Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Love Lite

The intensity of love frightens me sometimes, it not being safe or tame. But to avoid it is to slowly expire.

(No, I don't know where I am going with this. I don't even know how to categorize the post. But I seem to have love on the brain lately.)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Love and Words

Very often, when Mr. Honey gets home from work, I am so glad to see him that I forget to ask or tell him important things. This has been going on for years, so when I have something important, I tend to call him at work and tell him.

When I get him on the phone I generally forget all but the first thing I need to ask or tell him. I will say, "There was something else... I can't remember what I was going to tell you!"

And he will say hopefully, "That you love me?"

Now. That comment has always bothered me for some reason, and made me feel guilty in addition, as if I wasn't going to say "I love you" at the end of the call. And when I feel guilty about not doing something I was already going to do, I become irritated. But I have always ignored the irritation because it's such a silly little thing. I never even mentioned it to Mr. Honey. And we have continued on with this script, until today.

Today I did my typical, "I can't remember what I was going to tell you," and he said, "That you love me?" and something clicked for me. I realized why it bothered me.

So I said, "No, that is not it. I do love you, but my love for you is never the 'something else'. It is ever-present. I am loving you so hard that it supercedes all this other stuff we have to talk about and it is so brilliantly evident in my own mind that I never need to put it on a list of things to tell you. All of our conversations are about how much I love you-- it permeates everything. The words to tell it simply pop out at the end. In my mind, our love is the Main Something, and the other stuff I am obliged to discuss with you is just on the sidelines hoping to get some notice."

Of course he got all mushy.

(Okay, and I'll confess, for the sake of blogging honesty, that these are not the exact words I used to explain. This is the gist. I was so excited at the epiphany that I went on and on about it, and took tangents and such. He was interrupting me with his mushiness by the time I stopped for breath.)

(And isn't he sweet to put up with my frequent exclamatory epiphanies?)

Sunday, July 22, 2007


We have been gone for the past ten days to a singing school. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and are now thoroughly tired. Mr. Honey sat in the adult class and learned more in a week than he has learned in his previous ten years of singing school. I had the blessing of teaching a sweet and delightfully responsive set of 8-to-11 year olds. All three of the girls enjoyed the freedom of roaming the camp with friends in between learning do-re-mis and participating in chore assignments.

But it is good to be back. Living in a tent that long really makes me appreciate four sturdy walls and a solid roof!

On another subject, I never did give an update on Mr. Honey's knee. He had tests and things and thankfully he will not need surgery. It appears to be a strained ligament and nothing is torn. He is already feeling better. A week of sitting in class rather than crawling around, under and into dish machines surely helped the healing process.

And here is what we found at home:

A Large Spider's Web

This spider had a large, multi-orbed (is that a word?) web that extended from the downspout near our back door down to the ground. It was connected on one side to a blade of grass:

The Line to the Grass

(This is what happens when there are no girls playing in the backyard for over a week.)

And we also found a little frog, cousin to the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of little frogs that entertained the kids out at the singing school all week:

a little frog

(By Thursday, the mothers had decided to stage a "Free The Frogs" protest, which was wholly ineffective, but a lot of fun.)

With our family trip behind us, my thoughts are turning toward organization for the next school year. This past year, though productive, was not well organized at all. I am still looking for the happy medium between being scheduled and stressed, and knowing where we are going but not keeping organized about it. What I really want to do is rest in the Lord, make plans, and move forward in an organized manner, with a prayerful eye toward sidetracks. I can feel that I am getting a little stressed about organization right now, and that means I am not resting in Him, but relying on my own control. I guess a little more prayer is in order.

Before I can get deep into planning once again, we must get our house back in order from our trip. And I still have four photo albums to fill with old pictures.

So that is where I am tonight. It is good to be home. I have actually gotten excited at the prospect of clean towels.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Time and Eternity

In the last seven days I have organized 2,700 photos into nine albums.

I also read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis this week. I was struck by the idea of God not being bound by time, and being able to view every moment of time in our world simultaneously, especially since I have 2,700 pictures floating around in my head after the last seven days, which seems like a lot to me until I contemplate having every moment in history floating around in my head. I cannot imagine what it is like for God to be able to see everything all at once, but it sure gives me a clue to His power and majesty.

Just think, the Lord has the ability to listen to every live performance of Handel's Messiah that was ever made, all at once. Live. Or He can pick and choose which particular performances to overlay. (I don't know if He does things like this, but He could do it if He wanted.)

Or He could isolate and magnify every prayer that one person has uttered over a particular struggle.

He can look at each one of my children from babyhood through adulthood, at the same time. He can see a teenager's heartbreaking angst, while also watching the man or woman he or she will become.

The really amazing thing is that although He has everything at His fingertips, all at once, He is not in the least befuddled by it. He can give an eternity of attention to just one prayer, just one single song, without being bothered by distractions.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wildflower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

--William Blake

Monday, July 09, 2007

Photos VI

"Why is it that life looks so much better on paper than in real life? Because I know I wasn't smiling every minute when I was this age."

Triss wrote on the photos at her blog today. I filed 1999, and she made the comments. Between filing pictures, reading books for next school year and cleaning out the corners of the house, my mind is befuddled and muddled. So see her for mud and log cabins.

Photos V, IV, III, II, I

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Photos V

(Photos I, II, III, IV)

I filled albums with 1998 today. It took over two hours and filled two and a half albums!!

It is funny-- Triss was three and turned four that year, and Mariel was a baby and turned one. When I think of that time in our life, I remember how spent and tired I always felt and the struggles we had to make ends meet. But when I look at these pictures I see how beautiful the children were, and how many good times we had. And the few pictures of me show a happy young mother. I don't even have bags under my eyes. I'm glad we have the pictures.

I only have one album left, and ten more years to file. 1998 was clearly the tallest stack, so I don't think I will fill more than one album with any other years.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Unabashed Enjoyment

"The Wart did not know what Merlyn was talking about, but he liked him to talk. He did not like the grown-ups who talked down to him, but the ones who went on talking in their usual way, leaving him to leap along in their wake, jumping at meanings, guessing, clutching at known words, and chuckling at complicated jokes as they suddenly dawned. He had the glee of the porpoise then, pouring and leaping through strange seas."

-- The Once and Future King

You know what I like about homeschooling? I like that the kids can get excited about learning without feeling like they have to be expert, or at least A students, in order to appreciate it. So many times in school, I felt a little like I didn't have permission to enjoy things that were challenging-- especially since I was not in the gifted and talented or honors classes, where the blessed few were given leave to ponder complex ideas.

I even felt a little guilty for enjoying my classes if I wasn't getting really good grades in them. For instance, we read Catch-22 in high school. That book was very difficult to understand. (I am not necessarily recommending it to anyone, it's just part of this anecdote.) I enjoyed having my mind challenged like that, but I really didn't get the book. I struggled to understand, and got poor grades on quizzes and essays. The grades certainly put a damper on my honest efforts to stretch my mind. (It would have been nice if the teacher could have measured my effort rather than how I compared to her standard. I am sure I would have gotten an A then.)

I really liked thinking so hard in that class, but I always felt guilty, like I ought not to be enjoying it because I was not getting an A.

That is foreign to my kids' way of thinking. They learn with unabashed enjoyment. And I never want that to change. On the contrary, I want to encourage them with great literature, and to give them the tools to unlock those hard books.

Good books are over your head; they would not be good for you if they were not. And books that are over your head weary you unless you can reach up to them and pull yourself up to their level. It is not the stretching that tires you, but the frustration of stretching unsuccessfully because you lack the skills to stretch effectively. To keep on reading actively, you must have not only the will do to so, but also the skill-- the art that enables you to elevate yourself by mastering what at first sight seems to be beyond you.

-- How to Read a Book

Inspired by this post.

Prayer Request

Mr. Honey officially has a sprained knee, complete with brace and crutches. And pain medication. He went to bed early tonight. Please pray for him. He will go to see the ortho after the weekend.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Photos IV

Photos I
Photos II
Photos III

(I guess I should come up with a more imaginative title, if only to amuse myself.)

I got the 2002 photos into an album, but, strangely enough, I have pictures of two of our daughters in California in the spring/summer, but none of the rest of us. I am trying to figure out if perhaps my grandparents' armchair, which features prominently in the two pictures, was given to my parents and I just didn't notice. It really does look like the stucco on their covered porch, though. We did go to California in the autumn of that year, but I know these photos are not from then, because Mariel's hair is longer.

(Hair length, eyeglasses, even Old Navy flag t-shirts, can all help in the quest for the year the photos were taken.)

Also, I got halfway through loading the pictures into the 2002 album and realized the Singing School photos in the stack were actually from 2001. Singing School is in the summer, which means I will have to shift all the autumn and Christmas photos for 2001 in order to fit these photos into the other album in the right order. I am not using the 3-ring binder type albums. But they are archival quality.

Photos III

(Photos I, Photos II.)

I chose 2001 for my first photo album, because Cornflower had joined us by that time, and the girlies were just so cute! We went to Louisiana with my grandparents that summer, and spent New Year's in Florida at Daytona Beach.

I also know that Cornflower's hair had not yet grown long enough to curl, because that was the only way I could tell whether some of the shots were from 2001 or 2002.

I don't know if I got everything ordered right, but I am trying not to be too concerned about it. My mom said she would look at the albums and let me know any glaring inconsistencies (she is really good at this sort of thing), and I can always rearrange the photos later. At least we will be able look at the pictures without mixing them up, and maybe later the girls will enjoy putting together their own scrapbooks using copies of these photos. I guess I am simply filing the photos for now.

Also, just in case one of the eight people who read this blog is thinking about organizing her own photos, a word of warning: if you have daughters, please be prepared for a lot of laughing, teasing and loud outbursts of "Aww!" It is just going to happen.

Also, they ask funny questions like, "Did you really dress like that Mommy?"

But I also discovered an unexpected perk: "Is that you? Wow, you looked beautiful, Mom."

Photos II

Always date your pictures.

(Date-stamping is my new best friend.)

If you don't have an acid-free quick-drying pen with which to write on the back of the picture, a number 2 pencil is supposed to work just as well.

More information here.

I am almost done stacking my pictures according to year. Then I will have to choose one year to organize by season or month. How to decide?


Today I woke up with a bee in my bonnet about my boxes of pre-digital-camera photos. I am putting them in plain albums so we can at least look at them without getting them out of order. (I do not scrapbook. I have too many photos and not enough patience to feel good about scrapbooking.) I have album space for 1800 pictures.

I hope it's enough!

There are three boxes-- you know, the kind of boxes that people pack books in when they are moving. The photos span from the time Mr. Honey and I got married through this year. Most of them are not at all marked. I stacked some of them and labeled the stacks a few years ago, but that box fell apart when I got it down this morning. I managed to salvage portions of the stacks, so those pictures are still kind of grouped together.

This is not really my idea of a good time. It would be fine if all I were responsible for was exclaiming over the photos. I do that job real well. But I actually have to put them in proper order, label them, slide them into sleeves and have a tidy looking area at the end of the evening. That is the part I dread.

So this blog post is for accountability and a little fun (and maybe some commiseration, hint, hint..). Hopefully, I will have my albums filled in the next day or two. It shouldn't be too hard if I just make myself do it. Maybe I will post updates as I go.

Okay! No more blogging! Get to work, girl!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Area of a Circle

Triss uses Scott Foresman's Exploring Mathematics currently, and is working like fury to get through the 6th grade book before September so she can begin the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project's Transition Math text (also put out by Scott Foresman).

Today the lesson was an introduction to finding the area of a circle, and I really appreciate the way the authors laid out the explanation of the formula. I do not remember ever coming in contact with this kind of explanation or reasoning for formulas in my own math books when I was in junior high and high school. (I am of the private opinion that I might have been a math person had I had the right math teachers in school-- there is so much about math that pleases me when I finally get concepts. I coulda been a contendah! But I digress.)

I want to share their explanation:

First off, Ivey had to make a circle with a radius of four inches out of construction paper. Then she drew eight diameters through it at regular intervals. After that she cut it into "pie slices," for lack of a better description, and ended up with sixteen slices of circle. Then she was instructed to lay the slices out in a row, alternating top to bottom, so that they made a rough parallelogram.

Now here is the cool part.

They had her measure the base of the "parallelogram" and compare it to the circumference of the circle (at this point she wanted my help, and we got roughly half the circumference). Then they had us measure the height of the "parallelogram" and compare it to the radius of the circle. They were equal. Then they led us through the reasoning process that begins with the formula for the area of parallelograms, and ends with the formula for a circle. I really got excited at this point because I had never realized those two formulas connected. Here is what it looked like (I'm writing it in words below each equation to help non-math folks-- me-- understand just how cool this is):

Area = base x height
(The area is equal to the base plus times the height)

Area = (1/2 x C) x r
(Since the base and height of a circle is very difficult to measure, we have to take the circle apart and make it into something easier, ie., a parallelogram. And look! the base of the resulting parallelogram is equal to half the circumference, while the height is equal to the radius. This means that within the equation for area, we can substitute half the circumference for the base and the radius for the height. Then we won't half to continue cutting circles into pie slices and fitting them into paralellograms each time.)

A = 1/2 x (2 x pi x r) x r
(But that is a cumbersome equation because we still have to figure out the Circumference before figuring out the area. So let's take the equation for circumference, which is 2 x pi x r, combine it with the rest of the equation, and simplify it.)

A = pi x r(squared)
(Since 1/2 x 2 equals 1, and 1 times anything is equal to the anything, we can cancel out the 1/2 and the 2. Then we have pi x r x r. r x r is the same as saying "radius squared", so let's just say that. Voila!)

Pi times radius squared is the formula for circles I know from school, but I never learned how "they" decided it was the magic formula that would always result in the area of a circle. To have a math book appreciate the innate intelligence of regular students enough to explain where a formula came from is inspiring. It helps a person begin to realize that perhaps math is accessible after all, though it is also challenging.

(And yes, I know I am a geek. But I like it.)

Monday, July 02, 2007

A Mind At A Time, Ch. 3A

Chapter Three is called "Conducting a Mind" and is about attention. Dr. Levine has a phrase for someone with an attention dysfunction. He says they have inadequate brain leadership.

Attention controls help students to focus on the task or thought at hand rather than whatever flits across their minds. With weak attention controls, their thoughts are blown about as by the wind, and head in first one direction, then another, at the mercy of circumstance.

Some attention techniques:

1. Whisper directions to yourself as they are being given, to be sure you are listening carefully,

2. Go back over all your work to check for errors,

3. Ask yourself questions like, "What's the best way to do this?" or "Is this the best thing to do now?"

One thing I appreciate about Dr. Levine's discussion on attention-- he does not want to lump all children with attention struggles into one group. He uses two children as examples in this chapter, and they are different. One is a child who frequently disrupts class, and emphatically marches to the beat of his own drummer; the other is a child who is quiet and compliant, but struggles greatly with focusing her attention enough to write on a subject.

He speaks of the different processes encompassed in writing a composition:

You have to slow down, plan, organize your thinking, pace yourself, watch what you're putting on paper, and pay attention to all kinds of small details all at once (such as punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and use of grammar). (p. 55)

His recommendations for someone who struggles with writing is to do each thing in steps, with breaks between: brainstorm, write down key ideas, organize ideas into proper order, write a rough draft, and finally write a draft that is neat and spelled/punctuated correctly.

Dr. Levine points out that the performance of a child with attention troubles is inconsistent, erratic. This can be a cause of frustration for the child, parents and teachers. But children with these difficulties are often refreshingly original, interesting and extraordinary in other ways. Because of these traits, Dr. Levine theorizes that they must be wired differently, rather than having an actual dysfunction.

There are three different forms of attention control: control over mental energy, control over intake (of information, etc.), and control over output (of work/behavior).

Mental Energy Controls

A. Alertness Control: The ability to remain alert when necessary-- this can be helped by quietly tapping the child as she zones out.

B. Mental Effort Control: Apparently making an effort to do something you don't want to do is easier for some than others. I am not sure I agree with this. Doing what is right because it is right is a habit, and if it has been learned, it ought to be automatic. Admittedly, I have not studied neurology, nor medicine or psychology of any kind, other than Psych 101 in college. And in Dr. Levine's defense, he does point out that a good work ethic established at home will make mental effort easier. Sounds like habit to me.

C. Sleep-Arousal Control: Dysfunction of this control means dozing when you should be awake, and staying awake when you should be sleeping. Again, strict habits of sleeping and waking ought to be established.

D. Consistency Control: Being reliable, or not. Dr. Levine tells a story of a man who made his life accomodate his unreliability. He made money building and selling beautiful furniture, but built it on his own schedule, sleeping in when he wanted, taking days off, and then working like fury when he felt like work. It's a good thing he felt like working some, and had had the tenacity to learn his trade well before allowing himself the freedom to work or not!

The Intake Controls

A. Selection Control: This is choosing what to pay attention to. The uproarious boy Dr. Levine referred to as one of his two sample children at the beginning of the chapter described his struggle, "You know, my head is just like a TV set, but I have no remote control for it, so I get all the programs on my screen at the same time." This can occur in one of two ways: either the child pays attention to useless input such as irrelevant noise or visuals, or else the child pays attention to the input he needs, but focuses on unimportant aspects of that input. Deciding what is important and unimportant is vital. Some kids are even distracted by their own memories, or by thoughts of the future. As kids with selection control problems get older, they have a hard time determining the key points of a lesson, which can really hurt in high school and college. I think consistently practicing narration ought to help quite a bit with this. Some other things he recommends for kids with these kinds of struggles are to consciously practice taking notes, highlighting their books, assigning importance to the input they receive. One teacher had his students summarize an article in a hundred words; had them shorten it to fifty words the next week; and finally had them drop it to a twenty-five word summary, completely distilling their ideas. I remember doing this in high school English class. It was so difficult. And I am attempting something similar with this book!

B. Depth and Detail Control: Preventing input from going "in one ear and out the other." People like this tend to get the big picture, but miss out on pertinent details. They leave out substantives (names, etc.). I would guess these folks use words like "stuff" and "things" a lot. An opposite problem is allowing details to penetrate too deeply. This causes a person to think too much. Kids like this are painfully slow at getting work done, preoccupied with every little detail. It seems one must strike a balance. All of this appears very subjective to me. It really depends on what the teacher wants in a class, doesn't it? Perhaps the child is meant to think deeply on a particular subject, but the class does not delve that deeply; is the child wrong? Kids must abide by the standards of the teacher or else risk a poor grade. I know we are all thankful that Einstein thought as deeply as he did, although it did not help him in class!

C. Mind Activity Control: Connections, connections. An active mind is constantly attempting to connect what it is learning to what it already knows. A passive mind allows new input to "bob around on the surface," seldom connecting to anything else. But even active minds have to beware-- if the mind is too active, it produces a wave of connections that are only meaningful to the individual-- speaking of a princess reminds a child of Cinderella and the glass slipper, and then she remembers she got new shoes yesterday, which reminds her of the ice cream flavor she chose when they got a treat afterward-- "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" kind of stuff. Often, kids like this have great imaginations. They just need to train themselves to take their mind journeys at times other than class time.

D. Span Control: This can be not focusing long enough, or focusing too long-- for instance, if a child has trouble transitioning from playtime to dinner, or from dinner to homework. Working with a timer, allowing the child to know how long a task will take, is very helpful for kids like this.

E. Satisfaction Control: This one makes me laugh. If only we all had better satisfaction control!! O, what a world this would be! But seriously, these are the kids who crave excitement, who find it hard to be satisfied with daily existence. Insatiability. Dr. Levine recommends that these kids be allowed to pursue their own interests outside of class, within reason.

Are you still with me? I know this is a long post. I have two more sections to summarize, but I will put those in a second post.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I Love To See The Lord Below

The DHM has linked to a couple of articles on praise music v. hymns at the bottom of her Sunday Hymn Post this morning, and I really do appreciate those articles. We are hymn-only, no-instruments-in-church type folks, and I truly appreciate the attempts of folks outside our tradition to nail down what is irksome about praise music. It does not come across our radar enough for us to say.

Patrick O'Hannigan at The Paragraph Farmer presents a Catholic's point of view on this kind of music. When I came to his take on how praise music came to be, I knew I had to blog about it:

They simply wanted to "reach people where they're at," and figured that grand old hymns had to go, if for no other reason than that they harkened back to the days of what singer/songwriter John Prine called "stained glass in every window, [and] hearing aids in every pew."

I wish some church music ministers had been at the church meeting we attended this weekend. Although not large by mainstream Christian standards (I'm guessing around 250-300 people attended), there were folks with wheelchairs and hearing aids, yes-- but there were also couples with infants; mothers toting toddlers; schoolchildren with their parents, grandparents, cousins and friends; teenagers congregating in various pews; and even young unmarried adults-- some, college students, others young working folks.

And they were singing loud. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't shouting or poor quality noise. It was a unified swell of song that rung to the ceiling and out through the cracks in the doors. And I am not talking about a few strategically placed well-trained singers. Even the little children and old folks were getting after it. These folks are trained, all right-- in a strong congregational hymnsinging tradition that has not been altered for centuries. This is an environment where you can really get into the spirit and sing out, and you don't need to worry about dwarfing another part, or embarrassing yourself with a missed note. There was no quenching of the spirit in this congregation.

And let this feeble body fail,
And let it faint and die
My soul shall quit this mournful vale

And soar to worlds on high

Shall join the disembodied saints
And find its long-sought rest
That only bliss for which it pants
In the Redeemer's breast.

And I'll sing hallelujah!
And you'll sing hallelujah!
And we'll all sing hallelujah!
When we arrive at home!

I just cannot quantify and classify the experience of sitting in a churchhouse with hundreds of likeminded people who all know the same hymns in four-part harmony and join their hearts in worship to the true and living God. Glorious. And the sound system was only used for the preaching. If they had had mikes on the congregational singing, the roof would probably have caved in.

I have friends who think we are odd for going to so many church meetings. After all, there is no nursery, no children's church, no Veggie Tales. The kids sit with us during each service, or else sit with their friends (in a nearby pew, within thumping distance, you understand), or with other older members they have become attached to (sometimes relatives, sometimes not). We attend three church services per day at these meetings (except the first night and on Sunday), and the sermons are an hour long (longer if there are two preachers).

All I can say is come and see. There is a spiritual quality to the worship and a love in the fellowship that cannot be explained in conversation, or even a blog post. Powerful. Even the children drink it in, though they may not understand every word. We could not stay for the evening service last night, and our girls were disappointed. Despite long hours of sitting still and paying attention, they enjoy these meetings.

I love to see the Lord below
His church displays Hi Grace;
But upper worlds His glory know,
And view Him face to face.

I love to worship at His feet,
Though sin annoy me there;
But saints exalted near His feet
Have no assaults to fear.

I love to meet Him in His courts,
And taste His heavenly love;
But still His visits seem too short,
Or I too soon remove.

O Lord, I love Thy service now;
Thy church displays Thy power;
But soon in heaven I'll to Thee bow,
And praise Thee evermore.