Thursday, September 30, 2010


Corn Palace
Monday we spent the day field tripping. First, the World's Only (can you believe it?) Corn Palace. Then a Prehistoric (1000 year old) Indian Village. Great museum displays and video explaining the site, trade routes, culture. They had an actual dig site on location. Way cool. Stopped by one of the many farm stands and picked up some gorgeous fall color.

Indian Village Museum

Academics for the week included, but was not limited to the following. Feche-boy: Chemistry: another chapter down. He is really enjoying Dr. H's sense of humor and ability to make simple difficult things. American Lit: Ben Franklin done and outline for the paper complete. Latin: still moving s.l.o.w. Hung up on genders - we have had lots of fun joking him about that, let me tell ya! Choir: loving Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat. Art: lesson on church history symbols and beautiful chalk drawings.

Cub: Science: Last week's dissection of an earthworm was followed up with a Flower Dissection and next week holds the promise of a Grasshopper dissection (Mrs. G ROCKS). Tutoring center is a blast- Drawing the World with Art, From Sea to Shining Sea and Writing Tales. I never thought I'd use anything but IEW, but this was what was offered at Tutoring Center and I am not disappointed. Choir, Art, gym at co-op- a total blast.

Flame of Wisdom Sculpture

Flower:  Workbook pages from ETC 7, Math, Geography. Lives for co-op where she loves the geography unit study, music, art and gym. Mrs. G gave her entire class an A+ for music and she told everyone for a week! She is in the largest class, chock-full of cute and bubbly little girls like her. She is in girlie heaven!  

For everybody- Math, Bible (the book of John),  SOTW 3, Poetry.
Phys Ed included lots of outside time. The weather has been gorgeous! Cub and Flower have spent hours and hours on their bikes. They've declared their riding alter egos to be Jonathan Whiplash and Jane Moped. Seriously.  I can't make this stuff up!

Jane Moped and Jonathan Whiplash!
The kids and I taped and painted 90% of the first floor and Viking Man cleared it of furniture. Friday and Saturday our friendly floor refinishing folks are coming out to buff and put the final coats of polyurethane on the main floor. We are heading south and (finally) going to the zoo along with catching up on the missed dinner with friends from Sem. We are making good on a couple of warranties already and are having an entire window replaced (which means we have to stain it again) along with over 10 feet of counter top. I have to say our vendors have been wonderful to work with! The building inspector was out last week along with a sales rep from the local hardware store. They'd all seen the house when we still had an 18" hole in it where the kitchen used to be. Every one oof them is astounded at the transformation of this old house. Makes me happy = ).

Miss R and a band of buddies from the South are coming for their fall break next week to help us work. We have lots and lots of sanding on the agenda. We are looking forward to the help and the fellowship!!

How was your week? Is the weather beautiful where you are at?  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blog Fun

I am thrilled to be on the Homeschool Village Panel for the next two months.  Drop by their blog and see what they are up to!
And don't forget to join the HSV tonight at 9PM EST for their first ever Twitter Chat! It promises to be a fun hour of homeschool Q and A with our panel as well as special guests!! Use the hashtag #askhsv.   I’ll be doing my best to keep up!

And a belated THANK-YOU to my sweet bloggerbuddy, Tina over at Life of the Gilbert Gang, who awarded me One Lovely Blog Award! The rules are to post three things that I think are lovely. Hard to limit myself but, always,

1. Babies. Any.
2. A beautiful garden.
3. Well crafted words- like Jane Austen's or C.S. Lewis.' Music to one's soul.

And then share 3-5 blogs that I think are lovely. Tina, bouncing it back to you, Sistah! I also really enjoy Sarah's writing over at Small World. And of course, it goes without saying that I love both Miss R's and KB's blogs! And I have really loved Deannas blog. While you are there, be sure to check out what her dd's blogs as well, they are all lovely women!

WW: Gorgeous Girlies!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Techno Terror

I've delved into yet another branch of technology- that of the tweet. I now twitter (see side-bar). Well, sort of. To be accurate, I've signed up for twitter. I'm not sure how much tweeting I'll be doing cause I still have to figure it all out.

I always have this pit of my stomach terror whenever I stumble into a new area of technology. Probably cause I'm the least likely candidate for techno-geek status. I was tentative 2 years ago when I started this blog and now I blogging. And I was hesistant when I opened a Facebook account. I don't love FB, but I seriously like Facebook. We've gotten in touch with old friends and kept in closer contact with others, shared pictures and had just one more venue to keep connected with our own family.
So, now I'm tweeting. I figured it was the next step in overcoming my techno-terror.

Fyi for the rest of you that do and are interested in homeschooling:  Join the Home School Village on Wed. 9pm est for a twitter chat #askhsv Ask our panel your homeschool questions, meet other homeschoolers & special guest Amy Welch Stults co-founder Heart of the Matter Online !

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crafted from Corn

The World's only Corn Palace was a marketing tool to put small town SD on the map. It worked, cause now it hosts 1/2 million visitors a year. Not bad for a city in a state that boasts just over 600,000 residents state-wide!

All of these murals are created from corn and grasses. The detail is amazing.

The outside of the Palace is re-done every.single.year. Inside are pictures showing the last 100 years of corn creativity.
The emphasise on "only" cracks me up =)!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sukkot: The Festival of Booths

Yesterday was Sukkot, The Festival of Booths. Israel celebrates Sukkot in remembrance of their 40 years of tent dwelling as they wandered in the desert and their victorious entrance to the promised land under Joshua. It was a good commemoration for our family this year. We've been "wandering" since last October when we were burned out of our house. Immediately following the fire we spent 5 days at the retreat center where Viking Man does Biblical Counseling; then a week in Ohio at Neil & Laura's for the funeral (Thanks you 2; what would we do without you?); then a month in a hotel while we looked for a short term lease and Viking Man dealt with pneumonia Round #2; 9 months at our leased house and finally back home for a month where we've been living amidst construction. Home but not homey.  Yet.
We've been wanderers. Waiting for the promise to manifest itself in tangible ways.
Which it is. Slowly.
Our great plains Succa. Don't ya love the deer antlers up top?
(Not regulation, but for Great Plains gentiles it's the thought that counts.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Holy of Holies

We have finished the Chronicles of Narnia. They are one of our families "comfort reads" and it has been good to turn to these beloved characters and stories though this season of upheaval and change. The final book in the series, The Last Battle, is one of my very favorite. In it, Narnia is imperiled by Shift, a banana grubbing monkey, and Puzzle, the witless donkey who hides behind self imposed stupidity; both case studies for the scripture that exhorts us to think neither better or worse of ourselves than we are. King Tirian and his faithful unicorn, Jewel, come upon the deception too late even with the help of Pole and Scrub and it is a battle to the bitter and sorrowful end. I find myself getting all choked up as I read. The kids totally understand; they are managing their own sadness at the inevitable destruction of one of our very favorite places, Narnia.  Last night at Bible Study we read Exodus 27; more details about the Tabernacle. On first site not a particularly inspiring chapter and I wondered at the beginning if any of us would be able to pull an application from it [this is a Beit Midrash study (what is the Word of the Lord saying to us today?) following the Navigator's approach (observe, interpret, apply)]. As always, the applications were varied and rich. God's Word is alive and full of details to train and teach us! One of the observations about this whole section of Scripture is the visual and physical way in which the deeper and more treasured places of God are nested within a framework that increasingly demands that we become more focused on righteousness (less defiled) as we approach God's holiness  (the Holy of Holies).
This year has been full of the bittersweet. Giving up what's familiar for what's next. Like entering into a relationship with the One True Living God. We leave behind the comforts of the world to follow the One who created both the world and all comfort. And then our life becomes one of devotion; finding peace and joy in the good we've been given but constantly being called to and drawn in closer and closer still. Like entering the temple. We begin in the outer court and believe, "This is good." But somehow we are drawn closer in and we feel a sense of loss over what we are leaving behind. Until we get to the next court- one even closer and more intimately connected to Him, and we believe, "Ah, now this is good!" And so it goes.
Perhaps that's why I love The Last Battle so much. It captures the bitter sweetness of foregoing the good, the resolve to get through the tough stuff,  the joy eperienced when those who have died with nothing are finally reunited and refreshed in Aslan's country. It captures the bittersweet journey of following through, at times to the bitter end, the path that is laid before us. The path, if we are following Truth, which brings us closer and closer to Him.
Along the way, Lewis paints beautiful pictures. The brotherly love of Jewel and Tirian and their gratitude at the life they've been allowed. The flippancy with which many call on gods of their own making and the terrible consequences that await those who worship anything or anyone who is not Truth (His name is Jesus). The resolve to walk the path set before one, regardless of the pain, misery, hardship or death that path might demand. So many character studies lie within!
And while this book is full of chivalry, honor, courage and the divine it also touches on greed (Shift), belittling our own talents (Puzzle), selfish futility (the Dwarfs), proud arrogance (The Calormanes), and evil (Tash). Lewis invites us into this world called Narnia, where the ultimate battle is really, as it always is, about Truth (His name is Love) or Deceit and when all seems hopeless and Narnia is lost, we are invited farther up and further in.

The pattern laid out in The Last Battle is a familiar one:
Sacrifice. Tirian is called on to sacrifice all he holds most dear, his loyal friends, beloved kingdom, his own life.
Destruction. Friends are cut down, subjects enslaved, even one's hope of all things good destroyed.
Renewal. The shed becomes a point of entry rather than a place of terror, a beginning, not an ending.  Sorrow dances, ashes turn to beauty, death is conquered. And yet so many stop here, outer courts and renewal all they desire. Wading in refreshment rather than plunging in.
Profound Blessing. For those willing to go beyond the entrance, dive into the deep, venture farther into the temple courts, choose a life of rash obedience rather than safety,  not held back by perceptions or self or shame or guilt. Longing for more than all of that. Longing for Him.

This week as we studied the Temple, and as we read Narnia, this song played through my head:

Take me past the outer courts, into the Holy Place,
Past the brazen alter Lord, I long to see your face.
Pass me by the crowds of people, the priest who sings your praise,
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness but it's only found in one place.

Take me into the Holy of Holies.
Take me in by the blood of your Lamb.
Take me into the Holy of Holies,
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am.
(Kutless: Take Me In by Dave Browning)

And in the end, well into Aslan's country, the Pevensies, Tirian and all of those seeking Truth willingly, longingly, relinquished their lives for the hope of living eternally with Him. In the inner courts. In the Holy of Holies. Righteousness found (His name is Jesus).

We say good-bye again beloved Narnia and hello to sweet and pure Aslan's country, the inner courts, a place of praise and profound blessing. God is inviting us ever closer, into His Holy of Holies. The cost is great, the battle fierce, yet glory awaits. Do you hear the wind words?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Trilogy: House, Food, School

Construction Central got worse this week as we moved the bins from the barn to the living room to the 2nd floor. We discovered more molded books as well as school supplies, which we added to the mess of the central living room, subbing as bedroom.  My need for visual order has been totally disregarded by this whole house fire thang.

Finally feeling a bit more on-top of school this week. Found ETC 7 and Flower is cruising through it, though still missing WWE and all of Lori's Shurley English. Could the FindItFast Fairy please come visit me? All the rest of the textbooks are finally ordered, except math. Cub is LOVING history, writing, science and geography at Tutoring Center. We added in CD's today and are enjoyed IEW's poetry CD over lunch. Feche is working diligently at Chem & Latin & Math & Lit. He has a couple of novels that he's still trying to get through, leftovers from summer,  and I catch him standing in the hall at odd moments trying to sneak in a few more paragraphs.
Rain. I love you. Truly. Just back off a while and let everybody enjoy autumn. It can't be a CRISP fall day when you've sogged everything to puddle point.

Reading The Last Battle. This is one of my very favorite books. Lewis captures the poignancy and beauty of love and goodness, the horrific futility of worshipping something, or someone, other than the Master of the Universe, and the the despair one feels when something good and just is lost. Cub didn't even want to read it (he's read it before) but finally acquiesced. I said to him the other night, "I feel like crying too, even though it's just a story." He adamantly asserted, "Narnia might just be a story, but the spiritual part of it is true!" Miss. R and I had a discussion about the "truth" of Narnia in August, regarding the salvation of Emith; is his salvation doctrinally justified or not. What do you think?

The building permit gals stopped by to see where we were at with construction. They took a few minutes to look at the "before" pictures (from right after the fire) and oohed and ahhed over the cupboards and floor and new built-ins. As did Neighbor Stan when he came by to fetch Feche boy to help him bale hay (which left him sore and tired but with a good dose of vitamin D and cash to keep him going for awhile- thanks, Stan!!). We hope to have the first floor 95% finished by the end of next week and then I'll post pictures. I.can't.wait. Visual order, I will sit and stare at you and soak in your simplicity. I might even write a song to you.

Viking Man hates the blog name I bequeathed to him. But the reason it's Viking Man is based on this prayer of his, "Dear God, thanks for the woman and the food!" (insert a couple of growls and grunts and other manly noises as he tears into dinner). At while he's not a shrinking violet, he's not a huge man either, and one day at church he pointed out a couple of men sitting next to us. They were both at least 6'4", solid as tree trunks. One had waist length blond hair, the other a short spiky do, sleeveless shirts, leather vests. Both sporting hog insignia and huge black steel toed boots. My husband looks at me, points to them and says, "Those are Viking Men." And, true enough, when he walked behind them to go to communion, he was dwarfed by their size. And then yesterday he said I had gotten the conversation we'd had over Jane all wrong and he wants me to change it. I am edited coming and going I tell you.

But, I digress. Back to the name. When asked what blog identity he wanted a chorus of voices ensued.
He says, "if you get to be "Laughing Lioness" I should be "King of the Pride." KB interjects, (with gusto), "The Molinator!!" At the same time Feche jumps in with "Mufasa!" KB jumps back in saying, "Dad, you have a last name!" (you know, from Galaxy Quest: Guy is anxiously worried he's gonna bite the bullet cause he's just an extra without a last name; it's one of our most beloved family jokes and applicable to ohsomany situations). And it just went downhill from there. Mufasa was ruled out cause he dies. Nobody dies 'round here 'lessen' I kill em' so that's out. King of the Pride; a bit long. Mollinator? Um, no. Guy? He eventually gets a regular part and a last name. What do you think?

Harvested a bowl full of roma tomatoes. Aren't they are beautiful?
Hoity Tioty Delish Fish Dish from my days of waitressing at Saybrook Fish House  in Connecticut (sweet memories of bowlfuls of mussels and fresh scallops, yeah!). Take a firm white fish fillet (like Cod), spread a thin layer of mayo, a thin layer of mustard (stone ground is best but any will do) over top. Add thin slices of purple onions and Roma's. Bake till done. Serve with salad and crisp bread. Ohlala.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

America's Declining Birth Rate

America's One Child Policy is a long but interesting article on fertility rates, how fast they are dropping and what desperate governments are trying to do to get them where they need to be. Despite monetary, tax and housing incentives the bottom line is that folks the world over are not pro-creating at a rate that will support their families, culture or government. There is one exception to this: committed people are faith:

"But on this question there are two (Americas) today: a secular population that wants small families (or no family at all) and a religious population that wants
larger families. Religious affiliation is part of the story, but the real difference comes with church attendance. Among people who seldom or never go to church, 66 percent say that zero, one, or two children is the ideal family size, and only 25 percent view three-or-more children as ideal. Among those who go to church monthly, the three-or-more number edges up to 29 percent. But among those who attend church every week, 41 percent say three or more children is ideal, while only 47 percent think that a smaller family is preferable. When you meet couples with more than three children today, chances are they're making a cultural and theological statement.
I agree with this statement. As a mom of more than the national average I have to say that having kids is an act of faith. Faith in God to provide for the big and little things our kids will need (which He has from clothes to college tuition's), to providing us with the strength and patience and perseverance we need. It's faith in something bigger than we can see and trusting that God will nourish and sustain our kids despite the inevitable calamities that will occur in this world. It's faith in the value of legacy. It's faith in joining with God in the creative process by bringing about something completely new with the birth of each child. It's faith that GOOD and TRUTH will overcome evil and darkness and despair.

People with a committed faith system get that.
(And don't you just love the poster above. The moms of many that I know ARE more. Another lie that flies in the face of scripture).

WW:Use Caution When Passing

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Taxonomy of a Toy

Kingdom: A Child's Plaything

Phylum: Plastic

Class: Building

Order: Lego

Family: Bionicle

Genus: Warrior

Species: Toa Ignica
(This from Cub's Science for the week)

Monday, September 20, 2010

See Jane Rock

I love Jane Austin. She is witty and clever and has an incredible way with words. And while my husband and Iwere under the weather this week-end we ate lots of soup, drank copious amounts of tea and soothed our bleary brains with Jane.

Sense and Sensibility- Emma is the epitome of English sublimity.
Mansfield Park- a new flick in our repertoire- we like it!
Persuasion- while I didn't originally like the main character in this one, she's grown on me
Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth goes without saying as one of the best of the best but please don't get me started on the re-make with Kiera Knightly! ugh.
Still on the look-out for Emma and Northanger Abby.

I love her books. In fact, once we've finished The Last Battle, I think we're going to read one of Jane's tomes out-loud. And this year I've discovered Beth Patillo who has a delightful couple of fictionalized of Jane.
We also enjoyed Becoming Jane- very fun. I love Jane, I really do and it's been a decades long engagement so it's no fly-by-night fancy.

But, all that being said, I have to confess that I just don't buy some of Jane's dialog. C'mon. What man have you ever met says to a female of any persuasion,

"My dearest, forgive me, I was wrong."

Not that I doubt an apology coming from a man, but you just can't convince me that it would be preceded by, "My dearest."

Or, "I've tried so hard to forget you. But I could not wrest you from my heart."


I turned to my husband, a man who has spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours counseling couples, mentoring men, offering wisdom and advice to those trying to tape their marriages back together and asked, "have you EVER run in to a man who has "Tried so hard to forget anybody?"

And he says, "No."

I love Jane, I really do, but I just don't think she gets men. My husband thinks perhaps the sentiments and dialog are accurate to the time. And certainly her characters are lovable and true and the best idealistic portrayal of men one could find, but are they accurate portrayals of the courser sex?

what do you think?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Soup's On

We've had an unseasonally rainy summer and we've heard it's going to be a snowy and cold winter. Hopefully this week-end does not herald the beginning of it. It was rainy and cold. Perfect weather for bread and soup. French bread with a twist; baked with fresh Parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes and fresh basil.

Creamy potato soup, brownies for desert and lots and lots of rooibus tea. Chef KB to the rescue as I am still fighting this cough till you drop cold.

Now bring on an extended Indian summer!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Humor & Sci-Fi

I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thougths on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron. This from the gal who gave us You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle and Julie and Julia. It's what one would expect from Nora, whom I hope doesn't mind that I call her by her first name . But I figure since she's bared intimate thoughts in this book like neck shame, "maintenance" and aging I know her pretty well. And she's funny. She takes the familiar, mundane, and boring and laughs at them. You'll laugh too. She has a very poignant chapter on death, which reveals life's common denominator. Even though I have little in common other than an aging neck, we've both been touched profoundly by the lives of those we've loved and the pain of loss as some of those loved ones have died. A fun and delightful read.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. O.k., I've admitted my summer brainmush fest with SG Atlantis and this book is definilty an influencer in the series. As far as Sci-Fi goes it was intriguing. Ender's training kinda, vaguely, goes along with my sidebar post about creating genius. I liked Ender. I liked the characters, I liked the conflict, though I hated the name Buggers.

What I found really intriguing (but that's probably just cause I've got a hammer so I see nails everywhere) was the focus and intensity of education, brainwashing if you will, that Ender and his commrades undergo. There is a point in the story where Ender simply accepts the inevitable, that he is the hope of the future, and so he must perform that for which he is called and prepared. Of course I believe that Jesus is the one and only Hope, but I do think there are some lessons here for us as students and as educators.
I found the denouement hard to believe. I mean, I believed it to a point, and then just didn't. I'm not big into SF but it was a fun read and according to TWTM dystopian junkies, a must read. I liked The Hunger Games better.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

WR: Crafts, Books, Math & More

I decided that we needed to do more craft things during school for Flower's sake. She saw a "Fairy Garden" at the gardening center weeks ago and was totally enamored with it. Here's the one she created with KB...

Complete with Fairies and Dragonfly (can you spot it?)

WOW! Cub and Flower after watching a worm dissection for science. Before watching it Cub says, "You trying to make me loose my lunch?" After watching it Cub says, "There's one of a frog! Can we watch that one too?!"Flower imitating what the poor dead frog looked like.

Hitting the books. We are taking lots of classes at co-op (Music, Art, gym, personal finance, unit study, Shakespeare, logic) and Tutoring Center (writing, science, chem, oral interp, Amer. History, poetry). At home, math, Latin, history, poetry, memory work.

Latin on-line through CLAA.
Hours spent at the library, reading books, using the computer, taking classes through the Tutoring Center, checking out videos... Our city has many beautiful sculptures. This one from our friendly, local library.
Watched Slumdog Millionaire. Wow. Powerful, poignant, heartbreaking. Awesome music.
Complimentary tickets to the dress-rehearsal performance of The Odd Couple where my very good and talented friend, Michelle, played the part of excessively pretty Cecily. She carried the show!
Bouyed by the love and prayers and faith of friends who have offered encouraging words and love this week. You know who you are. I am grateful for and love each and every one of you!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

WW: 1 More 4 Summer

I love this picture. It captures Flower and Cub doing what they "do." Flower dancing and performing and Cub enacting either pre-history or Sci-fi (make sure you include sound-effects- Flower singing at the top of her lungs and Cub blowing up or growling at the top of his). And dontcha' love the leopard print bikini against the mountains?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Starting Again

Tentative. And vulnerable. I feel like I did after I had surgery on my arms. Carved up and weak. Angry, tearful, hurt. And honestly mad. Though it makes me uneasy to even type that and I've erased it twice.

Objectively it doesn't make sense to me. I know that the stuff that needs to get done will. That we'll somehow muddle our way through the fall, that things will get sorted. That in so many ways it is already better than before. But right now I am struggling. If I allow my feelings to come to the fore, I am raw. Raw like after surgery. Bandaged and bruised to the point that I am beyond black and blue and just simply black.

I don't' trust myself to answer the simple question of, "How are you." I don't feel fine and I don't really want to be a vulnerable, weepy mess in public. I don't even like being one in private.

But compassion is almost worse. That is when I am liable to really loose it and so I've said, more than once, "Don't be nice to me." Rude, I know. But, like I said, I just don't trust my response.

It's been another near tragedy in our lives and the fall-out from that is confusing. I should be joyful and grateful and happy and whatever else. When reality is I'm feeling burned. Burned out. Wary and distant and wondering what everyone else's agenda is.

So, today we started; school that is. And I didn't really want to. But it was a good day, a peaceful day. One that reminded me of purpose in the simple things; getting laundry done, reminding a child how to borrow and carry, correcting a reading mistake, listening and hearing the kids talk and laugh and bicker and have worries and frustrations. Being there. Starting again. Even when it seems like what we're starting with is a fraction of what was.

And then this via email: Fr. Francis Fernandez writes [In Conversation with God, Vol. Four], 'The love of God does not consist in having begun--not even with a lot of effort--but in persevering, in beginning again and again. Thanks be to God, that He is with us every moment, every day, pouring out His grace and love in measure far greater than we can grasp. What more do we need?'

And so today we began again. Trusting in God to heal the bruised and weary places.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Resting in the Familiar

We started. School that is. Farther into the year than normal for us but it's not been a normal year.
I decided earlier that I was going to get back to basics since it seems like everything old is new again on so many different levels of our lives.

We joined a co-op that we'd been part of years ago, before the many that we generated. Friday was the first day and it was wonderful. I was assigned study hall but had no students and chatted with other moms all morning, many of whom I've known for several years now. It was great to catch us with folks, met new ones and marvel at how much all of our kids have grown.

And this morning. We gathered in the dining room and read the Bible outloud. We started with John. The kids have John 1-7 memorized in both Latin and English and recited it together. We marveled at the connectedness of community amongst the disciples- the familial and village relationships of those called. I've often wondered at what mighty Rabbi taught them, or what grandmother or grandfather instilled holy devotion in so many.

Then math and geography and lunch. And reading and preparing for academic classes which start tomorrow.

It felt almost normal. Almost. My bed is still in the living room and there is butcher paper on the floor. Yards of trim are still waiting to be permanently attached. We are still sorting things like how to manage the trash and food storage and books that we'll be using. But the familiar that we knew- sitting together in a sunny room, the notsolittles drawing and everyone discussing and acting out a scene and making connections. Math as still math and illicited expected responses. Putting away novels in favor of Latin or grammar will never come highly recommended by my kids, but the routine of school and it's demands produced peace today.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed

Another book on Globalization, the catchword of the year: Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed by Gregg Easterbrook. Easterbrook highlights 11 cities to illustrate points about the coming era, each one an example of globalization. Very interesting reading, highlighting some incredible feats of creativity and regeneration. Easterbrook concludes the following:

This is not the first moment of upheaval and will not be the last. "people have always extolled the past and feared the future. in nearly every case, the future has turned out be better place to be."

Your boss will be you. " This will bring a sense of freedom, but also new forms of anxiety. you'll never really be away from work. If things go poorly, you will have no one but yourself to blame."

Home and work will merge. "In the 21rst century, an ever increasing amount of work will return to the home, and to larger, more comfortable homes than those of the past. Commuter time decreases while the sense of "never be off" does as well.

Falling Backward will become a greater risk. "As the global economy becomes more volatile, the future may hold as much fear of falling down the economic ladder as promise of climbing up."

Most things will get better for most people- but unless you live in a poor nation, don't expect that to make you any happier. And this really is the thesis for the entire book - that the world is getting "better" from a standard of living, resource availability, democratic freedom, respect for women, cities are miasmas- places of creativity and invention pov. But the dynamism that is inherent to that will cause an increasing sense of anxiety and unsettledness.

Health Care must become assured - like Zakaria, Easterbrook states that the penalties built in to our current health care system stymy the coming boom. Self employment and pre-existing conditions are penalized by health care privatization.
Every life must include some college- "Universal higher education will be as important to the world's fortunes in the 21rst century as public education was to the West's in the 20th century.

Lastly, Easterbrook claims that your town is now a "market." Building on Florida's work, your place of residence is no longer defined by the limits of it's parameters but considered by region. Within your market, understand that "education will matter more than ever before, international trade and communication will continue to expand. Social insecurity in the form of job turmoil, the economic roller-coaster, financial bedlam, media superficiality, celebrity inanity, political blather, targeted advertsising, scream and shout discourse,e the paving over of nature- it's all gonna get worse. A lot worse, in some cases." And at the same time prosperity will increase, democracy will flourish, information and knowledge will proliferate as never before.
"The terrific aspects and the anxiety producing aspects will be intertwined, and we're just going to have to live with it."

Along with Florida and Zakaria, and oddly enough, Gregory (The Last Christian), this book foretells the world that is coming at mach speed. It's not all bad news but the complexities that we'll be dealing will challenge us in new ways. For instance, neural implants: as someone whose reading glasses are never farther away than the top of her head, I might be all for that. A simple surgery designed to enhance one's ability to see; Yes! How many physical disabilities could be "fixed" by coming technology. But otoh, where does it in? Transhumanity? And what if an EMP were detonated. What would be the effects of that on a computer chip implanted in the brain?
And what does all of this mean for people of faith? I think it heralds a huge opportunity to let people know about a way of living that proposes anxiety free living, (Phil. 4:6) and community. There is a vast opportunity here, but one that will demand that the church, and the individuals claiming it, be authentic and live with integrity.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Losing the Familiar

Yesterday was rainy and chilly, a perfect day to herald fall. Traditionally, it's the kind of weather that speaks to my inner homemaker and I'll inevitably make an Autumn Bundt Cake. It's a once or twice a year endeavor that heralds seasonal change. But I realized that my recipe box is gone, as is the bundt pan. And last night as I was lying in bed I almost cried about it.
We are home again but it's the familiar that is missing and that's really what I've felt sad and lost about this past month. I'm a hobbit, really, and the familiar is what has come with me through the 12 moves that have taken us to the unfamiliar and starkly challenging during the course of our marriage and adult lives. The bundt pan, the recipe box, the photo albums, the bookshelves arranged by historical time period and topic. The garden that reminded me daily that from tiny acorns mighty oaks emerge but which has laid unproductive and weed-invested all season. The familiar and routine is what's gone missing.

And the things I miss the most are silly in a way. The Bosch mixer and blender that I'd finally splurged on and used daily. Not only was it an awesome kitchen appliance, but it was a limited edition fire engine red. The irony, eh? Everyone that cooks should own such a helper.

And the wheat grinder. True Confessions: I hate white flour. I didn't love grinding our own wheat but I loved the results of fresh ground whole wheat flour in pancakes and waffles and bread and rolls and muffins. In addition we have a farming friend who gives us buckets of lovely hard white winter wheat and this year I have nothing to grind it with.

And the recipe box. Full of recipes from friends and family like Aunt Barbara and Jeanette that not only instructed us in how to make a terrific chocolate zucchini cake and southwest corn casserole but held memories of holidays spent in Texas with cousins and fourth of July cook-outs with the best of friends. Funny how a familiar card, with a friend's handwriting, can evoke times and places past and warm the day.

We are coming soon to the Feast of Succoth, where we leave our houses to make temporary structures (succoth=booths) and we move into these fragile tent-like temporary structures. We are called to come outside, outdoors, to live and put our trust in YHWH who has created the perfection of the natural world around us to delight in, to cleanse us from the world of Babylon and to draw us ever closer to a world where Mashiyach lives and tabernacles (dwells) with his people.

And perhaps therein lies the lesson. That the familiar, while comforting, can also ensnare, allow stagnation and complacency. That the Word and world of the Living God is calling us to a big old outdoor party where we feast and laugh and play for a time of completion. But we can't get there until we leave behind all that we count on, rely on, are familiar with, to adventure anew by His leading. I am placing my trust in Him, my hope in what's next. And I'm trusting that He knows my tears are not a lack of faith, but my own frailty.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Free Speech for Thee but not for Me

All the President's Men want him to be exempt from public scrutiny...again. You can read about it here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

WW: Happy Birthday!!

This picture sums up my dh.
He was born in the west and his heart is in the west. His big goal is to move ever westward. Wish he'd told little ol' deciduous tree loving me that before we signed the contract (though it really wouldn't have made any difference. He's converted me on this, along with many other important things, like that Puns are tropes and truly funny- oh, how far I've fallen!).
He is athletic. Give him a mountain to climb, a tree to fell, a canyon to boulder, a jog to run, a horse to gallop and he is a happy, happy, happy man.
He is a geek (notice the scholarly roundish glasses). He is not a psychologist because he loves clinical practice per se, he is a psychologist because he is a scholarly scientist type who loves stats and research and scientific inquiry and other geeky things, like astronomy and grammar and archeology and anthropology who also happens to really be invested in people.
He is fun- and funny. (see the smile =).
He loves his family (that's why he's smiling- we'd just spent a whole week together).
He has always looked younger than me. In our wedding photos he looks about 15. Cub asked the other day why I had little wrinkles around my lips. I replied, "that's age, honey." He so innocently responds, "Daddy doesn't have those." Well, whoop-do-do. Daddy has a great gene pool and mines a bit more shallow.
He has no fashion sense unless he is wearing jeans and a hat. And if you add a flannel shirt you've got a winning combo imho.
He is faithful and dependable and strong and true. Very strong. Making up for my shallow gene pool over and over again. But hey, upper body strength is one of the very reasons I got married!

Happy Birthday, Honey
(or are you a Hon?)

WHY I Do What I Do

From George Grant: "According to author and business consultant Simon Sinek great organizations do what they do well. They are also very clear about how they do what they do. But perhaps more important than that, they know precisely why they do what they do. Indeed, that’s precisely what it is that makes them great, he says. “Only a handful of customers will be inspired by what you do or how you do it. But why you do it is a whole other story. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Something I've been really mulling over the past many months- WHY do we home school. As I've shared earlier , I've been feeling burned out on a number of levels and my desire to start school this fall is minimal. And I've fallen into the trap of comparing. As much as I love the social networking of FB the big drawback is the one-dimensional aspect of peeking into each other's lives. So many of my friends from college and grad school are in such a different place than I am. They are most often working, making excellent money, their younger kids are in middle or high school, they have a modicum of independence from both a time and money pov. And, honestly, some days I've deeply resented the direction this year has taken. I've resented the stress we've gone through, the hard work we've had to push ourselves to do, the stuff we no longer have and don't have money to repurchase, the exhaustion of trying to make the right choices and decisions when the reality is we don't really have a clue what the right answer is.

The siren song of a professional life has sounded lovely to my singed ears these past many months. It has sung a song called "Escape."

But, oddly enough, 2 things happened this week-end that have smoothed my ruffled feathers. For one, KB is preparing for a beauty pageant. This after lots of deliberation and prayer and angst. And I've been helping her almost daily. It's been so much fun. We do mock interviews and talk about what a poised and gracious answer would be, how to answer truthfully but in a way that is politic, what areas she needs to bone up on, how surprised I am that she has such thoughtful and mature answers to what I perceive as difficult and sticky questions.

And secondly, the co-op that we joined doesn't start until next week. I thought it started today and I don't have books ordered and I don't even have notebooks and everything is all out of order. But, I have a week still. And so we spent the day doing some simple school work, like math drills and narration and reading. The kids were more settled with some structure, but like me, relieved that we still have a week of summer break.

And in those 2 things I've rediscovered, once again, my WHY. I love spending time with my kids, getting to know them, coaching them, mentoring them, being surprised by what they know and who they are. And I've realized that we just needed a bit more time to readjust in a year that have screamed "ADJUST ALREADY." That even when co-op starts, we can determine our needs and plan accordingly. That's part of the beauty of homeschooling. Schedule and curriculum become tools to use rather than masters to bow to.

I guess it's an on-going question, the why. I know it is as we parent. It's a yearly adjustment because the family changes and matures and gets older and has new input and experiences. I'm all about that. Being a "change agent" is something I've embraced personally and professionally. And, as I've said before, I am a findcoolthings4mykids2do fool. It's partly my own fault that we have new and fresh input on a regular basis. I'm the one creating the reading lists, ordering the flicks, encouraging the kids to do this or go there. (And as an aside, I'm usually the one driving everyone to the airport, the one waving good-by and the one sniffling a bit as well).'

I just can't face another year of getting by cause that sure summed up the majority of last year.

I want, need, to live proactively, all the way down to our little home school on the prairie:

We home school because we are reaching for.....

Not: We home school because we are shrinking away from...

Catching up with friends via FB has fooled me into thinking that perhaps my why has been too shallow, too grandiose, too simplistic. Other families are getting by just fine in public school. And for many, that is a great option. It's just can't answer some big questions for me. And it doesn't allow me to get any closer to what I'm reaching for.

What are your reaching for this year?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Starvation Homestead

We spent last Saturday at the Badlands. It is beautiful, stark and severe. One of the marquees explained the history of homesteading in the area: quarter sections were in such demand that you could see shanties dotting the entire area from the bluffs above. The arid scrubland is hardly suitable for farming, however and these poor places of dwelling became known as "Starvation Homesteads." Peering at the pictures of homesteaders who had left everything behind, gone forward with their hopes and dreams to a place with little promise of delivery tapped in to my own sense of frustration with organizations, schools, jobs, churches and governments who have done the same thing. All of them promising something to those who have will and strength and hopes in order to serve unstated purposes, be that getting land settled, mortgages paid, accreditation's acquired, pews filled, legislation passed.

I think, more and more, that this life is really a Starvation Homestead. As much as we try to dress it up and make it beautiful, this world, this life, will never deliver. Trails and tribulations test us and we either grow more beautiful in their midst or become pinched and shriveled, spewing poison.

The reading I've done this week: Pagan Christianity, Mockingjoy and The Silver Chair all address the Starvation Homestead from different pov's. Pagan Christianity points out the false promises of the modern day church (despite my disagreements with author's scholarship and understanding history and the scriptures); with promises of victory when, by it's very manifestation, it induces passivity. I personally know so many people who have left the church (though not the faith) and aren't looking back. This due to people not doing hard things- being in relationship, asking forgiveness, being politically active financially conservative or just simply caring. The church is in a crisis because, while I don't think Viola and Barna have all of the questions, or answers, right, they are tapping in to the dissatisfaction of so many of us and are at least probing the issue. I for one, want to live in the wake of the Jesus who creates worlds out of nothing, breathes life into death, and brings of Kingdom that will never end. Church sounds the battle cry, perhaps, but then people go about their middle class lives, and it's business as usual.

Mockingjay's theme is government gone so awry that it will sacrifice its future. Child sacrifices at the alter of grim "stability." And yet, many of us in this country are concerned with government over reaches and wonder where it will all end. Disregard for protocol and respect for everyone (with the exception of PC elected special ones) doesn't really quell my own, and many other's, sense of foreboding, especially given the "rights" of those who would silence the voices of our countries legacy (our unborn) and our wisdom (the elderly).

The Silver Chair is the most comforting of them all. There is a scene in the last chapter that describes well how I believe it will be when we encounter the King of Kings,
"There was something in his face and air which no one could mistake. That look is in the face of all true kings of Narnia, who rule by the will of Aslan and sit at Cair Paravel on the throne of Peter the High King. Instantly every head was bared and every knee was bent: a moment later, such cheering and shouting , such jumps and reels of joy, such hand-shaking s and kissing and embracing of everybody by everybody else broke out that tears came into Jill's' eyes. Their quest had been worth all the pains it cost."
Home, with it's comfort and warmth and love. No more Starvation Homesteading. Just pure joy and the comfort of being with the High King, who sets all things right.

My burning question for the year has been this: how do we live in a way that distinguishes us from those who are not following Christ? How do we live lives of spiritual plenty, despite the Starvation Homestead we may be on?

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dystopian Bliss: Mockingjay

Suzanne Collins finale to the Hunger Games trilogy does not disappoint. Character development is rich, despite the fast pace and non-stop action. The plot continues to unfold in ways that are believable. The theme: there were many. I had read a review earlier today that stated Mockingjay was not a love story but I disagree, this was a love story; about the love it takes to carry on in the face of desperate circumstances, to get over yourself, to live sacrificially. And it's about the preciousness of life despite how bleak one's surroundings, the cost required of those who kill, regardless of whether the reasons are "good enough," and the cost required of those who intentionally kill innocents. Pitted against one another by a reality show gone extreme, odd, but believable alliances are formed. The ending was good. The bad guys get what they deserve. There is no simple solutions but love, and life win out. The book ends by affording Katniss, Peeta and Gale with a modicum of privacy, and for that I'm glad. Overdeveloping the end would have diminished the forcefulness of the series.

I'm relieved that Collins took the time to delve into the personal responsibility and sacrifice of the main characters, even to the point of psychological break-downs. It made them real, believable, someone whom we could relate to. And there is a brief, and satisfying nod to the adage that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it by putting a right and just end to the madness..

Like any good dystopian writing, there is a dire warning embedded in the Hunger Games, "Panem et Circenses translates into "Bread and Circuses." "In return for full bellies and entertainment, the people of Panem have given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power. I think about the Capital. The excess of food. And the ultimate entertainment. The Hunger Games."
And no, I didn't somehow pop to the top of the many months long wait list at the library. Sam's had it for sale in HB for a ridiculously low price. I've been known to go by the adage, "If you have 2 loaves of bread, sell one and buy a lily." I usually try to get a book out of it too!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pagan Xianity

Read Pagan Christianity this week by Viola and Barna. They tread on sacred ground. So much so that the publishers, Tyndale, include a disclaimer at the outset.

The authors go through a list of evangelical "givens"; the church building, order of worship, the sermon, the pastor, Sunday morning costumes, music ministers, tithing and church salaries, Baptism and the Lord's Supper and Christian education and show the roots of each to be, not in the New Testament, but in the pagan world and culture that it shared.
In contrast the authors discuss the vibrancy and new life experienced by the New Testament church. The authors hope to stir their readers to better grasp the revolutionary nature of Jesus Christ as well as "exposing what is wrong with the contemporary church so that Christ's body can fulfill God's ultimate intention." The authors point out that passive religion is more the norm in today's church rather than vibrant earth changing revolution. This, they believe, hearkens back to the pagan practices hanging over the churches head because these practices encourage passivity and irresponsibility.
The afterward is a prescription for change and a road map for getting back to the Biblical roots of church. A thought provoking read and one that, as I've said before, puts words to my own disquiet.

My husband attended a world renowned seminary for his Masters and Doctoral degrees and so we were surrounded by seminarians for over half a decade, many of whom were getting their M.Div's and professional church licenses. One evening a friend and I were talking and she shared some difficult circumstances in her life with me. I asked her if she wanted to pray together. She looked at me in disbelief and then said something to the effect that she couldn't believe I would offer to pray with her given the fact that I was not in the school of ministry (like she was) and that I was "just a Christian." That has always stuck with me, cause, heck, I thought that those of us walking in the wake of the Shepherd were all "just Christians."

But I've encountered that attitude so much in the last 2 1/2 decades. People shocked that I offer to pray and mean "right now," "out-loud," "with faith." "and fervor." Cause I'm not part of the professional clergy. I'm "just a Christian." pshaw. Wasn't Paul. And Silas. And Peter and John, and Mary and the woman at the well? And you and I?

Maybe it's cause the church is so bloodied and beat on and discouraged about the depravity of man and the confusion caused by living out faith. Could be. I've felt it myself lately. Battered and bruised and raw and just sick of working out my faith and life with fear and trembling. Part of me wants to hide in a hole, cover over the entrance and hang out a sign that says, "leave off." But then I read something like this and I want to plead, like the little girl at the end of "Iron Will," when Will has fallen and is bloodied and bruised and wrecked, "GET UP," passionately imploring the church," C'mon now, GET UP." And really, I think that's the heart cry of Viola and Barna. They see the church of today as a sleeping giant. We've forgotten the power and passion and intimate, life-changing love affair with Jesus Christ that we had at first. We've become the church in Revelation who has forgotten our first love. And Viola and Barna are passionately imploring their brethren to get up, wake up and LIVE!
I welcome this book and the message contained therein and hope that many others who have had a life changing encounter with the One True Living God will read it, take it to heart and prayerfully consider how to live it out.
For more on this discussion and what's next, check out: Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna

WR Quick Takes Style

*1* We had a blast on vacation- swimming, hiking, eating, sleeping, sight-seeing. The Black Hills are one of the countries best kept secrets and truthfully we would rather be there than here. Not to mention the fact that it was fun to be 7 again. Seems like one week just washed the top layer of stress off from a year that has been steeped in it! Miss R said before she left that she wished we were closer (as do we!). She is off again to her world of apartment living, room-mates, work and school; this semester includes 2 jobs, 5 classes and 2 choirs.

Vacation viewing including several episodes of Season III of StarGate Atlantis (Ronin & Wier develop personalities- love that), The Green Zone (very PC but thought provoking), Wooster & Jeeves (brit com humor is so dry you need moisturizer!), Disney's Jungle Book, and more of the Cosby show (though Feche Boy has declared it degrading to men). Yes, a certain percentage of our brains are mush giving the over-dose of passive entertainment we've indulged in. I'm just gonna flow with it, casue I am on the verge of total crisis about our impending school start and since I don't drink, I figure cheesy entertainment is just as good a way as any to practice the fine art of escapism.

Reading "Pagan Christianity." It puts words to my disquiet. Viking Man and I have been discussing for months the ineffectiveness of the Christian church (as in where is the TRUE healing- not the medication driven or the sorta healed healing but the complete and effective healing that allows the lame to walk, the blind to see kind of healing) and much of the discussion of the book centers on how Constantine's legalization of the Christian faith watered it down to the point of day old mush by incorporating pagan practices.
I'd rather be reading fiction I'm eagerly awaiting the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, but I'm 66 on the library queue.
Got things sorted with the contractor to the satisfaction of everyone. Moving ahead with finishing the wood floors on the first floor, finishing first floor trim, putting in metal sills on the outside of windows. Still tons to do but at least we'll have one floor completely done.
We are almost done cleaning up what's left of our photos. There aren't many left and the process of sorting through more wet, moldy, discolored photos and family memories is not a winning combo imho. sniffle.
LifeLight Music Festival 2010 LifeLight Festival is this week-end and we are looking forward to 3 days of Rockin'Out, volunteering at the SD Family Policy Council Booth as well as fielding questions about a new classical start up college in the Hills.
KB signed up for College Plus this week; she is ready to get started and blast through a poli-sci degree. She is also practicing her "walk" daily and creating a "go-2" sheet for interview questions.

Hope over to Conversion Diaries for more Quick Takes and to check out Jen's new blog look.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Homeschool History

HSV is asking everyone to share when homeschooling touched thier personal timeline? It's been on our scope for a while now....

...back in 1990 I was working on a Master's thesis and landed on a title of, "Why Parent's Homeschool." It was a blast of a project, a lit review that included the educational history of America, interviewing parents and kids back in the day when folks had and were still going to jail for choosing the radical alternative called "Home Schooling."

I fell in love with the older homeschooled teens I'd interviewed. They had traveled, raised money, memorized chapters of the Bible and other great literature, biked across states and sometimes different countries, gone to Space Camp, volunteered, read thousands of books, overcome disabilities, played instruments, knew foreign languages, laughed out loud, were eager and excited to talk to adults, loved children and couldn't wait for what each day would bring. I caught the fever.

But it's no surprise that I did. During my own high school career the activities and events that I loved the most were all of those outside of the traditional class-room: swim team, tennis, hiking, band, choir, pottery, photography, poetry, cooking, baking bread, writing and reading. I actually an English teacher tell me that I read too much! I loved to learn to learn and had many interests, though I found school stressful and boring- I had terrible study skills and really didn't know how to memorize either short or long term. I knew there was a better way, a way that incorporated the cool extra-curriculars and was still academically challenging, I just didn't know how to get there from where I was.

Back when our first dd was 5 we looked around at our Los Angeles county public school options and cringed. Elementary schools included drugs, sex, rock-n-roll, the occasional kidnapping and not one white man or woman included in the "Great Americans" history unit. My dad had taught me to read at age 4 and I figured I probably wouldn't mess up my intelligent first born too badly in the year or two that we'd remain in CA, and given the circumstances, my dh agreed.

We've been at it every since, having read hundreds of books on education and learning along the way. Our oldest 2 have graduated from the Gracious Heart Homeschool. Our first born, guinnea pig child has traveled abroad numerous times and is on a full scholarship at college as a Missions major, fueling the fans of her linguistic and multi-cultural passions daily. Our 20 year old is enrolling in an on-line college program to study Political Science, having been involved in numerous campaigns. She is also preparing for a pageant this fall and works part time.
3 more to go and enjoying (most) every minute of it!
What's your homeschool history?