Saturday, August 29, 2009


George Grant writes, "Every great library begins in the heart of someone with at least three heroic loves: a love for words, a love for truth, and a love for future generations. Libraries begin as a collection of beloved books, but those books generate a love for words, as well—without that, books are mere antiquarian or decorative curiosities."
Someone recently asked to come and look at our books. I laughed. Our books are here, there and everywhere. Scattered, carried, taped and read out loud. Loaned out, cherished, given, hoarded, quoted, memorized, referenced, given as gifts, loaned and lost and re-purchased, in the car, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the office, at work, in briefcases, in purses, in the car, on tapes and CD's and in our heads. We have rubbed shoulders and been influenced by some of the greatest minds in history such as C.S. Lewis and King David and Webster, cried over sorrows such as recounts of slavery told by Beecher -Stowe, laughed heartily and out loud at the escapades of large families such as recorded by the Gilbreaths, learned how to think beyond ourselves through reading Covey and Stoddard and Holy Scripture and so many more.

Reading was my first love, and one I share passionately with my husband and children. Sharing our love of the Lord and of the Word and of Words are our highest hopes as parents. We have what's called a living library, one that we engage with and grow from and cherish.

Miss. R spent yet another summer working with gypsies, a people group that is largely illiterate and I just cannot fathom the limitedness of that life. Yes, they need saved. Saved from poverty and injustice and sickness and damnation and a life limited by them selves, because through faith and the Word, our eyes are opened to so.much.more.
Leadership Guru Max Dupree writes in Leadership as an Art, "As a child, (I often watched adults study books and learned on e of my first lessons about reading. They wrote in their books. Intent and involved readers often write in the margins and between the lines. Good readers take possession of what they are learning by underlining and commenting and questioning. In this manner, they "finish" what they read."
I'm currently reading the above quoted book, along with the 2nd edition of Latin Centered Curriculum and one other I'm not sure I should admit too... the writing is outstanding but I'm not sure the content is worth it or not, yet. I'm not reading as much as I'd like becasue life is just full but the year promises to be full of read-alouds and good books shared with our little Tribe of 5, Viking Man and others and I eagerly look forward to the Words ahead.
May all of our libraries fill to overflowing in the year ahead!

Friday, August 28, 2009

WR: :Last week of Summer Vacation

In the Garden
We harvested more potatoes, tomatoes, basil, parsley, a few green beans, zucchini, grapes, Swiss chard, rhubarb, green peppers, onions, jalapenos. The tomatoes were hit with blight due to the rain, but we are still harvesting daily. The free ones from the hardware store we threw in the ground last month are beautiful and I'm hoping they mature before frost.
The flowers are lush and beautiful- cosmos (above), marigolds, zinneas, daiseys, phlox, flax, etc. etc.
In the Kitchen
We made/canned Tail-whoppin' Salsa, Grape Juice, Peaches. Froze tomatoes. Throw them in a freezer bag. Mid-winter, take them out, rinse (the skins fall right off), throw in the pot for summer fresh taste. Froze peaches. Froze mulberries.

In the Library
Read lots of curriculum. Am loving the Intro to Classical Studies by MP and have made a 32 week memory program based on that, Christian Studies, and more.
At the Academy
Had our last parent info night for the Daniel Academy. Yet more new people showed up. We have 12 eled students and 2 full time high school with 5 part time high school. We have teachers nailed down, worship leaders committing, parents excited, kids ready. Still working on some curriculum picks and memory work. We need to make nature journals, prayer journals and memory books but it's all coming together. We have an awesome group of families committed to the vision of raising up modern day Daniels. One of the history sentences from this year will be: "Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand apart." I love it.
In the Home
The usual, cleaning, cooking, vacuuming. Viking Man caught an ugly flu-cold thang and missed work for 1/2 the week. I came down with it right after he got up so we spent a lot of the week nursing hot mugs of Therma-flu. Living on the wild side...
At the Park
Meet up with Anne and Anne and Cyndi and Lori and most of their lovely kiddos. Talked about school and hubby's and canning and kids. I love these women. They are all beautiful and Godly and full of Grace.
On the Calendar
Turned older last Saturday and celebrate Queen KB's 19th tomorrow. She is mature and wise and kind and funny beyond belief and loves kids and flowers and animals and cooking and creating and abhors math. Digs science and is a photography buff. She is our blond haired beauty. One of the best things that ever happened to me. God miraculously spared her life 5 years ago, when her skull was sheared and her brain exposed. I am awed by His Grace and am so thankful that we are celebrating yet another year of her LIFE. The picture is of her and her friend "Bobby," which she created and FB'd about while canning grape juice. It is heavenly to have kids that cook and can and clean!!
What's Ahead
Tuesday is our first day of TDA. I actually, for the first time in 22 years of parenting, went to Stuff Mart and shopped for school supplies. Surreal and not cheap. It was an odd cart-full of glue sticks and cilantro and birthday accouterments; we are still canning after all and the herbs didn't do as well as normal. Summer's not officially over here till Viking Man celebrates his bday in a week. Hope you had a GREAT week!! To what's ahead....
For more Quick Takes hop on over to!

Monday, August 24, 2009

ELCA Votes

The ban on homosexual clergy was just lifted by the ELCA, the worlds 7th largest denomination. Shortly after Barbara Wheeler, one of the strongest advocates for homosexual clergy in the PCUSA comments:

If gays and lesbians can stick it out in mainline churches whose official teachings "were dismissive of their faithfulness and even their person hood," so can disappointed conservatives, she said. One of the mainline's strengths, she said, is to be a big tent.
"When you ask what religion has to contribute to the wider society, one hopes at least some religious groups will give examples of how to hold things together," she said.

This despite the fact that, by their own research, most homosexual relationship are NOT monogamous. That language will soon change, and it's understood by many that the term "monogamy" will soon be re-crafted, re-defining sexuality and marriage as it does so. The heart of marriage torn out. The crucible that it was intended to be emasculated.
Wheeler's comment about understanding religion as a "big tent" are disturbing. Religion made of sticks and stones. No thanks.
Give me the Master of the Universe, the One, True Living God who isn't concerned with "big tents" but with the heart of the man, or woman. "Big tent" talk is duplicity and Righteousness has no room for double speak

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, wife to 1 Dr. Viking Man who is a thinker extraordinaire, university prof, shrink, consultant & Bible geek. Home-educating Pax RoMomma to 5 kids- some of whom have mysteriously turned into adults. This is our 18th year of educational anarchy and if you need help with curriculum selection or developing your educational philosophy or starting a co-op, running a drama or day camp, teaching memorization, writing, reading, or high school, developing transcripts, or the history of American education, just ask.I have a Master's degree in Human Development and the humans that we are developing rock. I also have a Master's degree in Marriage & Family Therapy. The fact that I am not yet licensed as a therapist is giving my 94 year old grandma fits. I cook. I mean, really. I garden, veggies and flowers. I knit, scrapbook, read, read-aloud, raise my kids, love America, pray diligently and have high hopes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sisters, Sisters...

College Woman and Queen KB (me)
last week hanging together on
Thursday nigh

She was nick-named
"Princess Ouch"
on her first missions trip -
very fitting :)

I told her I would go with her
to her missions conference
Thursday night,
and look how she dressed me:
A gypsy!!

She dressed-up like a gypsy too,
but like her professor said,
"this isn't as wild as
I've seen you
This would be my family of sisters:
College Woman, biological
and sister in Christ.
Laughing Lioness, Alma Mater/ Pax Romama,
mentor and sister in Christ.
Flower, after-ten-years-answered-prayer,
best little sister, play-mate,
main subject of my photography, biological and
in Christ sister.
My guest blogger today is my dd, Miss Elizabeth, also know as KB, Wendy, Boudicca, Draculary and a myriad of others endearing monikers. Check out her blog at:

"Sisters, sisters, no one had such devoted sisters...
Many men have tried to split us up...
but no one can!"
~ "White Christmas," 'Sisters' song ~

For the first time in about ten years our entire family took a family vacation. Actually, it was more of a "family road trip." Seven people. One mini van. One of the seven taking back stuff to college. Did I mention we traveled in a mini van?
From South Dakota to Ohio... in one day... fifteen hours of driving, with seven people packed like sardines in a mini van. It was a long fifteen hours!
Mom drove my older sister to the college she's been attending, in Louisville KY, on Sunday evening. We were going to pick her up and take her back to Ohio on Thursday evening. However it ended up that I was dropped off in Louisville with my sister, to spend the day with her at school and drive back to Ohio with her Friday morning.

I had so much fun!

Now, if you knew my sister, College woman, and I, Queen KB, you would know that we are polar opposites in about every sense of the word: if she wears a skirt I am bound to be wearing jeans. If she's drinking tea in the morning, I'm probably drinking coffee. When she wants to talk on the phone (usually in the evening) really, all I want to be doing is snuggling deep under my quilt, on my own bed, with my own pillow. She has traveled overseas since she was about fourteen and I have been out of the country but on one occasion. These being just a few of our differences.
However, there are many things we are very similar in: we've been asked, or told, more than twice now that we look like twins. Our mannerisms and profiles are very similar (to some people exactly the same, apparently). We both love earrings, the more sparkly and dangly the better. Going through photography rehab would probably be a good thing for both of us as we believe in the phrase "hold onto and capture every moment" (true words of wisdom every human being should remember throughout life). And last, but certainly not least, we have both decided that the "fearless leader" Spock, is the man we both want to marry... "the christian version that is" ( : College Woman's blog)... I'm not sure how we can get both Spock and a the tall, light haird, light blue or green eyed, cute-accent, rock solid Christian, fearless leader type that we have both dreamed about since we were little... But anything is possible... Right?

In all our differences, and many more similarities, there are times when I honestly find it hard to express the sisterly love I have for College Woman. This is due to one of our many differences: our love languages differ greatly ("The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman). Her love language is touch and mine is gifts.. how much more different can you get?
So between the frustration I feel about my situation in life, my big sister (and best friend) leaving for college, again, not knowing what the future holds, and just general under-challenged-ness in life, I was quite frustrated, even angry, and stupidly took it out on my older sister while she was home... well, I suppose it wasn't too stupid, at least on my end: I know I can trust her and that she will love me no matter what kind of idiot I make of myself. However, I also know she knows how to set clear, healthy boundaries, and in this sense it was very stupid of me to take my anger about things that had almost nothing to do with her, out on her.
After a conversation I had with mom, Laughing Lioness, I went through the very humbling life experience of apologizing and then asking for forgiveness (this is not the first time and absolutely not the last I will experience this sort of humility).

Because College Woman reads this blog regularly I can't give too much info about what I have been putting together for her for the past few days, but let it suffice to say that together with the rest of the family, I'm putting together a package to send to College Woman soon.

We went to the fair yesterday with a couple of friends (Cyndi and her daughter Amber). Amber had gone on some rides with Feche-boy, and Cub was looking at the animals with Flower, so mom and Cyndi were talking. I had gone to get something for the package for College Woman, and come back, showing off what I had bought for my sister with total pride and absolutely no humility to mom and Cyndi.
After putting away my "great find" Cyndi told mom "how sweet" College woman and I were to each other. Mom beamed, responding with "they are very sweet and caring with each other..." and said something along the lines of "they are very gentle/ work together very well..."
Okay, I'm just gonna come out and say it: I almost laughed out loud!
It's hysterical how people think think things like this about me and my sister... they have no clue!! We might be "very sweet" with one another... but between being sweet and caring our heritage is very much pronounced in that we express Germanic/ Gaelic wrath to one another when life get frustrating and the "iron sharpens iron" factor begins to work again, which happens when we are both home since we live in very tight quarters and are both strong willed, hard-headed, somewhat defiant girls.

Despite all our differences, the grief we bring each other as we sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron, the different paths of life God leads us down, the diversity of our dreams, and our dissimilar callings in life I must say that the one person whom I consider to be my best friend and comrade in life, being within four years of my age, is my big sister and prayer warrior: College Woman!

God Richly bless you and your family!
Miss Elizabeth

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Family Ties

After a whirl-wind 10 days away, logging 50 hours and 3800 miles of drive time we are home. It was an awesome visitation (rather than vacation) -we saw family; sisters, brothers, moms and dads, cousins, aunts and uncles, as well as most of KY, TN a good portion of OH and several states between here and there. Ohio will always be "home" to me, and I wasn't the only one shedding a few tears at heading west on Monday. We dropped Miss. R at college after all of the 50th parties and both notsolittles lodged formal and very vocal complaints about leaving her so far behind.
My in-laws celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and it was a wonderful couple of days. Over 100 friends and family turned out for the main celebration; Viking Man gave a very beautiful tribute to them both, their marriage and their life's work, followed by a standing ovation and a great slide show by Nuncle Eil. It was a great week-end of celebration.
3 generations of brothers. Uncle Bruce, Feche Boy, G-pa Bob, Viking Man and Eil with Cub in the front. Men and men to be that I love and am so thankful for.
My beautiful older sister Susie-Q, on her birthday, with our gorgeous girlies.
KB and Miss R, at the college's missions banquet. Gypsies and Indians.

Dr's Dad and Corinne at their lovely home in TN. TN is a wide state and we traversed it almost in it's entirety on Tuesday. It was worth it to see Dad and Corinne and to get a sense of their home and life in the Appalachia's.
And, of course, I have no good picture of Aunt Laura, Misses Savannah and Danielle, who feed us, lodged us, played hard, laughed deeply, gifted us with food and toys and books and puzzles, and shared good times with us all week long!! Eil didn't succeed at making the week not too fun and both Cub and Flower begged to go back to Aunt Laura's to go play with the girlies, or to swim or canoe just "one more time." You 4 rock!!
Along with family, we met a lot of new friends, were treated to southern hospitality in more than one home, met Miss.R's professors and friends, got a tour of Boyce and feel better having seen Miss.R's home away from home.
Today is my Godly, gifted and gorgeous sons 15th birthday and we are going to the county fair to celebrate. He is a specific answer to prayer and I am constantly amazed at how God not only answers our prayers but often does so above and beyond what we can ask or imagine. Feche-Boy is living testimony to God's personal concern for the things that matter to me and is a daily blessing in so many ways. He rocks. We are blessed.
Writing this I feel so emotional about family, legacy, ties, history, people. My husband and I were both blessed with parents that stayed the course and stayed married, despite the storms of life. We have beautiful talented siblings, nieces and nephews that surprise us with who they are, children that are a JOY. We are so wealthy in so many ways. My heart is filled with gratitude for the life that we have, for the family that we belong to. Thank-you, Jesus.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer Spin

It's been a crazy week at the Gracious Heart Homestead- all the usual, plus Miss R packing and getting ready for college, the rest of us getting ready for the trip, the garden and then the big news- the go ahead for The Daniel Academy this fall- just weeks away. Lots of details to get sorted. The grass continues to grow, the cukes and zukes are almost out of control and the beans are not getting canned, they're getting frozen.
A couple times a year, for weeks at a time, I feel like we are on spin cycle. The list gets divided and everyone does their task, we work in chatting and even going to the park, sharing a cone or a cuppa, praying and sorting out feelings, crying over the death of someone else's child, or even a friend, laughing hysterically at Cubs crazy puns. Sometimes touching base with one another happens in the middle of the night, or in the very early morning, or with one of the adults holding a notsolittle or even one of the other adults. It's a little chaotic....sometimes it's a lot chaotic. In the midst of it all, I Thank God for the beautiful people I'm related to, the property and the freedom to do with it what we want, our country and the choices that we just have, the heartaches and tensions and the will to work it out. Knowing to pray and peace that surpasses all understanding. The goodness of it all. It's a wonderful life. Chaos and all.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I'm a Stephen Covey groupie from way back and I've loved the word
synergy for about as long- it means the whole is greater than the individual parts.

That's what's happening as we meet for The Daniel Academy. Lots of talented people, each with completely different gifts, skill sets and experience, all with the common goal of raising up our kids to become men and women to Rock.Thier.World. Yea, baby.
It's all about training our kids intellect so that they have choices. Not to be wealthy or to simply NO. But to be competitive at a
It's all about stewarding our kids hearts so that they That they walk it out. True North all the way. No short cuts, no slacking. COURAGE.
It's all about training their souls so that That excellence becomes part of the fabric of their beings and what they yearn and long and hunger for.
It's all about giving them a taste for excellent community and comrades so thattheworldyholdsnoappeal.
Do you hear?? It is a vision that is BIG and bursting with potential.
I'm jazzed. Truly.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Stuff.

We've been spending at least some time every day in the garden. This morning we harvested basil
6 zucchini and yellow squash
3 cukes
3 salad spinners of green beans
2 large cabbage heads
2 large handfuls of grape tomatoes
several potatoes
several beets the pooch dug up...
The problem with zukes: they are prolific!
This week I am experimenting with making zucchini chips. Last week I gave tons away and juiced the rest. Honestly, I just couldn't choke it down, though Viking Man downed 3 large cups full. He LOVES juice and the fact that he was out in the heat felling more dead ash could have contributed to his thirst. 2 more large ash down and the winter fuel pile continues to grow.
The roosters that we have thanks to Cyndi and co. are doing a great job of de-grubbing, though they seem to be harvesting the potatoes in their zeal for dinner.
We went hiking yesterday at a state park and had a blast. The notsolittles ran the whole time, but even Flower admitted today that her legs were a little sore. She has been bugging everyone about going fishing soon and has determined that she'll catch a "big one" even though she's decided Daddy will put the worms on the hook, take the fish off, clean it and I'll cook. I asked her if she was seriously just going to hold the pole and she very seriously answered me back. "Yes." That would be my child.
More kittens- 4 were birthed but 1 was DOA. The other 3 are adorable and all but 1 of the surviving 6 summer kittens have 2 pairs of socks- 2 cute!
Plans for our summer trip are getting finalized and include visiting people in 3 different states, including all the parents, siblings and others, attending the in-laws 50th and trying to keep everyone looking 1/2 way decent the whole time.