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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Microwave on High for 2 minutes.

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

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.


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 He is also reading through the Old Testament in chronological order and is finding this study very interesting.


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.


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.


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.


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.