Saturday, February 26, 2011

His Strength, My Weakness, My Weak Knees

Like most people I have 2 knees. That's a good thing.
 I love my knees
One of my knees, however,  is going through a mid-life crises. It is suing me for divorce. And like most of those betrayed by someone they love, I feel angry and bitter. Why can't my knee see the light and love me back?

Having a knee bail on it's responsibilities has created havoc in my life. Standing has become an act of faith. Walking touch-and-go. Carrying anything, out of the question.  I am downing handfuls of calcium, Chondroitin and aspirin.  This feeling of being crippled, I don't like it, not one little bit!

I talked with a friend this past week. Her life has been hard. Really, really hard. She's been served divorce papers literally and figuratively on so many different levels. Family secrets revealed in her own life and people who didn't show up to do their part- like my knee. She is suffering as a result. Really suffering; financially, socially, vocationally, familially. The world is missing out on her gifts and calling and love because she is consumed by trying to accomplish the most basic needs in her life- standing and walking in the face of really difficult circumstances that are determined to cripple her.

We talked for a long time. And, while the older I get, the less I know, I do know this:

The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy us. He has a specific plan for each of our lives in order to accomplish that. His intent is to wreck havoc with our relationship with the Master of the Universe, our calling, our loved ones, our purpose and hearts desires. He wants to cripple us. (John 10:10)
Jesus  is strong. He loves it when we come to Him and cry, "Abba, Father, I need your help!" (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Jesus loves His little children of which I am one. So is my friend. So are you. Oh, how He loves you and me! (Matthew 19:13)
I can do nothing in my own strength. Even when it seems like I can, when there is appearance of success. Whatever we think we've attained or achieved or become or do- it is because HE has saved us and HE has allowed good things.  Every good and perfect gift comes from above. (James 1:17)
I need the healing touch of Jesus in my life, every bit as much as my friend. I need healed. I need my knee restored. My friend needs healed. She needs her life resorted. (Matthew 9:35).
He makes all things new. Remember on The Passion of the Christ? Jesus is stumbling under the weight of the cross, bloodied and beaten and he turns to Mary, his Momma, and says, "See, I make all things new." I'll take a bloodied and beaten Savior who can sit at the right hand of the Father and perform unfathomable wonders in my life and yours and in a world that is bloodied and battered over a good looking god of wood and stone anyday. (Revelation 21:5)
I'm impatient. I want things fixed now. I want my friends heartache healed. I want my knee working. I want the shallow church to dive deeper. I want so He makes everything beautiful in His time. (Ecc 3:11)

Until His time comes I will trust and obey, despite what works or doesn't work. I will do the last thing He told me to do. I will be faithful in the little things. I will revel in the His strength, despite my weakness. Despite my weak knees.

And don't you love this: For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed. (Acts 4:22). There is HOPE for my over 40-year old knee!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The World is Not So Big After All

I am thrilled to announce that I'll be writing a regular column over at the Homeschool Village each Saturday, titled, "How to...." I have tons of ideas but if you have any "how tos" you'd like addressed, lmk. HSV is a fast growing homeschool community that has great link-ups, regular columns and other fun ways to connect. Come join the partee!
And while I'm networking, you can follow me on Twitter @laughinglioness. I'll get the blog feed up at some point soon.
This Momma homeschools. Really. Regularly. And I'm still really liking Writing Tales. While I love IEW's sequence of teaching I do appreciate the grammar lessons included in Writing Tales. I'm a recovering grammar-phobe so Cub and I are learning a lot!
Got back into listening to IEW's Language Acquisition Through Poetry Memorization. Pudewa is delightful to listen to and Cub and Flower never tire of the CD's. They try to match his diction. Love it!
The Singapore Math workbooks continue to be terrific. I accidentally gave Flower (gr2) one of Cub's (gr5) worksheets. I thought to myself, "Wow, this really is advanced math!"

Blizzard on Sunday. Again. Ice and more ice. And more cold. On Tuesday, 2 days later, our van side doors were still iced shut. In retaliation I am ordering seeds and berry bushes. And planning the garden and dreaming of long days outdoors. Very long days. In the sun. And warmth and dirt and heat. Yes. Can.not.wait.

Flower is taking the techniques learned in Friday co-op classes and giving herself art assignments each week. Her coloring is fantabulous. I would post a picture but above mentioned arteest daughter was transporting my camera outside to capture the ice-glazed winter wonderland post-blizzard and dropped it, lens open, on the cement porch. I have re-purposed  dead as a doorknob camera as a paperweight.

There are a couple of foods I've hit my life-time quota on. Ramen noodles and chicken top the list. Hot Curried Chicken over rice created by KB was a delightful way to reconsider the chicken at least. Honey, curry and Dijon mustard. Ohlala.
First Egypt. Now Libya. Kadafi is claiming Jewish lineage, meaning Israel, by law, will be forced to allow him asylum. 
Somalia pirates murder Americans. Scott Adam was a Fuller grad and professor. The world is not so big after all.
And don't forget Christchurch, NZ in your prayers.

Talked with my sister  in D.C. along with a good friend from Fuller as well as reconnecting with friends from CA, NM and SD via FB. So good to be in touch with folks and talk history and kids and big life changes like empty nests and launching adult children and the loss of parents and the state of the world.
And co-op, which my kids l.o.v.e, full up of music and art and learning and gentle, Godly teachers. My life is richer from the moments shared talking doctrine and theology and politics and homemade sauerkraut and listening in on unit study lessons and learning more myself.
Friends. Thank-you God for the gift of friends.

More quick takes over at Conversion Diaries 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Laughs Like Me

I've been feeling particularly unfamilied this week. And then, right as we were leaving the house yesterday a box arrived from my sister. Yay! full up of fun stuff- zebra boots for Flower and a ruffled shirt and sweater in colors I love and a snuggly zippered fleece jacket that I am wearing as we speak and napkins and book marks from D.C.  and shoes for my ever growing ManChild. Random things, fun, frivolous and useful. My sister speaks my language.
But even better, she called late last night and we chatted way into the wee morning hours.
Viking Man talked to her for a while too, while it was still late and not yet early, and commented that her laugh was just like mine. I love that.
Her call made my day. And night.
**I love you, Kris!**

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Called to Walk

It's been a long and dry season- longer even than the fire and the funerals. Back to when I quit a job that I knew had been entrusted to me.
I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that that job had been a God calling. A clear, clarion call. Trumpets sounded in my spirit and I felt part of something exponentially large and eternal; something specific and otherworldly, though I couldn't explain why.
But it ended. Too many agendas and emotions and a certain, specific, all too familiar and difficult challenge that tapped into a heart wound that I thought was no longer there.
So I quit. That wasn't the plan but that was the outcome.

And of late, I've felt that same, wonderful, heaven sent wind - a calling. A call. Smooth and soothing but purposeful and visionary. And I've been invited in. Again.

And I wonder, like I did then, what is so important? It seems so simple. Simplistic; child-like. 
Why does it matter so much? What's the plan?
But this time I know. It doesn't matter if I understand, get it, have a way to explain. I'm called to walk. Understanding is a higher pay grade.
And those detractors? The ones who complain? The bitter and moody, the demanders? They'll be there. Guaranteed. I'm called to walk.

 Keep going. Walking forward. Move ahead.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Far North Survival

1. Have NOAA as your main page. Check frequently.
Manage grocery trips based on weather. Stock up as needed. Manage work route based on road closures. Re-schedule clients based on both.

2. Stock up on food and hot drinks before blizzard hits: tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Drink copiously in the midst of the storm.

3. Spend the morning after the rocking and rolling, thunder storming, wind whipping, ice crackling, dog howling, sleepless night of the blizzard comparing notes on who heard what, when and have a competition for who had the least amount of sleep.

4. Watch movies, read books, discuss politics, write, email, talk to Miss R on the phone who is bragging away about her mild and temperate Kentucky weather, venture out to measure the thickness of the ice, retreat back indoors and proceed to get slaughtered by the ManChild at board games.

5. Eat popcorn- cause that's tradition on Sunday nite anyway, but perfect winter weather food.

6. Drool over fast arriving seed catalogs. THINK SPRING!

Friday, February 18, 2011

M3: Son of Hamas, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and The Glass Castle

 M1: Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices by Masab Yousef. An excellent book. Yousef is eldest son of one of the founders of Hamas, a Muslim and a prince of his people, but became an undercover agent for Biet Shen (The Israeli Police) and even more astounding, a Christian. His account IS Gripping and explains Palestinian politics through the eyes of a native. He explains that Hamas is not an organization as most people understand organizations, "with rules and hierarchy. It was a ghost, an idea. You can't destroy an idea; you can only stimulate it." The war on terror is being fought against an idea. That's gonna be a hard one to win.

Yousef becomes an Israeli informant to learn all that he can about the Israeli's in order to hurt them from the inside. He grows to respect and appreciate the work that they are doing while at the same time becoming disillusioned with the various factions of his own people and the violence, destruction and inconsistencies of Hamas and Islam. Eventually he becomes a Christian by reading the Bible and joining a group of Christians for study and fellowship. It's a beautiful testimony of how his conversion shapes and formed his politics and eventually his hopes and dreams for the future.
"I had money, power and position in my former life, but what I really wanted was freedom. And that meant, among other things, leaving behind, hate, prejudice and a desire for revenge. The message of Jesus- love your enemies- is what finally set me free. It no longer mattered who my friends were or who my enemies were; I was supposed to love them all. And I could have a loving relationship with a God who would help me love others."

My understanding of the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict was broadened by this book and my faith strengthened. Yousef is a mighty man of God, willing to live his faith out loud, though he loses it all. You can follow Yousef at Son of Hamas.

Mennonite in a Little Black DressThis chick is funny. She is also crude and rude. Her MEmoir was a showcase for her writing with little theme. She mocks her parents throughout and in the end, for the "thank-yous" claims her Mom is her "hero." At which I shudder. I hope that if anyone ever claims me as their "hero" they actually have some respect and appreciation for what my life stands for other than for what I do for them. This book is basically a justification for Janzen's sabbatical, justifying her poor choices and some horrible circumstances, lack of faith and her willingness to condescend towards the people and faith that she was raised with.
Another gifted communicator with nothing much to say.

The Glass Castle. For the life of me I cannot figure out why this wasn't required reading for my Marriage and Family Therapy program. It might just as well have been titled: "Scr*wing Up Your Life & Kids: Everything to do Wrong." If you've ever felt sorry about the way you were raised and thought your parents didn't do enough, this book will give you some perspective.  Walls recounts abuse, neglect, abject poverty, (though her parents were wealthy) eccentricity, harrowing escapes and escapades of all sorts.Her parents are incredibly intelligent but suffer from various maladies ranging from mental illness to alcoholism. A fascinating but depressing read. For an interview with the author go here.

What did you read this week?

Winter Reprieve

School: All the usual stuff. Cub and Flower got to Hitler on SOTW. Cub was spitting mad about bedtime and it all boils down to he's worried if maybe God knows he hates Hitler and that's a sin. Vocab & theological discussions ensued with an emphasis on differentiating between fury, anger, bitterness, hate and evil. And how God loves all of His children, but sometimes they commit themselves to evil instead of The Way and God allows people to choose. And he weeps over evil but doesn't despair. I love the line in the PBS version of Anne of Green Gables, "To despair is to turn your back on God." Delivered by Marilla, played by consummate actress Colleen Dewhurst, who sounds and acts like Gram.

I watchedThe Bank Job. A recommendation from aJean Tennant of Shapato Publishing. She said it was the best movie she could recommend to distinguish between plot and story. She defined plot as the physical location of a place and the story as the emotional landscape. It was a very intriguing story but I rarely watch "R" rated flicks. OMWord. Even the mild mannered, middle aged librarian said it was a good movie and it would be "just fine" for my teens to watch. I really don't want my teens watching S and M scenes, torture or  prostitutes in action, thankyouverymuch.Jean had a good point about the plot/story issue but I am glad I watched it sans kids.
It thawed this week. We can see the ground. I always feel like I've been released from a teeny, tiny, very small closet about this time of year. Winter can be so claustrophobic. Snow again on Saturday but at least there is hope of SPRING!

Small World Story of the Week. My new irl friend, Mary and I were talking last Friday. She used to live in our small town. In fact, she used to live in our house!! The house is 80+ years old so a lot of folks have lived here but still. . She had her laptop with her so I was able to show her the kitchen remodel (she agree with me that the old kitchen was the kitchen from the pit of despair. It really was awful. And now its not. She was so sad to hear about the fire at first and thought the house had burned down. And then was thrilled that it hadn't. It's an evil enchanted house I tell you. People love it and it's totally counter intuitive to do so because it's in the middle of nowhere and old and dated unique. It's just one of those places where people feel that sense of "home." I just wish I could pick it up (and our valley, with adjoining river) and move it closer to civilization.

Also watched, "The Book of Eli" on KB's recommendation. I am a visual person. Visual images of violence, gore and degradation deeply bother me. Seriously, I'm up at night over it. This movie reminded me, from Scene I,  of The Road. I have voted The Road as the worst book I've ever read. It is trash, pure and simple, nihilistic and full of despair and evil. (Going against the truism I quoted from Marilla- see above). All under the guise of, well I'm not sure what, but Viggo is off my list of most loved actors for having the bad taste of acting it in, too! The end of the Book of Eli, where the Bible is being slid into the bookshelf, just ruined whatever redemption I might have found in it, though KB stands by her opinion of GOOD MOVIE.  For one, it went, oh so smoothly right into the bookshelf next the the Koran. And, secondly, it was just filed; catalogued. Supposedly the Warrior Goddess of Despair- seriously, who is gonna look that good after the end of the world as we know it?  Sunblock is obsolete, c'mon, and I doubt lipgloss was available - is supposed to carry on Eli's legacy but still, the visual I was left with was that the living, active, breathing Word of God gets put up on display, neatly sharing office space with other Great Books of Wisdom. To be differentiated from Truth.
Not worth the stomach ache. Or waking up in the middle of the night.

Went on a walk. Startled a herd of deer- maybe 12- 10-15 feet away from us. We live in nature valley, I tell you, and had just crested nature hill.  If you need a fix of the great outdoors, come visit. We'll dose ya right up.
My knee did great. Till that night when I was going up the stairs. Then it rebelled. It started out screaming at me and then I think it actually swore.  Until our insurance changes, surgery is out, so if you think of me and my gutter mouthed knee, I'll take any prayers you care to say on our behalf.

My husband and I celebrate our 27th dating anniversary today. Our first date consisted of an hour long drive to Indianapolis, an afternoon at the Art Museum and then pizza. My husband was an hour late for the date. He did call. He also consumed 7/8th of the pizza. I was young at the time or I would have taken greater note of these significant details. He has gone through his entire adult life (most of which Ive been married to him for) believing that he can fit in one more thing despite the hour and  he has also gone through his entire adult life eating vast amounts of food. You would never know it by looking at him.  This should have also clued me in to the type of offspring we would share. Skinny, lithe, strong, hale and hearty food consuming machines.

Despite all of that, I am still  in love with him. Even though he drives me nuts, sings in the morning before 10 a.m., cracks puns day and night, continually asks people where there daytimer is and insists that I'd be happier if I went to bed by 9:30 every night and got up at 5 A.M. (which I do at times, but then regress.). Thank the good Lord for all of his other redeeming qualities.
And it was the kind of first date where we just knew.  We went jogging together the next night (back when the ligaments in my knee were where they were supposed to be) and then studied together the next night and talked on the phone the next night and within a week  we just knew. He still jogs (I limp along), we still eat pizza (but rarely) and we talk (or text) on the phone almost every day. We still study and talk about what we've read and written and listened too and  now have the fun of having our kids join in. We've gone to museum's all over the country. And we still know

As always Jen hosts Quick Takes.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I've been reading lots of MEmoirs this year, (which, I just recently discovered,means a "slice"  of one's life, vs. a full atuo or biography which is about one's whole life). While all  have been interesting on at least one level I've been struck by the shallowness of some of the writers. I'm not even sure what the theme has been for 1 or 2 other than as a showcase for clever writing. And honestly, I like clever writing. Some of the writer's I've read are master craftsman and words are their medium. But if you can write well technically but your subject matter is shallow or trivial, what's the point (o.k. money, professional accolades and stuff like that, but other than that, what?).

Other Memoirs are really not MEmoirs at all and have been challenging and thought provoking, challenging me to consider causes and concerns way outside my own slice of life. Not that all reading has to be thought provoking. Sometimes brain candy is just what one needs.

But it causes me to wonder about the wider implications. You know, like what is the point of this particular slice, of my particular slice. If people can write an entire book about a situation or circumstance that they've been in or lived through, with out a real true theme, what is the point of that "slice' of their life? You know, like what's your vision for this slice? What's the point? Is it just to be a clanging gong, drawing attention and money to oneself, or is it something more?

My Gram is 94 and lives with her boyfriend, Walter, who, at 90, is a younger man and who has been her companion for years. Walter has a colonoscopy bag as well as other medical issues, which Gram takes care of each and every day. They have a visiting nurse come to their home once a week but other than that it's Gram doing the cooking, cleaning, and caring for Walter, as well as her cats and dogs and providing much needed income for her neighbor Slyvia, whom she tutored in math and English as a girl, and  who now does the grocery shopping for Gram. Gram insists that her purpose in life right now is to take care of Walter so that he doesn't have to go to a nursing home and have strangers take care of his most intimate needs. Her "slice" now- like it has been so often throughout her life- is to serve the needs of others. When she's no longer needed on this earth, her reasoning goes, God will call her to the next thing.

They'll never be a MEmoir about Gram. She's been one of those quiet people, going about their daily routines, investing in what's in front of her. Living her faith out loud, though I doubt she's ever proselytized to anyone with words, which is, in truth what some of the MEmoirs are about - proselytizing secularism. And making it look good and sexy and even not antithetical to Christianity at all with words like, "belief in  God," and quotes about the Golden Rule. But still, at the end of the book, its all about religious skepticism at best and often true indifference.

I've been thinking about life slices/seasons since the house fire. Purpose, plans, hopes, dreams, visions, legacy. It's been a theme. And reading others memoirs, or MEmoirs has been soothing in a way. Some have shared laughter, struggle, heartache, rest, resolution, will, faith, purpose. We do, after all, build each others faith with the sharing of our testimonies.

What does your slice look like?

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Real Thing

Ken and Barbie are reunited and Barbies FB page status changed this a.m. to "in a relationship."
I, for one, am relieved.

REAL LOVE, however, compared to the fake, be that Barbie's or our own, making professions of faith when it's honestly about our own happy feelings more than anything else, is a mysterious thing. I'm shallow- have I mentioned that before? And, honestly, on the rare occaisions when I go to WalMart I look around and think, "Christ died for these people? For me?" We just don't all look that good, if you know what I mean.

But I've been loved enough to know that True Love is not just a noun, a flim-flam idea, but a Real Thing. It sees me when I'm most  uglified and still believes in the art that's been buried deep within.  It's fresh and healing and transformational; living water. It transports me beyond my shallowness and gives me eyes to see and ears to hear something bigger, more beautiful and far beyond myself.  It cleans off the mud and stench and allows the eternal to shine forth.

Whatever your status, I hope that True Love finds you this day and that your thirst for the real thing is quenched. That the hurts and heartaches and uglification of this world is washed away and the ART IN YOU  shines forth  for all to see.

 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
 1 Chronicles 16:34

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011


Abby Johnson was a Planned Parenthood Clinic Director, having worked in the organization for 8 years. One day she was invited to participated in an ultra sound guided abortion and changed sides, literally and figuratively, within the matter of minutes. Her memoir of going from Pro-Abortion to Pro-life is real and insightful. Johnson writes well about self-deception, justification, denial and her own abortions.
She also writes well about propaganda, the Bottom Line Focus (money, money, money) of Planned Parenthood and her earth shattering revelation that the life she assisted in aborting was viable, hurting, and murdered.

The Power of Words. Semantics. Talking Points.

Fetus vs. Baby.
Problem vs. Blessing
Liability vs. Legacy
Life vs. Death

Zusak writes in The Book Thief, " Yes, the Furher decided that he would rule the world with words. "I will never fire a gun," he devised, "I will not have to." Still he was not rash, lets allow at least for that much. He was not a stupid man at all. His first plan of attack was to plant the words in as many areas of his homeland as he could.
He planted them day and night, and he cultivated them. He watched them grow until eventually great forests of words had risen throughout was a nation of formed thought."

A nation of formed thought. Passive aquiesence. Propoganda and the media have been good and powerful friends for a long time. Johnson's memoir underscores the just what an important part propoganda plays in the Planned Parenthood agenda.

UnPlanned is ultimately a story of Redemption, of God's deep and abiding love. And the gratitude of one of His children who listened well. You can read more about Abby here.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief was a surprise from the beginning. I don't want to spoil it for you so I can't say too much other than, if you want to read a delightful book, read this. Let me s'plain. It's not delightful from a plot or story pov. It's about WWII- from the perspective of Germans. Germans, not Nazi's, so of course it is grim and dirty and full of harsh realities. Zusak captures the brutality of living in the land of the deranged, the poverty, the desperation. So, the subject matter is not really delightful- there is a lot of swearing, abuse and more swearing, in both German and English. There is death. Death is a prominent feature of this book.

 But it is delightful in terms of the writing style and perspective and humanity and the rich understanding of the power of words. It is a beautiful book that captures loyalty and love and friendship and hope. I've been hearing rave reviews of this book and they are well deserved. I'm joining the very long line of Book Thief fans!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Juggling Normal


SCHOOL: Feche finished up The House of Mirth this week and is on to The Great Gatsby. He is cruising along in Chemistry but works hard at it. We are all grateful for our dedicated Teachers at Tutoring Center, especially Dr. H (wife of Ana, who blogs here). Life of Fred Algebra, finally closing in on the end. Shakespeare: Taming of the Shrew. Poetry and Oral Interp- reading and memorizing and thouroughly enjoying both.
Cub and Flower: All the basics, Life of Fred Fractions continues to be a blast. SOTW CD's, of course. Return of the Ring each evening, though Flower has declared it sad a bit creepy. She is both mesmerized and repulsed by Smeagal.
We enjoyed an afternoon visit to a friend's house where 2 of hers and 1 of mine did a week's worth of Writing With Ease II. Great program. Still loving it.

Cub wrote the following for English in place of a sentence using a vocab word.

The Tussock
Oh! The tussock,
Yes the tussock is a pretty little clump,
A pretty little bump of the green and dewy grass.

Found 2 terrific graphic novels this week. We were first introduced to Graphic Novels when a friend gave Cub a Graphic Bible. He basically memorized it. The Graphic Novels at BooksRUs are basically soft porn trash,. However, I did find The 911 Report and The United States Constitution at our local library. I'd love to see more of this genre with good content and decently clothed woman. What a powerful teaching tool!

Finished "Book Thief."  One of the most creatively written books I've ever read. Powerful. Review on Saturday.
Also read UnPlanned by Abby Johnson. Self-deception, Semantics, Politics, Redemption. Powerful. Review on Saturday.  

Watched One Clear Day, Glory Road and The Soloist It was cold  all week, what can I say? Despite the bitter cold (below zero most of the week; 20 below zero on Tuesday morning) the kids went out to play each and every day. They are making tunnels in the 10 foot high snow drifts.
I am licensed to drive for the first time since the day my Dad died mid-November. It's the longest I've gone without driving since I was 16. It felt appropriate somehow, like a dedicated time of mourning. A time to recognize that the world is different because my Dad is no longer in it.

 German Apple Pancake. Homemade and gobbled with gratitude. 

Biet Midrash: Exodus 37. More details of the desert Tabernacle. And as we prayed I had a picture of it in my  mind's eye of splendor and lovliness, beauty and mystery, lightweight veils cocealing the Holy of Holies, gleaming bronze and gold and silver and beautiful blue and scarlett threads in a sea of brown sand and grit. God dwelling in the midst of the sultry realities of desert living; shelter from the incessent heat and winds. A place of rest.

What is the Word of the Lord to you today?

I woke this morning thinking about a situation where someone has come late to the party, after doing their own thang for ohsolong and is now being toasted and fancied; feeling much like the Prodigal Son's brother.
The Father responds: "All that I have is yours."
Comfort. Mystery. Shelter from demands and striving. A place of rest .

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Love Notes

Cub made these personalized glass magnets as a gift for Valentine's Day last Friday at co-op but was so excited that he gave them to me before we'd even left the building! Aren't they cool? I love the "Mom" button. In small print it says, "Contains Ice Cream."

For instructions and more inspiration, go to my friend Janell's blog here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What the Dog Saw

I just finished another Gladwell book, "What the Dog Saw." Unlike Tipping Point, Outliers and Blink, What the Dog Saw is a not about any one thing. Rather it's about Gladwell's fascination with the story that's not so obvious- the story behind the story, which is what makes Gladwell a reporter extraordinaire. It's a compilation of strange tales that is fun and thought provoking.
The book is divided into three parts: Part I: Obsessives, Pioneers, and Other Varieties of Minor Genius; Part II: Theories, Predictions and Diagnoses; Part II: Personality, Character and Intelligence.
While each chapter has a point, the book is really a series of essays about a whole lot of things; Gladwell is Mr. Random Global with a precise way of writing, so in one sense there was no real theme to the book, other than "curiosity about the interior life of other people's day-to-day work." I'm there. I get that. I like the book.

My favorite essays were these:
"What the Dog Saw: Cesar Millan and the Movements of Mastery."  Loved it. I think a lot of  parents could learn a thing or two from Millan about how to raise kids and  play well with others.
 "Late Bloomers." Gives me hope = )
The "Open Secrets" and "Most Likely to Succeed"- both about success and the perils of 2muchinformation, and ultimately Enron and a new way of looking at  business and ability.  Gladwell really shines in these pieces as he takes the Enron fiasco and looks at it from a unique perspective. Post modernism hits the corporate world and it crumbles. And while plenty of people were willing to play ball with the "new small talk" (a literary heist from My Fair Lady) they all wanted someone to pay when it did the logical thang- which was to fall the h*ll apart.
John Rock's Error. Very interesting reading about Dr. Rock, devoted Catholic man and father of many, who developed the Birth Control Pill.

If you are a fan of Gladwell, an info junkie, or someone who appreciates a tale well told, What the Dog Saw won't disappoint.

FYI: I've put my 2010 reading list as a blog post under 52 in 2010.

Bad vs. Good

"Eric Hanushek, an economist at Stanford, estimates that the students of a very bad teacher will learn, on average, half a year's worth of material in one school year. The students in the class of a very good teacher will learn a year and a half's worth of material. The difference amount to a year's worth of  learning in a single year. Teacher effects dwarf school affects; your child is actually better off in a bad school with an excellent teacher than in an excellent school with a bad teacher." ~Malcolm Gladwell in What the Dog Saw.

Do you agree/ disagree?
What do you do to become a better teacher?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wrapping UP

This week included lots of academics. Flower has moved on to 3rd grade math workbooks. I picked up 2 more Singapore workbooks, along with a Spectrum math book and she and Cub continue to do "Math Minutes" drills daily, along with multiplication flash-cards. Cub is cruising through Life of Fred fractions and has been doing more than 1 lesson each day, just because he's having fun. At this rate we'll be in the Decimals book before the end of March!

Tutoring Center was cancelled due to cold and the kids did a lot more listening to IEW's Language Acquisition Through Poetry Memorization as well as SOTW Book IV than normal. Cub also read In Search of Honor. We are all big fans of the Jane Seymour version of Scarlet Pimpernel and he was thrilled to recognize many of the main characters. We picked up several eled books on Lewis and Clark at the library as well. We are doing the global, circuitous route of reading through American History this year and are glad for our trusty spine to offer some seblance of order. Flower has also been working on "Proper Manners and Health Habits." by Rod and Staff. It is very simple with sweet pictures, but she is really enjoying it and the whole concept of "Friendly Words" which she made a poster about, has been a great reference point for her and Cubs frequent squabbles (which seem to increase the more we stay indoors, and given the cold this week, that has been a lot!).

Started "Book Thief" this week. NOT what I was expecting, beginning with the narrator. I also checked out the book that the movie "Precious" is based on, Push. I put it down. Not only is the language vile but the abuse is abhorrent. Oy vey. I worked with emotionally abused girls in OH, IN and CT, most of whom had been abused and have worked as a therapist for a bit. I'm not unaware of the wrong and horrible things done to children. But this. Evil, and fully described.

Watched Inception this week. An on-line friend is considering creating a logic class based on the movie. What came to mind for me was C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, (which, after Till We Have Faces, also by Lewis, are my very favorite books), specifically, That Hideous Strength. When we work at altering reality, saying that fantasy is reality (like in Avatar), we miss the real thing in front of us, be that our calling, children or the lost. The internal compass that points true north, the "eternity set in each of our hearts" becomes dulled and deadened. Fantasy and reality become blurred and we're now talking to our dreams, relating to them meaningfully. A great look at Post-modernism and meanings re-defined.
Did you like the movie? What were your thoughts about it?

I went to a Writer's workshop last Saturday. Fun and interesting stuff. I feel like I have been shown a path that I knew was there but wasn't sure how to get to. Do you ever feel that way? In what instance?



And cold. Enough with the old already!
(and Gram in Chicago is just fine. Thanks for asking! = )

As always, Quick Takes are hosted by Jen at Conversion Diaries.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Educational Influencers

I've been making a list of books that I've read and authors that I've learned from regarding education and it's fairly long and diverse, ranging from John Holt to Susan Wise Bauer to Bill Cosby and lots of folks in between; mulling over what I've learned from each one of them and how I've applied it to my life, and in turn how it's affected my kids, and no doubt, someday, my grand kids.

My parents, too,  did a great job of providing an educational environment for my sisters and I that included lots of books and music, plays and educational field tripsalong with crazy outdoor adventures like white water rafting, hot air ballooning and 4-wheeling. I remember visiting factories on vacations, as well as parks and museums and my Dad always, I mean every.single.time had questions for the docents. They were very educationally minded and really believed, really, which shows my age, that higher education would determine how well you lived and how successful you are.

It  is interesting to me, that our of their 11 grand kids, 6 of them are at least conversational in a second language and all of those 6 have traveled internationally. Mom believed that the world was a classroom of which she was the self-appointed teacher, and would abscond with the grand kids under the guise of vacationing with them and have them write reports, interview folks and memorize long and lengthy poems.

And on Viking Man's side, his folks took the older kids cross country to their condo in Florida every single year, stopping at museums and aquariums along the way, enjoying sea-side eateries, dissecting cow eyes with them, teaching them the fine art of quality material and comparative shopping and teaching them practical skills like sewing and painting.

We've been surrounded by quality educational influencers, both irl and through books and CD's (Andrew Purdewa of IEW comes to mind. I've never met him in person but I've listened to probably every CD he's every made- excellent stuff) and for that I am grateful.

Who has influenced your educational paradigm? I'd love to hear about any books or CD's that have been particularly meaningful to you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You know, the thing...

KB found this book and showing me exclaimed, "You NEED this!" Then we'd actually know what you were talking about!"
After flipping through the pages for a minute she said, less enthusiastically, "Never mind. You'd just say, "you know, the THING on page..oh, .what page was it on??"