December 30, 2008

Winter Scenes


Thinking 0f Winter today...it is supposed to be close to 70 here in Sunny AZ!

December 28, 2008

Arete Classical Studies Group

My reading group, Arete Classical Studies, is starting up it's spring 2009 reading program. It is a free group for slow readers (just means we do follow a schedule, but you are welcome to read at your own pace). This group is predominately Christian, but we are open to anyone who would like to read chronologically through the Western Canon of great literature.

Our spring study begins with the early Middle Ages and consists of Church History. You can read more at my blog: http://areteclassical.blogspot.com or join at the Yahoo reading group, http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/areteclassical

Here is the posted reading schedule for Spring 2009:

January 5 - Eusebius, book I
January 12 - Eusebius, book II
January 19 - Eusebius, book III
January 26 - Eusebius, book IV

February 2 - Athanasius, Intro-Chapter 4 (Eusebius, book V)
February 9 - Athanasius, Chapters 5-9 (Eusebius, book VI)
February 16 - Augustine, book 1 (Eusebius, book VII)
February 23 - Augustine, book 2 (Eusebius, book VIII)

March 2 - Augustine, book 3
March 9 - Augustine, book 4
March 16 - Augustine, book 5
March 23 - Augustine, book 6
March 30 - Augustine, book 7

April 6 - Easter break
April 13 - Augustine, book 8
April 20 - Augustine, book 9
April 27 - Augustine, book 10

May 4 - Augustine, book 11
May 11 - Augustine, book 12
May 18 - Benedict, Chapters 1-30 (chapters are very short)
May 25 - Benedict, Chapters 31-73

The online texts are linked from my blog. Please join us if you have a desire to read along with a discussion group.

December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We are spending this Christmas with my parents and parents-in-law. Christmas Eve will be spent with DH's parents and Christmas day with mine. My father had minor surgery yesterday and is out of commission for the festivities tonight (dinner and Church). We are hoping he will feel better tomorrow -- considering that I am making dinner (at my parents house).

Christmas at the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix
Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/old_man/2133395319/

This has been a really nice Christmas month. Normally, I find myself rushed and not in the mood to enjoy the lights, the music, and the gift giving. This year, however, it has been OK so far. Well, except for a slight mishap while hanging some lights (I slipped and put my hand through our front window -- no damage to me other than being scared by the crash -- but our window didn't survive!) I determined not to hang any more lights up after our $250.00 unexpected "Christmas House Present!" My son was not pleased. We always participate in our street's yearly house lighting stint. From the corner of our street, all the way up to the next block, every house has outdoor lights on. It is a big deal here in Phoenix, where we decorate our cacti and other desert plants. We seem to love Christmas lights in the desert -- I guess it takes the place of winter snow!

The real disappointment for this season was not getting to hear/see my son's Chamber group perform at our local mall. My son's teacher had to leave town to help care for a ill family member and the performances were cancelled. Somehow it just wasn't the same without the mall performance (though we are grateful that our beloved teacher is back home and all turned out well!)

I guess I would say that I am looking forward to 2009 right now. 2008 has been an OK year for us. After our very scary 2007, with DH being ill and all, this year has been rather low-key. Nothing has really happened, one way or another. It has been a steady year for business, a good year for home schooling, and a good year family-wise (no illness, no deaths, etc.) I am looking towards a new year, filled with hope and prosperity and plenty of God's goodness and graciousness.

May the Lord richly bless you this Christmas season and may He give you a successful New Year in which your thoughts, your time and your talents, turn heavenward to give Him the glory.

December 18, 2008

Graduate School

It is funny how your life can change from one moment to the next. Two weeks ago, I was resolved to continue on a certain path and today I am heading out into uncharted waters. The person I am today is completely different from the person I was just a few weeks ago. Sure, I am still the same person -- home schooling mom to one gifted student, website designer, wife, daughter/daughter-in-law and so on. Inside, however, I am changed. My life has taken a turn, one that was completely unplanned and unexpected. It wasn't a total surprize to me...in fact...it was something I had buried down deep in my heart over 15 years ago. A desire, a dream really. It was left unfulfilled while I took a different path...the one that has led me to this place today.

You might be wondering what is going on...what has changed? Well, I have decided to return to college and pursue my PhD degree. This has been a long-time goal of mine, one in which I had to put on the back-burner when I found myself pregnant with my only child, back in 1993. At that time, I was almost finished with my undergraduate degree and was contemplating graduate study. My professors were encouraging me to do it and I was testing the waters, trying the idea on to see if it was a good fit for me.

I cannot say really how I knew I was meant to go to graduate school, other than the obvious prodding and pushing by my college mentors. I had a still, small voice inside me that was championing me on as well, but I was mostly persuaded by my professors and friends (and family) who thought I should "do it." I wasn't sure myself, but I did go through the initial stages of finding out about it. I toured nearby schools, took the GRE test, and picked up applications from schools where I thought I might like to study. The one thing that didn't "fit" was the actual program of study. I was a Humanities major in college and loved my program. It was classically designed, with a touch of Charlotte Mason tossed in, and was the most interesting and engaging course of study I could have taken. I wanted to continue studying Humanities, but the schools nearest me didn't offer the same type of courses. I decided instead on Literary Criticism, but felt unprepared without a Masters Degree in English Literature. I kept looking and looking, trying to see how it might work until one day, quite surprizingly, I figured out that it wasn't meant to be.

I was 30, just about to graduate from school, and found myself pregnant. My DH and I had been married 9 years and wanted children very badly. None found their way to us and when we received the news, were overjoyed at the thought of having a baby. However, a baby and graduate school just didn't mix, they were like oil and water. I knew I could go on, put my son in daycare and focus on my goals, but this wasn't what I felt inside. No, inside I knew that I needed to be a Mom first, college student second (actually about 19th on the list!)

It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life...to put my graduate study on hold. The idea had taken hold of me and had put a spark into my heart. I felt so strongly that I was to go on to school that I spent most of my pregnancy in tears. How could this be? I believed in my heart that I was take care of my son, stay at home and be a full-time mother. How could I feel both things so strongly?

Well, 15 years have passed since that day and I have wrestled with graduate study off and on. I have laid that desire at the Lord's feet and given it over to Him again, and again, and again. I have chosen home schooling, being a wife and mother, over being a career woman. My goal back then was to become a college professor. My goal later on changed and I became a SAHM.

I started this post with these words....the funny thing....well, the funny thing is that my desire to attend graduate school has never waned. It has remained a desire in my heart for the past 15 years. Yes, the flame has remained a soft flicker, but nonetheless, it has remained lit. I cannot really say what happened to me and why now I am planning on attending school, other than to give credit to the Lord Himself. He has called me to do this and has given me permission to do it now.

This post is rambling, I know, but I am trying to piece it all together. How the Lord directed me to this program, this course of study, this path....now. Moreover, how He has led me to our local University where the program of choice just happens to deal with education and curriculum studies. Oh my....the current research being done at this University is centered on defining what makes a person educated (ahem, Miss Mason) and also considers the needs of students, both public/private schooled and home schooled! The Lord has landed me smack-dab squarely in the middle of a major University where I can study something of keen interest to me personally. He has opened the door and told me to walk through it.

I am still swooning over the realization that He has given me permission to do this and that this is something I really, really, really want to do. My head is full of details and still swims with questions of logistics. How will this come to pass? Will I be accepted? Can I afford this path?

For now, I am content to know that this is His will. It is the culmination of 15 years of longing, sighing, and wanting something that just wasn't meant to be. In His great mercy and with His loving compassion, He has permitted me to have the desire of my heart. God is so good. His mercy endures forever!

My life verse(s) is Psalm 37: 4-6

4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Praise God for He is So GOOD!

December 6, 2008

School Update

WOW! It is hard to believe that Christmas is almost here. This is my favorite time of year (also the time when I get the most depressed -- I love the season, but find myself sad a lot of the month). We have started to get ready for the holiday and have put up the tree and added lights to our house. Last evening, I was hanging lights in our front window when I fell and my hand hit the glass and shattered the entire pane. I wasn't hurt, more scared at the thunder of the glass crashing around me. We put up a temporary cover (cardboard) and will have to have the glass man out today to repair that window pane. UGH! So much for embellishing our holiday decorations. I told my son that I had enough and that there would be no more lights this year! Sigh!! DH said that maybe in a day or two, I would feel differently....well...we will see!

School is going well. We have just finished term 1 and so far so good. We are back to Ambleside Online, at least for our support system. I hope to use it again next year when we cover American History.

Some awards/achievements/announcements:

  • DS passed his Ham Radio General Class License exam in November. This was a HUGE achievement as the exam and prep class were very, very hard (some Calculus). The exam is one where you have to pass a minimum number of questions, rather than one where the best score counts. He passed and he is so pleased! He is now deciding whether or not to keep his current call sign or register for a vanity one.
  • Two holiday performances are on tap: December 20, DS performs along with Chamber members at the Arizona VA Hospital Nursing Home; December 21st, DS performs @ 4:00 p.m. along with Chamber at the Paradise Valley Mall (Tatum/Cactus Blvds)
  • DS saved his money and has recently purchased a Canon ZR-950 video camera. He is making movies and recording everything that happens around the house (even the window breaking event from last evening -- a reminder to him -- help your Mom FIRST before recording the story!!)
Well...sending you many wishes for a blessed Christmas season!

November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts


I was over at Walmart yesterday and noticed that the store manager went from Halloween displays straight into Christmas trees and lights. There was no hint or mention of Thanksgiving. It seems that Thanksgiving is something we all can miss -- don't forget the turkey on the way out -- but it really isn't that special, it is rather a boring holiday.

Not to me. Thanksgiving celebration is a time when families get together and enjoy fellowshipping with one another. It is an old fashioned holiday (like Christmas used to be) and reminds me of my childhood. We always looked forward to Thanksgiving. We made pilgrims in school, turkey handprints, and enjoyed those two days off school (a pre-holiday to get us excited about Christmas!) It was a happy time for me -- lots of good food, my Mom making dinner early in the morning, my Dad watching football on our brand new color TV (a big wooden box that Mom proudly decorated with festive candles).

It is a shame that commercialism decides what holiday's to keep in and which ones to let out. Thanksgiving is one that needs to be kept in and to be celebrated, especially in these times of economic uncertainty. I found this lovely painting online and thought I would post it here. It reminds me of what Thanksgiving should be all about -- thanking God for His providential blessings and mercy and grace upon our nation, our families, and our homes. No matter what trial we face, the pilgrims that gave thanks that first holiday, faced much more than we could ever imagine (death, famine, disease, harsh cold, just to name a few). They gave God thanks out of their simple reliance upon Him. He was the center of their hope and the recollection of His grace and mercy were never far from their lips.

God is so very good and His mercy and grace endure forever! Let us not forget to thank Him this year and remember just how much His providential care is needed in our own lives.

November 11, 2008

On Being Content


Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should some one ask, "Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?" His answer would be, "Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel." So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, "Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows." Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

"Trials must and will befall-
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all;
This is happiness to me."

Charles H. Spurgeon

October 14, 2008

Trusting the Lord


What more can one say?

I have been thinking a lot about trust recently. Well, to put it another way...the Lord has been dealing with me on this issue. There are some things going on in my life right now that require trust. I am being asked to trust the Lord and it is funny, but I am really struggling to do it. I trust the Lord for my salvation, my eternal destiny, my daily life. I just cannot trust Him to do what He has promised me, and it is causing an incredible amount of confusion in my life right now.

This morning as I prayed (yet again) for clarity, the Lord directed me to this blog post. I hadn't written anything below the picture and the tag line before, but am now expounding on it today. I went over to Dictionary.com to look up the meaning of the word "trust." Here is what I read:

trust

–noun
1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2. confident expectation of something; hope.
3. confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit: to sell merchandise on trust.
4. a person on whom or thing on which one relies: God is my trust.
5. the condition of one to whom something has been entrusted.
6. the obligation or responsibility imposed on a person in whom confidence or authority is placed: a position of trust.
7. charge, custody, or care: to leave valuables in someone's trust.
8. something committed or entrusted to one's care for use or safekeeping, as an office, duty, or the like; responsibility; charge.

Ouch! As I read down the list, it became very clear to me just exactly what I needed to do (or for that matter, just exactly what I needed to stop doing). My trust is placed in the Lord. I am relying on Him for many things. I have confident expectation that He will do as He has promised.

The matter for me is one of recognizing exactly WHO holds my trust. The Lord is who He says He is -- I AM WHO I AM. His integrity is without question.

The matter for me is one of recognizing exactly HOW the Lord will do what He has promised. In His strength He will perform (the zeal of the Lord will perform it) whatever He has declared to do.

The Lord is ABLE to do what He has promised. He is the Creator who called all life into being -- He is MORE THAN ABLE to do what He has said He would do.

The Lord is sure -- His word will not fail. He has promised to never lose me, never leave me, never forsake me. His WORD IS SURE.

My issue is whether or not I am willing to walk in faith and TRUST Him to do the thing He has promised to me. It may sound simplistic, but in truth, it is a very hard task for me.

I am obstinate, willful and stubborn. I want to trust the Lord -- but I do not do it -- because I want to trust myself. I want to rely upon His integrity, His strength, His ability, and His assurance; but, I am relying upon myself, my strength, my ability and my own understanding.

In short, I am not trusting the Lord at all...I am trusting in myself and in what I can perform.

I am a flawed and failed human being -- I cannot save myself nor can I help myself. I need Him to do this for me. I am determined to trust Him for today, for tomorrow, and for eternity.

TRUST IN THE LORD

He is able to do all that He has promised to do.

October 3, 2008

Thinking about fall...


I found this picture online at http://www.bardsmaid.org/foto/Wallpapers.htm and thought it was really cool. I love the mist/fog in the background. Anyhoo, I am wistfully thinking about fall and miss those cool October evenings. The weatherman has promised that our temperatures will drop to the mid-90s this week (one day even dipping into the mid-80s!) WhooHoo! Fall is finally come to the desert Southwest.

BTB - my son is leaving for a weekend campout. He will be heading up to the mountains for the Sr. High Youth retreat. They are expecting temps to drop into the 40s over night. I am sending him with a heavy sleeping bag, but he plans on wearing shorts most of the time. Go figure!


Easy Breakfast Quiche


My sister-in-law always made the best breakfast/brunch meals. When we lived near my brother's family in San Jose, CA, not a month went by that they didn't invite the family over for brunch. Besides her delicious scones, Joan often made quiche using flour tortillas instead of a traditional pie crust. I was thinking about her recipe the other day and wondered if anyone else out there used tortillas for a pie shell. Lo and behold, a quick search on Google produced a dozen or so results. This one is for an Asparagus Quiche (courtesy of Blue Heron Farm Bed and Breakfast), though any veggie would work.

Basic quiche recipe:

3 eggs, beaten
2 C milk
¾ C cheese

Any number of variations can be made from these three basic ingredients. When spring brought beautiful asparagus spears on the farm, we used them with Gruyere cheese for a delicious quiche:

About 12 good sized asparagus spears, or more if they are thin. Steam or microwave them - they need to be just semi cooked and still a bit crisp. Cut into ½ to 1 inch pieces. Sauté until semi translucent, about half of a chopped onion, or several chopped green onions.

Prepare the crust using four regular sized flour tortillas. Butter the quiche dish and place one tortilla in it to form the bottom. Tear the other tortillas in half and use the rounded part to form the sides. Butter the top sides of the tortillas.

Place the onions, asparagus and cheese in the prepared dish, add the milk and egg mixture. Salt and pepper if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees until set and crust is browned, about 20-30 minutes.

Hmmm...sounds delicious. I think I will make this for us tomorrow. I prefer Broccoli, Bacon and Onion so I will use these ingredients instead. Still...yummy!

September 18, 2008

Just another one...

Here is one of my favorites. This one was also on my son's computer (formerly mine). It was taken back in 2004 when my son was 11. Wasn't he adorable? I am posting this now because in 3 days that very same son will turn 15 and I think I am going to start crying about that. My baby is almost old enough to drive...aghhhh!

This photo is of three Davids: David Jr. (my husband), David Sr. (his dad), and D.J. (David-James). I have a copy on my entertainment center -- it really is one of my favorite pictures. When DJ was 5, we took a similar photo of the three D's. We are never sure if Grandpa will be with us for another year (due to his condition - stroke and failing health). Grandpa is visiting Missouri this week, so we will have to try and get a new photo of the three of them when they get home on Wed (next).

Thinking back...

DJ was cleaning off his hard drive today and found this picture of one of our cats. Peanut passed away shortly after this photo was taken. He had liver cancer and developed congestive heart failure. He retained fluid in his abdomen, which is really rare for cats. Typically, dogs who have this condition get "pot bellied". Cats tend to just have difficulty breathing. We had taken him twice to have the fluid removed and this picture was snapped shortly after the last procedure. He was 17 and it was Christmas.

It is funny because one of our current cats, Zachary, looks eerily similar to Peanut (facial expression). Zachary is 18 and has arthritis fairly bad and is very senile. We haven't put him down because he still wants to interact and socialize with the family. But looking at Peanut's face in this picture, I just think that Zachary is probably feeling pretty poorly now.

I don't know...this picture just made me sad. We did have 17 very good years with Peanut. He was the kind of cat that never seemed to get flustered by anything. He survived the Loma Prieta earthquake (7.1 in 1989) and after that shocker, would just ride the waves of all the other quakes and never even open up both eyes (the other cats headed for the bed, the dresser...anywhere they could hide). Peanut just laid there and took it all in stride. He was a magnificient cat in his prime -- beautiful, fluffy and the most delectible color of chocolate brown.

I miss him. He snuggled and loved to lay at your feet. He had a broken cry -- very little sound came out whenever he meowed. Just half-broken little cries.

This picture reminds me of my life and how it has changed (2004 to now). Lots of new things going on, lots of changes.

Thinking back...it can be fun, it can be sad. Most of all, it just causes me to thank the Lord for all the good He has brought into my life and all the happy days He has given me. God is really so very good to me.

Mug O' Cake

I got this recipe from Kathy at By Word of Their Testimony. I haven't tried it yet, but think I will this weekend. Enjoy!

Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake in the World

1 Coffee Mug
4 tablespoons plain flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
Small splash of vanilla

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well with a fork. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.

Pour in the milk and oil and continue to mix well.

Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake might rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

ENJOY! (This can serve 2 if you want to share!)

From Carol: my two cents additions...Add a small candy like a Butterfinger, Snickers or Three Muskateers to the cup. Top with whip cream and caramel sauce for a really disgustingly good treat!

Here is another similar recipe from eHow.com:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Microwave
  • 1 package instant pudding mix (4 servings)
  • Microwave-safe coffee mugs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Water
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 egg per serving
  • 1 package cake mix (18 ounces)
  • Powdered cocoa
  • 1 tbsp water per serving
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil per serving
  • 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar per serving
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder per serving

Step1
Combine the cake mix and instant pudding mix in a large bowl and blend with a whisk. This is the cake mix.

Step2
Combine the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa in another bowl and blend with a whisk. This is the glaze mix.

Step3
Spray the insides of microwave-safe mugs with non-stick cooking spray.

Step4
Put 1/2 cup of the cake and pudding mix in each mug.

Step5
Add 1 egg, 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon water to each mug then mix.

Step6
Microwave on High for 2 minutes.

Step7
Prepare the glaze by adding 1 teaspoon of milk per 1/3 cup of glaze mix.

Step8
Pour glaze over the cake as soon as you remove it from the microwave.

Psalm 55

Ever have a day when you wanted to just fly away and go someplace far, far from the hustle and hassles of daily life?

I was reading Psalm 55 today and as I was reading verses 6 and 7, my heart heaved a great sigh and I said "oh, yes!"

The psalmist is writing of a time when everyone has turn against him and his life is near breaking point. His enemies have mounted an attack and he is overcome with fear and dread for what might happen. Can you relate to his concern, dear friend?

The past couple days have been troublesome for me. Though nothing as difficult as David fleeing from his enemy Saul or sitting poised and ready for battle; I simply have felt anxious and fearful over some specific events in my life (small by comparison). Small, yet, still able to cause me to fear and to be anxious in my heart (and in my stomach -- right where all my anxiety seems to sit).

David, a brillant and gifted Psalmist, never leaves one of his poems as hopeless. He always is drawn back to the awesome and miraculous hand of God:

16 But I call to God,
and the LORD saves me.

17 Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.

18 He ransoms me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.

and then at the end,

22 Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.

Oh, that I had the wings of a dove and could fly away and find rest...yes...but I remember that my Lord hears me when I cry out to Him and that He cares for me. He will sustain me and He will not let me fall, whether in battle or the events of daily life.

God is so Good to me.

September 16, 2008

Week 2...

We finished up our week two and had good success. The only area where we seem to still have kinks is math and science. I have already budgeted for Apologia Chemistry and it is coming soon (hopefully by next week). I didn't plan on having to switch from MEP so soon, but I think we are going to have to change to a more student-led text. The GCSE material is very good, but it expects a teacher in the classroom, and is not really geared for independent work. The only caveat to this is unless the student happens to be very solid in math. My son is working on unit 1, indices, and did fine with lessons 1-5. Today, he attempted lesson 6, which deals with negative/positive exponents and he was clueless. The Algebra is intermediate, or at least, I think so. I might have done this level of equation (roots and such) towards the end of my freshman year...but...I don't think so. I think it was beginning of junior year, Algebra 2. Anyhoo, without explanation on how to do the problems (just worked solutions), neither of us were able to really understand the reasons behind the solution. So...I am off to preview other Algebra 2 programs, especially those with some visual component to help us along.

Psalm 52


1Why boastest thou thyself in mischief,
O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.
2The tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
3Thou lovest evil more than good;
and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.
4Thou lovest all devouring words,
O thou deceitful tongue.
5God shall likewise destroy thee for ever,
he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place,
and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.
6The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:
7Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength;
but trusted in the abundance of his riches,
and strengthened himself in his wickedness.
8But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God:
I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
9I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it:
and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

September 8, 2008

We survived week one!

Whew! Our first week is over and we made it!! After all the stressing and struggling to setup a schedule, refine our book list, and then get our materials together...we did it...we created our Y10 program and have jumped in.

We still have one missing book, namely Apologia Chemistry. I had to make some last minute changes (due to financial concerns) and wasn't able to purchase this book in time for our start last week. I used my old college Chemistry text (which I hated when I took the course) to get us over the initially couple of weeks. DH has given the green light for getting the CD version, so hopefully I can place that order this week. DS was really looking forward to Chemistry and I feel this is the one area we (meaning Mom and Dad) can't skimp on.

So far, though, the rest of our books and courses have clicked and are working out well.

Bible

DS is really enjoying reading Ussher's Annals of the World (online via Google Books) and listening to Max McLean read the KJV Bible on audio (through BibleGateway.org). He is also reading through the Old Testament in chronological order and is finding this study very interesting.

Math

We just started MEP GCSE yesterday (printer was down). DS likes this program and much of the first couple units are review. I think he will find it challenging as we get more into Algebra 2 and Trigonometry.

Logic

DS has read the first part of How to Read a Book this week and says it is "interesting." This is far better than when we tried to read this book in 8th grade -- then it was just "what?" Definitely worth waiting and big plus this year. In week 5, we will transition over to our Formal Logic study, which DS is really looking forward to starting.

Humanities - Ancient Civilizations

I was a bit worried about this year and whether or not DS could handle reading all these works. I am also doing something different this year. I am no longer giving him a daily "to do" list and am instead asking him to manage his own time. He was a bit hesitant at first, but after last week, told me that he really likes being able to read on his own (as much or as little). He has shown some maturity and I think he will do just fine.


Last week, he read The Epic of Gilgamesh and really enjoyed it. I picked up Streams of Civilization, Vol. 1 at our local Half Price books on Sunday and have since scheduled it in. I really wasn't going to use a text, but when I spotted it for $6, I thought it was a nice addition to our study. It will just give some context to our readings and will also fill in the gaps as we read through history using primary and secondary sources. DS also started Old Pagan Civilizations by John Lord, esq. (Beacon Lights of History) and is reading about Classical Greek Mythology. This will prep him for next week when he starts Herodotus and The Iliad.

Overall, our week went very well and DS seemed more interested and engaged in his study. He seems to enjoy the books and is actually interacting with them, far more than he did previously. I am sure it has to do with maturity and being 15 (compared to 12 or 13). There is something to be said about maturity and mental development. You just cannot rush these things and they seem to blossom when they blossom.

On to week 2...

September 3, 2008

Our Process

This year we are loosely following the Leadership Education model suggested by Dr. Oliver deMille in his book, A Thomas Jefferson Education. Our goal is to create a learning environment where great books are discussed and ideas are created.

"Leadership Education, which I call “Thomas Jefferson Education,” teaches students how to think and prepares them to be leaders in their homes and communities, entrepreneurs in business, and statesmen in government." Dr. Oliver deMille, pg. 21, 27

Our process, therefore, will rely heavily on reading and studying each book and learning as much from it as possible. To this end, we are working through Mortimer Adler's book, How to Read A Book, as well as spending a great deal of time reading classical works. We are also devoting a fair chunk of time to Traditional Logic studies, which will strengthen both the mind and the will to understand the complexities of the materials we are reading.

Daily

I have scheduled in two daily reading periods. I am estimating approximately 2 hours total (one hour each), though this will be very flexible and will greatly depend on the book being read. Some books will require less time, while others will need more. I have tried to keep the amount of reading consistent throughout the year and hopefully our book list will end up working with us and not against us.

Daily activity includes: reading, studying lessons, vocabulary, looking at maps, reading supplemental articles for analysis, and generally keeping notes on individual books.

The student is responsible for completing all assignments before the end of school on Friday. This year, the teacher is not breaking down the reading assignments into small, manageable chunks; but, rather is asking the student to manage their own time and budget it accordingly to make sure all assignments are completed.

Fridays

Every Friday we will meet to discuss the books from the week. Our discussion will include a summary or recap (by the student) along with any interesting observations or implied connections to other works from the week. We will use the Socratic Method for guided discussion. In this time-honored technique, the teacher asks a series of questions that lead the students to examine the validity of an opinion or belief. This is a powerful teaching method because it actively engages the learner and forces critical thinking, which is just what is needed in examining ethics, values, and other character issues.

The student will be required to submit his Ancient Civilizations notebook and will be graded on overall neatness and thoroughness of the contents. The student will be required to add to his notebook throughout the week and these papers will be checked for completion.

  • Context - These are short, one to two paragraph, pages that include background and summary information about the period being studied. We will use the Timetables of History for our source book. The student is to keep one or more pages for every book read. In some cases, the context page will cover several different books. The student may choose to write a context page on a specific topic in the period such as a person, key event or a general overview. A general overview page is required. The other pages are additional and are up to the discretion of the student.
  • Book Notes - note taking is an important tool in the learning process and as such we are spending a great deal of time learning how to take book notes. Our reference work is Mortimer Adler's book, How to Read a Book. Book notes are required for every book we read. They can consist of an outline, a listing of key events or a snippets of the plot of the book.
  • Compositions - weekly compositions will be required for each book. These may be 1-2 pages in length and will recap the story or will explore some specific point in the story, a key character or his/her motivation, or the student's observations/opinions about the book itself.

Psalm 34

1I will bless the LORD at all times:
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2My soul shall make her boast in the LORD:
the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

3O magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together.

4I sought the LORD, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.

5They looked unto him, and were lightened:
and their faces were not ashamed.

6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him,
and saved him out of all his troubles.

7The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him,
and delivereth them.

8O taste and see that the LORD is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

9O fear the LORD, ye his saints:
for there is no want to them that fear him.

10The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger:
but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

11Come, ye children, hearken unto me:
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12What man is he that desireth life,
and loveth many days, that he may see good?

13Keep thy tongue from evil,
and thy lips from speaking guile.

14Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.

15The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous,
and his ears are open unto their cry.

16The face of the LORD is against them that do evil,
to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth,
and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart;
and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous:
but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

20He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

21Evil shall slay the wicked:
and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.

22The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants:
and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

August 26, 2008

Looking Back

I started thinking today about our home schooling journey and started to recall some of the things we have done that have worked out great. I also was reminded of some of the things that didn't go over so well. I thought I would put together a list of some of our positive and negative experiences over the past couple years.

Things That Have Worked Well

These are just some of the things that have worked well for us.

MEP Math - MEP or Mathematics Enhancement Programme from the Center for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching (University of Plymouth in the UK). MEP was a real life saver for us. We found MEP after a rather terrible experience using Saxon math. We had tried a number of other free curriculum and nothing was gelling for us. My son was struggling to move past 6th grade arithmetic and into Pre-Algebra and just couldn't get passed the basics. He had been an all-star math student up to 7th grade and then just crumbled when he was asked to tackle some more difficult concepts. MEP offered him a way out, a fun way out, and gave him a love for math again. We successfully completed Year 7-9 and earned two high school credits: Algebra 1 and Geometry.

Rosetta Stone - we were fortunate enough to be able to use RS through our public library system. The cost of this program is prohibitive (nearly $300), but well worth every penny in it's approach to teaching language. We were able to study mulitple languages at a time when my son was very interested in them. He completed French I/II, German I, Latin 1 and Spanish I before our library's contract with RS expired this past June.

Good Books - when we started to home school, I was really torn between using textbooks or reading from library books. I had friends on both sides of the camp, some that used living books and some that used A Beka or Bob Jones. We ended up going the living books route and found a treasure trove of resources: Ambleside Online, Mainlesson.com, Project Gutenberg, An Old Fashion Education to name a few. We have used good books for almost 5 years now and have no intention of switching (nothing against textbooks -- we do use them for math and science!)

Mentoring the Classics - we favor a TJE approach (some Charlotte Mason too) to our schooling. We read great classics and then discuss them. The method relies on a mentor (teacher/Mom) and a student studying together. Though I do not always read every book my son reads, I do pre-read and pre-screen them, and would say I have read *most*, but not all of his reading list.

A Beka - We absolutely love A Beka science books. This is our fourth year using these books for science and so far we have not had one miss. We love the colors, the layout and presentation of the material, and the straightforward way the text is written. They are excellent books and the least boring textbook we have read.

Easy Grammar - The BEST grammar text we have ever used. We tried A Beka, Simply Grammar, Holt & Reinhart, as well as Kelloggs and KISS. Easy Grammar is just what the name implies -- one of the easiest systems for learning English grammar. It worked like a charm and even for this old Mom -- after 35 years of schooling -- I was finally able to learn grammar and enjoy it!

Things That Have Not Worked Well

Textbooks - well, except for math and science, we pretty much stay away from them. We used a full course of A Beka textbooks last year (for 2 months) before we had to send the DVD program back to the company. We continued to use Health, Geography and Biology, but the rest have sat still on our book shelves. They are boring and repetitive and do nothing to really excite our interest in the subject area.

Saxon Math - there is not much I can say about Saxon other than it just didn't work for us. It was dull, boring and repetitious. The explanations were convuluted and never quite made sense. My son loathed it and I finally gave up trying to use it after the umpteenth nuclear meltdown when trying a lesson. We ditched it and have never looked back.

Workbooks - these go along with the textbooks. We have used workbooks sparingly over the course of our home schooling. The only positive experience we had was with Spectrum Math for 6th grade. My son liked the way the lessons were laid out and blitzed right through this book. Of course, that just set us up for failure the following year when trying to step into Saxon. Generally speaking, we have used workbooks as little as possible, preferring instead to use a living books approach and TJE (Thomas Jefferson Educational method of mentoring) and classical education.

Classical Curriculum

As we approach the start of our school year, once again, I am changing our courses at the last moment. I start planning our year in the spring time and then revise and revise over the summer. Usually, it all will come down to the week before school begins before I actually have everything in place and ready to go. Most of the time, the culprit is money, or lack thereof. High school level texts are downright expensive, and even purchasing them used, can hit our wallet rather hard. This year, we will again choose to follow the "penny pincher" path to home schooling. No matter how hard I try, I seem to end up looking at the cost of books and find myself saying "why?" Why spend $100 on a science text when a practically good text sits on the shelf? Why purchase a math book when we can study the same material online for free?

I am frugal to the core and simply hate to spend money needlessly. The Lord knows that I am this way and He graciously provides the books I need each year. Most end up coming right off my bookshelves. A few will be picked up used or through our local Half Price book store. I don't mind really, and neither does my son. We actually like having a personal library in our home.

So to the point of this post...

After prayerfully considering our options for Year 10 (including World History and US History), the Lord has suggested a more practical approach: reading through a Great Books list. I have mulled the idea over before, but never thought my son was up to the challenge. He just didn't seem to have the "stick-to-it-tive-ness" necessary to read through a list like that. However, in the last year, he has really matured and developed quite a solid mindset, a good worldview, and a stalwart attitude about history. I am very pleased with his development and think he has what it takes to read through a Great Books list.

We only have 3 years of schooling left so I am going to ask him to read three periods instead of four. At first, I considered using Veritas' Omnibus I and IV and just combining the books into a one year course. But after looking through them, I realized that we had already read some of the suggested books. I also was struggling with how to organize such a day and how to make this approach as simple as possible for me. I am rather organizationally challenged these days. The more I attempt to get my self together, the more I seem to fall apart.

Today, while I was struggling over the books and how to schedule them out, the Lord suggested I look over another Great Books list. I had printed the Great Books reading list off of the Well-Trained Mind website a number of years ago. I had tucked it away in my school binder, thinking we might use it some day. Well, today was the day and I pulled it out and read through it again. Presto! Click! It all made such sense to me.

My plan is relatively simple. My son will read through the list for the next three years. He will keep a history notebook, divided into 3 sections (Context, Book Notes, and Compositions). He will use the Mortimer Adler reading method (suggested the book, How to Read a Book,) for taking notes and will read through the list at his own pace. If he wants to read fast, he can. If he needs to read slow, he can do that as well. It will be his job to finish this list before he graduates. No pressure. No timetable. No schedule. Just him reading 2-3 hours each day and completing the requisite math and science courses we choose.

I am so relieved. It seems daunting, I know, but I happen to have an exceptionally gifted student on my hands. I have tried Classical education, traditional textbooks and Charlotte Mason's methods and none have really worked for him. He consumes books and texts and can read books, difficult books, in less time than I can take to schedule them out. He has worn me out and I have run out of ideas on how to keep his mind active and engaged.

I told him today about our plans. He was pretty non-challant about it. He is that way because he would much prefer to not do any school and just spend hours programming the computer or creating mods for his computer games. This summer he has spent 7-9 hours a day programming and I decided enough! I am giving him so much work to do that he will not have time to do much of anything else. I know, it sounds brutal. It probably is, but I know my child best, and he works best when he is under the gun and has a boat load of work to do.

Case in point - his piano teacher assigned him the following tasks for the month of August. He returns to lessons next week and all of this has to be completed:


  • Memorize the 1st movement of Chopin's Sonata
  • Learn two Czerny pieces, #5 and 6
  • Relearn the piano portion of Vivaldi's Concerto for 2 violins
  • Arrange for 2 more violins
  • Write original composition for Chamber (piano, guitar, and 4 violins)
The funny thing is that this didn't even phase him. I just asked him how he is doing and he said he is finished and ready for next week's lesson. UGH!

Here is our reading list and instructions on how to keep a History notebook. I have also simplified our graduation requirements and boiled them down to a list of things to be accomplished by the end of Year 12. I am going to ask my son to complete the list and when he is done, he can be graduated from high school. I know...weird, huh? I guess it is self-schooling at it's best. I have stressed and labored over how to school my son and how to meet state standards, college admission requirements, and make sure we cover everything -- to the point where I am sick and tired of the entire thing. I just don't care that much anymore. Sure I care about my son's education and sure I care about what he is learning -- but I don't care about all the details, the hoops, and the levels we "must" complete. I care more about what he thinks and feels, than how many credit hours he has completed.

Afterall, this is why we chose to home school him in the first place. We placed a far greater amount of interest in what he was learning, than in how he was to do it. Somewhere along the line, I lost sight of our reasons for home schooling and got myself all twisted up with the details and stages of learning. I lost my love for learning and I think drilled some of that right out of my son as well. So...no time like the present. Time to learn, time to enjoy, time to live life again.

Update: September 1, 2008 I just finished typing up our revised school schedule. I have posted our weekly reading assignments to my website here. Feel free to click through and check out how we hope to do school this year.

August 6, 2008

Of Mice and Men, Part Two

The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men Gang aft agley

"No matter how carefully a project is planned,
something may still go wrong with it."
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy,
Third Edition.
2002.

I just posted the poem "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns (where his famous phrase, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" is from) because it got me thinking about how this is so very true. I have been working on my son's 10th grade curriculum for months. It is not unusual for me to spend a couple months each year, usually in the spring (initially) and then in the late summer, working out the details of our next year's program. This year, however, has been more difficult than in previous years. My son will start 10th grade and this year marks the final countdown, so to speak, for our home schooling adventure. I have three years to get him prepared for college and to make sure we have "crossed all the tees and dotted all our eyes." Credit hours and transcripts, courses and course descriptions...oh my goodness...there is so much to consider and keep in mind when planning out a high school program.

My son hopes to attend music college (probably a Bible college with a solid music program) and as such I need to make sure he is not only ready (academically), but also that he has taken the core and elective requirements necessary for acceptance. Every college has different requirements for admission, but most want to see a standard or traditional curriculum listed on the transcript. We don't follow a traditional textbook approach, so I need to make sure that what we do cover will match up to a college admission officer's scrutiny. I know that most colleges really want to see SAT or ACT scores (they use these as indicators of general ability) as well as a transcript that shows a student is well-rounded and ready for college study.

I know we will not have any issues on either point. My son is very smart and a good student. He is creative and gifted musically so he has many outside/extra-curricular pursuits. He is also articulate and well-versed in literature and history. He will do fine...


His mom, on the other hand, worries and frets (or should I say "sweats") over the details. Yes, I am very organized and a good planner. I am just not a detailed person. I tend to look at the "big" picture and gloss over the little details (knowing they will get done...eventually). Take writing for example. I have not spent as much time on our writing program as I should. I am not really worried about it though...I didn't learn to write well UNTIL I was in college (the fire and the frying pan) and I got very good grades. I don't plan on waiting until college, no...no...no. I am just not worried about it and know that we will make sure to cover all the important aspects of writing before he heads off to school. I guess I am more interested in seeing his mind develop and in knowing that he is developing critical thinking skill. We spend a great deal of time reading books (some day I will post our book list -- if not just to remind me of how much we have accomplished over the years) and then talking about them. We do a lot of hands-on work and 'real' life application. My goal is to present my son to the world as a well-adjusted, well-rounded, well-educated young man, ready and able to handle anything life may throw his way.

Nevertheless, big ideas and goals aside, those pesky details need to be addressed. I have blogged about some of our plans in previous posts. Most of that blogging has changed over the course of the past weeks and/or months. I have redefined our goals, changed courses, and generally, narrowed our options down to just the "nuts and bolts" of our 10th grade curriculum. It is a necessity, really; I mean, you cannot keep on going on the "big" picture. At some point, you have to come down to reality and figure out how you will get from point A to B.

So this is it...our plan for the fall. It is not too terribly thrilling and in many ways it does look pretty traditional. I am OK with that aspect because it does what it was intended to do: it moves us one step closer to Year 11.

History

This year we will focus on American History (1400-2000). Our spine will be A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. In addition, we will read a number of supplemental books (Slavery/Anti-Slavery and WWI-II) and study primary source documents.

English

English will coordinate with History (somewhat) and we will focus on the novel. I have several science-fiction/fantasy works scheduled along with one or two reality works (Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, for example). Included -- writing the essay. We will review Jensen's Format Writing and work hard at writing essays of various lengths (from 1 page to 6).

Math

We will use Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 this year. I have heard many good things about this program and we are going to give it a try. My son is a visual learner -- but the fact that this course work is designed for independent study -- is a BIG plus to me.

Science

I have finally broken down and decided to use Apologia Chemistry. I have debated over using AP science for years, simply because I never was impressed with their General and Physical Science texts. I also had heard how hard these texts are and thought that they would be too intense for my science-loving, but not math oriented student. However, I reconsidered using it this year when I read a review that stated that Chemistry, in specific, could be done independently. My son is very gifted and I like the fact that these books are written to the student. We are going to give it a try and it we have good success, will continue with Physics next year.

Foreign Language

We will use Tell Me More German, a four year program, to continue our language study this year. We have used Rosetta Stone previously (through our library), but I feel my son needs something with more tracking ability -- to make sure he is getting the material. I have heard great things about this software program so we are going to bite the bullet and purchase it for Y10-12.

Bible

We will study the Old Testament this year (New Testament next) using the CLP book, The Kingdom of God. I have heard that it is difficult and dry...but we will just read it as supplemental to our listening of the KJV on tape.

P.E.

Ugh! My worst subject in high school... We have to complete 1/2 credit in PE sometime before graduation. I am thinking we can do this if we are diligent to get out every day and run/walk or bike. It is not that big of a deal, but being that we all are "couch potatoes" even a little bit of exercise is work for us.

Computers

I am leaving this one up to my son. He has already covered Visual Basic and C++ for elective credit. I am not sure what is left for him to do (maybe SQL). LOL!

That is pretty much it. If you would like to see my high school program (a CM-inspired approach), you can read about it here:


It hasn't been updated to reflect our current plan, but it gives a good overview of "how" one might create a CM High school program.

Of Mice and Men, Part One

To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough
by Robert Burns (1785)

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An'lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Isn't is funny how we become accustomed to certain sayings yet we have no knowledge of where they came from or how they were meant to be used. I found myself saying "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" and thought "hmmm....I wonder who actually said this and what did it really mean?" So, thanks to Google, I googled it and voila! I found it!! It was the poet Robert Burns and he wrote it as part of his delightful little poem entitled, "To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough." It makes perfect sense when you read the entire poem.

August 4, 2008

Homeschooling Through High School

If you happen to read my blog (more than once), you will find that I tend to write a lot of posts about home schooling. It requires the lion share of my time and attention, and as such, is the "thing" I tend to focus most of my energies (both mental and physical) on each day, each week, and each month. I have home schooled since 2004 and believe it has been one of the most difficult thing I have done (except give birth) in my life. It is not easy to home school, despite what people say when you ask them "is it hard to home school?" Most tell you , "no" or if they are honest they will say "it is a challenge, but I am up for it." Home schoolers, in general, try and stay up beat and will usually take the "it is fun route" over truth-telling. This is because home schooling is still a minority pursuit and many, many, many people are opposed to the idea of doing it. Though home schoolers have made great legal strides and now have equal access to curriculum, to events and activities, etc., we still are often looked down upon or treated as second-class citizens. This post was not meant to digress into a discussion of home schooling....no, not at all. I just wanted to say that in being honest about it, I have found it very difficult to home school my child.

Performing "Ballade" by Brahms on August 2, 2008

That being said, said child will turn 15 in 45 days (yes, he is counting). He will begin 10th grade in the fall (September 2) and is actually looking forward to it (school, maybe; turning 15, definitely!) He has asked me to teach certain subjects, namely Chemistry; and, wants to continue his language study in German. I guess that does speak volumes. I don't know many high schoolers who are actually looking forward to taking Chemistry (I certainly did not) nor who are anxious and eager to continue foreign language studies. I guess I am fortunate to have a child who LIKES school.

My son has always liked school. He loved it when he could finally go to Kindergarten and loved every single year he was at the public school. Home schooling was our choice, his Dad's and mine. We took him out of public school for academic and social reasons in 5th grade and plan on home schooling him through graduation. I don't think my son really understood just how bad public school was for him. I know he suffered greatly with bullies and with being picked on daily. I think he looks back on it in hindsight and thinks it was a normal part of the experience. He wasn't the ONLY kid getting picked on, but he was our kid and we gave the school chance after chance to do something about it and they didn't, so we exercised our right to pull him from the school and took him home.

The academic issue was much harder to address and really is the primary reason we have chosen to home school. Our son is gifted academically and as a young student, struggled to fit into the classroom environment. Now as a teenager, he probably would do just fine in an honors course or enrolled at the Junior college. That being the result, of course, of 5 years of learning at home and maturing under our watchful care. He is by all accounts a very ready and able student. He will do well in college and we feel he is ready to handle all the unpleasantness of any college campus.

Back when he was 10, though, he didn't fare so well. He was skipped a grade (from 4-5th) and then by subject area into a 6th grade class. Academically, he did fine (all As). Socially, well...he got the brunt of the social injustice of the public school system: bullies and bullying. All this, simply because he was smart and gifted and able to compete with kids 1-3 years older than he was. Home schooling actually turned out to be a bonus for him. We felt we were sheltering him from the nastiness of the middle school years, when in turn, we actually were giving him the freedom to learn at his own pace and to develop primary interests (music, computers, programming) that have helped him become a well-rounded and dynamic young man.

Now as we approach 10th grade, our thoughts and our plans turn towards college. Last year, my big plan was to make it through our first year of high school. We put up with alot of questions, concerns, and downright antagonism to our home schooling through high school plan. It was tough and the microscope was on us nearly all the time (are you testing him? how will you know he passed his class? can you give him grades? Ugh!) We passed 9th grade with flying colors and are now ready to tackle some more "meatier" subjects: Algebra 2 and Chemistry. I have to admit that I am more excited about 10th grade than I have been about any of our other grades at home. It is something about the courses and the fact that my son is ready for them -- well -- it just makes me happy to be home schooling him.

A guitar duet on Seven Wicked Reels (with 4 violinists) on August 2, 2008

As I finalize our plans, I am settled in the knowledge that our son will graduate from our home school come 2011. He would like to study music and become a musician. We are thrilled with his desire to study music as he is a gifted pianist and can see him doing something with music and computers (his two great loves). I know that he has the skills to handle college classes and that he finally has developed some independence and responsibility, enough to ensure that he will be able to keep up with the demands of a college schedule and also the advanced coursework.

All in all, though our journey has been difficult at times, it has been rewarding and well-worth it. I do not think it was a mistake to home school when we did (5th grade) and am finally able to look back on those first few years and marvel at what we attempted and actually accomplished.

August 3, 2008

Praise the Lord.


Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.

2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.

3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,

4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,

5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.

July 17, 2008

Fat Cat Diet


I have a fat cat. In fact, he is VERY fat (a 15 pounder on my human scale -- and I know that it is off when I step on it --he has to be over that mark, for sure!) At first, we all laughed at him and called him "tubby" instead of tabby; but, now it is clear that he is not something to be laughed at. I was petting him yesterday and as he rolled over, I was shocked to see just how "fat" he was, especially in his tummy.

Gussy (or Gus - Asparagus) was a runt when we got him. He had been orphaned by his mother and he was barely 3 weeks old. I bottled fed him until he could eat mushy foods. I then kept him on formula for a bit longer than normal, simply because he appeared to have some palate issues (eating/swallowing). At some point, maybe around 3-4 months, he seemed to figure out how to eat and started eating everything in sight. He ate everyone else's food -- which is not a good thing when you have other cats who are very hungry. My other cats, Winston, age 1; and, Zachary, age 18; are not the kinds to be very pushy. If anything they are laid back and push overs. Gus stuck his nose in everyone else's bowl and the other guys would just let him get away with it. I know, bad kitten behavior. In a family of kittens, Gussy would have learned to share and eat his own food because his siblings would have stuck their noses in his bowl too. Unfortunately, Gussy learned he could eat whenever and as much food as he liked. So I have no one to blame but myself -- I have created a FAT CAT.

So, now I need a diet program that will work for him. I am hesitant to remove the free feed because my elderly cat is pretty scrawny and doesn't always eat when the others do. My middle cat is normal size. He is a big boy, but not overweight. I have switched bowls and put down three small bowls instead of the two connected jumbo ones I was using. I am also going to not allow them to free feed but twice a day. I have them on dry food -- cheaper on me and easier for us to handle -- and will not change their food yet. I think restricting food is first. I am aware that with cats, you cannot just change diets or else they can become very ill. I think slow restriction of food is the key (counting calories for a cat, so to speak.)

Oh well...we will see how it goes...

Ps. I will post a before and after picture of Gus later on.

July 16, 2008

Manna Every Morning

Exodus 16:21
They gathered manna every morning.

Labour to maintain a sense of thine entire dependence upon the Lord's good will and pleasure for the continuance of thy richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus, or thou art undone for ever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to thy spirit; thine head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory. To-day thou mayest be upon the summit of the mount of God, but He who has put thee there must keep thee there, or thou wilt sink far more speedily than thou dreamest. Thy mountain only stands firm when He settles it in its place; if He hide His face, thou wilt soon be troubled. If the Saviour should see fit, there is not a window through which thou seest the light of heaven which He could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of thine heart, the light of thine eyes, and the strength of thy life; in His hand thy comforts lie, and at His will they can depart from thee. This hourly dependence our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize, for He only permits us to pray for "daily bread," and only promises that "as our days our strength shall be." Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to His throne, and constantly be reminded of His love? Oh! how rich the grace which supplies us so continually, and doth not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases, the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our habitation. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Thy feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without Thee, and in every favour which we are privileged to receive, we would adore Thy blessed name and acknowledge Thine unexhausted love. ~Charles Spurgeon

Dearest friend,

Have you ever experienced a loss of the Lord's presence in your life? I have and I can utterly concur when Mr. Spurgeon says "if He hide His face, thou wilt soon be troubled." I recently experienced such a moment and can tell you how troubled I felt. It was as if all at once I was washed swiftly away from His abiding sense of wellness. I say it this way simply to convey that for me, when I am in His presence I have an abiding sense of "all is well." I feel as though I am sheltered and protected and that no matter what the world might toss my way, I am safe in my loving Father's arms. I have felt, I mean felt, it when He looks away. It is an awful, sinking feeling and the best words to describe it are "utter darkness." I am alone, not just alone like I used to be before being saved, but alone in the sense of "knowing" there is more and I am now on the outside peering in. Thankfully, repentance and confession are the tools of God's marvelous Spirit, and once broken and contrite, the believer quickly recovers and find him or herself back in the blessed "wellness" of the Father's care.

I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee, my Lord;
I love Thee, my Savior, I love Thee, my God;
I love Thee, I love Thee, and that Thou dost know;
But how much I love Thee my actions will show.

I’m happy, I’m happy, oh, wondrous account!
My joys are immortal, I stand on the mount;
I gaze on my treasure and long to be there,
With Jesus and angels and kindred so dear.

O Jesus, my Savior, with Thee I am blessed.
My life and salvation, my joy and my rest.
Thy Name be my theme, and Thy love be my song;
Thy grace shall inspire both my heart and my tongue.

Oh, who’s like my Savior? He’s Salem’s bright King;
He smiles and He loves me and helps me to sing:
I’ll praise him, I’ll praise Him with notes loud and clear,
While rivers of pleasure my spirit shall cheer.

July 10, 2008

Are You a 1930's Mom?

70

As a 1930s wife, I am
Superior



Take the test!



I found this while blog-rolling today. It is kind of cute. I probably would have scored higher, but some of the questions just didn't fit me at all so I left them unchecked. Oh well...LOL!

July 6, 2008

O for a heart to praise my God

O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free,
A heart that always feels Thy blood
So freely shed for me.

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer’s throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.

A humble, lowly, contrite, heart,
Believing, true and clean,
Which neither life nor death can part
From Christ who dwells within.

A heart in every thought renewed
And full of love divine,
Perfect and right and pure and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine.

Thy tender heart is still the same,
And melts at human woe:
Jesus, for thee distressed I am,
I want Thy love to know.

My heart, Thou know’st, can never rest
Till Thou create my peace;
Till of mine Eden repossest,
From self, and sin, I cease.

Fruit of Thy gracious lips, on me
Bestow that peace unknown,
The hidden manna, and the tree
Of life, and the white stone.

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart;
Come quickly from above;
Write Thy new name upon my heart,
Thy new, best name of Love.

~Charles Wesley, 1742

July 4, 2008

Independence Day 2008!

We are looking forward to seeing fireworks later tonight -- that is -- if it doesn't rain on us! We are just into our monsoon season and the threat of lightning and rain is always present. Last evening we had a powerful light show for about 2 hours. We get amazing cloud-to-ground lightning and it is very dangerous. In one hour, we had over 800 strikes in our area. Hard to believe that no one got hurt and no houses caught fire. My son took some awesome video of some of the strikes. I will post it as soon as he gets it off his camera and onto the computer. Anyhoo, BBQ with the folks, some swimming and then fireworks. That's the plan for this Independence Day 2008!

July 3, 2008

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

This is my favorite hymn -- I seem to hum it all the time. I never can remember the words, so I just sing what I can recall and then hum the rest. It is a grand vision and reminds me of how great a calling I have received. He is my vision, my hearts true delight. I am nothing; He is everything.


High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.