Friday, September 30, 2011

Dr. Orchestrated

In my life this week…My life this week was orchestrated by my Doctor. The huge hematoma that developed behind my knee after a fall at the park, 2 days before I played slip-n-slide in the polyurethane, morphed into something ugly. The pain, fever and swelling in my leg ended up being a blood clot. Oy vey. Another week of sitting (flashbacks to March) with my leg elevated. The very good news is that the pain is dissipating and the swelling is going down. So much for my drywalling projects. 

My mantra for the week. I am patient. I am patient. I am patient. I am. Really.
By the books: Cub started Henty's The Dragon and the Raven, while Feeche is reading Lawhead's The Warlords of Nin to him and the City of God for history. Flower and I are still making our way through On The Banks of Plum Creek. I also read Camilla by L'Engle and started A Circle of Quiet as well as The Art and Craft of Story Telling. L'Engle is not my favorite word-crafter but she is one of my favorite idea crafters.  
In our homeschool this week…We are getting Latin done. I am loving First Form. Feeche and I were talking about it and both agreed that it's been the most approachable program we've tried (Latin  for Dummies as it were). He is cruising through after several false starts with other program with the hope to get to 2nd Form before the end of the year. Flower is working through LC I and it is challenging. I am still loving R & S grammar. Cub started LoF Decimals. It was a rough start. We are finally getting into a routine now that Feeche is home again.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share....Steward this opportunity and time. If you are homeschooling, you are an educator. Take your job and your students seriously. Get trained, get read up, get educated and do the best job that you can.

I am inspired by…This week, to be honest, I was greatly discouraged to the point of frustrated tears.  Having another week of prescribed sitting is not my idea of fun, inspiration or excitement. KB wrote on our kitchen chalkboard before she left one morning,
 "Do not be discouraged nor be dismayed
 for the Lord your God is with you."

I am inspired by this. It gives me courage. The Master of the Universe is on my side.
Places we’re going …To the theater (said with a quasi-British accent like on White Christmas during the modern dance scene)
 It opens TODAY. KB and I saw an advanced showing last week. We loved it. We're going as a family tonight. The Kendrick Bros. just keep getting better and better. The humor in Courageous is touching, witty and lol funny. The plot line believable. The evangelistic message true but not preachy.

Things I’m working on…an article on Sukkot for HSV to be published this coming Tuesday. Other articles for Heart of the Matter on line and a couple of guest blog spots.
A Picture/Quote and Link to share....isn't this beautiful?! For more lovely signs, check out My *PINK* Life

How was your week? What did you get done? What inspired you?

For more inspiration check out the Blog Hop and Conversion Diaries.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


My 2nd guest blog for the week is also written by my oldest son. This time he is writing about Challenge, the program that he participated in in Georgia. He had a fantastic time, came home with his clothes sopping wet and full of sand and had exploits of physical conditioning, rock-solid friendships and odd culinary behavior. In his words....

This word might not seem intimidating, but give it a moment. Think it over. What would a challenge be for you?
       Before you answer that question, let me remind you that it’s not a challenge unless it stretches you, which means its going to hurt. Yes, hurt. That’s what a challenge is; stress, pain, difficulty, sometimes all of the above.
       Now ask yourself “What would be something that challenges me?”
              Most of us know that once something like a car-wreak, house fire or someone dying hits, you have a couple of options: denial, deal or addiction.
       But what’s a challenge that we can get in our day to day life, which we know isn’t going to damage us, much, and still builds us up? If you’re a young man between the ages of thirteen and twenty one, then there is at least one option available: CHALLENGE.
       The Timothy Group’s mission is to train up strong men of God, who don’t fear the challenges of the world; men who will take the pains and troubles they are faced with and use them like stones to build great things!
       Yes, this is a faith based organization; and yes, they make you figure out how to work with your team and get hundred pound boulders out of the woods and across the parade-field. God’s parade-field nonetheless!
       In Challenge you will do lots of things, which are…how to say it?... Challenging! And you will undergo stress, and you will experience pain. And you’ll see some crazy stuff, like a kid shooting a BB out of the air with a BB-Gun! I am not kidding. You will learn the value of seconds, and the value of good food. You’ll meet people from lots of places, and you will see them grow. 
       You will also feel like a fish out of water. Though you won’t get scorched and you won’t get burnt, you will get smoked. A lot! But that’s OK, because smoked fish lasts longer.
       You’ll end up running through the woods, trying to get your squad through a successive chain of obstacles. When you get to the end of the line, you’ll find yourself faced with something like a rope and a tree and a creek. And even though the instructions don’t make any sense, you’re still going to try and carry them out. You may end up doing a face-plant in the creek. But that’s fine, because by then you’ve already been in the water; either on purpose or by accident. And even if the waters wet and tastes like fish, you know its not going to kill you!
       You’ll grab that rope, and you’ll face that obstacle, and you’ll give it what for! You’ll get messy. You’ll get smoked. But at the end of the week when you’re standing on that parade-field; and you’re feet are soaked; and you’re BDU’s are falling off; and you’re stomachs growling; and the Officers are lurking just behind you, waiting to dish out PT; you’ll be able to look inward, and realize: “I’ve grown!”
       And then you’ll know that you’re ready for the next level:
Challenge EXTREME.      

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Day at a One Room Schoolhouse

 Last week 20+ kids and a couple of moms spent the day at a One Room Schoolhouse.
This Schoolhouse was in use in the Territories from 1883-1978.

The kids started the day with singing, saying the pledge,
singing "America the Beautiful,"
and "Oh, South Dakota!"

Handwriting lessons, as well as art, a Spelling Bee, and a math challenge!

Recess occurred twice and was the highlight of the day! The merry-go-round, teeter-totters, giant slide and swings were hot items. The yard came complete with outhouses!

The day finished with a flag ceremony...

and a group picture!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Back to D.C.

I have a guest blogger today; my oldest son. He just returned from  a 2 week expedition to both Washington D.C. and Atlanta, GA, where he participated in 2 fantastic leadership programs. Today he is sharing about Teenpact's Back to D.C. program. Stay tuned 'cause later this week he'll be writing about Challenge. 
Go here for more information about TeenPact Leadership Schools and to find a state class near you! 

      Back to D.C’ is one of several alumni events for the Teen Pact program. It takes place in Washington D.C. in mid September. But what is Back to D.C. about? Why would one to three dozen students want to travel hundreds of miles to get behind on schoolwork and drug all over the nations capitol? The answer can be found in the simple question: what are their priorities?
       One might be surprised, when they looked at the numbers and realized just how small of a number of American citizens actually care about how their government works. A lot of people theses days are ignorant about the details of how a bill is passed. Many don’t even realize that they are ignorant, or they simply don’t care.  Part of Teen Pact’s mission is to fight this ignorance; to educate young people about how their government works; to get them to care about their country and where it is going. It doesn’t work to just let the politicians take care of everything. Because, just like anyone else, the candidates rarely know what’s best for more than a few people at a time, and even if they do, they might not care about you.
       This is why young people are taking the time to become Teen Pact alumni and make the pilgrimage to their nation’s capitol. For four days they attend lectures, which will range from the topics of clear communication to running a successful campaign. During this time they will also live up to the message blazoned on their shirts: We came, we saw, we walked; A lot. A mock presidential campaign is also in order, as well as getting intimate with the local metro system. Not to be forgotten is the chance to play ultimate Frisbee in front of the Washington monument. And what trip to D.C would be complete without a chance to get inside the capitol building itself. It’s a chance to learn, to grow, and make friends form all over the nation. You get to walk until you’re legs hate you, and do all sorts of touristy things while still looking professional.    
       Washington D.C. is truly an amazing place. The capitol mall is huge; the buildings are big and beautiful; and the water tastes like tax-payers dollars! Don’t ask how I know this. Just go and find out for yourself. Parents are welcome to go as well, and see the things their progeny are seeing. Because in politics, everyone should be a student: no one trusts the experts anyway. It’s an opportunity everyone should take. To go and grow as a person; learn as a citizen; witness their government in action; meet the people they’ve elected; and to have some honest to goodness fun!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On Becoming a Better Teacher

There was a recent thread over at my fav on-line hang-out about "what has made you a better teacher." It's a great question and one I hope lots of homeschoolers take time to think about. Lots of folks homeschool and yet I doubt that many of them think of themselves as teachers or educators. Perhaps they aren't vocationally (I'm not), but I do believe that if homeschoolers took the time to think of themselves in a more professional manner, they'd have an easier time of it on many different levels (by that I mean a whole lot- probably best left for a whole separate post).

To get to the question.
What has made me a better teacher?
1. Actively Reading, thinking, writing and growing as a person and as an educator. Being intentional about learning about education. Teaching is a small part of being an educator, imho. Teaching is to education as drawing is to art. The foundation but not the whole. I've read scores of books on education. I've written scores of articles on education. I've thought for scores of hours about education, have written a 90 page thesis on it and I'm constantly on the look-out for ways in which to gather more education myself and to provide educational opportunities for my kids. I don't worship education but I do believe that to study is worship.
 Also I am personally invested in growing. I convey that as I teach.  The point of teaching is to engage the child, to enlarge and expand their understanding, to lead them to a more mature place, be that intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, socially, physically. If I'm not doing that personally, how can I ever hope to do that for someone else? It helps that I am married to a polymath that breathes ideas. He is always challenging me to think and grow about areas that I am not naturally inclined towards. I do the same for him. We are iron, sharpening iron. So is my on-line book club, so are several of my friends. Who is challenging you to grow? In what areas are you growing?

2. Creating educational opportunities and environments. In the past 21 years of homeschooling I have started co-ops, academic class days, run day and drama camps, brought TeenPact to our state, led workshops for kids and parents and sent my kids to the ends of the earth (literally). Working with others to create opportunities not only builds and strengthens the community around you but gives you a great sense about what actually educates and what is time wasting twaddle.

3. Teaching groups of kids. The more I teach, the more mastery as a teacher I experience. Why? Because I loathe staring at a group of bored, miserable students. If you are wasting their time, they'll let you know (usually politely). As I've grown as a teacher, I have find myself less about cajoling the kids into learning and more about setting expectations of excellence and insisting that they rise to meet the challenge.

4. Spending time in Creative Pursuit. I have grown as a teacher by taking time to do the things that energize me as a person; reading, mulling, gardening, writing, Bible Study, talking with my husband, doing movie, curriculum, book reviews, etc.

5. Participation in our Beit Midrash Bible Study. This study (which has morphed over the past 5 years from a Bible Study to a Fellowship Group) has taught me to think and express analytically and critically. We read, make observations, make application. It is a not an easy process and one that few adults (let alone kids) engage in naturally.

6. As I've said Ad nauseam, having a clearly defined pedagogy. This doesn't necessarily mean that you align yourself with  someone elses thang. It means you define, for yourself, what your pedagogy is. Mine is basically neo-classical with a lot of "classical" unschooling thrown in. More than anything it is a life-style of learning. You can read more about that here.

7. Realizing that I am not raising kids, or adults, but that I am raising spiritual beings that have eternal souls. Education isn't all about grades or scholarships or honor or prestige. It's about stewarding the life and capabilities of the people God has entrusted to our care so that they can live the life and do the work that God has called them to. I'm an ambitious person with some very intelligent kids. It's my natural inclination to want my kids to "win," to "be the winners." The God-reality is that God calls us to a life of servant hood and humility. Put in that context, my kids gifts are not theirs so that they can "win." Their gifts are there for them to honor God with, to serve His people, to bring glory to His name. That might mean winning, it might not.

What do you do to grow as a teacher and as an educator?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

More Busy Days

In my life this week…It was one of those weeks. The kind that are busy and scattered and leave you feeling like you got nothing done, hence the inadvertent blog break.

By the books: We finish Martin LaPorres for Cubs lit class as well as Farmer Boy. We started By the Banks of Plum Creek. I am still getting through Almost Christian and have started a book on writing, which I am loving. It is chock full of good stuff, but I can't remember the exact name of it and I'm not home to find out. Don't worry, I'll let you know more about it later.
In our homeschool this week…We started  VP Bible Cards, worked on Math, Latin (First Form and LC I), Poetry, Grammar, Lego League, IEW's Fables. I'm co-teaching art for co-op so twice a month I'm teaching drawing to the Jr. and Sr. Highers using Bruce McIntyre's excellent "drawing textbook." Along with 20+ other students we spent a day at a One Room School House that was in service to the Territories from 1883 -1978 (pics soon, I don't have my camera with me either!).  The grandson of the gentleman who built the school house was a special guest during the kids visits and recited poetry, sang songs and tried to trip them up on Latin words. Not bad for a man of 96 years old!

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to shareshow up to homeschool.

I am inspired by…way too many things. The book we are reading, the excellent conversations I've been privileged to be a part of with the ladies in our homeschoooling community, the soon to be released Courageous film and the Kendrick brothers (really, they inspire me big time!), Allen Addison, the book on writing I'm reading and Pinterest.  I'm visual, what can I say. I love researching ideas on there. I'd love to get my own pinboard but the days have been speeding by.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…Picking up Feeche for 10 days gone this evening. We'll love hearing about all of his exploits and having him home again. His quiet, strong presence has been missed.
Stopping on the way to visit with Don and Ricci. They are the real deal and I love hanging out with them!
Our Saturday morning fellowship/study group. It just gets better and better.
 Again, Courageous. Make plans to go. You won't be disappointed! The humor is laugh out loud funny, the plot touching and inspiring. The message evangelistic.
Oy vey. My brain is full. I have a zillion things to write about but I haven't had time to mull and sort it all out so it's kind of all in a giant random global brain jumble right now.

Things I’m working on…
An article on Sukkot. It has taken on a life of it's own. I'm learning a ton about Jewish holidays and festivals right now. It's amazing what we learn as we get ready to teach!
Mudding the bedroom that goes to the attic. Viking Man put paper down on the floors upstairs, put down drop cloths and got everything ready to go for me. Now for time to get it done! Then we're going to texture and, hopefully move our bed into a bedroom (Lisa, doing the grand pumbah happy dance!).
Squash recipes! My friend Mary has gifted us with butternuts! I'm thinking bisque and squash baked with sausage, apples and onions.
I’m reading…How to write a book with a stack of about 30 others waiting. The weather has been glorious, making it too nice to be inside reading.

How was your week? What's inspired you lately?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Release from Floor Purgatory

Last week we found ourselves trapped in floor purgatory. At $90 a coat you'd think the floor would have look incredible in the 4 coats we'd lovingly swathed it in. But, as the 4th coat dried there were some serious discrepancies in sheen and coverage that couldn't be ignored. Viking Man donned his super suit knee pads and sanded again. Then he threw out a new fleece (literally, you apply the poly with a sheep skin) and applied coat #5. It's not perfect. One of the joys of diy,  you know every.single.flaw knowing when to call it done.


Next up, we have more wall repair to do. Mud pies works are becoming my spec-ee-ality. Then we'll texturize walls and ceilings and paint. We are mulling over how we are going to get the hundreds of yards of trim on doors, windows and along the floor. Oh, and we have the tub surround to tile, and lights to install. Dh zapped himself this week-end putting in a lighting housing. He'd killed the switch to the room, but the closet light was connected to the hall...huh? And we realized that the big, beautiful new master bedroom closet has no light. Oy vey. It's all good. Little by little, one travels far (and one gets a house re-built). Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Busy, Busy Week

In School this week
We started Tutoring Center and Co-op last week. It was a lot to handle with the house in dissarray from working on the floors- we had to move our office down to the front porch and cram all the stuff we'd store'd on the 2nd fllor onto the porch and other small places. Anyhoo, besides the lack of organization and 2much2do we started.
Good stuff: Lego League, during which I'm teaching writing (IEW's Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales) to the younger siblings. Very fun. Other definite wins: First Form Latin, History (of course), Literature, and pre-Chem. I'm also teaching Creative Writing to high schoolers.
We tried to get math, thinking skills, read-alouds and poetry in during the rest of the week but it was a stretch. We had a freeze warning and ended up clean picking a lot of the garden with lots of produce to figure out what to do with. It wasn't the best year for gardening, that's for certain, but it wasn't a complete wash either.

Things we're working on
Floors. The 4th coat of polyurethane was weird. It came out high gloss in some areas and no gloss in others, even though the 2 gallons we used were from the same shipment. We are going to have to sand, again, and put another coat on. I played slip-n-slide last week during our 4th coat and ended up kissing the floor. How does one explain floor induced whip-lash?  Needless to say, this project is getting a little old.

Things we're thinking about
The too early freeze warnings. We clean picked most of the garden and covered the rest.
In retaliation to cold weather we made this:

Pumpkin Spice Latte  
2 cups milk
1 cup very strong coffee (4 tablespoons coffee grounds to 1 cup of hot water)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (plus extra for dusting)
2 heaping spoonfuls of pumpkin

Pour all of the ingredients into a pot and heat over medium-high heat until the coffee is steaming hot. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream & cinnamon. Enjoy!

Prep Time: 5 minutes, serving Size: 2

We used the rest of the can of pumpkin to make pumpkin muffins, topped with walnuts. Very yummy.

We've also made some great garden stir-frys and soups.

Move over horse whisperer

Cub always trains our current crop of kittens to ride on his shoulders. It is tres endearing (or else heart stopping if you are weeding, lost in thought and they jump on your shoulders). This year he took it a step farther. Penelope is his "Attack cat." (we name our kittens by theme every year. This year we went with a Muppets theme- you know, Penelope, Rizzo's chicken girlfriend?).
Places we're going
KB is counting the days till her program is over and she can move on to other things. She is loving the actual cosmetology part of the program. The social aspect, not so much. In the mean-time she is doing lots of very cool art work and planning what's next.

"We live at home, quiet, confined with nothing but our feelings to prey upon us."
Feeche is field tripping in D.C. this week. So far he's been to Arlington Cemetery and Capital Mall. He's heard great speakers and is getting worn out already. I'm praying that he doesn't get too tired cause it's just day #3 of the 10 day adventure. Shipping his soldier of fortune gear today for part 2. 

A picture to share
Just cause I thought it was so darn cute

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Before & After


And After.
 Feeche ready to fly the friendly skies and head on off to the capital. A 4 a.m. run to the airport and he is now sitting at his lay-over stop waiting to get airborne again.

There's not much occasion for ties in the Territories, necessitating a Tie Tutorial.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Carnival of Homeschooling PSA

Homeschool Blog Meme

1. One homeschooling book you have enjoyed:
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition) Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling Homeschooling for Excellence

2. One resource you wouldn't be without
Library Card

3. One resource you wish you had never bought:
Saxon Math for High School

4. One resource you enjoyed last year
Writing With Ease

5. One resource you will be using next year
 2nd Form Latin
6. One resource you would like to buy
A couple more laptops!

7. One resource you wish existed
High School history set up like SOTW with CD's.
8. One homeschool catalogue you enjoy reading
Veritas Press

9. One homeschooling website you use regularly
TWTM boards

10. Tag six other homeschoolers:
If you're reading this, you're tagged! Leave me a comment so I can stop over and read your list

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hi, My Name is Lisa, and I am not Wonder Woman....

everyone wave and say,
"Hi, Lisa!"

I've had 2 friends make comments in the past couple of weeks that my blog intimidates them because it looks like we get so much done.
Oy vey.
Let me 'splain.

1. Our house is 1/2 done. We decided to re-build after the house fire instead of bulldozing based solely on financial reasons. That, in itself, is cause for a thesis but I won't bore you right now with the details. We are now at the part of the show where the money is worn thin and the demands of the house still loom large. My bed is in the living room, in front of the front door. I live with zero privacy, no doors, no room to go to, dh and my clothes are in the living room, my "dressing area" is the main bathroom. Do we have to get all this stuff done? No, but frankly I will be doing the wild and crazy happy dance when it is because some days I am doing the wild and crazy losing my mind dance over having so little personal space. We are working hard now to get to a better place as soon as possible.

2. Life is short. Way short. Having my family drop around me like flies has brought that point home in a powerful way.There's a lot I want to do, a lot Viking Man wants to do, a lot we want our kids to do. I'm not intimidated by death in the least, but I will have regrets if we don't steward the days of our lives well and remain true to our vision, mission and goals.

3. I am not a patient person. Ask my kids. Ask my husband. Ask anyone who has know me for more than10 minutes. We are not getting through the work, building, reading, home school every day with sweetness and light. Some days we get through gritting our teeth, sweating and crying- literally. Apologizing is one of the life skills we teach around here because we are in need of doing it so often.

4. While we do get a lot of some things done, we don't get a lot of other things done. My list of wannaget2's is long. Some of it is necessary, like working out, but it just doesn't happen daily. Life is seasonal and I have hope that this season will end and a new one will begin, with different challenges and rewards.
This is not to say that I don't second guess what we do. I toy with the idea of going to work professionally often. If I worked, we could be paying for the house to get done, we could pay for the lessons our kids aren't getting, we could go on vacation every year. Yep, we could. But then we wouldn't be raising our children in a manner that is personal and personalized. We would be outsourcing, not only the re-build and the lessons,but the stewardship of our children. And we're just not there. We remind ourselves often that in doing one thing we are choosing not to do something else.

5. We get exhausted. Some days I am so tired it hurts. You know you are working hard when even the teens beg for mercy and sleep. I went to bed several nights last week wondering if I really needed to make the effort to brush my teeth. My love affair with my choppers won out, but it was a close battle.

6. Part of my goal for this blog is to illustrate what a normal family can do with a vibrant faith in the Living God, obedience to what He has called us to do, and the faith to do it. I hope it is an encouragement and that you realize that you can try something you don't know how to do; like re-finish floors (I didn't) or dry-wall (I did.not), or garden, or make something new (our first batch of wine is a lovely rose but needs aged. If it doesn't work out as a beverage it could certainly be used as antiseptic!) or homeschool, or pray over the large and small things and wait for God to answer. And I hope that you realize what it is God is calling YOU to do. Which is totally different than what He is calling me and my family to do.

7. “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” CS Lewis, Weight of Glory (1949)
I hope my blog and our life is a testimony that drives some people to envy and that they turn off the T.V, step away from the computer, put down the Halo controls and go outside to walk or garden with their children, build a Succut shelter, cook together, read more, laugh out loud, talk to the Living God, turn off the media, listen for His still small voice and see and hear the people in their lives in a new and vibrant way.

So, now you know. I'm just a regular Jo, like you. Walking in obedience (most days) on the path I find in front of me. I hope that is an encouragement to you.  I don't have small kids at home anymore, I'm old enough to have done some things a lot. I'm old enough to realize that lack of obedience and running away leads to uncomfortable situations, like staring at the innards of a whale. So, even though I'm totally intimidated by some things, I do them anyway because the alternative is something I've done already and don't want to go back to. (would you call this "life by intimidation? How 'bout, "life by experience." = )

I'm not Wonder Woman. Nope, not one little bit.
(If you are, please lmk. I've got some questions for ya!)

Friday, September 9, 2011

In my life this week…We sanded, did an inordinate amount of vacuming rooms that we haven't lived in in almost 2 years, moved and hauled stuff and wood trim around some more (100's of pounds of it.)  I should really, truly, look far more buff than I do.

In our homeschool this week…We did a lot of reading. The rest of the week, besides Tutoring Center and Co-op, focused on the floors. Oy vey. I am so not ready for this fall.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…Little by little, one travels far. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I am inspired by…Addison Allen's writing. It's a bit too romancy for me (I really, mostly, don't ever read romance, but her stories are mainly delightful and even the romance isn't, generally, too sappy or discontent-making) What really captured my imagination was the new to me genre -mystical realism- that she writes in. It's the story behind the story, the unseen that becomes seen, the unspoken that is said, the scents of places and people that take on lives of thier own and become characters. I am enthralled.

.Places we’re going.... Feeche hops on a plane in less than a week to fly the friendly skies. D.C. and the Land of Dixie are on the agenda. Suit & tie and BDU's. He deserves a break from all of the sanding, vacuming, hauling and poly-ing, along with every other -ing we've been doing.. He has earned every bit of this trip but I'm gonna miss his being around when Viking Man isn't.  

...and people we’re seeing…Drs. Dan and Mary Ann. Stopped by over Labor Day on their way from Hoosier ville to the coast, and ate, cooked, helped with the floors, went to the UBuildIt store with us, sat at the fire and ate rhubarb apple pie- a delish dish! These are our friends who lived on a yacht for a year, sailing to Fiji,, whave written a book (The Last Reunion) and are busy re-modeling a huge old farmhouse very close to our college stomping grounds.
My favorite thing this week and the things I’m working onthe floors. Booyah, baby! Another coat of poly today, then 2 light sandings, 2 more coats and the floors are done.

A link to share...How to Educate Your Kids by yours truly, over at HSV. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

SAT Prep Review

The Sat and College Preparation Course for the Christian Student 
I recently received the SAT and College Prep Course for the Christian Student by James Stobaugh to review. What I received was 425 pages chock-full of good stuff. The book is divided into the following sections:
How to Use This Book- with 1, 2 or 3 year schedule for study clearly mapped out
Answers and Solutions
Bonus (includes Jitters Essay by J. Stobaugh titled, The Rise of the Secular University, and 50 examples of College      Admission Essays)

The value of the program is in the Lessons section, which takes up the bulk of the book. Each lesson is one page long and includes:
Bible Quote
Scripture reading and questions
Prompt for Devotional Journal
Prompt for Reading /Vocab Cards
A mixture of vocab/grammar/critical thinking/math

The book list is annotated and the appendixes include a reading journal page, a 30 minute prayer/devotional page, possible target scriptures, test taking strategies (invaluable!) and a list of resources for critical thinking materials.

At first glance I was undecided about the necessity of Bible passages, scripture readings and prompts for devotional journaling in an SAT prep book. Honestly, it seemed a bit pedantic. As an educator I am all about keeping skills uncomplicated and accessible and shy away from material that forces the student to do unrelated skills to get to the lesson. This is not to say that I don't firmly believe that high school students should be doing regular Bible and devotional reading and journaling. It's just that I'm not sure it fits in here. I think, however,  the point of clarifying ones purpose as a young adult is extremely valuable and Stobaugh's essay on The Rise of the Secular University clarifies his vision and purpose for inclusion. By the end of my very lengthy perusal I am convinced of it being a welcome addition. If it's not something that you see the value in with this study it would be easy to skip.

The strength of this SAT prep book over others is that the lessons are orerded, sequential and bite-sized. Each day is planned and the student simply turns to the page in the book and gets a goodly dose of practice without having to skip back and forth between sections or feel overwhelmed by the 100's of problems persented. Each day follows the same basic format so the student knows what to expect, an emotional comfort, even while being intellectually challenged.

At $29.99 I'll give this a 2 thumbs up. The lessons are quite do-able for any student, ordered and sequential. The essay examples are great and show a variety of styles and essays written for all manner of academies of higher learning and the helps are actually helpful. The feature I like most about the whole thing is that each day's work is neatly and carefully arranged, giving the student a manageable, do-able portion based on however many years they decide to study.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tour de Floors

"They say Lucky Jack has spilled so much blood on this ship that she's part relative." (Master and Commander).
Ayup. I think This Old House qualifies for 2nd cousin, at least.

Wanna see our lovely, gorgeous, very fine oak floors, sanded down to the grain and ready for polyurethane? First, a couple of befores:

We got the edges and corners of the stairs pretty darn close. We are still debating and researching what to do with the risers and stair trim but for now the top stair treads are done.

Last year our Dream Team came and sanded for a week. This year we took it a step farther.
Isn't it gorgeous? This wood is almost 90 years old. Aged to perfection.

This pic is for Miss R.- it's the small bedroom, the one that had the deep gouges in the floor- 'member? Gouge B Gone

Next step- remove the dust particles and apply the first coat of poly.

 Our first week of school continues to focus on life skills. My kids are gonna have so many they'll be the best livers I know!

We still have a long way to go (besides the 3 extra coats of poly we need to apply to 800 + square feet of wood); texturizing and painting the ceilings and walls and adding window, door and floor trim. But, the floors felt like a MAJOR accomplishment. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Floor Love

My buff husband spent the weekend dancing with an android name Lupe a floor sander while KB, Feeche and I wrestled the turbo, 30 lb corner sander, teeny tiny square sander and vacuum cleaners. $30 worth of masks later, our 2nd floor looks be.a.utiful and is almost ready for it's first coat of polyurethane. The stairs are running a close second but need some strong arm convincing tlc in order to comply with our master plan to restore them to their original beauty. I hope to post before and after pics soon but keep running into time constraints. School has officially started, too and dh is back to his regularly scheduled programing, so don't hold your breath. Meanwhile, I'll leave you with the stunning image of what I looked like for the majority of the week-end.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Come to the Table

My husband of a quarter century plus and I visited a synagogue yesterday; each one giving the other courage in a situation that could go awkward. My husband is a social scientist, after all, as well as having an insatiable curiosity about unsolved theological and Biblical riddles (what they are I'll leave to your imagination, or better yet, you could show up to the Saturday morning fellowship and find out for yourself).

It was lovely; really, truly lovely. It was a very small synagogue, led by a student Rabbi just once a month. When they aren’t there a member of the congregation leads the service, which was done, partly in Hebrew, partly in English. The gal leading this Sabbath sang, recited and read in an earthy alto, joined by the wispy thin elderly voices of the congregants.

Husband and I followed along, him more than me 'cause he's actually speaking Hebrew these days. I was thrilled to know enough to read from right to left. The text was exquisite, full of mystical words, rich and meaningful, strong and solid; like an oak. Un-moveable and intimating of things deep and hidden, roots that secure one to the universe, tendrils clinging to the earth and holding you firmly to a center that won't let you go. History so deep it is magic deeper still. I felt like I was in a different place, a different land.

Deuteronomy was prayed, first in Hebrew and then in English. It jarred me, hearing the English. Jarred me because it was familiar; words I know, words I believe and have read for myself many, many times, words that I pray over my children. And I remembered, but I had to remind myself; like waking oneself up from a daze, this isn't some otherworldly faith tradition. This is my faith tradition.

My faith tradition, but not mine at all. A semblance of what I know, what I believe, what I want, pray, hope to live. But there was no vibrancy there, no joy; just rote; rote speaking, praying, recitation; tradition, firm and un-yielding. Many of the references to “Lord” or “God” were quietly passed over, forgotten, like a morning mist.

And then last week, when we went to the Adat; Joy. Dancing, arms linked, children and the elderly included, laughter washing over one another and prayers that caused your deepest hopes to believe. Magic that is not, was not, never will be pagan, but alludes to 7 dimensions instead of the paltry few that we live in.  Magic that lives in a place with cherubim and seraphim and 4 -faced heavenly beings, trumpet-like voices that cause one to weep and a faith that is so otherworldly one would lay down their life in this one for a taste of it. Faith traditions acknowledged and embraced with the Living, Breathing Holy, Holy is the Lamb, Lord Jesus invited in.

We found tradition in the synagogue, like a solid oak table that you stub your toe on in the night. Un-yielding and steadfast but hard and concrete, what’s in front of us right now.  A good starting place, that. But the Adat; that is where I want to be; the table still front and center, but this time laden with platters bursting with food and the scent of flowers and sparkly wine flowing and laughter and people all around singing and passionate and vibrant with life. Tradition complete; enough and more. More than we could ever hold on to ourselves. So much that it lingers; like a scent, compelling others to hunger for where we’ve been.  

Shabbat Shalom!
For more inspirtation, link up with Pebble Crossing

Friday, September 2, 2011

Summer Vacation Finale

In my life this week…I planned.
Planned for the Creative Writing class I'll be teaching High Schoolers. I batched my field trip planning and got the years worth done. Tweaked the courses and stuff we have going for the kids.
I read. I'm in love. In love with a new author (thanks to TWTM 52 books in a week bibliophiles- again!)  Allen Addison is gifted wordsmith. Her writing is called mystical but I like to think of it as a cross between fairy tale and Jungian archetypal paradigms.  She hasn't forgotten the magical moments of childhood- the "what-if's," the consideration that things could be more than they seem. Her character development is full- she talks about the scents and feel of people. I'm mesmerized by her descriptions and find myself going back to re-read passages of books. I also order the rest of her collection from the library.

In our homeschool this week…
We don't officially start until next Tuesday at noon but.. Feeche finally finished Algebra 1, plugged away at TC Shakespeare Cd's and started Medieval Lit (no hardship there, history is one of his loves and our brilliant friend Mary Daly is writing the curriculum/ teaching. How much better could it get?!)
Lego League is unveiling the mission today which will find us at the home of our trusty mission control Mom's house with other Lego enthusiasts.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
Over plan before you start and then flow and adapt as the year goes on.

My favorite thing this week was…
The Paul Wilbur concert with the Hebraic study group was in the top 5 but so was seeing our friends Paul and Lynn and so was hanging out with Ricci and Don on Sunday.  Allen Addison's books were right up there. Planning some cool field trips for the kids and having something totally unexpected to look forward to every month- good stuff.

Things I’m working on…
Salsa. Thanks to the advice of my friend Margy I finally went and got Mrs. Wags. We'll see if that helps. I can cook, but why, oh why, can't I make a decent salsa??

I am also working a program that is causing my paradigm to shift regarding a lot of things. I want to write about it more but if I do it will take the form of another blog or something else entirely.

I’m grateful for…
Our house, our life. Just finished reading Little House on the Prairie to Flower. Jeez Louise. I'm so very grateful for my house and flush toilets and tampons, and refrigerators and  modern medicine and cars and a whole host of things the pioneers didn't even conceive of.  

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

The Lasting Effects of Your School Christianity Today

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Good Reads

Grand pumbah reading fest before school officially begins:

The Sugar Queen (Random House Reader's Circle)
My new fav author: Sarah Addison Allen. Read The Sugar Queen and The Girl Who Chased the Moon this week . Quick, easy, delightful reads. Addison Allen mixes fairy tale intrigue with quirky, loveable characters and touching resolution in settings that are familiar and believable. Her writing is delectable.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon: A Novel

Skin Map by Lawhead started slow, developed an intriguing premise and ended with teasers for the rest of the series. Not my fav Lawhead read, but good enough for road trip.

The Skin Map (Bright Empires)

They Thought for Themselves: 10 Amazing Jews by Sid Roth.  Beautiful, autobiographical stories  Jews who discvoered Jesus, the Messiah; a Holocaust survivor, a drug addict, a housewife, and more. Very inspirational. The last chapter, especially, was very thought provoking regarding prophecies about the country of Isreal.

They Thought for Themselves: Ten Amazing Jews