Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good-bye for Now

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

I am putting my blog-identity on the shelf and retiring my rss feeds. It has been fun and informative. I really enjoy keeping a blog and reading others, and will most likely take it up again sometime in the future. But retreat and introspection are in order right now.

I pray the Lord will bless you, my eleven faithful readers. :O)

On The Sea of Galilee

"Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee" by Rembrandt.

Or here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Special Guest: Nature Blogger

We saw a house finch and his wife in our elm tree today! I invited Cornflower to be guest blogger and tell about it:

Well, the man bird has a red neck and the girl bird is some sort of grayish. We thought that they were going to go to the nest that we had in our tree in the front, but they didn't. When I walked a little closer to see them better, they flew away to another tree next door (with lots of bees). I asked, "Do you think they'll take htat nest that we have in the tree?"

Mommy said, "No, they need a bigger tree."

And Now For Something You'll Really Like...

A rock concert by the Sci Girls (backed up by They Might Be Giants)

The Scientific Singers

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
Where Hydrogen is built into Helium
At a temperature of millions of degrees

The sun is hot, the sun is not
A place where we could live
But here on Earth there'd be no life
Without the light it gives

We need its light, we need its heat
The sun light that we seek
The sun light comes from our own sun's
Atomic energy

...Of incandescent gas...

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
Where Hydrogen is built into Helium
At a temperature of millions of degrees

The sun is hot...

The sun is so hot that everything on it is a gas
Aluminum, Copper, Iron, and many others

The sun is large...

If the sun were hollow, a million Earth's would fit inside
And yet, it is only a middle size star

The sun is far away...

About 93,000,000 miles away
And that's why it looks so small

But even when it's out of sight
The sun shines night and day

The sun is a mass...

We need its heat, we need its light
The sun light that we seek
The sun light comes from our own sun's
Atomic energy

Scientists have found that the sun is a huge atom smashing machine
The heat and light of the sun are caused by nuclear reactions between
Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Helium

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
Where Hydrogen is built into Helium
At a temperature of millions of degrees

by Lou Singer and Hy Zaret, 1959

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Heard Around The House

"Give me an occupation or I shall go mad!"

This is Cornflower's new favorite saying. (Virtual dark chocolate to anyone who guesses what movie it is from.) This quote goes well with one of her old favorite original lines: "But, Mommy, I haven't got any thoughts!"

Update: Queen Shenaynay guessed-- it was Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility. And the more accurate quote, as she pointed out, is, "Give me an occupation or I shall run mad!" It seems Cornflower had it right originally, but then her sisters corrected her incorrectly.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Reassurance for a Perfectionist

All of you who know me will understand this.

I love Homeschool Tracker.

I have been working with it for a little over a week now, and it is so reassuring to see the little portions of hours add up for each girl. When I begin to feel like we aren't getting things accomplished, I can just go to the "time spent" report and see that we are working hard, regardless of how far down the list we get.

I am always subconsciously worried about whether we are doing enough, whether we are gypping the kids by homeschooling them, especially since they are so far apart in age and abilities (three years' difference any way you measure it). Teaching three different levels has made me feel, even when we work hard all day, that if we don't finish the list we haven't done enough. We are still in Term One for two of the three Ambleside Years the kids are working through, and that has been weighing heavily on my mind, even though I know that AO is an intense program. Now I can see that the load may still need to be adjusted down for two of the girls, at least.

I started using Homeschool Tracker Basic (the freebie-- I can't believe they offer Basic for free, this is truly a blessing) as a way of getting my feet wet for serious recordkeeping-- I'm thinking of the need for transcripts for college, and decided to allow myself a year or two to explore, flounder and finally arrive at our way of doing things. At this point I am only tracking lessons, not grades or points, although I do plan to record Triss' Apologia and math scores beginning this week. I will probably record those scores alone for the next year at least. I am not in a hurry to learn to assign grades to her literature, history or writing studies-- Apologia and math are more objective and easier to score.

Initially, I worked for several hours to get everything loaded, but now it takes only a few minutes to mark assignments completed and print out the next day's assignments. I am excited to see how long it will take me to load up the new week's assignments, because I now have templates in place.

I will probably move up to the Plus program in the next two years. I don't know anything yet about lesson plans, or rearranging subjects and assignments for high school purposes. But at this point, these precious reports reassure this "anxious pendulum" that we are "doing enough".

(This post begs the question, "what is my definition of 'enough'?" Perhaps I will post about that next.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Kenya Update I

We heard from my Dad, who is in Kenya visiting with some brethren there.

They got to preach in one of the refugee camps. There were five hundred people in the camp, eighty-five of whom were children orphaned due to election violence. Dad said the poverty was unbelievable.

After the service was over, one of the men approached them and thanked them for coming, saying that in the camps they have all their natural needs met... what they need now are Bibles and spiritual food.

Dad said that he has never experienced anything like this in his entire ministry.

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father's throne,
We pour our ardent prayers.
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts and our cares.

We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be join'd in heart,
And hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way,
While each in expectation lives
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain
And sin we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
In all eternity.

Dictation at Our House

Mariel and Triss each have their own Spelling Wisdom book for dictation. This morning as they did their lessons, I was struck with the multitasking aspects of administering a fourth grader's and a seventh grader's dictation assignments simultaneously, and the absurd juxtaposition that sometimes occurs:

Triss: Okay, I'm ready.

Me: "Sherlock Holmes looked deeply chagrined."


Mariel: Ready!

Me: "Wash on Monday.."


Mariel: Wash on Monday, semicolon!

Me: "Iron on Tuesday.."

Triss: ...looked deeply cha...chagrined? I'm ready.

Me: "He drew a sovereign from his pocket and threw it down on the slab..."

Mariel: Ready! It's "mend on Wednesday," right?

Me: "Mend on Wednesday..."


Mariel: Okay! "Churn on Thursday, right?"

Me: "Churn on Thursday..."

Triss: "...threw it down on the slab..."

Me: "...turning away with the air of a man whose disgust is too deep for words."

Mariel: I'm ready.

Me: Where were you?

Mariel: I know the next part. It's "clean on Friday."

Me: Okay, "clean on Friday."

Triss: Ready!

Me: "A few yeards off..." Wait a minute. (laughter) "A few yards off he stopped under a lamppost..."


Mariel: "Bake on Saturday!"

Me: Bake on Saturday.

Mariel: How do you spell Saturday?

Triss: It's like satyr, only without a 'y'.


Triss: "...under a lamppost..."

Me: "...and laughed in the hearty, noiseless fashion which was peculiar to him."

Mariel: Ready!

Me: "Rest on Sunday."

Mariel: Period.


Thursday, March 06, 2008


Large Flakes

Feather Boy, Feather Boy,
Shake down some feathers from the sky...

It's snowing! The flakes are so big they literally look feathers drifting down to the ground.

Triss says if you look straight up, the flakes are like huge flocks of birds.

Mariel says it looks like millions upon thousands of tiny birds.

Wet Snow

Cornflower says the backyard is a snowglobe!

The weather folks are expecting three to five inches of snow by tomorrow morning. (I think it arrived this afternoon.) Unbelievable. It was in the 70s this past weekend.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Taste of Spring

A Taste of Spring

Dear March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat—
You must have walked—
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell!

I got your letter, and the bird’s;
The maples never knew
That you were coming,—I declare,
How red their faces grew!
But, March, forgive me—
And all those hills
You left for me to hue;
There was no purple suitable,
You took it all with you.

Who knocks? That April!
Lock the door!
I will not be pursued!
He stayed away a year, to call
When I am occupied.
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come,
That blame is just as dear as praise
And praise as mere as blame.

--Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Giddy Science Girl

Giddy Science Girl

Triss received Honorable Mention in the Chemistry Division II category at the regional science fair.

(Pictures and notes on her project are here.)


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Trip to Kenya

Very soon my Dad will be leaving on a trip to Kenya. An excerpt from his email on the subject:

Thankfully, last Thursday the opposing political parties in Kenya reached an agreement for power sharing. I received an email from [one of the Kenyan brethren] indicating the great relief and joy the people of Kenya have for the agreement. Hopefully this will end the violence and the wounds it caused can begin to heal.

They will be meeting every day with a group of men who may be called to preach the gospel, using their mornings for studying and their afternoons for church services with some of the various fellowships that have sprung up there. Their evenings will be spent in more fellowship and Bible discussion. (Don't you wish you were going? What a wonderful way to spend your days!)

He and another minister will be there two Sundays. They have received permission to hold their Sunday services in the city center, and expect a great turnout. The town they are visiting is temporarily home to quite a few of the refugees that have fled the violence in other areas, and the people he is meeting with are involved in relief efforts.

[One of the Kenyan brethren] has also arranged for us to visit one of the refugee camps to share the gospel with people who lost their homes during the post-election violence. This is particularly exciting since with the power sharing agreement many of these people will be able to return to their communities soon and hopefully, carry the truth of the doctrines of grace with them.

We hope that you will join us in praying that their trip is safe and edifying, and that you will pray for my family while my Dad is gone. We cannot keep from being somewhat anxious in an earthly way for his safety, but are so excited that he is being used by the Lord in this way.