Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Day in the Garden

We spent the day in the garden yesterday, Viking Man and Feche Boy adding considerably to the garden area, the rest of us weeded, mulched, moved plants and planted more and we celebrated by eating our first garden salad; romaine, green and red leaf lettuce. We've been sharing with the bunnies but decided it was high time we took a cut. Salads constitute many an evening meal during the summer time: last night we added to the lettuce garlic chicken, grape tomatoes, fresh parmesan cheese, carrot shavings, low-fat Cesar salad dressing, and served it alongside banana bread muffins warm from the oven and iced green tea with lemon. KB added a centerpiece of purple bearded iris, chive flowers and catmint leaves to our garden table which sits between the perennial flower bed and the peonies. Then it was back to the garden for more weeding, mulching and planting. We were all stiff, dirty and tired at the end of the day but the gardens are looking loved and the veggies and berries, herbs and flowers are looking great.

Friday, May 29, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

*1* Hoopla

It's been a month/week of Hoopla. Monday was spent recovering from KB's fun graduation party and packing for Miss. R's 6th trip abroad. She is spending another month in Hungary and Romania, working with a Romanian family that serve as missionaries to the Gypsies, spending a week at the orhpanage she volunteered at 3 years ago, and then a week at a missions conference in Hungary; poor souls have to sleep in a castle!

Chocolate Mousse ala KB
Beat heavy whipping cream (1 c.)with cocoa powder (2 T) and sugar (2T) till soft peaks form. Serve with fresh fruit, pretzels, on cake for true decadence. Wow! We decided it would also be terrific with a spoonful of instant coffee added for a mocha flavor.

Finished off the last of the pesto we froze last summer this week over chicken and noodles.. Viking Man declared that he wants to see lots more stocked before the end of summer! Gotta replant the basil- another turkey casulty.
Took the border rocks from the front garden beds and replaced it with black edging. The beds are smaller and look soo much better. KB transplanted the flowers we had in pots for the party to the front beds. Replaced yet more tomatoes. We have wild turkeys helping themselves to our vegetables!! Viking Man has plans for a fence. We keep adding beds so the area is getting bigger but we are using every square inch.
Feche-boy has discovered Madeline L'Engle and upon finishing "The Swiftly Tilting Planet" has declared that he "loves Madeline L'Engle!" Along with the rest of us!! Treat yourself to one of her books and no doubt you will agree with us!
Started "Climbing Parnassus." It is deep, rich, good, thought provoking. Will not be reading this one fast.
Almost finished with "Foreign to Familiar" by Sarah Lanier. Miss. R read it for a missions class last semester and insisted that I read it. We've lived in OH, IN, CT, CA, NM and now the territories. All vastly different cultures, albeit all in the U.S. The book focuses on the differences between hot and cold climate cultures. The older kids have been reminiscing about NM quite a bit lately. Having spent 14 years in either CA or NM they are really warm climate beings, making their way in a very cold climate culture now.
Did a wee little bit of math this week. KB is zooming through the last couple of lessons in logic and loving them. She is currently reading "The History of Medicine" to Cub and they are enjoying it immensly. He won't let anyone else read science to him- too sweet. Began Miss. Flower on piano today. She decided it was hard- holding one's hands in position, counting and hitting the right notes in the right order- lots to think about!
She is also reading books to me- she has been fascinated lately with our Spanish/English books and she'll read the English and I'll read the Spanish.
Cub is obsessed with Bill Watterson and entertains us with renditions of Calvin and Hobbs. Today he read about 12 strips over breakfast and had us all laughing out loud. Certainly humor should be a school subject, should it not?

Cleaned the study, put books away, sorted stuff to sell, actually dusted. Took all afternoon. Of course, we are all now hanging out in the study more than ever. Viking Man spent time working on lots of honeydews, the upstairs bathroom is no longer a late night slip and slide and my coffee grinder is fixed! 3 cheers for a man with Brains and fix-itabilities!!
*7* Listening
Spent the long trip back from the airport listening to VP tapes on classical ed and writing with Andrew Pudewa. Good stuff. Also listened to several eclectic picks from Miss. R which included folk, gypsy yodelingand Christian. KB and I love Brandon Heath. Miss. R introduced us to Bride and Prejudice produced by Bollywood and we had a blast listening

Don't forget to hop on over to Conversion Diaries for more Quick Takes:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lots Wife and Rural Living

Read a thread this week of a homeschooling mom who is dissatisfied with where she lives: in the heart of the inner city complete with burglaries, break-ins, shootings and police helicopters. We used to live where she lived (literally) and I couldn't wait to move- especially with kids. Mainly for all of the reasons she listed- safety, noise, pollution, cost, crime, gang activity and on and on.
We now live about as far from the above mentioned locale as possible. We live rural. We are out of town in a rural out of the way state. And I often find myself wishing that we lived somewhere more...

So, this week I was having an argument with God. Not really a discussion. I was basically listing my grievances, my disappointments, my frustrations, in a not-so-pleasant, dissatisfied manner. Why.Why.Why. Why not?WhyNot?WhyNot?HowCome?HowCome?HowCome? argh. Dissatisfaction to the point of wanting to spit. So it came down to this. I said, "I want to move to a bigger city. More opportunities for the kids, more job possibilities, more things to do." And in the midst of all of that, I had a revelation. Maybe how I was feeling was how Lot's wife was feeling. Out there looking at sheep heineys all the live long day, maybe she just wanted to be closer to town so that her kids could participate in the local soccer club, or maybe she just wanted to meet friends at the local Java Hut once a week, ya know? I believe God was saying, "So, you want to move to the big city?....Lot's wife did too." It wasn't a big ugly rebuke but it did give me pause. And a renewed sense that God has us where we're supposed to be. God is training us where we're at. He's got us covered. Sheep heineys and all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

KB's Graduation Party!!!


The pictures got totally out of order but blogger is sluggish today and I have other things to do, so bear with me. This is a small display that we made of some of KB's artwork. I wish the clarity was better- she is so talented! We didn't get a picture of the collage that she choose to display- it was "Can You Hear Them Crying" based on the One Act Play about the Holocaust, that she performed in, and won an award for, this past January. The cake. 1/2 white, 1/2 chocolate. Buttercream frosting. Yum. KB and friends....Our first graduate- now a happy full time college woman, multi-lingual part time missionary and world-traveler.

If you know Miss. R (above) you know Miss. Flower (below). On the way to NH to decorate for the party she stated, "This is going to be a GREAT day! We have balloons, cake, yummy food, cards and presents and...(she pauses and her voice trills)...FRIENDS!! Both are petite, full of joy and as sanguine as the day is long....

KB's graduation took place last Sunday at the center where Viking Man does Biblical Counseling. It is a peaceful and wonderful place. The party included friends, though the picture is missing the zillion kids under 16, who spent the majority of the time outside playing and only came in for cake...Embarrassing KB publicly (it's what we do) as we told stories about her and presented her with a diploma...
A couple of displays; a tri-fold sitting on a quilt that she'd made which highlighted much of what she's focused on the past couple of years- nature, politics, drama, travel, artwork, writing. She had several poems out for people to read as well as scrapbooks. Next to the tri-fold we set out several of her art pieces that we'd matted (see above).

We had black table cloths with pink napkins, forks and lemon-aide along with potted pink pansies and a little white flower whose name escapes me as centerpieces. We also had cut purple iris' and lilacs everywhere we could find a spot. It smelled like a garden.

The lovely graduate!
Well done KB!! We love you!!

Only 3 to go. Here is the goofy 14 yo who will be our next to graduate!

There are no pictures of Cub because he spent the entire time outside with friends. He had a blast and totally appreciated KB's party = ).
I feel like the mom at the end of Pride & Prejudice (the Colin Firth version, of course) where she states, "3 dd's married, Mr. Bennett, God has been very good." Though, of course, we haven't even gotten to the marriage stage yet. (Miss. R & I decided we're giving KB a "surprise wedding"- she is a true introvert!) Though it's "only" another graduation, we can say that indeed, God has been VERY good.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

WR: Spring Break

School was non-traditional this week. We cleaned the porch - a full day's job, moving the furniture, mopping, dusting, getting the porch plants out of the dining room, finally putting away the twinkle lights! It is lovely and ready for lots of summer sitting, reading , talking, and al fresco dining.
We re-planted tomatoes which got wind-burned and put in more melon and gourd type plants as well as flowers, wedded like crazy, added dirt to a couple of flower beds, moved plants,, generally got quite dirty in the gardens.
Did convention reports for IEW and Bethleham Books. Sales were great.
Cleaned, sorted and re-arranged the school and photo album bookshelves, a huge job. The sorting (and the dust!) bogs me down every time. Started a box of books/curriculum to sell, and 2 to store.
Worked on the Bible Bee with the boys. Slow and steady going.
Spent time with College Woman talking and sorting through some things. Included late nights. I'm tired.
Cleaned the church that our small co-op has been using all year. The kids made "thank-you" cards for the guest speakers and field trips that we've taken. Moms worked on planning next year. I'm not the only curriculum hobbyist in the group and that makes it even more fun. The kids love being together and are eagerly anticipating our couple of summer get-togethers.
KB's graduation party is on Sunday so we are gathering items and planning festivities.
Cub had guests last night for a sleep-over and College Woman is gearing up to leave for Europe on Tuesday.
In between it all we watched X-Men, Iron-Man and Bourne Ultimatum. All fast, fun and furious flicks. Miss R and Feche Boy were jamming to the music at the end of Bourne and fell together into a playmobile pile that Flower was coming back to. They both walked away laughing but bruised. Watched Cranford on the puter last night while the notsolittles enjoyed Zoom Academy.
Found a couple of cool sites this week. Artios Academy
which looks a little spendy for now and CLAA on-line: which looks amazingly affordable. Received "Climbing Parnassus" in the mail this week and am looking forward to it. Viking Man has an order in for a pile of books related to Hebraic Christianity and The Beginnings book by Chaim Potok is along with. I am eagerly waiting to get my hands on it.
We still have school to finish but it will keep. Mid-way through next week we'll get back to it. For now, it was good to have a break from the routine. Hope you had a successful week!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

God's Sovreignty & XMen

It's been spin cycle here and I've felt a spin or 2 behind. We made it through a regional conference, gave 2 presentations, got IEW into the hands of lots of homeschoolers, Viking Man and the notsolittles retrieved College Woman and everyone is still laughing, though complaints abound that I'm not feeding everyone nearly enough. We worked in the yard together most of yesterday weeding and replacing wind-burned plants. The veggie garden is looking good and some of the flower beds are looking kept. The lilacs are gorgeous this year and our 80 year old, 50 feet "fence" is fragrant and full- the notsolittles keep bringing me handfuls of bouquets and we all are soaking in smells and warmth of spring.

We watched "X-Men" yesterday between trying to re-claim the porch and trying to re-claim the yard and I have to say, I like it. It was fun and not too weird. I just can't seem to get away from WWII this year and of course, the opening science was of a concentration camp. The basis of the film is that some humans have evolved and are now mutants with special powers. The mutants are ostracized and villanized in much the same way that Jews were in WWII. Mutants and humans are struggling to co-exist because they are "afraid" of each other, afraid because of the "unknown." Throw in a bad guy who is doing genetic experimentation (think Mendel) and you have the movie in a nutshell.

The opening scene is set in a concentration camp and shows a Jewish boy being separated from his parents. It takes 4-5 guards and a blow to his head to stop his frantic attempts to be reunited with them, and while the blow to the head stops him, the iron gate is twisted and crumpled- all due to his telepathic and supernatural powers.

I found the premise of the movie interesting; the combination of fear of the unknown coupled with superhuman powers- telepathy, supernatural strength, the ability to glide through walls, etc. Isn't this the age old hope- that when things get really bad; really, really bad, that we'll have strength, strength that is invincible, beyond ourselves and comes from out of nowhere at just the right time to rescue us, right wrongs, bring injustice to it's knees and free the captive?

Of course, the parallels between so many of the Old and New Testament accounts of how the Maker of the Universe intervenes on behalf of His people are great. It might be fun to use this flick as part of a Christian apologetics course, how the current secular culture is looking for a Messiah and believing in magical thinking to bring about god-like qualities in the individual- the age old conflict between man and God- our humanity vs. His divinity, our independence vs. His sovereignty.

Honestly, I doubt it was meant to go that deep. Like I said, it's a fun summer flick. We're looking forward to watching the next couple of episodes (in between the Bourne movies- College Woman is such an influence!).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Personal is Political.

We've heard the argument for years that "Whatever one decides to do in the privacy of their own bedroom is up to them"; "as long as they don't hurt anybody else, it's none of my business"; "homosexuals just want the same rights as everybody else."
Apparently not. They want more rights than anybody else and if it takes stepping on First & Fifth Amendment Rights, that's just fine too. Chuck Colson says it better than I do:

Looks like there is an agenda way beyond just sex with the partner or partners of choice in the privacy of one's bedroom. And given the research that the gay community has done on itself regarding monogamy it's is clear that there is a conscience effort to redefine marriage on more than one level. As I've written before, homosexual partners remain faithful almost never. So the point of a "marriage" ceremony is what?

Sense and Sensibility makes way for Nonsense and Irresponsibility, or more appropriately, the death of meaning.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's in the Details.

Doesn't appear that Alec Garrard has ever read "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff." Lucky for history/archeology buffs.... He has spent the last 30 years—33,000 working hours—constructing a massive, handmade, scaled replica of Herod’s Temple.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Change. It's a' coming.

Muslims continue to have a world wide baby boom while those in Europe and America are either at, or almost at, the point of no-return. We heard about this way back in the 80's when Viking Man was attending Fuller Theological Seminary. Back then, the buzz was all about the diminishing European culture. The Muslim culture, however, is alive and thriving world-wide, taking up familiar residence in no-longer used churches, in large part due to its belief in large families, on average 8.1 children per. Take a look:

Talked with a friend last week who admitted that they'll have a small family because they're "selfish." While they are enjoying a lifestyle of wealth and "it's all about me" they are bankrupting the cultural legacy for the few children that they have.

And to add interest to the subject, here's a very interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell writing in the The New Yorker magazine on the developer of birth control and the difference between women in developed vs. undeveloped countries. Bearing children ensures not only the health of ones culture, but the health of ones body as well. Who knew? (o.k. some of us did but we didn't talk about it much because we kept getting looked at like we had 3 heads).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Business as Usual: Busy

School this week consisted of math, logic, Latin, SOTW, and lots and lots of Bible Memory. As I mentioned earlier this week the boys are signed up for the Bible Bee and between the 350 sections in 4 categories (category 3 & 4 have much longer sections than 1-2 verses) along with the 400 Bible facts, it's going to take a focused effort. Cub was begging for Christian Studies and thinks that is a much more palatable way of "getting it." The funny thing is is that he is a memory magnet. The 2 years of focused memory work that we've done, along with his age (grammar stage) and natural ability and he just absorbs it. I am so jealous.

Gardened. Love it. So far in the garden: tomatoes, parsley, basil, watermelon, zuchhini, honeydew, potatoes, onions, garlic, green beans, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, green peppers, jalapenos, pumpkins, sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, raspberries, blackberries, grapes and strawberries.
We still have more more squash, cukes, oregano and flowers to put in. The weather has been perfect for planting, raining at night, beautiful and sunny and temperate in the day.

KB's graduation announcements are printed, addressed and finally ready to go out. The cake is ordered. She is finishing up school assignments. The end is in sight!

Bible Study last night consisted of Gen 21- God sends Haggar and Ishmael out into the desert. It is always a surprise what is revealed and last night was no different. God took them to the end of their strength and ability and then provided the well of water that quenched their thirst, renewed their life and allowed the promise to be fulfilled. Application was rich, of course.

Read an article about Connie Culp this week- the 5th face transplant. Modern medicine and 12 surgeons reconstructed it with the generous and selfless gift of a grieving family. The story struck me as very profound. Life is never what we expect.

College Woman is done with her freshman year of college and is well under-way with her sophomore year credit wise. She completed beacoup credits, worked 20 hours a week, made the dean's list and discovered the joys of t.v. series addiction. She'll be home in a week or so and then off to Romania for a month. If you'd like to read more of her adventures or the work that she is going to support in Eastern Europe among gypsies, check out her blog:

It is a season of endings and beginnings around here. 2 students (almost) graduated and 3 to go. Next fall will be so very different with only 3 kids to school. KB is making plans, slowly, deliberately, and somewhat tentatively. Viking Man is almost done with his on-line teaching and literally buried in stuff to do these days. He had a student tell him that he's learned more about writing in this class (intro to psych.) than he had ever before. Wow. The littles working hard at cramming in every moment they can of outside play and soaking in sunshine. I know the summer will fly by but we are loving the longer days and beautiful weather.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Medes & Clanging Cymbols

The Classical School of the Medes is an amazing program that is geared toward "Rebuilding Iraq, one child at a time." It is worth checking out:

Part of their vision is as follows:

Regarding the past- instilling a sense of respect
Regarding the present - injecting a sense of responsibility
Regarding the future - inspiring a sense of destiny
Guiding students in the joy of lifetime learning, thinking, and self-expression
Guiding students to love and serve God, their family, and their nation

I thrill at these words.
I don't believe that the current American government school system will ever be able to achieve this, or wants to.
I don't believe that many homechoolers will ever be able to achieve this, as much as they may want to.
I do see pockets of places around the country that are achieving this, people partnering together in University Model and Classical Schools and making it happen, along with a few intentional, crazily industrious homeschoolers.
Stephen Covey so wisely stated that "everything is created twice" and it seems to me that we've lost the truth of that. The name it claim it movement is alive and well, both in government with their "no child left behind program" that pushes kids forward regardless of basic skills attainment, to the American church that claims "kids are our future" and yet it's business as usual: kids steeped for 12 years or more in a system that is antithetical to the faith, little to no real Biblical understanding or training, rampat materialism and individualistic fulfillment. Is it any wonder that the church doesn't look much different than the world? The lack of intentionality has ushered in mediocrity and unfulfilled hopes. Stating wants, desires and big vision is a great first step but ends up being a clanging cymbal when the vision isn't fleshed out, intentional, and walked out in faith. I don't know why it strikes me funny that a handful of folks in Iraq get that so clearly.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Act on what you hear! James 1:22

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Modern Day Heros

I have to confess that George Grant is one of my hero's. Viking Man is another. What they have in common is an uncommon ability to think, make connections, strategize, and to pull together history, language, theology politics and geography and weave it together in a way that you feel enriched, enlightened, edified. They are teachers extraordinaire. Viking Man and I were discussing the article from First Things that makes suicide look so slick and humane and how we are truly becoming a culture that is reverting back to the old Roman empire. Our little bevy of students know their history, to some extent anyway, and the likeness' are becoming all too clear.

Just had time to listen to the The Theology of Wonder in it's entirety Listen Now. If you like a kid somewhere, listen and catch a vision.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Take a Listen.

George Grant: Theology of Wonder: Integrating the Humanities

Listen to this recording from the 2008 ACCS annual conference. The idea of the integrated humanities is to study human achievement in context both in terms of its historical and societal sequence and in terms of its providential and cultural importance. You will find this talk from the ACCS homepage.

Spring Frenzy.

There is still time to sign up for the Bible Bee.
We've printed of the first couple of memory sections and it's going to be a challenge. Fun, but work. Feche-boy and Cub are both signed up and are already at it. I have a feeling I'll be learning lots as well!

Sunday we spent the day out in the garden. We have far more plants than beds so we've gotten creative. Snap peas are going in next to the rhubarb and we're putting melons by one of the cisterns on the north side of the house. We're also expanding 2 of our 3 long beds by about 4 feet. We're putting in 3 more berry bushes, all but 1 made it from last year and the strawberries are looking good. We are slowly weeding the flower beds. The front fence needs repainted and repaired so we'll be pulling off lots of vine and hopefully painting soon. I'd love it if Viking Man got to the arbor this year but he is deep into grading papers for the end of the semester so I'm not holding my breath. Our trusty mower is repaired and we are claiming the fields back from wormword and thistles. Much of the grasses, clover and hairy vetch that we sowed a couple of years ago is established and we've found to our delight that underneath the mess are lovely green and lush fields.

We have a regional homeschool conference coming up in 2 weeks and we're are responsible for 3 booths; IEW, Bethlehem Books and TeenPact. IEW has lots of new products this spring and I can't wait to get my hands on some of it! Bethlehem books, of course, has an amazing selection of historical fiction. We'll be focusing on Ancient and Modern Studies next year and we are making our reading list with their catalog in mind. TeenPact, goes without saying, is the best hands on government course you'll find. Sign-up.

We still have KB's grad announcements to get out, Bible Study tonight and lots of errands. I've had lots of creative ideas going lately but I'm drowning in details. College Woman will be home soon between college and Romania and that will add disruption and fun to the weeks ahead, and hopefully, lots of gardening help! KB and Feche-boy are churning out Latin, Logic and IEW in order to be done by the 23 and a spring goal is to sort and purge. The boys have done a great job this year of outgrowing most of their clothing as has Flower. The porch is still not summerfied; putting the plants back out, arranging the furniture and creating our summer living area- think enclosed porch on an old farmhouse-quaint and lovely and you've got it.

I found a great iced tea recipe and between it and the iced coffee KB makes we've had probably too much caffeine of late. Here's another copycat, yummy but VERY sweet:
McDonald's Vanilla Iced Coffee

6 1/2 cups very strong brewed coffee, cooled
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract - make your own, like we do = ) and it's even better!

Thoroughly mix ingredients and pour over ice cubes in a glass or refrigerate in a container until ready to use. Makes approximately 2 quarts.