Friday, November 30, 2012

Test Time

Decorated Trees this week. We have a couple. A big ole regular tree -found a like new one this year on Craigslist for  1/5 of Menard's price. We are hoping that our allergy suffer-ers don't suffer quite as much with a fake tree as a real. We also have a couple of alpine trees that we decorate by theme - we have a cowboy one (you  have to pronounce it "Cow-boy" with a funky twang like they do on Hildago), and a girly pink and purple one that goes in Flowers room, and a mini-one. All of this in addition to lots of lighted garland atop the window and door trim. And twinkle lights. Gotta have twinkle lights. By the pound.

I have avoided Moby Dick yet again. Time is defiantly running out if I'm really going to read it before the end of the year. Maybe it will be my New Year's Eve reading? The culprit was Field Work. Terrific writing and compelling story. Who knew Dead Heads did the Dead Tour?
There is one point of unbelievability for me, but the whole story centers on that moment. It could have happened the way it was written, but I'm not convinced.

It was a quieter week without KB. Simpler. We miss her, and yet it's a relief to have fewer people to manage, less people to coordinate cars with. Her solution to a life without her parent's cars? See here.

Feeche has been going to a karate studio for several weeks and loving it. He was able to fit in 3 work-outs this week and would gladly ramp that up to 6-7 if he could. I asked him if he felt good after a recent work-out. One word response: Stronger. Says the man child who can do 60 sit-ups in 2 minutes. Booyah.

SAT's tomorrow. Poetry Outloud competition on Thursday to weed out the state goers from those left behind. Lego League state qualifiers next Saturday. Test time!

Did we do school this week? Yes we did. In between dealing with the flu. Saxon is working for the youngers. They continue to memorize Horatius at the Bridge. We continue to read the Bible and Famous Men of Greece. The boys continue to watch GC Physics, and I continue to try to keep up with Feeche's The Divine Comedy reading. We started reading Maybury's WWI out loud together. Writing, math, science, reading, etc. normal stuff.
Last day of co-op for the semester. The choir sang beauitfully and we have extra kids for the night. Fun times.

I'm part of the TOS Review Crew this year so I'm getting up to speed with that. Already I've been checking out a new on-line product. Stay tuned ; )

What's happening in your world this week?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reality, Part II

I often wonder about why I am so transparent on this blog. Part of it is that's just me. What you see is what you get. I've oft been told that this is a winsome aspect of my personality. Winsome, or irritating, depending on how entertaining, or not, I am at the moment. For my own part, I'd rather be an internalizer. You know, smile on the face, every thing's great, no matter what. For what it's worth, I'll never be. So, if you read this blog, you will be subject to my own externalized therapy sessions.

Here's the deal. Some days I think we are doing something really cool. Affording our kids freedom and opportunities that convention don't allow. Other days, or months, like the last 7, where we have had $1000's of dollars of car repairs, including 2 bizarrely broken windows, a rock that tore the underside of our "good" car to shreds, antibiotics- again- and yet again, a dead hard drive, and now apparently, a dead expensive camera (do you hear my WAAAA's from where you sit?!) I really wonder what we're doing. It's not that I don't expect life to have ups and downs. I do. But sometimes the ups, out figures the downs (sing it, baby, ala Disney's Robin Hood). And does it have to be so painfully, unrelentingly expensive?

I'm reading "Fieldwork," which is a about a murder, but just as much a story about a crazy, missionary family that lived, worked and evangelized in Asia. The story is written by a secular Jew, and while he is respectful to the last, he doesn't quite get where the missionary family is coming from. They are unwaveringly clear about the vision that they have. It's an inerrant, Biblical worldview that says that the world's days are numbered and the lost will be damned. There is fervency and passion in the family. I'm not to the part yet where the murder takes place, though we all know who done it, but the profile of the family, I get. They are good, basic, hardworking Jesus loving folk who are willing to walk on the wild side to live out their convictions.

But, truthbetold, I'm feeling my age, the disappointments, the debits. My check has been wavering.
Step 3 of 12-step is "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God." I did that a decades ago. The problem is I keep wanting things to turn out my way. Look, my way is pretty cool. I'm a creative, intelligent person with rocking ideas. Seriously. And yet I am continually surprised at how God hits the "reject" button on my ideas. They are perfectly sound, fun, cool, budget-conscious and thoughtful. So, what's the deal?
I guess it's that He's God and I'm not. His ways are not my ways and all of that.

I think one of the illusions of living in a place like America, as a Christian, anyway- where freedom to do and be is pretty much there- is that if you don't get your own way, hit the goal marks, succeeded at the vision, lived up to your potential, you've failed.
There's little confirmation, in the church or out, that if the outcome isn't a WIN BIG that it could be because you've conformed yourself to Christ. That you  have sacrificed and suffered for His name sake. That He has a different plan. And while He might be rejecting your plan, He's not rejecting you. Or me.

So, to all of you who are suffering and struggling and walking on the wild side as good, basic, hardworking, Jesus loving folk- THANK-YOU (you know who you are don't you?!) You've given me courage by the testimony of your lives in a season where I've felt a little lost.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Big Blue

KB's first car. She was hoping for a blue sports car, but this is what she settled on.
What's it like? BIG.BLUE
I knew it!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Wish Reality

"If you could have anything you wanted for Christmas, what would it be."
I failed the philanthropy portion of the test by not answering,"world peace".

Instead I wrote down, fully admitting to myself on paper, my dream life. Dr. Dh and I are "niche" kinda people. Maybe it's cause we're both middle children, but if it's average, or common, or something everyone else is doing...well, we don't. We live and work and school and think in eclectic ways and so much of what we hope for is unique and honestly, not readily available; not for general consumption. I courageously wrote what I wanted and it didn't sound like too much. It sounded like what I thought our life would be. Or at least could be. But it's not. And I don't think it's gonna be.

I think it's too niche. Too out of the range of normal and average. Too unique and other-worldly and, honestly, down right odd. Why can't we just go to Joe-average schools and raise Joe-average kids and go to Joe average church and have Joe-average lives? For some reason, it just didn't seem like that was enough. It might be for other people, but not for me, not for us; not for our kids.

It's all tied in to faith for me. When I became of follower of Jesus Christ, part of the draw, for me at least, was getting caught up in a grand sweeping, magnificent drama, something otherworldly and beyond average; more than what we could ask or even imagine.

So, maybe I didn't get the faith part right. Maybe the grand sweeping drama, magnificent and sumptuous is about what's coming, the other side of heaven and not anything about what's right now.
I don't know. I'm not sure. I thought it was about now, but in light of life..., I kind of don't think so anymore. Maybe I'm finally becoming the level headed pragmatist my mother hoped I always would be.

Because of the above I have come to a conclusion. I need to let the dream go. I need to get a grip on reality and just deal with what's in front of me, instead of always longing and hoping for what's not gonna happen.The reality is that the fruit of how we've lived has been....well, not so much. If you just take the last 2-10 years in to account, our attempts at living honestly, faithfully, steadfastly, and looked at the fruit- the results financially, socially, vocationally, physically,  familially, you might laugh. I have. Right before I bawled.  Because the fruit, for what it's cost, has been very stingy indeed.

So, I'm re-assessing.
And taking a hard look at what I want for Christmas.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The 12 Hour Tour

KB, Feeche and I drove almost 1/2 way to Ohio (6 hours 1 way) and Grandma and Grandpa drove a bit father (8 hours 1 way) to rendezvous. The point of the trip is to get KB to KY for a new adventure.
As always, we had a ton of fun road tripping- lots of coffee, laughs and, personality disorders discussion (it's our way) and political/historical discussion (you can't really discuss despots effectively without a run-down of PD's, right?). It's nice having a history nerd with us (Feeche) even when Dr. Dh isn't along.

Lunch with G'Ma and G'Pa, then transferring stuff from one car to the other and then off again, in opposite directions.
Good-by, family!
I have seriously adorable kids, dontcha' think?!
The house felt empty this a.m. when I got up at my usual 0'dark:30. Having one less adult in the house will make things both more and less.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

Best Pre-Dinner Activity: Chinese Checkers. I am slowly, painfully, relinquishing my title as reigning Queen of the Chinese Checkers board to Feeche.

Best Deal of the Day: Free Turkey with a Honey Baked Ham. Good, cause I think I've hit my life-time limit on Turkey.

Best Tip of the Day: Cook the turkey the day before and heat it up the day of  in the crock-pot. Done and brilliant! Frees the oven and saves on T-day mess! Thanks, Jannell!

Best Quote of the Day: "Ya know, if God was going to destroy the world with another flood, the best time to do it would be after Thanksgiving. Everyone (American) would just sink to the bottom." ~ Feeche
Best Picture of the Day: "Don't get between a 12 yo male and his food!

Best food of the Day: Pie. We are pie people: apple, pumpkin and banana cream. Ohlala.

After Dinner Activities included hair cuts all 'round- Cosmetologist KB is heading moving to the hills on Saturday, so every one got one last pro cut in. Falls Park Winter Wonderland drive-through; always beautiful. Calls to the fam. More pie.
Lord of the Rings- Two Towers fest. It was my first time watching it- very fun to view with LOTR aficionados. Watching movies with Dr. Dh is kind of a quick run through on a personalities disorders class. He diagnoses everyone on film. Watching movies with a beautician is just as entertaining. We now have running commentary on who is using what product, what stylists tools and who brow waxes. The beautiful men in LOTR made for many comments and lots of laughs. The final vote is in and while their hair rocks in a greasy, unkempt kinda way, they all need manicures.

How was your Thanksgiving Day?


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. --George Washington

Shamelessly lifted from Amy

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

There are Strangers Among Us!

 The 12 yo is at it again... 

Welcome to my world...
(which is so much richer because of my Cub). 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Enemy of Books and People

I'm grateful for many things as a homeschooler. The classical education movement is one of them. The reason is simple; it provides a way to train your child based on developmental milestones (the Trivium) in a way that utilizes the gifts and strengths of the season the child is going through.

During the Grammar Stage, the child reads, memorizes and fills their brain with amazing and astounding things about the world and life.
During the Dialectic Stage, the child begins to understand how to order their world through the study of Logic.
In the Rhetoric Stage, the young adult takes the facts and information, orders them well and shares them with others. This can take many forms; written, verbal, artistic, mathematically, scientifically....the fact of the matter is that the youth has something of import to say because they have studied and learned about things, facts, people and places that have meaning.

Being a young person today that is mature, thoughtful, polite and respectful is not that common. I've been told by complete strangers, along with those who know them well, with regularity, that my kids are polite, respectful, kind, thoughtful, caring,and smart. This, usually in response to their holding a door open, looking at someone and smiling, making a formal introduction. Nothing earth shattering; well it used to not be. Not an intelligence test, just emotional responsively at a mature level.

All of that to say, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, and the person responds and initiates. If we pour into our children things of value (the heroic stories of old) rather than superfluous drivel (Phineas and Ferb), what they'll have to contribute could be, might be, probably will be something that is world changing.

The content of the books we read affects the content of our minds, hearts and souls, and in turn, affects the world that we live in. What we have to contribute, based on what we take in, creates life or it's antithesis. How we educated defines how and what we share and teach our students. The methods and forms of what we do are every bit as important as the content.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

I am a Grateful Homeschooler

The theme for this week's Carnival of  Homeschooling is Gratitude. I can get on board with that. Here goes:
1- I am grateful to the Good Lord who gave us the vision to homeschool, who has provided the books and resources and direction to do so, the children to educate, the income and resources to survive financially on one income in a 2-income world and the patience (HAHAHA) to homeschool.

2-I'm grateful that I have children to educate. (Fertility is widely taken for granted, imho). Having gone through seasons in our life where we thought we'd have several less children than we do, we are grateful for a large family, the beautiful people that they are and their joy and passion to learn and grow.

3- I am grateful to be married to a true-blue polymath, who is deeply committed to the ways of God. Dr. Dh has exposed all of us to nuanced and nerdy facts, ideas and ways of thinking. He is willing to be uncomfortable, disliked and make sacrifices to seek wisdom. We are all stronger, more thoughtful, intelligent, Godly people because of that.

4- I am grateful to my parents for giving me a passionate desire to learn, grow and develop. We spent every vacation touring factories, museums and national parks. My parents were homeschoolers at heart and gave each of their children a deep love of learning and literacy, starting with phonics instruction at age 4. Thanks, Dad for giving me the gift of reading. It has been one of my greatest joys.

5- I'm grateful that I live in a country that allows parental freedom and that we can, for now, educate our children in the way we see fit.

6- I'm grateful that I can freely share my faith with my children. If they grow up and don't understand their religious heritage and our belief system it will be through no fault of ours.

6- I'm grateful for all of the learning, education and academic opportunities I've been exposed to as I've homeschooled. I am also grateful to have learned how very much I love to teach. It is a joy and a privilege.

7- I am grateful for the good folks who have fought to make and keep homeschooling legal.

8- I am grateful to all of the good folks who have created resources, curriculum, materials and supplies to make homeschooling do-able, accessible, affordable and fun.

10 - I am grateful to the classical education movement and community for providing a vision of education that extends beyond the person and the place, goes backward and forward in time and challenges me to each and every day.

11- I am grateful to our local homeschooling community. They have been true-blue friends on so many levels.
 We LOVE them!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crazy Hosea & You

We recently watched a church created film on Hosea; it had its cheesy moments and moved a little slow. That being said, it did a great job portraying the prophet Hosea. He's a minor prophet and bit nuts. Weren't they all.

Let me sum up: Hosea is preaching to the ancient people of Northern Israel in the 8th century B.C. He preached and prophesied for 25 years. During that time he was told to marry a prostitute, stay faithful to her in the face of her continual infidelity, keep loving her, bringing her home and telling his neighbors to get right with God.

He won't shut-up. He's telling everybody else to straighten up and get back to Holy living, setting themselves apart from their pagan neighbors. The thing is that there was no threat, the economy was booming, the Israelites had relative freedom and tolerance was the name of the game. It was a live and let live kind of world. All good, right? But Hosea kept harping on this repent and turn back to the Kingdom of Heaven thang. Live and let live except for the religious fanatic who kept harping on the fact that God says He wanted His people set apart. Set. Apart. Holy. Not almost Christian. All Christian. Not almost set apart, not flirting with it. Done.

The man was a lunatic. Seriously. And this cheesy little church movie showed that part well. Which is what I appreciated about it. I got a real sense of just how nuts Hosea, and most servants of the Most High God, comes across. Hosea and the other prophets were not what we would call men of their times. They are often not successful in the eyes of the world, they were called to do crazy, irrational things that p*ssed people off. God chose to use Hosea's life as a living message to His people. Hosea followed and obeyed but he looked like a fool to the normal, middle class folks living next to him in suburbia. And probably the rich and poor folks, too.

In the end, howevah, Hosea was right. The northern kingdom was attacked by the Assyrians, who, by the way, put the brutal in brutality and the terror in terrorism. Their very name struck fear into the hearts of people. Israel’s upper-class and nobility was carted away to serve in the land of Assyria, the most brutal and feared pagans in the Ancient World (no wonder Jonah was afraid of them) to do whatever feared pagans do to captured people. We don't hear mention of the middle and lower classes- my guess is that they were the lab rats on which the Assyrians honed their savage skills.

Then this week-end I read The Harbinger. I'd read 1/2 of it before and it seemed plausible but didn't really grab me. But it kept coming up. An aunt sent us a copy; a client asked Dr. Dh about it and a FB friend pm'd me regarding it. I read it. I get it, it makes sense. All day, I've had this sense of wanting to go back and read the rest of the story. But I've finished it.

Along with that I had a crazy, creepy, apocalyptic, horror movie dream. I am anti-horror movie. I don't watch them, I don't watch commercials for them, I don't read them, I avoid them. I'm a Jane Austen, Narnia, G- rated reading/watching kinda gal. The closest I come to horror is The Divine Comedy. So, it's not like the dream was from bad gravy and watching Louis the Ax Murderer or anything. It was one of those dreams where you don't want to go to bed the next night. An Assyrian Invasion, Prince of Terror kind of dream.Oy vey.

Feeche just read The 4th Turning and had dark and ominous thoughts afterward, even for a teen-ager. We are for sure in a time of great societal upheaval. Whether you believe it's the end times or just the end of the Modern Age, it's certainly a time of shifting. Either way, do the thing you are called to do, but be sure of the calling. Calling a non-calling a calling is to thumb your nose at Hosea. And while Hosea might have been a bit crazy he had fire power (can you say, Master of the Universe) on his side. Don't tug on Superman's cape. And don't toy with His messengers.

Wake up, oh sleeper, do the thing you were born to do. Don't pretend and do the easy thing. Be a Hosea. Be bold, passionate, crazy in love and passionate for the Real Thing. Even if your neighbors think you're nuts. Even if you are comfortable and would rather sleep more. Time's a wasting. Time's growing short.

Yep. That.

Do It Anyway

no bells, no whistles, but hopefully, readability!
Gotta have art. You just do. Our kids get it at Co-op, taught by my sweet friends, Jannell, Ana and myself. Then on Tuesdays, Ana does it again at Tutoring Center. And Flower has her clay class with Mz. Z. Plus they draw on their own. We have plenty of drawing missives around to inspire and amend. Along with poseable figures.

A beautiful analysis from the Circe Institute: Don’t Follow Your Heart: Anti-Revolutionary Lessons from Pride and Prejudice (one of my fav's). Jane rocks.

"Jane Austen’s message is just as timely today as it was two hundred years ago. How do we respond to a world gone mad? Have a good marriage, be a good neighbor, invest in your community, take your responsibilities seriously. Don’t follow your heart. Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. On these hangs the only hope to restore sanity to our world.
. - Angelina

Speaking of Revolution I am going to try to whisk away some of my older kids this week-end and go see Lincoln. Maybe I'll luck out and get Dr. Dh to go. The last movie we went to was For Greater Glory, a heartbreaking, beautiful recount of those willing to die for their faith and the freedom to practice it. I cried through the whole thing.
The movie we went to before that was Passion of the Christ. I was too traumatized to cry.
Oy vey. Where are the lighthearted chick flicks?
HGF has a free iPad app available for the Lincoln Movie- check it out.

We had a great week of school. Here's the deal. When I faithfully fill out a scheduling sheet for each kid, we rock the homeschool world in terms of getting stuff done, getting along and tackling challenging stuff. When I don't, we take the prize for lammoability. A big part of it is that the kids know what's expected, get to cross off what they've done as they go and I'm not in the back-ground going, "hey, you forgot to do this..."
The reality is that you don't get what you want, you get what you plan- (well, sometimes).
Donna to the rescue. Of course.

What did we get done, you askGC Physics- more episodes watched- it's a non-math physics course, and focuses on everyday stuff. Cub and Feeche are watching together since they are both taking physics- Cub, pre-physics at TC and Feeche Apologia.
Flower is reading through Biology by Tiner and thrilled to share with everyone!
Math. We were gifted with Saxon 6/5, just in time as MME was making too big of jumps for Flower. She's loving it, though she keeps wanting to know why there is a 6/5 on the cover. Cub continues to do great with Alg 1/2 and Feeche is finally hitting a groove. We switched from Foerster's pre-calc to Glencoe and he is back to getting it, scoring well on tests and moving on.
Spelling- we are back at it, though it's time consuming. Sequential Spelling. Love that program.
Horatius at the Bridge- Cub at verse 20, Flower slowing down but hanging in there at week 18. A rough week for Flower. She was struggling with feeling deeply sad about some things and school took the hit. We took things slow, spent time snuggling and talking and praying and today she was back in a groove.
Plus we're doing the study guide, complete with pictures and maps and comprehension questions. Excellent stuff.
Feeche is on Cantos 24 in The Divine Comedy. Great discussions and we are having a blast discussing it together. MP study guides- simple, effective, straightforward. LOVE them!!
Writing- always around here. How to teach it? Check here.

Have I mentioned Lego League lately? Whomever can is meeting an extra 4 hours a week to focus on programming. Qualifiers are coming up faster than the speed of sound and we have a ton of work to get done. The good news is that our little band of merry boys and girls are a riot, good natured and good friends. They are also good students, quick learners and love the program. Good times. Sometimes too good but the term
gracious professionalism
has taken root and the kids quote it to each other. Instant attitude change. STEM and interpersonal skill building
- a winning combo!

I have been reading Girls on the Edge by Leonard Sax. Frightening stuff. Makes me glad I've homeschooled. Because the bottom line is that our kids are growito no sense of self.

Along with that I was in a discussion this week about what to say to naysayers who criticize homeschooling. My response is this: Is God calling you to homeschool? Then do it. If He calling you to something else? Then do that. Whatever you do, do it with your whole heart. And here's the deal. If you do something that threatens the status quo, or the enemy of your soul, or the ancient one who would rather that your child was dead, expect to be criticized. Expect to be put down and questioned and told that you aren't or can't or won't do a good job.

And along with that, don't expect outcomes. Because the reality is that your child will grow up, have a mind of their own, succumb to temptations, or just not understand or care about the sacrifices that went in to allowing them to have a sense of self, a childhood that was innocent and full of privacy and time to think and be and wonder.
When you do something extraordinary with the ordinary you can expect flack. There are no guarantees- it's a risk.

It's just that simple.
But, as Mother Teresa say, "Do it anyway.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Getting Aquainted- Part V: Ethnically I'm a Marshwiggle

 The Silver Chair (book 4 of the Narnia Series -haven't read it? You must!) there is a scene in Underland, after the Prince has been set free from the magic of the chair and before the cadre of Narnians have escaped from the Queen of Underland's Castle. The Lady of the Green Kirtle (a.k.a.The Queen of Underland, a.k.a.The Serpent) is casting spells on Puddleglum (your friendly, neighborhood Marshwiggle), Eustace and Jill Pole, and, once again, the Prince of Narnia. They are all falling under the magic of the witch- who is opposed to all things good and Holy and right- they are getting drowsy, they are believing that there is no sun, no light, no Narnia, no Aslan and that the Underworld is the World.

Heroically, Puddleglum casts his hand into the flame, burning himself, as he proclaims,

One word, Ma'am! One word! All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things- trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as a like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's small loss if the world's' as dull a place as you say.

(Happy sigh.If I wasn't so happily married myself, I'd go in search of Puddleglum to marry, even if it meant eating eels the rest of my life).

Here's the thing. I'm a Marshwiggle by nature- melancholy and pretty convinced that the glass is half empty (one of the things I love about my sil is that she is positively proclaiming, with a beatific smile, that it is half full, tyvm!). I'm just prone to that and I work to overcome it, but there it is. But I'm sure, positively, undeniably sure, that the life of faith that I've adhered myself to- like glue dontcha' know, cause us melancholies might be a bit pessimistic but we are faithful to the bitter end- is the Real World. And it's the standards and magic, and deep magic of The Way that are the only True Thing. This world, this one, is good. I like it- most days. But when I die, I hope someone says for me, "It's been a great ride. On to the real thing." And when I get there, I will embrace my dear friend Puddleglum - or at least Lewis, who created him- and smile, that the journey- however hard and bitter and ill fought, was worth it.

For Narnia! For Aslan!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Foiled Again

("don't touch the b*tt, Nemo!")
and after...
blond with red lowlights.
You can't really see the low lights in this picture, I just think the picture is adorable.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


The Homeschool Post Annual Blog Nominations are UP!
Join Me at The Homeschool Post!

Golden Grasses was nominated in 3 categories: Fav Mom Blog, Best Nitty Gritty Blog and Best Variety Blog. I'd love your vote- you can vote more than once ; ). Thank-you to whomever was sweet enough to throw this blog into the fray! Seriously, made my day.

How to Teach Writing

make magic happen

I love teaching writing, partly because I still believe in magic and good writing is magical- it takes you places, teaches you things and expands your life in ways little else does. Plus, it's a blast to be part of someone elses creative process.     Teaching writing pushes me to write better, it keeps me reading and researching newer, better, faster ways of writing, creating, reading. Not only is writing is a creative endeavor, it is an exercise in logic and a powerful tool. Watching kids minds "get it," write better, think better, express themselves better is a total rush.
I  had a question from a fellow homeschooler recently about how to teach writing and here's my not so brief reply:

. . . . . . . ~© The Writer's Den ©~ . . . . . . .: Notable Quotables ...
Get Literary- Read to your kids- out loud, daily. We started reading out loud to our kids 25 years ago when our oldest was an infant: a book of poems by Tolkien, golden books, the Bible, fairy tales, nursery rhymes and fables. Read quality. There is enough of it out there that you don't have to settle for mediocre twaddle. Poems, riddles, rhymes are not twaddle, they are full of tropes. It's an important difference.
-einstein print
Reading out loud together is a huge part of our family culture and we share words and stories and shared universes daily.  We also read books that are at their grade level, above their grade level and books they've loved since early childhood. Children's books are not, by definition, dumb. Sometimes the most profound literature is the most simple.

Get Poetic- Memorize poetry at an early age. We started with IEW's Language Acquisition Through Poetry Memorization. Andrew Pudewa writes a great apologetic for poetry memorization in the intro to the book, along with including a Charlotte Mason like review chart. One of the homeschooling (or just educate your child well) must haves imho. We've expanded from there and the kids are currently memorizing poems for the Poetry Outloud  Competition as well as Horatius at the Bridge for the Churchill Challenge. (find out more about Horatius here).
Poetry includes learning about tropes (any literary or rhetorical device, as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony, that consists in the use of words in other than their literal sense).

Write Poetry- we've enjoyed using Matt Whitling's Grammar of Poetry for a clear, concise understanding of the forms of formal poetry. Great for use from 5th grade and up. Not only will your kids learn the forms, rhyme and rythem of poetry from this study but they will get great trope practice ; ).

Get literate -teach reading- use a good phonics based program- AlphaPhonics lover here, all the way, baby, in conjunction with Explode the Code. I'm not an advocate of better late than early. Think of all those delicious books you would miss out on by waiting however many years? Teach your kids to read between the ages of 4-6 and encourage them to read. Summer reading hours around here add up to 1-2 hours a day. If my kids aren't reading- daily, they don't use the computer. Words first, then pixels.
Write more.
Get Wordy- Expand your Vocabulary. Use big words when you talk to your kids; they'll learn by context and they'll ask for info when they want it. They'll understand that language usage is rich. They'll try out new words themselves. They'll make humorous mistakes (I always think of the scene in Star Trek IV movie when Spock keeps trying to emulate Kirk's usage of colorful metaphor!).

Get cosmopolitan- Study a foreign language. Vocabulary and grammar usage will increase with the study of a second language.
Double Negatives
Get Nerdy- Study Grammar. You can write well without understanding grammar but it's a sad fact of nature that you will write better if you do understand grammar.

i before e...grammar rules are from the dark side. And spelling.
Get Real -Turn off the T.V. and other electronic devices. There is nothing inherently bad in electronic devices as long as they are managed. If your kids interact only with electronics, and are not required to talk, in complete sentences with manners, with real, warm blooded humans- interactively, not just rotely, they will struggle with communication because they are being acclimated to interact with machines, not people, who are far more complex. Imago Dei, right?!

Pinned Image
Get Funny- Make humor a part of your daily life; riddles, puns, jokes, comic routines, humorous lines and scenes from books and movies- we recite and laugh at them daily in our home. Recently my 2 youngest have been on a Charlie Brown kick- they have read every book, watched every T.V. special and have internalized scores of funny lines and profound Charlie Brown truths. Comic books are great because they distill to the essence profound truth, wisdom and humor- think about it- 1-3 stills and the joke has to be set up and delivered. Not only that, but comics and humor are rife with literary tropes- they have to be because of the economy required. Great stuff, that.

Figurative Language Chart
Get Dramatic- I've written here and here about our on-going love affair with theater. Learning to perform is a great way to internalize the writing of terrific literary works (i.e. one of the reasons I LOVE Shakespeare Camp is because my kids own the play by the end of the week). To perform well one must understand the vocabulary, intent of the author, meaning of the entire play. We've done historical plays, plays based on poetry, humorous plays and Shakespeare plays. They have all helped our kids internalize what makes a piece good, mediocre or just plain bad, they have driven our kids to the original work being performed, they have expanded our vocabulary and rhetorical repertoire

Get Writing- most importantly, get writing. Writer's write. It's just that simple. Good writer's write a LOT.

(all pins from my Pinterest boards- check them out ; )!

A How To ________ Blog Cruise

Friday, November 9, 2012


Alrighty, then.
Rachel Marie
Congrats to our oldest and her fiance!

He's Just a Poe Boy

For my WWS Students this week. We are doing lit analysis of poetry, starting with The Bells.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fighting Faithing

We were hit with a hurt this week. A deliberate, on purpose, intentional hurt. It went deeper than a bruise or a cut, it was a heart hurt. I've struggled this week with doubt, anger, pain, anxiety, confusion and desperation. I have questioned how we've lived- yet again- why we work and belive in living with intention, integrity and respect,  homeschool, the sacrifices we've made, the lack of support, the ridicule, the difficult path we've chosen. Why sacrifice and live intentionally when the result is contempt and pain, the challenges unrelenting and the wins hard won, few and far between?

We have been fighting this week- spiritually fighting. My husband and I have been praying day and night- literally -as we've both been up late, up early and awake at 3 a.m. worried, hurting, desperate for God to show up and fix things. I'm a pray-er- at least I always was until 2 years ago. It's like the death of my Dad and the bitter disappointments that were left behind at his funeral dried up the wellspring of natural conversation I've always had with the Father. But I was getting back on my feet- feeling like I was finally standing on 2 again, a bit wobbly, but not shattered- for the first time since his death 2 years ago. But honestly, I kinda don't feel like praying so much. Like, really, if someone wants to make an idiot of themselves- maybe eternally- it's not my problem. They can pray for themselves, or just not, and suffer the consequences. After all, the people who have prayed consistently for me in life have been few and far between. Why should I bother? This person knows the Truth (at least they did) but they are willfully and intentionally ignoring it and touting the fact that they have done so; flagrantly living in a way that makes a mockery of the faith they claim to be living.

But that's just it, isn't it? The enemy of our souls would love it if we were bench warming believers. People who claim faith when their bills are paid, the kids buttoned up and pretty looking, their jobs in place and the marriages without conflict. Oh yeah. Faith. Faith without works is dead, baby and that's why Dr. Dh continually tells me that we are faithing. We are acting in faith, believing in faith, praying in faith, faithing in faith. Faith is a verb, and if it's not, if it's stagnant and just about putting on a skirt and shaking hands on Sunday morning, going through ritual and getting kudos without having a heart and purpose for God, than it's whitewashed sepulcher dead.

So we are fighting, in faith. Praying, in faith. Believing in faith. Faithing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hold Fast

About 6 years ago we found ourselves in a desperate situation, caused by fellow Christians who had deceived us. It was during that time that I fully understood the terror of a full blown panic attack. I woke up early one morning (like today) with this image in my mind and this song playing in my head.

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He's come to save the day
What I've learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast
(the rest of the song by Mercy Me here)
I always lose readers when I wax political but I have to say it. I feel a little sick this morning. This was an ideological election and it won out on the side of socialism. I am a huge believer in social justice and have put my time and money where my mouth is. That being said, I don't believe in big government, or an ideology that detracts from personal sovereignty. For me, it's all tied in with faith. When I committed my life to following Jesus as Lord it changed everything fundamentally, including my politics.

I'm not saying anyone has to be any particular party affiliation to be saved, I'm saying that there are certain benchmark issues that distinguish between voting for a culture of life, or a culture of death. Deuteronomy 30:19 says Choose Life! For that I'm accused of being a one-issue voter. To which I laugh. Um, yeah. I'm mandated as a follower of the Master of the Universe to be so.  LIFE (not abortion, just to be clear) is THE issue.

A young 30 something, politically savvy friend told me a month ago that I am grieving the republic that I grew up in. He and younger generations dont' grow up in it, so patriotism is a warm, fuzzy feeling, but not tied to anything tangible that they know. Oy vey.

Well, it is what it is. But it's going to be a bumpy ride. So buckle up and hold fast.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dear Mothers

File:Mother and child sculpture, Queen Square.JPG
Memorial for Andrew Meller by Patricia Finch in Queen Square, London

O dear mothers, you have a very sacred trust reposed in you by God! He has in effect said to you, "Take this child and nurse it for Me, and I will give you your wages!" You are called to equip the future man of God, that he may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. If God spares you, you may live to hear that pretty boy speak the gospel to thousands, and you will have the sweet reflection in your heart that the quiet teachings of the nursery led the man to love God and serve Him.

Those who think that a mother detained at home by her little family is doing nothing, think the reverse of what is true. Scarcely may the godly mother be able to leave her home for a place of worship; but do not dream that she is lost to the work of the church; far from it, she is doing the best possible service for her Lord!

Mothers, the godly training of your offspring is your first and most pressing duty. Christian women, by teaching children the Holy Scriptures, are as much fulfilling their part for the Lord, as Moses in judging Israel, or Solomon in building the temple!

-Christian Training of Children, Charles Spurgeon

Friday, November 2, 2012

Business as Usual

The hard drive in our computer crashed this week. It went in for open heart surgery on Monday and is still in Intensive Care. Woe to me. But that would also explain why I couldn't fix my header as well as a bunch of other snafoos along with why I've been posting so infrequently. Looking forward to a new, better, shinier computer in just a few days.

Horatius is cooking along. If you wanna know why you should care, read here. We've made it (read memorized) to verse 15 and the kids have the actual verses down solid. The transitions are a bit rough, still, but it's coming together. The study guide and vocab in the side-bars is invaluable and the kids have had a blast with the maps.

Cub knocked out The Trojan War while I wasn't looking, not even giving me enough time to dig out the MP study guide for it. He loved it. Feeche has The Iliad on CD, read by Jacobi, and he is going to invite Cub to listen in on it with him. Feeche's already thoroughly familiar with it, but it gives him a change to draw guilt free.
Everything else is cooking along; math, science, writing, lit, history, physics.

The first qualifier for the Poetry Outloud competition is coming up. Feeche has his 3 poems in place and memorized and meets weekly with a coach, who just happens to be an award winning forensics and speech teacher. She is the picture of generosity itself and has graciously donated her time to coach several kids who are competing from area homeschooling groups. SD has had a winner at the finalists in D.C. every year but the first.
 If you are looking for a fantastic rhetoric level event for homeschool or your community, check it out!

Lego League is cruising along. We are getting our solution nailed down. Dr. Dh was an expert witness guest speaker for one of our meetings and scientist and brilliant friend Mary Daly has also agreed to come and work with the kids. Excited about where we're going but feeling the time crunch.

Getting in more regular work-outs at our local gym. The elliptical is my machine of choice and, of course, who doesn't love weight lifting? My knees thank me. Really. In between the grumbling and complaining.


While the east was getting bombarded we were finally experiencing a bit of decent fall. A couple of gorgeous days found us at the park and in short sleeves.

Finished The Sins of the Fathers. Got to Sebastian and almost put it down but figured after 400+ pages I was going to finish it. Not a terrifically satisfying read as it ends tragically with the last 2 voices tottering on the edge of mental illness.