generated an interesting discussion on TWTM boards. It always blows me away just how little I know in some areas. I'll be looking up political resources recommended by friends there. In the end, this is what I responded to a poster who is coming at politics from the left, who is articulate and very educated and who was lamenting the fact that he could not come up with resources with which to counter more conservative choices.

"The thirst for a higher set of ideals is highly respectable and to be greatly admired. It's confusing to find the source of ideals and value and their manifestation in people. I think that's part of what I loved about The Chosen. It's a community of deep faith pursuing the source of those ideals and creating confining situations as a result that others must then deal with and create something of value from. The value is found in what is pursued, not simply in the pursuit itself. We've all fallen short in living our ideals and in creating something better for others. It's the nature of human beings to be tragic, the choice in life is to either reconcile ourselves to that absurdity or to receive a higher reality. How quickly the political jumps to the theological."

Leads me back to an on-going discussion I had with a younger relative during the last election. We clearly disagreed about the nature of many things and she finally stated that it was "just politics." Oivey! Such simplicity! The personal is political.
Spring is in the air. Robins have been spotted. We are taking daily walks. Feche boy has gone beyond the fenced pastures and is spending more time along the river and in the low hills that create the valley we live in. We were awakened by coyotes howling the other night so he goes with a big stick and lots of confidence.
We did the usual school work this week- actually probably more. I made a chart -gasp!-Viking Man was so pleased = )! "Write the vision, make it plain" (Habakkuk). Logic, Latin, Math, Omnibus II (finally done with Bede-the Ecclesiastical History!), IEW, phonics, geography puzzles, Bible, Memory Work. We did a progymnasta exercise in co-op last week. A great exercise but difficult to write. I'll be doing more research to better understand the progymnasta myself. Flower has only 10 lessons to go in AlphaPhonics. She is at that stage where every new lesson seems to exclude what she knew before. We keep reviewing and going over basics (what does the "e" at the end of the word do to the vowel in the middle?"). She is reading words like dazzle and raven and then forgetting how to read -and. It's so interesting to see her brain at work, again from the grid of a classical model. It just takes the pressure off.
Read about a family this week that celebrates Shabbat and what a blessing it's been for their family. They are Protestant but working on creating a day of peace and rest in their home. The house is clean, the food and presentation beautiful. It has appealed to me in a fresh way. Seems that so often our week is harried and any "Sabbath" that we take means that we do less of the same, rather than the intentional creation of something enriching and that is what we are all longing for.
A discussion came up this week about doing other things with my time, a couple of scenarios involve personal dreams and hopes. Yet I am torn, because frankly I am greedy for the time with my kids. I want to be personally involved in what they are learning, knowing, doing. Have time to be in the kitchen together cooking and cleaning, taking walks to the river. Just seems that the busier we get, the less of that there is. I just have the sense that once the kids leave, they will be far away and busy with what the Lord has called them to. It's what I hope and plan for but I am in no big hurry to see them off. They are one of my deepest joys and time flows like the river water in spring...rushing and bubbling and leaping past.

Lots more this week but we are off to co-op. Was your week what you hoped for?

Conversion Diaries hosts 7 quick takes and it's always fun to see what everyone else has been up to and thinking about for the week. Hop on over and check it out: http://www.conversiondiary.com/

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WW: The battle still rages....

in our house anyway! So maybe Star Wars doesn't count under classical education, but certainly Legos do, wouldn't you agree??

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Chosen

I had the good fortune of picking up "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok at a thrift store last week for far too little money. This is a profound book, rich and full with so many different themes that I'll be processeing it for a while to come.

I was struck by how invested the fathers were in the educations of their sons and how much the students studied. The study of the Torah took hours a week and was presided over personally by the fathers. This was no happenstance study of the religious documents, this was a sacred trust placed in the hands of the father and presided over with love and care. I look at our post-modern world, our age of mechanical, slot-like thinking and grin a little at the latest wave of persons chanting the mantra of "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, " (Malachi 4:6). Seems to me that we have taken that to mean, watch an extra T.V. show with the kiddos, do something recreational or indulgent. Or, for the truly religious we take them to church every time the door is open or sign them up for Bible Quiz Team. I'm not denigrating S.S., Bible Quiz or indulgent recreation but I do think that we need to be careful that we don't liken those activities with fathers who capture their children's hearts and children whose hearts beat in resonance with their fathers. Through the lens of a Hebraic pov what it means is that we are to be teaching our kids deliberately and logically throughout their childhood and we should teach them about not only the things that we are "interested in" but maybe even more importantly disciplining their hearts and minds so that they can go beyond what they are naturally inclined to. I wonder how this is to be done when a myriad of distractions take our kids away from "home," literally and figuratively for hours a day. Certainly culture is being transmitted but are we deliberate enough in choosing which culture? Why are only 4% of kids raised in Christian homes remaining in the Christian church just months after leaving home for college? My theory is that they finally have the freedom to live out the culture that they have been steeped in for almost 2 decades, and in many cases, parents are lamenting that it is not their own.

"You shall teach them (the commandments and law) to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." (Deuteronomy 11:19).

We are to take joy in studying, and share that joy with our kids. The father/ son relationship in this book was about the fathers conveying their faith, belief system, ability to think and understand to their children, the very fiber and fabric of their being was being transmitted and the son showed honor to the father by what he understood in the same way that the father showed honor to his legacy by what he had successfully conveyed to his offspring.

Education wasn't just about the transmission of goods or wealth or how to do something. It was the transmission of self, understanding, position in the universe, the right relationship with the Creator, the nurturance of the intellect, the protection of the soul.

We too, are, or can be, chosen, "But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called [you] by your name; You [are] Mine. (Isaiah 43:1). This was a paradigm shifting passage in my life when I first discovered it a quarter of a century ago. I was called with deliberation. I was formed from over-flowing love. I was owned by the Creator of the Universe. I was no accident, no mistake, no aberration, no discard.

Yet our wider culture and educational climate certainly conveys that nowadays. Sexting and it's undesirable effects such as suicide, not to mention the denigration and debasement of self, functional illiteracy, rampant abortion and more commonly euthanasia, evolution, and it's companion, atheism and the inevitable nihilistic belief system that follow shout that life is accidental, determined solely by DNA, worthy of forfeit.

Education is the transmission of culture. This book shined a light on my educational goals for my kids and I realized I haven't wanted enough. That, as Viking Man, says, character is formed through intellectual discipline and inquiry, not the opposite as we hear preached in church and the homeschooling community far too often. I desire that my children have the tools and skills necessary to survive and thrive; Yes. But more importantly I desire that my children have a belief system that is rooted in the Living God to the very core and fiber of their whole being.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dark Visions

"Abortion is the number one killer of African-Americans in the US. Indeed, though African-Americans only make up about 13% of the U.S. population, over 37% of all babies killed by abortion are black. In the last 36 years over 17 million African-American babies have died by abortion alone." George Grant

Margaret Sanger's (founder of Planned Parenthood and racist) legacy and vision live on, this time supported and encouraged by an African American president. The power of legacy, vision and mission.

"Shall we allow these children to die, forgotten? Shall we allow the doctors, the writers, the painters, musicians, mothers, teachers, who never were, to fade into the history books as mere numbers?" Virginia Stringer from "Can You Hear Them Crying?" - the play on the Holocaust that I directed this past winter. The parallels between the thousands of dead by Nazi determination and the current Aborticide are uncanny.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOR1wUqvJS4 For some reason this video wouldn't load though I tried several times. It's worth a few minutes of your time.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

WR: Working Hard.

This week we hit memory work hard.
VP cards. We are done with the stack of 160 again. We'll be spending time reviewing regularly and we'll start the president's on Monday.
Bible- we've done John 1 in English and Latin, Psalm 23 and are working on Ecc 3:1-8
Geography- United States. We are (slowly) working through the Logos U.S. sound-off. Our faithful co-op Geo Queen Miss Teresa is on the ball this year, but sadly, I am not. We'll be working on this way past the end of co-op.
Grammar Catechism- still loving it! Feche-boy mentioned again that Latin is so much easier knowing all that we are learning.
Shurley Jingles- our faithful co-op Grammar Queen Miss. Lori is doing a fantab job of making up grammar worksheets. The kids LOVE the jingles- far more than the grammar CD.
Latin sayings-I'm odd, as are my kiddos and we LOVE Latin sayings. They are just too fun.
History sentences-CC. Sing the song mate.
Math-skip counting, squares, cubes, measurement.
Latin- declensions, conjugations and vocab.

LC II Latin and Traditional Logic moving along. Both taking TIME...
Christian Studies II- 1/2 way done. I haven't spent as much time on the geo as they suggest but I want to finish III by mid-May, so we are over viewing geography.
Math- Viking Man continues to Tutor and the kids continue to move through the text - Praise God.
IEW-Medieval and Progymnasta. KB is working hard on her writing assignments. They are challenging.
Shakespeare for co-op. It's the Logos study but I'm going to add some of the activities from Omnibus II (they have studies of both Macbeth and Midsummer's Night's Dream -see previous post).
Omnibus II- Feche-boy is almost done with The Ecclesiastical History by Bede. We are moving along slowly but he knows it. Multum non multa!
AlphaPhonics- lesson 117. Flower can read far more than she knows!
Horizons Math- Cub is almost done with 2B.
Grammar- Cub is loving the worksheets that Miss. Lori puts together.

Cub is going to be reading for 45 min. a day again beginning next week. I haven't been on top of history with him and he has too much free time. We're also going to be adding in Prima Latina again. Too much time off from both.
Viking Man and I discussed creating weekly check-off sheets for the kids. I am a plan big and the details follow the plan kinda gal. Several of my kids demand far more structure than that or they start, as Flower aptly puts it, "crumpling." So, against my nature I am going to make check off sheets this week-end and work folders.

On top of it all, the house stayed mainly clean and neat this week- my little "big" win.

KB and I are going to plan the garden and order seeds asap. I. Can.Not.Wait. Spring and gardening and flowers blooming and swinging the kids and reading outside and playing at the bridge. Bring it on!

Magic, Humor & Rhetoric

We have discovered and are using Omnibus II from Veritas Press this year and all I can say is, YES!! I'll post more about the actual curriculum later, but for now I am just so jazzed about an entry I have to share. Did I mention that we were also doing a Shakespeare course in co-op? So, Omni II has a study on Macbeth, KB's favorite Shakespeare play to hate, and A Midsummer Night Dream, her fav to love. You gotta rent the back in the day version with Mickey Rooney in black and white. Grab a cuppa, cause the quote is long, but worth it:

"Christians have often been suspicious of magic even when it appears in literature. This understandable attitude has its roots in Israel's law, which forbade any kind of witchcraft....what are we to make of this? As you've learned from reading stories like J.R.R. Tolkien's, Lord of the Rings, and C.S. Lewis's, Chronicles of Narnia, magic (understood a certain way) can be a rich inspiration for Christian literature. It expresses the key doctrine that the world is personal and poetic, not mechanical. After all, it is a world created out of nothing, only by a word. It is a world governed by a faithful covenant and upheld by God's power. It is a world where miracles happen: languages are mysteriously mixed up, oceans are parted, iron floats on water, a virgin gives birth, water is changed into wine and the dead are raised to life. Int this sense the Bible is full of magic."
It goes on and is so rich and deep and good I feel like crying...
"If God is the author, then even things that seem chaotic and harmful still glorify Him. The world can only go upside-down if it is possible to be right-side up to begin with. If everything is crazy, the "crazy" has no meaning. If magic makes no sense, there still must be such a thing as sense. The same assumption also makes comedy and laughter possible. We laugh at things that don't seem to match up-things we think are incongruous. When Groucho Marx said, "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I'll never know," two different incongruities, or mismatches, are at work- an ambiguous meaning and a bizarre image. But this only works if there is such a thing as real meaning and ordinary images....a purely irrational and unpredictable world can't be funny - it would be boring randomness, like static on the radio. You could say that humor, just like our ability to perceive something "wrong" or fallen about the world, only holds up if it is supported by Eden on one side and heaven on the other. There has to be a right for us to that something is wrong."
(All quotes by Jared Miller, taken from Omnibus II, published by Veritas Press)

A great apologetic for all of those Christian brethren who don't "believe" in or read fiction-More's the pity and a great loss to them! A great apologetic for those post-modernists who don't believe in Truth or Order or Meaning.

This was one of those school days where we were all on the edge of our seats, filled with wonder at the wording and eager to jump in with our own thoughts. I kept trying to get the kids to stop interrupting but they were so FULL of the truth of what they were hearing they couldn't contain themselves. Finally, KB practically yelled, "This is rhetoric, Mom! Isn't this what we're supposed to be doing?" Yes, and yes. 3 cheers for Omnibus and 3 cheers for students that are bursting with learning and 3 cheers for the gift of homeschooling.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

WR: Anticipation

Winter weary and beckoning spring.... Another day of "Wintery Mix." Too windy and cold to venture out in, the kids and the dogs and the Momma are longing for spring days and getting garden dirt between our toes.

The End of Evangelicalism.

A must read for those invested in the church. http://snipr.com/dh0lz

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pax RoMomma

Like normal kids, mine frequently get tired of school, tired of winter, tired of routine. While I don't consider myself a draconian homeschooler by any means, my vision for what the school day looks like and theirs often differs. In response to my academic directives they have dubbed me "Pax RoMomma." Meant as an insult, I feel it is truly a badge of honor. I'm considering having buttons made! KB, resident arteest, went to great lengths one day to articulate her deepest feelings.

Universal Truths

Here’s a novel suggestion on the economic crisis from Stephen McDaniel over at First Things:

I propose a revolution. Our whole social order is flawed because we no longer understand the duty of the sexes. The duty of men is to talk about G-d by the city gates, make speeches and occasionally kill each other. The duty of women is to make sure everyone has enough to eat and to laugh at the men behind their backs.

and GoD so LOveD the WoRLd.

"When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some 'disinterested', because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the 'lord of terrible aspect', is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist's love for his work and despotic as a man's love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father's love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes. How this should be, I do not know: it passes reason to explain why any creatures, not to say creatures such as we, should have a value so prodigious in their Creator's eyes. It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring; we are inclined, like the maidens in the old play, to deprecate the love of Zeus. But the fact seems unquestionable."
~C. S. Lewis, from The Problem of Pain

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Good Deeds & Grace

The picture is from The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. Because I can relate. Once again I am struck by the truth that no good deed goes unpunished. Regardless of personal sacrifice, humility and going above and beyond there are complaints and expectations that are not fulfilled and thus, offense.
I renew my committment to do only that which I believe God has called me to do. Even with that the fiery darts of the enemy and thought of neighbors aim to strike only to close to ones heart. And often, too, there is the question of hearing rightly from God, obediently following the course laid out by SomeOne bigger and with a higher pay grade than myself. Just taking time to listen and hear is a life theology course that I am just beginning to really understand.
Growing in mature faith is what I am attempting to do. Listening to Him and forfeiting my own agenda, position or title. I'm an American with a well groomed sense of entitlement but my heavenly citizenship demands more. And the more I grow the more grace required. For others. For myself. I'm not well-groomed in grace and mercy is not the top of my spiritual gifts list either. Again this week I'll have the opportunity to put aside my "rights" and my claim to being "right"and practice instead humility, even when it isn't fair. And in the end, I might just lose that which I wanted, have to give up claim to what I've worked for. Watch others get theirs.
And I am going to just breathe in. And breathe out. I am going to be a non-anxious presence. Hopefully bask in His presence. And by the end of the week I have the high hope of being closer to who Christ was. And is.
I hope that your Sabbath was peaceful, as ours was and that you look forward, with anticipation, to what's ahead.

Friday, March 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday


I am torn in my thinking and trying to make sense of those who are earnestly being humble, seeking to follow and glorify Christ, and those who are "power brokers." Those who "make things happen," who justify the means by the end, who brush off the humble, cater to the wealthy and self promote. It seems like such a juxtaposition and my brain is having a difficult time wrapping itself around the concept of being about power, but also Godly humility. IRL does this happen?
Today's co-op classes were a blast. I love IEW and I love teaching writing. It is a joy to have engaged, happy, intelligent students.
Contacted 3 state reps this week about an upcoming vote that I believe strongly about. Each and every one contacted me back; 2 by email and 1 by phone. The power of the people.

Heat wave this week. It was a glorious 50 something today. Balmy weather, clear skies, happy children and budget enough to get a little extra. The notsolittles agonized at StuffMart over how to spend their bit o' money and finally settled on a set of kitties for Flower and another Bionicle for Cub. FecheBoy spent the evening creating Bionicle monsters that he kept perching in my hair. Eww. Flowers new little "thing" is to snuggle up to Viking Man or I and purr. Too darn cute. Meanwhile Cub and FecheBoy are attacking me with neon colored and vile creatures. Whoever doesn't believe in gender differences never lived with both.
Salad. One of my favorite things. Tear Romaine lettuce into bite sized pieces. Add grape tomatoes, olives, chopped avocado, shredded carrots and celery, a little fresh Parmesan cheese and some low-fat Ceaser salad dressing. A delish dish designed to delight.
Saturday prayer is one of my favorite hours of the week. Our prayer coordinator always picks 45 minutes of music that is worshipful, acoustic, meditative or challenging and 4-20 of us pray for 3/4 of an hour for the week-end services. I love it. It is one of my favorite hours of the week.
College Woman made the Dean's List her first semester. She'll have finished 41 credits her first year of college while working 20+hours. I believe that she is a woman with a mission. We are proud of you, Miss R, for all that you've done but we LOVE YOU because of who you are! Check out what she's up to at her blog: http://servinghimblind.blogspot.com/2005/08/howdy.html
and an extra for KB who is not only beautiful on the outside but a sweet and gentle spirit with a heart of fire.

Hop on over to Conversion Diary to participate in 7 Quick Takes, too: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2009/03/7-quick-takes-friday-vol-24.html

Thursday, March 5, 2009

IEW Rocks & Works.

If you are not yet convinced that IEW rocks then take a peek at my dd's blog and read her latest entry, "March Already": http://blindlyservinghim.blogspot.com/2009/03/march-already.html

WR: Regroup

It was a re-group week. I had a killer sore throat on Monday and spent the day in bed.
Tuesday we did some school, phonics, memory work, math. I was still worn out and we didn't get a whole lot done. KB did dramatic readings of 2 Shakespeare stories. The kids loved it but I am totally in the dark for co-op on Friday. My evil plan is to have KB led class.
Wednesday and Thursday the older kids did Logic and Latin as well as Math with Dad.
I read stories to the notsolittles- actually we are reading "The Littles." Flower wishes they were real. Cub read the whole series last summer but is really enjoying hearing them again. He's read all of the AG books in the past couple of weeks and his conclusion was that "they are pretty sappy but the history in the back of the books is good." He continues to spend lots of time reading the Kingfisher Encyclopedia and poking on his math pages.
We finished up the second section on book II in Christian Studies. It always amazes me that no matter how many times I've read the stories, there are always details that I've missed. The kids picked up a detail on the map that MP left out.
KB is reconsidering her plans for the fall given the insightful comments of some older friends. Why doesn't anyone ever talk about the stress of launching adult children? So far, 2-4-2 I think that this developmental stage is the most taxing-so many possibilities, desires, hopes and how to get them all done in one lifetime with the resources available?
Thursday we cleaned and tied up loose ends. All of the "thank-yous" for TP are written, the eval in emailed, lots of follow-up calls and time on the phone with parents. Take-away for everyone: it was a GREAT week last week in Pierre.

Viking Man is going to testify before the Senate on a bill on Monday. He is feeling particularly hammered with work lately and committing a day to drive, prepare and be "on" is a true sacrifice, especially given that he'll still put in a full day of work in the afternoon. If you live in SD don't forget to call you senators and let them know that you are AGAINST SB191!!

Next Tuesday a new homeschooling mom is going to come over to find out more about homeschooling, curriculum and household management. Maybe I'll dress the kids up in dresses and button downs, braid their hair and have them sitting neatly at a clean dining room table doing school-HAHAHAHA! I don't think I could pay them enough. They've come in 2 days in a row now full of mud and crisp air from romps through the fields. We've had a heat wave and they have been out in it, soaking up the hope of spring. It's a toss up between the 4 of them and the 2 dogs as to who has dragged in more mud.

How was your week? Did you get a lot done?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rockin Week in Pierre

TeenPact in Pierre. Camp at it's finest. A purpose. Fun. Fellowship. A clearer vision. Lots of laughs.
Teresa and Joanne. Two of the awesome moms that stayed for the week. The week wouldn't have happened without Joanne!Higher math fun.
Cub, all dressed up and off to conquer the capital!
The Mom's who feed us (at least some of them). Kitchen Queen Monica and Kitchen Elf Darci. We ate like royalty all week long!! Feche-boy speaking at our Press Conference.

Our State Capitol.

Evening games included "Story," -which always includes lots of laughs!

Ultimate Frisbee is a must at any TeenPact event!

Founder and President of TeenPact, Tim Echols. He enjoyed the peanut butter pie, inspired kids and parents during the evening sessions, called a press conference, met almost everyone in SD and didn't stop moving the entire couple of days he was here!

One last one of Feche-boy, giving the speech that got him elected state legislator for the year.
We had an awesome class this year. Awesome kids, awesome staff, awesome camp, awesome parents, awesome program. TeenPact is hands-on learning at it's finest. Check out the state class nearest you at http://www.teenpact.com/

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Government, Leadership & Spiritual Growth: TeenPact

Last Sunday I left home with Feche-boy and 2 other high school friends for our state capitol. We met up with part of our TeenPact team on Sunday evening, including founder and president Tim Echols, who was our Guest Director for the week. It was a fast and furious week, full of great guest speakers, prayer walks, awesome food, great fellowship, ultimate Frisbee, tired dogs and by the end of the week 42 exhausted, happy and well-educated high school students who might, at this point, know more about government that most of us.
They heard from the Lt. Governor, a Public Utilities Commissioner, the Secretary of State, our state Family Policy Council Executive Director and many of our state legislators and senators. We were introduced during the legislative session and had several comments, including from the Seargent at Arms, that our suited and skirted group was the most respectful and thoughtful group of high schoolers he had ever seen at the capitol.

The kids participated throughout the week in legislative procedure, parliamentary procedure, wrote and voted on mock bills, debated with a devil's advocate, campaigned and voted for a governor and legislators (go Feche-boy!- Legislator for a year! along with Matthew H, William U and Brianne W!), prepared and gave speeches, went on daily pray walks, sat in the gallery's and looked awesome in their suits and dress skirts.

Evening fun included more inspiring talks by Mr. Tim Echols, Program Director Josh C., board games, ultimate Frisbee, bball, snacks and talking and laughing so hard our sides ached.

It was a good week. The parents involved worked hard to make it happen from a monetary and time standpoint. The TeenPact staff and office work hard to make it happen around the country. All of that to pour into 42 high schoolers and 31 elementary student to teach them about how our government works, to let them participate in their rights as American citizens. And hey, if you want a powerful moment, walk your state capitol with a group of high schoolers and pray outside of your governor's door with them! The point was to show them that study earns respect and the right to be heard, that how you look and present yourself matters. Those of us involved are pouring into the lives our ours and others kids because we believe in the process. We are passing along our values and our belief in the constitution, in liberty and in life. Being part of that rocks!

Rush Limbaugh spoke this week at the end of the CPAC conference about conservatism. He sums up what our week was about and why I believe in conservatism and why I am investing in the lives of many others in pragmatic ways such as through TeenPact:

"Our beliefs are not the result of a deranged psychology. Our beliefs are our core. Our beliefs are our hearts. We don't have to make notes about what we believe. We don't have to write down, oh do I believe it do I believe that we can tell people what we believe off the top of our heads and we can do it with passion and we can do it with clarity, and we can do it persuasively....When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere, when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere, we see Americans. We see human beings. We don't see groups. We don't see victims. We don't see people we want to exploit. What we see -- what we see is potential. We do not look out across the country and see the average American, the person that makes this country work. We do not see that person with contempt. We don't think that person doesn't have what it takes. We believe that person can be the best he or she wants to be if certain things are just removed from their path like onerous taxes, regulations and too much government.

Rush Limbaugh, addressing the CPAC convention, aired on Fox News. Read the rest of it here: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/03/01/transcript-rush-limbaughs-address-cpac/

If you want to provide your high school student with a week of challenge, growth and fellowship, as I've said before, check out TeenPact at http://www.teenpact.com/ There are also 1-day classes for students ages 8-19.